Discernment can be an aspect of compassion, and I feel it is part of a self-discovery process, which can also include understanding our own personal boundaries. Personally, I have found the art of discernment invaluable especially when in relationship with detachment.
So what is the difference between discernment and judgment?
Everybody experiences life differently so I can only share from my own perspective and what my relationship to discernment is. I feel that there are some distinct differences such as underlying intention or motivations. The way that I experience discernment is that I create space for myself and the situation, which gives me greater perspective. Once that space is created, I feel I can begin to listen to the energy both around and within me. With judgment it is more about separating the self from the other person or a situation, compartmentalization and projections. Why we judge can vary greatly. It may be because of fear, a reaction, or an unwillingness to see something inside of the self that another person or situation may have mirrored or triggered.
The reason for discernment differs for everyone and it depends on what is happening in the moment and what we choose to do or not do. It is a navigation tool. Sometimes it could be about self-preservation. Other times it can reflect an understanding or awareness that certain things, energies, circumstances or people may not be healthy for us to be around or involved with.
It is important to check in with deeper feelings about whether we are actually discerning from genuine compassion or motivated by a deeper fear (manifesting as judgment). I feel that only we can determine the validity of our own actions or non-actions, regardless of what others may say. Even if someone points out a blind-spot, ultimately, it is up to the individual to come to their own realization. Forcing or trying to change others is futile and often causes chaos or further difficulties.
It is common that if we are judging something in someone else, we may be doing that very thing ourselves in some way but we are not aware of it or something was triggered within us. It is difficult to look inwards sometimes, especially if it is perceived as something negative or that we don't really like about ourselves. We also may not want to be seen that way by others.
For me, discernment is an empowering quality and it is based on observation and awareness rather than creating separation and division. If we are judging someone or something there may be some part of the ego that wants to be 'right' and make the other person 'wrong'. Ego can manifest in so many different ways and can be an excellent teacher. It's always trying to make itself significant by identifying with certain emotions and personas and likes to make itself more important than others by competing and comparing. If we become stuck in these identifications (which is related to our conditioning), the connection with the true self can diminish immensely. A shift can happen when we are able to recognize and see triggers as an opportunity to discover more of ourselves and begin to embrace the whole self.
In many cases, I feel it is actually a greater act of compassion to let go or step away from a situation rather than remain and deny our authentic selves or the authenticity of others. I feel if we are honoring our own essence from multiple perspectives (taking others into consideration as well), and coming from a place of respect, this is being compassionate.
It has been said many times by many people that when we judge others, we are judging ourselves. For those who come from a perspective that, "We Are All One", this is certainly true. Taking the time to enquire and learn about people's stories, their backgrounds and what they have experienced in this life, is helpful to better understand their behavior or why they are the way they are. To be able to walk (or attempt to walk!) in someone else's shoes is most definitely an act of compassion and empathy. It may not change the decision for discernment, but it can shift the energy from judgment to compassion, which energetically makes a big difference.
Like so many things in life, part of the discovery process is determined by the individual. Since everyone is different, our experiences will vary, yet there is always an opportunity to be compassionate. To me, compassion and forgiveness is not about pretending something didn't happen or allowing something destructive to continue, it is more about setting myself and the other people involved free, therefore reclaiming my personal power. It can take a long time to reach a place of true forgiveness, however I feel if we are on the road working towards this then this is what matters.
I feel that gaining insight with our ability to discern is mostly within the practice of it, and with patience, diligence and compassion we can create more awareness within ourselves over time.
Competing and comparing ourselves to others seems to start early on in life in our society. It can begin when we are youngsters competing for our parents affections. Then we move through the education system, where these two behaviorisms are actually encouraged and expected. We are even rewarded the more we compete.
My own experience with comparison and competition was primarily between my friends or other girls. It was more about how beautiful you were and how much attention you received from the boys. It was all about physical appearance and it had a profound affect on my development as it did on many other female friends. It can cause great suffering where we can never reach the high standards that we set for ourselves based on conditioning and society's rules. Body shaming, disorders and inner criticism are all too common and have been major issues for many years and continue to be. It wasn't until I came across spiritually mature and conscious women and sisterhood circles that this began to shift for me personally.
I feel that there is healthy competition, such as in sport. This is a great way to burn off built up energy, to learn self-discipline and push ourselves to excel however, throw ego's into the mix and it quickly becomes out of balance. Constantly comparing ourselves and competing with others can be quite exhausting and leads to deeper unhappiness.
In our culture we are fed from many different sources that who we are is not enough. It is quite common that human beings go about looking outside of ourselves for answers to cover up the fear of not being enough. Whether it is about not being beautiful enough or successful enough, not being knowledgeable or wise enough, not enough 'likes' on social media (therefore there's something wrong with me), not being manly enough, and so on.
This leaves a void that will never be fulfilled by trying to be like someone else. As a therapist, I've come across a lot of people over the years who have struggled with a belief that they have to be this 'perfect' image, (whatever that image is for them) so they will be accepted or loved more. The trouble is, it is impossible to be someone or something else other than who we are. Outwardly it may seem like to others we've got it all together, but our inner space or energy doesn't match.
The way to overcome this within ourselves, firstly is to be honest where we may be doing this in our own lives. Secondly, while being honest, to approach ourselves with compassion. Some good reflections are:
Next is to take a step back. To me this behavior is of an old paradigm and we have been misled by society. Many industries prey on fears such as telling us we have to stay looking young by buying a $700 face crème. One of the ways beyond this is looking deeper. Who are we beyond the physical dimension? Beyond the outer appearance, beyond possessions, the need for approval of others, the attachment to being more special than others, judging perceived faults in others or self criticism?
If we become caught up in this behavior I feel we are disconnected with our true nature and our purpose in life by trying to be something else. There are many ways this can play out.
By taking a step back we can drop into our heart-space and deeper feelings and come from a place of appreciation. Appreciating qualities in others I feel takes some humility so we are not projecting our own pain onto the other person we are admiring - where we can see the quality we admire and celebrate it rather than covet it. There are also ways to learn how to develop qualities we like in others, within ourselves in ways that are sincere, transparent and with integrity. Yet getting caught up in trying to be like someone else is denying the authentic self. The only person we can be is ourselves. If society as a whole had the resources to recognize and nurture natural gifts from childhood and encourage this in holistic ways, then we would live in a very different world. A world that is more connected. The ego's motivation for competition or comparison would become irrelevant.
Each of us have shown up to life with our own stories, gifts and essence that is uniquely beautiful unlike anyone else. Being who we are is the most divine gift we can offer each other and the world.
Written by Laura Naomi
Recommended listening and reading...
"Shedding Light onto Shadow"
"The difference between Discernment and Judgment"
The Inner Fire
Continuing further into the Archetype of the Artisan, we will cover the concept of Creative vs Reactive as well as other aspects.
So, what does being 'creative and reactive' actually mean?
In this context, reacting is an automatic and usually unconscious response (to something). A common situation is where two people are having a discussion and one person says something that triggers the other. The triggered person then quickly becomes defensive and upset. Communication is often fiery, defensive, anxious and/or passive aggressive whether it is through words or reactions. A reactive response can occur in many ways for various reasons. Usually what triggered the person is from another time surfacing emotion or memories of something unpleasant. Physical sensations can also be experienced such as shaking, the heart beating faster and a surge of energy or heat through the body.
To me, there is a gift in these moments and it is a time for compassion and deeper awareness. I feel that as long as we own our reactions and be mindful to not project our emotions onto others, this gives greater success for healing.
A creative response transforms the energy, which is what was covered in the previous blog - a core aspect of the Artisan. The inner fire can be activated different ways, here we are talking about activation through aggravation and stress or the alternative, through passion and the creative serpent energies of transformation.
The out of balance aspects of the Artisan are that we can create delusions for ourselves. We can become entangled in self-created fantasy worlds within our imagination that are out of touch with reality. Creative energy can be either suppressed or over-stimulated causing escapism and havoc with emotions or sacral chakra energies. Various symptoms can arise due to this imbalance.
The energy of the Artisan can be closely connected to the Healer Archetype. Having a healthy connection to both can be extremely powerful especially when channeled for healing for others and the planet. The way that this manifests is unique for everyone.
As the Artist is explored within and outside of ourselves, its gifts are beautiful, wild and vast. Touching the edges of this energy some may be called to, while others sit perfectly comfortable in the middle.
Different forms of creativity can be: traditional arts (drawing, painting, writing, music, dance), gardening and connection to nature, healing in all its forms, hobbies and crafts, exercise, meditation, yoga, a different mind-set or perspective, communication, peaceful activism, conscious business ventures, projects, partnerships...
The simple fact that we are alive is creativity in motion. The Universe creating through us, and us through it. Every moment that we are being, is a divine embodiment of creation.
Written by Laura Naomi
"Shedding Light on to Shadow"
Over the years a lot of folks have talked to me about different ways they'd like to express their artistic energy. Although many seem certain the best thing they've ever drawn is a stick figure, I like to take the perspective that everyone is creative in their own way. Mathematics is not a strong point for me, unless it's shown in an artistic way, then it takes a different shape so to speak. Yet mathematics is still a form of art. The Artist Archetype holds a lot of powerful energy. It symbolizes the innate ability each of us have within to create. Creation energy is extremely enriching and there are many ways it can be channeled into our lives. It is not unusual for human beings to block and misuse this energy however, therefore hindering the natural flow and causing it to manifest in ways that may not be entirely healthy.
Allowing creative energy to emerge can take various paths depending on the individual. The first step is recognizing if we are blocking energy in the first place then finding different ways to allow it through.
Getting to know your creativity
Some ways to get to know our unique creative expression is to map it out. Mapping creativity can be done through a vision board, creative writing/drawing and or an artwork of some form. Some reflections may be:
Often if there is a creative blockage it can manifest as lack of inspiration or flow or emotional restlessness (e.g. getting stuck in specific emotions or emotional barriers). Some perhaps even experience a physical sensation of disconnect in the body.
The artist has the ability to transform energy. It is one way that the artist archetype expresses itself within a human being. The artist can emerge in many different ways and it is linked to the natural energy within each of us.
The healthy aspect of the artist is boundless. Personally, what I find most beautiful is the raw, unedited and transformative nature of this energy. Also how it can offer vulnerability and insight and shares a story without words.
While a lot of artists create their best work when in a tumultuous state, for others it is quite the opposite. Emotion is one of the key elements of the artist, this reveals the rawness and interwoven relationship of human and spiritual connection.
For me, expressing artistic creation is deeply healing. It is something that emerged as a child and like other artists I know, has evolved over time. It has followed my spiritual journey intimately and is directly linked to these more 'unseen' ethereal dimensions. For others of course it is different, although it could still be experienced as something spiritual in other ways. That is another beautiful part of the artist, how expression is unique in all interpretations.
I feel it is true that the beauty of art is indeed in the eye of the beholder, yet it is something else to just observe and perceive without any judgment (positive or negative). Rather seeing for the sake of seeing, taking in the energy of the creation.
Another important aspect of the artist archetype that can be related to every day life is the idea of creative vs reactive. Responding to situations or challenges in life with a creative perspective has the ability to transform energy, whereas if we respond from reactivity this can implode our energy causing inner turmoil and therefore also affect our outer world.
Written by Laura Naomi
"Lotus - a guide from a Tantra Goddess"
The Spirit Carrier is made of pure spirit and represents the essence of creation and connection to the cosmos. She is a messenger and shapeshifter, moving between realms and dimensions often speaking through nature, dreams, visions and other spiritual channels. Through her existence she brings the messages of spirit for healing, sanctuary and transformation.
Her body is of light created from a dimension connected, yet outside the Earthly plane. Her transparent form shifts and changes into different energies according to what she is being called to.
She encourages what is natural inside each of us unlike any other soul on Earth. Connecting to this essence at its depth enables us to embrace who we truly are and step into grace with humility, presence and our entire being.
The Spirit Carrier reminds us to reflect on the true nature of things, not just what we believe things to be. She shows us that sometimes things do not appear as they seem and to look deeper.
Written by Laura Naomi
© Artwork created in 2020
The Sri Yantra (also known as Shri Yantra or Shri Chakra) is a 12,000 year old sacred symbol. It is considered a meditation and contemplation instrument, which supports spiritual liberation. It is linked to practices such as Meditation, Pujas and Tantra.
It is also called the "Mother or Queen of all Yantras", a symbol of the Divine Feminine energies of creation.
The Sri Yantra represents the Universe as well as the body of the Goddess in relationship to Shakti energy. The triangles represent both Shakti and Shiva energies. This ancient symbol is powerful as it was created with sacred geometry connecting us to the cosmos as well as clearing and transforming energy.
This sacred mandala can represent our spiritual journey from the stage of material existence to enlightenment and bliss.
Meditating with the Sri Yantra can support clearing energy and consciousness where one can experience being a mirror of the Universe, reflecting the vastness of creation and deep presence beyond the physical world.
Written by Laura Naomi
Resources: for more information about meditating with the Sri Yantra visit: The Sri Yantra
© Artwork created in 2020
If we are in a place of not knowing or Mystery, this can sometimes feel unbalancing, especially if it is a spiritual transition. Currently we are in the midst of a global shift that is multi-dimensional. It has been developing for some time. It feels as though the Mystery is speaking to a deeper part of us, encouraging connection to a present consciousness where spirit takes flight. I do not know anyone who has experienced growth while in their comfort zone.
In more recent times there seems to be a more profound sense of the Unknown emerging. It is common for a lot of people to want to know as much as they can about what is unknown in order for it to make sense to the mind and perhaps ease feelings of anxiety or fear.
Does consciousness or awareness matter? For the transition to be bridged into a more awakened way of being, I would say Yes most definitely. Will it happen? It may, or it may not. How does one become more conscious? There lies in the Mystery. The more we try to control, the less control we have, yet we are not powerless. Connecting to the presence within is available to us in any given moment - a peacefulness that gives space to life.
In times such as these I feel it is also imperative to make space for our hearts, deeper feelings, our physical bodies, inner wellbeing and each other. I feel that deeper stillness is being asked of us, to go further into the Mystery, to sit and listen to the songs of the Universe while riding the waves of chaos. This could be an opportunity to breathe and move further into presence and let go of anxiety or a story we may identify with.
Who are we beyond the chaos, beyond the story?
Another important thing to mention is that although we may have our individual shifts happening, there is also a connection to the greater shift of humankind. Since we are all connected energetically, there is the collective energy to consider. Following are some ways that can support in this time of uncertainty.
Currently, some of us are somewhat confined to our homes and distancing ourselves from others. Creating a space (some of you may already have one) where we can practice Meditation is something we can do to take care of ourselves. Some people find guided Meditation much easier, while others prefer a quiet space and have created their own. Practicing emptying the mind of thoughts supports the health for our inner world. It can either be practiced through allocated Meditation time or throughout the day by noticing any thoughts, acknowledging them and letting them go.
Connecting to Stillness Meditation
1. Choose somewhere warm, quiet and comfortable
2. Bring awareness to relaxing the body with the breath. Go through each muscle from head to toe and imagine tension being released from your body
3. Focus now on the breath - slow down and deepen your breathing
4. Visualize breathing in light (or peaceful, replenishing, or cleansing energy)
5. Then visualize breathing out fear (or old energy, negativity, etc)
6. When you feel more at ease and relaxed in the mind and body, pause focusing only on the breath (10mins or longer is preferable)
Moving the body is essential. Create space for doing Yoga or other forms of exercise. Walking, cycling or running outdoors is perfect for getting out of the house. Exercise is also known for moving old energy out of the body. Focusing on the breath similar to the Meditation above while exercising can also be beneficial.
Ok so when the shopping isles are still bare of toilet paper, sanitizer and cans of soup this could mean sharing some of your stash with others. A movement called "Caremongering", which started up in Canada arranges acts of altruism online to uplift communities and has allowed them to tackle the needs of those who are at-risk (BBC). It is a positive twist on virtual interaction, which has become important for people especially with current circumstances where communities are in isolation. Kindness is free. It helps to stay more grounded and connected rather than focused on anxiety. The virus is a collective adversity that is affecting all humankind. We are living through this together.
Allow your Creativity to flow
Music has a wonderful ability to evoke energy, emotion and mood. Listen to or sing your favorite music that is uplifting, peaceful, calming, energizing, healing or just some good old fashioned beats. Dancing is fantastic and helps to release and shake out old energy, livening up your emotional and energetic systems. Allow your artistic flare to emerge and create art or write.
Below are links to soulful healing music with Laura Naomi and singing bowls with Annie Kropman..
Connect with Community
Connecting with people we love and trust is important, even if we know they are there for us, pick up the phone anyway and say Hi. It may feel that we are alone sometimes, however in reaching out we are allowing others to hold us and through this action others may ask us to hold them too. In a transition we don't know what may or may not happen so having gratitude for those people in our lives who love and care for us, connects us to our hearts and compassion in challenging times.
Trust in Spirit
This can be the most challenging and simplest one of all. The moment just before letting go of control and putting trust in Spirit can feel the scariest. The moment of deciding to hold on or let go is entirely up to us and although it often requires a lot of courage, it can be exhilarating and liberating. The Universe is always present, the same presence is within each of us waiting for us to connect and allow it through.
Written by Laura Naomi
* Laura Naomi plays and sings prayerful songs for healing, connection to spirit and Universal energies.
Annie Kropman has been playing singing bowls for several years to support raising the vibration of the light body and for planetary healing.
The experience of peace that permeates my being when I am feeling a profound connection within and outside myself often leaves me speechless and overwhelmed with appreciation. In fact, it's as though everything becomes the same flow of energy, merging what is within and outside myself. Everything is interwoven like a river on its course to the ocean. When I look into your eyes, I see the Universe rising to meet me and all its secrets twinkling beyond the stars. All that I feel you feel, and all you feel I feel.
Although the environment no doubt has an impact on us, I do feel like many spiritual qualities, peace primarily emerges from within. I do feel a vast peace when I am in nature, she beckons me to return to the ancient place of timelessness and wisdom. However, as a human being, one can still carry a chaotic mind into a tranquil space. Encouraging the graceful stillness of peace inside also has an ability to develop presence. Having spent an increasing amount of time discovering who I am in sacred community, there is a lot that I have learnt about its natural flow and one important stage is the element of chaos. Chaos is the twisting rocks and crevices that push and pull at the river. Yet the river continues to flow.
Gifts present themselves in many forms, along with moments where I feel I am disintegrating. At these times, I am experiencing a spiritual rebirth of sorts, I am also witnessing it within others and its affect on the community as a whole.
Peace to me holds immense gifts; the ability to hold the self and others in love and compassion, patience, presence, grace and courage. The river of spirit keeps on flowing, allowing room for different moods - twists and turns - as transformation is occurring. I feel this is a lot like peace, transforming the human heart and spirit as each of us experience this life reminding us of the wisdom that has always been.
Written by Laura Naomi
© Artwork created in 2020
The Wolves Within
Lately, life has brought me a series of experiences to bring me back to Earth, to remind me of my humanness. I have experienced this several times over the years; more recently this humanness has carried feelings of exhilaration and raw vulnerability. I experienced extremes of emotion at the same time, both within myself and witnessed it within others - great beauty and connection within suffering and disconnection; empowerment in the inner struggles of not being enough; a strange sense of inclusion within the internal conflict of separation and judgment; the incredible joy of success, while deep insecurities lie just beneath the surface, and an intriguing relationship between compassion and fear...
As I walked along a Mt Desert Island shoreline reflecting on these moments, the moods of the ocean mirrored both the calm and wildness of these treasures. It reminded me of paradoxes and how it can feel when experiencing this phenomenon. Although not extensively, I did ponder for a while, about what does one do when in a paradox. Only the void responded. Despite my love for the unknown, to begin with it wasn't really the answer I was looking for. But as I sat there without clarity, I realized I didn't really know what answer I was looking for. I was in a place of vague inconclusiveness and ambiguity.
I then decided to just allow the emotions I was experiencing to just be what they were, without the need to find meaning. Perhaps eventually clarity would appear at some point, and perhaps it wouldn't. I feel that it's more about feeling the variety of human 'states' for the sake of experiencing and accept that life doesn't always make sense.
Then I remembered the saying about how two wolves live within every human being.
And that these two wolves are in battle. One represents shadow and despair; the other, light and hope. I wonder if this Cherokee saying was interpreted correctly as it ends with, "which wolf wins? The one you feed".
Although everyone has their own perspective, what sits well in my heart is that there is no battle and there is space inside where shadow and light become one. Both are valid and both have purpose. If I decide to understand both these parts of myself I can reach a place of integration of these two energies rather than try to eliminate one or the other. This to me brings a sense of peace rather than denying who I am; the wounds, the humanness, the deep beauty of life in all its magnificence and challenges. I can be all of this and allow it to be without editing, embracing ambiguity and letting go of the need to 'know'.
The ocean responded with a rumbling swirl upon the rocks below. Thoughts drifted away sailing on the wind beyond the waves.
Written by Laura Naomi
© Photography 2019
Every morning I wake with a sense of gratitude. There is a sign at our front door greeting visitors; "With gratitude, the Universe is endlessly abundant". It wasn't as if I had had this sense of gratitude my entire life, rather it grew inside of me and came about through life experiences. These experiences have not only involved profoundly beautiful, spiritual and connected moments, but also deeply painful and trying times. The extremes lead to a deeper and deeper sense of gratitude for simply being alive.
The attitude of gratitude is not to deny the reality of what might be happening in the world, rather, it's a choice to focus, (even if for a short amount of time), on what I have in my life, rather than what I don't have. It also has a beautiful ability to dissolve the power-play of competition and comparison that acts out so strongly in cultures and societies. As covered before in a previous Podcast, "Moving Beyond Comparison and Competition", these two energies are from an old paradigm and do not exist in a place of gratitude or abundance.
Gratitude is an ancient practice, often exercised in forms of Yoga, Meditation and other modalities of spirituality. To me, it is simply about making a choice, to create space for grace, where I can honor all of life at the deepest levels. It can also involve the acceptance of impermanence; that change is inevitable.
When I practice gratitude, I feel a deep sense of connection with existence. My heart is more open, I am able to experience life with a sense of wonder and adventure.
Through observation, it has been noticeable that humility and compassion are qualities that also emerge and expand when one is grateful. Even when I have encountered anger or fear while in a space of gratitude, those energies eventually subside. Anger or fear do not exist when I am genuinely compassionate and grateful.
Written by Laura Naomi
Soulful Living Blog