Change ~ from the Outside In

FROM THE OUTSIDE IN ~

So much of my focus – in both my personal life and work with clients – is to explore, practice and ignite CHANGE from the inside out.

But! There is also the other way, which is to go at change from the OUTSIDE IN.

I first came to really appreciate this approach to change, healing and development during the writing of my Masters thesis on Dance Therapy in 1994. Studying the pioneers of this therapy form, a thread ran through that spoke of changing the body to change the mind. Moving the body to discover new states and perspectives. Working with the body to grow new wings – to play with contrast, to expand beyond familiar habits and ruts, to discover other ways of being and living.

To remind myself of this option, I keep this little figurine on my desk. My daughter gave it to me for Christmas a couple years ago. It makes me smile every time i look at it.

figurine

Today, a day that feels a little grey to me… a friend speaks of the “lovely spring rain” in an email, whereas I’m seeing the dreary non-color of snow-melt-not-yet-spring reflecting my interior… I look upon this wee statue and remember. I stretch out my arms, even though really I feel like crawling under a blanket. I smile as I stand in the shower. I lift the muscles in my body, inviting in an interior lift. a change of state.

Does it work? A little. And sometimes a lot. To shake it loose, those blues. To not take them so seriously. To shift state like clouds moving across the sky. To remember: I HAVE emotions, they inform me, they move through me, they are part of my humanness and often carry important (and sometimes skewed) messages. But I AM NOT my emotions.

In addition to all my own focus and my coaching and counselling with others on noticing, being present to and learning from the emotions that move through us, there is also this, and it is such an important “also”: To not take our emotional states so seriously all the time.

Can we do both?

Be present to them. Witness. Empathize with ourselves and others. Let those feelings move.

AND remember: I am not my emotions. I have freedom to change – both from the inside out, and from the outside in. Because I am a unity – there is no clear line between where my inside and outside start and end – CHANGE is most effective when I do both, listening to the moment… is this a time to give in to the pull from beneath that blanket? Or is this moment to say to myself “Just drop it, love, stretch out those arms, remember to expand and shake it loose?
Is this a moment to feel-think myself into acting, or is this a moment to act myself into thinking-feeling?

To discern what is truly called for in any moment takes practice. Lots of it.

Today I choose some of the “outstretched arms” and some of the “simply be present with the feelings”. As the day progresses, the state shifts, the light changes, the weather pattern moves on, and space opens up for new Life, new moments.

And you? Perhaps today as you parent, as you relate, as you live this human adventure, stretch your arms out, take some deep breaths, and shake whatever may be bogging you down, so that a new moment, a new choice, a new possibility emerges.

With love, m

The Art of Parenting: Learning to Live at the Edge of the Unknown

As parents — as people! — we all (I’m pretty sure all of us, yes?) wish there were a simple way, a method that is tried and true and guaranteed to get us the results we hope for… be this a fitness program, a healthy diet, a supplement protocol, a parenting handbook, a financial plan, a spiritual practice, a qualified approach to ANYTHING.

“Just tell me what to do and promise me it will lead me where I want to end up, and I will do it!” Sound familiar?

Our ego-minds want so very much to know, to be sure, to have the secure, guaranteed path and outcome laid out for us.

But, as you may have noticed, Life has other plans. This earthly existence keeps derailing the “for sure’s”, keeps throwing curve balls our way, keeps nixing our perfect plans and visions, and instead nudges, forces, coaxes, calls, yells, whispers and pushes us to: let it go.

What?!!

Yes. To let go of this fabricated, deeply ingrained notion that “there is one way to do it right and if I just know what that one way is, everything will be all right”.

Let it go.

Are you sure?

Yep.

You know, as we all do, as we all experience repeatedly, that Life is otherwise.

And, when it comes to parenting — this crazy, exquisite dance between our self and our child—Life utterly derails any such notion of “predictable, known, for sure and for certain”.

This is not to say that many of the parenting books and parenting methods and parenting tips and parenting know-hows and parenting experts and parenting “fill-in-the-blanks” are not helpful; they often are, supplying encouraging tips and insights to try out and help us along.

But all of them will only go so far.

They won’t ever get you to that solid place that you so wish you could get to. It’s impossible to provide the “right” response to the zillions of possible parenting moments, dilemmas, disasters, questions and curve balls you encounter.

You will still come face to face with situations in which you are at loss, in which you really have no idea what to do or say, in which you have tried all kinds of things and nothing seems to be working. At the end of the day you will still be left wondering if you shouldn’t have, couldn’t have done “it” differently—“it” being any aspect of parenting you can think of. You will never know for sure whether you should have protected your child more or challenged her more. You will still wonder if he needed more guidance or less, if she would have been better served had you trusted her more or directed her more, if he needed more comfort or more stimulus, more independence or more connection.

When traversing the territory, when engaged in the actual doing of parenting, it is not this or that method that will offer you a solid handrail to clutch on to. It is not the “apply this or that” technique that gives you the ultimate ground to stand on as you seek your way through the storms and the sunny sky days.

It is INSIGHT. Learning about how children develop, how they mature and flourish. Understanding how their brains, their hearts, bodies and spirits: grow, make sense of the world, integrate or get stuck, release tension, connect and repair.

It is DISCERNMENT. Making choices from a place of seeing, rather than guessing. Making sense through awareness, rather than because someone else said so.

And it is EMBODIMENT, which is another way of saying lots of practice.

The practice of learning to stand calm and steady, to breath with a cracked-open heart, and to keep breathing when a knee-jerk reaction is about to burst out of you.

The practice of self-awareness. Knowing your self—your tendencies, your type, your strengths and growing edges, your shadows, your soul. Also, continually inviting yourself into a fuller sense of belonging. You are not alone. You belong. You matter. You are loved. Receiving that fully, and living from that knowing.

The practice of presence. Of slowing down and being there, for your child.

The practice of listening between, beneath and beyond words. Listening for the emergent response, not memorizing what the ‘parenting book’ said.

The practice of trusting your innate, silent voice that knows because it loves. The voice that is there when all else becomes quiet.

The practice of forgiveness, to yourself and your child, for being human.

The practice of choice: thinking outside the hand-me-down box. Being brave and creative so that you discover and live what matters most to you and your child. So that you stand up for what is true for you and your family.

The practice of releasing attachment to your own subjective perspective, and of looking behind your child’s eyes, over and over.

The practice of meeting and engaging with your child as a sovereign person, while guiding and parenting him.

The practice of making love bigger than whatever else may be happening.

The practice of including and transcending ego. Gradually and consciously, coming home to your true self and enabling your child to live and flourish in his true self.

And the practice of practice! We can easily trip up on “Oh no, I’ll never be the perfect parent and I’m so stressed about that!” To evolve rather than perfect. To strive for consciousness while enveloping your efforts with generous doses of kindness, forgiveness and humor. One step at a time.

Discovering the simplicity on the other side of the complex territory that is Life, that is parenting, is about getting a hang of how to relax in the middle of the unknown, in the plenty of chaos, in the multitude of possibilities—that is the spiritual practice. That is the way forward to dancing at the edge of the unknown and coming through with your heart and her heart intact (perhaps a little frayed, but good and solid).

Remember: Your parenting flows from your being, much more than from your doing. As you become comfortable with living at the edge of the unknown, finding calm confidence within yourself while life continues to whirl and spiral in and around you, you will have truly learnt how to “dance in the rain, instead of waiting for the storm to pass”. You will become weatherproof!

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If you would like to join me and a wonderful, international group of parents as we explore and practice this comprehensive and underlying approach to parenting, I invite you to “Parenting as a Spiritual Practice – an 8-week online course that runs Oct. 10 – Dec. 5, 2016.

This course is designed to bring to life the full potential of parenthood: a transformative vessel for evolving yourself, your child, and the future. During these eight weeks I offer you perspectives, practices, discernment and insight that will help you discover an unshakeable ease and delight amidst the inevitable ups, downs and doubts of parenting.
www.integralparenting.com

 

Article originally posted on Huff Post, Sept. 29, 2016

 

Bless You as You Step Out Into the World

Dearest ones,

This week many children, teens and young adults are setting out into a new school year… kindergarten, a new grade, a new school, college, university, travel, adventure, homeschooling kitchen table…

My heart and mind are with them, imagining them heading out into worlds known and unknown, into positive and challenging situations, into collectives in which they hopefully are well welcomed, and encouraged to bring their unique selves, to shine bright, whatever that means – quiet, loud, colorful, tentative, joyful, inquisitive, bold, shy, …

But we know that is not always so. This world doesn’t always meet our kids with kindness. Sometimes school is hard, really hard, for all kinds of reasons.

I borrow here an excerpt of a prayer I wrote for my daughter this summer. I share it here for all children everywhere, as they grow and step more and more into the big wide world that is a lot of everything – light and dark, welcome and confusion, encouragement and hurt, beautiful and daunting, exhilarating and crazy-making, tender and terrible.

Perhaps you can hold this prayer and care with me for all children everywhere, as they make their way, one step at a time?

~ BLESS YOU AS YOU STEP OUT INTO THE WORLD ~

May your heart stay soft and open as you step out into the world more and more.

May you be protected and guided, discerning when to lean out, and when to curl inward.

May you stay ‘home’ within yourself.

May you stay true to your Self – as you try out different styles, gestures, mannerisms, ways of communicating: please remember your soul, your very own unique authentic self. It is this deeper self that is your anchor and compass. It is this true self that holds and shares the warmth of your Heart with others. That discerns what is right, good and healthy for you and others.

May you keep spreading Light, through your words, your thoughts, your deeds. May you look out for those who need your Light, who you can coax out of their shells and make them feel like they belong too.

May you delight in this Life, and may Life delight you. May you be sheltered, healthy, inspired, creating rather than reacting, joy-filled and con-fident (in trust).

May you keep following the threads of truth, the resonance you experience, trusting those whispers to discover your unfolding expression and service.

Know that you are so very fully and completely loved – by Life and all manner of expressions of this Life. Know that you are not alone. And remember to ask for help whenever you need it. We are here for you.

mother-daughter-art

 Artist: Claudia Tremblay

With all my Love,

Miriam

PS: Registration is now open for our upcoming integral parenting course – Parenting as a Spiritual Practice, which begins Oct. 10th. If you or someone you know is interested, you can find out more here > www.integralparenting.com 

 And we so appreciate you helping spread the word! Thank you.

Easing into and out of

June 7, 2016
On today’s homeschooling menu we had: weeding in the garden while chatting about life insights… such as how when we react we are not trustworthy, and when we are grounded in our big, open Heart and alert Mind, we can more fully trust and lean into our emergent responses. Lovely exchanges about the intricacies of relating to people and ourselves. Also, English class over skype with grandfather Chris in Switzerland, then going over dance moves from the Cats musical, some stretching, a little science and some melon eating.

This easing off from our more structured homeschooling habits and academic content as we enter June is a gift of homeschooling I always cherish. As well as the gradual, gentle easing back into a fuller schedule during September. And that we again choose to ease off during Advent to allow space and time for the sacred, cozy card-making, candle-lit creativity of preparing for Christmas.

This possibility of bracketing the school year and seasons with “easing into” and “away from” is something I recall missing in my teens when the workload kept going full-pace until the last day. I am glad we get to re-enact, re-invent, re-culture.

And I ask you: where and how in your daily life might you find a bit of space to undo a habit (an assumed and familiar ‘norm’) that doesn’t serve you and your family, and instead explore a new one that possibly fits better?

Mother’s Day Blessing – A Prayer

Dear fellow mothers – and with mothers I mean all of you who pour your hearts and minds, bodies and souls into mothering, into nurturing and sustaining Life in its myriad forms – so, to all of you, blessed keepers of the Hearth,

As I sit quietly this morning, listening for what I really want to share with you to honour and celebrate you today, the inner nudge is clear: share a prayer.

Here it is, for you, this mother’s day.

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To Wait Actively

Today I offer you these questions from Sue Monk Kidd’s “Where the Heart Waits”:

“What has happened to our ability to dwell in the unknowing, to live inside a question and coexist with the tensions of uncertainty? Where is our willingness to incubate pain and let it birth something new? What has happened to patient unfolding, to endurance? These things are what form the ground of waiting.”

I invite you to sit with these questions. Don’t think too much, just sit with them, next to them. Or hold them on your lap or in your heart.

What arises in you?

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The Future of Parenting

When asked to present a TED-like talk at Integral Life’s “What Next” conference in Dec 2012 on the future of parenting, I sat down and challenged myself to come up with the most condensed version I would pass on to a parent/caregiver that I think would make a REAL difference. Here it is: Integral-evolutionary context and three essential keys on how to “parent the future” as well as pointing to the “future of parenting”:

Integral Spotlight Video
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Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

In the week following our daughter’s birth, one dear friend came visiting bearing the gifts of gold and frankincense. And a few days later, independently, another close friend came by with some myrrh. And so our wee lassie was graced with these three gifts, reminiscent of the gifts the three wise men brought to honor, to acknowledge and gift the baby Jesus. A beautiful gesture of honoring the Christ in her, the potential of awakening to Love, to the fullness of Life, here in this lifetime, in herself and with others.

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Exploring Trust

Last week, during our homeschooling English class, A. and I watched this wonderful talk by Brene Brown on the Anatomy of Trust.

We took our time, we paused it here and there, discussed sections, took notes, and had an incredibly rich and insightful conversation about how and if we trust ourselves, and others.

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Always Choose Love

October 27, 2015

This really is the essence of it all, isn’t it?

To choose Love.

Over and over and over again. And when we don’t, which of course, will also happen many times, then to choose love toward ourselves and one other again. And again. It is the essence of forgiveness. The beginning of renewal and healing. The action that is a response, that is creative, rather than reactive.
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