Pain as Your Teacher

woman reflecting

“Pain is your best friend. It is infinitely more honest with you than pleasure. Despite what you might think, the painful experiences you have had benefit you far more than the pleasurable ones, even though most of us spend our lives trying to duck and hide from them.

But when you can center yourself and be open to look pain dead in the eye, then you have transcended the limits of your ego and this humanity. It is then that you enter into the possibility of becoming a great being.”

~ Swami Chetanananda

When I first read these words I wanted to reject them. How could pain be my best friend?

Yet, looking back on the painful, challenging and disappointing experiences in my life, I understand.

Through dark times we find courage and resourcefulness that we may not have thought we had within us.

We break open and feel into what matters.

We learn about ourselves and grow as human beings.

We are able to see the pain in others and feel more connected to them.

We enter the possibility of becoming great beings.

… and knowing this helps.

Namaste

 

 

 

Haiku – pre dawn softening

Photo by David Kanigan at Live and Learn http://www.davidkanigan.com

~

Pre dawn mist and calm

Softens my heart for the day

Find your Middle Ground

~

There can be a special sense of buoyancy and gentle aliveness as we wake up in the morning.

Let it be an invitation to awaken to the unfolding of the day.

Opening our hearts into the unknown.

Without judgment or activation of the prefrontal cortex or calendar.

Give yourself permission to drift into the day and appreciate this centeredness.

With gentle focus and loving acceptance let the day unfold.

It’s a wonderful time to connect to your Middle Ground.

Allow there to be space for whatever wants to be known and seen from deep within.

Namaste

 

“It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This”

close up of an animal eating grass

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

He turned to me

and said “It doesn’t

get much better

than this.”

 

Yes indeed.

 

Say yes to life and

embrace each moment.

Be ready for the instant of

precious unfolding.

 

Watch out for the magic.

Be alert to nature’s

harmonies. Pay attention

to those small details that

catch your eye, or touch

you like butterfly wings.

Here and gone in a breath.

 

Breathe it all in. Every inhale

an opening to a new present.

Every exhale a letting go

of the past.

 

You say “It can’t be 

as easy as that”. 

… Yet, it is.

 

Open your senses and

your heart to the

wonder of it all.

In the journey into

the present you

come to realize…

there is Love here.

~ Val Boyko

 

Nothing Stays the Same

Three weeks ago I began to write this post. As I came back to it, I realized that nothing stays the same. When we address what is going on inside of us, we can shift our experience of the world.

green dragonfly on tree branch

The dragonfly is a symbol of transformation and change. Photo by Ryan Delfin on Pexels.com

All around me people seem to be getting back into their social lives. Next door is having a birthday party. It started with kiddies enjoying themselves in the pool, then more family members and friends joining in with karaoke.

I feel apart. I can’t imagine having that much fun these days. Friends are moving away. Family is across the ocean. My community of likeminded souls in Kripalu is closed for the rest of the year. I am home in a lovely place with a man who is struggling right now. Lets face it, the cancer diagnosis and treatment over 4 years has taken its toll.

The vibrancy and appreciation of life has diminished. There is gratitude for being here … Yet the celebration has died.

We lost our middle dog Dilys, two weeks ago. She was such a bright spirit and cheeky wee dog. She made me smile, and still does with all those memories. The older dog Meghan isn’t doing well and has to take a lot of meds and special food to prevent kidney failure. Teddy, the young boy is enjoying the attention and becoming quite the man about the house. There is calm.

I tell myself “My external world has shrunk. I must ignite my inner world if I am to get through this.”

This was a notice to deep within. It’s time to acknowledge and accept fully what is happening right now. It’s time to ask myself what I can do to become excited and inspired once again! Can I relax enough to allow the opening of my heart instead of the evaluating and somewhat judging mind?

As part of my ongoing Retreat approach to this time, I had enrolled in two online experiences for July. The first was a 6 week writing experience and sharing with Roger Housden and a group of fellows on their own path to explore their inner world and awakening through writing.

The second, was a one day retreat with Jonathan Foust on self inquiry as part of the spiritual path.

Well folks, I am happy to report that both have ignited something that is ready to be expressed and to be celebrated. I am writing again, reaching out to others, and finding laughter and joy in my days. In the highs and lows of life, I have rediscovered contentment.

May we all find our way to live from our heart and our Middle Ground.

Namaste

 

Stepping Back into the World – Gently

Stepping back into life

Photo by Jas Poole

Dear Readers and Friends, I hope you are well and finding balance in these challenging times. The past few months have been interesting, to say the least … and they seem to be continuing! I am at a loss for words with what I see and hear around me.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was concerned for others, yet I was filled with hope that we would all come together and support each other in creating a new way of life together; one that cared for each other and the planet. Yet the divisions and strife grow every day. People take sides and believe the unbelievable ….

My mind is losing hope, yet my heart still trusts in what is unfolding. I recall Osho’s words “Remember the emphasis on the heart. The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.”

On a personal level, I am also trusting in my own unfolding. As I wrote in my previous post,
Update-Retreat I have been nurturing myself in my cocoon, teaching yoga on Zoom and taking some online courses. At the beginning of July I began Roger Housden’s course for writers, non writers and poets called “Dropping the Struggle”. I am part of a group of ten who come together and write, prompted by Roger’s wisdom.

It has sparked my inner wisdom and voice again. I am stepping back into the world, gently.

I realize that we all struggle. Each of us struggles in our own way. Many of us keep it to ourselves and try to lock out the pain. Others weep more openly. Many more can’t admit or face this tender wound. There is a lot of confusion and pain in us humans. Especially now.

More than ever, this is a time for understanding, compassion and listening to others … and to our own inner voice.

We will get through this together not apart.I look forward to sharing some old, new and timeless insights with you.

Namaste

 

Update – Retreat

photo of white and brown owl perched on a tree branch

Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

A month ago I would have been at Kripalu for a senior yoga teacher training program… but as we all now know, along with so many other plans, it was cancelled. The latest news is that Kripalu will be closed for the rest of 2020.

I have felt sad, with a deep sense of loss. This was a place for community, learning, and more than anything, a retreat where mind, body and soul can be nourished, cared for and restored.

And then I realized … I am on retreat right now.

The pace has slowed down and I have had lots of alone time in the garden and spending time in the woods. There is also a routine of teaching classes via Zoom, and finding connection with my yoga students and community – not to mention taking other yoga classes and dancing along with Kripalu yogis from all over. My WordPress friends are still here, as well as my Words with Friends gamers!

I have attended online conventions and community calls with SAND (Science and Non Duality) and a weekend of celebration and learning with the global Non Violent Communication Community.

There has been a sense of embracing this cocoon and nurturing myself and the relationships with those I care for.

My next venture is taking a writing workshop in July with Roger Housden. I have never thought of myself as a writer or been attracted to write a book, but I am being drawn to flex my wings  and to see where my next flight might take me.

I feel hopeful for a changed world still. Turbulence, pain and chaos are needed before transformation can happen. It was brought home to me this past week, as we faced two powerful flash thunder storms that devastated our neighborhood. We had some damage, but not much compared with some others. The power was off for five days and even the mailman couldn’t navigate through the fallen tress and downed lines. 

The power is now back on and I am grateful to have clean hair and the luxury of hot water and air conditioning. With the internet happily available, I may spend more time back here. 

I have decided to venture out more with some private yoga in people’s gardens and porches. 

Perhaps this butterfly is ready to emerge from her cocoon very soon.

animal insect macro butterfly

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

The Lost Sheep and the Shepherd

“Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely.” ~ William Deresiewicz

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

When we feel lonely, we grieve the absence of company, yet overlook our own. Perhaps we haven’t learned to like or appreciate our own company…
Many of us have relied on others to meet our needs, validate and stimulate us. The desire for the external however, prevents us from seeing and learning to appreciate what is already here within us.

Being content with our own company is a lesson that many of us only learn as we get older. As we learn more about ourselves,  we let go of conditioning and become more authentic and express ourselves in our own way. We like ourselves for who we are and how far we have come.

If we don’t like ourselves, or are afraid of what we might discover when we are alone with our thoughts, then we won’t want to spend time alone. When we do find ourselves alone, we create distraction with the TV or media, reach out for others or numb ourselves with substances.

Take a few moments to reflect on this and how it sits with you.

The second half of the quote shines a different light on loneliness. The lost sheep is missing others, while the shepherd is not lonely. The sheep is a follower of others and is dependent on their company. The shepherd is taking care of his sheep and this is his purpose. There is meaning in his life.

Take a few moments to reflect on what meaning and sense of purpose there is in your life.

Journalling is a great way to uncover our inner thoughts and desires.  Why not make this a time for reflection and self exploration.

Namaste

 

Embrace this Liminal Space, Sing and Let Your Yoga Dance!

liminal space

Today I attended a powerful meeting via Zoom from Michael Meade and the SAND community. SAND represents the cross pollination of ideas from science and spirituality. Michael Meade is a renowned author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He took us into todays’s crisis and explored the myths and stories from ancient sources that can help us navigate this time of transition and transformation.

Where we are today is Liminal Space.

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a time of waiting and not knowing.

Liminal space is where real transformation takes place. When we learn to look into the space beyond, we find new insight and can follow our calling in the next chapter of life.

Author and theologian Richard Rohr describes this space as:

“where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.”

A threshold of waiting. Between the step before that was the past and the step forward into the unknown future. It is often seen as a sacred time where we retreat and contemplate the world as we have known it, and our place in it.

It feels just right for these times.

As I was exploring I came across more inspiration:

Sing to the shadows, sing and do not fear

But sing them into love little by little.

Begin the song exactly where you are.

And so I start again here in the middle.

– Malcolm Guite, The Singing Bowl

Yes, sing and transform fear into love. Start in your Middle Ground.

Coincidentally (or not), yesterday I attended a Kripalu Let your Yoga Dance class via Zoom with Jurian Hughes. We paused, then moved, danced, breathed, sang and found our own joyous rhythm in community. It was so uplifting.

Each one of us can find the joy and open our hearts to love. Find your voice, your song, your passion, your joy and a new rhythm for these times.
I truly believe that when we do this we will be better prepared to meet the collapse of the old and embrace the new.

Namaste

 

Breathing to Let Go

This quote stood out for me today: “Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”

 

When you find yourself tense, overwhelmed or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take a moment to sit comfortably and simply notice your breath.

Every inhale brings in new life, nourishment and energy.

Every exhale is a release and letting go.

Our breath reflects the ebb and flow of life itself.

Do you notice that there is a slight pause at the end on the inhale as you hold onto the air? This holding on creates more tension in our body and it feels so good to release some of it with this simple exercise:

Take a nice big inhale and then sigh on the exhale. Really focus on the noise you can make when you breath out! Make it loud and long. The biggest and best sigh in the world.

Next, If this feels good, bring your shoulders up to your ears on your inhale and then release them away from your ears on the exhale.

You may want to bring in some shoulder rolls now. Inhale raising your shoulder up and then exhale releasing forwards. (3 times) Then inhale raising them up and exhale releasing them backwards (3 times).

As the energy moves, can you feel the shift? A lightening. As you practice this can you feel the burden releasing?

Namaste

 

Resisting and Waking Up

adult-alone-dark-girl-191139

“It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Wow – these are powerful words to read in a time of pandemic, when so many of us are desperately trying to come to terms with living in a fearful changing place filled with the unknown.

We are all human beings with ego-minds that are ready to resist whatever we see as a threat. Our minds can deny and duck… push back and dismiss… defend or withdraw… lash out and blame… whine and complain… in order to avoid feeling the pain of being out of control and feeling the fear.

If you are thinking “It will pass and its not a big deal” then please re-read the last paragraph.

Seriously. This is the new reality. One of external threats and being out of control.

We are waking up to a new reality where we no longer believe that we are controllers of our small world. We are realizing that we are part of the bigger world, and it’s darn scary.

This transition time is hard. If we are to survive and thrive, we must change the way we see things along with our behaviors.

We must get with the new program!

Noticing our resistance to what is happening is a very good place to start.

It’s time to waken up and become a witness to our unsettling thoughts, our conditioned responses and the incredible attachment to our routine and habits. What we have taken for granted may no longer be part of this new reality. What we think we have had control of, is simply a mirage.

This is a time to pause and reflect. To find our middle ground. Bring awareness inwards and notice everything that is coming up insight of you.

It’s not a comfortable place to be, and if you are not ready you may find yourself defaulting to distractions and ways to medicate yourself and dull the feelings. If you notice this, good for you! You are developing your ability to stand back and be the witness.

Here are some questions to ask, and to take time to journal on:

  • “What is it that I am not accepting?”
  • “What am I resisting?”
  • “What can I do that is in my control?”
  • “What do I have to let go of?”
  • “What can I do differently here?”
  • “How can I take care of myself and others?”
  • “How can I contribute to the change for good?”

Be kind to this awakening part of you.

When we are able to accept what is, without judgment and blame, then we can open our hearts and minds to a new way of connecting to the bigger world.

Already I am seeing the generosity and compassion of others. The ability to give freely to those who need it the most. Unconditional loving of humanity and our true nature.

We can all do this when we go beyond fear and find our middle ground.

Follow the Conflict

conflict

“We feel conflict. 

The conflict we feel is not a problem.

It is a messenger.

We do not need help; we need only understand that there is no choice in life but to follow the conflict where it takes us.

If we are prepared to go there, we may discover the actuality of self and the nature of our sorrow.”

~ Steven Harrison

This is a message I wish I had heard many years ago. Although, to be frank, I probably would not have been ready to hear it.

All emotions are messengers and reflect a deeper state of our being. As long as we avoid looking at the uncomfortable ones we limit our growth and ability to connect fully to our higher Self and life.

Our ego mind will tell us we shouldn’t be feeling these feelings and judge us for not being better than this.

Yet it isn’t a problem. There is no better or worse.

Let go of judging how you think you should be.

Allow your mind to be open to it. And then your heart.

Be kind and compassionate towards yourself, until you are ready to follow where the feeling takes you.

Beyond conflict is love.

Namaste

Let Go and Find Yourself

” In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. 

It will be a permanent Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. 

Once you have captured this you have captured the world.”                

~ Deepak Chopra

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Life is a journey of letting go in order to discover what really matters. Yet we find ourselves clinging to the past and the very things that bring suffering and hold us back.

Letting go is a part of the natural rhythm of life.

Letting go:

Of every exhalation

Of the day as we fall asleep

Of our children as they grow up and leave home

Of things that no longer serve us

Of a past that weighs us down

Of relationships that no longer nurture us

Of roles that we have outgrown

Of over thinking

Of our habits and conditioning

Of “me” “I” and “mine” as we experience our connection to something more than our little self.

  •  Take a few moments to pause and reflect on all the things that you have let go of in the past…
  • The things that you are working on right now…
  • And what you might still be holding on to…

Trust in your ability to let go and embrace it fully with an open mind and heart.

In taking these courageous steps every day we come to know our true permanent Self and move towards real freedom.

Namaste