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!

The Heart Space – A Love Story


When inspiration strikes, don’t hesitate.

That has always been my maxim, the standard I use to I move forward in my work.

Inspiration hit me today. Because I was moved to create a story about discovering a new way of living, I wrote the first Chapter of The Heart Space – A Love Story. And for some unknown reason, I felt compelled to record it as an audio book.

I am no stranger to the mysteries of creativity. In today’s world, we can instantly share our creations, whether they are worthy or not. This instant delivery always leaves me in a quandry. Should I post what I created or wait for a better time?

As soon as I finished the recording of Chapter One, the decision was already made.

Post it. Immediately.

So without any further introduction, without any additional preparation, I give you the first chapter of The Heart Space – A Love Story.

Love & Light,

Kathryn

P.S. Hopefully, inspiration will strike me again to continue writing this story. There are so many ideas I want to share with you. Please comment below if you felt something stir inside you as you listened to the audio.

What Can a Grasshopper Teach You About Life?


Moving through a milestone birthday sparks introspection, analysis and hopefully, forgiveness of yourself and others. The stories you created about past events and the people involved shaped your idea of self. These are the stories through which you filter reality.

When you step back and look at these shaping stories from a different perspective, you suddenly realize that they are no longer true. You have grown past the limiting stories from your childhood or young adulthood, and you didn’t even realize it!

That is the wonder of a milestone birthday. You assess the past to curate the present to create a different future.

What About the Grasshopper?

tobias-knauer-739430-unsplashYou may be wondering when I am going to explain the title of this article. Stay with me and it will become crystal clear.

One way I continue to experience the growth of my self is to read inspirational stories, books or poems in the morning. A poem by Mary Oliver that landed in my inbox this morning is what prompted me to write this post:Grasshopper

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What a great question to ask at any age, but especially when moving through a milestone birthday!  My answer: to stay awake and aware of the wonder and majesty of everything around me, to allow God’s love to flow through me into the world, and to grab hold of inspired action and see where it takes me.

What’s your answer to that question??? Makes you think, doesn’t it?

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance.

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!

 

 

Time Is a Blessing or a Curse


Paris is a city that embodies its history. Century old monuments stare down at snarling traffic; historic bridges span the Seine connecting the left and right banks; everything happened either before or after the French Revolution in 1789.

It’s what I love about Paris.

Time seems to stand still in many areas of the city. The small groups that gather along the Seine in the shadow of Notre Dame to enjoy the cool evening breeze are one example. The grand cathedral has been a gathering place for more than 850 years.

The enormous clocks that adorn the top of the Orsay Museum capture this idea perfectly. Roman numerals are used for each position on the face, and the center of the clocks are clear.

Look closely at these people – can you tell if they are young or old? Teens or adults? The silhouette of each person reminds me that a moment in time can be captured with a click, but time continues to move forward.

We can’t stop the flow, we can only grow and learn from the experience.

Look at this photograph again. Can you see through the clear glass to what lies beyond? It’s the Ferris Wheel that operates in the Tuileries Gardens, just outside the Louvre. It’s another example of how Paris adds a bow on top of centuries of history.

And to think that we see it through 19th Century glass that has stood the test of time (as well as marking it)! Ironic, don’t you think?