How do you care for yourself when your heart feels tender? Hurting? Sad?
We each have our ways, each one unique, just as our fingerprint is unique. It seems to me that it's not the method that matters, but the acceptance of our soul's call to tend well to ourselves when we are feeling vulnerable or unable to engage in life in the usual fashion.
I've been feeling that inner pull to silence and the quiet comfort that comes with a more gentle rhythm of my days since my dear mother passed away in March. Since then, I often find myself simply sitting, gazing out the window, resting my attention on the trees, or listening to the birds that come to our deck. But mostly, I am drawn to walking by myself. I hear a small whisper from within that says, "Just walk." It feels healing to do so.
I walk mostly in quiet places with very few people. I stop, listen to the wind in the trees, notice the chirping of birds happily building their nests, and pause by the little brook that soothes my heart with wordless babbles. So sweet.
I'm also soothed by poetry. I notice that my brain doesn't easily absorb the content of "regular" books right now. But the gentle turn of a phrase offered by a poet can land in my heart in just the right way. And that's all I need in the moment, a heart hug.
How do you extend spiritual care to yourself when your whole being longs for gentle understanding?
As I continue to sit with others as a spiritual companion (director-guide) and listen to the ponderings of their hearts, the invitation to each of us is clear: stay steady. This is not easy when the nature of the energy flowing through the universe can be picked up as fear, worry or anxiety. These emotions are not unknown to me either. I know from experience how important it is to be able to access inner stability when everything around you and in you may feel tumultuous.
I love trees. I believe trees are living, breathing beings who feel and experience life in its fullness in a unique way. I also believe that one of their highest purposes on the planet is to sustain life, including ours. Trees represent stability to me. Their roots go deep, holding them steady when the winds come and threaten to uproot them from their very core.
Years ago, I began to imagine what it would actually feel like to be a tree when life felt frightening—more rooted than topsy Turvey. I crafted this practice to help me and I featured it in my book Portable Peace. I'd like to share it with you here because in times like these we can certainly use any help we can get, especially practices, if they can predictably deliver us to a place within ourselves that feels more steady and stable. I hope you find it useful.
Breathe deep. May peace be upon you.
I don't know anyone who doesn't wish to be more loving. A loving attitude is difficult to access, however, if we are being assailed by other emotions, especially those that we might deem negative.
Today, I share a Guided Practice with you that can help you turn your attention away from difficult emotions to refocus on the love that lives in you and can be transmitted through you. I call it "Leaning into Love." Attending well to our emotional selves is an attribute of Presence. Taking good care of ourselves—our moods, thoughts and feelings—ultimately enables us to be more present and loving toward others.
I hope you find it helpful. (Mp3 is 5 min. long.)
We continue to live in uncertain times. There is not a single community in the world that is untouched by the choices being made by human beings today. In the U. S. where I live, we are faced with decisions about direct governance. As I listen to the rhetoric of politicians and views offered by various organizations, one potent question keeps coming up for me, "How shall we live?"
I've asked this question of myself ever since a radical awakening in 1994, "How shall I live?" What are my deepest values? What are the truths I hold dear? What choices do I need to make to ensure that I am living these values?
Perhaps it all comes down to self-governance. Knowing that, even though we live in a society that dictates much about how we live, ultimately, the final decision about how is up to each of us. Governing ourselves, in my view anyway, has to do with the thoughts that occupy my mind and the feelings that rule my heart. I can't control everything I think or feel, but I can govern wisely and make healthy and sustainable choices that foster my well-being—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. No one can tell me what to think or feel. I get to choose these for myself.
Holding presence for oneself has everything to do with self-governance. Being present for oneself you bear witness to what is stirring inside you; you acknowledge and tend to it well. You take care of yourself from the inside out, being non-judgmentally and compassionately present to everything that's there. Welcoming. Open-hearted and curious. Warm and kind.
Wise self-governance helps us be someone who can participate in the world with a heart that bears witness to it all—the pain and suffering, the blessings and joys. Presence for self leads to an increased ability to be purely present for others just as they are—just as the world is—because we have done so for ourselves first.
A Little Gift
Enjoy this 90-Second Blessing I created for
self-governance through self-care.
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.
In today's blog I share some thoughts about we can ensure our hearts do not become armored in stressful times. If you're feeling impatient and irritated, or frustrated, it may be a sign that your heart is closing off due to low level trauma. (Many of us these days are experiencing low level trauma due to the pandemic.) This is the perfect time and opportunity to hold presence for yourself! The video includes one of my favorites practices for this.
From My Heart to Yours
Today, I have a gift for you, a guided meditation (MP3) that I call "Resting Into Love." During trauma-filled times, it's a potent practice for letting go into ease and rest, into Love!
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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.