Let’s get liberated!
I don’t know about you, but ooof, I’m feeling in need of some lightness in my life and what better way than to talk about our 7th or crown chakra – which is all about our connection to GUS (God / Universe / Source/Soul/Spirit) and seeing things from the perspective of an eagle WAY above the internal stories and details of our everyday lives. It’s how we can see ourselves from a different perspective and it’s all about liberation baby! Those little moments of enlightenment when everything clicks into place and suddenly we know what we need to do.
The shadow of this chakra is attachments. Death teaches us about attachments by reminding us what’s really important and deserving of our attention and what we can safely let go of. That’s why I like using death as a tool to see how I’m living. To see where I might be clinging to a plan that isn’t destined for me.
This is one of the silver linings of the pandemic. We all felt the cool brush of death on our shoulders and it forced us to re-evaluate how we’re living. I want to be the living example of the bumper sticker that I bought that says, “Destined to be an old woman with no regrets”.
If death helps us see our attachments clearly, it makes sense to start at the end, to imagine my 90-yr-old self and what she’d say to me now. I think she’d remind me to work less and live more. Be patient with myself. Relish long weekends in nature. Cherish belly laughter with friends. And stay open and receptive (a.k.a. stop white-knuckling life). I think she’ll be proud of the work that I’m doing and the times I’ve followed my heart despite the fear.
Your turn, let’s use Death to check-in and see how you’re living now. Grab a pen and journal or simply take a moment to ponder these questions.
What would 90-year-old you want you to remember?
Is there anything that needs to change now so that you can look back and feel proud of how you spent your time here on earth?
Are there any areas of your life you’re neglecting or over-extending yourself? How can you bring yourself back into alignment?
Need some inspiration? Here are the top 5 regrets of the dying (aka things to avoid)…
1. Not living the life I wanted
Close your eyes and take 3 slow deep breaths. Place your hand on your heart. What is the most fearless and beautiful life you can imagine? What’s one small step you can take towards that life today?
2. Not working so hard
I think napping is one of my superpowers but for years resting felt self-indulgent. A luxury I couldn’t afford. I think the Italians are onto something with il dolce far niente “the sweetness of nothing”. It’s the ability to completely savour a moment without feeling guilty or worrying about your to-do list. It’s grabbing a cup of tea to watch the sunset and listen to the crickets sing. Do you need more moments of sweet nothingness in your life? How can you cultivate more time for life (and less work) even if it’s just a cup of tea at sunset?
3. Stay in touch with friends
I think we need this more than ever after the last 18 months. Whether it’s safely gathering with friends on a patio or a regularly scheduled Zoom chat with your bestie or simply calling, texting or reviving the art of letter writing (let’s bring letters back!). It’s our friends that help us make sense of life when everything feels hard and amplify our joy when it’s sweet.
4. Courage to express my feelings more
This one can be difficult because sharing our emotions with others feels vulnerable. If this is challenging for you, start with people who know and love you best and slowly expand from there. Do some journaling around which emotions feel safe to express and which ones feel unsafe? Get curious and follow the threads back to where those rules started ‘cause maybe it’s time to edit them. And if you’re already a pro at expressing your emotions then play with the HOW – explore a new creative outlet like art or dance or acting or photography and share it.
5. Let myself be happier
I think we need to be cautious of labeling happiness as an end goal. It’s an emotion; it comes and goes like every other emotion and we are meant to feel them ALL. What if we simply vow to slow down and embrace “happy” when it shows up, however it shows up, as quiet contentment, overflowing joy or exuberance and every flavour of “happy” in-between?
How we make life harder
One of the quickest ways to erode our joy and interrupt our happiness is arguing with reality. When we start focusing on what “should” have happened or how others “should” have acted (a.k.a. attachments) we get caught up in disappointments and frustrations.
Right now it seems like there are more things than ever to divide us from each other and our joy (vaccination status, lockdowns, masking, social justice and climate justice have all become polarizing). It’s easy for both sides to sit in their “right” corner (trust me, I have one too) and blame others for why the world is the way it is.
Here’s what I know about blame…
- It doesn’t change what is or what happened
- It doesn’t help us work together and move forward
- It makes people defensive which means they dig in their heels and double down on being “right”
- It leaves us angry, unhappy, frustrated and…exhausted
- It gives us an excuse to ignore OUR responsibilities (it’s not my fault, if only they would…)
- It’s also not helpful or productive to blame God, the Universe, karma or bad luck
I get it, it’s wayyyy easier to blame because then YOU don’t have to do the work or change anything. You just get to sit and wait and be the victim of your circumstances.
But if you’re able to recognize your role in whatever happened, YOU can take the power back and empower yourself to make/be the change you wish to see.
Harder? Yes. More rewarding? Hell yes. Does feeling empowered about how you live your life make life more enjoyable and fulfilling? Double hell yes!
We ONLY have control over how we RESPOND to life (as much as we wish we could just pull everyone into line). We need to meet our world and each other as we are even when it’s hard, rather than pointing fingers because things are not as we wish them to be. Hold the vision for a better world – yes absolutely AND work with the reality of what is. Do the work (inner and outer) to make change happen – hell yes AND understand what you can and cannot control.
When things feel uncertain and out of control it’s easy to jump out of your lane and try to control ev-er-y-thing and ev-er-y-one.
I see this with grievers all the time because grief brings uncertainty and we want to take care of everyone around us (if they feel better, we’ll feel better) so we try to manage their experience with grief.
- How will the kids react?
- Why isn’t he crying?
- What if she relapses?
But here’s the thing, just like with blame, you can only do your own grief work. It’s when we step out of our lane and focus on what “should” happen that we get attached to outcomes we can’t control and that can trip us up if things don’t unfold the way we want them to.
Yes, you can support others, be a heart with ears or point them in the direction of someone who can help (like me!). But you cannot do their grieving for them.
You can share your experiences, share your favourite resources and tools (like I’m about to), give insight or suggestions (if they’re asked for) but whether or not someone takes that advice is not up to you. So let it go. You did your best. This is their path to walk.
If we want to spend more time in the vicinity of happiness and less in anger, frustration, worry and blame then we have to stay in our own lane and work on ourselves. Think of how hard it is to change ourselves, let alone someone else with their own values and beliefs and life experiences! STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.
How to help yourself
Whether you’re healing from trauma and triggers. Whether your nervous system is feeling extra sensitive from all the divisiveness and tragedies happening in our world. Or if you’re grieving and feeling disconnected from yourself and GUS there are practices we can embrace that help with everything we’re going through. And maybe help us find that eagle-eye perspective of the crown chakra that shrinks problems down to size.
If the idea of emptying your mind feels impossible, you’re not alone. Luckily there are an infinite number of ways to meditate. It’s really just about finding calm amidst the chaos. And just like travelling somewhere new, the path to peace is a little bumpy and hard to find at first but the more you travel there the easier it is to find your way back.
- You can use guided meditations
- You can use a mantra and mala
- You can walk in nature and pay attention to the birds you hear and the way the sunlight filters through the leaves
- You can simply place your hands on your heart and slow down your breath
The breath is one of the most powerful and simple tools we have to release emotions and manage stress. It can be as simple or as complex as you like. It can be done on its own or combined with meditation and visualization.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Try to make your exhale longer than your inhale to help relax the mind and body. See if you can stretch your exhale out a little more each time. You can also think of emotions you’d like to release on the exhale to move them through your body (i.e. frustration, confusion, anxiety, etc.)
Box breathing (done by Navy Seals and yogis alike) helps to focus the mind and is especially helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold for 4. Exhale for 4. Hold for 4. And repeat. Kind of like you’re drawing a box in your mind’s eye.
Alternate nostril breathing – bring your right hand up to your nose and place your forefinger and middle finger on your 3rd eye (space between your eyebrows) so they’re out of the way. Then place your thumb on your right nostril. Plug your right nostril and inhale completely through your left nostril. Exhale completely through your left nostril. Switch sides. Plug your left nostril with your ring finger. Inhale and exhale completely through your right nostril. And keep switching. You can also do it like a boomerang by inhaling through one nostril and then plug it and exhale through the other nostril. Keep this practice in mind as cold and flu season approaches – it helps to clear the airways and helps clear headaches too!
When you’re ready…
These breathing exercises are a little more complex but the results can be amazing.
Breath of fire. Here’s a YouTube video walking you through it. This is thought to improve brain function (see how you feel after trying it!) and respiratory health as well as aid digestion.
Wim Hoff breathing method. You can check it out on YouTube and if you love it he has an app (paid) with breathing exercises and the other pillars of his method.
Ananda Mandala combines breathwork, visualization, meditation and chanting and takes you through each of the chakras. You can find the intro (how to) + meditation on YouTube or listen here on Apple Music.
How do you love to move your body? Any movement practice can become meditative or help shift energy and emotions through your body.
- HIIT class/ barre class (does anyone remember step classes? Just me?)
- Tai chi/ Qigong
- dancing/ pole dancing
Some days it’s a cathartic release of all the emotions you’ve been holding in. Some days it’s raucous and joyful. Some days it’s about managing stress and some days it’s simply taking time to connect with and feel your body.
It might seem counterintuitive but sometimes the best way to connect with GUS, rise above the daily details and see ourselves from a new perspective is to get into our bodies. Breathe and move and express ourselves. Because the more you let the “shoulds” go, release your attachment to controlling the outcome and let ALL your sh*t move through you the faster you find your way back to happiness and a life your 90-yr-old self will be proud of.
p.s. Do you know someone who needs to hear this? Here’s the link to share. Then, remember what they do with it is not up to you. 😉