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Category Archives: Programs & Events

Turnings, layers and leaps

multi-layered © Mahala Mazerov

If I had flower for every time I thought if you, I could walk in my garden forever. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I have been thinking of you more than you know.

It’s been a multi-layered period of inner shifts and turnings on the way to some central truth. Sometimes there’s been nothing I could put together in words. Other times, like now, there’s almost too much to say.

I have to admit that it worries me to go so long without being in touch. The internet is full of people who show up every single day on their blogs, in their products and programs or on guest posts and interviews all over the web.

The more I tune in to what I need to best be in service, the more clearly my inner voice directs me to spend more time creating and less time engaging right now.

It scares me though. I’m afraid you’ll forget me. I’m afraid when I finally bring something forward you won’t know who I am. Or worse, you won’t care.

The grounded and wise-in-so-many-ways Pam Slim has assured me you will still be here. You will understand. She says our connection doesn’t depend on me frantically trying to be everywhere (while ultimately serving no one.)

I’ve decided to trust her. More than that, I’ve decided to trust YOU.

For some of you, this is the first you’ve seen the Luminous Heart redesign. There was more in the background waiting to be revealed.

On Valentines Day my heart and my clarity around my work stepped up 10,000 notches. The change I’m making doesn’t fit in the space of the Luminous Heart web site. A new site (carrying over the new design) is in the works nearing completion. I will, with my heart in my throat and my hopes flung wide open, let you know when it is launched.

Yesterday I pulled a sheet of ice from the garden bed. I know it’s far too early to plant but I feel the promise ahead and it thrills me. Things are like that now for me. There’s something stirring, that almost wants to explode into life. But it needs a little more time before I share.

I think, to many of you, the change will be indistinguishable. It’s quite possible you’ve been waiting for me to get clear and get creating.

———-

On a side note, I want to let you know about a program that might interest to you. Profitable Idealism by Pace Smith and Johnny B. Truant is exactly what it sounds like — the ability to stay true to your idealistic heart and run a profitable business at the same time. I’m honored more than a little awestruck to be a contributor to the program.

If you’ve felt the challenge of being both idealistic and profitable, check this out before Tuesday midnight and save $200. (Affiliate link) You also have a very good chance of winning one of 114 compelling bonuses.

———-

In the e-book I wrote for Profitable Idealism, I talk about playing with concrete numbers instead of simply having a formless vision. The day after I delivered the e-book, one number I had been playing with increased exponentially. Little did I guess taking my own advice would lead to such a monumental leap of my own.

You’ll have to wait to see the new site to know what I’m talking about. But here’s a hint: “my work stepped up 10,000 notches.”

Taking My Own Medicine

multitudes © 2010 Mahala Mazerov


You can’t save the world when you’re running on empty.

Aside from the toll it takes on your own body, mind and spirit, ignoring your need for self-care steals your capacity to be strongly, creatively, and lovingly present in the world.

This benefits no one.

[Body of Wisdom ~ Sacred Self Care description]

My innermost voice says I need to firmly establish a new, loving pace for myself if the work of my heart is to grow and flourish.

This requires some disappointment in the moment to hold out for joy and meaning in the future.

It’s one of the lessons I’m taking to heart as I get ready to teach Body of Wisdom ~ Mindfulness Practices for Sacred Self Care.

I’m excited to begin. Some participants have already written on the secret course page. From what they’ve said I know this is going to be an incredible learning and sharing among heart centered women. I’d love for you to be a part of it.

Class starts tomorrow evening. There’s still time to join us.

One thing I’m hearing from some of you is your plate is just too full at the moment to take this course. I want to say I hear you. I understand completely and I fully support you in not adding more things to your stack.

But if your plate is too full all the time maybe this course is something to consider. Classes will be recorded so you can listen at your leisure — even if that’s a month away.

Ok. That’s the end of my pitch. Many years ago when I was worrying over the outcome of a program I came across these words. I have no recollection who said them but they’ve always held true for me.

Insert lengthly memory banks search, coming up empty. Why does my brain not have Google installed?

I used to have these memorized. There were 4 lines. The one I remember:

Whoever comes are the right people.

May you have multitudes of care. Multitudes of love.

Meaningful Life: Prison of Thorns to Sacred Enclosure (Part 1)

©2010 Mahala Mazerov

After my head injury I watched friends and activities from a distance where once I had been a fully engaged participant.

The simplest interactions fried my circuits. Being myself, loving what I loved, doing the things I did were suddenly invitations for disaster.

I didn’t know the severity of my brain injury was under diagnosed, as it would remain for 3 years. I hadn’t heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I only knew every day (every hour!) presented me with a new minefield, triggering explosions with the most innocent of steps.

I couldn’t understand why everything was so hard. I thought I would will my way through hospital rehabilitation, pick up a few coping and cognitive strategies, and everything would be normal again.

I had an image of Sleeping Beauty. A prison of thorns sprung up overnight when she pricked her finger on that poison spindle. She and her Kingdom fell into a deep sleep for a hundred years until the Prince came to rescue her. I felt I was inside that prison of thorns, fiercely removed from the world outside.

But my head injury was not a fairy tale.

Life in the Kingdom was moving along just fine and didn’t seem to notice I was missing.

No Prince Charming was on his way to free me.

Even my rehab therapists, for all their kindness, were not going to break down my thorny prison. They continually warned me my own efforts to “bulldoze my way through rehab” were destined to fail.

I watched life go on without me. Learned to catch the tell-tale sentences (We really should have you over for dinner. You look fine, are you sure you’re not wallowing?) that signaled my last contact from friends.

My life shrank until it was resigned to a very tiny circle of space. Five days a week, I road a disability van to the hospital. Sat for hours in an overcrowded waiting room filled with desperate, miserable, wounded people and their chirping companions. Then came hours of grueling speech, physical and cognitive rehab, and another wait for the van. Sometimes the van was crowded, too. Even though the hospital was 10 minutes from my house the ride home could take more than an hour as passengers were dropped off.

I wanted to be the perfect patient. I tried to be the perfect patient. The one that everyone says is so courageous, always smiles and never complains. But no one seemed to notice, and I was burning myself out on a lie.

It was a meaningless, exhausting life and I didn’t see a way out.

I thought of suicide, briefly, and not very seriously. I had a feeling I would only manage to make things worse rather than actually kill myself so the thought didn’t get much traction.

Still, as time passed I became increasingly certain I would die. I just did not see how I could possibly stay alive. I thought living with a terminal brain injury would eventually kill me.

I felt I had already died (a sentiment I’ve heard repeated from nearly every person with a brain injury I’ve met.) For some reason my body was still dragging itself around.

Instinctively I knew seeing my life as a prison, waiting to die, waiting for rescue that could never appear were prescriptions for bottomless despair. But pasting a fake smile on my face and relying on sheer willpower were not saving me, either.

Was it possible to create a meaningful life? A life I wanted to live in spite of everything?

Coming in Part 2 : The Sacred Enclosure.

==========================

I hope my story reads like just a story and you’re unfamiliar with loss like this.

Since you’re reading, you know I got through it. I not only survived, I learned to love this life of mine. And the way I achieved that was by being unflinchingly honest with what was true for me and becoming a Master Practitioner in the Art of Sacred Self-Care.

If you’re struggling with limitations, bulldozing through too much of your life or just missing a tender connection with yourself, I hope you’ll join us for the Sacred Self-Care program beginning October 7.

Self Care Confessions

untitled © 2010 Mahala Mazerov

I have a confession to make.

When I published the Tender Loving Care post my original plan was to move the post in a different direction. As you may remember, Susan told the story of her tender attention to her baby daughter. She wrote of her mother watching in awe, touched and inspired by Susan’s loving care.

I planned to write about how seemingly ordinary expressions of loving kindness have a profound impact on others.

When it came to write, I was too tired to form words into sentences. I left Susan’s story to speak for itself and highlighted her final question. “Why, then, is it so hard to give that same care to myself?”

The result was wonderful conversations in the comments and in Real Life.

So here’s my confession.

Through years of living with a brain injury (and a thyroid illness and adrenal fatigue, sigh) I’ve had lots of practice with deep, honest self care. But the truth is I’m a million times more comfortable writing glowing words about inspiring loving kindness then I am writing about self care.

It seems to me that alone requires further consideration.

Demons

I have all the same demons you do assuring me it’s selfish, unnecessary (or too necessary, I’ll never doing anything else for anyone else ever again) lazy, arrogant, and in the end just plain wrong.

At the same time, everything in my Buddhist teachings (confirmed by my own experience) tells me focusing on myself, my needs, my desires is exactly how I create my own suffering. The way to free myself is to focus on the benefit of others.

Well, what am I to do with that?

Every time I put myself first — examining every request through the lens of my own energy level, riding disability carts through airports as throngs of travelers drag suitcases in the trek to their gate, going first, sitting when others stand, canceling plans, choosing to rest — how do I reconcile all that “I”?

You may give me a free pass because of my health challenges. You’ll say, it’s different for you Mahala, you have a head injury for goodness sakes.

Keep Your Free Pass For Yourself

You, sweet readers, are some of the kindest people on earth. So please forgive me.

I don’t want your free pass.

Your free pass, so lovingly intended does not help me at all. It makes things worse, can you understand? I don’t want to be the exception. Let someone else be the exception for a change.

We already give each other permission. Compassion. How can each one of us give ourselves permission? Our own free pass to take the care we need to stay whole, healthy, and in service. Without waiting for a breakdown?

How do I wish this for me and for you without turning my back on Buddhism, karma, and the genuine blessings that come from thinking of others instead of ourselves?

Breakthrough!

I’ve been struggling with these issues for years. Then, about a week ago, I started having breakthroughs. All of my long-standing explorations, meditations, conversations with Buddhist friends, studies in Buddhist psychology… everything that had been so emotionally laden before rearranged itself in the most clear and simple truth:

It is possible to engage in Sacred Selfcare.

I see it. I understand it. I can feel it in my body. It’s tender and beautiful and whole.

I’ve got so many ideas jumping around excitedly in my brain longing to be told, shared, and refined.

There is just no way I want to do this by writing alone. I want to be with you as much as I can with these observations.

I am inviting delightedly begging you to join me for what is sure to be a rich, joyful, wisdom filled, three-part class on the subject of Sacred Selfcare.

This changes everything.

And here it is! Body of Wisdom ~ Mindfulness Practices for Sacred Self-Care. Click for complete details.

What’s your idea of the perfect Kindness Community?

Some months ago I wrote about starting a Meditation Community. I still think it’s a great idea. There’s a genuine benefit to sharing our practices (whatever they may be), supporting, and motivating one another.

But what I want to share with you at Luminous Heart is so much more than meditation in the way most people think about it, as sitting meditation practice. So the plan for a Meditation Community didn’t quite describe what I want to create.

My primary focus is what I call “meditation beyond the cushion.” How do we bring mindfulness into the creative chaos of life? How do we see our world as a place of kindness, and express our own loving-kindness every day? How do we expand our capacity for love and compassion?

Lately I’ve been hearing the words Kindness Community. I don’t even know what that might be yet, but the words are making a place in my heart.

What do you think of a Kindness Community?

If you could envision the perfect Kindness Community what would it look like? What would you expect to receive? How could it help you bring more loving-kindness, compassion and happiness into your life? What kind of place would it be that you could come to with your own heart full of gifts?

I would so love to hear your thoughts on this. We are in the very early Dreaming stages, nowhere near any kind of form, so I won’t even set up an advance interest list. But I would love to hear your thoughts on the perfect Kindness Community.

Shenpa: Why Holidays Hurt & What We Can Do About It

There’s a Buddhist practice I’ve been working with a lot lately. The Tibetan word for it is shenpa.

Most of the time shenpa is translated as “attachment.” Pema Chodron translates it as hooked, or how we get hooked. She compares it to an itch we can’t help but scratch.

Here’s a basic example of shenpa: Somebody makes a comment that rubs you the wrong way and something inside you tenses. That’s shenpa, you just got hooked.

But it doesn’t stop there. It works like a chain reaction. You get hooked and then you start running a little story in your mind. Maybe you put yourself down. Then you blame the other person. You ask yourself why you even care what they say. You wonder why you haven’t learned, why set yourself up for this all the time. Then you think more bad thoughts about the other person. The narrative just hums along and the next thing you know you’re eating a pint of ice cream without even tasting it. Or shouting or withdrawing or whatever your automatic fallback response is when you’re heading for your comfort zone.

Unless you’re familiar with shenpa, it can be pretty subtle most of the time. You get hooked, you run your usual habitual responses without even noticing, and you carry on with you day

That is, until Shenpa hits a powerfully sore spot and you experience hook after piercing hook.

This is why holidays hurt. They’re practically shenpa symposiums. During holidays and special occasions there’s zero subtlety. Expectations are hyped and energy is overextended. Old family patterns are in full swing. Insecurities are running wild, with the people who push your buttons in hot pursuit.

Suddenly Shenpa is like getting stung by a scorpion. You know exactly why you’re having another drink. You know exactly why you feel like crying. You know exactly why you’re sneaking off to spend time on the computer. The narrative in your head is non-stop and you are likely to be running it for the next 24 hours if not the next 2 weeks.

This is hard. It’s miserable. It’s something too many of us experience when every (shenpa) advertisement, expectation and made-for-tv movie tells us we’re supposed to be feeling comfort and joy. Lots of joy.

Let’s try something different this holiday season. Let’s see if we can learn to spot it as it’s first arising, and stop the shenpa chain reaction before it starts, before things blow up and people get hurt.

Join me for a special program, Surviving Celebrations: Getting through the holidays with your (mental) health and happiness.

I’ll have full details for you next week. For now let me say it’s going to be a combination of recorded and live calls, and maybe a bonus or two.

I’m completely enamored with the idea of sharing some tools and practices to help you make it through to 2010 with your happiness intact.

[Registration is closed. Program is expected to open next year in early November. While you're waiting, you may want to read this post Develop Self Compassion: Meditation instructions for working with the breath. It will help you work with shenpa when it arises.]

Your Turn To Ask, A Meditation Survey

First, let me offer profuse thanks to everyone who responded to my Help Wanted prayer request.

It was a huge leap for me to publish it out loud, all the more because I thought I was just tapping the universe on the shoulder. I never in a million years expected anyone to step up and say “I will help you with this.”

Whether you offered specifics or just cheered me on via email or here on the blog, I want you to know how much your responses made my heart soar.

Having said that, let this be your turn to ask. PLEASE tell me what you want or need to learn about meditation. Let me know how I and LuminousHeart.com can serve your heart’s desire for a life of loving-kindness, compassion and clarity.

I’ve set up a simple survey, 4 questions, all of them optional, plus space to add your own thoughts.

Click Here to take the meditation survey. It’s short and sweet, and I promise to listen.

FYI, your name will not be added to any mailing list if you take this survey. You’ll have the option to join my list at the end, but it’s completely voluntary. I just want to hear from readers and people interested in meditation how I can best serve you.

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