Sunday, January 31, 2016

Menopause, Medication and Meditation


 I don’t write a lot of health related articles because that isn’t really my thing but I do touch on it all the time indirectly in terms of being sensitive to your body's messages and increasing awareness of the thoughts in your mind.  In a way, this article is no different.  I fearlessly turn 50 this year and I’ve begun the right of passage every woman ascends too.  Yes, I said “ascends to,” because I do not view this as a bad thing even if it throws all sorts of weird symptoms for us to contend with.  I’m talking about Menopause.  Guys, you can skip this one if you want or you can read and understand what your wife or partner or even mom or grandmother is going through.  It helps to understand people.  Once you understand the seeming burden they carry, you tend to take things they may say or do less personally and can use love and compassion much more liberally when needed.

My focus in this article is on something I’ve learned.  When arrived at the gates of this particular part of every woman’s journey, we begin to experience things we might deem discomforting, alarming or even greatly disturbing.  It can be scary if you don't know what you're dealing with.  Some of the things I have experienced is higher anxiety out of the blue, heart palpitations, sleeplessness, hot and cold rapidly cycling, hot flashes and transient pain, migraines, water retention and oh my, the dreaded weight gain.  The anxiety was the worst for me so I did what most do and reached for medication assistance.  Oh my did it help and having sleep again was so wonderful.  The rapidly increasing weight gain of the medication created 4 wardrobe changes in just 2 years and that was alarming but it seemed like the anxiety was worse so I persisted on my chosen course. I never for a moment considered that I couldn’t stay on the medication and shouldn’t or that I could have just as easily modified my diet, exercised more if I had committed better to making the time or even spent more time doing something it seems I’ve always done, meditation.

So, I’ll share with you now, I’m actually withdrawing from the medication the doctor gave me that really helped for a time because I realized and I strongly felt within my body that it just did not want the medication anymore.  That was a good decision.  What I didn’t know was that it would take 7 months to withdraw from that medication safely.  So, fine.  I began it and I’m more than half way done.  A few weeks more and I’ll be done and the symptoms of withdrawal I find are very similar to the menopausal symptoms and the extreme fatigue, stress and depression I was feeling before I began the medication.  So, no big deal, I'll deal with it all and as I understand it, it will take many months for my brain to start engaging its processes in full swing again after this medication disrupted my brain's normal processes.  GREAT!  I didn't know that when I began.  I should have done better research and you can bet in the future I will with any medication.

So, I’m learning again or re-membering what it was like to be fully me in my body and to feel everything, every twinge, every adrenaline rush, every rapid cycling shift from hot to cold, irritability, other emotions, some depression which is just a process to me I don't get too alarmed about now and sleeping challenges despite the other medication I also have to taper off of for sleep.  Shocking I know but I talked to a doctor and they thought these things might help when I was in dire distress for many reasons, some natural and some external.  I will readily admit that for a while, they did help but then they stopped and I didn’t want to take the medication any more.  My intuition told me that I didn't need it and I listened for the first time in many years.

So after this experience I have to say that the one thing that has been with me all along has been the one thing that helps the most.  The thing is, you have to make time for it just like exercise.  That thing is meditation.  Only I’ve shifted more to mindfulness meditation and yoga every day.  I get up early whether I’ve slept well or not and I do yoga for 15-20 minutes in the morning and if I have time, I’ll do a meditation for another 15 minutes.  If I don’t have time, I’ll make sure I take a lunch break at work and do another 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation and I do it again right before bed to calm my body from the day and prepare it for sleep whether or not it comes.  If you don’t know about mindfulness meditation, Google it, research it and learn it.  It is a lifesaver for many things.  I find that the more you educate yourself about whatever it is you face, you can turn fear, worry, misinformation, and belief into facts you are better able to manage and accept with peace and equanimity.

If given the choice to do everything all over again, I might have done a few things differently.  I’d have put myself first to alleviate a little bit more of my stress a lot more quickly, I’d have grabbed hold of my meditation and yoga practice and made more time for them and I’d have realized what I faced did not need a cure but rather understanding and my own acceptance.  What we resist persists (this is an old teaching but a very true one especially today).  What we begin to understand, accept without reservation or fear and embrace with dispassionate observation in a very healthy way, can be one of our life’s greatest teachers.  I may have taken the long way around the block on this one.  I accept that and everything that comes with it and honestly, I don’t really regret it because I did the only things I knew how to do at the time and, well, I learned a LOT.  I’ve learned that beating myself up for things is just not a good idea or a loving expression of self-respect.  I learned the key importance of monitoring my thoughts and not grabbing hold of the negative ones that generate emotion I can acknowledge fully without reaction.  I can now just observe them and let them be as they are without changing them and then let them go like the clouds that float across cerulean blue skies.  What a great lesson and if the longer walk brought me there, perfect!

What a vulnerable piece to write about today but I’m feeling a little more authentic than usual and much more open after what I’ve been through these past couple years of this particular life lesson.  This part of every woman’s journey is not a disease to cure but a process to grow through.  I don’t sit in judgment of the choices of others, mind you.  Every woman has to decide for herself what is right for her and what is right for her body as she approaches the gates to the right of passage called Menopause.  I offer up my learnings and challenges as food for thought for those who may be of a mind to try something different, to try self love, to try self-acceptance, who wish to seek greater understanding and know there are alternatives that really only take a lot of courage to hold and a really positive attitude amidst ominous seeming storm clouds of emotion and physical symptoms.  Life will get back to a new and even better normal if you simply make sure you take care of you, that you stop making yourself last and that you realize you’re okay and will ultimately always be okay.  The process may take years to complete but that's okay.  It's not a death sentence or even a fate worse than death.  It is something all women share and as more of us share, more of us can learn.  This is why we should fully respect our elders.  They have great wisdom if we take the time to listen and work to understand.

Since this has been a long enough article for now, I will end it with some positive thoughts.  You are amazing and wonderful even if Menopausal symptoms make you feel very not amazing or even remotely wonderful.  This is a right of passage and with patience and perseverance, you'll see it through in whatever amount of time it takes.  You can do it.  It is a beautiful transformation that needs no fear or worry.  Talk to your medical practitioner about any fears or worries and get educated.  Get counseling to help you manage anxiety or depression and know that your transformation is uniquely about you and it is beautiful as are you.

Blessings of love and courage to all for whatever it is that you face.  I wish you peace, joy, balance and much happiness on your journey.

© 2016 Jaie Hart (photo/words)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Inside Out - Outside In

Interesting it is to me our habitual outward focus on what everyone else is doing from the rich and famous, to co-workers, family and even friends.  We watch as the ego compares itself continually to everyone else to judge where it is on the food chain.  There is no shortage of things to find wrong with everyone else when your ego has trained its eye on that kind of filter.  The challenging part for us all is understanding that the more we extend and expend our energy in an outward focus, the more what needs healing within us remains hidden and so very out of reach.

What if we were to shift our focus from pointing out all the wrongs of this world inward and observe what is going on inside of our own bodies, our sensations from inside our own skin and our own thoughts and emotions?  What if we were to explore more our inner world of amazing beauty and endless passage ways into the heart of our own being?  What might we find?  What better things might we learn about ourselves, this world and life if we could just learn to habitually shift that focus inward?

Sometimes the best way to influence behavior you find outwardly displeasing is to return that focus to self and live up to our own expectations, sweeping our own porch clean and setting a very fine example of all that we think is good in this world.  If we could follow our own bliss instead of the manifestations of pain in others, we might just help create a greater loving space for all to grow, to learn and awaken on their own terms.  We need not complain about others to lift ourselves up and in fact that lift up, well, it’s just an illusion that will lose its effect pretty quickly.  When we go deeper within and find all that is loving, good innocent and gentle, the lift up we can achieve is by far longer lasting.  We’re not readily taught this but if you try it and create this as a habit, you’ll find your life shifting and changing around you.

You might even learn what you’re attached to that causes you to notice what you call bad behavior in others.  There is a belief hiding in there I can almost guarantee it.  But it is okay to have beliefs hiding.  It’s okay to leave them alone and do nothing other than what you’ve always done.  Truly.  I merely intend to point out an alternative for those who may be considering it.  My way isn’t the only way or the best way.  It’s just a path.  Every step we all take is on a path and one that is truly perfect for each and with some understanding and lots of love and no fear, you begin to see what was once unseen and what was once so very misunderstood.  When you get to this place, the eyes of your soul begin to open and you start to see with love instead of fear.  It feels better, I have to say.  But old groves are hard to move out of.  Practice makes perfect so why not for one day practice focusing on you and your behavior, the love within you, the gratitude you didn’t take time to notice, the beauty all around you and the unique beauty of everyone and everything in existence?  It’s just a day.  It may be the best day of your life and one you may wish to practice more and repeat again some time or every day.  Just some food for thought.

© 2016 Jaie Hart (photo/words)

Aimless Wandering or Endeavoring to Explore

Wandering through a life losing the desire for expectation with every step, I realize there are still some expectations that try to get my attention.  I know that expectation leads to nothing but disappointment so when I find these little nagging things, I have to ask myself why I believe they should exist?  Why should I expect anything from anyone ever?  You might think you are entitled to your expectations in terms of what you should be getting and how people should behave around you.  I will tell you that is a high way to an emotional hell of sorts that just isn’t very fun to contend with at all.  To me it is like a choice to be in pain and suffer needlessly.

It’s very human to have expectations but are we limiting ourselves when we hold them?  Are they not beliefs that we have filtered through our environmental psychology as perception no closer to truth than the magical unicorn’s existence?  When I tug on the strings of expectation I almost always find a hidden belief at the source of it.  When I pull with all my might that belief falls out of the sky and into my lap.  Oh my, I discover then I have something rather interesting to contend with, to take apart and fully understand.  But you see I’m on a mission to tackle my beliefs and test them one by one to determine which ones are truth and which ones are mere illusions I’ve held deep inside of me for so long I only just now realize the misery they cause.

I get excited a little when I find them because it becomes a unique and welcome opportunity to take a look at things I may have stuffed way down deep inside unconsciously.  But now that they become conscious through just exploring my expectations I can begin to understand my own misery that I have created by holding onto a belief.  A common one we all hold concerns the behavior of others.  We argue and fight about what is right by how we would handle situations or hold our own behavior and we imagine conversations that have never taken place considering our assumptions truth and that truly only serves to limit us, limit our thoughts and close the door on an imaginary prison cell.  If only we knew and could reach for greater understanding, we’d know we hold the key to our own freedom by just letting go of assumptions, perceptions, beliefs and expectations.

It isn’t easy I will admit quite honestly.  But, if you can be brave and ever so courageous enough to step outside of the ego’s fear of being found out, you can become so much more whole, so much more content and so much more balanced in your approach to life. It would leave you feelings so much lighter to engage in this exploration.  Write about your findings.  Face them head on with love, compassion and gentleness for self.  These are no easy tasks I speak of.  But, for the brave and courageous in this endeavor, self-actualization and self-realization awaits you as a Divine reward.  Your awakening is beckoning you to come find it and you will find it through the heart of your expectations, perceptions, assumptions and beliefs.  When you understand them and can find the strength to let them go knowing inherently than in the release you lose nothing and yet gain more than you ever dreamed, you will find a peaceful existence full of compassion not only for yourself but others who are unable as yet to explore.  You’ll be less concerned about the behavior of others or their level of awakening or not and more focused on what you need to do for you.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Blessings of higher love, greater understanding and infinite wells of compassion.

© 2016 Jaie Hart (photo/words)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Presence of Just One Moment

Every day, a fresh clean page presents itself to us.  We wake up from a night’s repose oblivious to anything but the moment of awakening.  We feel refreshed and rejuvenated.  Every moment can be as this.  We need not wait for the night to fall and we take to our beds to clear away the tired feelings in our bones.  We can achieve this feeling in every moment but we must we willing to do one thing.  That one thing is learning how to be very exceptionally present in the moment.  There are many ways that one might achieve this but in my opinion the best way is through simple meditation where you relax every beautiful muscle, all sinew, release tensions and just breathe.  When you show up for yourself in this way, you gift yourself so beautifully, a moment, one precious moment that moves with you into the day every day.  A moment of peace and within that moment great joy and happiness does lurk too.

It isn’t so difficult even if we’re in pain, regardless of the kind.  We need just be present and realize it is a part of our play and we can just watch it play out while we breathe without attaching to it.  I’m describing a technique that will sound very familiar to some.  Add to it the notion of watching thoughts as if from a theater seat where they scroll across the screen from a comforting distance.  You can watch them without attaching a story to them, significance to them or emotion to them.  Instead you can focus on your life giving breath knowing in the moment you are the perfect presence and have need of nothing except yourselves.

Mindfulness meditation brings great awareness of the present moment and the impermanence and transience of everything we perceive for even every moment is like a chain woven with our beautiful intent to project here and live.  If we can just allow ourselves to breathe, accepting the true eternal self as the loving amazing witness of all the happenings in life, a beautiful transformation takes place and with practice that transformation becomes ever more permanent in your psyche, in your rewiring brain along with the loving and compassionate emanations from your heart – this is true love and it begins within.

Blessings for a momentous day of discovery of a precious and beautiful moment dear dreamers.  May you find the love, the peace and infinite presence of it.

© 2016 Jaie Hart both photo and words

Friday, January 15, 2016

Respecting the Quest and a Dose of Reality

There was a page on facebook from one of my favorite authors.  For whatever reason, the author’s page was opened up to a sort of free for all of random postings.  I wandered through curious about what I was seeing.  The themes I saw were interesting from self-gratification, selfies posted on this author’s page, epic psychological representations, political pieces, conspiracy theories, rude comments, random "gee I think I'm so important and opportunistic that I will self-promote my stuff on this great author's page" kind of postings.  I just left thinking “Wow, this is a great man, a pioneer in the fields I seem to care most about (psychology and philosophy) and all people can do is post selfies on this great man’s author page?”  Clearly it is no longer moderated or at least not much.  It was sad to me and I have to reflect on that. I guess I feel the lack of respect for someone I respect deeply as a great thinker and intrepid explorer of new frontiers and no body seems to care.

Well, I care.  I care a lot and I’m saddened.  At the same time I realize the account could be unreal.  It seemed very real at first as I traded messages at first with his secretary.  Maybe he just decided to let people be.  I guess if I too, step back and just allow what is and let go, I can see humanity as it is and not as I wish or think it could or should be.  We’re all at different levels of awareness here, perception here, belief here and living here.  While from a global perspective I hold compassion and respect for all, there is still a part of my being that wishes for greater awakening and I know, I know that is not my right to wish such things upon others.  It is not my role nor is it my objective.

So, I have to come back and focus on what my objective is…to come back to myself, my own self-realizations, my own compassion, breathing, loving and letting go in order to accept things as they are and not as my limited ego thinks they should be.  Every single part of the whole – humanity – which I view as unique and beautiful thoughts emanating from the Source, the same Source, I hold in deep regard as I do myself.  I can get mad if I want to entertain anger.  I can be sad if I wish to entertain sadness.  I can also embrace peace, love and equanimity if I wish to entertain these things.  In all honesty, it is the latter I wish to hold.  So, then, I have no choice but to forgive with compassion and understanding and focus on my own shadow, letting go of what others choose to do.  Maybe I just worry about myself and do my best to set an example of respect whether or not anyone ever notices.

That’s the tough part about life, learning to stop pointing your fingers at what you think is wrong in everyone else and making the shift to focus on self, self-action, self-love, self-forgiveness and the wakes we personally leave as we make are way through the waters of life.  In a moment, I may be weak and feel sad.  I can let that go.  In a moment, I may be weak and entertain anger and frustration about things over which I have no control.  However and thankfully, I’ve learned enough about life not to stay there.  I guess this week after losing so many people as they returned home in a very Big way, I’m feeling a little sensitive about our luminaries that are left in this world.  Respecting their legacies matters to me and for those still living, even more respect comes to mind.  If I could I’d tell them all, I love you, thank you and may the Source bless you always.  I wish the same thing for all of humanity really.  Tenure on planet Earth is not a guarantee for life continues beyond death.  So, to me, I guess respect for life in all of it’s forms matters.

But so too does all of humanity.  So, these thoughts of frustration I think are not really for what I saw for everything here that I see is just an illusion which means I’m creating thoughts again and I have to understand their significance and the emotional attachment points I have held unaware.  Not unaware.  I've lived a good life and tried my best and I guess I'm a little saddened and frustrated by the huge lack of disrespect I have experienced from people I just expected more from.  And, well, maybe that is the problem.  Maybe I just expected a little too much from those who were capable of nothing more than disrespect, ignorance and complete lack of consideration.  It happens.

I guess we all have these feelings some times and these emotional attachment points, well, they show up in the things that we are pulled towards in this illusion.  Its not bad and its not wrong, but you can gain understanding if you know what to pay attention to.  Life is a journey and not a destination and everything in between is sweet and precious as well as ever so very beautiful.  At least that is how I see it.  Well, how most of the time I endeavor to see it.  Some days I'm successful and some days I'm not.  I'm really okay with that and so too must I be okay with the rest of humanity no matter how they show up.  I will show up for me no matter what.  I guess if I've gained that out of all of this - this morning, ultimately this tiny little lesson has been a blessing truly I'm grateful for.

I’m rambling now so maybe it’s time to sign off and finish my coffee.  May you be blessed with bliss, great understanding, infinite compassion and much love for your journey.


© 2016 Jaie Hart both photo and words

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Present Moment Awakening


Water stained tree trunks
Restless leaves blowing free
Rain drops falling on happy grass
Storm clouds dark and ominous
A downpour ensues
And I’m drenched in mere seconds
As laughter escapes my lips
Oh how I long to run and play
But I’m standing here silently
Breathing the freshly cleaned air
Inside its warm
But it isn’t warmth I’m looking for
I’m looking for answers while watching a storm
I sigh a little
I breathe slowly in and then slowly out
Anchor myself securely in my body
Become more present than ever I’ve been
And I realize then how alive was a moment
But just the present moment
We forget the infinity a present moment holds
Not only does it spill out in all directions
It moves with us
Where ever it is we go
If only we’d stop to notice
If only we’d stop to just breathe
Maybe look up now and then
See raindrops sailing across tall skyscrapers
See people smiling as they try not to get soaked
Realize this dream is so perfect
In every regard
We too are perfect even in our seeming imperfections
So much here is transient and impermanent
 Like these racing storm clouds - here and then gone
In our rudimentary perception we think is truth
Certain it is so honed and so very keen
Little do we understand the malware that runs deep
And colors our world in colors we might not choose if we were asked
Were I asked I’d pick rosy pink or cerulean blue
Idealistic optimist as always
I didn’t expect that a soul ever could
Fall in love with a moment
And then hold it forever

© 2015 Jaie Hart (photo and words)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome to Your Life

The first day of a new year always brings up some interesting feelings. First, “We made it through the last,” with a huge sigh of relief.  Funny that is considering our time is limited here in this frame of focus.  Why we wish to get through something I’d like to say I don’t understand but I do. The thing is, every day and every moment is more precious than any precious stone or metal you can mine from our beautiful planet.  It’s hard to see at ground zero of a situational or emotional disaster we’ve just faced but if we could but remember, we wanted to experience the fullness of life, we might view things differently.

In Mindfulness meditation we are taught that there is a beginning to emotion, resistance and feeling adverse towards the things and situations in our lives we aren’t particularly interested in dealing with and then there is an end.  If we could find a way to ride the wave, become the quiet center of the storm and witness the amazing wonder that life is with all of its intricacies, complexities along with our own emotions with dispassionate understanding, we might learn to see things a bit differently.

On this first day of the year, I have no resolutions as I have no regrets to solve.  All I have experienced and who I have experienced with all the way back to my youngest years I am truly grateful for.  That’s not to say I won’t set goals and strive for certain areas of focus important to me.  First and foremost my focus will be on peace knowing I must always search for and find that peace within first, then I will be more able to see and feel that as I witness and react or respond to the outside world.  My next point of focus will be on compassion.  Not just with others but myself.  For if I am unable to find within and hold compassion for myself, any attempt to exhibit that towards others in the outside world will be inauthentic and superficial and well, that just isn’t me.  My next point of focus is on two words, I AM.  These, I feel are self-evident but for those who haven’t experienced or heard these two words used all alone, believe me they do not represent alone.  They represent the greatness available to all of humanity who can achieve that greatness through remembering, through realization and through the allowing by letting go of ideals and those things the world teaches and in some ways forces us to measure ourselves against.

Life is not a grand competition.  You’re really competing only with yourselves to attempt, if you want to, to be better than you were a year, a month, a day or a moment before.  We have that power – that power to learn and grow and if you’ve read my blog – go back to the very first entry and you’ll find a very lost and frustrated soul but I had just learned to open up to seeing things differently.  I remain so because I’ve learned that is the only way I can live my life – being open – allowing and accepting myself just exactly as I am while I fumble, stumble, fail and try again and again to learn my own life lessons.  We’re all just learning to make our way but you know what, we’re in this together. 

So, today I find myself wanting to hold a space for not only myself, but all I know and every other human across the globe and so I shall.  With great love, compassion and courage do I hold a space for all of humanity, for the Earth herself and every other living thing here.  Today isn’t the only opportunity you have to try something new or to learn or make changes or shift and change if that is what you desire.  In every moment you can be made anew if you focus on that and allow that to be.  So, allow.  Let your dreams become your reality. Let yourselves heal.  Allow yourselves to let gently slip away any person, place, thing or situation that no longer serves you and open yourself up to receiving that which will.  Blessings for a beautiful day.

© 2016 Jaie Hart (Photo/words)