Awakening to What?

Those of us who see ourselves on a journey of self realization or spirituality, have a sense of awakening. But an awakening to what? I wonder if we all awaken to the same thing, or if we awaken to whatever we are ready to awaken to…

Whatever it is, when we find it we think “This is it!” But it is really so? Is it the final piece of the puzzle or just an other piece along the way that finds its rightful place?

woman in blue and white floral long sleeve shirt holding a round shaped puzzle

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As I reflect on my life there have been moments of awakening, when it seemed like my inner world and outer world launched into a new way of being. Yet, on reflection it is now clear that these have just been pieces of the puzzle.

These pieces connected to each other, yet they revealed only a part of a great unknown picture. Here are my reflections on my journey towards the unknown and the awakenings along the way.

Life Awakenings

I can only imagine what it must have felt like when I first discovered I was no longer in a dark and nourishing space merged with my mother. This experience is beyond my thinking,  but I can imagine how traumatic and profound it must have been becoming separate and in all that bright light!

The next awakening was when I learned who I was in relation to other things and people. My ego developed as I grew into a separate human being with preferences and beliefs. I learned how to get what I wanted, how to be in relationship with others. I created beliefs about who I was as a girl child, daughter, sister etc…

Not long after this revelation came, the waking up to feeling hurt when I didn’t get what I wanted, or when I was not seen in a way that I wanted to be seen, or when I felt abandoned and unloved. I believed that there was something wrong, and it was me. I wasn’t good enough. So I would try to be good and perfect.

This part lasted for quite some time. I continued to learn who I was in this world from those around me, and in the roles I played. I was looking outward for validation and love.

Then as an adult I awakened to the part of me that wanted to express herself fully. To slough off the conditioning and expectations of others. I started to look inward so I could find the real “me”, not through anyone else’s eyes, but through my own… Awakening to myself as a strong individual who mattered… Stepping into my own shoes and expressing myself to the world.
From not being good enough, I realized I was precious, unique and strong. I could make things happen! I took on challenges and overcame my fears. It was a period of tremendous personal growth.

Around then I began training to became a life coach. For the past 20 years I have worked with people to discover who they are as unique human beings who can overcome challenges and be their authentic best in the world.

Yet, this was not the end. From this place of self growth, confidence and expansion, an other kind of awakening started to unfold. One where I started to question who “I” was.

self inquiry

At a time when I was disillusioned with the competitive, self absorbed human beings around me, I fully embraced yoga and took my first yoga teacher training. Unlike a lot of yoga trainings nowadays, our practice was more than postures, sequencing and breath work. We had time for self reflection, we read yoga philosophy, and committed to following the eightfold path of Patanjali.

Through yoga I became aware that my personal “self” was made up of my thoughts and beliefs. The world around me mirrored my own perception of it.  I had been creating stories about who “I” (this “small self”) was. I had grown as a person, but had replaced stories of not being good enough, with new stories about all I could achieve and show the world.

A part of me still got caught in patterns of self-doubt, fear and worry. I also had moments of glory and immense satisfaction and had glimpses of the timeless beauty and mystery of being alive.

In yoga I felt drawn to the belief that we are all connected and share the same Source or Conscious Presence. When one says “namaste” in greeting and farewell, it means that one recognizes the light shining within each of us.  This inner light is our true spiritual Self.  We connect to something more that our human body and thinking mind. Whether we call it God, the Divine, Brahman, Source, Presence or the Universe. There is a part inside of all of us that is connected to an infinite beingness, that words can’t fully describe.

Then something happened. It was like the outer shell cracked and the gloriousness of what was within was revealed. From understanding in my mind, I experienced a overwhelming feeling of love and connection with my fellow human beings, animals and nature.  There is a deep sense of oneness that is profound, no matter what is happening in life. It is hard to put into words, because it feels beyond words.

If I were to try to use words, it was be something like a veil had been lifted to reveal what had always been there. It is something that once felt, can always be accessed.

The aum symbol of yoga symbolizes this seeing beyond the veil and embracing an unchanging reality of oneness with spirit or pure consciousness.

aum symbol with meaning

Finding Your Middle Ground

Finding your middle ground is the gateway to this awakening.  The starting point is when we take time to pause and become self aware. We begin, by simply learning to slow down and noticing what is going on inside: our thoughts, judgments, emotions, body sensations … and al the stories we make up about ourselves and the world around us.

I like to think of it as the phase of personal expansion and growth. Its a place of new perspectives, letting go of the past, and understanding and truly accepting ourselves as imperfect human beings.

We start to explore new aspects of ourselves, our passions and what gives us meaning in life. Taking time to pause and ask ourself the deep questions that we want to know the answers to, allows us to go beyond what we know in our mind and tap init the wisdom in our heart.

From this place of mindful awareness, we can come new insights into who we are beyond our beliefs and conditioning. Beyond our own small separate self.

With more compassionate self awareness, meditation and mindful living, a new way of seeing ourselves and the world unfolds.
We realize that we are not separate, but are connected to something so much bigger, and to each other.
We come to know that we are not the master of the universe, but are simply a part of it all.
There is no right or wrong, because we know that it’s our thoughts that make it so. Everything becomes as it is.
We stop resisting life, and begin to let go into its own flow.
We let go of ego and surrender to being small as we connect to the Source of being. From wanting to be somebody, we embrace being nobody.

Wherever we are on life’s path, we can open ourselves to new insights and awaken to a new way of expanded being.

As human beings perhaps our purpose is to awaken to what we are ready for, and to be open to surrendering to the next unknown.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to freedom.

Namaste

Seeing Stars

silhouette of trees and mountain under blue starry sky

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“To attach oneself to a guru, an avatar, one religion, one creed, is to see the stars only. To put one’s faith in the Infinite Being and in its presence within the heart, is to see the vast empty sky itself. The stars will come and go, will disintegrate and vanish, but the sky remains.”  ~ Paul Brunton

Are you following certain stars and missing out on the vastness of the sky?

I think its human nature to get attached to some “thing” that we believe will show us the way, make things better, or fix us. And so we seek out the answer to our problem.

When we open up to the Source, Infinite Being or Divine within us, and the sky beyond the stars, problems dissolve and we become a part of it all.

Namaste

Where Would you Choose to Sit?

Over the past several weeks I have been walking in Chanticleer Gardens, near me in Wayne PA. Every time I venture out I have my iPhone 8 at the ready … and it seems to capture the colors, contours, shadows and perspectives pretty well.

I don’t see myself as a photographer, but I have been taught to have an artistic eye. Recently, I have not only wanted to represent what is before me, but also to appreciate different perspectives, shades, patterns and dynamics that are taking place.

So, these last few visits I have asked myself – where would I like to sit? As I brought new awareness to seats, I noticed so many more in tucked away corners as well as overlooking lovely vistas.

Where would you choose to sit?

 

Tao Wisdom – Don’t take Sides

light landscape sky sunset

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The Tao doesn’t take sides

It gives birth to both good and evil.

The Master doesn’t take sides;

she welcomes both saints and sinners.

The Tao is like a bellows:

it is empty yet infinitely capable.

The more you use it, the more it produces;

the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Hold on to the center.*

 

Let go of fear, anger and judgments that keep us separate and in conflict.

Connect to the center and infinite wisdom beyond words.

More than ever, Find Your Middle Ground

 

*Mitchell, Stephen. Tao Te Ching (Perennial Classics) . Harper Perennial. Kindle Edition.

Inspiration for Hectic Hearts

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When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

~ John O’Donohue, from “Blessings”

There are some beautiful images and poignant phrases here to guide us to our Middle Ground.

May today be a day for slowing down and noticing the small miracles we rushed through.

Let nature and our senses restore mind, body and spirit.

Namaste

Late September Reflection with Teddy

cobweb time

Photo by Phil Kallahar on Pexels.com

 

Late September morning light dances off dewy grass.

The sun creates dappled patterns through the trees.

Green and gold variations on an autumnal theme.

The hummingbirds have left on their southern journey.

It’s time to bring in their feeders and put out corn for squirrels … deer and crows.

Spider webs glisten and catch me unexpectedly as I walk into the new day with Teddy.

We stand together and breathe in the changing air.

He’s not as active now that his sisters are gone.

He’s okay with this. 

And shows me by licking my calf and wagging his tail.

Chipmunks and squirrels are now safe in our yard.

Teddy loves to simply hang out.

Life right now is like a long letting go breath.

Finding a new rhythm, balance and some peace.

We are going to need it in the days ahead.

Getting Clear about Transformation

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Most of us spend our time and energy trying to transform our experience of life. When things are difficult, we blame circumstances, someone else, or ourselves. We take on new things and make new goals. We may change jobs, move house, or get divorced, to move away from our circumstances.

We move away from the discomfort.

And we somehow find ourselves feeling the same way in the next job, the next house, the next marriage …

In this society we are constantly being pressured to focus on the external and to acquire things in order to be “successful” and to feel good about ourselves. The message is “you deserve better” or “this will make you happy”.

Instead of moving from job to job, wanting things to be different and wishing for events to change, pause and notice how you are resisting what you are experiencing right now. Are you telling yourself “I deserve better”? rather than trying to understand your experience.

It is the relationship with what is happening that is causing the pain rather than the situation itself. The relationship between you and the situation is one of resistance and frustration with what is.

But you are only changing the external situation, and the chances are you will start to feel the same again, unless you take time to look at what is going within you that is getting in the way of transformation.

What if our purpose in life is to understand our external experience and how we relate to it? or Seeing all of our experience as lessons in life?

When we start to look into our experience with curiosity and an accepting mind, we can bring about real change.

Its an inside out job.

Here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to bring about inner transformation:

  • How do I want to feel ….? at work/in my marriage/in my relations with my children etc. Imagine your future self and what it feels like.
  • How am I contributing to this situation? What attitude adjustment do I need to make?
  • What actions would support this? What do I need to do differently?
  • What support do I need to bring it about? What resources do I already have?

 

Haiku – beyond thoughts

calm young woman with shadows on face

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~
You are not your thoughts
Discover what’s beyond them
Find Your Middle Ground

~

One of the biggest steps towards awakening is to realize that we are not our thoughts. When we sit quietly we begin to notice that our thoughts come and go. We are not the thoughts themselves, so we can come to witness them, our beliefs and the stories we create about the world, our ourselves.

As long as we believe that what we think and believe is the truth, we will stay in an unawakened state. In yoga this is called Avidya, or ignorance.

This is especially hard right now, with all the conflicting stories, beliefs and versions of the truth that we are being exposed to.

Taking time to pause before reacting to whatever you are reading or watching is key. This is when you can step back and see if this is true or not. It may be contrary to what you believe, and therefore you think it is wrong. Or it may be exactly what you think, and it becomes the truth.

Be discerning rather than judging right or wrong.

This is a time to become a witness to our thoughts and stories, and our own susceptibility and gullibility as human beings.

Namaste

So Fortunate – Chanticleer

Being in nature is such an inspiration and brings me wholeness and peace … Yet, what truly lifts me up is seeing it through an artistic lens. 

I am so fortunate to live close to Chanticleer, a pleasure garden in Wayne PA. During the pandemic, there is limited attendance, but I visit when I can. It has sparked my desire to be there and pay attention to the evolving seasons and the curious beautiful experiences that are just around the corner… or right in front of me.

There is so much to be aware of, explore and capture. My iPhone is always at the ready!

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I’m curious … How is your artistic soul calling you in these strange days?

Live this Day

dawn sunset beach woman

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This is what I have to say to you. Enjoy today to its fullest.
Rather than making arrangements for tomorrow,
do the wonderful things you have longed for.
Open your heart to the joy that lies in the gift of this day.

How easily we take our days for granted,
until we realize they cannot last forever.

Being in the now is the most exciting time you have ever known.
Live today on the edge of your seat, craning towards the horizon,
ready to meet whatever comes your way.

Changes will surely come one by one.
You are ready when you lift up your heart to meet them.

Namaste

Haiku – the answer

man wearing black cap with eyes closed under cloudy sky

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

~
The world draws us out
Yet the answer lies within
Find Your Middle Ground
~

When we connect to our center of being, our Middle Ground, we begin to attune to our authentic self and feel empowered. The external demanding world loses its pull and power. We feel more able to be true to ourselves.

If we really want this, then what actions can we take to make it happen?

Most of already know this … Turning off the cellphone, not watching local news or feeds of coronavirus updates, or Trump twitters that churn up our minds, fears and egos, and unsettle our hearts.

Becoming centered is more about us connecting to our heart, rather than our head. The analytical ego-mind, gets all too easily pulled into the drama and fear. When we touch into our heart and the felt sense of the body, we connect to something greater than ourselves. That which is beyond.

Take time today and every day to Find Your Middle Ground.

Authenticity and Tension

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Are you dealing with constant tension in your body? … Have you considered that you might be living out of alignment with who you truly are. Could you be living an inauthentic life?

These are powerful questions that came up as I was revisiting John J. Prendergast’s book: In Touch How to Tune in to the Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself. (Highly recommended for seekers, meditators and yogis)

Our body is a powerful teacher about how we live our lives. It stores trauma and joy and everything in between. When we tune into the sensations in our body we can begin to not only release the tension but become more open, authentic and true to ourselves.

“Tension is inevitable when we live a lie and try to appear different from how we actually are. We don’t want to appear vulnerable or needy. We don’t trust that we are fundamentally enough as we are, even with our struggles and shortcomings.

We compensate outwardly by trying to do things that will prove our value to others. We also edit our self image as we describe our life to ourselves and others – the image maintenance project.

Often, this habit becomes so automatic that we are unaware of it. We unknowingly adopt a mask and mistake it for our real face, assuming that our chronically tense and armored body is natural. It is normal, but it isn’t natural.”

Natural is about feeling in balance, nourished and connected to ourselves.