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Archive for the ‘Exercises and Inquiries’ Category

I noticed a Dark-eyed Junco sitting on the table in a corner of my garden. Junco’s are common here, no big deal and still delightful, but this one was courageous. He was not about to move even as I stepped outside to get a better look, though he did keep an eye on my every move. Then, I saw why he was determined to keep his post. A female, foraging for seeds on the driveway, appeared from under my car. With him keeping guard, she had no need to be wary. When he gave the signal, they both took flight to the shelter of the nearest tree limb.

Dark Eyed Junco - copyright (c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh

Dark-Eyed Junco (c) Kathy J Loh

This exquisitely represents the masculine and feminine principles to me. Not as in male and female gender, but as in the yin and the yang that makes the whole of each of us and all that is. The wild feminine dances while the masculine creates and holds the container. What is the water without the shore?

Spring’s return is a delightful time. The first butterflies emerge and dance with the wind. Wildflowers burst forth, seemingly and sometimes truly, overnight. The evening air is filled with the most delicious fragrances, my favorite being jasmine.

I’ve noticed the squirrels again. After months of gathering acorns, they seemed to disappear. Now, one has returned to its commuter route; feeding young in the nest? The first quail have appeared as well. Like the male Junco, the male quail also serves as a reliable sentry for the female and her chicks.

At the turn of the year, I wrote about the conflicting energies of robust New Year’s resolutions, astronomical events and seasonal cycles. While we experience a sense of new beginnings on the first of the year, it is mostly because we replace one calendar on the wall with another and we make a big deal of it with parties and a big ball in NYC that drops at midnight.

Winter is a time of rest, hibernation, integration. It is a feminine season and its element is water. Our energy is in retreat.

Spring brings in the masculine energy of fire. Everything wants to burst forth: chicks from eggs, butterflies from chrysalis, buds from branches, blossoms from stems, even us from our houses. The sun calls and the world responds.

This is the season when the energy to make changes, to transmute our realities, is most powerful. At this equinox, the dark watery feminine meets the active fire-y masculine and a new creative wave is unleashed. It’s where polar opposites meet and create the new way.  It is a time of birth and rebirth.

If we had intentions at the New Year that seem to have gone astray, we can likely revisit them now with much more success. As everything bursts forth, so does our enthusiasm. We now have the heart to be disciples to that which we most desire to create and that is the true essence of discipline.  We become the sentries to our own creative dancer.

The Spring equinox (in the northern hemisphere) occurs at 10:32 am PDT on Saturday March 20, 2010. At that point, we will be at a midpoint between the shortest and the longest days of the year; the balance of dark and light.

The entire time I’ve been writing this post, butterflies have been riding the waves of the breeze, surfing past my window. I take it as a sign. I’m not going to list, in bullet-point fashion, how to create your Spring Equinox Ceremony or ways to creatively magnify your intentions.

What I do suggest is that we all revisit what it is we want from life and what we want to bring to it.

What will have you dance like butterflies, surf like dolphins, soar like hawks?  Bring your brilliant masculine energy to create the container, the sentry, together with the wild creative feminine energy in you to make it happen. Imagine what becomes available when discipline and creativity play together.

Oh, and maybe clean out your garage and dawdle* a lot –   not necessarily in that order.

Postcript:

Just now, I saw a hawk land in the redwood across the way and I stepped outside to prepare to photograph it in flight, should it choose to circle nearer and overhead. As I waited, I became distracted by a small black and orange caterpillar crawling up the wall. Since I’d taken a little movie of one at my front door about an hour ago, I thought I’d get a couple of still shots of this one. When I zoomed in, I was surprised to find that a tiny spider was furiously working its magic thread between the caterpillar and the wall.

I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same caterpillar. Had it traveled all this distance and found the right place to go into metamorphic goo only to become a banquet for a spider?

Let’s play with the Mystery Message here (and if you want more like this, sign up to receive Mystery Messages from me).

Using Ted Andrew’s book  Animal Speak for quick access to symbolism of these two creatures:

Butterfly (and thus, caterpillar) is about transmutation and the dance of joy.

Spider is about creativity and the weaving of fate.

These questions arise for me and I invite you to create more:

What will have you allow your creative urge to make a meal of the old you, your old stories and old identities, so that you may be transformed into one whose heart is light as a feather and dances for joy?

How might you be allowing the web of fate and the sting of life events dictate who you think you are and prevent you from becoming the joyful passionate being you were born to be?

Copyright(c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh -

Caterpillar and Spider

Post – postscript

I just went back out to check on the caterpillar-spider drama. Neither was anywhere to be found. Ten minutes gone and it was as if the event never happened. Wow – now that’s a mystery in and of itself. Then, to top it off, I saw a walking stick. That’s a rare sighting for me. This one was so small and slim it looked like a fiber shred. Wow – another delight delivered from the Mystery. How can I not travel life with eyes wide open? How can I not dance for joy?

Copyright © March 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

* For more posts on dawdling, click on “dawdling” in the cloud to the right or locate dawdling under categories.

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Ever had a brain lift? I make up that it’s like a face lift, but instead of erasing wrinkles, it erases beliefs.

I felt a wire in my brain snap during a coaching call with my coach, Jeanine Mancusi, the other day.  She’d asked about my ideas as to why my ex-husband went on to have an apparently happy life, the new young wife, dogs, etc., when he had been the “bad guy ” who had never behaved like he really wanted to be married to begin with. I made up all kinds of amateur analyses about it, finally admitting I didn’t really know and I felt I never would, because I’m not in his head. I’m not even in his life anymore.

Then she said something that hit me like Cher’s “snap out of it” slap in Nicholas Cage’s face in Moonstruck. She said:

“He chose to be happy.”

It was as if my brain went on red alert and all thinking had to be shut down in order to handle some sudden voltage. This is what it feels like when an illusion is pierced by the truth.

Uhm….it’s that simple? It’s that simple.

I was totally energized when we hung up. I got straight to work doing the things I’ve been resisting for months. As I marveled about the new burst of energy, I also mused and began to unravel, further, the tapestry of this belief I’d been holding. Actually, it’s the belief that was holding me….hostage.

The warp and weave of this particular tapestry comprised such notions as:

If you are good, you will be rewarded with happiness.

If you are bad, you will be punished and happiness will be withheld.

People who are bad and do bad things don’t deserve to be happy.

People who are good and do good things deserve to be happy.

People who do bad things and are still happy are cheating.

Now, how old do you think the person was who thought all of that up? It’s been hard-wired  in my brain for a very long time.

Suddenly, I understood the strange sense I have had all these years of waiting for the good news, the money, the soulmate to arrive. I have been awaiting, patiently and sometimes not so patiently, my reward for good behavior.

Here’s the catch: I’ll never be good enough. (Notice the collapse between inherent goodness and good behavior.) There’s always a thought or action that will land me in the penalty box in the game of life. If I sprain my ankle, I make an assumption (with the old belief) that I must not have been good enough. You know, like that old saying: if you bite your tongue you must’ve been thinking something bad about someone.

Even more wicked is this part: If anyone else in the world is unhappy (especially innocent people) then I can’t be happy because to do so would be in very poor form. It would be selfish and taking more than my share. (As you know, there is only so much happiness to go around!) A good girl learns to share. If I was happy and taking more than my share while others were unhappy then I would be a bad person and you know where that gets me….back into the penalty box; losing points and losing ground in my pursuit of happiness.

So, as humans will, I’d created an elaborate scheme for earning happiness which has to do with putting myself though lessons of unhappiness to grow myself and become the better, more deserving person and thus closer to receiving the reward of happiness.  It’s kind of like working really hard and doing extra credit homework for the A, or striving for sainthood.

Then all of a sudden, la-dee-da, along comes the realization that anyone, regardless of good or bad, (A student or F student), deserving or undeserving, hard worker or lazy, gets to choose to be happy just because they want to.

WTF? That sucks! And WOW you mean?

The waiting is over, sweetheart!

Right here, right now, I can decide to be happy and I don’t have to do anything to earn it, to pay for it, to coax it, to deserve it. All I’ve got to do is choose. The entire tapestry of the old belief structure had been pulled apart, string by string and there is nothing substantial to sustain it anymore.

3_3_2010

Perspective (c) K J Loh

A hawk is circling skyward outside my window as I write this. It reminds me to note that I covered this territory in this blog last October.  It’s no straight line, this evolution of consciousness. More like a spiral; each time we rise higher on the current,  getting an ever broader perspective. At the same time, like the hawk, able to see the finest details with clarity.

My resistance to doing what I wanted to do (written about in the two previous posts) was generated by several factors:

Rebellion: I’d been earning for a very long time and I was tired of showing up and not getting rewarded.

A holding pattern:  I’m waiting for my reward. Surely it will arrive any day now. (The scary thing about this notion is that I could easily wait myself into the grave.)

Indecisiveness: I didn’t know for sure what action or activity would get me the most points toward happiness.  I mean, if I’m trying to earn points then there must be some scoring scale for various activities, right? (Some of you might recognize this one as wanting to know if you are on the right path, doing the right thing.)

As I went to sleep that night, I reflected on this thought:

My life is a grand adventure!

I thought of all the adventures I’ve had so far. I was able to see the amazing life I’ve had. Yes, there have been tough times, but for the most part, I’ve lived a privileged and wildly creative life. I’ve participated in many amazing activities, taken fabulous journeys. Even the painful times made complete sense as part of the whole vista (a window I’ve peered through before).

I cried for the sheer Beauty of the Adventure.

I am currently at a point in my life where I can go anywhere and do anything I want. I have a blank canvas before me. I can work from anywhere as long as I have a phone. I have no pets, no spouse or mortgage to worry about.  I’ve dreamed of having this blank canvas for as long as I can remember.

What is the adventure I want initiate now?

As a coach, and a visionary, I am used to taking people and myself through the visioning process. I have lost my interest in visioning the places, people and activities many years ahead.

I am more interested in visioning who I am being come whatever may. I am enchanted by the Mystery. I don’t want to plot my course so much as dance with it. I don’t need a GPS, I just need my dancing shoes.

Whether or not someone else is happy will no longer be the gauge by which I measure the happiness available to me.

Happiness is not a competition. (Neither for that matter is unhappiness, but that’s another subject.)

My coach once asked me “Does Kathy get to be happy?”

I now ask you the same question: Do you get to be happy?

Notice, as you reflect upon your answer:

Any discomfort in your body

Any conditions you place upon it

What you make up about why or why not

Does everyone else in your life and in this world get to be happy?

Why or why not? What are the rules and conditions that dictate your answer?

If you are someone who says you don’t know what you want, consider that you do know what you want, but you don’t think you get to have it. Why not?

Ok now, who wants to go dancing in the Mystery with me?

Copyright (c) March 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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In my last post “Birthing New Beginnings,” I wrote of my resistance to manifesting my ideas into form. When I pondered the resistance, I discovered I had a fear of revisiting the deep trough of sadness I’d experienced a few years back in the form of a broken heart. Here is the continuation of that contemplation.

There is no long story to this. It’s pretty simple really in all its complexity. The bottom line is: I am not afraid of a broken heart. The breaking of my heart is not what caused my protracted misery. What I realize is that my own attachment to the misery, my attachment to the people, story, identity I did not want to release, my refusal to leave the chrysalis and emerge anew was what caused my pain.

There is this voice within that is not so pleasant. Some call it a gremlin, saboteur or inner critic. Others call it the negative ego or distorted voice. Whatever we call it, it still stinks. It is sly, conniving, a shape-shifter and, at times, downright malicious. I have experienced this voice as an energy that comes over me.

I remember sitting at the breakfast counter in a house I was staying in and feeling this energy pummeling me. I was in pain. I was crying. I felt myself a total victim to it. My whole body was contracted and, though I knew it would pass, for the moment I was under its spell.

I remember another time, just getting ready to go to sleep at a beautiful retreat in Punta Mita, Mexico. I could feel the energy hovering over me, ready to come in for the attack. I simply said “No, not this time.” The energy left and I drifted off to a deep and peaceful sleep. It was a pivotal moment for me; one in which I had finally stood up to my negative ego.

Moon 8_28_09

(c) Kathy J Loh

Most days, if the negative ego begins to speak to me, I hear it, I recognize it, but I don’t fall under its spell. The only spells I experience are the ones I am so under that I don’t even know it. I am a fish in the waters of the spell. Others may be able to see it, but I don’t, until I do.

This is where contemplation becomes essential. My daily sessions of going within are intended to help me awaken more and more to truth and release myself from the grip of delusion and illusion.

Once I had made the distinction between fearing a broken heart (a normal rite of passage in life) and wallowing in it because of attachments and shadowy archetype reactions, I was able to stumble upon a gem of enlightenment. I say stumble upon, because I was actually out hiking when it hit me and I stopped in my tracks and gasped out loud.

I am not afraid of a broken heart. I am not even afraid of becoming attached to my sadness. What I am afraid of, that which is trying to spook me, is my own self-loathing. I saw it. My negative ego is powerful only in direct proportion to my own self-loathing and my willingness to be mean to myself.

(note: I notice that after I wrote that last sentence, I got up and went to do a load of laundry. It’s not easy sitting with the fact that I have and experience self-loathing.)

It was my delusions of worthlessness, and of being unlovable that took me down.  Those delusions had me grasping for identities, people and things to earn and somehow give to me worth and love. I was under the horrific notion that I could fill those needs out there in people, things and doings.  (Yes, we all do it and that does not make it any less horrific.) It’s a downward spiral. Once the negative ego had me, the self-loathing led to more of the same.

What stopped me in my tracks was not so much the discovery of the truth beneath the ruse, but the simultaneous liberation that accompanied it. I don’t loathe myself anymore, not like that. I don’t despise myself so much that I am willing to tolerate days of misery bullied by my negative ego.

For over a year, I have faithfully practiced the “I Love You” exercise I made up and wrote about in an earlier post. I have found and used my nurturing parent voice. (thanks to Lucid Living) I have rewritten my story, forgiven others and most importantly, myself. In truth, my heart has cracked as widely open with joy as it has with pain.

I love myself and this life I am living. And I trust myself. This is the crux of the discovery.

I trust myself not to create protracted pain for myself from a place of self-loathing.

I trust myself to laugh at my foibles, to lean into the support of friends and unseen allies.

I trust myself to be nurturing, kind and loving to myself and others.

I trust myself to speak honestly to others and myself and to be compassionate rather than rescuing or demeaning.

I’m still on that journey. I’m still learning and growing. There are more illusions to dispel. I trust myself every step of the way. If a big wind comes and knocks me sideways, I trust myself to love myself through it. I know I will find my footing again.

This is the celebration, the return at the end of my Hero’s Journey; this particular journey within the broader journey. Because I now know that I love and trust myself, I also celebrate, honor and respect myself. In so doing, I also celebrate, honor and respect others and all of life. I celebrate the miracle of life and the miracle that is me.  I am aware of the preciousness of life, of breath and the wonder of the human spirit.

This self-loathing piece is slippery. When I look in the mirror and I catch myself thinking mean things about how I’m aging, how my body is changing; when I look around my office and berate myself for the disorganization; I know I am being unkind. There are times when my desire to improve myself mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually, is not truly generated from love. It is born of a lack of self-acceptance, of conditional if-then love and comparing myself with others or with commercial standards.

Here’s how I can tell the difference.

If there is a resonance of self-loathing, I have resistance. A duality of imprisonment and over-indulgence takes shape in my behaviors. It shows up in statements that begin with words like “I must, I need, I should, I deserve, I’ve earned” and it feels really hard which leaves me feeling really entitled. My energy is depleted.

If I am celebrating the miracle of life and living, I have no resistance to taking exquisite care of myself in all of my practices be they mental, physical, spiritual or emotional. If I am loving myself, it feels clean, good, honest and true to exercise and eat right; to clean my home and even to say no to someone’s request of me.  My energy is replenished and vital.

I like to imagine consciousness having created each of us from an urge for a unique expression. Now, as that unique expression manifested into form, consciousness marvels at itself, through us and through our senses.

I choose to celebrate.

My mantra for the week has been to ask “How is this celebrating the miracle of me?”

I offer it to you as a practice:

How is this next action, this thought, these words you are about to speak celebrating the miracle of life and the miracle of you?

You are amazing!

copyright(c) February 2010, Kathy J Loh  All Rights Reserved

Put on your dancing shoes. Here’s a little song for you:

I’m Amazing by Keb’ Mo’ (Keep it Simple) (written by Keb’ Mo’ and Robbie Brooks) Samples on the site.

(sometimes the word “true” appears as “drue.”)


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I have a morning practice of journaling, pulling an angel card and meditation/contemplation. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal about the myriad of irritations that I’ve been experiencing, wondering “what’s the feedback?” What am I getting out of feeling so “put upon” that I continue to gather these small annoyances?

I decided to take it to meditation, but first I pulled an angel card for the day. Now, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it has evolved into something really amazing. The card almost always responds, in some way, to what I’ve just written. In addition, the cards right in front of and behind the card I pull (the wing cards) give me greater detail by way of the perspective they bring to the first card.

I opened the Healing with Angels card box and pulled out the deck. I noticed something in the bottom of the box. What’s this? A flea! A flea was in the angel card box. How did that get in there? I don’t have pets. (The dog I walk with belongs to my neighbor.) In my 4 years here, I’ve never seen a flea (and I would know if they were here because I’m highly allergic).

I tried to grab it to give it a good squeeze, but it hopped on to the side of the bed. I grabbed it again, but its beautifully evolved hard shell would not bend to my will. It jumped out from between my fingers and onto the carpet. I got out the vacuum and have no idea what kind of life that flea is or is not living now.

I went on to pull a card: Miracles (between Blessings and Guardian Angel)

Fleas are pretty amazing little creatures with barbed hairs that enable them to stick to animals like Velcro and they jump over 100 times their height. They even perform somersaults while leaping. They are hardy and they cause misery. It’s a miracle of creation, a miracle that it was in my angel card box.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and, at first glance, they may not appear to be miracles.

The angel card informs me:

“Miracles are occurring all around you right now. Begin to notice them, and you will experience even more miracles.”

Taking into account the shoulder cards, Blessings and Guardian Angel, I make up that miracles will be more visible to me when I count my blessings and accept the support of my Guardian Angels. I am blessed and I am not alone.

I am not seeing the miracles for the “fleas.”

When one itch arises, I think I have to flee.

When I see one flea, I think “oh no! It’s an invasion. They are going to overrun the place!”

Isn’t that just how I have been viewing the little irritations in my days lately? Stringing them together like beads, creating for myself a nice little choke-chain.  Trying to control everything and everyone and getting really angry when they won’t let me. I’m choking myself into isolation and insolation.

About the flea, I hear, “Remember, it came from The Mystery.”

Circumstances, too, often arise from The Mystery.

What if these circumstances, which I experience as annoying, are miracles?

Sunset Pond - trees, reflected

What's Real? (K J Loh)

In the ensuing meditation, I viewed my life from what I call the Angels’ perspective. (Those of you who get the Mystery Messages may be reminded, here, of the Merlin Hawk message.)

While holding myself as blessed and protected, I was able to see that what I get out of all this itching from the flea-like circumstances is an opportunity to suffer. Suffering supports my inner martyr. (Victim or martyr; choose your poison.) It allows me to blame, collect pity and sympathy, punish other people, throw temper tantrums, and a wide variety of other strategies to avoid taking responsibility for my life and my happiness. Basically, it is the perspective that the world is out to get me and I am bending over backwards to accommodate it, while never being able to have a day go the way I want it to. “Look at me! I’m covered in flea bites and it itches like crazy! How can you expect me to be happy?”

Here’s the kicker. My martyr voice tells me that taking responsibility will lead to suffering and struggle. It’s too hard!

Hello? Uhm…..isn’t that what martyr is doing? It’s causing me to struggle and suffer to avoid suffering and struggling. Huh?

The meditation/contemplation continued with many more insights around betrayal, anger, abandonment; all really juicy stuff. Suffice it to say, I found that all the people and circumstances were completely transformed when I transformed how I saw them.

I forgave myself for a long list of ways I twist what is into something to rail against. I took that choke-chain off. I saw my life on a big screen as it would be without martyr. I could not think it. I just sat and watched. It’s the same picture, but the feeling is different. I realized, I can’t get there through martyr. Suffering, trying to control and struggling will only lead to isolation, loneliness, and constriction. The point to martyr is to never get there anyway.

Suffering is highly over-rated. Struggling is highly over-rated.

Today’s angel card reminds me to open my eyes and see the miracles happening all around; those amazing events and people sent by The Mystery, which I’ve refused to see in order to support struggle, suffering and misery.

I can hold my goals and visions very tightly, like putting myself into lock-down. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of a vortex; a drain spiraling inward.

I can hold my goals and visions lightly, with love, trusting that The Mystery is friendly and helpful; honoring my priorities, being real and joyful; taking responsibility. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of an outwardly expansive release of energy. (I’m reminded of my Open Hands Open Heart post)

I’ve done a lot of work around martyr and victim. I’ve been through workshops and years of coaching. I know both intimately. Yet, I still find myself in retreat from responsibility at times and that gives martyr a toe-hold.

Awareness is a practice.

Here is an exercise to support your awareness practice:

For the next few days, listen to your inner voice and notice what it is saying about everything that happens to you and how others are treating you. Write it down. Become familiar with your “favorite” sayings. Then review your inner voice’s general perspective.  Is it supporting your happiness or feeding your misery?

Copyright © February 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Got a flea bugging you? Coaching helps you gain insight around the obstacles you create to your own happiness. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary consultation for anyone seriously considering hiring a coach. Email me at: kathyloh@coachkathy.com

Re: photo – that’s a pond, reflecting the trees and fence which is why they appear upside down.

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The other day, I emailed a great rant to a dear friend, Cynthia Morris. I titled it “snarky moment.” I was smiling and feeling mischievous as I wrote. I was removed enough from it all not to be the victim in search of rescue, or the martyr in search of pity. I was having a romping roll with anger in the ranting hayloft and it was fun!

Here’s the story.

We had a series of storms here. The power was out for three full days. We had the advantage of a generator that was on briefly each morning and evening; enough to keep the food from spoiling and enable us to run water and flush toilets. Our water comes from a well. The well requires a pump and that pump requires electricity.

I hunkered down when the power first went out. I figured I could easily be patient with the usual two hours of outage that comes with a big storm. I’d managed to make my coffee just in time. I dressed like I was going skiing; long underwear, turtle neck, hooded sweatshirt and down vest. I checked to be sure the land line phone worked for the day’s client calls.

I spent 60 minutes in the morning and the evening scanning email and other social media using my backup laptop battery and a dial-up internet service.  Slow, v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w. I spent time under the down comforter. I actually read a book. (insert gasp of amazement here)

By day two, I was feeling really pent up. The rain, hail, thunderstorms, and falling tree limbs kept me off the wooded trail. To get to a movie, I’d have to drive the long way around on back roads as the main road was blocked by downed trees and lines. My patience was wearing thin and the lemonade I was making from lemons tasted sickeningly sweet. I was gagging on calling this an adventure, a retreat, a learning experience.

By day three, righting my rant had stopped working for me altogether. I was hardly breathing anymore.  My creative muse had flown the coop. The ways in which I was making positive out of the negative just weren’t telling the whole truth. I wasn’t being patient or positive. I was tolerating. In my hunkering down, I gave lip service to “adventure,” but I was living imprisonment. Of course, I didn’t realize this until the power was restored.

Stormy skies Santa Cruz

Storm Brewing (K J Loh)

The first full day of electrical power was followed by the first full day of sunshine. My own power was returning as well and instead of righting my rant, I wrote it. I wrote it and fired it off to Cynthia. Being the wonderful friend and creative coach she is, she responded:

There is a lot of wisdom and a lot of clues in this rant. I’d go through it and highlight what you want and then, you know, make it happen.

Now rants are kind of funny. They generally don’t have a life beyond their explosive moment in time. So, I had to go back and read what I’d written. It was amazingly clear that there are some changes I need to make in my life and the clues in that email are undeniable. The changes loom ominous like the storm clouds. So, no wonder I didn’t own-up to them. No wonder, I wanted to make lemonade. I didn’t want to admit that a lot of the “lemons” on my tree of doings had pretty much gone rotten.

After reviewing the email, I went mud-stomping with Callie dog in the woods. The hilly terrain got my heart beating and I exclaimed to the trees with delight, “I’m breathing again!” That’s when I realized I was no saint of patience.  I’d been tolerating. I’d hunkered down with the power-outage (no small bit of symbolism there) and decided to wait until circumstances handed me an oxygen mask.

Tolerating is imprisonment. It makes the spirit hover safely beyond the body, makes the mind crazy and the heart numb. Tolerating is not patience.

Tolerating is breath that is just shallow enough to get by.

Patience allows for deep satisfying breaths.

Tolerating is fearful inaction, constriction.

Patience is love and expansiveness.

Tolerating is a wicked ingrown hair of control.

Patience is free flowing surrender.

Tolerating is self-negation and has very little to do with self-love though it may have a lot to do with what appears to be self-preservation.

When I highlighted the key points in my rant, I discovered what I was tolerating. I discovered what I want through what I don’t want. I discovered new possibilities. Now I must also discover my courage.

There’s a huge energetic surge that comes with a rant. That energetic surge can be a wave that trashes us or one we can ride all the way to the joyful shores of our vision. Whereas tolerating leads to utter exhaustion and possible wipeout, patience allows us to become one with the wave.

What are you tolerating?

Next time you feel a rant coming on, write it before you right it.

Suggested steps for writing, and thus, righting your rant:

  1. Create a safe space for you and others when you rant. It’s not about blame. It’s about what you are no longer willing to tolerate. It’s about your own discovery of what has to change and gathering the courage to create that change.
  2. Write your rant.
  3. Put it away for a bit and go for a walk, dance…get your body moving.
  4. Do something kind to/for you. Receive love, nurturance and warmth.
  5. Go back and review your rant. Underline or highlight the clues. They may be things you don’t want anymore, something that needs to be said, a new creative outlet that wants to be born.
  6. Re-form those clues into powerful intentions and write them out as such.
  7. Chart your plan of action.
  8. Gather your courage and your allies.
  9. Begin – one small step is all it takes, one small action. It may be a powerful request you make of another. It may be resigning a position. It may be clearing a space in the home for creative activities. It may be asking for help. Whatever it is, your power will be restored with each step.
Copyright © January 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Winter Solstice is Monday, December 21st. It is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Energetically, it is an excellent opportunity to mindfully and powerfully release old baggage that no longer serves us; habits, ways of thinking, dark and stuck energies. From the 21st December until the Summer Solstice in June, the length of the days, the number of minutes/hours of sunshine increases and we can play with that as expansive energy. That expansiveness can feed the seeds of intention that we plant now.

sun

Solstice (c) Kathy J Loh

There are three parts: preparation, ritual, follow-through. I am sharing my process with you in this post in hopes that it will give you inspiration, ideas and a gentle nudge.

Preparation

This morning, I did a meditation, specifically requesting assistance with my own Winter Solstice ritual, which I will hold on Monday. While the whole of Autumn has been a good time to prepare (as in gathering acorns) for this ritual, now is the time to determine what ritual will work for you and what you will want to do to be ready for it.

In my meditation, after calling in my unseen support team, I created a meeting of Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart. I let the format come to me intuitively. I’ve been working with the imagery of leaving bags on the platform and getting on the train to a chosen new destination with clients. So, it’s no surprise that this is what I worked with today.

Body was the first to speak, followed by Heart, Mind and finally Spirit. While I won’t reveal to you the specifics, I am happy to share the structure.

Create your metaphor or story-scape – set the stage

My stage was a train boarding platform, bags that were to be left behind, trains with destination signs to be filled in as part of the meditation.

Release –  What are you no longer willing to carry? What no longer serves you? What will you leave behind?

I asked:  What bags will you leave behind on the platform?

Intention – With what do I want to fill the energetic space I’m creating for myself? Where do I want to powerfully point myself?

I asked: Where is the train, you are boarding, headed?

Follow-through – What is one action I will take to give energetic support to my intention?

I asked: What is the first powerful action I will take on board that train?

Body, Heart, Mind and Spirit were interviewed one at a time and their responses were both expected and surprising. I love the imagery I got from Mind. Rather than the usual flood of words, I got the intended shift in the form of a symbol that unfolded into a new symbol.

I then asked them the same group of questions as an aligned whole. Again I got an image that showed how unaligned they’ve been and a symbol of what their new alignment would look like.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Ritual

Before closing this meeting of Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart, I asked for guidance in creating my ritual. Knowing I will be away and unable to enjoy the complete privacy of my own woods, I wanted it to be “portable.”

Again, I am sharing this with you to prompt your own creativity. You know best what will work for you.

Create the space

  • Make the space on your calendar
  • Give yourself the amount of privacy or community you want
  • Ground yourself and become present, align Body, Mind, Spirit, Heart
  • Call in whatever unseen help you like through invocation and invitation
  • Perhaps honor the Four Directions or Elements of Air, Water, Earth, Fire

Carry out the ritual

Release:

  • Do something that symbolically transmutes that which you are releasing (I am collecting rocks to represent the bags to be left behind and placing in them those things that BMSH told me they are releasing)
  • Let your body feel the heaviness or stuck-ness you are about to let go
  • Let your mind feel the constriction of holding on to the old thoughts associated with what you are now releasing.
  • Let your heart feel the gratitude for what this meant to you in the past and the sadness or joy of goodbye
  • Let your spirit feel the how trapped it has felt and the new expansiveness about to become available to it
  • Align into the whole of you and offer up these things you are letting go for transmutation. (I am going to listen to the rocks and let them tell me what to do. I’m not sure yet if I will be in the canyon or at the beach. If I’m at the beach, I will probably place them where the water can tug at the energies I left in the rocks and dissolve them into the great ocean.)
  • Know that you are not releasing negativity into the world if you ask the Divine and Nature to transmute them

Intention:

  • Take a moment to breathe and reground
  • In some way, demonstrate your commitment to your intentions: declare them out loud to your surroundings or to your circle, create a line you will step over, write them and put them in a jar on your altar, whatever comes to you. Perhaps you will get a melody to hum or your body will want to dance, walk, jump, skip.  (I plan to watch the sun set in the water)
  • Save room for being surprised by what shows up in the moment, a bit of improvisation and play

Closing:

  • Take a breath and reground
  • Let yourself be infused with the energy of the planting of this new seed of your powerful intention and know, have full faith that it will be.
  • Suggestion: say “This or something better, with harm to none. Let it be and so it is.”
  • Connect with your circle if you have friends with you
  • Thank the unseen friends/Divine/guides you called in at the beginning of your ritual

Follow-through

  • Remember to take the simple action steps that you set for yourself in your meditation/preparation
  • It might be helpful for you to create reminder notes and to ask friends for support
  • Don’t be surprised if some things in your physical reality, emotional, mental or spiritual health shift as a result of this
  • Keep a journal to track your follow-through and what shows up along the way

I made this up. It’s a synthesis of other rituals of which I’ve been a part. You can make up whatever you want. You might enjoy creating a collage, using a fire to burn the old, writing a letter about your intentions and putting it where you’ll find it in June or next December.

The point is the power of consciously and intentionally letting things go and making new choices, taking new actions that serve the life you want to be living. Doing so at any time is empowering. Doing so on Winter Solstice aligns you with the cycles of nature which brings a powerful boost to the process.

Co-Creating with the Universe

Pay attention and watch for signs. I have had repeatedly seen, read about, and come across red and white roses. I will make sure to have at least one of each with me on Dec 21st.

Resource

A great resource for solstice rituals and working with nature is Nature-Speak by Ted Andrews. It contains a wonderful visualization as well. I highly recommend it. (While searching for the link, I discovered that Ted passed away October 24th of this year. What a bounty of gifts he left in his wake!)

Many blessings to you, dear readers.  May you walk in Beauty.

There are so many things to celebrate in a year and one of the main ones is YOU. When you hire me as your personal coach, you can design the goal of the coaching to uniquely suit you. I have a number of clients who use our coaching to help them develop their spiritual practices, awaken in a way that transforms their lives and harness the wisdom of their own hearts. We invite soul and earth to assist us. Are you ready? Email me at kathyloh@coachkathy.com and we can have a conversation about how I might serve you and your beautiful life.

 Copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today’s post is a reprint of an article I wrote that was published in

Coaching Interactive in 2006.

Gratitude is an attitude of gratefulness or, as I love to play with it, great fullness. It derives from the Latin “gratus,” pleasing. Gratitude creates awareness for that which is pleasing us, even while we may be standing in the shadow of our unhappiness. It is receiving and luxuriating in the richness of the warm sunshine upon our shoulders, the breath-taking display of a starry night, and the lingering embrace with a loved one.

These joys are gratis (free of charge), from the Latin “gratia,” favor.  They do not require great busyness, doings and struggle. We do not have to earn them. We need only stop, notice and allow ourselves to receive them. It’s a simple exchange of energy; like breathing out and breathing in. We give the world around us our exquisite attention and it gives us great fullness.

As we move toward that which delights, we begin to give to ourselves those experiences which bring us joy. We give them to ourselves and in so doing, we create a foundation of trust in ourselves.

I want to be clear about something here. Not all receiving is blissful. The willingness to be with the depth of our grief or remorse is also opening to great fullness. For the moment, I am writing of the abundance we can receive from the world around us.

The Universe offers us a feast, a banquet of richness, and we come to the table starving and saying, “Oh, no thanks; I couldn’t really,” as if we have to check some internal gauge of worthiness. Sometimes, our hunger is so great that the ensuing downward emotional spiral and intensity of our internal dialogue can cause us to resist great fullness. We lose our heart.

In conversation, a friend and I waded into the murky waters of self-sabotage. He said, “Decent hard-working people deserve a good life.” I asked him, “Who would you say does not deserve a good life?” There followed a predictable list that included criminals, riff-raff, cheaters, abusers and the like. It soon came to light that holding the belief  that “decent hard-working people deserve a good life,” was self-sabotaging. He knew he was not a bad person, but he could never know for sure what was good enough or hard-working enough.

He then asked me, “Why do you think you deserve a good life?” and I responded,“Because I was born.” There followed a pregnant pause broken by hearty laughter and smiles all around. He exhaled. He began to experience his inherent worthiness; his great fullness.

It seems so much happens when we stop trying. Making an effort is antithetical to receiving. There is irony in our working to prove ourselves worthy of receiving abundance. When we think we have to earn, because we hold ourselves inherently unworthy, we create an even greater gap, an ever greater emptiness.  While we are striving, we are closing ourselves off to receiving. We are holding our breath. It is allowing and receiving that fills us up and has us experience our natural worth. When we are full we spill over and giving is the natural outcome. The paradigm becomes “allow and receive” rather than “prove and earn.”

fall leaves 2009

(c) Kathy J Loh

Consider this Buddhist Koan:

No thought for the hereafter

Is cherished by the wise.

For on this earth they truly live

Always in paradise.

Desire, from feeling lack, creates the polarity of abundance and scarcity; of paradise and hell. Without desire, the polarity disappears. Breathing in and breathing out is one breath.  What is abundance but great fullness?

When we deflect an acknowledgment, we simultaneously project and create, within ourselves, a greater void of worth. When we truly receive, we simultaneously give and create, within ourselves, an experience of love and self worth. We deflect by metaphorically holding our breath, with armor around our 4th and 3rd chakras. Practice dropping out of your head into these centers when you are receiving. Bring healing to the very centers that have taken so many painful hits over the years.

There are many practices for focusing on gratitude. People find it helpful to create a gratitude book in which they record all for which they are grateful. Others begin and end each day with simple prayers or meditations upon that for which they are thankful.

Here is a practice I created for receiving and experiencing great fullness, which I regularly assign to clients with wonderful results.

Take a walk.. You do not need a destination and you can do it anywhere. As you amble along, notice everything you are sensing. Say to yourself “I get to receive _____________” and start filling in the blank with everything you notice. I get to receive the song of that bird. I get to receive the warm breeze on my face. You don’t have to be name the bird. This is not about information. It’s about experience and sense. If you don’t have words for the experience, simply allow yourself to have it. I get to receive this. You might like to add “For no other reason than because I was born, I get to receive….”

See how many things you get to receive. You may find yourself greedy for more. You are at the Universe’s banquet table and you are saying “Yes, thank you!” You  exhaled and you are breathing in. I especially like saying “I get to receive” rather than “I am receiving” because it adds a sense of fun and gift. There is less opportunity for resistance (as in the “I-am-receiving-oh-no-you’re-not” dialog with the Saboteur)

And speaking of banquet tables, this Thanksgiving, take a moment to remove yourself from the conversation and  look at each person around the table, saying within, “I get to receive ___________ from ______.”  Fill in the blanks with something wonderful, quirky, even ordinary about,  but unique to, that person and their name. Let me know what happens for you.

This practice of receiving creates presence. Being present, in the now, we are free to experience the great fullness of life, something we deserve simply because we were born.

After all, the best things in life are gratis.

Copyright © June 2006 and November 2009, Kathy J Loh, all rights reserved

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