Mindfulness

awakening from the illusion thich nhat hanhThich Nhat Hanh has a book called The Miracle of Mindfulness. It is wonderfully inspiring and a great introduction to how to be a more conscious person. I recommend it highly! It just came in on request from a yoga teacher to our store and having had a few conversations on this topic with people lately, I felt compelled to share my experience with it.

I teach meditation – and practice a certain kind that incorporates an eyes-opened component, so I’ve found that this notion of Mindfulness comes up frequently. It is perplexing to people. The words brings up an air of piety, reverence  and, whether or not you want to admit it, effort, work and strain. I know, I know. You can argue with me, but seriously…I’ve seen enough people all mixed up in their head about how much attention they need to pay to EVERYTHING in order to be a mindful person. I’ve noticed that this approach does NOT work. Why? Because it’s impossible NOT to go crazy trying to be aware of everything all at once from the level of the waking state mind. Period.

In a proper meditation practice we find space between us and all that effort. An allowance for what is real right now for us comes forward in Grace. In that allowance, Mindfulness is ours. There is no trying to achieve it. You are not in your head when this happens – there is no internal commentary about the experience. You are out of your own way allowing for life to be lived through you. It involves no trying or strain.

Let me back up a minute…there is a certain kind of effort to return to this experience, but mostly that is in the discipline of coming back to the present moment – of resting right here. We cultivate this through a meditation practice – the kind where all senses turn within and we are left to discover for ourselves the infinite ocean of peaceful, restful, joyful alertness. This bleeds out into our daily life – spills all over into the moments of eyes open experience – that is mindfulness and our natural state. Yes, we can begin to engage this experience and elicit more of it (a kind of effort put into mindfulness) but it comes from an organic unfolding of consciousness.

Another aspect of mindfulness that seems to trip folks up is that as we evolve we tend toward a bleeding heart for others. Sorry to say, but you can not save or fix other people or the planet. You may likely feel inspired to do so. You may continue those same efforts outwardly as you do turn within. None-the-less, it will be far more powerful and effective if you turn these tasks of helping others or to help yourself to become a better, happier, freer, more conscious person over to a power greater than your self. Here you can find innocence and joy again. Mindfulness takes it’s place as your natural state of being. You don’t have to try, strive, and struggle to be “better”  or to be “helpful.” You show up with great awareness and experience that you are the consciousness that is for the highest good of all and everything in your life is better for it.  Approaching life with an undercurrent that there is “something wrong” – even when we are trying to be helpful is not the high road. You are better off to turn your energies within and allow the spiritual energy transform you so that you can simply be a transmuting force for good. It’s not mindful to try to fix or save people; it’s arrogant.

In a more surrendered experience, you see people, situations and the planetary issues as a part of the divine flow and when someone is reaching out to you, true unconditional love and compassion move you into service. There is no stress around it. There is no breaking it down into pieces that can then be sorted and cleaned up, fixed up, polished and shined one by one. Instead, there is a fullness and a radiance that shines forth just as you rest in your true Self.  Now doesn’t that sound a little less overwhelming? It is absolutely the case.

I personally, don’t want to struggle – whether it be to save myself or anyone else. I know what it’s like to do that and I know what it’s like to live a life practicing mindfulness. It’s an old habit to struggle and a welcomed return to innocence to surrender. In order to shift, it requires a commitment and dedication, indeed a certain kind of effort toward changing internal habits, which then effortlessly change external ones. The mind thinks. The body feels. Our senses give our brain information and it then puts this energy into packaged stories related to past experience. It spits them out into our minds as thoughts and into our bodies as feelings – all trying to prepare us for the future. It’s not a problem; it’s how it is. Yet, all the while we are the silent, still observer and we’ve forgotten how to identify with this rather than all that movement.

Our pain comes from the idea that we are separate from that silent witness – which is where all our good,  peace, love and joy come from. Pain comes from the belief that we need to do all kinds of things to get those goods. That we must uncover our broken-ness in order to fix ourselves up so we can eventually get-at and finally deserve our peace, love and good. That’s just what the mind says.  And it’s NON-sense.  An erroneous lie. A misunderstanding. And something to relinquish all belief in.

Ancient texts and teachers seem to be saying we have a lot of work to do in order to wake up and live a life of mindfulness, but it is not so. Resting in the now and letting it be enough is the only practice you ever need. You know this experience – it’s the place where there is no time, space, problem or even a sense of “me” separate from anything. But if that seems to be a struggle for you, find a tool that will take you inward and allow you to discover your own relationship to this silent witness.  Find this tool and be committed to it. Give it your everything. Romance it. Depend upon it. And let me know how it goes.

Blessings to you this February as we quickly move toward March. Enjoy these days of darker skies, snowfall, and inertia. You are not ever alone. We are One.  Peace- Rodasi

 

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Imbolc – Creative Loving Trust

imbolc heartUpon reading about Imbolc and trying to discern from my Women’s Spirituality friends what the heck this holiday is all about, I found a few things that resonated with me I thought I’d share with you.

First, was this notion of the Crone returning back to the form of Maiden. What a blissful idea! We are so obsessed in our culture with grasping on to youth or its appearance that we miss so much of the divine rites of aging – like the enrichment of our lives through the wisdom and the ever-increasing opportunity and ability to be more fully present, caring less and less for the ambitions and distractions of youth. If, however, we are constantly concerned with how we look, how much energy will we have – do we have, for real self-care, for self-love?

None-the-less, what’s there is there and so returning back to Maiden from Crone is attractive to the part of me that would like to hold onto my external youth. BUT…more so, the attraction is to the ability to hold onto the freshness, creativity, passion and aliveness of a Maiden who has her whole life in front of her – the endless possibilities of a limitless future. In truth, I have seen “old” women become more creative, more outspoken, more passionate – though refined, than they were in middle-age. How exciting! In truth, it appears that Crones do actually turn back to the season of Maiden – however visually-concealed it may seem. At Imbolc (or whenever) let us acknowledge that passionate, creative, feisty, youthful spirit through whatever medium you wish: painting, crafting, doing Karaoke, joining a belly dance troupe, candle ritual, taking a partner dancing class, rocking out on your drum kit – anything.

spiral rootsAnother message echoed plenty of times over my research was that of the edible roots sprouting into a more active state beneath the cold Earth. These roots are preparing to grow and eventually begin to sprout above ground, growing into fullness and ripeness, feeding the people. This is symbolic of what is happening – depending on what part of our Earth you inhabit, at this season, beneath our feet, but also within us. We’ve crossed over the traditional holiday season and are deep in winter with our intentions already set. We may even have noted some old habits creeping back in. Will we abandon our heart’s desires; our intentions, before they blossom and come into full manifestation? Seems Imbolc is an excellent time to recognize that the roots have already begun to extend out, reaching for the soil of our lives that we’ve consciously or unconsciously prepared for them.

As body, mind, garden, or  life, begins to shape itself around the heart’s desire, whether seen, felt, or believed in, we can trust that continuing to move toward what we want will allow the process to root a little more deeply – setting it all up for eventual manifestation. We can exercise patience, perseverance and dedication to our heart’s desire and practice self-love as we do. Now is a good time to revisit what we set forth to change, create or offer up this year. Time to get creative. Trust that the roots have begun to take root. Trust in the beauty of the personal vision we have for ourselves and our lives. Love ourselves enough to hang in there. I know we can.

creative spark lerHere is an Imbolc Meditation and Activity for you to consider sharing with friends or doing alone this weekend (or, what the heck…anytime!) to celebrate the energy of the youthful vitality, the passionate belief in and the ability to maintain steadiness with your heart’s desire – the vision for your life. Soak it up!

Set your space before your physical practice. Bring your journal or notepad, something to write with, a candle and something to light it with.

Physical Activity

I would begin with a yoga session. You can watch a yoga video on YouTube ( like this one:  http://www.yogajournal.com/video/292) or if you have a personal practice already, go for a series to get your juices flowing and to build heat; get the core activated. Even if yoga isn’t your thing, any physical activity: dancing around the room or a walk outside will work. Do it for 30 minutes if you can, but even 10 minutes is better than nothing. Let it be something where your intention is to get those juices physically flowing.

Breathing Exercise

If your physical practice did not include a breathing exercise, please take 6-10 rounds of alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) Or simply observe the breath for 6-10 full rounds. Bring consciousness to the breath. Watch the point of inhalation and exhalation. Watch the depth and length of each inhale, each exhale. Begin to breathe deeply into the belly and filling up the lungs and upper chest, as well as the back side of the body, with each inhalation. With every exhalation, let the belly deflate and when you no longer feel you can exhale any further, squeeze the “bathroom muscles” and exhale just a tad more before watching for the inhalation to arise. With every inhalation, let everything you require to continue to feed your dreams to enter. With every exhalation, let your body relax into the seat, this moment, your current state of being. When you’ve completed 6-10 rounds, notice how you feel.

Journal Entry

Open your journal or notebook and write out what your intentions were at the beginning of this new year. Observe, without judgment, what you’ve stayed committed to and what you’ve allowed yourself to slack off or cheat with. Re-assess what you want – does it still stick that you want to stop playing with your iPhone so much? Did it really work for you to decide to workout 5 days a week or is it that in reality, 3 works in your schedule much better? Just write your observations. Then write what the most exciting, hopeful, loving expression of your life, your relationships, your self is. No limitations here – go for it! Write your fears. Write your triggers for back pedaling (not so you can flog yourself, but rather so you are simply aware and are able to make conscious choices). Write ideas for strengthening your will.

Norma’s List of 7

Now re-create a new version of your intention/goal/resolution list. Try using this List of 7 if you like. Not a have-to, just a suggestion to follow – you may have one or two things on your personal list. But do be specific as well as including the statement to the Universe: “this or something better.” Click on this link to follow Norma’s suggestions for The List of 7. Re-read your list out loud to yourself.

Visualization Meditation

Now that the activation has happened through physical activity and the breath has brought greater awareness to your body and world, you’ve looked at where you are at and where you want to be and possibly things that both get in the way of where you want to go, as well and the steps you have to take to get to where you want to be, and you’ve rewritten your list, it’s time to see it, feel it, and soak it in, through visualization. Watch the Higher Self Facebook page for an audio of this (you can always record yourself speaking the following visualization and listen that too – it’s tricky to read it and let yourself fully go into it…)

Close your eyes. Bring attention to the breath. Let the rise and fall of the chest and belly be noted. Allow for the length and depth of each inhalation and exhalation simply to be observed. No trying, no controlling, no getting involved – simply watch.

Bring your attention to your tailbone. Imagine it has an energetic root system that reaches deep into the Earth and deep into the realm of creation. Imagine these roots tender and young, but vibrant and alive – ready to grow, explore, and strengthen. The inhalation brings into the roots everything you need to trust that your heart’s desire will manifest and that everything you need to see it through to ripeness, is within you now.*

Nourishment, creative juices, and intuitive drive are pulled up through roots and unwind the energies at your sacrum. Each inhalation brings you into a deeper sense of deserving the living experience of the peace, joy, fulfillment, ease and purpose that you may derive from achieving your heart’s desire. This sense spreads through your whole body lighting up your cells, your DNA and igniting your creative ingenuity. Allow this to permeate every aspect of your physical body.

Breathe in the people, places, things and the will necessary for you to meet and sustain your desire. Exhale the doubts and fears around failing or achieving success in this endeavor. They no longer serve you. Inhale deep into the belly the infinite potential and cosmic support surrounding you now. Imagine a  glow in the center of your belly connecting you to your sense of power and will. Fusing with the energy of the root structure and the creative juices flowing through your nervous system, this brilliant energy activates the will to maintain and sustain your ability to persevere, to be focused on your heart’s desire, and  to use self-discipline in order to get where you want to go.

Exhale relaxing into the fact that these good intentions already have taken root in your energetic life. Let the reality of this aliveness permeate your body; your being. Feel it now in your heart center. Imagine a great 3 dimensional flower opening in the center of your chest  in every direction – front, back, top, and bottom. It is opening in perfect timing, with perfect trust. There is a complete surrender to this flow which allows for the best possible outcome to arrive in the best possible timing, for the highest good of all and with harm to none.

Let this perfect trust illuminate your deep knowing and strengthen these roots. See yourself now as you want the world to see you* – with your heart’s desire manifested already in your life. See yourself speaking your truth. See yourself asking for what you need without reservation or guilt. See yourself saying “no” when you mean “no” and “yes” when you mean “yes.”*  See yourself able to assert boundaries or to ask for help. See yourself keeping silent to listen more deeply.  See yourself being rewarded for taking ownership of your life’s creation –  for creating your life exactly as it is now, and as it will be in the future.

Keep this vision of yourself strong. Breathing it in. Letting go of whatever stands between you and that vision-made-manifest. Let yourself grow this reality right down into those roots and peaking up through the fertile Earth of your being, ready to blossom. See yourself as this bold, centered, successful, healthy, on-purpose you. See yourself as this in the moments of your life: scary, easy, boring, exciting.

Allow yourself now to give this vision and everything surrounding it to Source.  Feel your determination that you have what it takes to see this desire through to fruition. Merge the rooted-ness, the creative juices, the power, the love, the silence, the beauty and the reality of this heart’s desire. Release it into the intelligence of the Universe with that perfect trust.

Bring attention back to the breath.  Bring attention back now to the body. Pause and notice what is. Bring attention to the space in the room. And now open your eyes. Feel the connection to everything you need within you now* for nourishing, tending, protecting, and reaping the benefits of your heart’s desire come true. Let this sense be at the forefront of your experience often and when you are feeling disconnected from it, re-call it. Come back to this exercise or simply return awareness to your breath to reconnect.

Have fun creating your personal dreams come true this year – with Love and Grace.

* I want to acknowledge my yoga teacher, Jackie Chiodo and my friends at the Shanti School of Yoga for some the insights which inspired this visualization and this message. Namaste – Rodasi