This is a challenging season of life for many of us. When I would talk to my mom and was screaming at the world, at my life, at anything and everything… when I cried the biggest, hardest tears… my mom’s response was always, ‘Better out than in, Al.’
What happens when you let these feelings out instead of keeping them inside of you? I am uncomfortable being angry, crying my heart out, fuming. These moments of release are uncomfortable, especially as those feelings escape. That pain isn’t easy when it hurts deep in your heart, when your throat closes down, when the emotion is all you experience. And yet - all that anger or sadness or whatever it is your feeling - is better out than in. (Ideally, you are letting it out without harming others or yourself). Maybe all that hurt has been stuck there for years (or lifetimes) and through whatever challenging experience you're having, it is healing and releasing. And then through that release you don’t have to hold it any longer. I always feel lighter, more like Myself, better, after one of these releases.
Often we compound the emotion we are feeling by telling ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling it, we are overreacting, it isn’t that bad, or we berate ourselves for feeling big emotions. I don’t like feeling these emotions, but I am coming to understand that there isn't anything 'wrong' with them (or me). Now I trust that these releases are essential for the next best version of me. I know that I can have these big emotions, be uncomfortable, find my breath, and not make me wrong. How would your life change if you felt uncomfortable emotions and that’s all that happened in your thoughts? You don’t have to change anything or feel even worse about yourself. It could be that there is nothing ‘wrong’, but rather a release of emotions that you no longer have to hold. It could be that there isn’t anything to fix, and be responsible for, other than just sitting in it. Acknowledging and accepting that this is how you feel right now. Remembering that you won’t feel this way forever, it is temporary. Your life will have peace and joy and love again.
I encourage you to sit with the release of emotion that happens, as uncomfortable as it is and remind yourself that whatever you are feeling, is better out than in.
So a compliment comes your way, someone telling you just how special you are and what happens? Do you soak that in, do you say - ‘you are RIGHT! I am special!’ Or is there a different voice in your head that says… “yeah, but… I know I am a terrible person pretending to be good.” Or maybe your voice is not that harsh, maybe your voice just says… “yeah, but… I should have done more.” Or “yeah, but not really, I am not really special.”
Do you know the sound of this ‘yeah, but’ voice? It shows up as shoulds and shouldn’ts, as a way of measuring yourself against some line that doesn’t exist, as criticism, and as judgment. It is the opposite of the compliment. The ‘yeah, but’ voice steals the compliment and changes it to harsh energy, and yet all we want is for our hearts to stir with love and joy.
It is understandable that we have all of these ‘yeah, but’ thoughts. Society constantly tells us that we are not enough, we don’t have enough, and the unattainable is well… unattainable. It tells us to wait for the next best thing to be joyful, it tells us to try harder, faster, and do more, more, more. Maybe you had a parent or a boss that pushed, pushed, pushed. These are the kinds of things that create the ‘yeah, but’ voice for a lot of us. And yet, the truth is you are worthy of love, joy, peace, or calm, just by your very existence. And a compliment is an opportunity to receive, to know, to feel, that love, joy, peace, or calm. When we give it a giant ‘yeah, but’ we push all of that away.
Try catching this voice in action. Catch the ‘yeah, but’. What would happen if you let the compliment, the good feeling sink in, without chasing it away. You are really an incredible person. NO 'YEAH, BUT'. You are really an incredible person. Can you say that to yourself? I AM an incredible person. It might be hard at first, and I believe in you. You can do this. Try it. Practice using words like this with yourself everyday. I am amazing. I AM worthy of love and joy and whatever it is you want in this life. I am amazing. Catch the ‘yeah, but’ and try love instead.
Can you feel that stirring in your heart? That’s the truth. You. Are. Amazing. Look at you! You go have this life that is ready for the one and only you. You’ve got this. NO 'YEAH, BUT'.
I just read a book with my kids (The Ogress and the Orphans - it is excellent!) and the author often asks the reader to "listen" when she was making a point not to missed. When I was learning how to access my intuition (yep, I went to psychic school) I started to really listen. There was a critical voice in my head that was waaay too loud, and an inner wisdom voice that had been shut down to a whisper. Everything I've seen and read recently about spiritual aspects and the earth is that there is a great opportunity now to really listen to your inner wisdom, to your spirit, and your body. My truth is that everyone has this aspect of them, you just might need to practice turning up the volume. Listen, really listen, stillness helps - what do you need to hear? Often permission to sit still and listen is all you really need - check out this link for a guided meditation and see what you need to hear.
Written by: Mike Way
At almost 68 years old, I enjoy finding out that I am still capable of learning some new tricks. But admittedly, at this stage, acquiring new skills that are truly “life changing” is fairly unusual. For me, meditation has become a remarkable addition to my life, even if it has come in the “autumn” of my years. Better late than never, as they say.
I’d been mildly curious about meditation for many years. In a box somewhere, I’m pretty sure I can find some books on, and an old cassette tape of, meditations. But, the tape has never been played; the books unread. Somehow, I just never actually tried it. Why?
Well, I’m aware that I had been put-off just slightly about meditation, mostly based on clichés and false assumptions (e.g. shave my head, wear orange robes and burn incense?) I worried that I’d be required to pretzel myself into the lotus position – (which by the way, as I got older, was simply out of the question!) Silly, huh?
Recently, a few things happened that finally hooked my attention…including semi-retirement and sheltering-at-home because of Covid-19. Most importantly, a dear colleague and good friend invited me to Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance meditation challenge. Although I tried to think up several excuses, I was unable to overcome one simple truth….that I completely and absolutely trusted her judgment and her genuineness.
That person, of course was/is Ali. I had worked with her closely about 20 years ago, and was always deeply impressed with her very high level of intelligence, but charmingly mixed with a down-to-earth demeanor, and common-sense thoughtfulness. During the ensuing years, our career and life-paths diverged, but we never lost touch. When I learned that she had answered a calling in spirituality, I was somewhat surprised, if not slightly shocked. But, it was clear she was the same old Ali I knew, having simply turned her incredible intellect and thoughtfulness onto a different focus. I fell back on my trust and belief in her, so I accepted her invitation. Thus began my personal journey with meditation…..
For some of you reading this, you may have already discovered the power(s) of meditation for yourself. For some of you, it might encourage or support you on your own journey. For a few of you, perhaps it may provide just enough of a nudge to finally put aside any reluctance, for whatever your reason(s) and “get on with it” -- taking that first step.
The stories I can offer are simply a way to share my joy of discovery. They may or may not be similar to any of your own experiences. I don’t represent them as anything you should particularly look for; nor as correct or incorrect milestones in the meditation process. I have no idea if they are “typical” in any way, shape or form. Perhaps their best value might be in stimulating or prompting some of you to share your own stories on this blog, or elsewhere. I feel I’ve had some “profound” insights, but no doubt profound only to me because, after all, meditation is a profoundly personal experience.
In a few cases, I’ll share some ideas of my own about the process and practice of meditation itself – often borne of my own muddled awareness and misconceptions. I don’t offer these as universal truths or previously un-earthed truths – but rather as considerations for anyone who may be having difficulties (as I once did) exploring or embracing meditation.
My first “aha!” moment came roughly two-thirds into the 21 Day Challenge and was about the “process” more than a personal insight. I had come to rather enjoy the “just music” parts of the meditations as much or more than the “guided” narrative parts. Somewhere along the way, I began to be troubled that the “just music” parts were becoming shorter and shorter in duration. The ending “bell” would sound long before I was “ready” to stop, and often when I thought I was just getting started into great stuff. It occurred to me this was probably intentional in design, and probably revealed later. Curious, I went back to the first couple of days – and discovered that, while I thought the “just music” time had been decreased down to only three minutes or so – it turned out that it was actually quite consistent at 9-10 minutes from the very beginning. In fact, it was I who had changed….rather than spending/wasting the first five or seven minutes worrying about whether “I was doing it right” or having my brain take me off course with distractions such as sounds or itchy eyes or needing to sneeze – I was instead learning to ignore that stuff and redirect my focus back to the mantra. Thus my actual time in useful meditation simply had time-warped on me, making the ten minutes fly by. It made me want more….much more.
The first, most dramatic, personal moment for me happened a few days later. For most of my adult life, I’d struggled with some frustrating aspects of my relationship with my mother. Since she passed a few years ago (at age 92), I had felt an uncomfortable, unfinished lack of closure with her. Then, during a meditation, with no context or reason, she suddenly appeared to me. There was no exchange of words or anything like that, but I was suddenly flushed with a wonderful sense of warmth, forgiveness, and reconnection. I became aware in that moment, that a slight smile had crossed my face, and felt it vibrate throughout my entire body – down to my toes. I realized it was the first time in 40 years that I had looked her in the eye and smiled TRULY and SINCERELY at her, and with her. The love I felt in that moment was astonishing.
Since then, I have been meditating every day (often more than once) without fail.
You’ve heard meditation is good for you. You’ve got a friend who LOVES it. You’ve been meaning to try it. But… you haven’t tried it.
As a meditation guide, lots of people ask me the best way to create a meditation practice. What is the best time, the best space, the ideal schedule? On the one hand, there isn't an easy answer because everyone is different. Yet, the easy answer is simply do what works for you and start. Yes, just start. Don’t wait until you have the perfect cushion, the right app, the silent space. Just start. Here are a few tips to help you.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Right now. Close your eyes and take 5 breaths. Look at you! If you want to get more complicated add a time to try this (for example, before you get out of bed, when you get into bed, before you eat a meal, etc.).
Notice Your Life
Play with being present throughout your day. When you are washing the dishes, can you focus your mind on turning on the tap, picking up the dish, seeing the soap bubbles.? To take another step, notice all five of your senses. What do you see when you are washing the dishes? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste?
What do YOU like?
You may notice that you like the way you feel when you try the steps above and you'll start looking for more options to meditate. I had to go to a class because I couldn't make the time for myself on my own. When I committed to a class, I showed up. You might be more disciplined, and an app could work for you. If you choose an app or a class, there are thousands of options. Notice if you like the voice and the 'energy' of the person guiding the meditation. Try different ways to meditate and notice what you like. I really like the active visualizations; I do not like making my mind go blank. Do you like starting your day with meditation or ending it with meditation (or both!)? Let yourself play - no pressure needed, no judgment of how much or what happened, just let yourself try it. When you decide what you like, you'll be more likely to do it more often because… YOU like it.
When I first started meditating I went to one class once a week. Even though I loved the class and the meditations; I would show up for class each week amazed that I hadn't even thought to meditate during the week. You might not meditate every day when you first start, or you just might fall in love and meditate whenever you can. Over the years, meditating has become something I love to do everyday. It is a yearning inside me that doesn't satiate until I sit quietly in that chair. I guide meditation classes because if more of us can walk around with that sort of love, the world is going to be a lovely place. Just start.
I hope this interview with VoyageDenver inspires you to consider how what you do in this life supports who you are in this life. It has been quite a journey!
People often say that the summer solstice is the longest day (in the northern hemisphere), but I like to think of it as the longest light. Around this summer solstice (June 21), I have been playing in the light, and giving myself permission to feel the light and be bright.
I created a meditation around this quote by Shakti Gawain, "The more light you allow within you the brighter the world you live in will be." Try out this meditation to feel your light.
I see the light in you. Be bright.
Please check out this latest 'musings' on Medium where I describe a little bit about being psychic:
I See and I Say What I See
A Not So Woo Woo Psychic
Thoughts on death growing up in funeral home
This fall as the colors fade to brown, my family is undergoing another change - the family home of 80 years is for sale. This ending is a hard goodbye to a place that held so much of life for us. And it makes me laugh to think of all of the life in that house, because this particular home is also a funeral home. Yep, my grandparents operated a funeral home - the place that many people go to have a memorial for their loved one. So growing up, there were lots of funerals, caskets, open caskets with bodies in them, and mourners. And me and my cousins. While there was a service happening, we were always respectful, quiet, not seen or heard. But at all other times, my cousins and I would be running playfully through the halls, giggling and laughing. We played tag around the grave markers in the sales lot. We played hide and seek among the caskets. Death was very much a part of our lives. And I’ve noticed that this society of ours, sometimes tries to hide death, to let the ending go unnoticed. When you grow up in a funeral home, you’ve got to notice the ending.
Yes, there is an ending that comes with death, but there is also a beginning. The body ends and the soul begins a new adventure. It was so obvious at the funeral home: that a body was just a body. And there is so much more to life than a body! The laughter, the giggling, the playing, the love, the spirit. In the novel A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle creates a species of animal that doesn’t have eyes and can not see. This creature says, “We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.” Yes, these bodies are seen and temporal. Yet all those things that we can not see –the spirit, the love, the light, the life—is eternal. This we can not see, but we can know.
When the body stops working in this incarnation, it is the ultimate of endings. Yet, our lives are filled with all different kinds of endings: the sale of a home, the death of a relationship, the death of a job, or the ending of era. We experience these endings throughout our lives. Every day ends and begins again, each season ends and a new one begins. And just like when a soul leaves a body, and there are different opportunities for the soul, with every ending in our lives a rebirth is possible. Rebirth is possible throughout our lives in bodies. With every ending, there is the opportunity for a beginning.
Sometimes, though, we cling to whatever we still want to be a part of our lives. Sometimes we simply refuse to acknowledge that a “death” has happened. And when we so specifically say no to the ending, it is a lot more challenging to say yes to the rebirth. We want things to be the way they were and we cling to the past, hoping for a different ending or no ending at all.
The truth is, when we say no to what is, we hold on to the pain. But as we choose to say yes, (not yes I really wanted this to happen, but yes this is what happened) the pain starts to release. And the rebirth begins. The beginning starts. The new job, the new relationship, the new adventure has an opportunity to take root.
I learned about rebirth as a child through my dear Uncle Keith. When my grandparents died, Uncle Keith, left the job of his life as a librarian to lead the family business. He was reborn as a funeral director as he rededicated his life’s work to bring light to people in their darkest moments. He brought compassion, attention to detail, and flair. And the symbol he chose for every funeral was a shaft of wheat. The wheat has to die, so that the seeds can be sown. It is a traditional symbol of resurrection in Christian faiths, and the life of the soul. In the darkness, even in the darkest dark of the death of the body, there is light. A new path for the soul; a new field to sow. Teaching this became Uncle Keith’s life’s purpose. He transformed like a butterfly from librarian to light keeper.
Death is an end and a beginning, a step; it’s not a problem and it’s not a failure. But society would have us believe that death equals failure; that death is scary, and that death is unfamiliar. Yet, death happens every day, and some day to each one of us. I believe the more we talk about it, the less scary and spooky and fearful death feels. Talking about death will not make it happen sooner. Death is a part of life, and for those of us left living – if we are willing to talk about death—we can support each other in times of loss and grief.
Maybe you have not experienced a person’s life ending in a body recently, but maybe you are mourning the end of a marriage, your child’s childhood, the change of the seasons, or something only you would understand. Give yourself the time and the space to move from the place of resistance, of “no this did not happen” to acceptance. Say “yes, this did happen’.” Maybe you can even find gratitude for the change, and dare to dream the new beginning. Dare to be the happiest version of yourself now.
Let’s take a look at this idea of endings and beginnings in meditation:
Click here for the meditation recording
Grief is hard, especially if you feel alone. If you feel like talking about death or grief, please do! Find a friend with a good ear. And I would encourage you to do the same for a friend in need. Consider being there in a space of love, acceptance, and light. How can you be a light in their darkness? Be the sun for the newly sown wheat.