Category: Winter 2019/20

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.

Namaste,
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!
OR
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