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Don’t believe your mind.

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I have been studying present moment awareness and other teachings for becoming more conscious of the true self, for a few years now. And, on most days, most of the time, I seem able to remember the skills of what it takes to be where I want to be. To go toward feeling good. However, over the last two days, I have forgotten that truth, and forgotten the knowing that I possess of my true nature, who I really Am. I have been believing the lies of my mind.

 

In the context of presence, and understanding the nature of our true essence, the mind cannot help itself. It is merely a tool of self-propelling ideas, and it is constantly doing its job, generating thought after thought. However, the danger comes in how deeply we want to hold our thoughts as truth. The real truth is, we cannot believe anything, or at least, the vast majority of things that our mind tells us are true. I can identify with this fully and knowingly, especially when I forget.

 

When I forget to not believe the stories of my mind, I think that I am nothing. I believe that I don’t matter, that I am not enough, that there are parts of me that are broken or not okay. I am defensive, hostile, blaming and accusing, all toward myself. When I do find myself blaming others, it is because my ego feels so bruised, inflated and dramatic, that it needs the intensity to feel like it matters. When I get to these places of pain and self loathing, I feel so low that I fantasize about punching myself, doing all that I can to literally self destruct. That is how deep the lie goes, and that is how far that I get from self love.

 

It never lasts long, but when it is around, it feels terrible. And, the thing is, it will hang around until I say to myself what the real truth is, so that it disappears. When I am feeling this insane, it seems like I will never feel better, and as if the whole dramatic story is true. I don’t remember my inner peace, my light, my ability to drop the story at any moment. Gratefully though, I do eventually remember what the truth is.
The truth is, I am Love.

I am Light.

I deserve beauty, joy, and peace.

I can create anything.

When I am in Love, my true essence, anything that I create can only be a thing of beauty.

When I remember the truth, when I stop believing my monkey mind, I see my true essence as if I had never, ever forgotten it. And, I understand that I have the freedom in any moment, through a breath and a conscious awareness, to come back to my essence, my source, in an instant. I never have to be lost for long.

I Know who I Am. 

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Mine stinks, too.

I love that at this time of my life, over half of a century that I have been in this human form, I like to look at myself with deeper eyes. What I mean by that is, I enjoy looking at, and catching myself, at the ways in which I want to either build or maintain my own identity, or see myself as “different” than others. When I say “different”, I typically mean, better than. When I get to catch myself engaging in these subtle but powerful attitudes and behaviors, it is refreshing and relieving.

 

Yet, what I keep discovering, is that the more effective I get at catching myself, the more subtle and illicit the behaviors, ideas, and attitudes become. Because my ever present Ego still wants to exist, it is sneakier and sneakier at how it presents itself. For example, I can feel really good about catching my Ego at what it does, but then, when I become egoic about how much better I am at catching it than someone that I know, that is Ego doing what Eckhart Tolle calls “coming in through the back door”. I am still a human, and a physical body, and I still believe that I exist, just like every other person. And, just because I am in one place about it, and someone else is in a different place does not make me more anything, evolved or otherwise.

 

The best thing that I get to do for myself, and for the world, is to see my own behaviors without making a story around it. Without using it as yet another way to separate myself from others. No matter what loving word I call it- seeing myself in that way out of love, compassion, forgiveness, or self esteem- it is always a way to separate myself from others, and for me, all that does is discourage deeper connection. And, that is not what I want anymore. I want to deepen my connection with myself, and with others, without making it into my identity that then I get to feel good about. I just want to do it, and be present with that, and remember that all of the rest of it is the details of the story that I tell myself or someone else. And, I get to look at it in myself with eyes of love, not condemnation, guilt or judgment.

 

I get to see myself as human, and as a light being, and get to see that Universal aspect in all of us. 

 

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Truth and Freedom.

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I love feeling good. I love feeling really, really good. And, over the course of my lifetime, there have been a variety of ways that I have used to feel good. For most of my adult years, I have chosen some form of being altered as a way to feel good. I have chosen alcohol, marijuana, or food, as my most favorite substances to get me to where I thought would bring more fun, more feeling good sensations. And, I would often choose an overabundance of any and all of those ways to feel good, and end up dealing with feelings of guilt, shame, remorse, or physical discomfort. I related feeling even better with being self indulgent.

As I grow as a human, and a spiritual being, things about me are changing, including what feels really good to me. I have noticed over the last couple of months, that as much as I enjoy drinking wine, or having a pot brownie, that I have been desiring them less and less. And, there is two big reasons for this. First, is that I no longer at this point in my life, feel that I need to use something to numb out, or to take the edge off of my life. And, honestly, I have used anything from food to alcohol in the past to have life feel less intense, less painful. Or, more joyful. I was seeking ways to feel less hurt or more of a high.

The second reason that I have been desiring these things less frequently, is that I feel so great without them. I have been on the high of my life very recently. And, it is beyond anything that I could use or put into my body. It is coming from a deeper truth within me than I have ever been in touch with before. I have tapped into my inner self in such a loving way, that it catapults me into bliss almost instantaneously.

This has not always been a smooth road for me. I have been on it before; attempting to love myself from a genuine, authentic space. Loving myself completely and without judgment, as I am and with no expectation to change in order to give myself that love. But, in the past, I have often fallen short, because my love for myself was loaded with strings attached: I would love myself if I behaved, looked, or was a certain way. Different than who I actually was. 

I have entered into a relationship with me, that is truthful and full of love. It has taken literally my entire life to get there. And, it is without barriers to feeling that love, or expectations for me to be or do something different. Of course, I have to tend to it like a beautiful garden, water and fertilize it regularly. Yet, when I do, it blooms over and over again. And, I don’t need to add anything special to it, like a drink, to feel what I feel. 

I have entered the most truthful and free portion of my life yet. And I can barely wait to see what might come next. 

 

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Being a Human.

Last month, I published my first book. It is stories and photographs of all of my many journeys with hugs so far. And, it has been an amazing ride. I have hugged so many beautiful humans, and learned so much about myself in the process. And, last night, I had the deep privilege of hugging a few dozen more of them, blindfolded on the streets of Scranton. 

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I have learned many things about myself as I have been on this journey, about surrender, forgiveness, expectations, and being in the present moment. And, for the most part, I live in those realms in my daily living, and when I am not there, am able to do what I need to in order to get back there.

 

But yesterday, I felt more human than usual. What felt like a difficult circumstance came up in my life, and my first response was anger. Of every range of emotion that there is for us humans, anger is the one that I have the most difficulty with understanding and processing. Of course, I also know that anger is nothing more than another form of fear, but in the moment yesterday, I was pissed. I felt hatred. I wanted to lash out and attack people, and felt very justified in that feeling. And, although I know that I am a human being, and that I am imperfect, and that I will go through these difficulties at times, I also don’t like it when I feel something that I don’t know what to do with.

 

So, I gave myself over completely to my street hugs last night. I had already planned to go downtown and hug with a blindfold, which I had not done since my first street hugging experience three years ago. And, I don’t think that I really knew how much it would bring healing to me last night. Until it happened. 

 

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Humans, just being themselves. Being vulnerable. Sharing a moment with me that for most of them, brought me to tears. A sharing of hearts, souls and moments that are imprinted on me. 

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With every hugging experience, I understand more deeply that it is not me who is bringing something to others; it is the sharing of the hug with one another. The blend of two beings, two souls, and the experience of our universal nature, our sameness. I am filled with a deep honor and reverence for sharing those intimate moments with my fellow Light Beings. 

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Thank you. For reminding me of the beauty of being a human; and how much we all share with one another. 

Teacher/Student, Suffering/Acceptance.

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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. 

 

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