Lovelution

I’m hearing daily stories of heart break, illness and tenderness from friends and clients.  It seems to be in the collective energy field right now.  Regardless of where you fall politically, I think many people are experiencing the chasm in our country:  between parties, between groups, between relatives and friends.

If our true nature is to be universally connected to all (which I believe) then this rampant atmosphere of divide and finger-pointing must be painful to all of us on a soul level.

So what to do?  How to keep my heart open? No matter what?  No matter who I am thinking about or dealing with?  That is my practice that I’ve dedicated my life to.  Even if it feels good to distance myself from somebody (or some group) because of their actions or words, I choose to take a look within myself and try and access compassion.

It’s a spiritual axiom that we can only change ourselves.  Gandhi said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  I know I’m not saying anything new, but I’m sharing my practice with you with the hope that it may be helpful.  Living a heart-opened path (no matter what!) is much easier to do when everyone is doing what I think is right, or “playing nice” and not triggering me.   But what about when someone does something egregious?  It’s so tempting to distance myself and say “Oh no.  I would never do that!”

But if we’re all connected…I need to take a long, deep look at myself and find the part(s) of me that are related.  Instead of pushing away aspects of myself that I don’t like to see in others, or that make me uncomfortable, I need to shine a light on those parts, and love them up.  I believe that I do have the wounded masculine aspect in myself that acts out of insecurity and powerlessness. I am the wounded feminine that is too afraid to speak up, or speaks out harshly, fearing I can’t have what I want.  I am the divine as well – we all are.  I have all aspects of shadow and light inside of me because I am human.  I am a spirit having a human experience.  I think I signed up for all of it!

And so,

I am practicing loving myself.  Unconditionally.  Simple yet profound.

Love.  It’s been written about.  It’s been sung about.  It’s an energy.  It’s a feeling.  It’s a way to live.  So often I have looked externally for this feeling and offered it freely to others, but I forgot (or rushed past) the first step:  Self-love.

If you are like me, you might read those two words and think “Blech”.  Self-love?  That’s no fun.  I like to connect with others.  I like to interact.  Self-love sounds lonely.  And boring.  I really used to think that!  (TRUTH:  Sometimes it is kind of lonely and boring – definitely not instant gratification land.)

I believe self-love is the foundation for my life.  When I skip this step (and I have) the opportunities keep showing up to allow me to get it right.  Like pulling a weed and not getting the root, it just keeps coming back.

How do I practice self-love?

One of the ways I do is to stay present to “what is” vs. what I wish was happening, and not try and escape any uncomfortable feelings that may arise (like loneliness, fear, grief).  It’s a practice and some days are better than others.  When an uncomfortable emotion shows up, I try to be loving and patient – the same way I would be with one of my children.  Acceptance and forgiveness are huge players in this arena.  Trying to love all parts of myself, not just the “nice” parts.

Unconditionally loving ourselves means accepting all parts of us, not “fixing” or removing the more prickly parts of self, rather shining true love and compassion on those harder to accept aspects of ourselves.  This is love unconditional.  This is love invincible.  This is LOVELUTION.

LOVELUTION:  a beautiful and quick shift from simply existing to loving oneself constantly and totally, radically impacting all areas of your life to ripple out to others.  (I made it up.  You’re welcome.)

Ripple out to others?

Yes!  The best part of this, is that when I fully give myself to this path of open-hearted living, it is guaranteed to benefit everyone in my life.  That’s right, by loving myself, I am increasing the love in my life.  Love begets Love.  I am surrounding myself with love.  This is an energy I can always impact and control because it begins with ME.   When I plug into this, I see its effects immediately.  People respond and behave lovingly to me.  Some days are easier than others.  Some days I love myself more than others.  One day at a time.  Progress not perfection.  I’ll keep you posted.

Lovelution!
The time will come 

when, with elation 

you will greet yourself arriving 

at your own door, in your own mirror 

and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 

for another, who knows you by heart. 

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 

peel your own image from the mirror. 

Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

 

Chakra Series – 5th Chakra

Throat Chakra - taken by my son
Throat Chakra – taken by my son

Vishuddha – Throat Chakra – Sound, Creative identity, (self-expression)

This is the chakra located at the throat and is related to communication and creativity.  When open, you are free to speak your mind, express yourself fluently, and feel as if you have a right to your voice.  I’ve been hesitant to write about the 5th chakra because I’ve been in a funky place of self-doubt, insecurity, and writer’s block.  The antithesis of a flowing 5th chakra.  But then I realized, I was waiting until I had something “good” to write, instead of just sharing what is living in my heart and speaking my mind.  That I can do.

This is the time of year I always, always begin my descent down into the underworld, to shed my layers and hang on Inanna’s meat hook.  I feel like my insides are exposed and I get protective, isolated.  Something about the holidays and my birthday approaching.  And an internal wisdom to hibernate and go within that bumps up against our society’s demand that we Celebrate!  with a capital ‘C’.

Yesterday was the Day of the Dead.  The veils are thin at this time of year.  I feel it.  The clocks have turned back this morning, and while I write this, the sky is putting on a show for me;  rose pink, lavender gray and pale orange behind inky trees.

November Sky
November Sky

Where does the time go?  I spent Halloween night quietly, not a lot of trick-or-treaters on our street.  I spoke to Andy, alone on Halloween just like me, in another state.  We texted each other using emoji’s = Modern Love.  We were walking down memory lane about past Halloweens with our kids.  I was looking at old pictures of parties we used to have.  I was feeling melancholy looking at the small fresh faces in all the photographs, dressed in their costumes.  Pirate cheerleader, angel, ghost.  “I know, those days are gone forever” texts my husband.  “Thanks for cheering me up!” I text and include a gun emoji pointed at my head.  (my sense of humor)

I had one tiny little girl who stared at me with wide eyes and, when prompted by her parents, whispered a hushed “twick or tweat”.  My heart ached with the purity of that age – her family’s future spreading out before them in an amalgam of hopes and dreams.  I’ve aged.  I’ve become cynical.  My heart is broken.  This is the first Halloween ever that I haven’t spoken to my daughter.  I can’t.  She’s not here.  She’s in a therapeutic boarding school.  This is our life right now.

Gazing upon my trick-or-treater’s face, I felt like Scrooge looking down on Tiny Tim and felt my heart crack with her innocence.  I ran upstairs and got my daughter’s fancy tea set all packed away in a wicker basket (I remember when I bought it at a fancy toy store in town that has since closed) and handed it to the girl’s mom.  “Enjoy it, use it” I said.  One more childhood token removed from the house.

It feels cliche for me to write about the “cycle of life” but it always comes up for me at this time of year:  birth, death, dreams, heart-ache, babies, teenagers, the truly egregious wounds that family can and does inflict, Spring, Fall, candycorn, rotting pumpkins, plump cheek, wrinkles, baby, crone, dropouts, honor roll, fresh air, meds, the redemptive power of LOVE in family = it all swirls inside my brain and my heart and collects in an aching lump, in my throat.  Glad I got it down in words today.

Chakra Series – 4th Chakra

4th Chakra activated
4th Chakra activated

Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata) the heart center – this chakra allows us to love deeply, feel compassion, and access a sense of peace and connectedness.

There is much yearning for me to live in the heart center.  If you notice, it’s right in the center of the 7 chakras.  I draw upon the energy from the lower chakras and pull down the energy from the upper chakras and they all meet in the 4th to generate a warm loving pulse, a strong drum beat that I walk to.  Not all the time, but as much as I can manage.  It is my life practice to keep the heart chakra open.

“Love is what we are; we don’t get it from somebody, we can’t give it to anybody, we can’t fall in it or fall out of it. Love is our true Being.”  Krishna Das

This post has taken me longer to write than the others in the series because I want to do it justice.  Like describing a lover’s face to somebody else, I don’t want to leave anything out, get it just right.  And in the realization of that, I can let go and do my best, it’s just ego setting out its trip wire.

Once, when I was a pre-school teacher, one of my favorite 4 year old girls threw her arms around me and said “I love you so much, I wish I could kiss you on the lips!” and I received the pure uncensored abandon of her love.  What my 4 year old girl wants to say about the 4th chakra is: “I am in love with this chakra, with this life, with YOU, with ME and I wish I could write a thousand love poems for the heart!”  I wish I could throw my arms around the world and dissolve into one million points of light and ecstatically merge with All.  (Maybe that’s what death is like…I hope so.)

This full moon time, I’ve been praying to take the “next step” in my work life, the next step on the path of meaning and service.  I pray to be of service in the world, in the areas of death & dying, grief healing, suicide loss, threshold passages, sacred sexuality, body awareness/appreciation – you know, just the usual stuff.  And ALL of it under the umbrella of sharing from the heart, with each and every encounter, seeing others through eyes of love.

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”  -Rumi.

So how to do that?  Stay in love with the world on a daily basis…not always easy.  Especially driving around Boulder at 5pm.  My god I am challenged!  I am humbled by how quickly I can get knocked off center.  My blueprint for living these days is my beloved book:  The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer.  In it, he speaks about how the heart center is an energy center and this energy (Chi, Shakti, Spirit) is unlimited and it’s our birthright.  It’s our birthright!  We store pain in the heart center and in order to be truly FREE, we need to commit to a practice of feeling our pain and releasing it, witnessing it as energy, nothing more/less, and allowing it to pass.  This enables us to stay in our heart and not close it off anytime we think we might feel something painful.  Living in fear of feeling something  that hasn’t happened yet isn’t freedom.  Singer says:  “The only thing you have to know is that opening (the heart) allows energy in, and closing blocks it out.”  The good news is that I am presented with mulitiple opportunties a day to stop, breathe and relax my heart and open it again.  Which is why it is my most active, ongoing practice and it has immediate, amazing results.  My life is changing before my eyes.

 

Lotus Mudra (for an open heart)
Lotus Mudra (for an open heart)

“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.

There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.

You feel it, don’t you?”

― Rumi

Chakra Series – 3rd Chakra

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.41.41 PM
Warrior One – Kirsten Boyer Photography

 

There is a force within that gives you life – Seek that.

In your body there lies a priceless jewel – Seek that.

Oh, Wandering Sufi, if you are in search of the greatest treasure, don’t look outside, Look within, and seek That.    -Rumi

There is a warrior quality to the third chakra.   In this yoga posture – Warrior One – I am  Grounded, rooted (first chakra),  my second chakra supplies chi to my third.  Straight back, open heart, arms stretching in each direction, fingers pointing the way, eyes looking right over the hands, merging Will with Vision = I See.  Throat open, Third Eye looking in the same direction as the right hand,  head erect, connected to source.  POWER!

This chakra is known as the power chakra, and is located in the solar plexus.  It rules our personal power, will and autonomy, as well as our metabolism.  When open, this chakra brings us energy, effectiveness, spontaneity, and non-dominating power.  A healthy sense of self-esteem and identity are associated with a freely flowing solar plexus chakra.

I have a strong life-force; I think it and then I do it.  In the past, I haven’t always been so graceful.  My will.  My way.  The third chakra is governed by fire.  I have a lot of fire in my chart and I have burned people in the past with my words and my actions.  A truth seeker by nature, I took pride in my “swords of truth” not really noticing the bleeding bodies left in my wake.

Over the past several years, I have softened and matured.  Life has tempered me – sometimes mercilessly.  Nothing like going from the white hot flames to the ice cold bucket of water repeatedly.  I surrender!  I’ve become much gentler in my delivery.  I’ve learned the value (the life path really) of vulnerability and connecting my heart to my actions.  And like the sword, I’ve sharpened to a beautiful blade – I’ve learned when to apply force with a gentle pressure, and I also know when to cut through the bullshit.   I embody warrior strength with intention and temper it with a gentle heart.  I strive to marry my will with Divine will, so that I may be of service in all ways.

I honor myself.  I offer my light and service to the world.  I give light to all chakra centers above and below.  I am the bright Sun.  I am the light force made manifest.  -Isha Lerner from the Triple Goddess Tarot

Chakra Series – 2nd Chakra

Beach BlissAnd forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  – Kahlil Gibran

The second chakra is about pleasure, sensuality, touch, sexuality, creativity, fire, passion, life.   Its essence is water.  When open, there is an openeess to intimacy, an ability to express oneself freely, and a level of comfort with one’s sexuality.

When I was 25, living in the Midwest, I knew I was ready for a change.  I wanted to move west and applied to several colleges in WA, OR and CA.  I flew out to Eugene for a school visit and then drove down the coast of Oregon with a friend and landed in the Bay Area.  We stayed with some friends of hers in Berkeley in a communal household that seemed like the “overground” railroad stop for dead-heads and free spirits.  Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore.  The beauty of the Berkeley hills, the smell of jasmine in the air, the bountiful potlucks and the constant stream of colorful people coming in and out of the house awakened my yearning for life, like a hibernating bear smelling the winds of Spring.

One day we drove to “Red Rocks”, a nude beach just south of Stinson.  It was my first nude beach. We parked on a cliff and hiked our way down.  Far below, I could make out tiny brown people playing Ultimate frisbee (naked!) in the sparkling surf.  A few hours later, I was splashing in the waves, feeling the water on my bare skin and throwing a disc, leaping and jumping with abandon.  I felt like I was “home” and free in a way I had never experienced before.  I was sold.  I flew back to Illinois, packed up my car, grabbed my cat and drove back to Berkeley to the purple house on Oregon Street to begin my new life in CA.

That was 24 years ago.

Along the way, there has been plenty of “life” to fill in those 24 years.  College, Grad School, work, lovers, marriage, children, divorce, re-marriage,  friendships, yoga teacher trainings, ceremonial arts training, Reiki training, hospice training, work, travel.  Somewhere in all of that living, I think I lost sight of that free-spirit that is my nature.  One day, sitting in a women’s circle, the facilitator asked “If you were to die today, would you feel like you had reached your fullest sexual potential?”  I was shocked at how fast my mind screamed “NO!”

It’s virtually impossible to be a woman in this society and not have experienced unwanted sexual energy/attention at best, and sexual abuse at worst.  At 13, I was my full height (5’9″) and looked much older than I was. I attracted male attention and had no idea what to do with it,  I became overwhelmed and shut down.  I also had an aura of shame about this attention, as if somehow I had done something to make these men think they could speak to me inappropirately or touch me intimately.  I was confused and scared.  A part of me – my second chakra – closed down.    “The second chakra is water ruled.  Water holds emotional memories of past hurts and sexual abuse.  Deep healing is possible through this sacred vortex.  With great love and care it is possible to reclaim one’s eternal innocence and purity.”  (from the Triple Goddess Tarot)

This year, 2014, has been the year of consciously reclaiming my “eternal innocence.”   I am rediscovering my true nature; which is a sensual, creative, free-spirited being. As I near 50, I  ask myself, “If not now, when?”  This is my one good life in this body and I want to make it memorable and potent!   On the winter solstice last year, I set an intention to do the Level 1 training at the Human Awareness Institute.  The Level 1 workshop is titled “Love is a Miracle” and focuses on opening the heart, accepting and loving your body, and experienicng love and trust with others, among other things.  When I looked at their website, all I saw was “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops” and it was an edgy step for me to sign up to do this weekend – solo!  I can’t speak highly enough of the caliber of facilitation, the sweetness of the participants and the potency of the exercises I was lead through over the course of the weekend.  The other men and women who were in the training were sweet, courageous, gorgeous souls that I connected with deeply.  It was life changing for me.  Deep bow to my husband for letting this butterfly fly free and be there to greet me upon my return.  I know he is feeling the benefits of my deeper love and kinder heart.  I’m in love with the world right now, and it feels amazing!

Yesterday, in Santa Cruz, I went to the nude beach and met up with some friends.  We played frisbee in the sparkling surf and I felt alive and embodied – sprinting across the sand, leaping in the air to catch the disc, diving in the waves.  There were moments of pure joy of movement where the appreciation for my body bubbled up within and I laughed outloud.  I felt ageless, beautiful and sexy.  I thought to myself…”If I die tomorrow, I hope my friends remember me just like this.”  This is my essence, my second chakra spinning freely, an orange disc.  Afire with Shakti, sensual goddess, my passion for life dripping off of each strand of hair, empowered with Light and Creativity.

May all things move and be moved in me and know and be known in me.  May all creation dance for joy within me.  -Chinook Psalter