The Spring Ceremony


We piled out of the cars, eager for the adventure of the Springs. Lu, our Hindu guide, helped us dress in appropriate temple clothing (sarong, lace top and sash). IMG_2546

We slowly walked through the gate, feeling like princesses, and the world fell away.

We knew this experience would be life changing, but no one could have prepared us for how deeply the energy would impact us.

As we walked down the ancient stone steps, the outside world disappeared. There was a hush, a stillness that pervaded everything. The only word that can describe the air inside the Temple is…reverence.

Vibrant colors serenaded our walk down into the depth and heart of this ancient space. Trees as tall as small buildings created a canopy of leaves, filtering the light and altering our perception of ourselves.

Lu lead us in a ceremony to prepare to enter the springs. The sound of water rushing down the hillside nearly drowned out her soft voice. A few moments spent in worship and then we walked down a few more steps to the springs.

Turning the corner, I saw the area for the first time. This was truly a holy place. It seemed almost alive with energy. Moss covered all exposed surfaces and mist rose from the surface of the water. The sound of rushing water was so loud that we couldn’t communicate unless we yelled in each other’s ear.

The water barreled down from above and was channeled into four different fountains. We soon learned that each fountain had a purpose in the ceremony.

IMG_4666Entering the pool required a step down on mossy rocks into chilly water that took your breath away. There was no time to hesitate, because someone else was waiting behind you. Together, we shared the experience of ice cold water, while maintaining our prayerful attitude.

We ceremonially offered small flowers and then, one by one, we stood under each waterfall. The first waterfall was to release the mind, the second was to release the body. The third was to cleanse the soul and the last was to surrender to the Divine.

When it was my turn, I was excited but nervous. As I stood in front of the first fountain, I prayed to be open to whatever happened.

IMG_4676I stepped into the liquid curtain and tried to find the sweet spot where I could breathe and still be submerged in the water. My time in the mind fountain was short, because I never could find that sweet spot. I backed away and took a deep breath, hoping to master the technique.

On the second fountain, I discovered that if I leaned forward and tilted my neck down, the water would flow over the back of my head and down the sides, creating a pocket of air. My body relaxed and I was able to let go of my thoughts (so appropriate because this was the body fountain).

The third fountain is where I lost it. I realized, on a visceral level, that I was held, safe and loved. I started crying, then discovered that I could make as much noise as I wanted and no one would hear me. The sound of the water was so loud that it drowned my sobbing. I stayed much longer, allowing the water to wash over my head and back, cleansing more layers than just the physical.

Lu was patiently waiting at the last fountain. I was still holding my flower and she nodded at it, saying something I couldn’t hear. I finally heard her say, “Let it go.” I shouted to her that I already had, but she laughed and pointed to my flower. “Let it go,” she said again. I finally understood and gently placed the flower on the surface and watched it float away.

Something shifted inside of me under the last fountain, and I felt myself merging into oneness with the Divine. My small self was washed away by the strength of the water, and in its place rose a peaceful certainty about myself.

Emerging from the last cleansing, I felt like a different person. Walking back up the ancient steps, absorbing the holy energy of this place, I knew that I had shed layers of limiting beliefs.

The impact of this cleansing in my life is difficult to describe or measure. When I forget that I am loved and here for a reason, all I have to do is study these photographs again.

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I share my story in the hope that it will inspire you to shed limiting beliefs. There are many ways to do this. Meditation, yoga and tai chi are just a few examples. Find what works for you and surrender to it’s wisdom.

The ancient ceremony I experienced is one way to meet your Self. Another is to begin a daily meditation practice. The 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge is designed to gently lead you home, using short, guided meditations and journal prompts.

However you find the way, just know that you are loved beyond measure, that you are meant to be here, and that you have a gift to share with the world.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

How to Step Out of Your Lizard Brain


There is so much pain being expressed in the world. All of the angry words, shouting and demonstrating against something or someone seems to have reached a crescendo.

What is going on? Why have we lost our minds and fallen into terrorist behavior that threatens, bullies and confronts? Look behind any of the #movements and you will discover strong emotions fueling the rocket of change.

A valid question to ask : is the rocket going anywhere? Or is it just an explosion in the cultural mindset that connects people with the same strong emotions?

It feels as if we are more separated, alone in our silos of conviction that we are right and everyone else is wrong.

The logical conclusion to this approach is continued divisiveness, separation and “otherness.” Everyone is a victim of something…and nothing is accomplished. Any changes only come after much angst and energy has been spent, creating a victory but extending the war against “the others.”

There is another way.

The Mindfulness Secret

When you feel yourself being triggered by something you read or heard, take a moment to check into your body. Notice if you are experiencing any of these physical reactions:

  • elevated heartbeat;
  • short, faster breaths; or
  • heat spreading through your body;

Your body is communicating to you that it senses a threat. It could be mental or emotional, but your body has gone into the flight or fight response. Adrenaline is pouring through your veins, making you feel powerful and indestructible.

There is another effect of this survival reaction. Your ability to access the logical and reasoned part of your brain is momentarily disconnected. The oldest part of your brain takes over, the “lizard” brain. Choices made from the lizard brain do not create loving actions or acceptance of others. Instead, the only choices are to fight or flee.

Lizard BrainIn today’s world, the anger, chaos and destruction of meaningful conversations are fueled by the lizard brain.

Mindfulness enters the scene when you recognize that your flight or fight response has been triggered. Instead of giving your lizard brain the controls to the rocket, take a moment to understand what your body is telling you.

How? Step away from the trigger.

If you read something online that made your blood boil, look away and breathe deeply. If it is a person who caused your angst, pretend you just received a text message, look at your phone, and breathe deeply. The point is to momentarily distract yourself to allow time and space for your body’s response to recede.

The second step is to allow these emotions and your physical reaction to lessen BEFORE you share your thoughts, comments or reaction. Sharing words and actions from the lizard brain only adds fuel to the fire.

The third step is to notice the difference it makes when you chose a mindful response. Instead of confrontation, did you see the issue from a new perspective? How did you feel after you hit send? Better or worse?

After being mindful for a few times, notice the consequences to other people. Did your choice to respond and not react impact them? Is there a softening in your relationships that allows for more acceptance of a different viewpoint or opinion? Were you able to find common ground that you could both agree to?

Conclusion

The end result of reaction (from the lizard brain) versus response (from your logical, reasoned mind) are predictable.

  • Lizard Reaction:       You are stupid and wrong if you don’t agree with me.
    • Result:                 Separation, unbending conviction, and damaged relationships
  • Mindful Response:   I see your point and I agree with parts of it.
    • Result:                 Connection, creative solutions, peaceful conversations

The question to ask yourself is this:

“Do I want to be right or at peace?”

Living from your lizard brain is exhausting, debilitating and frustrating. It doesn’t build anyone up – instead, it tears down anyone who disagrees with you. Your lizard brain only wants to be right, and it will go to extremes to prove its rightness. 

The cost is your sense of peace, your security in the world and your well-being.

Cultivate your mindful response muscle and you will be more thoughtful in your interactions. Open minded discussions can be shared, and you will learn something from the other person’s point of view.

Mindful Response

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

 

 

 

 

How To Lose a Ring and Find Yourself


LoseARingLast night, I had a vivid dream about losing a ring. This ring rested on the 4th finger of my right hand. It had guarded that space for as long as I could remember. And now it was gone.

In my dream, I had no idea where I left it. My mind kept trying to solve this mystery, but it came up empty. I knew that the ring was important to me, but I was stuck.

I could see the ring – It was large, gaudy and flashy. The stone was a crystal ball that glowed whenever my thoughts turned to judgment, shame or doubt. It was glowing at this moment, in my dream, because of my thoughts.

“What was I thinking to take it off?”

“I don’t misplace things – especially this ring!”

“I am such an idiot for losing it.”

It was almost as if I was watching myself go through this drama. As the judgmental thoughts went across the screen of my mind, the ring started vibrating, as if it were going to explode!

My dreamer self remained calm, cool and collected. She was not involved in the emotional vortex and did not sit in judgment. My dreamer self was awake and aware, smiling slightly at the scene in front of her.

And then I woke up. I immediately felt for my wedding ring on my left hand, and feeling it’s substance, realized that it was just a dream.

What did it Mean?

As I sat in meditation several minutes later, I listened to a guided meditation from Sarah Blondin called, “Loving and Listening to Yourself. The journey she invokes in this meditation gave me the answer to my dream.

In looking outside for ways to fill our inner needs, we never find the source. No one can do that for you; no one can complete you. You are living between your two selves – the self who knows and the self who believes in lack. Once you start loving yourself, you return home.  Sarah shares a phrase that you repeat to yourself during the meditation.  (You will have to listen to discover the phrase that brings you back to self.)

The ring I lost in my dream was my lacking self. It is energized by the ego, who always wants me to look outside for the answer.  My lacking self believes in this way of living, and her mission is to become satisfied from the outside. The glowing energy of the ring seemed like a celebration of an accomplishment, but it was really a sign to turn away and go within.

Losing the ring means that I can show up in the world, loving all of myself.

What does my life look like when I love all of me? How do I show up differently – in person, online or even with myself?

I am eager to explore and grow in this new way of being. Whenever I fall back into the dream of lack, I repeat Sarah’s phrase. It has become my new talisman!

Why not join me in a 21 Day Challenge? In just 15 minutes a day, you will meditate, journal and set an intention for the day. After following this practice for 21 days, you will be a different person! You may even loosen that ring that sits on your finger. 🙂

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!