Monday, May 25, 2015

Things Get Messy

     I know from the  stats that at least a few people besides me read this blog and I wish I could honestly say that I write this for you. But today especially, I don't. Like the pencil markings on a door jamb recording the progress of a child's growth this blog helps me to see that indeed I am growing. However unlike a child's neatly linear ascending growth, spiritual and emotional growth is not quite so linear. A few marks up the door jamb and all of the sudden a descending into doubt and falling on the floor,  then an inching up the door jamb and before you know it your completely off track in another room entirely. So, you slowly make it back to your path and begin to ascend the door jamb over and over and you fall over and over and such is the path of a spiritual seeker. And I tend to write this blog after a period of ascension to mark a joyous occasion of growth or illumination. But today I am back on the floor so to speak. And I want to use this descending to grow and so I write. So, fair warning, this is a pretty self indulgent post and you may want to stop reading now and go watch Netflix!

     It has been twenty two years since I began working with peoples bodies and a few years since I started working with their minds, but it seems like something has shifted in the last few months and all of the sudden a lot of my clients are working with me on a different deeper level. I suppose the neat label is the level of the spirit. I have recently had several students tell me quite seriously that they trust me as their teacher and apparently I take that responsibility seriously, maybe too much so. It is all well and good to be the teacher as long as we are working with mechanics, alignment, fleshy things. I even feel a certain small level of competence guiding them toward healthier neural pathways and cleaning up our minds a bit. But when people get vulnerable with me to the level of revealing their spirit, well I just feel like I am holding a rare and fragile butterfly in my sights and
a new level of care and awareness is required. Now, of course, I know this is all so much bigger than me and I cannot alter someone's spiritual path, dharma or karma. Their journey is between them and God. But I do want to be so very careful to not plant seeds that will grow into weeds that they later need to dig up. I have felt Gods grace so strongly on this journey I suppose two decades in, it finally hit me: teachers can do harm. (slow learner)

     Yesterday, circling back to the physical level, I brushed my hand along a students hip in triangle pose and they fell over and for a moment time stopped. She was alright, the class was alright and I am alright. But last night I dreamt that I tried to catch a student as she jumped off a high shelf and I didn't and she smashed into the ground and I sat with her as she bled. For hours. I tried to help and I couldn't. So, here I am not with a shiny victory blog after inching up the door jamb, but a story from the ground floor down where all the dirt is. Questions swirl around in my mind, can I keep my students safe or at the very least do no harm? On a physical level I think the answer is yes but we are going so much deeper than that these days.

     The beautiful thing is that as I write this I am reminded that my only "job" is to be present and compassionate and this begins with myself. This includes the times when someone I am assisting on their journey has an "a ha" moment and it includes the times when I upset a students balance and they tumble over. The thing is, the touch was so light, so very light that caused this lady to tumble and it made me realize how fragile we all are on so many levels. But that does not change my immediate conclusion that this was just a hard lesson in being present and compassionate with myself. I am not sure if I am going to hit "publish" or "delete" for this messy blog, but I do know that writing it has softened the distress I feel this morning. So, if you haven't left for Netflix thanks for "listening". And remember whatever shiny facades we share in blogs, in social media and in person, they are just that facades.  Beneath everyone's skin there are layers of dark and light, love and fear, saints and sinners all wrapped up into one glorious human equation. And it is our job to be with it all holding ourselves and others in the light of love. Peace to you today readers, thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

An Adventure I Had

"God defined is God confined"
Ram Kir

     I spend way too much time thinking about the Divine Mystery. I am not saying that thinking about God is a useless activity but I am saying that our "thinking thing" may not be the best place to find the "rest" of God. Our thought process are so entwined with our egos they are almost impossible to untangle and the ego is simply our organizing tool. It puts aspects of ourselves and our lives into boxes trying to keep us safe and to keep life "manageable. Our ego is the ultimate "label maker"! But this thing we call God is unboxable, undefinable. ineffable and defies all labels. We cannot "know" God, but I do believe we can "feel" God and rest in this Divine Mystery as if we were lounging luxuriously on a sea of warm unconditional love. This is not a thing you can think through, it is just a thing you do or don't. You are called to rest and you answer, and if your answer is spending a lot of time thinking you probably aren't resting and trusting!

     They say that humans don't chase God on their own but that we only respond to God calling us deeper. Like little magnets we don't move until something attracts us, like Divine Love, we find ourselves being drawn in, drawn deeper. Deep calls to deep. So, eventually God called me deeper into this mystery focusing on my heart center instead of my thinking thing. This is a lovely place to rest. Our hearts are the seat of courage and the place in which we find self regard. While our brains suggest a thousand ways which we can improve our hearts softly whisper with every beat "I love you darling" beat beat   beat beat "I love you darling" beat beat   beat beat "I love you darling"... It is tempting to linger here in this new found oasis of love. And as I linger and the love grows I find it spilling over on to others. There would be no shame in stopping here. A lovely place to linger. Stay for awhile and come back to visit as often as you can, but the journey is far from over.

     Deep calls to deep and I will follow. And so I find myself in the murky, depths of my belly. There are lots of foreign words for the wisdom of our bellies. Japanese call it "hara", Italians call it "pancia" they both mean that there is a deep gnostic knowing in our guts, a wisdom beyond what our thinking things can comprehend,  a wisdom even deeper than our hearts know. While resting in the heart is kinda like resting in a spa, the gut feels less indulgent, more demanding of radical truth. The gut is the teacher that says "I know you can do better". When we are not living our lives authentically, not living our truths we literally cannot digest as well. Our guts will call us out. But the thing is this may be tough love, but it is true love indeed. And so I rest my awareness on this deep and mysterious place and slowly it grows slightly less scary. And in the gut I find a fierce feminine energy that can overcome all obstacles and slay all demons.

     At first it is scary until you realize that in your gut is a love so fierce that it will move up and break your heart open. then the light seeping from an open heart rises to expand your mind and gives you the courage to go back down into your gut. Only on this second visit instead of finding a scary fierceness, you find the fierceness of grace. The aspect of the Divine Mystery that will not stop until your entire being is lit up with Gods love. We are meant to shine, but for that to happen we must first venture into the murky darkness within. "The kingdom of God is within" scripture says and I no longer see this as a metaphor but as "real" as this keyboard and the table on which I write. We will never find true rest externally in this busy world but deep inside each one of us there is an oasis of Gods love in which we find rest. So. be still darling you are perfect as you are. It is time to rest. When deep calls to deep answer without hesitation and you will be led to an oasis so rich and sweet you can respond no other way than by resting in it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Into the Darkness

"Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up"
James 4:10

     I have had a half written blog post sitting here for about a week. It was the result of the feeling of disconnect I get when I see that 77% of Americans call themselves Christians and my judgment that our country is not moving in the direction of  humble servanthood and agape love. I don't believe our words and actions are in sync as a nation. I tried a thousand ways to try to make that blog sound not judgmental, but I couldn't because it was. And, of course, I followed the classically ironic route of judging myself for being judgy. If truly I looked at the world thru eyes of love perhaps I would not get so agitated at the divisions in our country, is what I told myself. Where is the line between judgment and discernment is the question I tried to answer. But I wasn't quite successful because I was too busy being caught in judgment. Remember I wrote years ago in the beginning of this blog that I would have more questions than answers? Over the years the questions have grown and the  answers are few and far between!

     But what I do know is that in my meditation practice I often encounter challenging emotions that at one time I may have called "dark". A little anger arises and then a case of the "I Shoulds" rains down on me and, of course, judgment. But through some miraculous scenario this morning I was able to remain a compassionate and curious witness to these emotions. Comforting emotions are lovely, but it is these darknesses that arise that wear the face of Teacher. And staying with it I found underneath my anger a desire for love and underneath my case of "I should" a deep desire to have a meaningful life. And so it is that I look at the judgment I feel around our country and I discover a desire for community. That is all. I did not need an entire blog to rant about the United States going to hell in a handbasket. What I needed was to not push away the fear and not aggrandize the fear, but to sit with it compassionately. What I needed was to remember that in the black heart of a lump of coal is a diamond waiting to reflect the light. At the heart of my sadness and judgment lays a deep love of country and community. We can be a great nation.

     What is it that you are judging about yourself today? What characteristic do you loath in you? These shadows are rich and fertile ground for growth. When you feel an emotion that you would rather not, ask yourself: where is it in your body? What thought forms accompany your darker emotions? I know it is tempting to avoid them, to have a martini, to binge watch Netflix, I know it is tempting to suppress them, deny them, ignore them but what we resist truly does persist. And a great deal of life's lessons come cloaked in darkness. Can you just sit with your darkness as a curious witness? I feel like a cliché blogging about exploring our shadow sides. I know many far advanced of myself have journeyed through these "dark night of the soul" scenarios and emerged on the other side. Hell, Disney has even told this story in "Beauty and the Beast" But in this moment it just feels so true to me that at the root of all our negativities and insecurities lies a rich river of love. We just have to keep digging, keep looking with eyes of love at the depths of our soul and these living waters will bubble up.  So, yes I may discern properly that lots of fearful people are not acting in accord with their professed religion, this is not contained in Christianity but rather in humanity. So, instead of judging them (and myself) I just feel into the soft space in my heart that desires community and connection. I also feel into the space in me that is filled with the love of Christ. To me, being a Christian means following Jesus and he did truly model love for us. Love for ourselves, for our neighbors, for our country, for the world and for our God. So it was a loving act to delete my ranty blog post, but it is also a loving act to challenge you and me to line up our lives with truth.

     The trendy "what would Jesus do" bracelets a few years ago kinda annoyed me but really the question is so huge. I don't believe Jesus would do anything other than cultivate love when he was confronted by racism, homophobia, angry hopeless protests, partisianism, income inequality, the knee jerk self righteousness in which many of us hold our beliefs. So what does "cultivate love" even mean? Perhaps it is simply releasing fear,  the fear of our dark sides, fear of people who are different, fear of really questioning our beliefs. All fear is contraction, our worlds get smaller, our bodies get tighter when we operate out of fear. None of us like to think of ourselves as fundamentalists, but watch how you react when someone questions or challenges your beliefs. Where do these beliefs come from? Are they based in love? If we are humble enough to truly question our beliefs then we become fertile ground in which love can bloom, but if we clench our beliefs tightly with unseeing eyes and unhearing ears we only become hard and stony ground. Isn't it about time you bloomed? Let the sunlight of loving awareness into the dark corners of your soul and be brave and at your core you will find that your essential nature is love.  Let your shadows point you to the light and bloom dear ones. It is time.