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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Even More from Masterclass

I’m glad I decided to break up these entries as it forces me to stop spinning and to bust out my nearly 40 pages of Masterclass notes… revisit the magic, with purpose.

Feelings… how often do we find ourselves forcing our feelings down or trying to make our feelings fit into some conventional box?  To paraphrase Gabby, have no agenda of what you’re supposed to be feeling.  Let it flow.  You don’t have to feel (or not feel) anything or experience life with the feelings and reactions that are thrust upon you by societal perceptions and “norms.”  Feel what you want!  Feel what is speaking to you, what is speaking from you.

I hear of more and more people identifying as empaths.  I am not one of them.  I, in fact, have a strong shut-off valve.  It comes naturally to me.  If I could box it up and sell it, I would.  Gabby talked about shifting toward compassion rather than empathy so we can heal, serve and not take on other’s energy.  My Rescue family, please print out the preceding sentence and tape it to your wall.  Read it every day.  Revisit it before opening your Rescue email, our volunteer FB group or going out on Rescue calls.  Compassion allows us to feel, heal and serve without the crushing moments that sometimes come with empathy.

On the first evening of Masterclass, Gabby urged us to write our stories and to call on our stories as our expertise and our wisdom.  Reading this line in my notebook is resonating strongly with me today, three-fold.  First, because I’m writing to you now.  Second, in business, we encourage each other to write our stories, to share why we use our products, the magic that these little brown bottles have brought into our lives in the areas of wellness, abundance and purpose.  People often hesitate to write or share their stories because they feel silly about it, they lack confidence in their writing or they don’t think anyone wants to hear their stories.  Culture and community is built on stories!  Write them, draw them, rap them—something!  Share your story; be proud of your journey.

Oh, and third… our Rescue newsletter would not exist without stories from our bunny families and volunteers.  Deadline for the next issue is rapidly approaching and I’ve been gently begging for stories.  Remember, sharing our stories will help save more rabbits and will continue to spread our mission.

The last line of the page of notes I’m reading and reliving says, “Lots of little right actions.”  Isn’t that what our journeys are?  Lots of little actions… some right, some wrong in the moment that eventually lead us to right.  Right being joy or purpose or learning or love.  The next page of my notes starts with me, my stream of consciousness flowing, “I feel perfect in this moment.”  And I do.  Much love.

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Feel and Focus

On Friday evening, I sat amongst a diverse yet like-minded group at Yoga Journal Live to hear Gabby Bernstein’s talk entitled True Power.  When I explain who Gabby Bernstein is to people, I call her the Marianne Williamson of the younger set.  If none of this is resonating with you, stop reading this and go turn on Super Soul Sunday on OWN or make a quick trip to the library or to smile.amazon.com, pick Long Island Rabbit Rescue as your charity of choice, then treat yourself to some powerful nonfiction by either of the aforementioned ladies.

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Ms. Bernstein sharing her True Power

As in my nature, I took a lot of notes during Gabby’s talk (Metatron is my guide and he’s known as God’s scribe so it all comes naturally to me).  As I review my scribbled pages, the phrase “You can dictate what you feel based on what you focus on” is shining at me this morning.  You hear a lot of the same refrain from acquaintances, colleagues, and family members about being so busy, too busy, overwhelmed and overbooked.  But it’s all about choice and focus for me.

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Always prepared to take good notes

I work a traditional Monday to Friday job, I coordinate a non-profit organization (that logs far more hours than my “job” does) and I have responsibilities and appointments, social and non, that filter through the days as well.  At the day job, I can certainly feel busy, stressed, uncomfortable, drowning, fighting a losing battle at the most extreme of times.  Now shift the focus, make the choice…  Yesterday was a typical Saturday for me, as I handled a steady stream of Rescue emails, managed the group’s social media accounts (except Instagram, that one I’ve thankfully delegated out to the squad), handled phone calls and texts from volunteers who themselves are managing some complex rescue cases, completed two outstanding home visits for potential adopters, had lunch with a treasured friend, did three loads of laundry, food shopped… but guess what, loves?  I felt completely alive, blessed and happy through it all.  Not for a second did I choose to feel busy, stressed, or overbooked.

This is not a brag-post.  This is a message that you can do it all, have it all and be it all if you “embrace the light” as Gabby reminded the 700+ attendees at her talk on Friday.  As soon as I embraced my life’s purpose, the moment I found my truth, I left behind those crazed feelings of drowning through all the things I had to do.  I can now have a packed day of smiles and movement.  I shifted from my former refrain of “I have so much to do” to my divine inner monologue of “I feel completely alive and on my mission.”

Gabby told us to “reach for what we believe in right now.”  I believe that my work in rescue has saved my life as well as helped to save countless animal lives.  I believe that every cell in my body vibrates and functions at its full and glowing potential when I’m doing my rescue and Reiki work.  I feel the best I’ve ever felt because I’ve chosen to focus on what drives me instead of focusing on what society/family/whoever told me I should focus on.  I’ve magnified my purpose.  I choose what feels right and so much more of what is right has flowed my way.

Busy, lazy, productive, slow… these are all perceptions.  Perceive, feel, focus and be whatever you truly want.  Let that authentic purpose come to you.  Your truth is gorgeous, just like you.

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