Archives for September 2012

Create More Heart Light

Nurturing the quiet light in your heart can help you see the beauty in yourself and in the world, can boost your eagerness to seek possibility, and bring more zest, more love of life and appreciation for it. It is free and already available to you, but you may not be tending it.

A rudder for your boat in the rough seas of change

We live in a time of great change and the noise of conflicting directions. Every day there is more information, more news, more calls for our money, our time, our attention. Our ability to connect electronically is growing so much faster than our ability to comprehend our interdependence. There is more information available to us everyday than we can sort through, and no time to understand what it means or to use it. The “always changing” and “never ceasing” nature of existence means there’s a kind of background ache to living, especially when circumstances or events have lowered our resistance. Coming back to the quiet light in your heart that never completely goes away, letting yourself rest there, replenishes your strength even when your heart is sore. Remembering to look for the quiet light in the hearts of others transforms a walk or a visit to a cafe and begins to heal the sense of disconnection. When you steer your boat using that quiet light, letting it be your navigator, you have a better chance of smoothing your passage through the choppy waters of change.

“The state of one’s heart inevitably shapes one’s life; it is ultimately the place where everything is decided.”      John O’Donohue

Ways to heal the heart and cultivate your heart light

  • Place your hand over your heart and feel the warmth from your hand permeate your chest. Be aware of your breathing without seeking to change it. Close your eyes and imagine a soft light in your heart. When your heart warms enough that you can feel it without your hand over it, you can take your hand away. Rest in your heart’s light and warmth. Repeat as needed.
  • To work with difficult changes, first evoke your heart’s light, then review the changes from the centre of that light.
  • To build a sense of our interdependence, first evoke your heart’s light, then hold the person or situation in that light until you sense the connection, then wish them well.
  • When your light is low, first evoke your heart’s light, then consider each person, situation, or thing you are grateful for in your life. As you think of each thing, bring it into you heart’s light and acknowledge the way the person, situation or thing has added to that light. When you are done for the moment, thank each one for helping you grow your heart’s light.
  • When your heart is full, first evoke your heart’s light, then send its quiet light, as a blessing to family, friends, those in need, and all beings everywhere.

As you become more aware of your heart’s light you will discover other ways to cultivate it.

Join the discussion: What helps you stay aware of your heart’s light? How have you healed a bruised heart? What makes your heart’s light shine?

Lessons From the Dark

When I think of the dark, my association is not immediately positive. I don’t often remember the importance of the dark, of down times, yet the dark is a part of dreaming, of the creative process, and often contains insights.

The first time my view of the dark was challenged was when I read M. Esther Harding’s The Value and Meaning of Depression. I read it more than forty years ago; it remains one of those amazing moments when a an idea opens a whole new way of perceiving the world. The need for times of darkness, the idea that darkness can be a source of nourishment, an incubator, a storeroom of nutrients, opened many possibilities I hadn’t seen.

It helped me begin to approach feelings i usually avoided: fear, anger, sorrow, low energy — feelings I’d associated with darkness.

Exploring the depths

The idea that depression could be a natural part of life gave me permission to explore my own depths.

We live in a world that constantly calls for our active presence and engagement. Our electronic gadgets have multiplied the calls on our attention and intensified the need to be constantly on, constantly giving out, constantly available.

All the more reason to spend some time dwelling in our depths and befriending our “dark”. Fleeing from our fears, anger, or sorrow means the insights they offer us and the energy they contain are lost.

If we learn to move toward our darkness it has gifts for us. Sometimes we don’t feel strong enough to do this on our own. Finding the right support is important, whether you build it internally, or seek it externally. You want your encounter with the dark to be healing.

Help befriending the dark

Look for someone who is

  • Trustworthy
  • Experienced
  • Oriented to supporting you
  • Aims to help you rather than do it to you or for you
  • Open to what is (doesn’t have a frozen point of view that all experience fits into)

While these qualities are ones you to look for in an external guide, you can apply them to yourself too:

Trustworthy: Do you trust yourself to explore? If not, why not. What do you feel you need that you don’t have? What areas need more development? What needs to be removed?

Experienced: What experience do you have with yourself or with others? What experience do you need? Are there experiences you need to heal before you start? What’s your track record with this? What patterns and habits help you deal and which ones get in the way?

Oriented to support: What’s your relationship like with you? Is your inner voice more likely to be critical or a cheerleader? Does your inner voice need an attitude adjustment before you start?

Lets you do it: Does your inner guide take over? Acknowledge and appreciate your progress and efforts?

Openness to what is: Are you able to suspend judgment and simply inquire without assuming?

Dreaming and the dark

The unconscious provides material for our dreams and our dreams can express the wisdom of the unconscious.

I’ve recently begun a four-session dream group with Trevor Simpson,and have found the process both fascinating and useful. I am back to remembering dreams and I love the sense that there are riches in dark each night.

Skills for working with dreams, openness and patience, inquiring without assuming, compassion, gentleness toward oneself, and the ability to use focused but soft attention (attention that isn’t trying to force meaning from what you are paying attention to) are useful in many areas, not only in working with my dreams.

The dream work session helped me remember M. Esther Harding and the need to befriend my fears, anger, sorrow and gain a better understanding of times when I feel less energy or interest in the world.

Dr. Jean Raffa is A Jungian Analyst who often references Harding. Her website is devoted to accessing our inner wisdom.

Join the discussion: What have you found helpful when exploring the dark or exploring your dreams?


When You Don’t Know What You Want

• Beginning with the end in mind,

• End point visualization,

• Vision.

These essentials of planning, goal setting, and project design depend on being able to say what you want, and there’s the rub. What if you don’t know what you really, really want?

Choice is an issue

When there are only a few choices it’s easier to commit. When you can see dozens of possibilities with more showing up all the time, it can create a stall and retreat scenario.

Tools for tracking what you want (vision hunting tips)

1. Be aware of when you are happy. Happiness provides a marker. Make a note, write it down when you feel it, or write about the moments of happiness at the end of each day.

2. Metta, or loving kindness, is a Theravadan meditation practice, and often begins with the phrases, “May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free of suffering.” Acknowledging and affirming these basic human desires, for happiness, peace, and freedom from suffering, grounds us, let’s us sigh and settle into ourselves and helps to concentrate the mind.

When I ask, “what do I want” from this place, one that feels deeper in my heart, and quieter, the answers I receive are more concrete and immediate, and the actions I need to take are close to me.

3. Have patience with the process. Various answers may float to the surface as you hold the question in your heart. “What do I really want?” As answers come to you, ask, “Is this it?” When you feel it’s a yes, write it down.

If you have a friend or a partner you may want to work on this together. First decide who will ask and who will respond. Then one person asks the question, “What do you want?” and records the responder’s answers in the responder’s notebook. Do this for at least five minutes.

As a further step you can ask your partner to slowly read your responses back to you. Listen to each one and let it sink in. When you are done, take a moment and circle or highlight the answers that most struck you when you heard them. Then perform the same questioning and reading service for you partner.

After you have both had a turn, share what struck you most, or how you felt when being asked “What do you want?”, or what came up as you heard your answers.

The answers you received are like those dried sponge animals that you drop into water to see fully. Right now they are dry. To “water” an answer, reflect on it over several days and write about it in your journal. Once you have done this with the answers that had the most meaning for you, it’s likely you will know what you want, what you really, really want.

Join the conversation: Is it easy or hard for you to know what you want? How do you find out what you really want?


Finding Power for a Strong Finish

New paper, pens and books, and a fresh start every year for more than two decades means September brings me a rush of energy and a feeling of excitement even though I am no longer in school. My curiosity is strong and I can’t wait to see what’s coming, to meet old friends and discover new ones. The beauty of this, now that I work on a different schedule, one more oriented to the calendar year, is it gives me a boost of energy to finish projects, reach goals, and tackle year-end challenges.

Making this Time Matter

Each year I set eight to ten goals for the year; they’re the dreams I’ve committed to realizing. Each quarter I review progress. Now I am a month away from my third quarter review. So far I am doing pretty well with five out of the nine goals for the year, but I know I am going to have to bring more focus and energy to the four that I haven’t made much progress on if I am going to achieve them this year.

Goal Review Checklist

Before I revision my plan for the last four months of the year I use this list to ensure I’ll use my time and energy wisely.

  • Is this still an important goal for this year?
  • Do I have the resources I need to complete it? (time, tools, information, network)
  • Do I need to modify it in some way based on activity so far this year?
  • What impact will completing this goal have on other goals; on my purpose?
  • What values will the work to complete this goal cultivate?
  • If I haven’t started, why not?
  • What are the obstacles? How can I remove or minimize them?
  • What are the supports? How can I leverage them?

September’s Back to School Energy

Before we went back to school we gathered supplies, shifted from summer’s more casual clothes, savoured our last days of freedom, and geared up for challenge and changes ahead. Prepare for the last third of the year with the same sense of occasion:

  • Pull together what you’ll need to finish
  • Find an everyday symbol of rededication to the goal
  • Give yourself some time to savour what you have right now; let it nourish and refresh you
  • Signal a fresh start
  • Pace yourself for a strong finish by the end of the year

Publish Your 2012 Goals

Here are the four goals I need to focus on to finish 2012 with a ticker-tape parade:

  • Complete Story Is a State of Mind, Sarah Selecky’s great online short story course. Find out more here:
  • Restart my exercise routine
  • Complete the first draft of my novel
  • Publish an article or story

Okay, over to you. Where do you find extra power to help you finish? What do you want to accomplish before January 1, 2013? Letting folks know what you are working on can provide more motivation and accountability.

Join the discussion: Let us know your power-finish tips, and your goals. Give us updates on your progress here.