Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

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

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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

 

Susan Griffin quote December 8, 2008

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
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We know ourselves to be made from this earth. We know this earth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature.

The red-winged blackbird flies in us, in our inner sight. We see the arc of her flight. We measure the ellipse. We predict its climax. We are amazed. We are moved. We fly. We watch her wings negotiate the wind, the substance of the air, its elements and the elements of those elements, and count those elements found in other beings, the sea urchin’s sting, ink, this paper, our bones, the flesh of our tongues with which we make the sound “blackbird,” the ear with which we hear, the eye which travels the arc of her flight. And yet the blackbird does not fly in us but somewhere else free of our minds, and now even free of our sight, flying in the path of her own will.

~Susan Griffin

 

Returning to myself September 3, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 10:10 pm
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The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties in your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

So I took my own advice from yesterday–not that I realized I was giving advice–and went for a walk at the beach today. “Happily I recover. . . . / Happily I go forth. . . . / With lovely feelings may I walk. / As it used to be long ago, may I walk.” I had woken up this morning feeling off my game. After a week of being a bit under the weather, I was finally feeling better . . . so my Intellect gifted me with a flurry of thoughts that supposedly needed urgent attention. I realized that this tension I’ve been feeling in my neck and shoulders is a direct result of stress, which always surprises me. A year ago, I was working a crazy schedule plus a hellish commute for a job that I hated. What do I have to be stressed out about now?, I ask myself.

But that’s not really how it works. Whatever is going on your life is always the largest thing you’ve ever had to deal with. Not true, I know, but especially as time passes and you adjust to life as it has become, the things that happened in the past lose their full color and whatever is up for you right now feels HUGE. You can hear about starving children and domestic violence and rights abuses and whatever else makes the news today and think, how do my worries compare to that? Well, they don’t. But not because your challenges are inherently less important–it’s really that life isn’t relative. Sure, you can always do more for those other folks you’re hearing about it, and they may or may not receive relief from it or appreciate it. But none of that will make what’s going on for you go away. You are living your life in this moment, the present moment, the only moment there is, and therefore this moment is the most important moment in your life, in your world.

Which is how I came to be at the beach today. I realized that I’d allowed all the relativity, the shoulds, the external stresses to become more important that this moment. None of it really matters. Sure, I could use a larger income. Sure, very little would make me happier right now than being able to move. Sure, I have work to do around my house, for my clients, for myself. But when I stop experiencing the present moment, stop recognizing its importance, stop taking care of myself in this moment, then I have completely missed the point of living.

Now that I am back home again, those issues that felt oh-so-important this morning are still there, lingering in the back of my mind, but they no longer feel urgent, no longer feel larger than life. Because now I remember the smell of the ocean, the majesty of the seagulls and the pelicans, the feel of cypress bark on my skin. The work flows easily now, the stresses roll off me like water, and I am grounded, present, centered, and truly alive. Order has been restored to my small corner of the Universe, and all is well again. Life truly is good. Namaste.

Photo: “Old tree branch on a sandy beach, ” originally uploaded by René Ehrhardt

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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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Summer adventure July 27, 2008

Filed under: notes — jennsheridan @ 7:17 pm
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My husband and I leave in the morning for a summer adventure. We’re heading up to Crater Lake, camping there for a couple of days before heading to Ashland for a quick taste of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Nothing could have made me happier when my husband expressed a desire to spend his few days off up there. It’s absolutely beautiful and exactly what I needed to ground myself after the all-over-the-map-ness of the past couple of months.

Here’s to a wonderful, centering, grounding week for all of us. Namaste.

Photo: “Crater Lake – Discovery Point,” originally uploaded by Charles Dawley

 

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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