love

Week 33/Make Room For Love

“Love, then, is letting go of fear.”  
Gerald Jampolsky, MD
 

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
Winnie the Pooh

 
What is taking up the most room in your heart?  According to Gerald Jampolsky, anger, jealousy, resentment, and/or depression are all forms of fear.  So how to do you let go of fear?  How do you increase love in your heart?
 
Step One: It starts with a decision, a choice to identify, feel, and let go holding on to familiar (or even “justified”) experiences that close the heart.  These are the things that we can spend hours getting the people in our life to join us in believing – that we deserve to feel the various forms of fear.  It’s buying into the unfairness of it all; the unbelievable action of the other.  This is not to say we don’t cry our tears or express our pain, but then what? Do we hold on and cycle through more justification? At some point, the choice is between being right or being at peace.
 

Piglet: How do you spell love?
Pooh: You don’t spell it, you feel it.

 
Step Two: Find some way to feel love.  It can start with gratitude, appreciation, or remembering a moment that touched you.  For fear to grow, there needs to be an absence of love. For love to grow, there only needs to be a desire to open the heart. In our essence, we want to give and receive love. Have you ever noticed that doing an act of kindness for another actually swells your own heart?  It’s because giving generates the feeling of love within ourselves.  Watch a small child or puppy and their readiness to give love and affection, it can make the crankiest person smile unknowingly.  That’s because love, giving, and sharing are their own gifts—to you and those around you.  Practice what Pooh suggests…. Let small things help you to feel the love….. 

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Week 28/Love is the Way

Our inner state affects how we view the world around us. Most of us have experienced seeing a person or circumstance from a place of negativity, then having something pop that bubble of negativity and suddenly we are more patient, tolerant or accepting—even though nothing has changed outside of ourselves.   The more open we are to see the world from the lens of Grace, i.e. that things are occurring the way they are for a higher reason, the more we can say “yes” to life’s events.   This allows us to be open and even grateful, and with that the more love emanates from us to others.  

People can sense what we are experiencing.  We’ve all had the experience of walking into a room and sensing that a fight had occurred. Conversely most of us have had days when our hearts were full of gladness and we ended up seeing the beauty around us and having wonderful exchanges with strangers and loved ones alike.  As Hawkins says, “we transcend the smaller aspects of ourselves by accepting and loving them. We see the ego as “limited,” not “bad.” 

Every day is an opportunity to practice accepting our foibles, our sticky old patterns and instead to see them as some of our limitations, not our “badness.” It is also a chance to do the same for others at home and work.  Both of these practices will strengthen the other, for we cannot give what we don’t have and so it matters deeply that we are loving, patient and kind with ourselves.  Let the energy of love build in yourself and watch it silently transform your life.

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Week 22/ What Holds Your Attention?

Take a moment and contemplate the last time you just stopped.  You weren’t checking email, texts, watching TV, doing bills or errands… you were just resting.  Our culture is concerned with “what we do (for a living),” “what we did (on the weekend),” or “what was done (at work).”  But this constant striving, outputting of energy is costing us all. We are tense with our children and spouses, we are short with co-workers, or unable to appreciate our friendships because our “to do” lists seem to be constantly knocking on our inner doors.  This keeps us out of balance.
 
The masculine energy of action (both men and women have this) is a wonderful driver, but the feminine energy (yes men have this too) of being and receiving is an essential counterpoint to all the doing.  When I’m on silent retreat, sometimes for 10 or more days, I find in the first few days my mind and nervous system seem to be unspooling from daily life- despite daily yoga and meditation. Not everyone is inclined or able to do long retreats, but everyone can take a day for rest.  The tradition of the Sabbath was to pull us away from our constant doing, to rest and contemplate those things beyond daily life.  A day of rest, even if not done weekly can refresh your Soul and help to put things in perspective. As the old saying goes, “no one wishes on their death bed they’d put more hours in at the job.“ 
 
What we wish for is we’d taken more opportunities to explore, attended to the little moments of sweetness along the way, and had given and received more love.  On a Soul level we know this to be true but our mind is always pushing.  Try on a few hours of just resting.  Completely unplug and either alone or with someone dear to you just stop, listen and notice what is right in front of you.  As William Blake says:
                    

“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
An eternity in an hour.”

Photography by Ciro Coehlo

Anni Johnston, LMHC-S, BC-D/MT, CEDS, CYT works at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Movement Therapist.  In addition to her therapy work, Anni offers weekly Beginner and Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse.  She also offers book studies and special workshops throughout the year.

Week 8/Discover Your Drishti

I am by no means a yoga enthusiast, but I was admittedly intrigued when I was introduced to the Sanskrit word drishti, which translates to “sight”.  If you attend yoga regularly, you may already be aware of this yogic practice.  Drishti is a gazing practice used to help assist with balancing poses, such as Tree Pose.  Drishti is also used to promote a meditative state.  By choosing our focus, we are better able to go within.
 
This sentence bears repeating: By choosing our focus, we are better able to go within.
 
Humans are on sensory overload.  We have a 24 hours news cycle and multiple avenues of technology that compete for our constant attention.  Add to the mix our family, friends, co-workers – even our pets! Being constantly accessible to the mini-computers we carry around all day means that our focus is divided.  If we don’t make the conscious decision to choose our focus, we live in imbalance.  We lose touch with our most vital energy: our heart space.
 
Drishti is not limited to yoga; it is a mindfulness practice that we use to cultivate our inner wisdom.  How can we apply drishti to our own lives?

  • Take a few moments each day to soften your gaze.  Purposefully pick something within your sight and focus on the object.  It could be a flower or candle flame.  Let your gaze settle on that object.
  • Create technology free space.  Make a commitment to turn your gaze away from social media and other distractions.  Allow yourself to be on “airplane mode”.  Then use this time to open your heart space through meditation, journaling, or a daily reading.
  • Find your tribe.  In this application, we are not using drishti in the literal sense.  Instead, we are connecting with others.  This may mean that you choose to spend time with a dear friend that you haven’t seen in awhile, or participate in a group activity that you have neglected.

As it is written in The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  To truly see what is essential, we must set an intention to discover our drishti. 

Remove distractions.  Find your focus.  Open your heart space.  

Sara Goldstein works for Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. She edits and designs “52 Weeks of Mindfulness” for Sacred Treehouse. Sara is a writer, reader, and lover of poodles. Although she practices yoga infrequently, she enjoys meditation and mindfulness practice.

Week 6/Mindfulness of Deep Listening

Mindful Thought

Oneness is each of you moving in rhythm with one another; yet avoiding the propensity to overlap, block, or trip into each other. We look for the harmony of oneness to belt out of our relationships, wanting it to move us – like a duet in minor key.
 
Oneness, unity, connectedness, cohesion, negotiation, compromise, complementary, community. This “thing” connection is something to work at. You can’t google it. We create it only by digging into each other’s core. This magic takes root when we are curious. When we are quiet. When we are listening to each other.
 

Reflective Journaling

Describe effective and ineffective couples communication. Describe how you tend to communicate when under stress and how it serves (or does not serve) your relationship goals. 

Deep Listening Practice: Listen Lovingly 

This is a guided heart meditation that is great to practice with your partner or a friend. 1. Make a nice, soft space (on a solid surface) with two meditation cushions. Sit comfortably, facing each other. Your distance will be quite near, but without touching each other.

2. To begin to listen lovingly, start centering and settling in.  It is at this point that you may attend to your heart and breath. Your eyes may gaze softly at your partner or remain closed. You may find it helpful to focus on a phrase such as “I am breathing in, I am breathing out” while placing your hands on your heart center. Take as much time as you would like here with your partner.  

3. When ready, open your eyes and look lovingly at your partner. When the both of you have your eyes open, looking lovingly at your partner and ask, “Tell me something that you love?” The respondent will then ask the same question to their partner. An example would be:

Partner 1: Tell me something you love?

Partner 2: Our dog

Partner 2: Tell me something you love?

Partner 1: The beach at sunrise.

Partners will continue a rhythm of communication in this way. 

4. To complete this mediation, you may return attention to your breath and heart. I encourage you to discuss your felt experience with your partner and to share gratitude with your partner for sharing in this experience.

As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, “…in deep listening, we listen with the sole purpose of helping the other person feel heard and accepted.”  May you continue to open your hearts and listen deeply to those that you cherish.

Clara Bossie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches In collaboration with Sacred Treehouse, Clara has developed a series of lectures, book studies and workshops designed to bring harmony to family life, including the popular True Love book study. When she is not busy creating, Clara also practices and teaches yoga.