• being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Relax … Trust Your Life

    Documenting the journey. This is my Reflective Expression for Module Four of my Spiritual Direction Certification/Master’s of Pastoral Counseling Program … As I sit here reflecting on Module Four, tears stream down my face. So much is moving in me that is hard to articulate. The Divine has always been present in my life, more present than my own breath and the blood coursing through my veins, but for much of my life I never saw it that way. While I’ve always been spiritually inclined and attuned, at the same time something has often made me feel alone and at war with the world … ego? Throughout life, I’ve been driven to excel and I’ve often felt like it was up to me (and only me) to get where I wanted to go. I see now that God has always been directing my actions,…

  • being human,  breath,  embodiment,  learning

    How Human of Me

    I was texting with two of my besties this morning, sharing about my angst yesterday, the sadness I was feeling. I shared because I knew they would understand, empathize without feeling sorry. See me. Hear me. Feel my story. They both did. And we talked about a few other things … These human lives of ours are so big and monumental, while also dull and inconsequential, full of every emotion possible. At times I wonder how I endure it. Other times I recognize that enduring it isn’t the point. Enduring something is not fully living it. And living is what we’re called to do. My contemplative practice has taught me so much. Nothing is good or bad. Life isn’t black and white. It just is. And in my estimation, my job is to feel it all, and to learn to live into it all…

  • being human,  breath,  embodiment

    We Are Beloved

    Christmas Day on the 19.

    It is Christmas Day and I’m sitting here in a quiet house. I am upstairs; my husband is downstairs. Gifts have been exchanged. Santa loaded up all of the stockings. Mass was attended. Our only child is grown; we celebrated Christmas with my family last weekend, and last night was busy with J’s family. So we are now enjoying the quiet and the cozy warmth of our home while the dogs happily snore at our feet. Sounds lovely for a couple of introverts, right? Mostly it is. Except … A sadness creeps in. It’s a momentary sadness because life truly is SOOOO good. This sadness is a grieving of sorts … of years gone by … grieving the busyness of Christmas, the joy I felt watching my daughter’s joy on Christmas morning, being in her presence, feeling a completeness in my heart. There is…

  • being human,  breath,  embodiment,  learning

    Spirit vs. Ego

    The concept of True Self/false self is not new to me. As a long time yogi, I’ve been working on recognizing ego vs. spirit for a long time. One would think that I’d be ‘good at it’ by now, having mastered it, even. Not so much. But I am convinced that simply understanding the fact that they both exist (and are both necessary), is the first step in working my way through them. Since finding the work of the Center for Action and Contemplation, I’ve recognized many full-circle moments, events, concepts and situations. Having spent two and a half decades dedicating my life to yoga—practice and philosophy—it was quite a moment to recognize that many of the concepts I’d learned from yogic philosophy have direct correlations within the context of Christian Mysticism (as well as mysticism within other traditions).  The church (religion), for me,…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Metta & Growing in Compassion

    Metta (lovingkindness) practice is a tool to grow compassion, and compassion is absolutely essential to the work of spiritual guidance. Metta, it seems to me, is a deep internal practice that uses the mind, yet bypasses it entirely. It meshes the heart with the mind with the soul. As we repeat the short simple phrases for ourselves, our loved ones and those we don’t hold in high esteem, our hearts begin to incline toward a softer way of being; our hearts grow more compassionate. We cannot will compassion per se; it is more of a graced way of being. We can, however, practice metta to nurture its growth within us. What I sense from the readings and recordings is an intention on your part, as our guides and teachers, to help us grow contemplatively. The contemplative mind, to me, is non-dual. It is not…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Grace Changes Everything

    We need to be held in order to hold others. I am feeling this truth deep in my body today. Since returning hOMe from the first residential of my spiritual guidance certification training, this knowing has landed, first as an unexplainable sense of ease, followed by an unpacking of how I got here. For about the last week I’ve been living in wonder and awe. I’ve been journaling and writing but have been having a hard time understanding what exactly happened during the retreat that shifted inside. There is a definite before and after. Interestingly I also notice sabotage creeping in. Living intentionally is diligent lifelong work. I don’t have to will not buy into the old stories anymore. I don’t have to will not stay stuck. I can trust myself and my process and I can know that I am perfectly made in…

  • being human,  breath,  embodiment

    My God Story

    The first writing assignment for my spiritual direction/pastoral counseling program was to write and record my spiritual memoir. I loved the process; it made me hone my thoughts from minutia to big picture. I share here now for posterity’s sake: What an adventure my spiritual journey has been. I used to envy the self-assured ones, those with complete certitude in their faith (and lives, in general). My truth, however, is that I’ve always been a seeker. I used to run from this fact; it made me feel inadequate. But that was only a made-up story in my head, due in part to a dis-regulated nervous system that is finally healing—the main block that has kept me from trusting myself, God, and from living into my fullness. Today I have deep faith in God and recognize that everything has been divinely timed. My spiritual heritage…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Herbal Healing Journey

    Sometimes (most of the time), we don’t see ourselves clearly. I wonder if we are supposed to. We form our identities and sense of self through everything we experience, our surroundings, our people, our histories, genetics and many other things of life. No two people are alike and no two people should be treated the same for their ailments. My story relates to my nervous system and the ways it’s wreaked havoc on all of me. Long story short, I’ve only been diagnosed with hypertension and for over twenty years I’ve been taking a light dose of medication for this diagnosis. The problem? There is a much larger, more complex story around this diagnosis … my hypertension is the manifestation of a dis-regulated nervous system; it’s the end result of many other things going on inside. The problem is that my doctor (and most…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Embodied Truths

    One of my most treasured teachers, James Finley, often asks, “how has it come to be that you are the person you are today?” What an interesting question to ponder! How, exactly? How would you answer this question? Is it even a question we should try to answer? I have been a spiritual seeker my whole life, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for answers. So while there is truth to the phrase, “life is a journey, not a destination,” perhaps the same can be said of this and other existential questions: life is a mystery; our job is not to understand it all, but to simply to live it. As a student of the Living School, I would say that I am learning to live in these questions, but the deeper truth is that God is gracing me…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    A Sage Alchemy

    I have always loved my name, Heather; the thought that I was named after a flower is beautiful to me. But my mom didn’t have a middle name and she didn’t give one to either my brother or myself … I always wanted a middle name and through the years I’ve had friends give them to me: Ann, Marie, Michelle, but none stuck. When mom passed and my only daughter moved out of the house, the entire world as I knew it disappeared. Vanished. Hell, I vanished too. I’ve written about it plenty here so no need to belabor my three year ‘dark night of the soul,’ except to say that when one goes through such a thing, one either burns to the ground or allows that fire to transform them, to alchemize their being. This is the story of how I alchemized a…