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!

Cultivating Peace

It’s late and I’m sitting in a cozy spot by the fire. The tree is lit by a strand of little red lights that sparkle as they reflect off keepsake ornaments. I’m sipping tea that smells of fresh peppermint and sweet chamomile. The tea and soft blanket around my shoulders warm my body and mind and I look at the gifts, prettily wrapped with heart-felt intentions, under the tree. I remember that the holidays are about love and a special kind of light that glows soft and steady.

I withdraw to the peace of this moment when I need a break from the hustle of the holiday Cultivating Peaceseason. I visit this peace every day by closing my eyes and breathing into the gaps between the chaos. I escape to that peace by the fire before getting out of my car to go into the next store. I can rest in it before opening my laptop to shop online or email the family about holiday plans. It’s so important during this special time of year, to create pockets of time to remember what the holidays are about. There will be chaos, there will be obligations, we will encounter the greed, guilt and consumerism that come with the holiday season. But we can withdraw from all of that. We can look within and return to that cozy place by the fire. We can breathe into silence and keep the stillness with us throughout these crazy days.

Once you create a place for peace within and learn to return to it, create your scene for others. Sit close by the fire and let the silence comfort you and your loved ones. Share a cup of peppermint tea and a blanket. Enjoy a soft, heart-felt conversation. This is the warm holiday spirit we’re all trying so hard to create and provide for our families and friends as we move frantically about the season. Remember that spirit resides in peace; peace within, peace with the members of our families, peace with the universe, peace in silence and stillness. Cultivate holiday spirit and peace this season and bask in the warm, soft glow of love and light.

As published in the December 2013 issue of Curious the Tourist Guide

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.

butterfly

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.

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