I’m in a process of learning how to set priorities like I’ve never done before. Rather than run around with that wack-a-mole energy I’m making the choice, day by day and moment by moment to concentrate my energy around my deepest desires.
I’ve been so inspired by the community of fellow authors. People who have written books while homeless. (I’m not kidding). While they had cancer. I mean come on.
These authors faced extreme circumstances but I don’t mean to minimize the struggles we all have to integrate care of self, care of beloveds, care of finances, care of home, and care of work priorities.
My writing program starts next week and my kids just went back to school yesterday. (Well technically it was Tuesday but Rosetta didn’t get my memo titled “Please G*d Go Back to School” and instead woke us all up in the dawn hours throwing up.)
So in this day of blissful silence as I prepare for the next season of my life I am attuned to a fierce wind blowing. I only have bandwidth for the most true things within me. Not the partial truths or the “have-to’s.”
This is where you come in.
As I’ve hinted I have been doing some research with my lovely virtual assistant on retreat locations for the May. This gathering will be similar to my Ghost Ranch offering last year but this time I’m going out on my own.
While Austin in all ways makes much more sense (people can drive there and it is fun and fabulous) my heart was hijacked by my recent trip to San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World heritage site and cultural gem in the highlands of central Mexico. And my soul is whispering go for it.
It is where I want to take you for transformational work.
It meets my requirements for being nature-drenched. (Enjoy a trip to the botanical gardens with an experiential herb labyrinth garden. Swoon. Or come a day early or late to immerse yourself in the hotsprings.)
But actually what it does most of all is match my desire for taking you somewhere beauty-drenched.
I wish I could share the pics of the place I’m considering renting but I’m awaiting a digital copy from the owner. But take my word for it: heated pool, courtyard, churchbells and bird calls. It delights the senses.
As women I think we need to honor drinking in beauty as a spiritual practice– a way to invite all of ourselves into our metamorphasis process, not just the more heady or pushy aspects of our personality.
(Have you noticed that barking at yourself around those New Year’s resolutions isn’t effective?)
The select group of women who join will be guided through group coaching sessions centered around themes in my upcoming book. Things like how to live with more ease and less struggle. And how to let go of external expectations to design a life which fits you from the inside out. (And ironically, frees you to contribute your most potent content in your professional and creative life.) Plus my favorite tools and processes for gaining clarity and breaking large goals into turtle steps. They will also be among the first to receive a copy of my book.
So — and this is an open and honest question. Are you into it?
Tentative Dates are Thurs May 4 -Sun May 7.
I know there are many more questions to answer, details on pricing, what is included (here is a hint, I’ll be bringing my husband who has years of catering experience and is an amazing chef to provide us with delicious, healthy fare), accommodation options and more.
But for now its just my heart talking to yours — I’ve put together a brief quiz for you and can’t wait to hear your preferences!
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and MindBody practices as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. You can read more about her coaching options here or Courtney can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How many times have you felt like someone was really not present to what you were saying? Like they were just waiting for you to take a breath so they could jump in with a story of their own or offer feedback? This kind of conversation can leave you feeling more lonely than you did before—wishing you had kept to your own counsel rather than risking sharing your truth with another. Sadly this is such a common experience. I don’t think we mean to hurt each other but when we listen to life through this habitual filter aka “the know-it-all mind” it keeps us isolated.
We are now in week 6 of our 8 week summer of meditation challenge and the focus shifts from meditation as a tool to inner knowing to the benefits of meditation in real life contexts-starting with communication. Here are three distinct practices: heart-centered breathing, listening with love, and the yum/yuk meditation (yes it really is called that) which help us live in alignment. Read on for details and please share your insights by clicking “reply” in the comments section below.
This week I discovered my favorite meditation practice so far… heart-centered breathing. Try it the next time you sit down to meditate or claim a moment to recenter while savoring a cup of coffee, sitting outside enjoying the summer colors, or watching the baby sleep. Here is how you do it:
As you inhale through your nose notice the rise and fall of your chest. After a few breaths look inward toward your heart. Imagine your breath moving into and out of your heart center as if it were a doorway to your lungs. Balance the length of your inhales and exhales and continue to imagine your breath flowing in and out of the center of your chest. When you notice yourself following a thought or other distraction refocus attention on your breath. Be kind to yourself. Open your eyes slowly when you are done—even three minutes is refreshing on its own or a great way to start a longer meditation. (You can read more on pages 145-6 in Sarah McLean’s book Soul-Centered meditation.)
I loved this practice. As a heart type I carry a lot of tension in this area of my body. When I slow down and tune in I sometimes notice anxiety coming out from my heart center. Other times I realize my heart feels heavy with compassion fatigue. Meditation and heart-centered breath help process emotions through the body and leave your heart feeling lighter and more supple. It is also a gift we give others in our life.
Have you noticed how powerful it is to have someone’s undivided attention? Beyond putting down the iphone and making eye contact… I’m talking about when you can tell that someone has actually disengaged from their inner dialogue and is totally present to you and the moment at hand. This experience is as refreshing as it is rare. I have experienced it in conversation with beautiful spiritual directors, counselors, and friends. In coaching sessions I notice how clients rise up within themselves and are able to express their authentic desires and access their courage simply because together we create a space where their soul feels heard.
This next practice, Listening with Love, relates to the heart-centered breathing and is one of the most powerful practices I have tried this summer. I can only imagine the ripple effects of each of you trying it out in your own spheres of influence!! Here’s how:
The next time you’re listening to another, observe yourself as you listen. Notice any habitual body movements or sensations that arise within you and return to your breath. As you listen, drop your awareness into your heart center, and listen from that perspective. Make peace with silence—try on the idea that there is nothing you need to do or say. Practice merely meeting the person with a full expression of your presence.
As you listen watch your tendency to drift off, to try to read the person’s mind, and monitor your impulse to interrupt or jump in. Notice if you have an initial judgment or label what is being said. Be compassionate with yourself… even as you notice these tendencies.
There is a tight relationship between the compassion we offer ourselves and the compassion which bubbles up in us easily for others.Gently return your attention to the actual words of what your conversation partner is saying. Notice what unfolds. (Read more about this practice on pps 146-47 of Soul-Centered.)
I tried this practice out a couple of times this week in just regular day to day conversations. Both times I found something surprising happening– almost like the person was flowering in front of me. I watched their body language change as they settled more fully into themselves and seemed more comfortable to take up space in the world and share what is going on for them.
Truly it is almost disturbing to notice the power we have to influence people around us. Yet rather than viewing our impact on others as evidence of our need to “try harder” to become more enlightened or to behave perfectly in every context, what if it is an invitation to consciously nurture ourselves so that we have presence to share?
And that is why this final practice, The Yum/Yuck Meditation, is so critical. In order to express yourself authentically you need to access your deep inner wisdom, your truth, and let it guide you in your communication.
In his book Still Life with Woodpecker, novelist Tom Robbins explores this idea as one of his characters explains: “There are only two mantras… yum and yuk.” So the next time you are asked a question or facing a choice, ask yourself, “how does my body feel right now?” Do you feel a tightening of your stomach or chest, a sick sensation, or a lightheartedness, expansion of joy?
Now I know sometimes we need to rise to a challenge and find courage to show up for our own lives. But there is a subtle (or not so subtle) difference in the body between something intense but right, and something that feels depleting. Sadly we live in a culture that teaches us to override this intuitive knowing– but it is a resource to protect us from work, projects and people who suck our energy and distract us from our soul’s truth.
Saying yes only when you feel yes in your body helps you communicate with integrity. As McLean points out: “There’s no need to manipulate yourself to please people at the expense of yourself. When you stay in your integrity, its is good for both your relationships and your life (131).” So the next time you are discerning your way through a choice, ask yourself “Is this is yum or yuck for me?” and wait until you really feel an answer in your body before you offer one out into the world.
I hope you all have a wonderful week trying on these practices. And please also enjoy the simplest practice of all –taking note when your heart feels really happy. Often we step on or over this sensation and consequently shortchange ourselves. I hope that among its many other benefits your meditation practice, whether one minute a day or thirty, helps you notice the things you love.
For me this happiness looks like ripe tomatoes carried home from the community garden in my granny’s tin bucket.
What makes your heart happy? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
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I get it. Mamas are busy— engaged in a dynamic dance balancing the needs of children, home, and professional or creative contributions to the community!
Yet busy mamas know better than anyone that your parenting and overall quality of life are enhanced when you can squeeze in that yoga class, conversation with a friend, or a moment to collect yourself over a cup of tea.
I am combining skills with Tara, friend and yoga teacher extraordinaire, to offer Restorative Mini-Retreats for Mothers this spring. Mark your calendars the series begins Thursday April 25 — click here for the Mini Retreat Flyer 2013 or read on for details…
SPRING 2013 MINI-RETREAT DATES
April 25: Divine Compensation: On Money, Work & Miracles
May 23: Nourishing Super Foods for the Whole Family
June 27: Conscious Parenting: Tools to Help You Exhale & Return to Center
We infuse each four hour retreat with rejuvenation for your body, mind & spirit, including: a full yoga class & guided meditation, a stimulating discussion with other thoughtful mamas, a home-cooked, organic meal and creative project.
Let us nourish you (or a woman you love) in a way which feels like a real treat and continues to inspire and encourage once you return to the intensity of everyday life.
Contact me via email email@example.com or phone 9725716860 and reserve your spot!
PS Register for More than One & Receive a Discount!
Tara and I are getting so excited as we do our final preparations for our upcoming Restorative Mothers Retreat at Shooting Star Ranch. We can’t wait to spend the day (this coming Thursday, Feb 7th) with a lovely group of mamas and to facilitate sessions on yoga, the enneagram and other tools for self-care in a beautiful natural environment. We have just one spot left and would love to have you join us. This is a great opportunity to invest in your own well being and also a wonderful Valentines Day gift to give yourself or another.
Please contact me with any questions or if you’d like to claim our final spot!
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