Tag Archive | beauty

The Joy Is in the Giving

yellow-tulips

One of my favorite sayings of my spiritual mentor, Jane Elizabeth Hart, is “The joy is in the giving.”

It has taken me many years to appreciate this as more than just a pretty platitude–especially moving into the holidays!

Finding joy in giving means to understand that when we are acting only for ourselves, that energy has no where to go but back to ourselves. This is important, to replenish and refresh ourselves sometimes. But when we give freely with joy and loving kindness, that energy ripples out into the far stretches of the universe! For that moment, we have expanded ourselves far outside of where our energy normally resides. It is like an amazing, huge yoga stretch!

Plus, finding joy in giving makes us want to give more—to re-experience that joy, that refreshing stretch beyond ourselves. Once we get out of our box, we don’t want to go back inside that small space!

Recently, I helped some friends pack Christmas gifts for children in other countries. There were several boxes, and as we filled each one, we were silently blessing each toy and piece of candy. I could imagine the love and joy the child would experience as she or he opened the box—an explosion of love and light! I could feel my own energy expanding beyond myself, beyond this country, rippling throughout the planet.

The song I sung in childhood that reminds me of this concept is “Magic Penny”. Do you remember singing that song? Did you ever realize that the magic penny symbolized your own energy, multiplying and supporting you in infinitely greater ways? Here are a few of the lyrics:

Love is something if you give it away;
You’ll end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny:
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.

As you give this coming holiday season, no matter how big or small a gift, put your energy of love and joy into it, and don’t let it stop flowing at your gift’s recipient—see that love and joy rippling out, sending a wave of blessing throughout the planet.

The joy is in the giving!

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Today Is a New Day

Our country spoke loudly yesterday.

It said to us that there are people who feel angry, left out, disenfranchised, forgotten. It said that people are struggling to feel safe, at peace, secure on a regular basis. It said that people want to be heard, understood, respected.

If those people exist in our country, we have all helped create them and maintain their unhappy existence, even in the midst of our happy one.

So, for those of us who haven’t felt angry, left out, disenfranchised, forgotten, now is the time to reach out, to step out of our comfort zone and lift someone up, lend a hand, notice, listen, love.

For those of us who have felt safe, peaceful, and secure, it is time to spread that peace, to offer safety, and to help secure it for those who haven’t had it.

For those of us with a voice and arbitrary societal respect, it is time to hear the unheard.

Let go of the fear that your clean world is going to hell. We have a family to raise, brothers and sisters whom we have forgotten, ignored, neglected.

Be ready to share. Be ready to give. Be ready to equalize. Be ready to strengthen your insides and help others strengthen theirs.

This is not about now having to protect ourselves. It is about courageous service to humanity.

Love, compassion, action.

lovecompassionaction

Mindful Myth Busting #2: Observing the Mind Is Not the Hard Part


If you’re watching this video or reading this post, you probably already know about mindfulness, the practice of being aware, in the present moment, without judgment. I’m not going to go into the hows of mindfulness so we can focus on busting a myth about it.

I hear from a lot of people that having even a five minute mindfulness practice — or any kind of meditation practice — is too hard because they don’t like to sit and listen to their minds go wild, that that is hard to watch.

But, that’s the point, right? How can we support ourselves day to day if we don’t know what’s swimming around in our head all the time, guiding our behavior when we’re not looking?

If we break it down, it’s not hard to sit and listen to that chatter; most of us can do that. The hard part is having compassion for ourselves and what we carry around with us all the time–those thoughts and emotions that float through our awareness in that five minute practice! That is the non-judgment piece of mindfulness: compassion.

So how do we stop judging ourselves? We are all so good at it! Most of us are experts at finding what’s wrong with everything about ourselves. Learning how to judge ourselves less and display more self-compassion is a practice in itself.

First we have to be aware that we are judging ourselves. A mindfulness practice is great to help us be aware of that. We sit and notice what thoughts float by, then we notice how quickly we jump in with a judgment about that thought. When we can gently observe the judgment, we let it dissipate instead of adding thought power to it.

In our mindfulness practice, we know that we are to notice even the judgment and let it pass, gently bringing our attention back to our anchor: image, breath, word, mantra, sound, etc.

But if you find that you frequently gt caught up in a negative space of judging yourself throughout the day, you might need a little extra backup for yourself more often as you shift from that judging mindset to a more compassionate one.

When you catch yourself in negative self-talk — putting yourself down, criticizing yourself, and so forth — notice that it’s happening, take a belly breath, and ask yourself, “If I had compassion for myself right now, how would this look?”
Most of the time, even just the fantasy of being gentle and kind to yourself feels so much more relaxed and peaceful than a self-judgmental head space.

The simple question, “ If I had compassion for myself, how would this look?” allows us — our real, solid Selves — to take back a little bit of control from the swirling brain commotion that is happening in that moment.

As you continue or recommence your mindfulness or other meditation practice, remember that compassion is the key for gently and efficiently retraining your mind to be more present, aware and non-judgmental throughout the day.

Thanks for watching!

 

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info

https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/

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A Few SAD Ideas to Support Your Happiness

FOOD winterNortherners, it’s that time of year again. The beautiful colors of the leaves trigger the awareness of the impending cold, dreary days ahead, in spite of autumn awe.

My monthly client-load often increases about now, due to what has become known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder; also known as the “Winter Blues”.

And, yes, it’s a thing. Less sun, less vitamin D, increased isolation and home-bodiness, which may mean fewer interactions with friends and family. It’s an imposed hibernation-mode existence…Except, as humans, we don’t hibernate.

So, what can one do to help keep spirits up throughout the cold months?

If you are feeling depressed, can’t get out of bed (versus not wanting to), feel hopeless, isolate from others, or feel suicidal, please get help immediately! You are worth every effort you make to feel better!

Otherwise, I encourage my clients to tackle this season in mind and body:

For the body, there are several recommendations out there for the efficacy of ingesting extra vitamin D supplements. Check with your doctor for specific dosage and type that would be best for your body.

Another popular practice is using a sun lamp for the ultraviolet rays we miss out on when we are covered with layers of home and blankets. Twenty minutes a day, preferably in the morning (don’t use it before bedtime—it may interfere with your melatonin production, and therefore sleep cycle!).

Keep healthy food around. Since many food-focused holidays happen in winter, make sure your food choices are healthier ones. Keep bananas on the table, and apples close by. Snack on fulfilling nuts rather than chocolates (although a little dark chocolate here and there can go a long way!). Try new healthy recipes to occupy the part of your brain that focused on food. As you may have noticed, pumpkin spice goes a long way!

For the mind, exercise! Yes, this is great for your body, too, but exercise will help those good brain chemicals lift your mood throughout your day. Plus it will get you moving and distracted from the cold temperatures.

Every day, remember to acknowledge three things that you are grateful for in your life. Keep it simple, fun, and daily. You can keep a gratitude journal, or share your list of three with your partner or a friend. Studies have shown that three-a-day keeps the blues away, and trains your brain to look for the good in your life.

Go outside anyway! Yes, I said it. Get out in the cold! Bundle up and take a 20 minute walk in the cold. You’ll benefit from the movement, the bona fide sunlight (even through the grey skies!), and overcoming your mind-body resistance to the cold.

Be grateful! Just thinking about a few of your favorite things–anything you are grateful for–changes your brain chemistry for the better! If you don’t think so, try it once or twice when you’re feeling down–it will feel like magic! Your mind will calm, your body will relax.

Don’t let feeling SAD get you down this winter! Get up, get moving, and keep yourself looking for the good in every situation! Winter won’t last forever—even though it feels like it—and you’ll be glad you spent it supporting your happiness!

What Is the Glass Ceiling between You and Your Soul?

2015 Lynn Barrette

2015 Lynn Barrette

Usually when we talk about the glass ceiling, we are referring to that organizational block that keeps us from moving up the hierarchy of a company. But have you ever noticed a glass ceiling on your life’s journey? Have you felt a block that stands between you and the fulfillment of your heart’s desire?

Similarly to a dead end job, our inner glass ceiling can make us feel hopeless, helpless, and like the victim of circumstances. The glass ceiling makes us feel it is impenetrable—why should we even bother trying? Yet, there’s something inside of us that keeps reflecting to us those wonderful possibilities! There are always options open to us, if we are willing to look at them—and take action on them—and allow ourselves to be transformed.

When we moved from Kansas to Michigan, I went through a difficult bout of depression. Even though my children were still young, I had been wearing the identity of “stay-at-home mom” for some time. But, it was no longer working for me, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t see any other options—and besides, I loved my family very much, so of course I should feel terribly guilty for not wanting to be home with them all the time, right?

Guilt and shame made up my inner glass ceiling. I shouldn’t be feeling this way, was my daily mantra. I could hear the possibilities on the other side, but I didn’t know how to get there. As I worked on uncovering the solution through journaling and meditation (and the help of my spiritual mentor and an awesome therapist), I realized I had work to do to move beyond that glass ceiling! Finally, I had the divine idea to go back to school and pursue a career as a behavioral health therapist, blending my spiritual education with psychology to support others in the best way I can.

It cost me time and effort. It forced me to move beyond the guilt and shame of being a full time student, a wife, and a mother—having less time with everyone (but still plenty to go around!). I spent many nights working on ten-page papers, feeling guilty for doing that instead of putting my kids to bed. I worried that my beautifully understanding and supportive husband might feel resentful of his new home duties.

I released my stay-at-home mom self using Jane Hart’s “Seven Steps” process—over and over again until I felt adjusted to my new role as a partner to my husband as we parented together in a new way. I said goodbye to the helpless victim in me as I embraced my new responsibilities as a self-employed therapist and business woman.

The thing about any glass ceiling is that it is only made up of a thin veil of doubt and false beliefs—and perhaps a sprinkle of fear and laziness here and there. When we feel ourselves hitting our heads against it, that’s our call to put our courage on and charge ahead!

What is your glass ceiling? Ask yourself, “What calls to me that I don’t believe is possible for me? What keeps me from trying? What do I need to give up in order to make it happen?” Find those answers within yourself, then move on it, one step at a time. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Scratch the Surface!

Scratch the Surface!

Last month I wrote about the process for spiritual transformation—which includes any kind of change you are making toward expressing your full potential.

The question now is, “How do I support myself in that process?” It seems that there is always something coming up and pushing you buttons, doesn’t it? People or situations demanding that you get out of your comfort zone, reminding you of that other awful thing that happened, and so forth. What do you do with that? It can seem like those “button-pushers” stand in your way, but you can use them to stretch and grow from the inside out.

There are three levels of processing demands: Observe and Release, the Agitated Energy Process, and Journaling to Go Deeper.

Observe and Release

This first level includes those thoughts or situations that come up and are easily pushed out of our minds. The trick is to be aware of those things—to be conscious of the thoughts that are going through your mind at a given moment. Observing your thoughts helps you to release the ones you don’t need and act on the ones that you do.

For example, if you are working on releasing judgmental thoughts of yourself and others, you would need to be aware of when those judgments arose. Once you are aware of them, you simply notice and release them on the spot, rather than jumping into a conversation about them in your head. No need to chastise yourself nor analyze the thought; you know what it is, you noticed it, you let it go. End of story.

Agitated Energy Process

This next level of processing involves looking more closely at what’s coming up from inside you. I learned the “Agitated Energy Process” from my husband, which he had learned from his mentor at the time, the late psychiatrist Dr. Mary Allen. Over the years I have changed it just a little bit in order to make it more accessible to the people I meet in my practice.

Here is the revised process:

1. When you feel emotion in your body, or simply become aware of surfacing thoughts that you aren’t able to Observe and Release, ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I’m feeling?” Try not to think about the answer; just let it surface. Gently label the emotions that you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, fear, or some variation of these emotions?

2. Next, ask, “What story am I telling myself that’s causing me to feel this way?” Again, don’t think too hard about it, just let the story surface. What is the emotion telling you about the situation at hand?

Using the previous example, let’s say I have been doing very well at not judging myself or others—Observing and Releasing like a pro. After a few days, I notice that one person at home or at work who did that thing to me that I keep judging and cannot seem to stop myself. You know who I’m talking about. If I am NOT able to simply sweep it away, most likely it is causing me to feel agitated, which is how emotions show up in the body. That is my wonderful cue to go deeper! First, I label the emotion. Let’s say in this example it is anger. Then I ask myself, “What story I’m telling myself about the situation?” Let’s pretend that I am telling myself, “That person is trying to make me feel bad about myself, and I don’t like it!” Excellent! I allow that subjective observation to surface, without judgment.

3. The final step is to ask, “What is the new perception I could take that would be calming to me?” Here, I am giving myself the opportunity to look at the situation in a different way.

Let’s say the new perception that arises within me is, “I don’t know what is going on with that person, but my job is to be in charge of myself, what I am feeling and doing.” Then do a quick self check-in and see, “Do I feel calm now?” If so, then, I am done with this process. If not, then I can restart at the first question, and repeat the process until I feel at peace. This is a deceivingly effective on-the-spot processing tool since it doesn’t take an hour of journaling, and you can do it anywhere.

What if that process does not calm you? Then what? Ah, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, which I will address next time. In the meantime, pick one of these levels of processing and practice with it. You’ll be surprised at your mental and emotional clarity throughout the day. Let me know how it goes for you! I would love to hear about your experience!

Keep It Simple, Keep It Spiritual

Ahhh, the New Year is upon us, and all the new light and hope it brings! Do you feel uplifted and refreshed at this time of year? If so, it is because there is Universal energy that pours onto us every year!  It gives us that push to better ourselves each new year, and is why so many of us create resolutions.

My motto about New Year’s resolutions has always been: Keep It Simple; Keep It Spiritual.

Keep It Simple:

Ask yourself the following questions for each resolution you want to make.

1.     What is my goal? (Keep it simple, realistic and attainable.)
2.     What would keep me from achieving this goal?
3.     What do I have to give up in order to make this goal happen?
4.     What do I have to begin doing in order to make this goal happen?
5.     What would support me in achieving this goal?
6.     How can I break this goal down into manageable steps?
7.     What is a good first step toward this goal?

This process will help you narrow down your list before it becomes overwhelming and ultimately unachievable.

Keep It Spiritual:

Every year brings ample opportunities for each of us to courageously grow, change, love, forgive, help, and to be kind and generous. Why not commit to an open heart, or listening more to your intuition? With a resolution like that, everything else will follow!

For 2015, keep it simple and spiritual: Commit to yourself, to your conscious awakening—which includes a greater awareness of not only your true self, but of those around you who need more (or something different) from you!

Happy New Year!