We Pray with All of Our Senses

I was driving through the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania — an unplanned five-hour trek home due to my friend’s canceled flight — feeling annoyed and disappointed. Suddenly, my busted-plan weekend shape-shifted into a sweet gift.

The beauty of the terrain lifted my spirits: clear morning sunbeams lit up the ice-covered craggy mountain walls, like white icing on molasses cookies. A few glittery flakes were falling gently through glazed tree branches — white, dark, white, dark — creating a pleasing rhythm. As I drove, I clicked through the many soft rock and Christian radio stations till I heard this snippet:

We pray with all of our senses.

Cut to…

At home the next day — a 75-degree sunny Sunday with nothing to do but take a hike in the woods. Afterwards, I was sitting in my backyard garden feeling that satisfying kind of tired from moving my body around out in nature.

Suddenly two people appeared. They were dressed in heavy layers of black clothing, him in a suit and tie with an overcoat, and her in a dress with black stockings and a hat.

I’m sorry, it’s a confusing neighborhood,” he said. I thought they were going to ask me for directions so I smiled and perked up. (For some reason I love giving people directions.) He continued: “Can I offer you this… it’s about a talk on Tuesday night.”

I looked at the glossy pamphlet with a picture Jesus on it but didn’t extend my hand to receive it. The rest of what the man said was a blur because I was transfixed by his face: smooth skin was pulled taut over pronounced cheekbones, like a wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

“I’m good with everything,” I said, still smiling. The man thanked me for listening and they went on their way.

I didn’t mind that they had walked up my driveway and into my backyard to try to share what’s clearly so important to them. It doesn’t matter to me what people believe as long as they’re kind and respectful, as these folks were.

But here’s what I really wanted to say to them:

ambrosia 1000

Lovely people, come sit with me for a while. Take off your heavy wool coat and enjoy the warmth of spring. Do you smell the honeysuckle? Let me serve you some ambrosia I made this morning. Taste the sweet, tangy, creamy, crunchy… Savor.

Kick off your shoes and rip off those black stockings… walk around… feel the crisp green grass beneath your feet. Connect to the power of the earth itself. Raise your hands up and stretch your body. 

Turn your face to the sun and bathe in the rejuvenating light. Do you hear the birds songs? Sit with your eyes closed and focus only on that — they all sing a different tune but together they make sweet music. They’re singing for themselves… for each other… for you.

This, my lovely friends, this is the most powerful prayer you could ever offer. Appreciating this excruciatingly beautiful life you’ve been given by reveling in it with all of your senses — that’s what your soul wants for you. 

0413171545a~2You don’t need to study or repent or work to prove your worth to God, Christ or me. We know you are divine. We know how elegantly your five senses line up with the pleasures of this world — that’s not a tease or a reward, it’s a huge hint. 

Now go… go walk through this beautiful neighborhood if you enjoy doing that. I certainly do. But be sure to look up at the squirrel’s nest perched in the highest branch. Peer down at the tiny, brave crocus that has arisen yet again. 

And if you ever drive through the Laurel Highlands, take note of how the white icing glistens against the dark, ragged rocks… Say a prayer with all of your senses.

spacer

Amy's Ambrosia recipe

Live inspired!

The Magic of Cherry Blossoms

While I was visiting my 92 year old mom last week, the cherry tree along her front walk started to bloom – a happy sign of spring bursting forth, right on schedule. My mom walks slowly with a cane, usually looking down to make sure she doesn’t trip on anything. One day we were leaving the house and she stopped and stood under the tree then looked up to see the puffy pinkish white offerings set off by the clear blue sky.

“Thank you tree!” she said. “You’re so beautiful and you make me so happy.”

Two years ago, my mom broke a vertebrae in her back and had to spend the better part of spring in bed. We didn’t know if she would ever recuperate, and there were many moments when we questioned whether she would even survive (on many occasions she told us she was ready to go so we set up hospice). Hopped up on pain killers, she stared out her bedroom window at that cherry tree for hours and hours, watching the buds open into delicate flowers grouped like families on the limbs.

We had many conversations during those two months, and she often commented on how appreciative she was of that blossoming tree. This didn’t seem too unusual to me since my mom has always been a nature lover. But her praise of this tree was different – it’s beauty transfixed her. She never seemed upset by her accident or annoyed that she was bedridden (again, probably the oxy), but I think deep down that tree kept her in this world, grounded and blooming.

Amazingly, she has healed nearly 100% physically, but the trauma (and maybe the painkillers) turned her forgetfulness into full-on dementia. A layer – the one that caused her to worry, made her feel like she had to constantly be productive and direct the whole show – dissolved. Now she’s content to watch the birds and squirrels on her back patio instead of feeling the drive to clean, volunteer or strive. Life is easy and pleasant for her now; she lives in the moment because that’s all she has.

I wonder what her life would’ve been like if that layer had dissolved while her memory was still intact. Don’t get me wrong, she was always good-natured and positive, but like all of us she’d get swept up in the doing instead of the being. Deep down I think this happy-go-lucky mom was always there, hoping to pop out but waiting patiently till all the chores were done.

When I visit my mom these days, I like to watch her watch the world. Her delight is a reminder to me to bask in what’s truly important while I still can. Also, now I know where I get my proclivity for talking to nature and thanking it for its beauty; my marveling at simple pleasures makes more sense. I guess the cherry doesn’t fall far from the tree.

butterfly on cherry blossom PIC_YES

It’s not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

I Do This Daily = High Vibe

Last night’s dream: someone was changing the batteries in the smoke detectors. I said, You don’t need to do that, they were changed on June 18 (2016).

When I woke up, I looked in my journal to see what was going on back then. I was amazed: It was the exact time I’d had some big a-ha moments and made significant changes to my mindset and also my daily life.

Now, 7 months later, I see how those things have manifested. These days, I’m always either in a high vibe state or I can get there really quickly. I now live much more in the moment and follow my impulses (hello divine guidance). My life flows along and I make better decisions easily, without a bunch of angst. I feel in sync with my authentic self and everything else springs from there.

So what’s the daily habit that really transformed my life? Every morning while enjoying my coffee, I write at the top of my journal page:

Source, God, Universal Energy* – thank you for focusing your positive attention on me. It feels so good…

And then I take a moment to really feel how source energy is beaming love to me, in this moment and always. Usually I write more, sometimes a couple sentences other times pages, while I’m in that state. It’s been amazing the insights and ideas that have come through.

This phrase works for me because I actually feel a wave of unconditional love and wellbeing wash over me. I hook into that feeling and it instantly raises my vibration. It also gives me a sense of responsibility, in a really good way. Like, what I’m doing today matters because source energy is taking the time to focus on me (as it’s doing with everyone always, but hey, I’ll take it!).

This pleasurable little activity sets a positive and high vibe tone for the day. Later, if stuff starts happening that isn’t so great, I take a moment and look up and say again: thanks for focusing your positive attention on me. I make a point to really feel it. Instantly I calm down and regain my high vibe perspective.

If you’re looking for a reliable way to recharge, give it a try!

*Source, God and Universal Energy are all really the same thing. And they are all Love – capital L unconditional Love. I write them all just because it feels nice. You can use whatever you like as long as it represents that unconditional Love energy that everyone is connected to.
love flower

Feeling Blue? Soothe Your Senses

Heartache enriches you as much as victory.

Some consolation, right? You feel crappy. Screw the enrichment. It’s time to wallow, dammit.

There’s no shame in that. Wallow big, wallow deep. Make it the best wallow you’ve ever had.

Eventually, something inside of you will yearn to feel good again. That’s your natural state of being – your spirit always hangs out in that high-vibe state – and you’ll seek to rise up to it, over and over.

Here’s the bad news: You can’t go right from feeling devastated to feeling happy.

Here’s the good news: Yes you can.

Just not all in one swoop. The chasm is too wide. You can’t see the other side and your legs are too weak to a big leap anyway.

Here’s the key: think in increments. Look for one small, easy thing you can do that feels good.

Look for what soothes and pleases your senses: Pet your dog or cat. Slide into a favorite sweater. Light some lavender incense. Give up your seat on the train to an elder and notice that it feels good to stretch your legs.

These may seem like excruciatingly small steps, especially when chaos seems to be swirling around, but one self-nourishing act will lead to the next.

The morning after the election, the only thing I could do was sip my warm cup of coffee. It was a simple pleasure I had control over when it seemed like the world had turned upside down. It helped me feel just better enough to go to the myofascial release class I’ve been taking. Doing something good for my body lifted spirits. After that I had enough momentum to make a healthy, satisfying soup for lunch.

Feeling bereft was being replaced by feeling fortified. I was slowly but steadily starting to rise back up to my natural state of wellbeing.

Next time you’re feeling blue, don’t try to power through it. Instead, take a warm bath with rose or vanilla essential oil. Find a water sounds station on Pandora and take a nap swaddled in soft blankets. Go for a walk and stop for a hot chocolate. Savor it.

Don’t worry about whether you’re being self-indulgent. You are. And that’s fine. Taking whatever steps you need to feel better isn’t weak, it’s empowering.

In fact, the more consciously you care for yourself, the quicker you will ascend back to your natural state of feeling centered and whole. You might even feel even better than before.

What’s one simple, nourishing thing you can do to feel a little bit better than you do right now?

Do it. Then do another.

soothe-your-senses

I Voted for Love

11/8 – morning

My polling place is the historic Church of St. Martin in the Fields. After voting in the parish hall, I like to slip into the sanctuary. Four years ago, the organist was practicing, filling the soaring space with sounds of sunlit joy, velvety depth and pure comfort. As I listened, I felt all of the love that had been conjured over time within those architecturally stunning walls – baptisms, weddings, stories, choir voices calling in blessings for all.

I’m excited to vote for love.

11/8 – afternoon

Today, after voting in the parish hall, I slipped into the sanctuary per usual. I was greeted with a large standing frame containing the outline of a red heart. Parishioners had tied pieces of fabric into a metal grid to fill in the shape. I was completely alone in the quiet space, but I could still see the love, hear the echoes of love and feel the love that has been called forth and shared over decades.

We are creatures of love – that’s our natural state – and today love is breaking out of these sacred walls and spreading far and wide. Today I voted for love.

As I was walking home I dropped my phone and broke the screen into a perfect spider web. The pictures of the fabric heart were trapped inside, inaccessible no matter how hard I swiped.

11/9

The sunlit skies of yesterday are gray today. My new phone arrived and the big red heart re-emerged, unfazed by the sudden shatter. Love doesn’t disappear, it’s always there waiting for us to find a new way to see it.

I’ll always vote for love.
fabric-heart-vote

Focus on Your Pleasure Points… 3 Steps to Maintaining Good Mood Momentum

sunset-circle-topI love my mornings – they’re peaceful and sacred to me. That is, until the dual leaf blowers start. As I’m pouring my first cup of coffee, on cue the maintenance crew of a nearby grocery store fires up not one but two blowers that are so loud they could be in my living room. This aggressive noise is one of my pain points (especially in summer when there were about two leaves but they kept at it for the requisite 15 minutes).

When I worked for an interior designer I noticed that much of her job was to remove minor but daily irritations. She’d replaced banging trash cans and toe-stubbing ledges and viola… a happier homeowner.

It’s not so easy though when a pain point is coming from a source you have no control over. A car alarm during your precious meditation time or a co-worker who stops by to chat when you’re in a state of creative flow – certainly your familiar with these sharp pokes.

Annoying? Yes. But they also can take you from feeling light and cheery straight into a dark scowl, or worse, the dreaded downward spiral.

Those leaf blowers are SO loud! They’re really annoying me. My peaceful morning is now shattered. I woke up in a great mood and now I’m cranky and it’s only 7:45 am. I should be better at maintaining my cool. No, it’s not my fault. It’s their stupid fault. They’re ruining this neighborhood. I should move. Oh yeah, I can’t afford to move right now. I’m a loser for not being further along and able to afford a lovely home where I have more control over my environment. I’m stuck. This sucks.

 

Wave goodbye to the sunny mood momentum. And with it, there goes your intuitive guidance and sense of flow.

So what can you do instead?

After a number of irritable mornings, I tried a new response. Between sips of warm coffee and bites of sweet fruit, I opened my notebook and wrote pages about all of the pleasurable stuff in my life. Immersed in my own thoughts as they tumbled onto the page, the annoying noise seemed to disappear. I didn’t even notice when they turned off.

And that’s the key. Create a bevy of pleasure point go-to’s and grab onto one immediately when a pain point arises. Sensory experiences are a great way to counteract your irritation and replace it with what you truly deserve – peace and joy.

A car alarm flairs up during your meditation? Light some lavender incense and do a couple yoga poses till it passes. As your over-chatty co-worker appears, click into your collection of cute kitty photos or serene landscape shots and glance at them frequently as they prattle on.

These small moves can prevent the downward slide that can wreck your whole day. You might not be able to eradicate the pain point, but when you focus on your pleasure instead you keep control over your experience of it.

Here’s the 3-step way to stay in control of your good mood momentum:

1. Know your pleasure points. Make a list of easy to reach feel-good experiences. Think about what feels good to look at, listen to, taste, touch, wear and do. Gather supplies and be prepared.

2. Know your pain points. When you’re aware of what pushes your buttons you can have a conscious response instead of succumbing to a sneak attack.

3. Be ready to shift gears as soon as a pain point surfaces. Choose how to react and remember how good your pleasure points feel.

The biggest payoff may be this: What you focus on expands. The more attention you give to your pleasure points, the more satisfied and in control of life you’ll feel.

My pleasure point list is long and highly satisfying. Good thing now that it’s autumn… Bring on those falling leaves.

sunset-circle-bottom

Ray LaMontagne (Inadvertently) Talks About Sacred Sensual Living

1225151546~2I was moved to hear Ray LaMontagne sum up in a beautiful way some of the main ideas I play with through Sacred Sensual Living:

 

“I work really hard to stay grounded, to realize everyday how lucky I am, and we are, just to exist on this planet in this universe, and be aware of it. We’re so lucky and it’s so beautiful. And awesome in the true sense of the word. Really just awesome. Existence is just awesome.

Our culture is so far removed from that and people get so consumed with stuff and things, and things that just aren’t really important. And a total disconnection from nature, which has been here forever and is gonna be here forever. I want to stay connected to that.

That’s where I feel, like, that’s church for me, laying in the grass watching the moon come up and looking at the stars. That’s like talking to God, I mean that’s as close as I’ll ever get to talk to God. And it’s right there at your fingertips everyday.

Anyone can do it. You can just take a minute and lay on the ground. And it’s right there for you. That sense of peace and groundedness is available to you all the time.

I think people get so separated from it, they get anxiety and depression, and what you don’t realize is it’s all right there, it’s all available every second of every day. All you have to do is look at it.”

– Ray LaMontagne, in an interview with David Dye on World Cafe, 4/5/16

Ray’s new album is Ouroboros (produced by Jim James – see Music Spirit Love). Listen to Ray play Ouroboros live and hear the complete interview below. The album is meant to be listened to in its entirety, but I can’t help but point out two beautiful songs: In My Own Way and Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph – dreamy & sensual. Check them out…

 

Sacred Sensual Lifestyle: Luscious Lemon

Want to feel clear, bright and uplifted? We’re going to squeeze some precious drops of soul wisdom from that most versatile of citrus fruits, the lemon.

When you experience pleasure and satisfaction through your senses, you naturally create a connection to your intuition. This sixth sense is the divine guidance that helps you make decisions that are in line with what you truly want. The best part? It’s fun! Sensory mindfulness feels good, which is the key for accessing your most authentic self.

Here’s are several ways engaging with lemon can help you connect to your soul’s sweetest spot:

lemon and tulip

Lemon’s Sacred Side
Lemon is generally considered to be cleansing, purifying and fresh. Although the lemon is sometimes symbolic of bitterness, Christians often see it as a symbol of fidelity and love, and they associate it with the Virgin Mary. In many cultures, lemons have traditionally symbolized longevity, friendship and love. Rituals and potions designed to bring in romance often incorporate some aspect of a lemon.

Sweettart Sensory Mindfulness
Use lemon essential oil mixed with distilled water to cleanse the stale, stagnant or negative energy of a room and usher in a fresh vitality. Let it clear the cobwebs (from your house and your intuition) and promote clarity of thought.

One of the five essential tastes (along with bitter, sweet, salty and umami/pungent), lemon’s sour note creates a balance on the palate by tempering cloying sweetness and lending brightness. Lemon pairs with both savory and sweet, so experiment with flavor combinations. Try:

– adding lemon, fresh grated ginger and honey to your tea or your plain yogurt
– whipping up a fresh Meyer lemon juice, vanilla and vodka (or tequila or rum) cocktail
– mixing together lemon zest, black pepper and cardamom, then toss with dried cherries and your favorite nuts

Don’t forget to nourish your body too! Add lemon and vanilla essential oils to unscented body lotion for a delicious, sexy scent that will uplift your your mood and warm your heart.

Use Lemon to Purify Body Mind & Spirit
Does some area of your life need cleansing? Maybe it’s your body, your energy, your emotions, your home. Consider doing an easy cleanse or at least create a morning ritual of squeezing fresh lemon juice into a tall glass of warm water and drinking it down before consuming anything else. Lemon lowers the body’s acidity, which leads to less inflammation and a happier digestive tract.

Or maybe it’s your emotions that need purification. If the color lemon yellow is speaking to you lately, consider it might be a message related to your third chakra. This energy body relates to self worth and self power. Do you give away your own power by compromising when you don’t want to? Are you afraid of losing someone’s love so you turn into a doormat? Strengthen your third chakra by surrounding yourself with the color, scent and taste of lemon yellow.

Want more sensory-based ways to achieve wellbeing and feelings of vibrancy and satisfaction? Download the free mini-course: “7 Days to Satisfaction: Design Your Sacred Sensual Lifestyle” Enter your info below for immediate access to this self-guided pleasure route to creating your ideal life.




Occasional inspiration notes will also land in your inbox (opt out any time if they’re not for you).

Live Inspired!

 

From the simple stringing together of lemon garlands for the goddess Durga, to dividing the prasadam or blessed foods for the children first, I came to associate food not only with femininity, but also with purity and divinity.
– Padma Lakshmi

lemon slice