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Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Stories’

A Midwife to My Heart

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Midwife BlogLonging to experience the sacred as I navigate through life, I have read hundreds of spiritual books, traveled to many holy places, met with dozens of beloved teachers, and sat in meditation until my legs (or entire body) fell asleep. Many of the methods have worked and at times they haven’t. But in my quest for the sacred within, I have discovered one way that allows me to experience the divine and go beyond the veil of my own limited beliefs and illusions. That way is the role of midwife to my heart.

My most profound experiences as a midwife to my heart emerge when I am able to step out of the way and be overwhelmed by something far greater than my own opinions, fears, doubts, and worries. Being a midwife of my heart has humbled me, awakened me, challenged me, and healed me. I am being called to show more vulnerability, expand my definition of extended family, and share my deep awareness and emotions with other midwives of the heart. It is our profound connections, our deep desires, and our wild cosmic hearts that connects us in the vastness of inner abyss.

My life and my work has been about being a midwife to the wild and wonderful ─ to the unknown and the uncertainty. Being a midwife to my heart requires a delicate blend of curiosity, courage, trust, wisdom, and the willingness to sit in the pain and discomfort. It’s a willingness to bear witness to what’s happening on the inside and take a deep dive within. As my heart expands, a new way of being is born ─ breath by breath. Every moment becomes sacred and tender.

Being a midwife to my heart can mean risk getting hurt and being mocked. But not doing it means losing some of the most meaningful connections possible. It means charting new waters, leaning into joy, daring greatly, loving deeply, living courageously, and sharing my heart with those who have earned my trust.

The birth of more love, more joy, more peace, and more connection is worth the effort. By being a midwife to my heart, I’ve birthed many meaningful relationships. I have lost some too. Yet, being a midwife to my heart has taught me to appreciate each person and the role they played in birthing new life in the world.

Perhaps you feel called to be a midwife of your heart ─ to the wild, the wonderful, and the unknown. Being a midwife of my heart is a journey and I don’t know where it is going to take me next. I’m ready for new birth and more connection. You are invited to join me in exploring what is too deep for words and too powerful for meaning, yet a miraculous experience of the heart.

Have you experienced being a midwife to your heart? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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What MS Has Taught Me About Life

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

It was a year ago that I walked into my neurologist office to get results back from a MRI of my brain after a series of symptoms and tests. I went to the appointment alone as I thought the symptoms would pass and perhaps needed some temporary medicine. I sat across from the doctor as he scrolled and clicked the computer looking at my MRI. He looked up and said, “Your results show you possibly have Multiple Sclerosis.”  I didn’t hear anything else he said after that. My mind went blank, my hands shook, and tears rolled down my face.

He invited me to come over by him and said he wanted to show me the scan. I stood up and went over and saw an enlarged version of my brain on a computer screen. He explained that the scan showed white spots, known as lesions, at various parts of my brain. And given the number of lesions and the location as well as my symptoms, it was likely that I had Mild Multiple Sclerosis. I had to go for many more tests and see many more doctors for the next seven months to rule out other possible diagnoses. 

After several months of being poked and prodded, sent to various specialist and given a variety of health diagnoses, my test results proved to show Mild Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in May of this year. A part of me was relieved to finally know what I was dealing with and how to treat it. Another part of me was in shock (and still is) that I have this. 

My world has changed in so many ways. MS has required me to slow down and rest more. It has taught me the value of advocating for myself in the medical world — especially with doctors who dismiss symptoms or patients. It has made me feel vulnerable and show up in the world with an openness I never experienced before. It has taught me to ask for help and receive. It has taught me who can show up when I don’t feel well. Having MS has deepened some friendships and let go of others.

MS has taught me to continue to live life to its fullest. It has deepened my spiritual practices, opened my heart, and led me to discover feelings that have been buried for a long time.

MS has taught me a lot about life: No one doctor or diagnosis defines you. If there are friends who can’t deal with your illness or can’t be present for you, then seek friends who can. Find people who are aware and can show they care. Give yourself permission to have your emotions — all of them. Follow your heart and your divine light. You may not change your illness, but you can change how you relate to it. You can make choices that help you. You can empower yourself by finding doctors, healers, teachers, and supportive people who are willing to listen and witness you on your personal journey.

Do things that make you happy. That might mean meditating more, having a cup of tea, talking with people you love, getting a massage, forgiving yourself, starting and ending each day with gratitude, chanting/praying or tapping into a spiritual practice that feels right for you, and surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh. 

Having MS has taught me to participate in life more fully, lovingly, passionately, vulnerably, creatively, and spiritually. That doesn’t mean I still don’t get tired or sad. It means I embrace all of it and all of me.

Machu Picchu


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Fear as an Ally

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Fear doesn’t have to rule your life. You can do it, even if you have to do it afraid. ~Joyce Meyer

One of my favorite Joyce Meyer’s quotes is “Do it afraid.”  That is exactly what came to mind as I was reading the new book by Jaimal Yogis, The Fear Project: What Our Most Primal Emotion Taught Me About Survival, Success, Surfing…and Love. The book explores both his personal experience as well as interviewing leading neuroscientists and other experts about the most primal emotion – fear.

Is fear something we overcome or simply an ally that pushes us forward in the world? Can you deep dive into fear so as to befriend it and allow fear to push personal limits?

Through amazing stories such as swimming in the wild currents of the San Francisco Bay to surfing 40+ foot waves in the winter, Yogis touches upon our innate fears – the fear of not trusting, the fear of losing someone we love, and our own internal fears of not being enough.

The book will give you insight as to why fear can dominate your life and ways to use fear as an ally.  His personal stories have universal themes and you will find yourself laughing out loud. As Yogis says, “Much as we like to make it into the villain, fear isn’t bad. In fact, as we’ll learn, it’s often our fear of fear – our aversion to accepting and understanding this very natural emotion – that can cause fear to spin into unhelpful panic and anxiety disorders.”

The Fear Project will give you a better understanding of “good and bad fear”  and how to push through what gets in our way to fulfilling our potential – doing it afraid.

Yogis connects his personal stories to scientific research in real and fun ways. It combines what I love best – storytelling and neuroscience. I was a huge fan of his previous book, Saltwater Buddha. This book took me to the depths of my fears – the current one of uncertainty – and gave me insight to relate to it in new and emerging ways.

When you are ready to explore fear as an ally, go read this book. Do it afraid.

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Harrowing Haircuts

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Get out of the chair. Get out of the chair. That was what the voice in my head was saying as I was sitting getting a haircut. I had already asked the hairdresser more than once to be gentle with my head. She had jerked my head from side to side as she was cutting it. Finally, as she started blow-drying my hair, I saw she had not listened to me about the style of cut I had stated I wanted. After taking a deep breath, I said, “Stop.” I stood up with the towel around my neck draped in the robe and said I wanted the assistant manager to fix my haircut. The hairdresser looked at me and said, “What’s your problem?” I walked away and sat in the waiting area and asked for the assistant manager and explained that I was unhappy and needed her to fix the haircut.

My voice was shaking, my hands were shaking, and I just wanted to run out of the salon. I knew I needed to speak up. I knew I needed to get out of the chair. I knew I needed to have someone more gentle and aware of what they were doing and how they were treating a client.

In general, I hate getting my haircut. I usually dread getting it. I feel so vulnerable in the chair while someone with scissors ultimately decides how long or short or how straight or wavy they make my hair. There is something unnerving about getting haircuts.

As I have declared 2013 my year of Daring Deeply, it took all my courage to get out of the chair and advocate for myself. I am learning to trust that inner voice more and more and take action. Life is about opening our hearts and listening to the calling of wisdom that beckons us forward.

Here is what that experience taught me: Get out of the chair. Speak up. Take peaceful actions.

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Daring Deeply on a Path of the Heart

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

I came across this poem by Carlos Castaneda that reminded me of living a path of vulnerability with heart.

You must always keep in mind that a path is only a path.
Each path is only one of a million paths.
If you feel that you must now follow it,
you need not stay with it under any circumstances.
Any path is only a path.
There is no affront to yourself or others in dropping a path
if that is what your heart tells you to do.
But your decision to keep on a path or to leave it
must be free of fear and ambition.
I caution you: look at every path closely and deliberately.
Try it as many times as you think necessary.
Then ask yourself and yourself alone this one question.
Does this path have a heart?
All paths are the same. They lead nowhere.
They are paths going through the brush or into the brush
or under the brush of the Universe.
The only question is: Does this path have a heart?
If it does, then it is a good path.
If it doesn’t, then it is of no use.

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What Does Being Mindful Mean?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

I felt much more mindful on my birthday yesterday. I felt mindful of all the beauty, joy, love, and laughter in my life. I celebrated every moment and every breath. I dedicated my birthday meditation to being mindful.

My meditation on being mindful:

Being mindful is breathing, noticing, and being present.
Listen to what is in front of you and what is inside you. Right here. Right now. Being mindful is listening to your heart rhythm or the wind swaying or the people in your life sharing their day. Being mindful is deeply listening to your feelings and noticing the places of joy and the causes of suffering. Being mindful is living from your heart center (your heart/mind connection). Let go of the busyness. Free your mind and there is nothing to escape from. Open your heart and feel the peace that you already are.

Breathe. Notice. Be present. Mindful.

How will you take time to deeply notice what is happening inside and outside?

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November Lessons: Heart and Health

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I like that in the month of November lots of folks (in the US) pay attention to gratitude. People acknowledge their thankfulness for so much goodness. This year there seemed to be a heightened sense of gratitude on the East Coast after a huge storm destroyed so many homes and lives. I watched as people pulled together and helped out in many communities.

I, too, have so much to be grateful for. November started out with a retreat in Hawaii for a week. The retreat focused on listening to our heart. The more I invited folks to delve deep into exploration, uncovering, playing and opening to our wild, untamed heart, the more I allowed myself to do the same. I received clarity about relationships and areas I want to focus on moving forward. My heart was open, receptive, vulnerable, playful, silly, reflective, and grateful.

After returning home from Hawaii, I had a scheduled medical test for mid-November. I wasn’t looking forward to it. Luckily my partner came with me and was with me afterwards when I had an adverse reaction to it. I ended up in the emergency room and had to take time off to rest. I became so aware of my health and all the support I have in my life.

I know many more lessons await me and I am grateful for all of them. For now, I know my heart is open and my health is good and for that I am beyond grateful.

What are the lessons in your life showing you?

(Photo courtesy of L. McMahon taken in Hawaii)

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Arousing Our Hearts to Life

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I have been reading a lot of David Whyte’s poetry as I prepare for my upcoming retreat in Hawaii, The Wild Cosmic Heart. I have been reading about what arouses, 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.

Shedding the carapace we have been building so assiduously on the surface, we must by definition give up exactly what we thought was necessary to protect us from further harm. The outlaw is the radical, the one close to the roots of existence. The one who refuses to forget their humanity and in remembering, helps everyone else remember too.

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.

 If you want to explore your untamed heart and risk becoming more alive, then join me in Hawaii November 4-10, 2012 where we will explore the vast sea of our hearts.

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Empty the Bucket

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

As I traveled to Peru, I knew I needed to let go of some pre-conceived thoughts so I could make room for all the information and beauty I would encounter. I wrote in my journal, “I am willing to let go and let in.” There is no room if the bucket (of my mind) is full. I went to Peru with an empty bucket and it was filled with so much insight, joy, and laughter.

On my second day in Lima, I passed this little boy helping his father gather all the grass clippings and place them in the bucket. As soon as I took this photo, the little boy looked up and dumped the bucket of grass and smiled. His father quietly walked over with his broom and together they refilled the bucket.

As I smiled at the boy and his father, I was simply reminded: empty the bucket.

Empty the bucket and make room for more.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting my insights about my journey to Peru – after I empty the bucket of my mind.

Enjoy! Mary Anne

{Photo taken by Mary Anne Flanagan, Lima, Peru}

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And Grace Appeared…

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

As a lot of grief swept through me the days and weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I reached out to some friends and spiritual teachers for guidance. One long-time teacher left me a message saying, “Go easy. Be gentle with yourself. Be your best companion to yourself on Sunday because you deserve it.” I am still learning how to be my best companion, especially when grief consumes my heart.

I wrote the words, “Be your best companion” in my small journal as I headed into the city. I wasn’t sure how I could practice this and asked to receive a reminder of my own gentle companionship. As I walked down the street, I happened to look up and saw a building with big letters that read: GRACE.

And grace appeared … a clear reminder.

How could I be my own best companion? It was clear – with Grace.
And so it is.

Mary Anne

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