Spring is springing, birds are singing, I am centered, simply being!
We are well into the new year now. How are you doing with your new year commitments? Are you doing one action every day that will support your day and life being more fulfilling to you? Don’t stop now—you’ve traveled to far! Today is your day to achieve your whole self!
What is one thing you can do to support yourself staying on track each day? A few minutes of meditation!
In one of the online Monday Morning Meditations (Mmm!)* last month, we emphasized how the practice of simply being reminds us of who we really are: Human Beings, instead of human doings/thinkings/havings/wantings. Indeed, we are even Being beyond our humanness—we are spiritual beings! Our Beingness is the only part of us that remains when we set aside our thinking, doing, having, wanting in our time of meditation.
We step away from our tasks of the day and week. We set aside our doings for the day, set aside our thoughts, our wants, our shoulds, our belongings, our everything on the outside. What is left? Our quiet, powerful Presence, our ever-present, unchanging Being.
Being present in Beingness is simple, but our mind/body system isn’t used to it. The mind has been so accustomed to thinking/solving/doing/wanting, that simply being is at first (and for a while!) a difficult task—like putting magnets together at the same pole: Our mind wants to repel that silence! It doesn’t know what to do with it!
To help that wild and wonderful mind, we must gently and relentlessly persist in sweeping away the myriad of thoughts and impulses that arise when we sit and look at our insides.
Every day for a few minutes—I recommend starting with five minutes—sit somewhere comfortable. You can add candles, music, pictures, whatever helps you settle in. Close your eyes and find a place in your body where you feel the most calm and grounded (solid). It may be a different body area every time you meditate—that’s okay! Let your attention rest on that area, noticing its calmness.
Next, notice your breath for a few moments. Make sure it is moving from your belly versus your chest, called diaphragmatic breath, or belly breath. This breath is naturally calmer, deeper, and soothing to the body. Just let your breath move at its natural pace; no need to control it.
Then from your calm, grounded place, simply BE. Watch all the thoughts that come and go, seeming to disrupt your peaceful presence. Notice that they go as quickly as they arise. Just let them, and BE.
You may spend the entire five minutes with a busy mind, but as long as you are tuned in to that calm place, you will notice your quiet beingness emerge more and more over time. You are retraining your mind/body system, so it takes time and practice! Be patient, be gentle, be willing to find your Self simply being.
*You can find information on Monday Morning Meditation (Mmm!) at CenterForDynamicHealing.com. You are welcome to join me live every Monday for a 30-minute meditation to begin your week from your center. 9:00 am Central Time.Subscribe to the Center for Dynamic Healing YouTube channel so that you’ll be notified of new meditations as they are posted.
Each new year brings new energy and a renewed desire for change! How are your New Year’s Resolutions going at this point in our new year?
Often when we have something we want to change in ourselves, the first response we have is excitement and zeal for our changes! But when change doesn’t come as easily as we wanted it to, anger, frustration, and apathy can seep in. We then try to go about our desired change with a hammer over our heads (if we don’t give up on it altogether)!
How many of us do well while getting bossed around, criticized and rejected? It might work for a little while—or a long while, if we are over-tolerant—but after a time, we stop trying so hard, or try to get away from the hammer, thus avoiding the project at hand altogether.
We are better at changing when we have encouragement, acceptance and a caring eye guiding us in the new behavior.
Who is the best person to do that for you? Maybe you have a supportive friend, or an encouraging therapist or group you attend. But you are with you all the time! You are the one who will walk with you through all of the ups and downs of life—which includes those internal conversations!
Here are a few ways to encourage yourself through any change you want to make:
Love first: Ask yourself, “What is there to love about the situation as it is?”
Take one change at a time. Too many changes too fast wear us out! This is why so many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned.
Visualize yourself already changed. What does that look like? See yourself happy and enjoying the results of your efforts! Spend five minutes each day with this exercise. Take notes on how it feels. You will likely come up with new steps toward your goal!
Use lovingkindness. Imagine what you would say to your best friend who was going through a change. Is your self-talk matching what you would say to someone else? If not, write down encourage statements, affirmations or mantras, and place them around your home, car and work.
Exemplify patience. Remember these kindnesses when you are working with others during changes. Patience with others helps us have more patience with ourselves.
A little love goes a long way to melt raw materials and create a masterpiece. Take a best friend with you throughout 2023…YOU!
You are your Divine Self. That Higher Self lives through you as your personality self. It is your responsibility to cooperate with and support that Divine/Higher/Authentic Self to have room in your mind, heart, and through your actions.
Here are some steps you can take to support your Authentic Self:
Define your Authentic Self
Who are you? Who do you want to be in this lifetime? How do you want to show up in the world?
What are your desires, your values? What is important to you?
Meditate for five minutes (or more!) every day. Spend time getting to know your Higher Self!
Do your thoughts, words, emotions, and actions line up with how you want to be?
Are your decisions supporting you in becoming more of your Authentic Self?
Heal what needs to be healed as is revealed to you.
Look within. Observe with compassion any triggers or missteps that come along.
Ask yourself, “If I were coming from my Authentic Self rather than my personality self, how would I see this situation differently?”
You are in charge of how much of your Authentic Self gets to dance in your world! Do you want it to be a little here and there, or a whole lot? Every day is a new opportunity to discover more of your Authentic Self!
My love to you all!
Lynn Barrette, LCSW – Lynn (“Mikki” Michael) Barrette was the Y.O.U. International President from 1988-1989, Midwest Y.O.U. Regional Representative from 1987-1988, and worked at the Association of Unity Churches (now Unity Worldwide Ministries) from 1992-1993. She served in many roles in Unity churches in Florida, New Mexico, Kansas, Michigan, and Illinois.
Lynn is a licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor, and leads classes, webinars, and workshops on spiritual psychology. Her heart’s desire is to support others in being more attuned to their Higher Self. Her private practice, Center for Dynamic Healing, has offices in Illinois and Florida. Visit her website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel for more information and support for your soul!
Created for the Youth of Unity (Y.O.U.) Authenticity Faire, October 15-17, 2021
I have finally jumped on the bandwagon of binge-watching “The Crown” on Netflix. That is not my usual favorite FBI mystery-chase-find the bad guy genre; but, I got hooked pretty quickly.
My favorite episode is in season two. Phillip, Duke of York, husband of Queen Elizabeth, has already spent years being a bit…shall we say, antsy? The year was 1969, and Phillip became obsessed with the upcoming Apollo 11 launch and potential walk on the moon. Phillip was a pilot and loved to fly. The thought of being in outer space seemed to be his ultimate idea of awe, freedom, inspiration. He wasn’t at that time a religious person; indeed, he didn’t care much at all for church or the like. But the idea of flying in space! That was his idea of religion!
He watched the historic landing and walk enraptured in front of the royal television with the other royal family members. He was so moved by the experience that when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were invited to visit Buckingham Palace, Phillip made sure to have an intimate meeting with them. He was humbled by the greatness he bestowed upon them and their accomplishment. He could barely speak when he asked, “What was it like to be up there?” He waited with great expectation for them to describe a bliss-like experience of natural and scientific wonder!
What he got instead were three tired astronauts with colds who shared that, really, there’s not much time to look out the window, with all the checking of boxes and switches that need to be just so. They were, however, in absolute awe of the palace and mystique of being a Royal, and all the glamour that must encompass! They had many questions for Phillip, and delighted in flitting about the castle looking at its ornate furnishings.
Phillip was struck by the disappointment of it all. He put so much expectation into that experience of outer freedom (and we’re talking way outer!) only to be disillusioned. To top that off, his mundane, confined experience of being a Royal was the subject of awe of those on the outside.
At that point, Phillip had an epiphany. He realized that the only true subject worthy of awe and wonder was the mystique of the Divine, and that was worthy of pursuit and exploration. He joined with a clergyman and helped create a retreat center where religious leaders could come and rest, reflect, and renew. Before his recent death, Phillip was heard to say that the retreat center was his accomplishment that he was most proud of.
How many times have any of us put all of our awe and wonder eggs into one basket, only to have the “wah wah” experience of disappointment? Or, perhaps for a short time, our expectations lived up to themselves, but then it was over and back to “real life”?
This is our human experience when we are endeavoring to seek inner fulfillment in outer circumstances. Material possessions, relationships, accomplishments are all wonderful parts of human existence, but a small part of why we are here. Any experience outside of our inner Self won’t ever satisfy the deep hunger in our souls—a hunger that has been there since our souls were first created. Some call it “the hole that only God can fill”, or “the Pearl of great price”. Whatever you want to call it, it is the invitation to explore the vast depths of our internal existence. Intuition can be strengthened, wisdom can be accessed, True Love abounds and begins to become part of who we are.
Think about your inner freedom this month. The freedom of our country is worthy of reflection. Walking on the moon is also worthy. But, the only lasting freedom is the one we seek inside through meditation, reading mystics’ teachings, finding your True Self. You are eternal. That experience is your freedom. And, of course, the Fourth is always within you.
Are you tired of dealing with the pandemic yet? Join the club! Yet, here you are, so how are you supporting yourself?
Being aware of your internal reactions to what is happening is essential to staying current with your mind/body system during this time. Perhaps one day you are acutely aware of what is happening, another day you feel distantly removed from the moment-by-moment impact the virus is having on our planet. Perhaps you are staying blissfully positive about the healing that will take place from this global “pause” that is happening. Perhaps you want to stay positive but are also feeling worry or even fear about potential outcomes.
All of these are valid responses—and any other reactions on that continuum. To deny either is to miss an opportunity to be present with and support yourself during this unique experience. Observing your ups and downs can be simple (even if not always easy!) if you keep in mind this cycle:
Body sensation, emotion, emotional thoughts, rational thoughts, new perception.
When you’re paying attention, you can often notice your emotions as body sensations. Sometimes the emotional thought comes first, then a body reaction happens. Either way, when emotions come up in the body, the body needs to be calmed before you can reach a new, calming way to hold your experience.
To calm the body, first have compassion for whatever thought or emotion is coming up for you. Remind yourself that this will pass. Ground yourself by going for a walk, focusing on your breath or a bit of nature outside of your window. Ask yourself, “What emotion am I feeling?” This question starts the movement from body to mind process.
The next step is validation of the emotional thoughts coming up. I call this the emotion’s “story”. Once you name the emotion, ask, “What is this emotion’s story?” What is it saying? COMPASSION is again necessary! Try not to judge the feeling/emotion, no matter how irrational it seems. Journal, talk to someone, or say it out loud to yourself. By listening to your inner reaction, you are being a good friend to yourself!
The next step is asking for a new perspective, moving up to the rational thinking mind. Ask yourself, “What is a new perception I can take that will be calming to me?” Journal your options, talk through them. What is in your control to do, say, change? Anything? Maybe awareness and validation are enough—and often, it is.
When you go through a difficult experience, having validation is important but sometimes hard to find. Self-validation far outlasts any validation you could receive from others.
This is the simple three-step process:
What am I feeling?
What is the story this emotion is telling me?
What is the new perception or action I can take that will be calming to me?
Daily meditation is calisthenics for being able to manage your emotions. During meditation, you are practicing sitting with yourself, being aware of body (comfort, discomfort) as well as thoughts and emotions. You are practicing tolerating all of your mind and body stimulus – just BEING with whatever shows up, without judgment. The result is that you are able to be more aware, mindful, calm(er), of your whole self when something triggers you during the day.
Check in with yourself daily. Keep up with your internal process during this unusual experience we are all going through. Reach out for support or a listening ear. Find things to be grateful for and to laugh about. Most of all, be a good friend to yourself.
Are you aware of the spiritual school of life that is teaching you all the time?
Every day you wake up is a new day in spiritual school. Your life is your classroom, and all those around you are your classmates! This spiritual school has structure, lesson plans, and homework!
What does spiritual school structure look like? Since you don’t have a specific, physical classroom to go to everyday, you have to create your own daily structure that supports the rest of your learning. Lessons are always coming your way; having a daily structure in place gives you the mental and emotional space to be aware, receptive, and ready to tackle the lessons that arise.
Do you have a daily prayer or meditation time? A 10 minute time set aside to journal about your day, what came up for you, what you learned, or what you’re grateful for? Do you make your bed in the morning as an outer ritual representing setting the intention to be responsible for what belongs to you in the day’s lessons?
A few years ago, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven shared with University of Texas, Austin, graduates that making their beds in the morning was the best way to start their day. Among chuckles, he reiterated that making your bed is “accomplishing the first task of the day”, giving you confidence and motivating you to accomplish your next several tasks in your day. One accomplishment leads to another, and each “little thing” you do for yourself supports the bigger things that arise.* Every step we take to be on target with your day, supports your spiritual growth as well!
Having structure holds the space for everything else you do during your day. If you don’t have at least an idea of how each day flows, you have to spend time each day figuring out your structure–with less time left to handle the lessons that are taking place all around you! You don’t want to be rigid with your structure either, however. Then you are spending all your energy controlling your structure, which also takes your focus away from what you’re really supposed to be doing–learning!
And oh, those spiritual life lessons! The major lesson in spiritual school is mastering yourself. There is a lot floating around in your mind/body system. Your job is to learn to sort out what is real and what is not.
There’s a saying that goes, “God made man in God’s image, and man returned the favor.” Everyone has a false “god”, or authority figure, in their minds that erroneously critiques along the way. Your spiritual school lesson is to kick out that negative voice and replace it with what is real and true about you. If you believe what created this universe is loving and wise, then so that must be true about you.
As a therapist, I can often sense that when people first come in to see me, they are expecting me to confirm that negative voice in their heads. “I’m disorganized, I don’t eat right or exercise, I yell at my kids…I’m a mess!” But what I see is a soul in evolution doing the best they can, while that critical voice in their heads is telling them everything they do is wrong. It’s lying to them, just as the negative voice in your head is whispering “alternative facts” at you throughout the day. Pay attention to it–then say, “NO!”
Spend some time daily “marinating” in the feeling of being 100% okay, even as you are learning and growing every day. Have a meditation practice as part of your spiritual school structure, and sit with the feeling of peace, even if you have to just pretend what that might feel like. Cultivate the opposite sensations of “I’m not okay”, and watch that new experience support you fully!
The next chapter to that lesson in mastering yourself is to practice forgiveness. The need to forgive is all around! Parents, kids, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, other drivers on the road, pets… Ev. ‘Ry. Where.
Our family dog has had issues with his ears since he was a pup. My job was to put medicine in his ears, a process he actively hated early on. We had some pretty serious tussles. We struggled and growled at each other, but I never bit him back. I did, however, realize that there was a very thin line between “I’m not a violet person” and “Worth it”. I finally realized that since I am the more evolved species of the two of us, it was up to me to do a little forgiveness work on this canine so that at least one of us was mature and calm. After that, I was able to take less personally his survival instinct struggles and administer his ear medicine. Today, he is patient and happy to get his bribe, er, treat afterwards.
There are a couple tools that I like to use, both personally and in my practice, that help master emotions. So here are handouts for your spiritual school assignments!
You can use this graphic to measure where you are on the emotional mastery scale at a given moment. A “5” on the thermometer is a neutral state. Anything below a 5 is emotional overload, whether the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, or ecstasy (read: mania). Above the 5 is your clear-thinking state. The higher you go, the more intuitive connection you can experience. When you feel yourself in your emotions, or below a 5, don’t take action. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask, “What emotion, if any, is running me right now?” Use the emotion to discover, process, and release what you need to as part of your spiritual school homework. Lighten your load!
Another handout for this spiritual school lesson is called the “Agitated Energy Process”. I use this simple, three-step process frequently in my practice, as well as with myself. It goes like this:
1. When you feel agitated (stressed, tense, emotional), ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I am feeling?” (Use emotion words to label what you are feeling; i.e., anger, hurt, sadness, fear, frustration, etc. This is a brief one or two word response. Take emotions one at a time and keep it simple.)
2. Then ask, “What story am I telling myself that is causing me to feel this way?” (What is the emotion telling you/saying? Remember, sometimes this story has some facts to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always telling the truth about those facts. Even when it is telling the truth, the awareness that the “truth” is agitating you means that there’s a perspective shift that needs to take place.)
3. Then, “What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?” (What comes up as your new way of looking at the situation?)
Do you feel calm once you’ve walked through the process? If so, you’re done! If not, repeat the process until you feel relative peaceful and calm in your body. This is a great daily emotional/mental/spiritual hygiene practice!
Spiritual school is like a Montessori-style classroom: No matter where you are, there is someone you can help along the way; and, there is someone who can help you take your next step. Spiritual service to others is part of our spiritual school homework!
When you wake up in the morning, spiritual school is in session! Set your intention for the day. Make your bed and say, “Okay, Universe, help me see my lesson today, and give me the support to master today’s lesson!”
Although they’re not for everyone, especially when someone is in crisis, apps can help us become aware of what needs adjustment in our thinking and perceptions. When we pay attention to the emotional noise going on in our minds and make adjustments to our thinking and behaviors, we are one step closer to supporting our healing.
As a therapist, I often hear the question, “Why should I spend time on things that have already happened?” It’s a valid question, based on how we have been taught to understand time.
Time, according to our academic learning, is on a timeline, where today is a physical spot on that timeline, and something that happened when were four years old, let’s say, is a certain distance away from where we are standing today. That is how we have come to measure time—that we can have a measurable physical distance from an experience we have had.
But in consciousness, in our psyche, that’s not how time works. Within us, our mind/brain/body connection, we carry all of those experiences around with us in this moment. All of the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and more, that we have ever had are stored in our amazing system we have as a soul living in a human body. We don’t gain a physical distance from those experiences; they are with us all the time.
For example, when we learn something, that new knowledge stays with us. In first grade, I learned that one plus one is two. I didn’t leave that knowledge back at my six year old self in time. I brought it with me, and it was reinforced over and again. I learned and used that knowledge as I grew, experienced, and learned more about numbers.
We do that with all experiences. We experience, and gather information, make decisions, have feelings, and create beliefs around those experiences; then take all of that with us moving forward. Sometimes those decisions, information, and beliefs are erroneous, but they are temporarily stuck in our programming. When we look at past experiences, we can uncover those faulty thought patterns, and be more able to consciously reprogram ourselves today.
We address our past in so far as it is getting in the way of our present experience and expression. What tools have you used to heal from past experiences?
No, I’m not talking about soccer. Or rugby. Or quidditch.
I’m talking about those goals you made last month for the new year. How are they going for you?
Committing to a goal is exciting. It brings with it new energy, new hope for happiness, and…change. Uh-oh. There it is. Change. Our commitments require us to change. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need to commit to something in the first place, would we? We often secretly expect new year magic to come in and make us different so we can have the outcomes of our new year’s goals…which come from the awareness that we need to change. See? Tricky!
Let’s look more closely at what our resolutions really require us to do. Run one of your goals through the following questions to see what you are really committing to:
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?
Knowing what we are in for when committing to anything helps us know how to be prepared and advocate for our success. You are an evolving soul that embraces change. Cooperate with that metamorphosis!
Watch for tomorrow’s video on generating the motivation to reach your goals!
When it comes to working with emotions, I hear from a lot of people, “I don’t want to feel _________” (insert tricky emotion here). While we certainly don’t want to get stuck in an emotional experience, emotions are there to help us resolve whatever might need to be resolved within us.
Neuroscience tells us, “Name it to tame it”. When we can label our emotion, it instantly becomes more manageable than when it stays at a somatic (body sensation) experience.
In psychology, Carl Jung taught us that making the unconscious conscious is our way to healing. This is certainly true in our spiritual expression as well.
In this video, I teach you a three step process that I’ve been using for over two decades, and frequently use with my clients and in classes that I facilitate.
The steps are three questions to ask yourself when you become aware of an emotion:
1. What is the emotion I’m feeling?
2. What is the story this emotion is telling me?
3. What new perspective could I take that would be calming to me?