Tag Archives: inner peace

11 Ways to Navigate through Stressful Times

tumblr_ll3l0cUWgz1qb6t6wo1_500Life has stressful times as a norm, but right now some of us are feeling a more intense squeeze. Feelings of discomfort, unease, and vague anxiety can be constant. Some are feeling great intensity while others are simply riding the waves of expansion and growth, excited to see where they’re going but longing for guidance to navigate the new terrain.

The underlying theme of the day is we’re being forced to change from within by letting go of old, outdated, now-useless ways of being and allowing something new to emerge. Allowing a more creative, self-responsible, and I’d like to believe wiser part of us to come forth.

There are many things we can do to manage stressful times (without numbing out). If you are in a state of self-excavation where extreme personal inner evolution is happening, if you’re in a let go or be dragged phase or your life, welcome fellow traveler!

Always treat yourself like you’re a whole human being with a body that is interrelated, interconnected, and not at all separate from your thoughts, emotions, and soul. Today people are quite disconnected from their emotions and thoughts, not to mention nature, the natural rhythm of the earth and sky, and their own soul energy. If this sounds like you, navigate more powerfully and successfully through unknown territory by paying attention to the needs of your physical body, your mind, your emotions, and your true soul essence.

How?

It’s not that complicated, really. I’ve tried all kinds of convoluted ways and experience has shown me to simply return to the basics. Any links with the following will direct you to my previous posts on that topic.

  1. Eat well. Quality protein with vegetables is my staple of choice. Fresh fruit. Plenty of water.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Preferably at night, all night.
  3. Move your body and exercise.
  4. Go out in nature for a little bit and spend time on the earth.
  5. Seek out people who are trained to help you heal what’s nagging you. We need others to help us who have already seen this part of the journey.
  6. Have some body work (a massage is ideal) which helps settle tension and calm your mind.
  7. Have energy healing (or see a respected counselor) if you are emotionally or mentally stuck. Don’t feel as if something can’t get better. It can and it will if you want it to.
  8. Take time away from electronics and tech devices. Turn everything off and then feel what you feel. Get in touch with the discomfort and be okay with it.
  9. Breathe in and breathe out fully. Breathe in again. Release the breath completely as you breathe out and let go of all that is ready to go.
  10. Sit through the storms without having to self-medicate, get distracted, or otherwise foil the attempts of your soul to have this incredible life experience. Because the number of medicated, distracted, soul-detached people is so high that we’ve become a zombie civilization. Numbing out might feel like the way to get through, but the noise inside will only get louder.
  11. Finally, tell yourself this: All is well with the world. All is well in my world. There is nothing I need to make happen. I easily flow with life. I’m here to create and find joy in my creations.

 

35 Happy Thoughts for Inner Peace

mindPart of maintaining a positive, soulful balance in life is to notice our thoughts and where they’re focused. Our mind is capable of dragging us through mud and muck, taking the pleasure out of life as it creates tales of unfounded betrayal, potential ruin, armageddon, loss, disaster, or just plain disgust and fed upness.

One of the challenges many of us face is to redirect our thoughts, to let the mind know who’s in charge. Left to its own devices, the mind can be a tyrant, beating away at our inner peace.  The most powerful way I’ve gained mastery over my own mind, which can be quite creative and wild in its imaginings, is through meditation. But I also believe positive focused thought can be very powerful, can change the course of things, can turn panic into peace.

Here are 35 of my favorite “positive focused thoughts.” Use them freely to gain a little mastery over your own inner tyrant, help it lay down its club, take a rest, and give you a much needed break from its assumptions.

  1. I dance to my own rhythm
  2. Life is a gift
  3. I’m comfortable being myself
  4. My body knows how to maintain a healthy balance
  5. I am enough
  6. I am complete
  7. I am completely healthy in every way
  8. Every day I’m more optimistic
  9. I have the power to choose
  10. All is well in my world
  11. I follow my heart
  12. I am alive and well on all levels
  13. I remain in balance
  14. I’m steady, strong, and peaceful
  15. I make conscious, positive choices
  16. I have the kind of inner fortitude that succeeds through anything
  17. I live in true comfort and joy
  18. My mind is sharp
  19. I feel great
  20. I accept love
  21. I am open to learning about myself
  22. Abundance surrounds me
  23. All of my needs are easily met
  24. I am divinely guided and protected
  25. Everything around me is for my best and highest good
  26. My body and mind are vibrant
  27. I am an absolute genius at creating harmony in my life
  28. I allow the life force to flow through me
  29. I allow myself to be happy
  30. I forgive myself for everything
  31. I am open to positive change
  32. I flow easily with life
  33. Life is interesting, fun, and exciting
  34. I am loved
  35. I am safe

Lost? Go to your base.

yoga womanLast year when I was on a weeklong women’s retreat at Spirit Rock I had the good fortune to take yoga classes from Mary Pafford. I went to the retreat in a grumbly mood, blaming perimenopause or whatever, and once there in my own private silent space I decided to indulge it. But I simply couldn’t maintain it after the first day, after Mary’s yoga class.

Her class got me back into my glorious body. Among other things, Mary teaches how to get into contact with your perineum. Brilliant! She teaches that women’s wisdom can come from deep within, deep down, way down, and so my dark attitude began to fade as I reconnected to this depth in myself through Mary’s playful example.

So, with her permission, here is what yoga teacher Mary Pafford says about going to your base, an excerpt from a longer piece titled “Periwinkle Ahoy! Tales of drought, overwhelm, and perineums.” I think you’ll benefit from her words of wisdom, especially in times of uncertainty and unease.

GATEWAY AND BANDHA

GATEWAY TO THE EARTH by Mary Pafford

This is where the perineum can be helpful. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” A refrain in many of my classes. This is your internal GPS. When trauma arises we often close this area down, rather like an animal fearfully drawing its tail under and in. A temporary protection but many of us are walking around the universe with our tails drawn in as a permanent state of being. Or we have absolutely no connection to this area at all. There’s the taboo associated with sexuality and excretion and we just don’t want to go there. Beyond our own physical body, we have lost our way of being in touch with the world.

Consider the perineum not as a floor as its often called, but a sacred membrane and the way that we communicate on a deeper level with the earth, with our true nature. By simply being in contact, breathing here, one finds a sense of ground. Notice this when you are in transition or in some way threatened or overwhelmed. How helpful it is to just exist in the perineum, not contracting or tucking, just trusting the earth beneath and within you. “When you don’t know where to go, go to the base.” 
 
MULABANDHA

In the yoga world, some teachers encourage a strong engagement of the perineal muscles to draw the energy up and away from the earth to the heavens to cultivate Mulabandha. In this way, abandoning our human beingness ~ earthiness in the pursuit of “higher selves” ~ a new age type of refrain. If you listen to this little clip from Richard Freeman, you will see that this isn’t necessarily the most illuminating way to approach the pelvic floor… or life!

Richard suggests that the Goddess needs to be invited and cannot be forced, thus cultivating relationship rather than a practice of control, attainment, and separation from the mud of being. Can one root through the bones of the base of the pelvis and invite the rebound? The earth deities rise up and support life in the same way that we tend to the earth and this merges and supports our spiritual aspirations as many indigenous traditions encourage. In many of these traditions the earth is spirit – there is no separate word for spirituality.

7 Ways to Get Grounded (& Why It’s Important)

groundingIn a state of ungroundedness you can be easily influenced by others, experience injuries and accidents, foggy thinking, and emotional states like anxiety, worry, and irritability.

Once when I was ungrounded, I stepped right off a curb I didn’t know was coming and sprained my ankle. Another time, I fell off a 2″ high doormat which brought me surprisingly and suddenly to the ground, spraining the same ankle. (Yes, a 2″ high doormat that said “Peace” on it.)

Yet another time, in a truly ungrounded state, I fainted flat to the ground and still have the scar on my face to show for it. There have been others too, falls and stumbles that have shown me when my thoughts (and energy field) have floated into another realm and are not with the earth.

As a result, don’t you agree I’m uniquely qualified to discuss how to get grounded and the reasons why it’s important? As a psychically sensitive person, I’ve often had my awareness somewhere else. Over time, I’ve had to learn how to remain earthbound. Besides the falls, bloodied face, skinned knees, and sprained body parts, I was born with half of my birth chart planets in earth signs and zero in air. Astrology-minded readers will understand I was meant to be earthbound in this life despite my tendencies otherwise.

Now let’s talk about how to get grounded!

The first step is to pay attention to your physical body.

How does the chair feel that you are sitting in?
What do your feet feel like?
Are you ignoring any physical signs or symptoms? For example, are you thirsty?
Do you have pain or tightness in your body? An anxious feeling? By the way, most cases of anxiety I see in my practice are nothing more than a mental and energetic disconnect from the body.

Next, notice your breathing. This will bring you to a deeper awareness of your body.

Follow your breath.
Bring breath into your belly.
Slow it down.
Lengthen your breath.

Be aware of the subtle changes in nature.

Notice the weather.
What is happening in your natural environment?
Feel the breeze.
Watch the sunset.
Smell the earth’s scents.
Note how the sun feels.
Watch the trees lose leaves or change into their winter state.
Listen to sounds.
Return frequently to notice your own breathing and the weight of your body on the surface you’re sitting or standing on.

Connect with the earth.

Stand or sit for a few minutes with your bare feet on the earth. Scientific evidence shows that the earth balances your energy field. But you don’t need proof from science when you can just do it and see for yourself. Those of you in cold climates, visualize it. Imagine yourself as a big healthy tree with deep roots going into the earth. Check out more reasons to connect with the earth.

Eat earthy food

Hearty meals tend to be grounding: meats and root vegetables especially.

Stop, Feel, Listen, Notice

And finally, if you’re still needing some assistance, have an energy healing session with Dr. Christina Grant. I hear she’s had a lot of experience with it…

6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life

puppet womanLast week I wrote about how we can victimize and weaken ourselves by blaming others for hurting our feelings. In fact, taking greater responsibility for our own responses and reactions to what others might say or do is a path to emotional balance and maturity.

Despite what well-meaning people have told you, other people don’t exist to make you happy and they’re not responsible for how you feel. Likewise, you’re not in this life to jump through hoops in order to make others happy. You’re here to keep yourself on your own life path in the healthiest way possible, while harming none. This is not to say you accept abuse or remain in a relationship that isn’t supportive and loving. It just means you don’t allow yourself to be tossed about in stormy seas without a sail.

Here are my basic 6 ways to get in the driver’s seat of your emotional life. If you practice them, you’ll find you won’t be as susceptible to being hurt by off-hand or unfiltered remarks from others.

1. Develop good boundaries. If you’re not sure of what you think, believe, or want, you’ll be prone to being tossed around in someone else’s stormy sea. Be mindful of what emotional “stuff” belongs to you and what belongs to someone else.

2. Be yourself. This is mandatory! You’re here on the planet to be you, not a copy of anyone else.

3. Let go of the expectations of others. This means you get to live your own life and dismiss what others think you should or should not be.

4. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Give yourself some space to be real. Offer the same to everyone in your sphere.

5. Nurture the relationships with people you can trust who accept you as you are and who forgive (or ignore) your human foibles.

6. Free your mind from the judgment that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be. Have no doubt that all is well and in perfect alignment.

You Hurt My Feelings! The Victim Blame Game

hurt feelingsOnce when I was around 12 years old, my Aunt Iris said something to me that “hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember what it was, but Iris was a smart, opinionated, outspoken woman and I’m sure it was nothing other than the bald truth.

Aunt Iris loved me and I knew it. She wouldn’t do or say anything of a negative nature toward me. Yet, I told her about what she said and how she hurt me. Instead of an apology, which I expected, my accusation was met with a surprise. “NO, I did not!” she exclaimed, looking me right in the eye. “I couldn’t possibly hurt your feelings.”

“But you did!” I replied.

“Impossible!” she said. “I don’t have one iota of control over your emotions and feelings. YOU are the only one with that power.”

What in the world? Why, this was simply stunning! Aunt Iris wasn’t taking responsibility for my feelings? She wasn’t even letting me make her wrong? Instead, she stood her ground. My little adolescent heart was hurt again. How dare her!!

But, Iris had just given me one of the greatest lessons for being emotionally balanced. She was teaching me on the spot that blaming others for the way I feel keeps me weak, powerless, and victimized. Since then, I’ve realized there is nothing anyone can say that can hurt my feelings. Which doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt over things that are said sometimes. It just means I can’t blame the other for saying them. If I’m hurt, it’s about me.

And—holy liberation—others are responsible for their own emotions, too! Their emotions are under their control, not mine. They only wish I’d take responsibility and blame, so they wouldn’t have to. Sound familiar?

Now, I’m not a TV watcher except for one twisted secret pleasure: Orange County Housewives. There. I admitted it. Maybe I find it a fascinating case study in human relations. Yes, that’s it! And those women are absolutely committed to keeping themselves victims in the YOU-HURT-MY-FEELINGS realm. They can’t see it because humans are well-adapted to blaming others for how they feel. The ladies of the OC play the victim, don’t take responsibility for themselves, and perpetuate weakness among women. (After all, how many men do you come across who accuse their friends of hurting their feelings? It appears to be a very female crutch.)

So what to do? Keep the following in mind.

Other people are allowed to comment, express themselves, and speak their minds, even when you believe it’s hurtful. Because in truth, there isn’t anything anyone else can say that can hurt you. You choose to feel hurt because you’re not accepting that what another person says is about them, and not you. Yes, they are trying to make it about you, and you might be at fault. They might be right. Even so, it’s absolutely fine for you to let others make comments and not let them affect you. Something nasty from another person comes from their pain and ignorance. Plain and simple.

So give it a try. Stay centered. Keep breathing. It’s not actually about YOU.

While we’re on the subject, stay tuned for more in the next Holistic Woman post where I’ll talk about 6 Ways to Be in Charge of Your Own Emotional Life.

Uncovering Hidden Agendas That Keep You Stuck

TM4Everyone wants to be healthy, successful, and happy, right? Not necessarily. All we need to do is look around and we can see that sometimes people like the benefits of not being healthy, not being successful, and of being miserable.

Remaining stuck or being a victim around nothing going right in life can have payoffs, but from my perspective we must eliminate these hidden agendas for our own evolution and for the benefit of all living beings.

Here are a few of the payoffs illness, misery, and a lack of success can offer:

  • Get attention
  • Get revenge
  • Be lazy, take it easy
  • Don’t have to work much
  • Be taken care of by others
  • Notice how much others care about you (as they’re offering support and ideas for you to improve your circumstances)
  • See what a stir you can make in the lives of others
  • Feel important
  • Feel special
  • Feel like there is something that sets you apart from others
  • Have an excuse not to do things you don’t want to do
  • Punish others, use “power” over others
  • Be validated as a real person/get listened to
  • Sabotage yourself
  • Have something happen in an otherwise mundane life
  • Fulfill the family legacy, e.g., “lots of people in my family have heart disease/didn’t succeed/were depressed”
  • Addiction to being a victim/accentuate the victim role

It is difficult for us to see our own hidden agendas. That is why they are called “hidden.” It’s valid to be honest and look at these agendas. They are disempowering and work behind the scenes to undermine you.

The Search for Meaning

searchYears ago I went through an intense phase of grumbling about life. During this time, my friend Nubby gently suggested I read Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. The book was written in 1946 after Frankl had survived being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Ultimately, Frankl presents how to face suffering while finding meaning in life so it can be lived not in bitterness, but with purpose. In Dr. Frankl’s country of Austria his book is translated to mean “Say yes to life just the same.”

I had meant to read it for years. The book was already on my shelf, so I didn’t have to go far to find it. The next day after Nubby made the suggestion, I didn’t get out of bed. I kept the blinds closed, commiserated with myself, moaned and groaned about my life — wallowed in it until I was pruney. Then I read Man’s Search for Meaning.

On that feeling-sorry-for-myself day when I refused to get out of bed, Dr. Frankl’s story spoke to me. Here is what it said:

  • We are capable of free thought.
  • We can make it through anything with a positive state of mind.
  • When we look death in the face, the cruelty of it can slice through our illusions so that things become very simple.
  • These are the energies that really count: love, hope, neutrality.
  • The ego is a rather frail construct.
  • We can step back and realize that no horror has any power over us.
  • We can transcend our own personal Auschwitz.
  • Nothing can break our spirit unless we allow it.

After finishing the last page of the book, I laid there in the dark room for a while questioning whether I would have had what it took to get through Auschwitz alive. Then I wondered, had I survived such a horror would I have been deeply bitter and resentful and hateful for the remainder of my life? I wondered if I would have chosen to see the joy and beauty in life again or would I have just grumbled through the rest of my days. I got out of bed, straightened the covers, took a shower, and decided to live.

What is the Dark Night of the Soul?

hopeThis phrase is commonly used to describe a time in one’s life when it appears as though all is lost, including the attention and support of God. Old ways of seeing life and believing in it end without a clear focus on what comes next. It can be a period of dark moods and hopelessness.

Originally stemming from the 16th century writings of Carmelite priest Saint John of the Cross, the phrase “Dark Night of the Soul” was indicative of mystic development, a quest for holiness. In our modern era, the phrase indicates a time when spiritual development is moving full speed ahead, except the person in the midst of it is usually in despair. During this time, the old and familiar fades away, making room for a new and deeper meaning to life. The challenge is that we can’t see the relevance while going through it, so we suffer.

Experienced as internal chaos and misery, the original Christian notion of this Dark Night is that God has turned away for good. What actually happens is a new pathway opens up that encourages transformation of one’s relationship with God. It’s a blessing in disguise.

In Christianity, the feeling of abandonment by God, a place of darkness, is considered a test of one’s faith. The agony of making your way through the dark causes the old self to reform. The ego dissolves, and a surrender takes place. Old expectations and illusions about God are broken. It is this process that brings a person to new levels of consciousness and into a new, more meaningful relationship with God.

In the midst of a Dark Night, don’t pull out the pills or jump off the bridge! Keep walking through it. It doesn’t last. You’ll come out the other side. God, Goddess, the Supreme Being, the Divine, the Universe, whatever name you choose, you can be sure that it does not desert you. It might seem to for a time, but it’s impossible for it to abandon you. Instead it leads you into greater light.

My Thoughts on Doing a Silent Retreat

533796_3292120096307_1066899692_3043234_1472076028_nEvery year I do a silent retreat or two for at least a week at a time. And each time, people look at me puzzled when I tell them this is what I’m doing. After all, it’s so strange to not talk incessantly, or be talked to. Isn’t it?

Sometimes I join a group, other times I go solo. Often, in April, I like to do a solo retreat in Maui or Kauai (or both, let’s be honest). It’s my birthday month and I love to be immersed in the island vibe. But this April, since I was in Maui last September finalizing the last chapters of my new book, I decided to do a silent retreat in a place where I won’t be able to check messages because there’s no wifi, let alone cell phone service. I’ll be with about 100 others, who come together from distant places, all with a similar idea: let’s take a little breather from the madness, check in, tune in, and listen to what’s real and true, if only for a week.

I very much look forward to no talking, writing, reading, computers, television, or electronics of any kind. No checking email, no Facebook, no Twitter, no CNN, no Orange County Housewives. Am I in the minority when I think we’ve become a completely distracted, unbalanced society through this media? At any rate, there will be the sights and sounds of nature along with deer, turkeys, maybe a fox or two, hawks, lizards, sunshine and intermittent fog.

And, oh yes, I almost forgot—the sound of my own thoughts. The chatter of my inner 5 year old, my inner sullen teenager, and various other inner selves all interrupting my older, wiser self. There will be unexpected random memories, songs from 1983, compulsive planning, weighing the pros and cons of letting my hair go gray, living room redecorating, and ideas of what I should have said to someone 15 years ago. This chatter will go on at least for the first couple of days until it exhausts itself and my mind surrenders to balance and spaciousness.

The first time I attended a silent retreat, I had signed up for 10 days at a meditation center in the Massachusetts countryside. I’d been told by one of my professors that it was the best thing he ever did. Better than any sort of therapy. Incredibly transformational. So I jumped right in and attended the New Year retreat when we entered this millennium. It was lights out by 10pm on December 31, 1999. No fanfare, noise, champagne, nothing. We were awakened by the sound of a bell at 4:00am on January 1, 2000 to continue meditating. It was odd, but delightful.

So here I am 13 years later, still longing to get immersed in my week of silent meditation. Still looking forward to not knowing what’s happening in the outer world. It feels a little defiant, actually, in this information age, to simply turn my back on it all and ignore it. I won’t speak for a week, or be spoken to. I won’t hear my neighborhood’s leaf blowers, screaming children, or the Harleys going down Hwy 1 on Sunday. Instead, I’ll have the opportunity to engage inwardly, locate my deepest center, learn to love the rhythm of my own breath, and release a bit of what doesn’t belong to me.

When it’s over, I’ll return home with greater inner peace, with more love to share, and a greater tolerance for all that is noisy and alive. Now why would anyone not want that?

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