let us play

For years, my mantra was “Let it go”.  A few months ago, my mantra changed to, “Let it be”. Here are some of my thoughts on  ‘letting it be’ and one way I’ve found to nurture unconditional receptivity to whatever life brings.

“It is by suffering’s presence that we know there is something we need to address.” ~ Jane Hirshfield

Life is impossible to navigate without addressing the way we relate to suffering. Learning to sail on the winds of suffering instead of being tossed and battered yields a happy side effect: it leads us to new life as thirst leads us to water. When suffering comes in it’s many guises – loss, illness, physical or emotional pain, discontentment – there is a choice to make. Run and hide (avoidance, denial, distractions, medicating) or  take a step toward the unwelcome visitor.

Creativity opens the door to this unwanted guest. Utilizing the creative spark is a method for beginning the conversation, an ice breaker to take the edge off suffering. Creativity softens the blow and paves the way for insight. Painting, drawing, writing poetry, making music, journaling…each has her own spark. The chef creates in the kitchen, the gardener in the dirt.

This isn’t a frivolous undertaking. It’s as necessary to our process as food is to the body. Responding to suffering with creativity helps to unpack it, to gain insight and clarity. It helps us learn to let it be, to accept what is. When we stop resisting the valleys and dark places, we can begin mining them for the beauty and transformation they hold.

Suffering is a necessary part of life. To interact with it in an intentional and compassionate way is to say yes to life without being broken by it. The creative process is a step towards accepting  what it means to be fully human. It furthers the conversation in ways that open our eyes and hearts. Change is the happy result, change of perspective and change of heart. We come away renewed in understanding and hope, able to experience more fully the depth and breadth of human existence.

The first noble truth of Buddhist philosophy is that life has suffering, (better translated as dissatisfaction). But without this sense of dissatisfaction, would we ever feel the need for change? Without discomfort, would we exert any effort at all to heal and to grow kinder and braver?

A Box Full of Darkness
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
~ Mary Oliver

Planting seeds of transformation ~ maya friedman
planting seeds of transformation by maya freidman

on not making things such a big deal – let it be

Happiness isn’t about feeling pleasurable emotions. Pleasure is temporary. Genuine happiness has more to do with wisdom, being attuned to reality, and freedom from mental toxins. Nothing wrong with pleasure, it just doesn’t have much to do with happiness.

Authentic happiness comes from the long-term cultivation of wisdom, altruism, and compassion, and from the eradication of mental toxins such as hatred, grasping, judging, and ignorance. To accomplish both the cultivation of the good and the eradication of the toxins – meditate.

Why meditate? When you admire an artist or athlete, you understand that they have trained to become skillful. To train the mind is equally necessary in developing human qualities that you admire such as emotional balance and inner strength as well as learning how not to be swept away with negative emotions such as jealousy, hatred, or craving. You need mind training to develop this mindset and meditation is the training.

We all have within us the potential to be kinder, more mindful, and to experience greater well-being, but we often use just a fraction of this potential. Meditation nurtures the potential within that may be dormant, latent, or unused entirely.

“Meditation teaches us to let go. It’s actually a very important aspect of friendliness, which is that you train again and again in not making things such a big deal. When you have pain in your body, when all sorts of things are going through your mind, you train again and again in acknowledging them open-heartedly and open-mindedly, but not making them such a big deal.

Make space for honoring things completely and at the same time not making them a big deal. It’s a paradoxical idea, but holding these two attitudes simultaneously is the source of enormous joy: we hold a sense of respect toward all things, along with the ability to let go.” ~ Pema Chodron


the quiet teachers

Whether through the patterns left in snow, or geese honking in the dark, or through the brilliant wet leaf that hits your face the moment you are questioning your worth, the quiet teachers are everywhere, pointing us to the unlived portion of our lives. When we think we are in charge, the lessons dissolve as accidents or coincidence. But when we’re humble enough to welcome the connections, the glass that breaks across the room is offering us direction, giving us a clue to the story we are in.

Mark Nepo
the obstacle is the path - zen proverb

notes from my journal December 2013 – (on groundlessness)

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

leap before you look

I keep coming back to this quote. Under every deep another deep opens. This is a truth I have experienced in my own life. And yet, there is such a tendency towards comfort and safety. When the dust settles from the latest shaking, the ego stamps its feet, feeling for solid ground.  Then the next shaking comes.

My aspiration is to come to a place of living comfortably with groundlessness. This feels to me like the truth of the journey — the ground is an illusion. Let go of the need for the ground to be there and endless possibility erupts in its place.

Instead, I seem to find a new truth…polish it…study it…make it the new ground. This seems to be the way of the world, always looking for safety and certainty.

So I continue to ponder, to sit, to cultivate self-reflection, to seek to understand myself. I continue to tug at the edge of the veil – what lies beyond? Can I know it, can I taste it, be taken by it as I release my fear and need for certainty? This isn’t just a metaphysical exercise, it’s a way of being in the world, a way of living with an open heart. This aspiration to befriend groundlessness is the container whose spaciousness makes it possible to welcome my life, regardless of the circumstances.

I am still enough


I am trying to withhold judgment towards myself.
Even when I don’t, I am still enough.
I am trying to choose healthier options in my life.
Even when I don’t, I am still enough.
I am trying to learn to accept myself as I am.
Even when I don’t, I am still enough.
I am trying to trust that I am still enough.
Even when I don’t, I am still enough.

(balance and blessings)