connective elements healing

honoring creativity - restoring balance - embracing wholeness

By observing nature, ancient traditions explained all of existence through five elements.  

Connective Elements Healing aims to restore you to your true nature through five healing offerings -

BodyTalk, Coaching, Meditation, Reiki and Yoga. 

Filtering by Tag: Present

The Possibility in the Present

When I chose present as my Word of the Year for 2017, I envisioned living the word through mindfulness, through the cultivation of awareness of the present, through joy and being open and simply aware of what is here, right now. This morning, through my regular meditation and Morning Pages sessions, I recognized that present means much more than that.

Blooming -  Taken September 2017 in KZN Province, South Africa

Blooming - Taken September 2017 in KZN Province, South Africa

In asking myself the question, “can I make space for possibility”? I triggered several epiphanies. I must allow myself to let go of the past to make space for the gifts of the present. I must stop clinging to the stories, to past achievements, hurts, relationships, traumas and histories to truly empty my cup and make room for the present. I must allow the feelings and emotions from the past to dissipate in order to be present for what’s here, in the present.

I asked myself if I’ve told enough of my story to feel as if I’m free of my past. Though I recognize there is rigidity even there, there doesn’t need to be a fixed stop point with regard to my own healing, my own process. Perhaps I am done telling the stories of my past, clinging to the stories of my past. Perhaps I’m not. And it’s all perfect. And it’s all okay. 

I recognized this morning that present is likewise about letting go of the future. I have been conditioned to plan for the future, to know what’s next. As a Social Worker and a Coach, my career has rested on plan-making. My own safety often relied on the generation of solid plans. However, arming myself with the best-laid plans for the future, I realized this morning, robs me of the possibility that exists in the present and perhaps in the future, as well.

It is so much more than mindfulness. It’s so much more than awareness of the present. It is about the ability to be, to truly be in the moment – to truly be present - to surrender to what is without expectation, without stories, without clinging to the past, without obsessively planning for the future. There is ease here, in its purest form.

All these concepts are talked about so commonly in the self help, spiritual, coaching, personal development and helping communities, but until you experience them in real-time, in your own life, you and I fall short of experience and forfeit the present.

Once we empty ourselves of the clinging, of the constant energy of doing, of the gripping, the striving, the proving, we can truly rest, I can truly rest, and be open to the present.

Herein lies the gift, the very rich opportunity for possibility and ease and freedom and breath and space.

Illumination  - A gifted candle during a power outage from my Host Mama, KZN, South Africa

Illumination - A gifted candle during a power outage from my Host Mama, KZN, South Africa

May you be present.

May you open to possibility.

May you witness the peace that surrounds you.

May you let go.

 

May I be present.

May I open to possibility.

May I witness the peace that surrounds me.

May I let go.

 

Gratitude for joining me as I process the emotional and spiritual 27-month journey of Peace Corps Service in South Africa. ♥

 

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.

 

Early Reflections

March 12, 2017

I made a conscious choice to walk away from everything I’ve known. I made a conscious choice to make a contribution of service to a country in which I’d never set foot. Here I am, nearly two months later with the opportunity to reflect, an opportunity to look back, as I hear the sounds of village life drawing me into the present moment. I hear the neighbor’s children giggling. I hear the cows mooing. I hear the soft breeze rustling through the trees. I hear the sound of my tin roof crackling under the blazing South African sun. I see my just hand-washed laundry blowing in the wind. I gaze over the fields of my village, the hills in the distance, the nearly cloudless sky. It seems so peaceful. From the outside, the view is one of pleasure.

Sets - Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

However, over the last two months, I’ve surfed what seem like relentless and endless waves. Waves of emotion, new experiences, relationships, learnings, mistakes, heartbreaks, angst, despair, grief, excitement, fear, excitement, fear. It is difficult to sum up this experience of walking away from all that is known to venture into the depths of all that is unknown. It’s amazing how much life can change in such a short period of time. As I take a deep breath, fill my lungs with this South African air, I feel the concrete under my seat, I orient back to the scenery and I exhale for I know this reflection is necessary to process all that has occurred over these last seven weeks and six days.

Walking away from a beloved and from the West Coast was heartwrenching. TSA didn’t understand my process and put me through theirs. My bags were wiped down for bombs while I tried to catch my breath amongst the fat tears rolling down my cheeks. I spent 9 days on the East Coast with so many other of my beloveds. My soul sisters, my blood relatives, my adoptive family and teachers. I said goodbye to them all as I Marched on Washington, as I dined and shared tears, as we recollected our collective history, I readied for this new chapter.

Anniversaries and dates of significance are not lost on me. I reported to Philadelphia for Peace Corps orientation on my former partner of nearly 10 year’s birthday. I daydreamed of our home near the ocean that I’d absolutely fallen in love with and recounted the years of memories. Daily in Philadelphia, I could feel anxieties reeling their ugly heads. I tried to put my best foot forward as I waded through the seas of my emotions and those of my 33 fellow cohort members. We broke ice and bread together. We geared up for the journey. Bonding with some on the airport floor, I felt a wellspring of emotion that an early morning meditation and Morning Pages session gave voice to. Being scheduled to fly to South Africa on what would have been my mom’s 67th birthday was also pressing on my heart and mind.

Making the long flight and then being introduced to 20+ new faces of Peace Corps Staff upon arrival was overwhelming to say the least. Battling fatigue and jetlag, little issues spiraled and the South African ground beneath my feet seemed to virtually disappear. After a myriad of speeches about how these 33 people would become my new family, the scramble to build relationships began. In the last several weeks, some of these relationships have flourished, others have already fizzled out.

Transitioning to a homestay in a semi-rural village, I feel as if I’m replaying my karma by living with a single woman with one daughter who lives in a different part of the country. The overlay of my upbringing is imprinted deeply upon this experience. I’m sorting it out, giving it breath and resisting the storytelling.

In these few weeks in South Africa, I can already feel this country working me. With the country’s trauma lying close to the surface, it reminds me of the soul work and reflections on Cambodia. I’ve awakened and exercised some of my gifts already. I’ve shared meditation, yoga, Reiki and other self care with my new cohort family. I’ve honored my daily meditation and Morning Pages practice. I’ve found a place here, though not yet a home. I’ve used my crystals, Angel cards, and built altars from stones and gifted origami on the days we’ve covered tough topics in the classroom. I’ve shed many tears and had many revelatory conversations.

I’ve become frighteningly comfortable at peeing in a bucket, pooping in a hole and bucket-bathing in a plastic basin. I regularly exterminate the termites in my bedroom and ignore their neighboring spiders of all shapes and sizes. I’ve slaughtered a poor snake, splattering its blood all over my bedroom floor before it was burned and stoned to double-death in the backyard by my host Mama. I’ve been hungry to the point of pain more often than I’ve been satiated. I’ve been fed by those who were strangers only six weeks ago. I’ve found solace amongst my family who were strangers six weeks ago.

 I’ve witnessed gorgeous sunrises, cathartic sunsets and soul-shaking lightning storms. I’ve acquired a new name (Mapule, which translates to “rain” in Setswana, the local language. Rain is seen as a great blessing here.) which every being under 10 years old loves to holler as I meander down the dirt paths of my village. Their smiles and open hearts remind me to return to that inner girl I somehow forget about so many years ago. She begs to tell her story and re-embody herself once again.

IMG_0326.JPG

I’ve rekindled my inner fire in more ways that one, channeling my creativity into developing activities on HIV for young people, mentoring and building relationships with a few local girls and fulfilling a long-held dream of joining the Peace Corps.

Tomorrow, I travel to the site and organization that I’ll serve for the next two years. Adjacent to a renowned Buddhist Retreat Center, I’m trying to enter the experience with an empty cup, ready to learn and grow, letting go of expectations and fear. As I breathe in this new adventure, I consistently remind myself of the importance of the present moment - THIS moment. I constantly remind myself that I am living in Africa. I repeatedly remind myself that I am acting upon a dream that is now my reality.

Through the hardships, I remind myself to return to my body. Through the emotion, I remind myself to breathe and then breathe again and then to, again, breathe.

Time flies when you are disembodied. It flies when you are outside of your precious heart. Through breath, I invite myself to return to this precious heart, this precious body, this precious moment – for it is all we have.

 

How might you remind yourself of this precious moment?

 

Try this simple meditation.

Close your eyes. Feel the ground beneath you.

Take a deep breath through your nose. Fill your lungs completely.

 

Pause.

 

Exhale through pursed lips, as if slowly blowing out a candle. Deeply inhale, again through the nostrils, filling the lungs and your diaphragm completely.

 

Pause.

 

Feel the ground beneath you. Exhale through pursed lips. Take one last deep inhale, filling the lungs.

 

Pause.

 

Exhale through pursed lips. Say to yourself, “THIS moment”.

 

When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.

 

Use this meditation to invite yourself back into your body, back into your breath and back into the present moment. 

 

This is the first in a collection of writings that chronicles my Peace Corps service. I aspire to relay my emotional and spiritual 27-month journey to South Africa. I am grateful you’ve chosen to join me. ♥

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the South African Government.

2017: The Present

"Illuminate" - Gili Air, Indonesia

"Illuminate" - Gili Air, Indonesia

Twelve months ago today, I honored my tradition of the last six years in which I select a word to inspire my year. I literally danced and chanted my way into 2016 while in Bali, setting out to illuminate the last 366 days. Illuminate served as a beacon and she will be remembered for inspiring my decision-making, casting light upon shadow and encouraging massive healing and release. This year, I desired to reflect upon the year's past and prepare for the coming year in a bit different way. 

"Release" - Oceanside, CA

Writing, creative endeavors and retreats invited me to sift through the travel, transitions and resources that emerged throughout this past year. The deep dive into Susannah Conway's Unravel your Year 2017 over the last couple weeks has furthered my examination of the challenges and my embracing of the gifts and has encouraged additional processing of the happenings of 2016. Susannah's thoughtful prompts such as, "what did you embrace in 2016?" combine with visioning exercises, such as describing my favorite moments of the year or imparting forgiveness upon myself and others for certain instances, offered catharsis. Yesterday, on New Year's Eve, I created a ritual in which I set fire to that which still needed to be illuminated, releasing the last remnants of clinging and giving final gratitude to the Year of Illumination. All these efforts were also aimed at making space for 2017. 

"Present" - Oceanside, CA

Working through the rest of Susannah's workbook today, I unravelled the year ahead, confirmed my word for 2017 and powerfully envisioned dreams, plans and possibilities for the next twelve months. Excitingly, I used one of my favorite spiritual tools, Kyle Gray's Angel Prayers Oracle Deck, to draw my monthly forecast, as well as my theme for 2017: New Beginnings! I concluded my year-end-year-beginning rituals in my absolute favorite place - at Mama Ocean.

My word for 2017 is present. I will explore the gift of the present through practice and intention and will surely share more in the coming months about how the present unfolds. ♥ 

Perhaps you feel called to choose an intention to guide your 2017? If so, my favorite resources include:

  • Susannah Conway's Find your Word for 2017

  • Find the time and space to sit quietly and ask for guidance. Spend time in prayer, meditation or journalling and ask, "what intention or word would best serve my highest good in 2017?" This process may take you days or you may intuitively happen upon the perfect word. Provide yourself with time, space and grace to be led to your Word for 2017.