SHIFTING INTO THE POWER AND VULNERABILITY OF "WE"
Happy 2015 and Happy Chinese New Year to you as well!
While I cannot claim to be an expert in Chinese traditions, I am always interested and excited to learn about the meaning of the Chinese new year. Luckily, my amazing assistant is also a Feng Shui specialist and a Chinese astrologer. She's helped me to understand just how powerful of a year is in store for us if we allow ourselves to dissolve beyond the walls of individuality that we've cherished into a consciousness of collective harmony. (Click HERE if you are curious about Feng Shui or Astrology.)
This year, the Year of the Sheep, serves as one of our teachers, bathing us in the essence of gentleness, peace and calm. The sheep energy calls us into the grace of harmony that exists among the collective whole and invites us to consider how we might evolve beyond our individual truth into the power and potential of togetherness.
Sheep travel in a herd. Aside from the lone "black sheep", we tend to see sheep huddled together, working collectively to graze, move, live, etc. Therefore, the sheep energy allows us to nurture one another and to tend to our home, family and community in a way we haven’t experienced in years. The past three years we lived in horse, snake and dragon energy. All of these signs are very individualistic, and were powerful, charged and growth oriented, catapulting us forward into the truth and expression of who we uniquely are. They were rooted in the masculine, yang life force energy.
This year, in contrast, brings with it a reminder that we need one other. What good is our individual power and expression if we cannot balance it with our need for vulnerability, tenderness and quiet intimacy? The sheep represents the profound, transformational power of the feminine, yin life force energy. It is a time to practice being receptive, to nurture and be nurtured, to be inclusive and trust the greater power of the whole.
This sounds quite kumbaya, doesn't it? All of us getting along, loving one another... it's like a Woodstock hippie revival or something. Well, let me tell it to you straight: I'm a transformational coach. EVERY single client and workshop participant that I've ever had was afraid of intimacy on some level. ALL of us are. Most people in our society shy away from the power of vulnerability, seeing it as something that needs to be protected, something that makes them susceptible to hurt or danger of some kind. The sheep is here to guide us into the power of surrender and trust, teaching us that vulnerability is simply a way of being open to deeper connection.
When was the last time you allowed your heart to break open and ask for support in front of someone else? When was the last time you allowed your voice to quiver as you shared how you really feel with your closest loved ones or friends? Have you allowed yourself to melt into the arms of another, not because you are wounded, but because you embody the capacity to receive the purity of their love? What would it be like to dissolve the walls of facade that you've so carefully built around your precious self? What would it be like to nurture the deepest parts of yourself in community with others? What if you allowed your community into your personal experience so deeply that it allowed you all to deepen a bond that was previously superficial? THIS is the power of the sheep.
Recently, I had an experience with my husband that allowed us to experience a deeper intimacy than we've possibly ever felt together before. In the midst of a minor argument, where each of us was defending our positions, I allowed myself to be completely vulnerable and to share a substantial fear that I was facing in my life. In naming my fear and my experience without blame or judgement, I opened to the depths of my vulnerability and asked my husband, who may have been surprised by my outburst of tears, simply to hold me. In that moment, I chose to take the path of the sheep. I could have stayed closed off and defended, even in my vulnerability, feeling too stupid or foolish to ask to be held. I chose instead to drop into the power of "WE"; to lean on him and feel his partnership. He rose to the occasion so gracefully and held me in such a quiet power. A new, deeper trust emerged.
We are being called to dissolve. It is time to dissolve beyond the power of our individual truth and evolve into a new paradigm that is carried and supported by a larger whole. We are being called to TRUST. Trust, trust, trust. Trust in our partners, trust in our friends, trust in our loved ones, trust in our community, trust in humanity once again. The sheep invites us to fall back into the arms of the other and to watch in amazement as they actually catch us. What a stunningly magnificent balance to the part of us who knows how to handle it, who knows how to make it happen and rise to the occasion. In addition to our strength, we now get to experience our softness and our openness. In doing so, our softness and openness becomes our new strength.
So what does it look like for YOU to embrace the power of the sheep this year? How might you lean on your loved ones more to ask for help? What does it look like to open yourself to a new level of receiving - receiving love, kindness, abundance, blessings? How can you open your heart into vulnerability just a little more?
As we open to consider and trust the needs of the whole, we ironically nourish ourselves. Our interconnectedness will be our source of power, so it is a good time for partnering up with your cheerleaders - those people who hold you up and believe in you. If you are someone who likes to control everything and do everything yourself, or if you are a perfectionist, this year will serve as a huge growing edge and opportunity for you. It's your chance to learn to let go a little bit more, to allow others to participate and to surrender into being instead of doing.
I invite you to realize just how much actually has your back. Feel into your back right now as you allow yourself to rest on all that holds you and supports you in this life. All those people, the earth's gravity, the power of the Divine. It's all here holding you so you can relax back into it. Allow yourself to rest on the intervonnectivity that binds us together, the unified whole, a humanity based on love and light.
Here's to your open heart, your nourished self and the joy of feeling your abundant community. May you receive and receive and receive.
PS - I want to hear from you! How are you going to soften and open a bit more this year? What will be powerful for you in that? Please comment below and I'll respond! Happy new year!
HOW GRIEF SILENTLY OPENS THE COLLECTIVE HEART
Last Wednesday started off as a normal morning - I turned the tea kettle on, rubbed my eyes and pet my anxious puppy as he nipped at my toes for attention. I was gearing up for a full day of coaching sessions when I got the call that a dear family friend had very suddenly passed away. He was the younger brother of one of my best friends. He was someone I had grown up with, an extension of my family. He was a light in our world, gone too soon at the ripe age of 35. I dropped the phone and fell to the floor sobbing. Total shock.
As the week progressed, this shocking tragedy brought together my expansive "chosen" family from adolescence - an entire multi-generational community of friends and families who have known one another for over 25 years. We hugged, we wept, we remembered, we honored, we ate, we laughed and more than anything we grieved as we said goodbye to our beloved loved one together.
Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one, or perhaps felt the impact of loosing someone we may not have even known that well at all. The death of my friend fell during the same week as the death of Robin Williams which devastated people all over the world. Around the globe, hearts were ripped open as people mourned this unexpected loss. Death seems to give us pause. Somehow it softens us. It puts things in perspective and startles us into remembering how precious life can be. It seems to say to us: "Wake Up!"
As we search for meaning during the time of tragedy and grief, I cannot help but be struck by a sense of healing that has the potential to emerge in these heart-open moments. As much as I cannot fully digest what has happened to my friend, his family and our community, I somehow also cannot shake a simultaneous sense of profound peace that feels present to me at this time. How is it that something so terrible can give us access to something so reassuring?
The answer is simple: LOVE.
Despite the struggle in the Middle East, random shootings in the Midwest and the heart-wrenching depression that swallowed the life of a comedic icon, I still believe that in our truest state we are made of love. I trust fully that we are actively evolving our human consciousness and that on a soul level, we are more familiar with the light than the dark.
Could it be that grief opens our hearts just enough to remember LOVE as our truth? Could it be that grief is clearing out Humanity's old story of separation, judgment, danger and lack as it silently softens the Collective Heart?
Grief is a profound teacher if we let it be. If we let the title waves of sadness pour through us, then they can awaken and cleanse our hearts. Death is a reminder of impermanence and is one doorway to re-awaken our ability to BE with what is in this moment. Death is here to remind us about LOVE. It invites us to connect to our soul's path and to one another right now, in this life. It disintegrates our walls of judgement, story and constriction that have kept us small and cocooned away from the authentic connection we so deeply desire. How come it takes the shattering of life for us to remember how precious and vulnerable we truly are? It's as though the grief over my friend's death has on some level cleared some out-dated residue of isolation, contraction and smallness in my heart. While I feel immense sadness, I can tell that I am more open. I am somehow more loving today. I am seeing through a renewed pair of eyes that offer compassion, tenderness, trust and peace towards myself and those around me. This is the gift of those who have left us. They afford us the blessing of loving more in this life, allowing our collective consciousness to evolve. Their departure opens the door for our healing.
As I process the meaning of these events, I begin to wonder how we might all soften ourselves to love a little bit more. What would it take to pick up the phone instead of feed our isolation? What would it do if we practiced receiving love in moments of tender vulnerability? What does it take for us to truly surrender?
I am reminded that each of us is whole. Each of our souls has an innate wisdom and is on the perfect path. Each of us is invited by forces greater than we can ever imagine to return to our natural state of love. To SHOW UP and nourish our sacred connections to ourselves and each other. Each of us is OK. We can handle our pain, we can lean into our fear a little more today than yesterday, we can stretch ourselves out of the darkness of comfort back into the light of love in some way today.
Personally, I feel changed, and in this change I have recommitted myself to live vulnerably, lovingly and in connection even more. We are made of love. We are here to love ourselves and each other. We are asked to do it now. And to ask for help doing it.
My invitation to you is that you courageously honor your soul's longing for connection, peace, joy, purity, liberation and love. It's safe to do so. It's time to do so. It's our responsibility to do so. You are fully blessed and always supported by the Great Mystery that seems to somehow always bring us back to love.
May you Shine On.