Taking Care of Yourself in Changing Times

As I’ve settled into this past week of social distancing, I’ve gone through many waves of emotion, from numbness, to full-blown tears, to acceptance with new intentions.

You see, as the week started, I felt internal pressure to keep things rolling, to figure out how to keep showing up, to make sure I was doing my part, giving however I could.

I immediately started exploring how to still support my yoga students, how to show up for the changes my life coaching clients would be experiencing, and what I would need to do to accomplish my spring goals.

Plus I was constantly trying to figure out how to manage the changes, from food, to supplies, what would be needed, would I be able to get it.

Then Wednesday morning, I took a walk with a good friend. She easily brings out the rawness within me. About 4 kms in, I was in tears. Recognizing many things about how I was feeling, and one that I want to share with you today.

It’s was hard to realize how outward focused I’ve been lately in my life. I bring myself to my mat everyday with the intention of connecting with myself, but as I broke open that day, I came face to face with the reality that I haven’t been looking as closely as I’ve needed. Focused on others, on our changing situation, on the what if’s of life, and my work… I realized that I wasn’t completely honouring my needs.

This was hard to face, as I share with others so much about why and how to do this. Thankfully, as I took the time to reflect, I knew what I needed to do. If I’m showing up for others and not taking care of myself, I’m not honouring them because I’m not honouring me.

So I decided that day, that I needed some time to slow down, tune in, and reconnect. I changed my calendar, opened space where ever I could, and settled into some time for myself… doing whatever I wanted to do for a few days and processing how I was feeling as I met all these changes, as well as facing some feelings I had been ignoring.

In a way I feel lucky, I have the time and space to be able to do this. I put down my todo list, because really, where was I going? I realized the schedule I had been holding myself to was no longer really valid.

I know this time may not be as available for many of you, especially those with children or those still showing up to their work, but if you can find even a few moments a day to tune-in and recognize how you’re feeling in these changes, you will find more trust, well-being, and inner strength to see this whole thing through.

So, I’m curious, as you’ve taken in this past week of change in our lives, social distancing, working from home, not working at all, or facing work when everything looks so different… how are you connecting with how you feel?

Honour what’s there, whether it’s frustration, anger, confusion, fear, anxiety… allow it, feel it, and it will move.

Each time I’ve found myself processing what I’m feeling, (that means crying, moving the anger, sitting with the fear) I come out the other side lighter and better able to address what I need.

Taking the time to tune into how you’re feeling is so important. If you avoid, neglect, or invalidate your feelings, they will get stuck and cause you more harm in the long run.

There’s no right or wrong way here to address your feelings, as long as you are keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. Find a quiet space.. the bathroom works great… and the sound of running the water is a natural healer.

We can’t avoid the situation we are in. We must take it seriously, so we can come through the other side with less death and illness.

So now is the time to settle into true acceptance, not only in your mind, but also in your body.

Our best force of vitality to meet this pandemic, is to be well in mind, body, and spirit.

Here are a few tips to focus on your whole self and support you along the way:

  • Physically – move your body in some way everyday, eat nourishing food, hydrate often, spend time in nature, and get good sleep or lay down for 15-20 minutes mid-day listening to some soft music or a relaxation
  • Mentally – take time to meditate, find quiet and stillness, put down your electronics more often, engage with your loved ones, lighten your mental load by removing what doesn’t matter right now, reflect on what’s truly important to you
  • Emotionally – observe what feelings are moving through you, pay attention to the sensations in your body, be curious and open, allow whatever is there to be there, trust yourself, and listen to your needs
  • Spiritually – take time to pause, to Be, pray or just tune into the feelings of trust, surrender, and hope, accept that things will unfold, much out of your control, so hand over the reins

I feel this situation we are in is offering us time, time to slow down, awaken to ourselves in a deeper way. Use this time to learn about yourself, cocoon in a sense, to reconnect with what’s truly important to you, so as we come out the other side of this, you can show up more aligned and in tune with you.

And if you need guidance or support, please reach out, you are not alone in this.

Connect with those who support you in your life or connect with me.

All of my offerings have been moved online, as I reset with the changing times, and I create new space for me… and you

Take good care of yourself,
🙏🏻 Brenda

The Power of Self-Acceptance

Last month I lost a valuable teacher and transformative healer in my life. He helped me come to know myself even better over the past few years. He taught me the value of accepting myself, as I am, and all aspects of me that contribute to my wholeness.

He helped me learn to truly check-in with myself, to listen to my needs, accept what drives me, and notice what’s longing to emerge.

I’ve learned to accept the young girl who went down the path of addiction simply because she wanted to feel loved and belong. I’ve learned to accept the part of me that feels most valued when she feels proud and validated. I’ve learned to accept the part of me that is feels following through adds honour, and I can be true to that integrity. I’ve learned to accept the part of me that wants to feel free and creative, to nurture the lives of others and make an impact in the world.

Mostly, I’ve learned that when we don’t accept all parts of ourselves, and instead judge and condemn ourselves, it leads to more harm than help.

There’s always a purpose to our actions. We are trying to serve some inner need. Finding clarity about this will serve you in taking supportive and meaningful action in your life.

I pay homage to him for amplifying my self-awareness, not only for how this will continue to serve me, but also for how I’ve noticed it has enhanced by ability to observe my clients underlying needs to serve them.

As I’ve seen the power of acceptance transform my life and the lives of my clients, it solidifies to me how we need to access and allow what’s alive in us in the present moment to meet our needs.

It all starts with an intention of allowing what is to be there and leaning into acceptance of whatever shows up, while approaching yourself with a mindset of non-judgment and compassion.

Gaining access to this wisdom and awareness comes through observing your thoughts, feelings, and body wisdom in the present moment, whether meditating, taking some time alone, or even when interacting with others. As you allow space for this awareness, you learn to honour your feelings and needs as they are now. You come to realize your current truth of how the past still lives in you or how your future self is longing to emerge. This gives you the awareness to make purposeful choices each day in your life.

Your actions begin to reflect a new light. You’ll feel more accepting of yourself, which leads to self-love, compassion, and actions that align with your whole self.

This power of acceptance becomes reflected in the world around you. There are new feelings of ease and happiness that arise and you’re able to approach life with more awareness, trust, and confidence.

How could this gift of self-acceptance influence your life, to help you love yourself fully and take the steps you long to take?

Book a free 30 minute call with me and let’s start tuning into what you need to live aligned in self-acceptance.

In service,
Brenda

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