The Blessing Tree

Writing out your blessings can be a powerful thing and, for those who are more visually inclined, putting those written blessings on display to view can make the experience even more powerful. Why not add a Blessing Tree to your Blessing Altar?  I used dried magnolia leaves and gift card tags to add written blessings to twigs I got on clearance at Family Dollar.  You could also use sticks and twigs from your yard or a small tree. You could also make your tree a garland instead and string your blessings up to hang on the wall. There are so many options for how you can visually see your written blessings on a daily basis.  Both writing and seeing your blessings cultivate daily gratitude.

And remember, you are writing blessings for all events, circumstances, and people in your life.  Here are some examples of blessings on my tree that show how you can cultivate gratitude in all ways and all things:

  • I am grateful for a low bank account because it teaches me to be financially aware.
  • I am grateful for lack because it teaches me I am not living in my abundance.
  • I am blessed by Mitch because he mirrors what I don’t like in myself.
  • I am grateful for my childhood because through it I learned to overcome and have been able to help others.
  • I am grateful for Crystal because through the ebb and flow of our friendship I have learned I am not in competition with anyone.

 

Use magnolia leaves, or similar, for your longer blessings.

(I use a metallic marker to write blessings)

 

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Use smaller bay leaves to write blessings that you like that can be portrayed in one or two words.

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Use gift tags to add the names of people you’ve been blessed by – remembering that even those we believe have hurt us also brought us blessings. Use the back of the card to write how you were blessed.

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You can also use the tags to write about how certain emotions or behaviors brought you blessings, like looking at how noticing resentments offers you a chance to practice forgiveness and acceptance.

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I will add blessings to my tree throughout the month until I put my Yule tree up. Then, I’ll transfer my Blessing Tree branches and blessings to the Yule tree. 

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More Blessings posts to come – if you want to see these posts in your inbox subscribe!

Taking Responsibility to Awaken

Yesterday I led a beautiful group of people in the Awaken the Goddess workshop at Yoga Fire. This workshop was all about waking up the power we all have within us. One way I helped this group claim their power was by helping them take responsibility for ways they’ve given away their power, or dis-empowered, themselves in the past.  A piece of this experience came to me on the fly as, though my workshops are structured and outlined, I leave space for organic aspects to evolve. Asking each person in the group individually if they were willing to take responsibility for how they’d given away their power in the past, and if they were not only willing to take back their power but also willing to give up the ways in which they had given away their power. It was an aspect of the workshop that set the tone for the rest of the time we had together.

By taking responsibility for our lives we step out of our victim story and stop living in victim consciousness. By doing this, we wake up more and more to our authenticity.  Sometimes the victim story has so much hold on us that even when we believe we’re past it something happens in life and the hurt comes rushing in and we step right back into the story. So how do we get back to truth when we’re struggling in the web of victim?

Remember, we are the weavers of the web but we are also the web. The web is the story – all of our history bound together. But we wove the web, so we can also unbind those aspects that are not true, that hold us back, and that keep us living as the victim.

We are not victims.

We are spiritual warriors.

For me, doing practical work to unbind the false parts of the web helps me the most. There are many ways I do this and I offer them to you as well in hopes that you will find for yourself the miraculous growth that I’ve gotten from doing this type of work.

Radical Forgiveness:  Colin Tipping’s book, Radical Forgiveness, and it’s accompanying worksheets changed by life. When I read the book I had a basic concept of true forgiveness that the teachings in the book helped refine. By living by the principals of Radical Forgiveness and turning to the very user friendly worksheets I have been able to get deep growth and help others.

The Work: The Work of Byron Katie offers a different aspect from Colin Tipping in that it goes more specifically into the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves, others, and life. Her books and worksheets offer me similar growth opportunities as the Radical Forgiveness work. Both philosophies present ways to re-frame a situation in order to get to truth.

The More to Life Weekend: This is where my true growth began. I took this weekend training the first time in 2008 and learned more about myself and how to deal with life than I could have possibly imagined. This training is powerful, intensive, experiential, compassionate, and moving. I’ve retaken this training twice since 2008 in order to recenter and regroup when life handed be some pretty big changes. This training is presented in many states in the US and many countries around the world. In fact, there is a training upcoming in my area in September 2015 about which you can find more information here: MTL Huntsville.

You have the ability to create change in your life. Are you living with resentment, fear, hurt, pain, sorrow, grief? Are you willing to be willing? Are you ready to at least put a toe in the water and take responsibility for your own life in order to create the life you deserve? If so, I deeply encourage you to research any (or all!) of the three options above. I utilize the Radical Forgiveness work, the Work of Byron Katie, and the workable tools and processes I received during the More to Life Weekend in my life daily.  With these tools – I empower myself and wake up to my Truth.

Safe Word: Hourglass

A friend is reading “The Mindful Way Through Depression” and sent me the following email regarding an exercise in the book:

 

“I read this in my book tonight and felt like this was potentially useful.  *Not verbatim*

The Three Minute ‘Time Out’

This is a mindfulness exercise that’s meant to be performed when you’re in the thick of it.  The point is to take the thoughts that are happening right now and steady the mind in order to prevent yourself from getting caught up.  The authors ask us to imagine the idea of an hourglass to describe the process:  we take unfocused thoughts in the first of three steps, focus the mind in step two and then allow it to expand in step 3.

Step 1:  Aware and acknowledge

Become aware of what’s happening and then change your stance.  Sit or stand straight up; close the eyes if you can.  Ask yourself:

What am I thinking?  What are the feelings?  What does my body feel like right now.  There’s no judgment – just statement of experience.

Step 2:  Focus on the breath

Redirect the focus of the mind from the bodily and mental sensations back to the breath.  And .. just experience that in its entirety.  This is where the mind is ‘stilling.’ 

Step 3:  Expansion

Allow the mental focus to move beyond just the breath and stay within the body.  Breath into those places that feel tense or uncomfortable.  This is where we transition back to the rest of the world, finishing our ‘time out.’ “

 

I read this email aloud to my husband and he liked the idea of utilizing the exercise. After we talked I kept having the image of an hourglass and how it could help us with reactivity and communication. I presented my idea to him and he was in fully. I pulled a small timer out of my Boggle box and we were set.

I put the hourglass on the bookshelf in the main room of the house. Any time we’re in the reaction or one of us is reacting to the other our safe word is hourglass. Our commitment is to stop immediately and turn over the hourglass and for that minute we do those three steps. And that no matter what we want to say in that moment – we don’t. We take the time out. And if after the minute we need another – one person will say hourglass again.

 

We’re both committed to living more authentically each day and to being able to communicate effectively, openly, and honestly. It’s difficult to be authentic, effective, open, or honest in the midst of reaction.

Give the Hourglass Challenge a go and see how it works for you. Feel free to let me know how it goes in the comments.

The Love We Deserve

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There is a quote from the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower that was very healing for me. Actually, it was an almost painful awakening that punched me in the gut when I heard it:

 “We accept the love we think we deserve.

 Ah, how true that is. We bring the people and events into our lives that we believe we deserve. And until we believe otherwise, until we explore deeper into self inquiry as to why we believe such things, we will continue to bring in those hurtful and harmful experiences. Why? Because first and foremost the love that we receive from ourselves is the most important.

 “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

 When you look at that quote from the perspective of how we love ourselves then the quote becomes even more powerful.

  You are worthy of love.

So much more than could have been

 

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Team Love Prompt: What does it mean to you to never settle for less than your heart and soul desire?

I am worthy of having my dreams. So are you. Did you know that? You are. But so often I hold myself back by believing I don’t deserve to live an abundant life full of love. Instead I get wrapped up in mindtalk and fear based thinking. I draw people to me who have similar thinking and draw events to me based off that thinking. I look around and wonder – When Do I Get What I Want? When Do I Get What I Deserve!?

Ah, there’s the rub.

Deserve – is a judgement. “What I deserve” is my opinion based off what I believe I’m worth. So if my self-worth is low then what I believe I deserve will, too, be very low. I won’t let myself allow in the abundance of the Universe. I won’t let myself have true happiness and joy. I won’t let myself aspire to reach all of my dreams.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Tuck Everlasting : “Don’t be afraid of death – be afraid of the un-lived life.”

When I hold myself back, when I believe things about myself that aren’t true, when I won’t allow in my abundance, when I won’t allow in love, when I won’t allow myself to reach out and branch out and have everything my heart and soul desire … my life is un-lived. Because in doing all of those things – I am not truly LIVING! Then where will I be down the road? Looking back over a life of could have been? There have been plenty of those already. And though I trust my process, though I trust that life has happened exactly and only has it was meant to – I too trust that my free will means I have a choice. And moving forward I choose to say YES! vehemently to life. I choose to say YES! to whatever life hands me…without judgement…without disappointment…but instead with an open heart full of gratitude for every moment I get to experience.

I am much more afraid of spending my life un-lived than I could ever be afraid of death.

And I am so much more than “could have been.”

Be. Love. Live.

What I Want For You

My blog yesterday offered great growth for me – and the promise of more to come if I am committed. Today, the growth comes in an unexpected way but the Universe can be a subtle thing!

I received an email from Janet Bray Attwood regarding an upcoming 21-Day Meditation on Love Journey. I skimmed through the email and scrolled to the bottom where I saw the most fitting quote:

I want for you… what you want for you.

Well, there’s that. How very simple. Not, I want for you what I think you should do or have. Not, I want for you what I want you to have. Not, I want for you what I want for you. But, I want for you what you want for you. Wanting nothing more than what the person wants for themselves.

What a beautiful idea.

Unconditional love at its best.

Make Your Own Path

I kept thinking about putting an edge in place to “give Mitch (my husband) space” but just that didn’t seem to fit. So I looked at it more and it went beyond Mitch. When I got the email requesting my February intention for the Intentional Prayer Network I sent “I intend to allow others their paths.”

But this morning that didn’t quite seem to fit either. Then it hit me – I’m still making it about something/someone outside of me.

A Growth Edge is something I learned from the More to Life Program. It is an intention you put into place in order to create change in your life. For example, someone who is typically the wallflower might put an edge into place “To Be Seen” then choose to put himself or herself into leadership positions or get on stage and perform, or speak up in a crowd, etc. Growth edges evolve; as you begin to gain the lessons and growth from what you put into place that edge will run it’s course and you put something different in place.

The growth edge I’m putting in place is based off a quote that has been a part of my life in some way for a very long time. – “Make Your Own Path.”

So, my current growth edge is: Make My Own Path

How do I look when I’m not on my own path?
I’m judgmental, critical, and full of expectations on others (and myself). I feel angry. I see what’s “not right” how others “should” be.  I play the victim. I blame others for my lot in life, for where I am, for how my life is. I don’t take responsibility for my choices. I don’t see that life is for me and do not see the big picture. I don’t see the divine plan in it all. I believe that if others would change then I would be ok, better, life would work out better. I’m not accepting or tolerant. I’m demanding and controlling. At times I am even vindictive. I am not focused on my path and my growth. I am focused on the other person’s path and growth. I believe I know better than them and that they should listen to me. I believe that if they would listen to me and fix what I believe they’re doing wrong then my life will be better. When I’m not on my own path I feel more hurt, anger, discontent, unhappy, sad, sorrowful, guilt, fear, anxiety, worry, and shame. When I am not on my own path I am disconnecting even to the point of walling myself up, not allowing others in. I don’t hug or touch as much. I stay to myself, isolate myself even. I withdraw.

How do I look when I’m on my own path?
When I am on my own path I feel free and alive. I am compassionate, empathetic, connecting, loving, and caring. I take responsibility for my life and my path. I trust life, God/the Universe, my Self. I trust that all is happening just as it is meant to and I feel a deep peace with that trust. I feel connected to myself, life, and others. I feel connected to the Oneness of it all. I make conscious choice instead of reacting. I breathe deeper. I flow with life and allow life to flow with me. I feel softer in my body, less stiff, sore, and tense. I worry less and accept more. I take more time for me instead of using my time to “fix” others. I let go more. I smile more. I connect; I laugh; I dance; I frolic  – I Live! I am open. I hug and kiss and touch. I love and open my heart. I am childlike in the world. I am magical. I am My Self. And I allow others to be who and how they are without judgment. I am in my authority. I am present – Here. Now.

I think before I took “Make Your Own Path” to mean living my life, being free, doing things my way in the world, living Me! But somewhere along the way I came to believe that it meant separating myself – mostly from Mitch, that making my own path meant being away from him- that it was an either or – him or my path.  Now I see that by not being on my path I am separating myself from others and life and Mitch and that by not being on my own path I cannot be fully on my path with him. I see that it’s not an either or but a beautiful merging. I lost sight of the braided path: My path, His path, our path – braided together to make one strong bond.

What work/processes will help me with this edge?

  • Radical Forgiveness Worksheet when I notice I’m judging another, or I see the mirror of another.
  • Radical Self Forgiveness on the Mirror I find or when I am judging myself.
  • MTL Mirror Process to look eye to eye heart to heart and SEE me
  • The Work of Byron Katie process to get to the truth
  • Yoga to connect to my body and breath
  • Meditation to connect my mind and breath and spirit
  • Reiki Self-Healing to connect my spirit with the Divine
  • Chakra healing to align my energy

What will I put into place to support me on my path?

  • Daily Yoga and Meditation
  • Daily “I am that, I am.” Exercise
  • When I notice I’m walling up – open up my body and reach out to connect physically
  • Breathe – focus more on abdominal breathing to bring in calm  and grounding
  • At least one written process/work per day be it MTL, Radical Forgiveness, The Work, or an exercise from another book such as Mind of the Soul.
  • Reconnect and Recommit to My Path.
  • Look at my vision board weekly – sit with it; be with it; breathe with it.
  • Take time out for me

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Asana

I think this piece by Dr. David Simon exquisitely sums up what Asana is:

 

“Asanas are usually defined as the various yogic postures designed to bring balance
and harmony to the physical body, particularly the musculo-skeletal system. Asana
is part of the Ayurvedic treatment system for the physical body.
At a deeper level, asana refers to the complete expression of mind-body integration, a state in
which we become conscious of the flow of prana resonating in every molecule of our body and
in every thought and every experience.
The essence of asana isn’t about straining to get our body into a particular posture; it’s about
surrender, opening, expanding, and enhancing our flexibility, balance, and strength. The
practice of asanas is a way to expand our own sense of self and experience the joy of being
incarnated in this physical body. At the same time, it allows us to create an intimate dance
between our individuality and universality and celebrate the essence of this connection.”

Eight Limbs of Yoga: Svadhyaya

Niyama 4Svadhyaya Self Study/Self Reflection

 Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.  -Chinese Proverb 

This niyama asks us to look within and study the self. This is swimming your deep rivers- the facing of our inner truths, the battle of our inner demons, meandering the labyrinth that is us to find the heart of us – our True Self, the self that is guided by spirit. Swimming your deep rivers means facing the truth about yourself in order to weed out false beliefs and reconnect to your Highest Self.

Many believe that Svadhyaya means studying the yoga spiritual scriptures, and yes, that can be one avenue of self study. But it goes beyond that, deeper. What works for one will not be what works for another. Study many forms of insightful, self-help, self-improvement and personal growth literature. Study the great texts – all of them. Study modern self-help books; find what works for you. Take a personal growth intensive or course. (The More to Life Weekend was a major jump start for me in my path of growth.)

Read.

Learn from others.

Meditate.

Do personal growth work.

Find your courage. Swimming your deep rivers can be a daunting task. It requires you to see both the truth of your highest self and the ego self.

Svadhyaya is not the answer. Svadhyaya is the question being asked.”

Daily Affirmation/Mantra/Prayer: 

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.

For Personal Growth: 

Choose one personal growth, self-help, self-improvement book or spiritual text to read. Commit to reading it and completing any exercises within.

Suggested Reading List:

Radical Forgiveness – Colin Tipping

The Work – Byron Katie

How to Heal Your Life – Louise Hay

Owning Your Life

We create our lives in every moment. Even when life is happening in a way that we don’t like – we have created it either by the thoughts we’ve put out into the world or on a soul level for our growth.

We make choices in life and call them mistakes; they are but lessons. And in the lessons are gifts for us to help us grow and evolve more and more.

Are you creating the life you want or the life you fear?

Are you fighting against what life gives you (i.e., what you are bringing to you) – resisting what is, instead of accepting?

Life is always FOR you.

In this moment, trust that – breathe it in.

“Life is always for me.”