Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Agnus Dei June 19, 2009

Filed under: inspiration,music — jennsheridan @ 1:02 pm
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I’ve been listening to this piece of transcendent music over and over again for a week now. In the midst of some major changes at the office on top of preparing for maternity leave and having an incredibly exhausting third trimester, it has been a bit of a crazy week. But every morning when I first open up my web browser, this piece opens up and fills the room. My brain may already be buzzing with all the things I have to do today, but this music almost instantly brings me to a place of deep peace, a place of true grace. I feel open, connected to source, and incredibly alive, all at once. And all those thoughts just slip away, leaving me refreshed and ready to take things one at a time. This is the kind of music I am passionate about — the kind of music that moves you, that transforms you, even if just for a moment. Aaaah . . .

Song: Choral version of Agnus Dei sung to Samuel Barber‘s Adagio for strings (Op. 11)
Performed by: The Choir of Trinity College
Album: Barber’s Adagio
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkObnNQCMtM


Photo: “Coral,” originally uploaded by Fran Villena

 

Rumi poem May 28, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye. . . .

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

~ Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

 

Aaah . . .

Filed under: inspiration,practice — jennsheridan @ 1:19 pm
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A friend of mine posted a quote from my dear favorite Hāfez this morning: “There are so many gifts still unopened from your birthday.” I realized it doesn’t matter what he’s saying, it just makes my whole being open up, relax, and let go. I was moved to seek out inspiration from another Sufi this morning, Rumi. After a few minutes of surrendering to the perspectives of these beautiful mystics, I felt the challenges of this week fall off of me.

One of the biggest challenges for me this week has been shaking off some of the recent decisions made by this lovely state that I live in, California. First, there was the news that Prop. 8 (banning gay marriage) was being upheld, followed quickly by the governor’s latest budget recommendation that includes, amongst other gems, cutting so much revenue to our state parks that 80% of them would have to close. After moving through my intial feelings of disappointment and frustration, I was able to find peace in the reminder that times of great change are often accompanied by chaos as the smallness and limiting beliefs created by fear are ultimately dissipated by the expansive, creative, loving energy of our ongoing growth. This snippet of Rumi’s wisdom seemed especially appropriate to me this morning:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

From: The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks

Here are a couple of other treasures from the realm of Rumi’s wisdom. I hope that they have a similar opening, expansive, releasing feeling for you today, and that your being can relax into the Aaah . . . . Namaste.

Moving Water
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears. Don’t let

others lead you. They may be blind or, worse, vultures.
Reach for the rope

of God. And what is that? Putting aside self-will.
Because of willfulness

people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment. Now

see the invisible. If you could leave your selfishness, you
would see how you’ve

been torturing your soul. We are born and live inside black water in a well.

How could we know what an open field of sunlight is? Don’t
insist on going where

you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form

a harmony. There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear

water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent.

From: The Glance

This We Have Now
~ by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From: The Essential Rumi

Photo: “Sunset gateway,” originally uploaded by Mirko Macari

 

Releasing expectations March 13, 2009

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:04 pm
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Expectations, small and large, have been rearing their ugly heads again for me lately. I’m discovering that pregnancy, especially when it isn’t theirs, seems to evoke a need in people to share their opinions and stereotypes with you. I’ve been bombarded with other people’s opinions, experiences, and beliefs about what happens while you’re pregnant, what happens during labor and delivery, and what happens once the baby is born. Generally speaking, I would say it is well meaning and comes from a desire to support you in what you’re going through, even when the content is on the negative end of the spectrum. Most of the time I see it that way and take what is said with a grain of salt. But every now and again, someone will say something it will just irk me to no end. When I stop and look at what is causing that reaction, I realize that if another person had said exactly the same thing it wouldn’t have bothered me so much, I would have been able slough it off. So what is the difference? Ah yes, expectations. Without fail, my reaction is caused by my having some expectation of that person, that they would think more like I do, that they would realize that what they’re saying is merely a perpetuation of stereotypes instead of being based in reality, or even that they would realize that every pregnancy, delivery, and baby is different and therefore every experience is unique.

In some respects, it is a welcome change for me to have this experience with other people instead of simply with myself. Most of the time, my expectations surround my own abilities, whether it’s about my productivity or being centered or showing up the way I choose to or, really, I could go on pretty much ad nauseam. But wherever those expectations are stemming from, whether it’s about expecting something of yourself or your situation or another person, expecting things to be better or different or any way at all, those expectations are getting in the way of living life fully. That may be a harsh way of looking at it, but the way I see it is that expectations may lead to many emotions — primarily disappointment, irritation, frustration, or even anger — but at the end of the day, they keep you from staying present, from experiencing the moment as it is happening. Expectations leave you in a state of comparison instead of enabling you to see the moment for what it is. Expectations leave you in judgment, allowing you to say that now you like the person or the situation or yourself more or less than you did before, instead of opening you up to see the divinity within.

The reminder in all this for me is that the path to freedom, the path to joy, is to see people for who they are in this moment, to accept the situation I find myself in for what it is, and to love myself unconditionally. I choose to set my intentions for my life, but allow the moments themselves to unfold in their own divine perfection, staying present to the experience and opening myself up to the opportunities each moment brings. This is my challenge to myself for this week, and I welcome you to join me. I would love to hear how it goes for you! Namaste.

Photo: “Bird’s Nest – Ptasie Gniazdo,” originally uploaded by Jarosław Pocztarski

 

Rilke quote February 27, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 8:00 pm
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I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Reaping what you sow August 5, 2008

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

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A New Earth — A New Earth May 22, 2008

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

“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through–listen to this music.”
~Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky

For whatever reason–resistance, the timing of the Universe is perfect, etc.–it has taken me over a week (two, if you count my trying to watch it on the plane to Georgia) to watch the final week of the A New Earth web event. And I’m kind of glad it did. It’s given me time to really soak this one up, to savor it, linger over it, which seems appropriate for a finale. Eckhart was his usual jovial self but Oprah seemed a little sad to have it all come to an end. I look forward to watching her continue to grow and unfold, to see where life continues to lead her.

My favorite part
I loved the way Oprah put the “what to call God” problem. She said something to the effect of, Spirit doesn’t have an ego so it doesn’t get hung up on what it’s called. Yes!

How to stay present
At one point Oprah shared that her mantra (my word, not hers) is, “Be here, be now.” She repeats it to herself as a reminder to be present. Mine is very similar, “Be Here Now.” I’m not sure why it needs to be capitalized, but that is how it shows up in my head. It’s almost like the words get dropped into my mind one by one, each word their own reminder. Be. Here. Now.

Growing older, growing wiser
One of the most striking concepts in this chapter for me was how all of this applies to growing old. As I’m sure we all do, I know many people who have so identified with what they DO that growing old has been a tragedy for them. Each responsibility they can no longer manage, each task they can no longer perform, is like an arrow through their heart. The process is nothing but pain, nothing but regret, and they spend their time either complaining, focusing solely on what’s wrong, or lost in nostalgia. However for others, they begin to recognize that there is so much more to life than just the doing. It is through having the doing reduced in their life that they recognize the presence and importance of being. They grow lighter, freer, and end up with a luminescent quality. These individuals have been rarer in my life, but are such lights when you come across them. I know which way I’d rather be, but I don’t want to wait until I’m old–I want to start today! (See the poem I posted this morning for further exploration of this subject.)

What you do is always secondary
There was just something about the way this concept was reiterated in this webcast that got me. What you do is always secondary; how you do it is primary. You want to know how to fulfill your destiny? Do whatever it is you are doing, no matter how seemingly large or small, completely and utterly consciously, full of presence. No what where you are, whether you’re mailing a package at the post office, waiting tables at a restaurant, washing up after breakfast, bring your Presence with you. That’s what showing up and fulfilling your destiny looks like. Placing the plate down on the table in front of your customer with full awareness, consciousness, presence, affects everyone around you. It doesn’t matter what it is you are doing–if you are doing it consciously, you are bringing more Presence into the world and playing your role in the greater awakening of the planet.

Goals and visions
This is one of those concepts I’ve been working with for over 15 years, but I feel like it was presented to me brand new. Your goal, your vision, is not something “out there” that is in the future. It lives within you as if it were already a reality, because on some level it already is. It isn’t a goal you are projecting yourself into, something you will reach someday. It isn’t something coming from a place of neediness or scarcity, it is coming from a place of fullness, the way it would feel if you already had it. Because it is something that already exists within you, ready to be born into form in your life. Eckhart talked about writing The Power of Now in this fashion. He sensed that there was a book within him that had already been written. His job, then, was just to allow this already completed construct to come out of him, to manifest itself. This is where true power lies, because all power exists in the present moment. It is about always focusing on this step, just this step. Whatever this moment is, it is a step on the journey.

Acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm
The key point to this chapter (to me, anyway) is that it is time to choose to do everything with acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm. If you cannot operate from one of these three modalities, you are not in alignment with the present moment, with yourself, with life, and you are causing yourself and/or those around you suffering. So the question to always ask yourself is, what is my relationship with the present moment? Am I okay with this moment, friendly with it? If yes, then you are empowered. If no, then ask yourself what you can do to move towards acceptance. It may be that you need to stop doing whatever it is you’re doing, step aside and into something that you can accept. Or you may be able to find acceptance just through becoming aware of where you are, consciously shifting your attention towards recognizing that this moment is what it is. You don’t have to enjoy changing a tire, but when you accept that the tire is flat and changing it is what needs to be done, as opposed to resisting it, cursing it, getting upset with it, etc., then you will be able to find peace in the experience.

I loved what Eckhart had to say about enjoyment, that it will replace wanting. Wanting comes from a place of lack, and when you get whatever it is you were wanting, you feel empty and unfulfilled. Enjoyment, however, leaves you feeling full. It brings empowerment to what you do, flowing through you and allowing creativity to be born in what you are doing. Joy does not come from what you do, from another person, from outside of you in any way–it comes from within, flowing out of you into the world around you.

So my exercise for this week, and yours too, if you so choose, is to pay attention to where I am and see if I can shift the energy. If I feel like I’m in resistance, fighting the moment, then it is time for me to move into acceptance. If it’s something I’m already able to accept, then I can make a game out of it, find a way to turn that acceptance into enjoyment. And if it’s something I’m already able to enjoy, then I can look for that extra something that reminds me this moment is a step towards manifesting my vision and allow enthusiasm to come into play. The new earth already exists within us. Our job now is to allow it to come through us, to be made manifest in form in our lives. Namaste.

Photo: “Dream,” originally uploaded by Jan McLaughlin

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