Hong Kong


Sitting in the back of a taxi, gripping the door handle as we plunge into the next curve, I wonder what am I trying to prove. A middle-age, white woman by herself in Hong Kong. Traveling to see the Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.

Then we round a corner and I see our path around the side of the mountain. The ocean spreads out beneath our feet and I know why I came.

To step out of my comfortable life and experience more…of Life.

This trip was a bit impulsive. Traveling to the other side of the world should not be taken lightly, but I have been bitten by the travel bug. It produces illogical impulses that prompt you to say “Yes!” to invitations to attend a Bali retreat.

And that’s how I find myself in Hong Kong, on a short stay before I fly to Bali.

The taxi driver is kind and speaks a bit of English, but he’s busy driving on the narrow, two land road attached by a sliver of land to the mountainside. I keep repeating my favorite mantra, “I am safe. I am forgiven. I am loved. I am love.” These words calm my anxious mind and I surrender to the moment.

We drive through several villages, colorful bits of clothes fluttering the wind from the apartments that line the road. Signs in Chinese and English, Coca-Cola logos on every storefront. The world has shrunk when the logo of an American company appears even in a remote village on Lantau Island.

When we reach our destination, the driver points the way to the Monastery and waves good bye. I realize that I am alone and a long way from home.

The Big Buddha

The wide walk up to the grounds of the Monastery are completely empty. As I turn a corner, the Buddha appears, shrouded in clouds and mist.

The gates do not open until 10:00 a.m., so I had two hours to enjoy the Monastery. Big Buddha would still be there.

As I continued to walk deeper into the grounds of the Monastery, several people passed me, hurrying toward a destination in front of us. They were soon followed by more men and women, all in a rush to be somewhere.

Curious, I followed them to an inner courtyard surrounded by small temples. A larger one dominated one end, and there were three bowls set at the base of the stone steps. Inside each bowl was a Buddha statute. As I stood back and watched, every person who was in such a rush, paused at each bowl, bowed and then ladled the Buddha three times in a ritualistic manner.

After the last person finished, I walked up to read the sign that explained this practice. The ritual of washing each statute was symbolic of being washed.

As I was deciding what to do next, a low, deep noise seemed to rise up behind this temple. Since more people were going around this building to something on the other side, I decided to follow.

The noise became chanting, punctuated by gongs and chimes. I soon learned it was the daily ceremony inside the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Out of respect for the Monastery, I did not take a picture of the hall. Words cannot describe the majesty of this space. I will try to give you a sense of what I experienced.

Golden light shone from the five Dhyani Buddhas, which were located along the back of the hall. People were seated in rows, chanting with the monks and repeating their words. The walls were carved in small squares, each containing a Buddha statute. Golden pillars supported the ceiling, which was elaborately painted in a rainbow of colors.

There were two trees with benches around them, just outside the Grand Hall. I sat down and let the chanting and energy wash over me. My eyes closed and I felt myself open to the moment.

And I had not even seen the Big Buddha yet!

Soon it was time to walk up the 200+ steps to the statute. At the top, a round plaza surrounds the statute and provides a great view of the harbor.

There is a museum inside with scenes depicting the Buddha’s life. What I found fascinating was the commemoration of the statute. This is part of the speech that was given at that time.

I also walked on the Wisdom Trail. By now, the humidity and heat made the day steamy, but I wanted to see this part of the grounds. It was worth the trip.

Each of these wooden poles contains a portion of the “Heart Sutra,” described below. There are 38 poles, arranged in the shape of the infinity sign.

It was time to leave the Monastery. Big Buddha was not changed by my visit, but I certainly was different. A new sense of freedom, purpose and gratitude became my mantle as I returned to my hotel.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

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Moon Magic


Today, May 15, 2018, marks the new moon. A day of beginnings and new adventures. A day of stepping into the unknown.

Even if you think you know exactly how your day is going to unfold, there are uncontrollable forces that can tip over your expectations.

Your coffee spills on your work clothes.

There is an accident on your way to work (or you have an accident, even worse).

Your boss decides to check on that long term project that is not quite where you want it.

How do you show up in these situations? Do you react or respond? Can you feel when your body’s stress response is triggered and do you know how to interrupt that pattern?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I may have a way to help you discover more about yourself.

Moon Magic can Help

The moon orbits around the earth in a set, predictable pattern. It appears to grow and then disappear, but we know that it is still there, silently being the moon. Whether we can see it or not.

The moon is always itself. It cannot (and does not) try to become something else. It is what it is and it does what it does.

There is a part of you that is the same. Eternal. Unchanging. An integral part of the whole.

That piece of you is where your moon magic waits. The only way to access it is to be still, calm and meet it face to face.

Where do you find that silence? By meditating.

Meditation is as hard as you make it. If you believe it’s hard, it will be. If you believe that the point is to stop thinking, you will never be a meditator.

The magic of meditation is in the letting go. Let go of expectations. Let go of achievement or conditions. Let go of your small self to remember your real self.

Meditate Daily to Become Like the Moon

Set an intention before you meditate. Use the moon as a celestial template. Serene, peaceful, steady. When you enter your day, use these attributes of the moon to guide your day. If you are triggered, your breath will lead you back to your self.

If you have never meditated before, why not join my 21 Day Heart Dancing Challenge? It takes 15 minutes a day and will support you in creating and following a daily meditation practice.

Today, as the new moon begins another cycle, you can step into a new cycle of your own. A place where your authentic self emerges. A state of being that holds true no matter what is swirling around you. A peace and knowing that you are safe and loved.

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.

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).

What Makes You Come Alive?


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.  – Howard Thurman

It’s the year-end, and you may not be happy with how 2017 treated you. You may have started setting your goals for 2018, determined to have a better year.

Instead of being regretful, frustrated and angry at the world, why not try a different approach?21 Day Challenge

It’s the 21-Day Heart Dancing Challenge. Designed to help you create a daily mindfulness practice, it also will change your perspective on yourself, your life, and your place in the world.

Don’t believe me? Nothing I say will convince your intellect that a daily mindfulness practice brings more peace, happiness, and joy in your life. The skeptic in you will always resist. The cynic that loves to snicker at these concepts is probably having a field day right now.

I can’t fight your skeptical or cynical voices. They’re in your head, not mine.

What I can do is throw down a challenge. Join the 21-Day Heart Dancing Challenge, establish your daily practice of meditation, journaling, and intentional creation. If you have faithfully completed each day’s work, and you still don’t believe in the power of daily practice, I will publicly acknowledge that you were right.

On the other hand, if you find at the end of the challenge that you have changed and feel more alive, then we both win.

Do we have a deal?

Mind the Gap


When I was in London, England this past summer, we rode the tube to get to different parts of the city. When you enter from the street level, you had to take an elevator down several stories, then stairs to the proper platform. It was quite easy to navigate (since all the signs were in English) and a great way to get to different parts of the city.

The first time I stepped from the platform onto the train, an announcement was made to “Mind the Gap.” The British accent made the phrase seem rather quaint, and I really didn’t think much about it. But after I heard that announcement for the nth time, I finally realized that it meant so much more than being careful stepping over the gap between the platform and the train.

“Mind the Gap” is a great way to remind yourself to pay attention to your thoughts, and redirect them inside that gap between one thought and the next.

The gap between your thoughts is where your power lies to change your life!

You see, I am a Mindfulness teacher, author and speaker. The thread that ties all of my work together is this: we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Mindfulness reminds us to stay connected to the present moment, the only place where our beingness exists. From the present moment, we move forward authentically, guided by our intuition instead of old, limiting stories that may not be true.

To celebrate our ability to choose this moment to be happy, I have created daily mindfulness moments, called “Mind the Gap.” Won’t you join me in celebrating mindfulness, one day and one moment at a time?  Just click below 🙂Mind the Gap (3)

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!