Little Joys- Signs of Spring

Garden Gnome keeps watch

I am not the only one watching for signs of Spring.

Celebrating the Earth

This year’s Spring vacation was actually a “stay-cation” and I couldn’t be happier.  I spent a glorious week noticing the daily subtle changes in my own backyard.  Every day is Earth Day to me and every moment of every day has it’s own, never-to-be-replicated beauty.  From a gathering of bluejays to a spectacular sunrise, blink and I miss it.  Gaia calls us to be fully present to experience her rich bounty.

Daffodils in my Garden

The daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.

I celebrate the early spring color palette with each new blossom and blade of grass.  Blink and I miss the brilliant yellow daffodils in my garden lift their joyful heads to the sun.  The yellow forsythias wave their arms in greeting.  The white, delicate lace flowers of the serviceberry act as a veil between me and the clear blue sky.  “Everything is holy now,” Peter Mayer wisely wrote.

A veil of serviceberry blossoms against the bright blue sky

“Everything is Holy now” wrote Peter Mayer.

Blink and I miss the yellows and whites make way for the purple of lilac and hyacinth and the delicate pinks of cherry and dogwood.  Each has it’s own cycle within the greater cycle of transformation that forms the wheel of the year.

Blink and I miss the little place in my garden where a rabbit is preparing a nest for her young.  One day, I noticed the mulch in a flowerbed pushed aside.  Soon, dried grass and straw appeared in a neat little pile.  Then, this little nest materialized.  As I write and look out my window, the nest is completely hidden from view by a mother who instinctively knows what to do for her young ones.  How much wiser would we be if we were more attuned to Nature?  What do we know that we have forgotten?

Rabbit mother prepares for birth

Mulch and soil are pushed aside as a mother rabbit prepares a place for her babies.

Ok, confession time.  At the time of the Winter Solstice, I hung a wreath by my front door.  Amazingly, it stayed perfectly green through December, January, February, and most of March.  I should have taken it down but procrastinated.  By the time I thought about it again, I noticed a bird flitting back and forth from the wreath to wherever she needed to go for food and… you guessed it… building material for her nest.  Well, what could I do?  The wreath is brown and brittle but she loved the location and gave birth to three wee ones.  When they fly the nest, I’ll toss the wreath.  I promise.

Mother bird chooses a safe place for raising her young.

A winter wreath becomes the birthplace of three birds.

Honoring the Earth

I could sit in reverence all day every day, observing the beings in my yard live, grow, and eventually die.  The cycle of birth-death-rebirth is the natural way of things.  I know.  But Mother Earth calls me to action.  It’s not enough to take, I must give back to stay in right relationship with Her.

I honor Her by vowing to be a steward of the land entrusted to me for as long as I live here.  Ancestors of bloodline and ancestors of place are with me as I cut back dead raspberry canes and clear the space around my grapevines.  I hear my grandfather’s voice echo in my heart, gifting me with his wisdom of flora and fauna.  I see the rainbow of jars in my grandmother’s root cellar- her connection to the land made visible.  I sense the presence of those who tended this plot of land long before “my people” even set foot on the shore of North America as immigrants in the early 20th century.

So I garden without herbicides and pesticides.  I hang prayer flags and make offerings.  I grab a lawn chair and my watercolors for a quick plein air session with the tulips and squirrels.  I pick up every bit of trash that blows into my yard.  It’s heartbreaking to see a birdnest with trash woven in among the grass, straw, and twigs.  I plant native species and compost as much as possible.  I do what I can the best I can.

Most importantly, I sit in silence and listen to her many voices– the wind, the rain, the birdsong, and my own contented sighs of belonging.  Call it prayer, call it meditation,… I call it CONNECTION.

Being in Relationship with Mother Earth

I love them all… all of the beings on our beautiful planet.  My view of “beings” has greatly expanded with my awareness of indigenous cultures and earth-centered traditions.  Trees, streams, oceans, plains, mountains, polar bears, glaciers, bees, wolves, … do you get where I’m going with this?  We are all connected.  All life is one.

I weep for the fact that we live in a time where we have to march to protect our planet.  In less than three centuries, we have littered the world with plastic, fossil fuel pollution, and chemicals.  We have killed more species than I can fathom- extinct, gone,…forever.  We continue to threaten all life with our choices and this breaks my heart but I’m hopeful that we are raising awareness and more of us are doing what we can to help the environment… for all of us…and I do mean ALL OF US.

I pray that we can educate and enlighten the ignorant.  I also pray that love, light, reverence, and stewardship quickly replace greed, hatred, destruction, and domination.  May we each do what we can to protect our home… our Mother.  I hope you take part in one of the marches around the world next Saturday.  Raise your voice for those who don’t have a voice.

Mother Earth, Mother Earth,

Take our seeds and give them birth.

Father Sun, gleam and glow,

‘Til the roots begin to grow.

Sister Rain, Sister Rain,

Shed your tears to swell the grain.

Brother Wind, breathe and blow,

Tell the blades so green to grow.

Earth and Sun, Wind and Rain

Bring to life the living grain.

Waldorf Song for Children (Writer Unknown)

 

 

 

Self-Care for the Empath on the March

stillness

Self-Care is necessary for body, mind, and spirit.

Who Has Time for Self-Care?

I’ve always been a “To-Do-List” maker.  In the past, I made grocery lists, work-related lists, lists of errands I had to run on Saturday, and even a list of things I’d like to do if I wasn’t so busy making lists!  Do you know anyone like this?

Lately, my list also includes things like march on Washington, call my legislators, write to them when they stop taking phone calls, and put my money where my mouth is by getting rid of credit cards that are affiliated with companies that support things that I don’t.  I never dreamed I’d need a list like this.  I don’t want a list like this!  Who would?!

march-3

I never imagined this being on my To-Do list but it is!

In addition to being a list-maker, I’m an empath and maybe you are, too.  Empaths are highly sensitive people who feel deeply and try to do as much as they can.  They…we… act from a place of compassion and love but can easily get overwhelmed.  It leaves me feeling like this…

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

I have nothing left to give.

 

 So what can I do for body, mind, and spirit?

For me, it begins with a brand new To-Do list, identifying ways to balance what I need with what I need to do.  What are all the ways I can nourish and nurture myself so I don’t get depleted?

  • Body:  Getting sick or exhausted doesn’t do anybody any good… least of all ourselves.  To take care of our physical bodies, I suggest things such as a deep tissue massage, exercise a few times a week, eating healthy foods and also allowing the occasional treat, yoga, and my personal favorite- simply being in nature.  Nothing compares to a few minutes in my backyard where I can listen to the birds and watch the sun set while I swing in a hammock with my fuzzy kids.
  • Mind: This includes things that release my mind from my lists and the oh-so-real sorrows of the world.  I read for the sheer joy of it (mysteries and historical fiction right now).  I also do my best to focus on positive words of encouragement and affirmations like those Jessica Swift sends out as part of her 100 Uplifting Messages 100 Days in a Row.  Part of nurturing a healthy mind is knowing my limits, saying “No” when I need to, and disconnecting from social media when it gets to be too much.  Did I, a blogger, just write that?!  Yes.  Unplug and be present.
  • Spirit:  A balanced program of self-care has to include the spirit.  It can take many forms including meditation, prayer, connecting with a like-minded spiritual community, embracing solitude, Reiki, creative expression, and cuddling your 2-legged and 4-legged loved ones (a bit more difficult if you have a parakeet or fish).

One of the first things I notice about that 3-prong guide to self-care is that it is all connected.  What nourishes the body can also soothe the spirit and quiet the mind.  This reminds me of my post titled Boundaries & Priorities from May 2014.  Following these suggestions and reflecting on those I wrote about 3 years ago take me from “I have nothing left to give” to this….

peaceful-girl

Shhh… self-care in progress.

In the March/April 2017 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, Dr. Judith Orloff’s  article “The Empowered Empath” shares some of her tips for refilling our well so we have more to give others.  I am particularly moved by her Empath Affirmation.

“I will treasure myself and vow to have people in my life who treasure me.

I will use my sensitivities to better my own life and the world.

I will celebrate the adventure of being an empath.”

What do you do for self-care?

I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

 

 

The One You Seek

The One You Seek- mixed media on 18 inch square canvas. SOLD

THE ONE YOU SEEK

The one you seek 

is already here.

The one you seek

always was.

The one you seek

is within you-

is you-

is.

Susan Korsnick 2016

Can I Be Authentic Here?

I just passed a chiropractic office message board that read, “Listen to your body whisper to avoid a scream.”  I want to add two more sentences to that seemingly casual yet profound wisdom…

“Listen to your HEART whisper to avoid a scream.  

Listen to your SOUL whisper to avoid a scream.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve gone through periods of intense growing pains, as I’m sure you can relate to.  We’ve all been there… some of us more than once!  And we’ll go through even more as we grow in wisdom, strength, and self-awareness.  We are able to recognize our authentic selves and step more fully into the life we are meant to lead.

Label Me 1

                           We are so many things to so many people. Who is the Authentic Self?

The first thing that happened to me is exactly what the chiropractor’s sign said, the whisper became a scream or as I put it in my blog post titled Intuition: Trusting the Voice Within (9/13/2015), the breeze became a hurricane.  Suddenly, I realized that while every situation in life contains positive and negative aspects, the negative in my job outweighed any positive benefits, including money.  I wrote in What is My Tipping Point? (7/10/2015) “When the negative outweighs the positive in our relationships, careers, or other aspects of life, it’s time to ask, ‘What’s my tipping point?  How much will I tolerate before I say ENOUGH?'”

I heightened my awareness of the whispers in my body, heart, and soul.  I more fully honored my intuition.  “To successfully experience life’s constant changes, I must heed the still, small voice within so I can wisely decide what must be done for my greatest and highest good.  In other words, I must TRUST MYSELF.”  That’s what intuition is really… trust in one’s self.  I was at my tipping point and I said “ENOUGH”.

Label Me 2

                      By listening to intuition, we can hear our soul beckoning.

So now what?  At 47, I was asking “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  I felt ridiculous and a failure.  I should be planning my approaching retirement not a new career, right?  Wrong.  The best thing to do when my life feels like a size 8 foot trying to cram into a size 6 shoe is make a change.  And sooner is better than later or not at all.

I knew I wanted to have meaning in my life, find greater joy in what I was doing, and do something that spoke to who I am creatively and spiritually.  I had to be authentic and let my talents and skills shine.  As I considered what to do next, I asked myself what has become the most important question of my life.  “Can I be authentic here?”  If the answer is “Yes”, I am right where I should be on my journey.  If the answer is “No”, it’s not time to panic… it’s time to TRANSFORM.

Label Me 3

                             Peel away anything that gets in the way of discovering who you really are.

We want to be where we belong, where we find meaning, where we experience joy, and where we can be ourselves.  I’m not talking about modifying behavior to appropriately suit a social situation.  I’m talking about having the courage to be who we are.  Instead of playing the role of “the chameleon” to fit in with others, having the self-love and self-acceptance to be authentic and see how life blooms in a richer, deeper way.  Doors will open and opportunities will come your way.

Authentic living is empowered living.  

Authentic living is the life you are meant to lead.  

To be authentic takes great courage and strength.  There is a vulnerability in letting people see that we are who we are.  Once I let my authentic self come out to play, I found a career where my experience as a world traveler, artist, teacher, writer, and spiritual being have a place.

I’m still growing, learning, and trying new things.  I’m making richer, more meaningful connections with those who matter.  And every step of the way, I continue to ask, “Can I be authentic here?”.

Use It Or Lose It

I have a confession to make….my comfortable fall-back position is to look outside myself for guidance when I’m in a period of turmoil, whether it be job concerns, relationship issues, or spiritual questioning.  I grab the nearest self-help books, take the workshops, & listen to all the audio-recordings from motivational speakers & gurus that I can find.  Someone “out there” must be able to help me.  Right?  Not necessarily.

Here’s the bottom line.  All of those are wonderful resources BUT…. if I don’t internalize the lessons & APPLY them to my life, none of them will work.  Would I expect to get benefits from a piece of exercise equipment I never use?  Would I become a better artist if I never picked up my brush to paint?

I’ve learned to ….USE IT OR LOSE IT

Here is a short list of useful strategies I have in place to center myself- tools that both nourish & nurture me.

  1. Meditate
  2. Journal write
  3. Create art
  4. Work in my garden
  5. Go for a walk
  6. Connect with nature
  7. Pray
  8. Listen to music
  9. Spend time with those I love
  10. Read
  11. Take time to be alone
  12. Get a massage
  13. Give or receive a Reiki session
  14. Take a power nap
  15. Rattle or drum to change the energy around me
  16. Use positive affirmations
  17. Hold a smooth stone & get grounded again
  18. Play with the dogs
  19. Focus on the many gifts & blessings in my life

I have a great many tools in my “self-care” toolbox but it’s up to me… and only me… to use them when I need them.

 

 

Red Tent Reality

York PA's first Red Tent Event on March 15, 2014

The first Red Tent Event comes to York Pennsylvania

 

On March 15th, twenty-three culturally-diverse women, representing every decade of life from their teens to their seventies, honored the call from deep within themselves to gather in York, Pennsylvania’s first Red Tent.  Coming from as far away as Philadelphia, these women gave themselves the gift of time– time to connect with other women & precious time to reconnect with their authentic Selves in a safe, nurturing space.

The actual Red Tent event only lasted a few short hours but the vortex of positive energy it created affects me on a profound level to this day.  Responses from many of the women, through an on-line survey I sent out after the event, show that it was powerful, provocative, & nourishing.

The space was transformed from the ceiling to the floor.

The space was transformed into an exotic locale in the middle of the city.

 

INSPIRATION

 

After leading women’s groups for years using curricula such as Cakes for the Queen of Heaven & Rise Up & Call Her Name, I’ve since created my own workshops for both women & men under the name Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Selves.  As I researched topics that I thought would stimulate thought & discussion in a women’s spirit circle, I came across  the film, Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Stories from the Red Tent.  This documentary by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost records the grassroots movement of Red Tents popping up all over the country.  “A Red Tent is a red textile space where women gather to rest, renew, & often share deep & powerful stories about their lives.”  It sounded exactly like what I wanted for the group.  I watched the movie at home several times, secretly wishing for  a Red Tent in my community, before sharing both the movie & the vision with others.

One evening last fall, I offered a “Red Tent movie night” with a discussion to follow.  So many women wanted to attend that I had to offer it twice!  Both times, the most popular question asked was, “When are we going to have a Red Tent here?”  That confirmed what I had been thinking.  The time was ripe to join the movement that was fast becoming an international phenomenon.

There’s a saying that if no one presents you with an opportunity, you have to create your own.  Despite being in uncharted territory & having a healthy dose of fear, I created the opportunity that I wanted all of us to share.

The Sacred Wisdom Circle where women could gather & share in a large group.

The Sacred Wisdom Circle where women could gather & share in a large group.

 

 

VISION

My vision was to provide a safe, nurturing environment where women could find what they need to rejuvenate body, mind, & spirit.  I wanted to create a place where they could be in the company of like-minded women, reconnect with their higher selves, & disconnect from the outside world for just a few hours.  No demands, no obligations, no expectations.  After organizing the overall format for the day, I stepped back & let it be what it needed to be.

As facilitator & host, I took my cue from a phrase often heard in education, “Better to be the guide on the side than the sage on the stage.”  This was OUR Red Tent not MY tent.

Creative Space:  materials were provided so women could explore themselves through art or writing.

Creative Space: materials were provided so women could explore themselves through art and writing.

 

A space set aside for intimate conversation away from the larger Wisdom Circle.

A space set aside for intimate conversation away from the larger Wisdom Circle.

BALANCE

From the day I committed to organizing this event, I had to consciously maintain a healthy balance between the logistics required to plan such an event & the sacred intention that would make this more than “just another women’s group”.  I had high expectations for myself & the Tent.

When I prepare for my Pure You spiritually-centered events, creativity workshops, & circle groups, I like to plan the structure (agenda) while recognizing the need for fluidity.  I envision a membrane freely breathing in & out, a living organism that moves the spirit as opposed to rigid schedules that shackle the soul.  The right amount of structure supports; it doesn’t stifle.

Exotic accessories, my artwork, & images of the Divine Feminine filled the space with an energy that honors women.

Exotic accessories, my original artwork, & images of the Divine Feminine filled the space with an energy that honors all women everywhere.  Chocolate wrapped in silver foil glittered here & there because… well… because chocolate is always a good thing to include in a women’s gathering 🙂

 

SYNCHRONICITY

Synchronicity is when the universe hears your prayers & answers them in mystical, mysterious ways.  I never could have organized this Red Tent event without the many kindred spirits who offered their support.  The space was graciously loaned to us by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York & its staff helped promote the event.  Wonderfully artistic women helped create the space & several men offered their appreciation for what we were doing for their wives & girlfriends.  (Eventually, I would like to do more for their daughters as well.)  You know you are on the right track when doors open & someone is there to meet you on the other side.  I am humbled & grateful beyond words.

 

The collage honors women of all ages & cultures.

The collage honors women of all ages & cultures.

 

Each woman lit her flame & put it on the altar to join the flames of everyone else in the Tent.

Each woman lit her flame & put it on the altar to join the flames of everyone else in the Tent.

 

REFLECTION

I deliberately scheduled the first Red Tent to coincide with the Vernal Equinox, a time rich with symbols of new beginnings.  It seemed the perfect time to start a new event for the community.  Thanks to the feedback generously offered by many of the women, I have a better understanding of what they enjoyed about this event & what they would like to see different for the next one.

While many Red Tents don’t have a “theme”, ours did.  I chose “Embracing Change” because so many women expressed that they were in periods of transition– new babies, empty nest syndrome, caring for aging parents, & facing choices as they start new chapters of their lives after retirement.  Someone once said, “The only constant in life is change.”  By sitting in sacred council with one another, more of us clearly saw that what we were experiencing was not new & that we had sisters in our midst who had gone before & had wisdom to share.  We ALL had wisdom to share.

Raw emotions can appear & old wounds can reopen when women gather in a safe space & share their stories.  I made it clear in the beginning that while we are here to listen & support one another, this is not an event that can take the place of talking to a professional.  I had a small table near the exit for business cards, brochures, & emergency numbers of resources available to women in our city.  Whenever I lead a group for spiritual or creative exploration, I take my responsibility for the women’s health & we;ll-being seriously, preparing as much as possible for the unexpected.

Yes, I created a sacred space for women to gather in community with one another but it was the women who created the magic.

I look forward to our June 21st Red Tent Event where our focus will be “Refilling The Well:  Ways To Nurture & Nourish Your Self”.

 

 

Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

Truth Cards

I have an amazing group of friends who I can dance with, drum with, & drink fabulous bottles of wine as we laugh, cry, & share together.  They’re more than friends; they’re mentors each in their own way, stretching me intellectually & spiritually.  So when one of them suggested that each of us make a Truth Box,  stirring creativity into the soup with our intellects & spirits, I was intrigued.  I never heard of a Truth Box before.  Ellen explained that it is a shoebox decorated by the owner to symbolize her truth about herself, using whatever materials inspire her.  Then, each other member of our clan will contribute a small object to place in the box, the “truth” about the receiver as the giver sees it.

For example, one woman selected aromatherapy candles for each of us based on traits she saw in us.  Her vision of me was revealed in the name of the fragrant purple candle I received– Creativity.

This bitterly cold January day is the perfect opportunity to go within… deep into the womb of my home (my art studio)… and deep within myself to reflect on what each friend means to me.  I began with a meditation on an individual, focusing on her name & image in my mind.  Thus inspired, I selected imagery, textiles, & patterns to represent the “truth” from the rich variety of materials I’ve collected over the years.    Intuition reigned during this part of the process.  Once materials were chosen, I let intellect rule so I could make decisions about composition & edit the materials that didn’t resonate as strongly as others.  At first, I considered this activity a balancing act between the aspects of self– head, heart, & hands… but upon further reflection, it feels more like being on a child’s swing, flying through the air in a giant arc.  At times reaching high toward spirit then dipping through intellect before swinging to the opposite height where emotions reside.   What started out as an intriguing art activity ultimately became a magical, sacred act, expressing the connection between me & each of the women in my clan.

I know “truth” is multilayered, never complete & ever-revealing…like the wonderful friendships I have with these special women.

The "truth" as I see it in this moment in time.

The “truth” as I see it in this moment in time, or at least… a part of the truth.

Truth Collages 2

A Meditation Buffet

My early perception of meditation was that I had to sit still, be quiet, & clear the mind of all thoughts.  I tried.  I tried often over the years but each time, I got discouraged, believing that “I wasn’t doing it right.”  I’ve since redefined meditation for myself.  Meditation is about listening, taking the time to focus on my own well-being & need for a bit more tranquility in my life.  It doesn’t necessarily require sitting in silence on a cushion, although that method works well for many people.  Instead, it might be a method that incorporates chanting or walking as a way to focus the attention.

I recently offered an evening session called “The Meditation Buffet” for curious women open to exploring different meditative techniques.  Just like some of us recharge our mental/emotional batteries by being alone while others get energy from being in a group, we have different spiritual needs as well.  Some people need singing, dancing, & movement while others need contemplative, serene spiritual experiences.  It’s not surprising that we are different in the way we meditate, too.

The Meditation Buffet came out of conversations with friends & a few co-workers.  Most either had no meditative practice or if they did, it was infrequent.  Why?  Three statements frequently come up…

“I don’t have enough time.”

“I can’t sit still for that long.”

“I can’t clear my mind of thoughts.”

 I designed The Meditation Buffet to address those three concerns & offer possible solutions to busy women who may not have the time to explore these techniques in-depth.  (Like a quick taste of an unfamiliar food on a buffet table, a 15-minute introduction to a meditative technique is sufficient to determine whether or not it suits your personality & lifestyle.  Let’s face it, you know when something’s right & when it’s not if you let your intuition guide you.)

“I don’t have enough  time.” With full-time jobs, kids, errands, & other obligations, the time to care for our whole self- physical, mental, spiritual, & emotional- slips to the bottom of the list of priorities.  Everyone & everything else comes first.  Eventually, this catches up with us in the forms of anxiety, sleeplessness, & illness.  We can’t continue to give when we have nothing left to give.  Meditation gives us an opportunity to center ourselves & find peace among the chaos.  When I was a girl, I had a friend who came from a large family.  The only time she could study quietly was in the bathroom.  She’d lock the door then climb into the dry bathtub, shutting out the world with a shower curtain.  You might be laughing but for some people, that’s a possible solution for a bit of privacy.  So, before you say you don’t have time to meditate, get creative.  Think outside the box.  Maybe you need to think inside the bathtub!  This is the hardest excuse to overcome because it means making a commitment to yourself.  It means saying “I’m worth it” and following through regularly.

“I can’t sit still for that long.”  In the workshop, we tried a couple of techniques described in John Hudson’s book Meditation: Simple Steps to Peace, Well-Being, & Contentment  and a few that I learned from other sources, including a beautifully serene walking meditation I first practiced at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.  A participant in the group introduced the rest of us to Birds’ Nest Meditation, which required us to sit in nature, as if in a nest, & heighten our awareness of the world around us.  I found this grounded me & brought a sense of peace from being fully present in the moment.  I recommend Hudson’s book for it has “everyday techniques accessible to everyone” on topics such as postures, mantras, & visualizations.  It’s definitely worth reading if you are new to meditation or still searching for a method that works for you.

“I can’t clear my mind.”  That’s perfectly natural.  I’m not aware of anyone on the planet who is able to free their mind of every thought every time they meditate.  Sometimes, the best we can do is respectfully recognize that we have a lot on our minds & with loving kindness toward ourselves, let each thought drift away like a colorful sailboat on the river of our consciousness.  Acknowledge the thoughts & let them flow.  Do this over & over if you have to, breathing deeply each time you notice another thought trying to distract you from the process.  Do the best you can with this & let that be good enough.  You will improve with practice.

I’m far from perfect when it comes to meditating regularly.  I, too, use excuses when it “doesn’t suit me”; however, I fully admit that I feel out of alignment with my higher self when I neglect my need for solitude & peace.  I’m writing from a place of knowing.

The Four Agreements

Just a quick, rainy day, mixed-media piece based on Don Miguel Ruiz’ book, The Four Agreements.  While the book is short enough to read on a gray afternoon, its message will resonate with you & gain meaning the more you ponder it.

Four Agreements

Ribbon, paint pen, ink, & gold leafing on papyrus.