A Time for Reflection and Growth

I came across this post on my other blog while preparing for a workshop I’m hosting at my yoga studio on Reflection and Resolutions. I thought it a fitting time, days away from the new year and my birthday, to see exactly what difference a year makes. I did lots of hard work and some serious manifesting in 2013! Here is the post as originally published on the Kristin Daemon journal blog.

Today is my birthday.  I feel fortunate that my birthday comes along with the fresh start of every New Year.  As an adult, I have come to appreciate this and take advantage of that opportunity to check in with myself and look at how far I’ve come, not only in the scope of a new year, but also in the greater scope of my life.  

Our lives stack up so quickly and so densely that it’s necessary for us to look back at intervals after time has made sense of our experiences and removed us from the emotion and fog of it all.  Every year we take on new responsibility and obligations.  We meet new people and have new relationships; we also mourn the loss of people and relationships, and alternately welcome and resist change.  As beings in constant motion, experiencing things on both physical and emotional levels, it’s rare that we take time to sit still and reflect and recognize our process and acknowledge our progress.  When we do take time to do this at the beginning of each year, it’s important to look at these experiences objectively and not to judge anything we did as a mistake or a misstep.  Everything positive and negative we go through leads to a bigger bank of knowledge about ourselves and the world and helps us evolve and make better and better choices moving forward. 

It helps to consider that we often don’t notice the little changes a thing takes to grow, be it a child, a pet or a plant.  But to an outsider looking in who only sees that progress intermittently, the small changes along the way contribute to a great body of change over a period of months or years.  Our lives and our personal progress work like that too.  When I think about all the little changes I made over the course of this year that stacked up to put me here in this time and place under an entirely different set of circumstances than the year before, the progress I made, though it didn’t feel like it along the way, was quite significant. 

Like most people, I think, I tend to get wrapped up in the discomfort of a moment or a series of moments and it’s hard to see the big picture and see that the moments of discomfort I’m feeling during this period of great change are actually baby steps in the right direction; a direction that will take me to my end goal, a life where I get to live my dreams and my passions.  So instead of looking at the discomfort in these moments as obstacles or challenges and dwelling on the sense of unease they create, I need to start looking at them as growing pains.  Instead of feeling down or sad or impatient that I’m not exactly where I want to be right now, I need to appreciate that these moments are exactly what I need to be going through in order to experience expansion.

So now, I set my intentions for a year full of surprises and gifts, challenges and knowledge.  I will leave behind my fear, anxiety, stress and worry over the unknown and choose to embrace it instead.  I will leave behind my unhealthy attachments and create a life of freedom, choices and adventure. 

Happy New Year!

Invoking Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance and good fortune.  She is the embodiment of balance, beauty, grace and wealth. We call to Lakshmi with gratitude when we get a raise at work, discover our purpose or witness a spectacular sunset. We must not forget to ask her blessing when we pray for financial freedom or creative inspiration. Lakshmi’s presence and energy in our lives, whether we are aware of them or not, bring us to appreciate the beauty of our relationships, our surroundings and our experiences. She eases us out of one beautiful moment and leaves us with an innate knowing that another moment will come to capture beauty in a different way, so that we are ever in love with and inspired by life.

Lakshmi is feminine, powerful and the essence of all things that are beautiful. When we consciously invoke her, she is the means to all things we crave in life.  She is the polar opposite of filth, lack and fear. She is a radiant beam of light, love and fulfillment.

What can we do in our everyday lives to embody that radiant energy of the goddess? We can start by making our homes clean, clutter-free environments where we cook healthful meals that nurture our bodies and those of our families.  We can take responsibility for our finances by paying our bills on time. We can stop spending money and energy on material things that will do nothing to improve our quality of life in the long run. Sit and listen to beautiful music that warms the soul instead of zoning out in front of the television, think fondly and without bitterness of past loves. Send light and love to them and to friends and family you miss or who may be ill or depressed. The universe responds to these gestures. When you pay attention and begin to shift your perspective from negative habits and reactions toward positive ones, your soul and spirit will feel light and pure and your body energized, healthy and strong.

Let the goddess into your life and embody her brilliance and beauty. Make your life a place she wants to visit, stay and live. Bring in fresh flowers, light candles, burn incense. Build her a beautiful shrine and pay homage to her presence in every aspect of your life. Have gratitude for the blessings she bestows on you, whether her gift is the money you use to buy groceries, the sweet smell of a garden, or a view of sunlight glimmering on the ocean. And remember that, if you surround yourself with vulgarity, Lakshmi will not stay. She wants to live where there is warmth, respect and appreciation, just like the rest of us.

LakshmiSoften your angry, worried face. Put away doubt and insecurity. Take a deep breath and feel into the beautiful softness of your heart. You have a choice in everything you do; in every action you take. You make a choice to insult or inspire. You choose to compliment or condescend. You can choose to clean your dish or let it sit dirty in the sink. You decide whether to have a cigarette or take a deep breath. The decisions we make slowly become habit. These habits turn into negative or positive cycles and the momentum builds so the pattern, no matter how healthy or unhealthy, becomes a lifestyle. It is harder to change an entire lifestyle than it is to make consistent, positive choices and to have gratitude for the results in each moment.

Whether you’re witnessing beauty in another person, in an experience or in your surroundings, know that true beauty has the potential to wake up the heart and is strong enough to feel like an emotion.  When we express gratitude for these moments, Lakshmi and the universe conspire to send us more.

As published in the October 2013 issue of Soulwoman eMagazine. Visit the website and find my contribution to this month’s issue, Traveling a Path Paved by Purpose on page 53!

Constancy and Change

The river is flowing a different direction today.  It’s funny how quickly something seemingly so constant can just…..change.  It’s made me realize, that there is no such thing as constancy or predictability and nothing should be taken for granted in its present state.  In reality though, I suppose change is its own constant state, isn’t it?  Our bodies change, our relationships change, our surroundings change.  We resist the audacity of change, but sometimes we fail to see that things become stagnant if they stay the same for too long.  To avoid stagnation, we must constantly reinvent ourselves and our circumstances.  Renewal is what keeps us evolving and alive.

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Adversity through change offers us a unique opportunity for learning.  When we get too comfortable with something or with someone, we feel a sense of mastery and we get bored.  Life becomes dull and, sometimes without realizing it, we begin to reach for something new and better.  The universe pays attention to these cues and sends us in new directions.  It sends us new people and new experiences to give us fresh perspective, knowledge, and wisdom.  I feel that we are duty bound to use this wisdom to contribute to, encourage, and inspire others along the way.  You see, those of us strong enough to do so, must press forward through the bullshit and the pain.  We must be a guiding light to others and lead them out of the darkness.  When they see, they will believe, that there is a way out.  When they witness the broken trail and see what we’ve come through, they will be more likely to begin their own journey knowing there is greatness and life on the other side.

Being forced into change is like being pushed, fully clothed, into the water.  That moment of lost control is scary and it takes seemingly long, certainly agonizing moments to rise to the surface and get our bearings.  But as humans, we are built to survive.  You may even find the ground beneath your feet once you have time to take some deep breaths and assess the situation.  Next thing you know, you’re having a lovely swim on a sunny day and have forgotten that you had no intention of going into the water.  Your view of the world and, of your surroundings, has changed and evolved and now, you’re a swimmer.  In the river.  That is flowing a different direction today.

 

Standing in the Power of the Feminine

Think for a moment about power.  What comes up for you in the presence of this word?  In asking myself this question, I answered with an antiquated combination of masculinity, fear, respect, and aggression.  As a strong, capable woman in a modern work force, I had to wonder where these ideas came from and how they managed to take hold in me.  As I began to question this perspective, I was able to untwist this misrepresentation and come up with a more authentic definition for myself.

I decided that power is strength.  Power is confidence in the ability to bring about action and change and gain momentum toward a cause.  Power grows where there is connection and a common belief or conviction and it knows no barriers in race, religion, or gender.  What is power for you?  What do you believe in?  What is your cause?

In 2011, I was in Morocco during the Arab Spring.  The feeling in the air was one of unrest and uprising.  It was an energy charged with fear, excitement, hope, and belief in the possibility of change.  Protests in Tunisia had forced an unpopular ruler to flee.  The people of Egypt bore witness to the events there and began congregating and building momentum and a voice around their own struggle for freedom from a corrupt regime.  The success of the protests and activism in Tunisia had ignited hope in Arab nations at odds with their governing forces and spread the belief that significant change was a real possibility.   Non-violent congregations and protests united men with women and Muslims with Christians in a common movement toward democratizing their political systems and ousting their crooked leaders.  Together, they shared the belief that there was a better and less oppressive solution in democracy.

The Arab nations still have a long way to go in their fight for change in an oppressive political environment, but the spring of the uprisings brought with it an awakening of power for its people.  Through their connection with one another, they gained confidence in their convictions and realized they were surrounded by many who shared the same ideals.  They learned that by putting their fear aside and standing up for their beliefs and shouting them in their cities, things were beginning to shift and their plight was acknowledged by the entire world.

In this spirit of unity, solidarity and the surge of momentum among like minded people, women all over the world are coming together.  They are finding their voice and strength in workshops, classes, and online discussions and groups to connect in their common desire to build a new platform for feminine power.

For decades, in a unified effort to gain equality in the workplace, women have been approaching their careers using a masculine framework for success.  We have taught ourselves to act like men, think like men, and achieve like men to prove ourselves as equals.  This movement has been a necessary part of the process for our integration into a previously oppressive regime and the movement has been hugely successful.  Of course, as Sheryl Sandberg addresses in her new best seller Lean In, we still have a long way to go for real equality, especially at the top.  But there may be a power in the feminine, long put aside that we are overlooking.

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In their course, Feminine Power, The Essential Course for the Awakening Woman, Claire Zammit and Catherine Woodward Thomas are engaging women worldwide in a movement toward embracing their innate feminine attributes as a way to source exactly this kind of power.  In the first session, Claire says:

“Each one of you, in your deepest, most connected moments, senses and knows that you’re here to make a connection, that you have a role to play, and that you’re life matters.  And, so, we are coming together to create the space, to access the power, and to unleash the potentials, so that we, individually and collectively, can come together and rise up into the fullness of who we are.”

We’ve proven to men around the world that we are just as capable, just as ambitious, and just as valuable.  Now it’s time to prove that we can bring even more to the table.  We can be capable, ambitious, and valuable and also be nurturing, gentle, creative, and loving.  We can be assets in ways we are not allowing ourselves to be for fear of having these important qualities rejected in a workplace saturated with masculine energy, generated by both men and women.

In order to put this vision into action, we must begin to nurture our connections with one another.  We must come together and recognize the power in our united beliefs, not unlike the Arab nations did in the spring of 2011.  Once women begin to find fulfillment and greater success in bringing their authentic selves to the workplace, the optimism and desire for change will spread and spark a revolution that is so important for both men and women and their relationship in a modern professional environment.  By embodying rather than fearing our feminine attributes and connecting with other women instead of creating competition and animosity among them, we will begin to realize the sense of connection and power we hold and the positive shift we can initiate throughout the world.

In her blog “The Alchemy of Sychronicity”, Mia Rose wrote “We have to trust that our souls know the way.”  We innately know the power of the feminine from a place in the soul.  We have suppressed some of these cues in the workplace and in our lives and we must believe in their power and begin to re-integrate them.  We must believe in other women and empower them to do the same.  It is crucial that we communicate and support one another toward this common goal.  In doing so, our environments will become softer, more tolerable places to spend our days.  With this new sense of connection, the men and women we are surrounded by will become less fearful, more confident, and more productive.

So Believe in your own power.  Believe in the power of women, united together, to bring about this change.  Share your successes.  Use setbacks as challenges to force you to re-examine and strengthen your platform, reinforce your ideals, and reaffirm your beliefs.  In the same blog, “The Alchemy of Sychronicity”, Mia Rose says “Trust that the right people will continue to appear at the right moments to help carry out the mission.”   Talk to other women about their experiences, aspirations, and dreams.  Find common ground and a place to start and grow.  Make it your mission to establish and strengthen your connection with women all over the world and unite in seeking a better way to live and thrive through a belief in feminine power.

As published in the April 2013 Believe issue of Soulwoman eMagazine, which can be found at  www.soulwomansanctuary.com.

The Path to Transformation

It’s easy to talk about the positive aspects and outcomes of transformation.  It’s easy to look at the before and after pictures of our lives and recap for others what steps we took to get from point A to point B.  What is difficult to understand, especially while it’s happening in our own lives, is that although deeply gratifying, the path to transformation can be a long and arduous one.   Transforming, which, by definition means changing form, is painful and it’s easy to become lost, lonely, and afraid along the way.

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Whether you have chosen to take on a life altering transformation, experienced some catalyst that has landed you in the midst of it, or you are being led to contemplate the journey, my biggest advice is to tune into your heart.  Turn off the noise and fear being generated in your mind by the ego and close your eyes.  Focus regularly on your breath and on the peace and silence that lies within your heart.  The capacity of the heart far outweighs that of the ego.  You hold in your heart all the courage you need to move your life forward and listen to the quiet rumblings of your spirit.  Once you have awakened to the voice of your spirit, you will develop a natural desire to grow and expand.  You will begin to realize how unfulfilled you have become by the control, power, and material possessions that define our Western society’s idea of success.  Begin to answer the callings of the spirit by paying attention to the things and people in your life who allow you to be creative, vulnerable, compassionate, and embody the true essence of your being.  With this new perspective, acknowledge and accept the emotional attachments you hold to people and things in your past that you are ready to release and welcome new, more gratifying relationships and experiences into your future.

With the realization that what you have in the present isn’t enough, comes the fun part of brainstorming and playing with ideas about what you do want in your life and where and how you want to do it.   Think Big.  Maybe you’re being called to move to a new city, try a new career, or kindle the flame of an artistic talent.  Maybe it means calling in a new system of spiritual support, developing deeper friendships, or pursuing a relationship with someone who sees and respects the authentic person you are becoming.  This fun and crucial part of the transformation process is about creating this ever-evolving vision that will become the reward for your efforts.   Transformation is about bringing change and renewal to your entire being and way of life and purposefully molding it into something more beautiful, fulfilling and honest.  This new vision for your life will be your constant motivation.  If you become uninspired by your vision at any point along the way, it’s okay, even important, to evolve that vision in to something even bigger, better, and more beautiful.

Now, from the safety of your caterpillar body, you can see in your mind’s vision the beautiful butterfly you were meant to become.  You see the potential that lies inside of you and are ready for the season of transformation it will take to get there.  You begin to build up the bravery and energy it will take to fuel this evolution and there is no denying the amount of dedicated work, effort, and courage it will take.

This is when the real work begins.  Throughout the course of your life, you put down roots with every decision you make, with every relationship you engage in, and with every task you take on.  Transformation requires the laborious work of digging up these roots and making sure they are replanted in a way and in a place you really want to live.  During the process of uprooting, you will be severing ties that no longer serve you.  It will be difficult and emotional, but from it, you will gain freedom from a life that is suffocating your soul.  During your transformation, you are growing in your capacity for love and acceptance.  You are welcoming the adventure of new and exciting prospects that you have created room for and which will shape the beautiful being you are becoming.  Fortunately, along the way you will begin to build the muscles for this work and it will become easier to see clearly what you want to draw into your life.  With small successes, you will become even more motivated to find happiness and fulfillment.  Though you will still experience highs and lows, anxiety and fear, eventually you will become lighter and less attached to the previous state.  It will become easier to make new kinds of decisions, take new kinds of risks, and give yourself more time to gain new perspective through travel, conversation, and ideas.

At some point, you will come to the realization that the things you’ve drawn into your life are things you can’t believe you ever lived without.  You’ll realize that in the past you were coasting along, just getting by in a world where existence was meant to be so much more.

So during your season of transformation, when you are feeling lonely and confused or like a ship lost at sea, it’s important to dig deep and keep working to get yourself to the other shore.  There is no going back for there is no room in your previous existence for the expanded, enlightened being you have become.  When you are feeling anxious and afraid, tune into the heart’s peace and listen for the wisdom you need to continue along this new path.   Take time to reflect on how far you’ve come; from the old cave of despair and angst to an outlook of passion, excitement, and clarity at the future you are creating.

As published in the March 2013 issue of Soulwoman eMagazine.

www.soulwomansanctuary.com