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

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