Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Tears

There are tears scattered through my mind, my heart. They land softly in my world.  And they are good tears. When my daughter left for college, I was bereft. I found comfort in a cemetery. It was a place of mourning. I joined the ranks of the bereaved and in those hallowed grounds of suffering, I let my tears flow. Refreshing - these tiny drops were my salvation.

There's a deep vulnerability in crying and letting go of holding it together. Tears detoxify the soul. They wash the dark places of our hearts and reassemble the puzzle pieces of our confusion. And yet, in no uncertain terms, society maligns our tears. They are deemed weakness by life’s hardness. Just let one tear fall and we apologize to our peers.

I love how children cry. I recall my grandson Thomas’s eyes filling with tears when we parted at the airport in Houston. He was only three, and as he walked away, with his mom, I remember his tear-stained face disappearing down the corridor.  That memory fills me with sweetness.  

I am a buffalo heart - one who feels others and cries with them. I cry for the trees, the air, the waters, and for the animals. My heart grieves as humanity commits crimes against itself and others. We need good grievers. We need those who mourn for the loss of sweetness, compassion, and tenderness. We need snotty noses and glistening eyes to bear witness to Mother Earth and to all forms of injustice.

We need the desperate moments of our lives to show up on our faces. They should not be hidden under a smile that never reaches our eyes. Our darkest moments need the light of expression, not suppression. There are already too many self-proclaimed martyrs.

The world peddles excellence, strength, and success and turns its nose upward, away from the complexity of reality. We have lost our ability to balance greatness and despair. It is not allowed. “Chin up. Where’s that smile? Don’t cry.” We are admonished for taking the medicine that can restore our strength. Tears are the medicine for weakness. We need a few moments in our lives where weakness can come forth or at least pass through with acknowledgement. We do not have to cry daily. We do not have to be perpetual wailing machines, but we do need a space where all sentiments and emotions have a voice. We need the grail of grief to open us to a field where the ego is not welcome. We need to listen to the rhythm of life and to open to what appears. We need the dark velvety blanket of grief to comfort us when our dog dies, when our child is injured, and when our partners leave.

We need the good, the bad, and ugly if we are to walk the sturdy path of aliveness – the path that leads us home to the self. We need the spa and the garbage dump to unlock our hearts and to restore our vision.

The next time our heart aches or we shed a tear, no need to reach for the light. Let us rest for a moment in the great unknown and see what our tears offer. Let us bask in the temporary shrine of the soul and create a soft space for the wounded parts. Let us not hide the parts or luxuriate in them either. Let us allow the wordless pain to flow for a bit so we can retrieve the joy that lies beneath the age-old sorrow of existence, because when we do, everything becomes Ezier and Ezier. 

 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Power Of Vulnerability


 

“In my defenselessness my safety lies.” A Course in Miracles

I take notes. Maybe it is a diversion, but when I hear great or unique ideas, I write them down. I take notes when I listen to videos, read books, attend conferences, and even pull quotes from the Internet. I write them down because I do not want them lost in my subconscious mind. I even turn my thoughts into quotes. I have journals, notebooks, notes scribbled on scraps of paper, and recorded messages on my phone. Right now I’m writing this in a special bound notebook full of notes, quotes, and ideas. These notes will be transferred to my computer, and soon you will take a peep into my world. Once I put the ideas in a notebook, they become mine. I nurture them, read, and reread them. These notes are life notes for me, because they often become lifelines. When thoughts spin in habitual circles of inner madness and illusions, I pull out the notes to myself. The words breeze through me and I feel like someone hit my mental refresh button.

The following ideas came to me through BrenĂ© Brown, who quoted psychoanalytic theorist Karen Horney. The ideas are in my notes, though I have added more from my research. Each time I run across them, I feel relief! “That’s right. Of course. No wonder. How insightful. I know that but keep forgetting.”

Maybe you too will be interested in the ways we respond to shame. What are our neurotic needs?

  1. Withdrawal – We Move Away From People. Detachment. We clamp down. We put up walls. We keep emotional secrets from others and bury them in ourselves. We run and shut the door to our room or to our heart. We are desperate for personal achievement and have an unhealthy need for a high level of self-sufficiency, autonomy, independence, and perfection. We house a fear of being slightly flawed, and have a need to live life in narrow confines, as inconspicuously as possible.

  2. Compliance - We Move Toward People. We people please. There is need for affection, a partner to make life okay, for social recognition and personal admiration.

  3. Aggression – We Move Against. There is a need for power and power over others. We move against, shame others, exploit, control, or manipulate.

My notes on shame remind me of how shame manipulates me; not all the time, but it holds a prominent place in my psyche. I am a people pleaser. I do not want others to dislike me. I walk a thin line between pleasing people and loving, appreciating, and supporting others. I watch my thoughts and emotional reactions. Can I come clean with myself? Which side of the emotional divide am I living from in the moment? Am I in my power or in my shame?

Even as I write this, I imagine you reading and thinking I am a complete flake or a weakling. Then I laugh and realize that only a shame-based person, who projected their shame on me, would do that. We would therefore be in the same boat. Vulnerability has a rightful place in my inner and outer dialogue, even if others cannot appreciate or respect it.

Life is complex. Complexity adds character and richness to life, but the egoic mind is a specialist in turning complexity into complication. The biggest complexity of human life is integrating our human limits with our true nature. We are unlimited, brilliant beings who live in a dimension bound by limits. This dimension is form, and, for us, we take the form of humans. Unfortunately, form has developed a generous portion of shame, and that shame is reinforced by parents, teachers, friends, and our families. William Q. Judge spoke of this divide between our limits and our true nature in his translation of the Bhagavad Gita. “The battle refers not only to the great warfare that mankind as a whole carries on, but also to the struggle which is inevitable as soon as any one unit in the human family resolves to allow his higher nature to govern him in his life.” He is saying that being in a body will cause suffering because our two sides will do battle. In the Bhagavad Gita, the struggle is between Krishna, our higher nature, and Arjuna, our lower nature.

In unpacking boxes yesterday, I found an old letter from a friend who attended my spiritual center. She wrote in glowing terms about the talk I gave that Sunday morning. I read with rapt attention, resting, glowing in her words. She purchased the cassette of the talk and listened to the tape repeatedly. She even shared it with friends. Then I came to the real kicker: she said that the most important part was when I said I was standing in my power, even as I navigated my abandonment issues. Her words reminded me of the truth. Sharing our vulnerabilities and our lower nature requires courage. It demands that we risk that others may not like us, but when we take that risk, it usually has an opposite effect. Exposing our weaknesses to others inspires people as much as sharing our success stories and our against all odds stories. Her letter speaks to the power we have when our strength holds hands with our shame. It somehow transforms our weaknesses into stories, lessons, and realizations. We are not perfect, nor can we escape the limits of human form, but if we courageously face our limits, we charge our spiritual momentum, and our lives become EZier and EZier.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Human Condition


Learning our way around in a human body is puzzling, complex, and rewarding, most of the time. I crept, and sometimes ran, through life, and though I became aware of more and more possibilities, it took time for me to fully understand the power of my mind. In college I learned William Glasser’s Reality Therapy and Choice Therapy. I was excited to know about choices. I studied positive mind psychology and went to positive thinking rallies, but it was only when I was in a relationship that tested my reality and my sanity that these theories came into play.

I was in relationship with a man who lied about almost everything. It was more than just a relationship; I am embarrassed to say we were married. That’s another story, but, in my defense, as if I need one, it was a rebound relationship. He convinced my mind, this charismatic con man, of all kinds of things, but always my gut knew better. I wanted to believe him, but my body and my unrelenting anxiety knew that his truths were peppered with fraudulent claims. He was devoted and loving to me. He helped me with so many life tasks: ran errands, took care of the lawn. I couldn’t imagine life without him. Life was too daunting to face alone, but his help and love came with a price tag – my sanity. My reality teetered as I stood on the side of a perpetual black hole. I felt irrational, anxious, and fearful. We were financially entangled, and money was my Achilles heel. Unbeknownst to me, he ran up my credit cards, sought expensive medical care we could not afford, and depleted my savings. I remember riding down the road in my grey Chevrolet and, as I reached for my radio, something clicked in. I no longer had to be at the effect of his lies. I was not yet brave enough to divorce him, but I had the courage and power to think and act a different way. It was as if the low point in my life assembled everything I read and studied and gave them back to me as a superpower – the power to choose.

Eventually I divorced him, thank God, but the lesson of choice never left. I rejoiced. I now had the key to the Universe; I could choose my reaction to life and even influence outcomes. What a relief, this magic of choice, but if choice was the key, why was my life not getting better? I might be steadier, but I still faced mountains I had never imagined. I climbed each one, looking for the key to fix what was wrong with me and my life, but as soon as I propped up one area of my life, another fell apart. Eventually I began to find the real magic. There was no key; life is to be faced one moment at a time, and if I would dwell in the source of who I was, and stay radically present, insurmountable problems became stepping-stones to greater states of peace and power.

I understood why great teachers answer a question with a question. Students want to know the how to’s of life, but the true teacher knows that hunting for answers to life’s dilemmas is a detour. Trying to solve problems is not the answer. The answer lies in a space that recognizes that, at the deepest level, problems do not exist. In looking back, I could see that those grave moments of despair drove me deeper into myself and gave me the courage to surrender to the unknown.

Learning not to look for the key to life’s problems gives us a tremendous freedom. It frees up our energy. Figuring things out, making sure we are not being taken advantage of, trying to be important, not looking like a fool, all this requires searching, answers, and protection. It is all a burden we were never meant to carry. Life is simpler. The only thing we need to cover is the now moment. Our egoic mind loves our burdens. They give us an identity and can even make us seem special. Martyrs are respected and admired for what they came through, but we do not need a dilemma to shine in the glory of who we are. A Course in Miracles states that simplicity is difficult for twisted minds, and, while life is complex, there is always a simple or simpler road we can follow through our complexity. My deceased sister informed me, when I was young, that self-realization can occur in anyone. We do not have to be important, learned, or even wise; we just need to be present for our life. I did not believe her then. But now, years later, I know what she tried to tell me. Life is not what we think it to be; it is what it is, and that is okay. The power to choose is but a road sign pointing us to wholeness. My favorite thought these days is, “Drop it. Drop it. Drop it.” I do not always succeed, but I find that when I drop the need to see life as a problem to be solved, stop hunting for a fix, and follow my drop it suggestion, that everything in my life becomes EZier and EZier.



The Prime Minister of Possibilities

 


We live in a culture that sentences us to linear thinking. It’s not due to a conspiracy; it’s due to the sanctification and hybridization of the rational, mechanical, and the material. Somewhere, back in the days of deep discovery, we discarded something valuable, in favor of what we reasoned was undesirable. We placed our new discoveries at the top and center of our value systems and left behind the heart and foundation of our souls.

That’s why we have to wake up. We must wake up the sleeping parts of who we are and somehow bring the rational and material along for the ride. The rational, the mechanistic, and the material can no longer be the train; they must become the cargo. We are in times when we can conduct double-blind studies and learn to listen to the bees and the trees, and its vital that we do both. The scientist needs to meditate and to heed perennial wisdom, and the meditator must adopt essential practicality and act when needed. The businesswoman must open her heart and the spiritual activist must learn to leverage social media. We can no longer stay in the box of our choosing, if we expect to plumb the potency of our being.

The Prime Minister of a country is the leader of the government and is ultimately responsible for its policy and decisions. But imagine a prime minister of internal affairs, a personal prime minister, an overseer who has authority to open the doors to a higher way of being.

That prime minister (PM) does exist within us, and the PM can marry the profound and the practical and free us in a way that exposes limitless possibilities. We live in exciting times; we are on the edge of untold possibilities and unmitigated enthusiasm for a higher good. While the media might show us the limits of the world picture, and it’s something we want to know, there is an emerging tide of fortune, that brings with it a freshness that ultimately can’t be ignored. When our good nips at our heels indefinitely, when a higher way of being exposes itself at every turn, even our most cynical parts take note.

What catalyst awakens that which sleeps in us? It is simple. When we begin to feel good, we see things in a different light. We open to possibilities, because when we feel good, we don’t need to spend our energies protecting and defending our ideologies, positions, and imagined weaknesses.

We have to let go of many of our ingrained habits before we begin to feel good. What would our inner prime minister have us do to awaken to the pleasures of life? How can we prime the realms of expanded intelligence?

  • Quit making material success sacred. This quest runs us ragged and leaves little time to enjoy life. Success should never be a goal; it should be the byproduct of living on purpose.
  • Stop rescuing people and taking care of others, especially when it leaves us little or no time for ourselves. We can’t make others the central theme of our lives. While service to others opens us to miracles, codependency shuts them down. Discover the difference between altruism and martyrdom.
  • Join with others.Some animals are solitary, but humans are not. Social inclusion and interaction are necessary for our survival. This becomes evident when we become socially isolated, starting with depression and often culminating in disease.
  • Be in touch with our bodies. When we are in touch with our bodies, we know that bodies like sweet sounds, enticing aromas, and movement. The body loves sexual pleasures and healthy, good-tasting foods. The body loves to be held and hugged.
  • Be informed. Keep up with what’s happening in the world, and fuel our minds with joyful thoughts and fun times. If we keep all the news out of our lives, we spark denial, but when we keep the pleasure of living at bay, we become cynics. If we blend the state of the world with optimistic possibility thinking, the world presents opportunities rather than burdens.

Feeling good alone is not the panacea to solving the world’s problems, just as priming to pump only brings water to us. We can’t quench our thirst unless we drink the water. Learning to incorporate pleasure and feeling good into our lives is the prime for the pump of our good. It opens us to more intelligent choices. Can you imagine people who feel good about their lives stopping their party and saying, “Let’s go to war.”? Feeling good, experiencing joy, zeal, and zest, create a vibration that allows the treasures of pleasures to flow into our lives. Think of the inner Prime Minister as our higher self. It is a part of us that has answers that our rational mind bypasses. It is an all-inclusive part of ourselves that we can call on to solve problems, to open us to adventure, and to fuel a renaissance of being. It can manage and direct inspiring inner dialogue. The PM serves us in both practical and mystical ways. It brings science and sentience together. I heard a woman say, “I talk with my Higher Power. If you see me talking to myself, I’m just having a cabinet meeting.” Let’s call on our PM, and have a cabinet meeting, because when we do, life is EZier and EZier.

Friday, September 10, 2021

You Got to Be Kidding! Cold Water is Not That Hot (For Our Health)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom always drank room temperature water. Even though I shy away from her practices, which may not always be a great idea, somewhere along the way, I adopted her habit. When I was cold, it made no sense to drink iced water. Room temperature water seemed less invasive than frigid water. My hands stayed warmer in cold weather. For me, room temperature water made sense.

 Over the years I heard comments about digestion and not drinking water at a meal but heard no real health benefits of drinking room temperature water. I decided it was time to see what the Internet, an impeccable source of indisputable information, could lend to the conversation. The dubious results:

·       Cold water is not good for hydration. It causes the vessels around the stomach to constrict and slows down absorption; therefore, you must drink more cold water to hydrate.

·      Cold water slows down your metabolism. OMG. Women hate that. As we age, we live for things that reeve up our metabolism. Hot tea any one?

·       Reportedly cold water constricts your vocal cords, which is why singers drink room temperature water before or during a performance. Darn, I have no excuse.

·       Cold water increases your appetite. No, it can't be. Women live for foods that decrease their appetites. Even the skinniest woman would never eat something if it were labeled "Increases your appetite." This makes a powerful case for room temperature water.

Once I was on a small island in the Indian Ocean. I had traveled by car, bus, cab, motorcycle, jitney, and boat to get there. Fortunately, a senator recommended a guide to take me, who fell in love with me. He worked for the mafia, but that's off the point. Just so you won’t think I’m totally daffy, maybe I'd better say that when I found out the he was mafia, I was already at our destination. It was too late to turn back. Really, he had good credentials, but it was only when I was in the middle of nowhere did he tell me about being a hit man - that was after I taught him meditation, which he said changed his life. He sat across from me as I ordered guyabano juice. I was in a tropical paradise and expected a fresh, yummy treat, not canned juice. I asked for some ice, the hit man looked horrified, but the server assured me it was no problem. 30 minutes later three small ice cubes arrive. The hit man interrupted me before I could ask for more. I am completely puzzled. I asked the server why it took so long, and he told me there was only one place on the island that had ice, and that was in a private home. He had run 15 minutes to get my ice and then 15 for the return. This experience gave me a new perspective on drinking iced beverages. Germans drink room temperature beer. Maybe they are on to something.

I have been talking about room temperature water, but maybe anything cold is not that good for us. My friend, Judy, claimed her nose started running when she ate or drank anything cold. Ingesting anything iced exacerbates sore throats, sinus problems, and other flu symptoms. I know I’ve gone too far. I expect the Ben and Jerry police to be here any moment.

Did you know that people who spend long hours in air-conditioning gain weight faster than those who don't. Maybe our bodies don't like artificial temperature, be it in air, water, or food.

Do you see the point? My mama started me on this quest that keeps me warmer, well- hydrated, gives me a faster metabolism, and a better voice. When I can’t get ice, I don’t have to grouse; even my sinuses and throat love my mama for what she taught me. And what’s good for mama, is, most likely, good for you, too.