Depression to Deep Rest

This is one of those topics I love to talk about but it still feels a little edgy and vulnerable. It’s a post about the naturalness of depression after loss & the gift of space and fresh vitality depression can bring when you slow down and stop carrying the weight of unfelt emotions.

In Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s book on Death and Dying she highlights certain stages that are common in grieving – although they’ve been used as a bit of a gospel of what grieving should look like I’m keen to say I believe grief is a fluid cyclical process that continues throughout our lifetime rather than a neat tidy 5 steps and you’re all done kinda thing.

And I’ve definitely felt myself journey through all of the 5 stages she writes about following the end of a relationship I treasured dearly (Anger, Denial, Depression, Bargaining and Acceptance).

The layer that has been grabbing my attention lately is Depression.

“Depression is a commonly accepted form of grief. In fact, most people associate depression immediately with grief – as it is a “present” emotion. It represents the emptiness we feel when we are living in reality and realize the person or situation is gone or over. In this stage, you might withdraw from life, feel numb, live in a fog, and not want to get out of bed. The world might seem too much and too overwhelming for you to face. You don’t want to be around others, don’t feel like talking, and experience feelings of hopelessness. You might even experience suicidal thoughts – thinking “what’s the point of going on?

What I’ve noticed this time around on the grief train is how wise and wonderfully effective (and yes at times deeply uncomfortable) depression is at getting me to stop. To not fill my calendar with work and social catch ups in an attempt to try and not feel the pain of loss. To have me spend time alone letting my nervous system empty and my emotions be felt. The gifts of depression have me moving much slower than I would ordinarily as I feel all the ways my body has been in deep survival mode and is now letting go.

The slowness that came with depression has had me stay close to my feelings, to lean into them, to reparent the little one inside of me running lots of stories about abandonment and rejection. To practice what I preach and listen to my own gentle voice to create an inner sanctuary only possible if I’m truly listening.

And just for clarity here it’s my opinion that the over medicalisation of depression and grief is creating a culture of numbed hearts and emotional disassociation that see our natural response to loss a problem to be fixed rather than a great gift of our inner emotional wisdom to be witnessed and digested.

I do honour at times depression is an imbalance in brain chemistry and medical support is wise and super helpful. And to be clear that’s not what this blog is about. This piece is about grief (and depression) as a perfectly normal experience of being human, loving and experiencing loss. If you’re in the thick of it now and receiving medical support I honour the courage you’ve taken to reach out for help and I’m in no way suggesting it’s wrong, just offering another perspective that may help our hearts also digest and integrate the hurt and wisdom of loss so that our hearts remain open to life and love.

I think of situational depression as a beautiful thing, a stop sign of the soul as author Karla McLaren would call it. A call to stop and notice what in our life is too heavy to carry …to notice where has our vitality gone.

My whole body of professional work Deep Rest has been inspired in part by a beautiful video Jeff Foster has on Depression and Deep-Rest. He speaks about life pressing down on you – of life having become a burden, it being exhausting, almost impossible. What’s the burden he asks? The burden of me. Trying to hold up some kind of story of yourself, your imagined future, your successes, failures, hopes and dreams.

“We can view depression on a deeper level, as a profound, and very misunderstood, state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own false story of ourselves.” Jeff Foster

And oh man that rings so true for me. A year ago my ex and I began this cafe and community project together and dove into the merging of our worlds. I moved in with him and his young son diving into the world of step parenting and he dove in to help me set up what we hoped would become a beautiful nurturing space for us to together run mens and womens circles. So many dreams, hopes and promises…and looking back probably not a lot of space for the reality of the challenges we were facing.

Amidst the ordinary challenges of parenting a small child add in some family court proceedings, a couple of lockdowns, a miscarriage and a new business that naturally needed a lot of attention…and our still new relationship didn’t get much time to bathe in the luxury of the honeymoon phase.

It’s not been an easy year but I was deeply in love with this man and his little boy and committed to our growth and the life we were creating so when he chose to end our relationship last month I lost my footing. I was shocked and hurt by the way it ended, the unmet promises and the life I was left sitting in seemed to stop making sense without them. I still find myself cycling through shock, denial and anger at times (natural parts of big loss) but gradually depression settled in, forcing me to slow down and leave big open spaces. I see people every day at my beautiful community space and I’m still connected to my family and friends…I haven’t disappeared under a rock (although at times I wish I could and fondly remember times in my past where this was an option) but I also haven’t had much juice for new adventures. So I’ve been spending time at home or in nature reading, writing and resting and hearing my inner dialogue and nourishing her as best I can.

As a facilitator, someone who shows up for others and holds space while you unravel and reconnect to your emotional wisdom, it’s also deeply uncomfortable for me to admit I haven’t been able to meet the unrealistic expectation I still sometimes have of how the perfect human works through their emotions – the one that can just pick herself back up and move on grateful for the past and in perfect acceptance just at the click of a finger. But one of the gifts of depression is I give so many less fucks about carrying the extra burden of the perfect shiny (not) human right now. That weight isn’t one I’m willing or able to carry…nor do I think it’s helpful to any of my sweet hearted community to pretend that I never have challenges or that this is an easy transition for me. In fact showing up as I am is the way I embody what I teach. Real humans with real feelings that are sometimes messy and painful and full of rich learning and loving.

I like the way Jim Carey describes the inner dialogue in the Depression to Deep Rest connection as something like: “Fuck you I don’t want to be this character anymore, I don’t want to be this Avatar that you’ve held up to the world anymore. Deep Rest – your body needs to be depressed, it needs deep rest from the character you’ve been trying to play.”

So in an ironic little twist life has spun me back on the work that I so deeply adore – Deep Rest. And it’s my time now to drop the stories and let depression clear out what isn’t working. I don’t have the perfect little family unit nor do I have a loving committed partner to grow & navigate life or business with. But I also don’t have the weight of the story that my sense of worth & loveability is wrapped up in those things. And I do have my own commitment to loving and showing up for all of me, depression included and a knowing that even in the ending of something beautiful I’m giving it the honouring that I believe it deserves.

I’m not out the other side yet (if that’s even a thing) nor do I know what the other side might look like on a practical level, but the willingness to let go the burden of the story of me has created a little breathing room. Room for smiles and a giggle, visits to the Forrest and the ocean, some sweet chats with girlfriends and a return to womb-heart practices, writing and singing that nourish my soul. And a return to feeling at home within myself in both dark and light.

So if you’ve read up until here, thanks for journeying with me, and if depression has come to knock on your door too I’m holding you tenderly in my heart excited for the extra space you might feel when it comes time for you to put down the burden of you. May the inbreath be a little sweeter once you’ve felt the great letting go of your outbreath.

With Love Lani

Emergence….symbiotic relationships and Yin and Yang

Today I lay in the park after eating lunch. Watching the way of the birds – hilarious at times to watch the smallest birds seem to tease and threaten the bigger birds at times, easy to think they were just ‘all bark and no bite’ until the chase begins…and you watch the little one stake it’s claim to the territory like an absolute legend.

In the slower days of COVID lockdowns I was taken back to the days when I was travelling where there was a spaciousness in my mind and heart to appreciate the ways nature is always sharing her wisdom with us, when we take the time to listen. And I’m so grateful this reminder has stayed with me. So today as I looked up and saw the contrast of these 2 beautiful trees against the skyline I began to contemplate the beauty of opposites, of polarity, of differences, diversity…and the marvel of inclusivity. The sheer joy of feeling the space to allow everything to exist in it’s natural form, to recognise the magic of the natural order of coexisting.

There’s a concept I stumbled across last year called Emergence, which I understood to be the art of two whole, functioning things relating synergistically – that is when they work together to produce an effect greater than the things alone.

And my little heart did flip flops knowing there was great wisdom here for me to glean. What I began to explore was what is the fundamental difference between an emergent relationship and an entropic relationship (one that detracts from the other). And I discovered that in an emergence relationship the two wholes relate to each other from a place of wholeness – they don’t try to limit the space they occupy in each other’s lives. They understand that they individually have their own perfect function without the other…but yet together there is this new beautiful property that can not exist unless the two come into relationship.

While an entropic relationship is centred in disorder and the breaking down or detraction of the unique qualities of the two wholes, destroying some of the properties that previously existed. Where things are both improving in some way but declining in another there will either be a shift towards a more elegantly ordered way of relating (whole to whole) or a gradual destabilisation that increases with time creating entropy.

An emergent relationship is elegantly ordered and that order provides stability. For me that feels particularly present when a relationship is grounded in partnership (rather than control & domination) and a shared vision – whether it be family, creating a home, creative projects or a spiritual purpose. Where each person brings their unique properties and there is a synergy between the two that creates more than the sum of 1+1.

I’ve been blessed in this life to experience both a long term 11 year relationship/marriage and many shorter intense deep dives…many of them very much carrying the qualities of emergence. But each of them eventually coming to their own natural end…and as I reflect I can see the ending of each of them very much connected to the quality and quantity of space between us – or more to the point the lack of quality space between us that eventually created disorder and entropy.

In one of my favourite books the Celestine Prophecy, author James Redfield writes about something called the Control Drama’s. The story goes that we all have our own unique drama type when it comes to relating to others and that as humans we are all engaged in a manipulation of subtle energies because we’re caught in a flawed assumption we must compete for a finite energy that is being exchanged between ourselves and others.

In the book Redfield defines 4 main types – Aloof, Poor Me, Interrogator and Intimidator. Knowing your own type, and that of your primary caregivers is where he suggests liberation from the chaos of the drama’s playing out is. But what I found fascinating when I first read the book 9 years ago…and when I re-read it last year was this flawed assumption that we must compete and control and manipulate each other in order to feel good, alive, strong.

Celestine Prophecy goes down the path of highlighting certain insights to support the revelation of consciousness in humanity. And it speaks to wisdom that there is a subtle energy that forms the basis of all things.

“There is conflict in humans where we fight for the energy we have access to, the energy exchanged between us. Everyone is trying to control and manipulate each other for energy, because we feel short of it. We’re stuck in a sort of competition for each other’s energy. When we can get others to acquiesce to our view, they identify with us and that pulls their energy into us and we feel stronger.

The human tendency to steal energy from other humans by controlling them, taking over their minds, a crime in which we engage because we so often feel depleted of energy, and cut off. This shortage of energy can be remedied of course, when we connect with the higher source.”

What if the key to ending human conflict was for each of us to turn inwards and learn to cultivate our own connection to this higher source of energy? What if we were to talk openly about the fact that we’ve grown up manipulating each other under a flawed assumption that it’s the only way we could get what we need to feel good. What if we could actually receive everything we need, AND offer each other love and support by being more tuned into to our own connection to life. Call it God, Grace, Truth, Consciousness, Divinity…whatever word helps you to remember yourself as more than just a physical body, and personality. And what if this journey inwards could help us become more whole and elegantly ordered – creating the possibility for more emergence?

But what does yin & yang have to do with any of that – well they are the perfect example of emergence – the wholeness of the black and the white form to create an extra symbol without changing the beauty and perfection of the black and the white.

Take it one step further to remember that Yin and Yang is the eastern method of encapsulating duality -feminine to masculine, cold to hot, dark to light, resting to doing. So this relationship and potential for emergence is present in our every day life, everywhere. And it gives us a little reminder that balance is needed – space to honour the gifts of both Yin and Yang!

I’m a Yin teacher, and from an absolute perspective the way I teach is not in balance as I focus almost exclusively on Yin. I do that because I feel the lives we live in the Western culture have been heavily geared towards Yang. And I do this because I’m a deeply feminine human who thrives in the space of yin (with a solid grounding and containment of Yang). And after living a busy goal oriented, material possession oriented life for most of my adult years that kept me in my mind (yang) and away from my body (yin) I don’t need more encouragement in this field. What I need is to keep creating space to rest, feel, perceive, accept and love more of life – space to cherish relationship and inclusivity, wholeness and sovereignty and space to explore the subtle and inner part of my experience before connecting with others.

I know personally my role in this life is one of a gentle warrior, one who stands for truth and love and kindness in a very subtle soft way. A way that not everyone gets. My heart lights up when I’m helping others to create space within themselves to hear the whispers of their soul. My heart lights up when I see people I’ve been working with learn to love themselves and then watch as this overflows out into every part of their life. I know my path is to help them find their way home into the heart, and my soul has it’s own unique expression of this. And for others my path may appear nonsensical or fantastical because it’s not their truth. The wonderful thing is I am actually highly attracted to those grounded in their masculine presence (yang) because together our combined experience and wisdom brings something entirely unique and beyond what I alone am.

And I’ve had some disastrous attempts at intimate relationships with men who either didn’t value the slowness or gentleness of my Yin or who weren’t able to stay in their Yang – stable in their own direction and purpose.

To me the sweet spot seems to be when we can make space for each other, truly allowing each other to be who we are. Without needing to control and manipulate so that we can feel safe. Where partnership rather than control and domination are the focus. I don’t need you to be like me, and I hope you don’t need me to be like you – my need in healthy relating however is that I don’t need to fight you for my right to be myself. Because to me that detracts from my path and is a surefire way to entropy.

I am more Yin than Yang, and yet I know that there must still be balance and so to spend time with a beautifully integrated Yang partner is like heaven for me – it gives me permission to be my fullest yin, and to feel the strength of their direction and structure…and I know they feel the beauty of slowing down and being…and together the way we approach challenges and ideas is so much more vast, diverse and curious because of our differing perspectives. Enter emergence.

So while the concept of emergence is a big one, maybe it’s not that much more complex than becoming whole unto ourselves and meeting each other from that place. Ok maybe learning to experience our wholeness isn’t a simple thing either….but maybe just maybe it’s worth the adventure…a life long adventure of coming home to ourselves and each other.

A new home for heART of Rest

heART of Rest is moving into it’s own space in December/January.. A dedicated venue for restful, mindful, heart centred and embodied courses, circles, events and ceremonies. ⁠

PLUS there is a beautiful cafe and shop for you to nourish body mind and soul…while you connect with like hearted community. ⁠

A space immersed in native bushland just 15 minutes from Fremantle with a light and airy loft for heART of Rest and other like minded practitioners to share their creative, therapeutic and heart centred wellness modalities.⁠

Follow the link in my bio to join the mailing list and be the first to hear when tickets for our sneak peak December events are available. ⁠

And if you’re a heart centred wellness practitioner or artisan looking for a space to offer your services or creative wares send an email to lani@heartofrest.com.au as we’re looking for collaborators. ⁠

Can’t wait to share more of the magic of this space with you.⁠

Much Love⁠

Lani⁠

Join our monthly newsletter to receive updates on the new heART of Rest Wellness Centre & Cafe opening in January 2021 and be the first to hear about sneak peak events coming in December!

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Inspiration…Inspirare…To Breathe Life Into

“To breathe life into every moment
To allow life to course through your every cell
This one breathe
This one life
This one moment
Confusion, stagnation, emptiness…all just another flavour of breath
Love, flow, fullness…a new invitation
…to breathe life
…to let life breathe you
wondering is there anything more magical than breathing
is there anything left for us to do…
but allow life to breathe
allow breath to be life
breath breathe life
Will you let life have her way with you?”

A little pencil in the hand of God

If I were a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to the world What would I say?
Would I tell you that you’re more radiant than the sun?
And purer than the snow
Would I whisper sweet nothings in your ear to be heard in your heart?

What would I need to say for you to see your own beauty?
To know that everything you’ve always ached for
Is already within you
That the love and belonging you seek so desperately
Is right here inside this place inside your heart which isn’t a place at all

If I told you it’s Ok to lay down your battle stories
Could you rest here with me?
Could you allow your battle wounds to be bathed in love?
Could you hear me?
Could you feel me?
Could you know in the deepest place in your being these words of love?

Could you let the other words and worlds fall away?
As you rest into this great mystery of knowing you are loved
And yet knowing you know nothing at all
Could you savour the sweetness of this? 
Come with me, bathe in the great mystery
Let your heart unravel and show you the way
The way where there is no place to arrive
The place where there is nowhere to be
Just here and now in this beautiful  mystery
Come rest with me
That’s what I would say
Would you hear me?
Would you feel me?
If I were a little pencil in the hand of God writing a love letter to you?

Poetry By Lani Noble

Art by Line https://www.instagram.com/line.studio41/

“More radiant than the sun. Purer than the snow. Subtler than the ether⠀
Is the Self. The spirit within my heart. I am that Self. That Self am I” ⠀

Alice A Bailey

To the conscious heart awakened man. From a sensitive sensual woman. Thank you.

Thank you for seeing and cherishing me as beauty
For seeing the subtle ways that Shakti weaves herself through every cell of who I am
Respecting the power in my gentleness and vulnerability
Feeling the pull to protect and care for the openness and softness you see in me
And never asking me to be stronger, or to feel less – knowing this would be like asking a flower to change it’s scent

Thank you for knowing I am a soft feminine sensual woman who has journeyed deeply in order to peel back layers of harshness to reveal this beauty. 
For understanding I would I not cover Her back up again even if you wanted me to be something else
And for knowing the chasm between us that a request to be anything but this beauty would leave.

Thank you for seeing the depth of the journey I’ve taken to be the woman I am today and for not taking that for granted or underestimating the power that rests in this quietness.
For trusting me to take responsibility for my own safety and asking for what I need
And for knowing sometimes you can offer what is needed, and at other times I will step away to honour my boundaries or meet my own needs.

Thank you for taking your time before making promises
For knowing what is it that you want
For feeling and
Knowing what you feel in yourself
Knowing what it is you feel in me
Knowing what it is you feel between us
Remembering you are God, Source, Truth, Grace
Trusting that nothing we share can ever change that
And for allowing our connection to be an invitation of the greatest remembering
Again and again and again

Thank you for trusting your intuition and letting your heart and soul lead you
For asking for what you want and when you have my consent, taking it without apology or hesitation
Hearing me when I express a limit or need
Honouring this as sacred knowing that asking is my way of trusting you
Knowing my heart is naturally open and trusting until it is given reason to protect

Thank you for touching me with presence, with love, with desire for union and for sharing love of this life through your fingers, mouth, lingham and words
And for allowing me to touch you with tenderness, desire and care and to feel you feeling me

Thank you for being open and honest with me about doubts, reservations and resistance
And for knowing that unspoken barriers and limits create a void between us that makes my heart ache and my yoni close

Thank you for owning your body, heart and mind and all the parts and wholeness of your animal and soul
For embracing the love, light and power of your lingham
And for no longer shaming your sexuality because this tradition or that said something about it
Thank you for loving yourself exactly as you are

Thank you for trusting your self to know when you’re in integrity and not needing someone else’s rule to tell you
For doing your work around the collective shame of masculine sexual energy so you don’t resent me for allowing my Shakti to flow
For understanding that it is her nature to magnetise you
For trusting that I won’t use this naturalness to control you 
And for never asking me to shut her down so that you are not tempted by her allure.
Thank you for trusting yourself to say yes and no and for following your heart and mind.

I’m so grateful our connection is one of choice, freedom, love, play, eroticism and innocence. 
And to know that each time we show up for each other we make a conscious choice to show up fully in love.

Thank you for understanding that while these words are shared from my highest desires
I do not always live in this space
That I do get caught in my lower nature of fear, desire, grasping and doubt
And that these are a part of who I am and I walk the path of loving, embracing and integrating all pieces of me even those that are more challenging.
Thank you for trusting when I fall from the temple into the mud that I always climb the mountain to the temple once again. 

Thank you for the ways that you hold up a mirror of love and acceptance when I forget to love myself,
Reminding me of my commitment to love and embrace every piece of me.
Thank you for knowing this is also my commitment to you.

Thank you for allowing me into your heart
To love and appreciate all that you are
I’m honoured and oh so grateful to walk this journey of remembering, sovereignty and togetherness with you.

Embracing the Mush

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

~ Maya Angelou

Don’t rush to get out of the mush sweethearts, it is intentional, it is purposeful, it is divinely timed. No external force tells the caterpillar to hurry up and finish being mush so the butterfly can reveal her beauty – it follows it’s own rhythms and cycle – yes heavily influenced by the external elements and season, but in perfect harmony, not denying it’s own rhythm.

Most of us know a caterpillar becomes a butterfly but we don’t talk so much about that process in the middle – we see the cocoon on the outside where not much is happening, but inside what’s going on? Inside the cocoon and the chrysalis there is a huge amount of activity as the caterpillar is literally becoming a whole new creature. Something that is only possible when the old structure of the caterpillar is broken down and turned into something new.

It’s kind of a gruesome process as the caterpillar literally digests itself. It becomes liquid, or MUSH. It enters the liminal – where the old has been destroyed and the new is yet to be revealed.

Starting to sound familiar to anyone? If you’re in the mush or you’ve been there you know exactly what I’m talking about. The mush in my experience is that journey into the underworld, that place of deep letting go – where there is a process of something dying and falling away – before the new can be revealed. And although we may share snippets of our journey into the darkness with loved ones, we often don’t share the depths of the darkness we journey in. And therefore we don’t always honour and acknowledge the courage and determination it takes to journey through the darkest corners of our psyche when mush is the stage of the cycle we’re in.

The female body experiences a mini mush every month – a moment where the body knows it needs to dissolve and let go. But even this mini mush is denied by the great majority of our collective. A collective that has called menstruation the curse, rags, that time of the month and treated this key part of the feminine cycle of creativity as an annoying little “Visitor of the Month’. It seems logical then that there would be fear and ignorance of the mush. An ignorance that in my opinion stems from a deeply wounded collective conscious that doesn’t value the moments in between. That doesn’t value the subtle aspects of life and evolution. That doesn’t recognise the beauty and potency of the feminine or the liminal – only that which can be seen, touched, explained and embraced as real.

The topic of being in the mush is so pertinent right now as it feels like collectively that’s where we are. As we grieve the loss of life as we know it, the loss of many lives from illness but also the loss of our everyday activities and liberties. I never imagined I would live through a time where the whole world would journey together into the mush – but here we are. And from where I sit it’s heartbreaking to feel the struggle and suffering but I see it also as the most incredible opportunity for humanity to let die the old systems and control dramas we’ve been imprisoned in, to step out of the ways we’ve given our power away and to allow our fullest most expressed selves to birth.

The butterfly to me is the budding awakening of ourselves as consciousness, of knowing ourselves to be so inextricably interconnected and linked to each other and this planet. So I see the mush as a beautiful, brave, potent place to be. But if we’ve received the message when we were young, and throughout our adult life that the only thing that mattered is when you’re achieving, doing, completing, succeeding – then the little voices inside and out of your head right now may be telling you you ‘should’ be doing more, you should be using this moment to launch yourself into success. To create something big and beautiful and inspiring. And this completely undermines and undervalues the in between that we’re in right now.

In a beautiful article about Traversing the Underworld in this time of pandemic the author writes. ‘…deeply encoded in our psyches, we may have the instructions we need for how to be human in the in-between space we’re living in. To find them, we have to know how to reach deeply into our own roots and wrap our fingers around the stories in our souls. We have to learn to speak the language of the mythopoetic; a grammar of symbols and intention, archetypes and intuition and instant knowing, dreams and secrets and great dramas played out over aeons beneath the surface of things.”

And this is where I think it gets tricky – our culture doesn’t really encourage this kind of self exploration or soul enquiry. It isn’t asking us to look inside and remember our greater connection to the whole – it’s asking us to follow the rules, do as we’re told and it’s encouraging fear and separation rather than a deeper considering of the emergent potentials (a whole other rant that needs it’s own blog!).

In Western Australia we’ve been incredibly blessed to have not experienced the immense loss of life and devastation that many other countries have and we’re moving towards a softening of social distancing rules. But to me it feels like we’ve missed half of the story and that we’re yet to fully acknowledge or feel the depth of the loss that has been experienced here and around the globe. To me it feels like we’re a little too quick to want to get out of the mush – yes I get it human nature propels us towards pleasure and away from pain – but when you start to bring consciousness into the game, there’s an invitation to let truth guide not our aversion to pain or thirst for pleasure. And yes I also get that we’re not here to only live in the inner world and self enquiry – that social engagement and economy are a part of the manifest world and they’re hugely important. But to me it becomes a question of balance – with a society so out of balance – geared towards the doing and the outward movement – what if we actually need to do less, and Be more. What if time being mush is what we need in order to restore balance to a system that is deeply broken.

In many ways this is why I teach Yin Yoga in such a ‘Yin’ (receptive, soft, gentle, still, slow) way. I get that it is out of balance because it is so much Yin with so little Yang….but when we live our lives every day in a way that really only values and encourages the movement and the doing – we need these little pockets to remember the beauty and wisdom and absolute necessity of receptivity, listening and slowness.

I don’t expect everyone to understand the value of the mush but I’m writing this for those of you who (probably the same those of you who are called to Yin) who have felt the call to mush, the pull to go deep inside and allow old stories and patterns to fall away, to create the space to hear the deeper knowing of the soul. Please keep trusting your inner knowing. Don’t let anything but your own relationship to soul and source guide you. Don’t allow the fear mongering from inside or out force you to take a single step other than the one that your heart is guiding you in.

Take this time to sit, be still, move with compassion, connect with the heart, connect with your mind – no not the mind that is telling you to do more, be more, hurry up, get there, the other mind – the higher mind – that is focussed and wise and connected to spirit. The one who knows from a place of deep intuition rather than a primal instinct that has been shaped by a past heavily influenced by fear.

And know the time spent in the mush for everyone is going to be different. We all have a nervous system with similar qualities but these delicate systems all have had their own journeys. So we’re not all going to be at the same point at the same time. Keep in mind with anything you read or hear – what each person shares may be the truth for them but the real question is – Is it true for you? For where you are right now in this moment. Take opinions as pointers but digest it and test it within your own deeper knowing.

We have schools to train us how to do pretty much anything you can imagine on this planet. But do we have schools to help us learn how to become the mush that is needed before the butterfly emerges? No, because no-one can know the exact path or process for you. Only you can enter the cocoon – you alone. But when you enter with the knowing you are part of the greater whole, that there is a golden thread of life, of love, of light that weaves it’s way through every part of your being there can be a great sense of trust that the mush is potent and essential. Remember this trust and create the space within yourself for your own knowing to emerge.

I’ve been beautifully ‘unproductive’ in the external world during these weeks, but I can tell you my inner world received orders for the most monumental of renovations….and like all good renovations it has started with an absolute complete demolition of the old. Old relationships, old stories and old control dramas that needed to be released. They’re currently all in the MUSH. I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be leaving the mush, but I’m not lost here, I’m intentionally here in the liminal – in the space of the in between. I’m mindful, I’m present, I’m connecting to love, to light, to the wisdom of my soul. I’m receiving all I need to rebuild a sense of vitality in a body and mind that had been deprived of the love and nurturing it needed. And I’m listening to all of the little synchronicities life provides to help me find my way to where I need to be.

And I know this too has been the case for many of you. Especially those who are highly sensitive, empathic, intuitive and who sense the subtleties of life. If you’re tired after a long journey of trying, don’t rush to leave the mush because others aren’t in the same space you are.

On this Full Moon in Taurus/Scorpio don’t deny the beauty and essential nature of the mud, the mush. But equally do remember the light. Allow the light of the full moon to shine her loving presence into all the dark corners of your psyche that are ready to be revealed. Remember neither dark nor light can exist without the other.

And neither the caterpillar or the butterfly would exist without the mush.

Blessed Mushy Full Moon to you <3

Buttefly Lion Art by: Marcel van Luit

When I was the forrest

When I was the stream, when i was the
forrest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing, when I
was the sky
itself.

No one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
for there was nothing
I could not
love.

It was when I left all we once were that
the agony began, the fear and questions came;
and I wept, I wept. And tears
I had never known
before.

So I returned to the river, I returned to
the mountains. I asked for their hand in marriage again,
I begged – I begged to wed every object
and creature.

And when they accepted,
God was ever present in my arms.
And He did not say,
“Where have you
been?”

For then I knew my soul – every soul –
has always held
Him.
~ Meister Eckhart

The Magic of Cacao and the Highly Sensitive Nervous System

It’s no secret I love cacao. I’ve been immersed in the heart opening practice of ceremonial cacao for 7 years now. But my journey with mama cacao has changed so much over the years and particularly in the last 12 months it’s been heavily influenced by my journey into the world of embracing and stabilising my highly sensitive nervous system.

I write this piece with so much gratitude for everything that cacao has shared with me over the years and the immense amount of wisdom I’ve uncovered within my own body, mind and heart.

And while I know this may not resonate with others, it is my truth and through my work with other highly sensitive women I suspect there are at least a few of you out there that may know exactly what I’m talking about, so here is a little story about my personal journey with mama cacao.

When I first sat on the porch with Keith, (the chocolate shaman) in Guatemala he spoke to us about the work of Empaths and offered guidance on how to embrace this gift without digesting everyone else’s crap everywhere we went. Prior to this point I had absolutely no idea I was sensitive to other people’s stress or emotional experiences….so this was a huge aha moment….that has radically changed the way I live.

But it’s taken a long time for me to truly understand even a snippet of what had been shared with me then. And as my sensitivity became something I was more conscious of I realised I at times feel other people’s experiences viscerally – very much in my body, and in the way my nervous system interacts with the world. And things began making more sense – for the first time I began to realise the physical symptoms I was experiencing (fatigue, vertigo, exhaustion, dizziness, poor digestion) were signs of my highly sensitive nervous system trying to process more than it could digest (literally) and that I was caught in over-stimulation and overwhelm. This opened the door for me to truly begin to see all the aspects of my sensitivity in a far more positive light – and harness the gifts that came with it.

I’ll write more about HSP, empaths, the gifts of sensitivity and taking your power back in another blog but for now let me get back to the topic of Cacao and the Highly Sensitive Person and highly sensitive nervous system.

After cultivating a little (aka a shit ton) more self compassion for my sensitivity I acknowledged my nervous system could no longer handle big doses of anything – not even blissful or positive things including this very beautiful plant medicine that had been my sweet soulful companion for years. It had me begin to question had I been in fact contributing to the overwhelm and sensitivity pushing myself over the edge? And was it time to work with mama cacao in a new way.

And the answer was a resounding yes. I’ve been on a bit of spiritual junkie journey since 2012 trying all sorts of weird and wonderful workshops, courses, plant medicines, meditations, retreats and bodywork in the name of ‘healing’ or ‘enlightenment’. I’ve spent ummmm…..an incredible amount of money on this journey educating myself, healing, cleansing and de-conditioning. And while I know all of those experiences contribute to where I am today on reflection I can see many actually forced me into growth, rather than allowing – and pushed an already very sensitive nervous system into complete overwhelm, shutdown and discombobulation.

So this is where I share that when I first discovered cacao I was numb to pretty much everything, having long ago decided that it was safer to cover up my sensitivity, I didn’t feel very much at all.

When I began travelling my only wish to feel again.

After years of studying the intricacies of our autonomic nervous system I’d now say I lived in a permanent state of overwhelm and my system often defaulted to shutdown, freeze or disassociate. I had perfected the art of not feeling, by leaving my body because I’d long ago decided that all of the feelings that came up were just way too much for me to process and integrate.

Cacao was one of the most beautiful supports I had in the process of learning to feel again. She, along with heart & stillness based yoga and meditation bought my system back online after having been in emotional overwhelm and shutdown for a good chunk of my adult life – I saw her as a gentle hand holding mine. She, and a group of dedicated cacao lovers encouraged me to feel whatever was coming up and to let it be there, to let it be seen and loved. It was the turning point for me. A point of allowing emotions to be part of my world again.

BUT – and this is the purpose of this blog – what I didn’t understand at the time was that having an impeccable sense of Self and knowing how to ground BEFORE I started to heighten my sensitivity would have been a really bloody good idea. Instead I lost myself in transcendental practices and plant medicines that encouraged me to leave my body and empty my mind wreaking havoc with my nervous system and creating trauma that would later need to be unravelled.

For me cacao helped me to feel my heart again, to connect in with my emotional body, to understand that there were many many layers that had been built up around my heart over the years and much that I had suppressed and denied. But without the grounding practices I was unable to stay present or to notice what my system needed and I was a ticking time bomb for adrenal fatigue and PTSD.

Reality is a time came a long long time ago – where the layers around my sensitivity had been peeled back and I was no longer caught in shutdown but instead had flipped over into flight mode – running away if things got too intense. To the point that I travelled for almost 7 years, moving every 3 months – basically avoiding any emotional experience that became too intense. And yet also chasing the next ‘peak experience’ that for a moment would feel amazing but very quickly would leave me feeing overwhelmed and ungrounded. I was caught in a loop of going from overwhelmed and shutdown to feeling better and engaging more in life – to passing through my window of tolerance and straight back into the other side of overwhelm – overstimulated and with my sympathetic nervous system activated.

So while I adore cacao and the magic she helped me to uncover within myself – it’s been my story that drinking large quantities of a plant medicine that increased my sensitivity was not necessarily the wisest nor the most compassionate thing I could have done once I had reconnected to my sensitivity.

When I lived in Guatemala we would drink 40-50grams of cacao in a ceremony and I thought that was OK for me then, but despite the warnings of my teacher to always listen to what our body was telling us – I stopped listening and just kept drinking for many years to follow. Desperate to find my truth, to leave behind my suffering and to help others to do the same, I drank without knowing my nervous system was already having a lot of trouble digesting life, without understanding that what I needed was a little less sensitivity not more. I needed to take my foot off the accelerator for a moment but instead I had one foot on the accelerator while the other was also on the brake – hello burnout, adrenal fatigue and digestive destruction!

And I believe this became more of an issue when I was no longer living in an energetic vortex surrounded by pristine nature that supported my grounding and clearing. When I started living in suburbia in a modern western environment where the collective consciousness was a little different. Bombarded by stimulation 24/7 with sounds and lights, and electro magnetic fields (even when we think we’re being still our systems are being bombarded with EMF’s) – I had a mind fragmented by trauma, and a nervous system stuck in hypervigilance struggling to digest and integrate what I was experiencing.

Thankfully, after a pretty good dose of my own suffering and some wise tips from feminine teachers who guided me on my path to Embodiment I began to prioritise grounding and not engaging too deeply in the emotional chaos of the world when I was already struggling to digest.

And the amount of cacao I drank varied hugely – there would be weeks and months where I wouldn’t drink at all. And at other times I would drink a teaspoon daily with the occasional 2-3 tablespoons at other times, but always experimenting and listening to what my system needs in THIS moment. Not what someone else has told me – or what works for them, or even what has worked for me in the past….but RIGHT NOW what do I need.

With cacao ceremonies becoming more and more popular & accessible in the west I wanted to share my story especially for those with highly sensitive nervous systems, trauma or PTSD so you can be encouraged to listen to your needs….it may be your path that less is more.

Mama cacao continues to play a key part in my evolution, growth, connection to joy and acceptance of my sensitivity as a super power. And I believe she is a beautiful tool for awakening the heart. But the particular way I work with her now is as a companion – I don’t give my power over to her – I know she is simply helping me uncover pieces of God (myself) that I had forgotten. And I play with her in much smaller doses to support integration of the love, innocence, joy & playfullness she helps me to remember. I affectionately call her my antidepressant and I mostly turn to her when I feel my heart close or am needing extra support to connect to the magic and sweetness of this life. And when the world is struggling with a pandemic I’m incredibly grateful for the lightness she helps me to find within myself.

I also still wholeheartedly believe she is a gift for others journeying into sensitivity, empowerment and whole hearted living. However I understand that for the Highly Sensitive nervous system grounding into the physical body and learning how to stay with our experience even in the most intense of emotional experiences is the most important tool we will ever learn. And that sometimes the most compassionate thing you will ever do for yourself is to ease off the accelerator for a moment while you digest all that you’ve already consumed.

If you tend to experience emotions very intensely and find yourself often caught in a whirlwind of emotions, yours or others, play a little with practices that help you digest the experiences before you turn up the volume on your emotional world. Ground into your body and experiment with mindfulness or simple concentration practices to restore balance to your nervous system and trust your body knows what it needs in this moment.

On this day where people all over the world are connecting to chocolate in their own special way, take a moment to offer your gratitude for all that the spirit of cacao has offered to you and most importantly to the gift of your wise beautiful heart.

“I believe the magic of the most beautiful heart centred teachers – particularly plant medicines is to reveal to you the gifts that already lay inside of you. To help you appreciate the subtleties of this beautiful life.” 

Lani

Reach out if you’d like any support or guidance on your journey with cacao or high sensitivity.

Much chocolatey love

Chasing Cars…or was that Joy?

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life

~ Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol

Today I found myself thinking about all the crazy ways I’ve tried to chase Joy, in people, places & experiences – and this song by Snow Patrol came to mind…as I wondered chasing joy or chasing cars…is there really any difference? We’ve heard it often enough that one of the greatest causes of human suffering is our seeking of pleasure and aversion to pain, or joy and sorrow. This endless searching, grasping or aversion to things outside of ourself we believe will or won’t make us happy, whole, complete is a guaranteed path of suffering as we try to hold onto the impermanent.

In the busyiness of searching for Joy I overlooked the reality of the joy right here in beingness, that has never been about anything outside of myself. With a shift away from a corporate career and home ownership I celebrated no longer chasing after material possessions but it seems despite many warnings by teachers I accidentally slipped into the trap of substituting consumerism for spiritual materialism. Acquiring more and more experiences, spiritual teachings and blissful states but not really fully embodying the wisdom. I still chased after the bliss states – and foolishly labelled this as Joy. Along with the mislabelling of Joy was that anything other than those blissful states, particularly sadness, anger & confusion were relegated to the naughty corner where I demanded they be quiet and stop.

As I listened again to the Chasing Cars lyrics, what I heard was not a fairytale romance, but the immense longing that I believe we all have, not for one person – but to know intimately Love, Grace or the Beloved. To lay down and merge completely with Love. What has become so apparent to me is I don’t want to chase anything, I don’t want to try anymore.

” Do or do not, There is no Try”.

~ Master Yoda

I want to BE. What I sometimes forget is joy in it’s most simplest – the joy of being. Laying down the swords of inner & outer battle and letting go all the thoughts and ideas about what needs to happen or what needs to be done in order to belong. Instead letting energy be funnelled towards Allowing, Embracing, Accepting life exactly as it is and moving in harmony with life.

Does it mean I want to physically lay down and never move or do anything ever again – not at all – I love to do many things with many amazing people, but I’m attuning to the fact that sometimes laying down physically is in fact what feels aligned and I’m trusting that…and learning to go with it. REST is the opposite of contraction – and to me it feels that when we’re resting in our bodies it’s easier to drop into the Heart. It’s also an amazing practice to share with others, when was the last time you lay down with someone you adore and just shared that moment of laying there together in the sheer joy of just Being?

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Trusting there will come a time where laying down is no longer what the moment calls for – and there will be movement – action. Can we also begin to feel the stillness in the movement, to allow the movement to come from a place of emptiness. Free of our projections, free of the ‘me’ identity we’ve worked so hard to build up, free from the should’s and should nots. And full of the – this feels authentic and aligned and REAL and is for not just my own personal benefit, but for the benefit of all beings.

“We have a fear that if we give up our person then there is nothing left to have a life. When you give up the person there is nothing left to have a life, there is just life. You are life.”

~ Mooji

Real, raw and authentic – this seems to be my mission in life right now – what brings me alive – and the reality is this doesn’t always look like the bright chirpy version of Joy I’d hoped the journey of awakening the Heart would be. In fact real, raw & authentic means feeling everything that comes along – and it is sometimes messy. But learning to be with it all and not get lost in it has been the path of Joy.

Joy gets hijacked when I get caught up in ideas that I must do more, that I am not doing enough, or lately the most ridiculous of ever – who I’m Being is not Being enough. Or when I feel this building pressure to ‘know’ my purpose here in this crazy life. All of these things are grasping, and trying to understand with the mind – and they’re exhausting – they pull all of my energy into a black hole and away from Joy.

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What if my purpose is only to Love. How exactly would I explain that to anyone. What exactly does that look like? What tangible outcomes can you see from loving? How do I justify that all day every day that’s what I feel I am here to ‘do’ and to BE.

As I typed I thought woah Lani you’re sounding a little crazy here – are you sure you want to share this with the virtual world?! And this is when I realised another old inner battle has come to an end – the battle between my belief that LOVE is my purpose and the fear that LOVE is not enough. My unconscious fear has been part of the barrier I’d built up against love.

But I can see this fear that love is not enough, isn’t real for me right now. It’s old and outdated. And as I become my own inner authority, what feels true, real, authentic, aligned – Love IS my purpose. If I am loving I am joyful and if I am joyful I am loving, the two cannot be separated.

When I feel into why I share what I share, why I offer yoga classes, meditations & cacao ceremonies the very simple truth has nothing to do with any special teachings. I simply love to love because love loves to love. My main intention with every sharing is to provide a space where people feel deeply seen, heard, received and nurtured and a space where they feel safe enough to really reveal the fullness of who they are.

So all this time I’d been looking for Joy to look a certain way, you know bubbly and hyper and maybe even a little rambunctious at times. But in my grasping at this idea what I’d missed was this beautiful sweetness that rests in the Heart when I let go, when I’m resting in Being, when I’m not needing life to be anything other than the way it is in this moment. Even if that moment comes complete with anger, grief or confusion, when these are embraced & allowed to be seen and expressed – Joy is also revealed. The Joy of Being.

The irony is that as soon as I allow Joy to look however she wants to look – the bubbly, hyper and a little rambunctious often does make her appearance, but far more than that Joy is not an emotion – it is an inner attitude. An attitude to be cultivated in Love alone. It’s not something I can describe with words but if you’re reading this and we have a chance to sit together I hope we can share a moment of this Joy as we meet in the Heart.

“Love loves to love, it isn’t personal’

~ Mooji

In love, gratitude and service <3