A while ago, I was having a hard time with a few challenging situations. In response, I was asking myself a deep question: “Why am I this way, why am I afraid?”  But the undercurrent of those questions was, “What’s wrong with me, and how do I fix this broken part?” I turned to my friend TJ, a knowledgeable healer. He told me that such questions were not helpful. “Helpful questions,” he said, “are ones that guide you to where you want to be.”

The helpful questions I selected were, “How can I live more of my life in the vibration of love?” and, “If I fall out of that vibration, how quickly can I return?”  (You might choose something else, such as “in freedom” or “in ease” or “in abundance” or “in integrity.”) I cultivate the answer by weaving spaciousness into the day. 

In the morning for example, I wake up and do a routine of self care. Lemon water, dry brush, shower, oil my body, drink coffee or Vita Greens. If I’m at home, I go to the space where I’ve set up a cushion and an altar, surrounded by pictures of people and symbols that have been a blessing to me. On chilly days I grab a fat blanket, pull it around my shoulders, close my eyes, and get very still. I relax my face, let my eyes get soft, pay attention to my breathing, and let any thoughts that arise drift by on the current.

If I’m lucky, a deep meditation arises from this sitting. Some days, I have the profound experience of being pure light, with a direct understanding that “I” am not my mind or body. Some days, I get creative inspiration; on other days, the little ouches that I’ve glossed over rise to the surface.

When the timer goes off after 20 minutes (or 30 or 40, depending on how busy my day is), I offer up my gratitude and appreciation for the day. I bring into my awareness and speak the name of anyone I know who is suffering, or needs a little love. Making this connection is my top priority.  By this time the rest of our household is waking up—there are calls and meetings and all the things that need attention. But that sense of being fine, and being the light, stays with me. I’m not trying to say that we should deny what are usually called “negative” emotions.

Strong emotions of any kind are a gift. It’s what we do with them. Contraction, after all, doesn’t feel great in the body. Meanness has a hangover. Expansiveness, openness, ease—all of these feel good. When we work with strong emotions—like anger, sadness, or fear—we own them, and let them pass through us. We transform their energy into something positive. Anger, for example, can shift into the power to act for the good. Fear can turn into the power to protect, and grow. Sadness can turn into mercy and compassion. 

So today, on this morning approaching the winter solstice and the turn of a decade—and on all mornings—I ask myself: “How can I live more of my life in the vibration of love?”