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.

02/9/15 3:33pm

Top 3 Reasons to Record Your Dreams

dreams, messages, insights, journaling, spiritTop 3 Reasons to Record Your Dreams
by BlackLion

Dream journaling is a vital way to discover more about your inner being. You can also uncover hidden blockages to release, find spiritual allies, and discover unconscious desires that can enhance your life. Whether you are an active dreamer or not, when you wake up in the morning, you can gather valuable insights into who you really are.

Here are the top three reasons to record your dreams:

1. Better Understanding of All of You

We are so much more than a walking, talking bag of flesh and bones. We are an eternal spirit existing on many levels of consciousness with only a portion of that spirit manifested in the physical realm. When you record your dreams, you are better able to understand and interpret what your spirit is offering to you each and every moment. Each morning before you get up, grab the handy paper and pen on your nightstand and write down what you remember from your dreams; whether they are people, places, images, or feelings, each is an important communication just for you. Though you could use a dream interpretation book to find out more about what each of these symbols means, only you can know what any particular one means to you right now. Seeing a dog in your dreams could mean many things – companionship, loss, loyalty, or even fear. Only you can know for sure what it means within the context of your dream life.

2. Direct Connection to Your Spirit

Dreaming is your way to dance with your spiritual self. Whether through visions, feelings, or insights, your higher self wants to share with you all the gloriousness that is you. When we are awake, our ego selves often get in the way of this communication – misunderstanding or rephrasing the messages in a way that does not do justice to the intent. Instead, by recording these inspirations fresh when you first awake, in the liminal space between waking and dreaming, you can gain the most valuable insights from your spirit. Whether they are warnings or accolades, these important connections are invaluable to your waking self and can significantly enhance your overall well-being.

3. Signposts to Your Best Life

Every dream impression, whether an image, scene or feeling, is a signpost to a better life. As you record these in your dream journal, you will get a clearer indication of where to go (and where to avoid) during your waking life. Navigating the world can be really challenging if we are only paying attention to half of our experience. When we integrate the messages from our dreams, we can more easily be open to serendipities, signs, and opportunities that might otherwise be unnoticed using only our ego and our five senses. With practice, you’ll recognize allies from your dreams, locations that are important, and remarkable symbols that will enhance your daily experience and transform your life toward better and better thoughts – so you can truly live the life of your dreams!

01/28/15 2:45pm

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2014

Starcat’s Ten Best Books of 2014
by Starcat

Each January, I like to reflect back on what, in my opinion, were the best books of the previous year. Below are 2014’s winners. Please note, these aren’t necessarily books that were published in 2014, though a couple of them were. These are just my favorites of the 45 books I read over the past year. Enjoy!

toreadCreative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. This book had lived on my shelves for many years, and I can’t believe I hadn’t read it yet. It’s a metaphysical classic! This slim volume contains many useful and simple techniques for helping you create the life of your dreams. One of my favorites was to visualize upon first waking up and just before going to sleep, when your consciousness is more fluid.

Practical Prosperity Magick: Crafting Success & Abundance by Ellen Dugan. This is a Pagan book on how to encourage prosperity in your life. She offers spells to help get the money flowing, but also encourages you to take action to follow through in practical ways. I found lots of helpful suggestions and ideas here.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I had enjoyed the movie and wanted to check out the book it was based on – especially after someone told me there was a long section of philosophical discussion in the book. I think they were trying to warn me, but I loved it. This book has so many layers to it, from the adventure tale itself to contemplation of the meaning of life and our interactions with other beings.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. BlackLion and Quester are the gardeners in our family. I love plants, but I seem to have a brown thumb. Still, I wanted to see what this whole permaculture thing was all about. I resonate with the philosophy of it, and I’m delighted that our yard is slowly being transformed in this direction.

Invoking Animal Magic by Hearth Moon Rising. I may be a brown thumb with plants, but animals and I have always gotten along wonderfully. This book is a treasure trove of information on communicating with and understanding the wild (and not-so-wild) critters in our lives. It also references many fascinating myths from a variety of cultures.

Shamanic Awakening: My Journey Between the Dark and the Daylight by Sandra Corcoran. This fascinating book ranges from Native American teachings to dreamwork to alien contact. The skeptical reader might be doubtful about some of the alien encounters Corcoran describes later in the book. Suspend your disbelief – whether or not the stories can be proven as literal truth, there is much wisdom to be found here. I think reality is much more fluid than we often give it credit for.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. This was a fantastic novel that had me captivated. I can’t even really say why. Suffice it to say that my own imaginary world expanded after reading it.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey Into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, M.D. This was a book that my friend Jenn read while she was dying of cancer. It’s about how a near-death experience convinced a scientist who had always thought of the afterlife as nonsense to believe that our souls continue beyond the death of our physical bodies. While I am already very open to ideas of past and future lives, it was captivating to read Dr. Alexander’s journey and see the changes in his mindset as a result.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. This memoir is one of those books that for some reason stuck with me long after I finished it. It’s about one woman’s epic personal quest, the heroine’s journey that Joseph Campbell wrote about. Raw and real.

Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle. Okay, so technically I’m still reading this book, though I started it in 2014. Tolle’s words of wisdom are always succinct and profound. It’s delicious food for thought – or rather, no-thought. I very highly recommend this one.