peace

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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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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