Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

White Hot Truth

Today I’m thrilled to share with you a passage from White Hot Truth, the new book by Danielle LaPorte.

From Danielle:

“For the longest time, I thought that joy was, ultimately, our true nature, the centre of our centre. That assumption felt close, but not quite there. After much more making, meditating, struggling, succeeding, raging, chanting, sweetening, risking, respecting, humbling, healing, and inquiring, I believe this:

 

Joy is what happens when you
make contact with your Soul.

 

When I meet my Soul–in a moment of reflection that brings a revelation, in the ecstatic passion of merging, in the simplest of intimacies with moonlight or strangers at the corner store–then I experience joy.

When I am being as me as I can possibly be, well, that’s euphoria, no matter what my expression results in. When I see how the Cosmic Genius animates every single detail of my life to make up the Grand Scheme of it, I feel incredible joy–so much that it fills me up and I rationalize that I must be made of the stuff.

Your joy is where you locate your white hot truth–your pure-burning is-ness, from where you have the creative power to turn thought into matter. You want to know who you are? Follow the joy, it’s your Soul’s reflection.”

What if we take Danielle’s words to heart: “You want to know who you are? Follow the joy, it’s your Soul’s reflection.”

What brings you joy? What does that tell you about who you really are, and what you really want?

For more of Danielle’s stirring wisdom, get the book here.

Love,

Tara



Writing Heals

There is a lot swirling in me these days, a lot that is churning and changing. It is slowly settling in to my consciousness that I am in fact now a mother of two. That there are two little people who every day need me a lot. I am trying to find time for myself, my body, my marriage, the baby and the preschooler, my work, my home, my friends, my extended family, my country. And time keeps slipping right through my fingers.

I am often up in the middle of the night – because the baby wakes up to eat, or because the pacifier got stuck under her ear, or she rolled and startled herself – and I haven’t yet mastered the skill of falling asleep on cue, the moment she’s asleep again. It’s not just that the adrenaline from her waking cry is still flowing through me, it’s also that once awakened my soul can’t resist staying up in a silent house – something that is almost never offered to me in the daytime.

Sometimes, now, when the house is silent and I can’t sleep, I write. My body needs the sleep but my soul needs the writing. I write my check-in with myself. Where I am now. What is hurting. What is unclear. What is becoming clear. Sometimes, I just write what happened today – the moments or words I want to capture, or experience again.

I haven’t journaled like this, plain and simple writing for me, in a while. I’ve been reminded at how magical it is.

This week’s practice is my passing on the reminder: to write. Write how you are feeling, what’s happening, where you are.

You know, it’s not just subjective, anecdotal experiences of journaling that suggest it is incredibly healing. There are a host of studies that show it.

In one study, people who wrote about a difficult emotional experience in their lives for just a few days in a row, for just 15-20 minutes a day, experienced these benefits, among others :

    •   Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor
    •   Improved immune system functioning
    •   Reduced blood pressure
    •   Improved mood/affect
    •   Feeling of greater psychological well-being
    •   Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations
    •   Reduced absenteeism from work
    •   Quicker re-employment after job loss
    •   Improved working memory
    •   Improved sporting performance
    •   Higher students’ grade point average

Seriously, if there was a drug on the market you could take for three days to get these benefits, it would be considered one of the greatest drugs ever invented.

Expressive writing is not so well marketed because it’s free and free to all, but it is very good medicine indeed.

This week – and I hope, every week – you’ll take time to write about what you are feeling, what is happening in your life, what is murky and what is rough.

Let your pen take you where you need to go. I’d love to hear about your experience in our Weekly Practice Facebook group.

Love,

Tara



what i’ve learned this year…

 

There’s something that I’ve been learning in my personal work on myself that I want to share with you today. It’s changed so much for me.

There’s a lot of excitement in our culture around the idea of mindfulness – becoming an observer of your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors – in order to see them rather than be caught in them, to watch your behavior patterns rather than be identified with them.

Through meditation, journaling, or talking with a therapist, coach or even good friend, we start to ask questions like: What am I feeling? What limiting belief may be holding me back? What old conditioning is causing me to hurt myself and others?

As we answer these questions, we can start to actually look at, evaluate, and have agency around old patterns and beliefs that otherwise unconsciously drive our choices.

To all this I would say, yes: this kind of self-awareness can open up a space for us to begin to change a belief or behavior.

But what I’ve been learning lately is that for me, awareness is not really the most important thing in making change. The most important thing is something that comes next – in between awareness and action.

Let me take you through an example. Let’s say, through some awareness practice – perhaps journaling about some areas I feel stuck around – I discover that I have an old and deeply held belief that I don’t belong. Through more inquiry, I pinpoint some of the early childhood experiences I had that led to this belief – my family acting and looking different than those around us in our neighborhood, and some painful memories of being excluded.

So now I’m aware. I’m aware of a limiting belief that I’m carrying. I’m aware of the root causes. I’m aware of the costs.

But this is not quite enough for me to make real change and stop acting out of this belief. Why? Because the younger, hurt part of myself who got those early messages is not soothed or healed by my new cognitive awareness about them.

That’s worth repeating: the younger, hurt part of myself who got those early messages is not soothed or healed by my new cognitive awareness about them.

She needs something different. She needs to heal the early experiences of not belonging. She needs to receive the love and support she needed at the time of those painful experiences, but didn’t get then. She needs to know some older grown-up has her back and will be there for her, resolute and full to the brim with love, when she feels lonely.

So I take out my pen, and I find all her old pains, and embrace them. By “embrace” I don’t mean “accept” them. I mean a more literal embrace. I meet them, and her, with a loving hug. I write my list of embraces:

I embrace the little girl who felt different.
I embrace the younger girl who looked around and felt her body stood apart from all the others.
I embrace the little girl who wanted a house full of people and laughter.
I embrace the little girl who wanted to blend in, and just be one of many, and feel cozy as part of some larger circle.

I didn’t really know until this year you can hug your old pain and thereby transform it. I didn’t really know some emotions in you need your internal hug. I didn’t know these strange immaterial hugs are like magic that changes everything inside.

You can give them like this, through writing. Or you can picture your younger self in your mind’s eye and go to her, ask her what she needs and give it. Stay until she is okay, until she dismisses you because she is ready to play happily again. She’ll let you know when she’s been made whole.

It’s this – not the new awareness, but the embrace I can give to what I’ve just become aware of – that allows me to unblock what has long been blocked in me. It’s the love I give the old pain that allows me to stop acting out of that pain.

Now I know: if you haven’t embraced your younger self lately, you are living a compromised life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, global spiritual leader, and peace activist has written:

Sometimes the wounded child in us needs all of our attention … If you are mindful, you will hear his or her voice calling for help. At that moment … you go back and tenderly embrace the wounded child within you …

“When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else. But we must also listen to the wounded child inside of us. The wounded child in us is here in the present moment. And we can heal him or her right now. ‘My dear little wounded child, I’m here for you, ready to listen to you. Please tell me all your suffering, all your pain. I am here, really listening.’ And if you know how to go back to her, to him, and listen like that every day for five or ten minutes, healing will take place.”
 

So this is my offering to you this week.

Find some old pain. If you don’t know where to find yours, ask yourself: What fears gripped me today? Where did I betray myself? When was I dishonest today? Then ask, why did I think I couldn’t tell the truth? Or, what beliefs about life or others or myself led me to betray myself in that way? Or, what is the origin of that fear? As you look deeper into the why of that fear or self-betrayal or dishonesty, as you follow it to its root, you will find some old pain.

Find that younger girl who first experienced it, and feel everything she went through.

Then write your embraces. Everything in her you embrace. Everything still in you that you now embrace.

I embrace the little girl who was …
I embrace the little girl who had to …
I embrace the little girl who felt …

You will feel it – across your chest, tingling in your skin, how this changes everything.

Let us know about your experience, and hear from others, here.

Love,
Tara
 


A New Twist on Gratitude Practice

You can listen to this post in audio, too. Click the player to download an mp3 file, or you can read below …

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Today, I want to invite you to try a new twist on gratitude journaling.

I recently heard a friend say she’d started writing down not only what she was grateful for, but why she was grateful for it. This had really made a difference for her.

My occasional gratitude journaling had gotten a little dry and perfunctory feeling, so I was intrigued.

So, instead of my gratitude list looking like…

   •  Conversation with M
   •  Walk & coffee this morning
   •  Green chair family moment this evening

it looked like…

Conversation with M
   •  because something genuinely new happened in the conversation today
   •  because I have been pushed to grow so much in this relationship
   •  because it’s so great to finally be in the same geographic place with her

Walk & coffee this morning
   •  because of the silence and sweet alone time
   •  because of the adorable coffee shop
   •  because of the spring weather

Green chair family moment this evening
   •  because of feeling connected
   •  because of seeing the affection between my children
   •  because of the memory of seeing eric’s face watching them together

My experience in doing this was that it really amplified all the positive feelings I’d normally feel only a touch of when making a gratitude list. This brought more joy. More of feeling moved. More of that feeling of being strengthened and calmed as I wrote. A sense of my heart swelling in my chest.

Then, in editing this post, I went back and read the list above and I felt a desire to be even more specific.

The lists evolved to this…

Conversation with M
   •  because of that moment, when I heard myself say x, and I was looking at the sunlight on the road, and I felt so clear in saying it
   •  and then I heard her say y back, and it was clear – we really were changing our dynamic around this thing

Walk & coffee this morning
   •  because of the blue awning and the coal black sidewalk that greeted me
   •  because of the two golden dogs outside
   •  because of that feeling of freedom – walking, alone, the time and permission to do so

And as I went back and added in these details, the positive feelings only amplified more.

Not only that, but as I mined for the details, the experiences themselves seemed to expand. Instead of feeling like the day had just flown by again, it felt replete with vivid, rich experiences.

As I did a little more research, I discovered that the findings on gratitude practices are very in line with my experience: being more specific and including more details increases the impact of the practice.

And, sitting with the grateful feelings for a few moments, letting them flood the body, is what retrains the brain. It’s what causes gratitude practice to have an impact on our general mood and wellbeing as we move through our lives – not just in the moment of writing our gratitude list.

As Rick Hanson, psychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain, put it, “Really savor this positive experience. Practice what any school teacher knows: If you want to help people learn something, make it as intense as possible—in this case, as felt in the body as possible—for as long as possible.”

So this week’s practice: a few nights of the week try this out. (Research has shown you really don’t need to do this every day to get the benefits, so perfectionism – be gone!)

Journal about a few things you are grateful for, but take time to identify and write down the reasons why you are grateful for each.

Let us know what your experience is like in our Weekly Practice Facebook group here.

And, for more tips on making a gratitude practice effective (there are a lot of nuances beyond just writing a gratitude list), visit here.

With love,

Tara





Representative of Love

You can listen to this post in audio, too. Click the player to download an mp3 file, or you can read below …

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Good morning everyone!

I am back with another weekly practice for you, and this one is one of my long-time favorites. And when I say long-time, I mean LONG-TIME. I started using this one more twenty years ago.

It comes from author and spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson. I came across it in her books when I was a teenager and have been living with it close to my heart ever since.

Here’s what it is: ask to be a representative of love.

In the morning, when you wake up, ask to be the representative of love as you move through your day. Ask to be the representative of love in your relationships. Ask to be the representative of love in your family, your workplace, your interactions.

Simply say, with heart and willingness: May I be a representative of love today.

And then, whenever you face a significant situation or one you want to be particularly intentional around, set this intention again in a more specific way.

May I be a representative of love in this meeting.

May I be a representative of love in this classroom.

May I be the representative of love on this email thread.

May I be the representative of love at this social gathering.

The interesting thing is, of course it’s not clear at the outset what being the representative of love is going to look like in any situation. That’s why this is an open-ended prayer, not a behavioral prescription. You get to be surprised and moved and taught as it’s revealed to you, in each situation – what love means, what love entails – here.

I’ll tell you about one powerful time I used this practice. It was in my prior career, when I was working inside a large organization. I had a meeting in which there were some very high stakes around the funding of a particular project. Lots of different opinions, big egos, and competing agendas in the room. My initial stance was a mix of fear and self-obsession: how was I going to fare and come across? I also felt resistance and frustration – I really didn’t want to deal with the politics and posturing. A part of me wanted to just check out.

Instead, I set the intention to be the representative of love in the room. Other people could represent their agenda or the drive to win or whatever they’d be representing. I’d intend to be the representative of love.

So how did that unfold in this particular context? Well, because I’d set this intention, I came into the meeting with a different kind of presence and warmth. As the dialogue started, I noticed that instead of thinking of my own point of view, worrying about how I would come across, or feeling annoyed at others, I was naturally thinking about what would be of service to everyone in the room and the people we were trying to serve through the decision being discussed.

My thoughts went to the common ground across the divergent viewpoints, and the limitations with all the ideas being expressed. In other words, there was a strange and stunning way this simple intention took me above the fray of the debate to a perspective on it that was truly helpful.

And because I knew I was speaking not for myself but for love, I was able to express that perspective with a kind of confidence I wouldn’t have otherwise had. It ended up being a meeting where I contributed something valuable to the project, and people took notice – it was valuable for my own advancement to doing the work I wanted to do as well.

In my personal life, I also use this practice all the time. When I’m feeling challenged in a relationship, I will often ask to be a representative of love in my interactions with the person. I’m always amazed by how much it helps, and the new pathways forward I can suddenly feel my way into.

Now let me underscore one important thing: there’s a reason we ask to be a representative of love, rather than deciding we will be, because we simply can’t do this on our own.

We can’t will ourselves to be representatives of love.

We can’t control this.

We could try to act in a way that we associate with loving behavior, but that wouldn’t be the same as actually embodying and emanating loving energy. For that we need some help, some grace. So we say this as an intention, a humble request, a prayer to something larger than us. And we are lifted as it is answered.

Let me know how it goes as you try out the practice this week. Join our private Weekly Practice Facebook group to share your experience.

With … well, you guessed it – love,

Tara