Life seems so blissful and peaceful and easy. When I don't leave the house, that is. As soon as I start engaging with other human beings and the world in general, all kinds of crazy shit comes up. Because it's all about relationship, isn't it? That's where the juice is. That’s where we are triggered, and it’s where we get to observe ourselves. It’s where we get to discern whether or not we’re in alignment.
We humans take things so personally. We are quite beautifully sensitive – much more than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes we are co-creating a painful situation, and sometimes it truly is not about us at all. It takes mindfulness to witness our inner world. It takes courageous vulnerability to accept – or release – responsibility in our relationships.
A long term friend and I recently experienced an opening in our relationship where we each lovingly acknowledged some things that have stood in the way of our closeness. For my piece, I revealed that I greatly admired her skill as a therapist and agreed with what she had taught me around a certain topic, but I had felt watched and judged by her for years, which had triggered feelings of insecurity. As a result, I learned to protect myself by withholding what I valued most - I diminished my spirituality, a core piece of my existence - in her presence. In response, she revealed that she had indeed been judging me - and that her judgment came from being triggered due to some extremely harmful experiences from others' spiritual bypassing in the past. This was a huge revelation for me! I had made the assumption that because she's a brilliant woman and a skillful therapist and communicator, she must be operating from a place of wholeness at all times (an extremism that holding on to false beliefs about myself can bring).
It’s easy to idolize people and think that everyone but you has got their shit together - so it must be something you're doing or saying that's wrong and is causing your suffering. Take that one step further, and you stop letting your heart guide your actions, deferring to others’ opinions instead. There are so many powerful people in the world! So many people who appear to have it all together in one way or another - whether it be in their skill set, their social confidence and connections, their thriving career, their ability to state their needs, their successful marriage, their spiritual path, or the way trouble rolls off their back like water off a duck. So many beautiful, amazing people. And all of them are HUMAN. Which means that they have things to deal with - different things than you, but just like you all the same... and their stuff can come out in ways that perfectly trigger YOUR deepest stuff. Welcome to relationship, my friends. Welcome to your opportunity to see yourself more clearly. Welcome to the opportunity to shed the strategies you’ve designed to keep you safely disconnected. Welcome to your opportunity to be who you really are.
As I laughingly said to my husband earlier this evening, some fucked up thing in you attracts some fucked up thing in another person, and you are drawn to each other to learn and to heal (totally uncouth, I know. I’ve learned the value of levity).
Here’s another situation:
You are the executive assistant to an internationally recognized motivational speaker. He has helped thousands of people to witness their inner experience and transform their beliefs in order to manifest the lives they want to be living. You love your job, you get along with your boss, and all is well... except that today, he has completely turned on you. He seems to be searching for things to correct or criticize. Each time you pass each other in the hallway, you feel a thick tension in the air. You feel edgy and you start combing your behavior for errors. What have you done to negatively impact the business? Why is your relationship with him suddenly in the garbage? You breathe and take some space, finding stillness and then flow. You soften. Without judgment, you witness your behavior and discover... nothing. You are doing your job as well as ever. There isn’t even anything to forgive. You recognize that his behavior is unusual. Later, you find an opening and engage him in authentic, heartful conversation about something meaningful to you – gently engaging the trust you know exists between you - which changes the energetic charge in the room and slowly rekindles your connection. After a few minutes, he reveals that he'd had an argument with his partner just before he came to work… where he saw you… and he’d pointed the blaming finger away from himself for relief. You rest in your knowing of your self and hold a spacious lovingness for his experience to unfold. He thanks you, apologizes for unjustly blaming you, and makes use of your offering to process his feelings. The air feels clear again.
Every interaction is a gift from God. And when I say God, I mean your Higher Self. I mean Source. I mean the One who takes every opportunity to steer each of us back to our innate wholeness by way of triggers and awareness and courage and vulnerability and healing and LOVE.
Humans are human, including those people who seem to everyone else like they've got it all figured out (like you, perhaps). Sometimes we aren't seeing something about ourselves, even though we are affecting others by our unconscious behaviors. It takes slowing down to understand what’s going on. It’s a combination of slowing down, looking at what’s being reflected back to us, witnessing our inner landscape and our behavior... and then, even when our behaviors and the beliefs that cause them are conscious, it requires great courage to acknowledge what's happening. Vulnerability with ourselves and others can open wide the doors to personal healing and reparations.
Every single one of us is worthy of love and compassion: you, me, that coworker who flew off the handle again today, the helper who's great at healing others but can't show up in relationships, your lover who can't relax into physical intimacy, your parent who can only connect on the surface level, an acquaintance who entices you to want to spend time with him but always waits for you to initiate a get-together. Our best work is to be exquisitely mindful of our inner selves and how we do and don't show up in the world. Our best work is to love ourselves. Our best work is to give everyone a break. We’re all doing the best that we can with what we have or haven’t learned and what we have or haven’t healed and how we are blindly bumbling along or choosing to show up in life. Wherever we are on our path, every interaction has something of value, and every single one of us is worthy of love and compassion while we interact with and co-create this Great Mystery.
Blessings on your exquisite journey.
Hi Sweet Hearts. I just wanted to post a quick note about receiving good medicine. The prescription is short and sweet, but it can have a profound effect on your experience of life. Check this out:
Four really simple situations, right? Notice any similarities between them? In every one, "you" kind of blew past the medicine you were being offered. Call them compliments, call them love, call them what you will - I call them MEDICINE. The kind of medicine that can move deeply into your brain, into your soul, into your karmic patterns and make change in you. The thing is, you have to receive it. You have to make space for it to enter you. You have to give it some presence for the medicine to do its work on you. Let's look at those situations again:
Things like this happen all the time. Everyone has medicine, and they are all great opportunities for sparking some amazing things in you. Truly receiving love medicine can help to heal past wounding. It can bring you right home to who you really are. It can actually change the neuropathways in your brain - moving you out of habitual ways of experiencing life into new, beneficial ones. It can help you to believe in yourself. All of which can have dramatic effects on your entire experience of life.
I’ll just offer one more example from my own life. I hope this is useful to you; it sure was for me.
My husband Peter (back then he was still my boyfriend) and I were going to change both tires on my bike. Actually, he was going to teach me how to change a tire. You see, when we met, I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years and actually had to re-learn how to do it (I can assure you, it wasn’t like riding a bike). I was out of practice riding and had never done any bike maintenance at all. Peter was going to change one of the tires to show me how, and I was going to do the next one myself. While he was changing the first tire, I started to have a mild panic attack. The panic attack consisted of these ingredients: I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. I felt stupid. I was sinking into an old belief that I was not a handy person, that I wouldn’t be able to do it, that I was too slow, and that I’d be judged and chastised for all of that. Tears were silently rolling down my cheeks. All the while, Peter was happily changing the tire, talking to me and paying attention to the task at hand. When it came my turn to change the second tire, Peter looked at me and asked what was going on. I didn’t explain to him that as a kid, there wasn’t a lot of patience with my pace of learning. I didn’t explain that I felt humiliated before I even began. I didn’t explain that I hated doing things like this for these reasons. I just said, "I don’t know if I can do this. I need your help." A moment passed. He said: “You’ve got this, baby. I’ll help you if you need. Just take your time.” I paused for a minute to take that in - to take in his MEDICINE. He was encouraging me. He was being patient. He was going to help me if I got stuck. I felt all of that. I looked at him – really looked at him. My boyfriend. Now. Today. Right here, in our backyard of the house we live in together on this gorgeous, sunny day in my adult life. I took in the fact that there was all the time in the world for me to do this. And I felt a sense of trust that allowed me to begin. I felt challenged a couple times while I worked, and the panic flared up again. Each time, I just stopped and breathed and got present to what was actually happening right now - as opposed to how it was in the past. I wasn’t being rushed. No one was annoyed with me. It was ok to not know how to do this the first time I did it. How could I? I had never done it before! Yes, it really was ok to not know how to do this the first time I did it! I asked Peter which tool was best, which angle. I stopped and sucked my finger when it got pinched. He waited. All of this I soaked into my cellular structure by being mindful of my experience: I am doing this for the first time, and it's ok. I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and there is all the time in the world for me to do it in. And I got that damn tire changed. That awesome new tire on my kickass mountain bike that I love. Yes I did. And each time I tried to do something that required tools or building or fixing, I let myself feel more and more worthy of time, attention, and skill-building.
So. All of this is to say: be mindful, people. Everyone around you – every single person and every experience in your life – has medicine to offer, whether it's about changing a tire... letting go of a beautiful but boundaried identity... supporting another... or anything else you may be healing in yourself. You can pay a skilled therapist to see this stuff in you and guide you toward healing (I will always recommend Hakomi therapists). You can come see someone like me who will work mindfully with you to make change by the grace of the shamanic realms. AND, most importantly, you can know that every single person - every experience in your life - is here by your choosing and your creation (consciously or not) to show you where you need healing and to bring that healing on, if you are willing to go there. The only thing standing in the way of you receiving the medicine is you. So be mindful. Slow down. Take your time. Take it in. Feel gratitude. There is love and healing for you. It abounds. The Universe is conspiring for your healing and your total experience of freedom, if you want it (and you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now). Open your eyes. Listen. Slow down. Take the time to let the medicine move through you.
It is yours, if you will have it.
We are all on this journey toward who we really are. We are all coming home.
Artwork by visionary artist Amanda Sage
Every once in a while, big themes make themselves obvious in our community. When common threads start weaving their way through our web, I think it's worth talking about. Big things come up for healing in waves. We are all in this together. All part of the web. And lately, people are suffering from unsuccessfully dealing with being triggered by their partners. I'm thankful for the friends and clients who have honored me by sharing their experience and allowing me to see the commonalities. Let's talk about it (ok, I'll talk about it since I'm the one writing). But first, let me say that this blog post is, as my dear teacher Carla would say, "dog shit real" ( referring to the everyday chore of picking up your dog's poop). It's practical. You can do all kinds of therapy to uncover and change unconscious beliefs; this post is not about that. It's about the practical, dog shit, here-we-are-being-triggered-and-what-do-we-do-about-it-in-the-moment stuff. So let's talk about it:
Your partner says something like, "I can feel myself getting worked up because of what you just said." Or, "let's talk about what's happening between us lately." Or, "it didn't work for me when you did XYZ." Or, "I need more XYZ from you in our relationship." Or, "I feel like our sex life is dead." Or, "I haven't felt our connection for a while." Or even, "I didn't do that thing you asked me to do." They may say any number of things, and BAM - your heart starts pounding, your temperature rises, you may even start shaking. You shoot through the roof with feelings of anger and resentment. Or your chest gets tight and you feel accused, get defensive, and harden to the horrible interaction you feel is suddenly underway. Or you feel like you're in a glass box - separated, deaf and mute. Whatever your reaction, you are in survival mode and no longer available for connection. It's possible that past trauma has been triggered. Even if not, your response has come from a place of fear instead of love.
Unless you can somehow manage to get present from that out-of-control place that feels so crazy, the interaction is kind of doomed. That is, it's going to be the same as it was last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, where nothing changes relationally... when really, if you listen to your heart, it's crying for something different. So. What to do?
My husband Peter is pretty masterful at this whole thing. Actually, in the course of our 10 years together, we've both figured it out (for our relationship, anyway). I should ask him to write part of this. He's got a much more masculine perspective than I do, and so has something different to offer. Peter?
One of the favorite pieces of relationship advice I like to give is the "whatever, man" lesson. We/I/all of us tend to take things way too personally. So fragile we all are - and so important. Acceptance and openness is what is needed in times of conflict, but it is so hard when we feel loathing or react emotionally.
Loving Aowyn has taught me the beauty of acceptance. Acceptance is a win-win. For a combination of reasons, we are good at accepting and are blessed as a couple; but admittedly, there have been times when I couldn't accept, which is where "whatever, man" came from.
"Whatever, man" means:
If I can't accept right away, I try "whatever, man" - and interestingly, I usually snap very quickly into love and acceptance. "Whatever, man" is a warm shelter of good vibes. Yes... it sometimes takes swallowing a bitter pill to get there. But the benefit is very sweet. A happy partner is a happy relationship is a happy me. Aowyn does a lot of bending and accepting of me too, and we both get to express what doesn't work for us... humanely. We bend for each other and we both see it, which inspires more bending and more communication and more desire to satisfy each other.
So this is a really small but kind of perfect example. I read what Peter wrote and right away I'm like, I can't post that. Whatever, man? Really? But I breathe into it and I remember that this is Peter's way of softening so we can continue our communication, and I trust him. I know it works for him. And it actually works for me. It really does work for the health of our relationship. I inhale. And good lord, do we adore each other. We openly, genuinely appreciate each other throughout the day, every day, even when we're working through something that's really challenging. I exhale and my heart speaks. We may have different ways and different explanations for what we're doing internally, but the end result is connection and acceptance and as a result, productive, transformative communication. Ah, there's the breath.
For me, the key is mindfulness. "Mindfulness" is not just a trendy word. It is a real thing: the ability to watch my experience at the same time as I'm having it. Sometimes Peter triggers me. There is always the option to shut down, to go into "poor me" mode, to heatedly blame him for whatever's handy at the time, or to assume this is unsolvable and withdraw or leave the room. At this point in our relationship, I'm glad to say that none of those are actual options for me. Instead of reacting, I literally witness my internal experience. I watch myself as my breathing becomes tight, my body tenses, my impulse to clarify or correct comes up (there's a survivor part of me who needs to be seen accurately and a perfectionist part of me who needs to feel superior)... I watch feelings of insecurity, or watch myself feeling bad about my behavior... any topic or category of experience can come up. I watch it all arise in me without reacting (similar to Peter "swallowing a bitter pill."). I breathe. If I'm struggling with being mindful while the conversation continues, I might say, "hang on a sec," and because he sees I am working with something and probably can't hear him, he becomes silent and holds space. I watch the thoughts and feelings arise and recede in me. I breathe, soften my belly, and feel into it all to decide whether or not my heart needs to speak up about something (this is Peter's "does it really matter?"). I get present again. I am in this moment with my husband who loves me and who I love. I respect his feelings and I know that he is describing his experience of whatever is happening, which is innately different from mine (here's Peter's "there's an order or reason you don't understand"). And I know that his communication is loving - because we are addressing something, because we both care about our relationship and want it to be the best it can be. And we continue the conversation, as Peter says, humanely. Lovingly. With care.
We do our internal work in the way that helps each of us to chill out and be present so we can actually hear each other from a loving place. We are a married couple. We are not identical spiritual and emotional twins. We have different karma, different pasts, different wounding, different healing, different genes and DNA and personalities and needs and interests, etc, etc, etc. We are never going to handle things exactly the same as each other... but we have both persevered in finding ways that bring each of us back to love, a willingness to try, and acceptance of WHAT IS.
So how do you get to that place? I'll use two M words: mindfulness meditation. Go ahead, groan if you must (or nod in total agreement). Daily practice will truly change your experience of life. And then there's remembering to breathe. And there's slowing way, way down and making space. And I'm sure Peter would have other things to say. This might easily turn into a book, but this is just a blog and you have things to think and feel about. So go do that. I'll be back with more soon.
Love and Blessings from a "Dog Shit Practical" and Deeply Spiritual Path of True Awakening ~
Sometimes the sweetest healing is not when things change, but when you feel like everything’s all right anyway. Not when the problems are fixed, but when you feel ok even though they’re here. You no longer fight or avoid or complain about it. You feel loving acceptance of what is.
Even though your life looks different than what you wanted. Even though you just did that old pattern of behavior again. Even though you fell off the wagon. Even though your son avoids you. Even though your friend takes but doesn’t give. Even though you’re bored with life. You look at yourself and your troubles, and you feel love. You accept that this is what’s here, now.
The troubles are still there. It’s your experience of it all that’s different… lighter... accepting. It’s not a closing off, a hardening, an avoidance, a “screw it” attitude. You experience joy and openheartedness, even when the things that used to bother you (inside or outside of you) are still happening.
Not that you don’t take action to create the life you want, but your experience of the way things are right now is different. Your loving acceptance changes you.
Maybe you see the problems for the opportunities that they might be, and the way you take action changes.
You trust that while you may never have all the answers – you may never figure anything out (in fact, maybe you don’t need to) – it will all unfold perfectly, likely in ways you never expected (in fact, maybe it already has).
Have you experienced loving acceptance of what is? How does it feel? How did you get there?
Do you feel that acceptance helps or hinders progress? Is it an end in itself?
Do you resist acceptance? Why?
To be continued…
One of the things we often hear about people who choose a spiritual path in life is that they become reliant upon - even addicted to - outside sources of support - workshops, therapists, healers, teachers, gurus, spiritual experiences of all kinds. I admit I've been no exception. I first jokingly and honestly called myself a "self-help junkie" about 15 years ago. My search for healing and awakening started long before that, culminating in three years of intense self-awareness and healing via experiential training, mindfulness-based therapy, working with healing practitioners, constant reading and research, and regular shamanic healing ceremonies. There was much to be healed, and I hit it hard. And it was hard, very hard; but also incredibly beautiful.
"Suddenly," over the course of about a year of integration, I realized that I'd been spit out the other end into... nothing. Peace. Stillness. Regular life (gasp!). And I started longing for those healing experiences again. I started looking for something in me that needed help. Surely there must be something to work on. I bet I can come up with something.. or if I can't, someone else can... but nothing came. Nothing comes. I'm done (for now). The task before me is nothing more than living life. Nothing to see here, folks. Just being, listening deeply, making decisions, taking action. Regular life.
Healing and coming home to you true self is powerful business. It's potent. Excavating. Painful. Blissful. Transformative. Enlightening. Necessary. It blows your socks off again and again while you fall on your face, then humbly bow in deepest gratitude to Source, to yourself, to the fantastic experiment that is human life. You crawl into your shadows, do the work, then rise and soar - fresh, cleaned, bright, full. Empty. Even with its periods of stillness, the process can be dramatic.
Pretty enticing, huh? If you have work to do, by all means, dive in. As a practitioner, I'm here to serve you for as long as you need.
But eventually, there comes and end - or at least, a pause (the work is never done). Eventually, all those prayers you made are answered, the intentions manifested, the wounds healed, the channel opened. You've put your therapists and other practitioners out of work (unless they're in it for the wrong reasons, your complete healing is their goal, anyway). So now what?
Guess I'll go see a healer, just in case...
Lovingly, compassionately, I say: No!
It's possible and even probable that you're really, truly ok. There's no need to stir up trouble where there is none. Elective surgery is a waste of time, energy, money and focus. A baseball analogy from my mentor:
If what's pitched is a troubled fantasy of your busy mind, don't swing at it.
The truth is in your stillness. Integration begins, continues and eventually settles while you move through the wide open space like a newborn, a toddler, an adolescent, an adult. It's Life. Just you and you, and your family, your friends, your dog. Movies and books. Walks in the forest. Sunrises. Sunsets. Work. Life. It's amazing - the perfection, the complexity, the simplicity of it all. The contentment that is available.
What happens when you are healed? Anything you choose. Turn your face to the sunshine. Feel the breeze on your skin. Listen. Trust. Be in loving acceptance of what is. Joyfully engage with Spirit in this present moment. That piece of work you've been working on is done. New work has begun, and it's Creation.
Spirit is always present. The voice of knowing resides within. Eventually, another layer will peel away and it will be time to take another dive. And so, for now, perhaps this is the final piece of it all, this addiction to needing and getting help. This piece is for you, me, us to watch and work out - play with - on our own. So easy, really, considering what's available in the beauty of just being. Turn your face to the sunshine.
For me, life has bliss as its core. It's my true mode of service. It's simple. It's good. It's genius, really. With gratitude, I say: it's enough.
For many (including me), winter is a time of celebration and indulgence. There are parties to attend, cozy gatherings by the fire with friends, and holidays to celebrate. December is also my birthday month; so for me, it's pretty much one long celebration from Thanksgiving through New Year's... and maybe a little bit before and after. With the celebration comes food, and often different or more food than we might normally eat.
Taking a moment in silence before eating can benefit your health and wellbeing, and it can create a loving relationship for you with your food. "Saying grace" is a beautiful practice year-round. It isn't just for people who consider themselves spiritual; it's a way to honor your body, your health and the food that nourishes you. I pray before every meal, and it looks something like this:
With eyes closed and both feet on the floor, I get mindful about my physical and energetic bodies. Am I feeling rushed in some way? Is my mind elsewhere? Deepening the breath, I settle down, settle in to the moment. I am sitting. I am here to eat. I check in with my belly - am I holding my belly's muscles? I let go and soften. The digestive system functions best when we are internally calm.
From here, I imagine/experience a spaciousness inside my belly, and I notice that it expands through the top of my head and the palms of my feet. I feel my connection to the Earth, remembering that this is where my food comes from. I sense the food on my plate and imagine each piece and what it was like before it was harvested... growing out of the Earth, hanging from a tree, grazing in a field. I offer my gratitude to the food while imagining each piece - thank you, broccoli. Thank you, quinoa. Thank you, chicken. Even something like pizza: thank you, wheat in the fields. Thank you, tomatoes on the vine. Thank you, oregano in the soil. Thank you, cow, for the cheese.
Opening more to the internal silence, I begin to sense the loving energy from the food already making its way into my body, and I feel gratitude for this gift of nourishment. I thank my body for doing its amazing job of processing the food I need to live. Thank you, body. I love you.
Opening my eyes, I see the food and let feelings of joy and gratitude flow between us while I begin to eat.
This might seem long and complicated to someone who isn't used to doing it; it actually takes just a minute, once you're in the practice of it. Your pre-meal prayer might look different from this, but the elements may be the same: settling the body and mind, and offering thanks. Not just saying the words, but letting yourself really experience the feeling of connection and gratitude (experience is key here).
In Cleve Backster's studies about biocommunication with plants, living foods and human cells, we learn that our foods (and other plants, and animals, and humans) actually feel and react to our energy. If you are feeling anxious, angry or irritated when you eat, the food will feel it, and you will ingest its fight-or-flight reactive energy (which shows up as a "scream" when the plant is connected to a polygraph chart). On the other hand, if you settle into a place of love and gratitude, your food will respond in kind, filling you with its brightest energy.
We can develop a relationship with the plants and animals that are in our lives, and also with our food. In this season of celebration, I invite you to cherish and celebrate your friends, your family, your community, and the food you are blessed to receive.
May you have what you need to live well. May your body receive the nutrients it needs in order to thrive, and may you easily release anything that is not useful. May your relationship with your food be made of love, enjoyment, and gratitude. Bon appetit!
With Blessings of Love and Peace,
Hello! My last couple of blog posts have been in response to a number of people who are feeling called to be in service as a healing practitioner. There are common threads that weave their way through the beginning of that calling... humility, reverence and gratitude being the core practices. This last piece is for those people who are ready to jump in right now.
So What Do I Do Now?
When you first start awakening to Spirit, it's very, very exciting. You probably want to practice, go out and heal everyone, get started, get going, be in service, even start a business about it. Just do it! Right? It's exciting! It's also very easy to become so focused on helping other people that you stop working on yourself. Being able to offer effective therapy or energy healing doesn't mean you are done with your own human evolution!
I once participated in a training that had a prerequisite of ten private sessions with a therapist who practiced the methods we would be learning. Most of the participants didn't do it - they never personally experienced the methods we were learning. They were learning the techniques during the training, but they weren't pursuing personal growth... and it showed in their work. Eventually several of them did seek support for their own healing, and their service improved tenfold. There are successful counselors whose personal relationships are muddled. There are energy workers who have no boundaries, or who don't respect others' boundaries. There are bodyworkers who don't take care of their physical health. There are gurus who use their status to attract devotees in order to feel loved, wanted and powerful. With a muddled inner channel, the service isn't as pure as it could be; the support offered is tainted by the ego's drive to meet its needs in lieu of its own healing.
The most important thing you can possibly do to encourage your development as a helper is to be proactive about your own healing and evolution.
Be honest with yourself. Witness your habits, your fears, the way you are in relationship with others - and pursue healing for any wounding you are carrying. Get help. See a healing practitioner. Be in therapy (I'm completely biased... preferably mindfulness-based, somatic, experiential therapy). Meditate. Participate in healing ceremonies. Talk to each other. Practice vulnerability. Invite freedom. Invite Love. Become the open channel you wish to be by being active in your own evolutionary process.
Imagine the difference between pushing your hands through a mud-filled tunnel with sticks and rocks in it... and sliding easily through a smooth, open channel to what's on the other side. Get it?
Besides that, listen to your heart and follow your nose. What you are truly and naturally attracted to in this work is where your gifts lie. As my mentor says, if it makes you wag your tail, it's the right thing.
You will know what to do when the time is right.
My sweet friends, blessings on your amazing journey. May you know peace and clarity as your calling unfolds.
With Love and admiration,
I continue to see clients and others who are feeling called to be in service. It's becoming easier for Spirit to be seen, felt, heard, and interacted with. There are commonalities to each person's experience during this time of awakening - commonalities that thread their way through the personalities of counselors, healing practitioners, channels, yoga teachers, and so many others. Last week I posted a blog that talked about everyone having the ability to experience spirit, and the importance of each person's unique offering. Here are a couple more pieces that I hope will be useful to you as you open to your own relationship with Spirit, your abilities and service. I trust in right timing... some of this may resonate for you, and some of it may not, and all of that is perfect.
You Don't Need to Know Anything
(In fact, it's usually better if you don't.)
You may find that you're having revelations or "downloads," or that thematic symbols keep popping up all around you. You may suddenly perceive someone's energetic body, or receive direction from someone you can't see with your physical eyes. You may learn things about your past lives that feel crystal-clear and familiar.
It's incredibly tempting to try to make meaning of things. To connect the dots between your experiences. To answer the unanswerable questions. To take immediate and sometimes dramatic action based on recent revelations. To declare yourself to "Be Something" (see below - Dissolve Your Identity).
It's best now to just breathe. Allow the questions to inform your life, without needing to know the answers. There is a difference between harnessing the mind's brilliance in service to Spirit, and letting the mind steer the ship. Best to just breathe for now, and trust that you'll know when it's time to do something.
When you encounter Spirit or when Spirit shares information with you, let yourself be filled with gratitude, without expectation and with openness. Gratitude is the best gift you can offer, and a valuable tool for staying in relationship with Spirit - simply sitting with gratitude in the presence of the Great Mystery. And continuing to listen - without grasping for more. Allowing the questions to be, without expectation. Holding it all humbly, with gratitude and reverence.
Dissolve Your Identity
It's also tempting to decide who you are - to label yourself or assume a new identity - based on an encounter with Spirit. It's a journey many people take - something like: I've had these magical experiences, and I want to pin it down and make it permanent. I want people to think of me in this way.
Attaching to a title or living an identity can put ego firmly in the driver's seat. It can put the focus on the title and how the world perceives you, rather than just being who you are.
If you take a look at the people you consider your teachers in life, you will find that while some of them are truly teaching, giving or serving, some of them are doing their work with the goal of achieving status, being the only one who does what they do, or being looked up to. This is an unfortunate turn, and it has led many people into a life of fame, fortune and fakery. Once an identity takes hold - whether it's Counselor, Therapist, Professor, Lawyer, Doctor, Shaman, Healer - it's a slippery slope to believing that you know more than others, or that you know their inner workings and the only proper solution to their struggles. From there, it's another slippery slope to missing the guidance that comes from Spirit in favor of the ego's direction. True curiosity and allowing healing or change to occur get lost behind the belief that you know better than the other person. The belief that you know better is a great misuse of your power, whether it's outwardly expressed or held energetically, as it falsely empowers you while disempowering the person you're working with. To believe that you know more or better than your client/partner/boyfriend/parent is to disrespect their innate wisdom and personal healing abilities.
Rather than clinging to an identity,
try standing in this field:
I am in service.
I live joyfully.
I move when I am called.
I trust in the natural unfolding
of all things.
With joy and gratitude, I allow.
This is an amazing life we're living. Many blessings to you as you continue your process of awakening, acceptance and connection. Blessings of Love for your beautiful heart. May your relationship with Spirit be felt, and may it be a source of Love and joy for you.
Part three of this train of thought is on its way... looking at the question So What Do I Do Now?
In the past year, I've had the great honor of watching clients and friends realize that they are feeling called to be in service. There are commonalities to each person's experience - commonalities that thread their way through the personalities of counselors, healing practitioners, channels, yoga teachers, and so many others. I'd like to share some of this with you because so many people are starting their relationship with Spirit... and since you are reading this, it's likely that you may be experiencing some of these things. I hope it's useful to you.
We All Have These Abilities
When we start to open to the spirit realm (through clairvoyance, clairaudience, claircognizance, actual healings taking place, or any other Spirit-guided experience) it can feel extremely potent and unique. And we feel really special, which we are... but no more special than anyone else. It's important to know that and to live with humility, knowing that it is a gift to be opening in this way at this time, and that everyone has this ability. Over time, more and more people wake up to the existence of Spirit. Perhaps it's happening to you right now. Perhaps it's happening to your neighbor, too.
The ability to experience Spirit gets covered up over time by the material world, learned beliefs, environmental factors, personal woundings, the media, societal influences, addictions, etc. Life is a process of peeling back the layers until all that's left is Truth. Connecting with Spirit is innate to us. We are Spirits living in human bodies! Somewhere along the way, you may find that you are ready to experience this truth of who you are, and to connect with the Spirit that exists in everything.
Let yourself feel gratitude for where you've been. Gratitude for where you are now, and for where you will be. Offer gratitude for the waking of your friends and families. Offer gratitude for those who are asleep. Make prayers for the awakening of all Beings.
Your Way is Unique
Many people will try to learn methods and techniques, rituals and ceremonies, words and ways that have been used by others. It is wonderful and useful to have a variety of tools in your toolbox, but the best way you can possibly be of service is to find your own way. Find your own connection to Spirit. Follow the guidance that you receive. Trust it. There is no need to copy someone else's way of doing things. It is the fact of your blessed uniqueness - all the things that come together to make you YOU - that creates the medicine that only YOU can be. Your unique medicine is needed. It is what is being called forth. To emulate others is to turn your back on the unique gifts you have to give.
And... because each person's relationship with Spirit is different, different wisdom will be brought forth through each person. Please don't admonish one another for doing things "incorrectly" or in a way that is out of line with what you have learned. We must make space for each others' truths. Rituals and beliefs vary widely from tribe to tribe and culture to culture. A symbol may mean one thing at one time or place, and another thing at another time or place. A ceremonial tool may be used one way by one person, and another way by another person. A song that heals one person may be completely neutral for another person. There are many, many guides at work - the ascended masters, interdimensional beings, ancestors, animals, plants, elementals, archangels, the many aspects of the Divine Mother, and so many more - and they may share different things with different people. Certain spirit guides will work with some people and not others. This is because we each have a different job to do, just like them.
The most important thing for each of you is to listen closely to your own experience. Hold your precious truth with love and gentleness. Behold the variety of gifts that Spirit brings through different people. Allow gratitude for these many ways, these many blessings... in you, exactly the way you are; and in others, exactly the way they are.
I hope this has been useful for you. I send you Love and support while you discover your path and find your way.
Soon to come in Parts 2 and 3... you don't need to know anything. Just be who you are. Listen to your heart. That's really all you need to do.
We have the power to help each other heal from our deepest wounds and truly come alive. It's in relationship where the wounds occurred, and it's in relationship where the healing happens. The amazing thing about how humans work is that the healing can come from someone other than the person who hurt you. Our brains and hearts register the salve. This affords each of us the opportunity to heal and be healed in the present moment, and to become free.
I'm remembering a visit with an old friend - someone I'd known for most of my life - and how I'd hoped we'd learn about who we had each become since our last visit. An opportunity arose for him to attend a workshop I was leading - to experience a part of me he didn't know, my true work and purpose, something I deeply value. I looked forward to sharing myself with him in this way. After the event, he spoke at length about his impressions of the space and the other people who were there, with nothing to say about my offering. I was surprised and a little disappointed, but realized that he needed attention as much as (or perhaps more than) I'd wanted it; and until his heart's longing for appreciation was satisfied, our connection would remain stagnate.
Over the next few days, I offered him my presence and my loving attention. After some time, his energy shifted away from getting his need for attention met. His twitchy hands settled. He relaxed into his chair. The pace of his speaking slowed. Slowly, the conversation turned from stories about himself to curiosity about my life and eventually, shared vulnerability and rich connection... and we parted with hearts full of love.
By receiving the medicine he needed, my friend was able to stop working so hard to be loved. He was able to stop trying, and could instead just be. Freed from his struggle, he relaxed into his own lovingness.
There have been many times when I too have been consciously held in a friend's container of love. I was changed, and I am forever grateful.
We can receive the healing that others offer. And as our hearts are healed, space is made in us so that we can tune in more and more easily to others.
We can give one another the missing experience that will heal old wounds. With our presence, our attention and our love, we can help our friends to reclaim their sense of worthiness. By allowing and appreciating our friends' self-expression, we can help them to feel safe and valuable. With our consistency and follow-through, we can help our friends to not feel abandoned. When we listen with our hearts and act with intention, we can help one another to become empowered, to be authentic, and to know love. We can be the medicine for one another. We can spread love and compassion from one person to the next, helping each one to stop fighting to exist, empowering every person to be who they really are, until our friends, our communities, and eventually the whole world is healed.
Are you with me?
As you move along this path of remembering who you really are, it can be tempting to judge your own progress or compare yourself to others. Sometimes it can feel like you're sliding backwards in your evolution. Sometimes you might think that others are "ahead" of you, or that you've suddenly leapt forward in awareness, leaving others in the dust. This kind of comparison leads to jealousy and insecurity... or superiority, and untimely "teaching moments"... none of which is Love. And as my friend Howard likes to say, "If it's not Love, it's not me."
Your Healing is My Healing, is Everyone's Healing
Temptation Number One: Comparing Yourself to Others
Years ago, I struggled with feelings of insecurity. I had several close friends with whom I engaged in games of unspoken competition. One of us would have an epiphany, a moment of awakening to some eternal Truth. And of course, her relationships suddenly flourished... she felt happy, peaceful and alive... her creativity flowed, she moved forward with her life's purpose... and she gushed about her newfound clarity to the others. And the others felt diminished. Less than. Jealous. Not at all supportive or happy for the one who was experiencing the joy. Certainly there was no gratitude that one of us was evolving. In private, we talked to each other about how each of us rode the rollercoaster, with highs of personal success that bottomed out in feelings of resentment, separation, jealousy, longing and depression.
I remember one of these friends riding her high and saying that she was so close to enlightenment.
But there is no end point. This whole life experience is one long process. The state of enlightenment is one that may be experienced again and again and again, but there is no final moment when we have arrived. No line to cross that says we are finally "done."
And no real point in comparing ourselves to others. One of the coolest things I know is that when any one of us heals a wound or wakes up to some truth, every one of us is affected. Particularly when we're in close proximity, drawn into each others' lives, magnetized into relationship. Knowing our connectedness, there's room for compassion for a person's experience. Here, there is gratitude for a friend's awakening. They are doing that piece of work for themselves and for us. They are contributing to the whole of our shared experience. We're all connected, you see... and when I heal something in me, you will feel the effects, simply by my being. When you heal something in you and your authentic presence is offered, I too will transform.
Your Beingness is the Teacher
Temptation Number Two: Becoming the All-Knowing Preacher
You are likely to see things about others that they are not yet seeing. Maybe it's not a lesson you need to learn, or maybe you've already learned that lesson. You've been there, you've suffered, you've come out the other side, you have a moment of awakening, you have a new vantage point... and you're ready to tell your friend what they need to do in order to transform. You pause and breathe, then bestow upon your friend your vision of what they're doing wrong, what they're not seeing, and how they can fix it. It feels like a courageous, loving act to you, with the good of your friend in mind... but the point is either missed, or the interaction results in emotional distancing. Sound familiar?
You might also remember being that friend. A time when someone else tried to clue you in. And how long it took you to actually have a fully embodied aha! experience.
Our eyes open at the exact moment that they are supposed to.
No sooner, no later.
The best thing we can do for our friends is to live what we know. Be who we are. Connect with others through our compassion. Be vulnerable about our own experience, without hidden teaching motives. Simply by your being - and holding the vibration of the transcendence you have experienced - you offer your friend a hand.
It's All Forward Movement. All of It.
Temptation Number Three: Judging Yourself
Some days you feel simply amazing. You feel joyful, connected, useful... you know who you are, and you experience freedom. Some days you feel kind of dull or depressed. Not at all connected. Like a shadow has moved over your being. And you wonder... what happened? I was doing so good. I thought I was moving forward.
As your awareness grows, you're likely to notice these ups and downs more clearly than before. Life will continue to give you the very examples you need in order to continue to refine your vantage point of understanding. In other words, the plummets you feel aren't backslides; they're opportunities for awareness, healing and refinement. The darkness usually carries within it a bright light.
This morning I watched myself flow back and forth between the pure experience of Oneness, and intense moments of fear regarding my physical safety. At first, I got completely wrapped up in the fear. But breathing into it, I eventually started just noting the fear. Hm. There's that again. Ok... oh, there's that. Hello. Ok. I realized that fear is an illusion. There was nothing for me to figure out, no judging myself - only the witnessing of the waves as they rolled in and out. It felt right, and brought me again and again to who I really am.
Look what happens to the scale when Love holds it.
It stops working.
I hope this is useful to you in some way. Thank you for drawing these words out of me, and for your loving attentiveness to your own experience. Your healing is my healing, is her healing, is everyone's healing.
Blessings, Friends. May we all live with reverence and humility in the presence of deep transformation. May we each know the truth of who we are, and may we live that knowing with love, grace, acceptance and compassion.
As I continue on this path of knowing and experiencing Oneness, my purpose and my life in service becomes more and more clear. What I know is refining itself. This probably isn't as refined as it will be, but it's what I know today. Some of this might resonate with you, some of it might not, and all of that is perfect.
Each of us has manifested into what we experience as "me" or "myself." At the same time, there are multiple aspects of the self. Each of these parts of us has the opportunity, in every moment, to choose to think, speak, or do what we know is true for us... or to not follow that knowing, and choose otherwise - acting from fear, insecurity, superiority, lack, etc.
Choosing to think, speak or do something that isn't in alignment with who we really are brings separation from ourselves and others. We feel discord internally, which could manifest as depression, anxiety or illness. We might experience relationships and situations that are painful. But when we choose to think, speak or do something that is in alignment with who we really are, we feel at peace, inspired, connected, joyful, at ease. We feel "in the flow," and we see the results of that in the situations and relationships we encounter.
Whatever we choose, we affect all aspects of ourselves, and all aspects of ourselves feel the impact. When we live from our truth, we positively affect and change our "fragmented selves." Likewise, all other manifestations of our spirit - "past lives" - are affected, as are all aspects of self of each of those manifestations. This is why we might suddenly feel depressed or elated - or experience deja vu - for no obvious reason. We are being tugged vibrationally by the experience of another part of ourselves.
That's big. But it gets bigger.
We are not only affecting ourselves;
we are all connected to each another.
My choice to think, speak or do something that is in alignment with who I am will affect you, as will my choice to think, speak or do something that is out of alignment with who I am. You've felt this before - you walk into a room and your friend there is angrily expressing her judgment, or she's collapsed in insecurity... and you are affected mentally, emotionally, energetically, or physically. Or you enter a space where someone is expressing love just by being solid in themselves, and something in you feels invited to be free.
So who am I? Who are you? And why is life so hard sometimes?
We are each a Divine manifestation of Oneness, which is love. We are each perfect. The consciousness that we are has intentionally chosen, with each physical manifestation, to place ourselves in situations and among people that will clearly show us who we don't want to be, who we aren't, what we don't want... so that we might remember who we are and what we do want. Our task is to become aware of the process, so that we can consciously choose to live our truth. It's designed to be enjoyable - the glimpses we get of truth and alignment feel good in order to attract us to it (ie. resentment feels bad, gratitude feels good) so that we want to make our choices based on who we really are. In doing so, we positively affect the whole.
Despite many of our people and leaders continuing to make choices that separate people from one another and negatively affect the whole, there is a huge and growing number of people around the planet who are becoming aware, step by step, and who are living a life of Divine truth, which is affecting each one of us. This is the now that we live in. I believe that eventually, we will all come to know our connectedness. We will, in ourselves and with each other, become a unified whole. We will live in love. We will live in peace. It may not be tomorrow, or in what we perceive to be "this lifetime", but it will happen. There is no other outcome. Our individual and collective integrity continues to grow. We are currently living in the most awakened time that has ever been. And we are each a part of it.
As I said, all of this will continue to be refined.
I am dedicated to living a life of truth, based on love, and to supporting others to do the same. I am doing it for me and for you, for the Oneness that we are. I support you to be this truth, so that you can ignite truth in others. I am not a guru. I am not the answer. But I am an essential and powerful piece of the puzzle - just as you are. I have chosen to live in service to this end: that all beings come to know the Oneness of who we are, so that we can return home to our essence while manifested here as human beings, so that we can truly live in harmony. That is the vision I hold.
I want you to know who you truly are. This is why I'm here. I've always told people that I'm not "doing" anything to them during our sessions. What I mean is that you are in your process of healing and awakening. I am not doing it. You are. I am here to see the truth of who you are, and gently, care-fully shepherd your realization. My true job is to stay aligned so that Spirit can do the healing through me; and to stay clear of mind in order to use various tools and methods to serve that process. Thank you for allowing me the honor of serving you. Thank you for your courage. I see you. I love you.
There is no one right spiritual path. No religion, no text, no practice that is The One Way. This is something I've always known, but in the last year it's really hit home.
I used to judge my partner's path. Not in a big, outward, critical way, but something in me judged him for not being drawn to the same practices I was, in terms of spirituality and evolution. I was unsure he'd ever "get there" (as though there was somewhere to get to). Over time, I began to really focus on my own healing. Really long story short: this led me to more authenticity and truth - and to valuing authenticity and truth in others. And then...
... through the practices that work for me, I began to realize the Earth's desire is not only to sustain us with food, but to heal us through her presence and her medicines - trees, plants, stones, all of it. And not only the Earth, but the air, the rain, the sun, the water. I began to exist in loving relationship with our planet, its inhabitants, and the elements... which blossomed into a new love and way of being with other humans, and in life in general. I understood in a new way that with our greed, superiority and entitlement, humans have blatantly and mindlessly disregarded and harmed the Earth in spite of the nurturing, loving, healing, generous home and food and medicine that she is for us. This disrespect has led humans into separation from the Earth, from one another and from God... not to mention the mass destruction of our planet and her atmosphere, our home. I pray for the Earth's forgiveness, and for us to learn how to be in right relationship with her.
Then I truly saw my partner. He lives in relationship with the Earth, the plants and animals. His worldly work revolves around sustainability and eco-consciousness. He is most joyful when he has his hands in the dirt, when he's gardening, creating art from natural elements, tending wounded animals, or delighting in the birds that visit our land. He is an emotional bridge-builder, a loving support for people in need, a wise and humble man. Without following any of the practices I follow, he has lived in that place where I finally arrived.
My way still looks different from his. We still engage in different practices. They'll never be exactly the same. And the path, the healing and awakenings continue to unfold in new directions for each of us. What's important is that there are commonalities between us in terms of service, spirit and relationship. The foundation for all of it - our practices, our commonalities and differences - is love.
I recently went to a Foursquare Church service. The sermon was focused on Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life. The speaker very pointedly said that Jesus is the one and only way - that the path to God is very narrow, it is forever, and it is Jesus. That there is nothing else that leads to God. It was implied several times that any way other than Jesus is an attempt to "be cool," and is misguided. That is not my experience. I love Jesus. I feel his presence, and I know him more truly than ever. I know him as part of my always-present unseen tribe, one of many ascended masters, a healer, a being who exists in love and service, and a beautiful model for who we really are. My spiritual journey did begin with him - he was indeed the doorway, when I met him at age 16. But the neverending Way, the infinite Truth and the eternal Life is in no way narrow, or singularly focused. It is expansive. Wherever there is love - this is the Way. This is the Truth. This is Life with God.
So. What I'm trying to say is that your spiritual path will not look like anyone else's. It can't. And that is perfect. If your path does look exactly like someone else's, it's likely that you're actually serving your ego - rather than using the brilliance of your ego to support your truth.
You may find that your path is art. It might be meditation. It might be yoga, or dance, or other physical practices. It could be kirtan, or prayer, or shamanic ceremony, or walking in the woods, or walking in your neighborhood. It might be reveling at sacred music festivals, or it might be sharing a picnic in the park with your community. It might include seeking guidance, or it might be your own private experience. Your true way might be in service as a nurse, a counselor, a gardener, a teacher. You might practice being vulnerable and transparent, and supporting that in others. You might relate with others from a state of mindfulness and compassion, in a workplace that otherwise has none. You might challenge yourself to complete an obstacle course, physically and emotionally supporting and being supported by your team every step of the way through muck and mud and pain and exhaustion and success. You might find yourself truly enjoying being with your friends and family. There is no one path to God. The Way, the Truth and the Life is Love.
And Love, my friends, is no narrow path. It doesn't wear blinders. It doesn't judge. Love includes and accepts. Love trusts. Love sets appropriate boundaries. Love knows what is truly right. Love is humble and empowered. Love works, and love rests. Love has feelings. Love knows peace.
I pray to exist in Love.
I pray for you to trust yourself, to allow the voice of your truth to speak to you, and to follow the spiritual path that is right for you. I pray for you to exist in Love. I pray for your acceptance and your joy. May your Divine purpose be fulfilled.
So now I'm thinking about how each of us is in a different place on the path, and how easy it can be to compare ourselves to others. More on that soon.
There is nothing wrong with you.
Every piece of your life is happening exactly as it is supposed to – your relationships, your feelings, your choices, the way you experience life. You are the creator of your experience; everything in your life is there by your choosing – consciously or unconsciously in this human lifetime, originating in your mind, your heart, your energetic vibration; and more importantly, your Higher Self chose everything you are experiencing in order to allow you the experience of complete separation – so that your journey back to Oneness will be all the more sweet.
You are, in fact, drawing everything in your life to you. Some of what you’re experiencing may bring you suffering. It can be that way, if you choose - and you might choose this separation for a long time. Another route would be to know who you really are, live from your heart (not your mind), feel your true feelings, and bring your awareness to your experience. In doing so, you create the opportunity for you to return home to the Oneness, choose what is the highest good for you and for all, and to manifest your heart’s desire.
I’m not talking about manifesting yourself a shiny new car – although abundance may bring you a form of transportation, if it is what you truly need. I am talking about living a life that is based on the presence of Love in you. Loving and caring for you and for all beings. Fulfilling your Divine Purpose. Living a life that is for the highest good of all, with you as its Creator.
May Love be the foundation for the existence of all beings. May all beings come to know themselves as Source. May Oneness be truly known and experienced by all.
More to come...
This song and video never stops touching my heart. Thank you, Nahko Bear, for your humility and reassurance as we walk the path.
Voice of the One Heart
A Prayer from Light Omega
May light be victorious,
May darkness be dispelled.
May God’s plan for the Earth be fulfilled.
Now, in this holy hour,
May all come to recognize their Oneness with each other,
With the trees and plants,
With all of life.
Long has the Earth waited
For the light to transform it.
Long have hearts waited for
The hope that can lift them.
May it be now.
Now the Earth breathes a sigh of relief.
New life has begun.
May all that opposes light be dispelled.
May the light of truth arise.
May all that separates release its hold.
May only love remain.
Sanctified and holy is this Divine ordination –
That souls shall come to know God
And their Oneness with each other.
May harmony emerge from the Divine Essence within each.
May peace come to the Earth at last.
May love awaken.
May fear be dissolved in the Light of Oneness.
May light be victorious.
May all that is not that be dispelled.
May it be now.
Here, in the one Heart,
May all find rest.
May all find peace.
Here, in the one Heart,
May souls find their true home.
Beyond division, beyond all but love,
May the one Heart remain within all.
Earth Prayer is a song by Ena Vie and Howard Lipp. It is a prayer for healing, forgivenss, gratitude and love for all of creation. Woven into the song's chorus is the powerful prayer, Ho'oponopono, which is: I'm sorry, Forgive me, I love you, Thank you.
We feel it all
We come from the Light, and to it we shall return
We are the One, and in this truth we live
Here and now upon the Earth
This is our home
And when you call our name
Your ancient wisdom awakens our own
The time is now to go beyond what has been
What is to come cannot be known
I'm sorry, Forgive me
I offer this healing
I love you and Thank you, amen
I'm sorry, Forgive me
An open heart I bring
I love you and Thank you, amen
We have a choice
To walk in a good way
Make new decisions
Pray for peace within us all
We can find strength
Together we rise and face the wind
We awaken when we listen to Earth's call
Don't sleep tonight
We have a thousand songs to sing
These ancient sounds, they lift us out of suffering
Come dance with me
For there is only one prayer
Truth is all, no end and no beginning
I'm sorry, Forgive me
I offer this healing
I love you and Thank you, amen
I'm sorry, Forgive me
An open heart I bring
I love you and Thank you, amen
O Great Spirit, Creator of all Things
Of the west and the thunder
Of the east and the sun
In the north, the shining elders
And the south, our mother's womb
To those above and below us
To the seen and unseen
Those who have walked before and after
We ask your assistance to live simply
Please forgive us, for we know not what we do
And we thank you for all you help us through
I'm sorry, Forgive me
I offer this healing
I love you and Thank you, amen
I'm sorry, Forgive me
An open heart I bring
I love you and Thank you, amen.
Spiritual Bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs.
It happens when we avoid the complexity of our human experience by locating completely in the spiritual or existential realm. It’s tricky, because while it’s exquisite to bask in the bliss of Oneness, we are indeed human beings and still have to navigate being human, on our own and in relationship with others.
In Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters, Robert Augustus Masters says that some of the aspects of spiritual bypassing include:
Many of our pop culture self-help gurus carry the spiritual bypassing torch. Eastern and Western spirituality, old and new, each have their versions and methods for pushing away painful feelings.
I subscribed to these things for many years. I became a master at daily affirmations. I journaled. I chanted. I meditated. I created altars and lit candles. I visualized my chakras as the most colorful, flowing energy centers you can imagine. And I worked very hard to avoid facing or feeling pain. I avoided studying, working through or healing my past wounds. Eventually I realized that nothing was actually changing in my life, except that I was exhausted from all the spiritual maintenance I had to do to stay afloat. I continued to attract relationships where I was disempowered, feared decision making, believed I wasn’t “good enough”, couldn’t truly receive love. I continued to watch myself behave in ways that were not who I knew my true self to be, not who I wanted to be.
I knew that I had to stop trying to numb the pain, had to stop expecting my spirituality to make me feel better… but I was afraid of what I would find and feel if I really looked at what was there.
Eventually I found my way to mindfulness-based counseling. At first I judged myself for working at such a lowly human level as psychotherapy, feeling like I’d failed at what I thought were more enlightened paths to evolution (a common judgment for spiritual bypassers).
Over time I learned that mindfulness was a way for me to witness my experience at the same time I was having it. I learned how to feel my feelings, think my thoughts, sense my physical and energetic bodies, and study them at the same time. When it showed up, my spirituality was included. With the help of my therapist and by using mindfulness, safe space was created for me to work deeply and heal old wounds directly. Over time I came to know my true self. I released the layers of protection I’d developed as my mask to the world. I felt solid and empowered.
And I suddenly started to experience a true connection to the Divine.
Not one that depended on going to the right workshops, wearing the right clothes, using the right lingo, or spending all my money at the local spiritual supply store. I found myself in communication with the Divine at random times, quite naturally. My life felt not only true, but spiritually supported. It was like the Divine was smiling and thanking me for getting real. That was when my healing practice really began.
I believe that we must work with our physical, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions to locate and make habit our sense of wholeness and aliveness. With mindful, experiential self-study, it becomes easy to notice when we’re not living authentically.
I’m all for using energy healing, meditation and journeying to reach a state of relaxation or open to the energetic and spirit realms – I do it regularly! I will do it with you! And if you’re just wanting darshan, relaxation, energy work or physical injury healing, we certainly don’t have to dive deep (or even speak) for you to receive that Light. That alone is deep and powerful work, and I am solid enough in my spiritual practice – a willing, open conduit – to gladly serve you in that way.
But psycho-emotional issues and core wounding cannot be worked out by spiritual practices alone. They were not generated in the spiritual realm, but in the human realm. No matter how many times you imagine yourself bathed in white light, your core human wounds will not be healed. They were created in the human realm, and that’s where they’ll wait for you, reaching out and hitting you every so often until you finally look at them. You’ll still feel separate from groups, insecure, overpowering, self-reliant, physically tense, or whatever your special wounding and strategies may be.
This is why I offer integrated spiritual healing.
Yes, I will flow Divine energy to you. I will listen to my spiritual guides and yours, and I will follow their direction. I will surely hold a sacred crystal and pray while I do it. But I will also guide you in mindfulness to witness your very human experience. I’ll use all my tools and training to gently shine light (literally and metaphorically) into the shadows, and help you to heal whatever keeps you distanced from your partner, keeps your chest puffed up or sunken, keeps your shoulders up around your ears… whatever makes you think you have to do everything or that you’re not good enough… whatever unique things keep you uniquely suffering.
I won’t prescribe a way of being for you. There’s no way I can tell you what spirituality looks like for you. I will just help you, from my own place of wholeness, to heal and to embody yours – your full humanity as well as your shining essence.
With an open heart, a soaring spirit, and feet planted firmly on the ground,
From The Gift - Poems by Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master, Translations by Daniel Ladinsky
Now Is The Time
Now is the time to know
That all you do is sacred.
Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.
Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child's training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.
My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?
Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.
This is the time
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
From I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky
Cast All Your Votes for Dancing
I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.
You can stay that way
And even bloom!
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.
You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,
my ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!
O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter
And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.
Now, sweet one,
Cast all your votes for Dancing!
Hafiz has a way of opening my eyes more brightly toward Love, of coaxing me gently toward God, toward myself. He tickles me into remembering Truth. I share Hafiz with you in the hopes that you too feel inspired. Enjoy!
Here is a brief bio and description of Hafiz and his work, as written by Daniel Ladinsky in my favorite compilation of Hafiz's poetry, I Heard God Dancing - Renderings of Hafiz:
"Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz (c. 1320-1389), though little known in the Western world, is the most beloved poet of Persia (Iran). To Persians, the poems of Hafiz are not "classical literature" from a remote past, but cherished wisdom from a dear and intimate friend. The special gift of this friend is a poetry unique in world literature, a poetry that celebrates every expression of love in the universe.
"The lyrics of Hafiz overflow with a profound appreciation of the beauty and richness of life when seen through the eyes of love. With unerring insight, he explores the feelings and motives associated with every level of love, tracing each nuance of emotion in depth and detail. His poetry outlines the stages of the mystic's "path of love" -- that journey of inner unfolding in which love dissolves personal boundaries and limitations to join larger processes of growth and transformation. Through these processes, human love becomes divine love and the lover merges ultimately with the source and goal of all love, which Hafiz calls the Divine Beloved."