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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Mirror Mirror

This weekend, I trekked down to Maryland and spent time with a group of stretchers and seekers; those who were willing to dive in deep, go wide, dance with their demons and the Divine. The workshop called Come As You Are invited us to peel off the layers that we thought had protected us and kept us safe but (in my case at least), held me back from being authentic and truly allowing people in.

A little background on the facilitators will put it into perspective.

Eugene Hedlund is a certified 5 Rhythms teacher and the founder of the SheddingSkins path of personal transformation. He is based in San Diego, California and teaches both 5 Rhythms and SheddingSkins workshops throughout the US and in Europe. The SheddingSkins path is a seamless blend of Movement Meditation, Sound Alchemy, Shamanic Ritual and Tantric Ceremony into one cohesive practice where each of these medicines are used to create a comprehensive system of personal transformation.

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Monique Darling has studied with phenomenal teachers since the 1990s and offers private sessions, workshops & cuddle parties around the country spreading her love and healing.She has been featured on TLC, The Dr’s, and interviewed in magazine’s for the work she is doing. She is the founder of Divine Interludes where she specializes in transmuting fear and repression into courage, love & freedom. Helping people reclaim their voices and expressing themselves at full volume.

Together they wove a safe chrysalis in which we budding butterflies could grow until we were ready to break free. They coached but did not crack us open. We were to do that ourselves should we choose, and on one level or another, we did. I did something uncharacteristic as I immersed fully as a participant with only a slight departure as I viewed the exercises and dynamics from the perspective of a therapist/facilitator myself. I cut myself some slack there, acknowledging that it is an occupational hazard. In other words, I took off my professional hat and just allowed for whatever arose for me.

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As the day progressed, I found myself increasingly willing to shed my own figurative skin that I had grown over the years that I thought defined me. One exercise that was blow me out of the water amazing, elegant and thorough is called Circle of Mirrors created by Eugene. The group sat on the floor in a circle and one by one (and totally by choice) we were invited to step into the center and walk around the space sharing about an issue we had brought with us to the workshop. What followed me there was a persistant drive to DO all the time, scrambling to accomplish, Type A, what I jokingly call being ‘functionally manic’ with an inability it seemed, to put the brakes on for very long. As I started the process, I brought to mind two images that had arisen in a previous exercises. The first was one that has been with me since childhood that I referred to as ‘Little Shirley Temple:  Everybody’s Sweetheart’ who would tap dance to please, entertain and ‘be loved best of all’. As she was dancing, she also was diagnosed with asthma and foot issues that required treatment for the first and clunky red orthopedic shoes (hard to tap dance in them and not very graceful). On top of that, she was a really smart and inquisitive child who would read incessantly and ask copious questions. She felt different from most of her peers as a result. With that in mind, she became hyper competitive with herself and filled her life (even back then) with tons of activities….swim team, Hebrew School, Girl Scouts, volunteering, friends… sounds like prep for the life I live now. Add to that another persona that I call “Zen Goddess” who is here to heal the world, beam love and light and be totally calm in the face of chaos, serene at all times. This exercise resembles psychodrama as people were invited to step in as these various roles. One of the men became Shirley….dancing and singing On The Good Ship Lollipop. A woman took on the role of the one who felt bogged down with the physical challenges, someone else was my busy-buzzy on the go role and still another sat in the center, in half lotus, hands in mudra position, eyes closed, chanting oo0o0o0o0o0ommmm. Watching all of this going on at once, my various components doing their thang; singing, dancing, slogging,  holding her brainiac head, zooming around, being all spiritual and whatnot, my tears turned into laughter as I recognized what I had done to myself all in supposed service to the entrenched belief that it was necessary to hold on to the love that I experienced as a child. At the end of the experience I thanked the first person/persona for teaching me how to be center stage with confidence, the second for helping to ground me and challenge me, the third to invite me to learn alot and drink in the world, never bored, the zoomer to help me juggle an active schedule, multi task and achieve and the final for assisting me in my spiritual journey. I referred to this merging of the various aspects of myself as “Divine Guidance”. At the moment, I am in re-entry and integrative mode, allowing for new revelations to arise. Although I have shed skin, I don’t feel raw as I had inticipated as if I was sunburned. Instead, I am glowing pleasantly. Grateful beyond words  to Monique and Eugene, as well as my fellow travelers;  my beautiful mirrors who held me in love and respect that came un-earned, like grace itself.

www.sheddingskins.com

www.divineinterludes.com

 

 

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Inspired and Unstoppable

Did you ever feel as if a book was written just for you and the author had done a Vulcan Mind Meld and effectively tapped into your deepest desires and most heart rending fears?  This writer and her book did exactly that for this reviewer.  Harvard educated attorney, Tama Kieves left a ‘secure’ job as a successful (by the world’s standards) attorney to cavort with her dreams. She wrote about that journey in her first book called This Time I Dance! Since then, she has worked with countless people to assist them in living their own visions. In her second book, Inspired and Unstoppable:  Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, (yes, the word Succeeding is in bold on the cover:) Tama invites the reader into her own messy and marvelous mind. Did I ever feel at home there as she expresses many of the same doubts and fears, joys and challenges that I face as an author who has recently left a long time job to embrace my own path? You betcha!

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Particularly engaging about Inspired…is that Tama writes with an authentic voice, without sugar coating her feelings. She dares to be REAL, even if her heart is pounding in rhythm with her doubts. She incorporates musings from her journals as well as quotes from notables such as Wayne Dyer, Pema Chodron, Abraham Hicks, Henry David Thoreau and from A Course In Miracles.  At the onset of each chapter are said quotes and at the end are reinforcing concepts that she has already woven into the text which she calls Inspired Successisms. You may find yourself wanting to copy them down, like fortune cookie slips and keep them in your wallet.  “Just because you don’t have a plan nailed down doesn’t mean you’re a loose screw.” ” I came to see that self- acceptance does not lead to self- indulgence, but to strength and self -reliance.”  and “Love sells. Joy sells. Connection sells. Great energy draws abundant opportunities to you. It’s just natural and inevitable.”

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Chapter titles include Lovers Sell More Than Critics,  It Takes A Break To Have A Breakthrough, You’ll Have Bigger Fish To Fry When You’re Not Fried, and Take It In Or You Can’t Win. Each one incorporates wisdom gleaned from her own life experiences and those of family, friends and clients over the years. At the back of the book are what she refers to as The Practices:  Portals Back To Inspired Living that include exercises such as The Win List (things she has done to keep her dream boat afloat), Mojo Mantras (a phrase that pays to repeat over and over until you absorb it) and Inspired Self-Dialogues ( a conversation between the you who doubts and dramatizes and your wise mind, Higher Self or whatever your perception of the Divine might be). I use these practices and find them helpful.

This book is the ideal guide for anyone who desires to lovingly lead a life (both personally and professionally) that is worthy of the magnficence that they are.

www.tamakieves.com

 

 

 

 

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Teshuvah

 

As evening descends on Yom Kippur, I am pleasantly full following a day of fasting. I broke the fast at the home of my friends Barb and Glenn Cohen. I have known Barb since we were 14 and we became ‘blood sisters’ way back when. As seasoned women, we have seen each other through many joys and challenges including children growing up and parents dying. Tonight brought with it a heaping portion of joy, as overflowing as the tables of  pot luck food that 20 some family members and friends brought to share. I sat back and watched as multiple generations laughed, chatted, hugged and ate. When it was time to clean up and  I carried empty plates out of the the dining room, I noticed a framed poem I had written (one of many I had given them over the years) that honored Yom Kippur. I wrote it 12 years ago and share it with you now.

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Yom Kippur-Day of At-One-Ment

On this day, we reconnect with the power and might of God.

Opening our hearts and pouring forth our deepest fears and most fervent prayers.

Allowing the Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit to descend upon us.

We confess our ‘sins'; those times when we have missed the mark, trusting that

God will allow us to take aim attempt once again to be the people we were meant to be.

We set forth to make amends to those we have harmed, either by thought, word

Or deed, by intention or mischance.

We accept forgiveness of those whose thoughts , actions, words or deeds have injured us in any way.

We recognize the one-ness that exists between ourselves and all creation.

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May we know that the opportunity for ‘teshuvah’- turning exists not merely on this day, but everyday.

Edie Weinstein © Copyright 2012

If you read  the  Bliss Blog for Wednesday, you will have seen that my intention was to go to the waterside and meditate and write. As circumstances would have it, that didn’t occur since other things came up that needed to be handled. I did do the ritual at home with the mala beads, bringing to mind and heart those whose lives have touched mine in profound ways as I sent them love and blessings. I was also called on to face my own judgments toward myself and others. One of the grrrr moments came when I held a thought that ‘people who intentionally harm others shouldn’t get what they want in life’ as if I was in charge of meting out cosmic justice. I believe in karma and life lessons that arrive as a result of our actions. Most who know me, see me as fairly even keeled and calm. Inside is a different story, as I sometimes have a seething cauldron about to boil over when I witness acts of violation toward people or, frankly, any life on the planet. I also know that holding anger and resentment toward folks for their behavior, doesn’t change what they do and feeds the common toxic pot.  So, how does a self proclaimed spiritual person who teaches this stuff, face her own judge and jury? She breathes, asks for Divine support and inspiration, reframing the actions as those of people who are clearly hurting in some way. Understanding and being compassionate doesn’t excuse or justify someone’s behavior. Expressing discomfort is a human reaction in and of itself. I attempt to re-direct someone as tactfully as I can, suggesting another way of looking at or interacting. Sometimes it work wonders and other times, it falls flat.

On this day, I am chosing to turn my own judge in, as I too, turn my life around.

http://www.onelovechant.com/music-21.html Return Again performed by One Love Chant (lyrics and music by Shlomo Carlebach)

 

 

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At-one-ment

 

..In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you  shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work … For on that day he  shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the  L-RD. -Leviticus 16:29-30

Having been raised in the Jewish faith, attending services at Congregation Beth Torah (a Conservative synagogue) in Willingboro, NJ, Yom Kippur loomed large (and as a young child)  sometimes forboding. The concept of ‘atoning for sins’, ‘ afflicting our souls’ and ‘being written in the Book of Life’ for another year,  before the sun set on that day, puzzled and bewildered me. I wondered what I could have done that could have me cast out of the circle of love and acceptance into which I was born and what those I held close could have done to have lost God’s favor. My parents explained that it was more symbolic than literal, but they still recited the prayers that implied those things. What I did enjoy about this, considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, was time with my parents and sister. We would walk the mile or so from our home to the shul, in our finery (much like  some Christians who wear nice Easter outfits), since many Jews don’t drive on Y0m Kippur.  When I was younger, we would sit together, next to our mother and father, and as I had mentioned in the blog entry about Rosh Hashanah, I loved to lean into my dad and play with the fringes of his tallis (prayer shawl); such comfort there. As a teen, I sat in the back with my friends, as we were sometimes being ‘shushed’ by older members of the congregation, with fingers raised to lips and disapproving looks. We would duck outside and sit perched on the wall by the front door, chattering away about all kinds of things of interest to adolescents . I recall one rather embarressing situation at 13 or 14, when my father came out to look for me and asked me to come back in. One of the other girls rolled her eyes and commented (once my father had walked back through the wooden doors) that they were talking about “important things like boys and clothes” and “Edie has to go back to services.”, with a tssk tssk sound. At that moment, I felt like I was cast out of the realm of the cool kids to total nerd-dom.  In retrospect, I can laugh at it, but at that moment, I did feel like my teenage soul was afflicted. I have to tell you that it took YEARS for me to forgive this girl for her humiliating comment, since I would experience an internal grrrrr each time I thought about that moment. The funny thing is, that when she and I actually re-connected in adulthood via the internet, and I did a ‘come clean’ with her and shared the experience, she said she didn’t recall the incident but did apologize for hurting my feelings all those years ago.

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One of the most potent aspects of this holiday is the concept of forgiveness. We are called on to extend and accept forgiveness with those in our lives and the world in general. One of the prayers that I have modified to fit my more peaceful/compassionate sensibilities is called the Al Chet. ‘Chet’ is the Hebrew word for ‘sin’ and it translates to ‘missing the mark’ as in archery. There are many arrows with which we can aim at the intended target of goodness; whatever that may mean. I prefer to think of it as a ‘heart-board’ rather than dart board, to which we attract loving people and experiences. The prayer has us reciting all of the potential wrong-doings and then pounding on our hearts. I much prefer expressing individual regrets, resentments, judgments that I have held toward myself and others, whether or not I know them and then placing my hand on my heart and send it healing.  We also fast, and in my mind, it is not depriving, but rather, cleansing and mindful.

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One of my personal rituals that I have done since college, is sitting by a body of water, writing what it is I want to release, and then how I choose to step into the new year with open heart. A few years ago, I began a new one, reflecting my eclectic spiritual leanings. I carried with me, mala beads and as each of the 108 beads ran through my fingers, I thought of a person who had touched my life and sent them a blessing. I actually did it twice around, since so many faces appeared before me. Links in a  daisy chain of love.

I will be heading out later today to engage in that experience and am eager to immerse in a sense of at-one-ment which is, to me, at the core of atonement…..a knowing of undeniable connection with a God who could never in a million years, abandon us and who showers us with goodness and mercy for the work-in-progress human beings that we are.

http://youtu.be/Kww33eLc6Cs Mercy -Dave Matthews Band

 

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