Stillness Is Stength

Standard

“Breathing in, I see myself as still water. Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.

Near the mountain, there is a lake with clear, still water reflecting the mountain and the sky with pristine clarity. You can do the same. If you are calm and still enough, you can reflect the mountain, the blue sky, and the moon exactly as they are. You reflect whatever you see exactly as it is, without distorting anything.

When we see things or listen to other people, we often don’t see clearly or really listen. We see and hear our projections and our prejudices. We are not clear enough, and we have a wrong perception. Even if our friend is giving us a compliment, we may argue with him because we distort what he says.

If we are not calm, we only listen to our hopes or our anger. We will not be able to receive the truth that is trying to reflect itself on our lake. We need to make our water still if we want to receive reality as it is. If you feel agitated, don’t do or say anything. Just breathe in and out until you are calm enough. Then ask your friend to repeat what he has said. This will avoid a lot of damage. Stillness is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness is strength.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh, from Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living

I’ve been waking up feeling heavy lately…remnants of bad dreams swirl in my head, producing heavy sighs and plenty of ego indulgent confusion, hurt feelings, feelings of being rejected, and loneliness. They hang over me like storm clouds, making my thoughts fuzzy and my heart race, and it’s ripe territory for the ‘woe is me’ storytelling that the ego likes to do. It’s easy to make negative assumptions when we don’t have answers, instead of simply accepting that sometimes there are no answers to be had. But our brains demand to make sense of things, so we ruminate, misinterpret, storytell and suddenly we are no longer dealing with any sort of truth. Instead we’ve produced a heavily produced ‘reality’ show that we call truth, full of projections, judgments and conclusions that serve whatever story we like to tell ourselves.

Like Thich Nhat Hanh says above, the only way to gain understanding and insight is to be still. How do we begin? With the breath. Through meditation. We let those storm clouds pass, even just for a few moments, breathing in peace and exhaling love. We must stay with it, day after day. Some days will be easier than others and it is hard to stay determined with the ego barking in our ear.

My mantra for today is: Be still.  Not in the body, but in the ‘monkey mind’ that likes to jump around from assumption to assumption, trying to convince me that I’m not enough. I invite you to find peace through stillness in your world today as well. Namaste.

248612841899867714wWLbKC9jc

Learning.

Standard

I miss inhaling the scent of skin, hair, and freshly washed clothes as I’m embraced in a tight hug – feeling warm breath on my neck – reminding me that I do, in fact, matter. I miss the intertwining of legs and feet, no words needed, just touch that happens without thinking about it. I miss comfortable silence.

I miss the ease that accompanies having a good thing.

I needed freedom. Time to find out who I am on my own. I wanted a chance to get to get to know myself, and discovered I like her. A lot. I needed time to cultivate friendships and be there for others and also learn to depend on them to be there for me. I needed time to say ‘yes’ to people and places and things that scare me.

I needed solitude to reflect on how to be an adult in relationships going forward. And for a long time I just didn’t miss anything. I felt free and unencumbered and blissful. Now that I’m learning who I am, I’m discovering what I miss. What is important for my next adventure? What are the weaknesses that I still need to work on? What kind of partner do I want to be?

It isn’t easy to sit through the discomfort, to ride the waves of insecurity and fear and anxiety that show up unexpectedly and yell, ‘What if no one ever loves me again?’ This isn’t the Observer, this isn’t the True Self speaking. I know that now. While I have chosen time and time again to run away from that voice with one distraction or another, I’m trying to be brave enough to listen now. And I’m getting better at recognizing the inner child who is simply begging to be soothed. Sometimes just showing her that I hear her is enough. I am worthy. I matter. I am Loved. I am LOVE. And I’m learning……

It’s time.

Standard

It’s time.

It’s time to stop holding myself back. It’s time to stop waiting for something to change and instead, make the changes I want to see for myself. It’s time to stop giving my power away.

It’s time to stop listening to the voice of fear that resides in my heart chakra as a dark purple bruise. This voice throbs painfully and chokes me up whenever it tells me that I’m never going to get my shit together or that I’m not worthy of authentic, lasting Love. This judgmental voice pops up out of nowhere and declares, ‘You look old,’ when I gaze into the mirror, or ‘You’re too out of shape to wear that bikini,’ or ‘You aren’t a very good Mom,’ or ‘You can’t afford to go back to school and aren’t smart enough to do it anyway.’ It’s the disgusted voice that buzzes in my ear, ‘Just stop trying.’

This voice isn’t loud; it speaks to me in whispers, but it demands to be heard. It manifests itself as hesitation, anger, sadness, irritation, apathy, lethargy and insecurity.

I’m sick and tired of the voice. I don’t want to listen to it anymore. This voice is simply the culmination of past hurts and disappointments, trying to protect me from taking any risks by bullying me and keeping me locked in an uncomfortable little box of beliefs that no longer serve me, and maybe never did to begin with.

I am worthy. I am a beautiful person. I am smart and I have the ability to be successful, strong and confident. My meditation this week includes a visualization of shedding this old skin of self-limiting beliefs. As I shed this skin, what bursts forth is bright, warm, loving Light. A new way of thinking.

Everything I want to be I already am, and I will continue telling myself this Truth until I finally believe it. Until I begin to live it.

What’s holding you back? Today I invite you to explore whether the ‘voice’ that resides within you is telling you the Truth or a big heap of self-limiting lies.

Namaste. ;

p.s. If you’d like more information on the chakras and how to unblock yours, please click here.

BruisedHeart

Tectonic Plates.

Standard

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” -Rumi

I woke up today thinking about tectonic plates. My sleep was shallow and restless and I had hazy dreamy thoughts about how, when pressure builds beneath the earth’s surface, something has to give – whether it’s in the form of an earthquake, volcano eruption, or something else. These eruptions are big and scary and loud. They can be terrifying for the inhabitants of nearby cities as the ground quakes and heaves beneath them, sometimes causing quite a bit of damage in their wake.

But you know what else they are? Necessary.

Beneath the earth’s surface there is heat and energy, constantly shifting, moving, and flowing beneath the asthenosphere. Friction builds over time and the pressure must eventually be relieved. We don’t question it; we don’t define it as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It just is. Acceptance.

We, too, are made up of heat and energy (along with our own unique human systems and physiology). We, too, have pressure that builds over time and eventually needs to be released. But – we tend to fool ourselves about it in our ego’s quest for perfection.

How do we ignore it? We ignore our intuition. We choke back our tears. We swallow our anger and disappointment and turn it inward. We preoccupy and distract ourselves and talk ourselves out of how we feel. The wounds are still there, but instead of allowing them to be the place where the light enters us, we fold in on ourselves and bury them down deep. We deny their existence because acknowledging them would hurt, and we fear that discomfort. I see these buried wounds within us as dark red and purple bruises. They are internal injuries that have no chance to heal because they are never brought to the light.

I’ve begun to realize that while, yes, acknowledging these wounds – saying, ‘I AM HURT/ANGRY/SCARED/ LONELY/ANXIOUS/DEPRESSED/UNCOMFORTABLE’ – does in fact smart, denying my Truth hurts far worse and for much longer.

I’m learning how to reach into myself with love and kindness and gently lift these wounds, one by one, acknowledging them and bringing them lovingly into the light. And when I do this, I am able to rest in the knowledge that I have been here before. Because we are all connected, I know that I am not alone. I am comforted by the knowledge that there are others, past and present, who know exactly how my pain feels. I inhale and breathe in their sorrow with mine, and I exhale and release it all back into the Universe, trusting in its infinite wisdom, trusting in my Self.

My wounds ARE where the light enters me. We all have tender places that ache when we touch them. We all have battle scars. We all have pressure that needs to be released. You, like me, have a choice: lock those vulnerable places up tight and pretend they don’t exist until the pressure consumes us…or, gently reach inward and allow them to be bathed in the healing light that surrounds us all. We Are One.

Namaste.

Screenshot_2015-03-24-10-01-24-1

Living without Labels

Standard

When you really get right down to it, anytime an unpleasant feeling arises and you choose to delve deeper into that feeling by pausing and asking yourself ‘why?’ again and again as you uncover each layer, you begin to discover that the ego’s attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain are the cause of all your suffering. It’s that simple. But it’s not that easy to change.

While it sometimes feels like it could be a more relaxed existence, I’m not suggesting we should try to completely rid our Selves of our human egos. (The word ‘ego’ has gotten a bad rap in today’s spiritual studies, but if you go to http://www.dictionary.com, you’ll see that it has synonyms like ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-image,’ which feel like much kinder definitions!) It does serve its purpose, in my opinion; however, I also think we would benefit from taking ourselves a LOT less seriously and remembering that we don’t have to let the ego be in the driver’s seat of our lives. I believe we need to become the Observer more often – by paying attention when we feel angry, sad, jealous, hurt, etc. We don’t run away from it. Instead, we sit with it, we accept it. We say, ‘Okay, let’s see what this is all about.’ We take a breath, noticing where we feel that sensation in our bodies and what it feels like. We ask ourselves ‘why’ and challenge the dramatic little story the ego wants us to believe about this feeling. Is this real? Is this true? We remind ourselves that in this very moment, we are okay. Then, we let it go. I like to envision blowing it away like the seeds of a dandelion.

My yoga teacher touched on this very idea last night during a particularly difficult part of class: ‘Surrender to the energy traveling through your body without trying to define it. It isn’t pain. It isn’t nausea. It isn’t anything until we label it as such. Let the energy travel through you and simply be a vessel.’

Wanting things to be different than they are makes no sense, and yet I do it every day when things aren’t going the way I want. How often do YOU cause yourself more pain by trying to control, wrestle and contort the people and circumstances in your life into what you want them to be? What would happen if we let go of that weight on our shoulders and accepted each and every moment exactly as it is without the need to label it as good or bad? Can it simply just be? And why do I think things should be the way that I (think I) want them to be? Are my wants and needs any more important than anyone else’s? How often do I actually know what I really want anyway? There have been plenty of times when I got exactly what I wanted, only to find out it wasn’t what I wanted at all.

In the documentary The Buddha, Robert Thurman (Uma’s dad!) says with a gentle smile and a twinkle in his eye, something like, ‘If you’re sad? Just wait. If you’re happy? Just wait. If you’re angry, just wait.’ I find it tremendously helpful to remind myself of this simple truth and keep a sense of humor about how fleeting ALL my thoughts are. Not every single one of my feelings has to be acted upon; nor does it have to be labeled as good or bad. Just beautiful. All of it. Because I’m here. I’m living. I’m learning.

In his book Falling Into Grace, Adyashanti says, ‘As we begin to see that the arguments we have with life are a form of insanity, and how egoic consciousness keeps us in suffering, cracks may begin to appear in this old relationship we have with the way we see the world. Our reference for happiness no longer comes from the outside world. It doesn’t even come from our inner experience being a particular way; a sense of natural ease and happiness is there simply because we’ve opened entirely to the way things actually are.’

Are you ready to open to each and every beautiful moment in your life? Let’s do it together.

Namaste.

10556487_10205062991237379_4776122544802667153_n

Autobiography in Five Chapters

Standard

by Portia Nelson

1) I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost…
I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit
My eyes are open; I know where I am;
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

5) I walk down another street.

We all learn what we need to learn, eventually. Trust in the process. Trust in your mistakes. In fact, stop calling them mistakes and instead recognize them for the lessons they truly are. It is all so very beautiful – these gorgeously twisting and winding experiences that make up our lives. Even your heartache, even your pain has a raw beauty, a beautifully bruised purple color that you see when you close your eyes that lets you know you’re Alive. Learn to love your life, like a book you cannot put down. I wonder what the next chapter will hold. I write it as I go….relishing each moment for all its infinite possibilities….feeling the raw emotion only one who is fully alive can feel…cherishing the characters who will forever live in the pages of my heart. I am bliss!

Namaste.

Where are you going?

Standard

Where are you going?

When will you arrive?

Once you get there, will you know? Or will your mind already be focused on something else…the next goal to be attained, or perhaps the next person, place, job, car, house or thing that will ‘make’ you happy?

You have already arrived. You are already home. And if you do not close your eyes and breathe into this moment, it will be gone – just like that – without you noticing.

What will you remember from your life? A profound conversation that left you feeling grateful to be understood? The intense beauty of your beloved’s eye color as you gazed at each other for what seemed like hours? The smell of your child’s freshly washed hair as you brushed it after her bath? Or perhaps the warm soft grip of a loving hand taking yours just when you needed it most?

These beautiful details are what life is made up of. They’re small and they’re quick. And we miss them when we aren’t living in the present moment.

Life is not defined by the deadlines, the bills, the ‘stuff’ in the house that needs to be cleaned, or rushing through traffic to get…where?

Where are you going?

There is no magical destination. There is no magical age, place or time in the future that will suddenly make you feel happy, satisfied and content. No other moment exists except this one. Right now. Are you showing up for it? Or are you rushing right by it on your way to some place in the future that does not yet, and may never, exist?

Just think about it.

Namaste.