Accept and Connect

I confess, regardless of the surge of local hubs that roast and brew some off-the-hook decaf espresso, I continue to frequent Starbucks and have a special appreciation for the Seattle based coffee behemoth. Countless hours I have spent studying and working over my computer at the Bux, or sinking into one of their over-sized chairs with a massive ginger cookie and my books. Part of its early appeal was the free Wifi, a huge draw. I have a warm place in my heart for my virtual Starbucks’ access. Signing onto their network I have come to anticipate the warm welcome on their browser page by what I like to call my Starbucks’ mantra:

 acceptconnect

Accept and Connect. 

Being a student of the Chopra Center I have immersed myself in the teachings of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. One that has always deeply resonated with me is the Law of Least Effort. There are three components to this principle of “do less and accomplish more.” The first is Acceptance.

Maybe it is the looming federal election, or the past weeks I have been solo with my kids, or it could be the newest evidence of aging I’ve noticed on my face… Each has triggered me in some way. My instinct now when I feel inner conflict brewing is to look to the Seven Spiritual Laws for insight. So here I am with Acceptance, letting it percolate.

The premise of Acceptance is to make a commitment each day, to decide: “today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” In short, Acceptance is a commitment to say “yes.” The Law of Least Effort teaches us that committing to Acceptance means we release resistance to whatever is showing up for us at the moment believing that this moment is precisely as it should be because the entire Universe is as it should be.

Yes

photo credit: federicofoto 123rf.com

Stop right now and take stock: this very moment is the culmination of every moment, every choice, leading up to it. To struggle against it, as so many of us do, is pointless and yet can consume an inordinate amount of our energy. So, what happens when we let go of the struggle and instead commit to Acceptance? We release our inner resistance and without resistance we can access the creative genius otherwise available to us in every moment. Sip on that one. This tastes inspired, doesn’t it?

But, there is more.

Acceptance, as I understand it, asks us to show up. There is nothing passive about it. Acceptance is an active choice to take responsibility for what is going down in our lives. First, we make a decision to look at what is in front of us. This means that we do not shy away from or deny what is staring us in the face – whether we are acknowledging what is before us on the political stage of our country, or whether we are looking at what is taking place inside our own homes and hearts. Sometimes it’s rosy and sometimes it’s grey.

Acceptance begins by seeing it all. Seeing it all and acknowledging – owning – that the reaction rising within us is not a response to the person or circumstance we are facing, but to our feelings and conceptions about the person or situation. Through first Accepting we can then begin to take responsibility for what we are seeing and experiencing. Taking responsibility implies our ability to have an appropriate response. We can accept the present as it is and still choose for things to be different in the future.

photo credit:  Dmitro Berezovskyi 123rf.com

photo credit: Dmitro Berezovskyi 123rf.com

Every challenge in our lives urges us to revisit our vision for our future. Every stumbling block and every unforeseen turn in the road has inherent within it an opportunity to exercise our ability to respond in new and inspired ways. Life calls us to get tuned in, tapped in, and turned on to every holy moment – and they’re all holy – presented to us. All that is required is the tiniest shift in perception – one that through Acceptance opens us up to fresh interpretations of reality and ways of Connecting.

In my own life this means that I accept the Canadian political system as it is today and I am taking responsibility, choosing to respond, by voting on Monday. It means that I stop judging myself and my kids and my spouse and instead accept our differences, honing my ability to respond by finding the value in our distinct personalities. It means that when my body starts sending me cues I welcome these with an attitude of gratitude and respond by honouring it – fewer hours in the sun and more hours of sun salutations.

This is the practice. In each moment life invites us to wake up and smell the coffee.

#AcceptAndConnect.

© Miriam Desjardins, 2015

Holy Shit* (and all that through which we are inspired and transformed)

(*If you are uncomfortable with this profanity this may be an uncomfortable read for you. It is not my intention to offend. I do encourage you to sit with your discomfort and just notice it (#mindfulnessinaction). You are also welcome to shut this shit down and move along (#consciouschoicemaking). It’s all good.)

holyshit

What do I know about shit?

Truly, I live a privileged, blessed – very blessed – life. My basic needs are much more than met, I love and am loved, I have my health, I have the luxury of contemplation – of space and time to sit and do nothing should I choose – I live in the midst of mountains and trees and lakes, and with North American comforts at my fingertips. In fact, the majority of us on this continent are living relatively abundant and uncomplicated lives of well-being. And yet, shit happens. Aggravating, annoying shit at best, and heart breaking, life-shattering shit at worst.

And all of it – every last ounce of it – is holy.

Although in the midst of our struggle and our heartbreak nothing could feel further from the truth. As we are moving through it (or sitting amidst it) it is so tempting to feel like the shit is happening outside of us and to us. Other people, circumstances, and situations can really bung us up. “If she hadn’t said that…” or, “if he had just stuck around…” or, “if my parents hadn’t screwed me up…” If it weren’t for THEM then life would be a bowl of prunes. Maybe…

But, I believe we know better than that. I know better than that. I know that surrounding me are people who are unconditionally loving and supportive and yet I may be the first to tell you when something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And, frankly, more often than not it is not someone or something outside of me fouling up my mind/heart/spirit, but simply my own unpleasantness – some days I am a walking shit storm.

Like many people, I presume, I judge myself in these moments. I’m “in a rut,” or “out of balance.” I’m “not at my best” or “really screwing up my kids.” I “don’t know what has gotten into me,” or I’m “just in a bad place.” These are the times that maybe cause us to shake our heads in disbelief at the crap and mutter an expletive. These are what I call ‘holy shit moments’.

I was living a series of these moments not long ago when something happened. All of these stink bombs were going off on the heels of me coming to my daily meditations with some specific intentions, seeking out growth and clarity. Coincidence? Indeed. And in my world all coincidences are meaningful. So I took notice. Here I was looking for direction, connection, empowerment and finally at a place where I felt ready to allow these into my present moment when bam – a ‘holy shit moment’ would happen. Initially these felt like such a departure from where I felt my spirit to be; so why, I wondered, was this shit happening? Then one morning after expelling some verbal excrement in my driveway while loading up my kids and tripping over one emotional obstacle after another, clarity kicked in. “THIS SHIT IS HOLY.” Here was everything I was seeking, all of it a perfect opportunity in this present moment for me to show up to what was showing up for me.

Here I was receiving everything I had been asking for: opportunities to allow all of my potential to express itself. Yet I was standing in my own way judging situations, people, and events as un-perfect when the truth is that all of this shit and dealing with this shit is what gives a person the acumen to show up to life in a fierce, vital and fully actualized way.

Because, what if?

What if all the crap in our lives is sacred? What if every aspect of this ‘being human’ – all of it – is worthy of our reverence?

What if we could transmute all of the shit that crosses our paths so that it becomes an opportunity for us to move more fully and completely into our own power, awesome-ness, and authentic selves. What if accepting the presence of shit is the key to accessing our wholeness?

What if shit is ‘not happening to us but for us?’

What if the only thing that is keeping us from experiencing our completeness is the separation, the sense of separate-ness between our individual self and our universal Self, that we create when we start making distinctions between what is good and bad, worthy and unworthy, welcome and unwelcome in our lives.

What if this shit is holy?

This little tweak in my thinking has been changing my life. It has become a daily practice for me anytime I am feeling challenged, overwhelmed, disheartened, or less-than to turn this shit over. To call my power back to me.

I invite you to join me in the following practice. When someone or something causes you to remark to yourself in shock and disbelief, “Holy shit!” as you wonder how or why this is happening to you or around you:

(1) IMMEDIATELY PAUSE: allow yourself to be in the immediacy of the moment and do nothing, inserting a space between what is happening and your response to it,

(2) INTENTIONALLY BREATHE: calm down that nervous system so you can reflect before you react,

(3) NAME WHAT IS HAPPENING: identify what you feel happening in your body and in your mind. As you witness this moment you shift it from the unconscious to the conscious realm, thus permitting yourself to become active in your choice-making,

(4) SMILE: because you are down with this shit (and because smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters that are, in short, part of a heart healthy diet and serve as a prescription-free anti-depressant),

(5) TURN IT OVER: declare to yourself or whoever else may be in earshot, “This shit is holy!”

(6) NOTICE THE SHIFT: become aware of the subtle change within your body and your mind when you decide to release resistance to the present moment and when you allow yourself to move through life with finesse and faith in your ability to show up to the here and now.

Make this a way of life. Don’t let yourself get distracted by self-condemnation. There is little opportunity for growth in that. The shit, and embracing – and I mean truly welcoming – the shit is what gives you the insight and perceptiveness to discern how to step into and access your depth and potential as a fully actualized human being in this time and space.

This is the practice.

#thisshitisholy

And so it is.

In peace,

Miriam

rumi

Acknowledgments:

Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index: http://www.well-beingindex.com/americas-lead-highs-sub-saharan-africa-lows-in-well-being

#truthbombs via Danialle Laporte: “I call my power back to me now. I am whole and I am complete.” http://www.daniellelaporte.com/truthbomb/

For more on conscious choice-making and the Law of Karma: Chopra, Deepak. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.San Rafael and Novato, California: Deepak Chopra, Amber-Allen Publishing, and New World Library, 1994. Print.

For more on the power of your smile: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile.

 

© Miriam Desjardins, 2015

 

Who Am I?

I became a mom. And then – somehow, somewhere – I lost my mojo. Yup – this was my Austin Powers moment – like waking up in a new decade to new music and not knowing any of the moves on this dance floor.  But, of course, the beat goes on. The story does not end there. This is where it begins: the journey back to me, to the real deal, to my authentic Self. The upper case ‘s’, Self. Not that little ego-reflection of my-self, the one that is consumed with the roles that it plays, with this being a mom deal. Sure, I embrace being a parent. I feel pretty jazzed about all of the roles that I play – most days anyways. But, there came a moment after having kids – or rather a number of little moments that make up THE moment – when simply playing a part just stopped cutting it. I was losing myself in this drama. It occurred to me, if these roles that I play were to disappear then who would be left? Who really is this person that I am? Who am I?

Who. Am. I. Three little words loaded with bang when you ask them together. And I started asking them. Who am I? And, in the asking, I have embarked on a journey back to myself. Along the way I’m reclaiming my mojo – my personal power, my charisma, my influence over the circumstances of my life, the kind of magic that motivates us to leap our asses out of bed in the morning.

Who am I? Who AM I? Some moments I’ve hardly recognized the voice I hear speaking. That nastiness, nagging, whining – is that really me? I hear the words that have worked their way through my vocal chords, yet I don’t recognize myself in them. And I wonder, when did I disappear?

Who am I? There have been days when, going through the motions, I feel a smile on my face. I’m laughing at a joke my kid made. But, my laughter sounds hollow to me – like an echo of some distant joy. But, it’s laughter: check. Pleasant tone of voice: check. Successful multi-tasking of dinner on the stovetop, returning voicemails, helping with homework, wiping up another toddler accident: check. Going through the motions: check.

Check. Who AM I? There was a time when I avoided glancing towards the mirror as I passed it in the foyer on my way out the door. I told myself this was because I’m not that shallow. C’mon – there are bigger things to preoccupy myself with than my looks. I reasoned, “life is busy and I’m busy with important ‘busy-ness’ and I’m taking it all very seriously, so there is no time to waste with vanity.“ I almost had myself convinced. But, truth is a relentless nag: I avoided the reflection because I didn’t recognize it and that scared the hell out of me.

Who am I? Where did “I” go? At times I have felt desperate: desperate to reclaim my joy. Painfully aware that there was more to me beyond these roles I play. I knew this because I asked the question. And something deep within me whispered a reply. A glimpse, that’s all it takes to inspire change, a glimpse of a deeper aspect of our selves.

So, I made a new choice. I made the choice to sit every day – not just some days but every day – to connect with that aspect of myself that is beyond the roles that I play. I sit in silence. It’s a rare moment in my day, silence. I’ve had to get up before the kids and before the sun in order to find this space. But, surprisingly, it was easy to do because I have ached for this. Breathing in this silence, I simply sit. I follow my breath effortlessly, my attention on the rhythm of each inhale and exhale, lingering on each pause between one breath and the next, savoring those briefest of moments when all that exists is the silence and the potential for my next breath. And I know – the way that sometimes you just know – that it is this potential that is the source of all that I am, all that I ever have been, all that I ever will be.

This stills me. My thoughts come and go; I see them, release them gently, and return to my breath. The tightness in my chest begins to ease, and I am reminded of my grandmother’s 1970s window sheers that hung in every room of her home – flimsy, synthetic sheers. It is as though my heart has been shrouded in layer upon layer of these tacky accessories – cocooned, encapsulated. But, each time, as I sit with this stillness, my breath loosens a layer of this suffocation and one of those filmy, synthetic layers just up and floats off and is carried away… and, I feel myself again.

Who am I? I am many. I am mother. I am wife. I am daughter. I am sister. I am friend. I am teacher. I am student. I am lover. I am writer. I am creator. I am believer. I am artist. I am seeker. I am meditator. I am all of these, yes, but so much more. Giving myself this space to be, accessing this silence within me, the pause between my breaths, between my moments, I am pregnant with possibility. I am pure potential.

When I do this day after day, accessing the deepest aspects of my Self, glimpsing my soul, I begin to see with greater clarity. My reflection is transformed, the picture before me whole.  I am whole. I am complete.

I remember me. I remember Who I Am.

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Miriam Desjardins is a Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor and the creator of Mindful Mamas, a series of mindfulness and meditation workshops. Coming from a background of graduate work in International Conflict Management, she is committed to bringing peace to the global community by promoting a shift in consciousness; a shift that she believes must begin at the level of the individual with the world’s moms, dads, and children.

Follow on twitter @mojo_mamas

Healing

As a parent, I ache to protect my children. It pains me to imagine their distress, to see them in fear, or to wonder what harsh realities have yet to rock their worlds. I would do anything to shield them from the horrible disconnect of fear. Naturally, I want them to be safe and happy, to be fulfilled and inspired. And yet…

Life happens. Sometimes, in the face of tragedy and unspeakable horror, I wonder, as we all must, just what is this game we are playing at of being human? In the shadows of pain and suffering, what is the point of this all? What does our human consciousness mean in this time and space, as we hang out precariously on planet Earth? I am no quantum physicist, nor do I hold any impressive knowledge of astronomy or a doctorate of philosophy… but it is pretty clear to me that the odds seem stacked against us being here at all. Yet here we are. And it does not matter what letters precede or succeed your name, or what angle you approach this life from – as a dear friend of mine recently pointed out, “something very special and unique is happening here on Earth, and that’s cool!!”

We can teach our children that when words elude us, and our hearts are breaking, this is our moment of salvation – if only we can recognize it as such. It is the paradox to which these words of the beloved Sufi poet, Rumi, speak: “the wound,” they remind us, “is the place where the Light enters you.”

The horrible, senseless acts that break our hearts apart, unite us in our mourning, bring us together through our compassion, and enliven us as a community as we seek answers and attempt to move through. We embrace our children tightly and are reminded to cherish every moment. We pause in our comings and goings to take notice of the abundance of blessings we enjoy. We get clear; we get intentional on what it is we do not want. And we turn towards that which we do.

When this occurs, indeed, something very special and unique is happening here on Earth. If in our pain, we can embrace the paradox, then maybe we open up space for our grievance to be replaced with a miracle. Our constricted hearts expand just a little; and a shift takes place in our consciousness. Where there was darkness, the light shines. And we look to our present as an opportunity to make new choices, refined by our shared experience.

God only knows what this life means. Together we can teach our children to embrace the uncertainty. We can get comfortable with being at a loss for words, and allowing every moment to surprise us with new perspective. We can urge our children to participate fearlessly in making new choices for this planet. And we can remind them to pay attention as something very special and unique happens here on Earth.

And that – that is profoundly cool.