Dear little being so precious and tiny.
You are the second life I have carried and have surrendered my body to as a home.
I am, in my heart honored, but there has come some struggle with this journey.
You have made me so tired, yet so sleepless.
For months, I have felt as though I am wandering through the woods,
uncertain of where I am,
yet trusting the path will become clearer,
that it will come to an end.
And there, it will all make perfect sense and it will all have been so absolutely worthwhile.
You are mysterious yet so distinct.
There have been times when I have felt so alone in this, and you let me know you are there,
that we are in this together. That despite my, at times, seeming wavering disconnection
from myself, that I am your mother, that you need me and
as I have many times before, will find myself again.
The ability you have to teach me, unfolds and reveals itself daily.
I become more open to your lessons, more grateful for your power. You have reminded me of the value of patience and the potency of love. To soften to time, to loosen the grasp, to let go.
To be present, the best I can. No matter what.
To cherish life, to embrace challenge, to nurture vulnerability.
To love. No matter what.
It is said that our truth is revealed by touching the core of our heart,
and the vibration is felt and shared collectively in it’s recognition. I find it beautiful that you have been there with me during this time of going deep into this place of center,
that you have taken me there and shown me the way, that eternally,
this current of truth is ours to share.
Your sister is a bright and vivacious being.
She has awakened and enriched this process of walking with you by her interest in the ever growing expansion of my belly and your eventual arrival. I am giddy to think how it will be, when you two meet and I will have the privilege as a witness to the exchange of two super novas, shining so brightly upon one another.
How amazing, that in a few months, space will be occupied by your fierce yet gentle presence,
in this home that awaits you, no longer inside of my own skin. All the lessons you will teach us, all the moments you will make more sweet, all the laughter you will bring as you continue to live as my daughter, my darling teacher, my precious truth.
Standing in Love
(Originally written 2014)
A few weeks ago I was feeling especially self consumed. What often results when I get this way is a narrowing in perception and a palpable feeling of " I am alone-ness", all of which are not tolerable to me for any great length of time and fortunately I usually know what to do about it. But my old tricks; prayer, meditation, yoga, time with my family, reading etc. weren't getting me out of my own head and I had the idea that I just needed to pay some more attention to the outside world to put things in perspective. I distinctly remember thinking, "I haven't been listening to NPR, or watching the news", "that may be good for me". Going through fluctuating phases of "being in the loop" and some activism in the past, I have a good idea of what a lack of balance in personal and worldly involvement can mean to my sanity. So I can, with some guilt, say I had decidedly not watched or read much news for some time, primarily because it made me feel so helpless and outraged when I did. Sure, it's a good way to forget about your own problems, but how productive is it worrying about problems that are mostly beyond your control. Of course there is a lot of importance in being informed, but becoming consumed is a different matter. At least if you worry about your own problems, there can be some action towards resolving it. Anyhow, it's been a few weeks since then, since I "tuned back in", and I certainly can't say "glad I did".
I know there is a meaning to this life. For sometime, I questioned it, whether there was or not. I sought refugee in what I could and carried around a lot of pain from the unknowing and the relentless searching for the way out of caring whether there was or wasn't. I know that there is a lot of suffering, felt by millions of people on the search or the unknowing. And the search, and the unknowing can lead them to do terrible things in attempts to cling to some sense of purpose. Maybe they drink, like I did. Maybe it is to join an extremist organization. Maybe it is to just say "Hell with it all! What's next?" And conversely, maybe the search for meaning is a movement in which positive changes occur, perhaps tiny ripples, but nonetheless beneficial for the whole world in some way or another.
When I got sober my eyes opened in a way and in a direction towards love. As corny and cliche as it is, I knew that love was the only way out of the darkness. In my experience of becoming “lighter” which has included and still include practices in meditation and yoga, it was ultimately the cultivating of and the tapping into love was what saved me when it all seemed too dark, inside and out. Such practices, though some may think, are not self centered. It is, similarly to the many quests of countless others, a way out of self and the all overwhelming times we live and a way into the sometimes subtle, yet powerful undercurrent of all things. Sitting around, worrying about what others think about you, what you'd rather be doing, constantly checking Facebook for a hook. This is what I consider self centered. I use these examples because they are my own. I am no diamond in the coal mine that is for sure. I have learned however, that while there may be escape in these acts, there is no greater good being accomplished. I am on a self guided quest of "meaning", or of escape. And while it may work temporarily, I don't get better this way. I just don't. Generally speaking I get worse.
Among attending meetings, my Husband and I, years ago held a mediation meeting at our home. One of the practices our Sanga (spiritual community) would do from time to time was Tonglen. In Tonglen practice there is an intention to connect with the love and compassion within, however buried it may be, towards suffering. Be it an individuals or the collective worlds. The sitting with and breathing in the pain can be intense, but with it can come an understanding that in order to ease the pain, you must love. It is common that when we sit down to mediate, because we are human and have been blessed (and cursed) with minds that don't stop thinking, that we don't even know what the pain that we feel, really feels like until we sit with it. And tapping into that raw un-manipulated pain can be pretty darn scary, let alone tapping into the pain of others. But what resulted in such a practice, is the understanding that while the "feeling" of pain is so often shared, the "being with the feeling of pain" and possible and available subsequent surrender to "the being of love" is not.
When we are present in our own and others pain, we can give into and return to the love that can ease our shared suffering.
It dawned on me today that if there is any balance for me, this is it. This is where I can feel effective. This is how I can be sane. I share the suffering of the world, but I choose to breathe love on it. I choose to get out of myself but to get into love instead. It is not always the most convenient, or even a comfortable place to go. It can be hard work. It is easier to wrap myself up into my own personal suffering and search for a way out when it gets too thick; to watch the news and develop opinions between right and wrong, scour Facebook for others posts to condemn or rally behind, and consume myself with anger and hatred towards the way things are, than to just be with the pain until love catches me. The way many things are in the world, are a damn shame. No doubt. But could they be different? My hope in this life is that a radical shift towards love worldwide occurs, but I'm not losing sleep over hoping. Instead, I am going to do my best to center myself around falling into and living in the source of love, no matter how great the pain, my own and the worlds. That is how I must take a stand, if I am to take one. While the darkness I see, know and feel are real, what makes it too heavy to bare is the viscous, ignorant and reactive commentary that feeds from it’s vile hands, which only causes greater suffering and estrangement from love that is possible for all. And this, I choose to not fall prey to. For my love, is too great a thing to lose and too precious not to share.
It takes time to meditate. First off, you need the time leading up to the day when you realize or are told by someone, that you “need” to or “should” meditate, as most don't just wake one day and decide to begin a practice. Once the consideration has been made, there is more time involved in conceiving it as a possibility and furthermore, the time you will actually need to do it.
You, like me, will probably rationalize why you don’t need to. Or why, you can just do it every once in awhile, when it is convenient. Maybe, like me, it seems like a worthwhile (and inexpensive) resort to working out stress, anxiety, apathy, or the simple and ultimate realization that being a human is hard work, and that you simply just need a break. Or maybe it is (or will be) a natural evolution of your existing or recently emerging spiritual/wellness practice. Regardless of what brings you to the awareness that you should make it a habit however, doesn't mean that you will. Which is when and how the many obstacles seem to arise between you and taking a seat, daily.
For me to really get committed, I had to ask myself some really serious questions when encountered with the many obstacles I faced in choosing (to at least try) to make meditation part of my daily life. Such as; Do I desire the ability to be more present in my life? Do I crave focus, creativity, balance, peace? Do I want to feel less hurried, stressed and overwhelmed? Do I want to better know my mind, my body, my heart, my soul? The answer to all of these questions was an emphatic, bold, undeniable YES! And so, I looked at the #1 obstacle and took it by the horns, once and for all.
Time and how I don’t have enough of it.
From the minute I would wake up I would often feel like I was starting my race for the day. How many things could I get done to feel accomplished and be responsible? How was meditating for twenty minutes going to contribute to this? I may need those twenty minutes to spend more time with my daughter because I want to be a good mother, or prepare for my class because I want to be a good teacher, or clean the house because I want to be a good wife and on and on and on.
And then I started to see the flaw in this kind of thinking? All of these needs were defined by roles I carry (and don’t get me wrong, with great pride and honor) that bring a an undoubted sense of pressure to my life. Not because the roles are there necessarily but because of the way I view myself fulfilling (or not fulfilling) them. Which is all based on measuring myself to a certain standard (many of which are not even authentically my own. Not that it is not very important to me that I am a “good” mother, wife, teacher etc, but being that the focus of fulfilling an expectation leads me to feel stressed and at times resentful of said roles, which in turn affect my ability to truly be a “good” (insert “present”, which is the “better” word for “good” in this context) at these things.
So with all these realizations out of the way, enter June of this year (2015)....... There I was rather lazily committed to my meditation practice. I knew I need to step it up, so I enlist the support of whoever wants to go along for the journey with me of trying to enthusiastically (or at least willingly) work on developing a daily, regular and consistent meditation practice. And so far, so good!
So for those who wonder, what's so important about a regular practice, here are my observations.
When I commit to waking up at least a half hour early and begin my day with twenty minutes of meditation;
I am more productive, which results in feeling “accomplished”
I am more present, which results in feeling like a “good” Mother, Wife, Teacher, etc.
I am more able to manage time, which makes me feel less stressed
I am more alert and calm, which helps me to feel more peace, joy and ease
Though it took me awhile to really see this, I now am positively sure that if waking up 30 minutes early to meditate is what I need to do in order to meditate - it is totally worth it. All the years when I said to myself “I would like to do it more, but....... I can’t (ie, don’t want /am not disciplined enough to) get up early enough, and otherwise there is no guarantee that I will actually do it” now seem like such a waste. But alas, it got me here. Committed and loving it.
I am now at the point that the idea of not meditating is a little scary to me. Being able to more clearly see what arises from a lack of practice (being stressed, bitchy, scattered) is good motivation to stick with it. Of course it’s not a guarantee that I will be present, serene, joyful and focused all day - every day, though it certainly increases my chances.
Rock on with your meditation. I will be with you in spirit :)
Hands, Hearts and souls
My hands, resting in front of my heart
gently pressing into themselves
and then, there is a swelling,
a sense of pushing through
and of caving in and of
the space we are in.
The moment is suspended
and I am completely caught
in it’s boundless space;
where a pressure emerges
forming watery eyes
arising out of deep gratitude
for the collective
presence of souls
My hands, still close to my heart,
I am reminded of the preciousness of time
and how sacred a journey it is
that we are on.
And I recall hearing that
we are all made of stars,
like the fusion of molecules
coming to make a mark
on this galaxy.
That in all the worlds separation
and struggle and heart ache
that we are together,
and we are here
Recently having turned one year older (yes, made it to 34!) I have been reflecting on.....you guessed it, growing up and some of the the important things I've learned along the way.
Here are my reflections;
When I say “f*** you” to fear, the universe says “thank you”.
I spent a good portion of my life cloaked in fear and let it guide me. I was full of fantasy, but there was a lack of confidence and faith that kept me from being able to trust enough so I could take this living thing boldly.
This past year, has offered me great opportunities that came in part , if not entirely, as a result of just being fed up with the power fear had over me and not giving in to it when it called my name. Instead, I returned to a practice of positive intention setting and have been provided comfort, encouragement and re-assurance from the universe that it is more productive to operate on faith than on fear any day.
Parenthood. It’s like whoa, but is actually simpler than I thought (kind of).
I have one child. And she is one amazing child who has taught me endless lessons that I am a better person for knowing. But I wasn’t quite sure about being a parent. Whether I’d cut it. But, you know what, with all it’s difficulties and challenges, it comes more naturally than I thought it would. Granted I cry, and have given myself headaches worrying about this and that and not doing it right - but I am learning, that if at the end of the day, I acted and parented with love, then I have done well. Of course I love her. That part is super simple. But how do I show her that love, consistently?
Well, I must take care of myself. Which at times gets more complicated and less convenient. But time has told, when I am not taking care of myself (even in the smallest of ways), I am more prone to being resentful, cranky and not the loving, patient, present parent she needs and so very much deserves.
I am coming closer to understanding my purpose.
Because of this, I have found a greater sense of ease and joy that comes in the living of my life. I still find myself confused, but the feeling of being lost in the woods looking for a wormhole has faded.
I realize I have something inside of me that wants me to realize it, more and more, and I am provided signs to guide me. I need not look outside of myself. The more I look with in, the more I see my purpose being revealed in the work I do, the relationships I have and the decisions I make.
Marriage is seasonal, and that’s okay.
I have a friend who once, after sharing with her that my relationship with my husband had hit a low point, explained relationships being like the seasons. I thought this was a good analogy and it gave me some hope that things would and could change.
Like the winter, we all can get stuck in darker seasons and feel like it will never end. But as the cold, quiet time of winter serves as a gateway to spring, I have come to see my marriage as a process that sometimes needs to be “weathered”, with the knowledge that in time we will be falling in love all over again only with stronger roots to keep us growing and more beautiful blooms to enjoy.
My body wants me to be healthy. I play a (huge) part in it’s ability to heal.
For many years (fortunately nothing serious recently), I suffered with bouts from an illness that left me debilitated, which in turn caused periods of extreme hopelessness making me doubt my body and it’s desire to be healthy. At some point though, I knew that in order to get better, it would require me to have some hope, even if I wasn’t getting it from how I felt physically, let alone from medical professionals.
As much of a hard road it was, I educated myself, found the right Doctors and healers to guide me and fought the “your sick”, “give up” voice inside of me as much as I could. While I eventually received a diagnosis, the knowledge and strength I acquired in the hope and search to get better, is I believe what ultimately facilitated my healing as I began to befriend my body and let it guide me.
Through the journey of a deepened relationship with my body (and my instincts) I know it wants to be healthy, that it was not meant to be sick. It is my job to tend to the relationship so I know what it needs to thrive and work to support it’s desire for wellness, and acknowledge that it is greatly impacted on how much or how little I listen.
I really “am” a teacher. And a lot "more" than I thought I was.
It took me months of teaching yoga before I really felt like I “was” a teacher. Instead, I felt like a fraud. Like there was a mix up. That, even though I made it through teacher training, deeply wanted to be a teacher, and for the most part, knew “enough” to teach, I was not a teacher. Fortunately, the feelings were not enough to stop me.
I can thank a number of practices that got me out of the habit of believing my thoughts as fact, that helped me distinguish the false voice from the true voice. I am so grateful to have come to terms with simply being what I am, and not getting carried away with what my mind tells me I’m not.
Once I just let myself be me, teaching became a lot easier, more of a joy and helped me realize that I was one, all along. And this is true for many things I find myself doing that i previously would have said never too. The process of simply, yet fully being myself, and dropping all of the bullshit of who I think I am not, has helped me uncover more potential, possibilities and experiences that I would have otherwise been denying myself from enjoying.
I accept myself, faults and all, and appreciate my gifts more.
This has taken so long, but some real progress has been made this last year. For me, this is something that I never believed would be possible. I thought that I needed to critique myself in order to get better, that I always could be better. This trap got me thinking of someone else, and my vision of them being how I “should” be. This came to mothering, productivity, career, you name it. Whatever I was doing and how I was doing it, I thought I could and should be doing it better, or differently.
I have a better habit now at pointing out my gifts, especially if I am going to get all critical on my ass, and have come to accept that which I find less desirable about myself and work for progress but not perfection. If I honor my gifts, rather than focusing on my flaws, I operate form a place of positivity. This in turn allows for more motivation to make changes where changes need be made.
Guilt wants to keep me from my calling, and I say f*** you to that too.
Feeling guilty about pursuing my passion, (because it would mean affecting others and financial stability), had me planning to work a steady job, even if it meant I would be left unfulfilled.
I had some real deep moments with myself, deciding if I’d rather feel guilty or unfulfilled. And I didn’t want to feel either dammit. But feeling guilty, seemed more like a choice - to feel or not to feel. Where as being fulfilled, while a feeling, is more a quality of being. So, in my conversations with myself, I just started to make gentle assertions to the guilt committee “to leave me alone”.
Working on fulfillment, genuine soul affirming fulfillment is not something I, or anyone needs to feel guilty about. Not only does guilt simply serve to hold us back from growing, it makes me resentful that I am not fulfilled, and that affects those around me. Once I truly came to terms with the fact that to be happy and not resentful, I understood that I need not let guilt gnaw at me - that if there was anything to feel guilty about it would be to subject others to the results me not following my heart.
There is no better gift than service. It’s not just about me.
Another dear friend of mine and I were talking recently about happiness and how strongly it relates to service. If in each day, I can be of service in some way, and have touched some small thing with care, I am making an impact.
While acting out of self-centeredness may feel momentarily rewarding, it leaves us cut off and disconnected from the collective energy that wants and needs our care and participation. When I am able to remember the role to serve, whether it is through my work, my interactions or the choices I make, the world is less scary, I am less alone and I am able to experience the gifts of being involved with something larger than myself.
Activism does not need to mean being mad at the world. My light offers more.
I spent enough time feeling very mad at the world and spent my share submerging myself in the sources (ie. atrocities, politics, war, global warming, poverty, injustice) of anger. I still can get pretty riled up, simply by turning on the news, reading the paper or listening to the radio. But, I have learned that I cannot take on the hurt and wrongs of the world in the form of anger.
Change happens when we are willing to shine more light where there is dark, and I know that when my energy was spent on being mad at "the way things are", my light was dimmed. I have accepted that the ideal world that I would like my daughter (and everyone else) to live in is only that much more possible if I choose to tend to my light - to not let the darkness over shadow me and instead carry love, hope and inspiration to support the powerful (yet scarcely reported) collective global movement towards positive change.
These lessons have been discovered over time, and continue to unfold with the help of many luminous guides along the way. I am forever a student.
The day I stop seeking, is the day I stop learning. Thankfully I never thought I knew it all, though I have definitely experienced periods of stubbornness and narrow-mindedness that in turn affected my ability to take on others experiences and wisdom to become part of my own. In this respect, I would love to hear a lesson of yours, whether recent, ancient or acquired somewhere along your journey so we may share the jewels that can help us all grow brighter and wiser together.