Conscious Inklings Blog. IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INK-SPIRATION. / being-present
The Art of Balance
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of balance. It’s one of those things that we often take for granted, like our health, but once we’re struggling to maintain it, its value becomes abundantly clear. Losing your balance physically can be an uncomfortable and even scary experience. One moment you might be standing with your feet planted firmly on the ground, but then the surface beneath you shifts, and your body must immediately respond in order to regain stability. Luckily, our bodies are built with systems that work automatically to maintain physical equilibrium. We don’t have to think about how to adjust when we feel ourselves becoming unsteady; our limbs simply move into place to attain balance once again. But, what happens when the loss of balance occurs on an emotional or spiritual level?
We can lose our emotional balance in a number of ways. Unexpected life events sometimes leave us feeling as if the ground beneath our feet has shifted or we dedicate too much of our time or energy to only one aspect of our lives. Over time, too much or not enough work, play, sleep, or food eventually take its toll on our wellbeing. Addictions, emotional struggles, and unfair expectations lead us to push the boundaries of what is healthy for ourselves, and we restrict, over-indulge, pressure, or neglect ourselves until we feel completely disconnected from our own centers. We suddenly find ourselves living lifestyles that aren’t sustainable, but how do we stop? How do we find the balance that we lost?
Any yogi can tell you that balance is a skill that must be practiced and honed. It is not a static state that will necessarily persist once attained, but requires constant maintenance. You might find your balance, then start to lose it, recalibrate, and find balance again only to feel it slip once more. While our physical response to losing balance is automatic, it is still an ability that can be refined and the same is true of our ability to maintain emotional balance. It is through the practice of staying present in each moment and staying connected to our inner truths that we build a deeper awareness of the unique set of factors that lead to a strong spiritual foundation in each of our lives. As we becomes more tuned in to our emotional states, we see more clearly the signs that let us know when we have pushed ourselves too far or have neglected something that is vital to our sense of wellbeing, and we give ourselves the opportunity to become experts in the never-ending art of creating balance.
Want to stay present, tuned in, and balanced in your every day life? Click HERE and see which message is speaking to you today.
The Secret to Life
This is certainly not to say that their lives are perfect by any means, but that in the midst of even their most difficult times, they know that the moment will eventually pass, and they focus on looking for something positive in every moment, every interaction, every life experience that comes their way. They make it their mission to find joy, beauty, and love in everything around them.
So this is the part where I remind you that the title of this article is “The secret to life” not “ I have the secret to life”, because I certainly haven’t figured this one out, yet. Still, I have been very observant of those around me who seem to have the hang of it. I notice the ways that they breathe into the difficult moments, let go of the things that do not serve them, and move towards the experiences that make them feel blissfully alive, and I take very good notes. (Mostly, mentally though because it might creep my friends out a bit if I was following them around with a notepad and pen.)
I pay close attention as they handle the situations that arise in their own lives with a sense of acceptance and faith, compassion for themselves and others, and a joy that is not based in anything more than the simple joy of being alive and present for the moment at hand. I watch as they approach their experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to laugh at life’s ironies and at themselves. I watch and I remind myself that the secret to life is not a magic bullet that rushes in, but is, in fact, a practice. It is a conscious choice to set positive intentions for yourself and others every day. It involves a constant dedication to creating a life that is rich with positivity and love, and even though it may not make all of life’s difficulties disappear, it most certainly creates a new perspective in which every experience can be embraced as part of the simultaneously intricate and beautifully simple experience of a life well-lived.
Set positive intentions for yourself daily with Conscious Ink temporary tattoos. Our tattoos were designed to help you find joy, beauty, and love in every moment and are available in The Conscious Ink Store
Unlocking the Door to Forgiveness
I wanted to argue with her, to defend myself, and to tell her that you can’t just decide to forgive someone. I wanted to say that you have to truly feel forgiveness before you can bestow it upon someone else, and as much sometimes I wish I could, I can’t choose what to feel. Clearly, her comment had struck a nerve, and in my experience, that typically means that someone has shone a light on a truth that is difficult to face.
Since our conversation, I noticed that messages about forgiveness were popping up all around me, and once again, I knew that the universe was trying to show me the places inside of myself where I still had room to grow. If I am going to be really honest, I have not been very good at forgiving people. I have struggled with holding on to hurt and anger, and at points, have held grudges for very long periods of time.
I used to think of forgiveness as something that we do for someone else, to release another person from their guilt, but in recent years, I have had a new experience of forgiveness. I have had moments in which, quite spontaneously, I could feel myself releasing the hurt and anger that I had held onto from old, broken relationships. These moments left me humbled as I felt the heavy burden of carrying all of that negative energy lift, and this new sense of lightness led me to the realization that forgiveness is much more about the individual who is giving forgiveness than the one who is receiving it.
The actions of others that tend to hurt and anger us the most are usually the ones that reflect the parts of ourselves with which we struggle most intensely. The things that are the hardest to forgive are often the things that hit closest to home, the things that we too feel guilt around. Just like you have to truly love yourself before you can love another, you must also forgive yourself before you can forgive others, and the key that unlocks the door to forgiveness is compassion.
Jack Kornfield says that, “forgiveness simply means never putting another person out of your heart.” As we develop a deep sense of compassion for ourselves, we can extend that love and understanding to include those around us. While it may not be possible to simply choose to feel forgiveness toward someone, we can start with trying to understand that person. Even the tiniest spark of empathy can be fed and tended to until it builds into the full flame of compassion that allows us to release hurt and pain and to let go The temporary tattoos in the Conscious Ink Store were designed to promote personal growth and inspire people to live the most authentic, blissful lives they can imagine.
I AM: decisions and declarations
Everyday we claim our titles, our choices, our paths. Everyday we make 35,000 decisions -- choices that can seem as inconsequential as we choose to add an extra slice of tomato to our sandwiches or how we tie our shoelaces. But among those many decisions, those big and small choices, we also decide WHO AM I.
We choose to be compassionate or judgmental.
We choose to cling tight or surrender.
We choose to be kind or be cold.
These are choices we make as we drive down the street, see our coworkers in the hall, greet our families at the door or kiss our kids (or fur babies) goodnight. Our thoughts and actions shape who we are and who we are becoming. It is by living consciously, by intentionally choosing those thoughts and actions do we become radically empowered in creating the trajectory and momentum of our lives.
Conscious Ink was created to empower the world to own their truth. The manifestation tattoos are a simple tool of awareness and empowerment to serve our daily reawakening and our daily reminder to choose wisely.
How can you be GRACE today?
How can you be INSPIRATION today?
How can you be HOPE today?
How can you be HEALED today?
How can you be POWERFUL today?
First, you must look in the mirror and claim it.
Decide it. Declare it.
Look into your eyes and see the truth. Be witness to your great, glorious, sometimes messy, always evolving I AM.
We are honored to be choosing, growing, claiming, evolving with you.
Behind the Ink: Be Present
Shona Marie believes in the power and potency of words. She lives them. Breathes them. As the CEO of a copywriting boutique, her business is to know how to yank and tease words together to make them entice a reader or buyer.
Shona Marie has a copywriting team from all over the country. She trains them and leads them, but first, she wants to support them and make them feel seen and supported. Before diving into a team project, Shona asks her writers to pick a word, a mantra or a phrase, that deeply resonates with them at that moment.
That’s where Conscious Ink tattoos come in. The team gets to pick their tattoo and then can wear it as a reminder and beautiful adornment as they set to spin words into stories.
“A permanent tattoo doesn’t capture the fluidity and evolution of our individual experience. That’s why I love these temporary tattoos,” says Shona. “ A mantra or word or phrase that may have deep resonance today, may be something completely different a week from now, or a year from now. The key is to be present to our experience in the now and honor it. When we do, our power emerges.”
To be present requires honesty.
To be present requires us to get still and listen.
The beauty of Conscious Ink Manifestation tattoos is that they require us to lean back and reflect on…
And as we do, we get present and every time our eyes skim the tattoos on our skin, we are reminded that what we need is right here.
Behind the Ink: “I can begin again…”
“It looked like a death sentence,” says Collins King about the moment she got up at 3am to reflect on her cancer diagnosis. But fast forward nearly a decade and now she is celebrating 7 years cancer-free! “I'll be 7 years out in November 2017 for Triple Negative Breast can-sur. I don't even spell it out and give it merit.“
But after chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, at 53, Collins started having body issues. Then Collins saw Conscious Ink tattoos pop up in her Facebook newsfeed. Collins had decided to start a workout regiment. She wanted something positive on her skin that was visible to keep her on track, keep her positive and so she began wearing a Manifestation Tattoo on her right wrist every day before a workout.
These were the words that she wore to remind her of her own strength. “Every time I look down at that tattoo, I am reminded that I can begin again.”
Collins can’t have tattoos (needles) in her arm and these tattoos allowed her the beauty and purpose of a tattoo without the actual ink, needles or permanence.
“I love wearing them and when my friends ask, ‘did you get ink?’ I say ‘temporary on the skin, indelible on the soul’ to them.”
In the end, it comes down to the words we choose for ourselves.
Collins says that if she could leave a single message to the world, it would be:
“Life is a Journey, not a destination. Go with God. Oh,and of course cancer sucks!”
Have you struggled with an illness? How did you overcome it? What mantra would you claim (or have you claimed) for strength for the journey?
Share your story of healing with our Conscious Ink family. Our collective stories are powerful when we allow them to rise.
Gratitude is a tricky thing. It’s not necessarily something you can create or just conjure up out of nowhere. Doing something expecting gratitude rarely evokes the desired response and I’m sure that many of us have had the experience of struggling to find something to appreciate in a given moment. As a child and young adult, I often thought of gratitude as something that you express for the sake of someone else; I thought the whole point of expressing gratitude was to make someone else feel good or to be polite. I’ve realized, however, that, while it definitely feels good to know that you’re appreciated, the experience of really connecting with how much you value, appreciate, and are truly thankful for something in your life is an incredibly enriching experience on a personal level.
Gratitude has the capacity to inspire us to be more generous, to give us a new perspective on the world around us, and even to heal us. One of the beautiful things about gratitude is that there is an infinite number of things that can elicit it. We can feel gratitude for the people in our lives that have supported and guided us. We can feel appreciation for our health and for the luxuries that are so easily taken for granted every day: the food that nourishes us, the comforts of our homes, and the opportunities that we have been blessed with in our lives. Even simple things, like a smile from a stranger, a beautiful day, or the experience of feeling seen, acknowledged, or understood can fill us with so much gratitude.
Of course, there are times when it can be difficult to connect with that sense of thankfulness. When we find ourselves in circumstances that trigger fear, anger, or pain, it can often feel like there isn’t enough room for gratitude as well. Even in these moments though, if we can take a step back and just breathe into the difficult part of the situation, we can see that these experiences can be full of gifts as well. They provide us with the opportunity to grow, to learn, and to test and stretch the limits of what we believe we are capable of. It is often the very experience of struggle that helps us develop a greater capacity for humility and compassion. It is in these moments that we have the chance to fully explore what it means to be a human being with the myriad of sensations, emotions, and experiences that come along with it, and what can any one of us be more grateful for than that?
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**Lots of GRATITUDE to Suzanne Campbell for the photos featured in this article**
Life is This Moment Now.
Life is this moment now. In this instance, I get in my car and drive. One freeway to the next, along the ocean, and I can feel the mountain calling me, inviting me in. I am carrying the burdens of a modern life. My body is tense, my mind races, and I am restless, agitated. I go to the mountain, because like a mother, she is soothing, unconditionally loving. She is always there, ready to accept me with open arms, and as soon as I am near, I can already feel my body relaxing, my thoughts slowing down.
I take the path I usually take but I start from the opposite end and the change in direction makes everything new. The same trees, rocks, and grooves in the trail that I have always noticed look completely different and I am reminded of how the smallest shift can completely change my perspective. The mountain is my teacher, and even though I have walked these trails a million times, there is always something new to learn. I learn my strengths and weaknesses. I learn what I am capable of. I learn the truths that emanate from every living thing around me.
There is no past, no future. Life is this moment now. One foot in front of the other, just breathe, enjoy the scenery, let the light nourish me, and let the silence unveil the knowledge that I carry deep inside me; I live in a generous universe. I have everything I need right here. All supports me. I am loved. I am enough. I am more than enough. I am part of this magnificent creation.
As I walk and run along the paths, I can feel that I am connected to everything around me. I make it to the top, but it is not a finish line. There are many hills and valleys along the way and every part of the journey has something to offer me if I am open and willing to receive the gifts that are present in every moment. Blue dragonflies and grey brown lizards dance and scamper around me, and all is well in my world. I let go of the last drops of negative energy. I let them seep right out of my pores and I feel lighter, freer. I am at peace, full of joy. Every cell in body is in perfect order.
The temporary tattoos featured in this article are available at The Conscious Ink Store!
Conscious Ink tattoos are designed to foster growth, love, and a blissfully authentic life.
*Special thanks to the photographer, Suzanne Campbell
The process of turning my attention to my communication habits allowed me to notice all sorts of patterns that I hadn’t really been aware of before. For example, I noticed that I frequently drift off mentally while in conversation with others. I start thinking about my day or my life and am no longer really tuned in to the person who is speaking to me. I also noticed that quite often when I am “listening”, I am actually just waiting for my turn to talk, and that when I talk, I am often doing so to fill empty space, to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings, or to seek validation.
All of these things are pretty normal, and I would guess that most of us find ourselves falling into these habits from time to time, but any time I notice a pattern in my life, I like to ask myself some questions. How is this pattern serving me? Is this a pattern that I want to continue? Or, is this a pattern that I learned long ago, but isn’t actually useful anymore?
The simple answer is that, while these patterns may have served me at one time, they no longer achieve the desired effect. The greatest part of communicating with others is the connection that comes from sharing experiences. If I am not actually being present with the person I am communicating with and really listening to what they have to say, then I am missing out on a lot of the gifts that they have to share with me. It is very comforting when friends are willing to be sounding boards as I try to sort through my thoughts and feelings, but talking endlessly about an issue until I sound like a broken record is really only a temporary distraction from actually dealing with whatever is troubling me and doesn’t honor my friends’ time or attention. Also, if I find myself continually seeking validation from others, and the need doesn’t seem to be getting adequately filled, perhaps it is a need that must be filled from within, from quieting my mind and really listening to myself. After all, that voice inside, the one that can so easily be muffled over with endless chatter and mental busy work, may be the most important voice to listen to of all and there is only one person who can actually hear it.
So, my commitment to try to be a better listener continues. I try to listen intently when people are speaking to me. I try to be more conscious of what I am saying and why, and I try to be quiet often enough to hear my inner voice, the greatest guide I have. Some days I find myself succeeding and other days I completely miss the mark, but all I can do is set my intention every day and know that, even if it is only inch by inch, I am moving decidedly in the right direction.
Conscious Ink tattoos were created to remind you to listen, be present, and be the very best you that you can be! Check out the temporary tattoos featured in this article and many more in the Conscious Ink Temporary Tattoo store!
Last week I made the drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a dear friend’s wedding. I have made this drive so many times before. 380 miles. Hours of straight, flat road. In the past, it was always a game: fly as fast as you can up the highway without getting caught. For most of the drive, the speed limit is 75 MPH, but when you have hundreds of miles of open road stretching out in front of you and a horizon that seems to recede endlessly into the distance, even 90 MPH seems painfully slow.
I would drive as fast as my conscience could stand, alternating between staring at the horizon, wishing to be there, and neurotically checking my rear view mirror for black and white cars with blue and red lights. The whole time, I would wish for it to be over. I would wish for the hours to go by quickly. I would wish hours of my life away.
But this time was different. It had been years since I had last made this drive, and so many things about my perspective had shifted since then. Despite all of the exciting things that awaited me in San Francisco and all of the people that I couldn’t wait to see, I set out on this trip with the conscious intention to remain patient, to not rush through this journey, these six hours of my life. I set an intention to be present.
The funny thing is, the trip went by faster this way. It still took me the same amount of time, but I allowed myself to be absorbed in the experience, rather than fighting it. Instead of constantly checking my clock and my mileage, calculating how much longer it would take at my current speed, I stayed present with the journey.
I noticed the beauty of the scenery; I enjoyed the peacefulness of the solitude and the singular task in front of me, just to drive. I had expected to feel frustration, but instead I felt gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to see my friends and be with them for this important moment in their lives. Gratitude for the opportunity to take a vacation from work, for the opportunity to travel to a city that I have always loved. I recognized how different this experience was and the ways I have changed, become a little more peaceful and aware, and I was grateful for that, too. Even the little things, the lambs frolicking in the open pastures along the highway and the children waving and giggling from their backseat window as they passed me, brought me so much joy.
I wondered why I had resisted this experience in the past. I had spent so much time staring at the horizon, wishing to already be there. I had missed everything that was right here. I know I have done and continue to do this in so many areas of my life, particularly in my career and romantic life. I have this idea that somewhere, over there on the horizon, things will be better. Once I have the career of my dreams, the relationship I have always wanted…maybe once I have the perfect body or have reached some sort of nirvana where all of the aspects of myself that I consider flawed have melted away, I will float through life in a state of permanent bliss.
But this is it. This is where bliss happens. Right here. Not over there somewhere, out on a horizon that will probably always elude me, because, that’s what horizons do. They are only illusions. Just like my eyes perceive an endpoint to the landscape in front of me, my mind creates some sort of finish line in my life, but neither is real. Once I reach the farthest point that I can see right now, there will be a new horizon, just as far away. And even if I do achieve my dream career, my ideal body, and find the perfect relationship, my perspective will have changed along the way and there will be new things to attain, new endpoints in the distance. So, for now, I will enjoy the scenery wherever I am at. I will notice the beauty all around me, the giggling children, and the lambs frolicking in the open pastures. After all, the grass is pretty green right here.
You can find all of the tattoos from this article over at the Conscious Ink Temporary Tattoo Store along with many other beautiful temporary tattoos designed to help you Be Present, find your Bliss, and remember that Life is This Moment Now.