Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Thaddeus Golas quote May 22, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

No matter what your spiritual condition is, no matter where you find yourself in the universe, your choice is always the same: to expand your awareness or contract it.

~ Thaddeus Golas

 

Awareness

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s been a great week in getting ready for baby. We’re now two weeks into our Birthing From Within childbirth classes, and I’m loving the discourse they trigger and the focus on how, really, this is a way of life, not just a way to approach birth. This week, we practiced non-focused awareness, a technique I had started playing with last year that I simply love. It’s a way of noticing what’s around you, what your body is experiencing moment-to-moment, without judgment.

You can practice this technique any time, anywhere, and the more you do it, the more easily you can slip into it. While it definitely works as a pain management technique, it also works as a walking meditation, something you can take into your day that increases your experience of the world and decreases your judgment of it. To begin, I recommend closing your eyes, and starting with a few moments of breath awareness. Then, allow your awareness to reach out from your breath. As I sit here, I can hear the whir of my computer fan, the singing of the birds outside my window, the music playing softly in the other room, the sound of my fingers striking the keyboard as I type, the difference between the sounds made by the letter keys and the space key. I can feel the cool tile underneath my toes, the edge of the desk cutting into my elbow, the support of the chair beneath me, the feel of my robe on my skin, the subtle movements of baby adjusting inside me. If I open my eyes just a smidge to allow some visual sensations entry, I notice the grain of the pine of my desk, the bright red of my mouse pad, the quality of the light in the room, the striking contrast between the white of the computer screen and the black of the rest of my computer peripherals.

The version we practiced this week includes cues, so your partner finds a rhythm and gives you cues to help you shift your awareness from one modality to another to help with the flow: Breath. Touch. See. Hear. Touch. Breath. Hear. See. And so on. At first, I found it distracting for someone else to determine my rhythm, but as I got used to it, I found it meant that my attention was always being brought to something new. This meant that I didn’t end up “following” a single sensation. For example, we were using holding ice in class to give us a discomfort that we could practice with. The cue “Touch” inevitably brought my attention to the strong sensation of the ice in my hand at some point during that awareness cycle, but it couldn’t linger there, turning from awareness into “Oh wow, that is really uncomfortable” into “Oh my god, that really hurts!” It was just another body sensation to be observed, much like the feel of the carpet under my feet or Sean’s hand stroking my arm.

The best part was putting this into practice out of the blue when one night this week, I was feeling really nauseated, my body’s response to being overtired these days, and I was complaining about how I felt like I was going to throw up. My attention was so tied into what I was feeling I was literally making it worse. Sean said “Breathe,” and for a moment I was annoyed, thinking he was trying to dismiss what I was going through, but a beat later he said “See,” and my whole body relaxed as I figured out what he was doing and went into my practice. Within a few seconds, the queasy feeling in my stomach was a non-issue. It didn’t disappear, but I just wasn’t paying it any attention. I was able to finish what I was doing from a place of consciousness, and enjoyed the remainder of my evening instead of being sucked into an icky place of not feeling well. Small example? Perhaps. But still a powerful reminder for me that this works when you practice it, and that life truly is a practice. Namaste.

Photo: “rain over street lights,” originally uploaded by s m

 

St. Augustine quote April 24, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 12:00 pm
Tags: , ,

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.

~ St. Augustine

 

David Steindl-Rast quote March 6, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being . . . Wherever we may come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual.

~David Steindl-Rast

 

The agony and the ecstasy August 4, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:30 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

You have been thinking about your future long enough. You may be sick and tired of going around on the same mental loops as you attempt to create something different from the life you currently have. Instead of fighting against the resistance you feel, try letting go of the attachment that you have to any long-term goals. You may be pleasantly surprised at what happens when your mind is freed from previous expectations.
~Rick Levine, Scorpio horoscope for August 3, 2008

This past week I had a glimpse into the life of a manic depressive, with amazing highs followed closely by horrifying lows. It was a 7-day roller coaster ride, and while the highs were magnificent and I definitely would have rather not had the lows, I can see how both ends of the spectrum are part of the fabric of living life fully.

Our summer adventure was an absolute blast. We had a wonderful road trip up and back, listening to recordings of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho’s wonderful journey The Alchemist. Crater Lake was breathtakingly beautiful, even for a second visit. We had a lovely “it’s a small world” experience by running into a former co-worker of mine shortly after our arrival at the rim. Our campsite was somewhat exposed, but we ended up not having many neighbors so it felt very private. We were captivated by the geology of the mountain and even ended up going to my first ever campfire circle to learn as much as we could about how the lake was formed. We absolutely fell in love with Ashland and can’t wait to go back when we have plenty of time to dawdle. Our B&B, Morical House Garden Inn, was gorgeous and comfortable with a wonderfully welcoming innkeeper and yummy-smelling breakfast included. We didn’t end up tasting said breakfast as we opted to revisit a wonderful little restaurant we discovered driving home from our honeymoon two years ago, Morning Glory. In addition to having some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, it’s a cozy, comfortable, homey spot that just makes you feel good from the inside out. All in all, a fabulous vacation.

The trouble began when we arrived back home. Normally I’m thrilled to be home, and I was looking forward to an evening with just my cats as my husband had plans to go out that night. But I was antsy, feeling like I’d rather still be on vacation. I fell into some old patterns, which I later recognized was me looking for a way to make myself feel better that felt familiar instead of doing something centering and grounding. The next couple of days were a downward spiral of a pretty severe funk, aggravated by discovering a cockroach in one of our kitchen cabinets and having the hot water heater go kaput. Every time I’d start to think I was pulling out of the funk, something else would happen to send me back down again.

What I recognize now is that my sense of where I was (too small, now dirty-feeling apartment, not enough money coming in, not getting paid to do the work I was born to do, not liking my body or my wardrobe, etc.) compared to my sense of where I want to be (work that enables me to share my gifts with the world, spacious and comfortable home with plenty of room to grow into, large income that supports all of our needs and desires with plenty to share with others, active lifestyle that keeps me lean and full of energy, etc.) was extremely out of alignment. My energy was all stuck in judgment and resistance, the result of which was several days of misery.

Thankfully, today was the day when I got to turn it all around. I’d just had the opportunity to tell a coaching client last weekend that the great thing about a spiritual practice is that you’re building a foundation for your life. While the analogy of building muscles can be useful, the good news here is that unlike your muscles, stopping the spiritual workout does not mean you have to start over from scratch–the muscles don’t deteriorate in your absence. It doesn’t take much–a five minute meditation, a repetition of your mantra, singing a verse of a chant–to get you reconnected to your Source. Pulling a couple of tools out of my toolbox this morning, I was able to move myself into a place of peace and acceptance. Not only to I no longer feel stuck, I feel like I am soaring and free. I’m calling today my New Year’s Day because I feel like I just hit the reset button. It’s a new year, clean and open and full of possibilities. And I’m thrilled to get to live each of its days as fully as I know how. Namaste.

Photo: A shot of our breakfast table at Morning Glory in Ashland, OR

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!

 

Unwritten June 24, 2008

Filed under: music — jennsheridan @ 9:29 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been hearing this catchy pop song on the radio for a couple of years now, but didn’t notice the lyrics until a few weeks ago. When I did, I knew I’d found another winner. Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” is the kind of song I can easily overlook. I mean, I’ll find myself bopping along in the car when I hear it, but it’s of a style that doesn’t usually go with a lot of depth. It’s good to be wrong every now and again — helps to keep me open!

This song is a great way to look at life, and to me, really, the only way to truly live life successfully. It’s all about recognizing that you’re in the driver’s seat. No one can live your life for you, and honestly, you wouldn’t want them to — no one would be able to do it better than you can. And never forget that every day is a new day — if you don’t like where yesterday led you then choose something different today. So get out there, live a little, stretch yourself. Release those inhibitions, feel the rain on your skin . . .

Artist: Natasha Bedingfield
Song: Unwritten
Albums: Unwritten; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Website: http://www.natashabedingfield.com/
More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natasha_Bedingfield
Video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=4lFXy5bIiSA

I am unwritten,
Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten, yeah

Oh, oh

I break tradition
Sometimes my tries
Are outside the lines, oh yeah yeah
We’ve been conditioned
To not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way oh, oh

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open

Feel the rain on your skin
No on else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
the rest still unwritten

(Gospel)
Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words
That you could not find
Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten

 

The power of perspective June 10, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 3:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Byron Katie’s “The Work” brings inquiry to your thoughts and enables you to free yourself of the stress and frustration and depression they bring. Eckhart Tolle calls our attention to the three levels of every situation: what is happening, your reaction to what is happening, and your awareness of both of these levels. Abraham talks about bringing awareness to your thoughts when you’re not feeling great and choosing a thought that feels better. Lately, for me, I’ve been practicing my awareness by asking whether it’s the situation itself or my thoughts about the situation that are making me feel the way I do.

It’s such a simple way of looking at things, a small adjustment, really, in the larger mix of how we view the world, yet it holds such power. It is playing a huge role in how I am approaching my work this week. This time last week I had a single freelancing project I was working on, with the remainder of my time being invested into my own personal growth and various aspects of my Avon Walk training. By Thursday, I was working on a book project, had a fast-approaching deadline on a relatively large freelance project, and I was talking with the folks at the Hoffman Institute about working for them part-time. This weekend I walked over 30 miles and by the time Monday rolled around, I was exhausted and wondering how on earth I was going to fit all of these moving parts into a cohesive life.

This one awareness practice turned my energy around. I quickly realized that it wasn’t the situation that was causing me stress, it was the way I was thinking about the situation. I’ve known for months now that I have more than enough time to get everything done yet I still feel time pressure. That isn’t reality, that’s just my perception of reality. So I called myself on my thoughts, noticed they were just thoughts, and stopped accepting those thoughts as the truth. And then I got to work. At the end of the day, I was able to get everything done I needed to, and then some, with time to spare. My stress was gone, replaced with a sense of peace and trust in the process, which felt MUCH better than the alternative!

So today, as I prepare to go work in an office for two days, I have a choice about how I look at this work. I can either see it as taking away from my precious time for myself, taking away from my time to get other work done, taking away from my time to train and all of the wonderful chores that go along with training, or I can realize that these thoughts cause stress, a stress that isn’t necessary or useful in any way. Instead, I am choosing to see this work as an opportunity for me to get out into the world and interact with people, using what I’ve learned over the past few months and applying it to a more traditional style of work. With this perspective, I am looking forward to my day today, looking forward spending time with people engaged in a different sort of activity.

This is the power of a single practice. What thoughts are causing you stress today? Can you see a way to look at the situation from a different perspective, one that doesn’t cause you stress? Have some fun playing with this concept today and see what you learn about yourself and how your thoughts affect your day. Namaste.

Photo: “Peaceful,” originally uploaded by Tony Lam

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!