Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silence really is golden


Yesterday I spent the majority of my day not speaking. No it wasn't a silent treatment directed at my husband, but a series of exercises in pure blissful stillness. I am rounding out my 8th and final week of a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class based on John Cabit Zinn's curriculum and approach to meditation. The class has been an eye opening experience on how many of us (myself very much included) get skillfully good at going through our days on auto-pilot. Everything from the way we eat to the way we drive can become incredibly zoned out. The exercises I participated in yesterday were something I did not ever envision myself sitting through so peacefully. Which led me to the realization that I am behind in checking off one item on my life list: Learn the Art of Meditation.

Here is what I now know to be true about meditation:

You don't "learn" to meditate. Meditation is not a destination. It is a practice. It is not a skill, it just is what it is.

Meditation is about being gentle with yourself and what you can do in this moment. There are no "shoulds."

Taking a walk through the woods listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and noticing the color of the grass is a meditation.

Sitting quietly in your car focusing on one breath, then another.....and then another before stepping out into your busy day is a meditation. 

Placing your attention on your toes and breathing with that tiny part of your body is a meditation. 

Eating your food one slow bite at a time, tasting, feeling, smelling and seeing is a meditation.

Meditation is not about thinking about absolutely nothing, but instead an opportunity to compassionately reel yourself back in as your mind slips away.

You see, what I've learned over this past year is that I do in fact already have everything inside of me I need to know to practice meditation. Every day life is a meditation if you allow it to be. If you practice noticing, sensing, feeling then you are practicing a form of meditation. Something I was not aware of when I was plunking down wishes on my life list. I realize now it isn't a skill that can be learned but an artful practice that occurs moment to moment to moment every day of our lives. 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Musings

Frosty Fall Colors

5 things I love about this time of year:
  • Getting to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a movie or a book
  • Hot tea any time of day
  • The bright red color of our Maple tree in the back
  • Sneaking Halloween candy before it is time to hand it out
  • The crispness of the morning frost, weaving its beautiful intricate pattern on the Earth
What about you?

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    A Sunday Walk

    Congratulations to Alison B. for winning the Goddess necklace! It will be on its way to you this week! I do love having giveaways here and am filled with so much gratitude that you all stopped by to visit this week.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    A Goddess Giveaway

    I want to share with you a little story about a day I stepped out of my comfort zone. While attending a local open house art event I was blown away by a certain woman's work. All of her necklaces were beautiful Goddesses. Molded into every which way and all of them unique. Upon seeing me drooling over her Goddesses the artist came and introduced herself to me. I gushed over her talent and took her brochure. I could have walked out happily with my purchase but I didn't. Something was pulling at me, intuitively, to keep in contact with this woman. So I walked back over to her as we were leaving and gave her my card. I had no reason to do this other than I just felt like I needed to. It was completely out of character for me. I did have her contact info but probably would not have been brave enough to reach out after that moment had passed. Thankfully the next day I had a sweet email waiting for me in my inbox. I'm so grateful she got in touch with me because now I have a beautiful and talented new friend to share my passions with.

    Paige has very generously created a Goddess specifically for me to give away here on Altered Muse. She is called the Goddess of Dance and her card reads: This Goddess assists you with your freedom of expression. She is beautiful and I know whoever gives her a new home will adore her knowing she was crafted with love and best of intentions weaved into her little body. Please visit Paige's website, Holding Space, to see more of her work.

    To enter, please leave a comment along with a way to contact you. I will ship worldwide. This weekend I will randomly select a winner and notify you. The last day to enter is Friday, October 21.

    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Practicing Gentleness

    Embracing Nature

    This past month I have been searching for ways to practice self-love. It isn't easy. I wish I could come here and write a genuinely fluffy post about how I love every inch of my body but quite frankly lately I'm just not feeling it.

    Over one year ago I underwent a surgery for what I hoped would solve some major health issues I was having. One of the side effects from the surgery was weight loss due to me being unable to eat much for quite awhile. It was fantastic! I loved how quickly the pounds flew off. I weighed myself EVERY day to see where I was at and how I was doing. I bought new clothes, then a few weeks later bought some more after dropping yet another size. I think in the end I lost 3o pounds and 3 dress sizes. Fast forward to this month where 20 of those pounds have come back along with 2 whopping dress sizes. It isn't fun and it sure as heck isn't loving. I'm buying clothes in reverse now and weeping as I pack up the ones from last year that absolutely will not fit today.

    I am working little by little on how to care for this body I have and practice gentleness with it. I need to approach this with love and respect. I need to find that space inside where I can be okay. I work out weekly (though probably not as much as I could be). I eat reasonably well (I even gave up soda!). I see my Naturopath doctor every week to hopefully start resolving some of the ongoing health issues I still have. Most importantly I have started on a deep soul-searching journey with the help of a very wise woman here locally. But all of that doesn't make it easy. It doesn't heal the pain I feel when I see my muffin top sneaking out in photos or when I am having an extremely bad health week and my stomach bloats out to the size of early pregnancy.

    So today I can start with the first step. That is accepting where I am right in this very minute and letting that be enough.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    There is a moment

    The Girl

    There is a moment
    when the girl who has it all held together lets go.

    There is a time
    when she forgets the restrictions of how she is supposed to act and what she is supposed to say.

    There is a feeling
    of freedom as she smiles and soaks in the melodious sound of joy around her.

    There is a realization
    of the laughter that comes rushing out after being locked away in its secret place.

    There is a glow
    that appears in her eyes when the deepest part of her is summoned outward.

    There is a blissful calm
    that reverberates deep in her soul as she lets it all be so.

    This is the moment
    when the girl who has it all held together lets go.

    Words inspired by prompts from Liz. Polaroid from Vivienne's class at Create Magic. Dedicated to all of you who were there to share in the magic and those of us who want to let go.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    We walk again and again...


    As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.   ~Henry David Thoreau

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Pure Magic

    Standing in my path

    I've just returned home from my third retreat this year. Flying home yesterday I felt that familiar feeling of coming away from something incredible. Create Magic hosted by Liz Lamoreux was pure, sweet magic. At every retreat I have attended this year I found myself cracking open just a little more. This time the crack was large. I came home feeling so full of joy and love. There were moments (after the tears) where I would hear myself laughing and think: "wow, I'm really laughing out loud!" Those of you who have been with me awhile know this is my word for the year and I truly feel like I got there this week.

    Sacred Altar

    I find myself easing up just a little more every time I step out into a group and say: "YES!" It is taking these chances on vulnerability and new situations that really pushes me forward to the connection I have been seeking for so long.

    Where the Magic happens

    Thank you to Vivienne McMaster for helping me let go of the expectations from my camera and photos for just a bit and play. Thank you Mindy Lacefield for rekindling my love of painting through your genuine encouragement. Deep, deep down I so want to be that girl who paints and maybe someday I will. Thank you Kelly Barton for keeping us all nourished and taken care of. I wish I could take you home with me! Thank you Liz Lamoreux for creating such a sacred, safe place for connection and community. I will never tire of listening to your voice gently guiding us along. Finally, thank you to all the beautiful ladies who opened your hearts to me and shared your stories. All of you made this retreat magic!

    More photos coming soon!