A Girl and a Deer: Cultivating Patience

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Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?

Who can remain still until the moment of action?

Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.

Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.

-Tao Te Ching, Verse 15

 

 


One late summer day last year, I had a profound experience involving one of our deer friends. We typically get a few deer-friend visitors every day, and we go out and feed them some flavored corn or an apple. There have been many times I have sat by them and watched them crunch and munch. And I’ve taken lots of pictures from all angles. Yet, that one day, something shifted in me.

There was one lone visitor that day, and I chose to go out to feed her. After pouring some flavored corn into the usual spot right outside the garage in our backyard, she immediately starting making her way down the hill. Fluffy tail happily flicking, she took a few steps, stopped, watched me, and repeated until she felt uncomfortable coming any closer. I showed respect and chose to head back to the house. When I started to head down the stairs back toward the house, she came a bit closer to the food pile. I took two steps, she took two steps. I paused, she paused. An invisible magnet between us.

I changed my mind, and chose to crouch down on the grass when she approached the corn and began to eat. We were about 5 feet apart. Pretty soon, a cloud of gnats congregated around my head and executed their usual routine of bouncing off my face and aiming for the eyes. My legs began to feel uncomfortable due to the way I was crouching. These are the things that normally would have prompted me to get up and go in. Yet this time, I took note of those thoughts, and just let them go by. I wanted to enjoy being in the presence of this beautiful creature. And I did just that. I sat still. Quietly. Focused on my breathing, my energy. I listened to her breathing in and out with small snorts as she crunched on the corn…little bits falling from her mouth or getting stuck on her nose every now and again. Her large, deep eyes looked up at me from time to time, and when I made eye contact, I made sure I held the space of calm and peace so she’d feel it, too. As I looked at her eyes, I noticed her forehead and all the little bugs that were taking advantage there. I saw her long lashes and for the first time, noticed that her pupils were rectangular! I never knew! In this moment, I truly felt I was bonding with the deer; we were one. I sat there for maybe five minutes soaking up the blissful feeling. My wooded surroundings faded, and it was just the deer and I living in harmony. I made sure I thanked her both silently, and out loud.

Eventually I had to get up and go inside. When I stood up, she backed up a bit and then when I made my way down, she decided to head back up into the woods. When I got back in, I suddenly felt different- a sudden shift. Before I knew it, I was crying as I told Dave about the experience. He told me he was watching and didn’t want to disturb me. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was crying…was it the energy? The bond? I think it was both. Yet more importantly, it was my realization that I had been completely, wholeheartedly mindful and…patient.

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Patience doesn’t come naturally for me. I’ve been exploring my impatience lately, contemplating its roots in my childhood. Perhaps it’s because of being an only child? I’d often spend a lot of time in my head, and then suddenly want interaction. I’d go ask my dad if we could do something…go outside and play catch, go for a bike ride, play a game…anything! If he was hesitant, soon the asking turned to begging (with a hint of annoyed whining). Not having a lot of friends to just call up or walk to their house compounded the issue. And let’s not forget there were countless days I’d be sitting at a table next to a bar, or just down my aunt’s house wondering when it was time to leave, not understanding the concept of consuming alcohol. (Like, just chug it! Come on! I want to go and do something and I don’t want to do anything alone!)

I asked my Gram recently if I was exceptionally impatient when I was little, and she animatedly told a story about how I couldn’t stand losing a game like the classic Chutes and Ladders or Old Maid, and how I’d stomp my feet and tell her mid-game it’s not fair. Got it Gram. Thanks for the reminder.

As an adult, in the past four years or so, my deeper impatience would kick in when considering my purpose and comparing myself to Dave and Dave’s friends who of course are very much 10+ years older than me. Their skills, talents, etc. outnumber mine like tenfold. Naturally, I want to hurry up and be like them! I want all the skills! Yesterday.

When I really think about it, actually it’s pretty obvious, that I’ve come a long way since moving in with Dave and starting to discover myself. It’s been a process, as it should be, everything in its own timing. I have learned more than I ever thought I would. I have a skill that I turned into a job that I love and am consistently making money with. Everyday! And with that, I am still searching for another skill, something in the metaphysical realm that I potentially turn into a service for others. This desire probably has been arising more strongly at this point because a) I feel I have hit this personal plateau of inner transformation and b) I am constantly surrounded by people who have numerous skills and have created one or more businesses out of them.

So here’s where the universe is nudging me; patience has to kick in. Here’s where I feel I’m supposed to be meditating more, being still, silent, searching for whatever answers are within me. Yet another step along the path of growing, developing, transforming. In essence, there’s never really a plateau. Life is about the journey, not the destination. There’s nowhere to get to and nothing to be. We need to just…be!

And so, right now, I am creating that possibility of being patient. In all situations. No matter the circumstances. Without excuses. I know my mind and my body will thank me for it! And I know I’ll be able to tune in to nature with brighter clarity and discover.

When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing!

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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.

Creating Healthy Boundaries

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“When confrontation arises, we face it without aggression. When someone opposes us, we do not give in to anger. We view no one as a competitor because we do not seek our own way.

We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We use them each for benefit. We are not trying to fix ourselves or others so we move naturally and easily along our path.” –Tao Te Ching (translation of verse 68)*

Sometimes, you just gotta walk away. Take a deep breath, and take some steps back. Are you dealing with someone that you still want in your life but your relationship isn’t quite meshing? Have you been trying to convince them of a point of view, an attitude, a new way of being, a belief? There are times when no matter how many words you say, conversations (or arguments) you have, a person will not change their view. And that’s okay! Instead of getting stuck with spinning tires, lay off the gas, and turn the motor off! Breathe. I’ve been learning and practicing this essential trick for the past few months with my family.

Here’s a secret to letting go: realize it’s not the person that you are walking away from- it’s their behavior. I struggled with that concept for a long time until Dave led me to a personal epiphany. So many times people are quick to judge. Quick to doom a situation. Quick to give up and think that they have to get rid of the person that they are in conflict with. Yep, that’s where I was! In my mind, I was never going to have my family back, because they will never change, and the only solution to heal the pain then was to detach completely. And that felt pretty crappy. I still yearned to talk to my family and remain in close connection.

I had to give up what was in my way since they weren’t willing to give up what’s in their way.

It didn’t take me long to drop all my “nevers”. Why worry about some invisible future that may or may not happen? I held onto my mindset of being in the now. Right now. No other moment. Not in the past or the future. Eckhart Tolle sums it up quite well- “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I, then?’ The one who sees that.”

Sometimes it’s crazy hard to let go, and just be in the present moment. Therefore, it’s even more difficult to create those healthy boundaries! Typically, you remain trapped on the hamster wheel, spinning faster, and faster, (coming up with more and more arguments as to why “you’re right”) and eventually, your legs run out of stamina and you’re flung off and splattered against a wall- defeated.

If you’re truly dealing with someone you authentically care about, show them! The greatest gift you could give them is a boundary! With a boundary, you can still communicate. In my case, the boundary was not physically seeing my parents because they refuse to acknowledge Dave. That hurts both of us. Yet, I created the possibility of still being as close, and loving as I can to them. I call my mom often, and we chat for hours! We haven’t exchanged gifts in about 3 years…last year was the first! I could speak with my dad more easily, too. What it boils down to, is that I can just be myself.

After all, when you’re just yourself, your completely honest self who’s not trying to resist, not trying to change, or feed into drama or create it, who could hurt you?

Beauty reigns in simplicity. It all starts with a conversation. Talk to the person you care about that you feel you have to create a boundary with. Stand firm in your belief. If the other person becomes angry, or sad, remember to not take it personally. They have a right to their feelings, too! It’s also healthy to let them express everything they need to. There will come a point in the conversation when those options are exhausted. There will be an energy shift where you feel a mutual understanding being reached. This is a good place to end the conversation peacefully. Express your care, and love for that person, and hopefully they will return it back. After this, all following conversations should be easy.

How can these boundaries be overcome if one person isn’t willing to budge, yet continues to be civil and close, but distantly?

I’ve come to believe, with Dave’s insight, that if the person in opposition truly cares, and feels that they want to reestablish a connection, or mend some aspects of the relationship- they will. They will be the one to come to you to mend some broken fences. (I have yet to experience that, fully.) But! I am happy to say that that has happened with an Aunt of mine. Dave and I are becoming closer with her, and the feeling is amazing!

Pro Tip: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ever blame the person that you’re upset with. When you blame someone, you make them wrong. In situations like these, no one is right or wrong. Keep that in mind when attempting to work it out.

Hold a space in your mind, in your heart. Your boundaries won’t last forever, but in the meantime, they will be healthy!


 

*Image result for a path and a practice by william martinQuote taken from one of my favorite, most influential books- A Path and a Practice by William Martin.

 

 

 

Flow Like Water, Sing Like Wind

“The best way to live is to be like water. For water benefits all things and goes against none of them.”

“One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do.”

-Tao Te Ching- Verse Eight

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Go with the flow. A statement so simple and clear. One that’s given in abundance, and yet unbelievably difficult to achieve when you get swept up in the hurricane of life. You could be spinning and spinning, and resisting the entire way. In resistance, you won’t find peace. In order to catch up with yourself and your life it’s essential to let go. My recent experience with a stray cat and a scare with rabies is a prime example.

My boyfriend, Dave and I decided to take in a stray cat who we’ve been seeing on and off for a few months. He is not neutered and presumed to have been part of another human family at some point due to his affection. We got minor bites. We then chose to take him to the vet to get him checked and get him a shot for rabies. And so, we did and when at the vet, the woman that took care of “Ghost Kitty” as we’ve been calling him, recommended we go to the ER or urgent care immediately as we got bit prior to the visit. Well, we didn’t think that was appropriate because we were required to keep the cat quarantined for 10-14 days and if he were to pass away, then we’d know he’d have rabies. Two days after this visit, I got unpredictably bitten extremely hard on the leg. Naturally, fear set in and then I debated on getting the rabies vaccine again, but was tortured because I wasn’t sure it was actually necessary and I was concerned for Ghost. For three or four days I travelled this roller coaster of worry- “Am I okay?” “Will I be okay?” “What do we do now?” “Is the cat going to live?” etc. I felt physically weary and mentally worked up for these days and even lost sleep.

To make a long story short, Dave and I did decide to get the vaccine and a day before that, I decided that in order to feel better, even before the shots, I had to let go of the fear that was gripping my mind. Basically, my mind was the only thing that was torturing me. It really was a case of mind over matter. Once I shook the feelings of nervousness, all of my physical stress vanished. Even better, once Dave and I had the first round of shots, we felt totally assured that we were fine, the cat was fine, and life can move on. We chose to move on and live! There was no sense in worrying.

That being said, there’s a smaller example that I’ve been struggling with on and off and that’s with money. I don’t have a steady job right now that is bringing in income. I’m working on a freelance website for editing, but those jobs are hit and miss. I’m working with my boyfriend at his storage business, but we only get one or two days a week there, and I have an ebay store and sell stuff, but that’s also hit and miss. In order to not get “stuck” in the corporate world of, “work your ass off every day just to get by”, I’m not running out and applying for any job that will get me that quick buck. Now, if I were living at home, I’ll admit I’d most likely be doing that…I must consider myself considerably lucky to be living with Dave and having him help me out every step of the way. Anyway, again, I realized I can’t keep freaking out that I haven’t as much money as I’d like. That’s totally in my control and it’s up to me to make that happen if I want it to. Along with no one doing that for me, I know that if I constantly worry, I will get nowhere either. Going with the flow and dealing with what is currently in front of me is all I can do.

Life is in constant motion; you and I are in the flow daily. Within that larger flow, we are in our own personal flow that we constantly create. Today, and every day I wish to flow like water and benefit myself and those that are around me in a blissful and peaceful state. I’ll admit, I’m not an expert at this yet; I lose my patience frequently, I rant when I’m upset over a circumstance that isn’t going in my favor, and I’ll often become negative about a situation/task if I become stressed over it. Yet, I am working to eliminate all of those behaviors. Dave is being a tremendous help to me as are those I choose to have around me. Positive friends with good vibes can get me there all the way!

So, how can YOU go with the flow today? What’s on your mind that’s bothering you? Is there a situation you’re in right now ether in your personal or work life that is just slowly chugging along and you feel like you won’t make it up that hill? If so, just pause, breathe, and realize that all things come to pass. Let the worry drain away and notice that you are in control, and if you feel that you are not in control, you can release the unnecessary tension and drama to better live a life where you can flow like water and sing like the wind that blows free over mountains, oceans, plains and valleys. Find peace with whatever you’re dealing with and think positive! Tell yourself, “Nothing can bring me down!” Deal with what comes as it comes with a peaceful heart and there will be no trouble. Life is a progress— a progress of steps, accomplishments, and failures. All of which are organic. Stress and anxiety are not organic. So, let go and go with the flow!

Namaste!