Kindness Is the Key


We recently spent a lovely week enjoying Paris, France. We only speak a smattering of French, but saying “Bonjour, monsieur” as soon as you walk into a shop or sit at a sidewalk cafe paved the way.

We were treated courteously, politely and distantly. The service was provided with a smile, but with very little personal connection. The language barrier created a ravine that was difficult to cross.

Enter kindness. Kindness showed up in small ways and rather impactful ways. Kindness bridged the ravine and connected us as humans, even though we did not speak the same language.  Allow me to share two examples.

Adventures in Traveling – By the Metro, Trains & a Car

We decided to take a day trip out of Paris to the medieval town of Chartres, home of the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Chartres. It should have taken an hour by train, but an electrical fire the day before prevented that train from running.

We were sent to a different Metro station, to catch the train to Versailles. Once in Versailles, we were told to take “Bus 409” to La Verriere, and then take the train to Chartres.

It all sounded so simple when we stepped off the train at Versailles. What we failed to consider was that we were not the only people inconvenienced by the cancelled train.

We stood waiting for the bus, until we realized that we needed to buy a ticket. Waiting again with more people than could ever fit on the next bus, it was an hour before we hit upon a solution.

Hire an Uber driver!

We mentioned this idea to a man and woman who were also frustrated with the wait. The man (Peter) was in his early thirties and spoke excellent English. The woman (Margaret) was older and didn’t speak a word. They managed to send for an Uber, but the car never showed up. That request was cancelled and a new driver appeared after another 45 minutes.

Of course, just as the Uber driver appeared, so did Bus 409! People jammed onto the bus, cramming into every conceivable space.

We all fit into the compact car, grateful for the air conditioning. We shared information about ourselves, our lives and our trip to Chartres. By the time we arrived in La Verriere, we were no longer strangers.

Once on the train, Margaret kept trying to tell me something. I finally understood that she was offering her iPhone charger to me, so I could charge my phone. Her thoughtfulness and sincerity were quite touching.

When we finally arrived at Chartres (after 5 hours!), we waived goodbye to our travel companions. Their kindness was the bridge to a wonderful travel adventure!

Waiting at the Airport

Another example of kindness being the universal language occurred at the Charles de eu-france-paris-charles-de-gaulle-international-airport-arrival-hall-FX8MA7Gaulle Airport, as we were waiting to check our luggage.

It was very chaotic going through the steps to check our bags. While we were standing in line, I noticed that we happened to be in the middle of a large family. The older man and woman in front of us were talking with their grandchildren behind us. It was all in French and we couldn’t understand a word.

The line did not move forward quickly and the children were beginning to get restless. Since we had more than enough time to reach our gate, I offered for the people behind us to join their family.

Surprise then gratitude lit up their faces. It didn’t matter that we were from different countries; kindness was given and received.

About five minutes later, the grandmother came up to me and touched my arm to get my attention. When I turned to look at her, she gestured for us to move in front of their entire group! They moved to each side, creating an aisle.

I felt like royalty as we thanked them for their kindness. The only thing missing was the red carpet!

Walking past these people made me realize again that kindness is truly the universal language. It bridges differences in language, culture and religion. It reminds me of a saying that we could all remember:

Kindness is Free

Be kind. It’s your free gift to another soul who may need it.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

 

 

The Light Changed Today


The earth spins silently around the sun, revolving from day to night then day in the eternal celestial dance. The sun shines on all parts of the earth equally, without reservation or discernment. It also shines on all humans equally, no matter their color, culture or creed.

There is a special place created by man in 1260 that filters the sunlight through pictures and stories. This building is actually the fourth one to stand on this site, all dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus. For more than 1,700 years, pilgrims have traveled to the Cathedral in Chartres, France to show their devotion to Mary and be blessed by her.

Pushing open the heavy wooden door and walking into the gloom of the interior, my eyes take a moment to adjust. Even thought I cannot discern details of the interior, I sense a vast space rising above me, seemingly to infinity.

Slowly, my eyes adjust to the gloom and I feel small, insignificant, in the face of so much space. What can hold me together so I don’t spin apart?

The stained glass windows. They hold the key to emptiness. They give meaning to my life, don’t they?

Sunlight from a zillion miles away filters through the glass, coloring the floor in colors of red, umber, green and gold. These pieces of color are assembled to tell the story of creation, destruction and the coming of the one who will save us from ourselves. The story of Christianity is told in these panes of glass, 1,100 of them.

It isn’t the minute details that fascinate me, but the sense of reverence that permeates the air. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have traveled to this spot to adore Mary, the mother of Jesus. They have walked these stones in their bare feet or with sandals that are worn through, taking one more step to reach their dream.

To see the Shroud of Mary that is encased in the far left corner of this magnificent Cathedral.

As I stand in front of the chapel, looking at the shroud, I can’t help but think of how many people have done the same thing. How many others have felt the energy of this simple piece of cloth that Mary wore while she was giving birth to Jesus?

The sunlight is filtered by the stain glass above the shroud. It filters the light through the stories told on its surface. It struck me that I was being educated by the people who created this art.

I continued to the opposite side of the Cathedral, passing several other alcoves and places of worship. Until I saw it on the floor, as if it were waiting for me.

A single beam of light, shining through a piece of clear glass. There were no stories filtering the light, just a clear opening for it to shine in all of its brilliance.

I stood in the pool of divine light and felt loved by God. In the place of a million stories (told in the stained glass and in the hearts of all who had ever set foot in this building), God found me. And he loved me, without my having to do anything but allow his love to flow into my heart.

The light changed for me in that moment. Accepting the gift, I now step forward. To join the celestial dance of love.

The Heart Dance.

When you know you are loved for who you are, not who you think you should be. When you know that you are enough, because you are loved for who you are. When you are seen and loved, just as you are, in this moment.

Why don’t you step into the pool of light unfiltered by stories, and join the dance?

I Touched Bali’s Heart Today


As I was absorbing the vertical farming of the Balinese rice fields, I heard a small voice behind me.

“Will you buy some postcards? It is for my school.”

The tone of the question drew me in. Plaintive, victimized and small, her voice called out for all the compassion I held. But I knew that this child, still dressed in her school uniform, was not a victim. Or small. Or needy.

You could see it in her eyes. Balinese embody the knowledge that they are worthy and loved. They stay in touch with the wisdom to see the truth of life.

We are all expressions of the Divine.

I gently said no to her and shook my head. Her voice followed me down the steps, trying to connect to my tourist spirit. As soon as my head dropped out of sight, I heard her voice return to normal, strong and confident.

As we continued down the stairs and descended into the valley, the terraced rice fields rose above us. Green, vibrant and active, farmers walked along the top of each level tending to their fields. Calm, centered and focused, they moved with the same pace, creating a mindful dance.

The tourists stood out among the farmers. People made their way along the terraces, but their energy was totally different. Hurried, determined and already thinking about the next stop, they took their pictures and asked, “What’s next?”

The farmers kept going, unfazed by the attention they received from foreigners. They were present, aware and awake. Nothing from the outside would disturb their centeredness.

We stopped at a small landing to rest for a moment. Two young girls were waiting to sell their postcards. I listened to their pleading voice and said no gently. Something promoted me to say what was in my heart.

I leaned down to their level and spoke to each one individually. I waited a moment for them to settle, then looked into their lovely, dark brown eyes. We connected. I felt it in my body and my heart opened in appreciation.

“You are beautiful,” I said spontaneously. I kept repeating it. “You are beautiful.” We continued to stay connected and the words flowed out of my heart.

“You are beautiful.”

Suddenly, instead to saying it to these lovely girls, I was saying it to myself.

“You are beautiful.”

Tears came to my eyes as I drank in that message. These beautiful souls reflected that message back to me and I saw it in the depths of their eyes. Time stood still in acknowledgment and I felt whole, healed and complete.

I put my hands in prayer position and bowed to them. They graced me with their beautiful smiles and I felt as if I had touched the heart of Bali.

We finished the climb down and admired the fields. On the way back up, following a line of tourists, I turned the corner and saw them again. They were working the crowd, but when they saw me, the charade immediately dissolved and they became themselves.

“You are beautiful!” Their high voices rang out across the valley as I celebrated with them. “You are beautiful!” Smiling and laughing, we shared the secret of
Bali.

Every person is a beautiful expression of God. When that knowing becomes your anchor and foundation, your life transforms. You return to your center and your heart opens to the beauty and majesty of life.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

Here to Serve


Dear Ego-Based Human:

One of the significant differences between dogs and humans is the mental construct called “Ego.” Humans create their egos, and it is the single, most destructive psychological device that leads the most people away from themselves.

What is Your Ego?

Your ego is the image of you have yourself. It is your social mask, the face that you show to the world. Ego is concerned with the preservation of itself and causes separation and discord. You know when your ego is talking when:

  • You are caught in circling thoughts;
  • Your emotions are the lens through which you interpret and judge the world;
  • Your worth is dependent on events, people or things outside of you; and
  • Your attempt to control or manipulate events, people or things to validate yourself.

Dogs don’t have egos. We know we are love on four legs and we are here to love in every moment. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is for us; you as a human have to end the war with your ego and reconnect with your soul.

What is Your Soul?

Your soul is the Source of Unconditional Love. It is the bridge between your humanness and your beingness. It never changes, cannot be destroyed and will always be part of who you are.

When you spend time in stillness, silence, meditation or journal writing, you are reconnecting with your soul. When you walk in nature and feel a presence surround you that flows through all living things, you are in touch with your soul. When you listen to your intuition and don’t question its advice, you are aligned with your soul.

The easiest way to tell if you are living from your ego or your soul is to check in with your feelings. Are you feeling constricted, limited, fearful or judgmental? You are listening too much to the seductive voice of your ego. When you only concentrate on what is good for you, it’s your ego.

Your soul work is the exact opposite. Feelings of expansiveness, abundance, love, and light always accompany soul work. Putting the welfare of others before yourself and serving others are beacons of soul work.

Remember that you are love on two legs. See the world from your love perspective, and your life will change forever. When you are love, you freely share your energy with others, serving them instead of your ego. When you share your soul place (the home of love), you open yourself to receive. It’s a never-ending cycle of love energy that you choose in every moment.

And as a last resort, spend time with your dog. He can help you restore your relationship with your soul.

Love is my middle name2

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you to the moon and back!

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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,

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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.

Stop Rolling Over and Playing Dead


Dear Beautiful Human:

I was called to write these messages because it’s time for you to stop rolling over and playing dead. When a dog takes this pose, it’s considered cute. When a human lives this way, it’s a tragedy.

Dogs are unique because our purpose is to show you how to live in love. How to be love. We may walk on four legs, instead of two, but any dog you ask will tell you that he knows more about love than any human he has ever met.

Have you been watching and listening? Or do you spend your time regretting decisions you have made or worrying about what may happen?

When your inner world is calm, you see your life differently, you speak more thoughtfully, and you act with integrity. You show up more authentically and respond, instead of react, to your outside world.

And that makes all the difference.

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.

Isn't it timeto stoprolling over and playing dead_

You can be the person your dog thinks you are.

Love you loads,

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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!