Category: Spring 2015

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: Tell Your Heart Story

We cannot wish old feelings away nor do spiritual exercises for overcoming them until we have woven a healing story that transforms our previous life’s experience and gives meaning to whatever pain we have endured.”  Joan Borysenko, PhD

I need to tell my story’, the story I haven’t told anyone yet.” I have spoken these words as have many of my clients over the years. And this week, we have heard again the power of telling our real soul stories in the unveiling of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations with regards to Canada’s shameful past of the ‘cultural genocide’ of First Nations peoples in residential schools.

Telling the painful story that has derailed us, that has taken our breath away, that has stolen pieces of our soul light is very hard to do. We need to feel safe – deeply safe. The vulnerability we have to surrender into can feel daunting as we face these dark moments of our past and the way this story may be continuing to unravel the joy and worthiness of our present. Somewhere inside of us, as ancient as the first people on the planet, is the need to tell stories that transform us, that invite us to act beyond who we are in the moment. This story of the heart is often emotion-laden, gripping and intense when filled with pain, loss and/or abuse and desecration of human dignity.

These stories of the heart require courage to tell, as we collectively learned this week, the shame we have hidden in our hearts about who we think we are in the story comes to light and is heard. People now see us in that most raw moment. We have to surrender control of outcome as the storyteller because we do not know who we will become in sharing our story nor what potential we will awaken to in our future until after we share our heart-story. The masks and sugar-coated story must drop away for the actual experience that needs voice from deep within.

But for a story to hold transformative power, there needs to be a compassionate listener. The listener must equally open their heart and with non-judgement and compassion listen with heart to the heart of another. Again, as we collectively witnessed this week, some stories are not easy to listen to because we become changed by these powerful stories. And we should be! Our hearts are opened, softened, made more compassionate. We both become awakened to a greater potential spiritually and for the future.

I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post sharing her experience 30 days after the death of her husband. Raw. Intense. Honest. Painful. As she stated, it is hard at times for people to know what to say when someone we love dies so suddenly. We often feel awkward, confused, anxious because we are unclear how to attend to the painful, grievous story our neighbour is living.

These are the moments that as listener we need to soften our hearts, to fill our hearts with compassion and invite Spirit, Universal Love, Higher Power (your metaphor for Divine Essence) to join and transform us beyond who we know ourselves to be in this moment. In doing so, we discover we are not alone and unworthy. Both the listener and the storyteller find release and a kind of relaxation as the hormones in the body begin to shift from stress ones to bonding ones. We find we are connected to others and are worthy of their love and care. Burdens and suffering are lightened. We begin to realize our separateness is an illusion. We begin to create a story of meaning, purpose and connection. We become members of the Circle of Life. That’s healing!

Although I have many ways to listen and respond to a story, my intent is to acknowledge, validate and bear compassionate witness to the experience with whom I am in Circle. When I listen, no matter if it is just me and someone else, I cannot imagine doing so outside of the ancient practice of Circle. For in Circle, love flows. The structure of Oneness is inherent in Circle. We are each equidistant to the centre of Circle, the place of purpose and the light and warmth of the fire. It’s an ancient wisdom that seems embedded in the best ways of speaking from our hearts.

I do not seek to change their story. That is pointless and dishonouring. What I support doing is holding space for the storyteller to remember and discover more of their power and love in, for, and with themselves, and in relation to their lives, their purpose, and their surroundings. I invite them to tell their stories in a way that keeps them constantly open to different pieces and hidden dynamics of their power within it.

And as I listen and they tell, they begin to discover a way to act beyond the imprisonment of the shame or guilt of who they perceive themselves to be in their story. It is in the deep listening and telling the story from heart that I have found people finally remember their own true spark, their own divine nature and can once again ground into their essential self.

Getting back on track after the rug has been pulled out or because the past has come back once again to say ‘deal with me’, ‘hear me’, often requires true heart courage and vulnerability to tell your story, unapologetically, truthfully, unmasked. Such moments transform. And when you tell it, share it with someone with compassionate presence, who bears witness to you in the moment, the path to your future opens up again with new light and potential. Telling your story into a bottle, or whining into the night does not transform. Such behaviours only further isolate and dishonour the real experience your heart needs to give expression to in the space of real connection and compassion.

There are many layers and dimensions to heart stories – personal, familial, communal, national, religious, cultural, ethic and more. An African proverb states that you cannot heal what you conceal. Free yourself today. Find a space and ask someone whom you respect and trust to listen. Be courageous and take off the masks and tell your story. Let the light, warmth and love in. It will transform who you have the potential to become and help you get back on the journey of your life … the one you know in your dreams!


Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Peace: The Journey of Getting Life Back on Track

Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”     Wayne Dyer

There have been several times in my life when I have been utterly derailed. And undoubtedly, so have you. Sometimes there are life events and the way things unfold, whether good or bad, that weave a profound and metamorphic imprint upon our soul.

We may have hoped for the best. We may have intended the best and we even prayed for the best. Despite all our good intentions and habits, despite all our visions and dreams, there are times that what comes to pass takes our feet out from under us – or profoundly derails us. These moments are so disorienting that it can sometimes take months to re-group, find our feet and get back on our life’s path.

151And when these moments happen, our path is never quite the same. The vision we once had has now changed colour and texture. The destination we thought was our heart’s desire quietly shifts. Our world is different. And no matter how hard we may try or intend for the old path to return, it doesn’t. It can’t. To return here would disempower our heart in some way.

Indeed, in these moments healing needs to happen and as much as I know about the healing process (while acknowledging there is a dynamic mystery to the journey of soul healing), it nevertheless takes incredible courage to be attentive, present and compassionate with one’s own affective process. Feelings of anger, grief, sadness, and emotional pain may seem endless and immense, and powerful enough to finally wipe us off the planet.

Regardless of how much we know about something in our rational cerebral cortex, healing doesn’t happen here. Healing happens in the limbic (middle) and lower part of the brain, in the heart and in the body-limbic connection. We are not spared this affective healing process, regardless of how ‘together’ we appear, or how many retreats we have gone to, or what we have worked through in previous upsets. In this moment, that does not matter. In this moment, we need to decide again to heal, to face the affective experience, the emotional fallout of this life impact. The wisdom of the past assists us in the courage and strength and faith to face this moment, but we can’t skip over it.

One of the most difficult parts to this healing process is telling our truth, being honest about our actual experience of what has derailed us or taken out our feet. We are so accustomed to telling the story others prefer to hear, or which aligns with the spirituality of the day or of past ‘doctrines’, or cultural mental wellness trends that are ‘in vogue’ – we fail to be with the actual experience and to speak the actual words we need to speak.

066And so our healing becomes a surface healing. It doesn’t touch the ‘soul of the derailment‘. It doesn’t speak to the grief of the dream that is in the fire to be re-born in a new way. A dream you barely recognize because you now have to recognize it with new eyes. This path of healing and re-orientation is not easy. It requires great courage and affective strength. It requires compassion and forgiveness. And lots of faith!

No matter what you do or who you are – a corporate executive, a leader of others, a highly sought-after professional in your field, a parent seeking to do the best they can, etc. – we are not exempt from life, from the issues of our times, personally or globally. Perhaps our roles and responsibilities in life make it difficult to find a safe, confidential and fully respecting place to heal, but our souls still call us to heal.

Such honest acknowledging does not mean that you are not ‘staying positive’ or that you lack the capacity to re-build your life. It doesn’t mean you are un-spiritual to fully acknowledge the truth of your grieving heart, your lost soul, your vision desecrated. What it means is that in this moment of honesty and self-compassion, the Universe, The Sacred Mystery, The Great Wisdom, etc, can meet your soul and through Its Love and Power and Light, re-vitalize your heart and inner self to a new orientation, a new path with new destinations. The essence of your soul’s vision is given new life.

To move forward in life means we need to heal. In the words of Socrates, if we don’t first heal the soul, we cannot heal the body. Healing must include the whole. If our healing is symptomatic and ‘of the part’, we will find ourselves becoming stuck once again, depleted, circling around the same emotion, drinking from the depression of our anger or fear.

Acknowledge what has happened. Heed to the beckoning of your soul and heal. When you choose to truly heal, your path takes on a whole new dimension of vision and peace and health that becomes a joy to live and contribute to the well-being and healing of the whole.


Shirley Lynn

Wisdom’s Way to Peace with our Mothers

Mother’s Day. Perhaps you (like me) will be having a long-distance conversation with your mother. Some of you may be sharing a moment with your mother’s spirit through memory or prayer. Others of you will be experiencing the losses, griefs or loneliness of what you longed for and never got. We praise and honour mothers on Mother’s Day, for without mothers, life would not exist (we need fathers too, but they have their own day!).

Some of you may be rejecting your mother’s teachings about life or religion or about who you have the potential to be. Others of you rely on her faith in you to accomplish your best in life and relationships. Whatever kind of relationship you have with your mother, it can never be dismissed as insignificant.

Whether you are left with scars or an abundance of cherished memories, her life has left its large and irrevocable imprint. For those who have been deeply wounded by their mothers, there may be ways in which the charge and effect can be dissipated and lessened over time, but the scar will likely remain in some form or another, dormant or active. Indeed, there are mothers who loved you, but never had the tools, the skills, the support or perhaps the sense of self to mother in the ways you needed. That she loved you doesn’t make up for trauma impact for her neglect and abandonment.

Many of you also are connected to Nature, to Earth as our Mother. Currently, we are witnessing the effects and impact of our abuse of our Mother. It’s profound, this abuse, and it is spreading to Her children en masse. Many of us ignore the extent of the abuse. Some of us do desire to care for her and to honour her pain and anger, so she can begin to heal … and to restore the abundant vitality She has to nurture and care for us.

And yet, we struggle to know what we can do. We feel overwhelmed. We believe it won’t make a difference. Or we are too afraid to give up our sense of ‘security’ to right the imbalance of reciprocity necessary for sustainable life for all of us in relationship with Mother Earth.

And then there is the Divine Mother, the Goddess that gave birth to the Universe. Lao Tzu speaks to this in the Tao Te-Ching:

The Tao is called the Great Mother:

empty yet inexhaustible,

it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.

You can use it any way you want.

Tao Te-Ching 6

There was something formless and perfect

before the universe was born.

It is serene. Empty.

Solitary. Unchanging.

Infinite. Eternally present.

It is the mother of the universe.

For lack of a better name,

I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,

inside and outside, and returns

to the origin of all things.…

Tao Te Ching 25

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This Divine Mother frequently has been buried, repressed and tortured in our religious and spiritual stories, imagery and philosophy or theological understandings. She has often been honoured and appropriately revered by indigenous peoples, but less so in our hierarchical, patriarchal and colonialist ways of being in relationship with ourselves, with Nature, Her creatures, Her diversity, and with what is Sacred.

Through the profound state of our planet and the majority of her inhabitants, we are in a position, on a precipice, a critical threshold of ignoring our Mother, or denying Her existence or abusing Her natural balance and abundance for all OR returning to Her and seeing the Divine Mother in ourselves. She lives within us. She moves within us. She is always present within us.

We may have disconnected from Her. We may feel like She abandoned us or neglected us. We may feel anger and profound sadness that we have never had the knowing, the stories, the ways of even getting to know Her.

I believe it is time to return to the Divine Mother. The journey back may involve many unexpected sorrows, anger, experiences of despair and hopelessness, but we must return. She is our life. She is our heartbeat. The choice, it seems, is whether we return with courage, trust and a willing heart to have her lead and guide us anew. We have been told a story of survival, power and success for so long, we barely know how to hear the Great Mother’s voice … the One who gave birth to the Universe.

We may need to go into the darkness for a time to hear Her. Not the darkness of imbalance and mental illness, but the darkness of ‘nothingness/emptiness’ – of expectation, of control and outcome, of ego identity, of linear answers and determined progressions of the ego’s future. We will need to go into the darkness to find our true essence, our inner light and meet our Mother who loves, comforts and sustains us. (Tao Te-Ching, 34)

Every Mother’s Day we are invited to celebrate the love and life our mothers have given us. No matter how adequately (or not) she may have done this for you, remember that she too lives in you. She is in your memories, in your cells and neurons. She exists in the very constitution of who you are! For your health, your life and your most meaningful relationships, and even for your career and sense of purpose and destiny, make peace with your mother. Return to her.

And if you cannot do so because it remains unsafe in some way to do so, return to Mother Earth and return to the Great Mother who gave your great-grandmother life, who gave your grandmother life, who gave your mother life, who gave you life, who perhaps gave your daughter life, and so on. And when you return to the Great Mother, express your gratitude for Her eternal and unconditional, unchanging love, comfort and sustenance in your every breath, choice and action.

Breathe in the words of Lao Tzu:

In the beginning was the Tao.

All things issue from it;

all things return to it.

To find the origin,

trace back the manifestations.

When you recognize the children

and find the mother,

you will be free of sorrow.

If you close your mind in judgements

and traffic with desires,

your heart will be troubled.

If you keep your mind from judging

and aren’t led by the senses,

your heart will find peace.

Seeing into darkness is clarity.

Knowing how to yield is strength.

Use your own light

and return to the source of light.

This is called practicing eternity.

Tao Te Ching 52

If you need to find peace and love in your relationship with your mother and be free of sorrow, contact me. But for today, celebrate the love and power of Mother, in whatever Mother you can be with in your heart.


Shirley Lynn

Peace and the Drama of Relationships

Not long ago, a colleague shared with me a situation in which ‘a lot of drama’ was playing out in a business relationship. She was wondering how she could gracefully and peacefully ‘exit’ this situation.

This reminded me of what my mediation instructors used to say … that even really good, kind and the best of people can and do get caught up in conflict or in a drama they don’t know how to get out of. They don’t know how it ‘got to this point’ and they feel embarrassed to seek help of any kind.

In my practice, people frequently share how a particular relationship triggers them in ways that they don’t understand and they find themselves reacting to the other person’s comments or engage in behaviour they themselves find ‘icky’ and intolerable.

To think that ‘that will never be me’ is a mistake. Getting caught in the drama of relationship dynamics happens to all of us. Without realizing it, we have sent that email with words we can’t take back, or we have said something that we simply can’t pretend wasn’t said. Or we find ourselves playing out the drama because we don’t know what else to do. We may not have the boundaries or tools to step out of the drama and stop it (yet) – I believe we use the word ‘drama’ because we don’t really know what is going on.

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

So what can we do when drama shows up?

BREATHE. And breathe again. Breathe into your kidneys (practise doing this when you are not stressed, so it can be a reflex-like response in a necessary moment). This will begin to calm your heart rate and regulate your stress flight instinct so you can think more resourcefully.

SLOW DOWN THE CONVERSATION! As I mentioned, ‘drama’ is fast and mindless. So slow down the conversation. Put in breaks such as a 24-hour delay in responding to emails or simply say in a conversation, “I will need 24 hours to think about what you just said and get back to you.” Or, “let me go outside and put my feet on the ground and get centred, so I can show up here feeling good about how I am doing that.”

ANSWER THIS QUESTION: What is the boundary of respect that is needed here? When we become reactive and step into a drama dynamic, our sense of shame (sense of inadequacy, failure or not being good enough or worthy) often becomes fuelled. When shame is present, respect is absent. Be present to your feelings, including shame. Perhaps tap on specific points if you know how to do that (ie. EFT, TFT, Midline Therapy, or some other way to bring down the emotional arousal level). Shame feels ‘icky’ and we fear being ‘exposed’ when shame takes over. It’s often the best time to ask for help from a trusted other, because it’s precisely the time when our subconscious will try to convince, and our ‘shame voice’ threaten, us that if we ask for help we will be exposed and even less acceptable than before.

EVALUATE YOUR OWN TRIGGER. What does this dynamic awaken in you which feeds your shadow relationship pattern? Even if you assess you have contributed only 5% to the drama, you have contributed that much and so that is the part that remains your responsibility. Often our own core wound, such as we feel our incompetence or lack of worth has been exposed somehow. Learn to detach from this trigger and know its patterns so you can catch it early when it becomes activated. Have someone help you develop more responsive relationship patterns, especially in conflict.

CHANGE YOUR POSITION. Whenever we are relating to someone or something, we are in a certain position to them/it … often without our awareness. For example, perhaps we have repeatedly put someone else on a pedestal or supported that person beyond what may be healthy for us. If you pay close attention to the structure of this dynamic, it means that you have given permission for the other to be oriented in a way they can look down on you or you are ‘underneath’ that person in an attempt to be supportive to the point of your own deterioration. In noticing the structure of this interaction, you can choose to stand up for yourself, which encourages a different set of responses behaviourally and verbally. Perhaps you are always putting yourself behind the other person and you need to come into equal -side by side- position and drop the victim narrative. ( I will be sharing more about this in the near future).

IDENTIFY WHAT YOU REALLY NEED AND VALUE. Clarify what you really want to happen and what the relationship means to you. Perhaps you need to exit the relationship because it is draining your energy. Perhaps you each need to clarify what values and core needs are being disrespected so it becomes clear what you need or want to have happen instead of the ‘drama’. Don’t shortchange this step. Take the time to deeply listen to what you need and then the other person. When people come back to the same issue again and again, even ‘after it’s been discussed’, it signifies that a core need or value is still not validated and people are still not feeling listened to, nor respected. David Ausberger says that deep listening is really an experience of true love. I agree. Establish boundaries that reflect your core values and true needs so that your relationships have improved patterns of connection rather than ‘drama’.

These are just a few ways to address ‘relationship drama’ when it shows up. I challenge you to pay attention to our theme of ‘peaceful relating’ and see what other insights and techniques you can gather. For this next week, write down what relationships are ‘drama-driven’ for you and see if you can identify where the lack of respect is playing out and notice your position (above, under, ‘in the right’, ‘out in left field’, behind, ahead) in this drama.

In upcoming blogs, we will continue to explore how you orient yourself to your world and the ways you communicate and give permission for others to be in relationship with you. Gift yourself with what spring can awaken in your heart to re-kindle meaningful relationships.


Shirley Lynn

Peaceful Relations is for the Birds (too)

submitted by Lucy Martin

Carlie & Rayna at riverThis weekend I enjoyed a leisurely walk to the river with Carlie and Rayna. While the dogs were sniffing and prowling about, I had the pleasure of listening and observing what was going on in this microcosm of the greater river system. I noticed that Canadian geese, Mallards, Golden Eyes, seagulls, and killdeer were all sharing the same small area of the river. And that is just who I could see and identify – who and what else was there in that same space that I couldn’t see?

What struck me was that even with similar needs for resources, there was a peacefulness and respectfulness about it all. Each species of bird was acting in ways specific to its kind, creating alliances and vying for food and mates. All with little fanfare in this particular moment. There was a sense of greater good – the geese were the alarmists of the river, and everyone seemed to heed their warnings.

My attention soon was drawn to a commotion across the water above the still naked trees. A couple seagulls were having a discussion with a bald eagle firmly rooted on its branch. My sense was that the eagle was warning the gulls about territory encroachment. The gulls, seemingly not convinced about the need to move along, called in reinforcements. The discussions continued only slightly louder with more voices; the sole eagle held its space and opinion. And very soon the larger group of gulls calmly left the area under contention. No aggression needed.

I know that life along the river is not always idyllic but yesterday there were so many repetitions of peaceful relating that it caught my attention. I reflected on how often we too find ourselves in situations with conflicting needs and desires with others in our environment. How do we choose to attend to and resolve those conflicts?

Do we scream and make our demands known and insist on their higher importance? Do we puff our feathers and aggressively challenge anyone who thinks or feels differently? Do we allow others’ needs to be attended to at the expense of our own? Do we find ways to communicate each one’s needs and find equitable ways to address and meet the needs and concerns of each? What drives our conversations – Winning? Not losing? Not making waves? Mutuality? Peace?

It felt like a gift to have these gentle expressions of conflict, peaceful relations, and mutuality along the river yesterday. So often in the social and news medias we are inundated with expressions of violence and conflict, it can be challenging to remember there is a better way. So I encourage you not to lose sight of healthier ways of communicating your own needs and desires – not in isolation from, but in harmony with others in your environment.

Shirley Lynn is a great resource if you need support and guidance in creating more harmonious and peaceful ways of relating, with your self and with others. Call or email today to book an appointment and get back to nature, to Wisdom’s way of peace.

Take time this spring to look for your own signs of peaceful relations in your environment. They are likely more frequent than you have realized before.

Stepping into Peaceful Relating: Challenging Old Paradigms

Awhile back, I received a blog about Paradigms that has stayed with me. Today I want to share my reflections on this topic.

I was struck by the power of paradigms under which we are still controlled even when the old paradigms no longer make sense or cost too much to keep. Yet, these paradigms in our lives remain unexamined, unchallenged and often remain on autopilot without any awareness on our part.

As an example, in the following story, you’ll see that the present criteria for building rails in 2015 is still rooted in the activity of war. It is perhaps an obscure reference for how we shape our reality around ‘warring’ stories of the past, but these warring stories are embedded in our personal and collective unconscious in ways we rarely can imagine.

 – –

Why We Should Often Challenge the “Way It’s Always Been Done”

The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. This is not only an odd number, but it has meant massive re-tooling for the rail manufacturers and substantial wasted raw materials.

So why is that figure used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were laid out by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did the tramway builders use that gauge then? Because those builders used the same jigs and tools they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? If they tried to use any other spacing, the wagons would break on some of the old, long-distance roads. Why? That is the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So why are those ruts at that spacing? Because the first long-distance roads in Europe were built by the Roman army for their legions, and the ruts were first made by the war chariots.

Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. This is the distance just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.

– –

When we step into intimate relationships, into dreams of our careers, or personal goals of accomplishment to spiritual practices of higher consciousness, these hidden paradigms and patterns of ‘war’ come to light. As we begin to explore these patterns of control, of dominance, of power-over, and their opposites – of identified ‘victimhood’, of voicelessness, of ineffective connecting, we begin to encounter our inner thresholds of choice.

We make choices to become aware and REALLY see what is as it is.

When we see ‘what is as it is’, we can choose to acknowledge it.

In acknowledging this ‘war’, with compassion, we open ourselves for transformation of a better potential.

We awaken to the dawning of a new possible reality which we now need to act upon.

Breathe into and breathe in this new reality. Ground into it. Find the posture of this new reality. Open to the ideas of this new reality.

As it starts to live in our body, we will be guided to know what to do, differently.

Breathe; Be; Listen. The dance will start to move you in a new way.

Open to Love. Open to Light. Let go of the war chariots and horses. Be here, now, in the moment … that is, here in 2015!

Then respond to what is now, here, in front of you, with the knowledge and skills, and gracious unfolding of Spirit who moved us into this place and space and opportunity of consciousness!


Shirley Lynn