Awhile ago I was struggling to get started on a new novel. A friend suggested I get myself a little totem, something I could refer to that would remind me why I write. I was feeling so stuck and uninspired I couldn't even think of what my totem could be. She asked if there was some book that had perhaps originally moved me so much it made me want to be a writer. I knew instantly what that book was: Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge.
There's a particular passage that, when I read it decades ago, changed the course of my life. Knowing that books truly can open people's minds and change their lives has always been the thing to light a fire in my furnace of creativity and will-power. When I'm just not sure why I do this or who I'm doing it for, I return to this passage. I tore the page out of the book and put it in a frame. It's now sitting on my desk and it's my totem, my personal item that I know in an instant what it means when I look at it. Here is my favorite line from it:
Perhaps you could use your own personal totem. Something that will either get you fired up in the first place, or rekindle a passion that you once had but has dimmed out lately. If you can't think of one, don't force it. One will come to you, and you'll know it when you see it. Ideally, it will be something you can either carry with you or put in a place you'll always see it. It should be personal to you, something that speaks to your heart. It won't make sense to anyone else, and it might not even be something people give a second glance to. But you'll know. You'll feel a little rekindling, like a dying coal being blown on and brought back to life, each time you look at it.
This intelligent and talented person recently stood before some really intimidating people and spoke about what she's passionate about: gender equality. In her speech Emma says, "For the record, feminism is, by definition, the belief that men and women should have equal rights." She discusses why she's speaking up not only for women, but for men also. Equality is about a kinder and more supportive world for everyone. Emma would like to remind people feminism isn't about us against them. It's about coming together for everyone who suffers because of inequality, but especially for those women that live in places where violent and traumatic incidences are still the norm. Below is an inspiring quote she gave awhile ago that helps me to see that getting the courage to step up to that podium was part of an on going journey in self-acceptance.
Here is some music you can play while you meditate during tonight's new moon. This is also a great track to use anytime you are going through change or you want to create a shift in your life. This is the background music for a guided meditation called Energy Refresher, which I have retired from my store.
The music shifts tone halfway through, going from an Earthy tone to a light and airy one, and is ideal for feeling balanced between Earth and Sky. It helps you to ground and open up, and to truly absorb the feelings of "As above, so below." It's also perfect for reflecting on and embracing (rather than resisting) the shifts in energy that are happening right now.
The track begins with a blend of soft rain and a healing sound tone. The healing tone is 528 hz, also known as the miracle frequency, or the miracle healing tone. It's just enough to quiet the chatter in your mind and soothe your body and soul. As you listen to this earthy music feel all the old you're ready to release rising up out of you like old weeds being dug up from the earth. The deeper the roots of these weeds the better it will feel to get them out. Allow it all to rise, and know you will release it soon.
Halfway through the music transitions into a beautiful Gregorian monk chant blended with a subtle wind sound. This last half has a very light and airy feel, a perfect balance to the grounding and earthy beginning. With the winds imagine all that old gunk you pulled up being blown away. There's nothing you have to do - just let the wind carry it all away so that the fresh and new can fill into your life. Imagine this wind being cool and refreshing, waking you up for the next phase of your life.
If you would like a deeper experience tuning within for healing, release, divine connection and more, try one of my guided meditations. The mp3's range in price from $1.99 - $5.99 and in length from 10 to 33 minutes.
When I was in my twenties, I got deep, cystic acne all down my face and neck.
After a few years, my skin healed and I put the experience behind me. I wanted to pretend it had never happened and destroyed almost every photo of myself from that time.
I couldn’t bear to look at photos that reminded me of constant pain and insecurity.
When I looked at them, I would feel my shame, my sadness, and my disappointment in myself. I would feel how unattractive I had felt, how unworthy of love I had felt. I would feel regret for having wasted those precious years consumed with self-loathing.
A decade later, I can see that my struggle was like a field of freshly planted seeds. The seeds took root in the darkness of the soil. As time passed, they grew up and out into the light. The more they grew, the more I could see I'd been given a field full of gifts.
I had been given the gift of being forced to find self-worth in something other than my appearance. I had been given the gift of learning the importance of quiet nights of reflection and meditation. I had been given the gift of finding strength in times of trial.
It took me a long time to get the courage to dig up the remaining photos. For better or worse, I’d destroyed the absolute worst of them. Even still, when I looked at them I shuddered at the idea of voluntarily sharing them.
I knew that rejecting this part of my life wasn’t healthy.
One day, I felt a need, a yearning really, to come into wholeness. I put the photos up on this blog and my heart pounded. I didn't know what I was so afraid of. Once I hit publish, a wave of relief swept through me.
By embracing all that I’d gone through, I finally started to feel that I had never done anything wrong. I’m sure that seems obvious, but it was so hard to let go of feeling I’d failed myself and my body. I see now I’d never failed myself, because I’d learned something powerful about self-healing, which was perhaps the best gift of all.
As soon as I had begun learning to love myself, as I was, my skin began to heal and clear up. The correlation became obvious: my continual stress over how I looked was a big factor in keeping the acne going. I had to learn to stop resisting what was happening, to stop hating myself and my skin so much, learn to love myself, and stop tearing myself apart in my mind all the time.
At first, self-love had felt impossible. I didn't know where to begin. How could I love myself when I looked and felt hideous?
The first step was a simple but powerful one: acceptance.
I hated myself and what was happening, and I allowed myself to see that without judgment. I felt what I felt and that's all there was too it. I then started asking myself what made me worthy of love. I did this more, cycling through these two things, acceptance and deepening my self-love, like this endless hug where I kept opening my arms wider and wider and welcoming myself in more and more over the years.
When I put the photos up, I came into awareness that the current me, the one with good, clear skin, was still ashamed and afraid of the old me. To truly heal, I needed to learn to love that person again, from my new vantage point. I had to deepen and expand my self-acceptance.
Here's what I thought about the photos when I dug them up: Oh my god, gross! That is ugly and disgusting. She is gross and unworthy of love. I hate how that person looks and I don't want anyone to see her. I cannot believe she went out in public looking like that.
Letting all of those feelings rise up so they could release was at first scary, but then liberating.
It was like a ball I'd been shoving under water, pretending there was no ball. The deeper I tried to push the ball under water, the more effort it took. Even worse, some part of me was always afraid someone would see what I was hiding, which only deepened my angst.
Without so much energy on resistance, my natural feelings about my old self came through. When I look at the photos, what I see now is a brave person.
A person who taught me about self-love and the beauty of my soul. A person that taught me the importance of compassion, not only for myself, but for others who are struggling in some way.
I still get break outs, but a decade later, my skin looks miraculously different. Through my own experience I have come to not just believe in, but to know the importance of self-love and self-acceptance in health and happiness.
My journey of self-discovery is never ending, and I constantly find myself coming into more wholeness and feelings of love.
This love feels more complete, warm and open than it did when I was younger. It doesn't feel so forced, or like I'm loving me "in spite of things." I don't look at those old pictures and tell myself my imperfection is what makes me perfect. I just look and think, Here is a person with unlimited power and love inside them. Here is a person who climbed their inner mountain, and found a pretty spectacular view from the top.
I wouldn't trade my journey for any other.
The bigger the struggle, the bigger the catalyst to seek and discover your true Self, your inner light, who you are on a soul level. There is nothing more awe inspiring than turning inside and realizing that what you are is as infinite, glorious and magnificent as the birth of a galaxy.
So maybe you feel like I did and think you're pretty effing gross. Maybe it's just your own soul trying to get your attention, trying to get you to wake up, to look at yourself in a new way, to gaze deep inside until you find your inner most point and realize, you are a cosmic mystery of divine perfection.
For other posts in the Meditation Monday series click here.
Share with others who would like to explore or expand their meditation process:
"If you want something you've never had before, you've got to do something you've never done before."
Some ideas for adding a little variety to your life:
Today's topic isn't so much a meditation, but something that will enhance your meditation process. One of the benefits of meditation is that it can rewire your brain, unlaying patterns of thought and belief tracks you no longer desire to follow. At the same time, it will help you to create new tracks for how you want to think, feel and interact with the world. With these inner changes will undoubtedly come outer changes in your life.
Although meditation is a positive and powerful way to bring in the new, the new is unknown. The unknown can be scary, and a lot of people stop meditating, unsure why, they just start to blow it off and find excuses not to do it. A lot of this is because they're changing and it makes them uncomfortable. Don't give up on your growth! You can navigate your new life and new self with ease and grace:
All you must do is be open to a little change and variety in your life. These little changes will slowly become your new norm, opening you up to try more new things, and you'll start to see big changes happen in your life. They'll come so easy and naturally you won't even realize how far you've gone until you look back one day and think, "Holy shit! I'm in an entirely life!"
As you become more open and flexible in your outer world, you will become more open in your inner world. Your mind will soften and release the need to follow what it always has. It will open more during meditation, your ability to release the old will quicken, you will embrace new beliefs and habits faster, and you will find yourself traveling to inner-peace at lightening speed. This will thus lead to even more changes in your outer world, and this will help you grow internally, and on and on in an unending cycle of positive growth and expansion. Allowing one to support the other will create a chain of momentum that could lead to miraculous changes in your life. As with everything, balance is the key. Balance the outer and the inner and all will be well.
I was recently invited to speak on a panel at a blogging workshop.
My first thought was, absolutely! My second thought was, oh no. Who am I to speak at a panel? What advice could I possibly have? I wasn't accomplished, I wasn't featured anywhere, I wasn't anyone as far as I was concerned.
I was even more fearful of the questions, who are you, Monique? And what is your blog about? What was I supposed to say? Did I have anything to say?
I prepped as much as any person could prep, but on the way there, I felt like my body was being peeled apart, strip by strip. I felt like my chest was full of fire ants and my heart was the queen of them all. I could feel myself start to sweat in the back of my neck and at the line where my forehead meets my hair. I could feel my face getting hot. I imagined myself burning up in front of everyone, sweating and blushing and fumbling with my words. I imagined myself regretting the entire thing afterwards, and never doing it again. I imagined myself a fool, and a failure.
The greatest part about this imagined tragedy, is that it's imagined.
We have outstanding imaginations. They take us on journeys we don't even want to go on. They make our bodies react with fear when there's no danger. It's beautiful really, but no amount of imagined tragedy was going to affect the deliverance of my performance.
If I blushed or fumbled my words, the cops weren't going to come and take me away. If they thought I didn't make sense or if they didn't like what I had to say, they weren't going to get up and yell at me about it. They weren't going to walk out or call me names. This was a blogging workshop, not a city planning meeting.
But where does that wild imagination come from?
This idea that we are unworthy of being in front of people, and so unworthy, in fact, that the moment we open up our mouths, we think we're going to be criticized, judged, or humiliated. It's scary, all of the nonsense that's hardwired into our brains, but it's experiences like this one, that teach us that that's all it really is--nonsense.
Once it was my turn to speak, and I got over the initial shock of being handed the mic and asked the pivotal question, who are you? it became a lot easier to ease into. People were taking notes and asking questions. They weren't concerned with me or whether or not I was capable of answering these questions. They didn't question themselves with my reason for being there or whether or not I was worthy. They opened up their minds and ears and listened, something that was never a part of my ‘imagined tragedy’.
The best advice I can give anyone who is about to speak, is you won’t know what you have to say until you say it. There’s no preparing for it. You can try to gather a few things that you know you should probably touch on, but I think the brain naturally comes up with answers when you’re on the spot, and they end up being better than anything you could have come up with in front of a mirror the night before. I know because I tried that too.
At the end of the day, what pulled me through it was my love for blogging, and it’s that sort of love that will allow me to conquer this type of fear again and again. This panel wasn't really about me or whether or not I was worthy of being there, it was about sharing the knowledge of what I’d learned up until this point. It was about helping to spread the word of blog. It was about relaying all of the good that comes out of expressing yourself on a digital page, in your very own digital corner.
And I knew right when they started asking great questions, that I was someone. I was a blogger. And I had plenty to say.
Have you ever woken up hating life?
If so, how did the day go from there? Did it get better, or was it a bumpy ride until you finished it with a sigh of relief?
When I wake up with dread, the day always feels heavy, and what happens in it is neither fulfilling nor uplifting. Too often we spend our first minutes of the day wishing for a different job, a different body, even a different life. These kinds of thoughts make it impossible to face the day with enthusiasm and passion. When we lack those two things, we rarely take the steps necessary to get to a place where we wake up excited and passionate. It's a tough cycle, but one you can break out of.
If you maximize your waking moments, create positive momentum for the day, and repeat every morning you will change the pattern of waking up with dread and then going to bed frustrated.
The following is a simple yet effective morning ritual that only take a few minutes. I use it everyday, and it's made a huge shift in how open I am, how quickly I let go of setbacks, where I focus my energy, and even my ability to take on new challenges.
As soon as you wake up, smile
No matter what you're thinking about, start smiling. No matter what sort of day you had yesterday, smile. If you’re facing a tough day, smile.
It doesn't matter if it's fake and you feel like shit, you'll still get the benefits. Smiling reduces stress, relaxes the body, improves the immune system and more.
Smile for one minute, breathing deep as you do so.
As you smile, think about the sun rising, and the new energy it’s bringing. Think about the energy of new possibility each day brings and smile. Breathe in the freshness, and if your thoughts wander to other things, gently remind yourself that this one minute is for you, and you want to spend it focusing on the sun and it’s revitalizing energy.
Choose a color and imagine breathing it in for a few minutes
Breathe it in as a cloud of color-infused energy that goes to every corner of your body.
You might choose the color of the qualities you want in the day. For example, choose pink for a day filled with love, or green for a day filled with abundance.
As you breathe in, breathe the color into your bones and all throughout your skeletal system, which is your support system. Breathe the color into your muscles, your brain, your heart, your lungs, and each organ. Breathe it into every cell, fiber, nerve and corner of your body.
Then, breathe it into the space between your cells, into your aura and imagine a gold ring forming around it, holding this energy in place and filtering out what you don't want all day.
Say thank you in your mind or out loud
I wish you a great day, and remember, no matter what happens, you're doing the best you can.
Whatever you do is perfectly right for you at this time. Take it one day at at time.
Try not to compare yourself to anyone else, including you. What you can do one day might not be the same the next. Don't worry about it.
Wake up the next day, smile, breathe in the energized color, say thank you, and carry on.
I'm honored and excited for the stories I'll be sharing in my new series, overcoming obstacles. Each weekend a person will be featured who has taken an active step in their life in moving past something that scares or limits them.
As I try to face my own fears I am also exploring new ways to handle what this process brings up. Lately, I have started to feel myself lose my grounding in my heart. Our heart center, or heart chakra, is pure love, and it's what keeps us feeling balanced and rejuvenated. When we lose our grounding there we can be overcome with thoughts of self-doubt, anxiety, limitation and an overall sadness. It's okay to feel nervous, especially as you grow beyond your comfort zone. The key is to temper those nerves with moments of regrounding. The meditation on my homepage is a great way to do this, or you can try this simple exercise for a deeper experience:
Sit down to meditate as your normally do. Set the intention that no matter what comes up you will allow it flow. As you breathe in, breathe all of your energy into your heart. Visualize everything flowing down from your head and up from your lower torso, pulling everything into your center. As you breathe out, sing HU, and see your energy flow back out. As it flows out see the energy as pure and white, and spreading out evenly to every corner of your body and aura. HU is a mantra, like AUM, and it will help return your energy to pure love. This process is like sending all of your energy through a gentle and loving wash cycle.
While doing this exercise, I always feel the thoughts and fears that hold me back come up, and I just acknowledge them and let them flow through the process. The track below is 18 minutes and features a group of 2,000 people singing HU. Focusing on your heart and this process for the full length of the track should help you to feel more centered, grounded and clear than you have in a long time.
For other posts in the Meditation Monday series click here.
Share with others who would like to explore or expand their meditation process:
Do you feel a little like your energy scattered in a million directions this week? If so, here's a 4.5 minute video that will balance your mind, body and spirit. You'll have to get up and do some light movements, but these are not aerobic. They are intended to get your chi flowing, and to help you balance all of your energies from left to right and top to bottom. Have a restorative and nourishing rest of the day, and remember, this video can be used in a preemptive way also. Use these little movements to start the week off balanced. If you think others would benefit please share!