Sunday, April 29, 2012

Understanding the Difference Between Self Love and Ego Love

I seem to be in a groove writing about love lately, and I see no reason to stop now. It's such a vital thing for living life. Who doesn't want to live their lives in love? Only the cynical would say that they would, and truly, the cynic is the most idealistic of idealists who is simply denying what they truly want and perhaps needing love more than anyone else.

Some time ago, I connected with a beautiful spiritual path-walker, who has recently re-started her blogging efforts (check her out here: http://georgiasimone.com/), and I really enjoyed her Love Manifesto that she wrote way back when. Here's a quote from it to give you a flavor:

"You are love
Love is the heart of who you are. This is not some nice idea to fill you with comfort or inspire your self-esteem.
This is a very real, very powerful, and very sober REALITY.
Yet from this reality we run, from this reality we hide, and this reality we deny. Because our whole
sense of self, the false identity we've invested a life-time into, is at massive and catastrophic risk of irreversible
damage.
In fact, if you truly embrace this Truth, then who you think you are - who you believe yourself to
be - is at risk of TOTAL annihilation." -- Georgia Simone

Embracing True Love and Important Definitions
It's a great quote, is it not? Annihilation of the ego is why we're so scared, but there's truly nothing to fear. All that we'll be left with is us. Tear down the walls and thrown out the sink. You won't be alone because the walls are now gone. You can now connect to everything. Isn't that worth having the courage to fall in love with yourself and everyone else?

But before I delve too deeply into love, I know that I have to help you understand love. Because the great big problem in this discussion is that no one is using love in quite the same way, and most people have absolutely zero idea of what love is. I like to compare love to water because water can come to us in many states and conditions. Consider the swamp water that's been infused with toxic waste. That is, in fact, still water. Would you drink that? I sure would hope not. Then consider the origin of that swamp water way up in a spring or on a mountain top from snow melt. The water coming down the mountain is alive and moving--not stagnant and spawning God knows what. It's super clear and pure. Who wouldn't want to drink that?

Such are the many states of love. Many people have been drinking from the toxic swamp water, so when you think about love, you may not even believe it exists because it's been so toxic in your family relationships and your romances. While not everyone has had such a hard life, much of the rest of love has been contaminated with expectations, desires, fears, and attachments. This water makes you choke a little to drink it, but if you drink enough of it, you acclimate. It's kinda like drinking alcohol--most people don't really enjoy it at first, but if you swill enough of it down the ole gullet, you think you do like it. Then, you expect that this is simply how love tastes until one day you get a taste of the pure water from the spring. A couple things may happen:
  1. You spit it out, saying it doesn't taste good. You're simply not used to it.
  2. You're overjoyed and hooked. You can't get enough of it.
  3. You won't even try it because it doesn't smell or look like what you're used to.
  4. You don't pay much attention to it when drinking it, and otherwise ignore it.
There are other reactions. But you get the point. For some of you, just think about when that really amazing partner showed up in your life and you couldn't appreciate them. That's kind of like what's going on here, although not exactly.

True Love and Ego Love
But to get a little closer to the topic at hand, true love is love without conditions. Ego love is "love" with conditions, which isn't love at all. However, so many people consider ego love to be "love" that I'll keep the terms together for now. Here's an example:
  • He loves her when she puts out/has sex with him.
  • She loves him when he buys her stuff.
  • He loves her when she cooks dinner.
  • She loves him when he listens to her.
  • He loves her when she holds him.
  • She loves him when he's funny.
  • He loves her when she just sits still and hangs out with him.
I put some pretty benign things at the end because I want to make the point about how many expectations we laden on relationships and others. And of course, the biggest distinction of true love is that it doesn't require an external person or situation. It simply is. But the ego is always looking to send its love elsewhere. So if the ego doesn't have a relationship, it doesn't allow itself to be in love. Much like in my last blog post, I want to reiterate that being in love is simply a state of awareness. Ultimately, everything blends, and the lines blur together. The self and the other disappear, and there is simply love. But for now in this post, I  want to bring your attention to true self-love and how important it is to learn how to truly love yourself because from that space will spring the right love to share with others.

Self-Love: Letting Go of Your Personal Expectations
The self improvement world has done a pretty good job of turning personal work into a major economic industry. That's not an all bad thing. There are, however, always ways to improve ourselves. The self improvement path is not the spiritual path--at least it isn't any more so the spiritual path than any other path because ultimately all paths are the spiritual path. However, in this world of duality, it can be easy to get lost in trying to constantly improve yourself or become something else. There's this imaginary goal of somehow being perfect, perfectly enlightened, or above all reproach and difficulty in life. That's just so false it makes my teeth ache. On the spiritual path, you can't really learn how to love yourself more. Because the very conditions you've set up around how lovable you are or when it'll be okay to fully love yourself are the problem. There are ways to have even less noise in your mind and to exude more peace and kindness in your energy, but that's not what this is about. There's always another layer to peel away, but that's not what this is about. This is about fully loving yourself simply because you are.

It's a hard one, isn't it. Not because love is hard, but we've created so many systems of the mind and our culture that run counter to it. Could you imagine how useless a lot of advertising would be if we are already complete and whole in ourselves? Could you imagine how unresponsive we'd be to getting the latest gadget, coolest clothes, or whatever? Because advertising is one of many mechanisms that depend on making you think that you're missing something and that you'll be happier or better off or more worthy of your own love and others' love because of this thing you can buy. Jewelry ads are probably the worst as they most directly equate love with a thing. I can't imagine how much money that industry makes off of delusion.

Breaking Down the Walls to Your Heart
Every now and then, someone uses the term "heart-break" in a way that resonates for me. I like thinking of it as a reason to break through the callousness and get to your feelings. Of course, not all feelings are going to be enjoyable. That's part of life, and loving all feelings within you is an important step on the path to true self-love. Ego-love will say, "I enjoy being happy, excited, and pleasured, but not angry, scared, or hurt." Self-love will say, "I enjoy being in whatever state I am." Now, I'm not saying that you are really having fun at a funeral. That's not it at all. I am simply nudging towards the practice of noticing all the judgments you have within yourself and about yourself. Look at all the expectations, and look at all the ways those expectations built off of fears and desires are making you try to manipulate yourself.

I think one of the most repulsive things in society are the men and women caught up in being "pick-up artists." A pick up artist tries to seduce another (it's usually men doing this to women, but not always) person into doing what they want--usually having sex with them. They are trying to manipulate the situation to get a favorable experience. This isn't even in the realm of ego-love, but to the pick-up artist, sex is their favorite variety of love no matter how putrid the water has become. What they don't understand is that they're totally a victim of their expectations, and they're manipulating themselves to act and be a way to try and manipulate another and manipulate a situation into what they want.

Are you as nauseated as I am?

But it gets worse because if you extend this metaphor out, you'll see how you're manipulating yourself and others all the time to get what you think you want. And when you get that, then you can be happy or feel some variety of love. With all this effort, breaking down the walls to your own heart really does seem a lot simpler, does it not?

Clarifying Love a Little Bit More
I don't typically make the distinction of spiritual love versus other kinds of love. Spirituality runs throughout. It's even there in the most rancid of ego-love situations. But as I said, the clearer and purer the love, the more the innate spirituality of the moment sparkles. We really are doing an uncovery job here. We're uncovering what you've already got. Or to go back to the water metaphor, we're filtering out all the impurities. You've already got all the love that you could ever need right within your own heart. You don't need another person to help you feel it. You don't even need a reason to feel it. It's right there.

And it's not going to stay the same.

Love is fluid and ever-shifting. Much like the spring coming down the mountain, there are smooth and easy moments of love, and there there are rapid and rocky moments with love. It's all love, and it all needs to be embraced. Because if you don't, you're starting to dam the river, and in damming it, it will divert to some place else that isn't as healthy or true to you. Or you just start to feel so much pressure that you want to explode--also potentially in another unhealthy manner. Self-love is so brain-teasingly easy that you probably don't know what to do with yourself, so let's talk a little bit about ways to practice true self-love, which ultimately is just love of all things since you are not separate from anything or anyone.

Three Quick Tips for Practicing True Self Love
I'm going to keep this really easy.
  1. Look in a mirror and tell yourself that you love you 3 times a day.
  2. Do something you love to do and practice having no expectations about how it will feel (If you love dancing, then go dancing, but let go of any expectations of what it should feel like, what the music should sound like, what partners you'll have, etc.).
  3. Give someone a loving compliment without expecting anything back (This can be really fun to do with strangers whom you'll never see again).
There are so many more ways, and the last suggestion really is an acknowledgment that when you truly love another, you truly love yourself. When you truly love yourself, you are also truly loving everyone else. This is the beauty and simplicity of love, and if you feel like you've gone through most of your life never having tasted the fresh, crystal clear waters of true love, then be encouraged: you already have all the love you'll ever need within you if you just stop and accept yourself fully as you are.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Being in Love and Its Many Manifestations

It's time for more love-talk. Who can ever really get enough of that anyway? But as always, I'm talking about true love. I'm not talking about the watered-down version that's been polluted by lies, codependency, desires, and expectations. So much of just about everyone's path these days is to learn how to filter out this crap to find out what love really is. Sure, I can tell you; it's complete and total acceptance with every ounce and fiber of you. But these are just words. You have to be able to feel this all the way through your heart, body, mind, and soul to really understand and embody love. Some of you are reaching this point or are at this point because of your awakening. Which means you're ready to really give and offer love in service to the world. This is a beautiful thing because you'll now know how to give to yourself just as well as how to give to others. You will stay healthy and in balance and won't be lost in desires to help and the need to be validated by helping others. It's a beautiful space to live in the world, and ultimately, this space is what I mean when I write "being in love."

Being in Love Is a State of Being
Being in love is most commonly in reference to having found someone to focus your love on and who can focus your love on you. Of course, that's not always what happens. Sometimes one person is focusing their love on the other, and the other person is just receiving all of it without reciprocating. Maybe the giver notices or maybe not. The giver may even think that the other person is reciprocating, but really, the giver doesn't understand that he or she is just feeling his/her own love. This is part of one of the key things that many people have to learn. They have to learn that most of what they feel as love is just an internal feeling. Make no mistake about it, we definitely feel emotions--both good and bad--that others send to us. But when your lover's love is just icing on the cake, you are never...well...cake-less if that lover goes away. Versus right now with how people react, when a partner goes away, people shutdown their hearts completely depriving them of their own cake. (I have no idea why cake is the metaphor for love right now. Just go with it.)

But when you truly understand love and it integrates into who you are, it is simply the state of being that you operate from. It can become like living in water if you're a fish. It's just how it is. It's the same way that most people are used to living in pain and suffering. They can't think of another way to live their lives, so they assume that this is simply how life is. That's part of why the Internet is causing so much social change around the world. Information is getting out that there are other "states" that people can live in. It helps them to see that they can change things. And so too can you if you don't have love in your life. Because ultimately what changes the water around you is you.


Opening Your Heart, Changing the World
Your open heart changes the world. It changes it because the energy of how you interact with others is always flowing and touching everyone around you in your life. As I mentioned in The Nature of Energy, energy just wants to flow. Love is energy. Truly, there's no real difference between pure energy and pure love. They're the same. But you don't pour out your hearts on everyone. Every time something cruel happens, you don't become a sobbing wreck. You have to learn how to hold your own space. But at the same time, you aren't building hard calloused walls. The strong, open heart learns how to feel things fully and let them go. We don't turn events and situations into stories that we play over and over again. There are terrible things happening to animals and children around the world. It would be totally ignorant for any of us to deny this, but crying about it doesn't help them. Conscious observation and loving, focused action does. That's where the open heart takes you.

And that's what being in love really means.

Letting Go of Juvenile Ideas About Love
It's going to sound really, really harsh, but most of humanity isn't out of the cradle with their ideas of love. Some people have made it to somewhere in their teenaged years and gotten stuck. Some core ideas that are getting in the way include:
  • Thinking there's only one person with whom you can share total love
  • Thinking you need a set of reasons or amount of time before you can open your heart to love
  • Thinking love comes from the outside and not from within
  • Thinking that being in love is only romantic and/or sexual
  • Thinking that you always need to be giving love and feel guilty about receiving love
  • Or expecting others to love you first before you can love them
There are many more ideas that serve no other purpose than to keep you cut off from your own love. These limitations don't allow the fullness of love to manifest in your life, and truly love has many, many beautiful faces and manifestations.

The Many Beautiful Faces of Love
The more you are in a state of love, the more you see the beauty in all others. This isn't naive. True love doesn't put on rose-colored glasses. A rape is still horrible. You may see the beauty of the confused souls locked in that horrible circumstance, but you still call the police. In general, the many beautiful faces of love are more like fully loving your child's kindergarten teacher for how she offers herself and works with your child. It may be fully loving writing emails. It may be fully loving cooking. It may be fully loving the postal carrier and your best friend. And fully loving doesn't mean the romantic, sexual thing. Love has so many flavors, and part of awakened love is embracing those many, many different flavors.

Do you start to see how this is? Can you start to feel how this is? Ultimately, being in love is just being in love with each and every moment. It doesn't necessarily mean you are enjoying the moment, but you completely accept it. You're not fighting it. If you're in a car-wreck, you are in love with the moment by fully accepting how you feel, which may be hurt or upset. But you're not closing your eyes and denying it or getting lost in blaming the situation or other drivers. That's what most people do. They try to blame their internal feelings on other people. That's part of the juvenile understanding of love as well. You can tell how much you're still operating from juvenile love by what happens if you partner does something that you don't like. If suddenly you're completely pissed off, then you are being shown where you are at. If you are willing to look at your behavior in those moments, however, you're already taking a big step in expanding your heart and maturing into adult love.

Being in Love Constantly Evolves
Of course, love is always flowing and changing, so how you express love will shift with different people. At one point, love with a partner is about dating, sex, and walks on the beach. At another point, it's letting them go and leaving the relationship. Because if you no longer want to be in a relationship, staying brings pain because now you are denying yourself. You are denying what's in your heart in that moment. The heart won't make you fickle, by the way. It is very strong, and it is no stranger to commitment. For many of you, as you tap into your hearts, you will find that it makes you stay in difficult and uncomfortable situations more often than naught. So don't jump to conclusions that if something isn't feeling good that that means it's time to leave. That's not how this is. Being in love isn't about self-gratification. It simply is about being completely present and accepting what is. In being this in touch with yourself, you can feel the deeper flow of what feels right for you. That lends a quality of effortless to your life that is very beautiful and graceful, and it also offers others a chance to learn from that grace if they so choose.

Being in love is an amazing state to be in. Remember that you can always have this state of being because it always comes from within. Open up your heart to yourself, and you may be amazed by how much love you truly have to offer.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Feeling Awakened and Lost: Finally Seeing the World's Many Lies

I've written on and off about the feeling of being lost after a spiritual awakening. I started off with a blog called: Post-Awakening Challenges: The Lost Gray World of Apathy. In this post, I talked about how we can get energy-depleted and the difficulties that we face internally of being split between holding onto an old sense of self and birthing a new self. Later on, I blogged about how freedom can feel like being lost in Post-Awakening Concerns: Being Lost in Absolute Freedom. Because people have been so used to living in their cages, suddenly being outside and being exposed to life's many possibilities can feel overwhelming at first. What direction do you choose when you suddenly can go anywhere?

In this post, I'm going to help you understand that your awakening has now given you re-newed eyes (they're not new, really. They're the eyes you've had the whole time just without colored glasses skewing what you see). You may now feel lost and disinterested in everything around you, but a lot of that is because you now can see just how much stuff isn't real. And lies and unreality isn't interesting anymore.

Drawing Up Your List of Lies
Here's my latest spiritual tip: write down a list of everything that is a lie or generally feels untrue. This includes ideas, relationships, activities, and so forth. Here are a few examples:
  • The news: It's not that the nightly news is telling all lies. It's the presentation that's the problem. Notice how much fear-based "news" is offered. With billions of things happening every day, the big lie of news networks is that what they have to show is in anyway indicative of all the stories happening on the planet.
  • Your closet. Your closet is a huge collection of cultural stories. Different shoes go with different outfits so that you can elicit different reactions from others. From business wardrobes to night-out-on-the-town clothing, all of these are lies and deceptions until you wake up and truly understand the game you play with yourself and others.
  • Media and cultural ideas of beauty. Following on with the closet, we can generally look at "beauty" physically, in home decor, gardening, car detailing, and more as more lies of beauty. Inner beauty becomes the only real beauty in the world after awakening.
  • Bars and clubs. Bars are supposed to be fun and apparently where people can have fun, find someone to date, i.e. find love. You already see the absurdity to this, yet people return again and again trying to find that fulfillment even though it often means abusing your liver, getting in fights, or finding people who are very unhappy with themselves.

Okay, so that's a couple ways to look at lies. Really, most of the lies are telling you to think a certain way and that you'll be happy if you live a certain way. After awakening, you are very aware that none of this is true, and that's part of why suddenly you feel so lost in it all. None of it is interesting anymore.

Bringing Truth Into Your Life
Bringing truth into your life will help you to feel less lost, and in many respects, this is why I am always encouraging people to find and develop spiritual community if only with one other person. It helps you to manifest what is real. Things that are real are things like love, helping one another, smiles, hugs, laughter, playing, doing the work that you love to do, following your heart, and well, you get the idea. It's all different manifestations of love. It isn't about need. It isn't about making fantasies true. Prince charming is dead. The damsel is no longer locked in the tower guarded by the dragon, and even if she was--dude--it is so not worth the work to try and haul her out of that illusory world.

But initially, the problem is that you still feel committed to this old world. So you go out to the clubs with your old friends. You listen to them gossip and make fun of other people relentlessly. You drink with them. You stay out late and hook up with someone when you're half drunk. By the time you sober up, you feel more terrible than you've ever felt in your whole life. That's assuming that you made it that far into the night because you can probably feel how awful the environment is in most clubs, and you don't want to be there. There's such an amazing amount of old resistance in us that makes us keep doing things that we know aren't healthy or right for us. But we do it trying to get the fulfillment that we think we need and that we're told we'll get from these situations. And the really crazy thing is that after awakening, you truly know that none of this is right for you.

You Can't Wait for the World to Change
The fact of the matter is that if you are reading this, then you are one of the new change-agents in the world. You are going to have to help us bring more truth and love into the world. It doesn't matter what change you want to make so long as it's coming from your heart. This world needs more love and truth in business, date-nights, party games, food and restauranteering, politics, non-profits, and more. There is literally no part of the world that doesn't need to have truth and love brought to it because so many lies are in it. If you wait, you're only going to feel more lost because this is not the time for waiting. This is the time for awakening-embodied action. What does that mean? Do what you love. It's that simple.

Because the world is still run by momentum and inertia. And I don't like where we're going. I think the 20th century's atrocities were a warning, not the culmination of the level of pain and suffering that we can inflict on ourselves. With hundreds of millions slaughtered in that century, you may feel horrified to think that it can get worse, but it certainly can. It may also seem silly that creating a fun way for couples to meet each other in a genuine space would be making a major dent in any of this, but just remember that all changes start small. Just as all atrocities started small. It took millenia to build up the technological know-how to really eradicate lives efficiency. Could you imagine if we'd spent that time focusing on how to help people love and be more kind to each other? I wish we'd had. It'd make life here a lot more fun.

After You Write Your List
After you write up a list of the lies that are in your life (be sure to include your lies about how and what you should be), just keep a check list of how many times you see one of these lies or how you act from that space. If you want to see them up close, do something with an old family member. You'll often see all kinds of ways that you think you should behave to make that relationship work because you think that that's simply how family is. And of course, every relationship is ultimately alive and free-flowing, and when they get stuck or we hold onto them, things get unhealthy for both parties. So much needs to be let go of, and the check list will help you to bring awareness to what exactly needs to go in your life. And sometimes, that will mean letting of old, unhealthy relationships to make new ones, sometimes with the same person because relationships are supposed to evolve.

Coming Out of the Woods and Into Your New Life
The great thing about waking up is that you can suddenly see very clearly. In essence, you are not lost after that. You may still have a lot of things to clean up in your life, but the light is on. I like to describe awakening as flipping the switch on in your house for the first time. Just turning on the lights doesn't clean up all the crap in your life. It simply helps you to see where it is, and that's when the work and self-care comes in. You have to start cleaning up all of it. You can't even really turn the switch off, although some people squeeze their eyes shut and hide under the covers. But you know the truth, and there's no going back from that truth. And honestly, life gets so much more easy when you clean up your internal space. Everything becomes clearer and easier.

So in essence, awakening shows how lost you were. Now you are found, and now you can realize how lost everyone else is. This doesn't come from an ego-space of judgment. The ego would say:

"Oh these unenlightened people are soooo dense. They just don't get it."

Your true self simply says:

"They are lost."

It's just how it is. And if you don't believe me, just look at your history books. Do you really think a world society this isn't lost would have butchered so many of its own kind?

Let Yourself Accept What You Are
Above all else, you have to accept what you are. Let go of these old habits and ways of being. Clean out the closet. You don't have to throw away everything, but you'll know what is no longer appropriate. Now when you put on clothes, you may understand what you are presenting to the world, and you will be able to come at it from a sense of a play. It's just a game. You don't have to take it seriously. You will understand that other people will still take it seriously, and that's there prerogative to do so. You'll also understand that they can make some dangerously bad decisions from that space, so it's not like you're going around making fun of others or in anyway trying to change them. But you see what's going on. In seeing what's going on and trusting yourself, you'll feel a lot less lost. From there, you can make the changes that feel authentic and live in truth to help show the way because if you don't, the others will never learn.

Embrace who you are, so others may one day do the same.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Maturation of the Awakened Heart

Tree Heart
Many moons and a couple cycles around the sun ago, I wrote a blog called The Heart Awakening: Falling in Love With Everyone. It's a lovely piece, and it speaks right to the "heart" of awakening. The initial phase of heart awakening is to fall in love with everything. The melting of our inner separation leads to a melting of outer separation for our hearts. When we love the whole of ourselves, we can love the whole of humanity even if it does not love us back. However, this state rarely stays long. It can last for hours, minutes, days, and months (I had a friend who lasted a couple months in this state of awareness, more or less). Because states are always temporary, things will ebb and flow. Things will also integrate, and since the theme for this year is going to be integration of spirituality for many of you, I'm writing to talk about how your heart will often go through cycles of healing and deeper integration of the awakened state of love.

The First Wave of Love Will Not Be the Last
The first time you feel "true" love you may be overwhelmed. It's like this massive tidal wave washing over everything. It's intoxicating and permeating. You barely know what to do with yourself. You may even forget your own name. You are absolutely saturated by it, and you can know this because you still remember what it feels like to be absolutely dehydrated and parched from lack of it. That's an important thing to remember. To be able to determine what state of awareness you are in, your ego needs to have another reference point. That's part of why initially so many people who think they're in love actually have no idea what love is. They have no other reference points to benchmark what they're feeling. They are unlikely to have even questioned what the "love" they are feeling actually is. Subsequently, a wave of true love hitting a person like this may cause them to completely hide out in their shell for fear of being washed away.

But you will not be washed away. You will be greatly nourished and forced to expand. Much like the way little crabs outgrow their shells at the beach, you will have to find a bigger home and create more space in your heart to fully receive this bounty. This is part of the natural maturation of your awakened heart. Most people don't simply wake up and stay at a given energy vibration. Usually, different waves of awareness and true love wash through you as you make space to hold whatever your natural vibration is. It's definitely not a process that any of us controls in awakening. It simply happens, but much like my metaphor of cultivating a garden, you want to do the best you can to prepare space to absorb as much of the next wave as possible without turning the garden into an untenable bog.

And the Tears Return
Today's metaphor for love seems to be water. Yesterday's metaphor was also water for energy. The two are pretty much the same to me. They're really only slightly different flavors of the same batch of ice cream. Regardless, you may go through more cycles of healing and releasing of emotions. Crying is still one of the healthiest ways I know to let go of old pains. I was making a small amend yesterday with a family member, and I felt in this small apology a release of energy and pain that almost brought me to tears. I simply was with what I was feeling, and it passed. A lot of times these days, I don't actually cry, but I feel the sadness fully. I breathe into it, and it passes. It wasn't always like this, and each cycle brings new intensity. It's like spirit works on one aspect of your soul body, and then the next time it around it works on a completely different part. In that way, it always feels intense and new each time around. I encourage you to trust that newest even though you will suddenly find another layer of vulnerability that you didn't know you had and may feel overcome by emotion once more.

The Stories That Repeat and The Washing Away of Stories
We cage our hearts with so many stories. It's part of why my healing a broken heart and opening a closed heart blog posts are two of my most popular ones. People know that they need to heal from these stories, but they don't know how. Truly our society and upbringing doesn't do us many services in how to open our hearts and let go of old pains. It's all about "toughening up," which only leads to more pain or total numbness. (On another note, awakening love can be super overwhelming for many people because they are going straight from total numbness to total feeling; it's why I try to slowly work students towards opening so that they're ready to finally feel everything.)  But back to the stories, as you deepen your work and open your heart, you may be surprised how many times the same old story is lodged in there. It was fear of intimacy that killed your last relationship, and then you go through a cycle of healing that opens your heart to more intimacy. But the next wave of this awakening energy brings up an even deeper fear of intimacy from a friendship in college. So you work on this. Maybe you call that friend. Maybe you write a letter that never gets sent. Maybe you even go to an energy healer to heal this issue.

There. Done. Over.

Then the next wave comes and more fears of intimacy comes up.

Swearing now ensues. (My Goodness who knew that you knew all those words! ;)

And you find yourself dealing with an issue with your mother from childhood. You are forced to find ways to love her more fully now even though she is passed on. You can't work it out with her directly, but you can do some psychic work if necessary to cut those old unhealthy energy connections that may still be there.

"Yes, yes, yes! My heart is open!" you say afterwards.

Then the next shift comes, and it's still there. Rooted in some ancient familial core issue around getting too close to someone who once betrayed someone. The next story is just a raw feeling of fear. The next after that is so forgotten that it's like black slime at the bottom of your soul, and nothing but love can clean it out. No reason, no technique to use on it. Just love and pure presence.

That Seems Like a Lot of Work
Those of you in awakening know how this goes. It's part of why discipline and commitment to yourself is absolutely crucial on the spiritual path. The old ego self still may not fully believe in you. It may try and tell you that going back is better, or that somehow it will be safer. But the more awakened your heart is (and I really am just talking about the heart, not the mind, body, or how the overall energy awakens), the more you know that there's nothing to go back to except lies and illusion. While some of this heart work doesn't require work at all, it still requires the space in your life to be with it and to be with what is arising in you. Some of it doesn't even require you to experience the feelings to fully release them. While the heart learns through feeling, the maturing awakened heart doesn't get drowned in those feelings. That's just part of the heart's maturation process in embodying awakening. So I encourage you to always trust your emotions, but don't get lost in them.

The Maturing Heart: Loving Endlessly and Accepting Fully
The path of the mature heart is to love endlessly and accept fully. As I constantly remind everyone, this is not a permissive attitude. You still love your child fully when you put him or her on time-out for throwing a baseball through a window in the house. This is strong love. In that same way, prisons are still needed, and grades are still given. However, the mature heart knows how to love to help heal people and offer guidance to those who are ready to receive it. It doesn't enforce its way on others, but it understands the many issues and difficulties of duality. Other people will still be mean and violent. You don't force others to leave this behavior behind. For the most part, doing your work and allowing space to embody love is how you will model new behavior for others. Because truly, people are lost. They don't know how else to be, and until they see other people living their lives from awakened hearts, they're going to continue to do the same destruction patterns over and over. Can you imagine how many people would want to chain smoke if they were awakened in their hearts? It would feel so bad that they just wouldn't even consider poisoning themselves in this way, and you wouldn't need laws and warning labels around smoking. But for now, certain laws are necessary until people fully learn how to love themselves.

In this way, trusting the maturation of your heart regardless of if you are in awakening or not is crucial to changing the world. It doesn't require you to be anything or do anything other than to love yourself fully. Awakened love may be the simplest and most profound gift that you could ever give yourself and the rest of the world.

Today's picture is a gift from a friend.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Thoughts About Resonance from My April Spirituality Newsletter

I think understanding resonance is really important, and I thought my explanation came out well in my recent newsletter. I've copied part of it and put a link to the browser version of it at the bottom of this mini-blog post. If you want to get newsletter each month, it's free to sign up for and easy to unsubscribe from.

You can use this link to sign up for the monthly Wake Up Call.

From the April 2012 Edition of The Wake Up Call:

"You may have heard people say things like, "That really resonates with me." You may have used this phrase yourself, or you may have no idea what this term means. Simply, it means something feels true. However, resonance may not always feel good. Sometimes, the truth strikes us very strongly, and the resounding chord inside of us feels very uncomfortable. Someone can say something so true that you can feel strongly upset--scared, angry, or what-not. In these moments, I refer to this type of resonance as been activated (I use activate and activation very differently than the usual New Age jargon, by the way). This type of resonance is just as important as the one that feels really good, and I'll offer some tips below about how to get better at interpreting resonance and being with it."

Read more from my April newsletter about resonance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Nature of Energy

My last blog touched on the nature of energy, but I wanted to dedicate this post to more fully discussing this point. The nature of energy is to flow effortlessly. I don't intend this post to be any kind of scientific treatise. In truth, science is very limited in what it can explain despite its enormous popularity in many aspects of secular Western Society. That does not devalue its importance, but it simply points out that it is a certain kind of lens or perspective. In any regards, my discussion is--while channeled from spirit--offered through my lens. Subsequently, my thoughts come with their own distinct and limited perspective, but I hope that this will be helpful to those of you as you are opening or those of you who have had an awakening. Because you may suddenly feel so amazing interconnected and not know exactly how to be with that.

Just Being With What Is
The nature of all our barriers and shields is to protect us, and the core error of duality is to think that we need so much protection. I'm not going to say that we don't learn to consciously shield ourselves from the occasional bullets that life fires at us, but the level of "protection" that people think they need is far, far, FAR beyond what is necessary. People are the energetic equivalent of wearing full suits of armor with bullet-proof vests and force-fields around all of that. Subsequently, there is no real flow in their lives. Everything feels forced. But where the spiritual path takes us is towards a removal of all that armor. Each piece that gets taken off will make you feel lighter, more free, and more vulnerable. Most of you will have to get used to being vulnerable. A lot of times people describe an abrupt spiritual opening or healing as making them feel very raw. This can be a time when there's a lot of emotional purging; tears, anger, and fears are coming out. A chink in the armor made enough space for something to leave. It can also become exhausting if you don't know how to replenish your energy. You can make the wrong assumption that something isn't right and that you need to put the armor back on.

But what you really need to learn is how to just be with it. You are tapping back into your natural soul consciousness. You really do know what you need to do, and there is a level of deep relaxation that comes with it. I recently had a very wonderful well-wisher tell me how relaxed my blog makes her. Where does that relaxation come from? While there is a lot of energy in this blog, it is coming from her and the letting go of that armor and shielding. Dropping into that space of natural connection with herself, energy can just flow harmoniously and make the shifts that are appropriate with minimal guidance.

The Nature of Flowing
Energy naturally wants to flow. If there's a metaphor that I think works best, it's that of water. Water just flows. If you dam it up, then more and more water builds behind that dam. A lot of pressure builds up, and it can overwhelm the dam and burst. Then water is flying everywhere and rushing out. Things get messy. This is essentially what many people's spiritual awakenings are like. It's also another reason why people think they need to rebuild the dam. They feel out-of-control and overwhelmed, but the initial parts of awakening are just that: the beginning. Overtime, the water will return to its natural flow, although there will be times of greater and less movement. That's simply the way of life.

As you go through your spiritual path, the removal of internal barriers makes room for more and more flow. This flow is very mindful and intelligent. It doesn't just go wherever and do whatever everyone else is doing. Your internal flow is not a lemming following a bunch of other lemmings off the cliff. I have to imagine that Mahatma Gandhi was very much in the flow, but just look at how much external world resistance he faced. To the points of other great teachers, success in the internal world doesn't necessarily look like success in the outer world. While we don't simply spurn any feedback and reflections that we get from the external world, we do learn to become very attuned to ourselves, our intuitions, and where our natural internal flow is taking us to make sure that external world feedback is actually pertinent and appropriate for us.

Letting Your Guard Down: The Infinite Power of Defenselessness
This subhead can easily be misinterpreted, so let me be clear that this doesn't mean wandering around with a huge stupid grin on your face through a demilitarized zone. This is about letting go of your ego's need to defend everything. It really is trying to defend everything too. It's trying to make sure you only have certain kinds of feelings and experiences and thoughts. Anything new tends to be categorized as a threat. Although for some egos, continuing to do the same-old thing is a threat to them, so they are trying to constantly do something new to defend a viewpoint about how they should be experiencing life.

Just let it all go.

It's not real.

Your own internal flow is already taking you where you need to go. Every place you resist your internal flow is like building a new dam, and if you build too many, you get stuck. So many people write to me and tell me how they feel stuck. But the truth is that they DO know where to go. You really do. But so often we don't do what we're supposed to because we're afraid that it can't be done or that we'll be hurt in some way by doing it. If anything else, I do my best to be a model of how embracing one's fullness is the most powerful and sustainable way of living possible. It's not that your story will look anything like mine, but I believe that the universe provides us with everything that we need when we are fully connected to ourselves. Because when we're fully connected to ourselves, we are also fully connected to everything else. That's the nature of the infinite energy and the fabric of the universe that we're all part of.


A Glimpse Into Jim's Spiritual Path
Many of you have only been reading my blog for a couple of months or maybe even a year. Very few of you have been reading since I officially started in August of 2010. I'd been writing a few blogs before that on this site, but they really weren't oriented the way I write now. I was still doing a lot more self-discovery, and while I still have a lot of unveiling going on inside myself, the primary focus of this blog became teaching and supporting others in mid-August. But in July 2010, I was still resisting this path. I still thought there was something that I needed to learn or some kind of external approval that I needed to be a spiritual teacher. And all of that was nonsense and lies of the ego that were keeping me painfully small. I had no idea how doing this work would support me, and while this work is still growing, the financial means have appeared in other shapes to allow me to do this in the form of freelance writing. In the meantime, I have had plenty of time to take care of my energy and shift more deeply by working at home. It's been an amazing thing to watch how supported and nourished I have been, and of course, all of you wonderful readers and those of you who have become students have done SO MUCH to help support me energetically with your love and kind intentions. So thank you for being very much a part of my process because we are all energy and we are all interconnected. Even though we may never meet or talk to one another, those natural energy connections are always at work.


Becoming Boundless
So that's a little bit about me and how I've had the support of the universe. In truth, I stopped resisting myself. The more you resist yourself, the more divided you are. It makes it impossible to "succeed" at other things, and while I use the term succeed loosely (because it's too narrow of a term in this world), you do know the difference between the ease of life and where life is just a constant struggle. What are you struggling against? The world? No. It's you. You're fighting yourself because you're not thinking, doing, and being as you truly desire. Just let go of that struggle. Let it all go, and let yourself start to enjoy the deeper connection in boundlessness.


Tips for Getting Deeper Into Your Energy Work
I gave a number of tips about energy work for those who are already more defenseless than they know how to handle in my last post. I also wrote to those of you in awakening about rebuilding boundaries awhile ago. While I am not supporting the idea that you have to have new shielding, I do think that it's helpful at times to know how to deflect the general malaise and dis-ease that this world likes to pass around. Most people are taught to try and get rid of their upset feelings by transferring them to someone else. This shows up in a couple of forms such as:

  • Yelling at others
  • Getting in fights
  • Malicious gossiping or office water-cooler bitching
  • Or even overly intense work-outs to try and sweat everything out (I mean really intense. There's a difference between a hard exercise routine, and the person who is just destroying their body so they don't feel what they're feeling)
Here are three more tips for learning about your energy and all the places where you aren't flowing.
  1. Observation. Observation is another term for simply bringing awareness to yourself. Start with just noticing how your body feels on a regular basis. The body is the densest form of energy we have (which is why it can also take the longest to release stuff from there). See where you feel relaxed and easy in your body, and see where you are tight, uncomfortable, or in pain.
  2. Finding the Underlying Issues. For most of us, everything that happens to us gets stored in our physical body, emotional body, intellectual body, and energy body. Each level has to be cleaned out, which is why you can feel like you may deal with issues over and over again. In those places that are tight or in pain, start to explore what thoughts and feelings are associated with those areas. I recommend meditating for at least 15 minutes before doing this, and then focus on a specific area and write down what comes up.
  3. Long Explorations. These explorations may take awhile, and it will usually start with giving yourself the mental space to trust yourself and not write this all off as New-Agey crap. I mean, you can do whatever you like, but if that low-back pain isn't responding to all the physical therapy, massage work, and ice-packs you put on it, it may be time to open up your mind to something else.
  4. Releasing Blockages and Restoring the Flow. This may happen easily or not. Different areas of your body will be ready to release at different times. There are many different tools that you'll need to release things. Sometimes, just talking about it to a friend will help as you vocalize what the pain is about. Sometimes, you're going to need to cry it out. Sometimes, you do need an energy healer like me to help clear the way, although I've found that this is often better as a last resort after you've done as much work on yourself as possible. If you aren't ready to heal a core issue, removing a blockage will be temporary because you'll just re-create it.
Flowing to New Things in Your Life
Most of all, dropping into the flow will feel vulnerable and most likely take you straight into the unknown. You're going to have to give yourself the space to do new things, to NOT feel comfortable in your normal ways of living, and to generally trust the process. As long as you're doing your internal work, you're going to be heading in the right direction, and of course, staying in tune with your inner knowing is absolutely key. However, I've found that the more in the flow I am, the more clear my inner knowing is. I've definitely had some times where I feel a little blind or unclear, but I've found my way through those as well. If you ever feel really unclear, ask for help or for outside perspective. But generally, you do know where you're going and what you really want. The nature of energy is to flow and to be interconnected to everything at all times. Sometimes cold currents pass through, and then hot ones follow. It's that nature of this great big ocean of energy that we're all part of. Trust it, and trust the currents your own life is generating. You'll likely find all that you are really looking for and that which matters most.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Holding Onto Other People's Pain

This post is dedicated to everyone who is super-sensitive. You're the type of person who feels everything going on in the room as if it's your own. You may also be the type of person who shies away from large groups of people because it's too intense, although you may not yet be able to verbalize why it is too intense. To you, this blog post is aimed to help you understand what you are, i.e. what your energy body is naturally doing .Hopefully by the end, you'll have a better understanding of how to not get caught up in other people's pain and how to better take care of yourself.

What Is Your Energy Doing?
I think some of us are naturally designed certain ways. Much like badgers have claws for digging burrows or birds have wings for flying, everyone has different types of energy. Because our overly sensory-focused world doesn't allow itself to think much outside the 5-senses box, this may seem outlandish, but trust me, what is really crazy is to deny what you really are simply because it doesn't fit your current point of view. That denial will lead and has probably already led to a lot of unexplainably uncomfortable situations, so I encourage you to open your minds to these ideas simply to see if those unexplainable things are actually very easily understood.

Back to talking about energy types, some of us are naturally energy movers. When we walk into a space, the energy shifts dramatically around us. These types of people you always know when they're in the room. They can make you both very happy or uncomfortable depending on who they are, how clean their energy is, and how it matches up with your energy vibration. Other energies are extremely sensitive to other people. So, these types of people naturally know how others are feeling. Still others are extremely open and sensitive. So it's like the doors and windows are all open and all kinds of stuff can come into your space. There are even more types of energies as there are billions of types of people, but let's start here.

Paying Attention to Your Energy
The best way to learn about what type of energy you have and what it is doing is to pay attention. In truth, that's kind of the best advice for most of life: Pay attention. The New-Agey way to say this is to bring "awareness" to something or to bring "consciousness" to it. Use whatever term you want, but just do it. It will really help you to find out what's going on, and when you know what's going on, it's much easier to take conscious action.

Because without conscious action, you will be very reactive. You won't know why some situations feel so awful. You won't know if it's something that needs to be healed in you or if it's something that needs to be healed in the space, another person, or something else. It's very easy to make a lot of bad decisions such as totally shutting yourself down. A lot of people do that to their hearts because they feel everyone else's emotions all the time. In getting disconnected from their hearts, they get more and more miserable, subsequently attracting more and more upset, miserable situations to them. It's a nasty downward spiral depending on what you do, and hopefully, you're reading this blog post before you head down that way. If not, we can talk about tips about healing, but you'd best contact me directly so that we can do so privately.


Why You're Holding Onto Pain
People hold onto pain for more reasons under the sun than I can think of. Many times it's because you think you deserve it. You think you should suffer, or you erroneously think that suffering is helping you. There's a big lie called the "No pain, No gain" philosophy, which leads people to torment and punish themselves in the hopes of achieving something. But all achievements are fleeting; only the present moment is real. And the end result is that if you are suffering for 99% of the time for a 1% of the time moment of joy and exuberance, then you're just in a whole lot of pain. And that's sad, and that's not what this life is about.

Other reasons people hold onto others' pain is because you think you're helping them. You're not. And if you think you are, just look at all the people who transformed because they had so much pain that they finally faced it, let it go, and became an amazing symbol or leader for people. Ishmael Beah's story called "A Long Way Gone" talks about how much healing is needed for child soldiers. I recommend it as an example of how someone can overcome immense pain, but it's not a fun read.

And specifically to energy, you are holding this pain in your energy body. I remember one student who when she lost a lot of weight, she was also energetically letting go of a romantic partner. It was one of her little realizations along the way about how much she was energetically holding in that relationship. And many people do this naturally as they come to similar vibrations with a close partner. But this kind of harmonization isn't healthy, and it, ultimately, does not serve your partner.

Clearing Your Space: Every Level Needs Work
If you're new to these ideas, then you will have pain to clear from every level. It will start at the mind level where you have to face a lot of ideas that think you're helping or that if you heal, then you'll lose someone or something. But playing small helps no one on this planet, and it is just another ego game that will make you suffer for your whole life. Free yourself from suffering by noticing the thoughts you have about what types of pain you should or have to endure. Then start to work your way down into the core issues. You'll work your way down into your heart to see how it's closed or wounded. You'll have to learn how to let go of pain there. For instance, just because a close friend is going through difficult chemotherapy doesn't mean that you need to emotionally carry that. Your tears for her aren't helping. They may have become a spreading of the dis-ease if you are caught up in your friend's victim story. This doesn't mean we become cold-hearted. Instead, we are learning how to be strong-hearted: to love fully and completely without carrying the emotional burdens that others are meant to carry.

Of course, we can't forget the body. Whether it's too much exercise, too little food for your body, or too much weight, pain can manifest in many ways. Finding balance is vital there, and then after those levels, there's the energy body which is constantly being influenced by the energies that are all around.

Focusing on Your Energy and Clearing It
Well, this post has needed a lot of build-up to set the frame. We've just got a little more. Energy is ultimately like water or air. It just flows. The more crap is it, the less easily it flows. A bog doesn't flow very well, does it? It just sits and festers. A lot of people's energies are like bogs. They're wide open to all kinds of sources of fluids and discharges, and the build up of heavy, dense energy has the water becoming more and more stagnant and putrid. It's a disgusting feeling, but if you've never experienced yourself being clear of these things, you won't be able to really tell the difference. As you clear out though, you'll notice dramatic differences and start to wonder how you could ever have absorbed so much pain.

Here are a couple of ways we absorb pain and get drained:

  • Negative friends and co-workers. Being around people who are always upset and complaining is toxic. Those words are just another form of energy, and listening to it without conscious awareness is a pollutant.
  • Physical punishment. Whether through sports or difficult work, we can punish ourselves badly because we think we have to do it to earn money, succeed, or even have fun (I'm thinking of some extreme sports for this last one).
  • People in pain. While negative people are often in pain, this bullet refers to those who are always suffering from an ailment or difficult situation. There world is always falling down on them (or so it seems), so they draw on other people's energies to support them.
  • Negative or dense environments. Some regions have been so full of pain for so long that those echoes are still there. There are certain places in different cities that I simply don't like going to because of how draining they are.
There are many other instances, and how you learn to consciously open and close to them approporiately will become key to your own healing.

Three Quick Tips for Clearing Your Energy
Let me offer a couple quick tips to help you clear the debris out so that things can start to flow and to heal.
  1. Visualization meditation. Visualize a cord of light from the universe/heaven/God/source running through the crown of your head and out the base of your spine into the center of the Earth/Mother Gaia. Imagine any darkness inside of you running down the cord into the fires of the center of the Earth and the cleared spaces being refilled by beautiful light coming in from your crown.
  2. Psychic Clearing. This is another type of visualization. I suggest getting comfortable with the first before doing this one. Do that first visualization, and then for this one, pay attention to where you feel attached to external people and situations. Imagine using a giant pair of scissors to cut those strings, and then imagine a bandage going over the space on you where the string was attached to protect it and not allow the connection to come back.
  3. Leaving the Old, Embracing the New. If things or habits are too negative, you may have to leave them. But in leaving, be sure to find something new to replace it. Many relationships, habits, and situations came into our lives to fill certain needs. Those needs still need to be met, so be sure to find something healthy or healthier to replace what you're removing from your life. If you're quitting smoking (which is horribly polluting to your energy system), then add in more time in nature as a compensation for the habit or something like that.
Breathing a Little Easier
This work makes it easier to breathe and relax. It's amazing sometimes how much pain we carry inside of us and how much pain we may be carrying this isn't even ours. Many of you who like to "help" others will be challenged by this. You'll have issues come up around abandoning others, but you're not. You're actually un-abandoning yourself. When you do that, truly you're becoming a more powerful agent of change and love than you can imagine. I encourage you to trust the process, and I encourage you to bring a whole lot of awareness and love to this process. It may not be easy especially if you've never even thought about things in this way. In truth, you don't have to think about things in the way that I suggest. What I am really getting at is helping you to see a different perspective so that you can start to develop your own ideas past the initial set of assumptions and social ideas that you've grown up. Healing the mind is often the first step as we learn to let go of pain, and as you get down to the core energy of things, you'll start to be able to really see yourself, possibly for the first time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Illusion of Control

It's time we hit a big topic together, and that topic is control. Control is everywhere. It's all around us, but more importantly it's in us. It's one of the most pervasive aspects of fear, which seeks to protect you from...well, just about everything. In a world full of fear, control is the unconscious response to provide safety against any and all threats, and those threats range from arguments to fights to food shortages to money losses in the stock market. Subsequently, the disguises of control are many, and yet for all of these attempts to make life safer, control ultimately fails because it's an illusion.

Beginning to Peel Back the Layers of Illusory Control
Look, I'm not going to be able to convince you of control as an illusion. You're going to have to go out and do your work to find out for yourself. With that said, if you are so bold as to take this one on, you're going to find that it has many, many layers. There are control issues out there from the head to the heart to the body and even to the energy body. It's a deep-rooted, nasty issue, but it's gotta come out. It's kind of like a rotten old structure that keeps trying to collapse, but we keep propping it up thinking that we need it. We don't. And it's inhibiting our growth.

Layer 1 almost always starts with the mind. This is where a lot of our fears live, and subsequently, this where we spend a lot of time creating techniques and strategies to prevent those fears from manifesting in our lives. Let's take money as an example since it's so commonly a concern with people. Money represents a lot of things such as independence and power, but deeper still, it represents your ability to provide for yourself. In most of Western society, you need money whether it's the money of someone else supporting you or from a job (which technically is still someone else supporting you). There's a whole load of fears associated with it, so the unconscious control mechanism is often to find ways to not make money a concern. Here are a couple ways that can manifest:
  1. You are miserly. You never want to give money away for fear of losing it permanently. This can be a trait that anyone from the super rich to the super poor may have.
  2. You are a big spender. Spending can be a way that you show yourself that you don't have money issues or that you deserve certain recognition in society as appearing to be wealthy and powerful. You may also be doing this as a way to stay around people with money in the hopes that somehow that will rub off on you or you can get money from them so that you won't have money issues. This example is about controlling others' perspectives of you.
  3. You are a work-aholic. One way to try not to have a lack of money is by working all the time. Even if you are very rich, this trait can continue on. From the outside, it will look ridiculous, but that's how fear is.
And still there are many more manifestations of control for money. Some of the examples above may seem really absurd, but that's what control does to us. It makes us very much insane.

That Was Only One Layer, There Are More
Yet, that's just a small window into the ego's use of control at the mental plane. The ego does a lot of work through the mind to control everything. Lots of people are trying to control their bodies to look a certain way so that they get a certain type of social approval. This is huge with women, but our superficial society has gone to great lengths to help make men more superficial about their bodies. Why do you think there are so many protein supplements now on the market? Guys weren't eating all that additional protein even 15 years ago, so you can see what's happening as the body-builder facade has taken control of guy's ideas about physique, power, sexuality, and social approval.

And with the heart, we do all kinds of things to control our hearts so that we don't end up in situations where we feel uncomfortable. It's like how two people who have a bad divorce may avoid certain places because they're afraid of running into each other. It can make their behaviors really ridiculous, but this is simply what we've learned to do. We've learned to run from discomfort and fear, but the spiritual path takes us right back into it if we truly want to grow.

Letting Go of Control on the Spiritual Path
Perhaps, this blog post is your final excuse for doing this, and you can just let go of all that control. This doesn't mean that you're out of control. We are still very, very conscious and deliberate people when we let go of control, but instead, we're not constantly trying to create certain outcomes or conditions. For instance, we won't go to work always trying to produce the same amount every day or make the same amount of money. This, of course, starts to upset the balance in the business world, but that's okay. It's completely out of whack anyway. In many ways, all of our current structures (business, governments, families, and organizations of all kinds) are set up to control things and ensure things happen a certain way. I don't know about you, but conscious guiding (like what they do to switch which tunnel from sending one lane of traffic to two lanes of traffic East at different times a day at the Caldecott Tunnel) is definitely okay. But all the other manipulation and control that goes into forcing outcomes is totally unhealthy and makes us mean-spirited and cruel. And as I said, letting go of control doesn't mean we become out of control, but it will feel really really different.

Consider this: how much more comfortable is a relationship when your partner isn't always trying to get you to do something or be something? Or how much more comfortable is it when you're not feeling like you're struggling to get your partner to do something? It feels way better, right? And again, this isn't synonymous for complacency. I totally understand that this is a new way to view life because most all of us have been taught control at such a deep level that we have no idea what it feels like without it.

Those of you "living out of control" aren't necessarily doing so either. In many respects, you're probably bucking the system or the aspects of control that you see. That's still a level of control. You're trying to control your experience in a different way through this rebellion. Being truly free is not to be in opposition to external forces. It isn't permissive, but it simply sees what is. Freedom allows you to make conscious choices about when to engage with systems of control like taxes--there are pros and cons to not paying them; I prefer to pay them. That's a conscious decision as opposed to saying, "Screw the government. They can't have my money."

5 Tips to Engaging With Control
But as I said, I know this is a new issue to look at. For many people, control is seen as a good thing. Athletes who can control their bodies in certain ways can make lots of money. Entrepreneurs who can control their profits are given more money and acclaim. For many years, raising children was about controlling and molding them, and I'm sure many people view school systems as mechanisms to control thinking. As I said in the beginning, there is control everywhere, but the most important part is the control that you are doing within you to be a certain way and to act a certain way. That's always the first and last place to start, and here are few quick tips.
  1. Just starting to notice. Pay attention to where you try to control things in your life.
  2. Journal. Write down what those things are that you are trying to control, and then start digging into the reasons as to what you want and what you are trying to make happen.
  3. Family and lineage research. Start to research where these traits come from. Most often, they're coming from the family. See if you can discover key events that happened in your family that have influenced these traits. The point isn't to blame anyone. Just keep noticing.
  4. Start small. Find a small area in your life that you're trying to control, and see if you can let go of control. This isn't like eating whatever you want whenever. This is more like letting go of the idea of how hard you think you need to work out, but you still continue to exercise.
  5. Notice the results. Do your small change (or heck, it can be a big action) for awhile, and notice how you feel. Write this down to log your process and to help you get a sense of progress (which isn't really what the spiritual path is about, but it may help make you feel good.

Eroding Control and Meeting the Fear Issues
You will most likely find fear hiding under control. It's telling you that you won't be okay if you let go, but you will. In truth, control hasn't made you any safer. But you need to discover this for yourself. I can't tell it to you in a blog post. I can only tell you that in my own experiences letting go of control has made my life more ease-full and beautiful and ultimately way more relaxing than trying to manipulate and control every little thing to make me feel safe. Control can't keep difficult experiences anyway. They're part of life, and sometimes, the difficult things are the very things that inspire us to grow and become more amazing in our lives. In that way, control often shuts out the very things you need for your growth, and what a shame it is to not be able to fully embrace our beauty that comes with experiencing the whole life. So take a chance on yourself, and let go of the illusion of control.

Kung Fu Panda and Control
Now, let's have some fun. Please enjoy this clip about "control" from the DreamWorks Animation movie, Kung Fu Panda.



Monday, April 9, 2012

Spiritual Organizations and Redevelopment

This is a different blog post than usual. It's my invitation to you to take a different look at things. Recently I was rather overwhelmed by a huge church in Oakland. It's the kind of huge edifice that I imagine that Jesus never taught in. As I recall, he was usually getting kicked out of churches since he was being a reformer for Judaism and generally speaking the Truth. I don't know what he would think now-a-days of the monstrosities that get built in his name. I can't imagine he'd be very happy. Because the spiritual path isn't about building expensive monuments. Monuments to God are built through acts of kindness, feeding the hungry, and housing the homeless, not in gigantic cathedrals.

In this vein of thinking, I want to encourage you to re-think how you use your money and your energy as we come together to develop a new vision for this world.

Spiritual Teachers Can't Do Everything
I think people get very narrow ideas of what the spiritual path looks like. Some people seem to think that a spiritual awakening means that they have to be a teacher or healer. You don't. You have to be what you truly love. It's a beautiful thing really. God doesn't want you to do something that isn't in your heart because if you are not moving from love, you are not truly serving yourself or God. So long as you've done your work to understand why you do what you do and what you love, life can become extremely simple. Many people simply love serving, and there are so many ways that this world needs to be served.

For instance, we need people coming together for redevelopment. "Redevelopment? Like business redevelopment of a downtown?" you might ask. Yes. Exactly. Could you imagine if spiritual organizations like churches who can gather an amazing amount of money got involved in redeveloping downtowns out of a sense of service? Maybe it already happens (if so, please message me), but it would really change the purpose of the project. Perhaps, they let the money be a donation, and because they're not focusing on making back a return on investment, that would very likely change what type of organizations could afford to rent in that area because the rental structural would very likely be lower. Housing could naturally be available at lower cost, and there wouldn't be such a huge focus on expensive condos and what-not to pay back investors and cater to only a very affluent section of society. Spiritual organizations leading redevelopment could very likely be a way to fund and reinvigorate community in a new way.


Steal This Idea: Make Others
I make no claims to this idea, so you are welcome to steal it. Make something like this happen if you are in a spiritual organization or perhaps one day you will. Use it then. I want you to make ideas like this. I want you to think outside the box, but I also encourage to respect the box that we got. For instance, money isn't going away. It's just not, so don't get lost in the idea that money is evil. It's just a tool like a hammer. You can build a house with it, or you can hit someone in the face. It doesn't make the hammer evil. All the hammer shows is what is in the heart that is guiding the hand that's using it. There are plenty of other things not going away such as bonds, stocks, and different investment tools. We can use all of these to serve spirit. We just will now be doing it with more integrity.

In general, there is no aspect of our society that doesn't need enlightenment and which couldn't greatly benefit from it. Certain things like chemical weapons manufacturing would probably go away, but enlightened work with chemistry and manufacturing would still be there. I really, really encourage you to look at yourself and the talents you have, and then meld them into some of the tools that already exist. You can transform them from the inside out, and in truth, transformation always comes from within.

Not Demonizing Others and Industries
If you want to stop your spiritual growth, then get lost in demonizing corporations, governments, and ideas. Just keep saying that so-and-so is evil, and you're blinding yourself. You can't see the Truth. The Truth is that we're all one, and that we all need to be healed. You aren't going to drag anyone down this path, and in many respects, you will have to stand up strongly against those who would harm you. But don't over-react to these situations, and don't get lost in the ideas of fighting and struggle. You will only create more of it. It's best to learn how to meet the demands of an intense situation, and then when it is done, let it go. Most people will disappear from your life when you no longer need them to be part of your dualistic struggle for good (good with a little "g" because this is just your ego's idea of good).

Because the opportunity that can come up is that people can surprise you when they are no longer the enemy. They may see the value of your ideas over time as your persevere to create a new daycare center, protect a rainforest, or re-allocate school board funding to special education. Whatever it is, it really is about the "how." How you do something is everything, and that's part of what shifts the energy of this world. It's one of the ways that even in "losing," you are still winning at the deepest and most important depths.

Giving Yourself Freedom to Think Big and Small
We need to learn how to think big and small. Big is like a large spiritual organization contributing heavily to downtown redevelopment. Small is how we listen to a co-worker in a toxic office environment to begin to bring more kindness and awareness into that space. A lot of these actions need time, and I really encourage you to practice patience if you've come to this point that you're ready to share with the world. The world is used to operating in certain ways, and we're going to need a lot of patience to reverse the momentum that we've been building up for centuries. A lot of people won't think your ideas will work, or they won't like them. That doesn't matter. What matters is that you begin to dream up these new ways of doing things, and then you map out a plan and take little steps to get where you're going. And just in case you need a little help in thinking of ideas, here's a short list off the top of my head of where more consciousness is needed:

  • Enlightened farmers--raising food ethically and with as much purity as possible (clean water, natural seeds, healthy bees, etc.)
  • Enlightened entrepreneurs--creating sustainable businesses that support the greater community and don't sacrifice others or the environment for short-term gains (short term can mean even 20 or 30 years, we have to think really long-term on this one)
  • Enlightened politicians--guiding our cities, counties, states, and governments towards cooperation and harmony 
  • Enlightened teachers--helping students of all kinds to learn and to learn how to think for themselves in a world increasingly filled with noise and lies
  • Enlightened parents--helping children to grow up to be healthy individuals who can live and act from their hearts
Here's a start. That should get your brain going. Just about any job from janitor to IT manager to video producer can be enlightened. It's a broad, broad space, and every level of humanity needs this new awareness to be infused by it because there's just too much for only a couple of spiritual teachers to make all this change.

The Freedom to Recreate Our World
Most of all, I'm encouraging you to embrace the freedom to recreate our world. We're not always going to agree. Harmony isn't born from egos all agreeing conceptually. It is born from honoring all paths and moving from a space of love. Things are going to get intense and hot these next couple of yeas in my humble opinion, and it's also going to be this very pressure that's going to allow us to turn up the heat enough to burn away the old and make space for the new. Maybe extremely affluent churches will get into the redevelopment game to help build the new and true monuments to God through service to the local community. Maybe there will be other big changes. Who knows it all? But you do know your piece of the puzzle, and now is the time to embrace it and do it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spiritual Growth Through Embracing Your Karmic Relationships

It's time for another blog about relationships. It's always a popular subject although I encourage you to think of "relationships" as all of your relationships with other people and perhaps also the relationship you have with yourself. People are so torn up inside that they often have multiple aspects of themselves, which all offer you lessons and mirrors about yourself. But without going too deep into that level at the moment, I think most of you know that a lot of unhealthy things currently exist in relationships. Typically, the closer you are to someone, the more issues get ignited and brought up. It's kind of a pressure cooker to be really close to someone and spend a lot of time with them. That's often the way romantic relationships are, so in this post, I want to turn your attention to the amazing opportunity that these and other relationships present.

What Are Karmic Relationships?
I think I've been spending a lot of my time in recent blogs defining stuff, but that's okay. I'm often using words in different ways than they've been used, so I want to make sure we're relatively on the same page. In general, there's lots of misunderstandings between people who think they're saying the same things and are using the same words. So if there's ever a question that you have about how I'm using a word, feel free to leave a comment. I'll do my best to clarify.

Oh, right. What's a karmic relationship? It's about 96% of all relationships going on. It's a relationship brought together in the interests of facing mutual or counterbalancing karmas and/or issues. And these relationships are unconsciously formed. I don't know too many people who choose friends based on how much they'll help kick them in the butt and force them to grow. For karma, I'm not necessarily talking about it as a past life thing, although it can be. I don't like to get down into those nuances initially because the first step for many of you will be to notice what relationships you've brought to you. The ones with mutual karmas will be those where you and a friend, partner, colleague, or whoever both have the same issue. Maybe you're both afraid to date the people you want to date. Maybe you both are very soft-spoken and are afraid to use your voices. That's an example of mutual karmas. A counter-balancing or matching karma is where a specific dynamic is at play. So the mother's son who is very weak-willed is in a relationship with a very controlling Type A woman. The hidden gift is that he's found someone who can teach him about how to stand up for himself, and she's found someone who's going to teach her about how to let go of control.

Of course the problem in 99% of these situations is that the people don't know that they're doing any of this.

Bringing Awareness to Your Relationships
This is why I said that step one is bringing awareness to your relationships. Until you understand who you're drawing to yourself and why, it's going to be tough to make changes for yourself within those relationships. Naturally, you should also be drawing attention right back to yourself. Many of these relationships should be viewed as mirrors no matter how good, bad, or down right ugly they look. You can use the many relationships in your life as amazing tools to see different aspects of yourself. Where you see repeated themes (all your friends feel powerless and controlled), you most likely have the same issue. Even when that issue may hide behind being very controlling, you too have the same issue, and these relationships are your many opportunities to work them out if you choose to do so and sometimes even if you don't. Life occasionally pulls some of us along to do the work regardless of any intellectual decisions we make. It's best to just go with it and to make the conscious decision to work on these things; it can help make things a little less messy in the long run. Or not. :)

Can't Run Away From Yourself
But of course many of you don't think you're just operating in karma. You've got nice friends and a nice romantic partner, and in general, you think your life is just fine. Great. There's a new dog video up somewhere on the Internet. Go watch that instead of reading this blog.

Still here?

Okay. Well, you must still be here for a reason, so there must be some part of you that doesn't want to run away to a puppy video just yet. And that's a start. It may put you light-years ahead of most other people who run from one relationship to the next. It's especially bad in romantic relationships. Things get hot; people see parts of themselves in their partners that they don't like see--or heck they may finally actually SEE who their partner really is when one of their projected illusions about the person breaks down; and then they bail. It doesn't give anyone a chance to learn, grow, and complete in the relationship. Which usually means the person goes and finds someone who is very similar to teach them the same lessons.

Completing in a relationship doesn't generally mean flipping someone the bird (a nasty American gesture meaning "fuck you") and driving off. Completion is very neutral. It's a beautiful space where you feel very at peace that you're done in a relationship. Usually most people can't even be with that because the ego will run in with 19 reasons why you should stay or why this is now running away. But you'll know and feel the difference.

Doing Your Own Work: The Right Partners Will Appear
Because everyone is busy worrying about having the right romantic partners to do spiritual work, we'll start there. But I have to emphasize that EVERY relationship in your life is important as a mirror, and some things may be easier to work out through a friendship than in a romantic partnership. Some issues need the intensity of romantic partnership to burn up or to be forced out of hiding. We're really good at hiding too in this society. So our crappiest and shittiest stuff can hide out way down at the bottom of the internal well of ours, and until someone and some situation squeezes the Hell out of us, it won't come up (I sure am swearing a lot; guess, it's just getting real today). Seriously, this stuff doesn't want to go even though you ultimately do want to let it go even if you don't know it now.

But you can't expect your current romantic partner to want to do this work, and it's not okay to try and force anyone to do this type of work. Your job is to notice when you get really upset and to spend time through meditation, spiritual friends, journaling, and what-not to get to the root of why something upset you. Saying that so-and-so is just being "a dick" doesn't count. So long as there isn't physical violence (in those situations, you just have to leave this person; you're not a punching bag), most of what people do is ego-bash each other. So pay attention to what feels hurt or invalidated. Why did you need to feel validated by this other person? No one is always going to like you or everything that you do. It's just not how this world works.

Gathering Your New Friends and Spiritual Community
In a recent newsletter, I talked about the importance of spiritual community and how you can create one for yourself. A spiritual community can simply be you and your mother. It doesn't have to be an ashram full of people or a convent somewhere. Usually at the outset, you don't have a lot of people who want to do this work with you. You're going to have to go and seek others out, and that alone will take you outside of your comfort zone. You can start by paying attention to what makes you feel comfortable in a relationship and why. You can pay attention to what new people feel "safe" to you. What is safety? What does that mean? Is it just familiarity? If so, then most of that is probably built out of experiences with your family growing up, which may or may not actually be nourishing and healthy for you. There's so much to pay attention to in relationships. You can notice how you:
  • Get into relationships
  • Participate in relationships
  • Decide to leave a relationship
  • Actually leave a relationship
As I said, this isn't just romance. This is all relationships, and this can tell you a lot about yourself and the karmas and issues that you have to work on.

Evolving Into New Relationships
The beauty of this work is that you will evolve and be able to participate in different relationships. The relationships I engage in now are very different from 5 years ago. A lot of that is because of letting go of old karmas and issues. As you go, you get more freedom in how you actually choose relationships. The old projections that you put on different people start to become more obvious, and you break those patterns. You start to see people more for who they really are even if they don't really see you. Then, it becomes a much more powerful relationship to connect with others because you know what you're about and why you're connecting. It also becomes more and more about choice.

You see, love is the easy part. Many of you who are awakening will go or are going through a deep time of intense love for everyone. The more you make space for that, the more love simply is what is. It's everywhere and in everyone and everything. But instead of meaning that you just want to love everyone, you actually become very discerning about your needs in relationships and what relationships you want around you. You can clearly see what relationships are most true for you and other people, and you'll naturally gravitate towards that type of relationship. If the relationship is a business relationship, that's what will start to be created through the situations that show up. If it's a romantic relationship, then that's what will start to grow. You won't be forcing or controlling anything, but you will be choosing and guiding things as appropriate. It's a brand new type of relationship for much of the world, and it is the carrot that is being held out on a stick in front of all of us.

Letting Go of Old Patterns
However, there's a lot of work to be done. If you're new to this blog (or even if you're not), I really recommend checking out my Starting Out section. Few people can just let go of karma and be done with it. We all are way too much like velcro; everything gets latched on to us. But as I said, the gift of karmic relationships is that they're offering you the very opportunities you need to figure out your issues. All the people right now who are in your life are the perfect teachers to help you break out of the shell of ignorance and karma and to move into the light and love of your true self. So the next time you are upset that you don't have the right friends or romantic partner, stop and be grateful. Be grateful and pay attention, and if you truly are ready to grow and let go of old pains, then these people are your most sacred and important helpers to doing just that.
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