Tag Archives: surrender

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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Sea of Change.

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My life has been a series of deep changes in the last few months. In the areas of my work, my play, my family, and my home, changes have been everywhere. And, for most of my life, I have made a determination in my mind and my heart of whether a change was good, or bad. Hardly ever have I encountered a change about which I felt completely neutral.

 

There are many reasons of why I feel a sense of judgment about change occurring in my world. One reason is that I believe that if things change, then what I previously believed about a relationship was an illusion or a lie; that if that person no longer speaks to me or is in my life, that maybe all along they didn’t really care about me. If the circumstances of my job change, I immediately feel like maybe this isn’t the right position for me, or I feel betrayed in some way that change has occurred. If a change happens that I label as positive, it is always because things have turned out the way that I wanted in some form. 

 

The main reason that I would ever feel upset or concerned about a change that happens in my life is simply fear:  being afraid for a new circumstance to come in. Afraid of what is going to occur next. Fear of the unknown. When I am coming from fear, it almost certainly means that I am resisting what will come whether I embrace it or not. I want things to stay the same, because in sameness, it seems like there is safety, security, familiarity.  I want my world to stay as it is in those moments.

 

However, whether I want it to occur or not, changes do come in my world, on a daily basis. I am in my little vessel on the ocean of life, floating along, and the ocean doesn’t stay constant. If you spend any time on the coast, the only thing certain about the waves and sea is that it is constantly changing. The tides, the size of the waves, and color and texture of the ocean, is always in motion. It never stops. 

 

When I live my life in the past, through memory, regret or sentimental feeling, then any new circumstance or information that comes in that challenges that feels threatening to me. When I live in the future, in anticipation of what I want to happen, or am planning in my mind, when those plans get changed, I feel threatened and unappreciated or unheard. It may all sound very dramatic, but this is what occurs when I am not living presently, and I judge what happens around me as either good, or bad. 

 

The truth is, I will always be riding the ocean of life, always navigating my way through a sea of constant change. Life is ever changing; that cannot be disputed. How those changes impact me, or don’t, is always my choice, my intent. If I live my life as fully in the present moment as possible, watching life as if it were a movie, and understanding that change occurs whether I want it to or not, then I can be neutral about change. I can embrace that life, in all of its wonder and unique manifestations, can just be something that I watch unfold, and see the opportunities for learning and growth with every change in the waves. I can choose gratitude for every experience, no matter what comes my way.

 

Change comes to each one of us. We can enjoy the ride or curse the tide. I want to secure as much joy and peace as possible while I am on this voyage, so I choose this moment, as often as I can remember. 

 

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The Woodpecker and the Chipmunk.

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I have been been going through some deep, emotional lessons in my life over the last couple of months. I have, at times, felt powerless, hopeless, and overwhelmed by what has been happening around me. I have taken on the heaviness and volatility of the situations at hand, as if it has everything to do with me. At those times, I always feel compelled to do SOMETHING, because I feel so powerless about the circumstances that are impacting my world, or a loved one. Anything that would assist in relieving my sense of helplessness. I have found myself being angry, judgmental, and feeling like a victim. I have focused on the actions or experiences of others. And, through much of it, I have not always focused on my own needs and what feeds me.

 

What I have come to understand about myself, actually, what I believe to be true about all human beings, is that we cannot truly be there for another person, love them as they are, unless we are first caring for ourselves in a deep, intimate way. Much of the time, that just means for me to remind myself to eat balanced, regular meals; to get good, restful sleep at night;  and making sure I get my body moving. When those are sacrificed by me, in the name of compassion or care for others, I have nothing left to care for them with.  In addition, if I don’t “feed” myself, with the activities and time that I need in my soul, I feel empty.  I feel like I could fall into a hole of self pity and have a hard time crawling out.  

 

So, I have been more diligent.  I write every day, even working on a novel that I have been talking to myself about for years but have been putting off continuing. I have beaten on a drum a bit. Taken some walks around town. And yesterday, when I woke up in a “funk”, feeling deeply raw and emotional, I knew that I had to get into nature. I had to go out into the woods and feel connected. Believe me, there was a part of me that did not want to, that wanted to wallow in some self created misery. But I knew that it was deeply important. So I headed to a trail that I had never been to before. I was on the verge of tears. I wanted to believe how lonely and isolated I felt from others. How hopeless everything was. But, I reminded myself to stay present, open and willing to be with myself.

 

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I am always amazed and inspired by what I notice when I really get present in my world. When I first arrived at the trail, I was distracted. I was in my mind and my incessant thoughts. However, I consciously shifted that; and realized that any circumstance, no matter how difficult it seems to be, brings beautiful lessons to my life. And, that when I see others, and myself, as capable, open and completely perfect, magic happens. When I shifted my awareness, to just be present, I found myself hearing and seeing the most amazing things. The sound of the water nearby running over rocks. The rustle of the leaves under my feet and on the hills along the path. A sound that seemed to be a person hammering, but when I stopped, and gently looked up, it was a woodpecker, looking for insects on a tree. As I looked up, I saw at least two other woodpeckers swooping overhead, easily recognized with their red heads. 

 

The rustling on the hillsides were many chipmunks, scurrying from logs and trees to gather nuts, to chase one another. They are so tiny, so playful and so timid. I love catching them with the corner of my eye as they run by. One of them was sitting on a fallen tree, just looking at me, his cheeks bulging with some treasure. He kept eye contact, and it filled me with peace and wonder. 

 

In that hour of time, I was reminded yet again of the necessity and gift of Presence in my life, of Gratitude and Peace. When I am in my world, present to it, willing to accept all that comes my way, and ready to let go of my own need to control or guide, the beauty of the world pours in. When I trust that I am right where I need to be, I know I need to do nothing. And I find the deepest Peace that I have ever known. 

 

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Taking Others Personally.

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Every couple of months or so, I contemplate de activating my Facebook account.  After spending a good amount of time paying attention to the various kinds of posts there, it feels like it would be self loving to take a break. Just tune out, and tune in to myself instead for a few days, weeks, whatever feels good to me.

 

However, the stuff that seems to impact me the most is not the political, commercial, provocative posts that I see there; I seem pretty immune to them these days, feeling secure in my own positions and opinions, and allowing others to have their own. What seems to impact me the most, as I do the one fingered scroll through on my Iphone, is friends on there.  I see pictures of friends, having fun times with other friends, attending or hosting parties, traveling, and I feel a pang of disappointment.  A feeling of being left out.  I feel like when it comes to friends, I don’t matter to many.

 

Please, read on before you feel sorry for me; this is not to elicit sympathy for myself.  It is a tremendous learning ground for me, and I am grateful.  But at first glance, when I see friends of mine having fun with others, I don’t just think that I am happy for them that they are happy.  I feel left out, left behind.  I don’t take it out on them; I take it out on ME.  What is wrong with ME?  Aren’t I fun enough?  Inspiring enough? Why don’t they call me to go out, to have tea, to come over for a movie?  Why not ME???? I take the entire “exchange” personally.  And, that is the kicker for me; there is no exchange; there is no rejection.  It just is what is.

 

I have been reading the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for a couple of years now, over and over again, and one of those agreements is to not take ANYTHING personally. Now, I have put it into action quite successfully and gratefully in my world over and over again, in relationship to my work; my family; and various friends. But then, I always get another opportunity to try the lesson on for size again, just to seal the deal. So, this is another time for that.  

 

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I certainly do not feel one bit peaceful when I take others personally.  I feel frustrated, confused, rejected, sad, and angry. I feel like I am not enough in some way, shape or form. I feel like I want to be seen and acknowledged and it just isn’t happening in the way that I would like. I take an image from a social media outlet and think that means I know all that there is to a story. Because that is all it ever is, really.  Just a story.  Just a story that I tell myself and then come to believe as the truth.  

 

The thing is, I always get to decide how I want to believe things to be.  And, the lessons that I get to learn in all of this, are vital and substantial for my expansion and evolution. I am learning deeply about letting go; letting things and people be just as they are. When I do that, I accept more and judge less. Another lesson that I get to learn is that NOTHING in this world, not one thing, that is going on with another person, ever has anything to do with me.  Even when it does, it doesn’t. This one of the four agreements is the one that I struggle with the most, yet gives me the most peace within when I ascribe to it.

 

And ultimately, that is the real win for me, is to come back to a place of Peace, always and as often as possible.  When I am feeling peaceful, I am amazed that I could ever want to choose something other than Peace. Yet I do, day after day after day.  And, then, gratefully, I get to remember, day after day after day, that Peace is the choice that I prefer, and it is always available to me.  That I can pick it up, and hold it closely, as often and consistently as I desire.  That I am beautiful, bright, of value and worth.  That I am full of Love, Light, and Purpose. That all those that are meant to come in and out of my world are nothing short of blessings, and that I get to honor them as such, without putting limits, rules and expectations upon them.  I get to let them be their beautiful selves, and celebrate the Self that I am in every moment.

 

I am forever grateful to be able to keep growing, learning, and Being in the brightest, most brilliant way that I can imagine to Be.

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Die before you Die.

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I have always been a person that has tended to accumulate a fair assortment of stuff.  I would save my favorite childhood stuffed animals, hundreds of pictures, or other items that remind me of a earlier life memory.  I often believed that the object that I was keeping represented that moment in time in such a way that it was difficult to part with it.  Over the last few years, I have cleared and purged many of my belongings, from a perspective of not needing to have much; to lighten the load.  That objects do not hold the importance I thought that they did.

 

When I started reading about the present moment, Eckhart Tolle, and how much emphasis the Ego puts on belongings, I more deeply understood that I, and others, form our identities around who we think we are, and what we have.  So, not only did my belongings represent memories to me, but also in that, aspects of my identity, at least according to the Ego.  

 

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes about the idea to “die before you die”.  What he means by that, is to die to the idea of your identity before your physical form dies and is no more.  The fact is, we all are mortal; physical forms that will one day be dust, and then nothing.  And, although that is fear producing to people, including me at times, it is a fact.  All physical forms are fleeting; they live, and they die.  So to me, to die before I die not only means acceptance of the mortality of my physical body, but also to die to my assumed identity.  To me, it means to die to the belief that I am who my Ego says I am in terms of identity:  all of the personality traits and forms that I take on to define who I am, whether that be daughter, mother, worker, lesbian, wife, and so on.  To die to those ideas for me, means to not believe that I am only that.  

 

As living beings, we share two things in common:  not only are we all mortal, and will one day be dust.  But, we also are all immortal, in terms of our true selves.  We are all part of what is known as the deathless dimension:  the divine presence.  So, when our mortal selves pass away, it is only the physical form that dies, but our radiance, our true essence, lives on.

 

The beauty of this realization for me is that it takes away much of the fear I have experienced in the past of death and dying.  I more easily understand that I am not merely a physical entity that is here for a short time, but a radiant light that is always shining, and that is one fragment of the Universal light that is all of us.  That we are all part of that universality and although we forget it, caught up in our physical forms and identities, that it is not all that we are.  That to die to who we see ourselves as in our identities, helps us to let go of things, and be more present to our light, our true selves.

 

To surrender to this reminds me of how free I am.

 

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