“Breath of Life” by Danna Faulds

 
This morning I joined a guided meditation online and the teacher shared this poem that touched me deeply. A reminder that breath is a conduit into healing and wholeness, accessible in each moment. And if you’re interested in a lovely online meditation community, you might enjoy Mind Oasis. Of course, you can meditate on your own without any props or guidance, but sometimes it’s nice to connect with others who share the values of mindfulness, peace, and compassion.

I breathe in All That Is-

Awareness expanding

to take everything in,

as if my heart beats

the world into being.

From the unnamed vastness beneath the mind,

I breathe my way into wholeness and healing.

Inhalation. Exhalation.

Each Breath a “yes,”

and a letting go, a journey, and a coming home.

Springtime!

Happy equinox from Philly, where the snowbells are rioting.

Spring has definitely sprung here and today makes it official. It’s also the beginning of a new astrological year, making it a particularly good time to get clear about what you wish to create during this next spin around the sun.

What can you let go of that is no longer serving you? What beliefs need an overhaul? How can you invest your precious life force energy more wisely?

Clearing out the old helps make way for the new. If ever there was a time to brush ourselves off and make deliberate choices about the next steps forward, it’s now!

Urban Adventure Meets Ancient Wisdom

Last week I headed downtown for a change of scenery. I don’t get out of the neighborhood very often these days and I was getting a bit antsy. The bar for excitement is set pretty low right now, so I’m choosing to call this excursion an “adventure”. It’s all relative, right?!

I met a friend for an outdoor chat and then set off with several free hours and no agenda. Naturally, I was drawn to find some yummy treats on this journey. 🙂 I splurged on an organic, gluten-free, vegan cupcake that was almost as heavenly as sitting in the sunshine somewhere besides my porch for a change. Not the greatest photo, but it isn’t all that easy to balance a very dear dessert in one hand and snap a pic with the other in the middle of a public park!

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This delight inspired a tour of my other favorite dessert dispensers, and I’m sad to report that two had closed down over the past year. Sigh. But my spirits remained high because I was out of the house and had no responsibilities; so a-wandering I went. I allowed curiosity and beauty to guide my way. I’ve always found the colonial alleyways of Philadelphia to be charming, so I meandered, trying to avoid the busier streets and absorbing the essence of the hidden nooks and crannies of the city.

Which is how I stumbled upon this interactive installation, courtesy of the Mural Arts Philadelphia program.

The Atlas of Tomorrow by Candy Chang. Photo by Steve Weinik

I was perplexed that passersby kept passing by without a glance! We city-folk can be like that sometimes. But as I stopped to read the instructions and took a spin of the wheel, others began show interest. Number 17 came up for me. That’s my birthdate and chosen numerical talisman, so I wasn’t at all surprised when it popped up out of 64 possibilities.

“THE NOISY MAN: if you want to be heard, adapt to the changes of this world. Examine your opinions and prejudices. Power lies in meeting the needs of others.” This was the message conveyed by my spin on this intriguing wheel.

Exactly what I needed to hear! It was more potent after allowing a sense of wonder to navigate my adventure and after discovering the closed restaurants, which had apparently been unable to adapt to the changes of this world.

The universe is full of magic and beauty if we only pay attention and follow the guidance of spirit. I’m reminded of Joseph Campbell’s famous quote, “Follow your bliss.” Well, this path of bliss via healthy-ish cupcakes and charming alleys led me to a surprising gift and reawakened my intention to let my spirit guide the way. I can’t wait to see what appears next!

The Universe Listens

My day unfolded much differently than expected. A client wasn’t feeling well and postponed her session, allowing me to choose the course of my afternoon. I decided to do a few chores before heading to the woods for my nature therapy session. And once I was there, I felt a nudge to try a different path, hoping it might help me navigate the neighborhood while avoiding automobiles. Looking back, I now believe these seemingly random events were setting me up for a treat later.

About the time I realized that this path led me nowhere I wanted to go, I had the thought that it had been weeks since I’d seen any critters bigger than a squirrel. I sent a silent petition out to the universe to bless me with a wild animal sighting.

The wind picked up and I decided it was time to head home. Just as I crossed the bridge back into familiar territory, I heard the sound of a large body crashing through the underbrush. I was certain that it wasn’t human as we’re all treading lightly these days. The snow has melted in some spots, is melting in others, but mostly was partially melted and then frozen over, making it quite slick. Hopeful that my wish had been granted, I looked around and spotted a deer across the way.

I texted a friend that I’d sent out the request and had been granted the sight of the rump of a deer, supposing that was good enough for a Thursday afternoon. As soon as I pushed send, I saw two other white tails bobbing along. I texted again, “Make that TWO more rumps!” As soon as I pushed send, I heard a hawk screech. It’s a sound that always stops me in my tracks. I looked up to see not one, not two, but three of them circling above.

Naturally, I had to report this development as well, which earned me the reply, “The universe listened.”

Indeed it did! In fact, it’s always listening! That’s why I endeavor to speak more about what I wish to create than about what I wish to avoid. It’s easy to fill the mind with thoughts of gratitude to break the habit of focusing on the negative (which, btw is how are brains are wired. It’s a survival thing, albeit not so much helpful in today’s day and age.). Rather than thinking that I hope I don’t fall on the ice, or twist my ankle or … well, you know… I turn my thoughts to appreciation.

I’m so grateful for the boots that keep my feet warm and dry. I’m glad the sun is shining, and the days are getting longer. It’s so great that I have the opportunity to visit the woods frequently. You get the idea.

And when I’m really on my game, I remember to toss in a request for something I’d like to experience like creature sightings. And to find that missing umbrella, or perhaps even a better one, and to finish that library book before it’s due.

The icing on the cake today was the numerical message so obvious when I look back at the text thread. One, two, three. If it was followed by a four, I could interpret the series as “things are moving along” according to the oh-so-wise Laura Bruno. I had to laugh when I realized that today is the fourth of March. If I were European I’d write the date as 4/3/21.

Not only does the universe listen, but it also sends us messages. We just need to pay attention.  

Going with the (Snow) Flow, Part 2

Earlier in the week I posted about my emotional rollercoaster ride regarding the delivery of my eagerly awaited BioMat.

Rather than freaking out about the delay due to our most recent snowstorm, I chose to use Reiki to optimize my situation. So when the notification finally turned up announcing the updated ETA on the (seemingly) worst possible day, I continued to not freak out.

This level of trust in divine timing and surrender to the flow has taken years of practice and continuous application of Reiki for myself, my well-being, and all sorts of experiences. If you ask any of my Reiki students, they can attest to my devotion to using Reiki for pretty much everything! “Did you Reiki it?” is my standard response to any complaint. Be it housing, health, finances, exams, upset pets or misbehaving gadgets, Reiki helps us get in synch with the rhythms of nature and maximize our capacity to accept whatever circumstances arise and take guided action.

So much easier than struggling against bureaucracy and trying to get a supervisor on the phone to make special arrangements!

I generously distributed Reiki to the delivery, despite it being scheduled for today, the busiest day of my week. The one and only day my roommate (who generally works from home and might have been able to accept delivery in between meetings or during lunch) had an appointment downtown and was out of the house all day.

I had a break in between sessions this afternoon and did the only thing I possibly could to boost my chances of signing for my package. I went home as soon and as quickly as I could, prepared to spend the 37 minutes I had free waiting hopefully. I had barely sat down with a cuppa tea when I heard the truck outside!

That’s right! My package arrived in the very narrow window in which I was available!! In fact, I’m sitting on it right now as I type, treating my lower back to some healing heat. Once again, I’m amazed at the power of Reiki to bring me into alignment with my highest good in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you, thank you, thank you Reiki!

Going with the Snow Flow

     

Here in Philadelphia, we just had our third significant snowfall in as many weeks. It makes for a lot of rescheduling clients so they don’t drive home after a relaxing treatment on icy roads. And it’s also provided several unexpected free days. Kinda like snow days as a kid, and loads of time to spend with my beloved books. In short, the weather has been wreaking havoc on my schedule and I’m doing a pretty good job of rolling with it.

I especially enjoy my hikes as the woods are incredibly peaceful.

Until yesterday.

I’m expecting a delivery that has been delayed and have no idea how long. No big deal usually, but I need to sign for this one. When I ordered my BioMat weeks ago, I began sending Reiki to its travels all the way from Hawaii. Obviously there are lots of complications these days for such a lengthy journey, and snow is only one of them. So I turned to Reiki, and have been intending for safe and timely transport.

Last week when I learned that it was scheduled to arrive today, I was elated. At that time, I had no appointments booked and simply blocked out my calendar so I could hang out at home listening for the doorbell. Reiki at its finest! Admittedly, I was a little bit smug about my success.

Then the storm yesterday resulted in a notice that the package has been delayed, but no information as of yet as to how long it’s delayed. Curses! The rest of the week is rather full due to keeping today’s schedule vacant and all the moving clients around because of the weather.

Again, not usually a big deal, even as a dedicated pedestrian. The pick-up store is walkable. But this package is 18 pounds! Too heavy to carry, even to the nearest bus stop. Too difficult to schlep with a shopping cart as crossing every intersection on foot means climbing over a frozen slush bank created by the plows. The likelihood of finding a friend available to give me a lift in the middle of my now-full rest of the week is slim and Lyft and Uber seem rather unappealing these days.

From this perspective, it’s rather a downer. Somehow I’d forgotten about the magic of Reiki! As if the flow of life-force energy is unable to navigate a snowstorm? Puh-lease! I’m grateful I only lost a few moments of my precious life worrying about this triviality before I turned it back over to the ease and grace available when I’m connected to the flow of Reiki.

So, I still have no idea when the package is coming. I’m continuously releasing my attachment to having it arrive today as planned (after all, I’m really, really eager to experience the BioMat!) and releasing my attachment to knowing when it’s supposedly coming so I can make a plan. Instead, I’m placing my trust in Divine Timing and an intelligent and benevolent Universe.

It will get here when it gets here, and I’m certain that its arrival will be perfect in ways I can’t possibly know just yet.

Leave the Red Zone, by Dr. Rick Hanson

My inbox is quite the mixed bag today! There’s an astrology report announcing super-intense cosmic energies and a weather forecast predicting a major winter storm in my area. All this on top of so many people already struggling with cabin fever. Massive snow seems to bring out either the very best or the very worst in Philadelphians. Some people gladly shovel their neighbors’ sidewalks and others get aggressively proprietorial about parking spots. All in all, I’m expecting a very interesting next few days!

If you find yourself stressed out, overwhelmed, frazzled or irritable, you might enjoy this blog by Dr. Rick Hanson. He outlines some simple techniques for cultivating inner calm despite outer chaos. Stress has major physiological affects which can negatively affect one’s health over time. I can personally attest to the beneficial results of these methods. The more consistently I apply them, the happier I am.

Whatever the world is throwing at you, there’s help to be had for minimal investment of time and effort. Safe, easy, and free plus the side effects of improving focus, relationships, and overall wellness? It’s a no-brainer for sure!

Letting Go

I recently came across this amazing poem written by Robert Moss. I know him as The Dream Guy because his books are teaching me to access the guidance delivered through my nighttime dreams. He apparently wrote the words I’ve copied below about a dream of his own. It illustrates perfectly what I’m seeing lately in Reiki sessions and in my own life.

We’re in a tremendous transition period. As the outside world shifts and changes, we’re being called to do the same on an internal level. Clinging to outdated coping mechanisms and limiting beliefs causes great suffering. The universe is encouraging all of us to examine our choices (thoughts, words, and actions) and evaluate which are serving our highest good, which need to be tuned up or repaired, and which need to be let go of entirely.

It’s a process that requires dedication, clarity, motivation, and resilience. We must simply choose again and again to follow the soul’s guidance rather than moving toward what’s convenient, conventional, or comfortable. Sometimes they overlap, but not always. Sometimes our loved ones cheer us on from the sidelines and other times they’d prefer that we didn’t rock the boat.

I just love how the poem expresses the journey of transformation with such vivid imagery. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Robert Moss, The Man with a Corpse on His Back

When you die to the old life

you must bury it well

or you’ll stumble on

with the corpse of your old self

strapped to your back.

Bury it well and do your grieving.

Set right what can be set right

with those you hurt

and those who hurt you.

Give up the souls you’ve stolen.

Reclaim what was stolen from you.

Then walk on and don’t look back.

Others will dig up your corpse.

Not only enemies and abandoned lovers

but your very best friends.

They’ll exhume your bag of bones

and lash it to your shoulders

to prove you haven’t changed.

You’ll be dragged, down and back.

You’ll need a second wake,

a second burial.

The grave-robbers will come for you

again and again

to chain you to your dead self

until you are changed so utterly

you can only be seen

by those who have changed their eyes.

You’ll vanish into the sunlit spaces

where those who cling

to the ghost of what you were

can’t find you anymore.

“We’ve got it so good and it’s still hard.”

I was struck by the wisdom of these words overheard at the farmers’ market the other day. It’s been a rough 10 months for most of us. Pretending that it isn’t hard just because others have it harder isn’t particularly helpful. I often hear people who have the privilege of a safe and comfortable home, plenty of food on the table, and good health downplay their struggles, knowing that others are suffering more.

It’s nearly impossible to take action to improve a situation if you deny that it exists. Acknowledging that it’s hard to be separated from loved ones or restricted to one building, no matter how lovely it may be, is the first step to creating solutions- compromises probably, but something that can at least begin to fill the gaping hole where hugs from grandchildren and travel used to reside.

Admitting that these times are hard allows us to fine-tune the adjustments we wish to make. It allows us to draw on the resilience that is present, although possibly inactive, in everyone. Most of us haven’t had to endure any sort of lasting challenge like this, but our ancestors survived World Wars and The Great Depression. Clearly we come from hearty stock or we wouldn’t be alive today!

“We can do hard things.” Another sentence crammed with wisdom, this one from Glennon Doyle’s Untamed.

I’m not suggesting to exclusively shift your focus to the difficulties you are facing. Thoughts are powerful things and it pays to choose them wisely. But just as ignoring the “check engine” light on your dashboard will not lead to a perfectly operational vehicle, neither does avoiding your feelings lead to wellbeing. Just as the light is meant to motivate a visit to the mechanic, noticing your emotional state can propel you to getting the help you need.

Somewhere there is a balance between wallowing in self-pity and disregarding an unpleasant truth. Allowing ourselves to accept what is real gives us greater power to create change. Freeing up all that energy of projecting a shiny façade enables us to see more clearly how we can make the most of what we’ve got and how we might be able to assist those who have less.

Wherever you are on the difficulty spectrum, I wish you greater ease and comfort. If you’re in a position to lend a hand to another, please do so. There’s very likely a food bank or shelter or agency in your area that’s overwhelmed by demand or a neighbor who could benefit from a small act of kindness. I know from personal experience that you’ll feel better if you do and your efforts will ripple outward into the world.

Yes, it’s hard. Fortunately we can do hard things.