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Let Love Show You the Way

February 4th, 2019

Sometimes we just need to listen.
Sometimes we just need the quiet.
Sometimes we just need to reflect.
Sometimes we just need to be alone.
Sometimes we just need to be with by friends.
Sometimes we need to lead.
Sometimes we need to follow.
And sometimes, actually most times, we need to let love show us the way.  

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

A Reflection on Devotion

January 11th, 2019

When I picked my word/mantra for 2018, I had no idea just how powerful it would be. My word for 2018 was: Devotion. I thought that word would be all about “Devotion” to stillness, to meditation, to love, to service, to creating, to healing, to traveling, to causes, to writing, to connections, and to nourishing peace.

What I didn’t know was that devotion to family and time. It was a year devoted to my dad as he spent most of the year ill. It was a year  devoted to time and spending as much as possible with my dad and family. And it was a year devoted to love.

As I reflect on what was a difficult and sad year, I will always be grateful for the devotion I had for my family and their devotion to me.

Perhaps I didn’t choose the word devotion for 2018, rather devotion had chosen me.

Dedicated to beloved father who passed away in September.

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Return of the Light

December 21st, 2018

2018 has been a tough year for me and my family. My dad was ill for most of the year and passed away in September. My sisters and I spent a lot of time with him making sure he had good care and spending every possible moment we could with him. We all miss him terribly and the darkness of the season is felt deep within each of us. We have spent this year nurturing, worrying, grieving, and longing. The darkness of the season has felt long.

And yet, there is a promise of light – a Winter Solstice. There is a reminder that we grow in the darkness. We feel hope in the unknown. And we return to the light. Each day will grow longer, and those long dark nights will grow shorter.

Perhaps we will feel the return of the light. It will take time. We will feel our dad’s light within us – the joy and love and humor he shared with everyone he met. His story, and our story will carry on because we carry him in our hearts. It is the most primordial feeling there is – love. And that love becomes our primordial light.

As Alberto Villoldo shares, “Primordial Light is the creative power of the Universe which is available to us to create beauty in the world, and to heal ourselves and others. But to work with Primordial Light we must remember the way of the luminous warrior. We must live and act fearlessly, know the answer to “Who am I?” and the ways beyond death into infinity.”

The path towards light always begins in the dark. It’s how seeds grow. It’s how we grow.

The Solstice is a reminder that light emerges out of darkness. The most holy darkness is the deepest darkness.

May we fully emerge out the darkness into a greater light for all to feel.

Happy Solstice.

This is dedicated to my beloved sisters, Kathleen and Dawn. They are bright lights in the world.

 

 

 

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Flickering Light

December 6th, 2018

Our light goes in and out.
We find ourselves again and again.
And we lose ourselves again and again.
Sometimes we need the darkness to find our light.

Our light dims and love helps us find it.
Our light shines bright lightly and love shows us how to share it.
Our light glows and other people notice it.

We sometimes see the light in others before we see our own light.
We shine and celebrate the light in others.

Oh, and their light flickers too.

As our days grow shorter, may we find our inner sun that is always shining light.

May we remember that light emerges from the darkness.
And that the most holy darkness is the deepest darkness.

Let our flickering light and holy darkness be our teachers.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

And God Whispered…

November 14th, 2018

I’m right here.

As I headed into the woods to look for fall warblers and hawks, I found myself smiling at the abundance of yellow trees. I looked up to see the sunlight streaming down onto the tops of the trees. Then tears came streaming down my face. I was overcome with joy of being in nature, of being surrounded by light, of walking with my spouse. Of feeling the crunching of leaves and feeling peaceful. It had been a long time since peace filled me – as most of the year has been spent being with my ill father until his passing in September.

Nature is a great reminder that everything changes. Leaves fall and mulch. Seeds succumb to the darkness. And transformation comes in every season.

Many emotions filled me with every breath – sadness, gratitude, peace, and grief. I felt all of it. I looked up as the sunlight bounced off the yellow leaves and listened to the silence that filled the trail. Suddenly I heard squirrels hurrying through bushes, birds flying from tree to tree, and crisp air blowing the leaves. Smiling at the beauty all around me, I heard the words, “And God whispered, I’m right here.”

Through the mystery of grief and love, my heart felt peaceful. Lost in emotions of sadness, I knew joy. Grasping for connection, I knew groundedness. Longing for the return of hope, I found myself whispering, “I’m right here.”

 

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Sorry for Your Troubles

November 2nd, 2018

Streams of my father’s friends came into the funeral home to honor him and share their condolences. Many walked up to me and extended their hand and said, “Sorry for your troubles.” I couldn’t really understand at first what they were saying. As the line grew longer and longer, many folks told me how they met my father, shared a story, and ended with their condolences, “Sorry for your troubles.”

I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who came to my father’s wake and repeatedly hearing the words sorry for your troubles. I came to learn that the expression is used all over Ireland. As the poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama writes, “It comes directly from an Irish phrase, yet Irish has no word for ‘bereavement’ – the word used is ‘troiblóid’. So the phrase would be better translated ‘Sorry for your bereavements’.”

It was quite powerful seeing his wake filled with long-time friends and neighbors all sharing in our loss. Grief felt beyond expression – beyond words. Sorry for your troubles gave space to my inner experience of grief. The expression felt bigger than a condolence message. It felt like an acknowledgement of the enormity of losing a parent, especially someone like my father who was so loved and touched so many lives.

As the author, Liz Gilbert, says, “Grief is not an interruption of your life, but a braided-into-your soul aspect of it. We weep and we continue.” My experience of grief is that it brings me to my knees. It reminds me of how much I love and long for the connection that existed. And I am also reminded of how hard it can be for people to express their condolences or to know that grief lasts a lot longer than the days following a funeral. I know it can feel overwhelming to reach out to check in on grieving friends after time has passed after their loss. And it’s as overwhelming being the one experiencing grief.

Bearing the effects of losing a loved one takes more than weeks or months. It’s an everyday experience where sometimes grief feels heavy and other times grief inspires more love. The most important part is showing up, expressing your condolences (calls and cards are wonderful), sitting with those in grief; and if you don’t know what to say, you can always hold their hand, wipe their tears, and say, “Sorry for your troubles.”

This is dedicated to my beloved father, Ted Flanagan, who passed away on September 6, 2018.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Echoes of a Grieving Heart

October 13th, 2018

Thoughts swirl after grief. None of them seem real or capture the essence of loss. Sometimes I look for words from other people to help give language to the grief that lives inside my heart. One author who captures grief brilliantly is Joan Didion. In her books, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, Didion writes about her experiences of grief and the echoes of aches it leaves behind. Each line feels like a deep meditation of the heart. 

Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?

In time of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information was control. Given that grief remained the most general of afflictions its literature seemed remarkably spare.

That I was only beginning the process of mourning did not occur to me. Until now, I had only been able to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death.

You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.

To my beloved dad—I miss you everyday.

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Posted in Life | Toning the Om

Permission for Joy

August 30th, 2018

After attending the 5th and final year of Camp Good Life Project, I had a clear sense of what nourishes me. Connections. Conversations. Community. All of those fill my heart. Meditation. Mindfulness. Mantras. Those fill my soul. Letting the rest go. Clearing the way for what comes to me and fills me up with joy. As I sat on a rock looking out at a lake, I started listening for what I could give myself permission to experience to feel more joy and more peace.

I give myself permission to…  

Take a weekend off to play;

Read the entire Sunday New York Times; 

Take a long afternoon nap;

Read three books at the same time;

Write from my heart all day;

Impulsively book a weekend get-a-way;

Connect more with nature;

Be open to not knowing;

Make room for what is next;

To experience JOY;

Love myself more.

What are you willing to give yourself permission to experience?

 

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Do Work That Brings You Joy

August 20th, 2018

I didn’t set out to change the world. Most people I speak with don’t either. I set out to change an intense emotion – grief. It was important to me and over the years I have found it’s important to others as well.

People want to do important work. Work that has meaning. Work that brings joy. Work that matters.

I bring the best of who I am to my work and that is enough – I am enough. And what I have learned is bringing my best inspires others to bring their best too.

There will always be nay sayers (I have my fair share of those too). The gift is knowing what you offer and finding people who are open and ready to receive.

Changing the world is too big. Changing ourselves is about finding our growing edge and expanding from there.

If it’s not important, why bother?

If it doesn’t bring you joy, move on.

If it is meaningful and joyful, keep going.

Big gratitude to everyone who shows support with my coaching and shamanic healing practice and to those who attend my meditation and spiritual retreats. It is work that brings me so much joy.

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

Peaceful Mind, Happy Heart

August 14th, 2018

If our thoughts are peaceful, our meditation is also usually peaceful. If we have spiral or negative thoughts, then we describe our mind as unsettled. We might be unable to “stop” our thoughts.

The goal of meditation is not to stop our thoughts. It’s to notice our thoughts. It’s a place where we can experience a subtle change in our thoughts. Our meditation is as much when we are in the world as it is when we are on the cushion.

If your mind is a little peaceful then it’s possible to experience a little more peace and expand it. As my meditation teacher says, “If we can feel a little peaceful, we can feel a lot peaceful.”

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om