Friday, February 6, 2015

Breathing Life's Breath

I've found that there is a very big difference between knowing something to be true in my head, and living it as truth.

I've known for a long time that I am God in expression, and I'm grateful for that awareness because it took quite awhile for me to be able to accept that gift.  Although my intellect had been able to wrap itself around the idea, it took my body much longer to grasp it as truth.

Awareness of the truth that I am God in expression came from a lifetime of seeking to know who I am.  That God lives in me and as me is a deeply certain and heartfelt belief that is central to how I perceive existence.

In looking back I can see that the yearning to recognize the divine within myself was fueled in large part by an intense amount of resistance to who I thought I was, but didn't want to be.  I wasn't aware of it at the time, but I was deeply terrified to be me.  I didn't want to be my body with its imperfections, or the painful void that was left when my grandmother died.  I didn't want to be the pain that I carried for my birth family so that it wouldn't fall apart, or the shame that I felt at being so vulnerable.  I felt that if I kept seeking, I could find out how to be content and brave, articulate and powerful.  I could finally stop being so afraid.

So I lived and learned, as we all do.  I continued seeking because I had to, and came to a place finally where I knew that God lived in me and in all things.  I was very grateful for that, and still am.  I felt that nothing could happen that could rattle me too badly because I knew that God was in all of it.

But divine wisdom, in her infinite ability to set us toward our true north, shook my perspective.  She led me to the hermit's path so that I could slow down to listen more carefully to what I'd been unconscious to.  Questions came up for me that I'd never faced before.  I still believed with all of my being that everything that happened is God, but I found that I hadn't really been living that belief.  In my head I believed that I was an expression of God, but realized that I had become very adept at ignoring where my experience in my body didn't feel like that at all.  I realized how much I was burying feelings that didn't fit into my previously held belief system.  I'd tried to create a good life and succeeded, but hadn't even realized that in trying to put my experience into a box and tie it up neatly into a bow, I had been causing my own deepest emotions and motivations to be hidden from myself.

It was an unsettling time, to say the least, because I had spent so many years seeking what was uplifting and hopeful that the angry, shameful, scared person who lived in me whose voice had been silenced for so long was a very unknown and unwelcome presence.

Meditation in particular brought me face to face with these conflicting sides of myself, and so meditation went from being something that had been very positive for me for many years to an often uncomfortable experience.  I sometimes felt in meditation as if I were dying, and I guess in a way I was, to the need to see myself in a particularly one-sided way.  I truthfully hadn't been sure that I'd be able to shift enough within myself to be able to recognize God in all of those angry, scared and shameful parts of myself that I'd been afraid to see.

And so this brings me to breathing life's breath, and the point that I began with, which is that there's been a lot I've known in my head that my body didn't know at all.

I was sitting in meditation a few weeks ago, noticing how stirred up my emotions were, and how familiar it felt being niggled by anxious thoughts about something that I should have done differently or better.  I sat and noticed the turmoil, and didn't deny or distract myself from my feelings, because I try really hard not to do that anymore.

I noticed how fragile and sensitive I felt, and at the same time also noticed the truth I've held in my head about being an embodiment of God, and I sat with the immense contradiction of that.  I became aware then of my breath, and that the Life that God breathed into existence is the very same breath that was moving in and out of my own body.  I breathed deeply into all parts of myself, knowing that the Life I Am is wise, perfect and never ending in a way that my mind could never comprehend in all of its seeking.  My body was able to come home then, to know herself as an expression of an absolute and joyful perfection that transcends death.  I recognized myself breathing life's breath along with every other expression of miraculous creation.  Just as the Sierra pines that I love so much have their time in the sun, expressing life in their unique way, being nourished and experiencing hardship, expressing their own beauty, and then moving into another cycle of eternal creation, so do I.

And so now, just beneath my thinking mind's awareness of the too-early alarm clock and freeway traffic, calendars and to do lists, aspirations and disappointments and all of life's details, is my body's awareness of the constant hum of life's breath breathing in me.  I Am, and my body dances!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Honoring the Hermit

I am happy to be back to blogging after a rather long hiatus.  I spent a couple of years honoring the hermit within me, and in upcoming blog posts I look forward to sharing how the process affected my perspective.

I was surprised when I began to recognize the strong need that was growing within me to pull back from many of the relationships and activities that had defined me for a long time.  It wasn't that I wanted to permanently step away from all of these things, but rather that I felt an increasing lack of energy and drive for them.

At the time I had been active and busy, feeling successful enough, enjoying my work and relationships and all of the trappings of the life and identity I had crafted.  I began to have very little desire to socialize or work on hobbies and activities that I had enjoyed, and felt very unmotivated.  I went to work every day and took part in a minimum of activities, and even those were a chore. I didn't even want to write.  Thank goodness that my husband and I have had almost thirty years of witnessing each others' processes and learning to trust them, or I think he would have been wondering who this new person was and where his wife had gone. 

I started hearing the word "hermit" in my head because that is what I was beginning to feel like, and it felt foreign and negative, mostly because I thought a hermit was someone who couldn't deal with people and was forced to isolate himself from life.  I didn't want to be a hermit; I wanted to be me in my familiar life with its typical interactions and responses, anxieties and validations.  I wanted to be comfortable in "my place," secure in where I fit in to the big picture.

In looking back I can see the wisdom in pulling back from what I thought I knew about who I am, but at the time it was very disconcerting because I had no idea where it would take me.  I was afraid to stop interacting in the world as I was, and getting the responses that I was used to getting, because those responses from others proved to me that I exist, and that who I have become would be allowed to stay.

I got to a point where I recognized the wisdom of this urging to slow down and pull back into myself as the same quiet but insistent voice that has guided me many times in my life in a direction that I had no conscious awareness of wanting or needing to go.  I only know that it speaks to my heart and I must follow, and it is not always comfortable.

And so I sat with the discomfort of feeling like what I thought was important maybe wasn't, that the characteristics that made me me probably didn't, uncertain about my own deepest needs and priorities and fears beyond the persona that I had thought was all of me.

I allowed the hermit within me to express as fully as possible and spent a lot of time alone.  I tried to listen carefully to my feelings and what my body needed.  I tried to give myself as much compassion and space as I possibly could through the process.  I tried to find a way to just be with myself in the middle of all of it, and not try to escape into busyness or distraction.  I realized just how loud the doubts and fears were when I stopped being so busy.  And I managed to mostly stay with it, not gently and peacefully, but with an ever growing amount of awareness.

I recognize the gifts that this time has brought.  In tarot the hermit card means introspection and looking for answers within, a solitary quest in which answers do not lie in the material world but within us. 

It allowed me to explore the question of who I am, if I'm not my personal tendencies and habits, my relationships, my trappings, the way I look, my job, my particular abilities and handicaps, my loves and prejudices, my fears and hates and hopes.  It allowed me to find that place where I am all of these things and none of them, and where I can hold that dichotomy as the truth of myself.

Honoring the hermit within me helped me increase my ability to honor myself in all of my parts and shifting shades; a spectrum of color living in me and as me, the full range of darkness to light.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Finding the Gift in Endings

We generally welcome new beginnings, looking forward to the possibilities inherent in a fresh start or in novel experiences that we feel will be good for us.  Endings, on the other hand, often aren’t perceived as positive.  When something important in our lives ends there can be feelings of failure or regret, even if we are relieved about being finished.

In order to create in this life we must also be able to destroy, and therein lies the grace in endings.  When we hold on to something that no longer serves us, the message that we give to this infinitely-creative universe is that we intend to stay right where we are.  If we instead choose to end what it is that no longer serves us, even if the ending is painful, it makes room for what we are meant to grow into.

Endings can be a vast gift to the spirit.  Although we may not see them this way in the moment, endings allow us to collect our energy from the past and bring ourselves squarely into the present, which is important because creation always occurs in the Now.

I’ve noticed for myself that I’d really rather avoid endings.  I hold on, at least on an energetic level, to the person or situation whose time in my life has past.  Endings can feel like a death, and in a very real way they are.  Truly letting go of something means the death of the person we used to be, whose roles, priorities and perspectives defined us in a certain way.  Letting go forces us to evolve, and can be scary because it requires moving into as-yet-unknown parts of ourselves. 

I’m learning that I need to fully experience the meaning and emotion surrounding the endings in my life, rather than try to bury my feelings and quickly move on.  Whether the ending was full of conflict or felt appropriate and supported, we need to take the time to process the life experience we’ve just been through so that we can own the gifts it has provided. 

Endings can bring us more awareness of our capacity for love or understanding or of our own power, make clear our need to set firm boundaries, help find our areas of resistance to what is, or countless other steps in our continuing evolution.   

We can sit in meditation or prayer and allow our understanding to come to us.  We can spend quiet, undistracted time just feeling our emotions and letting ourselves acknowledge them.  We can process our experience through journaling or writing poetry.  In whatever way we choose to connect with the infinite wisdom that lives within us, it’s important to take the time to find and assimilate the lessons and the growth so that we can carry them into our future.

May you take time to gather the gifts that come when something ends, and may this tool be a blessing.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Staying the Course

I wrote a post a while ago called “Stepping Off the Path of Least Resistance,” and I’ve had quite a bit of opportunity lately to revisit that concept. I’ve been able to continue recognizing the gifts that come when we commit to something that tests our mettle, and helps us grow into the people we are meant to be.

Growth for the most part is not easy. It comes with all kinds of resistance from others, self-doubt, and rethinking everything about who we thought we were. We can feel as if everything we’re doing is futile, or the new ways in which we’re expressing ourselves are certain to leave us alone and wondering why we thought ourselves capable of that level of expression in the first place.

I spent a large amount of my life playing it safe. I changed and grew, but I did it quietly. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was trying to evolve into my best self while trying to make sure no one around me became uncomfortable. And I got to a point when that strategy didn't work anymore.

We can spend a lifetime attempting to make decisions that keep us safe and comfortable, but the urgings of spirit will make that uncomfortable, too. I’ve found that after spending an amount of time trying to rest easily and avoid challenges, my spirit pushes me to say yes to something that stirs up all kinds of discomfort.

It reminds me of something I read by Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I love that.

And so, we blossom. When we could decide to say no to something difficult, when we could just pull our energy out and move on to more enjoyable pursuits, we stay the course. We recognize that it’s only in the long haul that the fruits of our intention will be gained. We turn our attention to the still, small voice of pure knowing that lives in our hearts, which urges us to take the steps that will help us realize our own greatness. We focus on that voice when everything we’re doing that is different from how we’ve always done things feels just plain wrong.

May you trust the Divine Wisdom that guides you in being more than you thought you were, and may this tool be a blessing. . .

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Letting Life Live Itself Through You

In an ongoing attempt to feel safe, our human egos strive to feel in control of what’s happening in our day-to-day experience. Our level of comfort is directly proportional to how much mastery we feel over the events that impact us.

Studies have shown that people feel happy in relation to how much control they feel in their lives, which makes sense because none of us enjoys feeling at the whim of something outside of us, and unable to create our own outcome.

This speaks to the interesting paradox of control: how much do we really control, and does control actually create a happier and more fulfilling life? William Martin in his book, A Path and a Practice, states that “Attempting to control external events will never keep us safe. Control is an illusion.”   Life lives itself through us in its own way, and on its own terms.

He goes on to say that “Our life is an expression of life itself. Our true nature expresses itself in everything we do. Success and failure are seen as part of a seamless, joyful whole. Each is accepted and fully lived… It seems natural to avoid loss and seek gain, but on this path such distinctions are not helpful. There is no gain without loss. There is no fullness without deprivation. Who knows how or when one gives way to another. So we remain at the center and trust events instead of forcing them. This is the heart of all spiritual paths.”

How do we trust events instead of forcing them, when this human experience fairly demands that we make choices and take actions that further our own agendas and perspectives? How can we not choose to step in to right a wrong or clarify a misunderstanding or push for an outcome that feels right to us?

My dear and very wise husband navigates this paradox by focusing on his ability to influence an outcome, rather than control it. At the end of the day we are really never able to control outcomes. We have no control over other people’s priorities or perspectives, but we can contribute our influence in creating the best outcome we are able to envision. We can state our opinions clearly and even forcefully if we need to, knowing that we can’t control the outcome but we can let our unique voice be involved in the situation. We can take actions that feel right to us, knowing that we have done our best for all involved, and that what happens after that is up to Divine Wisdom. We can live as an expression of our best selves, while allowing life to live itself through us.  We can let go of outcome.

I had the pleasure of hearing a speaker at Unity last weekend who said a few times that no matter what she thinks or how much she resists, life is going to happen anyway. How true. We can choose our own expression and who we want to be in response to everything that happens, but how each individual expression interacts and contributes to the whole is in the hands of ongoing Creation in all its perfection.

May you know the joy that comes from letting life live itself through you in its own perfect way, and may this tool be a blessing. . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Allowing Others Their Hero's Journey

In order to fully experience our own hero’s journey, we must allow others to walk their own sacred path. As a mother, wife, teacher and generally concerned member of society, focusing on my own stuff and leaving others to theirs is not always easy to do.

My children are adults now, and it takes a great deal of talking to myself to remember that when they’re having money issues or health concerns, or whatever else it might be, they don’t need me to jump in with all of my motherly advice. It’s amazing how hard it is for me to stop myself in those moments. I feel literally pulled to help, and to fix, because I don’t want them to hurt in any way.

As much as I see them as smart and infinitely capable human beings, and know them without question as perfect expressions of God, still, in my forgetting, I feel pulled to intervene. Honestly, I do this a lot, at home and at work, with family, friends, and patients.

When I look back over my own life’s challenges, I see without exception that getting through the biggest ones made me who I am today, and nurtured in me the things that I am most proud of. Each of us creates just the right obstacles that we need to move us along on our soul’s purpose of knowing God within us.

I know that my forgetting is a part of me that is separated from truth, and mistakenly believes that my loved ones, or anyone else, can be separated from their highest good. It is a part of myself that mistakenly believes that I can run things better than God can, or that somehow maybe God forgot just this one thing, and needs my help. Silly, I know, but that really is the heart of it.

When I jump in and try to impose my opinions onto someone else’s process, I am making the assumption that they are unable to handle it on their own, and I am helping promote that belief in them also.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Directing another’s path not only perpetuates the false belief that they are unable to manage on their own, but it keeps me from my own path as well. Sometimes we use staying busy with other people’s issues to keep us from being fully present and responsible for what we’re creating on our own hero’s journey. I’d much rather be here for my own life.

So once again, in my remembering, I choose to release my concerns for anyone else’s creations, and allow them the space to walk their hero’s journey in grace. And I give myself permission to be joyfully present and engaged in my own.

May this tool be a blessing. . .

Monday, January 14, 2013

Giving Life to Your Dreams

The new year is a time of hope for our dreams.  Every January, we step into that time when the slate feels more clear, even if conditions are mostly the same as they had been in December.  People feel drawn to create resolutions to do things better, or to make the new year more meaningful or fulfilling in some way.  It is at this time more than at any other time of year that many feel inspired to take a step up in what they can do or have.  I love the holiday season and the new year for many reasons, but mostly because we are more open to possibilities.

People may or may not follow through with their resolutions, but the important part is the dream itself.  Just being open to the possibility that we can create what we envision for ourselves is a very powerful consciousness.  

When we are even slightly open to manifesting our good, even if we previously hadn't been able to figure out how to make it happen, we trust in a universe that always delivers what we expect.  The divine consciousness that we embody is just waiting to provide all of our heart's desires.  We just need to find the place in our heart that is open to the possibility, know it is done, and then do our active part in moving toward it.

I'm finding on my own path, as I glimpse in tiny pieces and in fits and starts the possibility of myself as God, that taking action toward my dreams is the easier part.  Staying connected to the quiet voice within that knows without any doubt what I want and need, what's mine to do in every situation to create the highest outcome for myself and everyone involved, and my inherent capacity to do all of it (and knows this with completely peaceful and joyful ease), is more challenging!

Life is busy, and for me hearing God within means making time to create a relationship with her.  She is always here, but I can't know her quiet, powerful, resonant presence if I don't stop every day and be alone with her, without any distractions.  I can say hello to her quickly in the midst of my day, just to say, "Thank you, God, I am here!"  And that is wonderful.  But I also need to gift myself with the precious time I need to stop and really listen.

When I spend time with the God of my heart my dreams come alive, because all things are possible.  I see my dreams as joyful possibilities that are already complete in spirit, but that I have the amazing opportunity to watch unfold on this physical plane.  The world, and my life, are my playground, and I am born again as a child to myself.

May you stop to hear the God in your heart that is your dreams, and may this tool be a blessing. . .