I have a daily relationship with Jesus, through prayer, meditation and contemplation. It wasn’t always this way. I was brought up to be scientific, skeptical, suspicious of anything the least bit religious, but through the twists and turns of life I ended up in church one day, heart broken open, shedding years of grief, tears cascading from my eyes. I sought through prayer and meditation conscious contact with God, and miracles began to take place in my life. I know that God works through me now, through my hands, my voice and my heart. I take an active role in my spiritual unfolding; I am not a spectator here. I know that my life will be full of hills and valleys, and I am ok with this, because I know my place with the one who watches over me always, guiding me back home to peace.
Forgiveness cannot be forced. When my family fell apart I tried to rush to forgiveness, thinking that it would speed up the healing process. But I was just engaging in spiritual bypassing— using my spirituality to circumvent the messy trenches of deep grief and traumatic loss. I prayed to God to show me the way, hoping I could fly over the dark valley and avoid what lurked there in the shadows of my deepest, darkest memories. I read books and listened to speakers, I attended meetings, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was really attempting to avoid the inevitable. Finally I discovered that what I really needed was to allow myself to feel. I had to go through the grieving process. I had to face the loss of the life I knew, I had to take each day one at a time. Some days the pain was so intense I didn’t think I could live through it. People would tell me It won’t be like this forever; I didn’t believe them. Over time, as I remained clear and focused on my goal to find a place for me and my kids, I noticed the fog was lifting; I felt more like myself with each passing day. Looking back I see that it was my effort to heal that blocked the healing. It was my belief that things should be a certain way that kept me from embracing things as they were. And now I’m still working on forgiveness, but at least I have the sense now to allow that grace to come, naturally, when the time is right and my heart is ripe for such sweetness…
Don’t read this with your mind, read it with your heart, because your heart will know that it is true: There is nothing missing in this moment, and you are whole and complete as you are. Don’t listen to your mind respond to what you just read! You’ve got to hush that thing up, give it a vacation. Say to your mind, Yes, dear, I know, you don’t like this… why don’t you take a nice hot bath or something? Meanwhile, just run right out the back door, get back to the love that is this moment. It waits for you like the best lover you have ever known, open, available, ready to give you everything, if you just show up and allow yourself to be held.
I did it! I taught FOUR yoga classes today, sweet lawd! What amazes me about all of this is that when I’m there with the students I am so much in the zone and so energized by the flow that I feel awake even if I’m tired; I feel strong even if moments before I felt weak. Something magical happens when I do this work I love. If you don’t yet have work that you love, I highly recommend you find some. It will make all the difference in the world, my friend, it will make all the difference in the world.
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
—Marcus Aurelius, 121-180 c.e.
I sit down to write and feel blocked because my open and honest expression might be twisted and used as evidence by the one I formerly trusted with my heart that there is something wrong with me. (That something wrong being that I’m a human going through a particularly tough time.) And so I embrace a sort of forced positivity, which cannot be all bad, right? I mean, for God’s sake, I have clean drinking water, on demand, water to bathe with, a toilet inside my house… This puts me in the top 20% of the world’s population. I have voting rights. I have my health. I have my mind. I have a college education. I have work that I love and two beautiful children and an opportunity to start over fresh every single blessed day. In essence, I’m being blocked from complaining, and this impediment to complaints advances my ability to celebrate what is working. This open and honest expression might also be twisted and used as evidence that there is someting wrong with me, but if this is the case, then it only reveals what is wrong with the reasoning faculties of the person doing the twisting and judging. Therefore, thank you, dear soul, for giving me cause to pause and go on a negativity diet. I shall grow fat with gratitude and grace.
A fellow meditator and blogger, upon reading of my financial situation, planted a seed of kindness (right into my PayPal account) and renewed my faith in humanity. A recovery friend, upon hearing that my AC had gone up, called upon another friend who planted a seed of kindness (checking my breaker box, checking my AC unit, attempted to diagnose the issue) and further renewed my faith in humanity. A girlfriend, upon hearing of the trauma uncovered in therapy since the winter, planted a seed of kindness, (threw her arms around me, held me for a moment) and renewed my faith in humanity further still. My aunt sent me a package in the mail— a mother’s day card (with a little cash!) a recipe, and a bible… It seems she wants to renew my faith in humanity too. Did I need to create this terrifying experience of losing my marriage and now losing my home because I had lost my faith? Are all of these situations simply a chance to renew my faith in humanity? All I know is breathing and being is what I want. With my faith renwed, I see it’s possible to relax into this moment and open to the love that’s already there.
I wake up and something’s different. I see the sun. I’m glad to be awake. I have energy. I’m excited to start the day. I make berry salad for our breakfast; the kids and I enjoy these colorful jewels the earth grew for our nourishment. I feel so much love my heart might burst. My home is peaceful. After the kids get on the bus I come back home. What is this feeling? What is different? And then I realize I know what this is: I feel better.
Homecoming. Afraid for what awaits in the emptiness of my once shared space. Grieving still what was… wondering when I’ll be set free from this self-imposed prison. What do I need to do to let go all the way? The way this works, if there is one shred of holding on, the whole thing takes root again and grows stronger than ever before. I need grace to help me let go all the way.
I wake up in darkness although the sun is out. It’s the same old familiar feeling of uncertainty for the future, shaming myself for not having it all figured out by now. Then Grace steps in and speaks gently and lovingly to me: Sweetheart, relax. Just breathe. Everything will be revealed in the proper time, space and sequence. Your job is to stay open to this process of shedding the old so that you can receive the new. Believe me, it’s worth it.
And suddenly, it was gone. The need to be right. The need to be sad. The need to be angry. All of it, suddenly, gone. And what remained? Space. Space for this moment, to welcome all the things I’ve been telling myself I really want. I breathed, and in came the joy. I breathed, and in came the power. I breathed deeper, and touched into the love that was already there. And I was free. I was free. I was free.