The bulk of my work is geared towards helping people wake up to their lives. As a psychotherapist and group facilitator, I’ve noticed that people tend to come to therapy because a major wake up call or crisis has occurred. We then work on what this means to them and how to transition from such big changes. I also see people that are feeling depressed, anxious, lonely, or sitting with the sensation that something is off. This is where we dig in and take the time to figure things out. I’m ever curious and excited by learning about the needs and experiences of the individuals I work with. From working so intimately with people, I feel grateful to be teaching ways we can find more connection to our lives and others. I’ve come up with five pillars, or focal points, to practice waking up daily. These five pillars have come from years of witnessing people in therapy, facilitating groups, and leading classes. I feel so blessed to be able to share with you what I most deeply care about. It is important for us to understand what is present for us. These five pillars can help you in your understanding when times feel challenging, and offer you a path to waking up to your most fulfilling life.
Pillar 1: Body Sensations
As a starting place, having a keen sense of our physical life, a baseline, allows us to move with grace and confidence. Tuning into the body and listening to its signals bring us closer to our connection with consciousness. In Buddhist and Western psychology, the body is believed to be a conduit for life energy. Are you connecting to the innate wisdom of your body? Are you checking in and listening to the messages? What do you feel? Where do you feel it? Sit with what arises whether it is discomfort or calm, rate it, and try to understand what your body is communicating to you. Often, anxiety can present physically. Do you notice it in your chest? What might it be trying to teach you? I want to encourage you to nurture your body’s wisdom, not to block or numb it. Physical activity can help break up stagnation and a build up of energy. Burst exercise, tapping, walking in nature, and gentle stretching can support your body’s ability to communicate with you as well as to release anything that doesn’t serve you.
Pillar 2: Mind Kindness
Mind kindness works to teach us to separate the noise from the insights/inspiration/intuition we receive. My hope is to support you in breaking through internal chatter that is destructive and distracting so that you can align with true spirit from a place of peace. We can all be victims of our own mind. One practice, and it is a practice, is to take some time away from the bombardment of information–phones, computers, ipads, etc. that deliver a never ending wave of news, email, or messages. This constant flood is a barrier to true connectedness. The goal is not about shutting off or blocking your thoughts. I encourage you to notice, to say hello, and even thank your fertile mind. Then, you can engage with what comes next. It’s challenging to be fully present when our mind creates stories, lives in the past, or in the future. In moments of overwhelming thoughts, grab onto something tangible to shake up the thought pattern. Bring yourself back to the present and try grounding yourself with breath and movement.
Pillar 3: Emotional Equanimity
There is a paradox I often see around trying to find the balance of being alive with ideas and vitality as well as being at peace. When life feels too serious, or you are taking yourself too seriously, what thoughts can you bring in to make yourself laugh? What brings you joy? What memories make you giggle to yourself? Let’s loosen up with some laughter! When we learn to forgive ourselves, forgiveness of others becomes much easier. Let go of resentment, of the story, and forgive! With the practice of becoming awake, we must learn to be flexible and not stuck in rigidity. Life is in constant motion as are our emotions. How do you bring in movement and levity when life feel too serious?
Pillar 4: Self-Compassion
Humans can be impatient, cruel, and self-critical. How can we be kind to others if we are not practicing kindness towards ourselves? Find your tribe, offer yourself the compassion of connection. Sometimes honoring yourself and being compassionate is a practice of letting go of people that do not serve you any longer. Being kind to ourselves gives us the deep ability to be kind to all sentient beings–animals, children, nature, etc. Scheduling in self-care, alone time, and meditation can help solidify this practice of self-compassion. How do you practice self-kindness and love?
Pillar 5: Waking Up to the World
Let’s work to enrich and broaden life. Are you moving through the world awake or numb? How can you tell the difference? Get involved and give back! This can expand your awareness of the world, connect you to your heart and the needs of the world, and open you up to new possibilities and opportunities. Practice loving others and see how your mind and heart shift. For example, when my husband, Steve, would pass homeless people on the street he would bring them a meal. Have you ever given your time or energy to someone in need? What does it feel like to show interest and love by offering your attention? Don’t be afraid to feel! Give yourself the freedom to activate your senses in nature, feel her beauty, grace, and the immensity of her gifts. How does this influence the way you show up in the world? It is never too late to be who you are meant to be. We can take the fulfillment of our dreams into our own hands!
Stay tuned for my next blog on action steps towards waking up!