Hafiz

Poetry reveals that there is no empty space.

When your truth forsakes its shyness

when your fears surrender to your strengths

you will begin to experience

that all existence

is a teeming sea of infinite life

in a handful of ocean water

you could not count all the finely tuned

musicians

who are acting stoned

for very intelligent and sane reasons

 

and of course are becoming extremely sweet and wild

 

In a handful of the sky and earth

In a handful of g-d

We cannot count

All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there

Behind the mysterious veil

 

True art reveals there is no void

Or darkness.

 

There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic

In this luminous, brimming, playful world

 

Hafiz

 

meditation

It seems when I speak to people about ‘meditation’ that quite often it is thought of as something that looks a certain way.  These conversations are are both with those who are wanting a meditation practice and with experienced meditators.  It is interesting to witness how we sometimes put things in boxes or come to define them…..and how sometimes that definition can limit the inherent ‘magic’.

So I find myself curious about how we come to perceive and relate to meditation.  When I break it down in essence for myself …..meditation is a tool for cultivating awareness through the vehicle of ‘me’. (I realize I use many quotation marks and this is because I feel that many words and terms are quite subjective and at times illusory).

There are so many ways to dance and create within this umbrella called ‘meditation’ and in its essence….you cannot do it ‘wrong’…….and for that matter you cannot do it ‘right’.  It is a personal relationship and one that I find evolves and shifts along with me.  It is an ally, friend, support and like most things…… sometimes I feel the blessing of it and at other times the challenge.  Also, one person cannot be a ‘better’ meditator than another person.  We need to let go of creating the hierarchy through comparison and greater than /lesser than models.  If needed, give meditation a new name…….perhaps call it ‘Mystery’, ‘This’ or even ‘Fred’.  My point is that it matters not what we call it.  And if the name sets up a limitation through preconceived notions…….then ditch the name.

And we can come to know/develop a meditation practice through so many paths and possibilities…….the ‘way’ does not matter so much.  What matters is that we nurture our relationship to it…….that we actually ‘practice’ with it.  For me, this means showing up each day and meeting it wherever I am in mind, body and heart.  When we show up to meet it regularly (even for 5 minutes) ……that is the practice.  It does not matter if your mind was quiet or busy…….all that matters is that you take the time to notice and not get attached.  This means not being attached to the thoughts or the stillness……but simply being present in each moment whether there is a caravan of thought or silence.  Meditation is ‘choosing’ to show up and simply notice without attachment.  When we do this even briefly day to day………we notice that ‘meditation’ finds its way into other moments and threads of our days.  And ‘it’ does this without effort…….

This simple deepening of awareness can offer so much to our experience of self, others, life and spirit.  And it is unique for each one of us………a well of blessing.

 

short quote

**I rarely have answers and yet find myself continuously steeped in questions**

tools?

When i reflect on the nature of all this ‘practice’ with its constant metaphor and call to dwell within a space of unconditional love……… it sometimes sounds so abstract or a romantic ideal of sorts.  And I know people say it isn’t possible to love yourself every moment with such compassion and infinite heart.  And yet it is a practical and lived experience for me.  One that doesn’t exclude my being cranky and falling short……I do not float on a cloud all day.  I live my human experience with all my personality and opinions but am not attached to them ultimately.  I seek to find balance with my more expansive and innate wisdom which helps me to get out of my own way of cutting myself off from this vast source of unconditional love.  And I do it with practice and commitment.

Along the way I have so many people ask if I can tell them how they can find these connections and states of being for themselves. Of course there are tools that can help…….. and I know the ones that have helped me.  And then there are so many books, programs and models that may speak to finding a path for yourself.

AND

……what i seem to arrive at again and again is that it takes personal curiosity and awareness to come to know your unique method. What works for me or a thousand other people might not work for you or the person next door. And at the same time there seem to be some consistencies ……and many gems that can offer us a leaping point towards insight and inspiration on this personal journey of development.

If I was going to offer a possibility for a general practice (which again, I think these are tricky and need personal attention and improvisation)…….I would say this:

~NOTICE ~INTERRUPT ~CHOOSE~

Notice-Everything seems to begin with awareness. This can mean many things …for me it is partly slowing the process of ‘thinking and doing’ so i can actually notice the array of thoughts, emotions, dynamics, energy, physical body and the threads that might be influencing all of these……I simply follow threads and notice what I notice. I don’t try to ‘figure it out’ per se….unless it has created a larger challenge that needs addressing.

How does this help? It is such a resource for day to day ‘being’. By simply noticing and connecting dots I am not swept up in my conditioned thinking, feeling, ego imbalance or status quo of social dynamics. The less energy I exert to tread these waters the more energy i have for being present. I am able to respond as opposed to react and I am able to connect to the source of unconditioned love within myself.  This helps to reveal more clearly the whole system of ‘greater than/lesser than’ dynamics that seem to underlie so many of our thoughts and interactions.

Interrupt- Not only do i notice the thought, behavior or energy…..I then interrupt it. It’s almost like tapping it on the shoulder and saying ‘excuse me……I see you’. It is a moment of bearing witness (without judgement) to this process inside you stimulated by an intricate web of internal and external stimulus. At first my interruptions (or pauses) were just a second or two and with time I have widened this space/gap…..widen it enough so that the actual dynamic, feeling or behavior could dissolve in force and not be running the show.  Now the spaces between happen more often without effort which allows me more resource for letting go of attachments (to judgement) and being able to be more compassionate (unconditioned) toward myself and everyone.  Along with this my nervous system on the whole can chill out and I feel myself more open to spirit and the mystery (without desire to control).

Choose-    Ahhhhhhh! I feel like opening up my awareness and interrupting habitual thoughts, feelings, attempts to control and behavior has gifted me more space and an ability to choose. I can actually be empowered moment to moment as opposed to on an auto pilot that might not be serving me and using up much of my ‘fuel’. Sometimes I choose the same things (and they aren’t always what might serve me!  :))…….but even then, something has changed in my brain and my energy because I have engaged with it. There is a feeling of wholeness and empowerment  to notice the threads and thoughts unfolding inside me, pause long enough so they don’t just sweep me up and then choose what direction I want to go. And it applies to every aspect of myself and life.  I find I am always interacting with these tools…….moment to moment.  And that is why I ask <‘why not fall in love with yourself every moment of the day?’>.  If you are actively noticing moment to moment what might be inhibiting your ability to dwell in unconditioned love…..then you sorta create space for unconditioned love to be present moment to moment.

And then all of this is just a spring board to explore within yourself……where did you find yourself curious in anything you read?  What sparked the strongest response?  What resonates for you?

We are complex and infinite beyond any of these words or ideas.   This being human is a laboratory…why not explore?

“Wonder is a state of mind in which we do not look at reality through the latticework of our memorized knowledge; in which nothing is taken for granted.”

~Abraham Joshua Heschel

So……not because I explore these ‘truths’ in me…..and not because Heschel speaks to it (along with many others we find in quotes and life)……but why not because you feel it resonate within you.

 

 

 

 

Balance

“The mind should be kept in the heart as long as it has not reached the highest end. This is wisdom and liberation. Everything else is only words.” Maitri Upanishad 6:24

I personally don’t subscribe to the hierarchical language of ‘highest’ in reference to the mind……..but this does touch on how I feel about the balance and union of heart and mind. I know some people come to think of the mind as a ‘problem’ or almost adversarial and I understand how they might arrive at this perspective.

My feeling is that the mind is part of this brilliant entity called ‘me’. My responsibility is to come to know the workings of my mind with compassion as well as come to know the workings of my heart with compassion. Then I have the journey of bringing them together in balance. This connection is essential to me. And yes, it does take ‘work’………but like anything we do……we practice and grow in it. And with time it is less effort and more enjoying of the new possibilities and freedom.

Hazrat Inyat Khan

“The human voice is a barometer for the human soul.  Its transparency reveals the soul’s every condition.  Joy, sorrow, anger and pain-each has its own voice that comes through, despite the most skillful deception.  Conversely, the sufi path teaches that by affecting  our voice, we can affect our soul, instilling in it the qualities we desire.”

There is so much to explore here in both ‘spiritual’ and scientific realms.  So much research around the nature of sound and how it affects our body and mind.  It seems endless what we are discovering and at the same time we know that there is always even more beyond what we ‘know’ and can measure.  In the spiritual realms it seems like we leap into the mystery a bit more (even though there is certainly method within practices) and allow the sound, pattern, rhythm, intention and vibration of our voices through prayer, chant and song….we allow ourselves to experience it.  We are in the current of it whether we logically understand it or not.  In speaking about this I find I can write so much about both research and personal experience and at the same time there are elements that are ineffable.

Such is this human life in many ways…..there is so much we cannot truly express in words but we keep trying.  This is where I look to balance my thinking mind and expansive heart.  My mind does an amazing job of ‘figuring things out’ and communicating through language……making sense of things.  And my heart dwells in the experience, the intuitive….the space beyond words connected to the boundlessness of all life and existence.

Ahhhhhh

So…the voice.  Is it simply a vehicle for our words??  Well, for me it is an expression of the soul and a potent link to my way of connecting body and spirit to all that exists.  The breath manifest into sound……and when combined with intention (the focused energy of mind and heart)………it feels like infinite potential.

And even if that seems a bit too ambiguous and ‘out there’ to bite into…….perhaps we can at least find that there are so many ways to explore the sound and breath that moves through us…… and the voice as a vehicle beyond the limitations of what we have come to accept.  This body, this breath…this voice……..they are our greatest laboratories to dive into our knowing, connections and expansive being.  Are you curious?

I am ………

 

 

 

diving into a ‘quote’

“What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Johann von Goethe

what does it mean to you…beyond the words…..

what else is there….


When sitting with this being human and all the dynamics of it everything seems to come back to this wide open Field of Love.  The infinite and expansive Love.

hmmmmmm

My intention is to not minimize individual experiences of struggle or challenge by suggesting that connecting to this Field of Love will make it ‘all better’. And simultaneously I know that dwelling in this Field of Love does change things in ways that give us more resource for being in those times of challenge.

I also know that when individuals are living in that Field they are less inclined to want to harm, diminish or make lesser any other individual(s).  When each of us is able to connect and live our moments from this field of Love, the dynamics of how we connect with ourselves and one another shifts.

I often think of new born babies and when they enter this world from the womb….I don’t imagine they were thinking: ‘well that was all wrong’, ‘who put that stupid light on’, ‘her hair looks terrible’ etc etc….you get the idea? They were in the moment and that moment was experiential (of the experience).  They are not in need of creating things as ‘lesser than/greater than’.  They might have preferences of what feels good or not so good but they live it in the experience of the moment.

And so we are blessed with our personalities and opinions….shaped since birth.  But why does that become a system of inner and outer criticism, perfectionism, abuse and merit scales of individual value??  Is it possible that every single breath I take is a blessing?  That I can fall in love with myself with every breath?  That my existence is valid simply for that breath.

Imagine for a moment to believe these questions/statements…….what if the truth was that your existence, validity and merit was perfected simply in every breath you take?That we have this vast Field of Love within us?  And you can allow your personality and individual uniqueness to guide your pursuit of new skills and knowledge…….but the base from which we all stand is one of equal merit, innate perfection and truly unconditional Love.

(notice any buttons pushed or attachments to any of these ideas or words)

Ahhhhhhhh.

Well, I believe this thoroughly.  Why not?  Why not believe this….it is just as viable as the flip-side.  It is as equally possible as the status quo of how we view, perceive and treat ourselves and others.  And when I dwell in this belief system I feel I have infinite more resource and joy.

People ask if this means I never fall short or say an unkind word…….to the contrary, I absolutely still fall short.  The difference now is that I notice when I do and instead of beating myself up or feeling bad……I simply bring more love to myself.  More love to whatever part of me felt like it needed to be unkind or to make someone else small through thought, word or deed.  Because it feels like it was an absence of Love that started the whole chain of events in the first place.

The more I dwell in this Field of Love…….the greater my experience of balance, joy and resource with myself, others and the world/spirit. We have tried the other way of doing things….why not give Love some space to flourish within us and see what is possible?  Why not invest in uncovering the map to where we have buried this within ourselves through our conditioning and belief systems? Why not at least be curious?

 

beyond the woo

Okay, so all this talk of love, compassion, expansiveness, inner wisdom…..yada yada. It all sounds ‘nice’ but it can just become words. Or it becomes this symbolic carrot dangling just outside of our reach.

We hear the words and then have our chain of thoughts (‘i can’t do that’, ‘yes, that makes sense’, ‘why would I make all this effort’, ‘I like the way that sounds but don’t know how to get there’ etc). The thoughts and words sometimes keep all of it ‘outside’ of us….when it truly is already within us.

So, beyond the warm and fuzzy idea of it all, why bother? Why dive into our awareness and perhaps disrupt our internal status quo? Why bother to question anything?
For myself, it is about taking responsibility for this incredible energetic entity called ‘me’. I feel like I am both this expansive energy beyond labels and also a human being with personality and ego. Both aspects are amazing to me and I strive to find a balance between them.
What I have discovered is that my expansive energy doesn’t really need to judge or criticize…..participate in the ‘greater than/lesser than’ model. My expansiveness is a wide open field of possibility. (this expansiveness feels like the realm of the ‘heart’ to me)

My human being-ness with mind, personality, opinions and ego…….it does an amazing job of compartmentalizing, figuring things out, writing stories and so much more.  To live in this world I need so many of the critical functions of this aspect of ‘me’.

I feel like I need both heart (expansive energy) and mind (attachment and details)….but they need to be in balance. They inform and support one another as I walk in my life.

The reason I bother with any of this is that being connected to this place of expansiveness within myself…….I experience less struggle.
I feel less inclined to engage ‘us and them’ mentality or divisive forms of competitiveness. I am less likely to make other people (or parts of myself) adversaries even when I don’t like their personality.
I don’t feel as inclined to figure other people out, write a story about them, be ‘right’ (or wrong), diminish or elevate one or another or myself……

….and this has felt liberating….freeing…invigorating.

When I speak with people (youth and adults) around the globe I ask them to imagine, hypothetically, a world where ‘judgement’ and feeling ‘bad’ about yourself doesn’t exist. Most people express a true joy in imagining this……but then follow it up with ‘it can never happen’.

I wonder …why?
Why can’t it happen?

I see the difference it makes in my life and those around me when I choose to live with less ‘judgment’, criticism and constantly engaging in ideas of someone being ‘greater than’ or ‘lesser than’ another.  I choose to connect to the expansiveness and not just live in the compartments of ‘mind’, survival and personality.

So I ask myself …what can get in our way of choosing this?

Often the things that get in the way are connected to attachments and comfort. Attachments to ideas and ways of being. These attachments seem to create a sense of safety through their ability to give us guidelines or our basic foundations.  And they are often conditioned from early in our lives.

Think about how what you believe to ‘know’ about yourself and also what you believe you know about others…..the world….how this creates a vehicle of feeling safe, confident or a sense of stability. It’s interesting.
Now imagine letting go of all of them….
Just take a breath and see if you can create space within yourself to not feel these concepts of self and the world anchoring you. (It isn’t easy, but see if you can glimpse it for a moment)

Now, notice where you get ‘stuck’ or feel attached.
Ask yourself ‘why’?
Notice what you notice….
And, without judgment………simply accept and love whatever it is…….without critique.
These little glimpses are your personal gems or insights. Tuck them away as you continue this practice and keep taking notes….and asking questions. You will be surprised how your inner compass or wisdom begins to kick in and help guide you in this work.

This simple practice of awareness and questioning (while listening without judgement)…….it’s a tool for getting to know yourself in new ways (sometimes unexpected ways) and showing up with love and compassion.
Sometimes just taking the time to question, listen and take notice allows us to embrace our own expansiveness….beyond labels.

Why not connect to your inherent sense of balanced confidence, compassion and authentic unconditioned love?

compassion?

compassion, like love, have in some ways become simply words. we know their meaning and yet there is a distance from the deep inner realm of them. For me, the words are just reminders….they cannot express the breadth of these realms….that is for me to explore and to not get caught or simply end my exploration at the shape of the word/the surface. for me…..love/compassion/g-d/are all the same….there is no separation.
we have layers and layers of life, society, conditioning and restricted thinking (linked to fear at its core) that have shaped our relationship to love/compassion/g-d and have disconnected us from the depth or even desire to explore. how do each of us come to know the uniqueness of these expansive spaces within us? how do we come to know the qualities of our own conditioning? and can this ‘knowing’ offer a deepening?

****truly, all this typing is just words. i type, the word (in this limited form of communication) and when someone reads them they have their own unique experience of ‘interpretation’. no two people will have the same experience. so it is fascinating to try to use all these words to try to explore something beyond words. and love/compassion/g-d is truly beyond words. it is a ‘felt sense’……a link to our infinite intuitive body/wisdom.****

each of us is truly our own ‘wisdom text’. what would it take to ‘believe’ this? what would it take to access this? do we want to access it?
love/compassion/g-d…..they are part of this wisdom…..boundless within the expansiveness of each of us.

love love love

***why not fall in LOVE with yourself every moment of every day…………..***

enlightenment

For me, the essence of ‘enlightenment’ is not something that is outside of me.  It is within me and I simply need to remember.  A simple statement but complicated at times to connect with.   I hear people talk about enlightenment as if it is a carrot dangling before them……desired and yet unobtainable.  I wonder how it can be ‘unobtainable’ when there it is as an in dwelling presence.  The practice at hand (and heart) is to find our particular map for remembering.  It is something each of us can connect with if we are inspired and yet it is not a requirement of living.  Each of us is unfolding in whatever way we are ‘becoming’…….there is no hierarchy to me.

So……here we are living and breathing.  My question for myself is how can I interrupt the thoughts of ‘greater than/lesser than’ and simply be in the space of infinite love? The space where every breath I take is a blessing…..every breath is a blessing.  What gets in my way of that truth?  What limits me?  What constricts me?  When my entire life becomes an awareness practice I come to witness the answers to these questions.  I can observe, pause and choose.  This simple formula feels like it radically changed my life.  It brought such ‘freedom’.

I have had many people say that such a practice sounds exhausting to them.  I understand that perspective.  And yet, I find it life giving.  It was ‘work’ at first but now it is like eating or sleeping, quite natural. It is a state of being that I cultivated and nurture each day.

 

Older revisited

This is an older reflection I became curious about again:

‘if you don’t see G-d in everything, you don’t see

G-d at all’

yeah, I don’t agree with this

I believe G-d is in everything/everything is

G-d….no separation

all is one and connected……everything within

everything else

if I am able to SEE G-d in even a handful of my

day…………….what a blessing

what a blessing

i believe we do the best we can

small small…the veils part

the walls come down

the eyes of the heart liberate us to see G-D,

infinite love, in every

moment and every person

little by little

(haba na haba hujaza kibaba…little by little fills

the

measure……Swahili saying)

so i might write on a tea bag:

‘what a gift to have even a glimpse of the G-d that

is present in all

things in this evolving world of our heart’s vision’

i don’t know….something crazy like that

to say anything less than this feels like an unkind act.

how can we say that if someone is unable to see G-d

in EVERYTHING

that they are not seeing G-d at all.

this is a path of limitation….i feel like it

becomes our own trap

to think in this way

i want to be more affirming at this point in my

life……..praise

what I and others am able to see.and

feel……….and know it grows

always………….

give praise ………………surrender the perspectives in

black or white,

either/or

yeah……………

a couple years ago I really made strides in my truth to

embrace AND/BOTH

(not either/or)

this was a big leap for me and I am still leaping

with that intention

in my arms every day