Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Fifth Step to Inner Peace- Connect to Your Shadow

Saturn's shadow                                      Cassini Probe-NASA
I hope you have had a chance to try out the first four steps to inner peace below. They can provide a loving and strong foundation for the fifth step- connecting with your shadow. Oh dear, I can hear the groans now! This is a step most of us would rather skip, but paradoxically by entering the darkness we can find our brightest treasure; the gift of our shadow.

I remember asking a woman once if she would talk to others the way she talked to herself. "Oh, no", she said, "that would be rude!" We had to laugh, but the truth is most of us spend too much time and energy beating ourselves up, regretting, fretting and making ourselves miserable for falling short of some ideal of who we think we should be. We banish our little, orphaned "unacceptable" parts to the basement, where they lurk as our shadow.

Everybody does this. We all suffer the pain of self-rejection, but we also have a choice. We do not have to feel guilty for our "bad" feelings, or for pretending we never have them. We can begin instead with forgiving ourselves for our humanness. We can declare a truce with ourselves and to begin seeing ourselves with kinder and more compassionate eyes. When we befriend all of who we are, we are able to experience the joy of being our authentic, whole, joyful and lovable selves. Repressing or denying parts of ourselves only cuts us off from that wholeness. The way out is in!

Saturn Back Lit by the Sun                                     Cassini Probe
Astrologically, it is said you cannot enter the more advanced levels of consciousness represented by Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, until you have gone through the rings of Saturn- the limitations, fears and obstacles of this life. Saturn tests us, but it also gives us an opportunity to confront challenges with awareness instead of blame and with love instead of fear. When we are no longer at war with ourselves life flows with more grace. We can listen to the messages of our shadow instead of being at the mercy of its impulses. And perhaps most importantly, we no longer have to project our hated and denied parts onto others and make them the enemy. When we are healed, our world is healed too.

If you are having trouble pinpointing your rejected parts simply look at who and what triggers you in life. Traits we deplore in ourselves are so much easier to see in someone else! 

Debbie Ford had an exercise in The Dark Side of the Light Chasers for meeting your various selves that I found intriguing. A sense of humor will come in handy for this one! You simply imagine a bus coming and that each of the passengers on it is a part of yourself you may not have acknowledged in awhile, maybe for decades. As you board the bus, you can expect to see a whole cast of characters - all looks, sizes, and temperaments. Sit down with one and start a dialogue. He or she may be a little cranky for having been ignored or unaccepted for so long. Let the part know you are sorry and are really ready to listen to him or her now. Listen without judgment. See how this part of you has been hurt and how past thoughts, feelings and behaviors (no matter how unwise, or ineffective) were chosen to ultimately make this part feel more secure and more loved. Have compassion for this part of yourself. Together find a new role for this part that honors both of you.

I was surprised when I did this exercise recently to find one of the passengers was me, at the age of twelve looking just like my seventh grade photo. Barbie was wearing an orange plaid, wool jumper and bright, pink lipstick (that she had smuggled into school).  Her hair was short, but she had draped part of it over her right eye for dramatic effect. (I remember when I first saw that photo I thought I was the ugliest girl in the world.) So there she was feeling too tall, lonely and totally unlovable. Barbie turned away when I sat down. Slowly, she opened up and told me she felt like she was from a different planet and would never fit in. I felt her pain and it made me feel tender and protective of her. It felt good to invite this vulnerable and rejected part of myself back into my heart and I knew it would have an impact on how I viewed insecurities in my life today. Before I left the bus she was smiling and I was feeling more whole and content.

This may seem a little strange, but if exercises like this (or finding a good therapist, or confiding in a trusted friend) can help us on our journey to greater self-acceptance and self-love, it is worth it. In fact, I think confronting our "unloved" parts is one of the noblest, most courageous and worthy projects we can take on in this life. 

If you are still having a hard time imagining connecting with your shadow- maybe you can think of it as the ultimate service to humanity. World peace evolves from inner peace. It begins with each of us bringing light and love to our wounded selves. Then we can receive the gift of our shadow - the remembrance of who we really are- undamaged, whole, compassionate and loving souls -  here to make a difference.

The Waking Planet Flag                                                              Barbara Upton

Monday, August 9, 2010

The First Four Steps to Inner Peace

"Bliss"                                                  B Upton
In her book Conscious Evolution, Barbara Marx Hubbard talks about how we are poised to birth a universal humanity and compares what we are experiencing to the metamorphosis of a butterfly. 

As soon as the caterpillar starts weaving its cocoon, imaginal disks appear that hold the blueprint of the butterfly to come. The immune system of the caterpillar does not recognize them and attacks them, but they only continue to grow. When there are enough of them and they link up- the disks turn to cells and the butterfly is created from the old. Hubbard says that each of us who believes a different world is possible is an imaginal cell in the new global culture! Our numbers also continue to grow and technology is allowing us to "link up" like never before. Everyday, we grow in strength and in our ability to co-create a more conscious and loving world.

But for us to be most effective in creating the blueprint for an awakened humanity, we first have to make sure we are awake and compassionate to ourselves! 

Don't fret if this makes you a tad bit uncomfortable- we are conditioned to think of loving ourselves as being egotistical and selfish - when in fact, egocentricity and selfishness arise from lack of self-love. If you want love, you first have to give it to yourself. You cannot give to, or receive from another, what you will not give to yourself. Putting an end to self betrayal and embracing our essence as pure love is the work before us.

I will be sharing seven steps to help you experience more inner peace and self-love in your life. I offer the first four here. They might sound too simple, obvious, weird, etc. to work- but I hope you will give them a try because the world needs you to be in your power right now and I'd love to see you be in your joy more too!

1. Connect to the Earth
Spend some time everyday in nature. Enjoy a few quiet moments as you feel the earth beneath you. You might want to imagine that you have "roots" extending from the bottom of your feet and spine sinking deep down into the earth. Feel yourself growing calmer as you go deeper...then on a big inhale, draw the earth's healing and nourishing energy into your body- into your every cell. Exhale tension and all your worries down into the earth and inhale peace and strength. Give thanks. It's beautiful way to begin the day.

2. Connect with Your Breath
Breathing- we do it about 20,000 times of day, but how often are we conscious of the nature of our breathing? Check yours right now. Is it smooth, effortless and deep? Or does it feel shallow and tense? Unfortunately, for most of us it is the latter. Our breath is reflecting the incessant chatter of our minds! We are seldom without thoughts that keep us anxious and in a decidedly non-peaceful state. But when you begin to simply observe the breath, not trying to change it, just watching it and being aware of every sensation - a funny thing happens. Your breathing naturally slows down and the ties of your ego/mind begin to loosen. As the breath deepens naturally you may find it easier to dive down past surface thoughts, letting them go like the ripples on a pond. As you allow the breath to more completely fill your lungs, let your tummy relax...your mind will follow. In many languages the word for breath and spirit is the same- get acquainted with yours!

3. Connect with Gratitude
You will find that as you connect more with the earth and your breath that there will be a natural bubbling up of feelings of gratitude for life's blessings. You may start noticing little things that were under your radar before- a stranger's smile, a cool breeze, or the scent of  flowers on your path. Some like to hone their ability of appreciation by keeping a Gratitude Journal (and it can be a nice thing to leaf through when you are feeling down.) Remember nothing is too small to note! A positive side effect of this is that it is impossible to be in a blaming, judging mind when you are connected to gratitude- over time you literally begin seeing the world in a new way!

"The Irresistible Flowers of the Butterfly Bush"              B Upton

4. Connect with Beauty 
I think beauty is a requirement of the soul and without it something in us withers. Beauty comes in many different packages- from a pink and gold sunrise to music that stirs our soul- from leaping dolphins to a poem that delights. The beauty and the bounty of our natural world awakens our most loving and protective instincts to be responsible stewards of this jewel of a planet. When we look into the eyes of someone we love and see the light of their soul shining back, it triggers our respect and compassion for all humanity. I hope with time you will come to appreciate your own beauty- the beauty that comes when you align yourself with your highest, most loving and most authentic self!

No matter where you are on your spiritual journey I hope you will treat yourself generously and compassionately, realize that your pace is just right, that you are perfect in your imperfections and that there has never been a better time to do the work and to come into the power and magnificence of your true self.

The next three steps to inner peace will be coming soon. For now I hope these four will help bring more awareness, peace and acceptance of where you are in life now. 

PS Enjoy this little video that I call Butterfly Love- sorry it is a little blurry and they get lost a bit in the grass, but then again, they deserved a little privacy!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The New Path

Peace Soul Card by B. Upton
We are undergoing a renaissance of spirit that will  forever change the way we view the earth, others and ourselves. We are leaving behind the old- based on separation, scarcity, exploitation and fear and ushering in the new that is founded on connection, abundance, reverence and love.

Evolutionary leaps in consciousness are birthed out of difficult times like these. We are now being presented with two clear paths. There is the path of the old that mistrusts, sees "the other" as the enemy and fouls and destroys our earth. In our nuclear/technological age, this path will eventually lead to our co-annihilation- by war, global changes or both. Many are understandably distraught by this. For the first time in the history of humankind we are not guaranteed a future. No wonder the use of antidepressants is through the roof! It can feel bleak, until we see that there is another path shining before us.

It is the New Path of remembering that not only are we are not alone, but we are also loved just as we are. This epiphany helps us to remember that just as we have worth and inherent dignity, so do all the people of the world, our human family. We connect to the sacredness and unity of all life and passionately take on our roles as stewards of our beautiful earth. We connect to our true essence which is unconditional and everlasting love. From this place of radical self-acceptance and healing self-love we are free to joyfully co-create the heaven our earth was meant to be.

If this sounds too lofty or unreachable- then this is the place for you! Because we will be sharing what has helped people to find more inner peace, joy and love in their lives. If you already feel a deep connection to your deepest and most loving self then this is also the place for you! Please share what has helped you to remember who you really are!

I'll be talking about the first Four Steps to Inner Peace tomorrow! Let's help one another to wake up, be kind, give our gifts and live our magnificent selves!