So much talk about the season of merriment and light, yet for so many…
The paradox of the holidays.
It can be said that there is wisdom to be gained through challenge, hardship and suffering. It can also be said that there is deep learning and truth to be gained.
Because when we are in a “dark night of the soul”, the deepest part of our being reaches out for a more valuable connection with heart and spirit.
This, however, may not be immediately apparent to the ego self.
In the midst of pain, anger, grief, or sorrow, the ego self becomes attached to specific outcomes – “I will feel better when…,” and cannot see the possibility for learning and for a greater life on the other side.
This paradox is hard for the human self to grasp when feeling the heaviness of pain. Our most human response to suffering is to want to end it, and the human heart cannot help but believe that what it feels, the deprivation of joy, love, and, even hope, cannot possibly be the source of something good.
And yet, in the darkest hour of the night, there is a sharpening of vision, and what appears empty and dark, suddenly holds the promise of light.
In this sense, a dark night of the soul may first appear as if all the light has gone out, but the soul continues to support the seeking of light and continues to radiate and attract light toward the self that suffers and struggles.
After all, isn’t it true that when we feel disconnected from joy and love, we begin to seek that joy and love with a more willing and malleable heart? We begin to see the glimmers of light where moments before there were none to see.
Light attracts light even in the darkest hour.
This is the divine beauty of the soul.
From this perspective, the holidays – holy days – is the ideal and soulful time for our journey into the light… the surrender into the light of our own being.
A reminder that the holy days, regardless of religion, culture, language, country, or ethnicity, are an invitation to love freely – without the need for reciprocity or finding worthiness in another.
An invitation to practice love loving love – the practice of being present and loving for the sake of loving.
To love openly because we are all soulful beings and, in the eyes of the Divine, are all equal – no one better or worse, more spiritual or less. The only distinction that each of us arrived on earth with different soul curriculums.
The holidays are high holy days because they serve as reminders of the holy that resides in each of us.
A sacred summons to seek the Divine in another.
A reminder that all moments are for our highest purpose.
Wishing you the most beautiful holiday season.
May it be filled with bliss, compassion, peace, and a heart filled with love.
With all my love,
“Love is holy because it is like grace – the worthiness of its object never really matters.”
– Marilynn Robinson
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love food… and I am enamored with sweet potatoes and yams. My love for them is so great that it is not uncommon for me to make several sweet potatoes and yams recipes on this holiday. There’s also the mashed potatoes and gravy, watching the dog show (I usually eat my first batch of sweet potatoes while watching this), the turkey, and spending time with family.
But, what I love most about this holiday is that it is a day we set aside to deepen in the practice of gratitude.
Because giving thanks helps us recognize, appreciate, and gift ourselves and others transformation.
When we express gratitude, we open up to love, and we are reminded that, although not perfect and sometimes downright painful, there is sweetness, expansion, and healing woven into life.
Have you ever noticed how saying thank you can change you and your outlook on things? Have you seen someone transform in front of your eyes when given gratitude?
We may not get transported to a place of glitter and perfection and the bad doesn’t necessarily go away.
What we can experience is a shift and lightness in our emotions. Our sense of connection and presence in the moment may deepen. There is a reminder that grace always seems to appear when we need it the most.
Research has also found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being.
Giving thanks can also impact the overall experience of happiness which can be long-lasting.
Now, I get it. It’s not always easy to express gratitude or to find ourselves in a state of thankfulness.
Four ways to Cultivate Gratitude on Thanks-Giving
- Say thank you often. Look for opportunities to say it — particularly to those who serve you.
- Practice not gossiping, complaining, or judging for the day. (You can do it!)
- It is vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. We don’t have total control over our emotions. We cannot will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Yet how we look at things is dictated by how we feel about them. Being grateful is a choice: We can feel grateful and not be grateful towards the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives.
- Engage in compassionate forgiveness. Sitting at a table with family discord and conflict is never easy, but for that day (and every day after if you choose), remember that at any given moment we all do the best we can. If he/she/they, had thought of something better to do or say, then they would have done it.
I also want to take the opportunity to give Thanks to YOU.
Thank you for showing up.
Thank you for allowing me to be of service.
Thank you for engaging with me.
Thank you for sharing your time, your attention, and to many of you, your heart and soul.
Wishing you a blessed and delicious Thanks-Giving,
So… much… going… on… right… now!
There are tsunami-size waves of social change occurring. We can’t go very long or very far without witnessing or being exposed to an injustice or human darkness.
I don’t know about you but there are moments when it all feels like there’s a huge wall separating us from where we are and where we want to be, what we imagine life can really be like.
We want to take it down, but we have no idea yet how to do it. Leading us to feeling overwhelmed and overly triggered, wanting to run, hide, enraged, frozen, or all of the above.
At least that’s what I tell myself…BREATHE. Because change is not easy and it is always the darkest before the light appears.
And, I am also reminding myself that no matter what is happening I have a choice in how to respond and how to be with myself, and how I can contribute to making this world a little brighter.
Each of us has a spot on that wall where we can choose to either help break it down or to put up another brick.
We each have our talents, our gifts, our work, our light. That’s our chisel in helping break down that wall.
We don’t have to do it all. The ego mind likes to think we do which usually results in us freezing.
We don’t have to hammer things down. Force and violence never work.
We don’t have to be anyone other than who we are.
We don’t have to do anyone else’s work. No need for over-responsibility or playing the rescuer. Both serve as distractions from our own work.
We can pick one thing, and give it our all.
And chisel away at that spot… over and over again.
By taking that one spot, that one space inside ourselves that feels triggered, that feels tender, that feels vulnerable. Not pretending we don’t feel or blaming for feeling. Being with that spot… loving it… being compassionate with it.
And then, when we are ready, practicing forgiving. Forgiving our judgement, our misunderstanding, our not knowing any better. Again and again because forgiveness is a practice, not an event.
Here’s the most wonderful thing of all…
… each of us are doing our work, chiseling way one spot, then collectively, eventually, together we will bring that wall down.
What we learn then is that every wall we encounter – both inner and outer – are post signs, reminders that more love and compassion are needed.
More love please.
Your tender spots matter.
Your gifts and your tools matter.
You are here for an important reason.
Because together, that wall comes down.
And together… WE RISE.
Many have arrived to my office this week stunned and in disbelief over the events in Charlottesville. Some asking how to deal with the fear and anger. Others inquiring about the notion of love replacing hate.
One of the things I love about my practice is that I get to serve a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-lingual population. Many of my couples are of mixed ethnicity and even mixed religions. Once during a women’s event, we looked around the room and experience such joy that in the circle were Christians, Catholics, Buddhist, and Muslim women of varying ages and cultures. One woman stated, “We can teach the UN a few things.”
There is a part of me that perhaps is a bit Pollyanna always looking for the good, the silver lining in everything: darkness always leads to light and after every storm there is always calm.
I admit that given the political climate of this country, it gets a little hard at times. Today, I sat with a knot in my stomach and tears in my eyes. Hate spewing out of so many. The silver lining becoming dimmer at times.
Hate is defined as the intense or passionate dislike for something or someone. Hate helps build the illusion of separation, of being different, of competition over false identities. This mixed with prejudices and judgements can be combustible.
Love on the other hand, is having affection, love, compassion for ourselves and for every other being. It opens us up to see the beauty in things and the good in others. It serves as a reminder that in God’s eyes, we are all the same. A homeless man is no better than the one living in a mansion.
Love can erase hate because if we practice love and being in our loving, we are aware of our prejudices and we are willing to be curious and inquire about them. We question the validity, where we learned it, how it serves us, and our willingness to change it.
I for one do not believe in being colorblind. In full transparency here… when someone tells me that they don’t see race, they don’t see color…. I gulp. It’s natural to see the difference in others. What is not natural is closing down our hearts because of what we assume to know because of another’s skin color, religion, culture, or ethnicity.
When we allow ourselves to be curious and inquire about our assumptions, we actually open our hearts a little more. And when we forgive ourselves and our assumptions, we elevate the whole planet.
The alternative is ignoring our assumptions to the point where we judge ourselves for having them. And given that life is a mirror into ourselves, we eventually see in others what we dislike in ourselves. We then use hate to fuel and give ourselves permission to blame those that remind us of what we do not want to see in ourselves.
So can love erase hate?
Yes… it can and it eventually will.
In the meantime, please remember that you are love, are loved, and you were made to love. Don’t shut down or don’t push away. Once you center yourself in this, take it to the streets. Go out and be in your loving with others.
Here I arrive at my silver lining which is remembering….
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Be the light we all need to brighten our world a little more today🌟.
With all my love,
If we are all spiritual beings having a human experience, then our greatest learning instrument is our body.
Let’s start with our most human parts. Our belly being the keeper of our emotions and the archaic stories of our tribe. Our hips helping us move in the world. Some with more relaxation, others with more tension… both being okay. Our pelvic floor rooting us to Mother Earth and the place where we connect and disconnect from everyone else. All of it showing up for our learning and expansion.
Throat, eyes, and crown being our more ethereal and abstract parts. Our throat seeking to speak our truth, sing what we feel, and shout what we must say at times. Our eyes guiding us to what we envision for ourselves. The eyes also being the mirror, gateway to the soul – the core of our being that carries no stories of hurts or dissatisfaction, but just pure loving. Our crown being the spot in our body that is most connected to that which is higher than us. Call it any name you want – God, Yahweh, Allah, Spirit, Universe, Goddess – it is all the same. It is the part of us that leads the inquiry into who we are, what life is about, and seeks meaning to our existence.
This leads us to the heart. The part that balances the ethereal and the human, the part where love resides. It is in our heart space that love is born, love is given, and love is received. Stories do not exist here. When we are born, breath comes through here. And when we leave our body, breath comes through here. It is the place where we nourish our human desire to connect and our soul’s calling to expand.
So where does the brain fit into all of this?
Your body is the vehicle while your mind is the navigation system. They work together, not separately or in contradiction of each other.
We are the drivers of our ride. When we decide to go right, we go right. When we decide to turn left, we go left. The navigation does not take over, but simply helps us get there. From time to time the navigation system gives us feedback “maintenance required,” “hazard,” or even “system overload,” but it does not take over the driving. Therefore the only time our minds take over is when we forget how powerful and divine we really are.
You are a spiritual being having a human experience. You came equipped with all you need to handle this crazy and delicious life ride.
So next time the navigation system wants to take over, here are a few suggestions:
- Breathe s-l-o-w-l-y feeling every inch of your being. Notice where the tension is. Breathe into that area.
- Place one hand over heart and the other over the area tension and say, “I am a spiritual being having a human experience and I arrived equipped with what is exactly needed at all times.” Repeat as needed…and breathe.
- Celebrate the good moments. Don’t wait to remember you are human only in the negative, heavy moments. Celebrate the happy feelings because they too are part of this ride.
Loving and supporting you,
Photo by Craig Whitehead
I believe that we are all divine beings having a human experience.
I often imagine that before we made the choice to come to the earth school, we all surrounded a giant bond fire where God tells us about a special “life” planned for us. We are so happy to learn and grow and be human that we give a resounding “yes” to life in store for us. We crave the all the lessons. We go all in.
We all chose to come here and inhabit our human body. We chose all the funny curves, bumps, and dimples. We chose our families – our mother, father, grandparents, and even our crazy uncle, because before we took human form, we knew that our bodies and our loved ones were the perfect ones to teach our souls the very lessons that we craved to learn. As life progresses, we also attract others to help us learn lessons in a deeper level. Of course, the one relationship that provides us the best and deepest opportunities of learning and growing is our romantic relationships.
From my point of view, the problem is that part of the human condition is that we forget that we chose. We forget so that we can actually learn the lessons. We forget so that we can fully live each moment. We also develop an ego. We develop the ego to help us survive our human condition. Because as humans we crave attention and to feel loved. Our ego begins to believe that for us to be loved by others, we have to abide by certain conditions. Out of fear of losing this love, it begins to create stories and beliefs about how the world works and how we should be in it. I find that when a phrase such as “I am personally offended” is used it is our ego that is reacting.
The ego is not a bad aspect. It is the part of us that has forgotten its divine nature. It has forgotten about the excitement we felt at the bond fire. The ego is the aspect of us that is the most human. It feeds on fear, judging, wronging others and ourselves, and keeps most aligned with how things should be. I often see my ego as a young adolescent learning how to drive – unsure of herself, not sure how to deal with traffic, not knowing how turn, pressing the gas and break pedals too much or not enough. The driving instructor is my higher self, my divine nature – the aspect that remembers I am a soul. It gently reminds my fearful teenage driver how to focus and how to hold herself behind the driving wheel. Always with great love and compassion. From time to time, the driving instructor takes the wheel, moments of smooth driving, leaving the teenage driver afraid she did something wrong, but at times, although she may not always acknowledge aloud or even to herself, quite grateful.