Deep Within Your Sacred Space by Jan Amiss Photography
How often do you think to yourself: “I need to meditate?”
We’ve all heard celebrities going on and on about the benefits and I know you’ve read articles about mindfulness and how it can improve your life exponentially. But seriously, how often do you think, ” I need to meditate” Or “I need to listen to my inner voice. “
What does it mean to you when someone says to “look within” or listen to your “inner voice” and “inner knowing?” What exactly are you supposed to be looking within for? How will you know when you are within?
Not knowing what to look for or expect, sadly, are some of the reasons that keep many people from meditating.
We imagine that when we sit down to meditate, that somehow, magically all the chatter that fills our heads will subside and serenity will cascade over our senses. That we’ll plug into the cosmic ocean and become the all knowing, all loving person under all the mundane, messy parts that are all too familiar to us.
We imagine that it will look and feel like those new age images of rainbows and waterfalls making problems and difficult situations dissolve into the light.
It could be like that. That is possible, but mostly it isn’t and that is why we give up.
What I have learned about looking within or meditating is that at the beginning (and the beginning phase can be a long time, years even) it is about our relationship with our many selves, time, and death.
Before we go any further, let me ask you, what is your relationship to yourself these days? To the self that feels lonely? Or the self that doesn’t feel good enough? The optimistic self? Do these selves clamour for your attention? Are you kind to yourself? Do you listen?
How do you feel about time? Do you find yourself running out of time? Burning a candle at both ends? Are you living in the moment or watching as time flies by?
Last, but not least, our oldest and most faithful of friends. The only one, you can be certain, will be with you in the end: Death
These three aspects – our relationship to ourselves, time and death – influence the state of our daily consciousness. They may appear in different guises in our conversations but if we were to distill these conversations their signature would be very apparent.
When we meditate or look within, we are looking into ourselves. Invariably, we encounter feelings and thoughts about ourselves, we can either ignore or listen to these feelings. These thoughts and feelings are the ones that can and do disrupt our inner and outer life. They turn our world topsy turvy by inflating or deflating our ego’s narrative of what our lives are supposed to look like.
And because this narrative feels impossible to overcome, listening with an attitude of loving kindness is an apt approach to apply. The relationship to ourselves is a lifelong one, it influences all the other story lines we’ll ever experience, so we have to become good listeners, gentle guides and caring friends to ourselves.
Love, compassion, kindness and all the qualities that we seek to experience, including fulfillment, wisdom and prosperity – arise as by products of the process of looking within or meditation and our unfolding inner understanding.
That is what meditation or looking within offers. The possibility to become whole ourselves, make peace with disparate parts of our psyche, our past and blossom like that rare bloom of our dreams.
Meditation or mindfulness, practiced regularly and intentionally creates traction and momentum giving us much needed positive feedback loops. This in turn gives us inner equilibrium which allows calm, patience, and understanding to develop. We begin to recognize ourselves as beautiful, thoughtful, caring beings capable of generous and heroic deeds.
It is my hope that you enquire within regularly and that your inner voice speaks kindly to you and guides you home.
Image: Resist by Gayle Kabaker.
I marched in Santa Fe, NM as part of the Women’s march on Saturday. I saw people from different walks of life, but more than what I saw, I felt. I felt the positivity and community. I felt joy and I sensed people connecting, moving together for a greater good.
My heart had a different beat that whole day, fed by updates from family and friends all over the US and the world as they marched and stood up for their values and dreams.
The feeling of togetherness was very compelling and enlivening.
And then later that evening as I read my Facebook feed, I began to notice comments from Trump supporters. Some back and forth ensued and by the end of the evening, I was left with an ache in my heart.
I wondered should if I unfriend some of these people. To me, their goals and support of Trump’s policies seemed narrow-minded, uninformed and foolhardy.
I felt the division forming.
That night I did not sleep. I wondered what does it take for people to get out of their homes and take to the streets to support one ideology over another.
Perhaps the same feelings that brought us out to march may have been the same feelings that brought people to Trump rallies. Maybe those people felt fear for their livelihoods or felt they were overlooked or that their values didn’t matter?
Perhaps those celebrating Trump’s victory feel joy and freedom for the first time? Maybe they feel they now have a chance at having a good life?
Before I unfriend anyone, I want to understand where they are coming from and whether it is possible to live side by side. I am going to have to listen with an open heart and mind.
Often times when I’ve made statements similar to the one above, someone will invariably throw in something like: “Lol, sure, ’cause Hitler was defeated with hugs and kisses”
Listening with an open heart, being loving, extending kindness doesn’t mean we are passive or in denial of the very real suffering and challenges facing us. All that it means is that our starting point includes qualities that are important to us. Qualities that can help us bear the biggest differences between us, especially when those differences are borne out of fear.
When I listen to my own words deeply, I know that what I want comes from a place of caring for all peoples and a desire for the well-being of everyone. I know there are people on the other side who want this too.
It is my responsibility then to listen to my inner voice and connect to my inner knowing, the awareness within each us which augments our sensory input and reason with emotional intelligence, in order to better guide my thoughts, words, and actions; my responsibility, in other words, to listen to the voices and viewpoints of others.
You see, my voice, your voice, our voices and their voices can bring about the changes we madly desire and make this a peaceful planet with food for all, harmonious relationships and so much more.
It happens most effectively when we listen; when we know what’s in their hearts and minds too.
If you have stopped listening to your own voice or the voices of others, for whatever reasons, it is my sincere hope that you find the strength to revisit those relationships. If you need help taking those first steps, I am here for you. Book a free discovery session today.
Commit to changing yourself and your world.
We share 99.9% of our DNA with each other
Recently, my husband shared this tidbit : We have 99.9% of the same DNA. We are all close, close, close. Close as twins. 7.5 billion individuals genetically matching each other. All nearly the same, with similar hopes, dreams, fears and hostilities. Although there are obvious cultural contrasts, not one of us is that different from the other.
If that is the case: How do we want to interact with one another within this global family? What do we want to say to each other, all 7.5 billion of us?
On the other hand, there are more than three million differences between your genome and anyone else’s. 3,000,000 dissimilarities. We are so different. How can we ever know anyone?
That is the paradox.
We feel familiar, close and yet so far away from one another. In this place of near, when we are together – we can feel safe or suffocated by the proximity/likeness of others, or in the experience of far or apart – we can feel spacious or extremely misunderstood and lonely.
And it is here in the space between close and far that I want to sit with you today for a meditation; to recognize that we are one and many. Different and alike. Whole and part. Conservative and liberal. Left and right. The friend and the enemy.
To sit amongst contradictions as if sitting at the beach, peaceful and calm is what we are going to practice today.
Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to quieten. Listen to the sound of your breath in and out.
Now begin to notice the breath just before it enters your nostrils. Observe its composition. What is the air like before it enters your nose? Is it soft? Is it cold?
Next take your awareness to your lips. Place your top lip on top of the bottom lip. Gently, barely resting on the bottom lip – allow it to almost hover. How does it feel to place your lips on top of one another in this way?
Take another breath and close your eyes. And just as you did with your lips, close your eyes lightly resting the eyelids on their natural closing spot. What do you perceive?
Apply this technique of not being slumped or compressed together to all your body parts whether organs or bones, cells or neurons. Imagine them bearing no weight or pressure on any of the other body parts.
How does it feel? Does it make you straighten your spine or feel more spacious within your body? Do you feel light and airy? Do you like the sensations being this way creates for you?
Now watch your nostrils, lips, eyes, organs, bones and the way you are carrying yourself and imagine you can carry yourself very lightly, with very little effort. Imagine you can let go of the effort of this exercise. How does this feel?
Take a moment to breathe with awareness and when you feel ready, open your eyes and begin to move around the room being aware of the almost imperceptible way your body is stacked.
Look, smell, touch, hear and sense with effortlessness. As you move realize that even though there may be many contradictions in your life you can move with awareness and lightness of being.
If you find yourself becoming distracted return your awareness to the air just below your nostrils or your lips resting lightly one on top of the other and continue with the exercise.
When you feel complete take one more breath and find a place to sit. Contemplate what has changed for you since you started the exercise? How do the contradictions within you feel?
The more we embrace that lightness in our daily lives, moving our awareness away from slumping and clumping, the more unencumbered and present we can be in any situation, making it spacious and wholesome with our energy.
I know all this may sound rather simplistic in the face of the many complications and challenges facing us but I’d like to remind us that more times than not, simple is the way to go.
Look at water or the wind, animals or the light – all these elements and creatures they all move according to this law; they all find the simplest route to move forward.
Perhaps as we unfold into the potentials that simplicity holds we may find ourselves happier, clearer and more connected than we’ve ever imagined possible.
photo credit: Ofcom
I love technology; laptops, smartphones, tablets, and their A.I.s like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. What I don’t like is the hold they can have over all of us, especially our kids. I’ve noticed that they become almost obsessive in their efforts to get more device time.
In my household, we have an almost daily discussion/debate/fight over how much time my 8 year-old can spend on the devices. Even though we have set time limits, he will try to negotiate more time especially when his time on the device ends.
These discussions/debates/disagreements are not always pleasant and more times than not extremely frustrating for all of us.
I have started tracking how each of us in our household contributes to this non-productive use of time and what brings us back to harmony.
I feel at this stage of technology use, we need to get control over our existing obsessive tendencies if we are to have any hope of handling the next generation of devices.
Here’s some food for thought: we are now fully in the handheld stage and experimenting with wearables, and the cost associated with Virtual Reality has plummeted, making the experience of Virtual Reality affordable for almost anyone.
Augmented Reality is at our fingertips as well. The latter adds layers of filtered data and information between you and the world around you. The former blocks it out completely, replacing it with frenetic sensory overload.
If we can’t stop ourselves from focussing all our attention on the box in our hand, how are we supposed to break away from a virtual sensory experience so total and complete?
I would like to share 2 techniques to get us started on retaking control of our relationship with technology.
1 Open focus – after being on a device, whether checking Facebook likes or uploading Instagram photos or playing Slither.io open your focus, come back into your body. Do this sooner rather than later. Look around the room, notice colors, textures – connect to your environment through your senses and movement, and consciously shift the energy from being focused in your head/mind to the rest of your body. *With kids jump around, play tag, roll like a log on the ground to get the blood moving throughout the body.
2 Breath works – if you feel a pull to stay on the device or to keep checking every few minutes, or you have been working on a computer for a long period of time this breathing exercise is super handy to reorient your senses and reset your overtaxed nervous system.
This breathing exercise works well with kids especially if they are being particularly difficult (kids can be this way even if they haven’t been on a device).
Breathe in through your nose. Pause. Breathe out through your mouth. And here’s the trick – always make the exhalation longer than the inhalation. Even after a few breaths, you will feel yourself returning to sanity and with solutions.
Our future includes existing technologies and much more yet to come. We don’t want to avoid them because they provide great services to us and improve our lives in so many incredible ways.
That is their job.
It is our job to be vigilant and not disappear into the technologies like ghosts in a shell.
It is our job to be in the world and of the world; to enjoy life through the experiences our bodies create through our senses and awareness. It is up to us how much technology we incorporate into our lives. However much we do incorporate, let’s do it consciously and purposefully.
Thanks for reading. Now it’s your turn. How do you navigate your time on devices? Do you consider yourself pro technology or against it? Let is hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Bella and Bubbles. www.myrtlebeachsafari.com
As for 2016, it was a year that made us all wake-up, right?
It reminds me of a story attributed to the Buddha (aka Siddhartha Gautama) (SG) where he is asked by a Brahmin priest (BP): Are you a celestial being?
BP: A spirit of some kind?
BP: A human being?
SG: No, I am not a human being.
BP: Then, what sort of being are you?
SG: Remember me, Brahmin, as awakened.
I believe this story sets the table for the upcoming years and even lifetimes for those of us that want to be good human beings and experience the awesome gift that this life truly is.
Being awake has power and purpose.
When I’m awake, meaning not trapped in old patterns, dissociated, bingeing on real life dramas (news) or busy-ness, I feel fantastic. I feel even more electric and alive when I consciously disengage from being on automatic pilot and look at my surroundings taking in the colors, textures, sounds, temperature, rhythm and the hum of life.
Everyday objects and moments become precious, sacred and profound.
Everything resonates, sings and dances in its beingness. I feel belonging and wholeness. Gratitude and appreciation in every cell. So, it’s a no-brainer for me to commit to a practice of waking up/becoming aware/mindful as my starting point for creating peace and prosperity, health and wellness and all those lovely things that we all want when we dream big.
That’s how I want to approach 2017. Awake, filled with presence, willing and ready to be counted. My goal this year is to remain present and aware in the face of anything.
Want to join me? Here are some pointers.
- Go on an inner journey
- Become more mindful/ thoughtful
- Be of service to others
- Ask a lot of questions
- Breathe easily and deeply.
These actions lead to peace and prosperity but are only the beginning of that journey. The following are more involved
Become aware of cultural, political, social, religious, familial narratives that shape you as part of your awakening and become curious about what is dear to you and what you are loyal to further free yourself.
Unpack this little gem from Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, “The more you know, the less you need.” I’ve heard it said in other ways too: “less is more” for example. Could less be more for you? In which areas of your life?
Choose to make peace.
Connect to your inner light. Your light can come in the form of ideas, dreams, laughter, delight, magic, knowing, love and so much more. Flood your being with this light.
Freedom is an action, not a possession or state. Free yourself first. Engage, expand and energize your freedom.
Get to know your body. Make it strong in the way that works for your body.
Dare to love passionately – people, animals, plants, rocks, the planet
Tread gently on the earth
Now take it all apart – all of your ideas, thoughts, visions. Become Naked. Present.
Take some time for you today or over the next few days and give yourself the permission to experience new, continued awakened states. See what unfolds for you. Being awake can make us aware of attachments good and bad.
Being awake can make us feel alive and sensitive even in trying circumstances. It can also be a burden. Being present and aware means that you are present and aware for the good, the bad, and the ugly truth as it happens.
It can be uncomfortable at times, even painful, but it is important, because more than anything else, being awake allows us to choose consciously, effectively, and purposefully.
So, here’s to you, my friends and to our ever awakening hearts and minds. May they lead the way to our ever unfolding peace and harmony.