Sunday, December 28, 2014

Love for the New Year

As this year is quickly coming to a close, I'm thinking about what I'd like the new year to bring. If I'm honest, I want to be happy all the time. I want my life to be a series of good things, of wishes coming true, of ease and grace. Yet, as I look back at this year, or any year, really, I see that's not possible. Life is good things and bad things, marriages and divorces, deaths and births all smushed together.

I've tried to escape pain, to only experience pleasure, but pain is inescapable. There will always be pain and there will always be pleasure, but there will also always be something more than either. Call it love, call it God, call it Spirit, call it the universe. There exists something beyond me, that's bigger than me that gives me peace of mind no matter what.

New Year
This isn't me but it could be.

I used to set New Year's resolutions, which morphed into intentions. My only intention for this year is to align myself closer with God, Spirit, the universe. When I'm in alignment, when I'm “feeling the love” so to speak, I feel OK regardless of the circumstances. So often I get caught up in one thing or another; the drama overtakes me and I overidentify with my pain. I feel helpless, like a little boat upon the sea getting bashed about by waves and wind.

I equate syncing up with the universe as diving down deep into the ocean where the water is less choppy and the wind blows above me. In essence, a state of mental equipoise. How great does that sound?!? I can't guarantee that I'll be able to maintain a state of detachment, but I'd sure like to try. This year I'd like to experience bliss not attached to people or circumstances, but rather self-generating through dint of my spiritual practices. This year I'd like to experience divine, unconditional love. The kind I feel as a constant presence. This year I'd like to take a different approach to my trials as I remember their transient nature. I want to use my gifts to serve others in anyway I can and treat myself with all the love, care, and attention I deserve.

I have that wish for others too. I wish that we may all experience untold bliss like we've never experienced before. That we ascend to new heights and feel just how loved we are. That we maintain our mental equipoise and align ourselves with something greater than us. That we serve ourselves and others and practice the golden rule.

I dream of a world that I just described, a world where 2015 is a bright and blessed year for all of us. A world where we join together to create a new Earth.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Light Within

Considering today is not only the solstice but Chanukah, I figured it would be a good time to talk about light and what it's become a metaphor of.

One of the principles of Chanukah that I like the most is the idea that one candle may kindle the light of many others and yet lose none of its own light. Some people say that we're already enlightened. I don't subscribe to that idea because I for one have too many hangups and issues to consider myself to be on par with Lord Buddha, someone who I think we can all agree was enlightened.

Maybe within each of us there is a canyon of aitinght
Maybe within each of us there is a canyon of light waiting to get out.

What I do have, what we all have, is a soul, a spark, a piece of consciousness. In other words, light. I consider enlightenment to be a state of grace where consciousness or light is so vast and bright that the separation between me and what is not me no longer exists. I consider it my duty to remind others of their own light, of their own consciousness. In other words, to be a candle that kindles the light of many others.

During this holiday season it's both easy to forget and easy to remember that life is not just about consuming things: food, drinks, or gifts. That we are more than human machines driven by impulse and instinct. We each have a light within us that is longing to burn ever brighter, to radiate ourselves and those around us.

Something important to remember though, is we do have human bodies, we aren't just light beings. A friend circulated this post by Jeff Brown the other day who said:

"Real spirituality is all about 'enrealment' -- it includes everything human in the equation. The real now is the one that includes everything we left behind on the path. We must work through our story, before the unresolved elements of our story kill us.”

I absolutely agree. My spiritual path is about using everything as a vehicle for liberation or enlightenment. About not running from feelings and tough times, and yet always remembering there is something more to me. Something outside the drama, the ups and downs, a witnessing part of me that remains unaffected and emits a light that can never be diminished. It's my job to keep growing that light, to keep remembering its presence, and to kindle that light in others.

May you also remember the light being that you are. May you remember you are more than the sum of your parts, and may you also endeavor to shine a light on all parts of yourself because that is where enlightenment happens.

I dream of a world where we remember our brightness and we share that brightness with others. A world where we're not scared of shadows because shadows are where light is most needed. A world where we embrace all parts of ourselves as we kindle the flame of enlightenment.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Forget the Future

My mother recorded the audio for this post because I'm sick. =(

I have a tendency to focus on the future. And I mean more than being goal-oriented. I view the future as a tantalizing prospect and look forward to it with giddy anticipation. When I think of the future, it’s always as an absolute, not a possibility. I think of the future as a book that’s already written just waiting for me to read. Except, that’s not true. The future is more like a “choose your own adventure story.”

Van in the dust
The future is an open road!

I think I’ve already mentioned how I’ve yet to meet a psychic who can accurately predict my future. I was reminded of that yet again recently. I visited a city that she said would be great for me, where she thought I’d really flourish. It’s been a question in my mind ever since she suggested it two years ago. I visited the city and felt . . . nothing. I didn’t feel a hum of excitement or awe or frisson. Mostly I felt bored and uninspired.

My dad keeps saying to me there’s no way you can tell whether you’ll like living somewhere after only a weekend, but I think he’s wrong. I think you can tell almost immediately because you’re picking up on something – a vibration, an energy, something that notifies you whether a place is yours or not. After coming back from this trip I felt elated, not because I enjoyed the city, but because I finally felt that the world is my oyster.

I’ve honestly believed my life had a certain trajectory; that the future was decided, but after going on this trip I realized it’s not. The future is a series of possibilities, of adventures that I get to choose. All of my actions will have reactions – that’s a law of nature – but the actions I take now affect my future. The future is not something to live into, it’s something I’m creating with each and every moment with all the decisions I’m making right this instant.

I’m terribly excited by this realization because it relates to the #blacklivesmatter movement. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been despondent thinking about race in the U.S. and how people of color are treated. It seems inevitable that injustice will continue and that whatever will happen will happen. But when I realize the future is not decided, that we’re co-creating the future, we can establish a new way of being, of living, of treating each other.

In physics, if a ball is on a certain track, the slightest bump can cause the ball to veer off course. In the beginning, the change will be miniscule, but eventually, the difference between where the ball could have gone and where it ends up will be vast. That means the tiniest actions on our part could greatly affect the future. That to me means I can forget about the future because it’s the present that really matters.

I dream of a world where we understand the future is wide open with possibilities. A world where we know anything can happen. A world where we take the steps now for a future we’d like to create. A world where we understand even the slightest change can make the biggest difference.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Just as Green

I have a tendency to romanticize/idealize places. I think that if only I could live in _______ all my problems will be solved. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

I suffer from sleep problems, as in, I don’t sleep well and I’m extremely sensitive to noise even with a white noise machine and earplugs. People kept telling me to move to a super remote place because remote places are quieter, and then I’d be able to sleep through the night. So I did. I temporarily moved to a retreat site in Missouri where the closest town – 20 minutes away – has a population of 2,000 people.

green grass
The grass is NOT greener on the other side.

When I got there, I found that the grass was not greener, so to speak, but just as green as anywhere else. Much to my surprise I still had problems sleeping – a train ran through nearby with a loud whistle, I heard planes flying overhead, the hum of the refrigerator bugged me, etc. I don’t regret the decision because moving to Missouri gave me a sense of freedom and relief I hadn’t experienced in probably years. I didn’t worry about anyone playing loud music on the weekends because I couldn’t even see my closest neighbors. I checked the mail whenever I wanted (in my last place the mailbox was locked and the key hung in my landlady’s house); if I needed a trash bag I walked into the main house and grabbed one. If I needed some spices I went to the commercial kitchen to get them.

Missouri was good for my soul but not for my body – alas, I still wasn’t sleeping. The whole thing made me realize external places are not what need to change, I need to change. I broke down and bought myself some sleep headphones, i.e. headphones specifically designed for sleeping, which I didn’t know existed until about a month ago. If being literally in the middle of nowhere was still too noisy for me, clearly nowhere except a sensory deprivation tank will be quiet enough.

Mostly what this all means, what I’m taking away from the experience, is nowhere is a magic bullet, nowhere will cure all my problems because the majority of my problems are internal. That’s not to say some places aren’t better than others – some places are more suited to my needs, but it’s unrealistic to think moving somewhere will make all my troubles disappear. More likely, I’ll have new and different problems. No place is a utopia as much as I like to fantasize about one. I do think the world can be a better place, but again and again I see a “utopia” manifests with effort and perseverance, not some magic wand or a plane ticket.

I dream of a world where we realize going somewhere else won’t make our troubles disappear, they might just go into hiding for a while. A world where we realize usually we are the ones that need to change. A world where instead of fantasizing about a place where the grass is greener, we realize the grass is just as green.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.