The Breath of Life.

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I wanted to share this with you.  I could not advocate anything more.  Deep breathing is vital to our well-being.

When we are in nature, when we sleep deeply or when we meditate, we breathe deeply and this can enable us to to feel relaxed and calm.  When we are relaxed and calm it impacts our entire body.  Deep breathing signals our brains that we are no longer stressed and we no longer require the amped up body response of fight or flight.

The more stressed we are in our day-to-day the more it impacts our breathing.   It does not take long until we are breathing shallow as a matter of routine.  We don’t even realize that we have stopped breathing into our diaphragm as intended and are only pulling air into chests before expelling it quickly.  It becomes a cycle.  Stress causes us to stop breathing deeply and as we breathe shallow we are reinforcing that we are in stress.

The body’s response to stress is the same as if our life were to be threatened.  Remember those times when you thought there was a monster under your bed as a child, or you thought you heard someone in the house as an adult?  Remember how you stopped (or almost stopped) breathing?  When we live our lives filled with stress our body reacts in the same way.   Our body needs oxygen.  It is vital to our well being.  Stress impacts the central nervous system and causes the hypothalamus in the brain to release cortisone and adrenaline, flooding your body.   From there a whole laundry list of body responses occur as the body tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen occurs, many of which, long term, can end up killing you.

Breathing is life.  Cessation of breathing is death.  It follows that the more deeply we breathe, the more connected to life and health we are.  We give our body, our brains, and our spirits what they need to be able to fully function.

Take the time when you are driving, riding the bus, walking to work, sitting in a meeting … to just consider your breathing.  Check that you are taking air right down deep into your belly.  Practice taking it in slowly, holding it, and slowly releasing.  Relax your body as you exhale, releasing all your tensions.  Let go of your worries.  Just breathe in and out.  As we become more mindful of our breathing, even just for a few minutes each day, we begin to see a noticeable difference.  Just a simple cycle pattern of breathing can reset our batteries and remind us to relax.

Here is the cycle I use:

Become aware of your breath, breathe normally in and out.

1. Breathe in to the count of 10 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 10 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of  10 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.

Breathe normally for a half dozen breaths.

1. Breathe in to the count of 12 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 12 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of  12 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.

Breathe normally.

You can up the number of your count as your ability to breathe deeply improves.  This alone will help you to relax, refocus your mind and therefore help you to concentrate on the task at hand.  The stress and jitteriness that you may feel when you try to meditate or go to sleep often occurs because you are breathing in a very shallow manner.  Using the method I have outlined can also help you to relax your body so that you can focus on meditation or it can help you drift off to sleep.  It is a wonderful, healthy and simple way for you to take back the control of your “self” that our day-to-day stressful lives continually erode from us.

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My Valentine.

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Here is my heart. I am reaffirming that I intend to invest it into my life and the people that I interact with. It is the best part of who I am. When I can put aside all the noise that distracts me from listening, it speaks to me of truth and hope. It always leads me to the light.

Someday, I hope to be worthy of the heart that I was given, that I might be able to live a life totally devoted to its well-being, but for now, all I can do is to reaffirm that I am working on it. I care about the world around me. I care about the people in it. I care about my friends and family. I care about you.

Someday we may live in a world where everyone lives by the wisdom of their hearts. We might care for one another, support on another, encourage each person to be and do everything they possibly can. It will probably not happen in my lifetime but I do know, unless I do my part here and now, it will never happen.

So, I intend to love. I intend to love even when I am faced with a world filled with hate. I intend to love the unloved and to lift them up in any way I can. I will continue to allow myself to feel love, even when it is so intense that it moves me to tears. Sometimes that experience is one of beauty, but often it is one of great pain. When I see others suffer, I feel so deeply that I know that it is love building a bridge between their experience and mine. There is no separation when love is the bridge that connects us all. We should never be afraid to open ourselves to truly understand other people’s lives. Without that bridge, we are all just weapons that will eventually affect war on each other.

So here is my Valentine’s heart. It is not the love of romance. It is a love more abiding. It is love with connection, with compassion, and with healing. I want to love the world. I want to feel that I am loved in return. I want this for all of us.

Life’s Instructions.

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1. Have a firm handshake.
2. Look people in the eye.
3. Sing in the shower.
4. Own a great stereo system.
5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
6. Keep secrets.
7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
8. Always accept an outstretched hand.
9. Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
10. Whistle.
11. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
12. Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery.
13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out. Continue reading

Setting Lambs Free.

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I have spent a lot of time examining my belief systems and how and if they have benefited me. I have also seriously considered how and if they have damaged me. Sadly, for the most part, I have to side with the latter.

I have strong clear memories of the many times I was instructed not to do things because it was not what other people were doing. I am not speaking about setting fire to the family dog kind of things, but rather things that were expressions of who I was and harmed no-one like wanting to wear my green pants with an orange top.  The only damage those types of things caused was to my family and their desire to fit in and to appear as “normal” as possible. Success was measured by how well you could do what everyone else was doing, as long as you did it in the same way everyone else was doing it. Life was one big chorus line where, to be perfect, you danced in sync with everyone else and never, ever, drew attention to yourself. I was to be assimilated, to be part of the whole and not an individual.

This, they assured me, was the path to true happiness.

It wasn’t.  It never was and never will be.

The problem with trying to fit in and not being yourself is that you end up with people in your life who can and will destroy you. If I had just been myself there would not have been any ambiguity regarding our compatibility. Those people would have walked a wide circle around me and I would have been better off for it.  Instead of spending so much time in complete pain, destroyed by the many unkindnesses from people who were never going to understand me, I might have found people who were actually capable of loving “me.”

Not because those people are bad people, or I am some precious snowflake, but because we both deserved the kind of love and friendship that actually was intended for our lives.  Instead, we were all forced into a game of engaging one another simply because we paid the admittance price and once paid, everyone gets a ride. Continue reading

No-one Puts Baby In The Corner

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We all have our own stories to tell of our childhood, some more damaging than others.  I am still struggling to put together the words that can move the darkness of my childhood into the light, where I can finally and ultimately let it go and set myself free.

Sometimes it is difficult to do that, especially when so much effort was made to keep it all hidden.

But sometimes, it is easy to get stuck on the pain and to allow our anger or our sense of victimhood to wrap around us as if it were our very skin.  We get lost.  We forget who we are, and without the very people who were supposed to love, nurture and protect us, there is no-one to hold on to the memory of who we once were.  Parents are meant to do that.  They are meant to know and understand who we are and to hold that for us while we travel physically and emotionally through life, struggling to find ourselves.  They are meant to be the touchstone of our lives that pull us back to the mirror where they say, “See, you are beautiful.  You are capable.  You are Loved.”

Somewhere in the forest of pain and sorrow that littered my growing up, I grew 8 ft tall and I stepped up to parent myself.  I am not saying that I did everything perfectly.  I doubt I did much of anything perfectly, but I did survive.  Continue reading

Ever Changing, Ever Growing, Ever Loved.

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Our memories are emotional snapshots of a single moment in our lives. They may evolve around events, people or places.  We take those memories and we colour them with years of handling and layering with bits and pieces of detail and meaning.

Those memories that make us yearn with an aching need to recapture what once was, cannot ever be found again by simply returning to the scene of the snapshot. It has nothing to do with a place or even really the people. It has to do with the emotions we felt in a moment during the journey of our life. Often, the very process of trying to recreate what was, shatters it forever. Somehow the idea that we could return is a greater comfort than the failed attempt to do exactly that.

Going back leads us to stand in our past. What we saw and knew as a child is often explained. The magic is lost and our own growth and understanding lend shading and depth to it that we see now because we have matured and are now capable of understanding.  The huge tree we used to climb almost to the sky, where we would sit for hours, is actually a pretty average old tree of no real consequence.  Our first kiss can never be re-experienced because everything in that moment was coloured with the sensory overload of new emotions. The very air we breathed seemed full of promises and all the hopes and dreams of our expectations and imaginings not only heighten our interpretations of the event as it happened, but also as we thought about it later.  A first kiss from someone we loved is very different from a first kiss from someone we are not at all attracted to.  The difference is not in the kiss, it is in the meaning we attach to it.  Those layers of meaning are not real in the sense that they exist independent of our producing them and applying them to the event, and they are not static. Continue reading

Sorry, They Lied.

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This is another of the New Age-isms that I take issue with. I am all for opening up our children and filling them with light and possibilities but I also believe in teaching them discernment and truth.

I grew up in a world where little girls, especially, were raised to be “nice.” Reduced to expectations, that meant that having an idea, opinion, feeling, or need that was not the same as other people’s – made you bad, needy and selfish. You were meant to go along with the flow, to always sacrifice yourself for others, and never ever ask for anything. Your happiness lay in making others happy. Period.

The seventies had a mini revolution to guarantee women more rights, including the right to actually self-determine their own lives and not just be a host for their partner and children to suck the life out of.  Well, that is what the pamphlets said.

Today we tell our children that if they will just reflect kindness and love,  if they will be positive, or visualize nice things . . . they will get nice in return.  We tell them that is how the world works.

But that is absolutely NOT how it works.  The world is not fair. There is no balance, where in the end, everything always gets neatly tied up in Fair Wrapping Paper bought at the Justice Store. Often the mean horrible people end up getting all the breaks and living with money and power. The bullies don’t end up alone and miserable. The nice guy frequently does finish last and he is left as the only idiot being nice, being honest, loving and respecting others while everyone else takes advantage of him.  They go on to amazing success with a world that claps every time they fart and the nice dude ends up living alone, in poverty, with other people’s cats that they could not be bothered with.

We have to stop lying to people. Continue reading

Today’s Food For Thought.

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“Where do I belong,” was a question that haunted my soul for as long as I can remember.    While some children worried about where to put their hands when under the scrutiny of a disproving adult, I had no idea where to put me, ever.  Deep, soul-wrenching questions haunted my nights, robbing me of sleep.  My days were consumed with trying to undo the one thing I knew with every fibre of my being.  “I did not fit in.”  I did not need to wait for other children to taunt me or run away from me on the playground, their cruel words and actions already had a place carved out in my being where they were meant to live.  I did not fight against them, I welcomed them home.   Continue reading

Today’s Food For Thought.

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How I wish that I could explain to those I love, how wrong the world is. I wish I could go back and erase all the messages that I passed on, some intentional, but so many more that I just inadvertently taught out of my own weaknesses and fears. I wish I could redo it, putting more emphasis on embracing it all and releasing them from any sense of shame for simply being a human being.

The world tries to write our stories with its labels and limiting beliefs. We are too weak, we are not enough, we failed, we can’t, we shouldn’t. There is nothing that happens to us that we need to fear. We can face it. We can overcome it. We can heal. Continue reading

Today’s Food For Thought

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Life has given me everything. Every experience has taught me, whether positive or negative, every lesson has been perfectly delivered to burn its message deep into my heart. Sometimes I have fought the lesson and had to repeat the learning but all that I am today, I am because I have lived it.

If I am kind it is because I have chosen to be kind, over and over again. I cannot have lived a life of cruelty and revenge and be kind today. What I choose this very moment creates in me who I am. It changes and impacts the person I was before the action and it influences the person who will act in the next moment. Because I am imperfect and make mistakes, the only way to move forward in an effective way is to hold on to the lesson from the mistake and carry it forward to help me with the next lesson.

Every time I chose to deny who I was and try to adopt what others thought I should be, I gave away something so precious . . . Some of it I have never been able to get back. Our actions define us. Every single one of them, no matter how small.

I was lucky enough to have been born as a weirdo. I was weird because my brain was not wired to see things, to process them, in the same way, that everyone else did. I was not wanted as a child. I was usually alone, and seldom had friends who understood me. I learned that I could do it. I could make it without their help. I could figure things out on my own. I live my life unapologetically as who I am. I do things my way. I give myself permission to be me.

I am not special, or perfect, or some famous millionaire. But I am an awesome me. I took what I was given and I learned to love and nurture it and not just wish it away. Continue reading