Marching Towards our Deepest Intentions

strong women.jpg

Millions of women are marching today to let their voices of protest be heard.  Marching towards a better, more equal future.  They are turning towards our political reality and confronting the forces in place. How about your inner reality? What do you want to change that may require a turning towards, perhaps with the determination of a march? 


After the Holidays and an energetic turning outwards, it is now January and that pushing energy needs a rest.  Again it's the natural time for this - rainy, colder, darker, perfect for slowing down and taking notice of how you are and where your are. Tapping into also what you are hoping for in the future.  A turning towards the interior life and body, both of which could probably use a big dose of self care.  And the future is now. 


How do we do this?   Not in the same sense of checking something else off our to do list or even in declaring your New Years resolutions, most of which apparently go unnoticed by February.


It's a determined shift in attitude, or a change in perspective, and setting aside the time to internally check in.  It's a time for de-cluttering of home, heart, and mind - time for real conversations, quiet and rest, and time to dig deep below the everyday expectations to find out just how we are and what we want for ourselves this New Year.   And as a protest March relies on the supportive group, this interior work too may need some outside support - friends, family, or professional resources.


Taking care of a cold requires lots of orange juice, vitamins, extra rest, all because our bodies tell us that we need extra self care when we get sick.  How about stress?  At times our bodies too are telling us we are stressed and this needs care as well.   I have been known to say "I don't really have much stress in my life."  Recently various external situations changed overnight creating a lot of stress and Bingo all of my chronic issues flared up.  Issues I was sure were not related to stress but turns out stress is a factor, always a factor.  Which is why taking the time to be quiet and honestly turning toward what you really need for yourself is the self care your body has been calling for.  And now is the perfect time!


Singhashri, meditation teacher and Breathworks trainer, warns against a brash assessment when turning towards.  Encouraging us to turn towards with an appropriate amount of positivity or else risk slipping into self defeatism or doubt.  The turning towards, yes is choosing to look at what we typically want to ignore and more important, it is creating a space for something else to happen.  


So I'm going to be turning towards a fresh sense of self care and wonderment.   How about you -  what would you like to turn toward and how will you do it?  Just as important how will you remember to do it? 


Nothing is more intimate than noticing the breath in the body, meditating with no expectations except for coming home to just who this body is and what it needs. On February 12th the San Francisco Buddhist Center will be offering meditation classes again.  I will be co-leading the Mindfulness of Breathing, an age old practice of bringing awareness to your breath and I hope you can join me.  Take advantage of this fresh New Year, naturally a reflective time, and turn towards the things that are calling you and important for your body right now.   


March On !  

Try these 5 ways to Breakthrough Challenge

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

How to find ways toward that bigger expanse!

Life - the highs, the lows, the challenges.  Let's talk Challenge and our response to challenge. There are many - Maybe a difficult relationship, not feeling vibrant or healthy in our body, overwhelmed by daily demands, or conversely just plain bored and dulled with the daily grind.  Any sound familiar??
Most often we will respond in our habitual way, because that is easiest, and when we are under stress - we go for easy.  And I am guessing the popular ways (because I have done them all myself) to respond are; ignore and deny, anger, dipping into self pity, resignation, distractions, or blindly powering through. All of these in addition to not working very well, build up in our bodies and create havoc - headaches, fatigue, unhappiness or worse.
Let's look a little more closely at overwhelm and resistance. Overwhelm is a popular predicament - many of us just feel so bogged down and lost in overwhelm. Did you know that overwhelm is a version of being in victim mode? That feeling of powerlessness, giving up, not taking responsibility for life's situation, why oh why is this happening to me?
And then there is resistance - my personal favorite. Resistance is an energy zapper, an avoidance scheme, heavy and exhausting. It has a fear base to it and makes everything seem so much harder than it needs to be.  Now that is a challenge!  The poet David Whyte wisely says ~ "The price of our vitality is the sum of all of our fears."
What if we were to turn toward this challenge and get really curious, honestly curious? What is going on underneath the layers?  What do we feel in our body?  If you were to take a wild guess, what do you think is feeding this challenge? And then continue diving deep into it from much to uncover !
This may sound not so interesting or difficult but the challenge looms! And that in and of itself is uncomfortable or maybe even painful. So breaking through a habitual response might really be worth it.  Recognizing where we really are with a situation and acknowledging the responsibility we hold in this, is the first step to meeting a challenge. 

5 ways to get Started with this process of breaking through.

Try on a different perspective, looking at the issue from a new angle. Perhaps imaging stepping back, way back, so that you get the big picture, as if you were a movie director, or a stranger peering in, What Patterns Do You See?   

Honor what your body is telling you it wants to do.  Listening in for the Clues of tightness, guardedness, deadness, maybe even a sense of nausea - all tell tale signs that there is another, easier way possible. Then trust your intuition on what that might be

Embrace the looseness and Lightness of Being Creative. This could be wearing mismatched clothes, dancing by yourself with the music blaring, coloring out of the lines, whatever your routine is try to do it, approach it, differently.  Hint:  No one does creative perfectly, in fact imperfect is better.  

Ask for Help. There are times when we all need to talk with a friend, a relative, a professional. Pick your confidante wisely so that it feels safe to be vulnerable and genuine. This offers not only support but possibly new views into what feels like a bleak situation.

Make Time to Be Alone out in nature. There is a lot of beauty and wisdom to absorb in those silently present 400 year old oak trees, million year old boulders. Perhaps lie down on the earth, contemplating the ever changing clouds, our expansive blue California skies. Experiencing the innate truth that everything changes, your situation is not fixed.

 So pick one, trying to keep your mind open to new possibilities without going into your habitual pattern. Recently I was lucky enough to expand my training with Lucid Living, an advanced program that helps me help my clients move past what they find challenging into a place that feels better in every aspect of their life. If you are curious, or want to share something about all of this, reach out. I am here for you and believe that our challenges can connect us in this evolving dance of life.


Rest and Relaxation

Big Ridge reflections

Big Ridge reflections

We all dream about a little R&R; a beautiful beach, turquoise waters, languid, slow days or perhaps a cabin in the woods with a good book and a babbling creek.  What a vacation that would be!  Maybe in May, maybe next year....

Our bodies need some R&R as part of the balance, part of the ritual of everyday life.  Just like they need exercise, healthy food, a good nights sleep.  Ideally this time would be a part of our daily or weekly life and yet so often more pressing things take over - that never ending to do list, the family responsibility, even the laundry - become more important than balance in the body.  And when you have internal conditions like an illness or a demanding external situation creating stress, then this place of rest and relaxation becomes even more important. 

Our bodies are amazing.  They are resilient, forgiving, strong - until they're not.  They are only human and can absorb only so much stress and strain before they protest in not so pleasant ways.   And if you are listening carefully perhaps they are only asking for a restorative nap.  Or perhaps a long hike alone to an amazing vista.  Or luxurious time spent having an excellent massage.  All of these become valuable gifts to ourselves especially when we add the magical ingredient of being wholly and truly present during these times.  Acknowledging "Hey I see you over there tight left glute muscle, I care about you sore wrist, I feel your fatigue, your weariness AND I am going to take care of you with some loving attention.

For me, my body needs daily resting naps. Whether 20 minutes or 2 hours, this is a time that I go deeply inside and energetically connect with the parts of me that are calling for my attention.  I lie on my back, with pillows placed just so, to support my neck and knees.  I align my joints so no area is curled or twisted, including my fingers and toes, and then I plunge inward.  Ahhh attuned to the sensations and wisdom coursing through.  There are times when this quiet time is when I feel most alive!

And there are no distractions like mentally planning the weekend or researching the next purchase.  If you were talking with a close friend in a time of need, Would you be watching TV or reading a book at the same time???  I doubt it; you would be very present and deeply listening.  Your body is that friend who needs you to be actively present.

So what sounds relaxing for your body right now?  Where is the place you feel completely comfortable?  What is comfort in the body(Now that is a good question!)  With all of the benefits of Leaning In, can you at times give yourself permission to lean back?  I encourage you, no I challenge you, to create some time like this for yourself right now, today.  Don't wait for that fantastic vacation you have planned, because I promise if you start this practice now, that vacation you have planned will be even better, even more enjoyable, not only for you but also for the family or friend who may be at your side.

And of course I would love to hear back about what you find for yourself in that place of rest and relaxation! 

Alive....With Issues

Highline grafitti dancer, NYC

Issues, we all have them.  Some need a lot of attention; others might do better with less.  Some change our lives; others seem to change our lives.  Some hide in the shadows waiting to come out when the time is right and others are front and center for all to see.  It might be a family of issues or the errant issue that you cannot imagine how it found you.

We can ignore them, fixate on them, deny them, confuse them... It's a complicated issue...our issues.  And Whatever the issue there is almost certainly a story that goes along with it and these stories, as we have talked about before, (see August 2014), can either help us or hinder us.  The interwoven stories on the surface somehow make it seem better, safer, though over time we may find this is not really the case.  We may find the stories make life more difficult. 

So how do we know we have an issue that needs some loving attention?  Our bodies tell us.  It may start off as a quiet intuitive feeling, a small ache in the knee, or heaviness in the heart area.  And if these small requests for attention go ignored the message gets stronger and stronger.  A painful back that keeps you in bed, an extreme sense of overwhelm and fatigue, a body that is obviously not happy.  Is there something you have been ignoring or blocking out?

If we listen to our body,  it might be asking for a change of habit, a change in relationships, a change in sleep patterns, or a different way to relate to our bodies.  Often a fear of change, a desire to keep things just the way they are, even if they are not working all that well for us, keeps us in these unhealthy states.   This sense that the unknown future  is scarier than the present situation.  It is good to remind ourselves that a change just might bring us exactly what we have been dreaming for.  A  change that initially sounds limiting, may actually turn out to bring many good qualities with it. 

And that's where confidence, or trust, comes in and awareness around the first word of this blog title - Alive - becomes important.  Feeling alive, aware of the body being alive and the many intricacies of what that entails gives you something not only to appreciate but also to trust.  An inner wisdom that supports making change so that there is alignment with how you live and what you need.  Fully knowing that you are alive, your foot is alive, your elbow is alive, also engenders caring and kindness for yourself in whatever state you happen to find your self.  And so your issue gets the attention it has been asking for.  It may not be fixed but it will be heard and don't we all just want to be heard?  To be acknowledged?

So what issue have you been avoiding?  Where do you find appreciation in your imperfect day?  What change is your body asking you to embark on? And how does it feel to fully acknowledge Yes I am alive and....I have issues.

I would love to hear from you - me and my very alive, broken foot ! just click the comment button below.