Dr. Hester O Connor, clinical psychologist, shares her experience as a Mindfulness teacher and a Heartfulness practitioner.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.They must be felt with the heart.’’
– Helen Keller
On the 30th of April 2016 I will celebrate twenty-one years of Heartfulness meditation. I trained as a Mindfulness teacher in the beautiful valley of Triginos in Wales in 2008. For me the Mindfulness practice of being present moment by moment softens me and takes me to my heart. Heartfulness satisfies the longing of my heart. I would like to share with you the love story of my route to Heartfulness. For it is a love story. Every day I get up to re-orient my inner compass to a heart-centered goal that started out long ago when I was a small child in a village near Cashel in County Tipperary, Ireland.
The kindness of Mindfulness is a beautiful place to begin to re-connect with the spiritual heart of Heartfulness.
As the sixteenth child of a family of eighteen children, it is hardly a surprise to say I was raised a Catholic. I recall going with my mother to visit the church before the others would file in from school. The visits were short and the church was just fifty yards from the house. Sometimes we would call over to the grave of my brother Peter who died aged five years having been hit in the head by a horse. These were precious moments with an overstretched mother. I was stealing moments of togetherness that never happened anywhere else in the day-to-day melting pot of meals and wash up. I believe that the intense inner longing of my heart stems from these moments. The childhood yearning of my heart was finally satisfied twenty-five years later when I began Heartfulness meditation.
From the first meditation I can only describe falling in love with what and who and where I cannot describe, but all I can say is that every time I turn inwards my longing heart feels satisfied.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
– Helen Keller
What I love about Mindfulness is the non-judgement, the moment-by-moment awareness and aliveness to the visceral sense of connection with the body. In the Body Scan or Sitting Practice, that easing to a spot is calling your attention, curious to where your attention takes you in this moment. Maybe the mind wanders as minds do, to what you will eat for dinner and you learn to kindly bring your attention back to this moment in the body.
What I love about Mindfulness is the non-judgement, the moment-by moment awareness and aliveness to the visceral sense of connection with the body.
After thirty years of practice as a clinical psychologist, one thing I am sure of is that many of us come from backgrounds of trauma, loss, longing, and general unease within ourselves. Most mothers today have deadlines, debts, and pressures of all sorts to contend with. Mindfulness has enormous potential to bring us back to ourselves and I have seen this time and time again while running Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression (MBCT) groups with adults. It is a delight to be with someone who has known depression learning to treat their thoughts with kindness. Kindness is something truly beautiful in Mindfulness practice. There is a growing emphasis on compassion and kindness within the Mindfulness movement.
The simplicity of Heartfulness has a great deal to complement Mindfulness. Heartfulness reaches beyond the body to the realm of the spiritual heart with its capacity for infinite expansion that can encompass the whole Universe.
Where Do Heartfulness and Mindfulness Meet?
The simplicity of Heartfulness has a great deal to complement Mindfulness. Heartfulness reaches beyond the body to the realm of the spiritual heart with its capacity for infinite expansion encompassing the whole Universe. For me, getting out of bed every day to tune inwards to my heart profoundly shapes how I orientate myself in response to the ups and downs of daily life. It takes years to become a Clinical Psychologist and I am very glad that the drive to get there has softened to a willingness to let my heart lead the way in meetings rather than that driven-ness that was so strong when I first set out in my studies. I now manage a psychology service and what I do most days in meetings is simply connect us all through the heart; it changes everything. What I believe Mindfulness has to offer Heartfulness is the returning to the breath, this breath, in this moment. The visceral connection with the body that comes in Mindfulness is really precious in today’s world dominated by social media and external attraction where the centre of gravity seems increasingly far removed from us all. The kindness of Mindfulness is a beautiful place to begin to re-connect with the spiritual heart of Heartfulness.
If You Do One Thing At Christmas Make It This: Acts Of Kindness
Gentleness and kindness will make our homes a paradise upon earth. C. A. Bartol
As we enter into the ‘silly season’ I felt inspired to write about what I wish Christmas could mean for everyone.
In a world where we have so much focus on material goods, (and never is this more obvious than at Christmas time) I think its time to touch on something that is far more important.
And that is, have you ever thought about what exactly the true meaning of Christmas might be? What do you think it is? Being with family and friends? Eating a lot of good food or going away somewhere nice? Yes it can be all of that, but for me, it is more about giving.
Not the giving of expensive presents to family members and friends, but instead, giving to those that need it most.
Yes, I know that is a cliche, but its a valid one, and it is so very important right now.
Only We Will Make The Changes Needed
Looking at the state of the world, with all of it’s chaos, more and more people are suffering. Homelessness is reaching unprecedented levels in many ‘first world’ countries, there are more than 114,000 people living on the streets alone in California (with likely even more since those terrifying fires a few weeks ago), and in the UK, it has recently been reported that 1 in 200 people are homeless. Hungary have recently declared that homelessness is a crime.
We are countries with access to enormous wealth, yet our governments are cutting funding for important programs to look after our most vulnerable people.
A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. Thomas Carlyle
Seeing that this has become a global problem, and one that is not improving, it has become clearer to me, that only WE can really make the differences needed now. It truly sits on our shoulders as individuals to make more of a conscious effort to help those around us.
We have to stop waiting for others to sweep in and make these changes, we have to help do it ourselves.
I know, many may say ‘I am struggling myself to survive’ or ‘ I don’t have any spare money’, but kindness to others can be totally free.
For inspiration, please watch this beautiful and touching clip below that really lets you feel the power of kindness. I am sure that even by watching this clip, many of you will be inspired now to go and do something for someone in need. I was inspired to write this article after viewing this clip and I know it will create a domino effect!
You know, it’s not actually that hard to be kind. You just have to have your mind ready to see an opportunity for being helpful to someone else.
Being kind to others, is actually a gift to yourself, the joy you feel in your heart when you do something nice and thoughtful for others, is a truly amazing feeling. It literally gives your heart a big happy bursting feeling. It feels like real love.
Science Shows Kindness Is Good For You
There actually is scientific evidence that being kind is very good for your own health, and for the other people who experience your kindness. Kindness can also create a domino effect, and your act alone could end up helping many people, perhaps hundreds of event thousands.
Giving beats any short lived feeling you get from buying something material when you know that you have made a difference to someone else, especially when it helps them when they are at their lowest point.
If I have spare change in my bag, I do try and give to homeless people, (or instead buy them a meal) and despite that some will say ‘we shouldn’t encourage it’ I feel this is very unfair, as we never know their back story and how they ended up on the streets.
I think many of us turn our backs on them (like I used to) because if we really thought about it, we are probably petrified that we could end up like that. For this reason alone, if you can, give, because would you not hope that people would help you if you were in the same position?
A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. John Ruskin
Kindness unites people like nothing else can and it is what we desperately need to bring our fractured societies back together. With so much division between us now, what can heal this is our acts of kindness.
Every single person wants to feel that they matter, it’s embedded into our consciousness. When a stranger does something kind for someone they don’t know it is even more special, because it was their way of saying ‘I see you, I don’t know you, but I care and you matter to me’
I have had many people be kind to me, in times of severe depression, where I nearly ended my life, I always had people show me that I mattered to them and not to give up.
I know this is what got me through those very dark times. Their acts of kindness, made me realise I wasn’t worthless or truly alone, which brought me to be here today.
I am very lucky now to have this opportunity here at Collective Evolution to now be able to share important things with millions of readers around the world.
Who Will Benefit From Your Own Ripple Effects?
What if no one had of been kind to me when I was so low and in a desperate place? Would I not be here today? I really believe no, that I wouldn’t be. We all are capable of creating positive ripple effects that can literally go around the world.
This is the power we all have, that you have, to impact someone else’s life positively, and maybe even many other peoples lives.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop
Kindness comes in so many forms, and we are all capable of doing many of them. You just have to open your heart and want to make the effort to do it.
I hope this Christmas you experience kindness in action, and could maybe even consider making a pact to continue this long after the festive season is over.
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. Og Mandino
The Top Reasons Why We Resist Change & How To Stop
- The Facts:
We resist change for many reasons, but ultimately, this comes down to our core. We want to hold onto belief systems, being right, stories that protect our egos. Alternatively, we may fear the unknown, but what is that fear?
- Reflect On:
Why do you feel the way you do about certain changes in your life? Must you feel this way? Why do some people embrace change better than others? Is it perhaps they give less power to the stories of their mind?
Our world is full of change right now, and for good reason! Deep down we know and feel that something is a bit ‘stale,’ and we’re following that feeling with outward projections of emotions about our system, politics, what others do, our jobs – quite frankly, many of us are feeling frustrated with how things are.
But do you ever notice yourself resisting events happening in your life? We all go through many different experiences, this article is not to say we cannot make changes and choose to avoid un-favorable experiences entirely, it is simply to say, sometimes we can find ourselves being very resistant to changes that are going on in our lives, and this causes a lot of suffering and ‘stuckness.’
From positive to negative, pain to happiness, laughter to suffering, we must always remember that these are all just experiences. They are part of what allows us to grow and move towards a greater awareness within our soul and life experience.
As tough experiences happen, whether it be a breakup, a lost job, having to move to a new place, not having enough finances, finishing something that can be challenging etc, we generally have two choices. We can choose the route of remaining upset and resisting the whole process, making it very difficult to learn from as we inevitably get stuck in judging what is happening. Or we can choose to accept it for the time being as something that is in our path, a certain temporary barrier if you will, and see what we can gain from it in terms of growth. As we react to the situations, observe the thoughts and emotions that present themselves. ‘Why am I so upset about a lost job?” “Why am I so worried about change?” “What do these changes represent to me that make me feel upset?” “Why am I trying to control the experience so heavily?”
Why We Resist Change – The Core Truth
Now it might be easy to say that these are all natural feelings anyone would feel when going through these experiences because they are ‘human nature,’ but this would not be true, simply because these reactions are learned behaviours we get from how we have been taught to react to certain experiences. It is not an innate knowing from our soul for us to be upset and freak out when we lose a job for example. Some of us react and some of us don’t. These reactions are typically fueled by our own patterns, triggers, belief systems, fears, and can be further fueled by collective consciousness. This is why we resist change, plain and simple. We are protecting or running from the various aspects of ourselves listed above that keep us confined in our minds, re-playing the same reactions and experiences over and over.
Some people will suggest that some of us embrace change better than others, the simple answer to why that is is that some of us don’t give as much power to our minds stories. That’s truly all it is at its core. Not resisting change comes down to letting go of the mind’s stories about everything you do or are about to do.
We are very much in control of how we feel during inevitable changes and challenges as we can choose to disempower the suffering that we often dive into. The truth is, we can feel peace in many of these circumstances, we simply need to remain conscious, aware and reflective as the events play out, and pay attention to what might be pulling us out of peace. We can, of course, FEEL what is first expressed, sit with it and truly understand it, but how long we sit with this is up to us, and is not the fault of the experience.
Resisting change is sometimes like trying to swim against the current. Sometimes we do not always see the perfection in what might be playing out so we try hard to keep it all in place i.e. we resist! Think about letting go of the need to control and instead let things go and flow as they need to. In most cases, we find that things are never as bad as we often assume they will be, and in the end, we feel great for having experienced it all.
How We Can Stop Resisting Change
So next time we find ourselves resisting, remember to try out these steps:
1. Pause for a moment in the situation
2. Observe your current emotions, sit with them if you must. Taking the time to slow down and understand what is going on within you will give you clarity so you aren’t simply saying “I’m mad” but instead are able to say “I’m mad because I’m feeling insecure or disempowered or disrespected etc”
3. Reflect on why these things truly bother you. As you understand what the emotions or triggers are that are coming up you will see what power you give to them and why.
4. Let go of what you are trying to control or avoid (keeping yourself out of danger of course)
5. Choose to take the situation moment by moment without judging it
6. Write down how you feel if it helps, likewise, you can talk to someone.
Why am I afraid of what’s to come? What are all the possible reasons that come up in my mind?
What do I feel is going to happen that I’m so worried about? Will it affect how people perceive me? My financial stability? Where do these stories even come from? Society? My friends? Parents?
The bottom line is, when you notice yourself going back to the same frustrations, judgements, anger, blame, fear, worry, or anxiety about something, you know there is something there that’s triggering you, and it’s within you. The only way to peace and moving beyond that suffering is through processing the emotions and letting go of the belief systems, patterns of ideas in your mind that are causing such reactions.
New Moon In Sagittarius: Pursuing Ideals
We are having a New Moon in Sagittarius on December 7th, 2018 in most of the world and late night December 6th in Western North America. This is initiating a 29.5-day Lunar cycle and a new wave of energy for the coming month. This cycle will peak at the Full Moon in Cancer on December 22nd.
The Sun entered Sagittarius on November 22nd, while Jupiter and Mercury Retrograde have also been in this sign, so we have already been experiencing much of its qualities already. However, in this case we can experience more of a ‘kick start’ of Sagittarian energies due to this New Moon as well as Mercury beginning to move forward.
Sagittarius is about exploration, experience, learning/teaching, travel, foreign countries, philosophies, beliefs, idealism, and optimism. It is also associated with things like marketing, media, and sales. It is passionate and instinctual, yet can be excessive, blunt, egotistical, argumentative, opinionated, preachy, unrealistic, and have a ‘know-it-all’ complex. However, this New Moon is an opportunity to work with Sagittarian energies in new or revamped ways.
Mercury has been retrograde since mid-November which ends 10 hours before this New Moon. Since then, we could have been experiencing some adjustments, challenges, realizations, or a different outlook in certain areas of our lives connected to Sagittarian themes mentioned. From this point on until December 24th, we will gain more clarity, momentum, productivity, or final conclusions around the aspects of our lives that been affected by the retrograde.
It is good to look back at the period between November 25th-28th which was the most significant part of this retrograde. Certain thoughts, conversations, and developments that occurred during that time could provide some of the more important realizations and understandings which could influence how things develop over the coming months. However, it is also important to see how things fall into place over the coming weeks.
New Moon Square Mars-Neptune Conjunction In Pisces
Mars in Pisces has been moving towards a conjunction with Neptune which peaks at this New Moon, yet this energy will also affect the entire lunar cycle to a certain degree. This can be good for doing anything creative, spiritual, inspiring, idealistic, compassionate, relaxing, selfless, or something that involves water. It can make us more easy going, in the flow, and could even feel magical for some people.
Escapism or intoxication tendencies can also be strong for people who are more susceptible to that. Our actions or drive can also be unrealistic and fantasy based. Considering that Mercury is also changing motion during the peak of this aspect, it can be more difficult to do mundane and practical tasks. We can also experience more challenges or delays due to lack of attention or cloudy thinking.
This conjunction is in a square with the New Moon in Sagittarius, which can contribute to being less focused, scattered, and/or confused. Perhaps in some cases there can be a conflict around beliefs and opinions. However, this square can also be good for taking creative, spiritual, visual, or inspired action towards Sagittarius activities related to learning/teaching, travel, or media.
Mercury In Grand Trine With Chiron and North Node while in a Quincunx With Uranus
As Mercury ends its retrograde in late Scorpio, it stays nearly still while in a grand trine with Chiron in Pisces and the North Node in Cancer. Our thinking or communications can have themes connected to healing, holistic understanding, unorthodox approaches, bridging ideas/things, wholeness, and spiritual integration.
Considerations of the future and where we are headed could come up. Moving forward instead of staying stuck in the past, or perhaps utilizing challenges of the past to help us move forward. This grand trine is occurring in water signs which can make this energy emotional, passionate, sensitive, and intuitive.
Mercury is also in a quincunx with Uranus which is strongest from December 9th -12th. This occurs just before Mercury returns to Sagittarius. This can manifest as disruptions, unexpected developments, or changes which could require us to make necessary adjustments.
This can also play out as challenges around communication, or perhaps previously unforeseen details coming into our awareness which could require a change in the way think about something. In some cases, this period can have some complications that are usually associated with Mercury retrograde.
Venus Still In Post-Retrograde Shadow Period, Moving Towards Sextile With Saturn
Although Venus ended its retrograde in mid-November, the ‘post-retrograde shadow’ period is a month long in itself. This is when it appears to gradually pick up speed in forward motion and travels back to the same parts of the zodiac where it was previously during the retrograde.
During this time, we gain more clarity, as well as forward moving developments regarding Venus, ruled areas of love, relationships, friendships, values, money, aesthetic undertakings, life’s pleasures, or perhaps other social themes. It is possible there could be some significant Venus related developments that could occur between December 6th-9th, and more likely from December 7th-8th. If so, it could be connected to what was playing out or thoughts that have occurred in late October.
Venus is also moving towards a sextile with Saturn in Capricorn which is exact on December 16th, the same day that the Venus shadow period ends. This could also be another significant period for some people regarding Venus issues. Perhaps there can be some sort of conclusion to what the Venus retrograde was about for you.
The aspect with Saturn could bring some stabilizing or solidifying energy to Venus-ruled areas, and perhaps can having something to do with commitments or responsibilities. Mars will also be in a sextile with Pluto at the same time. These energies combined can be good for making great progress in different areas of life, depending on how this is all interacting with your personal natal chart.
Making Intentions And Things To Consider
What insights or developments have occurred in the last few days? What thoughts or intuitions have you been having? Have there been any synchronicities or repeating themes coming up around you, through communications with others, or perhaps through any type of media you have been consuming? How does that connect to what has been playing out for you over the last 5 weeks? How do you currently think you should proceed based on this?
In what ways do you need to expand in your life? What can you do to better live your truth? Have your beliefs or perspectives changed or perhaps challenged? What are your relationships showing you? What are your ideals?
These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time, however, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. However, the closer the better and can be as early as 30 minutes prior to the exact moment of it. This New Moon will be occurring at 7:20am Universal Time on December 7th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.
Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order.
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