meditation

Living Authentically During Transitions-- A Glimpse of My Life in Rebirth

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I am acutely aware that it is impossible to run from our pain, from what we fear and from what is unresolved within us; I’ve made it my way of life to examine inner resistance.

And for the past two months I have been spending time in Europe, intentionally choosing to be 5,000 miles away from where my marriage began to fall apart six months ago. Part fleeing from pain, part choosing to put myself in new and uncomfortable situations through which to face it. 

As I spend the end of the summer in the Scandinavian woods and fields, I am awaiting the final email from my lawyer telling me that my divorce is final with equal dread and excitement.  I find myself living my days in the quiet rhythm of reflection and self nourishment born from years of healing from chronic illness. And while this is a slow, liminal space, it is in no way stagnant. 

There is death and rebirth within me. The dark goddess Kali, Indian deity and patron saint of destruction and rebirth is walking with me, helping me to see and delineate the illusion in my life from the truth. 

Its always good to have help clearing away the old seeds that have no life left in them in order to focus your energy on the ones ripe for sprouting.

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I walk outside at the farm where I am staying, notebook, phone, cup of tea in my hand. I take a slow walk across the courtyard, past the barn, looking for a suitable spot for my meditation. A meditation traditionally done at 4:00 am, I think mildly to myself as I looked up at the 11 o’clock sunshine streaming across the grass. Well, we do what we can when we can. 

I find a spot up on a small hill, tucked into a grove of trees. Large boulders rest in the woods, growing and claiming space like the trees. These boulders have been here since the stone age and many of them have cultural significance, marking important places and community gathering points for people who lived 10,000 years ago. I settle myself next to a stone which reaches the height of my shoulder. As I my eyes close the shape of the stone disappears and instead I feel its presence, like a person sitting beside me.

I begin my chanting meditation. The feelings of anxiety and disconnect that have been prickling within me rise to the surface. I always get uneasy when I touch on unfamiliar soil and meet people who don’t know me well, These feelings arise and saying hello to them, I allow myself to feel a deeper fear and sadness that I have been repressing for a few days. Unworthiness. Fear of not belonging. It washes over me and I gently place my attention on each of my chakras as I begin my chanting meditation. 

I chant the mantra “Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wa He Guru” in a hypnotic rhythm, looping and vibrating the sound through each of the eight energy centers starting at the root of my body.

I realize that I have both a fear of being seen, of fully stepping into my creative power and self expression, and a fear of not being seen, a fear of never stepping into that creative power and potential. These fears represent the age old process of transformation: we are already blooming into the light but we are afraid of the journey into the unknown and letting go of the places we were once so familiar with.

I finish my meditation, and with my heart and mind soft, silent waves of encouragement and guidance wash over me as I bring my palms together at my heart.

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So much of my journey these past few months has been about claiming my worthiness, claiming my power to choose what I want, what I know feels right in the face of noise, chaos and distraction in the world.

I have felt shame around not being a “perfect yogi” who rises with the sun, even though my psyche and entire life revolves and functions around the principles of yoga. I have felt sadness and disappointment in my self for not having brought certain dreams and creations to fruition yet, even though I am still diligently pursuing and birthing these dreams according to their own timing. I have felt the self blame as I continue to heal and live with health challenges even though I am doing everything in my power to be healthy and vital.

Learning to thrive during transition periods requires remembering that we are the only ones who can define truth and integrity for ourselves. As the ones in the midst of transformation, our own souls voice is the strongest voice of guidance no matter how many mentors, friends or allies we have cheering us on.

We are never going to fully meet the expectations and projections of others, and if we use meeting those expectations as a measurement of our worthiness, achievement and success we won’t fulfill the highest outcome of our transformation and instead live lives which are empty of our true purpose and which only echo with a longing of our authentic, un-lived life.

I want to instill in you my (friend, family, client, or fellow human), the conviction that you are worthy, that despite changing inner and outer landscapes and circumstances you are brilliant. Your capacity for creating the world, work, art, change and peace in the world that you envision is only limited by your belief that you are not enough. 

Lets be real, transition is often messy and strange. Most of the time the journey is not glamorous. But it is rich, and finding that sustenance amidst change is more rewarding than anything in the world. It’s where we learn who we are, deeply, and for that I am grateful.

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Did you find these words helpful or inspiring? If so, please share them with the ones you love. Everything is better when shared. And let me know if these words resonated with you. Where in your life are you transitioning and have the opportunity to keep rising towards the light? I’d love to hear your personal insights.

With love

Anja

How to cleanse & detoxify the holistic way

On a fundamental level, detoxifying your body is about boundaries.

When your immune system is strong and organs of elimination and detox pathways are clear, your body is very capable of discerning 'this is not nourishing or regenerating, in fact, it may be very harmful' and does everything in its power to escort the substance out of the body.

For most of us in our daily lives, it is not quite so easy to discern when situations, people, foods and experiences might not be nourishing or adding to our well being, but this skill is crucial for our happiness and health.

The basic rule of detoxification is that when we are able to let go of what doesn't nourish us, we allow the things which do nourish us to take root in our lives and create health. It makes sense then that this is a constant ongoing process; we don't have to use extreme fasts and cleanses which list deprivation as their rule to achieve a temporary state balance.  Understanding and mastering the skills of gentle, daily detoxification can bring health in a more lasting way.

I recently listened to a lecture by Guru Singh where he said that living in this world is like walking through a smoke filled room: everyday you smell like smoke, even if you haven't been smoking. Thus it becomes necessary to take steps to clean away the mental, emotional and physical effects of this "smoke" every day.

The physical environmental toxins of our world today are many and unavoidable, and I believe we cannot truly release the physical toxins without simultaneously letting go of mental and emotional "toxins", too. 

We can eat organically, minimize all household chemical based cleaners, get amalgam dental fillings removed, eat less seafood, drink high quality drinking water and not buy food from plastic or aluminum, (and I recommend all of these things,) but even so, we are all naturally exposed tothat which does not nourish us on a molecular level every day. When we do not understand what doesn't serve us in other areas of our life, our physical efforts become less effective. Add to that a common genetic mutation which disallows proper phase II detoxification, (more on this in another post,)  and you have a recipe for disease.

As Mark Hyman puts it: "According to the nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group, the average newborn baby has 287 known toxins in his or her umbilical cord blood. If a newborn is exposed to that many toxins, imagine how many you have been exposed to in your life."

So what are some daily steps we can take to reduce and heal from toxicity physically, mentally, and emotionally?

Physically:

  1. Relieve your toxic burden. In addition to the previously mentioned steps to avoid toxicity, I always hold three to be of the utmost importance: stop drinking plastic bottled water and municipal town water, get rid of or avoid purchasing clothes or furniture made with flame retardants or formaldehyde and eat organic, preferably local food.
  2. Add "binders" to your diet. Binders are naturally occurring plant and mineral substances thatsoak up toxins in your body, and escort them out via the colon and kidneys. My favorite binders are Chlorella, (a form of fresh water algae), Bentonite clay, Zeolite clay, and Charcoal. Binders also absorb food and minerals, so be sure to take them away from meals and other supplements!
  3. Move your body. Running, walking, dancing, yoga or tai chi are all great ways to get your lymphatic system moving which releases the toxic burden on other organs which may be carrying a larger burden. It also helps stimulate the immune system and reduces stagnant energy and inflammation.

Mentally:

  1. Meditate. It doesn't matter what kind of meditation you practice, as long as you are allowing thoughts and sensations to arise, notice them objectively, and let them go. This is like cleaning your mental garbage can. The medically proven benefits of meditation range from increased grey matter in the brain and increased immune function, to reduced symptoms of IBS and lessening of anxiety and depression.
  2. Examine your beliefs. Our beliefs make up our world view, and how we perceive ourselves and others. Often we have inherited or created beliefs about ourselves and the world which do not nourish us and are not founded on any real truth. These beliefs in turn subconsciously create mental and emotional stress which can lead to inflammation in the body. To figure out what your subconscious belief about a situation might be, focus on a difficult emotion you are feeling in a stressful situation, and then work backwards by asking yourself, "What would I have to believe to be true, in order to feel the way I do in this situation? 

Emotionally:

  1. Express the difficult emotions. My teacher, Positive Psychologist and Harvard professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar gives the analogy of all emotions running through a pipe like water. Emotions are neither positive or negative, they simply are, so when we limit ourselves from feeling and expressing difficult or "negative" emotions, we inadvertently clog the pipe and suppress our positive emotions and limit our ability to feel and express joy. The deeper you go into the dark, the more beautiful is the light.
  2. Make art. Create something. Paint, draw, make up a song or dance and let it be driven by your emotion. Physically creating something with either pleasant or unpleasant emotions as fuel, allows us to externalize them and see them in a different light. This gives us a fresh perspective and shows us how to channel emotions creatively.
  3. Dialogue. Whenever you experience a repetitive emotion which is uncomfortable or restricting, create an inner dialogue with the emotion through your body. Notice where in your body the emotion resides, what texture, color and temperature it is. As you go deeper into the subtle energy of your body, ask the emotion why it is there, and what it needs to be resolved and to feel safe, seen and appreciated. This is a powerful practice which generates self compassion and emotional resilience. If practiced often it can enhance your self- healing abilities.

When we learn how to eliminate the toxins from our body, work with our emotions instead of against them, and clean the slate of the mind in a step by step way, we lay the foundation for a long and healthy life.

-Anja

P. S Have you tried any of these practices? What do you naturally do to reduce your toxic load? Leave a comment or send me a message and let me know!