November Insights, Offerings and Books to Read
Warm greetings on a beautiful, crisp fall morning. The house is quiet, the sun is shining and I sit in reflection about what I want to share with you from my recent travel and studies.
Since I last wrote to you I have spent time in learning environments with Michelle Obama, Jon Kabat- Zinn, Anderson Cooper, Arianna Huffington, Brené Brown and Ethan Nichtern. I have also taken sabbatical from my private practice in psychotherapy, a path I began 17 years ago as a research assistance at The Children’s Center studying attachment and trauma in children and families. I have transitioned fully to teaching meditation, mindfulness, compassion and self-compassion. I am deeply honored and grateful to be supported on this path of teaching, loving and healing.
What I know to be true: Now is the time. We cannot wait to take care of ourselves because how we care for ourselves translates into how we care for one another and how we care for the planet. It’s time to cultivate wakefulness in our moment-to-moment lives. What holds you back from making changes that will support your health and well-being?
A little tidbit about me is that I like to read magazines from back to front. I share this with you because I am curious if you are open to a self-inquiry process of looking back as a way to begin anew. I am truly interested in supporting you to understand your essence, with which personal qualities you align and when you feel the most free to show up to life from a place of unconditional love for yourself and those around you.
What do I mean by this? Much of the time we walk around with a veil of xyz that impacts how authentically we live. Most of us can relate to this with a simple example of a conversation with the checker at Whole Foods which goes something like this: Checker asks, Hey, how is your day going? You reply, it’s awesome! Meanwhile you have a mixed tape running in the back of your mind of all the reasons why it is not awesome and that is where your attention stays for most of the day. This is where the majority of us live, in the background of our minds where we spend time connecting more with negativity and less time with authenticity, trust and love.
I then ask you, do you feel that Joy is an innate human condition?
Is it possible that joy is always with us and we cover it up with a veil of fear, shame, worry + blame (to name only a few)? If this resonates with you, then I invite you to take a moment to close your eyes and take 3 deep and cleansing breaths - breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Take a moment to reflect on this question: Who am I when the doubt, negativity, worry and criticism fall away? Take your time. See yourself. Feel yourself as you imagine shedding these layers to uncover your true and clear essence.
What did you experience? Maybe you felt your to-do list fall away, even just for a moment? Maybe a loving phrase came to your mind such as “Everything will be ok.” Maybe you felt ease in your physical body and were able to connect to the breathe a little more deeply? Or maybe your heart softened and you felt a sensation of warmth arise in your chest?
I practiced along with you and I saw clarity, trust and love and I experienced this in my body as relaxation. If you struggled and did not feel anything in the exercise then you can imagine what life would be like for you if you embodied trust more than fear? I should clarify that there is nothing wrong with difficult or negative emotions, they after all, are part of the shared human condition and they provide us with information and an invitation to take deep and loving care of ourselves.
However, if we do not spend time remembering and living from our true essence then we forget home base. We forget who we were on page one of our life story. THIS is home base, the rest is likely learned just as we learn to harden our hearts in response to life stressors. When we can see clearly the limiting attitudes and beliefs we apply to our present moment experience and return to page one, to who we really are, we see things more simply and we can see how our attitudes and beliefs add layers of stress, distraction and dis-ease.
Conversely, we are reminded of the natural qualities of love, kindness, gratitude and belonging that we all possess. I want to support you in remembering to return to your essence, your innate goodness that is always with you.
When you remember your innate goodness you will see it more easily in others and the possibilities of this mindset are limitless. When we learn to be in a loving relationship with ourselves we remember that there is no part of ourselves that is unlovable and this remembering supports us in extending the same compassion to everyone around us, no one is excluded because we are willing to be in loving relationship with all parts of ourselves.
Brother David Steindl-Rast is a Catholic Benedictine monk and he dedicates his life to sharing ways in which we can live in wakefulness, which he calls “Grateful Living.” To paraphrase a recent interview with Brother David: We all share the yearning to be happy and joyful, with happiness that lasts. Happiness that lasts is Joy.
Brother David offers this practice for a joyful day:
STOP become present, awake, aware, receptive...take a breath...pause
LOOK notice, observe, consider, have a direct experience...see the trees around you
GO acknowledge, take action, do something with gratitude...let life impress you with its beauty
May we all remember our essence and remember to live from this place which opens us to Joy, Gratitude, Trust and Heart-felt service.
With love and peace,
Mindfulness, Meditation and Yoga Retreat at Red Butte Gardens.
9 am- 4 pm, Sunday November 19th. For details and to register, click here.
January 2018 Compassion Cultivation Training,
An 8-week course designed to develop the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness for oneself and others. Click here for details and to register.
What I'm Reading This Month
Product update at the Shoppe at Metta Mindfulness:
Custom necklaces will arrive this week from southern California!
Watch: A Grateful Day with Brother David Steindl-Rast (see video below).