Category Archives: Spirituality

Good Job!

Criticism makes me cringe. There, I’ve said it.

I’m a Life Coach and a businesswoman who should be taking constructive feedback and up-cycling it into a highly successful career. But I don’t want it.

Well, the fully mature adult who’s hiding in there somewhere wants it. But the vulnerable, exposed, raw part of me is dominant right now and it’s trembling.

My partner joined in on one of my meditation classes for the first time this morning. Afterwards, I scanned his face for signs of relaxation and enjoyment (or discomfort and disappointment).

He gave me some constructive feedback. I took it in and then withdrew.

I am a perfectionist when it comes to my classes (okay, not just my classes). I get anxious beforehand, hoping that no noise will disturb the peace, praying that the internet connection will do its job, that I’ll do a good job, and that my clients are happy.

I once held it together while holding an online meditation class for a multinational company during a thunderstorm with a leak in the room. But that’s less meditation and relaxation and more disaster management.

I work hard and prepare well. I know I’m good at what I do.

But I also know that I could be better. And the way that I could become better is to care a little less. To be more present. To relax and enjoy. Exactly what I’m instructing my participants to do.

However, I’m hyper-critical of my mistakes and I’m hyper-sensitive to criticism from others. Work and preparation are excellent but I’ve been trying to control the uncontrollable (others, the internet, the weather) and it’s making me sweat.

I think of my sister who has worked in kitchens. If a dish wasn’t perfect, the head chef would fling it across the room, smashing crockery and wasting ingredients. My sister didn’t take it personally.

We come from the same household. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I take it on the chin? Constructive criticism is GOOD for me and for my career.

As I sit with my discomfort, I know that logically my partner is right. I’ve even thought the same myself. And by taking his comment on board, it will make my meditation classes better.

I also understand that this hits deeper than the adult reasoning mind can deal with. This is a further confrontation for a small hopeful child who just doesn’t need any more criticism and “could be betters”.

The people who love you the most tend to want you to be the best that you can be. So that you can live the life of your dreams, so that you don’t have to suffer.

But never being able to relax with my performance, my appearance and my achievements has taken its toll. And I need to relax.

I shouldn’t care so much what others think. But what others think is what keeps me in business.

As I write this now, I realise that what’s more important is how I make my clients feel. And that’s less about perfection and more about the energy, the vibe and the self that I bring to each session.

One of the questions I asked a class last night was:

“During these winter months in lockdown, what is it that you need in order for you to be able to rest and connect to inner stillness?”

An animal approaching hibernation knows exactly what it needs to collect, where it needs to go and how it needs to be so that it can switch off and conserve energy. So that in springtime, it emerges bright and energised.

The answer that came to me was:

“Meditate. Do nothing. Just be.”

I’ve been teaching meditation and mindfulness for many years now and I go through phases of meditating. I find it challenging to sit in silence without being consumed by thoughts.

I’m always reading on the topics of personal development and spirituality, listening to podcasts and attending workshops. But good old fashioned sitting in stillness and being has been a very rare activity for this meditation teacher. Embarrassing.

Do you want to know the feedback my partner gave me?

“Talk less. Leave space for the person to settle into the present moment.”

In other words, MORE STILLNESS. Damnit. And this coming from the guy who just attended his very first meditation class.

First things first. I honoured the inner child who just wants to show mammy and daddy her newest creation and for them to gush over it. I felt all of the feelings and cried.

Then I emerged from my self-protecting cocoon (curled up in a blanket) energised and inspired. I do need more silence and stillness.

Firstly, with myself. And that will naturally enter into my classes.

It can be hard to gauge the pace and energy of a class where all you can see are blank screens so I will have to remind myself that I don’t have to fill in all of those blanks with language.

Once I become comfortable with discomfort and stop resisting everything I encounter in the present moment, then my mind, my body, my heart and my soul will become still.

More peace. And more enjoyment. For me. And for my clients.

So what did I do when I decided that I need to meditate, be still and just be? I wrote a blog post.

I will meditate today, I promise.

Images: lifeunscriptedministries and wikimedia

I Am

She kneels then gazes at me. “See through your eyes and feel with your heart,” she instructs.

Nervousness churns in my stomach. I want to do it right.

“You’re in your mind,” she observes. “You don’t have to be perfect.”

“I know I’m trying too hard and I’m feeling anxious,” I admit.

“How long have you felt like this,” she asks.

“All day,” I respond. Then, “All my life.”

She prods me in the chest and says, “Think with the heart.”

I start to cry. It catches my breath.

I snot up and I’ve no tissues. Definitely not perfect now.

We continue gazing into each other’s eyes. It feels like something drops inside of me.

It takes me by surprise. I sit in calm for the rest of the workshop.

On the drive home, I experience chest pains. I know what it must be – a cracking open.

The following morning, I give myself time to feel my feelings. I let it all in and in doing so, I let it all out. I sob.

That evening, I write again for the first time in ten months.

The workshop was called Opening the Flow of Love with healer Elena Lisnic. As soon as I reach my house afterwards, I send Elena a message and book a session with her for a couple of days’ time.

This afternoon, I attend (partly to see how she works as a fellow practitioner and partly for my own healing). We talk.

I fill her on a current dilemma. She gets me to do some visualisation.

Again, she observes how active my mind is. I recognise the ego in this particular situation.

One option I could give my energy to feels exciting. But I’m also anxious, dreaming and lacking presence.

The other option is easy, relaxed and feels like love. Unless I begin thinking again.

Elena tells me to listen to my heart. The heart speaks softly, gently and it speaks the truth.

Any situation that brings anxiety and constriction is not for my highest good. Hard for someone who’s lived with fear for so long to recognise which is an egoic fear keeping me separate and stuck and which is a genuine guidance system illuminating the right path.

I guess practice listening to the heart and distinguishing between the two will build my self-trust.

Elena reminds me that I don’t need to go seeking outside of myself. I have everything within.

It’s so simple. Not enough drama for the ego.

However, when I’m living in the flow of love, everything is awe-inspiringly beautiful. The world and the spaces between are pregnant with energy. And I am full and whole.

Elena asks me who I am then hands me a blank page. I hesitate then put pen to paper:

Sharon, who are you?

I am.

I am brilliance. Shining light.

Love. Connection. Peace. Presence. Infinity.

God is in me.

Flow. Open heart. Abundance. Joy. Laughter.

Hugs. Flowers. The ocean.

Immersion. Space. Expansion. Floating. Flying.

Electricity. Energy.

Nothing as everything.

I am.

Image: lovethispic.com

Anon

I’ve been shaken up. The way I’m relating to the world has shifted. I’m excited and I’m resisting.

I’m almost half-way through a Non-Duality course with Mark Molumby and I’m doing lots of research on the subject as well as exploring the topics of psychology, spirituality and psychedelics.

As we debate in class, a nervousness bubbles. My identity and attachments are challenged. The ego mutters Uh-oh!

During a class meditation, I go from living in a head of rapid-fire thoughts, predictions and analysis to a melting relaxation to energy whooshing up the front and down the back of the body to a vision of a spiral then a single eye.

As is customary for me, I go from experiencing to thinking about the experience, wanting to describe it and squeeze out meaning. But I’m noticing this habit so my direct experiences are becoming more intense.

I’m having terrifying and wonderfully vivid dreams- a terror of falling backwards from an extreme height then deciding to do a skydive to face the fear and be reborn; a river of colours flanked by ancient trees; and communicating with my boyfriend without words.

I’ve lost interest in Netflix and Love Island, novels and too-sweet biscuits. The humdrum of dramas and complaining seems redundant.

I don’t need to switch off anymore. I’m turned on.

I’m hungry for more- more newness in a return home. I crave sitting in stillness.

For too many years, I struggled to cope with the norms of growing up- exams, holding down a job, finding someone to love me, earning enough money, getting a “normal”, pensionable career, and buying a house (I still haven’t done some of the above, probably never will).

Every so often, I believed myself to be such a failure that I thought I’d be better off dead.

So I worked on myself- I went for counselling, inhaled self-help books, and chanted. I sucked on homeopathic remedies, exercised daily, and ate healthily.

I completed several courses, set up a well-being business, and created Mindfulness, meditation and Positive Living classes, which I myself benefit from immensely.

I’m seeing that we all struggle. And in that struggle, we grow, we redirect and we connect.

Over four years ago, I entered into a relationship with a man who, without years of trying and deconditioning, is naturally in the flow of giving and receiving love. I watched and I learned.

In the process of feeling vulnerable, loving him and accepting his adoration, I slowly started to accept myself.

In the early days, I admitted to a Life Coach that losing Luis would be the worst thing that could happen to me. I now trust myself (and life) enough to see that I am enough.

A possible separation is just an experience. An imagination. An illusion. I don’t have to make it who I am.

I’ve also come to realise that, instead of rejecting myself by judging my feelings, I can feel my feelings and be okay. Better than okay.

I can allow my emotions to split me open in a tear-soaked surrender. An abandon. A scream: “Fuck it, I’m ready!” then “Please help me!”

And in the aftermath of the cracking and the softening, everything feels like it’s inside me- the passionate singer, the rain-streaked wind, a mug of tea, a warm embrace, my body moving, embers of laughter.

I’m energised and enthused. The world is throbbing with beauty and adventure.

My mind still questions, wants to understand the meaning of all of this- the universe and why we are here, how it all began.

But I’m willing to let go of the need to know and control everything. I can’t control anything anyway. What a relief and a blessed reclamation of energy.

Maybe there’s nothing to figure out after all. It simply is. I am. So enjoy the ride.

Now I’m detaching from all that I think I know, from my judgments, conditioning and expectations, from my loved ones, and from what I believe myself to be. And in the detaching, I set myself free. I set everyone free.

And that’s a scary place too. I worry about the ripple effects on my relationship.

But that’s me jumping back into the head. So I stay present to the present, to my feelings, to what life is offering me.

I open my heart and come alive.

In my honest reflections, I’ve observed a desire to cling to Mark and all that he can offer. I could do so many things with him, learn so much, become different, feel better, and travel to fascinating places.

But nobody can take me anywhere. It’s all within me. I have the power to take myself there. And there is nowhere to go.

So I unhook an attachment to Mark also. I’m floating solo yet more connected than ever.

Images: Google & Tinybuddha.com

Instamoment

I wake in the early hours of the morning. Unable to fall back to sleep, I creep to the other room to meditate.

The curtains are pulled wide. The sky is decorated with layers of cloud, dusky and white. The wind mewls, causing the ebony trees to arch and bounce.

My first instinct is to capture this experience for an Instastory. But having already committed to a social media-free Sunday, I don’t do this.

I’m forced to be in the moment, to really see and hear and feel what’s right in front of me. I look out and I breathe. My senses are heightened.

Most people are sleeping at this mysterious hour. I’m in the privileged position of being a lone observer, from this vantage point, of nature in all of its mind-blowing glory.

I marvel at the lightness and flexibility of the branches as they sway and back-bend.

The clouds move across the heavens. I make out a seahorse, which transforms into a chimpanzee. I can’t remember when I’ve been quiet and undistracted long enough to look for shapes in the clouds.

Every so often, a single star is revealed. And the pinprick of an aeroplane travels through the night.

If it hadn’t been for social media-free Sunday, I’d have taken a brief impression of this spectacular moment, then immediately pointed my phone at it.

I’d eye it through a screen, then frame or alter it before sharing it online. How it looked onscreen would be more important than the reality, which I’d barely give a second glance.

Nature is bestowing me with miracles. The least I can do is give it all of my attention and appreciation.

And so I sit at that window, a different screen altogether, and connect in a way that only time and pure presence allows.

girl window night sky

I didn’t point my phone at this special moment so this is an image I lifted from Google.

Fulfilled

I’ve made a pleasing decision to treat myself to (at least) one thing per month that will make me feel good. I never question handing over large sums for rent, insurance and petrol, so why not do the same with things that will uplift me?

Investing in myself will increase my value, both to myself and to the world, because it will make me relaxed, energised, creative, motivated and inspired.

Examples of things I’m now unafraid to pay for are:

  • Attending interesting workshops and courses
  • Enjoying delicious yoga classes
  • Receiving massages, facials and manicures
  • Buying tickets for concerts, festivals and trips away.

At first, I considered cutting down on my monthly Life Coaching sessions. I could replace them with some of the other activities I mentioned.

But these sessions are benefiting me hugely. I’m delving deeper and shedding baggage that I no longer need or desire. Ditching them would be done out of a scarcity mentality. If I spend on this, I won’t have enough for that.

So in addition to my regular Life Coaching, I shall courageously shower myself with even more wonderful experiences that will promote learning, spiritual growth, personal development, fun, dancing, travel, stretching and beautifying.

And I’m ready and willing to pay for these pleasures. Why? Because I’m worth it. I deserve it.

AND because I believe that you need to give in order to receive. And that abundance is all around. I just need to trust and it will be revealed to me.

A few days ago, I worried that I hadn’t enough money to get me through the month. I was also doubting my career choices and wondering if I should succumb to a more traditional approach to employment.

JUST for financial reasons. Or more accurately, out of fear and lack of self-belief.

I tested out the scenario by visualising myself in one such job (a technique I learned from Steve Pavlina). I could see myself walking along a corridor in a pencil skirt, tights and low-heeled black shoes.

I felt constricted and had a knowing that if I was an employee in a place like this, I would have to work doubly hard on maintaining a balanced, happy life. I’d survive but I’d be wasting my time because I wouldn’t be living on purpose.

After that experiment, I acknowledged that I am on the right path. I finally agreed to own who I am and what I have to offer. Having come to terms with this, I needed to bargain with the Universe.

Hey Universe, if you want me to live the lifestyle I really wish to live, if you think I should shine my light and empower others to do the same, you’re gonna have to help me out!

I couldn’t imagine how I’d manage to pay the bills but I had a knowing that money would come to me in an unexpected way.

Yesterday, my boss (from a part-time job) contacted me to inform me that I’m due holiday pay. AND I received a belated birthday card (three months late) with money stuffed inside and scratch cards, upon which I won two euro.

This week, I was charged less than I’d anticipated for a bill, gained a few new clients, earned more money than I’d figured I would, and got shouted lunch twice!

I’m seeing (and appreciating) abundance in all its forms – financially, gifts, compliments and encouragement, great conversations, friendships, love, affection and insights.

I’m lapping up an abundance of talent, passion, zest and ideas in other people. And I’m lucky enough to be experiencing an abundance of time so that I can work, meet loved ones, read, write, do yoga, meditate and dance around my bedroom.

I’ve realised that I haven’t been trusting the Universe and that mistrust made me (unconsciously) retreat and shield myself from all the bad things that were likely to happen while I stayed stuck in that mindset.

Now however, my intention is to trust that I’m being looked after and that everything I need is already provided. I believe that everything that’s occurring is for my benefit, for my growth, so that I can be the hero in MY story.

Today, I got my nails done. I rarely allow myself such “unnecessary luxuries”. Yet gazing at my sparkly purple fingernails is filling me up.

This trip to the beautician is sending an important message to me and to the Universe (or is it one and the same?) The message reads as follows:

I am beautiful. I believe in my worthiness. I trust that there’s a well of abundance that I can dip into whenever I choose.

And the more I fill myself with things that light me up, the more I replenish the well of abundance, and the more others benefit too.

I turn on my light and the the rays, they stretch up and beyond…

self-love lamp

Image: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/self-love-common-mistakes/

Superstar You Are

Feeling upset about something. Nothing in particular and everything at the same time. Unable to articulate, communicate or even know why.

I decide to meditate. Sit with the feeling. Then I start to speak, hesitantly, as though telling a loved one what’s wrong.

The tears flow. And then I hear the underlying mantra: “Not good enough.”

So I tap on this revelation: Not good enough. (Emotional Freedom Technique – tapping on acupressure points around the body while voicing what I’m feeling, thereby unblocking and releasing.)

Good enough to be an acupuncturist, a teacher, blogger, girlfriend. But not good enough to be a successful entrepreneur, bestselling author, an international speaker, a wife, mother, or even a live-in partner.

I understand that there’s more to these sweeping statements. am holding myself back. I’m not prepared to put in the effort if it’s not going to lead to anything. I worry that I’ve nothing unique to offer. Yet I’m still judging myself for not working harder.

On the other hand, one thing I have worked unceasingly upon is my own personal development. I have to congratulate myself for that.

And I know that I’m “The One” in one amazing person’s eyes. We love each other and have a wonderful relationship. However, the circumstances are not conducive for us to live together and neither one of us is sure about marriage or kids. Plus, it’s healthy to have our own lives. Despite getting the logic, I’m still left feeling undervalued and not wanted enough. Again with the mantra: “Not enough.”

I realise that I’m looking to external factors for validation – other people, labels, milestones, money. What I’m really suffering from is what I’m thinking about myself.

In a flash of inspiration, I see that I need to become my very own superstar. I need to place value on my time, gifts, heart and spirit. I need to celebrate myself and see myself through loving eyes.

I will listen to my intuition, be kind to myself, and love and accept myself more. I must cheerlead further advancement, breakthroughs and prosperity.

I shall become my own captive audience, first-rate life coach, dream-granting fairy godmother and adoring life partner. And I have to be willing and open to LET LIFE LOVE ME.

I get up from my meditation cushion, walk to the mirror, gaze into my eyes and replace the once unconscious mantra of “Not good enough” with a very conscious affirmation: “Life loves me”.

I repeat this statement through self-judgment, cynicism, sadness and fear until a flicker of belief lights a flame of hope within. Let the miracles begin…

Image: gointothestory.blcklst.com

Resources

The Warrior

There is always something to think, to worry about, to get angry over. Always some drama, a problem to figure out, a decision to make.

With this realisation, I detach, let go, and travel within. The thoughts form and dissolve. The movie of my life still plays on. But I turn down the volume and focus within.

I connect with a deep sense of peace, a groundedness. I listen. I breathe.

Like a novice snorkeller in a world of underwater magic. Astonished by the beauty. Yet all I can hear is my breathing.

I could be lifted from this peace and wonder by an unconscious wandering to wherever my thoughts whimsically transport me. Or I could choose, moment by moment, to return to the present and to appreciate what’s before me, what’s part of me, what I really am.

A slice of this miracle of life presents itself to me. I come to my senses. I savour in the deliciousness of it all. I’m nourished. Whole.

No fear any more. Really. Although there’s still fear, insecurity, discomfort, dangling into the chasm of the unknown.

A lifetime of clinging and scrambling. Dictatorially and unintelligently controlling. Resisting, closing, lashing out against the emotions and the people who triggered me.

Now, I make a different choice. I lean in. Allow. Listen. And with that, comes relief. Learning. Growth. Strength.

I am a warrior in my courage to feel, to be, to connect with others, even though I could be wounded at any moment.

I shrug off my armour and lay down my shield. I no longer point my sword threateningly at the sky. I bare my heart to the heavens.

I have never seen a warrior so vulnerable. Yet she closes her eyes just to feel the sunlight on her skin.

Nature congratulates her with pink and white blossoms, yellows and purples and oranges. Trees reveal themselves to her. Birdsong replaces her soundtrack of doubt. The universe is full.

Her body now free to embrace those she loves. And that has to be everyone. Everything. Herself. Myself. My movie and my constantly altering reviews and reactions.

I drop judgment. I wince at the pain of unhooking attachments.

With loss, there’s lightness. An opening, a flow. A current of love. A deep-seated peace.

I go within and feel calm. I open so that I can live.

I feel a tingling of love wash over me. I understand. I know. I connect.

As soon as I see clearly, my goggles fog over again. For it goes beyond my limited ways of words, analysis and explanation.

It just is. As I am. And I will remember again and again.

meditation sun

Sometimes

Do you ever feel so bad about yourself that you can’t fathom that great things could happen? You don’t believe in yourself. You forget all the good that you do.

Sometimes.

You close yourself off to all the love that surrounds you. You compare yourself unfavourably to others and see everyone else as confident, successful, flourishing…

You focus on the negatives. You spot rejection, failure and disappointment in every comment, action and imagination.

Sometimes.

You push loved ones away then hate yourself more for doing so. For self-destructively banishing what you crave: love, care and affection.

They try to love you. They offer you acceptance. But deep down, you’re never going to measure up or be worthy of their naive loving of you.

You shut down the love. You silence the laughter. You dare not believe in your potential. It frightens you.

You sob. You cry. You let go. You open up. You let him in.

Sometimes.

A smile breaks through. You can’t help but laugh. He’s so good.

He sees the best in you. You want to be that person. And one day, as you sip on a coffee in the afterglow of his presence, you realise that you are.

You are that bouncing, brave, beautiful person that he admires. But you block yourself.

Sometimes.

You think thoughts and you believe them. You identify with the bad.

You stop dancing. You don’t feel the music. You forget who you are. You exist but you cease living.

Sometimes.

While the real you simmers patiently beneath. Always there. Waiting for you to shake off the shackles and rejoin the dance.

Ready to roar in perfection. And smile and love and shine. And be free.

He loves you because finally you remember that you love you. You just don’t believe it.

Sometimes.

Image: Author's Own

Image: Author’s Own

My Song

I welcome the first day of summer by attending a yoga and music workshop with musician and yoga teacher Jack Harrison.

We lie down and begin with some breathing exercises. Jack strums his guitar, recites poetry and sings.

Then he takes us through a powerful yoga sequence. No music plays now. All we can hear are Jack’s instructions and our breath.

My breathing deepens. I feel strong, present and peaceful.

Afterwards, we sit in a circle and sing. For the most part, I close my eyes and really get into it.

Occasionally, I open my eyes and appreciate what’s in front of me. The fantastic Jack Harrison playing guitar. And a group of people joyously opening their hearts together in song.

Next, Jack suggests that we sing any tune we feel like.

“Dissonance is beautiful,” he insists.

“Some of us were told as children that we weren’t good singers. I was kicked out of the school choir when I was a boy,” he laughs.

“But singing is easy,” he says with a smile.

Many of us spend our lives trying to fit in and appear normal. We’re told how to live and what’s expected of us.

But today for a change, we’re being encouraged to be different. We’ve been given licence to sing our own song in a way that’s right for us in this special moment.

We start quietly and self-consciously. But before long, we become louder and more confident.

I realise that it’s much easier to sing in unison. It’s actually harder to be different. But I’m determined to find my own song.

I go with the feeling. I put judgment aside. I allow myself to be me.

Somewhere between dissonance, unison and harmony, I hear my own voice. Tears prickle behind my eyes. Jack’s right, it is beautiful.

bird girl

favim.com

Take Me Over

I decide to open up to a fellow holistic therapist about how I’m feeling. I tell her that nothing necessarily bad is happening to cause this feeling but that I sense its heaviness.

I’m choosing to carry it around and I’m not letting it go. I admit that I’m afraid, which makes me want to close down and not care in order to protect myself.

My friend instructs me to close my eyes and really get into the feeling of being scared. She tells me to allow it to grow and expand and fill my body.

I feel an energy in my chest and my stomach. It feels like fear then anger and then I relax. I open my eyes and relay this to her.

She asks if there’s any bad feeling left. I tell her there is. Sadness and grief. So I’m told to repeat the process of feeling and allowing the sadness.

I see the little girl inside of me. I feel what she’s feeling. But there’s a resistance within me. I don’t particularly want to go there now. Been there, done that.

Despite my current resistance, this year I’ve been loving myself more. When I feel bad, I remember not to reject myself. Because of this major personal breakthrough, I know that I’ll be okay.

My friend tells me that I’m repeating an old pattern. There really is nothing to be afraid of. I need to face my fear so that I can see that it’s just an illusion.

I already feel much better. This makes so much sense. I usually resist these bad feelings, fearing that they will control my life and affect how I behave, react and relate to others.

My friend reminds me that this is where my resistance lies. I don’t want these feelings. I’m trying to avoid certain behaviours. And I’m fearing the worst possible outcome.

“Stop resisting,” my friend insists.

“Allow the feeling to take you over. That will create a shift. A letting go. Which will open you up in wonderful ways.

Open your heart. Allow yourself to be hurt. And the funny thing is, you won’t be hurt. Because the real you can never be destroyed.”

She predicts that letting go of resistance and allowing the feelings to take me over will change everything. I won’t have to worry about what might happen, how I may react or the many ways I could self-destruct.

She also warns that just because I’ve now stopped pushing against the swing of resistance doesn’t mean that it will immediately cease moving.

“Once you stop pushing the swing, it will continue to move back and forth for a while. But it will be less forceful and it will gradually swing less and less,” she smiles.

I leave my friend’s house with an unfamiliar feeling in my chest. Is it pain? Discomfort?

I allow the feeling to grow and expand until I realise what it is. My heart is open. And that’s okay.

withanopenheart.org

withanopenheart.org