Monthly Archives: November 2015

A New Shade of Holiday Blue

Holiday Blue

Can you feel it? This new shade of blue creeping in?

Holiday Blues are nothing new to many of us…those who have lost a significant other, those who are far from home, or those who just get caught in the web of commercial promise and are robbed of the joy by perfectionistic stress.

But there’s a new blue in town – the blue of precariousness, of global brink too huge to handle -shoved down in our psyche, because hey, what can we do? But shove as we may, the holidays ask something else of us – comfort and joy. And that leap might be…um…well… challenging. Sorrow over the mess of this world, frustration about our seeming helplessness, anxiety about where and when the next shoe will drop, are enormous seas of emotion floating under the surface of our political rage, which spews and crusts like lava on top.

And none of this might be conscious, as we sit at the table, fiddling with our forks. We might just know we feel bad, and then feel bad for feeling bad.

I wrote a poem recently called In the Twilight of An Epoch, and it is that blue, that twilight blue, that I’m trying to get at, here. Whether you think we are in the “end of days” or just at the end of an era, there is a collective grief we are wrestling with.

But it helps to name the blue, to look it straight in the eye. And honestly, we could use this “brinkness” to bring us more into the now, more deeply into this precious moment. We could go below our anger, down into the fear and sorrow and guilt (yes, we can feel guilt about our comparative abundance).

By letting ourselves actually touch that sea of pain, instead of using all our energy to hold it back, we might find a new surge of vitality to participate in hope – to feed a needy family, to volunteer in a soup kitchen, to give to charity, donate blood, write a letter to a soldier…a survivor…a congressman.

We are all in this together. That is becoming a stronger message than ever before, and it is the hidden beauty of the brink. This twilight blue can wake us up to the rich spectrum of love that is right here in front of us. In the end, nothing else really matters.

Blessings, everyone.

Hate is a Two-Way Poison

Oh, my, there is so much hate in our world! It is top of mind, of course, because of the shock of last week’s Paris terrorist attacks. But hate is boiling in so many people these days, on so many fronts, that we almost take it for granted…as if hate is normal…as if hate is just fine.

Those of us who are devoted to love as the only force of true change are often accused of being foolish, trite, lofty, or childish. We are considered Pollyannas spouting from ivory towers.

Many years ago, I had a profound dream, one in which an angel came to me and took me on an agonizing but illuminating  field trip.  He carried me to the scene of a violent rape in progress.  I heard, saw, and even smelled the graphic horror playing out in front of me, and I began to feel hate swell up in my chest. I wanted to kill the attacker!  I wanted to tear him limb from limb! But I couldn’t move. I could only witness. I  asked the angel, furiously, “Why did you bring me here?”

The angel waved his hand in the air in front of me, and suddenly I could see a new dimension – a thick, brown, vibrational ooze coming off the attacker and slithering across the ground toward me. It was as if I were a magnet drawing the rapist’s degenerate energy my way.

The angel spoke:  “This is what is meant by deliver us from evil,” he said. “Hate is a virulent infection. Love is both the inoculation and the antidote. Do what must be done to stop evil, to bring justice, to protect the innocent, but do so with love, else you, yourself, will become contaminated.”

I have never forgotten the message of this dream. It is far from Pollyannish to hold on to a sense of love in the face of hate’s potent pull, to allow anger its natural place, without hatred. There is nothing simplistic, trite or childish about it. As a matter of fact, it might just be THE HARDEST THING on the planet to do, requiring warrior-like resolve and a refinement of consciousness that can only be accomplished through a lifetime of prayer, meditation, and forgiveness.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Do good to those that persecute you.” It was a shocking idea then, and it still is today… and so seemingly impossible that few of us even try.

I am a long way from victorious on this subject, and I may never be. But I believe, with all my heart, that this is the mandate required to save the world, nevertheless; that the “loftiness” of love must be brought down to earth…in our hearts, in our minds, in our words, in our actions…both proactively, and responsively, in times like these.

 

To Get Where You Want to Go, You Must First Know Where You Are

Triangle of Awareness

What am I thinking? What emotions are present? What’s going on in my body? These are our most fundamental questions, and yet, how often do we actually stop and consider them?

In Mindfulness Practice this is called The Triangle of Awareness, and its simplicity belies its potency. Most of us recognize in theory the differences between a physical sensation in the body, a thought, and an emotion...

I have a headache…I’m thinking about my job review…I’m worried.

But in actuality it can be quite challenging to separate thoughts, emotions, and sensations, because they interweave and feed upon each other.  Which came first, the headache, the anxiety, or the thoughts about that upcoming review? And what about the compounding thoughts, the compounding emotions?

I’m embarrassed that I’m anxious; I’m too experienced to still feel this childish fear; I really don’t like my boss; I feel guilty that I don’t like him; but he doesn’t care about me; he’s not going to give me a raise; maybe I should quit; my neck hurts now, too; my whole body is a knot.

Plus, the sad truth is that we have been socially conditioned to override our self-looking, our self-knowing, as if we are being narcissistic in doing so.

I don’t have time for this! The review is in two hours, I’ve got to get my bullet points together! 

Yet how we are, physically, emotionally, and mentally will radically inform our actions in that job review and every other aspect of our lives. Doesn’t it make sense to start each day by taking the time  to look?

In Triangle of Awareness Practice, the goal is not only seeing, but sending kindness into our beleaguered minds and bodies, right where we are.

I’m angry and scared! My head is killing me, and I’m worried to death! There it is. That is the truth. I won’t pretend it isn’t true, and I won’t berate myself, tell myself to buck up. I will instead be gentle, be tender, be soothing. I will breathe and invite my body to let go as much as it can, forgive it for what tension it cannot yet release. I will embrace my messy humanity. I will remind myself that thoughts are fleeting, that I, the witness of my perceptions, have the power to choose different ones, that I’m learning how to do this, that I’m becoming more awake, more powerful, more likely to become my highest self, with every  practice session. And I will invite another emotion, the greatest emotion, LOVE, to be present in the midst of all these unpleasant feelings, like a giant lamp lighting up a dark room. 

This is a practice, not a pill. It won’t necessarily flow freely at first. It may be hard to even recognize what we’re feeling, thinking, or sensing, and when we do, it may feel as though the information brought to consciousness makes things worse, initially. We are all well-versed in the temporary benefits of denial and distraction, so the POWER OF NOW can also feel a little like the PAIN OF NOW. But I promise you, there is VALUE here. There is movement, fluidity, the pathway to where you want to go.

Blessings, dear friends.

 

 

Listen

Listen 2Remember the movie Contact, in which Jodi Foster’s character, Dr. Ellie Arroway, through fierce faith and will, makes contact with an alien species…and in the end, must simply bow to the mystery of it all? That film is chock full of spiritual metaphors, but the one that keeps reoccurring to me is the giant desert satellite array where she spends literally years simply listening… waiting

I recently watched an Oprah interview with Sufi mystic Llewellen Vaughan-Lee, in which he said something I found profound…

“The masculine side of love is, ‘I love you.’
The feminine side of love is, ‘I’m waiting for you. I’m longing for you.”

This is an aspect of the Divine Feminine I had not fully understood or appreciated until I heard Vaughan-Lee’s remark. In our patriarchal paradigm of value, based upon action-taking and busy-ness (business), is it any wonder we are so challenged in even recognizing, much less devoting serious energy and time to deep listening? To waiting?  To the tedious process of fine-tuning through all the chatter and static?

Far from a passive experience, there is great EFFORT involved in turning one’s full array of focus toward the sacred ethers of inner space and then staying there. There is a WILL to the process of surrender, a courage, a vulnerability that is so very hard to embrace or even describe, and yet …therein, as they say, lies the Mystery. Contact.

Blessings, all!