Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Awesome YOU!!

     The world tells us we must act a certain way, look a certain way or perhaps obtain just the right product to be acceptable. the self improvement industry runs rampant over hurting hearts confirming what some suspect: you are not good enough, you are not worthy. But....
What if you are already awesome and you just don't know it?  What if you are good enough? Don't you know you are God's masterpiece? "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my Mother's womb" Psalm 139:13." Why is it so easy to be astonished and grateful at God's canvas in nature and marvel over a majestic mountain or a spectacular sunset but then look at ourselves, a product of the same Divine Artist, and see a collage of flaws and inadequacies? Two truths I try to remember always: 1) I have areas that could be improved and 2) I am perfect right now this unimproved moment.
     I don't  remember this just for me, I do believe this to be a universal truth. You are flawed and perfect in the same breath. What if your "flaws" are what make you perfect? We are here to grow even as we lovingly embrace who we are now. Growth that is motivated by self loathing can quickly turn toxic while growth grounded in self love yields the most brilliant blossoms. According to Tara Brach, a great Buddhist teacher, the core wound of all humanity is the belief we are not good enough to be loved. But over and over God demonstrates love for us in scripture, in nature in tiny unseen everyday miracles. Our very core is spirit linked to God, our very core is holy and good. God is wooing humanity as we hang our heads at our imperfections He is whispering "You are perfect". So who are you gonna believe, the Divine Creator shining love on you or your ego mind telling you that you are not worthy of love? I don't teach and practice yoga to become someone better or to try to get  into crazy pretzel shapes (although that can be fun) but rather to  uncover and remember the core goodness of humanity, all of humanity not just the people I admire but everyone who has breath.
     Our ego minds collude with society to tell us we are alone and we are not good. But the quiet whisper of Holy Spirit in our hearts tells us we are a beloved part of a connected whole. When you love yourself you are loving your neighbor and when you love your neighbor you are loving God. We cannot say we love God and continue in resisting self love. It is not about improving who you are but rather revealing your basic good nature and awesomeness!
"The aim of life is self development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for"
Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Recipe to Grow a Human

When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor E. Frankl


       Like a plant or even a single celled creature you and I are at our most basic just a living organism and not above the basic rules of life. I know, I know: you really want to be much more advanced than that luscious fern hanging from your back porch and in some ways we may be, but in the most basic life activities you and the plant are peers! So every creature that ever lives has spent their entire lives in one of two states, growth or protection. When a plant is growing we assume they are just gaining mass and when it is in protection mode it is in a state of maintaining homeostasis.With a human these states are clearly more complex and yet the same states. When we are growing we may be gaining or losing mass, or our growth may be intellectual, emotional, creative, or consciousness expansion. Humans grow in alot of directions unless we are stuck in protection mode and then our resources go to defense which presents as tension, anxiety, fear, hardened muscles and constricted minds. When we are in growth mode our blood is mainly in our bellies, viscera, organs and brain providing nourishment for evolution, but the minute we go into protection mode our blood rushes to our limbs prepared to fight or flee.

     So, while it is natural to experience both growth and protection what is not natural is the constant fear messages our modern society sends us. These messages are so embedded in our lives we often don't realize we are getting stuck in protection mode. Yesterday enjoying a quiet moment meant to nurture growth all of the sudden a horrible screeching emitted from my cell phone. Immediately I felt my calm disappear as I went to find the source of the offending sound. It was an Amber alert.  Now don't get me wrong I think warning a population to be observant for children in danger is a great thing. But what is not great is the three more times it went off before I figured out how to turn the sound off on Amber alerts. Next to the Amber alert there was a button for Emergency alerts. So those of us with cell phones, hello everyone, are carrying around a device that at any second can begin screeching about an emergency. This may up our chances of immediate survival but the long term affect is that we get stuck in protection mode and do not grow to our potentials. The Amber alert on the phone is one example in a million.  Hello, 24 hours news!!   Our society basically breeds fear and fear in turn puts us into protection mode which brings growth to a dead stop. So whats a growth minded individual to do?

     We notice our moments. At every moment in life you and I are in one of three states. We are either in aversion (trying to push away our immediate experience) or we are in desire (trying to hold onto a moment) or we are cultivating the compassionate observer and just being present. Both aversion and desire are forms of fear that switch off our growth state. Aversion may be a more obvious form of fear (oh get it away before it hurts). But desire is also fear motivated as grasping pleasure is just the reverse of pushing away pain. So the only state in which we grow is when we are nonjudgementally and compassionately observing our lives. Observing does not mean being distant or unemotional. Observing means being aware that your mind is not the whole of your consciousness; observing means returning to breath awareness; observing means realizing your deepest truest self is not bound or defined by the moment you are experiencing but rather the moment is one pearl in the lustrous strand of your life. Observing probably means alot of things I am not aware of yet, but one thing I do know is that pure observing is free of aversion and desire. So notice the next time you feel emotionally charged. Are you pushing something away or trying to hold on to something? If so take a moment to return to breath, to return to the deepest truest you, to return to growth. Who knows the awesome places you'll grow!! The good news is cultivating your observing self works if you work it. Take a moment today to just sit and breathe and notice your thoughts and then do it again tomorrow, and again, and again and again and ... Stealing one from the US Army: Be all you can be! Let's start today, in this moment. Peace