All posts by Debra Moffitt

About Debra Moffitt

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of "Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life" and "Garden of Bliss". A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Discover more at her Awake in the World Website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

3 Ways to Dispel the Fear That’s Holding You Back

Sky & IAlmost everyone holds onto some fear. There’s fear that can kick in adrenaline to help you speed out of difficult situations like a near-miss accident. Then there’s the needless, energy draining kind of fear that holds us back and drains resources. This kind of fear keeps us from being who we are. It brings us to constrict and tighten shoulders, jaws and muscles when what we yearn to do is expand to be who we’re meant to be. This kind of emotional fear feels a bit like wearing a barbed wire fence. Every new move we try hurts. So what happens? We stop moving and get stuck.

How can anyone climb out of a barbed wire fence? Ouch! Is it possible to cut away the fear of pain and become free to move? Imagine taking a pair of heavy-duty wire-cutters and snap, snap, snap! In a few quick, efficient moves cut away every last, tight wire to free yourself up. It’s time to let go and express those heartfelt intentions and live the expansive life.

People who live in fear put up walls around themselves. They create armor so thick that nothing can get out or in. It’s time to tear down walls you may be aware of and take a risk. Do something that you’ve always dreamed of doing. This might be jump off the high dive at the pool, join Toastmasters and face fears of public speaking or simply tell someone you love them.

  1. First, recognize the fears that inhibit. Take a moment and reflect. What would you really love to do that you don’t do out of fear that you’ll be ridiculed, fear of failure or something else?
  2. Next, take a moment and imagine what’s the worst that could happen? Imagine success instead. If the desired leap of faith is not life threatening or harmful to anyone, take the next step.
  3. Dare to do what you dream. But don’t stick with the mental stuff. The mind sometimes creates demons that hang around and scare us into paralysis.

Moving into the heart, imagine joining the belly dance class and performing in public, or speaking those words to the one you love. If your aim is something big, like starting a business or appearing on a TV show, then work your way up to the big moment through learning about the process. Go back to school. Learn to manage, do interviews and express yourself in ways that unleash your positive creative energy. Get out and grow. The extraordinary mystical poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (better known simply as Goethe) wrote, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Enjoy the leap of faith!

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Debra Moffitt’s book, “Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life” will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in May 2011 (www.awakeintheworld.com).  Read more at www.debramoffitt.com Her essays and articles appear in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the spiritual in a mostly material-minded world.  She presents workshops in the U.S. and Europe.

 

Originally published January 2011

Peace Like Never Before: Awakening to Joy with Mark Nepo

Mark Nepo Final Front Cover Reduced to JoyThe things we need arrive at the right time, and so it has been with Mark Nepo and his work. For those of us on a spiritual path, Mark’s writings possess the power to immediately move us into connection with a subtle and powerful awareness at the deepest, most soulful level. Though Mark Nepo‘s writing has been with us for a while, it wasn’t until Oprah received a copy of Mark’s Book of Awakening through one of her staff assistants that it came to the notice of millions. This all happened at a critical time.

I first interviewed Mark around the time he’d just lost his day job and faced some health problems. At what seemed like one of his darker hours, Oprah also discovered Mark’s work, and that darkness turned to light as his book, which he’d written some ten years earlier, became a New York Times bestselling book. Oprah recently did two more interviews with him for upcoming shows from her home in Hawaii. Regarding all the success, Mark remains grateful but unfazed by the recognition of his work, and he continues to teach and practice presence in much the same way as before. I asked him to share some his recent experiences, as well as tell us more about his latest book, Reduced to Joy. He’s also offered us one of the poems from his book at the end of this post.

Debra Moffitt: You have written about awakening, silence, and finally joy. Reduced to Joy, your latest book of poems, feels like a culmination of your many years of spiritual connection. Are joy and bliss the final experiences that arrive on the spiritual journey?

Mark Nepo: I’m not sure there is any final experience to this mysterious journey. I think we continue to be brought closer and closer to the aliveness we carry. For me, joy is different than happiness. While happiness is a fleeting mood, joy is larger and more lasting than any one feeling. If each feeling is a wave of emotion, then joy is the ocean that holds all feelings. As I get older, I’m coming to realize that joy is central to our knowing peace. It’s one deep way that we access Oneness. I’m also beginning to see that joy is the hum of Oneness. It’s the sensation of being connected to life itself. Another way to speak of joy is to say that it’s the reward for facing our experience. Often, what keeps us from joy is the menacing assumption that life is happening other than where we are. So we are always leaving, running from or running to. What keeps us from joy, then, is often not being where we are and not valuing what is before us.

 Debra Moffitt: How did Reduced to Joy come into being?

Mark Nepo: Poems come slowly. They break surface like dolphins after long stretches of going under. So writing a book of poems for me is different than writing my other books. I have to sit when I’m able and try to make heart-sense of what life has been doing to me and with me. Like wringing out a sponge, I squeeze what matters onto the page, let it dry, and see what’s there the next day. One by one, they gather into an instructive whole. All this is to say that by trying to make sense of my own experience, I’ve discovered a theme to the journey, that we are all reduced to joy, worn away of all excess. To survive this, we often need to hold each other up in order to discover and return to what matters. This book explores these essential relationships, which keep shaping me.

Debra Moffitt: I love the title of your book. As your poem, “Where is God?” expresses, it seems that once all is stripped away there’s nothing more to obscure joy. Can you speak more to what joy is and is not and how we might know the difference? 

Mark Nepo: After all these years, I’m beginning to see that tranquility is the depth of being that holds what we think and feel, not the still point after we’ve silenced what we think and feel. Serenity is the depth of being that holds difficulty, not the resting point after we’ve ended difficulty. And peace is the depth of being that holds suffering and doubt, not the raft we climb on to avoid suffering and doubt. This leads us to joy, which is much deeper and larger than any one feeling. Happiness, fear, anxiety, contentment, doubt, regret, unworthiness, anger, despair—all these and more are the waves that rise and fall in the sea of being.

 Debra Moffitt: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers? 

Mark Nepo: These poems have been retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years. They have been my teachers about the nature of working with what we’re given till it wears us through to joy. My hope is that the poems in this book will serve as a threshold to an underlying connection to the greater life we are all a part of. I hope the book will be a resource for you when faced with the difficulties of living. I hope the poems will confirm that, no matter the struggle you find yourself in, you are not alone. May these poems be honest companions on the journey to joy.

A Poem from Reduced to Joy by Mark Nepo reprinted with his permission.

Where is God? 

 It’s as if what is unbreakable—
the very pulse of life—waits for
everything else to be torn away,
and then in the bareness that
only silence and suffering and
great love can expose, it dares
to speak through us and to us.
It seems to say, if you want to last,
hold on to nothing. If you want
to know love, let in everything.
If you want to feel the presence
of everything, stop counting the
things that break along the way.
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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Hot Summer Rituals to Celebrate the Solstice

242/365  SummerCan you feel the excitement in the air? The days are hot and sunny, and summer officially begins this week on June 21st. It’s the longest day and the shortest night in the Northern hemisphere. I love this day. In the South of France it’s celebrated by jumping over bonfires as a way to gain courage and embrace the power of light and fire. That tradition dates back to pagan times, long before the Catholic church arrived to taint it with negative views about the appreciation of nature and the power of the five elements.

There’s a whole history of rituals related to this day and ways to honor and capture some of the magic of this mystical portal into summer. For centuries people have gathered at Stonehenge to welcome the season. Author Deborah Blake who writes on magic and rituals says, “The earth is at its most fertile and life is bursting out all over.” She advises that this is the best time for magical work “for abundance, fertility, and any kind of growth.”

I love it both as a time that presents an opportunity to burn away the old habits and baggage that no longer serve. And at the same time it’s a moment where the whole world feels alive with the vibrant, radiant energy of sunlight. It feels like a time of great possibility and a moment to enjoy life to its fullest. In France the day often coincides with the “Fete de la Musique”, a country-wide music day where  you’ll find people playing harps on street corners, rock bands pound out a rhythm from pubs, and orchestras spontaneously set up in open squares to play under the rising moon.

How will you spend the solstice? Make a plan to turn it into a special day. Go to the beach for a picnic with your beau. Maybe create your own mini-bonfire in a jar and burn away obstacles or jump over it. Dance with girlfriends under the moon in a grove of trees. Paint or write on a project that your heart yearns for you to create. Kiss a loved one. Plant a tree. Join me at Esalen Institute June 21st-23rd for a magical writing retreat. Play! Happy summer.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

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photo by: martinak15

Intuitive Guidance 101: Daring to Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 10.10.29 AMStepping onto the spiritual path isn’t all peace and roses. It pushes us into a place that moves us beyond our usual comfort zone. As we attune to the highest within us and listen to inner guidance, that guidance sometimes pushes us to try new jobs, to stretch into new creative projects, and to sometimes to move to new places. Author, radio host and intuitive, Bernadette Dickinson experienced just that as her inner life awoke. She lived in Seattle, but over several years her dreams kept pointing to a move to Colorado. She says she worked in marketing, but a series of events occurred which acted like questions from the Universe that said, “Are you ready to move now?” Bernadette says, “I really wasn’t, but it quickly became clear that if I didn’t life was bound to get more difficult.”

She writes, “I took a week off to get clear on what needed to happen and make some choices. During that week, Spirit opened up the “plan” for me. After realizing I had a strong pull to go, I moved to Colorado. I was shown a general area and after 3 calls, rented a house with 2 acres over the phone. Within 3 days I was living in Colorado. I had no idea what I was going to do for work, how I was going to make it or even what the area was like. It took a huge leap of faith but, 13 years later I am living on that same piece of property. I built a 3300 sq ft house, a greenhouse, and am raising dairy goats, chickens and I produce a lot of our family’s food.”

I asked her “How do you reconcile the difference between spirit and the part of you that doesn’t want to follow that inner guidance?” I love Bernadette’s response. She says:

“I’ve been resisting spirit a good part of my life. I was born a natural clairvoyant and clairaudient. Being raised in a Christian home, these gifts were not honored. I kept my gifts hidden as much as possible, and it caused me a lot of turmoil. Throughout my life I found, when I listened to spirit and did what I was told, things went really smoothly. When I resisted, there were so many obstacles, so much struggle. When I’m in resistance to spirit’s urgings I tend to get very depressed and sad. I start getting physically ill and things around me start to malfunction. It’s fairly easy to reconcile my ego desires at this point, due to the intense lessons I’ve endured resisting Spirit.”

I asked her some more questions to help us understand how to work with inner guidance. Here’s the short Q&A

Q: How do you receive inner guidance?

Bernadette Dickinson: Sometimes I get guidance in dreams, very lucid dreams. At other times, messages come through visions. I meditate a lot, during that silence Spirit can easily speak to me. I tend to have warnings show up in very unusual but obvious ways when I’m going in the wrong direction.

Q: I love your comment: “If you think the spiritual path is boring, you are way wrong.” Please speak more to this.

BD:  We tend to think of spirituality as a burdensome practice. It is just the opposite. I learned many years ago that if I make my spiritual walk the priority, everything lines up perfectly. I’ve learned so much about the workings of the Universe by focusing on spiritual growth. It never bores me to learn and experience miracles. It’s quite exciting to ask for guidance or assistance from Spirit, knowing that the answers will come in the most profound, unexpected ways. When you ask for assistance, suddenly someone shows up in your life experience that is just what you need. When you ask for guidance, things start appearing to give you that guidance. It can be an email, a phone call, a road sign. The Universe is unlimited, likewise, the experience of Spirit working in our lives is unlimited.

Q: You said that part of us tends to create drama. Which part is this? How does that happen to you?

BD: As humans, we are programmed to operate from our ego mind. When we are unaware or unconscious of the ego, we tend to create emotional fixes that show up in the form of immediate gratification. When we are disconnected from self and spirit, we feel like something’s missing. We feel empty, sad and experience a deep sense of longing. The ego wants to soothe that, giving us ideas of filling that void with things outside of ourselves. We think we need to focus on something outside of ourselves, be it food, sex, attainment of physical things. We create a false connection and immediately feel lack, disconnection, discontent. Rather then redirect ourselves to our soul self, we reach outside again, repeating the same cycle of distraction and disconnection. It’s a vicious cycle, damaging our bodies, hurting others and even the environment.

Our soul longs for connection, a knowledge of self and source/god. When we override the ego, quiet the mind, our inner guidance directs us to what we really need. Once we make the connection to self, we are able to observe our emotions, thoughts and desires from a place that allows us to make a deep connection to all that is. In those moments, the “needs/desires” dissipate and we realize we have no need of anything outside of ourselves.

I tend to create drama when I’m overwhelmed. Something happens or it doesn’t, I instantly want to react by “doing” something to fix what is happening. I find when I’m not grounded, I emotionally react to things and blow them up with words, accusations, fears. If I’m bored and what an emotional fix, I might start an argument with someone. It’s crazy to me, that we are so attracted to emotional drama. When I feel the urge to create any kind of drama, I know it’s time to stop, get quiet, and check in with my inner guidance to see what’s really going on. Once I identify the internal cause, I can calmly follow the guidance to peace.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Bernadette Dickinson: There is so much I’d like to share with others. Most of all, I want everyone to know they have the power to create their own reality. They have power to make deep connections that are real. Life is very exciting and fulfilling when we have faith in Divine guidance. It becomes peaceful, joyful and ever expanding.

Bernadette’s website is www.bernadettesvision.com.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery”. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

“Hugging Saint” Amma on a Quest to Embrace the World

Amma, also known as the hugging saint, is one of India’s many examples of tolerance, selfless service, and unconditional love. For those who don’t know her, she travels around the world and hugs people. This may seem like something that just anyone can do. At least this is what I thought when a group of friends first suggested we travel together to see her. But once we arrived at the hall where she sat, a thousand people were lined up waiting quietly for her to hug them for a few seconds. “So what’s the big deal?” my little mind thought. Then I stood along with the others and watched as Amma hugged every person and sometimes whole families together at the same time.

“So what’s the big deal?” The answer is that she embraces everyone. I watched her embrace people of all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all religions. The people who came to her included big, burly men, tiny old women, children, teens, and adults of all kinds of backgrounds. Many of them – like me – probably didn’t even know why they were there. The more I watched, the more I saw an example of divinity. Who else could embrace absolutely everyone and turn no one away? Who else could have the energy to hug literally a thousand people and still look fresh and vibrant, and give a discourse on spiritual practice after that?

Amma says, “A continuous stream of love flows from me to all of creation. This is my inborn nature. The duty of a doctor is to treat patients. In the same way, my duty is to console those who are suffering.” Her watch words are about love and service, and Amma is often found with her devotees working to move bricks or clear garbage. For years she has served India’s poor and asked for nothing in return. When asked how she does it she says the energy to do the work comes from the Divine Source. Though she has been doing her work since childhood, she recently appeared in the New York Times, and I have written about her in my book, Awake in the World as well. As the world searches for extraordinary examples and meaning, people like Amma are being revealed in public for their powerful messages through example. It has been a few years since I was embraced by Amma, but it’s an experience that is not to be missed. Even just witnessing the gathering or hearing her speak is a treat. She’s on her annual North American tour this summer and you can find out more at amma.org.

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Join Debra at her workshop at Esalen Institute, Journey into the Secret Garden: Writing from Dreams and Inspiration.                            

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld

Cultivating Joy That Lasts Longer Than Chocolate

2413036973_184907341d_bHappiness is eating a delicious chocolate bar. It’s a physical pleasure that lasts a very short time. What if you could find something akin to happiness, only deeper and longer lasting? Kind of like a permanent orgasm? Would you want some? Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It’s a spiritual experience that comes from within. Joy is like an amped-up shade of happiness that doesn’t depend so much on senses or outer experiences. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of spiritual life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature. If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there?

One way to begin is to experience joy is through cultivating your inner sacred space. I call this place the secret garden. It’s a good place to plant seeds that can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of bliss. Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include the hard work of self-inquiry, a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting. One of my favorite ways to cultivate bliss in my secret garden is through consciously choosing guiding values.

Values are like seeds. They may include peace, kindness, generosity, joy, determination, patience, and more. When we choose the seeds we want to grow more of in our life, we can begin to cultivate them both inside during meditation and also through actions in our daily lives. Will the seeds you plant today lead to joy?

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Register to win copy of Debra’s new book, Garden of Bliss on Goodreads.

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Ten Days With Tetanus: Why We Need to Question Vaccines

Vacuna influenza / Flu vaccineThere is growing controversy around vaccines. A weighty social contingent claims that they are beneficial and necessary. While that may be true in some circumstances, a recent experience with a tetanus cocktail that included diphtheria and polio is making me question mainstream attitudes. About two weeks ago a doctor gave me a shot of the vaccine as standard procedure. I didn’t question her assumption that I needed it. I simply accepted it. She injected it into my back just beneath the shoulder blade.

The area remained tender for days, but I assumed it was just part of the process. I felt progressively worse, but again I didn’t connect it with the vaccine. As the week wore on my hands, forearms, and shoulders became increasingly tense. I massaged, stretched, rubbed, did yoga – all of the usual things that keep my writer’s hands and body in good shape every day. But nothing helped and the tension grew progressively worse and my muscles seemed permanently contracted.

After ten days I was in such pain that I cried. Holding a pen to write became a painful challenge. My hands were curled up in tension; the muscles in my forearms burned. Then I did some research on tetanus, the disease. Tetanus contracts the muscles and affects the nerves. Wikipedia describes it as “a medical condition characterized by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibers. The primary symptoms are caused by tetanospasmin, a neurotoxin…” It affects the nerves and cause tightening and pain. My muscles were reacting as if I had the disease. It is one of the more painful physical experiences I’ve known. To clear it I requested a detox with renowned energy healer, Deena Spear, a Barbara Brennan Healing School graduate and author of Ears of the Angels. In about an hour most of the pain was gone, the muscles relaxed, and my hands stopped hurting. The pain hasn’t returned.

As I read up on vaccines and on the controversy surrounding them I read that tetanus requires pretty dirty and infected conditions to grow in a body. Much of the fear of tetanus grew particularly during the civil war when disinfecting and treating wounds properly posed big challenges. The rusty nail legend that I grew up with, where a scratch from a nail can send you into convulsive, lock-jawed fits, seems pretty far from the reality.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control reveals their data on tetanus. From 2001 to 2008  233 cases of tetanus were reported. “Average annual incidence during that period was 0.10 per 1 million population overall and 0.23 among persons aged ≥65 years,” according to the CDC. The CDC continues, “Among the 92 patients for whom tetanus toxoid-containing (TT) vaccination status was available, 37 (40.2%) had received no doses of TT vaccine. Thirty (15.4%) of 195 patients had diabetes, and 27 (15.3%) of 176 were IDUs (injection drug users). For 51 patients with an acute wound and a surveillance report complete enough to evaluate tetanus prophylaxis, 49 (96.1%) had not received appropriate prophylaxis [wound care]. Tetanus remains a rare but life-threatening disease in the United States.”

I don’t know about the other contents of the vaccine (including aluminum hydroxide and formaldehyde — I kept the box!), but I do know that what was injected into my body felt incredibly debilitating and painful. And yet similar injections are given to children everyday. I am certainly no medical expert and each individual must make their own choices about what to do with vaccinations. My personal experience and research reveal that it’s time to reflect on the societal norms and look deeper at their necessity, and I will certainly think twice before doing it again.

Many of the unsanitary conditions that society faced under the threat of those diseases are virtually non-existent now. Perhaps it’s time to question the wisdom of indiscriminately accepting vaccines as the norm, begin to explore their use in a more discerning way — and examine their contents with more rigor. I’m happy to report that through the energy healing detox, I am back to the keyboard and the pain and muscle contractions have ceased. It’s up to you to explore your own experiences and recognize what is right for you. But be sure to do the research and think for yourself.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Let’s Walk Together for World Labyrinth Day!

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMay 4th is Labyrinth Day and a good opportunity to circle inward to your Self and spend some time focusing on oneness. Proclaimed world Labyrinth Day by the Labyrinth Society, it’s an opportunity to become familiar with this spiritual practice of walking on a guided path into the center and following the same path back out on the return. Labyrinths are not mazes. Mazes are like giant puzzles which aim to get you lost and make you find a way out. Labyrinths like the ancient one at Chartres Cathedral in France, have one circular path inward the winds toward the center.

For people who have a challenge with sitting meditations, labyrinths are good ways do meditation in movement with a conscious focus on breath and a slow steady pace. This Saturday, the focus will be on oneness. That can mean many things. If we can become one within ourselves — body, mind, and spirit – that will be a step forward in creating harmony and oneness in the world.

To find a labyrinth in your area go to the online labyrinth locator. The Labyrinth Society encourages people to walk together at 1 p.m. If you can’t find a labyrinth to walk then download one to trace with a pencil or use a finger labyrinth to trace with the finger. It can be a beneficial and soothing exercise that is said to bring balance and harmony to the one who does this ancient practice. Happy walking!

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Photo credit: PrimalBeauty

How to Connect With Your Inner Secret Garden of Joy

shutterstock_57647326-436x270If you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy you have not yet begun to live. – Thomas Merton

Everyone wants to find happiness, but what if there is something deeper, something more lasting? Happiness is good. It’s a wonderful feeling that comes from buying a new dress or eating an ice cream cone. It may be connected with having physical desires met, but happiness can be fleeting and temporary.

Joy dives deeper and lasts longer. It touches into the spiritual and comes from within. Bliss is the ultimate harvest of spiritual life. It’s an experience that transcends the physical and according to wisdom traditions, it is our true nature.

If you want to find that path through the shades of happiness and joy to bliss, how do you get there? One way to begin is to cultivate your inner secret garden, that sacred space within you where  the seeds you plant can be cultivated and grow into a harvest of joy.

Some essential tools that help to dig deep and tend the inner garden include a regular meditation practice, a dedication to pay attention to and act on the guidance of your inner gardener – that higher, wiser part of you that is Divine – and a yearning to get rid of inner junk and pests that stand in the way. This junk is often old stuff from the past, including attitudes and habits that may have served us well at one time, but now just get in the way and hold us back. It’s time to let go of these and grow into the new life that’s waiting.

* * *

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, May 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

Cooking with Love: How to Practice Mindfulness in the Kitchen

12/365Many mindfulness practices are done in yoga studios or meditation rooms where everything is designed to be calm and peaceful. This is a nice way to begin the practice of meditation, but real meditation starts to take place when it’s intimately integrated into daily life. What better place to start than in the kitchen?!

The kitchen offers one of the best and most creative places for practicing mindfulness. Turning a meal into a meditation experience can be a beneficial way to observe the mind, explore challenges, and also sow love into a meal designed for yourself, your family or a friend. When viewed as play, it can also bring fun into the practice and keep it light and joyful rather than dour and serious. But more than that it can be an opportunity to consciously cook with love.

In ancient traditions it’s said that the cook transmits subtle properties of his or her thoughts and emotions into the food. To avoid being contaminated by the world, monks would cook their own food or take something with them when they traveled away from the monastery.

Walter Danzer, founder of Soyana, a natural foods company located in Switzerland takes the ancient practices to heart. Food cooked with love provides nutrition for body, mind and spirit. It gives the added “soul nutrients” that don’t come from factory made, processed foods. Ever have that longing for mom’s homemade dishes? Baked, sweet yams, persimmon pudding, cheesecake or even simple corn on the cob? Sometimes the store brought varieties can be found, but they still leave an unsatisfied feeling.

Danzer said he and his staff experienced this first hand when they all ate a meal at a restaurant and all of them awoke with nightmares. From that time Danzer dedicated himself to providing foods made in the most uplifting environment. Danzer and his employees realize the importance of peaceful surroundings for food preparation. All of Soyana’s employees meditate regularly and consciously bring the energy of love into their work and food handling. The result has been a successful company that exports to Germany and continues to expand with new product lines and creative ideas.

With these reflections in mind, try making a conscious meal and bringing in that delectable energy of love. Chop the zucchini with careful attention. The mind will want to wander to other things, but gently bring it back. Enjoy the creative joy of being present in the kitchen.

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Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery”. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.

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