Wednesday, November 5, 2014


"Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom." ~ Rumi
For the first time ever, or that I can recall anyway, as I stare at the wilted, frozen, dead flowers and plants in the pots on my deck and I look up at the trees that were rich and vibrant in their autumn hues of oranges and golds just a week or so ago and are now nearly barren, stark, colorless, and cold I'm feeling a deep, deep sadness and grief. I feel as if I somehow failed in protecting them and keeping them alive even though I know they've done their part, I've done mine, and they must go through their own natural cycle of life and death. I remind myself I can't save anyone or anything but myself. I remind myself spring always follows winter.
Normally, I go with the flow of the seasons and of letting go, of death and darkness and trust in rebirth with a knowing acceptance, appreciation and respect for the cycles of change. I will get there again in time but for now I'm acutely aware of how deep the well of grief is that I feel around loss and heartbreak of hopes and dreams right now, collectively and personally. Most assuredly, on the heels of the mid-term election and the "red wave" across the country and my own state choosing to continue to be run and destroyed from the inside out through extreme right wing governing, the politics of our country causes me deep despair. This despair is not because I need to be right or be in power or fight against another to prove myself. I don't want to fight anybody. This is because I love and care deeply for my family, my fellow man, for our country, for our earth and for our children and the generations yet to come. I'm deeply concerned about how far to the extreme right we've gone and what consequences we will suffer as we go from here until we finally reach a breakthrough. Yes, breakdowns lead to breakthroughs. We are still breaking down and the breakthrough could be our total demise. Time will tell where we go from here and how or if we will survive it. Those who insist on living in fear, choosing greed and power for power's sake, and casting the blame on the innocent are now in charge and there will be no one to point their fingers at any longer. They will be pointing back at themselves and their fists of power will be self-imploding. I take no pleasure in that. I don't need someone else to fail in order to create success. But there are those who only know that way. I will do the only thing I can do which is continue to stand strong for what I believe in which is "humanity, love and peace".
The breakdown of our world, of our country, of families and society, of our physical bodies, of our planet earth...all of it seems to be crashing in at once in my heart and soul and around me and for the first time ever the harbinger of winter feels ominous, disheartening and heart-breaking. I don't think I've ever really grieved for winter and all the beauty and hopes and dreams that die with it. But death is real, it happens every day and grief and grieving cleanses the soul of the loss and pain of death. I guess it's my time and my turn to grieve. Perhaps it's our time to grieve again as a nation. Marianne Williamson said this today and it hit home for me: "Note to progressives: Don't panic. Grieve. Only then can we discover what really went wrong and gain the wisdom to make things right." So grieve I shall. If I don't it will just get stuck in my heart and I will become bitter and it will get hung up in my throat and I will lose my voice completely. I've worked too long and too hard to move past fear, to finally open my heart and speak my voice. There's no turning back for me, no matter how broken-hearted I am. As our Native Americans have said in their great wisdom, "The soul would have no rainbows if the eyes had no tears". Surely my tears will help build a rainbow. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If not now, when?

I turned 60 on September 8th and I've been celebrating since the 20th of August. Some of you followed this journey with me on my Facebook page and know that it began with a gift offered to me ~ a solo ocean retreat in a lovely, private condo on Longboat Key, Florida. This was a long-standing, open invitation I'd been given from a dear friend that, for many reasons, I'd never been able to give myself permission to accept. I love birthdays and I'd never had issues with any of my other "decade" birthdays but this one was different. I felt the weight of it hit me hard at the start of the new year - "omg, I'm turning 60 this year" and I had been lost in deep reflection from that moment on. As it came closer and I felt into the urgency of the passage of time, regrets and uncertainties that was consuming me as well as the depths of my exhaustion, I couldn't stop thinking about my friend's offer. It seems the universe was listening and guiding. Without my prompting she reached out to let me know some dates were open in August or October. I felt the usual overwhelm of traveling and guilt take over and yet I also knew I had to pay attention. 

"If not now, when?"

Indeed that was the million dollar question underneath all the angst and heaviness with this life review on the threshold of 60 years. 

"What have I done with my life so far? What is left to do? Will I do it? Am I doing it? What the hell is mine to do? What am I waiting for?"

I had no answers except this: "Just be you. Have more fun. Laugh more. Love more. Love yourself more. Live in the here and now. Just be you."  

Ok. Clique and easier said than done but this heaviness about turning 60 is all about facing my mortality and not wasting precious moments dwelling on the past or the future but being fully present right now, so... 

If not now, when, right?

That meant I had to let go of all logic, all guilt, and cast my fate to the wind. I silenced my judging, fearful, ego-mind just long enough to reach out to my girlfriend to discuss the dates she offered. Not surprisingly, everything started to just fall into place. With her encouragement and my husband's, I said yes, and I booked my flight. 

The ever increasing anxiety, doubts and negative self-talk I felt and heard inside as the time came closer and closer for me to leave felt a lot like how it often feels when I've said yes to surrendering to a shamanic breathwork or a healing intensive that my ego knows will be a game changer for personal transformation. The mind is a terrible master and the ego does not want me to change because it knows it will lose its place in its hierarchy of power when I do. I couldn't have imagined what magic and healing was waiting for me on the other side of that ocean retreat; my first "real" vacation in so many years I've lost count and the first one ever ALONE. No work, no training, no family, no responsibilities to anyone or anything; just the ocean, nature and me. No wonder my ego was worried! It would prove to be a turning point for me to deepen and embrace a change of perspective that I've understood intellectually for a long time and touched into in my heart a time or two but one that lingers and lurks hidden in the dark shadows of a harsh inner judge and sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Once I was all alone and quiet, with nature reflecting me back to me all around me, I finally found the inner peace to answer some of the questions I was asking of myself. The mere fact that I could be alone with myself like this and be completely content was evidence enough for me to see myself in a new way, appreciate who I am, where I've come from, what I've done, what I've not done, and relax into the "not-knowing where I'm going" place that can so often send me into fear and hopelessness. The threshold I crossed was the fear of being alone, the illusion of feeling separate, and the angst that "it's too late" and I relaxed into the deeper heart-mind space of love and truth that "I'm right on time".

I could be completely alone with me. I could just be me. It was enough.

I was enraptured and in complete awe of the beauty and power of the ocean and the interconnectedness of nature and the elements. I blogged each day with photos and short stories or blurbs on my Facebook page. I was filled up. It was almost too much beauty and magic for me to contain and I believe we're here to inspire and remind each other of the magic and the beauty that surrounds us every day yet is so easily taken for granted. Doing so also helped me integrate the experiences each day which were very deeply personal, symbolic, shamanic, and healing for me. So I took a little time in the morning or at the end of each day to write and share. I hope to eventually gather all my photos and writings and put them into a scrapbook form, in one place, so I can appreciate the bigger picture of it, but for now it's still weaving together in bits and pieces, moments and memories, re-telling its story, and you're meeting me right here, right now, slightly on the other side of 60. 

I'm really missing the ocean today but I know it's deeply embedded in my cells now and I find I can just close my eyes and I'm there. It feels fitting (and it was unintentional) that I'm finally posting this blog today, exactly one month from when this all began. Yes, it's a long blog - it's really two blogs in one - and it's taken me a week to come to grips with that and not hold back. It's hard to contain a month of magic around a milestone passage in life into just a few short paragraphs. Well, at least it is for me! I've been obsessing over it but today it's clear, it's time to just release it and let it go.

What follows below is a copy of my writing from earlier this week with my thoughts and a few pics of this month-long celebration of crossing this magical threshold of age, hopefully having done so with some grace and a little wisdom on the side ...
Kundalini Sunshine on the Ocean Green & Blue

9/16/14 ~ "Just slightly on the other side of 60"

My 77, soon-to-be 78 year old, spunky Mama Gayle hit the road headed back to ND this morning and with her departure I feel the energy around my 60th birthday settling down now. It’s been almost a month of celebration for this milestone birthday and even though I believe every day is meant to be a celebration, birthdays are that one special, personal holi-day that belongs to each individual soul. This has been the best and longest birthday celebration I’ve ever had!

So here I am at 60! Nothing fake or fixed except my hair color! I’m not ready to go white yet even though it’s been there in waiting for a really long time now! I’m proud of every wrinkle I have and grateful for every one that I don’t! I feel old and new, the same and different, all at once. 

A 10 day private/solo Florida Keys retreat/vacation with breathtaking sunsets, rainbows, storms, walks on the ocean beach, treasures of fighting conch shells rescued and returned to the sea, stones, blue heron, pelican and tern feathers, and shells to keep, dolphins swimming; magical sacred messengers from the land, sea and air, all set the stage for the best birthday ever. 

On day 7 my dear girlfriend arrived. After espresso's on the deck as we saloned in the morning with the sound of the ocean and dolphins feeding and swimming as our backdrop, and after I had my daily walk on the beach, she took me out in a fast and fancy sports car and wined and dined me in the best restaurants in the area. We had a spa day and we shared lots of heart to heart girl talk while also giving ourselves our own time and space to just be. I felt the bridge between worlds and the "both/and" expanding and deepening within me even more. I can be fully with me while in the company of others when I am at deep peace and content in being in relationship with myself. Here's a pic she took of me and captioned by her as we watched an exquisite sunset after a storm while waiting to dine in regal style at the infamous Beach Bistro.

Something changed deep within me during that time that I have no words for except to say that it was a “coming home” for me like I’ve never felt before. A photo collage using three of my photos from my ocean retreat, created and gifted to me by one of my best friends and photographer/artist with this caption captures the essence of it all beautifully:

"Dolphin watching, beach treasures and breathless sunsets. 
A mighty fine way to celebrate 60 trips around the sun". 

Three days after getting home from my ocean retreat my mom arrived. How blessed am I that my mom could be with me to celebrate such a milestone birthday. On my birthday I was showered with an abundance of beautiful, forever-blooming, fragrant flowers from family and friends (most are still in bloom a week later), a fabulously fun party, cards that roasted & toasted me, my baby books & scrapbooks passed on to me, special gifts commemorating my ocean retreat from my three besties, a faerie ring in my very own back yard with a full Harvest moon exact on my birthday, and FB birthday wishes galore! All this and more graced me on and around my birthday, including the joy of a wedding in our circle of lifelong friends and the heartbreak of loss and grief saying goodbye to two beloved family pets, all within 72 hrs. Yes. Life is like that. And being humbled by that and in awe and acceptance of that is what it’s like to be 60.

We all know age is a relative thing and whether 60 is the new 40 or 50 or whatever, is really beside the point. It’s really not about age at all. It’s about the acceptance that life happens, it is what it is, and it’s about how we show up for it. It’s about cultivating greater self-awareness, discernment of priorities and deal breakers, commitment to integrity and honesty, becoming more compassionate and staying humble and teachable as we stand in our courage and strength to face it all and continue to grow ourselves up no matter what. One thing is for certain at 60 - you really start thinking seriously and differently about life when you realize you’ve lived more years than you have left even if you live to be a hundred. That shifts one’s perspective very quickly. Life is ever-changing, ebbs and flows, dark and light, death and birth, no matter how old we are. I haven’t landed anywhere yet and I don’t believe I’m supposed to land anywhere. I’m here for the ride. There’s a whole new feel to this decade and I think/I hope/I believe/I have faith I’m ready for it. 

If not now, when?

I’ve decided one of two things happen at 60: we either accept and embrace it with grace and love and allow the flood gates (ie, our hearts) to open up even more or we resist it with fear, bitterness, judgments, resentments, regrets and close them. When we do the latter that’s when we start growing old.

I choose to keep the flood gates open and believe me it’s all been flooding in more than ever before. I can’t think of a better way to paint a picture of “life at 60” and answer the question "how does it feel to be 60" than to be in the throes of releasing, receiving, celebration, grief, gratitude, appreciation, connection, separation and opening the heart even more through love, laughter, joy and loss. In the space of 72 hours I experienced the loss of two beloved fur companions in the family, a wedding and my own milestone birthday. Being alone with the ocean and in nature for 10 days and becoming one with the ocean waves, ebbs and flows, storms, rainbows, sunsets, birds, shells, white sandy beaches and me, prepared me for this intense time. I simply rode the waves of all of it as it came, I still am and that’s what I’ll continue to do, one day at a time. That’s all that’s ever asked of us really. Just be present with what is, moment to moment, with humble gratitude and an open heart and willingness to grow from it all. There’s no past to dwell on; no future to worry about where we’re going. We never arrive anywhere really. As the saying goes, it’s the journey not the destination.

So one last toast and cheers to me at 60 and to you, whatever age You are! Here's to Us! Here’s to the journey! Thanks for being my companion. Together we make it happen and make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Make Peace With Yourself

Make Peace with Yourself

Today, in the intensity of this emotional Super Full Moon in Aquarius with its tense aspects to Saturn, I am feeling deep sadness. Underneath the layers of sadness (global and personal) are deep feelings of disappointment in myself...on all levels of life from the simplest every day task to a more global Aquarian (rising here) perspective of "how am I really contributing to this world"??? Yes, I know, I know. I know all the memes and spiritual platitudes. Most days they uplift me and some days they sound and feel flat, lifeless, and formless to me. I understand that the desire to be somewhere other than where I am is at the root of my core feelings of disappointment and sadness in myself. This is what the super moon is bringing up for me today. So I'm surrendering and allowing those feelings to be what they are, feeling it all, and doing more gentle, self-inquiry with an intention to remember to love myself through it even if it feels fake.

I went searching for some wisdom and comfort outside of my own head and by some sweet grace I found the beautiful picture above and quote below by Wayne Dyer from this blog site: 

Yes, it's more platitudes and nothing "new" yet somehow it still spoke to me, quite profoundly. The last paragraph was particularly poignant for me and brings me back to a place in my heart where I can remember to wrap my own arms around myself and appreciate who I am today and to let that be enough. Even in the depths of times of deep sadness and disappointment I am still able to reflect and say that "I am better than I used to be". How can that not be enough? So I am making that my mantra today for making peace with myself once again. It's not an instant cure; deep feelings need time to come and go. I trust that flow and take it in as a balm for a wounded soul. That is enough for today. For that I'm deeply grateful. 

~ By Dr. Wayne Dyer ~

"You cannot give away what you don't have. If you are not at peace with yourself you cannot give peace away. If you don't give peace away, you will never become an instrument of peace. Make the decision to forgive yourself for all your weaknesses and failures, to let go of your self-destructive guilt over past mistakes and know there was value in your journey through the dark night of your soul.

When you make peace with yourself you take a hard look at everything you have ever done and you remind yourself that you needed all those experiences in order to provide you with the energy to propel yourself to a higher spiritual frequency. Eventually you acknowledge that virtually every spiritual advance is preceded by a disaster of some kind, and that all of the unwanted events of your life were necessary. Why? Because they occurred, and there are no accidents in this intelligent system we call our universe.

If you are better than you used to be that is a reason enough to make peace with yourself. All the self-reproach, guilt, disappointment, self-hatred, and anger that you direct at yourself simply take you away from peace."

I am the rock. I am the water. 
I am the light. I am the dark. 

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Am I Worthy?

“Am I worthy of doing what brings me joy, pleasure, and a feeling of fulfillment?” This is where the rubber meets the road for me every. single. time.

After I wrote and published my last blog entry on “Embracing Destiny” earlier this past week I watched myself spin into judgment and give my inner critic the best seat in the house. This time it was not so much the usual judgment about the content or even how long it was. I’ve come to appreciate that some of the most successful and respected authors (in my opinion anyway) are very loquacious with thousands or millions of readers. I’m learning it’s really not about that at all even though it seemed that way because I’ve been criticized and felt rejected all my life because of it. The practice of writing this blog, even sporadically, seems to be helping me embrace my own innate loquaciousness without the inner critic being my first “commenter” with “TLDR” (too long didn’t read). ha! That’s progress. Facing the fear of being judged and silenced, feeling shamed and rejected by others was my intention for starting to write this blog. Hooray! I can almost give myself a gold star today! ;)

I was in a very inspired, uplifted state, feeling very excited and passionate when I wrote about embracing my destiny in becoming more fearless and the magic of divine timing. I’d stayed up into the wee hours of the morning writing the first draft and then re-visited it the next day with fresh eyes before final edits and the official publishing of it. It took a good part of my day to do that and that was when something deeper and darker began to emerge and reveal itself to me. After publishing it, I spent the rest of my day beating myself up for “wasting my day and not accomplishing anything”. I flashed on my blog knowing that this was where I’d “spent my time” that day. Wow. I took a step back and went into deep self-inquiry. I flashed on how much true joy I felt around what I’d experienced and how fun and freeing it was for me to write about it. It had come easily this time even though it was time consuming. I had given myself permission to feel my excitement and joy and to express it all in my own words with abandon. I even gave myself permission to put it out there without lingering fear, doubts or attachments. I was celebrating. And then I turned around and judged it all as a “waste of time”. Really?! Whoa. What is that really about?!? Why was all of that inspiration and joy now suddenly such a waste? The answers, more questions and an inner dialogue came quickly...

Because I did it for ME. Just for me.

Writing brings me pleasure. It’s a means of creative expression. It puts my world into perspective for me. When pleasure, creative expression, communication, connection and a new perspective all come together it’s magic for me. I feel happy, content, peaceful, fulfilled and “on purpose”.

Where is the value in that? Really?! C'mon now! Joy? Pleasure? Fulfillment? Of course there's value in ALL of that!

You stayed up too late and just wasted your day writing about it...

Ohhhh. I get it...(digging deeper)...this is "about me", isn't it?! This joy, pleasure, and fulfillment is about me, isn't it?!

Am I deserving of all of that? Where is the value in ME?

I have a million other excuses and answers but deep down this is it. This is the ROOT of it all. I got it in spades that day. This is “why” I hold back and don’t write for my blog when the inspirations come. This is why I don’t write my own songs. This is why I don’t pick up my guitar or play my harmonium or go to the piano and noodle away and allow my creative voice to come through my own music every day in a playful way. This is why I don’t paint and draw anymore. This is why I don’t spend hours with my beadwork anymore. This is why I choose work over play or I punish myself and hold myself hostage and don’t give myself permission to play or have fun if/when the work’s not done or I feel lazy. This is why I can’t finish clearing the clutter in my home.

Because when I say yes to all of those, I’m saying “yes” to me. 

Where IS the value in ME?

A very old, deep, wounded, shadow part of me still believes “I am not deserving. I have no value or worth.” Another old, deep, wounded part of me also believes that value and worth must be tangible and measurable. Creativity is not a very tangible thing that one can easily measure although its expression makes it more tangible. Those negative thoughts are not really my truth but they are beliefs I've carried. Like many or most of us, I was raised with a strong midwestern work ethic of “work before play”. Creativity wasn’t a part of my world and by the time I was 5 or 6 years old I was too afraid to break the rules and express it anyway. It’s also deeply embedded in my innate energetic blueprint as a strong Virgo/Capricorn to be that way. Woman or not, in my world the work is never done and I’ve always struggled with giving myself permission to be playful and creative. If I’m not “working” in a physical way then I’m “working” on myself. All my travels over the years have combined training and studies. I haven’t had a non-working, "real vacation” in so many years I can’t remember the last time. Yes, I’m a hard worker and that’s okay. I came in that way, I value being a hard worker and it has served me well. It just has a tendency to get very out of balance and come out sideways - at me - far too easily.

This shadow piece for me of unworthiness is not an epiphany in and of itself. It’s been there with the fear and the shame and the guilt I’ve carried all my life. It’s no coincidence that I just went very deep into healing more layers of guilt and shame in the two weeks preceding this newest awareness of my shadow of unworthiness. Doing that work allowed this next layer of unworthiness to be revealed. I know and understand that this core belief of unworthiness, shame and guilt began for me in the womb, it’s in my ancestral lineage and is imprinted in my energetic blueprint from many, many lifetimes before this one. It’s all connected and part of the fear I’m here to overcome. I’ve done years of talk therapy and years of personal healing work through many alternative avenues to face, embrace and heal this wounded part of me. I still do. I always will. I have to. It’s the space I hold for others through the work I do now through my private energetic, shamanic, intuitive, vibrational healing arts practice. But my ability to see in the dark, to see my own shadow and see through the veils is ever changing and I am seeing more layers now of how I re-create this wound and re-wound myself in my everyday thoughts, beliefs, actions, habits and patterns of living. This “seeing” is also progress. Once I see it, I can begin to heal it. The three A’s of recovery come back to me: Awareness, Acceptance, Action. In that order. One day at a time. One layer at a time. This was just another swoop in the spiral loop, as my beloved teacher, Star Wolf, would say.

Those who know me well know that I deeply value, honor and support my husband’s and children’s incredible talents, creative expression, and passions unconditionally. The irony is I have struggled all my life to be able to give that back to myself. It’s only natural to give freely to others what we most want for ourselves but even that only goes so far. I know only too well that my own creative vessel must be filled in order for me to give as much as I want to give to others, whether that’s as a mother, wife, healer, singer, friend, daughter, or sister. I’m happy to say I'm getting there in fits and starts and I know I’m blessed to have their full support in return.
I’ve been told so many times over from astrologers, intuitives, and teachers that I’m here to “share a big message with the world” and that writing is one of my pathways for sharing. That’s always been so mystifying to me and I still have no clue whether it’s through a blog, a book, my music, all of the above or something else entirely unknown to me. I also feel like time is running out as I am turning 60 this year. Whoa! More blogs to come around that rite of passage! I can feel the “crone/wisdom” energy moving in powerfully now and hope and pray that with that passage will come some clarity, refinement and direction around fulfilling my destiny. In any event, if what “they” say is true about my destiny to share a big message with the world then what I do know today more than ever is that I won’t “get there” (wherever “there” is) no matter how many years I have left unless I can first value myself enough to value the time and energy it takes to put into bringing the creative expression of that message, whatever it is, into form, in my own unique way. Words make life tangible. Music makes life tangible. Beaded amulets and pieces of art make life tangible. And yes, even a clutter-free, lovingly tended home, inside and out, becomes a sacred, creative expression and makes life tangible. The latter may not be near as much fun in the process of creating it but it’s just as important to someone like me. The mundane is just as sacred as the mystical.

As long as I hold back from writing, singing, being playful, having more fun, and creating the kind of home environment that frees up the space for me to "be me" and to create in, I will continue to hold on to the belief somewhere unconsciously that I have no value or worth. It’s a way that I self-sabotage my own success, happiness and my own destiny. 

The diamond in the rough was shining brightly that day when I realized that the greatest purpose behind my writing a blog or whatever I write is not about the message I may or may not be sharing with the world or fulfilling any predicted destiny as a “writer”. The purpose it’s serving is to open up the space for me to really see myself, to show up just for me, to really dig deep and find my own value and worth in what I see, what I have to say and what I want to create.

This means I must value myself in all my forms and ways of expression and showing up every day - tangible or not - because I am here to become my own best creative expression and to have fun and feel fulfilled by doing just that. The rest is just fluff, as they say.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Embracing Destiny

Between man and God there are two paths: The path of fate and the path of destiny. Those who will give distance to their destiny shall fall into the path of fate. When you walk on the path of fate, you may feel very happy and be an egomaniac, but when the fatal moment comes  -  you will be lost again. When you walk on the path of destiny, it doesn’t matter what distance you cover. When the fatal blow of death comes, you shall be liberated. That is the difference.”
-Yogi Bhajan from Success and the Spirit: An Aquarian Path to Abundance

I became a student of kundalini yoga a little over two years ago this spring and it has been my saving grace and a powerful teacher and guide. I still consider myself very much a novice and I continue to marvel at the magic of it all. 

I love that the path, teachings and focus of kundalini yoga is a spiritual one and the body follows the heart as the mind surrenders and a heart-mind connection is created. I love how simple it can be yet deeply challenging, how powerful it always is and how quickly it shifts the energy. I love the kriyas with the combination of very specific, focused and continuous breathing patterns, mudras, chanting and meditation. 

My discipline and commitment has naturally waxed and waned and I find it easier to keep up a practice or discipline in a class/group setting than privately at home for most things in life and especially yoga; yet surprisingly I was guided to commit to a solo (global/online was the 'community/classroom') 40 day sadhana within the first 6 months of beginning my practice. The energy of that sadhana was called "Releasing Fear and Becoming a Conscious Leader" and Aadays Tisai Aadays was our mantra and kriya. I knew fear was holding me back from becoming a conscious leader in my life but little did I really know how profoundly so. Through a series of very synchronistic connections after a yoga class I requested my spiritual name through the website. Nirinjan Kaur, Yogi Bhajan's Chief of Staff, was trained personally by him for over thirty years in his method of determining names. It is based on one's birth date, numerology, and meditation with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib sacred text. Before his death in 2004, Yogi Bhajan gave his blessings to Nirinjan to continue his work of giving names to those who request them. Expecting it to take up to 2 weeks to arrive, quite auspiciously on the 3rd day of that sadhana I received my spiritual name: "Nirbhao" (pronounced "near-bo"). I learned that Nirbhao means "fearless" and in this tradition one's spiritual name is symbolic of your spiritual or soul identity. It's a roadmap to one's destiny. It's a rebirth in consciousness. I cried all day the day I received my spiritual name because I'd never felt so seen and understood on such a deep, soul and spiritual level as I did through the energy of that name and the destiny it carries. Everything in my life suddenly made sense to me. No wonder I grew up in an angry home that fostered judgment and fear rather than love. No wonder I have been paralyzed in life by my fears and especially by the fear of failure and of being seen, judged harshly and rejected for who I am. Overcoming fear is not just what I'm here to do because I'm a human being, it's my personal destiny! Not only did I feel the challenge of overcoming my intense and paralyzing fears was validated and understood but for the very first time I was able to look back at my life and recognize when and how many times I had already been courageous and fearless in the face of my fears. I'd already survived a lot and I wasn't a total failure after all. I've been living my destiny successfully all along. Being able to appreciate the glass half-full instead of half-empty and see the courage and strength in myself from a place of love from within me for myself was an incredible, healing and humbling moment and gift. I've done a lot of deep, personal healing work and been held in the arms of the Divine more than once. This moment surpassed them all because I was able to see myself through my own eyes of Love, not just through the eyes of others or the eyes of the Divine. In that moment fear no longer held me hostage. I felt no separation from Love. I could be the dark and the light and it was enough. 

No matter what obstacles came up in my everyday life I didn't miss a beat or a day for the next 40 days. That 40 day sadhana then morphed into 90 days and it really changed my life profoundly, forever. Since then, I've been patiently waiting for the next kundalini yoga sadhana to be revealed. I tried a few on here and there but they didn't stick. I've learned I don't go looking for a sadhana just like I don't go looking for my destiny - I trust and know the sadhana will find me as long as I keep my heart open to it just like I trust my destiny will. And so it did, quite magically, and I couldn't be more excited and elated!

It's been a particularly challenging spring and start to the summer for me with a shoulder injury (for no apparent reason), getting very sick for an extended time from a toxic overexposure to mold (something I am highly allergic to), and other areas of stress in life needing all my focus, energy and attention. My yoga became more internal than ever while I allowed my physical body to rest, regenerate and heal as much as possible. Last night I was able to attend my regular weekly/Monday kundalini yoga class for the first time in 3 months. Even as I was acutely aware of how my body had contracted and lost some of its flexibility over those 3 months it was like coming home again! I was amazed and in awe of how quickly my body remembered the warm-ups and responded to the mudras and movements, especially when I used my breath to breathe into the discomfort or restrictions to release the tension and let go. It felt almost effortless. How could that be?!! It's supposed to be so much harder when we've been away from it for an extended time! My shoulder was strong and flexible with an easy, graceful and fluid range of motion once more (thanks to the healing magic of acupuncture tacks and a few other non-traditional healing approaches) even though it let me know it still has a catch or two left to clear. All in good time. I've learned to bless and honor the limitations of my body as much as I celebrate its ability to push and move past obstacles. The kriya we did worked with the navel, the hips and shoulders and I felt the pulse and wave of the energy at my navel at the end of that kriya in the relaxation phase more powerfully than I remember feeling in a really long time. What a surprise and joy all of this was for me!

I am in awe of the body's ability to heal itself and move beyond its limitations when we honor the limitations without judgment, anxiety and fear and give it the time, nourishment, care, attention and love it needs to heal. What an incredible messenger our bodies are! I am in awe of how the mind can be re-trained with practice and discipline. I am in awe of how our inner Spirit and Divine Self and Source guides us to whatever is our destiny in our highest and most divine timing when we surrender and trust the flow and choose to be a co-creator with Source rather than trying to force our way through life with agendas that are egocentric and fear-based. 

Ever since I read this story a few weeks ago about the 2nd Sutra meditation Jaap Sahib I've felt a strong draw to make this meditation my next 40 day (or longer) sadhana. So much so that I've kept it open in a browser on my computer since then as a reminder...yet not so much so that I felt the call to really "begin". Until last night! Ahhh! The magic of synchronicity and divine timing! Much to my surprise and delight we ended our class with this meditation and now I know it's time and I'm ready! I plan to keep it simple and start with 5 minutes once a day and go and grow from there as my body and spirit guides me. This 2nd sutra meditation is said to be one that removes fear and obstacles and brings us closer to our destiny. I Am Nirbhao Kaur ~ "fearless princess/lioness of God". I understand that the fear is mine and I am my only obstacle and so I am ready to begin and to embrace this sutra mantra for the next 40 days. I am ready to continue on the path to further embrace my destiny.

I am so grateful to Sat Inder Kaur Khalsa for being my most beloved teacher and for being my Divine messenger to bring my next sadhana to me so auspiciously. I so appreciate her ever constant heart and spirit, love and guidance. _/|\_  

By the way...I'm just going to put this out there...If this meditation calls to You and Your divine timing is Now, please feel free to join me on this 40 day sadhana journey to move through obstacles and embrace your destiny! Whether near or far we can connect here, in a google circle, and in the ethers! It's so much fun to share the journey together! We can inspire each other to keep up!

Wahe Guru! Sat Nam!  Nirbhao Kaur

#kundaliniyoga #destiny #heart #fearlessness #love #yoga #mudras #meditation #mantras 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Heart of Appreciation ~ A Divinely Orchestrated Dance of Duality

On February 28th I completed a 30 Day Appreciation Challenge on Facebook. This was a wonderful practice for me that came at a very significant and auspicious time..."divinely orchestrated", as I am fond of saying. This is the second time I've done a 30 day practice of Appreciation. The first one was focused 100% on appreciating MYSELF at the end of the day and no one else. Now there's a challenge for you! This time I had the width and breadth of all of life's people, places, things and experiences to appreciate. I found both of these processes to be powerful, life-enhancing and life-changing. I became aware of how easy it is to take appreciation for granted. I found myself pondering the difference between appreciation and gratitude. Even though I missed a few days here and there for putting my appreciation into written form on the Facebook group page, I found myself in a heightened state of awareness and mindfulness about appreciation. I never missed a day of appreciating someone or something very consciously, sometimes many times over in a day, expressing it internally in my own mind/thoughts and/or sharing it in the moment with another depending upon the kind of appreciation I found myself experiencing. Likewise, I had a heightened awareness of the times I felt distanced, alienated or separate from a state of appreciation. In those moments I knew all I needed to do was LOOK for it...change my perspective...change my mind...someone or something is always there to appreciate. If nothing else, I am always there to be appreciated. Right? Right.

I smiled at the irony of the timing of this practice of appreciation and communication coming during an intense Mercury retrograde when I either have diarrhea of the mouth or the cat can often get my chatty Virgo-Mercurial tongue and leave me tongue tied or stumbling over my words and thoughts creating misunderstandings and heartbreaks rather than more understanding and heartfelt connection.

More divine timing and orchestration was afoot often leaving me in awe and wonder as I spent half of this month away from home, in upstate New York in the Catskills where I've never been before, immersed in a totally new healing adventure with very close family and holding space for that healing journey. I felt almost sequestered and we ended up snowbound by a nor'easter which gave us all 5 more days to deepen into whatever the healing adventure was gifting each of us. It was a deep, powerful, fertile time of reflection, rebirth, transformation, new growth and awarenesses for me on many levels of life. My commitment to keeping my mind focused on appreciation was a critical moment of choice every day and key for strengthening me to hold sacred space for healing, to see the glass half-full in every way, and to be open to receiving the grace, peace, trust, faith, hope, serenity and a renewed sense of inner well being that I experienced there and brought home with me. Appreciation kept my heart open. Yes. That's what appreciation does. That's what commitment does. That's what the heart does. It changes us. Forever. For the better.

Although this time was not a recitation of a single prayer or mantra and it wasn't a minimum of 40 days as we practice sadhana in kundalini yoga, this became my sacred 30 day Sadhana of Appreciation and I am forever enriched and changed because of it. I have made a personal commitment to continue this practice of appreciation for 40 days, 90 days, 180 days...and on and on and on...

My deepest appreciation goes to Linda Coussens whose creative inspiration and commitment to facilitate and hold the space for this sadhana of appreciation was my invitation and inspiration to say yes to the journey. I am forever grateful.

The excerpt that I'm choosing to share below pretty much puts it all into perspective for me. Like everything else in life, it's a dance with duality...bridging heaven and earth. Simple, yes. Easy, no.

Excerpt from my 30 Day Appreciation Challenge ~ February 22, 2014 ~

I appreciate the ebb and flow of expression, communication, energy, perspectives, connection, and creativity. I appreciate the fluctuations I feel and observe in my own state of mindfulness, emotions, or well-being as a result of this natural ebb and flow of life. I learn so much from the differences in this continuum of everyday life and living.

I appreciate the emptiness and the fullness. I appreciate the quiet and the noise. I appreciate the connection and the solitude. I appreciate the uncertainty and predictability. I appreciate the chaos and the creation that comes out of chaos. I appreciate tenderness and strength. I appreciate the knowing and the not knowing, the fog and the clarity. I appreciate wisdom and folly. I appreciate the space between all duality where the divine expression is created, birthed, and made visible.

I appreciate experiencing when I am without words to share or express my appreciation, sometimes for days, and yet so aware and present now to an ongoing experience and awareness of appreciation very deep within me. I appreciate when the words are there and they flow effortlessly. Because of this I am learning to trust the power of silence as well as shared expressions, deepen my discernment in the dance of communication and connection between self and others, and learning to trust myself, trust life, and trust Creator more.

I appreciate being reminded and experiencing that the most important connection and communication is the one between myself and Creator and that all appreciation arises from that space which rests in the heart.