Following Nature’s Clues

caleb-george at unsplashNature’s transitions, like changes in daylight and colder temperature, throw many people off balance. The results of this can be seen in feeling down, wanted to stay indoors, struggling with colds and flu or even stomach viruses.

Don’t you find it interesting that Nature’s creatures are able to flow so easily between the seasonal changes? Plants and animals sense when it’s time to change and begin the process.  Plants and trees begin to go dormant, lose their leaves and the sap flows down in the roots preparing for winter.  Nature knows how to prepare for each season.

Following the clues from Nature allows one to flow in harmony with the changes and seasonal patterns. Fall is Nature’s time of letting go. Without letting go, there can be no real rest during winter, and no subsequent growth the following spring. Every part of the process has a reason and a purpose, and it all combines to create the cycle of seasons we witness every year.

This is the time for ‘letting go’ of things we don’t need. This could be physical, mental, emotional or spiritual things. For example, getting rid of clutter, releasing old ideas and beliefs that hold you back or processing life events. In letting go of what may be holding us down, allows our bodies to deeply rest. We build up our Qi, or vital energy, and use it to strengthen our bodies for the winter season.

What remains is that which nurtures us keeping us from getting stuck during winter so that we can be rejuvenated when spring arrives.

Here are 6 tips to help you build your Qi for winter:

1. Let Go: Is there anything physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually you are holding onto right now? Give yourself some quiet time to become aware of what needs to go. Most of us can release feelings of stress, “have-tos and need-tos”, and physical items. Letting go of that which is no longer serves us open the way for contentment.

2. Contentment is the positive aspect of fall. Look around and focus on the all the things that make you feel content. In this past years what positive things did you accomplish and that you are proud of. Will any of those things continue to grow and expand? Celebrate them.

3. Copy Nature: There is less daylight. Nature has slowed down. Match this vibration by allowing yourself to get enough rest. Start to slow things down in your life and give yourself time to unwind and relax.

4. Eat and Think for Healing: Treat your body right! Start by feeding it warm, loving foods and warm, loving thoughts. Remember, on a lower level, you are what you eat. But on a higher level, you are what you think.

5. Meditate and/or Practice Qigong : During this seasonal transition, sit in quiet meditation or slowly and smoothly practice Qigong, especially “Breathing the Universe”. Notice your body, your breathing, any tightness, where everything flow and the gems of wisdom that surface.

6. Get Outside: On a sunny day, bundle up and get outside. Let the sun shine on your face. Absorb all of Nature’s goodness and notice how Nature’s creatures are reveling in the warm sunshine, too.

When you flow with Nature rather than fight it, life is easier, more joyful and you smile more.

Breathe, smile and enjoy!

Stronger Than You Think

I am ever amazed at the resiliency of human beings. pexels-photo-169906-medium

Five mornings a week I teach English and settlement skills to refugees and many other newcomers to Canada.

In my role as teacher, I have heard some of the most horrific and heart wrenching stories. On a day-to-day basis I witness the struggle that these newcomers have adjusting to a new life in a new land were almost everything is strange and often incomprehensible.

Despite the hardships they have faced, the separation from family and friends, and the daily struggle to learn a new language, life and culture, the students arrive at school with a smile and an amazingly positive attitude.

I often wonder what it would be like to be torn away from family and friends and then shuffled about from country to country to finally end up in a place where you were to begin again. You are alone with your nuclear family or perhaps not. You no longer have your family support system. Your friends are either dead or in another country.

I cannot even begin to imagine what goes through the minds of my students.

What I do know is what they have taught me.

  • To go to work every day with a smile.
    To be grateful for everything I have right now.
    To trust that everything will work out.
    To know that in each of us there is a deep reservoir of strength and resilience.

 

As human beings we have an enormous capacity to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going.

This is an ability each one of us has. To a greater or lesser degree, each one of us at some point in our life has had to pick ourselves up and keep going.

As you begin your day today smile and spread joy wherever you go. Look around you and be grateful for everything you have in your life at this moment. And know, that you are so much stronger than you think you are.

Those dark clouds that you have in your life will pass and the sun will shine again. You can help those clouds move away more quickly by knowing that no situation is permanent and that a slight change in thinking can make a huge difference in your reality.

Let us all show our greatness today and bring the sunshine back into the world.

In Joy,
Carolynne

Your Dreams are Calling!

Along life’s journey you have dreams. A few of them have been fulfilled, others are forgotten,  dreams

and some remain. The lingering dreams often come with a sense of longing for something yet unfulfilled.

These dreams often get buried under the practical side of life which says, “you must do this or you must do that,” but still the dream persists.

It keeps coming back.

Each time the dream surfaces it brings with it a different kind of energy: a glimpse of joy, confidence, freedom, and expansion.

There is a promise within the dream that says you can leave the old life behind and begin a new one.

But then, fears rise up and you turn away refusing to see the possibilities, dismissing them as dreaming or wishful thinking. You return to the well-worn path that feels comfortable and secure resigned to make the most of it.

No matter how strong the wall of fear, when you least expected it the dream pops in again.

This a dream won’t go away. It keeps tugging at your attention.

Perhaps its time to be still and take a closer look. With a little introspection you may notice a trail of circumstances, open doors, chance meetings or being in the right place at the right time.
This might reveal a pattern where elements of the best parts of your past come together to form a new shape. With this pattern you just may see a fork in the road you hadn’t seen before.

Oh yes, it’s all a little scary with a burst of ‘what if’s’! Behind you is the so called security and comfort of familiarity and ahead is uncertainty with hint of excitement. I know this feeling well.

The future might look a bit fuzzy, but the feelings that arise from your dream are vibrant, vivid and real.

One day you can no longer resist the pull, so you take the first step in the direction of your dream. This one step takes you beyond your limitations and fears. One step follows after another and your energy soars, your confidence grows, and your world begins to change.

Your dream is very much like a child’s abstract painting which is accompanied by a great tale of wisdom and adventure, it is your soul’s great imagining. Within every person, there are visions which, when acted upon, make new lives, bring new delight, heighten joy, and bringing ease to life.

The old ways of being fall away with easy and the new appears effortlessly.

Although your dream at times feels nebulous, you can be assured that it will unfold with perfection. It’s taking the steps in the direction of your dream that counts and letting the Universe take care of the how.
Moving forward with an awareness of your GPS will lead you on to many unbelievable and unexpected circumstances. Many of these events are beyond what you may have thought possible.

The beauty of following your dream is the joy of seeing what shows up next.

There is a Universe of infinite possibilities awaiting, but you have to take the first step.

Are you ready?
We can do this together.

What’s Your Ikigai?

The people on the island of Okinawa, Japan are some of the oldest, healthiest and most content people on the planet. What is their secret?

Ikigai! (pronounced icky guy)Ikigai

Ikigai translates as “a reason to wake up each morning.”

Do you have a reason for waking up each morning? Or do you reluctantly drag yourself out of bed each day thinking, “Another day to get through” or “Is it Friday yet?”.

Can you imagine waking up ready and eager for a new day of life?

It is possible! This is what an ikigai is: it’s waking up each day with a purpose  or direction. You know where you are going.

An ikigai is something you love to do, want to do, and that makes you feel alive.

It can be a specific goal, ambition or dream or it can also be something as simple as setting an intention for a new way of expressing yourselves or interacting with others. For example, some people find depth of meaning in cooking and caring for their family. Other people find it through genuine and sincere acts of kindness towards others, or it could be setting a mindset to open up to all new possibilities so that you let in a limitless amount of spontaneous and life-changing opportunities.

The basis of an ikigai is that it’s something that you enjoy and makes you feel vibrant and alive. As you grow and expand into your ikigai, you will also enhance other people’s lives through your vitality and energy.

It is about finding value in something that you love doing while mastering and developing talents and skills to ensure that it is sustainable.

My ikigai is to live each day as fully as possible and help others do the same.

There is a wonderful passage from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll that give an indication as to why as ikigai is important.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” was his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter?”

Each of us has a choice, we can live our lives by default or we can live by intention. If you are happy with your life, great! But if you have a niggling thought that maybe there is something more, missing, or that you’re stuck, then perhaps you need a ikigai.

You can continue repeating the same patterns in your life or you can take steps toward that something that keeps tugging at you. In stillness if you listen to those yearning tugs you will hear what is calling. Your inner wisdom knows what you might fear to acknowledge.

You can take baby steps towards that longing without dismantling your life. Your first step could be to create an ikigai card which you place by your beside to read each morning to give your day purpose. Then do something each day with your purpose in mind. Each action will anchor your ikigai.

A joyful, peaceful and fulfilling life in your birthright.
Now is the time to reclaim it.

I Am A Miracle!

Mountain viewThis past weekend as I was driving toward the mountains for a conference I was thinking about the concept of the acorn and the tree. How does an acorn know it’s supposed to be a pine or spruce or cedar or Tamarack tree?

By the same token, how does a flower seed know it is supposed to be a rose, daisy or cornflower?

As I pondered the concept of seeds containing the Divine Intelligence to become that which they were meant to be, I had a moment of absolute clarity where I saw the miracle of life within each human. My awareness went from acorns and seeds to the microscopic seed within my mother and the microscopic sperm from my father coming together among the billions of cells in my mother’s body to create that Divine spark of life ~ me. I am that miracle union. I am that seed of Divine intelligence.

What bursted out of my mouth at this realization was, “I am a miracle! I am a miracle!” It was a good thing I was alone in the car for it came in a shout of awe.

In one moment I took a huge leap up in the glass elevator of awareness.  (Michael Neill’s metaphor)

The awareness that I was indeed a miracle lead me to scan my body,  body I have taken for granted for so many years.  My body which knows exactly what it’s supposed to do without me even being aware of it. For example, by lungs and heart know exactly how many breaths to take in minute. They know how to self-regulate without my help. In fact, 90% of the time I’m not even aware I’m breathing. It happens in a beautiful rhythm without me having to do a darn thing. Miraculous!

From my heart and lungs, I considered the billions of cells that know exactly what to do maintain my body. They know when to die, to replicate, to repair, to attack. They are part of the grand plan for me to have a healthy body so I can experience life. All I have to do is give them nourishment and treat then well. Wow!

I considered the rest of my body and realized I have little idea of the amazing things it does each moment.

By this time I had pulled over to the side of the road. I sat still in wonderment, love and gratitude.

Then came the awareness of how I get caught up in thinking, creating stories about life while there is this Divine creation of life happening without my being aware of it. I saw how my thinking tended to keep me recycling the past due to my little mind scanning my memory bank to give meaning to the moment.  Or how this same mind would conjuring up an imaginary future based on what was already in my memory.  While the mind was frantically searching for meaning, there was little room to notice that life was happening all around me in the moment.

At this point I got out of my car and stood on the side of the road letting my gaze take in the vista before and around me. In that gaze, I felt the seed of Divine Intelligence in the grasses, trees, hawk, magpies and the mountains. The Divine life force of all things beating with one heart.

When I eventually arrived at the hotel, I saw my friends and colleagues for the first time. Seeing beyond the story to the source!

This experience was a moment where Mind, Consciousness and Thought flowed together in perfect harmony. Knowing that once you know something, you can’t go back, is a great gift! I may be able to expand on this awareness, but this experience is now a part of me.

The deepening of my awareness of the grandness of life and the joy I find in each day are some of the many gifts I have found in understanding the 3 Principles.

Are you building walls saying NO? Ready for YES?

 
Are your thoughts creating wall and barriers preventing you from experiencing more of life?

Mine were!

Does this sound like you? A friend calls you up or texts with a suggestion to go out for lunch. You pause! Your mind is frantically searching for the right answer. Should I go, shouldn’t I? If I don’t go what excuse can I use? I have so much to do right now. I don’t know! I have to pick up the kids? The litany goes on.

I know this all too well. I went for a period when I built walls around myself and fended off almost all invitations, making up all sorts of reasons why I didn’t want to or I couldn’t. Often after I turned down an invitation I would spend hours thinking that maybe I was missing out, maybe I should have gone, why didn’t I say yes.

Ah, the thought games we play!

When I realized I sitting home alone far too often and was receiving fewer and fewer invitations even to me my excuses sounded lame. I decided ENOUGH.

I saw that it was only my thoughts stopping me from enjoying life, friends, family and new experiences.

I was thinking myself into a lonely secluded life surrounded by 4 walls and no new stimulus. Did I really want this? NO!

Once I knew that I had to change my thoughts in order to change my life I decided to start saying, “YES”. I did it in little steps. That was easy because I wasn’t getting very many invitations.

I accepted the first invitation that came my way. I went to a movie with a friend. More invitations came as I continued to say YES. To begin with I accepted all invitations just to practice saying Yes, then I became more selective.

When I did consider saying NO to an invitation, I would pay attention to the thoughts and feelings around the no. Why was I saying no? Was it something I really did not want to do or go to OR was I just building walls again?

Saying, “Yes” has brought back more joy, curiosity and people into my life. My life is richer from the giving and sharing that has ensued.

In our busy lives we don’t often realize that we have been constantly declining invitations and limiting our experience of life. It is so easy to fall into a rut of sameness. When you ask someone what they have been up to, how often to get the reply, “You know, same old same old.”
Is that your answer?

Perhaps it is time to turn that NO into a YES and see where it takes you. You might find that you have more energy, more joy, and yes, even more time to get things done.

Take the challenge and give yourself permission to say YES and see what happens.

Stop the runaway train and take time for yourself.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve spoken to several people who are going through a time that is especially hectic, challenging or demanding.

As a result, they’re emotionally and physically just DONE—yet finding themselves needing to dig down a bit deeper to find a bit more energy, compassion or patience for whatever life has brought.

It can often feel that life resembles a runaway train with no brakes. Just rushing on at amazing speed with no ability to stop.

But stop you must if want to be at your peak with clear thoughts, energy and creativity.

If you keep going at the speed of a runaway train you’re bound to crash. The stress of keeping up this pace will eventually show it’s self in some form of health issues. Stress is the #1 factor behind most illnesses today.

When you run out of fuel and come crashing down, who are you really helping?

Have you ever been on an airplane? As the flight attendant goes through the safety talk you’re reminded to “Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping your child or anyone else.” Why? If you aren’t safe how can you help another?

The same goes for you, getting sick only adds to the issues.

You might be thinking, “Yeah, sounds great but, where do I fit it in?” My answer would be, you plan it. If you don’t plan for some self-care time; it might be forced upon you.

 

What is self-care time?

Self-care is not selfish, it is the opposite. It is giving to yourself so that you can give to others.

It allows you time to reconnect with yourself and helps you to get your equilibrium back. It is a time to recharge your batteries, feed your spirit, and de-stress.

Having a plan to regain your equilibrium once a week is a wonderful gift for yourself.

Self-care is doing something that you love. Something that gets you to forget your to-do-list. Something you can get lost in.

It might be painting, drawing, walking, dancing, sewing, a martial arts practise. Anything that connects you to your authentic self. Where you transcend time and space for a while.

For me it is walking or sitting in Nature, anywhere! When life starts to speed up, I go for a walk by the river or in the park. In the winter when it is too cold to walk I attend a yoga class.

What is your self-care plan? How do you recharge and refuel your spirit?

If you don’t have one, could this be the moment to create one?

Is this my dream?

You sit, hands clasped around a cup tea, staring out the window and wonder what happened. Is this really your dream life?

You went to college, landed a great job, got married, had kids, have all the outer trappings of material success, BUT feel empty.

You did what your family and society expected of you. You did what everyone else was doing. Was it right or wrong? Neither, it just was.

You made those choices based on who you were and what you knew at that moment. They were the best decisions for that time.

Now you are living this dream.

There was a time, I too sat starring out the window wondering if this was all life had to offer. Then I became aware that my life was my dream, my choice and it had been perfect for me.

Mine dream included university, a short marriage, no kids, a 25 year career as an educator, a life of constant change and movement, no permanent fix address and sense of adventure that leads me on. This was my dream and it was/is right for me.

The choices I made gave me some fantastic experiences from which to grow. Once I realized that, it became clear that going forward I had the opportunity to make new choices thus new dreams.

I looked around and noticed other people’s dreams. Looking at them I realized I couldn’t live their dreams, as they probably couldn’t live mine.

So, as you sit there sipping your tea and looking out the window, reflect on your life choices up to now. Look at how they are a reflection of the authentic you. Note all the ways they helped you to grow and arrive at this moment in your life.

Take a look around and if the dream that you have create up to this moment doesn’t quite fit any more, it might be time to choose something different.

What is the one thing you could easily change to begin the journey to a new life, a new dream? Take some small steps, feel them out, if it feels right keep moving, question any resistance that comes up – what is it about?

BE gentle with yourself and remember to celebrate any action you take toward your new dream.

Life is your dream and change is only one thought away. Only you can change the thought and take the steps.

What is your new dream and where will it lead?