Monday, February 27, 2012

Blue Hearts Dancing

"We always postpone being alive to the future…the only moment to be alive is the present moment… To be truly here, now, and to enjoy the present moment is our most important task.”

Thich Nhat Hanh. Living Buddha, Living Christ (1995)

At The Light Tree we have been cultivating mindfulness as the central core of our spiritual practice. Most recently, we have been experimenting with the creation of mandalas using gouache paint on watercolor paper. This ancient art form encourages us to be mindful in the present moment; ego becomes distracted by the painting process as we relax and listen to our inner guidance.

This reflection emerged from Christine as she became aware of an inner transformation during this process. She was reconsidering an old and almost forgotten mandala that she had started during a different stage of her life. Her present-centered awareness appears in italics.

“… brought out my mandala today after dabbling with it only a few times in the last 4 years. I was taken into the ring outside the ‘Palace Walls ‘with red drops.

Red started to move up and out a little as I found myself going over the brown double helixes that were already there. The dry brush gradually became more fluid as I started retracing the marks I had made several years ago. This part felt ‘old’ but began to flow as I expanded outward by moving around and around this area. I found myself loosening the old images with fresh paint using gentle but firm brush strokes.

"Undoing’ came to mind, unraveling, that I don’t have to retrace old patterns…‘Loosen up, flow, dance, let go…’ It felt really good, like coming home. I noticed myself breathing more freely; relaxing, slowing down…it felt really good!”

Blue hearts sprinkled dancing in the silver of the ‘Palace Garden’. Perhaps this reflects the heaviness in my heart at times these days. What is beneath the blue heaviness, the belief underlying the story?  Regret that I could have done things differently? Perhaps it is guilt and shame stemming from a false belief that I did something wrong…

“In Truth, there is no separation (I need to forgive and release that one). There is no loss… we are complete in True Oneness. When think we value something but it eludes our grasp, it can only be for release. When we hold onto old, outdated, ideas we are in a state of resistance; this is where our suffering lies.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Opening the Heart

“Miracles honour you because you are loveable.  They dispel illusions about yourself and perceive the light in you. Thus they atone for your errors by freeing you from your nightmares. By releasing your mind from the imprisonment of your illusions, they restore your sanity.”

Principle 33: A Course in Miracles

On Valentines Day 2012, The Light Tree group gathered to meditate and explore the nature of love more fully. It seemed appropriate to use this day to deepen our awareness of peace because on this symbolic day, images of the heart seem to appear everywhere.

February 14th is a day many of us set aside to show our love and appreciation to those around us. We felt deep gratitude for our willingness to awaken to loves presence. It takes a great deal of courage and patience to notice ways we create obstacles to the basic happiness that is our true nature.

The following day, February 15th, Melanie lead a meditation group and called upon inner guidance to help ease the stress and tension group members were feeling. Guidance encouraged participants to cease making any effort to ‘do’ anything except rest in the heart and fall effortlessly backwards.

From this place of deep resting, the only thing left to do was experience a profound sense of being held in divine light. From this place it seemed easy and natural to release. Anything that was not pure love could fall away easily and gently; a purification of immense proportions.

On the same day Christine spent time drawing and painting as a way to explore the obstacles that had led her to feel a heavy, blue heart. She spent time patiently inquiring and asking her inner teacher for guidance. Her drawings illustrate perfectly the teaching of falling backwards into the light.

Any tightly held places in the mind or body are clues to deep resistance to the awareness of loves presence. In these unyielding places, light cannot flow freely and fearful thoughts become trapped. Ideas of ugliness, unworthiness and loneliness appear as pain, tension and stiffness. Fortunately, none of these ideas are true. Once we are willing to bring relief to the ache by calling on love and self-acceptance as healer, they quickly dissolve back into nothingness.

Our task is to give up our resistance and have the courage to surrender our grievances and projected judgments toward others. If we are willing, spirit takes care of the rest.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let the Heart be your guide

“The Mystery seems to delight in differences. It extends itself outward into countless forms…When you look with your heart at any aspect of the Mystery rather than with your thoughts and feelings, you will discover the Oneness underlying all differences.” 

Nirmala, Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self

Cultivating a habit of forgiving ourselves whenever we feel the urge to judge ourselves, or others, is easier than letting our habits rule our behaviour. When we learn to rest in our hearts and extend love whenever we have a chance, we feel lighter instantly. Confusion lifts and the path seems clearer. The peace we experience from this practice is an essential aspect of the healing process.

At Light Tree we strive toward clearing our minds from false thoughts and ground our awareness in a less fearful and more loving state. We have been joining in small groups to discover ways we habitually live with obstacles to the awareness of love’s presence. We delight in bringing false beliefs from their hiding places into the light of awareness so they can be acknowledged and dissolved.

There is real value in bringing the information contained within our thoughts and feelings into Loving Presence. It is only with gentle, non-judgemental awareness that these wary, but potentially powerful fragments of our selves can come into view. Once they have delivered their message they can quickly and easily join with the Oneness within each of us. Seemingly fragmented aspects of our psyche want to find peace once they have named their purpose. They quickly realize all they are is love and have no wish to be apart from wholeness any longer.

Any healing process, whether it appears in the form of illness or relationship difficulties, requires the reconnection of lost parts of our selves. It appears as if the illusion of our Self as broken into separate, conflicting parts needs to be recognized. When we are committed to healing, it becomes clear that we are already whole and complete. There is nothing to fix and no need to hide.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Therapeutic Letters

Begin with kindness to yourself… We are all in this together. So when you realize that you’re talking to yourself, label it “thinking” and notice your tone of voice. Let it be compassionate and gentle and humorous. Then you’ll be changing old stuck patterns that are shared by the whole human race. Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.

Pema Chodron

Therapeutic letters are a helpful tool to help clarify alternative descriptions of people and events; they challenge long-held beliefs and constricting stories that were created by others (White & Epston, 1990). They are custom designed to assist you and your loved ones to communicate more effectively. They can celebrate occasions or clarify ideas that are difficult to express. Generally they are written from the observer’s perspective and use quotes or examples from past conversations.

Problems survive with the support of ideas, beliefs, principles and practices that are promoted by all of us in daily life. We think we are using them to judge and label others, but we are really using them against ourselves. We limit ourselves when we rely on narrow, preconceived descriptions of people and events.

Thoughtfully constructed letters can bring valuable insight to predetermined ideas. They provide a space to re-evaluate established beliefs and accounts of events so we can absorb and reflect on fresh information. Rich descriptions leave outdated, outworn stories behind. None of us want to be defined by old narratives that are created and sustained by others!

This example shows a heroic view of a challenging life event and is reproduced with permission:

“… On several occasions you showed an astonishing determination to succeed despite enormous challenges. Each time you spoke about how difficult the journey was, it was inspiring to learn how your desire to provide a happy life for your daughter always came first.

When I recall our various conversations, I remember very clearly when you said, “A stumble in life is not a failure; it’s only a failure if you choose not to do anything about it. Anybody can stumble no matter how high they are or how much money they make… It just takes a split second”. For me, this demonstrates the essence of personal strength and determination to succeed in creating a life of your choosing.”

At The Light Tree we help restructure problem-based stories and help bring forth your hopes, dreams and ideas. New, preferred narratives will help clarify your thoughts and feelings. We believe that collaboration is the essence of effective letter writing; the process is only complete when it looks and feels right to the authors. We all know that when awareness is brought to misunderstanding, it is a joy to give and receive messages of love.