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Category: Spiritual Journey

The Grace of the Journey

The Grace of the Journey

Maybe it’s a little strange, but I can’t resist heading outdoors with my camera on frigid, winter mornings to photograph a frosty landscape. It’s so thrilling that I almost don’t even feel the cold!

I captured the above image at the beginning of a recent period of brutally cold weather. The weather forecast for upcoming days looked much the same as the conditions that morning, but I was surprised to wake up the next few mornings to no frost whatsoever. Apparently, it was too cold! In fact, it got so cold in the past week that I didn’t take my camera outside at all. Morning temperatures were around -20° F, without windchill!

However, one morning at the end of the deep freeze, Jack showed me an incredibly beautiful video of soap bubbles freezing. (He should have known better.) The frost forming on the bubbles was enchanting, and I remembered that ever since my children were little, I’d wanted to try blowing bubbles when it was well below 0° outdoors. Finally (now that my youngest is 20), the conditions were right. 

So I mixed up a DIY soap bubble solution and headed outdoors with my reluctant assistant who no doubt regretted showing me the video. He blew the bubbles, and I attempted to photograph them. It wasn’t easy! Even though they didn’t pop when they hit the ground, they were like weightless, speedy tumbleweeds! There was a slight breeze, and whenever I tried to scoot a little closer to them to get a better shot, they rolled around too fast for me to catch up with them.

It was brutally cold that morning, close to -30°. Too cold for people and cameras to be outdoors for more than a few minutes, so I didn’t have much time to work with. In the narrow window of opportunity, I managed to get a few shots – but definitely felt the cold!

When Mother Nature doesn’t deliver, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and make the best of it. Whatever gets you through the winter!

This morning, for the first time in a while, I noticed some frosted trees in a certain area along the river. I had a plan: I’d snowshoe to the dam, which was next to the frosted trees, for a good view. I hadn’t photographed frosted trees from that spot yet.

So I started on the path but was delayed because I noticed glistening, frosty branches low to the ground along the river and couldn’t resist stopping for a closer look. I spent the next half hour or so photographing the delicate, feathered frost on low branches and noticed that, viewed through my macro lens, the frost resembled ferns and trees.

By the time I made it to the dam, there was no more frost left on the trees. However, I sat on a rock and appreciated the warmth of the sun on my face. After a string of such brutally cold days when the air hurt my face, it was a pleasure not to take for granted.

As I sat on the rock, I realized my morning walk was a metaphor for how I want to journey through life. You can have a destination in mind, but be sure to enjoy the journey! After all, we spend more hours working toward goals than we do attaining them, right? And when we achieve a goal, there’s always a new one to work toward. So we’re constantly working toward something.

But what do we miss along the way when we’re focused on a particular outcome? I thought of all the times I was on the river stalking herons or bald eagles, determined to paddle back home with a decent photograph but missing so many other opportunities along the way – like turtles, dragonflies, or the reflection of sunlight on the surface of the water projected onto the trees so it appears like cells of light flowing down the branches to the center of the tree. 

The other day, I got triggered by a situation and felt my life was falling short, in a big way. That kind of thinking is my kryptonite, and I spent the next day trying not to cross over to the dark side of poverty consciousness and general unworthiness.

Focusing on gratitude helped a lot. While showshoeing late in the afternoon, I felt grateful because there was enough snow for snowshoeing and because it stayed light late enough for me to go snowshoeing when I finally got home. Also, it was so wonderful to be outdoors breathing fresh air that didn’t hurt my face!

These gratitudes led to more, and before I knew it, my snowshoe walk had turned into a gratitude walk, which raised my energy and improved my mood. I realized how much I have compared to so many other people in the world. I have food on the table, a roof over my head, a warm coat, snowshoes on my feet, and everything I need. Furthermore, to borrow a line from Hafiz, “Any king would trade his throne for the splendor my eye can see.”

When we work toward a particular goal, the danger is that we will feel we’re not enough as we are right now and need to achieve the goal in order to measure up. But don’t you dare believe such toxic thoughts! When I tried not to cross over to the dark side where feelings of lack would convince me I was in need of something that would make me feel more whole and complete, these words came to me:

As I snowshoed and drove around, I repeated the words over and over because it was really important to reprogram my thoughts and let the message sink in. Create new neural pathways.

Our journey through life is so much more enjoyable when we appreciate what we already have and believe we are already whole and complete and don’t need to achieve a particular goal to have value and worth and to feel good. If we can have a lighter attitude of curiosity and joy and not be so heavy and serious, we can experiment with growing and expanding toward our goals without making our worth dependent on a successful outcome. We can notice more, follow our intuition, and feel good as we travel along, not only when we finally arrive. We can even give ourselves freedom to fail, which I believe is good practice.

This morning, falling in love with the frosted branches along the way made the whole journey worth it. The destination wasn’t dazzling, and therefore I didn’t get pictures of frosted trees. However, the journey – of curiosity and delight – made up for it. So this is a little reminder not to be so focused on the end result (whatever it is for you) that you deprive yourself of tiny pleasures, positive thoughts, and intuitive nudges that make the journey more delicious.

Enjoy the journey, knowing you are already enough exactly as you are right now!

© 2018 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Tuning Out and Tuning In

Tuning Out and Tuning In

Imagine what it would be like to be raised with the belief that all the answers you want and need are inside you. Imagine being taught from a young age the importance of dropping down into yourself every day, becoming still, focusing on your breathing, and allowing all the mental chatter to settle so you can hear your own wisdom. Can you even imagine? I recently listened to an interview with two daughters of a spiritual teacher who described their upbringing this way, and it blew my mind! Imagine the possibilities! It certainly wasn’t the way I was raised. It’s a concept I’ve been familiar with for a long time but didn’t really believe, deep down in my bones, until quite recently. And it feels like a total game-changer.

A dear friend shared with me her story of a recent commute to work. Normally, she drinks a smoothie in her car as she drives along a winding road near her house that she knows like the back of her hand. This particular morning, as she reached for her smoothie, a voice arose inside her that told her not to drink it. Although she thought it was peculiar, she listened to the voice, and when she went around one of the next turns, she was shocked to discover an unaccompanied toddler in the road! Apparently, the child’s caregiver didn’t notice the child had slipped out of the house and made his way down the long driveway, all the way to the dangerous, country road. Had my friend tipped her head back to drink her smoothie as she normally did, she might not have noticed the child until it was too late. Fortunately, she listened to the voice and was able to help the child get back home safely.

Last weekend, Jack went out for a drive and returned home quite shaken. He explained that he was driving along, and a voice arose in him that said the purple car up ahead in the distance was going to pull out in front of him. The voice took him by surprise. As he got closer to the purple car, sure enough: It did pull out in front of him, causing Jack’s vehicle to screech and swerve. Had he not listened to the voice, he probably wouldn’t have paid such close attention to the purple car or reduced his speed ahead of time. It could have been a bad accident. In addition to being shaken by nearly getting in an accident, he was in awe of the voice that knew what was about to happen and was looking out for him.

We all have that voice inside us, and I’ve learned through plenty of experience that when I follow it, I’m much better off than when I don’t. It seems to be the voice of a sophisticated intelligence that connects us with our greater self, like E.T. phoning home or vice versa.

Last month, I committed to taking time for self-care first thing in the morning and not checking emails or social media until after I have checked in with myself. Sometimes it takes the form of kayaking on the calm river because that’s where I tend to hear the voice of inner wisdom most clearly. One morning, I paddled across the river, reflecting on what a great decision it was to be on the river instead of doing any number of other things. My phone rang, but I did not answer it and felt good about how disciplined I was with regard to my self-care time. I thought: I paddle through stillness to a quiet spot where a deeper voice arises. Right after thinking and recording that thought into my phone, a feather floated by me. It gave off an electric energy that compelled me to turn around and take a second look, and I realized it was a bald eagle feather! In all my years on the river – in all my years on this planet – I’d never come across an eagle feather and considered it a powerful sign that a feather held to be so sacred would float by me like that. It felt like a nod from the Universe for taking the time to turn away from distractions and tune in to my authentic self.

One morning earlier this month, I got out of bed at a ridiculous hour and felt compelled to take a long drive because I was certain it was the right thing to do. It would have been much more convenient to stay in bed, but I knew I needed to get up and drive. The inner guidance was very loud and clear! The image of a particular scenic overlook popped into my mind, and I wondered if I’d end up anywhere around there for the sunrise. I never checked my GPS to see what time I would arrive; I just kept driving. Amazingly, I arrived there exactly as the sun was about to peek over the distant mountains. I didn’t have to wait at all or linger to catch it but arrived at precisely the right moment, without rushing or trying. I experienced a glorious sunrise that now serves as a symbol of following my inner knowing. Every time I look at pictures of that sunrise, I feel the power of following my intuition.

On the other hand, I recently didn’t follow my inner guidance and ended up suffering a painful injury that absolutely could have been avoided if I’d been more rested and centered and therefore better able to access and act on my intuition. Sometimes, the worst pain compels people to do whatever they can to medicate it away. But it can be an opportunity to really drop down into yourself and see what’s going on – what’s getting in the way of you feeling better and healing. That’s what I’ve been doing during my convalescence while staying close to home and keeping things real simple. 

Did I ever get in touch with what was holding me back as I writhed, cried, and prayed my way through excruciating pain! I confronted some deep issues and patterns that mostly involve not following my inner wisdom throughout my life – whether to please others, to be loved and accepted, or because I truly believed other people knew better than I did what was best for me. I began this healing journey feeling awful about how I betrayed and injured myself as a result of not listening to the voice of my greater self. I wanted more than anything to go back in time and prevent the injury from happening in the first place. However, when I started tuning in to my inner guidance, I realized the importance of accepting the situation and even being thankful for it because it is an opportunity for seriously deep healing and overcoming unhealthy habits I had not been able to free myself from any other way. I think I needed this to happen in order for deeper healing to take place. I’ve been listening closely to my body and what foods it wants for healing. I’ve rediscovered the joy of true nourishment and am naturally gravitating away from certain foods and people that take me out of alignment with my deeper wisdom. 

It feels so good to tune in to my inner guidance system. I’m happy to report that I turned a corner over the weekend and began to feel much better. No more pain! As I started to expand my food choices and communications, I noticed instantly which ones didn’t feel right. They were more of a jolt to my system than usual because I’d been so tuned in to what felt right. I realize the importance of making space for stillness and tuning in to my inner wisdom on a daily basis. If I’d been doing that all along, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this situation.

Sometimes it’s really hard to follow inner guidance. It’s easier or more fun or exciting to remain in denial or not face your fear, or maybe you don’t want to disappoint someone. But following intuition saves us from so much more suffering, and when we are ready, it is there for us, helping us find our way through what might feel like a no-win situation. Even though we may convince ourselves otherwise, doing what’s in harmony with our greater self will ultimately benefit everyone else, too. I have learned the hard way that betraying myself causes the worst suffering and that tap dancing around issues and being afraid to speak and act on my inner knowing ultimately prolongs and worsens the unconsciousness and suffering for all involved.

You can do the work on your own proactively, or you can wait for the Universe to step in and help you along. It is usually more comfortable and empowering to do it on your own. But if you are unable to do it on your own for whatever reason, the Universe will step in eventually. And when that happens, no matter how painful it is, be grateful. If this level of pain is what it took to get me back in alignment with my inner knowing, then so be it. The feeling of being in harmony with both my body and my greater self is its own reward.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Eclipse Stories

Eclipse Stories

Now that the solar eclipse is behind us, I wonder: What is your eclipse story? It’s a question that can be answered on a number of levels depending on how deep you want to go.

On the surface level… I didn’t get any stunning eclipse photos because I had to work during the eclipse. But that’s okay because lots of other people had their cameras pointed at the sun to capture the phenomenal event. My friend Colleen’s 17-year-old son, who lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, managed to capture a stunning image of the eclipse that was selected for the “Daily Dozen” by National Geographic editors out of thousands of submissions, and my buddy, Peter, was able to achieve a quality representation of our partial eclipse via a DIY rig of his Canon Rebel DSLR. And there were many others, as I’m sure you have seen for yourself. Some of the most intriguing images I saw were of sunlight passing through trees and illuminating sidewalk shadows with hundreds of tiny, crescent-shaped lights – like moons, only they were suns.

It was disappointing to have to be indoors during this greatly anticipated celestial event. But when I arrived at work, I was delighted to learn we had permission to go up on the roof to view the eclipse. There were a few pairs of eclipse glasses up there to be shared, along with other viewing options that included a cardboard box pinhole projector and a colander. I watched the eclipse via NASA’s live stream, and when it looked like it was really getting underway, I went up to the roof. The moment I put on the glasses and looked at the moon partially covering the sun was one I always will remember: a WOW moment you might have experienced, too. What a marvelous sight!

I went back to work beaming and feeling supercharged with eclipse energy! I noticed all the people on computers, and it seemed surreal that something so magnificent was taking place in the sky at that moment, and they were indoors staring voluntarily at computer screens. How could you not be blown away by this? (Well, maybe because you didn’t have eclipse glasses or permission to be up on the roof.) I went back up for a second and third glimpse of the astronomical event and was wowwed all over again. The afternoon flew by, to say the least, and since it was quieter than usual, I was able to focus on my eclipse project. 

A few days prior to the eclipse, I came across the idea of “Absolute Yes” and “Absolute No” lists in the book, The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time by Cheryl Richardson. The “Absolute Yes List” is about priorities: What most needs your immediate attention in the next few months and makes you a stronger and better person? When making decisions, you can ask, “Is this an Absolute Yes?” That question cuts through a lot of schedule clutter and keeps what’s most important in sight. It’s also important to be aware of your absolute noes. The “Absolute No List” is a list of things that weaken and irritate you and lead you away from the person you want to be. The day before the eclipse, I started creating my lists while floating in my kayak on the river. During the eclipse, when I wasn’t up on the roof viewing the spectacle through special glasses, I engaged with the eclipse energy by putting the finishing touches on my Absolute Yes and No Lists and setting intentions based on them.

Yesterday morning, I took it a step further. I’ve gotten into the habit of paddling to a quiet spot on the river in the morning and stopping there to savor a cup of tea. Holding the mug of hot tea in my hands, I reflected on my yes and no lists and the feelings behind each item and practiced feeling those feelings. As I sipped the tea, I imagined I was drinking in those feelings that I really thirsted for. I realized that, most of all, I wanted to feel aligned with my Higher Self in both thought and action. Several items on my lists were about making time for self-care in the morning, and I realized that taking time to realign with spirit every morning is essential. This includes not checking email, messages, or social media or focusing on anything else until after I have spent some quality time checking in with myself. In other words, get on the Innernet before going on the Internet!

A couple of intuitive astrologers I follow stressed the significance of the period between this month’s lunar and solar eclipses and the current lunar cycle. They said that the effects of the solar eclipse may be felt for a few months after the actual event and that it is a good time for planning, setting intentions, and resetting/reorganizing your life in terms of what you want to do. Unexpected events, revelations, and endings might happen suddenly on a personal and/or planetary level, and it’s all part of a cleansing process.

I love a good metaphor, especially when it comes from the natural world. Whether or not you believe in astrology, the solar eclipse offers metaphors that can take your experience of it to a deeper level so that what happened celestially mirrors or activates something in you. For example, during a solar eclipse, the shadow blocking the light is exposed, and you can put on special glasses that give you the ability to actually see what is blocking the light. On an intrapersonal level, this translates to getting a glimpse of your shadow self and the unconscious blocks that might be sabotaging you and perpetuating illusions that you believe to be true about yourself and others. It can be inconvenient or even scary to become aware of your shadow side or the unconscious blocks and self-sabotaging factors that have been operating in your life behind the scenes. But these realizations are ultimately positive because becoming aware of your unconscious material is a first step in setting yourself free, which is something that can’t happen when it remains hidden. It is an opportunity for clarity, disillusionment, and empowerment. 

When I ask about eclipse stories, this is what I’m getting at: stories involving life-changing realizations and events. Epiphanies. Things you cannot unsee once you’ve seen them, much like the moment I put on the special glasses and saw the shadow of the moon blocking the sun. My own eclipse story seems to begin last weekend, when I ended up at The Abode of the Message by “accident”. Being there helped me to realize I have a need to be part of a spiritually supportive community, and I put that high up on my Absolute Yes List

The day following the eclipse, I had a conversation with some co-workers during which a sentence came out of my mouth that felt a little too honest and self-revealing. Walking away from that conversation was a WTF moment that lingered as I floated on the water the next morning. It was an opening to a surprising realization that explained quite clearly why I haven’t had more success in a certain endeavor – a feeling that I have been misplacing my energy. My speech (which reflects attitudes, beliefs, and feelings) was blocking and even sabotaging my best efforts. Once I glimpsed that block, I couldn’t unsee it and realized I need to make some changes: Either do the work to remove the block or let go of the endeavor, and move towards something that feels more aligned with who I really am and what I really want. 

Similarly, since the eclipse, I’ve also been able to see more clearly the shadow side of others, which allows me to act appropriately and set healthier boundaries based on the clarity that seems to grow stronger every day. Again, disillusionment provides an invitation to either change yourself or your perceptions in some way or to let go of unhealthy relationships. Whatever you do, you can’t unsee what was hidden previously or continue on, status quo.

So, that’s my eclipse story so far. I might have missed out on photographing the eclipse this time around, but I hear that in 2024, our area will experience a total solar eclipse – and I will be ready for it and will make sure I don’t have to work, even though it was fun and memorable to hang out with coworkers on the roof viewing the eclipse through special glasses, cardboard box pinhole projectors, and colanders. And perhaps at that time, while looking through the lens of my camera at the shadow of the moon blocking the sun, I will reflect on the amazing and surprising ways my life changed course after the eclipse of 2017 when some pretty important truths all of a sudden became visible to me.

I wish the same for you.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

A Dragonfly Story

A Dragonfly Story

I was on the front porch this afternoon doing some work when I happened to look up and notice a dragonfly just outside one of the windows. It made me smile because I have a special place in my heart for dragonflies.

But it didn’t fly away or land. It just kind of hovered outside the window. As I watched it, the hovering seemed rather unnatural and odd. I began to suspect it was caught in a spider web and got up to take a closer look.

Then I noticed the dragonfly begin to spin fast and also noticed a tiny spider a few inches above it spinning its arms like a masterful puppeteer. (Honestly, it reminded me of Voldemort in Harry Potter.) Clearly, this dragonfly was in a deathtrap and in the process of being bound, paralyzed, and eventually having the life sucked out of it by the hungry predator it was now powerless against.

Well, with all due respect to spiders and their fantastic webs, this was not going to happen on my watch! I was not about to stay put and watch a beautiful dragonfly become a lifeless shell of its former, dazzling self. No siree!

Not knowing if it was too late, I grabbed a long object (since the web was higher than I could reach), bolted outside and batted at the web until the dragonfly became detached from the spider and the web.

The binding process had only just begun, and I saw that there weren’t many sticky threads attached to the dragonfly yet. So I picked it up and brought it inside to inspect it. There were bits of sticky web and binding threads caught on its delicate wings and legs, and I began to remove them ever so carefully, knowing not to touch its fragile wings.

The dragonfly stayed with me for about a half hour as I tended to it and gave it all the love I could. Every now and then, it flew away only to drop to the ground because there were still some threads attached that restricted its movement. Eventually, I managed to get the last bits of spider web off, and the dragonfly flew out of sight.

This little creature must not have realized how close it was to danger. Then it got caught in the web that at first sight probably didn’t look so dangerous. It got too close, got stuck, and couldn’t break free. It must have been terrified when it realized how sticky the web was and how powerless it was against it! And then the very hungry and merciless spider sprang into action. At that point, I imagine the weak dragonfly gave up hope that it ever could break free from the situation and probably thought: What’s the useI’ll never be that brisk, shimmering being again. 

But even in your bleakest moment, you never know who’s looking out for you – who will step in and act on your behalf and watch over you as you recover from the trauma and clear the sticky debris from your wings…because even though you are a tiny dragonfly, YOU MATTER.

The point is: Don’t give up. Even when the situation seems hopeless, and all odds seem to be against you, somebody just might be looking out for you, ready to take action to help you get your wings untangled from the web that seemed so impossible to release yourself from. You might even have a guardian angel working behind the scenes, perhaps in response to a loved one’s prayers for divine intercession. I don’t know how these things work, only that the dragonfly wasn’t paying close enough attention and ended up in the web, and I happened to notice at just the right time.

I often wonder if trees experience time the same way humans do. If so, I imagine being rooted in one place for such a long time would feel like eternity! But I suspect time moves more quickly for trees and probably more slowly for dragonflies, whose lifetimes are so brief compared to humans. That half hour in my care (not to mention the time it was caught in the web) might have felt like years to the dragonfly. Perhaps it felt like a very long time for it to recover from its brush with death in the spider web and rid its wings and legs of the sticky debris so it could once again fly right. Perhaps it required patience – the trying, the falling, the humility of it all, and having to give it a little more time before trying again.

I like to think that when it finally did fly off – perhaps back to its dragonfly family – it did so a little wiser as a result of what it had experienced, with greater knowledge of the nature of spider webs, what to look out for, and how to avoid them in the future. Perhaps the dragonfly flew off with a renewed sense of purpose, a better understanding of its strengths and resources, and a realization that there is goodness in the world and that it is loved deeply.

Thank you, my little dragonfly friend, for giving me this parable. I hope you are zipping around again, feeling loved, and sharing your survival story with all your dragonfly friends. And I’ll share it with mine because it is a story of hope, and I know quite a few people who could use a little of that right now.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Living Heaven (When It Feels Like Hell)

Every spring, I await the arrival of the Omega Institute catalog in the mail. I’ve only attended a program there twice, but the catalog inspires me. Even if I don’t sign up for a workshop, I find other uses for the catalog. For example, it’s good vision board material.

It took me more than a month to read this year’s catalog from cover to cover. I dog-eared some pages with the intention of signing up for a program and eventually selected a weekend workshop called Living Heaven Now with Anita Moorjani and John Holland. Anita, author of Dying to Be Me and What If This Is Heaven?, underwent a near-death experience in 2006 that transformed her life, and John Holland is a widely renowned psychic medium and author. I hadn’t heard of him, but Anita’s books and TED Talk resonated and inspired me deeply, and the combination of perspectives was compelling because she had crossed over and returned with a story to share about what she experienced on the other side, and he talks to dead people. I registered for the workshop mostly because Anita’s teachings focus on loving yourself and living your life fearlessly, and tender, loving self-care is what I am giving special attention to this year.

For me, the high points of the weekend were two guided meditations. Anita led a lengthy visualization based on her near-death experience in which we imagined ourselves on our deathbed with our loved ones gathered around. Before taking our last breath, we reflected on the life we led – the joys, sorrows, successes, regrets, etc. Then we let go and entered the nonphysical realm where we were without gender, race, culture, beliefs, grudges, judgment, etc. and were surrounded by unconditional love. We were greeted by someone (in my case, my mom) and then became aware of more loving presences around us – some we recognized and others we didn’t. We also faced the person who hurt us the most in this lifetime but interacted as two pure essences and acknowledged that we had a soul agreement that was based on deep love. In this realm, we could understand why everything happened as it did. Eventually, we learned it was not our time, and we had to return to our bodies to live our lives fearlessly. We were given a second chance at life, and what were we going to do with it? What would we do differently? What was most important now?

Needless to say, there were many tears flowing during this profound inner journey! Seeing my children gathered around my bed and knowing I’d have to leave them, being with my parents and other loved ones who had passed on, being with the person who had hurt me the most free of all human defilements and limitations and feeling nothing but unconditional love between us, learning about my gifts and purpose – each step of this inner journey brought a fresh round of tears, peace, and clarity. I felt like a waterfall. But it was good.

The following day, John led us through a “soul shift” process based on Pete Sanders’ work, that took our awareness up through our body, all the way to the top of our head, and then up higher and higher, into our soul essence where we could receive answers to any questions we had and communicate with loved ones in the nonphysical. It was a place of love, kindness, wisdom, and deep peace that felt very different from being in my head and body.

There was a lot of content presented and discussed throughout the weekend, and my biggest takeaway was an awareness of my gifts, talents, and abilities along with the realization that in order to use them to their fullest potential, I must learn how to manage and balance them effectively. To be clear, I’m talking about empathy, sensitivity, and compassion, which could mutate into overcaring, overhelping, and enabling. It’s important to keep these qualities in check so they will serve me and not drain me. Only then will I be better able to serve others, which is why I believe we were given our gifts and talents in the first place.

This wisdom came at exactly the right time and was put to the test hard-core and immediately in real life.

When I first wake up in the morning, my mind is like a coloring book page with faint, glowing outlines of some kind of cosmic blueprint or pattern. It feels great: A new day, a fresh slate with endless possibilities! However, for the past several mornings, the pattern quickly fills in with the heavy colors of this world, and my stomach ties itself in knots. I reach for a positive feeling or affirmation so the gravity of the world will not bring me down. The realization sets in again, as it does every morning lately: Someone I love very much is going through hell. Hell like I never could have imagined. Hell that I cannot fix. They are the only one who can do anything about it. I have tried to go back in time and figure out where things started to unravel, which is both natural and futile. Is there something I could have done to prevent it? These are not productive places to focus my energy and attention.

Mostly, I feel confused. What is true? What isn’t? What are the real issues? As a highly empathic person, I can’t help but feel my loved one’s pain. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with, and the stakes are very high.

I suspect one of my lessons in this lifetime is to strengthen my backbone to keep my caring nature in check so I can do more good in the world. In many situations, my backbone is just fine, but sometimes it needs work because I don’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings. And just when I believe I’ve done the work and have a solid backbone, it’s as if the Universe comes along and says, “Ya think so? OK, let’s see how you handle this.” You could call it the Accelerated Learning Plan, and I’m beginning to believe it’s what I signed up for this time around.

I’m grateful to have the soul-shift technique in my spiritual toolbox along with many other resources that can help me navigate this challenging situation. Through meditation or “shifting” out of ordinary consciousness, I can receive answers that aren’t charged with fear. When I tune to that channel, I realize there is so much support in the nonphysical realm, and I am never alone. Neither is my loved one who is going through hell on earth at the moment. Synchronicities provide further evidence of this, and we’ve experienced a number of them.

The guided meditation Anita Moorjani led us through helped me to realize on a deeper level that we are both divine beings manifesting in this life, and their soul has reasons for experiencing this path – spiritual reasons that I don’t understand. I have to trust that their soul wants to learn and grow in certain ways and that on another plane, what looks like hell serves a spiritual purpose. Looking at the situation from this perspective does not diminish my compassion or caring, but it takes the edge off my anxiety and fear so I can discern more clearly the best action to take. I want my actions to be guided by love, not fear. Yes, the stakes are very high from our earthly perspective, but the universe is infinite, and from an expanded perspective where the ceiling is infinitely higher (if there is even a ceiling at all), things aren’t as dire as they appear to our small, human minds.

I expect that at the end of our lives, just like at the end of The Wizard of Oz, we will discover that we had the power all along. I believe that about my distressed loved one. We have no idea how powerful we are until we stop deceiving ourselves and giving away our power (by blaming others and making ourselves into victims) and start doing the work.

In the past 48 hours, I have had to practice tough love and say no when it was very hard to do so. I realize the importance of setting healthy boundaries and not accepting responsibility that isn’t mine. Resisting the urge to jump in and rescue. This is not easy for an “empath” to do, but it is necessary! Compassion is more effective when it is fused with wisdom, and empathy is more effective when it is supported by a strong backbone and an abundance of Self-love.

I realize it’s important to make time to go to that soul space where I know all is well so as not to get sucked in or drained by earthly drama. In that place, I realize there are much larger forces at work and so much more to the situation than I can perceive from where I stand, and it’s not up to me to try to make everything right. My job is to shine my light as brightly as I can by expressing my gifts, talents, and abilities to their fullest potential. Ironically, challenges help me to shine even brighter and to experience more of my divine nature and greater strength and joy. I might not be able to choose the circumstances I encounter, but I can choose the thoughts and beliefs that will help me navigate them. For example, I’ve learned not to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” but to consider what my soul might want to learn from it or simply trust that there is some kind of soul lesson involved.

I remind myself throughout the day that “All Is Well”, even when it seems anything but well from where I stand. Remembering that alleviates the anxiety and fear and stops my mind from running in circles. Then I can get to work.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

In Celebration of Clarity

In Celebration of Clarity

There are times
when clarity dawns gently
almost imperceptibly
and there are times
when it falls like a sword
because the gentle dawning
did not penetrate
deep enough to take hold.
However it comes
it is merciful
even when its sting
is excruciating
for clarity
is always a blessing.

When the sword of clarity
cuts clean through illusion
you cannot unsee or forget
the truth it reveals
as hard as you may try.
Illusion is pierced and broken
and cannot hold
your projections anymore
and a question arises
from the rubble:
Are you ready to honor
yourself and the truth
that has been revealed
or will you continue
to swim against the current
and cling to whatever
pieces of illusion
you possibly can?
In other words: Will you
act on what you know to be true
or what you wish were true?

When clarity arises,
don’t feel ashamed
of mistakes you made
or how foolishly you acted,
what you did or didn’t say.
Instead be grateful
for what you have learned
and how it can serve you
going forward.
Hold your head high
and fear not:
There is no reason for
punishment or judgment
when a dark space
becomes illuminated.
The newly illuminated
are the only ones shedding tears
when they understand how much
unnecessary pain
their ignorance caused
and isn’t time spent in darkness
punishment enough?

When a child finally
sees the light, lets it in
and allows it to release her
from bondage and suffering
what parents would choose
condemnation of their beloved
over gladness?
And why wouldn’t it be
the same with souls
and their Creator
or any parts of
an evolving whole?
Stepping out of disempowered
darkness and into light
is cause for celebration
whenever it happens
no matter how long it takes
and the enlightened ones rejoice.

-Susan Meyer

Thank You Clarity Words in the Sand

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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