When there are no words…

BeTheLight
The Light Surrounds Us

“The best work is done with either the heart broken or overflowing.”  Mignon McGlaughlin

A favorite quote of mine.  Sometimes the heart can be both broken and overflowing.

This past weekend was beautiful in California.  All the winter rain has brought spring flowers, blossoming trees and the most life-affirming color of green everywhere!  In the grasses, the leaves, the hillsides.

This past weekend was also my daughter’s 20th birthday.  On April 20th.  Which also happens to be the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shootings.  I remember calling my father in Denver to tell him he had a granddaughter (his first grandchild) and he said “Thank God something good happened today.” He then told me the tragic news that had happened in Colorado.  In the United States.  Right on this phone call, our hearts breaking and overflowing.

15 years later, living in Boulder, the baby now a teenager.  She was cutting her body.  Depressed.  Questioning life.  5 years ago today, I woke my daughter up at 5:30am and told her that we were getting on a plane.  We flew to Durango and 2 wholesome looking strangers walked up to us and took my daughter away.  (Staff from the Wilderness program her father and I had chosen.)  I never exited the airport, just got on the next flight back to Denver.

Yesterday I got a text from a friend:  “Call me when you can.”  My first thoughts were ‘who died?’ and ‘who has cancer?’.  The news:  A friend’s son had taken his life.  A howling black hole of wordlessness.  Tears.

All I could do is cry and play this Mantra.  Chattr Chakkr Vartee by Aykanna.  It is a mantra used to remove fear, anxiety and phobias.  It is a mantra to lift one out of despair.  “Chattr Chakkr Vartee is the mantra for the heart center, it gives direct energy to it. When you are sinking, if you know this mantra and can sing it, you can totally recuperate yourself.” — Yogi Bhajan

Meditation class last night – I’m leading a group for some of the parents of the preschool I work at.  Sweet, young parents of sweet, young children.  It’s all about being in the now, practicing presence.  I wondered how much to share at check-in.  I decided to tell the group what I was sitting with – talking about heart ache.  About child loss and parent grief.  Appreciating the ‘ALL’ of life.  Celebrating that both of my kids have bumped along in adolescence and for right now, just for today, they are both in such sweet places in their lives.  Heart overflowing with love for both of them.  It was a beautiful group, with tears, kindness and connection.  Heart overflowing with love for these sweet, earnest parents, and their worries and their struggles.

I taught them a Buddhist meditation, that my dear friend Sue taught me many years ago.  It’s my ‘go-to’ when there are no words.  When I don’t know what to do, or say.

Tonglen Meditation

“Tonglen is one of the richest and bravest practices that we can do.  This is one of the great meditation jewels that offers a way us to cultivate our natural mercy.”  Joan Halifax

The practice of Tonglen, or Giving and Receiving, is done to develop our compassion and our ability to be present for our own suffering and the suffering of others.  Pema Chodron teaches that Tonglen is a practice of  “sending and taking,” an ancient Buddhist practice to awaken compassion.  With each in-breath, we take in others’ pain.  With each exhale, we send them relief.  I like to think of myself as a being of light, composting the darkness.  Breathing in the sorrow, transforming it and exhaling out love.  

Get still, close your eyes, feel free to place your hands on your heart.  Inhale through the nose and breathe in any painful emotion that may be coming up for you (shame, anger, rage, fear, anxiety, frustration, judgement).  Stay neutral to the emotions, just breathe them in and allow them to be.  On the exhale through the nose, release these emotions and cultivate acceptance and compassion for yourself.  Allow the emotions to release through you and surround yourself with an energy of unconditional love.  

 

Note:  My daughter gave me permission to write and post this.

 

 

This Little Light of Mine

GetLit
Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light. -Yogi Bhajan
I know many people are feeling overwhelmed with everything they are reading and hearing about in the news.  Whether I am discussing the natural disasters, or the latest events in the United States, every conversation I have with friends revolves around what we can do, how we can help.  I had tea with a friend of mine, a retired attorney and fellow yogi, who said “I didn’t used to believe in evil.” and paused for a moment, calmly picking up croissant crumbs with his fingers, “Now I do.”  Things are feeling pretty dire – more than usual. Is this just me?  I wonder…   I am deeply saddened by recent happenings in the world (both natural and human) and I also believe that we are greater than this and that LOVE conquers all.
I have written before about Yogi Bhajan‘s prophecy that the world’s hectic pace will only continue to increase and many people will be overwhelmed – on all levels – and not know how to keep up with the chaotic energies.  He went on to say that a third of the world’s population would die, a third would go nuts and the last third would be left to hold it all together.  There are times when this prophecy feels like it has come true and it’s my choice to decide which third of the population I want to be a part of.
The day this picture (above) was taken, I had just driven 500+ miles in very challenging driving conditions: high winds, forest fires and driving rain for several hours.  I was driving a 22 feet van that I was not wholly comfortable with and even hydroplaned a few times.  When I finally pulled into the RV park, my legs were shaking.  I then proceeded to get into a huge argument with my daughter who left to stay with a friend for the evening.  I called a friend and sobbed.  After the cry, I felt…so much better.  Lighter.  Less alone.  Normally, I like to cry in private and talk to friends after I’ve had my breakdown.  I made a conscious decision to let myself be seen in my tenderness and it was a personal stretch.   I am grateful I made the decision to be vulnerable and reach out vs. keep it all to myself.  Thank god for loving friends that are lifelines!
When the darkness befalls me (whether because of what’s happening out in the world, or because of whatever is going inside of my own psyche) it’s time for me to reach into my Self Care tool box and use whatever is appropriate for the situation at hand.   I don’t intend to be Pollyanna or to sound naive, but don’t underestimate the power of Self Care!  When the world feels overwhelming, I turn inwards and listen closely.  “What do I need right now?” I ask myself.  Usually an answer pops right in.  Othertimes, I have to just use trial and error to see what helps.  Getting out in nature is always a great place to start for me.
Spending the last month on the road, in a van, living with a 15 year old boy, has challenged my self care routines. There is very little alone time (something that I normally rely on heavily for self-sourcing), there is limited wifi (connecting with friends/lifelines is almost nil), the weather was initially very challenging (exercise was not happening for days.)  I wasn’t meditating, I wasn’t practicing yoga, I was feeling isolated from adults and totally catering to another human 24/7.  Thankfully, I am remembering my own teachings on Self Care and Self Love from LOVELUTION! and putting my oxygen mask on first again.  Phew!
What does that look like?  Have you heard that expression “If Mama Aint Happy, Aint Nobody Happy”?  I’ve started making sure that I am doing something for myself each day that fills up my tank.  Whether that’s a solo run, a tea date with a friend, making time to write at a wifi cafe or bringing back my meditation practice (why oh why do I ever let this go?)  The expression “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” is my simple prayer and intention.  I want to shine as brightly as I can so I can add my light to all the other brilliant lights in the world and we can shine light in all corners, dispelling the darkness and love it up so that it doesn’t need to spread.
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.  All things break.  And all things can be mended.  Not with time, as they say, but with intention.  So go.  Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.  The broken world waits in darkness for the LIGHT that is you.    -L.R. Knost

Divinely Human

DivineHuman

I’m not sure if it was the rainy day today that made me even more dreamy than usual or just the seemingly random events that occurred this morning.  I read a woman’s post on Facebook that said she remembered her birth, that there were bright lights flashing in her face as she entered the world.  I thought about this (and her) for most of the morning.  Marveling that somebody remembers her own birth.  I believe her.  It’s just that I don’t think there are many people that remember their own births.

I’ve been tripping out on that more and more.  How special each one of us is…and how really getting to know somebody (for me anyway) is like learning a new language.  Sometimes like becoming an expert in a whole new species, surrendering preconceived notions and judgements.

***

I am driving on the road, past where the body of a young raccoon has been decomposing for a couple of days.  I can smell it.  But today I see another raccoon, a big one, dead on the other side of the road.  “Oh no!” I exclaim.  I wonder if they’re related, was this the already decomposing one’s Mama?  My heart sinks as I touch my heart.

I have a vivid memory of riding  in the backseat of my grandparents car.  We passed a dead dog on the side of the highway.  I was shocked to see it.  I didn’t realize that this could happen.  That dogs could get hit by cars and their bodies could lie by the side of the road, cars whizzing by.  I spent the rest of the ride in silence, deeply saddened.  That was a gray day too.

***

Early this morning the phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it anyway.  I rarely do that.  “Is this the Grief Support Network?” he asks.  “Well…not exactly”,  I answer.  Yes and no.  The hotline still transfers over to my cell phone even though I haven’t worked there in 6 months.  They don’t know how to fix it.

I start to go into a rambling explanation but then stop myself and ask if he is looking for support (sometimes it’s a sales person.)  He is.  He tells me what’s going on and I listen.  He explains to me that he has plummed the inky depths and also connected to his brightest divine nature.  “I can tell you get it,” he says.  And I do.  I am sitting at my computer in the darkness, having an intimate conversation with a “stranger”.

***

The older I get, the more I feel that each one of us speaks our own language and to really listen to somebody, to really get somebody, takes a certain amount of amazement and awe in humanity in general.  What delicate and finely-tuned creatures we all are;  senstive, unique, miraculous energy bodies that communicate on so many deep and subtle levels.   Right now, for me, this is the best show in town.  Peace and Love.