Tag Archives: Life Rehab Resources

Life Rehab Resources: Courtney Carver

liferehabresourcesCourtney Carver is a total badass. I mean it. I’ve even said it to her face. I am so inspired by her, in awe of her. She lives with pure intention.

I am inspired by Courtney’s personal story. She had the stuff, the house, the job, the overwhelm and the overcommitment, was doing it all like you are supposed to in order to be satisfied and happy, but it wasn’t working out like “they” said it would, so she changed her life, made different choices. She describes it this way, “I have made a bunch of money and spent even more. I have been too busy, too tired, too full, too stressed and too overworked for too long and I’ve changed my ways.” She simplified her life so that she could truly live it. Here’s a great summary of her story on Real Life Minimalists.

I am inspired by Courtney’s blog, Be More With Less. I immediately feel calmer and more focused when I visit, as her site has no ads and a minimalist design, and her content is focused and clear, gets right to the point. Courtney shares without shaming, makes a gentle and compassionate offering. She’s found what is true for her, and offers her story, her wisdom without implying it’s Truth, or that because she’s figured out a way, you should do exactly the same thing. She presents it simply as an option, an opportunity, a resource.

I have shared links to hundreds of her posts over the past few years of writing this blog, posts like Love and They Will Think You Are Weird and The Greatest Secret to Productivity That No One is Talking About. She consistently writes things that make me want to live a simpler, better life, and she makes that seem absolutely possible.

Courtney and her offerings have been some of my most important and useful life rehab resources. (She also just so happens to have one of the cutest dogs on the planet.) She recently asked me to write a guest post for her Simplicity in Action series and so much of what I said was learned with her help and support. She really is all kinds of awesome. Check out her blog and find all the ways you can connect with her, access what she has to offer.

Life Rehab Resources: Mondo Beyondo

liferehabresourcesToday I want to share with you one of the resources that started it all: Andrea Scher, and more specifically her Mondo Beyondo class, a six week self-paced ecourse “full of powerful stories, exercises, secret missions and audio interviews — all designed to help you clarify your deepest dreams and begin to make them real.”

j7jgymyriam moon mb badge 383How the course works: You get an email each weekday that links you to that day’s lesson, with weekends “off” to catch up, contemplate, further connect with your classmates. The platform Andrea currently uses for the course, Ruzuku, allows course members to post responses directly to that day’s offering, and to communicate with each other through comments. And yet, you don’t have to. You can take the course, gain all the good without ever adding to the larger group discussion. It’s totally up to you how you want to participate. The Ruzuku platform also has the added bonus of making the course available to you even after it’s over, and Andrea also provides other ways for members of a session to keep in touch. I have made many friends that continue to be encouraging and supportive of my dreaming process, as I am to them, and I often return to the lessons for a refresher on the practice.

This course fundamentally shifted the way I approach my life, the way I see myself. When I first found Andrea’s blog, I was searching, knew that I had abandoned myself and my dreams but didn’t know how to find my way back. I was instantly drawn to her and what she had to offer, and signed up for my first session of Mondo Beyondo the same month I started this blog. I have since taken Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab, Superhero Photo, Cultivating Courage, and been a teaching assistant for Mondo Beyondo twice. I was also lucky enough this fall to take an in-person weekend workshop with Andrea. She has become a dear and valued friend.

For me, Andrea Scher has been the sun at the center of a universe of amazement and goodness, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around. She invited me to expand my idea of what was possible. She encourages me, is kind and honest. She is constantly admitting the things that are hard and messy, while still pointing out what’s beautiful and precious.

andrea_cherr_497Having been in Mondo Beyondo a few times now, what I’ve noticed is that people come to the course from all over the place, in their lives and the world. Some people don’t know what their dreams even are, some had dreams but they don’t seem to fit anymore, some are afraid to even let themselves dream, some don’t feel worthy of their dreams, some are afraid to try and maybe fail, some think it’s too late for their dreams, some know their dreams but don’t see how they’d be possible in the context of an already full life, some know their dreams but don’t know where to even begin to make them come true.

This course has room for all of these perspectives. And Andrea says it best in the course description that while this course encourages you to dream bigger, in the end it’s not about dreams coming true.

It’s about who we are becoming in the pursuit of our dreams. Are we becoming the most alive version of ourselves? The bravest, most authentic expressions of who we are? That’s how our dreams serve us. They tell us who we are and who we are becoming. They pull us toward a version of ourselves that inspires.

I confess, the first Mondo Beyondo list of dreams I made seemed utterly insane. It had things on it like “meet Brene’ Brown,” “have an audience of 1000 for my blog,” “become a yoga teacher,” and “meet and be friends with Andrea Scher.” That sounds crazy, right? And yet, most of those things have already happened, and the one that hasn’t will be starting this coming weekend when I begin yoga teacher training.

dreamwithfeathersWhat I learned through this course is having the dream is ultimately the only thing you need to start making it come true. Getting clear about what you want most, about what you value, is what clarifies the steps you need to take to get “there.” With what I learned in this course, I am able to form new dreams, get clear about what I want, stick with them and be flexible as they evolve, and either embody that dream or move on to a new one. I can manifest things for myself that I wasn’t able to even imagine before. I have the courage to try.

I have taken so many ecourses in the past two years. I often joke that it’s like I earned another graduate degree, a curriculum of my own design. Out of all those courses, Mondo Beyondo made the biggest difference, had the most impact.

And lucky, lucky you, kind and gentle reader: the next session of Mondo Beyondo starts on Monday, January 6th, and Andrea is offering a special deal, bring a friend for free! I know lots of people who took the course with a significant other, friend or sibling, and it seemed to be a good experience for them.

I adore Andrea, and am so grateful for her work, her truth and her light, which have been of such great benefit to me as I stumble along. Even if taking a course with her doesn’t work for you right now, I encourage you to check out her website, read her blog, follow her on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or read her Self-Compassion Saturday post. She is the embodiment of “something good.”

Life Rehab Resources: Divination

liferehabresourcesI confess, when I realized this morning that it was Saturday, and that meant I needed to write one of these posts, I thought “oh crap.” Last week, I was sure I knew what I was going to tell you about today, but this morning it no longer seemed like the right thing, even though I was going to make myself write about it anyway if nothing else came up. Then when I was shuffling my tarot cards this morning, it came to me: divination.

Divination, from the Latin divanare, which is “to foresee, to be inspired by a god,” related to divinus, divine, is “the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of a standardized process or ritual, a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed, random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand.” It’s a way of making sense, uncovering wisdom, accessing insight, developing intuition, seeing meaning, finding patterns, knowing. It is an invitation to the Universe, the Divine, Light, Love, God, whatever you call it, a way of saying “help me out, give me a sign, show me the way.” It is part prayer, part practice, magic and medicine.

I love all kinds of divination practice — picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards, Q-Cards, or any such oracle through which the Universe might send me a message. Opening a book to a random page and reading a line of poetry with the expectation that there’s a message for me, taking a walk and asking for a truth to be revealed — it’s a choice to trust in something bigger, to believe I am connected, can communicate with a deep and eternal wisdom.

I know there are those who consider it a dark art, of the devil, and it probably can be if that’s your intention, but I believe it’s a way of communicating directly with God (whatever name you use for this wise and compassionate energy). It’s like prayer, opening my heart and listening deeply for answers to my questions, a way of requesting guidance.

As I’ve said before when I’ve talked about this, go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, and even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.

Divination is something I practice every day, in one form or another. Some of my favorite practices, resources and tools are:

  • The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck. It took me 20 years to get another tarot deck, after losing my first. People I love and respect use this one, and there was just something about it that spoke to me — the dark hand drawn lines, the bright colors, the story of the artist, a business “founded on the belief that there is a place of wonder, gentle beauty, and clarity within each of us.” I’ve been working with this deck daily for about three months. Sometimes it’s frustrating, because it will keep giving me cards I don’t want, messages I’d rather not hear. Other times, it keeps giving me the same card, over and over, and it’s a little freaky to be honest. Then there are times where the card it offers me is exactly the grace I needed.

wildunknowneightofswords

  • Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards. In this practice, you get clear about your intention and pull a card. The resulting card is your Deva. Hiro describes Devas this way:

Every creation on Earth that serves an evolutionary purpose has a spiritual counterpart in the subtle energy realms. This counterpart is a being who holds the pattern or blueprint for the perfect unfolding of the life in its care. I call these pattern-holders Devas…a Sanskrit word that means Shining Ones…As you get to know them and deepen your relationship with them, you can choose to partner with them consciously, to create your life, your business, and the world in which you want to live…Because you are an incarnate soul, all of these soul qualities are already within you, as seeds or potentials. Some of these qualities may be well-developed and readily accessible to you. Others may need to be strengthened and cultivated, for you to experience and express them more fully.

  • Qcards. They don’t make this deck anymore, which is a like a light-hearted tarot deck, but you can still find the online version, where you can pick three cards that describe where you are now or your “longterm” forecast, or you can ask a question. I like these because they are sort of silly, have a sense of humor, but are not devoid of insight.
  • I Ching. I have my own set of coins and three books I use to help me interpret them: a copy of I Ching: The Chinese Book of Changes by Clae Waltham that was printed in 1969, The Buddhist I Ching by Chih-hsu Ou-i and translated by Thomas Cleary, and The Photographic I Ching, which is my favorite of the three.

I’ve pulled cards for myself, but never had someone else read for me. Rachael’s radiant, gentle presence in the world made me trust her to do so. Our reading began with her warm welcome, calm and comforting, opening a space that hummed with possibility and intention. She showed up, was wholly present for the process, allowing whatever might arise, a kind guardian of what came, never getting in its way. As she interpreted the wisdom of the cards, Rachael made the most compassionate offering, shining a light on obstacles and opportunities alike, leaving me with a sense of clarity and peacefulness that has stayed with me. I felt encouraged and empowered by the new insights, and am grateful for the ease and joy Rachael brought to the experience.

reading

  • The creative process, practice, is a kind of divination for me — showing up, being open to whatever arises. It also assumes a connection to divinity, embodies the intention to do sacred work, to be a blessing.

The thing I most want to tell you about divination is don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right to you, if you don’t find it helpful or have trouble trusting it, (actually, I’d tell you that about just about anything). However, if you do feel the pull, keep looking until you find the right form for you, the best fit. These are my favorites, but there are so many others, and something else might work better for you.

Life Rehab Resources: Sandra Pawula

liferehabresourcesThis is happening the way things seem to for me. Rather than something coming to me or happening because I have a clear plan, I show up and dink around, and something, the thing, presents itself. It’s mysterious and magic and sometimes incredibly frustrating, but it’s happened often enough that I trust the process.

This time, I knew I’d be starting a new Saturday series, since Self-Compassion Saturday was done. Sparked by a conversation at Laurie Wagner‘s kitchen table, I thought I should do something about all of the resources I’ve used over the past two years to rehab my life. I have a half-hearted collection of links on the blog, but I’ve never really taken the time to share with you why or how those things were useful to me, at least not in any structured, direct way.

So I knew that was the thing, even brainstormed a list of everything I would include — people, places, ecourses, retreats and workshops, podcasts, blogs, films, practices and books — and how I would structure the posts, but I did it thinking I’d take a little break before I actually started.

I should know better by now. The Universe has its own schedule for these things. I got an email from Sandra Pawula, author of the blog Always Well Within, “simple wisdom for a happy life.” She wondered if I’d want to interview her for my blog. Sandra and I have a lot of interests in common. As one of her readers, what keeps happening is I’ll be thinking about something, contemplating it, trying to figure it out, and then she’ll write about it, saying what I hadn’t quite worked out yet, helping me to understand. I knew it was the Universe nudging me, “why not start now, with this?”

Sandra Pawula is a writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. She writes about finding greater happiness and freedom on her blog Always Well Within. Her signature e-course Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins again on January 6th and you can register now.

The questions I asked Sandra are relatable to her e-course, but also some personal questions I have right now, things I would ask any long term practitioner if I had the opportunity. I am so grateful for her answers.

sandradeckWhy cultivate or seek ease? What value does it bring? Shouldn’t we be spending our effort, energy and time serving others, making the world a better place, easing suffering?

The idea of seeking ease can sound self-indulgent, can’t it? But, ease is not just a luxury. Stress is associated with so many serious conditions like heart disease, immune dysfunction, anxiety, and depression that we can’t afford to dismiss our need for ease.

Ease is also an essential component of goodness, one of the qualities that truly helps others and can actually change the world. When you feel at ease, you’re more likely to be kind, loving, forgiving, and spacious. You’re more likely to be present, attentive, and sincerely listen to others.

Sadly, there’s also a tremendous amount of mental suffering in the West, which expresses itself in countless forms from addiction to anorexia to cutting to a deeply rooted feeling of not being enough or having enough. This mental suffering must be seen and addressed if we wish to have the strength, focus, and power to create a more peaceful, sane, and just world.

It’s so worthwhile to serve others and contribute to making the world a better place in any ways we can. But, if we do so in an ego-based, neurotic way, we’re more likely to cause harm and hurt others in the process. And, we may burn out, cutting our service short.

“Ease” and “serve” are not mutually exclusive. Ideally, the two would come together. If you look at some of the greatest spiritual leaders of recent times like the Dalai Lama or Gandhi, you’ll see they embody ease. Ease is the natural consequence of a loving and wise mind. If we can bring ease into our service, the effects will be far more potent.

I think it’s also accurate to see working with your own mind as a form of service. When you decrease the harm you bring to others and increase the goodness you share by transforming your negative mind states, you’ve offered a tremendous service to the world. Your positive attitude and actions will inspire others and may even have an amazing ripple effect.

sandraswanWhat do you see as the biggest challenges to ease?

Our own mind. Although some of our stress triggers are external, the way we respond to them still depends upon our own mind. As Marcus Aurelius said,

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.

And, we’ve become adept at generating stress internally by dwelling in the past, which cannot be changed, or anticipating the future, which cannot be known. This stirs up worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, and all forms of afflictive emotions, which detract from feeling at ease.

Many suffer unnecessarily because they don’t know that they actually have the capacity to change their own thoughts, emotions, and perceptions for the better. Instead, they are ruled by automatic patterns and feel like a victim of circumstances, relationships, and their own chaotic mind. If they could learn to tame their minds, how different their lives would be.

At the same time, we need to understand that stress is a biochemical affair and some people are genetically predisposed to a stronger stress response or a weaker relaxation response. There are other factors that can adversely impact our stress response as well, for example: some immune-related diseases, a lack of early nurturing, trauma, and the number of stressors that occur during any given period of one’s life.

Whatever blocks us from ease – big or small – doesn’t have to permanently stop us from finding more peace and serenity. Most people see significant improvement through the use of simple stress reduction practices.

sandratreepathWe are both Highly Sensitive People — what are some strategies for comforting, soothing the overwhelm that can come from being out in the world with an open heart?

I feel the right perspective changes everything. We must accept that suffering exists and not turn away from it, or the truth will someday knock us out flat.  But, we can feel encouraged knowing it’s possible to bring an end to suffering.  Every time we replace a negative thought, word, or action with a positive one, we’re demonstrating that suffering can be overcome.

If we dwell on despair or hopelessness, naturally we’ll feel overwhelmed. But, if we remember that each person, no matter how confused or negative they may seem to be at present, has the potential for goodness, we’ll tap into possibility and the energy of compassion.

On a practical level, I need to take regular measures to replenish myself like plenty of quiet, time in nature, meditation, naps, and inspirational reading. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s a sign I need to pause and take time for myself.

At the same time, I don’t intentionally avoid feeling the pain of this world. When it rises, I let it rise and break open my heart a bit more, knowing that most suffering is unnecessary. It’s actually manmade and therefore can be changed. This recognition fuels my resolve to work with my own mind and to be of help to others.

I also know whatever painful emotion arises will dissolve on its own if I don’t feed it with more thoughts and emotions. So I don’t have to be afraid of any emotion.

sandraflowerbutterflyI recently had an epiphany that anxiety is fundamentally a crisis of confidence — in our basic worth and wholeness, in our innate wisdom and sanity, in our belief that we’ll be able to handle what comes, in our faith that our experience is workable. What tips do you have for dealing with anxiety?

Your insights resonate strongly for me, Jill. Our essence is fundamentally good, loving, and worthy but it’s obscured by all our thoughts and emotions. If we can fully believe in our basic sanity and goodness instead of becoming embroiled in thoughts and emotions, so many problems like anxiety will begin to dissolve.

However, it’s not necessarily easy to deal with anxiety once it’s become a long-held pattern. My approach is to see anxiety as just another construction of my mind, which can be gradually deconstructed through mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques and other forms of relaxation.

When anxiety makes an appearance, we can tell ourselves it seems “real,” but it’s not actually solid or true, and be very compassionate towards ourselves. If we keep siding with what’s true without rejecting the anxiety, we’ll slowly break apart the tendency to be anxious.

I’m far less anxious than I used to be because I know the anxiety is not true. But, I also know that it’s my bottom-line response. I’m able to accept that rather than be distressed by it. That helps to deflate the power of anxiety as well.

If people have serious anxiety issues, they may need counseling or the help of drugs to calm their system. It’s difficult to work with the mind when it’s so stirred up. These resources can help us get our mind to a more manageable place so we can start on practices like meditation, loving kindness, or stress reduction.

sandrablueflowerWhat would you like people to know about your upcoming Living with Ease course? What can they expect?

In my course, Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress, you’ll have a chance to identify your personal stress triggers, learn a new mindfulness-based stress reduction technique each week, use reflection exercises to explore unhelpful beliefs, and acquire a menu of simple supportive practices to help you lock in a more relaxed way of being.

Mindfulness is a powerful catalyst for rewiring the brain, and that’s exactly what we need to change our stress response. It’s been shown to strengthen the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, in short our executive and cognitive functions, which improves our capacity to rewire old habits and build resilience to adversity.

Mindfulness offers a simple, inexpensive, and scientifically proven way to beat stress.

sandraI recommend Sandra’s blog as a Life Rehab Resource, for its constant reminders to be gentle with ourselves, and as mentioned above, her signature e-course Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins again on January 6th and you can register now. Other ways to connect with Sandra are to follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.