Planet Earth, Our Larger Body

As you know, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working with, reading about, and discussing all things related to energy and spirituality. I thought I also had a good connection with my body since I eat well, exercise regularly, and prioritize sleep much to the dismay of anyone trying to reach me after 8pm.

That was before…before, I don’t even know what to call it…before I signed up for a seemingly innocuous Women’s Renewal Retreat.

Let me back up. I started this body/nature journey, ironically enough, during an energetic reading I received last fall. I asked why it was so difficult for me to go away on a girl’s weekend–it had been years since I’d gone away on my own. We did some energy work around this issue and that was that. I kept trying to “think” of something to do to force myself to get away, but nothing attracted me until one day in late December. I received an email about a Women’s Renewal Weekend in January promising some rituals around letting go of the past and consciously creating the new.  Bingo! This trip was meant for me.

Little did I know, literally until I arrived onsite, that the weekend involved an overnight aloneout in the wilderness, with just a sleeping bag–no tent, no fire, nada. Had I known this, I probably wouldn’t have signed on, so maybe the universe closed my eyes to that part of the description. While I was definitely not looking for a spa pampering or Vegas party weekend, I hadn’t counted on roughing it so much that we had to dig holes for our human scat and spend the night in complete isolation. Before we each left the group to find our own sleeping spot out on the land, we were given a brief lecture on the different defense techniques for various wild animals such as mountain lions, bears and bobcats. Oh My!

The weekend focused primarily on tuning into our mother earth which is our larger body. That is why we secure our energetic grounding from our body to the center of the earth. It’s one thing to look at a beautiful sunset or enjoy a glass of wine in your back yard, but it’s a whole different experience to walk barefoot in a wide open meadow and then to sleep there under the stars all alone with only the sounds of wildlife around. I had vivid dreams during the short periods I slept. It was physically uncomfortable and emotionally challenging, but when the sun rose and I could just lay there watching it, I felt incredibly peaceful and supported by our incredible mother earth. I know it sounds cliche and hokey, but it was powerful.

In addition to our solo overnight, we did a number of rituals as a group including sage cleanses, tribal councils, journaling, building fires, sharing meals, and singing. I returned Sunday evening paradoxically both exhausted and refreshed. A true Renewal.

I’ve done two more days and another weekend, each getting progressively more challenging which I’ll post about soon. I just wanted to start here because I’ve experienced some tangible shifts in how I relate, not only to nature, but to my own body as well, not to mention it’s Earth Day week:). I thought by sharing this first experience, it might provide some inspiration to get outside, be in nature, go barefoot in the grass, listen to the birds–anything to get in touch with your larger body, Mother Earth.

Feel free to share what you do to physically connect to our Earth…

Did You Notice…??

If you are doing the Oprah/Chopra (just love the rhyme of that:)) 21 day Meditation Experience this time around, did you notice the Message of the Day tab to the right of the play button?

I hadn’t until yesterday so thought I’d point it out in case you’d missed it, too. I don’t know if it has been there all along and we’ve missed all of that wisdom from their past meditation challenges or if it is new to this series and we’ve missed just 7 days. In either case, I wanted to mention it because the “messages” are succinct, powerful, and I’ve found a great way to get the kids settled down and focused before the meditation actually starts.

There is also a Journal tab to the right of the Message of the Day tab if you’d like to keep an online journal about your experiences.

If you haven’t started it yet, there’s still time to sign up. They only allow you to have access to each day for 5 days so you’ll just have missed the first few days if you sign up today. Here’s the link…

If you are doing the series, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are:)!


Not So Sweet Stuff

Sugar! One of my kids craves sugar like crazy. Admittedly, I have sweet tooth myself so I can sympathize, but at least I’m enough of a health nut to attempt to satisfy it with dark chocolate or a fresh cookie or pastry (my treat of choice) as opposed to downing an entire bag of candy (his treat of choice).

How does he get said candy, you might be asking? Well, he’s a worker. He’ll set up a lemonade stand or dog sit for a neighbor or ask to do money chores around the house. I hem and haw and whine and complain about him buying candy. I educate the whole family about health and nutrition. I try incentives like offering a 10% bonus for every dollar put in the bank. We try and try, but this kid’s greatest thrill is walking down to the gas station to buy a bag of crack candy. And then, he’s such a generous one, that he buys for any other kid around, too, which is really sweet, pardon the pun.

The conundrum is that part of growing up is learning about money. Spending it on candy and then not having it available for something else desired is a great life lesson and one you want your kids to learn earlier in life than later when the stakes are higher. But then, there’s that blasted sugar problem because it’s addicting, some studies proving even more addictive than cocaine. I struggle balancing the fine line between allowing the joys of childhood and enabling the addiction.

If you’re interested in the subject, check out this 60 Minutes report on sugar and/or this short article from Oprah’s website, both of which might inspire you to have more awareness of the effects of sugar on our lives. A friend of mine recently told me she’s taken sugar out of her diet and has loved the results–lost weight, less cravings, etc. Any ideas on doing a sugar detox for kids? Bring ’em on in the comments section below. Please! Thanks, as always, for sharing!

Synchrodestiny with the Man Himself

March 11th was the date I posted about the Deepak Chopra books I’d recently read which included a couple on synchrodestiny– the beauty and significance of coincidences. Well, if this isn’t synchrodestiny, I don’t know what is, but about 10 days later, I received free tickets to see Deepak himself, live, here in Santa Barbara! Not only that, but, thanks to my proactive and thoughtful husband, I was able to attend a small (50 person) dinner with Mr. Chopra the night before his headliner. In my wildest dreams I would not have considered that a possibility and then, within the blink of an eye, it all happened effortlessly.


 Thank you, Vivienne, for taking this picture for me!

The synchrodestiny of these incredible opportunities gives me chills and thrills. I was also fascinated to discover what an incredibly intelligent and active person Deepak is. Although his energy would make one think so, he is not just sitting and meditating all day. Besides being a prolific author with 75 titles to his credit, he’s actively engaged in all sorts of organizations and foundations. He teaches a business class at Columbia, mentors young entrepreneurs, teaches a wide variety of courses at his center in San Diego, etc.

His talk at the dinner focused on everything from Stephen Hawking level discussions on the cosmos, all the way down to my level of understanding–meditation. The lecture on Friday had almost no overlap and covered topics ranging from changing the consciousness of business, especially Wall Street, to his latest discoveries on health and consciousness, and of course…meditation.

He also spoke about creating peace and happiness universally through each of our own individual commitments to these states of being. One comment that stood out for me was this equation for happiness:  H=S+C+V

Happiness=Set Point in the Brain+Conditions of the Brain+Voluntary Actions This link is to a video of him describing the different components of the formula, but the main part I remember is that the way to raise your basic happiness level set point in the brain is through meditation. So for all of us who are longing for some tangible benefits to meditation, there’s a huge bonus!

Thank you, Universe, for arranging those spectacular coincidences!

Eating Meditation

I had long grown tired of our family’s rapid-fire “prayer” before meals — Bless us o Lord, for these thy givvs ich eee mumble, mumble, mumble…Amen! dig in!

Doubtfully, those rashly recited words without any feeling or thought behind them constituted an actual “blessing,” especially when it was commenced with fast eating, little to no discussion, or worse, bickering.

I was thrilled, then, when I recently found the following Eating Meditation from the Deer Park Monastery website. You can read the whole meditation from the link, but here are the five contemplations we now say before meals:

This food is a gift of the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, preserve our planet and reverse the process of global warming.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, strengthen our sangha and nourish our ideal of serving all beings.

Sangha means community so I just substitute “family” to keep it simple. I love this prayer/blessing/meditation, whatever you want to call it, and I do believe it has helped us be more contemplative. Now, if I can just learn to love preparing those meals!