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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Yes

For those who’ve been following the tale: I didn’t finish the book before book club, but the 200 pages I read were more enjoyable than I thought they were going to be.

Just another lesson in being open, in saying “Yes!” to what presents itself.  I never would have picked up that particular book, but a beautiful friend presented it as our first selection for our new book club.  Beyond the emotional journey of reading it (if you really know me, you know I’d love nothing more than to stay home all day, every day and read), flicking through those pages allowed me to connect with some sweet and smart women on Friday evening.  Two of my bunny family, plus multi-generational representation from one of their families, great conversation, connection—much more spiritually fulfilling than my typical Friday night falling asleep on the couch while watching vintage seasons of RHONY.

I’ve been saying yes more these past few weeks.  It’s one of my “challenges.”  Some people do squat challenges or cut out sugar for 30 days type challenges; I give myself personal growth challenges.  Saying yes and being more flexible is the theme of this current phase in my personal growth and development.  I’m stretching myself to change or make plans last minute, to break one of my Cardinal Rules and leave the house on Sunday (only for VERY good reasons, should they arise) and to stay up past 8:30pm on a work night (again, the good reason rule comes into play).

I broke the bedtime rule last Thursday and spent the evening in Manhattan with four gorgeous friends and my mentor Gabrielle Bernstein.  I’m breaking the bedtime rule this coming Tuesday to see Marilyn Manson.  Yes, you can be a Spirit Junkie and enjoy some dark music—it’s all about balance, my loves.  These rules, and the bending of them, may seem trivial to the less wound and regulated but to me, these are some huge shifts!

Yes, I have a lot of rules for myself.  I’m super-structured, regimented to an extreme at times.  I attribute my success to my discipline and my grit.  As strange as it may sound, I’m disciplining myself to be a little less disciplined.  But fear not, I’ll still be here every Sunday (or thereabouts) with you.  Much love.

Topher & Co.

I had the honor of working with Topher, his brother Walter and their sister Nora last week.  Topher and Walter are friendly, active dogs and Nora is a beautiful kitty.  Their mom invited me over specifically to work with Topher but Reiki energy does not discriminate; it goes and flows wherever it is welcome and needed!  Upon my arrival, Walter and Topher greeted me with puppy-like fervor while Nora assessed me from afar.  I love cats for their moments like that—no nonsense, no pretense.  After we talked about some goals for our session, Topher’s mom left us to get down to business!

I anointed myself with Believe essential oil and sat on the floor in their living room.  As I started to tune in to the energy and my guides, Topher sat to my left, leaning his right side against my knee and crossed legs.  The color blue swirled around his energy.  As I worked on his crown chakra, I felt a sense of high alert and was compelled to send him the word “ease.”  When I worked on his throat chakra, I shared with him the message from my guides that he can tell his mom what he needs and she will always hear him.  I also connected with a heaviness on his right side, nothing to be concerned about per se, but just an awareness.

Topher bounced away after some time together and Walter walked over, almost like he had been waiting his turn.  Walter sat in my lap and we connected.  Both doggy brothers allowed lots of hands-on work throughout the session, probably the most I’ve ever had with new clients!  I “got” the “message” that Walter was a lawyer or some sort of negotiator in a past life or, if he were human in this life, that would be his career path.  I connected most with and worked on his sacral and root chakras.

Topher came back over and sat, somewhat at attention, in front of me this time.  I just do my thing and those who need the energy line up!  This time together, I was compelled to work more on his throat and solar plexus chakras.  I worked through his legs, hips and corresponding root chakra as well, sending to him that he is secure.  He “shared” with me that he senses a transition or a new family member.  In our post-session conversation, Topher’s mom confirmed that someone did recently move into their home.  Messages and connections like that are just confirmation for me that the energy is “working,” not that I ever doubted it anyway.

Nora stayed in the next room for the entirety of our session, regally grooming herself and never taking her eyes off of me.  I got a “den mother” vibe from her, as if she feels responsible to keep order in the house.  My closing messages, just from the space in general, were about a middle child energy and the number 7, all of which I shared with Topher, Walter and Nora’s mom in our chat after I closed out the session.  It was truly a beautiful hour with this happy, energetic family.  Topher, if you’re listening, just remember: ease!

Much love.

The Whole Crew
Photo Credit: Their Mom

 

Autopilot

I don’t know if there’s a name for it… that experience where you’re driving but your mind is completely somewhere else and you kind of shake your head and snap back to the present moment, having virtually no recollection of getting where you are, like that total autopilot moment… that’s August for me, every year.  I just realized it last night, as we got into bed and I shook my head fiercely and thought, “Holy stuff, it’s almost over.”   This is my brain on August, autopilot, struggling to get back to the present.

My mindfulness practices are inconsistent—but that’s why they call it a practice and not a perfect, right?  I am routinized and committed to many things so it’s not like I can’t; I just haven’t yet.  But I will.  The struggles are thematic (and I almost blush at calling them struggles because it’s really not so bad in the grand scheme of this whirling world).  I hit speed bumps and roadblocks at similar places and phases, the same way, I imagine, a serial dieter does.  I am aware of my patterns and my inclinations.  I’m here, trying to balance acceptance and growth.

Again, it’s a practice.  I’m finally at a place where I don’t feel like my vacations are too short (those of you who don’t get the number of weeks off that I do can continue cursing at me now—I can’t hear you anyway).  I don’t feel like the days or my life is racing by because I am paying attention on purpose, with purpose.  I’m making it count AND giving myself a giant break that I denied myself in the past.  I’m consciously shutting down the August Autopilot now.  So today, or even just for the next hour, give the autopilot a rest.  Let it recharge—after all, we need it in its highest working order in times of necessity—and be present with yourself.  Take it all in.  Accept your patterns, your habits, your predilections and grow through the elements that could use change.  Be here now.  Much love.

 

Amira

“They” say the energy goes where it needs to go—distance and time are not limitations, unless you treat them that way.  I’ve done my share of Distance Reiki sessions and I often “channel” furbabies from afar, but last weekend was my first official leap around the world: a Reiki session with a doggy in Australia!

I met Amira’s mom through an online spiritual business group.  We scheduled our session (after I was able to wrap my head around the time difference!) a few days in advance and I was ever-so excited to work with this cute pup.  About a half an hour before our session commenced, I sat in meditation to connect with Amira and her mom’s energy.  I anointed myself with Believe essential oil blend, my signature scent.  I connected with three concepts, restlessness, the number 3 and thoughtfulness, which I presented to Amira’s mom at the start of our session.

We joined together via Zoom at the appointed time, breakfast for them, almost bedtime for me and I explained how I “work” and get messages.  We talked about the restlessness I picked up on through my channeling, probably not uncommon for dogs in general, but Amira’s mom connected to my description.  The number 3, a beautifully spiritual number, didn’t particularly stand out to her but we let that be.  Then the thoughtfulness… I got the “message” that Amira is thoughtful, like if she were a person, she would be the type who remembers everyone’s birthdays.  Her mom liked that!  Super sweet.

Amira’s mom asked me to check in on Amira’s anxiety, particularly when she leaves the house, to make sure she’s comfortable and drinking her water.  From there, I started my direct work with Amira, who lied casually across her bed.  Starting with her crown, I felt pressure (but not pain!) and was compelled to send the word “freedom.”  I sensed a favoring of her left side and she “told” me that she likes to have her right ear scratched!

Amira transitioned into her mom’s lap at some point during our session, still comfortable and soaking in the vibes.  When working on her throat chakra, she acknowledged that she knows her mom listens to her—how beautiful!  Moving to her heart, I felt a darkness.  In our post-session conversation, I assured mom that this was NOT something scary or bad, but just something to keep an eye on, be open to… maybe get her a green toy, something to connect with the heart chakra.  On to the solar plexus, Amira feels safe and heard.  She feels a best friend energy with her mom and likes to be reminded of that.

Toward the close of our session, I connected strongly to Amira’s root chakra, checking in on the concerns mom expressed before we got started.  Amira knows she will be with her mom forever and she grips onto their relationship.  She also “showed” me the number 4.  I closed the session, beaming tons of love, light and energy for the greatest good of Amira, her family and their home.  I shared what I “heard” and “got” through the Reiki with Amira’s mom and thanked her for this opportunity to work together.  A beautiful family, a beautiful session.  Much Love.

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.

Magnify

Shoes and Trust

I had a shoe-mergency today.  I finished speaking at our wellness event, was walking back to my seat and I knew my right shoe didn’t feel quite right.  I sat down and investigated—a case of a loose platform.  I’ve had this particular pair of shoes for at least ten, maybe eleven years.  I don’t wear them often and I guess they wanted to show their displeasure with not being taken out more frequently.  You really learn who you can count on when you’re having a shoe-mergency.

Shoe

I turned to my colleague and friend who was sitting at the table.  She immediately offered to get some flipflops from the car (I normally come prepared with back-ups, but I’m rolling in a loaner car for the weekend).  Our other colleague, who also works at the venue, scrambled around for glue or something to repair my busted sole.  No glue on the entire premises… but who needs glue when you have friends to hold you together?

After her speech, which was FANTASTIC, the first colleague/friend I mentioned went out to her car and retrieved two pairs of shoes, one flats and one stilettos, for me.  I went with the heels, of course.  Crisis averted.

I was listening to Brene Brown’s Super Soul Sessions talk called “The Anatomy of Trust” as I was cleaning out my classroom last week, preparing for summer break.  Ms. Brown talks about the little acts that create trust in a relationship, how a small gesture or conversation, sometimes even comment, can form a bond.  And, in the spirit of balance, it takes an equally small gesture, or the lack of a gesture, or comment to annihilate trust that previously existed.

I’ve put up the front of not needing anyone plenty of times, as a way to protect the fragile little Denise inside of the woman filling the 5-inch-high shoes.  I’ve purported in various incarnations over the years that I don’t trust or don’t need anyone.  But, let’s be real—I was running defense.  Today, I wasn’t going to be running anywhere without some darn great ladies whom I trust.  I knew I could depend on them before their gestures today, for sure.  But how these souls stepped up for me when my sole wasn’t supporting me fills me with so much joy and love.  It’s these small, trust-building gestures that save an event, a day, even a life sometimes.  I see it in Rescue—the way our team shows up for each other is outstanding.  And I felt in first hand today with my Oil sisters.  Thank you, my friends.  Much love.