04/26/15 10:06am

Get Into Your Self-Nurturing Groove

WP_20150419_005Get Into Your Self-Nurturing Groove
by Starcat

Do you tend to give of yourself more often than you allow yourself to receive? When you hear the word nurturing, do you think of it as a gift that you give to others? Is it hard for you to take time out and give yourself some tender loving care? Do you feel guilty just thinking of the notion of nurturing yourself?

Be honest with yourself. There’s no need to feel ashamed. It’s a pretty common mindset in our busy-busy culture, especially for women, for parents, and for those who are caregivers of any sort.

When you think about it logically, you understand that you won’t have as much to give if you never allow your own cup to be filled. If you wait until you’re exhausted, sick, or burned out to take time for yourself, you’re causing harm to a precious child of the Universe – you. And you’re risking that you’ll collapse, and won’t be any good to anyone until you recover.

Putting self-care into regular practice can feel overwhelming and impossible.

Getting into the flow of regular self-care involves a certain mindset, and the good news is, you can develop that mindset. The first step is believing that you deserve to be nurtured. The voice of the ever-present inner critic points you toward lack – all the things you haven’t done, or haven’t done well enough, your flaws, your problems, your lack of time.

The real truth is that you deserve love and nurturing simply by virtue of being.

That can be a big leap, though, so let’s start smaller. Turn your view of yourself and what you do around. Make a list of all the good things about yourself. Start with the things you do in any given week. The work you do for money, the care you give to your kids or parents or partner, housework, dog walking, volunteering, calls to friends, cooking, car maintenance or repairs – all of it! As you get comfortable with the exercise, start to add the things you like about yourself. The way your hair looks after a shower, your singing voice, your kind smile, how you’re so awesome at coming up with solutions to problems, your flair with a paintbrush. Add to the list until it feels substantial.

Now read it back, and imagine that you’re a stranger, being described to you by their deeds and positive qualities.

Wouldn’t you feel like that person deserves to be nurtured and treated well for the amazing contributions they offer the world every day?

That’s you, my friend!

Now it’s time for another list. This time, brainstorm a bunch of things that you love to do, that fill you up and renew you. It might include reading a novel, taking a sunset walk, going to the beach, meditating, playing with a coloring book and brightly colored pencils, laughing with a friend, petting your cat. Your list will be unique to you. Keep writing until you can’t come up with any more ideas.

The next step is to schedule these things into your regular routine. Let’s start with weekly. Grab your calendar and put in a date with yourself, at least one hour per week for the next month.

If part of you still balks at this, ease yourself in. I have a friend who only feels good about her self-care when it accomplishes something else she considers productive. Get your self-care to multi-task; going for a walk is nurturing, which also involves exercise, and perhaps your dog friend could use some time outdoors. Gathering friends to make greeting cards is creative and nurturing, and you won’t have to buy birthday cards for a while. You have to shop for groceries anyway, why not go by yourself and make it a date? You’ll need to eat, so take yourself to a cafe and bring along a book you’ve been wanting to read.

Get the idea?

It’s okay to trick yourself into self-nurturing, especially when you’re just getting started.

The final step in the process is to make self-care a regular thing. After your month of weekly self-nurturing, think back on how it has affected you. How do you feel after each date with yourself? Has your stress level gone down? Did your guilt lessen as you filled up your cup? Do you feel just a bit less tired? Keep a journal or notebook where you jot down the things you’ve done and how you feel afterwards. Evaluate your results, and then make a commitment to how you’ll continue.

Maybe you’re not convinced yet. You could just need to give it more time. Stay at the level of once per week, scheduled into your calendar. Or perhaps you’re already feeling the benefits, and you want more. Try putting self-care into your calendar twice every week for the next month or two.

If you’ve gotten really into it, you might want to find something you can do every day! Ten minutes of meditation in the morning, an evening walk, or heading to bed early so you can read or journal for half an hour. You decide.

The key is to begin cultivating the habit of nurturing yourself, and to allow yourself to reap the benefits. Happy self-nurturing!

04/14/15 11:40am

Top Ten Ways Self-Nurturing Changes Your World

Nurturing yourself in the sunshine.Top Ten Ways Self-Nurturing Changes Your World
by BlackLion

Spring is a time for renewal, rebirth, and transformation. With the world waking up, we too can wake up by taking care of our most valuable asset, ourselves. By nurturing ourselves on so many levels, we are more able to create, love, and dance in this magnificent mysterious universe.

Here are some great ways that self-nurturing can manifest a metamorphosis in your world:

1. Accept What Is
When you take care of yourself by meditating, eating delicious and nutritious food, regularly going out in nature, or whatever revs you up, you’ll more easily accept that life is what it is. In other words, you’ll be more clear-headed, and your stress levels will go down, allowing you to see the world as it really is, and not some fantasy or dogma. Being present allows life to be what it is and you’ll more easily know your place in the grand scheme of the universe.

2. See the Beauty
When you get in tune with who you are by taking care of yourself, you’re able to remove the masks that have been blinding you to who you really are. Look into the mirror and truly see yourself. That sparkle in your eyes is your spirit, directly reflected in you. This beauty within you is the same magickal energy that pervades all things. Beauty is everywhere – it has always been there, in the eye of the beholder.

3. Be the Change You Want to See
When you take care of yourself mentally, spiritually and physically, you will discover how easy it is to become more, to become your best self. This is a continuous spiritual practice that moves mountains and transforms the world. By embodying your highest ideals, you’ll become those ideals, and the universe around you will transform itself to follow your new ways of being. Of course, you can always keep doing the same-ole same-ole and the universe will continue to give you that too. Nurture your naissant spiritual bliss.

4. Discover Self-Love
As you become more attuned to your highest self, the recriminations and self-doubt will be released and the new brilliant you will be dusted off and shine brightly. Loving who you are right here and now is the conduit to changing your world. If you treated yourself like your favorite loved one in your life, wouldn’t that feel so joyful and at ease? Why not take those loving steps each moment and find out how awesome you can become simply by nurturing yourself? Double cat dare you!

5. More Energy and Vitality
When you nurture yourself regularly, you will find that life is sweet and juicy. You’ll have so many reasons to get up in the morning. Your body and mind will transform and become aligned with your spiritual intentions here on this Earth plane. Life will be an exciting and joyful journey and you’ll find ways to live and love here so much more easily. You will literally jump for joy more and more as you recognize that self-nurturing is your natural way of being. Hip hip hooray!

6. We Are All Connected
Self-nurturing may seem like something you do only once in a while, like a treat or a vacation, yet when you make this part of your daily practice, you’ll find that this is the basis for living a life full of well-being. Once you recognize and feel the changes within you, you’ll see the connections of your magickal way of being as you go out into the world. Every day will be a new chance to make a new friend, connect more deeply with your family, and recognize the spiritual essence of all things, hidden gems within every being. Namaste!

7. Laughter Is the Best Medicine
You’ll find so many reasons to laugh out loud at the antics the the universe is doing all over the place. If you are not feeling the zing of self-love and nurturing you may choose to focus on what’s wrong with the world. Yet with practice, you will be able to see the humor in yourself and others. This feeling of exuberance and gaiety will have your aches and pains diminish and will increase your vitality and well-being. Laugh it up!

8. Clarity of Focus
You won’t believe how many folks have these narrow blinders on that they were taught to use to feel “right” or “proper.” These blinders are a limiting and narrow-minded way of protecting ourselves. When we nurture ourselves and find out that we truly are alright and that all is well because of love, we’ll become clear-headed and be able to focus our attention on what really matters in this world: love, joy, happiness, and purpose. Tend to your inner wounds and worries to become the radiant, loving being you are meant to be.

9. Uplift Community
When you are truly in line with who you are by nurturing yourself, those in alignment with your new life will gravitate towards you in droves. Though some may remain stuck in their ways for now, know that those meant to uplift you will find you, and those that you are meant to uplift will appear. Community is about the interactions between others who are also on this spiritual journey. Those who resonate with you will join together in harmony and discovery. By loving yourself and being kind to yourself, that love and kindness translates to every other, even if they choose to focus their attention elsewhere. You cannot help but lift the spirits of those around you when you take care of yourself.

10. Stay in the Zone
That place where creativity, spirit and action merge together comes from within when you are fulfilled. Self-nurturing is the conduit to being in the Zone, a state of heightened awareness, clarity and a thirst for transforming spiritual insights into manifested brilliance. By continuously finding new ways to honor who you are and where you want to go, the vast wealth of inspiration, dream manifestation, and juicy life are at your beck and call. Become the being you were most meant to be by taking care of the present you, right here and now. Dance with your muse!

03/16/15 4:43pm

How Does Your (Soul’s) Garden Grow?

Early Garden  GrowthHow Does Your (Soul’s) Garden Grow?
by Starcat

Have you been beating the late-winter blues by browsing the colorful gardening catalogs? Are you eager for the time when you can sink your hands in the dirt and plant those seedlings? Do you live in a climate where you’re already out in the garden, puttering and breathing in the fresh air?

A wonderful way to wrap our minds around the spiritual journey we traverse is by using gardening as a metaphor for spiritual growth. In modern life, we’ve become oddly distanced from the land we inhabit. We might argue that the changes of seasons don’t make much difference in our daily routines. Yet we’re still mammals, enthused by the lengthening days, enraptured by a sudden afternoon of warm breezes, distracted by the way the sun peeks into our windows.

By Spring Equinox, we are nearly through the first quarter of the calendar year. Think back to the intentions you set as you reflected on what you wanted 2015 to look like. How’s it been going so far?

Don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t yet made much progress. This isn’t a race. You wouldn’t try to grow your heirloom tomatoes in weeks instead of months, right? By setting intentions and living mindfully, you’re learning to integrate your deepest priorities into your everyday life. You’ve planted the seeds of those intentions (or if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late).

Now it’s time to nurture them.

Tend to your intentions as you would newly-planted seedlings. Make sure they have the sunlight of your full attention. There are many ways to integrate your intentions into your daily routine. Pick one that resonates with you. Start the morning with five or ten minutes of meditation, reflecting on the intentions you’ve set. Write affirmations in your journal as you sip your morning coffee or tea. Make a gratitude list before bed, including moments from the day that reflected your intentions. Schedule a weekly date with yourself to check in on the steps you’re taking toward your dreams.

Nurture your growing awareness with water – your positive emotions. You want your intentions to be things that feel really really good! You know, your true passions! Otherwise you won’t stick with them. I’ve found that having lists of rules and “shoulds” for myself often backfires. Infuse your intentions, and the ways you pursue them, with joy and playfulness. Let them be something you look forward to and enjoy.

Weeding through your daily activities is a necessity for growing what you really want in your life. There are so many distractions in our lives. Many of them seem fun and valuable. But your soul’s garden is limited by the amount of waking time you have available. When you try and say yes to everything, your purpose can become diluted. Get rid of activities or commitments that no longer feed your soul. You’re not serving anyone if you come to them with resentment or dread. Create new ways to center your daily activities around your most cherished intentions.

Feeding the soil is also important. In this case, I mean taking care of your body’s basic needs: sleep, exercise, love, and good food. You won’t feel fired up about growing into your soul’s purpose if you can barely stay awake by 3pm, or if your stomach always hurts. If your life feels so overwhelming or awful that you can’t see where to start, then begin here at ground level. Set intentions to treat your body kindly, and as you practice them, your soul will naturally flourish.

The best gardeners revel in each phase of their work. Remember that your goal is less important than the journey. Plant and tend to your soul’s garden, giving it your attention each day. Bit by bit, you’ll notice green growth expanding. You’ll feel more peace, creativity, and joy as you integrate your most cherished intentions into your life. Happy gardening!

03/6/15 1:05pm

Seeds of Transformation

SeedsSeeds of Transformation
by BlackLion

To live a life worth living, you need the ability to focus on what is really most important in your experience. Do you often do that? Not necessarily, with all the distractions of daily life, like work, kids, commutes, house-cleaning, etcetera etcetera. So if you truly want to change your life for the better, what are the key components necessary for a fabulous life?

Here are some seeds of transformation for you to implement in the many aspects of your life. Pick one to try, do them all, or make up your own!

Loving relationships

Thank you cards/gifts: Want to spread the love to those that are closest to you, or to someone you want to get even closer to? Make them a thank you card or special gift that comes from the heart. You could also treat them to a day at the spa, a walk on the beach, or whatever gives them the happies. Sow the seeds of love!

Hugs: Sharing an embrace with your special someone is a treat. By hugging for as little as 10 seconds, you build more trust, love and intimacy. Hugging yourself is also a way to lower your stress levels and get back in focus for a joyful life.

Self-love: Whenever you focus on bringing joy into your own life, your cup overflows with love. As you take loving-care of yourself, you are much more able to empathize with and care for another. Go on, give it a go!

Fulfilling work

Mutually-beneficial exchanges: Sure, you could stick with business as usual, but the lack of compassion and caring about the other people in the exchange is not sustainable. So why not focus on doing work that not only benefits you and your pocketbook, but also the people you work for and with? Find ways to create win-win-win scenarios (you-boss-client).

Team building: Working as a team has so many advantages when everyone involved can work together cohesively. Create synergies with your teammates by inspiring the best in them rather than expecting the worst. Play to your and your team’s strengths while bolstering the shortfalls.

Heroic challenges: Sometimes doing the same thing day in and day out gets repetitive and boring. Set yourself an epic challenge that you know will be a game-changer if you complete it successfully. Even if you fall short of the goal, the mindset for overcoming your next challenges will be a boon. Think big!

Genius work: Do what you are meant to do. Follow your passions and spend more and more time on those activities and your life will transform. You’ll discover like-minded folk, more opportunities, and a prosperity that is joyful rather than discouraging.

Spiritual connection

Quiet mind: To truly be one with All-That-Is, you need to let go of the constant chatter of thoughts. Try meditation, exercise, or simply petting your animal companion and be fully in the present moment. That quiet voice you usually suppress is your spirit sharing its love for you.

Openness to oneness: Recognizing that you are an integral and unique being in this vast universe can be daunting, yet when you realize the true worthiness inherent in your being, your life will blossom. Be open to the possibility that you really are a magnificent and bountiful creator of your own life experience.

Listening within: All the answers you have ever sought have always come from within. The impetus to find the solution to your challenges can come from many external stimuli, yet only by looking within will you find what you are looking for. Take a few deep breaths and just listen.

Creative visions: Visualize what it would feel like to have everything you have ever wanted in a way that benefits you and those you interact with. By being one with your creative vision, you become a beacon of joy, love, and happiness. Create your best life!

Healthy mind and body

Nutritious food: When you pay attention to what you are putting into your body, you will recognize what feels good and what makes you feel like crap afterwards. By imbibing wholesome foods and drinks, your body is best able to align with your spirit and you’ll feel great through the whole process.

Plenty of movement: Get up and dance! Go for a walk or get back into your workout routine. Moving your body will keep it active and healthy. Know your limits but also test the boundaries of what you think you are capable of. Just keep moving!

Mental acuity: Your body is not the only thing that needs exercise. Expand your mental facilities by doing crossword puzzles, cryptoquips, or tongue twisters. Read a challenging book. Engage in philosophical discussions. The more you learn and expand what you think, the more you’ll be able to think outside the box and find new ways of experiencing life’s wonder.

Inspiring environment

Decluttering: Look around your house and see if there is an accumulation of stuff, whatever it may be, then do something about it. By rearranging and decluttering your home or office, you’ll not only feel better, you’ll be able to see some of the blockages you may be holding onto in your life. Free your bonds!

Natural world: Going outside into nature is an awesome way to reconnect with the ebb and flow of life. By rekindling your intimate connection with the earth, sky, sun, plants, and animals, you’ll find ways to uplift your life’s experience.

Thriving community: Contribute in meaningful ways to your community. By sharing your beautiful gifts, you not only uplift yourself, you also raise the energy level of those around you. Create ways to thrive by being your best self and giving in joyful ways. These seeds will grow and blossom as you nurture them.

02/20/15 4:45pm

Dreams & Personal Symbols

Dreams & Personal Symbols
by Starcat

By paying attention to the dreams you have each night, you can enhance your self-knowledge and gain clues that help you live a more meaningful and joyful life. After you begin keeping a dream journal, or regularly sharing your dreams with a loved one, you’ll notice certain patterns or themes that tend to come up again and again. The things or events that recur in your dreams can become potent personal symbols. Your inner self is wise, and will send you messages meant to help guide you.

What do I mean by this?

drivingindreamsIn waking life, I’m a good driver. We live in the country, so we rely on car travel to get us where we need to go. When I worked full time outside the home, I drove 40 miles each weekday to get to and from my job, even in the winter. I learned to drive with caution and confidence.

In my dreams, however, I simply can’t drive worth beans.

Every time I find myself behind the wheel of a vehicle in the dreamlands, something goes awry. Recent driving dreams include bumping into a whole line of cars in a tunnel; no one was hurt, but I was bemoaning the time it would take to deal with all the insurance paperwork and consequences. In the dream, I was rushing to pick up one of the kids and I realized I’d be terribly late. I was so glad when I woke up and realized it wasn’t real. In another dream, I was driving a huge truck, and ended up driving it right up onto the top of a car carrier at an intersection! These are just a couple of examples, but it’s been an ongoing theme for years.

What does it mean? Well, I tend to have these dreams when my ego self feels like things are out of control in my life. I’m supposed to be the driver, right? The one in charge? Maybe not.

My driving dreams have helped me realize that my everyday life goes more smoothly when I don’t try to be in control of every little thing. The energy of control is stressful and when I’m in that mode, I end up with results that aren’t what I wanted. Instead, if I release my attachment and go with the flow, I find myself arriving just where I wanted to be in the first place – or somewhere even better.

BlackLion often dreams of participating in and creating games, which is a passion of his in waking life. It reminds him to be playful and have fun. It also helps him with the framework of interpersonal relationships. When he communicates with people, there are agreed-upon guidelines like the ones that form the framework of a game. He’s learning to play by the rules of his own personal values and negotiate how they interact with those of people he cares about.

What personal symbols or metaphors are coming to you through your dreams? If no examples spring to mind right away, take some time this week to notice if there are any symbols that show up again and again. If you don’t easily recall your dreams, you can look to your daydreams or most cherished goals to find themes that pop up often.

Now examine them to see how they might relate to your waking life. What messages are being sent to you from your deep inner wisdom? How could applying this advice enhance your experience?

Take time to play with your dream symbols, trying out different interpretations. It’s your own inner world, and there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. Dreams provide you with an unending supply of ideas, questions, and advice that can deepen your connection to your intuition. Experiment with your own dream symbols, and see what unfolds.