Consider your life here to be a hostage situation:
You feel deeply inspired to move in a new direction with your life: new relationship, new career, new place to live, or new Spirit based purpose. You don’t have to think about this shift, you feel it in bliss, joy and deep trust. You just KNOW it. When it calls to you, you see glimpses of it brewing up from the depths of your being! This is the language of Your Soul.
Now what is the first thing that happens after this occurs? The ego hijacks this inspired experience through whispering: “How are you going to do that? Where are you going to get the money and time and support for it? Who do you know who has done this already? Well, that never worked for anyone I know. That’s just a pipe dream! You can’t do that!!!!
Sound familiar, what do you feel now?
Welcome to the world of your ego! In the eyes of Spirit, the ego is a terrorist. It’s first line of defense against New Year’s resolutions like those above is TERRORISM through constant reacting! Most ego’s REACT to change. To React the ego Re-Enacts previous terrifying experiences it has had along the way to protect us from having that happen again! But has the ego actually lived through those terrifying experiences? Well, maybe not. But it certainly has witnessed or heard about these happening to someone close to it. Well, maybe not someone close, but, but, someone! Anyone?
Because let’s face it, most of what the ego is afraid of didn’t even happen to US or someone we know intimately. It happened to someone we heard about, but we actually didn’t even know that person. Someone we read about, but where and when? Surely, it happened to someone and someone and someone else! Right? To this line of inquiry the ego reacts with, “Whatever! I’m just trying to protect us from failing and what could be wrong with that?”
Nothing except that to provide us with its protection, the ego assumes the worst will happen to us and it must constantly remind us of just what failure looks, sounds and feels like, constantly! This is terrorism. If we lived with a partner that spoke to us like our ego, we could report them to the police for abuse. But who you gonna call to get the ego removed from your “home”?
The Soul has four ways of dealing with this terrorist ego, Time, Presence, Inspiration and Remembrance. The Soul definitely doesn’t deal with the ego through Negotiation! That’s because like all Terrorists, the ego is defensive, manipulative, and dangerous- to itself and others. Because of this, the Soul knows- There is no negotiating with Terrorists!
Like experienced hostage negotiators, the Soul has dealt with the ego before, millions of times. It knows how the ego works, knows its cravings, its weaknesses and inevitably it knows that in Time, the ego will cave. How does the Soul make the ego cave? This is the Soul’s next terrorist tool: Presence. The Soul makes its presence known to the ego over and over and over again. In HeartPath Spiritual Coaching and Direction we see this through “Tracking” events that happen. These are the synchronicities, coincidences, animal encounters and strange messages that just keep showing up! These are Soul’s signatures left all over the ego’s world; the Soul’s way of assuring the ego,
“Dear ego, I Got This! ” The SOUL!
Eventually, the ego will relinquish its hold on our awareness, allow the Soul to step onto center stage and ego will fall back into its appointed role, Servant to the Master Soul. But not to worry ego, when you are in service to the Soul you receive what you have needed all along- Inspiration! Inspiration is the Soul’s ace in the hole.
Inspiration comes from the Latin, Inspiriatio, In Spirit! It is the Soul that gives us what we are truly longing for here, the act of bringing our spirit into this world! As reflected in the Christian Bible:
Then the LORD God formed humans from the dust of the ground and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, and the humans became living beings.
The Soul knows that the ego is forgetful. Though it is eager to cherish these moments of inspiration, it is quick to forget them and succumb to the fears and doubts that it has become accustomed to living with 24/7. No worries ego, the Soul has patience and it can wait a thousand years. For the Soul knows that the ego changes through Remembrance! Over time ego slips into forgetfulness: forgetting the divine glimpses of love, truth and glory that filled its lungs in that shining moment of inspired living; yesterday, last month, last year, just a moment ago.
We can help the Soul’s dealing with our beloved terrorist- ego- by immersing ourselves in the practices of meditation, chanting, service, inquiry and worship to cultivate Remembrance. Through constantly remembering our own divinity, we remember the ego’s true function in this life, to move from Master to servant. Mastery is the Soul’s job and it does it by breathing the love and light of life into our ego. The Soul rehabilitates the ego and teaches it how to move from a mere existence as a self centered terrorist into a willing and eager servant of the Soul.
Through the Soul’s rehabilitation and reeducation programs of Time, Presence, Inspiration and Remembrance the ego awakens from its nightmare of terrorizing us with guilt over the past and fear of the future. Ego bows down to the real experience of living in the present moment, right here, right now: bathing in the light of freedom.
What more could a human being ask for?
Numbing Out, Disconnection, Isolation, Divorce: these are just some of the synonyms for the word Dissociation-
Partition, Disunion, Dis-join: these are some of the synonyms for the word detachment- freedom from prejudice or partiality.
Recently my kid’s mom wrote me and asked for something. She had done something before this that really pissed me off so my first reaction was to begin typing out all the reasons I would never agree to what she asked! NO! Poised to respond in kind, my partner walked into the room and asked, “What’s Up?” After telling her, she said, “Hm, I wonder what you are believing her request means?”
I have come to realize that these invitations are priceless for my inner work. Though my initial reaction to my wife’s invitation was, “Nah, I know what I’m doing so I am going to send this email!”Instead I paused to check inside and see what really was “Up” with me? It was then that I realized I was dissociating- splitting off from my inner feelings and forgetting my intention and my connection to the experience of pure consciousness. In the next instant, my partner offered, “well, if you do write back, you may just want to be honest about what you are feeling and see how that goes.” I love how when we are clear, we can recognize simple directions straight from the divine.That is exactly what I did.
My spiritual path has been a regular immersion into these pairs of opposites- Detachment vs. Dissociation. Nine times out of ten, when I react to something it is a sure sign that I am dissociating- cutting myself off from my own inner feelings and thus my living connection with the unconditional love and security of pure consciousness. It’s not that I deny my feelings, especially powerful ones like anger and grief, but when I react, I re-enact scenarios in my head that caused the dissociation in the first place. I experience detachment as a pause. When I give myself the time to connect to that ocean of compassion that is always flowing through me, I feel clear, calm and connected. With this approach, time and again I realize that I am able to effortlessly bring that love and compassion into my actions; sharing it with everyone, even my kids mom (and in my case, that is really saying something!)
In my twenty years of Coaching and Spiritual Direction with people, I have observed that a lot of us are hesitant to embrace detachment because we are afraid of being perceived as indifferent. You know like, “ I will be seen as uncaring”, or “people walk all over you if you don’t stand up to them!” However it is our natural response to detach from pain before we engage in high stress situations, we just need to remember to do it! Emergency room doctors, therapists and even parents know that some degree of detachment is necessary when we want to be fully present in times of crises. Our task is to learn to take the same approach when dealing with our own inner crises.
First, like an Emergency Room Doctor, when we encounter ourselves in acute stress we can pause and take a breath. Imagine yourself coming upon a car accident, first you would acknowledge the mess and then you would ask for help and assess the damage at hand.Is this an artery cut or superficial wound? In my case, it clearly was superficial and just pausing to accept my wife’s help alerted me to that reality. Another important factor to distinguish between dissociating or detaching is when detaching we seek out the guidance and help of trusted loved ones; when dissociating we go in alone! This is a very important distinction because the more we check our assumptions with others, the faster we learn to catch ourselves before we act out heavy/negative emotions on others. And yes, like the unruly patient, our ego won’t always accept that we are even in an emergency much less accept guidance and advice from people who care for us. That is another “benny” for practicing detachment,we break our ego’s hold on our perceptions- a supreme blessing for any spiritual aspirant.
Secondly, like my partner showing up at the perfect moment to offer her wise question, we can track who and what shows up to help when we are falling into the grip of dissociation. Learning to recognize these God-cidences after the fact strengthens our ability to track them the next time we are faced with a similar situation. Third, we create new neural pathways that will open us to more inner peace in each present moment.In this way we become a conduit or guide for remaining present for others when they get hijacked by their own dissociation patterns.
Dissociation in the face of fear is human. Practicing detachment when this occurs is Divine. Remember, detachment is a win/win for everyone!
Pain is inevitable in this life. If there is a body, there is pain. Be it physical, emotional or mental, the potential for pain awaits us at every turn.
Why? Why is pain inevitable? The great poet Kahlil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Pain is the experience of realizing our Truth. Pain awakens us to our own spiritual path. Want to know where you are on your path to enlightenment? Look at how you deal with your pain. Our own individual experience of Self love awakens through shedding the layers of denial and illusion that keep us numb; numb to our pain and therefore love. Like the snake shedding it’s skin, shedding our illusions is painful because we have to rub up against the pillars of our sacred beliefs (disguised as Truth) that we cling to so dearly: our children’s love and acceptance, our perceived financial stability, our partner’s fidelity, the list goes on and on and on.
Recently I met a student who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. When we last spoke she told me of the tremendous pain she lived with 24/7 after learning of her partner’s infidelity. Initially, her mind screamed, “Leave Him”! Everywhere she turned, family and friends echoed this wisdom. But this wasn’t the first time this had happened in her life and leaving husband number one obviously didn’t prevent it from happening with number two, track that. Her pain was so present in our conversation that it awakened me to my own brushes with unyielding pain. I watched the familiar dance between grief and anger, resentment and the longing to forgive. What can you say to someone when they are in the thick of it all? Unyielding pain overwhelms us, confirms our powerlessness and opens the mind to the ravages pain has left in our soul.
When we met again, I was pulled into her eyes. The white halo around her brilliant blue irises held me in her gaze. Strong and yet soft, no words were needed to convey the wisdom and joy left in the wake of her battle with her pain. When she finally spoke, she mused about the transformation as only one who has shed her own skins could, “I am totally different,” she spoke silently, almost to herself. “We’re still together, but it’s different now. We laugh like we have never laughed, even before the affair. He listens now, and so do I. Oh, I’ll still keep him up all night with the questions: Why, When, Where, How? But he answers, honestly and he doesn’t gripe about me keeping him up til morning. I love him for that and I love me for daring to keep asking. I don’t know when we’ll be finally over it, but I don’t think of that. I love that we have gone through this together. It isn’t pretty, but we have gone through it together.”
She ended by sharing pain’s ultimate gift of love: going through it together, opened her to new ways of thinking like: what kind of teaching she is giving her kids, her community, what legacy will she leave her grand-kids by choosing to be with her pain instead of running from it? When we surrender our heart to pain’s firm grip, we see our story shaped into a precious scripture for others to savor, to grow through witnessing. We are never alone, there are always others watching and learning from how we walk our path, especially our paths of pain.
Think about it. When have you truly known that you were alive? When you were in love and when you were in pain. For most of us our path into aliveness flowed in that order- love led to pain. That is until we embrace the lessons like this student- true love cannot be found outside in the arms of anyone, only inside our own self, in our own Heart. Pain is what releases our grip on that which is not true and opens us to embrace what is left behind, our own Self and that is love. What is left after pain pries our fingers free from all that is not us? love, true love. Like an impression burned into the record of our life, once we are free from the grasping, clinging, bargaining, and burning, love plays sweetly for us.
Love is what is left in the wake of embracing our constant companion- pain. Until then, Love Hurts. The choice is ours.
The light of the Heart nurtures, endures, cares and cures. The Heart’s light is a beacon and balm for all; not just seekers but for those who shun the very light that sustains all life. The Heart’s light envelopes everyone.
Turning to the light is the most important act we perform in our day. It is a very simple practice but as many, many people are now discovering, it is not always easy. Turning to the light is turning our awareness within instead of “without”. Turning to the light means keeping the heart open in the face of stress, loss and pain. Turning to the light means guarding against closing our hearts above all else. Turning to the light is the practice of the peaceful warrior.
The reason we meditate is to cultivate the discipline of turning to the light. When we chant, the mind is naturally tuned to the light and we remember, again, how to live from the heart. We track our experiences in the world in order to recognize how the light is guiding us for yet another day. When we turn to the light, we remember how natural it is to love one another in good times and bad.
Turning to the darkness in this world, seeing the darkness in other people, has now become a habit for us. All habits are easy to sustain. For many of us, turning to the darkness has declined from a habit to a trap. For example, we wake up in the morning and the sky is overcast with clouds, cold rain is drizzling over everything and the stinging wind pierces our skin as the door opens. Without thinking, we turn to the darkness inside- gloomy thoughts, dreadful feelings and hesitant steps are what we have to offer life on this new day. Our creativity is obscured, our natural, joyful light dims before we even get out of the house. A few days of this scenario and we forget the light entirely.
We open Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google news in search of the light only to be greeted by a river of violence, hatred, fear, revenge and empty sex. Dressed with new characters, we see the same scenes playing before us everyday. We are trapped in reflections of human darkness. Habituated to the darkness, we miss the thousand and one invitations to leave our dread filled dramas and turn to the light. Pretty soon, today looks the same as yesterday, no change in our inner forecast, no chance of light today!
” There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground. There are a thousand ways to go home again.” ~Rumi
Of course as responsible citizens we need to stay up to date with current events. But a steady diet of darkness is not healthy for us or our planet. Seeing this simple fact and resolving to change our habit is the first step in turning to the light. Then we need only act on this resolution, today! No matter how long ago we stopped turning to the light, we can just begin again today, here, now. Isn’t this the only way true change happens, beginning again and again and again? When we let go of marking our progress and just begin our practice today, we see how simple it is to turn to the light.
We can begin our meditation practice for just five minutes today. We can chant or sing to our favorite uplifting song today. We can dress for the weather and actually fulfill our resolution to walk today. We can discard or give away the sweets in our cupboard and fridge and begin to eat more fruits and vegetables today. We can put time limits on our social media today. We can stop waiting for the world to give us light and be the light, just for today. We can? Yes, we can, just for today.
Today we can feed our heart and soul with light! Remember, the only spiritual practice we need for joy, love and contentment to blossom in our life is to turn to the light! One day at a time we become like sunflowers and spend our day turning our smiling faces to the thousand opportunities for recognizing the light. How? Truly looking at and thanking our waiter or waitress, our bus driver, our kids, our parents, our self for giving all they do to us. How? Pausing to listen when we are spoken to, listening not to the tone but the actual words that are being spoken. That is turning to the light. When we are yelled at or ignored by a stranger, remembering that we cannot know the burden they are carrying and saying nothing. That is turning to the light. As we do this every new day, it becomes our new habit and spreads light into every new moment. We will see that this light nurtures, endures, cares and cures us and others from the habits of the dark. The light leads us. The light guides us. The light blesses us in every moment! When we turn to the light, the light turns to us. After all, is there anything greater to give this world today, everyday?
Turning to the light is the most important act in our day. Just try it and see for yourself, today!
Most of us start out on our chosen path because we had some kind of Awakening experience. As if we were magically lifted up and out of the mire of our inner turmoil, the Awakening stage is the honeymoon of our HeartPath journey. Since everything unfolds so naturally in an authentic awakening, there is really no practice necessary in this stage. Waves of gratitude fill our days and nights, we effortlessly see God/Goddess in everyone and our attachments decrease so fully that we think we’ll never crave a glass of wine, a new relationship or correct someone ever again!
For most of us our beautiful liftoff does level out and it is necessary to stretch our wings and start flapping to maintain something close to our initial altitude. Yes, our previous issues, attachments and aversions begin to rear their ugly heads again. To fully detach from them we adopt practices. On the HeartPath these issues are known as samskaras– imprints or impressions left behind on the mind from previous experiences. Attachment to samskaras is the cause of karma or current life experiences. The HeartPath practices of intention setting, symbolic tracking, inquiry and Kundalini initiations are designed to clear these samskaras and fix our awareness on the transpersonal Heart; that ever present space between “mind states” .
The process of detaching from the samskaras is called tapasya- burning. Since few yoga students or meditators are schooled in how to tolerate Kundalini’s burning of our samskaras, this can be very uncomfortable. Many of us are familiar with our everyday surface samskaras: impatience with our kids or partner, intolerance for the non-yogis among us, even judgments we have toward ourselves. But once a true awakening has been launched, the flood gates open and our Samskara Game Lords come out in full force. As Kundalini rises and spreads her divine light through our chakras- energy centers- she awakens us to the deepest shadows of our being and their true influence on all of our relationships. The shock of coming out of the initial bliss of awakening and into this stage of self realization causes many of us to temporarily abandon our resolve for freedom and coast back into a life of attachment to our limited beliefs and behaviors and aversion to the very meditative practices and connections that facilitated our awakening in the first place.
Depending on the intensity of our longing, for most of us this is the “longest” stage in the awakening process. Even if we have abandoned the cushion or yoga mat, Kundalini will continue to subtly guide us into “tracking events” where we will be exposed to the Heart’s light over and over again. Random encounters with fellow students or teachers, stumbling upon books, movies or websites about the spiritual path, heart opening contacts with animals and children are all guiding events for surrender to the tapasya process. As our little flame is kindled over and over, we adopt an attitude of surrender and willingly participate in the purification. This is when we really take flight!
As we surrender the ego to this stage of awakening, a humbling event for sure, our inner longing for the sustained love and joy we experienced in the beginning grows brighter. Like building a fire- the fire of the Heart- we first start with little acts of surrender – committing to a regular meditation or yoga practice. In time we add more practices like regular journaling, contemplation and tracking of our own actions in review of life events- until our conscious awareness is consumed by the Heart’s direction. Immersion in the Heart calls for full surrender to the fire and absolute willingness for the burning of all our samskaras. This stage, like all the others, only arises when the student is ready.
Like gold being pulled from the goldsmith’s fire, the after glow of tapasya yields prolonged states of freedom, love and conscious awareness of the dreamlike nature of life and death. As our “time” in the fire dwindles, realization of our own divinity dawns quite naturally. Our obsession with fixing ourselves and others shifts to an acceptance, even a loving, of what simply is- Life. Instead of working for change, we see life is about serving and rejoicing in the small changes that naturally return us to the Heart. Now that our inner obstacles have been consumed in love’s fire, there is less time spent thinking about our life; thus creating less attachments or samskaras. More awareness is guided to tracking the inner and outer signs and clues that effortlessly guide us and others, whether they see them or not.
Jesus the Christed One, said: Be Like Little Children. Without the weight of our samskaras, the dross of our golden being, we see this life through a pure 24 carat lens. The “world” returns to its original play or dream like phenomenon that we all lived in as children. Though we continue to engage with our adult responsibilities, that return to childlike awareness is suffused with bliss and wisdom. Wisdom that constantly reminds us that the Heart knows our path and bliss as we willingly follow it. There is nothing to do and no one to save. Everyone is walking the path to the Heart at their own pace.
Aren’t we blessed to walk with them?