Remembering our humanness is where our freedom lies.
Spring is upon us here in the Midwest. After the twists and turns of this past winter, I hope all of you are getting a chance to welcome the return of light and warmth.
Today, I want to speak to the trend of valuing productivity, efficiency, busy-ness, and impeccable performance that we've been seeing in our culture for some time. How do you notice these themes showing up for you in your life? Do they effect the expectations you have of yourself, and those that others have of you?
Many of the aforementioned qualities are valuable things, of which our society is well aware. But what happens when we forget to hold these values in relationship with other qualities? What happens when those values hold dominion over others like connection, rest, play, and humility?
As our culture has become more rooted in productivity and performance, and our fascination with technology has grown, I wonder if, on a certain level, many of us have forgotten what we are. Many of us are trying to stay competitive so we work long hours without rest or nourishment. When we feel grumpy, sick, or impatient, frustration with ourselves mounts because it gets in the way of our "to do list". I mean, "Why can't we just get over it already?!" So we often push through the feelings, tiredness, or pain, hoping it will clear up on its own. We tell ourselves, if only we do better, the "problem" will go away.
If you find yourself grappling through a similar process, I'm here to remind you today that you are NOT a robot! There is so much more to you than how much you can accomplish, and how "good" you are at what you do, and how few errors you make. We are not designed to be productive. We are meant to live.
We are human. To be human is to be dynamic. We feel. Some days we are in a funk. Some days we feel so much joy we think we might burst. There are days where we can fly through the things we wish to accomplish. There are days when we lay on the couch and binge watch Netflix, or just goof around with the kids, eat pancakes, and nothing gets done.
I say all this, so you remember its okay to go easier on yourself. Maybe we are more efficient, and effective, when we allow ourselves the room to experience the messy, and beautiful aspects of life that don't fit neatly into our box, that sometimes throw the whole agenda askew. Perhaps, it's worth finding out.
How are you going to embrace your humanness today?
P.S. Share about your experience with productivity, expectations, and honoring your humanness below. I look forward to hearing from you.
May we nourish our collective heart this holiday
As we honor Thanksgiving this year, whether gathered with loved ones or resting in solitude....
May we feel safe to be as we are, in our bodies, minds, and souls.
May we acknowledge the provision that life has offered us, and allow ourselves to fully receive that which nourishes and feeds our spirits and flesh.
May we shrug off with grace that which would diminish our light. Allowing it to roll off us, untarnished, and view it through the eyes of compassion and a desire to understand.
May we be fully grounded in our hearts and feel this capacity grow.
May we honor our roots, our personal ancestry, and that of our communities, country, and planet. May we remember that we wouldn't be here without those who came before.
May we honor their love, courage, and hope. The beauty they planted that has flourished through time and strengthened through adversity.
May we also acknowledge their shortcomings. The moments of misstep, and misalignment with deep Truth and Love. The old wounds, personal, and collective, that have yet to heal.
May we recognize this humanness within ourselves too. That we all have these capacities for love, fear, connection, and confusion.
May we find tenderness as we see these places where our souls and communities still ache. May we witness the pain and not turn away. May we say, "I am here with you, brother, sister, friend. We will heal this together."
May we be willing to forgive, and to practice it until we feel it in our bones.
May we have the courage to move into inspired action. Led by the heart, to offer greater healing to ourselves, our families, and the world.
May we trust that our love and joy ripples out into the universe, and serves those who need our gifts the most. May we remember that the choice to live from this place elevates us all.
We Are One.
Thank you for existing. We need you.
With so much love,
P.S. Have a blessing you would like to share with our community? Post it in the comments below.
Navigating times of transition.
This coming Monday marks a significant day for me. It is my last day working at a part-time job I've had for the last three and a half years as a nanny for a little boy, now almost four. I started this position when Embrace Your Essence was still a fledgling, and wasn't quite able to support itself on its own yet. Leaning into my background in early education, and spending a couple afternoons a week with this little kiddo has provided great fulfillment and joy, and also given Embrace Your Essence the breathing room it needed to grow without unnecessary demands.
Of course, over this time, both the business and the child have grown and both have different needs now. Embrace Your Essence is now in a place where it is sustaining itself, but also requiring more time and space to flourish as it continues to grow. A few months ago this became undeniably clear to me, and after a conversation with the family, I've been making the transition out of nannying and into Embrace Your Essence even more fully.
Over the course of the last several months as this has been evolving, I have been doing my best to honor the process of this transition. As the precipice of change is so close, these ways of integrating and moving through have been very poignant on my mind.
As many of you may be in transition times yourself, I would like to share some of the key pieces I've been reminded of for moving through with grace.
Get yourself plenty of space. Times to be still or allow yourself to not actively be doing something gives room to integrate all the energetic shifts that are happening under the surface. Breathe. Meditate. Sleep. Gaze out the window, or lay on the grass. Though I did mention stillness, conscious, present movement can be supportive too (such as yoga or an easy walk with the intent to be with yourself and your experience). There may be many facets of your experience that need to be witnessed so they can fully move through and out of you. If we rush around, or are constantly engaged in activity, it delays the processing of these pieces. There is nothing wrong with this, just know that they will peak their head up later to receive the attention they need. You have permission to slow down, and to say no to certain things if that feels like it will give you the room you need to process.
Get support. We all need others to help buoy us up, especially when things are in flux. Turn to people you trust who can listen, who are willing to offer nourishment in the ways you need it. Eat good food. Lean into community. Ask for what you need. Look for the ways you are provided it. Allow yourself to receive from those with whom you feel safe.
Accept and allow discomfort. Transitions bring up a whole slew of emotions. Excitement, fear, grief, hope, and everything in between. All of it is valid. All of it needs to be seen. Some of it you may be more comfortable with than others. Witness and breathe into it, and cradle it. If you can, catch ways your mind may be trying to protect yourself from fully feeling everything that is there. For instance, I noticed myself continually contemplating the appropriate goodbye gift for the family and little boy. Even though I had landed on something, for at least a month, my mind kept returning to it thinking it wasn't enough. I held this though pattern with open curiosity, knowing there was something more to this, and wanting to see how it might relate to my healing. Finally, it occurred to me. A part of me felt that if I found the perfect gift to encompass all the beautiful, rich experiences we've had together over the last three years, that it would have been a gateway for all my emotions. No such object exists. I had to trust that the unfolding of each experience we shared together in that particular moment was enough. My responsibility instead, was to sit with the full range of emotions that were present for me.
Honor where you have been. In the space and cradle of support, reflect on what has unfolded within you as a result of the experience that is ending or beginning. How has/is your soul growing and unfolding? What do you have access to now, that you didn't have before? Clarity, compassion, freedom, love, awareness, truth.... Connect with gratitude within your heart for what you have received and learned that you are taking with you.
Nourish hope. With most, if not all, transitions, something is ending, so something new can begin. The presence of the unknown makes itself unavoidably clear. At various points within the transition, fear can rear its head at the mere thought of the unknown. Sit with this discomfort, and as you do, also listen for the inklings of love and support that may drop themselves like breadcrumbs along your trail. Note them, cherish them, and put them in your pocket. Remind yourself of them when fear or doubt shows up. Move slowly if you need to to trust that you are truly safe to move forward. Course correct if needed.
Transitions can be big on the surface like a job change, moving, birth, death, or shifting through different phases of life (this includes our own phases, but also when our children, parents, and significant others move through them too). But sometimes, they show up more subtly, like letting go of a habit or belief. No matter where you may find yourself if your in transition, I encourage you to explore the processes shared above and see if they feel beneficial for you. If you feel inclined to share, comment on our blog or send me an email, and let us know what transition you are in and how you are supporting yourself.
With grace and compassion,
The conundrum that vexes many heart-centered people
I was speaking with a client recently, and through our conversation it was clear that she had been aware of things that others around her didn't seem to notice. She could tell when something was up with her loved ones even when they tried to hide it, and she seemed to have a sense of what these people needed. She could see them, or really, she could feel them. She was well aware of the pain around her, and also of the beauty and love that others sometimes could not see. It became clear: she has always been an empath.
"Now that I know I'm an empath, does this mean that it is my job to save people if I know they are suffering?" she wondered.
No, it does not. We do not have to whoosh in and rescue loved ones and strangers, because of this intuitive awareness we feel in our bodies. We also do not have to completely block ourselves off from the world, and disassociate to protect ourselves. There is a middle way. A path that we can traverse where we remain connected in our hearts and conscious of what is unfolding around us, but we remained grounded in what is our true responsibility: ourselves. We remember that also applies to everyone else. It isn't always easy to practice this when have been living the majority of our lives enmeshed or detached. But with a fair dose of self-compassion, and patience, we can connect with the strength and kindness we need to navigate life fully present. We will be exploring this life-long practice, and supportive wisdom to soak in during the Empowered Empath series which begins a week from today.
If you are curious, you can learn more here.
Feel the pull to step in with us? Three spots remain available as of today. Book & pay online, email, or call 608-335-1934.
No matter whether you find yourself with empathic abilities or not, I invite you to notice if you have any tendencies to take responsibility for other people's problems, or to distance yourself from discomfort. Explore for yourself ways that you can maintain autonomy for your experience, and surrender any burdens outside of that. I'd love to hear what you notice. Share your comments below, or send me an email.
Hope you are well,
A PSA from your friendly neighborhood Reiki Practitioner.
Happy Friday Friends!
Chances are, since you have found your way to Embrace Your Essence, that growing as a human being is of at least some importance to you. Sometimes, learning a new way of being and operating in the world is a key part of our healing. For you, what is it you may be working on within yourself? Whether your intention is to pause instead of reacting out of old patterns, cultivate self-love, develop awareness of your body–mind connection or intuition, or even to choose nourishing foods over those that provide momentary satisfaction, I would like to remind you today that it is a practice.
The process of integrating these new ways of being can sometimes look uneven, and it is easy to get discouraged if we are not doing as well as we would like. Some days we flourish, and are like gurus, ready to council others how to practice what we have learned. Other days, we completely forget our intention and fall into old patterns, only to realize we missed the boat a few days later. Some days, despite our best intentions we still can't execute what we were hoping for. Other days are marked small successes. The progression can look a little messy.
No matter what your practice is feeling like for you today, remember that it is normal. Shifting our consciousness takes time. Celebrate if you are making strides, and offer patience and kindness to yourself if it is feeling like a struggle. Just like in weight training, it takes time and consistency to build the muscles of compassion, patience, awareness, and love. Even if you fall, the more you return to your practice, eventually the more ease you will find there.
What is your practice, and how has it felt for you over time? Share on in the comments or send me an email. Looking forward to hearing from you.
From a fellow traveler,
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,
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?
Offer compassion first to yourself.
Today, I want to share with you the Buddhist practice of Metta (loving-kindness). This is a mantra or offering that you first extend to yourself:
May I be safe.
May my true needs be fulfilled.
May I have food to eat, warm clothes, and a safe place to sleep.
May I be happy.
May I develop unconditional happiness.
May I taste the nectar of flow in all activity, expansion, and contraction.
May I be healthy.
May I be resilient in the face of challenge.
May I be aware of my own limits and respect them.
May I be peaceful.
May I be at ease, awake, and relaxed.
May I be a friend toward myself and towards all beings.
You may simplify the mantra to just the first phrases of each verse if you like. Once you have extended the loving kindness toward yourself, you may choose to then offer it to your loved ones, then acquaintances, then people you feel neutral towards, then "enemies", and finally to all of creation.
I hope this practice brings you comfort, and helps soften any parts of you that are needing extra care. Even if you only offer this practice towards yourself, remember you are doing a great service to the world. Often we are the ones we need to receive the compassion from the most.
Reiki Master Teacher and Owner of Embrace Your Essence