One reason I've been feeling so good is because of establishing a sense of continuity and normalcy in my routine--as much as possible. And the biggest example of that in my life is that as soon as I found out my in-person classes were cancelled, I moved forward with setting up online classes for Sheng Zhen meditation and qigong.
There are many things we cannot change or control. But this was something I could do to create a sense of continuity and normalcy both for myself and for my regular students. And I knew that would be just as good for our physical and mental health as the practices themselves.
So, after getting the email about class cancellations on a Thursday night, 12 hours after having just taught a class, I emailed some of my students to say stay tuned. And the next day I set up the online classes. I didn't wait for permission. I didn't wait for where I usually teach to come up with an online plan. I knew that on Tuesday I would still be teaching. And I'd teach every Tuesday and Thursday no matter what.
I felt proactive. Of service. And crystal clear.
In addition to it being my joy, I knew, without a doubt, that my regular students would want this. And I knew others would benefit from it too, so I put the word out to the general public.
And it's been amazing. The place I usually teach at on Tuesdays and Thursdays even got their own online plan together and so now even more people are showing up via Zoom!
And students are sharing about how it makes them smile, brings calm, and just how helpful it is now. For my regular students, I'm sure part of the benefit is that sense of continuity, and even "normalcy" even though we're online rather than in person.
So back to that idea of continuity and normalcy in times of big changes and uncertainty....
Like I said above, it's helpful for our health. Especially our mental health. We can't control everything, but there are some things we can control. There are still ways in which we can exercise choice in a way that serves us best.
The truth is, for me, life isn't all that much different because, in addition to being a homebody, I mostly work from home anyway. But the other day while walking my dog, I was thinking that if I were somebody who commuted each day, not just twice a week, this whole "stay at home" thing would probably feel hard and strange.
So, here are some ideas if you're struggling with staying home, especially if you used to work away from home:
1) If you normally commute, consider taking a drive if you have a car, even just a short one during at least one of the times that you're usually on the road. Or go for a walk or bike ride at that time. Or go out into your yard if you have one.
2) As much as possible, maintain the same kind of schedule you had before. If your kids are home, too, maybe this is not fully possible, but hopefully at least somewhat possible. Or maybe you adapt your schedule so that you can fit in some of your "normal" activities before the kids get up or after they go to sleep?
3) If you're not already participating in online group activities (ie meetings, dances, my classes, etc.), consider participating in some group online activities--especially at the times that you used to, before things changed. For example, if you used to attend yoga classes, find a yoga class online, or just practice on your own at that time. Or if you always went out for dinner or a movie or a walk with a certain friend or group of friends, set up some sort of virtual hang out. And if you don't like the group idea? Video call a friend or family member. Reach out. Find ways to connect and interact with others.
I'm going to just leave you with that. I might have some other ideas, but I also am considering rewriting and expanding this to submit to an online journal, in which case it's best not to write it all here first! ;-)
Just get creative. This is a great time to learn how to adapt and think outside the box. It's also a great time to slow down and do some self-reflecting. And it's also a great time to feel your feelings. It's okay if you're feeling sad, scared, anxious, bored, lonely, frustrated, etcetera. I just don't want you to get stuck in those emotions.
And I'm here if you need some support.
IT’S OKAY TO BE HAPPY.
I’ve been feeling pretty fantastic lately, which feels even more amazing because it almost seems as if I’m not supposed to be happy right now. But I am. And that’s okay. You can be happy too. We don’t have to let what’s going on in the world right now take over. We do need to take certain precautions, care for ourselves and others, and respect the current public health and safety recommendations. But we can still feel happy while doing that. It’s possible.
IT’S OKAY TO FEEL SAD.
Maybe you don’t feel happy. Maybe you feel sad, freaked out, stressed out, depressed. Maybe on the outside you look fine but inside you’re a mess. And maybe my happiness even bothers you. That’s okay. Just know that I also felt sad, freaked out, stressed out at times, but then something shifted. I mostly feel good. But yesterday I had a moment of sadness, when I had to ask some woman not to pet my dog. There are ups and downs. There always are.
JUST FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling good right now. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad right now. There’s nothing wrong with being all over the map. So just let yourself be. Let yourself feel. And let others feel what they’re feeling too.
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY.
My heart goes out to those who are struggling. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. We need to take this seriously, but also welcome levity.
Although I have been feeling pretty fantastic lately, there are some things that freak me out and stress me out a bit about what’s happening in the world right now. But I’m not going to get stuck in my thoughts about that.
I’m not going to dim my light or hold back my tears. I’m going to feel it all and keep shining bright in the face of my fears.
Even when I feel down, dark, sad, frustrated, scared, and confused, deep down inside, I know all will be well. Thanks to my Sheng Zhen practice and other spiritual practices and beliefs, I feel rooted in the bliss at my core and know this current situation will pass.
And I have faith in humanity. We can learn from this. We can grow from this. It may not be easy. It may be uncomfortable. But we are resilient and intelligent beings. We are creative, too.
So, yes, feel your feelings and know it’s okay to not feel good right now. But also consider getting creative. What can you do to feel a little better when feeling blue? Maybe giving yourself permission to cry is what you need. Maybe going for a walk and feeling the sun and/or breeze against your skin. Maybe painting or drawing, writing, or cooking. Pulling weeds. Making a video. Playing a song. Dancing. Daydreaming. Meditating. Moving… What is it that you need when you’re feeling down? Sometimes it’s to just simply be right where you are, feeling stuck in those feelings, but sometimes it’s to move through them to move out of them. So, ask yourself, and be honest: what do you need to feel your best right now, even if it’s not going to be a sparkly happy kind of “best”?
If your answer is something you can do, then do it. If it's something like "a hug" but you're alone, well... I am considering creating a guided meditation/visualization for helping your body feel like it's receiving a warm embrace! But until then, just try imagining it on your own or let the earth hug you by lying down on the grass somewhere or even just your floor. This is just one example of something you might need in the moment when you ask yourself what you need--an example I use because "a hug" is often what I need! But I am a pro at finding other ways to get this need met when a hug can't be found. So stay tuned for more on that. Yes, I think a guided meditation or video is about to get added to my "ta da" list!
Until then, breathe deep. Feel your feelings. Stay healthy. Be well!
A couple weeks ago, I posted a blog called "When in Doubt, Go Outside." For years, I've also often said, "When in doubt, practice Sheng Zhen." If we're Skype contacts, then you've seen that message there under my name.
And as I sit here to write this now, I'm thinking about how it's not just about doing the actual moving and non-moving practices of Sheng Zhen that helps in times of doubt. It's also just simply Sheng Zhen, which is defined as sacred truth, or unconditional love.
In times of doubt, yes, Sheng Zhen's meditations in motion and in stillness help by opening the heart and relaxing the body and mind, taking you into the Sheng Zhen state, bringing more peace, joy, and clarity. But even if you don't know the Sheng Zhen forms yet, summoning within yourself a feeling of unconditional love can help. Asking your inner wisdom or a higher power what's truly True can help.
I have more to say about this, but my newborn niece is sleeping nearby, and I gotta wrap this up soon. I just wanted to keep a recent promise I made to myself: post a new blog entry at least once a week. So here it is! ;)
Perhaps I'll expand more on this another time. But for now, just remember that Sheng Zhen helps in times of doubt. And if you don't already know any of the Sheng Zhen practices, consider learning them. In the meantime, remember love. Love without conditions. The pure, generative, creative energy of love. And ask yourself or a higher power for guidance; ask for Truth. And then be receptive and courageous enough to listen, to hear what's coming through. And then follow through.
A couple weeks ago, one of my Sheng Zhen students asked me, "Why is this form called Healing? Is there an assumption that we're all healing from something?"
What a question! I felt both excited to answer, and a bit surprised to be asked this. We had just finished Sheng Zhen Healing, Stage 1. We may have done Stage 2 that day as well. I don't remember now. But I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.
I remember asking if anyone had any comments or questions, as I often do. And this one student asks about the form we just practiced and why the title is "Sheng Zhen Healing."
"Why is this form called Healing? Is their an assumption that we're all healing from something?" she asked.
At first I felt unsure of how to answer. I absolutely love questions like this, but in over 10 years of teaching, nobody had every asked me this.
So, I thought about it for a moment and responded, "I don't think that's what was meant to be implied. But perhaps we are all healing from separation and disconnection, at the very least? I don't know... However, I don't think Master Li meant to imply anything like that. My understanding is that the "Sheng Zhen Healing" forms (stages 1, 2, and 3) were a result of being asked for a form to help those with Cancer and AIDS. That being said, the Sheng Zhen Healing forms are often practiced by people who are physically well and aren't necessarily trying to heal physically, emotionally, or spiritually."
And then another student said something like, "but aren't we all healing from something?"
I may have laughed--I just chuckled now thinking back to it. But I also remember feeling sensitive to the idea of saying that everyone is healing whether they would see it that way or not.
And so, I responded something like, "Well, yeah, I suppose you could say that, and I hear what you're saying. But for some people, that could imply there's something 'wrong with them' or that there's something they always need to be working on. Some people wouldn't like to think that, even if it's true! So I wouldn't impose that wording or concept onto anyone even though I hear what you're saying."
And then I posed the question: Do we all have things to heal, whether we're aware of it or not?
What do you think??
Really, I want to know. I'd love to see a discussion about this in the comments to this blog. Or email me. Do you think everyone has something to heal?
I have more to say, and I even already wrote it. But I want to stop here for today. I'll share the rest tomorrow or Saturday. In the meantime, please share your thoughts... :-)
Last night I was asked to take a look at which things in my life are "pretending to be urgent" and therefore getting in the way of what's really most important. And so I was also asked to look at what truly is most important to me!
This came up in Laura Lavigne's online Happiness School, which I highly recommend!
First of all, this concept of recognizing that so much of what we feel is urgent really isn't urgent--well, that's a game changer. I'm already pretty good at saying no and having boundaries, like turning off my phone ringer when out with friends or when focused on a project. But I still find myself tending to prioritize some things that aren't actually as important as what's most important. I still find myself not doing some of the things that I really yearn to do and that I know would be good for me to do more often.
So, what is most important? What are my real priorities?
I believe this can be looked at on a macro level as well as a micro level. It can be looked at in a big picture way, but also in a day-to-day-what's-on-your-to-do-list type of way.
And in last night's class, as well as today while writing this, I am thinking more about the day-to-day, how to manage my priorities and time during the work week. And I have a feeling that the choices I make here will also somehow reflect my bigger priorities and values.
At the end of class, there was a prompt to list three things that are truly important to us.
Want to know what I wrote?
1. Sheng Zhen
The truth is, at first I had "connect with friends" as number 3! But then I realized that although that's very important to me, it comes after these other things. I feel more present and can enjoy social interactions more if I've already done these other three things. And as I type that, I recognize a self-care element to this.
So, this is my foundation. At least for now. Maybe it will change over time. Maybe once I get back into a better habit of including yoga in my day, I can take that off the list and replace it with something else, like connecting with friends, but we shall see...
For now I'm just making a conscious choice to say, "Hey, these three things come first. Even if it's just 5 minutes of yoga, it happens before I start checking email." I need that kind of message for getting back into a yoga practice! Can you relate?
And even though Sheng Zhen is my passion, again, if I start checking emails and going into work mode before I've done some moving or non-moving Sheng Zhen, then I don't always end up doing the practice later in the day--other than the "I am a big body of Love" mantra! Yes, even just taking a moment to feel like a big body of love is a good Sheng Zhen practice. But I want more. I want to hear the contemplations as I practice along with a video or audio track! And for me, personally, it's important to do this in the morning.
And then there's writing! And here is a big part of where the magic of the Happiness School comes into play. I wrote down "writing" as one of the things that's most important for me to do on a regular basis. And voila! For the first time in--how long? certainly over a year--I'm writing a blog post.
Although I've done plenty of editing and also social media post writing, and some newsletters, I haven't done any "real" writing, like blogs or articles or working on books for a very long time.
After I published my book, I think I went through some sort of postpartum depression. I also let other things take on a greater sense of urgency. But now it's time to get back on the saddle! I've been thinking "it's time" on and off for a while now, but I still wasn't taking action. I wasn't prioritizing it.
Until now. And all it took was the combo of calling out false urgency as false and this prompt, this assignment, to list three things that are important to me. :) How cool is that?! Here I am, already making a change that makes me happier, within less that 24 hours of class.
Maybe you want to join this school, too, and experience this kind of magic for yourself? Classes are recorded, so you can see last night's class via video. :) You can click here to learn more.
But I digress. The main point of this blog was not to send you to the school (although I do think you should check it out! ;)). The main point was to get started with prioritizing writing!
I didn't know that I was going to write about this. I thought I was going to write about a conversation I had with some Sheng Zhen students! But this is what came out. So, stay tuned for something about that conversation with my students!
This blog entry marks the beginning of my commitment to write on a regular basis. I may not write every day; I start with aiming for 4 to 6 days a week. And it will not always be a blog post or something I share publicly. But I'll be writing. And spending more time on the yoga mat. And practicing Sheng Zhen every morning. Everything else can wait.
Back in January I was selected as an inspirational, independent woman, to be interviewed by Angelina Zimmerman of Effervescent International! Topics include confidence, independence, life lessons, and self-love. You can watch the video at https://youtu.be/K2oo5RUcJC0 or here in this blog entry. I've also included a transcript below. Enjoy!
Transcript of Interview:
Angelina: Welcome to Ms Independent TV. I’m talking with Rebecca Clio Gould from Seattle in Washington. Welcome, Rebecca.
Rebecca: Thank you. Hi.
Angelina: Hi. It’s good to have you with us. I just wanted to talk a little bit about some of the incredible things that you’ve been doing. So in 2005, you dropped out of law school. What happened there?
Rebecca: Well, I had finished 1 year of law school, and I was doing an externship for a judge, and I was also in the middle of a failing marriage. And I remember one day, being in the judge’s chambers, doing a bunch of research and thinking, “this is not what I want with my life.” I just felt like I was on a conveyor belt. I did well my first year of law school, and I knew that if I just kept doing what I needed to do, I could get a good job. But it just felt, like a said, a conveyor belt, and I wanted off.
Angelina: Fair enough, fair enough. I’m sure a lot of people could relate to that. So after law school, you moved to Sedona, Arizona to find yourself, and then you moved to California to study Asian Healing Arts and Healing with Whole Foods. Tell us a little bit about that time.
Rebecca: Well it’s interesting because I had been really interested in alternative healing and specifically healing with whole foods before I ever went to law school. I even thought I’d go to that program later on. Most people go to law school and think they’re going to work for a long time with that degree. But I had actually planned to only work for a few years and then go to this program. And part of that had to do with what was going on with my marriage and needing to be in Seattle.
So when I left law school, I knew I might end up going to the healing arts program, but first I needed a little bit of time to just go away. And I went to Arizona and did a bunch of writing and crystal harvesting, like looking for crystals and rocks out in nature, and just had a bit of healing time.
Angelina: Beautiful, beautiful. And what I found really interesting as well, you’re part ofCCFL Global Academy as a Sacred Energy Exchange Specialist. What does that exactly mean?
Rebecca: That’s a great question. So that’s a relatively new part of my life. The CCFL Global Academy, that stands for Creating Champions For Life, and it’s primarily for parents, but really anybody can join. There’s a lot of great content. But basically the founders of it contacted me saying that they wanted me to come on as their Sacred Energy Exchange Specialist, knowing not only that I was teaching Qigong, which is all about energy , but also studying to become a Sexual Awakening for Women Facilitator, so also getting more into sacred sexuality too.
Angelina: Wow, that’s beautiful. Absolutely lovely. Ok, so let’s talk about being an independent woman. What was that moment in your life when you felt like you were really coming into your own, really living your life as an independent woman? When would you say that was?
Rebecca: Great question. When I first thought about the independent woman question, I actually thought of something that my parents told me about when I was a little kid. When I was just 2 or 3, I said, “you’re not the boss of me!” So I always had this kind of independent streak and didn’t want people to tell me what to do. And I think in terms of growing up and becoming an independent woman, I’m thinking when I left law school. When I left my marriage and left law school, I really had to go out on my own and figure out how I wanted to live my life based on what was really best for me, and learning how I could make my life be the way I wanted it to and being on my own. And not just being on my own in terms of being divorced, but also having independent thought. Not being too influenced by the main stream or social conditioning. And I really looked a lot at my programming or social conditioning over the years.
Angelina: Yeah, that’s a really good point. It’s so easy for us to be conditioned by what’s in the media, what society expects of us. So how would you describe the journey so far in terms of being able to reach your independence, being an independent woman? How would you describe it?
Rebecca: I’d describe it as a bit of a roller coaster, actually. There have been ups and downs and all arounds. There have been things that have been exhilarating and things that have been scary. I’ve often said that my life has taken a lot of detours, but I’ve recognized that those detours are actually the path. So, you know, there’s been a lot of trial and error, and just recognizing that it’s all part of my learning and growth process. Times of feeling really excited and confident, and times of feeling like “What am I doing?” or “I don’t know how to do this.” But always continuing, always moving forward.
Angelina: Excellent. Would you say you’re always a confident person? Or when do you feel most confident in your life?
Rebecca: Like I just said, there are times that I don’t feel confident, to be totally honest. I mean I’d love to say I’m confident all the time, but I’m human and I do get setbacks. I do feel like in general I am a confident person though, in the big picture, most of the time, and I feel my most confident when I’m, first of all, taking good care of myself, when I feel my best whether it’s confidence or other positive feelings. And then the other time that I really feel confident is when I’m teaching, when I’m teaching qigong or meditation. And more recently I’ve been leading these sacred sexuality classes, leading women’s groups. And I really feel confident that I’m doing what I’m here to do, and it feels really good.
Angelina: Yes, and nothing feels better, does it? When you’re living your inspired mission, so to speak.
Angelina: You kept bringing up about the teaching of Sexual Awakening for Women. What is that? Just to give the audience an understanding.
Rebecca: The words “Sexual Awakening for Women” that’s actually the name of a book, and program, that my teacher wrote, and leads. Shakti Malan. She’s a teacher based in South Africa and California too. So Sexual Awakening for Women is her book, and then she put together a facilitator training too. And I enrolled in that. And it’s really about empowering women to deepen their connection with their own body, their own femininity, their own sexuality. And for me, personally, I just feel really dedicated to helping women move through any feelings fear or shame or inhibition, to feel fully alive and to feel safe and more comfortable being a woman and being a sexual being in the world too.
Angelina: What would you say has been your biggest lesson in life?
Rebecca: Hmm, I’ve had such a sort of non-traditional life, and it’s been so full of growth that it’s really hard to pinpoint 1 lesson. But one of the things that comes to mind that was kind of like a catalyst for a lot of it is the car accident I was in as a teenager and just learning about how everything that I go through in life is teaching me and making me a better person, and all the growth and resilience too. So to just learn how to go with the ups and downs of life. And kind of related to that is learning about self love and how to open the heart and live a happier, more joyful life.
Angelina: Yeah, that’s beautiful, Rebecca, definitely. Getting on to the topic of self love. How old were you when you got to that point, when you felt like you loved yourself whole heartedly?
Rebecca: I love this topic, because it was after my divorce. A year after, I actually discovered this amazing qigong practice that I now teach, and it’s all about opening the Heart and unconditional Love, and it’s called Sheng Zhen, which means Unconditional Love. And so that practice actually really helped me recognize the ways in which my heart had been closed and I wasn’t loving myself fully. And so it’s been now like 9 years that I’ve been very dedicated to living with an open heart and loving myself more, and it’s been a huge part of my life. And I feel like even when I have times of not feeling confident or going through a rough time, I always know in my core that I love myself and that I just need to amp up the self-love practices or self-love vibes.
Angelina: Beautiful. So in what ways do you demonstrate self love? Do you do that daily? Is it a daily practice for you?
Rebecca: Ideally the qigong practice is done daily. Sometimes I don’t practice the movements every day, but there is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about Sheng Zhen. It’s more than a movement practice; it’s really a philosophy, a way of life of living with an open heart. So every day I’m practicing Sheng Zhen. I’m always thinking about loving myself and how I can love myself more. And in terms of how I demonstrate it, I am very committed to my self-care routine. I have a list of stuff that I do. I feel my best if I do this stuff every day, so its really a priority.
Angelina: Yeah, that’s wonderful. I think sometimes we get so busy it’s not a priority; people are trying to juggle family, career and other commitments, and they put that one last unfortunately, and it weighs you down and you don’t’ feel like yourself at all. So it’s great that you put that as a priority in your life. So what advice do you have for our beautiful viewers watching today, to become an inspired and independent woman? What’s your tips?
Rebecca: My tips are, I was just writing about this today. Feeling your feelings is one of the main things I tell people to do. We have all these things that come up in life and all these emotions, and to feel empowered and inspired in life, we have to have this energy flowing freely in us, and when we try to suppress our emotions or deny them, it creates energy stagnation, so that’s one big tip that I usually give, to feel your feelings. And then prioritizing self care. I think that’s really important too. And I’m trying to think if there’s something else. That’s such a good question. I think self love and acceptance is really key, and that kind of goes along with feeling your feelings, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Face your fears. Face your shame. Ask for help. Oh, learn how to receive help too. I think a lot of women have a really hard time asking for help. I used to have a hard time with it, but I’ve learned how, and now I love to receive. And to lighten up and have fun too. Not to be too serious. And I think the final thing too is to implement-- we all have inner masculine and inner feminine, so to implement masculine support structures in your life so that your feminine side can actually feel safe and supported to work its magic.
Angelina: I love it I love it. Thanks so much for your time this morning. It’s been lovely talking to you.
Rebecca: Yeah, it’s been such a pleasure.
People often see me as a bubble of joy, and often times I am! But I wasn't always like this. As a child, before kindergarten, yes. But after that? No. So below is a letter I wrote a few years ago, my partial Sheng Zhen story; it's just the beginning....
I must tell you that this qigong and meditation, these Sheng Zhen practices, changed my life.
I know that is a strong statement to make, but it’s true. Before attending my first workshop with Master Li Junfeng in 2006, I had sort of a dark cloud hanging over me. Maybe because of my car accident as a teenager. Maybe because of a divorce. Or being picked on in grade school for being overweight and having speech impediments and frizzy hair. Most likely a combination of those and other factors contributed to those dark clouds, leaving me feeling down and low energy a lot of the time. I was also self-conscious. A bit shy. Not one of those bubbly, glowing, happy people.
And I didn’t know much about qigong, certainly nothing about Sheng Zhen. In fact, I thought I probably wouldn’t like it, that it would be too serious and uncomfortable. But at that first workshop, I was pleasantly surprised.
The movements were graceful and fluid, and accompanied by inspirational, poetic contemplations. It felt like a meditation in motion. And I loved that we were not only being encouraged to smile and even laugh, but also encouraged to play and have fun with the movements! I felt something shift in me, a letting go, and an opening. A Heart-opening.
I knew from that day on that I wanted to continue this practice and also share it with others. I started practicing regularly along with a DVD, and within just a few weeks, I was one of those happy, glowing, bubbly people. I couldn’t believe it! But it was true. I also noticed that I was more grounded and calm AND that I wanted to dance, be more social, really LIVE and share with others more. My relationships improved. I worried less, and I enjoyed life more. I had more confidence and felt better in my body than I had in years. All of this thanks to cultivating a compassionate and open Heart through Sheng Zhen.
So I got on the fast track to becoming teacher, and it’s been such a pleasure to share these practices with others and to hear their stories, whether of just simply enjoying it or having some big transformational experience with it. Sheng Zhen certainly has touched the lives of many. And through my own personal practice, teaching others, and working so closely with Master Li, Sheng Zhen continues to be a blessing and a joy in my life, as well as a touchstone.
That’s all for now.
Rebecca Clio Gould is a Certified Sheng Zhen Teacher and Holistic Wellness Coach. Her specialties include self-love, embodied joy, women's sexuality, spirituality, surgery preparation, and trauma recovery. She is also a Supreme Science Qigong Instructor, Essence vs Form Coach, and Award-winning Author of "The Multi-Orgasmic Diet: Embrace Your Sexual Energy and Awaken Your Senses for a Healthier, Happier, Sexier You."