Reflections From My True Self

Remembering Who I Really Am


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Spacious

I sit before Helene, observing, as she moves her familiar, old fear out of her body. Softly, my voice guides her. She pours the energy out with ease. Then she speaks of a new experience of inner spaciousness. 

I feel a thrill, hearing a change in her voice, a new lightness. I ask if there is a word she will be able to return to later, that will remind her of this process, bring her back to this moment of creating new space within her.  

She closes her eyes, quiet, attentive to what arises.

And when she nods, I request that she spell it out loud. Her voice is lilting in its response: U.R.N.  I think, “Urn.”

But her sudden laughter startles me, and she chortles, “Make it a long u, like saying: you.” Then, laughing, Helene says the word. And, hearing it, I laugh, too!

Her Self extends, as a reminder of spaciousness, the spelling of this word that sounds exactly like “yearn.

Together, we laugh gratitude and joy, for the Wisdom that offers this gift!

Photo by Michal Zacharzewski / RGBstock

Photo by Michal Zacharzewski / RGBstock


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Honoring My Self

If I am to honor my Self, I must be willing to feel, willing to become familiar with the dark places, with the shape of my fear. 

Honoring my Self means offering myself compassion, gentleness and generosity, although my habit is harshness and cold.

It means celebrating the myriad gifts that are constantly coming my way.

Honoring my Self means strengthening my energy so that I can choose discomfort when ease, even when I know it harms me, tempts me.

It means committing to my practice of stillness so that the noise of confusion can become quiet, and the Wisdom that resides within me can emerge in my awareness.

Honoring My Self means using the tools I have acquired, instead of simply contemplating them.

Especially, it means remembering that I am greater than my thoughts, greater, also, than this instant, and yet, simultaneously, very much in it.

Photo Credit: Lars Sundström

Photo Credit: Lars Sundström


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Sometimes Quiet Doesn’t Come

Sometimes quiet doesn’t come. Even though I do everything that I should. I sit in the same place as so many times when I have achieved it. The door is closed, there is no noise, my eyes remain shut, a white sheet drawn over my thoughts. But images push their way into my mind’s eye, a story engages me and I find myself so taken that I forget it is a ruse and I gallop off with it.

Then I remember, rein myself in, allow the story to drift off without me. My third eye blazes in my forehead. My energy is aligned, flowing freely.

And all that notwithstanding, still, the white noise roars on in my ears.

Sometimes quiet doesn’t come. Sometimes, the stillness through which the directions of my soul can be unveiled seem out of reach.

Then, I have to tell myself that my efforts must suffice, that this is the equivalent of a silent “no” from my Self. I have to tell myself that I will sit again tomorrow, and perhaps the noise will lessen, or the story will be colorless.

I rise with a sigh, and go on with my day.

And sometimes, that is all.

And sometimes, when I finally step out my door, the sunlight drips through the tree with such radiance, it lights up the  blooming tulips, their green velvet leaves, and the loamy soil beneath them, and, unexpectedly, the quiet is spilling within me and the world is suddenly, splendidly, transformed.

tulips


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A Practice of Sharing Good News

I have a natural tendency, which I can trace back at least as far as adolescence, to notice what feels challenging. It turns out I have been keeping a mental list of everything that I thought has gone “wrong,” of every ill feeling I’ve had, regardless of how fleeting. And I have been keeping this list just beyond the surface of my consciousness, so that it feels almost like a secret I have kept from myself! I am, apparently, exceptionally skilled at this tracking of all that would weigh me down, hold me back, feed my self-pity.

So it is truly a blessing to have acquired a spiritual practice of noticing and sharing the good news of the week with a companion of my Spirit, every Monday evening. Often, I will start out not knowing very clearly if there has even been any good news to share. But as soon as I enter the space of sharing, it comes to me, flooding me with awarenesses of the wonderful, important occurrences. The visit this week of a dear friend, whom I haven’t seen in years definitely qualifies as important, good news. But the awarenesses include the small things that do so much to nourish my soul from moment to moment, such as reading a blog about a widow’s reluctance to share her still fresh grief a few years after her husband’s death, and finding a slew of comments of encouragement and compassion that renew my sense of connection with strangers. Or the chance encounter I have with a house finch when I step out of my car, noticing how colorful his feathers have become, and my day seems suddenly brighter than a moment before.

Regardless of what I may have been feeling when we begin retelling our good news, sharing it is one of the most powerful ways I know to lift my mood. Hearing the news of my friend, and the genuine feelings of celebration it elicits could be another item on my list to share! And even beyond that, looking back at all the wonderful experiences of the week balances out that tendency I have to keep an accounting of all I did not like, it reminds me that there is even more to celebrate than that which I am remembering, and that, when that tendency I mentioned earlier kicks in, I have only to shift my focus to tap into the energy of recognizing my blessings.

And there are more gifts from this practice! One of its highlights is sharing the challenges I am experiencing at the moment through the lens of good news. It’s so easy to be caught up in an energy of struggle, to focus on the distance between where I am and where I want to be. Speaking of the challenge as good news reminds me of what I am receiving by being where I am, and by the process of getting where I am going. And those are blessings easily missed, with only the bigger, more colorful ones being rescued by hindsight. Sharing good news is my way of harvesting every blessing and allowing gratitude to fill me.

Photo Credit: ©lusi (sanja gjenero) at RGBStock.com

Photo Credit: ©lusi (sanja gjenero) at RGBStock.com


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Answer For My Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Yesterday, when you wanted me to be available to you and I asked you to wait as I finished taking some time for myself, you asked me why I always need so much time for myself. I wanted to give you a thoughtful answer, and this is it.

I love being a mother. I love being your mamá.

Being mamá, for me, means that in a big way I am always holding energy for you and for our family. It means that I am always aware and alert, prepared for what you, what our family, may need (and, sometimes, want) from me. This can be beautiful, but it can also be very tiring.

Besides, in our family, being mamá means having a lot of other tasks. You know some of them. I am usually the one who makes your meals, I make sure there is soap in the bathrooms. Others, you may not be aware of, like staying in touch with your teachers or coordinating our family’s activities, or helping build a community around you. These are just a very few of those tasks. There’s a lot of them, and, no matter how much I may enjoy them, there’s really no vacation from them, even when we are off somewhere fun and far away!

I love my role as mamá. But I am much more than that. And I need to take care of my whole Self. Taking care of my Self, for me, means doing what I feel I need to do so that my soul, my heart, my mind, and my body feel healthy, at peace, and joyful as I am doing everything I need to do as mamá, as a wife, as a worker, a friend, and all my other roles.

To take care of myself, I need silence and stillness every day. I need to give thanks and pray. I need to be aware of my own energy, to allow my thoughts, ideas, my dreams to surface. I need to give myself time, to tell the little girl that lives inside me, that is part of me, that she is important and deserves my attention, too. She needs me to be creative, to embroider and make things up. I need to be alone in Nature, to listen to the Wind and feel the Earth. I need to read books that engage me, and do exercise. I need to connect with the people I love, one on one. All of that, and even more, is what I need to care for my Self.

I want you to see me fulfilling my needs so that, as you and your brother grow, you have great clarity and courage to care for your Self well, in all the ways that you need, regardless of whether someone tries to make you feel it is indulgent or selfish, so that you can feel joy and peace in the life you are building.

I need so much time for me because I love myself so much and because I love you so much. I do it, first, for myself, and second, for you. May you, too, care very, very well for your Self.

I love you, my heart, you are precious to me, always,

Mamá

©Sanja Gjenero at RGBStock.com


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Aimless

After concentrating my energy with great, intense focus, no longer doing so leaves me feeling unmoored. As if I were drifting aimlessly.

This gives me such discomfort! I would like to turn away from this unease immediately.

Nonetheless, I make a choice. I will sit with this discomfort.

And, sitting with it, I am reminded: “aimless” is either impossible, or it is intrinsic.

Impossible, intrinsic… in practical terms, both have the same effect.

I am, after all.

This awareness allows quietude within me. And from the quietude, something bubbles into my consciousness: the intention to remain vigilant, awake.

Photo credit: Colin Brough at RGBstock.com


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Repetitious

It is the repetitious in my life that dulls the edges and allows me to be only partially present. The routines of each day mean that I can walk through it without thought, without awareness. I will find myself brushing my teeth, even if I don’t plan to do it. I will pack lunches. I will drive to school and back. I could sleepwalk through my day.

And yet, the repetitious also brings me back to myself. The start of my practice, in its physical rhythm of pouring a little water on the bamboo, lighting the incense and the candle, is my call to awaken to my Self. My days are peppered with moments like this: Before I cook, I connect to the food, to the ones it will feed. When I strap myself into the car, I am washed by the flood of awe that I get to drive it. When I sit at my computer, before I write, my hands on the keyboard remind me to straighten my back, to call on my essence to enter fully into my awareness and guide my thoughts.

I think of those who are dealing with their lives breaking open, or are trying to shape it back together. It is the repetitious that will save them from the utter blank of despair. The pang of hunger that needs feeding, the child that needs tending, the light of day breaking through the blinds… some day there will be beauty in the rays for them again.