Death – a Once In A Lifetime Opportunity

bokeh lightsNext week is the 13th anniversary of my father’s death.

So death has been on my mind.

It’s funny our culture tends to ignore that death is an inevitable part of life.

We’re afraid. We don’t really know what happens after that.

Death – a once in a life opportunity.

I don’t want to miss it when my time comes.

As a tween, a friend said that she wanted to die in her sleep. I replied that it’s a once in a lilfe-time experience, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

Well, it’s once in a lifetime for most of us anyway. We’ve all heard stories or read books about people who lived to tell about their near-death experiences.

Eastern Wisdom

I’ve dallied with Eastern Philosophies since I first discovered them at age 17. And some traditions say Tibetan Book of Living and Dying is an excellent resource for anyone interested in this topic. It describes a meditation practice to prepare for this sacred moment.

That our entire lives can be a preparation for that sacred moment when we slip out of the body.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or not, the days before death are frequently when many people finally forgive someone they couldn’t, reveal secret longings of their heart, realize that they wanted to give more of themselves.

A Sacred Moment

In witnessing these sacred moments, I remember that I want to live my life that way. When I hear, “Live each day as if it were your last.”, I think of these things.

I don’t think it means to party til you drop, although some people may want to do that.

My father had an extended illness, and I was honored to witness in my many visits how his energy shifted. My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly, and I wonder whether she felt unfinished as she slipped away.

In those moments, I realize that anything could happen at any time, and any day could be my last on Earth.

I imagine what I might feel as I lay dying. What might I regret not saying or doing? What might I wish I had accomplished? Would I feel that I had finished my life… everything I wanted to accomplish? Both in the outer “success” realm, and in the inner, growth realm?

And why not do some of that NOW while I am healthy and able?

Couch Potato or Deep Living

So instead of watching another movie, I have the opportunity today, this evening, right now, to dive deep inside and ask those questions. To know more about who I am and why I came here.

To be more awake instead of working on what the late Linda Webb-Kakabah called her “Coach Potato Resume.”

My coach potato resume is pretty impressive already. So I have canceled my Netflix streaming and Hulu subscriptions.

I slip sometimes, and binge-watch a good TV show. But more and more, I turn off the set and spend time with my inner world.

I want to build other parts of my resume.

I want to listen to the big iYam. I mean, the Big I-am.

What About You?

What do you think about death?

Would you like some spiritual guidance in thinking about the inevitable? Read more about Spiritual coaching here and book a free 30-minute consultation with me.

Treat and Move Your Feet

Treat and Move Your Feet

Prayer

Have you ever heard the phrase treat and move your feet?

Spiritual Mind Treatment is a name for the affirmative prayer we practice at the Center for Spiritual Living. It means that prayer works, and that we need to take action in that direction.

So I can pray for increased income, and then I need to take steps to grow my business or get a job.

I can pray for health, and then I need to follow guidance on healthy eating and exercise.

I can pray for better relationships, and then I need to listen to my inner knowing about what to do to achieve that.

Not sure how to move your feet? Or in what direction? Continue reading “Treat and Move Your Feet”

The Emptiness of Mind-fullness

Have you ever thought of mindfulness as being empty?

The Emptiness of Mindfulness

yin-yang symbolBeing mindful can help to clear the mental chatter. At first it may seem like there’s more. That’s because you are noticing it more.

In these turbulent times, you may feel the need for a little more Peace in your life.

I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s sweet little book called Peace Is Every Step. In it, he suggests a simple mindfulness practice that can be done anywhere – on the meditation cushion, at the airport, standing in line at the grocery store.

It is this… Simply notice your breath. Feel it in your body – maybe you notice it most in your nose, or your throat, or your chest, or even your belly. Continue reading “The Emptiness of Mind-fullness”

Your Inner Caring Committee

Committe of CriticsWe’ve all heard the term “The Inner Critic.”

And you’ve probably heard the term “the committee in my head”.

Some of those voices from our past can be mean.
So it’s time to create an inner caring committee who is on your side all the time.

The Inner Caring Committee

Rick Hanson PhD-and book Buddha's BrainI would like to pass along a cool guided meditation called your Inner Caring Committee.

This process comes from Rick Hanson, PhD, who is a Psychologist and a Buddhist, and has extensively studied neuro-biology of the brain.

That’s how our thoughts, experiences, and behaviors actually change our physical brain! Cool, isn’t t? Continue reading “Your Inner Caring Committee”

Dancing My Way To Something Better

Dancing My Way To Something Better

 Lately I’ve been dancing my way to something better.
I’ve been learning West Coast Swing. And I love it!

Thanks, I’ll Do It Myself

I could always dance on my own, what my friend Nita calls “wiggle dancing”. I’ve taken modern dance, jazz dance, and bellydance. I LOVE moving to music. And I tend to do it in my own rhythm and my own way. Alone.

I even took 6 weeks of salsa lessons several years ago. But the few times I tried partner dancing, even with a lesson before a dance, I found it hard to keep my balance and stay centered. Not knowing the steps, I would have my weight on the wrong foot, and stumble with none of the grace I had in solo dancing. So I stuck with what I knew. Besides, I could avoid being groped by someone who had too much beer.

Follow the Leader

Now I am enjoying swing dancing! Not just because I’ve wanted to learn it for years, not just because I love dancing, not just because I love music. And not just because I feel like I’m “getting it” and so having fun in class and in practice time, or because learning a new skill, or because I am meeting a new group of people who I will probably see on the dance floor for years to come. Those are all reasons I love it.

 And Even More

And I find that it is opening the way I connect with people, my comfort level with strangers, as well as my confidence, balance, and coordination. I am having more fun dancing with a friend with much more experience in swing dancing.

Something that I wanted to do but that seemed so impossible, and I am finding that my years in Aikido serve me well, because I understand the concept of leading and following, of the leader (uke in Aikido) being responsible for the safety of the follower’s (nage).

Something that used to be scary is now becoming more and more fun!

Letting Spirit Lead the Way

And it’s a great analogy for following Spirit when I think I can do better on my own. Spirit knows a better way for me to ne and do and have what works for me. If I allow Spirit to lead, and I know how to follow, I just might find some wonderful surprised there too!

How About You?

How do you let Spirit lead the way?

If you would like some guidance in how to dance with your spirit, book a free 30-minute consultation with me.

Mindfulness not Mind Fullness

The term Mindfulness is a newer term.

We used to say consciousness, then awareness.

It’s about being mind-full. Not with thoughts and ideas and intellect.

But a mind full of awareness, presence, Be-ing.

It is about being present in the moment.

About not being caught up in the endless to do list.

About enjoying what we have, and getting off the hamster wheel of do, do, do.

If you are one of so many of us who answer the question “How are you?” with “Good, but busy!” then you might benefit from taking a few moments each day to be still and quiet. Continue reading “Mindfulness not Mind Fullness”

How Prayer Changes Your Brain

Did you know that prayer and meditation can change the physical structure of your brain for the better?

Pretty amazing!

A Well-Worn Path

Our Rev. Edward has given a great analogy about changing a thought or habit: Imagine that you walk through a field of tall grass on your way somewhere every day. There is a well-worn path that you take each time without really thinking about it.
Then one day you decide to go a different way. The tall grass springs right back up behind you as you pass through. But if you keep going that new way every time, eventually you wear a new path clear of grass all the way through the field.
Your brain works the same way. And this isn’t just a metaphor. The way we think affects our brains. When we think a thought or have a habit – good or bad – that we repeat day after day, that’s the well-worn path that takes little thought or effort. That’s a good thing for routine tasks like remembering how to drive, not to mention eat, walk, and so many other things we do every day!

Making a New Path in Your Brain

But when that well-worn path is a bad habit, then reaching for that cookie or cigarette or whatever, happens without our conscious participation. Pretty soon the whole bag of chips is gone and you wonder “How did that happen?” in the same way you sometimes “wake up” while driving and find yourself at your destination.

So changing that bad habit takes effort. You need to think about it, and resolve to choose the new way over and over again until you have worn a new path through the field. I’ve seen video of a new thought being formed where neurons that were connected disconnect and re-wire to other neurons in the brain. Pretty cool! (If I find it, I;ll add the link.)

“Neurons that fire together wire together.” Donald Hebb

This is where affirmative prayer can help.

New studies in neuro-science show that getting into a Delta brain wave state can help reprogram subconscious thoughts. In the relaxed state of prayer, you can slip in under the conscious radar to install new mental software. An affirmative prayer can actually start to wear that new path in the brain’s field. You strengthen the connections in your brain through repeated prayer and meditation.
“You can use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better.” Rick Hanson, PhD

How About You?

Do you find that prayer helps you change your mental or physical habits?

If you would like support and guidance in some inner re-wiring, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me to discuss whether spiritual coaching/ mentorship is right for you.

Labor Day

It’s Labor Day in the United States.

FreedomTraditionally Labor Day is a day when we honor people who work by giving most people the day off.

Since I’m self-employed these days, I don’t get many days off. And I often don’t notice holidays.

So I am creating a day to free myself from labor in another way- laboring under misconceptions.

Care to join me?

“What misconceptions?” you ask.

Any you that you would love to free yourself of. Continue reading “Labor Day”

Dancing with Chaos

There’s nothing like standing in the middle of a circle of three large men poised to attack as soon as I bow to signal that I am ready to begin. Not that I ever want to do this in real life. That would be dancing with chaos for real.

Dancing with Chaos

Randori can translate as dancing with chaos; it’s a martial art practice of three against one. It was one of my favorite Aikido practices, and although most schools reserve the practice for Black Belts, my teacher let us practice this early in our practice, and it became a requirement for earning our first belt.

It may sound intimidating, but when you learn how to do it, it’s actually more dangerous for the attackers. I never got injured when in the center of the randori, but I broke a finger once as attacker when the person in the center turned the “wrong” way.

Set-Up Practice for Life Off the Mat

I haven’t done Aikido for a very long time. But the lessons I learned apply to life off the mat as well as they do on the mat. Uh, no, I’m not recommending throwing people around or inviting attacks. But stuff happens, and life can sometimes be a dance of chaos.

Dancing with Chaos at the Mall

We used to do randori in short demos at the mall as a promotion for the dojo (school), and being a small woman, I often was the one in the middle with three big burly men. I remember one time in particular when my teacher said, “Get her!” and they really went after me. I tossed them around like dolls, and when I was done my legs were shaking and mush. But it proved to some ancient survival part of my brain that I could do hold my own. And by the way, oh yeah, this stuff really works!

Chaos Off the Mat

Aikido classWe’ve all had to dance with chaos at some point in our lives, even though it doesn’t usually involve three burly men and physical assault.

It’s more common to find chaos in our daily lives. And I haven’t been on the mat in at least a decade, but chaos in life? That’s a much more frequent occurrence.

The concepts are the same on the mat and off:

  1. Stay centered.
  2. Stay in your own rhythm.
  3. Don’t run away or deny what is happening.
  4. Remember who and what you are.
  5. Don’t over-reach.
  6. Use your energy efficiently.
  7. Brute force doesn’t work.
  8. Be present and feel what is.
  9. Learn from what works.
  10. Learn from what doesn’t work.
  11. Stay connected.

How About You?

Have you ever noticed a time when being centered help resolve a conflict? Please leave a comment to share.

Would you like some guidance when you need to dance with Choas?

Read more about Spiritual coaching here or book a free 30-minute consultation with me.