Category Archives: Video Blog

February: The Hidden Gifts of Love

In the wintry month of February we’re still in the season of hibernation, introspection and energy turned inward.While the candy-heart overlay of Valentine’s Day certainly is a cultural rather than seasonal phenomenon, it’s well-suited for late winter. After all, when the weather and still-short days drive us indoors, we tend to find ourselves in close quarters with our fellow humans. And when our attention turns within, there we are with our own hearts. Love and relatedness bloom, or we become acutely aware of their lack. Sadly, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, a scarcity of love is more a state of mind than of opportunity.

I became profoundly aware of the connection between love, healing, and attitude, as well as the incredible capacity for any two people to give and receive the gift of healing love, in my work with the attitudinal healing movement. In 1983 I started a Center for Attitudinal Healing, modeled after the original Center founded by Jerry Jampolsky, for people dealing with life-challenging illnesses. Rather than using professional counselors, we paired clients with volunteers who’d received training in how to listen compassionately, see everyone as a teacher, and define healing as a process of joining in love with others rather than fixing them. The healing that resulted between these volunteers and clients was miraculous and deeply moving.

Not only did these nonprofessionals seemed to know just the right thing to do or say when coming from a place of love, the traditional roles of helper and client quickly disappeared and the learning and healing flowed both ways.

That we are all students and teachers to one another is a foundation principle of the Attitudinal Healing movement and, in my experience, a fundamental truth. It’s one that doesn’t require the high intensity of catastrophic illness to manifest. It’s our true relationship to one another at all times, though we’re often blind to it. Everyone we encounter has something to offer us and the more we seek it out, the more we’ll find it. Believing in the goodness and wisdom of others helps to call it forth, even from those who didn’t know they had it to give.

But even if we appreciate this notion in theory, we may still go through life thinking only certain people have the love, support, approval, wisdom and gifts that we need and that others are unattractive, annoying, invisible, or have nothing we want. This is what makes life lonely.

To bridge the gap between theory and experience, here’s an imagination game I occasionally do in my classes. Imagination is the doorway into intuition, so what starts out as something we’re just “making up” can sometimes evolve into profound truth. Whether you believe you’re in some way transcending time, distance, and separateness to connect with the highest wisdom of another, or simply connecting with a wiser part of yourself, you may find unexpected insight through this exercise and it can’t help but change how you look at people which, in turn, has a way of changing what happens between you.

Begin by bringing to mind someone whom you think of as a wise teacher. This could be a person you know or someone you only know through their work, such as an author, world leader or historical figure. It could be someone either living or dead.

Now, picture the person in your mind’s eye and take a moment to simply open your heart. Imagine you’re sending an outpouring of gratitude for all that you admire and appreciate in this individual. The power of love is well documented. It keeps us healthy; it empowers our prayers; it’s a gift that, when given unconditionally, is always received, even when it’s not registered consciously. Imagine that your love is awakening and calling forth the best in this person.

Many philosophers and cutting-edge scientists have speculated that all minds are part of one consciousness. So, even though you’re not physically present with this individual and may never be, imagine there is, none the less, a reality where all minds meet. Picture yourself visiting with your teacher and imagine that a real meeting is taking place in this realm of pure consciousness. Your mentor may speak to you, or show you something, or simply radiate love and healing.

You might imagine yourself in the role of your teacher,seeing yourself from this other’s view. In this role, speak to yourself. Offer wisdom, healing and whatever gifts are most needed. If you have a request for specific assistance or a question, ask for these and allow the teacher to respond.

But this isn’t the end of this exercise. While it’s easy to imagine a favorite mentor as having the gifts we most need, the truth is that everyone is a being of profound complexity, wisdom, and depth with gifts to give. That includes our friends, family, coworkers, complete strangers, even the people who thoroughly annoy us. So, bring to mind now your most intimate peer relationship. This could be a spouse or romantic partner, or it could be a close friend. Repeat the previous exercise, this time letting your intimate peer come to you. See past the person you’ve become so familiar with to perceive the rich, complex being that includes but isn’t limited to the personality you know. Imagine this individual as having facets you’ve never seen, and wisdom and love you’ve never experienced. See what new gifts this person has to give you when you open your mind and heart to them.

Now that you’re warmed up, do this exercise one more time—this time with the last person you’d ever imagine as having “gifts” for you. Just as with your mentor and peer, imagine this being has important wisdom, guidance, healing and love for you. And just as you did with the other two, let yourself open to receive it. Bring to mind the most important question of your life, perhaps one you posed to your mentor. Imagine that the higher mind of this person has something significant to contribute to this matter; something you would have missed had you not opened yourself to it. See what it is and don’t be surprised to receive an unexpectedly different view with a new perspective worth considering. End by thanking this person for their gifts.

If you do these exercises deeply, you may see changes in how people relate to you. You may never be able to look at people quite the same way again and, before you know it, you might even notice your world has become a lot less lonely.

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January 2017: A Time of Symbolic Renewal

The rebirth of light that comes at the winter solstice heralds the beginning of a new year. It’s a doorway of sorts into a new cycle of life-a fresh start, like a new fallen snow where, briefly, everything seems clean and unmarked. The renewal we feel in this deep, dark season of winter is an inward one. Unlike the rebirth of springtime that propels us out of doors, the garden we’re growing now is an internal one. We all sense this on some level, explaining the collective flurry toward self-improvement as we make New Year’s resolutions, join gyms, and renew our intentions to quit bad habits.

Each New Year offers a symbolic door of opportunity. Symbolic because nothing outwardly has changed. Just as a fresh snowfall doesn’t really clean what’s underneath it, the New Year hasn’t changed anything but our minds. Yet it’s this very shift in perception that creates the opening for personal transformation. So, in keeping with this season of inner change, here’s a self-improvement exercise that looks within to find the direction of our highest growth.

Before going any further, put yourself in a relaxed, quiet frame of mind with some deep, slow breaths. Read the next section carefully, with your imagination awake because you are about to meet the symbolic “door of opportunity” that this New Year holds for you:

Let your awareness be soft and open. Imagine how it feels to shift your vision from focused attention on a small detail to a broad focus that takes in a whole landscape at once and let your mind relax open in this same way….

Now, allow to come to mind the image of a door. Close your eyes for a moment before reading further and let this image appear. See what pops into mind first and simply notice everything you can about it….

Imagine that this door is calling you to do something with it. You’ll know what to do because it will feel natural; it will be what you most want to do. You may want to open the door to let something or someone in. Or you may feel drawn to walk through it. If so, what do you see yourself stepping into and what do you see yourself leaving? You may want to close the door to put something behind you or to protect what’s inside. Take a moment to simply let your imagination explore the scene, the door and your relationship to it….

Doors are potent symbols of transformation. Rich in metaphorical meaning, doors can open to let in some fresh, new element, or they can offer a threshold to cross, compelling us to take a step, to act or to move into a new realm. And sometimes they need to be closed, putting an end to a chapter of life, creating closure, or to preserve warmth and protect our inner sanctum.

Opening to let something in, closing to put something behind us, closing in cocoon-like, and taking the step that begins a new journey are universal aspects of growth that we all go through at different times.

Consider that the door you just imagined is offering you a personal metaphor full of meaning and information as to how you can move more consciously with the current of your growth at this time. Here are some questions to help you get started in understanding its relevance for you.

If your door was opening to let something in, ask yourself, how are you becoming or needing to become more open? Do you need to relax personal defenses, trust more, and let people in? Did your door let in light and a breath of fresh air, urging you to open your mind? Do you need to consider a fresh perspective and be less stuck in familiar ways of thinking?

If you felt called to walk through the door in your visualization, how are you currently moving from one state to another in your life? Is it time to take action, summons courage, move into the unfamiliar, be bold, or come out of hiding? Is there an initiation of sorts calling you to step out of the small confines of who you have been to become something more? Is it time to come out of your comfort zone?

If your door was closing, what were you closing it on or closing out? Is there something in your life experience that you’re ready to let go and leave behind? Is it time to put the past behind you? What endings do you need to attend to in order to move into the next phase of life free of unfinished business? Or, if your door was closing something in, are there ways you need to create stronger boundaries in your life? Do you need to say “no” more often? Do you need to pull in, conserve energy and be in a cocooning phase to let something incubate internally? Do you need solitude? Or do you simply need to exercise control over whom you let into your inner sanctum?

Let the imagery of your door suggest an action that is an appropriate stretch in the direction of your growth. It could mean inviting someone in: perhaps literally by having an unaccustomed dinner party or figuratively by taking an emotional risk to let someone into your heart. It could mean taking some bold action to come out of hiding, get moving, or transition to a new realm. It might involve setting limits, conserving energy, or taking time for yourself.

Doors are everywhere and we open, close and move through them many times a day. As you perform the mundane, physical act of going through doors, hold in mind the metaphor of your inner door. If your door was letting in fresh air, stand at the doorway for a moment before leaving your home and invite new energy into your life. If you were boldly walking through your door, imagine taking a powerful step into a new realm as you walk across thresholds. Or, give extra attention when you close your door and bring to mind all you are putting behind you or protecting. Let the physical experience of doors this week be a constant reminder and affirmation of the inner growth you have set in motion.

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The Experiment Begins

Have you been noticing more frequent serendipities? Do you feel on the verge of something? You may have
already sent these experiences through time to yourself in Lynn Woodland’s Miracle Experiment! Join us and
see what else can happen. It may just change your life!
The Miracle Experiment is about consciousness, time, quantum science and God all woven into a lively, collaborative experiment in seeing just how far a group can push the old-paradigm reality envelope to manifest our highest good right now!

January: A Time of Symbolic Renewal

The rebirth of light that comes at the winter solstice heralds the beginning of a new year. It’s a doorway of sorts into a new cycle of life-a fresh start, like a new fallen snow where, briefly, everything seems clean and unmarked. The renewal we feel in this deep, dark season of winter is an inward one. Unlike the rebirth of springtime that propels us out of doors, the garden we’re growing now is an internal one. We all sense this on some level, explaining the collective flurry toward self-improvement as we make New Year’s resolutions, join gyms, and renew our intentions to quit bad habits.

Each New Year offers a symbolic door of opportunity. Symbolic because nothing outwardly has changed. Just as a fresh snowfall doesn’t really clean what’s underneath it, the New Year hasn’t changed anything but our minds. Yet it’s this very shift in perception that creates the opening for personal transformation. So, in keeping with this season of inner change, here’s a self-improvement exercise that looks within to find the direction of our highest growth.

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Before going any further, put yourself in a relaxed, quiet frame of mind with some deep, slow breaths. Read the next section carefully, with your imagination awake because you are about to meet the symbolic “door of opportunity” that this New Year holds for you:

Let your awareness be soft and open. Imagine how it feels to shift your vision from focused attention on a small detail to a broad focus that takes in a whole landscape at once and let your mind relax open in this same way….

Now, allow to come to mind the image of a door. Close your eyes for a moment before reading further and let this image appear. See what pops into mind first and simply notice everything you can about it….

Imagine that this door is calling you to do something with it. You’ll know what to do because it will feel natural; it will be what you most want to do. You may want to open the door to let something or someone in. Or you may feel drawn to walk through it. If so, what do you see yourself stepping into and what do you see yourself leaving? You may want to close the door to put something behind you or to protect what’s inside. Take a moment to simply let your imagination explore the scene, the door and your relationship to it….

Doors are potent symbols of transformation. Rich in metaphorical meaning, doors can open to let in some fresh, new element, or they can offer a threshold to cross, compelling us to take a step, to act or to move into a new realm. And sometimes they need to be closed, putting an end to a chapter of life, creating closure, or to preserve warmth and protect our inner sanctum.

Opening to let something in, closing to put something behind us, closing in cocoon-like, and taking the step that begins a new journey are universal aspects of growth that we all go through at different times.

Consider that the door you just imagined is offering you a personal metaphor full of meaning and information as to how you can move more consciously with the current of your growth at this time. Here are some questions to help you get started in understanding its relevance for you.

If your door was opening to let something in, ask yourself, how are you becoming or needing to become more open? Do you need to relax personal defenses, trust more, and let people in? Did your door let in light and a breath of fresh air, urging you to open your mind? Do you need to consider a fresh perspective and be less stuck in familiar ways of thinking?

If you felt called to walk through the door in your visualization, how are you currently moving from one state to another in your life? Is it time to take action, summons courage, move into the unfamiliar, be bold, or come out of hiding? Is there an initiation of sorts calling you to step out of the small confines of who you have been to become something more? Is it time to come out of your comfort zone?

If your door was closing, what were you closing it on or closing out? Is there something in your life experience that you’re ready to let go and leave behind? Is it time to put the past behind you? What endings do you need to attend to in order to move into the next phase of life free of unfinished business? Or, if your door was closing something in, are there ways you need to create stronger boundaries in your life? Do you need to say “no” more often? Do you need to pull in, conserve energy and be in a cocooning phase to let something incubate internally? Do you need solitude? Or do you simply need to exercise control over whom you let into your inner sanctum?

Let the imagery of your door suggest an action that is an appropriate stretch in the direction of your growth. It could mean inviting someone in: perhaps literally by having an unaccustomed dinner party or figuratively by taking an emotional risk to let someone into your heart. It could mean taking some bold action to come out of hiding, get moving, or transition to a new realm. It might involve setting limits, conserving energy, or taking time for yourself.

Doors are everywhere and we open, close and move through them many times a day. As you perform the mundane, physical act of going through doors, hold in mind the metaphor of your inner door. If your door was letting in fresh air, stand at the doorway for a moment before leaving your home and invite new energy into your life. If you were boldly walking through your door, imagine taking a powerful step into a new realm as you walk across thresholds. Or, give extra attention when you close your door and bring to mind all you are putting behind you or protecting. Let the physical experience of doors this week be a constant reminder and affirmation of the inner growth you have set in motion.

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December Video Blog | The Healing Power of Darkness

In this holiday-packed time of year one could almost overlook the deepening darkness and the inclination to hibernate that are natural to the season.People of not so many generations back used to sleep more in these long nights. Not us. We turn on the lights, indoors and out, fight nature’s pull to cozy in, and schedule the splashiest late-night parties of the year. Instead of becoming quiet and introspective, we’re more likely than ever to lose ourselves in a frenetic social whirl.

There is, of course, something miraculous and hopefulhappening this time every year, something truly worth celebrating: the simple, wondrous rebirth of light where the ever-increasing darkness of fall gives way to the lengthening days of winter and spring. The many spiritual holidays celebrated within days or weeks of the winter solstice all echo our instinctive understanding of light’s importance to our physical survival and spiritual renewal.

Light is an often-used metaphor for all things wise and wonderful. We “see the light,” find “light at the end of a tunnel” and a “silver lining around every dark cloud.” It’s easy to give credit for all things good to the light and simply ignore the power of dark; darkness, with its opposite connotations of fearfulness, depression, ignorance and death.

Yet, here we are in a time of year when it’s difficult to deny the presence of darkness, as hard as we may try. What’s more, whatever we ignore inevitably has a way of sneaking up from behind and tripping us when we’re not looking. This is certainly true of those aspects of self we don’t like. The ones we keep hidden in the dark nether regions of our being because they’re too painful, too shameful, or too imperfect to admit to ourselves, let alone to other people.

So, here’s a different kind of winter solstice ritual, one that honors the moment of deepest darkness that has to happen before we can give ourselves over to the jubilant celebration of light. After all, this is the perfect time of year to give darkness its due and, for once, stop trying to ignore or artificially light it out of existence. And even though it may not inspire the cheerful exuberance of spring or summer, see if this exercise doesn’t leave you clearer, cleaner, and more ready to fully embrace the deep quiet miracle of light that is the season’s truest offering.

As a starting place, take a moment to reflect on the year that’s been, the one that’s following its natural course and ending in darkness. What are the stand-out “points of darkness” you experienced this year? The very worst of times, the biggest catastrophes, the deepest despair, the times you most want to forget ever happened?

As you recall these moments, notice the feelings these memories evoke. We tend to suppress, ignore or medicate pain out of existence in much the same way we artificially cover darkness with light. Unfortunately, all these pain-coping methods don’t make pain go away, just underground until it eventually grows too big to ignore. So instead of sending one more bit of pain to the dark, crowded storage locker of your psyche, this time simply be with it.

Notice how it feels in your body. Is it a sinking feeling in your gut? An empty place in your heart? A cloud of confusion around your head? A lump in your throat? A tense, armored feeling in your muscles? A clenched feeling in your jaw or fists? A fearfulness in your bowels? Instead of turning away from these raw places, this time give them your full attention. Notice the sensation of the feeling in your body and relax into it. Stop struggling. Stop thinking, stop trying to move on or make it go away.

Also let go of familiar interpretations and judgments you have around these feelings: “My sadness is bottomless. If I truly feel it, I’ll just fall deeper and deeper until I drown.” Or “My anger is wrong. I shouldn’t have it. It will hurt someone.” Tell yourself instead that as you stop resisting feeling, pain stops being pain and becomes something usable, something healing. Go deeply enough into these dark parts of yourself until you feel your resistance letting go, struggle being replaced by surrender, tension turning into relaxation, fear giving way to an awareness that there is nothing to fear.

Now, imagine yourself in total darkness. (Try doing this at night.) Most of us can recall middle of the night anxieties where we lay awake in bed, in the dark, and our whole world looked dismal and dangerous in a way it seldom does during the day. The darkness to imagine now is a different one altogether (or perhaps the same, but we are different). This darkness is healing.

So many of us on a spiritual path have invoked the healing power of light, but what about that of dark? Imagine darkness around you like sheltering earth around a seed. Instead of imagining light pouring into the wounded places of your soul, imagine darkness, like a mother, drawing out of you the pain, doubt, worry, resentment, confusion and fear that interfere with peace. Feel it absorbing into itself the thoughts, memories and patterns that keep you from being your true self. Let the dark take back to itself all the darkness in you so there’s nothing left but light. The light that needs no artificial or external inducement. The Inner Light that has always been there. Feel yourself in this dark like a caterpillar in its chrysalis, safe and sheltered while a miraculous flurry of transformation is quietly underway.

Last, but not least, reflect again on those moments of darkness that have occurred in your life this year and now, instead of feeling the pain, ask them to show you their hidden blessings. How have you deepened, strengthened, changed direction, reached out to others or cared more deeply for yourself? How have you learned compassion, acceptance or forgiveness? Or gained clarity, broken down barriers, found your tenderness, released stubbornness and ego, or allowed others to help you? How has your very definition of who you are changed? Give thanks for the power of darkness to polish, facet and bring out the natural brilliance of your heart.

Consider sharing with another person the story of finding great blessing in this year’s points of darkness. Let the power of your spoken word change your personal mythology, transforming defeats and losses into powerful stories of resurrection.

Seasons of Self | The Season of Food Begins!

Ah, that wonderful time of year after the harvest, when food is abundant and Thanksgiving begins a whole season of eating! Yet for us overfed and diet-obsessed Americans, the season of food can be a time of losing our tenuous hold on sensible eating habits and surrendering completely to more than a month of uncontrolled feasting on rich and sentimental comfort foods.

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“But Mom only makes this once a year!” and “It’s only for the holidays…” we tell ourselves, and then in January wonder how that extra ten pounds got there!

If a little cheating on your sensible eating plan morphs into a month-long binge for you at holiday time, consider a different approach, an alternative to deprivation or binging, involving neither guilt nor denial; one that actually results in more gastronomic pleasure than simply eating everything in sight. The secret has to do with replacing quantity with quality and autopilot eating habits with an extra measure of attentiveness.

Conscious eating is all about waking up your taste buds to every sensory delight so that you don’t miss even a second’s worth of enjoyment by falling into unconscious eating habits. It enables you to enjoy your food more while requiring less to feel satisfied.

Binging happens when we’ve stopped paying attention. We may enjoy the first bites but then keep eating to recapture that first moment’s gratification even after the food is no longer delivering. We may eat for reasons other than hunger, to fill an emotional void or to stuff painful feelings. Binging also happens when we’ve developed such a long-term habit of restrictive dieting that one taste of something not our food plan sends us into an out-of-control eating frenzy where we consume enough to hold us through the long drought of deprivation that invariably follows “cheating.”

This holiday plan calls for a softer (in the kinder, not fatter, sense), gentler you. It involves putting down the whip of guilt and discipline and easing up on food restrictions while simultaneously paying more attention to the whole experience of appetite, craving, and satiation. It entails eating exactly what you want exactly when you want, thinking of all foods as equally “good.” This isn’t permission to binge. Rather it’s a challenge to go out of your way to feed yourself exactly what you really want even when eating what’s readily available would be easier. It’s about treating yourself to what will give the greatest possible eating pleasure instead of “treating” yourself with whatever great quantities of sugar and fat happen to cross your path.

This approach isn’t for everyone (and please don’t substitute my suggestions for your doctor’s counsel), but if it’s appealing to you, consider devoting the holiday season to making every eating experience a conscious one where you eliminate as many distractions as possible, like TV, reading material, and eating on the run, in order to savor every bite.

Make eating a meditation: before you put anything in your mouth, become quiet and relaxed, take several deep breaths and say to yourself, “Everything I eat turns to health and beauty.” You can do this even at the holiday table with family and friends. Especially with family where the temptation may be strong to stuff down childhood feelings with another serving of pie. Disconnecting a bit inwardly and putting your attention on the food, your body, your nourishment, and the experience of pleasure can help break the knee-jerk, stuffing-family-feelings-with-food habit.

As you take a moment to be with your food before you consume it, picture it being easily assimilated by your body and turning into health and beauty. Eat slowly, paying attention as you chew and swallow. Stop the minute you feel the first sensation of fullness. If you’re full but can’t stand the thought of leaving all that yummy food on your plate, ask for a doggie bag. After eating, sit quietly for a moment, relax, and take some deep breaths. Imagine a feeling of comfortable fullness and lightness in your body. Imagine that your stomach is filled not just with food, but with peace and well-being that radiates soothing sensations throughout your body.

Don’t eat again until you feel the first sensation of hunger. Then eat immediately, but only until you feel the first sensation of fullness. Pay attention as you eat, chew well, and really notice how food feels in your stomach and what the sensation of fullness is like. Every time you feel hunger, ask yourself what food you most crave. Feed yourself the food or foods that are just what you want. You may find yourself craving previously “forbidden” foods at first because enforced restriction can, in and of itself, create cravings for whatever’s been denied but, as you eat consciously in this way, you’re likely to find yourself satisfied with much less. And, as you eat consciously but not restrictively, you may also be surprised by your cravings becoming more and more balanced. I once saw a perpetually dieting and vegetable-phobic woman, who equated greens with cruel punishment, astonish herself by craving salad after just three days of giving herself permission to eat whatever she wanted.

If you’re tempted to binge, create a healing ritual around eating one of your favorite foods. Set the table, light candles, and eat consciously, savoring each bite. Imagine the food having marvelous healing powers that are making you healthier and more beautiful. Continue eating this way until you feel the first sensation of fullness. (Again, you’ll probably find yourself eating less and enjoying it more.) End by giving thanks for your healing food.

If you do catch yourself eating unconsciously, forgive yourself. Notice what the binge is telling you about your emotional needs. Forgive the eating and address the cause. How are you feeling empty, angry, sad, or scared, and what can you do about it?

After all, the holidays with all their frenetic activity, social obligations, and childhood associations, are prime time for exacerbating emotional eating. As you make a commitment to conscious eating, also make a commitment to self-care. Make a list of other things you can do to nurture and soothe yourself that don’t involve food and give yourself time to do them when the urge to overeat arises. Let conscious eating become just the beginning of a more conscious approach to the holiday season where the frenzy of it all doesn’t override the spirit of celebration and joy.