Gratitude

The small and the large. The significant and the insignificant.   I am thankful to be witness to the little things, and to the big things in life.  The Metta Sutra says, “Wishing: in gladness and in safety, may all beings be at ease.  Whatever living beings there may be, whether they be weak or strong, omitting none, the great or the mighty, medium, short or small, the seen or the unseen, those living near or far away, those born and to be born-May all beings be at ease…”

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Wildflower, Northern, CA 6/2016 CMG

I started writing just gratitudes, in letter form, to the Divine, in April 2016.  I had a regular writing practice, my Morning Pages, that I had been doing for 5 years.  Morning Pages are Julia Cameron’s invention from her book, The Artist’s Way.  Morning Pages are 3 full pages of spontaneous, flow of thought without too much thinking.  Morning Pages morphed into Gratitude Pages.   They worked really well for me for years and they removed the sludge that had to be auggerd to allow a clean, direct connection to My Creative Self, which is my True Self.  Now that that is relatively cleared (it does need auggering now and again), I have this direct path to the Divine which was and is my birthright.

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Redwoods, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, CA 6/2016 CMG

These pages, 2-3 each morning, are in letter form.  “Dear Divine Beloved”, they say… “Thank you for this glorious morning.  Thank you for these eyes that see the rain clouds, the ears that hear the rain fall to the ground, and splash the leaves, my nose that smells the wetness in the air, mingled with the moist grass, dirt, and leaves, my skin that feels the damp and shivers as it takes in the wet wind.  Thank you for another day, a new day, with new choices, new awarenesses, new possibilities.  Thank you for your Divine plan, whatever that may be.  I know only this moment, this is the only moment that I can be in.  Thank you for the grace to let go when I need to let go, to accept when I need to accept, reject when I need to reject.  Thank for love in all of its forms.  I am loved and I am love.  I am forgiven and I forgive.  Thank you for the strength, the intelligence and the humility and the insight to know when I need to use them and which one to use.  Thank you for being a mother.  I am so blessed with two beautiful children who have taught me so much.  Thank you for allowing me to teach them.  Thank you for our deep connection, our ability to be open, honest and accepting of one another. Thank you for the love between us that never goes away.  Thank you for my insight and clarity in all that I do to make good decisions that benefit the highest good of all.  Thank you for the people that I connect with daily.  Thank you for all that I learn in my interactions, all that I give and all that I receive.  Thank you for my talents, skills and abilities that are unique and allow me to do good work, in a good way and for good pay.  I am blessed to always have food in my belly, to have choices about what I want to eat and to be able to make delicious, healthy meals for myself, my family and friends.  I am so grateful for my loving, supportive family .  I am thankful that they believe in me, and that we have healthy ways of communicating our needs.  I am thankful for music in my life.  I am thankful for my healthy, strong, fit and youthful body that enjoys dancing freely to the sounds of music.  Thank you for this body that is able to do all the activities I love doing. Thank you for the woods, the forests, the beaches, the fields, the sidewalks and the country roads that my body moves so freely in and through.  I am blessed with so much abundance in my life!  Thank you.  I release these words into the Universe as Law, let them be so.  With love and gratitude, Carrie”

The idea of the gratitude list first came to me through a 12-Step program.  The letter to the Divine came to me via May McCarthy’s book The Path to Wealth which led me to the book, The Game of Life and How to Play it by Florence Scovel Shinn. Thank you for the path that led me to them and to here, where I am.

Of letting go…Surender.

cropped-dsc_04441.jpg Life is a struggle from the beginning.  It takes all your energy, all of your letting go to allow what needs to happen to happen.  And in that part of the sentence, lies the key.  If a baby were to struggle, fight (which maybe they sometimes do), things don’t get easier, they become more difficult.  The baby might have to be taken with forceps or C-section which is much more traumatic for the baby.   But if the baby naturally goes with the contractions that are meant to ease the baby out, it is less traumatic…difficult, yes, but a necessary process.

I have been fighting a process. The process of the dissolution of my marriage. I sooooo wanted it to work. I was going to fix it- all by myself! I laugh when I say that because that is crazy thinking. How am I suppose to do THAT when the definition of a relationship is the state of being interrelated, connected? I need the other half to connect to and that other half needs to want to connect with me.

So, I have been struggling, resisting, clinging to what I know…the womb. I don’t want to come out! I don’t want to face the unknown! I KNOW what the womb is like…I know how my husband’s arms feel around me. I know his quirks, his routines, his likes and dislikes. I know what to expect and not what to expect. Yet something was moving me. A force bigger than myself that was pushing me out, making me experience the unknown; this grief, this black pit called despair, bringing me to my knees (literally), sobbing uncontrollably.

Through this I am finding that the only way I can survive is by surrendering. Because every time I struggle, things get worse. The noose gets tighter and I fall harder. So I surrender. I have been brought to prayer, meditation, and yoga. And as I surrender, more things come to my aid; a phrase, a kind wish, a thoughtful phone call, a cup of tea, a shoulder to cry on. I have found through surrender a Power Greater Than Myself. I have been standing on the edge of a bridge many days and something gets me off the ledge. That makes me wonder: would I have found such faith had I not been given these struggles?

Someone said something that resonated with me this week. She said, “There is a possibility that things could get better.” I thought to myself, ‘Yes, there is. They could get worse BUT there is the possibility that after divorce, things could be better.’ I am scared. I am not always so hopeful when so much is coming at me all at once but in THIS moment, and this moment is the ONLY moment I can be assured of…THIS moment is good. I am open to the possibilities.

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ”
― A.W. Tozer

“Something amazing happens when we surrender and just love. We melt into another world, a realm of power already within us. The world changes when we change. the world softens when we soften. The world loves us when we choose to love the world.”
― Marianne Williamson

“God had brought me to my knees and made me acknowledge my own nothingness, and out of that knowledge I had been reborn. I was no longer the centre of my life and therefore I could see God in everything.”
― Bede Griffiths

Are you PRE-suffering?

“Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

How many times have I anticipated suffering, or created suffering before it happens thus PRE-suffering? Oh…many! I can get myself so wound up over stuff that hasn’t even happened yet thus ruining the present moment…huh, I am not even in the present when I am PRE-suffering, I am somewhere in the non-existent future that I have created in my head!!

I heard someone use this term last night and WOW…it just resonated through my whole being. “PRE-SUFFERING”. This is definitely something I can try and let go of. But how?

This is present moment and breath work. For me, meditation and yoga help with this. Focusing my mind on my breath during yoga, the movement from one posture to the next that aligns with my breath keeps me right there. It keeps me from thinking about thinking or thinking about the things that haven’t even happened yet. I enjoy Vinyasa yoga because it is a yoga practice that allows me to move. One breath to one movement- it seems very natural to me.

Sitting meditation also helps me to remain sane and in the moment but honestly is more difficult for me because I am sitting and not moving. Thoughts come into my head on a regular basis even though I have been meditating for twenty years. The process of letting them go and focusing on my breath is more automatic than it used to be but it is still a work in process.

The most difficult thing for me is getting myself un-stuck and out of the PRE-suffering black hole that once I am there is like space…never ending. I like that I can put a name to it now. It will help me to more easily identify this thinking. It lends me perspective which then guides me through the five other “P’s”- pain, prayer, patience, process and payoff. These are from the book, Paths to Recovery. John Maxwell also has a similar idea that I have spoken about before in his book Today Matters. I recommend both.

Just for today, start to notice your pre-suffering. Are you experiencing pain or anguish about something that hasn’t even happened yet? Are you anticipating bad things happening to you? Take a moment and breathe, connect to your source, go for a walk, do yoga, do what works to bring peace around you. I know you can!

Are you stuck in S.H.I.T? How to tame your dragon.

The dragon within us (CMG original)

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

― Plato

I can easily get caught up in S.H.I.T.  For me, S.H.I.T is this feeling of being overwhelmed with my life, an inability to control situations, thinking that I have to do it all and then making that happen, wondering if anyone that is part of my life will just get their SHIT together and make my life easier?  Have YOU ever had this feeling?

S.H.I.T is an acronym that stands for Super High Intensity Thinking.  And although I’d like to say I coined this phrase, I did not.  An Al-Anon member who heard it from a speaker at a conference retold this story to me.  I’m still researching the source and when I find it, I want to give this person credit because this acronym has stuck in my head and is useful.

Super High Intensity Thinking is something I bet many of you can relate to.  I was just reading an interview of the author, Kelly McGonigal who has written The Neuroscience of Change, in the October issue of  Yoga Journal and she states that “Neuroscientists have found that everyone has a default state that the brain shifts into when we’re not fully immersed in an activity.  This state things about the future and past, makes judgments, and categorizes and compares everything.”  Ahhhhhh…. What a relief that is!  I thought I was just nuts!  Our brains are really hard wired with this chattering state and if left to its own devices, it would continue to go on this rampage.

How do you know when you’re in S.H.I.T. mode and how can you get out?  Ask yourself these questions: What patterns of your behavior tend to repeat themselves?  Do you have a default mode of thinking?  Is your default mode of thinking negative affirmations that sound like; “I can’t do it all,” “I am incapable, not loveable,” “I will always be alone”.  Or maybe your voice speaks to you like this; “People are always trying to screw me”, “How come all the jackasses are on the road when I am?” “ Why doesn’t anything work for _________ (insert your name here).”    It could be that S.H.I.T. not only sounds a certain way but may look a certain way.  Are you running around to every crisis that isn’t yours?  Are you fixing things that aren’t yours to fix or helping those that you think need helping?  This is all S.H.I.T.!!!

How do we get out of S.H.I.T.?  McGonigal states that “mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can take us temporarily out of the default state of the mind and into an experiencing state.”  It’s about compassion, compassion for yourself and for others.  The brain will continually try and go back to its default stage.  It will remind you how uncomfortable mindfulness or yoga is and try to get back to its comfort zone… S.H.I.T. mode.  Knowing this, you can continue to focus on self-compassion and care.  Know that the only way out of S.H.I.T. is the awareness of it and then back to self-compassion and care.  AND once you begin to have compassion and care for yourself you can begin to see that everyone is just doing the best that they can given the tools that they have and you can start to feel compassion towards others.

With much love,

Carrie

Honor and Trust Your Gut

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Cherokee Park, October 2012 (CMG original)

I specifically remember times in my life that I had an inkling, a microsecond twang in my gut that I ignored. That microsecond cost me, many a times and for many years. It has taken me a long time to realize that those whisperings were coming from a higher source and that I need to find inner quiet in order to receive them.

At first, you may feel a feeling, literally in your gut. As a child you may have experienced this. Maybe you even got physically sick when things did not “feel” right? As an adult, it may be a soft whispering, a feeling of a heavy heart or “butterflies” in your stomach. Goosebumps may be a signal that something you are feeling is right on. Starting to notice these physical sensations is a start to tuning into to the higher vibrations of the Universe.

In today’s society, listening to your gut has become quite difficult. Society at large does not want us to be in tune with our Inner Self. There are distractions at every turn; TV, social networking, billboards, flashing lights, sounds. The ads tell us ‘you can be happy if you buy THIS!’ DISTRACTION!

Tune into your gut and tune out from the busyness all around you by taking time to be quiet each day. Personally, I like to get out into nature as much as I can but I don’t get to do it everyday. Some days I just find a quiet space in my home and focus on my breath. Light a candle, burn some incense, have a ritual to your quiet time. If you do yoga, do quiet yoga, move with your breath, do it slower than you normally do or sit longer in a posture. If a feeling arises, be with the feeling until it moves on. If a thought arises, let it go and come back to your breath.

If you haven’t ever taken time to be quiet start with 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before you go to bed. You can do anything for 5 minutes!! Then, increase it over time. Try to commit to 15 minutes twice a day.

As you start to take time to be with yourself you will start to deepen the connection between your Inner Self and the Universe. That golden cord will strengthen and communication will be easier to receive.

Prayer for today:
“I ask that I be open today to be able to listen and hear my inner voice, the true voice of the Universe. Allow me to be quiet in my mind and heart so that I may receive the messages I need to hear.”

Namaste,
Carrie