Now I Know My ABC’s

Accept Differences – Be Kind – Count Your Blessings – Dream – Express Thanks – Forgive – Give Freely – Harm No One – Imagine More – Jettison Anger – Keep Confidences – Love Truly –  Master Something – Nurture Hope – Open Your Mind – Pack Lightly – Quell Rumors – Reciprocate  – Seek Wisdom – Touch Hearts – Understand – Value Truth – Win Graciously – Xemplify Kindness – Yearn For Peace – Zealously Support A Worthy Cause

Precisely ten years ago, I received these ABC’s in a holiday card that I have kept ever since. It too makes its way around my place during the holidays, as does the one I wrote about in a previous post, A Meaningful To-Do List.  Today, more than ever, it seems like the world needs these ABC’s on steroids! I silently give thanks for all the people around the globe who are working hard and tapping into their tools every single day to exemplify these traits, for these human beings are part of our global community helping to heal humanity.

The healing though, as with many things in life, must first start with ourselves. We have been blessed with the privilege of being alive, and with that comes a responsibility to grow and evolve into the very best person we can be. If you are committed to self-improvement, inner investigation and evolving mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you know it’s not an easy job. The work can get ugly, messy, and painful; but, the rewards outweigh it all. Remember, true transformation occurs from the inside out, and it takes time, practice and patience! One of my favorite quotes is, You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time.”  Amen to that!!!!

As I was thinking about what to write about in this blog, I came across some questions that one of my favorite people in the world, Seane Corn, posed at a yoga workshop I did with her about 4 years ago. These questions really require us to get to the core of who we are…both our light and shadow side. If we want to be able to live peacefully, coexist and truly effect change, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, and the life we have been given, to really dig deep and work hard at chiseling away the dark residue from our shadow side. It’s hard work. It’s also heart work!

Below are numerous questions – I invite you to peruse them, answer them if you like, share them with your tribe, have conversations about them, or just see what thoughts, feelings and emotions arise inside you as you read through them. Hopefully, you will find them useful in some way – if not now, then sometime along your personal journey.

  • How are you showing up for yourself?
  • How are you showing up for others?
  • What tapes are running through your head?
  • What conditioning, grief, dysfunction, pain, sorrow, situations or people who no longer serve you are you still holding on to? Why?
  • What limiting beliefs are holding you back or keeping you stuck in “victim” mentality?
  • Are you in a state of denial?
  • What hurts, traumas, surgery, loss or life situation has shown up?
  • What behavior do you turn to when you want to avoid feeling your feelings?
  • Who or what situation has brought you to your knees?
  • Who or what has broken your heart wide open?
  • Do you choose love over fear?
  • Do you act from a place of love or fear?
  • How can you connect to your pure essence which is Love?
  • How do you show compassion, empathy, understanding and kindness to others?
  • What ways do you show up for yourself from a place of hope, love, compassion, understanding and empathy?
  • Who taught you how to love?
  • How do you contribute to the collective energy of the planet? 
  • Are your thoughts, views, actions and speech negative and judgmental in nature, or are they positive?
  • What words do you use?
  • What type of language do you use to communicate with others?
  • Does your language emanate positive or negative energy?
  • What types of example are you setting for those around you…partners, children, family, friends, co-workers and strangers?
  • Who are your closest relationships?
  • Who or what triggers you?
  • What sensations do these triggers cause in your body?
  • Do you react or pause, then act?
  • What tools can you employ so you don’t react?
  • Do you abuse power?
  • Do you have issues expressing love and acceptance to those of a different race,  nationality, color, gender or religion?
  • What words / language do you use that causes separation?
  • What does peace look and feel like for you?
  • What ways can you contribute to making your surroundings, as well as the collective energy of the world, more peaceful?
  • How can you exercise patience, understanding and non-judgement?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • How do you express gratitude for what shows up in your life?
  • Who were / are your spiritual teachers?
  • What’s your shadow side?
  • How do you shine your light?
  • How do you step into your power?
  • What change do you want to see in the world?

Darlings, may you always feel your essence with each heartbeat…LOVE, LOVE, LOVE…..and send that out to into the world….and feel the earth pulsating with LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Oh, and one last thing – please be sure to practice your ABC’s…wink, wink!

Inhale love and light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

A New Year…A New You

“The mind and body are not separate. What affects one, affects the other.”

The beginning of a new year is when most gyms are packed, everyone is purchasing new memberships to health and fitness clubs, attendance in yoga classes is on the rise, resolutions of all kinds are made, and new sorts of diets seem to be the “trend du jour.” However, studies show that within the first couple of months everything falls by the wayside. Why? Well, in my humble opinion, it is because it’s just that – a trend – as opposed to being a “lifestyle.”

Routine, practice, patience, wisdom and consistency, as well as willing to do the work of inner reflection, are the keys to living a healthy life of balance and well-being. It’s really a lifestyle. If we don’t deal with the gunk that is clogging our energy channels, and deal with the emotions that are the “root cause” of the unhealthy life style, all the resolutions and hours at the gym will not do a thing. Yes, we may see the scale drop a bit; however, before long, it will climb right on up there and may even surpass where we started. We may even burn out along the way. If you aren’t sure where or how to start the inner work and self-observation, I invite you to check out my previous blog, End of Year Review & Rituals. It contains some good questions for reflecting and writing.

True transformation begins from the inside out. And while a new year is the perfect time to start a transformation process,  just remember that transformation does NOT occur overnight. It is a journey of sorts. There will be the highs and the lows, the twists and the turns, the pretty and the ugly,  and the comfortable and uncomfortable feelings that are sure to arise. Stick with your commitment to your Self, and please don’t short change your Self! Remember, we are all here to learn the necessary lessons that will help us to transform into the highest and best expression of our true Self. These lessons will be physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ones, so addressing one with out the other is fruitless. That is why so many people give up those first few months of the new year. They approach the physical aspect of the journey and ignore the other important components of their being.

It is my belief that, in addition to becoming the best version of ourselves, we are here to also help others do the same. When I look back at some of my journals from years ago, one of the things I would sometimes end my writing with would be “Inspire Love Serve.” Is it a coincidence that I chose that as the name of my blog? I think not! It was part of my approach and purpose in my quest for being of service to myself and to others.

If you’ve been following my blog, you can see I have been trying to do just that – Inspire. Love. Serve. If you are new to my blog, Welcome! Since I started blogging in September 2017, I believe I’ve written over 40 pieces. It really brings me joy to know that in some way, shape or form, someone reading the blog may be touched, inspired or impacted by something I wrote or shared. I write from a personal perspective and also include lots of “tools” and resources available for us to use in our quest to truly transform from the inside out.

Mantras and affirmations are  powerful tools when stated and released with purpose and intention. They key word here is “intention.”  Resolutions are typically punitive and restrictive, whereas intentions are pleasurable for our mind, body, soul and our senses. By shifting our perspective and operating from a place of intention, we have a better chance of adhering to our desires.

As I was looking through some of my notebooks, I came across mantras for perfect health from a meditation series I did a while back. I believe it may have been from one of the early Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21 Day Meditation Experiences. Below, I will list for you the different aspects of perfect health that were featured and a Mantra  / Affirmation / Intention to go with each one.

  1. The Journey to Perfect Health: “I commit to living perfect health.”
  2. The Nature of Perfect Health: “Balance is my true nature.”
  3. The Intuition of Your Body: “My Mind and body are in perfect health.”
  4. The Wisdom of Your Body: “I trust the wisdom of my body.”
  5. The Rhythm of Your Mind & Body: “My actions are blissfully free from attachment to outcome.”
  6. The Perfection of Your Body: “I am perfection. I am healthy. I am strong.”
  7. Honoring Your Body:  “My body is a magnificent vehicle that connects me to spirit.”
  8. Restoring Balance: “With awareness, I create healthy habits.”
  9. Creating Balance: “My outer world reflects my inner world. Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.”
  10. Breathing for Balance: “I am one with the breath of life.”
  11. Eating for Balance: “I choose foods that help me thrive.”
  12. Connecting for Balance: “I cherish my every connection. I am the other in myself and myself in others.”
  13. Moving for Balance: “I am flexible, powerful and balanced. My life is in balance with cosmic law.”
  14. The Balance in Silence: “I intent to take steps each  day toward perfect health.”
  15. Living well: “My little changes amount to big benefits. Everything I desire is within me.”
  16. Living Nature: “I am an exquisite expression of nature. I am absolute existence. I am a filed of all possibilities.”
  17. Living Creatively: “Through rest and play, I open my creative channels.”
  18. Living Passion:  “I live my life with passion and enthusiasm….How can I help? How can I serve?”
  19. Living Optimism: “My life unfolds in Divine order. My actions achieve maximal benefit with minimum effort.”
  20. Living Agelessly: “I am ageless and timeless.”
  21. Living Perfect Health: “I create my perfect health.”  

I hope these are helpful to you in some way. May you find comfort and ease, and may these mantras / affirmations help guide you through your own transformation throughout 2018.

Here’s to a New Year and a New You…Now let’s go out and live with intention!

Inhale love & light…Exhale grace & gratitude, JTC

 

End of Year Review & Rituals

“In the end, these things matter most…how well did you love, how fully did you live, how deeply did you let go” -Buddha

We should we have to wait until we are at the end of our life to ask ourselves these questions? As a matter of fact, if we change the lens by which we view life, we come to realize and accept the fact that we are all terminal.  I saw a very appropriate quote by Tony Robbins a couple of weeks ago where he says, “There’s something coming for all of us. It’s called death. Rather than fearing it, it can become one of our greatest counselors.” Wow…our greatest counselor!

When people are faced with death, in most cases, that is when they begin to live. Now that is sad! Why should we wait until the end of our life to live? Really live….live with courage, fierceness, passion, creativity, optimism, integrity, wisdom, balance, honor, grace, acceptance, kindness, gratitude, compassion, joy, peace, purpose and love. The list can go on and on. I invite you to pause for a moment. Perhaps inhale deeply and exhale very lengthy a few times. Now, read the following questions, linger between each one, and see what shows up: What would you add to this list? How can you stay connected to these values (or your own) and keep them in check? Do you have any rituals that allow you to move through your life as an expression of those values?

So moving onto the topic of rituals, like many of you, I have a few of my own. As much of an extrovert and social butterfly that I am, I’m also a loner and introvert. I relish my alone time and the silence that surrounds me. As I’ve gotten older, I have become even more sensitive to noise, bright lights, crowds and activities that are devoid of meaning and purpose. And guess what? I would not have it any other way. Been there, done that! I need the quiet time to rebalance, review, regroup, renew, reconnect, recharge. This is a ritual that is one of my non-negotiables. I love the space it holds for me to be able to connect with my creativity, set intentions and create a vision for how I want to proceed with the time I have left here on this earth. I want to be able to move through my life as a full expression of that vision and the values I hold near and dear.

One of the rituals I look forward to the most are the end of year ones….especially New Year’s Eve. The LAST thing I want to be doing is being out anywhere near midnight! However, twenty years ago I did the midnight run in Central Park….operative words….twenty years ago!  There have also been times, here and there, that I’ve gone out to an early dinner. And yes, I made sure to be home early as well.

I love the end of year ritual(s) I’ve set up for myself. They bring me joy and peace. When I’m in Florida, I like to be on the beach for sunrise. There’s something magical about the stillness and quietness that time of morning. The beach is a lovely place to meditate and do a little yoga practice as the sun is rising. Oh, the feeling of doing sun salutations when the sun is peaking through the horizon! It’s breathtaking. THAT is when I truly feel the connection to all that is. To feel like a tiny grain of sand in the universe puts a whole lot into perspective.

If I am home in NJ, I still like to arise early and do my daily rituals. The sun rises outside my bedroom window (love this exposure), so I hunker down, go within, connect and listen, and move my body. With either scenario, I make sure I take the time to journal. Lots of questions seem to pop up all over the place this time of year, and I usually pick and choose from here and there and create a list for myself to ponder and write about.

By noon time, I clean. Yes, I clean and do any laundry that may need to be done (and make sure all the garbage is thrown out). Oh, and by the way, I pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to usher in the cleaning and cleansing of my beloved sacred space and the new year that awaits. Add a little music to  set the tone, and voila! Devotional music puts me in the head space to perform my cleaning activities like a mediation….an offering up to the Divine. After the cleaning, I then move onto another ritual…the bathing ritual. Oils, candles, music, maybe some herbs and flowers, exfoliation, a few bubbles (and bubbly on the side).

Another activity I like to do, is create a vision board. When I haven’t made one, I’ve written my intentions and visions for the forthcoming year in my journal. Last year, I tweaked my existing vison board – it’s more like a “life visioning board.” It represents the intentions for how I want to be living, serving and being of contribution. It amazes me when I look at it and see how so many things are in alignment with that vision and are coming to fruition! Taking the time to write or create a vision is a very powerful tool. Just the other day, I came across something I had written back in 2008, and I just sat there in amazement, reading and shaking my head at all the things I wrote that I ended up manifesting. Oh, this magical and comical universe of ours surely knows how and when to deliver!

To celebrate my accomplishments, I make myself a nice meal and enjoy it. A new ritual I started a couple of years ago was a Blessings Jar (you can use a big mason jar, bowl, or buy a decorative one in HomeGoods or a place like that). Blessings appear always and in all ways, but I tend to write about random occurrences and synchronicities….ones that may not even appear as a blessing but truly are a blessing for me. Perhaps during my morning practice this year may be a good time to empty my blessings jar, unfold all the little pieces of paper, and read what I have written in the past year. It’s truly humbling to say the least!

There have been many years that I’ve been in bed before the stroke of midnight – cozy, snug like a bug in a rug. Other times, I may do a some more journaling, a little yoga practice and/or a guided mediation. One year, I was just finishing the end of my practice at midnight. That was a beautiful experience in and of itself. It’s a powerful feeling to connect energetically with the millions of people in the world who are ushering in the new year in prayer and meditation, It’s like a spiritual global community coming together with a sense of unity of purpose.

This New Year’s Eve, I am actually going to a yoga class in the early evening with my “Lovelies.” Now, this group is uber-special to me….thats why I call them the Lovelies. Some of them are yoga teachers (either full or part time) and others are educators who also have their YTT certification as well (something I know I will be doing at some point along my journey). These gals are magical light beings, and I am infinitely grateful for their love, energy, inspiration, and generosity of spirit. Who knows? Maybe this will become a new yearly ritual too!

Do you have any end of year rituals? If so, what are some of yours? I’d love to hear about them. Plus, you may give me a few new ideas to add to my list. I’m all about the sharing!

Below are some questions I may be pondering leading up to New Year’s Eve. Feel free to contemplate them, come up with your own, or maybe even share yours with other people as well. Coming up with age appropriate questions for children is also a lovely and meaningful activity. Some of the following questions are my own, some I got from the Chopra Center, and some are a combo of both. I hope they are helpful to you!

  • What did you learn this year? (skills, knowledge, awareness, etc.)
  • What did you accomplish? 
  • Is there anything that still feels incomplete to you?
  • Is there something you would I have done differently? Why?
  • What did you release? 
  • What else needs to be released?
  • Are there people in your life you need to release? (who are they and why)
  • What were the most significant events in your life this past year? 
  • What right choices did you make?
  • What do you feel especially good about?
  • What really matters most to you?
  • What was your greatest contribution this year?
  • What were the fun things you did?
  • What were the not-so-fun? (and why)
  • What were your biggest challenges/roadblocks/difficulties this past year?
  • How did you grow from them?
  • How are you different this year than last?
  • What were some of your significant and/or game changing blessings in 2017?
  • What are you particularly grateful for?
  • How did you express and show your love?
  • How fully did you live this past year?
  • How deeply did you let go?
  • Are you currently living a life of meaning and purpose?
  • Who or what is keeping you from living the fullest expression of who you are?
  • What personal strengths and uniqueness can you share that will add value to others?
  • How can you share your gifts with the world?
  • How do you want to live your life in 2018? 
  • What do you see yourself doing next year?

In closing, I will also leave you with a short prayer from the book, Change Me Prayers – The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender, by Tosha Silver.

Releasing

Let me release all that is outgrown and align with the Divine for the highest unfolding. The perfect routes are already selected and will unfold naturally and easily. Let me know my true nature as Love. Divine Beloved, change me into One who easily releases all that wishes to go. Let me move with courage and ease. As I stand on the threshold of the new, let me trust that all that needs to happen will happen in the most uplifting and joyous ways. What is needed is already known. I will be guided, shown, and provided for in every way. All is well.

Darlings, may you release 2017 with a sense of grace and gratitude for all that was, and may you fill your 2018 with what matters most-  Love and Faith. Happy New Year!

Inhale Love & Light…Exhale Grace & Gratitude, JTC

 

A Meaningful To-Do List

Be Merry. Be Happy. Be Bright.

About 20 years ago, one of my girlfriends (and soul sister), Patti, sent me a beautiful card for Christmas that I have treasured ever since. As a matter of fact, I keep it in a picture frame and display it every year as part of my decorations. Over the years, I have also typed it up on colorful stationary and passed it on to staff members, friends and family.

With three major holidays this month – Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa and, in addition, Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d share the contents of the card with you. Needless to say, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to do any of these things. In my humble opinion, what you are about to read should be part of our to-do list on a regular basis…..just sayin’

This Christmas

  • Mend a quarrel
  • Seek out a forgotten friend
  • Write a love letter
  • Share some treasure
  • Give a soft answer
  • Encourage youth
  • Keep a promise
  • Find the time
  • Forgive an enemy
  • Apologize if you were wrong
  • Think first of someone else
  • Be kind and gentle
  • Laugh a little
  • Laugh a little more
  • Express your gratitude
  • Gladden the heart of a child
  • Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
  • Speak your love
  • Speak it again
  • Speak it still once again

If you are in need of a little token gift, strapped for cash, or just want to be mindful of where and how you are spending your money, you can get creative with this beautiful to-do list, add to it, create your own, print copies or have it printed on cardstock at Staples, and perhaps slip into small frames as gifts. You can also roll them up and tie with a lovely ribbon. We don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money on a gift. Simple, no fuss gifts from the heart carry our energy, love and intention with them. They are the gifts that keep on giving.

Create away darlings….and remember… be merry, happy and bright!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Special Edition… ‘Tis the Season

‘Joy is Prayer. Joy is Strength. Joy is love.” -Mother Teresa

Season’s Greetings darlings! I read a most beautiful article written by Elizabeth Lesser  yesterday, featured in Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper, and I felt compelled to share it with you. I love, love, love Elizabeth Lesser and her style of writing! Her messages are always so deep, profound and life-altering! So, here it is:

10 Ways To Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday

by 

It’s that time of year again: the modern miracle known as “The Holidays,” when into the dark little months of late November and December, we squeeze Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years Eve, and a myriad of other celebrations, from ancient Solstice rituals to the more contemporary rites of school plays, office parties, and community gatherings. Throw into that mix a generous dose of unrealistic expectations, dysfunctional family feasts complete with political disagreements, airplane flights and long drives, darker days, colder weather, budget-busting shopping, excess eating and drinking, and no wonder that along with “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” come seasonal stress for most, and for some, real depression and loneliness.

Some greet the season with excitement and joyful expectation. Others dread the whole thing. Personally, I harbor both excitement AND dread. So I’ve come up with some ways for all of us to stay healthy and sane, to celebrate and enjoy, and to dig into the real meaning of the holidays. Of course, another option is just to ignore the madness completely (good luck with that) or to knock yourself out trying to live up to all of your holiday expectations (good luck with that, too).

Here are my ten ways to approach the season with reasonable expectations and good cheer.

1) Be Kind: Stress doesn’t bring out the best in us, so remember to take a few breaks during a busy day or at a family gathering or whenever you feel overwhelmed. Find a quiet spot—even if you have to go into the bathroom and lock the door—and just sit still for a minute or two. Put your hand on your chest and pat your heart gently. Then take a nice deep breath into that spot and flood yourself with warm feelings of kindness toward yourself first. Breathe in acceptance and forgiveness and appreciation. If you only have time to do that, it’s enough. You can add this to the practice, too: As you exhale, let the breath of kindness move back out and feel it all around you—as if you were wrapped in a cloak of light. Now inhale again, and breathe kindness into your belly, your organs, your bloodstream. Exhale, and feel that cloak of light expanding. Inhale again, all the way down to your fingers and toes and deep into the center of your bones, flushing every cell with warmth and vibrancy. On each inhale, bring kindness into your body. On each exhale, extend the cloak of healing light further and further—embracing the people in your life, those in the world with whom you disagree, and finally our whole big, amazing, hurting, evolving world. This is a wonderful practice to do when you wake up, when you go to sleep, or whenever you like during the day. 

2) Simplify: We live in an excessive culture. There’s just too much going on. But there’s one thing we seem to have too little of: time. We fill each day with too much activity, too much stuff, too much media, and too many responsibilities pulling on us in too many directions, and time races away. We go to bed at night and wonder where the heck the day went. We wake up and do it again. And now at the holidays, we’re supposed to add more excess to the excess. More food, more socializing, more presents that require more money. I think it’s a revolutionary act to resist the more-more-more culture and, instead, to simplify. Purchase fewer gifts and put more thought and meaning into the ones you do give. Say ‘no’ to engagements that will only add more stress to your week. Say ‘yes’ to gatherings that fill your soul and make you and others happy. Unplug from the 24/7 news and social media. Spend time in nature. Look at the stars. Find a little kid and hitch your wagon to their wonder.

3) Roll With the Changes: As families change and grow, traditions change as well.  For example, if you are a working woman who had a stay-at-home mother, instead of knocking yourself out trying to reproduce the exact old-fashioned holiday of your childhood, relax your standards. Do what fits YOUR life and infuse it with meaning, humor, and love. Or if you are a divorced dad or mom, share the holidays with your ex with as much generosity and harmony as you can conjure up. It will be the best gift you give to your kids this year. If you are far away from your family (or choose not to be with them), invite others into your home and give the words “extended family” new meaning. 

4) Help Others: not because you SHOULD but because it feeds everyone—the giver and the receiver. Find someone who is struggling financially or emotionally or physically, and lend them a helping hand, soothe their loneliness or hunger or confusion or pain. Check out the stories of every holiday tradition—from Thanksgiving to Hanukah to Christmas. If you celebrate any of these holidays, you might as well get down to what they are really about: generosity, connection, the promise of light-in-the-darkness. Be that light for someone else.

5) Drop In: to a church or mosque or synagogue or temple or . . . you get the idea. Even if you have no religious affiliation or belief—even if you have deep-seated problems with religion in general—these kinds of spaces have a mysterious quality that can bring peace to a visitor. They carry within their walls the prayers and songs of our human family. Most places of worship welcome all people, even those just looking for a touch of grace. Instead of hurrying by that church you have passed a hundred times on the way to work, take a moment to enter its doors and sit quietly, imbibing the beauty.

6) Take Care: Eat well, drink water, exercise, and then be merry. Instead of making one more feeble New Year’s resolution to join a gym or cut back on the drink or sugar or Twitter, do it right now. You will be amazed at how just the littlest bit of movement and healthful habits will lift your spirits and reduce your stress. And sleep for goodness sakes, do whatever it takes to get enough of it. Sleep deprivation is at the root of so many of our mental and physical problems.

7) Love Everything: Even the hard times; even the cranky and crooked people of the world; even yourself, with all of your embarrassing shortcomings. If loving everything seems impossible, start with forgiveness. Forgive all sorts of people—those from your past, your work, your family, even those abhorrent jerks and so-called enemies in the news. Bitterness towards others is like drinking poison. Put down the bitter cup and take up… 

8) Tenderness: See what happens if you keep your heart open and soft. When you feel fear, or anger, or judgment clutching at your chest, put your hand on your heart and pat lightly. Instead of shutting down, stay open. Stay tender. Just try this and see what happens. Your mind will tell you it’s not safe to be open, that you don’t want to soften, that you’ll tenderize only if the other person changes first. But those strategies haven’t really worked, have they? Try something new.

9) Connect: When you practice love, forgiveness, and tenderness sincerely and consistently, you begin to feel so connected to other people and to life itself that your sense of “me” frays at the edges, loosens, merges. I heard a man at a retreat with the teacher, Eckhart Tolle, say that he’d been practicing compassion meditation and a weird thing was happening to him. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” the concerned man said. And Eckhart replied, “Congratulations.” When you let go of that firm sense of who you are, and what you must protect, and why you are better or worse than anyone else, you are free. There’s less fear, less striving, less of the need to prove your case. There’s more room to let others in, more comfort with the world just as it is, and at the same time, more courage to speak up for truth and beauty.     

10) Joy to the World: How strange that we have everything we need to cheer up right this minute, but so often, joy alludes us. You may recoil at this idea. You may think, “She has NO idea what I am going through; cheering up is not possible.” But I have met some of the most joyful people in the most unlikely, difficult places, including jails and hospitals. And some of the gloomiest, most aggrieved people in luxurious homes and privileged situations. Albert Einstein said that the most important thing to pursue is “sacred awe.” If you think about it, how awe-some—preposterous really—that we are here at all. That YOU showed up here on this little blue marble floating in space. Each one of us has a joyful core that is truer than the worry, the sadness, the blame, the fear. Find your joyful core. Trust it. Be it. Share it.

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of several bestselling books, including Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow and Marrow: Love, Loss & What Matters Most. She is the co-founder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences in wellness, spirituality, creativity, and social change. She has given two popular TED talks, and is one of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100, a collection of a hundred leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity.

 

Together we can all inspire, love, serve. And if you choose to Lead from the heart…right from the start, you will see a big shift in your life and the lives of the people around you. Now go out and Have Yourself a Merry Little Holiday!

See you all back here on Wednesday for my own little holiday to-do list.

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

Hold the Vision…Trust the Process

Security…it’s simply the recognition that changes will take place and the knowledge that you’re willing to deal with whatever happens.” Harry Browne

The month of December can really mess with people’s emotions for a number of reasons. Between preparing for the holidays, hosting parties, going to parties, shopping for the “perfect” gift, decorating, and dealing with work and family chores and obligations, we are sometimes left feeling depleted and perhaps even sad. For many, the memories of loved ones long gone, perhaps the recent crossing over of a family member, or the ending of an irreparable relationship makes getting through the month of December a little more challenging to say the least. These circumstances and events leave us needing some major grounding, clarity and stability.

Guided mediations are a wonderful tool for cultivating a feeling of grounding and stability. They are also helpful in making us feel safe and secure. I sometimes envision myself as a tree with deep roots in the ground. It gives me a sense of unshakable energy, strength, inner fortitude and protection from destabilizing forces. This visual also allows me to maintain that “calm in the chaos” and readily go with the flow with whatever is happening.

There have been many times in my life, especially at work, when someone has looked to me as the calming, sensible voice in a confusing and chaotic situation. During my time as a school administrator, I wanted to “lead from the heart” and be an exemplary role model of what it is like to maintain “calm in the chaos.” It is a gift of balanced strength. And it is something we can all achieve with the help of the many tools that are so readily available to us today – guided meditation being one of them.

If we hold the vision of that state of  grounding, clarity, stability and trust the process, our sense of security will feel effortless and unshakable. Guided meditations that connect us to the earth element do just that. With time and practice, you will feel like a huge, unshakable oak tree….just hold the vision…and trust the process!

The following guided meditation will enhance your sense of support and stability. You can have someone read it to you, voice record it so you can listen to your own voice, or just glance at it, close your eyes and be with the vision and the feelings for however long. Sit comfortably on the floor and, if you would like to add a hand gesture, you can make peace signs and touch your index and middle finger to the ground alongside your body (Bhu mudra). If sitting on the floor is not an option, sit in a chair (or in bed) with your palms face down on your lap.

  1. As you hold Bhu mudra, take several natural breaths to attune to all the feelings and sensations evoked by this gesture.
  2. Visualize your body as a mountain with your legs as the base, your arms as the slopes stretching out to the sides, and the crown of your head as the mountain peak rising into the sky.
  3. With each inhalation, your spine lengthens naturally, and with each exhalation, the base of your body connects to the earth more firmly.
  4. Sense breath flowing up and down your spine, creating space between each vertebra, cultivating a sense of alignment and stability throughout the entire structure of your body.
  5. Resting in your mountain’s stability, take some time to notice how the pause at the end of your exhalation is lengthened gradually, allowing you to experience the earth’s deep serenity.
  6. Attuned to the earth’s stability and serenity, you naturally receive all of its healing qualities.
  7. Begin by taking several breaths to receive the earth’s minerals in the exact quantities you need to support the structure of your body, cultivating optimal bone strength and density.
  8. With a greater sense of support, you naturally inhabit your body more completely, experiencing all areas of your being integrated as a seamless unity.
  9. As you inhabit your body more completely, the serenity of your mountain naturally permeates your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to experience absolute security at all times and places along your journey.
  10. With a deeper sense of security, a feeling of oneness with the natural world infuses your being, allowing you to feel completely at home within your surroundings.
  11. One with the earth, and infused with its healing qualities, you rest within your mountain of stability, allowing its absolute stillness to permeate your entire being.
  12. Deeply attuned to the earth, repeat the following three times, aloud or silently: “Embodying all of the earth’s essential qualities, I experience complete stability.”
  13. Slowly release the gesture, taking several breaths to integrate all of the earth’s healing qualities.
  14. When you are ready, open your eyes, returning slowly and gently, continuing your journey with a greater sense of support and stability.

If you are interested in adding another tool to your “toolbox” and want to explore mudras, guided meditations, energy centers (chakras), doshas (constitution), balance, and health conditions more in depth, Mudras For Healing and Transformation, by Joseph and Leslie Le Page, is a spectacular resource. It’s a wonderful compliment for anyone wanting to expand their spiritual practice(s) as well. This book is perfect for Yoga students, teachers, and/or anyone in all types of healing professions……and makes for a great, meaningful holiday gift.

Attuned to the earth’s stability, may you move confidently throughout the next few days, weeks and months!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Simple Reminder

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means being in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” Unknown

With the state of the world, the full moon energy and the preparation, anticipation and craziness this time of year brings into our lives, a simple reminder is called for throughout the day. Whether that reminder calls us to stop, breathe, get out in nature, repeat a mantra, pray, move our body, listen to an uplifting song, or just sit in stillness to connect to Mother Earth, we can cultivate a sense of peaceful grounding that we can turn to again and again throughout our day.

Is it possible to maintain that “calm in the chaos” outlook? It sure is! Once again, it is our choice to make. With practice, patience and mindful intention, the choices we make become more evolutionary. We arrive at that place where we are aware of the impact our energy has on those around us and the ripple effect it has on the collective consciousness. We are so finely tuned into what our reminders are telling us, that we can operate from auto-pilot mode. Our trajectory shifts, and we find ourself operating from a place of peace, calm and ease – especially if we have been protecting our energy field (my last three blogs contain some good pointers, a prayer and affirmations that may be of help if you don’t know where/how to start).

We can become so rooted and grounded in our practice(s) that our awareness is heightened, and we see ourself as the witness. I refer to it as sitting with a bowl of popcorn and watching the movie unfold without getting caught up in the plot, characters and story line. I can bear witness to the unfolding chaos. When I am in this state, I feel like I am flowing smoothly. There is this sense of knowing and feeling the connection to earth, spirit, the Source, and joy. It feels like I have a skip in my step, and my heart is smiling! Speaking of smiling, do people need to smile more, or what?

How are you feeling this first week in December? Are you feeling grounded or scattered?I invite you to sit with the following questions and perhaps even use them as journal prompts or just food for thought:

  • Are there parts of your life that are flowing smoothly?
  • Are there some that aren’t?
  • Can you name the feelings that arise when your life is flowing smoothly?
  • What thoughts, feelings, or sensations arise when parts of your life aren’t flowing so smoothly?
  • Are you a peaceful person, or are you filled with regrets, grievances and resentments?
  • Who are the peaceful people in your life?
  • How do they make you feel when you are around them?
  • Who or what disrupts your peace?
  • What are you willing to do about it?
  • What are some activities that bring a sense of peace, calm and ease into your life?
  • Where do you turn for inspiration?

On this first Wednesday in December, my wish for you is that you may know Peace. I will leave you with a lovely prayer/affirmation from meditation cards that I have (http://www.mayyouknowjoy.com). By the way, these cards make a lovely holiday or hostess gift. And if someone you know is in need of a simple reminder, then this deck of cards, and accompanying book, make the perfect gift!

May You Know Peace

May you know peace in the core of your being. May you breathe in and out and know that everything is exactly as it should be and you’re exactly where you are supposed to be. May the lightness of peace guide you. May it be friends with strength and hope. And, if peace seems far off, identify what needs to be removed or changed to make space for it.

Peace out darlings!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

Good Morning Sunshine…Hello Joy

“The Joy of Being, which is the only true happiness, cannot come to you through any form, possession, achievement, person or event – through anything that happens. That Joy cannot come to you – ever. It emanates from the formless dimension within you, from consciousness itself and this is one with who you are.” Eckhart Tolle

There’s nothing like seeing someone first thing in the morning and feeling a ray of sunshine beaming down on you. I can best describe it as a feeling of inner Joy. When I was working, one of my colleagues and I would always exchange the greeting, Good Morning Sunshine, and the other would say, Hello Joy! And since tomorrow is Susanne’s birthday, I was inspired to write this blog by the memory of this exchange – and one that we continue to have when we see each other at our monthly birthday luncheons.

Simply stated, we are either Joy or not. Joy is something that comes from within our very being, our essence, our true self. We can’t make it up, seek it outside ourselves, buy it, or expect it to come to us. This type of “expectation” is one that just causes more pain, suffering, disappointment, negativity and unhappiness. In the book, A New Earth,  Eckhart Tolle goes on to say that Unhappiness or negativity is a disease of our planet.” He wrote these words ten years ago, and they are ever so true to this very day. He further states that “Pollution is on the outer level, negativity is on the inner. It is everywhere! It’s not just in places where people don’t have enough, but even more so where they have more than enough.” When I saw him interviewed on Super Soul Sunday, he remarked how the tremendous amount of earth’s energy field is produced by people. No kidding! That is definitely clear as daylight. How can we shift the energy field?

Imagine if every single person took responsibility for the energy they bring into a room? Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, speaker and author, talks about this in her Ted Talk, My Stroke of Insight (one of those talks that went viral). If you haven’t heard of her, she was a brain researcher who studied her own stroke as it was happening. Talk about things happening for a reason and living one’s purpose! Being left in a state of pure consciousness (and unable to speak, read, write or walk at the time), she was ever so conscious of the positive and negative energy that different people brought into the room. Imagine if more people chose to clear themselves of negative energy, be still and connect to their inner being-ness and knowing-ness, and operated from that place of Love and Joy? Imagine what that would do to our beautiful planet’s energy field?

It’s not a difficult thing to do. All it entails is to be aware of that moment of negativity creeping up, and choose differently. Some may argue that it is easier said than done; however, with practice, diligence, and healthy boundaries, we do come to that place where choosing differently becomes our default setting. Sometimes, a good visual helps us be with what is in that moment (my visual happens to he a big red stop sign in my third eye – with flashing lights around it). If we stay rooted and grounded in the present moment, we are better equipped to be more mindful and aware of the decisions we make, exchanges we have, what we are willing to let into our own personal space or energy field, and the energy we bring into a room.

And speaking of energy fields, this is a time of year people tend to unravel, spiral, lose control, and push themselves into a state of sheer exhaustion…all self-imposed by the way! Rather than enjoy each moment, each day, each exchange or interaction, the “Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers” come out to play, tensions build, tempers flare, guilt sets in and the ugly in people comes out. Obviously, we have the ability to rise above all that if we take the time to listen, make our well-being a priority, heed our intuition, honor our boundaries, and bring consciousness and awareness into our daily modus operandi. With practice, commitment, patience, steadfastness and grace, we can all honor our inner needs during trying times by taking care of ourselves and protecting our precious energy field – regardless of the people and/or circumstances with which we are dealing (and if there are people who add way too much stress to your life, well it’s then time to “clean house”).

Here are a few simple and power-filled tips that pop up now and then on Facebook and Instagram, and they are right on the money.

To Protect Your Energy:

  • It’s okay to cancel a commitment
  • It’s okay to change your mind
  • It’s okay to want to be alone
  • It’s okay to take a day off
  • It’s okay to do nothing
  • It’s okay to speak up
  • It’s okay to let go 

If someone gets upset at you, that is their problem not yours! Remember, YOUR well-being, sanity, peace of mind, health and wellness should be the priority…..just sayin’!

Now that the holidays have started, we can savor them in a stress-free and enjoyable way. Time is precious, and we have the ability to enjoy wonder-filled and beautiful moments with our friends and loved ones and when we are alone too.  If we tap into our true essence and acknowledge our limitless, love-filled, miraculous and joyous self, cut ourselves some slack, loosen up, relinquish the need to control, ask for help and make our well-being a priority, we will be walking around radiating lots of Sunshine and Joy! The choice is ours to make….doom, gloom and negativity or sunshine, joy and positivity? If you ask me, it’s a no-brainer….wink, wink.

To keep my energy levels in check, I’m going to add one more to the list. I will only be blogging on Wednesdays throughout the month of December. This way, I can relax more, spend time reading and perhaps even write more!

Protect your energy, embrace the joy and shine away darlings….You’ve got the power!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

The Art of Being Held

“I’ve got you.”

Three simple powerful words: I’ve- got- you. How many times have we said that to someone in the midst of a crisis or life situation? Why do we say that? We say it because we know the power of those words and their implication: no matter what is going on in our life, we know that someone has our back.

The inspiration and title for this blog came to me during one of my yoga classes. I was listening to the talk and the teachings we take part in before starting with our actual physical practice. We were commenting on how sometimes we get so caught up in the frenzy, what’s going on in the world, in our homes, in our lives, on the job OR what is not going on, and we tend to judge, become critical and get lost in the thoughts behind the voice in our heads. This is another time when we must hit the “Pause” button and remind ourselves that we are not the voices in our head!

So, how do we pull back, reign ourselves in from self-sabotage and that feeling of incompetency, ineptness, frustration or feeling like we are drowning without a life-preserver? Well, we once again stop, pause, breathe and remind ourselves that we are being held. And not just by those physical beings who we know have our back, but by the powerful, all-encompassing divine power of God (or whatever words resonates for you) this most magical Universe, guardian angels and even our spirit family. It’s truly an art we must learn to cultivate. As my lovely friend Andrea mentioned in class, these are the times we must remember that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. There will be times, people and circumstances that push our buttons, but if we tap into our toolbox and the knowingness that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves, we can bask in the glory of knowing we are being held.

One of my mantras when I walk outside is, “Feel the love. Have faith. Go with the flow.” I can’t begin to tell you how soothing and invigorating it is. This little mantra / prayer keeps me rooted in the truth of knowing that I am (and we all are) divinely guided, guarded, directed and protected. That’s BIG! If that isn’t the art of being held, then I don’t know what is.

In my last two blogs, I included a meditation in one and some affirmations in the other. Today, I will leave you with a prayer. Unfortunately, I do not have the name of the person who wrote it, but it wasn’t me. Just sayin’….total transparency! As one of my teachers, the lovely and much revered Angela always points out, if the word “God” does not work for you or your belief system, please use whatever word resonates for you…it can be Divine Being, Supreme Being, Spirit, The Universe, Mother Nature, Mother Earth, or the name of that one almighty power that is greater than you….that divine power that you know holds you.

God’s Love Has Got Me

Dear God, it is so comforting to know that You’ve got me, and that nothing separates me from Your love. Even when I mess up or trip up, You’ve got me! When I forget who I Am or Whose I Am, You’ve got me! When I go my own way and make decisions out of fear or dread, You’ve got me! When I stumble, I never completely fall because You’ve got me! You’ve got me in the palm of Your Hands, and in the power of Your Love. You’ve got me in the sacredness of silence and in the chaos and confusion of my own doing.

In my humanness, I sometimes forget Your love, and I attempt to walk away from Your tender mercies and still, I know You’ve got me! I am so grateful for Your presence and Your grace. I am so grateful for Your love and Your peace. And, I am so grateful for all the ways that show me Your Love. So that I know – that You, Mighty God, have always got me! Amen

 

Stay in the light darlings-the astonishing light of your own being and, remember, You Are Held!

Inhale Love…Exhale Gratitude, JTC

 

 

 

Too Blessed to Be Stressed

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  -Albert Einstein

Well my darlings, since it’s “Black Friday,” I imagine that many of you are out scurrying around and perhaps already starting to feel stressed. How is it that we allow ourselves to get to that point around the holidays? I’ll tell you a little secret – it’s because we choose to allow it. Rather than seeing and enjoying the blessings and miracles around us, some of are spiraling and choosing to allow self-imposed demands and stress to blind us. This is precicely when self-care needs to be at the top the list! “Too blessed to be stressed” is a great mantra to turn to these days.

When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, hit the “Pause” button, breathe and listen to what your body is telling you it needs. It will intuitively tell you what you need to do in order to restore a sense of balance, calm, ease, peace and enjoyment in your life. I’m going to keep today’s blog short and leave you with beautiful affirmations I received several years ago when Iyanla Vanzant used to publish a monthly newsletter. Each month dealt with a particular principle, and Gratitude was the one for November. I invite you to pause and breathe between each affirmation (nice juicy deep breaths), and see what images pop into your mind. Linger in each moment… for just a bit. Acknowledge the beautiful miracle that YOU are, and celebrate your beautiful gifts. And while you are at it, look around at all the miracles in your life. Hopefully, these afirmations, and the beautiful visuals they conjure up, will serve to help you stay in the Too Blessed to Be Stressed mindset!

Affirmations

I gratefully accept all the health, wealth and happiness that the Universe expresses through me every day.

I am deeply thankful for the beauty of life that flourishes around me.

I give thanks for all that I have and all that I shall be. I am open to all possibilities.

I am grateful I am abundant in all areas of my life.

With great gratitude, I release that which has served its purpose in my life, knowing that a greater good automatically replaces that which is no more. 

As I continuously explore that which is my true calling in life, I give thanks for the knowledge that allows me to nurture my heart’s desire with love, compassion and confidence.

With deep gratitude, I give thanks for all the experiences that have made me who I am. I am thankful for the wisdom and knowledge that pulls me forward toward my divine purpose. 

I am in deep gratitude for God’s endless gifts.

Stay calm and carry on!

Inhale Love… Exhale Gratitude, JTC