The Love that Emerges Through Fear

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Life's painful events can have an uncanny way of revealing so much about ourselves, our relationships with others and what matters most in life.

Over the past fortnight, I have witnessed my beloved Dad go through an unplanned yet significant medical procedure.  It was heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.  Even writing these words today brings tears to my eyes.  

At first there was shock and disbelief at having to quickly come to terms with a life-threatening condition.  Then understanding the options, the reality of the surgery, the risks, the potential complications and the dreaded stories of those who don't 'make it'.   If there could ever be the perfect recipe for fear, then this had all of the essential ingredients!

Despite his fears, the greatest being for his own life, Dad showed tremendous faith and courage to go ahead.  With full family-support from my Mum, brother, sister and I, the day of the surgery was one I'll never forget.  In the hospital ward, in between all of the medical checking and double-checking just waiting, it was hard to speak words.  Dad was feeling it all, like going to hell and back I guess.  But still there was nothing left unsaid.  The strong loving presence that emanated between us said more than words could in any case.

Then in a matter of hours it was over, and Dad was 'there' again.  Such joy and relief!  Although his face was pale and his body raw, we knew that he would be okay.  Day by day, recovering his charm, regaining strength, taking steps and breathing deeper, Dad's had a rebirth.  And we have too.  

Dad's willingness to be scared, to be completely overwhelmed with emotion and to be held by those who love him, has been an incredible teaching.  When you can walk through fear, on the other side is profound love - they are two sides of the same coin - and this applies to us all.  

When we open to love, fear gets healed and soon loses its place.

"Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within." ~ James Arthur Baldwin



Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Today I grateful.  

I am grateful for this precious human life, for this breath, for this vehicle called the body and for THIS moment.  

I am grateful for my mind, for its creativity and reasoning, that's sharp at times and meandering at others.  

I am grateful for the chance to learn, to explore, to discover and to rediscover the beauty in simple things, like the opening of a flower.  

I am grateful for the many others who walk this path of curiosity and for their inspiration, for their sharing and their humility.  

I am grateful for having the strength to feel deeply, to cry unashamedly and to express honestly, even when it gets scary.

I am grateful for the untold blessings from Masters and teachers near and far, passed and present, male and female, for their unwavering commitment to truth and to love.

I am grateful for the gifts of delight that children bring, for their innocence, for their excitement and their joy, and for the wise and valuable lessons that they teach us adults everyday.

And I am grateful for Mother Earth, for all the oceans and the forests, for the deserts and the beaches, for the seasons and the rains that support and nurture our souls, day in and day out.

When I am grateful, there is a fullness in my heart and an ease in my mind that allows me to rest and know that life is taking care of itself and all I have to do is to surrender to its flow...and to be grateful again and again.

What are you grateful for today?

Making New Year Commitments Fun

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

With the advent of another new calendar year comes the temptation to make half-hearted 'resolutions' that might sound good and idealistic in a fleeting moment, yet don't serve us or inspire us in the long-term.  Resolutions made without any real sense of commitment usually lead to us feeling de-motivated and less confident about ourselves.  Commitment, now there's a word that many of us shy away from!

So, how can we set goals, with commitment, that are both worthwhile and enjoyable?  It has to do with our attitude.

A quick check of the dictionary describes commitment as 'the act of committing, engaging or pledging oneself'.  Whether we're aware of it or not, we all have things that we have 'committed' to.  Noticing where you spend most of your energy and time each week, will reveal to what and to whom you're actually 'committed' to.  And if we aren't mindful and act like 'it doesn't matter' or we tell ourselves 'I couldn't do that' then in effect, we're pledging ourselves to negative attitudes that will stop us from really enjoying our life and becoming more of the person we want to be. 

What New Year's brings is a refreshing opportunity to mindfully reassess and make a more CONSCIOUS commitment to what matters most to you and also an opportunity to have FUN in the process.

Try these steps:

1.  First, make a commitment to FUN, that no matter what your goal or intention is, that you'll do the work that it takes, but that you'll be light-hearted with yourself and enjoy the process!

2.  Second, that YOU are worth your time and energy.  No one else can do it for you.  Make your priority #1 commitment to yourself.  Self-growth and self-happiness can only come from you and your efforts.

3.  Third, write down your goals and intentions.  Use clear, simple, positive and inspirational language.  Read them with a trusted partner or friend.  And stick them on your fridge, mirror or wall where you can read them everyday.

May 2014 be your year to shine brighter and to enjoy your journey in every way possible!


Spirit is All Around Us

Laura Cargill - Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Community Wellness Day Shamanic Healing SessionYou know those times when you say something, or someone else does, and it makes the hairs on your arms stand on-end?  Or sends shivers down your spine?  When this happens, its usually a significant moment, not to be taken for granted.  And I've come to realise that its when 'spirit' is showing up.

At a shamanic healing workshop we hosted on the weekend (thanks Catherine!) our group collectively experienced this, as we called-in spirits or energies from the north, south, east and west.  As well as tingling all-over, my body was on fire!  It wasn't something I was controlling, it was just happening.  I could really feel a presence of energies all around me.  

Too often in life, we get caught up in doing and thinking, which scatters our energy and attention, and we don't happen to notice these little signs showing us that good-spirit is all around.  Supporting us and guiding us.  It was a beautiful reminder about what can perceive when we're still and we pay attention to what's going on in the subtle realms beyond our physical bodies.  Positive energies or spirits who have left their bodies, do indeed return to guide and support us on our journey.

I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  And each time this happens, it strengthens my ability to trust those tingling moments and to trust in life. 

What about you?

Dying & Being Alive

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

"One of the best means for arousing the wish to work on yourself is to realise that you may die at any moment."  Gurdijeff

When I came across this quote this morning, it really struck me.  I'm not one who likes to dwell on the potential negative of a situation, or if I'm really truthful, to think about my life ending, however I am interested in living truthfully and the truth of life is that we will die.  And that we don't know when!  So, it got me thinking, if I was to die at any moment, would I wish I'd worked on anything about myself, and if so, what would that be? 

I guess being open to others would come up for me.  Trusting a little more and suspecting a little less.  Not being afraid to let things go, knowing that it was for the best.  Being able to let things fall apart, knowing that I will still be okay.  Not needing to feel like I have to 'keep it all together'.  And I recognise that managing a small business really puts being vulnerable like this to the test.  

What also comes up for me is going more gently on myself.  I'm a pretty independent person, who has often struggled and forged ahead, paving a different way, sometimes at the cost of my own well being.  Being more gentle on myself creates a feeling of relief.  It allows me to soften into my own heart, and to be there more authentically for others, without needing to feel responsible.  

Interestingly, as I write this blog, it feels really nice to get in touch with such truthful stuff.  I don't mean to sound melancholy, but if I did die, you know what, I would do so with a happy smile in my heart.  Knowing that I gave life 'my all'.  And knowing that in essence, in spirit, we never actually die.  

Life Happens For Us

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

During times of challenge or struggle, when things don't seem to be working out, I've found this saying to be a particularly empowering reminder "life happens for us and not to us".  

Notice how it feels different when you say 'for' instead of 'to'.  'For' tends to feel open, like there's some possibility or chance, whereas 'to' tends to feel closed and trapped, like we are a victim.

As human beings, we are growing and evolving creatures amidst the ebbs and flows of life.  Just like any game, things are never static or the same and if we can learn to play along, then we can be free to enjoy more of the ride.   Inherent in accepting that life is 'for' us, is also trusting that it will present us with every-thing and every-one that we need to learn, to grow and to reach our fullest, happiest potential.

So how does this happen?  

If we take any life situation involving another person who we feel is wronging us, there is the golden opportunity for self-learning and moving forwards with greater freedom and joy.  We do this by letting go of the 'he said, she said, he did, she did' story, tempting though it may be to get stuck there.  We accept the person and circumstances are just as they need to be, although this might be hard, we can do it!  And we take a deeper, honest look at our own reactions and what is being revealed about ourselves, to uncover the true learning potential.  The learning might be the opportunity to practice patience, or to be compassionate, to reconnect with our own tender feelings of past hurt or perhaps to establish greater self-love and self-confidence.  

When we can take this approach to life, we open to something deeper, to an energy or essence within us, that feels more at ease, free, content and peaceful that if we were to remain at the level of blame and victim.

Just like the wise poet Rumi says: "Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."

Mindful Living and Mindful Loving Starts with A

Natalie Snooke - Monday, May 20, 2013

When we become more interested in spirituality and our inner-world, knowing that there is this rich, loving dimension to us, yet keeping true to that in our daily life, can be tricky.  I've found that keeping things simple really helps.

As I go about my life, I often come back to remembering these five A's: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and allowing life.  Each of these qualities brings simple reminders that help to open our heart and ease our struggles.  If we take the time to cultivate and express a little of each through our day, a new level of relating can really open up.

Attention reminds us to really listen, observe and notice all the feelings that come up for us, moment to moment.  We notice with a caring, neautral quality, without judging.  In relation to others, we're reminded to give our whole-hearted attention to whoever is before us, remembering that this moment to relate, in this way, with this person, at this time is completely unique and will never be repeated.

Acceptance involves complete acceptance of ourselves and others, just as we, and they, are.  Acceptance includes acknowledging that there will be times when we will act in ways that don't feel right or best for us, and that this too is okay.   

Appreciation includes being grateful for all of our gifts and the opportunities, challenges and dilemmas that are inherent in being human.  Appreciating that we are on a life-long learning journey, and that all beings are searching for the same peace and happiness that we are.  May we have a deep appreciation for the precious gift of life!

Affection means showing our sincere love, care and compassion towards others.  This may be in the form of physical affection such as a gentle touch on the arm, using an affectionate voice tone or showing affection to someone we might not normally, through a kind gesture.  We can make every hug really matter!

Allowing life means allowing life to be JUST AS IT IS.  Perhaps adopting the attitude that life is 'for us' - for our learning and loving - and not 'to us' as we can tend to complain or blame.  For me personally, 'allowing' is the real clincher that holds all the five A's together.

With these five A's in mind, living and loving more mindfully and more whole-heartedly, becomes just that little bit easier.  I encourage you to give them a try...

A Wise Take on Love

Natalie Snooke - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

When love glows, it is bliss
When it flows, it is compassion
When it blows, it is anger
When it ferments, it is jealousy
When it is all 'no's', it is hatred
When it acts, it is perfection
When love knows, it is me.
~ his Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, from the book Celebrating Love

These words of wisdom serve as a beautiful reminder of the many emotional facets of ourselves and the many faces of love.  If love is who we are, then our emotional experiences are just an expression of love.

What if you could relate to yourself from this perspective?  The next time you are despairing or judging yourself because of feeling some way or another, go gently, and remember Ravi's wisdom...after all, it's all about love.   

Have You Slowed Down Yet?

Natalie Snooke - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

As I was driving on the way to and from Albany on the weekend, I noticed some very wise and poignant signs alongside the road:
"Have you slowed down yet?"  

On the obvious level, there was the the reminder to ease the foot off the accelerator and reduce speed before coming into a town.  Hopefully drivers did this!  On another level, it was a beautiful reminder to 'slow down' in life.  It is the life-lesson that I've had the privilege of learning and sharing with many others over the years.  And being reminded like this still serves me well!

Sometimes students say to me that they're scared of slowing down, of being calmer for fear of missing-out on life or missing the energy of excitement that comes to the body/mind when being busy.  To this, I offer the following.  

Slowing down doesn't mean losing yourself.  And it doesn't mean you'll miss out on life.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Slowing down allows us to connect with ourselves, to enjoy who we are on the inside and to hear our own creative wisdom.  Having checked-in with ourselves first, we are better able to enjoy all that life offers us.  We are better able to fully participate in all the liaisons and opportunities before us, with a sense of centredness and genuine appreciation.  And maybe in the process of slowing down, we might even realise that our needs change.  That we don't actually have the need (or desire) to 'keep-up-the-pace' just because everyone else is.  In this way, slowing down supports us to make empowered and wise decisions in every aspect of our life.

In my life, when I'm in a flurry of activity, often doing different tasks and roles at Momentum, I remember what comes from slowing down.  And I know that life wouldn't be the same inspirational and amazing journey if I didn't.

"If you're having difficulty coming up with new ideas, then slow down.  For me, slowing down has been a tremendous source of creativity. It has allowed me to open up -- to know that there's life under the earth and that I have to let it come through me in a new way. Creativity exists in the present moment. You can't find it anywhere else." ~ Natalie Goldberg, author and speaker


Post-India & the Challenges of Living in Awareness

Natalie Snooke - Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ahhhh.  As I settle back into working, teaching and the vicissitudes of western life after spending six weeks in India, many things strike me as different.   Like the way the mind gets drawn into compulsive planning, like the way computers, Ipads and Iphones encourage multi-tasking and like the way we engage with another when making small transactions like buying some milk.  The patterns of my daily life, that once seemed 'normal' now seem 'foreign'.  And I find myself not wanting to revert to a life of constant distractions!  

Rather than rejecting these feelings, I figure there must be some worthy blog-material in all of this, so let me try to put some words around my experiences and see what learning can emerge...

India offers many things - and amongst them - an energy and (mostly) an environment that supports slowing-down, acceptance and connection.  Simple everyday tasks often takes many hours.  Like posting a parcel.  This involves a well-ordered, step-by-step packing, posting and paying process to embark unfolds, so does the opportunity for connection with the post-office clerk, the packing-man and the chai wallah standing nearby.   

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