Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tantric Love Bomb

“Everybody wants to let go, but how do you let go if you don’t hold things, if you don’t touch things in full consciousness, with a totally open heart?  In Tantrism, the first thing is having the experience of touch, of profound contact with things, with the universe, without mental commotion.  Everything begins there: touching the universe deeply . . . In seeking to let go before taking hold, one doesn’t understand the profound dynamic of love, the fabulous power we all possess.  We are all like bombs ready to explode with love . . . Agreeing to touch the other is agreeing to make this bomb explode.”  – Devi, in “Tantric Quest” by Daniel Odier

This post offers the naked energy of my own being.  I touch my Self in your presence, so that both of our hearts can wake up.

Like dropping over a cliff, I let go of all questions, all defenses, all doubts.  There is no resistance.  A tingly rush sweeps through my body as I free-fall.

I EMBRACE this moment, exactly as it is.  I feel every part of my body say yes.  I invite the universe in to myself.  I shiver when I touch the ground of the present moment.  The wind is full.  My body is full.  The taste of my mouth is full.  The movement of my breath is full and complete.  I feel the fullness of me.  I ache with this fullness.

Let this very moment touch you too.  As the sunlight hits your face, let it penetrate your ribs, your stomach, your pelvis, your lips, your heart.  Let the emotion stirred by these words enter your heart, your body.  Let yourself grow warm.  Let your heart out from its cage, let its desire for connection sweep through you.

I ALLOW myself to be, exactly as I am.  I am complete.  My beauty–the fact that I EXIST–takes my breath away.  I possess a fabulous power.  I see myself, and I have no end.  There is nowhere to go with myself, nothing to do.  I burst into being.  I am here!

Unfurl yourself, and let yourself be vast.  Touch your own beauty.  Let the sensation of being alive electrocute you.  Feel your fierceness.  You are on fire.  Go deep, deep within the center of your own being, and find that you have no end too.  You are infinite.  You EXIST.

I OPEN to your gaze.  I let you see me.  I stand unadorned.  I allow myself to be magnificent.  I open my heart completely to you.

Allow me to see you.  Stay connected to the ground of your being as you meet my gaze.  We connect.  You are noble, and utterly powerful.  Your sheer gorgeousness breaks my heart.

How deeply can you let yourself be touched?  How much can you stand?  Can you admit how beautiful you are? Even if you close up the next moment, for just this moment right now can you let the Universe in?  Let me in?

Let your longing take over, even if it starts out as no more than a half-remembered ecstasy.  Give yourself permission to feel.  Let it grow, become unbearable.  Connect with that constant, underlying ache to fully open to life, and allow it to rip through you.  That longing IS your own power . .  . the bomb ticking.  Open to it.  It is who you are.

For just a second, allow yourself to explode.

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A Full Experience of Helplessness

“The only way to ease our pain is to experience it fully. Learn to stay with uneasiness, learn to stay with the tightening, so that the habitual chain reaction doesn’t continue to rule your life.” –Pema Chodron

I love discovering spiritual principles at work in the world around me.  They are unexpected and surprising, yet perfectly formed.  Like a nautilus shell, or a starfish.

Recently, I have discovered the beautiful symmetry of helplessness.

I have always hated feeling helpless.  So I make sure I am not helpless.  I am the one flagging the waiter down to get the check, making an extra call to double-check that there is really no availability, finding a way, someway somehow.  Useful, yes.  Rewarded, often.  And also, a way to escape the feeling of helplessness itself: a refusal to admit that nothing can be done, that I lost, that I am vulnerable, that I can be hurt.

In my last relationship, I often struggled with feeling helpless.  The person I was with at times chose not to listen to me, or could not hear me.  And so . . . I talked calmly, I talked loudly, I argued rationally, I made emotional pleas, I threatened, I begged.  And maybe, eventually, I got my way.  Until it all fell down and the cycle started again.  Rather than truly own up to this cycle and my part in it, I simply insisted all over again that this person would hear me.  Rather than admit that this person could not meet me, I worked hard to hold up their end of the relationship for them.  Until one day life gave me the gift of making the dysfunction so bad I could not ignore it any longer, and I paid life back by paying attention.  And so I left.

Right now, I am in the final stages of ending this relationship, wrapping up loose ends.  And this person is still repeating the same patterns of broken promises.  And I–the new, strong me, who left–what do I do?  I feel helpless.  So  I leap right into my part: “He can’t do this to me,” or “I will figure out a way to get him to listen.”  The same broken record, stuck in the same broken groove.

But this time I catch myself.  Okay: I took the big step of ending the relationship, but I find myself back here again.  What do I still need to learn?  The answer arises naturally: the very thing I am struggling with IS the answer to my question.  I am back here so I can FEEL what helpless feels like.

The more I resist feeling a certain way, the more likely it is that I will “find” myself in situations that cause that emotion to arise.   To break the cycle, I need to surrender and let myself feel.    

I am trying to wake myself up, and my feelings are my alarm clock.  

Okay.  What does it feel like to experience helplessness?  The very first thing I become aware of is how much effort I have been putting into avoiding this feeling.  I was approaching life with a big sign that says “YOU CAN’T HURT ME.”

I surrender– I take down the sign.  Life can hurt!  It is life!  And people disappoint you and accidents happen and sometimes you lose.   Surprisingly, this admission feels like cool relief.  It feels sweet to be human.  It feels sweet to be capable of being hurt.  This IS life.  I can feel life touching me, because I am not trying to hold it at a distance.

Emotions are like a knot that only tightens the more I pull against it, and then as I relax it slips free.

I let the messy, vibrant energy of LIFE sweep into this vulnerable place I have been trying so hard to protect.  My heart relaxes as I release my grip.  And as I relax, light and space and movement rush in and blow away the last shred of my resistance.

And I laugh because I suddenly understand why I have been trying so hard to not let down my guard.  I thought that if I experienced pain, if I “lost,” if a situation got messy . . . that it was my fault.  More than my fault: it meant I was not good enough to get it right.   I have compassion for the part of me that believed this.   I send love to myself, and gently let go of this belief.   Encountering obstacles does not mean I am a failure.  It is just part of being human.

Opening wide to the uncomfortable experience lets it become just that: an experience–a bird flapping through my sky.  I can experience it without identifying with it, without confusing it with who I a fundamentally am. 

Having reconnected with my own basic worthiness, I regain my true power.  Deep, full, expansive breath.   Suddenly, I have many choices before me.  YES I have the power to enter into this situation holding the highest intentions for both me and him.  YES I have the power to protect and honor my own needs–or, to give up the fight if that ultimately brings me greater peace and joy.  YES I have the power to forgive him.  YES I have the power to refuse to get drawn into a negative cycle.

Ultimately, I replace the illusion of control I tried so hard to maintain with a much more profound power.  Although I can not stop painful experiences from arising in my life, I always have the choice to meet them with love and integrity.

So what does all this mean?  Externally, nothing has changed.  I still have a tough situation on my plate.  But now I accept that it may not turn out perfectly–and that is okay.   I am no longer struggling with myself.

The symmetry is complete:  by experiencing ‘helplessness’  fully, I can let it go.

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How to Have Difficult Conversations

“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
-Albert Einstein

“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.”  -Lao Tzu

Familiar Scenario #1: You pore your heart out on the phone to a friend about someone who is causing you pain.  You really want to heal the difficult situation, but you have no idea how to communicate these difficult feelings to the person that is actually involved.   So you ignore the situation, and pretend that nothing is wrong (even though part of you knows you are not being real or authentic about how you feel).  [Note:  Or, just start at the word “Ignore.”]

Familiar Scenario #2: Ditto heart-to-heart with close friend.  But this time you decide that you will not be stopped!  You march over to the other person, tell them exactly. how. you feel.   And what they did to make you feel this way.  This confrontation freaks them out enough that they now avoid you.

How do you tell someone when they have caused you anger or pain . . . and be heard?

This is a tough question that can take strength to even ask.  Ultimately, it comes down to a simple question.  Either you are coming from a place of truth and love–for yourself and the other person, or you are not.  If you are not, Familiar Scenarios One and Two are the common results.  You do not honor yourself.  Or you do not honor the other person.

So how do you honor both?

To have an authentic conversation with someone about a difficult topic,  stand strong in your light and lovingly speak your truth. 

But wait you say!  How can I possibly do that when the other person is NOT operating from a place of love?  The other person is completely contracted and acting in a crappy, selfish, judgmental way.  Okay.  Fine.  Now let it go.  Stop worrying about what they did to you.  Stop worrying about whether or not they can hear you.

The first step is to realize this is really not about them.  This is about you.  This is about you getting strong enough to hold a loving, open space so you can speak from your heart to people who you think can’t hear you.  

So how do you begin….

First, listen to your mind and the stories you are telling yourself about why they did what they did.  Recognize that they are just that.  Stories.  Those stories tell a lot more about your own unexamined crap and fears and hurts than they actually tell you about the other person.  They are often called projections.  Whatever name you use, see that they are not truth.  Ultimately, the other person’s motivations are a black box.  You have no idea why the other person is acting the way they are.

One way to shake yourself loose of your projections is to try and come up with different stories about why the other person is acting a certain way.  Try and see if you can find a nice story about why that person was mean to you (they had a difficult day themselves).  Then find a story that makes you angry (they are jerks used to getting their way).   Play around with it.  After a while, you can see that while your own fears may draw you to one story, you actually do not know which one is true.

Second, as you recognize your stories are actually about YOU not THEM, you free up energy that you were using to try and figure out the other person.  Stop running those mental loops trying to figure them out.  You can’t. 

Now reclaim that energy and refocus in your own body.  (Literally, this is taking energy you were putting out there and bringing it back here, and now.)  Welcome back.  How do YOU FEEL in your BODY?

Try getting down to the level of body sensations.  Tingly?  Hard to breath?  Weak?  Strong urge to hide?  Chances are you have been running around telling yourself stories precisely as a way to avoid feeling these feelings.. to avoid feeling hurt and weak.

But this is exactly what you need to do.  You need to own your feelings.  You need to be a soft, real, human capable of being hurt.  Do not judge whatever comes up.  Instead, love these emotions.  Be there for them. Give them your attention and compassion.  Let them be.

As you do this, you can feel yourself relax.  Breath.  Expand.  Let those walls come down.

As you relax back into your body and accept whatever is coming up, you naturally reconnect with your light (you might literally feel lighter).  If you already have a sense of being grounded and spiritually connected, then you will know what it feels like to be present and radiating light.

If this sounds totally abstract and confusing, then just ask yourself: “Even if I feel sad/angry/hurt/frustrated right now, do I feel generally at peace with myself?  Can I offer love to someone else?  Can I even, maybe, laugh?”  These questions are a good way to gauge if you are connected to your own power.

Third, as you reconnect with your own physical body and spiritual light, you can turn your attention back to the other person.  Now you have enough strength to open your heart to them. 

Wow!  All of a sudden they are not so scary/mean/bad anymore, are they?  Maybe they are just another human soul, trying to do the best that they can.  Just like you.

Focus on loving them for who they are, no matter what issues may separate the two of you.  Phew, that feels good.  No need to go on the attack.  Maybe, you can even start to see some ways in which the other person might have been acting out of fear or hurt that you caused them (oooo! own that!), and have compassion for that.

Sit with this love for a while.  You may have to go through this process a number of times, as new stories pop up that you need to work through and release.

You are now in a tender and open space.  You feel your feelings, you are connected to your body and light, and you have compassion for the other person.  Now you are ready to talk. 

This is the tough part.  Because now you need to remain firm in your truth and light and love while you are talking face to face with this person who triggers these difficult feelings in you.  I find that visualizations can really help you get through this.  Imagine that you are physically enclosed in golden light.  Imagine that your heart is actually opening to the other person and sending them love.  Imagine the other person’s face as soft and open and loving.  Whatever it takes to keep your feet firmly planted in YOUR light and your heart OPEN.

In terms of timing–no need to force it.  Obviously, you need to set up some time in a quiet environment to speak with them alone, but allow the moment to speak to arise naturally, when you feel comfortable and open to share.

As you speak, all the work that you did beforehand should affect the manner in which you speak and the energy you emit.  Speak slowly.  Speak simply.  Speak honestly.  Speak from your heart.  And most importantly, remember to listen to what the other person shares with you.   Be open to RECEIVE their energy and words . . . do not get caught up in getting your message across.  Because what you are really looking for, more than anything else, is an exchange.  To be seen and heard by each other.

Also, it is okay if you feel fear or anger or other tough emotions.  Let yourself feel them, but do not fall into them.  Let them pass through you.  Do not let them knock you off center.  Stay connected to your light.

In terms of content–in plain but vivid language, communicate how you feel.  Remember not to mistake your stories for the truth.   You can share your stories, but communicate them as your fears (“I was afraid that maybe you were avoiding me because of X.”)  If you make it about what you are feeling, not what the other person did, even sharing difficult emotions (hurt, anger, fear) can be non-threatening.  Be surprisingly vulnerable.  Offer insights into ways that you might have harmed the other.

Finally, remember you do not need to have answers.  Maybe you do not know exactly how you are feeling, or are feeling two contradicting things.  Maybe you do not know what the next step should be.  Share that.  Wherever you are at, let that be enough.  You are just a real person, trying to connect.

Ultimately, what you are looking to do is to be so open and free and authentic that the other person is naturally drawn to  responding in the same manner. 

If you are really operating from your heart, most people (unless they are really closed) will naturally raise their own level of energy to meet yours.  Because they feel safe and recognize that you are coming from an honest place, and do not want anything except to have a true exchange.   But if they don’t meet you, you have to accept that too.  You will be able to see clearly that it is about them, not about you.  You have honored yourself, and that is enough.

It feels good to write this.  Slowly, I am learning to practice a new way of communicating.  It is a gorgeous feeling to know that I can remain open and loving even in the face of some things that really scare me or hurt me.   It feels like a victory to take a stand for a better way of being, rather than give in to fear and pettiness.   And it brings me peace  to realize that I can bring that open and loving energy to a difficult exchange with someone else.

Practicing love and honesty is not idealistic.  It just takes a commitment to being open, rather than closed.  And there is a domino effect.  Every person who commits to authenticity can help raise another person up, and let them see there is another way to relate. 

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A Beautiful Experience of Community

Phew.  A lot has happened since the last time I posted.  Two weekends ago, I went to a Tantra retreat.   When I say Tantra to people, a lot of times I can feel them get weird, like they assume that there is some sort of crazy, wild orgy thing going on.  Tantra is not about sex, although it does not exclude sex.  It is not focused on it, and does not treat it lightly.  If anything, my experience with Tantra is teaching me to have much more respect and awe for sexual energy, and to honor its power.

But really, Tantra is about opening to life.  It is about fully embracing this human experience as a spiritual path.

This weekend, there were about 20 people in a house in Malibu on retreat.  What happens on a Tantra retreat?  There were many levels to the practice.  There was energy work–chakra breathing, chanting, both alone and with a partner.  There were fun, playful, simple practices like: do something nourishing with your partner.  What seems simple can turn into something deeply meaningful, food for the soul.  There  were group practices with the women and men apart.  There was dancing  And, very importantly, there was the circling practice, where we all sit around and talk about whatever–big, small, mundane, profound–we are going through in a safe space.  You can say anything and it is okay.

All of this work happens in an energetic and physical container–a place outside of our normal patterns, with the strength and safety to allow us to explore and grow.  As we did all this work inside this container,  slowly but surely, we all came out of our shells.   We left behind that thick cocoon of ego/fear/habit/striving/craving/posturing/politeness that normally hides us from each other and from life, and stepped naked and vulnerable out into the space of the group.

And in that naked vulnerable space, we were more available to give and receive love than I have. ever. felt.  We cheered for each other.  We cried for each other.  We told each other when we scared each other, or when we made each other mad.  We listened to whatever the other had to say.  We were silly and playful with each other.  And finally, we celebrated each other.

There was so much energy and love going around that I just yelled at the sky, skipped down the road, cried and laughed at the same time.  I feel a very soft and vulnerable side of myself emerge.  It felt safe to be beautiful, and tender, and sweet.  It felt safe, and right, to tell people I loved them.  It felt safe, and right, to be loved.  Everyone just seemed to fragile and sweet, and strong at the same time.  Myself included.

I wish I could pull every person in my life that I care about into that space, so I could directly interact with their heart free of all of the crap that usually keeps us apart.  I feel a deep longing for that sort of deep and authentic connection on a regular basis.  I want to touch the sweet part of everyone that longs for the same thing.  Not to solve or fix anything, but just to see each other as we really are.

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