Be in this world but not of it. -Jesus of Nazareth

bridgeI love this quote.  It has become my mantra over and over again when I feel myself getting tangled in the web of the world around me.  Sometimes the strings in my life have barbs and they tug and snare, and I think of these words and feel instantly calm.

I said them once to my father as he went on a tirade about some commotion with his family.  He was sad because after his mother’s death his family was squabbling about what to do with certain items, money, and property.  The emotions he was carrying with him were heavy, and I often have a difficult time in the presence of them.  I wanted a way to calm him, soothe his fears and anger, so I said, “Be in this world but not of it.”

He quieted for a moment, then asked, “What does that mean?”  I explained to him that it’s the thought that we are created to be in this world and a part of its manifestations, but as soon as we lose ourselves in the mastication of events, we are lost.

“Think about,” I said.  “We are physical beings.  We are in a physical reality much of the time.  There are events and things that transpire that we cannot control nor should we.  As soon as we start to believe that these events and things are who we are, we lose the thread.  We are spiritual beings living a physical experience.”  He looked at me like I had three heads.  He nodded and continued driving, no longer lamenting the affairs of his family. I felt generally soothed by the fact that he was at least mulling it over.

After a few minutes he turned to me, “So which one of your psycho babble new-aged philosophers taught you that idea?”

I laughed.  “Jesus,” I said.  He paused again.  His deep and abiding love for Catholicism kept him from going any further with this his derides.

“So tell me again what this means,” he said. I did, but I am still quite sure he didn’t get it, and truthfully, that’s okay.

The quotes I remember, the mantras that keep me going, the words of wisdom that help steer me in the right direction day after day are here for my journey.  The understanding that we are all here to learn our particular brand of lesson is never lost on me, and I try to remember that before I get frustrated by lack of understanding.  We are all on our own paths and we are shown constant signs to help guide us through, and perhaps showing others our sign posts help them or maybe it just helps us.  As we reaffirm an idea for another, it travels more deeply into the core of us, and there it becomes lodged and more of a truth than it was before.  Either way, it is good.

Trust. Trust. Trust

Wondering About the Nature of Love

heartWhen does someone know she is in love?  Is it just a level of caring that overtakes her softly and then sideswipes her over and over again until she wonders which way is up?  Or is love a combination of waves crashing on a beach, sometimes soft and lapping other times thunderous and raw? Does it matter if the other person loves us back?

I have read every relationship book ever created.  I have read The Rules, and It’s only F*cking Dating, He’s Just Not That Into You, Ignore the Guy and Get the Relationship You Want, Rory Raye, and Bruce Bryans, The Key to Getting His Heart, How to Be the Girl Who Gets the Guy…just to name a few, and I feel I have found the common thread that links them all together.  It is about loving myself first.  Unfortunately, this is the tough part, and these books aren’t entirely helpful in explaining how a person does this.  One suggests “circular dating”, and another is more keen on buying something that the person who is a successful relationship would own.  This way you are already materializing the good things you will have in the future. There are visualizations and experimentations, drawing clear boundaries, and feeling your emotions.  It’s all pretty exhausting.

A few months ago I went to the 2017 Flower Show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia.  I decided to go alone. I was going to take advice from one of my countless advisers: Just date yourself for awhile.  As I walked among the myriad flower displays, a cold loneliness washed over me. It was surreptitious at first.  I had fooled myself into thinking that I was totally having fun weaving in and out of the vendors, closely studying the beautiful displays.  It was right around then that I started to notice couples everywhere.  They were holding hands or kissing under arbors, snuggling up to catch a selfie, and I felt the bottom drop out.  I texted my mom.

Me: At at the Flower Show

Mom: That’s great, Honey

Me: I am on a date with myself

Mom: Oh, that’s wonderful

Me: I just realized something

Mom: What’s that?

Me: I don’t even want to date me

Silence.  It was at that moment that I realized I had run into a wall.  If the truth was that I could not even have a good time with myself, then what was I expecting on the other side of all of this.  I realized with sudden clarity that it was not love I was seeking, but a body to fill the void and keep me from me.  But why?  Why go to such lengths just to avoid me?  It would be in meditation that the answer was found.

In the silence, I remembered.  I remembered being that sad, little girl sitting in her room, ignored by the adults around her.  I remember my dad laughing and telling people that he could always hear me talking to myself. I was alone so much.  A child of divorce and a father who worked seven days a week…there wasn’t much time for me.  The thought of being alone catapulted me back to that moment if I wanted to go there or not, but then I remembered something Eckhart Tolle had said, “Our past is merely an interpretation of events.”  The loneliness certainly didn’t feel fabricated.  It felt very real and I resented those adults who didn’t care for me.  Either way the past was sitting in my lap during my meditation and I allowed it. I gave the pain and the loneliness space to be.  I did not deny that little girl the feeling of her loneliness, but I reminded the adult me, who was coming to realize that she was already whole.   I tried gentleness as opposed to an egoic tug of war with myself.  I allowed it to just be.  I wish I could say that it all dissipated and at that moment I was free, but any student of meditation knows that it seldom works that way.  My little girl self returns with a vengeance or sometimes a gentle tapping, but she always returns for the compassionate reassurance that she is not alone.

So going back to love…I feel that the best is on the mat, deep in meditation and silence.  I go within when I am overwhelmed with these emotions, even if going to the mat means I stop in a public place to catch my breath.   Currently, I am in love with a man.  I am trying not to let my white, hot loneliness take over, but I am filled whearts3ith fear. I want to nail this down, figuring it out, give it a title, know that it is all going to work out, but I have to go back to my mat.  I need to recalibrate and focus on what is real.  Love from Source.  Love that is already me.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

“When you look in the ashes, look well.”

tressThis morning I woke up with enough fear and anxiety to choke a horse.  I went to my mat to process it and try and accept and release the pain from my clenching stomach, but it was hard and sad.  It caused me to wonder about the nature of a pain so great that it causes me to rise from my bed in the early morning hours to start and try and meditate my way back to a grounded state.  Is this truly necessary?  Can one body contain this much angst? Can’t I just be happy all of the time?

This leads me to today’s blog and the above quote which is from a book by Deepak Chopra.  It is called The Way of the Wizard, and it is really good.  Chopra takes the reader through twenty spiritual lessons by creating tiny vignettes between Merlin and a young King Arthur.  As Merlin teaches Arthur, he also shows us the way of the Wizard.

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Lesson 14 contains the above quote and also a short story about Arthur finally realizing that there is death in in the world.  It is here where I moved very deeply into understanding the idea of gain and loss.  On a cognitive level I understand that there is a balance between what is acquired and what passes away, but I still seek to hold onto things that might be far out of season.  It is easy for me to understand that a peach may be past its ripening and toss it into the composite pit, happy with the idea that it will continue its journey there, but I am not so happy about it when it becomes more personal.  I cry when I get to the end of a really fantastic book.  I dread the deaths of people close to me.  I grasp at relationships with people that are far past their prime.  Merlin attributes these feelings and grasping to man’s ego, and that it is not until we “die to every moment” that we can truly get to the “gate of unending life”.

My favorite part of the lesson is when he talks about seeds of opportunity in the leftovers of our perceived disaster, like the beautiful Phoenix rising from the ashes. How many times have I just walked away from the ashes and assumed nothing good could come from them?  Merlin says it best, “Pain isn’t the truth.  It’s what mortals go through to find the truth.”

Again as I sit on my mat and the words TRUST, TRUST, TRUST whisper gently through the whirring of the fan blades above my head, I realize that trust and truth come in stages.  That these early morning risings to process heartache and pain are necessary to begin the processes of sifting through the ashes to find my seeds of light.  There are possibilities in me as there are in all of us, and when these possibilities are given light and the patience to grow, then it will be as it should be.  I can no more force a relationship than I can force a seed to become a tree.  I just need to rest in the knowledge that in every seed there is a chance for rebirth and life.

TRUST. TRUST. TRUST

The Alchemist

moebius-alchemist-4Once long ago, a tarot card reader told me I was an Alchemist in a past life.

“You were very powerful and quite cruel,” she said as she turned another card over and looked at the spread with folded hands.

“What is an Alchemist?” I asked, which is a bit weird because I was less hung up on the cruel part and more concerned about what an Alchemist did.

“An Alchemist was a shaman of sorts and believed that he could turn base metals into gold, the most precious metal of all.  Many of them were charlatans, but you were able to do very magical things.  This made you mean and cruel, especially to women.  You are still paying this karmic debt in this lifetime.”  At the time I bowed my head, a bit shamed that now I had even more to regret, more to lament, but now years later I realize that psychics and tarot cards are helpful, but they are only part of the message.

In fact, her telling me I was an Alchemist led me to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and the novel changed my perspective about life.  It is a story about a shepherd boy who falls in love, and dreams one night of finding a treasure.  He decides that he needs to journey out to see the world and find his treasure and then he can marry his true love.  He sets out on a boat across the sea.  During his travels he runs into many fine people and many ruinous ones.  You will have to read the book to find out the ending, but I promise, it is worth it.

The part that I want to highlight today is where a King gives him two stones: Urim and Thummin.  The stay in a pouch he carries by his side.  When he has a good clear question that requires only a “yes” or “no”, he is told to consult the stones.imagesstones3

One day he is told by an old man that when you want to achieve something, all the Universe conspires to help you achieve it. This fills him with hope, but it is quickly lost as terrible things befall him and he finds himself lost and penniless, so he consults the stones.  He asks if that old man’s blessing of the Universe helping him with all his desires is still with him.  He took out one of the stones and the answer was “yes”.  He put the stone back in his pouch and he asked if he were going to finally find his treasure, and as he stuck his hand back in the pouch, both stones fell out.  He remembered what the King had said, “Learn to recognize omens and follow them.”  The boy smiled as he picked up the stones and realized that sometimes one must make his own decision and that trust is as important as divination.

I have asked again during my morning meditation for my soul’s path and my greatest passion and again I am met with silence and a gurgling of the word TRUST.  I felt fear and anxiety rise in my stomach and chest, but it was met with the word TRUST again.  Perhaps the answers we are looking for cannot be given until the time is right.  Though the Universe is constantly a co-creator of our desires it determines the timeline and the way things will progress.  Maybe my job is to ask for what I want and then sit back. TRUST. TRUST. TRUST

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Love and an Empath

 

  I believe in signs.  You know in the movie Signs when Mel Gibson looks at Joaquin Phoenix and says, “See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?”  I believe in miracles.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  That’s the kind of person I am.  The universe is too vast, too complicated, too connected for me to think that there isn’t a reason for everything.  The reason for why it is happening may elude me, but I have given up the need to know.

So what are my signs?  It seems like everything I pick up to read recently is all about the inner journey about self-discovery and the beauty of being alone. From the book that is sideways on the shelf that I picked up as I walked by because the cover looked interesting to one of my old students coming back to visit me to tell me how happy she is after she and her boyfriend broke up and she is able to really examine her own life.  Oh, the wisdom of a nineteen year old piercing the mind of her ole English teacher.  I did not mention my divorce, but she seemed intent on selling me on the all of the wonderful aspects of life as a singleton.  I nodded and smiled and just tried to soak it all in.  

I know what you are thinking, and I have considered it myself.  When a person is focused on something, she will see it everywhere, but what comes first?  Is my new found sensitivity causing my perceptions or are all of these things messages from the Universe to show me that I am on the right path?  Here’s the deal.  I don’t want these to be my signs,  If I were going to see signs right now, I want to see ones that point me towards that big, tall drink of water that wants to inspire me and make me his own.  I would look for the messages that tell me something that doesn’t grind against my feelings of loneliness and cause me to feel sick to my stomach.  The signs would be filled with hearts and doves, and all of these signs involve the joys of love.  

So I guess I don’t really need to ask myself what kind of a person I am. I know I am the girl who sees angels’ wings in the froth of her cappuccino and the number 11 on the back of a t-shirt as a thumbs.  And I guess love will continue to elude me until I get my own stuff straight, and I guess I am okay with that.  Even if I am not, I don’t think the Universe gives a shit.