Buddhism

11/16/14 Life # , , ,

This Shit is Hard

love-and-lightI post a lot about personal growth and enlightenment (my idea of enlightenment isn’t a religious one, but you can apply to the term whatever works for you). This isn’t because I see myself as a paragon of said enlightenment. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The more I learn about the higher consciousness associated with spiritual growth, love, connectedness, and anything else you might put under the umbrella of enlightenment, the more I feel I have to learn.

Which is why it’s particularly disappointing to see people I respect and admire, people who routinely spout love-filled ideology, behaving in ways counter to their supposed spirituality.

Listen, I get it. It’s not easy to deal with some of the situations life throws our way. It’s not easy to decipher the truth of a situation when everyone has their own version (and we see things through a lens uniquely altered by our own experiences, loyalties, and agendas). It’s not easy to watch the people we love targeted, belittled, hurt, shamed, excluded. But as I try to learn and grow, to become a better person really, my goal is to bring love and light to every situation, ESPECIALLY those where it’s difficult to do so. And while I’d love to say I always do this, the truth is that it’s not always possible.

Because this shit is HARD.

So when I find myself in a situation where I want to rage, where I want to be my smallest, meanest, most petty self, my goal shifts. Then I am aware that I am just not capable of bringing light and love to the situation, and my goal becomes to NOT bring more darkness to it. In those situations, it’s sometimes all I can do to mediate on the issue at hand, to STAND SILENT rather than BE MEAN. Yes, I would like to be the kind of person who can always bring light and love to a situation, but the truth is, I’m just not there yet. Sometimes I can pull it out, but other times it takes everything I’ve got just to NOT BRING DARKNESS.

As I share my own journey, the last thing I ever want is to be a hypocrite, to be less than honest about where I’m at on the path. But there is one thing I can say with certainty – it has been a long, long time since I have been outwardly mean, small and petty, even in a very trying situation. Inwardly, I still struggle with these things from time to time. Of course I do. But I have finally gotten to the point where I can’t remember the last time I’ve said or done something to make someone feel bad about themselves, their behavior, their journey. The point where I can honestly say that a majority of the time, I strive to make people feel loved and worthy of love.

Because here is the truth; there has never been a spiritual teacher, or even someone I respect and admire spiritually (again, not a religious definition for me, make the connection to this word that suits you), who has spent their time pointing out the flaws of others, criticizing them, being mean and petty and small and making others feel mean and petty and small. The people I admire spiritually aren’t always perfect. They are often people who will acknowledge, again, that this shit is hard. But neither do they bring more darkness to already-dark situations. Instead they bring the light, or at the very least, turn inward to work on themselves until they can.

So the next time you find yourself in a trying situation, try asking what you can do to bring love and light to it. And if you can’t, that’s okay. Just don’t bring darkness. Look inward instead and work on being the kind of person who can. And if you are the unfortunate target of darkness-bearing people (especially those cloaked as light-bearers), retreat and bring light to yourself — and find others who will join you in keeping the torch lit, and of course, in passing it on.

<3

 

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11/13/14 Life # , , , , , , ,

You Are Not In Jeopardy

All_Is_WellIf I ever get a tattoo, this is what it will say.

I think these words often, ever since I read a quote that went something like; “Do not for a moment entertain the idea that you are in jeopardy.” I wish I could remember who said it! Rumi maybe?

In any case, those words changed the way I think about fear and worry and strife and the never-ending obstacles that can feel like a necessary part of life’s bargain. As soon as I read them, I felt a burden lifted from my shoulders. Of course, I know now that this is because all our fear and stress and anger and disappointment is a result not of the events that happen in our lives, but of the way we think about them and our attachment to the outcome. But back then I only knew that I felt… relief at the idea that I am okay.

I AM NOT IN JEOPARDY.

What powerful words. My mantra, ALL IS WELL, is just a shorter way of saying it.

I repeat the phrase often. I repeat it when I’m worried about paying for braces or college or about that strange sound coming from my car (and how much it’s going to cost to fix). I repeat it when I wonder if — yes, IF — I will sell another book and when I’m feeling like a hack and a has-been (it happens more often than you might think). I repeat it when I wonder if my brand is shot to hell from writing different kinds of books and if I’ll ruin my career by doing something bold and ill-advised. I repeat it when I’m thinking about my kids moving out of the house and the now-imminent moment (exhilarating and terrifying!) when I will have long stretches of time to fill with something other than the mindless tasks of making lunches and driving people everywhere.

These simple words have the power to calm the shallow breath and knotted stomach of anxiety. They have the power to ground me in an instant – whether I’m driving in the car saying them out loud or standing in a check out line repeating them in my head. But I know it isn’t the words themselves that do the job. It’s the knowledge — the REMINDER — that all really IS well. It’s well because I say it’s well. It’s well because, in the words of another famous, unattributed quote, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, it’s not the end.” The only sure thing in life is that everything is always changing. Don’t like what’s going on, how you’re feeling, what someone is saying? Ride it out and it will pass. Try it the next time you are worried or scared or beaten down. Take a few slow, calming breaths and say the words.

All is well. I promise.

<3

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09/22/14 Life # , , , , , , ,

Let It Breathe

hafiz_quoteFor years now I’ve had a recurring dream. The details are never exactly the same, but I’m always lost someplace, trying desperately to get out because I MUST be somewhere else immediately. When my children were younger, it was usually that I was supposed to pick them up, and I knew they were waiting for me on the other side of a mall or city or office building that I couldn’t seem to navigate. Floors changed from gymnasiums to hospitals, hallways turned into mazes from which there was no escape, and city blocks seemed to morph before my eyes into an unrecognizable landscape. I’d end up wandering around, thinking, “But that corner was RIGHT HERE.”

Saturday night I dreamed that I was in a strange kind of dorm with my daughter. We were supposed to man a booth for charity at a flea market, but we’d both woken up late. She wanted to throw clothes on and go, but I preferred to take a quick shower first so I wasn’t so out of it. We were still negotiating when she decided to leave without me. So I tried to find my way there, but the harder I tried to escape the dorm building, the more lost I became. Eventually I decided to go to the first floor, reasoning there would at least be access to an exit, but when I got there it was a hospital with sick people in every room and no exits I could find. When I went back up to the second floor, it had become a sports arena, and in my dream, I wasn’t even sure I’d been on the second floor of the dorm to begin with.

And all the while, the minutes ticked by. I kept checking clocks on the walls only to find that it had become so late in the afternoon that there was hardly a point trying to get to the flea market at all. I woke up panicked, with a familiar knot of anxiety in my chest that told me how wound up I’d been even in my sleep.

After that, I thought a lot about why I keep having these dreams, and why they make me so anxious, and I realized it’s never the being LOST that freaks me out; it’s always the fact that I’M SUPPOSED TO BE SOMEWHERE ELSE. It’s that ticking clock telling me I’m late, that itinerary telling me I have somehow failed my responsibilities. Such an obvious connection to real life that “metaphor” hardly applies!

It seems there’s always someplace else I’m supposed to be, something else I should have done by now. I’m never where I believe I SHOULD be. Shouldn’t I be on some bestseller list somewhere by now? Shouldn’t I have won some kind of award? Shouldn’t there be a movie or TV show about ONE of my books? Shouldn’t I have more financial security? And this isn’t an entitlement thing. It’s a “what the hell have I been doing with myself?” thing.

But the answer is simple. I’m on the road. I’m working and raising kids and learning and growing and experimenting (when I have the luxury), and yes, making mistakes, too. I’m here because I need to be here, and because there is some purpose to this particular hallway, this particular floor. There is something important I haven’t yet seen or done on this city block, and I think I will be better off if I just stop looking at the clock and instead take a deep breath and look around.

<3

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09/09/14 Life # , , , , ,

Why Are We Here Again?

We_are_here_to_healI love this quote so much. I think from now on, if I have a quandary, I’ll just look at this and ask myself; what will bring healing? What will bring love? What will allow me to create something beautiful? Or alternately, will this action or these words harm anyone? Will they destroy?

It’s a very human response to think about how our decisions will affect us. Will this contribute to my personal gain? Will it make me look good? But what if we put those concerns aside and thought only about this? What a relief!

And it kind of makes every decision seem simple, doesn’t it?

Sending you healing, love and creation, Sweet Friends!

<3

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07/21/14 Life # , , , , ,

Focus Creates Expansion

Focus_Expansion_QuoteSometimes the Universe is so quiet. Other times, it speaks so loudly we can’t ignore it. A couple of weeks ago I read an article written by a man about to divorce his wife. The article was centered around things he wished he’d known earlier in his marriage. The fact that I clicked through at all is a bit strange; I don’t read many relationship-related articles (I haven’t been in one for six years) nor divorce-related ones (mine is well behind me, as is any angst related to it). But for some reason I found myself reading anyway. It was all kind of basic stuff about appreciating someone and not sweating the small stuff. Then I came to this (I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t remember where I saw it);

That which you focus on expands.

I felt the beginnings of an epiphany, but I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I realized, two weeks later, that I was still thinking about it. About how true it is, in relationships, yes, but in life, too. Then a few days ago, I saw this on the Abraham-Hicks page;

“Continuing to tell stories of shortage only continues to contradict your desire for abundance, and you cannot have it both ways: You cannot focus upon unwanted and receive wanted… ”

And I immediately thought; “expansion.”

It’s kind of crazy that I never thought about this before now. But of course, it makes sense. It’s like looking out the window and seeing dew on the grass, then being surprised when it’s wet and cold on your bare feet. Of course, the things we focus on expand — in relationship, careers, love and life. Of course, we contradict our desire for abundance when we focus on shortage. We don’t necessarily feel like we’re focusing on the negative, but if we’re thinking about the things we don’t have, about what everyone else has, in terms of money or love or recognition or freedom or health, the energy we need to manifest those things for ourselves is diverted into the unproductive task of dissatisfaction. And dissatisfaction, my friends, is a full time job.

It all keys into something I deeply believe; that the universe has everything we need in abundance. There is no shortage of love or money or recognition, no finite “pot” that must be split 7 billion ways (although we can certainly make the argument that the current distribution doesn’t always seem fair, but that’s a different discussion). The trick, then, is to live it. To expand not just our thoughts, but ourselves. I almost typed “Easier said than done” here, but that’s not really true. It’s actually easier to focus on the things that are available to us. Which is everything. I truly believe that! Do you?

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Michelle Zink is the award-winning author of over seven novels. She lives in New York with too many teenagers and too many cats.
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