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<Drums Rattle Djembe Doumbek>

From Struggle to Strength

May 10th, 2018

This poem was submitted as part of National Poetry month. It is written by 15-year-old, George Ferguson. It fits into all that Toning the OM represents: mind and body meeting inner strength and possibility. I love how much George listened and learned from his own physical struggles and chose to rise up from them. His inner struggles led him to deep insights about himself. Congratulations George!

As a unique, young individual
with just the strangest issues,
physical abilities included,
from the incapability of using limbs
to being unable to keep my head screwed on my body,
led to classes,
led to lectures,
led to lessons;
bowling occurred first,
where my arms were twigs,
where they could snap at any moment,
while the ball flung from left gutter to the right,
going backwards at certain points,
and this was only part one of the project,
with my legs being the next step,
which strolled me to a path of dancing,
Irish step dancing,
where even though I had contained zero talent,
had no way of making my legs become pencils,
the people accepted me,
not only for my Irish roots,
but having a passion for wanting to become stronger than Ali,
wanting to become better than Flatley,
and that’s where the third step entered,
with my noggin latched into place,
different kinds of social issues on both ends on the spectrum,
where it became an incredible struggle,
that therapy landed right into my lap,
and even with the flaws,
the challenges,
the obstacles,
the maturity in me has risen,
and life has been a machine since the early days.

© This poem is the property of George Ferguson and permission to publish has been given by his family.

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Expired MetroCard? Expired Thoughts?

May 2nd, 2018

I found a MetroCard in my wallet last week and swiped it to see how much money was on it. The machine read, “Please see an attendant.” I walked over and asked the MTA attendant if she could check how much was on my card. After she swiped it and checked her computer she said, “Ma’am, this was a 30-day unlimited card that expired in March.” I thanked the lady and walked away with my expired card. After discarding it in the recycling bin, I realized that I had been carrying around an expired card.

Later, I looked through the rest of my wallet for other expired or outdated cards. As I finished reorganizing my wallet, I decided to check what else in my house had expired and could be thrown out. As I sat down feeling proud of getting rid of unnecessary items, I meditated on listening for thoughts and situations that had also expired and needed to be discarded. What else has expired in my life? What thoughts, beliefs, and feelings have expired that I am still carrying around? Could I let go of my disappointment and frustration? Am I carrying around anger that expired last month?

I invite you to check in and see if there is anything you are carrying (inside and out) that has expired. What has expired that is still living inside you?

Start with today. What are you still carrying around that you are willing to let go?

It’s time for a new 30-day pass.

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

What Is the Call of Your Heart?

April 25th, 2018

How can we slow down long enough to hear our own heart?

How do we return to our wild, untamed selves?

How do we make plans and stay open to serendipity?

How do we sit in uncertainty and trust that the universe will provide?

These are just some of the questions I sat with during a recent meditation. I started my meditation by taking conscious breaths. I breathed into my heart center until it expanded more and more. With each exhale, I could hear the question, “What does my Being want today?”

I listened with my whole body. I took longer pauses and was willing to sit in the quiet. I had to let go of the noise that normally fills my day. I stopped my inner world and I noticed I wasn’t as busy as I once believed. As I sat in the emptiness, emotions rose and connections to myself deepened. My meditation was a reminder to release old ways and to be open to new routines.

My invitation to you is to break some routines. Take a new path to work. Try a new food. Do something unfamiliar. Listen more.

All this inner work has allowed me to expand and co-create in new ways. I have emerged from my time in stillness with incredible meditations that I will be sharing at the upcoming Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat in Hawaii at Kalani Retreat Center, November 4 – 10, 2018.

What is the call of your heart?

Why not try something new and join us on the Big Island for the Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat at Kalani and enjoy some magnificent tropical beauty while you explore your wild, untamed heart.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

“Falling” – Lessons from My Cheer-leading Youth

April 17th, 2018

I spent four years as a cheerleader – from 5th grade through 8th grade. It gave me the chance to use my big mouth and spend time with my best friend, Julie. We would have practices on Tuesday nights and then cheer the boy’s basketball games on Friday nights.

I wasn’t the most athletic or flexible. Some of the cheerleaders could do backflips all the way down the court. Others could flip from the top of our cheering pyramid. I was petite and strong. I loved learning the cheers and wearing my white saddle shoes. I wasn’t as crazy for the skirts and pigtails.

Given my height, I was usually found in the front of the cheering line. And keeping our lines straight and smiles on our face was an important part of being a cheerleader. We also entered tournaments, which included routines and loud cheers. Part of our routine was building a cheering pyramid. By creatively combining lifts, poses and dismounts, you end up with a sort of mega stunt that often impressed the judges. I was frequently at the bottom of the pyramid. I remember my hands and knees on the floor while another girl’s knee would lean into my back as we built a three-layer pyramid.

If anyone felt like they couldn’t hold the pyramid and needed help, they were to shout, “Falling.” During one tournament, as we started to build our pyramid, I felt uncomfortable. I could feel the pressure from another cheerleader’s knee digging into my back. I wanted to hold on and keep smiling. As we continued with building the pyramid, I couldn’t hold on any longer. I shouted, “Falling.” The other cheerleaders didn’t hear me. Perhaps my shout on the inside was a whisper on the outside. Suddenly, I went down bringing the pyramid with me. No one was hurt as everyone started to properly dismantle. I remember after the tournament the coach yelling at me for not shouting “falling” loud enough for our team to hear.

Looking back now, maybe I didn’t realize how much the cheerleaders were leaning on me (literally). Maybe I am still learning the lesson of leaning on people in my life. Maybe we all need a code word when we need support. Maybe when we feel ourselves collapsing, we can shout out, “Falling.”

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Tears + Geckos – A Wild Cosmic Heart Journey

April 11th, 2018

Seven years ago, I began planning a week-long retreat that would take place on the Big Island of Hawaii. I wanted to spend a week exploring our wild cosmic heart. I had no idea that a week before the retreat a hurricane would sweep the East Coast. I had no idea that three weeks before the retreat I would have medical appointments and not feel well. I had no idea that my heart would feel so heavy and raw.

In November of 2012 as I prepared to leave for my flight, I thought of canceling – of staying home to help family and friends affected by the storm. I thought about how I would reschedule my medical appointments that were canceled due to the power outages from the hurricane. I thought about volunteering somewhere to help hurricane victims who lost everything.

When I asked friends if I should still lead the retreat, they all gave the same answer – YES. I listened and took an 11-hour flight to Hawaii. I arrived exhausted and anxious. When I arrived at my room, two large geckos were awaiting me. I barley slept my first night and, in the morning, I met with the Group Manager. She greeted me with a big hug and my eyes filled with tears.

As the week continued I knew I was in the right place (not only because it was Hawaii). I met so many people willing to explore their hearts. I met people who were open to being seen and heard. I met people who were willing to be vulnerable. As I sat and listened to the retreat participants, I became more in awe of the many people who live their life celebrating and tending to their wild cosmic heart.

I met Louise whose husband was dying of brain cancer. I met Yolanda who celebrated her 75th birthday with friends and a group of strangers. I watched Tina snorkel with joy as she swam in the warm ponds. I smiled as Angela took her first hula class. I listened to Francine remember that she can drum and sing. I took a picture of Susan sitting in her shamanic earth mandala, which she made in the roots of a huge tree. I laughed with Lisa in the water, like a teenager with the giggles.

Most of all, I remember that my heart felt open and grateful. I realized that when I open and invite others into my heart, the world expands. Many in the our sacred circle were longing for connection, community, and belonging. The Wild Cosmic Heart Retreats offers just that — deep connections through guided meditations, mindfulness walks around trees, shamanic journeying to the garden of the heart, and sacred play. In the midst of worry and responsibility, participants from around the world were willing to drop the armor around their heart.

I even befriended the Geckos, known to me as Heckle and Jeckle. The retreat was so powerful that I have taught it again and again. And this November, I will be facilitating the Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat at Kalani on the Big Island of Hawaii, November 4-10, 2018. Join us for a week of daily meditations, mindfulness walks in the luscious tropics, shamanic journeying, and homemade ice cream! What is your wild cosmic heart asking of you?

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Posted in Shamanism | Toning the Om

Spring Meditation

March 30th, 2018

Celebrating a new season means exhaling the darkness of winter and welcoming the light of spring. Springs gives us the opportunity to recognize that we too go through endless cycles of birth, growth, and rebirth. Spring is nature’s way of inviting us to open to more love.

Stepping into an invitation of more joy, more love, and more light, enjoy this meditation.

Feel free to soften your gaze, sit with your spine long and tall, and take a few soft breaths.
Inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth.
On the next inhale, breathe in a little deeper, and on the exhale, breathe out OM (AUM).

Repeat this breathing in and exhaling out OM three times.

Allow yourself to really feel everything that comes through the OM sound.

Breathing in and out, allow your experience to expand with each statement and question.

Love What Is Now. Love What Is Now.
Beloved, what is your heart saying to you in this very moment.
What seeds are you watering inside yourself?
What are you willing to grow?
What has been dormant and ready to burst into the world?

We show up with love and that is all grief needs to flow into grace.

We show up with love because in the end that’s all we really need – that’s are we really are.

Water the garden of you.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Risk Everything to Become Alive

February 27th, 2018

I have been reading a lot of David Whyte’s poetry as I plan for an upcoming retreat in Hawaii, The Wild Cosmic Heart. I have been reading about what stirs, awakens, opens, shifts, transforms, and lifts the heart. What would it take to listen to our wild cosmic heart? As Whyte wrote, “Sometimes everything has to be inscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.”

In his book, Crossing the Unknown Sea, there is a poem that speaks to becoming more visible, to risking everything to becoming alive.

“There is a lovely root to the word humiliation – from the latin word humus, meaning soil or ground. When we are humiliated, we are in effect returning to the ground of our being.”

“To die inside, is to rob our outside life of any sense of arrival from that interior. Our work is to make ourselves visible in the world. This is the soul’s individual journey, and the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s.”

I love the part of our work being about making ourselves visible to the world. What parts of ourselves are we hiding? What part of ourselves have we given over to others? If you want to explore these questions further and risk becoming more alive, then join us in Hawaii November 4-10, 2018 where we will explore the vast sea of our hearts.

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Posted in Vulnerability | Toning the Om

Hang Out With Peace

February 21st, 2018

When we connect to peace and happiness, we can discover Universal Love and Universal Compassion. We need to make the decision to go there – go to what brings us peace and happiness.

Take a few moments, and just let go and take some time to focus on what generates joy in our life. Notice that when we focus on joy, peace arises naturally. As my Buddhist teacher, Kadam Morten says, “Peace is the nature of our mind. When we pay attention to peace, it expands.” My teacher will often recommend that we hang out with our peaceful mind.

Personally, when I sit in meditation, I am reminded of my peaceful nature or my Buddha-nature. I can let go of delusions – of self-grasping and ignorance. When I open my eyes, the work of remembering that peace within continues and I must make the decision to go to the peaceful places within myself. As Kadam Morten says, “I can have a heart pervaded by peace, joy, and compassion.” He challenges us to wish for enlightenment for all loving beings without exception (bodhichitta – enlightened mind). It is a practice I am working on daily.

As Kadam Morten often says, “It’s audacious to identify with your Buddha-nature.” The idea of striving for enlightenment for the benefit of all as a way of being can feel too much. So, we start with ourselves. We carry love in our hearts as a way of being. The sun doesn’t think about radiating light – it just does it. We don’t have to think about radiating light – we can just be light. We can transform situations into peace and fuel the path to enlightenment.

We can be audacious and identify with our Buddha-nature.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

The Drum and the Dream

January 25th, 2018

Are you willing to listen to your most profound sound living in you and dream it into being?

Am launching a new shamanic teaching and journey program – the Drum and the Dream. It was time to birth new life into shamanic healing and teaching practices.

As I focused more on ways to nourish peace within myself, I meditated on nurturing a direct path to peace. This led me to my heart-center and connecting to my inner rhythm. Deep meditation and writing allowed me to relate to my personal rhythm and connect it to universal rhythms. This shamanic journey of the heart led to profound processes and my path into the Drum and the Dream.

Are you willing to expand the maximum capacity of your heart?

Perhaps by connecting to our own personal rhythm, we can relate to those around us in new ways. We can connect with our heart first and then our mind. We can connect on deeper levels, beyond the known and into the unknown and unseen world. We can meet each other with purpose. We can learn ways to release anger and open to patience acceptance. We can learn ways to relate to our own personal rhythms that live inside of us. We can step into the life we have been longing for.  

Maybe it is time to embark on a deep personal healing journey.

We are all dreaming the world into being. It is not the sleeping dream we’re familiar with, but the waking dream we craft with our eyes open. When we awaken our power to dream, we can begin to create original dreams that allow us to embrace the ever-shifting landscape with equanimity and courage.

Welcome to the Drum and the Dream!

We will be offering the Drum and Dream shamanic teaching and journeys who will share more specifics of the processes and practices you will learn in the Rhythms of the East workshop/training starting in April 2018. 

** Also, save the date: the Drum and the Dream Shamanic Retreat: Rhythms of the East will be held at Menla Retreat Center in the Catskills, September 28-30, 2018.

 

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Posted in Shamanism | Toning the Om

Tiny Steps

January 16th, 2018

On a recent trip to Florida, I met up with my friend, Evonn. We walked around the beautiful Morikami Japanese Gardens. As we walked around the gardens, Evonn shared a story about slowing down. Evonn was helping her grandchildren get ready for school and wanted to be sure they caught their school bus on time. Her five year old grandson, Charlie, was in no rush as he wandered around the house at his own pace. Evonn was making sure his socks and shoes were on as they walked to the front door. Charlie came to a stop. He looked up at Evonn and said, “Tiny steps.” The pace slowed down and Evonn and Charlie walked to the door taking tiny steps. It was a lesson in being present and slowing down. In a time when everyone seems to be rushing around, a five year old child reminds us to stop and pay attention. Take tiny steps. Be present. Slow down. Be.

Evonn shared with Charlie over the holidays that she liked his “tiny steps.” Charlie responded, “Oh, I don’t do tiny steps anymore.” He had moved on into a new present movement. As my friend Evonn shared, “May we stay in the moment and move right on.”

We can learn a lot from taking tiny steps. And we can learn even more from a five year old.

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om