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What’s your pocket wisdom?

Do you carry important words, quotes or poems around with you? Simple phrases that inspire you to live authentically and compassionately, taking time to breathe and experience as much of life as possible? If so, what are they?

And for the rest of us, are there a few words or phrases that inspire you, remind you to be vibrantly alive, help you feel joyful, content and accepting, invite you to be present and grateful? If you could carry just a few precious words or phrases around in your pocket, always having them there to reference and learn from, what would those be? What words would you carry?

graphic by wordle

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A strong part of my journey lately (always?) has to do with self-acceptance. I relate to what Dan Oestreich writes:

There is so much hubbub around us about self-help and improvement that the key precondition of personal change — self-acceptance — often gets completely lost.

With all the books and tapes and learning groups out there, it is very easy to fall into the pit of constantly attending to the gap between the ideal and the real — what I should be rather than what I am.

I can easily “over-focus” on my own ideals, losing sight of the fact that human change is mostly not a linear journey, but an organic one that paradoxically begins with awareness and acceptance of the parts that are not changing.

With acceptance comes grace, comes healing, comes change into our lives, and they come from someplace beyond ourselves and yet in a way that is completely intrinsic to who we are.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am,
then I can change.”

–Carl Rogers

I came up with a new practice recently to help curb this tendency of mine. When I notice that I’m being particularly hard on myself or focusing strongly on the what-I-should-be rather than the who-I-am, I make myself stop every hour and write down one thing that I’ve done well in the last hour. Sometimes it’s easy and other times it’s hard to find something that I feel proud of, something that I recognize as being good enough… or especially great! The things I’ve written down vary in scale from making a healthy lunch, stopping to breath or notice a bird, or doing something kind for another person…. or even doing something kind for myself!

I love to grow… and sometimes I over-focus on all of the parts of me that provide me with opportunities to grow! This practice helps me notice what I’m doing well just as often as I notice where I could improve. At times I recognize that the hour is approaching and think, “Oh, quick… I’ve got to do something that I value!” And then I get to celebrate what I’ve done!

Here are a couple of other posts on change from Paul Cooper and Chris Corrigan that have caught my attention recently.

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Categorizing and Illustrating People’s Experiences

As I’ve mentioned before I started a new website and project called Rituals for Healthy Living or Rituals to Invite Balance and Well-being. I’m slowly posting over 40 rituals that people have shared with me.

Posting these rituals has been an interesting practice in and of itself. At the beginning, as I would reread the offering, I would listen for words that I thought best categorize the rituals shared. Those became my labels and now as I read, I figure out which categories to apply to the new ritual. This is my first real introduction to tagging. It’s hard! Especially with the rituals, I wonder what other juicy words might be descriptive. I wonder how best to categorize.

Reading through them also is a sort of meditation… I read through the ritual, kind of try on the ritual that is being shared, notice what parts of me are drawn to parts of the ritual, and contemplate the words that come to me to categorize the experience that is being offered.

The other part of this posting practice that has been an adventure is picking a picture to accompany the ritual. If you find yourself reading any of the rituals over there, please feel free to share ideas for other words to categorize the ritual… or let me know if there is a different picture that would capture some of the essence that is being shared. This was my favorite picture so far!

photo source

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Rituals for Healthy Living

Over the last couple of years, off and on, I have been experimenting with healthy living rituals. I tend to be a pretty spontaneous person, following what is most alive for me in a moment. I try to listen to what I need (my mind, my heart, my body, my soul, my relationships, the whole) and take action from what I hear. However, I recognize that I lack discipline in my life and that often I favor what my heart wants over what my body needs. Imbalance has a way of creeping into my sense of order, causing a lack of order. If I listen carefully I notice the sounds of disharmony inviting me to pay attention to some aspect of my being. I belive that rituals, activities that I do regularly and purposefully with the intention of adding value to my well-being, can help support me in maintaining balance… and so I experiment!

Some of my experiments have included meditation, dancing, toning, singing, yoga, journaling, walking, prayers, breathing practices, and practices to help me tune deeper into experiencing the moment. In this mode of exploration and inquiry, I realized one June day that I have an incredible network of people and I bet some of them do rituals to help keep their life in balance. I decided to inquire and find out. So far 40 different people have shared with me the activities they do to help nourish their life. What a gift! I couldn’t keep these treasures to myself so I have started a new webl where I will be posting all of the rituals I recieve. Come have a peek…

Rituals for Healthy Living is the new site and it’d be great if you came and joined the inquiry that we’re in over there! And if you have rituals of your own to share, please do.

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Breathing to Wake You Up

Do you ever feel tired, anxious or confused and just wish you could make it go away? Below my God-Friend demonstrates the pure joy that can come when you take a moment to take a few deep breaths. It can be that easy! Breathing will wake you right up!

Video thanks to my new Flip Camera

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A Learning Journey

The journey continues. For me, that’s one of the beauties of being alive… the journey always continues! My dad got the best possible news yesterday (huge sigh of relief). So I step out of one type of unknowing, a complete unknowing that has a verdict to be delivered… and continue walking along a path that is adorned with an infinite array of other unknowings (a bit more seductive of a path). That would be life, of course!

If you’re curious about the details of my dad, hop on The P Train. He’s been sharing about this adventure in heart-full, honest and humorous ways. And what a community of love and support he’s got around him/us.

On a different journey note, Chris Corrigan talks about the treasures of asking questions and being curious about the answers. He has invited others to join him in a 30 day learning journey. Chris shares how it works:

“I run these little research projects. I get curious about things and start noticing them in my life and work and I usually use a combination of this blog and a moleskine journal to record my results. It keeps me moving forward.

So, I’d like to invite you to try this approach out and see if there is something that gathers your attention and piques your curiosity enough that you’d be willing to engage in a a somewhat public 30 day research project.

Choose a question and engage in a research project as well. See what we can learn.”

My questions: What helps me to stay centered, connected and breathing… especially in challenging times? How does it feel when I show up as Ashley, being just enough as I am, accepting and surrendering to that? How does it effect the environments I’m in?

Nature helps me tremendously. Returning my attention to the natural world, listening with, learning from and connecting to nature’s patterns and rhythms grounds in me, brings a visceral and emotional feeling to me of what it feels like to feel connected and centered.

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Voice Dialoguing and A Personal Story

Journaling yesterday morning, I found myself wondering about how I operate:
Who is it that has all the control? Who is the dominant decision maker?
I decided to explore this inquiry through Voice Dialoguing.

If you’re not familiar with Voice Dialogue, Brandy George explains it here:

Voice Dialogue work allows us to transform the unconscious struggle of opposites that we carry within us into a conscious acceptance of all of our humanness. It makes it possible for us to disengage from old, automatic, reactive patterns and become more fully alive in the present.

Voice dialogue work is based on the theory of the personality as a multiplicity of selves. These selves, which are also called “voices,” “sub-personalities,” “parts,” and “energies” or “energy patterns,” are real live autonomous “people” in their own right. They have their own feelings, desires, memories, opinions, worldviews – they not merely concepts and this is not therapeutic role playing.

Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, creators of the voice dialogue process, describe an “inner family” of selves that evolves in each person. These selves are family members, friends, teachers, or anyone who has any kind of influence over us. They may also develop as the polar opposite of the models we have had in our lives.

“Learning about this inner family is a very important part of personal growth and absolutely necessary for the understanding of our relationships since the members of this inner family, or “selves,” as we like to call them, are often in control of our behavior. If we do not understand the pressures they exert, then we are really not in charge of our lives.” ~ Hal and Sidra Stone

In my process, I engaged with ‘the dominant decision maker’, Pure Curiosity, and Seeking Harmony and Understanding (the three voices that showed up). It’s a personal sharing, but I find the process fascinating and the learning extremely helpful so if you’re curious to peer into my psyche, have a peek!!

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