Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not Good Enough

      A classic quality found in both yogis and Christians is the striving to grow. We have this yearning to get closer to God, closer to a wall free hand stand, closer to that well of inner peace we just know is there somewhere inside us. To break out of the "upper echelons on mediocrity" (thanks Indigo Girls) and to soar is the desire of many of our hearts. We want to shine, to serve to stand on top of that proverbial mountain and shout "We made it". Well, what is it that we have made? Where are we going? What's wrong with where we are at? And does this blogger only have questions and no answers?

      When a student said to me the other day "I hate my arms" it was a no brainer for me to remind her that loving her body as it is now is often the path to greater health. But what about the subtler self abuses we heap upon ourselves? We think nothing of embarking on another cleanse, another self improvement project of making vision boards and plans for a great future. And let me be perfectly clear, I think these are all admirable and worthy activities. But what ground are these self improvement projects blooming in? Are we striving to grow because we are not good enough or simply because we want to be better?There is a difference. And taking on endless self improvement projects because "we are not good enough" is not only self abuse but it often ironically enough impedes our growth.

     Look outside your window and look at a plant for a moment. The nature of that plant is to grow in the direction of the sunlight and it does. Imagining for a moment that plant had thought capability. Can you imagine a pretty daisy thinking it needs to grow because it is not okay as it is? Of course not, the daisy just rests and grows. For years I have been pondering Romans 12:1
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

     I get the part about offering your body as a living sacrifice. Simply put if we feel God is telling us to do something and we have inner peace and that something does not disagree with scripture then we should use our body to obey God. Maybe we need to walk over to someone, or use our mouth to encourage or our arms to comfort. Our bodies are meant for God to use. The last part about renewing our minds I also "get". The cliff notes version: toxic thoughts = toxic life. But the middle "do not conform to the pattern of this world" is what I had to mull over for years before making any headway. For years I read it as plural "patterns" and that was easy....don't do what most of the world does. Don't be a bully, don't be a pervert, don't be a glutton...But then one day I noticed that pattern was singular. Wow, if there is only one pattern of this world and God does not want us to conform to it I sure want to know what it is. So after months of meditating on this what came to me is that the pattern of this world is dissatisfaction. We are hard pressed to find ourselves satisfied with things as they are, with ourselves as we are. Always needing to gain or lose 5 pounds, to read that book, to paint that wall. These are great activities but miserable and counterproductive as driving forces for our lives. So today I want to tell you "You ARE good enough". You and I are not perfect and every human being could use some polishing I am sure. But the beginning of growing towards the sunlight comes in resting in who we are today. Being okay with who we are is not an invitation to stagnate but rather it is the gateway to the mountain top
So shine on child of God, because the truth is today you are shiny. Today you are awesome and the more you rest in that the more you rest in Truth. If you want to improve then I applaud you but please let the desire for self improvement gently flow from self love and self satisfaction. The desire to contantly self improve beacuse we are not good enough is simply not the way to grow into the beautiful flower you already are.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pretty Little Liars All

    You're a liar and so am I. You may not know it and most days I don't. As a matter of fact I pride myself on being "authentic" and honest which really is a cosmic joke on me. Because the truth is that we can't handle the truth, please deduct blog points here for borderline plagiarism! So we make up stories about our lives, we give ourselves labels and then we cling to our made up identities as if they were the last life rafts in a sea of delusion. We write stories about ourselves all day long and we will often fight to the death to defend these stories. Religious wars, anyone?
One of my favorite prayers is by Rabbi Abraham Heshel. He prays "Lord, please do not let me deceive others but more than that do not let me deceive myself".
Stories are great for campfires but when we keep a white knuckle grip on our own stories what gets strangled is often the truth. So, what is the truth?

    No, really what is the truth? I hope you didn't think I came prepared with that answer. All I know is that all that exists for sure are molecules and the space in between them. I have placed my belief also in the Judeo Christian faith which states that "We shall know the truth and the truth will set you free". So, I guess I have to start there. But I recognize that this is my chosen belief and there is a difference between truth and beliefs. Jesus tells us to come to God like little children. Being childless by choice I don't have too much to go on here but it seems to me as if children are full of wonder and questions.  Wonder and questions seem like a hallmark of humbleness. And clinging stubbornly to our made up truths seem like a sure sign of pride. So humility is the path to truth?

    If I follow this crazy train down the track the only logical conclusion I can come to is that being sure we are right makes us wrong. How deliciously ironic is life?!  Another example: I tell my awesome husband "I love you" and then I am impatient and rude to him. Scripture clearly says love is patient and kind. So once again I have lied to myself. Do I truly love my husband just because I have "warm feelings" and I told him so? Or is the hallmark of love actions? The truth is not so clear. When I was younger everything was black and white. You were either my God fearing friend or a sad atheist, a liberal or conservative, an intellectual or a dunce. But now the world is painted in shades of gray and the way to the Truth is to let go of all of our little truths.

 So, today as long as it is today,  I will endeavor to remember that my stories are just that: stories. I will work to come into conversations and relationships without assumptions. The less I know the closer I feel to the truth.
The truth I believe is that, yes, there is a God and , yes we are all connected to each other and to God. This is my belief  but every single time I label you and label me I feel this truth slipping away.
Today I will come to life with open hands and an open mind as I recognize that just because I believe it doesn't make it true. Mabye...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Drinking Problems

    The first sentence is always the hardest to write just as the first steps towards God the most tentative and shaky.Years ago, as a curious spiritual seeker pondering the possible existence of a Supreme Being one thought consistently stuck with me. Not that I understood it at the time, or now for that matter, but the thought that God is a river brought me great comfort. I had no problem visualizing myself as a lazy leaf going with the flow. I did not anticipate rapids, water falls or dry spells, I was young enough and naive enough to just want to float.

    Fast forward a few years as my spirituality continues to evolve but my health habits could use refining. I had a Dr. Pepper habit that was not serving me. But, how amazing is God that He can use everything for our growth even an abundance of sugary drinks?! I had settled in to the second silent hour in my massage room and as my clients muscles began to melt my mind turned once again to God. Pondering how to really serve humanity and turning this thought over and over in my mind I was interrupted by a "still small internal Voice" I now recognize as the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit: "be the straw"
Me: "HUH?"
Holy Spirit "I am the Dr. Pepper, your client is thirsty: Be the straw"
Me: "HUH?"

    I know, confusing, right? Ok, then let's fast forward again about 20 years to, um yesterday.
Opening Quiet, my yoga studio,  in order to serve others in their spiritual growth is such a privilege and honor. I had focused so much on the build out and the students and clients that slowly over the last three weeks my meditation, asana practice and prayer life dwindled from a steady stream to a trickle. Elementary stuff, if you wanna lead people in yoga do yoga. if you wanna lead them in prayer then pray! Elementary but not that easy to remember in the thick of it. So, when once again when that still small voice interrupted my thoughts yesterday I was grateful, startled and humbled.
Holy Spirit "Your straw is clogged"
Me: Sigh

    God then gently led me through the lesson that in order to flow I not only have to give, that one I got years ago. But also I need to keep my "straw" clear of debris. Spiritual debris comes in the form of anxiety and fear. But it also comes in the form of never ending busyness. It comes in many forms.  In order to flow we must be open at both ends of the straw and in the middle.Gratefully receiving all of Gods Spirit and fearlessly giving it all back keeps the ends open, but we also must be clear in the middle. When we allow a state of sin (separation from God) to fester eventually our straw gets clogged. So while feeling anxious or fearful or being busy is not a sin in itself leaving these states unaddressed leads to clogged straws which truly is a sin. I use the term sin in a nonjudgmental manner, it is not necessarily about our actions but about our attitudes and at times ALL of us have attitudes that separate us from God's Presence. Whatever we allow to separate us from Gods loving presence is our sin, is our clog in our straw.

     One more fast forward, to this present moment. I no longer see myself as floating in God (although we all probably are) but I see God as a river of cool clear water flowing through us. So in order to serve God, others and our own growth it is crucial to nip sin in the bud as it develops in our thoughts otherwise it can clog up our straw. Lately I have noticed that the thoughts about sin are often more painful and cause more separation from God than any actual action. So, here it be a free flowing straw we must keep our minds calm like a still lake that is capable of reflecting God. We will experience rapids in our lives (such as opening a business) but none the less our minds must remain focused on God and not on the swirling waters rapidly rising all around us. So we can float or swim or take a deep dive under but no matter our situation remain aware of your thoughts and keep your straw free flowing. You never know when someone will need refreshing. And it truly is in offering up that drink to others that our own thirst is quenched.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

   As a yogi and spiritual seeker I spend a lot of time contemplating the internal life. Searching out God and cultivating internal quiet is a fulfilling and gratifying practice for me. It is also dangerously on the edge of selfish living which is exactly what God warns us not to be. We serve God only by serving others but then we get greater intimacy with God by going inside where we serve no one but ourselves. A conundrum that is only solved by carefully monitoring our relationships.

   Spiritually is measured relationally and if our closest relationships are volatile and selfish then perhaps it is time for a more rigorous honest self assessment. Anyone can appear godly when we're alone but it is our reactions when loved ones stretch us that are telling. Our families are mirrors that reflect us back to is so easy to think of serving that little old lady crossing the street or passing a few dollars to the homeless but what about when your Mom is driving you batty? That is the moment to realize maybe you are driving her batty as well and take a deeper look inside. Our internal journey ideally is a platform from which to refine and improve our external relationships. I don't think my Mom has read my blog yet but when she does....this is just an example Mom. I love you!! You're awesome.  So, with everyone around me today I will endeavor to remember love is a verb.

    So,yogi....when you roll out your mat and someone steps on it how are you gonna react? When that person who always annoys you in class sits next to with a heavy sigh are you going to remember that they are not a idiot but rather a mirror of ourselves? Endeavor to go inside only to make your outside more Godly and your journey will not only enrich you but the world as well namaste