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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Watch Your Heart Open

We are filled with breath, with life force. We walk amidst the beauty of this planet. We experience an incredible range of emotion. We are the beneficiaries of grace. And never so much as a thank you is required. Just for today, see if you can appreciate everything you encounter. Watch your heart open.

                        Pamela Hope DeLuca-Price

One of the primary tasks toddlers face in growing up is learning the names for everything.  This practice is convenient and practical.  We all have the same point of reference.  We "agree" on what a dog looks like...and a flower...and a tree.  

But a ramification that occurs from this exercise is that we begin to reduce everything we see and encounter...no matter how unique or breathtaking...to the "box" in which it fits most easily.  For example, dandelions, roses, and gardenias are all "flowers" even though they each evoke a different sensation and emotion, look and smell different and are found in different terrain.  Oaks and sycamores and pine trees share the same surname even though the "cousins" lead such different lives.

My point is that by taking on our cultural mores, by learning how everything functions and fits, we enter mainstream thinking which we need to survive but we lose the wonder and awe of experiencing a beauty which seems to have no name.  It is just something our hearts and senses embrace with fascination and awe.  Can you imagine, for example, describing the beauty of the gardenia...how it speaks to your heart....if you didn't know what a flower was?

And there is even more stunning beauty beyond what the eye can see
.  There are things we can sense on varying levels of intensity and through subtle nuance such as our breath, our life force, our myriad emotions.  In the midst of our busy days, we often pass by this beautiful GRACE that awaits our awareness. 

Just for today, see if you can appreciate everything you encounter. Watch your heart open!

                                                                                                        Marie Helena

image from nettiegzdigitalgemsandhandmades.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Virtual Gifts

 If you combine the amazing accessibility of the Internet with the fun and splendor of creativity...what do you get? 

                 Virtual Gifts!

At least that is one of the many combinations possible when combining these two wonders and it's one I have recently fallen in love with.

Do you know someone who is going through a challenging experience and you would like to send them an "e smile"?  Want to squeeze a thoughtful hello into your busy day?  Perhaps you would like to entertain and delight yourself by indulging your vibrant imagination.

Consider sending a VIRTUAL GIFT to the someone you are thinking of.

I started this practice a week or two ago and am having great fun with it. 

Recently, I emailed a message about tulips to a friend whose husband was undergoing surgery.

(By the way, did you know that tulips, unlike all other flowers, do not stop growing even when they are cut and placed in a vase of water?  Their life force is so strong that they continue to lengthen and expand and, as they do, they form a lovely arc over the vase.)

Here is the message I sent her:

"I am sending you a virtual gift...a vase of freshly cut tulips.  These beautiful flowers represent the life force embodied by your husband that will help him heal and the love and support he is receiving from you and your family and friends."

A few days later I sent a follow-up offering....
Virtual Gift.....

"Relaxing nap on a sultan's billowy cushions, royal musicians to gently serenade you while you fall asleep, gentle breezes blowing soft white curtains, the scent of jasmine somewhere nearby"

She loved it...and so did her husband. 

Soooo much fun to create these "gifts"!

Later, I designed a virtual presentation for a recovering musician...

"Soothing sounds of a copacetic saxophone, accented by a lovely blond torch singer wearing a ruby red gown, leaning against a street post and dreamily singing her heart out..."

Guess what happened next? The musician sent me this message:  

                                              "The song - Stormy Weather"     

Now the subject of my get-well wish was playing along with me (and, hopefully, was distracted by these few moments of connection).

What a lovely way to let someone know you are holding them close to your heart!

In the world of "virtual" gift-giving, we are only limited by the parameters of our imagination.  There really is no end to the munificence of our caring hearts engaged in this delightful entertainment.  Why not expand your creative horizons by moonlighting from your usual preoccupations and indulging in this free gift shop of our amazing techno-universe!

                                                                                                Marie Helena

image of tulips from www.kathleenpequignot.com
Kathleen Pequignot Fne Art:  January 2005

image of sultan's palace from www.wikipaintings.
Sketch for the opera "Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and Maiden Fevronia" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Ivan Bilibin, 1929

image of saxophone from colourbox.com

Saturday, May 24, 2014

STUCK in Your Own Traffic Jam!


It's 5:03 p.m. and you have just left work with high hopes of scooting into traffic before the usual dinnertime craziness strikes...but, unfortunately, it's forming ahead of you. 

 One block up and there you are...stuck in a  traffic jam.
We ALL know what this is like.  

The frustration of being frozen in place when every cell in our body wants to move.  But we are constrained by the circumstances of the moment.  We are wedged in on every side.  Our annoyance and irritation are growing  because we are stuck.  There is no motion or movement and it's making everything worse.  : (

You have just read my metaphor describing what happens in our body when a pain occurs and we choose to contract.

Here are some examples of what "contract"ion looks like:

You think,
                      "Oh no, what's happening to me now?"
                     "What's wrong?"
                      "I hate when this happens.  I thought I was over this."
                      "What next?"
                       "I have to fix this...where is the aspirin?"
                      " This is __________'s fault for talking to me like that."

and your body records the frustration with increased stress and tension.

All of these thoughts tend to make us contract...from anxiety or distress.  They either express our exasperation, our attempt to "fix" something or our tendency to find someone else to take the blame...in effect, causing the "traffic jam" in our body to Intensify and the pain to worsen.

And by choosing the route of contraction we miss the traffic "signal" of our body (the pain) which is there to help us navigate our way through the impasse.  We fail to recognize...to hear the body's message and honor it...and that message is..."Something is STUCK and we need to help it move."


We accomplish this by sitting quietly and observing the pain...experiencing  how it is expressing itself.  

We watch it softly...non- judgmentally...for however long it is present and we patiently track its movement,  paying close attention to what it feels like.   

Over time, with our acceptance and patience, in my experience the pain WILL move and change its expression several times and...eventually... it will release its hold on the body.

This journey of release is the path energy takes when it is allowed to move.
  When it is kept hostage by contraction (just like when we are caught in the unyielding traffic jam),  it grows more intense and more upsetting and, yes, more painful.

The ancient Hopi tribe was very aware of the powerful effect of moving energy and used this principle in its healing rituals.  Unfortunately, in contemporary life, we often choose outside sources to help us when the body itself is its OWN healing agent if we but listen to its message and get out of our own way.

By allowing our energy to disengage from the point of pain and move of its own volition we can honor the exquisite wisdom of our body when it is stuck in its own traffic jam and begin the beautiful journey of release.

                                                                                          Marie Helena

image from science roll.com.   
originally published September 30, 213

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Helping Ourselves (and Others) Heal

There is a very deep and special place inside each of us waiting and wanting to be filled...it's the nature of our earth school journey.  

As we travel our path we all experiment in an attempt to find what will actually meet that longing in our hearts.

Power, money, possessions, fame, control, admiration all seem like possibilities...and we embark on our adventures trying these things on to see how they feel.  

All of the above have one important thing in common...they all exist outside of ourselves...which means, among other things, that we can't predict how they will roll out in our lives.  We can make gargantuan efforts to attain them...or, they may seem to drop into our laps...but they can meteorically rise and fall.  Even more importantly, they only provide us with what appears to be external "rewards"...and, in the long run, do not satisfy our soul.

And so we are left with this longing to give substance and meaning to our lives.

In the last few days I have felt inspired to direct my energy towards the concept of healing...practicing healing efforts for myself and for everyone I encounter. 

We usually have a good idea of what we want to strengthen in our lives and, if we pay attention and observe the actions of others, we will probably have an idea of how we can encourage, acknowledge and affirm them on their journeys.

Here's what I found when I turned my attention to this point of focus. 

ANY effort I made to help heal myself or another gave me a profound satisfaction and sense of joy and I knew it was filling the space I felt of longing for the something more. 

In addition, it helped me to accept what I found coming my way (What Is) because as I embraced whatever was coming in, I had a sense of what to do with it....use it to help me become more than I have been...use it to help others to become more than they have been.

That forward motion, that reaching onward, that beautiful evolution, it seems to me, is what fills the space I have been describing which, then, makes me believe that we are here to become grander, more expansive, more loving and caring of ourselves and of everyone around us.


This amazing evolutionary motion is what brings us PEACE and, in reaching for this beautiful aspiration, we gift ourselves and everyone we encounter with the grace of kindness...supporting and empowering all of us to fill the space that is waiting in our hearts.

We truly are in this together.

                                                                                                 Marie Helena

image from thecreativemearchive.com 
originally printed July 7, 2013 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What Can I Do to Help?

Whenever things happen that feel uncomfortable or irritating it is so very human to go to the place of "Ouch!  That hurts.  Now why did he or she do that?"

Although the intention of that statement is to express our consternation, it has embedded within it some beautiful words of wisdom.  

When someone first does or says something that upsets us, our subconscious kicks in, the ninety-six per cent of the power which drives our behavior - the place where the shenpa occurs (the space of time when our trigger is activated). 

When we recognize that an uncomfortable feeling place has been launched in us,  we have the opportunity to make a choice.  

Will we react...or respond?  A reaction focuses on what has happened to us.  A response takes a look at the SOUL VIEW of that moment.

What if we truly wondered WHY someone did or said something...and we wondered it in an impersonal, objective way as if we were an observer of the encounter and not a " victim"?

There is ALWAYS a back story to what someone says or does that we find upsetting.   There is ALWAYS some history...an experience, some unhealed hurt that is driving their actions and behavior.

That BACK STORY is a critical part of the encounter.

And, if we could hear and understand that back story,  we would be able to make sense of the person's behavior and not only would we release our feeling of upset or irritation, we could offer support and understanding to the other party involved in the interaction.

For example,

We could ask someone if something is concerning or troubling them when they speak words of anger or irritation...


We could look at someone's face or body reactions for evidence of an internal struggle or unexpressed emotion and hold space for them as they navigate those murky waters...


We could try to understand the intent behind someone's actions or words that felt confusing or troubling to us by asking them to help us understand their feelings.

When we open our hearts to TRULY LISTEN to what someone is telling us, we can find a way to ease their pain AND avoid future conflicts of this kind.

When caring and compassion direct our behavior, the words, "What Can I Do to Help?" (voiced out loud or in our hearts)  are not far behind.


                                                                                      Marie Helena                                                                                            

image from table9philosophy.wordpress.com.  

originally printed August 31, 2012

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Acknowledging a Mother's Love

As we celebrate the beautiful occasion of Mother's Day, it is natural to wonder how we can let that someone special know how deeply she has touched our life.

Perhaps we can do this by noticing the way we have been affected through the very experience of being in her PRESENCE as we witness:
... her kindness and caring and acts of service

...her commitment to help us keep growing and discover our gifts

...her unending faith in our goodness

...her delight
in learning of the adventures of our lives.  And perhaps, most importantly, by witnessing the way she moves through the challenges of her life.

Giving voice or words to these thoughts would be a beautiful acknowledgment of a life well lived...

but even just the REFLECTION alone places them into the universal consciousness

...honoring the LOVE we have received from our mothers and adding to the treasure of GRACE illuminating the world.

                                                                             Marie Helena

originally printed May 3, 2011

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Chorus Line



Be mindful of your self-talk; 
                     it's a conversation with the universe.

                                                        Brandon West

As a bevy of blue baby robins gathers outside the window for their early morning fraternizing and the sun streaks boldly in behind our bedroom curtains, the alarm persistently injects itself into our dream.  With a heavy sigh we clumsily sit up and place one sleepy foot in a slipper.  We begin to search plodingly for the other which has mysteriously slipped away.  "Here we go again," we mutter.  "Why does my day always start this way?"

Hmmmm.  Trouble already...and the day has just begun,  "Now what else will go wrong'" we might wonder.

But let's just imagine that same scene of our morning reveille played out with a few significant changes.

As a bevy of blue baby robins gathers outside the window for their early morning fraternizing
and the sun streaks boldly in behind our bedroom curtains, the soft sounds of a ballad from our clock radio lead us gently from our dream-state into reality.  We take several relaxing breaths, s t r e t c h and slowly sit up, placing one sleepy foot into a slipper.  We smile contentedly at its warmth and search curiously for its mischievous mate.  "Now where are you hiding today?", we humorously chide.  "You guys are always up for a game of hide and seek."

Interestingly, how we choose to greet the day plays a very important role in what  happens next for us.  Turns out those first moments of the morning send an important message which helps determine what we will find unfolding.

Every thought we think, every feeling we feel, every word we utter is being delivered unfailingly and with distinct ceremony to the watchful and waiting Universe and whether that message is a "grumpy" alert or a ""fun and friendly"vibe, we are calling in our order for more of what we are already portraying so eloquently.

We always get more of what we passionately express, attracting vibes which match that resonance.

The key point here is our passion, those feelings of deep caring and emotion.  Are we choosing to invest our energy, to place our attention on what feels like it is not working well as compared to affirming the beauty and joy surrounding us?

And do we "see" what we expect to see because we have experienced it so many times before because of our mind-set?  And, if that is so, what kind of expectations do we hold?  Bruce Lipton, developmental biologist, tells us what we believe is what we will experience. 

So the question is what, exactly, is our Biology of Belief
Are we choosing to emphasize, believe in, affirm what feels like dissonance, ignoring symmetry and beauty?  Has this choice become the author of everything we experience?


What if we "expected" delight...mischief...fun...beauty?  Would we find it?
Perhaps the robins outside our window are waiting for us to join The Chorus Line.

                                                                                                            Marie Helena

image from www.ethknits.co.uk