Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Vulnerability & Humility in the Fallow Field

The days shorten, the darkness grows. We are at the end of harvest season. The fields lay fallow. We prepare for the long winter. After the joy of a fruitful harvest, we may look upon the barren fields longing for more. Peering deeper we recognize that the upcoming winter is a place of dormant possibility. As we navigate through the barren darkness, we trust that there is a spring no matter how far away it seems. We know that to get to spring we must meet our fears. And, this is a frightening prospect.

Lately there is a lot that scares me. I’ve been through some blighted times. The crops from the bountiful harvest seem long gone. Will I ever have the courage to choose new seeds and sustenance to sow a new field of plenty? I guess that is where compassion comes in. With humility and vulnerability we are asked to really look at what remains in our seemingly barren field — the place of our suffering. Compassion invites us to see our world differently. Standing knee deep in mud created by cold autumn rains, we need to decide how we will reply.

Compassion doesn’t ask for much — just a retooling of our life. It demands that we become wide open — vulnerable and humble. Compassion doesn’t require much — it asks that we stop sleepwalking through the day. Compassion doesn’t whisper; it shouts, “wake up, be alert, be alive — become totally aware of your suffering and the suffering of others.” Compassion does not stop there. It asks for our awakened heart to soothe suffering as it shine the light on a new way.

Vulnerable we open our self to suffering however it presents itself. We expose our heart to another not knowing how the other will respond or react to our actions. We fearlessly dig into the ground of our suffering open to discovering what rot lays at the root of our anguish. With vulnerability we carefully compost the decay. With courage, we own the underside of our life while acknowledging how we have shackled our self to suffering.

Compassion asks that we not suffer alone. Although we do not arrogantly share our perceived victimization, we invite others to be with us. They lift us up when we are unable to lift our self. And, in that hand up we see a way through suffering. In accepting the hand of another we experience humility. We own our humanness by realizing that our suffering does not make us better or worse than another. Suffering is a thread that weaves through our shared humanity. Suffering calls us to our most authentic, compassionate self. 

When we are vulnerable and humble, the binds of suffering loosen. Working beneath the loosened binds, Compassion strengthens our connections; we recognize that we are community. In a communal gathering, the light of understanding shines brightly upon the mangled, congested blight of suffering. With combined strength and courage, we uproot suffering. Collectively we work the compost created from suffering into our soil. 

Compost fortifying the soil, we wait patiently for the spring planting to arrive. Compassion powers our patience for we know that when spring arrives we will sow the seeds of love and possibility. Suffering may bring us together, but Compassion weaves us together. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition. Her books are A Constellation of Connections: Contemplative Relationships and Engaging Compassion Through Intent & Action. Contact Vanessa

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How to Build a Compassion Bridge with Your Intent & Action

Build a bridge across uncertainty by digging into what you believe and what I believe without judging or assuming. Let’s reach out with the intent to understand one another while honoring one another’s right to non-violently disagree. 

Build a bridge across divisiveness by deeply anchoring into our humanness — those parts of us that we hold in common and that are powered by compassion. Let’s acknowledge our fears and judgments that stop us from being a welcoming presence of community.

Build a bridge across mistrust by changing the “I am out to get you” culture to an “I am listening to understand” one. Let’s withhold judgment, not defend our positions, and realize that maybe we aren’t 100% right and the other 100% wrong. 

Build a bridge across vested interest by recognizing that we do not need to have everything to live in abundance — that there is enough for all. Let’s recognize the wrongness of our fear that sharing might trigger scarcity in our life; instead, let’s create a world where we might not have everything but everyone has enough. 

Build a bridge across suffering by agreeing that when we suffer it isn’t because of personal frailty or because we deserve it. Let’s own our personal darkness so that we can shine the light of compassion on the darkness of suffering — ours, another’s, and the collective suffering. 

Bridge across fractured souls by realizing that our wounds are what separate us — our suffering blinds us to the suffering of others. Let’s empower our healing hearts and touch one another with our compassionate souls.

Build a bridge across the possible by living with courage and curious daring — be our best self while encouraging others to be theirs. Let’s stop limiting who we are and what we can accomplish through compassion. Let’s believe that the impossible just might be possible when we work together.  

Build a bridge of intent and action across the illusions that separates us by creating a new paradigm of compassion where nothing is loss and everything is gained. Let’s accept that on the bridge our spirit is never diminished, our suffering is alleviated, and we live abundantly because compassion is our lived experience.

Create a daring paradigm of compassion by building a bridge of intent and action. Join the 5-week course beginning October 16: register online — charterforcompassioninstitute.org/courses/53/about

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com 

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How to Create a Cable of Peace

I often wake around 3:38 a.m. On Monday morning I grabbed my phone to see the time (3:38 a.m.) and saw a horrific ABC news notification — 12 people gunned down in Las Vegas. Before I left the house at 6:30 a.m. the number had climbed to over 20 people. By the time the number reached 50+ victims, I was in empathy overload. I was paralyzed and unable to access my inner peace. I was overwhelmed by my sorrow-filled disbelief and the grief that shattered many connections in the peace cable of the collective. I felt the individual strands shred and the weave of the collective peace cable loosen as many of us experience empathy overload.

Later, after the pressure of my empathy overload was relieved, I reflected on both the violence perpetrated and my reaction to it. It was humbling, and a bit embarrassing, how unaware I was  — how caught I became in the escalating chaotic uncertainty. By anchoring in the moment, I was able to feel how the upheaval obscured, and in some cases, severed fragile connections to peace. 

I found myself wondering, “How do we strengthen our connection, individually and collectively, to peace? How do we stop getting carried away in the maelstrom?” The answer to both questions begins with the awareness that fear thickened fingers are unable to weave a cable of peace into the collective consciousness. When we release the fear, our spirit fingers, no longer swollen, become nimble enough to weave strands, ours and others, together into a cable of peace. 

Peace starts with each of us — with our own fragile thread. Individual strands cannot be woven into a strong cable of peace unless we resolve the unsettled feelings within our self. We resuscitate peace by admitting our feelings of discord and angst. We do not stop with the identification of fears that obliterate our peace. We follow discord to its roots. We identify what is fueling our uncertainty and preventing us from being peace. 

Discovering the roots of uncertainty and fear requires contemplative practice — those activities that focus our attention on the awareness of the sacred-extraordinary in our life. We might sit quietly, journal, go for a run, practice yoga — the list is an endless as your imagination. These activities help us enter the silent zone of clarity. Here we name the roots of our uncertainty and search for ways to release the tension in our personal strand of peace. Only when our strand is relaxed can we begin to weave it with others.

Keeping connected to peace requires mindful awareness. When we name what is stretching us beyond endurance, we identify what causes minute breaks in our strands and the threads of others. With this awareness, we move from reaction to response. Each time we respond, our power knits together the tattered ends of our individual strand. Strand repaired, our peace twines with the strands of others. The collective cable powers peace in an uncertain world. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa.

 Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to Live with Compassion: Filling the Potholes

What would happen if we allowed compassion to fill our potholes?
I am a recovering fixer. You know, that person who jumps in to fill the potholes of another’s suffering. Unfortunately as I fixer, I am not always good at choosing the best materials for filling the potholes of another person.

Being in recovery means that I acknowledge my feelings of empathy while not allowing them to overwhelm me. I no longer get stuck in the fear-heavy emotions that rage at me. Instead I am aware of the angst, the suffering in those who surround me. I recognize how I get triggered. 

As long as I don’t get mired in the heavy feelings of another, my awareness powers me to be compassion’s presence. With my support but without my interference, I can let the other choose the best materials to fill their potholes. 

You see, I no longer even supervise the filling of those potholes. My only role, no matter how difficult it is for me, is to support another. Maybe I will hold that bucket of hot compassion filler or hand them a cool refreshing drink of compassion. I know that no matter what, the suffering is tied to their lesson. And, it is their task, not mine, to learn it. And in learning it, fill their pothole with compassion.

They fill the pothole — not me. Maybe they get some courage to do so by my compassionate presence. But, that is all. I don’t do the “heavy lifting,” no matter how much I want to. Through all of this my mantra is, “It not my right, not my role, and certainly not my responsibility to fix the rough patch of another.”

The only potholes that I am responsible for filling are my own. It is my right and my role to heal those gaping holes in the lane that I travel. I can smooth the jagged corners of my sorrow and fill those uneven wounds of suffering with the healing balm of compassion. I do not even fix myself — I  meet my challenging and learn my life lessons. I am better for the experience of suffering

Only as I fill the potholes of my life, can I be free to be me — my best, authentic self. Only when I allow others to fill their potholes, can they become their best authentic self. Together we engage a life that is not about fixing one another or the world. It is about being our best, authentic self as we navigate our life lane. We grow our compassion by filling our holes of suffering. In doing so, our compassion spills into the lives of our fellow sojourners. 

So, yeah, I am a recovering fixer. I am going to fill the potholes in my lane and pave a compassionate life. Because I finally understand that in compassionately healing myself, I  move from fixer to empower-er on this road of compassionate living. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Lovingkindness Of An Intimate Stranger

I am that person who starts conversations with strangers. As I stand in a long check out line, I feel the tension rise when out of my mouth pops a conversation starter. Walking down the street, I spontaneously compliment someone on their clothes, hair style, or smile. Those words of engagement are often uttered before I even recognize the precursor thought. My interactions are based upon the beliefs that we are all part of creation — that is is our right and responsibility to share joy with one another. 

It wasn’t until last week that I really understood on a deep soul level the impact the lovingkindness one stranger to another. Not once, not twice, but three times I was the recipient of this kind of compassionate engagement. During those interactions, someone connected heart to heart to me. The words they uttered shifted my perception of myself in the moment as well as challenged the way that I normally see myself. 

All too often, we look at another and draw conclusions about how and what they think about us. We interpret their expression positively and negatively based upon many nonverbal factors. When we are anchored in the moment, we are better able to identify accurately their reactions to us. But, mired in our own emotional upheaval, we may make assumptions and judgments. What they actually think about us may be vastly different than our interpretation. We feel a critical harshness that does not exist as we bump against illusions. 

Our illusions are not the only ones that prevent us from fully engaging in what is real. We might correctly interpret the judgment of another and believe that the lens they use to view us provides an undistorted view of our authentic self. We fail to realize that their judgments and assumptions power the illusion of who they think we are. Instead of buying into the illusion they have spun, our challenge is to debunk the illusion by being our authentic self.  

A co-presenter once asked me why we allow one bad review to negate the nine excellent ones. Maybe it is easier to believe the critical illusion than to accept the beauty of our own power. Maybe we are afraid to step into the light of our authentic self and accept the responsibility of being the change agent we are. If we accept the responsibility inherent in the beauty of our authentic being, we gain the ability to transform not only our self but also each person we touch. 

That is exactly what happened to me. I connected to those three people heart to heart, authentic self to authentic self. Less worried about how I might perceive them, they reaching out with lovingkindness. Their compassion weaved through our soul to soul connection. Our authentic spirits twined together if only for a moment. Our spirits levitated as my compassion responded by dancing across the twining of our spirit. The power of compassion pulsed across our momentary connection.

Our joint compassion opened the gateway to the sacred-extraordinary. While our mingling did not bring about world peace — that we know — it transformed two hearts in that moment. Both of us shone with the glory of compassion. In the after moments, the iridescent sparkleys of compassion continued to dance through us crossing our connection, and bursting into the world. 

Brief yet powerful connections with the intimate stranger change us. We may never know the depth of suffering in another — the origin of their agony — but that is not necessary. As compassion warriors we need not know the why, how, or even if of another’s suffering. We need only be willing emissaries of lovingkindness who seed compassion wherever we go while not being attached to what grows. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Neural Synchrony™ facilitator, Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa.

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to Become Us: The Factors Behind the Facts

It is everywhere. Those subtle nudges to get us to think and act in certain ways. When we do not agree, others attempt to shame us. Instead of living from our authentic core, guilt seeps into the cracks of our being. Regret at our inability to conform powers the fear that we are wrong. We may even be embarrassed about who we are. None of this is because we have done anything wrong. It is because we do not agree with a conclusion another person or group has made about a series of facts.

To live prophetically, you’ve got to be questioning and looking at factors behind the facts. You’ve got to be aware that there are contradictions, says Thomas Merton. This quote has been resonating with me more and more. While questioning and looking at the factors behind the facts might not make me the most popular person, I cannot seem to stop. This close examination is my way of getting the greatest understanding of someone’s conclusion.

So, when someone tells me that we live in the safest time ever, I wonder if that is really true. When this same person tells me that if I do not believe his series of facts that I have been brainwashed into believing that we live in dangerous times, I recognize the attempt to shame me into believing as he does. This triggers a deeper digging into the factors behind his facts. 

I begin with the word trigger word brainwash. I feel my entire being pulling in. Maybe I have been hoodwinked into believing something that is untrue. If I do not feel safe, what is the matter with me? So, I feel ashamed that once again, I just cannot behind the party line. 

Next, I get off the shame train as I look at the factors behind the facts. When I really look at the proclamation, I discover that the foundation is created by the number of deaths due to war and gun violence. His safety had nothing to do with an increase in poverty, a reduction in wages, and skyrocketing housing costs. These are, for me, basic safety indicators. So, while I may be safe from war and gun violence, I am not feeling safe based upon my chief indicators of safety. 

The factors behind the facts. Both of us come to very different conclusions about safety based upon the factors we use to come to our conclusion. Who is right? Both of us or neither. There is probably a third or fourth or fifth person who bases their understanding of safety on another set of factors. 

Each of us, as individuals and communities, have our own personal experience. We are drawn to factors that prove our personal reality. This reality holds up to the right kind of scrutiny, but when someone has a different set of factors, holes are poked into the reality. Peering through the holes, we are asked to reassess what we believe to be true. 

Instead of becoming defensive, we compassionately listen to the conclusion while actively searching for the factors behind the facts. We reassess what we believe without engaging our feelings of being threatened and moving into attack mode. We take care not to accuse — saying “you’ve been brainwashed,” “you are ignorant,” or others phrases that are meant to shame another into believing what we believe. 

Pushing people into believing as we do creates a unstable, homogenous belief system. No longer diverse, we lose opportunities to evolve into our most authentic self and allow others to become their most authentic self. At best we, as community, maintain the status quo. At worst, we devolve as individuals and community.

What if instead of shaming someone, we dialogued compassionately? What if instead of poking holes in the reality of another, we listened compassionately with the intent to understand? What if we were less invested in having someone be a carbon copy of us and more invested in being our authentic best? Through this wide openness transformation would flood. We would discover exactly what factors are informing our facts and the facts of another. 

We are prophetic. Our words, thoughts, and actions foretell our future. Not in the psychic way of knowing when you will meet the man of your dreams. No, in the way that our whole being — body/mind/spirit/heart — creates a future of love and compassion. Through engaged compassion, our factors do not create a world in which everyone is a brainwashed cloned. Through our factors we celebrate differences of opinion. Our individual and collective factors behind the facts create a pathway to evolution of ourself and the collective. 

No more shaming. No more brainwashing.  We invite other to join us on this journey of discovering the factors that inform the facts. On this pathway we let go of forcing another to be like us. We live in the power of a widely diverse, accepting world filled not of others but of us. 

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa @ vanessa@intentandaction.com 

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fear’s Antidote: Curious Daring

Fear is so pervasive that I can feel its oily thickness, smell its acrid odor, taste its bile. We live in a time that is driven by fear-filled reactions. So overwhelmed, we are unable to take that first step of hope. 

Not too long ago, I made a decision to limit the amount of news that I watch. Maybe if I stop hearing about the skyrocketing murder rate in the city, bigotry-spurred violence in the nation, the damage of storms precipitated by climate change, and the political instability in the world, I will be able to reignite my ember of courage and incinerate the pervasive fear growing in my core.

A quiet voice inside gently whispers, “Limit what you watch, but do not run and hide from reality. Know that to burrow into your self is to give into your fear.”

Turning to my Bridge of Intent & Action (found in Engaging Compassion Through Intent and Action) I recommit to the Third Pillar: Living With Curious Daring. The Pillar reminds me that my intent is not to live in a world free of fear; rather, it spurs me to live the conundrum of acknowledging my fear while being curiously daring in an uncertain world. This is the gateway of my transformation.

Walking across the Bridge of Intent & Action with curious daring requires that I do not run from fear. I do not stand still and get stuck in its sticky web of hopelessness either. I objectively acknowledge my fear. I look for the truth within the fear and identify how the seeds of my reactions create a monster of paranoid illusion. 

Only when I discover the truth behind the fear can I objectively separate what is real from what was exacerbated by my fear of the unknown and my ignorance of what is true. I have discovered that what scares us is seldom what is unfolding — we are frightened by how actions in the here and now might create a disturbing future. 

Being objective does, at times, move us deeper into our fear. When we peer into the unknown, fear gets “real” very quickly. In our curiosity to learn more about what scares us, we may discover more worst cast scenarios than our heart can hold. We shut our self down as the fog of fear obliterates any semblance of hope. Only when we add daring to our curious, is hope found anew. Our reality shifts. Sure, the facts might remain the same, but the vastness of opportunity appears. 

With curious daring we are courageous — we acknowledge our valid fears but no longer allow those fears to stop us from living fully. With curious daring we are no longer paralyzed by our fears and stuck in the what-ifs of worst case scenarios. We actually seek new opportunities to live beyond our fears. 

Life becomes an adventure to be lived. Bold in our actions, we explore the middle and the margins. Not knowing what we will find, we do not buckle in the face of our fears.  We willingly try new experiences. We keep trying because we understand that to stop trying would mire us in the noise of hopelessness.

I am afraid on so many levels —personally, professionally, for my community, for the nation, for the world. Each morning upon waking, and many moments throughout the day, I have a choice. I can give into my fear and become overwhelmed and paralyzed by it. Or, I can live with curious daring and explore the middle and the margins. Trying this and trying that, I know that sooner or later, I will find the next right steps that courageously propel me across the bridge bridge of my life purpose. 

Take my hand. We will walk through the walled courtyard of fear into the into the wildly, ferociously beautiful world of uncertainty. Together we trek across our bridges of intent and action with courage and curious daring.

Vanessa F. Hurst, ms, is a Mindful Coach, Compassion Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Author who weaves her inner wisdom into all she touches. Vanessa offers Neural Synchrony™ sessions to assist clients in navigating their life paths with intuition.  Contact Vanessa @ hurst.vanessa@gmail.com 

Website / LinkedIn Profile / Facebook / Twitter: @fyrserpent / ©2017