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.

 

 

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