Strength

Strength

You requested that I write about strength.  This is my interpretation of the word….

“It’s when you know that you’ve been beaten before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”  (Harper Lee)

All of us have been through overwhelming experiences that can transform one’s being…but it takes strength and courage to raise or elevate through suffering and pain.  Strength, to me, is saying “no” to an unhealthy relationship that isn’t right for you, walking away from 28 years of marriage and starting again, writing Christmas cards in the memory of your mother a month after she passes away, getting buzzed through those jail doors that bring up ugly childhood memories, and not picking up that bottle, when you really want to, after years of sobriety.  Sometimes it’s a simple, “I am sorry.  I messed up.  Please forgive me.”

It’s that loss of innocence when you want to carve “fuck you” into your wrist for the world to see, but instead…..”you begin again, no matter what”.  It’s recognizing those uneven sidewalks of life, taking a few missteps, stumbling along but finally deciding to take the HARDER path.  Deciding to look at what’s at stake but doing the right thing anyway.

Strength is trusting and believing that you can make the right choice the next time, and if you don’t, saying, “I love you still” even when you are tired and alone.  The harder side of strength is watching the sun go down, surrendering, and letting your soul be healed.  Moving beyond your wounds and recognizing that you have the power and the choice in life to live with honor and integrity.

Each of us has our own method of finding our way through the storm and we can only call on what we have within us, to help cope in times of difficulty. However, you choose to be strong or courageous, just make sure that you can say “I wouldn’t have it any other way” and “I love you still”.

Dedicated to Unit 10

The Mind's Iceberg

The Mind's Iceberg

You asked me to write about mindfulness the last time I taught.  The human mind is such a complex thing – a bundle of gray, black, white and red mass wrapped up with emotions, memories and rational thinking….constantly trying to make sense of our lives.  That persistent tug between light and dark.  We are bombarded with sorrows and joys sometimes only seconds apart in our thoughts.  The secrets and suffering we sometimes keep from others…. and even ourselves…. as we really don’t want to face them….but oh, how our mind doesn’t let us escape for a second.  It pulls us in so many directions sometimes making us feel restricted and confined. I must acknowledge that most people suffer in silence as it is hard to put down the heavy stuff that floats around within us.  I call this being a prisoner of our own mind.  How do we get on the “outs” of our own mind?  How do you go beyond the world of thoughts to the wisdom of the Divine Self?  It takes practice to look within and still the mind.  The yogis say when the mind is undisciplined the senses run like wild horses.  They say the key to mindfulness is to learn how to sit with unpleasant experiences and thoughts and just explore them with acceptance, interest and nonjudgement.  The capacity to be open and accepting even when the experience is difficult.  The Buddha believes in training the mind through meditation.  He felt that when one learns to truly meditate, you can aim thoughts with the accuracy and power of a skilled archer; instead of thoughts going in all directions each one finds its mark.  He states, “More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm”. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that you deserve to be the champion of your own transformation.  By visiting your unconscious self, I hope you see what your future can bring.  You deserve to be completely found in your surroundings not lost in your mind.  Hold on tight to the divine beauty and stillness within and live with all the presence that I know you deserve.

The Harz Journey

During the past few months the world has been turbulent and murky, but the question is; Do you want to get pulled down into the dark undertow?   For instance, certain agencies and monopolies restructuring by moving organization boxes around with a primitive narcissistic quality that honors a powerful perversion of the egotistical few.    Those in the “inner circle” displacing friendly faces from job functions so that they can promote their “org chart box” up a little higher for that pension payout.  No talent needed when you are the main game in town and have very little care for market share.  Can you sleep at night knowing people are worried for their jobs and have families to feed?  Ah yes, you can …..good for you…..go buy that new BMW.  Sounds like politics, doesn’t it?

So many “leaders” out there who only care about personal power and greed.  I had a conversation with a successful businessman who buys expensive toys and real estate for “investments” and “fun,” yet fails to realize that restless external experiences and attachments will never fill his soul.   Over 80,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh reporting mass rape and families being burned in their homes.  Systematic, deliberate and senseless slaughter by butchers that used their knives to harm versus to heal.  The world can’t turn its’ back on mass genocide again…..or can it?  How have we become selfish and sacrificial lambs following the wolves to their dens?  Why are so many people lacking consideration for others and only concerned with their personal profit and pleasure?

Having said that, I catch myself in my own defense mechanisms in which unacceptable instinctual drives are not always for the “Higher Good”.  Words and actions that I used in the past, to push people away, were lower than Charon moving the souls of the deceased across the rivers of Styx and Acheron to Hades.  I could be doing more to help this world, yet when these events hurt my head and heart, I only emote through sublimating my thoughts onto paper. 

There is a corrosive sadistic tendency to seek for pleasure and profit outside of us rather than from within.  Trying relationships, jobs, and experiences on like a new shirt but when they become a little tiresome, difficult or worn…..we cast them aside and move on to the next “shiny thing”’ to feed our egos.  My mind begins to focus on the question – Why do people (myself sometimes included) keep remaining unfulfilled no matter how much power, sex, pleasure, and money they seem to achieve?  My answer is that we need a paradigm shift forcing us off our hedonistic treadmill launching us into the light (Please google “hedonistic treadmill” - it is really an interesting psychological term). 

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could use our disappointments, restlessness and frustrations to power creative endeavors, scientific breakthroughs, and selfless service?  Trade our envy, hate, ego and restless nature into more productive channels such as compassion, appreciation and gratitude.  What would happen if we substituted narcissistic aims for ethical and fruitful alternatives?   

The answers are right in front of us in ancient spiritual texts but many of us are unaware, “Practice right conduct, learning and teaching; be truthful always, learning and teaching; master the passions; learning and teaching, control the senses, learning and teaching; strive for peace always, learning and teaching, serve humanity, learning and teaching…..this is necessary for spiritual progress“  (Upanishads). ”Freedom is that triumphant state of consciousness that is beyond the influence of desire.  The mind ceases to thirst for anything it has seen or heard of; even what is promised in the scriptures.” (Yoga Sutras) 

I have hope for the liberating power of the rebellious few who overcome the black veil of egotistical tyranny.  We have a choice to lead with hope, love and service or fear, greed, and anger.  Perhaps stop running away…..and anchor down within the true nature of yourself and become untouched by your afflictions and desires.  Consider becoming a monarch of internal practices through meditation on your inner light and spiritual practice (whatever that is for you).  The answer is within but it is up to you to find it.  You can keep wandering aimlessly on the dusty plains of desire or be a true hero such as Heracles who journeyed to the underworld with Charon BUT returned alive to be a divine PROTECTOR of mankind.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave this world with the taste of a coin in my mouth….. 

 

When The Lights Start Flashing....

Two weeks ago, while teaching yoga, I offered nine beautiful, loving and resilient teenage girls a simple choice…to pick their word.  “I want to write you a story, but you get to choose what it is about. The story will be based on one of the four words that I present to you - joy, persistence, fear or truth. What do you pick?” I inquired.   Hands shot up, you took a vote, for a winning choice of “joy” and “persistence”.   Ok – so I gave you two words - because I am a sucker like that.  I decided to write about what I know best, and picked “persistence” for our first story.  Here it is…. 

He threw a white trash bag hitting me squarely in the chest.  “Pack your clothes in here when you leave.  You don’t deserve a suitcase because you are trash.”  He slurred his words as he said it.  I was sixteen years old and my stepfather was drunk and we were home alone.  My life is sometimes difficult to write about because it is easier to ignore the messy parts.  However, as I get older, the continual lesson for me is that the cracks in our past provide the light for our future if we choose to do one thing……”persist”. 

I think that is one of our common threads – every time I teach you there is a bond of persistence and strength.  I understand how difficult it is to beat those prevailing thoughts that stir up ugly voices in the mind. I want you to know we are the same. You can beat the drunken demons that call us trash.

I recently started researching stars because my younger self longingly gazed up at the twinkling lights, wondering if I would grow up “happy” looking at those same stars.  I wanted to run away from the dark shadows and focus on those luminous little lights that seemed to offer hope.  There is a term called a “celestial fix” which is an ancient science of position fixing that enables a navigator to transition through space without having to rely on estimated calculations to know your position.   To me the definition of persistence is shining brightly, knowing your position and focusing on that horizon.  You can’t calculate how life will go but it’s up to you to stay fixed on what you want out of it.  In the end, all achievement is powered by desire.  “You are what your deep driving desire is.”  “As your desire is, so is your will.”  “As your will, so is your deed.”  “As your deed is, so is your destiny.”  -Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

I encourage you to redirect your disappointments and frustrations to power the passions in your life.  Make it through the obstacles and heartbreak but stay steadfast despite the difficulties, continuing with grace until the end.  I understand how hard it can be to release the heavy stuff and to believe in yourself.  However, I believe that persistence has a well - defined philosophy that keeps you on track.  Working hard and bouncing back from set-backs is part of that philosophy.  You must have short term goals that help you achieve your overarching passion…and most of all you MUST have hope and faith. Keep a growth mindset, optimistic self-talk, and persevere over adversity.   I find it beautiful that you picked the two words that you did.  Beautifully “ironic” because you “persistently” bring me “joy” every time I teach and spend time with you.  Love you all.  Persistently love yourself.  Lisa 

Dedicated to Unit 10

 

 

The Glorious Truth.......

The Universe loves me, and somehow this will work out to my advantage.”  This is my mantra and I fully embrace it.  I hope you do too.  This blog is about speaking your "Truth" or as Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras calls it “Satya”.  I am amazed at how easily the phrase “I love you” can roll off a dragons’ tongue.  This blog is about owning the words that escape your lips and the consequences that supersede them. “Sorry” and “I love you” are so overused these days that I am beginning to wonder what are the “real words” that bind us together?    I am learning all over again…and again…and again… about TRUTH.    

Satya applies to all aspects of our life and it is much more than “not telling lies”.  The word “sat” literally translates as “true essence” or “true nature” – but it means more than “truth,” it is something that is unchanged and pure.  First, however, we need to work on building an honest and truthful relationship with ourselves or we can’t be honest with any other part of our life.

Sometimes it is exceedingly difficult to be honest with who you are and where you are at.  Sometimes you need to get lost to find yourself again…..and sometimes…….you learn about yourself when you understand and accept people for the suffering that they are in.  However, that does NOT mean you invite unhealthy relationships into your life…..as my teacher says, “You can love them from a distance.” Finally, at 49, I have learned this lesson.

We can offer our own personal experience as our Truth.  We can choose to be slaves to our own fictions, stumble through life, or honest words can bring us together.  Here is my Truth and maybe it will speak to you…..or not:  I recently opened up my heart fully.  I never did anything like this before and it was paralyzing.  However, I didn’t want to let shame and fear from my past relationships create a muzzle of silence on my heart.  With that said, it took a lot of courage for me to lower my defenses and reach out with that much vulnerability.    I wanted to lead with hope and not fear for once in my life.   I did it, and even though it didn’t work out, I was True to myself and now I am moving far away from “that which does not serve me.”

“Honesty is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it be romantic, plutonic or within our families, but letting our ego get in the way of our heart can often stop us from forming meaningful relationships with others.  Being truthful is something appreciated by everyone, and when others know we are honest towards them, we’ll build a trusting relationship where others know they can look to us for honesty.”

Difficult situations can offer us an opportunity to open up to the Truth if we are ready for it.  The challenge is for us to be completely honest with ourselves, slow down, calm the mind, and create a little space to sit in the discomfort.  When we are reactive to situations on an emotional level, we can miss seeing the Truth because we are coming from a place of fear. 

I heard a song today called “Glorious” and it moved me.  The main theme of the lyrics were:  “Don’t forget that you are Glorious and can always take a chance and start again.  You have made it through darker times and now you deserve to see the sunrise. The world is up for grabs.”  Here is my version:  Don’t forget your Truth.  There is no force more powerful than a woman being brave and strong when in a tough position and learning to balance it with ease and grace.  Always, always, always…….. embrace your Glorious TRUTH……

(This is dedicated to the girls in Unit 10.  You know who you are.  Thank you for the amazing class today focusing on Our Truth.  Thank you for the honor of teaching you.  I love you all.)

Watering Concrete

flowers-sidewalk-crack.jpg

“You pray to God for inner peace, and he sends you a storm” (Baron Baptiste). The Devine recently decided to deliver me a monsoon with a torrential downpour and I became a natural disaster.  Instead of rain and wind, it was anger and hurt pelting off my face, dripping into my eyes, and blindly leading me off a cliff.  Relationships can be a tricky thing.  Sometimes it shocks me at the amount of pain we put on ourselves and one another, when we should be coming together for the Higher Good. We keep watering concrete expecting flowers to grow, perplexed when only weeds peek through the cracks.  Like lipstick that wears over time the beauty of the initial moment fades and we realize how much courage it really takes to commit to someone. 

You may think I am writing about my last relationship, and you couldn’t be more wrong. I am talking about committing to the relationship with the True Self, the Divinity within me.  Sometimes we need to experience suffering and sorrow to really become awake.  I am appreciating the need to work on anchoring into my deeper nature and flowing with pain and suffering instead of reacting and withdrawing from it.    One way, for me, to re-connect and ground down is to write freely through disclosing, softening and revealing.  Intimacy happens when you open and can stand with others and grow together versus being “right”.  I am learning that intimacy with my True Self begins by letting go of my social persona that covers up my feelings.  We all have layers of personas when our true nature is that of radiant goodness.  Ego identity causes suffering.   “The path of yoga is the path of self-discovery. As our self-image disintegrates, we contact our True Self. Life becomes a great joy.” (Amrit Desai)

My hope for everyone reading this blog is to grow and awaken to your True Nature.  I believe our job, in this human form, is to learn to love the perfectly imperfect being on this planet…..YOU.  “This journey is not about self improvement, it is about self acceptance.”  (Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa)  Only then can we grow together by letting down our walls of defense, instead, gracefully and courageously vaulting over it with compassion and love.  

Discomfort is a component of growth and love is pure risk.  I am constantly reminded in my spiritual practice to sit in discomfort, as it takes much more courage and strength to embrace pain and suffering while “opening to life as it is”.  I recognize that suffering is deep.  A son “shouldn’t” find his dead father in bed, while a daughter “shouldn’t” be found crying in his closet agonizing over which plaid shirt to bury their father in.  14 year olds “shouldn’t” be in prison with scars traveling up the length of both wrists.  Children “shouldn’t” need to worry about the shot gun in their parents’ closet.  So many “shouldn’ts” that I don’t pretend to understand.  Here is what I DO believe - you “shouldn’t” let your heart turn to concrete – pain is where the true blossoming takes place.  Instead maybe consider turning to a higher power (whatever that is to you) and being an ardent disciple of your heart.  Imagine making room for planting new seeds of growth within by tenderly watering and nurturing your soul.  Please join me in taking advantage of those heavy rains by resting in your True Nature of love, forgiveness, and acceptance of “what is”….maybe we can all grow slowly with equanimity….together.  “By our own stumbling the world is perfected.”  (Yogi Bhajan)