Conscious Inklings Blog. IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INK-SPIRATION. / healing
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
SCARS and STORIES
I placed the Conscious Ink Manifestation Tattoo next to his scar. I had saved it for my own arm, but I needed to see it. On him.
I had been lying on my husband's bare chest the day before and I found my fingers tracing the scar that runs for four inches from below his ribs to his belly button.
A scar. From a bullet. When he was 9 years old.
He was playing on a road in Mexico, his parents across the street buying food when the shots rang out. Police and those running. Shots fired and returned. One hit him.
It was 4 hours to the nearest hospital. He remembers feeling cold and thirsty and feeling sad that his mother and father were crying while they looked at him and kept urging the driver to drive faster.
The doctor said he needed surgery. He also said he may not make it through it. While waiting his turn for surgery, his parents found a priest and baptized him. And they prayed that God wouldn't take their little boy from them.
His brother told me this story after he had a few beers with tears streaming down his face as if he was still the 13 year old boy who peered through the window wondering if they would drive four hours home with one seat unfilled.
Right before the surgery, the doctor checked my husband and blinked. Then rechecked. Then baffled said that he no longer needed surgery. And that by some miracle, he was going to be okay.
I share this because I know so many of us have experienced profound loss, but there are also miracles. Search your life for them. Shine a spotlight on them. Make room for more miracles.
But also honor the pain, the rock bottom moments, the heartache.
That was the tattoo I put on my husband.
Because no matter the tears, the smiles, the highs or the lows, every moment is a miracle.
Sometimes, we simply need to remember.
There are stories in your scars. There is power in our words.
And in the end, it is how you wear them that matters.
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
What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?
Someone asked me recently what my greatest accomplishment was, and to be honest, I was completely stumped. I thought about my life and surveyed my experiences trying to determine what I was most proud of. As I tried to think of all of the things I had achieved in my life, I realized that what I was most proud of was not something I had done so much as it was who I had become.
For so much of my life, I lived in a place of self-doubt and self-criticism. I was so quick to ask myself “what if I can’t?” or “what if I fail?” I chose the paths that seemed to pose the least amount of risk; but by playing it safe, I was depriving myself of opportunities for true growth and ignoring the voice deep inside of me that was beckoning me to follow my heart, to pursue the things that made me feel most alive, and to create the life that I dreamt of.
Over time, I realized that telling myself that my dreams were too big and settling for a life that seemed "good enough" was not a path to happiness. I realized that, in order to find true fulfillment, I needed to be the architect of my own world, to develop my own unique vision of a full and happy life, and then work to create that every day. But before I could create the life that I wanted, I needed to do some internal spring-cleaning and clear out the clutter that had accumulated in my life. I needed to let go of the fear, the self-doubt, and the beliefs that were holding me back from living my bliss.
It is a never-ending process, and it requires a consistent, conscious effort, but as I began to clear away the thoughts and behaviors that were no longer serving me, I was surprised by the things that I found, things that were always there but had been buried under all of the negative self-talk and limiting beliefs. I found courage, not as something that magically appears out of nowhere, but as something that can be practiced and developed. I found faith, as I surrendered myself to a life of authenticity. The "what if"s no longer held so much weight as I found that choosing the things that feel right and true for me at my core will always lead me to where I should be. And as I began to make authenticity a way of life, I found a kind of happiness that I had never known before--a happiness that radiates from deep within me, one that doesn’t hinge upon the opinions of others or things going my way or measurable forms of success. The happiness that I found was the joyful experience of truly being myself and its has impacted my life in so many ways.
I am now more present, every day. I work harder at everything I do because I own the choices I make and choose to do the things that nourish my soul. I try to embrace every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow, and I bring more positivity into my relationships and the world around me because I have discovered a powerful source of love and light inside of myself, and I am absolutely certain that there is no accomplishment that could be greater than that.
“Whomever you truly are... honor that person. No dream was ever realized by disappearing into the shadows of self-deceit and doubt.” - Jaeda DeWalt
Conscious Ink temporary tattoos were created to help you heal, let go, and grow! Check out our inspiring and affirming body art in Conscious Ink Temporary Tattoos.