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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?
Spend about five minutes opening up your wild cosmic heart to the joy of peace. If we can feel a little bit of peace, we can feel a lot of peace. Be peace and send peace. This video was created near Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Breathing in: I am peace. Breathing out: I give peace.
It is dedicated to the 2015 Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat participants who were willing to unpack their hearts. With hands on your heart, smile, and bow.
When was the last time you really listened to your heart? When was the last time you nurtured your sense of wonder?
There is a deep sense that we are being called to rewild our hearts. We need to make wild again our sense of self, our sense of compassion, and our sense of curiosity. Rewilding is a lens – a way to view the world, to view one another, and to view ourselves. Rewilding is a movement and a way of being. We are called to open our eyes, open our heart and open to the untamed wilderness that lives inside.
To rewild our hearts means we need to make room for wider spaces within ourselves, our community, our environment and our world. Rewilding is about expansion and redefining our borders and boundaries. It’s a desire to connect ourselves more intimately.
If we are to rewild our hearts, it would mean we would deepen our relationship with nature and the landscape that surrounds us. Rewilding is an exploration and a journey.
Want to come on a journey of rewilding your heart?
Join me on a Rewilding the Heart Journey in 2015 and 2016 – details coming soon.
When we connect to peace and happiness, we can discover Universal Love and Universal Compassion. We need to make the decision to go there – go to what brings us peace and happiness.
Take a few moments, and just let go and take some time to focus on what generates joy in our life. Notice that when we focus on joy, peace arises naturally. As my Buddhist teacher, Kadam Morten says, “Peace is the nature of our mind. When we pay attention to peace, it expands.” My teacher will often recommend that we hang out with our peaceful mind.
Personally, when I sit in meditation, I am reminded of my peaceful nature or my Buddha-nature. I can let go of delusions – of self-grasping and ignorance. When I open my eyes, the work of remembering that peace within continues and I must make the decision to go to the peaceful places within myself. As Kadam Morten says, “I can have a heart pervaded by peace, joy, and compassion.” He challenges us to wish for enlightenment for all loving beings without exception (bodhichitta – enlightened mind).
As Kadam Morten often says, “It’s audacious to identify with your Buddha-nature.” The idea of striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all as a way of being can feel too much. So, we start with ourselves. We carry love in our hearts as a way of being. The sun doesn’t think about radiating light – it just does it. We don’t have to think about radiating light – we can just be light. We can transform situations into peace and fuel the path to enlightenment.
We can be audacious and identify with our Buddha-nature.
A few days before giving the Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat in Hawaii, I met a beautiful flute player, Kylie Miller. She had just finished her retreat and I was about to begin mine. We were in the same housing complex and when I walked into the room, I heard the most meditative and sweet flute playing. We shared our backgrounds with each other. Kylie grew up in Australia and moved to Nepal to study and teach music.
The more I listened to her play, the more the music brought me closer to my heart. I asked Kylie if she would play her flute as a meditation for me as I filmed the beauty outside the room. This recording took place outside our housing at Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center on the Big Island. Enjoy five minutes of relaxing flute playing. Thank you Kylie for permission to share your loving gift if music!