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“Embracing the paradox that we simultaneously are and are not our story is precisely what enables us to keep writing new ones. My story about the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me. Of course, I sometimes spiral back into trauma; unlike the self-help pundits who say it’s possible to simply let go of the old hurts by cleansing them with a dose of love and light. I know that even as the impact fades, this experience is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

That said, healing is not a linear journey. Old trauma is wrapped up in the fabric of the new stories I’ve created for myself, and the resulting pattern is not nice and clean and neat. In fact, the deeper we all go, the messier and more chaotic it will get. It is the contrasting loops of darkness and light, life and death, defeat and triumph, that make the human story such a compelling and gorgeous one…”

 

-Kelly McNelis

(~an excerpt from ‘Women for One’ founder Kelly McNelis’s new book, ‘Your Messy Brilliance’)

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A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING -Jeff Foster

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A PRAYER FOR THE LIVING
Life,
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don’t spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
Amen.
Jeff Foster

The Beauty of No -Jeff Foster

 

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THE BEAUTY OF A ‘NO’

“On the Tree of Life
there are two birds, fast friends.
One bird eats the fruit of the Tree; 
the other bird, not eating,
watches…”
– The Rig Veda

It is good to stay open to feedback from others, to listen to those who disagree with you. To remain open to alternative viewpoints. To try seeing things through someone else’s eyes, even if you don’t agree with their perspective or conclusion in the end.

But when they cross a line and move from intelligent disagreement and constructive feedback to attack and insult, when they belittle and shame you and remain unwilling to meet, to engage and talk things through, that is something very different indeed.

Of course, you could argue that their behaviour is ‘allowed’, since it is an expression life too. Of course it is. But at the same time, your ‘no’ is also an expression of life! Your boundaries are also completely sacred!

Standing in your power, speaking up for your truth, honouring your feelings and needs – this is also a movement of the Divine.

A clear and direct ‘no’ to abuse, to name-calling and objectification, is not weakness but the ultimate courageous act of self-love. The ‘no’ honours life deeply. It has no venom in it – it is quite compassionate in its essence. It does not shame the other but informs them. It does not attack but protects. It is fire but it does not throw stones.

To the one receiving the ‘no’, it may not feel like compassion! It may feel like rejection and abandonment. It may feel like the opposite of love. It may itself feel like abuse. But perhaps, with time and deep reflection, one day they will understand. Who knows.

We can only speak our truth Now, hopefully in as compassionate a way as possible, and move on. And trust the process. And breathe through our feelings. And remain open to the other’s tender heart, whilst protecting our precious, vulnerable human selves.

Sometimes a ‘no’ is really a great big YES to life!

– Jeff Foster

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‘She has been feeling it for awhile – that sense of awaking. There is a gentle rage simmering inside her, and it is getting stronger by the day. She will hold it close to her – she will nurture it and let it grow. She won’t let anyone take it away from her. It is her rocket fuel and finally, she is going places. She can feel it down to her very core – this is her time. She will not only climb mountains – she will move them too.’
Lang Leav, The Universe of Us

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“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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‘Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for
teaching you how to stand up
on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for
teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for
teaching you courage to
overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.’

-Jackson Kiddard

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‘Excessive analysis perpetuates emotional paralysis. You cannot heal and resolve your emotional material with your mind. Your emotional material does not evaporate because you watch it. You can only heal your heart with your heart. The mind is the great divider- the heart is the great connector. When it opens, healing happens…’ -Jeff Brown

YOU ARE WILD NOW By Jeff Foster

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‘Sometimes you are walking alone, and it is late, and you are lost once again in the dream of past and future, of yesterdays lost and tomorrows unlived, of choices to be made or not made, of words to be spoken or left unspoken. Yesterday’s enlightenment feels a million miles away, and the spiritual clarity you thought you had has faded into the evening. Now, there is only the sound of footsteps on a cold pavement, the rustling of trees before sleep, the naked glow of orange streetlamps, and a deep melancholy burning inside. You are out of time, out of body, finding your home in neither form nor the formless. Perhaps you are the only one of your species on the planet. Perhaps you do not even exist at all. Perhaps this is the price you pay for awakening, for your commitment to opening your heart to everything, this never ceasing questioning of everything solid, this abandonment of every single reference point.

And suddenly you remember: this too is life! For whatever reason, you turn towards your present experience, you hold it again the way a mother holds her new-born baby. You focus on what you have, not what you have lost; what you see, not what you may never see again. Your solitude is sacred, you remember, your doubts are nothing less than holy, the evening breeze on your cheeks is a caress, a kiss, not a block to some imagined future. It is okay to feel the way you feel. It is okay to feel a little broken by life. It is okay to touch the depths in yourself. It is okay to forget, and to remember, to remember and to forget. All movements are held in the vastness, as the ground holds the trees, as the sky holds the planet, as the house holds the family, as the story of your life is held in pristine awareness on this night of all nights. Even your disconnection is so damn connected. There is something humbling about never being able to come to a conclusion, something touching in your raw vulnerability to the evening, the way you are moved by everything now, your sensitivity to even the subtlest movement of consciousness, your heart that cannot be closed.

You vow to never lose your love for these evenings. They have brought you so much.

Presence is not a destination, friend, it is the ground.

You are wild now, and unbound.’

– Jeff Foster

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‘When a feeling of sadness, despair, or anger arises, we should stop what we are doing in order to go home to ourselves and take care. We can sit or lie down and begin to practice mindful breathing. The daily practice of breathing can be very helpful. A strong emotion is like a storm, and when a storm is about to arrive, we should prepare so we can cope with it. We should not dwell on the level of our head and our thinking but bring all our attention down to the level of our abdomen. We may practice mindful breathing and become aware of the rise and fall of our abdomen. Breathing in, rising; breathing out, falling. Rising, falling. We stop all the thinking because thinking can make the emotion stronger.

We should be aware that an emotion is only an emotion; it arrives, stays for some time, and then passes, just like a storm. We should not die just because of one emotion. We should remind young people about this. We are much more than our emotions, and we can take care of them whether we are feeling anger or despair. We don’t think anymore, we just focus 100 percent of our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen and in that moment we are safe. Our emotion may last five or ten minutes but if we continue to breathe in and out, we will be safe, because mindfulness is protecting us. Mindfulness is the Buddha in us, helping us practice belly breathing…

We are like a tree during a storm. If you look at the top of a tree, you may have the impression that the tree can be blown away or that the branches can be broken anytime, but if you direct your attention to the trunk of the tree and become aware that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil, then you see the solidity of the tree. The mind is the top of the tree, so don’t dwell there; bring your mind down to the trunk. The abdomen is the trunk, so stick to it, practice mindful, deep breathing, and after that the emotion will pass. When you have survived one emotion, you know that next time a strong emotion arises, you will survive again. But don’t wait for the next strong emotion to practice. It is important that you practice deep, mindful breathing every day.’

– Thich Nhat Hanh