Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Insights into Suffering

I didn't know what suffering was until the day I lost my baby.

Many of you didn't even know I was pregnant, and if this is the first time you're hearing about it, I'm sorry. It was a roller coaster. We found out on Halloween night, and before I could even make an announcement the doctor said the words "things don't look good for this pregnancy" at our very first appointment. The weeks that followed are a haze. I remember feeling embarrassed because I had to "untell" people I'd already told. The look of pity in their eyes made me sick. I didn't want their pity. I just wanted a baby. Then, I had to wait for the actual "passing of the tissue" which could happen at any moment. I kept thinking, what if I'm at work? I was more worried about saving face and keeping things private than the pain and emotional anguish that was inevitable. I was so naive.

At around 4:00 am one Saturday morning in December (the weekend before Christmas) I woke up to severe abdominal cramping. I was curled up on the floor near the bathroom when I brother came out to see what was going on. He rubbed my back and soothed me. I went back to bed to be close to my husband, Erich. I curled up in the fetal position for a while and cried quietly. The first few hours were defined by overwhelmingly painful contractions, much like labor pains I read later. Erich woke up with me and by around 7:00 am I began to hemorrhage. We both stayed home from work. He did his best to console me, but once I saw the blood I felt like I was losing my mind. I cried for my baby. I felt betrayed by my body. I felt helpless. I felt angry. I felt despair. I was in danger of being consumed by my own suffering.

Finally, Erich's loving presence and support helped guide me out of hysteria, but once I calmed down it was my job to bring peace to my body. The first thing I did was lie down in child's pose. When I found out I was pregnant I began to practice yoga almost daily (a goal I've had for over a year now). I also began eating better and loving my body more. As soon as I relaxed into the pose and began breathing I felt a wave of relief. It hit me like a ton of bricks, "I don't have to despair." Yes, my baby was leaving my body, and yes, it was painful and emotionally stressful, but those were things I could not control. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. This was something I could control. Of all our autonomic functions, our breathing alone is under our conscious control. The more I sunk into my breathing the more relaxed I felt. The despair and fear melted away.

Erich and I began discussing the loss in terms of acceptance. We shared that we both felt that the baby had decided it wasn't time. That little soul seemed to know that I needed something big in order to treat myself better. I stopped smoking, drinking and eating poorly. I spent time loving myself. I did these things for the baby, but when the baby was gone I kept doing it out of habit, and simply because it felt right. I wouldn't dare claim to know why the baby didn't develop properly, that is in God's hands. What I do know is that the experience had meaning for me and that I don't feel bitter or angry about it. I feel blessed. I learned what it means to suffer, but  I also learned what it means to grow and accept the unacceptable.

Thank you, little one for what you taught me. I hope to meet you someday in the future!

Here is an interesting article I received today (my inspiration for finally writing this long overdue post). I hope it moves you: Suffering is Optional

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insights into Going Bananas

Yes, that's right, this madwoman has gone b-a-n-a-n-a-s...for bananas! I've always enjoyed eating a nice ripe banana, even when others would turn their nose up at some dark mushy brown spots. Now that I know more about the healthful benefits of eating these awesome little fruits I've gone totally off the deep end. I'm excited to start eating a banana or two per day. Here are some of the reasons I'm so berserk for bananers:

1. A banana a day can keep the doctor away. (That's right, fuck you, apples!)

Bananas are packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and other important nutrients that support the immune system. Some research even indicates they have the ability to help prevent cancer!
Buy them when they are a 5 and you'll have perfect bananas in a day!

2. Bananas have a calming effect

Bananas can reduce stress. The mineral potassium is a nutrient that can help balance the heartbeat. The better your heartbeats the more oxygen is sent to your brain which is quite helpful in alleveiating stress. A few long, deep breaths and a bite of ripe banana may be all you need to avoid panic attacks and other uncomfortable stress related discomforts. Stress raises the metabolic rate in our bodies, potassium can reverse those effects. No chemicals needed.

So Zen.

3. Bananas are better than energy drinks

One study found that the energy provided in a ripe banana can provide you with enough energy to exercise for an hour and half. It is also a better choice than caffeine in the morning because it gives you a longer lasting energy boost, without the crash later on. A study from ScienceDaily showed there were many benefits to eating a banana over consuming a carbohydrate sports drink. For example, they have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks. Bananas also have antioxidants not found in sports drinks, and let's face it: they're cheaper!

4. Eating a banana in front of men makes me feel powerful

There's nothing better than watching a man squirm when you stare him in the eyes and peel a banana. Then, instead of biting into the phallic fruit you tear off a piece with your fingers and pop it into your mouth. On a subconscious level they will be thinking of their junk and you will come off as powerful and in charge. Ha.

Eat your hearts out, boys!

5. Lots more reasons...

This article sealed the deal. I'm totally eating more bananas. I hope some of you go bananas too!

Ripe Banana Facts

How can you be cranky when you are eating a banana? Try it, I dare you!
Peace, love and bananas.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Further Insights into Death

In my first post I wrote about the death of my beloved grandmother. It struck me as a very important event in my life, so I began writing this blog. This afternoon another insight came to me after watching the movie 50/50 and then reading one of James Redfield's Celestine Prophecy books. I feel as if I am starting to understand for myself how death is an important part of life and how God's love can be seen and felt even in our saddest moments.

My mother often talks about a special connection she and I have. We will often just know when the other needs us. A song will come on that makes me think of her and seconds later I will get a text. That kind of shit happens all the time. It apparently also happened between my Mother and my Grandmother, and to some extent Grandma and I. When she died both my Mom and I were going through (are still going through perhaps...) times of great change. When a big change occurs it can sometimes feel like a death. The old way of life goes out the window and it's time to rebuild a new, hopefully better version of reality. The birth of a new life means dealing with the death of the old one. I think I've begun to recognize, for myself, what death in my life really means, thanks only to the passing on of my Grandmother. I hope that my Mom has experienced some of the same positive insights.

When I heard about her death I was just about to move home to Illinois, an action that a few months ago sounded absurd, and yet it suddenly became the "only thing to do." I felt a certainty in the decision, but also a deep rooted fear. What would I do there? How can I make my dreams a reality? These kinds of questions were/have been swirling in my head with increasing intensity. When she died that changed. I was suddenly caught off guard, the winds of my mind allowing my focus to stop blowing in the breeze like fall leaves and settle to the ground. I wasn't prepared for this. I had been so busy thinking about my own thoughts that I wasn't paying attention to the things actually existing around me. Her death, in its own bittersweet way, saved me from my fear. I worry just a little bit less than I used to, but when I do get stressed thoughts of her cross my mind. If there are such things as guardian angels I believe they work in a similar way. The old saying "God works in mysterious ways" keeps crossing my mind. Death can be a beautiful thing if we use it to remind us of the things that truly matter. I almost feel as if, when she died, all the wonderful love she had stored inside her was sent out into the universe. The love did not just evaporate but was intentionally directed towards her loved ones. I would like to think that I was one of the lucky recipients of some of her Love and its life-giving energy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Insights into Problem Solving

In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. - R. Buckminster Fuller
Like the Phoenix from the ashes, the original form must be destroyed or comletely changed in order for the new form to emerge.  
As with many things that I create in this medium (i.e. blogging/writing) this is another half-hatched idea that is beginning to present itself to my consciousness. I am currently reading a book that is constantly inspiring me to be more self-reflective and to push me towards a more balanced approach to external versus internal locus of control.

I just finished reading a section on how to better understand problems that arise in our lives. This new style of problem solving is centered on the belief that a problem is a sort of beacon or alert system that indicates that we are not acting in accordance with our soul's wishes. From here on out, when I refer to the soul I will be using the author's definition:

soul - the experience of the Divine expressing as individuality; the self-aware spiritual life force or essence, unique to a particular living being, carrying consciousness of all actions. The inner awareness in a person that exists before birth and that lives on after the physical body dies.
Problems are a sort of blockage, they indicate that something is amiss. In our bodies we experience it as pain. If you know anyone who has chronic pain or any type of pain that has no traceable physical causes then you can understand the power of these blockages. We can actually make ourselves believe we are sick when we are actually perfectly healthy! If the true source of the blockage is not discovered and dealt with then the body will manifest our pain physically (e.g. ulcers, appendicitis, arthritis, heart problems, etc.) Often doctors will say genetics and/or environment are the cause, but there is also the possibility that an emotional trauma, a deep seated fear of change, or simply bad habits have a lot to do with our physical health problems. (*If you follow the link to chronic pain you'll see acupuncture, relaxation and psychotherapy as recommended treatments. It also indicates that placebos work. I find this interesting in light of what I've read today.)

In our external lives we experience problems in many different ways that vary from small and seemingly insignificant occurrences, to enormous, seemingly devastatingly unsurmountable forces. Some examples include: bankruptcy, death of a loved one, bills, work, relationships...etc.

Our current method of solving problems is centered around first defining a situation as either a) good/advantageous or b) bad/problematic. We then isolate the problem and focus our attention on making it change into something we like better. We investigate, survey and analyze all aspects of the problem and expend a lot of energy investing in the desired outcome. What we are really trying to do is control our own futures. We think we can make things go the way we want them to. This is a watste of time because, ultimately the future is not up to us.

What is up to us is how we interpret and reflect on the problem. We could think of it this way: "problems are simply incoming guidance from your soul and navigational devices that indicate the need for directions shifts." (Peirce) In other words problems mean something needs to change. By isolating where the problem is really coming from and then focusing on why it has occurred we can intuitively feel our way through the problem and move in the direction our souls are urging us towards.

Here's a table the book provides that offers a direct comparison:

·         You judge the situation as bad and stop the flow
·         You make it into a statement of truth and lock in a situation you resist
·         You avoid the underlying experience the problem is aiming you toward
·         You jump too far ahead, looking for the final answer
·         You have an agenda that’s out of alignment with your soul’s intent
·         You look for the soul’s reasons: what are you learning and trying to experience?
·         You see it as a natural turning point, choice point, or indication of forthcoming guidance and revelation
·         You turn it into a question or series of questions to elicit deeper insights
·         You keep the flow going by having the indicated experiences first and having faith that the realignment with soul will soon present a beneficial solution

I will leave you with one personal example. I often get lower back pains. I used to blame my minor case of scholiosis and/or work where I stood to frequently or lifted too many heavy things. These causes I had identified were out of my control and thus I felt like a victim of the back pains. The only solutions I could see were to lift fewer things (even though that wasn't always possible at work), to medicate with analgesics and to rest or use a heating pad after the pain had set in. It's been an ongoing challenge for a long time, until recently; now I can almost predict the pain before it begins becuase I have finally begun to understand that it occurs when my body doesn't get enough movement. I began dabbling in yoga a few years ago and recently discovered how beneficial it is for my back. Now when I start to notice that I'm standing around a lot at work I will do a little dance move, or a bend or a stretch...basically anything to move my body in new and interesting ways so that it will not allow my lower back to carry all my weight. It's as if that part of my body now speaks to me, "Hey! Can we get the blood flowing before it starts to hurt me down here?!"

The body and soul are not as separate as we may think (think of them as two sides of the same coin), and thus when your body communicates with you the odds are your soul is also trying to tell you something as well. Yoga has not only improved my back pain, but opened up a whole new style of communication within my body. All it took was a fresh way of experiencing the problems in my life.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Insights into Being With God

I was doing some reading and suddenly got an itch to look at the book of Revelations. I was struck by some of the parallels I noticed between a few of the verses and some of the other books I've been reading lately. This post is my interpretation of some of what is said in Revelations, but also my own emerging views on life in general. I realize this may not be the normal interpretation, but it is meaningful to me. From here on my commentary will be in italics. I hope some of you find it interesting and offer your own insights so that I might build and improve upon my own. Thank you!
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. (Revelations 4:1-2)
The voice of God sounded like a trumpet. Perhaps it was sweet music that made John feel at One with God, or perhaps he more literally understood the physical object in a way that language cannot describe. If you expand your reality to include the objects and living things around you in an intimate way, you are capable of feeling what they need, want or can offer you in way that goes beyond the limitations of language as we know it. This type of Understanding is an ability we fight because there is no scientific explanation for it. The philosopher and psychologist William James once said, “Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.”
How is that we can be thinking of a song and upon the next change of radio stations that exact song is playing? It could simply be coincidence, nothing more; but it could also be an important indication of our abilities as living organisms. Consider this, these types of odd coincidences occur frequently and although we tend to write them off as insignificant they continue to occur nevertheless. Now try to imagine if you did pay attention to those little coincidences. Perhaps you’ll have an important insight about how, when, or why it occurred and begin to notice a pattern (e.g. every time I eat tuna fish I have strange, vivid dreams). Then, suppose you followed your gut more often, and sometimes stopped what you were doing to allow those insights more space and time to reveal themselves. When you receive those insights you then make them a part of your world-view, and thus improve yourself by altering your consciousness. In some ways you are expanding your consciousness to allow for more opportunities for meaningful experiences. The point is, if we actually believed in and paid attention to the fact that we are beings with the same ability to be “intuitive” the way we believe dogs and other animals are, then we can start to practice using it and eventually improve at it.

“When you start using senses you’ve neglected, your reward is to see the world with completely fresh eyes.” – Barbara Sher

The author of Revelations seemed to understand that if he allowed himself to look and behold the open door before him he could hear the voice of God in a new, more meaningful way. It does not say he walked through the door, merely that it was opened. When a Buddhist monk meditates he does a similar act in his mind. By keeping his body still and his mind fluid, open and nonjudgmental he can begin to understand the true meaning of the Self. He can begin to feel the presence of the Divine in himself.What the trumpet is saying to John (who was probably in some way or another having what is called a 'mystical' experience) is, “HEAR ME! I’m not just a thing, I’m YOU!” He hears this voice with his heart, not with his ears; John feels and knows what the trumpet blast is really saying, what God is really saying. Once he understood the Truth of the Self he looked around at the world anew. Things that once felt separate from him are now important and meaningful. My husband Erich and I have begun to the journey of trying to transform our consciousness in this way. He says that now, when he looks at plants, trees especially, he imagines them as the other half of his lungs. It makes perfect sense to me to see them this way. Without plants we couldn't breathe and in their own way they give us life, freely and lovingly. They don't expect anything in return, except perhaps to be treated with the same respect they show us. Even though it sounds hokey, this way of seeing the world has made Erich and I much happier and increased our inner peace immensely. 

Suppose you could feel this way with objects in your life that you take for granted. My Mom once cut her hand open on a glass while cleaning it. She didn’t notice the glass was weak and nearing the point of breaking and thus she washed it too roughly and paid the consequence. That only happened to her once. I can imagine that now when she picks up a glass to wash it by hand she thinks about that experience and inspects the glass a bit more carefully before cleaning it. Perhaps she uses the dishwasher more often. Ultimately, her experience with washing a glass has changed, but in that changescomes understanding. Some spiritualists believe they can intentionally feel into things (both living and nonliving) and have a sense of what it needs or can offer them. One woman describes it with her appliances such as a computer or a washing machine. When she takes the time to merge them into her conscious field she has intuitions about what they need (e.g. “I have a virus” or “change the lint filter”).

This type of knowing, communicating and understanding could be considered being with the  Spirit. As John says he was in the Spirit and that there he could see the throne of the kingdom of Heaven, in it sat One. Who is this One? Is it a wise-looking bearded old man dressed in white and surrounded by light? I don’t believe that. I equate the One with the Unity of all Creation. God isn't in the world, He isn't watching the world, He is the World. Sometimes when you see the World's beauty as if for the first time it can take your breath away. What if we felt that sort of Reverence all of the time? I think we can, but it takes time and concentration to open the door in our own minds that allows us to see the World the way God intends.

And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelations 4:5)

According to some traditions, the body has seven Chakras, “which are the energy vortices or centers of our bodies. Chakras might be thought of as points where higher energies are transferred into  the physical world via an intermediary energy or light body, composed of subtle energy often called chi.”(Peirce, Penney)Could the seven chakras be what John was describing as the seven Spirits of God? Each Chakra is a sort of control center one region of the body, from the body comes important information about the world. If you look at the picture you can see that each area serves a purpose, has a message for us. Our Earth center gives us information on how we should act in order to survive, i.e. drive for security and health (or basic survival). As you move up the body, the Chakras begin to give us drive towards other means of surviving and thriving, much like the way Maslow's hierarchy of needs progresses. When you get to the higher power centers they begin to shift towards the spiritual and intellectual understanding of the world. It's as if the path to enlightenment were literally written within our bodies. They say God works in mysterious ways. What could be more mysterious than imprinting the meaning of life into our own physical bodies?

If God is the World, then I believe when the Bible refers to the Garden of Eden, what it actually means is a time when we appreciated the World for its Divine qualities. Eden was a place of Life and Love and Creation. What if the Fall is actually a sort of blindness or great forgetting. We have become blind to the Eden that surrounds us and our role within it. Thus, because we could not see it,  we began to mistreat it, to cast ourselves out as” Others”. We, human beings, stand alone in our obstinate battle for dominion and control, but we are also unique because we have the ability to interpret the world however we want to. We are supposed to be the caretakers of Eden, but when we realized we could also act as Creators we let the power go to our heads. We didn't realize that when you decide to create you also must destroy. That is why the knowledge of what is good and what is evil belongs only truly to God. When we begin to decide what is good and what is evil, we are only thinking of what is good for US, and evil for US. We forget about the World, which is like turning our backs on God. We did not stop eating from the Tree of Life when we ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, but we did abandon our roll as caretakers and appreciators for a new job, entirely self-determined, that because WE now held the power of determining good from evil, we no longer needed God to decide. God has been trying to call us Home now for centuries. We see it sometimes as punishment: floods, wars, famines, etc. We also see it as pure Love, acceptance and forgiveness. I think that the solution to all of our current problems is just to slow down and listen to the World again, to be care full.  

Have you ever given thought to the reasons you believe what you believe? I do. Often. Whatever beliefs you hold probably have the same underlying motivation most human beings are driven by. We want to know what it all means. Most religions or spiritualties give a person peace about what will happen to his or her soul when he or she dies. It helps give our lives meaning to have a safety net that provides you with the knowledge that “everything will be OK.” These beliefs give you comfort and allow you to accept the inevitability of your death. Those who have not comes to terms with their own death live in fear; always choosing what gives security over what gives authenticity and meaning to life. I don’t believe this is how we are meant to be forever. I think we are capable of moving beyond that way of thinking. We can make choices based on Love over fear, and will be able to see the World with fresh eyes again. 

The fear can manifest itself differently depending on the individuals involved. We can learn to communicate without using fear if we pay attention to the little things I discussed earlier. There is a noticeable difference between fear-based thinking and acting and love-based thinking and acting. When I swat at the horse fly in fear of its bite I send it the message “I am afraid of you!” to which he responds in turn, “OK I’ll intimidate you more, so that I can escape without harm!” My fear and frantic swatting cause him to dive into my face and buzz around my shoulders for longer than either of us would like. When I respond calmly, however, he responds very differently. Today I looked up and saw him hovering above my head and thought to myself, “I’ll flick YOU if you come closer to me, so please don't make me do it!” I imagined flicking him out of the air and as soon as I did he turned and flew in the other direction. Did he hear my thoughts? If he did he understood it, not in words but in awareness of my desire not to be bothered and my promise of swift retaliation if he invaded my space. In dealing with our own death and searching for a meaning to our lives we can extinguish fear altogether, and have more experiences like the one I just described. Whether the fly really heard me is irrelevant, my experience is what changed. What would have been an annoying experience, was suddenly a fun, whimsical one.

Eliminating fear is, of course, not something that occurs overnight. That is why all religions and forms of spirituality include prayer, practice and/or meditation of some kind. Rituals, rules, conventions, norms and attitudes that we take part in help bring us closer to understanding our individual Meaning, or Purpose. There is also a need for intellectual discussion in order for our understanding to progress. The exchange of ideas can help us interpret things in a new, more all encompassing way. When we commit ourselves to self improvement we are rewarded by feeling closer to God, or as I like to call it getting into the Flow. Eastern cultures call it the Tao, the ever-changing, life-giving Energy where everything is at once together and separate. The more comfortable I get with my own Meaning the more I start to understand the inherent paradoxes of Being. I will continue to dig deeper into my own understanding of what it means to be with God and for her/him/it to be with me. Ultimately, I have decided that it is within my reach to feel that kind of understanding, but I also accept that I will likely not have words that could adequately describe when that time finally comes...but that doesn't mean we should still try to have a dialogue about it. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Insights into the Narrow Road

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.I fall in.I am lost ... I am helpless.It isn't my fault.It takes forever to find a way out.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
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.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

The road of life is full of twists and turns, potholes and roadblocks. Even at the age of only 24 I feel as if I have witnessed and experienced my share of obstacles, and much of our happiness (or unhappiness) is a direct result of the choices we make. There are always roads not taken, but only one chosen reality. As I get older (and hopefully wiser) I'm learning that above all else it is important to look around and recognize where I am right now. I ask how did I get here? Do I like it here? Understanding where I am allows me to make better decisions on how to proceed with my life. Sometimes it's not clear which route is best, but with reflection, meditation, intuition and intellect I find I am able to more clearly see my full range of possibilities and make the choice that will yield the results I desire. The more I practice the more I understand that it is extremely important that I make the decision that is best for me. Choosing a route to appease, please, or protect others usually leads to dissatisfaction, frustration and resentment on my part. Little by little I am learning to let go of my own doubt and guilt and make the choices that I truly need. Even though it still feels selfish at times, it is far better than sacrificing my own authenticity to the people around me. Ultimately the people who truly love me are still there for me, and that's all that really matters anyway.

I first read the poem above in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (a book I recommend highly for people of all faiths and backgrounds who wish to explore a path of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace). As I reflect on it now (a few months after my initial impression of it) I find myself staring blankly at Chapter 5. I have, I hope, learned to avoid the deep holes more quickly and more willingly...but I don't always see the other street to walk down. How do I know it when I see it? Often we travel the well worn path. The path that many others before us have traveled. This makes travel easy and efficient. The course is designed for us in much the same way our Interstates connect us from point A to point B with smooth (well mostly) four-lane roads and neatly plotted out exits. If we see our journey through life in this way then we start to believe that the potholes and speed traps that are caused by overuse and overcrowding are unavoidable situations that we simply must deal with in order to reach our destination quickly. The focus becomes sidestepping the hole in the sidewalk, rather than avoiding that street altogether. The stress and anxiety that we feel because of it also begin to feel unavoidable and we start to feel trapped...But what if we decided to stop rushing and start questioning? What if we took the blue highways instead? 

Imagine all the small towns and twists and turns, the sights you'll see if you let off the gas pedal and cruise at 55mph instead of 70mph. True, you'll get there more slowly. You may get lost. You may not like where you end up. BUT, You may also find something you didn't know you were looking for. You may meet interesting people and see odd things. You may discover that the world is still quite beautiful and full of kind, generous, friendly people. The possibilities on the blue highways become endless, there are no predetermined "exits." Like a network of veins and arteries scattered across the land, the narrow highways can carry you to smallest country towns or to the largest, bustling cities and in the meantime provide your soul with the life blood it needs: i.e. meaningful experience. Not meaningful in terms of what a city planner thought was important, but meaningful in a way that is important to you. Now imagine getting out of your car and riding your bicycle, how many paths are open to you now? Narrow alleys, gravel paths, woodland trails...all the places cars can't go now become viable options for you. Finally, imagine slowing down even more and usin your feet...how many routes could you take to get from A to B if you decide to walk everywhere you go? The possibilities become endless (why do you think Jesus, Ghandi, Buddha...etc. all walked everywhere???). That is what freedom looks like. Taking matters into your own hands and truly exploring all of your options. It's not always easy to see them, but with time and practice I have found that it can be done and that the results are worth while. 

13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7)
Not all blue highways are literally blue. Some are not even paved.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Insights into Moving Forward

We must be still and still moving.
Into another intensity...
-T.S. Eliot

I didn't know how to start my next blog. I've been worrying about my next post for some time now. At the end of each of my previous posts I have felt a certain sense of relief, or better yet release. It's as if each time I wrote I was dipping my foot deeper into the murky waters of my true self. The deeper I wade in, the more my Ego gets washed away. Lately, I have not been writing, and thus have not been wading. I am standing ankle deep in my Self but too afraid to sink further in. What swims in the dark waters of my unconscious? Will I be able to leave this pool and still recognize myself? Fear and anxiety have left me feeling unsure of my next move.

Sometimes the simplest things can help me feel unstuck. Today is  a new day and I am open to its many possibilities. After speaking to my good friend Cara I realized what today truly held for me. Our conversation, our ability to openly share with one another, renewed my self confidence. Whether she realizes it or not she encouraged me to continue forward, to move without fear. Her ability to listen to me intuitively and compassionately made me feel safe and secure. I was able to say aloud things that had been brewing in my mind. By listening to me she had given life to what had previously been only ideas. It's funny how words work...once you say them out loud they don't belong to you anymore.Hearing myself explain some of my recent experiences gave me a slightly different perspective and I appreciate the input I received from Cara as well.

After we spoke I immediately sat down to write, but ended up stumbling upon a poem called East Coker by T.S. Eliot instead. I read it aloud to myself. The words spoke to me because I felt an immediate relationship with the narrator. It encouraged me to write from my heart, even if it sounds silly or incoherent. I know at this moment that I am rambling, and yet I feel the need to continue. Not just for me, but for you, too (whoever you are). I hope that you can connect with me. If you feel what I feel, even sometimes, then I have shared what I'm meant to share with you. You don't have to do it alone. There is always someone who understands what you are going through and there's always someone who can encourage you to be the truest form of yourself. The encouragement I can offer is this: there is literally nothing more important than knowing who You are. It is important not to let anyone convince you otherwise (including yourself!). Sometimes the person holding us back isn't a friend or family member, it's ourselves, our own egos. Self doubt, grief, worry, fear, anxiety, selfishness, guilt...these are all creations of your ego meant to control you. They hold you back from doing the things your gut, your heart, your soul knows are right. Sometimes it can be hard to hear your heart clearly over all the noise and commotion of the ego. Perhaps this visual will help describe what I'm talking about:

Imagine a jar of mud, rocks and water.When that jar is shaken up it is difficult to see the water clearly. It becomes murky and dark. Now imagine the jar sitting still on a table. The stillness allows all the debris to settle at the bottom, leaving only the clear water at the top.

Sometimes the only way to move forward is to stop and be still (or Let It Be). Allow your anxieties to settle and look inside yourself for the calm, happy, loving spirit that is inside of you. Sometimes, when you do this your next action becomes clear to you. You can move ahead feeling lighter and more self-assured.

I hope this helped even one person. I thank you for your time. I thank Cara for helping me move forward. Love and peace to all.