Friday, February 26, 2010

The Way of the Heart

I'm really glad to be heading to North Carolina this afternoon. Dancing Lodge. And NVC. Two of my favorite things! Both are practices that shake me down out of my head and lead me to fully inhabit my body, and to surrender to my heart. I feel like the timing couldn't be more perfect. Now, as high winds blow ferociously outside my house, and the snow is beginning to fall, I am hoping that travel conditions don't become too difficult.

In the last week, I have felt tremendous shifts of energy and presence within my body. I have felt sweet aliveness flowing into parts of myself that haven't felt alive in a long, long time. I have felt blocks in my energy blown open, sliding away as the heavy, icy meltage of the winter. I feel a warm, radiant glow in my belly, and a powerful fire in my heart. It has been a long time since this bodily expression of love has filled me, and I am grateful. I recognize how this used to be a normal state of things, normal before all the challenges of my life came to push me into crisis, to confronting things within me that needed facing. And now that this feeling has returned, part of me wants to hold on to it for all it's worth. But I realize that what is more important than the feeling itself is the practice that connects to it. Can I breathe into my own resistance even when my heart is breaking? Can I stay connected to my heart in the midst of fear, or anger? Can I breathe my body and heart into openness even when it seems too scary, when it doesn't feel safe? I'm being given those opportunities now, as well.

What would it be like to live this open, this on fire, without needing life to show up in a particular way? To root myself in the practice of truly opening as LOVE in the midst of pain, rejection, sorrow, whatever? It sounds impossible. What would it be like to open this deep in the midst of my own mind's worst spinning, too? Sounds even more impossible. Yet, that's what I am feeling called to do. As I awoke today, my body was filled with tightness, fear, loneliness. My body wanted to close, to shut down, to just go about life today as a shell of being, not as a radiant heart of being. But as I was laying there in bed, awake, I rode the breath. I took the breath into my belly where the tightness was holding. I pushed gently into the resistance. I took the breath into my heart, where fear was holding, and pushed gently into it. Today these things feel pretty strong - the fear and the tightness and the resistance. Can I choose to accept where I am in these things, while also knowing that they are merely clouds blocking the sun that burns brightly in the center of me? Today, the answer is yes.

The way that energy is moving through me right now is unprecedented in my life. I have had a number of powerful energetic shifts, some ecstatic, some scary. This is more ecstatic, for sure, but also fills me with fear. I get the feeling that life as I used to know it is never going to return, and I'm mostly okay with that. But I also feel that the barriers that have kept me in my own separate existence are really being broken down. I am no longer strong enough that my heart can shut down effectively. I am alive in the web of life - I am affected by living in this world - that I can no longer resist. My heart will fill up with love, and it will shatter. Sometimes even within the same moment.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Love Practice

I've spent a lot more of my adult life single than in relationships. I could offer a long list of reasons why. I've held on to my need to be fiercely independent, and can't imagine being pinned down. I've seen what relationships tend to be - codependent, clingy, needy, broken people trying to fill their cracks through each other. And I've wanted no part of that. I've also seen what marriages tend to become - traps set up by fear, materialism, and habit. I have ran far away from getting too deeply involved in any of that. While my life has had little romantic love compared to a lot of people, it has also had tremendous freedom - freedom to learn, to travel, to wander, to explore, to grow spiritually. And until recently, those things felt much more important than any "mere relationship."

This winter has been a time of going within, of facing some of the deepest darkness that I've held within myself. I haven't been able to hide from that darkness, nor escape it. It has filled my whole body, it has become the very fabric of my experience. I have felt utterly alone, standing at the edge of an abyss that seems bottomless. I have felt the strong winds from within that abyss pulling me into it, and I have clawed and scratched my way back up to the side of the cliff each time I have started to fall in. The terror, the sorrow, the anxiety have become palpable through this winter. I have tasted them, touched them, felt their grip on me. I have looked into the eyes of death time and again, fearing that my turn, too, will come before I have lived fully. Everything I have ever held on to has slipped away. Everything I have loved has turned to vapor. Everything I thought myself to be has simply vanished. The texture of my reality has been so utterly transformed, that almost nothing remains from before this Dark Night.

And now the energy of spring is upon us.

In each relationship I have entered into, I have worked carefully to guard the doors to my heart. I have hidden behind a veil of openness, and only let a tiny bit of the sunshine within me shine outward. I have allowed the shell of a love relationship form around me, but never have I let love burst me open like the sun. Those relationships fed me as much as they could. But I entered into each one knowing that they would never work. I knew from the first or second encounter with each one that this man wasn't right for me, not really. And yet, a part of me yearned for the little bit of love they could offer me, and to share the little bit of love that could squeeze past the tiny crevice in the door to my heart. Sometimes the intellectual connection was fabulous - and I felt loved for my mind. Sometimes the physical connection was incredible (and sometimes not) - and I felt loved as a woman. But I have never felt fully embraced and appreciated and accepted for the fullness of who I am. I never let myself get involved with a man who could love me like I want to be loved. Too scary. Too much doubt, too little trust. After all, with all that fierce independence, I might be caught like a butterfly, able to breathe freely no longer...

Things are changing though. So fast, things are changing. I feel the way that resisting love is resisting the flow of life through the universe. I feel the way that I become tense and closed, and the life force doesn't flow through. And I also feel in those moments when I allow love to flow through me without any hesitation, how I am filled with radiance and light. And I guess I'm starting to see how relationship offers a practice of that. I think I've held myself away from the messiness and chaos for as long as I can. And now, the joy and love are calling me forward. My practice, now, is to face that resistance day by day, to breathe into it, to explore it with gentleness and curiosity.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Story

I couldn't be more ready for spring. After two massive snowstorms in one week, I am feeling totally over winter. And after losing two friends in the same week, I am really ready for some joy in my life.

I completely understand on an intellectual level that everything is a creation of my mind - my reality is rooted in my perception. And I also see how my life has become dark as I have experienced a long list of challenges. And I understand that the more I keep that list going, the longer it will grow. Here's how my mind works:

My life changed in October. My beloved kitty died. The heartache was unbearable, and I felt as if I, too, were dying. And when the fog lifted just a little bit, I totalled my car. My chest was injured, and is still causing me some discomfort. And with the need to act quickly to deal with insurance and replacing my car, and with finishing massage school, I didn't have time to deal with the emotional fallout of that accident. Until I finished massage school, that is. At that point, in December, I began to have intense anxiety and panic attacks, and my body went into a powerful, scary expression of that anxiety. In the midst of that, I went to Tennessee to visit my family for a week, and the anxiety split me wide open. I couldn't stop shaking, and felt pain and strange sensations in my whole body. I was terrified, and began 2010 in a process of trying to heal from that. I started having weekly acupuncture, cleaned up my diet quite a bit, and got myself into counseling. And then, Ed died. And then Kenny died. And in the process of all of that, my neighbor started talking about Iran and uranium and the potential for a major disaster involving bombings, and we were stuck in the apocalyptic snows, unable to get out, unable to do anything about any of it...

There is a story that has started in this. I feel myself pulled into it just writing about it here, and have felt pulled into it as I have shared it with people, too. And I see how my list of horrible things just grows the more I choose to keep that list. There is also some angry, aggressive sense of "poor me" and victimhood within it, and I hear it and know it. I am so glad to have cultivated my observer well enough to at least see how I'm caught up in this. But here, standing in the midst of being caught, I also don't see how to break free of it. My head is above water, but I don't know how to push myself out of the water completely...


Inside a hostel in Cusco, Peru