Category: Blog

Just thought you would want to know about this…

I’ve got some exciting upcoming trainings and growth opportunities – take a quick peek and find what resonates with you. Hope to see you soon!    – Shirley Lynn

Peace Circle:  Loving Mother Earth, Loving Self

“You carry Mother Earth within you … She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment.
In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship you have enough love, strength and awakening in order to change your life. …”

          Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh

If these words of wisdom by Thich Nhat Hanh speak to you, you won’t want to miss our next Peace Circle on Saturday, June 24th.

Karen and Shirley Lynn 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’.

Outcomes we wish for this Circle:

  • to learn ‘to do’ self love by ‘loving Mother Earth’
  • to expand, enhance and deepen our meaning of self love as we learn to expand/deepen our meaning of loving Mother Earth
  • to create deeper connection and integrated awareness of the path to loving ourselves, to loving Mother Earth
  • to support community who chooses to love ourselves, Mother Earth, and each other
  • to experience the healing power in the Circle ceremony and stories that collectively transform our being and our relationships.

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

12:00pm – 4:00pm in Waterloo, ON

Weather permitting, this Circle will be outdoors

Cost: $60 (+HST)

For more information about Peace Circle and to register, please email Shirley Lynn at Shirley@shirleylynnmartin.com. Additional details about the Summer Peace Circle will be posted very soon.


Reiki Level One Training

life changing and so wonderful…

lotus-215460_640You wouldn’t believe how many people have expressed this sentiment to me as they begin their Reiki journey. And they mean it. In fact, this is one of the reasons I continue to teach these powerful healing techniques and spiritual practices to students just like you.

Are you ready to begin?

Gendai Reiki Ho and Komyo Reiki Kai are often called Japanese Reiki, or traditional Japanese Usui Reiki. These styles are simple yet profound ways to improve and bring balance, harmony, inner relaxation and pure awareness to our mind, body, spirit relationship.

This Level One Intensive includes 20 hours of class time over three days:

Friday & Saturdays June 2-3, & 10 (3 days)
9:30am – 4:30pm
Location:  Waterloo, Ontario

Cost: $350 +HST (includes training manual with extensive addendum)

WHAT WE WILL STUDY:

  • Level One Reiki meditations
  • Reiki Ryoho history and core spiritual teachings
  • The Five Principles and how to apply them in your everyday life
  • Hand positions and giving treatments
  • Grounding and centring through Reiki
  • Treating plants, animals and water through Reiki
  • and more…

Reiki is a ♥️heart path♥️, a path of spiritual practice and awakening as well as self healing.

If you are seeking organic growth, a wealth of self-empowerment and a deepening of the vibrations of Universal Love and Harmony, join me in this life long path of growing into health, happiness and abundance in shared heart-based community!

For more information about this training, whether it is right for you, and to register, please contact me at Shirley@shirleylynnmartin.com, 519-886-6732 or visit my website for Reiki Level One.


New Podcasts in the works

Look for upcoming podcasts in which Colin Hillstrom and Shirley Lynn discuss “Conversations about Healing”. We asked our respective clients what questions they have about the healing process. During the podcasts, we will be sharing our thoughts and experiences in responding to these questions.

Stay tuned!

The Self Kindness Response:  Boundaries for Healthy and Joyful Living Workshop

  • Are you tired of feeling misunderstood, taken advantage of, uncared for and want to learn and practise how to say yes or no in ways that feel right for you?
  • Do you struggle with setting boundaries that are kind yet firm?
  • Are you ready to let go of longstanding feelings of hurt and resentment and choose instead ‘inner happiness’?
  • As a highly sensitive person, do you find yourself picking up on other people’s emotional or energetic ‘stuff’?
  • Are you ready to exercise greater loving-kindness in your self care?

If you can relate to any of these questions, this workshop is for you! Mark your calendar now.

Friday & Saturday, September 29-30th, 2017

9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: Private Home just minutes from (north) Waterloo, ON

Cost: $297 +HST

Need a sampler of this workshop? Check out my three-part podcast series In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living. Join my conversations with Jen Bodenham as we explore what boundaries are and why we need them. I hope it motivates you to join me at my two-day workshop in September!


Spring Maintenance Reminder

Book an individual coaching session or series and fine tune your Soul’s Purpose and polish your inner beauty.

At Feathers, Rainbows & Roses, the Spring Maintenance Program utilizes the Wisdom’s Way to Peace System of Life & Spiritual Development. I will integrate the techniques of life coaching, spiritual-ethical direction, life and spiritual awakening coaching, Reiki meditation and healing, energy psychology therapy, energy balancing techniques, and conflict management coaching. And, you will leave each session with Action Steps designed to advance your wellness, happiness and success – ultimately fulfilling your goals and life purpose. Move beyond To-do’s to TA-DA!!

Richest blessings to each and every one of you. May your hearts be filled with light and song.

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

The Hidden Blessing of Spring

The Joy of Spring

Spring is here and so we often find ourselves also getting more spring in our step too! As I write this blog today, I find myself sensing the joy in my heart expand and fill with the blue sky, bright sun, fresh air and green grass. The dogs and I are again playing in the creek behind the house. Of course, they are giggling as they smell the fresh scents, run in and out of the creek and check to see who is coming out of winter’s hibernation! On our way back to the house, Rayna and Carlie drag their feet just like little kids who doesn’t want to go home from the playground. I promise them they can hang outside on the front porch and I will give them a treat for coming back without complaining. I can certainly appreciate their joy of simply taking in the sun and fresh spring air and I join them in savouring the beauty of the day.

For most people, saying good-bye to winter is done with relative ease and cheer. We anticipate the longer and warmer days of spring when purple crocuses and white snowdrops emerge, followed by daffodils and tulips and so many other spring blooms all reawakening and brightening the backdrop of mud and last year’s leftover debris. For most people, the end of winter’s grief rarely registers as anything but a great sigh of relief.

The Paradox

And yet, Spring brings us a new kind of paradox where new life is mixed with new energy. With this new life, we often open with relative ease to ‘let go’ of a ‘bad mood’. We are empowered to ‘lighten our mind’ toward growth and renewal.  In Chinese medicine, spring is the season of the liver and the ideal time to detox the liver system, helping it to ‘let go’. Just like we prune shrubs and bushes to promote healthy and richer growth, our bodies need support to be purified to promote health and vital energy.

In TCM, the metaphysics of frustration, bitterness, and the nuances of anger are often associated with the liver system and its (un)happy chi flow. What an interesting opportunity – the gift of spring to help us more easily release our anger! Spring invites us to ask ourselves: What anger can I let go to lighten my heart? or perhaps What anger can I let go of to increase the joy in my life?

The Disease of Anger

In his book When the Body Says No, Gabor Maté writes that holding onto anger creates a significant cost in hidden stress to the body. Some people know they are angry, but fear their anger. Others are not aware they feel anger because it’s ‘not okay’ to be angry, so they repress it deep into the body. Others believe that if they are angry, it makes them unlovable.

We are aware that unregulated expression of anger is problematic and hurtful to others. We also know that repression of anger causes disease in the body. Maté quotes a Woody Allen character: “ I never get angry. I grow a tumour instead.” So we often are faced with a significant inner conflict – if I get angry, I will rage on others and hurt them which I don’t want to do … or I might not be loved. But if I don’t express it, I will hurt my own body, my own being, even to the point of causing disease. Even our spiritual practice tells me ‘do not anger’! What a seeming doubly double bind we are in! The very thought of this double bind creates anxiety and fear in us because we fear the genuine expression of anger.

Getting Beyond the Double Bind

Allen Kalpin, a physician and psychotherapist writes that healthy anger is an empowerment and a relaxation. Anger does not require hostile acting out. Maté summarizes: People discharge their anger outwardly because they fear fully experiencing it internally. Both the unbridled expression of anger and its automatic suppression arise from an anxiety we first feel in early childhood. It is inherently anxiety-producing for a small child to be angry with those he is dependent on, Dr. Kalpin points out. The real experience of anger “is a physiologic experience without acting out“. The experience is one of a surge of power going through the system, along with a mobilization to attack. There is, simultaneously, a complete disappearance of all anxiety.

“When healthy anger is starting to be experienced, you don’t see anything dramatic. What you do see is a decrease of all muscle tension. The mouth is opening wider, because the jaws are more relaxed, the voice is lower in pitch because the vocal cords are more relaxed. The shoulders drop, and you see all signs of muscle tension disappearing.”[1]

Moving beyond the double bind means we give ourselves permission to feel the surge of aggressive energy that arises with anger, calmly and without anxiety. We also choose to feel our anger without acting it out. Notice the spiritual ethic of so many wisdom traditions, Do not anger. It tells us to not act it out ( a behaviour, not a feeling … it’s the verb form). But for health and well-being, for the joy to flow vital in our hearts, we need to calmly experience the surge of aggression and speak to the injustice. We need to know we are loved and safe within ourselves even with our anger. And as we do, we ‘let it go’ and lighten our minds and hearts.

Compassion: Returning to Joy through Fierceness: The hidden blessing

In my work with psychologist and leadership coach Rev. Rob Voyle, we refer to the Three Faces of Compassion. He describes one of the faces of compassion as fierceness. Fierceness is often a needed expression of compassion in the face of injustice. Voyle states that this “compassion face of fierceness is a single-minded determination to bring about a just future”.

Listen to Martin Luther King Jr speak to the injustices Black America was suffering as a result of systemic racism (and still is). His voice is strong, yet his body is relatively relaxed. He does not mince words in his condemnation of injustices of racism. King has a single-minded focus in challenging and speaking to and expressing his anger about what is grossly unjust in America. His entire spine is filled with the power of “NO”, I will not accept this racism as my destiny. “I have a dream” he so powerfully and eloquently orates to his listeners. His compassion for his people, for his country, for all life was fierce. His joy had immense historical vision. It changed history. As did his healthy anger expressed through fierce compassion.

I am always amazed at the mystery of Universal flows liberating our hearts to increase our joy. The fullness that awakens with Spring and sun and fresh air, flowers budding and birds singing all brighten us. The letting go of the hidden anger, the all-consuming rage causing pain and disease enlightens our bodies and our minds. These two flows join together with a third flow, Love and Compassion of the Universe, creating a trinity of healing and blessing of a new and emerging joy.

With Spring now in full swing, I encourage you to prune the mental habits and filters that keep anger stuck in your heart and body. Follow the seasonal flow and take the time to cleanse. Enhance the flows of joy in your heart and life. Invite the  sunshine back into your heart. If you need help bringing Spring back into your Heart, please contact me at shirley@shirleylynnmartin.com to get started with soul coaching and whole life therapy. Together we will bring new flow to your body, mind and soul.

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

[1]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/anger-management/article1113421/

Spring Maintenance Reminder Notice

This notice is not for your car, it’s for You!

With the melted snow, the return of many birds, the re-emerging of hibernating animals and buds on trees and new plant growth, it is easy to feel and see the many harbingers of spring.

Spring has many messages associated with it regarding upkeep and maintenance of our homes, our bodies (both inside and out) and our communities. Property maintenance crews are in full swing; fitness clubs and diet programs urge us to shed extra weight in preparation for summer clothes and activities; health stores are promoting organ detox/cleansing products; and on it goes.

But how often do we put the same emphasis on rejuvenating our inner selves – evaluating our personal goals and aspirations for 2017 (are you on track?); nurturing our relationships and attending to their healthy growth and maintenance; birthing and attending to our soul’s true purpose and beauty??

I invite you to move your Self up your list of priorities … just like your car or home, you can’t neglect its care and expect it to perform optimally in the long term.

SCHEDULE YOUR SPRING MAINTENANCE TODAY. Book an individual coaching session or series and fine tune your Soul’s Purpose and polish your inner beauty.

At Feathers, Rainbows & Roses, the Spring Maintenance Program utilizes the Wisdom’s Way to Peace System of Life & Spiritual Development. I will integrate the techniques of life coaching, spiritual-ethical direction, life and spiritual awakening coaching, Reiki meditation and healing, energy psychology therapy, energy balancing techniques, and conflict management coaching. And, you will leave each session with Action Steps designed to advance your wellness, happiness and success – ultimately fulfilling your goals and life purpose. Move beyond To-do’s to TA-DA!!

Now that’s what I call a SPRING TUNE-UP!  Call or email me today to get started.

When you are ready to live more courageously, shine brighter, reach higher and become your best self, Feathers, Rainbows & Roses is here for you.

Happy Spring Everyone … and see you soon.

Spring Equinox Peace Circle: Forgiving our Past, Rebirthing our Capacity to Love

Why Peace?

“Who will work for peace on our planet? In our relationships? Within ourselves?” These are questions we are currently asking ourselves. With all the negativity that is flooding our airwaves, people are once again saying peace matters, even marching and calling for peace in ways we haven’t seen in decades. We desire love for all humanity and a restored earth.

To make this ‘call’ our collective reality, we must do the work to make peace our experience. We must make peace with our past. We must make peace with the lives we have been giving, rather than wishing for a greener life across the fence. We must be peace. Peace is our path to wholeness, to healing, to the very best of our collective existence.

Change the conversation? Change the chairs!

How do we make peace? One way is to initiate new conversations and a new way to be in conversation. Peter Block writes: “Change the conversation, change your thinking, change your life. Maybe… listening creates the speaking. Maybe citizens create leaders, maybe employees create bosses, maybe students create teachers and children create parents. Maybe the purpose of problem solving is to build relationships.”

This is all to say that we have the power to make monumental changes and that one of the ways is by hearing from one another. We also need to change our environment to be better supported to change the conversation. One powerful and ancient First Nations method that changes the conversation, transforms and heals the conversation, is through Circle. We can create circles for healing, for visioning, for building community, for conflict transformation, for remembering our inner wisdom’s way to peace.

The vital Equinox conversation: Forgiving our Past to Re-birth our Capacity to Love

So now that we have a well-tested method on how to change the environment and the principles of circle to change the conversation, what conversation is vital this equinox? What do we do with all the hatred, the negativity and the resentment that is creeping into our spaces and newsfeeds and into our inner sense of hope? Forgiving our past, forgiving our hurts is truly a key and vital change point. Love cannot exist without forgiving. Forgiving what hurt us is only possible with love. Spring brings us renewed hope and in this place of hope, we can access the faith and power to forgive through love.

As Rob Voyle, change agent and Episcopalian priest writes: “Without forgiveness, people remain trapped in their past, obsessing over what has been done to them. This obsession leads the person to use their injury as a way to re-injure themselves and stay in a state of victimization. While they are looking back to the past, it is impossible to look forward and to experience hope. If we are resentful of things from our past, when we do glimpse the future, we are likely to see a repetition of these painful experiences continuing into the future. Rather than welcome the future we are likely to spend considerable effort in taking self-protective measures.”

Bringing in and participating with the equinox is a call to awaken, to re-birth our vitality. The ultimate vitality is love and forgiveness. A specific task of forgiveness is to release our resentments about what happened in the past. Rob Voyle states that “resentment is a current demand that someone or something in the past should have been different. While the event that created our resentment may be in the past, the resentment is in the present and is manifested as a demand about the past.”

Spring is a special time to release the demands feeding our resentment and instead choose to nurture our capacity to love. Really. It’s time to open to the warmth of the sun and to the flow of our vitality. It’s time to live in love, a new kind of love that truly forgives and creates a genuinely new and better future. We cannot use forgiveness to change the past, but doing so will certainly enlarge and enrich our future. And that is where we will live, in our future.

Where can you have this vital conversation?

Join me in the next Peace Circle on Wednesday, March 22nd from 7-9:30 pm and be re-vitalized by the ceremony of forgiving our resentments together. For details about this event, please visit Spring Peace Circle. Limited seating so don’t wait to register.

If you have never experienced Peace Circle, I invite you to listen to our podcast series and be invited into peace circle with Karen, Tonya and myself.

Peace Circle Podcast series

Join Shirley Lynn Martin, Karen McCarthy and Tonya Noble as we again invite you into Peace Circle with us, to cross the threshold into sacred space and time. In our third and final podcast in this series, we explore the ‘Magic of Peace Circle’ we have each personally experienced. What comes to light is that circle transformation is a process that already begins in our preparation, as well as in the actual encounter and continues even days following the Peace Circle. There is a subtle dawning of synchronous joy, peace and awareness of who we truly are that becomes real in our coming together. The magic is real!

Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

Listen Up!

Recently Jennifer Bodenham,  a team development coach, and I sat down to create a 3-part podcast series about Boundaries. Throughout these podcasts, we explore why we need boundaries, what they are and even share a concrete 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 second podcast In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living – Part Two is now available. And in case you missed the first one, In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living, listen to it first to catch the flow of our conversation. The final podcast will be available next week.

I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to share them with others.


Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

Recently I was involved in a conversation in which 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.’ …Sigh…

It compelled me to reflect back to a workshop 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 February 24-25th, 2017 – Self Kindness Response: Healthy Boundaries for Joyful Living!

The following comment by a workshop participant last fall 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

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: The Wonder of Self Kindness

HAPPY NEW YEAR! In this next year, my overarching theme at Feathers, Rainbows & Roses will be peaceful relating with all our relations. Peaceful relating, as a practice and an attitude, is choosing to communicate and engage – with ourselves and others – with love, with respect for the dignity of another, and to do so justly. My desire is to help you develop and enhance your skills and inner capacity to enjoy and practise peaceful relating with all your relations.

We live always in the wonder of relationship, regardless of the quality of those relationships. I believe that collectively, we are awakening to the truth that we need one another in socially and intimate ways for our well-being. We need love and inter-connection. We are social beings who thrive when we are loved and when we love. We are awakening to the reality that most of our deepest hurts and pain result in the wounds of human relating, in the absence of connection, of acceptance and of belonging.

Recently I was teaching a class where I was introducing a new routine to dog training students. I was excited about a section of the routine, knowing it required handling skills beyond what we have done before. I hadn’t worked out all the kinks and wasn’t sure how this section of the routine would yet flow. So, after the first run-through of the routine, I asked the class for input and suggestions about it. Without warning, one member took the opportunity to sabotage the class, resulting in confusion, frustration and resentment for most of those present. Suddenly, I was caught in a situation where I hadn’t planned on being.

In reflecting on this situation afterward, I thought about what peaceful relating looks like when boundaries, whether personal or group, are being trespassed. What could I have done differently to give an opportunity for people to voice their thoughts without my own boundaries being intruded upon? [Thankfully, I was able to debrief later with another trainer and come up with responses and strategies to manage the situation better should this behaviour occur again.]

I also contemplated on various elements of my upcoming workshop and their relevance in helping me to handle myself with grace, patience and professionalism. I was able to stay grounded, centered and responsive in a difficult and unexpected situation. Practise what you preach, they say!

Creating boundaries which promote kindness and health for ourselves while maintaining connection is an ever-evolving skill. Learn more about how to do this in my upcoming workshop – The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living on February 24-25th, 2017. Join me for two full days of developing and practising better skills at saying YES and NO to sustain our health and well-being (kindness toward ourselves). We will set ourselves up to be prepared for, rather than overwhelmed by, the daily stresses and demands of our lives.

In the coming weeks, I will be releasing a series of podcasts, this time with Jennifer Bodenham, a team development coach, in which we explore why we need boundaries, what they are and one specific exercise to help you learn how 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 with a little education and lots of commitment towards peaceful relating with all our relations (that means ourselves too). I invite you to listen in. Consider this a sampling of what you will gain from attending The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living on February 24-25th, 2017.

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: Just Like Me!

sitting in cirleNurturing compassion, connection, and empathy between ourselves and others can be as simple as affirming the phrase ‘just like me’ where we might otherwise judge, criticize or condemn. This compassion practice invites us to put ourselves into another’s shoes by concretely acknowledging our own likeness to our neighbour, to a stranger, to our family member or friend with whom we are in conflict or are triggered to criticize and hate.

I personally use this compassion practice in my work when at times I have no answer for a client experiencing the angst of loss or even, the fear of their potential unrealized. As I listen, I quietly tell myself, ‘just like me’, they feel ashamed that they have found themselves in this conflict, in this depression, in this place of career deficit.

‘Just like me’ calls me to love, to have compassion for the frailties and suffering we experience as humans. Regardless of background, we all are touched by the fires and waters of the human condition. No one here has been rescued from the pains of birth, nor will anyone escape the path of death. ‘Just like me’ calls me to honour the equality of our humanity regardless of race, sex, class, age, etc.

children-1149671_640Today, I received an email from a client asking for guidance for a relationship situation causing them distress. At the core of this relationship stress, lies the client’s fear and life pattern of being unworthy, not good enough, of finding themselves painfully wrong in their mind. When shame strikes us, it usually cuts into our core sense of self-respect. As I read this email, I found myself saying, ‘just like me’, this client is feeling the oppression of the past. ‘Just like me’, this client is feeling the weight of resentment not yet transformed. ‘Just like me’, this client is searching for the freedom to be healthy and happy in their current life.

Honouring our ‘sameness’ in this way, opens space for me to listen and hear what may not be said, what pain may not be expressed and yet is eerily present in its absence. As a response, ‘just like me’ gives me enough space between my thoughts that I can reach into my heart and find the compassion to neutralize the judgements or criticisms that might be beginning to ride my neuro-pathways. This pause also invites me to remind myself of my practice of loving-kindness, to love all of who I am, to welcome the truth of my being to the inner table of Self. When I return to love in me, I return to love for the ‘other’.

When we consider life in a wholistic way, then a spiritual practice becomes multi-purpose, three fields of experience unified as one.

First, ‘Just like me’ becomes a practice that not only evokes the spark of compassion in our shared humanity when life is painful, sorrowful or even where there is anger and hurt.

women-friends-1577910_640Second, ‘just like me’ becomes the practice of seeing the empowered and dignified essence of the other. ‘Just like me’, my client has the powerful potential to become resourceful and capable to transform their inner experience and change their sense of Self. ‘Just like me’, with a little guidance, my client is loving and compassionate, capable of experiencing a more satisfying life. ‘Just like me’, my client’s inner wisdom holds the inner motivation and life-giving permission to generate new habits and choices that best align with what their heart wants most. ‘Just like me’, my client can ask for the support they need to return to the peace and abundance that belongs to our shared humanity.

Finally, ‘just like me’ awakens us to our creativity and collaboration, our light and love to become what neither imagined in the beginning. As clients and I engage in the compassionate way of ‘just like me’ on our shared path of Wisdom’s Way to Peace, wisdom and peace transform both our hearts, trickling out into our families, our workspaces, our environments, or visions for a more peaceful world. We are no longer just night and day. Now we can enjoy the fullness of life as dusk and dawn as well.

‘Just like me’, our shared humanity is best and most joyfully celebrated when we honour that

  • we have all grieved the loss of loved ones
  • we have all been embarrassed to the core about something we did or didn’t do
  • we have all spoken harsh words in our pain
  • we have all wept at the suffering of another
  • we have all acted in anger when experiencing disrespect and our needs and dreams denied.

And paradoxically, when we honour that

  • we all have been born to this Earth
  • we all have a song that lives in our heart waiting to be sung
  • we all have the potential to be vital and empowered human beings with compassionate hearts
  • we all have gifts and talents, some active, some dormant awaiting the opportunity to breathe into them, to nurture them
  • we all have the need to be loved, belong and live the authenticity of our uniqueness and our shared humanity
  • we all have the capacity to be wise and to benefit from our own wisdom.

I’m starting a new journey in hosting podcast conversations with people ‘just like me’ and that means with people ‘just like you’. These podcasts, I hope, will offer a sacred space for us to be present to our hearts and to discover Wisdom’s Way to Peace. Since Wisdom is as diverse and rich as life on this planet with many paths, may our return to One Peace be useful, meaningful, honest and filled with kindness for all life.

Shirley Sept 2015 frontNamaste,

Shirley Lynn

PS. I’ve just uploaded my first podcast in which Shelley Schanzenbacher [Reiki Master/Teacher, Leadership Coach and Circle Mediator] interviews me about how I got to be where I am. I invite you to join in and share the conversation. It’s simply called Getting to Know Shirley Lynn Martin.

An Attitude of Gratitude

(Originally posted October 2013)

Mary's Garden1These beautiful fall days have made it easy to be thankful and grateful for the harvest we are gathering. As I have been collecting the dahlia bulbs and digging potatoes I have been pondering the attitude of gratitude. What does it look like and how would I recognize it? How does one get it or work for it? What does it actually mean? I went to the dictionary as a place to start finding the answers to these questions.

Briefly, gratitude is “a kindly feeling because of a favor received; desire to do a favor in return; thankfulness.” In thinking about what gratitude looks like I soon recognized what it is not. Gratitude is not entitlement which some people, me included, sometimes struggle with. We may say or think things like ‘I deserve more than that’ or ‘how come he/she gets more’ or ‘is this all there is?’ Gratitude is not keeping a running tally of who has given me what and how much do I need to give back so that things are balanced between us. It is not the ‘owed’ feeling I may get when I am given something which I feel I didn’t do enough to earn.

Gratitude is “a kindly feeling”. A few summers ago, I spent some time in Kenya volunteering in an orphanage and in a school in the slums. I saw and felt this attitude of gratitude that I am trying to describe from the many children who had so little. I saw them going through the food line twice, once to wash their hands with a limited amount of water followed by a squirt of hand sanitizer and back again to get their plate of food with no pushing or complaining. Nor did they check to see if they had as much as the person beside them. They smiled as they ate; they received their gift of food and returned the gift with what they had – a big happy smile.Simple Joys Big SmilesDSC00302

I was taken aback with the respect I received from the children as a grandmother, an elder. They didn’t know me and I had done nothing to earn this deep respect which I felt I didn’t deserve. They were giving me a favour, a gift and I was at a loss how to graciously receive it especially with a language barrier. But I did have a desire and opportunities to return their gift. It may have been a smile, a hug, taking their picture with my camera and then letting them see it, playing catch with a ball or washing dishes with them. This was living with an attitude of gratitude, just giving and receiving as we lived life together!

Our host, Mama Rose, was so honored to host us. A few years previously, she had left her abusive husband and was ostracized by her community for doing so. She was grateful for an opportunity to restore her place in her community and hosting guest volunteers helped this process. Mama Rose needed healing and we needed a place to stay. Again, gratitude in action through living life on life’s terms.

Marys Garden4I believe we can cultivate this attitude of gratitude if we nurture our ability to daily be astonished at the beauty that is around us or to notice the acts of kindness that often go unnoticed. We can cultivate gratitude by reading that which helps to nurture and challenge our mind and spirit and maybe also to move us to think of others and not just ourselves. As we remain aware of what the ever-giving Earth gives to us, not because we have earned it or deserve it but because She wants to give, should we not then in gratitude desire to preserve Her with the care She deserves? Thus we contribute to Her ability to provide us with food and astonishing beauty and we in turn again get to enjoy them.

I seem to have come full circle but I wonder, what does an attitude of gratitude look like to you? For me it is Carlie wagging her tail in joyous gratitude to my scratching her ears. It is Rayna’s hearty response to my giving her the bone she so desired! It is in my inner response to the full moon coming up from behind the barn. I will continue to look for gratitude in the rhythms of life and the giving and receiving which is part of it.

Please join me in seeking and living this attitude of gratitude in whatever ways are fitting to your life. Have a gratitude-filled Thanksgiving holiday – we have much to be thankful for…

Submitted by Mary Martin

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: The Self Kindness Response

Recently I had a conversation with someone who understood she needed ‘boundaries’, but struggled with creating the necessary boundaries in her relationships because she believed what she really wanted was connection. Wouldn’t boundaries destroy the connection she was seeking? And anyway, aren’t connection and kindness to others 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 to others and who are very 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.

In today’s blog, I would like to challenge this notion that boundaries exclude a sense of connection by exploring four different core operating beliefs that are commonly played out in our unconscious:

“I’m Not OK, You’re OK”

In this core belief, we enter into 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 a whole lot 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.

“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’.

Entire cultures and peoples have been destroyed in the blind assumption that ‘our way is better than your way’. Consider the disastrous results of the way we have mistreated, abused and fundamentally disregarded First Nations peoples and tribes. We destroyed connection, community and the life-giving spiritual knowing of our country and our Earth 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 personally to ourselves and others when we come with an attitude of I know how to ‘fix’ you.

“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 real 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.

“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 in the other, our connections are real, open, compassionate and trustworthy.

As we simplify the equations to see truly the essence of what matters in the heart of connection, we discover that boundaries are a way to sustain healthy and vital connection in “I’m OK, you’re OK.” For women who have been socialized and imprinted upon to care for others first (”you’re OK, I’m not OK”), 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).

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It’s time for a shift in 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. Recognizing and developing awareness and giving ourselves full and complete permission to have boundaries that sustain kindness and connection with ourselves and others is a first major healing of our hearts and psyche.

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 to learn the ‘how’ of creating your personal, unique boundaries that fuel your body-mind-spirit connection, happiness and joy, join me at my upcoming The Self Kindness Response: Boundaries for Joyful Living workshop on October 28-29th, 2016.

If you wish to continue to nurture the boundaries you are already creating, please join us to support your self-kindness in love and strength. 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 practice. In other words, no matter where you are on this continuum of creating and nurturing boundaries, there is more to do and this workshop will definitely offer the necessary tools to help you.

Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

(ps. Thanks to Rob Voyle and his work with the Appreciative Way in helping me to clarify my own understanding)

The Power of Vulnerability and Presence

I remember almost 25 years ago, sitting in my friend’s apartment crying in Marie’s arms as the waves of old (but now fresh) grief flowed out from my heart. Once again, I stepped through the fear and shame that my grief made me weak and incompetent, un-intelligible and less than. And even while I was openly and unrestrainedly expressing my grief and deep sadness 18 years after my father’s death, I feared that doing so made me even more unacceptable and displeasing. I feared what she was thinking about me, how she might judge me. But slowly, the fear began to dissolve as she uttered some compassionate words: “Of course you miss and grieve your dad. Your grief and tears are beautiful. You must have loved him with all your 10-year-old heart. We all have to tell someone. And you are wonderful.”

A year later, I had a very difficult experience with a friend I confronted on what I experienced as very disrespectful behaviour. That confrontation was met with anger and great displeasure and I was left feeling humiliated, confused and ashamed. Part of me wanted to hide in my apartment, to shut down my heart, to repress all the deeply painful feelings flooding me. But another part of me knew that hiding was the ego story of shame and humiliation. The heart story of humility, vulnerability and self-compassion knew that I had to reach out, be vulnerable and through humility and full presence to the moment, find my centre, reclaim my light and discover the wisdom available.

I called upon another friend who listened compassionately and quietly, who just sat with me as I worked it through. He didn’t try to fix it for me. What he did do was affirm that I’m a wonderful woman in what felt like my weakness and wrongness. What he did affirm was my hurt beneath the shame and that this encounter was not my wrong-doing alone. I felt loved and accepted. In that love and acceptance, my shame scattered and became undone.

I share these two experiences to highlight the power of appropriate, respecting and safe vulnerability. To experience the power of vulnerability, we invoke, even if unconsciously, the virtue of humility and the presence of a higher reality of love.

Humility differs from humiliation in that humility calls us to respect our humanness and divinity simultaneously and equally. As a human being I have limits. These limits are good and life-giving here. Without the use of some sort of flight mechanism, for example, I cannot fly. I cannot live years without food, water, sleep, shelter. As empowered as anyone can be in their imagined potential, we are grounded into the critical point of our actual human potential. In our bodies, we cannot live outside the human experience.

While we humbly acknowledge this truth, we also can and need to acknowledge that we too are spirit within. Spirit and matter meet within, which is the blessed incarnation of our unique existence. Humility calls us to claim both and so when we feel naked in our vulnerability, we equally are invited to claim our inner light and cherished essence.

In acknowledging that I’m both divine and human, I can trust that my vulnerable encounter with my own deeper being will lead to healing, love, and wholeness. The fear that my friends would criticize, shame or reject me was a smokescreen to my deeper ego fear. My deeper fear was that ‘my vulnerability and inner light were wrong’.

However, the power of humility called me into full presence, full vulnerability with my heart. When I humbly open my heart and become vulnerable to “what is, as it is”, as in the moments described above, I become fully present to me, to the other, to my experience as I am rather than my ‘ideal’ of who I am. In that presence, I stepped into the acceptance that I am loved. True vulnerability is pure presence. And pure presence to “what is, as it is” radically transforms us and those equally sharing this moment of presence.

Richard Rohr, a contemporary Franciscan mystic puts it this way: “In being humbly vulnerable, you give a piece of yourself to the other. You see a piece of yourself in the other (usually unconsciously). This allows the other to do the same in return. You do not need or demand anything back from them, because you know that you are both participating in a single, Bigger Gazing and Loving—one that fully satisfies and creates an immense Inner Aliveness. Simply to love is its own reward. You accept being accepted—for no reason and by no criteria whatsoever!”

We often consider those who are vulnerable as beings who are weaker than us, such as children, animals, our ecosystem, women in many countries, and spiritually speaking, the path to the Divine Feminine. However, mystically speaking, being vulnerable as a child or as an animal or our ecosystem is to be without the personal ego’s rationalization, judgements, analysis, ego constructed intellect and shadow defenses. Such vulnerability, mystically speaking, often invokes compassion, delight, joy, open to the wonder and awe and natural rhythms of life without needing to control or dominate the resources that sustain life. Mystically speaking, such vulnerability calls us to be fully present to the moment as it is, without dividing the moment. And such vulnerability is a practice of humbly accepting one’s beautiful place in the ebb and flow of all life. It’s the practice of deep acceptance of who I am as I am, neither greater than nor lesser than any being.

This is the radical nature of true vulnerability and humility. It is the practice of ‘Presence’. Presence shares with us the gift that we are loved, accepted and worthy as we are in this moment. Humbly, we tell our truth to ourselves and to the compassionate other. It’s about sharing our heart story, embracing that somewhere in our pain or shame or weakness, we are light, love and worthy. To the ego, vulnerability must be controlled and dominated. To our hearts, vulnerability or true presence to ‘what fully is as it is’, is a radical blessing of empowerment, truth-telling and healing. And so it is!

Namaste,

Shirley Lynn