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Author: laviniachristine

Quiet Butterfly

Quiet Butterfly

 

Keeping Quiet

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,

let’s not speak in any language;

let’s stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines;

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victories with no survivors,

would put on clean clothes

and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.

 

Quiet. I crave it but never seem to get enough; quiet in my external environment and quiet from an internal dialogue that haunts me. It is only with quiet that I find clarity, especially during periods of great transformation. As in the metaphor of the butterfly, I feel the delicate strands of a self-imposed cocoon restricting at the moment. Discomfort is necessary for growth and I wonder how much I must bear before breaking free and stretching my new found wings. I feel a constant hum of the other, a sound in the distance that beckons me. The sound being the steady march of possibility, the limitation being a tightly wrapped cocoon. I have the urge to burst forth regardless of circumstance, common sense tempers this desire with a litany of questioning. A constant risk assessment visits like a bad habit, it baffles the mind.

 

Having flirted with uncertainty before,  memory replays moments of flight apart from this ever tightening cocoon. Even so, I am certain that I have stifled transformation by allowing the opinions of others and even myself to further restrict.  It is difficult to admit that in learning how to fly the atmosphere will become unstable. Wings must be taught how to catch the air, glide effortlessly and land softly while still enduring bumpy rides and hard landings. The discomfort of it all is like an itch that can not be scratched, lessened only by the ever present hum of possibility.

 

“My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people.”

― Patricia Highsmith

 

Tuning into this hum calls for solitude and a clear mind.  Only in this space am I able to separate fear from possibility, often becoming shaken by the speed of impending transformation. Life is so very short and if not soaring what then? I have only myself to blame if I do not escape from this cocoon with a certain measure of immediacy. It is only in flight that all pretense is left behind and beautiful colors that are uniquely mine appear.

 

“The quiet sense of something lost”

― Alfred Tennyson

 

In this space I sense those who have come before, living in the most unusual of ways.  Having unabashedly taken flight they experienced both the joy and heartbreak of a life well lived. Feeling the void of sudden departure it is clear someone will fill this space, this vacuum. Someone will be the free spirit that shines deeply, unafraid of the cuts. Someone will live dangerously, taking chances and relishing results. Someone will approach all others with unconditional love, no expectations or judgments. Someone will break free and fly…. Looking to the sky, I smell the air, feel the breeze and absorb the rays of the sun. It is only in failing that one can be transformed. I silently pray that I become this someone. I silently pray for wings.

 

 

Find the Gold in Others

Find the Gold in Others

 

Variation on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

Margaret Atwood, 1939

 

Margaret Atwood imagery has such an ethereal quality. It dances when read and is reminiscent of innermost thoughts, gentle but intensely deep. Reading this piece, I am reminded of the very human desire to know another in the most intimate of ways. As one that craves this knowing in every interaction, I am often left feeling somewhat empty, or more optimistically half full after speaking with another. Always longing to understand what makes one tick, I struggle with balancing my desire for this knowing with the pretense of modern day culture.

 

No matter the venue, the desire to “see” never abates. I am constantly scanning and observing feeling curious, shocked, disappointed and bemused. We are all strange and extraordinary creatures, full of individual quirks and habits. As one that is well familiar with the walls used to disguise a more vulnerable self, I find it fascinating seeing others do the same. Our fragility speaks volumes without a word being said.

 

Recently, I have begun to reach a breaking point of sorts. May it be due to midlife or just introspection, one can never know. I am losing patience with the benign conversations and banter of daily life. The effort that is required of me to avoid absorbing restless energy is exhausting. I feel it as soon as I walk into a room. At times the air is light and playful and at other times extremely heavy. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop the incessant meetings and take the time to have one on one discussion about life, the universe and all things bigger than this world? Instead talk percolates around all issues that divide, a pointless endeavor with little hope for resolution. I have even taken to finding out a bit about each person in an effort to humanize thereby making our interaction more meaningful, gentle and empathetic.

 

Margaret Atwood says it so powerfully with, “I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed & that necessary.” While this line can easily be placed in the hands of a loving and intimate relationship, what does it mean when superimposed on all other relationships? What is required of us to “see” others? Each relationship thrives on tending and I have come to realize that no matter the tenor of the friendship, much thought and consideration should be given to what motivates another. Are they exhausted from over commitment, struggling with illness, energized by passion or just incessantly trying to prove themselves to a person long gone that lingers on in memory alone. The metaphorical voice over the shoulder perhaps. Whatever the case, each person comes to this world with a unique sensibility; a way of navigating, protecting and sharing that is different from all others. This leaves me feeling responsible to peel back a few of these layers, understand the pressure points and honor them in conversation.

 

I may miss the mark, but that does not keep me from trying again and again. Personal experience is proof that once someone feels a level of comfort, some of the walls will come down. In my case this is true only in instances where I feel a certain vibration from another, recognition of similar. In these instances, I feel capable of breathing the same air, feeling their pain and understanding motivation. It is always collaborative, an intimate sharing of self. We are never on a solo mission; our existence is contingent on relationships of all sorts. Alone we are just that…alone.

 

Finding My Way Home

Finding My Way Home

 

“This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway. Step around the poisonous vipers that slither at your feet, attempting to throw you off your course. Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away. Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.”

― Mirabai Starr, The Interior Castle

 

Frustrated by disparity between the self-help movement, religions that profess acceptance and actual practice, I find myself in the gray once again.  People are imperfect, yet it baffles me when those that profess to be pious judge with utter abandon. It is for this very reason I made the personal decision to explore all practices but claim none. Each has something to offer along with something that speaks directly to me. In my view, if everyone practiced love as a core belief, judgment would be counter to any belief.

 

In this way, reading the words of the mystics has offered a specific calmness in my life. I share their depth of feeling as well as a misfit sensibility demonstrated by disconnect with the progression of others. Everyone else may be thinking about a to-do list or how to capture success while I am in that quiet place of serenity and solitude dancing with my thoughts. No one seems to notice, I make no outward appearance to this fact. I slip in and out of this realm with a practiced ease, questioning everything.

 

Of the many questions I ponder, one remains. Why is it that so many faiths lay down strict rules of engagement prescribing how one should experience the Divine? Who has the authority to tell me how to experience what should be freely given.  It is important to allow room for spiritual discovery in the way that speaks to one as an individual. No organization, ideology or otherwise can hold weight over this self-discovery. Mysticism allows for this space, a space to experience spirit in a personal way, a space between all else.

 

“If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another.”

― Gautama Buddha

 

There are many ways to the same end. The faithful practitioner may come to the same conclusions as one that has spent a lifetime of immersion in mystic thought, empowering the individual experience over the group. No one-way is the only way; I refuse to accept that premise. Mirabai Starr speaks to this beautifully with, “Be bold. Be humble. Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away.” Another soul that feels as I do!

 

Never second-guess your path. It is unique to you and therefore requires no further scrutiny from others. Be bold yet humble, just as Ms. Starr states. Take chances, but ask questions of yourself. Face your fears and do so with a loving heart. Forging your own way does not require announcement or explanation. Quiet the voices and silence your mind. Trust in your ability to discern the truth from all else. Take as many detours as needed, approaching all misfortune with patience and love. Find your way home.

 

Waypoints

Waypoints

 

“Most people are on the world, not in it– having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them– undiffused separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. ”

― John Muir

 

The time is quickly approaching, I can feel it. The time in which I have the choice to remain frozen on the banks of life or move forward with the river as it ambles along to the next waypoint. These waypoints are deeply marked on the map of my life. In hindsight they jump off the page; moments in which I stayed in the wrong relationship, raised my beautiful children, decided I was not smart enough for that job, went back to get my masters degree or stayed in an unfulfilling job. All very clear in the rear view mirror. My gypsy spirit has either beckoned me down an unfamiliar path or held me in place with a knowing that the time to move along was not at hand. If pressed, I would have to say that I have experienced more beckoning than holding, so much so I am getting a bit tired of the unrest. Tired of the risks, the uncertainty and the constant wading into the unknown.

 

How do I know change is looming? It announces itself with a specific feeling of agitation, a sensation of being undone ever so slightly. The rhythm of my day seems off and I begin to accept a certain level of disconnect with all around me. I sometimes think this is akin to a long goodbye, a gift that allows me to move on to the next chapter without much consternation. On the other hand this disconnect can be off putting. I wonder if it blurs my view of what is really happening, clouding my better judgment.

 

In moments such as these, I call upon my intuition. This requires a trust of self that has been earned one mistake at a time. Life can be treacherous, a virtual landmine of decisions that can set one off in the wrong direction indefinitely. It is in the ability to redirect oneself that strength is earned. A strength in knowing all will be well no matter the circumstance.

 

It takes great courage to break with one’s past history and stand alone.”

-Marion Woodman

 

We are never only our past mistakes but a combination of moments that have ushered us to present. My map is filled with waypoints, some I wish to forget and others that brought me great joy. What I can say with clarity is that I have explored, taken risks and moved off the banks of the river more than once. In some instances I nearly drowned, but in others I floated to the surface and enjoyed the easy ride down the river. In moments of drowning, I thankfully found a gentle strength that has remained. I know I can swim. Knowing this gives me courage to speak with my heart and find joy in all instances.

 

Trust in self is paramount. With resolve I can dream big, plan for the future and even face down failure with no harsh expectations. This does not mean that by taking risks I am fearless, on the contrary I am scared every single time. Jumping from one waypoint to the next is uncomfortable at best. It requires strength of character and a commitment to not look back, at least not for long. Yes, I am tired and this uncertainty is like an old friend I no longer want to speak with. What is clear is that I have more waypoints ahead. The journey is not over for me and I must find peace in the process. I understand standing on the banks is no longer an option. I am fast approaching the last chapter of my life and the time to move along is always now. While I long for a gentle swim down a lazy river, I will surely experience more rough waters along the way. I trust in my ability to weather the storm, ride the waves and identify my next adventure as it comes into view.

 

Find Your Song

Find Your Song

Can you sing a song to greet the sun,

Can you cheerily tackle the work to be done,

Can you vision it finished when only begun,

Can you sing a song?

 

Can you sing a song when the day’s half through,

When even the thought of the rest wearies you,

With so little done and so much to do,

Can you sing a song?

 

Can you sing a song at the close of the day,

When weary and tired, the work’s put away,

With the joy that it’s done the best of the pay,

Can you sing a song?

-Joseph Morris

 

Having passed the fall equinox, the days are becoming shorter and the darkness of winter fast approaches. In addition to seasonal change, recent chaotic world events have left me feeling the approach of this darkness heavily. I wonder why evil exists in this world and why so many suffer. I ponder the fragility of life and that this one precious life can be taken anytime in the most senseless of ways.  In the midst of my inner turmoil, I try to make every effort to focus on the light rather than allowing darker energy to fester thereby clouding my every thought and action. Sometimes I see this light more directly and can embrace this sensation wholeheartedly. In other cases, I put forth great intention to recognize good when all I see and hear is so unforgiving.

 

It is difficult to soar with little motivation to lift the voice, feel the spirit and sit in gladness. Freeing my voice requires a commitment to self. I refuse to allow opinions, heinous actions, physical limitations or even my own negative self-talk to bring me down. I choose love. I make the decision each and every day to let my voice sing just as Joseph Morris states by posing the question, “Can you sing a song?This choice is never one made from naïveté but rather with a loving resistance to the darker elements.

 

We are all fighting the good fight. Each one of us greets the new day, fighting the same battles from before. These battles may not be visible to others, but are challenging and painful nonetheless. For some it may be addictions, for others an illness, procrastination or even self-doubt. All are shades of darkness in an otherwise beautiful world filled with so much loving kindness.

 

Today, on the eve of a powerful full moon, turn off the news, silence the mind and take a few moments to feel the light, the inherent goodness of mankind. Don’t let the darkness consume you. Listen to music, dance with abandon and hug those that you love. Choose to lean into radiating light that brightly projects the inter-connectivity of all and embrace hope for what is left to come. Find your song and sing it beautifully.

 

 

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow–

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream;

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone?

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand–

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep–while I weep! O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave?

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream?

 

Many times, I have considered the possibility that my view of the world is nothing more than a reflection, a shade of supposed truths that I hold. What if the real truth is one that I do not see and instead find myself in a familiar comfort of a false projection? This thought tends to percolate at times in which I feel completely out of step with the rest of the world. Times when I find nothing in common with those around me; those spending their days gaining wealth, prestige, stature or power. Times when I see people suffering with no one stopping to assist, times when I witness hate and anger and wonder why these emotions still exist in an intelligent world. Times when I am completely overwhelmed by the daily grind of life finding little joy in the mediocrity of the process.

 

Long an Edgar Allan Poe fan, A Dream within a Dream touches on the deeper questions of existence and serves as a perfect example of the exceptional metaphor Poe was known for. None strike a chord more directly than the following passage:

 

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand–

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

 

The repetition of daily life, as represented by Poe’s surf-tormented shore, can be mind numbing at times. We get up each day, go to our jobs and come home to families only to begin anew over and over again. Where in this rhythm do we take time for introspection, creativity and even love? I understand that much of this journey is finding grace in living the mundane in both a loving and gentle manner. To this end, I do not need to be lectured on the importance of accepting even the smallest of tasks with pride and I certainly do not need to hear that life has some deep and unknown purpose beyond the daily grind. I know these things to be true.

 

I simply feel as if the grains of sand are slipping through my fingers soon to be gone with both the wind and waves of time. Nothing is permanent, not me and not even this world. This begs the question, where does energy go if all that we know is not what we believe it to be? When we transition and our soul is set free, do we become a part of the larger universe? Do we become one with all that is and ever was? Does the footprint of our human life persist or become lost as with sand to surf. So many questions. Just because I am comfortable living in the questions does not mean that I do not ask them repeatedly. It is okay to question things by constantly examining the status quo. I alone am accountable for the end result of my journey. It is for this reason that others opinions mean very little to me. I take full responsibility for my beliefs and no organized practice or tribal unit can absolve me from this responsibility. The problem becomes when I get caught in the cycle of constant questioning, never stopping to just be. In these moments, I am perpetually stuck in a holding pattern of evaluation.

 

The human condition is limiting and it becomes all too easy to get caught up in the mundane. Our job is to find more moments in which we free ourselves from these limitations and feel the energy of the universe as best as we can. Poe speaks to the agony of holding on to something that is not ours to be held. Our lives and this world are all impermanent and no amount of holding will change this fact.  I plan to take more moments this year of letting go, letting go of all the limitations that I place on myself, that others place upon me and the constant need for more. I pledge to let go of the “less than” mentality and accept myself as fully as I can “as is”. I pledge to do this before it is too late and sand has slipped through my fingers, taken back by the ocean from whence it came.

 

Creative Energy and the Feminine

Creative Energy and the Feminine

 

“I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you. In the process of healing, this is one of the huge things that I have discovered. People recognized the energy coming to meet them. When they opened to another energy, a love, a divine love, came through to meet them. That is what is known as grace. We all sing about amazing grace. It is a gift. I think that it comes through the work that we do. For some people, it can come out of the blue, but I know that in my own situation, the grace came through incredible vigilance.”

Marion Woodman

 

Surrender, easier in concept than practice. Surrender implies weakness, a giving in that comes from a lack of resolve. This implication could not be further from the truth. Surrender is an action of incredible strength. One that takes much courage and a facing down of fears that otherwise go unchallenged. As a woman, I have spent much of my adult life learning about this strength firsthand. I have experienced a complete missing of the mark in this regard and the intervention of spirit at these junctures. While terrifying, this collision of fear and spirit can be spectacular in every sense of the word.

 

The feminine spirit personifies receiving and all of the nuances required to bend but not break. Women are expected from a very early age to be soft spoken and service orientated. As women age, the Divine spirit continues to burn and will do so until set free by choice or circumstance. For some women this fire is set free much earlier than others, but timing is of no real consequence. What does matter is that this feminine energy ultimately finds it way into the light and serves as a beacon for other women not quite ready to shine.

 

As one that has always relished the role of mother, I have towed this line with practiced accuracy. I am one that enjoys every aspect of nurturing another life. It feeds my maternal instinct. Conversely, I have a creative fire that burns hot beneath the surface. I abhor being told how to express this creativity, especially when outside influences unwittingly attempt to cool this heat. My journey with the written word began in elementary school, but it took four decades before I greeted my feminine spirit with love and published this blog. I had already raised my children, suffered a difficult relationship and lived the better part of a very raw and real life. Life had gotten in the way and my creative spirit had suffered until words set me free.

 

“Rage and bitterness do not foster femininity. They harden the heart and make the body sick.”

Marion Woodman

 

Unexpressed creative energy can manifest as rage, anger and depression. If I had never picked up a pen again, my life would certainly be a wandering from point to point with no compass, perennially lost with a heart sealed so tightly nothing could permeate. I have only grace to thank for my current situation. With copious amounts of grace, I have managed to find myself in a new space, feeling spirit in ways that amuse, mystify and make whole my entire being. I am so very thankful for this discovery.

 

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”

― Thomas Merton

 

By embracing this Divine feminine completely, I am now able to explore other areas of my life without fear of retribution or even failure. Do I wish to stay in my current profession? What qualities do I value in another? How do I envision my life moving forward? I can dream boldly without the voice of fear drowning out my thoughts. I give myself permission to fall short while learning to shine as brightly as possible. This evolution is all a part of the process of discovery. It requires the shedding of an uncomfortable skin layer upon layer until the very core of self is revealed. No more hiding, no more false representations, just me.

 

I am most in companion with my Divine feminine when I quiet the noise around me, becoming apart of the natural world once again. I purposefully let go, surrender to this change of pace without persecution. It is only in this quiet space that my creative energy begins to flow. It is in trying to attain this flow that I most often fall short. Surrender is just that, a letting go of the outcome. I must accept that I may have nothing of extrinsic value to say. It must be enough that I have put it down on paper thereby releasing it from the jagged corners of my soul. This writing in some ways is selfishly for me as I continue to allow grace to have its way with me, as it will. Only in this way can I find my way home.

 

The Guest House

The Guest House

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi

 

I like to think of myself as perennially optimistic. I try my best to see the positive in all things, the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if doubts persist, I rarely speak them. My long held belief is that by speaking positively, words will become a reality. The woe is me attitude is not welcome in my home and I try my very best to lead by example. It is for all of these reasons and more that when I do have days with shades of sadness, I have trouble knowing how to process these feelings.

 

Be it the celestial activity of the past month with a lunar eclipse, mercury retrograde and a solar eclipse, the change in my living situation or that pesky perimenopause that makes every day an experience, I am left slighty off balance.  Coupled with my constant ongoing struggle with MS, this multitude of occurrences has me tired. I am frustrated by the way my body defies me even after treating it with the utmost of care. I eat better than most people, exercise regularly, sleep eight hours a night and do my level best to manage stress. It is always a complete shock after having done all of this work, waking up day after day to a body that is tired.

 

It is on days such as these that I ponder why I have been given this lot in life. I work hard and give my job and family my best. Why am I constantly being taught the lesson of grace, humility and acceptance? Haven’t I been through enough already to have earned some collateral in the wisdom bank? Realizing the whininess of my internal dialogue, I chastise myself for complaining and am constantly disappointed in my frustration, wondering why I entertain such thoughts rather than getting on with my day, head held high.

 

Looking for solace,  I often turn to the written word for inspiration. I look for a way to find compassion, patience in my shortcomings and a space to allow moments of sadness and grief. The truth is that it is hard having a chronic illness. Sure, I can buck up and do my best to forget, except for when I can’t. Some days I just want to curl up into a ball and be sad. I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to live with an illness that makes every single task a challenge, even one as simple as getting out of bed. I try to never take ownership over these emotions but choose to gently observe until they move along. In the morning I may be feeling deep saddness and by the afternoon it has passed and I am optimistic once again. This does not make me overly sensitive or unstable, this makes me human.

 

As Rumi speaks to with The Guest House, I too am thankful for the ability to experience a rainbow of emotions. He says, “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent, as a guide from beyond”.  My days of sadness, weakness or quiet reflection teach me more about myself than a constant state of  perennial optimism. I freely swim in the dark depths of self making it that much more beautiful upon returning to the light. I appreciate my family, friends, my ability to walk, read, listen and love; all things that are never guaranteed. Never be afraid of appearing human, it is in these very human moments that strength, courage and acceptance is won.

 

Feel the Universe

Feel the Universe

 

“This magnificent refuge is inside you.

Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.

Step around the poisonous vipers that slither at your feet, attempting to throw you off your course.

Be bold. Be humble.

Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you.

Ask no permission from the authorities.

Slip away.

Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.”

― Mirabai Starr, The Interior Castle

 

Can you relate too feeling you are not living as fully as you could? Having a constant nagging feeling, as if something more is necessary to live authentically? Personally, I don’t think I can recall a time when I did not have these feelings in one form or another. Never one to feel a part of a group, I am a drifter plagued with feelings of loneliness and a specific separateness from all those around me. This feeling creates a constant sense of melancholy, a sense that something is amiss.

 

Mirabai Starr speaks so beautifully to this with, “Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.” These words bring tears to my eyes. Being well familiar with stillness of the mind, I suffer from a permanent homesickness for this still place that has no geographic identity. The place within that contains all that is and all that will ever be. When closing my eyes and tapping into this energetic freeway, I experience an overwhelming feeling of calm, as if all my nerve endings have been suddenly soothed by the connection.

 

Observing me when I’m in this place must appear strange to others. It is not mediation, a practice that I do not particularly care for. Rather, it is a visceral connection to the energy of the universe, that which is the creator and the created.  A look of complete surrender and abandon appears on my face. For a few moments all of the shadows of this world are lit up by the light of eternity. Quite spectacular.

 

I make every attempt to take a few moments each day to slip into this space. I try to let these moments go unnoticed as to not cause concern or worry to those around me. They may or may not understand my practice and this is never a consideration for me. Each person has their own rhythm of discovery and I am in no place to judge the speed of another. In this same vein, it is important that others do not judge or raise an eyebrow to my experience. I have no other compass to guide me except this space and the light. It provides clarity, direction and serenity in a world that has very little patience.

 

Take a few moments today and “Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway…….Slip away”. Let the universe speak to you and communicate back all of your loneliness, trepidation, fear and joy. Let your internal dialogue flourish and ignore the external voices that nip at your heel. Be yourself, feel your energy flowing and remember that your heart speaks in every moment; you just need to tune into the right channel and listen.

 

Quiet Now…Listen

Quiet Now…Listen

 

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

I have felt under a microscope of late. This may be some of my own doing, but it is unsettling nonetheless. My friends, my family, my coworkers, everyone seems to have an opinion for me, albeit unsolicited. Receiving unsolicited “feedback” can be unnerving, especially when purposefully making a decision to not extend the same to others. I may be going about my life in a manner that is unique to those that I love, but that does not make it strange, wrong or in need of constant correction.

 

Listening as an act of love has become a lost art. It is rare to stumble across a soul that happily listens to another’s ideas, theories or troubles without feeling the need to offer opinions. I simply have never understood the need for others to force an ideology or otherwise and find it difficult to be around people who speak rather than listen. I am everything, yet I am nothing, drifting in and out of a collage of ideas. Nothing is taken but everything is observed. It is only with constant observation and introspection that I begin to see clear lines in place of blurred boundaries.

 

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”

― Thomas Merton

 

It is also imperative to listen to oneself. I have many ideas of my own of which I hold tight. I rarely share all that I am even with those that I am closest too. There exists a constant discomfort that by revealing all, I will frighten away loved ones with my utopian ideas.  Similarly, I have a constant fear of losing myself in the energy of another. When deeply listening, I often become an unlikely participant in the others goals. The sharing of personal goals is often a covert invitation of participation. While honored to be included, I am constantly vigilant that my dreams do not get lost or rewritten inside the vortex of this exchange.  Having made this mistake far too many times in the past, I am protective of my own imaginative endeavors. By privately holding new ideas, I have time to come to terms with how I might bring them to fruition, irrespective of others opinions. I choose to listen intently to myself in the quite space of uninterrupted thought.

 

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Listening in all forms is an act of compassion, much different from criticism. Excessive criticism, even of self, will not toughen one up as many of our parents’ generation thought. Excessive criticism is just that, excessive. It has no place in a compassionate relationship. I am very sensitive to criticism and as such find that when my shields are up, I tend to fall back into criticism as a defense. It is a pattern learned from childhood and one that I am not proud of. Never one to yell, this criticism can be muted, but still hurtful and definitely not compassionate. I see others fall prey to this same pattern at work and can now recognize that somewhere they learned the behavior and have not yet mastered self-compassion. We all carry with us learned behaviors that do not serve well. It is our responsibility and life lesson to recognize these habits and actively work to disarm them.

 

I feel the energy becoming quietly agitated of late, ushering in a time of intense work and thoughtful and compassionate listening. With so many possibilities on the horizon, it is time to listen and slowly come to a place of decision and or action. Nothing need be rushed. My daily commitment is that I am gentle with myself during this process. I actively choose to listen, feel the shift of energy, see the Divine signs and hear my calling. Change is brewing just as with the seasons. The darkness of winter is looming on the horizon with the light airy feeling of summer fleeting. Take a moment and set some intentions, some aspirations and internalize them. Give seed to an idea that will blossom in the spring given some deep listening, compassion and patience. Dream.