Joy: Does this Holiday mood elude you?
A client told me yesterday, “I’ve been busy socializing and going to a lot of parties lately. It’s fun, but I actually feel less Joy than when things were quieter, when I had time to meditate. I miss that and want it back.”
She was actually identifying the very nature of Joy. The pleasure we feel when stimulated by a thing can “spike” us into an experience of Joy, which is a very specific state of consciousness. It is wonderful but fleeting event that we naturally seek to sustain, yet may find to be transient and elusive.
That’s because true Joy “arises from within each moment of existence rather than from any outer source.”* Many things that come to us can give us a taste of it, but then they go. How to find a reliable source?
Start with Compassion. It opens the heart and leads to unconditional love. Love, free from fragile sources, teaches us that it is possible to separate how we are treated by people, and life, from how we feel about them. Read these lines a few times. It’s a tall order, but quite achievable.
Our physical world will never be without pain, but long ago it was discovered that we can live full of Love and Joy amidst the very muddy muck in this world. But just as my Joy-less client said, that requires something more than the “stuff” of life. We must go deeper into its essence. That requires getting quiet and still to look beneath acquisitions and actions; to listen below the noise of the mind. Call it contemplation, meditation, prayer, or devotion, it is a key to true Joy.
There’s pressure to be ‘out there” this time of year, but the season more naturally calls us inward to the Self. So light a simple candle and sit. Go in and find the Love and Joy that are inherent in your existence; available for you always. No one can buy it. And once found, nothing can take it away. You need not seek, nor give up, but allow it space to arise. In this way, practice bringing Comfort & Joy into your world.
How do the Holidays make you feel?
Grief & Sadness arise to deal with loss and change. When you once had something that is gone. When you expect or want and hope for something that is not here. Or when you anticipate loss, that something will not last or will never happen… Sadness’ job is to help you adjust to change, change your expectations, and fill the hole that the loss has left in you.
The gifts of Grief are love and Reverence. It is a bittersweet feeling that clarifies what you want, need, and love. Sweet because it opens your awareness. (painfully, yes) to see your heart’s desire. With a bit of practice, the pain of sadness can guide you through the loss by opening your heart so it can lead you to fullness.
To make yourself whole is the goal. To see what the pain wants you to gain; to make the shift from what you don’t have to what you can get; to consciously fill that void… this takes a “critical mass” of energy and clarity. With it you can consciously navigate the bitter and get to the sweet.
Peace Be In You,
I spoke with an old friend who’s having the hardest challenge of her life right now. Health crisis, money crisis, friends and family, living situation…by many measures the worst time of her life. It’s Thanksgiving, but what’s to be grateful for?
Since emotions are the Senses of the Soul, we know that the right thing to be feeling, is exactly what you are feeling. With SOS we accept a negative emotion completely so it can do its job to deliver us from trouble. You feel better when you work with, rather than against difficult feelings.
But you also have the ability to intend a positive emotion and enter that preferable experience. Having control over your ability to feel good is not to be confused with denial and not dealing with real feelings. We want a healthy balance between the ability to deal with real feelings as they arise, and the skill to lead yourself to a state you desire. So let’s practice that with Gratitude as our beautiful emotional goal and see if we can get there.
The amazing power of Gratitude, like every love-awakened feeling, is that it is impossible to feel it and to feel bad at the same moment. An “open heart” is a way we describe a flow of energy that not only feels good, but also does tremendous life-sustaining good for us.
(See “When Gratitude Eludes You” on Senses of the Soul’s YouTube channel for a quick practice to make this more powerful.)
Sit still, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Remember a time in your life when you felt loved. It might have been from a parent, grandparent or a friend, a pet or a sunset; it may have been brief and long ago. A moment of wonderful love that someone gave you; that moved you. Recall it, vividly, with all your senses. Relax and let the pleasant sensations take over your body. Let loving kindness come in abundantly with every breath, and then gratitude for it flow back out with your exhale. Immerse and surround yourself. Enjoy this experience for as long as you wish. It is real, and you created it. Love has a lasting effect: once felt it is forever available.
If you find too much pain inside to open your heart, sadness is another way.
Focus within and feel your own sadness and suffering. It is painful but bittersweet. Let its purifying burn flow through you unrestricted. Now expand awareness to remember all the suffering from your past. Now include the pain of all the people you have known, and so many that hear on the news, see in the streets and can imagine. Go ahead and let yourself feel the immense collective pain of humanity through all time. It all brings you “to your knees”. Our fragility is humbling. From what might start as sympathy, bring forth a desire to alleviate all of that suffering for yourself and everyone. Send out from your heart a burning desire for something better, stronger, higher.
Move your passion into compassion and caring. Once you feel that openness of the heart, love is awakened and available to you. Use it now as you wish; to be kind to yourself, to care about something, To be thankful. That feels good, and in turn does you good.
In Gratitude for You,
Fear, anxiety, worried, “feeling trapped”
Grief, sadness, loneliness, regrets, longing/ missing
Good old Guilt and Shame (not approved of or good enough) Depression, apathy, uselessness, disempowered.
Need a cup of holiday “cheer” to get in the spirit anyone? When we can’t feel spirit, we may reach for ‘spirits’.
Problem: Winter and Holidays bring up a lot of heavy emotions.
Why this common phenomenon? Childhood, home and family are the formative source of our personality, beliefs and ongoing issue-lessons. When we were small, sensitive and vulnerable, difficult stuff happened.
Cause: The winter and holidays both deal with and represent home and family, so “the ghosts of Christmas past” come to haunt us.
Why? This is the ingenious way that emotions work. When they HURT, they ALERT us to a situation in need of correction or healing. A current issue brings forth emotion to help inform and motivate you to resolve it. When a past event brought ups a similar emotion, you are being offered an opening to resolve the earlier unfinished business. Emotions are so infallibly in service of your growth, they stay around for decades awaiting the time you are ready, willing and able to deal and heal.
Deeper Cause: Current issues open a door to learn and heal past issues
What to do? When that priceless door of self-salvation opens, go inside. Come to understand what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and what you need to feel better. Then do that! It’s simple, if not always easy. But, don’t just push on through, feeling but not dealing, fighting but not finding victory, suffering without finding your way out.
Solution: When you FEEL, be REAL, and DEAL with it all.
Need help getting started? Your innate intuitive intelligence is there to guide you. The entire Sense of the Soul body of work is to retrain us to use this equipment, this system of Emotional Self-Therapy.
Here are some succinct resources:
Main Point: Want HAPPY? Deal with HEAVY. When you address and resolve whatever is blocking your flow of peace, you return to that natural state of positive experience.
The Romans had it right with Cupid, their god of Relationships. Cupid, the son of the Mercury (god of communication) and Venus (goddess of Love), was a winged sprite that wore armor and shot love-arrows through the hearts of innocent victims. He perfectly represents the inherent paradox we all deal with in relationships – we must open our hearts to receive love, but then we are vulnerable to being hurt.
No one wants to get hurt. The urge to protect is a survival instinct – it’s a biological priority and a primary need. But a truly, embodied, self-actualized life requires relationships. You can live without meaningful connections, but you can’t realize your greatest self that way. There’s the rub that causes friction in every person. You need safety to survive – You need connection to thrive.
In a healthy relationship, when problems arise you work through them and restore safety so that you can resume loving one another. But when safety is not restored and every one keeps going as if nothing happened, the relationship can turn dysfunctional. Whenever you consciously want love, but subconsciously feel unsafe, the love will not happen. Survival instincts win out every time. You try and try but the relationship will either end, turn sour or never go into deep intimacy.
How can you resolve this hard-wired conflict?
First, understand the dilemma and observe the two urges in yourself. Meditate on memories of wanting relationship, of conflicts in relationship, and of the outcomes to those conflicts. Feel the pull of longing, then the push-away from difficulties that arise. Get the two kinds of emotional messages clearly: wanting love and then the feelings of anger, fear, sadness, giving up.
Next, achieve both! Once you can decipher the purposes in all those feelings, align them to work together rather than against each other. You desire a relationship of trust wherein you don’t need to be on guard. But in order to open up to that degree, you need to establish your safety. This requires some skill!
Unless you had great relationship models growing up, this skill-set is not automatic. This is why there are so many relationships in need of support right now. People believe that relationships should be like driving blind- but they aren’t. Luckily, you can learn these skills and they can start to help you right away!
– Be in touch with your own needs. You have to know yourself, and what really makes you feel safe.
– Ask for it. Get comfortable with asking for what you need, setting boundaries around your safety and taking care of yourself FIRST.
A lot of people have trouble with these simple, but important skills. They often feel like they are being selfish or cutting the other person off. Let’s be clear. You want to open up and be in true relationship. That means you need to establish safety. We know that love can’t happen without safety, so start making sure it happens.
Take these recommendations and see how incredibly deep your love can become!
Are you an Emotional Anorexic? Do you live on dangerously low levels of love?
When we are trained in a love-lean environment, we continue to find ourselves living off of similar proportions. And though you may crave more, you actually subconsciously limit the love you allow yourself to receive. This causes a lot of pain and sorrow.
Unfortunately, like most people with a withholding condition, that pain become a form of bittersweet fulfillment, a “next best” emotional state. Most people tend to enter into a feedback loop of feeling pain but unconsciously seeking experiences that drive more of it- like an lonely Valentine’s Day, a date-less wedding event, or a solo Friday night – in order to feel “complete.” This is how Dante imagined purgatory (which is neither heaven nor hell): Starving people chained just out of reach of a table full of luscious food.
In order to perpetuate this pattern, in which we are comfortable, we tell ourselves that there is a scarcity of love. There aren’t any good men or women out there. Or your not a good man or woman. Either way, we tell ourselves there isn’t enough. But that just isn’t true.
Love is abundant, infinite and limitless. Love sometimes get’s expressed through people and things, but is actually boundless and has no exclusive source. From this perspective, going without love is like standing in the all- you-can-eat buffet wondering why there is no food for you to eat.
Want out of that cycle? Everyone else is filling their plate. You can too!
STEPS OF RECOVERY
1- Recognize the Pattern – Just seeing the pattern will initiate change. By seeing this as a pattern but not the only reality, the mind knows there is another possibility and looks for a way out.
2- Be willing to leave the safety and comfort of a life without love – Never having closeness with anyone does avoid a lot of problems. Aloneness IS easier than dealing with a real person. But if you want a relationship, and most do, you have to be willing to move our of your comfort zone. Some people decide, upon clear review, that they really do prefer living with themselves as partner. This could be you, but don’t assume it is, do some soul-searching.
3- Don’t hold out for conditions – You don’t need a better partner, a perfect partner or even a partner at all. If you are committed to experiencing love, you can start no matter where you are and what you have. Don’t hold out.
4. Start a Self-Love Makeover – The best place to begin experiencing love is with yourself. One of my favorite Rumi quote challenges, “Start a huge project. Like Noah!” A Self-Love Makeover is big endeavor, but can you think of any project more worthy?
For a lot of people, myself included, Self-Love is a hard place to jump to. Self-meanness and negative self-talk is an all-too-common, extremely damaging habit. Instead of trying to get to Self-Love right away and then getting mad at yourself when it doesn’t work, try starting with Self-Niceness. Treat yourself graciously. Do intentional acts of self-kindness like a taking simple walks in nature, presenting yourself with tokens of love, and praising yourself. Give yourself time for rest, fun, money, friends, and meaningful work. If you can manage just to be nice to yourself, you’ll be really far along in your journey!
Kick off your project on Valentine’s Day. Use the weekend to take some significant steps.
Then tell me on Facebook how your Self-Love Project is going!
Is this you, or have you ever seen anything like this? You, or a someone you know, is in a perfectly loving relationship. Everything is cozy and complete. But you or your friend feel scared. You’re not satisfied. Everything is great, but it’s just not enough. So you leave!
Meanwhile, your partner is giving with their whole being. They are happy in the relationship and willing to work hard to make it grow. Their only upset is that they are frustrated when all the love they give is rejected.
Be honest, are you been running this treadmill? Do you feel dissatisfied, even when things are going great? History could be confining your heart.
This month, many people are starting to think about relationships. How they’d like to have one, or how they’d like to improve the one they are in. More love is available right now. Here’s a simple meditation to help you expand your capacity for love.
Expand Your Capacity to Let Love In:
Sit down comfortably in a quiet place. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Tune into the warmth of your body, your heartbeat, the air in your lungs, and peaceful sounds around you. Mentally talk nicely to yourself.
Now, imagine that you are inhaling, deep and steady, through the center of the chest. Exhale and release through the sternum area. Feel that this breath is love, easily coming and going.
Bring in memories of anytime you have loved or felt loved, past or present. Bring to mind memories like kisses, hugs, smiles and sunlight. Search through your world and gather bits of support, coziness, acts of kindness given and received, anything that feels good. Bring it in from all sources into the heart, like a hummingbird drinking nectar. If you notice a feeling that it is “too much”, relax more and let it on in. Expand the breath and imagine the vast space in your chest growing. Take in as much love as you can. See for yourself that your World and the Universe have an infinite supply of this energy.
This meditation helps you get accustomed to a higher level of love, even if you came from a past were love was scarce. Practice often. When you get accustomed to feeling lots of love often, more starts coming to you from the outside.
If you did this meditation just now, let me know how it went on the SOS Facebook Page !
Was there anything about last year that you didn’t feel good about? Those feelings are your clues to what you want to improve this year. The question is, do you pick up and follow the clues? That’s what Senses of the Soul is all about, listening to your emotions so that you know what you want and what you need to do to get it. Do you know what will make you feel better about this year and your life? Emotional Health!
Emotional Health is when you neither suppress your emotions nor let them overwhelm you and run your life. Instead, Emotional Health is when you feel your emotions in a neutral manner, and let them guide youth solutions. Your emotions have functions, they are guideposts for how you can get back to happiness. For instance, the feeling of Fear encourages your to investigate your surroundings and see where you need more safety. The feeling of Guilt leads you to investigate your ethics. You’re best life happens when you listen to your deepest truth; your emotions will show you that truth.
Whatever intentions you made this year, you need a plan and a support structure to see them through. That could be a gym and a trainer if you want to improve your fitness, a financial adviser, or taking a class to learn something new.
If you are planning to take your Emotional Health seriously this year, Senses of the Soul is the way to do it! SOS is a cutting edge system, support structure and personal training course all in one!
Here are some easy ways to stay on track with your SOS journey:
Everybody always wants to feel cozy and bright as the weather turns cold and the days dark. In pursuit of that common goal, there is a lot of cultural prompting to do so, but little real support. You can’t be of good cheer on command, that comes only when you have truly taken care of yourself and all that would be blocking the flow of spirit. In the winter time, humans are naturally more reserved and inward looking, it’s a time more appropriate for us to burrow in, to rest, review and restore – just like many plants and animals are doing. No one can tell you how to feel, so please recognize the pressure to “be happy” this time of year. Rather, work with what is authentically happening inside yourself.
Our prevailing culture prizes behaviors that, when you think about it, are very artificial. Life seeks balance. There is a time to laugh, a time to cry; a time to sow, a time to reap.
A successful friend of mine was staying at our house a few years ago. After she came in from a long day full of exciting meetings and shopping, she changed clothes got ready for a dinner date. She flopped down on the couch in the minute she had while she waited for her date to pick her up. She asked me, “What can I do for tiredness?” She was hoping for a secret yoga tip or herb to keep her going. I said to her, “Rest!”
I suggested to her that tiredness is her body’s way of asking her to relax and replenish her reserves. This thought had never occurred to her. It took a while, a full on collapse later on – for her to learn to balance her output of energy and her need for rest. Now she enjoys being busy, but she knows to take a break when her body or spirit says, “Enough!”
This holiday season, make sure to relax and nourish yourself. There’s always pressure to have a great time, or to take care of your family. Balance you extroverted activities with time spent just nurturing YOU! When your energy is contained, it can flow. Then the holidays can be truly enjoyable!