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Savasana and the power of sweet surrender

Restore and Replenish

Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world refreshed and more available to handle its opportunities, challenges and stresses.

During this time of year, as nature slows down and takes a quiet breather to restore and replenish, it’s a good time to revisit our daily practices and employ simple yet effective ways to follow mother nature’s wisdom.   As nature turns inward, I invite us to do the same.

Heading into the holiday season as well, this can be a time of year that may heighten our nerves and trigger deep emotions.  This too makes it an ideal time to implement consistent daily practices to ground ourselves,  and help us “settle everything down”.

In this moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we explore the ancient practice of savasana, and a technique called 4-7-8 breathing.

Turning Inward

So often in our fast-paced world, we seemingly forget to relax! Even low-level activities which we may be thinking are ways to relax often serve more as a mental distraction, and aren’t truly relaxing at all (watching television news, anyone?)

What if we were to allow ourselves to drop into a state of quiet neutrality, where all of our hurried, harried, frazzled parts can come back together and rest?

Savasana, or “final resting pose”: This asana (posture) is typically reserved for the end of a yoga practice.

After a revving up of the body, nervous system, organs, muscles and blood flow during yoga exercises, savasana serves many blissful purposes, including:  reintegration, restoration, and a letting go of any mental chatter, agitation, or “gripping.”  It’s an easing into the floor or ground upon which your body is placed – on your back, with legs comfortably apart, arms opened, palms facing upward.  Eyes are closed.  Breathing is calm, slow, and deep. Savasana is typically done for 5-10 minutes, and may even be done for up to 30 minutes at a time.

By engaging in savasana, you more easily become aware of your breath and your mind state.   Ultimately, this practice helps “ready and steady” you for success as you return to the world and all its many challenges, opportunities, and stresses.

Another way to “turn inward” and combat the day to day stresses we all face, is to combine savasana with a 4-7-8-count breathing technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. As with other yogic breathing, it’s best done with your tongue placed up and against the inside of your upper front teeth.  1. Take a slow deep breath in, for a count of four.  2. Hold the breath for a count of seven.  3. Release the breath out for a count of eight.  In one session, repeat this 4-7-8 breath cycle four times, to complete “one round”.

Start out breathing at a counting pace that’s comfortable for you, and over time you’ll find yourself being able to slow down your breathing and elongating each count.  The sequence, however, remains the same:  4-7-8. In total, a round of four breath cycles takes no more than two minutes, tops!

It will help you relax any time of day.  And, it will help you fall asleep.  Train yourself to do this to help you get centered, grounded and calm before you react to any stressful situation.

Although savasana is usually done at the end of a full yoga set, I’m inviting us all to try it on its own, as part of our daily practice, especially between now and the end of the year. Both savasana and the 4-7-8 technique have compounding positive effects when done consistently and over the course of several weeks and months.

Savasana and the 4-7-8 breathing technique — each of these practices are whole and complete on their own, and need not be done together.  You actually don’t usually see them done in conjunction with one another. I’m suggesting, though, that they make for a powerful combo pack!  I invite you to try them together, at least once a day.  Do a ten-minute savasana, followed by a four-cycle round of the 4-7-8 breathing.

Sweet Surrender

Both of these practices serve as forms of physical and energetic surrender, in all the best ways.  It’s a conscious and powerful choice to grant ourselves devoted time to recharge and receive the bliss that comes with sweet surrender.  Look at the image of the child above, so pure, so relaxed…so open to all of life’s joys, triumphs, and love!

For your consideration and “extra credit”:

In addition to doing one savasana daily*:

Several times throughout the day — and especially right before going to sleep – do the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Remember this practice takes only a minute or two to complete.  You will serve you and your overall health and well-being tremendously by doing so!

*For a refresher on daily practices, go here.

Okay, your turn:

What daily practices, if any, have you been doing throughout the course of this year? Have you tried any new ones?  Are you open to doing something a little differently throughout the holiday season?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Special moments in time

Now is all we have, and it’s a lot!

One oh so enchanting evening

In this edition of Soul Notes we explore what it means to capture those special moments in time. 

Sitting in front of my casita, from atop the cliffs high above the smooth sea, along the central coastline of Mexico:  I am joined by two other caring souls as we look out at the nearly black night sky snuggling the horizon and the calm ocean waters a few hundred feet below.  Directly centered in front of us, along with a canopy of stars above, we see the moon slowly setting over the water.

As the moon descends, its reflection of sunlight forming a crescent shape, it turns with solemn power from a bright white to a warm and welcoming golden hue.  After several magnificent minutes, without even a whisper, the moon’s silhouette slips behind the horizon line and out of view.

We gaze out at the ocean in awe as we humbly appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this moment. We are reverent witnesses to nature and the cosmos, and to all that is.

Okay, so I may wax poetically like this from time to time.  How can I not?  Moments such as these beg for quiet reflection and invited rapture.

As posed by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

To be human is to live with a certain level of consciousness, awareness and appreciation for all that our senses, well…sense.  Our human experience is indeed a sensual one.

In the film “City of Angels” starring Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan, there is a scene in which Seth (Cage’s character, who comes to Earth as an angel), yearns to know the taste of a pear. He asks Maggie (Ryan’s character) to describe it for him.  A bit perplexed by the question, Maggie takes a minute to find the words to convey how the pear tastes to her. Seth later in the movie experiences for the first time, the bodily sensations of hot water hitting his skin while taking a shower.

Simple moments perhaps.  Things we often take for granted.  And, yet they can be profoundly beautiful as well.   This is when our hearts and bodies serve our minds, and not the other way around.

“Where words fall short, experiences stand tall.” –Lori A. Noonan

As a writer, I’m quite fond of words.  Heck, right now you’re reading a blog article, I do realize (grin).

With words, we do our best to capture what our senses innately feel.  We have sensory-based phrases such as:

“In my mind’s eye”

“Touching moments”

“Hot blooded”

“Cold hearted”

“I hear you”

“I see you”

“I feel you”

“Tastes like freedom”

The senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch, and even a “sixth sense” of intuition and innate knowing -– all provide us an opportunity, in so many ways, to experience life in all its richness and supreme depth.  It’s up to us to tune in and be all that it means to be human.

Our lives are a string of special moments in time.  Let’s be aware of what makes them special; and: feel them, cherish them, and share them with others.  That is my wish for you today, and always.

Okay, your turn:

What examples come to mind or heart when you remember a beautiful moment in time?  Where were you?  What made it beautiful?  Did you take any pictures?  In what other ways did you memorialize that moment?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2017 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Traveling light

As life is a daring adventure or nothing at all (thank you, Helen Keller), have you felt into where you are traveling next in your life’s journey?

Coming around the bend into a new season after last week’s solstice, as well as into a new calendar year, it’s a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Reflecting on your own spiritual path, how well would you like to “travel” into the next trip around the sun and during the next thirteen moons?

This edition of Soul Notes is devoted to traveling light.

Carry on baggage, or checked baggage?

Maybe it’s a good thing that airlines make you pay for extra baggage. “Whaaat?,” you exclaim.  Well…We’re paying an energetic price anyway  for extra baggage: in our travels, in our relationships, in our lives.  Adding $25 or $50 or whatever it is the airline charges only makes it all that more apparent.

When airlines first invoked those extra charges several years ago, I did feel disgruntled and rather taken aback by the new policy.  How affronting that they were going to charge us for something that had always been included within the price of our airfare? I’m beginning to appreciate, however, that the extra-bags policy has brought to my attention the benefits of packing light.

I now value the ‘selection process’ inherent in choosing what I need or desire most to bring on a trip, and deciding what items really are better left behind.   I read somewhere (or did I imagine this?) that just as with portion control on your dinner plate, it’s helpful to lay out what you think you may wish to pack, and then reduce it by half.

Doing so requires prioritization.  It’s an exercise in discernment.  It’s living life consciously.  What really matters to you?

Traveling light means paring down

Heading into the new year, how about we take a little inventory of our lives?  Maybe it’s time, by design, to travel light.  Release what is weighing you down.  Let go of what is holding you back.  Finally recognize and cast off that which has been making things take longer and unnecessarily draining on you rather than sustaining?

I’ve decided that there’s a reason luggage is called that – it’s because you lug it around with you. When traveling abroad, have you ever found yourself dragging a suitcase all around — on and off trains, up and down stairways, and from hotel to hotel?  Unless you have your own private valet, this quickly becomes a direct and obvious reminder of the value of traveling light.  Keep this vision in your mind’s eye when packing for your next trip!

Additionally, while on your next trip — business, vacation, either or both – be aware of what, if anything, you actually wish you had  in fact brought with you. Or, maybe some things for you have shifted in their priority or meaningfulness?  Is it time to reprioritize?  If so, make the appropriate notations and adjustments for next time.

Time for an inspection and perhaps a refresh

Now is a wonderful time, in another sense, to “check” your bags.  Give them a good once-over. Any rips, tears, or frays?  Any broken zippers?  Are the wheels wobbly and about to fall off?  Maybe the bags are still functional, yet have long lost their luster?

Is your passport up to date?  Better to take a look and determine that now rather than later.  Some countries require a passport to be at least six months away from its expiration date, when you are visiting.  Again, what may be an annoying policy, I have come to realize, actually serves a useful purpose for us as well.  It helps us to take our travels seriously.  There’s a discipline to it; a consciousness to it.

Don’t think this is all about stodgy planning.  I’m all for spontaneity, too.  I’d say having the passport up to date ahead of time actually allows for precisely that!  You’re ready to go at a moment’s notice (especially if you’ve gotten in the habit of bringing only what fits in a small carrry-on bag…see how this works?)

Review and Replenish

Every 90 days or so (you can use the solstices and equinoxes as an easy guide from the natural world) examine — not only your luggage and passport, but your life’s dreams and ambitions.  Not unlike the natural world, your life is dynamic and fluid.  Quarterly review and replenishment is about right – any more often than that, and you may be disallowing your aspirations their full due.  Your life is worth it – no short-changing or robbing your priorities the opportunity to fully settle in and calibrate. Throughout the year, consider:  How do you feel?  How do you wish to feel?  Lighter?

For your consideration:

What are you carrying into 2017?  Lay it all out in front of you.  Now, consider cutting it by 50%.  Be selective.  You get to choose!

For another practical example, and one I did myself after Solstice:

Clear out your refrigerator. Okay, before you groan about this one, first put on some of your favorite music and spray something pleasingly fragrant in the air. Next, dedicate no more than 55 minutes at a time to:

Taking one shelf a day for the next (however many shelves are in your fridge) days to clean it out.  Wipe down the dividers. Remove the cruddy crusties from jar lids.  Check for items well past their expiration dates.  Put in a fresh box of baking soda.  Toss out old condiments that you barely ever use (how many different types of mustard do you really need?) What about that small jar of maraschino cherries hiding behind that other small jar of pickled relish – can you even remember why you bought either of those – was it for a party you hosted back in 2011?

When you’re done at the end of the week, cherish a clean fridge, and consider how it’s a metaphor for entering the new year lighter, freer, and more refreshed.  And, if the metaphor doesn’t work, at least you can now find the almond butter!

Okay, your turn:

What are you ready to leave behind from this year?  What are you excited about and energized about bringing with you into the next one?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
 
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Every time a bell rings

At this time of year when the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world is at its thinnest and most transparent, I’m struck by the emergence of seemingly non-coincidental coincidences.  In this edition of Soul Notes, allow me to share a story of what happened a couple weeks ago.

Fanciful Financials

This year for me has been one of self empowerment – in my outlook on life, my relationships, and in my money matters. Among other things, I’ve been taking a more active role in creating and stewarding my wealth.  Along those lines, in reviewing my credit card statements this month, I discovered multiple charges on one of my accounts, that I did not authorize.

If you’re anything like me, calling an 800 number and working through a myriad of voice prompts and being put on hold for great lengths of time is not high on your joy list.  Even lower on the list is calling a credit card company to challenge hundreds of dollars in charges.  So, I took charge (pun intended!) of the situation by allowing the experience to be a lot more pleasant and perhaps even fanciful.  Fanciful financials, why that would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

I set the intention that, instead of taking on my usual dread of calling a credit card company, I would first make a call of a different kind.  I took a deep breath, got quiet, and called in the angels.  Not any ol’ angels mind you – I called in angelic helpers of a certain variety, namely those looking for a specific type of assignment.

My spiritual call went something like this:

 “Hello…any fanciful financial angels available in this moment?  Especially ones who are good at facilitating the resolution of billing disputes, so that I may remain calm and patient throughout, and get this resolved smoothly, today, if possible?”

Okay, if you’re thinking that this blog post is getting way too hocus pocus for your taste, stay with me.  My wish is that this lil’ story serves as a heartwarming respite from the otherwise heavy news you may be reading elsewhere today.

Wonderful Wonders

Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  Originally released during the 1940s, it’s now considered to be an all-time favorite holiday classic.

Jimmy Stewart plays the protagonist George Bailey who at the beginning of the film, we find out,  considers himself to be a failure.  He wishes that he had never been born.  The film continues to weave between two “realities” – one where George’s life and the lives of those around him take a certain course; in the other, without George, those same events transpire in an entirely different way.

It is through the intervention of a visitor in town, a messenger named Clarence, that we and George see the true value of George’s life, and the vivid impact his life has had on everyone around him.

Near the end of the movie, George is seen standing next to his wife in front of a Christmas tree, with his daughter in his arms.  George looks down to find a book gifted to him by his friend Clarence, inscribed with prophetic words, and ending in: “Thanks for the wings!”

At that moment, a jingle-jangle is heard, and the camera zooms in on a small bell hanging on the Christmas tree.

The daughter points to it, and says:

“Look Daddy!

Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

George says to her, in response:

“That’s right.  That’s right.”

Looking up and winking, George says:

  “Attaboy, Clarence!”

~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~

Now, back to my credit card story.  After I had invoked the fanciful-financial-spirit-helpers-on-assignment, I took another deep breath, and dialed up Bank of America on their customer service line.  With renewed faith and an uncommon-for-me dose of patience, I followed the multiple recorded voice prompts, and then waited calmly on hold, when eventually a person came on the line.

“Hello,” she says.

“This is Angel.”

What the what?  Come on, you’re kidding me, right?  I say this to myself, and then smile as I realize what’s happening…Well, of course her name is Angel.

I feel a gush of glee and satisfaction, and think to myself:  Well, this truly is fanciful financials!

Angel couldn’t have been more helpful.  She carefully reviewed my account and the disputed charges, and assured me that she would do what she could to get the charges removed.  To do that, she said, she would need to call the merchant.

Rather than hanging up with me – or giving me the usual “we will look into it and you may or may not see any changes reflected on your next statement” – Angel did something that in my experience was a first:  she offered to call the merchant while I was still on the phone, so that we could get everything taken care of in one fell swoop.

A Three-Way Call

Here’s how the next part of the conversation went:

Angel:  “I have the merchant’s representative on the line, Lori.”

Lori:  “Angel, will you stay on the line, too, or are you transferring?”

Angel:  “Yes, I’ll stay on the call with you.  Here he is…”

I listen for his voice, and he says:

“Hello, this is Clarence.”

We worked it out, and all disputed charges were removed.

Jingle.

Jingle.

Jingle!

For your consideration:

Now is an ideal time to invite in clear communication and assistance from behind the veil. So, I leave you with these words from Train’s “Calling All Angels”:

“I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear

… And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels”

Okay, your turn:

What messages are coming through for you in your life?  Are you calling in any angels?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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What does it mean to make the world a better place?

What does it mean to be of service? To whom? For whom?  And, to what desired end?  In this new moon’s edition of Soul Notes, we explore this topic.

Authentic service:  spiritual growth

Many spiritual seekers, including many of you I gather, have felt the desire to be “of service,” and to leave the world a bit better than we may have found it.  So, what does this mean exactly, and how do we do it?

Service (or seva which in Sanskrit means “selfless service”) is to be offered from your heart and soul, and not for any egoic purposes. To be of selfless service means to do so from a place of well-meaning intention, without expectation of reward or acknowledgment.

“Service is not what serves you; it is when you enrich another person.” – Yogi Bhajan

Seva is infinite, not finite, giving.  It’s a way to make a difference, in your personal sphere, in your community, and the world.

Ultimately, it’s all in service to the Divine.

The idea and the practice of service is a spiritual one.  As you uplift others, from a place of service, Spirit steps in and uplifts you as well.  As you serve, Spirit in turns serves you.  You are held in love by the Divine.  It’s part of your own spiritual growth.

 Who benefits?

Accordingly, acts of service benefit those you serve, and yourself.  All “good works” have positive, impactful ripple effects. All gestures great and small – they all count!

Ways to get started:

Don’t be afraid to start “too small.”  Leave a room, a person, a situation better than you found it.  Raise the vibration to a level higher than when you first arrived.  Approach it from a place of free will, and with a spacious heart.  May your service come from an intention that’s pure, and not from any sense of “obligation.”

In this edition of Soul Notes, I thought it may be helpful to share some examples of ways I’ve chosen to be of service.  I share these examples for illustrative purposes (lest I give the impression that I am listing them here for my own edification, or to be acknowledged for them in some way.  That, of course, would pretty much fly in the face of the very essence of seva).  I sought out these opportunities, and volunteered my time and devotion to them, from what I hope was and always will be, a pure heart.   My intention here is to provide some ideas.  And, I look forward to hearing from you and for you to share yours as well!  Please provide your own examples in the Comments section, below. Doing so, in itself, may be a seva of sorts – in that someone may read your list, and get some inspired ideas for their own acts of seva.  The ripple effects continue!

Examples:

  • Prepare and serve meals to the homeless

I have done this on more than one occasion, for the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.

  • Clean up the environment

With an organization called Heal the Bay in Southern California, I have been trained and have served as a “Beach Captain,” to help clean up trash at local beaches, and educate members of the community on the dangers of clogging up the city storm drains.

With another group, I planted a garden at a nearby elementary school.

  • Build and provide shelter for families in need

With Habitat for Humanity, I joined a work crew to put up drywall for a family’s new home in a town near Los Angeles.

With another organization, I helped build a home from the ground up in a rural area outside of Tijuana, Mexico.

  • Enhance and help beautify physical structures

I have helped paint murals on the outside of school buildings, as well as painting a child-friendly mural inside a children’s waiting room at a local courthouse.

  • Tutor or teach or facilitate workshops

Through a program sponsored by a local public library, I tutored a young single mom to learn English as a second language.

I have volunteered with a nonprofit dedicated to helping abuse survivors heal through art programs.

  • Coach an individual or a team

With the Special Olympics, I have coached a local sports team.

Over the years, I have had several friends and colleagues too who have engaged in any number of acts of service.  They have placed their full hearts and souls into these activities.  They have generously contributed their time, energy, talents and good will to these endeavors, all to help uplift those they’ve served.

For you, it may be something completely different that draws you in to being of service? It may not be any of these listed above.  These are some examples, though, to get your “seva juices flowing.”

Again, acts of service need not be part of any organized activity at all, either, of course.  Sometimes, the every-day acts of kindness and service provide the most immediate impact. Perhaps you offer to help someone to cross the street.  Or, offer to help carry someone’s packages.  Or, maybe it’s alerting someone in a grocery store that they are unknowingly about to walk into a slippery section on the floor.  Someone did this for me just last week.  I was grateful and touched that a stranger would offer that to me, with such genuine thoughtfulness and care for my wellbeing. I felt an instant albeit quick, loving connection – human to human.  This is seva.

When it helps to “pitch in”

Whenever the need arises, perhaps you can offer to “pitch in” at a get-together with friends or at an event that needs helpers or volunteers.  Offer to set-up beforehand or to clean-up afterwards.  Offer to do the dishes!

Offer to prepare or share a meal:

In India, within the Sikh tradition, preparing and sharing food for and with others is referred to as langar (or “free kitchen”). Everyone is welcomed to share the Langar.  No one is turned away, no matter their age, gender, ethnicity, or political or religious affiliation.  Additionally, it’s egalitarian — in theory and in practice.  No one is considered higher than or “above” (in stature) anyone else.

In closing, I’ll leave you with this:

“[M]ay your blessings be for all, may your happiness be shared, and may your smiles give hope to others.” – Yogi Bhajan

Each of us is a divine channel, through which we serve, and by which everyone in turn is served.

 

For your consideration:

Are you feeling the call to serve?  If so, go ahead.  Today. One small gesture renders great impact.  It all counts.  As do you.

It does require taking action – no matter how seemingly small (at first). Acts of service compound, like interest!

Open your heart.

Extend a hand.

Step up to serve.

Serve.

And, serve

again.

Okay, your turn:

In what ways have you been of service?  Can you recall a time when you were the recipient of someone else’s act of service?  In those instances, what did you notice?  Today, what will you do to “make a difference” in someone’s life?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Seed from the seat of creation!

As we welcome in the increasing light at this time of year, and upon embarking on the lunar new year — on this February new moon, I invite you to consider: What seeds are you planting? — in your life, in your life’s work, in your relationships, in your surroundings?

With this edition of Soul Notes, we take a sojourn to the lessons of nature. Many cultures historically have lived in step with the natural seasons, and have survived by way of carefully planting, nurturing and cultivating the sustenance provided by mother earth. Let’s take a closer look at how this applies to our day to day world right now:

The seed (and seat!) of Creation

It all sprouts from a seed that’s planted: In nature’s acts of creation, as in ours. Everything stems from that! (There’s no coincidence here, that flowers have stems.)

To germinate, all seeds need oxygen, moisture, and a certain temperature. Until these conditions are met, the seed remains stagnant, dormant, lifeless. With the right conditions, the plant inside a seed starts to grow. As it gets bigger, it pushes open and through the seed coat. (Envision a chick hatching from an egg.) Leaves start to appear and push out from the soil.

Seeding puts into motion a series of events, consequences and possibilities. You are in charge of what you seed in your own life – through your own mind, body and soul.

So, the question to consider is this: Metaphorically, what are you seeding these days? Correspondingly, how much care are and will you be taking with what you are planting?

Reaping What You Sow: The importance of Nourishing, Nurturing and Cultivating

Mind, Body and Soul

It matters what we “feed” our plants. And, of course, it matters what we feed ourselves, our mind, body and soul.

This week I’m completing a 40-day practice of chanting each morning the 38-stanza poem or prayer known as Jap Ji. Jap (“repeat”) Ji (“soul”) dates back to the 1500s, and has been nicknamed the Song of the Soul. Reciting the Jap Ji (or Japji) is believed to awaken one’s soul to its destiny.

As a seed grows in soil, sprouting from the inside through and out its original coating, so too does our consciousness and our soul. One of the many lessons to be gleaned from Japji is this: With each challenge in life, our evolving up and through it, and out the other side, brings with it a new level of challenge AND possibility. With each challenge comes the opportunity to grow our trust, faith, and ability to learn from a new level of wisdom and understanding. As we expand, it is the “pressing against” the new coating, the new shell, which fosters yet again even further growth.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anaïs Nin

For the seedling, the energy required to “bust through” the original coating is much greater than at later stages. The initial growth spurts are fast and furious! Ever wonder why puppies are perpetually nodding off in their dinner bowls? As with seedlings, it takes a LOT of energy for puppies to grow so much and so fast! The energy expelled and the corresponding growth is so concentrated. So, too, as it is with our personal development and spiritual growth.

Among spiritual circles, you may be hearing the good news that across the globe we’re experiencing a rise in consciousness. Despite (or because of?) the ever-intensifying use of technology, instances of widespread violence, ongoing struggles and strife, and an overall prevalence of crises worldwide, there is at the same time an emerging collective devoted to the return to simpler times, and to a more centered, grounded way of living.

Is it any coincidence that among the vast morass of options for “fast meals,” “rapid weight loss,” and “crash diets,” we’re also seeing an increasing number of crate-to-plate restaurants popping up around town? Folks are looking to eat locally grown food again, and steering clear of processed substances, shipped in from faraway food factories.

And, for many, we’re taking time to make our own meals, or at least to settle in and enjoy our meals at a more leisurely pace, whether at home or while dining out. I’ve always admired the Italian way of embracing la dolce vita (the sweet life) that includes among other things, the slow deliberate enjoyment of a meal. In Italy, it is generally considered a disservice at a restaurant for the wait staff to rush you. Once seated for dinner, for example, you are granted the table for the duration of the evening. You’re not likely to find Italians looking up from their plates, impatiently pleading for someone to “bring the check.”

It is the care and attentiveness which brings an almost lyrical movement to living our lives. It cultivates the soil so to speak for our dreams and desires to take root, and for our creations to come into fruition. Matching the pace of nature, rather than overriding it, is SO rich. Nature has so much to teach us!

Without planting and nurturing our own ideas, dreams and desires, we run the risk of them laying dormant. They neither come into fruition nor flourish. In short, nothing gets created. The world then misses out on each of our own uniquely beautiful contributions to the world’s landscape.

So, I leave you with this:

Plant those seeds

Provide them due care

Sow and sow

Grow and grow

Again

and

Again

 

Embrace the challenges:

Create

Contribute

Rise

and

Shine!

 

Okay, your turn:

What are you seeding in your life this year?   What is calling within you to foster, nurture, grow?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2016 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Owning your own piece of PEACE…

Prince of PEACE: A study in contrasts

For many of us, this weekend is one where we are winding down from our Christmas celebrations and festivities. And for some, December has been a time spent focusing attention on Jesus Christ as the “Prince of Peace.” No matter your affiliation or spiritual tradition, however, I welcome you to explore with me here on the blog, this concept of peace, and of peace stewardship. It’s not of course, limited to a particular religion, or any religion, for that matter.

Are we not each a steward of peace, if we choose to be?

I realize that making this choice may seem too large, too assuming, nay even a completely hopeless notion, what with the seemingly endless examples of violence and strife – in our own communities, in our schools and movie theaters here in the United States, for example – and for each of us in various ways throughout our own countries as well as abroad. Perhaps.

I am awake to the endemic and pandemic:

  • Intolerance
  • Lack of understanding
  • Failure to empathize
  • Clinging to exclusion rather than inclusion
  • Perpetuation of separation rather than unity

I am also awakening to, and drawing from, however, the deep potential for peace that awaits within. It is available to each of us. We are at liberty to invoke it at any time. When we embody that peace, it cannot help but lend hope to ourselves and to those around us. Call me naïve, and yet, I am willing to carry forth this sentiment and from the point of realization that peace on earth really does indeed begin with me (and you).

I ask you to consider: What is your piece of the peace? 

Peace: It’s a moment by moment thing

This is not to suggest that it’s easy. Nor, am I suggesting it’s even plausible to maintain a sense of peace all day, every day. I’m only suggesting that we try. It’s worth our making the attempts, wouldn’t you say?

Admittedly, I’d say that peace is a moment by moment thing. I certainly don’t live in a state of peace at all times. I slip in and out of it, moment by moment. And yet, I may decide to bring peace to any given situation, in any given moment.

Also, peace may not mean completely free from conflict. It may, however, mean embracing a sense of gratitude, of serenity, of home.

So, to that, I say: Let’s create our own playful peace puzzles!

Ready to get your own peace party started?

Taking the letters of PEACE, I invite you to make your own peace offering – to yourself, and to anyone else who needs it. There’s no science to this – it’s art.

I’m not suggesting that these will solve the world’s crises. They may, however, provide a few moments of solace, and a brief respite and recess away from the disharmonious world around us. May they provide you the space to refrain from discord, and instead step out into the world from a place of peace.

Peace be with you.

Peace be within you.

Peace emanate from you.

For your consideration:

I’ll start. Here are three playful peace puzzles that I’ve put together for posting here on the blog:

Precede Engagements of Anger with Conscious Empathy

Preciously Embrace All Coziness Eternally

Proactively Entertain Abundantly Creative Enterprises

Okay, your turn:

I’ve left one blank for you to complete – feel free to do this one on your own. Have fun!

P__________ E __________ A__________ C__________ E __________

I invite you to share your own playful peace puzzle and any other peace related thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul! 

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved. 
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Remember, you have the music in you!

Yes, you have the music in you!

“When the night is falling

and you cannot find the light

If you feel your dreams are dying

…Hold tight.

You’ve got the music in you.”

–The New Radicals, You Get What You Give

As we approach Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere, daytime shortens and nighttime lengthens. The natural world settles in for rest and rejuvenation before it springs forth at the next turn of the wheel. It is also a time of Christmas lights and Hanukkah lights.

This time of year is also one of carols, hymns, and other songs and types of lyrical merriment.  It’s also a time when the muse moves through each of us.  To turn a phrase:  As without, so within.

In this edition of Soul Notes, let’s allow ourselves to breathe in the beautiful music that surrounds us this time of year – and at the same time, let us behold the music that stirs within us. Music from the outside and from within:  One is physical; the other, metaphysical, perhaps? Spiritual, for certain.

As the year draws to a close, I invite you to take an accounting of the music within you that you have already “let out” this year, for all to hear. At the same time, consider this:

What music is still within you, that has been laying dormant, that is ready to rise to the surface and be expressed? What have you been subduing, that you may benefit from bringing forward into next year, and out into the light?

You’ve Got the MUSE-Ic in YOU

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses, all dedicated to and presiding over the arts and sciences, one of whom is the goddess of music.

There are various etymologies for “muse” and “music”.

Suffice it to say, however, that it is not sound, by itself, which makes “music.” It is the feeling of satisfaction that it invokes within the person receiving and perceiving the sound. It is the stirring of deeply felt emotions which constitutes music, and that separates it from noise. As with the muses themselves, music inspires. It brings forth beauty. It encourages the heart.

InSPIRation

From the inside out

Creation

Moves through you

Out into the world

You feel it in your body

Sensation

Vibration

Rings

Rattles

Roars

Harmony

Evoked

Alive!

It spurs on a deeper and richer experience. It touches and awakens your spirit, your soul.  Nineteenth century physician (and member of the “Fireside Poets”) Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. offered up this spiritual prescription:

“Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what the water bath is to the body.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

He also said that most of us go to our grave with our music still inside us. It is not about getting ready to live.  It’s about living fully expressed, before our time runs out.

So, as you embrace this time of year, I invite you to find some quiet moments to reflect on what you desire to bring out from the darkness into the light.  Is it a book?  Is it a composition of another sort?  Any other creative endeavor? A new way of showing up in the world?  In your community? In your relationships?

I’ll be doing the same.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wishing you and yours all the joys and blessings of the season.

For your consideration:

Get quiet, and reflect for a moment: When has a particular piece of music moved you?  What was it about it that touched your spirit, your soul?

Okay, your turn:

When has music inspired you? In what ways?  What about your own MUSE-ic inside you?  What within you is ready to be expressed?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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A sacred initiation

My recent initiation

Since JT (Justin Timberlake) has already brought sexy back, I’m bringing “sistren” back! According to the Oxford dictionary, both brethren and sistren shared common parlance until the 1600s, when the word brethren started to take over.  I say there’s plenty of room for both!

I joined a new (for me) sacred sisterhood this weekend. After nearly a year of study, on September 26, I, along with my sistren apprentices, received my formal initiation as a “Keeper of the Water” (Keeper).

As with many other types of initiations, we each took solemn vows and made sacred commitments. As our elder has so beautifully taught us, we have each now entered into a love-centered contract with the Divine.

And, it certainly doesn’t end there. With this initiation, it has truly just begun. And, will begin again. It’s creation. And, it’s rebirth. We are neither the first, nor the last of the Keepers. What prevails is the devotion to creating sacred space for, and holding, compassion and unconditional love. Love for ourselves, for each other, for Mother Earth, for Grandmother Moon, and for the grandmothers and angels who watch over us all.

We each have our own medicine to bring into our circles and in how we show up in our lives. It is ours to bring forward; ours to share. There is much healing to be done.

Initiations of Various Types

Initiations vary, of course, in terms of their specifics.   All initiations, though, tend to exact a certain demonstrated level of commitment and a meeting of specified requirements. And, what rings true throughout, is the sanctity of the occasion.

Some examples:

There is being knighted. There is priest hood, and priestess hood. Often handed down through the generations, there is the becoming a “keeper” of a sacred tradition, rite, or ritual.

There are sororities and fraternities. And there are fraternal and sororal orders.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, I was initiated into a leadership society known as The Order of the Golden Bear. Each initiate was nominated and then inducted at a formal ceremony.   Referred to as “Fellows” once initiated, members are to carry forth the Order’s charter and pledge to uphold the group’s mission and purpose.

Also while in college, I participated in the Catholic Church’s RCIA (Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults), whereby after a year of devotion and study, I joined the other catechumens to be initiated into the Church during a several hour ceremony at the Easter Vigil.  Once initiated, we began our year-long role as a Neophyte, and with that accepted and carried out our new duties. Our first act of service began that very evening, when we anointed each of the congregants with holy oil.

Fellowship

With my Keeper initiation and the others, I have experienced a sense of fellowship. My “fellow” (sistren!) Keepers and I have each fulfilled the specific requirements, and at the same time all underwent a shared experience as we proceeded though our apprenticeship as a group. Along with a certain comaraderie, we more deeply formed a spiritual bond, a sacred sisterhood. It became clear that in our new role, we were to be continuing a centuries’ long tradition which at one point had gone dormant, and has since been honorably and solemnly resurrected by our elder, our teacher.

May I get a witness

As with Ceremony, with Initiation comes an element of being witnessed. Other members of your initiate class join you as you receive your initiation. They observe your initiation and hold sacred space and compassion for you and what you’re accepting. Among other things, their witnessing serves as an acknowledgement of where you’ve been, and more importantly, where you are headed, as you step up into this next role.

It is in effect a rite of passage. I’ll leave the topic of rites of passage for further exploration perhaps at another time. For now, I invite you to allow the idea and experience of “being initiated” to resonate with you.

As a newly ordained Keeper of the Water, what it means for me is this:

I accept this new role and its responsibilities with reverence, dedication, and devotion. I vow to continue to practice all that I’ve learned, and to do my best to honor the traditions of the grandmothers, and of the sacred feminine.

When I stumble, I promise to stand up. And, to carry on. And, to continue to hold. Again. And again.

For your consideration:

For you, what does it mean to be initiated?

Okay, your turn:

Have you or a loved one ever been initiated?   If so, in what way did you or they perform certain duties or functions? What would you like others to know about that experience? Is there a role you’d like to step into, at this point in your life? If so, what would that be, and what is drawing you towards that next level, experience, or role?

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.
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Harvesting in the riches

SEASONS CHANGE

As we approach the time of “equal days and equal nights” and in the Northern hemisphere while we are transitioning from Summer into Autumn, let’s take a moment to reflect on the changing of the seasons. During Fall (Autumn) trees slow their growth, reduce their production of chlorophyll, and transform their leaves. There’s a natural cycle, a natural sequence. In the insect world, too, there’s a life cycle that takes its course in alignment with the changing of the seasons. It’s ongoing. And, it’s universal.

Cyclical.

Circular.

There’s a shape to the year.

As with the animals and the plants, it applies to us, too, of course.

We start off each year in Winter, and come back around the circle, lapping around the seasons, with a return back into Winter, and the start of another year.  You may also think of the seasons in terms of quarters, each season representing one-fourth of the year.   (See kids, it IS helpful to know at least a little math (grin)!)

So, for this year, we’re three-quarters’ of the way in! As with a harvest, it’s a good time to reflect and “take stock.” It’s also a good time to envision what you desire to continue or to have more fully flourish, for the remainder of the year. We’re heading into and leaning into the home stretch!

Transitions

Rhythm

Flow

From one to the next

A progressing

A stepping back

Surveying

A returning

Begin again

YIELDS of the FIELDS

From within your own life, which of the “the fruits of your labor” from the past few months have come forward? Autumn’s harvest time is an ideal space from which to appreciate and partake in the blessings that abound, and that BELONG to YOU! Correspondingly, take a moment to reflect and decide — which ones would you like to let go, to release — to allow to die out, as they no longer serve you at this moment in time?

TAKE STOCK

As with a shepherd’s flock or a farmer’s field, this time of year, I invite you to take an inventory – an accounting, of your own life.   From where you started your year, what desires have you been nurturing, watering, and tending to? Where have you directed your devotion and care? Which desires have you perhaps been neglecting?

Which of your “crops” did well, and really flourished? Were there some that produced abundant fruit? In contrast, which ones did not fare so well? Was there an adverse change in conditions along the way? Were there unforeseen storms that may have wreaked havoc with your field? If so, how did you respond? Going forward, are there adjustments you can can and would like to make?

For me, my year as you may recall started with bringing into fruition and to you, the first installment of Soul Notes, and this blog. I’ve been fulfilling my heart’s desire to bring this to you on or near the New Moon and Full Moon each moon cycle since January. I consider it an honor and a privilege to share these posts with you, and to bring forward my version of some of the wise teachings I’ve received from my mentors and from other influences I’ve sought out and benefited from during my spiritual journey.

Another of my heart’s desires this year has been to step into my role as a ceremonialist. Holding sacred space and conducting in-person women’s circles in and near my home, along with conducting Full Moon “Ceremonies in the Park” allows me to bring this desire out into the physical realm. During this time of ever-evolving technology, even with all its benefits, I also relish the sublime opportunity to connect person-to-person and to be in contact with the Earth and the natural world!

This year, I also held a Summer Solstice ceremony and celebration at my home. During that time, at the “mid-year mark,” we each set into motion our intentions and sacred commitments for the second half of the year. Three months later, I have revisited those intentions. I invite you to do so, too.

 

 

Growth Cycles

Birth

Rebirth

Annuals

Perennials

 

SEASONS OF THE YEAR ~ SEASONS OF YOUR LIFE

As with the seasons of the year, it’s helpful periodically to take stock of your lifetime journey as well. Reflect. Evaluate. Surmise. Where are you in the seasons of your life? Are you ready to embark on a new chapter?

Allow your desires really, truly, FULLY to express themselves. If you’re feeling the inclination, the yearning, the pull to explore some “next steps” in this season of your life, in honor of your true desires, I wholeheartedly support you! Explore. Set out on the grand adventure. Dare to desire, and desire some more. Along the way, seek out a trusted guide. TURN ON YOUR SOUL. It’s time for a BIG let-go and let’s GO!

 

For your consideration:

Did you make intentions at the beginning of the year? Or, at the mid-year mark? (Or, even if perhaps you didn’t, I encourage you to take time to set some in motion now.)

As you survey your year, what do you notice? What has unfolded? What would you like to continue? What would you like to release? You get to decide. Choose, with confidence.

Okay, your turn:

Where are you at this point in your year? Take stock of your own personal growth. An accounting. An inventory. And, share what has come up for you.

I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the Comments section, below. Soul-to-soul!

© 2015 Lori A. Noonan. All Rights Reserved.