Your Unique Self: Waking Up and Waking Down

“You are a unique expression of the self-same love that exists in all creation.”

-A Course of Love

SnowflakesWilsonBentley

Remember when you were a kid and marveled at the beauty of snowflakes? Someone probably told you that every snowflake is unique. That’s true. And you are just like a snowflake…totally unique. While each snowflake is a unique crystalized form, all snowflakes are made of the same substance…water. When the snow melts and returns to liquid water, we see that, ultimately, there is no separation between one flake and the next. Snowflake_proportions_(1)

You are a unique crystalized form of Love. The Love that is God is like water: continuously flowing as one, undivided substance. The Light that is God is like the Sun…a magnificent, radiant light source that shines on and through each of our crystalized forms. God is One Source with many expressions.

I used to think that spiritual awakening, or becoming enlightened, was about realizing “No Self” and seeing that we’re all just a big blob of Oneness. But that’s only part of the picture. “Awakening” goes in two directions: waking up and waking down.

Snowflake_crystalWhen we wake up from the dream of separation, we “get” that our True Nature is something we all share. Imagine being a snowflake that melts into a stream of water and remembers it’s origin. Our True Nature, that which makes us One, is the Love and Light of God.

Once you wake up to Love and remember that you are seamlessly joined with All That Is, then the “waking down” process begins. As you “wake down”, you return to your Unique Self…your unique crystalized form. And now you have a whole new awareness of who and what you really are. You become a more spacious self that lets the Light and Love of God shine through without obstruction.

As you “wake down” you gradually emerge as the Divine Human you were meant to be…totally unique AND totally joined, in Union with God and all of Creation.

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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!


Defining Moments, or “How I Lost God and Found My Way”

As I sit here at my second Saturn return, I’m doing some life-review. This article is Part 1 in a series prompted by my reflections on a painful turning p0int in my life and my deepening understanding of the nature of Saturn, how it shows up in the sign of Sagittarius, and the gifts of the second Saturn return.

I’m looking at some of the defining moments in my life. Defining moments are not always joyful and triumphant. The greatest realizations are often hard-won, and their full meaning is often seen only in hindsight. Can I share one of my defining moments with you? It’s a story I’ve told time and time again, but now I see it from a broader perspective. This is the story of an excruciating moment that turned out to be the moment I was set free. I set myself free to follow my own path, claim my inner knowing, and find the Truth for myself. Here’s the story of How I Lost God and Found My Way.Torah

My hunger for spiritual experience started to surface when I was 11 years old. That summer, I went to sleep-away camp. It wasn’t your average camp with swimming lessons, Capture-the-Flag, and bunk beds. We did have all those things, but we also learned Hebrew, celebrated Shabbat, and fortified our Jewish identity. By the end of the summer, I had an intense desire to be more religious. If I did it all just right, I’d earn God’s approval. Or so I hoped.

During my second summer at camp, I had a profound experience. As I sat quietly by the lake, immersed in nature,lake I felt a sense of connection to something greater, something deeply peaceful  and vastly beautiful…something that can’t be confined within the walls of a synagogue, nor bound to ancient symbols on parchment, nor limited to a particular religion. It was a glorious feeling…connecting with the Divine through nature. By contrast, following all the rules and performing all the religious rituals had left me feeling rigid and empty. I fell tumbling into a well of disillusionment about Judaism and the notion of God as the angry father.

At the end of that summer, I gathered up my courage and broke the news to my mother:  “I don’t believe in Judaism, and I don’t believe in God.” My mother reacted with an anger that shocked me. “How can you not believe in God?” she yelled. “lock 3You’re too young to know what you think!” I felt deeply hurt and angered by her dismissive, authoritarian reaction. Knowing that my father would be even less receptive to this news, I decided never to expose my precious awakenings to them, again. Door slammed. Locked shut.

In that defining moment, I abandoned my religious heritage and set path in desertmyself on a solo journey guided only by my inner compass. It was a huge, lonely step for a 12 year old. This turning point separated me from my family. Yet it aligned me with my soul’s desire for direct spiritual experience and led me on a quest to find The Truth.

My circuitous path took me from Judaism to atheism to studies of Buddhist philosophy. At another twist in the road, I met Jesus (a life-changing experience, which is a story in itself). That opened the door to A Course in Miracles and other non-dual teachings, which led to a major awakening in 2013. Through years of seeking, I came to find my True Nature.

As I look back from today’s vantage point, I see that I had to find my own way. I had to leave the confines of traditional religion and the limiting perspectives of outer authorities in order to find the Divine, in my own direct experience. What about you? What painful, messy, tragic moments in your life have made you who you are? What dark nights of the soul have propelled you to grow and evolve?  What financial disasters, failed relationships, or bad career moves might you choose to look at from a new perspective? Take some time, look deeply, and consider the strength and wisdom formed in the crucible of your mistakes, your losses, and your disappointments.

(Click here for Part 2: Soul Contracts and Forgiveness)

(Click her for Part 3: Four Dimensions of Forgiveness)

(Click here for Part 4: How I Came Back to God)


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.

 


Looking in the Mirror

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In each and every moment, you cannot be a victim of what you see, and nothing is outside of you. What you experience, you have directly and deliberately called to yourself. If you hold the thought, “I do not like what I have called to myself,” that is perfectly fine…Merely look with the wonder of a child, and see what it feels like, and ask yourself, “Is this an energy I wish to continue in, or would I choose something else?                                  -Jeshua, The Way of Mastery

When I was first exposed to this idea, through A Course in Miracles, I felt a lot of resistance.  “What do you mean, I’m responsible for what I see?!?”  I protested. “I certainly didn’t ask for the emotional abuse I experienced in my first serious relationship. I didn’t send a request to the universe, asking for  a neck injury. I didn’t put in my order for an unbridgeable rift between me and my father.”

I wanted to push these painful experiences away.  I wanted to dis-identify with them. I wanted to believe that these things just happened to me, but they weren’t connected to something within me.

I know I’m not alone in having this kind of reaction to the spiritual principle of “taking responsibility”.  I’ve seen many spiritual seekers struggle with, and reject, this idea. The reason why it is so difficult to accept is because, when we’re first introduced to the idea that we’re responsible for what we see, the following thoughts tend to arise:

  •  If I’m responsible, then I lose the option of seeing myself as a victim. I cannot project blame outside of me.
  • If I’m responsible, then somehow I’m guilty…guilty of creating these distressing experiences. That leads to a downward spiral of self-blame. People often ask, “Why did I create that?” with a tone of self-condemnation.

Please, don’t go down that spiral. Instead, let’s take a few steps back. Before we can gently and graciously accept responsibility, we must stand firmly rooted in the awareness of our innocence. At times, we all make mistakes. We all act from unconscious patterns. We all let fear guide many of our choices. Yet our True Nature is innocence. Our True Nature is love. Our True Nature is beyond the personality, and even beyond the soul.

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Take a few moments and let yourself rest into that feeling of your innocence. Let your awareness expand, out, beyond your body and your personality.  Identify with the fullness and spaciousness of your True Nature.

Breathe in the love that is your very Being.  You are perfect, whole, and complete. You are loved and loving.

Now that you’re rooted into who you really are, let’s take another look at the idea that you’re responsible for what you see. I encourage you to look at this from the perspective of the soul’s evolution: We each come into this incarnation with old baggage, old conditioning, which the soul carries as an energetic imprint. You might call it a “pattern” or a “vibration”. This energetic pattern attracts to itself relationships and situations that are in resonance with it. Mostly, this happens on an unconscious, energetic level. We do not consciously think, “I want to have painful and distressing experiences.”

What drives this process is not so much our thoughts, nor our behaviors. It comes from a much deeper place. Our unsavory experiences reflect aspects of the old, stuck patterns and false beliefs we’ve brought in, on a soul level. The good news is, we’re not doomed to eternal repetition of these patterns. Taking responsibility, by seeing that what we’re experiencing is a reflection of our own soul patterns, is what gives us the power to choose again…to choose for something different.

The evolutionary purpose of this reflective process is to show us where we’re still stuck, so we can disentangle ourselves. Our undesirable manifestations are there to show us what we don’t want to keep repeating. We get to see what we’ve believed, which isn’t really true, so we can let the false beliefs go. Our experiences serve as a mirror to what’s going on within our own unconscious, including the things in the shadow, that we do not want to see.

shadow is an illusion.web

When we know we’re basically innocent, when there is no investment in either guilt or blame, it is empowering to take responsibility for our own experience. When the old patterns are seen through, as mere shadows from our conditioning, we realize they have no power to hold us back. Then we can let them go, and choose again.

And don’t forget, you’re responsible for all the cool stuff you see in your life, too!

Please leave me a comment, and let me know how this lands for you. Do you feel resistance? Empowerment?  Bewilderment?


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.

 


Do…Be…Do…Be…Do

I recently did an informal survey of some friends and clients and asked:

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to living your spiritual beliefs in your everyday life?

Several of them had a similar answer:

“It’s difficult to stay attuned to my spiritual self while going about my daily tasks.”

They felt caught by their habitual personas and roles, and they got distracted by the demands of their jobs, caring for family, managing a household, and so on.

Is that true for you, too?  Do you find that all the doing of daily life seems to get in the way of simply being?

I used to think the answer was to find a balance.  Do…Be…Do…Be…Do.  Finding balance is a good place to start, but it’s not the whole enchilada.  When we take more time for being…when we meditate, breathe deeply, or sit quietly in nature…it can help us slow down, and calm the monkey-mind.  We can experience moments of peace and feel our connection to Spirit.  Those times of retreat allow us to re-enter the doing with more clarity and centeredness.woman meditating

At some point, we again find ourselves lost in doing.  Again we forget  our very Being, having fallen back into the collective trance of separation consciousness.  What I mean by the “collective trance” is that we’ve all been conditioned to believe that we are separate…separate from each other…separate from God…that we are isolated units of doing-ness, doing our best to survive here on the planet.  When we’re asleep in separation consciousness, we feel cut off from our Being.

Let’s take another look at the idea of balancing Do…Be…Do…Be…Do.  There’s a tricky little lie hiding in this seemingly beautiful notion of balance.  The false idea is that being and doing are separate but equal..that they’re on the same playing field…but they’re not. Action and rest are two sides of a polarity, and we can swing back and forth between them.  But when we talk about being and doing, we’re really talking about Being (with a capital “B”).  Our Being is our True Nature…our essence.  That’s what’s primary.yin yang.being

Our Being doesn’t swing back and forth or turn on and off.  Our Being is always present.  Being is what we are.  So, here’s the key to the Do-Be-Do dilemma:  Recognize that all doing arises within Being.  Take a moment and read that again.

Doing arises within Being.

Our Beingness is constant.  It doesn’t come and go.  It’s actually the doingness that comes and goes.  Periods of activity alternate with times of rest.  The doingness arises as a temporary state within the eternal, changeless presence of  Being.  Being embraces all and allows all.  It surrounds and permeates all doings.  It’s not called “the ground of being” for nothing!  It is the ground. It may seem to be in the background…or completely hidden…but it’s actually what’s most real about you!  Being is not something we do, when we sit and meditate.  Being is our true identity.  This is what spiritual awakening is all about: Remembering our true identity…waking up to our Being.

Have you heard the old saying…

“Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

That is a clever way of saying that there will always be things to do.  Even after we awaken and see our True Nature, the dirty clothes still need washing, the kids need to go to gymnastics, the floors need sweeping, and the job still has deadlines to meet.  The question is “Who’s doing the doing?”  woman sweeping.van goghAre you really the small, separate self, just getting things done?  Is it the little character of your personality-self, sweeping the floor like Cinderella?

Or is the floor being swept in the presence of your Being?

As for the old song, Do Be Do Be Do, let it sing!  It’s natural for our attention to oscillate.  Our Being doesn’t switch on and off, but our awareness of Being is sometimes bright and sometimes dim, depending on what we’re giving attention to.  Not to worry.  Whenever you remember, remember. Whenever you forget, that’s ok, because your Being can’t be lost.  When you go to sleep at night and dream wild dreams, aren’t you still you when you wake up in the morning?  It’s the same thing when we dream that we’re separate.  Our True Nature is not lost or diminished in any way.

So, what can you do about Being?  Certain activities do tend to support the remembrance of our True Nature.  Yup, this brings us full circle…right back to meditating, breathing, being in nature, or engaging any practices that help us let go.   When we relax the “Doer”, the “Fixer”, and the “Controller”, it’s easier to sense our Being.  When we quiet the ego’s chatter, the still small voice becomes more noticeable.

Remember: Action and rest both arise within your Being.  One is not better than the other.  They are complimentary aspects of life. Trust that even in the midst of concentrated doing, even during times of deep forgetfulness, Being is present.  It is the PRESENCE. Whether it’s in the background or the foreground of your attention, your Being is always there, embracing all, allowing all.  You might sense it in the little gap between exhale and inhale, you may glimpse it between one thought and the next, or maybe you’ll notice your spaciousness reflected in the wide open sky above you. You might smile to yourself, and silently acknowledge the vastness of your Being, in which all things arise and fade away.

Please leave a comment and let me know if this was helpful to you.

Did it answer some of your questions?

Did it raise more questions?

What are some ways that you notice your Being, in the midst of daily life?

I appreciate your feedback!

                           Sajit


Opening to Aquarius: Great Space

Big sky over Taos, New Mexico, reflects the spaciousness of Being.

Big sky over Taos, New Mexico, reflects the spaciousness of Being.

One of my favorite things about living in New Mexico is the big sky.  Seeing this vast space all around and above me is a constant reminder of the spaciousness of my Being.  Well, it’s not really “my” Being, it’s Being, itself.  Your Being…our Being…Being.  Who we are is way more than our bodies.  We can’t be contained by the body.  We’re too big for that!  Even our thoughts are too small for who we really are.  The mind, too, is like a big open space, in which thoughts arise and evaporate, like clouds moving through the wide open sky.  Have you ever watched as a cloud floated above you, high in the sky, and then dissolved into space?  Our thoughts are just like that: ephemeral and insubstantial.  Although we think of our bodies as solid and dense, physics tells us that “solid” matter is mostly space.  So, on this Aquarius New Moon, I’m celebrating spaciousness…will you join me?

The archetype of Aquarius (an air sign) can help us attune to our True Nature, which is spacious, unlimited, transparent, open, free, deep, and empty.  You could also say that our True Nature is “Love”, or “Peace”, or “Pure Awareness”.  Each of these descriptors is a way of pointing at our True Nature.  But no words, and certainly no one word, can truly describe our Being.  It is beyond words.  For now, let’s invite the Aquarius energy to enhance our awareness of ourselves as “space”.  I’m not talking about “give me space”, I’m talking about “I am space”!

Here’s a short breathing meditation, for the Aquarius New Moon:

Take a breath.  Fill your lungs with air, and feel the expansion of your inner space.

Take another breath and imagine you are breathing into every cell of your body.

Now, imagine that when you breathe in, the breath comes in through the front surface of your body. The exhale can flow out through the back surface of your body.

Sense your entire body as permeable, with the breath coming in and out, through all of the surfaces of your body.

As you “watch” the breath flow in and out, allow it to dissolve your body boundaries.

Now there is simply “breathing”.  No container.  No walls.  No “inside” and “outside”.  Just breathing.

Allow your sense of self to be the wide open space in which the breathing is happening.

Be the space.  Be spacious.  Simply Be.

Ahhhhh……

 

Want to do more Space exploration?  Here are some resources:

HAPPY NEW MOON!