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.
Our body gives us signs when something is off.
One of the things I am most grateful for during my years of practicing Reiki is that my awareness of what is going on in my body has deepened. When I was young, if I would have pain in my arm, I could hardly pin-point where, let alone feel what the sensation what like. It wasn't until I was in college, forcing myself through a relationship that I knew from the start didn't serve me (or the other person), that I had a crash course in the body/mind connection. At some point during this long-distance relationship, I developed TMJ (my jaw would pop when opening it, and I could barely open my mouth to eat). It was causing me a fair amount of pain, and I wasn't able to eat many foods, because of the lack of range of motion.
I was able to go out to visit my then boyfriend at the time, and the TMJ got worse, I could barely open my mouth. Shortly after I got back, my mom set up an appointment for me to see a physical therapist to help me with the TMJ. To my good fortune, this therapist practiced CranioSacral Therapy (which works with the energy flow of the body). At the time, I knew nothing about it, nor holistic medicine, let alone intuition, or the body/mind connection. During this session, I started to feel chills flowing through my legs even though the practitioner was working at my head and neck. How curious, I thought. After the half hour session, I was able to open my mouth nearly all the way, and the range of motion in my neck was significantly improved. It was incredible! I felt so much better!
A month or so later, my then boyfriend and I broke up, and the rest of the tension in my jaw, neck, and other areas of my body started to faded away. It was at this time I finally realized that my body's wisdom was telling me that something was not right, that there was such a thing as intuition, and that when I ignore the signs my body gives me, that they will get stronger and stronger until I acknowledge them.
Now close to ten years later, having devoted much of my time to learning how to listen to this inner wisdom that I never knew I had, I can feel the subtle energy flowing through me. I can feel chills of recognition, truth, and love, and also the subtle pangs and shifts of energy when my thoughts or habits get too steeped in anger, judgment, self-pity, etc. They are like little signals that tell me, "Look here, something is not quite right. You are not in alignment with who you really are when you get caught in thoughts of jealousy, when you feel you are not worthy of love, or when you continue to feed that habit." It gives me a chance to acknowledge what is going on and then choose feed that which serves life. Sometimes the external circumstances need to change, but the vast majority of the time it is more about a shift in how I am perceiving my situation. I create my own pain or liberation to the degree that I am in harmony with the flow of life energy verses how much I try to force things to go the way I want or think they should go. Growing to understand this has been a saving grace.
We all have this ability to connect with the inner wisdom of our bodies and intuition. Perhaps you have been listening to your inner guidance for sometime, or perhaps you may be more like I was, stumbling through life not sure what path to follow. We all are where we are, and there is no right or wrong. At any moment you can choose to listen more deeply. For each of us, it may show up in unique ways. But the key is to know that you have a guide, and the more to choose to tune in, listen, and acknowledge, the more this wisdom will shows itself more clearly, and the more able you will be able to interpret its signals when they show up. It takes time, but it is well worth the investment in yourself.
As a culture, we don't often teach, let alone discuss how to deepen this connection with our body's wisdom, but there are several practices that will support this. Receiving or practicing Reiki and other forms of energy work will strengthen your body awareness, as well as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, QiGong, and massage for example.
Do you have a connection to your body's wisdom? How does it speak to you? Share your comments here.
If you would like any support in understanding your body/mind connection, I would be happy to explore this with you in a session.
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.
It may seem chaotic when viewing all that is shifting in the world right now, and the variety of perspectives and feelings that are being expressed. Easily we can get swept up in the flurry of emotion and reactivity and not know what to do. There are an infinite number of paths we can choose, and we really never know for certain what the future will hold. It is in these times, especially, that remembering to return home to ourselves is so beneficial. For as we all know, our self is the one thing we do have control over. We choose how we we want to show up for ourselves and others as the events of the world unfold.
Take a moment to reflect on how you have been treating yourself lately. Have you been paying attention to your thoughts and feelings? If you have been feeling angry, or sad how have you been taking care of yourself? Do you feed those thoughts by agreeing that you are a victim, or make yourself bad or wrong for feeling such a way? Perhaps, you practice observing your thoughts, or offering loving kindness to the parts of you that are angry or scared. Perhaps, you find yourself somewhere in between.
No matter what your experience has been like recently, I encourage you to practice being with yourself with kindness, respect, and compassion. You may do this with the words you say to yourself, the images you hold in mind, or perhaps how you move or feel your body. When you come across a part of you that may be lost out in the cold, can you welcome it like you would a dear friend, offering it space to be in the comfort of your heart, and hear its story? Can you welcome the parts of you that are so enraged they are ready to start fires? Will you give them gentleness, and a space to air their concerns and pain, and perhaps explore constructive, peaceful action for moving forward? This willingness to acknowledge what is true within us, is often enough to heal many aspects of ourselves. As you explore this within yourself, you are practicing that which has the potential to heal our interactions with others. The greater our capacity to be with our own pain, the greater our capacity to be with others' pain. We all just want to be heard, loved, and understood. Once these needs have been met, then we can really get down to business in addressing the other issues of the world, together.
Plus, the good news is, the more you practice tuning in to your inner world, and the parts of you, the more clarity comes into your life. You may get guidance from your inner wisdom about ways you can positively influence the world that are unique to you. Also, by transforming any resentment, righteousness, frustration, or grief you uncover, you become infinitely more effective in the world. Even if you never left your home or spoke to anyone, this change in your energy field would radiate outward and benefit the whole Earth. The buoy of the collective consciousness of the world rises every time we each find a greater level of peace within. We are so much more connected that we often remember. There is hope.
Feed your soul. Love yourself. Tend to your aching. Trust that your part is enough. You will know. You're doing a great job.
Blessings Dear Ones,
As I rest my bones on our couch at the clinic, listening to David Ison's The Musical Body (I highly recommend this sound healing album), I find myself drifting off in meditation gazing at a group of trees out our window. The setting sun casts a glow on their graceful bends as the branches reach in exultation toward the sky. Their expression convinces me they, too, are dancers. The beauty of this community of trees across the creek strikes me, how they gently command presence as one. As I drift, my mind slows, my inner world begins to still, and I fill up with each breath. Ever since I was a child, the act of gazing contemplatively out the window at nature has been an innate meditation, though I didn't realize that's what I was doing until recent years. I am grateful for these moments, for they bring me into the present, noticing the details of the trees, and also the details of what is going on within me. Often, I receive clarity during this stillness, as well as greater resolve, and refreshment.
Winter is a time that naturally draws us into a state of stillness and reflection. Just as the outside world becomes buried, insulated, barren, and dark, there is a call to draw our eyes within, allow the roots from ideas we have planted to seep into our consciousness, and save and replenish our reserves of energy for the time that will be most effective to use them. For many of us, this season is a time we feel called to "hibernate", to sleep and dream a little more. This is an instinctive thing. For the great exhale of energy we expend during the warmer months, we need a deep and nourishing inhale, otherwise we become breathless. Find ways to inhale this winter. Feed your soul. Allow yourself to become still, quiet, to let your screen go blank. Gaze out the window, absorb yourself in the aroma and swirls of a soup being stirred, see if you can hear the earth breathing while walking in the woods. Honor your innate way of meditating. There are many ways to go within. Create the space for yourself to do so often, and for as long as it takes. You deserve it. And, enjoy.
Many blessings on your inner travels, and Happy Solstice and Holidays to those of you celebrating this time of year.
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,
Delight in Your Aliveness
The French have a term "joie de vivre", meaning a delight in being alive, a carefree enjoyment of life, or exultation of spirit. After facing some of my own "demons" over the last few months—a fear of loss, and death—I had the realization that an antidote for many of our fears is to live fully alive. Embrace the present moment for what it is, allow ourselves to be who we really are, follow the little (or perhaps strong) nudgings of our heart, love those in our life fully, and be willing to express that, and delight in the simple pleasures of life. If we allow ourselves to be all that we are, gracefully let go of what we are not, and let our day be guided by our inner joy, our fears dissolve.
Perhaps you will find it as the wind grazes your face, in the scent of blooming milkweed, from the kindness of a stranger, watching a child squeal with glee, making a step toward that trip you have always wanted to take, giving in to your soul's urging to pick up a cello and explore how the friction of the bow on strings produces pure sound, or picking up the phone to repair a relationship with a beloved.
My question for you is, how can you step into this joie de vivre in some way today? How can you allow yourself to be more fully You? If you feel inspired, practice this in a least a small way everyday.
Share how you personally cultivate joie de vivre in the comments below.
Every moment we have a choice to feed fear or love within us.
Every moment we have the opportunity to choose how we are going to treat ourselves, others, and what we create and allow within our life. The small and consistent choices we make will steer us into the realm we have chosen. As told by the Cherokee legend of the "Wolves Within":
A grandson comes to his grandfather plagued with anger about an injustice incurred to him by a friend. The grandfather nods and replies, "I too have felt indignant about those who have treated me without respect and without remorse. But anger slowly wears you down. It is like taking a poison, but wishing it would kill your enemy.
It is as if there are two wolves inside of me. One is loving, peaceful, and kind. It lives in harmony with those around him, and does not take offense when others lash out from their own suffering. When it is time to stand up for something, he is strong, patient, compassionate, and forgiving.
The other wolf is full of anger and fear. It feels the whole world is out to get him. He is no stranger to resentment, jealousy, false pride, self-pity, guilt, and sorrow. The littlest thing will set him off, and he will fight everyone for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and fear are so great. It is helpless anger, because it will change nothing.
Sometimes, it can be challenging to live with these two wolves inside of me, for they both wish to dominate my spirit."
The boy thought for a moment, and asked, "Which wolf will win?"
The grandfather smiled and quietly replied, "The one I feed."
We each have these wolves within us. The question is, which one are you feeding?
The opportunities are often, and sometimes subtle. Sometimes our actions remain the same, but our intention behind it, our thoughts and emotions shift. We can lift our suffering, and those of others, or we can strengthen it.
Bring awareness to your thoughts and feelings. What do you notice? Are certain thoughts stuck on repeat?
I have found that once I have noticed when I have been feeding the wolf of self-deprecation, fear, and defensiveness within myself, I can pause, breathe, and invite in the awareness of my wolf of compassion, forgiveness, and trust. As I do, my whole energy shifts. I am able to smile more. I feel lighter, and I am able to give everyone else a break. Even though we all are continuously choosing one wolf or the other, so many of us are not even aware of this choice. Perhaps, one wolf has been barking and snarling so loud and ferociously, we had a hard time seeing the peaceful wolf napping in the background.
Remember, when you feed the wolf of anger and fear, that is what you will see within yourself, others, and the world. When you feed the wolf of joy and harmony, that is what you will see in yourself, others, and the world.
Every moment is an opportunity to choose, even if you have forgotten for a while.
What do you want to see?
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,
"Is love available even here?"
As we all go about our respective activities today, I invite you to take a moment to breathe.
How are you doing?
Really. How are you?
Check in to feel/see/hear if you are being honest with yourself as you answer that. You are allowed to be experiencing whatever it is that is occurring within you. You may grant yourself permission.
When you set aside all the "shoulds", "I wish I were this, I wish he were that, I wish things were different...", the parts of you that think you have done something wrong, or are not enough, or the fears that what you are experiencing won't (or will) last, what is there?
Notice sensations in your body, emotions, and your thoughts.
On Thanksgiving, our minds shift to gratitude, which is healing in itself. But, if we are not in a space where we genuinely feel grateful, where we can't authentically access it, we feel worse. We are faking it.
So what do you genuinely feel?
Whether you feel brimming with gratitude, exhausted, grieving, content, frustrated or anywhere in between, call it what it is. Allowing the space to feel what you feel without trying to make anything different is giving yourself the gift of acceptance. As you begin to give and receive this within yourself, what do you notice?
As you go about this Thanksgiving day, I invite you to continually check in with yourself, and tune into your heart asking, "Is love available to me even here?"
If you feel inspired to share your experience with this, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email or write your comments below.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence