Author Archives: Wendy Young

Support of Inner Connection

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential
for doing good, both for oneself and others”.   Dalai Lama

What nourishes us so that we are able to keep showing up and keep believing in ourselves when we feel despair and pushed to our limits? 

How do we kindly and creatively support each other? 

How do we keep nurturing our trust in the essential goodness and intelligence of Life?
 
Spiritual practice, self care and choosing balance are important practices for supporting ourselves during this period of challenge and rapid change.   
 
Regular movement and stillness practices – yoga, dancing, tai chi and nature walking as well as meditation, reflection or rest are just a few suggestions.

When we practice with sincerity we connect with a natural inner strength of our core, a quality of Being that grows from our vulnerability and dedication.
 
This inner connection helps us to be more adaptable to meet life moment to moment. 

It helps us to understand and accept the inevitable nature of change and its potential for transformation and growth. 

It helps us to feel, be with and integrate strong emotions.  Allowing ourselves to feel all that we are feeling gives us access to the support and power of compassion, for ourselves and each other.  
 
Slowing down and enjoying simple pleasures: sunlight streaming through the window, a freshly prepared meal and the feeling of our breath.  

Coming back into the present moment, feeling our body and reconnecting with our heart by feeling grateful for what we have, helps us feel more grounded and spacious. 

This also nourishes our inner connection and supports lifestyle choices that nurture balance.

Taking Care

“It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves
that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance,
creativity, and joy that lie at our core.”

Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul

In reflecting on self care, I was reminded of the Buddhist teaching of Maitri, a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional friendship with one self.  And is the basis for acceptance and compassion. 
 
Self compassion means making friends with all parts of ourselves.  What does it look like and how does it feel to treat ourselves with unconditional friendliness?  It’s not that easy – we are much more familiar with our disapproving and judgmental mind states.

There is also a strong habit in our system of avoiding the difficult and uncomfortable aspects of ourselves and our life that we don’t want to – or know how to – acknowledge and feel.

Maitri is an invitation to turn towards the pain and to deepen in self honesty.  It means maintaining a feeling of deep compassion toward ourselves as well as a sense of humour!  Living Maitri is being able to say, “I feel so much shame right now and I’m still going to be gentle with myself.” 
 
Friendliness and care toward our self is not indulgent.  The practice of Maitri is about maintaining a relationship with pain, difficulty, shame and guilt.  Ease comes from within: learning to be with feelings of discomfort, failure and embarrassment is how the seeds of true harmony are planted and nurtured. 
 
Feeling at home in our body and mind, learning to accept all parts of ourselves – including the judgemental and unkind aspects – and applying the gentle practice of Maitri:  this taking care of our hearts and minds with the same diligence as we take care of our bodies, is a freeing and empowering way to live.
 
Maitri is the essence of taking care.  We need this practice so much in our world right now: compassionate connection and true friendliness with all parts of ourselves, each other and the earth. 

If you feel called to explore and cultivate self care, please join me for an afternoon Taking Care Retreat on Saturday 1st August Live online from 2 – 5pm UK / 3 – 6pm South Africa & Europe.  For more information about the retreat www.wise-living.co.za/workshops-and-retreats/courses/

Beauty

Beauty

is the harvest of presence, the evanescent moment of seeing or hearing on the outside what already lives far inside us; the eyes, the ears or the imagination suddenly become a bridge between the here and the there, between then and now, between the inside and the outside; beauty is the conversation between what we think is happening outside in the world and what is just about to occur far inside us.

Beauty is an achieved state of both deep attention and self-forgetting; the self-forgetting of seeing, hearing, smelling or touching that erases our separation, our distance, our fear of the other.  Beauty invites us, through entrancement, to that fearful frontier between what we think makes us; and what we think makes the world.  Beauty is almost always found in symmetries and intriguing asymmetries: the symmetries and asymmetries seen out in creation, the wings of the moth, the airy sky and the solid earth, the restful focused eyes of a loving face in which we see our own self reflected: the symmetry also, therefore, of bringing together inner and outer recognitions, the far horizon of otherness seen in that face joined to the deep inner horizon of our own being.  Beauty is an inner and an outer complexion living in one face.

Beauty especially occurs in the meeting of time with the timeless; the passing moment framed by what has happened and what is about to occur, the scattering of the first spring apple blossom, the turning, spiralling flight of a curled leaf in the falling light; the smoothing of white sun-filled sheets by careful hands setting them to air on a line, the broad expanse of cotton filled by the breeze only for a moment, the sheets sailing on into dryness, billowing toward a future that is always beckoning, always just beyond us.  Beauty is the harvest of presence.

Consolations – The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, David Whyte

Slowly Softly Sublimely

Following an inner knowing that felt like a spiritual calling and a homecoming, I completed an eight year cycle of deep healing, and let go of my home.  I left South Africa at the end of August 2018 and moved to Bali, a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago.

 

The last two-month immersion in a much needed sabbatical and exploration of some of this mystical island, has brought me to a place of deep peace and ease… serenity.  This journey has felt whole: full of both amazing and challenging experiences; pleasant and unpleasant feelings…  there are always two sides to Life experiencing.

 

Within the first few days of arriving, my hope of finding a quiet beach bungalow to rest and energise was shattered! Noisy motorbikes, the busy southern part of the island that has a high density of tourists and the impact on Mother nature from excessive tourism, felt overwhelming.  This was an invitation to dive deep into the inner Stillness of my being. 

 

Interwoven in this process, has been connecting with the warmth and wisdom of the Indonesian people.  While visiting friends on the pristine island of Flores, I explored parts of the jungle and mountains.  My guide, who took me to the Cunca Wulang  waterfall, said ‘pelan pelan’ as we wondered through the jungle.  ‘Pelan pelan’ in Indonesian means ‘slowly slowly’. 

 

This has been a profound invitation: to slow down.  And in the slowing, I’m experiencing softness – in the people, the land and in Life.  ‘Slowly slowly’ has brought a deeper appreciation for the sounds, sights and scents of this new Life that is unfolding.  In turn I’ve let go of rushing, planning and controlling.  I feel more receptive to the wonder of the unknown and feel myself dropping into the synchronistic magic and richness of being in Flow.  

 

My whole being – body, heart and mind – is also softening.  I’m meeting a still open Heart, which feels like it’s enabling me to bring the authentic power of self-trust, embodiment and wisdom to each experience.  This openness is also nourishing a depth of connection within me, with other people, as well as with the aliveness – and the stillness – of Life itself.

 

Ayu is the Balinese word for deep beauty, and refers to both inner and outer beauty.  This is certainly a land of awe-inspiring beauty.  I’m now living in Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali, and I’ve never experienced a city quite like this before.  Held by the natural beauty of the jungle, the ancient and modern dance together in a seamless and harmonious expression of Life living itself.  Rich with temples and colourful ceremonial dress, it is also a place of contrast: smells of incense and burning rubbish; narrow congested streets and glorious natural scenery; local road side warungs (restaurants) as well as organic health food eateries and juice bars; art galleries and live jazz.  There is certainly a magic here, a vortex of potent potential and mystery that permeates the air.  It is sublime!

 

If you feel inspired to embark on inner process work, or are in need of coaching to support your outer life, please email wendy@wise-living.co.za or WhatsApp +27 72 800 4982 for more information and to book a session.  I offer transpersonal somatic counselling, life coaching, trauma work, energy healing as well as spiritual mentorship, private yoga and meditation sessions.  You are also welcome to simply connect and share with me.  


‘Do you see that everything in the universe is simply doing its dance –

expressing itself the only way it can… and this is happening in every moment. 

Seeing this clearly brings instant relaxation and peace. Why? 

Because everything is doing the only dance it can, what is there to worry about?”

Bhakti Maa

Body Wisdom – feeling at home in your body

Awareness of our body and its wisdom is an empowering ability that we are all born with. However, as we grow into adulthood, we tend to lose connection with its messages. This innate ability becomes blocked by childhood conditioning, limiting beliefs and self-perceptions, and the residue of past traumas.

When we learn how to deepen our connection with our body, which is a powerful form of intuition, we access clarity and inner knowing quickly and easily in stressful situations. Tapping into our full body presence is how we awaken our creative potential; and how we cultivate greater ease and joy as we navigate our inner and outer worlds.

Listening to the spontaneous signals that our body sends throughout the day – gut feelings, tugs at our heart, tense neck and shoulders – sounds like a simple practice. As a species, we’ve been doing it for millennia. Early humans depended on this full `body wisdom in an instinctual way.

However, most of us are cut off from our body wisdom. We shut out physical and emotional sensations – all feeling – due to past traumas. Limiting beliefs about ourselves and our bodies colour our perceptions about what our body is trying to tell us. We are also distracted by our environment — the fast pace of life, our digital gadgets and the unsettling state of the world.

Our reactions to body sensations can be overly vigilant because our mind may be thinking that what is happening now is similar to a past traumatic event. This locks us out of the current moment and leaves us vulnerable because we can’t accurately sense what the rest of our body is telling us. Unfortunately, if we can’t feel present-moment sensations, we are relating through old patterns of fear, shame or doubt.

Learning how to feel and listen to the full range of body sensations nurtures our relationship with our self and with others. This deeper sense of connection flows over into our connection with all of Life — heightening our sense of belonging and growing a trust in our self and others. Listening more closely to what our body needs, physical and mental/emotional healing happens.

When we return home to feeling our body again and again, we access the nourishing flow of life force energy within and around us. We open more expansively to all of Life and our unique gifts flow through and from us into the world. Accessing our most valuable resource – our body – cultivates trust, presence and freedom.

How do you feel and sense your body right now? What is the relationship like that you have with your body? Can you hear your body wisdom?

If you feel called to deepen in your body wisdom, I offer 1-1 transpersonal somatic counselling sessions to explore past traumas, conditioned beliefs and present life challenges. It is a therapy that makes the connection between mind, body and the interconnectedness of Life. I work directly with your nervous system to facilitate a process of healing and awakening from personal and collective wounding. Email wendy@wise-living.co.za to book a session.

 

Remember to return home to your body, feeling it in the chair and on the ground, feeling any sensations and receiving its messages.

With love
Wendy
facilitating your somatic and psychological process from Open-Hearted Presence

Emotional Intelligence

To heal our emotional wounds and transform limiting self beliefs, we need to focus on getting in touch with the traumatised, rejected and unaccepted aspects of ourselves.  We do this by cultivating receptivity, sensitivity and presence towards ourselves.  The more we learn to love and accept ourselves – warts and all – the more peace, joy and aliveness we feel in our lives.

When we experience difficult feelings and emotions, such as hurt, rejection, anxiety, self doubt, anger, fear and depression, our automatic tendency is to avoid or to push these strong emotions away.  However, everything we reject or bury affects our physical and mental wellbeing: this process can leave us feeling stuck, limited and isolated; and unconsciously distorts many of the decisions we make in life.

Learning to receive, feel and listen in a way that says all experiences are welcome and sacred, we develop the capacity to be fully present with whatever arises, as well as becoming fully present with ourselves.  From this still place of open acceptance, we are able to experience directly and intimately the sensations and emotions in the body.  This allows our nervous system to relax and healing to happen – physically and psychologically.  Now we are able to listen to the messages and wisdom that rise from deep within the body.

In this way, we learn to relate to ourselves, others and life in an emotionally mature and grounded way.  By cultivating a sense of connection, authenticity, openness and compassion we grow our emotional intelligence.  This is an important daily practice, and one that needs awareness, courage and kindness.  It is an essential life skill needed at this time of our human and spiritual evolution.   

How do we digest Life?

We have less ability to digest food when our mind is improperly digesting life’s experiences!

Mind and body are not separate entities but are deeply interrelated. The mind can affect the wellbeing of the body, just as the condition of the body can affect the quality and state of mind. There is an intimate relationship between the brain and stomach which means that digestion responds to thoughts and emotions.

The healing tradition of Ayurveda teaches that health and wellbeing depend upon our ability to digest everything we receive from the environment. This includes food and drink, experiences and emotions as well as the sensory input through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.

Agni is the Sanskrit term for “digestive fire”.  Agni breaks down food and experiences, assimilating what is useful and eliminating the rest.  When digestive ability is strong, healthy tissues are created, waste products are effectively eliminated and a subtle essence called ojas is produced. Ojas is experienced as our innermost vital essence and our enthusiasm for life. Ojas is the basis for clarity of perception, immunity, overall strength – physical, mental and spiritual, as well as the glow of our aura!

If agni is weakened through improper eating, lack of activity, turbulent emotional states or an unhealthy daily routine, digestion will become compromised. This produces toxins – ama – which are stored in the body and is the root cause of dis-ease.  Whether you are dealing with weight issues or uncomfortable symptoms such as IBS, bloating, gas, acid reflux or indigestion, the underlying root problem is weak agni, or poor digestion.

Ayurveda recommends a variety of practical tips to keep agni strong. By including these practices in your daily life, you can strengthen agni, improve nutrient absorption and food metabolism, treat uncomfortable digestive symptoms, digest life experiences and enhance your overall sense of vitality:

  • Meditate daily – regular practice helps restore balance to your body/mind, including the processes which control digestion. Meditation is also an effective way to manage stress.
  • Regular exercise – whether it is a little yoga every morning or a short daily walk, this aids digestion and controls sugar spikes.
  • Don’t overeat – when you overeat, your body cannot break down food properly. Your body will also produce more acid, causing reflux and indigestion which leads to gas, discomfort or bloating. Ayurveda recommends that you leave ¼ of your stomach empty to allow space for the digestive process.
  • Sip ginger tea throughout the day – ginger is known as a “universal remedy” due to its many medicinal properties. Ginger relaxes the smooth muscles of the intestine which relieves symptoms of gas and cramping and strengthens digestion.
  • Eat your largest meal at lunchtime – your body is most able to digest food at midday, when you are active and digestive fire is at its strongest. In the evening your body is slowing down and preparing for sleep. If you eat your biggest meal at dinner, when agni is weaker, you can feel heavy and bloated and have difficulty falling asleep.
  • Practice letting go of turbulent emotions – have you noticed how emotions effect your digestion? You may get heartburn or lose your appetite when you feel stressed or feel nauseous before a big presentation…

Unprocessed emotions can put a strain on the natural digestive process and lead to chronic digestive issues. By learning how to manage stress and release emotional turbulence, you help your digestive system work naturally and efficiently.  Look out for next month’s newsletter in which I talk about emotional intelligence.

Proper digestion, with a strong agni, plays a central role in your physical and emotional wellbeing.  By making wise choices that strengthen your digestive ability, you form the foundation for good health and vitality.

If any of this resonates with you and you’d like to learn how to meditate, need nutritional treatment or transpersonal counselling to help access and ‘digest’emotions, please contact me for more information and to book a session.

Returning to your Heart

A wise person once said, “Nature is held together by the energy of love.” I’ve always been fascinated by the innate wisdom of nature. Plants grow out of the mud up towards the light.

People grow in much the same way. If we deny the deep, dark places of the soul we dampen the fire that sustains our growth. But if we stay too long in those dark places we can become lost to our destiny, which is to evolve our heart to its fullest capacity.

Much of the time looking within may feel like we’re digging in the mud for lost, wounded fragments of ourselves. This is a necessary part of our healing, but is only half the story. The metaphor of the plant teaches that we cannot stay in the mud, our calling is also to reach for the light. Resolving past hurts gives us the confidence and energy to grow into the life of our Divine calling. This is the virtuous cycle of transpersonal growth. And the best way to sustain the cycle is by learning to re-inhabit our bodies and feel what we’re feeling.

My workshop Returning to Your Heart (Saturday, 26 November 2016) is an invitation to begin living from the truth and wisdom ever-present in the body. All that we’ve repressed, as well as all the blissful states of freedom – in fact everything we’ve ever experienced – is found in the body. The only way to heal our wounds is to fully open to the feelings and sensations in our bodies. Working with embodied feeling resolves unconscious patterns of repression and acting out.

“When we actually open and listen, then an entirely different relationship to life comes into being. Life continues to unfold as before, but because there is no one resisting it and no one turning away from it, there is no suffering, only the experience of openness, freedom, and joy – the experience of full embodiment.” (Reggie Ray, Touching Enlightenment)

Returning to your Heart workshop: 26th November 2-5pm, Alchemy Esoteric Wellness Centre, Linden

Experience the alchemy of allowing yourself to feel your feelings – especially painful ones – and its liberating effect not only on yourself, but on your parents and ancestors. By returning home, inside your body, you are able to release these contractions and help resolve the karmic cycle.

Drawing on the wisdom traditions of yoga and Buddhism, I use mindful movement, breathing, focused intention, stillness and facilitation.  This workshop is an opportunity to explore these sacred practices as a way of returning to your Heart.  Join me in discovering the hidden realms that lie within.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.”   Rumi

Feeling and Being

Sometimes people come to spirituality because they feel unhappy, or desperate. The danger is that spirituality becomes psychological avoidance as opposed to truth-seeking.

To me unhappiness is a nagging discomfort and background feeling of anxiety accompanied by the thoughts: ‘I’m not enough, this isn’t enough, they aren’t enough’, that is enough to make me feel relaxed and content with myself and with Life.  If you’re someone born into a functional and loving family then chances are your self-esteem is good.  Life may be challenging, and you can fall back on the self-belief that ‘I am enough to be successful and happy, despite the challenges.’

However, many of us were born into a family where the emotional environment was characterized by a nagging sense that something is wrong.  That doesn’t mean there weren’t moments of intimacy, fun and laughter – but the default setting was a vague feeling of unease.  If that describes you, then you’ll need to be especially vigilant against spiritual bypassing – seeking higher spiritual states to escape emotional pain.

Release comes from honestly and gently acknowledging what we are feeling. Underneath the depression, anxiety and self-judgment is the simplicity of feeling and being. Even uncomfortable emotions, not explained away, suppressed or interfered with, are preferable to the complex thoughts and emotional games that tend to overlay feeling. It’s great when we connect with our True self through heightened spiritual states. But, profound insight is also available to us when we let go and sink into the realm of pure feeling; when we let go and sink into feeling our bodies from the inside.

Take a few moments and experience this now – breathe out and let your body release fully into the support of the chair.  Continue to feel the release of each out-breath bringing more and more attention into your body.  Notice how your body is feeling.  Rest here for a few minutes, simply feeling and being.

Discovering your Awakened Feminine

I’ve recently returned from a week-long retreat, Meeting in Truth, led by Isaac Shapiro and Meike Schuett (www.isaacshapiro.org). The retreat was deeply nourishing and very transformational. An area of healing for me has been with regards to the dance of my inner masculine and feminine aspects. I’m noticing a softening of my inner masculine, which is allowing me to deepen into the receptive, embodied qualities of my awakening feminine: I’m experiencing this as less doing and more being.

Our modern world emphasises mind-made forms at the expense of the Formless. Success is determined by the shiny things we own and what they cost. Billboards and television commercials tell us what’s beautiful and what’s not. Many of us bemoan this addiction to surface, which is a product of consumerist living. We long for depth and meaning, for the wide open spaces of an interior world.

In a world that equates form with beauty, we yearn for the wild beauty of the awakened feminine. If we are fortunate we discover a practice that helps us plumb our own depths, and dance in the deeper land of our being. And if we are even more fortunate we join a community of fellow seekers with whom we share our depth and find refuge from the onslaught of surface.

When we seek beauty in form we project our own beauty onto the person we desire, the car we drive, the home we dream about it. Lurking below these projections, this desire for beauty, is something sacred. Both women and men long to access their sacred beauty, but are restrained by a materialistic culture that worships at the altar of science and rationalism.

I am inspired to meet people from the ground of the formless. I invite your awakened feminine out of the cave and into the open. I long to see your beauty shine, your voice sing out and your body dance to the wild rhythms of Nature.  Please contact me to book a session.