Overcoming My Biggest Fear: Public Speaking

Running my meditation website has really brought me joy as I try to share with others beneficial ways to relax, de-stress and get back to the Love and Joy we all are in our core. However, there is something that must always be tempered with meditation. This is something I have heard called “inspired action,” and this is a great phrase. It’s action you take from a place of desire to fulfill your passions. It’s the kind of things you do when you feel divinely guided and supported. This does not always mean calm things. These actions might be things that scare you. In fact, more often than not, going forward in your life is going to require inspired action steps that scare you

Today, I made a big step through one of my own personal blocks. For years and years I have told myself I would join Toast Masters. Public speaking terrifies me. I have no real desire to be a public speaker, but I do want to pitch my ideas with confidence and clarity. My inability to express myself in front of strangers has really held me back. I’ve known in my gut for awhile that Toast Masters would be my solution. There was no way I could pray, meditate or deep breathe my way through this. I just had to face the fear and go through it. No one was going to do it for me. When it comes to going forward in our life, we usually feel frustrated and angry someone can’t fix things for us, but in the end, we find that’s exactly what we had needed. It’s wonderful to be carried and supported, and it is important, but true strength comes when we lift ourselves up and push open doors with our own free will. In the same way someone cannot do pushups for you, no one can build your inner strength, chase your dreams, and get you to your fullest potential. Only you can.

Throughout the day today my heart pounded. Was I really going to do this? What if I had to speak today? What would I say? Maybe I could do this next week…
 

As the day went on my fear only increased. I was actually pulsing with adrenaline while I meditated. I held the meditation as long as I could until I blew out my computer’s system with all my anxiety. Actually, I don’t know what happened, but about 15 minutes into my meditation my computer crashed and rebooted itself, cutting off my meditation music.

Later in the day, knowing fully I would do this and feeling it inside me, the fear began to become tempered with excitement. I was really going to take this step. I was going to get the eff out of my own way. I would no longer be blocking myself, but instead be going forward. 

I began to have waves of calm. I forgot about what I was signed up for while I cooked dinner. I took my Dad out for yogurt and we chatted about it, totally calm. When it came time to go I felt a little nervous, but something inside me had reached a point of acceptance. This was important, and I was going to do it.

As the meeting unfolded I saw I was surrounded by not only kind and awesome people, but others who were nervous too. I stood up and spoke twice, once briefly about myself and once briefly about what I hoped to gain from the club. Both times I struggled to finish, but I somehow managed to do so. Some people were really comfortable getting up and speaking. Others had to fight for their confidence, and that really inspired me. Being surrounded by people who were choosing to face their fears also was really powerful. I was so proud of all the speakers. We all had nerves, and to see everyone wanting everyone else to succeed really showed me how incredible people can be.

By the end of the meeting I could already feel how Toast Masters is a life changing experience. As I write this, I’m excited to go back. Not because I know I’m going to stand up and kill it at the podium. But because I just took the first step in the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to take more steps, no matter how shaky or small they are at the time.

Each step matters. Each step you take brings you further. And that’s all you have to do today, is take a step. No leaps of faith or high jumps required. Just a step.

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If you’re breathing you’re spiritual

 

Here are a few things to consider about spirituality:

  • Meditation is wonderful, but it’s not what makes someone spiritual. It’s what supports a balanced life, can help open your mind, and just support a happy lifestyle. Don’t forget to go outside and smell the roses and say hello to your neighbor. It’s just as important as meditating on your chakras and all that other jazz. There are people who meditate and reach deep places of cosmic wisdom but miss out on this beautiful world. They start being afraid of experiences that deviate from what they get in meditation. Meditation is not the end result. It’s more of a tool to assist you on your journey.
  • Sometimes people treat meditation, prayer and spirituality the same way they do everything else – like it’s a competition.  Always listen to yourself and trust you know what’s right for you.
  • The more serious you make it all the further your’e actually getting from so called spirituality. The lighter you feel and the more you focus on laughter and joy, the closer you’re getting.
  • It’s possible to never meditate, pray or talk about God and be the most spiritual person ever. If someone is always laughing and happy, they’re spiritual. Period. There are people who live entire lives of deep spirituality who will never meditate, pray or light a single stick of incense. These people are just out their living, soaking up the entire reason they came into this world. They aren’t afraid of so called negative experiences. They aren’t afraid of being angry or sad sometimes. They aren’t afraid to live. Which brings us to the conclusion:
  • If you’re alive, you’re spiritual. I know this seems confusing, because seem people do things that seem very un-spiritual. But the truth is, life IS the spiritual experience. If you’re breathing, you’re spiritual.

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Twilight Meditation

 

As we outgrow certain aspects of our lives, such as jobs, relationships, and ways of thinking, there is often a transition period to the new place we are heading for.  The time between the decision to make a change and seeing the results firmly rooted in our lives can be one of the hardest times we experience.  It’s full of uncomfortably unfamiliar territory, tests our patience, our strength, and our desire to “stick it out” to get to that new place. It often requires letting go of people and places we’ve known for a long time without a clear idea who or what will fill that void.  But have heart, because these transition periods are important in anchoring us into the new. We often look at them as unforgiving periods of time when nothing seems to be going right.  We just want the new to happen NOW that we forget to transition isn’t just important, it plays into our natural rhythms.I know myself, when I really commit to going forward, I struggle with the feelings that things are changing too slowly, or worse, that I’m not handling it right and I should run back to the familiar. When we are clamoring and fighting to get to a new place in our lives it can be helpful to meditate on the way a day transitions to night, and of course vice versa.The way the sun sets allows for the calm and quiet of dark to ease in, gracefully winding down a day.  If the darkness came too fast it would be a frightening experience, pretty shocking, rather than one that gently opens our world to the stars and beyond.  Twilight is a wonderful reminder that even in nature change comes at a steady pace, and for good reason.

Can you imagine if each day the sun was gone in a second?  It would cause chaos as people walking down the street suddenly couldn’t see, drivers were bathed in darkness, and so on.  It’s true that we could adapt to such conditions, but since we live in a world that transitions each day we can appreciate it, and also what it shows us about our own lives.  The time it takes to transition from the old to new is a gentle process that eases us in at a rate we’re comfortable with.  As the sun goes down your eyes work in different ways as they adjust to the dark, you experience the world a little different, and you generally prepare for the next phase: nighttime.  In the same way, a transition period, although rough in nature, is strengthening new things in you and preparing you for the next phase.During the twilight and dusk hours the lighting is often at its most beautiful; it is subtle, soft, and shows us things in a different way as the lighting continually changes.  Transition times can also be beautiful times in our lives that show us things about ourselves and our world that can only be glimpsed in that small window of time.  During dawn there is no real evidence that the sun is coming, that a brand new day is in the process of beginning. We just know it’s coming because things are different.  If we consider what the light and feeling was like a few hours prior we know that things are in fact changing.  Then as the sun peaks over the horizon our hope turns into reality, and we are comforted with the knowledge that the new is here once again.  It is also so in our lives when we’re trapped between the new and old; we can stop, look around, and note what’s different.  Perhaps you realize that a draining friend just isn’t around so much, or you don’t sit in front of the TV as long as before, or you took the stairs at work in the morning for the first time.  These things are signs that you’re dawn will brighten into a new day, and when it feels painful and hard give yourself some love, because you deserve it.Don’t negate your feelings or berate yourself for being too weak.  Have you ever seen a baby chick being hatched?  It’s exhausting for that little chicky!  That chicky is fighting with every inch of power it has, and against what?  A shell as thin as our fingernails.  The barrier and the force of that barrier is mighty powerful to the baby chick, and no one would deny the chicky is a strong and brave little bird to breakthrough all its ever know to enter a world totally full of new.

And if you are stuck in your own twilight perhaps you can stop, look around, and ask, “What is here that wasn’t before?  What have I overcome to get to this point? What can I gain from this?  What am I letting go of? What can I see only in this moment, and what can I learn from it?”

We all have our own metaphorical eggshells that we want to breakthrough.  And when we get through them, when the fight is over, would we ever go back inside our eggshells? Of course not.  Once you’re free you’re exploring a whole new world, and there’s nothing more glorious than that. Please be sure and congratulate yourself for your bravery!  Your own twilight, your transition period, will end in a way that’s right for you, and trust in the new just as you trust each day the sun will rise.

 

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Here I am

Have you ever had a moment where you realized you were denying a big part of yourself? Over the past few days I’ve begun to realize how much I deny my fear of being vulnerable. I am starting to shine a light on the fact that I am quiet terrified of feeling exposed and open in front of people.

I didn’t realize I had this fear because it relates so specifically to the things I create. I am afraid when it comes to my writing and other creative works. I’m not afraid when it comes to things like love or travel. I’m certainly not afraid to feel exposed in a foreign country, and I’m also ready and willing to plunge head first into a loving relationship. I suppose this is because these are very common things associated with feeling vulnerable. These things we are known to be afraid of. I was afraid of them in the past, and I decided I could and would change that.

However, when it comes to the things I create I was far less aware how much fear I had entangled into it. It wasn’t a total shut out – I managed to go from chest crushing anxiety to feeling pretty good. But then I stopped before I really dug up the deep shit. I now see that all my attempts have been on the surface at best, and my unwillingness to go deep has made me turn away from a big part of myself. I suppose I owe myself an apology.

So I’ve decided it’s time to get real. It’s time for me to say, ‘this is inside me, I put it there, and I’m done with it.’ Because I really am. I’m really done with it. I have no idea how to overcome it, which is probably why I shoved all this in a metaphorical closet for so long. But facing the truth inside me is the first step. That’s why today’s photo is just me. No makeup or fancy clothes or Photoshop. Just me. Ready and willing to put myself out there. Anybody with me?

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introducing kids to meditation

When I first considered introducing meditation to children I had a hard time believing it was possible. How could I get these kids who were running around and bouncing off the walls to sit still with their eyes closed? And then I kept asking myself, why would I want to? Kids should be kids. One of the reasons they’re so enjoyable isthat energy that they have. It reminds us that we were once so energetic and playful. So why would I want to counteract it with something else, something that’s perhaps too disciplined for them?

The answers presented themselves as soon as I started to ask myself why I use meditation. To calm myself, to let things go, and to change my perspective. The first time this came in handy was when Landon (7) and Amy (5) wouldn’t stop arguing. It was one of those, “No it was you!” arguments that never sees an end and continues to escalate. I told Landon and Amy that on the count of three we were going all going to take a deep breath and when we breathe out we were going to let the argument go. On three… deep breath in…. and breathe out. And it’s gone. Really. They stopped talking about it and returned to watching the movie.

This simple breathing exercises may not seem like I’d introduced meditation, because I never even used the word meditation. I believe it’s important to teach meditation to kids in the same way we teach them all you things, however. In small increments, bit by bit, until they choose to explore it fully on their own or not. You wouldn’t sit a 7 year old down with a calculus book and then wonder why they didn’t see the value of it. Nor would you ask a 7 year old to sit silent for an extended period meditating on their breath.This concept can be done in reverse also. One of the fastest ways kids learn is from repeating our behavior. If the phone is ringing non-stop, the dinner is burned and there’s a chorus of kid’s screams echoing in the halls take a moment to sit down and breathe. Just sit down in the living room and do some relaxing breathing, maybe with calm music on. Your kids will ask what you’re doing, and you can then explain that a great way to handle stress is meditation. They might ask more questions or they might not. Rest assured they took something in though, and that they’ll probably surprise you with what they learned.

Another time I introduced Landon to meditation was during a difficult time in school for him. I had him play the color meditation that I created for first time and young meditators. He listened without doing anything for the first half and then picked it up on the second half. I do believe this is important also when introducing meditation – not to say that anything wrong was done. When he told me he didn’t follow the breathing right on the first half we both laughed. I’m quiet sure if I’d been serious about it and told him to do it again, and to try harder to listen, he wouldn’t be in any hurry to meditate again. When introducing meditation (really to anyone, not just kids) it’s important to emphasize it’s for their benefit and not about doing something right or wrong. Laughing is a great result.

One last way is to put on some very slow and quiet music and ask them to sit and color. You can then use this as a way to introduce the concepts of meditation, and discuss it in a way they can relate to. Tell them how listening to calm music and focusing is considered a form of meditation. Grownups like to focus on their breathing, and then tell the child the benefits of meditation. If you can find more ways to bring it up that’s great, because the more you introduce the idea the more they’ll want to explore it on their own. You’ll never know when the urge to try it further will kick in. They could be grown ups themselves, sitting at their desk stressed out and suddenly remember a simple breathing exercise you showed them.

I do hope that one day we begin to talk about meditation with kids as much as we now talk about the importance of exercise. Since it’s rather new to show kids how to meditate we’ll be learning as much from them as they do from us. We’ll have to let them show us what’s a good way and what’s not so effective. It really makes it a wonderful journey to be on, as it’s in it’s purest stage. There are no books telling you what’s right or wrong or what to do or not to do. You can just do what feels right for you, and as our kids teach us how to teach meditation we’ll all benefit. It’s a perfect balance that we rarely find – both sides are students and teachers.

All in all, have fun with it and don’t forget to laugh.

 

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beginning an inner journey

There always seem to be just as many reasons not to start an inner journey as there are to start one. One reason people stop is they begin to feel selfish or guilty. I’m working on a post now that I hope will help alleviate those feelings in you. Another reason is the fear that it’ll take too long or cost too much energy. I wrote a little something about this and how our fear of change ends up costing more energy in the long run here.

What is it that holds you back personally from wanting to change? For me, it was the fear of seeing who I really am. I was afraid if I looked inside there wouldn’t be any evidence contrary to what I currently saw. I was terrified of finding that I was weak, angry and depressed all the way to my core. It seemed better not to know, because then I at least had the hope still alive. If I found out I was as ugly inside as I believed I was, what hope would I have then? What a heavy thought! Fortunately I took the risk anyways, and it was quiet the journey through all the muck, but in time I found that my fears weren’t based in reality. What I believed about myself were all just thoughts in my head. Who I really was in my heart, that was something worth seeing. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that the journey inside isn’t so much inwards as it is downwards. It’s one that takes you from all the swirling and consuming thoughts in your head down to the peace of your heart.

I know it’s easy for me to say you should take this journey also because I’m on the other side of it now. Before I began nobody could have assured me that I would like what I’d find. There was just so much junk in the way. So much thought clutter. That’s why I am so grateful you’re here and so very honored. The journey inside is one that takes courage and determination to begin. With all the distractions in our lives it’s so easy to put it off until tomorrow, or next week or next year. Sometimes we tell ourselves we’ll be in a better place then because of x, y and z. But the thing is, you have to create that better place. The better place will arrive when you decide for it. And you can do it, you can, one step at a time. You start with a few minutes a day, maybe playing the color meditation on my homepage. Then you move on to something a little longer, like the energy refresher. Then you go a bit further with the magic cloud, which reminds you of how great you already are. These are just suggestions, and if you know of other meditations or resources please list them in the comment section!I want you to know that whatever comes up for you during your journey, it’s okay. It’s okay if you find stuff you don’t like. You’ll find a way in time to accept that it was at one time there for a reason and when you’re ready, you’ll let it go. It’s kind of like your inner light is buried in the dirt. You’ll have to dig a bit to get there, and you’ll wonder just how far down you have to go. As you get closer it’ll start to shine through, and this is the part that can sometimes be the hardest. It’s when you know it’s there, but there’s still dirt and debris on top of it. At this point it can feel like a back and forth dance as you waver between fully bringing up your light and clearing out this dirt. But one day you’ll see your light so clearly that you’ll forget it was ever buried and forgotten. You’ll dust it off and think, all that dirt, all that darkness, that wasn’t my light. It was only around the light. This is me!

I honor your courage for considering turning away from what you’ve probably known your whole life (which is living in your head). Change is scary, and even though I know you’ll be delighted by what you find in your heart, I have no doubt that it takes a lot of will power to even consider going there (but never forget I believe you can do it!). I don’t want to change you or ask you to be someone else. I only want you to be happy and to find your light. I hope I can help make that journey a little easier in some way.

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Don’t compare

I know we’re always telling ourselves and each other not to compare who we are to anyone else. There’s nothing new about this. I just want to bring up these two simple words as a gentle reminder also not to compare your spiritual journey.

The reason is, that well meaning people (me included) will tell you how this or that happened, and how great it felt, and how you have to try it. Your friend may have stood on one foot while croaking like a frog and had the most transcendental, mind blowing experience of her life. She tells you about “Frogging” one day when you’re feeling down. You go home and try it, and damn it, you feel nothing. Worse than nothing, you feel like an idiot because you’re standing on one foot and croaking like a frog.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t share the things that transform and uplift our lives. We just shouldn’t expect the same results. We’re all so different, and yet sometimes, when it comes to the spiritual stuff, we all expect to have the same experience. And when we don’t, the results can be devastating. We might toss something in the trash that could be just what we need – only not in the way we expect and maybe not even in that moment. 

For me, this realization hit hard when I discovered tapping (also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique). It did wonders to help me with my depression. I seemed to let go of things by the kilo. Emotional baggage just poured off me and I felt incredible. And guess what? I told everyone. “You guys, seriously, stop Frogging and start tapping immediately!!!! It’ll change your life!!!”

I was the champion of tapping. Until I tapped out (haha, had to go there. Forgive the bad pun). It was when my writing wasn’t selling and I was on a terrifying free fall downwards. I tapped and I tapped but I felt nothing. Zilch. Nada. I was afraid that this was it – this was life for me. That feeling of hopeless is perhaps one of the scariest you can experience.

I kept trying different tapping teachers, different mentors, and still, nothing. Worst of all, in many of the seminars and videos, one of the students, or tappees if you will, was a writer. They had this fear and that mental block, they had been up, down and to the mountain top, but nothing was working. And then tapping transformed them and they were selling a million books!!! It all made me want to punch my hand through a wall. I just didn’t get it. Why wasn’t it working for me? 

Because I was different, and what I needed in that moment, was so different. 

 
My writing wouldn’t sell, I had no idea what do with my life, and I was embarrassed to be me in general. I was feeling like a failure. So in comes the tapping. And it doesn’t work. I can’t do it right anymore apparently. This reinforced my feelings that I was a failure. That’s a scary freefall to be in. 
 
The thing was, I didn’t need to tap feelings away. My life was trying to take me in a completely different direction. If I would only stop trying to force something to happen that had happened to so many others I would see this.

When I finally did stop and just kind of surrender, what had been trying to come through did. I wasn’t meant to be writing at that time. I went on a completely different journey. One that led me to an incredible relationship and a period living abroad in Holland (!!!!). So please, don’t compare. It’ll probably only make you feel worse. And you’re you. You’re unique. What you need and what’s trying to happen in your life is completely independent of your friend who’s Frogging.

 
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How to return to Source Energy

A lot of people are talking about Source Energy these days. It’s a pretty common term in spiritual circles (maybe also at the PG&E power plant, I don’t know, but that’s not the kind of energy I’m talking about here). I myself have begun to use the term Source Energy for what I used to think of us a greater or higher power.

Trying to define what Source Energy is could turn into a lengthy discussion. It would involve me telling you what I think it is, what others think it is, what’s in between all that, and cross examining those parts until I’m drinking coffee straight from the pot and furiously trying to edit down a million words. So rather than me getting tweaked out on coffee I’d like to give a short note on one way to think of it: Source Energy is the vague and open ended way we can look at all concepts for God merged, our creation, and the mysterious forces in our lives.

I would like to try and get even more simple about Source Energy. I would say it’s pure love. Maybe even Love with a capitol L. A love so grand, so rich, so thick that you’re like ‘this is love beyond love. This is a Love that changes my life.” Now if you’ve been in love you might think you know what I’m talking about. But without sounding patronizing, I want to say as gently as I can, that this Love goes waaaay beyond that. Even if you were Romeo and Juliet, or Britney and Justin back in their denim matching days, or Prince William and Kate, I know there is a love that goes beyond that. I know because I experienced it once in meditation.

It was that experience that has inspired me to write this post. People who knew me ten years ago who stumble across this are probably getting whiplash from shock that I’m writing this. Ten years ago I didn’t believe in anything except a lot of beer and a lot of weed. I worshiped at the hookah alter and I wasn’t sorry. And I’m still not. That fit me and what I was searching for at that time. But I’ve turned a lot of corners since then, and the thing is, if you turn four corners on a block you’re right back where you started. 

So I’m still me. The same me. I’ve just turned some corners and have a new perspective on some stuff. One perspective I’ve gained is a reflection on a higher power, which at this point in my journey, I’m calling Source Energy. Whatever you think It is or isn’t, if you can imagine Source Energy as Love then you probably want to reconnect with it.

While meditating I got a very direct answer on how to return to Source. It’s really simple. It’s more simple than everything I wrote above. But as I turn corners and circle past the spiritual AM/PM multiple times, I keep coming back to one thing: The more simple something is, the more likely it is to be a Universal truth. Case in point: Love everybody. That’s simple. It doesn’t come with a long list of exceptions, it just is what it is. Love everybody. You either love everybody or you don’t.

So, without further ado, here are my notes on how to return to Source Energy:
1.) Find Joy in everything
2.) Experience as much love as possible
3.) Be grateful

That’s it!!! That’s really it. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either your mother or trying to sell something. You don’t need to pray, cleanse, volunteer, ride a horse through the Sahra, chant, run, karate chop your chakras, kiss a certain stone, or anything else. You don’t need to be someone else in order to return to the highest form of Love in the Universe. All you have to do is experience a little more joy and love.

Sounds too simple? Maybe we should approach it backwards then. We just have consider what we think God is. Is God love? Is God joy? Yes? I can’t hear youuuuuuuuuuuuu!

YES!

God is Love. And God is Joy. So if we want to reconnect, then we should probably make that a focus in our lives.

Let me close with what Ben Franklin said about wine (I always thought it was about a beer. Turns out Ben still thought God loves us, he just sees the proof in wine, not beer).

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. 
– Ben Franklin

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