Monthly Archives: September 2015

Now.

Quiet MindThis morning, as I sat on my porch, coffee in hand, full of body aches and scattered ponderings, I opened one of my go-to books to settle me into meditation, and this poem was what I landed on:

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.

-David Whyte

I looked out at the mountains and ever-changing sky display. I felt the cool, crisp air on my bare arms and noticed goosebumps arising. I listened to the chatter of songbirds and crows, the cars on the road, the plane overhead. I felt the burn of black coffee and the ungluing of my eyes. For a split second, it all came together, my beautiful, messy life. And I felt David Whyte’s poem down to my toes. I awoke. So really, what else is there to say?

Just this: I wish this for you, too. I send this to you now!

Riding the Waves of Flow

PerfectionismThe perfectionist fixes one line of a poem over and over – until no lines are right. The perfectionist redraws the chin line on a portrait until the paper tears. The perfectionist writes so many versions of Scene One that she never gets to the rest of the play. The perfectionist writes, paints, creates with one eye on her audience. Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results. The perfectionist has married the logic side of the brain. The critic reigns supreme in the perfectionist’s creative household.

-Julia Cameron, The Artists Way

Well, hell. That is me. No wonder writing, which I love with all my heart, can feel like such a chore! I’ve killed many a poem this way.

Yes, yes, I have known I am a perfectionist for a long time, and have worked for years to let it go. The fact that I put up a website at all is evidence that I have made some progress on that score! But the practice is ongoing, and something about those lines above cracked the shell a little bit more.

Maybe it’s the times. Maybe it is this constriction we have all been feeling, with pockets of relief that are so counter to the squeeze we feel we could fly. It’s a high/low time, that’s for sure.

For those of us who want to give Light, be Light, we’ve been coming up hard against the rocks in the river. At least that’s what’s happening in my circle. Is it happening to you? Are you feeling slammed in the fast current?

The message I’m getting this morning is to just let it go! Just be! Just write! Just ride! Just live! We can’t direct this thing, as much as our controlling selves want to. We can do our best to stay in the raft. And if we end up in the water, we can crawl back on board. And if we end up with a bump on the head from the tumble, we can let it scramble our brains a little. We need our brains scrambled.

So that’s it. That’s the message for today. Can you feel the shift in my tone? I’m giving it a try. Wide open. You might even find a typo here. Lord, help me.

Urgent? Or Important?

Urgency
“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” – Stephen Pressfield

When I first read that quote I could feel a little bit of stress drain from my shoulder blades. Can you? As the world speeds up, and as our minds and bodies try to keep up, there is a growing urgency in the air, causing all kinds of reactivity in us and around us. Can you feel that, too?

I’ve written about this sensation before, calling it pressure, and it certainly is that. It’s also a free floating anxiety, a non-specific urgency…like the clock is ticking and the time is now. Now! But for what? What is the urgency? What is the pressure? If we don’t know what the urgency is about, how can we distinguish it from what is important?

Obviously on the social, political, economic, and environmental fronts, the clock IS ticking, and the clock feels like a time-bomb. The pulsing question so many of us are feeling, while the Talking Heads continue to rant back and forth is: what can we do? How do we keep our heads up, our hearts open, our optimism in place? What is our personal role in this brink? The energy is so thick lately, it seems hard to even place one foot in front of the other, to accomplish the most mundane things like emptying the dishwasher or getting bills paid on time. Overwhelm is the current lay of the land.

I do know what is important, though. And so do you. I wish there was a new word for it, a word that conveys the vast, penetrative feeling of positive possibility, the ever-fresh, alive, magical solution; a word that isn’t overused and misused so much that it has lost its potency…but the truth is the only word we have to describe the force within us that can drain away our reactivity… our radioactivity, our overwhelm…and diffuse the ticking bomb…is LOVE.

LOVE IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT. We know it. But we are in such a hurry, skittering across the volatile surface of life, that the depth and breadth and richness and calm within the experience of Love is dismissed or pushed aside, because we are in the trance of urgency. And we know that, too.

So let’s just take a minute to breathe, right here, right now. LOVE IS ALL WE NEED. From the surface hypnosis, it sounds like trite, Pollyannish pablum, I know. I’ve felt that feeling many times myself. But when the force of Love comes alive, and we get a glimpse through Love’s eyes, everything is possible. Nothing is impossible. Answers arrive. Magic appears. Energy is released. We just can’t hold it yet, that’s all. We lose our vision over and over again. Maybe that is the urgency we seekers feel. The urgency to stay plugged in.

So this is my prayer for us all today.  May we relax as best we can into the new rhythm of this consciousness evolution. May we trust the unfolding. May we allow ourselves to be rewired in love. May we remember what is important… and do that first.

 

The Open-Heart Payoff

Rain flyingIt is raining in Los Angeles today. It rained a good part of the night. The relief in the air is so palpable that I feel almost light enough to fly. This is the payoff of an open-heart.

We’ve been talking about open-heartedness a lot lately, and how much courage it takes to live that way. How Fierce Love means being willing to have your heart pierced again and again. And that is true.

But the flip-side of that courage and ferocity, is the ability to feel unadulterated, childlike abandon when JOY is the emotion coursing through your veins. And that is what today is like in LA for the open-hearted. It’s like Christmas morning for a three-year old. It’s like pancakes with pure maple syrup. It’s like Mommy and Daddy wrapping you in a warm, snuggly towel on the beach after playing in the ocean. It’s like that first kiss, the one that lights you up from head to toe.

I hope you are feeling all that this morning. And if you aren’t, love yourself right where you are! Feel what YOU feel! That is the gateway! Remember that post that was making its way around Facebook…the one that said truly accepting and forgiving your non-peace would transmute it into peace? Same thing!

Brené Brown talks about the vulnerability (that word again!) of joy, the counter-intuitive truth of how we hold ourselves back from joy because of unconscious guilt, unworthiness, and the knee-jerk fear that something bad will follow if we let ourselves be this wide open. I feel that tug to contain myself even as I write this! (Here is the link to a Brené Brown conversation with Oprah on that very thing, if you haven’t seen it or want a refresher).

But this morning my heart isDiamond Heart pulsing like a beacon…and I am sending you what I’m feeling. I know it is contagious, so let it pass through you (you might find yourself giggling!) and then let it flow on to your friends and loved ones. There is more than enough to go around. As a matter of fact, the more you send, the more you get. Today, right this minute, we can participate in a MASS healing!

Blessings, blessings, blessings, my friends!

 

Pressure!

The word “pressure” has been bubbling around in my thoughts for the last few weeks. Have you ever had that happen? A concept will invade your psyche and then show up everywhere, light bulbs popping right and left?

It feels to me as if pressure is the descriptor for the times, as if the world is ramping up exponentially, and we’re all feeling it in our bodies and psyches. Not all pressure is a bad thing, of course. It takes a certain amount of force to propel us through our resistance, and that is exactly what so many of us are doing…forging ahead through layers and layers of emotional muck we didn’t even know we had. Great things, magical things, are happening as a result, too.

But unexamined pressure creates anger, and this is what I want to talk about. I suppose this isn’t really new news, although something about that combination of words – pressure creates anger – literally leapt off the page at me when I recently read The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. John Sarno’s bestseller from many years ago. Anger is an emotion I, like many, struggle to consciously experience, because I’m so afraid of it. I don’t want to experience it, so I push it away. According to Sarno, anger that’s pushed away builds to become suppressed rage. And suppressed rage becomes physical illness…from back, neck and shoulder pain, to inflammation of all kinds, as well as digestive disorders, anxiety and depression. Pretty much any illness can be traced back, from Sarno’s perspective, to the unacknowledged pressure of being human…pressure placed upon us from without and from within.

Pressures from without seem more enormous than ever before. Worldwide economic, ecological, societal and political pressures are being pounded into our consciousness on a 24-hour news cycle, not to mention our own overwhelming personal challenges. How do we possibly examine all that? And then, of course, there are the subconscious, anger-inducing pressures from within: worry, self-criticism, guilt, fear, perfectionism, blame, and all kinds of stressful, negative thinking.

Early Sunday morning I got up and drove to the beach, with an aching back, a sore jaw from clenching my teeth during my sleep, and a mind overrun with thoughts, but determined to do something good for myself. As I made my way through the breathtaking, dawn-lit vistas of Malibu Canyon, the now iconic image of that little Syrian boy lying face down dead on another beach on the other side of the world flooded my psyche… and broke me in two. The juxtaposition of the agony and the ecstasy of this world, and the huge question of my responsibility to it, became so overwhelming in my heart that I just cried my eyes out all the way to the ocean. I can still feel it as I write this…the emotional surge that rises up in my throat, and the knee-jerk, intellectual tamping down of that feeling with all kinds of thinking instead – political thinking, blaming thinking, numbing thinking, even big-picture-wisdom thinking. That day, though, thinking of every stripe was washed out by the tidal wave of feeling that needed to happen.

I wonder if that is what we all need right now? Maybe what is trying to happen, what the pressure is all about is that our hearts are under pressure to break wide open, and we are scared to death to let them.

The Big SqueezeOne of my favorite Pema Chodron teachings is called The Big Squeeze: that realization on the spiritual path of the large gap between our spiritual ideals and the far less than ideal reality of our daily lives. It’s breakdown time, examination time, transmutation time. We look at ourselves, not with finger-pointing or throwing in the towel, but with great curiosity and compassion. We feel ourselves, including all the previously hidden parts, both ugly and beautiful. Who am I really? Not who I project myself to be, nor who I am striving to be, but who am I, right this minute? Am I worthy, just as I am? Can I stand in this squeeze, fall down and get up again, each time a little more fully awake and in love with this rich and raw human experience? Can I give over to the forging?

“It’s the rub between those two things – the squeeze between reality and vision – that causes us to grow up, to wake up to be 100 percent decent, alive, and compassionate. The big squeeze is one of the most productive places on the spiritual path and in particular on this journey of awakening the heart.” Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty.

Blessings, my friends. We are in this together. Let us hold each other tight.

 

 

Fierce Love

Fierce LoveLast week, at a meditation led by my friend and spiritual mentor Diana Lang, she talked with those of us gathered at her home about her favorite subject and ours – Love. Diana is an Energy-Sensitive, among her many gifts, and she could feel the shielding most of us had up that evening…subtle self-consciousness and/or judgments in one form or another. When we’re in a state of judgment (whether it is toward others or toward ourselves) we’re not aligned with Love; but as communal human beings we’re habituated to unconsciously evaluate ourselves along a comparative continuum (better than/less than those around us). Those judgments block the heart, and thus, the flow of Love.

So Diana talked to us about Love, fierce Love, which I would like to talk about, too. Fierce Love is the force that lights the universe, that keeps this world on axis, that can move mountains, that can move us! And God knows, we need that force now more than ever. But Fierce Love operates through an open heart, which means a vulnerable one, one that can get hurt again and again. Fierce Love is fired through the heart that is willing to stand exposed in the face of all that can come at it, all that will come at it. This was the heart of Jesus, and the heart he instructed us to have. It was also the heart of the Buddha, of Gandhi, of Martin Luther King. It is the heart of the Mother.

There’s an old country song entitled Love or Something Like It. We live a whole lot of our lives in the Something Like It category, because we love, but we cling to our judgments, and we protect our hearts. This is human nature. But our human evolution is now a spiritual one, an evolution of consciousness, and the force, the pulse of Love is calling us to become more courageously vulnerable, to be fierce in our commitment to first and foremost know that kind of Love, to receive that kind of Love.

Another wonderful song from a few decades ago is I Wanna Know What Love Is, sung with great passion by Lou Gramm and the band Foreigner. We’ve heard it a million times, maybe to the point that it feels corny, but I have it on my music playlist, and I listen to it as a prayer:

I wanna know what Love is!
I want you to show me!
I wanna feel what Love is!
I know you can show me!

Our egos are so clever in their defensive trickery. But we’re learning more and more to feel our way past the ego. When I start feeling a dryness in my heart, and I doubt my capacity to move even a molehill, much less a mountain, then I know I’m not in Love, not all the way in. There is more. There is always more to surrender.

So this is my prayer for myself and for you, too.  May we know what Love is!  May we open to its fierce flow so that we lead our lives chest out, wide open, expecting, witnessing, and wielding miracles! May we recognize and reject all the self-abusive, non-Love whispers of too old, too young, too tired, too unqualified, too cool, too whatever that block the channel. May the strength and the humility of Love comingle to deepen and enrich our understanding and expression. May we take in stride the pain of an open heart and grow in courage to keep it open anyway.  May we forgive everyone for everything, most especially ourselves.

Blessings, my friends.