Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Recalibrating October 12, 2009

My little boy is 10 weeks old. It’s hard for me to imagine it sometimes, even though I’ve been living and breathing his development for the past year. It feels like he has always been with me, yet he is brand new. Motherhood is a natural progression for me, yet a huge shift in the way I live my life. This adventure is a daily experience of the divine dichotomy.

It’s as if I’m having to relearn how to ride a bicycle. There is definitely a part of me that has never forgotten how, that flows effortlessly, that rises to any and all occasions, that is connected to Source and grounded in Gaia and in sync with my son and my center and the Universe. But there is also a large part of me that is tongue-tied, lost in the woods, feeling my way around in the dark.

Someone recently described parenthood as the hardest best thing they have ever done, and I have to agree. It is at its hardest when it is three o’clock in the morning and I can’t figure out what my baby needs and I feel completely alone and like the world’s biggest failure; and it is at its best when (sometimes five minutes later) the right thing clicks and his face lights up and he smiles up at me with such pure joy and my heart just sings.

Everyday I feel more surefooted, more self-confident, and those hardest moments become fewer and farther between. But those joyous moments, where it’s as if I have wings, are getting closer and closer together as he learns a little more each day about this human he has come here to be, and I learn more about myself in this new role as his mother, his guide, and his student. He is such a divine gift, such a divine teacher, showing me the ways of love and life and laughter and light in ways I never even dreamed possible.

I thought I was prepared for this journey, but I have to say, I am living the idea that life is what happens when you’re making other plans. And that’s okay. I am excited to see where this journey will lead. I may not always have time to write about it, but I am learning to be okay with that too, and I will share what I can when I can. Balance is coming, of that I am certain! Namaste.

Photo: “Apple Blossom,” originally uploaded by Jonathan Gill

 

The way we stand April 24, 2009

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 12:19 pm
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I love that Earth Day is celebrated with such vigor these days. Or maybe it just seems like that because so many of my friends on Facebook chose to proclaim their love and gratitude for Mother Earth this week. But it helped create a sense of celebration in me, anyway, and opened me up to that deep connection we all share with each other and with the energy of our beautiful planet. So really, it’s no surprise that this morning I was drawn to that favorite of mine, Earth Prayers. And within this phenomenal collection of “prayers, poems, and invocations for honoring the earth,” I was drawn to one of my favorite pieces of Susan Griffin’s that speaks so eloquently to that connection. Enjoy, and namaste.

The way we stand, you can see we have grown up this way together, out of the same soil, with the same rains, leaning in the same way towards the sun. See how we lean together in the same direction. How the dead limbs of one of us rest in the branches of another. How those branches have grown around the limbs. How the two are inseparable. And if you look, you can see the different ways we have taken this place into us. Magnolia, loblolly bay, sweet gum, Southern bayberry, Pacific bayberry; wherever we grow there are many of us; Monterey pine, sugar pine, white-bark pine, four-leaf pine, single-leaf pine, bristle-cone pine, foxtail pine, Torrey pine, Western red pine, Jeffrey pine, bishop pine.

And we are various, and amazing in our variety, and our differences multiply, so that edge after edge of the endlessness of possibility is exposed. You know we have grown this way for years. And to no purpose you can understand. Yet what you fail to know we know, and the knowing is in us, how we have grown this way, why these years were not one of them heedless, why we are shaped the way we are, not all straight to your purpose, but to ours. And how we are each purpose, how each cell, how light and soil are in us, how we are in the soil, how we are in the air, how we are both infinitesimal and great and how we are infinitely without any purpose you can see, in the way we stand, each alone, yet none of us separable, none of us beautiful when separate but all exquisite as we stand, each moment heeded in this cycle, no detail unlovely.

~ Susan Griffin from Earth Prayers

Photo: “Path Through the Trees,” originally uploaded by Tony

 

Grounding ourselves March 6, 2009

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 2:25 pm
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There is nothing quite like uprooting yourself to remind you of how important it is to be grounded. This week I’ve felt somewhat disjointed and out of focus. Normally that happens because I’ve allowed my morning practice to slip. However, if anything, I’ve intensified my morning practice this week as I recognized how necessary it was to my remaining centered through this transition. I thought maybe I had just overdone it over the weekend, and these were signs that my body still needed to catch up on its rest, but if that were the case I would have expected to see improvement from day to day this week. Yesterday as I was out taking a walk around my building, it finally dawned on me what’s been missing — my sense of being grounded. I’ve had this DailyOM article on reserve since last summer as a wonderful reminder of both the need to be grounded and how simple it can be to ground yourself in a breath, in a moment. Today I plan to follow its advice, as well as some of my own from last spring, and spend some time with my feet firmly planted on the earth, breathing in that grounding energy and restoring my sense of balance, of connection, of my roots. Namaste.

Being A Strong Container
Grounding Ourselves

We often hear people telling us to ground ourselves, but we may not be sure what that means and how we might do it. Grounding ourselves is a way of bringing ourselves literally back to earth. Some of us are more prone than others to essentially leaving our bodies and not being firmly rooted in our bodies. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, but while we are living on the earth plane it is best to stay grounded in the body.

One of the easiest ways to ground ourselves is to bring our attention to our breath as it enters and leaves our bodies. After about 10 breaths, we will probably find that we feel much more connected to our physical selves. We might then bring our awareness to the sensations in our bodies, moving from our head down to our feet, exploring and inquiring. Just a few minutes of this can bring us home to bodies and to the earth, and this is what it means to ground ourselves.

We can go further by imagining that we have roots growing out of the bottoms of our feet, connecting us to the earth. The roots flow with us so we can we always move, but at the same time they keep us grounded. We receive powerful energy from the earth just as we do from the forms of energy we associate with the sky, and our body is a tool that brings these two energies together in a sacred union. When we are grounded, we essentially become a strong container in which our spirits can safely and productively dwell. This is why grounding ourselves every day, especially at the beginning of the day, is such a beneficial practice. Fortunately, it’s as simple as bringing our conscious awareness to our bodies and the earth on which we walk.

Photo: “Cross section of a tree’s roots,” originally uploaded by Aaron Escobar

 

Happy Autumnal Equinox! September 22, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 11:39 pm
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I have mixed feelings about today. On the up side, fall is my absolutely favorite time of year. I love the change of weather, when the temperature begins to cool and evenings take on a crispness that encourages sweaters and jackets. I love when the leaves begin to change, exchanging their gorgeous greens for majestic reds, yellows, oranges and browns. I love school supplies filling the drugstores, with the clean, blank notebooks begging to be filled with fresh ideas. But it’s a mournful time too, as day and night share equal time today, signaling the beginning of our descent into darkness for the winter. It’s time to turn within, to connect to the wise Self and eternal Source within, staying quiet and leaving the boisterous extroversion of spring and summer behind for a spell.

Even living in a place where it stays warm so late in the year that leaves are still changing around Thanksgiving, fall is fall, and I always associate this time of year with new beginnings, with learning new things, with positive change. This year has felt sort of like fall has arrived every month, bringing regular change and inducing an ongoing sense of wonder at the world and my place in it. One of those changes is that for the first time, I am embracing the darkness, exploring the quiet stillness, the appearance of things coming to end, connecting with pieces of me that usual go unnoticed or ignored. I am not terribly interested in defining myself in concrete terms, perhaps because my self-definition is utterly fluid right now. What is much more up my alley right now is just being in the moment, seeing what shows up in it, and truly responding to it from the center of my being. What happens next is so much more powerful than what would have happened if I’d simply reacted or allowed my Intellect to interfere.

Life is an ongoing process, an experiment in becoming more — more of Who I Am, more of who I came here to be. It’s such a wild ride, unexpected and joyous and thought-provoking and vital. I’m simply excited to be here, excited that it’s fall, that it’s another season in the cycle of this crazy and incredible year, excited to see what I get to learn and be and do next, and excited to share bits and pieces of my journey with you. Namaste.

Photo: “Forever autumn,” originally uploaded by Josep Mª Rosell

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The agony and the ecstasy August 4, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:30 am
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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

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Reconnecting May 27, 2008

“When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
~Will Rogers

We all have those moments, days, weeks where it feels like we can’t keep up, we aren’t centered or grounded, we’re separated from Source. I don’t know about you, but when it happens to me, I have this sense that it will require a grand gesture to turn it around. Missed a few days of meditation? Then I must need an hour-long meditation plus two more hours of spiritual practice to catch back up. And then when I don’t have the time or make the time for such a long practice, I judge myself as lacking and sink deeper into the darkness.

The thing is, of course, we’re never completely closed off from Source and no matter how disconnected we feel, reconnection is literally only a breath away. Once the awakening has begun, once you’ve had a taste of the experience of your deep connection to Source, it doesn’t take much to bring you back there. Here are a few simple tools you can use throughout your day to either help you remain connected or reconnect you as needed:

Breathing. We are constantly breathing, in and out, all day long, each and every day. It is something we are generally unconscious of, but try bringing your consciousness to this natural process, recognizing with each breath that you are alive in this moment, right now. Do this for a few moments or a few minutes, depending on where you are and how much time you have. It’s amazing how this simple technique can bring you quickly back to yourself, to you as observer, as awareness, to the now.

Be Here Now. The key to happiness is to stay present in this moment. I find that a simple mantra can work wonders in helping me remain present when I find my mind wandering into past and future events. I’ve been using “Be Here Now” recently, although any mantra will work. I’ve also been playing with the idea that whatever I am doing right now, it is my life’s purpose to be doing it, and so I remind myself of that as I work. It is a great way to turn any activity into a meditation and almost always brings me up out of whatever dark thoughts were trying to take hold in my mind into the space of light and peace that is always available in the now.

Music. Listening to music can be a quick and easy way to reconnect. Our bodies are energy and we are all vibrating. Music is also a vibration, and when the two vibrations meet, we can experience a deep harmony. I know for me there are a few tracks that from the first note I feel myself transported. If you don’t already know what works for you in this way, I recommend exploring the many examples that are available these days developed with the intention of positively affecting people’s vibration. My current favorite is Jonathan Goldman’s Waves of Light, although I also enjoy the Brainwave Suite and the second track of Kelly Howell’s Retrieve Your Destiny. The Globe Institute for Sound Therapy & Healing is a great resource as well. They have a collection of CDs available in their store with demos for you to sample. When you visit their website, they have a selection playing, “Awakening,” that instantly transports me, and I often leave the page open in the background while I’m working so that I can stay in that sense of the divine no matter what I’m doing.

Nature. If you have a wee bit more time, try connecting with the natural world. If there’s a park or a forest nearby, go for a short walk. Try taking off your shoes, feeling the grass or dirt beneath your feet. Connecting with the earth directly is a quick and easy way to literally ground yourself through the earth’s energy. When you don’t have nature readily at hand, try observing the flora and fauna around you. Flowers in a vase, a house plant, a pet, a bird outside your window — take a few moments to really experience these examples of life that can be found just about everywhere, using each of your senses. You may feel how they radiate energy just like you do. Or you may just notice their simple beauty. Whatever comes up for you, the natural world provides so many examples of the essence of life that it can become a great way for you to reconnect with your own sense of that essence within you.

The key here is really it only takes a moment to remember what it is we already know–that we are one with the Source of all life and that the only moment that truly is is this one. When we come into that awareness, we are in contact with the power of the universe, with the divine. Try playing with a few of these tools this week, maybe by setting up a reminder alarm to go off a few times throughout the day or by using them when you start to feel yourself slipping into unconsciousness. I think you’ll find it only takes a moment to turn your day around. Good luck, have fun, and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: “That my life would depend on the morning sun,” originally uploaded by ThunderChild the Magnificent

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Tools for the journey May 6, 2008

Nothing can stop the man with right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
~Thomas Jefferson

I’ve been focusing these past few months on the internal tools we have at our disposal to connect to Source and our inner wisdom, enabling us to embrace the guidance that is always available to us as we go through our life journey. Meditation, following your intuition, using a mantra, forgiveness, staying present–these are all powerful tools to help us on our path. And while nothing can replace that internal work and desire, you definitely don’t have to go it alone. There’s a whole world of external resources that can be very useful in providing guidance and confirmation that what we’re receiving intuitively really is coming from our inner wisdom.

Community. Perhaps the most obvious, ubiquitous, and useful place to look is in other people. Whether it be an individual or a community, the people we encounter in our lives are gifts from the divine. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of supportive spiritual centers out there. My personal favorite is Sacred Center New York. August Gold is perhaps the most transformational teacher you will ever have the privilege to encounter, or at the very least, that I have discovered so far on my own journey. This Center has an energy that is lighting up the whole of New York City, expanding its reach further and further each year. Not close to New York? That’s okay, there are many spiritual communities available to you. Religious Science International, United Centers for Spiritual Living, Unity, and Unitarian Universalist have churches all over the country that might appeal to you. There are also many independent churches, Zen centers, study groups, book clubs, even groups and workshops meeting at metaphysical bookstores. I trust you won’t have to look very far before you find a spiritual group within your community that would welcome your participation and provide you with loving support for your journey.

Readers. I am relatively new to the concept of receiving a “reading.” I never used to take the concept very seriously, possibly because I felt you needed to do it all on your own and possibly because I discounted the quality of the information that could be gleaned through this process. About a year ago, however, my ideas on this subject shifted, about the time that my ideas on most subjects were shifting. I heard a description of the readings that Caroline Reynolds does, talking about how she uses reading your chakras to help give you clarity and point you in a direction that will ultimately bring you a sense of fulfillment, and knew this was something I needed to do. Working with Caroline has provided not only guidance, but a sense of progress as my life begins to blossom in new and unexpected ways. She helps me to see how things are interconnected and where my blocks are so I can better focus the work I’m doing where it will have the most effect. Others I have worked with less extensively are Genevieve Vulser, an angel mediator, hypnotherapist, Reiki master, and spiritual teacher, and Belle Star, whose aura photography and readings guide her life coach practice.

I recommend working with someone whose work you are familiar with or who has helped a friend you trust. If this isn’t an option, check your local metaphysical bookstore to see who they would recommend. Make sure that the type of reading they provide resonates with you, is in alignment with the kind of guidance you are looking for. The thing to keep in mind with any reader is that they can only speak to where you are today. Anyone who is claiming to be able to see the future is really picking up on where your energy is now and looking at the natural evolution of that energy if it were to continue unfolding exactly as it is today. However, the future is always malleable, we can always set new intentions and make new choices that alter the path we are on. The information they provide is just a tool to help you steer your journey in the direction you choose. Think of it as a compass, showing you where you are headed in relation to your true north, and use it accordingly.

Movement. Connecting to the life force energy through movement can be very powerful and rejuvenating. Yoga is a wonderful option, especially if you go with one of the more spirit-oriented schools of thought, as opposed to those who look at Yoga purely for its exercise benefits. I personally prefer Hatha Yoga, as it feels like a holistic approach to the mind-body connection. While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of taking a class from him, the description I’ve heard of Ned Grant’s classes is exactly the kind of yoga I would enjoy participating in. From his website: “Yoga can be considered to be a two-step process, in which the first step is the focus of the mind, and the second is the release of energy that emerges as a result of that focus. In Hatha Yoga, the focus begins with what we do with the breath and the body.” Until I find a yogi like that in my neighborhood, I’m diving into my new love, Qigong. I get so much energy from this practice that I barely notice it is also exercise. I feel revitalized within the first few minutes of getting my Qi moving and its effects last throughout the day. If you’re interested in an introduction to Qigong, I would recommend picking up one of Lee Holden‘s DVDs.

Cards. Cards are a great tool for receiving messages or gaining clarity on what is coming to you intuitively. I am loving my tarot cards these days and find this tool to be a great asset to my daily guidance. Once you learn to read tarot cards you can do readings for yourself or for others, or if you’d prefer you can find a reader to look at the cards for you. Also handy are message cards like angel cards or daily affirmation cards. Ask the universe for what you need to know today and allow your intuition to pick a card–the message you receive is usually a great reminder of where you need to place your attention today for best results.

Pendulums and Crystals. A recent (re)discovery for me is the power of stones and crystals. All products of the earth have energy, and many crystals amplify your own energy in different ways depending on the crystal. I’ve found a handful of different stones and crystals that I meditate with, each with their own energy. If I need a boost to my intuition, I use one, but if I’m looking to open my heart I use another. Crystals make great pendulums as well, which are excellent tools for refining intuitive messages. Start by asking your pendulum simple questions so you can begin to see how it responds with its yes, no, and maybe or don’t know responses. Once you begin to develop a relationship with it, you can ask it questions you need clarity on and see which way it swings. It can take time for your confidence in this tool to grow, but the more confident you are, the more you can rely on its answers.

Sound. Having just spent a few days exploring the Globe Sound Healing Conference, I am especially aware of the ability of sound to open you up to a deeper connection to Source and a greater connection with your own inner wisdom. I had the pleasure of experiencing an alignment by a “crystal alchemist” my first morning at the conference. If you’re ever in Mount Shasta, you will definitely want to look up Crystal Tones at Mount Shasta–their crystal bowls are amazing, producing vibration that sings to your soul. Another pleasure was exploring the “percussive sculpture” of Bruce Gray, whose drums and rattles feel like they are alive. These are true pieces of art as well as powerful ways to connect to that primeval rhythm within. Music of all shapes and sizes provides a way for me to experience the divine, regardless of how I’m feeling or where my thoughts are running. Experiment with different musical forms, both participating and listening, and see what works for you.

These are really just a handful of the tools that are available to you at any given time. The takeaway here for me is that the world has so much to offer you, so much support to give you, so many avenues for you to explore. Your job is not to walk down every path or try on every tool for size, but to explore enough so that you’ve found a few tools that work for you and be open to new tools as they show up for you. Whether its a new person coming into your life or guitar lessons or a beautiful deck of angel cards, these tools are here for our enrichment. They don’t replace the guidance we receive from within, but they enhance it, providing us with the support of the universe’s loving arms. Relax, surrender, and enjoy the ride. Namaste.

Photo: “Daimonji path,” originally uploaded by Chris Gladis

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