Repaired With Gold

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One of the fun parts of my incarnation is that I fall a lot. When I was a teen, I would fall going UP the stairs. In university, I would run for the bus and slip on grass. I have fallen down stairs and broken my wrist. I fell when climbing a fence a year ago, and hurt a few spots. This month, I fell on my own knee while planting my vegetable garden, and bruised my ribs. Bruised ribs and broken ribs feel the same, but have less risk when bruised.

I have a high pain tolerance, yet these ribs tested that. I would say my pain history in life would go: broken wrist, child birth, bruised ribs.

And yet, I am deeply grateful for this injury. I learned how many people love me in my life – a reflection of how Life loves me. I had friends show up out of no where to help. Some picked my child up from school because driving was too hard and probably unsafe for me. Some friends fed me. Some friends watched my pets. Some friends checked in on me and sent me love. As much as my rib could not support me, my circle DID support me.

More than that, it was a deeply spiritual experience. No one but you can explore your relationship with pain. For the first time, I understood what my teacher, Christopher Wallis, meant when he said that you get to a point in life of being grateful for everything, even dog poop. My gratitude for what this has opened in me is profound. When I shared that with him, he wrote this to me:

“You’re more beautiful for having been broken.

People tend to think that something has gone wrong when they’re wounded, or hurt, or broken, and that healing is fixing that wrongness and getting ‘back’ to a good or ‘normal’ condition. But consider this: just as, in the context of weight training, the muscles need to actually tear (get damaged) in order to rebuild stronger, why not consider the parallel possibility that we actually *need* to get hurt/wounded/broken in order to grow stronger and more compassionate?

In that light, nothing ever goes ‘wrong’. And being wounded can be a gift.

The Japanese have a word for this, from the context of artfully repaired pottery: kintsukuroi, “more beautiful for having been broken.” – Christopher Wallis

When I told a friend I could not visit her because I needed to rest, she offered to do healing work with me. I turned her down, because I was loving the work I was doing on my own. I shared that with her, and she commented I was handling it with ease and grace and a smile on my face. I absently agreed, but inside I knew that was not the truth of it.

To handle it with ease and grace and a smile would be to deny what is. The pain is. Sometimes I am at ease. Sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am smiling, and sometimes I am irritable or crying. Why should I be at ease and grace and smiling? That is some form of spiritual overlay on how we think spiritual people are – these detached spirits walking on air and sunshine. What is true is that I am not suffering from the beliefs I lay over the pain. I remember the quotation: In life, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. – Haruki Murakami

I like the words of Matt Licatta on what happens as we grow spiritually and heal:

“There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less. That as you awakened, the emotional spectrum would narrow, into some safe, consistent, happy, resolved calm. But you are seeing that love continues to ask you to feel more, to hold and metabolize the full-spectrum of a broken open world.

There was an old hope that as your heart opened, the vulnerability would diminish, the shakiness would fall away, the tenderness would yield… but you are more raw now than ever before.

There was an old belief that as you deepened on the path that you’d be more detached, untouchable, not care so much about others and the world, resting as the great “witness” beyond it all, in some safe, constructed place of observation. But somehow, everything and everyone matter now more than ever, in spontaneous, unexpected ways.

Something new is being born inside you, but something else is dying. Rather than prematurely forcing rebirth to emerge, turn into the uncertainty, the contradictions, and the purity of the death of an old dream. For it is here that the womb of new life is to be found, where the raw materials of resurrection are woven into being by the Great Weaver herself.

While this level of trust may be disorienting to a mind longing for resolution, the body knows… the heart knows. Trust in the fires of disintegration. And the birth that can arise only from the ashes of that level of grace.” – Matt Licatta

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Just A Day of Ego at Play

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Blue sky. Apple tree blossoms.  Fresh green grass. Sunshine and gentle wind.

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

“I wish I had worn my Sketchers. These shoes aren’t as good for walking.”

“This is a much longer walk than I planned.”

“My tank top would be cooler than this shirt.”

I noticed my egoic mind chattering, so out loud I said, “I am struggling against what is. Just be with what is real.”  I was proud of myself for that awareness.

And almost immediately,  my mind started turning the moment into a blog. So at that moment,  I was egoically creating meaning from my experience and ironically, STILL not being present with what was.

And so I accepted that. Stopped criticizing myself for it. Settled into the moment. Laughed. The ego will do what it does. I am the one listening to it, experiencing it. And I am the one who let’s it go. I am the field within which all this occurs.

This dance my ego plays of trying to look right (spiritually accomplished? ) on the outside or striving for awakening on the inside is such a foolish use of energy. 

Wrote the blog anyway! Lol!

3 Things That Happen When You Stop Believing Your Own Thoughts

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years”. – Byron Katie
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What happens if you stop believing your thoughts?

1. You stop feeding drama with thoughts and words

One of the first things I noticed when I stopped believing my thoughts was that I was no longer replaying painful scenarios in my head over and over. I wasn’t anticipating conversations with people and deciding how they should play out.

I found it was much easier to let go of my day. It became easier to be curious about things that happened in my life. I could ask how an event brought me closer to awakening. I stopped believing my story, which was usually told with all my conclusions rather than the observable experience.

2. You stop blaming or judging.

When I stopped believing my thoughts, I realized that right or wrong were also thoughts and beliefs. I could stop beating myself up for not living up to standards (thoughts) I held for myself. I could stop trying to be perfect – defined as always being right and honorable and loving.

Then I could stop judging others. I could look at the belief triggered by another instead of blaming the other. I might still be unable to go to their world but I didn’t need to judge, be angry or afraid of what they could take from me – like showing me I wasn’t perfect according to my definition – and therefore not deserving of love.

“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” – Byron Katie

3. You no longer suffer because you want something different than what is

The biggest source of suffering comes from resisting what is, and comparing it to what you wish. When you stop believing your thoughts, you stop creating an alternative to what is. You realize that what is happening is exactly as it should be, and it has always been this way.

“I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.” – Byron Katie

The best part? You can relax. You don’t have to control everything and everyone. The universe becomes a loving place instead of a human version of Whack a Mole, with unexpected impossible challenges.

Little by little, you release a bit more and become more aligned with what’s true.

The Gritty Parts of Life

I listened to the young man express himself fervently about all that was wrong with the world and how he would change it. As a yogini, I wondered why I didn’t share his energy about getting involved and making a difference. Was this a lack of integrity on my part?

This isn’t new to me. When I was in university, I felt callings to be part of communities of change – Greenpeace,  kibbutz, the Peace Corps. There were so many ways I could be in service. I liked the idea very much. Surely with my skills and my leadership I could change the world.

I watch the archetypes of society repeat themselves. There are new movements but they are all aimed at the same things that drove the movements of 20 years ago – sustainability,  equality, peace, unity. Love.

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Am I being complacent? Too passive? What am I doing about the changes I want to see? Is it really as simple as “Be the change you want to see in the world”?

I believe the deepest service I can be to this world is to deepen in my consciousness and live from there. The approach I take to the grittiness of life is how I change the world. Consciousness does not require me to become part of a movement.  For me, it requires me to always take action in line with my values.

I see beauty in the organized movements.  Supporting refugees. Donating to a family who have lost a loved one to violence. These are important reflections of love.

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But they are no more or less important than supporting the woman at work whose parents are overseas and are sick. Or sitting with the old lady in the waiting room who wants to talk about her life to someone.

I can go to shamanic rituals, experience mysticism and connect with beings on other planes, study Sanskrit or do 100 sun salutations each day. None of that is worth anything if I am not resting squarely in the Consciousness of Life and living the grittiness of everyday in an awakened way.

To me, the modalities we have can easily become confused with the goal of awakening. Collaborative community is beautiful but it is no replacement for innocent and earnest action from love.  Political outcry is an important part of changing planetary consciousness but it is impossible to shift without changes to individual consciousness. 

I celebrate that the grittiness of my life offers millions of moments of opportunities for service. I change the world by changing me. And that is more than enough.

It’s just a story

Some stories stick with you. For me, there is a great Star Trek TNG  called Darmok. In this episode Picard is captured, then trapped on a planet with an alien captain who speaks a metaphorical language incompatible with the universal translator. They must learn to communicate with each other before a deadly planetary beast overwhelms them.
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Picard realizes that the Tamarians communicate by citing examples and metaphors derived from mythology and folklore, but without knowing the context with which to ground these metaphors, the chance for successful communication is slim.

This weekend, I went on a retreat focusing on tools for eliminating our beliefs as a lens through which we view reality. It is the lens of our beliefs that keeps us separate from each other and from experiencing reality as it is.

I have leaned on Byron Katie’s The Work for a few years now. I was pretty sure I knew how to use it. And then I did this workshop.

For a full day, I tore apart my stories. First, the easy ones – the ones I have incorporated into my day to day views of life. Then we hit a cherished belief. I believe in responsibility. I believe in responsibility as a foundational spiritual value. I had to challenge it. I held tightly and could not find space to let go of this value, even though it was causing me suffering when I believed it.

My facilitator said “OK here’s what arises for me. I suffer when I believe my own thoughts. If we are responsible, we have control. If we have control, wouldn’t we chose to always be present and kind and loving? Are we really responsible?”
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My ego broke open. Suddenly I saw how this belief kept me unhappy with myself, able to judge others, and apart from experiencing reality as it is. I can say control is an illusion but it became so apparent to me in that moment how beliefs completely create our experience. It is just like speaking in metaphors in the Star Trek episode.

And like that episode, we communicate best with others who share our metaphors and stories. We feel connected when a friend agrees and supports our story. We feel betrayed when someone we love moves into a different story than the one we shared.

I am not done processing the window into reality that opened when I saw that we do not control anything. We are not responsible. Things happen and we experience them. We move in directions based on what we value. Circumstances may make a certain experience more likely.

I can hardly wait to open the window into reality a bit wider.

Story Time Is Over

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An emotional trigger can only trigger a story.

A trigger is an object or event that recalls a memory which causes pain or grief. (This blog will not be about sexual abuse triggers.) So, if you’ve been let go from a job, you might avoid driving by the place because seeing it triggers you. Or when we end a relationship, we remove all the things our former lover gave us because the items trigger memories or thoughts about him. It’s why we change cities when things go wrong and we want a fresh start.

What I know is that triggers can only activate a story. We assign meaning to our experience in our minds, and the story becomes more real than the direct experience. But triggers are another version of mind, or of ego. They are grooves, energized by repeated patterns. And thoughts can be dissolved. You can ask if the thought is true, or you can move your energy back to your experience right now. It is not the trigger that causes suffering. It is the story.

So, on this path of awakening, and of experiencing No Self, story time is over. I practice not assigning meaning to my experience and I recognize the non-reality of my thoughts, particularly my triggers. There is a fear from time to time, as my world becomes more quiet. But the liberation as less of my mind sticks to me is a powerful experience.

Paying the Ego

“I’m done perpetuating my ego through struggle and making you be the witness of it,” I texted him.

“Its all good, ” he answered, “I’m sorry I haven’t been available for you. ”

Except, his lack of availability was a key part of my growth. I share my heart and soul with him because he will hold me accountable to my higher values. By witnessing me, I don’t get to hide my ego’s subtler patterns.

There is a fine line between inquiry and feeding the ego by constantly trying to get the story right. Or by sharing your flaws while re-energizing them by constantly looking at them.

I realized that my sharing had turned into a way of focusing on and energizing my ego.

“I would rather start to tell you about my moments of deepening and consciousness, ” I said.

“That would be good for you, ” he replied.

And then this came in to my email today:

You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you think about. 

Literally, 
The Universe
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