There’s one thing we can know for sure: this too will change.
Whatever it is, yes.
Some days will be easy, others hard.
The morning could be bright and sunny, and by evening there might be rain.
Just a quick reminder:
Whatever you are feeling right now is ok.
You’re allowed to feel it.
You can open up to it. A little, or a lot.
You can make space.
You can take a moment to feel how the body feels. Places you feel any tension. Places where you feel relaxed.
Connect to the breath.
Follow it for a few moments.
Allow it to be as it is.
For as long as you wish.
For as long as you need.
Then choose a valued direction – set an intention.
Return to it when you need to. Or set it again.
Make space for the weather, and remember the sky.
“The greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble… They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This ‘outgrowing’, as I formerly called it, on further experience was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of view, the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency.” – Carl Jung
I stumbled upon this quote the other day, and it really resonated. The way I interpret it: we don’t solve our “issues” – they dissolve on their own. They kind of slowly (or sometimes not so slowly) fade into the background of our lives and minds and eventually perhaps become completely invisible. Something else takes their place. It happens when, as Jung says, a new and stronger life-tendency is there. This life tendency for me means a sense of wholeness. It’s a leaning into self-compassion. It means aligning with what truly matters in my life – how I want to show up – and letting it guide my actions. I also means paying true attention to what is showing up right now.
The point is that if we are always busy trying to escape what we don’t want to feel or busy trying to solve our issues with our problem-solving mind, we lose sight of the things that actually are in our control. Like how we respond to what is happening, how we meet it, and how we choose to move forward. And we have less energy to put into what matters to us – into what really matters to us.
If we stop seeing our thoughts or feelings as enemies – if we make space for them – we have more freedom to go where our heart leads us. What if we see the the issue, our pain or discomfort, as a road sign pointing us to where we care the most? Eventually, we might notice that what we were so busy struggling with is no longer there. Or perhaps it still shows up from time to time, but it no longer rattles us in the same way. It loses its power.
Maybe there is nothing to heal, only things to fall in love with. And in there somewhere, all that is no longer needed, melts away.
Yesterday was the full moon. For me, the moon is a reminder of life’s flow and the ever-changing nature of it, – of everything, including myself. The things I was carrying yesterday – my thoughts, feelings, the stomach ache – they have dissolved into the past. I woke up to a new day, to new and different energy, and new thoughts and feelings. The night gives us that passage, the shift into a new day. But, the shift can also happen from one moment to the next. I’m constantly being reminded of this.
My wish is to not cling to any of it. To trust in the flow of life, and move with it, breath by breath. To let old things die, and new to be born when the time is right. To trust in the moments that feel like they are in-between the old and new, moments that might feel confusing, uncertain, or like there is nothing happening. I trust that there is always movement, even if we can’t always see or feel it.
My wish is to trust in the ache, and also trust that joy will return. Knowing that whatever is happening, this too will change. To be ok with not knowing – to still feel safe, because my safety is within me. While things around us can and will change, we can lean into our inner presence that is there to hold it all. To me, this is freedom.
Tonight we shift into a new year, with hope of something good around the corner. I believe we all have the strength and wisdom in us to meet whatever awaits us. And if there’s anything I wish for in this moment, it’s that we can know freedom. The freedom of being ok in uncertainty. Of feeling safe no matter what is and what’s to come.
Lately, I’ve been writing about remembering.
There is this voice that I hear. The more I unplug from the many voices around me – the many distractions.
This voice grows stronger. Steadier.
It sits in my centre, like on a throne. And it is ready, at all times.
It is ready to bring me back.
To remind me. To let me know when I begin to drift.
It tells me: “No. That is not your way.”
It says: “No. We don’t go back. Those are old ways.”
It reminds me to return.
To come back.
To come back.
To myself. To here. To now.
To what I really know to be true.
It is my anchor. My lighthouse.
It says: “You have forgotten again. It’s ok. Just come back.”
Every time we forget, we can also remember. And we can return.
Breath by breath, we can begin again.
This is the practice.
And breath by breath, our foundation grows stronger. And that voice gets clearer.
Things will still happen. Feelings will come and go. We will have beautiful days, we will have bad days. But we can remember, and we can always return.
We can rest, knowing that there is a truth inside of us at all times.
It is there to hold us.
And that it will never let us down.
Wishing you a beautiful winter solstice. ❤
You are far more than the sum of your thoughts, ideas, opinions. Rest into what lies beyond, and feel it nourish you, give you life.
Pause, pay attention to the breath, feel into the space around it, and rest there.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend. 💕
Awareness brings clarity and empowerment. As we become aware of what arises in us, we can choose what to let go. There is no point in resisting what is already here, but we can practice seeing it all for what it is. By connecting to our presence, we can more clearly see what is ours and what not.
We cannot let go through struggle. Like a clenched fist trying to let go, it happens when the palm is open.
There are a lot of things we can let go of every day through staying open.
We can let go of what does not belong to us. We can let go of ideas and thoughts about who, what, and how we should be. Thoughts created by old, destructive values and conditioning.
We can let go of thoughts that are not beneficial to our well-being – and to those around us.
We can let go of the illusions (like the illusion that we really are our thoughts about ourselves).
We can acknowledge that for a brief while, maybe these ideas did serve us, maybe in some way they protected us. We can honour them, and let them go.
We can remind ourselves that they are based on the past, and that it’s ok to let them stay there.
We can let go of what is not ours. What we are not. What is not our Self.
Letting go is not a one time event, it happens over and over again.
We can put the past to rest, every new day. Every moment even.
We are always in the process of creation, and re-creation.
“What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we are stuck.”
This quote is by one of my favourite Buddhist teachers Pema Chödrön. It’s from her incredible book When Things Fall Apart, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for wise words on how to meet difficulties in life.
These particular words encourage us to practice befriending what we see as an obstacle, instead of viewing it as the enemy. Pema Chödrön tells the story of how Buddha was sitting under a tree, on the night he was to attain enlightenment. While sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara (illusion, desire, death and rebirth). The story goes that they shot swords and arrows at him, and because of his power of awareness, their weapons ended up turning into flowers.
She reminds us that we call obstacles, are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword, can turn into a flower, depending on our relationship with ourselves. The first step is being able to acknowledge and willing to meet whatever discomfort or pain that is arising. If we are not open to it, if we just push it away, it will be hard to find any teaching there, and to move through that place where we are stuck. Sometimes that is needed too, and the flower in that situation is just being aware of what and how we tend to push things away.
Mindfulness gives us awareness about when and in what ways we try to escape those difficult emotions (a natural thing we all do). It’s not something we should be hard on ourselves for, but instead see as very valuable information – it’s how arrows turn into flowers. Most importantly we will notice that we can fully meet all these experiences, which are a natural part of life. And that to be truly alive means to never really arrive. There will always be new arrows – but we learn that we can let life have its natural ebb and flow, and still rest in our presence and find wisdom there.
The beauty of mindfulness is that it is meant to be practiced in our daily life. We are not only practicing when we are sitting on the meditation cushion. And essentially, the more we practice the more mindfulness becomes integrated into all that we do.
Here are some simple mindfulness techniques to do throughout the day
– When you wake up in the morning take a few moments to feel and get in touch with your breath. It’s a good idea to do this before going to sleep as well.
– Connect with your breath as much as you can during the day – do a short breathing anchor meditation. Notice how many times throughout the day you are in touch with your breath.
– Pay attention to moments when you shift from one position or activity to the next. For example getting up from the chair or sitting down. Do these as mindfully as possible. Stay in touch with your breath and notice how the movement feels in your body.
– Belly breathing. Notice how you are breathing right now. Put your hand on your stomach and take a few breaths all the way down to the belly, feeling how it expands on the in-breath and contracts on the out-breath.
– Slow walks. Take a walk while paying attention to how your body feels. Feel the soles of your feet against the ground when you take each step. Notice how your body feels when you are walking slowly and then how it feels when you take faster steps. Remember to also feel your breath now and then during the walk. Then also, try to pay as much attention to your surroundings. See the buildings or the trees, notice the colors, the shapes, the movement you can see. Then you can shift by noticing the scents you can feel, or the sounds that you can hear.
– Make a habit of noticing some positive situations during the day. One idea is to write them down in the evening. You can do the same with a negative situations or events that seem to stay with you, and pay attention especially how you react or respond to them, what reactions they might have caused in your body – without making any judgements.
This poem by Rumi is often read in connection to mindfulness, and I think it’s a beautiful reminder of how to meet discomfort in our practice, and our lives.
Each morning we wake up to certain feelings or sensations, and each morning there is something new. Sometimes we feel rejuvenated and content, other times we are tired, in pain, feel a heaviness or something else we would categorize as negative. Even pausing for a moment to simply meet & feel whatever is there, will increase our awareness and sense of presence. We practice meeting it all with as much patience, kindness, and curiosity as possible.
In mindfulness meditation we practice focus and observation, which in time helps us gain a different perspective of what we are feeling and sensing, instead of becoming absorbed by it. If we feel pain somewhere in the body, we can try and imagine breathing into and out of that place, I have found this to be helpful with for example headache and shoulder pain.
We practice meeting our feelings and sensations. We try as much as we can to invite it all in, even the discomfort. After all, it may be clearing the way for new joy.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Living a mindful life means waking up from a kind of slumber. The slumber of living solely in the mind – of moving through life on autopilot. To wake up from that autopilot-state, we practice paying attention to, and truly allowing and feeling, everything that arises in us – specifically paying attention to the body. Because the body is always in the present moment.
Meditation and mindfulness are, in a sense, a deeper kind of listening. We listen, not with our analytical mind that wants to come up with solutions, new ideas, or stories. But we listen in a way that connects us deeper to what we are experiencing. In this way, we also get more in touch with the body and its intelligence.
Through listening deeply, and our willingness to sense and be present for it, we create space for all that is arising, for any emotion or sensation that is stopping by. Can we welcome even what we judge as negative, instead of following the impulse to push it away? Can we allow everything to come and go – as it does?
We practice fully observing all that is arising, without trying to change anything. There is no outer goal to attain.
We are simply gifting ourselves our full attention. This in time gives us a bigger perspective, an even greater sense of presence, and courage to meet things that come our way.
This practice also expands our awareness of how we relate to different sensations, maybe wanting to hold on to the pleasant ones, and to avoid the unpleasant ones.
The beauty of mindfulness, is that it is meant to be practiced in our daily life. And essentially, the more we practice the more mindfulness becomes integrated into all that we do.
You can choose any daily activity, like doing the dishes, taking a shower or taking a walk, and practice being as present as possible for it. Pay attention to the sensations or feelings that you are experiencing, especially all that you are sensing in your body. If you notice that your thoughts begin to wander someplace else, remember your breath is always there to guide you back to the present. It can also be helpful to pay attention to the sensation of the soles of your feet against the ground or floor reminding you to come back to your body and here and now.
Explore how you feel throughout your day. See if you notice when you are feeling present in your body, and when you feel less so. Are there moments or activities during your day where you perhaps feel less present? You can always use breath anchoring to deepen your presence in those specific moments.