The Cook Awakening

Archive for the ‘Meditation’ Category


Sacred Pause Revisited

December 18, 2019
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Seasonal Change, Spiritual Practice

This is an article I wrote last year around this time, edited to feel current to today.

It can seem overwhelming. The holidays. Crowds, traffic, the stimulation of gatherings and lights and cooking and eating, so many words. Kids wanting, wanting, wanting. Tummies rumbling from too much yum. Perhaps there are financial stresses in the mix.

Or, it may feel lonely, if you don’t have the energy for it all, or if community feels distant.

I have a memory of our dog, Jazz, the best dog in the world, who, for her first 5 years, would get so excited when we went to the dog park, she’d run and run and run with every dog she saw. At first we thought it was fun. Look how happy she was! She’s such an extrovert, look how she loves to chase and wrestle with the other dogs!

Jazz in motion

Until we realized, what we were seeing as fun, at some point became frenzy. We started to put her on the leash after she’d run long and hard when we’d see froth on her lips. And, you know what? There was clearly a feeling of “oh, thank you for saving me from myself” in her manner as she’d flop down next to us at the park bench.

In a different way that feeling can be there when we have too much isolation. Like water that becomes fetid without enough movement, you can see that the things growing in it are not healthy. Drinking that will make you sick. There can be too much inward movement, too, leading to stagnation.

All of nature runs in cycles and spirals of expansion and contraction. Breathing. The heart beating. The seasons. Sunrise and sunset. Birth and death.

We need the out-breath. We cannot breathe in constantly — we’d literally burst. The sun can’t be up forever, we’d be scorched, and the other side of the earth would be frigid.

This Saturday is winter solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year. This is the bottom of the earth’s out breath. (Or, some say it’s the top of the in breath. Either way, it’s a powerful transition point!)

She needs a pause. We need a pause.

As I’ve written before, the days don’t immediately begin to get longer after solstice. There is a pause, a still point.

That still point is sacred. Many spiritual traditions emphasize noticing what happens on subtle levels during the pause at both the top and the bottom of the breath.

The still point is a beautiful time to say a prayer, in whatever way you do. That could be formal prayer. That may be setting intentions (think New Year). That may be gathering around the table with blood or chosen family over food that human hands you know have touched and loved. That could be as simple as finding your way to your open heart and asking that you be shown the way through. Many light a candle at this time of year to anchor their intentions, to invite light into their deepest longings.

All of nature needs the in breath, the out breath. All nature benefits from the still point of the transition between them, too.

I encourage you to pay attention to this pause that the earth is experiencing. We’re not separate from nature. How can you find your way into the sacred pause of your life? Is it making sure you have a minute or hour in nature? Maybe it’s remembering to connect with the physical sensations of your breath while you’re waiting in the insanely long line at the grocery store. Perhaps it’s putting away your phone and computer, and turning off the TV for an hour before you go to bed and just sitting quietly.

Were you able to see the full moon rising last week? It was glorious over Portland.

The Cold Moon — December full moon over Portland, OR


The seeds that are planted at this time of year can bear rich fruit come springtime. Don’t miss this opportunity to pause.

If you’d like some support in learning to slow down, or focus your energy differently as we move into the cold season, remember my New Year special is in effect now — if you are a new client, your first month of counseling is half price when you commit to 3 months of working with me. Read more about that here.

And, Sovereign Self, a women’s group and Deep Communication Circle™ meets this coming Friday, December 20th at 10 am via Zoom video conference. Read more about that here.

Wishing you all blessed holy days, however you celebrate them. Wishing you a nourishing connection with the pause in the world, however you can feel it. Blessings, blessings, blessings.

Interdependence

November 10, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

There’s a tendency I see with clients, friends, family, and myself. I think of it as the training of the Industrial Revolution, and of Capitalism. I’m not launching into a political lecture here, but I do need to name this orientation as systemic, partially as a way to depersonalize the suffering. Meaning… it’s not your fault you suffer in this way.

We feel guilty for needing help. We carry the deeply embedded message in our collective psyches that we are supposed to be completely self sufficient in all things. We are supposed to be able to handle whatever life hands us. Financial difficulty, mental health challenges, the stress of unreasonable demands at work, isolation in the nuclear family, illness…

Trees metabolize carbon dioxide into the oxygen we need.


I know I feel some level of unease, which is really the tip of an iceberg of shame, when I have to acknowledge that I’m not doing well. All the messages that flow through are utterly disempowering — I have a strong spiritual practice, I should be fine all the time. I’m a counselor, I help other people, I should have all my ducks in a row, and shouldn’t need help myself. I am so fortunate, I have a nice house and food on the table, what am I complaining about?

Our ancestors lived in tribes. Humankind is genetically wired for connection and interdependence. There are many reasons why that isn’t a reality today in white western culture. That’s not what I want to focus on here, though. The question is — what do we do about it? We are set up to stay separate in so many ways by our own habits, and the expectations of others!
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Come Home

July 14, 2019
Posted in: Events, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

I had two very similar sessions with different clients last week. They were overwhelmed by the requirements of their lives — personal relationships, work, … so many responsibilities. They weren’t sleeping enough, weren’t eating well, drinking more alcohol than felt healthy, ending up spending hours feeling incapacitated by exhaustion. Going in 6 directions at once.

I stated what seemed obvious to me – that how their lives were going wasn’t sustainable. And, I heard some version of:

“But, how can I rest when everyone needs me? I can’t stop!”

One had an edge of panic in her voice. I felt it. It broke my heart. The other was just more mystified. There really didn’t seem to be any other possibility than how life was unfolding.

A beautiful balancing act.


Then, Friday evening, after spending an hour washing dishes, after a week of my husband being out of town and me with a full client load, I found myself shouting at my kids to come help me clean the kitchen.

Not a stellar parenting moment. For which I have apologized, although I am happy it allowed me to leave the kitchen and sit myself down for a few minutes. I’m not sorry I asked for help, just not thrilled with how I went about it.

Sometimes, we have to break down a bit to realize that how we’re going about something isn’t working.
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Sovereignty

June 9, 2019
Posted in: Events, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

Sovereign, adj
1. possessing supreme or ultimate power
2. enjoying autonomy

As women, in general, we are taught from an early age to be more aware of other people’s feelings than our own. It’s how we learned to stay safe, to navigate sometimes very dangerous waters.

As a result, we often aren’t fully aware of how we feel in any given moment. Our antennae are always up, sensing the environment. Even when it’s relatively safe, the habit is so ingrained, we’re still scanning our surroundings for possible hazards in other’s behavior. We often defer to our partners’, employers’, friends’, or children’s needs without even thinking about it.

This long standing habit of hyper arousal and leaving ourselves out of the equations of our lives has a myriad of outcomes — chronic illness, loss of income, depression and anxiety, and lack of meaningful connection with other human beings, to name a few.

We are embedded in the structure of society. We live in a template of hierarchies, implicit and explicit, that can keep us from the connection we all need on a cellular level.

Can you feel yourself as distinct from the background of your life?


I have found that it’s not enough to understand this mentally, to have the mechanics of “The Patriarchy” or “White Supremacy” mapped out on the cognitive level, although that’s incredibly important. We do need to have our rational minds engaged to help us feel safe to do deeper work.

If we stop there, though, we often get stuck in anger. Anger is important, it helps us get unstuck. It helps us define what’s not working. It’s an important step in discernment. But, if we never move through anger, there’s growth we might not experience.
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Relax

April 9, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

There’s a common misperception about spirituality that I’d like to address. That’s the idea that we have to “get rid of the ego” to awaken.

Remember the quote from Carl Jung in my last article? “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size”.

We can’t get rid of the ego. By ego, I’m not referring to the psychological definition, rather the term used in spiritual circles, that can also be called the small self, or the belief that we are separate from one another and all of creation.

Gautama Buddha


I’ve heard the difference between the ego and Soul (or Self, or Spirit), described this way — the ego is NO!, and the Soul is YES! I experience the energy of ego as a clenched fist, holding onto… ideas, self concepts, being right, being wrong, being sick, being well, etc.

Really, I experience the more surface aspects of the ego as a little child, sometimes weeping inconsolably, sometimes throwing a tantrum.

If the ego is NO, the Soul’s YES is a tender embrace. The Soul embraces the ego. There are times that embrace can feel very painful, because there’s truth in it that may not agree with some of our ideas, but that doesn’t mean the embrace is violent or rejecting. It’s just… real.
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Soothing the Critic

January 13, 2019
Posted in: Events, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

It’s painful. So many of my clients tell me there’s a voice in their head that says their best is just not good enough.

It’s called the Inner Critic. There’s a lot to say about the Inner Critic, but very briefly, it’s a part of the mind that is always criticizing us. Its sole job is to tell us what we’re doing wrong, how we could do things better, and for some of us, it tells us that nothing we do is worth anything. We can end up feeling like we should just stop trying.

If we tell a child who is just beginning to walk that they should never fall down, or that they should be running already, it will be very difficult for them to learn, with all the stages that need to happen for that skill to develop.

That seems obvious. And yet, our minds do something like that to us all the time!

Tara, Deity of Compassion

For some it can feel like a goad that keeps them always on the run, never able to relax. For others, particularly those who may be dealing with health challenges or other situations in life that feel humanly impossible, it can end up just feeling that their only real choice is to give up. I will hear “I think I’m depressed” when what may be happening, at least partially, is a chronic, full blown critic attack that is beating them into exhaustion.
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