usefulness

I worked for a great guy once named Ty Damon. I was super eager and wanting to be impactful and ready to take on anything, so everything he gave me I’d throw myself into and be ready for the next project far too soon. “How can I help?” “What can I do?”

Finally, he said to me: “How you can help is to quit bugging me for things to do. I trade your time for my money. I want you to sit there and be ready when I need you.”

I feel like i’ve been doing the same thing with The Universe. I want to feel busy and purposeful. I’m chomping at the bit to be of service beyond my inner sphere. I spend a lot of time in my inner sphere – inside my own body (relaxing as much as possible) and in my little foursome of a family. Lots of time. And it’s good time. Even when I’m in pain being in my body offers a feeling of wholeness and presence which are the foundations of contentment, and we have remarkable harmony in our home. So, it’s really a lovely place to be. And I know raising my kids outside of the ratrace¬†is a service to humanity, but I’d like to be of more direct service.

I used to do it with cooking quite a bit, open houses and entertaining, but my hands aren’t quite so nimble. I really enjoy doing it through the shared bodyfulness practice online, but my inability to coalesce the website and whatnot are kindof overshadowing that time for me. Plus, I haven’t enjoyed my hair all year. Weirdly enough, that makes a difference (my daughter and I just had this conversation).

So, happy as I feel, with many areas of relaxation and surrender, I also feel areas of disappointment, fear and shame. And so I endeavor to embrace those areas, to feel them fully, often I invoke The Presence Process’ “I am here now in this.” and they dissipate, and they return and lately have been having their way with me for quite some time before i smarten up and relax into them again. I should be doing more. <long stories about arrogance and wasted potential>. Breath. I am here now in this. body is in space. breath is happening. stories don’t matter. staying present to the feeling state of what is actually matter, and the only matter you can truly know the insides of… that’s what matters. and as we connect with the physical sensation of this current incarnation, we are de facto connected, intertwined and interdependent with every atom in this (relatively) closed system on planet earth (as well as beyond – maybe even inside as much as outside). There’s a huge amount of data in each feeling, and being that we’re always assimilating our physical environment through breathing and digesting (as the mental realm is being fed the inputs of movies, magazines, the internet as culture) – our unity is so apparent, it’s hard to believe we could ever believe otherwise.

Part of unity is shadow, having space for the shadow to be acknowledged, held. Held within the totality of Love, of the completely innocent, where there is nothing to defend. all is accepted. Fear is part of love, too; it just doesn’t know it. But love knows.

temple universalis

SoCal Vedanta has a Swami I love who has spoken quite a bit about the need for a Temple Universalis, where there’s not religious tolerance but true commaradarie in our concurrent journeys to wholeness. Buddha, Krishna, Christ and more avatars represented in a physical altar with equality and honor for all. I love the idea. Kindof reminds me of Vedanta itself or SRF but this would be a step further independent of allegience. Or that’s how i understand it. He may have a different intent, but as Ramakrishna says, there are as many ways to God as there are human hearts….

Recently it occurred to me that I am a temple universalis. Within me are teachings from all the great traditions (and lesser ones as well ūüėČ … I am a testament to all that I love, all that resonates within me.

I had no idea how to go about plotting a physical temple requiring real estate and donations. But this inner temple? Yeah, I’ve got that. No “how do I?” needed. The blossoming of every bit of wisdom, the respect for individuals and traditions and infinite curiosity about all of it – this is how I nurture the temple within me. All of life is moving through me and as me and as everything else. Being aware of this dynamic interplay in the dance of life and love itself, even if it’s only a glimpse, makes the body a true temple because its where we directly experience life animating matter.

What is most exciting to me is we each are such a temple, eaching carrying a different set of stones, so to speak, each having collected and valued and been led by little nuggets of inspiration and direction. And as we value the stones, maybe we can let them go a little bit and bask in the freedom of a moment of all of it existing within us and within everything. We each have a distinct algorithm of experience and values and interest. we are each Temple Universalis. so cool.

collisions of consciousness

I am pretty good at being. just being. i am less good at doing these days, in part due to illness, in part due to laziness, perhaps lots of other parts with lots of other reasons, some valid, some ridiculous. I fully recognize that the confluence of circumstances leading me to have the time and inclination to be extremely ‘being’ focused is a luxury beyond measure. I am grateful. I feel a little guilty, and a variety of other feelings, some valid, some ridiculous. But, overall, I am well-rested and happy in my family relationships, so I’m one lucky specimen. I also feel that I’m part of (if only a tiny, off-in-the-corner part of) the evolution of humanity, life itself’s expression on earth right now. I feel committed to being the solution – of equality, care, Michaelle¬†Small-Wright’s “Behaving as if the God In All Life Mattered” (best title ever), unplugging from the constant onslaught of consumerism and status.

And then, I get a load of myself from the consumerism and status point of view, and I do not fit the mold. I kindof suck by a number of metrics. and still, this part of me wants to straighten myself up and measure up a bit better in this paradigm.

Thankfully, bodyfulness practices take me out of measurement and comparing most of the time. But, my mind has been dragging me back every chance it gets. But with Paul Selig’s new book coming out soon, I am reminded that I am a growing, evolving being and any measurements I try to take reflect a dedication to a past that I do not wish to recreate. When I identify with life itself moving through me, as a being on this planet at this time in relationship with life and people and culture, I am curious as to what I’ll get next. When I identify with this midwestern smartypants female, I get real tied up in that smartypants bit. And I’m not. Maybe it’s the brain fog, maybe I was never quite as clever as I felt, but I don’t know nearly what I thought I did and I’m glad I finally realized it. I also know far more than I’d ever imagined about wildly different things, and I’m delighted life took me in that direction. Had I been trying to find it intentionally, I may well have missed it (as I’ve missed so many things I’ve intentionally shot for….) (oooh, see the self-shaming? Yep, it’s been like that all day. Luckily, every 15 to 20 minutes I do *some* sort of bodyfulness practice and at least unplug the diatribe for a few breaths.

This is an exciting time, and we have so many brilliant teachers offering so much hope and light and context, it’s exciting to be on this evolutionary train. Unitive Justice, Tree Sisters, Extinction Rebellion. Bodyfulness. Thomas H√ľbl’s new community..¬†No matter how weird and judgementally my conscious mind evaluates my progress, I am here. now. in this. and that’s enough. it’s got to be. it is.

[relaxing]

just when i thought i was x

summer took over about 3 weeks ago, and i was feeling good. ‘summer is my time’ i thought, remembering last year’s generally very good summer. and i don’t know if i am upper limiting myself, but practically as soon as i said it..¬†i am not good again, and i don’t know if its what i ate, activity, exertion, mental level activity, actually a positive detoxing… i have no idea. i am just having a hard time moving.

it definitely has its benefits, though. it slows me down and lets me dig in to some of the glorious deliciousness I wouldn’t have time for – right now Unitive Justice and The Tao of Change. both glorious. and i do my perelandra, and as many bodyfulness practices as I can shake a stick at (consciously relaxing hundreds of minutes per day, in stillness and activity). and i feel incredibly privileged. which makes me feel guilty. which makes me point at the illness and say, ‘you’re faking this so that you can have that good stuff and have an excuse not to have a real job or be too busy and occupied by the affairs of the world.” am i self-sabotaging? did i get bit by a tick? you just have to look at my hands to know there is something not quite right in my body, so i know its not totally psychosomatic.

and then i check in with my body.

my body doesn’t care. the reasons why i am in this feeling state , the story behind it? Not interesting. You know what’s interesting? what’s under it. what’s just beneath it? what’s under is what’s up. not the story, the feeling. and the breath leads you ever-there.

i love dropping out of a mental construction like that – especially the ones that play me as the villian.

i am all of it. we are all, all of it. our minds? at their height they can really only understand a fraction of what’s going on. how many things I thought would suck turned out to be wonderful. how many things i was so sure was the right thing to do, really messed things up. moments of genius. moments of failure. moments thinking one thing and not even knowing it. defending. projecting. judging. strategizing. it’s as exhausting as it sounds. And if we don’t give our minds a break (by spending a breath or two (or one hundred) in the feeling state of the body) they will drive us to the ground. Like the genie looking for work.

I don’t doubt that i made up the physical issues I contend with. to save myself. my body found a way to get my attention and it worked..¬†My mind was on a path of constantly assessing my worth and impact and judging my weaknesses. There were always plenty – just enough successes to make me worthy of living, but enough failures to let me know i wasn’t enough, and please, yes, try harder. Rely on me to keep assessing and pushing the carrot.

I still have all of that. But now it is counter-balanced with lots of moments of communing with nature, be it outside or inside my body – importantly, BOTH. Moments of wholeness can counterbalance a whole session of self-flaggelation, and increasingly, wholeness intervenes earlier and earlier in the beatings. Even if what my mind is arguing is true – essentially, so are a million other things. We are truly infinite. There is no finite path we walk. as evidenced by the fact that no one’s life is a straight line. Infinite. By nature.

And thereby, infinite stories. A simple breath of relaxing releases the stories, if only for that second. actively unplugging something. Consciously being here now. None of the stories matter. The being matters. The being fuels all the directions of the day, of our lives. It’s seems to me always the best way to spend a breath. Like this one. Now. Please join me.

The Yoga of Relaxation

We live in a pretty tightly wound society. Expectations and drive and doing our best and giving up and some serious societal issues, nuclear threats and pending environmental collapse. The pressure is on. And it’s taking its toll.

Counterbalancing the stress and the tension is relaxation. Relaxation is an ever-deepening well that processes and eliminates tons of the physical and mental clutter we collect throughout the day. It unplugs us, if just for a moment, and lets us return with fresh eyes. It restores our clarity, our health, our ease with the world. It doesn’t deny or avoid the stresses, it processes and releases them. Sign me up.

I remember the first time I stood in tree pose in line at the bank (a long time ago, when people went to banks). I was so thrilled to have yoga penetrating my life and day, moving past class and an often cursory home practice. It invigorated all of the aspects of the practice (formal, casual, incidental) for years. That experience is similar but pales in comparison to integrating relaxing into my life and day. It’s especially important for me because I am conscious of the fact that if i am not actively relaxing, I am actively contracting. If I want to experience freedom, I have to invoke it, it’s not my standard state. It may have been at one point, but myself and society trained me out of it. Maybe one day it will be effortless, but for now it is choice by decision by choice.

And the best part? Every time I make the choice, I feel the win. Every time I check in with the feeling state of my body and relax on the exhale, and offer expansion on the inhale and deeper relaxation on the exhale – every time I do it I feel the satisfaction of doing something life=positive for my body. as I do it more and more, it seeps into each relationship, because I am relaxing as I am relating, opening more to listening than trying to impose my view of the world on the situation. the more i listen to others, the more intimacy i feel and the feeling of being present to someone recognizes the gift of their sharing. It’s a virtuous circle.

Focusing my time and attention on being present in the body and to the emotions and actively relaxing hasn’t solved all my problems, but it makes my life extraordinarily richer and makes me feel i’m moving in the right direction. I feel that relaxation is surrendering to love, letting love carry us and all we encounter. Trust in Life Itself to handle itself in our lives as expertly as it unfolds in perfect balance throughout all of creation. and a willingness not to need to author it all.

Acknowledging relaxation as what it is: accepting ourselves in our humanity in this moment, and making that our yoga – our path of union – – – it literally is the path of union, with ourselves and our right-now life, the only place we can express ourselves as we truly are. Touching in with timelessness. Being open to life itself. Feeling at least some sense of safety.

the most exciting thing ever

I’m pretty excited about Unitive Justice. ¬†A dear one took the workshop in CO a few weeks ago, and Sylvia Clute, who is a genius, offered the extraordinary document accompanying the workshop for sharing. So Sher sent it to me and I am totally in love. It offers a framework of lovingkindness applied to all of life — this is one of the stickiest things about it IMHOatm, it’s wildly elastic. It applies from everything from how we treat ourselves in the micro to every level of relationship in the macro, interpersonal, community, international – all of it. Same principles up and down the scale. Same intent, same responsibility, same possibility, same willingness, same openness. Fan-freaking-tastic.

That a paradigm operating from wholeness is possible and functional is the most exciting thing in the world to me. I’ve grown up in a world where certain things we’re just stuck with. This system says ‘bullocks to that.’ Gently. Peacefully.

Another freaking amazing, most-exciting-thing-ever aspect of this paradigm is it doesn’t require modification of the old paradigm. It both replaces and augments without needing to fight about it, change things, feel powerless.

It is ultimate power. The power is squarely in our choice in being open to what is before us or turning away from what is before us. It’s as essential as that. As tiny as this decision and as huge as changing the world. ¬†That’s the medicine i’ve been looking for. That’s the dance. This is entirely doable, choice by choice.

Tie in Caroline Casey’s compassionate trickster and we have the recipe to change the world and have authentic connection and genuine fun doing it. Provocative. Gentle. Intelligent. Curious.

This is gonna be fun…

remembering is key

Of all the traits I’d like to fall out of my personality, wanting to be universally approved of is at the top of the list. Also, taking everyone’s opinion as holding truth. Man, these are a couple of really destructive frameworks to try to work within.

Yesterday, I had a woman … hmmm, how to put this; more than imply but less than state… that the tension in my body is caused by unexpressed emotion.

Have you met me?

If you have, you’ll know that I don’t let much go by. I talk about everything. I bring up the uncomfortable feeling and insist we all at least acknowledge it. Constantly. My poor husband (he never needs to wonder about my internal space, though!).

But because I insist on not ignoring anything, I spent the whole damned day trying to figure out what has gotten past me, what I’m avoiding, what lies unexpressed.

This morning, Sounds True released a podcast about ancestral trauma and I just about fell off my chair.

Funny thing is, I had a Bodytalk session last monday¬†wherein she uncovered a pathology around foundations. So, that has been gently unfolding – and as I learned when I had a Bodytalk session just before my hip surgery wherein she uncovered a pathological consciousness around “support” this can be a really powerful paradigm shift physically, emotionally and relationally.

So, I called Tucker and told him, “I don’t think it’s mine! I think it’s ancestral!”

Funny thing number two: Within a half an hour he got an email that we might be able to shift our citizenship appointment up to as early as September (our appointment currently sits in April 2022). Go figure.

This makes me reevaluate my self-brutality yesterday trying to inspect every corner of my being. That’s just not nice. However, it did prime me especially marvelously for the ancestral piece (this is not a new concept to me – i read my first bio-genetics book more than a decade ago – it’s simply another layer to address). I find this pattern repeating itself often – deep frustration, engaged directly, leads to revelation or breakthrough.

Last night, before I went to bed, still reeling and wondering what I might be repressing I sat to do a bodyfulness practice. My body was unphased by my mental meanderings. It was peaceful. It was whole. I could feel the energy of life pulsing gently. I reaffirmed that I have one objective: to grow, to evolve, to let life itself move through me at its own pace, with its own intelligence to best be in the flow of life itself and service to all of life, with my full cooperation.

ups and downs

Last time I wrote, I had been struggling with headaches and a few days later, I found out why… After my hip surgery, I ditched most of my medicines, but kept a few of the severe pain meds in case something unexpected happened (a fall, etc.). Silly me, I put them in a small container in which I’d received some THCa pills, which is very effective for arthritis. Anyhow, I found the container and thought, “wow! I forgot I had THCa” and took one. Felt great that day, but the ensuing headache came in and out for a week and I’m still rebuilding my gut flora. Very disappointed in myself for such a rookie mistake, careless, stupid. Hopefully: lesson learned. Certainly: lesson experienced.

The last 2 weeks have been full of ups and downs. For the most part I’ve weathered them better than at any other point in my adulthood, mostly, I believe, due to the bodyfulness practice. Remembering to breathe. Remembering to feel, and to be OK with what surfaces. Remembering that my focus in this life is presence and authenticity and love. Desires for money and impact and approval give way to remembering that abundance isn’t surplus, it’s having what you need when you need it. The mental back and forth had more volleying than I’ve had in a while (birthdays may do that to you), but in the end I could be more present to darn near everything being god’s way of playing “can you see me now?” But the internal struggle can ramp up with the strangest prompts. And, much of what my mind presents me with is pretty valid. Perhaps my life has as much peace as it does because I play it safe. Perhaps my flaws are so great I stay in a small circle of acceptability. Perhaps my individual brokenness is what keeps my delightful potential from expression¬†in any practical ways. Any of it, all of it may be true. And while it can derail my¬†day for a few minutes, or cast over it like a fog for a day or more, it’s not my business. Sitting in a bodyfulness practice may feel better, but sometimes it doesn’t – it feels like a lie. Ah, well. Sometimes days are like that.

What I love most, what gives me reliable relief is this idea that my job (our job) is to just be here – to be on earth at this time holding the vibration we were born with (amplifying it if we can, maybe, raising it if we can, but not necessary) and being here. Trusting that nature does its work all across the universe with remarkable precision, and I am part of that precision whether it feels like it or not. ¬†This takes all the pressure off. This lets me approach my life, my day, my interactions with a freedom and curiosity that says, “I’ll bring the best I’ve got right now to this, but there’s not fear of failure because Life Itself is moving through me and that is most definitely enough (whether I am or not).”

That’s all I’ve got some days, and remarkably, that’s enough.

 

having the headache shifted the practice

I’m far from enlightened, but i’m more and more content and interested and happy. This is the trend of the practice and why i am so excited to share it. i don’t share it as a spiritual practice (with a goal of enlightenment) but as a physiofocus practice (with a goal of peace of mind throughout the day). maybe they’re the same thing, but I don’t know.

realizing how deeply entrenched in spinning stories about my successes and failures as a person in the world because of the comments of a few well-intentioned people – it was familiar. i fell into it and automatically engaged support structures to keep the stories active, the fears prominent, the strategy elusive and my mind consumed.

the headache didn’t help.

or so i thought. maybe the headache had me do more bodyfulness practices which helped me notice this mental spiralling. This “fully and completely outside of the present moment” mind path, and then when i would try to tap into the present moment, i got a lot of, ‘the present moment sucks, even if only because it is trapped here between this traumatic past and “elusive, and even then still probably not going to work” future. Yes, I’ll concede: that’s a terrible place to be.

Instead, let’s pop over here, where life is flowing through us regardless of how we perceive it, and to feel that for a moment (dropping out of perception – and maybe when we come back to it, we enjoy renewed appreciation for life itself caring enough about us to keep us breathing. Those stories – all of them – can be seen for what they are: nothing. and right here, in this breath, I can claim my alignment to the present moment and drop all of the identities and defenses and prognosticating.

Thankfully, this space is becoming familiar, too. And now I can engage my supports to reenforce this way of being in the world and relating to it. Huge shift. Thank heaven.

noticing, noticing and more noticing

I really did not enjoy everything I noticed this weekend. I’m also incredibly grateful for it and struggling just a bit to keep from ‘just wanting it to be over.’ Right? Noticing what comes up without judging it, wanting to change it… you can see how i’m doing on that today. But, these things come up. and throughout this headachey, emotionally draining couple of days, I just keep trying to say “yes, yes, yes” and “release resistance.” over and over again. A few times it has lulled me into a nap (thank heaven!)

OK, so, yes, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been trying to learn from it and make the best of it, and know it’s productive and be williing to let it transform me, but it has still sucked. And I think I just figured out why.

For the most part, I have to accept that talking about God, philosophy, human potential, evolution and the cosmos is all I really truly enjoy doing, and that’s been true since I was very young. Illness pointed me to both nature and stillness, both tremendous enrichments. ¬†When I started doing Bodyfulness calls 4 months ago, I did it because that’s how I want to spend my days: I want to spend my days focused on what is true, what is possible, and how to relax into it.

During a consultation on Surrender as a Spiritual Practice, a woman asked, “but what about your personal agenda?” and for the first time I realized, Surrender may just be the relinquishment of the personal agenda, in favor of being wholly open and receptive to the cosmic agenda flowing through you and everything else. This has to be preceded by a huge curiosity about life itself and what It is up to, and the potential that this broader picture is more interesting than whatever little picture it is I am trying to create.

Late in the week, I had an encounter that left me angry and dejected. Actually two in a row. I’m not one to shy away from negative emotions if they come up, and I tried every technique I know to try to move it through me. Ritual, they say, is how the universe knows we’re serious, so along with lots of body practices, a few prayers, meditation, tears, (back to bodyfulness), overwhelm (back to bodyfulness), it finally occurred to me: all of this upset? It’s about the personal agenda. I’m feeling defensive about it, inadequate, scared, marginalized – all kinds of things. Every depressing thought and self-negating statement came out to play, and as usual, I tried to entertain them all (thanks for the idea, Rumi, but this shit is hard) and finally I realized: I don’t want to fulfill my personal agenda. I don’t care about my personal agenda at all. It’s like holding on to the junk in the garage. I don’t need it, I don’t want it. So why do I let it stay?

My agenda is to allow life itself to flow through me as purely and freely as possible. I believe that having that agenda by necessity includes things like being an interested and engaged parent, a responsive and nurturing wife, a decent human, a fair friend. It may sometimes also move through me as a bold fury. That’s up to Life. But I am here and infinitely curious about what life has got up its sleeve and ready to play. willing to play. willing to show up. and to listen. and to do what wells up within me to do. in response to life itself in and all around me, and motivated by the song that wants to be sung through me. i don’t even know the tune. i think i have a sense of the melody, but i may be very wrong, and the only way i can find out is to keep playing.

As I’ve been experimenting with this priority, I’ve gotten progressively more relaxed and more engaged. As soon as I hold this up to a personal agenda wherein i may succeed or fail, make illinformed choices and not be appealing? Sure, it’s a huge fail. OK. Fail away. That’s not the game I’m playing. I can fail in a game i am not playing, easy. No repercussions. Unless I convince myself I AM playing the game, and not doing very well. Then it’s torture.

Well, gosh. That’s silly.

It’s also understandable.

Remembering my priority shifts me back. And when I fall away again, into all that fear and shame? I’ll come back. I know that oscillation is the nature of life, and I know that returning our attention to the object of meditation IS the work. I am here. and I am free. and I remember.