Ho’Oponopono- Inspired Meditation

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Powerful words, at times difficult to receive, and even more difficult to say. This Ho’Oponopono- Inspired meditation guides you on a journey of equanimity, reconciliation, and forgiveness, based on the traditional Hawaiian practice of the same name. (Written about in Change We Must, by Nana Veary, and Hoʻoponopono Contemporary Uses of a Hawaiian Problem-solving Process by E. Victoria Shook.)

Ho'Oponopono- Inspired Meditation

Ho’Oponopono- Inspired Meditation

To begin, place your hands over your heart center and if you wish, allow your eyes to close gently.

Focus on connecting to your higher self that resonates gratitude and love. Spend a moment here, breathing in gratitude, breathing out love. In, out. Gratitude, love.

Now focus on expanding your connection to include source energy. You may consider this as divine energy, universal consciousness, or the Love of God. However you best visualize it, imagine that you have tapped into it, and that energy is filling you, running through you, and surrounding you with light. Imagine that any time your own loving energy runs low, this conduit of higher energy replenishes you, so that you always have enough gratitude and love at any given moment.

Now bring to mind someone you have minor frustration with. Perhaps this is a dearly loved person who you have some unresolved issue with. Or perhaps it is someone you feel mostly neutral about, but there is something they have done that has annoyed you. Whatever the case, imagine they are sitting right in front of you. Imagine that the light and love energy surrounding you now encompasses both of you. See this energy having a softening, massaging effect on each of your emotions. Imagine this person looking into your eyes and sincerely saying, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” It does not matter if you believe they would truly say this or not. Just imagine that they have. Take a deep breath. Allow yourself time to accept this.

In return, send the same phrases back. Look into their eyes deeply, and say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Say it as sincerely as you can. Imagine the light/ love energy melting any remaining coldness, sorrow, and frustration between you. If it feels right, you can wrap your arms around them in an embrace, or simply smile at them, knowing that you have let go of the thing that was holding you back from them emotionally.

Now bring to mind someone else, perhaps someone that brings up deeper frustration or resentment for you. Again, see the divine/source energy expanding to surround both of you, and seeping into your hearts. Imagine them looking into your eyes with compassion, and sincerely saying “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” Again, even if it is highly improbable that they would actually say this to you, imagine that they want to, and that they have made the effort to say this from their heart. Imagine what their face would look like, and the tone of their voice, in the way that you most long for. Breathe in love, and breathe out gratitude. Take your time here.

Now look deep into this person’s eyes, and repeat the phrases back to them. Tell them, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” You may feel some resistance to doing this. Be gentle with yourself. This is very human and understandable. Remember that every person is your own mirror, and oftentimes we do need to forgive the people who have hurt us, because we have harbored unkind, resentful, judgemental, or even hateful thoughts toward them or toward what they did. Holding on to these feelings is hurting you, and you will feel so much lighter and peaceful once you release them.

You may find it helpful to consciously tap into that channel you created at the beginning, to source energy (or God’s love, or universal consciousness). Imagine it filling you with the strength to forgive and love those who have hurt you, and the wisdom to create healthy boundaries that will allow you to have an open, and protected heart, both.

Repeat this exercise as many times as you would like, with as many people as come into your mind. You can even say these words to yourself, or to a younger/ different version of you.

When you feel you have come to the end, let all the images fade away, and take one or two more deliberate breaths, gratitude in, and love out. Stretch your limbs, and blink your eyes open. Smile. Take this feeling of gratitude and love with you into your day.

If you enjoyed this guided Ho’Oponopono- Inspired Meditation, check out our guided Progressive Relaxation Body Scan post.

How to Use a Wrist Mala for Meditation

Sodalite Wrist MalaEver notice yogis or meditators wearing beaded bracelets and wondered what they were for? Or maybe you know that these wrist malas are meditation bracelets, but wondered how to use a wrist mala for meditation? I will explain 4 ways to do this, but first, just so we’re on the same page, let’s talk about…

What is a mala?

A mala is a string of beads on a necklace or bracelet, used as a tool to help you focus on your meditation. It can also be used as a way of keeping count of repetitions of whatever you’re doing. 

Malas are a great way to assist meditation because they offer such a tactile, tangible way to focus your attention. This is great news for those of us who get bored or distracted easily, or who deal with chronic or acute anxiety. It’s also a wonderful way to introduce meditation to children.

Full malas have 108 beads, with a larger “guru” bead, stone or tassel at the bottom. They can be worn like a necklace when not in use. Wrist malas are worn as bracelets when not in use and traditionally have 18 or 27 beads, again with a tassel, or a larger “guru bead”. 

Guru= teacher (those who have brought you to this point in your life, who have nurtured you intellectually and spiritually). It can represent literal teachers, friends or partners who have helped you to stretch and to become better, and it can also represent God. We start and end at this bead when we are keeping count, without ever passing over it, as a sign of gratitude and respect.

How is a mala used?

There are four main ways to use malas (either full malas or wrist malas; even a set of prayer beads works great):

  1. As part of a gratitude practice
  2. In the repetition of mantras or positive affirmations
  3. To keep count as you practice breath work (or pranayama)
  4. Wearing as a reminder of your intention and to absorb positive energy

Using a malaHere is a video summary of the 4 ways to use a wrist mala.

You can stick to one practice, or mix them up- it’s totally up to you and what you feel you need on any given day. Do what feels nourishing to you.

Now it’s time to put your mala to use: Drape the beads over your dominant hand, as shown in the picture. Begin at one of the beads next to the guru bead. For each bead, practice

      1. Taking one deliberate breath, 
  1. Identifying one thing you are thankful for, OR 
  2. Repeating a mantra. 

Use your thumb to advance to the next bead to keep track of how many repetitions you are doing. Stop on the last bead before the guru bead. If you want to continue, turn the bracelet around and follow the beads in the other direction, again stopping just before the guru bead and reversing directions until you are finished. Repeat as many times as you would like, whether it is just one round of the bracelet, or six rounds (to get to the traditional 108), or somewhere in between.

How can I get a mala?

Kyanite Wrist MalaYou can purchase or easily make your own wrist mala. Plan on using 15-22 beads, depending on the size of the beads you choose and the circumference of your wrist. (8mm is a standard size, but you could also use 6mm or 10mm beads. You would just need to adjust the number of beads so that it fits your wrist.) This doesn’t need to be fancy. You can make your own- a piece of string with plastic beads on it could work. Your local craft store will have crystal or stone beads if you want to make something a little more long lasting and aesthetically pleasing.

The Wild Goose Meditation Shop on Etsy sells many beautiful wrist malas. We also have a limited number of ready-to-make kits if you are more inclined to make your own. Check out our tutorial video here.

Progressive Relaxation Body Scan

sitting meditationHere is one of our scripts for a guided body scan with the goal of muscle relaxation and stress relief. Please feel free to use it (proper attribution is always appreciated) or record your own voice reading it to have a personal guided relaxation session.

Progressive Relaxation Body Scan

Shift into a comfortable position- one that allows your back to be straight and supports all of your limbs. Move around until you settle into the right spot, perhaps finding something to lean against to support your back. Feel free to lie down if that is most comfortable, or if your objective is to prepare for sleep. If you would like to set an intention, go ahead and do so now. You are free to adjust your position at any time during the body scan to become more comfortable and relaxed.

Become present and aware of your body and your surroundings. Let your eyes close gently if they are not already closed. Take in a deep breath through your nose, noticing how your chest and belly feel as they fill up. Let your breath out through your nose, and at the bottom of your exhale, gently push just a little more air out. Welcome your breath back in through your nose, and again, out through your nose. Let your breath become smooth, even, and equally proportioned. Take a few more breaths this way. Allow your pattern of breathing to arrive at its natural pattern, in and out. Any way this occurs is fine.

Create with your mind a beautiful, bright ball of light floating in the air above your head. See it in your mind or just sense that it is there. Notice what color it is. Feel a gentle warmth emanating from it and know that the light has special properties of comfort, healing, relaxation, and cleansing. Allow this ball of light to slowly move downward through your body and permeate each part of your body, acting as a catalyst for releasing tension and stress.

As the light moves down through the crown of your head, allow your scalp to relax. As it continues to descend, allow the muscles in your forehead, eyes, cheeks, jaw, and neck relax and become still. Pay attention to the muscles around your mouth and your throat as well. Let all tension melt away as the ball of light shines its light into each body part.

Allow the light to sink downward, radiating warm, healing light into your shoulders. Spend a moment here. Let your shoulders be heavy and loose before you move on. Watch the light move through your left bicep, elbow, forearm, hand, and each individual finger on your left hand. Allow the light to linger in any areas of soreness, tension, or strain. Notice how soft and relaxed all of your muscles are becoming. Now bring the ball back up to your right shoulder, and allow the ball to follow its same progression down through your right arm, hand, and fingers.

Imagine the light continuing to drift slowly down, through your chest and back. Again, if any tension remains, keep the ball of light hovering over that area until it loosens. Allow the light to shine into your stomach, liver, and all your internal organs. Notice the light sinking into your hips, lower digestive tract, and pelvic bowl until they are completely saturated with beautiful, bright healing light, and there is no longer any tension or residual stress.

Watch the light to continue down through your gluteal muscles. Then direct it to your left lower hip and thigh. Don’t hurry this. Take your time and allow the light to move as slowly as it must to release tension from every muscle and tendon. Allow the light to sink down through your left calf, ankle, foot, and each individual toe, warming, softening, and relaxing them from the inside, all the way out. Now bring the ball of light back up to your right lower hip and thigh, and allow it to follow it’s trajectory down through your right knee, calf, foot and toes.

If any tension returns, take a slow breath in through your nose, imagining your ball of beautiful healing light coming in with your breath and smoothing and soothing any stress you are still holding. Now release that tension from your body with your breath as it passes back out through your nose. Notice your body feeling warm, relaxed, and light. You are now ready to {meditate, sleep, re-engage with your day, etc}.

Come back to an awareness of your breath, and of the feeling of your eyelids if they become lighter, and slowly blink them open. Stretch and move your body around. Any time you feel tension returning, you can take a few deep breaths and mentally pass your healing light through your body to return to this relaxed state.

How did you respond to the body scan? Were you able to detect tension lingering in your muscles? Were you able to release it and return to a state of calm awareness? We’d love to hear from you.

Photo- Meredith Carlson Photography

Setting an intention for meditation and yoga

Do you set an intention for your personal meditation and/or yoga practice? Or, do you wonder if there’s a point? Is it just a new age-y way to say you’re setting a goal? And what should your intention be, anyway???!!! If you’ve ever been stressed during yoga or meditation class about what this whole intention thing is, keep reading!

Setting an intention is a powerful way to align your head, your heart, and your body and attract positive energy into your life. It is a bit like making a goal, but there are some important differences. Understanding these differences between a goal and an intention might point you in the right direction.

Imagine that you’re planning a hike up to a beautiful vista- you’re not there yet, but you can clearly see where you want to end up when all is said and done. A goal has to do with reaching this *future* destination. An intention has to do with the journey you are currently on toward that destination, whether you arrive at the top or not. It has to do with being immersed in the *present* moment.

If you just love making goals, there’s nothing wrong with that! So go ahead and picture where you’d like to see yourself at a specific, later date- this is your destination, your goal for the future.

Now let’s focus on the journey- this is how you’re going to get there, starting right this minute. What do you want the journey to be like? Is there a feeling or quality that you would like to cultivate- in life in general, the next month, the next minute? Keep in mind that your intention is something you can attain, moment by moment, regardless of whether you reach a future goal- or not.

For clarity, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Who/ what matters most to me?
  • What am I most thankful for?
  • How do I feel when I am my happiest self?
  • What words resonate with me?

Examples of possible intentions include: peace, unconditional love (giving or receiving), balance, equanimity, optimism, forgiving self or others, courage, focus, patience, flexibility, faith, connection, embracing change, soft/open heart, resilience, etc.)

Once you have an impression of what your intention should be, try to distill it down to as few words as possible- focusing on what you want, rather than what you want to avoid. This is the feeling you want to come away with, after your practice. It is the quality you would like to color your life, your goals, your successes and your struggles with.​

You might find it helpful to write this word or phrase somewhere you’ll see it often, or create a “trigger” by associating your intention with an object you see or handle fairly often, like a piece of jewelry or a pocket stone, etc. For me, the wrist mala (meditation bracelet) I wear daily reminds me of my personal intention. Do whatever works for you!

These instructions can help you identify your intention for your life right now. However, you can always set a time- specific intention that is just for the duration of a yoga class, a difficult conversation, or some other short- term activity.

Now that you have identified your intention, you have a couple of options. First, you can just mentally set it aside. Yep! Your subconscious mind will remember it and help you create the connections you need. Second, you could use that word or short phrase of your intention as a personal mantra to repeat with each breath you take while you sit in meditation or do your yoga set. It’s totally up to you and what feels natural in the moment.

Got a question about setting an intention that we didn’t cover? Feel free to leave a comment, or send us a DM on Instagram. <3

How to Anchor Your Life by Letting Go

I want to make a disclaimer at the beginning of this post that I am not in any way stating that someone in an abusive relationship, extreme difficult circumstance, or who has serious mental health needs to accept these situations and continue allowing these situations to occur. It is important to seek help when necessary and sometimes really digging down deep into these difficult circumstances will help us realize changes that need to be made.

It’s pretty crazy the lengths humans will go to sidestep discomfort inside of ourselves, isn’t it? From avoiding a conversation with a loved one, to living in denial about our true feelings about something, we constantly avoid, overlook, or try to micromanage other areas of our life to help compensate for the lack of control we feel about this difficult situation or emotion in our lives.

The problem with this approach is that we ultimately can’t control everything around us. When we respond to a disruption in our lives or emotional well-being by resisting it, we are in essence trying to control it or change it instead of accepting it. We are trying to change what is. Doing so removes us from the reality we are in and since our lives are always unfolding in the “now”, it creates painful cognitive dissonance and added feelings of frustration. What I’m getting at is that the very moment we don’t accept something that already is, we begin mentally living in a state other than reality. This can cause feelings of helplessness, denial, control, anger, prolonged grief, anxiety, and depression – to name a few.

There is ample research that indicates that people who deal with emotions healthily, who “let things go” and move on, so to speak, rather than bottling their emotions, live happier, longer, healthier lives! Perhaps the reasons I stated above have something to do with that.

Life is unpredictable, for better or worse. Each circumstance that passes through us is like a balloon, impermanent and floating along at the whims of the wind and circumstances surrounding it. Sometimes these balloons may look appealing – they are an escape from the true reality of whatever we are dealing with. We can choose to identify with this balloon and its accompanying emotions as it floats by, at which point we sign over the control of our own experience and are at the mercy of where this circumstance or emotion goes. This is draining and exhausting. It also puts us in a position where we are no longer in control and although it was an impermanent event, it has now become part of our current story for much longer than it ever needed to be.

The other option is that we can choose to root ourselves in the rich soil of reality and the present moment, and let the balloons float through us and past us. We can be aware of the difficult circumstances we are in, and aware of the emotion balloons that may be passing by us, but we can view them for exactly what they are: impermanent. We are no longer identifying with them and grabbing on for the wild ride. Occasionally a balloon may blow around us and in our face, obstructing our vision for a bit, but they will float past eventually.  

This isn’t easy. We hold on to our experiences and emotions for dear life. Sometimes our difficult emotions and circumstances have shaped who we are and the thought of letting go of them makes us feel like we are releasing a piece of our identity with them. We are afraid of who we are without them. Other times the thought of facing these circumstances may make us shrink out of fear of pain, or you may feel too far down your path to change now.

In Buddhism there is a concept taught by Buddha called the Second Arrow. The idea is that if someone strikes you with an arrow, it’s very painful. That arrow represents pain from circumstances in life. This pain is unavoidable and part of the experience of being alive. However, humans do a curious thing. Rather than pull the first arrow out, painful as that would be, we often will drive a second arrow behind that first arrow and force more pain onto ourselves. The second arrow represents our own shame, anger, re-living experiences, and beating ourselves up over something we did. This is pain that is both unnecessary, and usually even more painful than the first arrow to come our way.

What in your life are you wasting precious energy and time resisting, or driving a second arrow into yourself? What balloons have you identified with and given your control over to, which no longer serve you anymore? It might be painful, just like pulling that first arrow out, and we need to acknowledge what has happened to us, or what we have done to ourselves. But we also need to be willing to dig in and really look at the situation or emotion, see it for what it is, and then move forward from it. In doing so, we plant our feet in the soil of reality and allow ourselves to experience life more freely and be at peace with ourselves.

Why Loving Yourself is the Most Important Thing You Will Ever Do

Before I started meditating I didn’t think much about self-love. The whole concept seemed a little new-agey and wreaked of over-used phrases like “self-esteem” and “treat yo self” for me to take it too seriously. I figured if there was something I didn’t care for in myself it was my problem to deal with. I didn’t see how it affected anyone else.

Brene Brown, the contemporary foremost authority on shame and vulnerability research, has studied and interviewed countless individuals on topics surrounding vulnerability, shame, and resilience. Do you know the number one common trait she found in people who live “wholeheartedly” as she calls it? Those rare people she discovered who lead their lives from a place of worthiness and compassion for themselves and others? Obviously, they must have lead lives of privilege, they couldn’t have known the dark holes of mistakes or years wasted in anguish over something. Was it that they were well-liked, or made a certain amount of money? None of the above. These people who lead shame-resistant lives were just as likely to have made large-scale mistakes, experience heartache and failure, and every other marker for difficulty as everyone else interviewed. The only difference? They believed they were worthy of love and connection. That’s it.

Hold up. So she is telling me that if I want live “wholeheartedly”, I don’t have to change a single thing about myself. I could go to bed tonight with all my annoying habits, my big nose, my past regrets, and wake up – with no changes! – and experience the deepest of human connections, the truest of human love, the kind of unencumbered joy that comes with no strings attached? Every day for the rest of my life? The only thing keeping me from my best life is my belief that those feelings aren’t for people like me?

Pretty much. Well, with the caveat that I would need to let go of all the baggage that comes with a lifetime of self-loathing overnight (insert Brene maniacally laughing as she knows she’s got my attention but I have no idea how much courage this is going to take).

Um. Ok? But still…why does loving myself matter so much?

Let’s pretend for a minute that I grew up in a family where sports were super important and I always really wanted to be good at sports but after a few painful experiences in middle school, I let go of that dream. There are many routes I could take, but let’s say that I decide that even if I’m not on a team, at least I can stay relevant by being in the know about sports. All my clothes proclaim my favorite teams. I always know the stats on the game and it’s my go-to topic of conversation. I don’t realize it, but I’m hustling for my worth and for my place in my tribe. I’m hustling because I don’t believe I’m enough without sports.

Ok, fine, you say. So you’re insecure about sports and you like to catch the game after work, there are worse things in life.

Sure. But it doesn’t end there. There are a lot of areas where this will haunt me throughout life. What about in college, how do I act every time I meet an athletic person? Hustling. How do I act when I meet someone who is bad at sports? I probably spit my own self-judgement right in their face. Hustling. Lastly, what if I have a child who reflects the part I hate the most about myself back at me. What if they try out for sports and they are “that” same kid that I was? Hustling. It’s very hard for me to offer compassion to that child when I’ve never extended it to myself for the exact same thing. And this time, my child is going to learn to hustle too.

Maybe it’s not sports for you – maybe it’s stretch marks, impatience, maybe you were a bully for years, maybe it’s a harsh internal dialogue from years of emotional abuse. Whatever it is, it doesn’t just affect you.

The first thing you can do is become aware of what you loathe in yourself. Judgement is a great signal for this because when we judge someone else it is almost always because we are trying to distance ourselves from something we are afraid of or dislike about ourselves. Do you judge that woman who is always late to work meetings because as a child it was instilled in you that being late it was a sign of laziness? What does your internal dialogue look like when you are running late? How about that bad habit you can’t get on top of? How do you respond when you see someone else exhibiting that same habit you hate? How about when your child expresses anxiety about a situation and you tell them to stop being a baby? How do you respond when you feel vulnerable or weak in a situation?

It’s important in these times when you realize how deep the well of frustration with yourself may run, to take a deep breath and try to suspend judgement for yourself. Get curious. Instead of judging yourself – ask yourself why you are acting or feeling this way? It’s a little scary, right? If I stop hating the things I hate about myself – even for a second, won’t I just keep doing that thing forever? Isn’t it the hatred and loathing that motivates me to be my best self?

The answer is a resounding “no”. When has hatred or anger ever inspired someone to change for the better? We can easily hear how ridiculous this sounds for relationships, yet we don’t apply it for our own personal relationship with yours truly. As long as you resist the things you hate and fear the most about yourself, you can’t really look at them. When you hold the things you loathe about yourself in judgement and shame, they are too rigid and condemning to conquer. Holding your self-hatred in compassion and understanding allows those rigid sharp edges to relax ever-so slightly. For the first time maybe we can acknowledge that we screwed up but we aren’t A screw-up. Maybe we can admit that while, yes, we knew better, we are still human. Maybe we can start to believe that we are still worthy of love and the best experiences life has to offer – even if we can’t offer that love to ourselves in every aspect just yet.

Learning to love ourselves is critical in meditation for another reason. Meditation is bringing us into the present, it’s making us aware of our true nature. Most of our self-loathing, however, is rooted in the past. Whether it was a bad experience, or endlessly wishing you could get back to your “ideal weight”, whatever it might be, your self-loathing isn’t serving this moment. Releasing your self-loathing allows you to fully explore the present moment, experience it, un-strangled by tendrils from the past.

Despite what I said earlier, learning to love yourself isn’t going to be an overnight process. But maybe tomorrow you can become aware of ways that you could eventually love yourself more. Maybe you’ll be inspired to intend to love yourself someday, which is fine. Take it one step, one situation, one thought at a time. And plan on mistakes and mess-ups and learning to love yourself through them along the way. You might find that clearing out all the baggage and festering insecurity brought on by self-loathing leaves behind deep, cavernous scars with just the right environment to become the birthplace of deeper relationships, more connection, more love, and deeper peace than you could have ever imagined.

-Alicia