Harness Your Horse!

ImageHappy New Year! 

Today begins the Chinese Year of the Yang Wood Horse.  Bold, creative, passionate and engaged.  Yang wood energy building through the fiery, impulsive, intuitive and heart-centered passion of the horse.  It’s time to get to harness your heart’s longings and get to business in joyful, galloping style!!!

This Chinese New Year marks what is probably the biggest shift in energies within the entire 60 year cycle of the Chinese calendar.  We have emerged out of two intense, deconstructive, highly emotive and shadow-filled water years into the new growth of Wood and the passionate stamina of Horse.  Last year’s Water Snake forced a profound shedding of skins, a decent into soul shadow and a dissolution of false (egoic) identities and securities at the deepest level.  The preceding Water Dragon year saw a global rebellion against the status quo in the name of love, justice and social responsibility.  It also saw many of these movements smashed by the dragonic energies of established authority, causing yet deeper questioning.  So, if you feel like these last two years systematically took you apart and handed you humble pie, you’ve been perfectly positioned by the universe to engage these new energy in high, fresh style.

If you’ve “lost yourself” a bit in the wash cycle, don’t worry.  Here’s why:  When a snake sheds it’s skin, even the skin over the eyes sheds.  During this time, the skin becomes and opaque shroud, and the snake can’t see.  Trust that you’ve shed those final layers.  Like the snake, who was temporarily blinded, open your new eyes. See yourself anew, as the awesome, totally capable person you really are.  With the added humility, depth and realism the last two years have given you, you are prepared to offer your gifts with greater maturity and strengthened heart.   And, because you can see (and feel) clearly now, be sure to clean closets, finish unfinished business and move through those old locked energies – now. 

This is a year to feed emergent growth, trust intuition, ride creative momentum, and engage the heart stamina of the horse. 

 

Image3 Affirmations For the Year of the Yang Wood Horse:

 

1.)  My freedom and response-ability are one.

To be fully alive means to be able-to-respond.  The ability to respond is what distinguishes those who are and who are not free.  The Yang Horse embodies the intersection of freedom and responsibility – the place where our capacity to be in the world, building, creating, engaging passionately with others through visions for a better world – intersects our sensation of freedom – the wild pull of passion on the sinew of our souls. 

 

2.)  I create because I can and because I have to.

All the energies of the world are aligned to support sustained, heart-centered action.  When the universe is aligned in this way, it is doubly painful not to be engaged.  Don’t fight it.  Jut do it.  It’s going to be ridiculously fun.  Sub-affirmation:  I’ve got the reigns.  I can do it!

 

3.)  My heart and mind are in perfect alignment.

The Yang (or Green) Horse is an impulsive, intuitive and deeply feeling creature of fire moving through a building cycle of Wood. Let your horse heart gallop delightedly towards your highest visions with strength and surety.  This energy is too strong to be dominated by mind, but are happily harnessed through the structural, coherent energy of wood. 

 

It’s going to be a great year.  Trust your naked heart, set a clear course, and GET BUSY.  Connect with other in the happy heard.  The universe is supporting your big, bold, dreams and manifestations NOW.

 

 

Love,

Samantha

True confessions: living and loving with pain

ImageSo, here’s a confession.

Today, I’m working with one of the deepest teachers of my life:

Chronic pain.

This isn’t a teacher I’ve talked about a lot. 

It’s not glamorous or attractive.

It isn’t a teacher I wanted to have.

Pain never is.

But, today, I’m waking up for the umpteenth morning with enough pain in my hands, wrists and elbows that just lifting a glass of water is excruciating.  Aaack!  I live on a farm, these days.  I love it.  We do tons of things with or hands.  Our hands make the farm work.  And… my hands just don’t know how to do it, some days.

Pain like this has been a significant teacher for long periods of my life.  It’s been so bad at times that it’s made me wonder if I would die, or live the rest of my life curled into a grumpy, crabbed ball.  It’s scary and frustrating and un-fun, and it makes it challenging to be the happy, capable, engaged person I like to be.  In this, it’s forced me to look at my deepest stories about what matters, who I think I “should” be, and to move consciously towards loving solutions.  It’s been my deepest teacher about self forgiveness, acceptance and loving what is.  It’s shown me how to “show up” even when showing up is difficult.  It’s been a driving factor in my commitment to yoga, dance, healthy eating, personal development and prayer.  It’s one of the main reasons why I have such strong discipline to maintain and sustain my practices. 

They make my life liveable.

So, today I am practicing what I preach about the value of authenticity by sharing this experience. 

Because, I know I’m not alone.

If you deal with pain, here are a few things to do:

  • Keep doing what you love.  Find gentle, modified ways to do whatever it is that you love to do.  Do the deep ego work you need to do around how you do those things.  If you can’t push as hard, run as strong, or do things as fast as you want, that’s a part of the teaching to be present with what is and embrace change.  Maybe there is a creative opportunity to enjoy new rhythms, subtlety or depth?
  • Seek company.  Don’t isolate.  Share with significant others and friends.  Take the risk to be vulnerable and seen.  Chronic pain is often invisible, so don’t make yourself invisible in your experience.
  • Move.  Yoga, dance, hiking, swimming.  Find your “thing” that you can do, and do it.  Stasis loves stasis.  Health loves movement.  Choose health.
  • Feel all your feelings.  Find a safe space with a coach, therapist, healer or within ceremony, to feel all your feelings about what is going on for you.  Underneath chronic pain are often deep past traumas or issues of self love and self worth.  Your significant other or friends may or may not be able to hold the charge of your feelings, respect them fully, or not take them personally.  So, make sure you have at least one person or space that can hold you in the totality of your experience.
  • Practice Gratitude.  Yes.  It’s still true, you have a life, a body, a human heart.  And, it is possible, on some level, to love the pain, because it is showing you just how much you love your life.  Even now, as I write this, in the power of the word, my experience of my own pain is shifting. 
  • Choose your mood.  Loving in the face of pain is deep practice.  Pain twists your mind.  So, it becomes a deep practice of mindfulness to recognize that the pain is not you so you can reside in awake awareness and choose the set-point of your mood.  This does not mean being inauthentic.  It means the mind is your most powerful ally in how you receive your own experience and move outwards into the world.
  • Remove inflammatory foods from of your diet.  Start with nightshades:  potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers.  Other possible culprits:  caffeine, alcohol, gluten, soy, sugar, impure water (that includes water from any plastic bottle).
  • Seek natural beauty.  Sunlight, warm ocean water and hot springs.  Period.

These are not, of course, clinical recommendations.  Depending on what you are dealing with, different kinds of dietary, holistic and/or medical support may be needed. 

But, the thing is, pain or no pain, the reason we’re here is to love.  I gotta live my life one way or the other, and I intend to love it.  So, today I’m making an even bigger commitment to embrace the teaching of this cycle of pain and to reach into myself and towards my community and loved ones to stay connected, stay real, and heal. 

And, if this speaks to you, I’m with you.  Let’s live!

Love,

Samantha

 

6 Tips to Make Your 2014 Resolutions Real

Image

If you’re like me (and at least 50% of Americans) It’s likely that you’ve been dancing into New Year resolutions.  (Yay for positive growth and self-care!) 

 

This time of year is a great time for renewed commitment.  But, it turns out that 88% of Americans fail at meeting their New Year resolutions.   

 

Why?   

 

(What interests me about my resolutions – and yours – is what might cause us to succeed in keeping them.  So, I’ve done some research into the science.)

 

It turns out that motivation doesn’t function in terms of broad goals.  Our brains just get overwhelmed when we tell ourselves to do things like “loose weight,” “work smarter,” “eat healthier.”   

We are hard wired to change incrementally – in specific, manageable ways.   

 

In my coaching practice and in the practice of Dancing Freedom, which is a practice of self development and liberation, I like to say, “Non-specificity is a form of sabotage.”    In other words: 

 

We need to be specific about what we want to change, create, let go of or begin, if we are going to succeed in living the lives we want for ourselves. 

 

Here are 5 tips for making commitments to yourself for the coming year (or any time of year) that stick. 

 

1.)  Focus on intrinsic rather than extrinsic goals.  

We are more deeply motivated by goals that come from inside – goals like feeling good, having more intimacy, practicing gratitude or connecting with wild nature.  External goals – like looking good, having more friends or making more money – set us up to fail in our own eyes and in the eyes of the projected “other” who we are trying to please. 

 

2.) Be specific rather than general.

Get very clear about the habit you want to change, rather than setting a generalized goal.  Examples:

 

General resolution:  Dance more.

Specific habit:  I dance twice times a week – once on Sundays and at least one other class or event. 

General resolution:  Eat healthy.

Specific habit:  I make a green smoothie every morning instead of coffee and toast (yummm!).

General resolution:  Get in shape.

Specific habit:  I take a power walk every morning after finishing the kid’s breakfast and my first round of to-dos.

General resolution:  Manage stress.

Specific habit:  I take 5 minutes every morning to breathe and pray before I do anything else. 

 

3.) One goal rather than a life-makeover.  

Decide the one thing that is most important to you, then focus on that.  Example:  I’m focusing on radiant health.  This also supports me in secondary goals around spiritual practice, fitness, diet and stress management.  

 

4.) Doable rather than crazy ambitious.

Similarly, choose something you can actually DO, rather than thin about while you feel shameful and guilty that you’re not doing it.  My to-do is to exercise at least 5 days a week in a way that gives me joy (dance, yoga, hiking, riding my bike).

 

5.) Notice and affirm.

When you DO that one, doable thing, make sure you a.) notice yourself doing it and b.) affirm yourself for doing it.  This creates a positive loop in the brain that allows the habit to stick.  (It turns out that we are not that different from Pavlov’s dogs.)

 

6.) Create accountability.

Write down your goals or tell a few friends or loved ones who are willing to check in with you on a regular basis about your progress.

 

I hope this helps you focus your intentions and resolutions for the coming year.  As I move into my own intention of RADIANT HEALTH, I hope to see you in the dance!  

 

Love,  

Samantha

 

I found this useful, too.  🙂