My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Category Archives: gratitude

Punctured!

puncturedOn 9/9, the day before my 38th birthday, I started to see a new friend / connection for acupuncture treatments. I was going through a bout of insomnia and experiencing (again – *sigh*) a surge of mysterious twitches and pulsations in muscles around my body. I chose to start treatments on 9/9 for two reasons: 1) to me, the date represented balance and alignment and 2) my intention was to start my 38th year with balanced energy, in energetic alignment.

After I scheduled my first appointment, I heard a little voice in my head, a voice that is very likely my voice of intuition, tell me that these treatments were going to provide holistic healing and more specifically, an opportunity to heal a little wound I have with this friend.

Visit 5 – there I am on the table, face down, needles in my back, body literally punctured. My acupuncture guy steps back into the room minutes after pushing firmly on tender spots around my shoulder blades and gently inserting needles into those same tender places. He tells me he just had an intuition hit, that right now is not the time to start a specific aspect of treatment as discussed and planned. The energy inside and around me immediately started to shift, feeling very heavy and thick. My little wound had just been punctured.

When I got home later that evening it hit me. I had a simultaneous flash of insight and an intense somatic knowing as I connected the surface wound to the original core wound and the series of wounds that came in between. As it hit me, the grief rose from the depths of my core and came out in sobs. By putting needles in tender, vulnerable spots in my body and inadvertently pricking the surface wound by sharing his intuition hit, my acupuncture guy released the energy block sitting on top of these wounds, creating an opening for an up chuck of grief.

The wound that was punctured is the wound of no choice. It was not my choice for my 10 year relationship to end. It was not my choice, just one year after my relationship ended, for ties to be severed with my best friend of 15 years. It was not my choice for a new romantic relationship to not be given space and time to blossom into the relationship I so wanted it to become; and in addition to that, to be bewildered, frustrated, and hurt that he moved away / “ran away” without communicating.

In each of these experiences, I had no choice; I had no sense of power. The “termination” of each of these relationships was decided for me, I was “abandoned,” and I had to live with ensuing pain and grief created by the choices made by the other person. And with my acupuncture guy, he had also made a choice that was not my choice in our history and here again in the clinical setting. That’s the thing with wounding, the heart recognizes the likeness and feels the prick, the stab, the pain.

Sure, it was painful for me that night of the up chuck of grief to connect with the core wound, to see a pattern of wounding in my life, but it is such a blessing and a gift to release deep grief still trapped in my body and my being. I knew there was potential for holistic healing with my acupuncture guy, but this release far exceeded anything I had envisioned. I feel strongly that this release occurred because of our history and though there is a tiny wound there, the wound is a gift that continues to inspire healing, continues to challenge me to work through the pain and patterns of my own wounding.

I need more healing around my little surface wound, but I am so grateful for the emotional healing of my deeper wounds, so grateful for the safety and trust we have cultivated together that is allowing for deeper healing. And my intuition tells me there is a divine intelligence guiding this process, creating little places of friction and pricking at the surface to get at what’s deeper underneath.

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Visioning the Future

I am sitting in my office having my Monday morning cup of coffee and two apple-carrot-bran muffins that I made over the weekend.  The sun is filtering through colorful fall leaves and shining through the window.  I glance at my calendar – October 14, 2017.   Today is the official publication date for my collection of personal essays.  Hooray!  I am filled with gratitude and joy as I reflect back on the last few very rich and nourishing years of my life.

I finished my master’s degree in counseling at the end of 2016.  At the start of this year, I started a therapy practice with my friend and colleague, Jo.  I met Jo through NVC (non-violent communication) and we went through the master’s program together.  We co-facilitate a grief group.  We also co-facilitate a community group for those who long to deepen connection with others.  We model this group after the NVC learning community led by our revered mentor and teacher, Karl.  I also meet one on one with clients who are going through life transitions, who are healing from emotional trauma and childhood wounds, and families who are working through discord.  I am so grateful to have a partner in this work and the support of many dear friends.

I received my yoga teacher certification at the end of 2014.  I was invited by my friend and peer, Erin, to teach classes at Awakened Heart Yoga.  I have taught weekly yoga classes for nearly three years now.  My favorite class to teach is a youth yoga class.  I also teach free youth yoga classes at community centers around Seattle.  I LOVE teaching youth – I am so passionate about inspiring youth to discover their power and access their well of strength.

As I gaze out the window on the sun filled landscape, my mind travels to the sunny island paradise of Maui where, along with dear friends and fellow yoga teachers, I have co-hosted three New Year’s yoga retreats.  Maui is such a magical place.  Each New Year we dance under rainbows, we swim in the sacred waters of the re-birthing pools, we moonbathe on the beach, we practice yoga in an open air pavilion, we meditate under a wise looking banyan tree.  I send yet another thank you note via cosmic messenger to my beautiful friend Jessica for co-hosting with me that first year.  We were so blessed by the outpouring of support from our community of friends and many of our dearest friends retreated with us.

I remain grateful for the cosmic unfolding that led me to my first retreat in Maui where, for the 2014 New Year I reconnected with the beautiful Shayna, a dear soul I met in Costa Rica during my 2012 New Year’s retreat.  For seven years now a New Year’s yoga retreat has been a yearly tradition that grew out of my new life.  You see, I had been in a long term committed relationship for nearly 10 years that ended in a giant “ka-boom” in 2009.  I was devastated, hurt to my very core.  Creating new traditions was an important part of my healing.

At my first New Year’s retreat in 2011 (also in Costa Rica), I discovered a new family, my yoga family.  At this retreat and so many others, I have made a network of friends and some of my most cherished friendships.  I also discovered how meaningful it is to start the year with intention, to plant seeds for qualities I wish to cultivate in my life, to plant seeds for things I long for and desire to grow in my life.  Each year I come away with momentum that moves me forward along my path.  Each year I see flowers blossom and fruit bearing trees sprout up from the seeds I plant in my heart.

I remember New Year’s Day, 2014.  I planted a seed under the new moon for the family I longed for in my life.  At 37, I had a strong desire and calling to be a mom, to create life with someone I loved, and to share the joy of raising a little being together.  At the time I didn’t know what would happen, I didn’t know when someone who wore sturdy shoes, who gazed at the new moon, and who had an open heart would skip into my life.  But he did.  He showed up in my life and he gave me the powerful gift of his presence.  Remembering the moment he skipped into my life brings a smile to my face and my heart fills with warmth as I hold him in my awareness.  I feel love permeate my being.  We had small ceremony in the woods.  My sweet friend Katy wrote and read a poem.   I remember so very clearly these words:  “such bravery to hold out your hand to another person, one Life Line traced by another.”

I feel a kick that brings me out of my reverie and back to the present moment.  I put my hand on my belly and feel the movement inside.   I am pregnant.  In just a few short months, I will give birth to a little bundle of joy, a bundle that I have a feeling is going to crack my heart wide open and out will pour love. I wonder if this baby will be a New Year’s baby.  What a lovely thought.  I will have to wait and see how the stars in the sky line up.  However the stars line up, I already know I am incredibly blessed.

Light Contemplation

candle light

I continue to contemplate light and my inner light.  I hold the image of light in my awareness throughout each day.

I began contemplating light after darkness crept into my inner landscape.  In the darkness I felt an “I give up feeling” and the scary thought “what’s the point?” began to form in my mind.  Fortunately I found a spark of hope and was able to rekindle the light within.  The images of gathering wood for an inner fire came to me as darkness permeated my inner landscape; I was able to rekindle my flame of hope as I gathered this wood, kindling, from my depths.  From that spark of insight, the idea of rekindling the flame within, contemplation of my inner light emerged.  The notion of my inner fire became the inspiration for my last blog post, “Discovering Light in the Dark.”

As part of my contemplation on light, I began a new ritual:  I light a candle every night.  For a minute or so after I light each candle I study the flame, I become curious.  I look into the flame and marvel at its color – the gold, the blue, the purple “hallow” at the tip of the thread.  I notice the shape of the flame – its soft edges, its height, its crest.  I watch the steady flame or if there is movement in the air that disturbs the flame, I watch the flame flicker and dance, swaying side to side, bouncing in all directions.

I stay with the dancing flame until it becomes steady and still again.  I note to myself that the light always seeks to steady itself, to come back to the center, to find a place of tranquility.  I contemplate how this tranquil light is a great metaphor.  The light models a state of being I can cultivate in my life:  tranquility, inner stillness, free from agitation of mind or spirit.

I put my hands over the flame and feel its warmth and its heat.  With my inner sense, my heart sense, I feel gratitude for this radiating light, for this glowing and shining light.  I feel gratitude that because of this light I can see in the dark, both literally and figuratively.  I feel gratitude for all that this light is teaching me.  I feel grateful that the light is shining on my path of discovery.

Sometimes my practice and ritual of lighting a candle is a symbolic gesture.  I place an intention on the light, an intention I want to manifest in my life, such as tranquility.  The light represents that intention, it radiates the intention, it sends out the light of that intention.

Sometimes lighting the candle is a hopeful gesture.  The light becomes the flame of a hope, wish, or desire I have in my life.  The intent behind this action is to keep the fire burning around this hope, wish, or desire instead of letting the fire die out.

Other times my practice of lighting the candle serves as a reminder of my inner light.  I hold the light in my hands with reverence, holding this light as if it is a delicate flower or a newborn baby.  This light, my light, is precious and sacred.  In these reverent moments I recite Pantajali’s Yoga Sutra I.36 “visoka va jyotishmati,” which translates into English as “the light within is free from all sorrow and suffering.”

I leave you with this ray of light:

“Be a light unto yourself . . . Hold fast to the Truth.”

The Buddha’s final words

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I want to say a special thank you to my friend Katy who is a source of inspiration in my life.  Katy is steady like the light, unwavering in her friendship to me.  In times of my sorrow or grief or when my hope is fading, Katy lights a candle for me and sends light and healing and hopeful vibrations out into the Universe.  Love and light to you!! <3

Staying Present in Switzerland

When I was planning my visit to Switzerland, I had visions of cloudless blue skies, wildflowers carpeting the valleys and hillsides, vistas of the Swiss Alps.

I traveled to Switzerland after spending just over one week in warm, sunny, and dry Provence, France, which to me was divine.  I enjoyed a picturesque train ride showcasing the many peaks and green valleys and hillsides of Switzerland.  The closer I got to my destination, the darker and more ominous the skies above.

When I stepped off the cable car in Gimmelwald, the air was warm, but it was overcast and the mountain peaks were obscured.  The friendly Barnaby from England checked me in to Pension Gimmelwald and I remember asking him, “is the weather usually like this?”  He said, “yesterday, we were melting up here.”  I prodded, “do the clouds usually clear?”  I don’t remember his answer or if he had one, but that evening it did clear up, which was very exciting to me.

Gimmelwald – after the clearing

When I went to bed, the skies were clear.  A waxing and almost full moon rose just over the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.  Sometime around 5:00 am I woke to the sounds of booming thunder and pouring rain.  I slept a few more hours, hoping it might clear.

The weather was ok after breakfast – cloudy, but not ominous; decent enough visibility so I could see across the valley and make out some rugged formations below the cloud ceiling.  I enjoyed a cloudy, yet thankfully rain free, hike from Gimmelwald to Chilchbalm, a dramatic glacier bowl.  The clouds started to stir and at one point, the clouds lifted just enough so I could momentarily begin to make out the peaks above the glacier bowl.  As I headed back, it started to sprinkle.  During lunch the rain set in.  I stayed inside the rest of the day.

As expected, according to the weather forecast from the friendly pension staff, things were still gloomy the next day.  My trusty travel guide writer, Rick Steves, recommended if it were a cloudy day, to head down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to take in all the waterfalls.  I did just that.  I call this valley the Yosemite of Switzerland.  It is a giant U-shaped valley carved out by a massive glacier during one of the ice ages and a multitude of waterfalls cascade down the valley walls.

Clouds hugged the valley walls, but the scenery was still very majestic.  I was aware that I felt disappointment that the scenery was obscured by the clouds, but I paused and mindfully chose to stay present, to allow my experience to be moment by moment and let got of expectation.

present moment: finding a 4 leaf clover

I felt a sense of gratitude that I had a mindfulness practice that enabled me to be with and embrace what is, to more deeply appreciate the beauty of each moment.  As I made my way down the valley, the clouds grew darker and started to express themselves:  rain.

Later that afternoon the weather shifted:  the clouds broke, the vast blue sky emerged, and the radiant sun dried things out.  Of all my moments in Switzerland, this may have been my hallelujah moment.  I was sitting under cover of the eave of the town church when the sun broke through the clouds.

hallelujah! here comes the light

I bolted out into the light.  As I took in and was warmed by the bright light filling the valley, I could practically hear angels singing “hallelujah” from the heavens.

hallelujah moment – Lauterbrunnen Valley

In a moment of inspiration, I took a cable car up to the west rim of the valley for a gentle hike back to Gimmelwald.  Though still somewhat obstructed by clouds, the views of the mountain peaks across the valley were exciting and energizing.  But…it didn’t last.  About 20 minutes into my 1.5 hour hike, the clouds closed up and drew in and it started to rain.

As I walked with my head down, eyes focused on the path that I strained to make out in the dense clouds, a voice from my past played in my mind, “I’ll never be good enough for you.”  I knew this voice.  I remembered when these words were spoken to me.  This was one of the many incredibly hurtful things said to me by “my person” at the end of our relationship, when he finally, after 10 years, decided to “get real.”  Something about being in less than perfect conditions, on a vacation dreamt up from hope and expectation, brought this memory from the deep recesses of my mind.

After I got back to Seattle and my mind cleared and I transitioned out of travel mode, I was able to take a closer look at this moment and dig deeper into the issue that surfaced:  perfection.  I was triggered by a less than perfect, less than ideal situation which brought up a memory of a time where the words spoken made me feel that anything that is less than perfect is not good enough for me.  I am sensitive to this notion of “perfection” because I have high standards and strive for excellence and have a tendency to influence outcomes instead of letting things emerge.

Even though I had enough presence of mind and spirit to recognize I was in less than ideal weather conditions and instead chose to practice mindfulness, I clearly was not immune to the “imperfections” of wet, gloomy weather and cloudy skies when my heart desired sweeping vistas and hallelujah moments.

I think everyone can identify things in their lives that they want to be perfect:  a new purchase, a dinner prepared for special guests, our hair for a special occasion, the family holiday photo, a party that we host, the restaurant chosen for our birthday dinner, the colors we are painting in our new house, the weather on a special day, our vacation.  Where does our need, or more specifically our propensity, for perfection come from?  Some of it is rooted in a desire for excellence.  This can be a positive thing.  It keeps us striving to do better, to improve, to grow.  Some of our desire for perfection is fed by the idealism created through culture and media.  This can set us up for disappoint.

Much of our compulsion toward perfection comes from a place of inflexibility within us.  We have a tendency to hold on to an ideal or expectation and have an inability or a difficult time letting go and adapting to unforeseen or unimagined circumstances, to unexpected outcomes.  We have a difficult time accepting and feeling contented with things just as they are and this leaves us feeling let down, disappointed, disgruntled.  We see what is not perfect.   We do not feel happy or content with what is.

I pondered this:  Why is it that some people see more perfection and beauty and some people see more imperfection or flaws?  I believe that the lens through which we see and experience the world is shaped by our life experiences, by how light or heavy those experiences.  If we had loving, nurturing parents and a childhood of stability, we probably see our experiences through a brighter lens.  If we had a tumultuous childhood filled with strife and instability, we probably see the world through a darker lens.  Our experiences shape our pattern of thinking.  I believe this “not good enough” mentality is rooted in hard wired negative thoughts patterns which develop during difficult times or unhealthy situations or relationships.  Without the ability or mindfulness it takes to begin to rewire our thought patterns (our neural pathways) and let more light and beauty filter in through our lens, we get stuck seeing imperfection where in fact so much perfection exists.

As one who has lived through heavy and painful experiences and had a very tumultuous childhood, I know how hard it can be to let the light come in, to see the vast beauty and perfection that surrounds us.  How do we do it?  We cultivate.  We get out our gardening tools and plant seeds. We plant gratitude, peace, love.  We nurture new growth.  We begin to see the blossoms of contentment, happiness, joy emerge in our lives and fill our being.  We become less rigid and more flexible.  We soften.  We begin to feel and see the love and beauty that exist all around us and in us all the time.

What is perhaps most illuminating about my hallelujah moment, when I stepped out from under the eave of the church in Switzerland, is that the Universe gave me this very important message:  come out of the darkness and into the light; let the light fill your heart and warm your spirit, allow yourself to feel love, allow yourself to be love and you will see clearly and without obstruction, the infinite beauty that surrounds you in all its perfection.

PRESENT MOMENTS

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A Change in Perspective

Before I moved to Seattle nine years ago, I lived in Montana for a year.  I came out to Seattle for a visit on a gorgeous and summery weekend in early June.  Some good friends of mine took me out sailing on their boat in Elliot Bay and I remember looking back on the city and feeling overwhelmed by the size of it, by the expanse of buildings.  All I saw were buildings and houses from one end of the horizon to the other.  The city looked so dense and it felt dense as I rode the bus through the urban neighborhoods of northwest Seattle, the same area of the city I live today.

After a year in Montana, where the sky is big, the landscapes wild, where every resident lives face to face with the wilderness even in the middle of a “city,” I was experiencing a bit of culture shock.  I knew that most likely I was going to be moving to Seattle.  My heart felt a bit squeezed by it.  How would I fare here after living in a place surrounded by wilderness, by beauty and nature, a place I felt so at home?  How would I fare among all the buildings, the urban sprawl, after all those afternoons and evenings spent wandering and exploring the trails in and around my Montana town looking for new vegetation, discovering new wildflowers?

Today I rode my bike across I-5, the interstate that runs from Canada to Mexico through Washington, Oregon, and California.  I-5 runs like an artery through Seattle, but instead of blood, it pumps cars.  As I rode over the pulsation of cars pumping through the city, I took in this place I live – the beautiful skyline of downtown Seattle, nicely contained at a “safe” distance from my northwest neighborhood; the green treetops that fill and color the slopes of Eastlake, one of Seattle’s urban neighborhoods; the expansive and radiant blue sky, brushed and billowing with clouds; farther south I saw the beautiful snow topped Mt. Rainier rising from the blue horizon, standing large and tall.  Sure I saw the buildings and was aware of the traffic beneath me, but what struck me most was an awareness of how majestic and utterly full of nature is this city, this place I call home.

Seattle is truly a dynamic city – we have water, lots of water, both fresh and salty; to the east and to the west we have the rugged mountain ranges of the Cascades and the Olympics; and we have birds, lots of birds, yellow birds, birds that sing beautiful songs, birds with giant wingspans and big white heads, birds that peck wood, birds that look like that image of a stork carrying a baby, known in these parts as a Great Blue Heron (one of these guys called out to me tonight as it stroked over my back yard, so low to the ground that I ducked as I heard and felt it pass over me), and of course, my little friend, the hummingbird.

As I took in the city, I thought of someone dear to my heart, someone who has left this city, maybe temporarily, maybe indefinitely, and I thought, “Seattle misses you.”  But then I paused myself and instead let myself feel and more fully absorb what I was seeing, what I was taking in.  Staying in the present moment. . . it’s not about them, it’s about us; it’s about our moment.  It’s about squeezing every last drop out of each moment life gives us and savoring it, for ourselves.  Staying present, this is how one fosters contentment and gratitude.

Not too long after this shift in my internal dialogue and perception, I drove to yoga class on the very same freeway, the artery I had just ridden over on my bike.  I was approaching the city, taking it in again.  I remembered that moment nine years ago of looking back on the city and seeing nothing but buildings and feeling squeezed by it.  Today it’s a very different feeling when I look out on and navigate through the city, a complete shift and change in perspective.  I felt a little proud of myself for having this moment of insight, for making this connection between then and now, and for recognizing that just like my view and perspective of this city has changed, I had a moment of awareness and was able to successfully, on the spot, in the moment, shift my perception and change my perspective.