Monthly Archives: June 2012

Honor Your Power

Recently, someone who I went through a very difficult time with last year–breaking my trust–asked me, in all sincerity:  “Did I hurt you?”

The question struck me by surprise.  It was asked honestly.  But the answer was so obviously “Yes” that the question was strange.  I couldn’t figure it out.  How could this person not realize that they had an impact on me?

I sat with this, and realized that the reason for their question was that they had no faith in their ability to affect other people.  They were completely disconnected from their own power.  Because of that, they could not perceive when they hurt people.  And unfortunately, it also meant that they could not fathom the many ways in which they could positively affect other people’s lives.

This was an extreme case, but most of us–myself included–can forget how powerful we are.  To bring awareness to your own power, pay attention to your interactions with others.  Recognize the ways you can affect other people–big and small, positive and negative.  Be honest. 

For example, this morning in my boot camp exercise class, I was paired with a girl who was there for the first time.  I told her at the beginning of the class that she should look to the group in front of us to learn what the next exercise in the series was going to be.  But instead of paying attention, she kept on asking me to tell her.  I could feel myself withdraw and grow frustrated.  I was not as helpful as I could have been.  As a result, I could tell that she did not feel as supported in the class as she could have been, and maybe felt a bit lost.  On reflection, I realize that if I had more compassion for her, she could have had a more positive experience.  In turn, I would have felt less irritable, happy that I was helping someone.

The point here is not to judge myself for being out of sorts in the class.  The point is to recognize that I had the power to make a difference in this girl’s experience.  Because I lacked this awareness during the class, I missed an opportunity for connection and support.  Practicing this awareness (even after the fact) makes me realize that there are chances all around me to be a source of light and comfort to others.  Realizing the power I have to make a difference, I want to make more of an effort!

It is also important to be aware of and rejoice in those moments when we DO come out of our shells and positively affect people.  Even our small acts can truly lift someone else’s spirit–providing them with love, encouragement, and inspiration.  One simple example is when we make the effort to feed someone’s spirit with a smile.

I recently had a fun reminder of my own power to uplift!  As I have been blogging, I have made some great friends in the blogging world.  We read each other’s posts and support one another.  One blogger, Nicole Cody, at Cauldrons and Cupcakes, (a delicious blog about cooking, writing, and psychic adventures!) posted a very captivating story last week about a psychic reading that she did, where she discovered that a wife was poisoning her husband.  Not only was this an amazing story, but she told it beautifully, in clear and captivating prose.  I was immediately reminded of how I felt when I was a little girl, reading books from my favorite fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones.  I mentioned this in a comment, and suggested that Nicole could write a fantastic young adult psychic novel.  So . . . one of Nicole’s latest posts is about how, after reading my comment, she plans to do exactly that!  It is a thrill to realize how Diana (in England), influenced me (in the States), leading me to influence Nicole (in Australia), who is now on her way to writing a book that will reach children around the world.  What a beautiful web!

All of us have the ability to impact others.  It does not matter where you come from, what your social or economic status might be, or what talents you possess.  When you share yourself with others, you become part of the incredible flow of life.  Honor your power, and use it to uplift others.  

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Do You Know Yourself?

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.”  –Albert Einstein

Do you know yourself?  Most of us would say yes.

What do you mean?

Do you mean that you know your habits and preferences?  That you like ice cream, and hate to floss?

Or do you mean that you know your strengths and weaknesses?  You are a kind person who has a difficult time being patient?

Maybe you mean that you know yourself in terms of your relationships with other people?  You are a sister, brother, friend, lawyer, of this age, in this place?

It is true–our particular combination of habits, preferences, qualities, and relationships can be beautiful and rich.  

I love and appreciate these unique qualities in myself and others.

The way that my good friend stopped eating meat a young age because she cared so deeply about animals suffering.  The way that my other friend has a ridiculously deep barrel laugh.  The way that my other friend always has something funny and sarcastic to say.  And my own particular qualities . . . how I am a bookworm.  How much I love dancing.  How it feels to be a friend, daughter, sister, woman.  These particular qualities can be an integral part of who we are.

But I also wonder–are we more than just lists, habit, relationships? 

What is the deeper essence of ourselves that these things reflect?  

Think about those moments when you are going along in the normal stream of life, and you catch a gap where the normalcy of everything suddenly goes out like the tide.  One minute you are pumping gas, thinking about work, and the next minute you think:  “What am I doing?  Who am I?”

It can be a bit disconcerting!  We tend to paper over those moments, shake it off, dive back into our lives.

Whew, that was strange, got a bit spacey for a minute, what was I thinking about, oh yes.  Gas, work, gym, dinner.  Mmmm… maybe some coffee…would love to read a nice book.  Before we get too freaked out, we are plugged back into our routine.   Ah, the familiar.

What if we didn’t run away from those moments when we lose our points of self-reference?  What if we embraced the idea that none of our self-definitions can even come close to capturing the full, direct experience of what it means to be alive?

A lot of wonderful things happen when we let go of the idea that we know ourselves . . .

There are so many more possibilities when you do not know who you are.

There is so much less to defend when you admit that you have no clue.

You travel much more lightly when you walk through life with an open mind.

Instead of trying to constantly match your actions to a static self-image, you can relax and just ACT.   Surprise the hell out of yourself!

And in the space that we create by dropping all of our preconceived notions about who we are, we create a void, a space . . .

. . . a space for mystery

. . . a space for new possibilities

. . . a space for Grace

. . . a space to truly get to know who we are, not as we imagine ourselves to be.

Hello, I have no idea what I am doing or who I am.  What about you?  

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What Does it Mean to Live a Spiritual Life?

We don’t have to concoct or contrive or conceptualize a “spiritual” life.  The life process is Self-recognition, and it is already underway in  its myriad manifestations.  Our purpose is non-different from this world process of Self-recognition.  The only question is, are we going to move with the life process or fight against it until we die of exhaustion.  — Pilgrims to Openness: Direct Realization Tantra in Everyday Life, Shambhavi Sarasvati

Sometimes, our lives are full of vivid meaning and awakenings and new understandings.  When we go through big, obvious changes, it can be easy to connect with our spirituality.  We feel life moving through us.  We feel our hearts widen.  There is a lot of power in times of transition and growth.

And sometimes, life just quietly powers along in a series of small pleasures and disappointments.  We do not sense anything moving.  We are just living our days.  In those moments, our spiritual path might become unclear.  What comes next?  How do we continue to connect with our spirituality?

In those moments, we might take action.  There is an endless parade of spiritual books and tapes and events designed to help us on our path.  We search for a spiritual project to work on.  Some issue to heal, some prayer to say, some transformation to undergo.  When we feel things moving again, we feel better.  We are on our way!

Effort can be wonderful.  It can even be necessary.

But what if we stay with “not knowing”?  What if drop the idea that we know what our spiritual path looks like?

There is a beauty in admitting that we do not know, of letting go of our affirmations and positive thoughts and things to improve.  It returns us to humbleness.  It can also be a relief, a healing rest.

When I relax into not-knowing, life tastes fresh and full of possibility.  It is so much larger than me!  I also feel a sense of playfulness and joy.  There is nothing to fix or improve.   There is no lesson to be learned.  I do not need to be involved in any story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  All I need is to open my heart to my own deep longing for connection.

As I write these words, I am reminded of people who have asked me: so, what does it mean to live a spiritual life?  The answer is that I have no idea.  Sometimes it appears big and dramatic and awe-inspiring.  Sometimes it is so basic and good, just about people becoming more themselves.  Sometimes it is rigorous, and demands particular shifts and growth.  Sometimes it is about freely expressing love and gratitude, without any particular thing to achieve.   And often, it is about forgetting all of these concepts, and just laying your heart bare to whatever unfolds.

To me, the only thing spirituality really means is that you acknowledge a call to meet yourself more deeply.  Sometimes the call is loud, sometimes it is soft.  You do not know where it will take you or what it will ask of you.  And that is okay.  Just keep hearing the call, and follow it wherever it takes you.

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i took today as my lover
when i woke up
it was in bed with me,
warm from a good sleep
patiently waiting
for me
to open my eyes.
today i am alive
today i am soft
today i am vibrant
Today
i surrender to you
in an animal stretch
i let the thrill
of your promise
run through me
like a soft kiss planted
on the back of my neck
like a gentle invitation
to take your hand
and allow you
to show me the world

waking up

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Relaxing into the Rush of Daily Life

The past month has swept me away in a rush of things to do.  Early rising straight to the gym, long commute, lots of work, writing an article searching for a new job, finding a new job, weddings, bachelorette parties, dinners with friends.

On the surface, there is a lot of activity, but underneath I feel a bit stuck in the eddies of everyday life.  I want a spark.  I long for a transformative experience to touch me deeply.  I want an AHA!  Or an Ahhhh . . .

Part of this intuition is probably right–I need to create some more space for me to connect with my higher self in the midst of all this running around.  Some breathing room for my inner voice to come through.  Some down-time to set my intentions and delve into my creativity.

AND there is also another lesson I am learning here, and one that this blog is all about.  It is about not needing to escape every day life to feel connected to a higher sense of purpose.  It is about opening up to this deeper connectedness by fully meeting the rough and tumble of daily life.

Viewed from this perspective, the way out is through.   In addition to creating “time out” from life, I am also being called to embrace the messy mad rush of life more deeply.  I am being challenged to let go of my ideas about what feels spiritual and connected, and find new and different ways to open my heart.  Instead of rejecting whatever is in front of me, I am being asked to live it more fully.

My Tantra teacher, Charu Morgan, refers to this continual process of accepting whatever is rising up in life as “softening into” our experience.  When we feel something uncomfortable, we tend to harden against it.  We resist.  When we resist, we fight life.  When we soften, we let life have its way.  We let life move through us.  We let life touch us.

Writing this post is an acknowledgment of where I am at right now, and a way for me to embrace and soften into it.  By naming and owning up to my current level of consciousness, I am bringing this pattern into the light.   I am also helping myself honor and understand that being in touch with the spiritual side of life does not mean I have to be in a super-fired up state all the time.

Actually, the more I hold on to a rigid concept of what my spiritual path “should” look like, the further away I get from what life is offering me right now.  The mundane experiences of life are a great chance to wake up, to get out of my head about what things should be like, and experience them as they actually are–which is way beyond anything I could imagine.  That about sums up the point of Buddhist meditation in many respects.

As I write this, as I acknowledge and soften into my discomfort, I also feel another layer of truth coming through.  The truth is that there is a purpose and spirit and divinity moving through life, even when it is not hitting me over the head.  I am relaxing into faith and gratitude.

Where are you right now?  How are you feeling?  Is there some sensation, some intuition tickling the back of your mind that you can acknowledge, feel, and soften into?  When you relax into it, what new insights come to you?

Love and blessings for your journeys,

N

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