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.

IMG_2552

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!

The Wonder of Being Human


I am 30,000 feet above the earth, thinking about a movie that I just watched. It touched me in a way that hasn’t happened in a while.

I have always felt a strong affinity for the lonely ones, the outcasts, the overlooked. It’s probably because I was one myself.

So often, the need to belong is stronger than the will to be kind. But when a person looks inside and chooses kindness over belonging, everyone grows and evolves.

That’s why the movie called “Wonder” was so meaningful. A birth defect made Auggie look hideous. His features are misshapen, he is small for his age and a prime target for bullies. But the kids who learn to see behind the mask discover his goodness and light.

We all wear masks to protect our vulnerability. We learn from an early age that hiding our true self is the way to get along, be accepted and belong. We see what we believe and we act accordingly.

Until something breaks through our mask. Or someone sees us – really sees us. Then, the mask shatters and the light behind our eyes connect. Because we are all the same light. We just have different forms.

Imagine

Imagine if all humans could see themselves for the wonder that they are. Beings in human form, experiencing life in each moment. What might spring from that one simple shift in perspective?

o Judgment and criticism wouldn’t be necessary. How can you judge another for you are the same?

o Racism, discrimination and violence wouldn’t be necessary. For how can you harm another when you are the same?

o Competition would be replaced by collaboration; Jealousy and hatred would dissolve into love;

Imagine your own life if your closest loved ones knew who they are and saw you as you are. A unique expression of divine energy. Differences would be celebrated and passions elevated.

That is the wonder of being human. “Wonder” portrayed these concepts on the big screen.

My 30,000 foot view of the world has shifted. I am in love with myself, my life and every person on the planet. Because love is who we are.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

Start with Yourself


nicolas-tissot-435976

There are absolute truths about the human experience that never change, no matter what century you live in or what culture. These truths are immutable, immeasurable and impossible to ignore.

One of these truths is that to change the world, you must first change yourself.

In the Crypts of that grand cathedral known as Westminster Abbey, on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop inscribed in 1100 A.D., are these words:

When I was young and free and my imagination

had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.

As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world

would not change, so I shortened my sights some

what and decided to change only my country.

But it too seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, In one last desperate

attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those

closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my death bed, I suddenly realize:

If I had only changed myself first, then by example I

would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would

then have been able to better my country and, who

knows, I may have even changed the world.

Don’t wait for the last moments of your life to know this truth. You can make a difference right now, in the very moment. Decide to change yourself and you will change the world.

Start with yourself.

What wild and crazy thing is calling to you? To go surf in Hawaii? To run the Paris Marathon? To climb a mountain?

Whatever it is, culture will try to stop you. The rules of the world seem to quash the very thing that makes us human — our spirit. Don’t let it quash you.

If your first thought is to denigrate yourself or your abilities, that is culture talking. You will not live your wild, best life listening to culture.

Just remember, that thing that is calling you…is pointing directly at you and saying, “It’s time. Walk away. Come play with me. You’ll see.”

That thing calling you defies reason and logic (more culture speak). It defines your deepest yearning, that person you were meant to be.

Start with yourself and you will discover that impossible truth that we must all face at some point in our lives. You are here for a reason and only you can express it to the world.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.

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!

From Head to Heart


Dear Head-Based Human:

When was the last time you spent 10 minutes outside, just enjoying nature’s activity around you? That thing you always carry with you was left inside, and all you had to do was to sit and watch the show. The more you paid attention, the more you noticed the bee buzzing around the flowers, or the caterpillar inching his way across a blade of grass.

Can you remember the last time you allowed yourself to just be, in the moment?

That, my friend, is the difference between dogs and humans. Dogs don’t think about being in the moment, we just are. You tend to think about your past or future so much that there is no present moment in your experience.

Staying in your head 100% of the time is something that humans get very good at, and are even encouraged to develop as a useful skill. The costs of head living are never discussed, only noticed when loneliness, frustration and a sense of worthlessness rise to unacceptable levels.

To be fully embodied, your head and your heart must be used. Each domain has its own language, and are part of a balanced and centered human.

Dogs know this instinctively. Humans forget.

That is when its time to just be in nature. Take several deep breaths and let go of your frustrations, doubt, and shame. You are a marvelous creation of nature; celebrate it!

Then go spend time with your dog. He will open up your heart again.

A shared heart connection

You can become the person your dog knows you are.

Tail wagging,

Avatar

P.S.  Why not check out my book, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present? It makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for the dog lovers in your life.

Call Me Forgiveness


Dear Has-To-Be-Right Human:

Have you ever thought about the cost you incur when you insist that your position or story is the right one, without any regard to the pain it may cause someone else?

No, I didn’t think so. Otherwise, why would you insist that you are right, even when it’s hurting the other person?

Because you have made being right more important than seeing with love.

The need to be right is what prevents you from forgiving in the moment. Dogs do this instinctively; humans…not so much.

Over my many lifetimes, I have collected a list of questions that will help you make a different choice. When you are in an argument or situation, and you know that you are pushing the “have-to-be-right” envelope, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I feeling right now? It is love or fear?
  • If I am feeling fear (or any of its cousins, anger, sarcasm, arrogance, etc.), why am I afraid?
  • What if I chose to love in this situation instead?

Your natural state is love. You knew this as a baby. Babies don’t hold grudges or fail to fall back in love once their immediate needs are met. Babies don’t have a need to be right (dogs don’t either). Then why do most adult humans forget how to fall back in love?

Because of their need to be right. It’s ego-based and separates you from everyone. Think about it – then use the questions to drop back in love.

Your dog can show you how.

In these days leading up to your big Heart day, I asked some friends of mine to help me remind you that you came from love, you are love, and you are seen.

Call me_Forgiveness._

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Hang in there,

Avatar

P.S. Why not check out my book, Drop the Leash: Let Go of the Past and Love in the Present? It makes a great Valentine’s Day gift for the dog lovers in your life.

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!