Pandemic

Stepping Out of the Familiar

Each morning I pick a daily tarot card. 

In addition to honing my skills and understanding of the deck, this practice offers me the opportunity to look more deeply at the direction of my life, contemplate the choices in front of me, and increase my self awareness. Yesterday, I picked the two of Wands and its message was particularly timely and on point.

Ever since last week’s blog about the importance of creativity, I have been thinking about ways to break out of my comfort zone and attract new experiences that will be more fun and expand my imagination. I have been making lists of activities I’d like to try and places I want to bring my inner artist as suggested by Julia Cameron in her book, the Artist’s Way. 

It occurred to me that I had already started to experiment with a few new endeavors, like painting with acrylics while following a Youtube tutorial and concocting a variety of vegan dishes from a beautiful new cookbook I purchased a couple of weeks ago.  Both of these undertakings have been fun with surprisingly good results, and even though the outcome has been better than expected, I am realizing that the real reward lies in the process.

According to Cameron, we all have access to an unlimited supply of creativity. As children, we are open and able to easily tap into this source. Then, as time goes on, we become blocked by limiting beliefs and experiences and have an increasingly hard time conjuring up our imaginings. 

Most of us have a tendency to fall into repeated patterns and sink deeper into what is familiar. We seek out comfort and avoid pain. This past year, in response to the pandemic, we found ourselves shrinking into an even more limited existence with less stimulation and interaction. The grooves of our daily lives got deeper and smaller.

This week, as the sun continues to grow stronger and the world opens up, it feels like it might be time to break free and move into something novel and more energizing.

One way to do this is to make a list of new places to see and things to do, and then begin checking them off, one by one, even if they are outside our comfort zone. Having a regular and consistent time for these adventures is optimal as is doing them alone. It is also important not to focus on the outcome, like discovering the perfect destination, becoming an expert tennis player, or learning to play the guitar in 2 lessons. The process is what counts and it is what will attract more creativity and expand our experience as we continue down the road.

The 2 of Wands was a perfect pick because it encourages us to choose adventure over comfort. It tells us that envisioning our dream is good, but living it is even better. I love this advice as I am in the process of making plans for a few different experiences this spring and summer, like taking surfing lessons, mountain biking on one new trail each month, traveling to some local towns that are unfamiliar, and continuing to paint weekly. I have already planned a summer trip out west and have signed up for a beginner golf clinic. 

Stepping out is scary, but once we do and let go of the outcome, I believe our imaginations will grow and soon we’ll be tapping into unlimited ideas, expanding our minds and having a lot of fun in the process. 

To begin manifesting your best life, visit my website here https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/.

To Everything There is a Season

Adapting to the pandemic, NYC constructs outdoor pods for dining in winter, a testament to the city’s innovation and resilience. Photo from the NYTimes.

Since the pandemic hit nearly a year ago, I have been keeping a low profile. I have stayed home most of the time, starting an online coaching business, visiting with family and friends over zoom, learning to paint through Youtube tutorials, expanding my cooking skills, exercising to online classes and watching countless Netflix productions. True, there have been some new insights, habits and skills gained, but at this point, I am eager for life to return to normal.

So, when my daughter who lives in NYC asked if I could come for a brief visit to drop off a guitar and celebrate her 27th birthday, I jumped at the chance. She said that NYC restaurants were open for indoor seating at 25% capacity and many had adapted by building outdoor heated structures that were separated with temporary walls. She said to wear a mask at all times, follow the same protocol I had at home and I’d be fine. As I began to think about the details, however, I got a little nervous. What would the City be like in the wake of Covid 19? Would it really be safe to walk down the street in such confined quarters? Where would we stay? Should we plan to eat outside in the middle of February? Had I made a bad decision?

When my boyfriend and I first arrived, we were struck by how little traffic there was. We had both driven through these city streets on a number of occasions over the years, and this was a stark contrast. In place of cars, there were hundreds of electric bikes, most making deliveries of groceries, meals and numerous other goods. Some were even pulling trailers. There seemed to be more bikes than cars and it felt a little unsettling as the traffic rules for this growing culture were vague and chaotic. It was a bit of a free-for-all and we found ourselves looking over our shoulders and around corners constantly in order to avoid these speeding delivery vessels. 

My daughter lives between Murray Hill and Gramercy near the Lower East Side and we were able to find a hotel within a 30 minute walk to her apartment and a 15 minute walk to where we would be having dinner. We had stayed at this hotel before so we felt comfortable booking a room there and the cost was nearly half what we had spent in the past. We settled in, regrouped and then made our way to dinner. My daughter chose a chic Indonesion/French restaurant in Nolita and we decided to try the indoor seating because well, it was cold and we wanted to get the full culinary experience. 

As we walked, we began to notice a number of empty storefronts and many makeshift structures jutting out into the street so that clientele could sit outside to enjoy their meal. Many were charming, garnished with clever decor and seating pods separated by plywood walls and plastic entrances, a testament to the innovative and resilient spirit of the New York culture. Modular heaters accompanied each space and although eating while dressed in winter garb, the diners seemed cozy and relaxed. 

We enjoyed a first class dinner in a nearly empty restaurant with all the amenities and accoutrements one would expect of a fine NYC establishment. It almost felt normal until we got the bill via an app on my cell phone and did all the paying and tipping without making any further human contact. 

It was a decent walk back to my daughter’s apartment, but the weather had cleared, we had eaten well, and the visit felt too short, so we offered to accompany her home.  We were only a few minutes into the walk when things began to feel different. I had visited my daughter before and walked through these very neighborhoods, but now I noticed an increased number of vacant storefronts. There seemed to be a lot more graffiti and there was trash everywhere. (It may have been trash day or a result of the winter storms that had passed through, but I never noticed it like this before). There were few people walking the streets and as we continued, it got quieter and more desolate. Where there normally would have been hundreds bustling to and fro, there were only a few.  True, it was Monday, but it was only 9 p.m. when we dropped off my daughter and headed back to the hotel, and the city was asleep. 

As my boyfriend and I turned a corner, we paused for a moment to take it all in. I felt a weight in my chest and a realization of the extent to which Covid 19 had administered a devastating blow to this proud metropolis. I felt fear, grief, sadness and uncertainty. It seemed very clear in that moment that life would never return to normal because that’s not how it all works. We cannot erase an experience or even go on as if it hasn’t happened. We can never put it all behind us, because even though the phase of destruction eventually ends, it becomes a part of who we are going forward. And in that, I felt hope.

As I stood there looking at the boarded up storefronts and the moon under a brightening winter sky, I began to think about Pete Seeger’s song which was made an international hit by the Byrds in 1965 when it rose to #1 on the Billboard charts. The lyrics of the song, Turn, Turn, Turn, were taken directly from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. They rang true then and they ring true now. 

“To Everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

New York City will rebuild just as we will all find ways to heal and redesign ourselves.  We are creatures of adaptation and soon we will flourish again, as the cycle of life continues. Turn, turn, turn.

Other Websites.   Body: https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul: https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music: https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Riding Out the Pandemic Crucible

The Hanged Man as portrayed in two different Tarot decks.

I had a remarkable experience this week which I’d like to share. I am a student of the tarot and as part of my recent practice, I have been drawing a daily card, setting intentions for the day related to the message and then reflecting at night. It’s a good way to gain insights into my life while enhancing my understanding and relationship to the cards. 

I usually find the themes to have important and personal cues which guide me to areas of my life needing attention and often catalyze new ideas and insights. It is not uncommon for me to feel the Universe pushing or pulling me in a given direction or to hear my inner wisdom raise its voice. 

This week, although I was not looking for help on any particular issue, the cards seemed to be asking me to stop and pay attention, and they were rather loud and clear.

Over the past four days, I have drawn the Hanged Man every single time. This is highly unlikely given the fact that I shuffle the deck fully and then cut it at different places before uncovering the chosen card.  It didn’t seem that strange when the Hanged Man appeared for a second time. After all, coincidences happen and the interpretation made sense. On the third day, I thought, “how strange,” and by the fourth (today), I had no choice but to stop and take a closer look.

The Hanged Man card in the Tarot deck symbolizes suspension, detachment, letting go, and uncertainty. The subject hangs from a tree, tied by one foot. He is not free to go easily. Yet, he appears relaxed as if surrendering to his circumstances. His second leg and arms are not bonded and a yellow light emanates from his head, indicating intellect and spiritual development. The card is said to suggest sacrifice, a necessary step in the process of moving forward. Sometimes, the card asks for a certain action to be suspended. It tells us the time is not right to make a move. I have also read that the Hanged Man can represent a crucible, a situation or severe trial which leads to the creation of something new and improved.

I have been thinking lately about the pandemic and its effects on the mental health of our world. People are suffering or at the least being tried, physically, financially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. There has been enormous loss and challenging circumstances everywhere and on every level. The economy is wincing. Politics are dividing and in our isolation, we are being forced to face ourselves head on. There is nowhere to hide. We have been stripped of our usual escape routes, like busying our lives to the point of exhaustion and complete distraction. And although the situation is improving, there is no saying how much longer we will be hanging from the tree. 

I have been noticing a growing pressure myself and like many, I feel the need to bust out, to make a move, to release the bondage, to battle with the cords that bind me, and to break free. Some days I feel unnaturally restrained. However, as the Hanged Man suggests, it may not be the right time to act. It might serve me better to relax into the situation and allow my inner light  to mull, to grow and to strengthen. It may also be time to surrender to the restrictions and fallout of the pandemic instead of trying to resist. It seems the Hanged Man is telling me with certainty to accept what is and remain patient with life’s timing. 

This seems to be a good message given the current state of the world and one that is hard to ignore considering the way it was delivered (drawing 4 of the same card in a row!).  I may be more successful and the journey smoother if I hang loose for a time. If I allow myself to ride out the pandemic crucible with acceptance and patience, it’s possible I will emerge on the other side as something new and more highly evolved.

Check out my other websites:  Body https://www.inbalancetherapeutics.net/   Soul https://www.mysoulpurposeproject.com/  Music https://www.wendydarlingandthelostboy.org/

Yin Energy and the Changing Tide

Life Coaching: MySoulPurposeProject.com 
Bodywork: InBalanceTherapeutics.net 
Music: WendyDarlingandtheLostBoy.org
Cape Elizabeth, Maine

A couple of week’s ago, my daughter asked me to do a tarot card reading for her. She had been on a few dates with someone new and was feeling uncertain about where the relationship was headed. She wanted to know what he was thinking and feeling and if her intuition was correct. She believed they were no longer clicking, that he was pulling away, and she wasn’t sure what to do.

After drawing the cards, the message came forward. The man, who had seemed so promising at first, was dealing with a number of personal issues. The cards suggested that my daughter give him the needed space and although she didn’t have to push him away, she also didn’t need to get involved. If and when he was ready, he would come to her. 

Her job was to focus on nourishing and growing herself, separately. That way, no matter what happened with the current situation, she would be evolving into a more beautiful and self actualized person who would inevitably attract the ideal partner when the time was right. 

I thought it was wise advice and realized that I had been nurturing my own growth in much the same way recently. 

Ever since Covid arrived and we have been forced to social distance, a lot has changed. I am no longer able to get together with family and friends in the way I used to. My band cannot perform live. Restaurants are limited or closed. I can’t work out at the gym. There haven’t been any concerts or fairs and a limited number of sporting events. In essence, there isn’t much to do.

This has become increasingly frustrating. However, there have been a number of silver linings. I have been offered the time and space to slow down and reflect, to sleep more, to read, to take daily walks, spend more time outdoors, cook healthier meals, and rest. In essence, the pandemic restrictions have allowed me to embrace the Yin energy which is often overshadowed in our modern lives.

“Yin energy is considered feminine,” says an article on peacefulmind.com. “Yin is very contracting, passive, languid, inward, and heavier. Unlike Yang, Yin is slow moving and contracts inward.” Some common properties of Yin include: earth, moon, darkness, water, female, space, matter, rest, growth, and contraction. Yang energy, in contrast, contains the elements of sun, light, fire, activity, male, and expansion.  https://www.peacefulmind.com/project/yin-energy/

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation, “Everything contains Yin and Yang. They are two opposite yet complementary energies.” and “ Although they are totally different—opposite—in their individual qualities and nature, they are interdependent. Yin and Yang cannot exist without the other; they are never separate.”  https://www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/yin-yang-theory/

The more thought I have given to this concept of Yin and Yang, the more I can see its relationship to what is happening in the world right now.

The Covid crisis is perhaps Mother Nature’s way of rebalancing her energy. Our planet and its inhabitants have been heading down an unhealthy road for quite some time. As a culture, the pace of our lives has continued to increase to an almost break neck speed. We can’t sleep. The rates of anxiety and depression are at staggering levels, and we constantly feel rushed. We take more medication than ever and we spend less free time with our friends and loved ones. 

The earth is also suffering as our outwardly aggressive energy and lifestyles demand too much and give too little. It’s as if we’ve been stuck in Yang energy for much too long and can’t reverse the inertia on our own. No matter how devastating this pandemic has been, it seems to be a necessary step in the healing and rebalancing process. 

The tide is turning, as it always does, and we are being forced towards a more passive and reflective approach in order to survive.

As fall quickly descends into winter, I have had feelings of dread.  The virus is not yet under control. People are fed up with restrictions just as the weather is forcing us indoors. Covid cases are rising. The darkness and cold are lurking, and yet, I have felt an increasing sense of peace and joy coming from a deeper level. 

Perhaps it is my inner wisdom assuring me that all is as it should be, or maybe, like my daughter, I am getting the message that now is the time to focus on myself, to slow down, to grow, to create, and to heal. I do believe that within this contracted state, I will have the opportunity to envision, plant and nourish the seeds of a brighter future.

The Power of Flower Essence

Flower Essence Pic

I first got involved with flower essences about 15 years ago when I was studying energy healing for personal growth. My soul had been nagging me for years to take a deeper look, to make some changes, so that it could bloom in full. 

I tried a variety of modalities including yoga, Reiki, massage, craniosacral therapy, and nutrition and although they all helped to center my mind and calm my energy, they weren’t able to specifically address my deeper feelings. I realized there was an emotional component to whatever was holding me back and until I could temper it, I would never be able to fully heal and move forward.

The mentor with whom I was studying at the time recommended I try Essence Therapy.

I was quick to fall in love. I ordered a few bottles of the concentrated remedies from Alaskan Flower Essences (https://alaskanessences.com/) and began to experiment.  Their gentle healing energy flooded my senses in the most subtle ways and suddenly I would notice my perspective had changed or I was no longer feeling angry or sad about a particular situation. It was that easy. No talk therapy. No painful memories. No medication. No discomfort.

Many years have passed and I am once again revisiting the power of the flower essence. 

As I began to work on the Life Purpose Project (a business I started recently), I noticed that a lot of the obstacles that keep people from moving towards their fullest potential have an emotional component. I realized that even though I had developed tools for gaining insights and designing action steps, without the ability to remove the emotional roadblocks, we can only get so far. 

 

In my program of identifying and moving towards one’s life purpose, I encompass dream interpretation, tarot, collaborative discussion and planning, and lots of additional resources. I also encourage everyone to choose one or two flower essences to help them move along more quickly and easily. 

There are many excellent sources for essences including Alaskan Essences (https://alaskanessences.com/), Hawaiin Essences (https://www.janebellessences.com/), and the most widely known, Bach Flower Essences (https://www.bachremedies.com/). 

According to the Flower Essence Society, “flower essences are liquid extracts used to address profound issues of emotional well-being, soul development, and mind-body health. They are part of an emerging field of subtle energy medicine, which also includes homeopathy, acupuncture, color therapy, therapeutic touch and similar modalities.”

Essences are made by harvesting pristine wild flowers and garden blossoms and then capturing their unique energy imprint in distilled water as it is infused by the sun. The potentized herbal infusions or decoctions are then preserved in an alcohol base and further diluted before being distributed. They are administered by putting a few drops under the tongue a couple of times a day or by dropping the essence in a glass of water and sipping as needed.

Many people confuse Flower Essences and Essential Oils and although each complement the other, they are in fact very different.

According to the Flower Essence Society, “The most significant difference is that essential oils have definite aromas; flower essences do not. Essential oils work primarily through the sense of smell and its effect upon the old brain. They are highly concentrated chemical substances, many of which are quite poisonous taken internally.  Essential oils are produced from large quantities of plant material, the flowers, roots, seeds, or bark, depending on the location of the volatile oils in the plant. Steam-distillation is the most common extraction method. With flower essences, only the flowers are used and in a very small quantity. The vibrational imprint of the flower is extracted in water, which is then further diluted. Thus essential oils are a physical extract and flower essences are a subtle energy extract.”

For more information, visit  http://www.fesflowers.com/learn-about-flower-essences/what-are-flower-essences/

During the pandemic, I have experienced more anxiety than usual. I have found Bach’s Rescue Remedy to help curb the stressful feelings and keep me calm. I am also working with Bach’s Star of Bethlehem and Walnut.

I am an advocate of flower essences for many reasons, but perhaps the most powerful is their ability to balance our emotions and help us adjust to a healthier perspective through the gentle and subtle genius of nature. Sometimes life’s greatest healing gifts are right outside our door.

The Life Purpose Project

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Even before the pandemic hit, I had been trying to discover my life’s purpose. Why am I here? What am I meant to do? I can remember (as far back as my teenage years) feeling that I was meant to do something important during my time here on earth.  I began to pursue different options in my 20s, but then, like many people, my focus turned to finding a partner and starting a family. I knew I wanted to have children. That was a certainty.

My family life was traditional. My husband worked long hours while I managed the house and our two girls. We were busy. Between gymnastics meets, crew regattas, music lessons, schoolwork, meal planning and home management, my time and energy were pretty tapped. I added a part time massage business when my younger daughter was 5 and this satisfied some of my yearning. However, I knew it wasn’t enough, and although I received immense joy from raising children, I felt there was something else waiting for me. 

I am now in my 50s. My girls are out in the world beginning their own lives and I have found myself staring into the future, knowing that the possibilities are endless, but also feeling myself frozen in old habits and uncertainty. Midlife is a challenging time of transition, loss, and redesign. Yet, it also offers a broad spectrum of possibilities and another chance to uncover the reasons why we are here. There is an entire new chapter of life waiting to be written. 

During the recent quarantine, I have had time to reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go. With the world in enormous flux and a massive state of upheaval, discovering my soul’s path seems that much more urgent.

I have been thinking about a way to realize my life’s purpose while also helping others reach theirs. I have been studying and testing a number of modalities and approaches over the years and feel that now is the time to put them into a comprehensive package ready for implementation and action. 

I see myself as a Life Purpose Facilitator of sorts with the objective of helping individuals identify their life’s mission and then begin to remove blocks that prevent them from moving forward. 

I envision myself attracting those who have an inner gnawing and strong desire to uncover a hidden or under developed life purpose. This journey can begin at any age, though I see a particular need for middle aged men and women going through their “second birth.” 

A couple of weeks ago, I put together a program that I can carry out online through a weekly zoom meeting. I decided to offer it to 5-10 volunteers free of charge once a week for one month as a way to practice, revise, and refine the service. I sent out a letter to my past and present massage clients and the response was affirming.

I am now halfway through the month-long trial and it is going extremely well. I am offering a holistic, natural approach to soul purpose discovery combining tarot, energy healing (distance Reiki, chakra healing), dream interpretation, and flower essence therapy. These are all modalities I have studied over the years for personal growth and am now thrilled to be able to share them with others. It is encouraging to observe the insights and breakthroughs that are already beginning to happen with my clients.

The Life Purpose Project, as I am calling it, is the perfect convergence of many areas of interest and study. Everything about it feels right. I have a sturdy base of knowledge with much to learn (all of which is inspiring and intriguing), and although I’m not sure exactly where it will lead, I can tell that I am on the right path. What a surprising irony, that my own life purpose would be to help others find theirs.

What to Keep

LA SkylineAs the world struggles through the Covid-19 pandemic and begins its slow recovery, there seems to be a need to shed all that is no longer serving. In order to heal, we need to reflect on our current condition and define that which is harming us and that which makes us stronger. We need to let go of old practices and patterns that are holding us back and build upon the things that work.

I believe this to be the case with the Earth, with the global economy, and with each of us individually.

Ever since the human lockdown in mid March, the Earth has felt substantial relief. With an enormous decrease in the use of fossil fuels, the carbon footprint has been drastically reduced and as a result we have seen less pollution and a re-emergence of wildlife. 

Many believe that we are being offered a unique opportunity to use the reduced levels of CO2 output as a starting point and find ways to maintain this lower level in the coming years. However, many also fear that as we re-emerge into the world, it will be easy to fall back into our old habits without earnest intent and strict discipline.

The good news is that we have been given another chance. What remains to be seen is how we choose to move forward.

Economically speaking, there is an overwhelming need to re-evaluate as well. With many businesses being forced to shut down (albeit temporarily), consumers have explored alternative ways to satisfy their needs.  

We have cooked more of our meals or done takeout and curbside pickup.  We have turned towards alternative forms of exercise such as walking, biking and online workout classes. We are seeing the benefits of internet shopping as we enjoy the safety and convenience of having food and products delivered right to our doorsteps, and as additional people work effectively from home, we question the need for elaborate office space in expensive locations (or any office space for that matter).

Many of these new practices will permanently replace the old ways of doing business. We may see fewer restaurants, gyms, office buildings, and storefronts. We’ll see a difference in the way food is distributed and how we work. In an attempt to survive financially, we’ll rid ourselves of the practices that no longer work in favor of those that do.

On a personal level, I have been consumed with a similar thought process. My life and habits have changed drastically over the last few months and I’m realizing some of the new ways may be working better. I have found that coloring my hair once a month is easy, looks almost as good, and is much more time and cost effective. I have found that I can cook a meal just as well if not better than most restaurants at a fraction of the cost and that the scope and variety of workout options online may be all I need. I have realized that I don’t have to travel long distances to find adventure and outdoor activity, and I have seen the advantages of being able to work virtually.

The overall trend is towards scaling back, becoming more efficient, spending less, choosing quality over quantity, having a decreased impact on the environment, reducing meat intake, and adopting a healthier lifestyle (which values less as more). In other words, shedding what I don’t really need and building on the rest. 

As the world begins to re-open and we evaluate our new and old habits, I urge everyone to give careful consideration to what is working and what is not, for the earth, for our economy and for ourselves. I hold hope that we will let go of the habits and practices that are harmful and decide wisely what to keep.

A Night Without TV

No TV Blog

I have never been a big TV watcher. For as far back as I can remember, I could only take so much. I would have periods of binging or try out the most popular show, but the distraction never lasted long because ultimately, it didn’t make me feel good. 

Since the pandemic quarantine, however, things have changed. 

We have been watching TV nearly every night. With the scope, variety, and quality of shows offered by Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO at our fingertips, there is never a shortage of options. That, coupled with the need to escape from the world right now, makes the temptation hard to resist. The increase of stress, uncertainty, change, and loss in our current lives leaves us seeking relief, and with those distractions involving socialization unavailable, what’s left?

For most of us, the ritual of evening TV watching does the trick. It pulls us away from our thoughts about work, family, finances, the future, and sucks us into a world of make believe. It entertains us. It numbs us. 

In the long run, however, it may be making things worse. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, watching TV before bed can have a negative effect on the quality of your sleep. Not only do you tend to stay up later to find out what happens next but the increase in programming with high levels of violence, gore, or suspense “may leave you feeling anxious and contribute to tossing and turning.” On top of that, an even bigger problem is the light emitted from the screen which disrupts your body’s natural clock and inhibits its production of melatonin, throwing off your REM sleep and resulting in morning drowsiness.

Full Article: https://www.sleep.org/articles/is-it-bad-to-watch-tv-right-before-bed/

Binge watching (even during the day) can cause problems as well. According to Jenna Birch in an article in the Washington Post, How Binge Watching is Hazardous to Your Health  (June 3, 2019), “binge-watching can affect your cardiovascular system, your vision, your socialization and your sleep patterns which can lead to other problems.”

Full Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/how-binge-watching-is-hazardous-to-your-health/2019/05/31/03b0d70a-8220-11e9-bce7-40b4105f7ca0_story.html

Last night, we decided to take a break. 

Instead of planning our night around a new Netflix show, we spent some time chatting while cooking a special dinner. We played our guitars, went for a walk, and got into bed early with a good book. My eyes were closed before 10 and I had the best sleep I’ve had in days. 

We are not planning to cut out TV altogether, but we do see the benefits of cutting back. With the high levels of gore, violence, and suspense in the real world right now, we don’t see a need to add more. Our vow is to look for activities that are calming, healing, and relationship building. 

It’s an idea worth considering.

Photo from NBC News https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/back-basics-how-instituting-nightly-reading-ritual-has-become-my-ncna1071391

 

Meditation for Beginners

Meditation Blog Pic

As the pandemic continues, a lot of talk has turned to mental health. How are we faring at home, void of social contact, stripped of our normal routines, off balance and isolated? How is our anxiety level as we contemplate our financial future, our careers, the safety of our re-entry into the world? Although we are resting, spending quality time with our families, eating well and spending less, many of us are struggling to stay positive and keep our minds on a healthy trajectory. The length and uncertainty of the situation is wearing and there are days that it is hard to hold up the positive.

I have been doing well for the most part. However, there are times when the anxiety creeps in and there are nights that I do not sleep soundly. There is also the added pressure I am putting on myself to be productive, to use this time wisely and find ways of bettering myself. I have been working towards strengthening my ability to put positive thinking to work, to attract what I really want from my life. My belief in the “law of attraction”  is unwavering. However, it is only as good as the vision itself and I have also been seeking ways to get more in touch with my life’s purpose.

All of this searching has led me to consider the benefits of meditation.

According to a report published by the Mayo Clinic on April 22, 2020, meditation has numerous benefits, ranging from the reduction of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic pain to the increase of imagination, creativity, patience and self-awareness. 

Full article: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858)

I have known about these claims for years and have wanted to integrate meditation practices into my life. However, creating a consistent routine has not happened and it is only through the current crisis that I have realized now is as good a time as any to give it a try.

Through my research I am finding that there are many forms of meditation and it can be easy, simple, and fun. It can be done anywhere for any length of time and can be tailored to your individual taste and lifestyle. For example, some may find a form of meditation while participating in a challenging physical activity, learning a difficult piece of music, walking in nature, or staring into the flame of a favorite candle. Once we become more practiced, we can bring meditation into the daily workings of our life and use it to achieve more mindfulness and peace.

In her book, Meditation: Easy Techniques to Help You Relax and Focus, Jan Purser outlines different types of meditation such as breath-watching, visualization, mantra, music, walking, and object focus. She gives the reader different options for posture and breathing and exercises to get your practice started. She describes how some may want to use music as a way to still the mind while others may be attracted to the use of color, crystals, or essential oils. 

Whatever method you chose, the results are sure to prove valuable. Like most things, if you set the intention and then show up, you’ll experience the desired outcome. It can be that simple.

I plan to practice meditation for at least one month starting today. I’m excited to try the various suggestions presented by Purser as well as to create a few of my own. I also plan to keep track of any changes I notice through journaling (which is a daily practice I already have underway) to note how my anxiety levels, sleep, and connection to my inner self may be affected. I encourage you to do the same. After all, if even a few of the benefits shown in the studies prove true, it may be just the panacea we’ve needed all along.

 

Adapting to Change

Roadblock

Covid-19 is changing the world. No doubt about that, but how will I need to change along with it?

I recently came upon a quote by Confucius who said, “the key to success is often the ability to adapt.” 

Humans are resilient by nature and I am beginning to notice in increasing numbers the creative adaptations happening around me. 

For example, the local General Store recently started offering weekly produce boxes for curbside pickup as demand for this service grows. My daughter’s gym created an online component whereby members can take classes even when they are traveling or unable to make it to the gym physically (like now). It is a comprehensive program which will continue as part of the membership benefit even after they reopen. Groupon recently had a promotion with the header, “Add Flair to Your Virtual Happy Hour” which offered fun glassware and links to wine and beer delivery services with pandemic specials.

Last night’s 60 minutes (April 26, 2020) featured Ford Motor Company and GMC, highlighting their ingenuity and ability to transform massive auto manufacturing plants into producers of respirators in a matter of weeks, as well as walking the viewer through several innovative processes which would allow workers to stay safe and protected. One such protocol requires employees to wear a watch equipped with an app that alerts participants when they come within 6 feet of another person. The watch not only helps with social distancing but it also tracks who the wearer has been in contact with and when. This feature has the added benefit of tracing the potential spread of the virus. 

On a personal level, people have created the new “drive by birthday” in which a convoy of cars decorated with signs and balloons parades by the recipients house honking horns and chanting well wishes. Virtual get-togethers are a regular thing and guided workouts have become the norm.

I have been thinking a lot about how I can adapt. 

Hands on massage is out of the question right now, so I have been experimenting with distance energy healing and tarot readings. I am planning to take some online classes and learn about dream counseling, an area I’ve been interested in for quite some time and would love to add to my list of services. I’ve been working with the Zoom app and connecting with friends and family virtually. I’ve been cooking more and focusing on my health, and I’ve taken up mountain biking (which I have come to love). All of these practices will move with me as I re-open in the new world.

It’s stressful to change, but it can also be an opportunity for creativity and movement.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve been following Mike Dooley and his strategies for “playing the matrix” to manifest the life you want. His analogy to a GPS suggests that we create a destination, a visual of the place we want to be, and then put our “car” into gear and begin moving towards the end point, even if we’re not sure of the best way to proceed. The action, any action, is a key. 

Dooley emphasizes that it is equally as important not to get caught up in the details. We may be asked to make a turn or change course at any point  (while still moving towards the goal), and it is our willingness to adapt that will determine our success.

The recent pandemic is a roadblock. It is forcing us to stop and to forge a new path. It is not asking us to change our destination, only to take another route. 

We may feel the urge to resist. We may feel the grief of having to leave the road we’ve been on, and we may be uncertain about the new direction and how it will all work out. These are all normal reactions. 

I believe, however, like Mike Dooley, that the quicker we accept the situation and allow ourselves to be redirected, the faster we’ll be back on the road to our ultimate destination. It can be fun and inspirational to create new ways of being. We just need to keep our eye on the goal and trust that we’ll arrive via a different, perhaps more sustainable path.