Tag Archives: Forgiveness

dusk

this is the middle of the hero’s tale
the long walk through the desert
where there is no triumph
just windmills
and a forced forgetfulness
that only gradually fades
like a hot day cooling
into the soft down of forgiveness

in the broad view,
the one she likes to take
there is nothing to escape
its all just a small part of the endless
chasing and loving and running
around in circles
broken hearts littering
the ground
in messy webs of desire
an interlacing of he loves her loves him

but then her mind slips away
and there it is again,
the close-up,
the dredged memory
of his arms
stuck at his sides
as she pressed her lips
over his dead ones

she read somewhere
that you should breath
in the pain–not just hers,
but all who had suffered similar fates
a deep inhale of united hurt

she tries it
and finds a balance
in the up and down
of her rising chest
her answer
no more
and no less
than each next breath

at some point
the sun drops low enough
that she can look up into the sky
and see the stars winking

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The Truth Will Set You Free

“The minute you withhold in a relationship, it starts to deteriorate.”  -Nicole Daedone
“We use om so we can burn off the illusion of scarcity, so you can admit you’re already full.   And not just full, but *stuffed* with abundance!  Our life is a gift to start with!”  –  Nicole Daedone

I just finished a rollercoaster of a ride. I started working with a holistic personal trainer a couple of months ago. He worked with fitness and nutrition, as well as the underlying patterns showing up in your life. I felt attracted to him from the very beginning, and the work we were doing went very deep so I was emotionally very open.

For the first part of the ride, I thought he felt the same way. It was hot. And then the rollercoaster went down, and I realized what I had been interpreting as mutual flirtation was just friendly openness and support. (Or at least, he was not consciously on the same page as me.) And my attraction to him became ugly and resentful, and I felt ashamed and embarrassed about my own desire.

So then I tried to pretend that my feelings didn’t exist. That I could will myself into letting go. I told myself I was being strong and mature and level-headed. Surprisingly, this didn’t work.  I was still secretly desiring his attention and trying to manipulate him into giving it to me. Meanwhile, I was resisting the training and growing frustrated.

Finally, this week I decided I wanted off the ride. I chose truth. I ended the training. I confessed to him that I had been attracted to him and that I wanted trust and surrender, but just not in the form of motivational speeches and diet plans. He thanked me for my honesty and vulnerability. There was a full silence, and sense of resolution and clearing. I said goodbye. I felt good. I thought that was it.

And then a day later, the final piece came through. I realized that I had actually been getting the love I wanted from him this whole time, it just didn’t look like the way I thought it should. I had been subconsciously refusing it out of a limiting belief that it wasn’t enough . . . I wasn’t enough . . . I needed more. As I let go of my attachments and stories and spoke the truth, my expectations melted, and I could appreciate this support fully. This sense of being loved gained in power and intensity, and it felt full and meaningful in its own right. I felt grateful. So my final communication to him was to let him know that his energy and caring were received. Now I feel this clean flowing of energy and peace. The ride is over, but the learning and blossoming go on.

—————-

Epilogue:  I frequently find that as a learn a new life lesson, teachings pour in that confirm and solidify my insight.  This is what happened here.  Shortly after reaching this insight, someone shared with me the following “Three Levels of Truth” structure which they based on teachings from the amazing Nicole Daedone (founder of OneTaste).

  • The truth about circumstances: who, what, when, how.
  • The truth about your internal self – the emotional reactions and feelings, the hurts and the joys, the resentments – that allows others to see you.  This kind of truth sets you free, though it might hurt other people.
  • Then there is what seems to be the deepest level of truth – the one that sets the other person free.  At this level, it’s not about what you want for yourself but about their freedom – their freedom to be who they are at their best, to live out their purpose.  It’s a place where your attachment to them is secondary to their freedom, and it might mean that you won’t get what you want from them in the short term.  Although of course, this is the only level where you yourself are truly free.  When you’re playing at this deep level, this is pure love.
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Learning About Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

NVC images

Have you heard of Non-Violent Communication before? If you have, you probably think about it as a way to communicate effectively with other people. That is true.  And to my mind, much more importantly, it is also a very practical teaching about the nature of violence itself.

When most of us think of violence, we think of fighting, wars, yelling.  The key book on NVC, by Marshall Rosenberg, starts out by asking us to expand our idea of what it is to be violent.  In fact, the foreword was written by Ghandi’s grandson.  Ghandi asked his grandson to keep track of all of the “violent” things that happened over the course of a week or so.  He asked him to track not just physical violence, but what he called “passive violence” as well.  Passive violence were those mundane acts that generated anger in the other person, which of course is the root of physical acts of aggression.  Before long, the grandson began to see how violence was everywhere around him, all the time.

What is passive violence?  This is where the book takes another eye-opening turn.  Passive violence is basically our subtle desire to control other people.  The desire to control may come from care (I want my dad to stop smoking), insecurity (I just want him to appreciate me), or any one of the other hundreds of reasons.  The basic formula is always the same:  I need you to do X so I can stop suffering.   When we think people hold the key to our happiness, then we don’t fully grant them the freedom to act.  That is violence–not yelling, or threats.  Violence is the subtle and pervasive desire to manipulate others so that we can be happy.

So how do we move away from this violent approach to life?  By understanding one single truth: no one else is responsible for how you feel.  You are 100% responsible for your own feelings and needs. 

Some of you might think that this sounds like some hippy shit.  You might think: wait a second, others do cause me to feel things.  When my boss yells at me, I feel bad.  When my friend calls me, I feel good.  When someone steals my parking spot, they are a dick and caused me to be angry.  Are you telling me to be a doormat so that the world can be a more peaceful place?  No way!  Other people need to be accountable for their actions!

NVC is not a bunch of hippy shit.  It is simply (and radically) asking you to understand your feelings in a totally different way.

Usually, we think EXTERNAL ACT — REACTION/FEELING.  NVC teaches us that things actually work like this: EXTERNAL ACT— TRIGGER BASED ON INTERNAL NEED— REACTION/FEELING.    What does this mean?  It means that external acts are neutral.  They do not “cause” your feelings–they trigger your feelings based on your internal needs.  Your boss yelling at you makes you feel bad because you have a need for approval and love in the workplace.  Another person who didn’t have those same needs might not be bothered at all by their boss’ aggressive behavior.  Someone stealing your parking spot pissed you off because you have a need to feel like you live in a world of nice people, or because you need to feel like you are “winning” at the game of life.   The external act has no inherent impact without your own triggers (although, because many of us have similar triggers, it will produce similar reactions in many people).  It is like how people and dogs are with chocolate.  What is delicious for people is poison to dogs.  The chocolate itself is neutral.

Once you truly accept that NO ONE else causes your feelings (for most of us, a life-long task), you naturally begin to approach interactions with others from a non-aggressive place.  The rest is just technique and practice. 

But there is an even better way to say this, which leads me into the second awesome part about NVC.  Because no one else is responsible for how you feel…

You can choose how you react to situations, rather than be at the mercy of others.   You don’t have to fight anyone to be happy (other than yourself, of course).  You discover true power.

 

Not only does your emotional center of balance change, but you can take care of yourself much more effectively.  Actually, I think this is the true definition of growing up–you learn to provide for yourself, instead of asking (demanding) that others take care of our needs.  If we have a need for peace and cooperation, it is your job to connect with that need and meet it.  And of course, the best way to take care of a need is to GIVE (to yourself, to others) what you were initially seeking to get from outside.  Now you can start living from a place of thinking about what you DO want (connection, love, respect), rather than what you don’t (e.g., I want this person to stop hurting me).  The thing you were so desperately fighting the other person to give you is always available to you . . . if you are willing to let it in.

So what about the practical situation at hand with the other person?   Do we just walk away?  Not necessarily.   Once you understand your feelings and needs, you may choose to communicate them to the other person (using a whole system of communication that is taught in the book).  And they may choose to modify their behavior, or not.  And if they don’t, you have the choice to continue the relationship, or not.  But you respect and honor their decision no matter what.  NVC does not promise solutions, but it does promise that you will stop exhausting yourself mistakenly trying to get someone else to change so that you can be happy.

NVC EXERCISE 
(this is not all talk…put this into action and see how it feels!)

First, think of a difficult situation with another person (or practice this while in the midst of a difficult situation!).  Choose a judgment sentence about the other person.  For example, “This person is selfish and only thinks about his or herself.”)

Next, run this sentence over and over in your mind for about 20 seconds.  Notice what happens in your body.  Do you feel tired?  Does your breath go shallow?  Do you feel tight?

Now, re-frame this feeling in terms of what you DO want rather than what you DON’T.  Ask yourself, what is it that I really want right now?  What would I like to receive that would make me feel better (keep it general)?  In the example above, you might recognize that you really want to feel special and loved.
Now, express that need in the following positive way: “Wow, I really love it when ____(I feel special and loved)_____.”  Run it over and over for about 20 seconds.  How does your body feel now?  It might feel bright, energized, refreshed, or open.
Now say to yourself “I AM special and loved.”  Take 20 seconds to run this affirmation over and over, and connect with the energy of feeling special and loved.  You are essentially feeding yourself.   The feeling of being special and loved is ALWAYS there and ALWAYS accessible to you . . . even if it is difficult to find sometimes.
Now that you have fed yourself, turn your attention back to the other person.  Has your perception of them changed?  Has the things you want to say to them changed?  Do you feel softer?  Imagine how different it would be to have a conversation from this positive place, rather than from the typical tense, blaming place you started from?
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Brutal Beautiful Honesty

Run away from me, baby, run away
Run away from me, baby, run away
It’s about to get crazy, why can’t she just, run away?
Baby, I got a plan, run away fast as you can
Kanye West, Runaway

‎As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion for others –what and whom we can work with, and how — becomes wider.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

Today I did four really difficult things.

I let myself see and acknowledge that I had been acting selfishly, and that I was not being who I want to be.  

I forgave myself.   

I admitted to the person involved that I was acting selfishly.  

I expressed a deep and unconditional love for that person. 

Right now, I feel at peace and also very vulnerable.   In retrospect, it amazes me how I managed to avoid seeing how I was acting before.  There is so much about ourselves that we don’t want to admit because we are not ready yet to grow.

Or maybe it is not that crazy.  Until we are ready to face up to ourselves, there are many ways to avoid inner honesty.  Maybe some of these sound familiar to you.  You can project your problems onto the other person (“If only they would . . . “)  You can fall into self-pity (“I am a bad person.”)  You can lie to yourself about who you are and your motivations.  (“I am the nice person.”)  You can pretend that you do not know what you are doing.  (“Why does this always happen to me.”)  You can stay shallow and cut your feelings and intuition short with distractions.  (Friends, TV, alcohol, books, gym, rinse, repeat.)

I have done many of these things.  And I am sure that I will do them again in my life.  But gradually, I am learning to practice honesty.  I am committing to watching myself and how I act.  I am trying to communicate with people in a genuine fashion, and owning up to things I do.

Being honest does not mean that I have any idea what to do about my imperfections.  Real honesty goes beyond a one-time, “I am sorry that will never happen again,” type thing.  It means that I am willing to dig deep and admit my deepest motivations and engrained patterns, the stuff I really do not want anyone to see.  Sometimes there are no solutions to being human.

That’s why I love Kanye’s song Runaway . . . it is so brutally candid.  He offers himself as he is.  He gets it, he sees himself, and he is willing to own up to it.  He has no answers.

But the funny thing is that at the end of the song, after he admits to being a workaholic asshole who is afraid of intimacy, he naturally shifts into a different place.  He is finally able to admit to this girl that he is singing to that he does not know what he will do without her if she leaves.  When he lets himself be vulnerable and real about who he is, he can open his heart to love.  I always feel closer to him as an artist and person after I listen to that song.

I felt that opening today too.  Once I cleared the way by owning up to my actions, and forgiving myself, I felt this deep love well up and pour out of me.  It was really beautiful to feel and express.  I am learning that true intimacy–with family, friends, lovers–requires owning up, again and again, to who we are, and letting that be okay.

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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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Wisdom From a Bartender

I have had a great week so far.   Major highlights: new friends, local dinner parties, and of course, attending the Watch the Throne Tour.  Nothing gets me excited and alive like dancing to some music that goes HAM.   And yes, musings about dance parties belong on this blog.  As do poems about walking home at night.  This is all about finding the light in the daily.

But I want to bring it back a bit to my post about Letting Go.  When I wrote that post I was in a local restaurant/bar down the street from my house called Fishbar.   While I was there, the bartender asked me what I was writing about.   Now, not only was this guy a bartender, he also had a striking resemblance to Paul Bunyon.  Full facial beard, stalwart disposition, tall, strapping.  So I had my misgivings as I took a leap of faith and told him I was blogging about spirituality and daily life, and described my post about Letting Go.  Turns out that beneath his mountain man exterior was an open heart.  When I finished, he nodded, and said, “Yup, that sounds about right.  But you also have to remember that it is okay to have that feeling of need in the first place.”

WHAT!  Bunyon the Bartender broke. it. down.   He actually hit on one of the key parts of Letting Go.  See, the thing is that you can not force yourself to Let Go.  Like, I cannot say, “Nicole, you are being stupid, how could you have been so foolish at to have these needs, stop it immediately.”  I am not a robot.  I am not trying to be hard.

We are vulnerable people who want love.  We have to love and forgive and have compassion for that part of us that wants connection.  And the moment we forgive ourselves for having those feelings, we actually see them for what they are: a very sweet part of ourselves that wants and needs our own love.  In loving ourselves, we stop demanding things from the outside world that are not realistic.  This is not a one-time deal.  When I am going through something where I have to let go, I sometimes feel like I am walking around just cradling my heart in my hands, going “It’s okay.  I love you.”  Over and over and over until I regain my power.

Alright people, that is it for this post.  And remember: don’t be afraid to get deep with your local bartender.   They might have some real-life wisdom to share.

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