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Spend five minutes enjoying a sunset meditation from City Island. Take in the sounds of the wind, water, waves, birds, and boats as you bring in peace to your heart center and share peace with at least three people.
Let the wind be your teacher. Let the waves be your teacher. Let the birds be your teacher. Let the sounds be your teacher.
Thoughts are like clouds that pass in the sky. Breathe and release.
Follow the in-breath to your heart – the center of your being.
I have built a tribe around well-being and wholeness over the past nine years. It started out as fun drumming circles. I didn’t know how much people longed to experience wholeness until I met people from around the world who craved connection, service, ceremony and joy. The circles grew over time. People have come together, sometimes virtually, around various experiences and themes, including, drumming, meditation, forgiveness, healing, heart-centered practices and ceremonies, shamanic journeying, nature walks, and so much more. My goal has always been to create heart-centered connections.
I also had to live from a heart-centered place. To do this, I have put myself out there in the world – I show up fully and at times with great vulnerability. If I am to bear witness for others, it is my belief that I must fully be myself in the world. At times that has meant sharing the deep grief of losing my mother or sharing about health challenges.
For those who have followed my blog over the past few years will remember how much I struggled with dizziness and fatigue. I went to many doctors, had numerous tests, and was given a misdiagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Doctors could not figure out what I had and all of my symptoms did not fit neatly into a text-book category. I was given medicine to temporarily minimize the symptoms as I kept getting shuffled from doctor to doctor. There were days I was filled with despair. After a few pity-party moments, I did what I had taught so many of my students and clients to do – meditate, spend time in nature, keep a gratitude journal, and write daily.
Through it all, I paid attention to my well-being. I listened to others when they spoke about what was helping their health and well-being. A friend started using essential oils and they were making a huge difference in improving his occasional digestive issues. I reached out to see if I could try some of the essential oils to help me with supporting my immune system and relieving occasional sleeplessness.
After a few weeks of using some essential oils, I had relief from restlessness and found they helped restore alertness when I experienced fatigue. The essential oils were supporting my immune system and relieving neck tension. The essential oils have become part of my well-being habit. I now speak to people about essential oil uses and give free classes.
Well-being matters. When I feel full of joy and light, the world is full of joy and light.
If you would like to know more about essential oils or have me host a FREE class, please reach out to me.
FDA disclaimer: These products are not intended to diagnosis, treat, cure, or prevent disease.
How are you listening deeply to your heart? What is calling you?
Last week, I was interviewed by Cristina Maria Rojas Fernandez for her BlogTalk Radio Show, Transforming Gifts. It was a chance to share my journey and the story of how I turned the grief of losing my mother into the grace of starting Toning the OM. It’s the story of my heart – the drum rhythm – and the tears that transformed into a healing journey.
As always, this is dedicated to all those who have supported me on my journey, especially, Lorene. And I also dedicate this to my mother, who always holds a place of love in my heart.
Thank you for listening – and listening deeply.
Check Out Spirituality Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Transforming Gifts on BlogTalkRadio
Ethan Nichtern is the founder of The Interdependence Project and a student of Sakyong Mipham. Nichtern is a senior teacher in Shambhala Buddhism and the author of a new book, The Road Home, A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path.
In his book, Nichtern uses the term “commute” to refer to the many ways in which people move randomly from one relationship to another, from one job to another, one situation to another without much reflection or joy in what they are doing. These commuters do not feel at home.
“From the standpoint of our struggle, we are wanders, commuters addicted to a state of transit, always thinking that we will be satisfied somewhere other than here. We may struggle our whole life, on a relentless and unsettling journey from cradle to urn. Lacking the tools to get comfortable in our own skin and safe in our own mind, we get lost again and again in the existential transitions of life, blindly hoping that a true and permanent home lies just around the corner, after a bit more struggle to prove ourselves, a bit more time figuring out how to belong in our life. So often our idea of home is whatever we hope will magically be waiting for us after the current disruption. For the commuter, “home” becomes a shifting mirage in an increasingly repetitive desert.”
However, Nichtern offers us an alternative to our suffering and our story:
“Life is no longer about just trudging onward toward oblivion. In this alternative, empowered narrative, the passage of time starts to represent spontaneous opportunity. Every day is new, every moment is fresh, every relationship sacred. In this story, no one is ever doomed. ‘Now’ is always the moment of creative potential. In this alternate story, we are awake.”
In contrast to the spiritual emptiness of materialism, Nichtern talks about living in the present moment – “Awake-ism.” Life in the present moment means to operate from a heart-mind perspective through awareness. Getting this perspective means delving into a meditation practice. And resting in the gap in meditation is not about finding a bliss space; rather it is a brave willingness to be vulnerable.
Nichtern explains how by attuning ourselves to this heart-mind awareness to what’s happening around us and inside us, we become able to deepen our sense of connection with others and, at the same time, change for the better our individual and collective patterns of apathy and inattention. In this open invitation to Buddhist meditation, Nichtern shows how, in order to create a truly compassionate and enlightened society, we must start with ourselves. And this means beginning by working with our own minds – in the present moment – in whatever state we find them in.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Who am I to trust my body, my senses, my instincts? Who am I to know how to raise a child without consulting parenting books and up-to-date rearing studies? Who am I to try to find God outside of an institutionally approved, fully vetted doctrine? Who am I to think I can pursue impractical dreams? Who am I to be taken seriously? Who am I to think I’m capable or worthy? Who am I to … Who am I?– Leigh Ann Henion
Leigh Ann Henion’s Phenomenal is an emotional story of a journey around the world that explores the depths being a mother and a wanderer. Henion combines her own questions of being both a mother and an adventurer. This inner conflict calls her to go on a global journey to some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. Henion writes, “And what began as a tour of extraordinary sights had evolved into the story of how─in an abstract, digital world of overspecialization─I was becoming an expert witness of my own life.”
Phenomenal begins with Henion describing her inner suffering. She is overwhelmed by the birth of her son and the stresses a young mother faces with a newborn. This pushes Henion to ask hard questions about parenting and expectations of women and motherhood. She is struggling with how to bear witness to herself and her son at the same time. Henion wants to experience wonder again and for her this means allowing herself to venture on a global journey to rekindle her sense of awe.
Henion’s quest takes her to the still-burning volcanoes of Hawaii, lightning storms of Venezuela, experiencing the variety of animal movements in Tanzania, and the joy of the elegant butterfly migrations in Mexico. Through it all, she is teaching herself the inner experience of freedom both as a parent and a human being. This lesson gives her permission to experience parenthood on her own terms as well as understanding the awe of being a parent. It’s a story of birth (of her son) and of rebirth (of herself).
Isn’t there a holy sense of purpose to be found in the search itself,
at any age?
Henion’s spiritual journey puts her in the path of modern-day shamans, reindeer herders, and astrophysicists. She learns from people from all around the world about wonder and the lengths people will go to chase migrations, auroras, eclipses, and other phenomena. These people become her teachers and she learns that all of them trust their instincts and follow their passions. Henion learns that this global quest is more than a journey of seeking, but in the end becomes a journey of being.
As one of her teachers on the journey says to her,
“The earth, like us, is constantly stimulated from without as well as within…The whole planet vibrates and we’re actually pretty intimate with how it does that if we listen to our bodies. Our mother’s greatest gift, the heartbeat, is infrasonic. We have this coming out of the womb. We realize that we are not alone.”
An inspiring memoir, Henion reveals unforgettable truths about motherhood, spirituality, and the true gift of all the phenomenal beauty that surrounds us.
We all have rhythm – really, we do! We can connect to various vibrations and rhythms that surround us. An easy place to start is in our own bodies. We can place a hand on our hearts and listen to the rhythm. We can follow the breath and see where that takes us. We can drive on a highway and feel the grooves under our wheels. I even follow the rhythm of a large fire engine outside my window by listening to the siren and making it a song.
What if we took time each day to find our own personal rhythm, our OM?
What would happen if we each listened to our most profound sound living in and through us?
Perhaps just by connecting with our personal OM, we could relate to those around us in new ways. We could connect hearts first and minds second. We could connect on deeper levels, beyond the surface conversations. We could know each other through rhythm rather than rhetoric. We would meet each other with purpose rather than puffery. We could drop judgment and choose acceptance. We could release anger and open to patience acceptance.
With our personal rhythm comes our potential. It’s living inside of us. Step out of limitation and into possibility. Listen to the OM flowing through you.
Are you willing to expand the maximum capacity of your heart?
Sitting in the dark
Touching the sky
Waiting for me
Making space for beauty
Growth is possible
There have been many books on the subject of habits – having them and keeping them. The deeper question is how do we change?
In Gretchen Rubin’s new book, the answer to change is habits. As Rubin says, “Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.”
Better Than Before presents a practical, specific framework to allow readers to understand their habits. Infused with Rubin’s anecdotes, research, humor, and packed with stories, Better Than Before explains the core principles of habit formation. As she often does in her books, Rubin laid out her thinking about and interest in habits: where they came from, her personal discussions with her husband, her observations about herself and those in her life. Better Than Before reveals the value of self-knowledge in relation to our habits. It is only through accurately understanding ourselves that we are able implement effective strategies to support our intentional behavior changes.
Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Rubin’s book provides methods and strategies for intentionally examining and building habits that support us rather than ruling our lives. If you are ready for some reflection and inner examination of your habits and strategies to support changing habits, then you will enjoy Better Than Before.
Where does our courage come from? How is it that even when we are scared, we do things afraid?
In thinking about courage, I dug deep into the birthing of my own courageous experiences. I noticed that I had many courageous moments, and at times, and just as equally, moments when I held back from being brave. What I discovered was:
Not only am I inherently courageous – I tap into my courageous self in order to connect to everything that really matters.
Courage is the doorway that opens up to other rooms in my life. I need all these rooms to step fully into my life. Others rooms that open up once I tap into courage are:
Curiosity, Connection, Compassion, and Creativity.
Courage is needed to cultivate all of these qualities. These qualities are the antidote to fear, anger, impatience, and apathy. I noticed that when I am courageous, I’m often afraid in the exact same moment.
Who are you when you are feeling courageous and who are you becoming?