(804) 928-3189 BethHedquist@gmail.com
My Secret to Happiness: Unhappiness

My Secret to Happiness: Unhappiness

I recently went to see a woman speak on the Science of Happiness. She was an engaging, informative, entertaining speaker and I really enjoyed myself. I even patted myself on the back because I do so many of the things she recommended to be happy:   Eat right Get plenty of rest Choose work you love Create meaningful, supportive relationships Spend your money on experiences not things Put away your cell phone when you are with others And meditate.   Guess what? I woke up the next morning feeling very depressed.   And for a moment I was mad at that speaker, because I had done all the right things and I didn’t have the prize. You see, my long term intimate relationship ended not so long ago, so I am in a period of loss and grief. Which is appropriate, and healthy even. But it highlighted for me the frantic search in this culture to be happy.   We spend so much energy in search of the right relationship, the right job, the right body, the right friends, the right therapist, the right answer, the right moral code, all so that we will  finally win the prize of being happy. Like Happy is that Garden of Eden we are enroute to, and once we reach our destination, we will reside there forever.   Then one day we meander through the valley of the shadow of death and we think we have lost our way. Failed. Lost the prize. Or maybe we have been in that valley much of our lives, and we wonder what is inherently wrong with...
Returning to the Peace That Underlies All Fear

Returning to the Peace That Underlies All Fear

  “When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” Wendell Berry   Fear. Anxiety. Despair. Have you been feeling any of these recently? I’ve seen and heard enough in everyday life and in the news encouraging and exacerbating these emotions lately. And it’s all too easy for me to numb these feelings out by getting busy and staying busy.   So I went on a much anticipated two week vacation to California, where I could slow down and immerse myself in nature and spend time with loved ones. A time to get away from doing and enjoy being.   And it was amazing how I could exchange busy-at-work with busy-at-vacationing.   Driving from one place to another, hiking this trail and that, photographing this fantastic scene and then the next, and then the next. Loving every minute of it, and exhausted at the end of every day.   Still, in the background it was there. Fear. Anxiety. Despair. Would I make my plane? Would my daughter get lost on her way to meet us?...
A Sacred Pause on the Threshold of Possibility

A Sacred Pause on the Threshold of Possibility

Another new year has begun! It’s January, a month named after the Roman God Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, and often symbolized by gates, doorways, and passageways. Janus is often depicted with two faces, one looking back in reflection, and one looking forward with anticipation. As we begin the new year we stand on the threshold between what has been and what can be, which is a potent time to consciously set intentions for the manifestation of our deepest desires.   But before we get busy with New Year’s resolutions, to-do lists, and the details of daily life, I invite you to indulge in a Sacred Pause…an opportunity to slow down, relax, and carve out some time for reflection on the previous year. Allowing the various memories of the year to bubble up as they wish, have your journal handy, and use these questions to guide your meditation:   Which memories of the past year held the most meaning for you? Perhaps you achieved a long held dream or goal. Maybe it was an interaction with a stranger or a loved one that invoked intimacy, compassion, or forgiveness. It could even have been a moment you experienced nature with an open heart and expanded consciousness.   What did you engage in that made your heart sing? A hobby, an interest, a volunteer offering, a cause you are passionate about, or anything that was just plain fun!   What did you learn this year? This might be a practical new skill, a spiritual or emotional insight, or a valuable lesson learned in the midst of adversity.   How...
The Gateway to Gratitude

The Gateway to Gratitude

It’s almost Thanksgiving again. Time for the G-word. Yes, Gratitude.   Gratitude is a beautiful spiritual practice that can quickly shift your perspective from a place of victimhood, despair, and anger to one of appreciation, contentment, and serenity. It can allow you to more deeply receive the blessings that are already present, and in so doing manifest more abundance.   But if you are experiencing a crisis, a tragedy, or living amidst chaos, jumping too quickly to gratitude can be inauthentic, a spiritual bypass that avoids the necessary step of feeling your emotions and holding them in compassion. Sometimes others will try to move you too quickly to gratitude because they cannot hold their own pain, and therefore are uncomfortable around yours.   If you’ve found yourself unable to genuinely feel gratitude in spite of your blessings, or feel downright anger at the suggestion that you “should” feel grateful, that may be the clue that there is a step that needs to be taken before gratitude can arise.   I’m not implying you have a free pass to spew cruelty and hatred on others, or wallow in self-pity and victimhood. But I would invite you to slow down, to view your circumstances from the perspective of your soul’s journey, and explore the spiritual meaning of the crisis you are experiencing. It is an opportunity to shift from the hard pain of resistance, defense, reactivity, and dualistic thinking, and surrender to the soft pain that is vulnerable, transformative, and healing.   Our Thanksgiving Holiday remembers the Pilgrims, the courageous souls who embarked on a difficult journey to a strange land...