Seasons and Shifting
Our planet is changing, as are we. In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle says,
“There’s a shift happening in humanity, a shift in consciousness, happening now, because it has to happen now.”
We are living in a mysterious time. I am noticing a shift in consciousness happening in my own life and in the lives of so many others. A new season is arising and unfolding.
Springtime is such a beautiful and instructive time of year. It is the bridge between two opposites, winter and summer.
As we say goodbye to spring and welcome summer, I am reminded that each season is unique. Spring is a period of rebirth, renewal and restoration. Oh, how I love the spring (minus the allergies)!
I witness tiny miracles every day when I walk outside into the sunlight and see the flowers and trees in bloom. I feel a shifting in the way the temperatures rise and fall with each passing day. In her quiet ways, Mother Earth teaches us that change is necessary for growth.
Often, out of fear, we resist change. When we resist change, we fight against nature. Yet change allows for new ideas and new life to unfold. When we allow change, we ebb and flow with nature.
Motherhood & Mother Nature
I love the neighborhood I live in. It has a quiet and charming feel to it. Shades of green and pops of color fill the landscape here. I am surrounded by trees where I live. It is part of why I love living here. We also have wild turkeys that roam free during the daytime hours. I love watching mother turkeys nurturing their new babies at this time of year. In the night-time hours, they roost in the tall trees. However, the female turkeys stay on the ground when incubating and raising their newly hatched brood. They shelter their new chicks under their wings. They patiently wait for their babies to develop their wings to fly well enough.
Recently, my youngest daughter and I were outside enjoying the sunlight of the afternoon sky. We spotted a mother turkey wandering with four tiny little babies. It was so sweet to see how these little birds followed their mother everywhere, just trying to stay near her.
These simple moments in nature can be so instructive. They allow us to ponder life’s questions and challenges.
Parenting, in this day and age, is one of the greatest challenges we face.
I am thankful to those who help me raise my own children in an ever-changing world.
I feel gratitude for my daughters and their unique personalities and experiences. I cannot raise them in the same way, because they are not the same people. They are each unique, each one with her individual struggles and strengths.
And yet, they are much the same. They are made of the same stardust.
The irony about raising children is that the older our children get, the less we know about parenting! Children humble us, hurt us, teach us, inspire us, question us, and surprise us. They remind us how little we know.
As I look back on my own upbringing, I feel gratitude for the ways in which my parents nurtured me. So often we can wonder why our parents did certain things the way they did. As I watch my own children grow, I feel a sense of empathy for my parents who, like me, did not have a guide to the perfect way of parenting. They did the best they could with what they knew. Just like me.
Like many mothers and fathers, I have hopes and dreams for my children. As they grow, they form different opinions, beliefs and ideas about the world around them. It is my job to raise and protect them, just like the mother turkey who so carefully tends to her babies. And yet, I want them to be free. I want them to discover their wings. I want them to find their own path, whatever that is.
These are the musings of my mothering heart.
There are many books and podcasts out there about how to parent. It can feel confusing to know which path to take. The world I am raising my children in is a very different world than the one I was raised in. In a way, I feel worlds apart from my children.
But when I take time to really listen, I learn more about the world they are growing up in. I begin to see them with new eyes.
The beauty of motherhood, and fatherhood, is not in the well-edited pictures we show the world, but rather in the inner workings we do in our own hearts.
Several weeks ago, I dropped one of my daughters off at school. Afterwards, I pulled to the edge of the road and watched her walk inside. I paid close attention to the world she was walking into. I began to see, from her eyes, what she was facing.
She was facing a world full of high schoolers, all being pulled in different directions. As I watched from my car that day, tears came to my eyes. In that moment, I knew that her world was challenging, just like mine. And yet, her world is very different from mine.
I felt so close to her, and yet, so far away.
She has asked me for space. This feels much different than when she was young. In her childhood days, she wanted me close to her. Snuggles, butterfly kisses and bedtime stories were our daily love language. And now, she is different.
She is blossoming.
Recently, I listened to a lovely podcast conversation between two inspiring women. Krista Tippets is the host of On Being podcast. Her podcast continues to be a favorite of mine. She interviews Sylvia Boorstein who is a mother, grandmother, Jewish-Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist. Together, they talk about raising children. They discuss how nurturing children’s inner lives can be woven into the fabric of our days. She reframes our ideas of spirituality and how we can adopt these ideas into our parenting. This idea suggests that rather than trying to fix your child, you say something like, “Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax, take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then, we’ll figure out what to do.”
Spiritual parenting, also known as conscious parenting, is a more awakened and open approach to parenting. It is parenting in a more conscious way rather than in a controlled way. It is about letting go of what we want for our children and giving them space to evolve, in their own time and in their own way. As we let go and give them space, they discover who they are. They develop emotional maturity. They become more authentic versions of themselves.
I feel so much responsibility to raise my children and instill important values in them. Children are very forgiving when we can acknowledge and take accountability for our mistakes. We we walk beside our children rather than in front of them, they are more open to loving guidance. They learn to take accountability for their actions when we take accountability for ours.
We all become empowered.
As my intention has become less about teaching my children and more about letting them teach me, I am learning so much about the world they live in and the challenges they face. As I reflectively and compassionately listen and ask questions, my relationships with them become more authentic. I am so grateful for the women in my life who shed light on these subjects and inspire me.
Speaking of spirituality, there is so much talk of it these days. What does that mean to you…to be a spiritual person?
Words limit us, and yet language is how we communicate. The very language we use is shifting. We are reframing our ideas of what spirituality is.
Several years ago, I made the very difficult choice to leave my lifelong religion. When I left, I wanted to make sure my family and friends knew why I was leaving. I didn’t want to be labeled as weak, lazy, or crazy. You see, there are many myths about people who leave. In a way, I felt like I needed to explain and defend my choice. I knew people made judgements because I had made judgements when I was in their shoes too.
So, I wrote a letter. My letter was heartfelt and true. I simply wanted the people I loved to know that I felt called to a new spiritual path. I wanted the people in my life to know that I was still a spiritual woman.
Sometimes, on our journey towards spirituality, we can develop a spiritual ego. This comes when we need to prove our spirituality, as if we have something to prove.
I can see now what I could not see then. I did not need to prove or explain anything to anyone. I just needed to trust that the choice I was making was the right choice for me, and I knew it was. Letting go of what others perceived to be true was hard for me. Eventually, I was able to let that go and learn from the whole experience.
I am not sure I understood what my spirituality was fully, at that point. For much of my life, I attributed my spirituality to my religion, as if they were one and the same. Now I understand better the truth of it all. Mormonism gave me an opportunity to experience and explore that part of myself in some ways. However, that part of me was always there. Spirituality really has nothing to do with religion, although religion provides a framework for one to develop aspects of their spirituality.
Spirituality is an innate part of all of us, no matter our race, religion, cultural background, opinions, preferences, etc. It is inherent; we are born with it. Spirituality is not something we earn because of our righteous deeds or because of a belief system instilled within us. Spirituality is not earned; it is realized.
We are spiritual by nature.
Our life’s challenge, our life’s lesson, is to learn to be human.
So, are we spiritual beings, or are we human beings?
We are both human beings and spiritual beings having the experience of a lifetime!
Right here, right now.
Spirituality is about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than yourself, which can result in positive emotions, such as peace, awe, wonder, contentment, gratitude, acceptance and presence. We may feel connected to the Divine, a Higher Power, Mother Nature, or the God within.
Spirituality has a quiet background presence to it. A person living with a deep sense of spirituality has a presence, a glow, an inner beauty that radiates from the inside out. Spirituality is a way of Being.
Being is a universal felt-sense, an inner knowing that cannot be explained but that we all experience. It is a simple and organic feeling of wholeness.
Wholeness is our essential nature. It is our birthright.
When we remember this beautiful truth, everything changes. We act in accordance with our values. We live in an openhearted way.
The windows of heaven open.
Spirituality is a practice of being present in whatever moment you are in. It can be practiced in a loving kindness meditation or taking a moment out of your busy day to feel and express gratitude. It can be experienced by walking outside in and feeling the wind brush up against your face. It can be experienced by listening to the songs of the birds. It can be sensed when noticing flowers blossom and new life bloom. Spirituality can be felt inside the walls of a church or a meditation center. It can be experienced while swimming in the ocean or walking through a meadow.
Spirituality is found in the ways in which we care for ourselves and the ones we love. Spirituality is a practice.
“Spirituality isn’t just done by sitting down and meditating. Spirituality is in folding the towels in a sweet way or talking kindly to people in the family even though you’ve had a long day.”
– Sylvia Boorstein
Spirituality is Presence.
When we are present in whatever moment we are in, we grow in our spirituality.
When we judge ourselves and one another, we limit our spirituality. Anytime we develop a mindset of one-way thinking, we become fixed in our ways. As we mature, we realize how vast spirituality is. We begin to think outside the boxes that society puts us in.
For many years I could not see beyond the limits of my belief system. For a long time, I believed there was one path to truth. A shift took place in me, and I began to realize that some of my opinions, perceptions and beliefs were limiting my personal spiritual growth. A shift in my consciousness was happening.
That shift allowed me to expand my view.
There are so many walks of life.
There are many paths to choose from.
As we contemplate the questions of life, may we remember that there are as many true paths as there are human beings.
I believe that the most important path we will ever take is the one that feels true to us in whatever moment we are in.
Often, when pondering some of life’s deepest questions, we ask, “Why am I here?” This question can either keep us stuck or set us free.
In his book, The Fifth Agreement, Don Miguel Ruiz shares:
“You are here just to be, for no reason. You have no mission except to enjoy life, to be happy. The only thing you need is just to be the real you. Be authentic. Be the presence. Be happiness. Be love. Be joy. Be yourself; that’s the main point. That’s wisdom.”
When we learn to pay attention, to be present in each moment of our lives, and to live with a sense of gratitude for each breath we take, spiritual dimensions open.
For many years, we humans have separated the ideas of science and spirituality.
Some say one is a fool to lead a spiritual life; others rely solely on spirituality without needing science to help them map their way through the world. What if both of these ideas are much more integrated than we think?
Science has given us the methods for discovering truth. Science teaches us about facts. The facts are the bones of the story.
Spirituality remains a force of generating meaning and purpose into our lives. There is a mysticism in spirituality. It is the magic of the story.
Often, they are seen as mutually exclusive. They are different, just like our own children are different. And yet, there is a sameness. They compliment each other. We don’t need to pick a side. Together, they are sisters of nature.
Both science and a sense of spirituality are needed to map our way through the journey of life.
Yoga Therapy: Mind, Body, Spirit Connection
For many years, we have compartmentalized the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. We are being challenged to reframe our ideas of their separateness. There is a sisterhood in the mind, body, spirit connection. Each of these parts of ourselves plays a different role. When these three unique parts of ourselves are in alignment, we feel whole.
In the field of Yoga Therapy, we value both fields of science and spirituality, specifically as they relate to mind-body-spirit health. We consider the relationship of our physical, mental and spiritual health as fully integrated parts of ourselves.
Just as a mother sees her each of her children as unique, we see each client as a unique human being. We work one on one and in small group settings.
We note an individual’s chief complaints, diet and lifestyle choices, symptoms, current situation and current care. Most of our work is done as we compassionately and reflectively listen, observe posture and breath patterns, note emotional and mental state of being, and assess a client’s needs.
So, we watch and observe. We note the quality of the breath and where the person is breathing from. We offer specific breathing practices to help a person learn to breathe in a more beneficial way.
When working with a person who struggles with stress, we inquire where in the body they have tension or pain. We offer restorative practices which can help alleviate pain.
We offer tools to help calm or energize the nervous system.
We use a variety of lenses, including Chakras, Koshas, Gunas, Doshas, and more.
Then, we create a customized plan of care which can empower the individual to improve his or her own health and well-being. We work with people to help them discover the tools they need to experience healing and wholeness.
As people recover from addiction, learn to manage stress, improve their sleep habits, heal from injury and trauma, and manage anxiety and depression, their entire life changes.
We do not seek to cure or fix. We seek to understand and empower. We have a specific role we play in empowering others to discover their own true nature.
Healing is an inner experience that can include support from many types of professionals, but the work always begins and ends in one’s own soul.
This work I do continues to help me as I make my way through the ups and downs of life. I feel grateful to work with family, friends and those in my community. I am in awe of their humility and vulnerability.
I love this work. I believe it can help heal and restore what is broken in our world.
Earth and Heaven Chakras
The body is such a miracle. The mind is such a mystery. The spirit is where the magic happens. When working in harmony, we live our best lives!
There is a myriad of ways to explore different aspects or qualities of ourselves. In my last blogpost, I introduced the Chakras. Chakras are spinning wheels of energy and light all throughout the human body. Chakra exploration is simply one lens to look at ourselves more closely through.
Simply put, when the chakras are blocked, energy gets stuck. Blockages happen when we experience disturbances. Disturbances are a normal part of life. We all have ’em! It’s part of the human experience.
Whether in a yoga class or a private or small group Yoga Therapy session, we move through periods of stretching, breathing, moving, relaxing and finding stillness.
We get energy, Prana, flowing. This is how we remove blockages in our chakras.
When people refer to the chakras, they typically begin from the base and move up. At our base chakra, we connect with earth. The lower three chakras are considered earth chakras- root, sacral and solar plexus. The next three chakras are considered the heaven chakras- heart, throat, third eye and crown of the head. At our crown chakra, we connect with heaven.
When the chakras are in harmonious pairs—heaven and earth—they allow us to live a balanced and healthy life. We feel restored. As we live in harmony with ourselves, with nature and with one another, heaven and earth join.
Life becomes heaven on earth.
Today, I’d like to introduce the fourth chakra…The Anahata Chakra. Its location is the central channel of the spine, the heart center. Its associated glands and organs are the thymus, lungs, chest, arms, breasts and heart. It is embraced as the heart chakra, the center of love. Its symbol, the lotus flower.
Lotus Mudra is a hand gesture. It symbolizes purity, light and beauty emerging from darkness. It is done by bringing the hands in prayer at the heart center. The little fingers and thumbs press together as the three middle fingers blossom open.
I love to practice this particular mudra in my morning meditation. It reminds me of my own personal growth and what has emerged for me as I have withstood the dark winters of my life and allowed new life to blossom.
The element represented in this chakra is air. Its primary color is green- the color of life! It’s secondary color is pink- the color of love!
“The heart chakra vibrates as the color green, the color when spring is born. It is that soft aura that we experience in the early spring which gives us hope for the future. The color is both soothing and healing.”
-Nischala Joy Devi
The practices and modalities of Yoga help us open and energize the individual chakras. There are particular poses we can do to open our hearts and receive. One of my favorite heart openers to call my students to at the beginning or ending of a class or session is Fish Pose, Matsyasana.
This pose is done by lying on the back with your legs extended and your arms resting alongside your body. Next, is to snuggle the shoulder blades into the upper back and lift the torso and head away from the floor, creating an arch in your back. A block placed under the thoracic spine can be helpful. You may release the back of the head onto the floor if it feels ok. For some, a second block under the head is useful as to not compromise the integrity of the neck.
Next, close your eyes and bring your attention to your heart space. See how the heart opens as the scapulas squeeze back and the front body opens. Begin to breathe deeply into this pose.
Simultaneously, you activate, relax and breathe.
The physical benefits of this pose are numerous. Our breath becomes expansive in this pose. Fish Pose is also a metaphor of being open to receive.
The sense of touch is connected with the Anahata Chakra. The emotion associated with this chakra is love.
Have you experienced heartbreak as of late? If so, take a moment. Wherever you are, bring your hands close to your heart. Come into Lotus Mudra and begin to breath into your heart space. Slowly, and one breath at a time, let it go. Let yourself feel all of the feels nestled inside your beautiful heart.
Tears may flow when the Anahata chakra blossoms open. We may experience feelings of grief, and we may experience feelings of love.
As we live with an open heart, without being attached to outcomes, we allow space for new hopes, new dreams, new life, and new love to be born.
A couple months ago, Dave and I traveled to Colorado with some friends. Together, we went to a Trevor Hall concert at the beautiful Red Rocks amphitheater. This place has an energy that is indescribable.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a new place with the ones we love, including beautiful strangers who no longer seem like strangers. I found myself in that place on that night. We were all connected by the music, the mountains and the star-filled night sky. It seemed unreal, and yet it was real.
As we danced and sang together that night, I was moved by the lyrics in many of the songs. One song, in particular, really spoke to me. It is a song that I have loved for a long time, but on this particular night and in this particular place, the words struck me in a new way (feel free to listen, here).
As the song played, I felt gratitude for the people in my life. I was surrounded by beautiful people. I was surrounded by friends. I was surrounded by nature. I was surrounded by love. Dave and I held each other close.
Love overtook me. I felt love for him and from him. I felt love emanating from all the people in the venue that night. Love was in the air! But what I felt beneath all that love for all the people there was a deep sense of self-love.
In that moment, I remembered that the most important love story I will ever experience is the one that takes place within my own heart.
Tears began to stream from my eyes. I felt enveloped in love.
I was reminded that love is not something to be sought after. Love is at our very center. We are made of love. It is the very fabric of our Being.
That knowledge is power.
We have the power to change this world. However, it begins within. We cannot build outside of ourselves that which we have not built within.
As we restore and find balance to the Anahata chakra, we develop compassion.
Compassion is at the heart of love. Compassion is a way of being present for someone. A person who is compassionate listens. No judgement takes place, just open ears and an open heart. The greatest gift we can offer someone is to hold space for them. A soothing presence will invite a person who is experiencing pain to feel safe. A true friend is one who listens and feels compassion. Compassion empowers us to serve. Compassion is the bridge between war and peace.
I once heard someone wise say that all things are an act of love or a call for love. Everything comes back to the heart. Love is the key to opening that door.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
ONE MESSAGE: HEAL THE WORLD
At the heart of every great story ever told is the journey of healing and love. The underlying message of all the stories we share as human beings is similar. All the great scientists and spiritual leaders we honor have taught this message in one way or another. Their stories are different, but their message is the same: Heal the world. Love, above all.
As we practice spirituality and embrace science, we restore balance. As we live from a place of love, we bring it into our homes and into our communities. As we develop compassion, we end war, we build bridges, and we live in peace. We build a more beautiful, peaceful world.
We are reframing our ideas of love, parenting, spirituality, science, health and well-being. This the season we are in. A season of change, growth, expansion and healing. This is the shift in consciousness that is happening in the world right now.
How do we heal the world? We heal the world, one heart at a time.
This is how we build a new earth and a new heaven.
There’s never been a better time to do this work. The time is now.
A Gift, From My Heart to Your Heart
Finally, I wrote and recorded this simple meditation. It is inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, which is a favorite of mine. This a 15 minute Yoga Nidra practice, including imagery, guided breath work and a song.
You can listen to it anywhere, anytime. There is no wrong or right way to do this. Just find a quiet place. Allow your heart to be open. Feel whatever arises.
Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. Take this ride…
All my love,