I'm contemplating this morning wisdom from Lao Tzu thinking especially about my presence in relationships (with myself, my purpose, my kids and husband, the bigger community, and serving heartfully in the world). #selfcare #reallove
The end of summer can be a hard time for parents! If you are finding yourself thinking 'They shouldn't be this way,' consider a shift. What do YOU need? A two minute mindful practice, single yoga pose, or quick self-appreciation may sustain you so you can deal with how things are gracefully. #selfcare #onebreath #lovingourselves
It's not the symptoms that need our tenderest care, it's what's causing them. When we look deeper than a child's mood or words, we can start healing the root of the issue (which probably needs our understanding rather than 'fixing'). #backtoschool #reallove #imperfectmomming
When kids are in a transition they're putting lots of invisible energy into the crossing they're making. They are feeling stretched and may be extra tired, stressed, anxious, or just distracted. This is not the time to teach them everything we wish we had taught them before the transition! It's time to be steady and loving, non-reactive and calm. We may need extra emotional support from our own community in order to really be present for our kids.
Mistakes are normal!
By staying connected with our kids and curious about their choices, we keep the doors of communication open. When we share insights without trying to control their choices, we offer the best support for them to learn and grow.
A key aspect of heartfulness is to be open even to things that aren't pleasant. When we are open to unpleasant or challenging or uncomfortable situations, our hearts are also open to the good stuff!
It's not easy for most of us to accept discomfort, especially when what's happening feels like a big deal, so we start with small things. Today, following my last blog post about being aware of our senses, let's be aware of sensory experiences in a non-judging way.
Notice how you feel right now, what you sense in your body. Try noticing each experience with curiosity rather than judging. For instance, if you feel a sensation in your body, can you go beyond the immediate judgments that may come up, inner labels such as 'bad' or 'pain' or 'soreness.' What do you actually feel? Is it warm or cool? Pressure? Or emptiness? Movement? Numbness? Under the experience of 'pain,' what are the actual sensations?
Each time you notice a sensation today, see if you can go deeper than initial judgment and get to know it with curiosity.
Today, let's continue a heartful August by enjoying our senses!
If you would like to join me, stop and notice the beauty around you.
5 things you can see. . .
4 things you can hear. . .
3 things you can feel. . .
2 things you can smell. . .
And one especially wonderful thing you can taste. . .
"The time has come to accept that if we’re talking about peace in the world,
we have to consider peace within ourselves."
The Dalai Lama
When we turn our attention toward being peaceful, it's all too easy to squash what feels disruptive or uncomfortable.
Peace doesn't come from being against anything, though. It comes with being present with whatever is happening with openness and choosing how to respond to it. I can, for example, be angry and turn away from that anger, pretending to myself that I'm fine. When I do that, it's likely to erupt the next time something annoying happens. I can be angry and act on the anger, venting my anger at a person who has done something that bothers me. This is not the same as feeling anger because instead of feeling it I'm dumping it on someone else.
Or I can notice it, feeling it in my body, emotions, and thoughts, and doing nothing about it. Maybe once I truly feel it, I'll feel moved to do something, and maybe the only thing that needs to be done is to care for it inwardly. Turning inward and feeling it, accepting the experience as it is without fighting, is like riding an intense wave. It can be a scary and unpredictable ride, and I end up in a calmer place.
So today, in these intense solar eclipse energies, let's cultivate peace by feeling everything, even the absence of peace. By doing this, we truly serve inner and outer peace.
Here's some inspiration for true self-love from Brene Brown, teaching us that even those darkest and hardest inner feelings (like shame) don't own us if we're willing to face them! Watch this, you'll be glad you did.
Brene Brown, 'We need to keep talking about Charlottesville' on Facebook live.
When my kids were little and had trouble falling asleep, I used to suggest was that they think of each person they love and imagine sending them good wishes. It sometimes helped them to relax and get into a loving space as they fell asleep.
Are you having trouble sleeping? Or relaxing? Are you worried or restless?
Maybe it's a good time to try the same practice! Want to join me? We can sit and think of people we love and imagine them happy, healthy, and peaceful. It doesn't matter if they're alive or dead, near or far, from the past or present, people we know or just know of and love from afar, we can include them in our loving awareness.
In these times, the wisest people in my life are teaching about love, "Love is the answer." And I fully agree. But love doesn't come easily in dark times, does it? Especially not the sweet and gentle kind of love.
I'm not trying to respond to racism and baiting with a kind of love that is nice, polite, or comfortable. And I'm not trying to find my 'tough love' or harshness, or a love that's binary--open to 'good' people and rejecting those who offend, open to the good parts of myself and people and rejecting the messy or dark parts.
The love I need to grow is the one I sit with when I'm feeling my own painful emotions. That's a courageous love that's willing to go to the dark places and heal them. When I take care of my feelings, I don't love the feelings themselves or the crappy thing I did that I'm upset about, but I practice accepting myself anyway, recognizing the pain I caused and still sitting in company with myself. The pain and anger and dark places in me don't disappear, but they are changed by the love, by the light of my love.
This is the same love that I need for the world right now. The love of being present with the pain and the savagery, with the fear and the anger. Sitting in company, in a shared humanity, with those who committed the crappy, savage, horrible acts and those who are directly suffering from them. Not accepting the racism, not accepting the violence, holding people accountable for their actions so they have the possibility of returning to their full humanity.
I recognize the humanity that's within even white supremacists and fascists by touching the dark and scared and scarred parts of my own being. With courage (which is, of course, a quality of the heart), I sit with my own darkness and hold it in love, I sit with the nation's darkness and hold it in love.
Today's practice is to practice specific gratitude toward people who make our lives work. When you get into the kitchen and find a clean glass, you could take a moment to be grateful to the person who washed it (yes, even if it was you!). When you look at a flower, maybe inwardly thank the people who planted the seed, grew it, picked it, or otherwise helped to make that possible. When you get in your car, can you imagine the many people who've had a hand in making that car available to you and send them thanks. How many people can you appreciate today? And can you find someone to be grateful toward for everything you touch?
A few of mine:
I'm grateful to you for reading this.
I'm grateful for my son's idea of what to make for dinner.
I'm grateful for the people who contributed to the couch I'm sitting on.
I'm grateful for people who made the computer possible, and for their moms and all the people who fostered their creativity and brilliance.
I'm grateful for my own mom, without whom I would have no body!
I'm grateful for the people who build this house 140 years ago.
It feels kind of crazy to write about gratitude while there are truly horrible things going on in the world, but it's not crazy. Even now, while the threats of nuclear war that were so prominent a few days ago seem somehow less threatening than the racist violence that has erupted over the weekend in Charlottesville, there's more going on than just the horror. And by remembering what we're grateful for, we can nurture what is good, energize ourselves, and serve peace and love more effectively (both inwardly and in the world).
What do you see that you're grateful for right now?
For me, here are a few things:
Would you share a few things?
Today, let's feel what we feel. We don't need to turn away from troubling things--in the world, in our own behavior, in our families--to be love. Our work is to see them, acknowledge them, and respond to them wisely.
Let's not (as my mom always said) run around like chickens with our heads cut off. That does not serve the transformation of humanity. Let's not hate other people or ourselves, pretend things are different than they are, or project the problems on to other people.
Let's actually open our eyes and acknowledge how it is right now. Inwardly, we must use our practice to work with our own emotions (hatred, judgment, fear) and uncover even the subtle forms of intolerance and injustice. Within our families, we must practice acceptance, clarity, and presence with those who are able to push our buttons at close proximity. In the world, we must speak truth and live in service of love.
When the world seems to be hurtling toward disaster, it feels like we should be hunched over our phones freaking out. Trump and North Korea, new evidence of the effect of climate change, daily revelations about people we know who are sick or struggling, it's all worrying. And there is no more important time to practice love.
Today, if you are feeling worried or scared, please join me in a positive practice. Let's calm our bodies and make space for peace.
Align intentionally with goodness, love, divinity, and generosity. Imagine anchoring your awareness in love. Make it palpable by considering how you see love showing up in the world--the brave and open-hearted teachers in your life, the beauty of nature, a kind word or gesture from (or toward) a stranger.
Imagine love filling your whole being. Let it stream in through the crown of your head, fill you, and stream out through your fingers and toes, your heart, your throat, and everything you do and say today.
Open yourself to BE love in action today. Remember as your day unfolds, I AM LOVE.
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
Sometimes it feels like too much to turn around years of mistakes, neglect, and mess. Too much to turn around a difficult relationship, an emotional, a family habit, or even a financial or business problem. Instead of letting ourselves get overwhelmed by an entire project, let's start with just one step. What's the next step, the one thing that's up right now, that's necessary and do-able?
Today, how can you make one small step toward the positive, loving, connected life that will bring you joy?
May we be filled with loving kindness,
May we be peaceful,
May we be healthy,
May we be happy.
This moment is exactly how it is, whether we like it or not. Can we accept that it's like this?
What's up in your 'right now'? And are you at peace with it?
Are your kids loud?
Are you well-rested?
Do you already have a good plan for dinner?
Do you feel healthy?
Are you scared?
Whatever is happening, today's practice is to show up for it as it is. Of course, this includes showing up for how we feel about it and tenderly taking care of our feelings.
'Yes!' is my heartful mantra this week, but not those external and even artificial ones that are so easy to fall into. I'm practicing an inner yes.
Starting this morning, I'm saying 'yes' to how I really feel rather than how I should feel, taking time to feel the tiredness and worries in me before I start my day in the world.
Instead of being too busy for what's real in me, I'm breathing into my feelings and allowing them. I'm making space for what is real in me, whether I like it or not.
Will you join me? What is real in you right now? What needs some loving attention instead of a brushoff? Could you give yourself time to really feel what you feel, now and throughout the day?
Feeling strange today? Reactive? Emotional? Tired? Or are you noticing people around you--maybe your kids--being surprisingly reactive and emotional?
Join me in recognizing the lunar eclipse (1:22 pm EST) and full moon (2:11 pm EST) happening this afternoon! Soul Source's Suchitra Davenport shares a full moon meditation every month, tune in to this month's here to build understanding of what's up right now and to join in meditative service during this time.
Living heartfully today may look like slowing down. Can you pause between what happens to you and how you respond? Can you allow a few full breaths before answering your child's sassy comment, that difficult email, or the latest political post on social media? Can you listen to what you really need today and make it happen? Even a few minutes of quiet or a single yoga pose may be enough to sustain your most loving presence today.
Sometimes I'm just fed up with one of my kids or my husband or someone else in the world--an attitude, a mess, a way they've been careless. I get stuck mentally reviewing my grievances and their wrongdoing, my 'rightness' and their 'wrongness.'
When this happens, it feels really unpleasant. My heart closes, I feel unhappy, and nothing is fun. Letting go of the separation, to opposition, is necessarily for my own happiness and the relationship it's getting tangled up with.
By remembering that I love the person, that they are human just as I am, that this issue is not more important than our connection, I let go. I feel immediately better--lighter, happier, and more my true self. There may still be a disagreement or problem to work out, but I've reconnected with my own heart which is incredibly freeing.
Is there anything you need to let go of to make friends with your own heart? A way you're against somebody instead of with them? A way you're closed out of your heart? The courage that it takes will surely pay off for you and your loved ones.
What's happening right now that you love?
Look, listen, feel, smell, taste, connect. What do you notice that brings you joy?
A mason jar of flowers from my garden.
Talking with an old friend.
A very quiet house.
Knowing my kids are home and safe.
All of these things could be in my experience without my even noticing them. I could be thinking about everything that bugged me today. But happily, I get to choose whether to notice the things that bring me joy. Right now I'm choosing to attend--on purpose--to the beauty.
Tuesday's post, Simple Things, explored slowing down and enjoying the moment as a way to cultivate more joy and heartfulness in our lives. I love to find the joy in small moments! But I want to add something--it's not the thing happening in that moment that brings me true joy, it's the practice of showing up alive to the moment.
There are lots of beautiful things happening in our small moments that we may totally miss. And other things that we notice but don't savor.
The Simple Things practice is about intentionally turning toward beauty and joy in the present moment, noticing and savoring it. The truth is that every single moment has so many different elements--physical sensations and experiences, emotions, thoughts, connections--that I always have a wide range of things I can pay attention to. By intentionally turning toward beauty, I build the habit of connecting with it. This lightens me up, raising my frequency and opening my heart to the goodness around me.
Will you join me? What's beautiful in your direct experience right now?
Breathing in, I feel myself breathing in,
Breathing out, I feel myself breathing out.
Breathing in, breathing out.
Breathing in, I enjoy this inbreath,
Breathing out, I enjoy this outbreath.
Enjoying inbreath, enjoying outbreath.
Breathing in, I know that I am alive,
Breathing out, I am grateful to be alive.
Breathing in, alive, breathing out, grateful.
Repeat as necessary. <3
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.