Monthly Archives: October 2014

Walking the Talk

walk the talk
One of his last words to me was, “You talk about loving kindness, but do you really think you apply that in our relationship?”

The thought sat with me for a long time… I didn’t want to admit it.. “No…I didn’t”

In a moment of intense emotions, I said things I now regret. Things I knew would hurt him most. I told him I questioned his sanity. I told him he was insecure and reactive. I gave him the silent treatment for a whole day. And later, I did what I normally do to cope with all this inner turmoil and yuckiness, which is to write about my feelings, knowing full-well that he hates when I publicly write about my personal life.

At the moment I felt justified. This is how I cope. And telling him how I felt about him at the moment was true. He let me down, and I felt he MUST be aware of how I felt. I had to “show” him how hurt I was.

But as I showed him how I was hurting, I was simultaneously hurting him as well. It was like exchanging my pain for his pain. And then I realized that in doing so, I most certainly was not thinking at all about loving kindness. I was not thinking about the feelings of this man I loved.

And the more intense our argument became, the more we spat unloving, condescending, disrespectful words back and forth at each other. We were mean and cold. Yes, two people who genuinely loved each other so very much, did this to one another.

I began to realize, maybe I was justified to say what I said… But did I have to? Was it necessary? Was it helpful? And maybe he was justified to say what he said too. But he didn’t have to. And we both know it is not helpful or necessary. What are we getting out of this verbal slammage? What are we trying to prove?

I don’t think we got anything out of it. But I’ll tell you what we didn’t get though. We didn’t get closer. We didn’t feel very loving. We didn’t feel loved. We didn’t feel cared for, listened to, respected, and we most certainly did not feel very forgiving. In our exchange of verbal aggression, what we walked away with was animosity, anger, resentment, and shame… And what we lost? The very thing we were fighting for… Loving each other.

As I sat there reading his text asking if I really applied all that mumbo-jumbo about loving kindness, and realized that I actually don’t, I felt like I had just walked flat into a mirror face first. It was true… I was not walking my talk. In fact, every time I was presented with the opportunity, I never did… It was always the same pattern of behavior. Silent treatment and blaming the other person. It wasn’t a coping mechanism. It was a defense mechanism. Defending myself from having to deal with that ugly unloving reactive part of me. Regardless of who is at fault, when someone we love does something “unloving” to us, naturally, our first thought is that they don’t really love us. We feel betrayed. We begin to doubt them. We must remember that those feelings go both ways.

You can carry that anger and resentment, and assume that they do not love you. After all, their behavior did absolutely nothing to prove their love to you. Yes, you can stand your ground and demand an apology before (and IF) you forgive them. You can certainly “teach them a lesson” and make them feel bad until you yourself feel just a little bit better…

Or you can understand that they too, are hurting- hurting in some way far deeper than you can or will ever understand, and perhaps they do not know how to lovingly express that fear, anger, resentment, or insecurity… JUST LIKE YOU!

You see, even when there are walls between you, you still are so much alike. You are still so similar. It’s that part that makes us human. We all come with our own stories, and regardless of who the “bad guy is” the way we deal with our disappointments really has nothing to do with the other person, but something deep inside of ourselves.

The thing is, we never truly know what the other person is going through, because, simply, we aren’t them. We are all walking our own path. We feel things differently, we experience things differently, and we process things differently. After remembering this, it occurred to me that I actually was walking my talk. Granted, I wast doing a HORRIBLE job of it, but I had realized that through every failed love, every mistake I’ve made both personally and professionally, I was opening myself up more and more, growing more and more, and changing for the better.

In all my interactions, I had always tried my best to be loving, kind, and compassionate. And yes, in many (*cough* ALL) of them, I failed miserably. But it was the opening and expansion through these mistakes that left my footprints, proving that, indeed, I was walking my talk- and it was precisely that hurt, and pain, and all those grand failures that served as an opportunity to try my “talk” out through real life experiences. And that’s just how it is. We depend on others as mirrors. We depend on others to really learn and come in to know love.

Maybe it’s not about learning greatness and then applying it, but learning greatness, preparing yourself to use it, and then jump into that unknown, hoping and praying (fingers and toes, and eyes crossed!) that we can successfully apply what we’ve learned when the time comes. And at that same time, when other people let us down, disappoint us, or offend us, we can remember too, that they are also taking that scary, scary leap of faith. They too, are taking with them all that they know and are also given daily opportunities to make a choice- to love or not to love. Just like you, they will also experience success. They will also experience failure.

So you see, walking the talk isn’t about doing everything right. It’s about moving forward, continuing to live, and open yourself up to all the disappointments and failures of both yourself and others.

My love, I’m truly sorry.

Your Reality, My reality, and Living Peacefully Within The Two

priroda-osen-listya-travaSAID A BLADE OF GRASS

Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams.”

Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.”

Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again — and she was a blade of grass.

And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such noise! They scatter all my winter dreams.”

The paradox of all relationships is that when we find ourselves with someone that is so different than us, if they do something that pisses us off we tend to conclude that they have some serious mental problems and need to change or fit into our mold in order for us to get along, when actually it’s simply that not only are they their own being, but they have their core values and beliefs are different than our own. We tend to put a value on their behavior with the label “right” or “wrong” with anything they do, say, or believe that is similar to us as being “right” and everything that goes against what we believe as “wrong”. Our natural reaction is to either “fix” them, point out their flaws, or run the hell away from them. When these people are around us and their behavior or their attitude conflicts with what we are aiming to achieve, the conflicting values make us feel uncomfortable and causes a sense of tension between us, and sometimes a standing animosity.

over-under

To put things into perspective, let’s use a simple example of which way you replace the toilet paper (if you even do that, or just leave it for the next person to take care of). Some people would argue that the toilet paper should always be facing out, while others believe it best to face in (and then there are those that couldn’t care less which way the TP faces). I personally believe that facing out is better, because you can tear it off easier. But that is my reality. It is also true, and just as valid that putting the toilet paper facing in is also very practical to someone. You’re thinking, “like who? Right?” Like people different than us. And that is precisely the paradox I’m speaking of: Us vs Them.

Because we are so different, and our values are conflicting, we tend to default to creating walls between us. It’s safer that way, and we don’t ever have to deal with that uncomfortableness ever again…until we come into contact with another person that isn’t in alignment with our beliefs. By avoiding these differences, building walls, or holding an “Us vs Them” attitude we gradually lower our tolerance to variance and ultimately make ourselves “allergic” to things that make us uncomfortable. Our intolerance for difference is what causes conflict, war, hatred, and animosity.

walls

Just as there are different realities, there are different ways of thinking about this topic as well, and this blog is just my own projection of my own reality. For example, there are some people that believe walls should be built between those very different from ourselves for whatever reason. There are some people that believe that through continued effort to communicate and negotiate, you can eventually reach a win-win. I think in many cases, a win-win approach is quite possible as long as both parties follow the rules agreed upon. But I think the key to long-term conflict resolution (especially when communicating and negotiating doesn’t work) is to respect an alternate reality and acknowledge it can be just as valid and true as our own, because the fact is, we are not that person. I am me. You are you. We did not live the other person’s life. We do not have their background and experiences.

If there is a God, and God made each and every one of us, that means that we are all special. But that also assumes that we are all a little different in a variety of ways. And the experiences that we go through further create differences- some of them great and some of them not so. But it is my belief that there can be a peaceful coexistence among multiple realities (Keep in mind, I’m not talking about psycho serial killers and things of that nature. I’m talking about basic human interaction and a wide variety of relationships we find ourselves getting in and out of throughout our lives).

That said, if we could just accept the notion that in this great big world, there are people out there living a completely different reality than yours- a reality that makes absolutely no sense to us. There are people that are aware of those differences but firmly believe that they are right and the other is wrong. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to understand why someone does something, and you don’t have to like what they do in order to be at peace with them.
There are a number of possible realities, with yours being one of them, and all of them are different, and equally valid for each of us in our lifetime. What if we tried respecting the idea that although they are completely different than you, although what they think, say, believe or do makes absolutely no sense to you, that it’s ok. That weird thing about them does not remove any value they have as a human being, and doesn’t necessarily qualify them as being a bad person, or even an unloving person.

My personal opinion is that if God didn’t want them on the planet, he/she wouldn’t have created that person in the first place. All people, the people similar to you and the people different than you have some huge genius purpose in this world. It’s easier said than done, but you can actually trust the Universe. Sometimes nothing makes sense immediately, but it all falls into place in the end, and if you want to love others and be loved in all of Love’s true glory, it’s better to open the door to your heart to uncertainty a little more.

Can I Meditate the Pain of a Broken Heart Away?

It had been five days since he broke up with me, and the first weekend of my being alone. Fortunately, I had some exciting activities planned (activities we were supposed to do together) to keep my mind off being alone. I was driving to the Halloween party when I had passed places we used to go. In fact, the party was close to his house. My mind was thinking, “I wonder what he’s doing right now” and my creative side got the best of me and assumed he was out getting laid by anyone he could possibly sleep with. That’s the kind of person I had belittled him to after tearing my heart apart- a promiscuous selfish man afraid to process emotions and filling it with physical pleasures instead. “Wow! What a judgmental person I am!” I quickly realized.

I began to feel the center of my chest, my arms, and shoulders get tense. Center of my chest? That’s not my heart… Isn’t heartbreak in the heart? What is this feeling? Ahah! It’s jealousy… a profound jealousy for a situation that may or may not have any logical or realistic foundation whatsoever. But the feeling was there, and it didn’t feel good. Definitely not “loving” at all.

Suddenly I remembered a book I had read, “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

“There are two main sources of our emotions: One is fear, and all the emotions that come from fear; the other is love, and all the emotions that come from love.”

Interestingly, he states that the “Normal kind of relationship in this world is based 95% on fear and 5% on love” (depending on the people).

He goes on to explain all kinds of love/fear scenarios such as obligations, expectations, respect, ruthlessness, compassion, pity, responsibility, kindness, anger, sadness, and jealousy. Recognizing the feeling I was having was that of being betrayed, lied to, humiliated, I also recognized that I had a bit of jealousy going on too (Well, maybe more than just a little…)

According to Don Miguel Ruiz, “anger is nothing but fear with a mask- jealousy is fear with a mask.” He goes on to explain that “In love, there are no conditions. I love you for no reason, with no justification. I love you the way you are, and you are free to be the way you are. We don’t have the right to change anyone else.” It was then that I realized jealousy isn’t love…

But I love him! How can I feel jealous if I love him? It was time to get some serious healing done. But how? The only way I knew how…by conquering that fear.

So I sat in the car and carefully, and with detail, tried to imagine observing him falling in love with another person, and being truly happy, or even just being promiscuous but living his life just the way he chose, and me, genuinely being happy for him, knowing and trusting that he has a clear path- his own path, and he deserves to live the way he wants, even if that didn’t include me.

Abraham Hicks also speaks on this idea in her speech “How to Truly Love”. She said, “Don’t look at love that is focused at you. Look at love that is focused through you. Rather than saying to someone, ‘I want you to love me’, real love is about being able to say, ‘I love the feeling of loving you! I love loving you! And it doesn’t matter if you come to me or not. I LOVE LOVING YOU!”

I do love him…well, I think I do… “He deserves happiness,” I thought to myself. “I wish for him great happiness. He deserves freedom. He deserves to feel passion, excitement, warmth of another person next to him. He deserves to feel loved, appreciated, respected, just the way he is. He deserves the freedom to make all his decisions and act just the way he wants, without criticism. He deserves an amazing life, not because of anything he’s ever done right, but because he’s human. Just like me…

And he deserves all of that…just…like…me…”

And it was then that I realized that I too, deserve all of that. I too, deserve and want to be happy. I too, want to go about living my life filling it with things that make me truly happy. So why am I not letting myself be happy? I was about to give up dancing for him, because I was afraid to see him in the dance community! That would have been the stupidest thing I could ever do to myself… Grieving is a process, but within reason. I needed to get back to loving myself.

Some people call this kind of thinking/meditation “metta meditation” and for me, I just wanted to stop being afraid of the feelings that came with the breakup. After all, how could I heal without it? Right? I realized that the greatest physical pain in breaking up was the tension and sadness, not even the loss itself, but the true challenge was in facing my fears of feeling ALL OF IT.

In Metta Meditation (i.e., Loving Kindness Meditation) you start with yourself. I didn’t do that. I started with him. But it was through starting with him that I realized I was just as worthy.

May I be happy just as I am.

May I be peaceful with whatever is happening.

May I be healthy and strong.

May I care for myself in this ever-changing world graciously, joyously.

Here’s a resource if you want to learn more about this:
Loving Kindness
http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree/loving-kindness

Here’s a cool guided meditation for this too, if you’re curious and don’t like reading:

Your Life Isn’t, and Has Never Been, About You…

Profound wisdom from an author of one of my favorite books, “Taking Our Places: The Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up” by Zoketsu Norman Fischer. He recently spoke at a Stanford Baccalaureate explaining why your life is not and has never been about you…

“A moment is a moment. As with all other times in life, there are highs and there are lows. Today you may be feeling high, and that is beautiful. Time passes though, and you forget about that moment. But right now, you have the skills, connections, and obligations to do great things. And this means not only great things for yourselves-  you are expected to do great things for others and for the world. So let’s be honest: the future really is in the youth. And yet the truth is it is not always going to be easy to survive your promising life, anywhere in the world. There is so much competition, and anxiety about that competition, that it is possible that success won’t come easy, and it’s also possible that success won’t come at all. Or maybe it will come in abundance, but you don’t find it as meaningful as you thought it would be. Or, maybe success comes and you find it satisfying but only at first when it is still bright and shiny and exciting, and later at the state and with the implications of the successful life you have lived, it will wear you down and you will find yourself tired and confused.

It could be that as time goes on from this day, some of your personal relationships don’t work out the way you hoped they would. It’s possible that your sense of self doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s possible that there will be disappointments, setbacks- some acknowledged and some buried deep within and not acknowledged. In short, it is very possible that from this day forth there is some pain awaiting you: bad love affairs, betrayals, losses, disillusions. Likely, you are going to have some seriously shaky moments. Maybe as you move through the decades it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the idealism and hopefulness that you have right now. It could be that one day you wake up and you find yourself wondering what have I been doing all this time? Who have I become?

You’ll keep busy. You’ll have a lot of things to do. And if there are such feelings, you’ll try your best not to notice them. If there is any despair, disappointment, discouragement, or boredom that you’re feeling years from today, you’ll try not to notice and I bet you’ll be able to do that- to not notice it…

I should say something encouraging.. and I do intend to do that! But, I figured I would be more convincing if I were also pretty realistic and it is realistic to say that your lives from now on will not be that easy. It is realistic to say that the skills you will need to survive may be more than, or other than, the skills that you have so far in your lives. Because the truth is that it takes a great deal of fortitude and strength to sustain a worthwhile, happy, human life over time in this actual world that we live in.
LIFE
So here comes the uplifting part:

Your life isn’t and has never been about you…
It isn’t, and it has never been about what you accomplish, how successful you are (or are not), how much money you make, what sort of position you ascend to, or even about your family, your associations, your various communities, or even about how much good you do for others in the world.

Your life, like mine, and like everyone elses, has really only ever been about one thing: LOVE.

Who are you, actually? And where did you come from? Why were you born into this life? You didn’t ask for it. When this short human journey is over, where do you go next, and why and how does any of this exist? What is the point of it all? Not even your Nobel-prize winning professors know the answers to these questions- these inevitable and unavoidable questions. The only thing we know is that we are here for a while and then we are gone, and that WHILE WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE TOGETHER, Which is why the only thing that completely makes sense, the only thing that is completely real is LOVE.

This is not a mystery and this is not news or some great discovery. Everyone actually knows this even though we forget about it. Love is always available to you wherever you look and when you dedicate yourself to love- when you dedicate yourself to be kind to everyone you meet, not just the people on your side, AND not just the people you like and approve of, but EVERY human and EVERY non-human being, then you’re going to be ok.

In your life, whatever it brings, even if it brings a lot of difficulty and tragedy, your life will be a beautiful life. I hope that you find this uplifting…

But there’s more… HOW do you love? What does this mean? How do you make your love real so it’s not just a pretty idea? This does not happen by itself. It takes attention, commitment, and effort over time. It doesn’t come from wishing or believing or assuming. You’re gonna have to figure out how NOT to get distracted by your personal problems, by your success (or lack of success), by your needs, desires, suffering, various interests, and ALWAYS keep your eye on the ball of love, even as you inevitably juggle all the rest of it. So you have to commit yourself to love and you have to have a way- a path or a practice for cultivating love and strengthening it throughout your lifetime no matter what happens, because love is not a feeling, it is an overarching attitude and spirit. And it’s a daily activity.

When you go about this practice of cultivating love, whatever practice you choose, the most important characteristic of this practice is that it must be useless- absolutely useless. In other words, it has to be an activity that has no practical effect other than to connect you to your heart and to your highest and most mysterious purpose- a purpose that is literally unknown because it references the unanswerable questions I mentioned a moment ago.

We’ve been doing so many good things for so many good reasons. Lots of good things for our physical health, psychological health, emotional health, family life, future success, economic life, for your community, for your world… but the practice of love that you choose must be a practice that is useless. It doesn’t do anything but to touch our lives beyond all concerns. For example, you could practice gratitude. Have you ever woke up in the morning and just been grateful for another day?

Another practice might be the practice of giving. Giving doesn’t have to be money or gods. Giving can be a daily intention of just a kind word or smile. Or you could practice kind speech on all occasions even difficult ones – committing yourself to speak as much as you can in kindness, and with inclusion of others and their needs, hopes, and dreams – not just speaking from your own side.

Or you can practice beneficial action – committing yourself to intentionally acting with a spirit of benefiting someone else (For example, you could wipe the counters after you’ve used a public restroom, or you could pick up and throw away someone’s garbage in the park) .

Or you could practice identity action, recognizing that when you do anything you are not, and cannot do it alone by your own power. You’ve never done anything alone and by your own power because inevitably whatever you do involves others, and the whole world involves others in a world of support. For example, you cannot breathe air on this Earth without the trees producing oxygen.

Or you could practice compassion – which is going toward, rather than turning away from, the suffering of others and your own suffering. We all want to avoid pain so much that what we do in our lives is focused on avoiding pain- making pain disappear. But oftentimes we cannot make pain disappear- so can you go toward it rather than run away? Can you become softened or brought to wisdom by the unavoidable pain found in others or yourself?

All of these practices share one thing: they come from love. They encourage love. They produce more love. And when you do them over time, little by little it conditions your heart and you discover that you are living in a world full of love, and for your life and for our lives collectively in the times to come, of all the things we need the most, we are going to need much more love. LOTS OF LOVE.

In good times, love is lovely, and in hard times, love is absolutely necessary. Love turns tragedy into opportunity. It turns something unwanted and difficult into a chance to drive love deeper-  to make it wiser fuller more glorious and more resilient.

Fenton Johnson said, “One can and should lay great plans, but life has its own ebb and flow and our first duty is to be present to that ebb and flow. We must realize that failure and success are social conceptions that can be useful but that in their conventional definitions have little to do with what really matters, which is to study and practice virtue.”

Timothy Kelly said, “How one lives one’s life is the only true measure of the validity of one’s search.”

So, please, do seriously think about it. Not in a grim way, but with a certain amount of joy and lightness. It is amazing to be alive. Amazing. Unlikely. What is really worthwhile and what is just a distraction, no matter how much another person tells you what is and what isn’t. Only one person can do that, and that is you.

I’m happy for the life you’ve had so far, and I’m congratulating you and hoping for your life a head, a life of challenge and difficulty and passion. What an opportunity.

Watch here if you want to hear it for yourself! (Starts at 29:00 and ends at 57:30).

How To Finally Let Go and Let Live in ONE Week!

Here is a FREE 7-day program that will finally allow you to let go and let live. All in ONE week!

After learning this technique, my life was changed forever, and I thought I’d share this little gift with the world, so here it is, in 5 easy steps!
rocks-18692813
1) Go out and find a large rock. It should be light enough to fit in your pocket and heavy enough to feel the weight. Now name it. You can write that name on it or not. Whatever works for you. I called my rock “Stress”, with other pet names such as “Anger”, “Frustration”, “Worry”, and “Resentment”.

2) Put your new rock in your pocket and carry it with you every where you go. No pocket? No problem! Just hold it. Put it in your purse, your backpack, your bra. Whatever you got! Taking a shower? No problem. Bring it with you. This rock will be your new best friend for the next week.

3) After the first few days, reflect on how you feel. Not bad, right? No biggie. Still not sure what’s the point? That’s ok. Keep carrying it. Talk to it. Feed it. If you give it enough attention it will grow!

4) After three days, reflect on how you feel. Did people ask you about it? Did you find it getting in the way of things you wanted to do? Places you wanted to go? A little embarrassed? Did it become such a burden on your day that you weren’t as productive as you could have been? Are you starting to feel weighed down? Keep carrying it! Introduce it to your friends!

5) After the 7th day, reflect how you feel. Are you ready to throw that rock away? Are you ready to end the friendship you’ve developed to it? Ready to let it go? Or do you want to carry it around a little longer? At this point it’s your choice. You can carry it with you for as long as you want. You can also choose to leave it and carry on with your life.

“Stress”, “Worry”, “Frustration”, “Regret”, “Insecurity”, “Fear”… She was my best friend for nearly 25 years. I loved her. She was there for me. She never let me down when I needed a really good excuse for not doing something. The comfort of holding on to our relationship seemed more easy than letting her go. But one day, I decided it was time to go our different paths… And my life has never been the same.

Now I realize that it was my choice all along to carry all that stress, worry, frustration, regret, insecurity and fear with me. Letting go was never the hard part. It was carrying it with me for 25 years that was the ultimate burden.

DISCLAIMER:
This site and the information referenced herein does not constitute an attempt to practice medicine. Use of the site does not establish a doctor-patient relationship. The information presented on this web site is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.