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

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

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.

Meet Yourself in Your Heart

 

petals and heart shaped cut out

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The obstacle you are facing is a special gift

It is there to bring clarity and new understanding

Instead of finding ways around it or fixing it

And creating stories to make you feel right and in control

Take time to face the challenge

To ask your intuition and heart

“What wants to be known?”

Let the answer reveal itself

There is freedom beyond this pain

When you meet yourself in your heart

Namaste

What is Beyond Struggle?

curious isolated young woman looking away through metal bars of fence with hope at entrance of modern building

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

~

Step out of the past

Let go of struggle stories

Find truth in the now

~

 

I feel a real connection to others who are struggling right now … and who have struggled in the past. Have you noticed what that feels like? A shared struggle feels oh so familiar… and somehow comforting.

Many of us come to see that the struggles of the past are re-enacted in our present lives. 

We all have challenges and conflicts within ourselves, especially the thinking mind with its tethered beliefs and judgments, along with our conditioning from childhood.

It all diminishes our ability to be open, to tune into intuition and heart felt sense of being. It keeps us trapped in our ego-mind and small self. 

When we identify with our struggle, its so easy to let it overwhelm us, and we literally become the struggle.

The struggle become how we identify ourselves. “I am stupid… I am a failure… I am not worthy… I am unlovable… I am an addict… I am a bad person” … etc

Many of us get attached to our personal struggle and some will find the courage to share it and reach out to others who understand.

Our struggle story can be very personal, yet it acts as a bridge of connection and community. All human beings experience struggle, and when we find similar souls, we feel validated and supported.

Yet the struggle is still a story. Created by our fearful, controlling ego. When we embrace the story, it makes us feel right, stronger and more able to deal with the external pressures. We actually lose touch with who we truly are, rather than connect deeper into our true sense of being.

This is such an important part of the journey, but it isn’t the end. It can backfire if it ends here. When we get attached to our story, we stay stuck. 

Struggle keeps us attached to our ego and small self. It takes us into the past and makes us anxious about the unknown future. It prevents us from being present to the goodness that is already within us, and to open up to the higher Self and power beyond our separate small lives.

For those on a spiritual path, as long as we identify with our struggle we cannot awaken.

The struggle story will never set us free. 

We will be free when we choose to open up, accepting this part of our history and ourselves, face it, feel compassion for it and then let it go. This is challenging and important work.

We must truly want to move past our struggle if we want to awaken to the freedom beyond. What is beyond struggle? When we come to recognize, befriend and let go of ego.

Beyond ego is beyond struggle.

On your path to awakening, what part of your struggle story are you willing and ready to let go of?

 

 

 

 

Clearing the Clutter

black and pink plastic clothes hangers

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Many of us are using this time to create space and de-clutter our work and home environments. Over the past few months I have been setting aside clothes that I no longer need. Yesterday, I went to Goodwill and let a lot of material things go. Not just the old, but also what might serve others better.

Letting go of what no longer serves us and creating space for something new is a powerful practice.

Its something that I am doing intentionally for a number of reasons.

It allows us to move forward and not be overly attached to the past. So we let go of the old that no longer supports who we are today.

It turns out that this is pretty hard for me … and I don’t think of myself as a hoarder!

For many years I was an Intercultural Trainer, supporting people from different cultures coming to the US and for Americans going overseas and working in Global teams. I loved this work as it let me expand my knowledge of different cultures – especially their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that may be unexpected and different.

When I become a life coach I moved away from training into the sphere of one to one coaching.

And now I am giving away my books and creating space for my yoga books on philosophy and spiritual inspiration. I feel drawn to bring more spiritual awareness and connection to our intuitive heart space, rather than our rational mind.

When we clear our environment it creates space for the new. Often it will create a new sense of spaciousness within us too … and sometimes not. Lets be realistic and human.

If you are in the process of de-cluttering, notice if this physical clearing is enough for you or if there are judgments and attachments that are also cluttering your mind. They may make you feel secure, but they may be getting in the way of what you really want.

person sitting on bench under tree

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EXPLORATION

Take a moment to sit comfortably.

Feel your body resting in this space. Hips. Thighs. Lower legs. Ankles. The soles of your feet.

Take some full deep breaths as if you want to be here in your body … and feel supported.

Notice the change in your breath when you land here fully.

Slow it down even more.

This is the place to ask yourself:

“What do I need to let go of?”

Keep breathing and see what arises from the depth or your being rather than your head

With awareness of clutter and consciously letting go, we move away from past conditioning and towards balance and freedom.

Can you let yourself be here, just the way it is?

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Home Bound Working Mothers … What if?

woman working girl sitting

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This is a (provocative) post for women, mothers, sisters and wives. 

What if this is the time to let our sons, husbands, partners, colleagues, brothers, and adult children … find their own way?

In this stay-at-home working mother era, how many more times do you want to hear: “Where is the …?” “What have you done with my …?” “What’s for dinner?” …”What do we need at the store?”…

It seems to be such a habit for most of us to jump in to solve, find, soothe and show the way to support our males and children. We tell ourselves: “they need us”… “what would they do without us”… “we are good at this”… And we keep serving them and making sure their needs are met.

Isn’t it time for a shift in attitude and perspective? If you are tired, frazzled and feel out of balance, then the answer is absolutely YES.

You may be happy (to a point) to have your adult children home, but its up to you to set the guidelines and educate them about their role in this new family state. Reverting to the old ways doesn’t work any more, especially if you are the mother.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

“Am I contributing to old fashioned patriarchal habits from an earlier generation?”

Or consider “Why is it okay for the kids to disturb me rather than daddy when he is in his office?”

“What am I teaching my children about taking responsibility… equality… independence…  speaking up?”

This is an opportunity to create a new era of true equality and get Mankind and Childrenkind to step up to support one  another and the family.

To the women out there staying at home, does this ring true? Is there more pressure than ever for you to take on the role to support and ensure your menfolk and children feel comforted and loved? Are you depleting yourself by spending more time soothing and ensuring their needs are being met? And are you receiving the comfort and love that you want? Are you truly taking care of yourself? Are you getting your own needs met?

My heart goes out to you.

What if you let them find their own way and you gave yourself the time, space and nurturing that you desperately need.

Step back from taking care of everyone else. Instead of letting resentment build, speak up from your heart,  and come to a new agreement on shared responsibilities at home.

Do this for yourself. For them. For the new future ahead.

This is not about making our country like the past, its about building a new future, and it begins with each one of us at home.

 

 

 

 

Allow this Moment to Unfold

Can you simply relax and allow this moment to unfold? 

Can you let go of evaluation and judgment, and simply accept that this is what is happening?

wooden pier against mountains and sunset sky

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

 

Remember it is only our resistance to the present moment that causes us to feel any pain.

Acceptance creates the inner freedom and inner peace that we are all yearning for.

So take a deep breath… and then another.

Relax.

Be easy on yourself and others.

Trust your life and experience that has brought you to this moment.

Instead of wishing things to be different, focus on expressing the love that is within you.

Find gratitude every day.

Get out of your head and open your heart.

Namaste

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