Monday, April 26, 2010

Practice Being Present-Over and Over Again

The other day I spent about 30 minutes recoiling a hose in a new direction. It was like wrestling an anaconda. It was worn in a specific direction, molded to the pattern of its coil. This task practically had me cursing...which I only do when I am really mad and provoked. The hose was stubborn and resistant. It required all of my strength, all of my focus and all of my weight (literally, standing on top of it) to get it to change course. I kept at it, knowing that as I redirected the flow, it would get easier and easier over time for the hose to follow its new pathway. I thought... "this is just like life!" Sometimes there are stubborn habits to change, and it takes action to shift the pattern and create a new functional way of literally "rolling" with life. And, with practice, the rerouting gets easier and easier. Whether shifting an attitude or a neurological pathway, no matter how challenging the internal or external change may seem, the willingness to practice presence makes all the difference.

Waking up to the moment, in a tangle of hose, I saw that I was being resistant and stubborn. Further, I was not present or connected. I wanted to get through my chores quickly so that I could get on with the other "more important", less mundane items on my to do list. I laughed at myself. I wondered...Why am I hurrying, making this a "chore", and getting angry at a hose because it will not cooperate with my agenda? And what is more important than being present to whatever is before me? Life as it is, appearing moment to moment is always the obvious and ideal opportunity to open to, rather than contract to life. It is what is most important. And, when I eliminate mental gyrations, past rumination and futurization, all that is real is now, and now, and now.

In an instant of humble self reflection, I took a deep breath and noticed I had been gripping internally with shallow breathing. I dropped the hose that I'd kept tugging, forcing and reshaping, and went to the base of the coil, directly to the kink that needed attention, and focused there. I stopped and looked up, breathed the floral scent in the air, marveled at the crisp blue sky, and became more attuned to my surroundings. I felt the current of life take me, instead of struggling against it. From that moment on, getting present allowed for a more seamless, enjoyable flow to my day...even while recoiling the hose.

Sometimes these shifts are easy, other times, not so much. Dealing with a relentless internal critic, a whining child (or adult, including myself), or an argument with my beloved can be more heart and gut wrenching. It is one thing to blast my frustration at a is another to be reckless with the heart of another. I watch myself snap, lash and bite...and I pray for presence, patience and forgiveness. Being in reactivity, resistance and control serves nothing.

I am in the process of rerouting pathways that jump to react without pausing to respond. While I still hit tangles and kinks, I stumble less and practice presence more. Coming home to what is essential becomes more natural...the breath of life, real connection, seeing and feeling what and whom is before me, honoring the miracle of existence is always accessible.

This morning I woke up with a stomach full of butterflies and excited anticipation for the ZaBoomBa premiere. I so much want to give my best. I could feel the potential of spinning out on worries and fears and mentally generated strategies. Yet staying present to the moment IS giving my best (and far more effective, actually, than any other options). As I allowed deep breath and a humble wash of tears, I recognized how far I have come in just "being with" and practicing presence. In the past I might have tried to "fix" that anxiety away, to inflate or push my way through this uncomfortable tangle of feelings inside, to resist and struggle, just like I did with that hose last week. Instead, I did as my dance/life mentor, Rosangela Silvestre encourages us to do, "be naked. Get out of the way and let the Universal Energy flow through you."

In staying present and shedding layers of all that I think I know, and want to control, all that I think I am or should be, I allow space for The Universe to shine through. This is a present moment experience and cannot be forced or calculated. Surrender. This is becoming the Universal Body and dancing the dance of Light! I humbly pray to practice being present, over and over again. How about you? How do you embody the Universal flow and call yourself to the present moment?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Work/Life Balance-It is YOUR Time! How do you want to ENJOY it?

Well, it has been another stellar day in the Universe.
By 8:30 am, my dear friend, Kuumba (check out her luscious herbal products) and I were on top of our favorite Tucson mountain peak, which she has affectionately named The Stairway to Heaven! It is a direct ascension into pure bliss, nature consciousness. Simultaneously, it is a descent into the core of our strong bodies, and a merging with the spirit of the mountain. Mother Nature always provides. I take step after step and breath after breath of this strenuous climb, and she soothes my soul, reminding me of my commitment to life. As my heart thumps with momentum, life force bursts and beams with radiance all around me. This year the rains have been so generous in the Sonoran desert. The wildflowers, in every color dance across the mountain landscape and the bright green new growth is fecund.

The process of the climb and the outrageously stunning view from the top, with swooping sparrows, hawks and glorious wilderness - with city, so tiny and far down below, puts everything in my life into perspective. My mood soars, my heart is humbled. Just yesterday, I was feeling bogged down with work; stressed and annoyed at my busy schedule, short tempered and yearning for some down time. Today, I claimed it.

My dear friend Britt (Check out her inspiring blog and work) had just sent me this article, inspired by our ongoing conversation about what makes for a rich, authentic life.

Writer Anne Lamott shared, “the foundation of almost all wisdom that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty. Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this."

I just loved this. I have been fortunate enough to live what is mostly a life of fulfillment and wonder. Though I admit, sometimes even the creative work, that is my joy becomes too full, tiring, out of balance - driven by agendas. Living in our culture and cultivating non doing can seem like an upstream swim at times. Though I value simply being, slowing down and staying present, I need to choose it as often as possible.

The allies and opportunities to remind me are everywhere. My mountain top meditation gave so much. The mountain spirit even gave me a bit of 'a talkin' to.'

"Savor your life. Be more patient. Cherish your loved ones. The life of your dreams is here, now. Not when the work is done. Not when there is more money. Not when there is more space. Receive it now. Give thanks."

With gratitude, presence and contentment, we ran down the trail in half the time of our approach. We felt more energized than when we'd began, regenerated by a frequency of total abundance. The myriad of reasons to feel stressed now felt unimportant and dissolved away, and the reasons to feel grateful just kept expanding.


In the afternoon, Talia and I made chocolate cupcakes for another dear friend, Kimi's (MultiDisciplinary Artist/Educator) birthday. We have made it a mother-daughter tradition to bake for birthdays. We experiment with alternative ingredients - coconut and brown rice flour - never measuring anything. Mostly our experiments are delicious, but even if they weren't nothing would be lost. I practice being relaxed with Talia's messy mixing and constant desire to dip her finger in the batter. I delight in the alchemy of creating together.

Today, Ziggy Marley sang in the background "Lift up your hearts with a smile, lift up your feet with a dance, lift up your spirits with a song". We sang and danced along. Talia used her batter covered spatula (the licking trophy) as a microphone. As our goodies baked, we watered our backyard plants (which I inherited from yet another dear friend!). We loved up our fuchsia bougainvillea, aromatic jasmine, bright yellow brittle bush and a community of inspiring green beings. The wind chimes sang, the quail, doves and cactus wren chatted. We laughed, splashing each other under the sun-kissed blue sky - views of the mountains in every direction. Heaven on Earth.

All the other "work details" still got attention. Yet everything I touched today felt lighter. It all had a flavor of effortless flow. I experienced that phenomena (many of you know well) of accomplishing more in less time, while also additionally enjoying quality restorative and family space.

I have no complaints at all whatsoever. Time is what I make it. It is my time, it is your time. It is THE time. How do you want to enjoy it?

"Now is when it is. Here is where it is. You are what it is. Celebrate."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Your Second Chance at LIFE is Here, Now.

Lately the offering of heartache as blessing has been strong in my psychic/dreaming space. Today's post comes with loving intentions that it will touch a place in you that needs to bloom open.

Five years ago, in 2005 I was pregnant. I was thrilled, terrified, excited and awed. At 13 weeks , just past my first trimester, I started bleeding and over the course of the next 24 hours, painfully labored and miscarried.

The mystery of life and death moved through me. I plummeted into a deep depression and crisis of faith. I found myself grief stricken, broken hearted, confused and angry. For the next many months, I found it challenging to get out of bed and face the day. Residing in the world of the living felt hard and heavy and I wished at times that life would just go on without me.

Thanks to the love of community and engagement in creative expression and sacred movement I was able to embrace this passage with breath. It was a dark wormhole of transformation. I cried an ocean of tears during that time and I often wondered if my true joy and trust in life would ever return.

That season:
  • I humbly learned that being in "God's Grace" did not mean always having "my way".

  • I discovered that my broken heart was more of a being broken open. My capacity to love, was expanded beyond measure.

  • I embraced and honored the sober reality of death and the temporal nature of so many aspects of life on Earth.

  • I was returned to the Source of what is Eternal.

  • I was able to see, even in the depths of it, that I was being held in grace all along, and that this devastating experience was actually an offering. As beloved sister, teacher, Vanessa Stone would say, it was my perfect prescription for awakening.
That miscarriage was my first intimate experience with death. Moving with and through that process deepened me spiritually and matured me emotionally. It served my evolution in countless ways, that in turn, allow me to serve others. Death and loss became my calling to life... to fully receiving and being alive.

For many months I grappled with fears. I was afraid to open up and trust life and love again. I was afraid of pregnancy. Would I even be able to conceive? Would I be able to carry full term? Could I handle going through this ordeal again? Would I ever get another chance?

There was a turning point where I tuned into a cellular wisdom that said that as long as I was still breathing, it was my responsibility to give my best to life. I remember weeping while listening to Second Chance, a song by Deva Premal and Miten. It pierced right through me and spoke directly to my heart... (Take a listen). My fetus had died. The dream of how that particular reality might unfold had died...but I was still alive. I realized that as long as I was still living, I belonged to life! This was my second chance. Right here, right now.

And so, I became a devotee of life. the core.

Fast forward to last week, March 31, 2010. Kenya, Talia and I attended an amazing Kirtan concert of Krishna Das and Deva Premal and Miten. We all relaxed into a sweet communion of devotional chanting. At one point, Miten started strumming that beautiful song... "And my heart whispered inside, the moon rose and the angels sighed...and they said,
Here comes your second chance, you better believe it. Open up and receive it...Take a deep breath, this is your second chance."
In a flash of memory and a flood of tears, the entire experience I just shared swept through my heart, bursting it open even more. I had come full circle. My 3 year old daughter was cuddled sleeping on my lap. I had gotten my second chance at pregnancy, at motherhood, at life. In total trust, in pure love, in deep gratitude, I wept and sang my way through the rest of the concert.

Whatever the circumstances of our heartache, we all endure our darkest nights. And, with grace, we do come out the other side. Perhaps, like me, you have discovered that we are capable of accessing infinite "second chances". As Miten said last week, "every deep breath is a second chance". As long as we are alive, it is never too late to detangle knots of contraction, worry, or fear...To dislodge clogs of grudge, bitterness or hurt...To soften a hardened heart and surrender...To receive ourselves as devotees of life as we move on as love. This awesome great mystery of life, of living and dying all within eternal being, is a boundless well of blessing and opportunity.

What does your heart whisper inside? Need a second chance? Here it is...

"...And we all come and go like waves in the sea each with our own responsibility to leave this world more beautiful than we found it..."