Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Return to Authentic Joy

Over the last few weeks I’ve been focusing heavily on the roles Hope and Fear play in our lives on a daily basis. In light of world events, it seemed to be a topic I needed to address. It’s not enough, however, to talk about Hope. Though it’s important, it’s equally as important to discuss Joy. And frankly, we all could use a bit more joy these days, don’t you think? But how do we find our joy? What does that even look like?

One of the primary issues my clients come to me with is a feeling that they’ve lost their way. They wake up one morning, usually later in life, and say, “How did I get here?” or “What’s this all for?”

It’s a bit like an existential crisis – though over the years I’ve narrowed it down to more of a lack of authentic joy. As a result, one of the early questions I ask clients who are expressing this need is:

“When you were five years old, what brought you joy? What made you belly laugh?”

This question not only serves to create a language and discussion around joy, but it reminds them that they know what joy feels like, and that they once experienced it effortlessly.

In a recent example, I had a client whose answer was simply: “My dog,” which, in a panic, she immediately followed with: “But I don’t want to have a dog right now!”

I reassured her, “Don’t worry – you won’t have to go get a dog to rekindle your authentic joy.”

After talking through her experience of having a dog at 5 years of age, and why it was the first thing she thought of when asked about joy, we uncovered what the dog represented for her, which turned out to be:

  • play
  • unconditional love
  • companionship

This client was single, had great friendships and relationships with others, but felt she was missing the elements that she thought would allow her to play, feel free to be herself, and share that joy with someone else.

Once we identified this as the path back to adding more joy into her life, we could then work out how, when, and why these things were important – as well as how she could incorporate these various aspects in her life.

As children, we laugh freely, love openly, and live joyously. Our lives are mostly well-cared for by someone else, which allows us to be ourselves more completely. As adults, the reverse is true. Not only do we feel that we often need to “be” something other than what we are, we also spend a lot of time managing things for others. As a result, we can feel disconnected from ourselves, and from authentic joy.

In my experience, the path back to authentic joy involves these steps:

  1. Remembering what brings us true unabated joy,
  2. Understanding what it represents,
  3. Seeking it in a new way, and
  4. Adding it back into our lives.

This is the recipe I have developed for returning to a more joyful state of being. For me personally, it looks like having music playing throughout my day (I like to sing), making time to reconnect with friends near and far, and prioritizing time in nature. What does it look like for you? :)

Apathy, Indifference and … Hope

Last week I wrote about Hope being the antidote to Fear. But what is the antidote to Hope?

I actually hadn’t thought about this, because I believe Hope is one of those things that is ever-present. Even in the worst circumstances, there seems to be hope. For years, I’ve written about how in the darkest moments you can still find that grain of sand that is Hope… somewhere… glimmering. I believe Hope is the most powerful energy in the Universe, because it’s the only thing that remains constant in even the most awful situations. Hope restores Love when Fear has taken over.

Hope restores love

But does Hope have an Achilles heel?  And if so, what is Hope’s kryptonite?

After more tragedies in the world last week, I saw a friend post a quote on social media, and I had to pause to take it in:

“Apathy and indifference are the nails in the coffin of hope and change.” – Morley

The late Elie Wiesel said something similar:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

I had to really think about this. Are apathy and indifference the poisons that kill Hope? I wanted to write about it on that day in order to really explore my thoughts and beliefs around the topic, but I didn’t. Instead, I allowed it to simmer on a back burner as I processed the depth of its simplicity.

And then I wrote a totally different piece about my personal life and the struggle I have been facing with regard to my father’s stroke on its 10-year anniversary. (You can read it here.) That piece generated a lot of feedback, love, and support. More than I expected. But it wasn’t until I re-read it that I realized I had described the very scenario that I had simmering on a back burner.

When resignation starts to take hold, hope starts to hibernate.

Resignation, in my opinion, is a form of acceptance without choice. It’s forced. Perhaps because it’s forced, it becomes easier to adopt an attitude of indifference. In some ways, indifference can feel protective. But in other ways, it’s the indifference that opens the door to apathy. And yes, now that I’ve let it marinate for a while, I believe apathy is the antidote to Hope.

I think if Hope were in a petri dish and you doused it with indifference, it would weaken, but not dissolve. However, as the indifference grows it becomes apathy, and apathy has the potential to neutralize Hope. Kill it? No. I don’t believe so, because I think Hope is the Tardigrade of the energy world. But arrest it and prevent it from fulfilling its potential? Yes.

Why does this matter?

I think it’s important that we remember the role Hope plays in times of survival. I hold a view of life that we are always living in one of three ways:

Survive
Live
Thrive

When we are in survival mode, Hope is more important than ever. This does not mean that we diminish and trivialize what’s going on around us by optimistically (blindly?) saying “Love will win” whenever tragedy hits.

Rather, it means that we dig down deep into the nitty-gritty darkest recesses of our souls, knowing all the yuck and darkness, and still say: Love will win and then embody what that means. That’s Hope. That’s holding on to Hope, teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and living Hope.

There’s a reason that at the bottom of Pandora’s Box, after all the fear, pestilence, and misery, Hope remained. Hope resides in the darkest places. Hope resides where we need it most, and the only thing that prevents us from accessing it is apathy … turning a blind eye and/or choosing not to care, because it simply hurts too much.

For many of us it has been hurting too much lately. Tragedy, violence, and other senseless acts that go against our nature cause deep emotional wounds in our collective psyche. It’s in these moments that we get to choose how we want to move forward. We can choose Fear which eventually leads to a protective form of apathy, or we can choose Hope. Even when it’s hardest, especially when it’s hardest, I hope we choose Hope.

P.S. If you’ve never heard/seen it before, here’s a great video by an old friend, Shawn Gallaway, on the choice of Love or Fear. May it inspire you.

Resistance, Obstacles, and Making Sense of the Senseless

Last week, in light of the recent tragedies and violence in the US and abroad, I wrote a bonus blog and recorded a video on how we make sense of the senseless. The bottom line, for me, was that we stop trying. It’s virtually impossible to make sense of something that goes against our very nature. Trying to attribute rational thinking to such a problem becomes an endless cycle of frustration, grief, and disconnection.

What we can do, instead, is work to heal the root cause of the senseless actions of others. In this instance, I believe that all violence has its origins in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and fear is taught. Therefore, if we wish to combat senseless violence, we must teach Hope. Hope is a high-vibration energy that directly counteracts fear. (To learn more, you can read the rest of the blog here, or if you prefer, you can watch the video.)

Then, this past weekend, I stumbled across this video by Mingyur Rinpoche. I admit that I clicked on it because of the title, “I’m too lazy to meditate,” because I am too lazy to meditate. Well, I’m not sure if “lazy” is the right word –  but you get what I mean.

In the first few moments of the video, he gives the basic answer that I gave to dealing with the senseless violence: Stop trying. Or in the meditation example, stop fighting the laziness. When you stop pushing against that which is your obstacle, you give your obstacle the room it needs to fall away naturally.

I believe that the body and soul have a natural inclination to homeostasis. I also believe that all the obstacles we face in our lives are our soul’s journey through remembering who we are at our core, and each challenge brings us that much closer to the central truth. Therefore, if our natural inclination is to return to center, and the obstacles are there to assist us in doing just that, it makes sense that our job is to stop resisting the obstacle in order to allow it to teach us what we need so that it can fall away.

Did you catch that? Sometimes, it’s truly as simple as taking a step back and accepting that which we perceive to be in our way. It’s often this basic act of acknowledgment that allows the obstacle to go. 

In the case of being too lazy (tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, scared, etc.) to meditate, as Mingyur says, it’s about taking a step back, accepting the state you’re in, and reframing your perspective to welcome the obstacle into your life, which paradoxically, allows it to go.

I really enjoyed this video, and I hope you will too. I write often about how to create change in our lives, and how awareness and small consistent steps have the most lasting effect. This video describes just that, and for me, it’s perfectly timed. I have been frustrated with my lack of meditation and routine and itching to get back to it. However, my frustration has caused me to feel overwhelmed which has prompted me to not try. Yup – that’s what I said.

Mingyur’s video is a reminder to me that it’s not about trying or perfection, it’s about choice and presence. Five seconds of meditation is still 5 seconds, and five seconds repeatedly will add up and eventually lead to five minutes.

Whether it’s trying to make sense of the senseless, or feeling frustrated over the lack of a routine, it’s the resistance that keeps us stuck.

xoxo,
Martina

Resistance

How do we make sense of the senseless?

How do we make sense of the senseless? (video here, if you prefer to listen/watch)

To begin with, senseless tragedy and violence seem to be all around us. Our nervous systems are on overload, so even getting into a space where we could attempt to make sense of it all is virtually impossible.

In the last week, we have seen violence on a horrific scale. Whether domestic or international, the crimes against humanity – against our very nature – have pushed many of us over the edge of reason and into empathic overload. I have seen many of my lightworker colleagues retreat in the last 24 hours, because of this. I myself, needed to take a step back to gain grounding and perspective in light of what has been going on. But please don’t mistake silence for apathy. In fact, it’s quite the reverse.

During this time I have repeatedly asked myself what is the most important question to answer here? And I kept returning to: How do we make sense of the senseless?

While, it’s not actually the most important question – it was the gateway to the most important answer.

Firstly, we stop trying to make sense of the senseless. When something goes against our very nature, it is often explained away in order to soothe our ache. For example, when a child dies, we say: God must have needed him or her. We do this to create some sort of balm so we can categorize it and store it away and stem the tide of hurt and pain.

When senseless violence occurs, we try to make the same attempt at understanding in order to diminish the pain and fear, but instead we often end up in a loop of emotion fueled by rationalization. We get trapped, because the very definition of the crime is that it’s senseless.

Therefore, we need to stop trying to understand it, to stop trying to make sense of the senseless. The way forward is to name it and label it for what it is (senseless), so we can accept it as is and work to change at its roots, by understanding its genesis.

All violence, in my opinion, has its origins in the energy of Fear, and Fear is taught. Whether it’s about power, frustration, lack, oppression, anger, rage, victimization, etc. – you name it, it’s taught, often through propaganda. These teachings are grounded in the low-vibration energy of Fear, and are then fueled until they manifest in action.

In most of my studies thus far, I have been taught that the opposite of Fear is Love. And while I know that to be true (Love is the energy of creation, and Fear is the energy of destruction) – I actually modify it slightly.

For years I have been writing and maintaining that the opposite of Fear is not Love, but Hope.

Why?

Because in the absence of Love, and mired in the deepest trenches of Fear, Hope remains. It’s that glimmering grain of sand in the darkness that invites Love back into the conversation.

IMG_6684Therefore, if we look at the vibrational energies on a spectrum, we would have Fear on one end (low vibration), and Hope on the other (high vibration). Anything that is of the lower vibrations associated with Fear (anger, hurt, betrayal, rage, etc.) would then be made better by dousing them with the higher vibration energies associated with Hope (Love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, etc.).

However, I prefer to think of them as a continuum, rather than a spectrum. The reason being is that I know, personally and professionally, that Hope is always present, even in Fear. And it’s a much closer jump from Fear to Hope than it is from Fear to compassion, when it’s on a continuum.

But what does all this have to do with the recent violence and tragedies around the world?

Well, if violence is born of the propaganda and teaching of Fear, then we must teach Hope to counteract it. We must

teach Hope,
speak Hope, and
embody Hope.

What does this look like? Well, for my dear friends who are amazingly powerful and vocal activists, it means speaking out, raising awareness, and lending their voices to a cause. For my quieter more introspective friends, it means sharing Hope by adding beauty in to the world and reminding people that there is much – much – more good than violence and tragedy going on… and everything in between. These are just two examples, amid a world of infinite possibilities.

We know that people listen when they feel heard. In order to even enter into a discussion to create change and foster peace, Hope needs to be restored.

Teaching Hope, speaking Hope, and embodying Hope in our daily lives is the way forward for a more loving and peaceful world that is aligned with our true nature: our divinity and our humanity. We are both, and Hope resides exactly in the center of the two. Hope is the manifestation of what it means to be both human and divine. Hope is at the very core of who we are – and it’s the most powerful tool we have.

Showered by Grace

What is it about Grace that we can have a thousand different definitions, from a thousand different people, and yet somehow we can all be saying the same thing?

For me, writing my piece for 365 Moments of Grace became an exercise in gratitude. When I began, I was unsure where my words would take me, but I was certain that wherever I ended up I would feel better for it, and I did. Before submitting my work to the book, I vetted it with a couple of friends. What I found interesting was that one of my friends’ replies went something like this: “Oh, honey, I am so sorry…”

I was startled by her words, because I had felt only gratitude for my experience in the shower. Even then, as it was happening, I felt grateful for the peace it brought me. I think that’s because it was fueled by Grace. Grace transformed my despair into something greater.

“Grace is a power that comes in and transforms a moment to something better.”
–Carolyn Myss

So, without further ado, for those of you who have not purchased the book yet, I would like to share my Moment of Grace with you here, knowing that there are 364 more stories within its pages that are similar, and yet wholly distinct. This magical book is filled with over 250 voices sharing their stories of Moments of Grace, all saying something different, and yet, somehow, all saying something similar.

Finally, as I geared up for the book’s launch, I tried to describe and define Grace for a friend. I wrote: Sometimes Grace is that still small point of breath, where nothing is needed and everything is possible.

grace

I’d amend it today to say that what’s needed, in fact, is Grace, though it’s rarely ever identified. In our deepest moments of despair we rarely have the ability to ask for what we truly need. And in those moments when Grace is needed most – it always seems to show up.

xoxo


 

Showered by Grace
by Martina E. Faulkner

Years ago, as I started my journey through the refiner’s fire, I was brought to my knees at a most inopportune time: I was in the middle of my morning shower.

While lathering up my hair, I found myself overwhelmed by grief, pain, and tears. My journey of shedding layers of imperceptible veneers had begun, and it was painful. Unexpectedly, with a mountain of bubbles on my head, I fell to my knees, sobbing.

Crumpled on the shower floor, with water pouring over my skin but not cleansing any part of me, I couldn’t utter a word. I silently wailed as my tears mixed with the stream of soap and water from above. I could barely breathe. Immobilized, I watched in awe as my hands reached up.

Like a child drawing on a foggy winter window, my fingers knew what to do when I had lost any semblance of presence in myself. They wrote on the shower wall:

Help.

A single word inscribed in the mist was my call for assistance.

The effort it took humbled me further. As the water began to cool, with the bubbles all but gone and my shoulders hunched forward in a semi-fetal position, I felt a calm fall over me.

My mind began to settle as my heart returned to a steady rhythm. My tears, though still flowing were a gentle trickle instead of a torrent. As I started breathing more deeply and steadily, I noticed my pain had eased.

My cry – my plea for help – had resulted in a warm embrace in the most unlikely of places. Mixed with the water from the shower, my tears had become diluted, free to flow out and away from me. I felt held.

I still use the shower wall to send messages to what I now refer to as my spiritual team. Whether they are messages of gratitude or renewed requests for assistance, there’s a knowing that comes almost instantly the moment my fingers begin to glide across the steamy glass.

©2016 Martina E. Faulkner

showered by grace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

P.S. Fore more information on 365 Moments of Grace, or to order your own copy, click here

Check out a few other co-author blogs about the book using these links for yesterday, today, and tomorrow:

July 4: Julia Van Der Sluys and Lore Raymond
July 5: Julie Jones
July 6: Catherine M LaubMarva Collins-Bush and Nicole Levac