Meditation Has a Secret: 5 Questions to Consider

Meditation-Has-a-Secret-5-Questions-to-Consider-by-Ashley-Barnes-TheWellnessUniverse-WUVIP-Secret
Meditation has a secret.

It doesn’t work for everyone (GASP!).

Of course, this isn’t what we’re told about this powerful, ancient practice. The list of amazing meditation benefits for mind, body, and spirit are practically endless (and easy to Google). Need to get more grounded and focused? Stressed out? Experiencing pain? Want to connect to your inner guidance? Meditation is the cure for all your ills.

But if you ask the average person, they’ll tell you (likely in great detail) the TRUTH about meditation; how they can’t sit still or quiet their mind, they can’t fit it into their day, or they tried it and didn’t like it or didn’t get any effect.

It could even be said that meditation benefits all people, but not all people benefit from meditation. 

The true dirty secret of meditation involves the pressure we feel to always be doing something, and to do it as a means to an end, which creates for us a meditation practice that is more like a checklist than personal development. In turn, this can lead to some pretty undesirable outcomes.

READ THE REST HERE: http://blog.thewellnessuniverse.com/meditation-has-a-secret5-questions-to-consider/

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The Power of a Blank Page

blank paper pages on rustic wood

I always have the urge to write.  It’s almost the same as breathing for me.  I don’t always have the follow through to do it, however, even when I feel the desire burning.

Aren’t we all like this in many ways?

We all have these passions that drive us at a deep level, and yet we so often don’t follow through on the call.  We feel the desire toward something new and different – maybe it’s still unspecified and unintelligible but it still burns deep inside with an urgency that reminds us that there is indeed something tangible behind the longing.

Yet we and sit and stare at the blank page.

Not all of us are writers, of course.  Life-breath comes in all forms of unique and varied activities, most often of a creative nature.   And by creative, I mean activities that are soul-fulfilling and result in something new (physically or energetically) where nothing previously existed.

For example, a painting or a poem that just has to come out.  Or perhaps a newly sculpted body from healthy and active choices.  Possibly a newfound joy brought forth by helping to make someone else’s day a little brighter.   Maybe even the simple act of choosing to be happy in the face of great challenges.  The opportunities for creating something new are endless, and not relegated to conventional “art.”

But we tell ourselves, “I’m not creative.”  Or, “I don’t have the stamina.”  Or, “I’ll text her later.”  Or, “I’m not worthy of being happy.” And we put ourselves off another day, another week, another year.

Truth is, I’ve never liked starting anything from scratch.  I need a recipe, a guide, an established starting point.  I don’t like to reinvent the wheel.

However, our creative nature isn’t very forgiving of us when we don’t flex our “ambiguity” muscles; that is, our ability to work and be at least moderately successful in a place of ambiguity and uncertainty.  Yes, we can chug along through life starting only with the help of someone else’s previously-forged cues.  But our creative spark suffers in this mindset, one driven mostly by fear and a sense of unworthiness.

“I’m not good enough.”  “What if I fail?”  “What if someone doesn’t like what I produce?”  These thoughts keep us avoiding that blank page.

However, this inability to start from a blank slate, to restart after a habit has been broken, to reach out to someone who might not understand our true intentions, or to step out in service for fear of failure or rejection doesn’t only hurt us.  What we’re not doing now hurts those who would be helped by us.  Uplifted by us.  Inspired by us.  Healed by us.

As I sat here this week, feeling the urge to write and also feeling the familiar panic upon staring at my blank page, I ran through a list of possible topics in my head, mentally discarding each one.  I sidetracked myself with other legitimate work tasks.  I decided writing could wait a day, or a week.  I ate lunch.

And then, I remembered my book writing path.  I truly had no plan for writing a book.  I avoided it for nearly two years until I finally decided I’d just start each day with a blank page and write what comes to mind – no matter how unintelligible, ridiculous, silly, or embarrassing it might be.  And so The Angel Inside was birthed.

And I remembered the many times I’ve started writing a poem and I penned the first words that came to me until I got into a flow.  And later when I went to edit, I realized the first line or two didn’t make any sense, so I simply cut it out.  And the rest was a nice poem.  Or at least decent.

And that’s all we’re really being asked for anyway.  Nice.  Decent.  Our best efforts consistently applied.

Today, I opened an empty document for the second or third time with no thoughts at the ready.  And within a few deep breaths, I heard “blank page.”  And I remembered that for me, the action of writing is the catalyst that opens the floodgate of more words.

In other words, taking even small action action in a forward direction – simply doing SOMETHING – is often the catalyst for the more in-depth work that follows.

And so I started typing.  One word led to the next and to the next.  Eventually, through a hazy, forward and back approach, and with lots of editing, the words on the page started to take shape on their own, without much conscious thought to structure, form, or outline, a process not unlike the quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

In my early adulthood, I never saw the value of a blank page.  I was so fearful of not knowing where I was going that I rarely allowed myself to know or grow in any way that didn’t follow a prescriptive path or that seemed absolutely prudent.

But no more. I’m still fearful of course. I don’t know an honest person who isn’t. However, now that I’ve experienced the mysteries and miracles that a hazy, faith-filled path can bring, I can’t go back.  I won’t go back.

And my wish for you is that you will take out that blank page that’s calling you, breathe into your heart, and create what needs to come from within.

Because that is the power of a blank page.

XOXO
Ashley

P.S. If you can relate to this, let me know!  Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.  And please share with your friends!

Whatever You Do, Don’t Do THIS!

Howling Wolf Background

Something is going on with me and the animal kingdom lately.  In the past week, I’ve crossed a stray cat that looked like a little fluffy lion, a wild tom turkey pursuing two females with his body puffed up and tail feathers completely spread, a large black snake which played dead despite my efforts to make it move from my path, rescued not one but TWO frogs from certain death in a parking lot and a neighborhood street, and encountered a huge snapping turtle right on the sidewalk in my neighborhood.  Then a wolf appeared to me during meditation.

Nature is literally coming at me from EVERY angle!

Now, everyone around me is asking, “What’s up?!  Are you an animal whisperer?”   It’s true that I’ve always had a strong connection with animals. This is nothing new.  And that hasn’t dimmed with age. In fact, it’s only become magnified, especially with having children who also have a fierce heart for animals and their welfare (just last night my daughter sent me a link from the Humane Society to donate in support of stopping puppy mills).

I’ve also recently taken two animal communication classes and belong to an AC group online. I’ve even had some success giving messages in the online community.   But I haven’t done much with it since before Christmas, at least in part because I’ve been energetically overwhelmed (I’m a chronic over-scheduler), and I’ve been trying to give myself a rest.  I’ve also been putting more focus into the future of A Spirit Led Life, especially around my goals of writing more, publishing more, launching the Awakening Angels Circle, and reaching more people. It doesn’t leave much time for work with animals, virtually or in person.

Yet, in my experience, when it’s time to put more focus on another area, Spirit lets me know.  Like running across a cat, a snake, three wild turkeys, two frogs, a turtle, and a meditation wolf, all in a matter of days!

But still, what does it all MEAN?

While I do generally look for subtle messages and meaning in most everything around me, I also realize that not everything means something.  Some events are just events.  However, when I get this much coming at me at once, and all around the same basic theme, I can’t help but wonder what significance it might hold for me.

My question is a familiar struggle for many who are making their way through the spiritual jungle, so to speak.  We’re often given the impression that if we’re really in touch with our inner guidance that it will be clear and obvious to us when messages come and what they mean.  For some people this might be true some of the time, but I feel safe saying that even the most skilled and connected person feels unclear from time to time.  And a lot of us feel unclear most of the time, which can be frustrating.

If you’re like me and are terribly impatient with the process and easily distracted by not knowing the answers RIGHT NOW, it’s especially frustrating.

Clearly, this is an area where I STILL struggle.  As a result, I usually follow a predictable pattern:

  1. I get totally overwhelmed because I don’t know what anything means.I switch directions, spend all my time thinking about what it might mean, and end up in a funk when I can’t figure it out.If you’re one who tries to tackle everything with your head instead of your heart (like me), then it’s a strong wake-up call to slow down, because too much of this can seriously cloud our intuition.

    WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:  Do some mediation, stat.  We have to make ourselves take some down time.  The more we feel resistance (you know that voice that says, “You’ll never get this done if you don’t stay up until midnight every night slaving away until it’s perfect.”), the more we need a break.  Recognize that thinking all the time only wears out our minds and, in the end, we’re still not sure our answers are correct because our hearts haven’t had a chance to give their stamp of approval.  We have to trust that what needs to get done will be and allow ourselves to let something go.  We can always come back to it later if necessary.   The reward is more calm, which leads to greater clarity.

    2. I look for someone to talk me down from the ledge. I reach out to my energy worker and intuitive friends and my husband and anyone else who I think might be helpful, asking them to clear my energy, give me insights, or just plain tell me what to do.

    WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:  Trust our inner guidance.  It takes more strength to be honest with ourselves and be willing to slow down and support our own needs than it does to frantically ask someone else to do for us what we already have the power to do for ourselves.  And once we’ve taken a break, if we still feel like we need help, then we can seek it out from a place of more authenticity and awareness.

    3. I flip all the way to the other side, wipe my slate clean, and do nothing I don’t absolutely have to do until I feel better.True, I get more time with my family and I’m rested because I’m in bed early every night.But my writing and other passions take a hit.

    WHAT TO DO INSTEAD:  Find some balance!  We’re not meant to be teeter-totters!  When we swing from one extreme to the other, we’re really not solving the true problem, which goes back to slowing down and trusting our inner guidance.  And all our energy is used up on the swinging.   We can slow down, but we don’t have to stop completely (because it takes a lot more energy to start up again).  We can sit right smack in the middle of that teeter totter, open up, and let our inner guidance lead us in the right direction (and then have the courage to follow it, because it otherwise, what’s the point?).

Long story short, I don’t know yet what all these animals mean for me. Maybe it’s just springtime and I’m really observant. Or maybe it’s the next step on my personal journey. It’s not clear to me yet. And that’s okay. What I DO know is that doing nothing or overthinking is not going to bring me the answers I seek.

And maybe that’s really the lesson anyway.

XOXO
Ashley

P.S. If this resonated with you, let me know!  Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.  And please share with your friends!

The Two Most Important Words You Know

Power of language

As a writer, I understand the power of words.  Words often flow through me, inspired by something both outside me, and innately found within.   At the same time, I still have conscious choice over the words I ultimately select.  I often spend a great deal of working on flow and rhythm in an effort to create a style that doesn’t change the message.

And yet, even I struggle at times to remember the power that comes with certain word choices, or specific phrases.  We become numb to the meaning of words that are used frequently.  Writing is often about trying to use familiar words in a different way, to bring new meaning to phrases that we’ve heard what seems like a million times.  It’s a unique and elusive challenge.

I woke up during the night recently thinking of a phrase that is used constantly.  It’s one of the simplest phrases imaginable, yet it packs so much power that I doubt any of us even realize what we can do or have or be with just these two words.  And to be awakened from sleep?  Something deep within realizes this message is needed to be shared now.  The two words?

I AM.

How many times do you think you use these words in a single day?  I can think of 10 right now.  I’m sure I said all of these before noon today.

•    I am hungry.
•    I am tired.
•    I am aggravated.
•    I am here.
•    I am stuck in traffic.
•    I am late for work.
•    I am headed to a meeting.
•    I am on the phone.
•    I am sore.
•    I am meeting with her today.

On the surface, “I am” may not seem so powerful.  Yet, underneath it’s simple structure is a complex world of meaning.

The phrase “I am” (and specifically “am”) is a form of being.   When we say “I am,” we generally follow it up with some description.   So in essence we are saying that we embody whatever follows the phrase.  We are tired, sick, sad, etc.

It seems simple enough, however, it creates a spiritual problem for us when we consider whether we want to describe our being with words like sick, sad, tired, and so on.  These words may, in fact, describe our current state of FEELING.  But are they truly indicative of our current state of BEING?

Taking this thought process one step further, there is evidence that we become what we think and say.  This is why athletes visualize themselves winning competitions and great actors visualize themselves giving acceptance speeches; they know the power of our thoughts to create reality.

When we think or say to ourselves, “I am tired,” we are creating a reality in which the person that we are is tired.  That one isn’t too difficult to swallow.  But what about when we say, “I am depressed.”  Or “I am broke.”  What kind of reality does that create for us?  A state of being where we become something that we most likely don’t want.

Perhaps this seems like semantics.  Yet, I invite you to say the following phrases out loud. As you read them, sense how you feel.  Experience their energy in your body.

•    I am broke.
•    I am depressed.
•    I am mad.
•    I am stupid.
•    I am not worthy.
•    I am hopeless.
•    I am fat.

If we’re being honest and in touch with our senses, we’ll likely agree that it feels bad to read these words.  Nevertheless, this is how so many of us talk to ourselves on a regular basis. What if we changed the wording to create a different effect?  Read aloud the phrases below once again.

•    I feel broke.
•    I feel depressed.
•    I feel mad.
•    I feel stupid.
•    I feel not worthy.
•    I feel hopeless.
•    I feel fat.

We know feelings are fleeting.  They come and go almost as quickly as our thoughts.   And they change rapidly, depending on internal and external experiences.  Feelings are fluid, while beingness is more solid.  Feelings are somewhat untrustworthy, since they change so much, while beingness is, at its core, who we are.

We don’t want to BE broke, depressed, stupid, unworthy.  It’s okay to FEEL that way sometimes.  But we want to let that feeling float on through as it needs to, not let it come to rest in our souls and occupy our beingness.

I urge each of us (myself included) to evaluate how we speak to ourselves, not only our self-talk in general but the specific words and phrases that we use.  Where can we be gentler, kinder, more uplifting in our language?  Where can we shift our reality by shifting our choice of words?

If this resonated with you, I invite you to comment below and share with your friends.

Local Louisville women, join me for the Awakening Angels Circle, a sacred spiritual group for women who are waking up to the inner truth of who they are and why they’re here and need support, guidance, and inspiration along the way.  Starting May 27.

www.aspiritledlife.org

Meeting Marianne: Reminders on the Journey

Marianne

A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in front of Marianne Williamson, whom I have now admired and followed for half a decade.  She had just delivered a powerful talk about our obligation and responsibility to speak up and be involved in changing the disturbing current events of our time.  She’d rallied us to not stay on the sidelines any longer, that the world needs a new conversation; a new voice must be heard.   She’d urged us to become informed and involved in the political arena, where we have real possibilities of making change.

Her talk had been passionate and inspirational, and I imagined my not-so-distant future self in her shiny silver shoes, speaking to an awe-struck crowd, reminding them of their responsibility to be and to practice fierce love.

Reflecting back, I realize I was a very different person from when I first learned of her work in 2011.  At that time, I was just starting my coaching program with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.   In our materials was included this quote from Marianne’s best-selling book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The quote was provided for us to share with our future coaching clients.  However, when I first read those words, it was as if someone had climbed inside my soul and was whispering to me in a language only I could understand.  Those words were for ME.  And now, on this day, I finally had the opportunity to meet the woman who wrote them.

I finally had the opportunity to share with her just how much those words – in fact, the entire A Return to Love book –had meant to me over the past several years. Her moving exposition on practicing love to find inner peace and make the world a better place for all beings had felt like a new concept for me at the time, yet it resonated on a deep level, as if I had known it all along (and of course I had, because Love is who we are).  It was the beginning for me of a journey that would take me deep into profoundly painful areas which I had carefully protected and actively avoided for years.  It would eventually lead me to reclaim a voice I didn’t know I’d lost.

However on this day, despite the lingering inspiration and excitement from her talk, I found myself feeling nervous.  What should I say to someone who doesn’t know me, yet who has been like a friend through the darkness?  Whose words and willingness not to play small, have been the catalyst for my own liberation?   Whose mission of love have inspired me to fight my own fear, keep pushing forward, and publish a book of my own?  Whose beingness gave me permission to let my own light shine so now my own work and my own words are giving others permission to do the same?

Soon it was it my turn. My big moment had come.  Time to meet Marianne, to speak the words of my heart, using my enlightened voice, pushing out from a place of healing and light, inspired by her.

I walked up with the two books I brought to be signed.  I handed them to her.  And then….

I stood there, silent.  She asked if both books were for me, I said yes, and then returned to my awkwardness.  Feeling like I should say something after all the mental build-up, I mumbled that I forgot my original copy of A Return to Love at home.  She smiled graciously and finished signing the two books.  I moved on to meet my group.

I was still floating from the whole experience and the reality of what happened didn’t set in immediately.  Over the next 24 hours, though, a light sadness settled around me.  I had not spoken one word about how much her words meant to me and inspired me.  Nothing about my own accomplishments as a result of that inspiration.  Not even a word of gratitude for her work in the world.

NOTHING.

For all my liberation, all my efforts at moving through fear, all my work to let my own light shine, in the face of my opportunity to finally meet someone who had been so integral in my path, I chose, once again, to play small.

Before A Return to Love, I would likely have allowed my inner critic to use this experience as a reminder of my place in this world – being small, timid, quiet, and not bothering anyone with my voice.  That was the path I had worked so hard to traverse, the one I thought I had overcome.

However, all my work, sparked by that one quote, allowed me to see something different instead:

  • All the best healers are wounded and those wounds still need to be healed, sometimes over and over again as we spiral around the path. Perfection is not guaranteed.  It’s not even the goal.  A few years back, I may not even have been able to see the lesson right in front of me at this time.  That’s how far I’ve come.  At this time, in this place, I didn’t achieve the outcome I wanted, but I can clearly look back over the spiral of my life, observe where I’ve been, and celebrate my successes.  It’s progress, not perfection.

 

  • Fierce love is not a one and done. It’s not single book or speech or article or conversation or self-care practice.  Rather, it’s a consistent effort at loving ourselves over and over again until love reaches the places that still need work.  And then we keep on loving, keep on moving deeper, until we’re so filled with love that it spills out for others.  And we’re not done there. We keep on loving the parts that still need it, until we’re loved back to health.  Until the world is loved back to health.

Although our meeting didn’t go as I‘d imagined, for now I’ll use this opportunity to say what I wanted – needed—to say when I actually had the chance:

Marianne, thank you for those words you wrote years ago, which continue to inspire me to do the same.  Thank you for the words you continue to write and speak today.  Thank you for sparking a movement to love the world back to health and for caring so much for all beings that you liberate yourself from fear, and bring others (like me) with you.  And know that the next time we meet in person, I’ll tell you this myself.

5 Spiritual Lessons I Learned from My Cats + 1 Thing NOT to Do!

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Steve and Alice

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love cats (really all animals, but especially cats).  Although – funny  story — I’m actually very, very allergic to cats.  But thanks to the miracle of allergy shots, I can happily have furry friends who sleep on my pillow and not stop breathing.  Score for modern medicine!

Anyway, I’ve now had four cats of my own since I’ve been an adult.  My first cat was Dweezil, a purebred seal point Siamese and the furry love of my life.  My second was Gabe, a grey striped domestic shorthair cat.  These two lived long and mostly healthy lives.  Gabe was somewhere around 18 when he passed, about six weeks after being diagnosed with a large internal tumor. Dweezil also lived to 18.  He did have kidney disease later in life, but was otherwise pretty healthy, and we chose to have him euthanized to preserve his dignity when his body eventually began to break down.

Now we have “family cats” (as in, they belong to our whole family, whereas I had Dweezil and Gabe before I ever even had my children).  Their names are Alice B. Toe-Claws and Colonel Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Cat.  As you can see, we have fun with pet names.

Alice is a dilute “tabby-co”, a tabby calico with stripes plus soft grey and peach markings (as opposed to the black and orange markings of traditional calico).  Steve is a grey striped cat with three legs!  He was a stray who was humanely trapped due to his leg injury so that he could receive medical care.  His front left leg was too damaged to be saved and instead of returning him to the outdoors, the shelter decided to find him a family.  We happened to be volunteering at the shelter and were happy to give him a home.

Plenty of studies have shown the benefits of having pets, including lowering blood pressure, improving mood, and decreasing stress.  I can attest that my life has been enriched exponentially by having these babies around.  Besides the obvious health benefits, in caring for them, particularly as they age, I’ve found the relationship with pets mimics that of a human relationship, although with much less drama.  They love with us, play with us, and grieve with us.  They become our teachers and our friends.

I’ve found that my relationships with my pets gives me space to test out dealing with difficult emotions and situations, like sadness, anger, and death.  I find that they help me grow patience and empathy.  Their acceptance of me just as I am allows me to feel more confident in who I want to become.  And I don’t get this from most people.

Here’s a few more lessons I’ve learned:

Play hard, sleep hard – The joke of cats napping constantly is pretty cliché.  And yet it’s so true.  I watch these young cats play with each other.  They wrestle and run, bounce off dressers, and roll off beds, creating loud thuds and bumps that when heard from downstairs makes me wonder if we have a ghost.  Their play is rough and tumble, and sometimes they get aggravated with each other and hiss or growl.  When the time to play is over, they rest, often side-by-side or curled up together.

How many of us can say that we play and rest with equal passion?  Most often, we’re so overwhelmed with the work of life that we forget play altogether. And rest?  Who has time for that?  A cat’s work is to run and play and wrestle and explore.  What if we did the same?  What if we reimagined work as play?  And then we did that with as much passion as we could muster?

Keep your eyes on the prize – Alice plays fetch!  She will bring us items – small stuffed animals, ribbons, rubber bands, pieces of wire – to throw for her.  And she actually brings them back to be thrown again!  When she is fetch mode, she is LASER FOCUSED.  Her front end is crouched down, her back end up and moving side-to-side and her eyes are locked on the object being thrown.  Her eyes are so focused that her pupils expand until she looks like a shark with her black eyes.  And she never misses a throw.  She knows if you fake her out. She watches and she listens.  And, like a good cat, when she’s done, she’s done.

If only we could have this much focus on the tasks we need and want to do!  I, for one, get easily distracted by all the responsibilities and voices around me, pulling me in a million directions, when what I know is that focus is everything.  The ability to concentrate on one task at a time and to do it with laser focus is what paves the way not only for efficiency, but also for that passionate rest.  

Let it roll off – I watch these cats attempt to jump onto beds, dressers, bathroom counters, window sills and miss terribly.  Do they skulk off to pout, embarrassed by their failure?  No!  They look right up at me as if nothing happened.  I can almost hear them say, “You saw nothing.”  And then they lick their paw as if that’s what they meant to do anyway, because cats accept mistakes as a fact of being.

We humans, on the other hand, spend a lot of time sulking over failure, missed opportunities, and flubbed attempts, when that energy could be put to better use letting it roll right off and going about business as usual.  Mistakes and missteps are going to happen, and we needn’t let them define us as people.

Be vulnerable – Alice has been comfortable with us from the start.  So comfortable in fact, that it’s not uncommon to find her lying in the floor on her back, her furry white belly stretched and spilling out across either side of her.  Coming from the wild, Steve has taken more time to get even a small bit comfortable.  He’s still quite skittish and uses the relative safety of under the bed as his get-away spot.  Yet, I looked at him today, lying on the bed next to me, completely on his back with his full belly exposed. I reached to pet him and he didn’t flip over.  He stayed that way, allowing me to rub his tummy and give him the attention and love he needed.

We often take a while to warm up to people too.  Showing our bellies is an act of vulnerability that many of us choose to avoid, sometimes never getting comfortable with our closest human companions.  And yet, it’s vulnerability that creates connection.  And we humans thrive on connection. Just like our pets.  If they can learn to trust, maybe we can too?

Love unconditionally – Dweezil passed about a year after we got Alice and, for a time, she was an only cat.  We were planning our vacation and I realized that she would be totally alone (she’s not exactly buddies with the dogs).  I felt so bad about this that I arranged for her to stay with a friend while we were gone.  It didn’t occur to me until we returned, and I saw that look of confusion and surprise on her face when we picked her up, that she most likely thought we had given her away.  It was heartbreaking to think that the whole time we were gone she was thinking she’d lost her people.  In a short time, her love for us was already so accepting and pure, and we unconsciously took it for granted.

Most of us are, on the inside, longing for love, and yet outwardly we don’t want to seem needy or desperate.  So we contain our love, we put limits on it, train ourselves to be reserved with something that can never truly run out.  And when we do share, others often take our love for granted.  Not because most people are malicious, but because we struggle to understand how to love unconditionally, like our pets do.

I also want to share one lesson from cats that I’ve learned NOT to do:

Alice, like many cats, hates closed doors.  So much so, that she will dig and claw until she opens the door if it’s not closed securely.  She even attempts to use the lever door handles to get to the other side!  This is where cats get it all wrong.  We all know the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.”  Cats always seem to be looking for that greener grass on the other side of the door instead of being satisfied with the space they’re in at the moment.  Or at the very least, they need to be able to see an exit at all times.  We might call this a safety strategy, but I call it lack of faith.  There’s another saying… “The grass is greener where you water it.”  Cats could stand to learn a bit about that.

I’m curious, what lessons have you learned from your pets?  I’d love to hear your stories!  Share in the comments below!  And if you enjoyed this article, please be sure to share it!

XOXO

P.S. While this article is about my cats, I feel compelled to acknowledge the other pets in our home:  Max, Maddie, Jimmy Neutron, Isabelle (aka Luna), Biscuit, and Peaches.

Take Care of Your Gut to Improve Your Intuition

gut feeling2

Ever heard this joke?

One day the different parts of the body were having an argument to see which should be in charge.

The brain said, “I do all the thinking so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”

The eyes said, “I see everything and let the rest of you know where we are, so I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”

The hands said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to pick anything up or move anything. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”

The stomach said, “I turn the food we eat into energy for the rest of you. Without me, we’d starve. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”

The legs said, “Without me we wouldn’t be able to move anywhere. So I’m the most important and I should be in charge.”

Then the rectum said, “I think I should be in charge.”

All the rest of the parts said, “You?!? You don’t do anything! You’re not important! You can’t be in charge.”

So the rectum closed up.

After a few days, the legs were all wobbly, the stomach was all queasy, the hands were all shaky, the eyes were all watery, and the brain was all cloudy. They all agreed that they couldn’t take any more of this and agreed to put the rectum in charge.

The moral of the story?

You don’t have to be the most important to be in charge, any a**hole can do it!

We all know our gut is an integral part of our body.  Our guts, not just the rectum but also the large and small intestines, are invaluable to helping us feel GOOD.  And when they don’t feel good, when they aren’t working well, NONE of our parts feel good.
I know this firsthand because I’ve had IBS my whole adult life.  IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is one of those catch-all diagnoses which means they’ve ruled out everything else and you still have issues.  It often results in great abdominal discomfort:  gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, cramps and spasms, pain, and misery.  Poorly treated, it is no fun.

And treatment isn’t straightforward!  Specialists give drugs that provide relief for some.  For me, the super-gentle, non-habit-forming intestinal muscle relaxer (aka, laxative) simply stopped working.  For many people, diet is a huge concern, with many otherwise healthy foods having to be eliminated (think whole grains or even whole food groups, like dairy).  Coffee, the drink of the gods, is a gut irritant.  And so is alcohol!  All the fun can be sucked out of life with IBS.

More importantly, having all those unresolved gut problems can wreak havoc on your gut feelings too.  Gut feelings as in INTUITION.  How, you might ask, does having an irritated, agitated, stopped up, overactive gut affect our intuition?

Well, you see…we have energy centers throughout our body, often referred to as chakras.  These areas are integral in the health of our energy body, as well as our physical body, allowing the universal energy (qi, chi, prana), which both surrounds us and is part of us, to flow smoothly.  When it doesn’t flow smoothly, because of illness, stress, trauma, or other imbalances, we get blockages to our energy flow.  These can be temporary or long-term, depending on the situation and what we do to resolve it.

One of these energy centers—the sacral chakra—is located directly over our gut.  Whenever we have gut issues, that energy center is affected.  The sacral chakra is the energy center involved in creation – both procreation and the creation of new ideas, thoughts, and behaviors.  We often think of the third eye as the seat of our intuition, and it does play a primary role in being able to see clearly and with inner wisdom.   However, the power of creation is also a natural connection to our intuition.  Seeing clearly is only part of the puzzle; we must have enough support and strength from our creative center to bring forth our vision into the world.

This is an important point to remember, as so many people go into spiritual development thinking they need to focus on their upper chakras, especially the third eye and crown, in order to connect.  In reality, it’s about BALANCE, like everything else in our lives.  Not only balancing the chakras, but also balancing the body, mind, and spirit. It’s why we nurture ALL our parts!

Because I’ve suffered so much over the years with IBS, lack of balance, and their collective impact on my natural intuitive nature, I’ve cultivated a few tips that may help YOU to get your gut—and therefore, your intuition—back in order.

Eat a gut-friendly diet – There are many diets out there; the key is to find that one that works for you!  Generally speaking, avoiding standard gut irritants and identifying any food sensitivities is crucial.  These (sadly) most often include:  coffee (and caffeine in general, so no sodas either), alcohol, greasy foods, spicy foods, acidic foods, dairy, and wheat/gluten.  You may not need to completely eliminate all of these foods, however. Test each one out by eliminating for a week and then adding back in to see what causes irritation for your unique system.  For me, I can handle dairy most of the time (which is great because I LOVE ice cream), but eliminating wheat has been super helpful.   I also have sensitivity to eggs, so I avoid those too.  It makes breakfast difficult (no bread, no eggs!) but my belly feels sooo much better when I tend to its needs and it helps keep my sacral chakra clear and flowing!

On a side note, I also recently learned that there’s such an ailment as “irritable bladder;” I know because I have it too!  Apparently some bodies are just extra-sensitive. The dietary suggestions for this are pretty much the same as for irritable bowel, not surprisingly since they’re in the same area (apparently they often occur together…who knew?), which also means they’re both governed by the sacral chakra.  The good part of nurturing your intuition is that you start to become much more aware of your body and can identify when something is off.  I’ve known for a while I had something new going on, it just took some time figure out exactly what.

Balance all your chakras daily – You only have to know a few basics about chakras to help them stay balanced.  You have 7 main chakras:

  • Root (red) – Located at the base of your spine
  • Sacral (orange) – Located in your lower abdomen
  • Solar Plexus (yellow) – Located in your upper abdomen, just below your ribcage
  • Heart (green) – Located at your heart
  • Throat (sky blue) – Located at your throat
  • Third eye (indigo) – Located in the middle of your forehead
  • Crown (violet or white) – Located on top of your head

While sitting quietly, take several deep, slow breaths.  Then bring your awareness to the root chakra and imagine breathing in cleansing red light into the root.  Do this until the area feels clear, then move your awareness up to the sacral area and breathe in orange light.  Continue through each chakra and color until you feel clear and refreshed, or until you feel like you’re finished.  As an alternative, you can breathe white light into each chakra, or even simply breathe white light into your body, starting with your feet and moving up to your crown.  This process should take 5-7 minutes, unless you feel the need to stay with an area longer.

It’s important to balance all your chakras, not just the ones that seem blocked.  The key is balance and focusing only on one or two can cause them to become out of balance instead.   You can put extra focus onto blocked chakras, but be sure to work with all of them during a session.

Flex your creative muscles – The gut is the area of creative energy – it needs to create!  There are so many options to flex your creative muscles, and there’s not requirement to be a pro.  If you like painting, drawing, or other visual arts, make time for that.  If you like writing (ME, ME!), make that a priority.  Perhaps you have some unfinished projects (or some you’ve never even started) that need to be brought to life.  Don’t put it off one more day!  These stagnant creative energies get stuck in the sacral area and they need to be released (and keep in mind, sex is a creative energy too…maybe you need more of that)!

As a reminder, it’s important to keep our gut happy in order to keep our intuition flowing!   A happy gut grows our intuition, which in turn, helps us be more aware of what’s really going on with us. So eat some good foods, create some interesting things, and be sure to keep those chakras clear!

Not sure where to start?  Reach out to me for additional tips, tools, or one-on-one chakra healing!

Until we connect again,
XOXO

P.S. If any part of this article resonated with you, please leave a comment below and share on your favorite social media site!