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.

Advertisements

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!

 

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!