On Opening to Life

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There is a heartbeat to every relationship, a rhythm that lets us know whether or not we are in tune with Life. When the heart beats close, we have become disconnected from the present moment. We are thinking about what could have been, or we’re thinking about what should happen. We’re not being with the other person.

And yet, like a beating heart, it eventually and inevitably opens back up. The heart of the relationship opens up naturally and effortless to what is right in front of us. That life for which we have been hoping and praying… It’s right in front of us. We just had to stop long enough to just be in it.

Where in my life have I closed my heart to Life? Where in my life can I open up to the Love that is already within me and all around me?

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On Developing a Positive Relationship to Suffering

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It’s been a long while since I have written a blog post. I happen to be developing an e-course on “Living a Sacred, Fulfilling Life” and it seems that Life has been providing me with ample opportunities to move through my own curriculum.

One key idea in that curriculum with which I am being at this moment is transforming our relationship to suffering. As the Buddha realized, it is natural that, as human beings, we experience suffering because having that experience comes along with the grasping/desire-seeking parts of us that are hard-wired after millennia of human evolution. And as a means of coping, we have developed a resistance to the suffering caused by unfulfilled desires.

Even if the resistance automatically comes up, this does not mean that we do not have a choice as to how we react to that resistance and thus, to the suffering. We can begin to transform our relationship to our suffering such that it begins something positive from which we can learn.

So my mantra right now is: “May my suffering bring clarity and lead me back to my truth.”

A Step to Having Our Emotions Lead Us Back

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Emotions can be quite powerful. We even say that powerful emotions, like rage, grief, or shame, overwhelm us, completely filling us. Our experience of our emotions is that it gets into every fiber, every nook and cranny, of our being until it feels like that emotion is all that we have become.

Yet, our emotions do not fill EVERY part of us. There is space around our emotions that is not touched and taken over by the emotions. This infinite, eternal part is ever at Peace, ever still, waiting for us to return to it. It is what allows us to hold the emotion in the first place, to give it meaning and to return us to the truth of who we are.

Next time the next emotion arises, be with it. Then ask yourself, “What else is there?” The answer is what will lead us back to ourselves.

On the Way to True Healing

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This morning, I was reading from Pema Chodron’s teaching around the practice of tonglen, which is transforming how I relate to and be with the energy of my emotions. She mentioned the “soft spot,” and my heart stirred.

For most, like myself, the automatic reaction to anger, fear, sadness, shame, etc., is to tighten and harden ourselves. Our muscles tense up. There is tightness in our chests. It’s like our bodies and souls are bracing ourselves, protecting that last part of ourselves from potential hurt.

If there is anything that the last two weeks, working with my partner to bring healing to our relationship and taking the biggest steps to let go of my addiction, have taught me, it is that the way through is not to strong-arm my way. Rather, it is to open myself up all the way to that soft spot, to the last piece of me that I am hiding away. It is about bringing the tenderness up into the light. It is only by bringing the soft spot out that I make myself wholly and completely available to Life‘s healing grace.

A Tip For Being More Mindful in the Present Moment

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“I can’t focus.” … “I don’t understand.” … “This wasn’t the way it was before.” … “How do I let go?” … “How do I be with this?” … “This isn’t the way I imagined it would be.” … “Something’s wrong here.”… As I deepen my mindfulness practice, one of the questions that has come up for me: “How do I stay in the present moment without grasping or holding on to it?”

The more we try to “be” in the present moment, the more it slips away from us. We’re too busy trying to have the present moment show up the way we want it to show up, rather than accepting it simply and naturally arising exactly as  it is.

One of the things that has helped me to authentically be with the present moment is to ask myself: “How much of myself is really,  right now, in this moment?”

When I ask myself this, if I am not truly in the present, it snaps me back into it. And if I am, it encourages me to be more mindful of bringing more to the here and now.

On Being With the Uncomfortable Emotions

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This morning, I got back on the yoga mat for the first time in two weeks. It felt good to have muscles I haven’t visited in a while be worked and stretched. As I leaned into a standing pose in a warrior sequence, I felt my quads begin to burn. I almost pulled away from the discomfort. Yet, I breathed a deep breath and chose to just go into the discomfort … without any judgment … without wanting it to go away nor to have it be other than what it was. … And I found myself just … being with it. …

Being with the emotions that make us feel uncomfortable isn’t something that just happens. We must choose to accept and greet these feelings, having faith that what got us into those emotions in the first place will eventually lead us out of our emotions and back to ourselves.

On Being Honest About Our Emotions

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Have you ever felt angry at/ ashamed of / disappointed in yourself for feeling bad about something? Have you ever judged yourself for the feelings?

Last night, I found myself beating myself up for feeling disappointed for not having had a chance to talk to Jon, who has been busy wrapping up his semester. I completely understand how busy the end of an academic year could be, and this is no reflection on the attention Jon has given to our relationship. Rather, this is a reflection on my own self-talk, … on the ways in which I judged myself for somehow not giving myself the space to feel my own disappointment and missing him.

Being with our emotions is an acknowledgment of our humanity. It is about opening ourselves honestly to our emotions and accepting that we are okay, that there is nothing wrong with what comes up for us in the heat of the moment.

I allow the light of honesty to enter my life.