Tag Archives: Gratitude

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Today is my birthday. And so far my best present was an insight.  It felt like when the clouds part on a grey day and you can see that the sun had been shining the whole time.

The backstory:  I fell in love with someone in the last few months.  Falling in love is funny.  One minute you like them, they’re great.  The next minute they are in your heart.  And it’s like: wait I don’t remember opening that door.  How did you get inside?  But there they are.  And suddenly you are vulnerable in a way you never agreed to be.

The second backstory: I ended it.  We were dating and he was travelling and I wanted more contact than he did.  Which was the right move for both of us.  It felt good that we could both own what we wanted and respect the other person.  I felt solid.

The current story:  We still see each other on a regular basis as we are in the same group of friends.  And the thing is: he’s still in here.  WTF.  I thought I asked him to leave.  Apparently, my heart did not get the message from my brain.  Most of the time it is fine, and the love feels like warm friendly tenderness and laughter.  Other times, it feels like sad isolation, a tightness and mopiness for his inability to give me what I want.   Or an anger at myself and my stupid heart for not being able to “let go.”

The insight:  This morning we were at breakfast together with a group of friends, joking about Will Ferrell movies and the paleo diet.  After I blew out the candle on my birthday cupcake, everyone at the table told me an intimate reflection/communication as a way to celebrate me.  And his to me was: “You have this ability to go into these high places, and that’s where I get knocked out.”  And with that short sentence, he let me know that he still feels me, even when he can’t always follow me where I want to go.

And then I saw it.  How we are like two circles in a Venn diagram, overlapping, yet pulling at the edge’s of each other’s comfort zones.

For me, he represents the ability to keep loving even when that love cannot be returned the way I want.  I am exercising my heart to be strong and robust.  One that gives without getting stuck like a sad kitten at his emotional front door, scratching to be let in.  One that stays open even when every bone in my body wants to deny that I feel anything, or make him responsible for “making” me feel this way.  And yes, this means that my tender heart gets to be cracked open in ways that don’t always feel pleasurable.  If you ask me on a bad day, I will most likely chalk this post up to a birthday sugar-overload, and play the role of a sad victim of unavailable men.

And for him, I represent being able to receive a full, open love.  He wants to shut down and close it off and kick me out of his heart.  But I know that I am still in there too.  And little by little, I can feel that he is relaxing into it, letting me love him.  And maybe he’ll never return it in the way I want.  Most likely, I won’t be the one that he throws open the doors for.  But I have my own special place inside that is still growing, and breaking up walls like shoots of grass rising through pavement.  There is a deepening.

Seeing this, I stopped seeing our current situation as a “problem.” Sure, there’s a comfort and energy that happens when two people’s circles overlap more completely.  You can draw a tight circle around yourselves and call it a relationship.  Within that space, you can create things together and maybe even plan for the future.  But there’s also a magic that happens when the circles don’t entirely overlap.  To stay connected while respecting the distance that exists between you challenges you to grow and expand. You get to experience bigger and bigger versions of love.

A Lesson in Unconditional Love

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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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Meeting Other Pilgrims on the Road: Nepal Before the Trek

“Omens are a language, its the alphabet we develop to speak to the world’s soul, or the universe’s, or God’s, whatever name you want to give it. Like any alphabet, it is individual, you only learn it by making mistakes . . . . You start in the darkness, not knowing what you’ll find, although wanting to find clues to meet up with yourself, your destiny. And these clues come to us by way of a richer alphabet, which allows us to intuit what we should or should not do.” — Paolo Coelho

Three days in Nepal (okay, five as I finally get around to posting this), and I already feel like I am in full travel mode. Every day/night I have met new people to share a beer, a meal, a bottle of wine. I have wandered through temple-filled squares, held on tight to the back of a motorbike as it wound its way through the streets of Kathmandu, walked quietly through a monastery at dawn, done yoga in the attic of an old royal residence, and smoked hash in an small Nepali-style bungalow in the hills of the Himalayas.

Before I left, I had a friend ask me what the goal of my travel was. When I was at the Deida retreat, I had a realization: I did not want any goal other than travel itself. My only aim was to embrace a directionless life open to the possibilities in every moment, sinking into the richness of experience. As the expression goes, travelers see what is there, tourists see what they came to see.

Take a few nights ago. Simply sharing a bottle of wine with a new friend by candlelight. The strangeness of our surroundings, coupled with the sheer improbability of our meeting, made our conversation hushed and intimate. It also highlighted a fragile and sweet truth: we are on our separate journeys. All we can share is this moment. The more you can really get this, the more you can love the person in front of you. They are just another person living life, laughing, growing old, doing the best they can, just like you. Wish them well.

That night was a wonderful meeting. But I am learning to carry the same attitude to even the unpleasant meetings. Two nights ago I went out with someone who was probably one of the most arrogant and self-centered people I have ever met. I say that in a pretty matter of fact tone. Actually, he admitted that he was that way (although to be fair, he was also fairly generous). I kept on finding myself tense up around him to shield myself from his endless commentary on himself, and falling silent because there was nothing to say to someone who doesn’t listen. My challenge that night was to still see him on his journey, and wish him well. Not because it was the “right” thing to do, but because the moment I started to close off to him I could feel myself closing off to myself and becoming uptight and irritable. When I perceived him in an unfavorable light, I was the one who changed, not him! When I could see him in a favorable light, as just another person struggling along the best he could, I changed back into my open and relaxed self. By making the choice to adopt a positive attitude, I also found him more vulnerable and human.

So my motto for this travel (and for life, as is happens), is to totally accept whatever is happening and practice keeping an open heart. It is what life is offering as a teaching and a gift. As I fall into the rhythm of traveling and stay open to the experiences, I fall into a deeper conversation with life. The crowded bus, the tourist packed streets, all have something to say.

So I am going to be silent here for a bit as I leave for my Everest hike tomorrow. I have pages and pages of journal writing which I would love to turn into more posts if I find a computer along the way…until then much love from the road. Returning from the trek October 29th.

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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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CHRISTMAS PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

I want to take a quick break in the three-part series to wish everyone a very merry Christmas.  Christmas, leading into New Year’s, serves as my calendar’s axis, the central point around which my year swings.  Before rounding the corner, time slows down….allows me to rest…then picks up speed and thrusts me once again into another year.

In this pause, I reflect on Christmases past.  What I remember most vividly from my childhood is the hushed feeling of expectation the night before Christmas.  The tree full of ornaments, and smelling of pine.  Tons of presents underneath the changing colored lights (in my child’s memory, a mountain!).  Giving the tree one last glance before going up the stairs to my room.  Being happy deep inside about how pretty it was and how full of promise.  And then warm in my bed, completely unable to go to sleep.  Until I did, and then it was Christmas morning (7 am?) and I got to tear down the stairs and wait impatiently until everyone else had assembled for rip-the paper-open, breathless fun.

When I was a kid, I took it for granted that Christmas would continue on in the same way forever, a fixed magical feature of my year.  But the reality is that I haven’t had those kinds of Christmases for a while.  In high school I was content to wake up at 10 am and amble down to the tree.  It was nice, but it wasn’t the same.  I mean, for one thing, there is just no way as an adult I will ever get anything as completely awesome as Barbie’s Tropical Mansion.  To put it more bluntly, I grew up.  The tree grew small, and the lights less bright.

So there it is.  Life is constantly changing, we cannot hold on.  As much as we want to join Tinkerbell and Peter, we don’t get a Never-Never Land (for all you Buddhists out there, yes, this is a meditation on impermanence.)  But that’s okay.  In fact, this is what gives makes me love and appreciate Christmas today.  Today, unlike when I was a kid, I get that I might not have another Christmas like this one.  I appreciate that I have been blessed with one more year with my parents, brother, family, and friends.  When I give thanks for what I have, the old magic and wonder is still there.  But today, it is deeper, more truly grateful, and somewhat bittersweet.

As for the Christmas to come, I have no idea what those will bring.  I just hope that there are more memories to be made, more life to be lived.  And I hope I appreciate every one.

Merry Christmas and love to all!

N

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