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Peace on Earth

Once again the world feels sadness and disbelief this week with the most recent events with the shooting of young singer Christina Grimmie and then the shooting in Orlando. Once again I sit in the quiet and wonder what is happening to the world. There are more people than ever who are trying to live more mindful, heart-centered lives and yet it seems that terrorism is at an all-time high. This drastic polarity has me puzzled and I feel my fear bubbling to the surface thinking about how fragile human life is, how this living, breathing body of mine can be extinguished in seconds.

When I was younger and felt more invincible, thoughts like this never crossed my mind. I believed I’d live forever! But now, I wonder if children still feel that way. Or have the changes in the world brought changes in how our children see life?

I confess this has been on my mind a LOT lately. The justice-seeker in me rails against innocent people being slain for their desire to love who they want, find peace in the world, live happy lives and thrive. My thoughts will tell me this is a cruel world, one that cannot be saved from such angry attacks. My thoughts tell me that it isn’t even safe to leave the house anymore because you never know when someone might strike. My thoughts tell me there is not use in trying to teach peace because it doesn’t seem to change anything. My thoughts get carried away, try to bring me down, take me into fear, sadness and doubt. I don’t want to listen to those thoughts.

But beyond the thoughts there is the real me, the one who is filled with knowingness, that can let go of the thoughts, that can find the beauty in all things – ALL THINGS – yes, even in the person who is suffering so much that they commit such horrible acts, take lives with such seeming ease. They suffer in their humanness just as we suffer sometimes. Their suffering has no Loving Presence to remind them of who they are. They are out of touch with that part of themselves that sees the beauty, peace, love and kindness of human nature.

This only strengthens my resolve to stay connected to my own Loving Presence as much as possible as often as I can because I know that it is the only way to really live without fear and judgment. I want to see beauty, to comfort those who suffer, to teach the truth to those that desire that ability to let go of the illusion that holds them in the heaviness of human suffering.

I’m not perfect, I have my moments, days and yes, even sometimes weeks when I have forgotten who I am and fall out of the divine state of grace. But more and more I am working at have less of those times and instead understanding what others might be going through, of letting go of blame and the need to be right, finding compassion for myself and as a result for others as well. To remember that when someone lashes out they aren’t attacking me, but expressing their pain in the only way they know how.

And I hope and pray that it will be enough. Enough to heal myself. Enough to heal my family, my town, my country, and little by little to heal the world. As one person, I can only change myself, find my own peace and know the love that is there for me. And as that pebble is dropped into the ocean of humanity, let that love be felt.

Let peace and love be here on earth and let it begin with me.

With love and kindness

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All my liSpiritual growthfe I’ve wanted to feel courageous. I’ve watched those I admire as they courageously charged through life seemingly without fear.

When I was in an unhappy marriage, feeling fearful with the anticipation of my then husband having too much to drink and unleashing his anger at me, I prayed for courage. Each time I had to take the kids out for ice cream on a Sunday evening because he had gone a bit too far, I dreamt of a day when I had courage. And when he died and I was left to raise my two young kids alone, I was desperate for some courage.

Some people think that courage has to come in a big, bold package that’s unmistakable, very recognizable according to the standards set by…well who exactly? What is a good example of courage anyway? Someone who dies for their beliefs, yes, that’s courageous. Someone who jumps out of an airplane, ok, that takes courage. Someone who is dealing with a life threatening disease, that is definitely an example of courage. But me? Raising two kids on my own? Living a very lonely life without someone to walk the path with, to check in with on discipline, bedtimes, proper diet, day care, all the things that are a part of being a parent? I didn’t see any courage in that because I was always feeling afraid – of making the wrong decisions, of being a bad mother, of having to be the bad guy ALL of the time, of something happening that was beyond my ability to cope.

And yet, I made it through. I managed, in all my anxiety and fear, to raise two lovely, caring human beings. And you know, I feel like I didn’t really have a lot to do with it. I mean, yes, I was there, I provided the support, love, advice, and discipline when needed (and by the way, sometimes in a not very nice way!) but I’m not responsible for who they are really, no matter how hard it was. They are each their own person and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to bear witness to their unfolding lives.

Even with all of that, I still didn’t see myself as a person with courage. Then the other day, I started looking at that belief I have about myself. I reviewed all the situations and events of my life and how I managed to not only get through them, but come out the other side in a fairly decent state of emotional, physical and spiritual health.

It was at the end of this little impromptu review that it hit me. I couldn’t have accomplished all I had accomplished without courage. I hadn’t seen it in myself because I was comparing myself to others who have displayed their courage in HUGE, life changing ways. I didn’t recognize until that moment that courage isn’t always big, bold and hard to miss. Sometimes courage is that quiet strength that is just present within you whenever you need it. And that’s the kind of courage I had. In that moment of discovery, and even as I write this now, I had a few tears. Tears for the young woman who kept on going, who didn’t give up, or be the victim, the one who didn’t expect the world to come to her rescue, who taught her kids to be self-reliant and responsible. And tears for the part of me that didn’t give her credit for the past 35 years for having vast amounts of courage that was the fuel that kept her going through good and bad times.

So if you think that you don’t have courage, think again. I bet there are a lot of ways in which you have drawn up from the well of courage and got yourself through some tough situations. Give yourself credit for that and know that you don’t have to go looking for courage, just know it is there ready for you when you need it.

With love and kindness

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JOY!

Experiencing Joy doesn’t have to be a “knock me down, in my face, blow me away” kind of experience. That’s what I’ve learned over that past little while. I realized that I’ve been spending a lot of time waiting for Joy to show up in my life, with an expectation of some fireworks that will totally sweep me off my feet. But what I’ve realized is that every day of my life is filled with beautiful moments of joy that I don’t always see because I am so caught up in the doing of life and forget to be – fully and completely in the moment, to take in that joyous feeling and let it sink into every pore of my being so that I actually AM joy. My God, it feels good just to even write that. Now I know I really want to feel it.

So I’m going to pay more attention to the joyous part of my life. I’m going to lean in, full on and catch those moments of joy so that I don’t miss them. I’m going to write some of them down – yes only some of them because I’m anticipating that I am going to be experiencing so many moments of joy I won’t have time to write them all down. But I will write down at least one daily as a reminder of joy in my life especially for those times when I’m not feeling it. Something to bring me back to the present moment. I know lots of people make up Joy jars and leave them till the end of the year to read but I’m thinking that reading them whenever I need to will help me to get back to my authentic self and give me the most benefit.

I’m wishing you all the experience of joy in your lives and if you aren’t feeling it, I hope you’ll join me on my return to joy in whatever way will help you to reconnect – with joy, with love and with your authentic self. And if you’d like to do a simple meditation on Joy, you can listen to my meditation here.

I’d love to hear from you about how you’re doing with your joyful life or with questions or requests for ideas on how to find the joy.

Yours in joy,
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Goddess

I went to the grocery store today to pick up a few things. There is one particular cashier that I tend to avoid when I go but today, being Saturday, I looked for the shortest line and queued up. Although the line was short it seemed to be taking a long time to move forward. When the line finally did move I noticed it was that cashier that I avoid.
Today, though I listened to that inner voice that said, “Today, instead of judging, use this as an exercise in self-awareness.”
I began to look at what it was about the cashier that I was trying to avoid. And I realized that her insistance about how things were bagged was a reflection of my own close mindedness when I think something should be done a certain way. I realized how restrictive I can be when I think my way is the only way.
And then I felt love and compassion for myself and my own contraction at times. As I felt that compassion and love for myself, I could feel it moving outward towards the cashier and suddenly I was grateful for what her presence had done for me. As I paid my bill and took my bags of groceries the smile I gave her was genuine and the judgment was replaced with love.
I love listening to my inner voice. It never steers me wrong.

With love and kindness

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As I sit in my office with the window open on this beautiful sunny day, I feel the gentle caress of a subtle breeze as it moves through the screen and gently washes over my body.  I am grateful for having windows that open after many years of old broken windows that were stuck closed. I think how that could be a metaphor for my life – the many years I was closed and miserable, stuck in a place of resistance.

But now I feel more open, more in tune with the flow of life. And as I enjoy the feeling of the cool breeze, letting it flow over me, feeling the sensations of it with interest, almost leaning in to feel it more fully I realize that our emotions are like the breeze. We can close the window to our Soul so as not to feel our emotions but if we open ourselves up to the feelings, allowing, accepting, leaning in and letting go, the result is a deep feeling of contentment and peace.

As I sit in silence, hearing the sounds from outside drift in through the window, the breeze whispers, “Don’t try so hard. Relax.” And I do relax. I surrender. I let go. Until the next time I need to be reminded again. And I will surrender then too.

Peace. I feel peaceful and my lips curl into a soft smile. In this moment I recognize that I have it all. Everything I’ve ever wanted and more. I feel grateful for all of it but especially for the breeze that reminded me so gently how to be.

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The foundation of what I teach is to be in the present moment as much as humanly possible every day. When I tell people this, their first question is: How do I do that?

Here are five simple ways to practice being in the present moment, by using your five senses:

  1. See. Be very focused on everything you see around you. Pay attention to the colour, size, movement of the things you see. And look at them with childlike wonder and innocence as if for the first time. When you are with another person look into their eyes and really see them. Sit in a room, alone. Allow your gaze to move around the room and casually let it land on objects that come into your field of vision. Focus on each item for a minute or two and with no judgment merely observe it, then move on to the next. Notice if the objects hold any meaning for you and see if you can let that go.
  2. Hear. Listen to the sounds you hear around you, intently but without agenda. Close your eyes so that you can focus on sound more clearly. Notice sounds you don’t normally hear. How do those sounds make you feel? When you are with someone, listen closely to what they are saying without thinking about what you want to say next. When they have finished speaking, take a deep breath and respond to what they have said without judgment.
  3. Smell. It’s getting warmer outside so get out there and smell the scents of Spring! Sit outdoors with eyes closed and breathe in the smell of wet earth, falling rain, whatever aromas come your way. Pay attention to how they smell, neither good nor bad, but what characteristics do they have – earthy, sweet, sour, flowery, pungent. Observe without judgment.
  4. Touch. Pay attention to how things feel. How do you clothes feel on your skin? When you’re in the shower experience fully the sensation of the water on your skin or the soap as you clean yourself. When someone hugs you focus on how it feels to be embraced, or kissed. Feel the bristles of the brush on your head as you brush your hair. Witness how your back, bottom and legs press into the chair that you are sitting in. How do all of these feel? Leave judgment of good or bad out and pay attention to the sensations; soft, tingly, rough, smooth, cold, warm, tight.
  5. Taste. When you sit down to a meal, do so without distraction. Place the meal before you. Look at it, breathe. Smell it, breathe. Bring it up to your mouth and touch it to your lips, breathe. Slowly put it into your mouth and feel the texture of it. Notice the taste as if for the first time. Avoid judgments of good and bad, like or dislike and taste the flavours, of the food. Chew slowly and deliberately, letting the texture, taste and enjoyments fill your senses. Breathe. Swallow the food and then begin again.

It’s amazing how using our sense can be so instrumental in bringing us to the present moment. And in doing so how much deeper and fuller the experience can be without distraction.

We hold 6 week workshops called A Journey Through the Senses for anyone who is interested. If you’d like to be notified when the next workshop is being held, sign up for our mailing list over on the right.

With Love and Kindness

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It’s written about, sung about, talked about. It even has it’s on day. We cry over it, laugh about it and even complain about it. But no matter what we say about it, we all need love. It is the thing that gives us hope, feeds our soul, opens our hearts and touches on our pain ever so gently.

There is a power in love that can change an ordinary day into an extraordinary one. It’s sunshine on a cloudy day, flowers peeking through the melting snow and it is a great force that can change the very fabric of our being.

I believe in the power of love and here’s why:

1. It has the ability to heal. Love can take us from desperation to elation, from sadness into joy, from darkness into light.
2. It can change a bad situation into a good one. Creating a loving environment allows us to feel safe enough to express ourselves in a healthier way with less blame and anger and more vulnerability and truth. Someone else’s anger is really only a request for love.
3. It can chase away fear. The opposite of fear is love. When we focus on love and loving thoughts and feelings, we leave little to no room for fear to hold our attention and create problems or worries.
4. It can heal a broken heart. We’ve probably all suffered with a broken heart at some point in our lives. The love of someone who can show compassion and give you the space and time to get through it is like a balm, soothing and reassuring.
5. It can make you smile and feel gratitude. It’s so much easier to smile, be happy and feel gratitude when we’re feeling the settling foundation of love within us. There is a pure joy in knowing the feeling of love.
6. It can transform a life. Those who are struggling or find themselves in an unhealthy life situation, sometimes only need a loving, supporting environment in order to make a change to a healthier life.
7. It can nurture and motivate a child from infancy to adulthood. Loving our children unconditionally can give them what they need to build their own sense of love and self-worth and prepare them as they go out into the world.
8. It can open us to all the possibilities and opportunities. In the presence of love, we tend to drop worry, anxiety and anger and develop a clarity through which we can see the unlimited possibilities the universe has to offer.
9. It can lead us to peace. When we feel loved, there is a settling, a comfort and a knowing that everything is okay in the world. We need not push, control or force anything. We need only relax and enjoy the journey.
10. It can heal the world. As Gandhi’s famous quote says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It really does begin with each of us individually. We cannot expect to see peace and love in the world if we can’t see it in our neighbours, fellow workers, other drivers on the roads or the businesses we deal with. Bringing love into all our daily interactions really can heal the world.

Years ago I might have read something like this and thought that I needed to go out and find someone who would love me so I could experience all of these lovely benefits of it but what I learned was that the real power of love came from within me. That there was an unlimited source of it that wanted to express itself through me. And I only needed to become more aware of it in order to be affected by its amazing ability to bring me all these experiences.

Before I met my husband, I had reached a time in my personal journey when I was ready to meet someone with who I could be in a beloved relationship. I knew by that point that it wasn’t about me finding someone who would love me, provide me with all the feelings that I wanted to experience, but more about learning to find the source of those feelings in me. I worked at becoming the Beloved so that I could be all that I wanted in relationship. It was then that I was truly ready to be in beloved relationship with someone else.

It’s February and as most people cannot help but be aware Valentine’s Day looms before us. Valentine’s Day, to me, is not about my partner proving how much he loves me through actions, words or gifts, but it is more about recognizing the loving relationship I have with myself.12893_wpm_hires

And yes, it may be easy for me to say because I’m in a relationship after all. But I spent many Valentine’s days alone before that and I can tell you there were not always great. But there were some wonderful Valentine’s days that were amazing and yes, I was without a partner.

I wish you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day, but more than that, I wish you love. I wish you peace. I wish you joy.

With love and kindness
Bettina

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Grateful for being

This morning as I meditated and connected with my Inner Voice, my Higher Self, I heard this truth:

“When someone has treated you badly, directed anger toward you, bullied you, upset you it is helpful to remember that you’ve done nothing wrong. The actions of others are no reflection on you but a call for love from them.

Can you answer that call? Can you relate to them from your loving presence and see in them their loving presence?

Let go of your false ideas about yourself and have compassion for those who hold on to their own false ideas. Share with them the love that you know to be truth. Hold them in a sacred place of true love, understanding, compassion and grace.

Be kind, be gentle, be wise.

Allow, accept and let go.

And always choose love.”

With love and kindness
Bettina

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Woman with fluWe had the loveliest Christmas at our house this year. Gathered together at different times over the holidays with family and friends, I felt the gratitude for all that we have and the love that we share. It truly was a magical Christmas season. The day after Boxing Day there was still one more family dinner yet to come with my sister and her family.

And then it hit! The worst flu I think I’ve ever had. Both Peter and I couldn’t get out of bed and we were expecting company that day for an early dinner.

A few things went through my mind.

  1. I NEVER get sick
  2. How am I going to get a meal ready for company when I can’t get out of bed?
  3. There’s no way I can cancel.

The short 10 foot walk to the bathroom seemed like a 100 mile journey and there I was trying to figure out how to entertain company. What to do?

I didn’t want to keep my sister from seeing my mom during Christmas and since my mom and my daughter were still feeling fine, I called my sister to warn her that we were sick. They decided to come anyway with the promise to help my mom get dinner served.

Now some people might not know this about me but I’m fiercely independent, have trouble asking for help and like to feel I am the expert – at EVERYTHING!

So here I was in a position where I was being challenged in all those areas. But I was too sick to move and luckily too sick to fight it.

Lesson #1 – Surrender

I had no choice but to surrender to this flu that had wiped me out completely. I may never get sick but I was now and I had to lie in bed and allow nothing else to happen but let my body heal – surrender to it.

I had no choice but to let go of my belief that only I could pull off this dinner – surrender to it.

The thing is that when you’re feeling that ill you just don’t have the energy to resist. Surrender is your only option. At any other time I might be pushing against it, exerting a LOT of energy to take the path of resistance. But I was forced into stillness, to a place where I realized that I felt relieved to be pushed into a state of surrender.

I resigned to give myself up to the flu and allow time and sleep to help me heal.

Lesson #2 – Let go of expectations

In the process of this surrender, I also realized that when asking for help it’s a good idea to let go of expectations of how the person you’ve asked to help you carries out said actions. Just because it’s different than how I would do it doesn’t make it wrong. Oops, okay I could see a little bit of judgment there that I could well afford to and in fact benefit from letting go. Again, being flat on your back feeling ill really can be enlightening.

Lesson #3 – Let go of judgment

This suggests I might try being more open to things that are different and be in a place of observation rather than scrutiny. Beginner’s mind, a fresh outlook and an open heart are good tools to keep handy at a time like this.

All in all, although, being sick was just plain yucky in the physical sense, it was one of the most emotionally freeing times I’ve had in a long while. I saw a lot of ego-centered ideas and behaviours that I would do well to say goodbye to and I realized I don’t have to be forced into stillness by being sick. I just have to make stillness a choice more often.

In the end, I found a word that may just end up being the focus of 2015 for me – Surrender.

Don’t wait till you get knocked off your feet to go into the stillness – do it now. Let go and surrender and feel the relief it brings when you don’t have to be the Master of the Universe.

With love and kindness 

Bettina

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It’s so easy to see the ways that we’ve been hurt by others. On and off over the years I’ve been really good at it. Throughout my journey of self-discovery and self-realization I’ve noticed the times when I believed someone had hurt me and with awareness I’ve been able to move from blame into recognizing that I was responsible for the misconception of what was said or made the choice to believe what was said or done.

Throughout my life, when I was bullied, I felt victim to my own belief that I didn’t fit in. In other situations I followed the belief that I wasn’t good enough. And with each experience I sank deeper into a pit of despair, feeling lost, lonely and crushed until I learned to let go of those beliefs and adopt ones that supported my higher self – my authentic self. It was wonderful to get to that space within myself.

But that wasn’t the only kind of hurt that was happening.  Recently I’ve become aware of another kind of hurt. That of the self-inflicted variety.

Recently I was given cause to look at how many times in a day I beat myself up, how often I don’t acknowledge the goodness in me, the Loving Presence that I am.

And in perfect Divine timing, I opened up A Course in Miracles this morning to read my daily lesson when it hit me like a sledge hammer to the heart.

“Today I will not hurt myself again”. 

I feel the tears welling up even as I write this, aware of the full extent that I have, on a daily basis, been hurting myself. Of how many times I point out to myself my faults, tell myself I don’t fit in and I’m not good enough. I look for and create experiences that will confirm these “facts” to me as I go over and over in my mind everything I’ve done wrong or sub-par.

There is no bully standing before me, no one telling me I’m not good enough or wrong or stupid, or childish or, or, or. There is only me, keeping alive inside myself the agony, the suffering and the victimhood of a past that is no longer mine.

I have written today’s lesson on a post it note – a few post it notes – to remind me of what I desire for myself.

There is no room for self-bullying anymore, no room for lies about not being good enough. This is a time for deep and soul-freeing forgiveness of myself, a return to Loving Presence from where I can be loving and kind to myself and because of that, be loving and kind to others.

This is my vow,

“Today I will not hurt myself again.” 

With love and kindness
Bettina

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