Truth Through Action

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown

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We are all searching for some tangible sense of contentment, happiness, and truth that helps us to understand the life that we are all collectively living. Of course, there are numerous paradigms that we prescribe to for various reasons, as a means of searching for something greater than ourselves. The question I have, is what stops us from really practising what we believe; really being the energy of what we speak and write. This is why, I only write about subjects that I am experiencing through my own actions; rather than just write about all of the health, philosophical, or holistic concepts that I have spent a considerable amount of time studying. I find tranquility through: simplicity, awareness, and working each day to really practice what I deeply believe within the teachings that I follow on a holistic level. The daily health and holistic advice that I give to others, has come about not only through the years of theoretical training, but also a lifetime of experience and observing how these aspects affect the human body, mind, and spirit.

In my own life, I have been interested in many aspects of spirituality, philosophy, and understanding the human condition. However, one thing that I have always done is to find some level of awareness and observation. I try to be observant of my environment, through watching others and the related dynamics that ensure, including my own actions. Through this process, I have seen time and time again how easy it is to write or speak words of various meanings, yet unless you can fully embody what you believe through these truths; it becomes meaningless to repeat such things to others. Inevitable, it does not matter what or how much you know, if it’s not transfered through your actions, it profoundly lacks any real meaning.

I felt inspired to write on this subject, as I tend to read numerous articles and blogs on health and spirituality. In addition, I tend to spend time with many people who are trying to find meaning in these two areas. I notice time and time again, we as individuals don’t practice what we deeply believe, on a large scale. Yes, there are many people who do make a huge effort and their truth is easily seen through all of their actions. However, I have witnesses people who are spiritual seekers, yet still their actions are not in direct correlation with what they inevitably believe. This phenomena is very prevalent, where most people create their own ideologies around others, allowing them excuses to treat others poorly or wreak havoc on someone else’s life through creative gossip and untruths.

Through such experiences, I find a sense of incredible resolve to focus on developing greater levels of awareness and not inflicting harm into my environment. Inevitable, it is only through our own actions that we should be concerned, even if someone else is at fault or has done the wrong action and you are the one blamed, for your reaction – to their poor action. Still, you must continue to bring the awareness back to your own actions; this is true self empowerment and will make your life much more authentic, transparent, and honest. Thus, bringing a congruence with your thoughts and beliefs, aligning these with all of your actions.

Often, it is through our greatest suffering that we make the greatest effort to change, or through our witness of someone else’s very destructive patterns that have touched our lives. If you witness others behaving in ways that are based on poor judgment; remember that action will ONLY ever harm them.

The real reality is that what we believe is inevitably conveyed through our actions, regardless of what we think or say; if we are not able to convey these into action, then we have a lot of work to do. As many of us know, this can pertain to anything, from negative mental and emotional patterns that we constantly play out in our minds, to cruel and destructive tendencies that we justify to ourselves. The truth is that regardless of who someone is or how they behave, no one deserves to be treated poorly. Moreover, if we find ourselves treating another person poorly because of what someone else has told us through their transfer of hate; we should be very cautious with our actions by taking on someone else’s issue, which may not even be a real phenomena.

In our society, we as a collective love to discriminate against others and demonize them, even if it’s to justify our own self created ideas.

Inevitably, each negative action that has come to slice through my life; I have become much more diligent with my own transformation, focusing on trying very hard not to be this way myself. In addition, we must become more aware of our actions and the consequences that follow. If we have contributed to some harm, due to our actions, the most benevolent role to play is to take accountability and do your best to amend the action. It takes a certain level of self honesty to really find a sense of self awareness. Even though I make an effort to attempt to be more and more aware and be mindful of my own actions, I also make many mistakes. The thing that I am trying to convey is the importance of having this awareness, thus making our lives an expression of who we are and what we believe, seen through the quiet simplicity of our actions.

The most powerful truth is only see through action, this is something we see with the Mahatma’s (great saints) of the world. Their actions are completely in alignment with the universal truth, there is no hypocrisy. All of us can practice some level of truth through repeatedly invoking them within all of our actions. By becoming more observant of our own actions, we can mediate them as we go along to become more harmonious with the universal truth. I find that one of the most motivating factors, as discussed above is to become aware of the actions from others that we have found painful and try very hard not to inflict those onto other people. If we find ourselves in the process of doing this, we always have the chance to retract our steps and make amends. This is my ongoing practice that requires tremendous patience and self forgiveness, to continue practising. Self forgiveness, when our actions are not in harmony with peace and love and inflict harm onto another; to become aware of this and try and correct this action. If we make the effort, it’s really amazing how we can find greater inner peace, love, and harmony in our relationships.

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Into The Stillness

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found.” Pema Chodron

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Like all of us searching for a life of meaning and inspiration, there have been many times in my life where I have found a sense of deep joy; despite there being many factors in my life that would instead, compel a sense of unhappiness. As we all have realized in life, happiness is not dependent on our external circumstance. Of course, there are numerous connections that we experience where we are intrinsically tied to some event or shared experience with another that makes us feel happiness.

However, the truth of the matter is that regardless of our ability to see the external experience as bringing us joy, or if we can feel that the joy was actually already there. The reason that we were able to perceive this sense of happiness, that already existed within us, is that we were able to focus our minds on the present moment to such a degree that we experience a slowing of the mind. Similarly, when we invoke any kind of meditative, spiritual practice, or anything that allows us to use extreme focus, bringing our minds more to the present moment with a concentrated focus. It is during this silencing of the mind that we can tap into the inner joy that exists within all of us and is not dependent on any external stimuli.

I came to realize this experience through spending most of my life doing hatha yoga. This practice has fluctuated in my life, since I started almost thirty years ago, despite the fact that I am only forty years old. Yet, something has remained consistent, the deep inner peace generated. I noticed this when I was very young, through holding each asana for a duration of time, I would experience a deep sense of peace. Now, I don’t hold any posture for long, yet feel plunged into the present moment with each asana, each breath is a mantra and the focus becomes very concentrated. Through this practice, there is a bubbling of such inner joy, its like a warmth that spreads throughout my being, delivering a deep inner peace and contentment.

Most of us who have tried doing yoga maybe have not felt this type of experience. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious is that most of us go to classes, where our attention is very much outwardly directed. The second, is that the focus on proper posture has overtaken the body culture, that yoga has always been in the West. Proper posture is important, yet there are many schools of yoga that focus to such a degree on posture, it actually takes you completely away from the internal experience.

Despite having started doing yoga in the late 80’s, including going to classes in the early 90’s, my first opportunity to properly study Yoga was in India in 1997 when I did my teachers training at the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala South India. Since this time I have continued to study with numerous well known teachers who specialize in various styles. Currently I do a combination of postures that have some Iyengar with a very energetic focus on the breath, using mantras for each inhale and each exhale.

This practice is very physical, yet allows the practitioner to go within to such a degree that your awareness can exist physically and energetically. However, doing any practice is a cumulation of repetitions that generates a specific energetic result. Each posture, like continuously chanting the same mantra, invokes a certain energetic response. Thus, the more one practices doing asana the more power the energetic experience one will have. The most important aspect of any practice is to allow our minds to slow down, where we can experience a deeper sense of inner peace and happiness.

When we can just let go of our self imposed ideas on what ‘mood’ we should assume, based on the day’s events. If we can just allow ourselves a small moment of being in the present moment; all possibilities open up and we realize that we can experience happiness and inner peace, regardless of what preconceived stress and ‘suffering’ we may be enduring.

The human mind is a very unpredictable aspect of our human experience, thus no one is static and perfected in any idealistic way. Thus, through the storm, we can find ways of experiencing peace and joy, even while we are surfing the eye of the hurricane. Inevitable, something inextricably amazing may be waiting right around the corner for us.

It has been my experience in life that if we cling too hard or long to painful experiences, we miss out on the beautiful gifts that are waiting for us to discover them. Thus, the goal of doing any spiritual practice or self improvement, is to move beyond extreme reaction, to have more equanimity, where we can experience suffering, yet allow it to be released; to make space for joy. Through our practices, may we find deep inner peace and joy.

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The Search For Truth

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” Thich Nhat Hanh

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In the ebb and flow of life, have you ever dreamed an amazing dream of creating a beautiful opportunity for yourself through traveling or spending precious time in some undeniably magical destination. In my life, as of the last few years I have strongly felt a deep draw to return to India, to submerge myself into the vibration of spiritual practice towards inner transformation. Several years ago my husband and I planned such a trip, we figured everything out and even asked Amma if we could come to India. She said, “come when you can”, thus as a few years went by this dream seemed to fade into something else. Lost, my one true dream of true longing and yearning; faded into the mirage of the life I was struggling through.

Like all of the most beautiful and lovely things in life, they often come when we completely let go and create a space large enough for their manifestation. Hence, I had planned a trip to New York to visit a friend, during the exact time Amma would be there and possibly a trip to Boston to join Amma for the retreat. Although, I kept getting such an intense feeling that was not a beneficial trip for me, in anyway. In the midst of this confusion, over whether to cancel this trip or not, during my morning sadhana I suddenly had an extremely intense feeling to go to India. The feeling was like a small flame being discovered, once my awareness went to it, it became like a huge inferno of flame, consuming me. As soon as my husband came home, before I had a chance to mention this intense urge to him, he told me that he was done with his current job and was going to quit. He was very calm and collected, through his own epiphany that day, realizing that one aspect of his life was done and he needed to create space for the next chapter to begin.

I mentioned the trip to India and we just plunged into the depth of going for it, as I booked our tickets the next day, we were completely committed. Like diving into the depth of an endless ocean, knowing that there was so much to organize before leaving in only two months! However, the exact feeling I had about going to India that auspicious morning was one of a physical sensation of just falling into an abyss of surrender, of completely letting go of everything and just going to India. In the experience of this sublime feeling, I also had images flash instantly before my eyes of everything that needed to take place before we left, yet I strongly felt that everything would be taken care of easily. The feeling was as crystalline clear, in that moment I remembered my longing to go to India, revived and renewed, a reality at last. 

On September 5, 2013 we will go to India to spend 6 months at Amritapuri, Amma’s South Indian ashram. We also plan on taking small trips around South India to some of the lovely beaches located between Kerala and Goa. It has been 14 years since my last trip to India, the feeling is like going home, more than to just visit. It will be my fifth trip to India in my life and one that I feel will be the most profound and transformational. 

The lesson that I seem to be learning in life, is that when you let go of all of the plans, instead surrendering to the essence of where we are suppose to be, rather than were we want to be; magical experiences suddenly manifest, allowing us to experience what our heart truly craves. In my case, to spend such a long duration in the fire of daily sadhana, is what I seek the most in this life, even if I have forgotten this numerous times throughout my life; I remember it now. 

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Through The Heart of Compassion

“Real love exists in the heart. The love that exists in the Heart cannot be spoken; it cannot be put in words. The heart is not the place for words. Words are in the intellect. The intellect can speak, but it is nothing more than a tape recorder. It records and spits out words and words and words – words that don’t have any feeling in them. The intellect cannot feel compassion; it cannot feel love or kindness.” Amma

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As most of us are inundated with an increasingly individualistic and materialistic culture, the concept of compassion seems like a catchy theoretical term. However, the actual practice and application of embodying true compassion is a rare phenomena; one that comes as a result of the lessons learned through ones own suffering and of becoming more conscious of ourselves and the world at large. A very famous Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, focuses on love, forgiveness, and embodying true compassion.

“The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other.  We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering.  Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering.  We must become one with the subject of our observation.  When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”” Thich Nhat Hanh

Through most spiritual traditions, the concept and practice of compassion is highly regarded as one of the most important aspect on the search for Truth. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has spent his lifetime teaching and practicing this very same spiritual tradition, of embodying compassion. Even though Tibetan Buddhism may look very different from the theoretical and practical applications of other spiritual paths; in essence, compassion is the central theme of all spirituality.

“We can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion….This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith. In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma. Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple. The doctrine is compassion. Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy.” Dalai Lama X1V

To truly reach out with empathy and unconditional love towards another, is a very rare phenomena, yet even if we can find that place within ourselves momentarily and share this deep sense of selflessness, the world will eventually start to evolve. Even more precious is to have the opportunity to spend time with a true Mahatma or spiritual Master, who embodies the essence of true humility, selflessness, compassion, and infinite grace for everyone who comes for their darshan. My spiritual teacher or Guru is one of these very rare exceptions in this world. Sri MataAmritananda Mayi Devi, known as Amma has been embodying such teachings for over 30 years, through sharing Her emanation with people from all over the world. Through being in her presence I have been able to witness what true compassion really is.

“Sadhana shouldn’t be done for one’s own liberation, but for the sake of becoming loving, compassionate, and understanding enough to remove the suffering of the world. We have to become so large-hearted that we experience the suffering of others as our own, and work to alleviate their suffering.” Amma

Thus, when creator and creation are one and the same, you will find Mahatmas like Amma spending every moment of Her physical presence uplifting the suffering of humanity in some way or another. Her organization, Embracing The World has been recognized by the U.N and WHO, as the biggest humanitarian organization in the world. She was also invited to be a member of South East Asia at the U.N conference in China in the fall of 2012. Hence, Amma is a true humanitarian, offering the pure essence of compassion to everyone, no matter who they may be. Its a deeply profound teaching to assimilate and attempt to practice. Hence, through the teaching of selflessness and attempting to be more kind and compassionate there are moments of embodying this teaching. However, there are far more experiences of being the exact opposite of compassionate; caught in judgement, criticism, and separation.

It shows me the true essence of compassion and how precious and rare the embodiment of this energy really is. It also reveals the delicate balance of allowing the fruits of our spiritual practice or positive actions to flow out of us, as grace to be more compassionate and kind towards all other beings. In such acts, I honestly feel that such true compassion, even if just experienced for a small moment, is the grace of the divine, rather than from our own sense of ego. In essence, all of our acts are mostly steeped in selfishness, due to our association with our egoic mind. However, we can always keep striving to be kinder, more compassionate, and more selfless to others. It has been my experience, that even when we are unkind, fight with others or get drawn into disagreements, and act in selfish ways; we can always learn from such mistakes and redirect our thoughts, words, and actions to show more kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. 

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The Disillusioned

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” Rumi

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The romantic notion of transformation is so prevalent in the current homogenous cultural context, as a joyous and exuberantly positive mystical experience. However, the reality and truth of this process resembles the opposite, appearing more reminiscent of some type of suffering; painfully letting go of our outdated notions of who we have been and a feeling of extreme disillusionment and dispassion with the nature of our surrounding reality.

Historically, throughout the world, within  indigenous cultures there have been numerous rituals of passage into various spheres of life. These rites of passage had many functions, yet the main purpose was to shed the previous ‘self’, which is necessary to embody a deeper sense of empowerment and shift positionally within the cultural framework appropriate to the individual. Since, we no longer have such rituals or acknowledgment of personal transformation into a more wise, empowered, and mature version of ourselves, we are on our own in terms of going through the liminality of transformation.

It has been my personal experience of going through a liminal period of deep and painful transformation that the process began when I came to the end of a cycle that I had been going for a long time of  continuous education and working at a job that did not utilize my skills or creativity. All of the education was necessary, yet I was not on the path that I needed to be on in life. Therefore, as transformation occurs numerous things radically changed in my life without me having to do anything. Everything that did not support my growth suddenly fell away, creating a large space for me to begin the work that I am now doing. However, through the duration of this process, I felt severely disillusioned, to such a degree that the only word that comes to my mind is severe ‘dispassion’. 

Throughout my life I have been an optimist, so when I say that I have reached this point of perception, there is a massive transitional movement occurring within my inner world. I am painfully letting go of the person I used to be, with all the ideals, dreams, fear, uncertainty, sensitivity, and vulnerabilities that were so wide open and unprotected.

I realize I am much stronger than I can even fathom, even though I  have felt this energy throughout my life, now I know it’s there for me to use whenever I need it. I am coming into my sense of deeper self empowerment and self understanding of who I am at a much deeper level; than the person I used to be who lived mostly on the outside of my ‘being’, rather than deep inside.

One of the main characteristics of undergoing deep transformation, is an extreme difficulty that acts as a catalyst. Its when your entire life starts falling apart, everything starts to change, things and people are pulled away. Through such a disconcerting experience, our inner feeling of ‘self’ begins to dramatically changed. In my experience, even thought this process can be very disorienting to our sense of security with who we have associated ourselves to be, thus often leaving us feeling less than we used to be in some ways. However, the end result most often leaves us feeling so much deeper, wiser, and richer in so many other ways. I personally feel much stronger to be who I am fully and completely. 

For me, this transformation was necessary for me to fully embody who I really am in this life, to allow myself to emanate as myself, and to feel fully self empowered in my unique and reflexive approach to life. I feel committed to this journey where I can fully embrace who I am, I can fully live my life to the greatest potential that I have wanted to pursue for the entirety of my life. I am allowed to be me, the person that I am right now, without any compromise, without any excuses, without any explanation. 

To feel this extreme emancipation of freedom to be the person you really are and live it with ease and joy, there is no greater power, expansiveness, or liberation that I have thus far felt in my life, that can even come close. Its a very small form of awakening, to be who you are in this one moment, to be free to exist as this very person with all the glaring beauty of life. To have the grace to be free enough to contribute to the world in the way that I wish to contribute, is also a great gift.

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The Biographical Intuition of Being

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. We will not solve the problems of the world from the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. More than anything else, this new century demands new thinking: We must change our materially based analyses of the world around us to include broader, more multidimensional perspectives.” Albert Einstein 

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I am working within the lexicon of blending a lifetime of holistic health knowledge with an intuitive capability. This may sound esoteric and interesting for many people who aspire to perhaps work in a more alternative or holistic way. However, for me I actually tried my very best to escape falling into the ‘intuitive’ categorization. I am sure it did not help having a father who was an academic, in addition to his lack of support in relation to my innate interest of all things holistic and spiritual. Although, despite this fact I still pursued all of my interests with full force and integrity; to fully embody what is most ubiquitousness to who I am today.

 Its one thing to be a holistic health practitioner, like the majority, who focus almost exclusively on the physical body. However, to find yourself implementing an intuitive approach in combination, brings your practice to a whole new level of inquiry, suspicion, and classification. The reality is that there was never a time that I was not intuitive, it has been a reality throughout my entire life, yet it was also something that I shared with very few people outside of my close friends. In addition, my two sisters are also intuitive, with my younger sister being psychic when she was younger. Today, both of my sisters are educated, successful, and homogenized within the frame work of societies ‘norms’, despite their innate intuitive capacity.

 Within the paradigm of ‘holistic’ health modalities, the actual reality is a sterile theoretical system of medicine based on Cartesian dualism, which has infiltrated all systems of holistic medicine that we see being practiced today. Therefore, the physical body is the main point of focus, even those offering a ‘holistic’ approach are almost exclusively working at a physical level. Thus, there has been a segregation between the energetic, emotional, mental, and the physical. Even more interesting is that throughout history, almost all traditional healers spanning numerous cultural ambiances; all utilized some form of intuition, working in a holistic manner, in combination with the theory of their medical medium. In addition, in my training of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I learned very clearly that there were three distinct roots to illness; physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual. Therefore, to be a competent practitioner one must be able to discern which level needs to be addressed, to implement a sense of holistic equilibrium within the patient.

 In my own life, it has taken a long time to overcome the ambivalence around representing myself in a transparent manner, of allowing others to see the strength of my theoretical expertise working in tandem with my intuition. The sense of stigma came from having intellectual parents that encouraged us to be critical thinkers.  In my youth, I had the fortune of living overseas in several countries for six years. During this time, I was able to meet many inspirational, open, and spiritual people who allowed me to trust the spiritual proclivities I had experienced throughout my lifetime. During this time I was very fortunate to study energy medicine,  Yoga (which I started doing as a young girl), and other holistic modalities. This was the first time in my life I could actually be the person I felt myself to be, surrounded by others who knew that this was a reality and accepted. In this time, I went to India each year, four times to study Yoga at the Sivananda Ashram and spent time in North India where I got to meet the Dalai Lama twice, on two separate occasions.

 In essence, in my early 20’s I was living my life as my own authentic self, which would later come crashing down due to chronic health issues from traveling in South East Asia, when I later returned to Canada in 1998 and began a decade of studying numerous ‘proven’ health modalities. This included going back to university as a mature student to get my degree, which I finished in four years with high enough marks and references to do an MA, if I chose that path. After dealing with a chronic health condition I felt disillusioned with who I was as a person, therefore my goal was to become an academic like my father.

 However, during the time I went to University I was still doing a lot of spiritual practice.  When meditating one day, I had a very profound and clear image of myself being able to take someone’s pulse and access information. Of course, at that time I let that profound premonition dissipate and it was not until several years later that suddenly, I remembered. I decided to give it a try, only to find that I was able to access a tremendous amount of information intuitively; all accurate and in-depth.

 For several years I practiced on all of my friends, discovering that the accuracy and profound nature of this work was something so undeniable that I started doing it professionally; something I would have never imagined myself doing as a career. However, after the stigma of being categorize in the psychic realm I decided that merely offering intuitive readings was not the best use of my innate and learned skills. Thus, now I am amalgamating all the knowledge, both theoretical and experiential that I have thus far gained in life, in conjunction with intuition to assist others towards greater health, self empowerment, emotional support, and to assist others in a deeper understanding of crisis or challenging situations.

 It has taken me many years to surrender more and more to the power of what innately fuels me and accept that my life path is a combination of a theoretical holistic approach, paired with a powerful intuition capability. Thus, it has taken me a long time to fully embrace my deepest potential in life and allow myself to practice Holistic Integrative Therapy, which has benefited many friends and clients over the last few years. 

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The Spiritual Path of Simplicity

“Sadhana shouldn’t be done for one’s own liberation, but for the sake of becoming loving, compassionate, and understanding enough to remove the suffering of the world. We have to become so large-hearted that we experience the suffering of others as our own, and work to alleviate their suffering.” Amma

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For all of us, life must feel tangible and real regardless of which philosophical paradigm of thought we choose to view the larger panorama of life. We all have in common our collective shared human experience of being confronted with the ubiquitousness of negotiating between the banal and the profound, which are intertwined and imbedded within all of our experiences of being alive. Whether or not we are spiritual aspirants, we all seek a life with more peace, happiness, and fulfillment. The only difference is that a spiritual seeker is choosing to embody a truer sense of consciousness within themselves at an experiential level, often through some form of theoretical teaching and practice that is taught by a spiritual teacher.

Theoretically, the goal of the spiritual path is a process of aligning our inner selves with a greater sense of self awareness to fully comprehend the truth, through the inner purification that strips us of our self importance (ego) leading to our true sense of Self. This inevitably invokes a greater sense of inner simplicity, compassion, and humility which allows us to perceive the whole of existence as interconnected, being one unified whole.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time in spiritual environments and with spiritual seekers of all kinds. I came to strongly realize that if we are serious about evolving in this way, one needs a teacher who embodies this truth. If we do not have a teacher to help dismantle our ego of self importance, then we will not progress very far. It took me a long time to become fully aware of my own sense self importance, as it was not until after I found my spiritual teacher that I realized that feeling like I was so ‘spiritual’ was not conducive to true inner growth. Spirituality is really about letting go of our sense of; self importance, being special, spiritual pride, being self righteous, and competitive with others as to who is more spiritual.  

I too have been one of these people, who would engage in endless philosophical discussion on spiritual theory. In addition, I had a very strong sense of spiritual pride after being on this path throughout my life. In addition to having had numerous phenomenal experiences, starting when I was a young child. However, as the last decade of my life has unfolded in a seamless flow of challenging lessons. All of these experiences became a catalyst for very deep inner reflection, dramatically altering my previous perception of myself. Another huge lesson for me was through interacting with several ‘spiritual’ people who played the mini-guru to others, all the while their personal lives were steeped in controversy and hypocrisy.

I am far from being enlightened, yet throughout my life I have always been highly opposed to all forms of hypocrisy. I am well aware that all of us share our own measure of ambiguity and few of us live completely free from hypocrisy. These seemingly negative experiences made me hyper aware that if we are going to represent something, its wise to practice what we are advocating through our positive actions. I am following a spiritual path of inner purification towards developing a greater sense of empathy and compassion towards others. I am not indicating by any means that I am a fully humble or compassionate person, in contrary I have the same imperfections as everyone else.

I feel that the further we wander on this path the process of purification is supposed to bring us into a deeper sense of humility, simplicity, and compassion where we at least can try to be kind to ourselves and others, through practicing compassion, which is the essence of spirituality. When we embody a sense of compassion for all other living beings, there is a greater sense of awareness towards our actions and their consequences. Even though, the truth of the matter is that we are all beginners, stumbling along the spiritual path. The more we simplify ourselves and the less we feel that we truly know, the farther we can travel and truly learn. 

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The Ambiguity of Identity

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

saraswati

Throughout my life the concept of identity has always been a very abstract, malleable, and highly thought provoking topic. This phenomena recently became more of an experiential reality, as opposed to just an object of contemplation in the simple act of beginning to use my spiritual name, rather than my birth name. This process became an interesting experience which allowed me to learn a tremendous amount about what identity means to me within the process of embodying my own perception of ‘self’, in the transition of switching my name. Through this experience the question arose around what constitutes one’s ‘true identity’, within the context of ones main identifying agent, which is our first name.

As I began attempting to understand the concept of what ‘identity’ really means in relation to using a different name. I happen to come across several comments made by others in their reclamation of ‘self’ by attempting to cut away the outer layers of ambiguity around their identity, by going back to their original birth names and family identities, as their true identity. From my own personal experience, the truth of the matter is that our familial ascribed identity given to us at birth lacks reliable reference to our current sense of ‘self’. As we navigate and experience life through our own experiential reality via gaining certain knowledge and expertise, we are confronted with a far more precise and real sense of our own authentic identity; the person we have become and are currently embodying. 

The process of life allows us to reconstitute, contextualize, and negotiate our own sense of ‘self’ and how we truly perceive ourselves to be, rather than how others may view us externally. I have personally experienced the ebb and flow of life’s movement through the various experiences that shape and mold us into more complex versions of our selves. Our sense of self is a malleable and highly adaptable entity that must be able to grow and change as our life moves forward. In essence, as our external world is unpredictable, changing, and flowing within its own patterns; so is our inner world as it is constantly encountering and interacting with the external reality. In many ways, through doing a daily spiritual practice we learn to harness greater awareness towards this subtle process of how our sense of ‘self’ is shaped by the outer world and how our inner ‘Self’ is really a point of stillness, truth and true identity. However, since very few of us are enlightened or even close to being enlightened we are left to maintain the constant work of negotiating our sense of identity, as we feel ourselves constantly changing beyond our own understanding or ability to control the process.

The choice I made to use my spiritual name was a very effortless one, for I had lived my entire life using a name given to me by my parents. Yet, when I received my spiritual name it became more of a real identity for me than my previous name. Perhaps, the experience of this realization and epiphany is not fully captured by words, yet it was a profound certainty that I felt a very strong association with my new name, as opposed to my birth name which I actually felt never suited who I understood myself to be as a person.

In my perception of life, there is a greater potential for free-will than we may perceive, this includes how we choose to perceive ourselves as individuals. Thus, if we are open to the infinite lessons that inevitably come through living life; then we shall reap the rewards of inner growth and the inevitable transformation that comes along with such experiential knowledge. The decision to use my spiritual name made me realize that I was allowed to be who I have always felt myself to be as an individual. I felt transformed into being a sense of ‘self’ that was much deeper than the exterior ‘me’.

This entire process brought with it the realization that by having the conscious awareness to realize that we do not live in a purely deterministic world where the ascribed identity given to us by our families is our only option for identifying who we are. Perhaps, our families can lead us backward into the historic trajectory of our family history, however in this lifetime its best to live your own authentic life as your own genuine sense of ‘self’. 

© All Rights Reserved 2013


The Abject Poverty of Toxic Emotions

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent on throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” Buddha

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I am sure I am not the only person who has experienced a sense of carrying and living out toxic emotions. I am using the word “toxic” specifically to conjure up a sense of understanding that we all have a vast array of emotions that plague the majority of us, yet when we find we are inundated with a sense of extreme frustration, anger, jealousy, fear, or hatred; the emotion then becomes toxic. Thus, when we are feeling a negative emotion at an intense level that is causing a sense of agitation, its toxic and is not benefiting us or anyone around us.

There are numerous theories, psychological, medical, spiritual paradigms of how to manage one’s emotions that are effective so some degree. I find that the lexicon of psychology and medical intervention may be more applicable to those suffering from an extremely unwell senses of distortion, that may benefit from medication or psychological counseling. However, for the rest of us who are just trying to live our lives through navigating the most enjoyable, less stressful, and least suffering path in life; to feel extreme emotions can be a very distressing experience. Obviously, even to the best of our ability, life is unpredictable and numerous things can have adverse effects on our emotions, causing us to explode in an array of emotional expressions that are considered toxic; from the perception of attempting to live a holistic life of balance.

It has been my experience that emotional reactions almost always are caused from an external catalyst that triggers a certain reaction within us, that may not be within our conscious control. In my life, anger has been the main emotion that has come to rest with me on numerous occasions in life, not just in the form of pure anger, but also in the form of frustration and indignation. I now fully understand something that I did not many years ago; first of all, toxic emotions only harm us more than anyone else; second, our outburst of emotions or even acts of revenge will have a negative effect on others; thirdly, we have the power to change our emotional patters if we want to badly enough. I mention this last fact as it may have taken me until this point in my life to fully understand the fact that we can all change our negative emotional patters if we REALLY want to and make a tremendous effort to mitigate and have an awareness of our reactions and the harm that is inflicted when we allow ourselves to react. Of course, even against our best effort there will be moments were we lose it in some way or another, yet this allows us the opportunity to go deeper into what is still triggering this emotional response, rather than feel bad about ourselves.

What can we do to start the process of reducing our emotional toxicity is to first be acutely aware of whatever emotional reaction we are experience, to view it as it is, without any self judgement or criticism towards ourselves. The second most important point is that we must take full responsibility for our reaction, its only our fault, regardless of any external provocation, we are the ones freaking out! We MUST be able to take full self responsibility for all of our actions and emotional reactions and STOP blaming anyone or thing that exist externally, it really has NOTHING to do with them or the situation, it has everything to do with us. We all react differently to people and situations, yet a self empowered person will experience anger due to some situation and realize it comes from their own reaction, not the external trigger. On the other hand, someone who is less self empowered will never take self responsibility, instead they will blame all their toxic emotional reactions on everyone and everything that they can possible find to blame.

Who am I to comment on controlling one’s toxic emotions and do I have any credibility in this area of experiential knowledge. The answer is ‘yes’, I have had a temper that I have carried for the majority of my life, often it would lay sleeping and since I have always had extreme control over my emotions, few saw this most poisonous snake. When I would lose my temper, I would not waste my time with petty insults, instead I have always been highly perceptive to peoples strengths and weaknesses, instead I would verbally strike with lightening speed deep into that persons weakness, stripping them of everything. For, there is no need to insult others when the barren truth is much more severe and painful than mental manipulation, games, or insults. I am not proud of the harshness I can exhibit, in contrary I have experienced how much suffering that cruelty affected the other person, yet more so how deeply it cut into me. I may have a potentially ferocious temper, yet underneath there is a much more vast and deep kindness that prefers to love and nourish others, rather than try to destroy them. 

In every instance of reaction, I was acutely aware of how toxic this level of reaction was and I started making tremendous effort to reduce this energy. I have been doing certain spiritual practices most of my life, which has made a tremendous difference in allowing me to have much more awareness and control over my own emotional reactions. In addition if you can surrender the negative issues up to a greater reality of being, this makes a huge difference and allows a much lighter journey through life. At this moment in time I must say that I do still feel frustration and anger, yet it is far less intense and I am highly aware of what is going on when it comes to the surface. The real value of strong emotions is to find the trigger beneath the surface, for when you are more aware of why you are triggered, then you are less likely to be so next time. In essence, I choose to make a huge effort to find more joy and peace in my life, regardless of what challenges or challenging people cross my path. Thus, an affirmation of attempting to live a more conscious life can yield much fruit if you are really willing to make the effort and necessary work to change the things that are causing you and perhaps others pain.

© All Rights Reserved 2013

The Enigma of Potential

“One’s Personal Legend is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend.
Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth”. Paulo Coelho 

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 Each one of us contains an infinite source of innate potential, even though it may seem contradictory to perceive someone and how they may appear, verses their true potential that will eventually manifest in their lifetime. Similarly, a lotus pond prior to the blossoming of lotus flowers, often appears as murky water with the leaves of the lotus plants appearing to float on the surface of the water. Yet, in due time the most exquisitely beautiful lotus flowers break through the dirty water as buds, which slowly begin to open in majestic spender, spreading their infinite beauty, fragrance, and spiritual vibration. 

 The once murky looking pond is transformed into a spectacular display of natures finest beauty, the fully blossomed lotus flowers transcend the pond with their captivating beauty. In essence, this is the metaphor for the lives we are all living as we struggle to embody a deeper sense of meaning and connection not only to who we are, but how our sense of self transfers into the larger world. Often we have a very clear idea of what we would like to create and bring forth into our lives, even if the means are not apparent. Some of the most innovative people of our time have been alone, unsupported, and struggling to make others understand what they were trying to create and bring forth into the world.

There are also numerous stories of highly successful people, who in the beginning, prior to gaining ‘success’ were struggling, living in poverty, and facing extremely challenging situations that they could not fathom a way out of. However, each of their ideas transcended the challenges that they faced; like writing a book, such as the author of Harry Potter who tried thirteen times to get her first book published and was living in poverty; to be a journalist, such as Oprah, who we all know her life story; or Vandana Shiva, who advocates for seed freedom and biodiversity of food sustainability through challenging the hegemony of corporations like Monsanto for the past 25 years, despite her academic education as a PhD in Quantum Physics. What all of these people have in common is a driving goal that they most likely have felt throughout a large portion of their lives.

Each of these people felt such a strong conviction to manifest their ideas into a reality, even though many of those dreams took most of their lives to unfold and accomplish. I am not by any means equating myself or anyone else with the latter group of individuals, I am only suggesting that we all have a tremendous untapped potential that is far greater than we can ever conceive and we are all here to create something that is innovative, even if that only affects our own life. We all live in a society that homogenizes people into very specific and socially acceptable categories of how you are allowed to be as a person in regards to how you act, present yourself, and live your life. If you step out beyond those ascribed norms into a paradigm that is not mainstream, you had better have a lot of inner strength to stay grounded, as difference triggers immense fear in others.

I was born into a highly unconventional family, raised in a highly unconventional and highly creative fashion that allowed my siblings and I to have immense freedom of a physical nature (to wander through the wilderness), intellectually, creatively, and to create games and play that were highly innovative and unique to ‘normally’ raised children. The byproduct of such a childhood for me was that I was allowed to be difference, even if others did not fully accept me, it was my birth right to do what I wanted to do in life and no one was going to deter me from living the life I wanted to live. In this way, I realized early on that we all have potential to be who we want to be, to embody certain paradigms of thought that created a sense of self, even though for me I was living my life as an authentic version of who I saw myself to be as a person. I was never overly concerned with success or monetary gain. I have always been far more interested in living my own authentic version of inner reflexivity, as breathing life through the lifestyle that consumes me and is an ubiquitous part of myself; the holistic and spiritual way of living that has become my entire life.

However, it has taken a tremendous amount of time, education, work, and numerous challenges in life for me to fully realize exactly what aspect of my potential to galvanize into my current practice and allow these to unfold.

Moreover, one thing that we all must know is that there are certain times for everything in our lives to manifest, for there are numerous lessons both challenging and rewarding, which can be one and the same. Often challenging circumstances teach us about ourselves in the most honest manner and we can learn where our strengths and weaknesses lie within ourselves, which is very powerful to know. All of our actions are like seeds in life that we plant, all consequences we must face sooner or late, yet there are also certain seeds that we intentionally plant in the soil of our life. Our inner potential is like the seeds that we plant; some of those seeds sprout and thrive to be healthy, others sprout yet are destroyed at a young stage, others do not sprout at all, and others are like massive trees that take most of your life to germinate and slowly start to grow. The small tree takes decades before it even looks like a tree, then it takes several more decades to be a strong, firmly, and deeply rooted tree that can withstand the torrential storms of life through all the seasons of life.

In many ways, its my feeling that all of us have some deeper innate sense of what we are doing here and what we are innately drawn to that we find fascinating. I find that when you are here to do something, that energy will guide you in life, rather than you being the one who is in control. Instead, you are being guided through some deeper innate knowledge that starts to manifest all around you through every possible avenue. I have experienced this many times in my life, as all of us are here to contribute to the world through some unique and beautifully authentic expression by allowing ourselves to fully embody our highest potential in life, as the innate nature of our self and the life we are choosing to live. We too must allow life to germinate our inner potential, as the lotus will inevitably blossom and share its immanent radiance, so must we brave the many challenges before we too blossom into our higher potential of being.

© All Rights Reserved 2013