Monthly Archives: September 2019

flare ups

Flare ups teach me a lot, but i never know if i’m fully getting the message. I think there is some very direct potential learning that i keep somehow completely overlooking, but, nonetheless, i always get some form of learning. You’d think I’d learn (more/better/faster) but i am inching my way long.

Yesterday’s lesson was that I’ve got very, very nice practices to apply to nearly fill a day with. Yesterday, moving involved agony, so I didn’t move a whole lot. It REALLY made me realize how much I’d been moving, how I was practically normal since maybe June and then *poof* whether it was the weather, poor food choices, the humiliation of being ghosted by my willingness to take a real stretch of a job, or some other factor, yesterday was a day of stillness. I spent a fair bit of time just focusing on my body and relaxing. I spent a fair bit of time imagining making VR stories of The Biggest Little Farm, I spent a fair bit of time …

well, i spent a fair bit of time recognizing how relentless my brain is at spinning doomsday stories.

being Bodyful counters that, so I have the reservoir of stored experience of feeling at peace in the present moment, in total connection with Life Itself and all of nature – which makes the mental construct so freaking uncomfortable. My mind spinning stories of all of my failure and hopelessness and the need for several key shifts to be anywhere near OK.

Then, ok, interesting thought, where does it come up in the body?

then accessing the peace. releasing resistance. spending a few breaths like that, then, like an addict, looking at all of the evidence that says, ‘this is not ok.’ and having to endure that pain (worse than the physical pain) until i remember, finally, to go back to the body.

So funny that a body in pain feels better (easier, more contained, more manageable) than a mind in pain.

The sources of the mental pain may be true, and may not be. The validity of the evidence of insufficiency is not in question. the question is: is this my best choice? is entertaining and mourning the evidence and spinning potential scenarios of ruin or supernatural saving – is that a creative act? Is that helping me open to more love, freedom and relationship? That’s a pretty solid “no.” and so I go  back into my body and relax. and it takes about 30 seconds for my doom scenario to restate the evidence that right now at this very second, things are careening down a very bad pathway, and if i don’t make some changes soon, <insert sad, dangerous, inescapable scenario here>. …then i have to notice (mostly by my depleted attitude) i’m on the wrong track again, and breathe into the body and recognize my constant interchange with nature… and that lasts for however-many breaths before I move into my next fear-based assessment of me personally or my life in general. It’s exhausting.

But, boy am I glad that I get the reprieves! Those moments in the body, where the future isn’t present, my inadequacy is replaced by my being. The peace of those few breaths is in such stark contrast to the stories my mind spins – it’s enough to make me committed to more breaths like that because they are so peaceful and the mental space is so agonizing. Obviously, I’d like to be evolved enough to constantly be in presence, but constantly is made up of a whole lot of moment-by-moment choices. I’m committed to engineering my ratio to be in peace more and more often. And then, at a certain point, it’s like, “why do i think these things at all?” and is it possible to have the story of not-enoughness become as weird and inaccessible as the stories of instant manifestation is to me now?

I don’t know what my role on earth is or is supposed to be, but I do know that the fullness of my being is here in service of love, freedom and relationship – all inclusive,  all encompassing. Dedicating myself and my time thusly, I can be in a relationship of harmony with All That Is, knowing that whatever I encounter is exactly served up for the evolution of my soul and the opportunity for me to meet life with blessing (instead of fear) is the single most important choice I’ll make in any given moment. My habits reflect a worldview of just keeping my head above water, and even then only barely, interspersed with periods of flow and entitlement (that hurts to admit). It is dropping into my body again and again and again that i begin to develop more substantial habits, consciously chosen from a loving and surrendered mindset.

This is the work.

 

walking the talk

I’m not proud of these last couple of months, struggling to find a job… it didn’t start out as struggling, it just started out as scary change whose time had come. A month of rejection brought it into struggling, reaching an apex this week in my willingness to do anything and being ghosted by a job i probably shouldn’t have been willing to do anyway.

Today a friend asked, “what does your gut say” and I had to admit, even doing body fulness practices every day, i have not been listening to my gut. My gut is not worried at all. When i check in with my body there is crazy amounts of stress in my head, but only a latent energy in my gut. My gut is not worried. My gut is a little curious, but mostly just focused on its own wholeness, the wholeness of my body and the interconnectedness of all things.

Which is why I’ve been ignoring it.

Because that shit is great, but as my net worth declines, my mental malcontent rises and begins working to solve the problem. and the problem is not cooperating. the problem that my body is not concerned about but my mind is getting increasingly freaked out about. And therefore, increasingly ignoring the body – in fact, being a little annoyed that the body isn’t more on the bus of this very obvious problem.

that should have been my first clue.

i wrote a post on FB once, “I’m not enlightened, but I’ve tasted it and I know you don’t need anyone else to change.” and then doing the bodyfulness practice, I’ve recognized that when I am grounded in my body, I deeply want everything to be in that place of connection. I do NOT want things to put some outer priority ahead of that space. I want, for myself and others, that connectedness to come first.

I’ve not been living that way. Or at the very least not in relationship to employment or financial wellness. For that, I feel it perfectly reasonable to allow my head to be in charge. Spectacular mistake.

I am not at my best, this much is certain. I’m allowing the world’s responses to me to be the barometer of my value. I thought I knew better.

And this is why I am so grateful for the practice. As Eric Klein taught me, it’s about building the muscle to come back to center. Straying is not the problem, straying is the cue. And, yes, i wish i could’ve gone through these months with less stress and confusion and sadness. that would’ve been nice. But, just like I’ve counseled dozens of people, when you think you know something, the universe says, “marvelous, dear; show me”

and i immediately panicked, as if i hadn’t been practicing three times per day for months and months.

so, while i had tried to make September “destiny is inevitable” month – taking away the power of anyone else or anything else – even my own failure – to stop the flow of life itself and the natural unfolding of my own entelechy. I allowed my insecurity to move me into ever lamer versions of trying to fix. So, today, I’m going to try to allow my insecurity to move me into greater curiosity, then find it in my body and relax it, no matter how badly I want to use all of the evidence that I am hopeless to panic my being. I’ve just been ghosted by a jock strip mall manager. The comedy alone should validate a day off from the sad, scary story my mind is making so real.

something new

I met a friend for lunch today in the wine country of Temecula. She’s an amazing person, and it’s always an adventure meeting up with her. Todays adventure included spending part of the afternoon with the owner of the winery, a really personable and knowledgeable guy. I learned some very interesting things:

  1. the difference between casks and barrels
  2. that barrels are the size a strong man can roll up a gangplank
  3. a bottle of wine is about what a person would drink in a day in the middle ages
  4. wine has both pre- and probiotics

I haven’t been much of a drinker this past decade (although I still don’t think i’ve quite caught up with what might have been overconsumption for the two and a half decades prior) but speaking with this gentleman made me wonder if perhaps I should experiment a little more with some reds. It also made me realize I want to be in a beautiful place using my smile and welcoming attitude to brighten people’s days like the many smiles at his estate brightened mine.

I’ve been ghosted by the job I (thought I) got – and to add insult to injury, i read an article today that the job market is so open, people are simply not showing up on their first day of work. It’s a bit humiliating, and generally disappointing. But, life is like that sometimes, and resilience is truly an important skill/attribute. I spent my evening in a strange combination of anger, frustration, acceptance and shame, trying to feel -and release- the emotions as they came up. This has been a trying escapade, and i look forward to getting on the other side of it.

touching

I’ve been a little sad that I haven’t been able to design a communication method or platform to really have an impact with all of these gorgeous visions of human life on earth that I am privileged to soak up (Paul Selig, Byron Katie, Tara Brach, Thomas Hübl, Martha Beck,Rupert Spira, Mooji,  Vedanta, Perelandra, etc). The current socio-political environment is so disorienting and maddening, I really wish I could offer the peace and potential I feel more effectively. When I try, I seem to bump into brick walls, and that’s sort of exhausting, so I’ve resigned myself to continue trying (Thomas Hübl talks a lot about the importance of taking your part in the stream – letting things flow through you as you receive them – and this makes sense to me and I want to do it, so even though at this point it feels largely fruitless, I am committed to making sure I keep a channel open) while taking a new approach to more practical matters like exchanging time and talent for money.

Today a woman came into the monastery where I volunteer. I liked her vibe. Turns out, she’s moving to Michigan very soon and I was delighted she was able to soak up some of the good vibes at Trabuco before her trip.

As she’s leaving, she tells me she was in several months ago and I gave her a poem, and she’s carried it and she and her husband have been slowing down and indeed that visit to Trabuco (which, as soon as she mentioned it I knew exactly when she came) is part of the reason they’ve decided to move back to Michigan.

And so, as I embark on this next aspect of my journey, it was nice to know that something I shared had a nice impact on someone’s life and process. Curating things so the right message meets the right person at the right time is very special, and full of grace.

Here’s the poem, which I came across via Elizabeth Gilbert, in case it might mean something again:

Clearing ~ Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

humble

I’m up later than I want to be, but I want to write and capture my state here tonight…

I got a job today. A job I’m not particularly excited about, but still grateful for. I’m glad for the opportunity – I sent out hundreds of resumes to crickets and rejections, so someone who is actually interested in hiring me – and has a job that pays money – is a welcome relief. I’m excited to be out in the world a bit more, and given that my current spiritual practice is to recognize the Divine in Everything, it should give me all kinds of good opportunity, but I’m also wildly disappointed it’s not sexier or more interesting. I’ve had sort of a charmed life, and this is an extremely mundane job so it feels kindof “off” but again, it’s here and open to me in a great field of not open to me, so it’s the obvious choice of what is next.

I am glad I separated my ‘work in the world’ from ‘job’ and I think that having a job and contributing to my family income may just fuel the work i feel is so natural to me and important. So, that’s a nice prospect. And the truth is I may be able to be of service to people in this role. That would be nice. And small, unappealing things have become quite great in my life several times before, so who knows what might happen.

I have SO MANY IDEAS of really good things I could do in the world and how i might be an asset to so many different kinds of companies or organizations, but NONE OF THEM CARE. It’s humbling. a little disheartening. certainly it makes me question my value and my worth. But hasn’t that been the journey? Hasn’t an enormous aspect of this journey been separating my worth from some need for action? That line from ACIM that says, “I am content being wherever He wishes knowing He goes there with me..” and then I want to get fussy about where I think would be better? OK, mundane job: I’m yours. and I’ll be there with a smile, regular prayer and blessing, and the best performance I can muster. Everything is of God or nothing is. There is no order of difficulty in miracles.

My desire to be special and interesting and charmed is very much pales in comparison to my desire to be of service and to engage in life with openness and curiosity, yet faced with the prospect of people knowing i’ve taken a menial job, a part of me is embarrassed and ashamed. I guess this is my next opportunity to grow, to anchor myself in the truth of the moment and not the picture I’d like to paint. To quit valuing things based on my perceptions and be in touch with the life flowing through all things in the moment.

So, I’m happy, and i’m a little sad, and i’m curious and I do have this underlying feeling that something great may grow where and when i least expect it. If i strip away my ideas of what is not good enough, i’m actually kindof excited.

the singularity

I’ve never paid much attention to the idea of the singularity, which i understand to be the time when we can upload consciousness and be separate from our organic form. Sci Fi has never been my thing (and I may be totally wrong about what it means). Lately, though, I have been noticing that as a people, we do seem to be idealizing a world where everything goes according to a code that minimizes “undesireable” occurrances and replicates positive occurance after positive occurance, desiring to have a life where we walk from one garden path to the next. This shunning of the fullness of experience and myopic view of what is acceptable (i mean, really, how often do we mourn an occurrance only to find out it was the best thing that could have happened, ie, getting fired from a crappy, crappy job). I used to think it was Sci-Fi but now I am feeling it is what we, as a culture, are asking for as a way to avoid pain.

Avoiding pain makes all kinds of sense, it really does… I get it entirely and participated in said avoidance for decades. Avoid Pain At All Costs! That seems to be the marching cry of our modern world. But then there is this counter-cry: Hey! We’re Not Paying Attention to All of the Damage Our Way Of Life is Causing! This is complicated stuff, and I don’t pretend to have the answers. I do know, in my experience, that opening up to the fullness of experience has unplugged some of my desire for control and replaced it with curiosity, and that the peace of mind available from such a trade is more rewarding than even the biggest of my fleeting experiences of success with control. This may be old news to many people, but for recovering control freaks like me, it is a revelation. It also involves taking off the lenses of “things should go the way we want them to go” and by removing those lenses we can see the damage the endless pursuit of greater levels of attempted control have wrought.

I can feel it welling up in myself from time to time, especially in my intentions for my childrne: I want things to happen in this way so they don’t have to suffer. But is there a life without suffering? Is it possible? I know the Buddha’s father tried to keep suffering from his life without success. He was a king. I have far fewer resources.

I enjoy developing a sense of resilience in myself and in my kids. We had a real disappointment here this weekend, and there was grieving. And there was even a little too much contemplation of “how can we fix this” – something we noticed and unplugged so that the grief could run its course without reengineering the world to ‘make it better.’ We are capable of engaging with life in times of both disappointment and elation. We rarely can control which is coming our way, so we are attempting to build the capacity to receive either and both, just like we receive the benefits and costs of both winter and summer. Life is evolving through us, and life contains the multitudes.

I can see wanting to engineer the perfect life, defining it as without disappointment or pain. And it might even be possible. But, from what I can see in nature, pain often is a threshold to a greater level of living… if we engineer something, it is then defacto limited to our imagination – and while the human imagination is a marvelous thing, it can’t compare to the intricacy of creation, the seamless (though sometimes violent) interdependence of hundreds of thousands of life forms, migration patterns, soil aeration, etc.  The majesty of nature humbles me, and makes me grateful I am a part of it. There was a time when my arrogance would’ve lept at the challenge to engineer a more perfect world, but that was a time when my understanding of the fauna in the world contained the couple of dozen or so species, most of which I knew through zoos. So naive. So certain of her wisdom.

I truly believe all of life is God expressing, regardless of what it looks like. The singularity may be the most natural progression in the world. All I know is that I want to honor the unfolding of something so vast and creative it takes my breath away regularly. and I’m part of it. a part that can notice, and appreciate, and wonder. I like that very much, even though it includes some objectively unpleasant experiences, too.

all. everything.

I’m not sure how I came to think of things as “this” or “that” – but it’s a disservice to pidgeonhole life. everything is multifaceted, and expecting anything to be just one thing seems hopelessly myopic. Recognizing this more and more deeply, I see how much I’ve cut myself off from the fullness of life. If i thought I understood what a crayon was by a single issue, I’d have no idea of the colorful possibilities that awaited me. i’ve done that far too often.
Obviously, people: people are huge combinations of attributes, and then within each attribute there a spectrum possibility ranging from ‘well-fed and content’ versions to ‘scared and defensive’ versions of even one behavior. We are all so multi-dimensional, and how that expresses has such room for variation as well, it’s hard to believe how often i think i “know” someone, when we are ALL growing and changing beings – even the people who doggedly defend a limited identity and try to bend life to maintain it. 
I often learn the lesson of shifting realities when I revisit a restaurant at which i’ve had a great experience. if i make the mistake of singing its praises to someone, it is rare indeed that our next visit will resemble my first. then i’m stuck backpeddling. I really do find it about anything i get overly excited about. the pendulum swings back and I get to experience the disappointment of dashed expectations. It’s usually not a huge disappointment, but it is always a great lesson in appreciating things for being wonderful without ascribing a need for the wonderfulness to continue.
I get the value of consistency… it’s what made McDonalds famous, and I have to admit more than once while traveling I’ve been purely delighted to see a Starbucks, even though I rarely visit Starbucks. Knowing what you’re in for offers comfort.
But, I want to create and experience the evolution of life through me, so trying to replicate comfortable circumstances seems at cross purpose with my larger goal. Learning how to be open to a new intepretation of literally anything, this might provide a comfort with not knowing. Not knowing was an unfortunate condition to be remedied by the person I knew myself as prior to my illness. Not knowing has slowly and continuously become a mark of possibility, the idea I’m moving into new territory, something welcome and full of potential (instead of a mark of insufficiency – quite the trade-up).
Now I have the opportunity to take this learning (ironically about not knowing) and apply it to everything. Or better still, stop applying identifiers (that I expect to last) onto anything. Receiving life as dynamic (not just a rearrangement of yesterday) requires openness. Openness to the new. Even the new in what we think we already know.
I spent most of my life naming things, coming to understand things, putting bits of information into my memory to apply again and again at later times. Trying to know more, be more knowledgable, less surprised. I’ve never been much for material goods, but my ‘acquire, acquire, acquire” addiction was for knowledge. Knowledge that maybe was closing me off even whilst providing comfort.
The Tao Te Ching says (paraphrasing): The path of knowledge is adding something every day. The path of wisdom is releasing something every day. Thank heavens we can shift paths.