A Complete Guide to the Practice o Meditation

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Families Are Messy!

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I hope your holiday season has gotten off to a beautiful start. For me, the holidays are my favorite time of year. I love the lights, traditions, celebrating with family and friends, and, of course, all the new Hallmark Christmas movies! Although we all know how the movies will end, there is something so heart-warming about being invited into these charming and magically decorated small towns where families sit around the kitchen table decorating Christmas cookies, helping their one unwed daughter who has come home from the big city mend her past heartbreak, so she can open up to finding love with her old flame, who just happens to be the boy next door.

 

Always being a person who had a desire for my life to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, there is a part of me that has always craved Hallmark’s picture of family. Even after I got divorced, I still had an idyllic picture of what I wanted my future family to look like. I imagined myself and my partner sitting connected on the couch as our blended families excitedly rushed in and out, sharing about their day and easily interacting with us and each other.

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Honoring A Life Well-Lived

golden-ears-of-wheat-on-the-field-sunset-light-close-up-view-picture-id1042484864-1 Honoring A Life Well-Lived

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” — Ernest Hemingway


There are some weeks when I wait until the very end to write my “I’ve Been Thinking…” essay for The Sunday Paper. That’s because I like to have time to really reflect upon what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt, and what has stayed with me over the past week.

There is so much coming at us these days that it is often helpful to pause, catch your breath and ask yourself, “What really mattered to me this week? What will I remember most? What was most meaningful to me, and why?”

This week, one thing that was really meaningful to me was that I got to attend the World Dementia Council Summit in London. This was a gathering of world leaders who came together to discuss what we can do to wipe out Alzheimer’s in our lifetime.

I attended the event so that I could speak about the global impact of Alzheimer’s on women. As I’ve said before, women are at an increased risk for this disease and they are also the ones who do most of the caregiving around the world. I see this as the ultimate women’s empowerment issue, and I’m glad I got to bring this important message to the global stage.

I was so inspired by all the scientists, researchers, politicians and advocates who gathered to discuss how we can better collaborate, innovate and speed up our goal of finding a treatment or a cure. I’m grateful and humbled that our work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement was included in this important discussion and that it was recognized for its game-changing work on behalf of women.

While I was honored to be a part of this global gathering in London this week, I also know that back home our nation was mourning the loss of former President George H.W. Bush and remembering his legacy. As I flew home on Thursday, I found myself returning over and over to former President George W. Bush’s poignant speech about his father at the funeral.

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Experiencing Protection

fallen-picture-id868954706 Experiencing Protection
I stepped into the shower, noticing a glass bottle of vinegar that someone had used on their hair. Once again I made a mental note to not leave glass in our stone shower.  

 
While enjoying the warm water I was thinking about my day. I put conditioner on my hair enjoying the luscious smell. An ominous sound entered my awareness. I then began to feel the shower move underneath my feet. We were experiencing an earthquake, a big earthquake. 

 
No time to turn off the water, I grabbed a towel and bolted. My son, the dogs and I ran down the stairs and out the door. Before the power went out I noticed art work on the ground or hanging precariously on the walls. It was like looking at everything in slow motion. I could hear the sounds of shaking and falling. I could see the destruction. Time stopped.

 
Once outside I stood barefoot in the snow hugging our son. Our dogs were completely confused, one ran away. I don’t remember even feeling cold. I had practically nothing on, wet, in 20 degree temperatures. I regrouped and took a deep breath. 

 
As I hugged Finn, I reminded him we are always protected. We will be OK. As the Earth beneath our feet calmed down, we went back inside. There was no power and the sun was not up yet. I returned to the shower to rinse my hair. The after-shocks continued. 

 
Finn looked for the run-away dog. I walked through our home. It could have been much worse. Only glass objects were broken, no structural damage was apparent. I touched base with my husband and other family members. We were all in semi shock, but doing fine. 

 
As I cleaned up pieces of glass I thought about protection. What is this protection I promise myself and our children? Today called for me to dig deeper into my spiritual beliefs and reckoning on protection.  


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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Each Time We Grieve

memories1 Each Time We Grieve

I’ve lived long enough to know that every

sigh opens a story, the way a mouthful of

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How to Celebrate with Peace

peace-meditation-love_orig How to Celebrate with Peace

My son and I touched down in Anchorage at 3:30 in the morning. I was relieved to see the streets clear of snow; it was an easy drive home. I was looking forward to the feeling of being settled. At home, I lit some candles, exhaled and experienced peace.  

The last few days I had noticed some feelings of stress. The holiday season had arrived. Thanksgiving was just a few days away. I could also feel the pressure of every day matters. I had emails, appointments and family obligations that had piled up over the last week. 

This historically has been a personal struggle of mine. Is it possible to stay connected to peace during the holiday season? This is the time of year that is often depicted as magical. It can be amazingly wonderful; but it can also difficult to stay connected to the most important aspect; love and peace.

The next morning before I started my meditation I recognized how much I enjoy our home. It is filled with good feelings. The energy from our prayers and meditations fill my favorite rooms. The mountains are visible thru the windows. The trees behind me share the energy of protection. I easily slipped into a deep meditation.

My awareness shifted. I was greeted by love, a version of each of us.  The veil evaporated. Everything fell away except the feelings of love, peace and protection. I was home again. There are no limitations of time, size, or quantity.  It is simply recognizing heart and soul. This is where our true self is. 

I say simply... because it is with the gentle shift of awareness that we all fall into peace.

My morning meditation reminded me of my personal need to bring the holiday season back to my heart, my center. It is here that I am able to bring love into my actions that create each day. 


To experience the holidays with joy; I keep my energy focused on my heart. I keep it simple. When I begin to feel scattered or spread too thin, I bring my awareness back to my heart. This is where I need to be, to pull the magic into my holiday experience.  

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Mystic Spinning of Threads

silhouette-of-woman-dancing-and-rejoicing-to-god-at-sunset-picture-id523033651 The Mystic Spinning of Threads

I wonder where you are tonight.

Each of you. You who I lived with

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Accentuate the Positive, My Mother's Gift

IMG_3683-1200x900 Accentuate the Positive, My Mother's Gift

A song written and recorded in 1944 that was popular with my parents’ generation had the refrain: “Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.” Those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II often developed one of two responses to life: fear or hope, or perhaps a mix of both. You can see hope in songs like this one. And I definitely saw it in my mother when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Without fail, she always looked for the positive in any situation, person, or event. If someone behaved in an unpleasant manner, my mother’s response was inevitably, “She means well.” And then she would find something nice to say about the person.

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How To Deal With Losing or Outgrowing Friends and Family

we-no-longer-have-anything-to-talk-about-picture-id527237466 How To Deal With Losing or Outgrowing Friends and Family

It’s never an easy thing when friends or family you were close to or once loved grow out of your life.

It can be quite painful.

You might feel some guilt or false loyalty if you feel you have outgrown them.

Or you might feel abandoned, betrayed, hurt, sad, angry, grief. Or a combination of all of the above.

Understand that you initially attracted your friend into your life because:

A) You were vibrating at a similar level of consciousness and were a vibrational match at that particular time.

B) You had certain lessons to teach each other’s souls. Your friendship was an opportunity learn those lessons and serve each other’s growth.


Friendships last as long as both of your souls need, as long as your personalities think they should.

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Gifts of the Full Moon

gifts-of-the-full-moon_orig Gifts of the Full Moon
Understand your very being is surrounded by love and protected by all that is...  Rest in knowing you are never alone and always, only one thought from peace.


A little over a year ago I began working with a young woman that was seeking significant changes in her life. In one of our first sessions together my client, Dalia, wrote down her very defined goals.  Through the year she quickly moved through her list. She was blessed with much success.  Her greatest desire, a second child, is on the way.   

 
As I write this we are moving into the full moon of August. Dalia has felt her body preparing to bring new life into our world. It is the perfect time for her new baby girl to bring joy and love into the lives of others. It is also the perfect time for this baby to meet her family and experience the human connection through love.   

 
At one point in my life I worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery. I discovered every birth to be a powerful experience.  Each start of life is different and each one carries a powerful story. All deliveries bring new energy into our world.

 
A mother and new baby experienced a transition into an eternal relationship. Even if the baby is not raised by the biological parents, a relationship has been established.

 
Spending time in OB Triage, where prenatal ultra sounds are provided, was one of my favorite jobs. The ultra sounds allowed us to peek into the babies’ world while they grew. The fluid movements and the maternal connection through the umbilical cord always fascinated me.  It seemed so magical; and truly it is.
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Making Memories That Last a Lifetime

Making Memories That Last a Lifetime Making Memories That Last a Lifetime

I’ve been thinking about how to make each and every day matter. How to make each and every day memorable and meaningful.

 

If the last week or so has taught us anything, it’s that people are super fragile. All of us are, at one point or another. It’s hard to know what’s really going on inside the hearts and minds of others, including those we care about most. So, the most important thing any of us can do with our lives — and with the minutes of our days — is to try our best to make them matter for ourselves and for those we care about.

 

On this particular day, Father’s Day, I’m thinking a lot about my father and the memories we shared during the time we had together. I’m also thinking about all the other fathers I know who are stepping up, showing up, and trying to be as present as possible in their children’s lives. Happy Father’s Day to you!

 

Like motherhood, fatherhood is the job of a lifetime. And, like many mothers, there are fathers who also doubt themselves and struggle with their role as a parent. They wonder about their importance and their influence on their children. They wonder if they’re getting things right, or if they’re messing up. They ask themselves, “am I better at this than my own father was?” So many men tell me that’s their hope and their desire. They also wonder, “What will my children remember about me after I’m gone?”

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Ask More Questions

ask-2341784_1280 Ask questions — it's one of the best ways to listen well.

What are you learning?

The Practice:Ask more questions.

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How Can We Use Our Familial Relationships to Get Free?

How Can We Use Our Familial Relationships to Get Free? How Can We Use Our Familial Relationships to Get Free?

There are two kinds of relationships that we enter into. I tend to call them, “Given” and “Acquired.”


Given relationships are your parents, your children, you can’t trade them in. They’re given. Friends on the other hand are acquired. You can drop them. Marriages are an ambiguous place; you can look at it either way. We changed marriages from a given karmic situation into an acquired karmic situation, where you can change it if it doesn’t work well.


When you have relationships that are “given” karmically, you have people that are from all different levels of consciousness. You’ve been thrown together with them, and it becomes about, “I can’t understand why we’ve been thrown together.” It’s the chance to see the way in which you have catered to your personality, and a chance to push against it a little bit.


I’m playing with such a delicate and uncomfortable edge, which is the idea that fulfilling roles brings freedom, and the roles are not just responding to your personality desires and yourself.


Gandhi once said, “Civilization is the art of voluntary renunciation.” Which means you give up certain things in yourself in order to be able to play a part in a dance.

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What is the importance of investing in family?

What is the importance of investing in family? What is the importance of investing in family?

Over time we have ended up with a lot of confusion in ourselves about our roles in relationship to our families.


So why would you invest in the family?


You would invest in the family because you understand that part of your incarnation and part of being in the way of things is to find your function within family. Now it doesn’t mean lockstep, it doesn’t mean that every mother is the same mother or every father is the same father. You have to hear your unique way through, but unique doesn’t necessarily just mean personality desire. What is appropriate in view of my skills, opportunities, needs of the family, economics, political situation, and so on?

When you’re poor, and a family of six is living in one room, it’s a very different set of roles and demands than if you’re living in a situation where everybody has their own room they can go in and lock the door. It’s hard to face, because we think we won that affluence which has given us the privacy to have our own rooms, but it’s really a mixed bag. It’s given us the privacy to become very isolated and cut off from each other and very private and very secretive and very ashamed and very embarrassed and very uncomfortable, with a whole lot of stuff to carry around with us.

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Love What’s Real

real Love What’s Real

What do a healthy relationship, family, organization, or country have in common?

What can you count on?

The Practice:
Love what’s real.

Why?

Because this practice could seem so abstract or so obvious that it’s not worth doing, I am going to take longer than usual to explain why it’s so important.

As I grew up, my family and schools felt like very shaky ground. I didn’t understand why my parents and many kids reacted the ways they did, with anger or plain weirdness that was unrelated to what was actually happening. It felt shaky inside me, too, and I sure didn’t understand my own feelings and reactions. Outside and inside both felt twirly, up in the air, unnerving.

So I looked for solid ground. I tried to see and understand what was really true. The orange groves and hills around our home were natural and comforting, and I spent a lot of time there. I started reading science fiction and loved an orderly universe in which you could figure out why the spaceship was falling and save it.

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How To Stay Sane During Holiday Season

How To Stay Sane During Holiday Season

Holiday season can be one of the most challenging and intense times of the year.

As much as you may love them, one of the most difficult things can be spending extended time with family members.

It’s sometimes those that you love and have the most history with are the ones who are able to trigger you the most and push your buttons.

There’s a saying, “If you want to see how enlightened you are, spend the weekend with family”.

Consider this: Your family members are also souls on a journey dealing with their own lessons in this lifetime. You attracted each other’s souls because there are certain lessons you have to work out. And that the family members who challenge you the most are actually your greatest spiritual teachers and growth opportunities.

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4 Ways to Make the Holidays Blessed Instead of Stressed

4 Ways to Make the Holidays Blessed Instead of Stressed

The Holidays are a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for the many blessings in your life. However, this can also be a stressful time. Family knows exactly how to push your buttons, which doesn’t always bring out your best self. There are a million and one ways that this time of year can be challenging; however, there are just as many ways that it can be a magical time, filled with fun and laughter.

 

Here are my top four tips for getting the most out of this season. These simple exercises will help you remain cheery and upbeat, no matter what chaos there is around you.

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Are Your Kids Moving Out? Growing Up?

Are Your Kids Moving Out? Growing Up?

For those of you that have kids heading to college or moving out … For those of you that have a sense of emptiness and sadness that your child is heading out on his/her own … leaving you to YOUR life. I share this little story from my life 9 years ago. I have recently repeated this experience with my baby … twice. He moved out into the dorms, then back in for a year … and most recently out again. I know that sadness you can feel … but man oh man, what a gift it is to release our children to their dreams, their lives and their creations. I say release very loosely … as if we have a choice. But we do … we can see it from a perspective of pain and loss vs. a place of gratitude and appreciation. – Enjoy it all my friend. – SDJ ♥

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind