what it’s like to be happy

i feel happier in this moment, in a more active way, than i’ve been able to muster in a number of years. I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve had plenty of contentment and harmony even during periods of great pain and confusion. these things have coexisted, but the pain is diminishing and the confusion is almost fully gone, so the contentment can upgrade to engagement and the harmony can make way for joy. and the joy doesn’t have a condition. i don’t have to accomplish anything or be received in any particular way. i have a pretty small circle of friends and community, but each is very special to me, and activated in a way that had been passive right up until, i think, my birthday. and now the aromatherapy fragrance is hitting the fan. I know who i am. i know what I am. I know how I serve. i am here. i am here. i am here. i have been saying these words since i came across them on a ferry ride to sicily (the work of Paul Selig) and now i have a felt sense of them that was really just a pipedream for several years. Perserverence pays off! Putting a single purpose first will eventually get traction. the traction feels good.

i just got off the phone with my mother. she is lovely. she’s also a nexus of some of my sensitivities. and in those moments with that phone call, the sensitivities were like cones in an agility course and it was easy and fluid and nothing got activated. I’ve been unpeeling layers of identity and diffusing triggers (and filling out radical forgiveness worksheets) for so long, i’m starting to feel the light on my face. relationships are funnier and more fun. i don’t have to like everything and i don’t have to solve everything, and those are big steps for me. and another big step? i genuinely am not trying to make something happen. i am just doing what is before me. and finally, finally, finally I have some pretty juicy stuff before me. and i am in a position to engage with a light heart, loving intentions, and no attachment to the outcome. do the work for the joy of the work, and leave the unfolding to life itself.  I credit Eric Klein’s Gita to bringing that sense into my receiving and giving.

that was a year ago right about now, i was copyediting Eric’s 40 day exploration of the Gita. I had just found out about a betrayal in my extended family. it was actually quite the clusterfuck. The Gita study during that time, a couple of hours per day, was such a blessing. Everyone should be so lucky as to be studying sacred texts during difficult times. Leading up to that help on the Gita I was trying to get Eric to do a program on slowing down. here, a year later, i just put up a course. i’m pretty happy about that. and now, i have to engage with the areas of discomfort. But, because I feel purpose, and because I feel engaged in what I feel is most important in life, I’m not worried about it. and that is a weird and wonderful new feeling.

what happens when we break free?

Over the past 6 months I’ve been faced with my own identities, just how many automatic identities I had and barely notice, each with all kinds of special conditions and ways of receiving and expressing information. Many of them i don’t particularly like. Some I’ve been able to step away from. some are still curling around my ankle as I try to pull it away…

Right now I’m in a particularly sweet spot, perhaps the counterbalance to May’s more tumultuous days, and facing them fully. Perhaps the very nicest part is not needing it to stay this way, or for this to produce some other result. I finally can give myself a break from striving.

it’s like we are on a plane going from new york to LA. Humanity is evolving, and our evolution is sure. I can say this because all of life evolves. Naturally. It’s just becoming and retreat, becoming and retreat (retreat is not the optimal word, but the right one eludes me and this gets the point across).

So, lately I’ve been approaching life as if we are on the plane. The journey is in process and the destination is sure. Now let us look at how we are spending the flight. Is this a pleasant journey? An anxious one? What do we want it to be? There are some people over there trying to get everyone to chant to get us there faster, and that might work, but it’s not necessary. by all means raise your voice in song, but for the joy of it – not to effectuate change…

As I can recognize some of my subconscious identities and detach from them, and detach from the stress of trying to live up to my potential or any other to do list, I can start to taste freedom. And freedom is sweet. Freedom is expansive. Freedom is exciting.

Now that I am fully accepting the notion that the end is sure, i’m not in a hurry any more. which is great, given how far down the ‘slowing down’ rabbit hole i’ve travelled. this lack of hurry, this actual feeling of trust, immediately followed by curiosity has replaced the feelings of ‘how on earth am i going to make this happen’ and fear that it might not.

Huge trade up.

who gets your time, attention and money?

When i first went to Tai Chi, my teacher talked about my movement leaking energy from basically everywhere.

I think most of us are doing that in a variety of ways, but very impactfully in the realm of economics. Most of us have values we prefer, and it is just lucky happenstance if a few of the multinational corporations capturing our credit card numbers might– at one point or another in the life cycle and supply chain of whatever it is I am purchasing– not be completely evil.

I used to give a talk at high schools that raising money for the rainforest wouldn’t be necessary if our purses weren’t full of environmentally-destructively produced makeup. There’s not much transparency, though, so how is a person to know?

I believe we’re entering an era of paying closer attention to our expression and sphere of influence. We have more responsibility to do so now than ever before, and I believe technology is bound to develop a quick, intuitive solution that will render the cloak of secrecy and exploitation useless, as iphone did to those dreadful flip phones.

I don’t know the pace of change. It’s never as fast or slow as I expect. Always a surprise. And so, in the planning, it is best to get joy from the planning without expectation that it will *actually* be the way things turn out. Plan for the best and accept better still. Or worse still. Or what comes. The treat there is knowing that whatever comes, good, bad or in between, it is both illusory and temporary as well. And still you will be, at the end of the day, a unique expression of life itself noticing itself. And tomorrow may be better. Or worse. It matters not. Experience at all is the miracle here. And any observation of Life Itself shows that cycles are in constant rotation.

I’m not sure why we have to repeat lessons, over and over. Sometimes it’s because we’re missing the point. Sometimes it might be because we’re finally unwinding something. Sometimes I think it might be to see when we can approach the lesson with a calm heart and curious openness. And sometimes, we go into a situation with a calm heart and curious openness and then the energy storm hits and we lose it. In seconds. Dang. But, at least we know where to go back to when the storm is over. Maybe next time it will take minutes. That would be a quantum improvement, even though the improvement my brain would like to see is utter completeness and never having to think about it (whatever it was) again. Yeah, my brain rarely gets what it wants, but my life almost unquestionably gets what will most naturally evolve it.

And evolution is what I am after!

life is funny

I haven’t written in a while, although I’ve been writing quite a bit. life is full of paradox.

what is most interesting to me today is that we are all such a hodgepodge of good intentions and questionable execution, yet often those with questionable intentions have good execution. Why do you suppose that might be?!

I posted my first course on Udemy. It’s called, “Slowing Down: What it Means, Why it’s Good, and How to Do It.” It’s about an hour and a half long, in 33 three-minute segments. It’s a start. It’s the very beginning, and it’s nice to have the beginning begun.

Where things go from here will be fascinating. I am happy to say that I feel as surrendered as I’ve ever felt, and every deep mindful breath helps me be even moreso. Surrendered to Life Itself as It moves through me. and is me. and looks at itself with these eyes.

That is some exciting shit. Hate to be profane, but there it is.

I am dedicated to evolving. it’s what gets my attention. right now i’m delighting in the idea that evolving is shifting the focus from the “self” as the collection of moments and memories where life is building the self over time, to the perspective of the oak tree within the acorn. The acorn breaks open and begins building the oak tree *out of thin air*

I used to think that the acorn used nutrients and built the stem that started up through the dirt, but that’s not the case at all.  The water and nutrients extracted from the soil make up only a tiny portion of that seedling. That seedling is expanding from within the seed and growing. Miraculously. just like the rest of us. I want to find a good link here. i wish i could remember where i first read/saw this.

anyway

I’m super excited because I feel whole. I feel like i have plumbed my depths and am willing to continue if the need arises. I’m not afraid of the fragments – fragments are an opportunity to integrate. I’m not trying to avoid anything or achieve anything. i’m breathing. smiling. breathing. listening to my body, moving according to the magical confluence of how I feel, what is needed, who is available and what’s in this moment. Bringing our best selves to the present moment.

this requires being in touch with our best selves. the part of us that has been learning from all of our mistakes and circumstances. The part that shows up on behalf of others we love when our advocacy can make a difference for them. That fullness of presence is an energy field and the more we visit it, the further we can expand into it and start bringing it off the meditation cushion and into the day. We can address this wisest part of ourselves every time we have a curiosity of judgement. It’s there. In us. Just waiting for us to ask.

Thomas Hubl was talking about our bodies our not as old as the time we’ve been on earth. our bodies are hundreds of thousands of years old. Your body has so much programming you cannot even begin to understand. There is so much going on and unfolding naturally that our conscious brains rarely can acknowledge it lest we believe life is totally outside of our control.

Life is definitely outside of our control. But it is the foundation of our creativity. Big difference. Important distinction, but I am out of time. Hope to explore this more.

 

Milestones

I am one day into my fifty-first year, having turned 50 yesterday, and i’ve got to say, so far i like it. I did, of course, have a particularly delicious lead in. Now that I am here at the keyboard, i can’t even chronicle the last few days. it is too tender and sweet.

And there are so many good things to talk about.

I’ve had dozens of blogposts running in my mind these last four days when I’ve remained largely pixel-free. Sweet moments of understanding, of recognition. Acknowledgements of patterns in nature and of nature itself. Harmony. Effulgence. Right now? Nothing. And they were good, too. I miss them and hope they come back. Ideas I wanted to explore and consider and share…

I feel like I’ve been praying for a very long time with periods of the feeling of progress, but this past weekend was like a firehouse of the love and gorgeousness of life itself showered upon me again and again. I have had the full spectrum of emotions and relational struggles this past year, doubts and discomfort and enduring, but in these days, no question, the universe said, “everything’s ok. in fact, everything is flipping beautiful. and loves you. and everyone else. a lot.”

Nice message!

There were a few moments of personal triumph, too! Like not voicing my frank opinion to a person who was struggling. I am pretty free with that and I think I am going to stick to the Japanese, you’ll need to ask three times. i was always a one-time gal, and as I reflect back, i often spoke preemptively to any asking at all. But my opinion was meaningless, and she needed to just be pointed back into herself, and it was gratifying to really feel into that. So this is a good step.

This is also funny: I was describing my experience to my friend in these glowing terms, how amazing it was, how wonderful it was, and then i said, i was so cold the first night that the second night I slept with the hair dryer so when i woke up to the cold sheets i could warm them quickly. She was aghast. visually repulsed. she was like, i am never staying there, good god that sounds awful. And I had to laugh. Because yes, it was a drag, but just a little drag compared to all the big awesomeness, and the hair dryer solved the drag, and i was just so happy, but yeah, now that i hear it through your ears that does sound kinda bad.

But when you’re in love, nothing else matters. Where there is love, nothing else matters – from my 8 nights with Ganesha. But that’s a story for another session…

not what I thought. again.

It’s funny that we even trust our thinking, it is wrong so often. the thought stream is this largely generic constant progression of swirling miscellany, and yet we assemble it in such a way as to give it great personality and meaning. There is great wisdom in the human mind, but that drops precipitously when we talk about the human thought stream. In general, that’s just swirl.

Nevertheless, i get caught up in them as much as anyone else, and I start believing them. and that is almost never useful. Understanding the difference between being caught in the thought stream and accessing your bonafide individual learning for application to a situation is like night and day. In Sweden, in my case. I can go for long periods not accessing the thought stream (because I am too busy being in my body, in the moment). that’s like summer in Sweden.

Then i’ve got those spells wherein I just swirl around the thought stream and everything stays dark. that’s the winter in Sweden. The thought stream is not light, it’s not progressive, it’s got all kinds of stuff in it, but none of them lead to freedom. Even the thought of freedom is a bondage unless the experience of freedom can be accessed through the thought (which it can, but the thought stream doesn’t let that happen much. because experiencing the freedom means taking a break from the thought stream long enough to touch that freedom. that’s a longer break than the thought stream allows.)

I’m shooting video for the udemy course. it’s fun, but i’ve got too much information and i’m not much for scripting. my test days were easy and went well. yesterday i tried to dive in now that the setup is right, and yeah, it didn’t go as i expected. what it did do: it went as it went. for better or worse, some experience has been experienced and chances are it will contribute to the better execution of the overall project as it continues. But, silly me, i thought i’d be done by now.

And I’m not. And I might miss my deadline. And I’m ok with that.

Part of my practice is finding things curious instead of good or bad. Trusting that if this didn’t happen, it’s for the best. Trusting whatever happens. It’s freeing. And it keeps me out of the thought stream. Because the thought stream is just going to tell me all of the things that “it not going as well as I’d hoped” means. It means I am all sorts of undesireable things, and it may even mean that i suck. But if I’m not in the thought stream looking for meaning, i can be experiencing the meaning that is happening, which is never good or bad, it always just is.

The knowledge of good and evil.  The judgement of good or bad. That is definitely when things started to get complicated…

finding a safe space

I didn’t realize, until i was developing this program, how important a safe space is, or rather, i thought the emotional safe space was necessary, i knew having a container for your experience – but it’s also a physical safe space we need.

I didn’t recognize until a few months ago that I didn’t have a comfortable place in the house other than bed. things are fine, the couch is a stupid depth, and the chairs are pretty comfortable but not ‘release the body’ comfortable.

So I made one.

Built out of foam shapes. It’s super comfortable. my feet rest up on my bed, which relieves a lot in my back and neck. it’s great. i wish i understood this sooner. spending even just a minute a day (it’ll never be shorter than that because it’ll feel so good to relax, you couldn’t take just one and then have to go through the effort of getting up)

But, let me tell you, I look for moments to spend a minute or 15 in this safe, comfortable space, just breathing and relaxing sometimes thinking, but always coming back to the breath and body release.

i have been doing this (breath and body release) for a long time, and it continually gets more interesting. but having a daily place to achieve that i think is a big part of continued wellness. it’s a wellness enhancer FOR SURE.

I feel about sitting/laying in this space the way I used to feel about cigarettes.

I don’t feel that way about cigarettes any more. Not one bit. Which is shocking to me because i have ALWAYS in the back of my mind known that if the conditions were right I would certainly smoke. and who knows, i may still, but it’s sortof repugnant to me more than nostalgic, which is a category it has always held. positive nostalgia. but i’ve worked through enough coffee enemas that I will probably never subject myself to it again (it often gives me terrible pain, but the coffee enema usually solves it. TMI, i know. but my time isn’t up and it’s what came out.

so, yes, a safe place. a seat you feel good and can relax, and a safe emotional confidant – this is loam for getting into the stillness of the body from which all action flows and all tension relaxes.

ohmygoodness, i do love me some stillness. But it’s too much to write about it without doing it, so i’m a little short on my time because stillness in my safe place awaits and i can’t resist it!

Wait! I’ve built my current safe space in my bedroom, with my knees up. i think i could do this with a yoga mat and a pillow in the midst of traveling. finding a comfortable position. Wow, this is such a big deal. and this is where i so admire my college friend Lauren Hall for the work she does with supportive housing in SF. And I leave it at that cuz i want to talk about it more, but another day: stillness calls (but i did end up making the time)

Infinity

Driving along the canyon road,  I was thinking about a dog that’d gotten bit by a rattlesnake. I wondered how many rattlesnakes lived in that canyon. I figured the number is finite, but to have a finite number you have to have a border or a boundary, saying, “within this designated space, there are exactly this many rattlesnakes. today.”  because along with a spacial boundary we need a time boundary as well. To get to a finite number you need to point to something very specific.

The I thought about how much life is in the canyon. and i believe the answer is an infinite amount. Even if you identify some geography and say “how much life is in that space” you can’t really itemize it because everything about it is in an unchanging state of changing. So at one nanosecond, the ratio between dirt and grasses, trees and insects, fungi and molds, reptiles and animals has one answer, but a nanosecond later, this lizard has lost its life, these insects have had a boon to their economy and water  conditions changed as algae bloomed. It is not finite. yet life is in the finite. in it. infinite. right there, and everywhere else, too. infinitely.

The permutations of life on earth are at least relatively finite. Massive changes plop down (fire. books. electric light. plastic) and switch up the dynamics endlessly, but there are so many endless variations, all playing themselves out. The infinite. In the finite. And back again.

___________

I want to end this post here, because there’s a completeness of the feeling I had and I fear going on much more will come from struggle and I want to come from curiosity and openness. but i’m not out of time, and so I want to continue to write. I’ve spent so much time on the Udemy writing I have somewhat neglected these postings. but only kindof. isn’t that the story of my life. i am ready to transcend the stories, perhaps exactly through including them, but that’s another story. The next story I want to talk about is grief. and i still have 5 minutes. so here we go.

In my experience of grieving my health and the missed expectations, I imagined my grief sitting next to me on a porch, looking at a stunning view. Most of the time we just sat there, me and grief. sometimes we talked, but not too much. it didn’t necessarily change my pain, but it changed my relationship to the pain. Whether or not you are in pain we can all learn from this lesson of presence, befriending the ostracized and just being.

Spending time in this way, I began to accept my body as a teacher, as an instrument of life itself, expressing. I turned my attention to fulfilling my role: tending my time, feeding and caring for my body, choosing my worldview. And my worldview mostly looked like: I am certain i can make a best of this. Little did I know. It began to make the best of me. But that’s another story…

Allowing the grief, feeling where it sits in the body, relaxing into it and breathing. Asking it questions. Feeling the changes, listening to them. spending time just being in a state of listening – not a state of thinking, but a state of feeling. I read the other day that you can’t do both at the same time, and in my experience over these several days, as i am present in the body my mind pauses, but then i pop back into it to report on whatever that feeling was so i can judge it as good or bad or anything else. That dynamic usually gets a fraction of a second in a feeling state and the next 30 seconds- to several hours- thinking about it. That’s the pattern we’re changing the ratio on. More feeling, breathing, smiling – it naturally pushes aside the worrying, fretting and trying to control. just for a second. but, oh, what a second.

I love them so much I want to be a collector. but the only way you can collect present moments is in the present moment, but you get all of it instead of the piddly little bit we allow ourselves as we are rushing to “do”

 

i’m doing it again

May was a difficult month. Sometimes that happens. It is a little easier when it is happening in May because there is so much beauty in the spring’s dance to summer, but uncomfortable feelings, difficult emotions, worries and fears have a way of making that only mild solace. And then of course when the moment’s awareness says, “just another thought!” and the flowers gain a little color until the next time my mind takes the bait.

Often, when I am having a difficult time I will put myself into puzzles or little things that help  me feel like even though I might be the most deluded and ineffectual people in the world (<– that person took the bait!) at least I can bring order to this string of colors or numbers or game. Sometimes it helps. It is fleeting, like everything else. But my body is trained to enjoy “accomplishing something” or “finishing a task” or “being smart enough.” It’s an interesting technique. It’s helped me (see Candy Crush, CMFT entry last year). And I’m happy to have little wins when my mind seems tuned to “dreary FM”.

Reading Jack Kornfield’s “After the Ecstacy, the Laundry” and it is so refreshing because it basically talks about the fact that awakening is a process that has highs and lows. We hear a lot about the highs, and less about the lows – the bouts of depression before and/or after a period of enlightenment or integration. It’s part of the truth of life: ebbs and flows. In theory, the Realized Master is whole in both ebb and flow. Getting there – getting to wholeness much less the ability to maintain it in good times or bad – is a process. Spiritual lottery may hand out the occassional all-access pass to permanent divine awareness (really? permanence? we know better than that), but for the most part, that human is in there, too, gumming up the works. Making bad decisions. Responding poorly (because it’s not responding, it’s reacting). And compassion is hard to come by when there’s so much evidence we’re wrong. And that’s why compassion is so freaking important.

also in the book, the fact that the Dalai Lama had never heard of self-hatred and when he learned how many experienced it just in the room with him, he wept. What a horrible concept! And, like everything else, self-hatred is a spectrum, and there are plenty of acceptable forms of it culturally. There are acceptable forms of lots of very destructive things. And so we have to listen to a different call. The call of the heart. Of knowing how you lean, and in what you root. And rooting in compassion, for self and others, is obviously the right choice. but it’s more than a choice, it is a series of choices. one after the other, day after day. I have a lot of evidence that I didn’t act with compassion and I could have. But we all must forgive ourselves. It us our mind and these trains of thought that hold us hostage. Totally self-imposed.

Tai Chi was also, as usual, excellent today. I was a mess. but it was excellent.

what if just being who we are is enough?

I have this pipedream of Josie going to Idyllwild Arts for 11th & 12th grade. It’s crazy expensive and we have a long, long list of priorities before we drop that kind of cash. As in, we could do another trip or Josie could go there. I might even pick that. But, brainstorming ideas, I thought, “what if i followed the ittybiz example and charge $250 to reframe an issue?” I am an expert reframer. It made us laugh. what if we could fund our lifestyle with me just doing what i do.

and why not? mostly because who gives a shit what I have to say. I mean, i typically try to spin an inspiring, you’ve-had-the-power-all-along type tale, I’m wrong as often as i’m right and it’s really just another story. And who needs stories. I mean, the world needs stories, but do we? Aren’t stories just the things we get caught up in and lose sight of who we truly are?  I don’t really want to contribute to that. And I don’t want to pretend I have all the answers. But what I do have are endless approaches for feeling your way through something, getting from point a to point b.

But, it would be nice to do something i’m naturally good at and facilitate something cool for our family. wow, it’s been a long time since I contributed to the finances, though i have drained quite a bit. I am cognizant of this, and honestly it has been a huge part of the conversation in my head around the struggle to believe in worth without action. where’s the evidence of my worth. how can just being me be enough? I was entirely resistant to the idea, which made my forced stillness all the more difficult to bear. and it wouldn’t let me out until i could get there. and got there, i did. mostly. i spent a long time getting to the point that i genuinely could feel my own value despite not having a roster of “why” it was valid. Then something shifted, and while i still struggle with it from time to time, the path back to wholeness in the present moment becomes easier and easier to see. I have enough practices – I’m like an agent with a rolodex – there’s a path to anything/anyone.

As I write this Udemy course, slowing down/stillness becomes broader and broader, deeper and deeper. which is exciting because i think i could probably do a whole bunch of these courses just with the material i’d originally intended just for the first one. I’m contemplating writing down how many minutes per day i spend in tai chi or meditation. i’m drawn by the accountability aspect, and the tracking with general well being, but i also don’t want to make it a show. or is it already a show and that makes it more transparent? things to be thinking about as this all develops.

I am clear Evolving is my sole goal. it includes every other goal. and that teaching is a method of learning and I want to keep the flow of learning, so it’s time to share my practice  and actively show up in the world, so this is my obvious (only?) next step.