Wednesday, February 20, 2013

LIFE IS THE BIG ROMANCE.

With a love that's raw
She will say, "Sabrina, your love must not depend on sad-eyed boys. You can be in love with sunflower dresses and vegan lasagna and Rice Krispie Treats and rain and skateboarding and Martha Graham and angel fountains. Then the sad-eyed boys will come. Eventually their fear will fade and they will come." -Francesca Lia Block in "Safe Love"

In October 1999, I was 15 years old and a devout reader of Seventeen magazine. Most months delivered content that wasn't particularly enlightening for a young woman (HOT nail polish colors for summer!! Does he like you? How to get him to like you!!). However, in October 1999 Seventeen published a short story by Francesca Lia Block, lines of which are quoted above and still resonate with me. Every time I would get my feelings crushed, I would return to that quote like a salve for the wound, reminding myself of the importance of continuing to love even in the midst of the experience of great heartache.

14 years later I am a (sort of) grownup woman, attending the classes of a great teacher who is delivering the same message: stop being a slave to your emotions and learn to exist in a pure state of Being. Rather than being in love with, having faith in, being grateful for or devoted to, he encourages us to just be In It all the time...In Love, In Faith, In Gratitude, In Devotion...without attaching an object to these states and making them conditional. In a perfect place of mastery, our love, faith, gratitude and devotion would depend on nothing. We would love, believe, be grateful and devote without end.

What makes this difficult is not being good with what is, which is not to say that dissatisfaction should be quelled like a Stepford wife. On the contrary, dissatisfaction is an important impetus for change. It becomes destructive when we sit around in it for too long, whining, harumphing, blaming, playing the victim and refusing to take accountability for the ways in which we might be responsbile for the mess before us. Even if the situation we're in was completely brought upon us, we are still responsible for how we feel about it and what happens next. And make no mistake: what happens next is entirely dependent upon our attitude about what is happening now.

This is why I have spent the last few years working with the idea that everything is a gift and an opportunity. Our work is to pay attention to what is on offer in moments of devastation, struggle and suffering. My experience is that I will revisit the same lessons over and over in different people and places until I grasp the meaning and purpose. This is my karma to work with and through, and requires a paradigm shift. Difficulty and discomfort can become my dear friends. They can be mirrors, showing me the places that need shining and refining. They can gift me with the opportunity to push beyond my limits to a place of infinite potential. Isn't that wonderful?

If you are lonely, heartbroken, in pain, uncomfortable, spend a little time there before you start finding your way out. Have the courage to completely feel what you're feeling. Embrace your pain as the great gift and teacher that it is, take in everything empowering and uplifting that it offers you, and let go of everything else about it. Go on getting good with what is. That may mean shifting expectations and letting go of outcomes, and definitely means taking responsibility for how you feel and for your next move.

Eventually, we may be able to reach a balanced point where each of our experiences in life can be registered evenly as just that- an experience. Maybe we'll be able to say, "Wow! I am having an experience!" and allow it to be a gift and opportunity regardless of how our five senses perceive what is happening. We're attempting to override very deep, old conditioning that's trained us to be swayed to distraction/destruction by our shifting emotions. Like everything else worthwhile, it will take practice and patience to change. The gift on offer in all this, though, is freedom from the narrow perceptions of the mind and entry in to a place where everything is experienced, with joy, as One, and anything is possible.

Your love must not depend on...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shedding Skin

He lifted the tome out of my bag and asked what he was holding. I explained that it was my notebook, but that over the years it became a catchall for anything precious I wanted to keep- recipes, photographs, journal entries, lists of pros and cons, boarding passes and train tickets, poetry, letters I never sent and some I did. It was a beautiful handmade Christmas gift from a dear former love and has been a silent witness to the steady cycle of  destruction and recreation in my life over the last five years.

Only five years? Is that really possible? Can it really only have been five years when so much has happened since? This time five years ago I was in love, living in San Francisco in the Tenderloin, working for the culinary school and attending my first Kundalini yoga classes. I had had my first Reiki atunement the previous fall and this introduction to alternative healing, plus taking sliding scale classes at Yoga to the People in Berkeley, planted the seed in my mind for a community alternative healing center. Spurred on by this vision and the need I felt to immerse myself in alternative healing, I jumped in to massage school, thus beginning the wild, meandering chapter of my life that somehow delivered me to Los Angeles.

Laughing at my explanation, he told me it was time to let go. I could hardy believe how precisely correct he was in his assessment. While I long ago let go of romantic ties to the love who gifted me the notebook, there is so much more to it than that. This book represents the passage through not just a chapter of my life but an entire volume. I am literally and figuratively in a drastically different place now than I was five years ago, or than I ever have been. Yet here I am carrying all that history around through my daily life. I have reinvented myself many times but keep all the previous incarnations tucked between the pages, occasionally slipping back in to these old skins for the sake of comfort or habit.

What is past will no longer do, though. Thriving in the world today requires the most intelligent, advanced versions of ourselves. Skins that were shed aren't meant to be kept. They no longer fit and serve no purpose beyond showing us how much we've grown. We belong to the present moment, as fully unfolded, expressed and expansive as we've come to be. We have worked too hard to become so bright and hide in the shadows of what was.

Although the old served me faithfully and beautifully while it served me, it's time for a new notebook. The future needs fresh pages to fill. Let go let go go on.

You have grown, changed and learned so much, and yet...What outgrown versions of yourself or your habits do you carry with you?