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LIVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!


Finding rest in stillness

I love what I do so much, it often doesn’t feel like work and because of that I can become so engrossed in what I’m doing, I function at a rapid pace that would make the Energizer Bunny green with envy! Unfortunately, when this happens time off becomes an afterthought and I don’t allow myself enough time for rest and renewal.
Well, this autumn it all caught up with me. I completely over-extended myself, to the point of exhaustion. Even though my stamina had wilted and I was having trouble focusing or creating, I kept pushing myself – willing myself – to meet those relentless deadlines and complete those urgent projects, pressing for my attention. Wariness foiled my concentration. Whenever I stepped away to be still, I couldn’t switch off my racing mind.
This had been going on for a few months until, unable to keep up the pace, I wedged in time for a day’s rest. Unfortunately, it was too little too late! I awoke the next morning unrealistically confident about how much energy I’d recouped, and how alert I was to handle all the plans outlined in my head. But now I had finally stopped, I couldn’t muster the strength to get moving again. I was a pile of mush.

Reluctantly succumbing to slumber’s insistence that I swiftly return to its embrace, I spent another day in bed; a day that eventually turned into several! During brief dalliances with wakefulness guilt slipped under the covers beside me, taunting me with all the unmet deadlines and incomplete projects I was neglecting. I sang guilt a lullaby and shamelessly drifted back to sleep; my only regret being my inability to keep my eyes open long enough to engage in a meaningful time of meditation.
After a number of days had slipped by in a groggy haze, I tentatively heaved myself out from under the cocoon of the comforter to take a short meditative walk on the trail, which snakes its way around the cul-de-sac by my house. Plodding – albeit mindfully – up the path leading to the pond at the end of the street, I paused and exhaled. Silently tuned into the echo of nothingness resounding around me, I tossed back my head, sucked in a few whopping great gulps of air (like my life depended on it), and stretched my arms up towards the sky, out the sides towards the trees, then down my back towards the ground; all the while deepening every breath – until stillness usurped inertia.
After a couple of weeks of slumber, interspersed with mindful walking in nature and deep breathing by the pond, I slowly began to revive. I was not merely stirring from exhaustion-induced drowsiness, I was also awakening to how, to my detriment, I’d allowed self-neglect to leech my vibrancy – and almost jeopardize my dedication to my practice.
This journey to the brink was my wake-up call, a reminder to take my own advice about spiritual self-care and no longer give myself away to such an extent where I leave myself bereft of energy or enthusiasm for nurturing self-care; not even if, misguidedly, it’s in the name of sacred service.

Gradually, I inched my way back to daily life and extended again the length of my somewhat renewed meditation practice. I resolved to take better care of myself in order to more effectively give from a full vessel, rather than scrape out contents from an empty barrel. Into this re-awakened consciousness new ideas dribbled into my mind during my pond-side reveries, including the thought, which soon became my mantra: “I live like I mean it.” Yes, I live like I mean it!
As we gear up for the Holiday Season activities, my wish for you is that the best gift you receive this year will be the one you give to yourself – the gift of time for self-care and sacred practice. May you emerge on the other side with a reserve of energy, verve, and clarity; and may the affirmative mantra ushering us all into 2013 be, “I live like I mean it!”

THE TAO OF THE DAUNTLESS DOE


Every day it’s the same: she gallops down the bluff toward me and then abruptly stops in her tracks, nervously watching out of the corner of her eye to determine whether I am friend or foe. Before her arrival, I’ve been sitting transfixed in stillness. Here she now stands, stock-still, while I sit motionless. We gaze non-committedly at each other for several moments before the honey-coloured deer darts off in search of other adventures in the neighbourhood. Her appearance not only adds to the reverie of the moment, I witness her presence with heartfelt gratitude for such a place of peace in which to experience my oneness with all things.

Until a couple of months ago, what was supposed to be the back patio was just a vacant grimy, mildewed slab of concrete. It certainly didn’t entice me to go out and take advantage of the spectacular view of the meadow bluff, looming unexpectedly at the back of the house in an otherwise cookie-cutter housing development.

When I moved into my home five years ago, I had such grand ideas in mind for what I wanted to create out there but then found I had neither the time nor the budget to realize my dream. However, as I was to discover, it didn’t take nearly as much to transform the space as I’d first anticipated.

In the last several weeks I had the concrete slab power-washed and sealed; added some seating and a couple of side tables; assembled a collection of plants to form a focal point and, voilà! I now have this beautiful sacred space that acts as my Zen-like meditation garden.

At dusk it’s a charmingly romantic candle-lit space, where I sit and watch the glinting stars instead of the glare of the computer or TV screen. In the mornings, I love to step into this new outdoor spot and become enveloped in the hum and energy of early dawn igniting my senses.

I appreciate the rising sun’s first blushes brushing the meadow’s cheeks, and then turn my gaze to the flicker of the candles. I smell the feint aroma of incense plumes swirling around the peace-inducing Buddha garden statue. I listen to the agreeable sound of the bell-shaped wind chimes dangling in the breeze, and the tinkling flow of the water fountain, which acts as a melodic backdrop to the birds waltzing from tree to tree, harmonizing their morning chorus.

Ushered gently into a quiet place of pause, I repose in my wicker chair to pray, meditate, and journal – and watch, as the dauntless doe jaunts down the bluff for her morning dose of stillness.

Posted in News on January 4, 2012 2 comments

A JUICY AND DELICIOUS NEW YEAR!


Juicy and Delicious 2012!

It’s normal for me to feel a sense of optimism and hopeful anticipation at the start of a new year. And, though I can’t quite put my finger on it, I have the sense that this year, the energy that ushered me into 2012 somehow feels different – It shimmers and sizzles and just has more oomph to it than usual!

This animating energy is prompting me to want to do things differently – to break out of the habitual rituals, roles, and comfort zones that have served me so well for many years but now feel passé. I’m gushing with new ideas and aspirations. My soul longs for new expression, the kind that more notably reflects my true essence. I feel ready to break open and live an ample and luscious life, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Words like “juicy” and “delicious” come to mind as those which, when it’s over, I would want to use to describe my audacious, bold, courageous 2012 adventure.

They say, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Yet, this doesn’t feel like a year to keep the status quo, to do things I have always done in the way I’ve always done them. This is a year to be expansive in my thinking and expectations and to move beyond self-imposed boundaries. This is a year for more vim, vigor, and verve in my ministry, my health, my finances – my life!

Ordinarily, I have an idea of the list of goals I want to accomplish during the year and, using my Mastermind Journal as the container, I identify any action steps, small or great, which can be taken on a monthly and weekly basis, and I transfer these to the appropriate placeholder in my journal. This is a great way to not only keep me focused on my goals but also keeps track of those which have been accomplished, those that need to be deferred, and those that, well, while they were a good idea at the time, are plainly no longer viable or appealing.

I wanted to capture this new-found ardor, brimming over into the first week of the New Year, and reflect it in the kind of dreams and goals I would set for myself for 2012. This clearly called for a new approach; so I created what I called a “Fast-Forward Meditation” in which, having relaxed and become centered, I visualized myself propelled into the future to 31 December 2012. I visualized myself taking note of my surroundings and of what I was doing, what I was wearing, what was happening around me, who was with me, and what I was thinking and feeling.

From this vantage point, with the benefit of imaginary hindsight, and a handy set of questions posed in the present tense to make it feel more concrete, I continued with the following line of enquiry:

• What can I say is my greatest success or triumph of 2012?
• What is it I am most proud of completing?
• What areas of my life, affairs, body, emotions, are healed/transformed?
• What would I like to have done differently?
• What is my biggest piece of unfinished business? What steps can I take to complete it?
• Which person/s had the greatest impact on me? Why?
• What one key thing did I do to make a difference to my family, in my community, or in the world?

Normally, I reflect on these types of questions as part of my New Year goal-setting process – but that’s when the current year is actually over. This though, was like creating my own premonition; heightened, in part, by adding context, texture, and emotions to make it feel real. Setting sacred intention with an imaginary peek into the future, while in a deep meditative state, helped me create more meaningful goals and aspirations; goals that are still SMART (S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Attainable, R=Realistic, T=Time-based) yet, are informed by the wisdom of the soul.

I am now ready to embody 2012 with my whole quintessential self. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this vibrant year and take huge, tasty, juicy bites from life in ways that satisfy my mind, body and soul.

Ummmm…DELICIOUS!

Our Light Touch Adventure


The Touching the Stillness cruise last week was awesome! The weather was balmy, the seas (apart from one evening) were calm, the sunrises and sunsets breath-taking, the group magnificent, and the crew wonderful!

Each morning we started our day with a Daily Word Gathering; and every afternoon I led a meditation – even on days when we were at port for those still aboard the cruise liner. In one of those afternoon meditations I included a Silent Unity Prayer Service; and on the day we were in Curacao (which means “heart”) I led a heart meditation. Kyle Bogard, one of our retreat guests and a Touching the Stillness friend, led retreat guests in a Movement meditation one afternoon; and each morning we’d shake off the dust with a wake-up stretch she led during our Daily Word gathering.

We enjoyed a rousing Sunday worship service, with an inspiring Sunday lesson from Rev. Paul Tenaglia, Senior minister of Unity of New York – A Spiritual Center for Creative Living. We brought the light touch to each session through bubbles…You guys know I LOVE bubbles! We laughed, danced, sang, played, cried, prayed, dug a little deeper for healing and clarity, and let our light shine…Some in our group stepped out of their comfort zone and fulfilled goals and dreams, while others experienced dramatic life-changing healings.

Spiritus, the retreat music team for the week, who hail from Paul’s Center in New York, blessed us so much with their fabulous music all week long but especially so during their closing concert, which we opened to other passengers on board. One couple – not part of our retreat – came to me after in tears and said their experience of the concert was the highlight of their cruise experience.

This was a special, exhilirating event and I’m already making plans for the next one so get ready to get onboard for the next Touching the Stillness “Light Touch” Retreat at sea! All are welcome.