Today I offer Part 2 of a Pure Presence Podcast, the follow up I promised from last month's "Entering the Morning Graciously."
In the podcast, you will find guidance about how to create an evening and bedtime routine that nurtures presence, ease, and comfort, while also providing restful sleep. I've used this routine, "A 30-Minute Evening Detox," for many years and it has truly transformed by life. Many individuals struggle with sleep issues, even nighttime anxiety and nightmares. I hope these suggestions help.
Peaceful sleep and dreaming to you!
http://www.awakenedliving.com/PresenceBlog/eveningroutine.m4a. (16 min.)
I'm surprised at how often I remember the character, "Roseanna Danna", played by Gilda Radner on the TV show Saturday Night Live? Her wise-mouthed mantra was, “It’s always something!” It's true! It IS always something, something that will yank us out of any sweet spot of serenity we’ve found. Such is the nature of life as a human being.
The "something" that upsets our equanimity can be big or small, seemingly trivial or completely life-altering. As I read through headline news these days, it feels as if there are more somethings than ever before. At least that's what my anxiety prone mind tells me. In truth, life has always been difficult for humans for as long as we've inhabited the earth. Violence is ever-present and the suffering it creates as well. Sickness, old age, and death are but a blink away.
With all these somethings going on, how can we stay in touch with a more balanced state of mind, our wise and hopeful heart? For me, it always comes back to re-connecting with my breath. This breath is not just any breath but, to me, a sacred breath. Breathing in, breathing out, with "restful purposefulness" welcomes me Home.
These days, I am engaging with my breath in this welcoming way as if each breath I take actually whispers "Welcome back" into the ear of my heart. The tone of this wise voice is sweet, full of loving-kindness, ever so gentle. It comes from a part of my own self that recognizes how other parts of me have wandered too far afield and how they long for a loving embrace.
Breathing in, "Welcome back. I am glad you're here."
Breathing out, "Rest in this moment."
Breathing in, "Welcome back. You are home."
Breathing out, "Let go and simply be here now."
What words of welcome might your inner wisdom whisper into the ear of your heart?
Lovely friends, with so much turmoil engulfing our planet, our hearts can feel equally troubled and agitated. We long for answers, for relief, for an end to the suffering of so many, including ourselves. These are difficult times, no doubt.
We are encouraged to not remain silent to injustice and to lift our voices; to act on our convictions. There is another inner voice which also claims to be heard now too. It is the voice of silence and discernment; a call to inner quietude to rebalance ourselves. This is vitally important so that we can think clearly and act with wisdom.
It is impossible to think and act wisely if we cannot access any degree of calm within us. Calm = Clear = Wise.
A few years ago, I wrote this article for Spiritual Director's International: "Finding Inner Refuge in Trouble Times." Clearly, what I wrote about is still applicable and especially so today.
I hope you will find it helpful and take a few extra moments to work with the practice. May relief and refuge be yours.
Read it here: www.sdiworld.org/blog/finding-inner-refuge-troubled-times
May Love hold us.
Recently, I'd been meeting up with spiritual friends on Zoom on Saturday mornings. We'd share sacred space and engage in contemplative practice together. We did this for a number of Saturdays in the early and middle days of Covid-19 as a way to connect with one another and also to "what matters most": our peace, love and gratitude, even in a difficult time. As summer arrived in the northern hemisphere, we decided our group meditation time was done as many of the women were eager to get out in their gardens, or walk, and simply enjoy this beautiful weather. I am so grateful for the time we shared together.
Missing them and our gatherings, I created a Guided Meditation which offers a short practice that can help you find room--a little space of quiet—in your busy mind or concerned heart. And it all begins with the breath ... I hope it helps.
Listen to the meditation here:
Now that the coldest weather has lifted, I am determined to take a mindful walk each day. Though I admit, sometimes my walks are not mindful; mindless is more like it. My mind wanders. I plan. I drift off and get stuck in old conversations or thoughts about the future. Presence to self eludes me.
And then I remember. It is time to be here now. To be fully present to myself and this precious moment. My phone is off. I vow to do nothing but walk, just walk.
One step, then another. One breath, then another. Easing into the rhythm of walking and breathing. Feeling my foot meet the pavement. Noting bird song in the distance. Beauty to my left and to my right. Be here now.
And just when my mind begins to meander once more, there it is, looming up in front of me. A sweet smiley face someone has taken the time to draw on the walkway. "Hello, I see you," it says. "Do you see me?" And I do. I am grateful for this humorous reminder to come back once again, to surrender to walking.
"Just walking" is one of the best ways I know to offer presence to myself, especially on a Corvid-19 day when so many thoughts and emotions can press in.
The same can be true for you, for any of us. May our walking bring us back home to ourselves.
From My Heart to Yours
Today, I have a gift for you, a short, guided practice (MP3). I call it "Inner Smile Practice." It's perfect for walking, or when you're at the grocery store, or whenever you feel the need to be more present to yourself and others.
To receive this practice, SUBSCRIBE to this blog. The link to download will be sent to you in the subscription confirmation email. SUBSCRIBE by entering your info in the green box on the right side of this page. That's it! Thank you for joining me in the practice of Presence.
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How to cultivate presence for yourself at this time? Lots of options here, friends. Here's one of them: a little secret about the breath.
a calm, open-hearted space of welcome & service.
I'm glad you're here. Welcome to this space of exploration, deepening understanding & the practice of presence across traditions.
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Dr. Janice Lynne Lundy (PsyD, DMin, MPC)
is The Gerald May Professor of Spiritual Direction & Counseling at the Graduate Theological Foundation. She is an interspiritual director/mentor, educator and counselor who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for nearly thirty years.