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Self Care

Mind- Full?

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Mind- Full?

What is your mind full of now? 

This is a good question that can help you learn to be present in the moment.  In the moment, you have everything you need.  Sometimes when we take the time to stop and notice, we realize the thoughts we are thinking are driving us in the opposite direction of the one we would choose to go if we were more aware.   Mindfulness practice has many health benefits and is growing in popularity as our culture continues to amp up on speed and multi-tasking. 

Mindfulness is simply the practice of being aware of what is happening in the moment without judgment.  The awareness is the easy part.  The ‘without judgment’ is where the true work of mindfulness lies.  We are so programmed to sort our experiences and judge every thought, word, and deed as good or bad, right or wrong, black or white.  This either/or type thinking tends to keep us bound to the small mind that judges.  Mindfulness training invites us to take a step back and see things from a larger perspective.  As we loosen our grip and release the tendency to judge and control we grow in acceptance and compassion for what is both within and all around us.

This past week, my kids had no school for spring break.   Because of our work schedules, we were planning on doing a stay-cation much to the kids’ dismay.  On the first adventure of the week we went into the city and saw a musical.  Our friends came to join us and we had a fabulous time.  Before the evening was over, my friend invited us to join them on a last minute excursion to the ocean.  She encouraged and nudged and everything in me said “no.”   Not because I wouldn’t like to steal away and head to the beach, but my mind had a plan for the week and this was not in the cards.  My small mind said, “this is the right plan” and it would not budge.  It got feisty and defensive as I tried to introduce all the reasons why this could be a good plan.  In this moment I was aware of the way my mind was full of judgment and when I took time to pause and engage with what was happening internally, a shift occurred. 

Mindfulness practice is simply noticing yourself caught in the war in your mind and choosing to loosen your grip.  It is the choice that we make to stop the regularly scheduled program of energy draining distraction and cultivating a pause.  In that quiet space, you can shift to a life-giving concentration, and exercise your power to choose.

This is the practice of presence:  Begin by coming to a comfortable seated position.  Give your body permission to relax any tension or strain and simply arrive.  As you let go of the stress, bring your awareness to your breath.  Simply notice the breath as it enters the tip of the nose.  Pause at the top of the inhale and rest in the stillness.  Notice the breath as it exits the tip of the nose.  As you let go of the breath, you have permission to release with it anything that feels like stress.  Pause in the emptiness at the bottom of the exhale letting go completely.  With each breath you are invited to simply love what is without judgment or pressure to control anything, allow the breath to lead you back to that calm place that is your center.  Practice resting there and notice how you feel.  If your mind begins to wander, gently and lovingly bring it back to the breath.  Allow the breath to lead you in the direction of love.

After you practice mindful breathing, you may be able to look at your current reality with new eyes.  Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote “when you change the way you look at things; the things you look at change.”  Sometimes the only thing that shifts in mindfulness practice is our perspective and that is often the most important thing.  When we are able to return to the center and release our judgments, we are able to return to a common flow of Spirit, life and love.  There is an energy greater than we are and it is constantly flowing in a positive direction.  Why don’t you practice stopping next time your mind feels like it is on overflow?  Return to the present moment and breathe in this gift of Spirit and life that is riding on the breath.  Pause and rest in the stillness and remember that everything you need lies within.  Use your exhale as a reminder to let go.  In letting go, we are free!  What are you willing to release this week so that you can move toward the freedom you were meant for?

Last week, after stopping my programmed stress response, I was able to see clearly.  I was able to loosen my grip and release my two beautiful girls to go on a spring break adventure with my dear friend and her daughter.  Because I let go, they were all blessed and so was I, as I found space to breathe and empty out corners of my mind, heart and home.  I am entering this week with gratitude and spaciousness and inviting you to pause and loosen your grip. 

May you be safe.  May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you move through the world with ease….

Please join us for our upcoming mindfulness workshop: http://www.sowthat.com/services/from-surviving-to-thriving-a-mindfulnessworkshop

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The Intersection

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The Intersection

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; Beauty from ashes – You’ve heard all the clichés. Throughout my life, I’ve always had a sense that there’s more and that these clichés are actually true. I am the person I am today because of the circumstances of my life, right?

While I believe this is true, I’m now convinced there’s more. There are more than just ashes supernaturally making my difficult circumstances beautiful. This is both good news and problematic. Good news because it says my pain is worth something – that there is a purpose that is good. Problematic because it requires something of me, something that is difficult and brave and deeply uncomfortable. ”I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” says Paul in Romans 8:18. The operative word here is in us. Glory is revealed in me? Yes, but only when I compare it to my present sufferings – which requires me to look at them—and a hard look at them with Jesus at my side, nudging me with the hope that glorious purpose can be birthed.

This means that when I feel the unease of God’s hand gently pressing something specific on me, I embrace it and linger in it, holding it in my hands delicately, like a newborn. It requires me to turn away from distractions – a glass of wine, another humorous video or simply scroll my Facebook newsfeed again. I will do anything to distract myself from the twinge of uneasiness.

Jesus’ own life was a beautiful, and tragic, mix of purpose and pain. He’s described as a man well acquainted with grief, perhaps because He was crystal-clear in his purpose, right to the cross. Unlike Him, we deeply desire purpose but often want it without the pain. We want to be the passionate, strong leader our church teaches us to be, but often we want to go unscathed in the process.

My own sense of purpose is somewhat vague to me during this present season. I wrestle to unearth that which I sense God drawing me to look at, deeply held beliefs due to scars in my past, as well as patterns of relating that I keep clutched. I cooperate, slowly letting go like a child releasing a blanket of security, trusting God will someday bring purpose to all the difficult grappling.

In the words of speaker, writer and thought-leader, Dan Allender, to have purpose “…one needs to have walked where few choose to tread – the valley of the shadow of death.” The irony of this is that it is actually good news. In a sense God’s only requirement for us to have purpose is to look inward, with Him, at the truth of our trauma and brokenness. Only then, after being refined, will our profound purpose be revealed. Beauty from ashes? Oh yes, with a relentless trust that our purpose is something God had in mind for us all along.

 

Join us April 28th for our Unleash Your Life Purpose Workshop and begin to find and unleash your unique and stunning purpose into this world. 

 

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Strength in Community

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Strength in Community

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up… A chord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ephesians 4:9-10, 12

I first experienced the tremendous healing power of a group when working with kids at the wellness center a few years ago.  There were 10 kids in the room ranging from 7 – 12.  They were all girls and the other thing they had in common was that cancer was affecting their life.  One day a 9-year-old girl was lying on her mat, too sick from her treatment to participate in the yoga.  Another girl made a comment that it wasn’t fair that she wasn’t doing it.  Her older sister shot up like a rocket and leaned way into the other girl’s space and said, “It’s because she’s got cancer!”  Another young girl in a quiet and sad voice said, “my dad just died from cancer,” and one more girl spoke up to say, “My dad died last year from cancer.”  I threw my plan out the window and used the next hour to bring to light the elephant in the room.  When I first began volunteering there, I was determined to provide a fun distraction from the cancer.  I tried not to mention the “C” word unless one of the kids brought it up, and they rarely did, because they were happy to get a break form it. 

We began to pretend our minds were televisions and we each held our remote and practiced pushing pause, we turned in to focus on the unchanging light within each one of our hearts.  We paused to breathe deeply and exhale away the tension and fear and sadness we shared.  The light inside of each of our hearts seemed to be connected to our loved ones and together it was stronger.  The children identified what was hard about cancer and suddenly they didn’t feel so alone in their pain and it loosened its grip, jut a bit.  I explained that every person in that room had the cancer channel on their T.V.  It is a hard place to wait.  It’s helpful to remember, but also important not to stay too long in the place of sadness.  We have the power to push pause or change the channel at any moment.  The children were invited to remember a precious memory from the past, a happy day or moment, before cancer showed up.  You could see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they remembered when life was “normal.”  The kids learned how important it is to remember our loved ones with gratitude, for this is how they live on in our hearts.  We can turn our remote controls to a place of happy remembering whenever we want, but be careful not to stay too long there either.  We have to live in the present moment and work in each moment to carry the light of those we have loved and lost out into the world.  Today, in the midst of being too close to cancer, I remember that group with profound gratitude because it helped me name my own grief and fear around the disease. 

The next time I found myself in a group that rocked my world was a “Listen to My Life” personal story mapping group.  Seven of us met weekly in a friend’s living room for over a year to unpack our stories and begin to recognize and reflect back to one another the work that God has been doing in our lives from the beginning.  Sometimes we miss the forest through the trees and we need caring eyes and loving gazes in the dark places of confusion and shame.  It is so transformative to have love in the valleys and company all along the journey.  As we entered into the intimate places of our stories together our compassion and love grew beyond what we could have hoped for or imagined.  We began to recognize universal themes of humanity that felt so personal until we noticed them threaded through the fibers of other stories at the table.  Dan Allender said, “We can’t see our face unless it’s reflected back in the face of another.”  The mirroring and attunement that happened at that table changed my brain and my life.  I healed in deep places that I didn’t even realize I was broken in.  To offer this gift of sacred community and hold safe containers of care is one of the primary missions of SOW that…

I also sat in a circle with 86 others at a woman’s retreat this week.  It was a beautiful space filled with courageous and blessed women.  After spending an hour moving and breathing and praying with our mind, body and Spirit, you could feel a lightness and beauty and ease floating through that space.  The women did a guided meditation in which they scanned their bodies for the clenched fist and places they were still clinging tightly and were invited to let go and breathe life and blessing into every fiber of their beings.  They turned to face another person in the circle and for just 3 minutes were asked to share their hearts and then practice listening from the heart.  After that exercise each woman checked out with a word, the harvest of blessing that they would take back into their daily walk.  It was holy and beautiful and affirmed the profound need and value of community.  We spend our lives serving and giving and doing, but the time has come for us to cultivate a pause, to be still and allow loving eyes to rest upon us.  We must show up for ourselves and come to the table of blessing, to be seen, known and loved.  If this is what your heart needs, please click the link to sign up for our “Lighten UP – wellness group” starting this month.

"Knowledge is power.  Community is strength & positive attitude is everything.”

                                                                                                -Lance Armstrong
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Resistance to Care

Resistance to Care

Every time the flight attendant on the airplane instructs me to put the oxygen mask over my own face before tending to my children, it reminds me of the importance of self care.  This tendency to take care of ourselves first somehow gets lost in the daily acts of caring for all those around us.  It seems selfish and counter intuitive to do things for yourself.  Self care or asking for care is taboo in our culture.   Most of us are over-functioning and running on empty feeling exhausted and depleted and proud of the way we are getting it all done.  We are moving so quickly and don’t realize we have a need until we are broken down on the side of the road with no idea of how we got there.  This resistance to care is familiar to most human beings and it is the very thing we at SOW that… hope to eradicate.  When every person in the world takes better care of themselves, every person in the world will feel better taken care of.  Then, and only then, will we finally be able to take better care of others.  Caring for others begins with putting your oxygen mask on first!

How do you take care of you?  The first step is to “Be still and know.” When we enter the quiet and push pause on all activity, we learn the importance of being present and begin to experience the peace that is always there.  When you give yourself time to simply be, you begin to realize that you are enough as you are and that you are worthy of care.  Once you return to this simple truth, a profound paradigm shift happens and you are able to allow yourself to receive again. 

Why is it so hard to receive?  Brene Brown said that if you have a hard time receiving, you have unwittingly bound shame to need.  This is where the work begins!  The work of mining your story for the place where the vows were made and your heart turned to self preservation.  I remember being small and powerless.  I remember wanting much more and not having any ability to change that reality and so I cut out the need and the desire at the root.  Growing up in a household with 11 children created a bit of a scarcity complex and at the time, the vow I made to never need anything was good and helpful, but today it is not.  The work in identifying where the vow was made requires for you to enter the grief of the story.  To acknowledge what was hard and painful is to clear away debris so the light can enter again.  Where my heart once held despair and grief, it now has been enlarged to hold hope and desire.  This is not an easy task and with it comes much resistance.  We often want the end result of greater intimacy and freedom, but there seems to be a ten-foot brick wall between us and what we long for.  Our deepest desire in community is to be seen and loved, but for some reason, we hide and resist the love that’s extended.  Once you realize that you are blocking the flow of connection and love, you can finally begin to lay down your arms and humbly receive.

Name and acknowledge the resistance:  How do you feel about taking time for yourself or asking for care?

We invite you to join us for a night of self care where you will engage your body mind and Soul for the sake of integration, healing, and deep connection.  Click on "Classes" to learn about and sign up for our next connection night and our Mini Retreat coming up in June.