I am enough

I Am Enough

Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW wrote in “Rising Strong,” “To embrace and love who we are we have to reclaim and reconnect with the parts of ourselves we’ve orphaned over the years.” Those orphaned parts are stored in the library of our false beliefs of lack and limitation, feeling separate. Judging and comparing ourselves, our bodies and the lives we live to others all have the common root of “I’m not good enough.”

In this meditation we will select books from this library of not enoughness and open to deep inquiry and the opportunity for integration into the authentic being and wholeness of “I am enough.”Continue reading

Sleep better, Sleep deeper

Sleep Better—Sleep Deeper

Sleep is essential for all aspects of health, according to neuroscientist Mathew Walker, author of NYT best seller Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Sleep is vital for maintaining immune system, cardiovascular and reproductive function. It helps improve memory, psychiatric disorders and neurodegenerative decline and prevent cancer. Yet, according to a National Sleep Foundation survey (in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and Japan) at least 50% of people don’t get sufficient sleep (7 hours or more) on weekdays. If you routinely get 5 to 6 hours of sleep your body, mind and well-being are paying the price. Sleeping longer on weekends doesn’t replenish your sleep deficit.Continue reading

Keeping Love alive in the darkness

Questions to Consider in a New Year

Beginning a new year, it’s customary to reflect on our desires and create intentions and resolutions we wish to fulfill in the coming year. For some of us a new chapter of our life is eager to unfold and goals are being called for to charter the course. I rather believe this process can be likened to waking up out of a deep sleep as we do each morning. For each day offers us new possibilities, hew horizons and opportunities to restart anew.

Whatever deep desires we may hold for our lives, we are not alone in this world. Everything we do affects the world around us, as it does us. We are not separate from one another, but interdependent. This interdependent nature calls for cooperation with one another. As you form your intentions, I invite you to consider your impact on the world around you. The following poem may offer some guidance in the process.

At the top of this post, you are welcome to be guided into a live recorded meditation to help you with this process.
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New Year's Blessing - 2023 - Larry Robinson

New Year’s Blessing

May this poem and blessing enlighten and inspire you as you venture into a new year. With wisdom and grace, Larry Robinson’s poem holds many contractions and heartaches of our world with wisdom and grace.

At the end I offer you a guided year-end meditation from a recent live group session for you to gather your own year-end reflections.

New Year’s Blessing

A year of loss and chaos draws to a close.

Stories from a thousand cultures remind us that the cosmos is born – and reborn again and again – from chaos.

We have passed the darkest night of the year but the light only returns slowly.

The old order has passed as well but the new is not yet apparent.

Life does renew itself and new forms emerge as old ones pass away.

It has always been this way.

For all the misery of the past year, we have also seen astounding acts of beauty and courage and generosity.

This liminal space we inhabit is a time to dream, to imagine and to plan.

There are times when seemingly small acts can have out-size impacts.

I believe that we are in one of these times – actually a hopeful time, a time of possibilities.

Cynicism is as perilous a path as naïveté.

Hope is a choice, not a feeling; we create it through our actions and through our words.

At this turning of the wheel I invite and challenge you to dream grandly of the world you wish to bequeath, to proclaim it proudly and boldly and to join with your brothers and sisters to take the practical steps to make it real.

Remember that every act of kindness bends the arc of our shared life toward love.

Unhurried mornings, greeted with gratitude;

good work for the hand, the heart and the mind;

the smile of a friend, the laughter of children;

kind words from a neighbor, a home dry and warm.

Food on the table, with a place for the stranger;

a glimpse of the mystery behind every breath;

some time of ease in the arms of your lover;

then sleep with a prayer of thanks on your lips;

May all this and more be yours this year

and every year after to the end of your days.

Larry Robinson

One more poem to reflect on from Angela Farmer, a gifted yoga teacher who lives on an island in Greece.

              The Necklace

 

She gathers up the shattered pieces 

From those dark and dusty corners   

              of her past.

 

She strings them on a thread-

            as long as her life

And touches each one in the soft moon light . . . 

 

All the pains and fears,

           All the loss and failures

She arranges amongst the pearls of her beauty,

    the diamonds of her friendships

    and the sparkling gems of her success in life.

 

Yet in her woman’s heart,

She notices . . . 

        those broken pieces glow more deeply-

        those broken pieces glow more deeply.

 

Lovingly she ties the string around her neck. 

Culativating an Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude Meditation 
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n positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Why? Because gratitude can help us experience more positive emotions and better able us to relish good experiences and even reduce symptoms of depression. It also can improve our overall health, help us better deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. While this research is relatively new, the principles have been a part of human being’s traditions for eons. This is particularly true in many of the world’s faith traditions, as well as indigenous peoples, such as our own Native Americans who truly practice an attitude of gratitude as daily practice.

Learning from past traditions

I write this in the week of Thanksgiving, which is traditionally the time we take pause to give thanks for all we have harvested during the year – goals accomplished opportunities ensued and people who made a difference in our lives. Yet going back in time the first Thanksgiving was celebrated after the first harvest and attended by 90 Wampanoag Native American people and 53 Pilgrims (survivors of the Mayflower). Having always lived close to the Earth, Native peoples must have understood the great hardships the Pilgrims had endured. They could teach the newcomers how to live with the land and the changing environment.

I recently read of how Native Americans have always had a tradition of expressing gratitude in all their gatherings. Unlike most of us, I am very intrigued with how broad they cast their gratitude. Whether for a council gathering or of family they always begin with a ritual of giving thanks. They believe they have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things.

Bringing minds together as one

They start by bringing their minds together as one as they give greetings and thanks to each other—so their “minds are one.” Then they proceed to thank what they refer to as their “Mother the Earth” for all it’s bounty. Thanks for the waters to quench their thirst and nurturing life to all beings. Thanks for the fish, plants and animals, and for medicinal herbs for health and healing. They give thanks for the trees and beautiful songs of birds. Each day without fail the sun travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day providing the source of life and the moon that governs the movement of tides. Finally, they thank their ancestors and the very source of creation itself.

Author Daniel Defoe’s famous 300-year-old novel, “Robinson Crusoe,” provides a portrait of how gratitude can enhance one’s life. Crusoe is the sole survivor of a shipwreck in which he finds himself alone on an unknown island. Rather than falling into despair and focusing on loss and regret, Crusoe begins to count his blessings. He’s alive and has been able to salvage many useful items from the wreckage. Thus. thanksgiving becomes a part of his daily life.

Ways to cultivate gratitude

Gratitude is a way for us to appreciate what we have instead of always reaching for something we lack. As we learn from native peoples, there is a whole world—much of which we take for granted—to  be thankful for. Some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis include writing a thank-you note and keeping a gratitude journal. Meditation and prayer produce positive healthful hormones. Even thanking someone mentally produces can do the same.

Whether we are inspired by fiction, native peoples or our faith or family traditions, gratitude is an essential ingredient for living a healthful  and engaging life. It involves both receiving and giving. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is like a growing a currency from which we can never be bankrupt. The more we feel it and express it, the more deposits in our master gratitude account, canceling out facing “notes” of regret at the end of our life.

Join me now as we cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Check our my free classes:

iRest Meditation and Hanna Somatic Movement–a gentle movement practice to release pain and enhance mobility.

Your passions

iRest: Loving Kindness

iRest Loving Kindness Meditation.

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The attitude of Loving Kindness is oLoving Kindnessne of the pillars of the Yoga Sutras and Buddhist teachings. I invite you to rest back and experience this heart-based iRest meditation focused on connection, communion and tenderness towards all sentient Beings. This includes ourselves! Enjoy being guided in this 35-minute iRest practice into your loving spacious essence.

 

Feel free to listen, download and share these imperfect, unedited, live iRest practices recorded during my weekly group sessions.  I trust they will benefit all of us as we navigate times of uncertainty and change. 

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Carefree Mindlessness vs Mindfulness

Are You Dancing with Mindlessness or Mindfulness?

Mind like popping cornWhat were you thinking about before you started reading this? Do you ever notice an obsessive chattering inside your head when you’re not totally engrossed in something? Your mind is like popping corn, jumping from one thought to another. Mindlessness is pervasive in our culture. At times, most of us have functioned on autopilot, as though we were sleepwalking, not paying much attention to anything but the endless dialogue in our heads. Continue reading

texting

Relationships that Really Connect

Social has become quite the buzz word. But what does it mean in today’s digital world? Social media presents a myriad of opportunities to connect with friends, relatives, business associates, and the world at large. Photos and snippets of one’s everyday experience “go viral” every day. Texting is a new abbreviated language that requires neither correct grammar nor punctuation. But social has a vastly different context when it relates to our true happiness and well-being. Continue reading

Stressed woman

Ease Beneath Your Stress

When storms of stress flood your life, the tendency is to build physical, emotional or mental barriers to keep the stress floods at bay. Like sand bags holding back waters, these barriers may seem to do the trick but only for the short run. Inevitably new challenges arise causing the need for even stronger barriers. Over time, sharp emotions may surface, self-limiting beliefs may abide and relationships suffer. The body may correspondingly react with stiffness or pain, or develop chronic health issues.

During these times, it may be difficult to believe that there is any part of you that is healthy, at ease, where you feel safe. Yet there truly is this ease at your very core and you can learn to ease beneath this barrier of disharmony and access a deeper sense of ease at any moment.Continue reading

welcome your emotions

Welcome Your Emotions: The Language of Your body

We live in a culture that stresses suppression of emotions. Don’t show your tears or welcoming emotionsyour anger. Hold it all in – and be nice! Yet, emotions such as anxiety, anger and sadness are not truly unhealthy in and of themselves. Our emotions provide valuable information. Welcoming your emotions and learning how to decipher their code and language can lead us down the path to wholeness.

The body offers emotions as messengers, signals that something is not quite in synch with our needs, values, or inner drive for fulfillment, to contribute meaningfully, connect with others, and so on. By welcoming these emotions, and asking questions, they can share information to guide us to something we need to know about our health and well-being.

As we learn their language and heed their message, we can then learn to live with them, and use them to help us make better life choices, while being free of their potential negative impact on our body and mind.

Of course, there are positive emotions, too. They also need to be questioned; for example, we need to examine our euphoria as we indulge in luscious desserts or buy another new outfit. However, we are going to focus on the emotions that contribute to feeling bad and stress that causes pain and suffering.

Managing stress

Stress itself isn’t really the problem. It’s how we handle stress that gets us in trouble. At an early age we taught ourselves how to handle stressful situations. Based on our core beliefs,welcoming emotions our subconscious is automatically triggered by words, language, actions or circumstances around us. Perceptions and judgments arise along with a whole chain reaction of thoughts, sensations, feelings and emotions.

Often emotions seemingly rise up for no apparent reason. Yet, there is always something that triggers them, whether from your external environment or inside you.

One way to address this is to pause whenever you notice that you are feeling discomfort, distressed or depressed. Take a deep breath and ask yourself what you were thinking or doing before the feelings arose, or what happened around you. Creating this awareness can help you consciously work things out or make the appropriate changes in your thinking. Each time you pay attention to these triggers you’ll begin to experience a release of the negative emotion or feeling more quickly.

neurocircuits 2What you are actually doing is re-wiring neuropathways and brain patterns that you unwittingly formulated long ago. The good news is that modern brain science tells us that the brain has plasticity. No matter how old your brain, you can change these patterns and eliminate the reactions to previous stressors.

The body can hold memories of stress stored over time. For many years my job involved a lot of phone work. This was before headsets. Over the years muscle tension accumulated in my left shoulder, neck and ribs. Even after I started using a headset, my body automatically positioned itself as it had learned to do. A pattern was ingrained within my body and brain. One day I realized what was happening and moved the phone to the right side and consciously worked at retraining how I held my body.

Welcoming emotionsThe body and mind also can hold memories of a traumatic event or accident. This is referred to as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We frequently hear this term in reference to rape victims, people living through natural disasters and war veterans. It’s estimated that up to 20% of today’s returning veterans have some degree of PTSD and 30% for Vietnam veterans, many who continue to suffer today.

Embodied emotions from the past

Many years ago, I was at a friend’s home and accidentally chipped a ceramic piece. The friend said not to worry as her husband could repair it. However, the next day she phoned me extremely angry about the incident and the fact that “you didn’t even say you were sorry.” Following that call the emotions poured out of me. I suddenly had a flashback of being a little girl playing with a little porcelain tea set that I broke. My mother, bless her heart, was an ‘emotional spanker’. When she discovered what I had done – she became very angry and punished me. I now know my mother was doing the best she could based on her challenging life. But, at the time, I simply felt ashamed that I wasn’t a perfect little girl for her.

While my experience can hardly be compared to those who have experienced war or disaster, I was reliving a traumatic experience. We all experience mini traumas early on that can come to haunt us into our adult life if not nipped in the bud. To this day, the words “I’m sorry” are expressed like a knee jerk reaction whenever I “mess up.” But more and more I feel compassion, for myself and others who may be reacting.

Engaging mindfulness to welcome emotions

I’ve worked for many years with military veterans, mostly men from the Vietnam era, facilitating a guided meditation called, “Integrative Restoration, iRest.” Research has shown this modern adaptation of the ancient practice of Yoga Nidra to reduce the effects of PTSD, insomnia, chronic pain, and more. I am so proud of the dedication of the men I’ve work with who, after only three months, experienced many positive effects.

drop in waterOne of the hallmarks of the iRest protocol is to welcome emotions, as well as sensations, thoughts and beliefs that show up. We’re not trying to change anything. Rather, by welcoming and learning to be with the emotion or belief, the nervous system and the brain begin to return the body to its natural state of well-being and equanimity.

Positive and negative emotions

You can use your positive emotions to help combat the negative ones. In the iRest protocol we welcome emotions by feeling into each emotion and where it shows up in our body. We do the same with an opposite emotion followed by feeling back and forth between opposites. Finally bringing both together neutralizes their impact, restoring the body and mind to natural calmness.

Many factors impact how our body experiences emotions – foods we eat, exercise, the thoughts we think, and our inner exploration can play a role. Mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, being in nature, and recreational activities all can contribute to a healthy functioning of our brain, mind and body.

Balance and Harmony

As a former dancer I love moving my body, and often take a break to just move spontaneously with music or in silence. I recently led a workshop with female veterans, many who have the added impact of sexual assault issues. The workshop is called, “The Joy of Being in Movement.” This playful, expressive and guided meditative movement and body exploration experience provided them with a great outlet to express and release the emotions of the child within.

Our bodies, in synch with our brains, are constantly seeking a state of balance and harmony. We only need to tune into its channel and heed its life-enhancing message.

I invite you to attend my weekly iRest meditation classes when we get more in sync with what’s important in our lives.