Breathe & Keep Up

Live your best life, one breath at a time

Observe

‘notice, see, note, perceive, discern, detect, spot’


There are voices in my head. So many.

You ask me what I’m thinking, my opinion, how that made me feel, how my day was, and I want to tell you, I want to be honest – but I’m confused.

I don’t know which voice to listen to, which one is the truth?

There are voices based on past experiences, insecurities, preconceptions, deep attachment to the roles I play. Other voices based on something deeper, voices from the soul. But how do I discern?

Awareness has blessed (and sometimes it feels like cursed) me with the ability to observe and hear more voices.

Instead of only hearing the loudest, most rehearsed voices, I can sense the softer ones as well. I pause to hear what they are all saying.

The loud one is telling me to express how angry I am. The softer one murmurs something about this anger not being a story worth telling. ‘Let it go’, it whispers, ‘that story is old, that line of thinking is played out‘. ‘Let it go’ it says more loudly because it senses that it has my attention.

This new voice draws me, I’m pulled towards it but I also feel stuck.

I’m scared. While the new line of thinking feels right, I don’t know how to act. What is the appropriate behaviour with this thought?

I pause some more.

I feel fear.

I will be acting in ways people are not used to. What if they laugh at me? What if I’m humiliated? What if they think less of me? reject me?

But if I go back to my old ways, the old story, the same old behaviour, then this fresh voice may disappear, and along with it the seed of living according to my values, aligned to truth, growth, and love.

I am still and silent. I feel like this is awkward and uncomfortable for those around me.

But I must continue to wait and notice. It’s all becoming an experiment. I feel innovative, creative, I feel a birthing.

But after some more stillness, fear wins…this time. I act in the old way, attached to a rehearsed identity. It’s comfortable, safe, known.  I won’t lose anything. But what will I gain?

The experiment continues, the new voice does not disappear and courage grows to try it fresh next time.

The voice of your truth. Practice listening and it will practice speaking until it gets so loud that courage is no longer required to act accordingly.

Tantrum

‘an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.’


I like getting what I want. I want you to read my mind.

What’s that? I can’t have that 24-7, 100% of the time?

Ok, cue tantrum: closed off body, cold, unresponsive, brows furrow slightly, eyes give a look that could pierce steel and make you feel like you’re the scum of the earth, and a few sarcastic and defensive comments to close the show.

Now can I have what I want?

Still no eh? Damn…well time for me to walk (scratch that, run) away.

I’ve gotten pretty good at reflecting after an emotional incident. I journal, I meditate, I talk to people I trust and respect. But during the incident, in the throes of being triggered, well I’m just beginning to learn to pause during such an episode to see what is happening, to be the observer.

The findings are fascinating. Here’s what I have noted about my behaviour:

I become a child.

I may not stomp my feet, throw things, bite people or scream but I sure feel like it sometimes.

A child’s tantrum can be accepted, they are learning to manage emotions, to communicate their needs, to understand their surroundings and to interact with others. Parents take deep breaths, and through amazing patience and love, guide the child out of the tantrum. They distract them, hug them, sometimes give in, and sometimes explain the options.

I, on the other hand, am far from a child. And yet at times I really struggle to separate myself from my emotions, to recognize my needs, and communicate them effectively.

I take no responsibility.

During a tantrum I take no accountability for my reaction. It is the other person’s fault and I believe they should do everything in their power to fix it.

I am stuck.

I find it next to impossible to snap out of it. I can feel that it’s harmful to stay in the triggered state. I certainly don’t feel good and I can see that I’m not making others around me feel good either. And yet, I remain frozen, paralyzed, unable to snap out of it, waiting desperately for someone else to come to my rescue.

So what to do?

Here are the steps I use to notice the tantrum and come out of it.

Be aware and call it out.

When you notice yourself heading into a tantrum, call it out to yourself. Mentally say “I am triggered from what just happened”. Calling it out and being specific helps the mind to see it as something separate to work with instead of being completely engaged and taken by it.

Recognize the stress response.

The body responds very quickly when it feels threatened. We skip past the rational thinking part of the brain and go straight to the protective part that tells us to freeze, flee, or fight. This evolutionary response that was designed to protect us from physical threat, reacts the same to emotional threat.

Note all the physical responses that are wired into the nervous system: the tightened muscles, the closed off stance, the increased heart rate, the rapid breath, and the desire to run.

Take a few deep breaths. Relax the muscles that feel tight. Bring the body into an open posture, roll the shoulders back, uncross the arms and keep them by your side. Take a few more breaths.

See the spinning story and the fear.

How are you at risk in this situation? How does not getting what you want threaten you?

Does the situation risk making you feel unaccepted? unworthy? unattractive? unloved?

Know that this is simply the play of the ego. Nothing external can impact your worth unless you allow it to.

It is the meaning that we attribute to the occurring event that creates the volatility. Usually, the meaning we have attributed to the situation is not true and in the event that it is true, it doesn’t come close to defining our entirety or anyone else’s.

Come to your own rescue and respond wisely.

The opportunity lies in responding from a place of worthiness, compassion, and love instead of fear. Only you can do the work to find that place inside yourself. Others can inspire you, give you tools, they can help, but you have to show up, be courageous, and do the work to connect deeper, see your stuff, and heal old wounds.

In my experience, responding wisely takes a lot of work and discipline but it is completely worth it. The alternative is that we keep reacting based on fear and insecurity, ceasing to evolve into our highest potential, the best version of ourselves, where we experience deeper connection, joy, and peace.

Ma

‘Unconditional love and sacrifice’


 

“Ma”

I have called out this word celebrating laughter and joy.

I have called out this word to comfort my tears, anger, frustration, sickness, and pain.

I have called out this word when my mother was not even close enough to hear it.

It is a word that soothes me because it represents an infinite presence of love and healing.

Ma is an energy.

An energy you feel in the ocean, among the trees, and in the earth that carries us and replenishes us.

A humbling energy that is nurturing, accepting, supporting, listening, caring, and holding.

Ma is grace, simplicity, and joy.

Ma is timeless wonder and magic.

Ma gives birth to new life, connection, awareness, and growth.

Ma, you bring me back to humility and softness when I have gotten caught up in the illusion of proving myself to the world.

You have taught me what a home is. You show me that it’s not the big things done once, but the little things done consistently that create a cozy and safe place for your loved ones.

You remind me of the simple pleasures found in good company and laughter.

Ma, your bright smile is a painted picture on my soul.

Connecting with the memories of your loving touch is what aligns me into living and giving from my heart.

Your prayers and dreams grow my fire to live consciously.

You are a force unparalleled.

Ma, I ask for your forgiveness for any pain I have caused as I was learning to find myself and I ask for your pre-forgiveness because I’m not nearly done on this journey of awakening.

I ask for your forgiveness even though I know you have already given it to me for lifetimes.

I bow to you, Ma, in deep reverence and gratitude.

 

 

 

Hold

‘grasp, clutch, cling to, keep, carry’


 

I had a tight grip on you for so long.

My arms, my hands, they were tired… and yet I couldn’t bare to let go.

I was scared.

If I let go…If I let you go, I would lose everything you brought into my life. Everything you made me feel. Everything you allowed me to believe about myself.

I held on tightly because if you were to go, what would be left? How would I know that I’m strong, attractive, capable, if you weren’t here to remind me?

In reality, we parted a long time ago. We were no longer an us. We hadn’t been us for years.

But it didn’t matter, my mind held on to your image of me.

My mind clutched onto your words of encouragement, my back ached to feel your hands supporting me, my heart expanded when reminded of your love. My shoulders relaxed with the knowing of your presence.

Even then, I moved forward, new people, places, risks, I thought I was making it, people admired my strength…but I kept glancing back…and like a child exploring her environment for the first time, I felt comforted in seeing you behind me. When I fell, I would hold the pieces in my hand and come to you. You patiently put me back together so I could venture out again.

Why would I walk away from that? Because there was a knowing, a quiet hum of a voice that told me that I needed to walk alone, that I needed to experience nothing before I could experience everything.

How did I walk away? One small, painful, challenging, courageous step at a time…

The truth is that it wasn’t about you. You were a messenger. It made me sad to think of it this way. I wanted to hold on to the romantic version of it all.

The truth is that you were a fire starter, a match, an igniter, your presence was to shine light on my soul. Your departure was to teach me how to keep the fire going, how to make it stronger myself.

Instead of understanding this, I searched for your replacement. I urgently moved from one distraction to the next. I grasped at the fillers, nothing was too small, I was thirsty for validation, for love. But even when the external ego boosters were abundant, I remained unquenched.

Here and there people came into my life to remind me to stop running, to sit still, to wake up. Here and there I caught a glimpse in the mirror of the young girl I used to be…but more often than not, I couldn’t look at her, I couldn’t hold her innocent, sweet, playful gaze. She just wanted to spend time with me and I deserted her, over and over.

Then one day it hit me. I share love with my family, my friends, I hug them, kiss them, I think of them fondly, I listen to them, I honour their beauty, their strengths, I empathize with their fears – and yet I wasn’t able to do any of this for myself.

So I crawled over to the big mirror in my room, I looked in and I held her gaze. Through tears I apologized and I promised not to leave. Through tears I laughed. I laughed because it all felt so silly, so cheesy, and yet I couldn’t look away.

I wrapped myself in a big hug.

This was the start of my journey home.

This was the start of releasing the grip, of my muscles relaxing, this was me waking up, looking in.

I kept at it, I talked to myself. I sat with myself. I learned how to be a better friend to myself.

My steps got steadier and in time looking into myself replaced looking behind me.

Are you taking the time to really look at yourself, to really talk, to really feel?

Are you holding your own gaze?

There is so much love for you and the abundance starts in your own eyes.

Light

‘illuminate, make visible, understanding a problem or a mystery’


Being woken from a deep sleep to the bright light peeking through the curtain. Sometimes we turn towards the sunlight and get energized by its brightness shining through. Other times, the light is unwelcome, we pull the cover over our face, reach for the eye mask or turn the other way.

This readiness versus resistance to light is played out in all parts of our lives.

The light of knowledge, clarity and growth is not always received with open arms. Maybe we don’t feel ready to leave the dark corner, we don’t want to see where we’re stuck, we don’t want to change, we’re tired and scared.

In these times of resistance, we get a certain sense of comfort staying in the darkness a little longer.  This is okay with the light, it’s not enemies with the darkness, the two work together as one would not exist without the knowledge of the other.

The light allows us time in the darkness, to understand our pain, to relate to hurt, suffering, disappointment. It gives us space to consider the pain of others, to build compassion and connection with others. It sits unwearied hoping we will take the opportunity to acknowledge our struggle and realize the ripe opening for growth.

The light is patient, resilient, and untiring.  It will always find its way through the shadows to reach you, heal you, love you and give you strength.

But still at times we feel as though we’ve been deserted, as if the light has forgotten all about us – this is never true.

In the moments we feel abandoned, we can ask for help. We can ask the light to guide us and support us. It will always show up.

The light presents itself in different forms…an inner voice, a smiling friend, a helpful stranger, a hug, a good book, an easing of tension, a flow to the day.

But we have come to take the light for granted. We have created an imbalance in the play of darkness and light. In focusing more on darkness, on hardship, on victim-hood, the light comes and goes unnoticed.

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  Look up, down, around, look IN. The light is there, see it, feel it, hold it in your hands and protect it like the delicate flame of a candle.

Surrender into the warmth of light.  Revel in the seen that can no longer be unseen. Sigh into the awareness that is the gift of life.

Carry the light, spread the light, BE the light.

Break

‘separate into pieces as a result of a blow, shock or strain’


Sometimes I feel like even a gentle breeze could knock me over.

Every now and again I feel like simply catching someone’s eye could make me burst into tears.

There exist moments where everything stings, everything burns, everything hurts.

I once felt shame when such sensitivity took over my body. I fought ferociously against the giant wave that felt relentless in trying to bring me down.

I would plant my feet stronger to fight the force.

I would avoid eye contact and steady my gaze on anything that couldn’t look back.

These tactics served a purpose – I appeared outwardly tough, confident, unbreakable, unfazed, strong.

But inwardly, I felt tension from resisting what I was feeling.

Inside, I felt stuck from not releasing what was struggling to come out.

Deep down I felt angry at the people that made me feel imbalanced, I felt critical against myself for letting other people affect me like this.

Then there came a time when the force was too strong.  I couldn’t find the ground under my feet, I couldn’t steady my gaze, there was no holding firm.

So I broke.

My shoulders hunched, my legs curled in, my arms wrapped around me, my head fell towards anything that would catch me and I cried. I didn’t resist, I let go, I released until there was nothing left. I felt a complete emptying. And for the first time in my life, I paused here. I held still.

In this holding I became acutely aware of pain and suffering, my own and that of others. I felt so sensitive to the sensations in my body, to each breath, time slowed and thoughts faded into nothingness. I felt sadness and joy at once. I felt naked, raw, connected to everything and attached to nothing.

I felt empty.

It was in this place of hollow vacancy that everything became available. I knew that I had emptied the old, stagnant, stuck energy, so that the new, fresh, vibrant energy would have room to make roots.  So here I moved slowly and purposefully to hand pick what would fill the space, focusing on seeds of love, healing, compassion and expansion.

Now I try to listen to my body and when the wave feels like it’s about to take over, I don’t fight it – I surrender. Sometimes I’m by myself and sometimes with trusted loved ones.

It’s not always easy – I am constantly challenged by my long standing definitions and beliefs around strength, weakness, reputation and what it really means to be vulnerable. I had grown so accustomed to denying, ignoring, pushing away the ‘negative’ emotions of sadness, anger, loneliness while welcoming and placing a pedestal underneath the ‘positive’ emotions of happiness and joy. Over time, I realized that in denying certain emotions, I was denying parts of myself. I wasn’t accepting all of me, I wasn’t loving all of me – yet I expected others to accept and love me completely.

In surrendering to all of my emotions, I feel a sense of freedom and gratitude. I feel unbound by conditioned responses that were holding me back and I feel grateful to experience love and compassion towards myself and others – a connection to humanity that is indescribable.

So my dear friends, without judgment, without apologizing, break, purge, release, throw it out, get it out, LET GO.

Make space, be curious, and slowly, with purpose, plant the seeds that nurture, love, and heal.

Lots of love to you.

‘Willing’

‘ready, prepared, inclined’

I am willing to change.

I am willing to live my purpose, to nurture the calling inside me that cries to be freed.

I am willing to drop the story, release the limiting beliefs, purge the anger and sadness that I carry as toxins throughout my body.

I am willing to stop doing the same things and expect different results.

I am willing to see more clearly.

I am willing to shed, to scrub, to strip away the layers, to be raw, to be free.

I am willing to surrender, to let go of having to control everything.

I am willing to feel safe, here and now, no matter what.

I am willing to let go of what doesn’t serve me anymore.

I am willing to heal.

I am willing to change.

I am willing to see you as me, them as you, to let our souls dance together.

I am willing to merge into something bigger, much much bigger.

I am willing to trust that it’s all working out, that it’s all happening for a reason.

I am willing to see myself, and you, and them through eyes of love and not fear.

I am willing to come out of my mind, out of the stories and come into my body, into energy, into consciousness.

I am willing to do what scares me for the purpose of growth, for the purpose of raising awareness, consciousness and peace.

I am willing to connect with the happiness, wholeness, perfection, limitless love that is already within me and to stop seeking it out externally.

I am willing to change. I am willing to be patient.

I am willing.

Love.

‘an intense feeling of deep affection’


Read this to someone you love, read this to your self.

From you, To you, Love, Love Love.


I love you.

I want to wrap my arms around you and give you a warm, unrushed, close, tight hug.

I want to smile my biggest smile for you. Teeth showing, slightly crooked, forming wrinkles under my eyes, cheeks bunching up.

I smile this big for you because I’m happy you’re here.

I smile this wide for you because you make this world different and better.

I smile this long for you, because when I do, you smile too, you can’t help it and I like when we smile together.

My eyes look at you with curiosity because you never cease to amaze me.

My eyes look into yours, which makes you look away at times, because it can be hard to be seen.

You don’t always see what I see. You would shake your head when I say how intelligent, how unique, how talented you are. You think I say this to everyone so it can’t possibly be genuine or true about you. You think I’m too positive, being dramatic, caught up in a moment – but I’m not. I feel this way about you all the time. Even when you are upset with me and I wonder if you see me, understand me, or know that I’m still here.

I think of you. Sometimes I start smiling or laughing remembering something you said or did and I feel so grateful to be in your life.

I wish you could hear how I speak of you to others. You would feel embarrassed maybe, but I get so excited to share all the amazing things about you. I could go on and on.

I think of your strength, of all the different things you have been through, your resilience, your resolve, your ability to brush yourself off and get back on your feet.

It hurts me when you doubt yourself, when you feel guilt, shame, sad, regretful. You probably don’t know that long after we’ve spoken I think about how crazy it is that you carry these thoughts because I see how bright you shine and I don’t want you to dim that light, not even for an instant.

I see people looking at you. I like standing back and watching you be YOU. When you let it all out and I get to see the awe and the inspiration in the faces looking back at you.

I know our relationship won’t always look the same. Life may take us in different directions. I may not always be fortunate enough to hear you, see you, smile for you.

But it doesn’t matter. I will always be here. And if you pause for a moment you will feel my presence, my energy, my love.

No parameters, no limits, no wavering, today, tomorrow, forever, I love you.

‘Transition’

‘the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another’

Our lives are filled with periods of change. There are ones deemed exciting: starting a new promising career, entering a new relationship, moving to a better home or city. And then there are changes we find more difficult, being let go from a job, losing a loved one, dealing with an illness.

It’s much easier to be present in the big moments, the exciting ones, the ones that stimulate all the good feelings. But what about the tough moments? The sad or angry ones? And the seemingly insignificant or mundane moments? We tend to want to escape during the challenging times. We reach for distractions and look to be anywhere but the uncomfortable.

Why is our approach to transitions important?

Because everything is in this moment.

The teacher, the lesson, your growth, it’s in this moment – if you’re not here, you’re missing it.

What does that even mean?

Let’s start with the most tangible. Your physical body is always talking to you, it’s sending messages all the time but you have to be aware. A headache, a sore neck, butterflies, a tight chest, a runny nose – sometimes we don’t notice them until they’ve gotten unbearable and at other times we just shrug them off:

“whatever”   “it’ll pass”    “it’s no big deal, I’m used to it”

But these are signs form the body that something is not in balance.

Your emotions are messengers too.

Joy is your right, if you’re feeling anything but that, pay attention, it’s trying to tell you where you’re out of alignment. The so called ‘negative’ emotions – sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy – we tend to supress them, hide them, wish them away, but while they’re uncomfortable, they’re also a gift.

We read signs in the weather, in politics, in relationships, in others, but we shy away from ourselves.

Why? It can be scary.

So what do we do?

Know that we don’t have to love it to explore it.

The point or the objetive isn’t to smile and be happy for anything difficult that comes our way. The point is to be aware of everything that comes up, to face it with curiosity instead of judgment and be willing to see what the lesson is.

There is room, there is space to hold the pain and the opportunity.

Recognize and reflect on the transitions in your past.

Consider your past. The challenging transitions in your life, the moments, days, weeks you may have spent wishing away instead of also recognizing the blessing that lay hidden. What did you learn from those times? How did they make you stronger? How are you better off today for having gone through them?

Be here, be willing.

As life goes on and you encounter the tough moments, the uncomfortable, the uncertain or the mundane – be still – still the body, deepen the breath and  bring your awareness to where you feel unease in the body. Keep breathing deeply and try to relax the parts of the body that feel tight, unsettled. Do the best you can.

Now notice the feelings that come up, sadness? anger? frustration? Allow them to come up and out – find a safe space to write it out, scream, cry, punch a pillow, shake it out.

E-motions are energy in motion, keeping them pent up, contained, will only create more pressure later on.

Once you feel a release, a calming, then be willing – be willing to see more than the pain, be willing to see the growth, see the opportunity. You don’t have to work hard at it, and don’t expect an answer immediately. Just be willing.

Know you’re not alone.

I am constantly challenged by transitions in my life. I continue to remind myself that I am never done growing and so each of the tough moments in my life, the trying ones, the hands up in the air “why  me?”“why again?”“please, not now” moments, they are here for a reason and so I keep recommitting to feeling all of it, to opening myself up instead of shutting down, to being willing. It’s hard but so worth it. Because with the growth comes more resilience, more love, more compassion, more calm. Know that I’m committed and finding my way along this journey with you and so are many, many others.

Be here, be willing, do the best you can, it is enough and so are you.

‘Scarcity’

‘being in short supply, insufficiency, a sense of lack’

The feeling that you have been waiting for your turn while everyone else has been basking in glory.

Wealth, wisdom, health, success, love, beauty.

The feeling that you’ve had it tough and everyone else seems to get it so easy.

Do you ever feel the rush to achieve it NOW?

Notice all the other people with it and think, “I’m just as deserving as they are, if not more!”

Feeling the urgency of our desires, the feeling that time is running out.

There is a part of this feeling that is healthy, the burning desire, the thirst, the hunger to realize our dreams, it propels us forward.

But there is another part of this feeling that has us racing against time, doubting ourselves, thinking, “If I haven’t got it yet then maybe I never will?”

Maybe I don’t deserve it? Maybe it’s too late? Maybe I’m not good enough?

So where do we go from here?

We build awareness.

Begin to take notice: where does the mind run to when you start to feel the scarcity?

The feeling of lack often results in panic, we may feel anxious, frozen, stuck, limited and small.

In the moment of panic, we often go in one of three ways – run to distraction, allow the ego to take over, or recognize and act from a place of abundance.

Each of the three options may still propel us forward and allow us to achieve our goals, but the last one, recognizing and acting from a place of abundance, this option ensures success, growth and it supports not only ourselves but those around us.

Let’s examine each one:

Running to distraction

Feeling panic isn’t a pleasant sensation and so we move towards what is pleasant, to what is comforting, distracting – it can come in many forms: talking to others, exercising, spending, sleeping, consuming alcohol, drugs, food, tv.

Allowing the ego to take over

To escape feeling small the ego will often begin to rationalize. We may start to belittle and criticize others to make ourselves feel better – make them small to make ourselves feel big. All of this happens so fast, we barely notice that we’ve given power to the ego to make us feel grand or ghastly in comparison to others.

It may sound like this:

“They may be good at X but they’re lacking in Y and Z.”

“Everything was handed to them, I actually have to work hard.”

“I could do that so much better than them.”

But using the ego in this capacity, as our coach, our pep talk – it’s temporary, a quick fix, a band-aid. Imagine a world where we all kept thinking this way about each other. We may see how it could create animosity, separation and power struggles.

Recognizing abundance

There is a profound shift that takes place when we start living with the belief, the knowing, that we deserve good things, great outcomes, that there is more than enough for everyone.

We begin to see that the lack, the scarcity, it has nothing to do with there not being enough opportunities, enough money, enough good people, it has to do with the perception we have of ourselves.

At some point in our lives we unconsciously interpreted a particular experience to mean that we were undeserving, not good enough, and this created a belief system that continues to replay in our lives.

Maybe someone didn’t share with us, include us, invite us, someone scolded us, hurt us. Can we consider that what happened to us was not personal? That what the other person did was propelled by their own story and journey and had nothing to do with what we deserved.

Exploring our current belief patterns allows us to break down the ones that are unproductive and consciously introduce the notion that we have always been, and always will be deserving of great things. In thinking abundantly we are able to celebrate the successes of others without feeling slighted ourselves.

What things, events, people have come into your life in the last week, month, year that have made you smile, laugh, feel happy?

What experiences have come into your life in the last week, month, year that have propelled growth? Strength? Knowledge?

Spend some time accumulating a list, visualizing each one in your mind and remembering, re-inviting the feeling they brought and allowing it to fill your heart.

These things, events, people, experiences, this is life showing you that you’re being supported, showing you that abundance has always been yours. We think abundantly to invite more abundance.

The ego will continue to speak up and assert itself but by noticing its workings instead of engaging in it, your relationship with the ego can change. Notice the ego wanting to compare, criticize and then actively, with purpose and intention, chose to break old belief patterns and replace them with the notion of abundance!