Dr. Barb: As I’ve interviewed women across experiences and professions, self-care has been a recurring theme, and some kind of mindfulness has been a continuing thread. I’ve talked about mindfulness often as a way to reduce stress and anxiety that can interfere with intimacy—but also with our overall health and happiness. We’re providing resources approaching mindfulness from different points of view in hopes that they’re helpful as you navigate this season.Barbara Biziou shares the wisdom she’s gathered from decades of global studies with gurus, spiritual masters, and her own dedicated practices. Barbara is a life-strategy coach and frequent inspirational speaker, whose study of global ritual, and experience as a fashion executive, TV producer, corporate leadership trainer, and coach have equipped her for these challenging times. Her two published books, The Joy of Ritual and The Joy of Family Rituals, integrate old-world modalities, modern psychology, and neuroscience to provide a roadmap for everyday life.
We hope this exercise in opening your heart is useful to you, and that you’ll return to it again and again.
Barbara: This is a meditation to open your heart and to soften yourself. So let’s begin.
Gently close your eyes, sit comfortably, and begin to breathe in, lifting the tongue to the roof of your mouth and, now, breathing out, dropping the tongue to the floor of your mouth. Beautiful. Three more times, breathing in, breathing out. One more time, breathing in, breathing out.
And now just imagine that you could ground your energy to the center of the earth. It's like anchoring, if you’re on a boat: you are just dropping your anchor now. So imagine from your soles of your feet are two beautiful golden cords dropping down like roots of a tree going down, down, down to the center of the earth, just connecting to that grounded warm earth energy, nurturing, mother energy. Imagine that you could just pick up some of this energy with your roots and just pull it up up up up through the souls of your feet into your legs all the way up your spine and anchoring in your heart. Beautiful.
Now begin to breathe into the heart, as if there were an opening there. And if you could just spin strands of light, now imagine you are a weaver and begin to spin a strand of light now from your heart way out in the universe to the source of all compassion. It is like you are connecting, plugging into a battery, the giant source of compassion.
Now just begin to breathe it in, breathe it into your heart allowing this source of gentleness and compassion to totally fill you with compassion for others, but especially compassion for yourself, gentleness for all those areas that you think you made mistakes or you should have done something different. Just allow this compassion to dissolve all those shoulds. Filling you with this soft gentle energy. Tenderness, the kindness. You’re being wrapped in the energy of kindness, just breathe it in. [breath]
And now connect to another source of energy. This is the energy of unconditional love, pure source of unconditional love now out in the universe. And again, imagine you could spin a cord, a strand of light, from your heart to this source out in the universe. And then just breathe it in. Unconditional love. There’s nothing you have to do to deserve it. It is your birthright. You just breathe it in, this pure, pure love. Knowing that you are loved, you are cared for, you are cherished, just because it’s you. It’s nothing you have to do. And open even more to receiving this. Beautiful.
Now I want you to imagine, think of someone now that you love, totally, unconditionally, and imagine that from your heart now, you could send this love, this caring, this compassion out to that person. And now open to receiving it back, like a soft hug, and notice how it feels to receive that love. And again, send it out to someone else that you love unconditionally and just fill them and send them blasts of this love, this compassion, this caring, this kindness. And open to receiving it back tenfold. And notice what it feels like to receive this back, because the more you can open to the possibility that you are precious, the more you will treat yourself as precious. And the better choices you will make.
And one more time, sending this love and caring and compassion out, send it out to someone you really love or send it out simply to the earth, to the children, to nature. In the flow of this giving and receiving, because the more you are in this flow, the stronger it becomes, the more you give, the more you are able to open to receiving, the more you receive, the more you can give. Just send it out one more time now, just feeling your heart opening like petals of a flower, gently opening, spreading warmth. Maybe a tingling feeling in the heart. Beautiful.
And now open to receiving it back a hundredfold. And notice how it feels to have received that love. Practicing receiving is essential. Think of how good you feel when you give to someone, when you do something nice for someone, think how fabulous it makes you feel. And if you don’t allow them to do something fabulous for you—even if it’s just a simple compliment—you are cheating them of feeling good. So now, place your hands over your shoulders, like you are giving yourself a wonderful hug and very gently, hug yourself and take your hands and just move them down your arms and just say, I love you. You are special. I love you. You are special. I love you. You are special.
Just take a few deep breaths now and notice how different you feel, how much more open you are, as you take a moment just to be in gratitude for whatever you have in your life. All the blessings, friends, family, food, place to live, nature, your body.
Make a commitment to spending a few moments every day in gratitude and blessing whatever you see, and as you bless, open to receive it back so that you become better and better and better at giving and receiving love. Notice how much stronger you feel. More connected. And know that you have been changed, just by doing this exercise. So take a few deep breaths now. Be fully in your body. Wiggling your toes, your fingers, feeling fully present and fully grounded in your body, with an open heart. Beautiful. And when you are ready, very, very slowly, open your eyes and come back to normal concentration, being fully grounded and present and filled with love.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.