Meditation has a secret.
It doesn’t work for everyone (GASP!).
Of course, this isn’t what we’re told about this powerful, ancient practice. The list of amazing meditation benefits for mind, body, and spirit are practically endless (and easy to Google). Need to get more grounded and focused? Stressed out? Experiencing pain? Want to connect to your inner guidance? Meditation is the cure for all your ills.
But if you ask the average person, they’ll tell you (likely in great detail) the TRUTH about meditation; how they can’t sit still or quiet their mind, they can’t fit it into their day, or they tried it and didn’t like it or didn’t get any effect.
It could even be said that meditation benefits all people, but not all people benefit from meditation.
The true dirty secret of meditation involves the pressure we feel to always be doing something, and to do it as a means to an end, which creates for us a meditation practice that is more like a checklist than personal development. In turn, this can lead to some pretty undesirable outcomes.
I always have the urge to write. It’s almost the same as breathing for me. I don’t always have the follow through to do it, however, even when I feel the desire burning.
Aren’t we all like this in many ways?
We all have these passions that drive us at a deep level, and yet we so often don’t follow through on the call. We feel the desire toward something new and different – maybe it’s still unspecified and unintelligible but it still burns deep inside with an urgency that reminds us that there is indeed something tangible behind the longing.
Yet we and sit and stare at the blank page.
Not all of us are writers, of course. Life-breath comes in all forms of unique and varied activities, most often of a creative nature. And by creative, I mean activities that are soul-fulfilling and result in something new (physically or energetically) where nothing previously existed.
For example, a painting or a poem that just has to come out. Or perhaps a newly sculpted body from healthy and active choices. Possibly a newfound joy brought forth by helping to make someone else’s day a little brighter. Maybe even the simple act of choosing to be happy in the face of great challenges. The opportunities for creating something new are endless, and not relegated to conventional “art.”
But we tell ourselves, “I’m not creative.” Or, “I don’t have the stamina.” Or, “I’ll text her later.” Or, “I’m not worthy of being happy.” And we put ourselves off another day, another week, another year.
Truth is, I’ve never liked starting anything from scratch. I need a recipe, a guide, an established starting point. I don’t like to reinvent the wheel.
However, our creative nature isn’t very forgiving of us when we don’t flex our “ambiguity” muscles; that is, our ability to work and be at least moderately successful in a place of ambiguity and uncertainty. Yes, we can chug along through life starting only with the help of someone else’s previously-forged cues. But our creative spark suffers in this mindset, one driven mostly by fear and a sense of unworthiness.
“I’m not good enough.” “What if I fail?” “What if someone doesn’t like what I produce?” These thoughts keep us avoiding that blank page.
However, this inability to start from a blank slate, to restart after a habit has been broken, to reach out to someone who might not understand our true intentions, or to step out in service for fear of failure or rejection doesn’t only hurt us. What we’re not doing now hurts those who would be helped by us. Uplifted by us. Inspired by us. Healed by us.
As I sat here this week, feeling the urge to write and also feeling the familiar panic upon staring at my blank page, I ran through a list of possible topics in my head, mentally discarding each one. I sidetracked myself with other legitimate work tasks. I decided writing could wait a day, or a week. I ate lunch.
And then, I remembered my book writing path. I truly had no plan for writing a book. I avoided it for nearly two years until I finally decided I’d just start each day with a blank page and write what comes to mind – no matter how unintelligible, ridiculous, silly, or embarrassing it might be. And so The Angel Inside was birthed.
And I remembered the many times I’ve started writing a poem and I penned the first words that came to me until I got into a flow. And later when I went to edit, I realized the first line or two didn’t make any sense, so I simply cut it out. And the rest was a nice poem. Or at least decent.
And that’s all we’re really being asked for anyway. Nice. Decent. Our best efforts consistently applied.
Today, I opened an empty document for the second or third time with no thoughts at the ready. And within a few deep breaths, I heard “blank page.” And I remembered that for me, the action of writing is the catalyst that opens the floodgate of more words.
In other words, taking even small action action in a forward direction – simply doing SOMETHING – is often the catalyst for the more in-depth work that follows.
And so I started typing. One word led to the next and to the next. Eventually, through a hazy, forward and back approach, and with lots of editing, the words on the page started to take shape on their own, without much conscious thought to structure, form, or outline, a process not unlike the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
In my early adulthood, I never saw the value of a blank page. I was so fearful of not knowing where I was going that I rarely allowed myself to know or grow in any way that didn’t follow a prescriptive path or that seemed absolutely prudent.
But no more. I’m still fearful of course. I don’t know an honest person who isn’t. However, now that I’ve experienced the mysteries and miracles that a hazy, faith-filled path can bring, I can’t go back. I won’t go back.
And my wish for you is that you will take out that blank page that’s calling you, breathe into your heart, and create what needs to come from within.
Because that is the power of a blank page.
P.S. If you can relate to this, let me know! Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. And please share with your friends!
Something is going on with me and the animal kingdom lately. In the past week, I’ve crossed a stray cat that looked like a little fluffy lion, a wild tom turkey pursuing two females with his body puffed up and tail feathers completely spread, a large black snake which played dead despite my efforts to make it move from my path, rescued not one but TWO frogs from certain death in a parking lot and a neighborhood street, and encountered a huge snapping turtle right on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. Then a wolf appeared to me during meditation.
Nature is literally coming at me from EVERY angle!
Now, everyone around me is asking, “What’s up?! Are you an animal whisperer?” It’s true that I’ve always had a strong connection with animals. This is nothing new. And that hasn’t dimmed with age. In fact, it’s only become magnified, especially with having children who also have a fierce heart for animals and their welfare (just last night my daughter sent me a link from the Humane Society to donate in support of stopping puppy mills).
I’ve also recently taken two animal communication classes and belong to an AC group online. I’ve even had some success giving messages in the online community. But I haven’t done much with it since before Christmas, at least in part because I’ve been energetically overwhelmed (I’m a chronic over-scheduler), and I’ve been trying to give myself a rest. I’ve also been putting more focus into the future of A Spirit Led Life, especially around my goals of writing more, publishing more, launching the Awakening Angels Circle, and reaching more people. It doesn’t leave much time for work with animals, virtually or in person.
Yet, in my experience, when it’s time to put more focus on another area, Spirit lets me know. Like running across a cat, a snake, three wild turkeys, two frogs, a turtle, and a meditation wolf, all in a matter of days!
But still, what does it all MEAN?
While I do generally look for subtle messages and meaning in most everything around me, I also realize that not everything means something. Some events are just events. However, when I get this much coming at me at once, and all around the same basic theme, I can’t help but wonder what significance it might hold for me.
My question is a familiar struggle for many who are making their way through the spiritual jungle, so to speak. We’re often given the impression that if we’re really in touch with our inner guidance that it will be clear and obvious to us when messages come and what they mean. For some people this might be true some of the time, but I feel safe saying that even the most skilled and connected person feels unclear from time to time. And a lot of us feel unclear most of the time, which can be frustrating.
If you’re like me and are terribly impatient with the process and easily distracted by not knowing the answers RIGHT NOW, it’s especially frustrating.
Clearly, this is an area where I STILL struggle. As a result, I usually follow a predictable pattern:
- I get totally overwhelmed because I don’t know what anything means.I switch directions, spend all my time thinking about what it might mean, and end up in a funk when I can’t figure it out.If you’re one who tries to tackle everything with your head instead of your heart (like me), then it’s a strong wake-up call to slow down, because too much of this can seriously cloud our intuition.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Do some mediation, stat. We have to make ourselves take some down time. The more we feel resistance (you know that voice that says, “You’ll never get this done if you don’t stay up until midnight every night slaving away until it’s perfect.”), the more we need a break. Recognize that thinking all the time only wears out our minds and, in the end, we’re still not sure our answers are correct because our hearts haven’t had a chance to give their stamp of approval. We have to trust that what needs to get done will be and allow ourselves to let something go. We can always come back to it later if necessary. The reward is more calm, which leads to greater clarity.
2. I look for someone to talk me down from the ledge. I reach out to my energy worker and intuitive friends and my husband and anyone else who I think might be helpful, asking them to clear my energy, give me insights, or just plain tell me what to do.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Trust our inner guidance. It takes more strength to be honest with ourselves and be willing to slow down and support our own needs than it does to frantically ask someone else to do for us what we already have the power to do for ourselves. And once we’ve taken a break, if we still feel like we need help, then we can seek it out from a place of more authenticity and awareness.
3. I flip all the way to the other side, wipe my slate clean, and do nothing I don’t absolutely have to do until I feel better.True, I get more time with my family and I’m rested because I’m in bed early every night.But my writing and other passions take a hit.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: Find some balance! We’re not meant to be teeter-totters! When we swing from one extreme to the other, we’re really not solving the true problem, which goes back to slowing down and trusting our inner guidance. And all our energy is used up on the swinging. We can slow down, but we don’t have to stop completely (because it takes a lot more energy to start up again). We can sit right smack in the middle of that teeter totter, open up, and let our inner guidance lead us in the right direction (and then have the courage to follow it, because it otherwise, what’s the point?).
Long story short, I don’t know yet what all these animals mean for me. Maybe it’s just springtime and I’m really observant. Or maybe it’s the next step on my personal journey. It’s not clear to me yet. And that’s okay. What I DO know is that doing nothing or overthinking is not going to bring me the answers I seek.
And maybe that’s really the lesson anyway.
P.S. If this resonated with you, let me know! Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. And please share with your friends!
As a writer, I understand the power of words. Words often flow through me, inspired by something both outside me, and innately found within. At the same time, I still have conscious choice over the words I ultimately select. I often spend a great deal of working on flow and rhythm in an effort to create a style that doesn’t change the message.
And yet, even I struggle at times to remember the power that comes with certain word choices, or specific phrases. We become numb to the meaning of words that are used frequently. Writing is often about trying to use familiar words in a different way, to bring new meaning to phrases that we’ve heard what seems like a million times. It’s a unique and elusive challenge.
I woke up during the night recently thinking of a phrase that is used constantly. It’s one of the simplest phrases imaginable, yet it packs so much power that I doubt any of us even realize what we can do or have or be with just these two words. And to be awakened from sleep? Something deep within realizes this message is needed to be shared now. The two words?
How many times do you think you use these words in a single day? I can think of 10 right now. I’m sure I said all of these before noon today.
• I am hungry.
• I am tired.
• I am aggravated.
• I am here.
• I am stuck in traffic.
• I am late for work.
• I am headed to a meeting.
• I am on the phone.
• I am sore.
• I am meeting with her today.
On the surface, “I am” may not seem so powerful. Yet, underneath it’s simple structure is a complex world of meaning.
The phrase “I am” (and specifically “am”) is a form of being. When we say “I am,” we generally follow it up with some description. So in essence we are saying that we embody whatever follows the phrase. We are tired, sick, sad, etc.
It seems simple enough, however, it creates a spiritual problem for us when we consider whether we want to describe our being with words like sick, sad, tired, and so on. These words may, in fact, describe our current state of FEELING. But are they truly indicative of our current state of BEING?
Taking this thought process one step further, there is evidence that we become what we think and say. This is why athletes visualize themselves winning competitions and great actors visualize themselves giving acceptance speeches; they know the power of our thoughts to create reality.
When we think or say to ourselves, “I am tired,” we are creating a reality in which the person that we are is tired. That one isn’t too difficult to swallow. But what about when we say, “I am depressed.” Or “I am broke.” What kind of reality does that create for us? A state of being where we become something that we most likely don’t want.
Perhaps this seems like semantics. Yet, I invite you to say the following phrases out loud. As you read them, sense how you feel. Experience their energy in your body.
• I am broke.
• I am depressed.
• I am mad.
• I am stupid.
• I am not worthy.
• I am hopeless.
• I am fat.
If we’re being honest and in touch with our senses, we’ll likely agree that it feels bad to read these words. Nevertheless, this is how so many of us talk to ourselves on a regular basis. What if we changed the wording to create a different effect? Read aloud the phrases below once again.
• I feel broke.
• I feel depressed.
• I feel mad.
• I feel stupid.
• I feel not worthy.
• I feel hopeless.
• I feel fat.
We know feelings are fleeting. They come and go almost as quickly as our thoughts. And they change rapidly, depending on internal and external experiences. Feelings are fluid, while beingness is more solid. Feelings are somewhat untrustworthy, since they change so much, while beingness is, at its core, who we are.
We don’t want to BE broke, depressed, stupid, unworthy. It’s okay to FEEL that way sometimes. But we want to let that feeling float on through as it needs to, not let it come to rest in our souls and occupy our beingness.
I urge each of us (myself included) to evaluate how we speak to ourselves, not only our self-talk in general but the specific words and phrases that we use. Where can we be gentler, kinder, more uplifting in our language? Where can we shift our reality by shifting our choice of words?
If this resonated with you, I invite you to comment below and share with your friends.
Local Louisville women, join me for the Awakening Angels Circle, a sacred spiritual group for women who are waking up to the inner truth of who they are and why they’re here and need support, guidance, and inspiration along the way. Starting May 27.
A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of Marianne Williamson, whom I have now admired and followed for half a decade. She had just delivered a powerful talk about our obligation and responsibility to speak up and be involved in changing the disturbing current events of our time. She’d rallied us to not stay on the sidelines any longer, that the world needs a new conversation; a new voice must be heard. She’d urged us to become informed and involved in the political arena, where we have real possibilities of making change.
Her talk had been passionate and inspirational, and I imagined my not-so-distant future self in her shiny silver shoes, speaking to an awe-struck crowd, reminding them of their responsibility to be and to practice fierce love.
Reflecting back, I realize I was a very different person from when I first learned of her work in 2011. At that time, I was just starting my coaching program with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. In our materials was included this quote from Marianne’s best-selling book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The quote was provided for us to share with our future coaching clients. However, when I first read those words, it was as if someone had climbed inside my soul and was whispering to me in a language only I could understand. Those words were for ME. And now, on this day, I finally had the opportunity to meet the woman who wrote them.
I finally had the opportunity to share with her just how much those words – in fact, the entire A Return to Love book –had meant to me over the past several years. Her moving exposition on practicing love to find inner peace and make the world a better place for all beings had felt like a new concept for me at the time, yet it resonated on a deep level, as if I had known it all along (and of course I had, because Love is who we are). It was the beginning for me of a journey that would take me deep into profoundly painful areas which I had carefully protected and actively avoided for years. It would eventually lead me to reclaim a voice I didn’t know I’d lost.
However on this day, despite the lingering inspiration and excitement from her talk, I found myself feeling nervous. What should I say to someone who doesn’t know me, yet who has been like a friend through the darkness? Whose words and willingness not to play small, have been the catalyst for my own liberation? Whose mission of love have inspired me to fight my own fear, keep pushing forward, and publish a book of my own? Whose beingness gave me permission to let my own light shine so now my own work and my own words are giving others permission to do the same?
Soon it was it my turn. My big moment had come. Time to meet Marianne, to speak the words of my heart, using my enlightened voice, pushing out from a place of healing and light, inspired by her.
I walked up with the two books I brought to be signed. I handed them to her. And then….
I stood there, silent. She asked if both books were for me, I said yes, and then returned to my awkwardness. Feeling like I should say something after all the mental build-up, I mumbled that I forgot my original copy of A Return to Love at home. She smiled graciously and finished signing the two books. I moved on to meet my group.
I was still floating from the whole experience and the reality of what happened didn’t set in immediately. Over the next 24 hours, though, a light sadness settled around me. I had not spoken one word about how much her words meant to me and inspired me. Nothing about my own accomplishments as a result of that inspiration. Not even a word of gratitude for her work in the world.
For all my liberation, all my efforts at moving through fear, all my work to let my own light shine, in the face of my opportunity to finally meet someone who had been so integral in my path, I chose, once again, to play small.
Before A Return to Love, I would likely have allowed my inner critic to use this experience as a reminder of my place in this world – being small, timid, quiet, and not bothering anyone with my voice. That was the path I had worked so hard to traverse, the one I thought I had overcome.
However, all my work, sparked by that one quote, allowed me to see something different instead:
- All the best healers are wounded and those wounds still need to be healed, sometimes over and over again as we spiral around the path. Perfection is not guaranteed. It’s not even the goal. A few years back, I may not even have been able to see the lesson right in front of me at this time. That’s how far I’ve come. At this time, in this place, I didn’t achieve the outcome I wanted, but I can clearly look back over the spiral of my life, observe where I’ve been, and celebrate my successes. It’s progress, not perfection.
- Fierce love is not a one and done. It’s not single book or speech or article or conversation or self-care practice. Rather, it’s a consistent effort at loving ourselves over and over again until love reaches the places that still need work. And then we keep on loving, keep on moving deeper, until we’re so filled with love that it spills out for others. And we’re not done there. We keep on loving the parts that still need it, until we’re loved back to health. Until the world is loved back to health.
Although our meeting didn’t go as I‘d imagined, for now I’ll use this opportunity to say what I wanted – needed—to say when I actually had the chance:
Marianne, thank you for those words you wrote years ago, which continue to inspire me to do the same. Thank you for the words you continue to write and speak today. Thank you for sparking a movement to love the world back to health and for caring so much for all beings that you liberate yourself from fear, and bring others (like me) with you. And know that the next time we meet in person, I’ll tell you this myself.