Earlier this year, I made a commitment to write to my heart’s desire, allowing the joy and pleasure of creation to flow through me. However, in recent weeks, “business as usual” has become a significant challenge. My planned post about the strength of humor as a coping mechanism and often a healing salve for my own painful experiences, feels wildly distant from my current emotional state.
If, like me, you absorb both knowledge and emotional energies like a sponge, practicing discernment is as essential as breathing. Without it, in difficult times, we risk being swallowed up in a sea of sadness and helplessness. While hope and optimism are at the core of my being, when these deeply ingrained strengths falter, my connection with the world weakens. I can turn almost too inward, and my regular hermit-like tendencies become reclusive, which doesn't benefit me or anyone else. Developing discernment is a practice, and in my case, it's involved a lot of experimenting with different ways of being, hi Goldilocks. Does showing up in this way feel like me? No? Then what does?
Our world is in constant flux, and in the face of this rapid change, we often risk losing touch with our inner compass. Being influenced on everything from what to buy, eat, believe, and how to live, has become so natural that it’s seeping into every facet of our judgment. The digital realm has become a dominant force, drowning out the deep wisdom held within our bodies, which is frequently disregarded. What was once healthy disagreement and questioning has transformed into fighting strangers on the internet who think differently.
I'm continually grappling with how to genuinely support the people in my life, regardless of our differences, striving to offer less judgment and more compassion. While I don't have all the answers, I am committed to nurturing discernment that can withstand the ever-shifting tides of the modern world and inspire others to do the same.
I find myself pondering questions like, 'How can I be of service and stay connected without succumbing to fear or losing myself along the way? Without becoming overwhelmed by the state of the world and how to avoid speaking from a place of misalignment or pressure?' It reminds me of the saying, 'Each step forward sets you free.' So with discernment and integrity as our guides, can we take one step after another, trusting that each step brings us closer to our individual truth?
The beauty of writing for the sole purpose of writing, whether in your journal, in a blog, or a newsletter, is the evolution of thoughts and ideas from a seed into whatever it comes to be. As a life tool, writing gives me space to process. Continually turning over beliefs, fears, raw feelings and reactions that can run the full spectrum of emotions, chipping away until I'm left with something honest. Because something I know to be deeply true about myself is that in order to feel clear, aligned, and conscious in my actions, I have to be able to identify my own emotions from all that I'm taking in around me. I share this not because I want you to adopt any of my approach - unless it resonates - but because I want us to respond to the echo chambers of social pressure and conformity, in the ways that you are uniquely and individually designed to. It might look differently than the next person and I think that's the point. Part of the feeling of helplessness is the inability to "act effectively" so I have to wonder how much are we adding to our own helplessness by reacting from a place of misaligned pressure? What do you need to know about yourself in order to act effectively? With intention and integrity. Each of us has something to give that the world needs and we owe it to ourselves to explore, then trust what that is, each day, in each moment... asking how do I move through preconceptions? Fears? Judgements? And giving ourselves grace when we're reminded that while our souls are infinite, we are also complex humans, and growth is a moving target. In doing so, we create space for more authentic voices, art, stories, or poetry whose purpose is to powerfully depict the times and activate or trigger something within us individually and as a whole. At least that's how I feel.
In the midst of bearing witness to and feeling the heaviness of collective grief and suffering, the need for mindful awareness is so deeply apparent. An awareness that involves being both conscious and compassionately engaged with the reality of our experiences, no matter how troubling they may be. It’s a practice of being present and emotionally connected to the more difficult truths to behold in this world, rather than trying to suppress, deny, or numb. There’s also a layer of self-awareness to acknowledge the way you are being called to respond and navigate these times.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve gathered a few practices that can help rebalance your nervous system, dig deep into your well of personal power, and create space for discernment and self-trust. In practicing mindfulness, we nurture our awareness while cultivating a sense of well-being in the face of shared sorrow.
The physiological sigh, with its double inhale, one long breath in, and a second sharp inhale in, both through the nose and long, slow breath out through the mouth, instantly calms the nervous system by regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, promoting relaxation, and reducing stress. Doing just one to three physiological sighs is enough to instantly soothe your nervous system.
Box breathing is a relaxation technique that involves taking slow, deep breaths in equal parts: inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for four, exhaling for four, and then holding the breath again for four, creating a box-like pattern. This simple exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and provide a sense of calm and focus by regulating the breath and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Music I like to breathe to, especially for techniques like box breathing and a 3-part breathe.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the vital role that mindfulness plays in cultivating empathy, compassion, and a sense of community during collective grief. In building awareness of our own emotions and experiences, we become better equipped to understand and support one another.
In writing this letter I was reminded of the first time I cried in meditation. It was during a Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation. I remember the words crashing over me with permission to love myself through anger and shame, my heart cracking open with love for my closest relationships, and the healing balm of extending that love to the very person who had caused me the most pain throughout my life. It was here that I began to understand that meditation is prayer. Something that I had been terribly missing over the years as I distanced myself from a spiritual path rife with childhood memories of hypocrisy as I witnessed a double life play out between home and church. That shift opened the way for me to reconnect with my spirituality and for that I'm forever grateful. Now, years later, still healing only much more whole, more curious, and open. In the last few months, I've been driven by a pull to Mother Mary. From an intellectual standpoint I wanted to know who she was as a woman beyond the mother of Jesus. I dived into every historical and religious podcast available, reread Sophia Code key code 4 initiation with Mother Mary. When the local catholic church was giving away Mother Mary prayer cards and rosary's, to my surprise, I accepted them. Unsure of what to do, I placed them on my altar. Weeks passed with no thoughts or answers. I got wrapped up in life, a fantasy book series, planning community events, and the devastation and loss happening around the world right before our eyes. I came across this book, The Way of the Rose: The Radical Path of the Divine Feminine Hidden in the Rosary, and in its pages felt so much resonance. One author writes how the Divine Mother throughout history has nearly always appeared on the brink of some great trial to offer light, protection, and hope. To help us imagine the renewal and protection of all life on earth.
I recorded a very short Loving-Kindness Meditation and encourage you to explore the vast library of longer more in depth versions available out there.
If you take away anything today, let it be the significance of discernment, the power of compassion, and the practice of mindful awareness to help yourself, so that you can extend that love and support outward. Let's be there for one another, practice empathy, and empower each other to stay true to our values and inner compass.
May we offer love, hope, and healing to the souls and places hurting and grieving.