Teacher/Student, Suffering/Acceptance.

photo-13

 

There has been deep wisdom that I have opened to most recently in my life. Learning that I would no doubt encounter at some point, but the Now is the best time to be learning it. And even though some of the lessons that I am now learning, are in the same form as in the past, the learning is completely transformed at this time. I am finally ready. 

 

The areas that I have been learning in the most are around being a teacher, and a student; and around suffering, and surrender. No matter who you are or what your life circumstances are, I believe that all of these areas are Universal lessons for all humans. For the earliest years of my life, I was formally and informally a student. Before I was conscious of learning, when I was a baby and small child, a slow, deliberate process of domestication brought teaching to me, and although I was initially passive in the learning, I retained all that I was given. As I got older, and was able to be aware of the learning more acutely, I would receive lessons that were part of formal schooling, and seek out additional topics and learning opportunities that were more interesting to me. I have always enjoyed being a formal learner, and would joke that my career would be to go to college forever. College was the breeding ground for special learning it seemed, because I got to choose what courses to take and what interested me. It was a marketplace of choices and topics.

But, around that time, interesting shifts in me began to occur. I began to see myself as full of knowledge, and stopped having the desire to learn, and just wanting to teach. When I got my undergraduate degree, I wanted to start working because I believed I knew all that I needed to in order to be a great social worker. I wanted to teach others all that I had learned, so that I could get on with saving the world. And, I put my formal learning on hold, thinking there was not much left to learn about how to help others. 

Eventually, I did resume some formal learning, and saw how much more there was to know in the world. I started seeking spiritual teachers then as well, and was eager to gain as much knowledge as I could, emulating my instructors and thinking that was the way to believe and think. And, then again, wanting to become a teacher in the world, believing I had the best of information that others needed. With that, I would also stop being willing to learn, thinking, this has to be IT, everything that I need to know. 

My other big area of lessons has been in the realm of suffering, and what that means, in terms of my human experiences, and what stories that I tell about it. I used to believe that suffering and difficult experiences were all part of the human condition, that we all have bad things happen in our lives. And, terms of fact and structure, I still hold that to be true. Bad things happen. Yet, the degree to which we suffer over the circumstances and events that happen is directly related to how much we accept life as it is, or don’t. I would often blame the outside world, or my girlfriend, or God, or traffic or other fellow humans for my degree of suffering: it is all their fault. And, if I had a bad experience, and didn’t feel sad or distressed about it, I thought there was something wrong with me; to suffer over my circumstances seemed like a way to pay homage to it. To honor it. 

My current belief is that even a person or circumstance is what leads me into sad, angry, or distressing feelings, I still have the power to choose; to choose what type of story I want to tell myself about it. I also ALWAYS have the power to choose to remember that the present moment, right Now, is all that there ever is. This moment. And, when I am able to be in this present moment, and to accept whatever comes in it, as just being what it Is, the suffering is less. Surrender brings great freedom and deep relief. Choosing surrender and experiencing peace honors the events of our lives in a deeper way, because it means we are in deep acceptance of the fleeting, ephemeral nature of all things. 

These two pairs of experiences and beliefs are actual paradoxes of one another, but ones that are required for the other to occur. That is the part of wisdom that had been lost on me for the first 50 odd years of my physical existence. In order for me to learn how to surrender, there has to be the experience of suffering. And, for me to be able to teach others, I have to always be willing to learn. One does not exist without the other. And yet, even though I resist, I get scared, I don’t want it to be true, I know that it is the only way that I will learn that which are the deepest truths of my life. 

This moment is all there is; and I want to experience it as deeply as possible with no promise of what may come next. 

 

img_7621

Advertisements

Unconditional Love.

11393333_10153931728253136_2501382908120928316_o

I have been a fraud most of my life, and the first time that I admitted that a few years ago, I was so scared to put the words to the page. Terrified to let others know the truth about who I was underneath, after having such a shiny veneer surface in the world for so many years. It is only in the last few months, literally, that I have pulled back the veil and really gotten to the nuts and bolts of who I really Am.

 

Does this sound confusing? Believe me, it has felt like a cyclone of thoughts and feelings for me, over my lifetime and more specifically, in the last couple of months. I have come to terms, rather, come to some realizations about the real Truths that make me, me. And, the result is feeling more free, peaceful and loving than I have, ever in my entire life.
Does this sound impossible? Dramatic? It has felt like the ride of my life, yet where I was meant to come to within myself all along. Let me tell you more. When I say, I have been a fraud, what I mean is that I have had a beautiful, cheery exterior. On the outside of my soul vessel, I would project an image of happiness, self confidence, intelligence and light. And, most of the time, I felt some or all of those things. However, I felt those positive things about myself, by whatever was reflected back to me. So, if someone was interested in what I had to say, and thought that I was smart, then I would radiate that. If a person was attracted to or interested in dating me, I radiated that outwardly. If I lost fifty pounds and liked what I saw in the mirror, then I beamed.  I took the outside world as evidence of the truth that I should be or display.

 

The other edge of the sword however, was that when the outside stimuli that I would take in was what I perceived as negative, or not encouraging toward me, I would deem myself as unworthy; bad; fat; ugly; dumb. I took the perceived words and truths from others to be my truth. So that was the first of many of my problems: that I believed whatever the outside world told me that I was or should be, and saw that as the real truth not only about who I was, but who I had to project myself as. 

 

However, the biggest way in which I was fraudulent, was that I pretended, not only to the outside world, but to myself, that I was never resentful. Angry. Disappointed. Judgmental. Petty. If I admitted that I had those aspects that lived in me, then what kind of human was I? And, when I did admit them out loud, I would immediately attack myself internally, because I believed that made me a bad person. Frankly, an asshole. And I had spent a lifetime trying to believe that I wasn’t an asshole, but never quite got there. I started being more transparent about this a few years ago, with others and with myself, but didn’t really have the lessons sink in until quite recently. I still didn’t see my true essence.

 

At the beginning of this year, however, something seemed to shift in me. It wasn’t because it was a new year, and I wanted to start with a clean slate; I don’t wait for a new year, start of the week or something else to begin getting happy. Something about it just felt like a time for shifting. So, slowly and surely, over the last three months, my conversations have been more genuine, I have talked about my own vulnerability and perceived ugliness more openly and consistently, and began tuning in more to what would really feel good to do for myself. I see my sameness with everyone else that I encounter. I started meditating, just a few minutes each morning. I went to Reiki, for the first time in my life, and was tuning in more deeply than I ever had before. 

 

And, slowly and deeply, I began to shift. The shift feels subtle at the same time that it feels like an earthquake. I have awakened my chakras within me, and I can see my own light bursting forth. And, even though my light has shone in the world for many years now, I never saw it. Not as the pure love, peace and adoration that it is. I see my own Light. I see it clearly and I am not afraid of it anymore. My heart is more open than it has ever been. And, I understand, not just as a saying, but as a practice, that it has to and can only begin with me. 

 

My essential nature is Pure Love. Yours is, too. 

 

img_7763

Expansion.

28616768_10157202011938136_3877678082509095528_o

Recently, I have been realizing more and more how at ease I have become with myself. Lighter and more present and genuine, in more areas of my life at the same time. For me, this is a startling realization, because it is not where I have been at for most, if not all of my life up to this point. 

 

For most of my life, I have seen myself as a victim. If someone expressed an opinion to me that I interpreted as negative or as a judgment, even in my own defense to the contrary, I would always take it in as the truth. In addition, I would get to attack them as the person who attacked me.  A tricky cycle, yet somewhere along the line I learned it carefully and never chose anything different for myself. The accumulating effects of this were self doubt, self loathing, feeling like a victim in all circumstances, and building of resentment and judgment. I did not know I could choose differently.

 

Then, beginning a few years ago, well into my adulthood, I started reading more books, studying more theories and concepts, and seeing that there could be another choice for me. I believed that it could be true to not see myself as helpless, not as a victim, but as powerful in my life. Yet I still didn’t choose it for myself; I was still enticed by feeling like a victim, a freak, like no one saw the goodness that I could bring to the world. And, that it was other people’s fault.

 

When, I first started offering hugs, I was just standing on a street corner. With my arms opened up wide. On the outside, I was seeming to show that hugs were available if someone wanted or needed one; that I didn’t care whether or not they would give me a hug. But, on the inside, I was placing the value of what I was offering on whether or not people stopped for a hug, or even looked my way for that matter. Even though I believed in what I was doing, I also felt weird, strange and odd for what I was offering. I wasn’t at ease yet with just being me, and having that be enough. 

 

Yesterday, I spent nearly three hours offering hugs in my city. I had so much fun, and the beautiful part is that, I didn’t get that many hugs. Yet I had so many beautiful interactions with other humans. I was just being myself, and I felt amazing and inspired. Even with moments of self doubt, I have become so much more loving toward myself about who I Am and what I do in the world. I know that who I Am is not given its meaning or value by others around me. And, that I get to honor the value of each person I see, meet, or interact with, for just being who they are. It is the most free and peaceful that I have ever been. 

IMG_1048

Dear Aunt Ruth

“And in the end, the love you take 

Is equal to the love 

You make.”  The Beatles, Abbey Road

Dear Aunt Ruth:

Not that I am counting, but it has been nearly fifteen months since you died. Most days, that feels like a new normal to me; I have become accustomed to life continuing on without your physical presence in it. And, I say and feel that with no guilt or shame whatever. I am understand death, and dying, more deeply than ever before, and understand that only your physical body experienced death, yet you are always and forever all around me.

15304555_10155545154293136_3837759952328354844_o

Yet tonight, after my yoga class and as I was driving home, I lost my breath as I thought of you not being here physically anymore. The cry felt like a choke in my throat, and some tears came. The quote above was playing as I was driving, and my mind and heart went immediately to you.

11202856_1606994312902212_7038100225790313098_n

Now, it had been building for the last several days. Maybe it was when I would think about my book, and how exciting it is that I am going to be published, one of my dreams come true. I want you to be here at my launch party. Maybe it was because I finally got the ring sized, the one that you are wearing in this very picture, the only item that I cared to have that belonged to you. Maybe it was because I was wearing one of your Oak Island tee shirts, the only destination in your later years that we could ever get you to leave home for; you never missed a year in ten years at the beach. Or, maybe it was listening to Abbey Road in my new, blue Hug Bug, belting out Oh, Darling!, just like I did for you at the beach, pretending I was playing a piano, and you watching me with tears in your eyes. Or, that line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

15134713_10155478443218136_3271239646749985533_n

Whatever the reason, I am missing you fiercely. I hear your voice in my head, but won’t talk to you on the telephone again. I see your face, but won’t ever touch it again. I feel your touch, yet these moments are never again. Of course, I am not being present, not staying in the now when I have these longings; I am remembering times that have gone by, never to return, only a mere memory trace and nothing more.

Still, I crave having you with me again. We had no unfinished business, no ugly history that needed to be sorted out in order to be at peace. I just wanted to be with you as often as I could. I loved your humor, your honesty, your humility, your love and your care. I loved that you loved me as deeply and courageously as you did, and I felt it, every minute of my life. 

So, I am missing you. And, in another moment, I will feel your presence deep, full and eternal, and the missing will pass. Until that time, I will shed tears, stay with my heart, and remember all that you are and forever will be to me.

I love you always.

Nessa xoxo

IMG_0912

Presence and Peace.

photo-13

The past few days have been deeply shape shifting and mind altering for me. I tend to keep the same routine in how I do my learning about where I want to grow next: I read books, and spend time in the quiet. I remind myself, in the car, at work and at home, multiple times a day about how to come back to the present moment. Some days, I feel really successful in becoming present. However, there are many days in which I feel like I am completely in my head, a lot of the time. 

I don’t have the illusion that I have a capacity for a completely quiet mind; I call that an illusion, because there is always chatter in my head. Even when I am being as present as possible, and not choosing to worry on anything in particular, there are stories galore being hatched in my noggin. That isn’t bad in and of itself, but when I begin to tell myself a whole novel’s worth of tales about that one strand of thought, it becomes somewhat overwhelming and ultimately problematic. So, I do my best to open myself to the thoughts, allow them to float by like clouds, and not take them too seriously.

But something much deeper and intimate happened to me this week. I decided to begin “formally” meditating. Typically, I sit quietly, on the couch or in a chair, every morning before I get ready to begin the scheduled portions of my day. I also listen to books on CD in my car often, or ride without any sound at all, to extend that feeling of quiet and peace. I have not done an actual meditation practice in several years. After a series of stories a few days ago about me and others around me, I wanted to make a more concentrated effort to quiet them down. I began meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, sitting quietly and allowing my thoughts to float by. 

I don’t know if it is the actual meditation, the readiness within myself that I felt to do it, or the readiness of learning this particular lesson myself, but I broke loose of some really old mind and heart patterns. No matter how humble I like to think that I am, I still have periods of entrenched arrogance, telling myself that I have learned all that I need to, and that others just need to “catch up” with where I am at. It is gross at the same time that it is so comically egoic and human. Catching that arrogance this week was like doing a cleanse, and feeling this sense of emptiness and clarity all at the same time. 

I decided to meditate this morning, by concentrating on two words which I wanted to carry with me through the day. For every in breath, I would think Presence, and for every out breath, I would think Peace. Both are necessary and craved in my current world. After clearing out some old patterns and thoughts this week, I understood how critical both are in my world. And, how I can still find places in me that need smoothing to be more in synch with both. 

I love being a teacher, a leader, and a light for others. But, I know I need to be first and foremost, a student. 

ID-100198225