Friday, August 31, 2012

Spiritual Awakening Blog Under Renovation

Hey all. One of my students and I are updating the blog. So pardon our dust for awhile. Once it all gets ironed out, I'd be happy to hear your feedback about the new design.

Much love to you all!


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lost in Logic: Breaking Out of Old Mental Constructs

Let's get a couple of things straight from the get-go:

you are not your mind,
your ego and your mind are different, and
you are not your ego.

Make sense? Well, an ego is a collection of memories, personality traits, and choices that we all create, and then we decide that this is who we are. The mind is a tool for remembering, categorizing, doing math, sending signals to perform motor skills like talking and walking, and so forth. In this sense, I consider the brain and the mind to pretty much be the same thing. None of them--brain/mind, ego--are all of you. They are simply tools to help you through this amazing world and this walk of life.

Lost in Logic and Made-Up Things
However, many people get lost in the realm of the mind and made-up things like logic. It's often very disappointing to people who live in this realm to find out that they can't explain everything, that not everything fits in a black or white scenario, and that science can not, in fact, actually explain everything. Even now, some of you are cringing or are wanting to argue with me, but how do you quantify the color blue? How? If you use a bunch of words and ideas, all that does is point to something. Those words aren't blue, and they can't quantify it.

The point is that logic will only get you so far. Don't get me wrong; it's useful. Logic and scientific rules are very helpful. They allow us to have functioning cars based on proof. I am more than a little happy that my car doesn't blow up when I start it because logic has helped to determine the appropriate combustion chamber to funnel the on-going explosion into energy that takes me to the mall and not up to the spirit plane (i.e. blowing me up). So we aren't throwing the baby out with the bath water (God, that's an awful saying; where did it come from? Anyone know?). We are simply returning a tool to its rightful place in the toolbox.

Coming to the Edge of Logic and Looking Down
Here's a scenario. I had no logical reason to not go to a dance event in northern California in the June of 2010. In fact, logic said that this would be something I'd enjoy as I'd be dancing and out in nature. How would that not be fun? But I had an intuition that I needed to stay close to home. No rationale can explain that intuition, but I've long since learned to trust it. So I did. And I came down with appendicitis at the time of that event.

While you can never really know how things would have worked out with a different set of choices, I choose to assume that I would have gotten appendicitis if I had gone to this event and that by staying home, I put myself in the exact place I needed to be to get help. These are just assumptions that I'm willing to make, and I see no reason not too. And I'm using this example to illustrate the edge of where logic can go. Logic can go within the known. That's primarily where most people function with their minds, although the mind can dream and have visions. It actually is a much broader tool than its generally given credit for. In one of my posts, I even encourage using imagination as a spiritual practice because it's a wonderful way to step out of the constraints of logic and to stretch ourselves, our visions, and our minds. Because if you stay behind the iron bars of logic, you will quickly get trapped doing only what you know and what appears to be safe and proven to work within these narrow confines. And ultimately, that's too small a space for any of you to fully be you.

Feeling the Edges of Your Life
This week seems to have me writing about the barriers and edges of people's lives. Many of you have always felt constricted and trapped. Maybe you learned to live with it because people told you that you had to. You just have to go to that miserable job like everyone else. It's just the way it is. False. Ultimately, that's not even logical. It's so fear-based that logic can't even help because there are just too many examples of people out there willing to try knew things and who already live in different ways. The 9 to 5 world, for example, is still a relatively new phenomenon historically speaking. There are many centuries where no human being ever lived in that kind of work confinement. I'm not saying that there haven't been perks with that type of work scenario--there always are if so many us buy into it--but it's not the only way to earn a living and support yourself. Even logic will show that last statement to be true.

All the Ideas that You Have About You
But where this post is really headed is encouraging you to look at the ideas that you have about yourself. Look at all your "logical" suppositions about who you should be and how you should live your life. For instance...ladies..."I have to be pretty."

Sit with this one for a moment.

So many of you...probably most of you have this "logical" statement so deeply rooted in yourself that that statement sounds true. This is a big problem. Because it's a total lie. You can enjoy being "pretty" by cultural standards if you choose to do so, but you don't have to be that way. I encourage you to write down all the things you do to be pretty. Write out how much money is invested in being pretty and how much time is spent being pretty. You may be shocked at how much energy is being invested in a lie. This one idea is absorbing huge amounts of women's energy all over the world.

Typically, the big lie for men that more and more women are unfortunately accepting is that "I have to make a lot of money." The deeper one is "I have to make money," which is only true to a point (There are many ways to be financially supported). So men, and as I said, more and more women are trying to make 6-figure incomes to support this lie, and there is a plethora of logic that is built up on top of it to support the lie. Consequently, that lie makes people try to get into certain schools, get certain types of degrees (ahem...MBAs?), get into certain types of jobs, and so forth. It's why when many people have awakenings that their whole world crashes down. They no longer believe in lies or the so called logic that go them to this point. And look at how much energy has been put out by you in support of it. It's immense!

Better to start letting go of old mental constructs and logic that do not serve you now before your whole world explodes.

Bringing Out the Journal Once More
As always, I encourage people to journal. If you can't write down your thoughts and be completely honest with yourself, you can't really be honest with anyone else. This is a good way to get logic and the mind back into their proper roles. Write down all of your assumptions about yourself and about life. Just look at them. That's step one. You're just bringing awareness to them. Then actively question each assumption. Question whether it matters what you look like, how much money you make, where you live, what gadgets and toys you have, how many push-ups you can do, and so forth. Be brutal. It's better that way. Really dig into it now before life throws you that curve ball pitch that you couldn't fathom. Strange, random, and tragic things happen all the time, and building space to accept life in its amazing, beautiful, and terrible craziness is critical to the spiritual path. It's critical to simply being able to accept life as it is without trying to force it into an idea.

I always like the example of when someone does something that totally surprises a friend or loved one. The friend says, "I never thought that person would do that." Surprise, your idea of this other person was too small. You did not see them fully. You were seeing what you wanted to see, and now you just started to see more of them. Time to journal that out too.

The Jail Cell Begins to Crumble
One of the amazing points that some of you may come to and others have come to is this: knowing that you don't know. It's a step on the journey, and it's a powerful one. Because at last humility is sneaking into your life. It's crept out of your heart and infiltrated the mind to let you know that your thinking is too small. It is not adequate to fully explain or describe all of life. But as I said, we don't throw away a shovel once we realize that it can't spraypaint our cars. We simply begin to appreciate what it can do, and that actually empowers the mind to a new level of awareness.

My mind can memorize stuff and do all kinds of cool things. But it cannot define who I am. I am too big. Words and ideas can't fully encapsulate me. That's why I often describe terms like "spiritual teacher" as just clothing. But maybe that's too encapsulating. Maybe you can consider that term to be just a pinky ring or a mitten? You see? It hardly encompasses any of me, and that gives me so much more freedom to simply be.

So I encourage you to turn inwards. Look at the mental walls that you've erected. Look at your assumptions about yourself, your life, and life in general. Take out the proverbial sledgehammer, and start knocking them down. Then see just how much more space and room to breathe you suddenly have.

Today's lovely photo comes from my student, Jenn.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spirituality and Humor: Finding Laughter in Your Life

I'm not sure what I'm doing, but it sure looks ridiculous.
Awhile ago, I wrote an allegory called, "Awakening the Fool." It was a fun piece to write. As always, I like writing stories, and it's a nice switch up from the way I usually write these blogs. Along those lines, this blog is a switch in tone to honor the lighter side of life. Many of the topics that I write about are very serious, and that's not a bad thing. But spirituality is in all things, and that includes humor. Life is a funny, wild, and ridiculous adventure as much as it is serious, deep, or tragic at times. So we all learn the importance of laughing and enjoying the silliness that we create and that is presented to us.

Learning to Laugh at Ourselves
If you can't learn to laugh at yourselves, you're going to have a very long and dreary life. I, for one, am quite ridiculous (case in point, look at the above picture). Many of the people who know me best know how silly and stupid I can be. I consider it one of my defining traits, although I certainly don't need any definitions to be me. :) Consider how often you make mistakes or have mishaps, and use those moments to laugh at yourself. Whoops, I just ran my shin into my bed this morning. Haha. Oh well. Time to get ice for it.

And it's not that you're just laughing at pain. You're learning to laugh at everything. Laugh at the good things, and laugh at the bad things. I will say that humor does change during awakening. A lot of the things that really were about suffering won't be funny anymore. I think there's quite a bit of suffering that is portrayed as funny in sitcoms these days. There are more than a few shows that I've seen on and off that seem simply cruel and not funny, such as how wives berate husbands or men pull vicious pranks on each other. Those types of things are coming from the space of pain, and that kind of dark and sarcastic humor definitely loses its humorousness.

Finding Others to Laugh With
If you want a simple and fun spiritual practice for humor, just find a couple of friends and have a laughing club. You don't even have to have an object to cause the laughter. Just start laughing. People always say that laughter is infectious, and really, it's kinda hard not to start laughing if a bunch of people are laughing in the room. However, it is interesting what darkness gets called out of someone who really resists laughing. This kind of good-natured energy can draw out a lot of suffering and reveal those people who want to persist in living in a low vibration. It can show you a lot about someone.

But for the purpose of this post, just focus on laughing. Enjoy it. Feel it fully. Feel the tingly-ness of it in your body. What does this feel like? Why does it feel so good? Oh who cares why it feels so good... ;p

Bringing More Humor Into Your Life
This really is more than just "thinking positively," which is a phrase I hear way too much. "Thinking positively" is just a different type of rose-colored glasses for many people who are resisting seeing the fullness of reality. With humor, we are enacting happiness. We are embodying happiness. We are giving ourselves a chance to feel it in the heart, body, and mind. That's just a wonderfully easy way to embody spirit and the joy of living. Isn't it a beautiful thing? You can make it part of your meditation if you like. You could have a laughing meditation. See how you feel if you laugh for 5 minutes and then meditate for 25 minutes. See what it brings up. How does this make you feel?

And along with laughter, it is important to bring more people who make you feel good into your life. One of my students posted in our group about paying attention to how she feels in different situations. This is a wonderful practice. See who makes you laugh. See who just generally feels good to be around. It won't always be the people that you think it should be. And while I've written about getting comfortable with discomfort on the spiritual path and I don't want you to run away from anyone who makes you uneasy initially, there is still a lot to be said for tuning in to people who generally feel good to be around. Ultimately, this is where we land, although in life there's often a transitional time period where many of you will have to get used to people who do feel good because you've been treated so badly by yourself and others that this sensation initially feels uncomfortable and foreign.

Letting Go of the Seriousness
If life does get too serious or your spiritual practice gets too serious, then pause to let it go. Watch a funny movie. Find a joke online. Call one of your friends who has a good sense of humor. Or just laugh like I suggested earlier. There are so many reasons to let go of being serious. There are so many reasons to roll down a grassy hill or have a burping contest. Seriousness is often an ego game where your ego is trying to get respect and living in a little, tiny box that can't even contain a fraction of your fullness. In those regards, many people will find their way to awakening through humor because the seriousness of life will have finished teaching them all that it can. There will be nothing left to be serious about. You'll start to realize that it's all a big joke. And this may sound glib in the face of atrocities and rapes that go on in the world, but ultimately, the cosmic joke is that we've made up everything. Most of these difficulties in this world are our creation, and we can uncreate them at any time as a collective group. In our own lives, we feel this more personally. We see how we've gotten completely caught up and serious about our jobs, finding romance, making a partnership work, getting things, and so forth.

Then you have to laugh. In that laughter, you are letting go because it's all just so ridiculous, and you're totally ridiculous. You're the cause of your difficulties, and just like the clown who can't fit into the ridiculously tiny car, you can now laugh and realize that you could have bought a new car or ridden a bike at any time.

Moving Beyond the Cosmic Joke: Humor Sets You Free
For some of you, you will be like the divine fool that I mentioned in my allegory above. You will bring humor out, and you will show others the jokes that we play on ourselves. It is a beautiful path and a beautiful life's work. For most of you, you will simply enjoy the humor of your life. You'll enjoy the joke when you get sprayed by water on the road by a passing car. It's like, "Oh, I get it, God, you prankster." And you'll go home and change your pants instead of turning it into an unending story about how life has specifically come to ruin your designer wardrobe.

As I said, you will see life for what it is, but you won't be inappropriate in trying to find humor in difficult situations and whatnot. Laughter and humor is a tool like meditation, journaling, and everything else. There are times to use it, and then there are times to not use it. But start with yourself. Look at all the things you worry about, and laugh. And laugh some more. And keep laughing until you can see them again from a different angle. You may be surprised at what they look like when you no longer take it all quite so seriously.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finding Your Edge for the First Time

I wrote some time ago a post about the addictive qualities of the spiritual path, but what I didn't really talk about was the run-up to that first big moment of healing, opening, or general good feeling-ness. Because a lot of times before there's this big surge of wonderful feelings, there's a forging out into the unknown and out of your comfort zone. In a society that has taught us to shun vulnerability and most forms of discomfort (unless you're an athlete, and the mantra is no pain, no gain, which is also deeply problematic), most people turn around once the seas start to get a little choppy. But if you really want to walk the spiritual path, you are going to be saying "good-bye" to your comfort zone, and that means starting to learn how to find your edge.

The Edge of Your World and the Next Step
Coming to the edge of your comfort zone always feels a little like stepping off the edge of the world no matter how many times you do it. While this post is targeted for those early on in their spiritual walk, all of us will have these moments where you come to some new, outside-of-normal experiences. In those moments, we have to embrace another aspect of ourselves we had not seen or do something outside of our regular life. With it comes a sense of vulnerability and uncertainty. There may still be a lingering concern around failure even if you've done this numerous times, and perhaps, that's part of why this opportunity has come. Or not. It's not about becoming "perfect" in any way. It's about continuing to allow yourself to grow as you need to and to change to whatever the current situation is.

And so whether this is the first time you're meeting your edge or the 78th, it is always a brand new experience.

The Expansion After the Edge
The carrot on the end of the stick is the new level of awareness of yourself that arises after stepping through a major issue. Sometimes it is a painful realization, and sometimes it's a beautiful breath-taking experience much like I mentioned in the addictive qualities blog post. It will be whatever it is that you need to experience, so I can't tell you that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, per se. The first time you come to the edge, stepping off may take you into a slew of repressed issues, resentments, and fears. It's not a "safe" place for the ego, but it is where you've hidden a lot of your greatness.

To take this metaphor in a different direction, you are in a jail cell. You are so used to it that you don't know this. Or perhaps some of you have felt the edges of it for a long time. But the fullness of you is much, much, MUCH larger than any cell, and that cell--your ego, your definitions about who you are--cannot contain the fullness of you. No set of words, beliefs, and ideas ever really do. What we learn to do is to use ideas and tools to point at things and point at meaning. I am a spiritual teacher, but that is just a set of words. It only points to something; it is not me.

And that's part of what we learn as we break out of the cell. We learn how to use words, ideas, and egos, instead of the other way around. In that amazing expansion after the first edge, you may initially find even more terror than you imagined. It's okay. You can meet it because you are the one who has created and carried it. Only you can meet this, but you can get help and support at certain times. At other moments, it truly is just an internal thing, and no one can do the internal work for you, but you.

Getting Comfortable With Your Fears
This seems to be a dark and serious blog. I promise to have a blog post before long about humor and spirituality (because if you can't laugh at yourself and the absurdity of life, you are truly lost. Plus laughter in and of itself is just good medicine). This post is not meant to be a downer. It's meant to help you understand the road ahead. It's meant to help scrub out illusions that spirituality should always be this high-flying good feeling. In the deep spaces of connection and aliveness, the world brightens up. But if you're used to the prison cell, you can't appreciate this brightness. That's why many of us have to hit these walls little by little because if you give an inmate too much light and freedom too soon, they have no idea what to do with it. More often than not, they try to run right back to the prison cell.

Case in point: being fired. When someone is fired from a job--even a job they hate--many people immediately go looking for another job, oftentimes the very same thing that they hated doing before. They've just be freed. Putting aside the need for money (which is much less than most of us think in Western Society), you can now do anything. ANYTHING. But the mind rushes in with its programming about college funds, mortgages, car payments, and so forth. And I'm not saying those obligations aren't important. I'm saying that you have much more flexibility and creativity at your disposal than you're allowing yourself. The spiritual practice in these moments really is getting comfortable listening to all of your fears so you can hold a bigger space in your life for hold a bigger space for you.

The Hand Reaches Out for the Wall
Coming back to the topic at hand, you may wonder about how to find your edge of your prison cell and how to take the next step. It always starts simply. It starts by noticing your life. It starts by noticing your assumptions. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Why do you think that you need to live the way you do? That is when you start to reach your hand out to the walls of your life. Feel around the edges of the wall. Feel around the edge of what you think it means to be a successful businessman, academic, mother, father, lawyer, public servant, or something else. Look at all the assumptions that form your ideas about who you are. These are part of your prison.

As always, you are returning to the space within. Your greatest expansiveness and your general greatness is never something measured in cubits, accomplishments, or pounds. It is measured in the freedom you have for your soul. Only you can ever measure this, and if you are feeling stifled in your life, only you can unstifle it. I often talk about journaling because here you begin to face yourself. Here is where you take a look at the mind game that you're playing that imprisons you. So make journaling a practice if this is where you are. Write down answers to the questions I've suggested, and then develop your own questions. Or develop all your own. Do what you need to do. Don't do stuff just because someone on some blog has said to do it. That's just following the methodology that probably got you here of listening to what other people think you should do and doing it. It's time to give yourself the freedom to live your life.

The Intensity Builds With Growing Awareness
The more aware you are of your life and your hand in making this reality, the more pressure you feel on the aspects of your life that aren't in alignment with who you are. It is the start of the pressure cooker. For those of you in awakening, your awakening has cranked up the pressure cooker to 1 billion degrees. You know what it means to be thoroughly cooked. If you had the slow build up, maybe it's easier to appreciate the burning out of issues, fears, and karma. If you haven't, then just know that I am here to support you if you need it, as I am here to help support all of you.

For most of the rest, you will feel like something is wrong. You may think you're going crazy. Some people have that sense when they first start meditating, but really, they're simply noticing the craziness that they already carry. I mean just look at the stupidity of our cultural myths that we fill our minds with. Do you really think a 6-figure job is going to make you happy? Do you really think everyone needs to get married and have 2.5 kids? This is absurd. It doesn't mean that some stereotypes don't work for some people, but everyone seems to be trying to pour themselves into these same molds from our cultural myths.. Oh, how about beauty ideals? Do all women need to look like toothpick supermodels? You can see the absurdity of these things as I write them, can you not? And the building pressure of your awareness will shine so much light on these that you may suddenly realize you can't live by these and other lies anymore. Your light may suddenly show you just how much these ideas are strangling and destroying you, and you may suddenly realize that you have to break free.

The Time for Action Comes: A Shift Must Occur
Now, I'm not talking about an awakening here when I'm talking about a shift. I'm talking about a first step. I'm still talking about coming to that first edge, and then you make a necessary change, big or small. Maybe it's a job change. Maybe it's a change in how you act or communicate in a relationship. Maybe it's dropping the gym membership and taking up yoga. Maybe it's an apology to your mother that leads to a healing in that relationship. You'll know what you have to do. You'll know what the key is to unlock this prison cell. Just as you are the jailer who created this cell, you also have the key that gets you out.

And then a rush of fresh air comes in. You suddenly feel more space around you, and you may have that amazing feeling I described. Or you may suddenly come into more space and have even more awareness about how much more sludge there is in your life. Or you may have both of those feelings simultaneously (that's how one of my early shifts felt). It will be whatever you need. You may even feel a little bit of accomplishment with this. Don't hold on to that too much. In the same way, don't become overwhelmed by the pile of unmet issues that you can see as you walk about outside of your jail cell and into your jail block. Keep in mind that you aren't out of the prison, but you are taking the right steps.

Coming to the Next Edge and the Next
It can feel like an unending process at first, but I like to remind people that for most of your lives you've been locking yourself up in smaller and smaller jail cells until there was hardly a peep of light finding its way into your world. This can be demoralizing for many of you who thought you were doing it right and who even felt marginally happy or content with your lives. It's part of the reason that for most people to really commit to the spiritual path, they have to be utterly miserable. They have to have destroyed the illusion that living in illusion is better than knowing and living the truth. In essence, it's the idea of "ignorance is bliss" at work, which is nonsensical. Consider that you are carrying a terminal disease, and if you don't heal, you will kill everyone else around you. Is that ignorance truly bliss?

So, I encourage you to find your courage. I encourage you to find support in new spiritual friends, teachers, and healers. And I encourage you to dedicate yourself to this path because without the tenacity and self-belief, it's easy to get sucked back into the lies of this world. It is okay if you don't know the way. It is okay to feel fear. Transcending fear means experiencing and releasing it...again and again. It is okay to make mistakes and to be a mess despite other lies we are told about always needing to be together and be "successful" (and who is determining what success is anyway? A referee and a scoreboard? What nonsense).

Saying Hello to The End of Your World
At the end of the day, coming to your first edge may feel like the end of the world. It may be. It may also be the end of living in a prison cell cut off from yourself. Isn't freedom worth it, though? Aren't you curious about who you really are when you are no longer trapped? I was. And there's no way I would ever go back to that cell. It just feels too damned good standing out in the grassy field in the clear air with sunlight on my back.

Here are some more thoughts on releasing a big energy blockage for the first time:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Awakening and Your Heart: Creating Even More Space for Love

The River of Love
Now, I've already talked about love A LOT. But I'm not going to stop talking about it any time soon because it's such a misunderstood term. And it's misunderstood in how it can be felt in so many varieties and flavors. For those who are brand new to this blog, I'd love it if you checked out my "What Is Love?" blog post with a video at the end so that you understand my terminology. And even if you're not new, but haven't seen that blog, I encourage you to read it. Let's be on the same page as we dive deeply into love.

The Spiritual Awakening Big Bang and Then the Hard Work Comes
Waking up is a heck of a ride, and in that space of blissful loving, you'll probably want to surf on those feelings for ever. But those feelings are temporary just like all feelings. And coming to embody this energy (to bring this energy into your body and into your daily actions) means that you're going to have to clean house. Awakening brings a flood of energy behind it, so you may not feel like you have much of a choice. In many cases, surrender is the only way to get through the intensity, but it is different for different people. I had many moments where surrender was the only way to go, and other times, I had to get out the crowbar, shovel, and pick axe to make space for this awakening--to make space for the fullness of me and my love.

And it's not hard work in the way that most people think of it. It is learning to be extremely uncomfortable during the process and still let go and release any internal resistance. And then do it again. And again. Because love is transforming everything, and just when you think you've done enough, another layer drops away. And you transform and tune in to yet another deeper and more profound level love.

Coming Out of the Desert: Water Flows Everywhere
For most of society, water comes in thimble size. We may offer colas and beverages in super sizes, but when it comes to love, you better not need much from the world. That may sound cold and cynical, but I always like to encourage you to think about which it seems more likely to hear from people out and about shouted from the corners: "I love you!" or "Fuck you, asshole!" Put in this context, it may not seem so cynical as realistic.

And I am not a cynic. I am simply pointing out the state of affairs for most people in regards to love (if this is not your experience, consider that to be a blessing). What's worse is that most people don't even know how to be with love. If someone offers a half a cup of love to another person who can only hold a thimble full, then they're overwhelmed. They're pushed to their edge. They don't know what to do with themselves. They may feel scared and want to push this person away because of how overwhelmed they are. Or they may think that they are in love with the other person or that other person is in love with them. A lot of things will surface in the presence of love, so it becomes part of the practice of learning how to expand to hold more and more love while doing it appropriately to each person and situation.

Romantic and Sexual Misinterpretations
Let's start with the main misinterpretation in a good portion of Western Society: every female and male relationship with love involved should be a romantic and sexual relationship (Obviously, this is assuming the popular idea of a heterosexual relationship here, but please insert your romantic gender of choice. The concept I'm talking about still applies).

So when a new level of love opens up between a female and male , one or both people may assume that they should go straight to a romantic or sexual relationship. When things blow up, they may not understand what happened. But what happened was social programming. Love isn't a desire driven, I-gotta-have-that-person-or-I'll-die thing. Love is actually very clear and relaxed in many ways. The more you can be in the state of love, the more easily it is to see what type of relationship is appropriate.

And sometimes, love will surprise you. I've had people share stories with me about how they were gay, and then they were suddenly attracted to someone of the opposite gender. I've also had stories about how some people were heterosexual and then were suddenly attracted to someone of the same gender. With the way we create ego gender identities in the U.S., this can really throw someone for a loop. They might not know what to do. But that is the nature of move outside of ideas and ego constructs.

Finding Comfort In Deeper Levels of Love and Intimacy
But the main point of this post is the practice of getting comfortable with deeper and deeper levels of love. The first time you go through the expansion of opening your thimble to the size of a half cup, you feel crazy and overwhelmed. You feel like you're in a pressure cooker, but when the shift to a bigger vessel happens, you feel like you can hold the whole world in your heart. It is an amazing experience.

And then awakening keeps filling you up with more water, and suddenly, that half cup size is too small. You can feel even crazier, although perhaps you can more easily accept the process since you've been through it once before. Or maybe not. Really intense love and awakening energy can lead you to try to get rid of excess energy with too much work, too little meditation, too much sex (or ejaculation for guys, which by its nature send energy out of men), and other ways to expel energy. This is a tricky time, and it's important to learn how to be comfortable with this internal intensity. It will pass, and then you can feel love for even more people.

You are also learning to love all of you. The two go hand-in-hand: loving others and loving yourself. Because we hold the whole world within us. We are interconnected to all of it, so loving all of ourselves is loving the whole world. It's very beautiful. But if you're going through one of these spurts, you may not feel that beauty. You may only be feeling the constraints of your container for love.

Not Jumping to Conclusions
As you work your way up to holding an Olympic sized swimming pool amount of love, you may not be sure where this will end. You may also have old programming still holding on about what to do with love. As I mentioned, the most common misunderstanding is to assume that feeling a vast amount of love should be funneled into a sexual, romantic relationship. That's simply not how it is, and the idea is in and of itself an entirely too narrow view of love. Views like that are part of the container of love that we hold inside. These ways of thinking are part of what need to get stretched and broken out into a new shape. So you may attract a beautiful soulmate into your life, who is meant to only be a platonic relationship to force you to see the depths of a different way of loving than you'd thought possible. As you come into acceptance and understanding of this type of love, the old container falls away, and now you can hold a pond worth of love (are you enjoying the bodies of water metaphor? I sure am. :).

Taking Your Time to Integrate Love...When Possible
So I encourage you to see these shifts as natural and take your time to understand each level of love as it integrates into your life. I've often listed out different types of love in these posts, but I encourage you to do so for yourself. What are all the ways that you can love people, places, things, and whatnot? Take a look at your definitions. Take a look at all the ways you can love others beyond the usual sexual romantic stuff. Can you see the love that can be shared in simply listening to a co-worker? Can you find it in taking a hot bath? Where else can you bring love into your life, and how can you continue to create more space in your heart for everyone and everything?

The Endless Sea of Love
Because ultimately, you are joining with the endless sea of love that is God. That is where it can eventually end, although we all seem to level off at whatever amount it is we should naturally hold. That's always something that I want to remind those of you who are in awakening; the awakening just takes us to our natural vibration and our natural level of love. We're not being made superhuman, but you will feel super human at times. Owning that deep and profound vulnerability is part of owning all of your love, and from that space amazing connections can happen. Deep levels of union and intimacy are possible, but only as we clear away the desire, need, and attachment that muddy the waters. So as I said, when you move into a new level of love, don't jump to conclusions. See what this level of love is telling you about the people in your life, and then make a little more space. See what else flows into your life, and trust that love will help you find the right balance and connections for all of it.

This picture is a gift from my student, Jenn. Thanks so much, dear one!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Taking Responsibility for Your Life

In so many ways, the spiritual path is simply about taking responsibility for your life, at least at first. Later on, it melts into the simplicity of love and being, but those two aspects of ourselves are incredibly responsible and aware. From that space, you can make easy and difficult decisions, and you can see yourself and the world for what it is. But many people aren't trying to see what the world is. They are lost in trying to make the world be something other than it is, and they don't want to take responsibility for what their projections onto other other people and their actions are doing and have created in their lives. In many respects, some people are running to spirituality and spiritual awakening as a kind of escapism. People seem to think that if they just find the right guru, mantra, breathing exercise, or meditation, then they'll no longer have to deal with the difficulties of their lives.

And that's just not how it is.

Owning Your Own Crap
So much of the initial part of the spiritual path is owning your own crap. But we've all become too good of con artists, so a lot of times, we are constantly trying to blame others anyway. You may hear it in New Age language or religious language as:

"That person is in such a negative vibration. I totally don't know why he's in my life."


"She'd be able to fix her life if she just accepted Jesus as her savior, and then I wouldn't have to bail her out all the time."

Regardless of the decisions that others make, we draw certain people into our lives by our choices, words, and actions. Initially, they really are helping us to see other aspects of ourselves that we're trying to deny or can't see. This is one of the great lessons of all our relationships. They get to show us different ways that we are interacting with the least initially. After awakening, it's much different, but I've talked about that elsewhere.

Still Avoiding Responsibility: The Pain of Life Intensifies
Yet, as I said, many of us have become good con artists. I've been good at it. I've learned to own that as well. Because if there are things that I don't like in my life, I have to own my part in co-creating that reality. Co-creating isn't a made-up word (well, ultimately, all words are made-up). It is, probably, a newer word, and it simply means that you create in conjunction with others. Consider this blog as a co-creation. Sure, I supply the words, but I didn't create the Internet connection, the Blogger code, the search engine that gets many of you here, and so forth. Relationships are co-created. Jobs are co-created. Buildings are co-created. Even your garden is co-created. If there isn't sunlight, things don't really grow (sure you can get some kind of lamp to shine on them as well, but you're not making that energy either). It's a very humbling thing to see how little worldly influence we possess at times, but it can help to develop the humility that is needed to let go of what we don't influence and take responsibility for what we do.

Because we do make choices about the words we say to others. We make choices about the actions that we take, and those choices have ramifications. If we cheat others to make money, we are ultimately cheating ourselves. We'll very likely attract more cheaters into our lives, and then the mantra may become:

"There's no one in my life whom I can trust."

But clearly it started with us. We can't even trust ourselves. And with that core issue out of whack, things will likely happen around that issue such as having a spouse or partner who cheats on us. Or getting into litigation or criminal proceedings for having cheated someone. The pain just grows and grows until we look at our part in the saga of our lives.

The Long Road to Redemption
I don't like to get people too caught up in the idea of time. Healing can be instantaneous, but many thins in this world still take time to manifest. It's how it usually goes. I've seen enough in life to not put too strong of a generalization around this. That's the magic of life. Sometimes when we see the mistakes in our lives and make a choice to change, things transform overnight. Sometimes, it takes years to re-shape our lives. It's different for everyone, but it can be done by everyone. No pain is too grievous to not be healed, but you have to be ready to make a commitment to yourself. You also have to be ready for a lot of the people in your life to leave and to not understand what you're doing because you brought those people into your life because of how you were acting. Going back to the cheating metaphor, you probably don't have a lot of honest people in your life right now because you haven't been honest. So there will be a major upheaval on a social level at the very least...probably more.

And because we don't really know how to walk the road to redemption, it may seem like it is taking a long time. It may seem like it's not working. This is where we have to learn a new kind of tenacity in the face of the discomfort that we feel. It's not all roses on the spiritual path. It's oftentimes a lot of thorns, and those thorns are of our own making. Also, along the lines of my spiritual allegory called, "A Chance Encounter With Love," love's heavy hammer that is smashing your life to bits is also setting you free from the constraints and bonds in your life. But at first, you may simply get lost in the old attachments and pain. This is where having the awareness to take responsibility for what you've created can be crucial. Otherwise, you will simply blame your external circumstances again and play the victim role once more.

Watching Your Mistakes Reveal Themselves
You will likely learn a lot of humility on the spiritual path. We all do. We all have seen our mistakes shown to us in incredibly clarity. It's just how it goes. The point is to let go of the attachment to the old ways of being. Taking responsibility for our mistakes is saying, "Yes. I did that." Then you make amends if necessary, and you forgive everyone involved in the situation, including yourself. At first, you may feel really vulnerable, and you may confuse this as being a victim. But this is far from the truth. Being non-reactive in situations is a way to take time to make conscious decisions. It's a way to stop fueling cycles of pain in your life. It's a way to fully see what's playing out in your life and to see what your role has been in the whole drama. Because when you come from that space of awareness, you actually will start making conscious decisions, potentially for the first time in your life.

Otherwise, if you don't do this and come to spirituality, then spirituality is just the next game. Getting enlightened is the next game. It's a game to avoid responsibilities, and it's an attempt to reach some perfectly luxurious and untroubled world that does not exist. Any spiritual teacher who tells you that it exists in the external world doesn't know what spirituality is about (and I'm sure more than a few of you who have run across those people: they do, however, have their role to play in the great unfolding of life, as we  all do). Because the only place that we can be at peace is within, but since we're living in this world, we will feel discomfort, be it hunger, grieving a lost one, or some other situation. The path of spirituality is about learning to accept all as it is, to feel fully, but also to learn how to let go.

The Slow Realization Comes When It's Ready
And maybe you're not ready for this blog post. That's okay. Realizations sink into us as we're ready. No one can rush this process because there's no where to get to. It's like the seed that sprouts. No one can say when it sprouts. Only when enough sunshine, water, soil nutrients, and general magic of life come together in just the right way does something happen. It doesn't have to be a great big spiritual awakening either. Oftentimes, it's little realizations that build up to bigger revelations, and then we have to take responsibility for this things. Otherwise, those things just pass like clouds in the sky. No one can do this path for you. No one can live your life for you. So when you're ready, take responsibility for what's in your life, and start down walking down the path to see yourself in your fullness, perhaps for the very first time.

Today's lovely green picture comes from my student, Jenn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting Comfortable With Other People's Discomfort

Finding Space to Grow In Between a Rock and Hard Place
In writing this post, I'm focusing more on people who have had an awakening, but in truth, this is something from which everyone can benefit. Because a lot of the times we are getting upset or uncomfortable around other people because we are sensing what they are feeling. A lot of natural psychics (everyone has this ability, btw. It's just some people have more of it turned on and functioning than others) have this issue all the time. If someone is crying or sad in the room, they just want to cry. In many ways, it's an inappropriate connection because it's never our job to process another person's pain. If anything, it takes away from the lessons that the pain is teaching someone. Now, I'm not talking about not giving someone a helping hand when they ask for it. That's a really important thing to do, but simply being miserable or upset because another person is miserable or upset will leave you lost in those emotions. It's one of the ways where many people are actually not in alignment with their hearts.

But no doubt there will continue to be unhappy people, and in my work, when someone is clearing out an issue, a lot of emotions come up. So I've learned how to be comfortable with other people's discomfort, and here are some tips to help you hold your space in these situations and still be a connected and loving person.

Defining Your Space
I wrote a post awhile ago called "Facing Discomfort on the Spiritual Path." It's an important first step, and it's the key to being able to get comfortable with other people's discomfort. Essentially, the first step is getting to know you. Knowing what is inside you and what parts of yourself you aren't comfortable with is crucial. Until you can grapple with your internal space, the external world will still find those hot buttons in you, and it will continue to push them. I see so many portrayals of men who aren't comfortable with their emotional space in movies, TV, and so forth. Of course, fiction often reveals fact, and many men can't be with highly emotional situations. Some women even manipulate men by becoming highly emotional to get what they want. These men can't be with the discomfort the other person is feeling because they haven't dealt with the uncomfortable feelings inside them. So for this example and many other situations, you have to go within to start defining your internal space before you can really be fully present with people in pain of any kind.

Starting Out: We Are Always Beginning Anew
I have a section on this blog called "Starting Out," but I really want to encourage all of you to consider that every day is starting out again. Letting go of the stories of life is important. This isn't enforced forgetfulness; this is focusing on useful remembrance. Because most of the stories and patterns we remember in life keep us locked up in emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual slavery. That's why it's always helpful to consider that we really are always starting out again each day

Because we are always changing. That's why a regular morning meditation can be so cleansing, freeing, and helpful. It can be a daily way of saying, "Who am I?" And then you listen. You listen to the remaining stories and decide if you're going to believe in them today. You listen and hear that you're a Zumba instructor, an art teacher, a computer scientist, a mother-in-law, a president, a homeless person, a criminal, a slut, and all these other stories. You can listen, and then you can decide if you still want to be those things. You can decide to let them all go and be something else entirely.

A Jump Ahead: For The Awakened and Those With Regular Practices
Okay, so I'm jumping ahead in the story, and I'm encouraging people who are brand new to this blog to go over to that Starting Out section. Come back to this post later after you've read some more about starting out. If you want a specific blog suggestion, then try out the Spirituality Basics post.

For this paragraph, I'm assuming you have a practice. I'm assuming that you have an idea of the issues and patterns in your energy and your life. I'm assuming that you've also got the awareness that if something upsets you or activates you, you can address it. This is important because especially those who are awakened or who are naturally very psychically open, you are going to feel a lot when you around people. Sometimes it's worse in groups of people, and sometimes it's worse with specific people. Sometimes there are just individuals who are kind of our Kryptonite; it's just a bad mix when they're around. For those people, it may be time to put a physical boundary in place. But for the majority of situations, I've learned that a few easy steps and a little visualization go a long way in helping me be with whatever is going on.
  1. The first thing I do is to notice what exactly it is I am feeling. I look to get a sense of if this feels like it is something that has anything to do with me. (As I said, this really works best after you've developed a spiritual practice with regular self-inquiry)
  2. If it is something that is linking to me in some way, I just notice the story that I have that is linking into this uncomfortable feeling that I am feeling from someone else or in the general environment. Sometimes, that's enough, and sometimes, a deep breath lets me exhale and disengage from whatever is ruffling my feathers.
  3. If it's something that has nothing to do with any of my stories, then I may pinpoint the feeling. It's kind of like following a thread backwards. Once I get a sense of who in the room this applies to, I'll cut the thread. Then I'll visualize a filter of white light in between myself and the other person. The purpose of that filter is to still allow connection with the other person, but to remove any of the unhealthy stuff that the person is spinning out (because most people are trying to get rid of their uncomfortable feelings. In more concrete ways, people do this by bitching about work, having brutal exercise routines, or even getting into physical fights).
  4. If I still feel this discomfort or pain from the individual, I may actually visualize a wall of light between myself and the other person. For whatever reason, the filter visualization isn't working, and no connection is healthy at this juncture in time (keep in mind that these things should be thought of in a temporary way to allow for your own growth as well as the other person's ability to change).
  5. If I still feel it, but it feels like it's from the environment around me, I may visualize an energy bubble around myself or simply leave. If a place just feels that bad to you, you kinda have to ask yourself, "Why do I even want to be here?"
Lessons Learned From the Many Situations of Your Life
An interesting thing is going to happen as you pay more attention to the people in your life and your environment; you're going to notice a lot of stuff that you hadn't noticed before. Some of it may be shocking. Some of it may be affirming. But rest-assured, you're going to have a different perspective on things. For those who have awakened, you already have a new perspective, and this will add to it. Looking and sensing your world around you is a great way to embody more of your awareness. Practicing in this way is yet another way to use your awareness and to make it part of you (which is essentially what "embody" means). For those who are really psychic, this can be really helpful to do, but many of you still need to develop a spiritual practice to grow and enhance your understanding and integrity in these spaces. Shortcuts won't help you; you have to do the internal work that you need to do. And for those who have had a spiritual practice for some time, this can be another set of tools in the toolbelt. Some of it may help, and some of it may not. It really just depends on what your natural level of sensitivity and openness is, and everyone is different. Just because one person isn't as sensitive as another doesn't mean that one person is better than another. It just means that you're different.

Dropping In More Deeply With Those in Pain
Those tips that I wrote can help when you are teaching, counseling, or working with people in pain. It can be just as helpful for the relief worker in Rwanda as the high school counselor working with an inconsolable teenager who just lost her boyfriend. The more important part is the overall practice of self-inquiry, healing, and awakening. Because when you know yourself, you won't get lost in identifying with the teen's story. If you haven't done your internal work, you'll be really sad and think about all the bad break-ups you've had. You may also get very drained by the situation (Getting drained by situations is a big issue for a lot of people. I encourage any of you who have had this issue that now is the time to start on your internal work and set more appropriate boundaries in your life).

Furthermore, you also won't be a stonewall and say hard-hearted things like, "It happens to everyone. You just need to learn how to move on." Maybe you still say those things, but it'll come from a different place the more open and clear of internal pain you are. In turn, people will hear you from a different place. It's incredibly nourishing and supportive to me when I get support from someone who has done their internal work. Then, they're not getting caught up in whatever is bothering me, they simply can love and support me as I heal or clear an issue.

Ultimately, I think this kind of loving support is what we all want, but so many of us are in pain all the time, that we have no bandwidth to deal with anyone else's pain. In fact, pain is a kind of culture. It's like when you listen to people talk about the horrible things that have happened to them, and each person is trying to one-up the other with a story where they got more screwed over or hurt. It's sad really. But that's how indoctrinated and ingrained pain is in the human psyche right now, and for some of you, this realization alone will be the main gem that you can take away from this post.

Getting Started, Wash, Rinse, and Repeat
In the post I had about healing on multiple levels, I talked about how you'll heal an issue at different levels. It makes it seem like you're doing it over and over again, but as a friend of mine who was talking about it with me on Skype last night said, whenever he heals something, he suddenly feels bigger, better, freer. It's something to keep in mind. If you feel like you are still dealing with the same issue and don't feel freer, more open, and more loving, then it's time to look and see if you are really dealing with it. Usually if you are, then you will go through these times where it's like hammering on a rock, and then something releases. Then you feel amazing until the next deep dive. That's how your system naturally breathes through healing, contracting down to a core issue, healing it, and then expanding again.

Please keep this in mind as you start or re-start your work. This is a process, and while an awakening speeds things up and helps people to see what is really real, there is still a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to healing. But as you do it, you really do feel more amazing and free. The walls come down, and you can interconnect more easily with others. With that comes added sensitivity, though. Which then adds in more responsibility of learning how to be comfortable with others who are uncomfortable. As you lose your own internal discomfort, you will see how much pain much of the world is in. It is truly eye-opening, but as I said, the less internal discomfort you have, the more space you will have to be with most of the dis-ease that is out there. And that's a powerful place to be in.

Today's picture is a gift from my student, Jenn.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stepping Out of the Fire: Decompressing From Embodied Awakening

Many moons ago, I wrote a blog post called, "The Fire: Entering the Crucible of Awakening." I just updated it a little for the details about me, but it still holds true. It's not exactly how I would have written it now as that post went up before I really dedicated myself to the blog. My voice and orientation changed when I made that dedication (which was August 15, 2010) because I no longer was just trying to figure out my own experience. Instead, I began to offer back what I'd learned, which changed how I was writing.

But as I mentioned that there is a stepping into the crucible of awakening, there is inevitably going to be a stepping out. I often think of awakening in these very broad stages:
  1. The Preparation: A person begins to find spiritual resources and practices. The begins to build the crucible that will hold the fire.
  2. The Awakening: The light switch goes on. The fire bursts into full flame
  3. The Embodiment Process: A person brings that awareness/that fire into every aspect of oneself--heart, body, mind, and soul. This may take days, months, or years.
  4. Life after Embodied Awakening: Once you've left the fire, you often live your life in a very different way than before.
This post is aimed at the end of that embodiment process or spiritual awakening process. Because while all kinds of situations and spiritual practices were necessary to turn up the heat enough to burn away the old ways of being, the old pain, and the heavy density, this can't go on for ever. Sure there will be little hotspots in life, but it'll be totally different. So for this post, I am writing about the shift out of the great shift.

Dialing Down the Temperature
A lot of us found our spiritual path very intuitively. Our souls just led us by the nose even when we didn't know that we were being led by the nose. We setup a whole bunch of different situations to bring enough intensity into our lives to help us realize the truth. With that intense awakening, we suddenly saw how many lies we were living in. So we started making changes...and making more changes...and making MORE changes. We went deep into our personal work. We found teachers, prophets, ministers, and self-help gurus. We practiced meditation, journaling, tantric techniques, chanting, and more. We hit every angle of ourselves to break away all the rigidity, anger, self-hate, fear, and more that was limiting us.

And we all learned a Hell of a lot while it also felt like we were going through Hell and Heaven at different times.

But now, it's time to step out of that. Now we learn to simply allow the fullness of who we are in this life. Because there is always a way to "improve." If we created a new ego to help us move through this great shift and embrace it , that inner orientation and perspective must now be let go. In life, you may find that you are always creating new types of egos, but that's okay. We all learn to let them go after they've served a purpose. You won't have the same commitment like you had to the first ego, which would say, "This is just the way I am." No. That is the way you chose to be even if it was chosen unconsciously. That's part of realizing all the gifts that are now open and available to you; you can choose to be anyway that you want to be.

And it's not like we didn't know that it was all about just being anyway. But the world of duality asks us to live, work, and play in this space, and changes have to be enacted and done through actions (i.e. embodied--brought into the physical). So, this is where we let go of some elements of our spiritual practices. We don't get rid of it all. But consider that if you've been covered in mud your whole life, the first level of cleaning has to be intense to get it out of your hair, your ears, and everywhere else. Once you no longer live in the mud like that, a light shower in the morning is all you'll need. With that idea, it's time to put some practices to rest.

Your Intuition Guides You Along
As always, your intuition is your guide in what tools to put down. Some meditation techniques will simply be too rigorous. Others will work just fine for the occasional fine-tuning you'll prefer to maintain the energy level that feels true to you. Everyone's vibration settles at a different point--it's whatever point that feels most comfortable for you.

And more relationships will now exit your life. Many relationships came primarily to be guides, mirrors, and helpers to building the crucible and intensifying the fires around you. As you step out of that fire, those relationships change. Many will end. Some will evolve into whatever the next evolution of your relationship should be. Your intuition will help you along here. While you won't always be completely clear in your intuitions all the time, it most likely is way clearer than before this process. So some tears may be shed as different people now leave, but you'll feel this passage as something that is true to you. You'll know that their sacred purpose in your life has completed, and that's okay.

Letting Go of Any Need for Perfection
The whole idea of perfecting yourself may still have somehow sneakily snaked its way through the fires. If so, that is one last thing to toss back into the flame. There's no need to burn yourself out--literally and figuratively. As I said, there are always ways to improve yourself or shift. You will shift your whole life because all of life is change, but this dramatic shift is done. You don't need to do it any longer, and you will also realize that transcendence still feels very human.

After the fires have passed, it can be amazing how "normal" it feels to just be you again. It's one of those things that I've mentioned in other blogs where you no longer have different levels inside of you. You've integrated. So if you don't have one level that is low, how can you tell that another part of you is in an elevated state of consciousness? This also goes back to that post I had about the loss of reference points. So when this whole process has completed, you may not exactly feel enlightened, but you will likely figure out where you are when you're around other people. Other people will provide a reference point. You may be like, "Oh yeah. I remember." It won't be a big deal because other people are where other people are. Being at 10,000 feet on the mountain or 3,000 feet on the mountain are all the same because life isn't a race to the top. Some people are happy at 3,000 feet, and the wonderful thing about life is that we can all choose to be wherever it is that we want to be. That's the great gift.

Relaxing Back into Everyday Life
One of the ways that I've experienced stepping out of the fire is in relaxation. It just seems like different parts of my body, mind, and heart are relaxing more and more. It's a wonderful feeling. Sometimes I use the metaphor of having been in a pressure cooker. Coming out of that just makes you feel wonderfully expansive when you are no longer feeling hammered on from all angles. This will be a different process for everyone because everyone needs their own process out of the fire. Some people may have a very quick exit from the embodiment process. Others may need months or years to come down. I can't really say if that has anything to do with how long your awakening process may have gone on before because awakening doesn't work within our human mental framework of logic and rules. It includes them and everything else. Awakening excludes nothing, and I'm sure some of you felt that truth intensely at times as the fire torched the whole of you.

When I'm writing about this, I'm talking about an internal move that happens, which steps you out of the fire. Internally, a part of us starts to turn down the heat. As we notice this internal shift, we start to step out of the external practices. That's how we acknowledge the coming completion. You can try and avoid the internal work or try to get away from the fire prematurely, but ultimately, you are the generator of the fire. You've brought others in to help, but even in running from them and those situations, you can't get away from yourself. So I encourage you if you're still in the midst of it, let it burn. Trust yourself. Get the support you need. Open yourself to your transformation. It will only take you where you truly want to go--back to you, the real you.

Bringing Ease Back Into Your Life
I always encourage people to find ease within the intensity of the shift. I encourage doing so also as it ends. Think of this like a cool down period after a strenuous workout. Give yourself time to breathe and stretch before the next thing comes into your life (because rest assured, there will be some new thing coming soon as part of the next phase of your life). You don't need to go anywhere. You don't need any kind of relationship. Just be with who you are. Enjoy the expansiveness of yourself. Enjoy the lightness of yourself. Enjoy loving the whole of yourself. Nothing needs to be fixed or changed, and in truth, I would encourage you to simply explore yourself again as if for the first time. Perhaps you feel like you've already done this throughout your shift, but I encourage you to look again. Look at what has grown up inside your internal garden. You may be surprised at the abundance that you've made space for because of the spiritual rite of passage through which you've walked.

Applying Your Life's Purpose
Then, at some point, you may feel called to do something. Maybe only for a little while. Maybe for the rest of your life. Everyone's life purpose is different. For some of you, it may be as simple as exploring life. Others of you have very clear, defined purposes such as helping people awaken through healing or teaching. All purposes are beautiful and equal, and of course, the greatest purpose is simply to be. In that space of profound love and connection, all is already healed and perfect. It's a wonderful space to hold. It's a wonderful space that we've always held. But you've unlocked it. Congratulations--not that I need to congratulate you. It becomes like congratulating someone for breathing air; it is simply what is. It isn't an accomplishment.

Yet still, the shift does require a lot of love and attention on this plane of existence because we are overcoming so much of our own unconsciousness. And this requires comment and praise. So there it is. Welcome brothers and sisters to the next phase of your life. You have been reborn through the awakening fires. May your heart and soul lead you wherever it feels most true to you to go.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Make a Spiritual Awakening Happen

My regular readers are probably already wise to where this topic is going. They already know that you can't MAKE a spiritual awakening happen. You can no more make an awakening happen than you can make a seed sprout regardless of how much fertilizer you use. Yet there are a growing number of people who seem to want to "make" an awakening happen. In this blog post, I am actually more interested in helping you to uncover your motives around this because those will show you where your greatest growth lies as well as what is actually standing in the way of awakening.

Preparation and Readiness for Awakening
In a post I wrote called "An Unexpected Awakening," I differentiated between being prepared for awakening and being ready for awakening. Preparation is what we do in this world. It involves clearing out issues and fears through whatever tools you feel drawn to choose. This may be going to a psychologist, doing yoga, having a meditation practice, following your heart, and other things. However, readiness is a soul decision. You soul knows if it is ready to burst forth in this world into full awakening.

Now I won't say that a lot of tools like shaktipat and kundalini yoga don't do a lot to move internal energy. They do. And I'm a little concerned for those people who are using some of these tools who don't fully understand them or have teachers that fully understand the process. Many people just like the feelings they get from the practices, or they want to get somewhere by using them. Every now and then, someone's soul is going to be ready to awaken, and without the right mindset, the reality of awakening can really overwhelm the individual. It's part of why I write this blog. There are so many spiritual tools now available that were heretofore circulated within small circles of spiritual devotees and initiates, and usually, there was a spiritual teacher who understood the process in its entirety who could help assist people when things really erupted. Now, you can get a kundalini yoga practice online and try to figure it out for yourself. It's not that this is bad, perse, but we've entered a new era of spirituality because of the Internet. With that, many people have brought a lot of juvenile notions about what spirituality and what awakening are, and that causes interesting challenges to arise like the "unexpected awakening" that I blogged about.

Preparing For an Awakening Without Expectations
The big thing in Western Culture are around expectations and trying to get a pain-free life. People hear things like "being free from suffering," and they confuse that with never having difficulty again in life. That's just not how it is. Look at the amount of pain and difficulty that goes on for people around the world just trying to eat on a regular basis. That's not going to go away with awakening. Maybe if the whole world awakens, we'll do a better job of distributing wealth and resources, but there will still be famines, floods, droughts, disease, and crop-failures. That's part of the world we live in. Where we are free of suffering is that we don't turn these events into stories about ourselves, saying: "Oh poor me, this is just my lot in life." Instead we accept them completely and take appropriate action to take care of ourselves and our communities.

So you will still feel pain if you have an awakening.

What Else Is in Your Head?
What else is that you think awakening will get you? "Get" is a keyword here for a lot of people. Western society has been taught to get and accumulate things. If you have an awakening, no one gives you a trophy. You probably won't get much adulation. Any praise I get on this blog is beautiful, but that's not why I do it. I do it because I'm called to do it. I do because I want to clear out the half of a dozen blogs that are downloaded regularly into my head so I can sleep at night. I do it because I love doing it. So in truth, the best way to prepare for an awakening is to let go of any expectations about getting anything and surrender to love. Follow love. Love will lead you down the path to awakening, but she may use sharp knives and heavy hammers. Many people whom you thought you loved and whom you thought loved you will show their true faces. You'll see a lot of lies, and suddenly, you may feel quite alone on the spiritual path. You will see that the lessons you are being taught are much more challenging than any ideal you may have about living in a constant state of bliss where the whole world loves you.

Be prepared to see the fullness of love for the first time ever.

Working With Me and the Preparation I Offer
I titled my ebook: Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening. I did not title it: Everyday Spirituality: Creating an Awakening. You can't do that exactly, although those of you intuitively purifying right now are doing so. Only the soul and that intuitive awareness know how to create all the right circumstances. This is not a mental game, nor should it be. This is a sacred space that is created for the right moment, which ironically enough is always this moment.

And some people don't have any preparation. Their soul is just ready and sprouts forth in untilled land with rocks and thorns and no water to feed it. This is a harrowing time for people who are unprepared. That's another reason that I do the work that I do with students. I help them to cultivate the land. And just in cultivating the land, there's a lot of benefits. You are removing fears and creating space for things to grow naturally in your life. If awakening doesn't happen, that's fine. Just keep working the land--working with yourself--with love. There are plenty of wonderful things that you can enjoy and ways of being to embrace without having an awakening, although ultimately I'd love to see everyone awaken. That is the great hope that many of us have because it will change the whole world.

Nonetheless, I am patient with students, and we work through different layers of stuff as it is appropriate. Just learning the tools to heal issues and open up internal space is a profound practice. It creates that much more space for an awakening, and if it were to spring forth, I'd like to think that anyone withwhom I've been regularly working would be a little more at ease in this sacred shift. Because ultimately, our resistance is what cause so much pain and difficulty in an awakening. And as I've always said, awakening happens in a moment. The spiritual awakening process is the process of making changes in your daily life to embrace that awakening, and hopefully if you are preparing, you can do so with a little more ease.

Ways to Enhance the Energy in Your System
For those of you who really, really, REALLY feel called to awaken, pretty much everything in my ebook is aimed at helping you to do so. You can also look at the blogs in the starting out section. If you sincerely practice a lot of these tools and tips, things will move in your life. You may be surprised. Embracing the fullness of the spiritual path is embracing the fullness of you. Anywhere you've played small in your life or have not lived in your integrity are places where you are going to have to make changes. Hopefully, you'll begin to see the cost of following this path before the big bang hits because then there's no turning back. I want you see what is being asked of you because I want you to mentally choose to let go of everything because you want to and not because you feel like you have to (even though ultimately the person asking you to let go of everything is YOU).

Some other tools that are great to get moving are many of the usual suspects. The spiritual path isn't necessarily about some new fancy technique. It's about purity of heart and intention. This isn't the quick and easy path for most of you. This is the path that requires patience and diligence, and God help you if something comes quickly (Of course, you know where to find me if such a thing happens :). With that said, here are some tools:
  1. Regular meditation. Call your energy back to yourself. This can become an internal prayer during your meditations (30 to 45 minutes per sitting if you want to get focused in it). Let go of other energies and ideas as you call back your energy and attention from the many corners and experiences of your life.
  2. Sexual practice. Claiming your sexual energy and your sexual space is profound. Sexuality creates life; it can also be channeled to ignite an awakening. This is one of the thousand-pound hammers on the spiritual path. Use it sparingly. Also notice that I said claiming your space. Spiritual sexuality starts with you and expanding your awareness of energy before including a partner.
  3. Journaling and Psychology. As I am writing today, these feel like they go hand-in-hand. The idea hear is to look at the workings of your mind. Sometimes an external party is helpful for doing that. Sometimes the journal is enough by itself. Sometimes you need both.
  4. Working With a Spiritual Teacher. Not all spiritual teachers are the same, as I've discussed in "What Is a Spiritual Teacher." However, if you find the right one for you (I'm not always going to be the right one for everyone, btw), a lot of healing and opening can be facilitated. It's a sacred relationship and one that I don't recommend you take too lightly or cavalierly.
  5. Energy Transmissions. Some lineages work in energy transmissions, which is what shaktipat is (I referenced this earlier). This can be a lot of energy to internalize, which is why the other suggestions I've listed are also important. If you flood a field that is unready to receive water, it runs off and doesn't soak in. I've seen it happen in awakening. So this is a tool that really needs the support of a broader practice so you don't just have lots of movement that you can't integrate and own in your own energy space.
Proceeding Gently in Your Preparations for a Spiritual Awakening
Above all else, I encourage you to proceed gently. Give yourself space, rest, lots of clean water, and time to integrate major internal shifts. Don't rush to the next. Some of you can do this; I have done this, admittedly. But we're not all built the same on the inside. You need to find your rhythm, and when things start to get a little uncertain, that trust in your own rhythm will help you to go with the lessons you are being shown and help you to appropriately guide yourself through different swells and storms that the seas of life will bring to you. Because as I said, there's no real telling what will happen.

And there's no life that can be lived that won't have some level of difficulty. Your awakening may bring you more difficulty in life, but if it does, it's likely to be far more rewarding than any ease or luxury you've experienced in the monotonous or potentially miserable safe life you've been trying to live. It's an unknown, and that's just part of the awakening path. In truth, that's just part of life.

Today's lovely photo comes from my student, Jenn. Thanks!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Following the Calling of Your Heart

There's a zen saying that goes: "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water." The sense in this is that life goes on as before. You don't become any less human after becoming enlightened. You don't have any fewer needs and obligations in the material world, at least as far as the general physical needs go (shelter, food, water, etc.). I like to change it a little. I prefer to say, "Before awakening, do what you love. After awakening, do what you love." I've noticed that a lot of people are turning awakening or enlightenment into a goal, but really all it does is focus you towards love. In more truth, it's about "being" love and not "doing," but doing things in this physical world has value. So if you truly want to awaken, one of the best things you can do is to follow the calling of your heart because that's where awakening will take you anyway.

But I Don't Know What My Calling Is
People have let their minds sink into such confusion that finding the calling of their hearts is half the battle. It always starts with making a dedication to yourself to explore. For someone who really doesn't know what they love to do, I simply encourage them to try things. But even more importantly, I encourage them to trust the path, and that if new opportunities arise on that road, they need to trust themselves to follow the new opportunity. You don't want to get stuck on forcing the original goal.

I followed my heart towards getting into a graduate writing program at one point. As I followed that, the spiritual path opened up for me, and I got rejected by all the schools I'd applied to by the end. I don't see this as a failure. I see this as an amazing success in learning to following the path and trust its turns and changes.

Simply, finding your calling is about learning to trust your heart and intuition. You have to let go of some of the social mental programming that says, "If I can't make money at it, it's not valuable, or I can't do it." Money is just energy. It flows when you are least divided within yourself.

Consider this. Half of you wants to go one way. Another half wants to go another way. You are split. Can you go anywhere?

This is what it is like for many people. They actually do know what their calling is, but their internal fears and ideas are trying to make them go another way. You are frozen in your life. And worse yet, the money and energy that would support you in a new pursuit is stifled and stymied by the half of you that wants to go another way. If you want to be a physicist, but you're too afraid to tell anyone or apply for schools, how can you get the education you need? How would anyone know to give you a scholarship? So it turns money into a bigger issue than it needs to be, and in truth, you don't ever know if something will be financially supportive for you until you try it. The rest is simply conjecture and a mind-game that is keeping you trapped.

After the Exploration Comes the Practice of Doing
Maybe you already know what you love to do, or maybe there are elements around love that you need to explore. In my many posts about love (including this one called, "What Is Love"), I encourage people to challenge their ideas around love. Love is often too narrowly defined, and that's another piece that keeps people from the calling of their hearts. So if love is something that always feels good, then you may have difficulties in finding a calling. Because life doesn't always feel good. Sometimes, you will be challenged in the deepest ways by love kinda like I described in a recent spiritual allegory. That will not be comfortable, but it's often our own resistance to this flood of internal energy that wants to take us somewhere that makes it all so uncomfortable. We have to learn to trust ourselves. We have to learn to let go and open up to the creative power of the unknown, which in essence is opening up to the totality of our own creative power.

And with that comes yet another important form of dedication. As many of you know, I think the "go with the flow mentality" is very juvenile. At best, it is only one half of the equation. It oftentimes presumes that everything will be easy and pleasurable and care-free. This attitude may have you shun difficult situations because you assumethat anything that is uncomfortable is not the right way. But, the other half of the equation is the dedication and focused work that you do to birth your dreams. Perhaps child birth is a good metaphor. Some parts of pregnancy and child birth are easy and pleasurable (like the part involving sex). Other parts can be extremely challenging (like the actual birthing). All aspects are sacred. All aspects are needed to bring new life into this world, so as you focus in on what it is that your heart and soul (those two become the same in many ways) want to do, remember to dedicate yourself to that creation through easy moments and challenging ones.

The Importance of Following the Calling of Your Heart
And in case you think this is just about you, it's not. We're all interconnected. Where one of us chooses misery and monotony, we all choose it. Where one of us chooses love, we all choose it. We are so deeply interconnected that every choice we make is a ripple in the ocean of life. The more ripples that combine in the interests of love, the more the world moves from that space.

We have already seen enough of the power of ripples of fear. Depending on whose numbers you look at, the number of deaths from war in the 20th century is over 160 million people. That is the power of our fear. It destroys everything. We destroy everything because we killed those 160 million people collectively. That is the power of living in our misery. We seek to inflict that misery on others, and we become cold-hearted. It's easy for many of you who are younger to forget these lessons about fear, but the level of fear is very high these days with so much change going on. There's so much attachment to try and protect our individual hills of beans that worse world wars could come. That's what makes following our hearts urgent. How do you convince someone who is in love with life that we should kill others in another nation? It becomes impossible. It makes no sense to impose our choices on others. But when we are imposing choices on ourselves to make certain amounts of money or have certain types of relationships, we are living in that fearful mindset. Now imposing choices on others "makes sense" of to a certain degree because sitting under that internal pile of crap is a part of us that says, "If I'm suffering, then others should suffer too."

And the misery, death, and deceit continues.

Keep in mind too, that technologically the horrors we can commit on one another is at an all-time high. If you think dropping atomic bombs on two cities in Japan in the 1940s was bad, think about where we are technologically able to do today.

Sobering Realities of Not Following Love
These are sobering realities, and I haven't really blogged this way in awhile. In general, I try to keep it very focused on you in the present moment and to not get caught up in the worldwide story that has happened. I want you to see, however, that you are a critical part of writing a new narrative. Global awakening isn't just going to come because it's December 2012. It comes because each individual makes an internal dedication and daily practice of living in their love.

Because another war will come. The war-drums will be beaten again to get everyone scared enough to do something violent to "terrorists" or "dictators," which are our current terms for fear in Western Culture. In other regions, you have different terms, but the words are still there. They are the words that say, "If we do not kill them, they will kill us." And they are lies.

But turning to the path of love clears your eyes of the lies. You see the truth. You see what you are really here to do, and you begin to walk out of the misery that you've created. Nevermind what the rest of the world does at this point, you have an obligation to yourself to own the way you want to live this life. You only get this one life as you in this body and personality. It is a gift. Do you really want to live it out doing work and being in relationships that make you unhappy? Practice expanding your view of what your life could be to help get out of the old mindset. This is one of the ways where imagination can be a powerful tool and an important first step. You may enjoy this blog about expanding your imagination if this is where you are in your process:

Expanding Your Imagination

Embracing the Power of Failure
One last thing before I leave this topic for today is to embrace the power of failure. Failure is a powerful teacher, and ultimately, "failure" is simply a part of life. How many times do professional athletes fail to achieve their goal? How many shots do professional basketball players miss in practice and in games? So I encourage those of you who are setting out or who have set out on the paths of your hearts to learn what lessons come from failure and to practice tenacity as it makes sense. Not all roads lead to six-figure jobs, nor should they. Not all roads leads to until-death-do-us-part long-term marriage. That doesn't necessarily even mean that those paths have been failures. In truth, your ideas about failure may drastically need to change because life is change, and it is doesn't play by the intellectual rules that we've tried to set up. It is so much bigger than that.

And truly the only real way to know if you are succeeding or failing is to listen to your heart. What is it calling you to do? What is it asking you to be? Take a moment. Pause. Breath in. And listen. You'll know what you need to do.

This post's picture comes from my regular reader, Ricci. Thank you, dear one!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What Does Raising Your Vibration Mean?

Rock, liquid, air, & light
There's a lot of new terminology out in the world of spirituality, and oftentimes, these terms are very confusing or actually obscure instead of illuminate meaning. I work very diligently to make this blog as accessible as possible (although considering the number of people starting to use Google Translate to read this in other languages, there is only so much I can do. Lord knows how some of this is coming through in translation). Consequently, I encourage those of you with questions to ask them in the comments section on any post where you are confused. I'll do my best to clarify the things that I've said that don't make sense.

So, I'm sure more than a few of you have no idea what "raising your vibration" really means. I hope to clear that term up, which in all honesty isn't a term that I care to use a lot.

Vibration, Density, and Pseudo-Scientific Terms
Consider that life ranges from dense material to very light material. When an object is its solid state, it is the most dense. Think of this like a rock. Rocks are very dense and hard. Not much gets through to them without using a lot of external force on it. The next major layer up of density is the liquid state. After that, things turn into a gas. At that point, the molecules are moving very quickly, so there is more space within the substance.

You can use that metaphor to think of raising your vibration. You are moving from a state that is very hard. You have hard thick walls. You don't have a lot of flexibility. That's what pain and fear and anger do. They constrict our growth, and in turn, we tend to attract others in similar states. Ever notice how some people simply stay put in one place their whole lives? Density can do that. They never really get enough energy moving to change the state of their lives. Now just because you live in one place doesn't mean that you're necessarily living at very low vibration. This is just an example, but you get the point.

Is Being at a Low Vibration Bad?
No. Of course, it's not bad. It's just where you are. I think this is a really important point to make because the way I hear some people using the term "vibration" makes it sound like people who aren't doing this or who live in other states of awareness are bad or lost. We are all here to do what we're all here to do. For those of you called to expand your awareness, that's beautiful. Many others are not called. If they were, it'd be a very different world. Wherever any of you are right now is perfect. But in that total acceptance of the moment, you will get a sense if you are really moving at the vibration--if you are really living the life--that feels the most true to you.

Because what awakening does is to take you to your natural vibration. It's not trying to "improve" you. You can't get better. You are already perfect as you are, but if you are meant to be in a metaphorical gas state of consciousness instead of a rock's state of consciousness, then you've got a lot of expanding to do. And that requires a lot of energy and oftentimes immense pressure on all those hard aspects of yourself to get them to open up. This is part of creating the crucible that can heat things up enough to change them. And you're not becoming better than you're old self. You are simply embracing change, and you're embracing whatever it is that you want to truly be.

Awakening Fires and the Unlocking of Yourself
I'm already getting sick of the word vibration in this blog post. It's not one of my preferred terms largely because of the idea of "raising." We live in a world that has spent too much time focusing on hierarchies. So I don't want you to get lost in this idea that you have to raise your vibration to be a good person or that this is some kind of game to make yourself stand out.

The only thing you really need to do is to find out what's in your heart. Be that love. Be that truth. That's what raises your vibration. It's not an external event. Spiritual retreats and teachers are wonderful (I'm a spiritual teacher, so I'm kind of biased :). However, they are excuses for you to find the wisdom and love that is already inside you. If you think an external event is raising your vibration, then when that event is gone and replaced by a less preferable experience, you will drop down into more unconscious ways of being. (Unconsciousness is sometimes also used as a way to say lower vibration).

But when the fires of awakening ignite you, what is happening is that all the rocks and boulders of pain inside of you are being heated up. It can be excruciating. It can be very physical and emotional. Lots of stuff gets churned up to unlock the energy and your full potential that is trapped in a dense form. As I said before, this isn't bad. You have to let go of this kind of good or bad dualistic thinking. Where you are is where you are. But if you are having an awakening, you chose it. You may not have chosen it from the space of your ego-mind, but your soul most certainly did. Now, you've got the fullness of your energy shifting you, and this is a powerful and beautiful and terrifying time. All you can truly do is to embrace it because holding on to anything will only intensify the pain of rebirth.

Letting Go of Useless Terms
At times, some terms won't work for you. Just let them go. Let go of the term of vibration if it doesn't work for you. In essence, this whole blog is dedicated to raising your vibration, but what I normally say is this:

Let go of pain
Be the love you already are

That's what all the posts are doing. It's really simple. At the center of it, spirituality is simple. I may even say to "remember the love you already are." Because you have this wisdom already. It has simply gotten forgotten and buried by other things: pain, ideas about who you should be, and so forth. Your love is a high vibration, and it is very conscious about who and what you are and what you have to offer to this world. Pain leaves us constricted. Consider how the body feels when it is in pain. It clenches up. It's tight. It's hard. Go to a massage therapist to have a hands-on discovery of where you are hiding pain in your body. Feel the density of the locked up muscles when this person is working on you. They don't feel good, healthy, or flexible.

So this whole raising your vibration thing also means because flexible, yet strong. Loving, yet wise to the realities of the world around you. The whole gas metaphor kinda doesn't work as well as I'd like because you can be very firm and solid when you need to. True love gives you that grounded support, and it gives you the ability to choose to be solid, fluid, and or etheric.

Anchoring Love and Light in the Body
And one last term that I've heard that I do like is the term of "anchoring." As your body lightens--i.e. embracing your light body, it's important to anchor that awareness in the world. That's why doing things from the space of love is so important. It helps you to raise the vibration of your whole being, including your body. No part of you is left out, and the more you have a uniform vibration throughout your being, the more you can interact with any element or aspect of your life with love. In truth, when you settle into a healthy, natural vibration on whatever level you need to be, life can become more effortless than ever before because you're no longer shackled to huge boulders of pain. I can't tell you how physical this has been for me. When a big issue has dropped out, I truly have felt physically lighter and more flexible. It's an amazing feeling.

That is the gift of anchoring loving awareness in the body and not trying to hide from the difficulties that life, family, sexuality, and other more challenging issues present us. That is the gift of raising your vibration throughout the whole of you.

Many thanks to my student Jenn for today's picture with many states of vibration all interacting together.
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