Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Soulful Conference as a Catalyst for the Soul

I’m on the way back from a conference where I had the honor and privilege to speak about a topic I love, be surrounded by the energy of healers, modern-day mystics and change makers, and perform ceremony. So to say my heart, head and spirit are full would be an understatement.

The Home for Your Soul conference, sponsored by the schools of Interior Alignment® and Soul Coaching®, focused on the many “homes” for our soul – from the physical structures we live in each day to our physical bodies.

There was so much great information so I wanted to share a few great insights that really resonated with me that I thought would be valuable to anyone unable to attend. Unfortunately, I can’t share everything as there isn’t enough space in the blog (but pay attention to future blogs for more 😊).

A new way to create balance
I’ve always thought that balancing my life between the corporate world (I work for a marketing company as a VP of Project Management) and the unconventional world of feng shui, space clearing and energy work, was about dividing my time equally between the two.
What if that isn’t the case though? What if instead it’s a much more dynamic existence? One in which I can focus on both as part of a whole of who I am and what I do? It’s not about dividing my focus between the two but bringing the two together, allowing me to pull from both when focusing on either.

For instance, as I focus on feng shui, allow my corporate mindset to help drive results; and while I focus on my corporate job, consider the energy in a situation and how I can either support the energy or help to adjust it to align better with the intention of the situation. Powerful stuff.  

A state of rediscovery
There are so many of us going through changes in our lives – some big, some small – and what I realized as part of one of the presentations is that often we find ourselves in a state of rediscovery: rediscovering what it is we want, what it is we are able to do and perhaps most profoundly, who we are.

It can be a daunting task, and we could all use some support through these changes. Feng Shui, Space Clearing and energy work as a whole are great tools by which to do this.

In Feng Shui, it’s important to assess our physical space – identifying what in it supports us with connections to great people, places and events in our lives (e.g., the picture of that great trip with friends you love) to remind us of what we want and don’t want in our lives (e.g., like that chair that once sat in your childhood home but reminds you of childhood punishments). In Space Clearing, we work to shift the actual energy – changing how it feels to you by removing stagnant energy and replacing it with lighter energy charged with your intentions to better support you through times of change.

Rediscovery does not have to be a solitary journey, and there are ways we can help one another through them.

Be a leader for my tribe
Stepping into our power, no matter our line of work, can be a challenge. We often pay more attention to our doubts, worthiness and obstacles than we do on the things we want to achieve, our successes along the way and our larger than life dreams.

This recipe of negative thinking distracts us daily, making it difficult to see the possibilities and opportunities right in front of us. Or worse, telling us not to even try because there’s no real way something like – insert new idea here – could turn into your dream.

The thing is, though, it’s not just us who are affected. There is a tribe of people out there who are of like mind, like spirit, who are struggling just like we are, to feel empowered to make positive powerful change in the world. And if we focus more on what you can’t do than what we can, we become just another anchor in the old ways and limit our ability to help create a new, more vibrant and powerful perspective.

What next?
I admit, I feel like I’ve heard similar messages before, and yet, here I still am – balancing worlds, trying to rediscover myself and not truly stepping up to be a strong leader for my tribe. I also recognize the repeating cycles in life, and it’s not worth beating myself up over my perceived “delay.” 

The next step is actually fairly simple: take action. Feel free to join me.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Using Nature as Your Guide

Our homes represent a reflection of who we are. We can look around us and see colors and style that we selected, family and friends among the pictures and gifts, tokens from adventures we’ve taken, and rooms that help us relax and rejuvenate.

When we feel out of balance, want a change in our life of some sort, we look at our homes as a place to shift the feel or energy in our lives, seeking some additional level of support for that change. This is at the core of what we do in Feng Shui, and when we do, we turn to nature as a guide, incorporating aspects of nature into our home through color, pattern, texture, energetic flow and the like.

Why do we do this?

Consider that when we walk through nature, multiple scientific studies have shown, our bodies and minds receive great benefit – reduced blood pressure, improved immune systems, greater clarity in our thoughts. We in essence reset ourselves to be in alignment with the natural rhythms all around us. It creates greater balance for us mentally and physically.

This should come as no surprise, as at the core of Nature is the need to create balance as represented by The Tao. Comprised of the divine masculine and the divine feminine, it shows how without light there is no dark, without action there is no stillness. So if the nature of our universe is to find balance, then it is within our nature to find balance as well. Hold that thought.

I define being in balance as being at one with our soul’s purpose. So the better we understand our true selves, our souls, the closer we are to being in balance and a state of contentment. And while in Feng Shui, we try to do this by bringing more of nature into our homes, what happens when we leave our home? Where do we find balance then?

All around us. Think again about the nature of the universe – to create balance. Then if we look around us, among the sights, sounds and feelings we experience in Nature, we can use the outdoors as our guide. Now consider how unique each of us are – some of us are morning people, some night owls, some of us are highly driven while others prefer to observe and analyze, some of us grew up in urban environments while others in the arid deserts of the world.

When faced with this level of variety, finding balance can be a very unique endeavor – as unique as each of us. So then how does Nature do this? Help each of us find balance? It is by helping us to get grounded enough to remember who we are. It is by reminding us every day of who we are based on what we are drawn to in Nature. It is by establishing signs that speak to each of us individually based on our own life experiences.

Of course, we play a role in all of this. It is to listen and take action accordingly. When Nature tells us to pay attention, we should. When Nature reminds us that there is more to life than being a cog in the wheels of corporate enterprise, we should focus on the difference we make or want to make in the lives of the people we see every day. When Nature points us toward our soul’s yearnings, we should follow it.  

Nature guides us every day, in sometimes subtle and not so subtle ways, all in an attempt to help us find ourselves. Are you paying attention?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bridging Divides Using Feng Shui

Light snow is falling outside. Trying to make its presence last across a sea of green-brown grass. It feels peaceful – the slow, meandering pace of the flakes filling the air, slowing my breath and body, and almost my mind.

It’s been a tough few months. I’ve been caught up in the anger and frustration many people are feeling at the recent U.S. election, and even more so the actions being taken since President Trump took office less than two weeks ago. I went to D.C. for the Women’s March with my wife and two girls, meeting up with our closest friends, in the hopes of feeling a sense of unity with others of like mind, like emotions. We made signs. We got up at the crack of dawn. We listened to great speeches and then we marched.
My family and I (lower left corner) at the Women's March in D.C.
In one sense, I’m still processing the experience, but I’m also trying to transform the energy I felt there into actionable efforts back home – getting more involved in the local political scene and planning on attending various protests and rallies.

For many in the New Age (or whatever we’re called these days) community, getting embroiled in the issues and putting a focus on the negativity being driven by the new administration, staying atop of the resulting fallout – both peaceful and violent, isn’t the approach to take. It’s depleting. It’s overwhelming. It’s an empath’s greatest challenge to stay functional in the day to day world. I get it, and yes, I’ve had a couple days when I couldn’t look at the news; but for me I need to feel like I’m able to stay on top of what’s happening. There appears to be too much at stake here for me to turn my focus away from it.

I also know though that if change is going to happen, I’m going to have to do some uncomfortable things – like try to understand people who are so far away from my belief system that I can’t see through the fog of all the labels we have for one another to allow me to even find their hands to shake.

When I have a tough challenge like this, I look for a solution, or at least the start of one, using what I’ve learned through feng shui. So as I considered this, an idea started to form around the time of year we’re in, and specifically the holiday: Chinese New Year. In China, they follow a lunar calendar, which results in their new year starting in late January or early February. This year, it started Saturday, Jan. 28, and will be celebrated until Feb. 15th.

In Beijing, a dragon dance and red lanterns offer a glimpse
of the start of the Chinese New Year celebration. 
Considered the Spring Festival, this traditional holiday is used to honor our families, starting off with the most important meal of the year: a reunion dinner. It’s a time to connect with one another and look forward to a prosperous year together.

Seeing the images from around the world, people celebrating not only in China, but London, Sydney, San Francisco, the list goes on, makes it crystal clear that the idea of family can and perhaps should be expanded to include a more global family. From that perspective, I told myself, what’s to keep me from expanding my definition of family to people outside my home, my community, my state, even my belief system?

So, if I were to honor this much larger definition of family, considering the Chinese New Year as a guide, how could I do it? There are many traditional ways to celebrate, including sharing red envelopes for best wishes, setting off firecrackers and eating lucky food. In my feng shui and space clearing practice, I like to honor others intentions through altars.

And that’s what I have done – as you can see here. My altar’s base is a ceremonial wooden bowl and includes Epson salt for grounding, a bridge to symbolize the bridging of a gap of beliefs between me and my larger family, a red envelope under the bridge that includes the words unity, respect and love and two red candle holders (red is very auspicious in feng shui) with candles to initiate the action (fire) needed here. 

An altar with the intention of creating greater unity between
people of different beliefs and perspectives.
It’s simple but altars don’t have to be complex to be effective.

So now I have a focal point for my intention to bring my larger family together. And I’ve found a way to incorporate feng shui and space clearing practices into supporting me as I work through this latest of challenges. I suspect the road ahead will include more frustration, anger and outrage, but I also know that to get past those events to one of greater unity, I need to try to understand the ideas and perspectives of my larger family, even if I don’t agree with them.

I know this altar can help me, and perhaps it, or one you make, will help you as well.

With gratitude.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Getting back to center

Starting fresh. Getting back on that horse. Brushing yourself off and standing back up. While it's not as daunting as starting over, it still has its fair share of fear associated with it. There's a sense of failure, and even if it's a small sense, it's still tied to the "f" word. A sense that you've veered off your path, if even for a short period of time.

We all go through those times in our lives when we lose our focus. Sometimes it's because of the various events in our lives, other times it's because we didn't quite know what our focus was in the first place. For me, I typically get caught up in what I like to call my Muggle world (thank you J.K. Rowling, for that and soooo much more). The one that includes long hours away from home and pays the bills.

So the issue for me isn't that I get caught up in this world. It's that I get so caught up in this world that I lose sight of what I want to be doing. There's the rub. It might sound familiar to you. If it does, then I've got some thoughts to share that may help you.

When I realize that I'm not where I want to be, which frankly takes more time than I would like to admit, I often turn to tools that help me to go inward. See we all have this inner voice that helps guide us, but I've found that my voice gets drowned out by stress, fear, anger, any negative emotion really.

There are many tools I use that hopefully may be helpful to you.

An easy one is music. I'll pop on my headphones at work so I can focus and listen to any music that really makes me feel good. Of late, this includes some Norah Jones, Christina Perri, Michael Buble and some of Adele's powerful songs. The goal here is just to make me feel good -- the opposite of how I feel when I'm stressed and worried and angry about work. Once I've got that good feeling, I'm more open to thinking about the path I want to set for myself, and I may even start listening to some meditation music with flutes, drums and the like (I love Dave and Steve Gordon's Native American music for this). This will actually help to change more than my mood but my physiology -- my breathing changes and my body relaxes. In this space, I'm much more open to that little voice inside. 

Oracle cards are varied enough that you can
find a deck that resonates with you
Another option is to use oracle cards. If you haven't used these before, or only think of these as fortune telling tools, they've come a long way since the days of a mysterious woman in a dark room with red velvet table clothes and have become valuable personal tools for many people. While I know several people who offer readings for people, and in fact I have done this as well, I think they are most valuable as personal development tools. Think of them as a way to help you listen to your own inner guidance -- like talking to your higher self. They can help you expand your own intuitive skills and give you valuable insight to a situation. The shear variety of cards that exist are pretty amazing. When I was much younger, I started with Tarot cards, moved on to angel and fairy cards by Doreen Virtue but then found cards that aligned more with my connection to nature, e.g., Animal Medicine cards by Jaimie Sams and David Carson. I've found a new deck recently that I love working with by Denise Linn -- Native Spirit Oracle Cards. Each deck will include directions for how to use them, so my advice here is to get centered, focus intently on your question and be open to the insight that comes. Your first reaction (to an image, a color, etc.) is typically the one meant for you, but each card has its own meaning in an accompanying guide book.

Peruvian Chumpi Stones
Here's a third approach you can take. There is always something new to learn on your path, where ever it may lead you. So find something that you've wanted to learn more about. If you're a teacher, is there a new method to connect with your students? If you're in retail, have you considered a new way to reach your customers? If you're a massage therapist, have you considered the importance of your space when you provide your massages and how you could enhance it? In my case, I received some new healing tools that I'm excited to try -- Chumpi Stones. These Peruvian stones are connected to sacred mountains and aligned with each of the seven primary chakras in our bodies. In conjunction with drumming, singing bowls and other tools, they are purported to provide great healing benefits. 

So there you have it, a few ways to help you get back onto your path, or perhaps stay there in the first place. I hope they inspire you to stay true to your path. 

And before I go, yes, I realize that getting lost in the stresses of work and life is actually all a part of my path -- a reminder that while I have an idea of what my path is "supposed" to be that in truth in order to get there, the stresses in fact push me closer to my goal. It's as if my path is actually much wider than I realized, and the goal is to stay in the center of my path for a clearer understanding of where my path leads. 

So that said, from now on, when I get so caught up in things I think are taking me off my path, I'll look at it as not stepping off the path but stepping off-center. Here's to staying true to our center.  

Until next time...

Monday, January 11, 2016

The real problem with clutter

Clutter brings up a lot of cringing. The word immediately raises images in the minds of many of overstuffed closets, crawlspaces desperate for our attention and stacks of papers that never seem to diminish despite our best efforts.

The problem with defining clutter in this way is that we don’t get to the real challenge associated with it, and so we overlook clutter that may be affecting us every day.

Everyone can see the big clutter items in their homes. In fact, they’re often so big that we can’t even address it without outside help or a weekend dedicated to trips to Goodwill. So we don’t, because it’s just something we all have and deal with in our lives.

There are a few problems with this.

Clutter begets clutter. Once we’ve identified a space in a room or an entire room as the place to put things we don’t know what to do with in the moment, it acts like a magnet for more clutter. Admit it, you’ve seen it happen in your own place – whether a basement, a closet, a desk or a junk drawer.

It weighs on us. Every time we look at clutter it reminds us that we need to clean it up but either don’t have the time or the will to take care of it in the moment. It’s like a daily dose of regret. Who needs that in their lives?

It’s diversionary. That’s right, when we see the big areas of clutter, we fool ourselves into thinking that clutter only applies to big messes. That just isn’t the case. Clutter can be the grouping of pictures on your piano that prevent you from seeing the good in each photo and only see a mass of photos. It can be the ceramic elephant in your home that you’re hanging onto not because you love it but because someone gave it to you and they might stop by so you want them to see you have it out.  Otherwise they might just JUDGE you. Gasp!
Clearing clutter is like a breath of fresh air for your home.

In feng shui, this means you’re filling your home not only with objects you don’t like but energy that just brings you down!

So, if that resonates with you, and I hope it does, take a look around you and see where you might have some clutter: a vase that held flowers from an ex, a second-hand chair you’ve had for far too long, a family portrait that reminds you of a time when the family wasn’t getting along so well. 

Start with just one thing. It’ll be a relief, and it may feel so good that you’ll find another thing, and another, and another. You may not get to the basement right away, but you'll feel lighter and happier and maybe, just maybe, it'll give you the boost you need to tackle that closet.