Spiral of Life Blog

Celebrating the 11th Daring Way™ Group at Spiral of Life – Practicing Gratitude

Yesterday I facilitated the last session of my 11th journey through the Daring Way™ curriculum, which is based on The Daring Way, by Brené Brown, PhD. It has been an amazing program to offer, and my approach has been evolving since I held my first 8-week group in the fall of 2014. Each group of participants has brought their own life experiences to the process, and each one has had its own unique energy and focus. Every participant has shown me something new about this work, and I have been so grateful to deepen in my own learning while I support others in theirs. Over the last 18 months I have gotten to witness people as they grow and change their lives in a myriad of ways. Group members have brought stories of starting new relationships and deepening in connection with long-term partners, of finally ending jobs that weren’t working and starting new ones that bring them greater joy and satisfaction, of going forward with starting the businesses they’d been planning for years, and of bringing healing to relationships with family, friends and partners. In every group I have heard about the power of hearing other people’s stories and of really knowing that the people around us are struggling in a lot of the same ways that we are. Knowing that we are not alone in our struggles helps us meet the challenges in our lives with more courage and strength. It also helps us to connect more authentically with the people we care about. Most fundamentally, participants have talked about finding healing in their relationships with themselves: of building self-compassion, releasing themselves from the confines of perfectionism, and living in greater harmony with...

Resolving to Eat More Mindfully – Putting Down the Fork

Every January millions of people resolve to live their lives differently in ways big and small. Most of the time our focus on these changes begins to wane as the year gets fully underway – by the end of the month most people waver, and by February so many well-intentioned resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Research shows that we are more likely to make changes that last if we can truly make them new habits and integrate them into our daily lives. This year I wanted to make a change to how I eat. I’ve long struggled with a tendency to eat too quickly and lose the chance to truly savor my food. This decreases my enjoyment of the food I eat and can make a meal feel mechanical – just putting fuel in the proverbial engine without really nourishing the senses. It also interferes with good digestion: with less time I chew less thoroughly and add food to my digestive system too rapidly. Moreover, consuming food quickly impairs my body’s ability to regulate how much I eat – the meal can be over before my satiety reflex has had the chance to let me know that I’d actually eaten all my body needed several bites ago. I wanted to add a simple practice that would integrate into my everyday life, something that could be a habit at each meal. I came across the idea of putting my fork down between each bite of food and not picking it back up until I am finished chewing and swallowing the current bite. Instead of loading up the fork for the next bite, eating this way brings my attention to chewing more completely...

The Music of the Night – Time Away from the Regular Flow of Life

I am writing this from a trip out to Guemes Island (which is just a 5min ferry ride off the coast of Anacortes). I arrived yesterday evening at an airy studio on an off-the-grid organic farm (check out the photos at the airbnb site – I’m sitting on the love seat next to the toasty wood stove as I write this). Here I was greeted by two things that have become unfamiliar: actual darkness (I got to renew my relationship with my night vision while unloading) and an amazing symphony of frogs in nearby ponds – I can’t remember the last time I slept with only sounds from nature rather than the hum of traffic and periodic sirens. I wanted to share the frog song, and below is a taste of the sounds that surround me. Taking time away is a powerful way to see outside of everyday routines and customary ways of thinking and being. I am grateful for this time to step back and deepen my own transformation so that I may return to my regular worlds with fresh eyes and a more open...

Spring in Seattle…

After a decade here, it has finally stopped surprising me that spring starts to stir in January and then really gets underway in February each year. I am always grateful to see each sign that life is renewing – the softening of the trees as they begin their blossoming, the shoots from the wakening bulbs of crocuses and daffodils that reach up with their vibrant colors, and the tiny new leaves unfolding in their vivid greens from many branches. At this time of year, there are many people excitedly making plans for their gardens, in their yards, in containers, and in p-patches. We are getting ready to do the same at Alder Grove in our roof garden. As we dream of a new season of growth in the outer world, it is a wonderful time to consider what we would like to plant within ourselves for this next turning of the wheel. What would you like to harvest in the next year? How would you like this year to look different from ones past? As you move into another seasonal tradition – spring cleaning – ponder what you would like to make more room for in your life and how you can give yourself the support you need to do your own unfolding and blossoming. Wishing everyone a joyful early...

For Love of Honeycrisps

Just before winter begins to slide into spring in the Seattle area, I wanted to express my appreciation for the deliciousness of apples, particularly honeycrisps, which are about to end their season at the University District Farmer’s Market, my favorite place to shop (and eat) local. For those who have only been able to taste the grocery store version, when these apples are more fresh and ripe, they have a much richer flavor along with the crisp and juicy texture. They have been a wonderful snack, as well as a sautéed part of many breakfasts, over the past season. Apples are a great source of fiber, which both helps us to feel full naturally and to support optimal digestion. They also contain quercitin in their skin, a flavonoid that helps to stabilize immune cells and reduce allergies (a good idea for many people as the trees prepare to start blooming). I’ll miss the local honeycrisps, but will renew my acquaintance with fujis, braeburns and others, and look forward to my favorite apple’s return in the...

“A Morning Offering” ~ John O’Donohue

My winter days have been brightened by reading To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue, and I want to share a new favorite blessing: “A Morning Offering” I bless the night that nourished my heart To set the ghosts of longing free Into the flow and figure of dream That went to harvest from the dark Bread for the hunger no one sees. All that is eternal in me Welcomes the wonder of this day, The field of brightness it creates Offering time for each thing To arise and illuminate. I place on the altar of dawn: The quiet loyalty of breath, The tent of thought where I shelter, Waves of desire I am shore to And all beauty drawn to the eye. May my mind come alive today To the invisible geography That invites me to new frontiers, To break the dead shell of yesterdays, To risk being disturbed and changed. May I have the courage today To live the life that I would love To postpone my dream no longer But do at last what I came here for And waste my heart on fear no more. ~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between...

New Year’s 2015: 5 Quick Tips to Resolutions that Stick

As we change from one year to the next, many of us take the time to resolve to make changes in our lives – to make a fresh start with the new year. Unfortunately, by mid year more than half of us have let those changes fall by the wayside. Here are 5 tips on how to make those resolutions into real and lasting improvements in your life: Think Medium – Find the middle ground between shooting for the moon and making a change that feels too small to be meaningful. The key here is to strike a balance that is both meaningful and manageable. Narrow It Down – If your resolution list has more than a handful of changes, burn it as an offering to the deities of overextension and start simpler: 2 or 3 meaningful changes that are still in place months from now are easily the winner over the dozen changes you make for only a week. Find a Resolution Time Slot – Part of forming new habits is giving your new activities a home in your day. Connect them to existing activities to help you remember to do them daily – before a meal, after work, after you brush your teeth, on your drive, etc. Resolve in Good Company – Connect with like-minded friends and community members to bring greater support and fun to your resolutions. Cook together, take a walk, hike or run, or enroll in a local class. Enjoy the Change – Choose changes that incorporate activities that you actually enjoy. If following your resolutions is all about deprivation, why are you going to keep that new leaf turned...

3 Authors that Narrated a Year of Change

At the end of a year that has brought me to a wholly new stage in my practice and in my life, I want to take a few minutes to honor three of the authors that have most impacted me in 2014: Brené Brown, PhD: An amazing researcher in living an authentic, whole-hearted life with great courage and emotional resilience. I have been particularly impacted by Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. Her books are not new to me this year, but my understanding of them reached a deeper level through training with her and the senior faculty at the Daring Way™. Rick Hanson, PhD: Another fantastic researcher, this time in neurobiology and meditation, literally on how our thinking and meditative practices impact the structure of our brains. I particularly like Hardwiring Happiness, as well as The Buddha’s Brain, and his work has deeply affected how much I am present in the moments of joy and wonder in my life. I’m excited to dive back into his Foundations of Wellbeing program in the new year. Angeles Arrien: A cultural anthropologist who studied spiritual practices from around the world, Angeles was a prolific author. She passed from this world last spring and will be greatly missed. The Fourfold Way, which describes the indigenous wisdom of the 4 directions through the paths of the visionary, healer, teacher and warrior, continues to be a key reference in my shamanic studies. I look forward to completing Living in Gratitude next year. I’m excited to see what lies ahead in 2015 and to be carried forward by the stories and ideas of visionaries whose work has yet to cross my...