Come Lately

Lately I’ve not practiced meditation, lately I’ve not written a anything significant. In fact, it’s more than lately but how do we measure ‘lately’ anyway?  By my standards, my journey being what it is, lately is almost two months. There was a time when I might have felt a pang of guilt, coaxed on by the ego to make me feel bad, to make me feel inadequate, to make me feel as if I have no idea what I’m doing, to make me feel unworthy of being me.

I don’t these days.  I’m strong to my core, for it’s a place I’ve visited and come to know intimately. I know I’m there and that my light shines like a beacon for me to find when I’m ready to return.  So, I don’t feel any guilt.  If anything, I feel right and ‘where I’m meant to be.’

I read: http://findyourmiddleground.com/2014/06/09/accept-the-seasons-of-your-heart/  (I had trouble naming the link so had to post the whole URL) one of my favorite, spiritual, healthy, and loving bloggers, Val Boyko.  “Accept the seasons of your heart.” reinforced what I already knew; I’m in a great place with a few niggles from history which, by god, I think will be nipping over my shoulder forever.  However, I’m ok without meditation.  I’m ok with not writing.  I’m ok.  My energies are focused elsewhere.  Not that I can’t do more than one thing at once, it’s just the way it is right now.

Occasionally I’ll stop and check in, usually when I’m at a traffic light, or washing dishes, or cooking, or folding laundry, and feel the smile that flows from the very insides of me right up to my face.

Right there, I know I’m doing what’s right for me.

 

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Harnessing the wrong horse

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Doubt. I named it. Immediately after an impromptu inner pep talk. During the talk, a fact so certain and real lit up my heart.  It brought forth a brief, and not often felt certainty and acknowlegement. Couldn’t help but smile. Was allowed to view truth.

Doubt is crafty; often barely heard or seen or felt. The inner dialog hums like the continued strum of a guitar chord and doubt weaves its way in and around the sound.

Doubt is devious. It grabs like a wretched Granny with a bony claw at memories it knows will capture your attention, and throws a harness over the neck of that ill-flogged horse. This only serves to stall progress.

Doubt seeps into life in some form or another. Sometimes it’s palpable, “I don’t know if I’ll have the strength to carry anymore moving boxes.” Sometimes it’s trivial, “Hmmm…I don’t think the chicken’s gonna turn out the way I wanted.” And sometimes it’s a whisper, “Why can’t I…?” “I’ll never be able to…” “What’s wrong with me…?”

The self-doubt prose is so finely honed that we only become aware of it when we question the wheedling whine. We have to confront it, and shove it aside to reveal the treasures it doesn’t want to be discovered. It has no choice but to step aside when faced with truth.

The trick then, is to remember that fleeting feeling of gloriousness from a potential met. That solid gold in the heart like light pouring from an open book.

Remember it. Feel it. Doubt will reel from it. And that worn historical horse can go live out its days in pasture.

Fighting the good fight

battle_scars_by_avengedjusty-d4o4qtv External forces create internal rife and the war rages inside between what is right and what is wanted.  It seems to go on for far too long, like most wars, with individual battles won or lost. I thought that in this particular war, the right was winning.  Hard fought, but winning nonetheless.  However, like the twist in a tale or the flick of the hand of fate, the opposition jerked around and pulled me into the foray as I was leaving the field.

And I am tired of this fight.  Truly, I want to just throw a damp towel on it to douse the flames, turn off the light, close the kitchen door and pack off to somewhere infinitely more steady and calm.  What is there left to learn?  I believed I was living with the questions just fine.  Why does it insist on reigniting?

Perhaps it’s simply another downturn along the journey.  A dusty, hillside trail strewn with initialed stones, stones with phrases, words, places, names that I kick angrily over the edge and which magically reappear further down the path.  I have felt foolish and childish, angry and scornful.  These feelings are not me, I know that; they are insidious scabs that I keep picking at instead of allowing them heal to the scars they need become.

So, a little downtime was necessary, a snapshot of time to lick the old wounds.  But the war, I find, still goes around and around.

Meditation is necessary and I absolutely have to find the time to practice.  Searching for more truths. Investigation and discovery.  Honesty with the self.

But, I am so tired.

Surrender, I have just thought.  What would happen if I simply surrendered?  Fine…..Wanting wins the battle but when the hungry beast finds that there is nothing left, that what it wanted is no longer available, what happens then?  When the truth is completely and utterly accepted, will it fade away?  And quite how I surrender is a mystery to me.  I have written of acceptance in the past, of reliving and releasing and I had thought to be successful in doing so.  This feels like the final desperate grip of a creature who has absolutely nothing else when in fact, the opposite is so very true.

We have everything and in everything, all we need.

Stop the madness.  Stop the fighting.  Allow me to pry your taut, withered fingers from the past.

Everything will be fine and then some.

Riding With The Dog

During the recent spell of distraction, I failed to notice the dog named Ego covertly slip a collar around my neck and take me off for a little trip down memory lane, up angry road, through the woods of confusion and on across the meadow sea of resentment.

Old patterns restitched themselves into familiar places and I bounced around in their quilty arms, thinking thoughts which fed the feelings which led to tears.  And on and on.  And all the while, Ego panted happily beside my floppy, unseeing Self.

I began yoga a week or so ago.  I never thought I could be that kind of person; I’ve tried classes and apps and DVD’s over the years but it felt too strenuous; not enough movement for my restless spirit.  I used to find solace on the crossramp with my legs going a million miles an hour to thumping club music.  These days I have found a peace in running too which admittedly is more like Phoebe-running.  Although I do not enjoy getting out of bed at the obscene hour that I do (thanks to husband for that), I do love the misty morning feel, the dark, the cool, the solitude.  No music.  Just me, just my feet, just breathing.  On the days I don’t run, I do yoga.

During my session this morning, I came into an awareness that I had been dragged along of late.  I had been preoccupied with the film I was helping with and instead of living with my heart open and being conscious of thought and of love and space, I had retreated to my old ways.  Certain situations that I know will take years to sit comfortably with, rose up and roared.   I did not fight them, I didn’t observe and let them be.  I ignored them.  And in that rejection, they bred.

Ego yelped when I opened my eyes this morning and stopped; he was still galloping with destinations dark and thorny for me but I took off the collar, wagged my finger at him and turned away.

Ego, exasperated, would say, “how many times do I have to do this?  This back and forth with awareness?” and the answer, with an equal amount of displeasure, would be “who the hell knows?” but that would get me nowhere.

I understand fully that this is what the journey is about.

It’s about the opening and closing of the heart, the learning and learning, the turning away and being sucked into old mental pathways followed by the returning to the self.  The loving openness of each return which holds no judgement or harsh feelings.  And, of being able to sit with whatever is going on, be it joyful or painful.

Tara Brach has said that there is beauty in a heart that is ready for everything.

I Am and the kids

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When I was four, I was sexually abused. I don’t mind putting it out there, not that I bandy it around like a national flag, in fact, it hardly ever comes up at all. Dealt with all of that ten years ago; 18 months of therapy put paid to over 30 years of vacant soul-searching. I went in scrabbled, confused and with all these strings from the past hanging from me like one of those Australian cork hats. I came out the other side filled up, released and happy with just being me. I know I was the one to do the work but I will always be grateful for the help and guidance of a therapist who I still believe to this day, was meant for me.

So. Yes. That happened. And plenty of other things have occurred since those therapeutic, hard-won days. Some wonderful things like meeting and marrying my husband – an event I believed happened to other people, even the loud, angry lady at the gas station, but never to me. I’ve given birth to two wonderful children. And cats. Well, I haven’t given birth to cats…that’s just weird. We’ve had three cats. Somewhere along the trail of the last ten years, the ‘me’ faded away. Life turned ugly. Businesses fought for and lost. Houses left behind to grow moldy. Money scraped from here and there to survive. No trips. No holidays. No bikes. No gifts. No celebrations. No new clothes. No haircuts. We did what we could do for the kids in terms of Christmas and birthdays but it’s been a tough six years.

On the upside, we have been incredibly fortunate to have had understanding landlords, business associates with big hearts and good friends with listening ears. We also had each other, our little family, but the stresses and strains on our marriage were very apparent during my darkest time, probably toward the end of 2011 when our beloved restaurant was beginning its slow flail to an inevitable crash-landing. I stood on the verge of someplace really dangerous; a place I had never considered before and never want to return to and it took the love and light of a special person to guide me away. And it was then that I began the second phase of my journey. Again, I did the work but I’m truly grateful for that person’s guidance and know that they were meant for me.

Now it’s 2013 and life feels like it’s turning around in so many ways, like we’ve been lost at sea for a long time and now we can see land.

I am here.

I am this.

I Am.

And that’s all I need to know. There doesn’t need to be so much work done because I get it. Sure, some days are harder than others. Like the other day. It took me a while to understand what was really happening and how to stop it. There’s something about the term ‘ego’ that bothers me but it’s also quite fitting; it’s obnoxious, overbearing and shoulders its way through my life. It’s sneaky. It put me in a donkey position with the dangling carrot; I slapped my lips and trudged behind it, looking forward to its deliciousness. Ultimately, the carrot, out of my control, was whipped away and I was left with nothing but fear, disappointment and hurt. The ego is so well-versed. It has had years to hone its skill. My fledgling self, although has been around since before I was born, is still a relatively new concept to me, so the ego might have the upper hand sometimes. I’m learning its ways and learning through the ups and downs that I Am is where it’s at. Where I’m at. In me, the stillness. The calm while the hurricane can rage around. I also know that although there’s no work involved, sometimes it’s gonna feel like it.

I ask myself, how do I teach this to my kids? How do I teach them to understand the self and the ego? My daughter understood the concept of spirit almost immediately but my son, well, he’s eight and more interested in Mario Cart, Legos and drawing comics but I hope some of what I’ve explained so far, sticks. Spirit is one thing; how to explain that the mind and its thoughts can sometimes be your enemy? Enemy sounds harsh too but really, when you boil it down, it can be your own worst. I remember a couple of months ago on the way to school, suddenly feeling the urge to tell them to have good thoughts and how not to believe every one that pops into their heads. In the rearview mirror, they eyed each other like Mommy was going loopy. I broke it down to Lego actually…said how do you think Lego’s came about? Shrug. Well, someone had a thought. Someone thought “Hey, I wonder if I made something like this, would it be fun to play with?” and from that thought, the thing was made and today, we have Legos. The same with everything you see – it all started with a thought. Well, that made their eyes boggle and out came a torrent of “What about that lamppost?” and “Ooh, what about that dog?” and “Ooh, what about the fart I just did?” cue giggle fits. But they understood. It was a basic explanation, appropriate for their age, without becoming convoluted and boring.

I expanded by saying that not all thoughts are good thoughts. Sometimes we have thoughts about people without knowing all about them. Or sometimes we have thoughts about ourselves that make us feel badly about ourselves. Those are the kinds of thoughts that we shouldn’t really believe. They became a little confused by that but I could see that the notion had tucked itself in their minds like a little seed.

And that made me happy; I hope I am giving them something positive to build on.

Lisa…

Perception and Judgment

Last Thursday I went for a run, well, it was more of a jog really. It was a lovely, albeit bit of a breezy afternoon but I enjoyed the still of the tree-lined streets, the soft sound of Heart Meditations radio flowing into my brain. The feel of breath coursing in and out of my body. Really feeling my feet connect with the ground. It wasn’t easy going though because it’s been about six months since I exercised with any regularity so there were quite a few times I stopped to walk before picking up speed again.

I used to criticize myself for doing that and would always feel that people in their houses or people driving by were privately deriding me for walking, so I’d wait until no-one was around before doing so. Now I try to allow myself the grace to admit that I’m older and I have been remiss in taking care of myself physically so I need to give myself time and space to return to where I want to be. It’s a tough pill to swallow; the feeling of inadequacy, failure or dread – they can be real moodbusters. So, I’m making my way around the houses and am aware of these thoughts but am not squishing them down because I know they’ll just pop right back up again like a bunch of Whack-A-Moles. Instead, I do my best to allow them to come and go and I counter them with positive thoughts in a gentle manner. If I need to stop to walk, I break the notion of stranger derision by just stopping and walking. No matter where I am or who’s driving by. I could feel my ego recoil in horror every time. *smile*

And then, as I was headed out of the lovely tree-lined estate, almost done with my jog, I saw ahead of me a young couple also running. I noticed her hair first of all, which was perfectly parted and highlighted and pulled back into a pony tail. She wore a short-sleeved light blue shirt over black pants. And big sunglasses. In a split second of judgment, I saw myself as a middle-aged mother of two wearing her husband’s long-sleeved shirt because she had nothing else warm to wear, a thin hoodie wrapped around her waist, strategically placed to cover her ass, and shiny black pants. Also scraggly hair that had not been professionally cut in a year and no sunglasses. I thought she had me pegged.

Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. I couldn’t tell since her sunglasses were so big and we really didn’t greet each other as we passed.

However, it really was my perception of myself that bounced off her and back to me. And I knew it as they passed by. I judged her and me and was aware of it in the space of about two seconds.

Isn’t it amazing how snappy the mind can be?

I felt vaguely unsettled for the remainder of my time outdoors and it was one of the things I brought up to my husband when I got home. Even then, I felt sure that this woman had judged me. My ego kept throwing up her image for me to compare myself against.

It’s only today, four days later that I’m admitting what I did and thought and felt. And being ok with it all. Because isn’t that what our journey is about? Experiencing these thoughts, becoming aware of them and accepting them. Learning that the ego has its place in all of us, that our shadows are all part of us and how we can become aware of their role in our soul on a daily basis, isn’t that all part of finding our truth?

I love my soul. And the “bigness” of it. How there is so much more for me to dive into and explore and observe and accept.

Lisa…