Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Happy Gratitude Day! November 27, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 3:50 pm
Tags: , , ,

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.
~Meister Eckhart

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I mean, a whole day dedicated to gratitude — what could be better than that? I know not everyone remembers that aspect of this holiday, choosing instead to focus on football and turkey. And don’t get me wrong, the holiday “trimmings” do play their part. But for me, it is always such a great opportunity to remember what all I am grateful for.

Today that gratitude begins with my family of choice, those friends who have been more than just friends, who have been such a deep support system that they’ve become family. My mom and I started celebrating Thanksgiving with friends of ours about 20 years ago. We’ve all moved around a lot during those 20 years, and managed to continue the holiday tradition in many different locations over the years, but now we find ourselves together again living within 40 miles of each other. I am truly grateful to be celebrating Thanksgiving “old school” this year, with this very important subset of my family of choice.

There are so many things I find myself grateful for today that I’ve put together an ABC’s of gratitude. Not only was it fun, but it encouraged me to explore my gratitude in a different way, enabling me to enjoy the surface and yet go a little deeper with it. Give it a try yourself and see how it goes. Namaste.

Autumn beauty     Being peaceful, powerful, and playful     Connection with Source     Dancing and drumming     Expanding consciousness     Family and friends     Grounded     Having my mom and Bonnie & Clyde (her cats) nearby     Intuitive insight     Joyful noise     Knowledge and understanding     Love and laughter with my husband     Morgan and Gryphon (my cats)     Nature in all its glory     Opportunities on the horizon     Power animals     Quiet time to just be     Release of the past     Shamanic journeying circle     Trust in my inner wisdom     Urban Dog Walkers     Vision     Women helping me to connect to my divine feminine     eXcitement and passion for life     Year of exploration     Zeppelin in the sky (I want to take a ride!)

Photo: “Autumn orange,” originally uploaded by Jurek Durczak

Advertisements
 

Reaping what you sow August 5, 2008

Filed under: practice,prosperity — jennsheridan @ 8:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Lavish [love] on others, receive it gratefully when it come to you. Cultivate friendship like a garden. It is the best love of all.
~Sister Helen Prejean

As I emerge from my first hot shower since Friday, I have a renewed sense that all is well in my world. I feel like I imagine my cats feel when waking up from a long nap–contented, cozy, comfortable. I just want to stretch and sigh and wiggle my toes and relax. Life truly is good.

I’ve been reading the past few days from a classic new thought book, Catherine Ponder’s The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. Like many classic prosperity texts, it is full of stories of how people changed their thinking and changed their lives. It’s a wonderful reminder of how the most basic law of the universe works. The bottom line? You reap what you sow. What does that mean exactly? That what you give is what you receive. You want love? Give love. You want respect? Give respect. You want riches? Give of yourself richly. Everything you give out into the universe, whether it’s the energy you radiate or donations of time and money or the way you treat your co-workers, it all comes back to you. When you’re giving generously, positively, then it comes back to you generously and positively, but it works the other way around too–when you’re miserly or angry, that comes back to you as lack and negativity.

It sounds oh, so simple . . . and it is. But practicing it positively isn’t always easy. If it were then everybody would be doing it. I’m looking at it as my challenge for the week. Whenever I can, I remind myself of my Truth. It might be with an affirmation (God is the Source of my infinite supply) or I might take it a step farther and do a little visualization with an affirmation (I am open to receive ALL of life’s riches) or I might take a moment to be grateful for whatever is right in front of me.

There’s a lot of power in gratitude, and I’ve been playing around with blessing whatever I have on hand. For instance, I am incredibly grateful that the hot water heater did not die during my Avon Walk training when I was taking lots of Epsom salt baths to help heal my sore, aching muscles. I say a little blessing for the food that I prepare for my husband and myself, or for the person who prepares my food when I eat out. I am also grateful both for the paycheck I’ll be picking up tomorrow and for money that is no longer due, like a $15 reduction on a monthly medication that just went into effect this weekend. Hallelujah!

Finally, I’m looking for ways that I can give. While money is definitely a part of the universal flow, the sky is the limit when it comes to things that we may give. It may be as simple as sharing a little piece of myself in my writing or brightening a friend’s day with an authentic compliment. Or it might be a volunteer opportunity–I’m looking forward to manning a rest stop at a cycling event this weekend, giving back to some folks who supported me during my Avon Walk training. One of my favorite examples from the book was a woman with flowers in her garden who took a few to an elderly shut-in across the street.

So what are you interesting in sowing this week? It doesn’t take a huge shift in your thinking for you to begin to see results. Take up the challenge with me and remember that the Universe is the Source of your infinite supply, be grateful for what you already have, and find ways to begin giving of yourself to the world around you. Then pay attention to what surprises come up for you, perhaps an unexpected check in the mail or maybe friends offering to take you out for dinner. The world is your oyster–enjoy the benefits! Namaste.

Photo: “harvest,” originally uploaded by Kerri 2008

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

 

A New Earth — Finding Who You Truly Are April 16, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the seventh week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“Knowing yourself deeply has nothing to do with whatever ideas are floating around in your mind. Knowing yourself is to be rooted in Being, instead of lost in your mind.”
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I swear, the A New Earth webinars with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle are just getting better and better. Each week we get to dive deeper and deeper into the present moment, deeper and deeper into one of the most important things we can learn, as Oprah said on Monday, which is to live life from a place of acceptance, of non-resistance to the present moment.

The three levels of every situation
One of the callers this week spoke of being highly sensitive, which leaves her often overwhelmed. I think Eckhart’s answer can be applied to anyone, sensitive or not, in any situation that is dredging up any type of negative emotion. Eckhart spoke of there being three levels to every situation.

1. What is happening: The first level of a situation is whatever is happening at this moment that is disturbing you (i.e. traffic, long lines at the store, loud noises).
2. Your reaction to what is happening: The second level of a situation is your reaction to what is happening, whether it’s a physical reaction (i.e. a contraction in your stomach) or an emotional reaction (i.e. overwhelment, frustration, irritation, annoyance, anger) or a thought pattern (i.e. I’m miserable, I can’t stand this any longer).
3. Your awareness of both of these levels: The third level is your awareness of the situation and your reaction to it, where there’s no judgment, it’s just purely observation.

When we let go of having our self-concept tied up in the way we react to things (like being highly sensitive) and accept what is happening in the now without judgment, we release old patterns of behavior that have left us feeling trapped. This is where true freedom lies.

Reaction vs. Response
I loved the distinction between REACTION and RESPONSE that I got out of this week’s class. Reaction comes from your ego, and always has a piece of what the ego expects to get out of the situation. Reaction is a conditioned response, based in the past and therefore never totally adequate to the present moment. Response comes from a place of truth, from your inner being, your inner wisdom, without judgment or negativity. When responding to a challenging person from a place of awareness, your intuition will provide the right words for the situation. It might be what the other person needs to hear or it could just be the truth you need to speak in that moment, but it will come up without negative emotion or attachment.

Abundance comes only to those who already have it.
This idea is one that I think many people have trouble really wrapping their minds around. I know when I was growing up, I didn’t understand the full meaning of Jesus’s words, “For whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” But once you understand that abundance comes from within, that it is the divine birthright of each and everyone of us, a light begins to shine on the meaning. We are all abundant–those who recognize this truth live this truth, and money flows to them like a river; those who do not believe this to be true live from a place of lack, and lack flows to them like a river. So how do you turn things around in your life? Begin by recognizing the abundance that is already present in your life. If you don’t see abundance anywhere, you aren’t looking closely enough. Abundance isn’t just in your bank account–it’s in the abundance of fresh product at the supermarket, the abundance of flowering plants in a garden, the abundance of blue in the sky. Appreciate what is around you, truly feeling grateful for it. Oprah even suggested keeping a gratitude journal, where every day you write down at least 5 things you are grateful for. Another way to truly recognize your own abundance is to give to others whatever it is you feel you are lacking. Anyone who can give, already has, and therefore is able to receive more in return.

I’ve been expressing my gratitude all over the place today. I’m grateful for the beautiful contrast between the blue sky and green trees outside my window. I’m grateful for the love of my wonderful cats and husband. I’m grateful to be home with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle today. I’m grateful to this path and to all that I’ve learned. I’m grateful for the little deck garden I created with lettuce and herbs. I’m grateful to have a large deck that can double as an outdoor dining room. I could keep going and going and going . . . So, what are you grateful for this week? Today? In this moment? Soak up that appreciation, write it down, and keep looking for all the good, all the bounty, that is already present in your life. Namaste.

Photo: “Revealing,” originally uploaded by Kjunstorm

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

 

Hugging back April 10, 2008

Something I was reading this week recommended hugging a tree, saying that if you get still and pay attention you should feel the tree hugging back. Somewhat by accident, I ended up participating in a tree hug fest yesterday, and I am so glad that I did. What a magnificent way to connect with nature and the universe. Booyah!

I’ve been feeling the pull towards the beach this week–it takes about 30 minutes to get over to Half Moon Bay and I tend to fill my days with so much busyness that I don’t feel I have time to make the journey. Every time I go I think, wow, it’s so close, why don’t I do this more often? The intellect can be so silly sometimes. Turning it off and letting the greater wisdom within me do the thinking always nets better results.

So while I was there I had two goals: to walk my 3-mile walk for my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer training, and to soak up as much beauty and peace and, well, beach as I could. It was absolutely gorgeous when I arrived–a deep blue sky reflecting into the sparkling blue ocean, relatively warm (I’m thinking mid-60s), a handful of fluffy, white clouds. I set off in a northerly direction along a path that ran along the top of the cliff. At some point I reached an easy access point to head down to the beach and I did, walking along the water and just enjoying the smell, the way the clouds dancing across the sun cast shadows on the sand, the feeling of the sand giving way beneath my feet.

When I turned around to head back the other way I realized that dark, heavy clouds were coming in, slowly obscuring the sun, but it was an almost tangible blanket with distinct edges–when you looked out to the horizon you could see the sun reflecting off the water on the other side a few miles out. It was absolutely breathtaking in its own way. On the way back I made a game out of walking in my own footsteps, half running in the sand and laughing at my own silliness. At the car, I knew I was having too much fun to go home, so I just kept walking past it towards a clump of trees I saw hanging on the edge of the cliff.

And man, as much fun as I had walking on the beach, exploring these trees was definitely the highlight of my day. It’s only Thursday and I don’t want to squelch any upcoming joy, otherwise I’d claim it as the highlight of my week! I had to cross a little bridge to reach this grove of cypresses and it was like crossing into another world. A deep peace fell over me and I felt as though I’d walked into a large cathedral with the kind of deep energy that collects over many years of reverence. My steps got very slow and I could feel my energy shift in response to the trees, keeping the playfulness but almost mutating it into a sense of celebration, a joie de vivre, that resonated all the way to my core.

There was a single cypress hanging off the edge of the cliff, completely bent so that its top ran almost parallel to the ground. I walked up to it and wrapped my arms around it, resting my chin on its bark and looking out over its vista. I’d been soaking up the beauty of the beach for almost an hour, but it was like I was seeing it for the first time, I was seeing it from the tree’s vantage point. I stood there for a few minutes, soaking up the energy of the tree, not even really conscious of the fact that my toes were just a couple of inches from the edge of a cliff. I just felt so safe, so centered, so grounded, so connected.

The next tree I came to was sticking out of the earth at about a 45 degree angle. It wasn’t one I could really hug, so instead I ran my hands along it, really seeing it through my palms and fingers, feeling the intricacies of its bark. There were a couple of knots that looked a bit like the deep, soulful eyes of a horse or a whale or something, and I looked deeply into them, feeling like I was looking into the tree’s soul. The tree emanated such a sense of grace, and I felt honored to have it share its presence with me.

After that, I ran through the clumps of trees I found and explored them like I was a little kid, seeing them as great places to play games, making different rooms out of the trees’ canopies, seeing how many I could walk between along the edge of the cliff without going back out to the path. These trees brought me to a place of such joy and gratitude. I felt childlike in their presence, totally in awe of them, yet having so much fun with them.

I am so grateful to have had this experience yesterday. I needed this connection, this reminder of the magnificence of the universe and my place in it. And now I know exactly where I can go if I ever need help reaching a place of peace and serenity. The grace of these trees will always show me the way. Namaste.

Photo: “the lone cypress as seen from the 17 mile drive,” originally uploaded by Vaidyanathan Krishnan

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

 

Notes from Jenn’s World April 3, 2008

Filed under: notes — jennsheridan @ 10:41 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Just a quick check-in about what’s going on in my world . . .

Friends abound!

I had lunch with former colleagues of mine, Mary and Maria, I’m heading out shortly for coffee with Annelene, a buddy from the Hoffman Process, and then Jerry, a friend from my former spiritual community, is in town so a bunch of us are joining him for dinner this evening. Considering how much time I spend by myself most days, it feels good to be reconnecting with so many wise and wonderful people today. Life is good!

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

It is so much fun to be training for this walk coming up in July–I just love watching my body and mind get stronger as the weeks progress. I am moving up to 8 miles Saturday, 5 miles Sunday in my training program this weekend. I went for a wonderful 3-mile walk today up at the reservoir–it was so warm and sunny and the air smelled so sweet. Aaaah . . . And, of course, everyone’s generous donations keep coming in. I’m up to 37% of my personal goal and 74% of my requirement. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Spiritual Fitness

It’s official! I’m kicking off my first class in a few weeks, based on the book Spiritual Fitness by the wonderful Caroline Reynolds. Preparing for this class is already so much fun–I can’t wait to get into the material with everyone! If you’re interested, you can check out my new website jennsheridan.wordpress.com and click on the Classes tab for more information. Yes, it’s true, I am in the process of creating a new website for myself, which means ultimately I will be moving away from this one. As wonderful as this platform has been for blogging, as I branch out into new arenas, I need greater flexibility from my website. I’m still working out the kinks over there and would love feedback as I go, so please check it out and let me know what you think!

Gratitude

I am just feeling so grateful to life and to this path today. I received my first tithe from a friend who has been enjoying Learning to Fly. This experiencing in exploring life and then getting to share it has been such an amazing ride for me that sometimes I forget that folks are out there reading as well, and it is inspiring to me that they find inspiration in what I write. So it’s just a big tumble of gratitude happening here all the way around. I love all the feedback I get in all its myriad forms–it’s such an affirmation of the work I’m doing. Thank you!

So, what’s going on with you? What are you grateful for? I’d love to hear all about any flow and synchronicity you are experiencing in your life. It truly is a wonderful world we live in. Namaste.

 

One message March 28, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 5:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.'”
~Kahlil Gibran

I had a wonderful, somewhat unexpected experience last night. A friend of mine heard somewhat vaguely about a blessing being done by a woman from India who imparts divine energy. She didn’t know anything else about it except when and where it would be held. It sounded interesting to me so I decided to go to it with her. The evening ended up being part of Sri Karunamayi’s 2008 World Tour, the Spiritual Discourse and Darshan piece of her larger Bay Area program. Amma, as she is called, is considered to be an embodiment of the divine mother, with a large heart full of love for individuals and the world as a whole. She has many followers in India and around the world, revered for her loving presence and good works.

While I’ve always found Hinduism interesting–really, find me a religion or philosophy that’s NOT interesting–I was always more attracted to the Taoist and Buddhist end of the Eastern religious spectrum. I’ve been introduced to small pieces of the faith throughout the years, even studying the Bhagavad Gita and using a mantra, but I’ve never been one of those people who felt incomplete without a guru or a trip to India. However, one of the things I love about being where I am on my path right now is that I really got to enjoy the experience last night, soak up all the good energy in the room, experience Amma’s amazing presence, and not worry about what to call it or find a label for myself in the midst of it. I loved the chanting–my favorite being the Sri Sarasweti Mantra, I’ve been singing it half the morning–loved feeling the vibration of the sounds in my chest and body, loved how it deepened my connection to everyone else in the room, loved how I could feel the vibration even during the silent meditation. During some of the chants there was drumming, which set my soul on fire and made me want to move, to participate in the creation of its beautiful, soulful rhythm.

Amma spoke on and off throughout the evening, sharing her perspective on the world and our place in it. I couldn’t always understand the words she was saying, but I always felt connected to her message. The more she spoke the more clear it became to me that she was speaking a truth I’d heard before, just with a slightly different perspective on it. She may be coming from the background of Sanātana Dharma and I may be coming from a patchwork quilt background that includes Christianity and Religious Science, but we are both pulling from the same well, connecting to the same sense of the divine. She spoke of our Oneness with the whole of life, and how to be at peace with that life. She spoke of our duty to be in the world but not of it, bringing our presence out into the world without getting sucked into its drama. She spoke of the importance of meditation, and how to find clues to the practice of meditation by looking out in nature. And she spoke of a deep, abiding love that fills her up and spreads out into the world through each person that allows it to, carrying with it the peace and joy that true love brings.

At the end of the evening, I got to take part in the blessing. Amma reached out and dabbed a mixture on my forehead as she murmured a few words, and I thanked her, looking deep in her eyes and soaking up her loving energy. I felt so light, so peaceful, and so grateful to have been part of the experience. I bet if you’d seen me at that moment, I would have been radiant, almost translucent. Slowly but surely, I’m sloughing off my labels, my personal dogma, my limiting beliefs. I am opening up to experiencing all of the wisdom and truth and power and love this universe has to offer. It’s a wonderful ride. Namaste.

Photo: “Sri Lanka,” originally uploaded by Steve Evans

(Yes, I know this is a picture of a Sri Lankan girl, which means not only is she from another country but there’s a 70% chance she’s Buddhist. However, it’s such a beautiful, striking photo that I wanted to share it. No labels, remember?)

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

 

A New Earth — Role-Playing: The Many Faces of the Ego March 25, 2008

Jenn’s thoughts and learnings from the fourth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

“There are three words that convey the secret of the art of living, the secret of all success and happiness: One With Life. Being one with life is being one with Now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer, and you are the dance.”
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

As always, Eckhart Tolle’s presence this week was very timely for me. I had lots of fresh material to work with as I was watching the podcast of last night’s webinar today. I appreciate so much Eckhart’s centered, grounded presence, and the natural way he is able to answer the questions as they come in. This week in particular I felt that Eckhart provided some helpful tools, for me anyway, in dealing with issues as they come up in the moment. I’d like to share a few of my favorites.

* Practicing the Presence. I always wanted to be like Brother Lawrence, practicing the Presence. What it used to mean to me was being aware of your connection to Source all of the time. I suppose this is what Eckhart experiences with his being fully in the present moment, being fully the awareness and the Presence instead of the ego. One caller asked about how to bring this more into our daily lives, into work and relationships and whatnot. Eckhart provided a handful of suggestions for consciously bringing Presence, beingness, awareness into your day, throughout the day, as a reminder of Who You Really Are–a form of practicing the Presence for the rest of us who are still in the process of awakening.

Eckhart suggests that you make sure you’re bringing your spiritual practice out into the world with you. While all practice helps you ultimately become aware, it easier to focus on your awareness, your aliveness when you’re at home alone than it is when you’re, say, at work. Take a few moments throughout your day to just be. You might allow your phone to ring two extra times, breathing in and noticing the aliveness within you before answering the phone. Or put a flower on your desk by your computer, periodically turning away from what you’re doing to appreciate the beauty and aliveness in the flower and feel its aliveness in you. Even one conscious breath, in and out, is a short meditation. There’s no need to wait until you’re home alone or until you feel you have plenty of time to meditate–you can bring it with you wherever you go.

* The awareness gap. I’ve heard many people over the years, myself included, be frustrated when they don’t find themselves applying their awareness enough in advance to avoid falling into an old pattern they thought they’d already let go of. Eckhart reminded us that the first step is awareness in any form. If you find yourself identifying with a role, behaving in ways that don’t serve you, or any other form of falling into old patterns, the first step is to become aware of it, even if it is after the fact. As you become more and more aware of what you tend to do, the gap between the act and the awareness begins to shrink until you find yourself becoming aware of what is happening while you are doing it. And as you continue to practice awareness, you will get to a place where you can see where you are headed even before you get there. So have a little patience with yourself, celebrate your awareness whenever you are having it, and the gap will keep shrinking until one day it vanishes.

* Facing challenges. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have areas of my life where it is easier to practice what I know and areas where I seem to keep tripping over my own feet. Eckhart says most people face one big challenge in their lives, whether it’s an illness or a traumatic event or a person. When we come face to face with that challenge there are really two ways we can react to it: 1) we can fall into our old patterns, our old ways of being–like if someone gets angry with you and you join them in their unconsciousness, getting angry back; or 2) we can allow the challenge to wake us up even more, becoming even more present and aware in the situation and taking steps to disconnect from the ego’s desire to react and just be. We can rail against a situation or we can surrender to it and go with the flow. We can get sucked into someone’s drama or we can just be with them and provide them a space to get it out of their system. One of Eckhart’s suggestions that I just loved was to pretend that you are transparent and just let whatever it is pass through you. He recommended practicing with a loud noise like a jackhammer, feeling the noise but allowing it to pass through, without reaction, without irritation. The more we practice with those smaller challenges, the more we can see the gifts in the bigger challenges and rise to the occasion.

* Guardians of being. Anyone who knows me knows how much of an animal person I am, and a cat person in particular. A caller asked about why it is that she always seems to be more present when she is with her dog. Eckhart spoke about pets (cats and dogs in particular) generally being more present than we are. I personally think it has to do with the way their memories are structured, but if you watch an animal, you can see that they are completely invested in the moment, fully present wherever they are. Right now my cat Morgan is cleaning herself in a sunny spot — she is completely focused on the task at hand, so much so that usually she only cleans one paw, like there aren’t three others for her to think about. Our pets become “guardians of being” when they bring that beingness to us. I think part of it is that as we engage with them we become fully present really in whatever it is that they are doing. But I also think that they elevate the level of beingness in the space, and when we occupy the space with them, we join them in that beingness. I didn’t really need another excuse to love having cats more, but it is always a good for me to remember the special spirits they are.

* Focus brings success. Perhaps my favorite part of the webinar was when Eckhart was clearing up a misconception from last week. A lot of people had come away with the idea that there’s no room for planning and ambition in the Now, and they wanted to know how you can still have a life of passion. He spoke about how much greater the passion and joy are when you stay in the present moment, when you stay focused on what you are doing now. The more you focus on where you want to get to, the more your passion degenerates into stress. Make plans, set intentions, have dreams, but then live each moment as it comes. Everything in life requires steps to get there, however the delusion is in the idea that the fulfillment somehow only exists in the future. As we’ve talked about before, life is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the ride.

Eckhart told a story from a Zen master that I think applies well to all of life. The gist was that if the archer focuses on winning, he steps out of the present moment and his need to win drains him of his power, keeping him from being able to hit the target. Mastery comes from being in the moment. Live each moment as it comes, experience the energy that moment contains, then let it go and move onto the next, experiencing it with just as much focus as the last. This is the path to true success, to true enjoyment of life, to true passion, to living life fully. Namaste.

Photo: “Masked figures,” originally uploaded by Frank K.

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