Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lighten Your Load

Purge… and suddenly you discover you have riches beyond your wildest dreams.

I’m sitting in our living room while just outside our windows, the garbage men are hauling and heaving our 30-some odd feet of curbside trash. Well, ok, I use the word “trash” loosely. As they say: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Every four months, an event called “Bulk Trash Pick-Up” occurs in Historic Annapolis. It’s a popular custom in our neighborhood to go cruising the streets, rummaging through the piles of stuff people have pulled out of their houses – some perfectly good stuff laying patiently at the street, waiting to be driven off to some far-away landfill. More than a number of times we have come across what at the time, appeared to be some “good finds”. For instance, there was that time we discovered someone was throwing away four, perfectly good movie theatre seats – what a coup! Of course they went straight to the basement and stayed there until we finally hauled them out to the street for yet another round of “finders/keepers”.

This time we purged BIG. Our attic, closets and basements had been overrun with 21 plus years of accumulated stuff. So over the weekend our dear (and brave) friends helped us (very nearly) empty our basement in preparation for a mega-yard sale, strategically planned for just prior to bulk pick-up. Translation: NOTHING goes back into the house, it moves straight out to the street.

So, watching as our belongings are tossed mindlessly into the big, trash hearse for that final resting place, I feel a sense of lightness in letting go and at the same time a sense of sadness about how much we have contributed, over our lifetimes, to the ever growing landfills. We are a culture of “conspicuous consumers”, mindlessly buying, hoarding, then ultimately eliminating. Why do we need so much STUFF?? Why do we SAVE so much stuff? What are we afraid will happen when we no longer “own” it? This brings to mind something I heard recently: an original Native American custom portrays the richest family of the tribe as the one that owns the least. It is customary to give away your belongings so that others may prosper, with the belief that you will be held and supported. THAT is faith.

So, in light of our recent purging in preparation of selling our house and letting go of what we have called home for over 13 years, I am reminded, yet again, of what I have attached myself to and identified with. It is a life-long meditation on realizing that your “stuff” does not reflect who you are, nor will it sustain you for the long haul. You truly do have everything you need - right inside your own heart, and you will be held and supported no matter how difficult it feels to let go.

Sat Nam!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dead Sharks

Relate… and suddenly you are swimming in the waters of unification.

There invariably comes a time in many of our lives when we are forced to ask ourselves what “serves us”, particularly regarding the matter of relationship. We move through our lives making friends, lovers, acquaintances, business contacts… an endless stream of meetings, greetings, connections and partings. We all have had the experience of discovering that ideal simpatico camaraderie, sharing similar likes and dislikes. There is that perfect rush of totally connecting through dynamic dialogue, mutual inspiration, and just plain being comfortable together.

But, what happens when all of that relating begins to break down - when we start to feel the threat of a history unraveling? Gradually (or suddenly, in some cases), we begin to feel things differently: maybe we’re not being heard or feeling misunderstood, there are lapses in communication and not as much time spent together… what exactly is it that moves the relationship to this next, almost inevitable, phase? Time? Personal growth? Geographical distance? Most likely, if we look more closely, we can see it has been brewing for longer than we may care to see. And it is perhaps here we see the cold, hard fact —truly: “nothing lasts forever”.

Learning to let go of relationships that no longer feed us, or contribute to our overall inner growth, is a hard nut to swallow and is perhaps even a time to grieve— as we are saying goodbye to teachers who have helped shape us into the very beings we embody today. But, to paraphrase Woody Allen: “Relationships are like sharks– they have to keep moving forward in order to survive…” And with that said, some of us may find ourselves relating to his final thought on the matter: “I think what we have here is a dead shark.”

Keep it moving forward, or move on.
Blessings and peace.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In Your Right Mind

Expand… and suddenly you can’t ignore your own vastness.

Someone recently sent me a link to a video from the web site (videos from “the annual conference that brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)”

The speaker that was brought to my attention is Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph. D. – a neuroanatomist (brain scientist). One morning, Taylor had the opportunity to study her own brain – from the inside out – as she realized she was having a massive stroke. She articulates her experience in great detail, giving us a first hand account of being inside a body that is experiencing the complete shut down of the left hemisphere of the brain. As most of us are aware by now, the left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order. It’s also the part of ourselves that we use to define who we are (ego?). The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly. It is the side that experiences our feelings, sensations, the here and now (conscious awareness?). It was Taylor’s left side that experienced the blow out – leaving her to solely experience her right, or intuitive side, freely, without the input of her logical, identity-defining self: “I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.

I bring all this to light because what strikes me so profoundly is not only her amazing recovery, but the gift she received through her own personal experience, to bring this important message to the world – a brilliant scientist who experienced a connection with the divine – through her own study of her massively debilitating physical trauma with her own scientific mind.

It might be easy to shrug off the radical, tarot toting, jewelry dangling, evangelistic astrologist – but, as more and more people of modern science step forward with their own stories and discoveries and awakenings, more of us in modern culture will perhaps begin to explore for ourselves the mysteries of our own deeper meaning, and perhaps lead us to expand into the vastness of wholeness and oneness and peace.

Be… in your right mind!
Sat Nam!