Category: 2013

Lumping Creates Bumping: Skipping the Baby Steps Slows our Path to Peace

In our training right now, Carlie and I are working on building our skills at a distance. Recently, I was attempting to teach her a new skill – where she sits and waits while I walk away 20 feet and then give her a ‘down’ signal.

I expected this to be fairly easy since she already knows all the elements. She knows front which means come and sit square in front of me as well as finish which means go around me to my right and finish with a sit on my left side. I called front and started the process, called finish and then asked for a stay. So far so good. But when I proceeded to walk away 20 feet to call the down, Carlie broke the stay (she got up and followed me).

So my trainer came over and asked me what I want to accomplish with Carlie. I told her and she immediately asked me to break it down into smaller chunks and then build it all together. As my trainer keeps reminding me, once you add a new skill to an old skill, it now becomes a whole new behaviour for the dog to learn. Teaching combined skills all at once is called ‘lumping’ and lumping often ends up confusing the dog and you get even less of the behaviours the dog already knows well.

Too much lumping leads to bumping because in this case, Carlie no longer was clear about what I was asking of her and a disconnect was occurring in our training. If she isn’t clear, then how can she successfully learn what I want her to do and to participate with me?

Before you can run, you first need to walk. Before you can walk well and automatically, you need to first learn to stand up and learn balance. There is an order to this process and lumping balance together with walking without first learning to stand up will thwart the overall success of what is desired – the freedom to walk!

Our trainer modelled for me a process and immediately Carlie engaged with her. I then followed where Carlie quickly grasped my intention and we succeeded in our goals quite quickly … so much so that we had time left to play tunnel and Treiball and caveletti (series of small jumps). Whoopee!

In considering this situation with Carlie, as well as observing and listening to people in relationship (as well as my own patterns at times), I realize how much lumping we do in relationships. We lump together a request of 2-3 needs without breaking them down and clearly communicating one specific need at a time. Or perhaps we aren’t clear what our objective is in our relationship and so our boundaries and communication lack clarity, bringing confusion to the core relationship dynamic. Other times, people within the relationship decide to change some core dynamics and they invoke about 3-4 new behaviours that need to be ‘learned or acquired’ all at once.

For example, when people realize they need boundaries to protect their own energy levels and core needs, they frequently think of all the places they need to stop saying ‘no’ to someone. Or they need to stop letting someone else walk over them or call them names. What I invite them to do is pick one area where they are willing to say ‘no’ to someone else’s comments, requests or negative behaviour. Start with one thing and work at that boundary.

Putting too many new boundaries in place without context or rapport with someone else is ‘lumping’. This approach leads to ‘bumping’ – I often hear people report that they give up when too many steps are requested of them or they experience significant push-backs from those they care about.

Baby steps may not look as classy as giant leaps, but they work. Baby steps may not be instant, but they lead to effectiveness and proficiency. Baby steps may not feel inspiring at times, but they lead to solid success. Enough baby steps create momentum and momentum can create quantum movement or shifts. Speed and inner peace come in the success of our baby steps and in the trust that we are respected by those who care about us.

As I learned with Carlie in our training, one needs to get clear about the outcome that you really want in your relationships. Create a clear vision of how you wish to show up in your more meaningful relationships. Then take some time to sit with yourself and see what skills and attitudes you need to develop or deepen to have healthy boundaries and avenues of connection to sustain these meaningful relationships.

If you need support or assistance to enrich or clarify your own strategies for meaningful relationships and healthy boundaries, please consider my upcoming workshop Cultivating a Joyful Life: Balancing Self Care within Relationships (November 1st & 2nd, 9:00am–5:00pm) or individual coaching sessions with me. Call or email me today.


An Attitude of Gratitude

These 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” – which I experienced this summer. 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 have very 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 favor, a gift and I was at a loss how to graciously receive it especially with a language barrier. But I did have a desire to return their gift which I did. 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. Three years ago 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.

I 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 response in 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.

Submitted  by Mary Martin

Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Peace

Recently I was engrossed in a discussion about listening more closely to what our bodies tell us. Everyone had a story of a physical injury that occurred because we didn’t listen when our bodies’ essentially said ‘enough’.

A couple of years ago, I attended a training with Dr. Gabor Maté, author of When the Body Says No, and other worthy books. He identified some key characteristics of the stress-prone personality, including:

  • Difficulty saying No,
  • Automatic and compulsive regard for the needs of others without considering one’s own,
  • Rigid and compulsive identification with duty, role and responsibility rather than with the true self,
  • 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 you assume others expect of you (fear).  – And we wondered why we got sick or injured because we ignored our bodies?

What struck me even more as I  began to examine my own life is how we find it acceptable to lie on a regular basis. We lie to others when we say ‘yes’, but we 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 punish our partner or child or friend because of all the feelings inside we have lied about.

Lies create stress and conflict, both internally and externally. Conflict disrupts our peace and our health. When we lie to ourselves and disregard the messages our bodies send us, we impose 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.

Several hundred people were in attendance, all in the helping profession in one way or another, all trained and paid to be supportive and respond to the needs of others. With a  healthy sense of one’s own true self and a reliable use of healthy boundaries, these professions can bring an enormous sense of satisfaction. However, when we disconnect from our bodies and neglect our own needs, we risk illness and violate our spiritual core. An inner war begins. A keen awareness of this potential reality dawned on us all.

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’. (Please read his book if you wish to understand this statement more completely.)

If you are like me, listening to your body is a daily task I have to remind myself to do.  What does my body need to eat? What kind of exercise does my body need today? What is the decision 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?

Here in Canada we are coming upon the season of Thanksgiving, a time of remembering and celebrating the abundance of what Mother Earth gifts us with her body. So I invite you this week to listen to your body and in gratitude do what it asks of you. What improves in your experience of inner peace?

If you struggle with finding the joy of  the body you have and opt to 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 participating in my upcoming workshop called Cultivating Joyful Living: Balancing Self Care Within Relationships. After two full days, you will leave with a clear understanding about the mind/body/spirit connection – empowering you with helpful skills for your life and relationships.

Still wondering if this workshop is right for you? Call or email me.

Peace & Namaste

Insights from my Dog about Relationships

Six months ago, I welcomed a new dog into my life. Ever since then, we have been working at learning how best to communicate with each other. In part, this is called ‘training’ – where specific words, gestures are given meanings which elicit a specific response / behaviour that is being asked for (ideally of course). Think of sit, come, down, stay as examples.IMG1678
But our communication extends beyond this ‘schooled’ language. In getting to know and understand Rayna, I have had to learn what she is telling me too. Communication across species is not just one-way. What is she conveying when she lays down rather than sits? Or holds her tail in different positions? Or vocalizes in various ways? Learning her ‘language’ is an ongoing challenge for me, but one that I am committed to. Because our relationship is important.
There is much to be learned from and about developing and maintaining any relationship. Each interaction has the potential to strengthen the relationship or it can diminish it. One particular event in our training recently brought this point home to me in a very real way. I was trying to ‘teach’ a new skill like the instructor showed me but I wasn’t getting my timing or position right. In short, I wasn’t able to communicate clearly what I was asking of her. To Rayna’s credit, she kept trying to do it anyway but finally she looked directly into my eyes and clearly communicated: “Why are you doing this? I don’t like it. I don’t understand what you want. You are hurting me.”
This message cut me to the quick – do I listen to her as an equal partner or do I forge on until we learn this skill (because I am the human and I said so)? In the space of a few seconds, I had to weigh learning this skill today vs. honouring our partnership for the long-term.
I chose to stop the exercise and get further instruction another day. We moved on to something else and Rayna happily engaged with me without resentment. In that moment, I believe we reached a new, deeper level of trust and understanding. Both of us realized in a very tangible way that we could connect with each other across the species divide and we would both honour that connection. I vowed there and then always to choose what strengthens our relationship (and may grace abound when I miss the mark).
This not-so-little revelation with Rayna caused me to think about my other relationships. Do I always choose what strengthens them? Do I choose always to relate with genuine care, respect and grace?
This fall, Shirley Lynn will be offering a course that focuses on relationships and how to live well within them. We all know that relationships require give-and-take and that balancing our own needs and desires with those of our partners, peers, family members can be challenging. Look for more details about the Cultivating Joyful Living: Balancing Self Care within Relationships workshop on November 1st & 2nd.

Submitted by Lucy Martin

And the Winner is…

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Peace Day celebration! The best/favourite fall recipes you submitted were all excellent – so good that every single recipe had at least one vote for best dish.

We ended up with two categories: Best Soup and Best Sweet.

In the Soups category, we had Minestrone, Golden Pear, Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili, and Curry Ginger Butternut Squash.

In the Sweets category, we had Pumpkin Pie, Dutch Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Paleo Bread, Granola, Pumpkin Cake, and Carrot Cake.

CONGRATULATONS to Susan Melkert for your wonderful Golden Pear Soup. It will be a nice addition to many of our recipe collections.

Honourable mention goes out to Cathy Heard for sending us the Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili recipe. It was a very close second.

And the overwhelming Sweets winner was the Carrot Cake submitted by Mary Martin. Was it the Cream Cheese icing that tipped the scales?

Thanks again to everyone who participated in our Peace Day event.

* The recipes that many of you were eagerly looking for will be posted on the Feathers, Rainbows & Roses website sometime this week.


Drops in the Ocean of Peace


This soup is Delish!
This soup is Delish!

This past Saturday (September21st) was International Day of Peace. At Feathers, Rainbows & Roses, we celebrated with an Open House. Lucy prepared the 11 different recipes previously entered into our Best/Favourite Fall Recipes contest and we all sampled each dish and tried to pick our favourites.

In addition to the food part of our celebration, Reiki Master students offered Reiki Blessings/Healings of Peace to anyone who wanted this gift. Over the course of the afternoon, we experienced good conversation, joyful community, satisfied bellies and the gift of Infinite Peace.

After the event, Lucy counted the votes for the recipes (she will share the results), but interestingly, each dish got at least one vote for best/favourite. We commented on how different each person’s palate is – which is why restaurants have such an array of items on their menus. It made me reflect upon the necessity for developing and learning skills in tolerating, appreciating and building diversity.

Whether it is with food, with life experiences, hobbies, talents, dreams, goals, values, sexual orientation, ethnic backgrounds, ecological systems, embracing and living harmoniously with diversity is a necessary seed for Peace. There are and will always be many paths to the Sacred. Being open to what other spiritual traditions can teach, to their rituals and world views, often helps us to better understand and appreciate the value of our own tradition and its core truths.

Just like our diverse palates and appetites, we are like drops in the Ocean who can create powerful communities of Peace as we acknowledge that we are all part of this one big Ocean. We can be nothing else but one Ocean, even though we remain unique and created to live in dignity. For this reason, cultivating compassion is also a necessary seed for Peace.

As we Reiki Masters contemplated upon our collective intention for the recipients of Reiki Blessings/Healings of Peace at our Open House – as well as for the world at large – we discussed these themes of oneness, diversity, drops in the Ocean, dignity, community.

The Intention of Peace

In case you missed the open house and would still like to feel the blessing of Peace in your life, I invite you to take the following blessing with you into your week and notice the subtle movements of where your heart feels calm, relaxed and perhaps open to a new potential of inner change of heart somewhere in your life or being. Join with us and be open to discover your own path to inner peace…

As we celebrate International Peace Day and as we offer Reiki Peace Blessings to all who attend and seek out Peace:

May we be pure channels of Reiki peace and healing;

May everyone and every being feel supported to find that sweet spot where as we each experience our own inner peace, we also trust that we as a community are opening a space for others in the world to know their own inner peace;

May the pure drops of Reiki peace come together with all the other drops of Reiki peace around the world and be felt and experienced within the heart and being of the recipients awakening their true claim to dignity, freedom and equality with all our relations;

May we all discover a patience and love in allowing people to follow their own paths. May we be free from judgement and criticism so we can grow and succeed at our best pace toward our greatest vision where

Peace is.

May this Reiki Peace Blessing awaken self compassion and loving-kindness of self so that we can bring compassion and loving-kindness to others as we join them in the ocean of Peace

May everyone who seeks and receives this Reiki Peace Blessing radiate a knowing and commitment that a compassionate community is a peaceful community – one of understanding and tolerance – so let this community light shine!


Peace and the Opportunity of Conflict

Last week I was walking Carlie and our dear friend Roxie in an open field, under the cathedral bright, blue sky. The temperature was perfect and the sun beautifully warm. They would run and sniff separately and then jointly, often returning to me for pets, treats and loving affirmations of our beautiful friendship. We paused under the shade of a tree and let the moment of our love for each other sink in. I looked down and saw a 4-leaf clover and thought, ‘wow, this is the first one I’ve found in my whole life’.

I was so deeply grateful for the moment and for the deeply satisfying feeling we were sharing, me and the two dogs. I reflected on how Roxie had jumped into the car to greet Carlie, wriggling her body in joyful cheer about our anticipated walk together. We got up and starting walking to the next favourite place on this walk, our little watering hole, a good place to dip the feet in when it’s hot. To an outside observer, this looks like a wonderful moment, but of course they don’t know the whole story.

Not every dog likes puppies, and Roxie is one of those dogs. Puppies are unpredictable and they don’t know the rules, making them unsafe and a nuisance. Roxie and Carlie learned to fear each other and on numerous occasions fought with each other – in large part because of misinterpreted communication and a lack of trust with each other. Having them in the same space (ie during family events) required vigilant human management to avoid conflict.

Our family wants our dogs to be part of our gatherings and yet here was this major conflict – between the dogs. And as often can be the case, the conflict has the potential to spread, creating conflicts between the families of the different dogs (please feel free to place children, co-workers, neighbours as substitutes here).

One thing I know is that dogs need space to heal conflict – and lots of it. Walking together is a good way, a common moving forward. So I made a commitment to walk Carlie and Roxie together every week. The beginning was not easy. I did not let them off-leash at the same time. I did not let them play together as they hadn’t learned to trust the parameters of each other’s play. The walks required a constant vigilance on my part to watch and be aware of even the slightest signs of stress and arousal. We went to open fields and bushes, places of good energy where enough space was available to both in their walking and exploring. I didn’t let them stare at each other, barely even glance at each other. Our single task was to walk together.

On each drive to Roxie’s house, I would create a mental picture of walking harmoniously. I sent Reiki healing light to the conflict and our relationship with each other. I prayed for the seemingly unimaginable to manifest – a friendship with each other.

Wind, rain, snow, heat and everything in between, I went. Every Sunday morning for over a year I walked these dogs, two dogs I love. Sometimes I had company join me in walking them, but most often I went alone. I knew they both wanted something different, but had no idea how to get there on their own. They needed guidance, solid leadership and a profound commitment from me. I also asked the same from them – out loud every week. I would repeat my intention to both of them as we began walking and asked if they were aligned with it for a greater purpose of family harmony.

These walks were work. They required my full presence and my full commitment. As the months passed, the tension loosened. The walks became more relaxed. We still walk together every week and we still repeat our intention together. I still send Reiki to the situation, constantly asking Reiki to also help me be a better leader as we heal the past and create new bonds for the future.

So on this lovely day last week, I smiled and I smiled deeply. I was deeply grateful for what I was witnessing and was a part of. I was sharing in the gentle behaviours from two dogs who have created a bond of friendship with each other.

Experiencing peace takes mindful and intentional work because we have to face the conflicts that destroy our relationships and our sense of trust. Returning to peace requires enormous vision and a constant commitment to the vision. If I would have only gone on the walks when I felt like it or allowed myself excuses to stay home on those dreary and more challenging days, I would have missed out on what we now have together. And I never would have found that 4-leaf clover because I wouldn’t have been there with them to see it.

As you move forward this fall, what vision of peace do you want to return to in your life? Get specific in just one area or in one relationship in your life. What conflict is in the way? What do you need to acknowledge about this conflict? Who will help you on this path to healing and restored harmony?

Please join me in celebration of International Peace Day this Saturday (September 21st) and receive a Reiki peace blessing for yourself and your community. Let’s set our intent and take action together. Namaste.

The Path to Peace … Riddled with Conflict

As summer winds down and the fall equinox ascends, we are met with a privileged opportunity – to celebrate International Day of Peace on September 21st. If you have never read the Declaration of Human Rights, a United Nations document that serves as the basis for this Global celebration promoting peace, health and prosperity in our world, I encourage you to read it.

Article One makes this bold yet essential declaration: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of [community]. (my edit to the word brotherhood).

In my Peace-Building Conversations course, I ask people to read and reflect on this document in the context of the course.  Just as the students who read it, I remember reading it for the first time and thinking, “It’s all here. The formula for peace is right here and it’s in our global consensus for how we are to live together on this planet.” The Commission got it right and Eleanor Roosevelt was a powerful driving force to make this incredible document accepted into the history of our global governance. A definite cause for celebration!

A few years ago, I took a mediation course with the Canadian National Defence in Trenton, ON.  After the course, I shared some of my peace-building and Reiki healing work with some of the instructors. An army captain, who was one of the instructors, said to me, “it seems peace is always there. We maybe just need to return to it. Maybe we don’t have to build it.” For me it was a profound comment and truth. At the same time, our lives and relationships with ourselves and others are filled with such tenets and mindsets of conflict that returning to peace becomes a transformative and often  challenging path.

What strikes me about the power of peace is that it is the energy, the vibration, the true essence of all healing. Healing cannot occur if peace is not present. For me, the path of Reiki Ryoho is a path of peace, a profound path of inner self healing. It is both simple and profound. What makes the Reiki practice magical is that there are moments where such deep peace is experienced and the inner conflict of a relationship or personal habit simply dissolves into a great harmony.

What makes it deeply challenging at times is that this path to peace is really a path to awakening to our own inner truths – to the many faceted tendencies of the personality, to the pain of our own contradictory feelings and ideas, to the undeniable evidence of our own inner demons, or to the inner conflicts between our primal intuitions and our intellect or reason. Discovering our inner truth offers us the potential of freedom and power to live our dreams and be profound agents of change in this world.

Conflict will return on this path to peace because it has a necessary place in the journey of the soul. Our lives are filled with paths that present many choices. As soon as we come to or even create the crossroad of choices, our soul needs to make a decision. And these decisions are rarely permanent. The path is too dynamic for that and our contradictory feelings, ideas and dreams keep re-emerging. But there is hope…

Join me in this conversation about Peace. It is a lifelong conversation which has no end and no one right way. To start, pick a path that helps to promote peace within. Consider what you can do today to take a step towards inner peace. What are the internal conflicts you need to acknowledge aloud to yourself?

One possible path that may be right for you is to learn Reiki Ryoho as a way to inner peace and healing, Join me at my next Reiki Level One training on September 27th, 28th and Oct. 5th, and begin a new journey.

You are also invited to join me and other Reiki practitioners in celebrating International Peace Day on Saturday, September 21st. Drop in for a fall food recipe contest and free Reiki peace blessings. Family, friends and colleagues are all invited.

I encourage you to find your own path to peace. Be courageous. Learn to love yourself and find the light, the peace within.

The Search for Love

I have been told many times and in many ways that one of the keys to happiness is learning to truly love oneself. Fully embracing self love is one of those foundation pieces that allows authentic love to flow, flowing to me and from me in this circle of life. It is this deep commitment to love that lies at the heart of peace for me.

While I know this to be true I have often struggled with how to get to and stay in this place of true self love. I know how to have moments of self care and moments where I become aware that I need to be more kind and forgiving to myself – but total acceptance of who I am and all that is present in my life has been challenging and a work in progress for me.

During last spring’s Peace Circle Series – Opening to Grace: Connection, Acceptance and Wealth of Love – something happened for me that opened me up to a new experience of self love. It was like my spiritual compass was rebooted and I was able to tap into a new power of self acceptance that I had not experienced before. That power came from my experience of deepening and reconnecting my relationship with the Divine Feminine.

As I journeyed through our Circle and experienced the shared stories, wisdom and ceremony I found myself opening in a new way to connect with the Divine. From a young age I always believed the Divine was part of me. While that belief has never left me, as I journeyed through  life I found myself shifting the bearings on my compass to accommodate the stories and beliefs that I was told and were modelled for me. As a child, I was trying to make things fit and trying to fit in with those I loved.

During our Circle, I became aware that while my adult self accepted the fullness of the Divine as masculine and feminine, my child self had never had an experience of the Feminine Face of God. She was buried deep within me but not freely accessible.

In my life all ‘aha’ moments have come from the roots of truth for me. With the truth of this experience in Circle, I transformed my connection to the Divine within. I smile as I know that she is with me now and with her comes a new way and power to truly love myself.

submitted by Karen McCarthy

Shirley Lynn Martin and Karen McCarthy are again facilitating a 4-Part Series called Opening to Grace: Connection, Acceptance and Wealth of Love starting Tuesday, September 10th. To see what it is about, visit Opening to Grace: Connection, Acceptance and Wealth of Love.

Path to Self Love: The Magic of Circle

One of the most frequent desires I hear expressed is to feel more peaceful, to be more at peace within themselves. The key question they have is ‘how do I get there?’

Before we can ever ‘get to our destination’ we need to know where we are in the moment and what this destination of peace within looks like – or how will we ever know where we are going? When I ask people what being at peace with themselves looks like, they often give me a very small picture. It’s not that this picture isn’t good or valid, it’s often just not clear or big enough to be a motivation for them to make the sustained necessary changes and healing to experience this peace within.

For me, peace within feels like a calm lake on a full moon, sitting around a campfire, telling great stories and just being in oneness with my environment and the people around me, in oneness with the flow and rhythm of life. What inner peace looks like for me is the yearnings of my heart being realized in whatever divine order and graceful balance supports the greater good. This is very tough for me as I struggle with patience and trust at times to know that the tides will turn. They have to … it’s the divine order and balance of things.

A pathway to inner peace requires the task of learning to love oneself. Indeed, love is the bridge to peace. This love cannot be superficial or conditional in the ways we have often learned. For me, this kind of self love is really about nurturing a compassionate love towards all of who I am. I have ego, shadow, heart. I am spirit, soul, light and body (because I’m totally incarnated as human).

The Dalai Lama (2000) said: For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare…. Caring for others requires caring for oneself.

This past spring, my colleague Karen and I facilitated a Peace Circle series focusing on the Grace that awakens true self love. We found our journey taking us deep within to the place where the wound of self compassion originated. I say it this way because when we are unable to express self compassion as children, we learn the habits of suffering and turn our self compassion into anger or shame. We feel violated somewhere deep in our soul by the neglects we experienced as a child or we feel the unworthiness as a result of the love that couldn’t be shared or was withheld. And in the culture we may have been shaped by, even the Divine Presence and Power that we were indoctrinated with was exclusive and horrendously narrow, at least for me anyway.

In the gift of this Circle, of stories shared and with ceremony to bless us, I found a new spaciousness within. A spaciousness where love and compassion could finally be anchored in the power of the Divine Feminine balanced with the power of the Divine Masculine. It is the creative magic and mystery of sharing story and the true self blessed within the guidelines and confidences of Circle that something new and amazing can be birthed and transformed. Out of this experience, an increasing spacious solidness of myself nurtured by a true state of self compassion has come to life. For that, I am grateful to the ancient wisdom and practice of Peace Circle and also to the beautiful participants who joined us for the Opening to Grace that personally touched each of us.

As you step into September and focus on the last quarter of this year, what goals of self development and life purpose do you need to give energy, time and focus to more intentionally? What commitment to loving yourself, to all of who you are, are you ready to invest in this fall with real action and supported outcomes?

To take the next step in your path to inner peace, begin to love yourself. Join any one of my fall offerings or working with me individually and invest in your journey to inner peace. I delight in this dream of peace in our world … a dream that starts with each of us!