Spring invites the shedding of protective layers to allow for new growth.
Spring is on our doorstep, my friends. Do you feel your vital energy stirring within you as the daylight and glimmer of warmth in the air calls us to awaken our sleepy bones? As you invite in this freshness into your being, and shake off sluggishness, we can easily get swept up in the joy, excitement, and eagerness of what is to come, desires for connecting with the outside world, and plans to take action in your life and the broader community. Spring coaxes the fire within us. While this energy of the season can be a beautiful and important catalyst, there is an aspect of this early phase of the season that, as a culture, we often overlook: tenderness.
The buds on the trees have begun to shed the protective waxy coating that shielded them from the winter chill, but have yet to unfold. Many of the seeds within the ground are breaking down their growth inhibiting hormones that have kept them dormant, and are preparing to reach for the soil's surface, while some resilient pioneers have already extended their bright green shoots out of our monochromatic landscape. A new cycle of life is emerging. Exciting, indeed. But we must acknowledge this life is still vulnerable. Without the appropriate conditions, some of this life will not make it through the season. A couple of hard frosts, hungry critters, or a good natured but absent-minded person trampling on the young sprouts may impede the growth of these plants. There is a softness, openness, and rawness to this process. Here they are, bursting forth. Will they have the opportunity to develop the strength, the roots, and perhaps, eventually, bear fruit? Time will tell.
In the natural world, and even the human community, many of these occurrences are beyond our control. Pause for a moment. Does this bring up a helplessness in you? Breathe into this space. Especially with the conditions present in the world now, and the movements unfolding, there can be a sense of urgency, of "this needed to be done ages ago!", of our desperation for change fueling our action. The fire awakening within us is supported by this energy of spring. But if we don't acknowledge the tenderness, helplessness, or vulnerability within our experience, we can act without full consciousness and connection, without the care and support that we need to move into effective action.
So, let's take a moment to pause and reflect.
Without the support that we need, we can feel susceptible to the world around us. But if we allow ourselves to receive nurturance for what is coming forth within us, the softness and tenderness has a resiliency that can break away the barriers we had in place, and withstand the hardships.
From Verse 43 of The Tao Te Ching,
"The softest thing in the universe
Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe.
That without substance can enter where there is no room.
Hence I know the value of non-action."
(Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English)
There you are, my friends. I'd love to hear what those questions bring up in you, and how you balance the duality of the fire and action of Spring, with the tenderness, and rawness of it. If you feel inspired to share, comment below or send me an email. Always a pleasure to hear from you.
Blessings for love, resiliency, comfort, and growth for you, and us all,
The key step to allow forgiveness to be more than an intellectual thing.
I hope life is finding you well as fall rolls on, and the winter and holiday season approaches for those of you celebrating. Now is a time we can take a deep breath before it all unfolds, and perhaps prepare to dive a little deeper, and turn inward in harmony with the seasons. So as we settle into a steady rhythm again, and take a nice exhale with relief and joy, I would like to pick up where we left off, and explore the nature of forgiveness.
What does it mean to forgive? Many have heard the saying that we forgive, not to excuse the behavior that initiated our grievance, but to free ourselves from the pain. The process of forgiving brings about healing. But how do you do it? Is it enough to think "I forgive you," or to say it?
Healing through forgiveness begins with the desire to find peace, and also claim your power in the situation. This may seem obvious, but I feel it is important to mention, because there may be times that we are still hooked on making someone else (or ourselves) the perpetrator and blaming them. In such a case we aren't even ready to consider viewing the circumstance in another way. A part of us may be juicing the effect of being a victim (we actually feed off of the biochemical response in our body).
When we are ready to find peace, and step into this power, it may not necessarily look like what you would expect at first. The first step in taking this responsibility is to tend to your feelings. What emotions does the said situation elicit, and how do you experience these feelings in your body? Perhaps you feel anger, sadness, despair, rage, powerless, or indignant. How is that emotion currently "living" in your body? Meaning, as you experience the emotion do you feel a flush of warmth in your face and torso, and weakness or emptiness in your chest, heaviness in your head, etc? Once you become aware of what sensations are associated with your emotions and this event, the practice is in allowing yourself to fully feel it exactly as it is in your body, without trying to push it away, or change it into something else. This may take some time. Be patient with yourself. Breathe.
After several minutes, a few hours, or maybe even days (there is no set timeline) of allowing yourself to be with how you feel, eventually the charge of the emotion will start to dissipate. It is possible that you may need to repeat this step several times. There may be more layers of the emotion, or the sensation might morph into something else. Just continue the practice of being with whatever it is, and breathe. If you have been carrying this resentment or guilt around for a while, may take some time.
Once the smoke clears, it is likely you will be able to access a deeper understanding of yourself, what was going on for you at the time, and if there is a nugget of wisdom there for you. You may also be able to see any other individuals involved, or the situation itself from another perspective. There may be lessons here to integrate regarding having healthy boundaries, or self-care. Make note of what you notice.
This is the space where true forgiveness is possible. A state of being where we offer ourselves the attention and compassion we've needed, and a willingness to see and understand the situation from a lens of a broader truth. From here, peace can grow.
So, what has been your experience with forgiveness? Have you been able to find peace with situations which once upset you? If so, what has supported you in doing so? If you apply the above process to cultivate forgiveness, and are willing to share your experience, I'd love to hear from you. Please comment below or send me an email.
Wishing you all deep peace, and a beautiful Thanksgiving.
Everything we communicate can be boiled down to a "please" or a "thank you".
Over the past couple years I have been studying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (it also goes by the names Compassionate, or Conscious Communication). This way of connecting was originally shared by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s. As the teachings begin to sink in more deeply for me and replace old habits of communicating, I have been humbled by the healing power of this approach, and I wanted to share some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom with you.
The core tenets focus on identifying how we are feeling, uncovering the universal human need underneath it, and then offering empathy for any unmet needs.
Come on a journey with me as we explore this.
For a few moments take nice deep breathes and connect with your body. Tune into what feelings are alive within you.
Some examples are: content, relaxed, exhausted, frustrated, sad, joyful, disappointed, lonely, intriqued, calm, happy, inspired, anxious, torn, overwhelmed, confused, scared, ashamed, impatient, numb, angry, grateful, encouraged, vulnerable, etc.
Note: If something like "I feel so taken advantage of!" comes up, this is a thought and interpretation, not a feeling. In such a case, might you be feeling angry, indignant, sad, disappointed, etc? Acknowledge the presence of the thought, and try to to redirect yourself to the feeling that is within the thought.
Have you identified at least one to three feelings that resonate for you? There may be more, and they may seem contradictory. That is okay. Write these feelings down if it is helpful for you.
In Marshall Rosenberg's work, he says that feelings that are pleasant are a sign that a universal human need is being met, whereas feelings that are unpleasant are a sign of an unmet need within us. When we communicate with others in this space our words convey either a "please": help me meet this need for _________; or a "thank you": celebrate with me, my need for _________ has been met.
Now, let's take a moment to explore what needs may be underneath the feelings you identified. These universal human needs in their essence enhance our quality of life. Here are some examples of needs: safety, acceptance, harmony, predictability, integrity, connection, equality, appreciation, love, self-expression, understanding, respect, clarity, help and support, community, trust, intimacy, meaning and purpose, security, celebration, structure, autonomy and choice, space, fun and play, to matter and belong, mourning, freedom, kindness, responsibility, etc.
Returning to our example of, "I feel so taken advantage of!" we see that there are perhaps feelings of indignation, disappointment, and vulnerability, possibly because the needs for respect, kindness, and appreciation were not met.
As you tune inward, what unmet needs might your feelings be pointing you toward? And conversely, if you are feeling well, what might needs might your feelings be indicating that are being met?
Once you have identified your needs, write them down with the feelings you have identified. Acknowledge within yourself that you are feeling _________ because you are needing _______________ (or your needs for ___________ have been met).
Now, comes the true opportunity for healing. As you hold these needs in your heart, feel or imagine what it would be like if these needs were met. What would the experience of "respect", for example, feel like in your body if you had it completely? Imagine that you can breathe that quality into your being simply by thinking it, as if all the molecules of oxygen that enter your body are infused with ________. Continue to breathe and soak the energy of this in for as long as you like.
So, how do you feel?
Share your experience in the comments or email to share with me privately.
To learn more, read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication, or visit the Wisconsin Empathy Guild's website to connect with practice groups in the area.
Here in the United States, election season is in full swing. As debates and interviews air, articles release, and opinions are displayed on social media, chances are you feel a mix of emotions: fear, concern, frustration, judgement of those with other views, righteousness, hope for something better, a desire to do something, ambivalence, hopelessness, etc.
Regardless of your political stance, the dynamics that are at play in our country give us each a chance to look at ourselves more deeply. What we see playing out between the candidates, their parties, and supporters mirrors the conflicts that occur within our own mind. As human beings, we all have a tendency to get caught up in blame games (making others wrong, and punishing ourselves with guilt for things we have done). We can inflate ourselves as a protective mechanism, so others do not see our faults, and insecurities. We dwell on the past. We divide ourselves into Us verses Them, making one group the good guys, and the other the enemy.
As many of the collective energies are feeding off of these divisive dynamics, how can we shift to a more aware space, and perhaps even heal? The key begins with embracing our humanness, our vulnerability. In order to really connect with ourselves, and then in turn with each other, we must be authentically honest, and real. What is underneath our desires? Can we gracefully and compassionately acknowledge the mistakes we have made in our life, and allow others forgiveness for theirs? Are we willing to see that at the core of our views, the vast majority of us have a need to feel safe, cared for, and loved?
When we give ourselves the safe place to truly acknowledge all parts of ourselves, those we like, those we don't, and those that we pretend aren't even there, we create ripe space to transform. We start to see more clearly what things really are. We begin to connect. We begin to listen with willingness and respect. We begin to heal.
No matter what you are feeling now, are you willing to allow compassion to seep in for yourself? How would that look, feel, or sound for you?
Share your thoughts of how you are cultivating compassion during this election session here.
If you would like support in this process, feel free to schedule a session with me.
We are all in this together,
My heart is in a rock tumbler, but don't feel sorry for me...
Embracing the process, the ripening of the soul.
Over the last few months, a series of events has catapulted me deep within, experiencing the fabric of the universe. Something within me is shifting in a very significant way. And, at the moment, I am not quite sure what it is and which end is up, but what I can tell you is that it is needed, and growth is eminent. I can feel the process churning within me.
Why am I telling you this? Because, perhaps now, sometime in the past, or someday in the future you have or may find yourself in your own unique version of this, triggered by the perfect moment to stir your deeper awakening. Something subtle, but entirely profound operating beneath the surface. If we don't remember to breathe while we hold ourselves and our experience in gentle awareness, it can get painful quick. But if we allow it all to unfold without making anything right or wrong, we cultivate a ripe environment for wisdom to reveal itself to us.
I could disclose the details of the story that has led me here, but that feels like a distraction right now. Perhaps it is something I will share at another time. What I will share with you now is this, a poem I wrote earlier this week that captures the experience emerging within me. May there be something here that feeds your soul.
My heart is in a rock tumbler
but don't feel sorry for me
My heart is breaking open
the zagged edges chipped away
intimately acquainting with the depth of experience
the fabric of the universe
the profundity that is often skimmed over in the day to day
My heart is breaking open
but I do not feel pain
the softness, the compassion, the cradling that accompanies grief
Without fear I surrender myself to the process
that is my grace
I let my head fall back, chest unfurl to the sky, and fully collapse my trying, my "strength"
and find I am held
gently lifted by Grace
That, in time, the lessons within may seep in like rainwater gently trickling through the earth to the reservoir
That I have and am enough
I am that which is beyond love
benevolence, humility, compassion
My heart is breaking open
but do not feel sad for me
Within is revealed the goo of my center, the Truth of my Nature
that which I am becoming
that which we have always been
Blessings Dear Ones,
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence