Tag: sense of belonging

Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

Listen Up!

Recently Jennifer Bodenham,  a team development coach, and I sat down to create a 3-part podcast series about Boundaries. Throughout these podcasts, we explore why we need boundaries, what they are and even share a concrete exercise that will help you can get started towards living a life that is more kind and joyful.

The wonder and value of self-kindness, health and maintaining connection with others, even when it starts to get difficult are mutually possible. The second podcast In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living – Part Two is now available. And in case you missed the first one, In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living, listen to it first to catch the flow of our conversation. The final podcast will be available next week.

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

Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

Recently I was involved in a conversation in which we found ourselves sharing what we had learned about listening more closely to the cues our bodies were telling us. We each had a story of a physical injury that occurred because we didn’t listen to our bodies when it essentially said ‘enough.’ …Sigh…

It compelled me to reflect back to a workshop with Dr. Gabor Maté, author of When the Body Says No,  where he identified key characteristics of the stress-prone personality including:

  1. Difficulty saying No;
  2. Automatic and compulsive regard for the needs of others without considering one’s own;
  3. Rigid and compulsive identification with duty, role, and responsibility rather than with the true self;
  4. Habitual suppression or repression of healthy anger and assertion.

As I read this list, a couple of things stand out for me. This list is about lies we tell ourselves and about compulsive behaviours to please others or to live within the status quo we assume others expect of us.  –And we wondered why we got sick or injured when we ignored our bodies’ cues?

What struck me even more as I began to examine my own life is how we find it acceptable to lie with casual regularity. We lie to others when we say yes to them, but we really want to say no. We lie to ourselves saying we aren’t worthy enough and so we push onward when our bodies need to relax. We lie about our real needs and who we really are, compulsively rushing to the needs (and perhaps drama) of others (or our own). We lie about feeling angry at the boundaries that have been trespassed and then stay silent and perhaps punishing our partner or child or friend because of all the feelings we have lied about inside.

Lies create stress and conflict, both internal and external. Conflict disrupts our peace and our health. When we lie to ourselves and disregard the messages our bodies send us, we inflict a hidden emotional stress on ourselves and our bodies.

Just as good relationships with others keep us healthy and can heal us, good relationships with our bodies keep us healthy and can heal us. Good relationships require healthy boundaries that support our sense of true self and protect us against what drains our essential vitality. Healthy boundaries are like a good immune system—protects against what takes life and sustains our essence so we can participate in our purpose and what is truly life-giving.

We are hard-wired to need closeness, to need connection and belonging with others. We are equally hard-wired to need to express ourselves, to know who we are and then to be seen and respected. In other words, we are hard-wired to be authentic. When these two needs are in conflict or when they are incongruent over time, we are at war with ourselves. This war leads to illness. As Dr. Maté writes, “illness is not random”.

If you are like me, listening to your body is a daily task I have to remind myself to do. What is it my body needs to eat? What kind of exercise does my body need today? What decision do I need to make in my work that is congruent with my life purpose so I can stay healthy? What anger must I be honest about and what must I speak up about in my intimate relationships to increase my own sense of inner peace?

If you struggle with finding the joy of the body you have and so you ignore it even more. If you find yourself suppressing your own needs to look after other’s needs making you depressed, injured or always living in chaos, consider my upcoming two-day workshop on February 24-25th, 2017 – Self Kindness Response: Healthy Boundaries for Joyful Living!

The following comment by a workshop participant last fall really speaks to the substance and richness of this workshop. Please consider it for yourself too!

Just taking the boundaries workshop was an act of kindness towards myself. I learned to tune into my body to get a sense of what is a healthy boundary for me. Instead of going into my head, I feel how my body feels about something. There’s no arguing with the body! Even if there is another way to assess a situation and respond, it doesn’t matter because my body is telling me MY truth, MY healthy boundary in that situation, and that’s all that counts. I love the sense of certainty this has given me because I know my body is trustworthy. I have gained a stronger sense of myself and a feeling of being on solid ground. It was also helpful to work with a partner afterwards to keep working on what we’d learned at the workshop. Such a beautiful workshop space, too!  T.H.

Peace & Namaste,
Shirley Lynn

Celebrating One Year Later…

As I was doing sorting and clearing work, I came across this blog from last November 24th, exactly one year ago. It struck me that it is still applicable so I thought I would share it again!

What Can Be Better Than This? The Path of Releasing

As many of you know, I have recently moved from the office that I’ve been in for the past 7 years. It was a good space and afforded me and my clients some really good things and powerful moments. I enjoyed the park across the road where Carlie and I could go for a walk at lunch or eat our lunch in the park, lounging under a shade tree to re-group and ground before the afternoon revealed itself. So when I got the letter of termination of my lease, I had an initial breath of ‘oh my goodness’ – followed by an affirming prayer that something better will come in its place. During the month of October, I often questioned ‘what can be better than this’?

As I searched for a new office, I realized I needed to practise the path of releasing. Although I truly and deeply enjoyed where I was, I had to let it go to experience something more. Sometimes life calls us to release what we love in order to experience more of what we love. It’s a strange paradox which reminds us that the Universe is an abundant expression of Love, Joy and Peace, but to stay in the flow of these gifts, we need to let go of what we love to remain in the flow of Divine Love and Peace.

This paradox opens us to both the grief and the joy of what life unfolds. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, grief is a fundamental or core emotion in the cycle of life. We will never escape it. However, we can develop good skills in allowing grief to ‘pass through us’, rather than getting stuck in its hold of our hearts. Once I acknowledged my grief in moving from my old, comfortable and familiar office, I could more joyfully move forward, trusting that somehow something better would continue to manifest in the potential of my vision.

What Can Be Better Than This? This question came to me from a good friend and I have often asked it when faced with these kinds of moments in my life or when I am seeking new potential to unfold and I am asking for change.

As this year begins to wane and the winter solstice rises in our consciousness, I invite you to reflect on what you need to release. Is there something you totally enjoy and perhaps even love, but need to let go so you can move toward what fits your greater potential. It’s not always about releasing what you don’t want anymore; rather it’s releasing what no longer serves. Sometimes we may not recognize that something no longer serves us because we still are enjoying it.

731What Can Be Better Than This? After much consideration and shopping around in the limited time I had, I chose a new office space in downtown Elmira. This new office space in the Elmira Wellness Centre (the old Clock Tower building) holds a most lovely and inviting feel.

One year later I can say that the move was a fantastic one and I’m totally enjoying this new space. It keeps getting better and amazing things happen with clients here. Together, clients and I have been creating awareness and resolution using ALL the space this larger office provides! By stepping out, I did indeed find what can be better than this.

As we have been contemplating belonging this fall, this remains a great question for 2015: What can be better than this? As I strive for more peaceful relationships in my life, what sense of belonging and connection can I create or accept which is better than this?

If you are ready to contemplate and work with these questions in the presence of sacred witnessing, I invite you to set up an appointment with me. Let’s sort out what needs to be released from your life and courageously seek for what is better for you now and into the new year.

In honour of my first anniversary in the Elmira Wellness Centre, I am offering an incentive to get you started. Meet with me before December 23rd 2014 and receive a 15% discount on your next appointment in January 2015.

Concerned about the winter weather? Ask me about long-distance energy therapy and phone sessions as alternatives to in-office visits. What is better than this?


Shirley Lynn

The Gift of Community: A Place to Belong

Recently I attended a funeral of someone with close connections to our family. His life came to an end after several years of treatments, followed by months of steadily declining health and eventually his last days in a hospice surrounded by family, friends and supportive staff.

During the eulogy, one daughter shared how their father in his later years had changed from a physically and emotionally reserved man to one who gave “the best bear hugs”. It awed and inspired me to hear how this family had used their time so wisely following the initial diagnosis to resolve and heal many old hurts and misunderstandings. They attained a deeper level of connection and acceptance and intentionally created more loving interactions with each other.

What particularly touched me at this funeral service was the strong sense of belonging to a community. I was among a large gathering of people who all cared deeply for this man’s family. As the family walked into the sanctuary I could feel our powerful communal embrace enveloping them. Clearly, this community was united in supporting each of them in bearing their pain and loss. It was a beautiful and sacred moment.

Later I reflected on what a gift it really is to belong to a community that embraces and supports you as you move through life’s ups and downs. Those of us who are connected to communities (of whatever kind), have probably experienced something similar. I contemplated how isolating and lonely it would be to not have the love and support of others when you need it most. This too is something that some of us have experienced – when we have felt let down by our community.

How or why does this happen? Perhaps the answers are as varied as we are but I suspect that some of it has to do with how much time and effort we put into creating and nurturing community around us. Community can be equated to a bank account – if you never put anything in, there is nothing to draw from either when you need it.

It can be easy at times to put our communities (intentional/chosen or inherited) “on the back burner” when we are busy, distracted or experiencing various stresses in our individual lives. We get caught up in these immediacies, perhaps at the expense of spending time within our communities. I am not advocating for putting the needs of everyone else ahead of your own – I too have witnessed and experienced the consequences of such self-denial – but I am suggesting we evaluate how we balance our own needs alongside those of our chosen communities.

As a society, we place great value and acceptance on satisfying our own needs and desires. Perhaps this is inevitable because of the speed at which we move through life – forever chasing that shiny ball of wealth and self-interest. But I would like to believe that there is still a place for and desire to connect with others – whether it is with those we share commonalities (ie. location, ethnicity, religion, profession, a common interest, lifestyle, etc.) or with those about who we know little.

Being connected to others outside ourselves helps to satisfy our innate need to belong. One definition of belong that I like is to “fit in, be suited to, have a rightful place, have a home.” Isn’t that what we all want more than anything else?

To what communities do you belong? Do they add value to your life? Do you add value to the community? Who is with you through life’s ups and downs, your joys and sorrows?

If you need help finding the right balance in your life or evaluating which communities add value to your life, book an appointment with Shirley Lynn today. You deserve to feel and know where you belong.

Submitted by Lucy Martin

Creating Peaceful Relationships: Where Do I Belong?

Recently, I enjoyed a weekend visit with my brother and his family. Upon our arrival, my 3½ year old nephew helped carry my bag to my room and immediately began asking about ‘the special game’ I had promised to bring along. Since it was dinner time, I said we had to wait until the next day when it would be sunny and warm. He chatted eagerly and enthusiastically with Lucy and me, sharing all the recent news and events he thought we might deem important. And so that night, I went to bed surrounded by family and my nephew’s excitement as he explores the world and relationships that are his life.

The next day we finally got to play ‘the game’ – the squirt game as it became known – super-soakers filled with cold water from the hose. We ran around the yard, squirting, chasing, screaming, laughing, interspersed with bits of 3 year old ‘trash talking’ to challenge the stakes to become more and more wet. The game became a standing afternoon tradition during our stay.

Fifteen years earlier, Lucy and I played this same game with our other nephew and niece. In fact, we frequently remark how playing with our two nephews is a deja-vu experience. The pleasure of playing with them and building meaningful relationship is both a joy and a delightful responsibility.

Knowing where I come from and where my roots are is a strong family norm. We can decide what we want to do with them, but we understand where these roots are and what they are about. I notice my 3 year old nephew already being quite clear who is who in his family, who belongs, including his old Chihuahua dog and who are neighbours, friends or community members. My older nephew and niece have heard stories of our youth, of my long-deceased father. They never knew my father in person, but they know him through stories and pictures. They know they are his descendants. My younger nephew will also hear some of those stories and will know his grandfather through the mannerisms and decisions and values and virtues his own father practises and instills in him.

Knowing our roots helps us know where we belong. It helps us clarify where home is. When we are clear where we belong, we can better find our place in the world, our place in our adult world beyond the family of our childhood. If we are unclear where we belong or never felt like we belonged because abuse, adoption, trauma, tragedy, neglect, immigration, etc, in our family of origin has not been resolved, we tend to carry a deep confusion in our psyches, creating blocks and confusion in our key adult relationships, whether at home or at work.

As my nephew is learning that he belongs to our family, not only through birth, but more importantly, through love, he is developing a conscience which will help him navigate the parameters of this most important reference group – his family. According to Family Constellations Systems theory, three key reference groups help form our sense of belonging: family group, social environment and ethnic group, religion and culture we have grown up in, respectively.

Without us being necessarily conscious of this ‘equilibrium of belonging’ that we are navigating, we are constantly asking these two questions: “What do I have to do to belong?” and “What do I avoid to prevent being excluded?”

The fear of exclusion sits deep within our psyche and we are hardwired as vulnerable children to choose belonging, regardless of the rules, behaviours and norms we take on, rather than choose autonomy. Belonging, as children, is an matter of survival! To belong and to bond with our family, we are required to stand behind our parents and be loyal to them. Can you see where conscience comes into play?

In this last quarter of 2014, I invite you to explore your relationships and where you are creating peace in core relationships and where you are blocked or sabotaging yourself from doing so. Return to your goals and commitments for 2014 and evaluate the results you have attained this far. What yet needs your attention to create more peace in your relationships, whether at home or at work?

As you take your next steps for this last quarter, reflect on these questions:

  • Where are the places or groups I belong?
  • What do I have to do to belong in these groups?
  • What do I avoid to prevent being excluded from them?
  • How do these choices and behaviours limit or expand my conscience in love?
  • What needs to be transformed or change?
  • Where does love need to flow again so I can increase my peace?

I know this may be a difficult inquiry for some of you. It can be helpful to have additional support as you explore these questions and further pursue your journey toward greater inner peace and peace within your relationships, whether personally or in your work. This may be the perfect time to consider a soul coaching partnership with me to help you get unstuck and find the right movement to reflect what makes you whole, balanced and more peaceful.

Namaste, Shirley Lynn