Mother’s Day – A Perfect Day for Healing

This is an image of a mother holding her child above her head at sunset

© Konstantin Sutyagin/shutterstock

 

 

Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Mother’s Day, a holiday proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914,  is a day of celebration in which we honor mothers, motherhood, and maternal bonds. The power and influence of mothers and maternal figures in our personal lives and in our society is beyond measure.  Mothers and grandmothers are the core strength of the home, the creators of life, the nurturers of children, our first teachers, our female role models, and our indispensable companions. Most importantly, when we think of a mother’s love, we frequently think of the unconditional boundless love that is the closest human expression of divine love.

 

 

Mother’s Day, like all holidays, elicits different feelings for each one of us.  Whether we think our mothers did a “good” job or a “bad” job of raising us, the truth is that our mothers played an enormous role in helping us to form our system of values, sense of self, foundation of security, and, in general, the initial foundation for all of our perceptions in life.

 

 

Some of us were fortunate to be raised by mothers or mother figures who were confident, strong, and a model of unconditional love.  If this is the case, the mere mention of the word “mother” conjures up feelings of warmth, nurturing and safety. If you are one of these people, Mother’s Day is a joyful day where you are inspired to cherish and appreciate your mother and buying a card, giving a hug, and saying “I love you”  feels completely natural.

 

 

If your mother has passed on, this may be an especially sad time of year as you recognize that losing a mom creates a void that no one else can fill in your life.  Who could ever understand you, unconditionally accept you, and always love you the way your mother did?

 

 

And then there are others who have had a vastly different experience. There are many people who attribute the root cause of most of their pain and problems to their mothers. In working with clients over many years in my spiritual healing practice, I discovered that blaming our mothers for our shortcomings is the deepest underlying issue for almost every major healing issue: mental, emotional, and physical.  In fact, I observed that our mothers have so much influence in our lives that when a mother would heal a painful issue, the child (whether young, middle age, or old) was automatically positively affected; and, conversely, when the child (of any age) would heal, the mother would also be positively affected.

 

 

From a spiritual perspective, the soul of a child chooses his or her mother, and the mother chooses the child.  Because our life journey is all about becoming whole, we choose parents from whom we learn what we most need to know – we fulfill these lessons in both positive and negative ways.  If, for example, our mothers did not praise us very much, it could be that our souls needed to remember that we get our genuine validation from within ourselves – not from external sources.  On the other side of the coin, mothers learn just as much from their children.  For example, a child with learning differences may be teaching a mother all about patience and acceptance.

 

 

The single most important factor that affects our relationships with our mothers is our own attitude.  As children, we typically had great expectations of all the qualities we wanted our mothers to have — we wanted her to be our Rock of Gibraltar, the model of an ideal woman, have the patience of Job, and express the love of an angel.  As we mature, we need to accept that our mothers are human and that they have had to deal with issues that were passed on to them by their parents. I truly believe that most mothers love to the best of their capacity and want the very best for their children.  I also think most mothers would agree that motherhood is simultaneously the both most difficult and rewarding job in all the world.

 

 

Unconditionally accepting our mothers for who they are (or were) is our greatest lesson in compassion and forgiveness. Since we are inextricably connected with our mothers, forgiving them for their shortcomings and for falling short of our expectations is the same thing as forgiving ourselves for carrying forward any unhealthy patterns which need to be healed.  And when you think about it, who better than our mothers to teach us this magnificent lesson.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Love and Light,

 

Sandra

Forgiveness – The Greatest Gift We Give To Ourselves

This is an image of multi-ethnic hands all coming together as one

© Pete Saloutos/shutterstock

 

I have often shared with others my belief that forgiveness is the greatest gift we can ever give to ourselves.  This many times surprises people, because it is a commonly held perception that forgiveness is something we do for others – almost like a favor that we are doing for someone. Sometimes we perceive our forgiveness as a reward we will give someone if they apologize first or change their behavior to accommodate our expectations. 

 

It is extremely important that we understand the actual meaning of the word forgiveness.  When trying to accurately interpret a word, it is many times helpful to go back to the original definition as it appears in the dictionary.  According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, the actual definition of forgiving is allowing room for error or weakness; and the definition of forgive is to give up resentment.  When we remember that we are all fallible and that the only thing we have to lose by forgiving anyone is the self-destructive resentment and judgment we are carrying, we begin to see more clearly that the person who benefits most from the process of forgiveness is self.

 

Let’s discuss just a few of the many reasons that help us to understand why forgiveness is essential for our OWN health and overall well-being: 

 

Forgiveness is rooted in Self-Love – Self-love is the fundamental principle of all healing and the root of all compassion for self and others. When we hold on to anger and resentment with people from the past, we hurt ourselves by continuing to experience the emotions that are associated with these painful experiences.  This takes a heavy toll on our mental, emotional,  and physical health. It is also important to remember that life is a two-way street.  Either knowingly or unknowingly, we too have hurt others through our unkind words and actions.  We can only give to others that which we give to ourselves—so developing the attitude of being compassionate and kind to ourselves is a very healthy way to develop the habit of forgiveness.

 

Forgiveness creates harmony – It frees us from the need to be “right,” which automatically makes someone else “wrong.”  This attitude breeds constant conflict with others and within ourselves.  Every person who is in a disagreement thinks he or she is “right,” or there would be no discord in the first place.  By letting go of our need to be right, we are not admitting we are “wrong.”  We are simply being wise and compassionate enough to realize that we do not know what someone else is experiencing, what they are feeling, or why they have responded to a situation in a way that does not match our expectations. Simply stated, we are not the authority for how someone else thinks and acts, so it does not serve us well to criticize others.  By judging others, we plant the seeds to remain entangled in an unproductive drama that intensifies the struggle, rather than focusing on the resolution. 

 

Forgiveness creates inner peace – A peaceful mind is a quiet mind.  Paradoxically, I think most of us would admit that we have cluttered minds.  Forgiveness promotes mental clarity by cleansing our minds of unhealthy, resentful thoughts from the past.  This creates the mental space for more expansive perceptions based on our spiritual values.  Our society is extremely focused on physical fitness and cleansing diets for our bodies; yet we ignore our mental fitness and the critical need we have to houseclean our minds of the toxic thoughts that we constantly recycle in our minds based on our anger and resentment toward others.

 

Forgiveness frees us to be in present time – Blaming others keeps us stuck in the past and reinforces thought patterns that create the same dramas in the future.  The only time in which we can create new realities is in the present.  Since our thoughts create our personal reality, why not choose to forgive the past and adopt a new way of thinking? Why look backward?  It’s not the direction you want to go.

 

Forgiveness shifts our self-perception – We can transform our perception of ourselves from being a victim of our circumstances, reacting to hurtful situations from the past, to one of being a student of life.  Seeing ourselves as a student of life means choosing to interpret all the situations we have ever had and all the people whom we have ever met as lessons that help us to learn more about ourselves, others, and life in general.  Since our perceptions determine how we experience everything in life, shifting from a self-image of being a victim to the more enlightened self-image of being a student of life empowers you to create new, more expansive realities that align with your desire to live the life YOU choose.   

 

Forgiveness, like any form of thought, can be consciously chosen.  While it can seem difficult at first, the more we practice forgiveness, the more natural it becomes.  We begin to feel better about everyone—especially ourselves.

 

Do you have a challenging forgiveness situation that you would like to share?  I welcome your comments and questions.

 

Love and Light,

Sandra

Is Anyone Listening to Me? How to Hold a Loving Space for Communication

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It seems that everywhere we turn, most people are

 

talking and very few are actually listening.

 

 

 

A few days ago a dear friend called me to say, “Hello.” Shortly into the conversation, I sensed a twinge of pain in the tone of her voice. When I asked her if everything was okay, she opened up and expressed that she was feeling a lot of frustration from speaking to her sister on the phone the previous day. My friend explained that she had called her sister to discuss an emotionally challenging situation. “My sister just talked over me and never heard a word I said,” lamented my friend. “What hurts most is that I just wanted to talk through my situation with someone who loves me and who could acknowledge my feelings.”

 

 

Does this sound familiar?

 

 

It is understandable that most people are not clear enough to listen because the majority of us are walking around with unexpressed feelings. Coping with the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of life can tap us out emotionally, mentally, and physically. Since it is not socially acceptable to cry at work, hit someone with whom we are angry, or to scream in public, many times we just bury our feelings. The problem with this is that repressing our feelings can create a reservoir of pain that can eventually fuel an emotional outburst at an inappropriate time and place that is not even relevant to the original situation. Or, even worse, we can continue to keep our feelings locked inside, which many times results in some form of dis-ease.

 

 

What most of us are really craving is simply to be heard! 

 

 

I have come to the conclusion that listening is an art, and like most artistic expression, it needs to be developed and practiced in order to become good at it. Creating a non-judgmental, open space of communication that allows one person to talk while the other just listens is spiritually referred to as “holding the space.” In the world of psychological counseling, it is referred to as “reflective listening.”

 

Listening without judgment is an act of self-love.

 

Holding a non-judgmental space to listen to another person’s expression of feelings is not an act of selflessness.  In fact, it is an act of self-love that helps to free you from being attached to other people’s issues.  It is an exercise in letting go of our own ego, rising above the drama, and extending the utmost respect for others by acknowledging that we each have the inner wisdom to provide the answers to our own questions.  Since what we project is what we attract, chances are that when you practice being a good listener, someone will be there to hear you in your time of need.

 

 

The following are guidelines to assist you in holding the

 

space for another by being a good listener. 

 

 

1. Make an agreement between yourself and the speaker. Only one person talks at a time while the other simply listens. Give your complete, undivided attention to the person who is talking. If this is an in-person discussion, it is ideal to maintain eye contact.

 

 

2. Be fair to yourself. Agree that there will be no personal attacks – you are there to listen to feelings, not to be verbally abused.

 

 

3. Tap into an inner sense of stillness that enables you to be an observer of the conversation, rather than a participant in the drama.

 

 

4. Neutralize the space by choosing not to interpret anything that is being said as a personal attack. This is easy to do when you remember the truth that what people project onto others is a reflection of how they feel about themselves – not you.

 

 

5. Let go of all judgement. There is no need for you to “fix” anything. The person who is expressing their feelings is usually not seeking any answers from you. In fact, many times the person who is talking becomes aware of their own resolutions after they have had an opportunity to clear their emotions through expression.

 

 

6. When you have allowed a period of listening time that is fair for both you and the other person, bring the conversation to a gentle close by summarizing aloud your perceptions of the feelings that have been expressed to you. For example, you could say something like, “So I am hearing you say that you feel sad, frustrated, angry, etc.” This reinforces that we have, indeed, been listening.

 

 

7. Remain unattached to how things unfold. We all have our own lessons to learn in our own unique ways.

 

 

 

Holding space for another is a profound way to bring more love to the world because we are listening with our hearts. If we each had someone to listen to our feelings in an open space of no judgement, we would more easily experience personal peace. And if more of us were feeling peaceful, what a bright world this would be!

 

 

Do you have any suggestions or experiences you would like to share regarding holding space? We would love to hear from you!

 

 

Love and Light,

 

 

Sandra

Self Love – The Basis for All Healing

This is an image of block letters that spell out LOVE YOURSELF

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You can only unconditionally love and accept others by first unconditionally loving and accepting yourself.

 

 

“You can only unconditionally love and accept others by first unconditionally loving and accepting yourself.” When I first heard this statement many years ago, I was sitting in my first holistic health class in which we were discussing the fundamental principles underlying spiritual healing. At that time, the words sounded strange to my logical mind, yet somehow resonated at a heart level. I was in my early twenties when I took this course and recall perceiving that I found it easy to love a lot of people, no matter how I felt about myself. I prided myself in thinking that I had spent a good part of my life helping others.

 

 

I had not thought that much about loving MYSELF.

 

 

Yet, this statement really opened my mind to the awareness that, up until that point, I had not thought that much about loving MYSELF. I was raised in a strong Germanic culture, and my parents had taught me to always put other people’s needs ahead of my own. Helping others was the first priority. Secondary to that was having a strong work ethic. “Fun” was something you had if there was any time after all your work was finished! I don’t recall any key figures in my childhood, or for that matter anyone up until that moment in class, ever mentioning the importance of loving and enjoying myself. In fact, in those days I was taught that it was downright selfish to put my personal needs and desires ahead of the physical and emotional needs of other people.

 

 

 I was a “good” person when I put other people first.

 

 

My parents meant well – they were simply passing the emotional hand-me-down given to them from their parents. While their intentions were kind and honest, what I did not realize until that point, was that I had subconsciously incorporated these messages into a belief system that was based on the foundation that I was a “good” person when I put other people’s needs ahead of my own. I was a “selfish” person when I focused on addressing my own mental, emotional, and physical needs.

 

 

 I thought I could fix other people.

 

 

As I committed myself to understanding the necessity of self love at a deeper level, the memories began to surface. I started to recognize that as I grew into a young adult, this belief system had mushroomed into my creating many painful memories and melodramas with the common theme of me playing the savior role. I was living under the illusion that I could fix situations for other people. Not surprisingly, I constantly attracted people who wanted me to “save” them or complete them. What I did not realize was that I was seeing a reflection of what I most needed to recognize within myself: I also wanted to be completed through others by wanting them to validate me for my savior role. This awareness opened the door to a crucial turn around in my life.

 

 

Self love is at the root of all spiritual healing.

 

 

Most people whom I have met in life have not been taught self love; they have learned it through the life experiences they have created.  Self love, after all, is at the root of all issues of spiritual healing. Through my own life experiences, I came to fully understand that what I heard in class that day really was true. We have to first love ourselves in order to unconditionally love another.

 

Love and Light,

 

Sandy

 

The Aftereffects of Valentine’s Day

Why does everyone make such a big deal out of Valentine’s Day?

“Whew!” You tell yourself. I made it through another Valentine’s Day. What is this holiday all about anyway, and why does everyone have to make such a big deal out of it? With so many singles out there it is not like we need reminders of all those happy couples out there doing all that romantic stuff with each other! Or, you may be thinking that all this sappy stuff is silly now that you have been married for so long.

 

Why did I react the way I did this year?

It is kind of funny though, how you can catch yourself automatically criticizing something just to make yourself feel better. If you hate Valentine’s Day and what it stands for, does that mean you are either dissatisfied with your current relationship – feeling alone even though you are with someone? Or, have you had so much difficulty connecting with another person that you deride others for being able to make such connections? If you are having difficulty in your current relationship or if you have difficulty being in a relationship, you may want to ask yourself why you have such difficulty loving another.  Have you really taken the time to explore your relationship with YOU? My guess is that you have not.

 

This is an image of a broken heart with a bandaid

© Picsfive/shutterstock

 

How weird, right? You may be saying at this moment, “Yeah…let me stop everything and take time to  have a relationship with myself!” Well, actually, yes – please do!!! So many people have asked me, “Why am I alone?” or “Why do I feel so alone?” The answer can be found within – I promise you.

 

Have you really made yourself available to another person?

 

If you are single and would like to be with a significant other, ask what steps have you taken to get out there and meet people? Or, more importantly, ask yourself if you are in a good place to bring another into your life. Perhaps you have filled up your life so much with other stuff that there is no room for anything or anyone else.  It is amazing how energy works. Stuffing your life with so many things puts out there that you are too busy and that loving another isn’t a priority in your life. Providing the space to clear your head, your heart, and your life to be open to receive the love from another is an important first step.

 

Would you want to date you?

This is an image of a lonely, sad man

© nemke/shutterstock

 

Another important component is being healthy within before you look outside yourself for another to be in your life. In many cases we look for another to “complete” us when in all actuality you are already a beautiful, unique, complete being! Often we look to another to “fix” us.  The familiar words, “If only I had a man or woman in my life that…I would be happy,” somehow don’t end up working out quite like that. We might find a person who makes us happy initially, but that tends to fizzle out once we got our quick “fix.”

 

 Lonely but not alone?

This is an image of a sad and lonely persian cat

© Xiaojiao Wang/shutterstock

 

For those couples out there who may have had a less than romantic Valentine’s Day, ask what is it about your relationship where you no longer are honoring each other? It is so easy to take another for granted, especially after being together for a long time. But, ask yourself how would you feel if that person were no longer there? PAY ATTENTION to your body’s physical response to this question! Do you feel anxious, scared, sad, relieved?

 

 Have you lost yourself and your own personal power to your partner?

If you feel anxious or scared, is it because this person “takes care of you” and you wouldn’t know how to live on your own? If so, perhaps you may want to evaluate whether you or your partner has come to resent this dynamic. Have you lost yourself and your own personal power to your partner? Often these underlying issues can cause the chemistry that brought you together to come to a screeching halt!  Talk with your partner; find out where their head is. It could be that a 5 minute conversation could turn into an hour of pure pleasure that you thought wasn’t possible before!

 

 When was the last time you said, “I love you?”

 

If you feel sad, could it be that you deeply love and care for your partner and the thought of them not being in your life almost makes you feel ill? If so, and you feel disconnected from this person, what have you done lately to let them know how deeply you care for them? Perhaps this separation you feel comes from them thinking you don’t feel the same about them. Again, a 5 minute conversation could turn an old relationship into something new again. Don’t wait for him or her to say, “I love you.” Taking initiative in a relationship is important – and you might just shock your partner – in a good way!

 

 Do you need to get out?

 

If you feel relieved, it could be time for you to move on from an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship. This also goes back to making space in your life to receive love. Staying in a relationship that no longer fulfills you isn’t good for the partner you are with either. If you can no longer give love to this person, it is in their best interest for you to move on as well. Once you are on your own and have healed from this relationship, really get to know yourself and get on stable footing before seeking another partner. Otherwise, you may tend to repeat the same dynamic you had before. Make sure to reflect on the lesson(s) you needed to learn from the relationship you had been in – this is crucial for your emotional growth so that you bring a healthy, stable, and empowered YOU into a new relationship!

 

 It’s all an illusion! 

 

Remember that, loneliness, after all, is just a perception. You are never truly alone. You are always surrounded by the unconditional love of the universe. Remembering this will fill your heart and allow you the space to reflect on the love you have for YOU and that special person in your life…or that special person who may be about to enter your life!

 

Love and Light,

 

Sandra