Last fall, on the Wheat Belly Caribbean Cruise, I gave a 60 min talk to explain how unexamined and unprocessed emotions can get in the way of us feeling healthy and happy, even when we have taken all the steps to eat a healthy diet. In this video I share parts of my story of healing as well as a few tools to help you with the somatic aspect of emotions, and I lead a guided meditation at the end. Hope you enjoy!
Reprinted from OptiMYz Magazine January/February issue, page 73
I found my first mentor by accident. Like most people I had studied under plenty of teachers and professors, but no one like Louise Lebrun. I say it was an accident, because I thought I had signed up for a seminar on women in business. Instead I was confronted by a depth of content and an emotional intimacy that I had never experienced before. It was a unique combination of science, spirituality and self-empowerment. It was as though a shaman was practicing Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP)
My mind was racing. I wanted to leave because it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I couldn’t discern any tools or strategies. Yet, something in my heart made me stay. It was soaking up energy and information that my mind couldn’t understand. By the end of the seminar I had experienced a personal breakthrough that would dramatically change the trajectory of my life.
I continued to take courses with Louise for several years. I dove deep into her work and her community and I became certified as a facilitator. It was all about my own personal transformation, I connected with an emotional freedom that healed my body and opened my heart.
However, there was one component of her work that intrigued me more than the others. She made frequent reference to Huna, a shamanistic Hawaiian spirituality. Something about that called to me and I found myself on a new trajectory; travelling to Hawaii and studying under a new mentor, a Kahuna named Laura Kealoha Yardley.
Something in me recognized Huna as an essential part of my life. People often ask me how I KNEW that this was for me. It’s an important question, because what they are really asking is, “How will I know when I find my mentor?” The answer to that question is always subjective, but the first time I met Laura, when she told me about Huna, it felt like coming home.
At the time I felt like I could have stayed under Laura’s wing forever, but eventually she did something surprising, she pushed me out of the nest. Laura felt I was ready and she wanted me to teach and share the wisdom of Huna on my own.
Great mentors should guide you to your own inner compass so that you can become your own teacher and guide. They don’t want to keep you as a follower, they want to empower you to find your own way.
I’ve had many mentors. Sometimes we are lucky enough to share our path with a great teacher, and in a sense that is all that a mentor needs to be. When everything that is needed has been received, we part ways to make space for others.
How do you choose a mentor? First and foremost, let your heart be your guide. Follow feelings like curiosity, wonder, and awe. Don’t be intimated by those feelings, they don’t imply a lack on your part, only a resonance. Stay with your mentor as long as you are learning and growing. Trust that you will know how much focus to give them at different times in your life, and don’t be hard on yourself when you change focus and pursue new passions.
Most importantly, remember that this is your journey and you are going to live it in a way that is completely unique to you. Your collection of influences and mentors will inform your own perspective on the world, and will eventually be your gift to others.
A few weeks ago I posted something on Facebook about the importance of loving ourselves first and foremost. Shortly after I was challenged by a friend who asked, “How do I do this? How do I learn to love myself?”
I have been pondering and practising this question for most of my adult life. With each uncovered layer of self-sabotage or self-judgment, I experience healing, and soon after, another layer of shadow surfaces, and so too, my next opportunity to deepen my connection and love for the divine within me. Every “aha!” moment is followed by confusion, but confusion eventually surrenders to the next “aha!” Just when I think I have things figured out, someone waltzes into my life and (as a mirror or a catalyst) reveals my next blind spot. It never really ends, but I find it exciting: It means that I am never stagnant and I get to experience this life at a deeper level every single time.
Life is an ever-unfolding adventure and we are here to remember how incredibly beautiful, brilliant, and powerful we are as spiritual creators!
Why is this important? Because the good we do for the world is directly connected to the amount of love, compassion, and forgiveness we are able to have toward ourselves. For me, this became even more obvious after having children. In fact, my kids have really kicked this work into high gear. Like many new moms, I had to struggle to navigate through outdated and unsustainable expectations of motherhood while simultaneously figuring out how to take care of myself on a holistic level. In many ways this relates to another one of my deeply held values: that it is our duty to seek joy.
We practise self-love until the day when the answer to the question, “Do I love myself?” is an easy and resounding “yes!” Then we practise some more. The following are three ways that you can begin to practise self-love now. And remember, it’s just a practice, so be gentle with yourself.
1.Practise Kindness Toward Yourself:
Be mindful of your inner dialogue. Have you ever noticed how you speak to yourself? Have you ever taken the time to stop and listen to the words and the tone you use when you speak to yourself in your own mind? I often catch myself being quite demeaning and judgmental, interrupting my own enthusiasm with limiting thoughts, putting sticks in my own wheels. If another person was as hard on you as you are on yourself, you might choose to either say something to them or simply not have them in your life. Negative mind chatter is not real. It is simply a reflection of the fear your ego holds. Acknowledge the ego, thank it for trying to keep you safe, and counter its fears with the assured understanding that you are a creative and capable force of nature!
Be mindful of how you treat your body. Do you feed it nourishing and life- giving foods? Do you treat it with movement and exercise? Do you allow it to rest when it’s tired and do you give it compliments once in a while? Your body is the instrument your soul has chosen for this human adventure. Attune it to the best of its capacity so it can be optimized for the manifestation of your soul’s destiny. Be kind to it and listen to what it needs and wants. The more sensitive you become to the feedback and power of this incredible spiritual-biological miracle that you ride around in, the more it will support you in your quest for self-love and self-actualization.
Be mindful of your soul. Your soul craves your attention, so be kind and give it to her. Make a daily priority of nurturing your soul by practising presence and awareness with conscious breath and meditation. Eventually you will come to a point where this truth will become your default setting: first and foremost you are a spiritual being with a desire to be human and not the other way around.
2. Practise Compassion Toward Your Inner-self:
Compassion makes more sense when we think of it in relation to another person: we understand that the other is hurting and we soften our hearts to them as we concern ourselves with their well-being. We find it easy to accept them for who they are and where they are in the now. We suspend any impulse to be judgmental and we try to understand the history and choices that led them to their predicament. But what happens when you hurt? Do you jump to soften your own heart to your suffering, even if you can’t understand the reason for it all? Do you even want to help yourself?
What you need, just like everyone else, is acceptance, attention, and the permission to feel. Meet yourself where you are in this moment, don’t try to avoid your own suffering or discomfort. Quiet the harsh criticism and judgment from your mind; that voice is not helpful. Know that it’s not what you need and it will not help you heal. As you go within yourself, be the kindest and most compassionate person you can imagine.
3. Practise Forgiveness for Yourself: I’ve saved the hardest for last. We all know the importance of forgiving others: by letting go of anger and resentment, we not only release them but we free ourselves from negativity. But what about the things we need to forgive ourselves for? Nine years ago, I went to see a shamanic healer named Roland Bérard in Montreal. At one point he put me into a mild trance and I came face to face with myself as a little girl. I was drawn to look into her eyes and when I did, I began to cry. She was so beautiful, fierce, exuberant, strong, clear, funny, and so connected to spirit. I missed her deeply. After a moment her exuberance began to fade and her eyes revealed an intense sadness. She was only five years old and she was sad because I had left her behind. In my haste to grow up and live “properly” in this world I had turned my back on her. The feeling broke my heart.
I asked her to forgive me and she easily did. But the hardest part was yet to come. Roland invited me to forgive myself for having forgotten about her. I breathed through the shame and guilt I was holding. It was difficult and painful, but as I did the little girl and I began to merge back together and became one again. In the days and weeks after the session I began to realize that this unconscious guilt had been keeping me separate from innate parts of myself that were crucial to my path. The gesture of self-forgiveness was tremendous and I am so grateful to Roland for guiding me.
I invite you to try this quick exercise: look at yourself in the mirror and lock eyes with your reflection. Look into your eyes with kindness and tenderness, and breathe deeply as you do. Try to see the divine spark that is you, the light of the beautiful, fierce, exuberant, strong, clear, funny, little girl or boy that lives in you. Then, with each deep breath, soften your heart to your own light, to your divine essence. Allow yourself to accept all that you are, as you would accept an innocent child. Smile at yourself, and with your final three breaths, whisper: “I love you… I love you… I love you.”