Tectonic Plates.

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“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.

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Living without Labels

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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.

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Autobiography in Five Chapters

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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?

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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.

Thanking the Past … Embracing the Now

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I thought I knew.

And perhaps I did.

But the me I was then is but a distant relative of who I am now.

Living has been done. Lessons have been learned (sometimes reluctantly). I’ve fallen down and gotten back up…how many times? I’ve lost count.

I’ve taken several steps forward and many steps back…occasionally wearing grooves so deep I have to climb my way out of a hole in order to move on.

Sometimes I have even turned around, going back down terrain I’ve already explored…needing a second, third (fourth?) look before I was able to confidently continue into new territory.

Haven’t we all?

My recent dreams are reminders of these lessons learned. In them I hear the faraway echoes of the people, pain and situations of my past, calling my name through a dark, hazy fog. Their touch is damp and chilly and the smells are musty…reminding me that it is time to lovingly thank the past for its lessons and let it go. While a little afraid, in these dreams I also find myself aware of the warm light that surrounds me, emanates from within me in this moment. I am aware of the strong heart beating within my chest, the Love that surrounds me like a force field, and the Energy that lights my way. And I know that I am perfectly okay.

I thought I knew…

…who I was, what I needed, where I was going, and how it was supposed to be. I grin thinking of the 25-year old me and how much she didn’t know, even though she thought she knew so much. I smile at the 40-year old me, fully aware of (and okay with) all that there is I still do not, and may never, know.

My life flows like a river, sometimes up and sometimes down…sometimes stopping here or there, sometimes rushing with the current. I resist the ego’s need for reassurance. Certainty. Answers. I know they don’t exist. Not really. This life is not a highway with perfectly-timed stoplights. There is no map I can look at to see where I’m going. And because of that, there are no limits. Only possibilities.

Emotions well up at unexpected times. I feel so much.

Gratitude…Joy…Apprehension…Uncertainty…

Trust.

Sometimes that trust hides underneath a mountain of uncertainty, and I need to take a mental broom and sweep the cobwebs away to find it. But it is always there. Calm. Bright. Consistently beating at my very core.

Namaste.

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Kindness.

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Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Naomi Shihab Nye

What yoga has taught me

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Yoga has taught me….

….pain is not ‘pain’ until we label it as such.

Pain. Discomfort. Pleasure. These are all just words for different types of sensation.​

Once we label what we feel, our ego kicks in, with either aversion or attachment, and we are no longer able to see our situation with clarity.

Simply be an empty vessel through which sensations of all types may travel. Breathe them in, exhale them out. Do not grab onto the good feelings; nor try and push the bad feelings away. Everything has a beginning. Everything comes to an end.

Acceptance.

I invite you to be quietly curious: “Hm, isn’t it interesting how my ego wants to make sense of this feeling by labeling it heartache/jealousy/pain/whatever.” Gently resist the urge to give what you feel a label. That is anxiety. Be soft and relaxed, like a lotus floating in a pond. Allow yourself to relax into the waves of life; do not resist. That is when we drown.

Enjoy it all, this incredibly interesting, amusing, miraculous life. See through the eyes of True Self, the Observer.

Namaste.