Hello 2016 – Here I AM!

As I step nervously toward the edge I feel weak in my legs. Nothing but vast Atlantic Ocean reaches out before me. No land stands between me and the West Coast of Africa. The rising sun is mirrored on the swelling waters. Almost 100m of a drop below me to the frothing waves crashing against the cliffs, sculpted by the never-ending beat of the sea. The warm Caribbean winds gust around me, testing my balance. On the narrow rock beneath me a number of fiercely prickly cacti await any misplaced step or loss of balance. Standing alone here on the Southern most tip of Antigua on New Year’s day 2016, I feel called to step out onto this overhanging cliff edge. “Crikey!” I wonder. “What on earth for?”

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This is the spot for my New Year ritual! I went back the next day with my sister who took this picture. Southern Coast, Antigua. © Georgina Peard

Imagining some passionate and triumphant Kate-Winslet-on-the-Titanic-type moment, I find myself on the edge of fear and elation. In honesty, more fear than elation! There is no Leonardo DiCaprio to hold me safe here!!

I feel incredibly vulnerable. 

Face-to-face with the immensity and power of nature, I feel tiny. The insignificance of ME and my life is glaring at me.

I try to ground down through my feet and legs. “C’mon, I can do this. I’m a yogic, shamanic, spiritually-connected, free, inspired -being for goodness sake!! What is there to be scared of? Trust more. Let go. Feel the stability rising up from the support of the Earth.”

I desperately want to drop to all fours and hold on for dear life, but with me and the “fierce” cacti on this bit of rock there’s not enough space for hands and feet. “Dammit! This is ridiculous. What am I trying to prove?”

But something in me keeps me there. I consciously experience the fear rather than shying away from it back to my comfort zone. 

I am aware of the voices playing in my mind – “don’t be stupid, get away from the edge, the rocks could crumble or the wind catch you”, “there’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s all in your mind, anyone else could do that easy”.

“HERE I AM!” I hear myself suddenly shout out at the top of my lungs. I breathe deep and do it a few more times. I start to realise what I am doing.

Here I AM with all my fear and doubt and vulnerability.

Here I AM with all my vices and failings and weaknesses.

Here I AM with all my strengths and gifts and accomplishments.

Here I AM with all my stuff.

Here I AM as me, in this moment, a work in progress.

Here I AM authentically human. No more. No less.

Here I AM 2016.

In this moment, there is no proclaiming limitless power or holding on to dreamy visions and hopes of what I want to be or think I should be. The visceral fear has me totally present, stripped down to the naked truth. I am humbled. I am real.

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“HERE I AM !!” Stepping out and showing up with ALL I am! Heart open, legs still a little nervous! © Georgina Peard

As I step into 2016 I choose to show up in my naked truth. To be honest and compassionate and confident in my awesome imperfection. To engage fully and courageously in the human experience with all I am. Yes all of it! And I choose to DARE GREATLY. 

(Indeed, I owe much to my inspiring read during the end of year holidays of Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly” which I highly recommend!! )

I step slightly back from the edge where I find a little bit more space to move. I let my heart and soul sing as loud as I want. No-one can hear. I chant and and let my body move as I perform an intuitive ritual to celebrate and welcome in this new year.

A big brown pelican takes flight from below and surfs gracefully the gusts of wind. I start to feel in my body the power of the ocean, the wind, the sun and the land. The fear and vulnerability are still there but I am leaning into them, accepting the discomfort and dancing with it. It feels good!

Finally, I jump back off the overhang and breathe a sigh of relief as I settle back into my comfort zone. I acknowledge my courage and at the same time giggle at my self for the drama!!

That little unexpected adventure reminded me of what it takes and how it feels to step out of my comfort zone; that I can stand consciously in my fear and vulnerability; and that this is where I may grow the most.

On the edge of the comfort zone is where we are most ALIVE! 

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and abundant 2016.
May you dare greatly and enjoy the ride!

Happy New Year! Original artwork by Georgina Peard :)) © Georgina Peard

 

Eight keys to happiness…… really?

Cheesy title, I know! Are you curious? Is it possible to identify the keys to happiness? Scientists seem to think so. Marketing and sales people certainly like to think they can! The Government of Bhutan is giving it a go. Perhaps the subject is over-worked and yet, isn’t it the quest of every person every day?!

I would say that my whole life is committed to exploring the art of joyful living, which actually goes beyond happiness since I quite enjoy experiencing other emotions too. However, I do seek out ways that allow me to experience happiness as often as possible. Let’s admit, it’s pretty easy to get attached to it!!

So in my personal quest, here are what I, in my humble opinion, consider to be eight keys to (my) happiness*.

1. Community
I truly believe this is number 1, and top priority, even if sometimes we don’t like to admit it. For me, community involves sharing, supporting each other through the good times and the challenges, celebrating together, moving on purpose together, learning from each other, receiving, contributing and giving back. Everyone has their place. Why is it so important for our happiness? It’s in our nature. True community allows us to feel safe, connected and that we belong. From firm roots we can stand to be all of who we are. And ultimately happiness needs to be shared!

happiness-is-when-you-think-what-you-say-and-what-you-do-are-in-harmony2. Following your truth (authenticity)
To follow your truth requires you to be connected to yourself, to be clear on who you are, what you stand for, what you want and what feels right in any given moment. It is to discern between your truth and your conditioning. It is to truly, deeply value yourself and your right to be a happy, healthy you. It is to fully trust your heart and inner guidance, even as you move through limiting beliefs and fears. It is to be authentic in how you show up in life and how you relate to others. To follow your truth is to live on purpose. It allows you to be free and follow your joy. Yep, its a biggy!!

3. Embodied self expression
Happiness is not a theoretical idea. It is a physiological experience, involving hormones! You need to get into your body and feel it. Being the full and authentic expression of yourself through your physical body, energy and emotions supports happiness. For me, for example, this comes through intuitive dance movement and sound, through my sensuality and sexuality, as well as through bringing all of myself into every massage or even every hug. It is daring to explore and reveal and be moved by your magnificent and ever-changing internal landscape. It is being and experiencing all of you.

4.Self nourishment
Healthy food, fresh air, exercise, rest, laughter, a massage, a hot bath, an early night, picking flowers, gardening, painting, singing in the shower, a holiday in the sun, a walk in the park, a yummy chocolate moelleux dessert! Enjoying whatever makes your heart sing. A good dose of self-love every day is a must I reckon. Take responsibility for your happiness.

5. Intimacy
Intimacy is connecting deeply, emotionally, vulnerably to another person. It is about opening your heart to love, letting your guard down, and sharing what you really feel and who you are. It is feeling another person emotionally and energetically, and letting their love in. It’s hugging for 20 seconds or more! Intimacy can be shared without words, but being able to communicate from your heart as well massively enhances intimacy. And again, happiness needs to be shared.

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6. Spending time in nature
It nourishes the soul, as well as the body and mind. Tonnes of research (especially my own experiential research of course!) shows that time in nature makes you feel more alive, gives you a sense of vitality, improves your immune system, reduces depression, and activates parts of the brain associated with balance and happiness. As you soak in the negative ions and take a deep breath of fresh air, it seems to put things back into perspective. It brings you home. We are nature after all!

7. Being present – choosing happiness
Feeling your body (physical, emotional, energetic) and focusing your mind (where you put your attention) gets you present. To be present is to be in awe and wonder at what is real right now. It is to live in the question rather than the answer. How could you ever be bored or anxious if you are truly present in every moment? To be present doesn’t guarantee happiness of course. But if you are not present you might miss the happiness! And only if you are present can you choose to be happy, to follow what makes you happy or to be surprised by it! It is only NOW that exists.

8. Time with Self
happiness-is-an-inside-job-11A little bit of time every day to be quiet, tune in and be still in yourself. This is the most important relationship you will ever have. Whether you like it or not, it is for life! It can be an exquisite love relationship that needs to be honoured. Be still within you (so that can be through movement too) and listen. Open with compassion to the learning and guidance. Here is the potential to feel connection to Source or Spirit, something beyond your physical body. I like to honour Spirit by connecting morning and evening, and giving gratitude at the end of every day. It brings me incredible stillness, trust and yep, happiness!

 

So there it is, my reflection on some keys to happiness. Perhaps not the definitive list though I reckon you could fit most things into these eight points, if expanded on further. But of course, please don’t take my truth for granted. What is it that makes you happy? What would you add or remove from this list? I’d love to hear.

Happiness-Is...header * as a caveat – I don’t consider these to be universal and I am focusing on happiness once you have your basic human needs met. 

 

To live heart open

What does it really mean to open our hearts and live heart open? It would be nice to imagine that it means to feel happy and blissful all the time. But that’s not it.

The more we open our hearts, the more we feel. The more we feel, the more we have access to experience and express abundant joy, awe and wonder, pleasure, passion, love, intimacy and true connection with others. The more we feel, the more easily we can also experience sadness, longing, envy, anger, grief, loneliness and the pain of disconnection and closing.

We often label emotions as positive or negative, but to live heart open is to let life and energy move through us freely. Emotion = energy in motion. Suffering comes only when we judge, suppress or block that energy based on societal norms, conditioning or fear. It may be that we misuse that energy by not taking responsibility for it and projecting it out onto others, such as through blame, abuse, resentment or rage.

Imagine being angry, letting out a roar, “I am so Angry!” and feeling your body vibrate with the fire of passion within you. Imagine feeling lonely and letting yourself drop into the vast emptiness within you, that space from which all longing can emerge. Imagine being in nature and opening all of your senses in awe and wonder to the beauty before you. Imagine being so close and intimate with another that you can feel their energy merge with yours.

open-heart-feed-soulTo live heart open means to need others, to let love in, to be vulnerable. It means to connect deeply to yourself and your inner truth. It means to express that truth and all of who you are to the world, when it is safe to do so, without the masks or role-play.

As I learn to open my heart it feels exhilarating to feel so much, to let in more love and to let more of me out. I dance, I sing, I laugh more. As I dare to share my truth, my longing and my fears, it is scary to feel so vulnerable and exposed. Each time I stretch just a little bit more open I can feel a part of me running for cover, to close and hide away. Each time I step into the light to be seen and heard, I feel a little part of me collapsing in fear. And the more I open, the more I need love, support, a warm embracing hug, and a shoulder to cry on.

I want to follow and share my truth, but the truth is that I am not always met. I risk being rejected, judged and misunderstood. I do not always have the love and support around me that I long for. I feel the pain of the disconnect even more. I feel my heart break and my heart close.

So what to do? Do I close again so as not to feel this pain, and at the same time close down the amount of joy and love I can experience? No, I want to keep going, to let my heart break open, to be an open heart warrior, to dare to follow my heart’s truth even if that leads to disappointment or judgement. This, for me, is to feel alive and free.

To live heart open means to be able to hold in compassion my own full range of emotions so that I can then be present to and hold in compassion the full range of emotions in others.

So are you ready to meet me there and celebrate each individual’s truth, hearts open?

From anxiety and perfectionism to Being Me!

What if it was enough just to be me? What if it was enough just to show up? 

For any perfectionists out there that idea might seem quite foreign or even scary, and you may never have consciously reflected on it before. 

Perfectionism often goes hand in hand with anxiety. They can be mutually supportive strategies. In other words, in my desire to be perfect, I have an underlying anxiety that keeps me always striving to do better, to do more.

But as Brené Brown says, “perfectionism is not about striving for excellence, or a healthy striving, it is a cognitive behavioural process that says if  I look perfect, do it perfect, say it perfect…. i can avoid or minimise shame, blame or judgement.”

Wow! Those are pretty uncomfortable feelings alright, and most of us would do whatever it takes to avoid them. Underneath the surface then, behind the protective armour of the perfectionist, is a deep fear of revealing himself or herself to the world in case that will be judged as not enough, unworthy or even bad. And if that is the case, he or she would presumably not be loved.

Isn’t it crazy how our unconscious mind works ?!

Anxiety combined with perfectionism is an attempt to avoid  failing or not being good enough. Have you noticed though how tiring and restrictive it feels to be constantly trying to achieve perfection ? And do you ever achieve it ?

Here’s a thought. Tiredeness is a result of our efforts to be something that we are not, or to be more than we fear we are.

What is the opposite? Authenticity. Being me. Raw and naked as I come!!!

So I repeat…. What if it was Enough just to Be Me ?

I may not be perfect

Of course it is ! It always is. We may still be shamed, blamed and judged, but that does not actually mean that it is not enough or ok to be me. And it does not mean either that we will actually feel or assume the shame, blame or judgement that is coming at us from others. That’s coming from their own fears. I would say, rather, that ‘being me’ is so much more powerful and empowering than not. Brené Brown of course explains this best !

Being me is a practice of Respect.

What do I mean by this? As I show up, raw and naked, without trying to protect a part of who I might be, or cover up my shame, I am present with you. I am daring to reveal myself to you.  So as I respect, and love and  accept myself, I am naturally led to respect, love and accept you.

Being me is to be Safe.

Without the layers of protection, and commentaries in the mind of how I might be judged or how I might improve, I am radically present. I am connected to my body and my intuition, and I can therefore act and react in ways that are right in that moment, for both my safety and my joy.

Being me is Healing.

As I connect with me I begin to become conscious of what moves me. As I become conscious I can make choices to move toward what brings me joy and well-being in my life.

Similarly, as I connect with me and reveal that to you, I provide you the space to do the same, and I notice that we in fact are the same ! I see what it is that connects us rather than separates us.

Being me is the road to Greatness.

This is a recognition that is changing my life !  In an attempt to be perfect I am missing out on the real opportunity to be Great ! As I let go to reveal myself to the world and become all that I am, I am in fact discovering my innate wisdom, inner power and unique potential.

So I leave you with this thought !

 Don’t be perfect – Be GREAT !

Other related posts in this series: 

Anxiety

Stability or Anxiety? You Choose!