At the end of July I went to Kripalu in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to see author and world renowned life coach, Martha Beck. This was the first trip I planned all by myself since I was 26 and cashed in all my airline miles to fly out to Northern California and visit my uncle before he passed away. I think it's safe to say that I was overdue. The weekend was based mainly on her book Finding Your Way In A Wild New World and it was incredible!
On the last day Martha taught us a technique to interpret our dreams. In this technique you "become" an object in your dream and describe it, then ask what is it's message for you. I do not tend to be a big dream person, but it must have sunk into my brain because I have been having much more vivid dreams since I returned. A few nights ago a bag of delicious, fluffy hamburger buns appeared in my dream which was perfect since we had needed them at dinner the night before. So, the bag of hamburger buns were stuck in my mind and I decided to go all Martha on those buns. I imagined I was the buns. I imagined going deep into the bag of buns, "I am soft and deep. I am plentiful and perfect. I am abundant. I serve a purpose in a luxurious and enjoyable way." According to Martha I have actually been describing myself by becoming the buns. The idea is that what we see in others we have inside of ourselves, so I am recognizing in the buns all of these aspects of myself. Awesome!
What do I, the hamburger buns, have to tell Heather the dreamer of the buns? "You have everything you need and more and it is here for you not just to get by but to savor and enjoy!"
Excellent, right? While I was having this great epiphany I was driving into the crowded parking lot at the grocery store. "Everything I need is here for me" I repeat to myself. Yep, up front parking space opens just as I pull up. I go into the store and it is jammed. I am on sensory overload as I have just come out of this meditative wide open place into this congested busy one. I literally feel that I am being stalked by carriages and start to scurry down the aisle. I am crawling out of my skin with the feeling of this carriage chasing right behind me. Finally I turn to see who it could be. I start to laugh out loud because I am literally being chased by a carriage FULL OF HAMBURGER BUNS!
I let the grocery store employee pass me by with the buns and I follow them to the bakery. I needed to find the bread and this need was met in an enjoyable way. Thank you Hamburger Buns!
I often speak of the power of just one word to create an effortless shift in your energy. It distills language down from ideas and conversations, past beliefs and thoughts, to the simple act of sound and repetition. Why this works is a little bit beyond me. I have my theories… but truthfully it doesn’t matter. It is simply a powerful tool to have in your “Creating Change Toolbox”.
I have avoided a formal Mantra practice for a long time because it felt stressful to me. I would stress about remembering the mantra properly and choosing the right one. Is it okay to just make up my own or should I memorize a tried and true classic? It always became too much struggle which defeated the purpose of the meditation. One word mantras, I realized recently that is what I had created for myself. By repeating inside of my head a desired feeling or state I am able to call it into being in my body. Repeating “peace” will eventually bring peace and repeating “love” will grow feelings of love and appreciation.
I am adding to my mantra practice now by starting with one word and growing it into a power statement, an incantation of intent. For example, let’s say I am having one of those days where everything seems booby trapped and determined to drive me out of my tree. I can recognize my experience in the moment, and choose something different. Maybe I would choose “joy”. My mantra would go something like this:
I experience joy profoundly,
I allow joy to find me,
I trust that joy lives inside of me,
I am the joy that I seek outside of myself,
I participate in the creation of joy in the Universe,
I trust in joy to guide me,
Joy surrounds me in surprising and exhilarating ways
I wholeheartedly (and Joyfully 😉 encourage you to craft a mantra practice that serves you. It creates space between you and the obsessive thoughts that inevitably create the poop storms of life. We can all use a break in those clouds!!!
Allowing sounds so easy when you say it. “Me, worried? No, I am allowing the best possible outcome to unfold in this delicate, urgent, seemingly desperate situation.” Allowing is deceptively difficult because it involves a whole lot of NOT doing. Just thinking about NOT doing makes me start to feel like I need to make a list of all the things I will not do so I can remember to not do them… repeatedly.
Why? We all know at some level of our consciousness that our lives can flip in a moment. Accidents happen, diagnoses happen, wrinkles happen, crazy unexpected stuff happens and yet we grip with every ounce of ourselves to our belief that we know not only what is best for ourselves but also how to make it appear in our lives. We rarely stop to allow the idea that what we can imagine for ourselves as the best possible outcome is completely limited by just that, what we can imagine. For example, if we are absorbed by thoughts of how great it would be if we were able to just zip into the Quickie Mart for that over priced gallon of milk without a horrendously long line, we may just step over a winning scratch ticket that blows past our feet as we rush in the door. I recently read about an “Optimism” study in which researchers placed a small amount of money ($1 to $5) on the floor in the hall outside their interview room. The study participants would pass through the hall alone before entering the interview room. The researchers found that the optimistic individuals were much more likely to enter the room in a happy mood waving the money and explaining how they had just found it in the hall. The less optimistic participants were likely to walk right past the money without ever having seen it.
When we get ourselves into a space of allowing it doesn’t mean we give up or stop going to work or start eating ice cream until the money truck shows up. It means we consciously choose to be open to unexpected answers and solutions. In order to allow in this way, we must accept that we matter. Implicit in this belief system is the knowledge that a power greater than ourselves loves us enough to allow us to experience the life of our choosing. Why not respectfully request from life the found money kind of miracles that appear effortlessly? Then sit back and allow- make a list if you have to!
Lives have themes. Recurrent experiences that appear in one form or another throughout our existence. These themes weave themselves intricately into all parts of our existence and all phases of our lives. Who knows how and why we choose these themes for ourselves. Do we pick them before we come into the physical world as lessons we chose to learn, are they shaped by our family patterns, do we simply act as magnets attracting to us that which we are holding inside? Whatever the reason… there is a reason, a deep gift of levity and magic that is ours when we accept our themes as constructs we have cobbled together. Our themes give us a framework of belief and help us organize our perceptions of the world, they also limit what we allow ourselves to experience by acting as blinders to the infinite universe of Possibilities.
We need do nothing more than notice. Notice how we have a refrain of self doubt or disgust, a refrain of self pity or outrage. Then allow ourselves the luxury of stopping for a moment and asking ourselves, “What would I rather have? What would I have room for in my life if all of my space wasn’t consumed with this?” All it takes is a moment to step out from under your story and allow the magic to drop into your life. What you do with whatever shows up is your business!
I find myself having the same frustrating discussions at work day after day. One of the students I work with tends to get stuck at different points throughout the day. What this child will do is designate something as not fair and then proceed to try and engage in a discussion about this unfair situation… for a long, long time. The rational approach for me to handle this situation is to engage in a discussion, explaining the reasons behind the decision or the rule, i.e. “No peanuts at the peanut free table because it is unsafe for the children with allergies”, and be done with the discussion. The difficulty is that this student is not actually interested in reason or rational discussion. This kid wants what this kid wants and is willing to talk to you until your ears bleed to get it. The other day I tried a new approach and got surprising results.
Rather than trying to convince my student that I was right, I threw it in Reverse and started offering up loads of reasons in favor of this kid’s opinion. “You are so right! It is an outrage that other kids can sit at your desk when you are not there. It is your private space! They could touch your stuff and that would be a violation. I would feel like knocking somebody out too.” I piled it on real thick and encouraged him to do the same. We determined that the rule was stupid, grown ups do stupid things, kids do stupid things, people should just listen to and respect what this child decides to is right, and on and on. It was all very dramatic with throwing our arms around and bouncing our fists off of the desks. Laughter too, in the midst of these deep and overwhelming feelings, we had a few belly laughs too. Every time my student tried to redirect the conversation back into an argument by getting me to defend the rules- I kept it firmly in Reverse. I whole heartedly told this student to trust their feelings and not go along with anything other than what they felt was right and important. After about 5 minutes my student basically gave up on arguing with me, (most likely writing me off as some kind of nutball), and deciding it was way easier to just do the classwork than to expend any more energy on being right.
We are all like this student when we make broad proclamations about right and wrong or the way things are vs how they should be. We make these statements based upon our beliefs which are based on our own skewed interpretation of reality. I am trying this approach on myself now. When I start to get steamed up by a belief that something is unfair or wrong, I just throw it in Reverse and I immediately start to feel better. For example, “I never have time for myself” becomes, “I always have time for myself.” It feels unnatural at first, like I am trying to swallow a lie. I just continue to repeat it to myself, “I always have time for myself.” as I am faced with books I have been wanting to read, projects not yet begun or never completed, and piles of unfolded laundry. Magically my brain starts to find validation for my new thought. Suddenly I see possibilities where before there were none. Voila!
Our thoughts become our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality. Our reality is expressed in our words. We don’t have to believe these words, these in Reverse statements for them to work. We just need to begin to say them and our mind will do the rest of the work for us.
We all have the parts of our lives that we wish were different. For many of us it is our weight, but it could be career, relationships, finances, or maybe all of the above. The fly in the ointment is that the more we fight to change these parts of our lives, the more we engage in a tug of war with ourselves. I know, for myself, the moment I decide I am going on a diet, I become ravenously hungry. The longer I punish myself with memories of talk show hosts holding up lumpy, gelatinous replicas of what “five pounds of fat” looks like, and feelings of defeat and loathing while bathing suit shopping… the more I EAT!! What if there was a way to drop the rope and walk away from this endless tug of war that is draining our energy, focus and self-esteem?
We can give ourselves permission to have things in our life that we wish were different. End of story. We can do that. We can decide that, yes, I can’t stand my relationship with my mother-in-law. We don’t have to like or be happy about the ways things are, but we can come to a place of acceptance. “Yes, I deeply, truly, desperately wish I was 20 pounds lighter.” Then we can begin to back away from the constant berating and anxiety circulating through our mind around this subject. I have heard health coaches who say, “Don’t worry about removing unhealthy foods from your diet. Just keep adding more healthy foods and the unhealthy ones will get edged out over time.” This idea is a beautifully painless way to change any area of your life.
Another approach is to change seemingly random habits or behaviors and trust that the ripples of positive energy will flow into all areas of your life. Here is an example of how this could work. Hilda really wants to begin a workout routine but it has just never come together. She has a gym membership, workout videos and even a treadmill, but she still can’t seem to stick to any kind of regular routine. For a very long time Hilda feels very badly about her inability to stick to a regular exercise routine and believes it shows her lack of motivation and discipline. She often feels guilty and depressed because she feels unable to gain momentum in this area of her life. One day Hilda realizes how good it feels to have a nice clean bathroom. She doesn’t do any back flips or cartwheels, but she is proud of herself for a job well done. She feels important, productive and cared for when she has taken the time to clean this part of her home. Hilda begins to get excited about cleaning her bathroom. She doesn’t have a schedule or anything, she just begins to notice when she has let things go a little too long, and she begins to pay attention to how nice it feels to have a clean bathroom. Now Hilda has the nice clean bathroom and is enjoying it so much she begins to see other parts of her home that could use sprucing up. After she gives the fridge a much-needed scrubbing, the grout on the back splash gets bleached, and then she even cleans out the dryer vent. She’s on a tear! It feels so good to take care of herself and her home. She feels proud of… HERSELF. Now, without struggle and sacrifice she realizes that she has begun to walk more and has been meeting a friend at the gym. She has begun to incorporate exercise into her life because it makes her feel good! You can equate this practice with the person who says, “I don’t know how I quit smoking. I tried a thousand times before and couldn’t do it. This time it just stuck and it wasn’t really hard at all.” The reason it” just stuck” is they had laid the groundwork by effortlessly making changes that empowered and motivated them.
Beginning to incorporate more of what makes us feel good into our lives changes everything about us. It turns our attention from what we “can’t stand” about ourselves or our lives to what makes us feel strong and successful. We will always have parts of our life that, we feel, need work. That is not shameful or embarrassing. That’s life! Accepting who we are is the rock that sends the ripples of change throughout our entire existence. It is the magic that allows us to release our strangle hold on what we believe we need and to begin to relax into the flow of what is possible. Never underestimate the power of the path of least resistance!!
My last class, although a phenomenal and moving experience, was not well attended. The people who did come received amazing gifts of loving messages and healing energies, and after letting some time go by I realize it was a perfect afternoon. The experience I thought I would have was not the one I needed, apparently, and that is okay. It happens. I was feeling like I had stretched SO much by talking to so many people about the event that I would surely have a much bigger turnout. For several days afterwards it really kind of felt like I had been slapped in the face. Rather than being proud of how much I had grown and pushed myself, I was only seeing that one piece of the puzzle.
Does this ever happen to you? You work hard and stretch and push and face your fear with all your might, only to feel like someone snuck up behind you and kicked you right in the can. Well, I can’t tell you why this happens. Maybe there is a different lesson for all of us in this experience depending on where we are in our lives. I can tell you what I took away from the experience.
If I am doing something because of the desired outcome, I am missing out on 99% of the experience.
What I got was a reminder to seek out the happy, feel good places and let the details work themselves out. I got a reminder to lean in to the Universe and trust that the outcome is only part of the journey and, in fact, is yet to be determined. Life keeps pushing back the finish line and giving us more chances to dig deeper, play harder and truly experience being alive. What I got was the gift of learning that I am stronger than disappointment or embarrassment. They can’t hold me back if I don’t let them, and that is the outcome I believe I needed to continue creating the life and career I love.
“If you want something in your life you’ve never had,
You’ll have to do something you’ve never done.”
Trying new things is most often an uncomfortable experience. Some brave, adventurous, and possibly kooky individuals have come to enjoy living in that uncomfortable place. It seems life would be adventurous and exciting if I was happy to live in that often uncomfortable place of the wild unknown. Alas, I am not. I am pretty big on comfortable, known, and expected outcomes. It suits me fine! Thank you very much.
Except, I now am building a career as a healer and teacher. Something I have not done before, and I can feel the uncertainty of it, A LOT! How do you know how to do what you have not done before? I do a lot of the expected, rational things like ask questions of people who have gone before me, read lots of books, try lots of ideas, and do my best to trust my gut. I rely on that last one a lot! I put a lot of stock in how things sit with me, like how I feel when meeting a new person.
In the recent Spring Manifestations class we spent a lot of time getting in touch with what we feel like internally and using that internal state as a guide to what we want to manifest in our lives. We spoke about what happens when what we think we want brings up a fearful reaction in our bodies. How spending some time feeling that fear can help us begin to tease apart anticipatory or unfamiliar feelings of fear vs. a flashing red beacon from the Universe to turn around and look for another path. We also realized how many of us were facing those grown up decisions where there is no “right” answer. The decisions you kind of wish someone else would make for you. How do you know what to choose when everything feels scary or not quite right?
I saw a film called “The Thought Exchange” which so thoroughly examines this dilemma. First of all, a distinction between feelings and sensations is made. Feelings such as happy, sad, or mad are labels we attach to sensations we experience in our bodies. Uncomfortable or painful sensations are so unpleasant that we most often exchange the thoughts that brought them up for ones that make us feel more familiar or comfortable. These uncomfortable sensations almost always show up when we envision for ourselves attaining or creating something new in our lives. For example, “I am creating a financially successful business doing work that I love,” becomes “I will never create a financially successful business doing work that I love.” Why would we make a switch like that? How could it ever feel better to believe this negative thought? Well, if the idea of creating a financially successful business feels new and challenging and scary, maybe even impossible. Then the thought, “I will never create a financially successful business” feels much safer and less overwhelming. In this way we unconsciously sell ourselves down the river. Foregoing what we truly desire so we can feel comfortable, even when what feels comfortable doesn’t feel good.
If we can, moment by moment, feel the sensations and do it anyway, that is how we cross the bridge from where we are to where we want to be. Sit with the uncomfortable sensations without needing to attach labels or thoughts to them. If you absolutely have to you can make up new labels that serve you better. Instead of sick with anxiety, how about giddy with anticipation?
There is a cute example of an exercise people try at the Thought Exchange workshops. Someone pretends to be working behind the counter at the Thought Exchange Department Store. Another participant is encouraged to approach the counter and exchange a thought. In this example, the customer comes up to the counter and says, “Hello, I would like to exchange the thought, ‘I’m a piece of crap’.” The woman behind the counter says, “Yes, okay and what would you like to exchange it for?” The customer says, “I would like to try ‘I am an amazing person with limitless potential’.” The woman behind the counter says, “Yes, no problem. Here you are” and pretends to take one box away and replace it with another. The customer walks out with the thought, “I am an amazing person with limitless potential.” I encourage you to play with this exercise next time you are thinking that something is impossible or never going to happen. Sit with a different thought for a moment and see if the sensations you experience in your body change. This has been a fun way for me to begin noticing the difference between something that truly “Doesn’t feel right” and something that just feels uncomfortable or intimidating because I haven’t done it before.
In our recent class, “Harnessing The Power of Energy Healing”, we talked a bit about Dr. Emoto and his water experiments. Many of you are probably familiar with his work. He has studied the effects of words, music and prayer on the formation of crystals in water. His work is truly fascinating and you can’t help but pause and think that if just taping the word “Hate” to a glass of water can cause all kinds of weird, irregular and ugly changes to its molecular structure what will thinking hateful and bitter thoughts do to my own body which is somewhere around 80% water. Conversely, water with words such as “Love” and “Joy” support the formation of beautiful and symmetrical crystals. How must those types of thoughts and actions affect our health?
After the class I was speaking with a woman who was working to find a way to synthesize all of the information we had presented. How could she apply this to her daily life? I suggested that she take a page out of Dr. Emoto’s book and begin with a word. I have done this myself and found it to be an effortless way to create change in a stuck situation. What you do is when you find yourself in a seemingly intractable situation and you cannot think of a way to get through it, just pick a word that matches what you would rather be feeling. For example, you are arguing with your kids again and feeling like they will never listen and respect your rules. Why not choose “Respect” or “Peace”. Maybe you are one of the millions, maybe even billions, of people who spend a lot of time feeling like there is not enough time and money for you to do or have what you want. Next time you catch yourself in that space, try repeating “Abundance” or “Plenty”. You don’t have to do anything more than that to begin to shift how you are feeling about the situation.
I am not sure how or why this works. I just know that it does. I have used it in my own life on countless occasions and it can change my mood almost instantly. Over time I often find that I have begun repeating the thoughts that drop me back to the original level of frustration, fear or sadness and that is okay. I just start repeating my word again until I feel the shift. I saw a cute quote recently that puts a fun spin on this idea,
Words Have Power.
That Is Why It Is Called
I invite you to try this next time you are feeling stuck in the quagmire of life. Then shoot me a comment and let me know how it went.
I find myself so often putting off making change in any area of my life because I am intent on getting things “under control”. I can remember a span of about a year and a half that started with the unexpected and sudden death of my father, which led to my subsequent decision to step away from the graduate program I was meant to start a week later and open a handcraft gallery instead. A few months later I was married and several months after that I lost my my uncle, who on my wedding day just a few months earlier had said to me, “Now that your father is gone I want you to think of me like your father. I want to be here for you.” During this time I can clearly remember feeling disbelief and even rage at the world around me. Why couldn’t everyone just hold still for a few freakin minutes so I could catch my breath?
As many of you who have read my blog for the last year and a half are aware there have changes underfoot with my job. In typical fashion I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for confirmation in regards to what that job is going to become before making plans with the work I truly want to be doing. Tomorrow morning I go in again for yet another meeting. It seems this just has to be the meeting when I find out for sure if I have a job, will I be working part time or full time, and will it be something I even want to do. No matter the answers I get tomorrow, I know this job is not where I truly want to be. It is not the work I feel calling out to me. It is not the work I wake up excited to learn about and practice. It is not the work that makes me feel that I am using all the gifts I have been given. That work has been sitting on the shelf, waiting in limbo to find out, “When will it be the right time to begin?”
As I have prepared myself mentally for all of the presumed possibilities of what may come tomorrow, a small voice has begun to creep closer and closer. I realize it is asking me a question, “Why do you keep waiting?”
I was reading a book by Rich German recently in which he suggests imagining all of the things you are juggling in your life as rubber balls. Out of all those pick 3 to 5 that are the most important to you. He suggests you imagine these as being your crystal balls. The rubber ones you can take your eye off of from time to time if you have to. You may not want to drop them, but they will bounce back if you do. You must always keep your crystal balls in focus because they will be damaged or destroyed if you allow them to drop. These are the things in your life that are too precious to allow them to be damaged. This last year and a half of waiting has got me wondering if I have chosen wisely my crystal balls.
I am very proud and happy to say that I have taken some steps to move forward in creating my career. I am moving the Life and Friendship classes to the Self Center in Winchester, MA. This location gives me many advantages and feels like a big step forward. I will also be partnering with Wendy Carlson in teaching some upcoming classes. She is starting a similar healing and teaching business and it feels great to have some company. I have added a bunch of Upcoming Events and I am so looking forward to meeting a lot of new people. If you do not live in the Boston area but are interested in learning more please sign up for my monthly newsletter or call/email me to schedule a Free 20 Minute Session. You will get a feel for the work we can do together and if it feels like a good fit for you. 781~367~5751 or email@example.com