Being My Authentic Self

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Be Yourself

The very energy of life is the spirit released by being what we are.  Mark Nepo

I am struck by how often I yearn to be all that I am meant to be.  What makes me believe I am not living my authentic life?  This is a question I often ponder.  Who am I beneath the layers of cultural expectations and learned behaviors?  I know that beneath all of these layers is my Divine Essence. That spark that I entered this life with. I touch her when I experience awe or wonder at the beauty that surrounds me, or deep sharing with friends, or playing a game.  Often, I am reacting or responding to the daily rush of activities.

My question again, who is responding—–my authentic core or my highly developed ego based on cultural norms? I read a piece on “Lifehack” by Mandy Kloppers where she listed some things we should not care about. Reading over the list I thought, Yes.  When I care about these things I am trying to fit in instead of listening to and following my inner wisdom. Below is a condensed version of what she recommends:

1. Don’t care about what others think.  The minute you do you begin trying to please them, which in turn gives them power over your actions.

2. Don’t fret over past mistakes.  We all make mistakes and actually that is the only way we learn.  Perfection is highly overrated. We can only be ourselves when we give ourselves permission to try new things and experiment.

3. Don’t focus on what you don’t have.  Our culture is so consumer driven that we believe we need more, more, and more.  We begin comparing our lives to others.  Comparing ourselves to others creates a mindset of lack.  There is always a loser in comparison and it is generally the one comparing.

4. Worrying about the “what ifs” takes us out of our own fullness and keeps our lives small.  When you begin trusting your inner voice, you are living from your authentic self. 

5. Wishing your current life away by thoughts of “I’ll be happy when…” This one phrase puts your life on hold. Wishing your current life away is a precious waste of happy moments.  

6. Don’t live your life regretting what can’t be undone.  Look at what you’ve regretted in life, learn from it and let it go.  Regrets hold us in a past that can’t be changed.  

Step into your present life with the valuable lessons you have learned and enjoy what life offers today.

 

The Mystic Within

When it’s over, I want to say, all my life I was a bride married to amazement.  Mary Oliver

I dedicate this piece to Mary Oliver, whom we lost this week.  She was a true mystic, present to the amazing beauty of nature that surrounds us every day.  The mystic sees the sacred in the ordinary.  The mystical path takes us from our head to our heart.  It is a path of mystery, awe, wonder, and gratitude.

When I am fully present to life, I am able enjoy the birds in my backyard, the park I am able to walk everyday, and the antics of the squirrel that has outsmarted me each day.  This beautiful squirrel continues to eat my birdseed and bird suet.  I finally went out and bought a squirrel baffler.  Looking out in the yard later I noticed the squirrel sitting on a branch of the tree looking at the baffler.  He looked up, he looked to both sides, and then stared at the baffler.  I am smiling and thinking “Ha got you!”  All of a sudden he crouches down, takes a flying leap up under the baffler and proceeds to enjoy the suet.  As I watched this great display of nature, I was feeling no stress or tension, I was just smiling and enjoying the intelligence of this little critter.  He is now part of my wildlife backyard.

Abraham Maslow once said, “The great lesson from the mystics is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family…in one’s backyard.”  Yes, it is what Abraham Heschel calls “Radical Amazement,” the ability to see the world through the eyes of awe and wonder, and to be amazed and astonished at the beauty, complexity, and synchronicity that graces our lives.

Mary Oliver shared her mystical soul with us through her poetry.  I thank her for waking me up to a form of earthy, accessible, and mystical poetry.  I close with her three recommendations for life:

Pay attention
Be Astounded
Tell Someone

May you know in your heart that animal-close-up-fur-47359we are all born mystics.  Being a mystic is as natural as experiencing wonder.

Silence is My Tuning Fork

cairn-fog-mystical-background-158607.jpegSilence is something like an endangered species.  Gunilla Norris

I have spent most of my life running from one activity to another, taking little time to experience the quiet of silence.  I have finally learned that silence is my tuning fork. When I stop and am still my fragmented parts come together.  It is in silence that I renew and reenergize myself, giving me the ability to fully experience life.

I’ve always considered myself to be an extrovert. Now as I age I’m beginning to believe I was a trained extrovert. Coming from a family of extroverts, my way to be seen in my family was to model their behavior. Now as I embrace my need for silence, I find peace in a more contemplative life.  Is it age?  Or, am I finally coming home to who I am meant to be?  Probably a bit of both.

Mary Sharratt, in her recent book A Book of Silence describes two different reasons for moving toward a more contemplative life.

Religious or eremitc silence, not just in the Christian tradition but in Buddhism as well, is about inner emptiness–emptying the mind and the body of desires, being purged and therefore pure: a kind of blank, a tabula rasa, on which the divine can inscribe itself. It is a discipline of self-emptying, or, to use a theological term, of kenosis, self-outpouring. Whereas romanticism uses silence to exactly the opposite ends: to shore up and strengthen the boundaries of the self; to make a person less permeable to the Other; to assert the ego against the construction and expectations of society; to enable an individual to establish autonomous freedom and an authentic voice. Rather than self-emptying, it seeks full-fill-ment.

I see myself in both of these descriptions. My meditative practice is about emptying myself so I can listen to my Divine wisdom.   I can also fully relate to the second description.  Living a more contemplative life has freed me from other’s expectations. I have been able to hear, more deeply, my authentic voice. When I let go of trying to please the voices and expectations of others, I find a freedom to live my life fully.

 

 

New Year’s Rituals

bridge-cold-daytime-1559117.jpegFor all that has been—-Thanks! For that shall be—-Yes!   Dag Hammarskjold

New Year’s is the perfect time to set-up rituals that support you letting go of the past year with grace, and welcoming the new year with hope.  I’d like to share the rituals I began about ten years ago to honor the power of this time of year.

The week after Christmas through New Year’s Eve I spend time reflecting on the past year in my journal.  Below is an outline of what I reflect upon:

Overall Summary of the past year

 I write about the challenges, gifts, and surprises this past year brought.  I sometimes use my calendar to jog my memory.  I reflect on specific categories of my life. Again I write about the challenges, gifts, and surprises each category brought me.  The categories I reflect upon are:

Spirituality      Relationships       Health

Another ritual I follow is choosing a word that I would like to embody for the coming year.  My word for 2018 was Receive.  I write about how I opened myself to receive the gifts and challenges brought to me this past year.

New Year’s Day

On New Year’s Day I follow the same structure of overall summary, and the categories. I write my hopes and intentions for each for the coming year.  I do not write New Year’s resolutions, but rather my intentions of how I want to show-up in each category.  I then reflect on the word I choose to embody for 2019—how that word might look in action.

Finally, I keep my journal’s reflection from the past year and read through it to see how I lived my intentions and how I embodied my word.

May you create your own rituals to reflect on the past year and focus on the coming year, and may your New Year be blessed with good health, joy, and peace.

 

 

Gifts of the Magi

cold-colors-forest-688660.jpegWe come to this season from different traditions. All traditions celebrate the miracles of this time of year. I come to this time through the lens of Christianity. Advent is a time of waiting in quiet solitude for the returning light. Winter solstice honors the quiet of the winter months where the ground is cold and dark so the seeds can rest and germinate for the coming spring. It is difficult to follow our bodies yearnings to be still and listen during the busiest time of the year. How do you balance solitude and community? I’d like to reflect on the Christmas story, but with a different look at the gifts of the Magi. I’ve gathered 18 gifts from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance. These gifts/qualities for the journey include:

Unconditional love.   Selflessness.   Trust.    Faith.     Forgiveness.

 Wholeness.   Second Chances.    Comfort.     Joy.     Peace.

 Reassurance.    Rejoicing.    Generosity.    Compassion. 

Charity.     Wonder.    Acceptance.    Courage. 

Reflections: 

1. Which ones are challenging for you? Which are fully integrated into your life? 

2. How do they play out in your life? 

3. Which one would you like to carry with you through this season?

4. Are there any that are easier to give than receive?

May you find time in this busy and miraculous season for the silence to be still and listen. A time to go inward and reflect on your life and the meaning of this time of year. Happy Holidays to all. 

Reposted from my Writing Prompts blog available at http://www.listeningtomylife.blog