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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Mindful Focus – For Students in School and Students of Life


Mindful FocusMeditation

It’s the time of year when the specter of final exams is close enough to create a cloud of visceral fear that trails behind students. Test anxiety can grip the most dedicated scholar and ruin the end result of their month-long efforts.

When I was studying for the bar exam, I hit a wall of fear. I graduated from law school with respectable grades, had a great job at the firm I wanted and was ready to start my career. I had climbed the mountain and was ready to begin my next adventure.

But one thing stood in my way.

The Bar Exam. Just typing those words still causes my heart to race a tiny bit. It is a cruel joke on aspiring lawyers. Endure 3 years of law school, and you’re still not done. Graduate and receive your J.D. degree.

And you’re still not a lawyer.

The Bar Exam is the final hurdle. The last summit to conquer before you can practice law. You have a bit over two months to study (at least in my state), and you don’t know if you passed until four months later. You have already started your legal career, and your future career depends on passing. The first time.

To say that law graduates studying for the bar are under a bit of pressure is such an understatement I won’t even try to come up with an appropriate analogy.

Taking exams and staying calm under stress is an art and a science. When I was studying for the bar exam, I didn’t know how to stay centered, mindful and focused. I somehow managed to pass (Thank God).

I wish I knew then what I know now.

How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help You Focus

According to Jon Kabat-Zin, generally considered to be the “father” of mindfulness in the West,

Mindfulness is the moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a specific way, that is, in the present moment, and as nonreactively, as non-judgmentally and open heartedly as possible.

When you practice being in the moment, then the next, and the next, your experience of the moment is at its peak. The past no longer exists, and the future has not yet arrived. All that is important is the here and now, which you experience without judgment.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to live? Research studies have proven the physical, psychological and emotional benefits of mindfulness. Peace, calm, and compassion as just a few of the many ways that practicing mindfulness can change your life.

As a student, being mindful while you study can help you understand and remember the information. Setting the intention of focus, awareness, and memory before you study is the key. And the best way to do that is to listen to a guided meditation.

Meditation is one way to achieve mindfulness. By slowing down and watching your breath, you focus your attention on what is happening at this moment. Stress and anxiety cannot exist in this space. Your mind is clear, and when the meditation is over, that clarity will help you focus on the information you are learning.

It’s using your mind to improve your mind.

The Mindful Focus Meditation

Find a comfortable place to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Your back should be straight but loose. This meditation is less than 25 minutes, so give yourself about 30 minutes for the entire process. No interruptions (cell phones on mute, computer on mute) and no distractions.

Listen to this meditation in the morning as soon as you wake up. It will help you stay focused in class or when you are studying. If you listen again during the day or at night, it will ease anxiety and increase confidence in your ability to understand, remember and retain the information.

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

A New Way to Heart Dance


Instead of having guests on the Heart Dancing Radio Show, I decided to teach on various topics, using mindfulness concepts as a foundation. I also created guided meditations to support each lesson. The topics I chose to explore may seem random (money, fear of flying, and focus), but underneath each one lies a current of fear. And fear is what I want you to embrace and love.

As you dive deep into this information and incorporate the meditations into a daily practice, you will discover your interior world shifting and opening. You may also find that you are calmer, more peaceful and less reactive. Whatever the benefits are, please enjoy these next episodes made with my heart full of love and light.

Money Magic

The concept of money has been abused, judged and manipulated ever since it was first conceived. Money and power are forever linked together in cultural beliefs and patterns. Those with money have influence. Those without money are faceless and unimportant.

Where do you fall on the scale of money, importance and power? How does that make you feel about yourself? Are you afraid of money or what its disappearance could do to you?

I have had my own struggles with money and often fell into the trap of judging myself when my bank account balance was low. Punishing myself for my misdeeds (did I really need that pair of shoes) kept me from seeing the real issue I had with money. It was always based on fear and judgment.

Judgment and fear always cloud your view of yourself. Neither one helps you grow or evolve into a better person.

It wasn’t money’s fault that I indulged in buying impulsively. Just because my bank balance dipped dangerously low to being overdrawn wasn’t because of my lack of a making six figure income. Money was not treating me unfairly or shunning my efforts to become wealthy.

No matter how hard I tried to assign blame, it wasn’t money’s fault.

The outside forces that shaped my thoughts, beliefs and attitudes about money were just signposts on my journey. When I finally woke up and realized that the real journey happened in my interior world (shaped by my thoughts and beliefs), I regained my power of choice. From that point of power, I made different choices and changed my Money Story.

Fear is no longer an active force in my money relationship. I found another way to be with money and I want to share it with you.

The Power to Choose

When you look at your beliefs and attitudes about money, do they support your growth or encourage your fear? It is crucial that you identify what you believe so you can change them.

Cultural money myths and beliefs support the ideas of limitation, lack and competition. If you fail, fear becomes your companion. If you succeed, fear is still your shadow because you can always misstep. Money becomes the enemy and you are its victim.

There is a different way to be with money. Disregard the cultural myths around money and see it for what it is: ENERGY.

Money is simply the exchange of energy. When you use your debit card or cash to buy something, you are exchanging energy for something of value (which is also energy).

When you don’t have enough money for something you want, it’s because you don’t have that amount of energy to exchange. No guilt, shame or judgment. And definitely — NO FEAR!

If you want that thing badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to increase your energy levels to be able to enter into the exchange. Simple, right?

An easy way to remember that money = energy is this: MONEY is MOwn Natural Energy Yield. When you produce a service or product, that is your yield. When you pay with what you have produced, that is because of your yield. If your yield is less than what you want, then produce more. It’s all energy!

There is one more step in the process.

Mindfulness and Money 

Mindfulness is a way to reconnect with life by staying in the present moment. No judging. No expectation. Just pure and simple being.

Guided meditations clear the clutter of the mind, establish connection to a greater source and align your body, mind and spirit.

The combination of both of these practices, focused on the energy of money, creates a powerful synergy. Introducing: The Money Magic Meditation.

As you are guided into a deep place in yourself, you will see money from a new perspective.

This meditation should only be played when you are not driving or operating any kind of equipment. Ideally, you should be in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed for one hour. Have a journal or pad handy to make a note of the insights you receive during the meditation. What you may discover will surprise you!

Listen often and notice your beliefs and attitudes shift around the concepts of wealth and money. As you beliefs change, so will your actions. As you make different choices, your money story will grow and evolve. Almost like magic!

It’s just another step in the Heart Dance!

P.S. To learn more about me, please visit KathrynEriksen.com. Let’s dance together!

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!

 

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!