Sunday, February 24, 2008

Live Here Now

I am not looking for an escape from this life. I am not looking for a way out. I am looking for a way in. I am looking for a way to feel more of life. To taste more of life. To ingest it and revel in the experience that only birth on earth can bring. Stress and angst and fevered insistence on perfection keep me ungrounded, rootless and tumbling with every breeze that blows. I am kept in the past and the future when I tumble with the breeze, when what I am looking for is to live here now.

My answers for the way in, my answers for living in the now are found in simple, accessible avenues. Nature is my first and favored way in. Nothing has taught me more about peace and strength and acceptance of the way things unfold than trees and birds and flowers and stars. Nature is every spiritual text, every true word of every spiritual text playing itself out in living color. Right before my eyes and ears. If I am lost, I willingly throw myself into nature's embrace and suddenly, I am found. Feathers and petals and bark have saved me from the jagged edges of my past and the fear-filled illusions of my future. Because there is no where to be in nature, but the grounded, sane-filled present moment.

Another of my ways into the goodness of life is the recently adopted practice of yoga. Nothing has put me more in touch with the beauty and natural peace of my body than this physical practice. My body, having its own separate intelligence from my narrow mind, craves the stretches and movement. It craves the attention and love. It craves uncritical connection to my mind and spirit. Yoga is the bridge for that harrowing gap. It stimulates peace and love and acceptance between all 3 aspects of my being.

More favored ways into life include the words and advice of Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Wiliamson and Deepak Chopra. Writing, expressing myself creatively and listening to soothing music. Prayer, meditation and giving. All are avenues to ground me and root me. All offer the way into life, my life, especially as an ensemble.

What I get out of this collective of accessible practices is this: I get more moments of clear thinking. I get higher levels of acceptance of the way things are. I get more courage to change. To grow. To risk. I get more awareness of what myself and others need. I get more love. More peace. More stability. I get a reprieve from the drain of the past and the future. I get to embrace the wonders and opportunities of my life. This life. I get to live here now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Sacred Within


In my search for the sacred, I have come gently to the understanding, that what I have been searching for lies within. There is no recognizing the sacred without until it is first recognized within. It takes a willing surrender and a mind exhausted of fighting itself to slip past the gates of reason and glide into the presence of grace.
It can happen as a torrent of tears winds itself down and there is nothing left but the rhythm of the breath. In that space of emptiness and freshness, a presence can be felt. It is calm and soft and speaks in whispers, if at all. It's vibration is familiar. It feels like home. It is the soul having risen to the surface. And it feels nothing less than sacred.
This presence, this grace, this feather-light fullness is safety and ecstasy all at once. It is perfection and love and unshattering peace. It sustains everything. It is everything. It is ever present.
To feel this peace, this love, this ultimate safety, if only for a moment, is to be changed forever. Because once it is felt, it can be recognized again. Once the sacred is understood to dwell within, it suddenly appears without. In all of God's creations. If it suddenly disappears without, it is because it has been forgotten within. How we feel about ourselves is how we feel about the world and everything in it. If we know we carry the sacred with us, the sacred appears everywhere we go and in everyone we meet.
We are each of us sacred. We are each of us filled with grace and the spark of God. Let's be open to the awareness of that soft presence within. The love and the safety we each struggle to find without is at home within our surrendered minds and ready hearts. It is at home within our sacred selves.
{This glorious photo of honoring the sacred is from the incomparable website:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Embrace Of Suffering



Everyone suffers. Some more loudly than others. Some more often than others. Some have made it a way of life and frankly, seem to thrive on it. Suffering seems to be an endless quality of humanity. A quality that makes us uncomfortable even when we are not the ones who suffer. Since happiness is not possible in every moment of a life, suffering, in its infinite manifestations, would serve us best if it was embraced.
It is the resistance to suffering that prolongs it. It is the resistance to the pain or the grief or the depression that allows it to endure. Suffering is meant to be a transition. A transition to a more refined state of self-understanding. We learn more about ourselves in a state of despair than we do when we are flying high. Or even coasting merrily along.
Suffering cracks open a doorway to our inner-most selves, the secret God-essence that few us take the time to acknowledge. Suffering is meant to cleanse and purify us. It is an alchemical process that refines our character and our soul. It leads us to an understanding of our greatest wants and needs and desires. But, because it is grossly uncomfortable, most of us seek to crush it down, drown it out, shop it, eat it and drink it into oblivion. We become addicted to the avoidance of suffering, and so it never ends.
Instead, if we could just summon the courage to sit with our pain, to acknowledge our pain, to feel it and allow it to burn, we would move beyond it at an astonishing rate. If we could just stop telling ourselves, "I shouldn't feel this way" or " I will appear weak before others if I allow myself to feel" or "oh my God, why did this happen to me?", if we could accept that we have the right to feel the pain and learn from it and use it to mold a stronger life, we would diminish our addictions and our forays into insanity. We would stop living a defensive life and start living a life that embraces. That partakes. That receives infinite bounty.
The courage to sit with, acknowledge, feel and burn the suffering comes from the breath. Next time we begin the cycle of suffering, if we could simply breathe loudly and rhythmically for 10 seconds, our suffering lessens. We consciously shift our whole selves out of the sting and at the same time allow ourselves to feel it more deeply. Breathe as loud as we can, and allow the breath to get us through it, because there is no getting around it. It is the attempt to get around it that impairs us.
Let's not avoid our suffering any longer. Let's be brave and feel our way through it. Let's use the simplest tool of the breath to aid us in our quest. Let's come out the other side more stable, more able and more compassionate towards ourselves. Let's give ourselves permission to feel and permission to heal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Streams Of Living Water

" Set out now, while you're strong, on the heart's vast plain:
You'll never discover joy on the plain of the body.
The heart is the only house of safety, my friends:
It has fountains, and rose gardens within rose gardens.
Turn to the heart and go forward, travelers of the night;
there's where you'll find trees and streams of living water."
My favorite mystic poet, RUMI

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Take One Small Step

Join me in taking one small step to realize a dream. Join me in extending one small effort in the direction of a more positive, fulfilling life. Stop looking at the enormity of what you have dreamed up for yourself and do one thing to invoke your vision. Do one thing to nab the attention of the Universe and let It know you are serious about manifesting this dream. Resist the temptation to sabotage yourself by focusing on three needful steps. Focus on one.
Prepare yourself.
Take the step.

One of my dreams, one of my visions for myself is to open a shop online. Something small and managable for myself in the midst of the life I have now. Something that reflects the qualities of this blog in a 3-dimensional form. Things to be welcomed into the home and heart that remind our souls of ever-present beauty and love. Things made by me.

Tonight, I cleared off my studio table and took one step towards realizing this dream. I prepared surfaces for paint. Yes, there are 239 other steps that must be taken to achieve the goal, but I set the intention. I put the energy out into the void. I demonstrated my willingness to help myself along, and now the Universe will respond.
The Universe will bring me snippets of inspiration, people who offer encouragement and the where-with-all to take the next step. Then the next after that. It is my responsibility to hold the vision of my dream, demonstrate willingness, and act. Even a small action makes a difference. It keeps the Universe engaged in helping me. It keeps the enegy alive.

So, let's not be daunted by how many steps it might really take to manifest a dream. Let's just take a step. Yes, it may take longer than we planned, than we seemingly have patience for. But in the end, life will begin again. And it will be sweeter and more fulfilling than if we had never dared to make our dream come true.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bloom

Rise up. Unfurl. Bloom. Set your sights on living life and spread your heart wide open. Walk straight through the disease, the debt, the divorce, the death of someone you love. Walk through it because there is no getting around it, there is only getting through, one brave and determined step at a time. There is so much life to be lived and our traumas make us face the parts of ourselves that have never seen the light of day, much less the light of life. Walk straight through the trials and wait for your blood to start simmering again. It will. And when you feel the percolation in your heart, the renewed interest in life, rise up.

Rise up and open yourself to opportunities and connections that were too outside your narrow box to consider before trauma trampled your life. Open yourself to people and places and the purple hues of dawn. Welcome change because you have just survived change. Unfurl your hidden wings, your shimmering petals and grace the world with your true self.

Hold back nothing. Love with abandon, knowing love will never abandon you. Give your passions permission to thrive. Live your best life. Bloom for all the world to see.
{16 dawn-lit blooms on my orchid...what an inspiration!}

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Francine Ward~ Self Love


"If love is an action, how do you express self-love? Self-love starts with having the courage to be who you are, regardless of what others might think. It is about having the courage to live your dreams, to do what makes you happy in life, so that one day you won't wake up saying, ‘I wish I had.’ Self-love is about self-care, making your health a priority. Self-love is revealed in your willingness to stay focused on the things you say are important. It's about having the courage to set boundaries and protect them".
~ Quote by: Francine Ward