Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

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Masterclass

Where do I even begin?  Maybe this will be a 12-part miniseries…

I am a certified Spirit Junkie.  I completed the level one Spirit Junkie Masterclass training with Gabrielle Bernstein.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday surrounded with like-minded, amazing women and men.  On Sunday during the lunch break, I texted one of my dearest friends to tell her that although I was ready to come home, I never wanted to leave how I was feeling, never wanted to leave the place my heart, soul, spirit and mind were in.  Talk about pure bliss…

Masterclass cert

So I’ll grace you with some of the highlights from my 37 pages of notes.  Forgive me if some of my words and some of the speakers’ words blend together.  I tried to paraphrase and quote with accuracy, as my formal training dictates but in the flow of the weekend, some elements mushed together.  And believe that I feel a shift for which words will do no justice.

In her opening talk, Gabby circled around humility, love and transformation.  She, in certain terms, told us all that we have to do this work and must step in fully. She prompted us to lean into appreciation when we see ourselves comparing our journeys, our experiences and our concepts with those of others.  Powerfully and frequently throughout the weekend, Gabby urged us to be unapologetic about what we’re here to do.

Proudly, I introduced myself as an animal Reiki practitioner and rescuer to my new-found sisters—I didn’t hide behind the day job (but shout out to the Spirit Junkie who described herself on mic as a spiritual teacher disguised as a school teacher… because I’m so using that line!).  I’m fully stepping in.

And as I sit here, I realize that it is time to fully step out.  I am tired.  So there’s just a taste, a teaser of sorts, just the opening chapter… stay tuned for the next installment.  Much love.

Mallory

Hoppy New Year, Bunnies and Bunny Friends!

My final Reiki session of 2016 was shared with Mallory, a darling Dutch girl whom I helped rescue in 2015 and was adopted by one of our volunteers, my friend Lauren.  Mallory recently lost her husbun Benjamin, so Lauren asked for me to come over and check in on Mal.  Prior to losing Benjamin, Lauren and Mallory went through numerous changes in 2016—a volatile year for many, but hey, if we don’t change, we don’t grow.

I settled in to Mallory’s pen, anointed my third eye chakra with Magnify Your Purpose essential oil and my palms with a few drops of lavender.  Lauren had the diffuser going with a relaxing blend to support our energy work.  As I flowed through my meditation, calling on my guides, Mallory’s guides and angels and all workers of light and energy to join us, Mallory tossed a cardboard tube at me— her way of acknowledging that she was ready to communicate!  Through our hands-on work, Mallory shared with me that she feels in good health.  She has a cautious spirit, which complements Lauren’s adventurous spirit quite well.  Both Mallory and Lauren share an energy, a bond through the adventure of life and bring balance and care to each other.

Mallory tossed her wood and rope toy 5 times.  She also “showed” me the numbers 6 and 4 in combination to create 10 a few times during her session (check out Doreen Virtue’s book on angel numbers to translate Mal’s message!).  When I asked Mallory about her past, she hopped away and turned her back.  She remembers the horrible life she lived before rescue and wants it completely behind her, so I focused the Reiki energy to send healing, forgiveness and forward movement.  Mallory confirmed with me that she loves to snuggle, loves to be wrapped in a blanket as a tangible sense of connection and security.  Who doesn’t love a good snuggle?!

She “showed” me oranges, specifically the fruit and not just the color orange.  When I asked Lauren about this in our chat after the Reiki session, she burst out laughing.  Lauren and a friend were eating oranges in that room just the night before!  Messages like this are confirmation to me that Mallory was receiving the energy and communicating with me.  I don’t question the gift—I just embrace it and share it.

Our Reiki session closed with the theme of surrender and riding out the changes in life, as more are to come (soon!) to this adora-bun family.  Mallory is a protectorate and a symbol of strength for Lauren as much as Lauren is for Mallory— they are truly bonded souls with such a wonderful and needed balance for each other.  I am honored to share Reiki with Mallory and Lauren.  Thank you, my friend.

Hop the Hop

I advise everyone, yes everyone, who asks for coaching, mentorship or just plain advice from me to meditate.  And yet, my practice of meditation is less than consistent!  Since I was on vacation from my “day job” this week, I took the opportunity to talk the talk AND walk the walk… or should we say hop the hop!

My meditation coach and treasured friend Debbie describes meditation and mindfulness as “paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally” using the body and all sensory systems.  Start as simply as her directive of “Just Sit.”  That’s where the magic happens.  Believe in the potential or not… you know it’s worth a try!

Debbie trained at The University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness under the direct guidance of the incredible Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, so there’s plenty of legit science behind all of this spiritual practice.  Accompanied by fellow Rabbit Rescue volunteer Nicole, I attended a talk Debbie gave this week at Turn of the Corkscrew in Rockville Centre.  Armed with my notebook and my renewed commitment to my own practice, I soaked in all of the goodies from Debbie’s wise words and guided meditations.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and its approach to a mediation practice fits well into my human experience.  It’s not the type of practice where you have to run off into the woods with no shoes on and clear you mind completely for hours to reap benefits—quite the opposite.  Debbie reminded the attendees throughout her talk that mindfulness meditation is an exercise to strengthen our brain.  And just like any other muscle or body system, the brain needs work to see progress or change.  You aren’t going to lose weight by eating differently for one day.  You aren’t going to get sick abs by exercising for one week.  It’s all a practice.  In this case, it’s a practice of “lifting emotional weights.”

And this practice is one that helps us to “respond skillfully rather than react,” which is an invaluable skill for me in both my day job and in Rescue.  I receive emails, many of which seem or are urgent, and calls about cases that are literally life or death situations for abandoned rabbits.  If I react, I’m in an ineffective panic.  When I remember to breathe, then respond skillfully, cases are appropriately prioritized and more lives get saved.

Toward the end of her talk, Debbie said, “It’s not about getting rid of stress—it’s developing a new relationship to it.”  And that’s a refreshing truth that I think will resonate with a lot of you reading this.  No matter what passion and path you are hopping, walking, trotting, whatever, stressors are real.  Obstacles appear and sometimes persist.  A meditation practice, even 2 minutes a day, can be the key to surmounting those stressors.  And since I advocate so heavily for the practice, I will hop the hop with you.  Just sit.  And as Debbie says, “Trust in the wisdom.”

“Like” Debbie’s page on Facebook, please.

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Tater Tot meditates too!