Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Why This Election May Be Challenging For Us

Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing is a field. I'll meet you there. 

As Hilary Clinton delivered her gracious concession speech, I found myself wanting to see a little emotion. She's strong, so so strong. The shots of young women in the audience expressing their sadness spoke volumes about the impact of this election. Maybe there's something here. What is the essence of our cultural response? Here's a little light from my morning meditation.

We evolve through the feminine aspect of our emotions. (This is an over simplification and  my viewpoint. For a more detailed analysis see this link.) When we feel our feelings, really feel them, they remind us that we are alive. Strong feelings can be challenging and enlivening. When we connect with our feelings we are, in a sense, connecting with our deeper essence. So these feelings of fear, disconnection, dislike, anger, desperation are reminders that we are alive. Likewise, the feelings of elation, love, connection and happiness similarly remind us that we are alive. 

We are alive in bodies in space and time. Each soul incarnates in a body to fulfill some destiny. Our soul provides the blueprint for that destiny. When we are in touch with our soul we can connect with our destiny. That is why we should not be disengaged with these feelings that come up around this election. They are feelings that can serve to remind us that we are souls living a human life. Perhaps the feelings we are feeling are pointing us in the direction of our destiny.

These external events (like this election) are always clues to our personal spiritual journeys. What we perceive externally is a reflection of what we are dealing with internally. Here’s an idea. Sit with yourself quietly and just follow your breath. Follow it into the nose through the body and then follow it as you exhale through the nose. Take some long slow deep breaths and just notice the body calming down. Be still. Try this for a minute or so.

Now, let your breathing relax and come back to normal.  Keep the eyes closed and let your awareness be on the experience inside your body. Don’t confuse the experience of your body with your thoughts. Let the thoughts be separate. Simply feel what you feel.  Can you notice the subtle energy that runs through the being you call you? It can be very quiet at first so be patient with yourself if you don't really feel anything. Keep at it. Over time and with practice the you - the true you - will begin to shine through and your experience will be more available with less effort.

So what does all this “soul stuff” have to do with feeling the feelings after this election? Well, I believe that this is our personal and collective opportunity to evolve toward love. We can use this reminder that things are still “off” in our world. We’re still judgmental and biased and flawed.

We are still human. But we are also divine. We still have this more feminine aspect of our emotional selves yet to evolve. Maybe that is what needs to happen before a female president can be elected. Just a thought. 

To evolve toward love we need to acknowledge these feelings of fear, anger and disconnection. We need to recognize them as a call to our deeper wisdom, the wisdom that resides in our souls. Our souls are not related to our skin color or our sex. They are our unique blueprint, designed by God, to live on this planet at this particular time in his/herstory, in a body, where we are meant to feel the feelings. 


P.S. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please seek guidance from a professional. Know you are not alone, many seem to be feeling the intensity at this time. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Letting Go - With Gratitude.

November 1st is here and what a month looms ahead! We’ve all had it up to our eyeballs with the election. Finally next week it will be over and we must repair the damage done. There has been damage to our collective psyches. We have been unkind to one another. I have seen it. You have seen it too, I am sure. We are so much better than this. We all just want to live our lives, to love and be loved, to be happy and healthy. We need each other. We can’t let this take us down. We won’t. 

Personally, this has also been a season of loss. My father-in-law passed away and our family came together to celebrate his life in such a beautiful way. He was a great guy and we are all so grateful for his life and love. I have noticed a lot of people have experienced similar losses this Fall. It has been a time of grief and transition. Maybe you have noticed that as the leaves fell from the trees it was just time to let certain things go. Makes sense, but darn, it can it be hard.

In the last days of October I have been brooding a bit about how to move gracefully through this time of transition. Yes I brood. I can brood hard. 
I was brooding so much I was annoying myself so I knew it was time to get moving through it. This morning I woke with the answer - Gratitude.

It seems so simple. I know about gratitude. I have a chapter about it in Back to HappyGratitude works to soften the hardest of hearts and the deepest of pain. A daily gratitude practice is just the prescription for this brooding heart.

I awoke this morning with this knowing. This will be a month-long deep study of gratitude. It’s time to get things moving, to create a shift. I know how to do this. We can all do this!

Here’s my prescription. Let’s call it P-cubed:

1. Prayer is first. Everyday I will find a prayer of gratitude. Maybe I will find it in the psalms as today (Psalm 65). Maybe I will find it in poetry.
Maybe I will write it myself. 
2. Practice is next. I will find time every day to meditate (stillness) and practice yoga (movement). I will list five things everyday that I am grateful for and really take time to appreciate each thing listed.

3. And finally, Prevention. To prevent the negativity from creeping back in I will call in the heavy artillery. I will use essential oils. I will get a massage every now and then and practice radical self care. I will exercise daily and eat lots of good fall fruits and vegetables. I will prepare soups for myself and my family. Lastly, I will give back by sharing this gratitude study with my yoga students in class all month long.

And finally, a bonus p, the podcast, Happy Healthy You! I am so excited to share the podcasts this month. First, we have a guest who reminds us to let go of our culture’s dictates about how we are to age. "They" say that midlife is a time of loss and we must accept it. Who are “they” to tell us how we should age anyway? Lets let it go ladies, shall we? Dr. Robi Ludwig has a whole new take on midlife and beyond and it looks really great to me. I am anxious to read her new book Your Best Age is NowNext, we have an inspiring guest, Jeff Griffin who is a wheelchair athlete, a Guinness Book of World Records holder, with a story that will blow you away. Although paralyzed, he sets the bar really high for himself and never loses hope. I guarantee he has a gratitude practice.

So that’s the plan. Will you join me? I invite you to grab a journal and jot down your blessings everyday, practice prayer, yoga and a little meditation. Be kind to yourself first and then spread that kindness around. Lord knows we need it now more than ever. We can get through this transition time. We can and we will - together.

Namaste and Love,

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Humility and Happiness

These days I am slightly obsessed with Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar ordained to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church in 1970. He is an internationally known inspirational speaker and has published numerous recorded talks and books, Yes, And...: Daily Meditations, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, and Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi.  He has a new book coming out this month that I cannot wait to get my hands on entitled The Divine Dance. Here’s the description on his Amazon page:

“What if changing our perception of God has the potential to change everything?
God is not what you think. Visions of an angry, distant, moral scorekeeper or a supernatural Santa Claus handing out cosmic lottery tickets to those who attend the right church or say the right prayer dominate our culture. For many others, God has become irrelevant or simply unbelievable. In The Divine Dance, Fr. Richard Rohr (with Mike Morrell) points readers to an unlikely opening beyond this divinity impasse: the at–times forgotten, ancient mystery of the Trinity―God as utterly one, yet three.

Drawing from Scripture, theology, and the deepest insights of mystics, philosophers, and sages throughout history, Fr. Rohr presents a compelling alternative to aloof and fairytale versions of God:
One God, belovedly in communion, as All–Vulnerable, All–Embracing, and All–Given to you and me.

The Divine Dance makes accessible and practicable the Christian tradition’s most surprising gift…

God as Dance.
Are you ready to join in?”

Provocative right? I know. I will join in Richard! I think I love him. (Insert Partridge Family song.)

I really wish I could get him on the podcast. Hmmmmm…

This seems to be a question on the minds of a whole lot of us, based on the number of books out there on the subject. The numbers of people suffering with addiction is staggering. Depression is an epidemic. And the deep dissatisfaction that is manifesting in violence on our streets is sadly an everyday thing on our mainstream media.

According to a 2013 Harris poll just 33% of Americans report being happy and that was down two points from the 2009 study. 

What is it we are missing? I ask this all the time in different ways to some of our guests on the Happy Healthy You! podcast. My basic thesis upon starting the podcast was that happiness arises from a healthy balance of mind or mental health, bodily health and wellness and regular spiritual practice and connection. I still firmly believe this after three years of doing the podcast, maybe even more. But perhaps I need to dig a little bit deeper.

So, for my yoga teachings and for some of the podcasts I am going to dig in and look more deeply at some of the ways we get in the way of our happiness and some of the more specific ways we can enhance it. I like going deeper. In fact I rarely enjoy being on the surface. It’s intense to be me. Maybe I will even lighten things up with some meditation and prayer. 
Sounds like a party to me. Woo hoo! You in?

Lets talk about humility and happiness, shall we? What is the connection? How can awareness of our prideful, egoic natures help us find more satisfaction and ultimately happiness, maybe even joy? Lots of people have had opinions on the subject.

First we should look to the experts for a definition of the word humility. Wikipedia's an expert, right? OK, sure why not. Here’s what whomever cared enough about humility to write about it there: 
Humility is the quality of being humble. In a religious context this can mean a recognition of self in relation to God or deities, acceptance of one's defects, and submission to divine grace as a member of a religion. Outside of a religious context, humility is defined as the self-restraint from excessive vanity, and can possess moral and/or ethical dimensions.Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, often in contrast to narcissism, hubris and other forms of pride.

Back in 1918 Rabbi Shalom Dover delivered a challenging discourse on the subject of pride or ego and happiness. According to Rabbi Dover, "...the channel for receiving joy from above is a sense of nothingness before your Creator. Wherever there is that nothingness, joy shines from above. And wherever there is a keen feeling of self, there is no joy.

In yoga we practice humbleness by allowing the postures and the breath to transform us in mind, body and spirit. We empty ourselves and the yoga does it’s magic.  In the final relaxation pose, savasana, or corpse pose, we surrender the ego and let the practice sink in. Yogis believe that, at its core, humility is the fundamental respect towards all living beings, and the acknowledgment that in our essence we are all divine beings with the inherent capacity for greatness. Practicing humility dispels our egoic mind, purifies our soul and produces true knowledge and wisdom.
Child's pose is a nice posture to practice humility and surrender.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” 

Anyway back to Richard. May I call you Richard? (That’s me pretending to interview him on the podcast). Richard Rohr is singlehandedly bringing thousands of people back to the church with his somewhat radical (not for me) views of God, religion and spirituality. He’s an embracer. He says “yes, and…” instead of no. He is open and honest and awesome and above all, humble. You might not get the humble thing at first glance because he’s pretty confident about his beliefs and his teachings. He knows Jesus is “the man” and his theological expertise is beyond impressive. I think what draws me most to Richard Rohr is his realness. In his writings and books he gets to the root of who we are in such a way that I believe he and I are having the same essential struggles. He’s genuine, loving and very, very human. Yet he’s a Catholic priest. Now if’s that’s not enough to get one’s knickers in a knot, I'm not sure what would.

What does Richard have to say about humility? Here’s one thing:

“People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind.” 

But there’s lots more. There’s also this: 

Practicing yoga at the Monastery in Santa Barbara. Humbling to be there.
“The only people who grow in truth are those who are humble and honest. This is traditional Christian doctrine and is, in effect, the maxim of Alcoholics Anonymous. Without those two qualities—humility and honesty—we just don’t grow. If we try to use religion to aggrandize the self, we will end up just the opposite: proud and dishonest. Humility and honesty are really the same thing. A humble person is simply someone who is naturally honest about their own truth. You and I came along a few years ago; we’re going to be gone in a few more years. The only honest response to such a mystery is humility.”

I agree Richard. Humility is essentially being honest with oneself and others. Kind of the same thing. There is nothing to hide because we have laid down the ego. But how does this humble honesty help with our happiness?

I think what Richard would say is that happiness is not something we can actively chase. It is something that happens to us almost spontaneously when we least expect it. And it can arise out of a practice of humility and surrender. 

“Happiness is an inside job” is a quote of Richard’s. It’s also one of mine. Uh oh! I wrote my book Back to Happy in 2014 before I had read anything of Richard’s and I wrote the same thing. Sorry Richard! I didn’t know you yet. Totally accidental. Or was it? Maybe we were tapped into the same wisdom. That’s a humbling thought.

There’s another benefit of humility, with it, creativity flows like a river. We can just get out of the way and trust that what’s coming through comes from a higher source. And that’s the essence of happiness. It’s a gift from God and we might not deserve it or understand it but there we are being served up heaping healing helping of love from the Creator. Again, pretty humbling if you ask me. 

Oh yeah, Richard said this: 

“Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”

Faith and humility is a no-brainer. When I lost my daughter and life was almost too much to bear, humility was the only thing I had left to offer God. I write about this in Back to Happy. One day in my living room I literally got down on my knees and proclaimed that I couldn't do this grief thing on my own and asked God for help. It was humbling. It was surrender. It was the last best thing. Faith was the fruit of that surrender, for sure.

“Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.” 

                     Richard Rohr

Love. It’s the happiness secret. It’s our deepest longing as humans - to be loved and to love. We need love, maybe now more than ever. We also need humility more than ever. (Can you say election year ickiness.) We need to be so humble that we love each other as equals - all of us - no exceptions. 

“Until we learn to love others as ourselves, it's difficult to blame broken people who desperately try to affirm themselves when no one else will.” 

And what is true intimacy without humility? We bare our souls before our beloveds and take the chance that we are still lovable to them. We love with all our hearts and hope and pray our hearts will not be broken. It’s scary stuff but to live fully as humans we must take the risk.

And yet our hearts do get broken. And we do miss the mark here and there. And we get caught up in the false reality of the world and believe the hype. But we have another choice. 
We can practice humility. We can be real with each other. We can trust that God has our back.  And we can love with no exception. 

I cannot wait to read Richard Rohr’s new book The Divine Dance. I hope you will check it out too. I’d love to hear what you think.

And now for a short practice:

Sit comfortably and feel the support of the seat or mat beneath you.  Sit tall from root to crown, shoulders back and down and neck slightly tucked. Allow the eyes to gently close, the brow to soften and all tension to drain from the body. Be at peace. Allow the breath to flow in and out slowing down more with each round of inhales and exhales. Slowing down. Notice any thoughts that might be coming up for you and just let them be, noticing them but not giving them story or energy. Simply experience you as awareness right this very moment. Take a few long deep breaths.

Now, bring to mind a mildly challenging issue that is going on in your life. Keep it simple and not too difficult. Bring it to awareness but don't build any kind of story around it. Just notice the subtle shift in your body as this challenge is brought to light. Where do you feel it? Wherever you notice an impact from your challenge imagine a golden white light forming, starting in that area and spinning and growing until it fills the entire body and extends outward to circle around the physical body. Notice how this feels. Just notice. Now imagine the challenging issue forming into a ball. Notice the color of the ball, the size, the weight. See the white light forming a circle around the ball and circling faster and faster around it until it gets smaller and smaller and finally disappears into the ethers. Notice your response as the challenge is released. Do you notice a shift in the mind? In the body? Be really honest about what you notice. Try to let go of any expectation and just see what comes through for you with respect to the issue you chose. Let go. Humbly be grateful for whatever comes up.

May you be happy. May all those you love be happy. May all beings be happy, healthy and humble.

Blessings and Namaste,

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Joy Camp

Well, we did it. We created a place for women to go to explore the roots of joy in our lives and some different ways to reduce things that block our joy. It was magical. It was mystical. It was really, really beautiful.

Those of us who study joy know it's a practice to get there. Our lives can be hard and there are lots of things that can get in the way of our joy every single day. Joy is defined by Merriam Webster as a feeling of great happiness. As a mother who lost a child and has experienced great sorrow, the idea of great happiness or joy has been elusive for me at times. For quite a while I doubted the possibility of ever getting back to any degree of happiness, let alone joy.  But I did, and I am and I even wrote a book about it! I am committed to sharing what I know for sure (as Oprah would say) thus the book, the podcast and now Joy Camp.

We were a small and diverse group but all of us there for a single purpose; to rekindle a sense of joy in our lives. We began the three day adventure by sharing our stories of joy, of sadness and why we were there. There were journals given out for us to use when inspiration struck and also to record our appreciation level at random moments during the camp.

This is Julie. If you don't know her, you should.
Julie Reisler was our leader and facilitator and she did a beautiful job of weaving together practices that helped us recognize sources of joy. Our first assignment was to recollect a past joyful moment and really recall the sensations around that moment. What made it so special? Was there another person involved? Where were we? What were the sensory experiences that went along with this memory? So many memories came up for me - the births of my children, my wedding day, my first visit to the ocean as a child... How to choose? I finally just landed on one. Over the course of the camp I would find myself reflecting on that moment of joy and why it was meaningful. It was quite the exercise, albeit seemingly simple. Many insights came out of that first exercise. But there was so much more to come.

Appreciating moments was another suggestion from Julie and so we tried to find things to appreciate even in the moment. I wove this theme into our first yoga practice that next morning and it set the tone for the day. It's good to focus on appreciation for the little things, even the mundane. It builds muscle for joy. The food at Joy Camp was something to appreciate. Every morning we had a healthy, light breakfast with lots of fresh fruit, yogurt, Ezekiel bread with almond butter - yum! Lunches were also light but healthy and delicious. Food is joy let's just admit it!

We wrote our intentions on stones to ground them.
We all set an intention for ourselves around this idea of cultivating joy. Mine was to have a more open heart. Some of the others were peace, to have a closer relationship with God, vitality, imagination. It was fun to observe the choices each of us made. These qualities seemed to be already there in these awesome women. For example, the new friend who chose vitality as her intention had so much energy and zest for life it was downright contagious. She inspired me to take up some new hobbies, her life seemed so full and interesting. It was powerful to see these intentions play out through the process of exploring what brings us joy and I am certain they will continue to unfold for all of us.

We made vision boards on day two to further solidify our intentions and they turned out great. It was a fun activity and just being together and laughing and being creative was joyful. Every so often Julie would ask us to check our "joy meter" and give it a number from one to ten. Just so you know I was a five at the beginning of Joy Camp, a little jet lagged I was.

Here we are at Silver and Sage. The jewelry there is lovely.
We had some great meals in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona where Joy Camp was held and they were really joyful. We tried new things and my joy meter climbed higher. We also practiced meditation and really tuning into our bodies and our mind chatter. This is always helpful for me to clean out the cobwebs and reset my joy. On the evening of the second day we got to practice meditation and creativity and do some shopping. Now that's a recipe for joy! We made our own mala beads at Silver and Sage, a gorgeous store near Scottsdale. We had such a fun time together choosing the beads for our malas based upon our intentions and anything we wished to heal in our lives. It was such a nice evening. We chanted OM together 108 times as we worked our way around our malas.

There was lots more that happened at Joy Camp like meeting and hearing from Rick Wood, the medium who blew us away with some of his readings and the beautiful Heather Keller who shared her wisdom and energy work and how to tap into our  intuition that we are so blessed to have as women. We practiced Yoga Nidra under the stars and some of us (not naming names) were so relaxed we could barely get up to roll into bed!

All in all Joy Camp was a success and I think all of us left Arizona with our joy meters pretty dang high. Mine went up to a 12!

Heather shared that instead of saying Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you) at the end of the yoga classes she teaches, she likes to say "Nomistake".  I like that.  Joy Camp was no mistake. We were, all of us, meant to be there and I have faith that as time goes on we will continue to see more and more
joy unfold.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tremors in the Universe

I just love talking to people who find ways to be happy even in the face of dire circumstances.

Robert Baittie, Ted speaker and author of Tremors in the Universe talks here about his experience with a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease and how it was really his miracle. Prepare to be inspired.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Your Message to the World

“ Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes—goodwill among men and peace on earth.”  ~ Albert Einstein.

What is it you have to say? What is on your heart? Why are you here? All of these questions point to your purpose, your passion, your service to the world. 

Three years ago I embarked on a little experiment I created for myself. I started the Happy Healthy You! podcast in an effort to discipline myself with a daunting weekly deadline and hone some deeper interviewing skills. 

“The Goddess is in the questions."    ~~Gloria Steinem

Where did this start? I suppose it started with my interview with Gloria Steinem. Back when I was fresh out of college I was working in public relations and had the opportunity to work with Gloria on a promotion and fund raiser for the Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication. Gloria was great. When I made the call to her office to ask if she was interested in participating, I got an immediate and resounding “yes!” The next day I found myself sitting in her office at Ms Magazine in New York City as she went through her rolodex to find a celebrity to join us for our promo. First she called Alan Alda. He was busy the day of our event so she next contacted Loretta Swit, “Hot Lips Houlihan” from the hit show Mash. She was in. In seven days we created an event that brought more women into the doors of Freestate Raceway in Laurel, Maryland where I worked. The regular customers didn't know what hit them that day as feminists from the area flocked through the gates to see Gloria Steinem and Loretta Swit ride in a sulky behind a racehorse, competing for charity. Gloria writes about this in her new book, My Life on the Road, and even mentions my name on page 196. She uses my married name of Bowman (my maiden name is Thompson) but that’s OK. I love her.

I write about this event because back in 1982 when my girl Gloria and I worked together we were able to raise some needed money for the new Ms. Foundation which helped women and girls with educational pursuits and promoted advocacy for women. Though we only had seven days to prepare and promote, the promotion was a success and Gloria promised that if I ever needed a favor, she was there for me. What? Crazy fun stuff happens in life. Thirty years later my producer and friend Scott Morgan and I were working on another project and looking for people to interview and I recalled Gloria’s promise. I sent a quick email to request an interview and again she responded with a resounding “yes!” 

Although my project with Scott didn’t pan out as planned, Interviewing Gloria inspired me to create the Happy Healthy You! podcast. You never know where one thing or another will lead. The thing I learned from GS is just to say “yes” and go from there. One step at a time, things unfold almost magically when we do this. 

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.”
        ~~Joseph Campbell

Like Gloria Steinem and even little ol’ me, we all have a message to speak to the world. It can be large or small, quiet or loud. I have learned so much from the many people I have interviewed on the Happy Healthy You! podcast, some of them famous and some of them not so much. The common theme among them all is that they use their voices to share their special gift with others unapologetically.

Many people I spoke with, like Mary Sidwani, PhD went through traumatic life changing events. Others were healers and helpers like the woman who shared my name, Connie Bowman. She brought me to tears with her story of her struggle with addiction and her fierce but tender love for her pit bulls whom she is on a mission to protect. About halfway through the three years, I decided to share my own story with the world and my book Back to Happy was written. I felt vulnerable sharing my grief and loss with others but was bolstered by the many brave guests who spoke to me on the podcast.

In retrospect, I am pleased with the Happy Healthy You! experiment. I was able to get out a weekly show which is quite a bit of work. Creating this discipline has spilled into other areas of my life such as meditating every day, eating better and even becoming a yoga teacher. 

A lot can happen when we use our voices. We need to say “yes”. We need to share our stories with others. In doing so, we not only can help others but we can also open doors for ourselves we never expected to open.

Namaste friends and thanks for listening!


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Waiting for Easter

“The waiting is the hardest part.”
  ~~Tom Petty

Goddess knows, this can be true. The waiting is just so darn hard. As we sit on this Easter eve and the anniversary of the birth of my daughter Meghan whose death I write about in my book, Back to Happy,  I am pondering the season of Lent and the idea of resurrection. 

We do so love a good resurrection story.

Star Wars and The Matrix films (also a lot of American musical theatre) gave us some great modern day examples to work with. We love that resolution and that feeling of completion and optimism that a good strong happy ending has to offer. After a season of suffering, there is redemption. 

In a good piece of music there is variety in the score. There is harmony and dissonance and ultimately, resolution as the composer takes us home and allows us to sit with those last few notes and sense the finality, the closure. We are taken on a journey that touches our soul through the senses of the body.

In the Christian tradition of Lent, we are charged to examine the things in our lives that distract us from our connection to God and remove them if possible. We are called to repent and humble ourselves before the Lord with the knowledge that we are made from the dust of the Earth and destined to return there. It’s pretty brutal really. In essence we are to look squarely in the face at our mortality and see how it can inform us about our lives.

As we work toward Easter there is a tendency to rely on the resurrection story to unfold in an expected way. We know it’s coming so we don’t really worry too much. If we are optimists by nature, this idea of resurrection is ingrained into our psyche. We trust all will work out in the end, the resolution will come and we will find joy again. In the Jesus story the message is clear; have faith and even after the darkest of times the light is sure to shine again.

But waiting for the light to reappear can be really difficult. In Back to Happy, I write about healing from grief and loss and finding happiness again. The grieving process is a journey for sure. It takes time, and requires attention and intention to move through it with relative ease. Everyone must find their own way. There were days when I thought I would not ever feel joy again. The light at the end of the tunnel was often nowhere to be found. 

Much like grief, in addiction and recovery there is a process that must take place for the brain to rewire itself and, like grief, the process must run its course for it to be effective. In the waiting, if there is not promise of a final resolution, hope can be lost and despair can set in. Without the example of others who have traveled down the path of recovery successfully, addicts have little to hold onto during the recovery period. This is why the twelve step programs are so effective.  There is companionship for the waiting period, guides for the journey.  I have recorded several podcasts about addiction. Find them here.

When Happy Healthy You! podcast guest Mary Sidhwani was diagnosed with cancer, she had to face her own mortality. It was frightening for her as she spoke about in the interview. She was humbled and forced to reexamine her life in a deeper way. As a psychotherapist she knew she needed a shift in perception in order for her to deal with the challenge of cancer and to heal from the trauma of the diagnosis. 

How can we use the resurrection story in our lives to keep us moving toward the light, toward our eventual healing and also help us with the waiting? In her podcast, Dr. Sidwani gives us some great tips for dealing with the “shock and awe” of a trauma. In Back to Happy I list nine (hopefully) practical tips for moving through grief. There are so many other inspirational books, support groups, religious practices and healing modalities to help us move more gracefully through the period of waiting. The season of Lent offers its own wisdom for moving through dark times back into the light of resurrection.

During Lent we are tasked with the waiting. But we are to wait with a purposeful nature. We are to wait upon God, having removed from our life anything that might deter or distract us from divine presence. Sure we give up chocolate if the craving of it keeps us from thinking less about God and more about the hershey bar. But even more, we give up the ego addictions that keep us from forgiveness, charity and love. We are to accept the eventuality our own death with faith, knowing that even in that, we are redeemed, re-birthed, resurrected. Lent is waiting - on steroids.

Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. 
                 ~~Philippians 2:3-8, Jerusalem Bible

Lent is a practice and I liken it to yoga. If we approach every yoga practice with a beginners mind, we are open to what the practice has to offer on any given day.  In tough poses we are asked to be with what is, tight muscles and all, and with each breath to be present to our divinity. When we come to Lent with a beginners mind, truly empty of expectation and open to whatever it has to teach us, we are reminding ourselves to wait well with purpose. We empty to make room for more light with the hope of healing, rebirth and resurrection. 

Namaste and Happy Easter!