Saturday, February 28, 2015

The unconscious investment in suffering and struggle

It can be helpful to see the unconscious investment we have in our own suffering and struggle. Of course at a conscious level we do not want to feel unseen, unmet, or unworthy of love. But how might holding onto these archaic identities be serving us? Why is it that on some level we are not... quite... ready... to give them up?

While it may seem that your greatest fear is coming to terms with the belief that something is wrong with you, that you are not enough, or that you are unlovable as you are, what if it were just the opposite? What if you came face-to-face with the raging truth that you are not the unlovable one, that there is nothing wrong with you and never has been, and that you are so much more than 'enough?' What sort of primordial fear might be unleashed in the full embodiment of this truth? What would have to change?

What if you could no longer delay full, embodied, conscious participation in this miracle world while you 'wait' for you your past to be 'resolved,' for all of your wounds to be healed, until you awaken into some 'permanent' state of invulnerability and safety from heartbreak, until you always feel 'happy,' until you find your 'soul mate,' manifest your 'life's purpose,' or 'complete' some mythical spiritual journey?

What if you could truly no longer blame yourself, your parents, your partner, your kids, your boss, or anyone or anything for your unhappiness and dissatisfaction?

Let us love ourselves – and all beings everywhere – by taking a moment to contemplate what it is that is truly motivating us to act the way we do. We can honor the protective function these identities have provided while finally releasing them from the burden of protecting us any longer. We can touch them for a moment and then let them dissolve back into the vast space of awareness, releasing them from the burden of providing shelter from the uncompromising, relentess, unresolvable, groundless reality of love. Yes, as a result we may be asked to stay embodied to surging waves of feeling and sensation that they have protected us from – including loneliness, fear, panic, and anxiety. But that is fine. Everything is welcome here. It is all path.

Your commitment to staying close with your vulnerability is the doorway to the aliveness you are longing for. It is so full-spectrum in the vastness of your heart. May we no longer postpone full engagement with this precious human life, until our 'sense of self' or our outer circumstances have magically configured into the way we think they should be. For it will all be gone before we know it.

Photographer unknown

Friday, February 27, 2015

The conversation we're having here is a very human one...

The conversation we're having here is a very human one. Inside the mandala of love, we are all naked, raw, tender, and ripe. Enter here and you will be unclothed – of concept and of any remaining separation between you and 'other.' Whether that 'other' is another person or the unwanted within you, you are alive between heaven and earth. 

You need no longer apologize for what you are. Your sensitivity and your vulnerability need not be 'fixed' nor your heartbreak 'healed.' For these are the gates to the mandala and the ways you will connect and attune to beings everywhere. 

If you will slow down, open your senses and listen carefully, you will see that the beloved has placed a longing inside you, a yearning that is unique to you, to know love as the organizing principle of this very rare and precious world. We have no idea, truly, if there will be another opportunity quite like this, some other star of love floating around out there. For a moment, let us assume there is not. Let us commit to being right here, and right now. And see what happens.

We each have our way of knowing and expressing this longing, of opening our hearts, our bodies, and our nervous systems to the truth of being, to the unbearable creativity that is this human life. As Rumi reminds us, let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Photographer unknown

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six Kinds of Loneliness

"To be without a reference point is the ultimate loneliness. It is also called enlightenment.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down." 

-Pema Chödrön

Excerpted from Six Kinds of Loneliness, from our friends at Shambhala Sun 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Honoring and releasing the dream figures from your life

"I am not okay. I am not enough. I have failed. Something is wrong with me. I am unworthy of love."

These identities served an important adaptive function when you were a little one in your family of origin. They helped you to make sense of how it could possibly be that you did not receive good contact, attunement, and mirroring from your caregivers. Because it was just too unsafe for you to see that such empathic failure was the result of their own limitations, you internalized it and blamed yourself. "Oh, I am not receiving love because I am not lovable as I am, because I am flawed, because something is inherently wrong with me."

But here you are, several decades later, and you are awake and alive. You want to touch the mysteries of giving and receiving love, and are now ready to know what is true more than you want to feel safe, to be 'right,' and to maintain any fixed identity about yourself. Slowly, but courageously – and with the tools of wild, embodied kindness and self-care – you can meet, honor, and then release these dream figures from your life, from your nervous system, and from the very cells of your sacred heart.

With the medicine of pure kindness, allow the unworthy one, the one who is not enough, the unlovable one, and the defective one to go on their way, to be recycled into the muddy gooey earth, where they will be transmuted into particles of blazing compassion, raining down on all beings in all worlds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The pressure to be 'happy'

Do you feel the pressure to be 'happy'?

As many of you are now coming to discover, even 'happiness' can become a burden... something you must 'maintain' throughout the day or otherwise feel that you have somehow failed, that you're a bad spiritual person, or that something is wrong with you.

Is it true that if sadness, or doubt, or confusion is arising in your immediate experience, that something has gone horribly wrong? That some cosmic error has been made which must urgently be corrected with your favorite spiritual process or practice? That you must immediately rush to change, fix, release or 'let go of' these uninvited guests?

As a sensitive human being, open to all of life's energies, you will always walk in a vast meadow, in which very alive and unpredictable thoughts, feelings and emotions will sometimes surge. Despair, tender vulnerability, great fear, disembodied peace, profound hopelessness, raging sorrow, disconnected bliss; these brilliant expressions of life will surely surge in the meadow of You, seeking sanctuary in your vast heart.

Before you scramble to go to war with yourself, concluding that these visitors are enemies or obstacles to the spiritual path, shameful stains on your brilliant enlightenment, blocks to your bliss, please hold on a moment! Slow down! Invite these guests in for tea, see what they have to say. Listen, be present with them, and open your body to them. For perhaps they are not mistakes, nor signs of your 'unawakened' ignorance and failure, but emissaries of integration, come to remind you of your unlimited nature, your ability to hold ALL of life, not just part of it, not just the 'positive'.

Let us not fixate on a future goal called 'happiness', but create a living sanctuary of love together, where we can embrace the entirety of what it means to be an ordinary human being – honoring the messy, the confused, the lost and the broken, as well as the awakened, the clear, and the whole. Let our spirituality include all of this. Let us speak of the kind of happiness that knows no enemies, a bliss that is not a goal.

And let us give our open hearts to this weary world, which, perhaps now more than ever, is so in need of a little tenderness, kindness, humility... and slowness.

- Matt Licata & Jeff Foster