Learning to Fly

Live life to its fullest

Waiting July 23, 2009

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 4:03 pm
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“I’m a lover of reality. When I argue with What Is, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”
~ Byron Katie

It’s less than a week until my due date. While it feels like I’ve been pregnant for years, if I went into labor today, the baby would still be early. Time is definitely an illusion here towards the end. The good news is, we’ve gotten quite a bit done in the past couple of weeks. The amazing thing is how much there is (and always will be) left to do. I am definitely reminded of Abraham: “We are all on a perpetual cycle of joyous becoming. We will never get it done, ever, ever, ever, ever.” So while we aren’t “done,” we are ready. The car seat installation has been inspected (and approved). The hospital bags are (mostly) packed. We’ve lined up a friend to take care of our cats for us while we’re at the hospital. My birthing bracelet is complete, and beautiful! We have diapers, a bassinet for the baby to sleep in, baby clothes laundered and ready. It is all coming together.

What is left is the intricate waiting game of pre-labor. Unfortunately, I’m not handling it as gracefully as I might have liked. I pulled a muscle in my side last week—in my sleep, no less. My feet and calves are so swollen it feels like I’m lugging watermelons around. Every day it seems like my body finds some new and interesting way of throwing me a curve ball. I’d love to say that I view each new thing as part of my practice—and sometimes I do, although usually it’s after the fact—but for the most part I’m falling into the dangerous practice of living in the future, wishing I were somewhere I’m not.

I know that my practice for labor will be surrendering to the moment, accepting whatever happens, truly living “it is what it is.” What I wasn’t expecting was how much that would need to be my practice heading up to labor. As usual, reality is different from my expectations, and I have a choice about how to handle that. Some moments I fall into a funk, upset that I’m unable to get very much done. Other moments, I recognize that I need to start where I am, and that may mean I spend the day with my feet up, or it may mean that I get to run some errands or unpack a box or two, or I may be able to do a little of both. But whatever it is, it is exactly that—no more, no less. Finding peace with that is my daily and indefinite challenge.

And so here I find myself, in the rhythm of the unknown, celebrating my practice. As John Lennon sings, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So today I choose to focus on that life that I am living, what that life really is for me today, and allow everything else to fall into place in its own time. It’s all we can ever do, really, but there’s nothing quite like having it show up for you rather literally to make you realize what life really is all about. Enjoy the moment. Or not—it’s up to you. But this is the moment where your life is being lived. How does it feel? Namaste.

Photo: “It was summer she walked into…,” originally uploaded by Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic

 

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

 

Saint Augustine quote June 4, 2009

Filed under: quote of the week — jennsheridan @ 7:00 pm
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Imagine if all the tumult of the body were to quiet down, along with all our busy thoughts . . . Imagine if all things that are perishable grew still . . . And imagine if that moment were to go on and on, leaving behind all other sights and sounds but this one vision which ravishes and absorbs and fixes the beholder in joy, so that the rest of eternal life were like that moment of illumination which leaves us breathless.

~ Saint Augustine

 

Choosing peace

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 1:43 pm
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There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.
~Mahatma Gandhi

I don’t have a lot of public speaking experience, but I have had the pleasure of giving a handful of talks over the years. One of my earliest was on “choosing peace,” a concept that continues to come up for me from time to time, and always resonates. What I am remembering this week is that peace is the bottom, underlying truth of just about everything. When we desire something, often what we are truly desiring is to have more peace in our experience. When I desire a greater experience of prosperity in my life, is it really just that I desire more money? That desire might be specific — say, to be debt-free — but what does having more money ultimately give me? A sense of peace surrounding my finances: no need to worry, the knowledge that I can cope with whatever comes my way, the freedom to make choices from a place of trust instead of that place of “have to.” When I desire more time, am I really looking for more hours in the day? I’m looking to feel productive, to not be rushed, to know that it is all getting done with plenty of time to spare — I’m looking to feel at peace.

I think most of us are comfortable with the idea that the manifestation of our desires brings peace, but I think the truth is that being at peace is what brings about the manifestation of our desires. Peace is a choice that can be made regardless of the circumstances. Once you accept what is, accept whatever is up for you in this moment for exactly what it is, without judgment, and especially without condemnation, you can find peace with it. You don’t have to be debt-free to feel at peace with your finances. You don’t have to have plenty of time to complete your project in order to feel at peace with whatever the outcome is. You choose the peace first, which lays the foundation for your desires to be made manifest.

This week, this concept is cropping up everywhere. Most prominently, it is playing out at my office. There is a lot of change taking place, some ostensibly for the better, some ostensibly for the worse. Some of my co-workers have chosen to focus on the negative, and it is making them miserable. While I can see their perspective, I also know that I have been down that path before — I know where it leads, and I know that I don’t want to go there. Instead, I am choosing peace — choosing to find the good where I can, and where that method hasn’t been working for me, to find peace with what is. The difference in our experience of what is happening is striking — I am getting my work done, enjoying my work relationships, spending the bulk of my day smiling and laughing, and able to support others who are in need.

Thich Nhat Hanh says at the beginning of Being Peace, “If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” This the choice that I am making this week — choosing peace, enabling myself and those around me to experience that peace regardless of apparent circumstances. What choices are you making today? How can you make a different choice to create a different outcome in your life? Give it a whirl, see what happens. I can almost guarantee you’ll be happy you did. Namaste.

Photo: “Peace,” originally uploaded by momo

 

The love of Hāfez May 15, 2009

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 1:36 pm
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This morning I’m feeling oddly peaceful. This week has been a gentler roller coaster, full of subtle ups and downs. I’ve woken up most mornings after semi-sleepless nights feeling angsty with my mind on overload, but even after another rough night of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling mostly empty and peaceful. It seemed like a good morning to fill up the empty vessel that is me with the love and connection that Hāfez offers. He is, as always, a breath of fresh air that sings to my soul. Enjoy.

The Only One
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

From man’s perspective
In this intricate game of love,

It is so easy to become confused
And think you are the do-er.

But from God’s Infinite Certainty,
He always Knows

That He is the only One
Who should ever be put on trial.

From: I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz

In a Handful of God
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Poetry reveals that there is no empty space.

When your truth forsakes its shyness,
When your fears surrender to your strengths,
You will begin to experience

That all existence
Is a teeming sea of infinite life.

In a handful of ocean water
You could not count all the finely tuned
Musicians

Who are acting stoned
For very intelligent and sane reasons

And of course are becoming extremely sweet
And wild.

In a handful of the sky and earth,
In a handful of God,

We cannot count
All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.

True art reveals there is no void
Or darkness.

There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, brimming
Playful world.

From: The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz

My Brilliant Image
by Hāfez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

One day the sun admitted,

I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence (Tej)

That has cast my brilliant image!

I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,

The astonishing Light

Of your own Being!

From: I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz

Photo: “Dancing on a volcano,” originally uploaded by Amir Kuckovic

 

What is it you would let go of today? October 17, 2008

Filed under: inspiration — jennsheridan @ 1:26 pm
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In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?
~Mary Manin Morrissey

Today, I am letting go of stress and worry and agita. I am remembering that being busy has its own rhythm, its own flow, and that I just need to surrender to it. Life is good, full of good friends, new experiences, and exploration. There is always plenty of time, more than enough to do both what is necessary and what is fun. So today I choose to relax into that energy and see where it takes me.

An email was going around a few weeks back that is a lovely way of looking at surrender (amongst other things), and I wanted to share it with you today. Whatever your idea of the Oneness or a higher power may be, it is a good reminder that we don’t have to do everything. In fact, when we try to, we tend to just get in our own way. When we can truly let go of something, we give it some breathing room, allowing it to get solved on its own. So let go of what concerns you today, surrender it to this One Power, and then just show up and see where spirit leads you. Namaste.

Ten Guidelines from Swami
Satya Sai Baba
Source: Nava Sarathy – April 2007

1. Quit Worrying:
Life has dealt you a blow, and all you do is sit and worry. Have you forgotten that I am here to take all your burdens and carry them for you? Or do you just enjoy fretting over little things that comes your way?

2. Put it on the List:
Something needs to be done or taken care of. Put it on the list. No, not your list. Put it on MY to-do-list. Let ME be the one to take care of the problem. I can’t help you until you turn it over to ME. And although MY to-do-list is long, I am after all . . . God. I can take care of anything you put into MY hands. In fact, if the truth were ever really known, I take care of a lot of things for you that you never even realize.

3. Trust ME:
Once you have given your burdens to ME, quit trying to take them back. Trust in ME. Have the faith that I will take care of all your needs, your problems and your trials. Problems with the kids? Put them on MY list. Problem with finances? Put it on My list. Problems with your emotional roller coaster? For My sake, put it on My list. I want to help you. All you have to do is ask.

4. Leave it Alone:
Don’t wake up in morning and say, “Well, I am feeling much stronger now, I think I can handle it from here.” Why do you think you are feeling stronger now? It is simple. You gave Me your burdens and I am taking care of them. I also renew your strength and cover you in My peace. Don’t you know that if I give you these problems back, you will be right back where you started? Leave them with Me and forget about them. Just let Me do my job.

5. Talk to Me:
I want you to forget a lot of things. Forget what was making you crazy. Forget the worry and the fretting because you know I am in control. But there is one thing I pray you never forget. Please don’t forget to talk to Me – OFTEN! I LOVE YOU! I want to hear your voice. I want you to include Me in on the things going on in your life. I want to hear you talk about your friends and family. Prayer is simply that you having a conversation with Me. I want to be your dearest friend.

6. Have Faith:
I see a lot of things from up here that you can’t see from where you are. Have faith in Me that I know what I am doing. Trust Me; you wouldn’t want the view from My eyes. I will continue to care for you, and meet your needs. You only have to trust Me. Although I have a much bigger task than you, it seems as if you have so much trouble just doing this simple part. How hard can trust be?

7. Share:
You were taught to share when you were only two years old. When did you forget? That rule still applies. Share with those who are less fortunate than you. Share your joys with those who need encouragement. Share your laughter with those who have not heard any in such a long time. Share your tears with those who have forgotten to cry. Share your faith with those who have none.

8. Be Patient:
I managed to fix it so in just one lifetime you could have so many diverse experiences. You grow from a child to an adult, have children, change jobs many times, learn many trades, travel to so many places, meet thousands of people, and experience so much. How can you be so impatient then when it takes Me a little longer than you expect to handle something on My to-do-list? Trust in My timing, for My timing is perfect. Just because I created the entire universe in only six days, everyone thinks I should always rush, rush, rush.

9. Be Kind:
Be kind to others for I love them just as much as I love you. They may not dress like you, or talk like you, or live the same way you do, but I still love you all. Please try to get along, for My sake. I created each of you different in some way. It would be so boring if you were all identical. Please, know I love each of your differences.

10. Love Yourself:
As much as I love you, how can you not love yourself? You were created by Me for one reason only – to be loved, and to love in return. I am a God of love. Love Me. Love your neighbors. But also love yourself. It makes My heart ache when I see you so angry with yourself when things go wrong. You are very precious to Me.

Photo: “Letting Go..,” originally uploaded by Capture Queen

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Forgiveness August 7, 2008

Filed under: practice — jennsheridan @ 9:04 pm
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When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.
~La Rochefoucauld

Inspired by Catherine Ponder, I’ve been doing some great work around forgiveness this week. I found this ritual by Rev. Peggy Ray online and wanted to share it with you. I’ve found it really useful and recommend spending some time with it once a day for at least a week. Don’t feel like you’re harboring any resentments? Dig a little deeper, or perhaps start with yourself. Where there’s even a smidgen of hard feelings, spending a few minutes in forgiveness can create healing you weren’t even aware you needed. Namaste.

Healing Relationships Ritual

Sit comfortably in a chair, with your back upright, and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe slowly, deeply and rhythmically for at least five minutes. There is no need to hurry through this exercise. Let your body and breath slow to a peaceful, comfortable rhythm before going further.

Now imagine yourself surrounded by a beautiful cocoon of golden light. Let it settle softly about you, comforting and protecting you within its soothing glow. Feel yourself snuggling into it, feeling safe and warmed by its light. This is the healing light of God’s love and tender concern for you.

Say the Unity prayer aloud to yourself:

The Light of God surrounds me The love of God enfolds me The power of God protects me The presence of God watches over me Wherever I am, God is And all is well.

Now focus again on the golden light all around you. Begin to draw this healing cocoon of God’s love into your heart. Breathe in, inhaling slowly, drawing it deeply deeply deeply into your body. Let this wonderful healing light fill your heart with warmth and love. Feel it expanding throughout your body, healing any hurt areas within your emotions or heart. Circulate this golden energy all through your body, breathing deeply and easily as you do so. Take as long as you need to allow this energy to flow wherever it needs to.

Now visualize that the person that you are having difficulty with is sitting across from you. They are not allowed to speak to you or touch you without your permission or an invitation to do so. As clearly as you can, tell them your truth. Tell them about your anger, your pain, the hurt that you feel. Try not to blame them or to make them wrong, but to offer them the gift of your truth. Stay as centered on your own feelings and pain as you can. Say everything you need to say, leaving nothing back. Then recite the following prayer, beginning with their full name:

________, I forgive you for any pain that you have ever brought to me in this life or in any other life, whether real or imagined, deliberate or unintentional.

I ask that you, _______, forgive me for any hurt that I have ever brought to you, in this life or in any other life, whether real or imagined, deliberate or unintentional.

I bless you, I release you to God’s care and keeping, and I set us both free.

Now imagine two enormous hands of light, with palms cupped directly in front of you. Visualize them as huge, tender, loving hands – God’s hands, and they are as big as the room. Release the person and the situation into these beautiful tender hands of light. Just lay it all down into these loving hands. Surrender the other person, and the entire situation into God’s care and keeping. See yourself being set free as you release this heavy burden. It has taken a tremendous amount of energy to carry this pain. Take a moment to forgive yourself for having had angry or fearful thoughts about the other person.

Draw in another deep breath from your golden cocoon of light, and let the love slowly circulate all through your body, filling the areas that were full of hate just a few moments ago. Breathe deeply and slowly, and notice how light you feel. If you wish, crawl into those loving caring hands and lay your other burdens down as well. Feel these beautiful tender hands gently cradling you, rocking you, comforting you. Stay and rest in this healing peace as long as you need to.

End with this prayer:

Mother-Father-God, I thank you with joy and with gratitude for allowing me to shift, to grow, to heal. I know now that I am not doomed to endlessly hate and hurt. Through your love and tender care I am set free. Thank you for the light of your love as it illuminates my life and heals the wounds within. Amen.

Do this as often as you feel necessary until the situation is resolved. On a soul level we are all connected, so this healing energy will reach the other person, whether they are still on the Earth or have already passed on. No healing is ever lost.

Photo: “my balcony,” originally uploaded by shikeroku

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