The Returning Light
Ease gently back into the world.
Happy Spring Equinox,
Today, we find the light is balanced with the dark. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere we are going to get to enjoy more and more daylight until the Solstice in June.
I've been reflecting a lot lately about how we've just lived through three years of the Covid era. My conversations with clients and others have shown that this has felt like a bit of a time warp. It's hard for many of us to take in that this lasted three years, yet we also experienced moments that felt like an eternity or a standstill. My life changed in so many ways, and I can imagine that may be true for you too.
I noticed that in the earlier days of the pandemic there were several voices telling us to be aware that we were moving through a collective trauma. As such, we should be mindful, gentle and forgiving with ourselves. To adjust our expectations of ourselves, because we were doing the best we could in survival mode. Perhaps, it's just me and the information that I consume, but it seemed to me that message petered out at some point, though we all continued to live through this experience. I think many of us just got tired, and were doing the best we could to get through.
In case you need to hear this today, I want to remind you that the last three years were not business as usual. As things settle, and the light returns, continue to be gentle with yourself. It may take some time to make sense of what we all just lived through collectively, and, of course, what you experienced personally. (I'm waiting for the Ken Burns documentary! ;) ) If you feel tender, or cautious, or just ready to get on with it, I hear you! Allow space for what's there. Be kind to yourself. Try to be kind to others who are relearning what it's like to live again.
Make space to bring with you the wisdom that you've gleaned during this time, and permission to shed the stress and dysregulation that may have come with it. If you feel called, share with our community what wisdom you are bringing with you, or perhaps what you are most looking forward to or hopeful about as the light returns in the comments below.
Wishing you all a gentle, easeful transition into the spring.
A Note for You...
From my heart to yours.
Hi Dear One,
Whew! What a year! I'm letting out a big exhale, and looking forward to the ritualistic pause that so many of us take at the end of the year. We certainly have a lot to reflect upon, and continue to process. I imagine we will be doing so for several years. I've been holding with great curiosity what future historians will say about this period. What will it be like for us to hear their 20/20 perspective by then? I suppose time will tell. No matter what, we have changed. The world has changed. My heart hopes it is for the better, though I know that the direction we take is still up to us. Will we integrate the wisdom, compassion, and humility we have cultivated, or will we boomerang back to the old, disconnected ways of being when given the chance? The choice will still be there for us, when it is safe to ease back into in-person relating, traveling, working, etc. May we bring the threads of goodness from this time with us as we move forward.
What is on your heart today? I'm here with a listening ear if you wish to share tales of relief, heartbreak, gratitude, loneliness, exhaustion. Wishing you greater space to feel all that's there, a balm for any tender or raw aspects of you, and lots of deep, nourishing rest.
The support from each of you during this pandemic era is something for which I am incredibly grateful. This community kept me going (on many levels) this year. I am deeply appreciative of the loving words offered, just because, to check in, and share. For how you all adapted with me to these times, enjoying remote sessions and classes, wearing masks, and doing our part to stay safe while doing this work. The trust that you have vested in me with your well-being is not something I take for granted. Your support, referrals, and generosity has kept my business steady during these uncertain times. Embrace Your Essence will be able to continue to help others touch into the depth of their being and heal into 2021 and beyond. When I was running on reserves this year, your warmth, kindness, and generosity renewed my hope. I don't fully have the words to describe this yet, but to move through these hard times together, while still buoying each other up was a real gift. The fabrics we have woven to catch each other in our web of connection this year feels so meaningful and profound. Thank you for your care, and letting me have some place in your life (and inbox).
Monday happens to be the Winter Solstice, and the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. On this darkest night of the year, these planets will appear close to each other in the southwestern sky just above the horizon in the hour or so following sunset. This will be the first time we will be able to view Jupiter and Saturn this near each other since March 4, 1226. The next conjunction of this kind won't come again until 2080. If you are available, find a spot without trees or buildings blocking your way to watch the sunset and linger for a while. Bundle up, gather your lovies, a blanket, warm drink, binoculars or telescope if you have them, and marvel and wonder. While you're looking up, think of all of us around the globe who will be soaking it in along with you, and perhaps those who have watched centuries before, and yet to glimpse it in the future. For more info on viewing, check out this article from Scientific American. Fingers crossed for clear skies!
Sending lots of love, and wishes for your peace, health, and fulfillment this holiday season and into the new year.
Feelings Point to Needs
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,
A Practice in Loving-Kindness
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
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