What Enlivens You?

 

The day is magnificent. The sky a deep clear blue. The temperature crisp with leftover night frost on the windshield, but with the promise of a warmer day on the way. I am going out for a run for the first time in weeks. It feels like a big deal, because it is. This is much more than an act of habit, or getting some exercise. This is an act of me staking a claim for my own aliveness.

I am choosing for what brings me energy, as opposed to for the conditioned fears of my own mind or what conventional “wisdom” might say. You see, after getting sick recently, I have been left with a lingering cough. The kind of cough that seems it could go in any direction. A cough that has been defying all my attempts to clear it. A cough that has got my fear-based mind conjuring up all kinds of scenarios.

Bronchitis? Pneumonia? Maybe the things I know to be true about how a body heals don’t apply here. Maybe it’s my age and this is just what I can expect from here on out.

“Fuck that” is the conclusion I finally came to this morning. Why am I going to give over my precious life to made-up fears? Why am I going to link up to cultural narratives that I abhor? Why am I going to diminish my own aliveness and what is possible by playing it safe? Why am I going to link into the widespread addiction of fearing my own body?

And so out I went. Not in defiance, and certainly not in denial. But instead, I went out with myself to see what this body of mine was up for. Not to push it or control it, but to be with it and what it had to say.

And you know what it said?

“This is great and you’re doing great!” It feels so good to be out here. So good to be feeling the sun and the rhythm of my own feet on the Earth. I’m so happy. So grateful to be alive!”

We all know how to be fearful, cautious and careful. But do we know what brightens our Spirit? We all know how to dull our aliveness through anxiety, worry, eating too much and more. But do we know how to feed our own life force? We all know the cheap sense of aliveness we get from drugs, alcohol and the screens. But do we know how to nourish the sacred energy that flows through us?

What brings you alive? Do you even know?

It’s not hard, and it doesn’t cost a thing (other than your interest and commitment). Step outside. Feel the sensation of temperature and weather. Let go of judging that it’s too this or that for you. Instead, tune into the fact that each sensation lets you know you are here. You are alive. And that you have a choice about how to be with it all.

Balance

 

Here we sit right at the Fall Equinox. A time of equal light and dark. One moment in time balanced on the turning of the outer Universe. Reflecting back into our own inner Universe what is possible when we align with what is most natural and true to who and what we are.

This is not easy. The human mind will take anything, even the concept of balance, and turn  it into something to commodify, sell, and then use as some impossible standard with which to beat ourselves up with.

The Truth is, there is no work-life balance. There is no magical place where everything is accounted for and taken care of. No place where you will finally have all the time, resources and energy to… fill in the blank. And there is no treatment, supplement, book or practice that will gift you with a final resting spot of eternal balance.

Instead, balance is a choice. A seasonal one. A daily one. A moment by moment one.

Balance is elusive, shifting, able to be found, unnerving, arduous and simple. Sounds like one big contradiction. That’s because it is. You cannot chase balance. You cannot make it happen. But you can cultivate the conditions for it to thrive. You can court it by inviting it into your life. You can shepherd a way of being that honors it.

Even so, you will lose it, find it and then lose it again. As my first yoga teacher said about the balancing postures, “You need to fall out of balance to know what true balance is.” That means we have to include it all. The times we feel balanced, and the times we don’t. And we have to be willing to study both, closely and intensively, to know what it takes.

What it asks of us.

That’s because balance is a living energy as opposed to something you purchase. One that cares not about your ideas, but only seeks to know itself through its opposites: Like night and day, male and female, off and on, right and wrong, good and bad, soft and hard, strong and weak, etc.

Imagine yourself as a set of balancing scales. Learn to notice which side of things you tend to fall towards. Too much busyness? Add a pinch of rest. Too much mental pushing? Add a moment of a hand over your heart. Too much talking? Be silent for once. Too much focus on others? Practice some selfishness. Too much screen time? Go outside for a breath or two.

It doesn’t take much. Just an intention to watch when the scales have tipped too far in one direction, and then being willing to add a dose of its opposite. As Ayurveda would say “Opposites balance.” So find what you do too much of, figure out its opposite and begin to weave it into your repertoire. It may never be your default or go-to, but it will go a long way to balancing your own inner light and dark.

JOY

 

I am making my rounds on our Farm; opening up the chickens, weeding the medicine garden, picking berries, noticing what is happening, and in general, just poking around. On this morning, despite what my have-to list would say I need to accomplish and in what order, I am allowing myself to be led.

This willingness takes me right to a magical moment with a hummingbird who lands on the fence before me. This alone feels incredible as it is rare that I do not see them in motion. Her stillness gives me a chance to really appreciate her little green iridescent body sparkling and shimmering in the light.

When she alights, she goes to all of the sunflowers, black-eyed susan’s and honeysuckle that is spread out before me. Given her momentary interest in yellow, I secretly hope she will mistake my sunflower tattoo for a real flower and come close enough for me to feel the beating of her wings.

In this moment, I am reminded that from an animal teacher wisdom perspective, the Hummingbird is all about Joy. As I watch in utter stillness so as to not spook her, I hear that while we all want to experience joy, it cannot be chased, grabbed, tricked, or lured in. Nor can it be bought, forced, scheduled, ordered or mandated.

It can only be allowed. Opened to. Aligned with. Invited in. 

There are no short cuts, and no one else can give it to you. Partly this is so because it is already in you, and partly because Joy is a mistress who knows her own mind and cannot be coerced to show up. Ever. Instead, she must be courted with great reverence and respect. With no agenda or expectation of her arrival, for she does not take kindly to false and showy displays, or to greedy demands.

Instead, only when the conditions are worthy of her gifts does she burst upon the scene from within. Creating an explosion in the chest that can set you to weeping over the magnitude of Joy herself. An experience like none other, that simply arises unbidden out of the most “simple” of moments.

All of this leads me to mourn the chasing we all do, based in a confusion we have succumbed to around the Nature of Joy; that innate and God-given revelation that answers not to the ego, but to the very living of Life itself. On Life’s terms.

Want more joy in your life? Court her. Slow down enough to notice. Take interest in the simplest of things; those moments in life that reflect Life, as opposed to another man-made demand. Allow yourself, for even one moment, to be without an agenda. This is not easy to do. But if you can do it for even one instant, you will have created an opening big enough for a hummingbird to fit through.

True Power

 

I am running at the ocean’s edge on the last day of my time away, and I am struck by the immense power of the ocean as waves smash against the shore; followed by visible rip currents. I am stopped by the enormous power doing its thing right beside me. And yet, as vast and powerful as the ocean is, it is pulled and directed by Something Far Greater. Yes, the moon. But even beyond that.

And it occurs to me, “Just like us.”

The big difference being, of course, that the ocean does not draw back from its raw and wild strength. Nor does it believe itself to be more powerful than it actually is. That level of ignorance and hubris belongs solely to human beings. The only species to both negate and inflate our true powers here on Earth.

We see this in the ways we try and control every facet of the world from the weather we wish we could manage, to the weeds we try and destroy, to the bugs we don’t like, to trying to manage and control other people and other countries. We see it in all the ways that we do not know our proper place here on Earth, as we believe we are the dominators and the controllers of how the waters flow, while we engineer fake foods, genetically modify organisms and now, even our very own bodies through all of the technological ‘innovations’ we are so proud of.

The very same ones that leave us believing we are the most powerful force in the world. Even as we sicken and suffer, while spreading dis-ease everywhere we go now, we continue on course because we are after all, in charge of it all.

Simultaneous to the misplaced power we ascribe to ourselves, we fear the power that is ours, and only ours, to rightfully claim. We deny our creativity, our instincts and intuitions, our voice and what it is that makes us unique in the ‘service’ of fitting in. We sidestep speaking our truths because we imagine dangerous societal repercussions. And we do our very, very best, to make sure we never, ever, stick out too much. Never draw outside of the lines or make a wave.

And even when we do go ‘against the grain,’ how often is our behavior more of a rebellious reaction, as opposed to a true expression of our authentic power? Behavior that arises purely and organically, and that has nothing to do with anything other than an expression of our own true Nature.

Do you think that the ocean cares that it is too rough for us? Do you think it worries that we are afraid of, or inconvenienced by, its deepest and most feral contents? Do you think for even one second it stops being what it is to fit in with our beliefs about what it should be?

We would all be well-served to dig a little deeper into our truest Nature. That which is undeniably beyond opinions and reactions (ours or another’s), while coming to the realization that who we are is not between us and other people, it is between us and that which created us.

Inspired by the ocean and by Mother Teresa’s poem “Do it Anyway.” And if you would like to reclaim the healing power that resides within you, consider joining me for The Healer Within.

Natural Rhythms

 

There is a vast difference between how I am “supposed” to be and how I actually am.

This can get lost, obliterated even, in the day to day expectations and demands of a world that no longer honors, never mind knows, what it takes to be a human being. Which is why I take to the natural world daily. And then on select occasions, why I take deeper forays into what is wild and untouched by the abuses of man.

Last weekend, one of these deeper experiences took the form of going into the mountains. Alone. Some people understand the solitude-seeking, and others are frightened by it. Yes, anytime we are alone, there will always be a mix of it feeling so right while simultaneously including fears of all sorts. But beyond either is the possibility of resetting my own internal clock. Of returning to what is most natural in me.

Like eating, moving, sleeping and relating on my own timetable. Something that can get ignored or distorted in modern life. Basic needs that call to be met according to their own internal clock, as opposed to the clocks that tell time and help us keep appointments, while being on someone else’s schedule.

While I was away, whether I was eating or hiking or sitting and staring into the wilderness, I kept asking the question, “What would it mean to live at the speed and need of my own natural rhythms?”

It went like this:

Since I have no where to be and am not on anyone else’s time frame, do I really need to be driving this fast?

Can I respond to the need to pee instead of gutting it out for the next hour?

I know I had one hike in mind, but can I change my mind mid-hike? Can I go longer? Or shorter?

And on a beautiful sunny afternoon in the mountains, can I crawl back into bed?

The mind has its own ideas about all of this. But I am not asking my mind. I am asking my body. 

Despite how many of us have become separated from this way of being, the capacity to tune into our own natural rhythms are encoded right into us and wait only for us to give it space and recognition. To honor it for what it is and what it can teach us. Like how to live well in the world we were born into. This was something we knew all about when we were little. We lived at the speed of the body. We didn’t just follow the rhythms of the body, we were the very rhythms of the body itself.

Now to you. “What would it mean for you today to live according to the speed and the need of your own natural rhythms?”

 

 

 

What Will You Resource?

 

I am in practice this morning setting an intention for the month to come. Here in this moment, everything seems so doable. So clear. So full of possibility. And yet, I also know that when I meet up with the ways of the world, along with my own personal habits and limitations, I will have a choice to make. A choice that will feel far more difficult out there, than it does in here on my yoga mat.

That choice being: Do I do what I always do? Or do I do something else?

It is never easy “to do something else.” Our brains have a proclivity to default to the past to decide what to do. So whether it is your own personal past, or the evolutionary past of your reptilian brain, when challenged, you will always go to what you did in the past, as your first go-to. This makes good sense. Of course our brains would reference a past challenge to see what we did, and then go from there.

The problem being, that as long as we are still alive, our primal, default system believes that what we did in the past must have been successful because we’re still here. This part of our brain does not take into account the emotional and spiritual suffering we are experiencing by doing the same unsuccessful things over and over again.

There is no fighting with the most primitive parts of us. They need what they need. However, we can appeal to Something Else. For me, that always comes in the form of the Natural World.

I see this today as I make my intention, and then feel the uncertainty of being able to hold to this intention when challenged. At that very moment, the most poignant of questions arises: “When I am challenged, what will I resource?”

Instantaneously, a bird flies across my line of vision. As big as a crow, but not flying like a crow. I lose it as it lands in the trees. I find it again as it begins to beat out its rhythm. The telltale sound of the Woodpecker. I burst into tears as I realize I always have a choice as to what I will reference. Whether that be the same old unsatisfying ways or, though experienced as risky by my “past,” new ways that are more in alignment with the rhythms of my soul.

So, here’s the question: As you step forward in this day, will you resource a past that has kept you alive, or will you resource what allows you to thrive? 

If Only I Had Known

 

My husband and I are walking through a section of woods that has been logged over the past year. Where once I could have followed the trail blindfolded, I have no idea where I am. Or how to get from where I am, to where I want to be. It’s disconcerting.

I find myself saying, “If only I had known this was going to happen, I would have paid attention in a different way.” The magnitude of that statement stops me cold. For how often have we all said, across all times and spaces, some version of, “If only I had known…” 

In hindsight, with the evidence already clearly laid out before us, it seems a no-brainer. As in, How could I have missed this? How could I have not seen or known?

Herein lies the great dilemma around what is within our power of observation, and what is beyond it. I think much of the time, we have no idea. Instead, we muck around in places we have no control over, while simultaneously abdicating the power we do have. We dump all of our precious attention into worries, distractions, obsessions and fears; getting so outside of ourselves and what is actually there, that we, in effect, become blind.

We do not want to see things as they are. We want other people to be other than what they are. We want the world to be other than what it is. And we want our bodies, our lives and our relationships to be other than what they are. In the meantime, we miss the Truth of the landscape that we are currently occupying, and moving through. In so doing, we become disoriented, losing our way.

The Truth is, you will never know what to do next, or how to get to where you most want to go without first knowing where you are. Whether that is in the woods, in the world, or in the forest of your own mind, body and soul. We cannot be trying to get somewhere without first knowing exactly where we are. But that requires courage, and a willingness to admit when we have no idea where we are, what we are doing, or where we are even going.

It is hard work to be with where you are in any given moment. Harder still though is to live with the unintended consequences and the lost opportunities of waiting for hindsight to give you 20/20 vision.

Waiting To Be Born

 

I know things are hard for many of us right now. I know the world feels like it is burning. And I know that many of us wish it was not so.

But it is.

I realize that sounds harsh, and maybe even heartless, but if we can see that there is meaning, or at least the possibility of meaning in all of this, than we can choose to make it so. What am I talking about? I am talking about that when everything is in ruin, when it feels like there is no way out, something is waiting to be born. Something that has never been allowed before is trying to get in.

Something is painfully wanting and seeking our attention.

I keep having an image of myself as the one giving birth to something, as well as the one being born, as well as the one in attendance. I am the birther. I am the midwife. And I am what is being born. It is all so very, very trippy. And all so very, very timely. For who could deny that the time is here. The time is NOW for everything that stands before us. There is no other time than now to address what needs our attention.

But only if we can see it as so. Only if we can understand that the excruciating pain we are all experiencing are birthing pains; the necessary signaling to us to stop, pay attention, and get ready.

I don’t know about you, but I am done. I am done squandering my life force and my happiness in my attempts to live according to some standard that does not include me. I am done pretending that what the world is doing is okay by me. I am done being part of a system that does not value Life.

And I am not the only one who is done. The Earth herself is done. She has had it. And rightly so.

I do not say this with doomsday reports. I say this in a “Way-To-Go-Mother Earth” kind of way. I say this from the perspective that she will be just fine without us. That she does not need our saving. Nor will she wait for us. Instead, we need to catch up to Her Reality, for she will most assuredly go on with, or without us.

Do you know what it is that really needs saving though? Us.

Harder than managing a climate crisis, or any other global event for that matter, is the recognition that everything that stands before us that needs doing, is an inside job. How could it be anything but? Our thoughts, behaviors and choices are what have gotten us here. So it will only be the awareness of this, and the changing of what we are doing, that will shift anything.

Quelling the onslaught of pollution or climate change, or any global issue, pales in difficulty, as great as it is, to what it takes to turn one human mind from unconsciousness to Grace.

In the end, saving the Earth is a natural outgrowth of saving ourselves. We have it all backwards whenever we begin outside of who we are and what we do. I think we flip things as a distraction, and because we have been conditioned so. For as intense as the suffering can be around all of the world’s ills, it is far easier to be with that, than changing old and outdated mindsets.

A Higher Perspective

 

Last weekend I created a self-guided retreat for myself in the mountains of New Hampshire. While I was not sure how I would spend my time overall, one thing I knew for certain: I needed to get out on the trail and into the mountains at daybreak.

So it was so interesting to watch my mind go from an intuitive certainty and excitement, to fear. It was dark. I didn’t know where I was going. I had no idea how long the hike would take, or what I would encounter. What if I got hurt?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

One of the things that I love so well about being in the woods alone, especially if it is at all a strenuous endeavor, is the way that my mind reveals itself for what it is. That being, a fear-mongering machine. And then, what I love most, is the way that the Presence of the Natural World offers me a clear reflection of reality. If I so choose.

There are so very many ways to be afraid these days. Some legitimate, but far too many exaggerated, fabricated, and even, intentionally generated.

So how are we to know? How are we to distinguish between what is real and what is made up when it comes to the fears that come out of our own minds? In modern day living, at least initially, this is a moment to moment observation of, along with a challenging of, what pops up that terrifies us. It is a commitment to discovering when it is that what frightens you, has no merit. And then making the choice to intentionally steer clear of what that is as often as you can.

For instance, I know there are many who would say that it is inherently unsafe for a woman, maybe even an older woman just coming off an injury, to be alone in the woods. To be somewhere where literally not another soul knows where she is. And perhaps they would be right on any given day. But that would just be speculation based on fear and a mindset that says the woods are a risky and dangerous place, and that a woman alone in the woods is automatically problematic.

That one perspective alone would be more than enough to stop me, and if it didn’t stop me, at least enough to ruin a perfectly good walk in the woods. You see, it is all a matter of perception. We will always find exactly what it is that we are looking for. From one state of mind the woods are a perilous place filled with ticks, slippery river crossings, predators of the human kind, and wild animals seeking to harm you. Or… It can be a place of absolute solace, inspiration and Mystery.

The choice is always ours.

Sadly, many of us never even get this far because we have been trained and brainwashed into believing that we cannot trust our animal instincts. That we are separate from the woods; having been spoon-fed on outrageous and distorted images via a screen that disconnect us from our truest Nature, and leave us terrified of what we cannot control. And then, we go on to erroneously believe that holed up in our control based lives, we are safe.

Never seeing that we are only half alive.

Personal Power

 

I am on Cape Cod as a storm blows through. Thunder and lightening. Heavy rain. High winds. When I wake and hear the storm, I am compelled to go out to see the ocean before She calms. As I make my way to the bluffs I pass a man, who in our brief exchange, informs me that, “the ocean is angry today.” While I recognize that assessment is as close as he can get to something about what he has seen, I also know deep in my bones that that is not an accurate description.

The ocean is not angry. She is unleashed.

Depending on your relationship to personal power, Nature can be many things; angry, awesome, terrifying, inspiring, life-giving, life-taking. You name it. How we feel when we see Nature at her fullest says more about us than it does about Her. It says more about our relationship with raw, uninhibited, and unapologetic power than it does with any misstep on her part. How we see the natural world exactly parallels our relationship with our own experience of personal power.

For instance, if we are needing to control and manage the elements, expecting Mother Nature to get in line with our comfort levels and expectations, it means we do the same to ourselves. And to others. It means that we allow that same level of imposed and artificial containment to be done to us. One way or another.

Look at all the things we do, every single day, because we feel like we should. Because we believe, and are told, that this is what makes us a good person. I know, I know, we do it for others. We do it because this is what society expects and needs from us. That without us containing our power, society would break down. But here’s the thing that many of us never, ever, investigate: Where is the truth, and the line, around being yourself, and being a contributing member to the community? So while there is an argument to be made for the necessary and vital tension required to balance the needs of the individual and the needs of the group, is it actually true that we need to tamp down and tame ourselves in order to belong? In order to do good?

If you are interested in exploring personally where that line is for you, learn to pay attention to the conversations in your mind around what you need to do according to others. What it is that you have made to mean what good is. What you have convinced yourself of what it is that you must do in order to fit in. To be thought well of. And then, wonder to yourself, “What would the power of the ocean have to say about that?”

We are not here to acquiesce to the distorted demands of a world that has confused what real power is. We are here, instead, to express the fullness and the totality of who and what we are. To do anything less is a lie. An error of judgment. A case of mistaken identity and misplaced allegiance.

Raw power. Unleashed. Unapologetic. We interpret it as unsavory and unwanted because we have forgotten what it feels like to be free. Wild. And unencumbered by falsehoods imposed from within and without.