Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Sync with Universal Rhythm

I've been thinking about timing a lot lately. I feel a ton of internal pressure to get out in the world and do something! To become an inspirational speaker, to relaunch my business, etc. I'm surrounded by these messages all the time: “carpe diem,” “you'll never feel fully ready to do something,” “you won't be great when you first start, but you must start in order to be great,” etc. Everyone everywhere seems to be saying to me, “Get in the game, and get in the game now.”

On the other hand, I have resistance. Not due to fear, but a nagging sensation now is not the right time. I still have to take a nap every day. I tire out easily. I have lots of responsibilities and things on my plate at the moment. Do those sound like excuses? Maybe they are, but again, I keep thinking about timing.

Is it super cliche that I'm posting a pic of a surfer when talking about being in rhythm with the universe?
Is it super cliche that I'm using a picture of a surfer when talking about being in rhythm with the universe?

We're coming upon the eight year anniversary of my move to San Francisco, on Valentine's Day in fact. I think about how I moved out here and then it took me seven months to find a job and a place to live. That may not seem like a lot right now considering the state of our economy, but not having stable income or a place to live for that long was challenging to say the least.

I bring this up because so often I find myself jumping into something and then getting overwhelmed and backpedaling only to pick it up later. This has happened to me over and over again. I have a theory about why this is the case for me. My spiritual teacher says, “Each and every created entity – whether crude, subtle, or causal – is vibrational and rhythmic. … The collective rhythms of all the rhythms emanating every moment from the countless objects of the cosmic imagination is called 'universal rhythm.'”

My theory is that due to my highly intuitive nature, I'm peering ahead and picking up on the vibration and rhythm of something in the future, but not the present. And the reason things don't work out when I want them to is because the rhythms and vibrations haven't matched up yet. Here's a great example. One of the first jobs I applied for in San Francisco was at a medical magazine. I felt sure I was going to get the job. On a deep level I knew I was going to work for that company, so when they turned me down, I was shocked, surprised, and confused. Here's the funny thing though: seven months later I applied for a different job at a different magazine within the same company and got it.

What I'm saying here is that old adage “timing is everything,” is an adage for a reason. As much as I want to get out in the world and do stuff, it's also important for me to acknowledge some things are out of my hands. That if I try too soon it's like entering a bouncy house at the exact wrong moment: I'll get bounced out. As much as I hate having to say this, and believe me, I do, what I'm coming to realize is patience is required of me sometimes. Sure, I can jump in, but my personal experience is I feel traumatized and it takes me a while to lick my wounds before I want to try again. Wouldn't it be better for me to wait and pick my moment? To start bouncing in the house smoothly and seamlessly? To align my rhythm with the universe's?

I dream of a world where we understand there is a natural rhythm and timing to everything in nature, including us. A world where we understand we have to be in sync with the vibration and rhythm of what we want before the entry is smooth. A world where we remember it's still true: timing is everything.

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016

We are Family

In December, a friend of mine posted this fascinating article about how everyone on Earth is actually your cousin. As if to hammer the point home, while watching People will Talk with Cary Grant, my dad announced Jeanne Crain is my cousin. What? You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Of course I think it's cool that I'm related to a famous actress, but what I find even more interesting is the idea that I am literally related to everyone on Earth. Think about it: Even if we've never met before, we are related, we are family. What makes me laugh is that my spiritual teacher emphasizes this point over and over: that we are a universal family, that we are all brothers and sisters, and now I've stumbled across an article that gives credence to that idea.

We are all brothers and sisters.
We are all brothers and sisters.

What would the world look like if we behaved as if we were one big family? I can't help but think we would treat other a little better. That there wouldn't be an anti-immigration stance popping up in politics. That homelessness would be a thing of the past. That there wouldn't be so much income inequality. But mostly, that we would show true caring for one another.

This is not a pipe dream, by the way. It may feel like that right now, but I know it's not completely out of the realm of reality. I know this because I interact with people every day who hold the view point that we are all brothers and sisters. I see people taking a stance against racism, people who are outraged about police brutality, people who want to help unaccompanied minors fleeing their native lands in search of a better life. We are more compassionate, we are more loving. Life is not nearly as brutal as it used to be.

Instead of seeing the person down the street as “other,” I see more and more evidence we view that person as family. Let's keep up this trend. Let's keep opening our hearts, expanding our radius of love, and treating each other as if we were related, because it turns out, we are.

I dream of a world where we treat each other as family. A world where we extend care and appreciation to strangers because we recognize, they, too, are our brothers and sisters. A world where we keep taking action to manifest a world we wish to see.

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Little Deaths

I know “little death” traditionally refers to the sensation of orgasm as likened to death, but not always, and that's not what I'm writing about here. The little deaths I've been experiencing are the transformations taking place in me. I've been doing my work – going to therapy, taking care of myself, facing my demons – and the person I am now is not the person I once was. I'm behaving in new ways and thinking in new ways. These are positive changes, but it doesn't mean I'm not sad, because I am. A part of me has died.

My spiritual teacher says, “Death is nothing but change. A 5-year-old child is transformed in due course into a 15-year-old boy. In 10 years, the child becomes the boy. Thereafter, you will never be able to find the body of the 5-year-old child. So the child's body has certainly died.” He then goes on to mention the boy growing into a man, and then hitting middle age, then old age, until he finally dies and says, “The rest of the changes we do not call death; but in fact, all the changes qualify as death.”

Death is a part of life -- both the big kind and the little one.
Death is a part of life -- both the big kind and the little one.

All the changes qualify as death because the person that used to exist cannot be found anymore. And while I'm not a girl becoming a woman, I have still undergone transformations and probably will continue to do so throughout my life. I will die many times. We all will. Through my work in therapy, I'm learning it's important to grieve for these old selves. To feel a sense of loss for the person I once was and can no longer be. The sadness exists and doesn't go away through any rationalization on my part, nor any amount of looking on the bright side. It's important for me to honor and say goodbye to the person I once was, just as it's important to honor and say goodbye to other people when they die.

What I'm getting at here is we're constantly undergoing a metamorphosis and it's important to recognize that. We're constantly dying and being reborn. But how often do we cry about it? How often do we let ourselves feel bereaved over no longer existing the way we did before? It's just as much of a loss as other deaths and it's just as important to cry about it.

I'm going to end by quoting a song from one of my favorite musicals, Forever Plaid, called “Cry:”

If your heartache seems to hang around too long, and your blues keep getting bluer with each song, remember sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky. So let your hair down, and go on and cry.

I dream of a world where we cry for all the little deaths we undergo. A world where we honor all past versions of ourselves by allowing ourselves to feel grief. A world where we remember sunshine can be found behind a cloudy sky, so we let ourselves go on and cry.

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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Real Spirit of Tantra

I've been thinking a lot about tantra, which some people misunderstand to mean performing crazy sex acts. That form of tantra does exist, but the form I practice is psycho-spiritual and thus about seeking union with the divine, not the divine in the form of another person. The tantra I practice is all about liberation through expansion. My friend describes tantra as using everything as a vehicle for liberation. My spiritual teacher says tantra is an all-around fight, both internal and external. But what does that mean exactly?

For me, that means confronting everything. It means facing my fears, battling my demons, having tough conversations with people, but it also means embracing all parts of myself. That is much tougher than I thought it would be, particularly when it comes to my emotions. I don't mean in big ways like suppressing my anger, I mean in small, subtle ways.

Tantra is an all-around fight, like this mushroom pushing through the earth.
Tantra is an all-around fight, like this mushroom pushing through the earth. 

For instance, I am single and a part of me thinks I'm going to be single for the rest of my life. Usually this is where I or someone else will jump in and say, “No, of course not!” and proceed to tell me why it's impossible that I'll end up alone. The thing is though, no amount of optimistic thinking, compliments, or affirmations vanishes the part of me that thinks I'll wind up a spinster. She still exists, but instead of voicing her thoughts and feelings, I suppress her. My therapist suggested to me that I allow her to speak and I allow her to feel without judgment and without meaning. Once I did, wouldn't you know it, I felt better and I started breathing more deeply, a sure sign of release.

Feeling all of my feelings has consequences on my physical body as well. There's scientific evidence that shows people who developed malignant melanomas often tended to be people who didn’t express emotion in a healthy way and who suppressed or repressed their anger. The repression of anger suppresses the immune system as opposed to healthy expressions of anger. “It’s not a question of philosophy,” Dr. Gabor Maté said.

How does this all relate to my spiritual practices, meditation in particular? My friend Ramesh Bjonnes, author of Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening wrote about this on facebook a year ago, and I'm partially quoting him now. He said:

"Meditation is not about trying to stop our thoughts, our feelings. In fact, it is not possible to stop the mind from having thoughts, the body from having sensations, and the mind from having feelings based on those sensations....

So in meditation we do not deny anything, we actually become more accepting of everything, and in doing so, we realize where peace and true satisfaction is truly found – not in the fluctuating reality of the body and the mind, but in the stillness of the soul. And that stillness is so big that it contains everything, the only change is that our focus has changed, our identification has changed. It is from this state, we can more soulfully deal with pain, heartbreak, stress, and all the other stuff of life. This is the gift of meditation, to be able to dip into the ocean of the soul and thus return spiritually refreshed."

What this means for me is I'm not denying anything, I'm not suppressing anything, I'm not running away from anything. I'm embracing all of it: the easy and the difficult because I know it's what's best for me in body, mind, and spirit.

I dream of a world where we feel all of our feelings and allow ourselves to voice even our most secret fears. A world where we confront everything, where we express everything. A world where we use everything as a vehicle for liberation and practice the real spirit of tantra.

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

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Love is Everywhere

I'm pretty sure everyone knows this, but I see hearts or the word "love" every day. Most of the images I post on my Instagram feed, but not all of them. As we start this year, it has me thinking about what that means, that I see love everywhere.

Here’s something else that's interesting: I only see hearts and love when I'm not looking. You know how people say you find love when you stop looking? For me, that's literal. What this means to me is love is everywhere. Love is all around us all the time. Love can be found in a planter, in a rock, a piece of bark. Love is not restricted or isolated. Seeing hearts every day reminds me of that. Even in the midst of the worst pain, love is there. Even in the midst of ecstatic bliss, love is there.

I took both of these pictures. I found the blue fuzz on my sock just like this -- no arranging from me.
I took both of these pictures. I found the blue fuzz on my sock just like this -- no arranging from me.

I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but one of the things I love about my spiritual practice is its all-encompassing nature. God is everywhere and everything. There is no separation. God is both love and fear, light and dark. It's not possible for some things to be God and others not to be because everything, everything is made of God-stuff. God to me is love, so that means love is everywhere and everything. Sometimes it's hiding though. Sometimes we don’t notice it, but that doesn't mean love is absent.

As we go into this New Year, it's my wish that more and more people wake up to the fact love is everywhere. It's my wish that more and more people see love or hearts every day as a reminder that love is omnipresent, because it is. Seriously, if I see love or hearts all the time, how could it not be? I'm seeing love in a concrete form, but love is even more present in the abstract. It's the way a mother smiles at her baby. It's the way a stranger holds open a door. It's the way a friend shares her vulnerability. It's the way Komal Ahmad created an app, Feeding Forward, to feed the homeless by allowing companies and event planners to donate their surplus food to those in need within their area.

This New Year I'm asking you to see love. And I promise, the more you see love, the more love there is to see. Because really, love is everywhere.

I dream of a world where we recognize love is everywhere. A world where we constantly see love's presence. A world where we understand just because we may not see love at the moment doesn't mean love ceases to exist. A world where we know love is omnipresent.

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