More and More Slowing Down

There is no question that slowing down is benefitting my life in numerous and indescribable ways. As I learn more techniques, and as my value system adjusts, the practice deepens and the results are more grounded and grounding. Life gets less complex. And when I get caught up in a drama, it lasts for less time and, even better, I am able to try to expand my container to allow to drama to simplify (this, from Thomas Huebl, complexity being simplicity in the wrong size container. So rich.)

And so it makes perfect sense that I want more and more slowing down. I want to go out and acquire practices, learn new insights and techniques and perspectives. But all of that is a doing, and that is part of the old paradigm that is needing to shift. Lord knows I have enough tools. Lord knows if I could integrate and apply all of the knowledge I’ve learned, I’d surely be fully One with the Universe by now.

Of course, that’s the ticket, isn’t it? We are one with the universe at every moment in time, aware of it or not. Breaking the urge to go out and acquire more learning, and just rest in that one principle, that one truth. The full feeling of the physical and biological reality. We are made of star stuff. Nothing more. Nothing less. This great cosmos is our Mother. We are made of her because every atom in existence is Her, and therefore we are trillions of bits of her rolled into one mobile device.

Ha. We are a mobile device. That’s a funny thought. Probably leads me to ascribe more value to humans than I ever have before, because I certainly feel mobile devices add a lot of value to the human life. Geez, I felt that way when it was my ridiculous suitcase of a phone, but now, with the internet in your pocket. Mobile devices provide A LOT of value.

I love Bruce Lipton’s (or at least that’s where I heard it first) that the internet is the neural network of a shared humanity.

So, back to this mobile device concept. What value do we, in our portable package, offer God? I’ve heard “God craves experience.” We are certainly having experience. And to eat Il Posto’s black truffle risotto was in no way similar to any descriptions of it. But why are those peak experiences (really, really tasty dinners) few and far between? I suppose to provide the contrast to set them apart.

Another concept that has been evolving and unfolding in my mind is that Life Itself has placed us here to anchor love. Everything else we do might move the needle a little up or down, but the bulk of our work here is really simply to be. Now, part of being is going to involve a certain amount of action for most people, but -and this is key- the being is the important part. So that activity is non-essential to the individual value. This is a huge point for me when I’m immobile, and I have friends who are immobile and it is something that is very hard to come to terms with in our society. Maybe any society.

And so the desire for more is still a trap, even more of the good stuff. Like Krishna says in the Gita, it’s both aversions and preferences we need to release, not just the aversions. Collecting preferences is just as detrimental to the path of Liberation as wallowing in or cursing the aversions.

Practically Perfect

Growing up, my dad always cut my hair. I had some pretty bad haircuts. He would lure me into the chair telling me he was going to cut my hair just like Mary Poppins. I was probably 12 when I realized Mary Poppins had a bun. [Right? about the time VCR’s came out. back in the day when you saw a movie at 6 and just had to remember it, unless it was the “Movie of the Week” or something…]

Mary Poppins. Practically Perfect in Every Way. What a moniker!

Tucker and I had quite a bit of lively conversation about perfection back in the early days of our relationship. I spoke a lot about perfection – as in ‘imperfectly perfect’ like ‘that’s the perfect sweater for X because X loves gaudy sweaters.’ Tucker would get quite defensive about that indeed not being a perfect sweater by any means, even though it was suitable for X. Nuance.

It’s only now, 2 decades later, that I’m reflecting on that and I can see the deep well of conflicting concepts that sortof all existed in me and so thereby i saw them as unified. Not so.

I believe that God is in All Things. As in, God is everything and everything, collectively and individually, is God. That no separation exists between God and us or even that pesky mosquito. And even with that belief, I have a hard time with mosquitos.

I spent a lot of years trying to figure out what perfect was and then try to be it. In school it was easy: 100% on assignments and tests. Socially, it was far more complicated than that, and in retrospect I see that because I wasn’t going to meet any ideal in that spectrum, I sortof jumped off it. Exit, stage left. Which, paradoxically, put me in a more balanced relationship with the social aspects, but never did I try to achieve perfection in that arena. I guess I selected a few categories in which I had the potential to really shine and went for it. And maybe drove myself a little crazy.

Many years and an autoimmune disease later, I realized that in several key areas I was killing myself to achieve an imaginary goal with ever- changing and unreachable markers. Terrible idea. I’m glad my body brought it to my attention.

Now I cringe when I hear people say “perfect” much like Tucker doggedly insisted that even using it as a qualifier was both inaccurate and undesirable.

It’s a slippery slope, though. Josie’s last gymnastics meet a girl got a perfect score. It was a super big deal because that rarely happens (as Nadia Kominichi (sp) showed in I’m guessing the 1976 Summer Olympics). What if that girl had me as a parent? “Don’t worry about perfect, focus your attention on the joy of the sport.” She may well not have gotten a perfect score, and I’m certain it was quite satisfying. And fleeting.

Fleeting. Yeah, that’s a whole ‘nother subject. For example, the concept of the average American household having 2.6 children. So, if you’re going for average as your perfection, in real terms it doesn’t exist. But, even when it does exist, it’s fleeting. A fetus is only .6 of the way developed for a very short time. One day in March, you’re the average American family, but from that moment forward, notsomuch.

Believing that God is everything, everything, then, is perfect. It’s a pretty straightforward concept. Yet it doesn’t take much looking at the world in general or in literally anyone’s life to see that things are very far from “perfect.” But, that’s based on an ideal that cannot incorporate the fullness of the concept (Plato’s Universals).

I’ve come to believe that everything is perfect in a context I have yet to understand, and that in any of the contexts I can understand, perfection is nothing to seek. It is largely unattainable and fleeting when it is. And in a universe based on constant change, that, I think, is perfect.

What Do I Know?

“Very little,” is the answer to that question. I used to go around trying to collect knowing things so that I had all sorts of remarkable answers to that question. In fact, no one needed to ask the question. I would bask in interesting tidbits or insider information, or even just the proud egoic teen know-it-all in me that really thought I was acquiring some great stuff.

Now, I’m all about de-quiring. and In-quiring. Not much acquiring or requiring, thankfully. The less of those two, the better I feel. No question.

Brilliant people like Einstein knew more than I could ever hope to know and openly stated they knew a grain of sand of the beach of knowledge.

My favorite pastime was evaluating incoming information and how it stacked up to what I already knew. If it was in opposition, I could throw it out as “stupid,” if it was in alignment, I could pat myself on the back for already basically knowing it. All sorts of games. Mind games. Really wasteful uses of time and attention.

I find that the more open I am to rethinking what I used to “know” my world becomes more vibrant, more supportive, and more exciting. When I stick to the old structures I built, I am often angry and frustrated. Not a tough decision about which strategy I’d like to employ.

I see it with my kids all the time. I make assumptions about what they’ll do based on who they used to be. And they surprise me. And I’m thrilled. They are growing, evolving beings and pigeonholing them is just lazy. Not pigeonholing them makes life an adventure of discovery. Obviously a way better option.

I also find myself wanting things to go a certain way, as if I am the authority who should be obeyed. That doesn’t go so well. I see it with my health. I don’t want to do a certain intervention anymore. And I see conditions going in the direction that requires the intervention and just try to power through, employ other strategies, sing, dance and throw a circus, but in the end, I revert to the intervention. And I feel better. What was with that personal preference decision? Why do I do that? Even 3 years into Surrender as my primary practice, I am making ridiculous proclamations and trying to bend the world to my will. I may be nearing 50, but I am still a silly girl.

I have this fantasy that I will have gotten my “old age” over with in my 40’s. That gives me about 8 months. The fantasy involves Tai Chi and better habits resolving the physical issues, Surrender being such an enveloping practice the stereotypical “I like things the way I like them and that’s just that” mentality can’t get root, and I can reacquaint myself with vigor and energy in a way that’s been unavailable to me, but I can sense the potential.

I have an amazing role model for this in my mother, 81 and bopping around town like the prom queen. No medications, all sorts of interesting hobbies, a remarkable outlook on life and a great openness to adventure. She is absolutely a dynamo, with a positive outlook and open heart.

She developed this out of sheer force of will. When she was in her 40’s – oh the poor woman – 5 kids, dying husband, all kinds of drama. She had a permanent scowl when she was going into her 50’s. Not anymore, baby. When we brought it to her attention, she set herself on a course to change it and change it she did. And she really is one of the happiest people I know (how lucky am I?!). Funny how we emulate our parents even when we don’t recognize it. I am lucky I get to emulate her. That’s one of the few things I really know.

Reparenting Ourselves

Growing Up is hard. Being a parent is hard. Mistakes are inevitable. Glitches in the system happen. Growing beyond them is a choice we can make when we’ve slowed down adequately to identify what is going on in our psyche instead of trying to avoid it through busy-ness.

Michael Brown, in his book “The Presence Process” talks about these moments in time when we didn’t have the resources to process whatever was happening as energy packets stored inside of us. We built a shell around the feeling and put it on an internal shelf to come out when we had the presence of mind to address our old hurts and allow them, when they are ready (no rush, Mr. Brown is into presence, not transformation) to literally fuel our unfoldment and upliftment. He says it way better than this and I recommend his book highly. If we keep the offending incident encased and inside, it is a burden. When we are present to it without judgement, it releases the energy we need to move forward. Beautiful.

No parent is perfect, and even if one was, we have no idea what incident spins the psyche. Something that wouldn’t have bothered me at all yesterday strikes a chord today and sticks. Who could know this? And with work and the maintenance of a household, someone can’t be completely present to a kid all day every day. I believe that’s a good thing. This process doesn’t blame inadequate parenting even if your situation truly was inadequate. It takes your life up until now as the full set of resources you need when coupled with your present moment awareness to open up to the grand luster of the universe’s absolute devotion to you.

I’ve been doing a bunch of reparenting exercises lately and it’s been quite fun. Diving into sticky memories that carry some sort of disturbance and basically time-traveling and being fully present to that-aged me. I get to give myself some sage advice. I get to appreciate the courage and tenacity of my younger self.  I get to take responsibility for myself up and down the timeline all at once, and instead of feeling burdened by it,  I feel freed.

Reparenting really is about taking responsibility for yourself, and extending every bit of wisdom and every bit of caring towards yourself. There’s something we don’t do all the time, or at least I rarely did. All self-conversation was either about what I did wrong or even if I did it right, how I could improve it next time. Or being impatient with myself for one reason or another. This idea of approaching myself, now or my memory, with the same care and attention I would treat my most cherished friend or child – oh, it’s just lovely. It’s a pleasant mental exercise at the least. Having done this from time to time over the years, though, and having what used to be very triggering topics or situations find their balance, this process may be a contributing factor to the energy shift that makes life a more gentle and exciting place to be.

 

Slowly, we keep growing

Culturally, the story indicates we spend our childhoods growing and our adulthood being that person we grew into in a variety of different situations. I think that’s bunk. In my experience, we’re always growing, and to expect us to be fully baked and now with new backdrops isn’t possible or desireable.

I remember well being in 2nd grade and feeling that I knew who I was. I didn’t know how I fit in by any means, but I had a sense of myself. When I spoke of it, people often told me to wait until I got older, that things would change. That “wait until you’re in high school…things will change” “wait until you get your driver’s license, things will change” continued to happen, and while “things” did change, “I” didn’t, even though they all indicated I would. I remember being in high school and teachers telling me that college professors would never put up with x, y, or z (and in my experience, they cared far less than those high school teachers did about x, y or z). My common experience was that people kept telling me that where I was wasn’t enough that the organized world would eventually reveal itself to me and I would need to make the necessary changes to keep up. What a crock.

What if we taught kids that the sense of themselves they have is good and valid, and will continue to grow and evolve as new situations arise. I mean, maybe some people already do that, and maybe even my experience was different than I perceived it. But my kids are 10 and 15 years old and they haven’t changed since they were babies. They are amplified, more complex expressions of the distinct individual identities they came in with. It’s actually kind of weird. And kindof awesome. It’s like a rose that is blooming very slowly and I am walking around it looking at it from different angles and with different lights I’m shining. Our family motto is, “we are changing, growing, evolving beings.” This is because I would pigeonhole my kids based on a past behavior and when they outgrew it, I would still carry that perception around (ie. “doesn’t like potatoes”) long after the truth of the statement had passed. I developed the motto to deter me from holding them to who they used to be, and to encourage them to feel comfortable with their preferences and interests changing, and that being natural and not a threat to their identity.

Because I think that we can identify with a bunch of weird shit, and we get attached to weird concepts of self that would have naturally fallen away if we weren’t running around collecting “isms” that we used to define our sense of who we are. I believe up and through early adulthood we are trying things on, seeing what fits, practicing how we want to show up in the world. And then I believe we’re encouraged to sort of pick a set of attributes and run with it for the rest of our lives.

And thus, the personal development industry is called “self-help” and looked down upon as being for people who are unstable, who have a problem or are full of problems. Because adults are supposed to be stable and functional with all of that practicing we did prior to adulthood. Even though the world has changed. Even though it’s the most natural thing in the world that we continue to change as well.

Ishaya’s Ascencion teaches that the ego would naturally fall away in early adulthood in a culture where we weren’t so desperately trying to distinguish ourselves. And, in my experience, it’s only in adulthood that I had the maturity to sit in the center of my being and allow my expression to be whatever it would be, and have me be ok with that. Like the gentleman at the monastery who told me I keep re-inventing myself. Uhm, not really. I’m just not stuck in a hairstyle and clothing style or level of intro- or extravertion. I change a lot. But I’m still just me.

Most of the books I read are spiritually based, because I find them inspiring and relieving and the highest goal of my life is to realize, embody and express the divine to the best of my ability. And I believe right now, while I’m operating at the best of my current ability, I’m pretty sure with some training I can be on the continual improvement program. Comfortable and happy with where I am in the moment, but reaching to a higher, more refined expression. I don’t want to be a fixed person with different backdrops. I want to experience and express life in ever-expansive ways. I don’t want to defend my personality, my attributes, my strengths or my weaknesses. I want to evolve. I want to be open and willing to meet life in new ways all the time.

So, yeah. I read what a lot of people call self-help (I also read a lot of what people call novels, and fantasy, and cookbooks, and autobiographies). I got a little defensive about it today (because someone said the words to me, and then on a TV show, “young Sheldon” learned that self help books were for adults who couldn’t cope with their lives. And maybe sometimes that’s true. Perhaps even often. But every time I open up a little deeper, release a little more and notice the flow of life in my life, I guess it’s worth the derision.

Slow and Steady

I really didn’t care for “slow” most of my life. In truth, I disdained anything slow. Progress, forward movement, change – these were my values. In that rush to work towards an imagined future free of the turmoil and problems of the current moment, the thought of “slow” was everything I was resisting. And of course we all know, what you resist persists.

Running away from “slow,” upending it, thwarting it by whatever means possible, was indicative of my running away from the realities of my life and psyche. If I could get to the time of improved conditions (though hard work, relentless effort and a whole lot of imagining), the discomfort in my mind would stop. It would have to, conditions would finally be conducive to the real me in all of my undiscovered glory.

Yeah, that never worked.

Why would I even have that expectation? How does one develop such a strategy? I see it now as a cultural affliction. I’m really sad that I’m almost 50 years old and learning what seem to be really basic tenets of health, wellness, and use of the body. Seriously, I’ve been in this body all this time and had such a superficial understanding of how it works, what it needs and what it can do. How is this not elementary level stuff? How is our educational system so focused on the 3 R’s (which totally encapsulates the probem) and so profoundly negligent on necessary information for humans on earth? We have such poor practices in cultivating healthy, thriving humans. This is evidenced by the disarray of our political, social and economic conditions. We literally ignore health (physical, emotional, mental), discernment, cooperation, respect. I mean, look at the children’s game “musical chairs.”

Today I listened to Ken Wilber discuss “The 3 Selves on the Journey to Waking Up and Growing Up” and while I have never been able to make it through one of his books, this presentation was excellent. I have to shift my self-perception a bit from “not a Ken Wilber fan” to perhaps someone who is ready to explore more of his work.

He has 4 areas of attention, Waking Up (spiritual), Growing Up (psychological health), Cleaning Up (shadow work) and Showing Up (service). Within these, we all go through the process of development to as far a stage as we are willing to work towards, including the development from ego-centric, to ethnocentric, to world-centric, to integrated. I would imagine this development as the focus of our educational system would yeild far different results.

You can’t speed through this stuff. We have to go back and sit with whatever it is we are running away from.      Sit. Stay. Heal. This is not something that is suggested in our culture. Indeed, I get pretty frustrated by our cultural obsession with individuals whose problems then surprise us (as if anyone doesn’t have problems).

This is not something that is suggested in our culture. Indeed, I get pretty frustrated by our cultural obsession with individuals whose problems then surprise us (as if anyone doesn’t have problems).

I wonder who I would be if I had not developed my fast-paced, conditions-oriented, try to ‘fix it’ orientation in the world. I would certainly be a very different person than the person I am now.

Today is very disjointed writing.

It’s hard for me to believe how much I value slowness now. It’s hard to reconcile with who I used to be, and having to “die to who I was” is really the only way I can fully accept who I am now and am becoming (because it doesn’t really reconcile with who I used to be, as in, that person would’ve hated me. i just feel a lot of compassion for that person).

As I contend with these kinds of thoughts, this kind of disjointed expression and my feelings about how it relates culturally, witness consciousness and deep breathing are really the only helpful strategies. I think I could use another session of meditation today.

 

Surrendering, with Michael Singer

No, this is not an interview with Michael Singer. But, this is a mid-book journal, reflecting on his life and experience, my life and experience and surrender as a release of selfishness and the acceptance of universal cooperation. Since looking up the definition of surrender the other day, I’ve been frustrated by the synonyms. It’s not defeat. It’s not giving in to an enemy.

Unless love itself is an enemy of the mind. And of the rational mind, yes, i guess it is. But who is the enemy to peace? certainly not surrender. the rational mind is an enemy to any potential of peace for most people.

I’m glad I didn’t know about this book in the earlier stages of my personal surrendering practice, because I may have started to fantasize about what surrendering could get me. Man, oh, man, am I glad that thought process didn’t ignite.

I realize that even my most altruistic ventures always had this sense of “and then i’ll be grand” attached to it. It’s creepy to me now. I really felt having a rosy vision of the future was important in goal setting. I thought a lot of things that I am no longer interested in and indeed saddened that I ever ascribed to.

The first company i ever started I named I. HOJON Productions. The name is an acronym for In Honor Of Jesus Of Nazareth. Coming fresh from a Japanese degree, and having that acronym sound vaguely Asian, I looked it up thinking the characters may make a good logo. The company was intended to produce cultural awareness shows for kids representing as many communities as we could. In the Japanese dictionary, the phonetic I. HOJON broke into ai (love) Ho (many definitions, one of which was *hmm.. i’m having a hard time remembering and don’t want to interrupt writing to look. maybe abundance. ho has a lot of potential definitions) and zyan (innocence, purity and/or net as in profit). Seemed like a match made in heaven!

This site, kriyativity, comes from the name of an action figure company we started to represent the heroes of Indian cosmology – truly epic superheros. But, the connection to kriya yoga made the name another shoe-in in my life.

But, names don’t matter. The idea that these ideas were coming from and for me to birth in the world with my smarty pants brain and willing to be a mule work ethic, well, it was not right. Obviously. All the good intentions in the world can’t overcome the bullshit ego crap I didn’t even know I had, much less was willing to get rid of.

I have uncountable flaws. I get this. Part of this human condition for me is accepting myself despite them, and being willing to surrender my identification with them in the moments they reveal themselves so kindly. I remember the moment when the yin/yang symbol revealed itself in my body, letting me know that I can never erase all of the black parts (and spot) and just be this glowing white being. Beginning the shadow work became less frightening with that invitation.

And still, the shadow work progresses in my life, as does the ascending work, and I trust the universe to provide me with the tools and circumstances to keep the process moving along as it should. For so many years I was sad that I’ve never had a direct spiritual teacher, that i thought i was ready but no one showed up. I learned to receive my teacher both in my heart and in the bounty of spiritual literature and that has kept me quite busy and progressing in palpable ways.

Earlier, when I said I was just a little jealous… i don’t feel that now. I can see my reliance on personal preference over the years, the personal responsibility I felt to do, accomplish, shepherd things, and painfully, the aggrandizement of my ego — not simply act as the instrument. I think i figured that because my intentions were based on understanding, learning, oneness … that my ego was spiritual and thereby deserving of sticking around. How funny is that? I mean deluded, of course. And I never recognized it. I’m pretty sure I would’ve given an eloquent and convincing (only to me) argument on why it really was appropriate. Today I both see that it’s not, and see the construct I’d set up for myself so that I could keep believing that it was. It’s a big deal for me. I’m grateful. Thank you, Mr. Singer.

Desire

This isn’t about wanting cars and status. This is about wanting peace. Enlightenment. Samadhi. This is about regaining what has been experienced in brief glimpses of eternity. People talk about flow, and the cessation of the inner dialogue, and we’ve all had these moments I guess. I know I’ve had a few. And I’ve had a few extremely powerful spiritual experiences that at once opened my heart and conversely, made me aware of what I am missing in my every day waking state.

Swami Yogeshananda, a gentleman on whom I should write a longer post because he’s quite interesting, said: “the difference between a spiritual experience and a dream is that the dream fades, but a spiritual experience is never forgotten.” Damn straight.

So, I am currently reading Michael Singer’s “Surrender Experiment” (i put it in quotes though i sense that’s not the full title).

As I began my slowing down/healing journey, I realized that spiritual practice based on reading and discussing holy books was not quite going to cut it. I needed a practice, much like meditation, that could guide my daily activities. When I found the Ramakrishna Monastery (again, deserving of it’s own post because it’s such a special place) the first talk I was able to attend was by a nun named Sevaprana and was titled, “Forgiveness.” Her talk was excellent and gave me lots of fodder to apply forgiveness in my daily life, as a practice, as my primary spiritual pursuit.

Turns out, forgiveness is quite a profound spiritual practice, and definitely another post. And as forgiveness went to work on me, it transformed itself into Surrender. This was in winter 2015 and the first book I read on the subject was Hawkins’ “Letting Go” which i think was subtitled “the art of surrender” but I’m not sure. Hawkins is one of my favorite thinkers, but not one of my favorite authors, but he described thoughts like bait on a hook, and we the fish in a beautiful river. we may enjoy the river, but if we take the bait, that hook is going to take us on quite the unnecessary journey. Not taking the bait became a mantra for me, and quite effective. I mean, we traveled for 18 months without a stitch of a plan, so, yes, Surrender became an important part of my life.

Here a few years later, it is gratifying to see that Surrender has made some significant alterations to my mind-state. In short assessments I never would’ve noticed any of them (more evidence for why it sucks to keep score). But, with the luxury of hindsight and the memory of the latent (and sometimes not so latent) anxiety that coursed through my being before these practices began, I am so grateful for the difference I could cry.

In the time prior to these practices, I wanted to read something or learn something and transform in that moment and in lieu of such result considered the reading or learning insufficient, unsuccessful. A dud.

Ah, the mentality of instant gratification…

Also during those times, I would read about someone’s miraculous transformation (often in regards to health) and I tried every single thing I could read about in search of my own transformational moment. Uhm… it never came. But what did evolve was a toolkit of techniques, oddly enough, most of which have come in handy in a micro sort of way at one point or another. Apparently big, permanent transformation was not appropriate for me. Until it was. Life is full of contradictions.

Life Itself is unfolding before us and revealing Itself to us constantly. And we sit there like, “uhm, not sure this is valid. could we get a stage? maybe some lighting… a sound system… maybe a smoke machine? then I really couldn’t deny it is You and it is Special.”

People walk around wishing for a million dollar check when God works in small, unmarked bills.

So, back to the fact that I’m reading Michael Singer’s book, and I’m enjoying it. It comes at a time in my life that I’ve practiced a lot of Surrender. I used to agonize over not knowing my broader purpose given that I haven’t been working, and as much as I love my family life I certainly always felt contribution was what created value (this value assessment conundrum being a big part of this whole Slowing Down process). Anyhow, the practice of surrender allows me to trust that what I need to do will present itself as I wholeheartedly practice engaging with life. This has been an enormous shift, and a huge relief, and a playful friendship with life instead of trying to scale the mountain of it.

Michael Singer’s book is really chock full of stories about practical surrender and remarkable results. If I were reading this book at the beginning of my surrender practice, I would be wildly jealous and immediately start doing what he did looking for the same results. But because it comes when it does, I am only a tiny bit jealous, and far more inspired. Not to try to copy him and replicate his experience, but to deepen my practices with some insights from his and let life build my own experience more easily (or at least having my experience of it more readily – i’m pretty sure everything is pretty easy for Life).

My goal is to be an instrument through which the Breath of Life sings it’s blessings to the universe itself. I am still exploring how to clean the windpipes, and after that I think I’ll need some lessons on pressing buttons or the key-shifts of whatever kind of instrument I am. I’m not sure, but with this intention and declared faith in Life Itself, it is ok letting Life show me in Its own time.

The Hardest Lesson I Ever Learned (am learning)

Worth without action. Value without a resume to fall back on. That BEING itself is enough.

Simple enough concept and incredibly difficult to internalize. Even relatively easy to see about people we love and enjoy. They don’t have to do or be anything for us to love them (and if they do need to do those things to earn our affection, we might need to rethink our definitions of love). This is especially true when I think about my nephew who made his transition almost 9 years ago. I don’t remember many specifics of the various things he did, but his being, his presence, what he felt like to be around, this I remember vividly. The fact of his being was the gift. All the activities and trails he left were tiny subsets of that powerful being.

Getting sick and experiencing long periods of inactivity really messes with one’s self-worth. Culturally, we value what people do, have done, will do. To have “doing” taken away, as in the case of physical debilitation, sent me into a very serious line of inquiry that continues to be very difficult, but now after many years of this question holding powerful attendance in my life, is completely changing the playing field of who i think i am and how i relate to the world. Very difficult. Very freeing.

Even now, as I continue to be fully committed to vibrating at the highest frequency available to me as my primary objective in this life, every now and again I want to take score. If I allow myself to take score, I invariably open a can of worms and have a long and arduous journey before I can square with who I am again. Most of the time my scorecard looks at all of the things I haven’t done and condemns my life. Occasionally, I compare myself favorably to someone or something else and my dreaded companion of egotism drops in for a spell, pees on the rug, and generally makes a mess that is no fun to clean up.

Twice this week I’ve encountered stories of people really struggling with this concept. One has MS and is losing mobility, so every bit of mobility she has is super important to her, while those in her life are trying to move in and ‘get things done’ for her. Their kind efforts are undermining her dwindling sense of independence and it’s harming the relationships. Another friend is quadriplegic and even after many years (and great spiritual achievement) still struggles with value without doing.

These seem to me to be cultural problems. You don’t have to look far to see that culturally we value achievement. I think there may have been a time when that arose from a balanced place, but I believe it’s gone off the deep end. Intrinsic value is a concept that has been stolen from us, individually and collectively. It’s been replaced by values that benefit a system dedicated to progress at any cost, which has had remarkably destructive implications for individuals (99%), society, and the earth.

This idea of wholeness, of being enough *just as you are*, of being worthy regardless of your resume, is completely radical to the value system I grew up in (and I believed my parents and community to be pretty progressive). Once, when someone asked me what i wanted to do with my life and I said, “I don’t know,” he replied, “well, think of the thing that you’ve learned that has been of the most value to you, and figure out how to share it.” I thought of travel and cultural appreciation, and started a nonprofit to teach kids about culture. And that’s always been a passion, but now, I think wholeness is that thing.

Surrender and Action

If you look at my Facebook page, it says I work at: “Surrender”

That’s because Surrender is my primary spiritual practice and I do work at it, everyday. Remembering to surrender to Life Itself is the muscle I am building, one little surrender at a time.

I get a lot of quizzical looks about this choice of spiritual practice. People can’t help thinking of defeat and surrender as synonyms, which they are not. There is great pride in fighting for what you believe in, and I’m not against such crusades, this just isn’t the time in my life for really any kind of fight. Even with the political turmoil, I am expressing my voice more than I have in decades but not with fight, just with expression. That may change. Fluidity, flexibility, and adaptability are all key elements of my modis operandi.

Another misconception about surrender is that it renounces action. Looking up synonyms as I write this post, I sortof want to come up with a new word other than Surrender for surrender because the definition and synonyms sure talk alot about giving in to an enemy and that is wildly not what I am talking about.

I look at surrender as the prefix sur, meaning above or beyond and render being to make or “cause to become.” These things I can work with. Surrender, to me, is to stop fighting for control of life. Recognizing that I am part of life, inextricably linked to Life Itself which is alive in every molecule of my being as much as it is alive in a flower or bolt of electricity. I believe that trusting in Life Itself to move through me with the same intentionality that it creates galaxies just may be a better idea than me trying to control everything to fit some picture i’ve developed from some misplaced (or even well-placed) value system.

Trusting in Life Itself and relaxing into that trust in any given situation is what Surrender means to me. With the relief that comes from that act of surrendering, that shift in attitude and perception, I can then participate in life without all the pressure.

So, surrender doesn’t abdicate action in my mind. Surrender releases action to be spontaneous and without attachment to a result. That is my favorite kind of action. I am so tired of having to assess the efficacy of my actions in creating the life i want. In fact, I am so glad I didn’t get the life I wanted. If all of my schemes had come true (female Richard Branson), I may have missed some of my favorite parts of my life. The focus I had on outward achievement may have, if it came true, shifted my focus from my kids for these wonderful few years of their youth. I had big plans, and Grace Itself shifted them ever so slightly that my life has received so many of the feeling states I wanted without all of the pretenses.  I feel remarkably lucky.

To wrap this up for today, I think that surrender is trust in life itself without struggle, and action is whatever we are inspired to do from that place of trust as an expression, not necessarily as a solution or strategy. What I’m really trying to say is that I think the two go together nicely.