It has been a while since I have written a new post. Many months, in fact.
These have been intense months for me. Deeply fulfilling and challenging at the same time. Filled with gigantic bursts of creativity, much needed rest, healing play, and many sweet triumphant moments with people I love.
As Spring emerges in all her glory, I am yearning to share the fresh insights that have been percolating so ferociously through my heart and mind in recent months.
For many people the last year has been a time of intense anxiety related to personal and global challenges. Some of this stress has been related to events and circumstances that are far out of our control.
Fires, floods and random shootings have dominated our newsfeeds here in California. And hit way too close to home for many. Several friends lost everything they owned in the recent fires. A meditation center where I once lived and worked partially burned. A client’s family was deeply traumatized by the tragedy that unfolded in the Las Vegas shooting.
Global political drama ramps up and down, and then up again, right along with the volatile financial markets. Just as the stress of one event starts to subside, another wave of uncertainty rolls through our collective awareness.
There has been little time to calm down and get back to feeling calm, safe, and “normal” again before the next tragedy hits.
Even if all is well in your own life, the collective anxiety ripples through all of our psyches.
After these times of collective trauma, if the needed healing and calm doesn’t happen, our nervous systems stay in a perpetual state of high alert. This often happens on a subtle level we might not even recognize. It can show up as stress, overwhelm, sleep issues, and fatigue.
When we are faced with a challenging situation, our “fight, flight or freeze” response is triggered. We go into high alert. This happens when our well being or safety are threatened in some way.
The threat can be physical or emotional, real or imagined, in your own home or around the globe.
The “fight, flight or freeze” response is part of a built-in survival mechanism that helps us deal with threatening situations. A part of the brain called the amygdala sounds the danger alarm. This activates a whole host of physical and emotional responses that are designed to empowered us to meet the perceived threat head on. And hopefully, come out triumphant.
We’ve all know what this “fight, flight or freeze” response feels like…. rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, and the dry mouth that comes with the rush of adrenalin. Our breathing accelerates and digestion slows as the hormonal mix of our whole system rapidly changes. Cortisol, a powerful stress hormone, has its way with us. These physical changes are meant to give us the heightened awareness and abilities needed to deal with the threat at hand.
The problem emerges when we are regularly in situations where we feel our well being or survival are threatened. Maybe it is the boss who demands too much from you, or maybe it is ongoing financial pressure. Maybe you get trigger by challenges in your relationship, or by health issues.
A combination of stressful situations can easily push us over the edge. Whatever the catalysts, when you go into chronic “fight, flight or freeze” it doesn’t feel good…
You feel anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed. Fragmented, with a racing mind. Haunted by the never ending TO DO list that consumes every free moment.
You may toss and turn at night… waking up in the morning as tired as you were the night before.
You need a carb rush to get through that afternoon slump. You drink too much coffee to get it all done. And then drink wine to calm it all down.
You're just trying to get through the day intact… hoping for happy, settling for productive.
We’ve all had those kind of days.
The problem is when the anxious days turn into stressed out weeks, and even months.
Logically, even if you know you are safe and have survived whatever seemed to be so threatening, your nervous system stays on alert unless it is reset.
We become hyper-vigilant, ready to fend off any perceived threat to our well being and survival. In these challenging times it is easy to get caught in a near constant state of fear and uncertainty.
Until you crash and burn.
Sometime the people you love hold you up and love you up until the needed relaxation and rewiring can happen. But usually, the people you love suffer right along with you.
Here is the good news…
In recent years, a tremendous amount of research has been done on the brain and nervous system. As a result of this leading edge research, we have a deeper understand of how these survival mechanisms can be managed in ways that foster greater well being and happiness.
Many highly effective techniques have been developed that can rapidly reset your nervous system to calm.
These practices, which I often do with my clients, can be done in as little as 15 minutes. They rapidly clear and reset your autonomic nervous system to safe mode. Then you can naturally and appropriately respond in the present moment with more love, creativity, and awareness.
I'm sharing some Embodiment Practices for clearing trauma and emotions from your body, brain, and nervous system. Through these practices, I am going to teach you how to reset your system to calm, even in the midst of stressful times, personal or global. You can access them by clicking the button below.
Until then… take a deep breath, wiggle your toes, and feel your feet on the floor. Pause and simply be aware of your breath for a moment or two. Even one conscious breath can begin to turn your nervous system towards calm, and help you find your happy place… anytime, anywhere.
Heartbreaking loss is one of the most painful experiences of being human.
When you’re heartbroken, suddenly the world doesn't feel quite as safe anymore. Your trust in the goodness of life waivers. The connections you counted on become tattered and frayed, and sometimes completely severed.
Any of these experiences can be a catalyst for heartbreaking loss…
The death of a beloved spouse, friend, or parent.
A divorce, or an unwanted breakup (again!)
The death of a pet who has been there every single day through thick and thin.
A big empty nest.
Being abandoned or betrayed by someone you counted on and trusted.
Heartbreaking loss makes you reevaluate everything you thought you knew about life and love. It can tear you apart and brings you to your knees. Over and over again.
But only if you let it.
As hard as heartbreak can be, surviving and learning to thrive after a heartbreaking loss can be one of the most triumphant experiences of your life.
Heartbreak demands that we face the hardest parts of being human. It calls us deep into the shadows of our core wounds. It also offers a powerful opportunity to heal and become more authentically alive and engaged in life. It can be a powerful catalyst to courageously awakening our innate love, wisdom and spiritual awareness.
The essence of heartbreak is feeling the presence, love, and support of someone…. and then it is gone. The love is gone, and the support vanishes. The one you depended on, and maybe even cherished, isn’t there for you anymore.
When someone you love isn’t there for you in the ways they used to be, big empty spaces often fill the places in your heart once reserved for them. Sometimes those empty spaces are filled with a never-ending flood of tears. At other times the pain and anger feel like they have taken over every part of your life.
Our culture often denies heartbreak and the need to fully grieve and heal. In the midst of loss, we often quietly fall into the life diminishing habits of denial and repression.
We turn away from the pain. Or we fall so deeply into it we feel like we are drowning in a sea of despair.
We medicate. We binge. We sob until the tears run dry, or push the tears so far down everything grows cold and hard.
Yet, no matter how hard you try to “get over it and move on”, unless the wound is tended to, heartbreak lingers and it keeps right on hurting. In times of emotional heartbreak, the parts of the brain that registers physical pain are also activated.
Heartbreak hurts, deep down and all around. I know. I’ve been there. More than once.
I’ve gone to the depths of heartbreak, and eventually found my way back into the light. Stronger, wiser and happier than before.
The unexpected passing of my beloved five years ago was a catalyst for healing not only the grief about his death, but for also facing a lifetime of unresolved heartbreak and disappointment. My healing demanded that I come to terms with all the times people I loved and counted on weren’t there for me in ways large and small.
Each time I allowed myself to grieve, something seemingly miraculous, yet quite natural happened. Love and more love emerged within and all around me. As I embraced my grief, my heart continued to open and expand.
Most significant of all, instead of feeling like a victim of my beloved's death, I knew that healing this heartbreak was one of the greatest gift I have ever been given.
As I healed my own heartbreaking losses, I became acutely aware of the great cloud of collective loss that dampens many people's ability to fully and freely live and love.
Most people have multiple significant unresolved heartbreaks in their lives.
Maybe it was the breakup or divorce you never really got over. Or the death of someone significant and trusted. Or even a major life transition that felt like a loss.
Whatever the unresolved losses, we pay a great price for not embracing and healing them. Depression, addiction, and the inability to create supportive relationships are but a few of the common results of unresolved loss.
From my own experience of grieving my beloved’s death, as well as grieving a divorce that occurred many years earlier, and other lesser losses, this is what I have come to know…
The deep pool of unresolved grief that so many people carry within every single day can be transformed into an infinite source of love.
Since my time of deep grieving, I have supported many others in navigating the sacred journey of grief so they can thrive again after loss.
Through a series of energy psychology and relationship coaching sessions focussed on healing their losses, clients find acceptance, peace, and more love than ever before.
This is the kind of support and guidance I needed when I was deep in the shadows of grief and heartache, which I now give to others.
If you are interested in finding out more about how you can heal unresolved loss and heartbreak, click here to schedule a free introductory consultation.
P.S. Please feel free to pass this message along to a friend who is suffering from a heartbreaking loss.
Happy Summer to you, wherever you are!
These early days of summer at Sweet Water Retreat have been filled with so many joyful times already. Slowing down and catching up have been front and center in my life recently. I have had cherished friends and family come to visit from far and wide. We have been basking in the long warm days and cool nights that are common in the Sierra foothills of Northern California, throughly enjoying sweet summertime activities. Sharing relaxed meals on the deck, hiking in nature, dangling feet in the cool creek, and enjoying live music in this charming small town have been deeply satisfying. Life simply doesn't get any better.
Our most joyful experiences often occur when we feel deeply connected with others in nourishing ways. Yet, we sometimes unconsciously stop ourselves from deeply connecting because the pain of disconnection can be intense and hard to move through gracefully.
We have all felt the sting of disconnection, in large and small ways. At some time or another, you reached out to someone and they turned away. A once cherished relationship ended or radically changed. Someone you believed in betrayed your trust. Maybe your child grew up and moved away. Or your beloved partner, parent or friend died.
And there you were feeling the pain of disconnection, longing for the warm glow of healthy intimate connection. Instead you felt empty, alone, and sore to the bone.
The unresolved pain of feeling disconnected robs us of joy and sometimes keep us from creating new connections.
Yet, disconnection isn’t inherently painful or sad. Sometimes holding on to the ideas about how life should be unfolding is more painful than the actual experience of disconnection and separation. One of the reasons disconnection can feel so bad is that we often believe in the myth of 'happily ever after'.
The myth goes something like this...
Anything good should last forever, right? And if it doesn’t, something went horribly wrong.
But, what if the myth of 'happily ever after' isn’t even remotely true?
What if the temporal nature of experience is one of the elements that makes life so good?
What if the experiences of connection and disconnection are essential parts of the natural cycles of life?
Connection and disconnection are like night and day. They are complimentary polarities, each with unique gifts to give. What if it is perfectly natural for one cycle of connection to end and another to gracefully begin?
We don't cry when the sun goes down, because we have faith that it will rise again. And in the meantime we get to enjoy the cool dark of night.
Can we learn to face the pain of disconnection with calm abiding, confident that we will again experience the warmth of intimate connection?
As hard as it can be, disconnection also opens the door to creating rich and nourishing new connections.
Maybe the biggest myth of all is that disconnection even truly exists.
When we really get that we are always connected to everyone and everything as parts of this one magnificent life, that's when the real 'happily ever after' begins.
In loving connection,
This week I’m honoring the bountiful life of my beloved, Douglas, who passed away suddenly five years ago.
We had a deep soul connection that is rare and precious. On his birthday I scrolled through photos of our rich time together. I smiled all the way down to my toes as I remembered the nourishing and crazy beautiful times we shared. And then the waves of tears came. They were tears of remembrance for all that was, and tears of deep longing for all that might have been. They flowed even move intensely when I thought of all the life experiences he is now missing.
As I was remembering and loving him, I suddenly felt his strong presence all around me. An intense quickening moved through my whole being that brought goose bumps and overwhelming gratitude.
I felt his presence, his love and support, and his deep acceptance of the turn his life had taken.
It felt like his strong hand was on my back, holding me and reassuring me of the power of the connection we share, then and now. In that moment I was humbled by the strength of his soul and his ever-present commitment to loving. It was a moment to cherish forever.
Feeling his presence since he passed out of his body is very different from being hugged by Douglas while he was alive in his tall strong body. Yet, the essence of the connection is clearly the same.
The outer connections from body to body may be severed, yet the true connection, soul to soul, never dies.
This is true whether someone has crossed over or not. So why not take a moment right now, and send a wave of love to someone you are connected with, soul to soul. You might just make their day.
In loving connection,
These past few weeks have stirred up intense feelings for so many people. Have you been feeling this, too? I sure have. For a few days last week I felt inner turmoil on every level; spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Fortunately, after doing some clearing and embodiment practices, a renewed sense of peace, calm, and clarity returned.
Many of my clients have been rocking and reeling with these intense energies as well. You may be wondering what’s going on. In a nutshell…
The incompletions, failures, and losses of the past have been front and center, demanding to be noticed, uplifted, resolved and released.
Unresolved situations from the past are calling to be integrated in new ways, which can be an uncomfortable and painful process. Yet, facing these situations and the associated feelings doesn't have to be torturous. Really, I promise. Within all painful experiences are opportunities and gifts of great value.
One key to gracefully navigating these intense times is to change the way we relate to pain.
Pain comes in many forms: physical pain and tension in the body, painful emotions, as well as distorted and obsessive thought patterns. We often do whatever we possibly can to turn away from pain. Yet, pain is like the internal warning lights on the dashboard of a car.
These warning lights are simply giving us important information about something that needs our attention.
Sometimes pain is a mild warning that is calling you to do some routine emotional maintenance. Maybe it is telling you to take a day off to rest, or to speak more boldly in the face of possible criticism, or to put yourself out there in a situation where you risk being rejected.
At other times these painful signals are warning you that something is seriously wrong. Your intense anger may be a signal that your boundaries are being violated yet again. Your deep sadness or depression may be a signal that a loss has occurred that you have not fully grieved.
In spite of the great value of these warning signals, we often turn away from pain rather than turn towards it to discover the deeper message it is trying to convey.
Pain avoidance often leads to ongoing drama as we repeatedly relive a distorted version of the original situation which gave rise to the pain in the first place. Think of how ridiculous it would be if you were to turn away from a flashing “check engine light”. If you kept doing this, you can be pretty sure that at some point your engine is going to fail. And it isn’t going to be pretty!
As a young woman, I actually did this. I had a bright orange Honda Civic that I loved. I zipped around town in a bright fiery blaze of color. One day the oil light came on, and stayed on for several weeks. Being totally ignorant about these things (someone else had always taken care of this stuff for me), I ignored this light until one day while I was driving on the freeway, my car began to smoke and sputter. That was the end of my sweet little Honda! Needless to say, the pain of being stranded on the freeway with a smoking broken down car, and then having to buy a replacement car was way more painful than it would have been to pay attention to the warning light.
The avoidance of pain is often worse than the pain itself.
When we change the way we respond to pain and begin to see it like the warning lights on the dashboard; these signals become valued allies that can help keep us running smooth and functioning well. When we truly embrace, accept, and feel our internal pain, it often dissipates very quickly.
How would life change if you began to see pain as an opportunity to unwrap a great gift?
It is up to us to unwrap these gifts, which are many and varied. The gift may be a greatly needed new perspective, an invitation to forgive someone, an opportunity to resolve hurt feelings from long ago, inspiration to live in a new way, or an opportunity to heal and move forward with new strength. Whatever the gift, you can be sure of one thing…
Pain always contains hidden treasure, yearning to be discovered.
Only you can unwrap it and fly free.
So many people are raw right now. Many are deeply disappointed, confused, sad, and angry. Some are rejoicing, while others are shocked and horrified with the election results. I have been rocked and swayed by all of these feeling during this excruciatingly long and conflicted election cycle.
Despite the polarization and what many people feel is a step backwards for the United States, this divisive and contentious election is revealing a dark side of our country that cannot be denied. Many see the shadows of racism, sexism, corruption, ignorance, and greed rearing their ugly heads in every direction.
Yet, the real shadow we are facing is not racism or sexism, conservatives thinking or progressive views, corruption or greed.
The real shadow is the vast collective fear that gives rise to all of these seemingly oppositional forces.
Fear is at the core of all the darkness that is showing itself in blatant ways across the country. That shadow isn’t just in those who voted differently than you did, or in those who are in the streets protesting or perpetrating hate crimes; that fear is in each and every one of us. Yes, everyone.
We fear for our safety and for the safety of the people we love. We are afraid of being harmed, persecuted, or held back because we are different. We are afraid to lose what we have worked hard to build, and afraid to lose hope for the grand dreams we have for our future, and our children. We are afraid that our beautiful Earth is being looted and polluted beyond repair. This really scary primal stuff is rapidly and sometimes violently cycling through our world right now.
We all have a unique blend of fears, conscious and unconscious, that is being stirred up by world conditions. As fear arises, we don’t want to feel it. We create simple and elaborate fear management strategies. Chocolate chip cookie, anyone? We project and blame others for making us feel unsafe. We hide. We lament. We live in bubble worlds of like-minded people so we can feel affirmed and safe. We eat too much, and we drink to much. We get numb in any way we can so we don’t have to feel afraid.
What if we stopped running from fear and instead, simply felt it? What if we could find a place to stand that is bigger than fear? My body relaxes as I write this. Just brushing up against the awareness that there is a place bigger than fear is comforting.
The place that is bigger than fear is your own heart.
In the face of fear, we can all find our fearless heart and take sanctuary there.
That is the solid ground that never fails you, and never deserts you.
It is right here, right now. As close as the next breath.
I invite you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath and feel into your tender, yet fearless heart, right in the center of your chest. Breath into this place and trust the magnificent and mighty force it safeguards.
“But I can’t feel my heart right now," you say. “I am gasping for breath. I am cowering and grief stricken at the thought of what is happening in the world. The doorway to my heart is closed and I can’t get in,” you say with great conviction.
With deep tenderness, I say, “There is another way."
When the door to your heart is closed tight with fear, the only away to disarm the lock is to face the fear, known or unknown, head on. And then simply be with that feeling. Feel the tightness, feel the discomfort. Feel it in your body and keep breathing. Move it. And keep breathing. Dance the fear until it is exhausted. Do whatever it takes to keep being with it rather than distracting or running. Simply bringing your awareness and acceptance to fear is a catalyst for its evolution and eventual disillusion.
I invite you to feel your fears and also to share them with the people you love.
It is much easier to face your fears with beloved companions by your side. Our hearts thrive on connection. They beat stronger in unison with others.
If you want to plant yourself firmly in your fierce and fearless heart, lean into those who are willing to stand with you as you tremble and embrace your fear anyway.
Lean into those who can hold you as you tentatively step into your tender heart and learn to inhabit this place more often.
When the world feels untrustworthy, lean into those you can trust, and take sanctuary there.
This is the place where you will be soothed and calmed, energized and uplifted so can find the strength to keep on keeping on, no matter what is happening in the world.
In the heart, we find the strength to gracefully and courageously navigate the many changes that are happening right now in the world.
In the heart, we are instantly connected with the vast number of people around the globe who also stand in the heart and are guided by love and goodness, authenticity and inspiration, kindness and compassion.
In the midst of the heart we realize that as the old ways are dying, a new world is simultaneously arising.
Despite the changes in the world right now, there is real cause for celebration. Beyond blue or red or green, beyond racism, sexism, and divisiveness, beyond wiki leaks and corruption, the glorious life force that moves through all of us is still doing what it always has.... expanding and contacting, loving and creating.
As we move forward, let’s find a deep well of sweet surrender to bathe in together. Let's practice radical acceptance of a vast power and plan that we can't always understand, much less control. Because no matter who is in the White House, life will continue to expand and contract, love and create, moment by moment. We might as well add our love to the mix.
From the one heart,
Warm summer greetings to you, my friend.
These past few weeks have brought on a cycle of deep emotional clearing for many, myself included. Maybe this is true for you, too?
The other day, a friend mentioned a woman who recently “broke down in tears.” We have all heard and probably spoken this common phrase many times.
When I heard it that day, I was struck by how often the underlying collective assumption is that the display of deep and raw emotion is an indication of brokenness, and “breaking down” is a clear and irrefutable sign that something is terribly wrong and needs to be fixed.
We live within this assumption as the fish lives within the sea, unaware of the wetness all around.
Even if we know in our clever, over active minds that deep emotion does not equate to brokenness, most people are still conditioned and wired to live as though this were true. So often we hide, suppress, anesthetize, or close down at the first hint of a wild raging storm brewing within.
When we begin to feel emotional and unsettled inside, how often do we think, “what’s wrong?”
Maybe, just maybe, those intense emotions are emerging because of what is right in our lives; because of what we are letting go of and releasing.
Deep and authentic emotion is often a sign of full bodied living, not brokenness.
Raw emotion (as opposed to rehashing the same old tired drama) often wells up when we get in touch with a deeper truth, maybe one we pushed away long ago because we did not yet have the strength to courageously face it and embrace it.
These waves of emotion call to be acknowledged, accepted, and loved just as they are. The simple act of being with deep emotion rather than running from is often exactly what is needed to free up and release the pain; and then quite naturally and gracefully let ourselves be guided on to our next evolutionary step.
The challenge is to lean in to these feelings simply as there are, as physical sensation.
Can we feel the hot sting of tears without adding a tragic story? Can the pain in our gut be simply that… a pain in the gut? Can we breathe into and deeply feel these sensations without fighting them or wallowing in them?
Maybe there are warm wet cleansing tears, yearning to flow through you right now. Maybe there are rough and ragged fears stuffed way down inside, longing to be held within the unconditional embrace of your own tender heartedness.
Maybe, just maybe, it is possible to fully embrace and intimately know every nuance of these untamed waves of emotion, and in the process of being fully present to our raw and authentic feelings, simply allow them to naturally return to the vast ocean of human experience, leaving us cleansed, invigorated, and broken open rather than broken down.
As promised, I am sending you messages of love this holiday season. The first one I sent, 360 Degrees of Love, struck a cord with so many people.
Today, I offer you an opportunity to be steeped in a vast love that transcends time and space and the sometimes narrow confines of how we often conceive of love.
This video is short, intense and amazing. It left me speechless and unsettled in a way that only deep truth can do. It shouts of 360 degree love; of a love shared by two that is so big it blesses the entire universe.
If you have ever loved... watch it.
If you have ever lost someone you love... watch it.
If you have ever yearned to define or touch Spirit... watch it.
With bright starry love,
An energy therapist, relationship and spiritual life coach, Ariana is a lover of love in all of its many delicious forms; self love, couples love, family love, community love and ultimately, the universal love that pervades all.