Ramblings

Taking a sacred pause

In order to truly practice and live a spiritual (or “conscious,” if you like that term better) way of life, you must be willing to take a kind of personal responsibility for whatever is happening inside you at any given time. It is the fundamental understanding that all of your feelings, reactions, and judgments have absolutely nothing to do with the other person. No one can make you feel anything. It is the ideas, stories, and interpretations you make, about what was said or done, that cause you to feel whatever you feel. (This is why one person’s joke is another person’s insult. It is the insulted person’s internal interpretations that make the joke offensive).

Recognizing this, you see that there is no reason to retaliate for harsh words, no reason to get defensive, no reason to send your emotional poison (as don Miguel terms it) to anyone else. When you feel upset, or emotionally reactive, or “triggered” (as the cool kids now call it) by something, it is not the time to lash out. It’s not the time to create new rules of conduct. It’s not the time to get righteous, or set boundaries, or hit them back. Instead, it is the time to take a pause (a “sacred pause” as one of my friends calls it), and figure out what you feel and why. What are you really reacting to? Start with the assumption that anger is fear, and ask yourself in that moment “what am I afraid of here?” When you have done your internal work, when you have reached your emotional neutral, that is the time to discuss your feelings with the other person. If you don’t know the real reason you’re so upset, how do you expect the other person to address it in any satisfactory way?

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Living your truth

“Living one’s truth” or “speaking one’s truth” has become a little bit of a cliche in personal development and/or spiritual circles. It’s often mis-used as a justification for selfishness and reckless confrontation; but that is not at all the proper understanding of this beautiful concept. (more…)

Some more thoughts on love…

 

Love is kindness, complete acceptance, authentic vulnerable communication, freedom, empathy/compassion, and respect. It is only when you give yourself these things, that you can begin giving them to another.

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Love doesn’t mean compromising away your own happiness or comfort.
Love doesn’t ask for sacrifices or obligations to keep another happy.
Love doesn’t require selflessness; it doesn’t ask you to put the needs/desires of others above your own.
Love doesn’t mean never saying you’re sorry.
Love doesn’t mean you can take your stress and bad moods out on another.
Love doesn’t mean you make the other your enemy.
Love doesn’t have defensiveness.
Love doesn’t ask for pity.
Love doesn’t use guilt trips or threats of punishment.
Love doesn’t mean you owe anything, or that anything is owed to you.
Love doesn’t mean worrying or keeping track of the other.
Love doesn’t require obedience or rules.
Love doesn’t hurt another in retaliation when you feel hurt.
Love doesn’t require pain.
Love doesn’t make ultimatums.
Love doesn’t ask you to give up your life’s dreams.
Love doesn’t put your happiness, security, or confidence in another’s hands.
Love doesn’t ask you to be different.
Love doesn’t make you hide aspects of yourself because they are uncomfortable or unpopular.
Love isn’t mean, critical, or sarcastic; it doesn’t use humor to put you down, and it doesn’t make jokes at your expense.
Love doesn’t make you feel small and powerless.
Love doesn’t try to fix you or make you “better.”
Love doesn’t have conditions (“I will love you if…”)
Love has solid boundaries, not selfishness.
Love is not anxious or uncertain.
Love doesn’t seek validation or worthiness in another.
Love doesn’t have expectations or demands.
Love doesn’t keep score.
Love can be ruthless, but when done truthfully and with complete integrity, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world.

The Vine of the Soul

(A small disclaimer for all the devotees who say that reading and writing about it is pointless without having experienced it – I hear you. I haven’t experienced it, but I’m going to write about it anyway. I hope she takes it as a sign of my respect and reverence that I won’t agree to drink Ayahuasca until the time feels right for me.)

I promised to write about Ayahuasca quite some time ago, but just never got around to it. My only attempt here is to collect and offer some of the wonderful resources I’ve encountered, so you can investigate further, if you’re interested.  (more…)

Your life is your teacher

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Yes. That’s broccoli. Linda loves broccoli.

So this is my dog Linda (also affectionately known as Bubba. I’m not sure why, she just looks like a Bubba to me). Although if you ask her, Linda would probably correct you that more accurately, I am her human; that I belong to her. She owns me, and not the other way around.

I rescued Linda a few years ago after she was surrendered by her previous humans. I’m not entirely sure about the circumstances of her home of origin, but it took lots of love, and patience, and many months to get her to really open up, and overcome her inexplicable fear of men and the doorbell.

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Living with mindfulness

savorA few weeks ago, I was out walking the dog along the waterfront, where a new pier is being constructed for a residential high-rise. It’s been a little noisy in the neighborhood for the last few months, but nothing really disturbing; just a constant sort of background hum.

This particular day however, as we got closer to the site, I could really hear it. I mean really. You want to know how loud it was? It was louder than the loudest setting on my phone’s music app! I know, right? Immediately, the yenta complainer voice that lives in my head chimed in: “Ugh. It’s so loud. I wish it would stop. Why does this need to be happening now? Why can’t I just go for a quiet peaceful walk on a beautiful warm day without something like this ruining it? Why does this always happen to me?” She’s a real gem…

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What is the practice of self-love?

Self-love is not about affirmations or proclamations. It’s not about pretending to be happy, going to the gym, doing yoga, or eating a vegan diet. It is a practice; a difficult, often scary, daily mental exercise that you can do sitting on your couch. It’s more important than anything else you do, any day of the week. If you don’t practice self-love, then you don’t have any love to give anyone else in your life.

It’s about looking inward and getting in touch with your vulnerabilities; your darkest, most terrifying thoughts. It’s about being gentle and compassionate with your screaming inner child. It’s honoring your authentic self, and listening for the divine wisdom of your intuition. It’s learning to say yes to what your heart asks of you; and learning to say no to anything that goes against your truth.

The relationship you build with yourself through this practice is the most important relationship you will ever have. Cherish it.

I am responsible for what I say. But I am not responsible for what you hear.

This is one of my favorite quotes by don Miguel Ruiz. It is such a profound piece of wisdom. When you “get” what this really means, it has the power to transform your life entirely. I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot lately.

Try as we might, we cannot control what other people think of us. We all want to be thought of as “good” people, but the reality is that everyone hears, sees, and judges others through their own filters in the mind. People make assumptions and judgments based on what they believe about themselves and their own realities. There is very little you can do about that in relation to another person.

When you realize this, you stop trying so hard to affect what others think of you. You just do and say whatever is in your own integrity, guided by your own truths. And how people react is entirely their business. Let them have their reactions. When you stop seeking love and approval outside yourself, you can experience the incredible joy of real freedom.

Letting go…

shutterstock_83671309Letting go of your past can be very scary; not just to your own mind, but to those around you as well. You’ve come to rely deeply on the stories you tell yourself about who you are, what you’ve done, and what’s been done to you.

Making the choice to set down all the baggage, and look with fresh eyes, loving, honest, and compassionate eyes, can be daunting.

The ego won’t like it; I can assure you of that. But when you decide that the time has come, you will see how quickly and easily all those stories dissolve. A tiny little crack is all it takes to let the light come rushing in.

Set down the stories, release yourself of all those burdens and misunderstandings, and let your love shine again.

(photo courtesy of shutterstock)

Stop sacrificing yourself in the name of love

We live in a society that keeps telling us to do more, be more, achieve more. “Lean in.” says Sheryl Sandberg. “Just do it.” says Nike. Push yourself harder. Get into better shape. Make more money. Get that promotion. Run faster, sleep less, eat less, work more. Worry constantly that you’re not doing enough. No excuses. Don’t be lazy. Why? What for? Why are you stuck in this hamster wheel, exactly? Have you ever stopped for a second to ask yourself what you’re doing all of this for? Is it so that you can be loved? Admired? Respected? Envied perhaps? So that you can afford more stuff? So that you can feel better about yourself? So that years from now, when you’re old and sick, you can actually enjoy your life?

In her book, the Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown describes the dig-deep button: “You know the dig-deep button, right? It’s the button that you rely on when you’re too bone-tired to get up one more time in the middle of the night[,] or to do one more load of throw-up-diarrhea laundry[,] or to catch one more plane[,] or to return one more call[,] or to please/perform/perfect the way you normally do even when you just want to flip someone off and hide under the covers. The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing through when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there’s too much to do and too little time for self-care.” 

One of the pearls of wisdom Gaya shared with me was “listen to your body.” (This is another one of those super simple sounding lessons that takes a lot of time to really sink in – you have to live the experience of it before you can understand it truly). Listen to your body is the polar opposite of the dig-deep button. Whether you believe in spirit or not, assume for a moment that your body (your emotions, your feelings, your sensations) are the way your soul, or your higher self, communicates with you. It lets you know when you’ve reached your limits and where you are pushing past boundaries when you shouldn’t be. Those messages deserve your attention. They actually exist to serve your highest good.

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