Category: Inspirations

Are you listening to what your body is telling you?

Listen Up!

Last fall Jennifer Bodenham, a team development coach, and I sat down to create a 3-part podcast series about Boundaries. Throughout these podcasts, we explored why we need boundaries, what they are and we included an exercise that will help you can get started towards living a life that is more kind and joyful.

The wonder and value of self-kindness, health and maintaining connection with others, even when it starts to get difficult are mutually possible. The podcast series begins with In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living, listen to it first to catch the flow of our conversation. I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to share them with others.


Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

In a conversation with a colleague we found ourselves sharing what we had learned about listening more closely to the cues our bodies were telling us. We each had a story of a physical injury that occurred because we didn’t listen to our bodies when it essentially said ‘enough.’

It compelled me to reflect back to a workshop I had attended with Dr. Gabor Maté, author of When the Body Says No, where he identified key characteristics of the stress-prone personality including:

  1. Difficulty saying No;
  2. Automatic and compulsive regard for the needs of others without considering one’s own;
  3. Rigid and compulsive identification with duty, role, and responsibility rather than with the true self;
  4. Habitual suppression or repression of healthy anger and assertion.

As I read this list, a couple of things stand out for me. This list is about lies we tell ourselves and about compulsive behaviours to please others or to live within the status quo we assume others expect of us. –And we wondered why we got sick or injured when we ignored our bodies’ cues?

What struck me even more as I began to examine my own life is how we find it acceptable to lie with casual regularity. We lie to others when we say yes to them, but we really want to say no. We lie to ourselves saying we aren’t worthy enough and so we push onward when our bodies need to relax. We lie about our real needs and who we really are, compulsively rushing to the needs (and perhaps drama) of others (or our own). We lie about feeling angry at the boundaries that have been trespassed and then stay silent and perhaps punishing our partner or child or friend because of all the feelings we have lied about inside.

Lies create stress and conflict, both internal and external. Conflict disrupts our peace and our health. When we lie to ourselves and disregard the messages our bodies send us, we inflict a hidden emotional stress on ourselves and our bodies.

Just as good relationships with others keep us healthy and can heal us, good relationships with our bodies keep us healthy and can heal us. Good relationships require healthy boundaries that support our sense of true self and protect us against what drains our essential vitality. Healthy boundaries are like a good immune system—protects against what takes life and sustains our essence so we can participate in our purpose and what is truly life-giving.

We are hard-wired to need closeness, to need connection and belonging with others. We are equally hard-wired to need to express ourselves, to know who we are and then to be seen and respected. In other words, we are hard-wired to be authentic. When these two needs are in conflict or when they are incongruent over time, we are at war with ourselves. This war leads to illness. As Dr. Maté writes, “illness is not random”.

If you are like me, listening to your body is a daily task I have to remind myself to do. What is it my body needs to eat? What kind of exercise does my body need today? What decision do I need to make in my work that is congruent with my life purpose so I can stay healthy? What anger must I be honest about and what must I speak up about in my intimate relationships to increase my own sense of inner peace?

If you struggle with finding the joy of the body you have and so you ignore it even more. If you find yourself suppressing your own needs to look after other’s needs making you depressed, injured or always living in chaos, consider my upcoming two-day workshop on June 1-2, 2018 – The Self Kindness Response: Healthy Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living!

The following comment by a previous workshop participant really speaks to the substance and richness of this workshop. Please consider it for yourself too!

Just taking the boundaries workshop was an act of kindness towards myself. I learned to tune into my body to get a sense of what is a healthy boundary for me. Instead of going into my head, I feel how my body feels about something. There’s no arguing with the body! Even if there is another way to assess a situation and respond, it doesn’t matter because my body is telling me MY truth, MY healthy boundary in that situation, and that’s all that counts. I love the sense of certainty this has given me because I know my body is trustworthy. I have gained a stronger sense of myself and a feeling of being on solid ground. It was also helpful to work with a partner afterwards to keep working on what we’d learned at the workshop. Such a beautiful workshop space, too! T.H.

Peace & Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

Peace and the Crazy Drama of Relationships

Recently, a colleague shared with me how she had found herself in a situation where ‘a lot of drama’ was playing out in a business relationship. Her question was about how she can gracefully and peacefully ‘exit’ this situation. I remember what mediation instructors used to say in training … that even really good, kind and the best of people can and do get caught up in conflict or in a drama they don’t know how to get out of. They don’t know how it ‘got to this point’ and they feel embarrassed to seek help of any kind.

I frequently have people share how a particular relationship triggers them in ways that they just don’t know what is going on and soon they find themselves reacting to the other person’s comments or engage in behaviour, they themselves find ‘icky’ and intolerable.

To assume ‘that will never be me’ may be a grave mistake on our part. Getting caught in the drama of relationship dynamics happens to the best of us. Without realizing it, we have sent that email with words we can’t take back or we have said something that has landed in between ourselves and another that we simply can’t pretend weren’t said. Or we find ourselves playing out the drama because we don’t know what else to do. We simply may not have the boundaries or tools to step out of the drama and stop it. I also believe we use the word ‘drama’ because we don’t really know what is going on.

In my view, I understand this kind of ‘drama’ occurs when participants within the relationship dynamic do not take responsibility for how they feel or what they think. Participants end up ‘throwing around’ their shame, guilt and anger or lashing out in hurt or blame causing a wave of disrespect, disregard or failure to truly listen. People feel ‘hit’ by this anger and in this emotional chaos of energy, words are slung about. All communication speeds up and quickens in reactions, our shame being fueled. A true recipe for disaster and deep hurt – even with those we love the most.

So what can we do when drama shows up?
  1. Breathe. And breathe again. Breathe into your kidneys (practise doing this when you are not stressed, so it can be a reflex-like response in a necessary moment). This will begin to calm your heart rate and regulate your stress flight instinct, so you can think more resourcefully.
  2. SLOW DOWN THE CONVERSATION! As I mentioned, ‘drama’ is fast and mindless. So slow down the conversation. Put in breaks such as a 24-delay in responding to emails or simply say in a conversation, ‘I will need 24 hours to think about what you just said and get back to you.’ Or, ‘let me go outside and put my feet on the ground and get centred, so I can show up here feeling good about how I am doing that.’
  3. Answer this question: What is the boundary of respect that is needed here? When we become reactive and step into a drama dynamic, often our sense of shame (sense of inadequacy, failure or not being good enough or worthy) become fueled. When shame is present, respect is absent. Be present to your feelings, including shame. Perhaps tap on specific points if you know how to do that (ie. EFT, TFT, Midline Therapy, or some other way that you bring down the emotional arousal level). Shame feels ‘icky’ to face and we fear being ‘exposed’ when shame takes over. It’s often the best time to ask for help from a trusted other, because it’s precisely the time when our subconscious will try to convince and our ‘shame voice’ threaten us that if we ask for help we will be exposed and even less acceptable than before.
  4. Evaluate your own trigger. What does this dynamic awaken in you which feeds your shadow relationship pattern? Even if you assess you have contributed only 5% to the drama, you have contributed that much and so that is the part that remains your responsibility. Often our own core wound, such as we feel our incompetence or lack of worth has been exposed somehow. Learn to detach from this trigger and know its patterns so you can catch it early when it becomes activated. Have someone help you develop more responsive relationship patterns, especially in conflict.
  5. Identify what you really need and value. Clarify what you really want to have happen and what the relationship really means to you. Perhaps you need to exit the relationship because it is draining your energy. Perhaps you each need to clarify what values and core needs are being disrespected so it becomes clear what you need or want to have happen instead of the ‘drama’. Don’t shortchange this step. Take the time to deeply listen to what you need and then the other person. When people come back to the same issue again and again, even ‘after it’s been discussed’, it signifies that a core need or value is still not validated, and people are still not feeling listened to. David Ausberger says that deep listening is really an experience of true love. Establish boundaries that reflect your core values and true needs so that your relationships have improved patterns of connection than ‘drama’.

These are only a few ways to address ‘relationship drama’ when it shows up. I encourage you to write down what relationships are ‘drama-driven’ for you and see if you can start to identify where the lack of respect is playing out, on both sides!

Strategies to help you find new peaceful ways to stop this drama pattern in your life:

I look forward to hearing from you. Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: The Self Kindness Response

Recently I had a conversation with someone who felt she needed ‘boundaries’ in her relationships but struggled with creating boundaries because what she believed she really wanted was ‘connection’. She feared that boundaries would destroy the connection she was seeking. Added to this was the belief that connection and kindness to others are spiritual virtues – won’t boundaries constrain our compassion and kindness to others?

These objections (and resistances) are quite common among those who really want to be compassionate and kind to others and who are especially sensitive to the energies and emotions around them. These questions, and ones like these, get to the heart of our inner objections in creating the kinder relationships and inner states of peacefulness that we yearn for somewhere deep within.

So, let’s get curious whether boundaries actually do exclude a sense of connection by exploring four different core operating beliefs that are commonly played out in our unconscious:

1) “I’m Not OK, You’re OK “

In this core belief, we enter the land of dependency and exclude ourselves from the blessings of life, of love and life-giving relationships. Our sense of shame and unworthiness causes us to ‘do for others’ what we cannot do for ourselves. We will not be able to open to love, nor the blessing of another. If we do not perceive ourselves as being worthy of someone’s blessing, we will not be able to stand and look someone in the eye and tell them what we need. Here, there is a lack of self-respect, a lack of boundaries and whole bunch of people-pleasing. In this land of dependency, we will find ourselves envious, resentful, exhausted and covet what we perceive others have or we give to them because we cannot give it to ourselves nor receive it from another. We lack kindness towards ourselves, remain disconnected with others and often fall into a state of passivity (-aggressiveness) about our lives.

2) I’m OK, You’re Not OK

In this core belief, we find ourselves in the land of arrogance and pride. Our acts of ‘charity’ are really ‘blessings’ imposed … and for the receiver, not really a blessing at all. In this state of arrogance or superiority, our helping another is often wrought with the assumption ‘I know better.’ Cultures and peoples have been destroyed in the blind assumption that “our way is better than your way.” Culturally, reflect upon the disastrous results of the way First Nations peoples and tribes have been mistreated, abused and fundamentally disregarded. Connection, community and the life-giving spiritual knowing of our country and our Earth have been destroyed in this genocide. It’s often hard to fathom the depth of our failures toward First Nations people because of all we imposed. We failed to create boundaries of mutual respect and kindness, of common dignity for all people. The repercussions for these lack of boundaries and compassionate connection will be our burden for decades to come. What we did in this cultural example, we also do to ourselves personally and to others when we come with an attitude of I know how to ‘fix’ you.

3) I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK

In this core operating belief, we find ourselves in the land of curses. Though we may find ourselves in a state of ‘likeness’ with each other, a state of common experience about what is ‘not okay’ around us or in our environment, our ‘joining together’ in this state is destructive, cynical and riddled with mutual contempt and despair. Though we both may be ‘down in the dumps’, we injure each other to prevent ourselves from being more miserable than the other. All heart connection is lost, annihilated or in perpetual threat. Again, we have no healthy boundaries here. Rather, we put energy into creating emotional walls and barriers, leaving us locked away from connection and in the stalemate of our own ‘inner hauntings.’

4) I’m OK, You’re OK

Finally, this operating core belief sustains us in the land of blessing. This is the place of joining, of collaboration, of mutuality, equality, respect and appreciation. In this land, we can pray and chant the ‘Namaste’, the light in you is the light in me; the peace in you is the peace in me. In this land, we can care for each other in dignity and respect for each other. It is not that we are needy of each other, rather, in appreciation for what another values and for what we value, we respect and validate and support the unique worth of ourselves and the other. In the land of blessing, we seek to compassionately appreciate and ‘see’ the good in all things. Our boundaries here are flexible, clear, growing, strong, consistent and kind, sustaining the vitality of our own core essence. Because we respect and appreciate the goodness in ourselves and the other, our connections are real, open, compassionate and can be trusted.

As we simplify the equations to truly see the essence of what matters in the heart of connection, we really discover that boundaries are truly a way to sustain healthy and vital connection in “I’m okay. You are okay.” For women who have been socialized and imprinted upon to care for others first (”you’re okay. I’m not okay”, for example), self kindness boundaries offer us the potential to choose self love and joy (trumping self improvement), to fill our own cup first and offer to others from our inner fullness, and to let our body lead us (rather than denying or denigrating our bodies).

A first major step in healing of our hearts and psyche is by recognizing and developing awareness and giving ourselves full and complete permission to have boundaries that sustain kindness and connection with ourselves and others. The next step is to learn HOW to create these kinds of boundaries which support our engagement in creating and living a joyful life, happy relationships and inner vitality.

If you are ready and eager to learn the HOW of creating your personal, unique boundaries that fuel your body-mind-spirit connection, happiness and joy, don’t miss my upcoming two-day workshop on June 1–2, 2018. The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Healthy and Joyful Living is exactly what you are looking for. And if you already have been practising boundaries for self empowerment, join us to expand the inner waves of self kindness and joy in the boundaries you practise.

It’s time for a shift in our consciousness where self-love and strength, connection and unequivocal kindness in self-regard are the touchstones and daily practices in our relationships and in the joys of our lives. Join me in creating a cultural shift, a shift of the awakened and peaceful heart. Join me on June 1&2, 2018 for The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Healthy and Joyful Living.

Namaste,
Shirley Lynn
(PS. Thanks to Rob Voyle and his work with the Appreciative Way in helping me to clarify my own understanding)

Stepping on the Path to Peace: Intentions that Inspire in 2018

It was quite cold for the past couple of weeks, with enough snow to use my snowshoes. I love this weather as does Carlie. She has certain ‘snow games’ she loves to play which include digging for her green ball and jumping to catch the snow I kick. Lucy has aptly named this game ‘kick snow’. Carlie’s life purpose is about living our joy. It’s not a goal she has – it’s an innate attunement to a way of being in her world. It’s part of her expressed consciousness and intentionality!

As a new year begins and our hopes are ignited for a better 2018, Carlie and Rayna (Carlie’s dog sister), as well as my professional training and spiritual practice, call me to live the lessons I have learned, and they teach me. Although 2017 has just ended, our lives are continuing and will be an extension of the past year!

This ritual of starting a ‘new year’ is a celebrative invitation

to come back to our soul’s focus, to our purpose and dreams,
to our vision of what we want our lives to mean and to be about,
to what we hope and aspire to experience in this year,
to bring forward the best of who we are and what we love to do.

It is also an opportunity to release what is now finished. An opportunity to lay down the burdens that keep us from ‘lightly’ walking our life’s path. Not everything from 2017 and before is relevant to this present time. Let it go with blessing and gratitude.

The ‘spirit of joy’ of this New Year can be a blessing of hope, of aspirations and of new intentions for changing toward our preferred future and who we hope to be. To take full advantage of this ‘celebrative spirit’ which currently inspires us, we need to co-create with and absorb this ‘spirit of joy’ into our New Year’s hopes and wishes for a finer year.

As I watch how Carlie and Rayna embrace everyday moments, and I apply the best of what I have learned, I have chosen to share a few ways to accelerate your path to joy or your heart’s intentions for this year —

1. Clarify your vision of what you REALLY, REALLY desire in your heart … for how you would love and cherish to live your life. Communicate it to those who can help you. Be grateful for what you already have done or accomplished. Bring these timeless blessings with you.

2. In heart meditation, contemplation or centering prayer, listen with open and softened mind to your inner wisdom for the ‘intentions’ that will serve to influence and shape your actions and choices toward your vision. Choose only those intentions that have the power to truly influence your actions and choices when the challenges to revert to old habits are in full gear. Your intention/s must absolutely matter to you.

• They need to be Life-Giving and Life-Affirming
• They need to be Genuinely Personal to Your Heart
• They need to Provide Power, Love and Strength to You in your Present Reality – Enough to Transform Your Attitude, Belief, Habits, Emotional, Motivation, etc
• You Can, Will and Do Emotionally Commit to Living your Intention Because the Outcomes and the Path to the Outcomes are Precious Blessings.

3. Identify your current resources to get started in living your intention. Resources often include your skills abilities and talents, your contacts/network/support, your financial resources, your inner inspiration or aspirations. Carlie has learned to keep track of her toys and what she treasures. For me, when I want to learn something new or accomplish something, I first clarify what I need and then look around at those in my life and see who has what would be useful to me, or who has the contact that I need.

4. Identify where you need help to gather and put in place the resources you need and ASK FOR HELP. Both Carlie and Rayna are confident in asking for what they need. They trust their needs are important and will be listened to respectfully and appropriately. Carlie will give a single bark to let me know a toy is someplace where she needs help to get it. In this past year, I have brought new people on my ‘best life’ team, released others and maintained those who remain dear and wise and ‘useful’ to me.

5. Daily Ask your Inner Guidance three core questions as you connect to your life vision:

What would I love to do today to serve the greater well-being?
What do I need today to love and be loved?
What is love calling me to become or do or be aware of in my world today?

6. Take inspired and informed action. Carlie has learned skills and behaviour that support her pursuit in living joyfully and exuberantly. Likewise, when I ask for guidance and listen to my intuition, remaining attuned to the power and light of my intention, the action presents itself. It is up to me to follow through on the action, and often the action is a behaviour I have already learned, but need to apply in a new situation.

What I have learned over the years is that for me, truly inspiring intentions toward my vision of a more peaceful world, where all beings are healthy, happy, prosperous and at peace (thus justice and kindness are core values of our common humanity and determine our relationships with all of life) are the catalyzers for my change. Whether it’s through a spiritual word which focuses and empowers me, or a soul expressed intention which expands and informs my actions, these simple and yet powerful words carry me gently, cleanly and synchronistically beyond my familiarities toward the reality of my vision well lived.

This is a Goddess way of living for me. I have a vision that grows, changes and evolves as my soul awakens, evolves and grows. I have core intentions that attune me to my True Self. My goals arise out of these intentions and vision from deep within me. My intention for 2018 inspires me and continues to support my vision to love and be loved, to be peace and act for peace. My actions are beginning to naturally flow from these heart inspired intentions to live with greater kindness and generosity. And as Carlie reminds me, when I follow my inspired dream and intentions, I will know my joy, Goddess joy.

What I have laid down over the years are the ego goals and/or intentions of status, of colonial definitions of belonging, of excess use of resources and wealth for the elite rather than for the whole of the planet – goals and intentions that deny the presence of the Goddess as Life-Giver here on our Mother Earth. As Indigenous teacher and scholar, Maya Chacaby, stated recently, “we have all been colonized”. She challenges us to lead by doing differently than the status quo, by not following the ‘normal’ which is depleting us all and making us all sick.

So, when you listen for your intentions, listen deep, listen in truth and love for what will awaken your soul to the fullness of love and life and light, even if it upends the status quo. Sometimes, as Carlie knows with her arthritis, living your joy can also mean you will need to attend to your pain. However, her motto is GO FOR IT! Joy lessens pain.

My 2018 hope for each of you and all life that you touch:

Happy New Year to all young and old and those in between. To those who stand tall and to those who crawl on the ground. To those who fly and to those who swim. To those who sing and to those who howl. To those who bloom and bear fruit and to those who mushroom and grow in groves. To those who trickle and wind, and to those who ebb and flow. To those who shine and radiate and to those who cause darkness through cycles, I wish you a year of joyous happiness, healing hearts and bodies, and the essence of abundance that is sufficient, generous and sustainable for all. Blessed be.

Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

A Santa of Peace and Kindness

I met Santa the other Saturday. It was an unexpected and most extraordinary meeting. This Santa was a she and appeared slim as though she takes care of herself. She wore makeup and colourful glass beads around her neck. Her hair was styled and silver. She had winter walking boots and pulled a little cart behind her.

I had just finished work and after a quick trip to the bank Carlie and I were ready for a little walk in the snow – a reward for waiting patiently and quietly. We came out of the credit union and crossed the street to sniff the snow when I noticed Santa crossing the street toward us. She greeted us cheerily and then said, “I don’t like to see litter everywhere, so I need to go pick that up.”

I followed her gaze and saw the garbage in the corner of the church property. I told her, “wow, how kind of you to do that. Thank you.” I watched her pick up the garbage, using her little cart for support. Carlie and I continued around the block, casually sniffing every new spot.

We were coming around the last corner and heading towards my car and I saw “Santa” again. She was again bending over, picking up other people’s garbage. No one was paying any attention to what she was doing probably because it looked like the behaviour of a homeless person, weeding through garbage to scavenge something of value for themselves. But, here as Santa, with makeup and a glass bead necklace, she was picking up our garbage. This was her gift to the community. She was picking up the plastic, the paper, the bow and tie, the knickknacks that others decided not to be responsible for in the end. Her cart was full, with ‘stuff’ people throw away because they have too much ‘stuff’.

My heart skipped a beat – what an incredible sight. She wasn’t asking to be noticed. She loved her community. She loved the ‘home’ where she lived, our Mother Earth. As Carlie and I were walking right past her, I wondered what I could offer to acknowledge this elderly, unassuming, beautiful spirit. I had no money in my pocket, only a mid-size glass marble of Mother Earth I carry around with me in my coat pocket. Carlie and I stopped, and I said “and here we are again, meeting each other. I’m not sure if this will be of value to you, but I would like to offer you this Earth marble.” (It was quite beautiful with the oceans and all the continents on it).

She took the marble, looked at it and with her eyes shining bright, she exclaimed, “why yes, I would value it very much. Thank you.” Carlie and I continued, but as I moved to keep walking, I noticed her spin the marble in her hand, look at it again and then put it in her pocket. She resumed picking up other people’s garbage.

In these two brief encounters I felt gifted and blessed. Watching her take something we hold rather dear in our culture, Santa Claus, and turn him into a ‘her’ and into a servant leader, modeling to the generations of those who are younger than her, how to care for our home, our Mother Earth, if we would only pause to see.

In her way of being, she embodied the fruits of the spirit, the essentials of any active and genuine spirituality:

  • She had learned to loved self and others, regardless of what they had done or not done. Her engaging smile and eyes expressed more than words may ever communicate.
  • Her body rhythms were smooth, gentle and methodical. She carried no air of resentment, as one who practises forgiveness.
  • She freely practised kindness, indeed, random acts of kindness.
  • She recognized the sacred, especially the sacred essence of our home, our community, our Earth.
  • She was gracious and grateful for the attention and gift offered her, but she would have offered this service to her community regardless. There was no display of craving attention for her deed. She was Santa serving the good.
  • She had the wisdom that doing good helps us feel good, deeply satisfied, even if it is picking up garbage and even when others may not see the good we do.
  • And finally, she served her community with joy, even in picking up their garbage. She dedicated her Saturday to a purpose larger than her own satisfaction alone. What vision of a beautiful planet must she have that she is so committed to even on a winter’s afternoon?

Whatever your cultural or religious holiday might be this season, I invite you to consider engaging in something which offers your community a gift of kindness, love, joy, peace, vision, wisdom and generosity. Take a familiar symbol of the season and turn it on its head. Instead of the cultural norms of power and fantasies of spiritual magic, disguised as excess consumption in these symbols, turn them upside down.

If you were Santa this year, what kind of Santa would you be? What gift would you bring? Does this ‘gift’ heal or harm? Who really will be responsible for the gift you give? The Earth? Our water? You? Or the Receiver?

This past 6 weeks, I have met people like this who have inspired me in a new way. From water walkers, to a servant Santa, to those surrendering to a living/loving Higher Power because it’s the only way they can find freedom from their addictions. What new inspirations and aspirations to serve from your heart do you want to share in 2018? Let’s re-commit to making this life, this world a better place for us and those beings to come. Let peace begin with us.

May you and your families be well and happy. May you be peace-filled and sufficiency. May you be safe, healthy and live joyously, with just enough bravery to turn ‘normal’ upside down. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays and Joy to the World.  Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

FOUR STANDARDS & PRACTICES OF SELF RESPECT

Think about someone whom you respect with everything in your heart, almost whom you radically respect. Reflect upon their actions, their values, the way they care for others and themselves, the choices they make and the way they communicate with others. What stands out for you about the way in which they embody self-respect that ‘demands’ you respect them?

A key destroyer to self-respect is a lack of personal boundaries and practices of self-compassion. Personal boundaries and practices of self-compassion communicate, among other things, how we wish to be treated, who we are in relationship to the world around us and the responsibility we take for the joy and well-being of our lives – a reflection of our own self dignity. Over the past 20 years of working with people, I have heard hundreds of stories of deep wounds and hurt that people carry in which their core sense of dignity and respect have been compromised, violated or disregarded.

When children are abused, neglected and repeatedly traumatized by the lives of shame and abuse from their parents, guardians and trusted elders, teachers and coaches, learning the standards and practices of self-respect and self-compassion is negligible and non-existent. If these same children grow up and don’t get the healing they require, they are likely to spread this shame of disrespect, self-hate and abuse to others, only now it begins to multiply. Other times, there are those who have become so accustomed to low self-worth and harsh self judgement, they simply fall into patterns of weak boundaries that end up sabotaging the very goals they are working so hard to accomplish. Developing self-respect is a key healing balm to transmute our shame and low self-worth.

Spiritually, self-respect is necessary to experience our inner potential and to fulfill our purpose or deep meaning in life. To contribute to the betterment of our world and to restore wholeness to our planet, we need to begin to grow our self-respect.

The following four key standards of self-respect and practices of self-compassion help to authenticate our life and strengthen our spirituality:

1. Value and Honour our Core Needs

Although we know we need to value and honour our needs, our dreams and our goals if we are to respect ourselves, actually ‘doing’ the work of valuing and honouring our needs is a choice we often justify away. To deeply value oneself, a healthy body and nutrition, one’s mental well-being and one’s spiritual nourishing would be as fundamental to us as putting gas in the car to make sure we get from point A to B without ‘pushing’ ourselves to the destination on empty. And yet, how often does the gas in the car get first priority over our deeper core needs?

Valuing and honouring ourselves means that we need to treat our whole selves, our inner core with dignity, a key standard of respect and practice of self-compassion. On a scale of 1-10, where do you put yourself? Where would you like to be and what do you need to transform to respect yourself as you would like?

2. Be Honest and Live your Principles

Many of us deeply value honesty, and trust those who are truthful. What often strikes me however, is what it means to be honest and truthful with oneself. If we are only aware of our ego beliefs of life, then we cannot be fully honest, for we will be ‘without heart’ in our understanding. We will be untruthful, no matter how hard we attempt to behave honestly because our ego is not necessarily concerned with fulfilling heart and soul needs and lessons. For me, being honest and truthful means being connected, aware and growing in the whole presence and light of my soul, my inner deepest heart/mind.

The challenge to be truthful is not just about what we say. Being honest requires that our words, our actions, our intentions, our energy and our spiritual being flow with integration and coherence (words, deeds, intentions all match!). This process is a daily commitment to oneself and to the principles we live by regardless of what life presents us.

Seeking to become more soulfully honest naturally and eloquently raises our standard of self-respect. What new question can you pose to yourself that would forward your truth from within your inner being?

3. Trust your Inner Wisdom

We all have deep knowledge and gut instincts about what is good and beneficial for us. Unfortunately, we have been trained to ignore these signals, body cues and insights and instead, to give credibility and authority to our thinking minds and society’s status quo. Of course, I believe reason and insight or intuition both can harmoniously work together for our greater good. However, they are to be in balance and work as a dialectic tension with one another. When we frame our lives and our thinking in binary, dualistic fashion, we neglect our own inner wisdom guiding us into our best self and toward our best life. Such living lends itself to feeling and being sustained by a sense of self-respect.

Moreover, our bodies are powerful communicators about what is beneficial and what is destructive for us. And yet, because we have weak standards and practices of self-valuing and honouring and dismissive patterns of our needs, we miss the key signals that point us to our truth, to our wisdom and the way forward in our lives. Without trusting the heart of our inner wisdom, our standard of respect will rarely mature and support us in the difficult moments of our evolving lives and relationships.

What is the insight you have been disregarding and rationalizing away, that if you listened would provide the opening and path forward you are seeking?

4. Act with Courage to Change

Here we encounter the stumbling blocks of most stumbling blocks—the courage to DO the change. To claim our courage is to seek our unknown potential. Respect truly builds and grounds within us when we take action toward our potential, and that means we must be aligned with and open to Spirit. Potential is a Higher Power when we choose potential that promotes our joy, peace and goodwill to all sentient beings.

The Chinese character ‘chaos’ is depicted as a new plant breaking the ground and is translated “where dreams begin.” In other words, the beginning is often difficult and requires us to change our habits and mindsets and perhaps even release old relationships and seek new ones. Such changes can create such intense fear in us that we cannot see the success or goodness of the positive results and we turn back to where we came. Other times we become frozen with fear for stepping too far out of the comfort zone of others we are seeking to please and appease.

The courage to change brings into focus the other 3 standards and practices of self-respect and self-compassion. As a coherent set of standards and practices of self-respect, we access the power to benefit from the very essence of our joy and the path we walk to manifest it. Deep self-respect demands our courage to act. What metaphor of SELF-RESPECT can your Inner Wisdom create that is so powerful, strong and wise, you literally change a weak and destructive pattern in your life and relationships?

 

If self-respect is a power of self-kindness and empowerment you would like to improve, consider participating in my upcoming two-day workshop The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Health & Joyful Living on September 29-30th, 2017. I would love to partner with you and co-create a powerful transformation of your present relationships and your inner state of love and peace.

For more details about this amazing learning and growth opportunity, visit The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Health & Joyful Living. You may also call or email me for additional clarification or guidance. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Healing: Bending Towards Life

Stories of true healing inspire me. Koans and wisdom parables and sayings which expand my spirit and calm my mind, call my body to breathe, relax and expand into its wholeness and balance all inspire me.

I have learned that my healing occurs when I become flexible and resilient enough to bend towards life and accept life, as it is, rather than push for life to bend towards my desires or will. Stress, pain and illness then can become ‘reframed’ in my mind. I thought I would pass along a few thoughts on healing and bending towards life (for most of us that requires a whole shift of consciousness, a change of perspective) which have, and continue to, resonate with and help me …


Danea Horn – “I thought ‘healed’ meant that life became the way you wanted it to be. I could not have been further from the truth. I had missed the most basic of Buddhist principles: life is suffering.

“Becoming spiritual does not mean that we are no longer human. It doesn’t take away the pain, illness, and stress; it only reframes it. Suffering tells us that we are inherently human. Coping with human challenges does not mean that we are less-than or that we are damaged; it only means that we are experiencing things all human beings experience.

“The trick is not to bend life’s will to our personal desires. It is the other way around. We must find the flexibility to bend to Life. That is what I had been missing.”

Socrates – “The secret of change is to focus all of our energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Buddha – “Our sorrow and wounds are healed when we touch them with compassion.”

Katherine Schafler – “You can change without healing, but you can’t heal without changing.”

Irene Tamaras – “In our logical, conscious mind we are ready, but deep within us, on a subconscious level that we cannot understand because it takes time and maturity for us to understand this, we are NOT ready to heal. Why? Because of what I have come now to understand about healing — that healing is not black or white, that healing is mystical and mysterious and not guaranteed, that healing is hard work that requires great discipline, sacrifice, surrender, courage, and change, that healing is about a deep transformation within us of something far greater than the physical symptoms that we are experiencing and wanting to heal, and that healing is a journey of our growth from living in an ego state to becoming spiritually awake as we reach the deepest part of ourselves in truth as we journey to our soul.”

Judith Orloff MD – “Because I’m a physician, people often ask me, ‘What’s the most important factor in recovering from illness?’ To their surprise, my answer is always “surrender.” Surrender basically means letting go of your need to be in control. It’s about opening up your mind to possibilities you might not have considered, letting your intuition guide you, and being in the flow of life. When we stop pushing and trying to determine the outcome, healing energy becomes available to us. So surrender your fear. Surrender yourself with healing people. Surrender to peacefulness.”

“Surrender is a very active process and on an energetic or subtle level it invites Divinity to resolve a situation. This is why the universe and one’s life is radically altered as one surrenders on something. Once something is completely surrendered the highest form of wisdom and power is now handling it, which means that its outcome has altered also.” http://www.healthandhealingclinic.net/the-role-of-surrender-in-health-and-healing


In my third podcast and conversation with Colin Hillstrom about healing, we share stories and understandings we have gained from our paths of healing and consciousness. I invite you to listen to our conversation.

Then we invite you to try the action at the end of our conversation. As one of my colleagues finishes all our conference calls, “Go out and be a blessing this week.” Alternatively, accept one difficult situation about your health as it is. It brings immediate relief. Immediate energy for allowing healing to begin within.

In closing, I remind of us a powerful healing prayer by Reinhold Neibuhr – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”

Blessed be.

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

The Divine Art of Healing: Using your Energy Wisely

In my second podcast conversation with Colin Hillstrom, we begin with the question ‘why bother with healing?’ Why do we need to become conscious to heal? What really is the benefit of doing the work of telling the truth, of becoming aware and awake when healing from disease and illness? These questions challenge us to do more than the bare minimum to return our energy to a state of doing what we have always done. Sooner or later, a crisis will call into question the health and life we take for granted.

For the past two weeks, a police cruiser with its lights flashing has been parked on our street every day to direct traffic onto the detour route around the road closure further up the street. It has been fascinating to observe the varied reactions to this inconvenience. After all, in our journeys from points A to B, we just want to get where we are going with the least amount of disruption and re-calculating.

One afternoon I decided to take a snack up to the officer on duty, and I joked with him about how busy he was making sure that people do what they are being asked to do. His comments surprised me – they are driving past four road closed signs because looking for an alternative pathway is too much work. People are driving on people’s lawns to get where they want to go rather than take the detours. They are even driving around him onto the shoulder and when he chases them down, they give him excuses like they didn’t see him.

I stood there and witnessed him telling a driver who didn’t know how to follow the detour signs and so returned to ask again if she could drive around the barricades to get where she wanted to go. He was kind, but clear in his response: “For the 2nd time, no.” On a several occasions, when they felt they could get away with it, I witnessed several drivers disregarding the officer and the multiple road closure signs and proceeding around the barricade, with little concern for the safety of the workers or the property of those who live within the construction zone.

I understand firsthand the inconvenience of this detour onto a gravel road that can be very dusty, or muddy when it rains, and very rough because of all the traffic. It means I must drive slower and allow more time – this and other inconveniences come with this kind of construction. For me to disregard the flashing lights and road signs just to get what one wants right now, faster, seems an act of disrespect my spirit cannot consider.

I share this story because it’s what I also hear in the stories that I hear from my clients. People will bypass the body’s ‘flashing red light’ repeatedly just to get what they want, now. They don’t believe the red light applies to them needing to become conscious of their body and emotional-spiritual well-being. Their body is supposed to support them regardless of their choices, regardless of their habits. They don’t need to change. Sensory pleasure or momentary ego gratification is the sole motivating factor while their spirit and the flow of truth and love is denied and infringed upon.

Moreover, not only is the body compromised in this situation, but so too are their important relationships, often which also become disrespected and disregarded in some way. Here, just like the lawns and property which are being destroyed, or construction workers that are almost being hit by these drivers, and school property and sidewalks being used as roadways, we often don’t recognize that only using our energy for our ego’s cravings and entitlements are costing the relationships we might otherwise value when the shoe worn becomes our own. Sometimes healing takes a longer route and we do best by honouring the natural rules of healing.

Healing includes more than clearing physical symptoms. It calls for a change in consciousness towards higher aspirations, connections and love to something greater than ourselves. It calls us to open up to new possibilities and potentiality of who we can be in the world, whether it be family, community, ourselves and with our bodies. Healing calls us to use our energy rightly. It asks us to reframe our stress, pain and illness.

The power of healing is found in the acceptance and resilience and love to yield to life, to its detours and even temporary road blocks. Our capacity to heal is found in our willingness and conscious dedication to yield towards what gives us life, love and vitality. Such healing calls us to ask what is the right use of our energy to restore vitality and reconnect us with love and life as it seeks to flow through us.

Which leads me to ask you: What behaviour, habits or spiritual practice leads you toward your higher power and helps make the right use of your energy? Why does healing really matter to you?

Take some time to listen to my podcast series about healing with Colin Hillstrom as we explore using your energy wisely. If you missed the first one, I invite you to start there – this series is really an ongoing conversation between us. I hope you enjoy and I look forward to hearing your comments. Be blessed.

Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

The Divine Art of Healing

All suffering and illness comes from a perceived sense of separation (an unloved state).

Dr. Leonard Laskow (MD)

Healing is how we recover, repair, restore and retain health and wholeness in mind, body, spirit, community and environment. Healing may or may not result in cure.

The Samueli Institute

First we have to heal our spirit. Secondly we have to keep our body healthy. If our spirit is healthy and conformed to the truth, the body will get healthy naturally.

Usui Sensei (Founder of Reiki Ryoho)

 

The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.      Plato

The American Medical Association (AMA) states 80 percent of all health problems are stress related, and even the conservative Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element.    Dr. Mercola

The most Divine art is healing. It must occupy itself with the soul as well as the body. Pythagorus

 

Tao of Healing

Going beyond the ordinary

Shedding the orthodox

In radiant Emptiness

The Self-nature reveals.  I Ching

To heal a nation, we must first heal the individuals, the families and the communities. We listened to three women yesterday. What they had to say tells me that spiritual rebirth is happening; spiritual rebirth is absolutely essential. The imperative for us now, as Native people, is to heal our communities, and heal our nations, because we are the final teachers in this sacred land. We have to teach how to live in harmony with each other and with the whole creation. People will have to put down their greed and arrogance before they can hear what we are saying. I am not sure how many will do that. So we are in the process of healing ourselves, healing our communities, and healing our nations.

The closing words of Elder Art Solomon at a conference at University of Sudbury in 1992

Illness is a physical manifestation of spiritual decay. Healing, ritual and community – these three elements are vitally linked….

The Healing Wisdom of Africa by Malidoma Patrice Somé (Dagara People)

The journey of healing is one filled with mystery. Over centuries, from different times and parts of the world, we hear the same message written in many ways – the body and mind are one; soul and body are one. Even Mother Earth and Self are one. Our health and the health of our community is one.

Here in the west, we have been so trained to separate our spirit from our body, our self from our community, and we forget to consult our inner or ancestral wisdom and our spiritual state when seeking to heal our physical bodies. It’s not that medical, alternative or body therapies shouldn’t be used to treat illnesses manifesting in the body. Indeed, the spirit, mind, energy, and body are one!

The missed opportunity is often, however, to include one’s inner wisdom, one’s spiritual guidance system to offer insight, answers and inner knowing to the path of wholeness and spiritual healing that our medical models often fail to include as essential to the healing the soul of a person and their community and more. Often what receives little attention in the healing path is the spiritual decay and the need for spiritual awakening that offers the power of the mind/body connection to heal itself.

As you ponder this wisdom shared above from over cultures, centuries and even current research, I invite you to listen to my latest series of podcasts on healing. My friend and colleague Colin Hillstrom, a Transformation coach, and I held a series of “fireside chat” discussions about healing. Our conversation covers our experiences with healing, what we understand healing to be, and how healing connects us to spiritual awakening. Listen to the first in the series.

Blessed be the way of your healing!

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

A Moment of Love

Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love. – I John 4:8

The wind is breezy, moving and swaying the long grass in the field. As I lay a track for Carlie, I decide which portions of the track will follow ‘downwind’ and which part will have a ‘cross wind’. I choose terrain of various grass lengths because scent is held, pooled and travelled depending upon terrain and vegetation and I want to lay track that is both challenging and yet achievable, encouraging her to be confident in her skill to “follow the trail”.

The sun is bright and it is a wonderful Friday afternoon, heading into summer’s first long weekend. When I return to the house, Carlie is sitting at the door, patiently waiting for me. She knows ‘the game’ that is about to take place. I putter around the house waiting for Nature to do ‘Her thing’ with the track, moving the scent here and there with the wind. Nature loves joining in on our tracking adventures, sometimes as an aid, sometimes as a trickster.

Finally, it’s time. I put on her tracking harness, clip on the long line and put a few treats in my pocket. Carlie starts tracking before she even gets to the track. (She is always seeking the advantage.) Her tail is up and wagging, her eyes are bright and she is panting with anticipation and joy. We get to the start area and I tell her ‘search’. Down goes her nose and into another world she enters. She finds the trail, pulls forward and begins. I walk behind her. She maneuvers the corners, the wind, and the different terrain with delight in the game and in her skill. Challenges arise and become solved. We find the first two items. The gravel poses a difficulty and I have to direct her to follow scent on gravel, across bricks and then wahoo, the tug toy is hidden under a plant in the garden, the final ‘lost item’. We play tug. She tugs and growls and pulls and shakes the tug. What joy! A truly glorious moment.

The moment grabs my heart. My heart opens with love for Carlie. I feel an expansiveness in my chest and I know we are connected. I feel a complete harmony with her joy, and as we return to the house, we celebrate one another and the best we bring to each other. I feel the laughter of the sun and the humour in the wind who created just enough challenge to stretch our minds about what is possible. In this moment of love, of expansiveness and harmony, I feel Goddess ~ I feel Love, or in the words of Pema Chodron, Compassionate Abiding, connected with the Mystery, one with all Essence.

It was that simple. An openness to loving another. A pure joy. Unitive harmony. A surrender which takes me deep into my Self and beyond my ego. And for a moment, reality changes. For a moment, I transform. For a moment, I plant my feet in the land of blessing, and I am home in love. I accept I am accepted in Goddess Love. I recall Tillich’s words: “Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not perform anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted! If that happens to us, we experience grace. After such an experience we may not be better than before, and we may not believe more than before. But everything is transformed. In that moment, grace conquers sin, and reconciliation bridges the gulf of estrangement. And nothing is demanded of this experience, no religious or moral or intellectual presupposition, nothing but acceptance.” – from Paul Tillich’s sermon You Are Accepted.

In Reiki Ryoho practice, we say Reiki is Love, Pure Awareness, the Essence of Everything. Goddess is Love. Love is pure acceptance. The core of our meditations is to surrender whole heartedly into this Universal Love and Harmony, into this Abiding Compassion, into Goddess who is within us and is the Essence of Everything. And gently, we are changed and change. Love changes everything. Accepting Pure Acceptance transforms us.

Create a moment and return to Love yet again. And if you have wandered far or fallen down, and are estranged from that Holy Love, I share this invitation of our Peace Circle:

Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come. – Rumi

Know Love. Be loved. Love. It is the alchemy of life.

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

 

About our next Peace Circle:

Loving Mother Earth, Loving Self

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

12:00 – 4:00 pm in Waterloo, ON

Weather permitting, this Circle will be outdoors

Cost: $60 (+HST)

Co-Facilitators Shirley Lynn Martin & Karen McCarthy have put together an inspiring Peace Circle during which participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and draw wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh’s article “Falling Back in Love with Mother Earth”.

During our time together in Circle, we will:

  • learn ‘to do’ self love by ‘loving Mother Earth’
  • expand, enhance and deepen our meaning of self love as we learn to expand/deepen our meaning of loving Mother Earth
  • create deeper connection and integrated awareness of the path to loving ourselves, to loving Mother Earth

Come join us and spend the afternoon in a community who chooses to love ourselves, Mother Earth, and each other. Experience the healing power in the Circle ceremony and stories that collectively transform our being and our relationships. Register today!