From Our Shadow and Into the Light

    —
December 11, 2020

In its role as protector, the Shadow of the Mind instills fear when adversity strikes or when we try to grow beyond what we are used to, even if we are stepping into something we have long dreamed of. To the Shadow of the Mind, expansion means risking harm and hurt. In its great valor, it tries to override our aspirations by berating and belittling us or by keeping us caught up in anxiety-producing thoughts. It does this in an attempt to keep us safe. It will try to stop us from evolving and changing. It will do whatever it can to prevent us from following through with our deepest calls and dreams.

When we are not aware of the shadow’s ways, we can become its captive and find it hard to move freely in our lives. Kim, a student of mine, told me that when lying on the floor for meditation, she would often feel overwhelmingly vulnerable. Being undefended, open, and receptive was so difficult. She recognized all the ways her body was contracting in “an effort at self-defense.”

The revelation both startled and humbled her. Before this moment, she hadn’t seen how her shadow was holding dominance over her body, but once aware, she was able to release it. This brought her to tears. Kim, like so many of us, was operating under the force of this shadow, and did not even realize its grip. We do not realize we are in an almost constant state of bracing ourselves, rather than opening up to our life.

When something in our life falls, ruptures, or shifts; when challenge or change sprawls forward; when a condition isn’t met; or our perceived safety and comforts are threatened, the Shadow of the Mind rises up and assumes dominance. It rises up when grief knocks on our door. When we sit down to meditate and breathe and feel fear coming to the surface as we begin to meet ourselves. When life says that the ground you are standing on is not as solid as you thought. When a lover leaves, or a trust is betrayed; when an angry or harsh word guts us. Even when a love is realized, when dreams manifest, the Shadow of the Mind shows up to maintain safety and order. It tries to divert us from touching down in these places. It is what we hide behind most days and what stops us from living an emboldened life.

But here’s the thing: you have the ultimate say. You get to say no, I am ready to face all the risks in order to live a more fully embodied and alive life.

It’s worth pausing here to recognize that you have always held this power. The Body of Light has been there all along. But you need to relieve the shadow of its duty before you can give the wheel to your Body of Light and let it steer the ship.

Join Sarah in a guided practice to find your Body of Light in this video, From Shadow to Light.

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

Sarah BlondinSarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

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Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

Sarah Blondin

Sarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

Author photo © Britgill Photography

Also By Author

Sarah Blondin: Heart Minded

Is your heart asking you for a more meaningful conversation? Are you longing to engage a different kind of awareness than the thinking mind? Sarah Blondin is beloved by millions for her online guided meditations that invite us to come back home to our hearts and to embrace the fullness of our experience. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Sarah about her new book, Heart Minded, and how we can each take up residence in the intelligence and strength of our hearts. 

Tune in as Tami and Sarah discuss the practice of softening and releasing inner rigidity, overcoming defensiveness and resistance, witnessing the rivalry between the emotional heart and the spiritual heart, discovering the voice of your own heart, the practice of flow writing, self-intimacy as the source of true safety, finding your authentic “yes to life,” trust in the face of initiatory experiences, normalizing the challenging nature of the spiritual journey, the mysterious force of grace, the interplay between our sensitivity and our strength, a meditation for welcoming joy, and more.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Building the Bridge Between the Heart and the Mind

How can we drop what we are holding on to, if we do not first look for the hand that is grasping so tightly?

Have you ever noticed that you have two distinctly different personae and tend to vacillate between them?

One is very rigid and concerned with the outcome of everything. It worries and frets, its gaze mostly downcast. It doesn’t rest easily, even keeps you up at night sometimes. It acts almost like a dog chasing its tail. It circles obsessively over every detail and unknowable outcome, chasing the same things in a constant repeated pattern. It is cunning, convincing, and tyrannical in nature. It is feverish and ungrounded. Changing, morphing, and flopping from one story or idea to the next. This is your unharnessed mind. The persona you take on when your mind is not connected to the compass of the heart.

For most of us, that’s the dominant persona. But the other aspect of you, as if by some divine intervention, will from time to time slip past the censor of the mind and cheerfully take over your being with its boundless and uninhibited spirit. This personality doesn’t worry. Its face is often lifted, looking in wonder at the shifting sky and swollen moon. Lips curled into a slight smile. It is fluid and flowing, as if it’s on a river of unending joy. It acts like water and reflects light. You feel buoyant. This is your heart-centered self, your true self.

Because most of us moved into our mind long, long ago as a way of protecting our hearts, we now live most of our time in that rigid, concerned first persona. Without even realizing it, we allow our minds to stand between us and our true nature. We have no (conscious) idea how much our minds are acting as a defensive block against our soft and tender core, constantly at work trying to find ways to keep us from feeling, from hurt, from heartache. The price we are paying, however, is that we are also kept from accessing source.

In order to be heart minded, we need to bring the heart and mind into harmony and partnership with one another. For this to happen, we have to train the mind not to fear and close off from the heart, and instead, serve our heart and implement its wishes. In order to do this, we have to undo our mind’s association of feelings of the heart with hurt and harm. In situations that would ordinarily have us retreat or retaliate, we need to remain conscious of what’s happening and choose to soften and lean into our heart’s center. Each time we practice this softening, we send a new message to the mind that signals that we are safe, willing, and wanting to live in this more open, more sensitive way.

Over time, if we are resolute in our intention to step into our heart, our mind will become less rigid in its defenses against feelings and tenderness, and gradually we will become more heart centered.

Remember, we are not trying to pit the heart and mind against one another; we are trying to marry their aptitudes.

Let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you. You notice your mind begin to race and attach to fearful thoughts. The anxiety then morphs into panic, which courses through you and makes you feel like jumping out of your skin. You begin reaching for an escape, resorting to some form of substance or distraction that can act as a numbing balm.

What just happened? Because you avoided your distress, you are only slightly comforted. A part of you remains braced under the distraction, in fear of the next time this could happen. Your mind’s instinct to protect and defend has been confirmed.

Your heart is neglected and still aching.

But let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you and instead of looking for an escape route, you go to a quiet room to confront the feeling. You let go of the notion that something is wrong and respond as if something very right is taking place. You know some part of you is calling out for your love and attention.

Let’s say you close your eyes and open your heart to the bigness of the feeling. You create space around it simply by looking without resistance at its contours. You know the only antidote is self-love and hospitality. The mind stops racing away from the distress, which makes room for the heart to begin healing and soothing the body. Your mind learns a new route. You are gifted with courage and resilience.

The only difference between these scenarios was one simple choice: to remain a bystander as the mind continues to ignore the call of the body and heart or to act in ways that support leading from the heart, so the mind can follow.

The two can be wonderful allies if we let them.

As we become heart minded, we begin transforming our human experience from something out of our hands to something very much in them. We begin to cultivate joy instead of haphazardly stumbling upon it when we are willing.

Each moment, our bodies are counseling us to make choices that bring us closer to love. The wisdom of the heart and body is there for us, always, if we listen and let it lead.

For a guided practice in learning to stay in our hearts during difficult times, follow along with Sarah in this video.

 

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

 

Sarah Blondin

Sarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn More

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

A Grounding Meditation to Start Living From Your Heart

I would like to open with a grounding meditation. Feel free to listen to the meditation here or you can read along with the text below.

If I may, I’d like to guide you someplace warm. To an island not too far away. It won’t take much effort, just a few conscious breaths. And all I need for you to do is to stop. For this moment, stop seeking, stop solving, stop gritting and grinding. All you need is to close your eyes and receive. 

Quiet now, like water or sand. Settle now, like dusk and dew drop. One breath in, one breath out. One breath in, one breath out. Reorient yourself to face toward what is immovable inside you. Just look now. Trust and you shall see. It is there, to the left of your right lung, tucked just under your left rib, a warm small island, beating like a drum.  If you stand here long enough, you will feel the song inside being written, maybe even prayed over you. Moment by moment, it never stops. 

Can you feel you are unlacing something? Or better, something is unlacing you? Can you feel the fight stopping? The fear quieting? Can you feel your edges becoming more like wind or water, rather than shale and stone? Can you feel the light coming? The waves of warmth rising? 

Now move into this current of grace that your heart has created for you, and feel the great hush wash over you. Feel the substance of love holding your very atoms together. This is your heart, dear one. Never forget this is yours. Kneel here, whenever you are thirsty, whenever your feet are tired, or your hands are sore. Kneel here when you can’t see love any longer. Kneel here, dear one. Reorient yourself toward what is immovable in you.

My new book, Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love, was written to help remind us, reconnect us, reorient us with our hearts. Through story and guided meditation, I lead you through the fraught and sometimes frightening places holding you separate from your heart. It is a journey of healing that teaches you how to see and feel not from the mind, but from the wise seat of your very heart.

Now more than ever, we are being asked to move into the consciousness of the heart. Where love, compassion, “at-one-ment” become our governing virtues. When we see through the eyes of the heart, when we become heart minded, we stand as a beacon of light, burning back the dark.

Please join me in the heart-minded revolution. 

This originally appeared as an author letter to the Sounds True audience from Sarah Blondin.

 

sarah blondinSarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

book cover

Learn More

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop

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The Practice of Presence

PRACTICE ONE PRESENCE

START HERE . . .
I’m starting with love. I’m starting with breath.
I’m starting with stretching my body that carries me despite the aches.
I’m starting with a hand over my heart. I’m starting with forgiveness.
I’m starting with a clean slate.
I’m starting with a cup of tea and a crisp new page. I’m starting with a tearful release.
I’m starting with wind on my face and gratitude on my lips. I’m starting with my eyes up, not down.
Today, life is calling me to take my own path— Go at my own pace,
Stop when needed,
Notice the signs, people, and sights meant for me. Today, life is calling me to show up—
And I take this brave step by declaring . . .
Love is where I’m starting.
May it also be where I am going. Love IS the way.

Ever since I recovered Google Island, the book I wrote as a child, I’ve been making an intentional effort to connect with that younger version of me, the one I now call “my Dreamer Girl.”

This was the “me” who knew at a very early age that lovingly respond- ing to myself and those around me brought me joy. Over the past few years, I’ve spent time remembering what my Dreamer Girl was like.

She couldn’t walk by a stray cat without talking to it.

She marveled at the sounds she made with her violin and bow.

She loved the rush of the wind when she swung as high as she could go.

She freely ran through the sprinkler in her bathing suit, unhindered by her squarish body that held an abundance of freckles.

And most of all, my Dreamer Girl’s joy was found in filling spiral notebooks with observations, stories, and dreams.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I decided these inclinations were not acceptable and therefore needed to be abandoned. I’m pretty sure it was during adolescence when I began assuming the roles that gained the world’s approval—roles like the Planner, the Go-Getter, the Accommodator, the Helper, and the Overachiever—and when accolades took precedence over pleasure.

And those roles were just the beginning. In the twenty or so years that followed, I took on so many roles and expectations that it should have come as no surprise when it all became too heavy to bear.

But it did. I can still see myself at my breaking point—the teacher, the partner, the mother, the daughter, the sister, the volunteer, the completist, the juggler, the people-pleaser, the fixer, all simultane- ously coming undone during a morning jog, my well-crafted roles unraveling so quickly I didn’t even try to hold myself together.

Fueling my breakdown was a question I got a lot: “How do you do it all?” I’d always taken it as a compliment, but not on this particular day. At thirty-eight years old, I’d reached the very frayed end of myself, and that question loomed before me, forcing me to stop and face the answer I’d been running from.

I could “do it all” because I missed out on life—I missed out on the laughing, the playing, the creating, the connecting, the memory mak- ing . . . the living . . . the loving . . . and what I missed I cannot get back.

That truth was so gut-wrenching, I was forced to stop. I collapsed to my knees and I wept for all that I’d lost and the desolate place I was in. It was then and there that I decided to tell the truth. Looking back now, I realize the significance of that response. For once, I did not push the pain and discomfort away. I allowed myself to feel it, to let truth enlight- en me, which is why tears of despair turned into tears of relief.

I’d lost my connection with my Dreamer Girl, the tree climber, the notebook filler, the music maker, the seed planter—but she was not gone. Oh no, she was still with me, in here, hand over heart.

I just needed some time . . . space . . . and permission to reconnect with her.

Dear Soul Shift Companion, does that thought resonate with you? Because here’s the reality: as we grow further and further away from childhood, the demands and stress of life increase. We forget we have the power to say yes to what delights our heart and soul, makes us feel alive, and brings us peace. But in order to live an au- thentic, joyful, and purposeful life, we must remember how to say yes to those very things!

We can do it through the Practice of Presencean intentional choice to temporarily push away distractions and be fully present in the mo- ments of our life.

Within hours of my emotional morning run, I made this choice for myself.

I was in the middle of making lunches. My younger daughter, Avery, who was almost four years old at the time, was on the sofa watching The Lion King. My computer was open, the phone was buzzing, and I was thinking about all the things I needed to do that day. In that moment, I looked up and noticed—really noticed—my child. A clear voice inside me said, “Go be with her. There is nothing more import- ant right now.”

Without closing the bag of bread or looking at the clock, I placed the knife across the jar of peanut butter and went to hold my child.

What happened next was something no one had ever done in my whole life: my daughter brought my hand to her lips and gently kissed the inside of my palm, as if offering a silent but powerful acknowledg- ment of my presence.

This is remarkable, I thought. Tears filled my eyes.

I was so grateful I did not miss that moment and knew I didn’t want to miss any more.

This strong desire to not miss my life is what sparked my Practice of Presence.

Of course, at the time, I did not know it would become my Practice of Presence . . . I called it “going hands free,” a term that was inspired by that kiss-on-the-hand moment.

It might sound contradictory to the process, but being a planner, I needed a plan. Realistically, I knew I could not overhaul my life, give up technology, or abandon all my duties and responsibilities, but that initial response I made to heed the inner voice demonstrated it was possible and practical for me to dedicate small increments of time to just being present.

As an experienced teacher of students with behavioral issues and low self-esteem, I knew the impact of small, achievable steps in creating new, positive pathways. Change begins with a behavioral action, and when you change your behavior, your perspective starts to shift, too.

So, I started with ten-minute periods of time during which I set aside my phone, computer, and agenda to be fully present and open to connection.

It was impossible not to notice how one choice produced a ripple of positive outcomes. For example, after opening my pop-up chair at my older daughter’s swim meet, I chose not to get out my work in an attempt to maximize the free time. Seeing my open lap and available attention, Avery asked if she could sit there. Holding her made me feel at peace and connected to her. When the meet was delayed, I did not fly off the handle because my plan was derailed. Instead, my daughters and I went and asked the coach how we could help, which he seemed to appreciate.

We got home later than expected that night, but I hadn’t yelled or felt that internal pressure . . . which resulted in my falling asleep without the pain of regret. With one choice to be fully present, a series of mean- ingful experiences were created, lasting far beyond a solitary moment.

As I continued to practice choosing connective presence over pro- ductivity, efficiency, distraction, and control, I realized that a feeling of peace consistently came along with that choice; it was as if I was receiving an internal message of encouragement from my soul that said, This feels in line with how I want to live.

Now, does this mean that from this point on life was rainbows and butterflies? Absolutely not. The damaging habits and beliefs I’d car- ried for decades were deeply ingrained, and life continued to deliver unexpected challenges. So, naturally, there were times when I didn’t choose a loving, compassionate, or healthy response to conflicts or big feelings. But . . . I was practicing.

And here was the difference: when I encountered a painful exter- nal clue—a wounded expression, a troubling comment, an upsetting memory, an uneasy feeling—I did not push it away. The difference was . . . I acknowledged it. I allowed myself to feel my response to the discomfort without judgment, so it could be used as information to lead and enlighten me.

Because of this willingness to be present for it all—the remarkable moments and the mundane moments, the peaceful moments and the uncomfortable moments—I was able to move from the painful truth of I am missing my life to a new, healing truth:

Rachel Macy Stafford is the New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, Only Love Today, and Live Love Now. Rachel is a certified special education teacher whose personal strategies are universal invitations to embrace life with urgency and cultivate connection despite the distractions of our culture. Her blog and social media platform are sources of inspiration to millions. For more, visit handsfreemama.com.

Transform your relationship with your kitchen—and yo...

Hello gorgeous community of amazing human beings,

For the last 15 years, I have been cooking up this question: 

What does it look like to nourish YOU? 

 

Let’s drop everything we might think this is 
and everything you didn’t get done today 

and bring our collective shoulders down from the sky. 

Let’s take a minute here. We are just getting started, yet I feel we need to slow down. Will you take a deep breath with me? Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for breathing. There is nothing to do here. 

You can bring your awareness to your breath with an inhale through your nose. Open your mouth slightly and exhale with a HAAAAAAAAA sound. It feels so good to drop everything and breathe. Me too. To let go, even a little, is a real lovefest for the heart and mind = heart mind. 

It feels so good, can we do one more? 
You can close your eyes this time if you want to—

I will be right here. 

We are just getting here, together.

Now let me ask you again: 
What does it look like to nourish YOU?

What if I told you that your kitchen is a place of stories, mothers, grandmothers, imprints, and emotional weather patterns that shaped how you live now? It is also a place to deeply nourish yourself and cook up the life you have been longing to live. 

Your kitchen (yes your kitchen!) is a fierce, unconditionally loving mother holding what is ripe and ready to become inside of YOU. Who would have thought that you can heal your life in your kitchen? I did! And now you can.  

I am excited to share my new book: The Kitchen Healer: The Journey to Becoming You.

It invites you to bring your entire body into the kitchen, put your shame into the fire, offer your grief to the soup—allowing all you have been hungry for to begin to feed YOU. As you turn on the fire, you will come home to yourself. You will make the room you need, to hear and see and feel the stories you have been carrying.  

 

You will begin, again and again, to become YOU. 
Welcome home. 

In loving service to your courage, your kitchen healer,
x x x x jules

Jules Blaine Davis, the Kitchen Healer, is a TED speaker and one of Goop’s leading experts on women’s healing. She has led transformational gatherings, retreats, and a private practice for over fifteen years. She has facilitated deeply nourishing experiences at OWN and on retreat with Oprah Winfrey, among many other miracles. Jules is a pioneer in her field, inviting women to awaken and rewrite the stories they have been carrying for far too long in their day-to-day lives. She is cooking up a movement to inspire and support women to discover who they are becoming.

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