On the Other Side of Fear

I have news : we’re human. This means we are not, will never be, and have never been (nor were we INTENDED to be) p e r f e c t.
We fuck up.
We make mistakes.
We’re here to LEARN.
We trip and slip and curse and break. Things, ourselves, each other.
Anyone claiming to be perfect or holier than thou is full of it. They mean well, surely, but it’s bull.
I am flawed. Deeply. But you know what? I have learned that what I love MOST about others is often what they consider to be their own flaws. Crazy, right? That what I adore, someone actually feels insecure about.
So let’s stop chasing our tails expecting to wake up one day able to do it perfectly. Everything. We’re not INTENDED to, it’s not what we’re here to accomplish. Perfection. It’s an illusion.
We’re here to LOVE.
Bigger, harder; relentlessly.
We’re here to fuck up and then go, “Oh, that sucked, I’m not gonna do that again.”
We’re here to be messy, to be disciplined about some things and an utter wreck with other things.
We’re here to do what feels good, to injure as little as possible, to bond in our humanity.
We’re here to be REAL. Authentic. It’s kind of a rare trait these days. Especially in this little Narnia land of social media.
I am drawn to my brothers and sisters who share their vulnerability, who aren’t afraid to admit they’re HUMAN and real, who shake the world and do incredible work, but who also share their shitty days and biggest fears and most nauseating insecurities.
Does it make us any less mystical or spiritual or successful or capable to admit we’re flawed? To curse? To get heated? To love persistently? To gush adoration for every sentient being? To get pissed in traffic?
N.O.
We’re human. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. We can admire and adore and idolize and worship others all we want, but in the end, we all have a heartbeat. We are all temporally here, together, to do the best we can.
The moment we stop taking ourselves so seriously, the moment we start accepting and embracing ourselves FIRST, regardless of the “likes” or agreement – is the moment we step into our authenticity.
It’s a sweet space. Let’s meet there.

XO
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Be YOU

I love the image I shared below, but I have come to share a truth palm (I don’t know why but that phrase just feels right : like a face palm, but with the TRUTH).

I very rarely feel “able to accept all changes.” If I’m being really honest, getting really vulnerable, I will admit that no matter how many hours I spend on my mat, no matter how bendy I get and how far behind my head I can get my foot, I am psychologically inflexible.

There are occasions when I am naturally soft, flowing and open. Wildness and serenity are as familiar as the freckles on my nose, but mostly because I go to great lengths to craft my existence as carefully as I can. I bend over backwards to weave safety nets and build backup plans. I am undoubtedly pulled by the heaviness of the tides, affected by the tug of the moon; as thrashing and fierce in my emotions as the monstrous waves one moment, and then as placid and still as surface once the tide’s gone out.

“It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so deeply” is one of my favorite quotes. We are human beings. We are deeply flawed physical characters housing ineffably perfect bodies of Spirit, ruled often by intellect and irrevocably by emotion.
So what’s the big deal with admitting our perceived weaknesses? I spent so long feeling shamed by my inflexibility, especially given the field I’m in, but I now am exhausted by the shadow I myself have built around it…like a fortress of remorse…”I’m so sorry I wasn’t born more easy going, I’m humiliated by my internal (and sometimes external) reactions when things don’t go my way, when I’m taken by surprise and perhaps, even, don’t get my needs met.” I’m through with thinking like that. Because, you know what? We’re not “one size fits all.” We’re not hardwired for perfection. For so long now I have perceived this trait of mine as a hinderance, a deep flaw in my character that threatened to hold me back, cause me stress, set me apart from the “go with the flow” mass of humans I so lovingly admire. But no more. I choose not to hear that story and, even more, choose not to believe it.

For one person, flowing flexibility is inherent. For others, like myself, it takes showing up every single day with a little thing called courage. How (not so subtly) POWERFUL is THAT? Showing up each day, facing the fear that our perfectionist plans may get hitched despite our best efforts, and comforting ourselves through the uncertainty that is this chaotic, beautiful, blissful life. Cultivating the medicinal coping mechanisms that will soothe the unpredictability of the world, act as a balm when the precariousness of external forces chap our sensitive exterior.

I think that’s pretty damn AMAZING, if you ask me. Being able to harness an inner power that not only accepts our own soft spots (a kinder term for “perceived weaknesses” – like the soft spot on an infant’s skull; it’s not a flaw, it’s simply an area that requires handling with care, a very mindful attention towards not being dropped on that extra sensitive spot), is POWER. It is the predecessor to a practice of shifting and growing into the behaviors we seek and desire in ourselves. It IS possible to plant seeds of intention and gently curve ourselves into a different shape; but it takes practice, patience and acceptance. It takes knowing, and allowing for, the potential that we may never change shape.

It may never be in our ability to actually MORPH into an easy-going, “go with the flow” type individual; it takes embracing our rigidity and deep longing for order, and melting it with our love. It takes the steady, parental reminder to our inner child each and every day that, while change is uncomfortable, we are working hard in each moment to set up a safe space in which to rest, regardless of what happens on the outside. We are not claiming to be something we can’t be, we are simply allowing ourselves to flow in our own unique, sometimes inflexible, sometimes exquisitely rooted way. We are fighting fear with love, quelling anxiety with truth.

There will never be any way to wish ourselves into another form. There will always, enduringly, be only one way to proceed: acceptance. Love. Truth. To tell ourselves, in consoling whispers, the truth of our own understanding. To accept, and embrace, the parts of ourselves we have too long poked and prodded, wished into oblivion. When we come to a space of insight, of taking off both the rose-colored glasses and the hateful goggles of judgment, and see our true nature for what it is…that is when the healing ensues. That is when, no matter how flexible or rigid we innately may be, we find safety from the mercurial fluctuations of life.

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Permission to Write the Ending

Gaining closure. Easier said than done. Gaining closure from a relationship without the other person’s participation? Damn near impossible. Or so it seems. But this piece is intended to shed some light on how we, as sensitive beings with the sacred and painful gift of free will, can move towards closure without another person’s involvement.

Sound incomprehensible? Read on.

Now, first let me qualify “relationship.” By this I don’t just mean romantic partnerships. I mean any relationship had between human beings. Friendship, family, marriage, dating, work associations, childhood bonds, acquaintanceships, crushes, even toxic back-and-forth type connections. No matter how fleeting or lengthy an encounter was, ending relationships of any variety and duration can be tricky business.

I’ve written a lot here on this blog about relationships ending, moving on, making peace with endings. But what about the endings we didn’t plan for? We experience loss and the end of relationships for many different reasons. It’s not always a neat, mutual parting, tied with a bow. In fact, it rarely is.

What about when relationships end because of infidelity, rejection, sudden change of heart? What about death? Sometimes relationships end unexpectedly, irrevocably, and a conversation either isn’t offered or perhaps isn’t even physically possible. So what then? How do we process and move on?

Recently I’ve had two separate (and as polar opposite as can be, as far as breeds of partnerships go) relationships of different lengths and contexts, end. Actually, one has been over for quite some time, but I’m only now processing the ending of the friendship, and actually more through dreams and random thoughts than intentional thinking. The other ended abruptly and, heartbreakingly, On a physical level, it was a natural ending. On an emotional level, on a heart level, it was almost as if it ended without my consent.

I’ve reached out to one of these two people. Crickets. No response. Is there anything more frustrating in the world than one heart that yearns so deeply to thread together some semblance of completion to a ragged and jagged hemline, and another heart whose beating can’t even be heard from behind the wall that separates them? Than a friendship that spanned oceans and years and growing pains and celebrations, a friendship whose shooting star quickness constructed memories that now lie glossy in printed photo books but are fossils in real life? It’s strange. It’s haunting.

Even though I moved away from both of these relationships, I instigated the separation, even though I wouldn’t have written the endings the way they occurred (blast that pesky free will business), it really matters not. They ended. That’s the fact of the matter. And what am I left with?

EXACTLY WHAT I HAD WHEN I STARTED.

I am left with myself. My heart. My Spirit. My intellect. My yearning for human connection. The lessons I gained from these respective connections, tucked into the pockets of my soul, buttoned up beneath my heart and protected by its warm, pulsing beat.

So I guess the answer to how we find closure and peace around a situation whose ending we did assign our approval, all comes back to ourselves. Every relationship occurs as a learning opportunity. I believe everything is preordained. I believe we meet the people we meet, that we form friendships and fall in love and experience discord with certain people for very Divine reasons. I believe, as I’ve written before on “letting relationships end”, that not everything is meant to last forever. That sometimes we learn more from a six-week encounter than from a six-year encounter. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes I think we learn more from a fiery, passionate, star-crossed love affair than we do a faultless romance that just cools down and tapers off. Not always, but sometimes. And man, do we have a lot to learn from the “sometimes’.”

My best answer to the question I myself posed at the start of this essay is this: all we ever have is ourselves. We have experiences with other human beings of the most amazing, glorious, wretched, wrecked, mind-blowing and heartbreaking sort so that we can better understand ourselves, our own hearts, and how to love more fiercely, fearlessly and furiously than we could have without them. When a relationship ends without our permission, it is a sacred reminder from the Universe to never hoard our love, to never mask our emotions and to never wait. It is a whisper from the cosmos to act now, to be authentic, to never play games. Someone can be taken from us or leave us at any point; someone can fall in love and then change their mind; someone can adore your friendship and then, simply, stop. We have control over our own thoughts, bodies, minds, actions and capacity to love. But that is all. We cannot control the world around us (no matter how often, and aggressively, we attempt to convince ourselves of the contrary) and the sooner we realize this, the more ownership we take over own lives.

So we cope. We offer ourselves what we’d offer the one we love most; solace, support, comfort. We can write a letter we’ll never send, fill it with words the other person will never read. We can weep and then laugh; we can spill the contents of our heart into a jar, bottle it up, and send it out to sea. We can let the beauty of our experience shatter us, we can really feel what it feels like to suffer a loss outside our control. We can empty ourselves of the confusion and pain and frustration by feeling it, by really being in it. Holding space for it, staying present with it, and letting it run through us – like the wild, threatening river that it is. That’s all we can do. Because life has a plan, and it doesn’t always match ours, but that doesn’t mean that anything that’s happened to us didn’t happen exactly as it was meant.

We can dream and think about and remember people we once knew all we want…we can attach whatever meaning to that longing sensation that we will, but it is always going to be our own projection. Which means we have the power to offer ourselves closure. Peace. Conclusion.

Everything we think and believe is a projection of our mind. Thus, our sweet, well-to-do hearts can rest in the power of the mind that thinks itself ruler. Because we can tune that station as we will. We can close the page, gently and with reverence, on a relationship whether or not it ended the way we “wanted” or “expected.” Because we have the insight, and the free will, to caption our own still shots. It doesn’t have to be “UNTIMELY ENDING.” Things that happen are always timely, no matter how difficult it may be to see in the moment. Someone not returning our calls or simply disappearing from our lives actually makes us way stronger than having all the answers. It provides us the opportunity to answer for ourselves, to write the ending for ourselves.

No matter the context, no matter the collateral, we master our own ships. We pen our own epics. We – every, single, time – have permission to write the ending.

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CLICK

As human beings we crave CONNECTION. We just want to CLICK. With people, places, ideas, experiences. We just want to relate. And we want it as often as possible.

When I realized this, it was a bit of a “well, duh” moment blended with “okay NOW everything makes sense.” I felt compelled to share. I felt compelled to tell you, yes you, to please not be so hard on yourself when you feel threatened by incompatibility (I’m talking to myself here, too). Don’t judge yourself when you’re triggered. It’s an organic response stemming from a place of Love. It’s not our differences, our perceived weaknesses or flaws, but our reaction to them that causes suffering.

The decision, often quite unconscious, to feel “less than,” is the chief causal factor associated to our suffering.

I’m always so intrigued by how these essays go for me, I must say. Sometimes I sit down and bang one out, soaring through the overhead sky of inspiration hanging on threads of notions and kicking my feet in the starry abyss. Other times, like in this case, I start an essay on April 3rd and return to it on April 18th. So much – and I mean so much – has transpired since I first sat down with this concept. This concept that I chewed on for an entire day before downloading it, here, on this blank canvas with a blinking cursor.

Since first resting my bottom on my electric blue exercise ball (because it turns out this is infinitely more fun than a desk chair – just ask my friends, they’ve seen the videos of me bouncing on it when the blinking cursor is giving me the fish eye and my inspiration well is parched and cracked as the bed of a drought), I have decided to pick up my life and place it on a parallel path. Moving. Jobs, house, counties. I made the decision and boom: the Universe conspired. Everything aligned. But that’s a different essay entirely…although it’s totally embedded the webbing of this theme: CONNECTION. Because that’s what’s making this farewell so bittersweet. The realization of how deeply I’ve connected to this community, these past 5 years. Sometimes it takes leaving something to see how profoundly affected one has been by it in the first place…

Which leads me back to my initial point. We just want connection. It’s what we seek naturally, inherently, like beacons radiating into the night. Warm, ultrasonic waves of searching. Magnetically seeking a likeminded fit. A click.

I have always felt threatened by other people’s differences. I have always craved sameness. The “click,” if you will. It has taken me 26 years to understand this about myself and I suspect I’ll spend the next 26 or more, if I’m so blessed, investigating why I’m like this. But I think my realization earlier this month really illuminated the foundation of this circumstance.

I just want to connect. WE JUST WANT TO CONNECT.

It’s not about jealousy, it’s not about envy, it’s not about disagreement or judgement or competition or comparison. These are all the weaker (and I’m talking ice cubes in your decaf drip, watered down whiskey weak) forms of something much greater. They appear in these feeble configurations to distract us from what’s really going on. The root of everything is love. The source of everything is LOVE. Whether we recognize it on a daily basis or not, that is truth. That is gospel.

But when our delicate human psyches get swept up in the tidal wave of sickly exterior shapes like jealousy and comparison and judgement of self and others, we lose all contact with that source. The sweet nectar from which ugliness can spring. Because, remember, there is no duality. Everything is a spectrum. Love rests easily on one end, rage burns furiously in the middle and hate hangs haphazardly from the far end (I’m reminded of a favorite song, The Ballad of Love and Hate, by the Avett Brothers…I’ll link it at the end of this essay if you care to give it a listen, heart poetry).

The transparency of the matter is that we can be so damn hard on ourselves for something that is simply in our nature (at least I know I can be, so I assume you can be, too). I have spent so many years unconsciously berating myself – which manifests usually as a deep ache in my belly, a nervousness in my limbs, a scattering of my thoughts – for not being able to just accept the differences of others. The extraordinary flood of satisfaction I have experienced when I’ve met people whose checklists line up with mine (yes, yes…it all matches up, check, check, check!) and then the fretful free fall of disappointment when one of us changes, or some difference is exposed, and I feel a gap wedged between us. My brow furrows, is the gap traversable? How do we CONNECT now that we’re not the same?

It’s so funny to write this out, to really begin to dissect the concept. I know most people don’t think like me (because, well, most people are not highly sensitive, Type-A, overanalyzing, introverted intuitives). So if you’re reading this thinking, “What’s wrong with this chick? We’re different, duh, what’s the problem?” then GOOD ON YA! That makes me bounce happily on my ball for you. Because you get it. You see through the veils of weaker interpretation. You see that the differences are all perceived. They’re masks. What’s underneath is love. What lies below is the universal pulse that inevitably connects every one of our sorry hearts: the quest.

The quest for love, connection, that “CLICK,” the energy of feeling totally understood and held and supported. If we could put on horse blinders and dull our senses and just SEE one another straight up, no fancy dressings, we would see the “soul and not the story,” as my teacher Seane Corn says. We would see that our preferences, practices, opinions, beliefs, mother tongue, skin color, stature, orientation and political party are nothing more than obligatory check marks in boxes on a list made by society. BARRIERS AND BORDERS ERECTED IN AN ATTEMPT TO BLOCK THE FLOW OF LOVE.

Once we see this, once we realize that being triggered by differences and perceived incompatibilities are just organic responses stemming from a source rooted in LOVE, we can begin to rewire the innate reaction we have to resistance.

Kathryn Budig just offered this nugget of wisdom as I bounced on my ball distractedly and mindlessly opened a Facebook tab (because, well, that’s also how these essays sometimes go…like a cat following a shoe string): “Walk your beautiful path and wish the others well. No one has the same gifts to offer. The ones who value yours will find you. So, in a nutshell—competition and comparison are moot. How refreshing is that reminder? Cue big exhale.”

We will find the threads of connection. They are there, enduringly, below the surface. We mustn’t harden against ourselves when we feel these physical responses in our bodies, when we have these swarming thoughts and the panic waters begin to rise. May we intervene, kindly, gently. May we realize that this organic response is stemming from a place of Love. Simply and sweetly. Our craving connection is a most basic and pure necessity; akin to our need for oxygen, food and water.

May we awaken to the fact that feeling “less than” or “greater than” is a choice. It is the spring from which our suffering flows. May we choose to plug that leak with pretty flowers and mossy twigs. May we admire our handiwork and turn back towards one another. May we smile softly, letting the corners of our mouths turn up. May we listen, devotedly, for the CLICK…

And now, without further ado, I give you The A Bros: The Ballad of Love and Hate.

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Sisters of the Divine Consciousness

Ladies, Mamas, Sisters, I have an important announcement + invitation for you . . .

I have taken an oath. An oath of Love. One that vows to abstain, as much as humanly possible, from judgement, critique, comparison + discrimination. I extend my oath to all Sentient Beings, but feel this message is ESPECIALLY important amongst us. Amongst women. For we, as well you know, are the harshest critics of all. Towards ourselves, towards one another, and towards the ghastly, unattainable expectations below which we rest our Sacred, precious existence.

I invite you to join me. Join me in the fierce practice of impartial LOVE. Join me in promising to counter every judgment/comparison/critique/discrimination/harmful thought with one of Love/support/praise/compassion/or even neutrality. Do not underestimate the power of neutrality!

How another woman looks, what she wears, if she uses makeup, if she works out, if she’s thinner or fatter or younger or older or prettier or uglier or smarter or duller or more conservative or more provocative or more successful or quieter or less ambitious or WHAT-EV-ER…is NONE of our business. As my hero Elizabeth Gilbert​ says, in every case, “YOU LOOK TERRIFIC.” You ARE terrific.

No matter how you live your life, sister, I support you. I stand behind you. I may not always understand you, but I am empowered by you (even when I can’t admit it to myself + choose the path of neutrality instead). I AM you. You ARE me. We come from the same starseed. We are here as daughters, sisters, mothers, healers, Divine Feminine embodiments. A global sisterhood meant to uplift, connect, support + SANCTION one another’s equally precious and sacred existence. We vibrate on the same resonant frequency. We NEED each other. There is no room for dissonance. There is no room for disharmony. We have enough obstacles without turning on each other. We are on the same team. We are cut of the same cloth. We are made of the same cosmic magic. We are in the same Tribe.

I want to share with you my most favorite space on the wide web. The official website is coming soon, but for now you can join our global network of mamas (mama being WOMAN!) on instagram.
“Mothers of the Universe, Daughters of the Earth, Sisters of the Divine Consciousness. We hold the Light of our past. We are the women who create our future. We are all MAMA.”
Nothing has spoken to me like this mantra (because it’s SO much more than a mission statement) in a LONG time. Perhaps EVER. I am so moved, so utterly anchored + inspired by this notion . . . it awakens in me all sorts of memories, this life and otherwise, and leaves me feeling supported beyond words.

I have worried a lot about the negative effects of internet and social media on our wellbeing, as a whole – health-wise, in terms of Self-esteem, wreaking havoc on relationships and free time. It can be detrimental when addicted or used mindlessly. But I am putting my yogini foot in my mouth big time, more and more, as of late. I am FLOORED by the connections I’ve made. Especially in the past 12 months. Some of the greatest friends, business partners and teachers have emerged from wonderful corner pockets of the globe as a result of this powerful tool called social media. Summah, Nicky, Madison, Ksenia, Tribe de Mama, I could go on and on and on and on . . . you are all reflections of me. I am utterly and irrevocably altered and bettered by your roles in my life. It is only the beginning. I honor, respect and support you in every way I am able. I SEE you.

So, with that my MAMAS, I ask . . . are you ready to liberate the pure perfection that is the Goddess within you? Are you ready to break free of the chains that have kept you bound to the belief that anything outside of you has any effect on you whatsoever? Are you ready to leave behind the false belief that any woman ANYWHERE is ANYTHING but your equal, your sister, your teammate and your Tribe? Join me. Join us. We love you. We’ve been waiting for you. ❥❥❥

http://www.tribedemama.com

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More Power to Ya

I recently committed myself (I wrote it out meaningfully and forcefully in my journal, now making it a legit commitment-moving-towards-manifestation) to a new “rule,” if you will. I’m not really one for making up “rules” that actually feel good, but I am an incredibly disciplined person and this commitment has been a long time coming. Thus, I felt it a very necessary  and appropriate “rule” to implement.

I SHALL NOT JUDGE, COMPARE, CRITIQUE OR FEEL INFERIOR BASED ON ANOTHER’S CHOICES, LIFE, APPEARANCE, ACCOMPLISHMENTS OR OPINIONS.

Heavy, I know.

And hard. It’s going to be fucking HARD to keep with this one. But I’m on day three and, while the practice is fierce, it is also deeply healing. Yes, I said healing.

I’m realizing already, that through my judgments of and comparison with others, I am ultimately just judging and belittling MYSELFUltimately it is me who suffers. And, as a result, the vibration I’m emitting is weaker and dampened. My harsh inner dialogue, when it includes comparison, judgement and critique, is enfeebling my ability to vibrate at the frequency I know I’m capable of and meant to be operating on; it is crippling.

I’ll admit, I always find it mortifying to confess my triggers. But the more life I live, the more comfortable and even empowered I feel by doing so. I mean, hey, this is why I write, no? This is why I expose myself to anyone who cares to stumble upon Body Karma: for growth. For evolution. For the love of transparency and authenticity.

So here goes. Truth time. I am super triggered by a lot of things in life, and one I keep coming up against are runners. I know. Random. Strange, perhaps. But still, it is what it is. And I acknowledge it.

I’ve written about this before. Fellow yogis who also run. It makes me feel inferior. No, let me rephrase – I choose to feel inferior (ah that’s harder to say!) when I discover this. I can run, so why does it bug me?

I spent over a decade as a competitive, full-time athlete where running was a daily occurrence. Sprints, laps, miles, suicides. You name it. I have, as a result, developed a mildly loathsome relationship with running (save for the free-spirited sprints up hills when the desire strikes on a hike). To me it still feels like punishment and competition. Like, “When the FUCK is this going to end.” I find myself now riddled with the urge to tear down the sport of running. Desire to convince the world that it’s not good. Just like i had the desire to convince the world to be vegan when I was strict vegan, and to eat eggs when I started eating eggs again. A desire to make everyone be like me so I wouldn’t feel threatened.

Oh yeah, there it is.

“It’s bad for the joints, it’s hard on the body, it’s debilitating on the knees, blah blah blah.” My soliloquy for the anti-running campaign in my head is strong. Those are all true for me, yes. But they have no place whatsoever in a discussion with anyone who is not me. I have no way of knowing what it feels like to be in someone else’s body. I have no right to impart my own beliefs or judgements onto anyone else’s existence. What anything may or may not mean to someone else. Who the hell am I to judge someone for loving to run, or for adoring cross-fit, or for being obsessed with triathlons? More power to ya!

That’s what I think is coming to me more forcefully than anything else during this new approach, during this newfound commitment to non-judgment…is the energy of more power to ya.

I am realizing that someone else loving something that I don’t love, someone else being good at something that I suck at, someone else valuing something that I don’t value…DOES. NOT. LESSEN. MY. POWER.

Nor does it lesson my value, my ability, my worth or my own approach to living life.

Triggers come in many shapes and sizes. Your friend loves their high-powered career and it threatens your part-time, work-from-home approach to income. Someone you know believes a woman’s worth comes from having children, and you’ve chosen not to be a mother. A family member is close-minded and ignorant about sexuality and you feel judged for your orientation. People at work are openly atheist and your religious or spiritual alignment feels terrorized, or vice versa.

I could go on and on. There are innumerable examples for how we feel triggered and threatened, more reasons than could possibly be discussed in such a small space for why we react the way we do to these external forces.

But the truth of the matter is that everything in life is a projection of our own thoughts. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. No exceptions. Even if we’re “right,” even if a person does judge us, it’s still our believing of that thought that causes the suffering. Not the person’s judgement of us. Everything comes down to our perception. If we believe a thought, it can cause suffering. If we believe the opposite of that thought, it can cause peace. It’s really a simple formula. We can choose to turn up the volume on some things and mute others. But it is way easier said than done.

So what is the point of this? The point is that this practice is fierce, it is medicinal, it is necessary. Every thought we have is a judgement. “It’s cold out,” is a judgement. The person standing beside me might disagree. “That’s awful,” or, “that’s fantastic.” All judgements. “She’s too thin,” or, “he looks so old.” Judgements. Judgements. Judgements. Everything is a projection of our own mind. So, to dwarf the level of our suffering, to reclaim some semblance of control over how we experience the world outside of ourselves (the parts over which we have so very little control), we have but one choice: mental hygiene. A severe and acute commitment to how, what and why we think the way we do. Every. Single. Day.

Are you up for the challenge? I am. Every ounce of my being is deeply committed to the healing, unifying process of dissecting my thoughts and my own inner monologue. So what if someone lives differently than I do. So what if I get judged for the choices I make. So what if no one actually, in reality, even gives a flying fuck how I live my life and why I live it the way I do. All that matters, all that actually truly matters, is what think. The projection choose.

So get on with your bad Self. Do your thing. See if you can challenge yourself to judge less, critique less, compare less. Notice if the healing that begins to occur is actually inside of your very own flesh, cells, mind, Spirit and physical space. Committing to judging, critiquing and comparing less does not heal those we’ve judged, critiqued and compared ourselves to, no no – it heals us. It frees us. So fly your freak flag high. Run, walk; sit, jump; workout, don’t; read, don’t; care, don’t. I say more power to ya.

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Forgiveness: An Act of Radical Self-Care

Forgiveness. Ah, forgiveness, such a slippery slope (or so it seems). Forgiveness; it is one of the universe’s most healing energies, and yet one of the absolute hardest to harness.

How do we forgive those who’ve hurt or wronged us? How do we forgive those who’ve rejected or betrayed us? Those who’ve walked away from us, turned their backs on us, lashed out and scarred our delicate emotional complexion? How do we forgive the batshit crazies who judge us, but then slip into the darkness to study and imitate us? How do we forgive those whom we admire, find to be articulate and interesting, but who don’t reciprocate our attention? How do we forgive those who mercilessly critique us? How do we forgive those who – infuriatingly – just don’t care that we feel the way we feel?

More importantly…how do we get to a space of wanting to forgive all of these people???

Sadly, this piece isn’t a user’s manual to forgiveness (though I would be the first in line to read it, if it were, let me tell you!). This is more a manifesto on why we ought to forgive. The how is up to us, individually, to dirty our hands with and break beneath our grip and then rebuild again. It is ours, respectively, to taste, swish around our mouths, feel with our tongues, spit out and sip again. No one can tell us how to do it, but we can help one another understand why it must be done.

The truth of the matter is forgiveness is a selfish act. While it truly benefits everyone involved, at its core, forgiveness is an act of self-preservation. It is a surrender and release that involves the self and the self alone.

Sometimes forgiveness involves physical reconciliation. We sit down with a person and have a conversation; sometimes our willingness to offer forgiveness is a bridge, a rebuilding of a broken relationship. Sometimes it offers the other human being(s) solace, as well as lifts a weight from our own back.

Other times there is no conversation, no confrontation. Other times the forgiveness is exclusively spiritual reconciliation, one-sided at that. There is no broken relationship to mend, just a footbridge split in two; nothing left to our side but splintered wood, drenched to our knees, no way to cross.

The root of the act, in either circumstance, is really the same. There is no separation. Choosing to look a person in the eyes and forgive them, and choosing to close our eyes and forgive a person, experience, or force of energy that we can’t see or touch is the same. We do this from wherever we sit upon the planet, suspended in the uniquely erected reality of our own lives, and they are the same beast.

But, again, this doesn’t address how we move into a space of release, surrender and of desire to forgive. Sometimes these spaces, illuminated by soft, warm hues, seem beyond our reach. They are often surrounded by mucky moats (the kind with alligators and fairytale monsters), steep ravines, chasms in the earth that threaten to swallow us up if we even allude to a crossing attempt.

Sometimes the situations we seek to forgive utterly shred us at the mere thought. We are human beings, not pillars of stone. We carry with us the scars and battle marks of a life thoroughly lived. Gaping holes of angst and hurt, festering wounds of having loved and lost, the lacerations left by trust betrayed, trauma from the whiplash of whirlwind emotional connection, falling as quickly as it rose.

We are living, our, lives. We are meant to have these hurts, to experience these agonies, to suffer these grievances. We are also, however, meant to learn and heal from them. And no one (I mean no one) can mend these wounds but us.

 

Step one is almost always forgiveness. There’s often a whole other mountain still to climb, but forgiveness is the steadiness our shaky foot needs. Forgiveness is the balm for our burning lesions. Forgiveness is the cloak that will shield us from the night.

I believe we must always, without fail, forgive ourselves before we can truly forgive another. Just like we must know true self-love before we can offer all of ourselves outwardly in love, we must know the depths of forgiveness on a singular level to truly extend it without attachment. What I mean is, we are going to need to forgive those whom we no longer have in our lives. Or whom we no longer choose to have in our lives. We need to cultivate a space from which we can forgive without needing our container to be filled by the gratitude or mutual forgiveness of the other person, experience or force of energy.

The act of forgiveness must be enough, in and of itself, to offer us the release we seek.

 

So there is our answer, for this moment, this fragment of time inside which we are vibrating together. To move into a space of release, surrender and desire to forgive, we must choose love. Love over pain. Love over fear. Love over rage. We must put on our big girl panties and decide, for our own wellbeing, that we want to do this. Like taking our vitamins, getting our exercise, loading our plate with green vegetables. This is an act of self-care, self-preservation and, ultimately, self-love.

We are the only ones who can purge our own sacred fibers of the toxic energies we have let in. We are the only ones who can liberate ourselves from the suffering that harbored animosity creates. Only we can remove a tumor of hostility.

A most beloved quote of the Buddha comes to mind, here. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Linguistic alchemy. Utter truth. May we hear it. May we feel it. May we digest and assimilate it.

May we release. Forgive. Ourselves, others. May we fix ourselves a tonic of peace, and pass on the poison. May we create for ourselves a life that is rooted in love, in truth. Because no one else can do that for us.

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