Is the word MERCY in your vocabulary? Does being merciful enter your mind on a conscious basis?

 

What does the word: MERCY mean to you?

Consider writing what words and images come to mind as you ask yourself this question. Then ask the equally important question of: How can I be merciful towards myself as a conscious outpouring of what I AM?

The truth is that you were born inherently perfect. We all have what researchers deem as an innate capacity for being merciful. In fact it is something we do as a natural outpouring of who we are. If you watch very young children, before they are taught rules around politeness and ‘socially appropriate’ kindness, these young children only know how to give compassion, mercy, and love.

A growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both animals and human beings have what Dacher Keltner at the University of California, Berkeley, coins a “compassionate instinct.” In other words, compassion is a natural and automatic response that has ensured our survival. Michael Tomasello and other scientists at the Max Planck Institute, in Germany, have found that infants and chimpanzees spontaneously engage in helpful behaviour and will even overcome obstacles to do so. They apparently do so from intrinsic motivation without expectation of reward. A recent study they ran indicated that infants’ pupil diameters (a measure of attention) decrease both when they help and when they see someone else helping, suggesting that they are not simply helping because helping feels rewarding. It appears to be the alleviation of suffering that brings reward — whether or not they engage in the helping behaviour themselves.

Recent research by David Rand at Harvard University shows that adults’ and children’s first impulse is to help others.

Research by Dale Miller at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business suggests this is also the case of adults, however, worrying that others will think they are acting out of self-interest can stop them from this impulse to help.

 

We intrinsically want to help – we have the hard wiring to instinctively be merciful. As adults, showing mercy becomes a decision of our thinking brain and our deliberate choice – our free will – and at times, for various reasons, we may opt out of what is such an important human ability.

How we are and how we act with others is symbolic of how we are able to be kind and loving – and merciful to ourselves. It is much easier to show others kindness, compassion, love, and mercy when we are able to readily do this for ourselves.

Mercy may be defined as: co-existing in love, forgiveness, compassion, loving-kindness, understanding, humanity, generosity, and faith.

Wikipedia defines mercy as: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm”.

It’s within our power to punish or harm someone at any time in theory, and yet perhaps its in those very instances where someone has wronged us or hurt us that we need to be MOST mindful of practising an outpouring of mercy.

 

I hear my client tell me about all of the comments that she receives anytime she goes home to visit her Greek orthodox family living in Montreal. How their words impact her decisions and her everyday behaviours and yet she is a 34-yr old nurse working and thriving in Toronto. (She is told by friends that she looks better with a tan after travelling to the Caribbean on holiday so she admits to me that she is now going to a tanning salon regularly to keep up her glowing appearance; she is told by her grandmother that she is heavier than last visit and so she has now returned full force to the gym; her mother has always told her that to be beautiful she must wear makeup and high heels and so on the day of our session she isn’t feeling well and apologizes for her appearance – because she is not wearing makeup, nor heels. Her entire image of herself is tied up in what others say; she has not found herself and her true beauty that exists – enhanced perhaps by the makeup – but originates as who she already is. My client is one of many who look to others to establish their feelings of self-acceptance and positive affect in the words and remarks of others – and in doing so, can never be truly merciful towards herself. She continues to take the harsh comments and criticism of her friends and family – and does the same internally in her self talk – because it is all that she knows to do – and it has been the way in which she has defined herself. How many of us do this – or parts of this?

It doesn’t just happen with my client’s family, it happens with all of us regardless of our heritage, religious background and family of origin. What are the messages of your earlier life experiences that have set you up to judge yourself harshly, to be unmerciful, to be self-loathing, to deny, to avoid, to disavow – who you truly are?

Perhaps this is one reason why as teens we often rebel against our family – society – social mores – and instead look to our peer group for support and as a source of validation (as they too are experiencing the same kind of need to explore, to rediscover, and to take a stand in what they believe in). We don’t always acknowledge that we are all hardwired to be …who we truly are – what I call our AUTHENTIC self. If we have been stifled, denied, or told we must fit a certain stereotypical ideal, we learn from a young age to dishonour our TRUE self.

As a teenager and young adult, if we are fortunate enough to seek out answers and to decide what we believe in, what we feel passionate about, and what we want to do with our life, – and if we allow ourselves to dream and to follow what truly excites us, then we are making choices based on knowing our self best. And yet, we still hold many of the cultural and societal beliefs that have been so deeply ingrained, that say we should follow a certain practical plan for living our life, we should earn a certain income, we should wear a certain designer label, and that all of this is important – critical in fact – to being successful and happy. Some or all of this may very well be important – but as long as it is what we have chosen based on what is truly important to who we are – certainly none of this is wrong – as long as it is true to what is right for who we are – rather than what we tell ourselves we should do.

So its not surprising that much of the work that I do each day has its roots in helping people find themselves – and helping them uncover the truth about who they are so that they can live the rest of their life from a place of authenticity and self-honesty. When you can be honest and real with yourself and others, you free yourself to live with mercy. Maybe as you look over your definition for what mercy is, you most likely included such words as: honesty, deliberate kindness in action, compassion for self and others, loving and of course…truth.

When you can live with mercy directed towards yourself, it will be even easier to live it outwardly. This is because if you are overly critical, harsh, judgemental, uncertain, and insecure, this cannot help but come through as you look outwards at others. One might say that this is one of the reasons why we have constant conflict and war in the world. If we are not able to be merciful, to be kind and loving to ourselves and others, then we cultivate all of what is opposite: unkindness, impatience, judgement, intolerance, envy and hate.

Being merciful is how we embody true kindness and understanding. It is how we show others our compassionate nature.

The following visualization is best experienced if you can close your eyes for a few moments and take 3-5 deep breaths. Take even more breaths if you feel that it will help you quiet your mind as you go within to answer the following questions.

(And, if you would like a little more practice and a deeper experience in calming your mind and feeling a total body relaxation, please follow this link: to one of my guided meditations – perfect for taking you a little deeper within yourself.)

When you are ready to proceed let the following be a guide for what you then envision in your mind, allowing whatever answers that surface be what you reveal as your truth:

Think of a time either in the recent past or maybe a memory from childhood in which someone showed you mercy. Maybe there could have been a reason for you to have been punished because of what you did – whether it was something done innocently or intentionally – when the other person could have been intolerant, angry or blaming, but instead you were given compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love – in effect – you were shown mercy.

Next, recall a time when you acted with compassion and mercy when perhaps it would have been socially acceptable to chastise, correct, scold, or punish. And yet you showed only mercy – kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. Recall what your experience was as you did this? How did YOU feel as you saw the face of the person, perhaps the child, the friend, the spouse, the work colleague – that you were being merciful to? Imagine for a moment how your actions of mercy felt for them?

When we are shown mercy – when we receive compassion – or as we demonstrate compassion and mercy, we experience something much more – much like a gift. What did you receive in the exchange with another? What did you receive when you were shown mercy or in being merciful?

In so many ways we have the ability to be who we truly are. When we elicit compassion and grace towards another living being we are being merciful. When we are compassionate and merciful, something remarkable happens inside of us. Something bearing truth is awakened from within.

 

The path of mercy is our path back to finding ourselves

 

Finding ourselves begins with the mercy that we can show ourselves. From here we see how easily it is to expand upon this – to allow others the gentle freedom to make mistakes, to be human, to not always do what we would do.

All world religions share in the importance of what it means to “be love”. They also share similar definitions of “mercy”, “forgiveness”, “compassion”, and “truth”. I share this because it reminds us that across all religions and spiritual beliefs, we are reminded and taught of the importance of being merciful, loving and kind.

Regardless of our religious upbringing most of us have heard the words: “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 / Luke 6:31).

Being merciful is your namesake. It is what we can offer to ourselves and one another that speaks to the truth of what are are. We are all seeking the same goodness; the same acceptance; the same attachment to one another in kindness. Showing mercy is our way to be loving – to accept others as they are – to allow for those moments when others may not always be at their best.

How you can be more deliberate in your practice of being merciful? Where in your daily life can this become a greater practice and privilege for you? The reason we consider in advance how and where we will do something is to ensure that it finds a place in our lives and a means by which we can be this – daily.

Think about the typical situations that you encounter – with your partner and spouse, your children, your parents and extended family, with siblings and friends, and with those you work with? How can you be merciful and any of the other words and descriptors of mercy as how you defined it? BOTH WITH YOURSELF AND OTHERS?

If you are already actively mindful of showing mercy in your daily life, ask yourself, ‘What are some different ways that I can expand upon this?” Can you practice deliberate acts of mercy even when you are annoyed, offended, hurt, and when you believe strongly that you are right and someone else is wrong?

Where in your daily life can you practice mercy unto yourself – and to others? When you do so, what would it look like? What would your inner dialogue or self talk be that would help you to remember to be merciful?

Challenge yourself to find new ways of showing mercy in these tougher moments (both to others and to yourself)and when it may seem easier to do what you’ve always done. Write these and place them where you can see your list each day. This becomes a plan that will help you to make this happen.

Close your eyes once more with the intention to give yourself a few more minutes of calm, relaxed breathing. When you open your eyes again, you are ready (with a clear mind) to answer a few more questions as you journey within to experience what it means to be merciful. (At any time, you can close your eyes even momentarily, as it will likely help you call up some of your past memories and experiences).

 

Imagine who you were as a child. Maybe it’s a memory where you can go back in time and yet you can feel right now as though you are this incredible child again. Maybe its a photo or image of your younger self that you see in your mind. However you come to imagine and envision yourself as a most incredible child, begin to paint the picture in detail of who you were based on the following questions I’m going to ask. (Please remember: If you don’t have all of the answers to these questions, that’s perfectly okay, your subconscious mind may give you more answers as you continue to think about this).

As you ask yourself: “Who was I?” take a brief pause as the answers spontaneously reveal themselves. Pause after each of the following questions to give your subconscious mind the time to reveal the answers:

What did I look like?”

See yourself in action. Ask: “What activities or games did I enjoy most?” “What used to make me laugh?” “What did I enjoy doing?” “What was I naturally good at?” “What would I think or daydream about?”

What were some of my proudest moments?” “What did others compliment me for?” “What did I dream about?” “When was I happiest?”

Next, describe your personality? “What core features, characteristics, and mannerisms made you special, unique, original?” Allow the memories to flow into your conscious mind without judging whatever you remember.

Sometimes our mind will show us the difficult or negative moments of our past. Please know that this is perfectly natural. Allow all of the memories that reveal themselves be part of your experience. The difficult moments of our life teach us much about who we are. While we may not be aware of this at the time, whatever you learned from your earliest life experiences has contributed to who you are today in ways that have made you resilient and courageous even if you may not think of yourself as so. For now, if you begin to recall any difficult or painful memories, remember that they don’t make you any less incredible.

Remember all of who you were as an incredible child.

Write all of your answers to: ‘Who was I as a child?’ including the details of how you felt as you saw yourself being your authentic – carefree, happy, curious, and courageous – self.

Now here’s a BIG SECRET that I hope you will remember. When you think about any of the behaviours or mannerisms that you have that cause you discomfort or that you do not like about yourself – these are not (nor were they ever) who you innately are.

In most cases, you learned by observing others or perhaps you were taught certain ways of being. If you think about it, any of the behaviours that you might label as ‘bad’ or wrong – stem from learnings that occurred beginning in childhood. As you reflect on all of the innate goodness of who you were as a child in your answers to the earlier visualization, see if you can remember who you were before or without any of the teachings in which you were taught to dislike, to judge, to be hurtful or mean, to be boastful and show no mercy, and anything else that causes you or others – to suffer. Who you truly are is not these things. Perhaps take one more review of your “Who was I as a child?” list right now to see if you have written anything that you were taught to believe, to act, to fear, that truly wasn’t yours to begin with. Write anything else now about who your original self really is. Allow your inner child to shine through. Let yourself feel connected once again to what you once were.

When we remember who we are, we can begin to reclaim our authentic self. Your inner child is your inner navigation point. It is your truth. Before each of us were told what “not to do”, or how we “should” behave or feel because it is somehow more acceptable, we were intuitively and perfectly being – our true nature.

Finding your way back to who you are begins with acknowledging all that you once were.

Remember all of the goodness of your inner child. Close your eyes one final time as you hold the image of your incredible self – the younger version of who you were – – hold the image of the incredible child that you see in your mind. See yourself clearly, feeling proud, confident, free, strong, and happy. Sit for a few more moments with this impression – allowing it to sink in … deeper. Feel, see and imagine all of the ways that you are incredible – both as your younger self and then….. as you are now.

Consider the moments when you allowed your adult self to be: funny, playful, thoughtful, generous, kind, honest, loyal, curious, excited, happy. When you are being any of these …are you not being your true self?

When we allow our inner child to shine through – we can be childlike in ways that are both beautiful and authentic. We can speak the words of our truth rather than hold ourselves back for fear of “saying the wrong thing” or “being too emotional”. When we allow our inner child’s vulnerabilities to show through we reveal to others our true nature – and this makes us ‘approachable’, ‘honest’ and ‘real’.

And finally, I have one more question about your life as a child?

What would have been your mantra as a child? A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat to yourself either quietly or aloud to elicit the feeling state of what you are telling yourself.

Maybe your mantra as a child was: “I can do this!” or “I’m special” or “I’m smart” Think of a mantra based on the words that your inner child would have spoken.

Allow yourself to repeat this mantra silently to yourself. Envision your inner child as you do so. Feel what you feel throughout your body. Now open your eyes again. Take a final few moments to write the words of your mantra. (Hint: Make it an “I AM” statement).

Notice how you are feeling right now.

The journey back to finding ourselves begins in our childhood with the innocent and completely honest depiction of our true self. Your homework from here is to remember all of the childlike qualities that best represent the truth of who you are. As you reconnect with your adult self again, remember these qualities and allow them to come through in everyday life. Let yourself be who you once were in more ways than you have ever been. As you reveal and relax into more of your true self, you will come to feel far more connected with your inner child again and most importantly – to feel connected with the truth of who you are.

 

 

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DISCOVERING “my true” LIFE’S PURPOSE

Finding Answers and Meaning in the Life I am Meant to Live

What is your purpose?

What do you offer others when you give of yourself?
When are you happiest?
What will you look back on at the end of your life and be… most proud of?
What will you refer to when you say the words, “This is what I enjoyed most”… “This is what I accomplished” and “This is what gave my life meaning and purpose?”

When I first wrote, Live Your Life’s Purpose it was because I was inspired (i.e. moved, drawn, compelled) by the belief that we are all here for a reason, and a far more compelling and important reason than to simply punch a clock at work, to “kill time” doing what we loathe, or being unable to see our greater abilities and what we have to offer each other.

As I was writing ‘Live Your Life’s Purpose’, I began to notice that more and more clients were talking about the same things as I was writing.  They came from all different educational backgrounds and career settings, yet sharing this same feeling of unhappiness and being unfulfilled.  Some clients knew what they really wanted to be doing instead, but had so many roadblocks (both real and imagined) that kept them from pursuing their deepest passions.  Other clients may not have been exactly sure of what they wanted to do instead, yet they just knew that it wasn’t their current role or job (which was making them more and more miserable with each passing day).

As I discuss in the book, the idea of a ‘mid-life crisis’ isn’t so much a need to buy that expensive red sports car, or find a new partner.  These could be part of the choices we make when we decide based on knowing what we really want, but it’s much more than just about shaking up our life.  A ‘mid-life crisis’ is really an awakening…. a realization that we’ve been doing what we’ve always done; and what we’ve been taught and told repeatedly what we should do.

At some point we may ‘wake up’ into our lives with such an overwhelming need for change because we feel suffocated; lost, alone, and yet without being certain about what we really  need to do (or how to do it).

I’ve come back to the teachings in this book, largely because I’m now again witnessing many clients and friends who are experiencing such a deep transition from what we might call their ‘old’ life into something ‘new’.  The questions I ask above (along with several others) help draw out for us ways in which we can live our life with more purpose and meaning.  You don’t necessarily need to throw out everything that you are currently doing, but rather to examine each aspect with self-honesty to see if how you are currently living life is still ‘right’ for you.  We do need to ‘check-in’ in this way, often throughout our lifetime.  It becomes an important means of acknowledging whether or not we are on the right path.  Asking ourselves important questions like the ones I’ve mentioned above, reminds us who we are – knowing that who we are today is different than who we were even six short months ago.

I am hoping that those of you who find yourselves at a point along your journey where there is clearly a fork in the road, that …before you choose the next steps of your path, that you might stand still for a few moments (or maybe even sit down) to contemplate what you really want to do next.

A Workshop based on the material in my book is scheduled for Saturday November 8th in Toronto from 12:30pm until 5:30pm.  If you are contemplating significant life changes or the true meaning of your life, please join me.  Discover your ‘right’ answers as you prepare for the rest of your journey.


Here’s more of the details of about this very important Workshop:

In the midst of everything you feel you have to do and what demands are placed on you – finding greater meaning and purpose for your life is the secret to feeling unconditional joy and fulfillment. When you feel a deep sense of purpose for why you are here and what you have to offer the world, life has renewed meaning. You become less affected by the day-to-day events that you might otherwise label as “stressful” or “negative” and far less influenced by the rampant messages in the media that tell you how you should be living life (i.e. what success is, and what latest new ‘thing’ you should own or buy). Knowing your purpose, you become more mindful and deliberate about your choices based on being authentic to who you are. Living a life of meaning and purpose also means that your discovery of what is really important to you, is now easily reflected in how you honour and care for your self.

If you have never known what your sacred life’s purpose is, then perhaps it’s time. Give yourself the knowledge of all that you are destined to become. Discover a deeper meaning and purpose for how you are currently living and for what it means to have personal value for who you already are.

*Workshop tools and techniques include: Socratic questioning, Visualization, Cognitive therapy strategies, and Guided Meditation. Bring a notebook and come prepared to be inspired, to dream boldly, and to begin living your purpose! *Workshop fees include a follow-up one-on-one phone session with Dorothy to help grow your confidence in living your life on purpose!

For a look at the pdf poster please click here: Discovering My True Life’s Purpose – Sat Nov 8 2014

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Real WISDOM is to know our true nature…

If ego is the absence of true knowledge of who we really are, then real wisdom is to realize this and seek to know our true nature.

Examining a philosophy developed in the Himalayas a thousand years ago helps give us a useful three-step approach to cultivating the principle of egolessness. (According to the Buddhists, “egolessness” doesn’t actually mean “without ego”. (Although for our purposes, its a good way to begin thinking about this term). It’s original definition means “that there was never any ego at all to begin with”. – The best example of egolessness in action that I can think of is when we are children: innocent, authentic, and before any need to prove ourselves.

In the midst of completing coursework for my Phd, I’m captivated with Sogyal Rinpoche’s book, “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. In it, he refers to ‘The Three Wisdom Tools’ as described by Tibetan Buddhist Masters as a way of discovering the freedom of the wisdom of egolessness.

Before describing the first of these Three Wisdom Tools, it’s helpful to think about how they came to be. They were believed to help free us from our ego – what we in Western society might refer to as the incessant noise of our mind, our attachment to ‘things’, our need to prove our self through our identify with a ‘role’, a ‘title’, or through our actions. Ego is developed as we slowly move away from being our authentic self (in childhood), to conforming and abiding by what society deems we should ‘do’ or ‘be’. Our ego-mind plays a key role in our daily existence as we are distracted by what we tell ourselves is true rather than simply observing what “is”.

Each of the Three Wisdom Tools helps us to discover and experience the deeper knowing of our true nature.They move us out of our ego-mind and into our present moment awareness.

Not only are these worth remembering….but adopting each of these tools as a part of your daily practice will forever change the way you approach and live life. Embracing the three tools will significantly improve all of your relationships. It will most certainly improve the relationship you have with your ‘self’. Using these wisdom tools will awaken you – to see and know what “is” rather than what you have been telling yourself is true.

If you are already on a spiritual path, then you may recognize the difference between your ego-mind and the voice of your inner wisdom (what Rinpoche defines as “your hidden spiritual being” – what I typically refer to as your soul consciousness). As you listen more and more to your inner voice, you begin to notice how it acts as a wise guide in helping you. As your inner voice becomes stronger and clearer, you begin to distinguish between its truth and the deceptions (and empty promises) of your ego. For example, your ego-mind might sound like any or all of the following: “If I could just make more money, my life would be so much better”, “Why can’t I lose this extra weight? What’s wrong with me?”, “Maybe there is no one out there for me and I’ll just end up being single the rest of my life?”, “I should be in a better financial position right now”, “I’m not calling her/him anymore. If they can’t be bothered to make an effort why should I?” etc, etc, etc.

 

As I help clients resolve whatever issue or problem that they initially came to therapy for help with, I always offer them the opportunity to pursue their spiritual path. This includes teachings for how to become more aware of the reality of their inner wisdom as their own best source of guidance. Embracing one’s spiritual self is how we deepen our ‘self’ knowledge and awaken to our authentic nature. This instantly builds confidence and self-reliance. (It isn’t that you won’t ever need or rely on another person to give you suggestions or support, but ultimately you feel skilled to make wise choices for your life based on knowing yourself best). Indeed, there are limitless spiritual teachings that we experience over a lifetime. The initial exploration and discovery that I show clients, includes a process of guided meditation together with techniques for how to live with awareness that you are more than your physical being.

Regardless of where you are along your spiritual path (and even if you are far removed from it right now), you can use any and all of these Three Wisdom Tools to develop a deeper awareness of your authentic self (your true nature). In doing so, you enrich the many experiences of your life. Putting these tools into action will also help you to become aware of what ‘illusions’ (perceptions) are causing your suffering and unhappiness. Contemplating what you have been “taught” to believe as a child, and what you now know to be true is one way to begin a spiritual path.

 

The first of the Three Wisdom tools is THE PROCESS OF LISTENING AND HEARING.

The process of listening and hearing begins by listening both to our inner voice and as we are guided instinctively to formal spiritual teachings (this may be in the form of a book that grabs our attention, a new spiritual practice – such as learning meditation, returning to informal methods of prayer or seeking out ‘teachers’ in various forms). Listening to this new and at times, preexisting information, guides us back to remembering who we truly are (our hidden wisdom nature).

As we listen to these varied spiritual teachings and as we surround ourselves with resources and people who uplift and inspire us, certain passages and insights resonate deeply within us. We feel a deep sense of authenticity in what we are remembering. We begin to awaken, discovering that we have the potential to be more than we currently are – not because we aren’t good enough already – but rather because what we desire for ourselves has become more and we are ready to be the person we have been contemplating, imagining, – even dreaming of. (As an aside, many times we would like to be different but we give up before even getting started. We talk ourselves out of the possibility and this is why it never happens. It will only ‘never happen’ if we give up.)

Listening is a far more difficult process than most of us imagine. To truly listen as intended by the ancient Tibetan masters is “to let go of ourselves completely; to let go of all the information, all the concepts and ideas, and all of the prejudices that our minds are filled with”.

 

Like the Zen master Suzuki-roshi has said, “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” “If we really listen with an open (beginner’s) mind, we might really begin to hear. If we listen with a silent mind, free of all preconceived ideas that we already know the answer, then it becomes possible for the truth of the teachings to pierce us, and for the meaning of life to become startlingly clear”.

“The more and more you listen, the more and more you hear; the more and more you hear, the deeper and deeper your understanding becomes.” -Zen master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Stay tuned for my next WISDOM blog and the second and third Wisdom tools that will complete your practice.

Namaste everyone!

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The Secret for Getting “Unstuck” in your Life…. 3 STEPS for What You NEED TO DO

I nor anyone else cannot make you do what you need to do. If you find yourself flailing, feeling ‘lost’, unproductive, uninspired, anxiety-ridden, waist deep in self-sabotaging behaviours, the way back – the easiest route you could possibly take involves believing in yourself; and in making the ordinary – extraordinary. Ultimately, you must find a way to own up to what you are doing.

It’s called an Awakening.

And it can’t happen unless you are prepared to look at yourself with stark honesty and truthfulness. Stop telling yourself that you are justified for being this way and move beyond what you have always done.

I find that clients shift their reality when they are made to look at themselves truthfully. In those moments when I speak candidly and honestly with them, if often triggers several uncomfortable but equally relevant emotions: shock (that someone has found them out), sadness, self-pity, shame and at times …as their psyche seeks to quickly defend their ongoing behaviours (which they’ve built their current life around), they may also make bold excuses for why they can’t do what they know (even if they won’t admit it) is the ‘right’ thing. This by the way, is how you hold yourself hostage.

How long have you been adrift? Caught up in the stories that you tell yourself and why you can’t do something? For example: ”It’s too hard”, “I’m in too much pain”, “I don’t know how”, “I don’t have the time”, “I don’t have the motivation”, “I feel lost”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’m afraid of doing the wrong thing” etc, etc. Whatever statements you cling to, whatever set of “untruths” that you have adopted as your beliefs, take a closer look at them now. Even when what you are telling yourself SEEMS true….it never truly is. Everything that you do or don’t do is based on what you tell yourself and what you have chosen to believe.

 

With every excuse you make (and there will always be more than a hundred reasons why you remain stuck and feeling unfulfilled), KNOW that the time comes when you can no longer function this way. It may take months, even years of constant repetition of your ‘untrue’ stories swirling around in your mind, or any number of self-sabotaging behaviours and unhealthy habits, all reinforcing whatever “stories” you tell yourself.

OR… You can decide one day that you will chose to think (and act) differently. Just remember, it only has to be one different thought that leads to a new behaviour…. for you to see what you are really capable of.

An awakening is a moment of truth. It is examining your inner dialogue and the actions that follow and then ‘waking up’ to see that you have not been living honestly. You have convinced yourself of whatever limitations you hold because for whatever reason, this (you have convinced yourself) is EASIER than doing the necessary WORK to fix or change your existing behaviours. It doesn’t need to be me in a session of therapy to help you by pointing out what you already know – but keep avoiding. For most people, it means getting to a place where it becomes intolerable to function at all before something ‘gives’. (And this by the way is very sad to watch). As creatures of habit, we thrive in the comfort of knowing our misery – even though we feel awful and hopeless.

The idea is to be motivated by the search for pleasure rather than staying in the pain of what we know so well. If you’re still feeling a strong need to defend your position of inaction right now, consider any of the iconic people (Mahatma Gandhi is one) who have been subjected to immense physical and emotional pain and who have chosen to thrive inside their mind – directing their thoughts to what they hope and look towards, rather than the suffering and misery that surrounded them.

Awakenings occur when you are simply honest with yourself. (Not rocket science – just truthfulness). When you are willing to state the facts rather than hide behind what environment you have constructed that allows you the facade of being safe – protected from the world or your previous failings at seeking change, . Ask anyone who has overcome a personal hardship and they will tell you that it was perseverance that made it possible for them to overcome; perseverance and belief – and never looking back. Awakening is a reality check – but only as you remain humbled to its truth – the truth of what “is” and not what you keep telling yourself.

 

Inspirational quote by Gautama Buddha (563 BC-483 BC) on earthy

 

3 STEPS to getting yourself unstuck and moving in the direction of what will heal and support you in life:

1. Admit honestly (write it down so it’s real and starring you back in the face) what you NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY in order to be the change you say you want. (Step Two will test you to see just how badly you want “it” and how willing you are to stop living in the untruths you have surrounded yourself with.

 

2. With discipline, and yes, even though it may be emotionally or physically painful at times to move past what you’ve been convinced of for so long – FOLLOW THE ACTION STEPS you have listed in STEP ONE and SEEK HELP from either a professional who has proven they know the journey because they have lived it (so ask them if you’re not sure!).  You need to feel confident that they will give you additional tools and strategies while keeping you accountable to the goals you have set making it possible for you to see the change happen.

 

3. Never Stop.

As much as change feels overwhelming for many people, if you attempt to avoid it you will return to being fearful and deny the unavoidable path of constant growth. Regardless of your age, life continues to be filled with new experiences, teachings, and wonderful new opportunities if you remain open and look for these.

 

Now get started!

 

namaste everyone!

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Your AUTHENTIC Self

Perhaps one of the most undervalued privileges of the human experience is self-knowledge.  Beyond describing what it is that we do for a living, our preference of music genre, or our favourite ice-cream flavour, how well do we really know our self?  Much of our adolescence is spent contemplating who we would like to be (or self-loathing who we think we are) in comparison to peer groups and current media influences.   As we enter adulthood and strive to be autonomous, self-knowledge is somehow less important than the perception others have of us.  We decide on a vocation, a life partner and all of the other tangible items (e.g. job status, accumulation of material goods, even our decision to have children) that fulfill society’s requirement for living a meaningful existence – all without placing value on knowing our self.

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Knowing your self comes from journeying within.  At the core of self-knowledge is honesty and authenticity.  You need to be willing to see yourself accurately, and yet with acceptance rather than judgment.  Sometimes this is best achieved when a loved one can act as a mirror, reflecting back to you what they observe.  More often, it is your commitment and perseverance to self-awareness that elicits insight, knowledge, and understanding.  Out of the honest observation of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, it becomes intolerable to ignore the truth.  Self-knowledge promotes positive action.

 

Out of self-knowledge you are forced to examine your vulnerabilities and imperfections.  Through self-awareness and self-responsibility, you see the various events of your life as challenges to grow – and to become more.  Through this process of growth, you evolve.  Self-actualization (the motive to realize one’s full potential) in experienced as the result of the relentless pursuit of conscious awareness and personal growth.*

 

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While clients may initially seek therapy for help and guidance with a specific problem or situation, the inescapable benefit of the therapeutic process is the opportunity for self-honesty and clarity.  The net result is an understanding and authenticity that comes from being truthful.  You may not always like what you see, but your commitment to self-honesty is what facilities positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

Some suggestions for attaining greater self-knowledge and truth:

 

Create a ‘Who Am I’ List

Use a journal to record an exhaustive list of qualities that best describe who you are.  Without screening or judging your thoughts, note all of your traits, core competencies, positive attributes as well as what aspects of yourself you would like to change.  The process of creating such a comprehensive list requires you to identify yourself-concept (how you see yourself).  The qualities that you wish to change provide you with a place for personal growth.

 

Practice Conscious Awareness

Self-knowledge and understanding cannot exist without conscious awareness.  Practice present moment awareness for bringing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours – particularly at times when you are not your ‘best’ self.  With conscious awareness, you continue to learn about yourself.  Out of self-knowledge you choose how you want to be, rather than simply doing what you have always done.  Being self-aware reflects empowerment and provides you with the insightful information that you alone can be responsible for.

 

‘Live in your Truth’

With self-honesty, it is possible to develop a healthy (empowered) sense of self.  Out of honesty comes the ability to grow self-esteem.  Healthy self-esteem requires that you value yourself and your happiness.  You feel confident in your ability to express yourself with honesty and authenticity.  To live in your truth means that you honour what is best and right for you and you live according to that.

 

If we consider that self-discovery and self-knowledge exists on a continuum, then we accept that the possibility for learning about who we are is endless.  Self-awareness transcends age, educational level, and intelligence.  In fact, the more self-aware and reflective we are, the more incredible we become as a human being.

 

Namaste everyone!

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*Expressing one’s creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to society are some other examples of self-actualization.

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90 DAYS….

The idea of 90 days comes from a recent conversation with a client.  His partner’s father went for medical tests after he exhibited some problems with his cognitive functioning.  The tests revealed a diagnosis of cancer and a life expectancy of  90 days.

 

How would you live each day – each hour – each minute ….if you knew you had 90 days left to live?

 

I quietly cringe when I hear people use the phrase: “I had time to kill…..”

Likely they don’t deliberate on what meaning their words have.  I never want to “kill away” any time of precious life; one can never get that time back in moments when we wish we had more; and we can certainly never go back to re-live something.

I wonder how different we might approach our life if we lived with the hopeful anticipation of living forever, yet with the inner awareness and deliberate action of knowing that it can also be as little as 90 days….or less.

Would all of the needless thoughts still take up so much space in our mind?  Would we say: “I’m sorry” sooner?  Would we begin that project now?  Would we drop everything and find a beach to walk on?

The point isn’t to try and fit in all that you can if you only had 90 days to live.  It’s to consider how you would best spend the time you have, living life.  Practice living the greatest life you can for the next 90 days.  See where your dreams and deepest desires take you.  Consider that quiet introspection and reflection is just as important (perhaps more so), as taking action.

 

If you had 90 days to live, could you do so with inner peace, calm, and purpose?

Why not make your personal 90 day list.  What are the most important things to you? How could you experience them NOW?  Challenge yourself with making the next 90 days incredible beginning TODAY… What will you do?

Namaste everyone!

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Experiencing the After Life

 

What does it mean to have eternal life?  How are we immortal?

If you choose to honour life in its infinite perfection, and for the many experiences – all of which give us incredible opportunity for knowledge, growth, healing, joy (and fun), etc. – then the experience of death is yet another experience of life.

Experiencing death through the expression of life means that we see death as the ending point of ‘this’ life experience, but certainly not the end.  The majority of organized religions believe in the immortality of the soul; and of another life that follows when the embodied soul leaves our physical being.

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The soul as a densely inspired grouping of matter (energy) is what returns to Source.  In it’s divine state, our soul looks to reclaim all of its earthly ‘physical’ experiences, to acknowledge its sojourn as pureness and infinite love.  The hopeful ideal is that the soul’s earthly time in physical form has served to heal and release past karma from previous lives spent as a physical being and to become acknowledged and integrated by the “self”.  Remember the soul is both within us and a part of the universal soul (universal consciousness) and is infinite love.  Our free will determines whether we allow the soul to shine outwardly from within us – its presence to be felt and integrated wholly as the energy of love – or not.  (Free will whether experienced as conscious or unconscious choices exist in humans and in animals; and is always challenged by impulse, instinct, habit – and specifically in humans as ego, and the busy ‘thought’ distractions of the mind).

 

Does the soul consciousness know when it is “time” to leave the physical body?  Can the soul experience a sense of ‘completion’ of its “work” or “objectives” in the physical world and is this related to why some people claim they feel peacefully “ready” for death in the final stages of life?

The physical body does what it is designed to do; live (thrive in fact) until it can no longer (either by our free will choice to die and with that, a refusal to care for our physical body until its uncertain demise, or in some cases, our continued mistreatment of our physical ‘home’, and the unnecessary ‘suffering’ and eventually failure of our physical condition).

If you believe in the theory that we are all energy… that “our” soul energy never ‘dies’ with our physical body but returns to ‘Source’, then all of us are never really dying.  While our physical body does have an ultimate ending point; the soul is eternal.  Remember that the soul (as energy) will at some later time, be embodied in another physical being. Those of us who have the ability to know we are about to ‘leave’ this world have the luxury of making some final plans, of perhaps ‘making peace’ with others, or simply preparing to go.

The soul doesn’t experience physical death – only the moments just prior to death. At ‘death’ the soul consciousness if it is prepared to leave, simply moves from the physical (body) form back into the world of energy.

In the case of animal souls, it has been said that their ‘shorter’ life span has very much to do with the fact that they have completed what experiences or ‘purpose’ they set out in search of.  An animal (and most certainly a domesticated pet) is infinitely loving – something that we as humans spend a great deal of our life failing to master.

 

Do our animal pets contemplate the ending of their life?  Do they have thoughts of “wishing” they were “healthy” or “wishing to die?”  Perhaps we will never have a provable answer to these questions, although it is likely that an animal is more often than not – simply living each moment in the present – and in the best way that they can.

Animals in general… and certainly the animals I have chosen to raise, love, and care for… have always gifted me with lessons of hope, bravery, strength, and unconditional love.  They remind me of the beauty in the simplest of actions, and the perfection in being present in each moment, living intentionally, and of course loving purely and intensely.

 

If we remain observant, animals remind us of our innate nature as: peaceful, curious, vulnerable, playful and loving.  They show us the pure joy in being their innate perfection: watching, running, jumping, chasing what moves, and thriving on being alive.  Sadly it is our ‘human nature’ that creates the complexities, confusion, and angst we live with, robbing us of our pure infinite potential.  Our four legged loved ones also teach us about the simple actions of life and death and of simply moving to another place as ‘energy’.  While most of us fear death, or at the least feel unsettled about it; animals teach us how to live in the physical world until at some point they no longer do so.  They don’t contemplate the ‘ending’ of their life in the same way we do; nor do they (likely) deliberate on it.

 

Animals are instinctive by nature.  They accept whatever is and do their ‘best’ in that moment.  They do not understand labels such as ‘terminal illness’ so they continue living in whatever way possible (and as best as they can) until they can no longer do so.  In many terminal conditions such as cancer, the body slowly deteriorates and the animal’s physical abilities decline until they are just a physical ‘shell’.  The soul remains until the moment of physical death but the animal (and how it was known to be) certainly appears to be ‘gone’.

 

 

It remains to be seen whether all of the ways we attempt to hold off death are really humane after all.

If you knew that you were going to a better place; (if you were shown pictures, or able to watch a movie depicting what your experience would be), would it make it easier to pass, leaving behind this life?  If you were able to remain present and to live each moment, then you likely would not spend much time contemplating what was coming.  Your attention would remain on how you were living right now.

 

Perhaps the most significant thing death teaches us is how to live…how to free ourselves of the unneeded worry and suffering and instead – thrive, enjoy, honour the life we have been given.  Remember all of our experiences are experiences the soul yearns for.

 

Namaste!

www.dorothyratusny.com

 

An added afterthought and update:

This is what we want to hold onto; we want to enjoy the privilege of having the physical moments of: holding, hugging, touching, kissing, and feeling the kinesthetic luxury of being spirit embodied.  We absolutely want to hold onto this physical life and all of its gracious pleasures for as long as we can – even if the quality of our life has changed or deteriorated.

We can also influence a soul’s decision to leave by not wanting the physical being to go.  The idea of ‘giving permission’ for the animal or human to die is a way of energetically detaching – of gently releasing the soul from the physical body – particularly in cases where the soul energy is ‘hanging on’ for the sake of others.

 

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REPLACING the compulsion for FOOD….

 

From a young age, we learn to associate food with: comfort, a reward (or “treat”), a way of ‘sharing quality time’ with others (e.g. breaking bread together), and pure pleasure.  Practically, food is for nourishment and survival.  Yet, we live in a nation that offers an overabundance and variety of food – of which we often overindulge in.  We actually require small amounts of food for optimal health – particularly at adulthood and beyond.  As our biochemistry (and our values and beliefs) change during our lifetime, these ought to reflect how we view and value our food choices.

 

When you use food as a mechanism to feel better, to calm yourself, out of the conditioned thought that you ‘must eat’ because it is a culturally accepted “meal time,” in boredom, or because others are doing so – you aren’t connected with the true purpose of eating.  Even the choices that you make such as: foods high in refined sugar, carbohydrate-dense foods or processed (fast) foods, for example – become as much as a conditioned response to your state of mind at a particulr moment and far less about what you really need.

It’s no wonder that a high proportion of the population struggles with their relationship with food; we “use” food in place of many of the things we actually need.

 

When clients choose to seek therapy as a way of getting help with their food relationship (and subsequently addressing issues of weight loss, poor self-image, or an eating ‘disorder’), the relationship they have with food is generally the tip of the iceberg.  Most of the ‘real’ work of therapy is in examining a person’s conditioned attitudes and beliefs around food and its purpose in their life.  We use food, as many other ‘substances’ to effect a feeling or mood state – and when this becomes an automatic response – it masks for us the underlying issue that needs attention.

 

Most of us could stand to examine the prevaling role of food in our life.  For example, being raised to eat meat at every meal may not be the best thing for someone’s physiology nor their evolved belief system.  Rather than do what you’ve always done, consider becoming far more aware of your body’s reaction to different food groups, practices of eating, and what foods feel healthy – fueling your body in ways that allow you to feel energized, mentally alert, and ‘light’.

 

In becoming aware, you may also consider sitting still the next time you feel the habitual urge to reach for ‘something’ to eat.  Let your inner voice communicate what you really need instead.  You may be surprised to learn how often it isn’t food that is needed. 

Trust that sitting still will keep you from acting on what you have always done: using food* as the ‘quick fix’ or ‘temporary solution’  that leaves you still unsatisfied and searching for more (more sweets, more quantity, more food).

*Overindulging in food is synonomous with any other behaviour that may be a way of temporarily helping you mask an uncomfortable feeling: smoking cigarettes, drug use, alcohol, shopping, gambling, compulsive or indiscriminate sex.

 

Instead let the stillness find you. 

In it you will discover what you really need.  It will almost never be food.  Challenge yourself to recognize each time you allow your mind to contemplate food and stop yourself from acting habitually or compulsively on your thought. 

Then simply ASK,  “What do I really need in this moment?”

 

Of all of our body’s automatic and necessary processess, breathing is the most significant.  As you observe your mind go to thoughts of food and what type of food you ‘want’ or ‘need’ in any particular moment, place your full attention on your breath.  Choose your breath as a way to experience the subtle yet powerful effects of nourishing your ‘SELF’ and observe the path inward instead.  When you follow your natural breathing cycle, you bring awareness to how you feel in that moment.  You are also able to draw your attention within – for even a minute or two.  If you stay in this awareness, you begin to READ the internal cues of your body.  You may notice that food is used for so many reasons; few of which are true pangs of hunger.

 

What you may discover from the silence and the careful moments of inner reflection is that what you needed last night was not sugary treats, but sleep, rest, and reprieve from your work schedule.  In the gentle stillness of non-movement, and non-doing you will always have an answer.  Food no longer becomes the ‘go to’ point to soothe, comfort, or entertain you.  In self-awareness, you firmly resolve to find new answers for what you actually need in this moment.  Sometimes the answer is surprisingly simple: ‘just be’, ‘enjoy this moment and what you are doing right now’.  It  may be of a reflective nature: ‘take in a deep breath and contemplate your perfect life’, or ‘enjoy the sunset in front of you’.  Sometimes your inner awareness inspires you to change your state of being (your energy) by: ‘using your breath to calm you, and simply moving you ‘past the urge for food’ in situations that are stressful.

 

Consider the moments you have felt a flurry of excitement as you were preparing food, contemplating the choice of restaurant, scaning the baked goods section of a supermarket, or the buffet for what choices you may place onto your plate.  What you are really doing is using food to add excitement or adventure to your life.  You may not want food to have this consistent role, nor the indulgence of eating copious amounts as a way to ‘enjoy’ life.  Even here, your inner voice is gently pointing out what you really need instead.  Recognize that it is your excitement and at times adrenalin rush that becomes too overpowering for the quiet voice within.  If you pay close attention, in the brief moment before you act – you will always have an inner urging to ‘not’ indulge in food – especially when it involves unhealthy choices.  Yet, once you ambush the inner voice (or bulldoze through it), you are on automatic pilot.  You may be aware during your food ‘adventure’ of the control food has over you, even though it is too late.  And by the time the sugar rush or copious amounts of food has had an affect on your brain, it’s game over; because you are now experiencing the addictive physiological effects of food on your brain chemistry; which are similiar albeit more intense than any drug you could injest.

 

Interestingly, when we rely on food for happiness, joyful experiences, and comfort – eating replaces other forms of stimulation, peaceful activity, or pleasurable life experience.  Food becomes an ‘escape’, allowing us to ‘check out’ from life – to ‘disassociate’ because we are now eating out of a conditioned pattern, heavily programmed and stimulated by a deeper need that has not yet been met.  When eating takes on a quality of automation, or when we eat while distracted with conversation, television, or work – we actually zone out from our experience of eating making the act of eating even less important,  necessary, and fulfilling.  Similarly, if our waking moments are disproportionately caught up in what we are going to eat, from where will be purchase or prepare it, when we will have it; you can see how much of life is ‘spent’, ‘used up’ in the act of ‘experiencing’ food versus sitting in the uncomfortable feelings that are there to tell us something is wrong.  It is our job to discover what we really need instead.

 

When you choose to be present and to return to the natural flow – the exchange – of your breath – you discover what lies beyond the impulse for food (and any cravings you may have).  Instead you discover the stillness of being.  When you continue to ask the question: “What do I really need in this moment?” the inner voice that you hear may truly surprise you.  Your inner self will always require far simpler and more meaningful quests; which begs the question, “How can I give this need to myself?”

 

When you use food in place of: love, sleep, connection with others, mental stimulation, excitement, comfort, or any other real purpose, you continue to avoid what you truly need.  When you are temporarily satiated or perhaps ‘stuffed’ from the endeavours of eating food, notice if you are moved ever so subtly – further still from your true needs (e.g. the desire for happiness, peace, or another real need).  Instead, the act of unconscious eating disconnects us further – and buries the emotions that were recently near the surface.

 

The need for love, excitement, adventure, peace (or perhaps something else) will remain buried deep within you unless you choose to look at what is there.  Reaching habitually for food throughout the day will simply continue to ‘feed’ your compulsions rather than help you ‘find’ TRUTH.

Honour your ability to use food as nourishment and sustenance and be mindful of what its purpose truly is. 

For one day, challenge yourself to dispell the myths and teachings you have conditioned yourself to follow and instead ask, “What do I really need in this moment?”

LOOK BEYOND FOOD and see what is there.  You will uncover far more answers and TRUTH by not reaching for food as the solution to something.  Find the resolve to sit still first, asking ‘What am I using food for?’ and then honouring the answer your inner voice speaks.  Do this – and trust the answers you hear – allowing the wisdom of something more to be uncovered instead.  Holding the resolve to follow a different path, you will notice life’s miracles gently take form – providing what you DO NEED to show up in your life.

Sit with the answer your inner self has spoken and then notice how that inner need might ever so perfectly become fulfilled right before your eyes.  Consider the simple perfection of your cat or dog jumping into your lap in a way that allows you to feel ‘love’ (=an inner need), or perhaps you think of a friend or family member that you haven’t been in contact with in some time as the perfect solution to feeling ‘connnected’ (=another inner need).  These simple yet perfect examples are what we tend to overlook or disregard altogether because of our grander impulse to feed ourselves.

Namaste everyone!

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HOLDING L i f e

How do we HOLD life?

What does it mean to uphold a value or a core belief?  How do you hold true to your word or honour the path of your chosen life purpose when there is always SO MUCH influencing our every action?

Photographer Katie Brock www.holdinglifestillphotography.com

 

‘HOLDING Life’ is a means of sharing in it’s abundance; of finding the adventure that exists outside your back door (or on a favourite nature path…..or anywhere else you might stop to look).  Holding life is about honouring the sacred journey that becomes among your greatest potential for the rich new experiences that shape and HOLD you as you live graciously.

 

 

Honour your choices to live life – share in the perfect experiences that reflect the special reasons for your existence.  Honour the path that you have been on but make conscious, reflective choices in how you will follow your “individual path” …and to where from here.

HOLD life as something precious, perfect… and infinite in its abundance and experiences.  Choose to inhale deeply and take in the beautiful of this moment.

Namaste everyone!!

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FALL RETREAT: – Honouring Self on the path of Enlightenment –

 

 

DIVYA PRAJNA RETREATS with Dorothy Ratusny presents…

 

Honouring SELF on the Path of Enlightenment: A FALL RETREAT

“Discover the WISDOM of your heart and the way to live enlightened now.”

 

At SUGAR RIDGE RETREAT CENTRE in Midland, Ontario

Friday, Oct 26th, 7:30pm* until Sunday, Oct28th, 2:30pm 

*First Didactic Session begins Friday at 7:30pm.  However, you are encouraged to arrive at anytime after 4:30pm and become acquainted with your beautiful surroundings.  Dinner (included) will be served at 6:00pm.

 

To honour your SELF, you must be willing to live in your TRUTH; for this is how you come to realize your greatness.  The sacred gift of living enlightened comes from learning what it means to honour who you currently are, and to live aware of your SELF as a spiritual being. To experience your spiritual self you must be willing to become quiet – to be guided gently within – to the place of infinite calm and wisdom that has always been a part of you. ” – Dorothy Ratusny, Retreat Facilitator

RETREAT HIGHLIGHTS

Didactic and Experiential Sessions: Explore the true meaning of spirituality and allow it to become more a part of your daily life.  *  Discover the sacred principles that support what it means to truly honour your SELF and live “in your truth”. *  Connect with the wisdom of your Highest Self (your soul consciousness).  *  Learn what it means to live enlightened now.  *  Nourish yourself with healing Nature Walks,  * a gentle YOGA class, *  and individual time for reflection and journaling.

Guided Meditations & Techniques: Gratitude, Manifesting Abundance and Self-Acceptance.  * Learn the Three ‘Power Points of Meditation’ – Centering, Grounding, & Expansion as effective tools for building your practice.  * Discover how to open your intuitive channels to hear the wisdom of your Highest Self. * Experience the YOGA postures specific to each Chakra – to open and restore the body’s energy systems and facilitating all healing. 

 

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday October 26th

*Arrive anytime after 4:30 to relax and settle into your cozy cabin, have some tea and snacks, and take advantage of some relaxing time outdoors or inside by the fire

6pm – Dinner

7:30pm – Guidelines for Retreat and Guided Meditation Practice on the notion of Gratitude and Manifesting

9pm – Reflective Questions for Self-introspection and Journal practice

9:30pm – free time and rest

 

Saturday October 27th

6:30-7:30am – Guided Meditation

7:30am-9am – Explanation of the Chakras and Experiential Session: Yoga Postures (Asanas) for Opening and Healing your Energy Systems (Chakras)

9am – Breakfast & free time

10am – Didactic Session: on Spirituality, Enlightenment, and Inner Wisdom.

[11:15 approx – Tea and snack break]

11:30-1pm – Didactic & Experiential Session: Knowing Truth & Accessing the Wisdom of your Highest Self + Meditation for opening to your Inner Wisdom

1pm – Lunch

1:45pm-3:30pm – Open ‘free’ time in solitude for you to simply ‘be’, & journal your reflections (snacks available)

3:30pm-4:30pm – Group Sharing Activity

4:30pm-6pm – Knowing ‘Your Sacred Journey’ – Didactic presentation with Guided Meditation

6pm – Dinner & free time

8pm-9:15pm – Experiential Technique – Reflective Writing with Guided Questions: Communicating with your Highest Self

9:15pm – Closing Meditation & Mantra

 

Sunday October 28th

6:30am-7:30am – Guided Meditation

7:30am – Reflective Journalling

8am-9am – YOGA

9am – Breakfast & free time

10am-11:30am – Nature Walk

11:30am-12:30pm – Final Didactic Session: Exploring the Wisdom of your Highest Self as you live Enlightened

12:30pm – Lunch

1:15pm-2:30pm – Closing Group Sharing and Final Guided Meditation

2:30pm – depart, and/or stay on a little longer and enjoy some quiet time in the beauty of Sugar Ridge

 

 

“Everything that occurs on this retreat has meaning.  Everything you experience is a communication about the path you are already on.  Deepen your intimate knowledge of SELF and the wisdom of your inner knowing” 

– Dorothy Ratusny, Retreat Facilitator

 

 

ALL-INCLUSIVE$535.00/pp(includes hst).

Each Cabin sleeps four comfortably with cozy duvets and private views of your beautiful natural surroundings.  Guests may choose to reserve private accommodation enjoying their own Cabin (one-time additional rate of $50).  Semi-private rates are $30 per person (one-time additional rate) which are ideal for couples or friends/family attending together.

The retreat fees include two nights of accommodations, all (six) vegetarian meals prepared on-site with fresh local ingredients (organic where possible), daily snacks and beverages, personalized retreat facilitation and individualized retreat handbook. 

You may bring a mat or pillow for meditation practice, or use one of the plenty of mats and cushions that are supplied by Sugar Ridge. Comfortable clothing, and dressing in layers is recommended, as well as weather-appropriate gear for walks in nature.  A personal notebook / journal for writing is needed.

Sugar Ridge is named after the abundant maple trees on its 150 acres of majestic forest.  It offers lush meadows surrounded by 3000 acres of provincial land, and 20 km of trails accessible from the property – making it a perfect oasis for finding space to be alone in quiet, to rejuvenate the spirit and to nourish the body.

www.sugarridge.ca Near Midland Ontario, Sugar Ridge is a newly (2008) built unique facility that boasts organic and locally grown vegetarian cuisine prepared daily on-site.  There is a wood fireplace and cozy seated area for lounging,  We will be using the 1200sq ft circular meditation studio designed with heated floor for many of our group sessions and meditation experiences.  For your individual work, you will easily find many intimate ‘spaces’ in and around the property to feel supported and nourished in as you experience the peaceful quiet of your inner being.  I chose Sugar Ridge for the site of this fall retreat because it has been designed and built with love, attention to detail and offers a perfect balance of rustic simplicity and quiet beauty to comfort and soothe you.  You will find and hear your inner voice (your spirit) here and feel the gentle calling of your Divine path.

Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre:  5720 Forgets Road Wyebridge, ON L0K 2E0 866-609-1793

 

For more information or to register please contact Dorothy: 647.889.8722 or dorothy@dorothyratusny.com

 

Dorothy Ratusny M.A., (C). OACCPP. (PhD Candidate) is a Certified Psychotherapist in Toronto, Canada who specializes in Cognitive Therapy.  She is the Author of ‘The Purpose of Love: A guidebook for defining and cultivating your most significant relationship’ and ‘Live Your Life’s Purpose: A guidebook for creating and living a purposeful life’. Dorothy is currently completing a PhD in Metaphysics (the study of science, world theology, and spirituality).  In addition to extensive formal training and study as a teacher of meditation, she offers a practical, skill-based approach, within a holistic model of healing, personal growth, and self-actualization. For more information, visit ww.dorothyratusny.com.

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EARTH HOUR 2012: What’s Your Challenge?

Earth Hour is a worldwide event that is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)* and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change.

 

BUT IT’S MUCH MORE THAN THAT!

Let Earth Hour be a reminder of your commitment to:

conserve

recycle

REUSE

refrain from buying STUFF you really don’t need and will end up in landfill

plant trees and flowers

consider what you are pouring down the drain or spraying into the air

learn how things are made so you can make wise consumer choices

know what you are ingesting

go and see where your garbage goes…..

What will you do to take action; to contribute?

Earth hour is a global initiative.  Know that you can effect positive change in the planet -in your lifetime.

 

Earth Hour 2012 Official Video

 

What’s Your Challenge?? 

Consider your own challenge to keep the planet healthy; to live in respect and reverence of the planet; to help the earth nourish itself – and to make it a better place because of your choices and awareness.

Namaste!

 

 

*World Wildlife Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental conservation through science.  http://www.worldwildlife.org/sites/earthhour/index.html

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International WOMEN’S DAY 2012

It is no surprise International Women’s Day falls on my Father’s birthday.  He has raised me to be my own advocate, to stand proud of my abilities and accomplishments, to seek any goal that I may choose, and to see myself as capable and equal to all of humanity.

We might choose to be reminded of any or all of the injustices that continue to exist in the world today for women.  Or we may choose to notice that inequality exists first and foremost in our mind.  We may be taught to believe that we are not good enough, not worthy, unlovable…and yet these are not gender specific beliefs. 

All of humanity struggles with issues of self-worth, confidence, and a sense of personal power that comes from trusting in their abilities and knowing their self.

Inequality exists only as you believe it exists

If you see yourself as an equal to others, you will behave as such… you will see the opportunities and possibilities that exist for you even if you aren’t always sure how to reach them without seeking help.

International Women’s Day might be a reminder to nurture the talent and esteem of all young girls – and especially those who don’t have strong role models in one or both parents …so that these future women might learn to experience their world as a place where they can explore, live freely, make choices that are right for them (especially when these choices do not reflect the majority of previous generations in their particular culture or religion), and to express their free will as an inherent right.

Today we might acknowledge the path of women…but we also serve our planet by embracing the path of humanity; and for remembering all of the ways in which we are empowered to help all others to live free and with love.

Namaste!

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March 2012…. F O C U S E D Choice

The idea of deliberate f o c u s for this new month suggests not simply an ability to bring attention to something, rather a deliberate calling to have clarity – to be clear about what it is that you want – and to keep this focus clear and precise as you manifest it.

What gives us clarity?

Life and our choices become far less confusing when we decide based on examining what it is that we really want.  To remain authentic to the answer, you have to let your heart respond.

 

As a child, we base most of our decisions on an innate desire.  We like ponies or model airplanes and we’re not inhibited to say so.  We can ask for a trip to the stables and to learn about horses because that is our honest desire.  It comes not from analyzing the many options we may have, but simply feeling / knowing it in our heart.

It becomes tricky to make these simple decisions years later when we have already made so many life decisions based on an analytical process …and at times, driven by fears rather than our dreams.  Often the biggest life decisions are made not by listening to what our heart yearns for, but rather on a process of deliberation and “rational” thinking.  Sometimes our desires are not meant to be rational…that is, we can’t always explain why we are drawn to woodworking, being in nature, or experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.  Yet we simply know that doing what we love most is somehow our calling.

The idea of focused choice reminds us to choose our destiny.  Without a need to explain or justify your heartfelt decision, be willing to make choices during this month of March and always…based on what it is that you really want.

 

The next step is in manifesting…bringing an idea into the physical world (the world of form).

You bring something new into your life by seeing it first in your mind.  Our minds work best using mental pictures.  Our ability to ‘focus’ with clarity and intention on what we desire is a conscious way of manifesting.

To manifest is to use the ability of the mind to hold focus on the object of your desire; seeing it in the physical world – even when it is not yet ‘here’.

Often we doubt something because we cannot see it.  To manifest something is to remain intently focused on it with a heartfelt desire and a belief that it is possible.

 

FOCUS gives us direction in life.  With focus we can move toward a goal (and a purpose) and feel confident that our direction will provide us with the right outcome.  Just remember that your focus needs to be on what will inspire and excite you MOST.  Anything less than that will make it difficult for you to feel excited about manifesting.  Without focus we continue along on any path that is presented to us…   

 

Namaste!

 

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Divine Guidance: Reflections for February 2012

We are all divinely guided.

We all have the capacity for greatness: of being greatness as our true nature as beings of spirit and of love.

Whether or not you believe in a higher consciousness (something we typically refer to as god): receiving divine guidance simply means that you are able to exist outside of the racing, ‘anxiety-driven’ thoughts in your mind and simply experience life – “be in it with full presence”.

When you begin to slow the incessant thoughts that fill most of your waking moments, you start to notice the gaps….the small spaces of quiet in between.  As you bring attention to those gaps they expand…even a little, offering a quiet ‘nothingness’ … and the experience of pure being.

At first, you may experience a state of being by accident, a longer moment of quiet in Shavasana at the end of a yoga class, a moment or two of QUIET between your thoughts as you walk along a snow covered path in the forest, or a moment of pure joy where you realize you were simply existing in the present moment.  Each and all of these are what you might experience -heightening your awareness of the inner quiet that is possible.

Meditation is one example of a formal practice in ‘quieting the mind’.  The objective is to experience the present moment, usually by using a focal point such as your breath, in order to maintain your attention.  Once you develop a feel for what being present is truly about, you can intentionally bring your awareness into the moment at any time knowing that to do so simply requires you decision and perhaps a deliberate “letting go” of any and all thoughts that may be in the way.

 

Perhaps you then consider integrating a regular practice: of prayer, meditation, or guided contemplation whereby you quietly observe your self in silence – simply being – giving way to your inner knowing – the version of your highest self – that quietly, yet faithfully begins to surface from its place in your unconscious mind (which typically you don’t have access to in your waking busy moments).  This inner knowing gives you “right direction” for your life.  It exists from within you as a felt sense, an intuitive feeling, or sometimes as an inner voice.  Your intuitive or higher self – this divine nature that is both within you and in all living things becomes noticeable in your conscious mind only after you have turned down the volume of your conscious mind (and all of the internal self-dialogue noise) long enough to feel and hear from within.

This is the sacred dwelling place of your inner wisdom – your divine guidance.

If you continue exploring, your intuitive nature will direct you to a spiritual path.  This is because your divine guidance is the pure energy of the universal consciousness and not of form.  Pursuing a spiritual path, you become mindful of the higher values of love, truth, and your connection to this infinite universal intelligence. 

You and every other human being has the potential (the free will) to choose an existence that supersedes the everyday aspects of life that we have been conditioned to accept with limits.  The more you actively seek out your highest self as that part of you that is also part of the infinite universal consciousness, the greater confidence you have in your ability to be divinely guided; to know what is inherently best and right for your life, and to trust in your path using your god-given talents to contribute positively in the world.  On a separate and related level, your intuitive nature inspires you to pursue your life seeking the most compassionate gifts of spirit: love, kindness, joy, faith, trust, compassion, and truth.

 

The path of love and healing begins with you.  From the mysteries (divine blessings) that you cultivate in walking a path of divine goodness, your openness to learning self-improvement, higher integrity, and loving self-care, culminates in living a life you are deeply proud of.

Remaining ‘open’ to your spiritual journey, you examine what comes into your life with curiousity rather than condemnation.  You can observe moments of irrational outbursts or vulnerable fear and be grateful for an opportunity to learn from these rather than feel defeated by them.  You can ask in moments of quiet contemplation or prayer for the ‘right’ path, for strength to live in ‘right’ ways, for the courage to make ‘right’ choices and then follow and trust what you receive.  Sometimes you will experience your divine guidance directly and other times you will receive messages in the form of signs, symbols or words “randomly” spoken to you through others.  These are all moments of divine guidance being present in your life.

As humans with free will we all have the ability to choose.  Choose a path of goodness, of right moral order, or choose to hide; deceive yourself and others, deny and condemn.  Each of us is capable of any action; we always get to choose.  Consciously or unconsciously we choose everything.

And the wondrous part of all of this is that we have the ability to continue seeking more, evolving, and becoming a greater version of ourselves…. for as long as we choose to do so.

Be open to the idea of a universal intelligence that is both responsible for manifesting what we know as our physical world as well as the infinite consciousness that is a part of everything.

This universal God force or consciousness is what reminds us of our infinite potential to be the very best version we can possibly imagine for our self.  All of the fears, insecurities, wounds, and misperceptions that we experience in our life as physical beings can be overcome by stepping out of our ego-driven self and instead bringing conscious attention to our quality as infinite beings of spirit (energy).

Divine guidance while on this journey involves a contemplation of our nature as good and a freedom for living with joy and in prosperity.

 

This month, open yourself up to the divine guidance that already exists in your life.  Seek answers, knowledge, information, as well as the courage and strength to move toward what changes you seek: both in yourself but as a being of love.  See your own path as infinite and divine and in quiet moments of spirit, ask for help; ask to be divinely guided as part of what will help you realize your biggest ideals.

 

Namaste!

 

 

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December 2011: Divine Guidance

In November, my suggestion for an inward focus was BALANCE.

Consider how balance comes to play in your life at this moment.

What insights or discoveries do you make when you keep BALANCE in mind during your day?

Has your definition and appreciation of balance changed to include a gentler, more loving way of living life?

 

I am a first born.  The focus in my family of origin was on achievement, success, and doing your best.  Rewards were given as a direct outcome of performance.  My early tendencies were less about honoring balance and more about an ‘all or nothing’ way of looking at life; the ‘all’ approach being my predominant operating mode.

November’s focus of balance brought to light for me one very valuable learning regarding my need to ‘complete’ and ‘finish’ as a way of measuring performance and achievement…and a delightful reminder of the process; the journey; the experiences that occur in our life one moment at a time.

As much as we all need to feel the satisfaction of concluding projects and tasks; it’s also important to remember that our lives are a series of beginning and ending points all within a journey.  In fact, the only real ending of this lifetime occurs when we run out of clock time – at death.

 

Rewriting some of your own beliefs around balance may bring awareness to the fact that each moment of your journey is special and breathtaking.  Rather than simply focus on what achievements you accomplish, revel in the experience and purpose of each moment; the ending points of that experience simply signify that you are ready for the next moment of learning.

 

Each day we have the potential to affect others with positive energy; love, kindness, care, and compassion.  We can, in a single moment lose sight of all of the potential of our smaller moments in pursuit of something we define as ‘bigger’.  In fact, it’s the accumulation of each single moment …and of our thoughtful actions, and compelling emotions that we are moved to live life fully.  What defines us is how we live each moment.

We are blessed with a lifetime of small moments in which to shape, impact and formulate what becomes our life’s greatest work.

Consider taking a moment to reflect on the new meaning of  b a l a n c e  in your life.  Consider what balance could mean to how you live going forward.  Making each moment significant and meaningful in the whole context of your life is the balance of enjoying and living the ‘now’ even as you have plans for future moments.

 

Remember, you don’t get to “relive” past moments.  You can ‘redo’ past moments but you never get back a moment that has passed.  It’s important to consider each moment that is right in front of you as valuable and with potential for creating something special.  The balance lies in appreciating each moment without skipping ahead too far and missing out on what is right in front of you.

 

and so please continue to contemplate and celebrate B A L A N C E  in your life.

 

 

In this last month of 2011, I invite you to contemplate DIVINE GUIDANCE.

What does it mean to be divinely guided?

From where do you receive divine guidance?

Think of Divine guidance as the graceful path we are on.  Sometimes we don’t realize how we got here; our innate talents, learned skills, and knowledge always prepares us for what lies ahead; even when we don’t know what is next.

Divine guidance reminds us that there is always purpose for our life and a perfect path that we have the free will to choose.  When we move off this path; when we are not living our life with honesty, truth and love – we feel disjointed, lost, and as if something important is missing.  Disconnected from divine guidance, we lose touch with the gentle knowing  – the inner felt instinct that helps us make right choices.  Off of our ‘right’ path, things are more difficult, challenging, and frustrating.

During this month what can you do to allow for greater inward guidance? 

What can you begin to put in place right now that will guide you to your inner happiness? 

Divine guidance is the inner perfection that always offers us a ‘right’ path.  It is felt most clearly as a heart driven experience: that is, we feel it in our heart centre rather than something we think about or analyze.  Divine guidance calls us to do something, be something, make a certain change to who we are or how we think; it is a physical change contemplated in the mind but felt in the heart as a ‘right’ step forward.

Returning full circle back to the idea of balance… you can lose yourself in being willing to act on all of the things you believe to be important, forgetting about your need to be still; to contemplate where you want to be, who you want to become; where you are headed.  Divine guidance offers us much to contemplate in order to act with resolve and full appreciation of each moment.  Knowing yourself well comes from knowing what it means to have a ‘life serving’ direction.  Divine guidance is the gentle urging; the inner knowing that comes from our spirit – the divine quality of our nature that is the same as that of the universal consciousness; what we call the divine nature of god.

How do you receive divine guidance?

How do you know what it looks like?  Can you trust it to be right?

Divine guidance is our inner communication with the divine energy that is in all things).  It is your awareness – your inner awakening to this universal consciousness that reminds you that divine guidance has always been with you.  As part of your inherent nature, divine guidance is always accessible should you go within yourself to access it.

Often it is easiest to know it by becoming quiet; listening within, asking specific questions; hearing your inner self – your spirit – speak to you.  This is your unconscious (mind); the part of you that is one with the Divine.  This is your inherent wisdom; your truth…. guiding you….perfectly…to be your highest potential.

Divine guidance is also a faith; an inward reflection of your life that awakens you to believing in something more.  When you are divinely guided you allow your highest self a place in your everyday life.

Keep in mind, divine guidance can also help you look ahead to January and living with …..right FOCUS.

Namaste everyone!

PEACE and good will to all!

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