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A friend from my SomaYoga Teacher Training shared this from one of her friends in our online homework forum:

Mindfulness asks us to awaken to life (not always pleasant or easy) and self-compassion comes in to help us cherish ourselves during this awakening.

inner buddha

I’m struck that, with the goal of awakening, we’re often taught to empty ourselves, to clear our minds, to become still, silent, vast, spacious. It’s no wonder that some part of us rebels!

Yes, we need this calming of the mind, this inner quiet and emptiness—but it is not the be all and end all of spiritual enlightenment. [Gasp!]

We also need the cherishing, the compassion, the love of Being.

Our True Nature is both. Our lives need both. To be complete and whole, we need both.

We need to live in the world, without believing all the thoughts of our minds, open to spaciousness and clarity.

And we need to LIVE in the world, with our hearts and bodies alive and brimming with juicy passion, desire, authenticity, strength, love, and, oh, so much more!

This is the real measure of our awakening—living our realization with mindful awareness and compassion. With our True Mind and our True Heart online. With the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine guiding us.

When I live from this place, I know what I want, what I love, and I am sweet and compassionate with myself when I can’t have it, or when I behave less than skillfully. I have practices that support Quiet Mind and non-attachment, and I have practices that grow compassion and love. My practice actually affects my life, making me a more real, authentic, compassionate, contactful, clear, and awake human being.

I must bring my realization off my mat—whether it be yoga, tai chi, meditation, prayer, or any other practice—into my real, lived life.

What practices support you in developing both awakeness and compassion?
What fruits of your practice do you recognize in your lived life?

If you would like some support in integrating your practice into your life, I’m here for you!

This, too.

Practice Loving Kindness

Practice Loving Kindness

Kindness, compassion, unconditional friendliness… What do these words evoke in you?

Of course, it’s good to be kind to others. It’s good to be a compassionate person, to be friendly…that’s what we’re taught, by our parents, at school, in our faith traditions, by our culture. Being a good person, a nice person, an appropriate person includes being kind.

But what is kindness? And what does it mean to be kind?

  • To do kind things for someone?
  • To say kind words?

What if we aren’t feeling or thinking kindness?

There’s something to be said for practicing kindness whether we feel it/think it or not.

  • But if we only practice kindness toward others, we’re missing something.
  • We may never really feel what we’re doing/saying on the outside if we are not also practicing kindness for ourselves on the inside.

This is the place we need to start. With ourselves.

Are you kind to yourself?

  • Think about the last time you did something you wish you hadn’t—it could be something small like unintentionally hurting a friend.
  • How did you treat yourself?
  • Most of us have learned to judge ourselves in some way: “Why did I do that?” “Messed up—again.” “What’s wrong with me?” “I shouldn’t have done that.” Or maybe something much stronger…
  • Is that the way you would treat your friend or a child?
  • Is it kind? Is it compassionate? Is it friendly?

Meditation teacher Tara Brach has a beautiful book called Radical Acceptance in which she describes another possible way of living that includes learning to accept rather than resist (judge, ignore, deny, etc.) our experience.

Accepting our experience is the ultimate act of kindness.

I’ve been playing around recently with one of her practices, which she refers to as “This, too.”

  • When I unintentionally hurt a friend, I breathe and sense my body and heart and say “This, too.”
  • Just by saying “This, too,” instead of moving into a habitual judging or doing response, it gives me a pause.
  • What is this “This”? What is my experience from causing hurt? What is actually happening in my body, in my heart?
  • Perhaps I feel fear or sadness or disappointment…How does that sense in my body? What are the actual sensations and where are they showing up? …This, too.
  • The mind will have a lot of ideas about this and may want to jump in with stories or judgments about me, about what this means, about what to do… I don’t need to try to stop those—that’s futile anyway! I simply keep returning to how I feel in my heart and body when these thoughts arise. …This, too.
  • I might notice that from staying with myself in this way, some feelings of closeness with myself, of welcoming myself, of being friendly with myself arise. …This, too.

This is being kind to myself. This is accepting my experience in the moment. And this is what will organically lead me into heartful, mindful action if needed.

As Tara says, “All that matters on this path of awakening is taking one step at a time, being willing to show up for just this much, touching the ground just this moment.” (p. 324)

As I practice this at various times during my day, I feel softer, gentler, more aware of what is actually going on inside me, creating a sense of intimacy with myself. This, too.

Then when I’m kind to others, this kindness feels congruent. It arises from a place of knowing kindness with myself. My inner and outer experience reflect each other. Kindness is real and truthful. This kindness ripples into the world. This, too.

May we all practice loving kindness.

If you’d like some support practicing kindness, I’d be honored to accompany you:

grounded & growing

Jizo and Scilla-rszdBring it on!!

After a long Winter of inward time, of resting and dreaming, I am READY for the greening, the new life, the new possibilities of Spring!

In my backyard city garden, the lettuce is up, the peas are just beginning to poke their curious heads out of the ground, the chives are gathering together in a clump to stay warm on still chilly nights, and the garlic, having overwintered, is raring to go, shooting upward toward the sun, which will be much less once the trees fully leaf out… I have also planted kale, calendula, and morning glories, all of which can handle some cool nights and even the bit of Spring snow we are getting today!

Spring energy can feel exciting and revivifying, waking up all our senses from a more inward-turned attention. Yet even as I eagerly breathe in Spring’s fresh nourishment, this new energy can also feel overwhelming and challenging to my comfortable (read “habitual”) way of living—my habits, the ways I know myself…

I may need to undertake some Spring cleaning, inside and out. And like the plants emerging from the earth, I must be willing to meet what is in my growth-path, willing to be changed, while at the same time sensing how to stand firm as I emerge into the new light of Spring.

How to do this?

We can remember to turn inward, sitting quietly and breathing into our deep roots of inner contact and ground. We can practice slowing down, listening, receiving our own inner wisdom as a way to ground in ourselves as we meet what is in our path. See this Breathing Practice for support, too.

In this way, we can emerge into Spring confident that the soul roots we continue to grow will support us as we step out into the newly forming world, trusting that we can lean back to connect with our steady ground as needed to keep our balance.

If our seeds have been sheltered wisely and received true nourishment, they are ready to push up and reach out of the dark, cozy holding of the earth, into the growing light and warming air. Life is opening again, in the world around us and within our souls.

Deeply rooted in ourselves, can we meet whatever we encounter along the way with interest and curiosity? With a desire to open to and learn
from the unfolding of this fresh, new life?

To practice grounding and growing, I invite you to join me at my April 26th The Way of the Happy Woman®: Spring Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat. It is almost full! :) I would also be happy to offer you a free Discovery Session to check out if my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching is a fit.

fresh life vision 2013-crpdFeeling musty?
Need to be aired out?

It must be Spring!!

The warmer weather, the buds and birdsong, even the gentle rain (finally!) call us out, outside into the fresh, new air.

It’s time to declutter.

  • Your heart…
  • Your home…
  • Your energy…
  • Your life…

How do I want to feel? What are my core desired feelings? (An invitation from creativity maven Danielle LaPorte.) Brainstorm all the ways you want to feel and then narrow it down to 3-5 core desired feelings. How can you bring more of that into your life? How can you process any anger, fear, or grief to make room to align your life with your core desired feelings? Be simple. Focus on that and don’t get distracted…

How do I want my home-nest to support me? What changes are needed to bring in Spring? How can you freshen, renew, revitalize, clear, and clean? What brings you joy, comfort, and life? Keep that and let go of the rest. Start a giveaway box or a bag in the attic or basement and routinely put things in that you aren’t using and anything that doesn’t contribute to a home that feels supportive and fresh.

How do I want to live? What food will nourish me and make me ready for more outside time, more movement, more energy? What relationships will support my healing, growth, and expansion? What activities will enliven and nourish, my life energy? Be ready to really look at this and choose for you—for your life, your healing, your growth!

It’s Spring! Choose life, choose vibrancy, choose freshness, choose lightness!

Create some open space in your life to invite in the new, the unknown.

Make space for growth.

Make space for newness.

Make space.

Space for Spring to enter in…

I’d love to support you in inviting Spring to enter into your life:

stirrings…

Kuan Yin and snow resizeStirrings.

Urges.

Light slipping through the curtains.

Birdsong.

The familiar undercurrent of other lives.

The vast, unfolding of time.

It’s morning. Morning. Morningtime.

Greeting the day. Entering the day.
•    I choose how I wish to be.
•    I choose how I wish to feel.
•    I choose how I wish to live.

thank you god for most this amazing day… (e.e. cummings)

Waking up this morning I smile, twenty-four brand new hours are before me, I vow to live fully in each moment and look at all beings with eyes of compassion. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

I surrender the day now beginning. May I live in love. May I be in love… (Marianne Williamson and me)

Breath opens.

Body stretches and releases.

Hands land lightly.     On heart.     On belly.

I am here.
•    In this body.
•    In this bed.
•    In this life.

In this morningtime.

Like Spring, morning is a time to begin again.
•    With a new day.
•    With a new chance.
•    With a new perspective.

How will I live into this possibility?
•    With habit?
•    With rushing?
•    With openness?
•    With love?

With awareness.         With curiosity.         With compassion.

I can bring these to any day, no matter how full.
•    A being that is awake.
•    A mind that it interested and open.
•    A heart that is gentle and soft.

Morningtime = Springtime
A chance to begin fresh.
A chance to begin clean.
A chance to begin simple.

A chance to return to what is most true.

You.

Me.

Being here.

Practicing and awakening together.

How can you consciously craft your morningtime to welcome
the possibility of a brand new and fresh day of living?

I’d love to support you in this with my 3-hour The Way of the Happy Woman®: Spring Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat on April 26th and/or with my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching.

Cracking Open

Buried Seeds by Mark Nepo

All the buried seeds
crack open in the dark
the instant they surrender
to a process they can’t see.

This innate surrender
allows everything edible
and fragrant
to break ground
into a life of light
that we call Spring.

As a seed buried in the earth
cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth,

neither can a heart packed with hurt
imagine itself loved or at peace.

The courage of the seed is that once cracking,
it cracks all the way.

MovementIt’s late Winter and especially in the North, we are yearning for Spring—for more sunlight, for more opening, for new growth, inside and outside…

Wintertime offers us the space to surrender, to return to our inner ground, to gestate our bodysoul’s wisdom so that we can soften enough to crack open and be ready for the invitation of another Spring.

Spring is almost here—at least here in Minnesota, the Spring Equinox is almost upon us! Spring Equinox is midway between the longest night of the year, at Winter Solstice, and the longest day of the year, at Summer Solstice. This year, the Spring Equinox occurs at 5:45 pm on Friday, March 20th. On the morning of the Equinox, we will have a solar eclipse with the moon covering up the sun, blocking out up to 98 per cent of its light. And the evening before, the Earth and Moon will be as close together as they possibly can be, giving rise to a so-called Supermoon, but because it’s a New Moon, we will be lucky to see the hint of a very large sliver in the sky.

Here in Minnesota, Spring suddenly blew in for a week so that we are finally consistently above zero and even melted! Even though more seasonal temperatures are coming in now, we are officially dreaming of Spring. Everything that has been underground, that has been composting and preparing for new growth, within and without, is getting ready to break ground into Spring’s new life.

Nature can be our teacher in this process of cracking open. Many plants have been dormant all Winter, hibernating, their energy pulled back into their roots or stored in seeds. Others literally died and returned their fragile plant bodies to the earth, where they mixed with other surrendered plant bodies, and dissolved into the ground becoming compost. Now these plants—both the dormant ones and the dissolved ones are getting ready to regenerate and send forth new growth—sprouts that will turn into plants that might bloom or even bear fruit come Summer and Fall.

We, too, have had a chance to surrender, to return to the ground during Winter, to let ourselves dissolve and re-form. We, too, have been like buried seeds, surrendering to the dark unknown possibility of cracking open. From this darkness, from this openness, deep wisdom can arise, which Spring invites us to put into form in the world.

So, this is the time to get ready to nurture your soon-to-be sprouting seeds. To prepare for the regeneration of your energy, for the sharing of your vision in the world…

What seeds are buried deep within you? What is yearning to come alive in you? What wants to arise from the compost of your life, to be re-formed and lived into this year? What new learning or new growth might sprout from the regenerative compost of your suffering? What has been cracking open, ready to sprout and come into the new life and light of Spring?

Choose one thing you’d like to nourish, to nurture like a new seed, just beginning to reach toward the surface of the earth. How can you fertilize the soil so this new part of you can begin to grow? How will you tend this seedling—what support and nutrients does it need? What practices do you need to put into place to assure mindful, steady growth? You can get some ideas from my Tips & Practices page as a starting place.

Remember, no matter how dark your Winter has been, no matter how unknowable the new life of Spring feels, there is at least one seed within us that wants to grow and awaken and come into greater and deeper contact with Life, that wants to crack open all the way.

Listen to that. Trust that. Nourish that.

If you’d like some support listening, trusting, and nourishing your seeds, I have some upcoming opportunities for practice: Thursday, March 26th Survive or Thrive Workshop; Friday, March 27th Singing Meditation; and Sunday, April 26th Women’s Half-Day Retreat. I would also be honored to support you in a 6-month individualized program of Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching.

This is Part II of a 2-Part Series on Love for the month of February. Part I explores how essential it is to say Yes to Love in relationship. This second post focuses on practicing Love. Although originally written for dear friends whose wedding I officiated, and, thus, about the personal Love relationship between two people, everything here applies to Love in any relationship—with yourself, with your friends, with your family, with an animal friend, with a partner, with the Beloved. Read the poem that inspired this exploration.

Practice Loving Kindness

Practice Loving Kindness

Saying Yes to Love also implies unconditionality.

I practice Love which is not dependent on whether or not…

  • Dave remembers to put the toilet seat down,
  • Or brings out the garbage,
  • Or pulls the sheets off of me to his side of the bed in the middle of the night.

It’s not an “if” you do this kind of proposition!

Even if he hasn’t done something I had hoped for, I still look at him and say “I choose you.” I still say Yes to Love.

Because saying Yes to Love is choosing to live a life that is worth living.

When I say Yes to Love, I open myself to something greater than my limited understanding—

  • To the possibility of both of our growth and transformation,
  • To the mystery of the depth and breadth of the heart,
  • To this moment of limitless possibility.

In order to do this, we have to be willing to feel and allow everything—

  • The old wounds that will get retriggered by our partner,
  • The shame of doing the same unskillful behavior over and over again as we try to learn a new one,
  • The pain of not being able to open our hearts in the moment,
  • The suffering of being stuck and unable to see our way through,
  • As well as the amazing joy, gratitude, and bliss of Love.

For feeling is the language of the heart. And sharing these feelings with our partner is the language of intimacy. It is Love saying Yes. It is saying Yes to Love.

So, I encourage you to say Yes to Love every day, every moment, every chance you get. As Gregory Orr encourages us in his beautiful poem:

Later for “but,”
Later for “if.”

Now
Only the single syllable
That is the beloved,
That is the world.

Yes. May we always choose to practice Love.

What are some concrete ways you practice Love?
With yourself? With others?
How could you deepen your practice?

Read Part I of Saying Yes to Love.

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