One Deep Conscious Breath

Eckhart Tolle’ reminds us to remember to take one conscious breath in order to help shift us out of an unconscious state and into the now.  It really is such a simple, profound and easy practice that can be done anywhere any time. 

“Shift into the now…”

What he is saying is take a breath and become fully present.   This means becoming aware of your inner body and how it feels.   This focus brings you powerfully into the present moment the now and quickly shifts your state.  Thinking especially ongoing or incessant thinking can be very draining and anxiety provoking so it’s great to have a tool that is so efficient.  

Here is how it works. Close your eyes and to move your attention within.  With practice you will see it’s possible to easily move your attention inside with your eyes open.  Take a deep breath and become aware of your physical body and the subtle pulsation of energy that lets you know you are alive.   I like focusing on the feeling of my lungs fully expanding with air and then on the exhale fully releasing the air.   It easy for me to notice the energy moving through my body because the breath amplifies it and my focused attention  makes it even more pronounced. 

“…sit with this awareness”

Everyone is different and some of you may have difficulty feeling the energy right away.  Don’t worry if this is the case simply become aware of the energy in your hands.  Close your eyes and notice that you are aware of having hands even when your eyes are closed and you can’t see them.  This is the feeling that I want you to pay attention to as you take a breath.   If you have time to sit with this awareness even for a minute,  by the clock, a few times in a day you will notice a  significant change in your energy.

I know it doesn’t sound like much but it’s like hitting the reset button because for one minute you unplug from whatever you are doing and simply allow yourself to be.  You will tap into the stillness that you naturally are that is always here but covered up by thinking and monkey mind.  It also  exercises and strengthens a new muscle that helps you to discern which thoughts, if any,  would you like to entertain.  You naturally move into your true position with your mind where  your mind is of service to you rather than you being of service to your mind.  

“…it’s like hitting the reset button”

The next time you are feeling bogged down try taking a deep conscious breath or two.  You may just find that inner peace and stillness is right there available to you any time.

Resist or let go?

Resistance, tensing up, saying “no” to what is or “no” to what is unfolding in the present moment.  We do it all the time when we don’t like, can’t deal or don’t want to face what is happening now.   I’m sure you know what I mean.

Sometimes we don’t know we are resisting but checking in with the body can reveal that tension is building. I guarantee it is playing out somewhere in your body.   Is the jaw or shoulders tight or painful?    How about your abdominal muscles or low back?   These are some very popular places where the body holds or braces itself against something undesirable.

We are taught that feeling good is more desirable than feeling bad but lets face it that isn’t how life works.  Everything will come at you; the good, the bad and the ugly and our job is to stay as clear as we can in the midst of it all.  

It’s good to keep in mind that resistance doesn’t actually do anything in the world. It doesn’t actually stop anything from happening.  What it does do is cause suffering.  The present moment will persist whether or not we resist it or flow with it. 

I love the spiritual teacher Michael Singer who wrote the book The Untethered Soul.  In it he says that you can become adept at noticing when the process of resistance kicks in.  He says, when you feel the body tense up make a conscious attempt to relax it.  Take a breath and let go and allow all the feelings to move through you.  When you do this the energy doesn’t build up in the body and cause physical or emotional suffering.  When you allow it you express it and feel it fully.  Then when it’s done it’s done instead of adding to the accumulated energy you are releasing it.  

Here is a quote from the The Untethered Soul:

“The Stuff that holds you down periodically rears its head.  When it does, let it go.  You simply permit the pain to come up into your heart and pass through.   If you do that, it will pass.  If you are sincerely seeing truth, you’ll let go every time.  This is the beginning and the end of the entire path – you surrender yourself to the process of emptying yourself.   When you work with this, you start to learn the subtler laws of the process of letting go.”

The part that takes some practice is noticing when you are beginning to resist because often we are caught in habitual behavior and initially it’s easy to miss.    Gradually you begin the process of freeing yourself and after a while you’ll notice that the body isn’t holding in the same old ways. 

What isn’t talked about a lot is that our accumulated baggage can weigh us down so much that we can’t see the world as it is, rather, we see the world as we are.  This can be a problem when life throws you a curve ball or tests come your way.   When you are consciously letting go you will just feel better in every way.   Just a small bonus for all your time and attention!  

The old saying what you resists persists should really say what you resist causes suffering in your body and mind…but it doesn’t have to!


Facing the Void

Facing the void is similar to what is referred to as a dark night of the soul. Don’t worry its not as ominous as it sounds. A dark night is generally regarded as a time of great personal challenge when everything seems to be lost.  It’s as if there is a cloud hovering over head making it feel like the sun will never shine again.    It is a time of struggle and challenge where we can feel  tested repeatedly and as soon as one lesson is learned another one arrives on its heels. It is experienced alone and often no one else can relate to what you are going through and you must continue with your usual responsibilities and daily activities.   Some people can spend much of their lives in a dark night and it is believed that these souls have incarnated to learn, grow and evolve very quickly.

“…it is believed that these souls have incarnated to learn, grow and evolve very quickly.”

I have never been alive for a time where collectively we are experiencing what I am calling facing the void.     I’m calling it this because there are certain things about this time that are very different than the afore mentioned dark  night.  Right now there is an emptiness  and uncertainty that is looming and everything has stopped.  This is a collective and personal experience and we don’t know when it will end or what our world will look like when it’s over.  Our everyday routines and jobs have evaporated or changed drastically.  The streets and highways are empty and stores and businesses are shuttered and we all know what PPE is and we are wearing it!!!

“the very nature of life is uncertain.”

I’m wondering about the benefits of facing the void.  To not know for a while.   After all when we get right down to it the very nature of life is uncertain.  We can make plans but they can be wiped away in an instant.  We don’t like to think about the fact that we are not really in control.  When we really think it through life itself is impermanent and fleeting and especially as we get older the days, weeks and months seem to fly by.  

“Sometimes I thought I would be overwhelmed by the feelings.”

Oddly, part of my spiritual path has been about contemplating death.  I know how this sounds to most people.  All I can say is that I didn’t choose it.  For  some reason having to contemplate the certainty of death was something that chose me.  Initially it was a real bummer and very scary especially as a fairly young woman but going through this has been one of my most valuable life lessons.   Some times I thought I would be overwhelmed by the feelings.  Just when I thought I couldn’t take it I would have a powerful realization or learning that would make it all worthwhile.  For me it was my long dark night and a void that I couldn’t avoid but had to go through.

“we learn how to fly.”

During this time I met a spiritual teacher, Andrew Harvey, he wrote the book and coined the phrase “Spiritual Activism”, and I asked him what to do and how to deal with the knowing that our time is limited;  that we will all come to the same demise and this is the inevitable truth.   He said to me, “you can either get lost in the sadness and depression or you can dance.”   I’ll never forget it and he pointed me to something very important.   Am I going to wallow in depression or am I going to laugh, sing and dance with whatever time I am alive?  Trusting that life is an adventure that we can not predict.  It will twist and turn and surprise us over and over again.  

 When faced with the inevitability of the unknown and we don’t have solid  ground under our feet this is when we learn how to fly.  We learn essential skills for living a truly fulfilling and happy life when we face and go through what feels like the unfaceable.  We don’t learn this when we are living out our everyday lives unchallenged and comfortable.   It’s the extraordinary challenges to our very sense of self, our security, our routines that expand our knowing of who and what we really are.   It’s true what they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  It really does and we won’t go there unless we are forced to.

We are so much more than we consciously know and life offers us a profound opportunity for this learning.  

This crisis is our once in a lifetime opportunity and I am hoping we can embrace it as the powerful teacher that it is.  

Is lasting change possible?

Will lasting change happen as a result of this pandemic?

Several people have asked me this question over the last few weeks.  

Everyone at every stage in life is effected and everyone is experiencing some degree of loss and sufferring.  It is this kind of challenge that spurs the deepest spiritual growth.  It is not something that we would willingly choose because we are pushed outside of our comfort zone.  

We can’t wiggle out of this one.  In other words, there is no way we can change it. It is out of our control.  The situation has to run its course and until it does we will have to find inner resources so that we can get through this.    

If you are in a lot of fear I recommend taking all the  practical steps that you can to help yourself.  Use all the tools at your disposal like unemployment, mortgage assistance and any other program that might be available to you now.  Make sure you have food in your house and other essential supplies and don’t go out if you are vulnerable or dealing with health challenges.  Most importantly ask for help if you need it.  We are all going through this and we are in this together. 

After you have done these things the best thing you can do is take it step by step and day by day.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  Your mind will always conjure up the worst case scenario.  The hard part about this is that there is no way to fight a projection of your mind.  It isn’t happening now so there is no way to effectively deal with it.  When you are faced with a situation in the moment you will know how to act.  Think about it for a minute.  Have you ever faced an emergency like someone you love getting hurt or a having an accident?  In the moment you jumped into action and many people report that they didn’t think it through they just intuitively knew what to do. 

Eckhart Tolle’ talks a lot about this in his work.  Stay in the now because there is no way to deal with a thought about a possible future problem.  You can only deal with it now.  Then he recommends once you become aware that your thoughts are causing you suffering come into your body and sense your inner energy field.   This brings you quickly and easily into the present moment.  First close your eyes and feel the energy in your hands it might be subtle but with practice you will be able to feel it.  When your eyes are closed you know that you still have hands and you know that you still have a body.  I know it sounds simple but it is an excellent way to take your mind out of troubled thinking and into the present.  It is also a very healing and restorative practice because you powerfully interrupt a negative and draining habit.  

Closing your eyes and feel the energy inside your body.  Practice makes it easy, enjoyable and restorative.

The other thing I want to mention is a concept Pema Chodron talks about a lot in her work called Maitri.  It is a Buddhist term that that means unconditional friendliness towards yourself.   If for some reason you can’t focus on your inner body or it just doesn’t resonate for you try meeting your feelings differently.  We don’t know why you are having theses strong fearful or anxiety provoking thoughts and feelings but meet them with love as if it were a young child coming to you for comfort.  It’s amazing how quickly this can quiet the internal storm.   No matter what you are thinking or feeling imagine you are hearing this story from someone that you dearly love and show that same love, understanding and acceptance to yourself.  This is a practice that reaps immediate rewards because you let go of the internal fight. You can’t have a tug of war if no one is on the other side tugging back.  

I love the idea of unconditional friendliness towards ourselves.  We rarely treat ourselves with such compassion and yet we require ourselves to meet others this way.  This becomes truly possible and less effortful when we practice Maitri.  When we can bear our own suffering we are more able to bear the suffering of others and the world and this is how change takes root.    

The Rise of the Feminine (and she’s pissed)

The Rise of the Feminine (and she’s pissed!!!)

Just kidding,  kind of…

Seriously we are being thrust into a new way of being and change is happening all over the world whether we like it or not.   This is generally how major transformation must take place because few if any would willingly enter into a process of total change.

Humanity and the earth has been out of balance for a long time and masculine energy has been dominant.  This is an opportunity for  feminine energy to rise up and as you can see and feel it is very different.  It is powerful and transformational and all of humanity is slowing down and unplugging from our usual activities.  This is a call to go inward and experience life differently.

Please watch this short video below to hear a little more about the rise of the feminine.