Category: Blog

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: Falling in Love with the Living Earth

This beautiful, bounteous, life-giving planet we call Earth has given birth to each one of us, and each one of us carries the Earth within every cell of our body.

Thich Nhat Hahn

eagle-527392_640For the last several springs, my sister and I walk down along the river with our dogs, watching the nesting, the lives and growth of a pair of bald eagles and their eaglets. We feel quite honoured and amazed at these incredible creatures who gracefully take flight across the sky. We eagerly await the development of their offspring who eventually learn to fly and to source their own food. The young eventually move on to their own territory and the cycle of life continues.

I am in awe of these eagles who inspire me to remain aligned with my passion and calling to share and facilitate healing with people, whether in individual Soul Coaching, in Peace Circle, or in Reiki Ryoho programs.

What I have witnessed in my own life, as well as in my professional life working with others, is that our healing is deeply rooted in the Earth. The quality of our healing is matched by our qualitative connection with the Earth and all of Nature. Earth is not just our environment. She is our Mother ~ sentient and abundant. She gives us life. The atoms that make up our cells and being are the same ones that create all life. There is a great and incredulous order and harmony to the flow and function of our Earth and how we are to be in respectful stewardship with all our relations.

A few of my Reiki friends spent a couple of years exploring our relationship with Nature where we gave ourselves permission to really notice Her, to delight in Nature, to celebrate and play with Her. We also gave ourselves space to grieve and anger at all that is diseased, killed and maimed, desecrated, raped and violated in Nature. This 2-year healing circle opened us and guided each of us into our own unique way of volunteering, of giving back as awakened stewards and of being in love with our Living Earth. We each found that deep appreciation for Her natural cycles and rhythms, for the boundaries and natural laws that support the balance of all life.

We had to grapple with our own disconnect, with our own disembodied paradigms of cultural success. We were called to remember that we are human beings, living in a resource limited planet. We were called to celebrate our limits on this Earth rather than push beyond them for greed. We also were humbled by all that remains a mystery to us about this elegant and beautiful Earth.

nature-794126_640In a recent workshop I was facilitating, one of the participants is a geneticist who is moving into the specialty of roses. The incredible existence of roses, she explains, is they are are like the bananas we eat, from the point of view of chromosome composition (triploids). Simply stated, odd numbers of chromosomes can’t reproduce, and when something can’t reproduce, there are no seeds. That is why we have seedless bananas. Sterile. What she said is that some roses are triploids as well, but scientists are discovering that unlike bananas, rose pollen can still be fertile. In other words, they don’t follow scientific ‘rules’ of genetics. So now they speak of ‘guidelines’ rather than rules. It’s not ‘a mechanical universe’!

I was delighted to hear about the rose’s capacity to do what we didn’t believe was possible. It made me fall in love with roses and the Earth all over again. And I was reminded that our perceived status as superior to the Earth needs a ‘falling’. We need to fall from our present position as superior to the Mother Earth and into Her. We need to ground, connect and recognize our own constitution as from Her. Though we can be as diverse as Nature and all creatures in it, we need to respect our place in Her.

What this highlights for me is that our language about the Earth needs to change, so that our relationship with the Earth can also change. Our language has been from a position ‘above her’, ‘standing upon her’, ‘having power or dominion over her’. This structure or position of above, over, upon Mother Earth is filled with arrogance, delusion and entitlements. And now after hundreds of years of this kind of structuring of our relationship with Mother Earth, we are experiencing the consequences of our plundering and abuse of Her.

It’s time we collectively step down from our self-made platform of ego superiority and into right relationship with Nature,humbly and gratefully accepting the gift of having limits and boundaries to our existence as humans. It is time we stepped back into the circle of life, take our place in the rim with all our relations, rather than believing we alone are the centre, or are entitled to control the centre of the circle of life.

If we fail to accept our place here as ‘part of, one among, with’, if we fail to ‘fall in love with our Mother Earth’, we deny ourselves healing on any issue we have. We deny ourselves our true heart’s abundance and health. We deny ourselves respect and the flow of Love. And we deny ourselves the gift of being guests here on this planet. By Nature’s power, we will be the ones asked to leave, as any disrespecting, violating, extremist person is tried and judged as unsafe for society.

Earth Day (April 22nd) is coming soon. Mark this day as a time to celebrate. A time to fall in love with Mother Earth. A time to experience the magnificence, elegance and mystery of what gives us life … and love. I also invite you to join me in our next Peace Circle on Wednesday, April 20th and share your stories of Falling in Love with our Living Earth.

Shirley Lynn

A Simple Pause: A Way to Peace

Sometimes when the pull and push of life begins to wear down our resilience, taking a pause to be still is an enormous gift, an enormous act of freedom. In my own Reiki practice, the beauty and simplicity of self healing is the pause into love, into a moment of quiet calm with my hand on my heart. It’s a simple gesture. Yet, in this moment, Reiki brings me back home to my centre, to my heart and to my ground of being.

15 minutes between clients, 10 minutes before my next meeting, or even 5 minutes before I leave for my volunteer work – whatever time I need to return to centre, restore my sense of calm and replenish my joy – is gifted simply by putting my hands on my heart, opening to Reiki and allowing Reiki to ground my energy and balance my energy flow.

In this moment, there is nothing I need to do or is required of me – nothing beyond a moment of surrender and openness. The moment I lay my hands on my heart and open to Reiki, a soul-to-Universal Soul connection and oneness begins. It is extraordinarily simple because I don’t need to shift anything. In the moment of receiving, my breath calms, my heart self-regulates and I return to a state of ‘okayness’. When so much is often demanded of us; when so much is often coming at us; when so much noise is penetrating our inner balance, claiming a moment of pause in Reiki, where the gift of the Sacred blesses us with what we need, to do what we must do, right there in that next moment, is miraculous. No bells. No whistles. No instruments needed. Just my hand over my heart, a ‘yes’ to Reiki and a surrender to the spirit of the Universe who is attuning me to a namaste mind.

Although the quietness of Reiki in the midst of an overwhelming and distressing moment has become my go-to, I know that other times, opening to a guided meditation and surrendering into the journey of the inner heart, restores that sense of connection with like-hearted pilgrims who are also attuning to the sacred path offered in the guided meditation.

I offer this guided meditation as a way to return to your connection to yourself, to Mother Earth and to the Sacred of ALL THAT IS. I invite you into a time of pause. A time where you re-calibrate with your own sacred essence and with the ground of your being. Claim your freedom to connect to your inner heart. Claim your right to breathe fully into your incarnation, the gift of your life.

Blessings of light and love and life to you!


Shirley Lynn


Reiki Level One starting soon…

Want to learn Reiki self healing and meditation? Join me on November 17, 18 and 25th, 2017 to begin your Reiki journey. Give yourself the gift of pause, and an attunement to Peace, Light and Love of the Universe.

The Paradox of Freedom

Freedom is a paradox.

To have freedom of body is to recognize the body’s limits and simultaneously requires building strength, stamina, flexibility and vibrancy within the limits of our body to exercise body freedom. As Anishinaabe teacher, Kathy Abeleson, once said, “you can only be where your feet are” (and to that I add, ‘and where your hands are’).

To have freedom of spirit is to know the restraints of ego. We can only know the beauty of freedom in our spirit when our egos are constrained and restrained in a balanced state, where its authority on any matter is subject to the wisdom of a Higher Power/our spirit/our higher consciousness. To truly have freedom of the spirit, we need to cultivate a spiritual discipline and practise virtues such as compassion, patience, integrity, gentleness, moderation and temperance.

To have freedom of finances, again, we need to practise restraint and balance and awareness of our spending habits, our income/earning potential which needs to include our values, our vision for the future as much as the basic needs of the present moment.

To have freedom of the mind, there is so much we need to release — expectations, shoulds, judgements and resentments, just to name a few. And yet, freedom of the mind requires a willingness and commitment to stay open-minded to differing ideas and agendas, resisting the ego’s need to narrow and close down to protect our status quo and privilege.

To have freedom of the heart requires us to forgive, to release our resentments and hatred. It requires that we let go of our emotional attachments, especially to outcomes even as we channel our passion for what we value most. And freedom of the heart calls us to expand our capacity to love, our empathy towards suffering as well as our inspirations.

Freedom to be an individual is rooted in our interconnectedness to everyone and everything. Everything in Nature is balanced in reciprocal relationship within the ecosystem that surrounds it and everything within it. Freedom to be an individual is both liberated and constrained by the community/ecosystem they are part of and being sustained by within that community/ecosystem.

Freedom of speech is only as free as it gives life to the whole (Charter of Human Rights article 2 comes after article 1, for example). As I posted yesterday, the words you put out there meet the echo chambers of the ecosystems that surround us. We do and will sow what we reap. Nature is created in such a way that we will be held responsible for our words that we put out into the universe. At some point, toxicity implodes, killing itself, a natural occurrence in Nature (ie. cancer). Speech that is truthful and clear, simple and uplifts the whole sustains itself with ongoing life into the next generations.

In other words, freedom is paradoxically balanced by the laws of its ecosystem. Freedom is a powerful experience when we humbly and paradoxically accept that we are part of the whole. We belong to the whole and are in reciprocal relationship to the whole. If I’m ‘free’ but my neighbour is denied their ‘freedom’, then some part of me cannot be fully free because some part of the whole (the ecosystem) I live in remains ‘unfree’/out of balance. And yet, I alone cannot determine and define when my neighbour is free. Both my neighbour and the land they live on and the whole must contribute to what determines their and my freedom.

This is quite the paradox the universe has set up for us. We may have been given the most advanced reason and cognition of the species as a form of intelligence. But we are also the only species to be given ego. And we won’t be completely free of ego except through death. As I recently read, we are free to choose but we are not free from the consequences of our choice. Interesting, isn’t it, this way of freedom?

Just some random thoughts for today…. but certainly not all inclusive. Peace.

©Shirley Lynn Martin

February 2022

Loss, Grief and the Joy That Awaits Us

The year of 2020 has been one for the history books. Every one of us has experienced a gamut of emotions including fear, loss, sadness, despair, hope, gratitude, care, anger, frustration, love, acceptance, longing, grief, compassion, empathy, worry, anxiety, faith and confidence. It was not the best of years. Big changes had to be made and new habits adopted. It is not natural to socially distance for most people. It is not easy to withhold hugs and physical closeness with our family and friends. These are everyday habits that uplift us, support us and make our lives rich and meaningful.

I want to acknowledge our (your) losses this year. Perhaps the loss was from death. Perhaps it was loss of intimacy from an overload of sustained exposure to lockdown and social restrictions. Perhaps it was a loss of employment and financial independence. Perhaps it was loss of travel and social freedoms to go where you wanted. Perhaps it was the loss of your social life or recreational connections. Perhaps it was the loss of seeing/visiting family and friends. Or even the loss of receiving treatments and care in the way you would like or needed it. Children lost ‘normal play’ and natural engagements with other children in many places. These are but a handful of losses we have experienced this year. Some of us have lost intensely and much while others have lost less but feel great empathy for those who lost more.

This time of year offers us, in whatever tradition we may enjoy, a season of hope and light, a season of celebration and ritual, a season of coming together with great efforts towards peace and goodwill, a season of rejoicing and shared generosity with family and the world at large. And so, this season may put our hearts at odd with these two realities, each seeking to be acknowledged and honoured in some way… loss and joy.

Our family’s traditions involved opening presents Christmas eve, celebrating our family time with joy and song and gifting. My father’s last Christmas, my father got a radio. It was 1974 and it was a big deal. He had such a big smile on his face.

Christmas eve, 1975, is a very different memory. Equally short, but without the smiles and laughter. Looking back, I can only imagine what my mother did or would have wanted to do to make this first Christmas without her husband and her children’s father a good one. She bought gifts and followed the traditions of the past that we as a family had created. However, that Christmas eve, I remember my older brother and sister leaving to go snowmobiling with friends shortly after we started opening presents. A brief conversation between my older siblings and my mother occurred, but the choice to get out was made. I could feel the pain in my mother’s heart.

My younger brother and I opened our presents and I remember him not exactly liking what he got. He ‘didn’t really want that’. I heard the pain again in my mother’s and brother’s voices. For my part, I just went quiet, not wanting to ‘be a burden’ and add to the grief and sadness I felt everywhere. There was nothing she could have done to mend the pain in all our hearts. There was no tradition she could have repeated that would have stopped each of us from expressing our grief and loss in the way we each did. No material gift could fix the pain of a father gone. For all of us, in our own way, it was a most difficult Christmas, because we faced a reality that would never be different. My father wasn’t coming back.

In my mother’s wisdom, she recognized this huge loss for us all. She recognized what would never be again. Rather than try to hang onto the past, we began to change our Christmas traditions to reflect the family we were post my father’s death. It took us several years, but as we grew into teenagers, my mother invited us to share in the responsibilities of making Christmas ‘our celebration.’ And we did. I have fond memories of our family Christmases. As the years passed, my mother invited widowers who had lost spouses or those who did not have ‘family’. My siblings and I never objected. We remembered those first Christmases after our father died.

As our family grew, grandchildren arrived, siblings moved, things changed, our tradition continues to evolve. Hope and love continue to flow and bring new meaning and light to our lives. This is some of what I learned in that journey:

  1. Like that first year, we must remember that everyone is hurting during this pandemic in some way because loss has been experienced by us all this year.
  2. We all process our own grief and pain differently. There is no one way.
  3. Learn to release resentments for how others express their loss and pain. Forgive them for the pain that was caused. Nothing good can come out of holding on to your resentments.
  4. Acknowledge those who are facing a significant loss this year and invite them for a walk or bring a tea and join them on the porch. Their hearts are broken.
  5. Play is necessary to maintain mental-emotional wellness. Both the day of my father’s funeral and that first Christmas after, when I was 11 years old, I asked my friends and cousins to go outside and play with me. At the funeral, we ran across the road to the public school and played in the playground. That Christmas, I remember my cousins and us going tobogganing, a Christmas ritual. Play resets and regroups the nervous system and the spirit.
  6. Have genuine hope that with the courage and commitment to take steps forward each day, and in making changes to meet the current needs of the people still here, new life, new joys and the flow of love can be restored and re-created.
  7. The new way may have little resemblance to what once was, and yet where love is real, the new way is built upon the shoulders of what was. The deeper threads of love and connection remain flowing from the past, opening to the mystery and creative dreams still meant to be lived in the future. Embrace the change calling you. More joy awaits.

Whether you celebrate Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, be kind to all you meet. Be gentle with your hearts. Acknowledge that your loss and fatigue is real, and it is real for others too. These losses are re-shaping our lives.

I read there is an extraordinary miracle happening in our celestial skies this season. It seems to me that in our very darkness, a little extra light is given to us. “As 2020 comes to a close, the solar system has decided to grace us with a cosmic Christmas miracle that hasn’t been witnessed [visible] in nearly 800 years. On Dec. 21st (aka the Winter Solstice), Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely in the night sky that they’ll almost appear to collide from our vantage point here on Earth, creating a radiant point of light often referred to as the “Star of Bethlehem” or the “Christmas Star.”

I hope that light and beauty will return—in a new way. And embrace the change that this year is asking of you. You never know where the new road will take you. Joys await us all. Peace.


Shirley Lynn

The Grand River, All Nations Grand River Water Walk – and Five Lessons Learned

I have the honour of helping to organize and participate in the All Nations Grand River Water Walk from its inception to our upcoming walk in September 2020. A great many gifts have come to me in being of service to the water, specifically to the Grand River – gifts that have become life lessons. I would like to reflect on five transformative lessons that I use both personally and in my soul coaching & whole life therapies work with clients.

From the beginning of our gatherings, *Mary Anne Caibaiosai taught us the protocols for the water walk ceremony. As I absorbed these teachings, I began to see my own blindness. When we really open our heart-mind to these teachings, something new awakens within because the teachings, like the Grand River, are alive.

* Mary Anne Caibaiosai. is her English name. She is bear clan Anishnaabe kwe from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory, Manitoulin Island. She has received and follows traditional teachings passed from her Elders from her territory and from the Midewewin lodge.

1. Water is life. It is alive.

Of course it is. Intellectually I know our bodies are at least 70% water and without water, we will die. But this knowledge was limited to my brain, and not yet fully alive and awake in my heart. In carrying the pail of Grand River water on that first walk, something awakened in me. She is my life. I need water, the Grand River, to be healthy and happy. Her water is the water in me. If she is sick, so will I be sick. If she is contaminated, so will I be—not only my body’s ‘water’, but my thoughts too will be contaminated, as body and mind are connected.

2. Water flows forward. It doesn’t stop and look back.

Of course. I know this. But do I? My worries and fears ‘paralyze’ my body’s water flow inside me rather than allow the natural and organic flow forward. I can feel the slowing down and freezing in my fear. When I restore mindfulness and notice the way of water, its natural activity, I see the Grand River simply flow forward, not stopping in fear, reminding me to let flow.

The Grand River never changes who she is. She is always a flowing river. Her destination is always clear to her and she never waivers from her destination. And though she winds and loops around, admiring herself and her environment, her overall destination is clear and continuous over centuries.

During the water walk, women carry the pail of water. We never stop while carrying the pail. Once we begin touchup in the wee hours of the morning, we walk until touchdown. Water flows. She doesn’t stop. It is the true nature of the Grand River to flow. Even when we dump toxins in her, she flows.

In one moment in 2018, I was carrying the pail of water. I was deep in song and looking forward. Someone drove by and called my name. I was momentarily brought out of my inner state of prayerfulness and in this surprised moment, turned to respond. Before I could turn, the Anishnaabe man carrying the eagle staff, put his hand on my shoulder and firmly said, “Keep looking forward. Walk.” I was so grateful for his guiding hand to remind me of the protocols and to focus on the task of walking forward, of allowing the water to go in the direction she flows, unimpeded by my momentary distraction. After handing off the pail, the person who had called my name also apologized for causing the distraction and then said, “it all got sorted out”. Yes, that’s right, let what’s behind sort itself out if I am not responsible to sort it out. Keep moving forward, staying focused on the task.

3. You never need to reach your destination alone.

The Grand River starts as a collective of small springs and begins to flow, not yet being a big river. I was surprised to learn that it begins rather like a creek. The watershed along the Grand River is rich and diverse and abundant. The Eramosa, Speed, Conestogo and Nith Rivers all join and merge with the Grand River. At each confluence, the Grand River grows in size and strength. At the mouth of the Grand River into Lake Erie, she is a river to be reckoned with. Indeed, she is big enough to sustain a port (which she did for a time).

I realized then, if my projects arise from the ground of my being, not to worry how small me and my project may look at the beginning. Just start flowing with what I have. Let what needs to, arise. Come together with the small arisings of like-hearted others and start flowing. Trust that those who wish to join the flow, the movement of my project, will come along. There will be confluences that grow my project organically, especially if it brings life to the community. Just like this water walk is doing for our community. The Anishnaabe water walk ceremony contributes to the healing and spirit health of the Grand River, the infrastructure and life of our community.

4. Let go of fear. Water will always find a way.

This lesson is linked to the lesson that water, by nature, flows. Along the route of the water walk, we carry the water through busy centres, streets and high traffic areas. To honour water, the Grand River, we must allow her to be who she is. When we pick up the pail, we cannot stop walking and wait for traffic to stop for example. In such a moment, we must remember to walk in circles and pool as water does, while never going backward.

During rush hour traffic when people are focused on getting to work, not thinking about their relationship to water, navigating the flow of the pail forward can be very challenging. These moments call all walkers to become fully present to the moment, always looking and aware of the opening to the way forward. But as Josephine Mandamin taught us, “water will always find a way” to flow. She is a river. When we block her from flowing, she will simply create new routes that allow her to flow. It is her truth to flow.

Now, when I encounter a problem, I think to myself, ‘become like water and flow.’ Where is the way forward? Where is the opening so I can be who I am meant to be and do what is mine to do? Let go of my emotional attachment to my fear or my restricted thinking. Let go and flow like the Grand River does. As soon as I return to this state, the opening to the flow arises, and I can see my way forward and I move.

5. The Grand River is my Elder. She is my relative.

I have known this concept for a long time. Walking beside her and participating in water ceremony every two months has restored my heart connection to her. She now knows me by name. And I remember her as my Elder. She holds great wisdom as she remembers what we have done to her, done for her and with her. Water has memory. The Grand River has memory. I want my relationship with her to be harmonious, to be kind, healthy and just. When I die, I want her to remember me with love and fondness as I do her. She and the Conestogo River watched me grow up. She has given me life for 50 years. I drink from her watershed. I play in her. I sing to her. I offer her prayers. I offer her Reiki healing. I pray that my relationship with her is healing for both our spirits.

She flows between the Six Nations on the Grand and settler communities. She links us. She gives life to us all. And I hear her say it is time we honour the Haldimand Treaty and the Haudenosaunee and First Nations land titles. She loves us equally and is the Elder to us all. She grieves and feels the deep sadness of the grave injustices to the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe and Attawandaron (Neutral) peoples, being denied their treaties. You may wonder how a River grieves, but she does. As I said, she has memory. She is my Elder and the only response to her is love and respect. And when I do remember her as Elder and relative, who sustains life, I will protect her. Such clarity of relationship brings clarity to my lifestyle choices, values and decisions.

These are but five lessons which have transformed my way of being. The Grand River has given many experiences and provided rich learning that I now carry as wisdom. I am grateful to the Grand River for my life, for wisdom gained and for her beauty that opens me to love. And when I live these lessons, this wisdom gained, Love flows. Like ee cummings’s poem, to the Grand River I can whisper:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

If you are seeking a new way of being amidst these times that call for new adaptations and flows and balances of your body, mind and spirit, contact me to discuss how we can work together to support this new flow and balance, personal and unique to you.

Shirley Lynn

This Year will be Different…

I planted a seed intention this past Solstice and gave it to the Great Mother, the Mother of all Life so that new life will be born. I honoured this intention with beautiful and simple ceremony to re-orient myself toward the new and rising light.

On Christmas Eve, I listened to the carol O Holy Night, and allowed myself the openness to receive this new light again. Yes, again. To become vulnerable and open to the mystery that together darkness and light birth into new life, imbued with the soul’s intentions towards the creativity and becoming/maturing love.

And on Christmas Day, I reflected upon and re-read the stories of how Christmas came to be, the values of love, charity, generosity and of valuing all beings with true support and compassion. That on this day, as we ourselves practise this generosity of spirit and compassion, accepting the vulnerability and awe of this new life we have said ‘yes’ to once again, we extend to ourselves the gift of grace and kindness, of good will and blessing as well as to others.

However we choose to bring ritual and ceremony to our lives, the power of opening up to and allowing the presence of the Great Mystery into our ordinary experience, a miracle awaits us. Sometimes It is difficult for us to return to this place of life’s miracles. Amid the world’s violence, the images of brutality towards each other and towards Nature that assaults our spirits daily make it extraordinarily challenging to become vulnerable like a child again.

In truth, we aren’t asked to become naive and blind to what we see and know, blind to the suffering all around us. Blind faith drives out compassion and generosity of spirit. To return to a state of openness and vulnerability as a choice within one’s own place of wisdom is indeed challenging. No wonder we are driven to over-consumption and distraction during this season in just about every way we can imagine.

So how will this year be different? What will be new in this world of the same old injustice, colonialism, violence and bigotry?

For me, it lies in the surrender of my intentions, intentions that call for 3 simple, focused practices:

  1. Release my emotional attachment (…to my pain)
  2. Embrace love in my new life
  3. “Thank you” – a conscious, happy gratitude for everything, everyday.

If I am truly open to the Great Mother who gives light to me and my intentions, if I am truly willing to come back to the dark to be awakened into new life and light through the Great Mother, then I will need to practise daily release and embrace. When I release what is no longer needed, nor in service to my new life, I am free to become the life seeking to live through me here and now.

When I embrace the life and light which seeks to flow and express itself through me in this new arising, this next turning toward the light, literally the sun, then I discover my sense of belonging and purpose in my life. I know my own inner balance because I have the parameters of what to offer in balance with my receiving. And the clarity of what is next is revealed, step by step. This clarity brings a sense of order and thus too, a sense of what is good and honouring of both the past and the future.

Yes, this year will be different because I also have a very simple plan of doing different. Will you join me? Will you make a plan to do different? Do you need help to make the doing different simple enough, focused enough, incremental step by step enough that you are willing, able and ready to do different and invest in yourself differently this year?

Let’s work together to do our lives differently, better. Let’s be the ones who restore light and love in our hearts, joy in our minds and purpose in our feet and hands. As we each commit to return to wholeness, which can only be travelled through stepping into the cracks and the dark, we make it possible for others to discover this path of wholeness just by being in our presence and witnessing who we be together in the cracks welcoming the light.

Whatever intention, commitment or mantra you have planted and made for 2020, join me in doing different to ‘be’ different, spreading what is lightly different in a dark and lost world. Peace to you.

Shirley Lynn

Gently Transforming the Mind: The Power of Self Compassion

Some days it feels really discouraging and difficult to focus on the positive way forward in life when the inner critic is loud, aggressive and harsh in tone and insinuations mimicking what we heard and ‘understood to be true’ as a child. Attempting to counteract the onslaught of negativity by directly engaging the ‘inner critic’ to soften can require more energy than we have in the moment. It’s also a long road and often mixed with feeling demoralized and devalued by one’s inner critic.

Neuroscience research is revealing that it is more effective is to strengthen the voice, the presence and the response of our ‘inner nurturer’. Indeed, nurturing is a face of loving acceptance and an act of self compassion. Ancient sages have long offered teachings of the necessity for compassion to transform our minds and open our hearts. The evidence of Compassion Focused Therapy is discovering that inner nurturing and building a compassionate mind is a powerful antidote to shame.

The soothing system, as Paul Gilbert PhD suggests, is an inner system that supports the slowing down, the rest and digest system. This system helps with emotional regulation and sets us up for safety, kindness and self care. Ironically, this soothing system is often the most underdeveloped in people. When developed alongside the threat and the drive systems, Paul Gilbert suggests we can more readily calm ourselves from angst, restore safeness and connection following a real or perceived threat. We can also find balance when the drive and threat systems are overwhelmed or overused.

So how do we go about cultivating self compassion and developing this inner nurturer that activates, stimulates and feeds the soothing system? How do we build it to be effective when we are deeply stressed, or our world just got turned upside down for some reason? And how do we access it when we are feeling wrong, not good enough or anxious and fearful of our future?

One approach is to learn about compassion, to understand what it is, what its function is and what it isn’t. This learning period can take time because compassion is by nature, a vast field of consciousness which spans the cosmos and is part of our hard-wiring. Actively seeking out spiritual and psychoeducation on the nature and function of compassion can be a lifelong pursuit. Imagine if all members of society would actively engage in this education at this time in history – what a new manner of living we would create!

Compassion involves at least 3 steps:

    1. First, we need to be aware of pain and suffering; that pain and suffering for ourselves or another is indeed occurring.
    2. We need to have empathy for ourselves and others who are suffering. Empathy involves the ability to emotionally understand what another person is experiencing and in compassion, be concerned for the well-being of ourselves and another. This tends to be a social behaviour.
    3. We need to take action to alleviate the pain and suffering from a place of awareness of what really alleviates the pain and suffering.

Self compassion thus requires that we have empathy, to be with ourselves in our pain and suffering. And it also requires us to offer nurturing to ourselves when pain and suffering overwhelm us or negates us. Learning to nurture ourselves creates an inner state where compassion transforms the state of our mind and leads us to better, more effective results in our decisions and in our relationships!

Try this very simple and yet very powerful exercise. Compassion Focused Therapy focuses on supporting people to create their ‘perfect nurturer’. For me, I prefer to call my inner nurturer, the ‘nurturer extraordinaire’.

Take a moment and list all the qualities this ‘nurturer extraordinaire’ would need for you to feel completely safe, open and trusting with this being. Psychologist, Deborah Lee, suggests that any ‘perfect nurturer’ has at least these basic qualities. Take these and build from here.

“A perfect nurturer is one who embodies the qualities of wisdom, strength, warmth and unconditional acceptance. Your perfect nurturer is your creation, your own personal ideal. They themselves have experienced great struggles and truly understand your suffering. They come from a place of great courage and wisdom. This being is completely committed to your welfare, to helping you cope with difficulties, and to taking joy in your happiness. The perfect nurturer has great wisdom and strength of mind that is not overwhelmed by your pain or distress. Your perfect nurturer sees when you are in pain and responds with warmth and unconditional kindness. They understand your struggles and accept you exactly as you are, never judging or criticizing.”

As you build this ideal, is there anyone who comes and fills that role and essence, real or imagined? This ideal may be a composite of several people or fictional characters embodying key qualities of the ‘nurturer extraordinaire.’

Find a safe place and take a moment and relax. Breathe gently.

Invite this real or imagined being to come and sit with you as a ‘nurturer extraordinaire’, in their compassion for your true well-being. Just sit with them and notice what happens.

Of course, this is just a starting place, but learning to have compassion for yourself and offering yourself this nurturer extraordinaire in any moment is good medicine. In both my personal and professional practices, this compassion practice can be a powerful antidote to the shame, loneliness and suffering that can blacken the mind and dampen the light in our hearts.

Blessed be.

If you want to go deeper into cultivating self compassion, come join me in a NEW on-line circle and soul coaching program starting in winter of 2020. Stay tuned for more information!
Come and learn Reiki Ryoho (Komyo Reiki Do/Gendai Ho). Self Reiki practice is a daily experience of self nurturing extraordinaire, flowing Universal Love, Light and Compassion.

In Peace,
Shirley Lynn

A Reiki Story: The Old Woman and Me One Night

I wanted to sleep so badly, but some part of my inner essence sought wakeful and conscious connection with the wisdom of the ‘old woman of love and harmony’. The old woman wanted to speak with me as my soul did with her – but I had been too busy. The details of life were equally calling to be accomplished. Deadlines and more deadlines.

I didn’t really recognize the ‘old woman of love and harmony’. She came in the night and in the darkness. She came in the hours at the same time when the ancestors gathered to speak with those who listened. I lay there, eyes open. Darkness around me. “Look deeper,” the old woman of love and harmony said. “Your truth lies in the heart.”

Obvious, I thought. Everyone knows this. I told myself I’m already living my truth. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I had to go deep into the part of me I most sought to put behind me and avoid.

She (this part of me) came to me in the middle of the night, the old woman explained, so that I could more clearly see this part of me I denied. Her light could shine on this part with great contrast, so I could see the inner face of this part I denied. “Why? Why do I have to see this part of me?” I asked the old woman. “There can be no good in going back to retrieve this essence of me. There is no one who sees value in this part of me.”

“But you must,” she said with the purest of love and harmony flowing from her eyes and extending from her hands. Her hands touched my mind and my heart together. It was such a transforming touch, so gentle and loving. My body breathed deeply in relief and freedom. “You must see the value of this part of you,” she repeated with an ancient sense of knowing.

But it’s just a part of me, I thought. How could it be that important. No one had ever truly validated this part of me before. No one cared for this talent from me before. Why do I need to go back and claim this part of me? And why in the middle of the night? Why not come in the day when I am already awake and can be more alert to problem-solve?

“It will not cost you anything to go and speak with this part of you,” the old woman of love and harmony said, as though reading my mind. “Of course, it may cost you your sleep tomorrow night, if you do not attend to the part that is seeking your love at this hour.”

Begrudgingly, I decided to speak with the part who I deemed was being both a nuisance and withholding the truth from me. My truth. The truth that I thought would let me finally be fulfilled and happy.

“What do you want?” I asked.


“Speak kindly to her” the old woman gently prodded me.

I realized I would need to speak in the manner the old woman was speaking with me. I tried again. “What do you really want that you awaken me in the middle of the night?” I asked with all the kindness I could access within me.

“Love,” this part said. I sensed a deep yearning amid a deep and old sadness.

“Love?” I inquired. “Like you want me to have someone love you that isn’t loving you right now?”

“Yes,” this part answered. “I want you to love me.”

I breathed in and noticed my breath. I breathed out and noticed my breath. I could feel the emerging resistance to know this part and to listen for what she really wanted. I wanted to object. I wanted to create stories, rational and believable stories about why her request for be loved by me was unattainable and unworthy of my attention and effort. Does this part of me not understand how daring and discomforting her want for ‘love’ is?

And yet the divide, the lack of love and harmony, the lack of unity in the diversity of our wanting had worn me ragged. Too many nights awake. Too many nights visited by the old woman and her light. Too many moments of frustration and despair because I couldn’t manifest the life I was supposed to be living in my mind.

Unbeknownst to me, another part of me was listening to our conversation. She quietly and kindly interjected, “maybe there is another life you need to be living. Maybe the vision in your mind is no longer the vision of your soul. And if this is so, then how can you know this vision if you do not have love for this part of you, regardless of your past with each other? You must value this part of you which you have habitually denied. It’s the only way through this chronic inner conflict that wears on your mind and energy and power.”

My heart softened. I recognized my resistance, my objections and even my fear that wanted to barricade the softening. It’s an old and familiar part of me, a default state of defensiveness. A meta state of protecting my ‘rightness.’ But with the presence of the old woman of love and harmony, my heart softened. I knew I would be safe to love.

“You have my love,” I gently whispered to the part of me seeking my love. “Breathe with me,” I told her. “Just breathe with me and breathe in the state of love”. Though I had learned this phrase many years ago, I couldn’t imagine speaking it softly to this part of me in the middle of the night. But here, in the darkness of the new moon, I suddenly experienced the value, the true and beautiful value of this part of me I for so long had denied and despaired of in my mind.

The old woman joined me. We started breathing love. “Breathe in my love,” I repeated to this part of me. She must have done so because suddenly my inner world lit up. It was as though the whole room lit up. I looked out the window to see the night’s light, but I was reminded it was a new moon. It was completely dark out. The light came from somewhere within. So radiant. So warm. So filled with love.

And so I asked this part of me, “Now that my love is available to you, pure love is accessible to you – as you only need to breathe it in with me – what do you want that is even deeper and more important?”

I paused.

“Heaven on earth” this part of me said. I stumbled around to find a thought. I was stunned. “Heaven on earth” she repeated calmly and firmly.

And there was silence. No words. No thoughts. Some images of Nature restored, of children laughing and playing, of people swimming in the rivers, of animals plentiful and unafraid, of ceremony and feast celebrated. A moment of bliss entered my inner world.

The ‘other’ within me, the irreconcilable diversity of the ‘other’ had come into love and harmony with me. A unity prevailed in this inner state of heaven on earth that seemed beyond understanding. I knew the old woman had something to do with this moment. She had gifted me some kind of healing, a magic I couldn’t quite grasp. The old woman of love and harmony winked, pulled the covers back up around my neck and I fell asleep. In love and harmony, I fell asleep.

Shirley Lynn Martin, from the “Reiki Stories of Healing” series

Why Learn to Forgive?

“Forgiveness means giving up hope for a better past.”

Lily Tomlin

The past. Wow, what a trip we can take with the past. There are pleasant trips down memory lane which fuel our joy and remind us of who we are, where we have come from, and the roots that nourish us through life. The past is the link to our ancestors who remain with us, offering support and guidance and showing us where love can flow anew.

There also are trips down memory lane which fuel our resentment and invite us to “tame the ghosts in my head, that run wild and wish me dead”, as Mumford and Sons sing in Lovers Eyes. These trips down memory lane darken our minds and entrench us in the mental-emotional judgements and punishments that destroy relationships, first with ourselves but also with others, even those who we love most.

Recently, I was reminded of the vast difference between the story in my head about someone I loved and the actual, lived connection that was expressed in a wonderfully, ordinary visit. The difference between these two realities was clear for me that night. It was a distinct fork in the road. I could walk in the path of resentment and an unforgiving heart, or let go of my emotional attachments to ‘the hurts of the past’. I chose the latter – I needed to walk forward freely. I chose to release the resentment limiting me from fully experiencing the gifts and flowing love possible in the here and now, and into my future.

The past is done. Ruminating on the past again and again will never change what happened. As my mentor once said to me, “I can wish today that the ice storm didn’t happen two days earlier making my flight delayed, delaying me…I can wish and wish, stomp my feet and demand it didn’t happen. But it did.” What happened in the past is like the weather that happened. It’s done.

Yet, most of us walk in our present life, unconscious of the past that we are in bondage to, bound by decisions and resentments that limit our perspective and choices available to us here and now.

Learning to forgive is about releasing our resentments about what happened in the past … to be free to be, to live in the here and now.

There are definitely gems, wisdom and insights to be gained from the past. We need to understand what happened then so that we can make different and better choices that reflect our values of today. Bringing forward the strategies of success from the past and applying them here and now may also be incredibly useful, if these strategies are still relevant. However, in the path of deep transformation (that forgiveness opens us up to experiencing), many of these strategies need to be evolved.

As I read and observe, weep and grieve for all the hatred spewed across the globe in heightened and carelessly aggressive ways, it tells me how deeply we carry the past in our consciousness, ‘ghosts in our heads that wish us dead’. Forgiving ourselves, our ancestors, others around us, our enemies is no longer something we’ll get to some day (when I’m less busy, when the kids are gone, when I’m not working full time … ). That some day is here and now. The cost of all this poison is making us so sick, making the planet so sick that we cannot justify bringing it forward into our future with us.

The ego argues, “Oh, but don’t take away the resentment that protects me and is my shield so I don’t experience such hurt and trauma again. I really need that to keep me safe.”

I have found nothing joyful and light-filled about resentment. There is nothing free that comes with resentment. Resentment has a deep cost to the soul. It costs you your happiness. It costs you your health. It costs you connection and love. These inner states are the fundamental desires and needs of the human condition. When we give up these fundamental desires and needs in order to ‘cherish our resentment as our safety valve’, we actually destroy our inner sense of security, of belonging in the world in our very unique place. Resentment destroys us at the root of who we are. And I believe this is why spiritual leaders from any tradition call upon us to forgive.

Steve Jobs died a billionaire, with a fortune of $7 billion, at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer, and here are some of his last words… “In other eyes, my life is the essence of success, but aside from work, I have a little joy. And in the end, wealth is just a fact of life to which I am accustomed.” … “At this moment, lying on the bed, sick and remembering all my life, I realize that all my recognition and wealth that I have is meaningless in the face of imminent death. You can hire someone to drive a car for you, make money for you – but you can not rent someone to carry the disease for you. One can find material things, but there is one thing that can not be found when it is lost – “LIFE”.

If you want your life back, then learn to forgive. If you want your health back, learn to forgive. If you want to be free from your loneliness because you ran away from all your connections, then learn to forgive. Forgiving will bring you your life, because forgiving is the essence of loving another.

Let me repeat this ancient wisdom … forgiving another is the essence of loving them. And this goes for yourself as well. Forgiving yourself is the essence of loving yourself.

Let’s Forgive, so together we can …

Free up our energy
Free up our creativity
Free up our love and joy

and make this world and planet a better place, where Spirit can abundantly flow once again.

Shirley Lynn

upcoming workshops this fall

The Art and Practice of Forgiving – Discover the Freedom to Live
Saturday, September 14 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm

This one-day workshop is for anyone who wants to learn an effective and simple method to let go of the resentments that bind us to our past hurts and block us from our joy. We also will examine what interferes with forgiving and how forgiving is distinct from grieving a loss or healing a trauma.

Compassion and the Art of Self Forgiveness
Saturday, November 30 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm

This one-day workshop is a follow up to the Art & Practice of Forgiving Workshop This time, we will explore how shame and guilt are often confused in the self forgiving process and how we can resolve this confusion and move on with our lives.

Reiki Training (Level 1)

Friday & Saturday, October 4 & 5th & Saturday, October 19th @ 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Begin your path to self-healing and spiritual development with Reiki. Awaken to its power and mystery. Deepen your journey by joining an active community of supportive and like-minded fellow seekers and Reiki practitioners.

Ethical and Legal Considerations for the Reiki Practitioner

Saturdays September 28th and October 26th, 2019 @ 9:00am – 1:00pm (both days)

Pre-requisites: Reiki Ryoho Level II
This 8 hour workshop is for Reiki practitioners who wish to have those uncommon discussions about the ethics and legal considerations when providing a professional Reiki healing service. For those of you who also offer other modalities, this will still have relevance. *with special presenter, Jennifer Godwin

Peace Matters: Why Do the Inner Work?

Peace matters. This affirmation and ethic holds deep meaning for me. It pulls me toward my life’s work, my life’s joy and my life’s commitment (purpose). One might even say it is my destiny. The simplicity and clarity of this affirmation and ethic is deeply woven in my heart’s consciousness, serving as a guiding force for me.

When I liken this affirmation to the flow of water, I can easily distinguish when I am aligned and in the flow of my true nature – or when I am stuck in the mud or an overgrown algae swamp, as reflected in the mental struggling and uninspired thinking circling in my mind.

Over the years, I have contemplated the word peace and what value and meaning it has for me. It certainly has evolved, more from an experiential understanding than in any conceptual framework. Through my Reiki meditation and inner path of self-knowing (we call this okuden in Reiki), through my professional study and training, through my life experiences of successes and heartbreaks, and through my grassroots involvement in the All Nations Grand River Water Walk over the past two years (and more to come), my understanding of peace matters has become as valuable to me as breathing.

Now, when I use the word peace, I can embrace an inner stillness, a serenity of heart-mind (kokoro as it is known in Reiki meditation), and a joy of contentment in the persistent meaning of my life. My understanding of peace embraces a sense of confidence in the prosperity of Spirit’s abundance and how it flows in and out of my life, connecting a golden thread to the larger wholeness in the Universe. I can even embrace a deeper patience (this has been a big learning!) in the gentle confluences of many flows that take time to appear for a real movement of change to take effect. And I understand the health of deep relaxation and the relaxation that restores health – which is why peace, deep inner relaxation of body, mind and spirit, is the ultimate healer (also a Reiki teaching).

Perhaps the greatest understanding I have become enlightened to is that peace requires my inner work. The Fourth Precept is Reiki calls us daily to work diligently, to work on ourselves, to do what is ours to do. Not ‘try’ to do. But ‘do’ what is ours to do. Not other’s inner business. Our inner business.

For me, there are three core disciplines to experiencing this inner peace, and necessary for living peace matters (other disciplines exist, but these have arisen as core for me). These tasks have a simplicity to them, yet it has taken me decades to understand them, to embrace them and to begin to live them.

  1. Open to love—let love in. Let love flow (like water). This openness to love is the big ‘YES’ to life, to Source itself and all the Infinite Goodness that flows. The easiest path to open to love is the practice of genuine gratitude for me, a gratitude felt and experienced in the heart. Not just something I think about. The latter is a concept. The former is an embodiment of a vibration and feeling that changes emotional states and perspectives of reality.
  2. Release my emotional attachments to what steals my inner peace (really, my health and inner contentment/happiness). A major task here is the work of forgiving, of releasing emotional attachments to the resentments that keep me out of love and trapped in the darkness of the past. Releasing purifies our body, mind and spirit. Releasing emotional attachments creates boundaries around us/our energetic essence and what is healthy and imbued with radiance and vitality.
  3. Be kind. Have compassion. This practice of kindness requires great moral courage and inner empowerment. Choosing to respond in kindness when someone is behaving rudely, or in a passive-aggressive manner, or even with a racist insult, requires deep inner presence, moral fortitude, creativity and compassion. Having compassion keeps our feet on the ground and our hearts seeing the equality in another, even when the other’s wounds, hurts and anger, expressed violently and with hatred, are the cause of significant pain and injustice.

Kindness is more expedient to the path of inner peace than is the rumination of anger and fear. So is opening to love and releasing emotional attachments to what no longer serves or is functional. Kindness serves as a graceful existence. Peace matters is a path, a way of being that “I don’t want to take because the work to experience it requires ‘giving up too much’,” says the ego.

And as the last living Nuremburg prosecutor of WWII, Benjamin Ferencz, who witnessed and prosecuted the atrocities of Nazi genocide, says: “Well, if it’s naive to want peace instead of war, let ’em make sure they say I’m naive. Because I want peace instead of war. If they tell me they want war instead of peace, I don’t say they’re naive, I say they’re stupid. Stupid to an incredible degree to send young people out to kill other young people they don’t even know, who never did anybody any harm, never harmed them. That is the current system. I am naive? That’s insane.”

When I keep peace matters in front of me, and I practice these three disciplines, I experience the peace the spiritual masters speak of, although sometimes only briefly. It’s an evolution toward maturity and one, I suspect, which will take me the rest of my life to master any of these disciplines to their potential. Peace matters is NOT a passive way of being. It requires the active engagement of heart and mindfulness to what really matters in the present moment. It is a higher order of human interacting and living in harmony and respect with all our relations. ALL OUR RELATIONS. Peace matters is deeply transformative. And it becomes the healing and joyful work of a lifetime.

I hope you notice that my workshops, trainings and individual sessions all arise and come home to peace matters and the disciplines that support us to live peace, within and with others.

This fall, I will be offering The Art and Practice of Forgiving – Discover the Freedom to Live, Reiki Ryoho Levels One and Two, Compassion and the Art of Self Forgiveness and other Reiki Ryoho courses. I invite you to join me in fleshing out and learning the simple truths and practices of restoring the inner serenity and calm you seek.

Let this summer be a balm for your soul and let your soul awaken to peace matters.

Shirley Lynn