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!

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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!

 

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!

 

 

Fact v. Interpretation – Does it Matter?


little-girl-759x675What was your first thought when you saw this photo? Did you feel a tug on your heart because the girl seems sad or lonely? Did the scene remind you of something in your childhood? Or did you decide that the girl is expecting someone to arrive and she is patiently waiting?

Whatever your first thought, the fact remains that this is merely a photograph of a young girl staring out a window. Nothing more, nothing less.

In the absence of data, we create meaning.  – Brene Brown

In the absence of data, our minds are wired to jump in and create a story about what is in front of us. It’s the way we protect ourselves, by injecting meaning into data that would otherwise be without context.

The meaning we attach to data is heavily influenced by our past, our beliefs and our current emotional state. These layers of perspective can ebb and flow from moment to moment, causing confusion and disrupting our focus and our relationships.

We interpret neutral facts to fit our worldview.

Has the following ever happened to you?

One morning, when I opened my work emails, I felt a surge of anger as I started reading a message from a colleague. I was in charge of an important project, and she was offering her unsolicited advice while copying my boss. We had been at odds before since we were on the same level in the company and we were both ambitious and competitive.

To say that I was not happy is an understatement.

Instead of taking a moment to calm myself and allow the strong emotion to pass through me (studies show that it takes up to 90 seconds for an emotion to run its course), I stormed down the hall to her office. I was ready for a confrontation and adrenaline was pumping through my body. My breathing was shallow, my muscles were tense, and my brain was in fight mode.

Bring it on sister!

Fortunately for me, I was stopped by another colleague who was a bit older and who knew me well enough to see the signs of an impending confrontation. He pulled me into his office and made me sit down. Without saying a word, he sat behind his desk and took several deep breaths.

I was not about to lose my mojo. I got up to leave, but he motioned for me to sit. As I looked at him, I found myself mimicking his breathing and felt the charge leave my body. After several seconds, he raised an eyebrow and invited me to share what was going on.

I learned a lot that day about myself and the dangers of interpretation. I avoided a harmful confrontation that would have had potentially drastic consequences on my career. I also discovered that just because I felt something strongly does not mean that the feeling was accurate. Interrupting the flow of emotions long enough to calmly evaluate the situation saved me from an embarrassing incident.

There is always thought before the emotion. Emotions do not rise by themselves. They rise because a thought, belief or interpretation has triggered the emotion.

Let’s put all of this together.

We know that in the absence of data, we create our own meaning, based on our worldview (remember the story you created about the little girl in the photograph?). We also know that there is always thought before emotion.

So what happens when we misinterpret the situation, motive or event and then act on the resulting feeling? It never ends well. The other person does not share our worldview and probably will not understand the depth of emotion we display. Animosity, mistrust, and conflict are possible results.

Unless we learn to recognize when we have entered the zone of emotional reaction, which causes your body to tense and our brain to scream, “I can’t take this anymore!” Become aware of your own sequence, interrupt it with mindfulness techniques and then reassess the situation before acting.

To learn more about these techniques that you can use immediately, please schedule a 15 minute appointment with me: Click HERE. I offer personalized meditations and coaching, as well as in-person training (in the Dallas/Fort Worth area).

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!