Monday, November 21, 2011

Thank you, Rumi

I have been experiencing this sensation lately where I feel continuously pulled between conflicting emotions. For someone who is pretty decisive, that can be incredibly frustrating. I imagine it's just as frustrating if you are the indecisive type too. There's been a lot happening in my world, and what happens in my world invariably impacts my heart. Just as I was feeling particularly fragile earlier today, a friend shared this beautiful quote that resonated with me so deeply:

‎God turns you from one feeling to another
And teaches you by means of opposites
So that you will have two wings to fly,
Not one. - Rumi

Thank you, Rumi, for casting a light of clarity on a seeming conundrum. I was really starting to struggle a bit with all the opposites that I'd been feeling, but struggle is always only a self-created construct. All I needed to do was create another attitude toward this sensation in order to experience it differently. This doesn't change the conflicting feelings nor does it materially change any outward circumstance. But it does have the ability to change the impact on my heart, and that means everything.

For a little more than a month now, between the end of a very meaningful romance and the beginning of a very challenging chapter with my mom, I have felt simultaneously more alone than ever, all while being touched to my core by the love and support showered on me from so many sources. I have stood in a room full of friends and literally felt as isolated as if I were standing alone on a cliff over the deepest ocean. I have been going about my day feeling happy, strong and focused, only to be randomly seized by this lonely, sad vice that snatches me out of nowhere. How can this be, I've asked? When the pain of loneliness strikes, immediately my higher consciousness kicks in with the reminder that I am so blessed to have an incredible support system, the most amazing "framily" who show up for me in such beautiful and at times unexpected ways. So how could I be so ungrateful as to wallow in loneliness, if even for fleeting moments? Then I delve deeper, and I ask why should I invalidate any of my feelings? Rather than dismissing them or judging myself for them, this is a time to explore, to get curious, to really understand what is prompting all of these seemingly disparate emotions.

In a gift from the Divine, Rumi comes along and sums it all up for me. Just as we need dark to appreciate light, pain to appreciate pleasure, lack to appreciate abundance, we need to feel conflicting emotions to fully appreciate the whole of our human experience. In so doing we can spread two equally strong, steady, graceful wings to fly with. Any imbalance between those two wings, and we fall. It is just that simple.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Secure your oxygen mask before assisting others around you

Earlier today a friend came to me for a bit of advice. She was asking how to stay still in the midst of other people's chaos since she's in a very peaceful place while others close to her seem to be experiencing their fair share of difficulty. Welcome to the story of my life lately. It couldn't be mere coincidence that she posed this question just as I find myself living the same thing. Someone I love dearly, wholly and differently from any other person on this planet is going through an awful time. While that is happening, my life is pretty darn amazing, and it can be challenging to reconcile the mix of emotions I feel as well as maintain my own balance. Needing to process all of my stuff as well as respond to my friend's question, I figured writing was my best bet. So here are some tips, in no particular order:

Tip #1: Use the challenge as a lesson.

When someone very close to you is going through a difficult time, it is bound to effect you. Assuming you have a modicum of compassion and empathy in your warm, beating heart how could you not be stirred by the suffering of one you care about? Perhaps some of us take on more than we need to, while others don't take enough. Who knows? Who cares? The point is, when a tough situation presents itself in this way, there's a reason for it and there's a reason you're party to it so you're best served to figure out what that is. Rather than wallow in said stuff, thereby encouraging the sufferer to do the same, learn from it. Without getting too stuck in your respective heads about the situation, look at it as objectively and creatively as possible to find the lesson(s) and perhaps even the solution(s) that the matter at hand has been delivered up by the Universe to bring you to. After all, the trials and tribulations of life are never more than we can truly bear and they are here to inspire growth, healing and ultimately positivity. So find that and share it. Share it with the person struggling. Share it with others who could maybe learn from the example. Share it because sharing lightens your load and deepens your bonds. It lets you know you're not alone, and there is value to whatever is happening. (Side note- all the above applies to your own struggles too)

Tip #2: What's mine is mine, what's yours is yours

In close relationships we generally tend to encourage a dissolution of many boundaries, material and otherwise. Generosity is pervasive, shared responsibility is necessary and there is a heightened intimacy that comes from having such freedom with another person. But this isn't true in all areas. We've all got our issues and our baggage. We've all got our problems and our hang-ups. When someone near and dear to us is caught up in all that, it is important to have a clear understanding of where their stuff stops and your stuff starts. Don't take another's issues on as your own. Recognize when you are falling into the trap of assuming their drama, or worse, blaming their issue/situation as the cause of your own feelings about it. If we strive to be accountable, we have to know what is ours as much as when to release something that isn't. You can be supportive and empathetic, yes, but there must be boundaries. Whether it is expressing that you've reached the limits of what you can handle or offer in an attempt to help, or acknowledging that you're using the person as a scapegoat for your own issues, you've got to own it. You've got to be honest, with yourself and others.

Tip #3: Be the change

In the wise and timeless words of the great Mahatma Gandhi, " . . .be the change. . ." that the person struggling wishes for them self. Lead by positive example. If you are the one living healthy, making wise choices, doing good in the world, being responsible or whatever the positive example is, keep at it! Don't get dragged down into the depths of their difficulty. Instead, be the light the shines above, illuminating the path toward whatever positive change. And DO NOT feel guilty about it. Guilt comes up for a lot of us when someone close to us is struggling through something, feeling down perhaps, and we're out there living large and happy. I know for me can happen and it stems from a desire to share the wealth if you will. When I'm feeling good and my life is going great, I want to share that with everyone important to me. I want to bring them all into the fold, and admittedly, I've experienced feeling a little guilty when I'm riding a high and someone I love is stuck in a low. But guilt doesn't get us anywhere. Fostering positive energy and example does. So stick with that and everyone involved has a much greater chance of reaping the benefits than if you succumb to guilt and sink to the low.

Tip #4: Take care of you

In the face of tough times, whether yours or someone you love, you have to keep your strength up. So that means nurturing yourself, and maybe even pampering yourself a little extra. This goes for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. It is so essential to keep your foundation solid or you can't be of use to anyone. For me, this means meditating and chanting regularly, getting in as much time on the yoga mat and exercising as possible, having fun and surrounding myself with people, places and activities that make me smile, laugh and feel inspired. It also means the occasional chocolate and peanut butter frosting cupcake for dinner (like tonight) or rocking out like mad to some angry music or whatever scratches the particular itch that you need to get it at in order to show up as fully present and strongly reinforced as possible. You should never apologize for taking good care of yourself, for taking time for yourself, especially when something challenging is looming. That's when you need it the most.

Tip #5: Love holding love

Focusing on the spiritual side of things for a moment, while you are the one holding a space of calm amidst the storm, hold a space of love. Embody love, be love, create love, share love, inspire love. Having pure, positive intention is powerful stuff. Let your intention be to promote love, healing, peace, joy, transcendence and liberation. Create a space for all of this in your heart and hold it there for the one you care about. Hold it there until they are ready to occupy it fully themselves. Do everything in your power to sustain hope for and belief in brighter days. Just focusing your energy and intention on that has the power to make it manifest. This is so important, so fundamental.

So to everyone out there working to support someone they love, for everyone leaning on someone for support, take heart in knowing there is a reason for it all and there is the opportunity for much good to come from whatever struggles you face. And know for certain that you must have your own proverbial oxygen mask properly secured before you can possibly hope to help someone with theirs. That's life. Life it fully. Live it well.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A new age has dawned

11.11.11. Quite the day if you care much for spirituality, consciousness, metaphysics, numerology and the like, which I absolutely do. Today actually has the feel of New Years Day in that it is brimming with vibrant, fresh, positive energy that is the trademark of new beginnings. Many consider today to be the official start of the Aquarian Age, a time when higher consciousness will be more readily available to those of us on this earthly plane, a time for connectedness, peacefulness and contentedness to be the norm. As an aquarius myself I find this all to be delicious and thrilling.

Over the last few days I've felt myself more aligned with my own higher consciousness, my soul if you will, than usual. Messages have been coming through with such clarity and eloquence that I can't help but take notice, and overwhelmingly, they speak of the notion that everything we desire, admire and aspire to is in us already. We are innately whole, balanced and perfect, yet we come to believe we are missing something, out of whack or somehow deficient thanks to living life. Some of us create more suffering for ourselves than others, while some seem to have a far easier time embracing their own divinity and operating from that space. If what my heart and a lot of the 11.11.11 propaganda say are true, we're at the doorway of a time when standing in our own light, our own perfection, will be something that everyone can freely and readily do, not just the uber-spiritual set or the elite class that we, as a society, have placed up on pedestals. It is time for an equal distribution of spiritual wealth as we collectively come to appreciate the abundance that already resides within us. There is no effort required to attain it. The effort is simply in recognizing and connecting to it.

But how? And where? And will it be hard or weird? I can only speak from my own experience in saying that yes, it can seem a little weird at first when you start delving into these "new age" sort of practices and associating with people who embrace and embody this sort of belief system. Yet once the initial shock wears off and you become just a tad familiar, I am confident you will find that gathering with a spiritual community is like a wonderful homecoming each and every time. To be in an energy that is inclusive as opposed to exclusive, that focuses on intangible abundance as opposed to material abundance, that promotes truly holistic well being as opposed to focusing on say, just the physical or just the mental, it is so welcoming and nourishing. In my experience people tend to be very friendly and all too happy to bring you into the fold. If you don't understand something, just ask. If you have concerns, someone will surely be happy to discuss them with you so you can make informed opinions of what is going on around you. Open yourself to something a little unknown, forge a connection to something bigger or higher than yourself and you will certainly reap the rewards.

I started my celebration of this auspicious date last night actually, joining in a full moon meditation at the beach that literally set my heart soaring. This morning some of my dearest friends and I woke to attend a Kundalini Sadhana (Kundalini being a school of yoga, Sadhana, a spiritual gathering) that began at 4:30am. Hours later as the sunlight was streaming through the windows and the effects of the postures, breath work and chanting had infiltrated us all, the room was literally buzzing with vibrant energy radiating from all those in attendance. Then it was to the ocean for me so that at 11:11am on 11.11.11 I could connect to nature in what is, for me, the most natural and harmonious way: in the water. And the celebrations continue as more and more gatherings are to come. So find some for yourself! Try out a new yoga studio, find a drum circle, visit a house of worship, take a trip to a spiritual destination, commune with nature. Whatever inspires you, whatever will allow you to step into the Aquarian age and connect to higher consciousness can only be a good thing. It can only perpetuate more of the positive energy that radiates at the center of each of our beings, illuminating it to the point where there is simply no containing it and it can be seen by all around you.

Welcome to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, friends!! Namaste!!