Then there is the inaugural of our new president with all of its attendant political issues from insurrectionists and virus alike. Riots are threatened, but mostly we wait to see if this new president can do what he’s promised. The old authoritarian structures are breaking down all around us as we try to live our lives amidst the energetic rubble. Negative stress.
In odd juxtaposition with the outer world’s struggles, I gave birth to new aspects of my spiritual self at a small women’s retreat. At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I spread my angel wings. Words hardly do the experience justice. My inner life shifted dramatically as I stepped up and expanded into my Divine Feminine Self. I was stunned by this seemingly sudden transformation. Positive stress.
As it turned out, it was right on time. I, along with two other women, co-facilitated the first two classes of, Goddess: Seven Rings of the Heart. A course all about healing through Goddess energy and connecting with the Divine Feminine within.
Despite the fact that I have a Master’s degree in Education, facilitating this course pushes my comfort envelope. I have to be willing to step into my larger Self to do this material justice, and my small self balks at the exposure. Be that as it may, I’ll breathe and meditate through it, intending grace and ease as I move into the next class. Positive stress.
And January was not yet done with me.
Several days ago, I had a Zoom meeting with the developmental editor, Fritze Roberts, who I hired for Contract with a Guardian. She gave me some wonderfully insightful ideas for how to rework parts of the story arc to deepen and expand it. I’m thrilled with the possibilities. I’m also looking at months of rewriting. Positive stress.
The thing is, my body doesn’t know the difference between positive and negative stress. She has a set number of responses to anything that registers as stressful. My heart rate speeds up, my underarms and hands feel clammy and my body would really like to jump up and run around, or run away. As the stressful conditions persist, I’m looking at bouts of racing heart. A most uncomfortable sensation.
Exercise and getting outside help, giving my body something to do with that excess adrenaline. But what really supports me is regular meditation.
This week, I was busy and tired and missed a couple of days of meditation. My thoughts veered toward worry without my conscious volition. The peaceful feeling inside that is a result of regular meditation drained slowly away. The changes were subtle and I might have gone on like that for several more days. But my body stepped up with a short episode of racing heart. It was just enough to say, “Hey! Pay attention here. You’ve forgotten something.”
The racing heart thing is rare for me, but then so is the particular combination of stressors in my life right now. I take it for the communication that it is.
The physical stress responses in my body are initiated by the thoughts I think about whatever is going on. That’s why meditation makes such a difference. It’s like a reset button, bringing me back into alignment. When I am meditating regularly, the worry thoughts become less important. I feel an underlying sense of peace. I am aware of the love in my heart. My focus shifts from fear to love.
Meditation really works for me.
Will I miss meditation days in the future? Probably. But if I do, I’ll intend to get back to it before my body has to reprimand me.
I imagine this new year has more adventure in store for all of us. Let’s intend that should it be stressful it be positive stress. That sounds good. But even if some of the other kind sneaks in there, lets intend that we support ourselves to keep shifting from fear back into love.
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash
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.
Hands of Spirit
Spirit is interested in the details of our lives because they matter on a spiritual level.
The details of our lives gradually add up to become the whole of our lives. The seconds become minutes become hours become days become years.
Every detail contributes to our soul growth not because of what we are doing but because of how we are doing it. Are we resenting the maintenance jobs which loom before us? Do they feel like drudgery? Would we much rather be doing something else? Are we mentally elsewhere as we clean the toilet? Do we keep putting off cleaning the scuff marks on the wall, changing out the worn and dirty vent covers, fixing that window? Or, do we appreciate and love the details of our lives? Do we make a prayer of vacuuming, painting, washing windows, ironing or doing the dishes? Do we love and appreciate what we are doing as we are doing it?
Why is this so important that we do this?
It can be challenging to remember this in the course of everyday life. Sometimes you just want to get a job done and get it over with so you can get on to what you want to be doing. But if you can remember to slow down and set your intention to make whatever you do spiritual practice, focus your attention into the present moment and evoke flow, it makes all the difference. You move from one plane of existence into a higher plane.
And you really feel it when you do. The job you are doing starts speaking to you (metaphorically speaking). Or perhaps it is Spirit or your Higher Self. Whoever it is that is communicating, you attune to what you are doing, you know what to do and how to get it done. You know the next step and then the next step after that. You are flowing in the current of energy which you evoked through your intention.
In fact, you are attuning and aligning with your inner self through the medium of the job that you are doing. So, you see how important this particular job is, this particular detail of your life. What you do becomes a pathway to connection and alignment with your Higher Self, with Spirit and with God.
How do we do this? We do this by setting our intention energetically before we take any action.
Let’s take cleaning as an example of a daily maintenance job, a detail of our lives. A job that is often put off or avoided or slogged through just to get it done, at least in my house.
Here are some ideas for approaching this in another way.
You might have noticed there is a theme here. Ask Spirit, invite Spirit, intentionally partner with Spirit as you do what you do. As you intend this and take action, you become the hands of Spirit in our world, channeling the energy of love.
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.