Living in the Light of Moderation

After sharing last fall about my history with addiction and unhealthy behaviours, I have felt a reconnection with the part of me that had chosen that path.

It’s interesting because for years I have said that I would never take those experiences back, I don’t regret them, I learned so much about life. Yet, as I openly shared about these experiences, it woke something up inside me which I had not been giving attention to.

For the past 8 years I have worked very hard at cultivating a path of inner strength against these patterns of behaviour that took me down those roads. I felt it was what I had to do to gain my footing in life, and I know I have.

But what I’m noticing now, as that young, carefree part of myself re-emerges more fully and I embrace her in my life again, is that I need her. I need her joy, her vitality, her wisdom.

Without her, I have felt at many times lifeless, overly serious, and a bit rigid.

It’s not that she hasn’t been there at all, she’s shown up in windows of beautiful presence, but I feel I have kept her at bay, not allowing her to experience too much fun, keeping a tight lid on her joy. And now I know why.

I was afraid. I was afraid her desire for pleasures would overcome me and I’d fall back into old patterns that caused me much pain.

But I’ve grown. The part of me that cultivated my ability to be disciplined and integral has made some huge strides in keeping me on track with my goals of self-awareness and overcoming the addictions.

For the past 6 years, I have worked attentively on figuring out how I could enjoy some alcoholic beverages without losing sight of myself and my path. I’ve found balance in enjoying a few drinks socially and no longer condemn or shame myself as if I’ve done something wrong. I know my path of stability can be maintained when I put my heart and mind to the task.

So now as I watch this vivacious inner light of joy open up to her new possibilities, I feel a grander sense of inner trust and more soul-alignment.

I know that I will not fall back into old patterns, because I have drive, commitment, and self-awareness. And quite serendipitously, 8 years to the day when I stopped drinking that summer of 2011, I know I can live a moderate life style, where I can play and enjoy the pleasures of life without falling into excessive and unhealthy behaviours.

I sense as I embrace all of me, even more, I will lean more fully into what lights my heart and soul. 

In yoga, one of the sacred principles to live by is Brahmacharya, which means moderation, pleasure without excess. This principle has a new light of positivity for me today. Instead of a fearful view of constrictive moderation, it’s one of acceptance and trust. I can choose to enjoy some of the pleasures of this life, and not lose sight of my soul.

There is much to be gained by learning to embrace all of you, without shunning any old parts of yourself out of your life. Consider how you can bring those parts of you that struggled, that brought powerful lessons into your life, to serve you now. What have you learned from them? How can you embrace them?

Tap into those experiences that have cultivated your self-awareness, so you know when your choices will serve you, and when they won’t.

How can the light of moderate living help you stay in alignment with your soul, while still enjoying the fruits of this world we live in? What would be possible for you?

Keep observing yourself, as will I, we can learn so much just by tuning into ourselves… past and present… heart, mind, and soul.

How does this resonate with you? Please comment or connect with me anytime you’d like to explore what might be possible for you. Together we will light up the world.

With love,
🙏🏻Brenda

Why to Add Meditation to Your Daily Routine…and How!

Meditation is the new apple-a-day, though the practice has been around for centuries, it somehow got lost in the external pursuit of happiness.
It’s more than just a buzz word or a fad, it is a foundation for a steady mind, enhanced emotional awareness, and inner contentment. It’s something we all need everyday, just like brushing our teeth, meditation is for cleaning your mind.
Though I was introduced to the act of “centering” when I was 19, it was in my early 30’s that I found and began my journey with meditation and the life changing benefits it provided.
In 2011, I took a 6 week meditation course through a yoga studio I frequented in Calgary. The instructor provided us with a variety of methods of meditation to play with. As a beginner of meditation, this way very helpful, as I find with many things, we need some variety to figure out what works best, even day-to-day, as well as over time. Allowing yourself space to explore methods of meditation brings in a sense of creativity, inspiration and flow.
It is truly a journey inward. For the months following the meditation course, I sat each morning in a space I created for meditation, exploring with different practices. I practiced in the morning which truly set my day. Over time my perception of my world began opening up. I saw things more clearly. I felt focused and engaged in my life in a new way. Within months, I started making the changes to my life that I desperately needed.
I know with my whole being that we can create the changes we desire, we need only truth, support, and discipline to follow through.
All three of these can be discovered in a meditation practice. As you calm your mind over time, you tap into your truth beneath the monkey mind, you cultivate an inner support-system to work through life’s challenges, and find confidence in your dedication to yourself to create your life.
As you begin your meditation practice your external world will show itself to you. Depending on how busy your external world is, this is where the “challenge” will begin. Sitting in meditation, our thoughts immediately start processing everything that is happening on our life, past and future. This is not a bad thing, you need to process life, but with time and acknowledgement of those thoughts you will start to find some space amongst the thoughts to discover clarity and truth in the present moment.
This is why having a focal point is so important in meditation. This a grounding element to help your mind find a steady center amongst the thoughts. The most accessible focal point to start with is your breath.
But before going deeper, here are a few steps to get you ready.
  1. Choose a time of day when you feel alert and not tired.
  2. Find your space to settle into for your meditation. 
  3. Sit with your hips lifted on a cushion or in a chair ensuring you are able to sit upright, so your spine is tall, hips are comfortable, and your head posture is alert. 
  4. Now you will choose how long you wish to sit for and set a timer or guided meditation to follow.
As I mentioned, there are various methods of meditation. I believe it is so important to allow yourself the flexibility, especially at first, to explore them. But most important is finding focus between the random thoughts.
Here are a few mind-focusing methods of meditation to consider. See where you’re drawn, use your intuition:
  • Counting your breath 1-10 over and over
  • Listen to some calming music 
  • Listen to a guided meditation
  • Using a mantra such as “So Ham” (sounds like so hum) which follows your breath
There are many sources for meditation today. Personally I enjoy the app Insight Timer for the multitude of meditation options and tracking system.
If you’re new to meditation, start small, sit for 5 minutes each day and slowly build up the time as you are able. And remember each day is different, sometimes you may feel like you can sit longer, others, you may feel really distracted and disturbed to sit. In these moments take deep breaths to calm your mind and body, but be gentle with yourself. The last thing you want to do is make it overly difficult. Learn to follow your rhythms.
One way to help establish a supportive rhythm is to meditate at the same time each day. This way you create a pattern for your mind to get used to. This will make the process of discipline easier.
Finally, I want to share with you of some of the benefits of establishing a regular meditation practice.
  • Heighten focus and concentration – overtime your mind will begin to “tame” and you’ll find yourself more focused as you move through your day.
  • Discipline and Confidence – when you are committed to an activity such as meditation, you build confidence in yourself to follow through on your intentions, you establish integrity in yourself.
  • Self-Awareness – while you begin to hear and understand some of the thoughts that repeat themselves in your mind, you’ll learn about yourself, what you need and want.
  • Patience – you will enhance your ability to be patient, meet life’s challenges in the moment with ease, as you learn to not react to your minds incessant thoughts.
  • Inner Peace – as you sit for longer periods of time, the space between the thoughts will increase and in turn you will discover the inner peace that has been within you all along, your personal haven. 
  • Creativity and Intuition – the spaciousness that opens up through meditation invites in intuition and inspiration, as well as your unique creative self.
Allow your journey of meditation to unfold with creativity, exploration, intuition, and commitment. ~ Tweet this!
Finally, remember to keep coming back. Don’t let a missed day stop your momentum.
It’s a practice.
If I haven’t convinced you yet that adding meditation to your daily activities is well worth the effort, perhaps recognizing that meditation is the life long medication for a healthy and happy life will.
Do you feel the calling? Are you ready to begin your meditation practice?
Through the month of May, I’m running a Meditation Challenge to help you establish your practice.
Join me in my Facebook Community See Your Bright Spirit to take part or pop me an email and I’ll share the details with you!
May your practice start with grounding breath and finish with a focused mind.
<img draggable=” src=”https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/11/svg/1f64f-1f3fb.svg” scale=”0″>” /> Brenda

Window to Your Soul

William Shakespeare said “the eyes are the window to the soul”, and I believe it to be true. They reveal the truth of who you are, what you’re experiencing, and if your actions are lining up with your soul’s truth. Are you willing to look?

I have had tough moments in my life when I was compelled to look, I mean really look, trying to see who the heck I was anymore. I was living life cycling through patterns of behaviour that at times I couldn’t even fathom I was doing, while maintaining an external facade that everything was okay. Inside I felt confused and alone, longing to feel differently, to experience change, but didn’t have the conviction or inner-strength to always follow through. I felt compromised, like a major part of me was lost, while another part of me was running the show with only their own agenda at hand.

Then those powerful moments would arrive, when I was breaking down, crying in the bathroom, longing for change, I’d courageously look into my eyes…seeing despair, fear, and the buckets of pain I was causing myself, desperately needing change. It was these instances that I couldn’t deny my truth any longer. I needed support.

Looking back, my soul has always talked to me through my journalling, forgivingly trying to guide me forward. Leaning into what I truly needed, but back then I was afraid. My fearful self was in control and my soul was at the mercy of this.

After years of self-reflection, soulful therapy and guidance, I now know my life was being run by a vulnerable part of me that longed to be loved and accepted. And this is okay, needing to feel loved is natural part of being human. It’s just unfortunate how we sometimes go about trying to fulfill those needs.

Growing through these experiences, deepening my self-awareness, and learning how to create change in my life are all part of the reason I have chosen the path of life coaching. I want to help others see their truth and take action in ways that support their whole self. To know that they aren’t alone and don’t have to figure it out all by themselves.

With devoted guidance, in a safe place to explore the soul’s wisdom and the fears that misguide us, we can all take steps forward to a more self-aligned and loving life.

Can you feel your soul calling? Be sure to look, it loves you and only wants the best for you, just as all of your parts do. Perhaps it’s time to bring yourself into alignment.

Sending you love and light, and know I am here if you need guidance and support.
💖 Brenda

 

Embracing My Whole Self

I haven’t been showing up in the authentic way I truly want to. In order to honour my whole self, I realize I need to share something that I haven’t been sharing for almost 6 years. It is a big part of my life that truly led me to who I am today.

In my classes and coaching sessions, I repeatedly say connect with all of you and honour your whole self. If I am to model what I teach, I feel it is time to embrace my whole self by sharing this part of my experience which I’ve left out for too long.

It was never my intention to disregard this part of myself and my life. When I chose to become a life coach, I had the full intention of sharing this aspect of myself. I’ve never been ashamed of my past, I am proud for how I’ve learned and grown from it over the years. I never meant to it leave it out for this long, and would have shared this years ago, but I was sensitive to my partners challenging custody case. We didn’t know how it may affect his court case, as he fought to have an equal part of his children’s lives, so I chose to stay quiet.

In the four years it took for the custody case to complete, my lack of talking about and sharing this part of myself, caused me to put it out of my mind. It became something I felt I couldn’t talk about and I eventually I believed it wasn’t something I was meant to share anymore. Not realizing that overtime these thoughts and actions were making me feel this was an unwanted part of myself. As I reflect on this now, I realize I have been feeling something was missing in my heart, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I had been experiencing deep sadness and frustration in my mind and body for a while. Today, as I reconnect with my full past, with myself, I feel my wholeness and a new vibrancy returning.

I feel shifts mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually by opening myself back up to this truth, I know this is the path I am meant to walk.

I’m grateful for a few amazing friends who have recently welcomed conversations and asked about my past that slowly brought me to this renewed awareness. A dear friend encouraged me to share because she feels my experiences are so important to express. I have to agree. Thank you all for your love and support.

It has been 2 years now since we got 50/50 custody of Matt’s children and it is time. I want and need to show up fully to honour my whole self.

Allow me to tell you about my journey…

At the age of 33, I reached a pivotal point of my life and finally fully acknowledged I had to change.

It may surprise you to know that at 33, half of my life had been spent cycling in and out of addiction and harmful behaviours. From a high school life of alcohol, marijuana and parties, to ending grade 12 addicted to heroin, I was lost and confused. Yet I had drive, I worked and went to school, I graduated from college, even taking on my first role at the bank; I was a functioning addict. All awhile, believing deep in my heart that this couldn’t be the path I was meant to live. I was constantly trying to quit. And at 21, I finally broke free from heroin, which brought a liberating sense of empowerment to my life. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I’d spend the next 12 years in addictive life cycles with marijuana, binge drinking, and dabbling in other drugs.

On that pivotal June day in 2011, at the age of 33, a dear friend kindly reflected to me that I had been cycling through these addictions and unhealthy behaviours for half of my life. She asked me where I thought I’d be in 5 years if I didn’t change my ways. Feeling the terror of this question…that day I woke up. By the time I drove home from Edmonton to Calgary, I had new resolve to finally stop and change my life, and I did.

I had known for years that I wanted change (my journals ruminating with inner truths and frustrations). I didn’t love my life, nor the decisions I found myself making, but I didn’t know how to change or why it was so hard to do so. Now, after years of self-work and deeper self-awareness, I realize my needs of belonging, acceptance and love kept me entangled in that cyclical life of self-destruction.

Throughout those years I tried so many times to heal my habitual ways, I’d change social circles, I moved cities, but it wasn’t only an external change I needed, it was an internal shift of self-acceptance, self-love and courage. My journey into truth, uncovering my authenticity, and taking my life back took a lot of effort and time. I worked with a therapist and shaman/life coach and found profound change as I worked through the challenges that kept me stuck.

What is important for me in sharing this now, is how vital it is to honour your whole self in your life, not only in creating meaningful change, but also for being your true self. By not sharing and acknowledging this part of me since moving to the east coast, I feel like I was missing a part of myself. Just like how the true part of me was missing in all those years of cycles and addiction. Even giving myself permission now to talk about it, and writing this blog, I feel a sense of liberation, a renewed sense of self-love, and appreciation for all I have overcome in my life.

If we push away parts of ourselves, it’s like saying you’re not valuable and I don’t love you. We need to love and honour all parts of ourselves to show up fully as our true self.

Over time I imagine myself sharing more of this part of my life, the journey, the lessons, and the transformation into who I am today. But for now, I’d like to say…

“Hi, I’m Brenda, good to meet you… again.”

Me today...

If my story resonates with you, or you feel you’d like to connect for any reason, please do.

I’d love to hear from you.❤️

Finding Sanctuary

“It was in leaving that I realized my truest sanctuary is within.”

I spent my final weeks of August 2018 in yogic study with a group of like-minded souls at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania. It was a full 10 day segment which took four of us to graduation of our 500 hour yoga teacher training and the rest on their continued journey towards their own goals in yoga training.

The essence of the Himalayan Institute (HI), as I have shared before, is a supportive community where residents and visitors can embrace their own path through study of various practices such as yoga and ayurveda, or simply retreat from the everyday. Every time I visit here I fall in love a little bit more. It could be the inviting community, the seclusion in the forests and rolling hills of northern Pennsylvania, the nourishing meals, or simply that time spent in practice.

Going into this trip, I was coming out of a busy summer, full of change and adventure. My partner and I upgraded our sailboat to one that will take us on more comfortable and grand sea-adventures. Then spent two weeks cleaning and preparing it for our anticipated use. I was spending less time in practice and more time desiring our fun summer activities. I could feel the influence in my state of mind, somewhat carefree and not very disciplined. I’m not saying this was “bad”, but it did leave me feeling a little anxious as I left for my training.

Arriving at HI, I noticed my thoughts of not “being more ready” for the training taking hold. I could feel the tension in my body, my mind was a little unsettled, and emotions were stirring. This segment focused on the journey inward and I could certainly feel my resistance. So at the hand of a dear friend I met there, I stopped and allowed myself to feel the anguish I noticed inside. Over the coming days I felt held by the Institute, my peers, the teachings, and came to settle nicely into my self. The remaining of the training I allowed myself to just be in it.

As graduation day approached, I could feel everything coming together, stable in all I had studied here and comfortable in my wholeness of self. Though, it all felt so good I was a little scared and sad about leaving; scared that I would lose this inner awareness of self when re-engaging with the outside world and sad as I was unsure of when I’d return to this amazing sanctuary. Would I retain this practice and awareness on my own?

I graduated with excitement and gratitude in my heart, embracing the effort it took to complete the journey and holding dear the teachings of the amazing instructors and ancient texts.

As it all completed, most of my classmates left soon after. I stayed one more night, preparing to depart in the morning. I watched myself saying good-bye to people and places within the Institute, my gratitude at a high for my experiences in this place and perhaps a little attached. Bubbling within was that curiosity of how to stay true to my heart and soul when I left, to carry ALL I had received with me; trying to embrace my instructor Shari’s advice, “you will retain exactly what you need”.

Over the last few days of our training, we talked a lot about maintaining a MDR, a minimum daily requirement, to nurture and support us in our home practice. This means committing to do a practice, full or partial, but always something, with the intention of connecting to your self.

The day I traveled home I did a short MDR while I waited for my cab, this felt like a positive send-off. I settled into a relaxing and reflective bus ride, eventually arriving in Manhattan, where I felt the expected shift of environments. Thankfully a dear friend I had studied life coaching with greeted me. She was a delight to my heart; a transitioning support on my journey home. After our lovely brunch together, I wandered the busy streets of New York, finally sitting down in a beautiful inner city park watching the diversity in people go by. New York is one of those places where you can truly experience the sense of “I”ness that the Yoga Sutras discuss. Amongst the people of the city you do feel like a single drop of water in a vast ocean of souls, each soul unique, yet I believe… connected to one Source.

Finding-sanctuaryIt was here that I remembered…my source of energy, love, and devotion comes from within. That it doesn’t really matter where I am, I can always come home to my heart, my ever-lasting inner sanctuary. Finding sanctuary is not about the place that holds you, but in how you hold yourself, wherever you are.

So, as I sit at home today, my personal sanctuary supporting me in my daily practices. I recognize, I can take my practice anywhere and still connect deeply to my inner sanctuary. I chose to stop compromising on this valuable time for myself just because I am not in “that expected place”. All it takes is turning my attention inward and taking time for my practice, and when needed, that minimum daily practice.

And if for some reason I fall off this daily practice, I commit to getting back on.

I hope my story helps you connect to this final thought… While starting with a physical sanctuary is helpful for exploring practices that lead you inward, take time to discover how your daily practices (even modifications of your practices) can happen anytime and anywhere.

So please take time for you.❤️ What daily practices help you find sanctuary within?

If you don’t currently have daily practices, explore options to find your way into self-nurturing, soul-connecting practices that serve you.

Love and light,
Brenda

How to Not Lose Yourself on Vacation

Do you ever feel like you lose yourself and your personal routines and practices when summer comes or you go on vacation? You may just let loose into the adventure and spontaneity, or the fall into flow of life in an irregular way.

Summer time or vacations can leave you feeling disconnected from your true self, when you don’t take the time to connect or fall into unhealthy behaviours.

For myself, this disconnected feeling has occurred by eating abnormal food when away from home, consuming more alcohol than I normally would, and completely losing track of my yoga/meditation practice.

Yet other times, I’ve been able to embrace the opportunity to deepen and explore with my daily routines, and actually heightened my self-connection.

Let’s explore where disconnection might occur…

Perhaps you are vegetarian and often throw your eating patterns out the window when exploring new cultures. Though this is delightful to embrace other ways of living, it can leave your digestion in uncomfortable disarray.

Or when summer hits and temperatures rise, how much more often are you enticed to have some cold alcoholic beverages? Socializing and summer events can leave us with more morning recoveries then we may normally experience.

How about daily journaling, yoga, and meditation? Will you take the time to meditate when on your family vacation this summer? How about taking time to hear your inner voice in your journal?

Summer-Vacation

How can you set the intention to stay connected to your true self and your soulful practices while embracing the spontaneous adventures of summer vacations?

 

Get clear on what you want to experience

When you take time to notice what you want to experience, it is much easier to follow through. How do you want to feel as you move through your summer or vacation days? What personal experiences do you want to honour?
Often on vacation, I have set the intention to get up and watch the sun rise (even if it means I go back to bed after). I do this because I want to feel in rhythm with the sun, where ever I am, and listening to nature in the peace and quiet of the morning is so blissful.

Bring your daily routine/practice to your day

Without over whelming yourself, perhaps you take only one or two of your daily practices into your vacation days, or maybe you alter when then occur in your day? But notice what supports your personal connection the most and bring that into you daily routine.
Perhaps you will carry a journal and take time to write about your experiences, or maybe you will have more time to take long walks and explore, or sit and reflect. Notice ways that you can connect with yourself and care for yourself, with supportive and nurturing daily practices.

Open up to new possibilities in your day

Vacation and time off your regular routine can invite in new possibilities of adventure and exploration. Try a new activity or do something different to expand your awareness and grow. Vacations can also be a perfect time to play with new practices and routines to set new patterns of being.
Maybe you’re not usually a morning person, but you truly want to experience this time of day, but often feel too tired. When your on vacation you can create new habits, then bring them back into your day-to-day. Or perhaps trying a new activity like hiking or kayaking would expand your horizons and delight in life? Take time to consider all of the possibilities.

Receive each moment with your heart

Soaking up the experiences with your heart and mind. Slow down or stop and just be. Vacations and time off the daily grind can rejuvenate you, when you slow down. It’s never fun to feel like you need a vacation after your vacation, so stop and receive. Open up your mind to receive the simple beauty in your world, your surroundings, and your family and friends. Observe the essence of life around you and notice how you feel in your heart. Be present.

Set intentions and follow through

Be clear and follow through on your intentions to connect with yourself and the new experiences. Be open to the flow of your vacation, but come back to the intentions you set. Notice if you feel yourself falling off and reset, tune-up the intention if needed, but try not to just drop it. You will feel more soul-aligned when you do.

Explore these ideas and see how you feel during and after your summer vacation. Be mindful of how your feeling and what you need and make the most of your vacation times! Stay connected to your self.

Do you have any tips or practices that support you when on vacation? I’d love to hear from you! Pop me a note or comment on the blog.

And let me know how these ideas support you on your summer vacations or any time of year!

Wishing you a soul-full-filled and full of intention vacation!
Love and light,
Brenda

Time for You

Time is an illusion, so they say. Yet when you feel like you never have enough of it or it seems to slip through your fingers, it can feel very real.

Our lives are busy, we have a multitude of obligations, and if we aren’t careful, we can get swept away by our responsibilities and lose connection with the moments, and ourselves.

I recall a few years back, when I was working at the bank. As a dedicated Advisor, I often stayed late to make sure everything was wrapped up and not trailing into my next business day. I never liked falling behind, plus I needed to follow through on my commitments. Meeting the needs of others is engrained in me. I’m a care-giver.

Overtime however, this left me feeling quite drained. My evenings would take me to the gym or to a yoga class for my health regime, then often out for some beverages with friends to release more stress. I would wake the next morning, usually a little off from the bevys, snoozing my alarm to the last minute, then quickly getting myself out the door to once again meet the obligations of the day.

Eventually, I stopped to notice how I was feeling… frustrated. It felt like my life was to serve others, and there is purpose here, but I also wanted to feel like my life was to serve me and my desires. I was curious about how it would feel to get up and give myself some time before I had to give my time to everyone else.

Time-for-YouSo I tried it, I got up in the morning early enough to make a coffee, do some reading or watch the news for a bit, and slowly get myself ready. It was incredible. I couldn’t believe how different it felt. Over time, it became quite a nourishing routine. I transitioned into adding some yoga and meditation in the morning and felt more aligned with myself all day long. My mornings got a bit earlier and I started to go to bed a bit early too, because this morning time for myself was more important to me.

This was in my single days, when I could literally make my own schedule without any interference, but I have still been able to mostly keep to the same structure, even with my family now. Yes, I need to be more lenient at times, but when I do get up for myself, when the birds start chirping my whole day feels better!

What would it feel like to give to yourself first, then give to your world? What could you do to have time for you?

Pop me a note in the comments and share this with your friends! Support one another in taking some time for you!

Love and light,
Brenda