Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Guest Blogger - Janice Lynne Lundy

(Photo courtesy of Janice Lynne Lundy)

Today's forecast for St. Peters: Mostly cloudy, high 71, chance of thunderstorms this evening.

I'm pleased to have Janice Lynne Lundy LIVE as my guest blogger today. She is an inspirational speaker, interfaith spiritual director, syndicated magazine columnist, and the author of four self-help/spiritual growth books for women. Her newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, has just been released by Sorin Books.

Jan is the author of three previously published personal and spiritual growth books: Coming Home to Ourselves: A Woman’s Journey to Wholeness; Awakening the Spirit Within; and Perfect Love: How to Find Yours and Make It Last Forever (co-authored with her husband, Brad Lundy). The mother of three, stepmother of four, and grandmother of three more, Jan resides on the peaceful shoreline of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan with her husband, Brad, her creative partner and soul’s companion.

Today at Donna's Book Pub, Jan shares with us her thoughts on Living with a Wide-Open Heart. She is also available for questions or comments.

If you have any questions or comments for Jan, please leave a note here and she will answer it.

Living with a Wide-Open Heart
Janice Lynne Lundy

How do we keep our heart open to someone, especially when everything inside of us says to run, shut down, or close ourselves off to them? How do we stay—remaining openhearted, loving, and kind?

Living this Transformational Truth, “I Open My Heart to Others and Celebrate Our Oneness,” can be difficult. So much so, that I placed it at as the twelfth and final truth in Your Truest Self. It is also the most important Truth if we are to live as the glorious women we are meant to be.

Living an in openhearted manner depends upon spaciousness—our ability to be open—open to yourself, to life as it presents itself in the moment, and to those around you. Spaciousness is about living with a wide-open heart, welcoming and loving yourself as you are, even when you make mistakes. Welcoming and loving others as they are, warts and all. Spaciousness is the placeholder for love.

Our journey to be more loving toward others begins with being more loving toward ourselves. Other-love must begin with self-love. How is it possible to demonstrate kindness, compassion, to another when we continue to be unkind to ourselves? It’s not.

There are many ways that we are unkind to ourselves every single day. We push ourselves beyond all reasonable limits. We have very high expectations, often holding ourselves to impossible standards of perfection. We overwork and do not get enough rest. We believe we must meet everyone else’s needs first before tending to our own. We feel responsible for the happiness of others. Do these scenarios play out in your life?

If so, it may be time to befriend yourself.

Befriending requires an attitude of lovingkindness toward one’s self, personified by acts of lovingkindness. We begin to live more gently, letting go of pressure to do and be more. Lovingkindness invites us let go of anything that causes stress, frustration, or anger. Anything that keeps us disconnected from our spirit and its core qualities of inner peace, love, and joy. Anything that prevents us from living as our truest self—a woman who is naturally peaceful and compassionate.

And as we do, our heart flutters open. It softens, becomes more pliable. We start to feel better about who we, about our life. Magically, we begin to see those around us in a new way, too—through the eyes of compassion. We become aware that they are struggling, as are we. With a slight shift in perception, we can see how all of us are struggling to cope with life as it is.

We begin to open our hearts to one another through greater awareness of this universal struggle to be human. Voila! Compassion is born. Spaciousness reigns, and there is room in our hearts for everyone.

In this similar cause, we are kindred spirits. We are One.

©2009, Janice Lynne Lundy

You can also learn more about Jan at her website: http://www.awakenedliving.com/ While you're there, register for her newsletter and she'll send you her new, inspirational 90-page e-book, The Awakened Woman's Guide to Life. You can also visit her blog: http://www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com/ She enjoys hearing from her readers and responds personally. Email: jan@awakenedliving.com.

17 comments:

  1. Hi Janice. Sounds like great advice.

    Do you think the current economic situation has affected the quest for spirituality today?

    Thanks,
    Tricia Grissom

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  2. Hi Jan and (Donna):

    Thank you for these beautiful words on Donna's site today. I think this is something many of us struggle with day to day. How do you make it through these day to day struggles to keep an open heart?

    Margo Dill

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  3. Good morning, all! Donna, thanks again for hosting me today. It's a beautiful morning here in Michigan. We are having an unusual mid-winter thaw—nearly 50 degrees today—so I am loving the sunshine and a balmy state of mind. On to your questions.

    Tricia,
    I'd like to think that in challenging times like this many of us will turn inward and re-connect with our truest selves. For it is true, in times of life crisis, we may find ourselves reassessing how we are living. Yet, so many people are caught in fear. The "broadcasts" of the ego are so loud right now (worry, be afraid, hold on tight...) that it is more difficult than ever to hear the whisperings of our spirit. Gentle nudges which invite us to more peaceful places inside. Stop, rest, breathe, trust, all will be well.

    I found it ironic that my book came out just as we began to really feel the worst economic decline in decades. In that, it is a timely release. The Truths in the book, the practices within the pages, especially the Pauseful Pauses, can truly lift the reader upward, propel her onward, release her from fear. It is empowering, yet lovingly gentle, material. And VERY needed right now...

    Margo,
    I believe that the more we can focus on our daily spiritual practices the better-- whatever those practices are for each of us. Walking, yoga, meditation, prayer, breathwork, inspirational reading, creativity, and more. These activities root us in our spirit (and the greater Spirit). Their results are inner peace, confidence, courage, and especially openheartedness. If we would spend more time in this way, when challenges with other people come along, we are more centered and grounded, less likely to fly off the handle in frustration or anger.

    The Peaceful Pauses I mentioned earlier are powerful meditative/reflective practices women of all spiritualities can engage. They are focused on different aspects of our truest self. There are several about keeping our heart open to one another. It is important to remember that these are spiritual practices, which means we have to actually PRACTICE them. :-) In time we will have embodied them and the we just ARE more loving and peaceful.

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  4. Hi Jan,

    Your comments about practice really resonated with me...I have three almost-grown children who are pushing my practice buttons daily!

    For example, I want to say, "Oh, that job/boyfriend/choice is fine." But every fiber of my being is shouting "Big Mistake!" Actually, I might be saying that out loud. :-)

    So, how do you balance openness and acceptance with that drive to guide/protect grown children?

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  5. The principle of loving yourself is a toughie. We seem so bent on beating ourselves up for not being the picture perfect image of parent, wife, employee, friend...the list goes on and on. How can we not be so hard on ourselves?

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  6. Hi Cathy,
    This is a wonderful question! As the mother of 3 grown children, now 18-26, I completely resonate. For me, it has been about letting go with love. I believe we never stop wanting to protect and care for our children (nor should we). But two things come into play here, both of which are sourced in the "bigger picture."

    First, each person does have to walk their own life journey. You and I did. The life choices we made created who we are today. Mistakes and all. Bruises and all. Our children have to do the same. On one level, who are we to deny them this journey by making choices for them? Everything I have gone through—especially the hurt and pain—has formed the woman I am today. In fact, it has been those difficult times that served as the real compost of my life—the fertile soil with which I have been able to "rebirth" myself.

    Second, it is very important that we practice what we preach--specifically, that we know how to get quiet, access our inner wisdom, and engage in active discernment (about life choices). As well as we are able to demonstrate this process to our kids, by example, they can learn to do so as well. It is vital in parenting that we be our own best example. Children don't fall far from their parent's tree, if you know what I mean. They will do as we do. Good luck!

    The 12 Transformational Truths in my book help with all of this. I think I am going to cut and paste the Truths here on a post so you all can take a look at them. Especially Truths# 3, 4, and 8, in answer to your question Cathy. :-) Stay tuned!

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  7. Hi again!

    For our discussion purposes. Here are the 12 Transformational Truths for embodying Your Truest Self. There are guidelines, examples from the lives of prominent women, reflection questions, and Peaceful Pauses for putting them into practice. :-) Blessings, Jan

    Twelve Transformational Truths

    I Am Free to Live a Spiritual Life of My Own Making
    I Trust My Body's Divine Connection
    I Choose Thoughts and Feelings That Honor My Sacred Self
    I Engage in Daily Spiritual Practices That Nurture My Spirit
    I Cultivate Compassion for Myself
    I Experience the Divine in Everything and Everyone
    I Know Divine Assistance is Available to Me at All Times
    I Acknowledge that Difficult Times Bring Healing and Deeper Wisdom
    I Can Create My Life Anew Each Day
    I Trust the Divine Timing of My Own Unfolding
    I Courageously Live and Speak My Truths
    I Open My Heart and Celebrate Our Oneness

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  8. Dear K9Friend,
    The dilemma you pose may be the most challenging one of all. Caring for ourselves in whole, healthy ways without burning ourselves out, struggling with deservedness, and more. The journey into your Truest Self is really learning how—once and for all—to be kinder, more gentle to ourselves. This has been the hallmark of my own journey. In fact, this is where my writing career began with journaling my way back to wholeness after losing myself (and my health) along the way. Truth # 5 is crucial! (My first book, Coming Home to Ourselves, was about this.)

    As women, we are born nurturers. We are physiologically, psychologically, emotionally, culturally, and sometimes spiritually conditioned to care for everyone else but ourselves. We have devalued ourselves and been devalued by others. We must learn to find the balance between caring for others and caring for ourselves. Especially taking baby steps toward releasing notions of perfection. I once heard that "perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order," and I now know that to be true.

    There is a great guide to moving away from perfectionistic tendencies in my free e-book, The Awakened Woman's Guide to Life. You can access one on my website: www.awakenedliving.com. It can really help. We need to remember that this is a lifelong journey to recover our whole and "holy" self--our sacred self--a woman who is naturally calm, clear, and wise. The first step is just to begin...

    Blessings to everyone who has posted here today. Hooray! You are on the journey!

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  9. Hi Jan and Everyone,

    What thoughtful and considerate questions--and answers.

    It occurred to me that some visitors might have problems posting questions or comments. If that's the case, please e-mail me at dvolkenannt@charter.net and I will post your comment or question so Jan can answer you.

    I have a question of my own:

    How can a person of faith and deep spirituality who prays and meditates regularly live with a wide-open heart after suffering a profound loss?
    Thanks,
    Donna

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  10. Hi Donna,
    Another wonderful question. Allow me to offer this perspective:

    A quote from the Persian poet Rumi:
    The wailing of broken hearts is the doorway to God.

    Once I understood the meaning of this profound concept, I learned that I could surrender all of my pain and hurt and see it as grace. Our injury can actually take us deeper into "the heart and mind of God"--if we allow it to.

    We all have a "litany of sorrows" as I call it. A long list of hurts, betrayals, sufferings, and losses. If we allow them to, these hurts break our heart open, causing vulnerability, new softness, receptivity, reshaping, ultimately healing. This is the nature of the spiritual journey. To allow what comes to serve as opportunity for growth. This is Truth # 8. "I acknowledge that difficult times bring healing and deeper wisdom." They do!

    But if we allow our ego-self (the false self) to predominate, we will fold up, close our hearts, hold grudges and anger. This is not living as our truest self. Thus, the task is to stay open despite hurt and trust that the path we are walking will take us into an even deeper experience of love.

    This is the path of the mystic. All the great ones, the saints, sages, and mystics of old have walked this path. Despite suffering, they kept their hearts open and grew into amazing human beings as a result. They invite us to do the same.

    As I wrote earlier, keeping our heart open is a spiritual practice. There are actual techniques (meditations, visualizations, prayer forms) that help us do this. Along with grace, of course....:-)

    Thanks for asking. Wow! What great soulful questions. :-)

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  11. With your permission I am going to take those 12 Transformation Truths and use it as my Screen Saver!!! I love them. They are better than any postive thinking mantra I've ever heard. As for the openness, I believe in it and I am sure you hear a lot of "but what about safety?" That I would like to hear.
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    http://bronzeWord.wordpress.com

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  12. I really needed this today. Thank you.

    I'm getting on here kind of late (work) which kind of leads me to my question...

    I have felt lost (for several years) with regards to my life path. I am a young mother and wife with a desire to be a writer and a teacher and a ???. Pursuing all of these things makes me tired.

    How do I know which path to go down? How do I choose the path that serves both myself and others? How do I fulfill my potential?

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  13. Hi Joanne,
    Yes, use them with my permission. Absolutely! I know you have a copy of my book. Did you receive a bookmark? It is lovely and has the Truths on them. If you want one, let me know. :-)

    As for safety, that is simply a message of the ego (which you will read about in Chapter 1). The primary message of the ego is sourced in keeping us safe, small, fearful, self-protected, supposedly secure. But that is an illusion. That security is false and keeps us closed off from others. It keeps us separated from others. Our true nature-our essence- is openheartedness, hospitality, generosity, resulting ultimately in deep connection and Oneness. A journey out of fear into love to be sure...Step by step...

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  14. Donna,
    I wanted to thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit your blog and converse with your guests about living with an open heart. It has been a pleasure. I will check back here on occasion to see if additional questions have been posted.

    For further assistance, I hope readers will visit my website and blog. Thanks, and blessings upon your journey!

    Jan Lundy
    www.awakenedliving.com

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  15. Thank you, Donna, for this wonderful post and opportunity to ask Janice questions. I just found your site this morning (through Premium Green). I hope it is not too late to join the discussion.

    Janice, I am blessed today by your comments on befriending ourselves. God keeps speaking to me about making self-care a priority, not the last thing on my list. I have a tendency to push through physical and emotional trials without paying attention to my true needs. Do you have other specific advice on befriending ourselves?

    Thanks,
    Tanya
    DazzlingWings.blogspot.com

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  16. Jan tried to post her answer for Camille and was unable to do so, so she e-mailed it to me. Here's her response:

    Hi Camille-
    My sense is that what might be beneficial is a period of discernment. This means a period whereby we stop doing much of anything so that we can get quiet, reassess, and listen to our inner wisdom. Truths # 1 and 2 in my book can help. In reality, we may be just too busy "doing," and doing what we think we "should" be doing, enough so, that our inner passions cannot find space to bubble to the surface.

    Do you give yourself permission to just "be"? To get quiet? Do you allow yourself periods of silence? Do you journal? Discernment is a period of deep listening and reflecting that can take weeks, months, even years. It is not something that can be rushed. My sense is that if you are feeling what you are feeling, it might be time to slow down and give yourself over to discernment.

    Stop working at life. Slow down. Enjoy. Be enough. These sound simple, but for most of us, they are actually very difficult. It we could really engage in this way, our passions (purpose) would be shown to us. We'll get back in touch with what makes our heart sing! I believe that. Good luck! Jan

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  17. This comment is from Jan for Tanya.

    Hi Tanya-
    Befriending ourselves is a very long journey into being "enough." It is a journey into loving ourselves enough to take good care of ourselves, letting go of images of perfection, serving others to please or be liked, and more.

    It begins with giving ourselves permission to take good care of ourselves. Granting permission is tough, because we might perceive permission as being self-centered or selfish. I prefer to call it self-aware. That sounds like where you might be right now. A new awareness.

    Begin with "baby steps." This is the program I outlined in my book, Coming Home to Ourselves. This book is about befriending yourself in as little as 15 min. a day--5 minutes for your body, 5 for mind, 5 for spirit. There are a variety of ways to nurture each of these parts of ourself, and I present those in the book.

    In time, we expand those blocks of time. As we naturally begin to feel better, we let go of notions of selfishness and guilt. We know the plan is working. And those around us might be feeling better too because we are not so crabby, exhausted or burned out. It is important to fill our own wells first. That way we can give generously from the overflow.

    It truly is about learning to care for ourselves as much as we care for others. Self-love sourced in self-care is not a bad thing. Self-love brings greater other-love...and compassion.

    Blessings on your journey! Jan

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