Care of Self
I had it all backwards. Self-care is the foundation upon which all else rests. I’m not just talking about eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. I’m talking about spiritual Self-care. With a capital “S” for the larger self, the God self. As you have probably figured out if you’ve read any of my blog posts, the spiritual path is central to my life’s journey. How odd is it then that connecting on the inner has been so sporadic for me?
I think about God and Spirit a lot. I think about how the Universe works. I see Spirit moving in my life. I write about it all and feel that sense of connection through the writing process. But still, I know there is more. I yearn for it, and now that I’ve reevaluated my priorities, I’m willing, driven even, to take the time to pursue what that yearning is all about.
What is taking priority in my days now? Care of Self.
What does that look like? It begins first thing in the morning. Now, instead of getting immediately out of bed when I wake and stumbling into my usual morning routine, letting the dog out, feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher… you get the idea, I stay in bed for an extra few minutes and listen to a guided meditation about visioning who I want to be (as in being rather than doing. Or, I’ll place my hands over my heart and mantra my way into heart/brain coherence. (See the blog post Got Heart.) Then, when I get up and move into the usual morning routine, it feels different, better, more graceful. During the day, at odd times, I refocus through gratitude, breath and prayer. In the evening I do another guided meditation. The result is that I’m sleeping better and feeling more aligned and balanced throughout the day.
It has become the basis of better days.
It is true that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Enter the guided meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Dr. Joe as he is affectionately called, combines science and spirituality, teaching his students how to access and rewire their energy systems for healing and mystical experience. He has done extensive research into the effects of meditation, providing the explanations and proof for the Western mind, as well as the methods for how to achieve higher levels of consciousness.
His combination of rational scientific explanation and inspiring, exciting, guided meditations strikes the right balance for me. I am like a kid at a candy store, wanting to practice the many different guided meditations he offers on his website.
So, why is it that in the past I’ve given up on meditation? I’d stick with it for a little while and then I’d go back to focusing my attention and energy on the mundane aspects of daily life.
I believe there is a natural ebb and flow of energy between our small self and our large Self. Our small self, our ego, has a job to do. That job is about survival, which equates to managing the ins and outs of daily life. The ego will usurp all our attention if we let it. Focusing all of our time and energy into the 3D world of doing and having. That is until the large Self, our God Self, gently reminds us to refocus upon our being.
My God Self has reminded me not so gently during this year of 2020. The highs have been higher. The lows have been dark and deep. It has been challenging to find my balance, and even more challenging to maintain it. Fortunately, I’ve discovered an unexpected ally in my search for balance. Through the meditations I’ve had the unanticipated, loving experience of connection with my God Self and the inspiring experience of something very much greater. The natural effect of that is a desire to give back, to be of service.
This year of one calamity following another is a wake-up call. Now is the time to focus attention on what is most important. For me, that looks like putting the connection with my God Self, that is, Self-care, at the top of my list of priorities each day. From there, all else flows.
A Full Heart
What does it feel like physically when your heart is full? For me it feels expansive in my chest, in the area around my heart and lungs. I want to breathe deeper and deeper, like I want to take in ever more of what feels so good. Sometimes I’ll experience the sharp, warm sensation of the blood vessels in the skin over my heart suddenly expanding and more blood pouring through.
It happened like that recently…
I invoked heart coherence first thing in the morning right after waking. I lay still in my bed, hands over my heart and just breathed, visualizing the breath going in and out of my heart. Inwardly I chanted, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” After a few minutes, even though I woke feeling a bit grumpy, I felt a shift, and a sense of gratitude welled up from within. My breaths got deeper and I felt appreciation for the new day.
Then, I was up and out of bed, tossing on a bathrobe and wandering out to the kitchen to make some cocoa. Because the weather was beautiful, I took my cocoa out to sit on the patio in my back yard. Holding the steaming cup in my hands, sipping frothy, cinnamon topped, cocoa deliciousness, I gazed out over the bright blanket of grass and the multi-hued greens of the surrounding canopy of leafy oaks and cedars. The sky hovered overhead, turquoise blue. The hummingbirds buzzed back and forth at the feeder just to my right. The cardinals and their offspring alighted on the ground beneath the suet feeder, plucking up a seed and flitting off into the branches of the juniper tree, to consume their breakfast. A noisy family of blue jays chased each other around the spreading branches of the oak tree before me, and a single bright yellow gold finch sang a lilting melody.
My heart filled with appreciation almost sharp in sensation, and I felt such gratitude for the perfection of the moment. My heart felt full.
Sometimes it happens like that, a perfect moment. It might be triggered by something as simple as seeing someone you love, or hearing a child’s delighted laughter. Often though, it is something that must be intended, the way you intend to fill your stomach with a nourishing meal.
Our bodies hunger for food and we feel it in our grumbling bellies. Our hearts hunger for nourishment as well. Only what nourishes our hearts is love and all its attendant feelings.
One of the gifts of nourishing your heart by intending appreciation and gratitude, is that the moments that might seem less than perfect can transform and become perfect even in their imperfection.
Children are often our best teachers, and my grandchildren are no exception. I find it is the chaotic moments, the times when I haven’t slept well the night before and my patience level is not what I might wish. The times when the house is a mess, toys scattered everywhere, when the kitchen is filled with the detritus of multiple meals and snacks. The times when the children pick up on my emotional state and the boys play wildly, crashing and throwing toys around. The times when their sister is caught in a loop of worry over something and refuses to be distracted. Those are the times my thoughts may spiral into my own loop of negativity.
Perhaps then, it is with divine intervention or maybe just plain desperation that I will realize that I have a choice. I can take a deep breath, and then another. I can choose to focus on all that I am grateful for, grateful for these beautiful children, doing what kids do. I can invoke a feeling of appreciation as I focus on all that is right in this present moment. There is so much to feel grateful for. Then my heart expands, filling with the love I feel for my precious gran’s. The moment transforms. It is perfect, even in all its chaos.
It seems that chaos is a regular part of all our lives right now. With so much chaos going on, and worry over what the future holds for our country and the world, it is more important than ever to remember to nourish our hearts. Nourish our hearts by focusing our thoughts on all that we appreciate in our daily lives. There is so much to feel grateful for if we will just shift our attention.
We can feed our hearts with nourishing feelings even as we feed our bodies with nourishing foods. You don’t have to wait for that perfect moment to allow your heart to feel full. You can intend it any time you like. Most people eat a good meal once, twice, three or more times a day. Our hearts need daily feeding too. The reward is a heart that’s filled with perfect moments, even those that didn’t start out that way.
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash
with appreciation into my back yard, sometimes when I traveled to beautiful locations, or participated in spiritual workshops. It was nothing that I had any control over, it just happened. Yet I sought it out, increasingly hungry for more.
Then, last week, another spiritual explorer, a good friend and soul sister, who delves deep into meditation and inner guidance, recommended a very short video meditation by Gregg Braden. Gregg Braden is an author, well-known in spiritual circles for bridging science and spirituality. The video is about something I’ll call, Heart Coherence, and is a cut of the last few minutes of a longer lecture. He begins with a short explanation of the three-step meditation for Heart Coherence. Then he takes you through the meditation.
OMG! This was what I’d been looking for – a way to create a peaceful, aligned and joyful state intentionally and easily. The state I now had a name for, Heart Coherence or Psychophysiological Coherence. Let’s just call it Coherence for short.
“Coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation.”
-HeartMath Institute Research Director Dr. Rollin McCraty
Lo and behold, I discover that the HeartMath Institute has been studying this state for almost two decades. In that time, they have cataloged the many benefits of Coherence for the body, mind and spirit. The results of the studies conducted at the HeartMath Institute show that Coherence results in sustained positive emotion and increased emotional and mental stability. Of particular interest at this time in our history, is the fact that Coherence allows us to build resiliency to stressful situations. We can recover more quickly without a reduction in energy. This in turn supports the immune system as well as cognitive function, memory, focus and learning. What’s not to love about all that?
The irony is, Spirit has been telling me about Coherence off and on for years, answering my unspoken prayer over and over. I just didn’t listen. I first heard about the HeartMath Institute long ago from another friend. But the sound of all that science put me off. What I didn’t realize was that the actual meditation for Coherence iss short, simple and easy. Over time, I heard about HeartMath from Dr. Wayne Dyer, and others on the forefront of spiritual teaching. But I didn’t tweak to it. I guess I just wasn’t ready to feel that good every day; not until now. Fortunately, Spirit is patient and persistent.
The state of Heart Coherence is entered into with a simple, easily remembered, three step meditation that takes only a few minutes. The benefits last up to six hours, at which time you can repeat the short meditation, for another six hours of benefits. The more you do it, the more you entrain Coherence into your brain and the easier it is to enter and maintain the state of Coherence.
I now love the fact that Coherence is a measurable, much studied state with all the science to confirm it. I love that it has all these benefits for my body, mind and spirit; but I do this meditation several times a day, every day, just because it feels good. I feel happy, aligned and balanced, connected with my spirit and in touch with my inner guidance.
In the video, Gregg Braden discusses the fact that once you enter into this state of Coherence you are in the foundational state for so much more. Do you want to ask for guidance? This is the time to ask, when you will be able to receive with clarity. Do you want to communicate with your body? Do you want to ask your heart anything? Now’s the time. Do you want to manifest something new in your life? This is the fertile ground in which to plant those seeds. Do you want to meditate? Pray? Or do you just want to feel good? You’ve got it.
So, I ask you, got Heart Coherence? If not, it might be worth your while to give it a try. It could change your life.
Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.