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Will You Be Fear Free in 2014?

 

"Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day." --Brendan Francis

 

She told me her pledge for 2014 is to be fearless.

"I envisioned what my life would look like if I were fearless," she said, "and was astonished to see how I'm holding myself back."

"If you state your goal with a positive spin," I offered, "and strive to be courageous and brave, your mind won't take you to the negative: fear."

Swept up by her enthusiasm and the power of the notion, I thought, I'll act courageously in 2014!

As soon as the thought occurred my abdomen tightened and the clutch in my heart locked up. To me courageous means opening a vein to write with unadulterated honesty. Scares the hell out of me—so much so I often can't write.

Common wisdom says face your fear. Challenge it. Jump off the cliff with a hang glider attached to your back. Crawl into a small, dark space without light. Query the editor of a magazine you want your piece published in.

Another approach is to relax into the fear or take it in small doses until you build up your tolerance and courage. Like, you don't have to jump in, just put your toes in the pool.

I enjoy a challenge, am not intimated to try new things, and have usually found a storehouse of confidence backed by an iron will. All of which proved that persistence is a powerful mover into action and fear-shaker.

I've flung myself into business start ups without guarantee of income flowing for many months. I stared horror in the face, calm and collected, when I picked up my screaming two-year-old brother the moment a German Sheppard bit off his nose. I spoke out and published writings about oppression of the women in an international religious organization (read: lots of "big" people around the world were against me) and, even after receiving a death threat and public name-bashings, continued strong.

My persnickety problem: A fear of being abandoned lingers to this day. The fear that I'm not good enough haunts me.

I'm good at giving myself pep talks, and write and say affirmations that grow powerful by being grounded in spiritual truths I hold dear. In fact, I'm quite convincing when speaking to others about what constitutes a healthy view of the self.

Yet at times a core unworthiness surfaces and won't depart even after I pull out my full repertoire. My love-mantra soothes most fears, even the big fear of death, because I have regular experience of a welcoming location and company beyond this world. But even my sincerest mantra petitioning has not always appeased these fears about my worth and failure.

At that time, I drop my beads and helplessly yell in my mother tongue with a crackling voice, O Lord please take my fears!

Helplessly dependent is actually a good place to be. When I go there wholly much of what is amiss gets sorted out.

Still the fear of failure (which, evidently, my subconscious loosely defines variously by some vague conception that changes at different  times, and which I only become aware of after I'm paralyzed) and the fear of being unworthy can shove competent, confidant me to the ground in a pile real quick.

Fear is not an easy foe to do battle with.

This morning I didn't bother trying: my work with it the past week wasn't shifting things. For a half an hour, as I laid in bed after a restless night, I began thanking Radha for everything in my life: the cotton sheets, the quiet house, the line of oak trees, healthy food, air, the computer, my ability to think, ten working fingers, and a long list of physical and spiritual experiences and relationships. Getting up from bed I thanked God for warm water in the shower, my magnesium roll-on supplement, socks, no pain in my body. . .

Surprisingly, after forty-five minutes it became evident my thank-you mantras had no end.

Then I noticed the fear was gone.

Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day.
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Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/brendanfra105125.html#EvcipQwYlZVK1FaG.99

When Hope Disappears

"Hope in a Prison of Despair" by Evelyn De Morgan

A girlfriend committed suicide last night.

If she could see the profuse tears streaming down the faces of those who loved her would she rethink her decision?

I haven't spoken with K.  in more than a decade. Why, then, do I cry? Because I couldn't help her and feel how alone she must have felt in the hours before she departed.

My heart is splitting open because I know her pain.

The pain that can shred and rip and tear unrelentingly until I run and scream and pound my fists, "I don't want to live! I don't want to live!"

The physical, mental, or emotional pain is so acute, so dense, so persistent that I can rush toward death and embrace it blindly, willingly, as if my rescuer. That which I avoid at all costs in health, and go to great measures not to even acknowledge my life long, in despair I clutch and seize and beg, Take me now!

An inner cloud forms and begins to hide all those who love me. It covers reason, and removes from my memory the floods and drops of happiness that I have experienced until that moment.

I cry because having stood at that edge and looked into that chasm, I know I'm capable—if circumstances would push that hard again—of taking my life too (no, I'm not suicidal, I'm getting to a point).

What frightens me more than that I could, under right conditions, commit suicide—and I suspect everyone has a breaking point—is that any number of events could happen at any moment and bring me to the edge. In short, I'm not in control.

The frightening problem is the universal experience of living life: there is suffering.

Sometimes there is unmitigated suffering that cannot be removed by kind words, a loving touch, positive mental outlook, philosophical or religious discourse, pain killers, or drugs. Sometimes we are meant to be with acute suffering.

Admittedly if someone holds our hand and sits with us, or shows a perspective we inherently know is true or possible, we're better equipped to build a bridge across chasms that we inevitably stand over in life.

As with many matters of substance and seriousness, there is no magic pill. No secret to end suicides. Sometimes fear alone is enough to keep someone from taking the step of ending their life. There is the hard work of spiritual practices and mental health hygiene that helps many.

As I looked out the window feeling K's pain and despair, I was curious if contemplating the wonder of life could have shifted the outcome. What if she had held a newborn, a newly blossomed, brightly colored flower, or hugged a pet, or viewed a high-speed video of a blade of grass growing—

When I've reached my chasms, in addition to the screaming and pounding and running, and staring at a pile of pills in my palm, I've cried, Krishna! Krishna! Radha be with me! to evoke the mercy and grace beyond me that inevitably fills me when all other shelters fail.

Perhaps there's no way around the apparent: we need all the help we can get from wherever we can find even a small candle of light.

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars"

Ralph Waldo Emerson

May light and love always be in your world,

P.S. When I received word K. was no longer with us, I held the energy of her self in my hands, and set intentions for her to be carried on her journey safely and with love to a brighter future. At any time--in life and in death--we can send loving intention and feelings to someone in need. The affectionate intention of the directed heart has a powerful impact anywhere its energy is sent. So hold someone you care for, even if you can't be with them, in your hands with love. They will receive life affirming energy.

For Wise Women Who Love Life: Down With Crone

Read my latest essay that Rebelle Society published today, and enter the dialogue to come up with a new word for "crone." The article has hit a nerve.

So far I like Wisdame, Shamama, Mage, and Wow [Wise Older Woman].

There's quite a list developing! Besides the thread on Rebelle in the link above, check out Rebelle's FaceBook and my FaceBook for more comments and suggestions for a word choice.

 

In The Body of the World

 
Embodying Heaven & Earth is a new daily ritual for me.
 
Until I reached my 40s I hated my body--and myself. Since I was eight I had my hands and vision stretched toward the heavens. I despised my body; I hated that I was a woman.
 
My ritual Connecting Heaven & Earth is part of an energy exercise routine from Donna Eden. (See below my name for a description how to do the exercise.)
 
You will feel yourself taking in heaven, grounding in earth then coming to a rest with your Self at your heart. 
 
The physical movements encourage me toward an ideal in consciousness and thus practice. 
 
Though my belief system taught that the body is a temple and it should be cared for, and I spoke this wisdom to others, I didn't believe it. The body was a distraction and a bother and I abused it through lack of sleep, little food, and physically daunting overwork.
 
I didn't have a palm faced down grounding me to the earth and the physicality of my existence. Though I often folded my  palms is prayer, until recently I had sold myself out and my palms weren't at my heart. I forgot to listen to that sacred part of me.
 
Eve Ensler delivered the keynote speech at the "Emerging Women" conference in Boulder yesterday. To call it riveting would be an understatement, especially her concluding remarks delivered with passion, power and a call to action for one billion people to rise for justice. 
 
Eve began by reading the opening paragraphs from her new memoir In the Body of the World. She is a mighty, fierce, insightful writer.
 
In very visceral, explicit terms, she describes her hatred of her body, why she developed such despise, how she became disembodied, and how, after all these years, she became, finally, embodied through a major surgery, chemotherapy and a long healing journey that riveted her to her body in no uncertain terms. Any complaints of my body vanished as I heard her non-whining recounting of a body failed.
 
With sudden force, she spoke loudly, "If you don't like your body, GET OVER IT! It's a wonderful body!"
 
That wasn't even the riveting part of her talk, though the audience clapped and cheered and I shuddered as her words cut a silhouette of my own journey.
 
The gentle flow of the Heaven & Earth movement in my daily exercise connects me to my precious physical vehicle and Mother Earth; allows me to express the intense desire for my spiritual aspirations; and most importantly, reminds me that coming to my heart to hear my truth and guidance is the way to navigate through my own stupidity—all in about three minutes.
 
Oh, how I wish to spare girls and young women from disembodying or hating their gift--whatever it looks like, whatever their ideal is!
 
 
How to do Connecting Heaven & Earth
 
Place your folded palms in front of your chest at your heart and breathe deeply. Extend one arm up with your open palm flat toward the sky and push against the heavens, while at the same time extending the other arm down with your open palm flat toward the earth and push toward the ground. Look toward the sky and take in a deep breath. Feel the stretch. Exhale and come to a relaxed position where you started with your folded palms at your heart. Repeat by switching the arm extended upward and downward and rest again at your heart. Do three easy sets.

I Got Divorced Today

Native American Divorce
It was an ordinary day. Following last night's overcast skies, rain poured. I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra, hearing the eternal sounds and allowing them to touch my soul. 
 
About an hour into my practice, I set my beads down as tears spilled out when I thought of today's court date to formalize the termination of my twenty-eight-year marriage. My heart turned and recoiled as I faced the need to forever, and once and for all, set aside my long-cherished hope for love between Nog and me. 
 
It's really much more than that. The end of the marriage sears open the underbelly of my belief--an imperative belief--that love is achievable. I squirm with uncertainty. Determinedly I wipe tears and pick up beads in a conscious move to soothe the raw roaring doubt: the foundation of my entire life could be faulty. 
 
I don't call him Nog anymore--unless I slip. I call him Nagaraja, the name I first came to know him by, back when I was a separate person from him, when I still had youth.
 
Arriving late to the courtroom wasn't a subconscious subversive act: a bus stopped for ten minutes at a one-lane section of 6th Street. 
 
A few things stood out in court:
 
1. Couples divorcing sat together.
 
2. The women petitioned the court (is this the pulse of a raging unhappiness consuming so many women in their marriages?) . The men simply agreed when the judge addressed them. All men, but one, appeared mousey.
 
3. The majority of the marriages took place in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The longest marriage (besides mine) was seven years old.
 
4. Several of the men dressed in old jeans and a t-shirt. Most of the women dressed down--a shocking contrast to the Bollywood-type sequined, long dresses at the wedding I attended at the Ritz Carlton last weekend.
 
5. No one was accompanied by other family members--another contrast to the 275 people at the Ritz wedding. Soon to be ex-husband and ex-wife stood alone at a podium as the judge, by rote, inquired,
 
"Were you married on August 2, 2010?" "Yes."
 
"Did you file for a divorce on August 23 of this year?" "Yes."
 
"Have you lived in Florida for more than six months?" "Yes."
 
"Bailiff, collect their driver's licenses. It is noted as issued on February 2, 2011. Is your marriage irretrievably broken?" "Yes."
 
"Is there anything the court can do to help you make amends?" Everyone said, "No,"
I said, "I wish."
 
"Are there any children from the marriage?" "No."
 
"Are you pregnant or expecting?" "No." 
 
"Are you requesting alimony?" "No."
 
"Are there any outstanding debts in the marriage that the court needs to attend to?" "No."
 
"Do you wish to return to your maiden name." Most people did, I didn't. I'll wear "Comtois" like a badge in recognition of a valiant attempt made.
 
"The court hereby dissolves the marriage and you are now single. How do you wish to receive notice of the court's findings?" "By email."
 
Time at the podium: about three minutes. Time in the courtroom for nearly a dozen divorces-- 
 
The meter's thirty-minute red flag rose as I approached the car to begin my journey into answering the query haunting me over the past two years: Can genuine love be found in the material world?  
 
I'm not searching for another relationship, but an approach to living. Damn, I hope I can answer, Yes, and tell you about it.
 
I refuse to give up heart, and pray you have courage too,
 

Secret Teachings of the Heart

 

I've spent the past weeks reading books, devouring more than thirty. One has captured my attention and a section grabbed me today that I want to share with you.
 
The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner is exceptional. Buhner is a brilliant thinker and beautiful writer. He expertly conveys the experience of dropping consciousness from the mind, which he points out is a verbal/intellectual/analytical mode of cognition, to the heart, which is a holistic/intuitive/depth mode of cognition. Through deft chapters he explains how to hold our awareness at the heart for longer periods to experience Nature--and one's Self--more accurately. 
 
This powerful work is not a New-Agey presentation, neither is it religious. I appreciate that we can examine the nature of the heart as more than a pump organ or chamber of personal emotions, but as sense organ meant to inform our experience at a deep level. I also enjoy that the book is chocked full insights as well as quotes from Goethe, Thoreau, Fukuoka, James Hillman, Luther Burbank, Henri Bancroft, a host of others, and refers poignantly to the latest discoveries in neuroscience.
 

Here's the passage I want to share with you because the poetic last paragraph was so lovely to me; the previous paragraphs are for context: 

"They [our ancestors] never knew when they would encounter meaning from the world that was directly pertinent to their own lives. So they allowed meanings from the world to flow into them constantly. They kept their heart-fields extended always, and only paid attention to a specific stream of meaning when it caught their attention. 
 
"When you go deeper into this, you will learn, as they did, to keep the field of your heart extended at all times. You will know that the world is a text that can be read, that meaning is always coming to you. Keeping the heart-field always extended allows us to feel the touch of meaning whenever we encounter it. . . .
 
"And as we deepen our capacity for direct perception, we find that all things are aware, that all are looking at us, that all are communicating with us. And these communications for meaning go deep. They are literally communicative touches of living beings, much more than mere informational bits encoded within words. . . .
 
"In this meaning-filled territory, we engage in a dialogue with the livingness of the world, receive the meanings it sends to us, respond with our own meanings in turn. There is no more intimate act we can know. Engaging in it, we know beyond doubt that we are never alone, that we are companioned by ensouled phenomena as intelligent and real and meaningful as we are. It is literally a return to the roots of life and a reconnection with the living ecosystem from which we are expressed, as only one form among many.
 
"For Universe is not a place but an event, not a collection of solids but an interaction of frequencies. Not a noun but a verb. And though the linear mind can examine parts of Universe through ever greater magnification, the living fabric of its truth can be experienced only with an open heart. The meanings in Universe are available to any who relocate consciousness and begin to perceive with the heart."
 
May you see with your heart,

The Spiritual Calling of Relationships

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Ovals and Ecstasies

Most every morning I walk while chanting the Bhakti mantra on the beach here in St. Augustine. The past month I haven’t taken any hormones, which means walking around on fire day and night. The ocean cools, especially the early morning and early evening.

My schedule has been unpredictable as I get acquainted with my new location, a new bed, and a body without hormones. The unsettling nature of change has allowed me to spend time with Her Ocean in the middle of the night, at sunrise, and at sunset, happily avoiding the heat and crowd of the day.

Crescent Beach. It’s a descriptive name. Face the water and look to your left. About five miles away the beach juts out into the water on the horizon like a left arm embracing the ocean. Look to your right. In an equal distance down the coastline a right arm completes the hug.

As I gaze in both directions at the white-sand-arm’s embrace of the ocean I feel as though I’m standing on a crescent moon.

The sand is w-i-d-e at the center and tapers into points on the horizon as the eyes get closer to the ends of its arms. The adjective “wide” applies to the width of the sandy shore and its length in both directions.

The expanse enthralls. Mystical moments have enfolded while I’ve stood here.

But it’s not exactly the crescent beach that inspires me with awe, a sense that I stand witness to perfection, or causes me to feel embraced and safe. It is the oval I see. There are two parts to the shore, the land and the water. Here on Crescent Beach the marriage of the two creates an oval.

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On Florida’s Love Bugs and Being Alone

You’ve got to scrub them off. Every last one and every last inch of them. Florida’s love-bugs are delicate and always joined with another. They float and land easily, lovingly. All would be well in Florida if love-bugs just stayed out of the way of cars. Their unending deaths on the front of my car and rear view mirrors leave remnants of love that can best be described as a god-awful mess. Not a benign one.

Their black bodies are made of something more tenacious than tar. If you let them stay on the car your paint will be indelibly stained. From what I can tell, if they’re left on long enough of, whatever was in them and their love-making starts eating away at the paint.

So why isn’t there a product to keep them off my car? I have lived peacefully with each love-bug season for the past twenty years, but not this one. I’m driving more.

I’ve ventured out to set up a writing retreat, which means camping on a tile floor in an empty house, close to the ocean to spend glorious mornings and evenings with sand between my toes and sweeping my feet into tepid waters.

I now commute between St. Augustine and Alachua. For two days a week I'm in Alachua to care for Meena (that’s pretense I just have to be with her), stock up on water, do laundry, and pick up a piece of technology, a sweater, or whatever I need in at my campsite in St. Augustine.

I’m relocating to St. Augustine to write. It might kill me but I’m going to write. Okay, I shouldn’t make that statement publicly for many reasons.

Anyway, after making the one-and-a-half hour ride between St. Augustine and Alachua, I have to—sooner or later—remove the love-bugs from the car.

Why is there nothing we can put on cars before leaving our driveway that inhibits or prohibits love-bugs from attaching themselves to us?

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To Vote or Not to Vote, That is the Question

For the person taking an inner journey do politics and spirituality go together? Is it politics and spirituality or politics or spirituality?

For the past year I’ve been following American politics, as well as world politics focusing on issues concerning women. So Marianna Williamson’s recent article Sister Giant: Consciousness and Politics at HuffPo, which partially takes on the questions I posed, caught my attention.

The article is a feeder for the November event “Women, Non-Violence and Birthing a New American Politics,” which aims to encourage more women to enter politics. The logic is that we’ll heal what ails us if we increase women’s participation in politics. We need more heart in governing society.

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