How Can I bring More Love to This?

Yoga,_double_exposure_by_Victor_TondeeI was twisted into some pretzel of a pose when my yoga teacher, Genevieve Oswald at Shree Yoga Taos, gently dropped this profound question into my mind:

“How can I bring more love to this?”

That question has continued to ring through me, gently and quietly, in moments both on and off the yoga mat. Whether I’m challenged by an asana that stretches my hamstrings or stretching myself to move through fears in my personal life, this simple question helps me be more present and compassionate with myself.

“How can I bring more love to this?”  

“Breathe,” my body whispers. “See how you might soften into this.”

“Be patient with yourself,” says the voice of Big Compassion. “I’m with you.”

“How can I bring more love to this?”  

Tears begin to flow. I can let go and feel the feelings I’ve been holding back.

“How can I bring more love to this?”  

It can be as simple as turning on my favorite music and instantly filling my space with sounds that open my heart.

These are some of the answers that have bubbled up, within me. The answers are always something I can do in that very moment.

Try it. Ask yourself, “How can I bring more love to this?”  

Let me know what answers you discover. Please leave a comment, so we can all benefit from your wise, loving inner voice.


5 Warning Signs that You Need Self-Compassion

  • pointing fingerYour Inner Critic is beating you up by saying all kinds of mean things about you.
  • Your Inner Judge accuses you of wrong-doing. The gavel comes down. Boom! Guilty as charged!
  • The Self-Hater is making you feel like sh-t.

Quick!  Take a large dose of Self-Compassion. No negative side effects. Repeat as often as needed.

Sometimes it’s obvious that you are in need of the warm embrace of self-compassion. The warning signs are like flashing neon lights in Times Square.  You feel really bad, and you know you need relief. At other times, the signals are more subtle. Or, maybe you are just so used to hearing those harsh inner voices that you don’t even think about them as calls for compassion. I’m noticing that the more inner work and healing I do, the more I’m able to sense a very faint signal of distress that’s at the very root of the ego: A basic sense of “not ok-ness”.

Consider these 5 warning signs, so you can be more aware of your need for compassion, whether the signals are loud and clear or faint and muffled:

1. Feeling “not enough”. “I’m not __________ (fill in the blank) enough.”  Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not loving enough, not dedicated enough… The list could go on and on.

2. Should-ing on yourself. “I should be doing __________ (fill in the blank),” or “I shouldn’t be doing __________ (fill in the blank).”  In either case, the voice tells you there’s something wrong with your behavior.

3. Attacks on your body: Criticizing how you look, how your body feels, or how it’s functioning. “My body is too __________ (fill in the blank).”  Too fat, too skinny, too wrinkly, too stiff, too tired, too achey…

4. Guilt and shame: “I am a bad person because __________ (fill in the blank).” I hurt someone, or I was hurt by someone else, and I deserved it.

5. Awash in uncomfortable emotions: anxiety, sadness, loneliness, grief, fear, anger…heart in clouds

It may not be immediately obvious what thought or whose Inner Voice is making you feel badly. Sometimes it’s just a sense of feeling blue, heavy, tense, or off center. If you inquire into what’s behind the subtle feeling of “not ok-ness”, you may discover one of the 5 warning signs is being lit up. But even if you don’t dig down to see what’s underneath the feeling, you can still benefit from applying a good dose of Self-Compassion. Take another dose as often as needed.

Don’t know how to give yourself compassion or want some support?

Listen to this 18-minute guided meditation designed to help you practice Self-Compassion.

 

 

 


Big Compassion: The World’s Biggest Hug  

My heart feels tender as I turn a loving gaze upon some uncomfortable feelings. Anxiety. Guilt. Failure. Frustration. Oh, and did I mention anxiety? I’ve come a long way from the days when I suffered from serious depression and intense self-hatred. I’m on a pretty even keel, most days. But lately, I’m acutely aware that bits and pieces of some old patterns still remain, lingering in the shadows.

I’ve learned how to process my emotions with much more awareness, and I know the importance of being gentle with myself. I can manage my Inner Critic so she doesn’t torture me, and I’ve got a reliable set of stress-busters to call upon as needed. My spiritual practices uplift me, while time in nature keeps me grounded. These are some of the things help me stay balanced. Yet, the most powerful medicine has been the recognition of my True Nature. I’m no longer completely hooked by the idea that my body, my stories, and the feelings and thoughts that pass through me, define who I am.

Does this mean I never feel fearful, upset, or uncomfortable? No. The other day my car skidded out of control on a patch of ice. Was I scared? Yes. Even after I arrived home safely, I felt afraid. What about the next time I need to drive down my steep, windy, icy road? Should I hole up at home for the rest of the winter and avoid driving altogether?  Next in the parade of worries came the financial concerns: My insurance company balked at accepting my claim for damages to my vehicle.

Letting go of the train of thoughts skidding out of control in my head, I brought my attention down into my body. Here’s what I found: A contraction around my heart. An uncomfortable vibration in my nervous system. Then, I noticed a sense of a bigger space, in which the vibration was moving. A sense of a bigger space in which all that I typically think of as “me” was being held with compassion…Big Compassion.

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Seeing the distress of my personality-self through the eyes of this Big Compassion, all is accepted and allowed to be as it is. All is embraced within a larger energy field…a field of spacious awareness. All is permeated by a loving consciousness. Everything is ok. All is forgiven. It’s like a giant hug that has no arms…no boundaries or limits. That one who gives the hug with no arms, that’s my True Nature…my True Self.

I’ve discovered, in my own awakening process, that there is a natural flow of expansion and contraction. When I contract in fear or resistance, there is a temporary forgetting of who I really am. There is a condensing down that Icy Rio Hondo-1-4seems to solidify the small identity…the identity I think of  as “Sajit”…the identity tied to this body, this personality, and these fleeting emotions and thought streams. When contraction is happening, I know there is something that yet needs to be seen, and then seen-through. Contraction doesn’t mean something’s gone wrong. Contraction doesn’t call for self-flagellation. Contraction calls for the pause button.

Big Compassion is always there. When I’m able to remember to shift my attention and look through Compassion’s eyes, the contraction begins to unwind. I can relax into the safety of the arm-less hug. As I identify once more with my True Nature, expansion occurs, naturally.

It’s like breathing. It’s like the flow of the tides. BIG COMPASSION…TRUE SELF…contraction…small identity…suffering…BIG COMPASSION…TRUE SELF.

Don’t sweep your uncomfortable feelings under the proverbial rug. Don’t try to hide them from yourself and pretend they aren’t there. What they need is to be embraced with Big Compassion. Give yourself the world’s biggest hug!


Four Dimensions of Forgiveness

This article is Part 3 in a series prompted by my second Saturn return and reflections on a painful turning point in my life. You may also want to read Part 1: Defining Moments, or “How I Lost God and Found My Way” and Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgiveness.

Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness

I used to think that forgiveness should come in a flash, in which the whole thing is instantaneously healed. But that hasn’t been my experience. For me, it’s been a process that has unfolded over time and on multiple levels of my being. Here are the four dimensions of forgiveness that I’ve experienced:

  1. The Wounded Inner Child
  2. The Rational Self
  3. The Soul
  4. Unity Consciousness

These four dimensions span a continuum from the less-conscious (Level 1) aspects of ourselves to the more-conscious (Level 4). However the forgiveness process doesn’t necessarily proceed in a linear fashion, from Level 1 to Level 4. My process has involved diving in here and there, at different levels, at different times. I find it most helpful to move between the layers, interweaving them into a seamless tapestry. All of it is held within the compassionate awareness of Unity Consciousness. Self-love and self-forgiveness are important ingredients, every step of the way.

In my own process, forgiveness in the four dimensions looks something like this:

The wounded 12 year old inside me needed to have a safe place to express her feelings of pain and rage, without holding back.  It wasn’t safe to do that with my parents, but eventually I was able to vent those feelings in therapy and through Voice Dialogue Process. My Wounded Inner Child needed to be heard and seen by a non-judgmental witness. I needed to take her out of a dark hiding place within my psyche, embrace her, and let her know that she’s safe. She still holds tightly to some last shreds of fear and resentment. I forgive her for believing she still needs to defend herself in this way. I also realize there are other facets of the Wounded Inner Child that are still crying out for love, and so I continue my healing process.

The rational part of me chooses to forgive because it’s in my own best interest. Forgiveness isn’t meant to excuse someone’s hurtful behavior nor deny that it felt really shitty, at the time. Forgiveness is meant to free me.Prayer of release I want to forgive because holding onto a grievance hurts me. It makes me feel contracted and stuck and closed off from people. It keeps me feeling like a victim…small and powerless. It’s a heavy burden to carry anger and resentment around all the time. I want to let it go.

The rational part of me is able to step back and see my mother from a more neutral, and even compassionate, point of view. I can see and understand the fears and insecurities that drove her angry reaction. I can see that I triggered some of her wounding, and she lashed out at me, unconsciously. A Course in Miracles says that every experience is either an expression of love or a call for love. My mother was having a “call for love”. So was I.

From the level of my soul, I see there is no one to blame, because everything that happened in the story of my “Defining Moment” was part of a soul contract…an agreement between my soul and my mother’s soul. I am grateful that my mother played her part so beautifully. The reason my mother’s proclamation, “You don’t know what you think”, triggered me so deeply, is because it struck a nerve. “I don’t know what I think” was a false belief that my soul came here to unravel. I needed that false belief brought to the surface of my awareness so I could investigate it and come to realize that it’s not true. I do know what I think. I can trust my own perceptions. I can share my point of view with authority…my inner authority. Even at 12 years old, I was guided by a trustworthy inner knowing.

Words are inadequate to describe the experience of Unity Consciousness. Therefore, it is challenging to describe my experience of forgiveness, at this level, without it sounding abstract or merely philosophical. Yet, Oneness is truly an experience, not a concept. As I continue to awaken and experience life, more and more, as the experience of Oneness, there is no longer a completely solid and separate “me” and a completely solid and separate “other”. Oneness means that, despite all appearances to the contrary, there can never be two separate beings in conflict with each other. There is just one thing going on.

As it says in The Way of Mastery, “Each relationship or each moment is a ‘holy encounter’ because there is only wholeness showing up as that One thing. Existence is not really two beings coming together and having an forgivenessexperience. There is only the One Thing, which is the experience of itself.” All appearances of separation and conflict dissolve. The whole drama is seen to arise within, and dissolves back into, unconditional love. Who is there to be blamed?

Within the vast, open, spacious awareness of Unity Consciousness, all things are allowed to be as they are. The Wounded Child is embraced with compassion and presence. She is seen and felt. No need to resist or fear her. No need to fix or change her. Simply being present with her.

My whole drama is a wave of energy, arising and falling away, in the ocean of Oneness. All is forgiven. There’s nothing to forgive.

As I share my process with you and describe it in terms of these four dimensions, please keep in mind that it’s a fluid, organic process, and I’m still in process. It’s not a 1, 2, 3, 4, step-by-step process, and it’s not an intellectual process. It is experiential, and the experience moves through my emotions and thoughts, as well as through more subtle and intuitive aspects of my being. Last but not least, remember that the forgiveness process calls for a generous dose of self-love and self-forgiveness. Be gentle with yourself.

Please leave a comment and let me know what has been sparked within you, by my description of the forgiveness process and these four dimensions.


Are You Selfish Enough?

 Let’s re-frame the word “selfish”

When I was about 20 years old, I read a book titled, “When I Say “No”, I Feel Guilty”. That book was an eye-opener for me.  As a shy college student, I wanted to be liked, I wanted to think of myself as a nice person, and I was afraid to deal with conflict.  I thought saying “Yes” was the nice thing to do.  Eventually, I got the hang of saying “No”, but I must admit the temptation to feel guilty can still rear it’s ugly head. Loving myself enough to be “selfish” is an ongoing process.

DON'T BE SELFISH.framedA lot of us were taught to believe that it’s “selfish” to ask for what you want, or say “No” to what you don’t want. But stop and think about it: Who was the first person to accuse you of being “selfish”?  It was probably a parent or maybe a sibling. As very young children, we learn that we’re supposed to play nice, share our toys, and let Johnny go first.  These are important lessons for a 3 year old. But as an adult, if you ignore your own needs in order to play Mr. Nice Guy, you lose.  You lose your self-respect, your power, and your autonomy.  It might make everyone around you happy, but are you happy?

Here are five clues that you may not be selfish enough:

1) You’re more concerned with what’s fair to others than what’s fair to you.

2) You attract people who are very focused on themselves.

3) You’re afraid to ask for what you want.

4) You’re not sure what you want.

5) When you say “No”, you feel guilty.

Let’s turn it around.

  • Give yourself permission to be selfish.  Give yourself permission to be self-loving.
  • Listen to your gut feelings. Is your gut saying “Yes” or “No”?  If someone asks you to do something, check in with how you feel. Does the thought of doing it make you feel heavy or light?
  • Know that if you say “No”, the other person is free to react however they choose, but you don’t need to feel guilty about being true to yourself.
  • Take time in solitude to listen deeply to the prayer of your heart. What is your heart’s desire?  Then, have the courage to ask for what you want.
  • Take some steps, however big or small, to create a life that makes your soul sing.

As Jeshua says, in The Way of Mastery, “Self love is the love of the Creator. You cannot love the Creator while rejecting the Creator’s creation.”  Self love.WOM.lily

So, it turns out that loving yourself is actually the spiritual thing to do!  Who knew?

Leave a comment and let me know an act of self-loving-kindness that you did today.

 


Who is the Authority on You?

Confused

Consider these scenarios:

  • When a student said “No” to the sexual advances of her teacher, the teacher responded, “You need to learn about spiritual surrender.”
  • After a young woman told her ex-husband that she didn’t want him to come by the house, he yelled, “You’re just reacting out of fear, and fear is an illusion.”
  • A man received an unexpected letter from an angry friend who pointed out all the mistakes the man made in raising his son, and blamed the man for the problems in his son’t life.

As you read these scenarios, it’s probably obvious that there’s a lot of manipulation going on here,  But, in real life, when you’re in the heat of an argument or you need to confront an authority figure, the emotional charge of the situation can cloud your thinking. It can be difficult to see yourself clearly, when someone tries to convince you that they are RIGHT about you…when they claim to be right about everything you’re doing wrong.

Who is the authority on you?  You are!  As Wayne Dyer says, “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

pointing fingerBut what if you get thrown off balance by other people’s judgment or criticism of you?  You might feel especially vulnerable when dealing with someone in a position of authority. For example, if a spiritual leader, a teacher, parent, or someone you consider to be an expert has a negative opinion about you, you might be tempted to value their point of view more than your own. This can also happen with friends, your spouse or partner, or even an enemy.  You might get “hooked” by how they feel about you and how they see you.

If you find yourself going into confusion or self-doubt, and you’re wondering if maybe the other person is

right about their negative perception of you, here are some red flags to watch out for:

Does the person…

  • Use spiritual ideas to make you wrong, shame you, or put you down
  • Analyze your actions and tell you exactly how messed up you are
  • Tell you, directly or indirectly, that you don’t know what you’re talking about
  • Say you shouldn’t be setting the boundaries you’re setting
  • Deny your feelings
  • Claim to know, better than you do, what is best for you
  • Blame you for the pain they are feeling

All of the above are tactics for undermining your sense of your own integrity and inner authority.  Don’t get hooked!

No one can tell you who you should be, what you should believe, or how you should be feeling.

*Please leave a comment and let me know how you keep yourself from getting sucked in to other people’s judgments about you.


Beware the Inner Critic in Disguise

angel costume

It is definitely a trick, and not a treat, when your Inner Critic shows up at your door, disguised as your most Angelic Spiritual Self.  She seems quite believable, while she rattles off an endless list of everything you’re not doing right. She’s acutely aware of what you should be doing to elevate your consciousness.  But you’re not.  If you’d only listen to her, you would become a much more holy, enlightened, and perfect being.  She cracks the whip on you, trying her damnedest to get your lazy-ass self to evolve. “You should be more compassionate”,  she says.  “You shouldn’t judge people.” “You shouldn’t get so angry.” “You shouldn’t keep repeating those same stupid patterns.”  She rants on and on, day and night.

Now, hold on just a minute.  Does this seem like the way an angel or an evolved being would treat someone?  She’s mean to you.  She puts you down.  She makes you feel like s–t.  No, that’s no angel.  That’s the same old Inner Critic that’s been beating you up and shaming you for decades.  It’s just that now, she has an agenda for your spiritual life, too.

If you catch your Critic wearing angel’s wings, realize she has good intentions.  She really does want to help you improve yourself and your life.  It’s just that she’s going about it in a way that’s not helpful.  It’s hurtful.

Your True Self is already who you are, but it’s hard to see that when you’re under the spell of the Inner Critic.  How about calling forth your Inner Compassionate One, instead?  Ask her to talk to you. What would she say about you?  How does she see you?  How can she support you in seeing through the negative, false beliefs about yourself?  Let her embrace you with love, as she lights the way to remembering who you really are.

 


Virgo Full Moon: Are You 100% Pure?

When you think of Virgo and the word “virgin”, don’t think about sex.  Think “virgin olive oil” or “virgin forest”.  These virgins are in their natural state of wholeness. They are “100% pure”, which means that nothing was added, and nothing was removed.  In astrology, the archetype of Virgo is about helping us get back to our essential wholeness.

At the Virgo Full Moon, we get to experience the energies of both Virgo and it’s opposite sign, Pisces. Virgo, an earth sign, is concerned with wholeness at the physical level. It clearly sees the boundaries that separate one thing from another, and is quite skilled at figuring out “What’s wrong with this picture?”. That type of discerning vision sees what might has been added that doesn’t belong, and what  has been taken away, that should be there. Virgo sorts, clears the clutter, cleans things up, and gets us organized.

ocean mistPisces, being the polar opposite of Virgo, does not see any boundaries between things.  In fact, it doesn’t see “things”.  Pisces is aware of Oneness.  It sees that all appearances arise and pass away within the vast cosmic ocean of our one shared Being.  There is no separate self.  Nothing is wrong with any picture.  Everything and everyone is perfect just as it is.  It couldn’t be  any  other way.  Pisces’ vision shows us our wholeness and perfection at the spiritual  level.  We see ourselves as 100% pure spirit.

While Virgo strives to fix and improve things, Pisces accepts everything just as it is and embraces all with unconditional love. How can we bring the two sides of this polarity together and make sense of this paradox? 

One way to understand this paradox is to consider that we are Divine Humans: our being is both spiritual and physical.  We are complete and perfect, spiritually, AND, on the physical level, there are always some things to clean up or improve upon.  After enlightenment, we still need to do the dishes and take out the trash.  Pisces helps us to know who we really are, in our spiritual essence. Virgo keeps our bodies and our physical environment healthy, wholesome, and in order.  

Sometimes, Virgo’s desire for wholeness gets distorted into perfectionism, and we can become critical of every little flaw.  Pisces offers a balance by helping us remember the true perfection of our spiritual nature.  We can let go of trying to control and fix everything. We can accept ‘what is’, even if the personality self can’t see how it could possibly be ok. With an attitude of compassion toward ourselves, we can use the discernment of Virgo to clear out false beliefs that make us think that something is wrong.  The Work of Byron Katie is a great tool for cleaning up our untrue thoughts so we can love ‘what is’.

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On this Virgo Full Moon, may you realize there’s nothing wrong with you.

May you clear the clutter with an attitude of compassion and truly letting go.

May your accept your virginity…your purity…your wholeness.

And may you forgive any typos in this post!


Leo Full Moon: May I Have This Dance?

 

Leo Full Moon

Part I:  Leo Wonders

Can you see me?

Can I see myself?

Can I free myself?

Who is doing the looking?

A cool and distant observer?

Or an unconditional, accepting, spaciousness?

Shining radiance

Appreciating her own Divine light

Not giving a damn

That’s freedom!

Part II:  Aquarius Watches

Aquarius stands apart

Breathing to her own drumbeat

Hesitant to join the dance

Leo’s infectious joy

Captivates and seduces

Come play!

There are no steps

There are no rules

Express your funky self!