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Jesica Davis

You Are Part Of A Bigger World

Have You Aligned With Your Inspirations?

Spiritual Alignment provides balance and strengthAs any driver knows, over time, a poorly aligned vehicle will increasingly wobble and feel less solid on the ground. The steering will pull and the ride will be neither as smooth nor precise as you’d like. The car will follow your motions as you steer, but at certain angles you’ll feel it resisting your desired direction. As the misalignment persists, you may experience fatigue and irritability while driving, and your tires will require more frequent replacement as they age prematurely.

Such a car might be fine for driving short distances day-to-day, but plan a long trip and you’re going to want to take it to the shop. A mechanical alignment will not only bring peace of mind, but assure that your car drives comfortably and safely for many miles to come.

A similar principle applies to human beings. Unfortunately, however, in the competitive race that is our daily life, we pay much less attention to this kind of alignment than to the automotive type. Fatigue, irritability and being worn down are, in fact, something of a norm: as is the sensation of being pulled in conflicting directions.

Nevertheless, when a person is aligned, you can feel it. Unlike their poorly aligned peers, they give the impression that life makes sense, as if they’ve figured some things out, made peace with who they are, and are not distracted by things that don’t matter. They seem to have their priorities straight and they seem to radiate that elusive quality called soul.

On the rare instances when we encounter someone with an aura of soulful well-being, we may think: I want that. But what is it, really? And how do we get it? How do we attain a state of harmonious peace, non-attachment and focus? And if what we align on a car is the tires, what is it that we must align within ourselves so that we experience ourselves not as many moving parts, but as one whole being?

As simple as it is to drop a car off at the mechanic and have it solidly back on the road in a few hours, aligning one’s life requires more than a quick fix. Rather than being a matter of mechanical calibrations, aligning one’s life is an ongoing process, It is, in fact, a way of life that brings your external, physical existence – reflected by your choices, behaviors and habits – into alignment with your internal, divine or true selfreflected by your deepest passions, curiosities and concerns.

On October 3, my partners and I at Retreats With Heart will lead a one-day workshop called Aligning With Your Inspiration, in which we will not only unearth those passions, curiosities and concerns buried deep within, but will also explore how to integrate them into our daily routine.

If the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so does the journey to alignment, fulfillment and ease. If you feel called to walk with a more steady gait, and stand with your feet more firmly on the ground, consider joining us on Saturday and commit to your first step in aligning with your inspiration.

Have You Been Asking “Is That All There Is?”

IMG_1077Consider how frequently people fulfill their needs and achieve a state of security only to find themselves wondering…

Is that all there is?

Without access to a true self, the surprising discomfort of material and social well-being is often explained away by our well-meaning egos’ mistaken belief that these things must not have been attained at all.

From this mistaken premise, we come to the erroneous conclusion that we do not actually have enough power, money, status or accomplishment to feel secure and fulfilled. Sensing a job to do, our well-meaning egos then drive us on to the next chapter of our unending quest for more, better and bigger… and we go round one more time in pursuit of a deeper fulfillment that never comes.

What do I mean when I say well-meaning egos? I mean those parts of ourselves that are constantly on the lookout for something wrong, so that they can be useful and protect us from harm. Despite the well-publicized dangers of our time, we live in an era of unprecedented well-being and security, but these survival obsessed aspects of ourselves are not equipped to deal with that.

To make matters worse, this human vulnerability is exploited by the conversations that surround us. By designing messages to convince us that something actually is wrong, politicians, advertisers and the media compel our well-meaning egos to “do” something (usually involving money or votes) and experience the primal satisfaction that comes when we protect ourselves from misfortune.

But after a while, if we are lucky, the true self tires of this repetitive game and awakens. By awakening, it begins to perceive that acquisitions and accomplishments which once seemed urgent were just excuses for staying busy. In other words, the well-meaning ego can satisfy basic needs and assure basic safety, but once it’s done that, it can’t fulfill our deepest desires. 

This moment of awakening to one’s true self and the emptiness of ego-driven pursuits is different for all people. For some, it is addiction’s rock bottom, severe illness or proximity to death. For others, a confrontation with injustice highlights the selfishness of personal goals. Still others awaken for no discernible reason at all. But regardless of the particulars, such life passages trigger the realization that our one life is too precious to waste pursuing goals that are ultimately unfulfilling and hollow.

Where are you on your journey of awakening? Are you sensing that your ego’s got you on a hamster wheel? Are you aware of your ego and hating it? Have you awakened to a higher purpose but have no idea how to execute it without falling pray to the same old fears and habits?

Questions such as these are the foundation of my work. By addressing them and working to put your well-meaning ego in its proper place, you can awaken further to a life driven not by survival but by the impulse to create something new and valuable. Something inspired by your true self and executed with joy, rather than fear.

As Howard Thurman once said: Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

What Reveals The Fire Within You?

fire transforms
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

For years, I’ve been curious about what inspires people to take on change and make it stick. Overall, I’ve concluded that they are either inspired by something bigger than themselves or have experienced a major life transition that caused them to reassess everything.

Unless one of these two things is at work, it’s unlikely to have the vision or tenacity required to get outside the box and create something genuinely new in life.

While at The Hive last month, I was struck by how many stories I heard in which the loss of a parent or loved one inspired a new commitment to activism or social entrepreneurship. Through my private practice and work with Retreats With Heart, I’ve also seen divorce, illness and children leaving the nest also inspire people to take on new, more meaningful chapters of their lives.

If we look closely enough and get present to our experiences, we can always find the inner fires of purpose burning. But too often we’re distracted by the routines of daily life to take the time. Life transitions force us to take those closer looks, to ask the questions and seek the answers we’ve avoided. They strip us of attachments to thought and action and leave us raw, vulnerable and face to face with what really matters to us.

And yet, we don’t have to wait for tragedy to strike or years to pass. Life is not only short, but our planet is in crisis and needs your fire: to burn away what is dried out as well as to fuel new ways of living in our world. Whether you’re in the middle of a transition or already feeling the blaze within, my purpose is to support you in profoundly connecting to yourself and your work, so that your life becomes an expression of what matters most.

Registration is now open for my October 3 event at Retreats With Heart. Entitled Aligning With Your Inspiration, this one day workshop will get you connected to the desires that really matter to you, and give you the tools to fulfill them right now.

Is Holding A Grudge Holding You Back?

IMG_1415When you don’t forgive you release all the chemicals of the stress response…Each time you react, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine enter the body. When it’s a chronic grudge, you could think about it twenty times a day, and those chemicals limit creativity, they limit problem-solving. Cortisol and norepinephrine cause your brain to enter what we call ‘the no- thinking zone,’ and over time, they lead you to feel helpless and like a victim. When you forgive, you wipe all of that clean. (Read more about the science of forgiveness…)

I read this passage today and was reminded that forgiveness is one of the fundamental principles on  which Stephanie, Margo and I have based our workshops and retreats.

In my work, I’ve found that the things that hold us back in life are often not what we think they are.  Lack of forgiveness is often one of those things. Consider the above quote; if holding a grudge puts you into a  “no-thinking zone,” in which you habitually feel like a helpless victim, how might that state of mind affect the capacity to fulfill your dreams?

The greatest teachings I ever received about forgiveness come from teacher and healer Caroline Myss*. She has written that forgiveness is the greatest thing we can do for ourselves. By freeing us from the bondage of our most deeply held stressors, forgiveness frees us to not be victims, it frees us to be creative and it frees us to create a life that is in alignment with our inspirations.

Join us on October 3 for our next workshop: Aligning With Your Inspiration. During this one-day event, you will not only discover the internal obstacles to your dreams but also how to put them aside, and create a life of authenticity, joy and creativity.

REGISTER NOW It’s only $149 for a full day of relaxation, growth and delicious, healthy food.

*For more on forgiveness, check out Invisible Acts of Power by Caroline Myss.

Cocktail Chatter: The Introverts Edition

IMG_1537
Thanks to this “Glory of Amlwch” bush, I shifted from anxiety to peace in a matter of seconds.

If you’re like me, when you look out on a sea of strangers – shaking hands, making cocktail chatter, and exchanging cards – you break into a cold sweat. Almost four years ago, I fled the stresses and social intensity of life in Los Angeles for a simpler existence on the shores of Puget Sound.

It suits me in the Pacific Northwest, and living so closely to the natural world has instilled a confidence and sense of self that eluded me for many years. Living here, I’ve also rediscovered the desire to inspire others that once led me to be a filmmaker. But isolation has also distanced me from my peers, and the desire to close that gap inspired my pilgrimage to The Hive.

Closing that gap was both easier and more challenging than I’d expected. It may not be necessary to say, but I am extremely introverted. I feel comfortable with animals, plants, intimate exchanges and meaningful conversation, but don’t fare as well with the kind of small talk necessary at a conference or crowded party. So there I was, in this environment of openness and excitement, knowing I was among the very people I wanted to talk to…and yet often feeling incapable of establishing the connections I sought. But here’s what I realized…

You ARE your contribution. When I remembered how much I care about the world and my commitment to connecting people to themselves and their planet, my interactions were intimate and meaningful, despite the flurry of small talk all around us.

Most people want to be recognized for who they really are and, while there were people with whom I didn’t connect, more often than not – through my commitment – I was able to find a common humanity with people even if we lacked common experience, background or age.

Check in with something that grounds youI’ve been photographing the natural world since I arrived in Washington and nothing soothes my nervous system like being up close and personal with living things. At my most anxious moments, if I could find a blooming thing with which to check in, I was fine. Ultimately, my social courage over the weekend was a testament to the wonders of getting grounded For me the source is flowers, but no matter your method, it’s worth embracing: not just in crowds, but in any stressful circumstance.

In closing, if you also find yourself in a cold sweat when you look out on a sea of strange faces, and prefer almost anything to shaking hands and making cocktail chatter, remember two things: you are a contribution and what is eternal, real and true can be the magic elixir when it comes to introducing yourself. Because, even if you’re an introvert, the next hand you shake may be the one that transforms your world.

A-Buzz

coffee pot
For a long time, espresso has meant home to me. At least for the time being, something else will have to do.

A few weeks prior to heading to San Francisco, I wasn’t feeling my best physically. I was suffering from body aches, my energy levels were erratic, and my appetite wasn’t good. Making my bed more comfortable helped, but I thought I might feel even better if I improved my diet and eliminated coffee

After the initial withdrawal wore off, my energy levels and mood quickly  improved  and my thinking got more clear. I considered the experiment a success and decided to keep going.

And then one day, stuck with nothing to do while my husband discussed alignment with a mechanic at a used tire shop I took a walk. Even before I set out, I knew that if I walked far enough, I would pass Bluebeard Cafe: where I’ve made many pit stops to make a bad day better, where I’ve brought visiting guests to show off my adopted hometown and where they serve the best espresso in Tacoma, 

Even before I could see it, I felt my body pulled towards the familiar entrance. Conditioned to know that pleasure and relief were on the way, my physical excitement mounted and I started to wonder why I’d quit drinking coffee in the first place.

Espresso; it was a bright spot in a bad day, a boring day, an exhausting day or a good day. It  was a guaranteed pleasure, my one daily indulgence and part of my heritage.

But rather than going in, I kept on walking and instead stepped into a healthy tea and herb shop where I found a book called Rumi’s Four Essential Practices. One of those essential practices, I discovered, is fasting.

I’ve never been a dieter and, though I am a spiritual practitioner, I’d never taken on fasting as a spiritual discipline. And yet, without realizing it, in addition to improving my physical condition, my new diet had actually been giving me the opportunity to deepen my relationship to self.

I brought the book with me to San Francisco and was glad I did when the first thing I found upon checking into my room was a gleaming Nespresso maker. In addition to providing an exciting opportunity to join a community of impassioned and accomplished leaders, my weekend at The Hive was clearly going to be a continual challenge to my resolve.

But I kept in mind these words from Rumi, which were a constant reminder that my commitment to hearing my soul was stronger than my commitment to having a buzz.

yesterday you filled your stomach 
with all kinds of bread and foods
you became so sluggish 
so sleepy

what comes of such indulgence?
either recklessness
or the need to go to the toilet

sounds of moans and mourning
come from the soul while fasting
but the only sound that comes after a meal
is a low-pitched rumble from the rear end

so friend
if you want to hear what the soul has to say
then skip the meal;
it you want to hear from the other end
then bring the bowl closer to you

Expansion

IMG_1531
The view from my room at Cavallo Point Lodge. If it wasn’t for the fog, beyond the eucalyptus, you’d see the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the hardest parts of preparing for The Hive Global Leaders Program this week was getting over the idea that I didn’t belong.

Once the initial euphoria of anticipation passed and I took a look at who my fellow Hivers  were, a shock of “I’m out of my league” shuddered through me and I closed my laptop lid.

As much as our hearts may dream of expanding our horizons and recreating ourselves in the model of who we are inside, our egos and identities want to keep us safe. There’s a  reason why we lead the lives we do and why so many dreams go unfulfilled. When we step into the unknown and out of the comfort zone of familiarity, a lot of uncomfortable emotions arise. And it’s a lot easier, and a lot safer, to avoid such raw feelings of uncertainty. It’s a lot easier to postpone something until we feel more ready, accomplished or prepared.

But there’s nothing like jumping in.

So I did. And with the loving support of friends and colleagues, I got over myself and started considering that I belong. Because I say I do. Because I know there’s a place for connection, communion and awareness in all spheres of life, and I want to bring those things to global leaders, just like I’ve been bringing them to my friends and clients all along.

I belong here because I see a need and I want to fill it: with insights, support and everything else I bring when I show up. I’m not like the other entrepreneurs, techies and leaders whom I’m meeting (most of them at least) and that’s okay. In fact, that’s exactly why I need to be here.

Finding The Soul Behind Your Walls

IMG_9700In the space between sleep and wake this morning, I was inspired by some thoughts about contemplation, subjectivity and the human necessity for physical and symbolic structures to represent the ineffable. Because that’s what I like to think about when I’m waking up.

It got me writing as soon as I got up, and then browsing through the internets, where I found this wonderful review of Parker J. Palmer’s book “A Hidden Wholeness” on Brainpickings.org.

Wikipedia lists Parker J. Palmer as an author, educator and activist. He’s also a Quaker and a wise voice to which I return again and again.

The physical structure which he uses to describe what keeps us from our true selves is the wall. And this is what he has to say about it: Here is the ultimate irony of the divided life: live behind a wall long enough, and the true self you tried to hide from the world disappears from your own view. The wall itself and the wall outside it become all that you know. Eventually, you even forget that the wall is there. And that hidden behind it is someone called “you.”

When we talk about things which are subjective – how we feel, what we sense – language immediately becomes a challenge. That is why these things are the domain of art and poetry: how else can we capture such elusive sensations than through symbol and suggestion?

In our rational world, what is subjective is assumed to be the unreliable inferior to its more scientific counterpart, the objective. And yet, as Parker makes clear, when we address our subjective selves, we can find who we really are.

The next questions become: how important is it to discover who we really are and are we willing to give up objectivity to find out?

Why Spiritual Activism

IMG_7283It sells nothing. It has no agenda but to give voice to those values which otherwise go unexpressed in the public discourse: values like peace, justice and sustainability.

Unfortunately, as the term “sustainability” has become synonymous with a specific business driven agenda, it’s easy to forget what it’s really about: the capacity of human beings to sustain our presence on this planet.

At a time when resources seemed infinite, sustainability was not an issue in our world. It’s only recently that we’ve seen the vast consequences of the West’s shift towards corporate capitalism, industrialization and technology.

But if things changed so quickly once, they can change again.

There are certainly nefarious individuals among us who would have you believe that greed, violence and injustice are the cornerstones and final words regarding human interaction. In believing that dark vision of human nature, you do their work for them. They would not have you believe in things like peace, cooperation or even an equitable democracy. Instead they wish you only to think the worst of each other and yourselves.

Religious forces ask you to believe in your unworthiness. Capitalist forces ask you to believe in your poverty. Media forces ask you to believe in your helplessness and ugliness. Pharmaceutical forces ask you to believe in your illness. So called educational forces ask you to believe in your children’s disabilities, and political forces ask you to believe in the most pernicious things of all: your separation from other human beings and the world around you. These are the values to which we are exposed everyday. These are the values of every advertising and political campaign, and they play on the assumption that you are inadequate.

As a Spiritual Activist, I only ask that you dare believe in your best, in the power of your voice, in the power of harmony to seek itself and the power of human beings to come together peacefully to create solutions for a better world.

Don’t bother  sharing this message with the ignorant, the angry or the willfully indifferent. I don’t speak for them, I speak for you: the caring but overwhelmed, the loving but discouraged, the peaceful but afraid.

I speak in order that you find your own voice, your own courage and your own sense of purpose. I speak to let you know that you are not alone and to remind you that when you give in to cynicism and pessimism, you give in to those forces which seek to make you powerless by turning your own mind against you.

As Margaret Mead once famously said: never doubt that a small group of committed individuals has the power to change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.

More Thoughts on Fundraising and The Hive

IMG_1006 (2)Earlier this month I began a GoFundMe campaign to raise $2000 for a leadership conference in San Francisco called The Hive. So far, the campaign has received $1300 from 23 people – in a variety of amounts between $10 and $250 – and I appreciate every last bit of it.

In addition to allowing me to attend the event, the experience of requesting financial support has also pushed me to articulate what I do, what I stand for and how I see my purpose in the world. If you’re curious about any of it – especially if you’re on the fence about whether to contribute – please read on…

For almost a decade, I’ve read people’s cards and offered the guidance, support and space they’ve needed to connect with their own internal wisdom and make the most powerful choices possible. Out of our work together, my clients have frequently experienced a sense of inner peace, connection and stability that so many people long for in our busy world.

In more recent years, I’ve facilitated a rag tag group of spiritual seekers in the Tacoma area: supporting them to find the wisdom and power in their own diverse spiritual experiences, and creating the rare opportunity to share their most private spiritual experiences and questions in an environment of safety and acceptance.

I’ve enjoyed both tremendously, learning a great deal not only from my work with others but from my private spiritual practices as well. More than anything, I’ve learned firsthand the power that authentic connections – to one’s own heart and the hearts of others – have to alter perspectives on our own lives and the world around us.

At a time when problems can seem overwhelming and out of control, I’ve witnessed the capacity of such connections to create clarity and power where before there was only stress and overwhelm. And I am clear that, if such clarity and power is possible in individuals facing personal difficulties, it is possible for a world facing the kinds of dangers that threaten the existence of us all.

My intention in attending The Hive is to discover new ways of making my insights and skills valuable on a greater scale, and to join a global community of leaders also committed to creating a better world.

I’m clear that so much of what I’ve already learned is thanks to the generous trust my clients and my community has put in my wisdom and insight. And I’m clear that, at this point, I’m moving forward because of that same trust.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me along the way and thank you in advance for generously supporting this next step,

Yours, Jesi

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