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"Love is, above all, the gift of oneself. "
- Jean Anouilh

#53 April/May 2009 PDF Print E-mail

I am in yoga class, in an only somewhat challenging pose, and I am watching my mind scamper from one thought to another, in attempt to deal with the way the yoga is further opening me. I am amazed at how much energy is spent by my mind’s chatter.  It is often preoccupied by an endless loop of self preservation and pleasure-seeking thoughts.  It is constantly trying to orient and define me in time and space.  It busily attempts to judge, compare and analyze all of my experiences and separate me out from others.  I understand now that it thinks it is trying to protect me from the unknown present moment by keeping me safe in the familiar.  

I remember when these types of thoughts seemed like they were the only thing I had going on within myself.  They were so loud that they were the only way in which I knew myself. I used to think I was the sum total of these small, limiting, comparing thoughts.  I had unknowingly grounded myself almost completely into the familiar stress of my mind’s thoughts.  I would go back over past pain or current stresses and stroke the thoughts connected to those experiences over and over, ramping up the energy so I could fuel my life off of them. They generated the energy that created my life.  These separating, undisciplined, limiting, us-vs.-them, fearful thoughts were once the fuel and foundation that my life was built upon.  It was a life built on pain and separation because that was the nature of those thoughts.  It was a life so painful that I actually had to find ways to separate and numb myself from it.  And yet, it was my creation, an unconscious creation yes, but mine none the less.  That I could create something, and try to separate myself from it at the same time, caused me deep grief, rage, and fear.  It was the kind of pain that continuously perpetuated more pain and separation and drained me in every way.

Anis Nin is quoted as saying, “And the day came when it became more painful to remain tightly closed in a bud than the risk it took to bloom.”   

Blooming, as near as I have been able to figure out, required me to loosen my roots from where they had been grounded into my thoughts and replant them into the grace of the present moment.  It’s transplanting from the seemingly solidness of our familiar stress-filled-thought-friends to the unfamiliar fluidness of our essence. Yikes and Wow!  Who would I be without my mind orientating and defining me as “me” in each moment?  There was a very real terror in me that I might find out that I am a nobody … or worse still, somebody awful.

I observed that this process cannot be willed.  We cannot over-power our thoughts and force peace.  Nor can we simply overlay a better story on top of an old one and expect a different life.  If we are trapped in a place of thinking, we feel we are our thoughts—then a better story will only take us so far before it too begins to produce stress.  

An opening needs to occur so that a new reality can bubble up from within our core.  Fortunately, the truth is, love is on our side.  It is ready to receive us, transform us, and gently open us.  Love, the energy that animates all form, intelligently pulses us moment after moment with messages of how safe and wonderful this opening process actually is.  It communicates the knowing that we are so much more than just our thoughts.  We are in fact, this love.  

Life is, in all things and in all ways, teaching us how organic, natural and liberating it is to let go and embrace the unknown, present moment, for this is where love lives.  I have come to see that everything, simply everything we experience in the world contains in it this message of who we really are.  Each moment is abundant with opportunities for this opening process.  

One little rootlet at a time, we disconnect from the familiar comfort of our limiting thoughts and connect to the unfamiliar but welcoming radiance of our love essence.  One little rootlet at a time, we watch our thoughts and let them be interesting and amusing—but not omnipotent.  

We move from pushing out and defending against life with our thoughts to receiving and accepting what life is offering us in that moment.  Once we can soften, relax, and open into what is being offered, we learn to trust.  Down comes the old life that was once built on pain and separation, up flows a new life with a foundation of love.

This re-grounding process offers our minds a reprieve, it can then relax.  The mind no longer needs to fight to be in control by trying to name and judge each moment. The mind seems to willingly relinquish it’s power, seemingly stressed out by the whole thing anyhow.  I don’t think it wanted to be in charge in the first place.  It was more like a young child given too much responsibility and not enough support.  With the authentic nourishment of knowing that we are more than just our thoughts, the mind finds peace. Once the mind finds peace, it’s brilliance and intelligence can then work in a new, relaxed way.
In my experience, it wasn’t until I began to watch my thoughts and explore how I was not them, that I could begin to disentangle my grounding from them.  My willingness to be in wonderment of life cultivates another perspective, it opens me to another Source of energy.

If we can be willing to meet our thoughts from a place inside  of us, with open curiosity and kindness, and if we can meet ourselves with appreciation, understanding and even self forgiveness when necessary, we will open.  Kindly, we are present with ourselves. Gently, we are present with our breath. Lovingly, we are present with our own heartbeat.  Compassionately, we come back home to ourselves, and the opening process takes care of itself.  A new life is here now…

I finished this article the day Linda returned from her trip. 
On the way home, she had begun an article on the same topic. She feels this article spoke for her as well.

Blessings, from Maya and Linda

On The Cover
~ 20 Compassion ~
Transcending Judgment
From the Tarot of Transformation
by Willow Arlenea and Jasmine Lee Cori:

Traditionally, this card has been called Judgment, and the image has often depicted the Last Judgment of Christian tradition. In the Tarot of Transformation, we move away from this context, while staying true to what is perhaps its innermost core: the process of separating out sin (that which is “off the mark”) so that we might return to our natural benevolence. It represents returning to what former priest Matthew Fox calls “original blessing” (rather than “original sin”) or what in other traditions is called “basic goodness”. We see this less as a process of exclusion than as redemptive inclusion. Rather than push away and reject that which is off mark, our lesson is to embrace it lovingly.  
To do this, we have to transcend judgment as we usually know it. We have to stop saying, “This is right and this is wrong.” The mind sees what is wrong with someone, while the heart, looking through the eyes of love, sees what is right. It sees the other’s basic goodness and how their cruel, distorted, or “unskillful” behaviors are simply a product of their conditioning. If we can put ourselves in other’ shoes and really understand what they’ve been through, what influences have squeezed and hardened them, we will feel much more accepting. We see how far they've come, rather than how far they fall short of the standards in our minds.

...In the picture, the Goddess of Compassion takes the form of a willow tree. Trees are natural purifiers. She is purifying the rejecting attitudes and judgments that cause so much suffering and lock us into a state of separation. It is compassion that liberates the tormented souls in the background and soothes the torment in us. It spirals out from the heart in a universal embrace of that which is in need of healing. 

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