04/26/16 4:12pm

Harnessing Natural Cycles to Gain Momentum

Afternoon EvergreensHarnessing Natural Cycles to Gain Momentum
by Starcat

There you are, hard at work on a big project. It could be something you’re making, like building a raised bed garden, knitting a sweater, or writing a book draft, or maybe you’re working on an important report for work, or you’re spring cleaning and decluttering your home. Things are moving along well, but then all of a sudden you lose steam. All of your momentum seems to collapse, and there’s nothing you want to do less. What happened?

Or maybe you’ve noticed that you tend to have less energy sometimes for the same amount of daily tasks. Your sleep patterns haven’t changed, you aren’t feeling ill, there are no big crises going on in your life, but you just can’t seem to get out of your own way. What gives?

Although we modern human beings put a lot of effort into hiding it, we’re mammals. We’re creatures of the Earth, responsive to the rhythms and cycles of the natural world. Becoming aware of these cycles and how they affect us can help us be more productive and consistent, and also happier.

The cycles of the seasons are perhaps the most obvious ones. Right now, in the northern hemisphere, we’re in the throes of Spring. The days are still lengthening, and the sun’s rays are stronger. Plants are growing; the world gets greener and more lush. This Spring energy is perfect for gaining momentum on your projects. The longer, warmer days will urge your body to want to move more, and taking action will feel natural. You’re drawn to plant and nurture the seeds of your dreams. The tricky part of Spring is when your enthusiasm runs amok, and you might tend to take on more than you can handle.

When Spring transitions into Summer, the energies begin to shift. Summer’s energies let us coast along a bit. Our garden, actual or metaphorical, is in a growth phase, and we’re there to tend and encourage our plants and plans. In temperate climates, you’ll want to be outdoors playing as much as you can while the weather is nice. If you live somewhere more tropical, it might be too hot to be as active, and you’ll want to stay cool and lie low. Either way, the “lazy days” of Summer can tempt you away from the priorities you’ve set. Remember to tend to your projects, allowing the delicious fun of summer activities to renew you, then letting that energy flow back into your goals and intentions.

When Autumn arrives, you’ll be in full-on harvest mode. Your plans and projects will have borne fruit, or if not, you’ll have some clear information about what went wrong. In Autumn our tendency is to plan and organize, and prepare for the next round of action. Think about that “back to school” vibe that many of us still have, even years after we have graduated and moved on. Creativity is at a peak, and you’ll have lots of great ideas and inspirations. Avoid the temptation to hoard your harvest or pull inward too soon. Enjoy the feeling of harvesting what you’ve planted and tended, and let your ideas for the next phase flow freely.

When Winter comes, you’ll feel the natural ebb of your momentum. As the plants begin to go to sleep, and the earth’s critters are in hibernation or migration mode, you’ll enter a more contemplative phase of the year. The days are shorter, and the early arrival of night makes you want to get cozy in your own nest. Winter is a wonderful time to dream and vision, looking ahead to see what new projects or intentions you want to bring into your life when Spring begins. Avoid taking on too much in the Winter, especially around the holidays in late December. When your body longs for extra rest, getting run down can weaken your immune system and make you vulnerable to illness.

Granted, we live in a society that is often full-on, no matter the time of year. Your work schedule might run counter to the seasons, with perhaps your busiest time during the retail madness of Winter, or a lull in Spring, when you wish you could be up and running. There are other cycles that you can be mindful of as you honor your natural ebbs and flows.

Monthly cycles will be familiar to most women. The cycles of the moon have their own energy rhythm, which may or may not line up with your menstrual cycles. Anyone can tap into these lunar cycles and use their energies to help manage momentum for big projects. When the moon is new, it’s a good time to brainstorm about or begin a new project (or phase of a project). As the moon waxes, the lunar energy increases, and you might feel more motivated and focused. The full moon energy works well with completion, although some people find it too chaotic and hard to focus during that time. If that’s true for you, take the full moon off to regroup and recharge. When the moon is waning, it’s a good time for rest and evaluation. The dark of the moon can be used to take a break and get some extra sleep. You can find the times for the moon phases online, or purchase a lovely calendar of moon phases to hang on your wall.

The days have their own, much shorter, cycles that you can use to your advantage. Are you a morning lark or a night owl? When do you feel most energetic and creative? As much as possible, schedule your daily activities according to your natural rhythms. Make sure that you’re doing your most important work when you’re at your best.

Even when you’re not able to fully switch your schedule around to accommodate the season or phase of the moon, being aware of the cycles will help. Knowing that your energy hits a lull during the waning moon means you can plan to go to bed a little earlier, for example. Working with your own rhythms allows you to be at your best, and to honor the ebbs and flows rather than pushing yourself too much. By working with, rather than resisting, the natural cycles, you’ll be able to get more done on your projects and enjoy yourself in the process.

03/29/16 4:00pm

Connecting to your Spirit Is the Fast Lane to Happiness

pexels-photo-45771Connecting to your Spirit Is the Fast Lane to Happiness
by BlackLion

Imagine you are driving along your own superhighway; let’s call it Life. You wake up in the morning, going along at a good pace, when some thought pops up into your experience that doesn’t feel very good. You honk your horn at the thought that just cut you off, causing you to swerve or slow down or even careen into the breakdown lane.

Now imagine the next thought comes along and it feels a little better, but that pesky thought you had before is still going too damn slow in front of you, moving into the passing lane as you try to go by. Now there are two thoughts causing you grief, one that just showed up and another then another keeps coming onto your highway. Most people get stuck in a traffic jam of thoughts, usually first thing in the morning, and end up getting stuck or barely moving forward in their life.

Now imagine waking up and intentionally focusing on a better feeling thought, one you’ve added to your daily spiritual practice. Perhaps you do a meditation or some yoga to get your body, mind and spirit connected. As you are cruising along in the fast lane of your life, you’ll still have those pesky thoughts. They may even try to careen into your lane.

Yet since you are already feeling in a good place, you anticipate that thought’s desire to have your full attention. Instead of ignoring it or honking in irritation, you instead acknowledge it from this place of clarity and then leave it in the dust. The better aligned you are with your spirit, the better you will be able to anticipate how to deal with your thoughts and circumstances.

As you connect more and more to what you want to experience, you’ll be better able to understand that you are driving your own Life. Sure, there will be potholes, detours and construction along your journey, but letting these inconveniences become roadblocks to your own happiness will not get you anywhere.

By deliberately choosing to stay connected to Source, you’ll discover that all these bumps in the road are really the flavor of Life that you are bringing into your experience. As you feel better and better, the crazy drivers will find other lanes to drive in, the curves and detours in the road will be your adventures, and your trusty co-pilot, Spirit, will keep you aimed true to your wildest dreams

03/14/16 7:07am

12 Tangible Benefits of Strengthening Your Spiritual Connection

Spiritual Practice12 Tangible Benefits of Strengthening Your Spiritual Connection
by Starcat

A strong spiritual connection can seem like a lovely extra, something you would pursue if only you had more time and energy. Those uplifting memes on Facebook are great, but this is real life, you’re just too busy for much more.

Waiting until all is well in your life before you cultivate spiritual connection is like calling your doctor only after your scary symptoms have all gone away. It’s way more effective to utilize spiritual tools regularly so that you can live a happier and more purposeful life, day in and day out.

Here are some of the tangible benefits to nurturing your connection with the Divine.

  1. Increased compassion. You’ll find you have more compassion for not only loved ones, but also those who piss you off – the rude server, the guy who cuts you off in traffic, and even the outlandish politicians. Your connection with the oneness that lies at the source will show you that they, like you, suffer, fear, and long for love.
  1. More patience. Rather than pushing on to the next task, you’ll stop and listen to your kids’ daily joys and woes and the antics of their imaginary friend. The present moment will expand, and you’ll take time to listen and just be.
  1. Less drama. When you’re centered, you’ll find you have a loss of interest in gossip, blame, envy, and other things that make you feel icky afterwards.
  1. More energy. When you go deep within and connect with what is timeless, you detach from the rat race. Paradoxically, when you let go of the attachment to getting things done, you’ll find that you’re actually more productive, and you have more energy for your daily tasks.
  1. Emotional balance. You’ll find you have a moment of grace, a pause to evaluate whether blowing your stack at your partner for leaving the kitchen a wreck is actually productive. Not that you’ll ignore it or stuff your anger away, but instead of venting it on someone else, you’ll feel your way through, and then talk with them calmly when it feels right. Equanimity will become a familiar state of being.
  1. More awe. Removing your expectations and living in the present moment means that everything is a gift. You’ll feel more wonder at the little things in life – clouds, flowers, a beloved’s smile, the way the sunlight sparkles on the water, the flavor of dark chocolate or clementines. This will bring you more joy, which in turn draws more of what you love to your daily experience.
  1. Better sleep. Whatever tool you choose as your means of connecting – meditation, yoga, prayer – regular practice will enable you to release stress that you might not have even known you were carrying. This will help you sleep better, and longer, each night.
  1. Increased courage. You’ll still feel fear and nervousness, of course. That’s part of being human. But with increased spiritual connection, you’ll find that you’re braver about taking the steps that will move you toward your biggest dreams and goals. You’ll feel and acknowledge your fear and then do it anyway.
  1. Smoother decision-making. Whether you’re trying to decide what to make for dinner or where to go next with your career or creative callings, stronger spiritual connection makes deciding easier. Once you learn to turn down the mental chatter, you’ll find that the voice of your intuition will be clearer and louder. This is your inner wisdom – learn to trust it.
  1. Less desire for validation. When you’re in tune with your inner source, you’ll notice a huge drop in your caring-what-others-think-of-you factor. This is a good thing. It will become much easier to trust your inner guidance and let go of comparing yourself to others.
  1. More grace. It feels really good to be in the flow, to move through your life like a graceful dancer. You’ll be in step more often than not, when you pay regular attention to your spiritual guidance.
  1. Effective role-modeling. Finding – and returning to – your deep spiritual connection makes you a role model for kids and other folk. People in your life will notice that you’re less stressed and smile more, and will want to know why. Avoid pushing your personal beliefs or practices on them, but do share about your process and why it feels good to you. You’ll be an active force in the awakening of human consciousness that’s going on all over the globe.