What Lights You?

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It is just a few days now till we experience the shortest amount of daylight, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. And this year, it will occur within about two-and-a-half hours of a new moon — talk about dark!

Solstice coincides with holy days that inspire us to kindle lights — Hanukkah menorahs; Christmas lights on trees, houses or in windows; Kwanzaa candles; wood burning stoves and fireplaces lit for warmth, both literal and communal.

There is also a drive to be lit from within. To know what really lights us up and then act on that. It can be as simple as a cup of your favorite tea and a book, or as complex as creating packages and delivering them to shelters and food banks as you move through overly full days.

This season can be harsh, even in its directives to be merry and happy. Some feel the loss of loved ones more acutely as gatherings are planned. Some don’t have large gatherings to attend and wish they did — others feel pushed to attend parties and celebrations when they’d rather be home hibernating.

It’s rarely as straightforward as it seems.

This week, I urge you to be the light that you seek. Let the prompts below become a beam that will lead you through this darkest, most sacred time.

Prompt #3 — What lights you from within? How can you cultivate and spread more of that light, in even the smallest ways? Are you happiest offering it to others, or is there a deep comfort that comes from holding it and basking in the glow of your own sweet fullness?

Are You Cultivating Kindness — For You?

Tree of knowledge growing out of book
The more I spend time teaching lovingkindness meditation, the more awed I am at human beings. How we think, how essentially good we are, how hard we can be on ourselves, how many difficulties life throws in our path.And still we show up. We persevere. We help, we heal, we nurture. We strive to be better people.

What’s really amazing to me is how kindness grows and spreads when it is cultivated. It lives within us, and yet it sometimes is hard to access — especially for ourselves.

Imagine a garden where the ground got tilled, seeds got planted, and then…nothing. No watering, no weeding, no pruning or deadheading occurred. Sure, you’d get some tomatoes and cucumbers, and the zinnias would still bloom.

But your garden would not thrive. Your harvest would not reach its full capacity. There would be a lack of fullness, lushness and thriving.

We Really Are Not So Different

There’s a lot that we can live with and endure, but that’s not the same as thriving. You can be a basically good, kind, warm person and still beat up on yourself, still take things hard and suffer “the slings and arrows” of life.

Which is why cultivating a practice of lovingkindness, self-love and self-care is so important. Not as shoulds, but as acts of deep connection, witnessing, support and love. And there’s no better place to start than with you, for as one of my favorite teachers puts it, “Life is so difficult, how can we be anything but kind?”

After all, you watch the cooking channel to pick up tips on technique and bring them into the kitchen, then share the yumminess with family and friends. You play lots of games of Words With Friends and begin to see ways to make more points using less letters. You pick up five pound weights to strengthen your biceps and feel greater ease in carrying groceries.

So too, the active practice of compassion and lovingkindness will strengthen the muscles of your heart and soul, allowing you to offer even more of your essential goodness to the world.

How will you cultivate kindness for yourself today?

Stop Saying That!

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Recently I read an article that really stuck with me, on women and how our word choices can unwittingly undermine our power. It stuck in part because I’ve already been working on eliminating certain words in my writing and speaking — particularly these two words I’ve used more than I care to say.
 
Two simple, seemingly innocuous words: just and actually.
  • As in “I just want to ask you something” or “Can I just show you what I wrote?” It is word of diminishment, as if what you (or I) have to say or show is barely worth the other person’s time and energy.
  • As in “Actually, I think this is a better idea” or “I don’t actually agree with that.” Why not just have a better idea or not agree, no modifier needed? How would it feel to state what you believe without trying to convince the other person that they should “actually” pay attention?
Think about a time when you felt moved to speak up about something. Whether it was a big idea at work or a small request to your spouse, how did you convey your message? It doesn’t necessarily need to be a confrontational situation; it could be as simple as needing a hug and asking someone you love directly. “May I have a hug?” versus “May I just have a hug?” Feel the difference? {Just, of course, has several meanings. I’m referring to the aspect of the definition that means almost; possibly; perhaps.}
Don’t Be Sorry, Be Certain
 
It is language like this, or automatically saying “sorry” when someone has bumped into you, that ekes away at you little by little. It’s rarely conscious and may seem too minor to bring into serious discussion, yet it works on the psyche like water on stone — slowly, incrementally, we let our power slip. We don’t take ourselves seriously and therefore others won’t take us seriously when we want them to.
Start to notice when and how you are using just, actually and sorry. Are you justifying taking up space in a meeting? Are you apologizing for something that doesn’t require it, like moving past someone blocking the aisle in the supermarket? Most of the time these words pop out automatically — this is an invitation to be more conscious and claim sovereignty over what you know, who you are and how you take your place in life.
Can you remember that you know what you know, and then express that? The language you use to frame your ideas absolutely makes a difference. Come into your knowing, claim the space you inhabit and practice not equivocating. I’d love to hear about what you experience HERE.

Who’s Holding You Up?

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True confessions time: recently I had slipped into a place of feeling disconnected from any sense of true direction and clarity. It’s painful when that happens, on several levels. I can have plenty of clarity for my work with other people, but when my personal compass goes wonky it’s not easy to recalibrate it on my own. This echoes one of the first things I ever heard from my Kabbalistic healing teacher: all healing happens in relationship.
So earlier this week I reached out for help and had a reading with a wonderful intuitive healer. And one of the things she asked was if I’d been calling on my spirit guides for support.
GULP…this is an area that I don’t usually talk about, and often actually forget. I tend to be the type who’s not only a fiercely independent do-it-yourselfer, but who keeps it pretty simple. I tend to focus on mindful awareness and lovingkindness.
I may ask for help from the larger Mystery, but I don’t usually tune into specific beings or angels or guides for support. It’s not that I don’t believe they’re there; it’s more that it feels a bit lame or weak to always call on them for help. Or I simply forget that such energetic guidance exists.
Oh…my…goodness. What I’ve really forgotten in those moments is that it’s more a point of strength than weakness to remember that I am not, in fact, alone. The greater truth is, the container of existence in which I am held offers more support than I can even take in.
 
Have You Met Your Guides and Angels?
 
Perhaps you’ve experienced the sense of a presence when you walk alone and fall into a rhythm that attunes you to the natural world. Maybe you have a regular meditation or prayer practice, yet wonder where it’s landing when your words go out into some large, vague container.
Here’s the funny thing I’ve learned about spirit guides and other supportive disembodied beings — they’re around us all the time, just waiting for us to ask for assistance. To the logical, objective mind, it can feel like we’re just making this stuff up, or a little bit crazy, or both!
But when we relax into remembering that we are part of a larger matrix of life-force, magical things can happen. The first time I had this experience at a meditation intensive decades ago, I was astonished by the palpable feeling of being surrounded by loving beings as the teacher invited us to connect with our guides. And it still astonishes me every time. because as I said, I often forget to ask…<insert chagrined grin here>
If this has been your experience, I encourage you to take the time to tune in and open to receiving support once again. And if you’ve never done this and think it sounds cuckoo, I encourage you to try it anyway. It may bring an unexpected sense of having something solid and reassuring to lean into. Even if you are just making it up, it still feels better than struggling alone.
After all, the Talmud tells us that every blade of grass has an angel urging it to “grow, grow!” Why wouldn’t the same be true for us humans?
Here’s to your growth and spiritual support…

 

Where Do You Sit On The Wheel?

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There are many images of the Wheel of Life, from the simplest one with spokes to this elaborate Tibetan tangka. And it’s such a fitting image, as our days turn and turn in varying states of complexity, and often at a distressingly dizzying pace.
The phrase “sit in the center of the wheel of your life” came to me in a sleepy reverie yesterday morning. It woke me up and made me reach for pen and paper to jot down all the thoughts that cascaded from that single image. Here’s what came out:
 
Take your seat in the center of your own life and let your wholeness ripple out. Who are you at your core? What do you stand for in this world? What do you know, believe or trust that is hidden and wants to come out? Are you prepared to shine your light without fear — or shine out despite your fears? What will it take to truly trust your essential goodness, beauty and fundamental OK-ness? Dive into the center of the wheel and begin…
 
WOW. I know that this is my journey and I suspect it may be yours as well…
 
From what I hear, a lot of us feel as if we’re living somewhat left-of-center of our own lives. Pulled out this way toward others’ needs, that way towards food or shopping to fill a void that isn’t even fully felt or understood, off to the south where the weather might be warmer or to the east where exotic wisdom resides; if you looked at your life as a wheel, how would your ride feel? Bumpy or smooth? Off-kilter or stable? Confidence-inspiring or nerve-wracking?
 
Take A Breath and Turn Towards Smooth Pavement
 
Do you have a sense of what it would take to regain balance and steer away from the bumpy terrain? You might think the details of your life won’t allow for that, but perhaps you can clear the pathway a bit more than you realize:
  • Maybe you’re caregiving a loved one and are so used to doing it all yourself you forget to ask for help. Ask.
  • It might be time to hang up your superwoman cape for a while. Let the people who are capable yet depend on you fend for themselves more often. You’re still a nice person.
  • When was the last time you took a day (or even half a day) just for you? To take a long walk with no destination, peruse a museum, linger over tea in a cafe or bookstore? Put something into your calendar that you’ve been putting off, and do it soon.
  • Did you used to have a nurturing spiritual or physical practice that has fallen away? If you used to dance, crank up the music. If you love to walk, grab your sneakers. If you love to chant or meditate, take your seat on the cushion or open your mouth and sing from your heart. 
Within the phrase “live in the moment” is a reminder that every moment is an opportunity to heal and to begin again. This isn’t just New Age, spiritual fluff — this is the absolute truth of reality. Life can change in an instant. What will you do the moment you’re done reading this to seat yourself firmly in the center of your life?

Have You Claimed Your Sovereignty?

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What does it mean to claim sovereignty over your life? There are many definitions, some having to do with claiming power over others…but the ones I relate to and am using here are: enjoying autonomy; superlative; of the most exalted kind. When you claim sovereignty over your life:

  • It doesn’t mean that you no longer show up for others. It means you show up with a cup you’ve already filled with your own goodness.
  • It means you know the value of spending quality time with yourself, nurturing your inner muse and inviting her to play in the realms that light up your soul.
  • It means being willing to have others feel disappointed because you’ve staked a claim on serving yourself first (kind of like that air mask/airplane thing, only not just in moments of absolute panic). Even if that looks as small as taking 15 seconds to breathe and center before picking up the phone when you see it’s your kid/spouse/parent.
Being sovereign doesn’t come easily to most of us. Oh it seems like we are doing what we like (at least during our “free time”) and that we are the ones running our own show (after taking care of the kids/spouse/parent/dog/cat/gerbil). But are you truly in alignment and at peace with each part of your being, each nuance of mood and response to outer influences?
 
Sovereignty is an inside job. 
 
It’s a series of moment-to-moment decisions, awarenesses and actions. It is sometimes seen by others as selfish, and not supported by the dominant culture even while it is touted in ads, movies and media outlets. We admire people who take a strong stand and go against the grain as individuals, like Julia Butterfly Hill living in her tree — we just don’t always know how to be that for ourselves! And it doesn’t have to look that dramatic.
 
One of the main keys to this kingdom is meditative awareness. Building a sustainable meditation practice is akin to building a life raft — it will take you to distant, unseen shores and keep you from going under when the waves get rough.
 
There are many ways to build this raft and make it one that supports you. And there are many master builders from which to learn. Who are some of your favorites and what tools have you gathered that help you keep yourself afloat? 
 
You may have lots of tools and still not be reaping the most effective ways to use them, or feel like you don’t have any tools at all. I’ve been in both camps and can totally relate! If either of these applies, I hope you will consider joining me for this *free* class.
Meditation for Women: Why It’s Different, How to Make It Work For You
A Free One-Hour Teleclass…Learn More HERE 
  • Have you tried to meditate but felt you just couldn’t get it? 
  • Does it seem like something you ought to do because you’ve been told it’s great at reducing stress, only to feel more stressed out because you couldn’t empty your mind of thoughts?
  • Do you feel like you were born without the meditation gene (as one student described it)?
Meditation can have a huge range of flavors, textures and colors. And it’s as natural as breathing. You’ve most likely been doing it for years without recognizing the power or knowing how to harness it as a force for good in your life.
 
So many women have been asking about meditation in the past few months. And my own practice has shifted and deepened because of some new information I’ve discovered.
 
Join me on Monday, April 28th for this one hour tele seminar, guaranteed to shift how you experience meditation. Find out more and register by clicking HERE.

Have You Met the Angel of Possibility?

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This morning I met the Angel of Possibility in my meditation. Now, despite the image above, I don’t really believe that angels have wings (although some might). They are more like specific densities of energy that have unique flavors and evoke different feelings.

So here’s how it happened: just after dawn, quiet and content from watching the sunrise through our big east-facing window. Candles lit, essential oils infusing my cells with Valor, Joy and Highest Potential (if you’re curious, you can find out about them HERE), mouth still savoring the taste of barely sweetened organic earl grey tea.
It was one of those meditations when my mind was fairly still, and when it did float off into thoughts, they were small — though not insignificant — and didn’t drag me down into any whirlpools or float me up into the clouds. I was in my body, with my breath, and became aware of a very distinct presence.
And the presence brought thoughts like “it’s time to offer more meditation classes” and “you can delight and inspire students by bringing in ______ and ______.” They landed with softness and brought me into a deeper sense of union.
The tightness I’d felt yesterday as I struggled to make contact with others (a major phone tag/missed connection day) was gone, replaced by the sense that anything, truly, was possible — as long as I showed up from this quiet, inwardly congruent place.
I believe we all have angels that are aching to be be sensed and acknowledged. They exist to support us and remind us that we are truly never alone. The Angel of Possibility is one. The Angel of Tenderness is another. They are countless, more than I could ever be aware of — and I suspect you know some of yours, even if you haven’t hung out with them in a long while.
 
As it says in the Talmud, every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow!”
So, take a moment right now to turn away from your screen, breathe deep into your belly, and invite your angel-of-the-moment to whisper what you most need to hear. I guarantee she’s waiting.

 

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