DEVELOPING INNER BALANCE

Meditation for Healing

Someone following my professional Facebook page reached out to me recently asking for any spiritual exercises to help relieve the pain, fear and discomfort associated with having cancer.  Meditation, creative visualization and dance movement are the core modalities of my INsideOUT program.  While I am not struggling with disease, I have experienced the benefit of these mind-body tools to help relieve stress, let go of judgment, and bring healing in profound ways.  I put together this list of exercises and resources to hopefully bring a little more comfort to those dealing with cancer, and for those that want to enliven their self-healing abilities.

Mind-body tools like guided imagery, guided meditation and hypnosis for cancer have been used for decades by oncology patients seeking help for pain, fatigue, anxiety and treatment-related nausea, but it’s only recently that research has demonstrated the full range of what these techniques can do.

Not only do these methods help enormously with the side effects, fears and discomforts surrounding cancer treatment that involves chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplantation, biopsies, medical procedures and surgery, but we’ve learned it can actually boost the body’s natural cancer-fighting abilities, heightening the activity of NK cells, T-cells and other immune mechanisms.

Similarly, yoga, affirmations and mindfulness meditation have also been found effective in helping cancer patients manage stress and support their bodies’ built-in, self-healing abilities.  Relaxation techniques and other mind/body practices can help calm your mind and sharpen your ability to focus. These techniques offer creative ways to reduce stress caused by cancer and to maintain inner peace. For example, some people use these techniques to help them relax as they wait for treatments or test results.

Here are some techniques that can help you cope with the challenges of cancer:

Breathing Exercises

At the core of life is breath. Laughing and sighing are the body’s natural ways of getting us to breathe deeply.

That is why we often feel calmer or rejuvenated after these experiences. Anxiety and stress can make us take short, shallow breaths. Shallow breathing, which does not allow enough oxygen to enter our bodies, can make us even more anxious. Try this four-step breathing exercise. It can be done anywhere, anytime:

1. Take in a deep breath from your diaphragm (this is the muscle between your lungs and abdomen).

2. Hold the breath for several seconds—however long is comfortable for you—and then exhale slowly.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 two more times.

4. Afterward, relax for a moment and let yourself feel the experience of being calm.

Meditation

Repetitive prayers are a form of meditation. Two other traditional forms of meditation include one-pointed and two-pointed meditation.

One-pointed meditation focuses on a word or sound called a mantra. Many people create their own mantra from an affirming word, such as “peace,” “love” or “hope.” Once you choose a mantra, find a safe, quiet place and repeat it to yourself during 15- to 20-minute sittings. The goal is to relax the mind, which has a natural tendency to jump from one idea to the next—and from one worry to the next. Do not try to force your mind back to your mantra when you notice it has wandered. Simply guide it back gently, accepting that it may stray again.

Two-pointed meditation is also called mindful or insight meditation. With this technique, you relax your mind by focusing on your breath. As your mind jumps around, practice non-judgmental awareness—simply observe the pattern of your thoughts and gently guide them back to focus on your breath. Non-judgmental awareness allows you to separate yourself from emotions and sensations rather than getting pulled into them. One benefit of this type of meditation is that you can practice it while seated quietly or when doing daily activities.

Guided Imagery

This stress-reducing technique combines deep breathing and meditation. As you practice deep breathing, imagine a peaceful scene or setting, perhaps from a memory. Once you are relaxed, you can create a “wakeful dream” in which, for example, you envision pain being washed away or your body becoming stronger.

Many people practice guided imagery exercises while listening to recordings of ambient sounds. These are usually music or sounds from nature, such as waterfalls or ocean waves. Sometimes just listening to ambient sounds is enough to relax your mind and briefly transport you emotionally to a place in which you feel safer and more secure. Other mind/body practices are yoga, dance movement and tai chi.

For my free guided meditation, go here.

For free guided imagery audio downloads, including an introduction to guided imagery from the Comprehensive Cancer Center, click here

Other resources:

*Free recorded guided visualizations that you can download, go to the Sound Mind, Sound Body link. Enter User Name:  SandraJ    Password: Healing

Recording titles that are relevant: “Break Time”, “Cancer Be Gone”, “Oasis of Comfort”

*Return to Wholeness,  a Mind Body approach to healing cancer, DVD by Deepak Chopra.

*Cancer, Discovering your Healing Powers audio download by Louise Hay

*Deep Meditation for Healing audio download by Anita Moorjani

I hope these exercises bring a little more peace and comfort to you.

Love,

Tara xo

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UPCOMING EVENTS

3 Steps to Manifesting your Dreams

When we throw our dreams into space, we don't know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country...Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams we never even knew we had. In our dreams, possibilities begin and our inner callings are given voice. In the quiet whispers, in the stirrings of the heart, the unconscious flows into connection and action as we weave our most precious life.

My dreams have been coming true lately. Before my journey to London, I felt very stuck and frustrated that I couldn't "manifest" in the way I had in the past. I wondered why it was so darn hard to bring my ideas and dreams to reality. I created a vision board, wrote about what I wanted to experience in my life, meditated. I realize now that those prayers and desires were actually taking root, I just didn't see them. At the time, I didn't trust my own creative power and process. Sometimes it takes patience and letting go of the timeline and the picture of how it's all going to look to truly surrender to the higher plan and highest good. 

I am thankful for the struggle and thankful for the distraction of other "work" to allow me to soften my intense mindset and focus. I was pushing with the energy of frustration and fear, but have learned to cultivate the feeling of surrender just a bit more. From my experience, here are a few steps to help us get out of our own way!

  • FOLLOW YOUR INSPIRATION

Sometimes our dreams become clear to us as we start to listen to that inner voice inside. What are you drawn to? What wild hair keeps standing up? Without judgment, allow yourself to follow your desires and yearnings, like glittering clues along a path leading home. Let your inner wisdom lead the way as it whispers and comes to you in your sleep.

It doesn’t need to make sense. Creativity, intuition and guidance comes in surprising ways and what seems like a silly proposition, can actually lead to greater insight and revelation.  

When we follow our bliss, we are honoring a deeper destiny at work. 

  • CLARITY OF VISION

The clearer we are about what we want, the easier it is to manifest with the co-creative partnership of the universe. Your dream is more likely to come true if you first see it clearly in your mind. 

Write out what it is you’d like to experience and how you’d like to feel. Ask yourself, “how will this intention serve me and how will it serve everyone I come in contact with?” Infuse your writing with positive language and allow the joy and happiness of experiencing what you want permeate your being. Manifesting happens from the feeling!

  • LET GO AND TRUST

What does it mean to truly surrender?  For me, it’s letting go of how things will unfold. I’ve learned that there is a greater path for my highest good that my smaller, ego-directed, fearful self can’t always see. I hold light-filled space for what I want (through meditation/writing/vision boarding), but I surrender to spirit on how it is going to come to me.

The outcome that we try so hard to force may not be as good for us as the one that comes naturally. Remind yourself that you are protected, guided and that your intentions will bloom when the season is right 🌟

How We Connect

I haven’t written in a personal way in a very long time. My time in London on Mary Poppins Returns has been focused, mind/body/soul, on doing an incredible job on this film and savouring every moment of the creative process. It has been truly exhilarating, fulfilling and expansive, and a beautiful journey with the cast and crew. And lucky for us, we still have 3 months to go! I know I will feel proud of this film and I am very grateful for the adventure making it. 

Today I have a day off and while reading on-line, I came upon upon Lisa Niemi’s blog. Lisa is a dancer, writer and the widow of dancer/actor Patrick Swayze. I began reading and was very moved and captivated by her stories. She shares mostly about her struggles and grief since losing her husband, and she does it in such a real, heartbreaking and brutally honest way. Reading about her pain and hope, challenges and victories, reminded me how affirming and inspiring it can be to tell your truthful stories, the good and the bad. It made me think about why I started my own blog 3 years ago; my intention to share my own stories of transformation and to connect to others in a heartfelt and meaningful way. 

I’ve been away from it for awhile but I have decided to go back to my writing. It’s amazing how one story, one moment, one person can inspire and ignite another. Thank you to Lisa Niemi for being that for me. I wanted to share her blog here, and I intend to read her book, Worth Fighting For.            

May we all live authentically and be brave enough to show our vulnerability and share our stories, for it becomes a beacon, a comfort and a light to others who are finding their way in the darkness.

Love to you all, and I welcome any dialogue along the way so feel free to comment and share. 

In gratitude,

Tara xo

Autumn's Gifts

Each of the seasons offers a great deal of wisdom for the spiritual journey. Autumn is a season of transition, reminding us that our lives are constantly in flux. Of course change is always with us, but Fall brings us into greater awareness that we are living in a cycle of dying and rising. As the leaves change color and the trees begin to pull energy inward to prepare for the hibernation of winter, we are called to reflect on where we can surrender our masks and live more authentically.  We are called to consider the things, habits, beliefs and attitudes that we may be ready to let go of for our greater good and higher learning, bringing us into deeper alignment with who we are and what we want.  

Sometimes change and growth is hard! Growing pains are real, but there are things that we can do to help embrace transition and use these opportunities for greater healing and expansion. 

  • Reframing: This is an opportunity

Many times we want to run away from the challenges in our lives. The discomfort can be so great that we say "I hate this. Why is this happening to me?!" In moments of despair, struggle and upset, we can invite a new way of seeing things. A simple question: "What does this experience have to teach me? What deeper learning and healing is in store for me now?" can shift an experience immediately. In opening our perspective, we move from contraction and fear to possibility and expansion. Tell yourself, "There is something here for me, some blessing to receive."  These are new beliefs that if sincerely held, will call in Spirit to aid you.   

  • Letting Go

Letting go is a process of surrendering. We all hold on tightest when our fear, anger, pride and distrust take over. In this space of resistance, it is hard to remember and know that good things can happen at any time. When you find yourself in a situation where you are certain of loss, hurt or a negative outcome, remind yourself that you are loved, and therefore safe. We can have a tendency to believe that the past predicts the future. But the truth is, at any moment you have the capacity to choose differently. Letting go of fixed notions about how things go in your life and trusting the fluidity and power of the now, short circuits and dismantles limiting mental constructs that hold us in unhealthy patterns.   

  • Write a Letter to Yourself

What if you had a little pep talk with yourself? Pretend like you are talking to a good friend and giving all your love, support and acknowledgment. We can easily do this for another, but sometimes we forget to be kind to ourselves. Write a letter to yourself praising all that you are doing well and remind yourself that you will be ok, that these are normal growing pains and you have all the capacity and wisdom within to learn and manifest what you want and deserve. Be a good and loving friend to yourself. 

  • Name and Celebrate the dreams

What do you want? What does it look like? Sometimes we begin to realize we are unhappy but we don't know how to change it. Starting with what we do want is an incredibly inspiring and empowering step. Some of us don't even know what we want. Spend some time writing down what you want in life, from the small detailed things like a good night's sleep or a heartfelt conversation with a friend to the biggest, most expansive dreams like writing a book, learning a new language or living by the ocean. Clarifying what we want helps to bring in the support we need to manifest it. Hold the vision and let the Universe take care of the rest. 

  • Stay open to the guidance 

Listen for the wisdom that the seasons have to offer in your life. Collect a leaf or branch or stone to bring home and put in a sacred space. Let them become a guide for the days to come. What book is suggested to you? What answers come to you when you silence yourself through a mindful walk, or morning meditation? What messages and landmarks ignite your soul and lead you along the path? The Universe is conspiring in your favor and we are constantly given information, feedback and help to point us in the right direction. Begin to listen and see, feel and know. 

May this season offer you a new beginning of your own. May you be open to the surprises this life has waiting for you, and the courage to release the habits and limiting beliefs that hinder you. You are beautiful, divine and capable.

Tara xo

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Unplugging

Does anyone struggle with getting sucked into spending too much time on your computer or the habit of checking social media multiple times a day? I admit, I do. I'll begin with a search for something I am working on, and before I know it I'm a million miles away looking at something unrelated and two hours later, finding myself feeling a bit empty. The time spent on my computer and phone has taken me away from the trees, from the poetry, from the slow and rich rhythm of nature. The wind, the leaves in the wind, my own quiet thoughts.  

Lately, I have been feeling the repercussions of the time spent on technology. Much of my business is run from my laptop, and yes, work is necessary, important and fulfilling, but finding a balance is the key. Patience and presence are two things that I've noticed get thin when I am overstimulated from screen time. As an anecdote, I decided to take a 10 day vacation to Florida to visit family. In the past I've only taken a weekend here or there, for fear of losing work, but something has shifted in me. It’s now more important to me to find a better balance with work and down time, and to foster and nurture my relationships. I've been in the entertainment business long enough to know that the work wheel will keep turning and will most definitely be there when I return. 

The 10 days of unplugging this last month was so nurturing and rewarding for me.  It allowed me time to slow down, connect, listen, empty out, recharge. Walk the beach, talk with my parents, watch my children play, read a book, listen to the waves, sit with my thoughts, sleep deeply. It was wonderful.     

And now that I am back home and into the routine of daily life, I have decided to commit myself to solid chunks of offline time every day. I mean, who can take a 10 day vacation every month?  Not me! It takes effort to carve out that time daily, but I always feel nourished in a deeper way. I actually find that I am more productive and by letting go, more work gets done, creativity flows and I'm much happier! 

Here are three simple things you can do when you feel a need to unplug. You don't have to take a plane to a far off beach to feel more grounded and connected.  

  •   GET IN NATURE

Nature is a grounding force that transforms our energy.  I immediately shift when I am outside.  I like to take my shoes off and let the earth ground me. Gardening is a meditative act (for me), so I begin pruning, watering, digging, potting, feeling my hands in the soil. Find some activity that gets your feet and hands directly on the earth. Sit in the grass, sleep in the fields. Let the high vibration of the land align your own energy field. A daily reprieve from the to-do list adds to quality of life and productivity. 

  • DANCE  

Put on some music you love, close your eyes and dance.  Self-judgment and criticism aside, this is about releasing worry and stress, letting go, feeling good.  Let the beauty and passion of the music lead you as your heart rate increases and your body warms from the inside. You only need 15 minutes and I promise you, you will feel 100 times better than when you started! Dance is medicine for the soul. The best!

  • WRITE 

Whether it's free form writing/stream of consciousness or making a list of all that you are grateful for, the act of writing shifts emotional and physical energy. Research shows that writing about future goals and dreams and reflecting on the good things in your life can make you happier and healthier. It always calms, soothes and slows me down, and brings clarity too.    

May we all unplug at times and trust that all will be well. We have to give our intentions, dreams and creations time to root and blossom in the warm glow of the sun.

Wishing you all love,

Tara

How to Let More Light In

I have come to realize that every day is a new beginning and an opportunity to reassess, realign and move forward in a way that honors our intentions, our hopes and goals for our lives, and also brings love and light to ourselves, and those around us.  

Sometimes the anger, the divide, the disappointment, the struggle, the fear - leads the show.  Impulsively defending my position and working hard to keep it all together.

WORK. PARENTING. FAMILY. FINANCES. CHORES. THE DAY TO DAY. THE FUTURE.

In a moment of struggle today, I stopped and went to my writing. What feelings are beneath the holding and defending?  How can I soften to myself and others, moving the doubt and fear, and making space to let more light in.  

In this place I AM CHOOSING . . . 

  • to add to the goodness that is surrounding me, by expressing my gratitude.
  • to be gentle and kind with myself as I learn and grow and see things in new ways.
  • to slow down and sit in the stillness, allowing the empty space to show me the way of a compassionate and tender heart.
  • to turn to words of poetry and wise scripture to inspire me and remind me of what I already know deep inside from moments past.
  • to forgive myself for being unkind and expressing my hurt.
  • to listen more, yielding a quality of connection and communication that feels so good and creates solutions and magic.
  • to see the opportunity and the gifts of this present moment.

This is the healing. It can be simple. Focus on the good.  Create space for more light and love.  In the quiet, I come back to myself.

How do you move from upset to calm?  From anger to understanding? How are you gentle with yourself through the process?

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UPCOMING EVENTS