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Category: Musings of a Mystic

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.

 

Fragile-Handle with Care

Fragile-Handle with Care

A Song of Living

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.

I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.

My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,

I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.

I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.

I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.

I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.

As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Amelia Burr

1878-1968

We are such fragile creatures. The gentleness of the human disposition is often shrouded in a rigid shield used to navigate a somewhat unforgiving world. Underneath all of this protective gear we are naturally soft, exuding light and love. I feel this light from others even when I do not want to, inspiring instant connection regardless of outside packaging. I do not care what religion, political affiliation or race you are. I only care what softness you hide inside and how I might see it better. I question how many layers have been sewn in order to function and how long it will take for me to unlock these layers witnessing the brilliance of a soul. I have little time for those that hide indefinitely under false pretense. I want to know the real person and deeply so.

As one that walks this edge every day, I tend to wear my softness on my sleeve. I cry, laugh and become sullen at the most inopportune times. Labeled sensitive as a child, I was told to grow a stiff upper lip, toughen up and not be so sensitive. This struggle persisted and is one that I grapple with even today.  I have found the only way I can manage interacting with others is by putting up a few walls. If I hold hearts too closely, I am ineffective as a leader in becoming sensitized to the lion’s share of their pain. Once again, I find myself walking the edge. I find ways to be receptive while at the same time creating some necessary distance. The whole charade can be exhausting and one in which I never relish the process.

 

My soul is full of whispered song;

My blindness is my sight;

The shadows that I feared so long

Are all alive with light.

Alice Cary

1820-1871

 

In addition to the energetic qualities each of us exhibit, we inhabit a delicate disposition and our physical bodies often fail us. Recently, after having some unpleasant side effects from a medication, I found myself feeling my fragility more than I liked. Having no illusions as to the longevity of this body, I am well aware that I am on the backside of midlife and am heading into the next chapter of my life. You will not find me wishing to be twenty; I welcome the wisdom that only travels with age and experience. I aspire to remain functional for as long as I am afforded and do all within my power to facilitate this. It is only when I have done all that I can to improve my environment, but still find myself falling short, that I get frustrated.

In moments such as these I call upon my faith and remember that I too am fragile. I try to honor this vulnerability and treat myself with as much empathy as I would another. On days in which I am far less than perfect, which is every day, I try to be gentle with myself. I cradle my budding and precious soul as I would a beautiful piece of stained glass forged by multiple life experiences in the heat of living a full life. After all, we are all just shards of glass reflecting our light out into a world made of rocks and stones.

 

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

― Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

It is with this revelation that I find we should all have a “Fragile, Handle with Care” sign worn daily. This fragility warrants gentle handling in all instances, one crack and we become weak and prone to breakage. I would venture to say that we all have moments in our life in which we are in danger of being shattered. Amanda Burr’s poem, A Song of Living speaks to this with, “I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run. I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.” We are all unfinished in some way, jagged pieces and all.

Simply by showing up,  we forge these broken pieces into a beautiful and loving piece of art. We will never be perfect and should never ascribe to this paradigm. We can only be the best version of ourselves each new day, learning and growing as we go.  I have known some older and much wiser people whose souls shine as brightly as the sun. They have lived into the truest version of self and their brightness is more beautiful than the greatest works of art.

Know that all glass breaks, it is only just a matter of time. When your fragile pieces become damaged, take heart in the fact that you can forge them back together with love and light. It takes much time and reflection to pick up all of the pieces and lovingly create a new version of self. Enjoy the process, look to each day as a creative expression of self, built upon newfound wisdom and the oldest of scars. Use every experience to reinvent yourself shining more brightly with each attempt. Slowly, over time, you too will shine like a thousand stars in the night sky.

The Sacred Rose

The Sacred Rose

Just as the rose consists of many petals held together, so the person who attains to the unfoldment of the soul begins to show many different qualities. The qualities emit fragrance in the form of a spiritual personality. The rose  has a beautiful structure, and the personality which proves the unfoldment  of the soul has also a fine structure, in manner, in dealing with others,  in speech, in action. The atmosphere of a spiritual being pervades the air like the perfume of a rose.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

Life can be limiting at times. Despite these limitations, I have the deeply held desire to unfold completely by sharing my light even when I feel constricted in the process.  My light, my spirit longs for the freedom of eternity. This journey of a lifetime can be difficult, the  pathway strewn with thorns. One is meant to walk this path with the intention to become more like a rose in its infinite perfection, greeting each new day with a continued commitment to purity of the heart.

This journey requires a freeing from the entanglements of a thorny and messy life. Rilke speaks to this unfolding of the soul in the opening poem of  “Unfolding”. His words serve as a powerful metaphor for a spiritual journey and one that has led to much introspection and participation on my part.

Reflecting on the beautiful imagery of Rilke’s poem, I cannot help but see associations in my own life. My favorite flower growing up was never the rose. Roses were far too perfect and classic for my taste. Draw to lilacs and lilies, I feel in love with their elegant yet simple aesthetic. My home had a gorgeous lilac bush right behind it. The vibrant purple color and seductive smell wafted into the house cementing the sensation of these flowers into my senses. My first memory of roses was as a dancer. I received bouquets of roses after performances; big beautiful and colorful roses that intimidated me with their boldness. I always felt undeserving of this grand gesture and found the whole experience a bit over the top for my liking.

As a newly married young woman, I rarely received flowers from my husband. He didn’t understand or enjoy the practice of gifting, stating it was a commercial enterprise and one he refused to participate in. I witnessed the many times my father bought roses for my mother even into their fifth decade of marriage and was sustained by this display of everlasting love, something I was sure I would never have. All the while I had begun the journey of spiritual awakening by taking tentative steps toward the unfolding of self. It was a rocky time in which metaphorical thorns pricked at me constantly reminding me of my own imperfections and mortality.

 

“Often the prickly thorn produces tender roses.”

–  Ovid

 

Within the darkest of days, one can always find some small ray of light. During this rocky time I gave birth to my children, rediscovered a love for education and cherished the many days spent dancing in the studio. The thorns irritated only when I choose to step off the path, distracted by my limitations. These limitations seemed to abound; a long term marriage in which I was not valued, silencing my voice while allowing others to speak for me and shrinking away from my inner light. I was tired, frustrated, sick and disillusioned. Finally, in a moment of severe distress, I was forced to evaluate everything leading to a deeply uncomfortable unfolding. Extremely vulnerable, I was forced to break down walls I had built over many years in order to navigate my unhappy life. Fearful yet determined, I choose not to look back and asked my guides to help me “see” which direction was meant for me. I did not trust my inner voice, at least not yet.

In this intense moment of unfolding, I recognized and honored that young girl inside who loved to write, dance,  sit in the grass while making dandelion chains and was a truly free spirit. Gentle-hearted by nature, the hard exterior I had worn for so long was now ill fitted to my new sensibility. I began to recognize that I was in fact a beautiful, intelligent, creative and loving soul. No amount of thorns could take that from me unless I choose to give it. Light was shining through the cracks in my armor ushering in a necessary yet chaotic fracturing of self. My old self that had moved about the world hidden and invisible, as well as my true self that was free to express all the light and beauty within. Each part of this fractured self was important to my wholeness. Nothing exists without a balance and as such, we are nothing without having visited our shadow and making peace with it. I continue to use light and spirit as my guide and have not looked back since.

I cannot help but be mystified by spirit. In shining my light outward I found another soul, one that gently tended roses out in the desert. Having been witness to the beauty he nurtured, in times of unimaginable grief, I can only say that when souls speak to one another it transcends all else.  I am astounded that our lives have intersected at this point, one blooming rose calling to another. A call finally heard and answered.

                                 “Little flower, but if I could understand what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.”

–  Tennyson

 

Today, I still encounter thorns on my path but they are far and few between. I am a trembling young bud continuing to bloom completely into eternal life. Each day requires a rejection of fear and a conscious acceptance of love and the unknown. As I continue to unfold, I find the thorns less piercing, more manageable and the blossoms breathtaking. When I refuse to hide who I am, I  find the limitations less constricting. They have loosened their grip and I can finally breathe. I know complete perfection is unattainable and just as each bloom is unique so too am I. With this I allow myself to just be and bloom into the unique and beautiful soul that I am called to be.

 

   

The Space Between

The Space Between

Oh Beloved,

take me.

Liberate my soul.

Fill me with your love and

release me from the two worlds.

If I set my heart on anything but you

let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,

take away what I want.

Take away what I do.

Take away what I need.

Take away everything

that takes me from you.

-Rumi

 

I comfortably reside in the space between, constantly vacillating between two ends of a spectrum. The space in which night meets day, darkness greets light and in which ideas percolate like a strong cup of coffee. This space is calm, no unnecessary posturing. Ideas bounce off the boundaries as if molecules of a much larger universe. Nothing is claimed but all is examined. It is a space of introspection and deep thought, a place I like to stay in until ushered out by the demands of the world.

 

If asked what my favorite color, book, food or movie is, I have no answer. It is not that I don’t harbor strong opinions, because I do. Nothing floats up to the surface from this between without great introspection and review. I prefer to let things simmer, mulling over the merits of all positions and the reasons why people hold the beliefs they do. Rumi speaks to this with “Fill me with your love and, release me from the two worlds, If I set my heart on anything but you, let fire burn me from inside.” I wish to be released from the world of right and wrong and black and white. I wish to live in the muted world of gray. I wish to be left alone with an uncluttered brain, free to think and write without the noise of others constant chatter about things that mean very little to me.

 

“When you start to notice the mystical, the mystical will start to notice you.”

― Dacha Avelin

 

Because of these desires, I am often seen as wishy-washy. On the contrary, I have a constant internal dialogue going at all times. I am able to see all sides of an argument, the only exception being when an idea goes against my core beliefs. If this should happen, God be with you. I can be very stubborn and disagreeable about the few things that I hold dear.

 

All of this makes me question what really makes something wrong as opposed to right? Obviously, some values are clear and non negotiable. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness and so on and so forth. I don’t think many would argue the merits of the Golden Rule. Rather, it is in all other instances, that I vacillate. On a thousand fronts whether it be tattoos, religion, reading material/genre, intimacy or political ideas. I stand in the middle and enjoy a panoramic view of the world discussion.

 

Why then is this space foreign to so many? Would it not be a better world if everyone dwelled closer to the middle rather than the extreme? We are all fragile souls having a very imperfect and human experience. It can be a painful experience when not given breath and space to live an examined life. We require this space to spread our wings and learn how to fly, each in our own unique and beautiful way. The next time you are pressed for an opinion or pulled into a debate, move gently and quietly away from the noise. Do not make a scene; do not hurt the other person. Retreat into the space between and into the calm and serene waters of understanding, faith, hope and love.

 

Messages from Spirit

Messages from Spirit

 

Spirit; It moves within, around and beyond. I feel it most intensely when I relax my body and go to that space, the bridge between this place and the next. The heaviness of gravity lifts if only for a moment and I am free. I love the tranquility and crave the calmness of this space, especially during my daily wade into the sea of uncertainty.  I know that soon enough I will reside here and be free from earthly restrictions. I don’t really mind what others think or what definitions they place.  I do not require specifics…..I just know.

Of late, I have been receiving numerous messages from this space and have taken quiet notice. I have become far too aware over the years to let these messages go unnoticed and instead make the conscience decision to trust this voice without hesitation. I experience these messages in many forms: be it the white butterflies that are representative of my grandmother’s wisdom, the visceral moments of universal connection representing spirit or in vivid dreams that are far too telling to be happenstance.

 

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau

 

I had one such dream last night that had me pondering its meaning well into the morning.  Having often dreamt of one particular animal my entire life,  I now view this animal as a guide that only makes an appearance during times of great transformation or emotional wrangling. Similarly, water in my dreams always serves as a spiritual medium for transformation. Last night’s dream had components of both and clearly sent the message that my deep subconscious is harboring fears.  Fearful of new and deep emotions that I have become acquainted with, yet knowing it is precisely these feelings that I require most for growth. 

I accept that these messages are Divine and meant specifically for me, but still wonder what it all means?  My mind circles back and forth between current situations, what aspects are troubling me and what decisions I am wavering on. I often fall back on the metaphor of a candy store to frame this give and take. Walking by this store and looking in the window, one may find it impossible to resist the sweets within. If I choose to enter the store and gorge on the sweets, I will most certainly suffer for this transgression.  If I call upon my will power, I can continue on my way knowing that I have averted a sugar binge. We are all faced with this metaphorical candy store window in many ways. The easiest route is represented by the immediate satisfaction found when entering the store and eating all the sweets.  For me, the spiritual way forward will undoubtedly be looking at the sweets but choosing to continue down the sidewalk into the unknown.

 

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha

 

Messages are as individual and unique as each one of us. One person may look at the sky and see a cloud while another may take away a deeper meaning from viewing this very same sky. The balance for me lies in learning to disregard the outside noise and trust my inner voice. The very same voice that speaks through spirit and knows me better than I know myself. A hallmark of true wisdom is seen in one that recognizes and acts upon this voice more often than not. I continue to aspire to be wise by listening to my spirit when it speaks.

Loving and Letting Go

Loving and Letting Go

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.

Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls

We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free

Maya Angelou

 

Love and vulnerability, forever bound in a dance of both holding and letting go. It is within this dance that we live, learn and grow, gaining valuable life experience along the way. Loving another is one of the first emotions we experience when looking into our mother’s eyes shortly after entering this world. This love affair with connection continues until we are ready to leave this place, fully spent from a life well lived. Love exists in all types of relationships: friends, siblings, parents, partners and extended family. In fact I would argue that love is the primary emotion in most instances.

Loving another does not mean giving free license for one to do as they will with your heart. On the contrary, loving another may mean doing so from a distance. In some cases loving another may simply be living with the intention not to dislike them and committing to this daily. Those that have experienced abusive relationships will understand this type of love. By holding on to hate for the person that did harm, it only further gives strength and veracity to the negativity.  By loving and letting go, one frees themselves from the vicious cycle of bitterness.

 

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go”

-Herman Hesse

 

 

All much easier than it sounds you are probably saying. This exemplifies the difficult soul work that we are all called to do. Dr Maya Angelou speaks so clearly about this task with, “old memories of pleasure, ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear, from our souls.” We all bear scars from past vulnerabilities that leave us exposed and raw. The fear of future pain can be paralyzing. We are in a sense “chaining our souls” from the experience that it requires for growth.  In this state the energy is not flowing but becomes stagnant. The effect of blocked energy on the body is profound.  It is not beyond the realm of possibilities to see illness in one that is caught in this state.  

As tentative as a child, one must take small steps to open their heart again and again. This requires looking fear in the face and refusing to back down. It is standing on the very edge of the shadows and choosing instead to focus on the light. It is hearing these words, “And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free” and upon hearing them allowing the soul freedom to be open and feel completely once again.

 

“The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.”

Maya Angelou

 

 

As a measured person, my challenge is to constantly check myself when the voices of doubt and fear become loud. I must learn to comfortably walk the space between honoring my intuition and turning away from the fear. This balance feels precarious at times and intimidating. It is only when I chose to let go that I find the most peace in the process. It is in these moments that I am the most clear of my direction. Without the haze of excessive thinking I settle more readily into the unknown with an open heart and mind.

The lesson for me continues to be letting go of the end result in all instances, including when choosing to love another. With adult children on the move and new relationships blossoming, this message could not be timelier. I am thankful for the divine spirit holding me up when I am not able to. I am never alone in my ventures and am at rest knowing that I will be okay and well supported no matter what the outcome.

 

Slowly

Slowly

 

Slowly

Walking out of the darkness, shrouded in a specific heaviness

I see rays of light so bright in their intensity

Heat sears my face and a fullness grows in my heart

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

My back guards against all misdeeds

Eyes gazing towards absolution

Comfort in the mystery, seeded in the unknown

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

With each passing day I make some progress

Inching closer to everything

Leaving behind nothing but my shadow

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

I begin to shed layer upon layer

Seeking a blissful lightness

Butterfly wings emerging from a cocoon

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Sadness, sickness, loneliness and fear

Celebration, joy, tenderness and togetherness.

Every emotion under my skin makes an appearance

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Days change, seasons change, people in my life change

I continue to walk forward, bit by bit

Deliberately, thoughtfully, towards only myself

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

At first I resist, frightened and scared

Now I press forward for me, no one else

Willingly, excited with possibilities

One foot in front of the other, slowly

 

Time passes, my heart beats with anticipation

Living each adventure as it comes and goes

Slowly, I surrender to the path and allow hope to sing

Peacefully, I take yet another step and take flight.

-Lavinia Busch

 

 

Why is it that the answers I seek always seem elusive?  In practice, the old adage one step forward, two steps back leaves me disillusioned and lost. To this end, I had a deeply emotional experience while walking a few days ago. Writing poetic verse in my head with each step, I simply could not stop the words and emotions from pouring out.  After having written a full piece and walking over five miles, I cried.  Not bitter tears of sadness but tears of a profound letting go.

 

Having an experience such as this, I often question what in my personal life may be out of sorts. Troubles I have pushed down into the depths of my psyche, afraid of what a closer analysis might reveal. I am also aware that it takes a combination of events to ruffle my feathers rather than just one. I may have personal things on my mind, professional matters that are pressing and family dynamics that are stressful.  It is never just as simple as one thing; I am far too complex for that.

 

Walking and writing, I was reminded that life is not a marathon but a sprint.  Anything that is troubling me will find its way to resolution. Whether a resolution of my liking or not, it will come nonetheless.  I need not always have the answers. On this particular day, walking up one of my favorite hills, I once again made the decision to let go and resigned myself to living in and accepting the unknown.  My tears were tears of relief, fear and anticipation welcoming the space between conflict and resolution, doubt and understanding, an uncomfortable place to be sure. In my case, discomfort is always a precursor to growth. Like it or not this has always proven to be true.

 

“It has taken me quite a few years to realize the fact that most of the thoughts in my head are not necessary.”

― Bert McCoy

 

I inherently know that my life will end.  Upon the moment of my death, I may find myself still befuddled and bewildered, caught in that space between.  With this knowledge, I alone am left with the choice to step off the treadmill of indecision and soar. The process of enlightenment can be laboriously slow. Each life event comes with a specific lesson and opportunity for growth. Some of these lessons arrive quietly without much notice while others are abrupt and painful in the unfolding. The only guarantee is that the lessons will continue to present, even when I have had enough and think I cannot bear another.

 

That day on the hill, I found a momentary sense of calm and serenity. Even though life is forever proving the security I crave to be elusive, I am okay. I know I will persist, carry on and live my life to the best of my ability. Everything around me may continue to swirl and flex but I can stand in the middle of this vortex and free myself from the outcome.  I can create a steady and secure environment regardless of what outside forces move against me and become stronger for having done so. With this momentary enlightenment, taking a deep and soulful breath, I smiled. Feeling the wind on my face, the sun shining down, I allowed my mind to be still. I reveled in this stillness, a peaceful surrender to all that is unknown and may remain so. Continuing to live in the mystery is one of my greatest challenges and at the same time a beautiful gift.

 

Living An Unguarded Life

Living An Unguarded Life

 

Edging towards my 50th birthday, I have become captivated by the life stories of others, the tapestry of life events that have lead them to the place in which they inhabit. No single person reaches the mid-century mark without a few scars, myself included. Beyond the stories of joy, grief, heartbreak, strength, fear and scarcity one sees the consistent mark of resilience that ushers in a fierce strength. One way in which resilience can be expressed is in living an unguarded life, even after having been hurt many times over.

Being unguarded in practice is opening my heart and soul to a new life experience, exposing all that has shaped me through the years and doing so unafraid with eyes wide open. One might say this is foolhardy and that diving into life without hesitation is a recipe for disaster. This may be so, but for someone like myself, I am simply not capable of living completely on the edge. I abide by so many restrictions and rules of engagement that letting my guard down is not as extreme as it may sound.

 

The soul should always stand ajar.  Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

— Emily Dickinson

 

I claim ownership of a multitude of walls, one for each circumstance that gives me pause and it takes a great level of comfort for me to emerge from behind this wall without some level of apprehension. Even with this being true, I chose to continually strive to be unguarded in most instances. My level of comfort with this exposure may be entirely different from another and that is okay. The goal lies in the attempt to stretch, becoming more open and authentic no matter how uncomfortable it feels.

 

Why change my way of navigating this world at this point in life? The answer is simple. I do not wish to live in a state of constriction anymore.  Just as a butterfly must emerge from its cocoon to fly, I too have a yearning to be free from all the self-imposed rules that I have lived by most of my life. The constant state of risk assessment, holding back when all I want to do is explode out of my shell and say “Here I am!” Living freely in this way will not quell the misgivings I have, but it will allow for more moments in which I chose to ignore these voices, let my guard down and experience things fully.

He who seeks happiness

By hurting those who seek happiness

Will never find happiness.

For your brother and sister are like you.

They want to be happy.

Never harm them.

And when you leave this life

You too will find happiness.

— Buddha

 

Being unguarded will sometimes result in painful new experiences and I accept that as a part of the process. Nothing worthwhile is easy, in fact it is often the most difficult way forward that is the path meant for me. Life is a terminal condition and if I am not learning something new about the world and myself each day, what am I doing? I have no interest in getting up in the morning only to have the same routine each and every day. While I do live a fairly structured life, I also thrive on new discoveries and experiences. The balance can be precarious at times, but at the same time exhilarating. Too much in one direction and I am no longer living in the balance.

 

Be unguarded, let your walls down. Trust that you are well protected and taken care of, embrace life with all of its wackiness and weirdness. Stop placing restrictions on yourself and learn to live in the space of joyful exuberance. Others may try to talk you back into your shell, fearful of what they see. These are not your fears, do not take what is not meant for you. Live as you chose with no apologies. At this point in life I have come to understand that the only way to allow my soul to fully experience life is to be as open, exposed and real as possible. Only in this way, will I continue to be the recipient of  life energy in a complete and unadulterated way.

 

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Pablo Neruda

 

It was not until I had my first child, my daughter, that I felt true unconditional love.  I subscribed to the idea of this type of love, but sadly my marriage was not representative of this ideal and even lacking in any semblance of kindness at times. Seeing my daughter look at me as if my eyes held many secrets, I was overcome with a deep and lasting love for this new and beautiful soul. In that moment, I realized that I would do anything to make her life easier and would provide comfort to her in all instances.  This same glorious experience was repeated after giving birth to my son three years later. Unconditional love is truly a powerful thing.

 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

-Rumi

 

These days, the word “love” is used very superfluously and one begins to wonder what it means to really love another.  Is it a emotion, an action, a tangible experience or is it a combination of all of the above? Pablo Neruda speaks to this in the first stanza of his poem One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII. He writes, “I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:I love you as one loves certain obscure things,secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”  These words represent how I experience unconditional love. I look beyond the typical and find myself connecting with something much more muted. The beauty of a rose or the feeling of fire are not paramount in my appraisal.  Love to me is best described as being “between the shadow and the soul.” The space deep within that can speak to another only a spiritual level. Between darkness and light rests the true self devoid of the masks used to disguise traits that are deemed less than desirable. When “seen” these are the parts of another that drive true unconditional love.

 

It is in the “seeing” of the other that one can say, Yes, I see the dusty corners of your soul and I still choose to show up each and every day and love you. That to me is representative of a greater love than just the physical. Love overlooks the bumpy and difficult road another may choose to travel and offers compassion and empathy during the journey. All will not always be well, that much is guaranteed. With that in mind, love is only true if extended during the most difficult of times.

 

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

— William Shakespeare

 

Finally, the line, “I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,except in this form in which I am not nor are you”  is beautifully stated. Unconditional love is in its truest sense a lack of separation from the beloved. It is an unspoken truth that both are a part of the same cloth, in tune with one another no matter the circumstance. I know no other way to love, and my children are well aware of this.  It takes quite a bit of upheaval to force me to lose sight of this truth. We as spiritual beings are nothing without the connections that bind us. Choosing to love another is one of the most intimate and soulful ways to forge these connections. At the end of my days, I want to be able to say that I loved deeply no matter the cost. That will have been a life well lived.