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It was the hardest winter in the sixty-plus year history of our family ranch. Record rains, snow and freezing weather many times from December through early March. The extremely abnormal weather put a big stress on the pregnant mama cow’s right at the time they were ready to give birth.

We had several cows with newborns that needed a stay at “Hotel Corral” where they had shelter, extra hay and room service (high protein grass pellets) delivered in the morning by yours truly. We had four calves who lost their mothers from complications pre-or-post birth and a young first-calf heifer who we had to help give birth, pulling the calf as she pushed. Its head was too big and both could have died. Thankfully they are doing great now.

I helped bottle feed the calves, massage them, encourage them to walk and love them. Being in close relationship, I began to recognize the unique soul signature of each calf, cow or bull just like I see my dog and humans.

It was emotionally hard to witness them suffer, while doing all we could to help. It brought up a lot of questions for me. I’ve always felt good about the way our family raises cattle organically, the old-fashioned way. Lots of room to roam, graze and in winter hay cut from our own non-chemically treated fields.

Now I was asking myself uncomfortable questions. What is my relationship with eating meat? How did humans become so detached from the source of their food? And what is my soul agreement with each of the calves who I know are being raised to be someone’s dinner in a couple of years?

Hard realities for a cattle rancher’s daughter to look at after being away from it for 25 years. I bonded and had a soulful relationship with each of these calves. My soul agreement was to love them and care for them while learning the signs of health and illness. These vulnerable orphans taught me about bonding, showed me what their souls were interested in experiencing by being born as a cow or bull, and helped me surrender, what is out of my control, a little more.

I used my energy tools to give healing to each of the calves and their mamas. I became particularly attached to a calf I named Teardrop, whose mom died when he was four days old.  On his white face, he had a little black teardrop mark by his right eye (he’s pictured in this post).

It is a rare occurrence to have a bottle-fed-calf at our ranch. We aren’t set-up for it long-term. So Dad ran an ad on craigslist to find someone interested in bottle calves, typically it’s a 4H kid. I prayed that whoever would come for the bottle calves would give them a good home.

The next day a couple came out to take a look at Teardrop and decided to take his buddy too. They have a big cattle ranch in Montana (not a feed lot) with mother cows who had lost calves. They planned to match these calves up with new mamas, using the method my grandpa used long ago to get the mother cows to accept a calf that isn’t their own.

While I know, their ultimate fate hasn’t improved, this is the best possible scenario for the days they get to enjoy being a soul in a calf’s body. As I explore my soul agreements with animals and that responsibility, I am learning from my ranch experiences that even if my encounter is brief, I have an opportunity to honor each unique soul and offer love.

Life throws us obstacles, bumps that come out of nowhere.  The goal is to stay loose enough to adjust to the changes and centered enough to keep in control when the shit hits the fan.  When the ground beneath us moves so fast that it’s hard to focus, we have to tune into our intuitive knowing, stay in that controlled out-of-control state.

Skiing and snowboarding teach us this flexibility.  If you want to enjoy your journey downhill there’s no option but to be 100% present; aligned body-mind-spirit.  Adjust to the shifting terrain, in the moment.

Our core (third chakra), center-of-gravity is in the bliss zone, balanced with velocity, snow and the contour of the mountain.  When another skier crosses our path, a mogul, rock or tree faces us, we turn but we don’t turn permanently away from our intended path.  We take a turn that avoids collision and another turn that returns us to our direction of choice.

In the moment we may recognize that our chosen path is not taking us in a direction that is going to bring us pleasure, success or good circumstances, so we permanently redirect our course. If we don’t foresee the need to turn or the obstacle throws us out of our center we’ll crash.  Varying degrees of wipeout occur, depending on how tuned-in we were to our body and our surroundings.

We make graceful turns when we are centered in our truth, tuned-in to our surroundings and willing to adjust course when the flow points us in a different direction.  Practicing mediation tools each day gives us this core strength when faced with any challenge. To do this we:

  • Take the time early in the day to clear our mind (sixth chakra) of the past and other people’s energy or agendas.
  • Ground (root chakra) our energy in the present day.
  • Call any of our scattered energy back to ourselves and visualized it filling every cell of our body.

Being grounded and saturated in our true essence is the bliss zone.  It allows us to be present for the obstacles in life and to navigate them without feeling as much trauma. It feels aligned, peaceful and full of possibility.  Taking responsibility for our life by owning our energy space teaches us that we can keep our focus yet be flexible enough to make graceful turns.

Last Friday at our family ranch, I stretched out on the grass in a cow pasture looking up at the pale blue sky.  Doing nothing but listening to the sounds of birds, bugs, gurgling water and a breeze gently blowing in the trees.  The moment of rest and nothingness penetrated my soul.  It dropped me into a place of awareness of all the distractions I’d been carrying in my body and mind from the psychic density of living in the city and the busyness of day-to-day activity.  It felt as if the earth instantly absorbed the entire disturbance that had been filling my mind and the tension in my body.

I found a deep inner-peace and gratitude for the beauty, raw ciaos and simplicity of plant and animal life.  It made me think of our human tendency to seek purpose.  In the desire to find some greater meaning in life, we believe the cultural programming that our purpose is outside of us, something we do, some function we fulfill in the world. 

Those things that make us feel joy tend to be attributed the label of our purpose: creative arts, music, writing, activities that have an element of service to others. We want to clearly see what our purpose is and we want it to be fixed, one thing for our entire lifetime.  When we experience purpose for awhile through some activity like being a parent, or working on a creative project, then that stage of our life comes to transition or completion; we feel a sense of meaninglessness or lack of purpose again.  The self questioning begins.  

We struggle with a desire to know our purpose and want a life focus that is guaranteed to give us a sense of fulfillment.  We are haunted with a subtle yet chronic dissatisfaction and sense of yearning, feeling unfulfilled, looking for this purpose outside of ourselves.  We decide that we are doing the wrong job or in the wrong relationship because we don’t feel satisfied.  We give our power to this concept of finding a purpose beyond simply living.  We feel disappointment and self-judgment that we haven’t figured it out yet. 

It appears from the outside that other people have figured it out.  We see the bright light of successful athletes, actors, writers, politicians, healers, musicians.  We believe that they have a sense of purpose and are at peace because they are living their dream.  Yet it is an illusion. Those in these positions that venture to reveal their humanity will confess they still question their purpose.

We have been sold a collective lie, a belief that if we discover something to do that is our purpose we will feel forever fulfilled and at peace.  But the source of fulfillment and inner-peace isn’t a job or a relationship; it’s in our approach to every day activity. 

While I sat in the pasture noticing the cattle grazing, birds soaring and little bugs foraging for food, I realized that they were at peace with simply eating, drinking, sleeping and creating a nest. They didn’t experience dissatisfaction.  There was no belief that something out in the future, some bit of insight or self-awareness that they hadn’t figured out yet was going to make them perpetually feel better.

A more satisfying focus of our energy, than this illusive question of purpose, is identifying what creates a sense of meaningfulness in our lives. Here are some possibilities to contemplate:

  • Connecting with others through conversation and touch
  • Creative expression and sharing our creations with others
  • Having interests that keep us curious to know more
  • Setting goals that are attainable
  • Teaching, parenting, learning, nurturing
  • Knowing we have friends to call on when in need
  • Spending time outdoors or creating a beautiful sanctuary in our home

The belief that we haven’t figured out or are not living our purpose, denies our power to create a meaningful life.  It leads us to focus on people or activities outside of ourselves that we think are to blame for our lack of satisfaction and to judge ourselves.  The deeper need behind the quest to find our life purpose is our desire for fulfillment.  Sustainable inner-peace comes from choosing what inspires, expands and energizes us day-to-day.

Snowboarding and skiing exercise the same muscles we use to access our intuition.  Here are five ways that they can contribute clarity to other areas of your life:   

1) Align with Your YES

Flying downhill at high speed with gravity as your motor, split second decisions are your power.  Every turn, every choice of direction is an inner yes that aligns you with the mountain and puts a smile on your face.  When your choices align with your yes they bring pleasure.  Your intuition is validated and responds by informing you with increasing speed and accuracy.

2) Wipeout Prevention

To survive and stay injury free skiing you must pay attention and be present in the moment.  The consequence of having your mind on anything but what you are doing is painful. The same is true when acting on your inner-guidance.  Being distracted muddles your perception, often with painful results.

3) Give Your Analyzer a Break

Snowboarding connects you with your inner child.  As a kid you didn’t spend so much time analyzing life. You were curious, playful and stuck your tongue out to taste the falling snow.   Trusting your intuition requires that you approach life with child like openness to non-linear answers.

4) Read Your Surroundings

Navigation of the slopes includes maintaining awareness of the skiers around you.  A portion of your consciousness is engaged in quickly reading what those in your path will do next to prevent collision.  Your intuitive guidance is meant to help you navigate life through perception of how those around you are behaving. Then direct your life in a way that stays on course and avoids negative impact.

5) Move Forward in Whiteout Conditions

When there’s poor visibility, flat light or blizzard conditions, the way to stay injury free is to relax your body, trust its perception and response to the terrain.  If you try to be in physical control rather than flow, your body will be stiff when you hit a bump, launching you in an unintended direction.  When you strain to see what is not ready to be seen you meet whiteout conditions.  Relaxation of control is required for supportive information to flow.

So get out there and rip it up! Your body and soul will thank you.

Divine Provision

Natalie —  September 15, 2010 — Leave a comment

Last summer I was at a yoga retreat and campout in Estes Park, Colorado.  After my first morning of yoga I wasn’t quite ready to be done with the meditative time from savasana. I walked down to the river, rolled out my yoga mat and sat in silence.  My body and spirit were conflicted, it was noon and I needed nourishment.  I considered walking back to my tent to get an apple, but decided my physical hunger wasn’t as important as my need to listen to Spirit.  My life was in transition.  I watched clear water ripple over the river’s rocky bottom, releasing desire, allowing my mind to rest in the space that had been created from stretching.  Then I laid back and looked up into the sky and treetops.  Camouflaged among the leaves of a tree I noticed an apple.  I sat up in amazement, suddenly seeing apples all around me on the ground.  What a joy!  I picked a ripe apple from the tree and ate before returning to meditation.

My spirit had found its way to the one particular spot by the river where its needs could be met without distractions from my body’s hunger.  The apple tree was my everyday miracle.  It made me ponder how often I’ve been blind to what was being offered when it was right in front of my face.  It renewed my faith in listening to my inner guidance and reminded me of the importance of taking care of both physical and spiritual bodies.  

This summer I have been on another journey, this one farther away from home, a longer cycle of listening to my inner guidance and trusting the divine mystery.  Along the way I have experienced a sense of universal support in the form of beautiful places to rest my head at night, animal and bird messengers, unexpected connections and out of the ordinary topics of conversation with strangers.  In parallel, there have been emotionally and financially challenging events, the death of an old family friend, a dog fight, expensive car repairs and the dynamics of spending time close to family.  Each an opportunity to respond with fear or love, to use the stirred-up energy to heal or feel wounded.

On the land where I’m house sitting, surrounded by misty forest, there are two apple trees.  The fruit is not quite ready but I can see that it will be ripe soon.  The apples remind me to notice life’s blessings and receive its nourishment.  When I am on the path, choosing love, the universe provides for my needs in the most simple and magical ways.

The river of life is full of furious currents, meandering streams and quiet eddies.  Some of us are better at staying busy in the torrent, others prefer relaxing into the flow of everyday life, but we all struggle with moments of feeling stuck.  An eddy is a spot on the side of the river where the water gets caught in a loop, holding onto leaves and other debris.  A period in our life when we feel blocked from forward movement; it seems we keep having the same experience, one that is not fulfilling.  We may feel like some life circumstance is forcing us to wait and we have to endure, or that we’ve tried everything and we don’t know how to create a different experience.  This can trigger coping mechanisms, activities that help us check-out to escape from the awareness of our unhappiness.  We may watch too much TV, drink or generate some drama to distract us from the reality of what is occurring under the surface in our lives. 

We have the power within to break free from stuck patterns and return to the flow of the river.  While our outside circumstances may not change, we always have an option of shifting our response to them.  A few moments of gentle focus on the area in our life where we feel stuck can begin to create a current that pulls us back out into the stream.  This flow can be generated through a simple meditative exercise. 

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.  Imagine yourself with a solid connection between the base of your spine and the center of the earth.  Visualize the bubble of energy, three-feet-in-each-direction around your body, your aura, containing only your energy.  Let any energy that is not you release down the cord connecting you to the center of the earth.  From this point of owning your space, consider the area where you feel stuck and ask your intuitive guidance for insight into a next step.  It likely will be something small and seemingly in consequential.  Like the butterfly effect metaphor, change as gentle as the flap of butterfly wings can create a hurricane on the other side of the world. 

Intentional action is the key to creating larger transformation in our lives.  Facing our subconscious blocks and resistance is a very tricky topic. We are responsible for creating happiness in our own lives but that doesn’t mean we’ve had examples of how to do it.  We seek to form stronger access to our intuition to improve our awareness of what creates joy and a sense of flow in the river of our life.  The challenge we face in learning to commune with our inner truth is recognition of the times we have betrayed ourselves, staying stuck in the eddy by tuning out.  Tuning-in to our soul’s guidance invites new energy and positive flow.

Moving Forward

Natalie —  July 2, 2010 — 7 Comments

At times I get stuck in a pattern of belief that my mind can derive the bottom-line truth in a given situation.  Yet my brain is just a measuring device for the sensory messages it receives from my body.  The body sends messages that are interpreted by the mind through the senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste.  The mind takes these bits of information makes a conclusion, and then asks us to do something about it.  The spirit uses different points of reference to calculate the best way to move forward.  Our intuitive guidance system taps into a non-physical knowledge that can also lead us safely through life experiences. 

Last weekend I was climbing Mt Yale, a 14,000 foot summit in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  Hiking at altitude creates sensations in my body that are interpreted by my brain as repetitive signals to “stop, turn back.”  The lack of oxygen and steep terrain challenge my lungs, muscles and circulatory system with forms of resistance that feel life threatening.  I hike at high-altitude to experience a sense of mind or over matter, to somehow prove my mind wrong by overriding its interpretations with a higher truth.  I know I can do it.  I know I will survive. 

On the ascent I can briefly distract my mind with the sight of aspen and pine trees, the sound of the gushing glacier-melt creek, the smell of wildflowers and conversations with my friend.  Yet the distraction is always temporary as my mind continues to want to regain control of the situation.  Hiking Mt Yale I was conscious of my spirit experiencing the hike.  When my body began to feel exhausted and my vision was a bit dulled, to the point where I didn’t see every rock on the trail, instead of feeling fearful that I would stumble, I noticed my spirit was guiding me.  I saw with clarity the parallel existence of how my mind interprets its experience beside how my spirit interprets the experience.  Both are equally capable of providing guidance that keeps me safe.  The difference is that when I’m listening to my spirit it is not concerned about reaching the summit or measuring the energy left in my physical body relative to what is required to get me to where I need to go.  My spirit is present in the moment.  My spirit says, “I am moving forward.  I will keep moving forward.  I want to move forward.”  

Mind-body measurement of our experience is 100% in the physical/material realm.  The challenge is that the mind does not know how to interpret intuitive information.  If the message it’s receiving from the body contradicts intuitive guidance the mind goes to battle with spirit and tries to override the spiritual knowing in an act of physical self-preservation.  The mind does not know how to interpret the emotional indicators beyond the physical sensations they generate, pain or pleasure. 

Next time you notice that your mental and spiritual guidance are in conflict, acknowledge both the indicators from your physical body experience and what you know intuitively.  Let this awareness of the source of data help break gridlock that can keep you stuck.  The mind is not the final truth.  It is one source of information available to you.  Intuition offers insight that can help us move forward when the mind is resistant.

In today’s world the analytical mind is king while trusting intuition is judged as emotional and subjective.   This cerebral approach to life attempts to figure things out and feel in control.  Recent natural and man-made disasters have drawn to our attention the reality that humans do not have control over planet Earth.  We can forecast the weather and volcanic eruptions, build dykes to protect us from tidal changes and use science to perform feats such as drilling for oil at great depths of the ocean, but this does not put us in control of the forces of nature.  As long as we are not personally impacted by a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or tsunami we are able to live in denial, believing that technology will save us from the realities of our environment.  Our belief in science has distracted us from true intuitive power that comes with alignment to the vibration of the Earth.

The human body is amazing in its capacity to understand and process an exceptional quantity of data.   We have unintentionally detached from our primal-sensory nature through educational programming that validates the analytical mind combined with the many conveniences science and technology provide.  Opportunities to touch the Earth and feel its pulse are not part of our daily lifestyle.  Because of this we’ve lost contact with a facet of our intuitive capacity, experiencing a sense of separation from Mother Nature.  When we take time to be in non-manmade environments we increase our access to inner guidance.  A hike, mountain bike ride or work in the garden, saturate the visual auditory and sensory facilities with a neutral form of energy.  Nature is chaotic and extremely organized in a material as well as spiritual sense.  This reminds us of the invisible aspects of our Self. 

By immersing in the Earth’s vibration we tune-in to a primal side of our human nature.  The aspect of our energy that can sense when lightening is about to strike, as the hair on our arms stands on end.  In the city we are swallowed up in a stream of news, whether it is fact, fiction or entertainment, it draws our attention away from our inner guidance.  It keeps our focus pointed externally rather than internally.  Mother Nature is the ultimate cleanser of psychic space.  Her wild wide-open spaces download the information inundation that has clogged our receptors with predominantly useless data.  The simple act of being in nature, regardless of the activity or inactivity of our body, can be an intentional form of meditation.  When we see a hawk, daisy or the bark on an aspen tree we presence ourselves to beauty, resilience and simplicity. 

The fire hose of data constantly inundating our life can be exhausting and overwhelming.  It makes us want to crawl back into our shell, tune-out, take a break.  The most vibrant place to take that break is in Mother Nature.  Connection to the Earth’s vibration helps us align to the part of ourselves that is chronically being overridden by an analytical minded environment.  Mother Nature offers us a healing of sensory overload and provides clearer access to our inner guidance.  Let us receive her gift.