the seed of transformation

When we take our relationship with Fear in her many forms — doubt, uncertainty, anxiety, resistance, perfectionism, procrastination, to name just a few — and flip it, we’re able to witness the true message wrapped inside this often unwanted, pushed down, bottled up emotion.

Know that if you’re feeling the presence of fear, you’re being CALLED to evolve.

That you are doing something that MEANS something to you.

That when you’re stalled on the edge of a Big Leap, it’s tapping into THIS truth — that this very experience is part of your soul’s purpose — that will bring you back home again.

Faith trumps Fear, every time

~ Rachel MacDonald

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation.
~ Alan Cohen

george christakis2

 

Listening to your pain

One of the things living with a chronic pain disease has taught me is how vital it is to have a good relationship with your body. I’m not talking about self- love or thinking positively about your body, that’s another post entirely. I’m talking about being in-tune with your physical being, listening when it speaks, noticing its clues, and responding with gentle attentiveness. My years of yoga practice helped immensely, although it came as somewhat of a surprise to me how little I was actually listening to begin with. Yoga is all about the union of your mind (thoughts, emotions), body, and that inner well of silence where the Observer of All resides. Yet, decades of (admittedly sporadic) practice taught me very little compared to the pain delivered by Crohn’s.

Daily pain episodes sent me to my bed, where for several years I would rock and suffer in privacy. Finally, I began to listen to the pain, to “lean into” it rather than resist it. Thank you, Buddhism. Now when the pain gets unmanageable, I go to my room, turn off the light and put on some ambient music. Lying on my bed, pillow under my knees or with my legs up the wall, I breathe. Slow in, slow out. I do my best to focus for a few moments on the gentle in and out that means I am alive. Then I turn to the pain. What is happening in my body right now? Where is the pain? Usually it is across my belly, above the belly button. Sometimes through to my back. When it is really tough is when it seems to be everywhere at once.

Next, I do a body scan to find and relax tension. I start with my feet, wiggling my toes. I let my feel fall outward, relaxing them, feeling them melt into the bed. Then my calves, then my thighs. I let my legs feel heavy, feel the support of the bed, relax. On to my hips, my pelvis, my lower belly. Relaxing tension that I find on the way up my torso, up my spine. I take a moment to be tender and friendly to the area affected by the pain and move on. Neck, shoulders, arms, hands. Last is my scalp and face, relaxing the forehead, the eyes, the jaw.

This can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the pain level and my state of mind (how clear my mind and heart are to begin with). Then I just lie there and breathe slowly, in and out. Almost without exception, the pain will be reduced significantly. My resistance to the pain is lessened and I am able to feel somewhat relaxed through the experience.

For this and so many other reasons, I am honestly thankful that my journey has included this measure of pain. It has helped me immensely in my spiritual practices of meditation, yoga, mindfulness, reflection, contemplation, and self-awareness, bringing me farther along the road than I would have been. It has been an invaluable to become more accepting and even friendly with the Crohn’s. Something I resented and resisted for decades is now my dear teacher.

As a bonus, I am now more adept at identifying emotional roadblocks by this practice of body awareness. When I am feeling anxious, emotional, or stuck in some way, I do this practice and explore where I am tight. Do I feel a lump in my throat, a fist in my gut, tension in my shoulders? Am I squinting, frowning, grimacing? Locating the tension will help with identifying where I am stuck in the mire of wrong thinking or emotional imbalance or habitual reactivity. Lying there, breathing in and out, sitting with the emotion with a welcoming heart, I will eventually see what is behind the painful emotion. I don’t necessarily think the chart below is especially insightful, but it can help to imagine how emotions and the body are interconnected. The body can be a wonderful help in this way, pointing to areas where I am stuck in emotional reactivity or other knotted up issues that need attention.

energy_and_emotion

 

why all this music

2013-08-27-12-43-39-1-1

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down. Otherwise,
clouds. Sea rippled here and
there. Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music: a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has –
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses – as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.
– Holly Hughes

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but . . .

If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?
– Gregory Orr

Birgit Franik

 

Wild God

(found this the other day. don’t remember where it came from. it could have been written by me, it so closely matches my thoughts)

God of the Wild,
you are different from what I expected.
I cannot predict you.
You are too free to be captured
for the sake of my understanding.
I can’t find you in the sentimentalism of religion.
You are everywhere I least expect to find you.
You are not the force that saves me from
the pain of living;
you are the force that brings me life
even in the midst of pain.

Wild One,
You surprise me, again and again,
demolishing the pretense that for even a moment
I could have You figured out.Delightfully unpredictable,
You are too free to be caged
by my paltry understanding.

All the years searching for You,
and now, everywhere I look, You are there.
In the unexpected places,
in the face of the wretched,
in the depths of my own despair,
in the beauty and depravity,
in the stillness between breaths,
there!

You are the space between
everything that is
and everything that is not.
You are all that makes up the Universe.
You are the Universe.
but beyond the Universe.
You are the black matter, you are the black holes.
You are what makes all things connected.
You are the darkness before light rises,
you are my face before I had a face.

You are not the force that saves me
from hardship, strife, and pain.
You are the drops of life
transforming both joy and pain.

What if God was more
than my puny brain and understanding can fathom?
What if God was a Wild Thing that cannot be described, caged, or understood?
What if this Wild One is different from I expected?
Could it be that the One that I searched for all these years
is everything?
And beyond everything?

The Universe. And beyond the universe.
The matter, the black matter, the black holes.
The 99.99999999999996% of empty space in an atom, what if?
What if this wild Unknown is God?

What if this Wild One cannot be explained,
predicted,
understood,
caged,
taught,
or called dibs on?

What if all religions are wrong?
What if we all have a tiny piece of the pie?

West Wind #2

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and the heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming — then row, row for your life toward it.  ~ Mary Oliver

waterfall

This prose piece describes the voice of that wiser part of yourself speaking to the more surface self, the more emotion-driven, reactive self. Haven’t we all experienced this wiser self? Perhaps in listening deeply to a friend, you open your mouth and speak wisdom that you didn’t know you knew until that moment. Perhaps it was an intuition, a whisper of warning, a nudge of encouragement from within. Some spiritual traditions speak of this as Self with a capitol “S”. Some speak of a divine spark inhabiting each of us. There is the Inner Light of the Friends. It is referred to as the cave of the heart, the holy of holies deep within where soul communes with the Divine. It can be called Big Mind or the secret place of the heart. So many different and diverse spiritual traditions have this idea in common, as do schools of psychology and philosophy.

Reading the poem is instructive – the Self appealing to the self. It is direct and strong. Listen to me – three times this wiser Self admonishes. I want to reveal something of importance and this disclosure holds a key to living a life of passion and connection. Listen to me – I will uncover a secret. I will open your heart to love. I will waste no pretty words for a life lived without love. It is less than worthless. Not just a penny but a bent penny. Not just a lone shoe but a scuffed one. Not just a dead dog but a rotting one.

That there is a way to live a life of love is presented. Stop rowing. Stop moving along your path blindly, moved by emotion, by habit, by reactivity. Not a Martha is needed here, but a Mary. Sit. Quiet yourself. Wait.

But in that waiting, be alert. Watch. Listen. Sniff the air. Recognize that life is either one of alienation or love. Listen for that call to love. When once you feel its pull, put your oars in the water. Now is the time to act. Even though you cannot yet see the course ahead, even when it seems rife with uncertainty and danger – row toward it. Row with all your heart, with all your strength.

Trust and courage are needed here. Trust in the wisdom of your deepest heart and its connection with a process. Courage to move toward what appears dangerous, to become as a mad man in your passion, to let go of safety, to leave what you know and turn to the unknown. Life shouts at you with its many urgencies and distractions, but your deeper heart hears the call for more and supplies the courage to forge ahead, if only you answer its whispered invitation.

This invitation is not sugar-coated. There are sharp rocks, swirling waters, and the pounding, the pounding. There is the long fall, the plunging waterfall ahead. Roger Housden said, “Be warned: once your heart has blown open and love has found its way into your bloodstream, the time may come when it requires of you a great work that will not cease until you have become ashes.”

Rumi: “Love has taken away all my practices
and filled me with poetry.
A mountain keeps an echo
deep inside itself.
That’s how I hold Your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.”

 

the flow

Surrender
is the simple but profound wisdom
of yielding to
rather than opposing
the flow of life.

Eckhart Tolle

 

jerry uelsmann
jerry uelsmann