Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.
— Kahlil Gibran
Thanksgiving is almost here. And though you might be looking forward to visiting family and eating a sumptuous dinner, holiday events can be stressful. Anxiety can trigger hormones that flood your body with powerful, sometimes harmful, hormones, keeping your brain on high alert and ramping up your heartbeat.
Well, that doesn’t sound like something to feel grateful about, does it? Let’s begin again…
There is another emotional route you can choose this Thanksgiving, something I call intentional gratitude. Recent neuro-science reveals that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude. Like happiness, gratitude doesn’t occur by itself, we must consciously choose it. And Thanksgiving is the perfect time to make that choice. As we mindfully focus our attention and intention on all that we have to be grateful for, we increase our well-being. Further, feeling grateful and expressing it to others increases our energy, positivism and empathy. In addition to experiencing more positive energy, studies show that those around you benefit just as much. That “pleasurable-glow” you feel throughout your body radiates an electromagnetic field touching everyone you encounter. The heart emits an electromagnetic field that extends several feet from our bodies and is approximately 60 times stronger than the energy emitted by the brain!
Could gratitude be the most important factor in relationships? Perhaps. The University of California-Berkeley published research that nails the power of gratitude in romantic relationships. Check this out: People who feel appreciated by their romantic partners are more likely to reciprocate appreciation and are more responsive to their partners’ feelings, needs and desires. And the real kicker is that those partnerships oozing with gratitude are more committed and more likely to sustain long-term intimate relationships.
Set your intention to experience the countless benefits of gratitude by trying these easy and quick practices:
1. Imagine the face of someone you love deeply, a partner, child, parent or beloved pet.
2. Think back to the last time you felt truly appreciated and savor the experience.
3. Notice everything—big and small—that you feel grateful for, don’t skimp. This is the art of cultivating radical gratitude which can lead to on-going happiness.
4. Tell someone “thank you” or “I appreciate you being in my life,” today, tomorrow, the next day and so on—keep going!
These practices sound almost too easy to be effective, but in reality, they have the power to open our hearts and the hearts of everyone we encounter. Gratitude is rewarding. Gratitude feels good. Gratitude boosts our mood whether we are the giver or the receiver. Place your intention on all that you feel grateful for, then watch how gratitude activates the pleasure-pathway in the brain and floods your body with all kinds of amazing, positive feelings.
Thank-you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading this blog and spreading good vibes. Happy Thanksgiving!
“Feminine Power” is a term we’re hearing a lot about these days in the consciousness and evolutionary realms, but what does it truly mean?
My experience on the path of differentiation, growth and individuation has revealed a depth of awareness around this topic that I’d like to share with you.
First, it is important that whether you are majoring in being a male or female this lifetime, everyone possesses a feminine aspect. This part of us allows us to deeply listen to others, tap into our intuitive capacity and simply “be” in the present moment.
Second, in order to embody the fullness of our lives, to live life from a developed and authentic feminine consciousness, we need:
1. Innate Confidence: A deep knowing that you are living from the center of your deepest purpose and are the person you were born to be. This manifests as authentic confidence and capacity to show up fully which leads to the pathway of individuation (self-actualization). It also triggers the ability to create whatever you truly desire while knowing that synchronicities, resources and support will arrive when you need it.
2. Authentic Relationships: You feel fully supported to be yourself and to be seen and heard in ways that you feel secure. This emerges as an unshakable bonds that allows you to thrive in every area of your life.
3. Recognizing Your Gifts: You are able to share the gifts and talents that you have developed with the world in a way that they are recognized, received and are regenerative.
4. Creating Money: You are able to produce the money necessary to support a lifestyle that aligns with your values. You have created, or, are in the process of creating, the appropriate external structures which allow you to be congruent with your gifts and values. Too often, we are dedicated to the path of growth yet “split” between sharing our gifts in one way, and then earning money in an entirely different manner. Genuine authenticity and individuation means lining up your inner wisdom with reciprocal external structures that support your gifts and talents.
5. Health and Energy: Although you may be dealing with a health challenge, it doesn’t prevent you from sharing your gifts and fulfilling your soul’s destiny. You are taking care of yourself and have exactly the energy you need to create, share and reap the rewards of your effort.
6. Connection to Spirit-Soul-Soma: You are embodying what I call the ultimate “triune”: spirit, soul and soma (body). For centuries we have been programmed to disconnect our mind from our body and soul. On the spiritual path, particularly the metaphysical path which means “above the physical”, I have witnessed this tendency over and over again. It leads to an over emphasis on the ascension upwards, toward spirit where we feel “light”. Yet, we can become blinded by the light and not see the value in moving inward and downward, toward soul. Soul thrives on the mucky-ness that accompanies growth and transformation, and finds solace in the dark places that we tend to want to avoid. Soul also needs connection with soma where feelings from past experiences, dream images and deep desire and love reside. To heal, evolve and experience individuation we must embrace the entire triune.
7. Play!: You know when you need to have fun and you create the space to do so. Carl Jung discovered that when a project or life experience began to feel a little “too much,” it was time to play. For him that entailed playing with building blocks or creating some art which allowed an “imaginal space” to open in his psyche. As the space opened, he found ideas and creative juices emerging from Self and noticed that the ego stepped aside from its relentless attachment to outcome.
8. Your Legacy: You are contributing to something larger than yourself. Sharing your gifts and talents is effecting others in a meaningful way and has the capacity to lead transformation, both yours and theirs.
May you experience the authentic, empowered and numinous existence that is your birthright.
We humans are hard-wired for relationships. Yet, very often, we find ourselves struggling to maintain long-term partnerships that feel loving, supportive and healthy. Numerous factors play into the partners we are attracted to and the dynamics that ensue. But recent neuro-science shows us that more is going on and can be seen in various centers of the brain.
Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., specializes in understanding the neuro-science of relationships. When asked if her brain scanning projects on people reveal anything about long-term happiness in relationships, Fisher replied with a resounding “Yes!” She explains that neuro-scans reveal specific patterns of brain activity among those who are in loving, long-term relationships and here are the top three winning attributes:
1. Overlooking the Negative and Accentuating the Positive. First and foremost, activity in the frontal cortex empowers a person to look for the good in his/her partner instead of focusing on what he/she dislikes or finds irritating. The psychological term for this is “positive illusions” and with lots of practice, it truly works.
2. Expressing Empathy. Brain activity occurs in the mirror neurons and aligns with empathy, the ability to relate, understand and share the feelings of others. Your facial expressions have the ability to trigger a strong emotional response in your partner. Mirroring openness and understanding are part of the empathic process and is a critical factor in connecting authentically and lovingly.
3. Controlling Your Own Emotions. The amygdala is shaped like an almond and is where we feel emotions like fear, anger, love and sexual desire. It is the area of the brain associated with the ability to regulate your emotions and is essential in maintaining well-being and harmony in relationships.
If you are interested in receiving some support in improving and/or healing your relationships, I provide guidance to individuals and couples. My approach embodies Depth Psychology (the unconscious, archetypes and dreams), spirituality, somatics (the body) and neuro-science. My areas of expertise includes:
Significant Life Changes
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety
Relationship and Family Issues
Women’s Spirituality and Empowerment
Spiritual Direction (for more information on this form of guidance, please CLICK HERE).
Dream Based Counseling (for more information on this type of counseling, please CLICK HERE).
Or visit: www.lauragrace.net, email@example.com
It’s September 3, 2015 and the night is coming to an end on my 21st wedding anniversary. It has been, at times, an interesting, befuddling, mystifying and deeply rewarding journey. Honestly, for a long time, I seriously doubted my ability (or, perhaps, willingness?) to remain committed to anyone for this length of time. But twenty-six years ago, while joining a Public Accounting and Consulting Firm in the Midwest, I met a man who expressed more respect and kindness toward women than anyone I had ever known. Instantly, we began to forge a friendship; not just any friendship, but one that morphed from a working partnership, in to a supportive friendship, then in to a romantic attraction, and then finally, in to a long term marriage that has endured both myriad pleasures and pitfalls.
Committed to our individual growth and that of the relationship, we patiently cultivated a connection based on unconditional support, radical honesty and real love. Friends and clients who have taken our relationship workshops are tempted to believe that we have been “lucky” to have found each other, or, “fortunate” to be so compatible. Rubbish! We are as different as the legends of Luna and her soft shimmering glow and Sol and his bright beaming radiance. Thomas is introverted, easy going, and prefers just the two of us hanging out and relaxing. I, on the other hand, am active, intense and enjoy being social and spending solitude time in Nature. We don’t believe in luck or the fact that both our suns reside in Capricorn. When it comes to healthy intimate relationships we know that genuine friendship is the foundation for a loving, evolving, lasting connection. Period.
If you are already in a relationship, or, seeking a relationship, notice the desires, needs and intentions that lurk below the surface. If the driving force for wanting a connection is any of the following BEWARE:
• The desire to be fulfilled or to control another person though sex.
• The longing to be with a person based on their physical beauty, strengths or accomplishments.
• The yearning for financial security and/or, to be taken care of.
• The need to be needed or to rescue someone.
• The hunger for prestige, power, or control.
• The wish to distract, avoid or divert from unwanted feelings and emotions, including emptiness.
Why are these needs/desires/longings antithetical to a healthy, committed relationship? Because inevitably, “stuff” is going to surface. When the boredom kicks in, when the stress surfaces (think money, sex, kids, etc.), when the illness arises, when the pain from aging emerges, when the shit hits the fan—IT IS THE FRIENDSHIP THAT WILL CARRY YOU THROUGH.
Ask yourself: “Do I truly like this person that I am…dating, spending time with, married to?” Our advice to couples in our workshops, and, in the couple’s counseling I perform is: “Would you want to remain friends with this person if you broke up or divorced each other?”
My in-laws don’t know this, but they have been very inspirational to me in both the “friendship” and “marriage” departments. Having married in 1951 (yes, sixty-four years together!), my mother-in-law is eighty-six years young and my father-in-law turned eighty-eight in June. Their marriage wasn’t arranged nor did they feel familial pressure to wed. I sense there was a common attraction and much of it was based on respect and the genuine desire to be with each other. And, after being married longer than some people remain alive, they still seem to possess a genuine admiration for one another.
Here’s our tried and true recipe for a great relationship: friendship creates the foundation for safety; safety builds the bridge for honesty; honesty develops the framework for trust. And all of these components constructs the fortress of a committed, loving, open and authentic relationship that will withstand the storms that will inevitably slam up against it.
Wanting to find the perfect anniversary card for my husband, I read through verse after verse, each one attempting to express some pathetic form of love. My beloved husband composes better expression of love than any of these cards, I thought to myself as I set each one aside. Finally, my eyes landed on a non-anniversary card, one that was sitting solo in the section marked “Love.” I picked it up and saw a simple image of oceanic waves gently lapping a sun-kissed shoreline. Below it, carved in the sand were the words: Love Is Friendship On Fire. Perfect. I couldn’t have said it better. Happy 21st Anniversary My Beloved Husband, Life Partner, Soul Companion and Best Friend.
One is moved to conclude that the heart is the most poetic organ of the body and may exceed the moon and stars in use as a metaphor…You can know of heartache, heart yearnings, heart shapes, heart renderings and heart feelings. ~Mike Denney, M.D., Ph.D.
As I wrap up the second year of my doctoral program in Depth Psychology, I am finishing a term paper for my Conscious Death and Dying course that has stretched the shape of my heart. Some of the required readings for this course includes Mortality (Hitchens, 2012), The Alchemy of Illness (Duff, 1993), Intoxicated by My Illness (Broyard 1992), and Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen (2007). I had heard of the last title but had never read it until my professor stated: “If you only had to read one book, this is the one”.
That night, I opened the book, glanced through the pages then immediately set it down. It is a poignant love story about a woman and her beloved dog, “Beau”. Quindlen describes the immense affection she has for Beau and the lessons she learned just by observing him: how to accept things as they are, to measure herself not through the lens of the past or future but of the present. Her story continues as Beau ages and reaches the hands of death. Quindlen unflinchingly remains in the moment until his last days on earth, “Each morning I used to check to see if the old guy was actually breathing, and each day I tried to take his measure—was he hurting? Was he happy? Was the trade-off between being infirm and being alive worth it?”
Like Quindlen, I have a Beau but his name is “Guru.” And like Beau in the book, Guru is the same age, fifteen years old as of July 10, 2015. Due to severe arthritis in the elbow of his front left leg, Guru gets around by hopping on his three working legs. He sleeps more than he is awake, yet he still loves to go for a daily “joy ride” in the car, resting on my lap as we travel up and down the street. At one-hundred and five human years old, he can still smell the fresh salty, sea air and this daily ritual is the highpoint of his life, as well as mine.
Guru is a black Pomeranian, pure alpha and not sweet as Quindlen describes Beau. No one would
consider him to be a “good” dog; he can be affectionate one moment then without warning, snap and bite in the next moment. People think it is because of the pain he is in from being old. Sometimes I let them believe this is true but it isn’t; Guru has been a very difficult dog since he was four months old. After receiving his vaccinations, he began having seizures which we learned to control with Phenobarbital. And though his seizures calmed down, his behavior did not. Guru sought to keep everyone together, like a herding dog; every time my husband or I would leave the room, Guru would spin counter-clockwise, barking, “Get back here, don’t you dare leave, we’re all meant to stay together!” Obedience training didn’t seem to help, nor did all of the Dog Whisperer CD’s that we watched. A caring and concerned friend once pleaded, “Why don’t you just call the Dog Whisperer and invite him to work with Guru?” We never did contact Caesar and after fourteen years of Guru spinning counter-clockwise, his left elbow became so crippled with arthritis that he drags the leg next to his body while he hops around on the remaining three.
Guru is possessive, demanding and has an anxiety disorder. His behavior, at times, has strained my relationship with my husband. I have been over protective of this creature who appears in my night-time dreams, lives in the depths of my heart, and reveals all of his feelings and secrets when he looks at me with his dark brown eyes. I know this dog better than I know myself. Surely, we must have been together before. As strange as this may sound, in a desperate attempt to understand the dynamic between Guru, my husband and I, we once contacted a well-known “pet psychic” who confirmed this idea. She told us the most amazing story: in a past life Guru had been my partner and Thomas (my husband) had been his rival and the issue was never resolved. As hard as it was to believe and as reluctant as we were to admit it, Thomas and I both sensed there might be some truth to the psychic’s vision.
As my death and dying class unfolded, I kept avoiding reading Good Dog. Stay. It was too painful and hit too close to the heart. Guru’s fifteenth birthday was quickly approaching and I noticed that his eyes looked glassy and he was limping more than usual. Was it time to let him go? Was he in pain and if so, did the physical pain outweigh my desire to have him stay? My heart was aching and reluctantly, I re-opened Good Dog. Stay. I read ten pages, not the first ten, but the final ten. Quindlen’s courage and ability to embrace Beau’s death was inspiring. While reading it, Guru laid next to me on my bed. I remember crying as I turned the final page and asking Guru if he wanted to move on. I told him that he was a good dog despite the challenges over the years and that I would let him go if he was ready to leave. He listened then licked my left hand reassuringly. He was definitely trying to communicate something.
That evening, my husband and I decided to take Guru to the vet and have his matted hair—once shiny and glorious—shaved off for the last time. We also decided to have his teeth cleaned and his nails trimmed—all of the grooming that I used to love do for him but now required anesthesia because he would bite. We knew we were taking a risk, that he might not make it through the process. Yet we believed we were giving him one last chance to feel a bit better. Two days later, Thomas drove the car to the vet’s office while I cradled Guru in my arms, swaddled in his favorite red blanket. After we dropped Guru off, I sent him light from my heart and envisioned him feeling strong. My prayers of love and gratitude traveled to him as I hiked along the beach then worked some more on my Conscious Death and Dying term paper. At 3:00 p.m. the vet called to report that Guru was doing well and was ready to go home. Despite feeling groggy from the anesthesia, Guru’s enthusiasm and aliveness was evident and we knew we had made the right decision.
That was three weeks ago. And now, as we reach the end of July, Guru is still doing well but I know we are nearing the end. Each morning when I awake and check in with Guru, I am reminded that one more day of living for me is an entire week of living for him and his aging body. This helps me maintain perspective about the fragility of life and the incredibly short duration of a dog’s life. It also emphasizes how important it is that I remain present with Guru and be fully alive, now, more than ever.
In the meantime, I am profoundly aware of Guru’s impending ending inching ever so closely. It is no longer “years away”; it could be next month, tomorrow morning or even tonight as I lie sleeping. Good Dog. Stay. reminds me that my growth lies in my ability to embrace Guru’s deterioration while remaining most alive during this ending. Sartre was right: You have to live each moment as if you’re prepared to die.
I take comfort from knowing that I have been able to love this dog in ways I never knew possible. The love I feel for Guru has been the closest thing to unconditional love that I might ever know: he can growl and bear his teeth at me, and yet, I still love him; he can bite me, and though I scold him, I still feel love in my heart for him. I feel his fear when he struggles to sit up, I feel his excitement when we go for a joy ride, and I feel his love when his pale tongue weakly licks my hand.
As I finish crafting this blog, Guru is lying on the floor next to me in his old lumpy bed with his favorite tattered red blanket. I feel deep gratitude for being able to process some deep emotions while writing. I
held off from writing this blog because I was resisting the feelings that illness and conscious dying might elicit. I look over at Guru as I craft this final paragraph and he opens his eyes. He can still see me so I inquire: “Are you comfortable? Are you happy? Do you want to keep on going?” not expecting a response, and yet, his eyes widen. I am reassured by Quindlen’s last words in the final chapter of Good Dog. Stay.: “And when the time comes to ask myself some of those same questions, at least I will have had the experience calibrating the answer. Sometimes an old dog teaches you new tricks”.
I would love for Guru to stay and stay and stay…but I am acutely aware of his mortality, as well as my own. So I am grateful for all that Guru has taught me: patience, tolerance, perseverance, real love, remaining conscious and connected as a loved one ages, fades then dies. And though Guru, nor I, will live forever, I am reminded that the name “Guru” can be broken down into: “Gee, You Are You”, perhaps the greatest teaching we can learn from a dog who challenges us, a true guru.
Sleeping Beautiful was my mother’s favorite fairy tale. She bought me the book when I was seven years old and inscribed it to me. A hard covered book laced with dreamlike hues of blues, greens and shimmering gold on the front cover. Inside the book was beautifully illustrated with images of Sleeping Beauty, the prince and Sleeping Beauty’s court. It was the only book I remember my mother inscribing to me and she wrote: “I hope you enjoy this fairytale as much as I always have. Love, Mother.” Well, I did love that story. It was romantic, passionate and taught that all women need to awaken is a sweet and simple kiss from a man who possesses the power to save us.
What was there not to love?
Unfortunately, many women have taken Sleeping Beauty literally. I know my mother did, and, so did my older sister. My mother desperately hoped that my father would be her shining prince, awaken her heart and fulfill her every need. And as much as I loved my father, he was the family patriarch; religious, fundamental, ill-tempered. Over the years, I watched as my mother’s own “sleeping beauty” fell into a deeper and deeper sleep as she medicated herself with prescription medications and alcohol. She died at age 57 and my sister died at age 54, both suffering deeply from abusive men, broken hearts and shattered dreams.
The amazing Jungian analyst, Anne Baring, excels in transformational work of the soul which entails the 4,000+ year old practice of “alchemy.” Many of us know the process of turning base metal into gold, but Baring’s teachings encompass the psychology of alchemy and the alchemical transformation we must go through in order to reach our opus and be fully awake, whole beings. In her seminar titled, “What is Soul?” Baring dives deep into the alchemical waters of the ancient fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. She reveals how Sleeping Beauty is the ultimate story for this point in history because it reflects the vital call for balance between our masculine and feminine aspects. Baring writes, “I see this magical story [Sleeping Beauty] as a metaphor for our time and the urgent need for a marriage between our head and our heart, a marriage between our solar thinking and our lunar feeling…From another perspective, I also see it as a metaphor of the reconciliation of spirit and nature or the reunion of the masculine and feminine aspects of spirit which have been progressively sundered during the last four thousand years.”
In Sleeping Beauty, the prince represents the solar principle of consciousness, searching for meaning, wanting to understand the universe but ultimately, seeking reconnection with his feminine aspect—the soul. Sleeping Beauty symbolizes the lunar principle of soul, the feeling values, Eros. Therefore, this bewitching story has nothing to do with being rescued and everything to do with the alchemical marriage of the masculine (sun) and the feminine (moon). Thus, when the prince (solar/rational mind) connects with Sleeping Beauty (lunar/heart energy), not only does she awaken, but her entire sleeping court awakens. For the past 50 years, we have been witnessing an awakening and deepening of connection to our soul and attaining balance between our head and heart. More and more women I encounter who are on the path of growth have shared the increased amount of animus dreams. Our animus shows up during dream time in male form, sometimes a familiar man and other times a stranger. These dreams present us with an immense opportunity to explore our beliefs and attitudes about our relationship with men and our relationship with ourselves. Dream work is a significant part of alchemy. May we remember the transformational power they possess and take time to attend to them.
The Greater Coniunctio: A Higher Love
When one is journeying through the alchemical process, there are several stages of transformation we must experience. The stages are: calcinatio, solutio, coagulatio, sublimatio, mortificatio and separatio. They lead to coniunctio which resides at the heart of alchemy. Coniunctio is the joining of the alchemical King and Queen, Sol and Luna. The process of transformation begins when these opposites meet, but they are not conjoined until the process is completed. We travel in and out of these stages throughout our life, depending on what is happening in our relationships, career, health and all of the life changes we encounter.
Viewing the tale of Sleeping Beauty from a higher and alchemical position reveals something antithetical to what we were taught as children. No one is meant to save us, particularly not a special soulmate who kisses our forehead and brings us out of our sleep. The deeper meaning of this story is the recognition and conjoining of our feminine and masculine aspects. Alchemy uses a series of unique images that illustrate this process. The King and Queen start out fully clothed (separate and concealed) then immerse themselves in an alchemical bath where the transformation begins. The lovers, who were once opposites are now connected into inseparable wholeness. Alchemical love has attained its exultant zenith. The opposite energies of the prince/Sleeping Beauty, the King/Queen, and the Solar/Lunar, become transmuted through the alchemical process which is can only be done solo and can be very painful. It’s an “undoing” of all that we have learned and at times, we may feel as though we are being turned inside out. Sometimes we pass through the alchemical stages at varying times, and, sometimes we move through two or more simultaneously.
Yet the pinnacle remains the same, to fully realize genuine love and union. Edward Edinger, who wrote Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy states, “That which goes by the name of love is fundamental to the phenomenology of the coniunctio. Love is both cause and effect…objective love, a love purged of personal desirousness, not one side of a pair of opposites, but rather beyond the opposites”. Sleeping Beauty is a mythical story of a higher love. It encompasses self-less love and the feeling of oneness that we each desire on the deepest level. It cannot be attained by wanting to be rescued, saved, or kissed, but only as we awaken to the strength, courage, and love that resides deep within.
I believe if my mother were still alive and read this very different interpretation of Sleeping Beauty, she would not be disappointed, she would be relieved.
Title: Central Coast Annual Women’s Symposium
Location: San Luis Adult School
Link out: Click here
Description: Central Coast Annual Women’s Symposium 2015 with Dr. Riane Eisler!
“What Is Good for Women Is Good for the World“
We are thrilled to announce that internationally known human rights activist, best-selling author, social scientist, women’s advocate and macro-historian, RIANE EISLER, will be our next keynote speaker at the Women’s Symposium on March 14, 2015, 9 am to 4 pm! Having Riane join us is an enormous accomplishment. Her decades of humanitarian work has made, and continues to make, an immense difference in the world.
SIGNIFICANT SUCCESS from CREATING YOUR INVISIBLE INNER COUNCIL
Interested in evolving your relationships, elevating your career, improving your physical well-being, generating more abundance…or, all of the above? Although I’ve never been a believer in short-cuts, there is a method that works amazingly well and is quite simple: Create an Invisible Inner Council. WHAAAT?
Let me give you an example.
There was a time when my beloved husband was experiencing some professional frustration. It was something that reared its head every so often, a cycle that seemed to ensue without warning. He is self-employed and there were period of times when business would flow in, then without warning, dry up, nada, nothing. This happened so often that we began to explore every possible issue; self-sabotaging patterns, not feeling deserving of abundance, the economy, fear of success, fear of failure and so forth.
Finally, after years of a masculine approach to business—trying to make things happen—he decided to try an entirely different approach. At the time, I was involved in a feminine power program that was radically different from the old patriarchal approach to work life. Feminine power isn’t about a “Get Going!” rah-rah programming (which drowns out our intuition), but emanates from tuning into our inner self and trusting our intuition, ideas and inspirational images to lead us. So my husband began listening deeply to his inner self and being receptive to what he heard.
This is where his Invisible Inner Council comes into play. Every morning, he started his day by meditating on these three areas:
1. INTENTION = WHAT HE MOST DESIRED TO CHANGE AND CREATE
2. COMMITMENT = TO GOING ALL THE WAY
3. DEEPEST YEARNING = THE SEEDS OF POTENTIAL THAT WERE FELT IN HIS BODY
This third area is especially significant. Our yearning is the life force energy that calls forth what we most desire. Yet, how many times do we ignore or push away our yearnings because we’ve been disappointed in the past and are afraid they will never happen? Our deepest desires are saying “Pay attention to me, notice what I’m trying to tell you!”
And the key to connecting with your yearning is to know that they don’t reside in the head, but in the body. Somatically, you can feel yearning in your body and as you connect with it, you call it forth into your life.
The body has its own way of knowing, a knowing that has little to do with logic, and much to do with truth, little to do with control, and much to do with acceptance,
little to do with division and analysis and much to do with union. –Marilyn Sewell
After meditating on his intention, level of commitment and desires, my husband invited four souls to be on his council. They were: Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln. At each gathering, he would share his intention, commitment and desires then ask each council member to share some feedback. He wrote down what he heard and implemented it that day. When he was done, he expressed gratitude for their ideas, inspiration and support.
The results were—and still are—mind blowing.
Everything in his inner world began to organize around his outer world. Opportunities began arising and they kept rolling in. In fact, after his first life-changing abundant six week period, my husband met with his council.
Then finally, Gandhi spoke, “This is good, very good. But we need to take a few moments to appreciate all of this. This success is the result of hard work, inspiration and enthusiasm, yet there were also invisible forces supporting all of us along the way.”
When my husband first shared this flow of feedback, he had tears of profound gratitude in his eyes. “They feel as real to me in my meditations as you are in front of me right now,” he expressed.
The next time you are ready to create something from your highest intention, strongest commitment and deepest desire, summon your own Invisible Inner Council. Invite a few souls that are you would love to have as your greatest mentors. It doesn’t matter if they are alive or deceased. These invisible forces will be magnetized by your own positive and loving thoughts. Share your ideas, ask them for theirs, implement them as often as possible, then watch your inner and outer worlds organize and align successfully with each other.
And just as importantly, before moving ahead to the next task and goal, take some time to appreciate all of the significant success that you’ve created with your Invisible Inner Council.
In Part One of “Be the Heroine of Your Own Journey,” we discussed what the American journalist and playwright, Nora Ephron, meant when she declared: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” We explored how the hero strikes out on a solo mission to conquer his demons, while the heroine recognizes that stepping into her feminine power entails aligning with a collective field of support. She is not meant to trek solo as empowered support is vital when she travels.
In this article, we are going to examine the power of partnerships—not just any partnership—but an evolving partnership.
In her groundbreaking book Sacred Pleasure, *Riane Eisler—an internationally known human rights activist, best-selling author, social scientist, women’s advocate and macro-historian—shares a historical perspective on what men and women have gone through for centuries as a result of religious dogma and scientific jargon. She reveals how brutal patriarchal beliefs have been to the psyche and soul of both women and men. Eisler takes the reader through the “pain to pleasure shift” which is a blueprint for the future of authentic, loving, spiritual partnerships.
I refer to these more enlightened connections as “Evolving Partnerships.” It’s one of the core principles of the **Relationship Wisdom™ workshops my husband and I teach. Women are inherently relational beings. We want connections that are fulfilling; emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually. Having a social network is vital to many of us and we thrive in relationships where we feel validated and supported. Of course, there are men who flourish from these types of connections as well.
However women identify with their relationships in different ways than men. For example, women are more apt to conform in social circles in order to avoid losing the connection, or, women may feel compelled to agree and validate someone’s feelings without challenging the underlying perceptions. While our intention is good, this type of conformity weakens and disempowers us.
How many times have you validated a close friend’s reactions without challenging her assumptions? How often have you made yourself “shrink” in order to fit in with others? How frequently do you avoid the difficult conversations? How many times have you, or someone you know, used humor to divert the attention away from something that may feel awkward or uncomfortable yet needs to be addressed?
Too often, we dim down our light to keep the peace. Instead of inviting someone we care about to rise to our level of awareness, we drop down to their playing field. This is because women identify so strongly with our relationships.
The old paradigm for relationships is based on the belief that: “You take care of me, watch my back and agree with me and I will hang in there with you, no matter what.” We often see this behavior exhibited in our family systems. This is outdated tribal thinking based on loyalty to the tribe versus empowerment and authenticity.
Things are changing.
Strong women need strong partnerships; partnerships that are real, where both people have the courage to speak their truth with kindness and respect, where the commitment is not to comfort, but to holding each other accountable.
If a close friend or partner has the inner strength to be honest with you, to challenge some of your assumptions, thank her! It demonstrates she cares enough about you and the integrity of the relationship to speak her truth.
In my own life, when I’m willing to have a difficult conversation with someone, I know it’s because I really care about the evolution of our connection. There have been times that the truth was more than she or he wanted to hear. And those connections drop out. But I’d rather be honest than conforming which inevitably leads to resentment. There’s nothing authentic about validating everything someone feels. That’s called the “Destructive Cheerleader” syndrome; we say “Rah, rah!” to what someone believes just so we don’t lose that person’s support.
Below is a model of the old relationship structure versus evolutionary partnerships.
OLD RELATIONSHIP PARADIGM
- Motivation is to feel safe, secure and comfortable
- Dependent and/or Co-Dependent
- Conforms to protect the security of the relationship
- Bond is based on colluding and a sense of victimhood
- Agreeing with the other person shows loyalty
- Support negative or limiting behavior
- Avoid conflict and difficult conversations
- Validates emotions without questioning assumptions
- Masculine approaches to decision making is valued more highly than those considered “feminine” (i.e., intuitive, perceptive, nurturing)
- Motivation is growth
- Interdependence and equality is key
- Authenticity and being true to one’s deeper self is essential and the relationship adjusts accordingly out of mutual respect
- Bond is based on true empowerment
- Able to see and discuss things from multiple viewpoints supports growth
- Hold each other accountable for creating a future based on integrity and evolution
- Commitment to honesty and openness based on the intention to deepen the connection
- Looks at possible meaning and challenges perceptions
- A feminine approach to decision making is valued equally both personally and professionally
Steps for activating evolving partnerships:
1. Notice the looking glass through which you relate to others.
2. Practice connecting with others without an agenda.
3. Commit to cultivating relationships based on a mutual commitment to growth and that have a shared “agreement” to this commitment. (Note: The people in your life who are not interested in growth are not candidates for this kind of agreement. There are people for whom we shift our expectations accordingly and learn to accept and love them the way they are.)
What kind of advice might a true heroine give to you about fulfilling your destiny? She would invite you to share your highest vision for your life with those who will join you in an evolving partnership. She would ask you to let them know what you are committed to and invite them to share their potentials and future they wish to create. Finally, she would encourage you to give them permission to hold you accountable as you become the heroine of your own journey.
Enjoy the journey!
*Riane Eisler will be our keynote speaker at the Central Coast Annual Women’s Symposium in San Luis Obispo, CA, on March 14, 2015. www.spiritualcircle.org/symposium
**Relationship Wisdom™ is offering a workshop on The Five Pillars of Successful Relationships on October 18th & 25th in Arroyo Grande, CA. www.spiritualcircle.org/events
Currently, I am involved in a feminine empowerment program. It is a program I chose for the continuation of my spiritual, soulful and emotional evolution. Although the course is founded in wise feminine leadership principles, the curriculum is challenging me to seriously ponder the true meaning of what American journalist and playwright, Nora Ephron, once declared: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
It’s clear what it means to take 100% responsibility for our lives, but what exactly does it mean to be the heroine of our own lives?
Most of us are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s teaching of the “hero’s journey.” Like the main character in the film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” the hero ventures forth from the world of common life into a region of supernatural wonder. There he encounters fabulous forces and a decisive victory is won. The hero returns from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Although I have always been fascinated by the hero’s journey, I often felt something was missing. That “something” was revealed to me in 2012 when I invited Dr. Jean Houston to be the keynote speaker at the Central Coast Annual Women’s Symposium. While giving an impassioned speech based on her book The Wizard of Us, she asserted, “By the way, the heroine’s journey is very different than the hero’s journey.” Now that caught my attention. For as much as we have sometimes tried to emulate men, we women are very different.
In fact, neurobiology reveals that women’s brains are hard-wired in a uniquely different manner. Dr. Daniel Amen, who’s written over 30 books including Unleash the Power of the Female Brain (2013), shows that women’s brains are very active; the amount of blood flowing into our frontal lobes hard-wire us for collaboration, appropriate worry, intuition, self-restraint and good judgment. And most importantly, we intuitively know when something is wrong and are willing to shift gears before the Titanic hits the iceberg and sinks.
This isn’t about whether a feminine approach to life is better than a masculine one; we need a balance of both energies in order to thrive. But the heroine’s journey does differ greatly from the hero’s journey. And one of the greatest variances is how we choose to travel.
Unlike the hero who strikes out on a solo passage to conquer his demons, women recognize that stepping into their feminine power requires aligning with a collective field of support. Many of us have been trying to do “life” on our own which can only take us so far. How many times have we felt alone in trying to share our gifts with the world, overwhelmed, or unsupported by life? In order to shatter our inner glass ceilings—the limiting beliefs and behaviors that sabotage our success—we need to activate a new culture of empowerment which necessitates a shift into a collective quantum field.
It’s a known fact that geese fly 75% farther and faster when they are flying together. Solo passages cannot carry us the distance. When we are soaring as a self-actualized woman, we must activate a field of unprecedented support. This is, perhaps, the most essential part of the heroine’s journey.
We begin to create a unified field when we affirm:
I AM ALLOWING LIFE TO SUPPORT ME ON MY JOURNEY. THIS INCLUDES ALL OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE OPEN TO RECEIVING THE GIFTS I DESIRE TO CONTRIBUTE.
I AM FULLY PRESENT IN HOLDING THE SPACE FOR OTHERS TO EVOLVE AND TRANSFORM.
I AM LETTING GO OF OLD STORIES OF REGRET, SETBACKS AND DISAPPOINTMENT AND CHANNELING MY ATTENTION, INTENTION AND ENERGIES ON WHAT IS AVAILABLE FOR ME TODAY.
I invite you to step into your own heroine’s journey by bonding with others inside your identity as a powerful and resourceful woman. May we join together in support of our highest potential for loving relationships, physical health, emotional well-being, financial abundance, creativity and friendship. May we birth the seeds of our potential forward as we journey together and answer the call to our souls’ deepest purpose.