Full Strawberry Moon

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Tonight’s Full moon was named for the time of year when strawberries are ripening; ready for picking. It is an opportunity to reflect on what has evolved in our lives and honor the work that got us there.

A few years ago, I worked in the wine industry and part of my territory was in California’s Santa Maria Valley. I loved this time of year because I could drive through the vast strawberry fields. They seemed to go forever ala The Beatles “Strawberry Fields Forever” which I would play as I slowly drove through this part of the valley. The sweet scent of ripening berries would fill my car and last even after I passed them.

There was a stark contrast to the sweet smell as I saw laborers working hard to pick the berries, bent over at the waist. It made my lower back ache to think of the hours spent huddled over the strawberry bushes. Grateful for their hard work and for all the work and time it takes to harvest the food we eat.

Ripening is beautiful, but harvesting the fruit is laborious.

When a seed is planted, the water has to soften the seed casing in order for the plant to break through. Then the plant needs to push through the soil to find the light. After sprouting, growth takes place above and below the soil; leaves and roots take form. Then the bud breaks and blossoming begins. Eventually, the blossom creates the beginnings of the fruit. If the circumstances are just right, ripening can occur and the sweetness can be enjoyed.

A plant goes through months of work to produce a moment of sweetness.

There are definite times of struggle during a growth season. The same can be said for the sweet things in life. There are so many celebrations that we acknowledge: the birth of a child, graduations, a new home, a job promotion, retirement, weddings and so much more.

But there is also a lot of work that takes place before the celebrations are had. Pregnancy, studying, relationship ups and downs, saving money, the daily tasks of a job. All these tiny steps are necessary to get to the end result. Each tiny victory is a step in ripening. Each deserve a moment of gratitude.

Practicing gratitude can create even greater celebrations in life. Instead of waiting for the grand finale, make every day a celebration. Being present enough to notice the small things can cultivate more presence and gratitude when the fruit of your labor has matured.

During this full moon, take note of all your small victories. Offer gratitude for each of them. Then create an intention for what is ripening. What do you want to create? What are you working towards? Notice where your small victories have occurred and celebrate what you are becoming.

Ripening is only a moment in time; bring mindfulness to all the little moments leading up and celebrate.

Flow

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I recently traveled to Utah with my boyfriend for a quick weekend getaway. Days prior to the trip, I was laid off from a job that I used to help supplement income. Despite my efforts, it felt like a constant struggle and my soul was not at peace. I tried my best and remembered a lesson my dad taught me “Always do your best and keep your integrity intact.”

I created a deadline to leave in a month if the energy didn’t shift into alignment. Two days after I set that goal, I was called into an office and laid off. I was grateful for my renewed freedom, but disappointed with the way it ended. Although I did not see it coming, I offered gratitude for the manifestation blessing.

So, there I was in Utah about to embark on a hike. As we stepped onto the trail, we were welcomed by a rushing river tumbling through the valley. It was breathtaking. It had been a while since I had seen a river so swollen and rushing. The sound was meditative and never ending, staying with us until we made our way high enough to where the path became snow.

The snow was a surprise as we trudged our way through ankle deep snow trying to reach a lake that we were told was magnificent. Now, I am not a fan of being cold, let alone hiking through snow in summer clothes. But, I knew that I needed to keep going. I complained to my boyfriend who seemed unfazed by the new terrain. He encouraged me as I made my way up the icy hill.

After what seemed like forever, we made it to the lake. It was surrounded by snow and was frozen solid. I had a bit of disappointment because my expectation was a lake surrounded by a meadow filled with wildflowers. I sat down on a rock and meditated. I released my expectations. I released my fatigue. I released being cold. I sat there in the sun for 20 minutes with my eyes closed, just breathing in and out.

Off in the distance, I could hear a rock falling from up high. I was amazed at the silence of the scenery and the ability to hear a rock falling. The frozen scene created the stillness to be present. I felt at peace.

When I opened my eyes, I saw the lake through a different lens. It was absolutely beautiful. The mountains that surrounded us seemed to provide an expansive nature making me feel so small, yet very powerful. I made it all the way to 9000′ where the sun had not melted a lake yet. I breathed in gratitude for the newfound appreciation and smiled.

I raised my vibration at a higher elevation.

As we made our way back down, I felt renewed and accomplished. Halfway down, the river started rushing as the ground went from snow to mud to dirt once more. The river once again serenaded our hike and I realized that I needed to welcome flow back into my life.

I recognized for my life to flow freely, I had to let myself melt like the snow.

The rigid constraints that I had made to create security and certainty were blocking flow from occurring. I was in my own way. When I take things into my own hands with control, it never really works. I was pushed out of something that wasn’t allowing flow to continue into my life. I noticed what a tight grip I tried to maintain once again.

From experience, I know that the things I hold tight to are the ones that slip away. In this case, it was security and certainty.

The following week, I approached my business with a new-found focus and intention. I realized that when I let go and allow flow to happen, everything falls into place and it is — effortlessly and beautifully. The resistance and pressure I had created blocked the positive energy that was trying to flow into my life.

I was not expecting such a lesson from a river in the middle of the Utah wilderness. But I am so grateful for the raging river and frozen lake that taught me to change my perspective and release expectations in order to allow flow to occur.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.  – Lao Tzu

Reclaiming Time

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I have been struggling with my relationship with time: I feel like there is never enough. When I think back to the days right after I quit my job to travel, I remember the immense fear of “What do I do with my time now?!” As I became more comfortable with my freedom, I felt like I could soar and had no limits. I couldn’t believe that I had created a reality where I could to write, travel and soak up as much sun as possible.

That lasted 2 years. And then I started to get busy with building my business and had to coordinate a schedule again. It was fun and exciting to create something from scratch, but it took up a lot of time. I found myself on the edge of overwhelm.

The frustration that comes from feeling like there is not enough time rob the joy from the present moment.

I found myself no longer enjoying the moment I was in and looked at the time wondering if I had enough to get to the next thing on my long list completed. Then my sleep started to suffer. I would wake up at 3am my mind decided it was the perfect time to think about my schedule and dwell on the feeling of not having enough time.

The feeling of time scarcity created even more fatigue and stress.

I was missing was being in the present moment and embracing what was happening as it was happening. I was spending too much time projecting into the future that I robbed the present moment of my attention. So I decided to break up with my relationship with time in order to rebuild a healthier one.

As I found a healthier way to approach time, I found these tools to help immensely:

  1. Meditation every morning: This grounds me and brings me into the present moment before the day’s events even have a chance to overwhelm. From this new grounded state, I am able to approach the day with focus and intent.
  2. Put the phone down: Having access to the internet, emails, calendars and even time keeps me from enjoying the present moment. I decided to put the phone away while interacting with people in order to fully appreciate their presence and the time we were spending together. I found my interactions became richer and time seemed to feel abundant.
  3. Prioritize tasks: To-do lists are very important to me, but now I make sure that each week, I only write down the “must dos” instead of creating a long list of tasks that aren’t as pressing. When I complete the tasks I set out to do, I realize that I have plenty of time to tackle some of the less pressing priorities.
  4. Make time for myself: All the running around and working made me feel guilty to take moments to myself. But, when I make time for myself, guilt free, I feel more energetic and joyful and time seems to slow down for me when I am not as stressed.
  5. Workout: There is always time to get some physical activity in. Taking walks, bike rides, trips to the gym…can all be fit into a busy schedule. There are apps that have been created to help you get workouts in. Prioritize physical health and the gift will be higher metabolism and more energy to tackle a busy schedule.

The feeling of scarcity that comes from being constantly connected fades when I make time for stillness.

I learned that when I treat time with respect, it doesn’t run out. I feel more abundant with time when I practice mindfulness and step into the present moment.  From this place, I can breathe deeper and notice my surroundings.

Mindfulness at Work

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Its the beginning of the day and you open your calendar to see the tasks and appointments for the day. There is a sense of restriction within your throat as you think about the day unfolding. You think about all the possible distractions and interruptions that may occur, stress begins to well within your gut, your heart beat starts to race, the phone rings and it sets you off. You’ve only been at work for 10 minutes and you’re ready to go home.

This is common for many people, especially on Monday mornings. This was my story for years — I would stress myself out just anticipating stress. Then, I decided to change that part of me. I knew the trigger well. I allowed it to send me into a deep spiral. I was done spinning. Focus was what I craved. Results desired to be attained. The first step was to stop myself and just be where I was and not off in the “what ifs”.

“Do you know about living in the present?” is a question that I am frequently asked by clients. The answer is more than a simple “yes” or “no”. Living in the present takes practice because it requires mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in the moment. I started learning to be mindful after a particularly rough breakdown. I was suffering from intense anxiety which gave way to an occasional panic attack. I talked to doctors and therapists and didn’t find the relief I knew was possible until I learned to be still and present.

I was a bulldozer/whirlwind/lightning bolt who did not like to be still. When I found myself sitting in silence at first, I was uncomfortable and tried to control the outcome.

Slowly, I let go. Slowly, I learned to be present. Slowly, my reactions faded from thunderous panic into deep cleansing breaths.

Here are a few things to do the next time you are at work and feel that stewing/panic/rage/annoyance bubble up. Try these steps for a month. Notice the changes you experience. Many of these can be done right at your desk or even before you enter work. With the intention of practicing mindfulness, you will find a new way to cope when work sends you reeling:

  • Breathe: Take 3-5 cleansing breaths in and out your nose. We can forget to breathe during stressful situations which can constrict breathing, thus creating a secondary stress.
  • Reframe your thought: When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, recognize your thought and reframe it into something positive. Create a mantra or intention for the rest of the day.
  • Write it out: Taking a moment to write out the stress can give your brain the time to process the situation and thus take it off your mind.
  • Practice gratitude: Take a moment and offer gratitude for something.

By actively taking the steps to create a change in negative thought patterns a change is occurring inside the brain. Mindfulness practices can change the way we react to negative situations. As the practice becomes stronger, the reactions become weaker.

For more information on mindfulness and dealing with stress at work, please email me at emily@soulsadventures.com