Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday smilez

Notes from Jenn's World

Just a quick check-in about a few things going on in my world.

Gratitude in recovery

After almost a week, I am finally back to feeling myself. While I am relieved to have most of the nausea and dizziness gone, I do hope to hold on to the sense of presence I have felt throughout this experience. Driving home from running errands today, I could feel how much more in the moment I was, feeling the steering wheel and stick shift in my fingers, the amount of resistance in the pedals, the sun on my face. I smiled the whole way, recognizing the gift of the present moment and grateful for being able to have the experience feeling fully myself, fully in my body. It has been such a gift!

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

I may not have been able to train this past week, but donations have still been coming in, reminding me of everyone's tremendous support. I am up to $1184 at this point, which is approximately one-third of my personal goal for this event. I cannot express enough gratitude for everyone's donations so far. The process has been a great reminder of the infinite abundance of the universe and the generosity of my friends and family. Thank you all!

Caroline Reynolds on Good Morning America

My mentor Caroline Reynolds was recently on Good Morning America talking about her book Spiritual Fitness. It's a terrific interview--click here to view it--and an even better book! I am in the process of planning an 8-week class based on the program outlined in Spiritual Fitness. If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in participating, I'd love to hear from you. I am ironing out the details and should be ready to publish them soon, but if you have a preference for when and where the class is held definitely let me know soon.

What's happening in your world? Anything new that you're exploring? Do you have any synchronicity to share? Any events coming up on your horizon that you're excited about? Please share!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Love can make up for a great many things that are missing in your life. But, if you don't have love, no matter what else you have, it is never enough.
~Ann Landers

I had a wonderful, heart-opening experience last night. A group of friends from my former spiritual community got together for dinner. I felt completely buoyant at the end, uplifted by the power of love in all of its forms. I love rekindling my sense of community, reconnecting with old friends who better understand this path that I am on. It feels better than good--it feels necessary.

Riding this wave of love, I pulled out my new book this morning: Ten Poems to Open Your Heart, by Roger Housden. Not only does he have unfaltering taste in poetry that moves and awakens you, his commentary is powerful and enlightening. I picked this up as part of my own heart opening process and loved rediscovering this gem of Rumi's. Rumi writes some of the most beautiful love poetry in the world, perhaps because it is to that divinity within and around us. I will leave you to the simple power of his words. Namaste.

by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Love has taken away my practices
And filled me with poetry.

I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
But I couldn't.

I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?

A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That's how I hold your voice.

I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.

I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence.

The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.

But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.

A great soul hides, like Mohammed, or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.

To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.

To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It's a total waking up!

Why should we grieve that we've been sleeping?
It doesn't matter how long we've been unconscious.

We're groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness
around you, the buoyancy.

Photo: "you find love in the most unexpected places," originally uploaded by Alex

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Slowing down

I believe there is a gift in everything. As August Gold says, what happens to us is really happening for us. While I am still recovering from the concussion I received this weekend, I'm so grateful to have been able to see the gift in this experience. Now, I'm not saying that every moment has felt like a gift--someday I'd love to reach that level of presence--but when I take a step back and look at the big picture, I'm definitely more on the grateful side than not.

One of the biggest things I've gotten from this experience is the gift of slowing down. I am almost always busy, which often means I'm multitasking. The last few days I've been nearly incapable of focusing on anything other than what's right in front of me, so I'm having to do things one at a time. And since my thoughts aren't cooperating with me by moving at their usual speed, I'm also having to do everything more slowly. I love the picture above because it reminds me of how I've been feeling lately. I might have been practicing mindfulness last week, but I've been living mindfulness this week.

Here are some examples of other gifts I've received:

* My presence is a gift. At the hospital on Saturday, I was conscious of the pain and suffering around me, but also the love and caring. I chose to build upon that energy and add my own healing energy into the mix. I closed my eyes and practiced conscious breathing, pulling positive, life force energy from Source into my body through the top of my head (or crown chakra) and sending it out into the hospital through the middle of my chest (or heart chakra). Then I reversed the flow, pulling all of the suffering I sensed out of the hospital and sending it back up into Source. It was a variation on a Ram Dass mediation I used to have on tape that I've always loved. It made me realize that my presence in the hospital that day was a gift to those around me, and it gave me something other than how I was feeling to focus on--a win-win situation!

* Surrender to the experience. I'm not always capable of focusing on something other than how I'm feeling. Sometimes the nausea or dizziness is just too great and I get caught up in it. Other times, I am incredibly aware of all of the sensations in my body. It's like I'm overly sensitive or something, so every time I turn my head it's almost like I can feel the different signals being sent throughout my nervous system. When I resist the experience by attempting to fight it or ignore it, it just gets worse, probably because I'm adding a level of anxiety or annoyance to it. It leaves me feeling frustrated, heavy, and sad. When I surrender to it, I become fully present in my body, in my breath, in this moment. I can feel the aliveness of my body and for a moment, there is no past or future, there truly is only now. It's like I'm falling into an ecstatic trance where I notice everything that is happening or that I'm feeling in that moment. It leaves me feeling light, peaceful, and connected, a welcome change of pace for sure.

* Remove your head from the sand. There's nothing like an illness or injury to send me scurrying for my shovel so I can be an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. I tell myself ignoring and avoiding will make me feel better than dealing with things, which as we know is never true. At least this time I buried myself shallowly so I could pull myself out from time to time and take care of the business at hand. I've kept the apartment clean, I've taken care of some paperwork for my freelance gig and for my insurance company, and I even managed to call the doctor this morning for the follow up recommended by the hospital. The result? I feel organized, capable, on top of things, and I'm much more aware of the fact that I am getting better each day as my daily tasks get a little easier each day.

* Ask and ye shall receive (especially when it comes to help). Oh wow, is this one ever a biggie for me. I grew up believing that I needed to be strong and independent, which meant I needed to take care of everything for myself. Help was for the weak. I've been slowly releasing this concept over the past decade, but it's like a dandelion with deep roots and lots of scattered seeds. This experience has helped me to uproot it a little bit as I've been forced to call upon my husband and other friends for help. And everyone has been wonderful and supportive, of course. My friend Melanie wrote a guest post for my blog on Monday when I wasn't feeling like I could string words together to form full and complete sentences. My friend Beth is picking me up in a couple of hours to take me to a reunion dinner we are going to tonight. My husband has pitched in wherever he could, from helping with breakfast and dinner preparation to picking up around the house to running errands for me after work. And that doesn't even touch on all the long-distance love, support, and prayers that have come down the pipeline. When you ask for help, you get to experience all the love that is always present in life, sometimes even from unexpected sources.

What this all amounts to me is "Stay Fully Present," a lesson I've been attempting to learn for years. That's the funny thing about the way the universe works--sometimes you have to literally be hit over the head with it before you finally get it. Keep your fingers crossed the effects are long-lasting this time. Namaste.

Photo: "Slow The World Down," originally uploaded by Taro Taylor

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A New Earth -- Ego: The Current State of Humanity

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the second week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I have been absolutely loving Eckhart Tolle's presence in the weekly A New Earth webinar. He is so gentle, aware, on message even when Oprah is dancing about. I'm finding him absolutely inspirational. This chapter is a really great introduction to the concept of disconnecting from ego, and is definitely the reminder I need right now. Thank you life for providing it for my evolution!

Eckhart's short definition of ego is that it is a false sense of self based on mental concepts, i.e. thoughts. The truth of Who You Really Are is the formless awareness that is at the back of all of your thoughts. When you think about "who I am" the ego is the "I" that thinks of itself as "me and my story," but the true "I" is the awareness, the observer.

I had quite a few Aha! moments surrounding this idea while watching him speak. What I was most struck by was about the strength of the ego. We tend to think of someone with a strong ego as someone with an overinflated sense of self, someone who thinks very highly of herself. So typically it would be someone who is very caught up in being beautiful, smart, sexy, popular, successful, wealthy, etc. The thing is that ego strength isn't about the qualities that the individual is identifying with, it's about how much she is identifying with them. So someone who thinks of herself as being miserable, unhappy, sick, broke, traumatized, etc. can have an equally strong ego (or more so) if that is how she is choosing to define herself. Do you know anyone who has told you their same story many times, all about how they were abused or mistreated, how hard life is, how much they've always had the short end of the stick? That person's ego is strong because their identification with their story is so strong.

But your story is just your story. It is not Who You Really Are. Your ego is incredibly invested in you staying stuck in your story, keeping you in the smallness that that story creates. It cannot survive without its identification. In fact, often when you start to slough off the ego what happens is that you identify with being special or enlightened or whatnot. This is just another place for the ego to grab onto and is a slippery slope for anyone seeking to uncover the truth of who they are.

Take a minute to think about all of the ways you define yourself. I am spiritual, a woman, a Scorpio, a Californian, a wife, a daughter, a perfectionist, a vegetarian, a renter, a former Project Manager, a former Practitioner, between jobs. But do any of these so-called definitions really get at the core of who I am? No. They have more to do with the choices I have made so far in life and with the roles I play. There is nothing wrong with making choices, having thoughts, fulfilling roles, having opinions--it's when we identify with them, define ourselves by them that we lose sight of the big picture of life. What do you do when something happens in your life that forces those definitions to shift, if you were to get laid off from your job, or your house were in the path of a natural disaster? Does that affect Who You Really Are? Again, no. Your selfness is still there at the core of your being. Nothing can take that away from you.

The more you can become aware of the ways you are identifying with your thoughts, your things, your roles, your beliefs, the more you can create a space around yourself, some literal breathing room. Because nothing helps you to see the real you, the observer, faster than just taking a deep breath, paying attention, pulling yourself into the present moment, becoming aware of the aliveness inside of you, your breath, your essence, your being. This is Who You Really Are. You are changeless, you are vibrant, you are beautiful and wonderful and magnificent. Bring your attention back here whenever you can, and you will not only find peace, but you will begin to embody that peace inside and out. Namaste.

Photo: "CHERRY BLOSSOMS," originally uploaded by Jun

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!

The last lecture

It seems like this video has been making its way around cyberspace rather rapidly (I got links to two different versions of this yesterday alone), but if you haven't had a chance to watch this video yet, it is definitely worth 10 minutes of your time. A great reminder about what's important in life. (Warning: tissue alert.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Shift happens

Today I would like to share with you what I hope is the first of many guest posts. As you travel the spiritual path, you come across many wonderful spirits, teachers, and friends. Rev. Melanie Colpaart is just one of these people. I feel blessed to have her in my life and hope you enjoy her warm wisdom.

Got something to pass through? Is it appearing a bit perilous and are you feeling a bit timid about the outcome? Choose a new idea about what it is you are "up against" in order to get to the other side. Is it possible to see an island paradise rather than a mountain perilous? And is there a boulder to push single-handedly up the mountain perilous? Why not sail through challenges rather than attempting to attack them with frustration. Ahh, sure, easy to say, not so easy to do, right?

Here's the trick (the jester said with a smile), ask yourself just what you are focusing on, truly focusing on. Is the focus on the obstacle to achieving a desired result, or is it on the desired result? Are you focusing on what is in your head, or what is in your heart? What you tend to focus on, IS what appears on your horizon, it is always for you to choose. Even in the midst of a disturbing event or challenge, how you choose to look at the situation is absolutely how the situation will show up and unfold. The trick is to absolutely keep your heart and mind in paradise to the extent you can muster, whenever possible. Complaining, griping, grousing does no good at all, it only allows the appearance of the bad to remain.

Sound a bit daunting, frustrating, unnerving? It might in the beginning, however with practice, changing how you approach situations will change the challenges that show up in your life experience, and this IS the truth. You have heard this before, haven't you? Every leader, teacher, spiritual mystic and avatar has said this same thing: "how, or what you believe in is how or what your life will be" (or something like that). They have said this for a very good reason--it is the way it is. It is up to you to make the difference in your own life, and by so doing, make a difference in the collective consciousness of our planet.

So, stop playing the victim or martyr and reclaim your power to sail through this paradise. Your island of peace and serenity is here for you as you journey AND it is here for you when you reach the other side of the pass you are moving through. Your paradise, or your peril is waiting for you to choose. So get to focusing on what you truly desire and it can and will appear for you now.

Rev. Melanie Colpaart is an Ordained Minister of Religious Science residing in beautiful Austin, Texas. She is a wife, stepmom, cat lover, traveler, hiker, sometimes golfer and friend to the wonderful Jenn, and so it is. :-)

Photo: This beautiful photo is one of Rev. Melanie's of a pass into a reef area at Rangiroa Tuamotus, in the Society Islands.

Enjoying Learning to Fly? Stumble It to share with others looking for inspiration!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Robert Maclean Quote

Tent tethered among jackpine and bluebells. Lacewings rise from rock incubators. Wild geese flying north. And I can't remember who I'm supposed to be.

I want to learn how to purr. Abandon myself, have mistresses in maidenhair fern, own no tomorrow nor yesterday: a blank shimmering space forward and back. I want to think with my belly. I want to name all the stars animals flowers birds rock in order to forget them, start over again. I want to wear the seasons, harlequin, become ancient and etched by weather. I want to be snow pulse, ruminating ungulate, pebble at the bottom of the abyss, candle burning darkness rather than flame. I want to peer at things shameless, observe the unfastening, that stripping of shape by dusk. I want to sit in the meadow a rotten stump pungent with slimemold, home for pupae and grubs, concentric rings collapsing into the passacaglia of time. I want to crawl inside someone and hibernate one entire night with no clocks to wake me, thighs fragrant loam. I want to melt. I want to swim naked with an otter. I want to turn insideout, exchange nuclei with the Sun. Toward the mythic kingdom of summer I want to make blind motion, using my ribs as a raft, following the spiders as they set sail on their tasselled shining silk. Sometimes even a single feather's enough to fly.
~Robert Maclean


So, you know the expression, "I got hit over the head with it," usually referring to an idea or message or something? Well, Saturday, in the wee hours of the morning, I literally experienced what being hit over the head feels like. My husband and I collided heads when he came to bed, and his being the larger and heavier of the two, mine absorbed most of the impact. The result? A concussion, leaving my brain less than what I normally think of as functional. Reading is difficult for me, partially because I'm having trouble with focus and partially because it makes my head feel funny to hang forward like this. Playing any form of video game, even something as simple as solitaire, makes me feel completed nauseated. I kind of feel like I'm experiencing all of the sensation of my ecstatic trance of last week . . . except without the ecstatic trance. The whole experience has been fascinating, and while I am aware of at least part of the message--always, always, always follow your intuition!--I suspect there's another piece looming in the background, waiting for me to become aware of its presence. I will keep you posted on what I discover.

Today, mostly I feel a surge of gratitude. I am grateful for the little improvement I already feel in my mental functionality. I am grateful not to be at the hospital, bored and lonely, but with my husband and cats, soaking up the beauty and colors and vibrancy of life. I am grateful for my ability to find humor in just about anything--apparently protective headgear is recommended for concussion prevention, so now I'm looking for a sleeping helmet. And I am grateful that honestly, my "getting hit over the head" kind of messages are getting gentler--in the past I've had things like car accidents come up with much more intense injuries and longer lasting ramifications. Thank god for increasing awareness!

I picked up one of my favorite books last night, Earth Prayers, as I was going to bed, looking for some inspiration to set the tone for my sleep. I thumbed through its many poems and prayers, old friends that provide equal parts comfort and inspiration. Plus, they're often short, so I could read them successfully! I wanted to share with you one of my many favorites, a poem by Harriet Kofalk . . .

in a moment of peace
I give thanks
to the source of all peace

as I set forth
into the day
the birds sing
with new voices
and I listen
with new ears
and give thanks

the flower called Angel's Trumpet
in the breeze
and I give thanks

my feet touch the grass
still wet with dew
and I give thanks
both to my mother earth
for sustaining my steps
and to the seas
cycling once again
to bring forth new life

the dewdrops
become jewelled
with the morning's sun-fire
and I give thanks

you can see forever
when the vision is clear
in this moment
each moment
I give thanks

Photo: "Angel's trumpet," originally uploaded by Jack French