Monthly Archives: February 2012

THREEDEELIFERS: THE WOMEN OF IMMACULATE HEART

President’s Day weekend I wanted to get out of the city.  I wanted to hear the wind and smell green things.  But where to go?  I didn’t feel like visiting anyone.  I didn’t feel like doing a class or workshop.

That is when I found the Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal of Montecito, right next to the $500 a night San Ysidro Ranch.  You pay a low fee for Fri-Sun for room and board, with the promise that you will not leave the property except to hike (they want this to be a retreat, not a hostel).  Instead of 500-count sheets, you get amazing organic food made fresh from the farm with love, and gorgeous old stone architecture.

Although I was excited by the website’s photos and reports of the food, I was a bit worried about the whole religious thing.  I have limited experience with organized religion. I worried it might be a stuffy or uptight.  What I found was an inspiring group of ex-nuns who displayed true courage in their commitment to their faith.  I had the pleasure of speaking with one of those ex-nuns while I was at the Center, Joanne Connors, who entered the ex-Order in 1960.  This is their story.

In the 1940s, the Catholic Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary bought a 27-acre Montecito estate to house its novitiate (a novitiate is like training to be a nun).  Everything was going more or less according to traditional plan, when in 1965, Pope John XXIII called Vatican II Council.  The goal of Vatican II was to modernize the church, including the lifestyles and practices of its nuns.

The Immaculate Heart sisters were ready for a change.  They were a young, educated group of nuns eager to join the modern age.  In 1967, they adopted new regulations, allowing their members to choose their field of service, to wear secular clothes, and to pray on their own.

But the Los Angeles Cardinal at the time, James Francis McIntyre, said not so fast.  He hated the Vatican II, and hated the changes the sisters made.  He wanted them to go back to their old ways.  Eventually, the Church backed the Cardinal and told the IHM sisters that they needed to abandon their new changes or leave the Church.

The sisters were faced with a scary choice.  Joanne explained that the Church was not just their spiritual home–it was their work, their food, their health service.  But they truly believed in the changes that they had made.  Eventually, most of the women (about 300) decided to turn in their habits, and seek dispensation from their vows.  This was not an easy or light decision.  Joanne explained that they truly believed that they would all disband.  They had no way to support themselves.

But help came flooding in from fellow e-nuns, family, and friends.  They gave each other clothes, credit cards, and cars.  They got better jobs and housing.  They fostered closer ties with the community.  They established an ecumenical community based on their vision, including men.  The Immaculate Heart Community (IHC) was born.  The founding mission of this community is, in large part, to “foster access of all persons to truth, dignity, and full human development, and strategically change practices and situations which impede such access.”

Rather than give into the fear, these women followed their hearts.  They had no idea how they would make this transition, but they found the support.  Looking back, Joanne said it was “amazing to see how God was working through this situation.”   She came to believe that excommunication was just a “word they used to threaten you.”  No matter how big and real your fears might seem, “you have to be true to yourself.”  Ultimately, Joanne found a deeper connection with God by choosing to fully commit to her community and to their path of service, instead of safely staying with the organized Church.

I was truly inspired by Joanne and the women of the Immaculate Heart.  They helped me remember that courage does not mean the absence of fear, but the strength to follow your heart.

Finding the Strength to Be Vulnerable

A friend of mine asked a beautiful question the other day that I think many of us have asked ourselves before.  He said (I am para-phrasing):  “I have no problem being angry.  Anger is a STRONG emotion.  I can be present for that.  But how do I stay present with fear and self-doubt?  Those are such weak, wimpy, non-masculine emotions.  Plus, when I stay with them, sometimes I end up unable to effectively run my business or be with my family.”

My friend is on the right track.  We do not want to stuff fear and self-doubt down our mental toilet, only to have the piping back up.  These emotions as a natural part of being alive–if we cut them off we distance ourselves from the brightness of life.

But feeling emotions is very different from letting them consume us (that is where my friend was running into trouble with his work and family).   We need to open our hearts without getting lost in our experiences and confusing them for reality.  So in a sense, we need to be really strong in order to be truly vulnerable. 

So the deeper question is: How can we develop the strength to truly face fear and self-doubt?

I have two different practices that I would like to share with you.  One is mine, and the other is from renowned vulnerability expert Brene Brown.

Me:  Cultivate the Heart of a Warrior

To develop this strength, I consciously cultivate a relationship with my awareness/witness mind.  This awareness is spacious, vibrant, and tender.  As I walk to work in the parking lot, I connect with this awareness through my heart, body, and breath.  As I brush my teeth.  As I do my work.   Definitely, when I meditate.

Then, when a big oh-shit wave of fear and self-doubt comes, I can watch it rise and fall with compassion, even curiosity.   Because I know the emotion is not me, I can let the fear and doubt be as deep and wide as they want to be without getting sucked in.  This is what Shambhala calls developing the heart of a spiritual warrior.  A warrior heart is strong and open enough to face even the scariest fear.

Brene Brown: Release the Fears to God

Brene Brown is a well-known speaker who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame.  (Agh-LOVE!)  She just posted this beautiful post about her practice of “Turning Things Over.”  When she has any fears (or even great hopes) come up, she writes them down on a piece of paper.  I would encourage anyone doing this practice to take a few minutes to sit with that fear and feel it in your body.  Then she puts them in a bowl or box that symbolizes turning over those fears to God.   (The bowl in the picture was given to her by an admiring potter.)  This is a concrete way to allow yourself to FEEL and ACKNOWLEDGE the fear, but then release it to a higher power.  Again, a great way not to get sucked up in the Fear Trap my friend was worried about.

Brene’s practice might be especially great for specific problem-related “nagging” fears, while my Shambhala-based practice might be especially suited for pervasive self-doubt.  I hope that they both serve you.

With love and light,

N

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Embracing Personal Sadness as the Path to Awakening

 

 In the course of writing Threedeelife, I have had the pleasure of encountering others on the Buddhist path.   One of the people I have had the pleasure of connecting with is Mr. Benjamin Riggs, an amazingly brave and eloquent Buddhist blogger from Louisiana.  Below, I would like to share Ben’s writing on the topic of embracing sadness.   Get ready for a straight, bracing shot of Buddhist wisdom.  The original article can be accessed here (while you are on his blog, be sure to check out his amazing About Me page, which lays out his own spiritual awakening in full heart-opening honesty.)

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Buddhism is not about wishful thinking or academic speculation. The Buddhist path is about learning to participate in the expansion of your true life. In short, it is about learning to love your Self.

Buddhist spirituality is not a theoretical endeavor. It is a first-person exploration of what it means to truly be your Self. Buddhism is about awakening to the immediacy of our life. Ideas do not awaken people, experiences do. So, the Buddhist path is an experiment that emerges in response to the question, “Who am I?”, and ends with a direct experience of Being that precedes any speculation. The aim of Buddhist spirituality is to move beyond the realm of internal dialogue so that our personal confusion maybe unraveled in a flash of insight.

In order for this experiment to be relevant, we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves. This means that any attempt to engage in wishful thinking is a waste of time. We have to get our hands dirty. Currently we are standing at the threshold of the spiritual path, and no one comes to spirituality for shits-&-giggles. We come to spirituality because of personal dissatisfaction, and the Buddhist path begins with the first noble truth, the truth of suffering. The first noble truth is an invitation to relate to our personal disappointment.
The Movement of Suffering.
There seems to be a gulf between our true Life and the life we are living. This gulf—the space that separates the sub-conscious intuition of our true Self from the limited self we pretend to be—is consciously interpreted as a void or a feeling of incompleteness. This void is called pervasive discontentment—the absence of fulfillment or content. In order to fill this vacancy, we cling to busy-ness. Busy-ness creates the illusion of purpose because it enables us to create conceptual vouchers or identities that provide us with a fleeting measure of purpose. However, it doesn’t take long for this contrived sense of purpose to expire. Once our fabricated role reaches it’s expiration date it is revealed to be nothing more than a distraction, intended to divert our attention away from the truth of our underlying dissatisfaction. Then the job or relationship that was once a source of entertainment becomes an object of frustration. This oscillation between satisfaction and dissatisfaction is called the suffering of change. Now we find ourselves right back at square one—unfulfilled. Only this time, we have the added frustration of having failed, yet again, to find lasting happiness. This is the suffering of suffering.

Over time, our frustration accumulates. Eventually, the situation becomes explosive, and we take action. This is what brings us to the doorstep of spirituality. The extremities of personal dissatisfaction vary from person to person—some reach a point of complete self-destruction; while others are merely disillusioned with the reality of their less than satisfying life. Regardless of the extremities, the tipping point for everyone is when they admit that they cannot continue to live the way they have been living, but realize they know no other way to live. At this point, there is no plan B or escape route. We are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths surrounding our personal dissatisfaction. This is the first noble truth.

When we look at the first noble truth we can do so in one of two ways: as scholars or practitioners. Scholars study the principles conveyed by the Buddha in the first noble truth. Practitioners use the principles of the first noble truth to study themselves. It can be entertaining to study spirituality from a far, but often times this proves to be another example of busyness meant to provide us with some fleeting sense of self-importance. Chogyam Trungpa called this Spiritual Materialism. Walking the path is far more terrifying. It demands that we look at our life with uncompromising honesty, and accept some things about our circumstances that are inconvenient.

The Heart of Spirituality.
When we truly relate to our personal dissatisfaction we realize that our life is a pattern of learned behaviors revolving around a center that is inauthentic and uninspired. We thought that life was about becoming our own person; rather than learning to embody the creative nature of our individuality. As a result, our every action was transformed into an attempt to become what we were not. This left us feeling empty and inadequate. Furthermore, when we look deeply, through the practice of meditation, we realize that we created the false self that our barren life has been obsessively revolving around. We see that we are the creators of the world we inhabit. We have divided ourselves against ourselves and made ourselves into slaves, chained to the task of filling the void that we created when we tried to become what we thought our friends, family, or society wanted us to be.

It is difficult to accept that we are both the prisoner and the guard. First of all, because, if we are responsible for all of our dissatisfaction, then we must also accept the sterile nature of one of our favorite past-times, blame. The futility of life, as we have been living it, is not the fault of our upbringing; we cannot blame it on society or the insufficiency of religion. Truly relating to our personal suffering means that out of all the assholes we have met, we are, perhaps, the biggest; out of all the bullies we have faced, no one, other than the one we created, so ruthlessly suppressed that silent voice of authenticity that always asked us to be true to our Self. Second, it puts us in a very compromising position. We are forced to learn to love ourselves, even the part of us we hate for having created this terrifying situation. On the spiritual path it is often said that we must be compassionate and loving toward our enemies. But when we realize that we are our greatest enemy will we be able to grant ourselves the same loving space that we would grant a dear friend?

The Buddhist path requires bravery and courage. We are put in a vulnerable situation immediately, but if we should choose to sit with our darker side, we will see, in a flash of insight, our basic goodness—the heart of enlightenment—break through that karmic cloud of darkness.  It is only by digging deep into the silence of our inner-being that we are capable of recovering the unlimited capacities of our own enlightened potential. And it is within this untapped inner-resource that we will find the answer to the question, “Who am I?”.

 

 

 

I Am Not Loveable, I Am Love

Today is the first time in twelve years I do not have a Valentine.  Well, my mom did send me a super sweet card from across the country.  Okay, correction.  Today is the first time in twelve years I do not have a Valentine other than my awesome loving mom.

When I think of other solo Valentine Days, my mind kicks me back to grade school.  Ah, grade school.  I remember that my enlightened school cleverly designed an anonymous Valentine’s Day carnation ceremony, with the obvious goal of traumatizing grade school girls.  The way it worked is that guys would go and secretly buy $1 carnations in the cafeteria.  They could attach a secret message professing their love and giving clues about their identity.  Giggle giggle.  Later that day, the people in charge would deliver the carnations to the lucky girls.  Super-squealy fun if you got a carnation.  Apparently, painful memories that last until your thirties if you did not.  Rejection sucks.

The whole Carnation Ceremony thing might sound juvenile, but I just got done watching The Bachelor, which is basically a grown-up version of this same ritual.   Come to think of it, it is exactly the same thing–they actually have Rose Ceremonies, for god sake.  And just like the little girls in my middle school, the women on the Bachelor really, really want the magic and wonderfulness of love.  More than anything, they want to BE loved.  When rejection looms, even the strongest, cattiest woman among them breaks down into gut-wrenching tears and sobs about how she is heartbroken.

Let’s be real here.  The majority of these women are not crying because they are not going to be with this specific guy.  Lots of guys could look pretty hot diving for sharks and routinely picking you up in a helicopter.  The guy is just a placeholder symbolizing the possibility of love.  When the guy turns them away, but not the other women, the women interpret this as a message saying: “Love is not possible for you, in particular.”  These women are crying because they are secretly worried–just like my sixth grade self–that they are unlovable.

What a crappy story to tell ourselves.  Seriously, to believe that just because someone else–for whatever reason–does not want to be with us, that we are cut off from love?  And wow, what a lot of power to give someone else.  How crazy to think that if a person does not want to be with you, your inner spirit is lacking.  When we tell ourselves this story, we literally deliver our self-worth into someone else’s hands.

Today, I am working on consciously changing my story (sixth-grade old Nicole, you better listen good sweetie).  The truth is that no one can ever cut me off from love.  Call it Basic Goodness, call it Buddha Nature, call it God, call it Spirit.  My fundamental, uncluttered awareness is alive (as I wrote at the beginning of this month)!  It is full.  It is vibrant.  It is all inclusive.  It is joyful.  I am not “loveable.”  I AM love.

So I am going to stop worrying about whether or not I get a carnation.  I officially choose to opt out of the Bachelor game.  To put it bluntly, it seems ass-backwards to beg other people to give me something that is already part of me–that is me.  Instead of waiting around for someone to tell me I am special, I am going to fall into my own wide-open heart.  I am going to focus on tuning into the free and abundant and ever-present love inside of me.  Rejection and loneliness will probably always hurt, but I am going to stop believing that they say anything about who I am.

And you know what else?  I am also going to practice loving others, regardless of whether they love me.  Guy in sixth grade who I secretly pined for but didn’t send me a stupid $1 Carnation?  I love you.  Friend who has not called me back in a while?  I love you.  Guy who I told that we should just be friends after one date?  I love you too.  Not the romantic, messy, I-want-something-from-you kind of love.  The I-sincerely-wish-you-the-best-as-another-person-on-this-path-of-life-no-matter-what kind of love.  There is no loss of dignity in loving someone when you do not need anything from them.  There is also no danger in becoming blind to the current state of someone’s character when your love has no strings.  Practicing unconditional love is entirely consistent with healthy boundaries and skillful discernment.

So happy Valentine’s Day to me and you.  Carnations and roses for all.  It’s pretty amazing to realize I do not have to wait for anyone to love me to (a) be connected to love, or (b) love them back.  I can just open my heart.  It is just that simple.

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Practicing Patience, Big and Small

Impatience…can you feel it with me for a second…the small tickly feeling when you have sat at that restaurant table for hours…the far-away detached glaze when someone has been talking and talking…the unsettled, anxious knot when you want something to happen and nothing is going on.

Lately I have been noticing impatience in my life in big and small ways.  Rather than glossing over it, I am tuning in.  What is this feeling?  What I come up with is that I get impatient when I get fixated on something in the future, and I am not allowing myself to be in the present.  I have already checked out.  Why do I check out?  Lots of reasons.  Because I do not think anything will happen right now.  Because right now is uncomfortable and I want to escape it.  Because I am nervous about what is going to come next and I sooth myself by mentally jumping into the future and playing it out.

But really, there is only one reason to be impatient:  I am trying to lead life, instead of letting life lead me.  I am trying to substitute my will for Spirit’s.  I am trying to control things because I am scared to let things unfold in their own time.  So when I notice myself feeling impatient now, I try and use it as an opportunity to practice self-awareness, compassion, and surrender.  I notice how it feels in my body.  Oh, hello impatience.  Why are you here?  I have compassion for the part of myself that thinks it needs to be in control or the world will fall apart.  And I tell myself, “It’s okay.  Let life show you around.  Trust.  Let go.  See what happens next.  It could surprise you.”

Usually this is a relief.  For example, when I am rushing out of my apartment in the morning and all of a sudden I notice that I am already mentally at the office (35 miles and 45 minutes away), I can check in and slow down.  I notice how my body is all tight.  I use my breath to release this tension.  I have compassion for the fact that I am worried about work.  But then I remind myself that I’ll get there in due time, and worrying won’t speed it up.  And then I give myself the pleasure of opening up to what is going on around me.  Like the amazing view from my front door of the ocean.  The fresh morning smell.  Don’t want to miss that because I was in such a rush to get to work.

This can also work with difficult experiences, like when someone is talking when I think I “should” be doing something else.  I notice that I am fighting the experience.  I drop into my body, forgive myself for being so tense, forgive myself for ignoring the other person, and then relax.  I am here.  I do not need to go anywhere.  Nothing needs to get done.  The most important thing I can do right now is give this person my full, undivided attention.  And really, what is more important than truly being present with someone?  Once I have given myself permission to stop worrying about all these illusionary things I need to do, and remind myself of the honor it is that this person wants to share something with me, I start to actively engage in the moment again.   The impatience disappears.

The one area of my life where I am having real trouble applying this right now is my job.  I am in a one year position, and at the end of this year I need to decide what I want to do next.  I could go back to my old position.  I could go to a new job, but still work at a law firm. I could do something totally different.  I am not getting any clear answers and it. is. driving. me. crazy.  Even though out of all the examples I have given this is the one that allows me the most physical time, it is the one where I am least able to chill out.

So right now I am at the stage of tuning in to what is making me so uncomfortable about the whole thing.  And I can see that the reason why I am so impatient about my career choice makes perfect sense.  I have this underlying belief that I need to actively take control of my career and “make” things happen–the perfect remedy for impatience.  This vision is given extra juice by my underlying fear of finding myself 20 or so years down the road, realizing I am not fulfilled by my job and wishing I had “done” something about it.  I don’t want trust in the universe to devolve into passivity and missed opportunities.  On the other hand, I do not want my desire to be active and engaged in this process to snowball into a big mass of anxious impatience that leads me to make a rash decision before the time is right.  Especially when I do not have a clear vision right now of my goal.

I know that when I have patience about getting out of my apartment in the morning or listening to someone, it doesn’t mean I entirely abandon the idea of doing what I need to do next.  It just means that I have a different attitude towards the pace at which it is going to happen.  But for some reason, I am having more trouble trusting that an answer about my job will come to me unless I frantically worry away at it.

On the ride home tonight, I heard great advice that helps me put this situation in perspective.  The speaker, Michael Neill (a life coach) said that there are two ways to use your mind.  One is to solve problems.  Your mind can go into the filing drawer of learned skills and accumulated information and help you out.  Two plus two equals four.  My brother’s name is Gabriel.  You go in, you ask the question, you pull out the answer.  I keep on trying to use this method on my career.  Guess what?  The answer is not in the drawers, no matter how many times I go back to try and figure it out.

The second way to use your mind is to access a deeper web of intelligence–sort of like surfing the internet for an answer.  This is intuition.  When you silence your mind and allow it to go into “internet search mode” it will come back with an answer from wisdom far greater than your conscious mind.  But you have to trust the process, otherwise your little mind will be too busy frantically searching in the file drawers to hear the response when it does arise from that deeper source.  This is not a passive process.  You have to ask the question.  You have to listen.  And most importantly, you have to trust.  I know this is how I am going to get my answer.  Man, does it require patience in the deepest sense of the word.

To give you an example of this second kind of  knowledge, here is a story about a famous Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh.  He was organizing the rescue of 800 Vietnamese refugees from small boats that lacked food or water off the coast of Singapore.  After his activities leaked to the press, the Singapore police arrived at his apartment, took his travel documents, and ordered him to leave within 24 hours. They would not allow his boats to leave the harbor to pick up boat people.  What did he do?  Did he immediately gather a council to debate the answer?  Did he freak out and start brainstorming possible solutions?  No.  He practiced walking meditation for the rest of the night.  Five minutes before he was going to be expelled, with his mind calm, he received the guidance to turn to the French embassy for assistance.  They intervened, and the boat people were saved.  Wow.  Kind of puts my job worries in perspective.

I am just really getting started on my journey of practicing patience.  It is important for me to focus on making sure I practice patience in the small ways, because those help prepare me for the bigger experiences.  So I will remember to check out the ocean and enjoy long conversations while I am waiting to get clarity on my career.  All in its own good time.

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remembering how to fly

i give you
every breath
stretched
into full exhale
but still you call
and my lungs
only go so far

i know this dream
this is the one
where i want to run but
am stuck, and
maddened by memories
of how it feels
to fly

until
exhausted
i no longer try

and just say yes
and yes again
and allow
my warm breath
to freely follow
your perfect rise and fall, rise
and fall, until my small orpheus-self
dissolves

and then
i effortlessly join you
in the land of the living

oh beauty
who can i love you to
if there is no one else
where can i go
when i have nowhere
to stand

tenderly–
you tell me
i must surrender
i must endlessly explode
pulse with the flame
that lights the candle
move with the wave
that pushes the sea

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A Spiritual Warrior Knows How to Surf

This past weekend, I chose to sit inside, meditating in silence for about six hours each day.  This experience is also known as Shambhala Buddhism Level Two training: Birth of the Warrior.  A pretty bad-ass title for two days of sitting in a room.

The last time I did a Shambhala retreat, I was in the midst of a big life experience (sudden knowledge that I had to leave a long-term relationship).  I had a giant, live, crazy, scary thing on my plate.  In one way, it was intense and hard.  In another way, when you have something so obvious to deal with, it is like meditating with crayons, or performing simple math.  The center of compassion is large and pretty easy to find.  Don’t blame him, don’t blame me, don’t move from this football field of pain.  Got it.   I knew exactly what I was giving in to.  Also, I was so immersed in grief that to some degree it was a relief to just sit there and feel it, to let it wash over me, to not even try and fight its sweet sadness.

This weekend was like meditating with watercolors.  No huge experiences . . . nothing major to get through.   Just some low-grade, run of the mill aimlessness and anxiety with no identifiable source.  Although these feelings were muted, they were impossible to ignore.   Every time I sat and breathed, and opened up to the moment, I would come up with:  Ugh.  I don’t want to be here.  why can’t I be doing something fantastic, like exploring the jungle in Bali (yes, despite my commitment to inner exploration instead of exotic vacations).  Or I would end up worrying about something small I said earlier that day.  Or I would just get bored.  In my body, I experienced a vague, jumpy restlessness.

So I did what I thought a good spiritual warrior was supposed to do.  I stared that shit down and tried to MAKE it fight me.  Instead of practicing touch-and-go (lightly touching a feeling/sensation on the in-breath, and then releasing the connection on the out-breath), I was doing confront-and-noisily-exhale.  Every time I breathed in and that mediocre blah-ness was still there, I was in its face like a disgruntled security guard tailing a suspected shoplifter.  “You can do whatever you want Low-Level Anxiety, but I’ve got my eye on you buddy.  Just don’t try any funny stuff.”  I somehow thought that by paying very tight close attention, I was being brave and acknowledging the reality of my suffering.

Obviously, this form of meditation is not super fun.  It started to dawn on me that my internal image of warriorship was way out of whack.  I had been imagining a stoic figure fearlessly, yet grimly, facing an uncomfortable moment.  I was determined to suck it up, go outside into the crappy now, and not even wear a coat.  But why so sad, Ms. Spiritual Warrior?  What if I could be present during uncomfortable feelings and have a good time?  What if the right warrior posture was more like a surfer riding a wave–loose, happy, and in flow with the constant movement of life?  (Or to reference another love of mine, fluid like a capoerista playing a really good game?)

So I relaxed and let myself off the hook.  I still paid attention to what was going on . . . to the feelings of anxiety, to my breath, to the opening and closing of my heart.  But the quality of my attention was easy and carefree.  And it was dynamic!  I realized that just because I was resting in awareness did not mean that I was stuck watching life because, guess what–life itself is never still.  So I allowed my consciousness to be gracefully lifted by each moment.  Instead of trying to challenge my anxiety, I just let it dissolve into a larger natural rhythm.  Instead of feeling like I was forced to sit there, I practiced joyful surrender to the ebb and flow of life. Someone who staffed that weekend later told me that Shambhala teachers often compare this quality of awareness to a beach ball floating on top of the sea.  Yes!  But it is also tender.  I gave my heart away with each breath.  I allowed myself to fall–deeply, warmly–and I was met.

So as I was feeling my way into this shift, I went to lunch (sidenote: where I had the best chorizo taco outside of Mexico City, props to Cacao Mexicatessan.)  Someone gave me a ride, and in her car I noticed an audiobook from Pema Chodron (a famous and wonderful Shambhala teacher).  And I started to crack up.  The title?  Hint: it was not “Standing Stock-Still and Staring the Shit Out of Pain.”  It was “Smiling Into Fear.”  Point taken.

After the retreat, I have continued to practice my Spiritual Surfing technique.  As I let my inner awareness freely flow, I can feel my own limited tight energy merge with a larger radiant movement.  It feels vital and charged.  Definitely the same amazing vibe that originally gave birth to the name threedeelife.  Then, as I was writing this post. I came across a perfect description for this energy from a recent Sharon Salzberg (vipassana Buddhist teacher) post on Kriss Carr’s blog:  “In Pali, the language of the original Buddhist texts, the term for the potent and alive energy of awareness is “tejos.” The word has several meanings.  It can mean heat, flame, fire, or light, and it conveys a sense of splendor and radiance and glory.  Tejos refers to a very bright energy, a strength, and a power that is luminous.”   How beautiful.  Like a flame,  the energy of life needs the right balance of attention and space to burn bright.   When you relax into that balanced awareness, you connect with the energy of the flame, of the moment, of the wave.

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