Moment by Moment


christian-holzinger-433986“Welcome to another moment in life.”

The rustic sign hung a bit crooked on the cracked wall, having seen many years of wind, rain, and sun as it faced the ocean. The outdoor restaurant in Key West was also weather-worn, much like its regular customers.

I sat by myself at a table facing that same body of water, not as sculpted by the elements as I was beaten down by myself.

I was taking a holiday to get away from the muddle I had made of my life. Only to discover that it still lived inside my head, playing over and over again in full technicolor.

A young man with a messy man bun walked up to me, casually holding a pen and a pad to take my order. At first, I didn’t see him, because the view of the beach, palm trees, and the ocean had entranced my attention. It was only after he said, “Ready to order?” that I turned toward him.

“Oh hi!” I said, brightly. My life had fallen apart, and I was still trying to look put together. “I’ll take the shrimp tacos and iced tea.”

He nodded and started to walk away. That’s when I noticed the other signs that hung over the bar, the doors and any spare space on the walls.

“Be who you are. Everyone else is taken.”

“Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.”

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult; we just need to remember to do it.”

I stood up abruptly, motioning the waiter to come back over to my table. “What is the name of this place again?”

He looked at me a bit warily and pointed to the large sign over the bar. “Now and Zen,” it said in large, simple script.

I nodded and sat back down, remembering why I had come to this island at the southernmost tip of the United States. It was to rediscover who I was before I became who the world told me to be. And coming to the Now and Zen restaurant was the starting point back to myself.

“Is Henry here?” I called to the retreating back of my server. He glanced over his shoulder and pointed to the kitchen.

Suddenly, a face appeared in the small opening between the kitchen and the restaurant. A muffled yell and then…Henry burst forth like a comet, tail blazing with light.

I was enveloped in Henry’s arms, the hug so tight that the air burst out of my lungs. I hugged him back, laughing at his exuberance. He rocked me back and forth, saying over and over, “Oh Mia, Mia! I am so glad you’re here!”

The sadness that I carried with me like an extra layer of clothing disappeared in that embrace. I let myself go and absorbed his love, knowing that it would fill me up like nothing else. My healing began in those few moments of complete acceptance.

Finally, we pulled apart.

Henry looked deeply into my eyes, touching my soul. My initial reaction was to break the contact, but I forced myself to stay still as he took his assessment of my emotional and spiritual condition. Much like a doctor takes the pulse and listens to her patient’s heartbeat, Henry was taking my spiritual pulse.

He pulled me into another embrace and whispered in my ear, “I have to keep cooking, but let’s talk later.” He hugged me one more time, kissed my forehead and went back into the kitchen.

Sometime later, Henry sat down at my table, bits of food stain on his shirt and shorts. His weathered face showed his age, but not his eyes. Deep blue with a calm, penetrating gaze, Henry could look deeply into another person’s eyes and touch their soul.

He reached across the table and grabbed my hands, smiling as he squeezed them affectionately. His low, gravely voice hummed a sea-faring tune that was calming and poetic at the same time. He waited for me to begin speaking, silently granting permission and creating the safe space for me to become vulnerable.

I took a deep breath and nodded, looking down at our hands. His, dark brown and worn; mine, lily white from lack of sun.

“I couldn’t help her,” I whispered. The shame and pain of helplessness overcame me, and I began sobbing quietly. Henry moved his chair around to sit next to me, holding me in his arms as I grieved.

When my crying jag was finished, I looked up and understood why I came. My mother’s only brother was the one person who would know why I was punishing myself about her last days.

Henry smiled gently and handed me a napkin. As I cleaned up my face, he spoke softly. “You loved her to the end, Mia. She crossed over knowing that you loved her.”

I nodded miserably, but the shame of old grievances was still there. As I took a breath and looked out to sea, I realized that only I could release this shame that threatened to engulf me.

“I should have been there sooner,” I offered as proof of my guilt.

Henry shook his head. He sat up straighter in his chair and looked at me directly, all comfort and care transformed into a laser focus. He wanted me to hear his next words, and his body language was like a neon sign, pointing to this moment.

“Close your eyes and take a deep breath.”

I did as I was told and waited. After a few deep, calming breaths, Henry continued.

“You are here, right now, searching for answers to a question that has no answer.” His voice was soft but insistent. “Regret keeps you locked in the past. Let it go now.”

I nodded and took another deep breath. I could feel the tension leave my body and I smiled at the relief found in the release. A spark of hope became a flame as I breathed in the salty air, held it and then released it in time with the ocean’s pulse.

We sat that way for several minutes. The ocean was soothing, the breeze cooling and I was loosening. All because I trusted Henry and allowed him to open a space for my healing.

Suddenly, I felt another presence near me. My eyes and mouth flew open at the sight of a seagull perched on the railing, about 2 feet from our table. The bird was staring intently at me, while it fluffed its wings and settled more firmly on the wooden perch.

Henry laughed and nodded. “That’s how you know you released something,” he said with a slight tease in his tone.

I glanced at him but kept my attention focused on the bird. It was still staring at me. It was a bit unnerving.

He added slyly, “When a bird comes to visit at just the right moment, you know it means more than it seems.”

This time, I looked at him directly. “You mean…?”

He nodded. “That’s a sign from your mom that she’s O.K. She’s telling you to stop punishing yourself and accept what happened. It was all in divine order.”

As the words fell from his lips and the meaning entered my consciousness, the seagull stretched its wings, preparing to fly. But just before it lifted off, it did something astonishing. It winked…at me!

“Did you see that?” I exclaimed with wonder in my voice. I could almost hear my mother laughing with me. I stood up and raised my arms wide, receiving the gift she had just given me.

The sun warmed my face and arms as I said, “Thank you!”

Henry grinned and joined me in the celebration. His arm hung around my waist as his other arm raised up. Together, we stood in open gratitude.

He turned and smiled into my shining eyes. His next words were simple, yet profound.

“Welcome to another moment of life!”

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

You are Never Alone


lyndsey-marie-438682My life has changed dramatically. Our only daughter is in college, I left my part-time job to work from home, and I now find myself by myself more than at any other time in my life.

Before this stage in my life, being alone was never a problem, mostly because it rarely happened. Between a busy career, raising a daughter, all of her activities (school, sports, etc.) and our family, being alone was usually not an option. Others came first, and I willingly played my part.

But now all of that busyness is over. In these quiet hours, working from home, I face loneliness. I’m afraid that I will discover myself as less than. Now that I can’t hide from myself, I can either jump into another job or see where this path leads.

I choose to stay…(read the rest of this post inside Medium).

(Medium is a great platform for bloggers to get noticed. If you liked this post, please clap. Leave a comment below if you posted an article in Medium and share the link, and I will return the favor).

Everyone Has a Backstory


Dear Back Story Human:

No one knows the other person’s backstory 100%. And most of the time, we never know the details of that person’s perspective or how they perceive the present moment.

Dogs don’t have this problem because we see the best in the person and don’t worry about their past. Humans hang onto their past and don’t see the person, as they are in the present moment.

That is why forgiveness is so important. You never forgive because the other person deserves it. You forgive because it releases you from the past and allows you to be present, right here. When you don’t forgive, you remain anchored to that painful event, and you miss all of the beauty and grandeur of the present moment.

Humans have been called “meaning making machines.” When something happens, you will create a story about that event. A story is the meaning that you assign to a situation, person or event about what it means to you. That story becomes the filter for the next moment.

Dogs love unconditionally, in the here and now. Dogs don’t know forgiveness, because to a dog, there is nothing to forgive. To a human, everything is a call to forgiveness.

Dogs stepped into the light of the campfire all those centuries ago to remind humans of a grander vision of life. We know how to live in bliss, happiness, and joy. Humans have forgotten, but with our help, you can remember and join us in the Heart Dance.

I know

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you tons,

Avatar

P.S.  If you have never started or been able to practice a daily meditation and journal ritual, I may have the solution. Click over to 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge and join their email list. You will receive a daily email with a short lesson, a meditation, journaling prompts and intention setting tools. It could be the start of a life-long journey!

What is Your Definition of Love?


 

let-love-leadShakespeare described love as a “many splendored thing,” which is like calling New York City a “place where a lot of people live.” Love is such an elusive concept that we are forced to look at the external ways we love to describe the internal emotion.

For example, how many ways is love defined on Valentine’s Day? Look at the messages that are posted on that day, and you will find phrases like, “I love you to pieces,” “You complete me,” or even a comparison with a beloved pet, such as “I love you as much as my dog loves me.”

What is it about love that is so hard to grasp? Instead of defining love from the outside-in, why not try a different approach?

A New Way to Look at Love

Take a moment and ask yourself, “What is my definition of love?” Write down the first thoughts that pop into your mind. You may have thought about something that someone did for you or an act of kindness that you gave to someone else. Look at what you wrote down and see if these words sprang from your mind.

The mind is influenced by the messages from the external world. Commercialism, consumerism, and consumption all create an impact on your definition of love. Don’t believe me? Take a look around, and you might spot these messages that are motivated by the need to buy:

“Buy this diamond ring to show her how much you love her.”

“Show someone how much you love them. Give them ______.” (the blank is filled in by what is being advertised).

“When you love someone, show them how much.” (the implication is to buy that product, and it will convey your love for you).

These are love’s definitions of the intellect or mind.

There is another way to see love. It comes from the quiet, still space inside, where words do not live. This space is where your knowing resides, that sense of connection to something much bigger than you. This is your being, your essence, the center of you.

Let’s try to discover your definition of love from that place of being.

Sit quietly, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Allow your body to sink into the chair and melt. Your mind quiets as you continue to breathe. When you are ready, allow the answer to “What is love?” to rise from your heart. Don’t question what comes up, just sit in receiving and continue to breathe.

You will know when you have your answer. In fact, it is that knowingness that you connect with each time you enter this calm, still space. See if you can’t feel the quality of that knowingness, the energy that fills up that space.

While you are in that energy, do you feel loved? Do you feel accepted? Do you feel whole and complete? The answer to these questions is obvious because this is the energy you came from, where you were created and where you will return once your body has finished doing its job.

Moving Forward

When you have connected to that knowing energy, love no longer needs to be defined. It simply is who-you-are. Love is your teacher and gently shows you how to navigate in the world. No longer of the world, you are aware of how much bigger a life you can live from love.

Love does not see with the eyes of judgment, doubt or fear. It does not hold expectations of others that cause you pain when those expectations go unmet. Love does not wait to give or receive. It just IS.

One way to stay in touch with the IS-ness of love is to meditate every day. Spend time in the still place within, and you will discover that you will show up differently in the outside world. No longer concerned about the opinions of others, no longer sensitive to being overlooked or not enough, your relationships and circumstances will change.

Make a note of how people respond to you differently. Those who are critical or judgmental will fall away because you are no longer accepting their negative energy. Doubt and fear of your own value and abilities are distant memories. You show up as a wholehearted, centered human being.

As you notice these differences in yourself, your relationships and your world, it will dawn on you:

When you become the embodiment of love, you are enough.

Because in the end, YOU are the definition of love! You are the one to express love to the world in the unique way that only you can accomplish. You are the embodiment, heart, and soul of love.

Bio:  A Mindfulness & Enneagram Teacher, Kathryn Eriksen has led the life of the intellect (as a lawyer) and discovered that happiness could not be bought, acquired or achieved. Please join Kathryn in a 3 day video course called “The Heart Dancing  Mini-Course” and become part of the Heart Dancing Tribe!

 

Ask This Question to Stay Present


I want to share something that happened on my way home from a women’s retreat. As I stepped on the plane, I stopped and glanced down the aisle. I was the last person in the A boarding group, so 59 people were already seated (this was Southwest Airlines, after all).

AirlineSeatsAs I looked at mostly bent heads of my fellow passengers, a question pop into my head that I had never considered before. It made all the difference in my awkward shuffle down the aisle, pushing my suitcase and balancing a heavy backpack on my shoulder.

The question I asked myself, just before walking down the aisle was, “Who is awake and aware?”

I passed many people who were looking down at their phone or other electronic devices. Not sure if they were aware of anything but the digital images dancing in front of their eyes. They certainly were not looking for anyone who was awake and aware, because they were closed in their own cocoon.

I kept pushing my suitcase, adjusting my backpack, looking for anyone who was awake and aware.

And then, it happened. From about 3 rows in front of me – I found someone! He looked directly at me, our eyes connecting for several seconds. I felt his presence, and I know he felt mine! There was an unseen but definite connection that occurred in that brief span of time. Human being to human being.

What a gift to bring to such a mundane activity! It kept me present, in the moment, and completely free to find the perfect seat. It was amazing how alive I felt just being in this simple practice.

I have decided to make this a game that I play in crowded spaces. The shopping mall, the airport, even at a gas station. How many people can I discover who are awake and aware?

There is a subtle shift in my energy when I ask this question. I am more aware of my fellow humans, and I connect with them on another level. I feel almost instant recognition when I do find another person who is awake and aware. The cool thing is that I can see that immediate recognition in their eyes too!

Please join me in this game. As you look for people who are awake and aware, you will experience being awake and aware yourself. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Post your experiences here for all to enjoy!

 

 

Let. Love. Lead


let-love-lead

Today is Valentine’s Day, the time we set aside to honor love, relationships and trust in something more than we can experience with our five senses.

Where do you find that something more?

In your heart space. Your Anahata. The energy of Anahata recognizes that we are part of something larger, that we are interconnected within an intricate web of relationships extending through life and the universe.

Heart Dancing is living from this space – this energy. Love and compassion naturally flow through you as you see the world with eyes of acceptance.

You may be drawn out of your heart space by external events or internal stories that trigger a defensive reaction. In those moments, remember that Love is always present, even in the most dense circumstances.

Let. Love Lead.

It’s the mantra for all Heart Dancers and the song of all dogs who are in love with their masters.

When you forget, your dog will remind you. Anyone with a close relationship with a dog knows that they live 100% from their Anahata  – their heart space. Love pours forth unconditionally, non-judgmentally and freely. Your dog does not hold back because he is worried or afraid – he gives completely and without hesitation.

Kathryn Eriksen is the creator of Heart Dancing, a way of life that joins the practical with the formless. Drop the Leash is her latest book that teaches us how to live – from a dog’s perspective. Learn more at KathrynEriksen.com.

This Song Called Life


Life is the deep current moving through everything that is born, lives and dies. It is the energy of the Universe, circling through it all, weaving a silken thread of connection between the living and the unseen. Life is what unites us during our experiences inside time and space.

the-song-of-lifeWhat is the Song of Life?

You know it when you allow yourself to feel it. It has no language of its own, no agenda to achieve. It just is.

Allowing the Song of Life to play can be a challenge. As humans, we want to mold Life in our image, shifting and turning it to fit our expectations and desires. But Life is immutable, indestructible and illusive to control.

We want to write the music when our role is to dance.

So what are we to do with the Song of Life? How do we manage our desire to control with Life’s innate ability to slip away in unpredictable directions?

You surrender to the energy that is greater than you.

You allow the Universal energy to flow through your life, guiding you with gentle nudges and subtle clues.

You accept that you are part of Life, but Life is bigger than you. You did not create Life. Life created you.

Once you shift your relationship with Life, an interesting process happens. Your fears, anxieties and concerns drop away. You can’t control Life, so why worry about the drama your mind created to separate you from Life?

Another benefit to releasing control is that you see others from a different perspective. Instead of judging their words or actions, you see through the lens of grace. You assume that they are doing the best they can in this moment of their awareness. And you hold the space for them to experience Life, through you.

As you allow Life to flow through you in this human form, you recover your connection to the Universe. It was there all along, but your desire to control set up a barrier. That wall is gone and you now begin to hear the hymn of the angels.

Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Breathe in the song of Life. Breathe out your expectations, judgment and concerns. Repeat and step into your greatness as Life’s dance partner, knowing you are safe, protected and loved. Allow the song of Life to lead you and you will never lose your way again.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance 🙂