Guided Meditation to Heal Heartache

“The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it’s been broken into a million pieces.” 
~ Robert James Waller

“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.” 
~ Haruki Murakami

The energies of this week are all about forgiveness and opening our hearts, and throughout December they support joyful connection, gratitude and time spent on important relationships.

But what do you do when your heart is hurting? When you want to open up your heart but it’s bruised and battered and your faith in love and life is in tatters? Or when your heart is grieving the loss of loved ones, or time past?

I have a little guided meditation that might help. It’s one I recorded a while ago, but it’s perfect for the energies right now. It takes sixteen minutes, but I would suggest allowing extra time at the end for you to integrate the energy of the meditation.

All you need to do is find a spot to sit or lie quietly, and then follow along to the sound of my voice.  Feel free to hold a crystal of your choice if that feels right for you.

When you’re ready just click on the play button below:

 

You are beautiful, worthy and lovable just as you are.

You can heal, and you can know love. Love is your pure nature. It is what we have come from and the energy to which we will return.

Holding space for you to move back into an energy of flow, peace and light,

Nicole   xx

Loving-Kindness Meditation

loving kindness meditation

Image from www.ranibu.ru

“…eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in…
And someone’s face, whom you love, will be as a star
Both intimate and ultimate,
And you will be heart-shaken and respectful.

And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper
Oh let me, for a while longer, enter the two
Beautiful bodies of your lungs…

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for your eyes.

It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the beating of a single heart.
It’s praising.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life- just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
Still another…

And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world. ”
~ Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems

 

Today I’m sharing a simple Loving-Kindness guided meditation. Buddhists also know this as a metta meditation. Metta in buddhism means ‘friendliness’. Metta is the heart-generated warmth that reaches out and embraces others. It is also a warmth that we can direct to ourselves.

It is well documented that regular meditation helps us to reduce inflammation, anxiety and depression, to improve our immune responses, better manage pain, feel more happy and calm, and improve our overall wellbeing.

It has also been documented that recipients of the prayers and meditations of others also feel an increase in happiness and wellbeing, and an awareness of being loved.

This introductory meditation allows you to send loving kindness to yourself, and also to a loved one whom you’d like to support.

Loving Kindness meditation

Image by Wesley Hitt

I’m posting this meditation in support of a girlfriend whose mother is suffering from a profound bout of anxiety and depression. The mother has indicated that it is stressful for her to have her daughter try to help her, and for now she is pushing her daughter away. This simple loving-kindness meditation will help my friend to overcome her feelings of rejection, and to actively engage in sending energetic support to her mother.

To participate in the meditation, all you have to do is sit or lie quietly, close your eyes and follow along to the sound of my voice. The meditation takes 9 minutes, but I suggest that you leave yourself a little longer so you can come quietly and calmly back into the world at the end of the session.

Loving-Kindness Meditation:

 

I encourage you to practice this meditation often. You will find that it can make a tremendous positive difference in your life over time.

Much love to you, Nicole xx

Where’s Your Focus?

Image from reddit.com

Image from reddit.com because, well, pirates! And you know how I love pirates. 🙂

“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn’t suck.”
~ Joss Whedon

On Friday I posted about a beautiful ordinary day, and how much I had enjoyed such simple things as a trip to the farmers’ markets, clean sheets on the line, sunshine and crisp ripe apples.

After that post I received two emails, extracts of which are below:

That might be fine for you, Nicole, but not all of us live in Byron Bay. Not all of us have a beautiful life.

and

You obviously aren’t that sick, although you say you have lyme. No person with a chronic illness could enjoy the kind of life you have.

I guess that I need to be honest then, and admit that not all of my day was what you might consider beautiful. In fact it was downright ordinary. But I omitted those details from my Friday post.

I can list those things here:

  • As a result of my current course of drugs I have neurological urinary incontinence. I wore an adult diaper to the markets.
  • As a result of the drugs, the bacteria dying, and my poor liver not coping with increasing levels of toxicity I was covered head to toe in a fierce rash and weeping eczema. Agonising, and ugly too.
  • I was plagued by a sense of impending doom – the kind of feeling a psychic gets when they know something is about to happen, over which they have no control, but by which they will be impacted.

Here’s a photo of me a week ago, just before my last round of IV drugs. It was the best I’d felt in months and I was teaching myself how to take a selfie so I would have a picture of me for my new website. It was fun. I put on lipstick, and wore a jacket that made me look dressed for going out. I like this photo. I have clean hair, I’m standing in my garden on a bright autumn day, and it’s a headshot, so you can’t see my pyjama bottoms or my big-girl pull-up incontinence pants. About four photos later I worked out how to look into the camera instead of at my hand…

Nicole Cody

And here’s a couple of me taken last Thursday in Brisbane. Just before beautiful ordinary magical Friday. Here’s the rash that began to creep up my limbs and made me want to claw my own flesh off my bones.

lyme rash hand

Here’s my face, which was covered in blotches. I won’t share the photos of the weeping, bleeding rash behind my knees, under my arm and right across my chest and left breast. My face went that way too, by Friday morning.

Why am I sharing this? I have lived with chronic illness and daily misery for thirty years. That thirty years has taught me a lot. Once upon a time I would have been the person who sent plaintive, judgemental or whiney messages to others, whom I felt had no idea how much I was suffering and no right to say that life was good, when it plainly wasn’t.

But that kind of thinking ruins any chance you have of having a rich and satisfying life.

So I adjusted my focus.

No matter how crappy my day gets, I look for beauty. I look for the small pleasures, the tiny details of comfort and joy, the things that will make my day memorable, or at least tolerable.

It’s become one of my superpowers. And it could easily become one of yours.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react, we can control our thoughts, and we can control our focus.

On Friday I didn’t focus on my distress and discomfort. In fact, I worked hard to not focus on them and to look for the beauty around me.

As I ate my dinner in front of the fire early on Friday evening I reflected that it had indeed been a very beautiful ordinary day. That’s my secret. I know that every day can be a beautiful day, or at least have elements of beauty hidden within it, just waiting for an observant eye and an open heart.

So, I have to ask you…

Where’s your focus?

Image from quotesicons.com

Image from quoteicons.com

Sad Unicorns OR Is your New-Age Thinking Positively Unhelpful?

Sad Unicorn by theGREENER on flickr

Sad Unicorn by theGREENER on flickr

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.” 
~ Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” ~ Jim Morrison, The Doors

*Warning – The following post is not all puppies, rainbows and unicorns…

1uni

If you are a regular reader of my blog you’ll know I’m all for cultivating an optimistic outlook, for practicing gratitude, kindness and counting blessings. I also believe that thoughts are things, and that what we focus on and attach strong emotion to tends to manifest in our lives. Positive thinking and self-love bring many benefits.

So what I’m going to say next might sound like a contradiction, or even come as a shock…

I think that some of this Positive-Thinking Law-of-Attraction stuff is getting dangerously out of hand!

Emotions just are. They are human and useful, and part of the scenery as we journey through life.  No point in being too attached to them – they change all the time, based on how much sleep we’ve had, our current health and relationship status and a myriad of other factors.  Emotions are mostly transient, but haven’t you noticed that there is a big push lately for us to be enlightened enough to somehow stay happy and calm and in a permanent space of unconditional love, which we then beam out from us to others to help them feel happy, calm and loved too?

This same train of thought suggests that all those ‘lesser’ emotions, those ‘negative’ ones, are there merely for us to transcend, and it is a sign of our awareness (and for some, spiritual superiority!) to no longer entertain negative thoughts or emotions in any situation.

'Angel Melodies' by Josephine Wall

‘Angel Melodies’ by Josephine Wall

I disagree! It is NORMAL as a human to experience anger, pain, sadness, depression, guilt, shame, fear and regret at different times.  It is APPROPRIATE to feel these emotions in response to certain situations. I also believe that it is unrealistic in these circumstances to expect ourselves to easily and readily ‘snap out of it’ and be all Love and Light.

There is also a New-Age belief that by feeling negative emotions or thinking negative thoughts we are then creating further negative energy in our lives.

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You’re thinking people, so I’ll ask you to draw your own conclusions about the following scenarios:

A beautiful young woman rang me yesterday, utterly distraught.  She has a four-year-old son, and an eight-month-old daughter, whom she is still breast feeding.  Both children were conceived through IVF, and shortly after she became pregnant with her daughter, this woman’s husband of ten years left her, and began a new relationship.

She and everyone else had thought it was a happy marriage. It was a complete shock. One day he was beside her and the next he was gone. Her husband had tied up most of his assets in protected structures, and there was no money available.  A protracted battle was entered into. The man has told his ex-wife that he wants nothing to do with her or their children (he has never seen his daughter, and has had no contact with his son since he walked out) and he says he will let the courts decide what minimum he has to pay toward their upkeep. The young mum ended up moving back in with her parents as she had no income of her own, her health was poor and she was completely devastated by the unexpected end of her marriage.

Of course this has been a stressful time for this young woman.  Her husband deserted her, she went through a difficult pregnancy entirely without him, and she was anxious about the future of her little family. On top of that she had ongoing problems with a hot, sore breast during pregnancy and, later, severe mastitis.  No matter what she tried it just didn’t get any better, and she consulted several nurses and doctors.  Finally one of them sent her for some tests.  She was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, so advanced that there are no treatment options available.  All they can do is provide palliative care. She has weeks left.

And here’s the saddest part.  In a desperate attempt to prolong her life this woman went to a respected doctor who is also an alternative medicine practitioner. One of the first things the doctor said, upon taking this woman’s recent medical and life history, was that the young woman’s anger and negative emotions towards her husband had most probably caused her cancer.

Really?

Can it be as simplistic as that? And if so, why isn’t everyone else going through great life upheaval and trauma suddenly manifesting life-terminating cancer for themselves?

So here I have this traumatised young mum sobbing into the phone, wracked with guilt that her recent pain, anger and depression have manifested a cancer that will now deprive her children of their mother.  Over and over she said to me, “I’m so sorry. I just don’t know how to fix it. I truly didn’t mean to do this.”

She wanted me to help her have a sparkly-clean mind, filled with love and rainbows and unicorns and hope.

Somehow, if she could get a mind like that, miraculously she would heal…

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Another friend has long suffered with serious depression.  It was brought about after an incident that would change anyone’s life; the death of her younger sister and brother in a car accident (not her fault! – they were slammed by a drunk driver at nine o’clock in the morning just outside their school) when she was a newly licensed driver. It left her with a legacy of physical pain and disfigurement too.  She has battled to get out of the hole, and truly it has been less than helpful when well-meaning friends and even health practitioners kept telling her to ‘get over it’, and that her happiness is a choice.

Their words implied that she was to blame for the place she was in, and she was left even more guilt-ridden and shamed over her inability to get unstuck. Truly, she was trying, but at that time she didn’t have the tools she needed to start turning things around. Every time she posted positive affirmations around the house, or repeated them endlessly, she felt more and more of a failure, as she measured the disparity between her current situation and where the affirmations told her she could be. Positive thinking made her feel even less worthy and deserving of help, change and even life itself.

This beautifully illustrated journey through depression from one of my favourite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half, explains this place so well:

Adventures in Depression

Eventually my friend found her way back to a place of balance. She is a counsellor, working with others, and her life has meaning again for her. There’s even laughter and happiness.  Sure, she still has hard days but we all do.  That’s life.

Life is a crucible that forges us through fire, and it is our trials and troubles which often truly enable us to grow and transform, more meaningfully and more lastingly, than any amount of positive thinking.

It belittles us, and it cheapens the human journey, to use trite phrases about positive thinking in the face of real struggle.  Life is wonderful, and at times heartbreakingly sad, hard and just plain awful. Sometimes we are helpless and powerless in the face of our own pain, or the suffering of another.

The magnificence is in finding something within us that enables us to keep going, even if we bumble and fumble and drag ourselves along, until we get from that place of darkness back into the light, forever changed.

Every decent book I ever read had a hero or heroine who faced disaster, betrayal and every other form of hardship. The way they travelled that difficult road is why we stuck around – so that we could be inspired, cheer them along, learn from them and eventually watch them grow into the sorts of people we desire to become ourselves.

There is a place for positive thinking, and for wanting to manifest our future by aligning ourselves with a vision of abundance that makes us feel good, and excited about what’s yet to unfold.

But there is also a place for experiencing the fullness of emotions created by being in the now. And sometimes that now will be paved with pain rather than rainbows.

The rainbows come later, after the rain. After you’ve ridden out the storm.

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How to nurture Inner Peace

“Peace of mind is not a goal I need achieve.  It’s a place inside I never want to leave.  Close my eyes, I still my thoughts and then I say I will choose to live in peace today.” – Robert Alan           (Beautiful image by anankkml)

Most of us live bombarded by situations, workplaces, devices and relationships that over-stimulate us.  In fact, this overt stimulation seems ‘normal’ and we don’t realise just how frazzled, stressed and over-extended we are, because that’s how everyone lives!

In this state of bombardment, our bodies produce extra chemicals to hype us up and help us cope as we become more stressed.  And in this place of stress we become less able to hear our own inner guidance systems, and the guidance systems of the universe.  This stress taxes our body and soul.  We also become much more left-brain dominant.  Our left brain analyses and organises and prioritises and schedules and criticises to help us cope with the overwhelming inflow of stimulation and information.  (I feel exhausted just reading that!)  Our creative, emotive, spiritual right brain is used much less.  That aspect of us becomes ignored.

As a result we become depleted, depressed, exhausted and just plain old stuck.

 (Image by graur codrin)

In fact, sometimes we become so depleted or overwhelmed that the universe assists us in our need to hibernate and reconnect by gifting us an illness, accident or other life-altering drama so that we have no choice but to rest and re-evaluate.

If that sounds even remotely like you, it’s time to nurture some inner peace.  Inner Peace is a place of calm connectedness, an energy of stillness and silence that is found deep within you.  It replenishes you, it heals and refreshes you, and it radiates from you to touch, heal and calm others.

Here are some simple suggestions for nurturing Inner peace:

  1. Declare certain days or times of the day to be computer, television and telephone free.
  2. Simplify your life.
  3. Spend less time doing things you don’t want to, and being with people who tax you.
  4. Instead of going to shopping malls and crowded places, try a beach, a park, your garden, or even your lounge or bedroom. (But no TV, phone or computer!)
  5. Let go of some of your extra commitments and activities.
  6. Book a weekend break somewhere in nature where you can eat, sleep, walk, read and rest.  Leave the phone and laptop at home and resist the urge to listen to the radio, read the newspaper or watch TV.  Practice being lazy and indulgent.
  7. Learn to meditate.
  8. Take up yoga, tai chi or qi gung and practice it daily on your own.
  9. Indulge in a regular massage, health or beauty treatment that is relaxing and/or healing.  Ask the practitioner not to talk unless the question or instruction is part of the treatment.
  10. Spend five minutes each day just being mindful of where you are, how you feel, what is happening around you in nature, and what is happening in your body.
  11. Walk.
  12. Go on a retreat.
  13. Start a hobby you can do on your own like art, woodwork, knitting or writing.  Make the hobby a form of meditation.
  14. Dance. It frees and builds energy within the body, and promotes joyfulness.
  15. Sleep. (Yep, that’s right.  It’s a remarkable antidote to fatigue!) 

Many people who are out of balance, or who feel a spiritual calling are telling me right now that they feel a compulsion to drop the drama.  They just don’t feel like being with ‘friends’ who gossip destructively, who drink excessively or who otherwise drain them.  They can feel themselves literally putting up barriers, or going into behaviours such as avoidance by not answering their phone or returning emails.  They feel themselves withdrawing from the complexities and overwhelming interaction of their lives.  They also feel the need to ‘get their house in order’.  For some people this is about doing seven years of overdue taxes.  For other people it is about de-cluttering their home, or even their social calendar so that there is time and space for themselves to transform.

Is that okay?  YES.  Sometimes we need to simplify and create time for ourselves so that we can heal and reconnect.  When we reduce the outside chatter and the need to be organised and involved we are free to spend times with ourselves, in self and spiritual exploration.  Our inner world is rich and filled with delights, directions, ideas and advice.  But we can only connect with this aspect of ourselves through peace, solitude and rest.  And sometimes we need to rest FIRST.  Reconnection can begin after our batteries have recharged enough that we are no longer just in survival mode.

Here is a five minute guided meditation to nurture your connection to inner peace:

Nicole Cody’s Meditation for Inner Peace

 

This beautiful artwork called Inner Flame is by Jet James, an awesome young Australian Artist.  I love the serenity and peace captured in this image.

The importance of time on your own

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone.  For many people, the idea of spending an extended period of time with just themselves for company is an uncomfortable prospect.  Most of us fill every waking moment with activities, chores and people.  Time for ourselves is often the lowest priority. (image by chrisroll)

Alone doesn't have to mean lonely

We are social creatures by nature, but in order to maintain our strength and individuality, it is important to have a measure of independence.  It is vital that we befriend and value ourselves, taking time to nurture and love ourselves so that we can keep giving to others, and cope with the many demands placed upon us.  One way to do this is to spend time alone.  And for some people that can be a very difficult thing to do!

Everyone needs time alone to work on being themselves.  As a child you could play happily for hours – just you, some space, and your imagination.  It’s the time alone that allows you to replenish the well of energy within.  It’s the time alone that lets you reach into your imagination and become more truly you.  Time spent in your own company enables you to become stronger, more independent, and more able to give to yourself while recognising your limits with others.

Society is geared for giving.  We will spend the majority of our lives giving of ourselves to others – as friends, employees, lovers, parents, partners and family members.  This is fine, but brings to mind the analogy of the well.  Every time we give out energy, effort and love, we are drawing on our inner well of reserves.  If we never top up the well, one day we’ll find ourselves scraping the mud at the bottom, only to find there’s nothing left.  Murphy’s Law seems to dictate that when we really hit rock bottom and need to use our own reserves, it’s only then that we find we’ve given them away.

Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely

Loneliness can happen in a crowded room, an office, a marriage or a friendship.  It can happen when we’re by ourselves.  Loneliness is feeling disconnected, unloved, unwanted, unappreciated or misunderstood.  But if you are friends with yourself, you should never feel completely alone.

When you’re lonely, being alone can be a scary prospect.  That’s because we usually rely on other people to make us feel good about ourselves, to give us value, and to provide direction.  But being alone is integral to becoming a better friend to ourselves.  If you can’t enjoy your own company, who else will? (image by graur codrin)

Have you forgotten how to be a friend to yourself?

A true friend has the following qualities:

  • respects our limits, and is able to say ‘no’ to activities or people we don’t want to be involved with
  • recognises when we feel tired, sick or low, and provides love and nurturing till we’re back on our feet
  • encourages us to use our gifts and talents, and to try new things
  • does things to make us feel good
  • praises us honestly, and treats us kindly

Ways to befriend yourself:

  1. Learn to appreciate moments of solitude in your life.  This article from evolutionzine.com gives some great advice about why solitude is an important tool for creating balance in your life.
  2. Spend time each week keeping a journal.  List things you would like to do, places and people you want to visit, and other personal goals.  Write down positive things you’ve been told about yourself.  Keep a list of your secret dreams and ambitions.  Don’t share this with anyone!
  3.  Allocate yourself “replenishment” time each week, or even once a month to go do things on your own that you enjoy.  Suggestions include a long walk followed by a relaxing bath, massage, lessons in something that interests you, visits to a library or bookshop, shopping, visiting markets, parks and art galleries, going to the beach or a favourite café.  Being creative is also wonderful – make or do something!
  4. Just for a day, stop criticising yourself and others.  Let everything just be okay for today.
  5. Take time to exercise, meditate, reflect and daydream.  Even ten minutes on your own each day is a start.
  6. Revisit happy times and achievements through meditation or contemplation.  Remember the strength you found to pull you through difficulties.  Know that you can draw on all of these experiences and strengths at any time.
  7. Surround yourself with beauty.  Wear nice clothes.  Pick fresh flowers for the house, make a special space to relax in, and visit places that make you feel good often.
  8. Laugh, stretch, sit in the sun, breathe clean air, hug pets and friends.
Know that you are beautiful just as you are, that you are lovable, worthy, and enough.  There is something within you that is unduplicatable in this world.  You are a unique individual, the only one of you this world shall ever know.  Make time to know yourself. Shine your Light.  ♥

I wish I could show you, When you are lonely or in darkness, The astonishing light of your own being. ~Hafiz

(image by dan)

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh