The Reason We Can’t Skip Meditation

This is all well and good about transforming our energy and following God’s will but…how to do it?

The most effective, tried-and-true starting point is meditation.

As with many things spiritual, some people hear or read this word and roll their eyes. Why meditation though? Who wants or has time to sit cross-legged and struggle fruitlessly to clear their minds? It’s frustrating and boring and painful. These were my thoughts when I was first introduced to the practice.

I’ve tried many different types of meditation: Zen, guided, Shambala, visualization, even eating meditation, and I’ve discovered that the reason it is so important is that meditation teaches us how to be comfortable just being.

We do it naturally as babies, but over the years we lose the ability to simply be. Being is the starting point for living our best lives. Meditation takes us back to that starting point.

From meditation, we can move into manifestation. Once we can be, then we can make.

What happens, though, is we get caught up in the making, to the point that we lose sight of who we really are. Only by being our authentic selves can we do what we truly want and manifest the life we are meant to live.

Okay, so meditation. Different ways of meditating work for different people. If you have a negative idea of what meditation is, it doesn’t have to be that for you.

Meditation can be drinking a cup of tea. Meditation can be a walk along the creek. Meditation can be lying in the sun.


What matters most when we meditate is that we allow ourselves to be, just as we are in the present moment.

That’s what repels a lot of people about meditation, and it’s precisely the benefit. Many people are repulsed by the thought of meditating because they don’t like themselves. They know meditation brings us face-to-face with ourselves, and they don’t want to look.

Here’s the thing though: If you don’t like yourself, you’re not living your real life.

When we are true to our designs, being who we are meant to be, there is absolutely no reason not to love ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be and to express who we are, we are happy and we radiate positivity.

Meditation is the necessary starting point of positive living because when we are simply being, our hearts speak our desires and we are open to listening.

Meditation is nerve-wracking to us when we aren’t living our true lives, because we know we need to make changes. We don’t have to be terrified of change. If we know we need to change, we will be happier for it.

So pick a way of meditating that appeals to you and start small.

If you want to sit and breathe, do it for 2 minutes, then 5, then 7, then 10. There’s no rush or pressure at all in meditating.

If you want to meditate over tea, give your full attention to the process. Pouring the water, steeping the tea, watching the steam rise, sipping the tea, feeling it warm you all the way down. Savor each moment.

Meditation is a joyful practice, and it offers endless gifts. When we meditate, we receive insights into life, solutions to our problems, ideas for work and creative projects–all of which lead us where we want to go because they come from within our hearts.

Meditation is our direct line to the still, small voice of God within us. Meditation reveals what we are meant to do and what will make us happy.

That’s why meditation. It’s the first step, and it cannot be skipped over.

First we meditate, then we make our dreams come true.

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How Meaning Is Made

The question that has bothered humanity since the beginning of consciousness–and that inspires my life’s work–is “Why?”

Why are we here? What does it all mean?

We can answer all the other questions just fine–Who? What? When? Where? How? And yet the why of it all drives us mad if we let it, if we see the lack of a clear answer as uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to insecurity, which leads to fear, which very often leads to violence in some form or other. But the why is not uncertain. It is mysterious.

Over the millennia, we have created countless traditions that seek and revel in mystery. Call them wisdom, philosophy, religion, spiritual path, or whatever you will. They feed our souls and fill the void that no amount of knowledge could ever fill. At the end of the day, our beliefs are what give our lives meaning.

But what is meaning and how do we make it?

Meaning is truth created by the connection of beings through shared language.

For example, you read a book or a poem or an essay that feels like it was written specifically for you. The writer perfectly describes your experience even though you’ve never met. They’ve said it, you’ve read it, and now it’s become truth in your life. You share your new truth with your friends and family, and if it is true for them, your bond grows more meaningful.

That’s how faith traditions work. We are drawn to the truth communicated in language that makes sense to us as individuals and communities. Certain words, gestures, and practices are meaningful because they give us peace in the presence of “Why?”

The thing is, those certain words, gestures, and practices are not the same for everyone. But the end goal is.

Thus far I have sought the truth in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca and other pagan paths, metaphysics, and Yoga… and I’ve found that every spiritual path I’ve encountered, at its heart, teaches the same wisdom. We’re all going to the same place; we just have different ways of getting there.

So what’s the answer? What’s the truth? What does it all mean?

We make the meaning.

Whether you see God as a person, as energy, as emptiness, as one or many or none–the truth is. The Truth comprises all of our truths. We make it. It takes all of us.

For me, everything is meaningful. Every relationship, every event, every choice, every breath. I take my responsibility for meaning making very seriously and also very joyfully.

I believe we are here to learn, to grow, to explore, to experiment, to love, to wonder, to play, to live and to die. And that really is the why it of all.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you do something you didn’t understand or didn’t want to do? You’d ask, “Why?” and they’d say, “Because.” It’s frustrating, and it’s probably the truest thing ever.

I believe in a divine design, and we each have a part to play in its unfolding. God is in everything, and we are in God. That’s why it is so important for all of us to live out our authentic paths and purposes.

Together as a species, as a planet, as a universe, as life itself, as the divine–we are growing and creating. Maybe it’s toward something, maybe it’s just because. That’s the mystery. That’s the meaning. We’re making it up as we go.

Your life is meaningful. It matters that you grow into the person you are meant to be.

As each flower blooms, the garden becomes more beautiful.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”–that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
–John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

The Way of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not merely the “it’s okay” spoken after “I’m sorry.”

It’s not letting someone back into your heart. It’s not letting someone off the hook.

Forgiveness is letting yourself off the hook.

When we do not forgive, we are on the hook of our own pain. We cling to it, using a past wound to define the choices we make, the paths we pursue, the people we let into our lives. More truthfully, we use it as an excuse for what we don’t do.

Our grudges becomes our walls.

The walls we build out of our grudges may feel safe, but we are not meant to be caged. We need to grow. We need to explore our potential. We need to share ourselves with the world.

That’s why we need to forgive.

The truth is, forgiveness is a choice, and it is a selfish one. That’s a good thing. In this way, we should all be more selfish.

 

Forgiveness is a powerful tool and pathway to healing and wholeness, for us individually and collectively. Forgiveness is the weapon of the wise. 

 

 

Many people mistake forgiveness as something that must be received from someone else. When feeling guilty, they go to God or another person and ask for their forgiveness.

This is lazy.

To be forgiven, you must first forgive…yourself.

Forgiveness is hard work. Excruciating, actually. Because forgiveness requires us to examine ourselves, really examine ourselves and our actions.

It’s one thing to admit we’ve done wrong. Everyone makes mistakes. We all know that. It’s quite another to know why we’ve done what we’ve done.

When we look at our whole selves, we find that each of us is capable of great evil and great goodness and everything in between.

We go wrong when we isolate pieces of ourselves and ignore the whole. Maybe we maintain our self esteem by focusing only on our good qualities, unable to bear criticism. Maybe we are comfortable in self-loathing, quick to criticize ourselves. Neither of these are true or beneficial.

Likewise, when we meet someone, our opinion of them is based on our isolated observations of and interactions with them. Whether we like or dislike them, we are not giving credit to the whole person. We may praise them or disdain them based on how they treat us on a particular occasion.

Either way, we can know that they have reasons for being the way the are, doing what they do, saying what they say. As do we ourselves.

For better or for worse, we all have our reasons.

When someone hurts us, we are guaranteed that there were people and events behind their behavior we may never understand. We are also guaranteed that we have and will again hurt someone too.

Forgiveness is the conscious choice to release our grip on pain, anger, resentment. It means to accept the reality of what has happened and leave it in the past. It is the only thing that frees us to live the lives we were always meant to.

The way of forgiveness is a practice. As with anything else, it takes time and repetition to build strength and skill. We can all become adept forgivers.

To begin, start small. When one of your less desirable qualities arises–as it undoubtedly will–laugh at it. Make fun of yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. Rather than resenting this trait, accept it. It is as much a part of yourself as your best quality, and you had reasons for developing this characteristic.

Another practice is speaking your forgiveness out loud. Don’t wait until you feel ready to forgive, because that won’t happen. When you’re alone, think of the person who wronged you and say, “I forgive you.”

It won’t happen immediately, but with practice it will happen. Again, you’re not letting that person off the hook. You’re letting yourself off the hook of your pain so you can move forward.

Some wounds are so enormous they feel impossible to forgive. But if you believe it is possible and you truly want to be free, you will make it happen. The power of your faith and your will is enough. It may not look exactly like you think it should, but your life is your own to live.

We owe it to ourselves and to God and to the world to practice forgiveness. Through forgiveness, we may become our best, happiest, and freest selves.. and that is exactly what the world needs.

The Work of Anger

If allowed to, anger will overwhelm completely.

Anger is more blinding even than infatuation. When anger takes root, it breeds on itself, growing into bitterness and hatred.

Angry people live in a hateful world, one that is out to get them. To an angry person, God is wrathful and separate from us. So too are other people disconnected and isolated. Every man out for himself. Dog eat dog. No one helped me, why should I help anyone else?

Anger is a lonely business. Anger pushes people away. Anger is a rejection of God and all the blessings the Universe has to offer. When we choose to be angry, we are saying, “I am better off without the rest of the world.” The ego cuts off from the rest of the Self. Angry people are not whole people.

 

Anger is like a virus, infecting our vision and spreading to everything we contact. Anger can become a whole life, an all-encompassing outlook. It can define, and has, an entire race of people if left untreated.

So how to treat anger?

The thing is, anger cannot be cured, because anger is not the disease. Anger is the symptom of a truer emotion, and treating the symptom only prolongs the illness.

When we look behind anger, we discover heartbreak.

 

We each have our own individual heartbrokenness that we carry with us throughout life. Colloquially speaking, “Everyone’s got their shit.” Baggage, we call it.

It is true that heartbreak is universal. Everybody experiences it. It is commonplace.

In some ways, treating heartbreak as such is beneficial. We can be flippant about it precisely because we all go through it. We shouldn’t dwell on our pain, lest we prevent ourselves from enjoying all life has to offer. Individually and collectively, we need to be functional members of the human race.

At the same time, dismissal often leads to suppression. That’s how heartbreak transforms into anger.

It’s not that we aren’t meant to be angry sometimes. Anger in and of itself is not bad; it is an emotion, a response, a natural human experience–one we need to understand better.

We commit evil out of anger. We cause pain and destruction. We are participants in a karmic cycle, all guilty of doing to others exactly what was done to hurt us.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. Most of the time, angry people don’t want to take responsibility for their anger or their actions. Some people are so deeply entrenched in their anger that they don’t even see it anymore. If approached and asked, “Why are you angry,” they may respond, “I’m not angry! I’m a realist/I’m telling it like it is/It’s not me, it’s them!”

The problem is that this begins at such a young age, before we even learn responsibility. Our hearts are first broken when we are children, and we don’t know how to handle it. Our parents are of little help if they never dealt with their heartbreak either. So we grow up heartbroken people just doing our best.

But we can do better.

We can heal.

We are meant to be whole. Body, heart, mind, and soul.

Anger is our symptom, heartbreak is our disease, and forgiveness is our medicine.

 

Tomorrow’s Post: The Way of Forgiveness

 

We Know More Than Our Minds

Sometimes what you think doesn’t really matter.

When making choices, each of us has a plethora of guides to help us. We have our minds, we have our bodies, we have our emotions, and we have our intuitions.

That’s a lot of voices talking to us at once. How do we know which to listen to?

In our technology driven society, our mind is the valued source of information, while the validity of the others is diminished. This is an error in judgement.

Our emotions indicate whether something is right for us, but as we’re taught to repress them, their signals get confused.

Our bodies readily tell us when something is wrong in our life, but our culture has trained us to throw a pill at it instead of listening to it.

Our intuitions are our direct link to the energies vibrating within and all around us, but our minds dismiss its messages as irrational.

Although it is supposed to be our most reliable source of information, the mind is not actually a superior function. It is on the same level as our emotions, bodies, and intuitions. They are meant to work together. When we preference one of our guides and dismiss the others, we knock ourselves out of balance.

The problem with relying solely on the mind is that the mind can rationalize anything. And if we have it doing all the information processing and conclusion drawing, it’s gonna make a mess of things.

How often do you feel lost in your thoughts, like there’s a million voices talking in your brain pulling you in different directions?

How often do you regret picking out the one thought that should have been left alone and choose to act on it?

How often do you feel like something is wrong but you have no idea what?

Can you ever get your mind to stop talking?

Our minds are not meant to carry the load we put on them. It’s gone so far that we link our whole identities to our minds and their thoughts. No wonder we so often feel lost and confused.

When we are open to receive the messages from all four of our guides, we stop being lost. We have a path and a purpose, and we are equipped with everything we need to fulfill them.

Instead of insulting our emotions, bodies, and intuition by telling them to shut up, we should be grateful for them.

They are not like talents, stronger in some and weaker in others. Each and every one of us has these gifts and can use them to create our best lives. If they’ve gone dormant from disuse, they will happily reawaken.

The next time you find yourself frazzled, take a moment to breathe and listen. Let your mind rest and allow your other guides to speak.


What are your feelings telling you?

What is your body telling you?

What is your gut telling you?

Then trust yourself.

Sometimes what you think doesn’t matter.

But what you know always does.

 

 

 

Let Go and Let God, Let Go and Let Yourself

How many times in your life have you heard the phrase, “Just let it go”?

This is definitely one of my biggest struggles. As I meditate on the idea of letting go, I realize that I do not truly understand the nature of attachment. Why is it that I have such a hard time letting go? Of an old argument, an insult, an ex, childhood drama? To what am I truly attached?

It’s certainly not the person, subject, or words long since gone. No, what’s so hard to let go of is the idea of being right. When we “let it go,” we’re relinquishing control.

The thing is, we don’t control anything. We learn how things work and how to work with them to achieve desired results. We can collaborate or we can manipulate, but we can never actually control.

Attachment is the illusion of control. It is the projection of our ego onto something or someone else. We attach to our identities, which we create by defining truths about ourselves and the worlds we live in. To be attached to something is to believe that our perception of it is correct and its behavior will not upset the life we have built upon our understanding.

Attachment is a state of mind, not a physical truth.

You’re attached to your job, but what when you get fired 3 years away from retirement? You’re attached to your family, but what when your spouse dies unexpectedly? You are attached to your home, but what when your house is demolished in a natural disaster? You’re attached to your health, but what when you suffer a stroke and lose the use of your arm? These are extreme examples.

More often, our attachment is challenged in smaller ways. Maybe your child does something that conflicts with your values. Maybe your husband suddenly wants to make a big career change. Maybe the store is out of skim milk and you have to buy 2%.

The source of our suffering in these situations is not the person or the event or even the loss itself. We suffer because we are attached to a certain way of being.

We are happier when we let go.

 

But what is letting go, exactly? It’s certainly not this passive thing that just happens. No, letting go is a choice; it is an act. To let go is to practice surrender.

The word surrender brings up two definitions for me. The first is the raising of the white flag—to admit defeat in battle. The other is what I learned from my early years in Christianity—to give everything over to God.

I know now that they are the same thing.

When we struggle against the natural design, we will always be defeated. No matter how hard we fight, we cannot win if we are acting outside the will of the Divine.

We will be rejected by people, places, situations that are not right for us. The wrong job will suck the life out of us. We will dread going home to someone else’s true love.

When we are in a bad situation, we often fear that the alternative would be even worse. We cannot imagine a better life so we stay put, all the while our physical, emotional, and mental well-being disintegrates. This is the wrong kind of surrender.

Surrender is not the resignation and acceptance of disappointment. Surrender is the marriage of our personal wills with the will of God. Surrender is collaboration.

The book of Genesis says God made humanity in His image. Science says everything is vibrating energy. These are two ways of saying the same thing.

Everything in existence is the manifestation of the Divine. We are the Universe creating itself. That is why our personal will and the will of God are identical. We are of God and we are in God.

In yoga, a practice ends with the valediction “Namaste,” which means roughly “the God in me bows to the God in you.” Before we acknowledge mutual divinity though, we must surrender by practicing the integral pose of Savasana.

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Also known as “corpse pose,” Savasana is the posture of surrender, of letting go. The entire body relaxes. Down to the tiny muscles we aren’t even aware of–the forehead, the muscles behind the eyes, the tongue, the throat–everything releases tension and melts. Then the mind follows. In this state, the yogi consciously recognizes the state we are always unconsciously in: union with God/Source Energy.

The idea of surrender is frightening because we fear losing our sense of self. However, the opposite is what actually happens. When we surrender, we find we are more than we ever imagined. We are still ourselves, and we are also Divine.


Letting go, surrendering, marrying our wills to God’s–this is the path of happiness. When we live out our God-given designs, we learn what it means to have faith and be fulfilled.