All posts in Life in the Positive Possibilities

How to Be Present for Fear and Live Meaningfully in Our Unpredictable World

In some ways, COVID-19 has been a great equalizer. It has shown those of us who have known relative safety our whole lives what others in more challenging circumstances have always known: not even our next breath is guaranteed. Death can happen at any time. Of this, we have no control. The question is, knowing this now, how will we choose to live: in openheartedness, or in fear? As we experience the ups and downs of an ongoing pandemic that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, we are being asked to look at the world with fresh eyes and consider the role fear plays in our inner and outer worlds. As you may know, I made a life-changing journey to the North Pole a few years ago that ultimately inspired the creation of Parvati Foundation and the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). During the preparations for the trip, I had visions in my morning meditations of danger awaiting us, specifically that our plane could crash. With poor visibility due to increased fog from rising temperatures and melting sea ice, I knew it was a real possibility. Even so, I needed to go. I chose to not let fear interfere with the surrender I felt the trip was asking me to practice and the sincere…

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Step out of the Shadows of Shame and into the Light of Your Nature

You know the sensation all too well. Someone just pointed something you did that was not in keeping with how you want people to see you. Or perhaps they even called you a name, and you deeply believe it. Both hot and cold at once, a feeling of shame seems to creep into your cells and leaves you heavy and miserable. You wish there were something—anything—you could do to not have to experience this painful emotion. Luckily, there is. Shame is a painful self-perception. It often accompanies a sense of having done something wrong. In his book Healing the Shame That Binds You, the late John Bradshaw pointed out that there are two kinds of shame. Healthy shame helps us feel balanced remorse for actions that do not support our highest good or the good of all. Toxic shame binds us into toxic behaviours and thwarts our brilliance, joy and fulfilment. Here, we will look at toxic shame and how to address it. Shame can be hard to see because it hides in the dark. Yet it is quite common and comes from a feeling of being fundamentally flawed, unlovable or broken. It is a motivator behind co-dependency, addictions and the drive to over- or under-achieve. These compulsions can break down families and friendships, undermine our…

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How to Stop Listening to Pride and Start Resting in Your True Worth

Through this spring and summer, we have been investigating some of the painful emotions that interfere with inner peace. This is important work. It is not always easy to face certain tendencies we have been carrying. But until we do, we miss out on our true capacity to feel peaceful, happy, and connected. Today, I would like to take a look at an emotion we may not necessarily recognize as contributing to our pain: that of pride. We tend to misunderstand what pride really is and how it affects our beings on all levels. Often, we think of it as a healthy sense of accomplishment, such as feeling proud of coming in first place in a race. This is a natural response to praise. The issue with doing so is that if we hinge our sense of self on something external, then when that thing no longer makes us feel good, we are left collapsed and wayward. It is like leaning on a slender willow tree for support. We cannot get lasting strength from it. We may also think of pride as a way to push back against shame we perceive from others. But when we live our life in opposition to something, we are reacting to an energy of oppression and defining ourselves in relation…

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How to Return to Inner Peace When You Feel Judged or Tempted to Judge

Discovering inner peace involves the letting go of our emotional reactivity, so that we can experience an open heart and a clear mind. Being judgmental is one of the ways our mind can react to the moment without presence. It may come in the form of criticizing how someone else is behaving, or what their beliefs may be. But it also shows itself in the way we respond to criticism, or when we become negative and frustrated about the ways we think we are not measuring up to an imagined standard. When a judgmental mind kicks in, we need to reconnect with inner peace so that we can be of maximum benefit to ourselves and to the world. No one likes to feel judged. The idea of being seen as less than the wonderful beings we hope to be can trigger feelings of inadequacy and fear. When we feel judged, our knee-jerk tendency is to judge in return. Yet, this only perpetuates pain. Whether we judge ourselves or others, or we are reacting to someone’s perceived judging of us, we are experiencing the constriction of a mind in judgment. A judgmental mind is like a vice grip. It is closed and holds onto its way of being. Disconnected from the whole, it insists that it knows…

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How to Leave the Shadows of Jealousy Behind and Step Forward Into the Light

The weekend that wraps up today is an exceptional time as the last of a series of eclipses darkens our world. We have the opportunity to leave behind our shadowy tendencies and step forward into greater light and clarity. To support that, let’s take a look at a complex emotion that often lurks in our shadows and eclipses our inner peace: jealousy. I am deeply grateful that here in Canada, as well as in the U.K. where my husband is serving MAPS (the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary), we have been successful at “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 infections and are cautiously beginning to reopen. At the same time, there are no words for the tragedy of thousands of people continuing to die each day, particularly in the United States and Brazil where the curve is anything but flat. After months of restrictions on our movement and interaction, people are frustrated. In some cases, citizens and leaders alike have pressed for restrictions to be lifted against medical advice—or simply flouted them entirely. Why? Could one reason be that we are jealous—whether of the apparent freedom of others, or simply of the lifestyle we once took for granted and no longer feel able to access? Jealousy is a painful emotion. No one likes experiencing it, let alone admitting…

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How to Heal from the Resentment That Brings Pain to You and All Life

When we have been hurt, sometimes the idea of letting go of resentment may seem dismissive of the pain we suffered. However, healing resentment is never about minimizing or dismissing what we experienced. If you have been hurt, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, the pain you felt was real. Healing resentment comes as we open compassionately and see it in full, so that we can ultimately ease our suffering. We first began to touch on resentment last fall, as we investigated the “blame trap” and how it kept us from inner peace. Now, for the sake of our own healing as well as peace in the world, let’s look more deeply into the nature of resentment. Since my first language is French, I find myself reminded, each time I hear the word “resentment”, of its Latin root: Re – to do over again Sent – to feel Resentment is like a broken record. We feel painful emotions over and over again that keep us tied to our past. For some reason, our ego has us convinced that this is a good thing to do. It may give us a sense of temporary power. It may feel as though we are somehow getting back at someone we feel has hurt us. But as we re-sent, feeling painful…

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How to Find the Light Again When You Feel Hopeless

Last week, we explored the landscape of depression and the inner messages it brings for us. Beyond depression is the serious condition of despair. Despair calls for a clear, thorough and active response. We feel the hopelessness of despair when we co-create in the impossibilities to such an extent that we are now in undertow. When this happens, we need to immediately redirect our thinking. How do you know if you are feeling despair rather than depression? In depression, you may sense the possibility that your unhappy perspective can change. You just feel unable to find the zest to reactivate and engage with that possibility. In despair, however, you don’t feel possibility. When you are depressed, life can seem like a movie going on in front of you. You feel out of the picture, unsure how to re-enter the fullness of life. But if depression becomes despair, you don’t even believe in the picture, and don’t care to re-enter it. Whether you see it or not, you are constantly held within an intelligent, loving whole. You are not an isolated island, but a vast interconnected being. Depression leaves you temporarily unable to sense this interconnection. It is as though you are under heavy clouds. Though you may be looking for the sun, you cannot see its…

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How Honesty Can Help You Find Freedom From the Weight of Depression

In light of what is going on in the world today, as people break into rage at injustices, out of lockdown in rebellion, or feel paralyzed or depressed in the face of the extraordinary disbalance in our world, we need to ask what cultivating inner peace looks like. Recently, we have been considering how anger’s explosive energy, when acted out externally or stuffed down internally, ravages our lives and those of others. But there is another, more passive way that we can suffer and feel disconnected from the moment. When we ignore or judge what we are feeling, we often find ourselves sinking into depression. This week, we will look at that more deeply, as we consider depression’s passive, heavy energy and how we can find relief. The primary focus here is the occasional depression that we can all feel from time to time. Clinical depression is a mood disorder for your doctor to diagnose, and requires medical attention. Yet whether you suffer from a medical condition or a passing case of the blues, we can explore together the landscape of depression with care and attention, on top of any additional support you may be receiving for your particular situation. When we are depressed, we become listless, and have difficulty activating. Why do we get depressed?…

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How To Keep Your Heart Open In The Face Of The Unimaginable

There was no one else in the building who could see or hear when I was tackled to the floor and strangled almost to death by a man twice my size. As I lay pinned down and unable to breathe, let alone cry for help, I was blessed with profound insight that has forever changed the trajectory of my life and my understanding of the power of inner peace. Though few know I had this experience, it feels relevant to share today as part of our ongoing “Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary” workshop. Last week, we began to investigate anger as one of the shadows we must work through. Many may ask how to manage anger at being violently attacked. This week’s post is a deeper exploration of this sensitive question. Faced with what I thought was the end of my life, I saw in the man on top of me a soul so ravaged in pain that all it knew was to seek more pain. I instinctively understood that even the slightest bit of antagonism from me would trigger the fire of his pain and rage into an unstoppable deadly inferno. I was fortunate enough to already have a steady meditation practice. I had learned how to go to a neutral place of internal spaciousness,…

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How to Release the Heat of Anger Before It Burns Your World

You can see it in the record-warm Northern Hemisphere winter that failed to bring enough ice back to the Arctic Ocean, through the exceptionally hot Southern Hemisphere summer that fed devastating wildfires in Australia – and in the fevers that have ravaged the world during an unprecedented pandemic: our world is too hot. When you become quiet and listen deeply, perhaps you can sense the unnatural heat that pulses through all things. For the sake of our inner and outer peace, we must each come to terms with the ways we fuel that heat with the fires in our minds. Last week, we began to explore the emotional reactivity that harms our personal and collective wellbeing. All of this is part of the shadow work that this workshop offers to help you find inner peace. We are digging into the unseen territories of our minds and hearts, the aspects that keep us in cycles of suffering. Stick with it. I promise there is light at the end of this journey. And I am with you in every step. Our culture tends to praise those who push themselves hard. We justify this by saying these people are the best at what they do. But perhaps we do so at the expense of our greater well-being. In the…

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