Friday, October 25, 2013

Was Blind But Now I See

Has it really been six months since my last post?  I believe I have waited so long to write because I have so much I want to say and I am overwhelmed and not really sure where to start.  I am not sure if blogging is the best match for my skill set, as I am pretty sure successful bloggers pick one topic per post and write about it in a concise fashion, maybe inserting a relevant quote or a pretty picture but I am not concise and I am terrible with even the basics of technology so I struggle.  I believe I would make a better writer (like of a book) since I am a really fast at typing and would be able to give excruciatingly painful details (which is how my husband describes the way I tell stories, but my women friends find fascinating and witty.)

Anyhow, as I look back at the evolution of my blog, it is clear that I started writing during a vulnerable, yet exciting time of life when I embarked on what I would call a quest for truth.  A series of challenges in my life  clearly showed me that I was not in control and forced me to seriously start questioning exactly who was.  I also needed some coping skills to navigate the stormy seas I was entering because at times, I literally felt like I was drowning.  It was uncharted territory for security as I knew it was being stripped away as a result of job loss, which led to a certain identity crisis not to mention financial fears and struggles, which led to marital problems and exposed all sorts of cracks in the foundation of my life.  And of course this was all happening during a season when we were in the midst of raising our very small children (throw in a unplanned pregnancy with child #3), which is a time of life that under the best circumstances can cause even the most sane person to come completely undone!

I will save the details of my journey for my book :-) but the purpose of this entry is to bring a conclusion to this wild ride I have been on for the last few years and mark the next chapter of my journey.  Now that the dark clouds are behind me I can clearly see in the rear view mirror and make sense of what felt so utterly confusing at the time it was all happening.  What I know now is that there was a purpose for my suffering and there is a purpose for every person's suffering.  And that if you are sincere in your efforts to know the Truth, you will find it.  If you are open and wait in faith, the answers will come.  "Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you."  That is exactly what I set out to do in the beginning of my spiritual quest that started with studying and practicing yoga, a dedicated meditation practice and a delve into Interfaith Religion.  Little did I know that this intense time of seeking would lead me straight to the person who holds the answers to every single one of life's questions:  Jesus Christ.  Ever hear of him?  And to the book that is such an amazing gift from God offering a complete set of instructions on how to experience the abundant peace, joy, love, security, health and wholeness that God intends for our lives : the Bible.  Ever heard of that book? 
 I was quite familiar with both Jesus and the Bible having spent my childhood at church and Sunday school   and having been raised in a Christian family, but why on Earth would I find the answers THERE?  Being the rebel that I am, I had to go and find the answers MY way.  But God allowed that for me, as He gently and lovingly used these experiences to lead me right back to Him and into a relationship with Jesus.  My departure into relative truth (i.e. rationalizing what essentially was sinful behavior) helped me to discover absolute truth.  As a new Christian, I am practically bursting at the seams I am so full of love and awe and gratitude that will spend the rest of this Earthly life and beyond in the loving embrace of my Creator.  I just wonder why it took me so long to figure this all out but also know that only God has the answer to that question.  Yet, I do ponder daily another burning question that remains for me: how can I help spread the good news of the Gospel to our broken world that is so desperately in need of the healing power of Jesus?  How can the Church (which really means followers of Jesus)  make his beautiful teachings resonate in a world that seems to have deemed Christianity as corrupt and hypocritical, or for weirdos without a brain, or just plain uncool?

Recently I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Dartmouth College to hear a lecture given by Ravi Zacharius who is a Christian apologetic (which is an interesting name for someone who actually argues and defends FOR the faith).  I strongly suggest that anyone with questions about Christianity (and let me PLEASE insert here that any true seeker SHOULD have questions and doubts, and that being a Christian does not mean you check your brain at the door and accept any teachings with blind faith.)  I challenge you to seek the answers to your questions and to test the VALIDITY of the faith as an important part of the process.  If you are so inclined to do this, Ravi Zacharius provides extremely intelligent and LOGICAL answers to many of the difficult questions people have surrounding the Christian faith.

Anyhow, in Ravi's book "Has Christianity Failed You?" he quotes a British author by the name of A.N. Wilson, "who only a few years ago was known for his scathing attacks on Christianity and his mockery of its sacred truths.  This year, Wilson celebrated Easter at a church with a group of other church members, proclaiming that the Jesus of the Gospels is the only story that makes sense out of life and its challenges."  Here is Wilson in his own words, which for me summarizes why so many of us in today's times, including myself, have experienced an aversion to Christianity:

"Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity? 

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe, I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious.  The universities, broadcasters, and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth.  It felt so uncool to be religious.  With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground mentality accounts for much of the attitude toward Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervor of the ant-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchen and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion...

My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself.  Why did I return to it?  Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age.

...My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known - not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die."

I also agree that my belief has in large part come from the magic I have seen happen before my very eyes.  I have witnessed prayers that are miraculously answered, I have seen supernatural transformation, healing and restoration brought into my life and marriage as a result of placing God and Biblical principles at the center of them, and I have felt a river of joy rushing through me DESPITE the circumstances I find myself in.  Simply put, I have tested the teachings of Jesus and Christianity and they work, and I feel more alive and full of hope and possibility than I ever have before.  This is all the proof I need to believe that God is real, and that Jesus is "the way, the Truth and the life."  Thankfully, I have worked through the whole idea that it's not cool to love Jesus.  (He knows I felt that way at one time and loves me anyway!  Yay!)  So I am excited to put it out there to all my faithful blog followers (if any remain!)   

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

Sitting here on Easter Eve I think the timing could not be better for me to put down in writing many thoughts that have been culminating in my heart and mind on the topic of darkness and sin.  If you are reading this and are uncomfortable with the word "sin" or the idea that you are not perfect, or if it terrifies you to think about revealing your less than attractive qualities to other people or to your self, then you might want to stop reading here because what I am going to say will probably make you uncomfortable, or might not make any sense to you at all. 

I used to be one of the people I describe above.  I knew to some extent that I had flaws and that I made mistakes from time to time, but I basically thought I was a smart, good and decent person and that I would always know to do the right thing, which I wrongly believed made me immune to making bad choices and set me apart from "those other people" who made stupid mistakes and displayed reckless behavior.  Certainly I was not someone capable of making an enormous, destructive mistake that would resemble a near-death sentence for my marriage and a wrecking ball to the beautiful family I am blessed with. But I did.

It has taken me many months of reflection and some odd hours of therapy to fully understand what happened in my life to lead me to make some of the decisions that I did (which I will not discuss in detail but most people close to me know the story and those that don't can probably surmise to a certain extent.)  I am so thankful for the understanding and compassion I have gained in seeing how my life circumstances and the beliefs I formulated surrounding these experiences contributed to why things unfolded for me as they did.  This is not an excuse, but simply an acknowledgment that there is always something more behind someone's behavior than meets the eye.  Once the dust settled from this major upset that had occurred in my life I was left saying to myself "How the *&%$ did this happen?"  I sought therapy to help me understand.  So here in-lies the message I would like to communicate based on what I have learned through my painful, sobering and life changing experience.

One thing that is universal to all humans is that we have needs ranging in complexity from physical to emotional and ultimately spiritual.  All behavior is an attempt to meet these needs (We are thirsty, we reach for a drink.  We have an itch, we scratch it.  We want to emotionally connect with someone, we pick up the phone and call a friend. You catch my drift.)  I am starting to see very clearly that the cause for the majority of our pain and suffering in life and in relationships is a direct result of not knowing how to meet our own personal needs in a healthy way, either on our own or by asking someone else for help.  Destructive behavior is essentially a lousy and clumsy attempt at meeting a need because we just don't know how to do it and we have major blind spots that prevent us from seeing what is really going on.  This phenomenon has become abundantly clear to me in my role as a parent. I have learned, and believe, that when children act out or "misbehave" the child is simply showing us that she has a need and is just trying to meet it to the best of her ability.  Therefore she may resort to some type of behavior (like hitting, shouting or crying)  in an attempt to meet her need and we label this behavior as "bad."  And often times we punish the child instead of trying to understand what is really the root cause of this behavior, which is our job as a parent.  But, I digress...  When this happens however, it is much easier for us to forgive children for their behavior because we expect that since they are kids, they just do not know any better.  But isn't it the same with us adults?  Could it be that when we make mistakes in our lives we are basically over sized children trying unsuccessfully to have one of our needs met? How different would the world look if we could view poor decisions made by other people in this light, rather through the harsh and judgmental lens we tend to use while evaluating other people's behavior?  Obviously there are things we should be expected to know better as adults than children and we all must be held responsible for our behavior, but there is A LOT to learn in life and it is unrealistic to think that we know it all.  I believe we are put on this Earth to learn and grow closer to God and if we knew everything already there would be no purpose for us to even be here.  A mantra that I often repeat to myself when I am frustrated or hurt by another person's actions is "He or she is doing the best they can with they have at this time."  I fully embrace this as the truth.

Yet I still found myself sitting in my therapist's office feeling completely dumbfounded over the fact that some one as intelligent, conscious and from my perspective, genuinely loving and caring as myself could make a mistake that in hindsight seemed so obviously wrong, hurtful and destructive.  And I asked my therapist for the umpteenth time...."But how could I have done this?"  And her response was, "YOU JUST DIDN'T KNOW."  Could it really be that simple?

So what do we do in this situation, when we come face to face with our imperfection and our inherently sinful nature?  I have learned it gets me nowhere fast to stay stuck in shame or judgment of myself but I have also realized it is necessary to fully feel the emotions that come along with seeing and realizing the ramifications of my actions and the pain I caused to important people in my life .  For me to move forward with forgiving myself I had to lay down all my defenses and become completely vulnerable in admitting how wrong I was.  And that is not easy to do.  But once I did, I felt a lightness that I had not felt before, and I experienced grace in the true sense of the word.  Only then could I truly begin the work of learning and growing from my mistake, which clearly is the only option (unless you prefer to stay stuck and fester in negative thoughts about yourself.)  But again, the point I want to make is how critical it is to go through the process of fully embracing and seeing the unattractive, sinful, child-like parts of yourself and seeing the painful truth that we are blind and ignorant in many ways.  Growth will not occur by glossing over, denying or repressing the truth, because the parts of ourselves that need healing will remain outside our field of vision, in our unconscious.  In order for true forgiveness and ultimately growth to occur one must allow the light of one's awareness to shine on these blind spots so they can be integrated and then healed and transformed into healthier patterns.  The challenging part and the true definition of "loving oneself" is that meeting our dysfunction face to face needs to happen with a gentleness and compassion towards oneself instead of in harsh judgment that can lead to debilitating feelings of shame.

 I am working on this.  Some days are better than others and as with most processes, it is not linear.  But I know that overall I am a stronger, wiser, healthier, humbler and more compassionate person as a result of it all.  So much so that I give thanks to God for bringing these lessons into our life because we are gaining, growing and changing for the better in so many ways. I am ready to leave this painful chapter behind, but the world will not let me easily forget my mistakes as there are natural consequences that I must face every day.  But I try to focus on the good things that are coming into my life and into my marriage as a result of the trials we have endured.  Everything that happens to us in our life can be used to our advantage if we choose to see it this way and love really can conquer all.

I have found that the more I am humbled by my realization of how imperfect I am, the more joy, love and freedom I experience in my life.  Perhaps it's because I am not exerting so much energy trying to desperately hide the obvious fact that I am flawed (as we all are in some way.)  Perhaps it's because when your dark sides are exposed, they are met and embraced by the opposite of dark, and this light begins to fill you up and shine brightly and warmly inside of you.  Additionally, once you see how flawed you are yourself, you begin to judge others less, and traits in other people that used to bring irritation or anger now elicit a friendlier, more compassionate response. And if you are REALLY lucky, as I am, you even still have some friends and family supporting you unconditionally and a strong and courageous husband learning these valuable lessons along side of you, which is one of the greatest gifts of my life.

But I believe the ultimate reward for being brave enough to face down your demons and being humbled and cracked open by the mistakes we are all capable of making simply because we are human, is the fact that space is then cleared out for you to receive God's abundant love, grace and forgiveness into your life and your heart.  The true gift is that once we are forced to see how broken and inadequate we really are and that we are not capable of navigating this life on our own, we have no choice but to rest and trust in the loving hands of God who is so much bigger and more capable than we are.  This feeling and experience is simply beyond words.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Be. Here. Now.

The difference between the title of my last post ("What Next?") and this one ("Be. Here. Now.") strikes me as humorous, and causes me to look back with tenderness on my self, as I see with such clarity now how I have lived most of my life with an obsession of the future, which pulled me out of the pristine perfection of the present moment.  I feel a little sorry looking back at the old me (like I want to give myself a hug) because I think I missed a lot of the beauty and joy of life as a result of my constant worrying, planning and controlling, but also feel much gratitude that I still have a hell of a lot of living to do!

So...the content of my last post seems inflated with all of my "grand plans"on how I think my new career and life purpose will look.  I really thought I had it all figured out when I wrote that!  A lot can happen in seven months.  In September I was blessed with my beautiful, new son, Judah Wright.  Just a mere 9 days after he was born, I attended my first class in the Tree of Life Seminary program.  There I was, sitting in a circle of 8 other seminary students, in a silent meditation while my newborn baby slurped away at my breast and farted contentedly.  One might think that I would catch on at this point that perhaps it would be extremely challenging, if not completely impossible, to commit to a seminary program that had at its foundation, a requirement for a daily meditation practice.  On a good day with three kids age five and under, I can shower, brush my teeth and remember to eat.  It did not take me long to realize that I simply would not be able to complete the work required of me in the program, as much as I wanted to believe I could, without sacrificing my sanity and health, and therefore causing my family to suffer.

This extreme change of heart (going from entering the program with eagerness and enthusiasm to withdrawing from the class) gave me no choice but to reflect on why I made the decision I did to enroll in the seminary in the first place...especially in light of the fact that it seemed like a really bad idea.  What I discovered in this process was surprising and liberating.  First and foremost, I recognized in myself a tendency to be blind to what is in front of me RIGHT NOW.  Blind to the present moment..consumed with something else.  Clearly, life is showing that what is required of me right now is to be a wife and a mother and I want to perform these roles to the best of my ability.  The reality is that I am currently maxed out with being a wife and a mother and have little energy left for much else.  So why was I looking to take on a huge commitment that would be a drain on my already very limited time and resources?  The answer to this question was the one that was the most revealing, and healing, for me: I finally saw that I was equating achievement with success.  In my mind, if I was not working towards some future, tangible goal, I was not successful in life.  Never mind that I am doing what I truly believe in my heart to be the most important work there is: raising three children and creating a happy and healthy home environment with the strongest foundation possible for our family.  My prayers have been answered, and I am finally given the opportunity to do exactly what I have always known that I be in the comfort of my home raising my beautiful children...and I cannot relax into it!  How crazy is that?  But the sad truth is I think we all do it, all of the time.

The gift of life, the present moment, the joy and peace that passes all understanding, is as close and accessible to each one of us as our own breath.  But it is usually glossed over, ignored, and feels completely inaccessible because we do not know where or how to find it.  We do not know how to simply focus our attention on our breath because we are so used to focusing our energy on things outside and around us.  Our inner landscape is completely unfamiliar, uncharted territory.  We are too busy chasing whatever it is we have fooled ourselves into believing will make us good, worthy people and enhancing our false sense of self when the jewel of life, the treasure, is within us.

Once I was able to see the TRUTH of my situation, I was overwhelmed with a joy I have not yet experienced since my time began as a stay at home mom almost three years ago.  Now a day does not go by that I am not overflowing with joy and gratitude for my ability to relax into the present moment and therefore enjoy and savor this time of my life.

I challenge you to ask yourself what pulls you out of the present moment?  How do you try to organize and categorize your life to paint the kind of picture you want to see,  but one that may be very different than reality?  What are you trying to run away from?

"The Truth will set you free."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What Next?

Sometimes I am overcome with the urge to pick up a really good book but am not sure where to start.  Do I go on Amazon, peruse the selections and read the reviews to help me make a choice, or head to the local library and browse the shelves for something that catches my eye?  Sure, these are options but I have found that what works best every time, without fail, is to simply wait and trust that the right book will come to me.  Some of the most life changing books I have ever read have come to me in this manner.  One I found on the shelf in the freebie section at the dump, and many others have been given to me or recommended by friends, family and acquaintances with uncanny timing.

Most recently, I realized I wanted a really good book to read on my vacation, which is coming up at the end of the month.  I looked on Amazon but my gut was telling me to just wait, something will come along.  A few days later, my daughter's preschool teacher, who I have gotten to know quite well over the past year, brought a book in for me that she found while clearing her shelves at home called "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self" by Stephen Cope. The author is a Western trained psychologist and now teaches yoga and holds a position at the Kripalu Center and the book is a fascinating blend of yoga philosophy and Western psychology.  She said she immediately thought of me when she came across it on her shelf. Even more interesting was the story she told me of finding the book at Barnes and Noble.  She recalls that she was coming out of the restroom and just happened to notice the title.  Ironically, she does not even practice much yoga and the book has a very plain, unassuming cover so she wasn't sure exactly what drew her to it.  But she felt compelled to buy it so she did.  She loved it and was kind enough to share it and the book is having quite an impact on me.

As I listen to my deepest intuition and continue on my path I have discovered that my true passion and fascination lies in bridging the gap between Eastern and Western philosophies in healing the mind and spirit, allowing a person to live to his full potential as a whole human being.  It is clear that most Western therapists do not address the role of the soul or spirit in psychotherapy.  Since we exist in this world as body, mind and spirit it is alarming to me that the entire being or person is not being addressed during therapy.  Since the meaning of "heal" is to "make whole" I believe we are therefore missing the mark and significantly impeding the healing process by only acknowledging the mind in Western psychotherapy (and the body in Western medicine.) 

In the foreward of the book "How to Know God - The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali" the author states as follows: "The majority of Western phychotherapists do not, as yet, recognize the existence of the Atman, the Godhead within man - and do not, therefore, help their patients achieve the union of perfect yoga."  (Perfect yoga is the union, or yoking, of individual consciousness with divine consciousness or intelligence.)

He goes on to say "As for those psychotherapists, now becoming quite numerous, who take an interest in yoga, many of them would no doubt state their position somewhat as follows: 'We can help our patients to a certain point - to an adequate degree of adjustment on the psychosocial level.  Beyond that, we're not ready to go.  We recognize the possibility of a higher, spiritual integration, but we prefer not to make it part of our therapy, because we believe that the two should be kept separate.  If a patient wants spiritual integration, we can only send him to a yoga teacher or a minister of religion.  Where we leave off, yoga begins.'  And there, for the present, the problem rests."

When I read these words, it is difficult to explain how I feel, but it's like a longing in my heart, a passion, conviction and excitement over the fact that there is some serious work to be done.  I see now how the path I have chosen to date is laying the ground for my future work.  First, my dive into yoga teacher training, then a taste of coaching through the additional certification I completed last year through Health, Yoga, Life  But I want and crave more and it feels so amazing to have clarity around the type of work and purpose I feel I am meant to do and serve in this lifetime.  So, my next step will be embarking on a two year seminary program offered through the Tree of Life School for Sacred Living in Amherst, NH  Upon completion of my studies I will be ordained as an Interfaith Minister.  The program will serve to further my own healing and clearing so that I will best be able to connect with the divine impulse within my heart to know how to best serve and manifest my life's purpose.  This concept and belief is what the entire program is centered on - it involves a serious commitment to daily spiritual practice, such as meditation and/or prayer as well as exploring the common threads found throughout the world's major faith traditions (Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.)

I feel that in order to support others, I need to be as far along in my own healing journey as possible, which includes continuing to further my knowledge and understanding of the psycho/spiritual realm, but most importantly to continue to enhance my direct experience of God, or the soul, which I know this program will help support.  It will be wonderful to be surrounded by people going through a similar experience, discovery and transformation.  Currently, my vision also includes embarking on a Master's Degree in Psychology but so far I have yet to find a program that fits all my needs.  So, like my desire for the perfect book, I trust that the ideal program will present itself at just the right time.  But I am also open to what else could be in store for me that has yet to come into my field of awareness.  Stay tuned! :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beautiful Quote and Photo

To follow up on my post from earlier this week, please take a look at this beautiful photo and inspirational quote that ties in perfectly to what I was writing about.  This was posted by my yoga teacher, Maureen Miller, on her Facebook page Living Life Making Choices.  If you like what you see, please like her page!!/photo.php?fbid=10150686837546322&set=a.10150197083856322.342194.253498356321&type=1&theater

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Voice

I feel compelled to begin this post by talking about how long it's been since my last post.  But I think that's how I started last time, so it's probably getting old.  But I am aware that I am a very sporadic blogger. Awareness is the first step towards change though, right?

I have missed working on my blog and could list a whole host of reasons why I haven't had time.  But that would make for a really boring post, and the fact of the matter is that I simply did not make the time for it. I do not really buy into the whole "I don't have time for that" excuse.  If something is a priority, time can always be created.  But I am digressing here....I will say that the push I needed to finally stop procrastinating came from a friend who posted a comment today stating that I was her inspiration for her to start a blog of her own, which was one of the highest compliments I have received.  Her blog is wonderful and can be viewed at  It made me think "Wow, maybe I do have something to say that people find interesting."  What a concept.

What I find so inspiring about reading other people's blogs is that it shows who a person really is down to the depths of his or her soul.  Blogging provides an avenue for people to express his or voice and to shine his or her unique light out into the world wide web.  As you know, there are blogs on just about every topic imaginable.  For someone to devote the time and energy it takes to write a blog means it is something they are extremely passionate about.  It just amazes me that people possess such an endless variety of fascinating hobbies, interests and talents, and how many colors to the rainbow of humanity there really are.

Yoga and meditation have helped me to clear the static of my thoughts and dial into the deepest desires and impulses of my own heart.  This intuition that every person holds...the deep feelings, ideas or sensations that go beyond the five senses we are accustomed to using....has become my compass, my guide as I navigate this incredible journey of life.

I believe we are all born with these inner impulses planted in us.  It is what makes us uniquely us...they are our divine gifts, or dharma, whether it be something big and bold like being a gifted athlete or something a little quieter, like being a really amazing listener.  It is our duty to recognize and honor these gifts that have been bestowed upon us, whatever they may be.  As the Bhagavad Gita states: "It is better to perform one's own duty (dharma) imperfectly than to perform another's duty (dharma) perfectly."  So where doubt used to reign, I now fully trust and respect who I am and see gifts and talents where I used to see none.  I listen to the little voice inside and I enjoy listening to others expressing their individual voices as well.  We all have beautiful and special gifts to offer if we could just turn the volume down on the fearful and doubtful cacophony in our minds and listen instead to the song in our hearts.  This song has many different could be singing a tune about a vocation that feels as if it would be deeply fulfilling, or something particular you feel really compelled to say to someone, or just a general feeling of knowing you are on the right path.  When we hear the voice from within that is sending us messages, our tendency however is to usually stifle the voice with self doubt.  We may say things like "I could never make money or be successful doing that."  Or, "What I have to say does not really matter."  Or we might bend to the opinions of other people rather than carving the path that feels truly right for us.

This is not to say that doubt does not still arise for me.  It does, a lot.  But I have learned to simply take a look at this doubt, ask myself if it is true or holds any merit, look at the situation from as wide of a lens as possible and then usually default back to whatever my intuition is telling me.  As the saying goes, I have learned to "doubt my doubts."

A friend recently shared this short poem written by the beloved children's poet Shel Silverstein with me.  It is called "The Voice" and contains wisdom to be valued by the young and old alike:

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
"I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong."
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What's right for you - just listen to
The voice that speaks inside. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do You Believe in What You See?

For all my faithful followers out there (all two of you :-) I want to apologize for letting so much time go by in between posts.  This summer, I was completely consumed with learning the lessons I am going to discuss here.  For me, they are monumental, life changing lessons that have taken 33 years and a lot of suffering to eventually learn.

The first lesson is that things are not always what they seem.  EVER.  Our human minds have the tendency to  judge, label, confine, and organize ideas and concepts and grasp onto form as a way to feel secure.  Form exists as people, objects, situations, beliefs, thoughts and feelings.  Identifying with form is our way of feeling safe and in control.  It is our ego's way of saying "I've got this whole life thing figured out."  Unfortunately, form is also subject to the laws of nature, which means it is going to break down at some point and as humans we miss out on the true essence of life and cause ourselves suffering if we remain too rigidly attached to any kind of form.  Yoga practice teaches you not only to be flexible in the body but most importantly in the mind. Yoga essentially teaches you to "go with the flow."

So, my belief (or the particular form I was identified with) was something along the lines of "My marriage is rock solid, nothing will ever crack it, and I am such a moral and highly evolved person that I would never do anything to put my marriage and family at risk." (um...hello ego!)  Your mind might be running away with all sorts of guesses as to what happened here.  And I am not going to explain as the story is extremely long and complicated and the details are irrelevant to the points I want to make.  (Rest assured that there was no dishonesty or infidelity involved, but even if there was, it would still be OK as I am learning...just read on :-)  It did however include a series of choices I made that now in hindsight do appear to be extremely poor and incredibly painful.  And this perfect storm led us to a point where we were not sure our marriage was going to survive.  The word "divorce" was used.  Never, in a million years, would I have imagined to be having that conversation with my husband.  So there you go.  This belief I held about myself was dissolving right before my very eyes as a result of choices I made that seemed like the right ones at the time.  Proof that nothing is as it seems.  Life is energy in a constant state of flux and as humans we have the tendency to cling to form instead of staying open and flexible to the fact that things are constantly my case I was attached to the idea that I was pretty darn perfect and had an impenetrable marriage so I was shocked and humbled when life challenged this belief.

The second main lesson I learned and the one that is the most meaningful to me is what it means to truly love.  The Buddhists have a term called "bodhichitta" which is essentially translated into "completely open, awakened, and enlightened heart and mind."  It is equated with our ability to love.  I have been reading about this concept for quite some time but only is it now that I have shifted into a true understanding of it through direct experience.  According to Pema Chodron in her book "The Places that Scare You" it is only bodhichitta that heals and bodhichitta that is capable of transforming the hardest of hearts and the most prejudiced and fearful of minds.  For me, I have finally used the concept of bodhichitta to heal myself and learn to love myself unconditionally, and I believe this is exactly where it needs to start.

Throughout the events of the past couple of months there have been many stones thrown and some hurtful things said and believed about me.  The first step for me was finding it in my heart to forgive these people.  Everyone sees the world through completely different lenses, and these unique views are the truth for each individual.  I was making decisions based on my beliefs at the time, and people were judging those decisions based on their beliefs.  That is all fine and good and makes sense to me.  Intellectually, I do not fault anyone for having beliefs that do not line up with my own.  But emotionally it was a different story.  Words can be like poison if you allow them to be.  And I could slowly feel myself allowing the poison to seep into my soul.  Thoughts like "I am a selfish, bad and evil person, a terrible wife and mother" started swirling around my head.  Which led me to my moment where my soul screamed "Stop feeding me with this toxic energy!" I finally realized that I had been accepting these false beliefs about myself for 33 years and all of these past experiences had finally brought me to this place, and to this moment, where I chose to live my life from a place of love and freedom instead of fear and self deprecation. Yes, I made some mistakes.  But this is where it ends for me.  I view these mistakes as golden opportunities from which I will learn as much as I possibly can and increase my awareness about myself and awaken compassion for other people who also stumble along the way.  But I am not bad.  No one is.  We are all children of God...born as pure love, light and joy which is our natural state of being and wholeness.

Bodhichitta has the ability to transform and heal the world.  There is so much pain and suffering that we inflict by the ego's need to label, judge and persecute ourselves and others.  It is through self love and acceptance that we gain the ability to love others unconditionally and fully.  For example, in this Perfect Storm, my husband's pain caused him to say and do some very hurtful things to me as well.  I now believe I have a fuller understanding of what it means to love and forgive since I was able to do it for myself so it becomes natural to look at him, see the beauty in his soul and recognize that as his true essence.  Rather than retaliate and defend with more hurtful words and actions, which would clearly escalate the situation, I am able to more easily forgive him and open my heart in compassion.  And I know he is working on doing the same for me. We feel that these experiences are teaching and allowing us to love eachother in the truest sense of the word: unconditionally.

So in the end, I realize how from an outsider's perspective the choices I made were the "wrong" ones.  However, the only way I can explain what led me to do what I did, was that I knew, without a doubt that I was being guided by the deepest part of authentic self, my soul, or even by God, to make the decisions that I made.  This is what I know.  I followed my heart and my truth and it led us into this current situation that looks like a horrible accident scene from the outside, but what does it look like on the inside?  It ties back to my first lesson, which is "nothing is as it seems" because from our perspective it is a beautiful place.  We know in the depth of our souls that this was part of a larger plan to bring us to ground zero so that we can rebuild our life and our marriage into something even deeper, more joyous and grounded in truth than ever before and are so grateful for the opportunity.