Teachings to Awaken the Heart
For the first week of February 2021, I shared a daily post on both Instagram and Facebook. Each day of the week was given an alliterative name and was accompanied by a mindful musing and/or practice. Below you will find these posts. It is my hope that these support you along your journey of awakening, to living a life wholeheartedly and fully.
Pause & allow the words of this quote to seep into your being, to perhaps expand your heart, grow your inner wisdom, or to help you listen deeper to or grow your authentic voice. ♥️🌈
💡”The body is a treasure trove and an exquisite vehicle for our practice of waking up and being with what is.” ~ Jill Satterfield (@jillbirdz), an embodied mindfulness teacher with whom I’ve had the privilege to learn from at a silent retreat in 2019.
🧘♀️Try out this simplified version of a body scan with the intention of listening to the wisdom of your body WITHOUT judgement or expectation. What is your body telling you?
🧭 Let your breath be your guide. Helping you to relax into the moment and tune into your body.
🎧 If you’d like a deeper experience of this practice, please go to Guided Meditations.
🌄 How can we wake up to our lives? The question for the week.
💓 These two statements are what I describe as the heartbeats of awakening, of being present for life (the good, bad, ugly & beautiful).
🌟The first statement describes how to begin waking up to life right now, in this moment, just as you are. We cannot wake up with one foot in the past and the other in the future. Reflections and goals are useful except when that is where we reside most of the time. As we watch life pass by, we grasp at it out of fear, desire, expectation, on & on. Have you caught it yet? Start where you are.
🧘♀️ Ask yourself, “Where am I right now?” No judgment. No should. Just what is, which only you can know. Then feel your feet rooted in the Earth, your hand on your heart, the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe life in and out. Know this is where are. This is where you start.
🌟The second statement is a reminder for when we forget where we are. When we go back to familiar ways of thinking, behaving, relating. When our feet are in the past or our hands are reaching for the future. We all do this! This is one way we are not different from each other.
🌈 And yet, we can cultivate our inner wisdom when we gently remind ourselves that we can ALWAYS begin again right where we are. This reminder is a moment of mindfulness. It is a moment to delight in!
🧭”No matter what happens, no matter how long it’s been, no matter how far from our aspirations we may have strayed, we can always always begin again.” ~ @sharonsalzberg
🙏 May these reminders I have gained along the way be of use to you along your path of waking up to life.
Mark Nepo, poet and wise teacher, shared this analogy at his 2nd of a 3 series webinar on Inner Courage. The theme was The Life of Obstacles. I highly recommend looking into his work if this quote resonates with you.
As some may know by now, the topic of courage is one of deep exploration for me. It is one of the three guiding principles of my work. When I heard this statement, I was awe struck because it expanded the way I view obstacles in my life.
Obstacles can come in many shapes and sizes. And it’s not always easy to be courageous. And yet, if we view the obstacle as a teacher and engage in it, as Mark Nepo suggests, we transform. It is an act of courage to not turn away from the obstacle and to ask what it can teach us. This is bringing light to the darkness.
Consider an obstacle that is in the way for you, or even one of the past. Begin with something that is small and not overwhelming. Acknowledge all the feelings and emotions that arise when considering this obstacle. Hold them with tenderness. They arise as a way to protect and guide you. Now as you identify the obstacle, ask, “What is this revealing to me? What might this be awakening in me?” It’s ok if the answers are unclear or mute. See if you can be open to the glimmer of light that will eventually come. This is cultivating your courageous heart!
I have loved Erykah Badu’s song “Bag Lady” ever since it dropped in 2000. This song reveals the fact that many of us carry around baggage that gets in the way of living wholeheartedly, of being truly awake for our lives. If you’re anything like me, it can be hard to let go, especially if we don’t even realize what we’re carrying. Sometimes the bags aren’t even our own!
I have come to recognize that throughout my adult life I’ve ranged from packing lite to over-packing. How would you describe yourself now? A year ago? A decade ago? We all have a bit of bag lady-ness or bag person-ness in us. The practice of letting go helps us to awaken to our lives. We just need to become aware enough to begin releasing our grip, to begin discarding that which no longer serves us, our family, our community (fill in the blank).
Meditation practice is one way to deepen our awareness, to cultivate compassion, agency and resilience. Just like when we finally decide to clean out the basement that we’ve been putting off, so too can we begin the inner practice of letting go, of freeing ourselves from the junk that has accumulated or we didn’t even know was (still) there. How?
Try this practice –
- Pause where you are.
- Take a few deep breaths in and out.
- Close your eyes if that feels safe.
- Place your hands on your heart or anywhere that feels supportive.
- Using your breath as your guide to go inward, allow your body to relax into the moment.
- With each out breath, release any noticeable tension, constriction, tightness.
- When you’re ready, ask yourself,
- “What am I carrying that no longer serves me?
- Am I willing to let it go even just a bit?”
- And wait to hear, see and/or sense what the wisest part of you reveals.
- And if you’re just not ready to let that thing go, be kind and say, “May I have the aspiration to someday let this go.”
Let’s rejoice in our lives!
A benefit of waking up to our lives is experiencing joy and happiness more often. So grow these states by pausing throughout the day and rejoicing!
Even when life is hard, there is always something we can rejoice in, like the fact we are breathing or the sun is shining. Rejoicing doesn’t deny the fact that life can be hard or is hard right now; instead, it helps us handle the challenges with more resiliency and agency.
Give it try! Comment on what you’re rejoicing in today. It’s a way for us to feel connected and to share in each other’s joy.
To explore ways to cultivate joy more deeply, check out Sharing Joy – the last session of the Engaged Mindfulness Series.