Monthly Archives: July 2018

life’s greatest adventure

pretty bold title. infinite answers. multitudinous possible stories, all of them true. and today I add my voice to the people who believe, maybe ALL of the stories are true, and what, do you might think, is the common thread? Present Moment Awareness and Openhearted Engagement.

Present Moment Awareness and Openhearted Engagement just might be Life’s Greatest Adventure, expressed in infinite ways in each of us and all of life.

I really do have to quit making proclamations, but once again I’m only saying it because it feels so true.

I get really enthused about present moment awareness, about being fully in the present and open to evolve into the future (since it’s the most natural thing in the world and none of us can help but do it). I personally see the first step as slowing down because that was the first step for me. for many people, speeding up may be what they finally need to infuse in their lives. [Martha Beck says, for people who like to talk about their problems, Stop Talking and Start Doing. For avoiders/workaholics who just run from the problem, Stop Doing and Start Talking. I love that!] We each have our own way, and we can’t help but move by what calls us – and to me the question is what are we listening to and are we aware of what we are heeding. It’s the grail question: What master do you serve?

I am enthralled by the breath techniques and meditative practices and mystical teachings. I get that that’s pretty niche. It serves me in my life so deeply, i can’t help but be enthusiastic and maybe of single mind.

Watching someone caught in a story and ignoring an invitation is difficult for me. I am a “fixer” by nature, and really only an empathizer pretty briefly before wanting to move on. My nephew’s death taught me that I really can’t fix a damned thing that counts, but when I see great big flashing neon lights about something, I can’t help but try. It’s back to my “disappointment panda” disposition. And sometimes it stops runaway trains, which is enough to encourage me to keep doing it.

I’m working on compassion, but I can’t help but identify with this guy…

 

every day is new

If you read the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*%” you’ll remember Disappointment Panda from chapter one. Disappointment Panda goes around telling people uncomfortable truths, just because someone needs to tell you and few people ever do. I am such a panda. It seems to be my lot in life to bring up uncomfortable truths. mostly it’s just holding up mirrors, or being unwilling to pretend the elephant is not in the room. It’s uncomfortable work, but we can, so we do. We’re not telling you for any other reason than it’s there to be told. No judgment, really not much emotion at all. It may be emotional for you. We’re sorry. But we have to do it because we know the truth will ultimately set us free.

I make a lot of mistakes. I’m not certain my average is growing, or if just my awareness is growing and so i’m seeing mistakes I simply didn’t previously see. How I respond to my mistakes is sortof the question of the time. I am getting gentler. on myself and on others. still a lot of room to grow there, but directionally I feel I’m facing the sun.

i see a lot of people suffering. really tormented by their minds and thoughts. i can absolutely relate because i gave myself an extremely hard time for a lot of my life. this is why feeling your body during a few breaths per day is so important – it drops you out of the thought-stream if only for a second. that makes the reintroduction just a tiny bit fresh. and the more you drop out of it, the fresher your take on it can be during visits, instead of the servitude of its constant captivity.

The only thing that has effectively kept me out of my panicked mind is dedication to evolving. My ultimate dream is to be a clear instrument of pure love and creative responsiveness. That’s about as lofty as I can make it, I think.  That’s the purpose I put first and I’ve been toying with the way forward being through the body, so feeling into my body and deep intentional breathing is the practice – sporadically throughout the day and once or twice on the cushion. It is working. My body has less inflammation, my mind defaults to a smile and curiosity really frequently and that brings me such relief. I’ve spent my life figuring out the advanced math of society’s expectations and my own failings, how I might compensate for them and what exactly I wanted to express. Those things don’t have the hold they used to. I focus on a couple of things:

  1. What do I want to create? What do I want to create in this situation? What is my very best outcome and what is the impact on myself and others? How do I take a step in that direction?
  2. What part of me feels wounded? Having the most resourceful and mature part of my psyche ask and invite the wounded parts to have their say. Nothing we can necessarily fix, but being present to myself and my perceived suffering with compassion and full attention. And then reminding the whole self about what I want to create, and refocus attention on that.
  3. What is first? Putting evolving first, which is the most natural thing in the world, I know that i need to relax into that which is natural. Taking a deep, intentional, expansive breath and relaxing into my body is *always* the *very best* activity, the very best answer to the thought, “what’s next?/what should i be doing now?” Evolving is also loving, and expansive. That’s how I know if i’m turned toward the sun.

These three thought tools help me keep peace between my ears and a tender song in my heart. Every step isn’t elegant, but the direction is so encouraging it is a pleasure to persist.

biblical times

My daughter was evacuated from art camp last night. An arsonist set part of the San Jacinto mountain range on fire, causing the evacuation of thousands and yet unknown damage. What is with us?

I am delighted to report my daughter is safe. Indeed, it is now 2 days later and while the fire rages on and the devastation continues it really speaks to the difference the actions of just one person can make. This instance, to the detriment of society. Let’s explore how much you and I can influence it to the positive.

Any random act of kindness could spur a national movement. Could happen. Does happen from time to time. Let’s always be trying to start one by engaging in radical acts of kindness and lightheartedness. If it catches on, great. If not, no problem. Edison went through 10,000 filiments or something before catching on to the one that worked. I can spend my whole life trying. Seems like one of the best ways to spend it, actually.

Looking at the world, it really is going to seed in a lot of places. There is some effed up shit going on. There are so many causes I feel deeply about – things that outrage me at a cellular level. I’ve scattered my energy trying to figure out where i could have an impact when really it is grounding my energy in my own life and moment-to-moment experience that has an impact. Be the change.

These are biblical times complete with plagues and fires and creepy cloaked figures. The death throws of a humanity based in scarcity and greed. It could kill us (as a planet) but it also just might birth a shared humanity of compassion and harmony, where life itself is sacred and cherished, each individual’s wholeness and inherent value is unquestioned. Life is full of curiosity and expression, not fear and finger-pointing.

I am experiencing a shift. The end times have come for the part of me that operates from habit, the unexamined walls shielding the unredeemed fears of the past, trembling that they may be discovered. doing anything to keep up the ruse.

Don’t worry friend in the cave. I am here for you. I extend my hand and offer to bring you into the light. the light that Jesus described, the light that sustains all of life. the light that ignites the soul.

The more we can explore our inner caves and offer olive branches to the parts of ourselves we most want to deny – this is integration. This is being a responsible adult. It is the “Grow Up”. of Integral’s “Wake Up, Grow Up, Clean Up, Show Up” which I love so much. The acceptance of the responsiblity is Grow Up, and the action of taking the responsibility and actually doing the work of bringing the threads together, collecting the dangerous beads on the floor and being the silk that connects them into a necklace… that’s the cleaning up. And then, wow. then, we can be powerful. That’s who I want showing up. The best parts of myself, fully supported by even the uncomfortable truths. That’s authenticity.

I’m making proclamations. Always a good time to stop.

times they are a changin…

We really are in crazy times. The unsustainable lifestyle in search of ever-elusive satisfaction cannot help but end. How it ends will be interesting, and as always, how it ends has everything to do with how each one of us ends it in our own lives… That is the practice. How are we personally evolving? But it is only part of the practice, because our interdependence is obvious, even if we’ve spun it out to the edge of reality through technology and isolation. Connection, in the old system, has broken down. How are we going to create connection in the new system?

I imagine it is going to look different, and honestly, I have no idea what it might look like. But, choice by choice, we’re creating it. And the more choices we are aware of making – the choices born in creativity and discernment – the fewer automated programs run. Because, the mature, heartfelt parts of ourselves were not the programmers for any of our habits. Something else was. And we, as adults, get to take them one at a time (or sometimes by the dozen) and evaluate if they are in alignment with our becoming. In alignment with what we want, what nourishes us and serves our relationships.

So, I am excited about focusing all day every day about evolution. The question keeps coming back to “What do you want to create?” I want to create a world where all the beings feel their wholeness, celebrate their interests, are valued by the other whole beings and into a community of wholeness. and these communities have all kinds of shapes and sizes, inner rings and sattelites… It is easy to see that the opportunities are limitless.

But, man. is it hard.

we do not share the same values with the majority of our neighbors in Orange County, CA (but, seriously, there are like NO bugs. at least no mosquitos, and that is a pretty big deal to me right now). And even when we do share VALUES, we don’t share execution styles, or schedules. and consequently, we are more isolated than we would like to be. i have considered all kinds of community-building activities, and reached out quite a bit for me, but to very little avail.

but that little? Enormously wonderful.

I believe that humans are on the brink of new ways of being in community, and I believe the isolation of myself and many of my favorite people and throngs of us in general, is just a growth-stage. And to just face the light. The growing happens naturally. The direction is up to us.

Where do we put our time, attention and money? These are the places we are creating. I am excited about advancing my lifestyle towards more and more activities aligned with my  personal values. I don’t want to support the consumerist culture where stuff equals worth with even a nickel of the money I steward. I was hemorrhaging support for child labor (Nestle – who owns dozens of brands. Really all of the candy companies. The children of the poor work day and night to give “sweet treats” to the children of the rich – an indulgence causing obesity, depression and disease. I have an idea. Maybe we stop.)

We have many cultural habits we need the courage (and simply the awareness that we are doing it) to break. Things are necessarily not transparent, and as we, as individuals and as a group, require transparency to engage and support, we can change the world. I bet quicker than everybody thinks. I think if people knew the ultimate desitnation of their consumer choices, they would literally fall down and cry. We need transparency. And it’s complicated. but it’s not impossible. put the people from AARP on it (this is a joke because they are super effing efficient about letting you know you’re turning 50).

planetary awakening

Life is all kinds of strange. and there have always been people on soap boxes with “the end is near” signs. but only the dudes toting those signs right now have the backup of our nuclear capacity and unstable governments backing up their theory. Things are devolving, that’s for sure, and new fresh sprouts are popping up everywhere as well. It’s all happening. Where are we on the spectrum at any given moment in time?

I am fascinated by the concept of planetary awakening, this thought that the earth and the humans on it are not just continuing business as usual. That something exciting is going on and that the future does not equal the past. Humans have come out of caves, plowed fields, and now touch glass to communicate across the globe. We’ve come a long way, and planetary awakening could possibly be what is next.

Even if it isn’t, it is where I want to be focused. I want to be focused on potential and possibility. I want my thought, energy, time, attention and money to be supporting things that LOVE the earth, LOVE the people on it, LOVE all of the life systems on it and are actively engaged in making things better for everyone. More Respect. More Love. More Laughter. Living from a sense of wholeness in ourselves and a recognition of wholeness in others and in all of life.

Once you’ve got that as your backdrop, any other backdrop is mundane as hell.

But, once you have that as your backdrop, every single breath is an opportunity to breathe it into life. Every interaction is a chance to exercise it. Every word an opportunity to align with it.

And you can feel if you’re doing it.

you feel good.

So, an exercise here is to take a deep breath and imagine you’re six years old and your mom just gave you a puppy. and it’s yours. and it’s adorable in every way. and it is SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU.

Feel where that is in the body. All the places, all the sensations. That’s your magnetic north.

Now, imagine where the puppy runs into the street and a car is coming. Feel the sensation that creates in your body.

That’s your magnetic south.

(i can certify that no animals were harmed in this exercise.)

Do stuff that makes you feel more north. That’s evolution.

When most of our days are spent navigating feelings of fear, worry, compensation, shame… that’s devolution.

Now, devolution can serve evolution. Teachers like Thomas Hubl have us going into the trauma to witness it and hold it and redeem it – which pivots it to evolution. But without that intention, that work, it’s just devolving. and it hurts.

A Course In Miracles tells us that eventually, everybody comes to: “There’s got to be a better way.”

So far, I can speak highly as an evolutionary mindset as a much better way.

observed phenomena

youd think i’d know better, and i did even as i wrote yesterdays title, but i wanted to document a feeling.

I’ve noticed this for years. as soon as we comment on how well the children are getting along, they start fighting. As soon as I acknowledge any sort of awesomeness, it changes.

Change is the nature of things, that’s for sure, though we’re often looking for states to become somewhat permanent. I found this especially confusing when the kids were younger and I would finally get a schedule in place and have really just a day or two of “hey! this is working” and some randomizer would pop up and shift everything.

I often feel that i signed up for the constant change program.  I am certainly more interested in change than most people I meet, and I guess as soon as we get some mastery is a fine time to move on to the next thing, but it is particularly unnerving when the universe does it for you.

I had a particularly good, somatic sense of lightness yesterday. Today is different. Each day, even each section of any given day, has many flavors and textures. Our subtler experience of any phenomena can only be accessed when we address the macro.

What’s exciting is that i don’t need to feel as good as i felt yesterday to be ok. i finally have some understanding that the changeability is a boon. That impermanence is my friend. That the value of my being is not dependent on the experience i am having.

Swami Vivekananda says you can think you are the cat’s meow, as long as you are certain everyone else is, too. I love that. And it’s been super fun to incorporate…it is not what i was used to. i think i was used to either inflating myself and disdaining others, or just as commonly belittling myself while mystified at others’ capability, or having figured out some magic formula. parts of the path, perhaps, but really an unpleasant worldview to be walking around with. damn. bad preposition at the end of a sentence. i do that all the time. dang.

We are in this together. All of us. Like it or not. There are natural stages of development, and we’re all going through them all, or at least an unimaginably complex individual web. So, let’s just accept:

all life is sacred

know it or not, we are divine beings.

(knowing is enormously supportive)

we are evolving.

we can tell because that is the natural state of all expressions of life, so it’s really not that big a surprise.

evolution moves towards greater love, freedom and relationship

life is unfolding

there is so much we cannot control, and so much we control completely

this produces the dance of expressing ourselves in response to life

we do our best work when we are feeling wholeness

we contact wholeness through the body and the breath

throw in some devotion to life itself

heaven on earth.

even on the confusing days.

 

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.