Why oh why?
This is it!... Brand new year. Brand new day. Brand new moment. Just for you.
The miracle of life is at hand. Can you feel it? Right now. The pounding of your heart. The swoosh of your breath. The sound of your seven-foot Target receipt printing. The cashier's apologetic smile. Life is NOW. A fresh beginning offered in each moment, birthed with every breath. This, my friend, is all we really ever have.
In this season of my life, I am practicing the Art of Presence, a baby-step-my-way-for-the-rest-of-my-life spiritual practice of intentionally leaning away from my relentless thinking, solving, obsessing, and story-telling mind, and dropping into my body to bring my awareness into my senses, my open heart, and to the present moment. Breathing. Allowing. Accepting.
All of it: the sadness, the joy, the unwanted circumstances, the blessings, the love, the grief, the punitive thoughts, the divine guidance, all of it.
Why? Because I can't work with myself until I meet all of myself with understanding.
The whole, entire spiritual enchilada : Acceptance is Queen.
That’s it. We may believe that our spiritual journey is all about self-improvement, but in fact it is about self-acceptance and self-love. Presence with life. Acceptance is the true spiritual mission, and the road home to Wholeness. and while that may sound simple, it is far from easy.
So, just 'how' do I bring this spiritual practice of presence (emphasis on practice) into real everyday life? Meditation, of course.. Yes, I said it. The key to all of life is meditation. Deal with it, sister. Two hands down, the greatest muscle builder (and life-changer) of becoming True Presence - to self, others, and life - is meditation.
For those of you who just gasped, I get it. Really, I do. I remember the pain of accepting this truth that is spoken by every single spiritual teacher in the Universe. I waffled and bargained and wished it away. Wishing there was just an easier way of coming home to myself than actually being with myself. But one teary morning on my back porch, out of sheer desperation for a new flavor of romantic love, I committed to a meditation practice. I simply started. And, that decision, that inner knowing, would turn out to be the most epic love resolution/revolution of my life.
On that frigid first of January morning, I resolved to just sit, every morning, for five minutes, without a goal or a need to achieve a meditative state, in the name of love. To come to know it, and to become it for myself so that I could stop begging others to be it for me. They would forever fail me, for they simply were not my True Source of love. Ten years later, my practice, which has a life of it’s own, has developed and evolved into the most delicious part of my day. The beginning and end to my everything. For me, life falls into place after meditation.
Why did I sit? Even when I didn't want to, and especially when I thought that I sucked at it? I was committed deep inside, every cell was in agreement with the mission of creating the daily space for stillness to learn to be with myself, to hear and know myself, and to even learn to love and accept myself. I simply had a WHY- a damn good reason- the willingness to sit my bootie down everyday. Yes, you guessed it, SCIENCE. I wanted to (needed to) rewire and nourish my brain, immune system, and nervous system, or in layman’s terms, I JUST WANTED TO EFFING FEEL BETTER emotionally, physically, and mentally. I wanted to feel and know love. And so it was, and so it is.
All positive change happens in one moment—the decision to love. Success does not happen at the finish line, it happens at the starting line, it is in the walking-it-out, and then that discipline made from love naturally turns into a blissipline.
Here's the big fat truth: We have to find our 'WHY'. Sheer will power will only carry us so far. (Ps. How is that new years resolution from last year working out for you?)
Most importantly, to truly transform from the inside out, the why must be chosen from a deeper place of love because unconscious intention trumps conscious intention, every time. If you are not doing that thing that you really want to do, the opportunity is to dive deep and listen for that unconscious intention, meet your self-sabotage with understanding and compassion, carry it into your loving heart, and then you can choose to release it and rewrite it with a new, conscious intention that is in integrity with your truth.
For example, I used to try to "lose weight" by trying every new trendy diet and/or exercising myself to death, to no avail. The junk in my trunk remained. Why oh why didn't eating barrels of kale and zero carbs and running seven days a week work long term? It was not sustainable; I had a deeper (and louder) commitment to binge eat as a way of avoiding my shame and powerlessness than I did to sincerely creating a healthy, balanced, loving relationship with my body and food.
My surface commitment : get skinny.
My deeper, unconscious commitment : I can't handle feeling my shame, it might actually kill me, so I have to eat to push it away. That's how I survive. *picks up fork*
The reframed commitment after my inner awakening: My power is tucked inside my pain. I have the strength to feel my feelings, to listen to their messages, and to give myself what I really need. Therefore, I set my intention to create a healthy and loving relationship with my emotions, food, and my beloved body. Accordingly, the shape and size of my body was not my concern, and the amount of emotional upset that I experienced per day did not require negative judgment by me. My only business was to breathe love and appreciation into the precious vehicle of my spirit, and to listen to the emotional intelligence of my pain body when it was triggered so that I could soothe it with the compassion it was so desperate to receive.
Over the years, as I learned how to feel and regulate my emotions, I became a conscious eater and exerciser, walking my unconscious binger and exercise tyrant home to love, and thus my body slowly and organically transformed into what I call my "God body"— the original gift, free of guilt and abuse.
If you are feeling the heart tug to meditate or feel your feelings instead of eat them or stop buying everything that you don’t need at Target but believe that you can't because you suck at it, or can’t carve the time and space, I would offer for your consideration that you simply have not located your 'why'. You are committed to something else. You see, we are always in power, choosing what we do, from the inside out.
Step one. Ask yourself : Why oh why do I want to do this thing for myself?
Is it worth my precious time? Will it uplift, support, and nourish me? Will it bring me into more alignment with who I truly am? Do I really, really, really want this for myself or do I need to remove it from the should-do list and just go have some fun?
Then, if your answer is still YES, let the truth-telling begin : Why oh why am I NOT doing this thing that I really want to do?
There is a commitment to something else tucked in your unconscious, blocking you from following your desire.
Say thank you for how it served you.
Place it in a bubble of light and release it to the sky like a balloon.
Rewrite your intention, in love.
Prepare to be in integrity with yourself and your true desires.
Laugh out loud.
Find your loving why for anything that you desire in your life and watch your life transform before your eyes.
The pain of meditation is worth it. The pain of feeling our shame and guilt is worth it. The commitment of any kind to any form of loving self-care is always worth it.
Cheers and happy new beginnings! Let's hold hands and live from love, from the inside out, one precious, life-giving moment at a time.
This is it!
Ahh, all the pretty Christmas lights and bows, cards and clothes! I am a sucker for all of it, dazzled by every movie, party, holiday menu, frasier fir candle, and well-wrapped package. One of “those people”. A rejoicer in the holidays. Clark Griswold’s twin flame. (Is it possible to be an over-rejoicer?) It’s just all so gloriously warm and festive, joyful and triumphant.
(Until it isn’t.)
It occurs to me that I came by this honestly. You can blame my mother for your annoyance with the “MERRY!” t-shirt that I wear everyday. I am completely innocent in this deal. It is simply my conditioning, because to be in her home for the holidays was to be in heaven on earth.
The fireplace was lit, Nat King Cole played gently, red and green candles flickered, and the oven filled the house with fragrances that smelled like pure love. Her strong suit: palpable warmth. As a child, my whole body felt the meaning of Christmas when I woke up and walked into the living room. I felt the presence of love in her broad smile when she saw us, and in the way that she created a day rich with beauty, food, gratitude, laughter, and celebration, just for us.
And I received it.
It was cemented in my bones as "the way" we do the holidays. Her way. The way that I caught that feeling again: I am loved.
Even as an adult, I had a death grip on each detail, wanting the food, the music, the traditions to be exactly as they had been. An eternal child longing to receive that moment of warmth and presence.
It turned out that this thing that I was chasing, the holiday high, was temporary and fleeting, gone with the wind of the winter solstice and the death of my mother.
The holidays are a tender, sentimental season, exacerbating everything that lives beneath the surface. The joy and the loss, the celebration and the pain. We are story-making, meaning-giving creatures, doomed to recreate the familiar until we rewrite it for ourselves. We all come by our holiday experience honestly, either trying to (re)create all that was, or mourning all that wasn’t, or all that has passed away. We are the rejoicers and the bah-humbuggers of our childhood, innocent children craving love.
After both of my parents passed, I had to face my holiday emptiness, and that “her way” was complete. I had to find new meaning—a deeper, non-fleeting meaning— as the old meaning had dissolved along with her physical form. Boy, had I given meaning to that one day. It carried so much weight, this perfect day packed with family and joy and celebration, now so empty. A listless, deflated balloon lying on the floor.
Just like the cycles of nature, her death was offering me a rebirth—the gift of going inside and finding my very own interpretation and celebration of Christmas. Life. Death. New life.
My way. What does Christmas really mean to me? How do I experience the true meaning of it inside of me?
It took time. Years of rolling around on the floor with my suffering, and holding and nurturing my hurting little girl inside, until finally a Mystics Christmas was born onto me.
Grace is an island in the middle of the sea. I had to dive deep into the ocean of my consciousness, swimming through the darkness to get to the light, to unwrap my version of a conscious Christmas. The mystic in me knew that if I kept holding the surface beliefs—that family is what Christmas is all about—or friends, or loved ones, or anything outside of me— that I would be left holding the empty balloon at the holidays, over and over. Because if the meaning of Christmas is family and then family is gone….what then?
It is deeper than that. It has to be, for all that is temporal will pass away. That is the promise. We will all be left with our aloneness, just like Jesus on the cross, the beautiful truth of aloneness. My desire was to find the eternal in me and bring it into my holiday experience. And more importantly, into my everyday experience.
As love would have it, I lost three beloveds and a beloved dog in less than three years. My heart was literally broken open, the deep loss cracking the shell around it, revealing the compassion that lived deep in me as I came to know the black grief, in the one and all. I received the great gift of death and grief—the softening of my heart—and for the first time, I could relate to the pain of the world. I understood it, intimately. It was then that the whole world became my new family. No longer afraid of grief or rage, I could hold it with tenderness for others because I knew of its sacredness. For the sacred had had its way with me, leaving me all alone in the wholeness and perfection of my connection with Spirit.
For me, this is the mystical walk of the Jesus to the Christ. The journey in all of us of releasing our identification with our physical body and ego, and coming into our true spiritual identity. My life experiences walked me to a place of accepting that, in the end, I am walking this planet all alone, but that I am never alone. My connection to my Higher Self and Source is all that is really here for me.
The rewrite. My holidays are a time of reflecting upon and accepting my innocence and holiness, the Christ Light in me, and in “other”, the holiness of the present moment, and the holiness of the ground upon which I stand. The birth of the true I am. We are.
If there is one thing that death taught me, it is this.
Each year, I create the space for a new rewrite. My devotion to living deeper and lighter. Pulling away from the holiday demands and noise, I nurture the holy child of God that is my true nature, tapping into the pure awareness and playfulness within my child’s open heart, where there is nothing to defend against and nothing to hide, and in that space of stillness and openness, something new and divine is birthed in and through me.
My Christmas present.
This year, in the hustle and bustle of the holiday frenzy, I am birthing bringing Presence to what is. The wholeness of now. Where every moment is a holiday. Sitting in my open heart, The One Heart, that can hold it all, and honoring what is in me, in you, and what is in my life experience right now-- welcoming and accepting the sorrow and the bliss. Offering a complete YES to this moment. Whatever it is.
Acceptance is a deeply humbling spiritual practice, to be sure. Emphasis on practice. (Jesus take the wheel!) Inhaling the moment. Listening. Holding. Loving. And, releasing the moment on the exhale.
And then, I proceed to put on my HO HO HO pajamas complete with red and white striped socks, build a fire, (and probably light a frasier fir candle for bonus effect) and pour a holiday cocktail to watch Christmas vacation. Bring it, Clark.
Because, still, my mother lives on in me.
Wishing you your very own mystical Christmas… for you, and you alone, are the light of the world.