Let Your Heart Open Like a Flower...

So many people tell me of their yearning to connect more richly with themselves and others, but feel stymied by being too scattered or over busy. I've come to think that building mini-retreats into our lives can restore that connection.

And I really do mean mini-retreats. One doesn't have to run off to the monastery for a month to effectively revive one's spirits. Often what is called for could simply be an intentional, silent moment or two of saying "thank you" from inside your heart here and there. Or twenty five minutes of sitting meditation focusing on the breath. Or some time dedicated to artmaking. The image you see here took me about only 10 delicious minutes to create, but was oh so restorative.

The benefits are priceless. Even just a few minutes can help you to reflect, rejuvenate, and restore your freshness in ways that can affect you and the people around you in immeasurable ways.

You can create any kind of retreat for yourself, depending on your needs. Here are two mini-retreats designed to cultivate love and connection with your Self and the world--something most everyone wants! They are perfect for midwinter, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

One Minute Heart Opening Retreat:

Sit quietly, dropping your awareness to the center of your chest. With every exhale, breathe out the sound of "aahhh" from the center of your chest. Feel the vibration of the sound in your heart center, letting it call you to greater sensitivity and awakening.

Fifteen Minute Heart Flowering Retreat:

1) Set a timer for about 15 minutes. Either sit or lay down, just be very, very comfortable. Surrender to gravity, especially inviting your jaw and shoulders soften.Take a few minutes to breath directly through the center of your heart, imagining that you can inhale and exhale through your chest area. Imagine that with every exhale your are clearing a space in your heart center for a flower to bloom.

2) Visualize the bud of a flower in the inner space of your heart. Any flower that comes to you is fine, but if an image doesn't come, try a rose. For the next twelve minutes or so, concentrate on this image of a bud. With every soft breath, allow it to open ever so slowly in the center of your heart. Notice the tiniest of changes, the changing colors, the petals unfolding, the fragrance getting stronger. Concentrate on the the fullness of the flower in your heart center. Sense what effects this image has on your body/mind.

3) Return your awareness to breathing through your heart center. Sense the movement of the breath with every inhale and exhale. Sense the boundaries of your body. Notice what stays with you as you let of the image...the fragrance? The sensations in your body? The quality of radiance?

4) Bask in this love feeling, and let its fragrance permeate you and radiate out into the world. If you wish, magnify the feeling by drawing an image of it. I love mandalas, they are a good place to start. Enjoy!

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