Throwback Thursday – Walking the labyrinth

This is an edited piece posted originally August of 2018. Now that I’ve arrived at a new position at the University, I realize that the assessment phase feels like a bit of a labyrinth. 

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After a morning appointment in St. Paul I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth?  I considered taking a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I used the walk as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and following the path toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry about the acorns that occasionally stabbed my feet. I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path to make it easier for the next person’s journey.

My intention was to reflect and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears I was holding. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional trip back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how little I knew about meditation last time I had walked it a decade ago. Yet repeating it gave me sacred feeling both times.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are rarely linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in spirals, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are ready to learn in a new way. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready to complete lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

The journey inward allows us to check our soul’s intentions. The journey back outward allows us to live our ultimate purpose. This is the essence of a life well-lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Saturday Share – World Meditation Day, Munch Style — thesecretblind

Some have suggested that Munch the Dogi has yoga and meditation down to a fine art. If you celebrated World Mediation Day on 21st May with some Zen and blissed out way of being by meditating, you will appreciate Munch’s take on his favourite past time. If you are new to meditation, Munch has kindly […]

via World Meditation Day, Munch Style — thesecretblind

Oh my goodness I love this so much. Many of you know I like to write about meditation and yoga. Here’s a fresh and original take on the theme. Hope you enjoy. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Resilience workshop

On Monday I had the honor of sharing some favorite meditation practices during a workshop on the Neuroscience of Resilience with an engaged group of job-seekers. When we are in times of transition or challenge, being able to engage our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body is key. We can bring a sense of equanimity and balance to decisions and actions we take.

resilient tree
Photo credit link

The group was excellent. They participated readily, brought their perspectives into the room and asked great questions. I really enjoyed pulling together the presentation and materials for this session. I had in mind the struggle of being between jobs and careers, and I know this can be a place of uncertainty and stress. It can also be a place of discovery and growth, should we choose to embrace that side of the process.

It takes self-compassion to remain resilient in the face of challenges or struggles. Those of us who have harsh inner critics can feel as though we need to “reprogram” ourselves in a way. Self-criticism can be so habitual that it feels automatic. But when we access that higher self, that inner mentor, and allow ourselves some kindness, paradoxically we find it easier to take actions and move forward.

This group is able to tap the resources of Career Partners International, so they are fortunate to have support during their transition. I hope I was able to add to their toolkit of resources to help them along the journey. What a great privilege it is to be able to share on a topic I have studied for so many years for my own benefit, and on behalf of the teams I have led.

I am humbled and grateful.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

TBT – Inviting yourself back

This is an edited post originally written in April 2018. It is even more relevant as I learn to embody these concepts through soma yoga, and coach using somatic awareness as a tool for accessing inner wisdom.

One of my favorite meditations from Insight Timer is by Anna Guest-Jelly called “May I Know What I Know.” It involves a body scan in which we are moved through body starting with the feet, and moving through each region. After the exercise, we consider if there are any places we could not feel, that may have been “offline” from our awareness, so to speak.

emotions body
Photo credit link

The more I practice this body awareness and deliberately tune into places in the body that may be mysterious, the more I tune into my emotions. Sometimes I realize why there are “frozen” parts – those emotions may be difficult ones, like grief or anger.

I am still learning to feel those emotions all the way through, and sit with them without trying to escape. It is an exercise in compassion and patience to realize I have habitually escaped those feelings, or pushed them under with distraction, food, or other buffers (like busy-ness or overwork) rather than to be still with them.

Now that I realize these feelings are an important emotional compass, I have begun to “invite myself back” more often. I tune into that channel – my gut, my shoulders, my back, sometimes my lower spine, when they are trying to tell me something. Rather than get lost in thought, and spinning mental energy, I aim to come back to the body, invite my whole self back.

This tendency to abandon the body and thus abandon ourselves is promoted by our culture. Feeling our emotions and tuning into our intuition often dismissed. But as I do it more, I acknowledge the many times when I have buried my own desires in favor of pleasing other people.

caring
Photo credit link

Women are well-conditioned to attend to others’ needs. We take care of partners, children, bosses, teammates, even parents sometimes. But we do not always attend to our own bodies, our own yearnings. I inadvertently learned (from family and culture) that I should ignore my own needs in favor of taking care of others. This abandonment does not serve us long-term though.

Even the airlines tell us to put on our own mask before helping others. Inviting ourselves back can feel like a radical act of rebellion for women. Patriarchy demands we attend to the comfort of our family members, remain small and and of service, never demanding anything for ourselves. And yes, I think it is patriarchy that promotes this idea of the “good daughter” and it is one we must dismantle.

When we invite ourselves back, we ground ourselves in our truth. We allow ourselves to live in greater harmony with nature, and with our bodies. We begin to understand the connected nature of all people, of all parts of the universe. We feel compassion for ourselves and for others in their struggles. We make different choices that are more sustainable for ourselves. We serve others with a spirit of generosity rather than resentment.

Inviting ourselves back means we set appropriate boundaries. We say no to things that do not align with our purpose or intention. That can be very hard for those of us who were trained to say “yes” to everything we are asked to do. We can be perceived as “uppity” or trouble-makers, or not those nice girls we used to be.

It is a daily practice, inviting ourselves back. It does not simply happen one day, and then all things change. It is a conscious choice, a habit that grows easier with regular practice. If we want to make sustainable change in the world, I believe it is non-negotiable. The world needs our whole and integrated selves. Our souls call for this as well.

Consider inviting yourself back today. Center on what your body is telling you. See what emerges as you learn to pay attention in this way.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Cultivating resilience

A potential client gave me a topic idea that I am exploring to create a workshop.  I realized I have 10+ books on my bookshelf about the neuroscience of resilience. Kind of crazy when you get to create presentations on topics that you’ve been studying for years just out of your own personal interest!

So in readying myself to organize the outline I wanted to share a few thoughts here as I work on that. I am hoping to partner with a yoga teacher I know in order to create some practices that people can implement on the spot as part of the workshop.

the chemistry of calm

As a person who has struggled with anxiety and depression in my past (and have come through a recent decade of robust mental health) I believe my experience can be helpful to others. I have read so many great books on this topic and will list some favorites here (this doubles as my bibliography for the session).

The Chemistry of Calm by Henry Emmons, M.D. (2010) – especially Chapter 3 on the Roots of Resilience. This whole book is a gem for anyone who has ever suffered anxiety.

The Chemistry of Joy by Henry Emmons, M.D. (2006) – see note below:

This latter book was referred to me by a kind Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselor for whom I am still grateful. He identified the hidden grief I was processing back in 2010. If it weren’t for him, I might have lost my job since I had been put on a performance improvement plan (giving only 90% at work instead of the 110% I customarily give). 

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W. (2010) – especially Guideposts #2 and #3 on Cultivating Self-Compassion and Cultivating a Resilient Spirit. 

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. (2014) – this book again brought me to yoga in its explanations of the physical mechanisms that keep trauma “locked” in the body (both physical and mental).

Overworked and Overwhelmed: the mindfulness alternative by Scott Eblin (2014) – I heard the author speak at a leadership event for my company and I knew he had important messages for me. Scott tells a powerful journey of his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and the steps he takes to manage it. He actually became a yoga teacher in order to teach some of the things he was learning to take good care of his body. Another inspiration for me.

Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body by Daniel Goleman, PhD, and Richard J Davidson, PhD (2017). I knew meditation was starting to have an effect on me when I made a commitment to practice in February of 2017. This was the evidence I was looking for, that thoroughly reviewed the science behind how these practices change not only our current state but also our gene expression.

My premise is that human beings are (by nature) resilient.  AND there are things we can do throughout our lifetimes to increase our own resilience in the face of difficult times.

I have many more. These are the ones that were top-of-mind as I scanned the shelves to work on my course outline. I will have WAY more than material than I can cover in a 2-hour session, but I can always hand out a reading list of suggested resources for those interested.

Have you read any of these books?

Thanks for reading!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com