Loving Kindness & Mindful Travel
I’ve decided to embrace Loving Kindness in the way I travel.
On May 1 I’m leaving for Italy where I’ll spend 5 weeks.
Here are 3 themes I’m being intentional about as I prepare. I know you can relate.
1. Baggage. I mean emotional baggage.
To take better care of my heart I’ll practice not bringing any of that with me. All of the things of trips before: that either didn’t work well, or did work well are now things of the past. I’ve noticed as an older person that many of us over a certain age are in the age of reminiscence. Meaning we go on and on about things that already happened. I catch myself. I want to look forward to the now and things yet to come. That’s a practice I can get behind wholeheartedly. New beginning, fresh start steeped in Loving Kindness. I can cherish the good and honor the negative as a way to align my light and shadow. To strengthen my own inner authority. I feel a sense of gathering within myself. The past 8 months have been a time of intense healing and grounding. Each day I’m here, I’m whole, I’m Jane.
2. Walking on the ground. I mean literally walking on the ground.
I wonder how much I’ve missed while traveling because I’m distracted by taking a picture on my phone, checking my phone, or just not practicing actually being in the place I am? To just tuck the phone away, walk slowly, BE PRESENT, sit down and savor it all. I’ve done this yes, in bits and pieces, but now I’m planning to take it to a whole new level. You’ll find me feeling into my own Loving Kindness as I practice slow walking meditations, sitting for long periods inside an ancient duomo, in a field of poppies, or at an outdoor cafe in an ancient village sipping, perhaps scribbling images or words, and being slow. I want to feel actual boredom before I leave a spot. I want to live the full measure of hours spent in sacred places. To become so still and awake that I can feel deep into my creative fire. To hear my own breathing. To unfetter my to do list.
3. Packing light, slowing, letting there be mystery.
Less is more and we sort of know that but still that suitcase always gets a bit too heavy right? I have 2 packing sessions. The first one is to put clothing and other items into my suitcase where I let it sit for a couple days. Then the day before I leave I remove about 25% of it. I’ve learned that I never miss what I took out. Why is that? Because it’s fun to leave uncertainty as an actual thing that is ok. To not know and to not have to plan for every day, feeling, mood or what may arise. We’ve become almost neurotic with it right? It’s much more enjoyable to loosen up the shackles and start to relax your preferences. Trust me, this will come in handy when the plane is delayed, train is late, food is terrible, someone is rude…on and on. All of this happens when we travel and it’s part of the deal. And also part of the deal is that planes go on time and the train is early! and the food is amazing and people are helpful and loving. All of this too. We breath Loving Kindness into these moments knowing that if we stay present, we can handle what is right in front of us moment by moment.
All of these themes can be applied to other areas of our life besides travel.
We can practice letting go a bit more and stay open to the mystery.
For today, spend a few moments writing or reflecting about where you can add more Loving Kindness to your life by letting mystery flow.
Hello dear heart-
Sometimes we need to remember the things in life that dazzle us and give us great pleasure.
And now and then we completely forget about magic. Things that thrill us to the core.
How do we find ourselves in this state?
Maybe we’ve been focusing so hard on what we want or what we perceive others to have that we’re no longer sure what would feel good to us.
Or it’s possible that we’ve been listening to other people’s voices for so long that we can’t even hear our own.
It’s incredibly change making to hear the sound of your own desire.
To know that you’re allowed to dream or ask for wonderful things to happen in your life.
If you’ve lost the pizazz, there is no cause for alarm. The cure is at hand and here’s how it looks:
You go into meditation, you ask for the best thing you can imagine from this moment and then you add the phrase,
“All of this, or something even better.”
This is how we tend to our own self love.
The benefits of adding this phrase are two-fold. One, it allows the universe to match your ask, or bring you something even better that you couldn’t have even conceived at the time. And two, it takes away the fear that you aren’t asking for the right things, so you just practice asking and get better and better at it without any pressure.
I’m leaving for Italy May 1st! I’ll be there for 5 weeks. I’ll be hosting 2 retreats and traveling to the beautiful island of Sicily! I plan to share tons of pics and stories.
Meanwhile, I’m thrilled about:
*Walking! I can take walks up to 30 minutes. Whee!
*Buds and Blooms-spring is here. Cherishing the moments.
*Being Present. Life is so so so so fabulous.
*Teaching the monks in Italy. On May 4 I’ll teach a group of monks in Italy. Restorative yoga. Will share more after.
Spring is the perfect time to seed self-love.
Take good care of YOU,
PS. Feel free to find some self-love inspiration in my shop where you can find free mudras, meditations and yoga grooves.
Hello Dear One-
As Spring unfolds, Loving Kindness continues to open itself to me and lead me home.
Year after year, the practice guides me gently.
What is this new season opening in your life?
Recently I was interviewed about writing my first book on one of my favorite podcasts, Tranquility du Jour with Kimberly Wilson.
Kimberly’s questions prompted me to create and share a list about my experience as an author in hopes that you’ll be able to relate to some of the lessons I learned and feel inspired by them.
8 things I learned writing A Heart of Gold:
1-I had to address my perfectionism and how it was killing my creative instincts.
What stops many people from writing a book or creating in general is the idea that if it isn’t really really amazing then it’s too daunting, frustrating, unnerving, impossible, unworthy or boring to do it. We’ve got unrealistic ideas about what will happen after the finish line.
I was quite sure that I had nothing new to say, wasn’t sure how to say what I did want to say, and felt very insecure about my own capabilities to see it through. Would anyone care?
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was really the only one who needed to care. I could let myself be free by just desiring to write a book, without knowing at all if it would be good or widely approved of. Once I was able to let myself feel surrendered to that theme, it all just took off. Granted I had an amazing editor guiding me all the way through but I still had to get up each day and keep writing and writing and writing. I wrote almost 80,000 words over a 3 month period to get to a less than 40,000 page book that was concise and clear.
Ultimately what drove me to write and finish A Heart of Gold is me befriending my fears and offering myself unconditional love about the writing process. I was able to embrace my own vulnerability and just go with it. It ended up being a way for me to know myself deeper and offer myself deep loving kindness. Which in turn, fueled the writing because of the obvious topic:)
2-Writing a book is an ongoing meditation.
Time passed differently than any other activity I’ve ever done while writing my book. I could sit for hours and just be with the letters, words, images and tone. It became a way into my soft side. I learned to cherish my writing time as it soothed my central nervous system much like meditation does. I was free as I recalled memories and times in my life of great awakening, change, sadness, joy and everything in between. It was very healing and cathartic. There were joyful moments, tearful moments and clear moments of who I am, where I’ve been, what I’m becoming.
3-There’s no magic path.
I didn’t know this until I was completely finished writing A Heart of Gold but in my view there isn’t any singular thought leader, book, or course that can teach you the best path to writing a book. Lots of people claim to have the key, but for me it worked like this. I’ve taken courses, read books, been coached on topics relating to writing or running my business. I’ve picked up tons of good advice or ideas along the way. Ultimately it’s my own voice, intelligence, and plan that kept me going and my own insights along the way that gave me the confidence and energy to finish. Not that there aren’t wise guides for us to know about but I think we give too much energy to outside sources. We already know so much! It’s just that we need help remembering. The quiet hours of digging in and writing, staying with it help us remember. It’s like training a puppy. Stay, stay, stay.
4-Consistency leads to joy and possibly success.
I recognize that the most important things in my life which make me genuinely happy, healthy and whole are because I’ve consistently practiced them year after year. I kept going no matter what. Not easy at all, but consistent behaviors have taught me the most about who I am and what I’m capable of. Whether it’s staying engaged in my most intimate relationships, practicing yoga, meditation, cooking, running, reading, gardening, traveling, running a business, returning over and over again to host retreats in Italy or writing my blog. I’ve kept at it and the returns are high. All of the things we stop and start are asking us to find the jewel. Stay with it and find the jewel.
5-Compassionate commitment is a beautiful thing.
Once I realized I craved the full experience of writing a book I was all in. I wasn’t as interested as would it make money (it has!), would my friends and family gush over it (some have and some have said nothing:), or would it open doors for me.
There is definitely a before and after. No question that writing a book will take you places that you couldn’t go before the book. It gives you a new credibility and yes doors do open wider.
But the combination of having compassion for the entire process and then committing to finishing no matter what, are what carried me. I could let my heart rest with compassion and honor my desire to commit to the end be my framework. I felt tons of freedom in that scenario. It was a bit like getting over myself too. I was able to get into the zone and a portal opened up. The universe started to lift me and offer me frequent messages, insights and ways to approach the overall art form of the book itself. My days were totally intentional and I loved that way of being.
6-I’ve become more open hearted.
As an author I’ve become much more sensitive to other writers and creatives. It’s a joy when I hear of a colleague or someone I admire who is painting a new work or launching something they’ve always dreamed of, writing a book or finished one! I’ve got inside scoop on what it all means and it’s like being in a secret society. It’s vulnerable and daring to go there. So worth it in ways that are completely unique to each of us. I’ve noticed my own heart has become more sensitive and open to anyone producing any sort of art.
7-People from far off lands will write you the most beautiful notes.
This has by far been one of the most cherished gifts of my authorship. Like the woman who teaches troubled teen girls in France. She found me on Instagram and ordered my book. Then wrote to me with beautiful praise and shared how she used the book in an event she hosted where over 100 girls in France learned about self care and self love! Each girl received a copy of the book. She told me about the huge impact it had on the girls. This story alone was enough reason for me to write the book. That 100 teenage girls could be helped on their life journey just means the world to me. I get teary just thinking about this. Not to mention many of the girls have personally written to me. It’s truly a heart swelling thrill.
8-I’m good at doing difficult things.
Writing a book is difficult. There I said it. Writing a book is not for wimps. It’s a journey into yourself like no other. It makes me feel more resilient and less fearful. Like it’s ok to go for it and do other super hard things. My zest for life has increased. My energy has shifted and many of the smaller things that used to get to me, seem to have faded. It’s like I’ve been elevated to a place where I can feel more of my own loving kindness.
And now what about you?
What’s something you really want to do but are holding back on?
Sit down and ponder this. What’s one thing you could do today to get started?
Write to me and let me know! I love hearing from you.
Thanks for being here with me.
Recently I had the opportunity to do some teaching to brand new yoga teachers in Madison, Wisconsin. While I was there, I went to a predominately Black Baptist church on Sunday morning.
I love how when we make the space to try something new, we receive generously.
From the moment I entered the space, the energy was high and loving.
My husband and I were warmly welcomed by everyone there.
A woman named Cecilia gave the sermon, which was titled “How to break up with your issues.”
She said that in order to let go of old patterns and things that make us miserable we need to make space.
We need to break away from what ails our hearts.
And we can’t do it if we just keep imagining that our life is already set.
Or if there is nothing new on the horizon.
We may know this intellectually but still we don’t act on it, or make space for it in daily life.
When we make space to feel more Loving Kindness, we have more space for our own humanity. And the humanity of others.
Cecilia’s sermon reminded me of how much I long to help people make new space for Loving Kindness and true self-care. It’s something I care very deeply about and I aspire to keep teaching and exploring this topic in all that I do.
I wrote extensively about this in A Heart of Gold and I want to share with you a few thoughts from the book and also a meditation that you can use to re-imagine a more beautiful way to live. More space for you, dear heart.
From A Heart of Gold:
Deeply embedded in our culture and way of being is the profound need to produce, move forward and compete to make our way to a successful happy life. Living this way is so common and habitual that we don’t always know how deeply entrenched we are. We have been wired to think that we are supposed to be busy and tired, so it’s going to take a huge shift in awareness to bring us back to wholeness.
Loving Kindness helps us get off the train of continuously suffering and longing to be a different version of ourselves. When we get off that train, we can sit still and know that we are okay just as we are.
Of course this practice is not easy, because the world is constantly trying to bring us back to a different wavelength, one of struggle and striving.
Women in particular have a really hard time leaning into self-love. We are so conditioned to care for children, partners, family members and others then we often come last. Culturally there is a huge push on women to excel at everything for everyone else, and then maybe if there are a few minutes left at the end of the day, they can squeeze in five minutes of yoga.
Self-love is one of our greatest struggles. Most women I know are exceedingly hard on themselves. We’re pretty sure that we have to accomplish a huge list of things before we can be worthy of our own love, let alone anyone else’s. We don’t really like who we are so we keep trying to solve something, which keeps us stuck in an exhausting daily grind.
Often in order to let ourselves off the hook, we need one-on-one intimate helpers, guides, wise woman mentors.
Helping women tend to their own self-love has become my life’s work. I began teaching yoga out of compassion for myself, and for the women around me who needed permission to love themselves. Then I started leading sacred retreats out of a desire to help women clear space, make time and embrace the importance of loving themselves.
I have had retreat students tell me that being on retreat is the first time in their lives that they actually felt self-love and had the space to fully embody it in real time.
I long for women to love themselves in daily practice, not just once or twice in a lifetime.
I want women to have all the space they need and desire, so I wrote you this meditation. Use it today or print it out and carry it with you as you consider making space for your beautiful self.
A Meditation For Women To Make Space For Something New
After all the time you have spent tending to others, now is your time.
You are a magnanimous human being and you deserve all of the love and tenderness life has to offer.
I give you permission to take your foot off the pedal. Your body won’t tolerate the pedal-to-the-floor stress forever.
Your life is too precious not to generate more qualities of equanimity.
You need cozy little nooks of inner okay-ness.
You need a place for a respite. Where can you rest, dear one?
Your life is not a race to the finish line. Where can you just stop?
You are beautiful just as you are. Your heart, your soul, whatever is emerging as you begin to know yourself, it belongs.
You are worthy of all the love you can give yourself in this lifetime.
You can love yourself without conditions and without limits.
Every moment that you take your gaze inward and love yourself is a moment that you are coming home to your true self, who you really are.
Let yourself pause today. Leave the dishes or the laundry. Take some time to sit in your own love for yourself and be warmed by it like the sun thawing out the ground in spring.
Begin to notice if there is something new on the horizon for you?
Can you sense something else coming?
In order to make space for new growth, maybe there is something you can let go of that is no longer serving you.
Where can you open your hands to let go?
And then hold them open to receive?
Begin to imagine a world in which you live fully awake to that which the universe is generously giving to you.
I wish you generous amounts of true rest, wide open space and love for yourself, dear heart.
The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating.
— Indian philosopher Krishnamurti
Can you think of the last time that you noticed something that someone was doing, and you made a judgment about that person?
We do it every day.
Instead of seeing the wholeness of a person, we label.
We use all kinds of words to describe people. Even if we don’t use them outloud, simple words like rude, mean, ignorant, or stupid float in and out of our minds as we take in the world around us. We are always assessing.
We see someone doing something we think is wrong and we immediately begin to draw conclusions about that person instead of just observing them.
We have been taught this way of viewing the world for so long that we can hardly tell the difference between simply observing and evaluating.
But observing is the way of Loving Kindness.
In Vipassana Meditation, the most often repeated phrase is “Just observe. Just observe. Just observe.”
You learn the practice by observing your breath. In Vipassana, you don’t try to change your breath or even to control it. You just observe it. Just observe.
When you observe, you are in Pure Presence. You have no need to evaluate. You just are.
One of the reasons we evaluate or judge is that it helps us to defend ourselves. It is on the basis of making others “wrong” that we are able to declare ourselves as “right.”
Byron Katie says that “defense is the first act of war.”
If we observe instead of defend, if we remain present instead of beginning to judge, we choose an act of peace instead of an act of war.
Choosing peace is always the way of Loving Kindness.
And with all the practices of Loving Kindness, first you begin with yourself.
As soon as you walk away from reading this email, you might catch yourself in the middle of a judgment. You might be tempted to make a judgment about yourself for being judgmental. Instead, try to just observe yourself.
That’s interesting that I made a judgment of that person.
Just be with yourself in Loving Kindness in the moment of observing.
The more you practice observing yourself with Loving Kindness, the more you will be able to offer Loving Kindness to others.
And in doing so, you will be decreasing duality in our world.
May you live more and more, dear heart, into the practice of Loving Kindness!
PS. If you’re unfamiliar with Byron Katie’s work, you can listen to her interview with Oprah on her Super Soul Conversations Podcast.
PPS. Also, if you want more Loving Kindness in your life, I wrote a whole book on practicing Loving Kindness. Order it right here.
A few words on Awakening Bodhicitta.
In Buddhism, bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish for a compassionate mind.
Bodhicitta is a combination of the Sanskrit words bodhi and citta. Bodhi means “awakening” or “enlightenment.” Citta means “that which is conscious” or in other words, “the conscious mind.”
Therefore, Bodhicitta may be translated as “awakening mind.”
Or it is the mind that strives toward awakening and compassion. But the more you study bodhicitta, the more there is an element of the spontaneous about it. In many ways, you happen upon this wish for empathy and love for all beings.
An interesting benefit of breaking my leg last year is that I have begun to pay attention to movement differently. Ironically, it is the inability to move that has given me this special attention for movement. I notice the feeling of my feet touching the ground. I notice slow steps I take. My senses are awakened. I don’t just feel the steps. I hear them. I see them intentionally.
The gift of being forced to move carefully and with great intention is that I watch how I move through my day. I am keenly aware of what a miracle it is that our bodies carry us through life. Each day they hold space for our way of being in the world.
Before I broke my leg, I was perhaps pushing too much. In fact, maybe my body found a rather drastic way to slow my movements down. The universe is showing me a slower, gentler way of moving through the world.
Now that I am moving slower, I observe that others in the world seem to be moving so quickly. I am not evaluating their movements as “good” or “bad.” Rather, I notice that I have a compassionate wish for others to experience the joy of slow movement. I wonder if it would give others more joy to feel the ground beneath their feet.
When someone is walking with me, naturally, they are keeping a slower pace, as my injury has given me the gift of being the one to choose the speed with which we walk. I notice the way my daughter moves slowly alongside me as I step slowly. I feel the spontaneous wish for her to enjoy all the ways her body is carrying her. I believe that is bodhicitta.
My husband and I have resumed our walks together, but at a much slower rhythm than we used to take them. We go shorter distances, but stay out for just as long. With slow steps, we see more wildlife. I’ve seen trees I’ve never noticed before. I see something new every time we go out. Where I would normally expect to be frustrated by how much my injury is slowing me down, I observe that am experiencing joy just to be able to walk. Even to stand up can feel like a miracle.
I encourage you to give yourself the gift of being, walking and standing in your life in a pace that allows you to feel deeply into body, mind and spirit. Noticing is such a beautiful way to practice loving kindness.