Seven Sacred Teachings; Bravery – Post 4

Continuing our series on the Seven Sacred Teachings of the First Nations, today we look at Bravery:

Bravery is to face foe with integrity. Symbolized by the bear, he teaches us courage. The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as human beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same vigour and intensity as a mother Bear protecting her cub.”

Fear is perhaps, one of our greatest obstacles to change. When our fear response takes over, it can affect our rational brain’s ability to temper our diffidence and worry, leaning us instead into moments of feeling stuck. In order to overcome what are often perceived fears, we must find courage to be curious about how those misgivings developed and asking ourselves if it has to be that way. Structural change often comes from a tenacious feeling that something must change; from there we can find courage in the simple ability to stay the course.

Information for this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-bear/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paxson Woelber on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Respect – Post 3

Continuing our exploration of First Nations’ Seven Sacred Teachings, we add respect to wisdom and love:

“Respect: To honour all of the creation is to have respect. Symbolized by the buffalo, no animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal, and its gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.”

Being able to respect and honour our self while also respecting the other is one of the healthiest positions we can achieve when in relationship. “I am important and so are you” allows us to recognize our own needs while considering the feelings of our loved ones. Respect towards our environment and the natural world holds us accountable to reducing our carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. At times, it becomes about respecting another, even when we might not agree with their opinion or choice.

In any case, we best access respect through attention and regard, reaching a level of esteem we can hold in reserve.

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-buffalo/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Eric Murray on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Love – Post 2

Continuing our exploration of the Seven Sacred Teachings of First Nations we look to their second core value as a way to acknowledge the importance of human conduct and how that relates to our well-being:

Love: To know love is to know peace. Symbolized by the eagle, the Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent the belief that to feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one’s first love is to be the Great Spirit. The Eagle can reach the highest out of all the creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker.”

Love in this sense is unconditional. It is the knowledge that love, when secure, is perhaps the most healing and tender gift we can give to ourselves, to our loved ones and to what surrounds us. It is the love we experience in our vulnerabilities, in the gentleness of nature and in human moments touched with peace and benevolence. When feeling fully secure in love, we know peace.

Information for this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-eagle/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Wisdom – Post 1

In the First Nations community, they teach the Seven Sacred Teachings. Also known as the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers, they incorporate  core values that they deem to be imperative to human conduct. Let’s explore each one in terms of not only how they are viewed traditionally, but how we can apply each one to ourselves in a holistic and therapeutic sense.

Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom. Symbolized traditionally by the beaver, it is the example of the beaver using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams that expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One’s spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use.”

The value of wisdom is about intent to grow. When we set out to continue learning this can come in many forms; sometimes it is book knowledge in terms of academia, other times it is to expand our knowledge of world events, politics, or how to fill out our income taxes. Sometimes it is about learning a new skill or coping strategy in terms of our emotional health. We may desire to continue to learn about ourselves by making self-reflection or spirituality a part of our goal for well-being; we may decide that getting the knack of something is important such as learning how to actively listen to our loved ones or learning how to say no effectively.

In any case, understanding that to cherish knowledge is to heighten its value, bringing the core value of wisdom ever closer.

Information for this post was found at:http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/beaver/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

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Rise Together Podcast; Relationship Advice

I have recently discovered a podcast by Rachel and Dave Hollis entitled “Rise Together.” In it, they give some common sense advice for making your relationship stronger. In one of their first episodes, they talk about the intention of the relationship; an element that focuses on recognizing that without active motive and purpose, relationships can get static. Two tips that work towards intention:

  • Identifying 5 core values for your relationship. Rachel notes that sitting together and asking yourselves “When our relationship is at its best, what do we love about it, what are we best at?” as a starting point to the conversation. Establishing core values to the relationship helps to keep you accountable to yourself and to each other as a way to achieve growth.
  • Have weekly check-ins, quarterly reviews and an annual retreat. This is alone time as a couple; Rachel and Dave note that they have a weekly date night but they also sit down together on Sundays to look at their week from a practical perspective. Quarterly reviews are ones in which they have a conversation about how they are each both feeling in the relationship; both their joys and their struggles. And the annual retreat? Vacay without the kids 🙂

To listen to the full podcast: https://www.risetogetherpodcast.com/episodes/

It is important to note that once you get to the link, you will need to scroll down to the episode entitled: “Your Relationship is Either Growing or Its Dying”

Photo credit: http://Photo by mohammad alizade on Unsplash

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The Absence of Growth

In order for nature to flourish, it requires the proper amounts of hydration, nutrients, light, climate and space. In humans, we have both the advantage of the human growth hormone and cell propagation that allow us to physically grow; less than optimal conditions can affect this system as well.

But what about emotional growth? How important is it for us to function? Well, I suppose that comes down to the importance we place on reaching our full potential, realizing and achieving our well-being goals and the prominence of meaning and purpose in our lives. Anyone can go through the motions, but in the absence of growth, we can become static, stuck, unchanging.

Perhaps the single most important element that is required for growth is movement. Without it, water goes stagnant, trees don’t grow, humans fail to thrive. Movement gives us direction, a sense of accomplishment, and an underlying feeling that we are nourishing our system in a holistic way. Challenges can be stepping stones, goals can be broken down into achievable steps, we can give ourselves permission to satisfy our human need to continue learning, not only about the world but about ourselves as well.

The bottom line? Growth equals movement; one step at a time.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Ulf Bodin on Unsplash

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Yung Pueblo Quote

I especially resonated with this quote from Yung Pueblo:

the forces

of the universe

support those who

work at healing 

themselves.

 

yung pueblo

 

Very often, people come into therapy with a core belief that keeps them stuck. Core beliefs remain rigid when we feed them; often using an internal, critical voice that originated from someone else or from experiences that hurt us. But what about the energy that is required to keep those core beliefs in place? And what happens when we begin to challenge our core beliefs with more accurate and objective truths?

Our energy shifts. When we put things out to the universe, when our values and worth align with who we are, our energy works for us and the universe responds. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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Alan Alda and Sherry Turkle Podcast

I have remarked many times that our children have become so dependent on their phones, that to see young people without one in their hand is rare. And yet, are adults at this point, any better? And it is not the dependence so much in terms of convenience that most concerns me, but rather that it has become a tool to avoid boredom. It is in times of stillness that we can really see how the dependence on our phones is affecting us.

In a recent Clear and Vivid podcast with Alan Alda, he has a conversation with Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor and clinical psychologist. Entitled “Sherry Turkle on How We’re Losing Touch with One Another and What We Can Do,” they explore concerns about mobile technology and the effect that cell phones have on our ability to communicate and connect with one another.

Sherry says, “This is something we need to get control over. In fact, to give it to children as the go-to object so that they don’t develop the capacity for boredom, but instead run to their phones…that is a real danger.” 

Alan and Sherry go on to have an interesting conversation about the usefulness of boredom; how it allows us to access a creative element of our brain, granting us to get to know ourselves at a level that is intrinsically tied to our personalities and to our ability to use imagination. Sherry adds, “If you don’t teach your children to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.”

Perhaps there is a real value in setting limits to cell phone use during quiet times; not only for our kids but for ourselves as well. Pull out a board game, sit down with a story book, do a puzzle, encourage quiet play time; getting back to the notion that being bored is okay.

To listen to the full podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/clear-vivid-with-alan-alda/e/58997235

Photo credit: http://Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

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Wisdom of Princess Diana

There are days in our lifetime that strike us with an unforgettable feeling. The day Princess Diana died was one of those days for the world; the events of August 31, 1997 sent nations into mourning. Princess Diana was the exception to British royalty; she often set aside convention and yet managed to do so with grace and poise. Three of my favourite quotes:

  • “Only do what your heart tells you.”
  • “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
  • “I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts.”

Princess Diana believed in kindness; she lived in a way that honoured her instincts while making others feel cared for and loved.

Photo credit: http://Photo by A Perry on Unsplash

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Your Attitude Counts

Once a year, my friend Nathalie and I take my girls on a travel weekend. Fifteen years in the making, this year we decided to check out San Antonio, Texas; bringing along my niece for good measure 🙂

To say that our trip started out smoothly is a gross understatement. Our flight delayed by 2.5 hours in Ottawa due to weather, we missed our connecting flight in Toronto to Austin. We made it to Toronto, re-routed to Houston, only to sit on the tarmac for 3 hours before take-off. Because we had a rental car waiting in Austin (a Jeep Cherokee which the girls were pretty pumped about!), we had to make new arrangements in Houston which put us in a mini-van (sad face, broken heart.) Arriving in Houston at 2:30 a.m., the fog was so dense that a 3 hour drive to San Antonio was not deemed safe and we had to rent a hotel room for the remainder of the night.

These circumstances could have set off our trip; tainting the rest of our long weekend. But they didn’t. Fortunately, both Nat and I have adopted the mantra that “it is what it is, and we have no option but to deal with it.” Which we did, sometimes having to politely advocate for ourselves, we found numerous points of laughter, and we focused on the bright side….hey, it’s a great adventure to add to our story!

And, as usual, we had a cloud to the silver lining. Arriving at the Houston airport, the rental car agency had no mini-vans (darn!). Assuming we would get an equivalent SUV, how delighted we were to walk over to the parking lot to discover she had upgraded us to a cherry red, Dodge Charger! Needless to say we had some pretty excited girls at 3 am in the morning!

Overall, we had a great trip; good memories made and new experiences to add to our adventures.

The moral of the story: your attitude counts. You can make it work for or against you; the choice ultimately is yours 🙂

Photo credit: Me!

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