goals · insanity · meditation

Center

11.21.18We finally had our Goals Group call again last night.  It had been several weeks, folks out of town, my cross country final “meet.”  And it was like an oasis.

Although I’ve been connecting regularly with my action partner via text each morning, letting her know what I hoped to accomplish that day, I was finding that those lists were becoming more and more “task” oriented and much less oriented toward my visions and goals, which is the aim of an action partnership (at least to my understanding).

Further, I was barely getting through any of the items I was texting her.  Because the way it’s currently set up is that we make commitments but don’t follow-up on if we did them or not, I was finding that I was writing lists and then hardly doing any of them!

So, I got to tell as much to my Goals Group last night.  We’ve been working together through a series of questions over seven months now, having weekly calls to share our answers to what our goals are, what’s holding us back, what’s the payoff we’re getting from avoiding our goals — you know, the usual!  And it felt like an anchor last night, a recentering to come back to, “Oh yeah, what am I attempting to do with my life, again?”

It’s all well and good (and necessary) to accomplish the daily tasks of living—like Complete assignment for work, Get car smogged, Pick up paint samples,… Shower daily…—but these tasks do not fulfill the deep needs of my true self, and without holding those needs and goals in my awareness, without anchoring into my “purpose” or vision for my life, I begin to feel lost, unmotivated, and vague in my life, even while accomplishing the tasks of daily living.  Then I begin to feel depressed and listless.

Those tasks are not what bring me to life, so  I need to hold my vision for myself and my life topmost, as it is literally “vital” that I do so.

Therefore, last night I committed to my Goals Group that I would do my morning practice today, Wednesday, and Friday.  Journal, Meditate, Blog.  This practice (all three together!) helps me to remember who I truly am, not an automaton just trying to “get through the day.”  I want more for my life and for myself.  And if I don’t take the time to reflect, if I don’t set aside the hours (yes, hours every morning) to come back to center, to remember who I am and what I want for this one lifetime I am honored to have, then it’s just a series of days falling off the calendar.

I am grateful for the chance to plug back in, to center.  I do not yet feel back “on it” or “in it” — in myself, I guess that is — but I do know that, one day at a time, I will write myself into right thinking, and then think myself into right action.

Welcome back, to both of us.

 

Advertisements
abundance · meditation · receiving

“I choo choo choose you!”

10.12.18Today’s Deepak/Oprah meditation is entitled, Abundant Me, and our centering thought for the day is, “I choose abundance.”

The following is copied from my transcription of today’s guided work into my journal (I always write it down as I listen, since I “get” it best that way).  Frankly, I can’t put it better than they do and I’d rather re-write (and re-read) what it is they’ve said.  And until they flag me for copyright infringement, I’d love to share it with you!

What lights me up more fervently than anything else in my life?  Listen to whatever immediately comes to me — these are signs leading me to me true passion, my most heart-felt desire and, ultimately, to my destiny.

When I heed the call of my deepest desires, I fulfill my TRUE DESTINY!!  Live from a place of wonder, play, and delight. 

We’re often taught that we must abandon our natural passions as we cross the divide between childhood and adulthood.  And YET, passion is what drives me to be the very best individual I can be. !!

Today in meditation, I reconnect to my internal spark & begin to gently release my long-held stories about who I should be & become more intimately re-acquainted with who I really am.  Today, I’ll practice shining brightly as the person I was born to be, as I freely share my gifts with everyone I meet. 

Truth: what I focus on expands. 

When I do what I love, energy & prosperity flow in every way.  I may believe that living my passion & desires is out of my reach, that I’m not worthy or talented enough or brave enough to realize my dreams.  But, Oprah is here to tell me that it is my birthright (my inheritance) to receive INFINITE GIFTS from the Universe.  My desires forge the path that leads me DIRECTLY toward the fulfillment of that purpose.  Joy and abundance come effortlessly when I am paying attention to my life. 

When I pursue the moment that is lighting me up, I build one moment at a time a life filled with passion, intention, and fulfillment.  When I do what I love and give freely of myself, what I offer comes back to me in ways just FAR beyond my imagination. 

There are no limits to what I can share, or receive.  So let us open the door together to clear the way for an endless bounty of blessings.

Passion is the free-flow of energy that leads me toward the fulfillment of my dreams, desires, and purpose in life.  When I do anything with passion, I express every aspect of who I am. (wow)  Time seems to stand still as I engage in whatever activity fills me with inspiration, love, and joy. 

Without passion, life can feel flat or stale.  (mm hmm)  In the moments when I do what I love, I open the door to abundance and prosperity in all areas of my life.  It is that simple. 

As I grew up, I began to learn that what I wanted was unacceptable.  Or that it was wrong.  Or impractical.  Or selfish to go after my dreams.😦

I may feel powerless and think why bother having desires when they will never be fulfilled anyway.

As I listen to these words, what feelings come up? (sadness, low)  Do I feel connected to my passion? (No!)

When I wake up in the morning, am I usually excited about my projects and plans for the day, or do I feel lost, bored, or stuck?  If I’m not doing what I love, what thoughts or beliefs are holding me back?

Most have to do with money and worth.  Many people tell themselves I can’t make a living doing what I love😦 or That dream is simply out of reach, it is not really meant to be. 

When I hold some part of myself in reserve, I severely limit what life can bring to me, and what I can bring to life. (!)  Abundance flows when I am centered in the awareness that my true self is pure spirit, unbounded in time and place.  

Spirit does NOT PLACE LIMITS on my joy, prosperity, OR fulfillment.  It is the ego that creates limiting stories about why we cannot make enough money doing what we love.  Or that we are not worthy of prosperity.  

As I recognize that these stories are SIMPLY THOUGHTS, not the truth, I can gently let them go, and return to my natural state of

CREATIVITY

JOY and

ABUNDANCE.:)!

No matter how deeply I’ve buried my desires, they are a force of evolution and growth that can never be completely denied (addiction tries to).  I am here to fulfill a purpose in the world and my desires are clues that lead me directly to the expression of my destiny. 

As I live my Love and Purpose, I will be held in the arms of abundance (aw)

I was born to deeply receive the bounties that Spirit provides. (Oy)  All that is required of me is to say, Yes.  

Take a deep breath and receive.  Receive.  Receive. 

Approach today with certainty as I contemplate the centering thought:  I choose abundance. (mmm…)

I choose abundance. 

I choose abundance. 

 

 

healing · judgment · meditation

Trust Fund.

9.30.18 safety cloud.JPGThere’s a spiritual practice called “Feed Your Demons” that I was introduced to about a year ago.  In this process, you actively amplify some one of the trillion negative voices in your head and give it a form.  You invite it to come before you—and it’s safe to do so because of all the other work you’ve done—and you start to see if it has a face or eyes at least.

Once here, you ask a series of questions:

How do I feel about this entity/voice?  What do I experience in my own body when it’s before me?  How do I react when listening to all the crap that it’s spewing?

Then, you go inside the demon.  You probe in to see yourself through its eyes: How does it see me?  What is its opinion of me, really?  What is it scared of?

Coming back into yourself, you imagine offering the demon an unending supply of whatever it is that it’s needing.  What is it actually trying to get or feel?  I have imagined this, in different meditations, as the demon bathing in a golden liquid, or being rained upon from a redwood’s soaked needles, or, once, like a lab rat licking from an inverted water bottle.

You imagine that this demon, this voice, drinks of that worthiness, of that golden satiety until it is full, until it is wholly full of whatever comfort it needed.  And you observe what has happened.

That rat, having drunk its fill of love/gold/worthiness, transformed into a very young girl who just loved to hold your hand and repeat with that certainty and experimentation of language that a 2 or 3-year old has: “I’m important!”  To which, the older me who was with her would reply, “Yes.  Yes, you are.”  And just a few steps later, excited at her burgeoning discovery and with the facility for repetition only a child retains, she’d repeat with sunny authority: “I’m important.”  Yes, love.  Yes, you are.

In some cases, these demons are just perverted assets or positive beliefs that have gotten so twisted in their attempts at protecting you that they just require untwisting and then they get to hang with you for always, like the little girl.  Sometimes, though, the voice really doesn’t belong to you.  It is composed of something corroded and you must invite it to leave in whatever way makes sense — which it has to then do.  It is no longer allowed to stay in your consciousness if you have asked it to leave.

So.

Yesterday, I invited in my Judgment — the character defect/defense/outmoded protection element (whatever term makes sense to you) — that I’m presently working to loosen.

Partly as a function of a Facebook advertisement repeatedly showing this Magritte painting of a man in a suit and bowler hat with a floating green apple obscuring his face, and partly as a result of my having read Lev Grossman’s Magician series this summer where the main evil is a man whose face is obscured for much of the book by a floating branch, my Judgment came to meet me in the form of that man in a suit.

But its face was a scribbled, swirl of black lines, crackling and spitting like an electrical storm, and its eyes were molten red.  The thing scared the hell out of me.

The words it produced went along the same lines that perhaps some of yours do, vicious and biting and cold, harsh words that erode your very sense of self, of purpose, of ease in the world.  Judgment is a blaring asshole.

To forward to the end of my “Feed Your Demons” process, here’s what happened for this man in a suit: I imagined he was fed that gold liquid from a large wine skein, an unlimited supply of whatever it was that demon was trying to get from me by keeping me scared and small and distracted.  It drank and drank, its stomach started to swell, I thought it would become bloated and kind of fall over.

It filled moreso and began to blow up like Violet Beauregarde, rounding and inflating.  The man in the suit started to pale as he drank, the color washing out of him, bleaching.  The man became something else, it was turning into …

A cloud.

A cottony, white, ice-cream-scoop shaped cloud, the perfect ideal of a kindergartener’s crayola drawing.

Once he’d begun to drink, the words from the golden liquid, from his nourishment, became audible: You are safe.  *glug glug glug*  You are safe.

Judgment, loosed of all its vitriol, detoxed to reveal a sweet, enveloping little cloud floating just beside me, chiming and repeating:  You are safe!

Judgment… as a mechanism for Safety?

If I judge you then I don’t feel vulnerable or uncertain.  If I am different than you, I don’t have to exist within the discomfort of your oh-so-humanness nor do I have to admit that maybe I’m human, too.  If I savagely eviscerate myself and judge my efforts, I will recoil, crumple, and never attempt things unfamiliar or growth-oriented.

Judgment as a crazy-ass way to keep me safe?  That crackling litany of incessant brutality… to keep me safe?

Well, yeah.  It sorta does make sense, albeit a radically circuitous kind of sense.

To think: behind all that blackness can now be a white, fluffy cloud bumping along beside me?  Every time that I think a worried thought, that I question a novel move, that I wonder if I said/did/am the right thing, this cherub of Divine Love is now here to chirp at and remind me, “You are safe”?

Damn, those meditations are good.

 

career · gratitude · meditation

Stupid gratitude…

9.19.18.jpegThree summers ago, I was smack in the center of an stunningly risky leap: changing careers.

The Fall/Winter before that, having come to the end of my rope in administrative work—and being somewhat far from my regular spiritual practice, my mentor having moved away—I gave notice at my job.  I said, for the umpteenth time, that I was going to do something “creative.”  And again, for the umpteenth time, I had no true vision of what that meant, except that it would feel better.

By the time the following summer rolled around, I’d worked as a minimum-wage retail employee, a temp, and a model for a computer equipment photo shoot.  My “plans” did not unfold well… mostly because I had no plan!

Sometime around January, having driven across town from that retail job (8 hours standing on a concrete floor, pain in my feet, knees, heart), I sat on a friend’s couch bemoaning that I was too old to be flailing like this.

She said I needed to choose something, that frankly it didn’t even matter what.  Just a few weeks later, in morning meditation, the idea came that I should be a teacher (specifically a HS physics teacher, but whatevs).

So, I took that idea and clung onto it with dearest desperation of life, because frankly, continuing to do this “life” thing wasn’t seeming all that appealing anymore.

I reached out to a private school teacher acquaintance; I reached out to my former ed director at the Sunday School I’d taught at; I emailed my friend who was a public school teacher and asked to see her cover letter and resume.

I had begun a mission: Operation Teach School.

By that July, would you believe, I was teaching school.  I had harassed the summer school department at a private school for long enough that they found a place for me teaching creative writing for a few hours a day for 6 weeks.  Thereafter, I had no prospects.

But, before those few hours with students began, I did what I do now: journal and meditate.

The free meditation being offered at the time by Deepak and Oprah was the 21-day “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude,” and I listened and wrote down what they said.  Every day, for 21 days.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not, at the end of those 21 days, sitting at my computer trawling for jobs, an email came through from the dean of my graduate department:

There’s a job, teaching, in Oakland, with Jews.

Fuhggettaboudit!

You gotta be kidding me.

I applied for that job.  I interviewed for that job.  I got offered a different job with them.  I accepted that job.

And lo, I was a teacher.  6 months after I had committed to Operation Teach School, I was a full-time, gainfully employed faculty member.  Cue divine trumpets.

I bought that damn 21-day meditation on gratitude.

And presently, I’m relistening to and rewriting down what they’re saying.

It’s the worst. 

I hate that I know that gratitude works.  That writing a gratitude list works.  That closing my eyes and conjuring things I’m grateful for, when I open them, the world looks just a teensy bit more magical and technicolor.

I hate that it works because … IT’S SO SIMPLE.

It’s so simple, it’s so easily overlooked, it’s so neglectable and discountable and ignorable… that I do.  I neglect and discount and ignore gratitude.

And then I am reminded.  And then I remember.  And then I try it again.  I close my eyes, I write those lists, I pause to say thank you.

And goddamnit it works.  I feel different.

I don’t know why it pisses me off that gratitude works, except that maybe I think it’s “too cheesy.”  That it “feels lame” to talk about being grateful, that it’s so saccharine, or maybe that others will think I’m naive (that maybe I may think I’m naive).

But I gotta tell you: Whatever the causation/correlation between my “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude” meditation practice and my receiving an email that would ultimately change the course of my life, there is a piece of me that does truly believe Grace was hanging around, just waiting for me to open my eyes and my heart.

 

deprivation · meditation · worthiness

Worthiness

not-worthy

For the past year, I’ve been adding dimension and characters to a story entitled, The Town of Obligation.  This began as a piece of inner work to explore in a very different manner my relationship to Responsibility — and as “responsibility” came to me with a capital letter, I began to imagine her as a person … in a town … called Obligation.

At some point, I discovered that the town was under an illusion and delusion about “Worthiness.”  It was clear that worthiness was not a character, a person, in this play, but rather a stream running through the town, a source from which anyone could drink.  But at some point in their history, the inhabitants began to solidify and pass down the misinformation that only certain people could drink from this wellspring.

Worthiness was only for some.

Well, now.  I knew this to be bullshit, so I sent my meditating, imagined self over to that wellspring — by now in a different land than Obligation, a forest of different imagination.  I arrived at this pool of Worthiness, this golden viscous fluid, shining and beckoning, Midas’s own pond.  I knelt to drink.

But I could not.  I attempted to drink it through cupped hands, but that didn’t feel right.  It wouldn’t cross my lips. … Okay, how about a wooden scoop?  No, still it won’t cross my lips, fill my mouth, warm the insides of my chest.  Uh, okay.  Maybe I’m supposed to swim in it?  I dive in.  Splashing around in the golden water, it still doesn’t feel right.  What the F?

I come out of the meditation, nonplussed.  I talk to my mentor.  I go back to the pond later, and try again.  What’s the matter?  Do I not feel worthy?  Have I become so deluded by living in Obligation that I, too, have come to think only certain people are allowed to have it?

And so I try again.  I ask: How, Worthiness, am I to receive you?

The pond spills forth a rivulet.  The liquid flows into a pool within which a tree begins to sprout.  It’s a redwood, growing rapidly up and up.  … The tree is pulling the flaxen liquid up through its center, its bark glistening with succor, pregnant and laden with the stuff.

Up the massive, newly-grown pine, Worthiness glides, and then down across the boughs into waving branches and flickering leaves themselves.  Til Worthiness pulses out the stems, out the infinite pine needles, and begins to rain.

Standing, in my mind’s eye, beneath the canopy, I begin to be showered, lathed, bathed with the honeyed gold.  I begin to laugh, like a child caught in a sunshower — that sudden and miraculous moment of sun-warmth and chaotic drenching.

Under and inside the falling droplets of Worthiness, I laugh and dance and stomp.  I begin to feel filled and owned and embodied by the sense.  This storm of esteem inhabits me, fosters me, seems never to end its reign.

And –as yet– it hasn’t.

 

 

career · dreams · exhaustion · fulfillment · meditation · theater · work

Day 21

Today ends the 21-Day Meditation “Challenge” by Deepak Chopra and Oprah I’ve been following this last month. Today’s “thought” is about Fulfillment.

And despite coming home on Tuesday night (finally tucking into bed after a chaotic day of work and a busy night of rehearsal) and bursting into quiet tears of overwhelm, today as I get ready for the day, the soft tears are of a different sort.

Fulfillment.

Two years ago on Yom Kippur I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Last year around this time, I hosted an “I Didn’t Die” party and played in a band on the bass I’d carried for over a decade but never learned to play. This year on and around the anniversary of my diagnosis, you’ll find me onstage in musical theater, another dream set down for over a decade.

Fulfillment.

In workland, I continue to feel like the hockey player who gets checked into the boards, my own path crowded out by the demands of others and by the very nature of the perpetually-behind game in which I find myself. I continue to know that things need to change, want to change them, do research on changing them, … and haven’t (yet) changed them.

I continue to desire giving myself the “right” kind of time to flesh out ideas for a different mode of working, one that means more fulfillment, less time, more stability. I continue to lament that the nature of the game I’m in doesn’t allow for pausing. Except when you’ve been sent to the bench. Which I call Netflix-binging. But that kind of pause isn’t productive, and I know this.

I am looking for the space in which to create a different kind of life, to have the space to dream and plan and implement. And, it’s not this exact moment. Which can be really hard for me. Believing as I do, that my stasis in this position (over-working and underearning) creates a dissatisfaction in me that bleeds into other areas of my life, and keeps me feeling less-than and stuck and not ready or viable or worthy.

And yet.

As I’ve spoken of it, one foot may be in the bear trap, but the other is passionately trying to walk anyway – or, as in the Addams show, to tango. I continue to have one foot in the direction … no – in the reality of a vision and a dream of mine. It’s not the direction, it’s the reality.

And truly, how different I know this is than it was. To be in it, instead of dreaming of or lamenting it.

Can you be half-way fulfilled? I dunno. But, I do know that the hours spent in band, in rehearsal, in laughter, and in friendship are times of pure engagement, presence, and self-forgetting (sometimes!). That absence of commentary, of doubt, feels like the presence of fulfillment.

If I have created, and worked hard toward creating, a third of my waking hours to be ones of fulfillment, I have to acknowledge that the scale is tipping. It isn’t there yet. I still lament and cry and question if I will pursue, but those hours spent in joy …

*insert silent wonder*

balance · boundaries · career · creativity · meditation · self-care

You Spin Me Right Roun’…

Normal
0
0
1
531
3032
25
6
3723
11.1287

0

0
0

I’ve been looking up meditation retreats. There’s this one
I’ve heard about for years that’s a 10-day silent meditation retreat – I
remember a guy I knew once shared that his therapist advised him against going on a silent retreat! (He went anyway, and
reported great tidings.)
But, one thing I always seem to forget until after I’ve gone
on such a retreat or weekend away is that I can effect the same kind of stillness without going so far, and without paying so much.
I remember last year, I went north to Marin to participate
in a half-day meditation retreat. The meditation itself was lovely; the grounds
are nestled into the hillside near the ocean, and there’s an organic farm and
garden you can walk through during the walking meditation part. But… the zen
talk… eek.
This day’s particular teacher stuck in my craw the whole time, so before the second “dharma talk,” I left. I felt good about having gone, being
among the greenery and the eucalyptus. I even saw a chipmunk on my way back to
the parking lot. But, I didn’t need to stay and “practice listening” to someone
whose personality shone way larger than his teachings. It was way more about
him, than his teachings.
As I left, I noted that I could have found the same or a
similar degree of stillness, just by driving up into the nearby national park
in Berkeley. I didn’t have to sit in a “zen-do” or listen to teachings –
really, I just wanted to listen to the silence, and although I can do that in
my own home, I prefer to go somewhere nature-y when I really want to recharge. 
I’m reminded of this as I look up retreats this morning: a
day-long one at the same retreat center, the 10-day silent retreat place, even
a hot-spring zen-center-meets-spa related to a nearby center.
But really, what do I want to achieve or gain or experience?
Stillness.
I feel very harried at the moment, with a lot of irons in
the fire around creative endeavors, work endeavors, and even friend endeavors.
I’ve been wanting to strengthen my relationships with
friends, form new or stronger connections, and this weekend has been the
perfect exercise in that – it’s been chock
full of friend-related activities that have been truly wonderful. But, I’m
tired.
Yesterday morning, spur-of-the-moment birthday plans were texted to
me: “Join me in Marin for dinner and a hike under the full moon.”
Um, Yes, please!
None of the 6 dinner attendees knew anyone except the
birthday boy, and we had a great time. The hike was fantastic. Epic, really.
The view over the Bay, the fog rolling in, the lights below, the reflection of
the “super moon” in the water. – That, my friends, was meditative.
But, it also wasn’t. Different personalities require
different levels of reverence, and for some people, silence isn’t really an
option. – I’d love to go back and experience it in the quiet. It was
awe-inspiring.
And, I wasn’t home til after midnight … which if you didn’t
know, is way past my bedtime. But, so
worth it!
However, I begin to feel a draw inward. I’m an “X” in the
“introvert/extrovert” Meyers-Briggs scale. Meaning, I am neither an “I:
Introvert” nor an “E: Extrovert” – I fall so perfectly between the two, needing
both in such equal amounts, that I am an “X: Right in the middle.”
So, with all of this external push (creative stuff, job
stuff, friend stuff), Anty needs a recharge. (Honey, I Shrunk the Kids reference, fyi.)
But, it is important for me to remember that I don’t need to
retreat from the whole world, put huge parameters around my life in order to do
this. It’s as simple as committing 2 hours, getting in my car, driving 20
minutes, and crunching through the soft-fallen eucalyptus leaves until I get to a spot
where I can sit – no incense required.