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 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.

 

 

 

Your Breath Is Your Teacher

I’ve been thinking about breathing lately, which is not something I usually do. Even though breathing is the most necessary thing for staying alive, we tend not to give it our attention. Luckily, our bodies breathe involuntarily. What a thankless job. We should appreciate our breath. It has a lot to teach us.

I started thinking about breath recently when I found myself stressed beyond my normal level. When I had to step away from the situation, I closed my eyes and inhaled as deeply as I could. As I released the breath, I felt the space it had made in my mind.

While before I could not see beyond my stress, the breath made room for understanding and compassion for the person who caused the stress. I was taken aback, actually, by the calmness that came over me after. I replayed some of the things this person had said and done, and I found the possible sadness and pain in them, rather than just the annoyance they evoked in me. Then I realized I’ll never know why they were that way that drove me up the wall, but I knew they wouldn’t affect me so if they weren’t poking at an issue of my own. 

Our breath is powerful, the most powerful thing about us. It is more powerful than our minds and our bodies, and our breath is us as much as our minds and bodies are. We are our breath.

Expanding and contracting. Taking in and giving out. Ever ebbing and flowing as part of the whole process of being.

That’s a bit mind-blowing. And that’s good. We should blow our own minds, because we are not just our thinking minds or our acting bodies. If there is any part of the human being with which we should identify, it is our breathing breath.

Notice your breath throughout the day. At any given moment, pay attention to how you are breathing. Then observe your emotions, your physical sensations, your thoughts. Do any of these change after you inhale deeply and exhale completely three or four times? 

When I first started doing yoga, I was intrigued by the concept of “sending breath” to a specific part of the body. Surely breath only goes one place, into the lungs, right? How could I possibly make my breath go to my quads or hips or side body?

But I found it easier than I thought. All it takes, is focusing on the area where you feel tight and breathing deeply. You will feel what it means to send your breath. The life force will go where you direct it. For example, in Warrior 2, the thighs begin to burn and the hip joints reach a limit. Yet, when I “send my breath” to my hips, they open up, relax, and let me sink a little deeper into the stretch.

The truth is your body wants to stretch and grow. Your mind wants to stretch and grow. You want to grow! That’s why you find yourself in challenging situations. You want to be there. Because you want to learn the lessons you can learn only through difficulty. 

So the next time you find yourself feeling like you’re at the end of your rope, breathe and then listen. Be open to what your breath has to teach you. This is the only way forward. No doubt you’ll find you’re more flexible than you thought. 

To Grow You Must Take Root

If asked a year or two ago, what do I think of when I hear the word “foundation,” I would have said make up. Now, I would say yoga and chakras. It seems like a pretty big leap, but these associations are actually closely linked in terms of coming out and spiritual development.

When I was acting as straight, I wore foundation on my face, along with a dozen other products. I associated make up with heterosexuality and I wanted to pass within that sphere. My layer of foundation was covering up my actual foundation.

I wanted to cover up my true face because I had not developed sufficiently in my root chakra. At the base of the spine, the root chakra is where the energy of one’s security flows. This chakra is the foundation for the other principal energies–relationship, power, love, expression, wisdom, and faith–that develop in the course of a lifetime. Everything that makes a person an individual flows up from the root chakra to the rest and back down through it.

Security is established by a child’s experience of her tribe. If a child’s identity reveals itself to be in opposition to the tribal values, for example a sexual minority in a conservative religious culture, insecurity is a natural course of development.

 


In all things, a solid foundation is necessary for growth. In yoga, we begin by learning the basic poses that we build upon and return to as we develop our practice. Child’s pose, Mountain pose, Warrior 1, Downward-facing dog… These poses are the gateway to all the gravity-defying, pretzel-looking yoga poses.

And yet every yogin always returns to down dog. We never grow out of it. In fact, I’ve noticed that the more adept I become at yoga, the more difficult the foundational poses can be. As I grow, I become more aware of my body and breath in the poses. Then I discover that I still have work to do in them, more expansion to find in each stretch.

Foundation isn’t easy. To know and to be your authentic self is never easy. But it’s why we’re here.

The way we best contribute to the world is by doing the work that is authentically ours to do. Each of us has a design, and our design reveals our destiny.

In order to live our happiest, most fulfilling life, we must always be in touch with our foundation. If we are not, life will tell us. If we are in a job, relationship, environment, lifestyle that does not nurture our design, we feel it. The only way out is to “get back to basics.”

It sounds simple, but it’s not easy.

It’s not easy to admit that we already have all the answers we seek. It’s not easy to admit that we have always known what we truly want. It’s not easy to be who we are and live up to our potential.

It is easy to act like we’re lost and need something else to guide us. It’s easy to throw our hands up and say “I don’t know.” It’s easy to conform to the mold that’s more convenient for everyone else and keep ourselves small.

Each and every one of us has something special to offer the world. We have so much love to give, so much talent to share… We owe it to ourselves and to the world to let our foundation show.

When we’re living authentically, we feel secure. We know we are building our lives on solid foundation. Even though challenges will never stop, we know we can handle them. And when blessings come our way, we can happily accept them, because we know they are meant for us. We feel confident experiencing the fullness of life and giving all of ourselves to the world.

We are not meant to cover ourselves up.

We are meant to grow from our roots.