Love is Not a Portal.

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In my reading and studying of The Power of Awareness by Eckhart Tolle, I am learning about ways to become more present in my life, and that the diligence to presence allows me to experience the Universality of this world; another realm of consciousness. What I mean by that, is that when I consciously stay in the here and now as often as possible, I am not focused on the future, or the past, and can more fully experience my connection to the world around me. I am also more aware of how I am a part of all that there is. This is the closest so far in my life that I have come to a spiritual awakening and seeing the light of something bigger than just myself.

In this book, Eckhart talks about some of the main ways, or portals, that he believes there are in order to access this alternate state of awareness, this connection to all. First, by being in the present moment; also, by connecting with our body internally, meaning, feeling the workings of it on a very direct level, feeling the energy within; breathing consciously, at the same time as slowing down the constant thoughts that run through our minds; and if there is nothing we can do, then surrendering to what is. Each one is effective in its own way, and each portal is one which I have utilized in order to feel more peaceful and still within. In these moments, peace feels the pinnacle of my life experience.

What is interesting, however, is that most of my life, I have believed that Love was the experience that would most lead me to spiritual awakening and peace. By loving others, and loving myself, and doing so in a nonjudgmental, open way, I would allow myself to experience my connection to everything else. That actively loving others, as a verb, would bring this about. And, I am beginning to understand now how this is not the case.

Indeed, I do love, feel love and express love to myself and to others in my world, as well as to creatures and nature that I am present to in my daily life. But I don’t believe anymore that the love comes first. You see, when I am not in the present moment, in other words, when I am focused on a past transgression or future event, I am more prone to judge others when I am around them. I am viewing them through my own filters and biases, my own expectations and desire instead of just accepting the moment, and therefore the person, as it is. So, in that sense, love does not come first; however, when I open the portal to higher consciousness, by being present, or surrendering to what is, I am allowing the light of love to shine on through me.

This may seem a lofty goal, and one that we could easily talk ourselves out of as being too tedious, or not being worthy or necessary in how we spend our time. However, for me to have a more full experience of my life, I want to be present; I want to savor the here and now and be with those in my world. I want to see life with fresh eyes and keep my heart as open as possible.

And, when the portal is open to a higher realm, the Light of Love awaits us all.

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Yesterday, Tomorrow, and the Here and Now.

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I am getting married in eight days. It is a day that I have been waiting for, in one way, my whole life. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having a beautiful, big, amazing wedding. In my adult years, I often thought about it as well, but wasn’t sure if actually getting married was going to be a right afforded to me. I also wasn’t sure if I would meet the partner that would be the one I would marry. Then, all of that changed when I met Brenda, and she asked me to marry her. And now, here I am.

As excited as I am, I keep projecting to the future, to what will be next week. Who is coming. What I will look like in my dress, what Brenda will look like. If the weather will be good. If we will have enough food, drink for everyone. I am constantly living in the future, waiting for tomorrow.

In the last few months, I have been reading a lot, and listening a lot, to Eckhart Tolle, who is all about the present moment. What that has helped me with in the last months is being more present, not living my life away waiting for a future moment. Or, not living in the past either. Of the two, my choice in my life has always been projecting toward the future. Planning for this or that, getting excited about something coming up, or more often than that, having excessive worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.

To be present, we need to be willing to be in the here and now, and release any concern with what might have been in the past. We also need to not project into the future. Our ego, our self that we think that we are, forms its identity by who we are and what we have done, or what it is we think we will do in the future. And, it stays strong by creating resentment, regret or guilt about the past, and dread or anticipation or expectation of the future. The ego makes us believe that our true selves live in those realms, and are made up of what we do, an identity that is based on things or events.

Living in the present moment has been much more fulfilling to me. Even though I have great things that are coming in my life, and even though I have never been a person to live with a lot of regret, living in the right now reminds me that right now is really all I’ve got. That this moment is really the only one that exists, even though the past and future seem so real. So, even though marrying my sweetheart is a dream come true, I miss a lot of my life if I only live for that, and not all of the meantimes.

I am such a blessed, contented person. I feel so fulfilled and complete. And, to remain present to all that I have right here and right now, I am in bliss.

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How About A Hug? Part 3: Give your arms a Rest.

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When I decided that I would spend an evening hugging persons blindfolded, I had no idea what my level of energy and stamina would be. I had a hunch that I would feel completely invigorated physically, because of the excitement within me around the project. And, to some degree, I was correct in that.

However, there were periods of time that I was holding my arms up for awhile, and they would get tired. I would lower them for a few seconds, stretching them out, and then put them up again.

But, something really interesting happened along the way, and it happened a couple of times before I realized it. Even when my arms would get tired, as soon as a person would come up to me for a hug, and I would wrap my arms around them tightly, after they would walk away, my arms would not be tired anymore. If anything, they felt well rested and light.

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Now, some of that relief was bound to happen, because in one sense, I was putting my arms down, and resting them on another person. Yet, my muscles within my arms were tense and strong when I would hug the person, and the rest would literally only be for a few seconds. So, I feel sure that the energized feeling my arms would experience were directly related to the experience itself, my own opening of my heart.

At one point, I had a person come by, who told me as she hugged me that she had hugged me earlier, and came by for a second one. Then, she went on to tell me, that her purpose was to help me to relax.

She told me after giving me a second, beautiful hug, to give my arms a rest. Her voice was gentle, kind and compassionate. And, her words went right to my heart. Right to the core of me, and was yet another confirmation of why this project felt so fulfilling to me.

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To be offering a gift to the world around me, with little anticipation of what would happen, and little ability to see what would happen, was opening my heart plenty. But, to then receive from a person, in such a genuine way, was to understand that my offering was how I was to deeply receive.

My life is so full of magic, wonder and peace. And, that continues to expand every day. Yet, to be in that small chunk of time, and encounter so many miracles of humanity, has exponentially increased my awareness and deep appreciation for the humans in the world around me. Even when we are so bombarded with how messed up this world is, there is kindness and love at every turn.

What a miracle.

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How About a Hug? Part 2- Hugs for Everyone.

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Hugs for Everyone. That was part of my thinking when I embarked on this project, which was just the beginning of continuing it into the future. Everyone should be hugged. We all crave human contact, human compassion in the form of a wraparound, and a tight squeeze. Or a gentle embrace. We all need that in order to feel fully human, loved and alive.

And, even if I had not had on a blindfold, the hugs would have been there for everyone, everyone that felt ready and willing to approach me and stand there, waiting. It gives me pause when I think about it.

You see, I have judgments most every day, about one thing, or one person or another in my life. Someone is driving too fast on the highway. A coworker doesn’t seem particularly chatty or interested in me. My daughter is tired and overwhelmed and seems aggravated with me. Judgment knows no bounds when I feel like my needs are not getting met. I don’t live in judgment all the time, but it most often comes out when I feel scared, or alone.

Standing on a city street, with no sight, and hugging people, sight unseen, was one way to remove my ability to judge, because I couldn’t see anything. I had to just trust that all would be well. And, more importantly, I had to remain with my heart wide open, to receive every nugget that came my way.

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Being judgmental serves me less and less in my life. And, opening my heart serves me more and more. And, this experience was a beautiful beginning to commit to letting go of judgment, and embracing love of others. Let go of wanting something in return, and open to receiving bigger than I have in my life, by wanting nothing in return.

What a rush.

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How About a Hug? Part I

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Last night, I did something, probably one of the craziest things that I have ever done, and the most profound. Last night, I stood on the sidewalk in downtown Scranton, during our First Friday event, and I was blindfolded. I held my arms open wide, and had a sign up:

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And, what happened after that will be the subject of many, many blog posts to come. It was a completely vulnerable, amazing experience. I waited, and stood, and people came up to me, only a couple at first, and then it grew. People that wanted, needed, or were offering, a hug.

Some people came into my arms easily, after letting me know they were standing close to me, either by a phrase, or a sigh, or a whisper to a friend. Some grabbed my hand before they came into my embrace. And, with all of them, I fully embraced them. Wrapped my arms around them fully, tall or short, small or bigger, I curled all around them.

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Before I arrived there, I felt a little bit afraid. What would it be like to be standing there, completely vulnerable? Knowing that anything could happen? Knowing that I was taking away one of my sense, my sight, in order to go through this? I asked Brenda to be there with me, and she chronicled it with pictures, and got to share in the full experience herself.

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All day today, I have not been able to stop thinking about the experience. The fact that my first hug was a small baby. The young man that hugged me, I think for a full minute, tight and full, not wanting to let go. The emotion of connecting in that deep, physical way with complete strangers to me.

What I realized today, among many other things, is that in the moment of standing there in my vulnerability, and opening myself to a world that I know, but I don’t know, I was choosing between fear or peace. In every breath, and every sound that I sensed around me, I got to actively choose to be peaceful. To have no expectations and to know that anything could happen, and that I knew that it would all be magical.

For two hours, I stood there, and it was complete bliss. I could have stood there even longer. It was engaging and addictive, and so necessary for the world that I encountered, and for me.

I actively reminded myself how good it feels to open my arms to the world, all of it.

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