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The Light of Self-Compassion

Recently and “out of the blue” a surge of powerful emotion  washed over me –  a deep and profound sadness for something that once was and no longer is … I chose to sit with this grief, and with beloved self-compassion allowed myself to experience the heat rising in my body, the shallowness of my breath, the familiar wave of nausea … and then –  invoking my practice … tuning into my breath, allowing the grief to flow through me and finally after considerable time, dissipating… loosening its grip. I breathed deeply into my commitment of living bravely, playfully and creatively…manifesting my full creative potential and supporting others to do so as well.

Mindfully, I chose a new path in place of my old habitual patterns. Pema Chödron offers inspiration, “this is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth… we already have what we need … you yourself experience your unlimited potential.”

So I am practicing creating light and space for self-compassion … the lyrics from an old folk song – used in Kundalini Yoga  – illustrate this perfectly… “All love surround you and the pure light within you, guide your way on” – or as I sometimes add, guide your way home…

What path will you choose to allow yourself to open to the light of self-compassion?

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Learning to Regain Your Balance in Difficult Situations & Conversations: A quick tour …

I had an opportunity (thanks Wade Van Snick) to spend a brief period of time this afternoon with a group of dedicated educators at the Nova Scotia School Counsellors Association  [the Conference Theme was – Bringing Restorative Energy & Transformative Healing to Education] sharing a few key practices to support them and their clients (students and parents) in the challenging and rewarding work that they do. This posting is to support each of these dedicated and talented folks with additional information and resources.

I created a visual map (see image) to guide us along our journey.

We began with an Invitation to Beginners Mind  (voluntarily suspending judgement & temporarily suspending opinions)  and I shared the following quote:  “Openness is like the wind. If you open your doors and windows, it is bound to come in.” Chogyam Trungpa

We practiced a Centering & Grounding technique from Presence-Based Coaching: Cultivating Self-Generative Leaders Through Mind, Body, and Heart based on the excellent work of Doug Silsbee www.dougsilsbee.com. Doug has an excellent blog as well.

We then took a quick tour through the foundational piece of what I have termed the layer cake of Difficult Conversations – What Happened? (who is right, who is to blame & it is usually not me!) , Feelings (we all have emotional footprints)  and Identity (the really interesting stuff, habits, triggers, physical reactions). Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by the Harvard Negotiation Project by: Stone, Patton& Heen.

Then the fun part of the tour moving towards the qualities of open heart, open mind accompanied by this great quote from Pema Chodron from her book Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits & Fears …”We are all a mixture of aggression and loving kindness, heart-heartedness and tender open-heartedness, small mindedness and forgiving open mind. We are not a fixed, predictable, static identity that anyone can point to and say, “You are always like this. You are always the same.” p. 31

We are all a work in progress… and as such we can open ourselves to new learning, to creating new patterns to embracing the complexity of our situation. Reframing What Happened? (we each have different information), Feelings (listening and being present with an open heart) and Identity (breath, pause, space, practice skills).

We practiced  Being Like a Mountain in a Hurricane – an on the spot – standing, centering practice (intentionally getting out of our busy worked up minds and bringing the breath to our center of gravity).  Moving from there back into one more Centering & Grounding Practice and then wrapping it up with a quote from Stephen Cope’s, The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living. ” All actions in the world are interrelated and interdependent. We create our world through our actions. Every act has the power to change the entire field of mind and matter. The universe is like one big sweater, and each one of us is knit into it. When you tug on any part of it the whole sweater moves… our actions are based on our perceptions – and our perceptions have been shaped by our earlier actions. It’s all a great loop. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.”

Following the session, one of the participants asked me for a Mindfulness book that would be useful with students – one of my colleagues who is a counsellor at the NSCC lent me, Wild Chickens & Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness by Arnie Kozak – I think it is an excellent resource.

Hold it lightly, allow yourself to let go of right answers, one right way, find a body practice that supports your health (yoga, skating, walking, skiing, gardening) and return to your breath!

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Dancing in the Middle Passage

I am currently reading a thought provoking book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up by Jungian analyst, James Hollis. Given where I am in my life story (in the second half) much of what Hollis writes is  resonating with me, “Despite the blandishments of popular culture, the goal of life is not happiness but meaning.”  How true, if  the pursuit of happiness is the only topic on our agenda we will miss the opportunity for the deeper soul work that is the antidote to the angst of the middle passage. Our culture, has devised numerous distractions to keep us from tuning in to our deep inner voice, our soul work.  I may unintentionally miss my brilliant potential to live a fully engaged life. I need to turn down the external noise, tune in, create space for silence. Close both eyes to see with the third.

How can we, each of us live a life fully engaged with meaning and purpose, knowing from our grown up experience that disappointment and loss will continue to be co-mingled with joy and growth?

How will your story unfold as you continue dancing in the middle passage?

“Feeling good is a poor measure of a life, but living meaningfully is a good one…” J. Hollis

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Opening to Expansion

 

 

I created this image, and then with perfect synchronicity, the poetic words of Rainer Maria Rilke’s appeared before me…”I live my life in growing orbits, which move out over the things of the world. Perhaps I can never achieve the last, but that will be my attempt. I am circling around…the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a flacon, or a storm, or a great song.”

I am stepping bravely, playfully and creatively into a new place. It is exciting (mostly) when fear and self-doubt do not take up too much of my inner voice. I am cultivating a more holistic self with the intention of feeding the creative fire and allowing it to transcend into all aspects of my life – this is a journey of moving from transition to integration and joyfully into expansion – living a larger more expanded life.

 

In what way do you wish to playfully explore living a larger more expanded life?

 

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Take me to the Ocean

 

Today is the official end of my summer holidays and I was compelled to head to the ocean one last time… to feel the expanse of space, the sound and energy of the waves, breathe the salt air and feel the warm sand and cool water on my feet.

“Some resonance of ocean resides in everyone. Rumi’s poetry can be felt as a salt breeze…”Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi p. xxiv

 

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What’s Needing to Arise?

I am stepping back so I can step forward into a new place. I will be travelling light only bringing what I need, ensuring there is space to listen, to learn and to embrace a wider perspective. I will be mindful of how I show up  – centering and grounding as the need arises. Permit me to paraphrase Rumi… I want to be as wide as the air, a searcher after wisdom… the world is vast and intricate and my way begins on the other side of the sky

What is needing to arise in your life? Is there an opportunity for you to travel lightly, only bringing what you need?

 

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The Art and R’s of Resting

After weeks and months of tremendous output, what do I really need? I know in my head that the natural cycle of creating and successfully manifesting my ideas into the world requires energy and at the end of the cycle I need a rest. This is a natural flow, however, as a task oriented person this creates a bit of internal anxiety. What to do? I  slow down and tune into my heart. I acknowledge  my habit of striving towards the next project, the next list. I focus on my breath and embrace the uncertainty of the space in-between.

Such was my dilemma  at 3 am one sleepless morning. I was playing with R words to conjure up the idea of the Art of Resting; Rest, Relaxation, Rejuvenation, Replenishment, Regeneration, Retreat, Renewal and then Run as in -“Run Away” came to top of mind.

We  “ran away” from home for a brief interval giving ourselves permission to leave the “to do list” behind as well as numerous other wonderful distractions and embraced the Art and R’s of Resting.

What does the Art of Resting mean to you?

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A Passion for Playfulness

I am in the first third of a Coaching/Mentoring course – working towards Associate Coach Certification {International Coaching Federation http://www.coachfederation.org/} and as part of this course which is being brilliantly facilitated over the phone by Beatrice Cooper  {www.dougsilsbee.com}  there are opportunities to practice coaching on the spot with people you do not know. Talk about intimidating – at least for me. During our session this week – Bebe invited us to be the coach and/or the client. Yikes – total silence – each of us waiting for someone else to volunteer. Then she said something that spoke to me , “not everyone will have an opportunity to practice and it is a great learning experience.” I took a deep breath and volunteered to be the coach – with the caveat – that I would dive in through my commitment of living bravely, playfully, creatively everyday …”  Holding the work with a sense of playfulness and lightness created a rich learning experience for me. I was able to stay open, listen and learn.  I  invite you to consider where  in your life you might find space for playfulness?

It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” Leo F. Buscaglia

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”Plato

 

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Embracing Beauty

 

 

How can we stay open and allow ourselves to embrace the beauty that surrounds us? How can we hold space for ourselves with ease, without judgement, without grasping – with grace? It all sounds so plausible when we are centered and grounded and are reading the “instructions” from an inspired text – but what is the reality of this process when we are in the muck of confusion? For me, it is in the creation of the visual in collage and painting. I trust the inner voice that guides me.

I unfurl slowly at first, breathing and listening. I know this much, at the heart of it I am about action, about movement in a forward direction – embracing deeper ways of being and staying open. What is my service to the fresh day that unfolds in front of me – how can I make the world a more beautiful place?

This brings to mind the following quote from a wonderful story by Barbara Cooney  called, Miss Rumphius… “But there is still one more thing I have to do … I have to do something to make the world more beautiful.”

How will you embrace and add to the beauty around you today?

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A New Beginning…

Today I  step out into a new beginning. I have been anticipating and preparing for this day for months and now that it has arrived, there is a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. I am inspired by a poem from John O’Donohue – Blessing For a New Beginning …

“Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

 

Awake your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm

For your soul sense the world that awaits you.”

 

Now it’s off to the beach!

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