Infinity, eternally: a crude measurement of the immeasurable, Love.
Listening to Tara Brach- Beyond the Prison of Beliefs – today I was deeply touched by the story of a heart transplant recipient meeting the donor’s wife. As the wife of the donor placed her hand on the chest of the recipient she said “everything is copacetic”: a personal communication her and her deceased husband shared while he was alive after disturbances between them. The story of the recipient reflected many of the deceased man’s traits and habits the recipient had integrated since receiving the donated heart, including the use of the word “copacetic”. A sense of “infinity, eternally” arose within me along with a realisation of how enchanted we become with these experiences of connection after someone dies.
My heartmind explored that during life the connection is there albeit deeper and less accessible; beyond thought, suffering, behaviour, perceptions and experiences that can create an armour so difficult to penetrate. How do we sense the energy of that which is “infinity, eternally” that exists beyond our beliefs? What is the aliveness that is constantly in the background of our existence? What is the aliveness sometimes sensed more potently after death of a loved one? Beyond the prison of beliefs is infinity, eternally… love.
Tara shared this verse from Rumi…
I am water. I am the thorn
that catches someone’s clothing…
There’s nothing to believe.
Only when I quit believing in myself
did I come into this beauty…
Day and night I guarded the pearl of my soul.
Now in this ocean of pearling currents,
I’ve lost track of which was mine.
Watch Beyond the Prison of Beliefs with Tara Brach here:
What to do with struggle …. How do I accept what is?
Learning to accept life does not mean you do nothing or that nothing changes. Life is in a continual state of flux, ever changing – never static. Acceptance is about embracing reality because it just is what it is in any given moment. When we can do that (embrace reality) we don’t have to push so hard to change things. Often as a natural consequence of accepting reality, change just happens.
“that change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is — to be fully invested in his current positions. By rejecting the role of change agent, we make meaningful and orderly change possible.” Arnold Beisser – The paradoxical theory of change.
So how do we do that? We get to know our “self” intimately. We become more aware of our life experience and mindfulness is a way to do that. We notice the physical feelings, emotions, and thoughts that arise in different situations. Mindfulness meditation (starting with the breath) is the training ground for expanding awareness of how we live life and how life impacts us.
As we start to live life consciously and stop pushing away what is there, we start the journey down the rabbit hole. Sometimes we don’t know what to do with that which we have become aware of. There’s one sure fire thing you can do to be with the moment, accept it, and let it go (at least for now).
Ask yourself a question about what you are experiencing. It’s a great way to acknowledge reality and accept it is there. Become curious and question your experience: Not to raise doubt, question like a scientist to raise your curiosity, and life could become an experiment. Let go of an answer – it may or may not come to you at the time.
Ask about your feelings.
Ask about your thoughts.
Ask about your body sensations.
Ask about your experiences past, present, and potential future.
Ask about your unique meaning of life.
Dr John Demartini,Tony Robbins, and other motivational speakers often say that the quality of life is partly based on the quality of questions asked. As I become more aware I notice questions naturally arise. As I become more mindful, kind and compassionate, more questions arise within me. I have noticed questioning has become a tool and a skill. Next time you meditate or you’re feeling challenged just try posing a question and sitting with it for a while, perhaps one of the following:
Where am I at with this right now?
How did I get here?
What are the sensations in my body right now?
Is there something I need right now?
I wonder what the meaning is behind this, because I just don’t understand it right now.
I thought I had dealt with this, what am I missing?
What is it within me that chooses this experience?
If I am being kind and honest with me right now what is this situation telling me about myself.
What does this tell me about the other person?
What is my responsibility, what do I actually have control of, and what can I let go of?
What do I want to experience in my life right now?
Is my choice in alignment with what I want to experience in my life right now?
A statement you might make after asking your question is – “I trust that I will understand and know the answers when they present to me”.
What questions would you ask if you stop for a moment, to be with your life as it is, just noticing it in all its glory, neutrality, and pain? What could you become curious about? Would being curious help you acknowledge what is there? Would acknowledging what is in your experience in the moment be a way to accept? I wonder what would happen if you could accept that’s just how it is right at this moment… with gentle curiosity…
We all have the answers we need within us. We do need to learn how to ask questions and just remain open for the answers , however they choose to show up.
The question I most often ask in general terms: “What do I most need to know or do right now to be loving, kind and compassionate?” It’s my bottom line – what I care about most. AND it includes all living beings (me).
I have chosen to write my next book on resilience and I can hopefully guide people who are struggling on how they can survive AND thrive. I have decided to share some take away points as I write this book so you don’t have to wait for the end product to gain some immediate benefit. I would love your feedback and comments especially to know what is useful (or not), so the finished book will benefit as many people as possible. I hope you enjoy the snippets I release along the way.
As I face continual challenges with threats of blindness and other issues from autoimmune diseases (Uveitis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis), which I will share in greater detail in my book, I think of the following question. Where am I on the continuum of surviving and thriving? I feel like life is playing me like a slide guitar and the player (life) of said guitar is sliding the entire scale range! Those of you who have read Success is Simply Spiritual will be aware of other life changing challenges I have faced in the past. I will address a less imposing, although seriously impacting, challenge that creates difficulties I need to deal with.
The perfectionist trait I have says “I‘m not good enough if I am experiencing the (merely) surviving end of the spectrum” if I want to teach people how to manage well, and thrive. I “should” be a shining example of positivity and happiness. Well life’s not like that, not for me anyway. I ride the waves and occasionally get dumped head first into the sand or even worse, I feel held down topsy-turvy under the waves drowning and wondering if I’ll ever breathe again! I recently attended the Hay House Australia’s Writers Workshop and a very important point was made by Reid Tracy. He said that we all teach what we need to learn, including Louise Hay; a living icon in the world of personal transformation and founder of Hay House Publishing. It’s so refreshing to know that leaders in this field are honest, vulnerable and humble.
So some of my days are just days, some are filled with pure joy, excitement and happiness. Some however, can be anywhere from challenging, cranky, to scary or devastatingly heartbreaking, leaving me wondering how I will get through whatever is breaking my heart; or more aptly put, breaking my mind. But, the reality is I do at least survive every day or I wouldn’t be here now writing this article. I do more than survive; I eventually find ways to thrive!
So what does thriving mean? The difference between surviving and thriving is resilience. Recognising my resilience through some pretty difficult events and circumstances in the past has shown me that I have courage, strength, internal support, and social support. The years I have spent learning mindfulness skills is paying off with huge dividends. I have faltered many times and fallen in deep holes, often forgetting that I have been in a hole before. You might say I have spent a lot of time sleep walking. Eventually through practicing awareness I can remind myself of the times I have struggled and have triumphed. The fact that I am still here to be aware of this tells me I have made it through whatever has gone before. This too shall pass. Contemplation of questions like “how did I get through that?” reminds me of the skills and traits within me that I have used successfully before; reminding me that I can do it again. Why do I continue to fall down these holes? Simple really, I am human! Life is an ongoing process.
I/we will always be learning and will do so at the perfect pace for each of us. We are continually growing or decaying, not static, as are all things in the material world. It’s only the rate of change that varies.
One example of a challenge (hole that I fall in) is that I often set the bar way to high for myself (and then for other people as well), holding on to unreal expectations, and in doing so create more challenges that usually bring me undone again. There is so much judgment hanging around in my head. I often wonder who died and put me in charge of the universe. That’s a huge load to carry and one responsibility I’d rather relinquish. This particular hole is filled with expectations of work commitments, study achievement, creativity, and relationship dramas. Makes you wonder how there is room for me down there! I end up buried underneath the weight of all of it, and when I do … then what? The ship hits the sand! This is where my resilience skills come into play.
Resilience is also a process and it took some time to bring it to conscious awareness and integrate as a usable skill, so patience with yourself as you navigate the process is helpful. Recognition of my resilience in the past (I take time to remember specific challenges I have moved through) helps me switch gears from my head to my heart. When I’m in my head the mind talk is incredibly critical, pressurised, and all about business and ego. When the gears switch to my heart there is now an automatic physical change and response that I recognise … I smile. The smile arises out of innate kindness that I all but bury when I’m in my head. The smile to, and at, myself changes the nature of my being, opens me to courage and strength, along with love, kindness, and compassion; an intrinsic part of our human nature. Then I remember to take a breath, stop and sit with myself, and rediscover who I am, what I would love to experience, how I would love to be of service, and how to love and be kind to others. Then my mind is free to address the practicalities of my situation.
I think the simplest take away for you/anyone from this article is, if you are troubled – no matter how deeply – remember, somehow you have made it through life this far and you can make it through this too. Find a quiet moment, take a deep breath in and exhale a few times to create some present centred space, and think about the following 7 steps:
Think of a former challenge that you have overcome.
What thoughts and actions got you through your most difficult times in the past?
Who helped and supported you?
What do you need to have or do right now?
Who can help you get it or do it?
Let go of the questions and let the answers come to you at a later time if necessary.
Keep your attention on your breath for a few minutes if you can.
You have what it takes to be resilient – to not only survive, but to thrive!
Reach back to remember how you got through hard times before,
Reach within to your strength and courage,
Reach out for the help you need (especially when in crisis), and
Reach forward into the present and your future knowing you have what it takes to survive and thrive!
Do remember that help is available 24/7 if you feel you need help to cope in a crisis. It’s OK to ask for help when you need it.
This week I, along with many other people, celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela who passed on from his earthly incarnation. My heart was filled with emotions of gratitude for the change Nelson Mandela created, sadness for the loss of his embodied influence, and great joy at having been exposed to his wisdom, and knowing his life will be influential for a long time to come.
I purchased one of his books on kindle called Conversations with Myself, hungry for his inspiration knowing that his personal wisdom is now limited to whatever legacy exists here and now. The book is filled with musings, excerpts, communications that have been preserved and now shared with the world. If you are inspired and motivated by this man you may enjoy this book. I am taking my time and savouring the words like a deliciously nourishing feast, those tasty morsels which stand out for me before I move on to the next course/chapter.
Some of the “stand out” notes so far:
“I came to accept that I have no right whatsoever to judge others in terms of my own customs, however much I may be proud of such customs … that to despise others because they have not observed particular customs is a dangerous form of chauvinism… I shall neither impose my own customs on others nor follow any practice which will offend my comrades”. This insight occurred after Mandela noticed his own “revulsion” when a friend had not observed a particular custom. Self awareness allowed him to observe “prejudice of my youth and to accept all people as equals.”
On politics Mandela mused “Only arm chair politicians are immune from committing mistakes. Errors are inherent in political action. Those who are in the centre of political struggle who have to deal with practical and pressing problems, are afforded little time for reflection and no precedents to guide them and are bound to slip up many times. But in due course, and provided they are flexible and prepared to examine their work self critically, they will acquire the necessary experience and foresight that will enable them to avoid the ordinary pitfalls and pick their way ahead amidst the throb of events.” The ownership of fallibility in this passage is relevant to anyone in any situation. The ownership of responsibility and preparedness to accept, forgive, and move on, with a lessons’ seed firmly implanted in the mind and heart, growth and change can take root. How would life be different here on earth if people in powerful positions held the values and ethics that foster this view? This could be anyone from older siblings and parents to corporate, political and religious leaders.
Like it or not we are influenced by that which we place our attention on. Life is filled with role models and leaders and each one of us is a role model and leader to those in our personal world. How do you do life? Who influences your thoughts, emotions, and actions? I am aware of being influential and of many different influences on me. Some of them conditioned and not necessarily poised in the greatest of values or intentions. As my self-awareness grows and my intentions become firmly devoted in loving kindness and compassion, I become more conscious of when “less than helpful” thoughts, emotions, and actions arise. I become more aware as my judgments, prejudices, and unkindness pops up to show me I am not perfect. Then the challenge is to practice loving kindness and compassion to myself, to heal, and to see how I might choose to do life differently next time.
An observation noted in the pages of this book is that Nelson Mandela most often carried a note book with him throughout his adult life. He was often seen taking notes. Many of these notes have been introspective along with practical memos etc. Over the last week I have been motivated to write more of my thoughts down in my journal and take notes of my thoughts as I read, reinforcing something I already knew to be true. The practice of keeping a journal is a very powerful tool to expand self-awareness. Reading how Mandela was a note taker and then reading some of his musings reignited my enthusiasm for my journal practice. The act of writing thoughts down helps integrate self-awareness into our being, rather than a thought that rushes past on the whisper of a breeze felt gently, and gone again in an instant. There are many different ways to keep a journal: hand written, computer documents, artistic creations, voice recording, and ways I haven’t even thought of. Getting our thoughts out into a space where they can be explored and perhaps expanded upon facilitates our understanding and acceptance of what our personal traits really are. We can also discern how these traits have been beneficial as well as detrimental. A journal can be a private affair, a love affair with ourselves, an opportunity to communicate, argue, make up, and befriend every aspect of self. I have the distinct impression that Nelson Mandela learned much about himself along the way and his very public life demonstrated evolution and growth. As I read Conversations with Myself, I imagine his note taking was highly influential.
I choose role models, and leaders who exemplify living a life I aspire to live. I model them as far as I am able and to the extent it feels relevant to me. I also recognise that I am unique and it is the values that I choose to emulate and so I will at times work at the methods and practices a leader uses to live out their values. Role models I choose could be dear friends, family, colleagues, and not limited to global personalities. The impact of unity, kindness, helpfulness, and goodness is the model I wish to have as my influence on my world.
Nelson Mandela was headed down a path of terrorism. Had he not been captured and jailed I wonder how far his acts of violence and terrorism would have continued. Thankfully his path changed and evolved into a process of freedom through peaceful influences, rather than retaliation and notoriety through attacking the enemy. We all live and hopefully learn. We all have the potential for terrorism; just as we all have the potential for peace and love. I am grateful for Nelson Mandela, his imperfections, his evolution, his words of wisdom and his legacy. May he rest in peace…