Lessons from the Labyrinth

20180318_150017No, not David Bowie. I mean a real labyrinth. I have never walked a labyrinth until a couple weeks ago. Dave and I traveled down to Virginia Beach for an archaeology presentation. We couldn’t have gone there without visiting the all-magical Edgar Cacye A.R.E. center. (Association for Research and Enlightenment). We had first gone there back in October for a conference on ancient mysteries. It was truly one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had. The place, the people, the conference itself…everything was drenched in high vibrational ecstasy. It’s hard to explain…there’s a lot to it actually- all based upon Edgar Cayce’s philosophies 20180318_145924and readings he did for people back in the early 1900’s. He is regarded as one of the most influential psychics of all time. When he did readings for people he diagnosed them and helped them with existing illnesses by prescribing many holistic, natural remedies. (Many of which you can find today!) The center itself is a mini campus…a main building, and the converted hospital where Cayce worked which is now a spa and café with a gorgeous wrap around porch that overlooks the main area and out to the ocean. And there’s another building that is a massage school. Tucked in between the buildings is a lovely bamboo garden— towering bamboo with small pathways winding through with small offerings of bird houses and stones scattered throughout. Right by the entrance to the garden is a beautiful pond area that you can walk through and stop and sit by. Look at the gorgeous flowers flowing over the stone wall, or observe some koi fish carelessly swimming through their own world.

And then there’s the labyrinth! You can’t miss it. It’s the first thing you see as you walk (if you choose to) up the set of stairs from the main building to the café. The sight of it, just aesthetically, is beautiful, reverent. It’s based of the Chartres Labyrinth in a cathedral in France. It’s like a portal unto itself. While sitting in the café, I’ve noticed people walk up and around the labyrinth so as not to disrupt the energies therein. And it’s just a simple stone pattern embedded in the earth. Yet so symbolic. Back in October, I didn’t walk it as I wasn’t sure of its purpose. So, this time around, with the absence of crowds of people, I chose to. I asked Dave what it was all about. He explained that it’s a tool for mediation. That as you focus on following the path, you can get lost in your own mind just being mindful of the path. He also said that as you walk and notice your thoughts, they can mirror your life. There were little suggestions on a handout at the center, and it said that you can enter with an intention or a question to be answered. As you walked, your answer would come from within. In the center was a pair of dolphins in the shape of a yin and yang symbol. Once there, you can pause, focus on your experience and then exit the same way you entered. When I did it, I chose to walk straight out rather than repeat the path.

I walked the labyrinth twice. The first time just to see what it was like. The first time I noticed all kinds of things…my mind wandering…looking at the path, how it was designed…I began to wonder why the design was the way it was…I was noticing how some stretches looked almost linear, and then I’d end up in a totally different place, and end up looking either ahead or back. When I told Dave, he suggested that I do these things in life like I did walking the labyrinth. I began to see some truth there.

The second time was much more profound.

I chose to ask a question. I had been dealing with a pretty heavy friendship struggle the previous week, which ended up bleeding into the beginning of our trip. Often, I have immense trouble letting go of personal struggles, especially with close friends. So, I asked, “what can I do that will help me deal with this particular situation with my friends?” As I began to walk and weave, my answer came almost instantaneously.

“Give what’s missing. Give even when you do not receive.”

I pondered for a bit. Kept thinking, and then it dawned on me that I felt that Love, compassion and peace were missing. So, I thought, I could give that. Either directly or indirectly. My thoughts eventually drifted to some of our holistic friends that we often see at the expos. There are some inspiring, powerful women in that group. I pictured them. I asked, what would they do in a situation like this? I couldn’t picture them being angry. I couldn’t picture them being sad. All I could picture is peace. They are peace. They are love. They would give that no matter what the situation. They would not be troubled. Truly a lesson I could use!

I kept walking, a slower, rhythmic pace, feeling more peaceful as I went. Confident that I could let go of my fears of losing friends, fear of judgment. I wouldn’t want to give fear, I would want to give peace. By the time I reached the center, I was almost in a trance. I focused on the dolphins. Yin and yang. Light and dark. In all of us. A balance.

I left the labyrinth feeling like I gained something that I didn’t have before. I left, and sat down on a flat stone on the outside while Dave walked it in its entirety. He wanted to walk it alone to get the most out of the experience.

When we finished, we walked to the ocean to let it cleanse us. We walked along the edge of the waves swelling and overtaking the anemone covered sand. Dave took off his shoes to feel the cold waters. I walked further inward. I touched the water, felt its chill reach into me, then flow outward- taking my fears with it.

I’m very happy I gave it a try. It’s super simple. Yet surprisingly profound. I would love to walk one more frequently. There’s a piece of land in a small patch of woods next to our house…perhaps we can create our own. In the meantime, I’ll hang on to my experience near the great blue. Until we meet again.

 

Chatres-Labyrinth-candle-lit   chartres_jeff_wp5f6a33f51

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Connecting Thought: Unmasked Identity

In my previous post, I mentioned complete connection with everyone and everything. Right after writing, my boyfriend sent me a link which introduced a term to go along with that feeling! Samadhi. A Hindu word meaning seeing with equality. It’s tied in with yoga practice, and can also apply to everyday living. I found a short article online which has a section that sums it up wonderfully:

“Instead of attaching to happiness or a sensation of ‘bliss’, Samadhi is about seeing life and reality for exactly what it is, without our thoughts, emotions, likes, dislikes, pleasure and pain fluctuating and governing it. Not necessarily a state of feeling or being, or a fixed way of thinking; just pure ‘I – am – ness’.”

I can SO identify with this. Ever since participating in the Landmark Forum, and the Advanced Course, along with many seminars, I have been practicing this. It does not come naturally. I’m still in the process of training my brain to recognize and acknowledge instead of react and feel.

Just this morning, I had an incident come up with Dave where feelings and reactions bubbled up as he spoke. What was missing for me was just being…pure listening. He even admitted all he wanted to do was share something with me. Not debate it, not ask me to solve anything…just to share what he was thinking and how his sleep was affected by some thoughts.

So, what happened was- Dave spoke to me of how he lied awake during the night. I made his words mean things like, he’s keeping the past in the present. He won’t let go. He can’t just get over it…etc. When those thoughts clouded my thinking, my being shifted dramatically. I was not Love, Peace, and Togetherness. I was creating a boundary in myself before he was even finished talking. Which then created unnecessary arguing after, and feelings of sadness, and guilt.

I took our incident this morning as an opportunity for connection and self-realization.

To continue to fulfill my main concern- Peace, Love, and Togetherness.

When I stopped analyzing, feeling and judging, both himself and myself, I was able to disconnect from those feelings in order to connect to Dave and truly understand him. Immediately, I felt relieved. It was as if a literal switch was flipped to put a stopper in my flow of consciousness. And yet, I could acknowledge that I am still not fully letting go. And I am noticing what is blocking me, and what fears are holding me back.

It’s in this noticing, without judgment, that I will be able to completely connect with Dave to get complete on an important issue from years ago. I can be in the space of pure peace, which, I dunno about you, but to me feels 100% better than being in the space of defensiveness and anger. I can literally feel a difference between the two. It’s as if I’ve literally separated the two things and set them down in front of me.

Like two colored balls of the same size. One red, and one blue. Say, the red one is a bit heavier than the blue. I can now, from the outside, not only see the difference between the two, I can also feel it. The red one feels heavy. It wouldn’t work for me to carry it around with me all day. The blue one is light. It would work to carry that one.

It takes effort to be angry, and in conflict. And much energy. The body rejects it, defends it, and when it does, it hurts. Back pain, headaches, stomach issues…you name it. Pain arises from actually trying to keep those behaviors in place. Yuck!

Living inside of Love is natural. Your body will not argue with you, nor will your mind. Life and all activities in it become effortless. Even complications will come and go effortlessly when in a state of Peace and Love. A flow.

This I have experienced.

This I will continue to experience.

This journey, my Sadhana, will help me reach my full enlightenment.

chakras_consciousness


Samadhi Article

Book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Unmasked Identity

 

 

 

Unmasked Identity

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Are we really that separate from everyone else? From everything else? In a world where survival of the fittest sometimes applies, many live to do just that: survive. In doing so, they capture a false sense of individuality; they spend time developing a sense of self that on the outside appears to be a “one for all” mentality, yet on the inside is a “one for one” mentality. Those people may be giving, loving, caring…and if you look closely, there are conditions. Why? Well, the answer is simple and will always boil down to the same emotion: fear. They might say to themselves, “surely I can’t be as open to that person, as I am to this one. I have to protect myself. …This one will keep me safe. No problems will arise. But with that one, ooh, others may disagree, I will be discredited somehow…I’ll only let that one in so far…”

All of these conditions, based upon circumstances, create thick and heavy boundaries. When one is not willing to let go of their own, created fear, they cannot create the space for anything or anyone else to come in. No matter how loving that other person might be. Self-righteousness becomes a prime concern. And separation becomes apparent. Like the laws of quantum physics, those behaviors that create separation are then repeated and mirrored over and over again in every type of human relationship and perhaps throughout lifetimes.

These cycles can be broken.

When we realize our true self, and that we are connected to everyone else in a deep profound way, we can disappear those boundaries. When only Love is present, there is no room for fear; we are able to embrace others in a way that brings unity. Even if there are disagreements, and that person isn’t a perfect fit for your life, there can still be communication, conversation and connection. A healthy disconnection may happen, and that certainly works in many cases, yet the lines for real, non-reaction based communication are still available.

What’s missing in our society today is just that: connection. Many believe their sense of connection is tied to technology. Many believe it’s impossible. Many let fear block them. In reality, who we are is everyone else. We are the very essence of that person in fear, that person unwilling to communicate, or that person who is wide open and loving. We are the miracle of life that is contained in every organism that surrounds us. We are the soul, the God, the Creator of all. We are not separate! Once that can be realized, there would be no need for family feuds, broken friendships, and so forth. World leaders would be able to get along, have meetings where Love for others, for other countries, the people in them are the main concern.

We can all work together as the team that we are.

We can look into each other’s eyes and see the entire universe there before us. How breathtaking, how peaceful to know that! All fear, anger, resentment and resignation is pure illusion. Can you see yourself, your mother, your father, your friend in a stranger’s gaze? They are there. All there is to do is to open up to Love to see.

I took part in an extraordinarily powerful exercise recently in a weekend course. The exercise was simple: in silence, stand up and look into another person’s eyes. Just look. Notice feelings. Notice judgments. Then notice that connection. One girl that I connected with was a Chinese woman. She was beautiful. Her soul so vibrant. What I noticed initially when looking in her eyes was that she was very different than myself. From a completely different culture, with a different language, a different set of values. Her eyes physically were different than mine. A different shape and color. The color of her skin. The shape of her face. The color of her hair. All different.

And what was extraordinary in that moment that I noticed all of those things, I also noticed that she, too, just like me, was a soul. A soul that contained God, Love, Peace. I was able to quickly let go of all those differences. They vanished. Because they, too, are illusions. It was beautiful. Tears welled up while looking into her brown eyes. I was able to recognize everyone else I knew in her. Because she is me. I am her. We embraced deeply when it was time to return to our seats. I felt such a unique movement inside of me after that. My soul shifted. I had a spiritual experience unlike any other, yet I could say it was connected to other moments of spiritual awakening I’ve had. Suddenly, I felt deeply connected to the other ninety some people sharing space with me in that room. Even the ones I hadn’t spoken to. Stunning.

Then this morning, I had to laugh…I watched a short news clip about a death in a trailer park. A body was found in a burned shed. A man that was interviewed shrugged and said, “what do you expect? It’s a trailer park!” And you can tell he was totally unfazed by the death and perfectly content with the way things were, no matter how devastating. It’s actions and behaviors/beliefs as such that keep the current system of disconnection in place. If it’s expected that a certain place or type of people should be one way, and a large group agrees, then they will remain that way. No one should be any one way. Why in the world has it become okay to just go on living this way?!

School shootings…same thing. Actions based on fear. A system that repeats itself, keeps particular behaviors in place, no space for transformation. The space is filled with debates, emotion and reaction ridden stories. No action for a different result.

We are disconnected from those that haven’t experienced connection.

Again, if we could just see ourselves in those that are being that way, we could find our true identity.

So many are not being what they truly believe in.

So many haven’t even discovered hat it is that they truly believe in! And it’s there, always. Inside.

They are being who they think they should be, or who they have been conditioned to be. Their beliefs are clouded by illusion.

They choose to follow illusion instead of their heart.

I believe we all have the power to identify our true concerns for ourselves and inherently others. I also believe that everyone’s could be similar if we felt connected. What would we be concerned for? Love, peace, happiness, togetherness, gratitude, joy. Actions are then produced in accordance with those concerns. Those concerns are not only for ourselves, but every other human being we share this planet with.

I am the possibility of Love, Peace and Togetherness. With this possibility, I will be those things. My being will shine with radiance that can transcend pain, suffering, and sadness. Love, Peace and Togetherness are instruments to shatter the illusions of the opposite. I say illusion because they are all created. Nothing happens to us. What we believe, we become. What we be, we see.

Let us gain control of ourselves, as a whole, a group, a community, a society, a world. We are all souls inhabiting these borrowed vehicles on this plane of existence. Take off the mask. Surely it must be heavy, a burden? Perhaps there are many masks…if so, begin to peel them away. What is behind them will be the most beautiful, shining soul you’ve ever encountered.

Dare to meet yourself.

Dare to create new possibilities.

Man’s true self is eternal,

yet he thinks, “I am this body, I will soon die.”

This false sense of self

is the cause of all his sorrow.

When a person does not identify himself with the body

tell me, what troubles could touch him?

One who sees himself as everything

is fit to be guardian of the world.

One who loves himself as everyone

is fit to be teacher of the world.

-Tao Te Ching, The Definitive Edition, Verse 13

Double rainbow in a meadow, Silt, Colorado, U.S.

Success: It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

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I graduated college three years ago in December. As exciting as this was, I wasn’t sure where I was headed after. I knew for sure I didn’t want to jump right into a job. The previous summers I worked as a server part time, and in college I was a tutor which was also part time. I knew for sure I wanted a break. After four and a half years of mentally, socially, and emotionally challenging times, I felt it would be best to rest. Also, I had just moved out of my house that summer before graduation and was anxious to just spend unlimited amounts of time with my boyfriend. Yet, there was a voice in the back of my head that said, “No, you have to get right to work!” Of course that voice was planted there from the social stigma and pressure of, “you HAVE to get a job right after college or you won’t succeed.” Granted, most of my friends actually did have jobs lined up. Solid career jobs. Teaching, nursing, and so forth. I felt torn. My gut and heart told me to take time to discover what it was that I really wanted to do…my head told me otherwise. I remember going to a couple of my professors and chatting with them about what I wanted to do beyond college. I asked them if they thought it’d be okay to take a break, like a year off after graduating. My one English professor said, “Absolutely! I wish I had done that when I graduated; I would have made different choices and would have been happier.” I was shocked and comforted to hear this.

A book that my boyfriend, Dave introduced me to helped me tremendously. There were two actually. A short one titled, “How to Find the Work You Love”, and a huge one titled, “Zen and the Art of Making a Living.” (links to this good stuff at the bottom!) Both were designed like a workbook that guided you toward inner truths of what passion you wanted to follow. So, following my heart, as I chose to take my break, I took a shot at the books right away in the new year, 2015. I read and worked through them diligently and the results for me were fantastic! I was able to narrow down skills, values, passions that really meant something to me and aim those things towards a career.

I still had not found that job yet. I had my heart set on editing. Back in college, I had the assumption that the only way to get any kind of editing position was to be in a large city. I had visions of living in Pittsburgh and finding work there. Of course, once I moved in with Dave I eliminated that as an option. Then, surreptitiously while visiting one of Dave’s friends, I discovered a freelancing website and what freelancing was. This was something I didn’t have much knowledge on, and it wasn’t on my radar at all for work. Yet when I asked more about it and learned more, it sparked something inside. A new little voice popped in and said, “yes! I think this would work!”

I began researching several freelancing websites. 3 out of 4 were not very reputable, and there were a lot of scammy jobs out there. The one Dave’s friend mentioned was called oDesk at the time, currently Upwork. Finally, a reputable site that seemed to have what I was looking for. Long story short, I created a profile and started applying for jobs. Mainly, I was looking for other freelancers who were writing to self-publish. Yet, there was a myriad of jobs that I ended up doing. It took a year or so to build up my profile and my reputation/ratings on the site. And all along the way it was a huge learning experience. I learned how to professionally communicate solely through messaging and emailing which was challenging. I learned how to write an appealing cover letter and profile. I learned how to confidently deal with problems that arose. And all along the way I was enjoying it!

I had found the work I love! Am I making buckets of money? No. Thankfully, I work with Dave at his storage business and that provides steady income, but this was the job that was and is my passion. What I had to learn was that balance between the drive for money and the drive for inner joy. For about a year or so I struggled with not having a lot of money…yet again that came from societal standards. I felt like I “should” have x amount by x time. I “should” have this, and be doing that. What I eventually learned is that no, I don’t have to be anywhere or be doing any specific thing by any specific time. How liberating!

Since I’m an introvert, working from home is a dream come true. Not having to be in a crowded building or office is really nice. Not having to have to follow someone else’s rules is great. Being able to pick and choose jobs that suit me personally is awesome. Having a variety of jobs and working with people from all over the country and world is exciting. And being able to create my own rates and bid on jobs based on what I believe I should earn is phenomenal! I set my own schedule, and have my own comfy office down in our basement that I like to call my zen room. No stress whatsoever.

***

So I’m working a dream job that the universe seemed to hand to me after taking a desired break after college, and then along comes a life altering course that I chose to take to overcome family issues. This course I’ve mentioned before, and will mention forever is The Landmark Forum.

Once I completed the three day, intensive personal development course, (which led to some HUGE breakthroughs in my life…I’ll save that for another post), I followed up with several 10 week seminars that are a supplement to the course. To date, I think I’ve done about 4 of them and am about to sign up for my 5th!

Through these seminars I have been able to continue to redefine my perspectives on life. I have chosen several areas of my life to work on, and somehow the work entwines itself into every aspect of your life. The current one I am in is called, “Living Powerfully: Defying the Predictable”. The last one was about success. Why I gave a brief history of college, work and money is because I’ve been cruising at a point in my life where things are just working. I’m happy. And I’m successful.

Through all my personal development personally, with Dave, through books, and most importantly through Landmark, I’ve learned and developed the ability to create anything I want for my life! To come from nothing. Which means constantly recreating moments. Dealing with breakdowns powerfully, getting to the root of issues to clear them completely. One of the key distinctions that struck me and stuck with me is that success is not a place to get to, rather a place to come from. Meaning, you just already, always are successful! There’s no end point. Instead of Do, Have, Be, you live life Be, Do, Have. Meaning, instead of doing things in order to have something so you can be happy… you can just be happy (come from a place of happiness no matter what your circumstances are), do what you love (because that’s what comes naturally for you) and have anything and everything you want! The same with being the cause in the matter of life no matter what your circumstances are. You have to BE to create.

There are no boundaries when you are constantly in control and creating new possibilities. Over and over again. I’ve let go of my money worries. I’ve stopped being in some future that doesn’t exist and choose now. Right now. And now, and now and now. All we have is now. This has helped me not freak out about not having as much money as I’d like.

My confidence shattered the ceiling. I’ve been gaining jobs more rapidly, speaking to others, strangers in ways I wouldn’t have years ago. I’ve self-published a poetry book and sold dozens of copies. I’ve gained and held integrity regarding my editing job along with my responsibilities at the storage business. There’s just…so much!!

I guess one of the main points I’m trying to make through all of this is that: standards are made up. You don’t have to follow them. So, when getting out of college, there’s no one you have to please but yourself, and if jumping right into a job isn’t for you, then don’t do it! It’s as simple as that! Create the space for yourself where you can grow and flourish. Create the space to discover. Play! Play in this space and you’ll be surprised at what you uncover.

Two: Success does NOT depend on social status, wealth, possessions, what degree you have, what job, etc. All that matters is what makes YOU happy! You are successful because you are successful! Because you say so! Other people do not rule YOUR life. I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others in the past. I wasted my time. Comparisons are odious, after all. So, look at where you’re at. What are you doing that makes you truly happy? Where aren’t you happy? What’s missing? How can you take an action that will cause a breakthrough in that area? You have a say in your life! All day, every day. There are so many people who can’t get out of their heads. They can’t get out of their own way. All it takes is seeing. And perhaps taking some responsibility and having integrity.

I remember contemplating grad school. Thinking that it would good in order to get better jobs. Because, you know, college “just isn’t good enough anymore.” No, having a higher degree and or a doctorate does not make you more successful than others. (As I once strongly believed.) It’s certainly not necessary for success. This is a big take away for myself that I’ve noticed as I’ve continued on my path. I don’t need to follow what society stresses and pins as a high honor (and sometimes more of a bragging right.) Kind of like those that feel the busier they are, and more exhausted they appear, the more heroic they’ll seem to others. Life wasn’t meant to be lived that way. And no, you don’t “have” to.

I am thrilled with where I’m at, how far I’ve come, and where I continue to go. I am constantly evolving with no end goal. There is never a finish line. Never that one place you “have” to get to. It’s a deadly trap to fall into if you live in the mindset of, “if I just make it to here and have this…. I’ll be happy!” Because there will be always be “one more thing” you “have to” get to. And so you’ll live your life chasing down every “thing” that you think will make you happy until eventually…you’re a piles of bones in the ground.

In the end, we’re all a pile of bones…so why not live this big, beautiful conscious, ever-evolving life with peace, grace, and ease? Why not have everything you want without chasing and exhausting yourself physically and mentally?

Why not live the life that YOU can create?

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Who Doesn’t Love Good Stuff?

How to Find the Work You Love

Zen and the Art of Making a Living

The Landmark Forum

My Book! Sanctity of Season