what's next in your life

What is Your Life Trying to Do With You?

There are special times in our lives when we can truly benefit from reflection and introspection. This may be at the beginning of a new year, following a loss of a relationship or job, or simply when we are feeling stuck or blocked from moving forward in our lives. During these times it’s easy to beat ourselves up for what we could have or should have done differently. We certainly can learn from the past, but putting ourselves down serves no purpose, except to hold us back from moving forward. So, we need to ask, what’s next in my life?

As the years move swiftly by, I find myself more and more aware of the finiteness of my life. I ponder questions like, when it’s all over what are the things I will be most proud of? Did I engage with the best of who I am? Did I love enough, laugh enough, give enough? Did I dance enough to my own music, or only follow someone else’s lead?

I do this review from the perspective of this moment forward. In other words, what is done is done. I can’t change the past. Nor can I program the future. But I can have a lot of influence on what’s ahead of me. I begin by asking what I really want, what it is that I most desire for my life.

Clearing the path

Mae & Jacqui When I recently – very unexpectedly – lost my 94 year-old friend Mae I’d been caring for, a wise friend said to me, “we are never prepared for the inevitable.” How true. When things are going along well we get set in our routines with the assumption that things will continue on for a good while longer. And then we are caught off guard. Sometimes this may be a dramatic change that didn’t even seem inevitable at the time, such as a relationship, job or financial loss. Whatever the circumstance a period of grieving and reflecting inward allows for the process of letting go, just as nature does, to provide space for new seeds to be planted and nurtured for future growth to blossom and allow for an opening of the pathway to what’s next for our lives.

I’ve recently been drawn to the word “vocation,” which comes from a Latin word meaning “to be called,” or “a calling.” This word may convey many things: an occupation or profession, a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career, a divine call to service, or the vocation of marriage and parenting.

While in the process of letting go of the old and starting anew it’s helpful to ask yourself what is your calling. What are you being called to do in this precious life you are living? How are you using, or how can you better express your gifts and talents?  Your deepest identity can be reflected in your calling. This can be revealed in what you desire most in life, what you care about, what moves you, touches you and what you are drawn to. This is not a selfish desire, but one that is filled with possibility, joy and delight.

There is a still small voice of our true self deep within that is constantly calling for our attention asking us to live from the fullness of our being. Clearing the channels to hear this voice requires us to uncover and move through barriers such as fear or heartbreak that hold us back from hearing this message.

Life doing you

Parker Palmer, an author, educator and activist, shares that a sure sign of a vocation is something so compelling that you “can’t not do it.” Rather than asking what you’re supposed to do with your life, he suggests asking, “What is your life trying to do with you?” This resonates with me, as I often have succumbed to callings I never guessed I would be engaged in – and later reflected on how it enriched my life or prepared me for something else.

Meditative and contemplative practices can be invaluable in helping us uncover our true reality and calling. Palmer suggests that contemplation can be anything we do that can penetrate beneath the ego and programming of our life and help us touch reality. This can be experienced in everyday life: anything that can help us become more awake, aware and alive, and help you notice when feelings of joy, love and compassion or empathy are present.

As I let go of one of my callings of caring for my beloved Mae and prepare to welcome in what’s next, I plan to listen more to that small voice inside and focus more on the things I “can’t not do.” How about you?

I invite you to attend my free iRest meditations on Sunday morning or Thursday afternoon.

greek-hero

Your Life: a Hero’s Journey

Though you may not think of yourself as a hero, you do play the starring role in the story of your life journey. It’s a story you’ve been composing since you took your first breath – maybe even before. Many supporters have acted as guides, teachers, and mentors to help and inspire you along the way. Some may also have provided their idea of how you should live your life and the path you should follow. But ultimately, it’s your story, your life, your journey that required you to make difficult choices and carry out heroic actions to bring you to the chapter you inhabit presently. Continue reading

clearing out the old

What Autumn Teaches Us

Once the autumn harvest passes, nature goes through the process of housekeeping.  Making everything bare, it lets go of its abundant creation of spring and summer in a final grand display. As aging leaves fall to earth, they enrich the soil to promote next year’s new buds and new harvest. The end of the growing season marks a turning inward and a falling away of outer-direction energy. The lessons from Autumn is for taking time for clearing out the old.

This energy shift offers us, more than in any other season, the opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Autumn returns us to our essence, moves us to eliminate what we no longer need and reveals what is most precious in our lives. Autumn’s mission is to clear out the old and the negative.

Nature offers insights on our own cycles of creating and letting go. Trees in autumn don’t hold onto their leaves because they might need them next year. Yet how many of us hold onto what we’ve generated or collected—old magazines and clothes, decayed relationships, old or negative thinking—and defy a natural cycle?

How can we hope for a harvest next year unless we cut back the old and start fresh.

Lessons of Chinese Medicine

As a holistic body-mind approach, Chinese medicine believes that autumn holds the energy of the metal element. The emotion associated with this element is grief. Whenever we experience loss, separation and “letting go,” we naturally feel grief. Grief helps to cleanse us of what is no longer needed in our lives. When our internal metal energy is blocked or imbalanced, we may find it difficult to let go of grief—or be unable to express it.

The colon and lungs are the organs associated with the metal element. Their overall function is to take in, assimilate, utilize and eliminate what is unnecessary or toxic from our body, as well as from our mind and spirit. Yet the daily onslaught of “garbage” we ingest and assimilate in the form of negativity from the world can cause “constipation.”

In autumn, nature squeezes out the juices within life forms. In hibernation, energy is stored to handle the cold winter. Metal helps us to conserve energy, store necessary nourishment internally and pull together resources for creating and reaping the future harvests of our lives. With fewer hours of sunlight to energize us, we too must learn to contain and conserve our energy during the dark time of year.

Letting Go, Letting In

clearing out the old.There is more to this season than “letting go.” It is also a time to take in the pure and the new. The lung, the other metal organ, grants us the inspiration of fresh breath, as on a brisk fall day when you fill your lungs with clean, crisp, cool autumn air. In classical Chinese medicine, the Lung is described as “the receiver of the pure Chi from Heaven.”

Letting go can be a frightening prospect. But, just as the trees let go of the past year’s leaves and Nature has something new in store, the ending of one cycle gives rise to the next.

Nature abhors a vacuum. When we clear out the things that no longer work in life, or serve our higher purpose, we have the opportunity to invite harmonizing energy in the form of new people and opportunities to enter.

Begin by discarding stuff you no longer need or does not serve your higher self. Donate, sell, dump, or circulate what might be of value to others. As you let go of things, do a mental inventory of old hurts, habits, beliefs and assumptions that linger in your consciousness and use the breath to help you with the process of letting go.

clearing out the oldJust as metals give value to the earth (gold, minerals, crystals and gemstones), the metal element within us gives us our sense of self-worth. Each of us is a miracle of creation, more valuable and special than any object we could ever pursue. We each have a unique and priceless contribution to make.

Get in sync with the rhythms of autumn. Change your mental diet. Breathe in autumn’s energized and purified air. Exhale old negativity, impurities and pain from your body, mind and spirit. Contemplate who you are without these old identifications.

Create a new personal story with your authentic self as the heroine
and ride the effortless wave of the “new you” into the world.

Need help in clearing out the old? Join my free iRest meditation groups held weekly on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons where you’ll find space to rest and explore this further.

navigating change

Liminality: Navigating Change, Life’s In-Between Spaces

We’ve all had this experience:

inbetween spaceThings are moving along in a natural progression. Life is good. Then something happens that turns your whole world upside down.  You may feel overwhelmed, confused, or you may feel euphoric. Perhaps you’re not sure how you feel. You’re navigating change, and you’re in a state of liminality.

Navigating Liminality can be challenging and requires great courage.
It can also be a time of deep inner reflection.

Rites of Passage

navigating changeThe word liminality, originally coined by anthropologists, referred to various rites of life passage. The root is the Latin word, “limen,” meaning “threshold.” It’s the crossing over from one state to another, as in the space between wakefulness and sleep.

A change of place, social position or age can precipitate this condition. Liminality has three stages: 1) Leaving where you’ve been or experiencing a loss 2) Passing through an ambiguous stage 3) Emerging into a new realm with renewed resolve.

Life passages are often celebrated
through formal rites or rituals.

In an indigenous culture, an adolescent moving into adulthood performs a vision quest to find himself and his intended spiritual and life direction. In modern culture, ceremonies are performed for graduations, engagements and weddings. One’s entire life is recognized and honored at a funeral or memorial service.

Often these events are led by elders, shamans or clergy. They help guide us through these transitions, offering wise counsel and encouragement to pass through the liminal threshold for what lies ahead. Wise guides are not always present for our passages, though.

Navigating loss

navigating change“Who are YOU?” asked the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present –at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

~Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Some life changes come about through an unexpected circumstance or catastrophe. There is little, if any, time to prepare. Whether experiencing a natural disaster or a personal loss, we can never know how we are going to feel or react. This can be the most challenging liminal state of all.

Losing a loved one, even when it is inevitable, creates a void and can leave you feeling empty.

When my mother died, I felt like an orphan. As I dwelled in the liminal cave of healing, I began to rethink who I was and what was my purpose in the world. With the help of a strong support system, I emerged at the other end inspired and with a huge amount of creative inspiration and lust for life.

Loss of a relationship can be a blow to your self-esteem. Thoughts like, “what did I do wrong,”  “I’m not navigating changeloveable”, “I’ll never find another”, appear and cloud your mind.

When this happened to me a few years ago, I made the decision not to take it personally, trust that it was for the best. Beating myself up or holding anger served no healthful purpose. I’d been through other losses and always bounced back. I needed to forge a new path. A surprising healing takes place over time for most of us, especially those with a strong support system.

Job transition

With job loss, however, the longer one is without a job, the more likely one’s liminal period can include anger, depression and loss of self-esteem. A plummeting sense of self-worth can paralyze.

Yet, this can be a real opportunity to reevaluate your life. Examine your gifts and talents and uncover your true passions. Discover how you want to live the next chapter of your life. I have led many people in transition through this process.

Transformation

A liminal period can be life-transforming – for better or worse It may be short or long-lived, even permanent.

Sometimes people drop out of society. Some vow never to be in relationship again, living with anger, guilt and resentment. Some accept jobs at less pay or status. Others heal, seek new relationships, start businesses, and re-enter the social whirl in a new form.

This can be an opportunity to step back, to review your creative foundation and life purpose. A time to test your potential.

I move into liminality every time I begin to write these articles. I may think I know what I want to say. Then, through research, introspection and extemporaneous writing, new ideas emerge and flow onto the page.

Inner work of navigating change

Liminality can be the rich soil to grow creative ideas,
a new road to travel or even a new identity.

IntentionOur lives are constantly in flux. We’re absorbing new information, reflecting on the past, aspiring towards the future. Discomfort with transition can cloud our perspective. Anxiety and fear may try to divert us. Know it is just your fragile, threatened ego trying to block change.

Liminality can be taken into meditation where you can step back and reflect. Watch your mind, your thoughts and feelings. See problems as objects floating inside your head based on your perceptions, not who you really are.

Invite the ego to sit in your guesthouse of awareness, while you explore with openness the vast potentiality available to you. Explore the liminal space between thoughts, between breaths. This clears the pathway to commune with your Source where truth, peace and love reside, bringing you to a place of wholeness and enabling you to reenter the world anew.

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told where I must go and who I must be…….but this is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here.”Adventures of Alice in Wonderland

Welcome liminality to help you decide where that will be. ~ Namaste

Join my free iRest meditation groups held weekly on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons where you’ll find space to rest and explore this further.

Sprouting

Let Go: Processes for Starting Anew

Read also “Let Go and Start Anew

One of the best cures for ruminating over loss and disappointments is to for-give (before giving). The process of forgiveness ultimately brings you back in harmony with the good feeling state you experienced before the loss – before the hurt enveloped you. This isn’t necessarily about forgiving the act or person or business. When you forgive the person, entity or force behind the act, either in person or from a place deep within your heart, where compassion resides, the ruminating energy is released. Hurt, blame and anger can dissipate, especially when you forgive the number one person – yourself. You then have the opportunity to channel that energy along life-giving paths. This is true freedom.

forgivenessPowerful processes to help you forgive include breathing and candle gazing. Every time you find yourself ruminating, breathe and with each exhalation mentally or verbally say, “I forgive.” When you gaze at a candle, visualize the melting wax as your letting go, forgiving and surrendering to the reality that is. You may even want to precede this by vigorously pounding or punching a large stuffed pillow to release pent-up emotions.

When do you know you’ve done enough forgiveness work?
When there is nothing left to forgive.

The choice of life

Change is the one thing that is assured in life. It’s part of the nature of all things. Nothing ever stays the same. While pain may still remain, you can choose to suffer and allow your spirit to die, or pick up whatever good that remains forge a new path and create something new.

Life is a precious gift we’ve been given. The courage to move on is a choice, as well as our responsibility for taking up space on this planet.

Part of this choice is to learn to not make assumptions, nor take things personally. You may or may not ever know the real truth behind other people’s actions, nor can you assume you do. You become free when you accept what happened, honor their choices and know that nothing others do is because of you. What others say or do is related to their own reality, not yours.

Embrace transition

The gift of change is that it allows you the opportunity to become more in touch with the “Real You” and reintegrate the various parts of who you are. It’s a chance to become more whole. When you let go of past attachments, you can rethink your life’s work, love, place and purpose.

Reflect on the lessons you have learned from your loss. What would you do differently in the future? Ask questions about all the things that are missing in your life, not just your recent loss. How would you like your life to look? How do you want to feel? What dreams have you put on hold? What are your core values? What provides meaning for you in life? Where are your passions?

With such questions, listen for the answers. Now you have the freedom to choose, not just fit in or copy others. What’s unique about you?

Refind your smile

When you let go of the enormous weight of past hurts, your spirit canStarting anew lighten up. Engage with “nutritious” people, people who feed your soul rather than just your needs. Find people and groups that make you feel whole and help you grow.

To rekindle joy, find ways to laugh again. Watch comedy shows and movies. Find a yoga laughter club, or spend time with a young child and allow your inner child to engage in playful activities. Move your body to further release stuck emotions. Seek out body-centered activities like hiking, yoga and tai chi. Go dance your booties off!

Connect and rekindle

What goes around comes around in life. Everyone experiences loss and everyone can start over. Know that you are not alone. Connect with your inner spirit, Source, God, Universal Consciousness. Soon the growing energy of Spring’s season will support you in rekindling your spirit, and you can start anew!

Are you ready to Let Go and Start Anew?

Contact me for a complimentary telephone session: Jacqui@HarmoniousPathways.com, 847-359-6391.