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A Compassionate Warrior

Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion,...

Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, 16th century image from Japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many people in our country and around the world who are feeling the effects of recent events. The vibration of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. has reached far and wide. I have been wondering what I could do from my little corner of the world. Of course, I have been sending love and positive energy to all who are in need. As a group on Friday night, my friend led us through a beautiful meditation helping us to bring love and compassion to this situation and releasing some of our fear, anger and anxiety. She talked about the situation being a dark space and letting our light shine through the darkness. It was very healing. Saturday I cried. A lot. The more I learned about what had taken place, the more shaken I was. I believe the best thing for me to do (besides hold my children super tight) is to keep my heart open, to continue to cultivate compassion, and to continue to strengthen my body. The combination of these three elements will hopefully contribute to me becoming a compassionate warrior. My idea of a compassionate warrior is someone who actively looks for ways to bring more love into the world. It is someone who will stand up for peace and shine so brightly that the dark spaces become a little less scary. Keeping my heart open will allow love to flow easily. Cultivating compassion will allow me to connect with people and situations through kindness and tolerance. A strong, healthy body allows me to do my work at an optimal level.

We can all be our own compassionate warrior, shining our light brightly for all to see. This, of course, was the theme for my yoga class this morning. We practiced heart openers and strong warrior poses. We practiced breathing and silence and we focused on growing a feeling of compassion for all. It was truly a beautiful, sacred space. I’m not sure if everyone felt it but I certainly did. If nothing else, my healing has begun and I have renewed faith in where I am being led.

Balancing Tip–Cultivating Compassion. We are all connected to each other and rely on one another. We are social beings who feel the most joy while in community. Cultivating compassion can not only help us to see others in a different light, but it can also help us to love ourselves more deeply. This is a practice that sometimes comes easier than others. Sit and get quiet for a minute or two. Bring a soft focus to the breath. Bring to mind someone you love that may be going through a difficult situation. Spend a few minutes feeling empathy for them and wishing them well. Notice the physical sensations that arise in the body. Next, bring to mind a more neutral person (maybe the bus driver or mail carrier, someone who you don’t have strong feelings about). Try to continue to have the same empathy and physical sensations while focusing on this neutral person. Wish them well. Finally, bring your attention to someone who brings you challenge. See if you can hold compassion for this challenging person. Wish them well. This practice can get more involved, this is just a quick beginners version. This practice is simple but not easy and may take quite some time before you are truly able to feel compassion as you move your focus away from those whom you love. I can tell you that it is worth any effort you put into this practice. This practice creates freedom. It may even help you to become a compassionate warrior.

Spring Cleaning

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I love spring! Even though I have been living in Florida for the past couple years, I can feel spring as strong as if I had just spent another winter in the Northeast. The energy in everything seems to be amplified. Colors are brighter, the dogs are friskier, and the smells are intoxicating. As much as I hate to lose the hour sleep this weekend, I really enjoy the extended time of light in the evenings. The warmer weather allows more of us to get outside and connect with nature. This is something we all need.

Many of us practice a “Spring Cleaning” ritual in our homes. Opening windows and blinds to release dirt and grime from the winter while allowing more light to shine in. This is more than the usual cleaning. We do a more detailed job in spring. We let go of items that we no longer use to make room for new things. Some of us may even polish some of our more treasured belongings so that we can see them shine and take pleasure in their beauty.

Along with spring cleaning my house this season, I have decided to spring clean myself. I don’t just mean the seasonal detox/cleanse  that I have been doing at the change of the seasons for the past couple years. I mean clean out the crap that keeps me stuck. I am talking about old beliefs, old thought patterns and habits that no longer serve me. I know I am not alone in needing this occasional “tune-up”. Over the years we have taken on ideas that were either put upon us by society or adopted by us as a defense mechanism. Either way, there comes a time when these ideas become more of a hinderance than a help. Spring is the perfect time to reflect and decide what needs to go out with the dirt and grime of winter. Let’s open ourselves up so that the Light can shine brighter inside as well as outside. Let’s not forget to appreciate and enhance all of the wonderful things we find that are working for us.

So how exactly do we do this? We start by being honest with ourselves and taking note of what is working in our lives and what isn’t. If we find an area that we consistently feel frustration or anxiety, we can be pretty sure we have some work to do there. As with any detox or deep cleanse, there is a period of discomfort while the old is moving out and we see what actually fits and feels right for ourselves. It is a time to be supportive and nurturing of ourselves. Wholesome foods, gentle exercise, periods of meditation, journaling, quiet times in nature are all great practices to help you ease into better thinking. I went to the beach this morning to put my toes in the sand. Realistically, I didn’t have that hour to spare, but knowing everything that is going on inside of me, I felt that I needed it. Because I took the time for myself, my day went much smoother than expected. I felt grounded, supported and ready to take on the tasks at hand.

I’m not sure where this spring cleaning will take me, but I am sure it will lead me closer to peace. I understand that the process of spiritual growth is a process of letting go, over and over. I don’t need anything more than I have to make progress here, but I do need to continue to strip away at what holds me back from becoming my highest potential.

Nutritional tip #7-detox. If you are new to detoxing or aren’t interested in making huge changes right away, start simple. Try to make small changes for 3 days. Eliminate alcohol, sugar, and white flour. Drink extra water. Incorporate more veggies-especially leafy greens. If you feel like you could handle a little more, lose the meat and processed foods. This is a great start and can be done without causing any stress on the body. As stated above, during any detox or cleanse, be gentle and nurturing with yourself.

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