If You Aren’t You, Then Who Are You?

meditating If You Aren’t You, Then Who Are You?

Whether you call it your spiritual life, your inner journey, or a search for a higher power, there is a necessary process, known as waking up. It consists of no longer being unaware. By growing more conscious, you give up many things you once took for granted. You recognize that they were illusions, unproven assumptions, and second-hand opinions.
 

You can take a major step toward waking up right this minute. All you need to do is answer one questions: Who are you? This question is about your identity, which everyone takes for granted –so much so, in fact, that we lose ourselves in an illusion without ever realizing it.

Let’s start without any assumptions. Drop your assumption that you already know who you are, because what people really know is not who they really are but their story. Your story consists of everything you have amassed in the past through experience, belief, successes and failures, likes and dislikes. When you identify with these things, you mistake a dead relic of the past for who you really are. Your story might be good or bad, something to be proud of or not, filled with experiences you want to hold on to and others you would rather forget. None of this really matters when you want to know who you really are. You are more than your story.

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Hide-and-Seek with God

IMG_1855-1200x900

“I Am Loving Awareness”
—Ram Dass

Over the past decade, I have experienced divine connection in a variety of ways—in Nature, in solitary or group meditation, and with spiritual teachers who helped facilitate that falling away of form into formlessness. In spite of any longing on my part to hold onto it permanently, however, my experience of God came and went, arose and then receded. Repeatedly, I vacillated between the appearance and disappearance, almost as if I were playing hide-and-seek with God. Then Ram Dass died.

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Open Heart, Open Soul

Open Heart, Open Soul Open Heart, Open Soul

If your heart opens completely, everything else within you also opens. Your heart becomes an expressway to your soul. And your soul is the designated navigator for this lifetime. Not your mind or your physical body. Before you were born, your soul was downloaded with the customized codes for this particular life journey. God’s cosmic plan is miniaturized within your cells. As soon as you open your heart completely, those soul codes light up and go into super-connectivity mode. Everything starts to flow seamlessly within your conscious awareness, within your physical form, and thus within your life.

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Manifest Your Feelings

manifestfeelings Manifest Your Feelings

Most of us have experienced moments, maybe even life times of attempting to control the future.  This might happen when we want something so badly, we view it as the only acceptable outcome.  The irony of this is, when we only allow one option, we close the door to possible better options. Often times fear creeps in and our brain will begin to tell us why we may or may not, achieve our perceived only option.  At this point the focus becomes on why it might not happen, versus  why it will happen.

Is it possible to just relax and really let the future unfold? Yes;  but there are several important pieces to consider when allowing your life to open up magically.  If you have specific goals; ask yourself why this and not something different? Make sure they are your dreams, not someone else’s.  The next piece to consider is, how will you feel when you achieve your goal?

Feelings are the most important piece in creating our future and enjoying the now.  Imagine and connect to the feelings you love.  Make them a part of your everyday life.  Let each breath hold a connection to your favorite feelings and dreams.  Each time you experience a feeling it can build and continue to grow until it fully becomes who you are.

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Embodied Presence (Part 1) – Planting our Roots in the Universe

roots Planting our Roots in the Universe

In describing our human predicament and dis-ease, D.H. Lawrence says we are like a great tree with our roots in the air. We need to replant ourselves—in our bodies, hearts and spirit. These two talks are guides to replanting ourselves. In Part 1, we explore how we are so often dissociated from the life of our body, and the pathways home. Part 2 looks at the challenges of pain, fear and trauma, and how we can gradually and skillfully reconnect with a wholeness of being.

One of the realizations I keep coming back to is that the portal to presence is through awareness of this living body. ~ Tara

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Stewards of Light

comet1 Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Stewards of Light

The more a comet
burns away, the
brighter it gets.


As it enters the
atmosphere, more
and more of it flakes
off and burns up.


Until there is only light.


This is our journey
as a spirit in a body
over a lifetime.


As the years wear us
down and burn us up,
we grow brighter.


Until at death,
we are all light.


A Question to Walk With: Describe an aspect of who you are that has brightened over the years.
This excerpt is from my book of poems in progress, A Thirst for Simple Light.

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Where is God When Disaster Strikes?

cloudspollyWhere is God When Disaster Strikes? Where is God When Disaster Strikes?

This is such a great question. If our faith is ever going to waiver, it will be when we see or experience, painfully scary and seemingly unnecessary events. Today we have plenty of examples to choose from. My answer; God is always with you and within you.

Without spending too much time on the concept of going within to connect with God; that is where you will find eternal peace.  Practice meditation and prayer.  Spend time in silence.  You will begin to experience the world differently, kinder.  You will begin to identify miracles of the smallest nature that lead you to experiencing life in a kinder and more simple world.  Simple because you become the great observer, and recognize everything as both miraculous and anticipated.

Our external world matches our internal world.  When we experience inner peace; we see glimpses of God in everything we pause to study.

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A Conscious Reset

IMG_0456-1200x900 A Conscious Reset

There are times in life when you may feel as if you’re running backward down a dark alley that has no outlet. Kind of like a bad dream. When you finally realize you’re backing yourself into a dead end, there’s nothing to do but stop, take a deep breath, and look honestly at where you are. In fact, you are being given a precious opportunity to fully awaken and live with greater awareness. It’s what I call a conscious reset. And it’s what I’m experiencing right now.

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How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying

How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying How I Wrote Three Thousand Pages Without Trying

I wasn’t trying to be a writer. It surprised me when I looked through the stack of handwritten notebooks stored in plastic tubs under my bed and realized, I have written over three thousand pages. It started as writing one page songwriting idea snap shots. I don’t write books, I write pages or at my best, distilled wisdom condensed into a single quote. I call my writing process WISDOM PAGES.  

Two simple exercises set the foundation for my unique technique in writing.

• THE MORNING PAGES daily practice in Julia Cameron’s classic, THE ARTIST’S WAY – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I followed her suggestion and wrote three pages every day for over a year. This simple practice allowed unfiltered observation of my internal thought processes. Over time, the inner critic was silenced. I relaxed into a fluid intuitive style of free writing. The blessing of deeper self awareness is unmeasurable.

• THE WISDOM CAN is an exercise I learned in a prosperity class.

I decorated a large coffee can and named it my Wisdom Can. The idea is to observe one simple thing you learn each day, write a small note of affirmation and put it in the can. After the class we were directed to start taking out one wisdom message each day as a reminder of what we learned. My curiosity was ignited. I continued to put wisdom messages in my can every day for several years. Without knowing it, my habit of direct observation of personal experience fueled my understanding of how, focus amplifies experience.

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The Three Wishes of Every Spiritual Aspirant

snowangelThe Three Wishes of Every Spiritual Aspirant The Three Wishes of Every Spiritual Aspirant

Principal to all that we study is an immutable, interior law: As goes my attention, so comes my experience. What I give myself to, I get. If I give myself to something low, I get low. If I give myself to something beautiful, I get beauty. If I give myself to the Divine, I get the Divine. This law is what we must keep in mind as we gradually look at the idea of what it is that we really want from life. Not: What do I want when I get up and I see the news and I get all stirred up, or what do I want when I look at the markets and I get all worried about that, or what do I want because something has stimulated me… but what do I want when I see that all that has stimulated me has left me with nothing?" That’s a significant difference. 

What is it that I really want? A big part of a person's work --for probably many years -- is just the gradual realization of how (like the Prodigal Son) they have wandered off and squandered their resources -- meaning their time and their attention -- which is all that we really have of our own. Then it starts to get a lot simpler to give voice to a truth seeker’s three real wishes.

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Trusting Who We Are (retreat talk)

scenic-view-of-borobudur-temple-at-sunrise-in-fog-picture-id1158438860 Trusting Who We Are

When we are suffering, we are believing something untrue – usually a limiting story about who we are. This talk explores the roots of our self-doubts, and the teachings and practices that remind us of our basic goodness – the loving awareness that is our source (given at the Fall 2019 IMCW 7-Day Silent Retreat – 2019-11-06).

Carlos Castaneda – the Don Juan books – puts this way. He says, “You talk to yourself too much. You’re not unique in that every one of us does. We maintain our world with our inner dialogue. A man or woman of knowledge is aware that the world will change completely as soon as they stop talking to themselves.”

Sri Nisargadatta says, “Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. Between the two my life flows.”

I really invite you to experiment and find the way of remembering love that warms your heart because it’ll help you trust your heart and we deep down really want to trust the goodness of our hearts.

May we trust who we are.

~ Tara

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Everything Depends on What You Want from Life

What-You-Want-from-Life Everything Depends on What You Want from Life

Our lives are living opportunities to explore the celestial stuff of consciousness from which we are created. We can either choose to substantiate this relationship with reality through the "process" of paying attention to its invitation, or we can refuse it.

 

The first (and highly recommended) action places us upon the guest list of God’s life. 

The latter choice, our failure to be awake and attend to the moment at hand, leads to nothing but more involvement with nothing. So the right choice is always to choose in favor of Real Life! That's what our studies together are all about: learning to discern Truth when it knocks at our door. And practicing what we know strengthens our relationship with Truth. For instance, much as in the same way we must learn to give our attention to these impulses of consciousness appearing in the stream of our self, so we must learn to be awake to the garbage that bubbles up from the bottom of this stream that also calls for our attention. When a depressive state begins to press in, we can work to wake up and remember that a depressing thought embraced crushes the one who embraces it. We learn this lesson by loving something Higher.

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Change Your Entire Life with this Simple Technique from Thích Nhất Hạnh.

man-standing-on-jetty-picture-id172467357 Change Your Entire Life with this Simple Technique from Thích Nhất Hạnh.

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I was visiting a friend in New York City this past weekend as we discussed various elements of all things spiritual. Discussion of teachers, techniques, paths and so forth culminated into some personal and candid sharing with one another. She knew some of my past but not all of it. She’d never heard the stories of my self-inflicted cutting, or that I used to sleep on a dozen sharp knives because it gave me a sense of being alive in an otherwise empty and fleeting day to day reality. Then there was the suicide attempts, numerous trips to emergency rooms, rehabs and psych wards, all of which she took in stride.

As I went to sleep in my friends cozy guest bed, I reflected on those dark times and how truly transformative the following technique taught by Thich Nhat Hanh has been in turning my life around. I also thought that since it’s worked so well for me, it may work well for you too.

It’s extremely simple and can be done anytime, anywhere and in virtually any circumstance.

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Count Your Blessings – You Are One of Them!

Count Your Blessings – You Are One of Them! Count Your Blessings – You Are One of Them!

One of my favorite teachers is Mathew Fox, whose book Original Blessing made probably the biggest impact on my life when I was really struggling around the holidays. My mentor, Margueritte, who bless her sweet heart was like Aunt Clara from Bewitched (for those of you who remember the dotty old witch whose spells sometimes landed her in a trash can, or she’d accidentally turn herself into a cat) handed this book to me along with the same author’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. The holidays seemed to trigger all my low self-worth buttons and behaviors, and all she said to me when she gave them to me was, “God doesn’t make junk—and you are a treasure.” She also used to call me her exotic bird too, while others in the church basements we frequented would look at my goth appearance and look away in fear and loathing muttering that there should be a dress code for sobriety. Ya right. 

The gist of this book was that we are all born in Original Blessing, not Original Sin, that each of us is born innocent and blessed by the Divine, and that our task in this lifetime is to discover that sparkling thread of this Truth and weave it into the fabric of our lives. In this way we could free ourselves to be human, to keep committed to a conscious contact with a benevolent Higher Power, and if we make mistakes we can be accountable and take action and make amends when needed. We were not the sum total of our mistakes, that they, in fact, are each an opportunity for growth and a return to Love and to Spirit. 

For someone newly clean and sober, this was a revelation because I had so much shame and unprocessed rage I didn’t know how to be other than to say, “I’ll show you how hurt I am. I’ll set myself on fire,” or just sit in a corner and stuff my face wondering if I will ever feel safe, or free from myself. (Oh! Right! If you’re new to my blog, I’m turning 34 years clean and sober soon, and the holidays are when I get right into looking for blessings everywhere even in the face of pain).

So this concept changed everything for me. Since then, every year I have started taking my inventory of the year before around now.

It’s when I clean house, both my actual environment and my inner. I take away what I don’t need from my outer, which is relatively easy, but before I focus on what needs to go internally, I do a slightly different inventory. I first look for the treasures in my life, experiences that were both obvious and obscured.

It’s kind of like a hidden object game called Where’s Waldo—Elf of Holiday Blessings? 

So I’m going to invite you to do what I do. 

The question I ask myself is where can I find the blessings in my life hidden in plain sight? 

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Using Mindfulness to Let Go of Stressful Triggers

Using Mindfulness to Let Go of Stressful Triggers Using Mindfulness to Let Go of Stressful Triggers

A wise person once said, “Hell is other people!” That being true, what’s a being to do? We have little to no control over the actions or reactions of someone else. The good news, however, is that if we develop the tools, we potentially have 100 percent control over our reaction to a given situation. It doesn’t mean we won’t experience difficult emotions; it means that we can manage those emotions before they eat our heart out.

Mindfulness, present moment awareness, allows us to notice emotions arising. If you find yourself stressed out at family events, for example, slow down and notice what is coming up for you: “Oh, that’s anger in my chest,” or “that’s anxiety in my stomach.” Labeling the emotion puts more space between you and the situation, allowing you to observe what is occurring instead of being hijacked by the emotion. Once you label the emotion, your brain calms down. Then, you can soothe yourself by placing your hand wherever you identified feelings constriction and consciously sending yourself softening and soothing thoughts. Imagine placing a warm compress or warm oil on the hurt.

The next step is to acknowledge that it’s difficult to feel this way, and give yourself love and encouragement by way of an affirmation like, “This too shall pass.” Everything really does change; the good changes and the bad changes.

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How to Create Compassionate Holidays

holidaycompasson How to Create Compassionate Holidays

Compassionate Holidays require that you act consciously each moment. Unconscious caretaking and pleasing others (giving gifts because it is the “season”) are NOT compassionate deeds. They ignore the humanity of the recipient because the recipient is being exploited by frightened parts of your personality. This type of interaction multiplied billions of time each “Holiday Season” makes the experience much less than it could be.

Compassion is being moved to and by acts of the heart. I am not speaking of the sentimental “heart,” the “heart” that feels pity and need to fix other’s problems (these are experiences of frightened parts of the personality). I am speaking of the most healthy, inclusive, grounded, and loving part of yourself. If this heart is not involved, no compassion is present. Therefore a compassionate Holiday, like a compassionate family dinner or a compassionate country requires you to replace the experiences of frightened parts of your personality (which also include anger, impatience, frustration, and judging) with the experiences of loving parts (gratitude, appreciation, patience, caring). This creates authentic power.

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Vodka, Cops & the Bhagavad Gita.

closeup-of-a-buddha-statue-picture-id143174943 Vodka, Cops & the Bhagavad Gita.

“The Edge…there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

~ Hunter S. Thompson

As I sat in meditation recently, I had one of those experiences. It’s something I’ve learned to laugh at now, the absolute ridiculousness of it in a very Bukowski sort of way, but there’s of course a small part of my stomach that still knots up when memories like these rear their ugly heads.

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Choosing Joy to De-Condition Our Negativity Bias

young-woman-enjoys-snowy-winter-picture-id1172741222 What You Practice Grows Stronger

Some years back, I was talking with a woman in our community. She was a breast cancer survivor and she told me about a conversation that she had with a friend who also was a survivor. Her friend asked her, “What would it feel like for you to think that something good might happen, rather than something bad?” Her response was, “Totally weird and uncomfortable. “Good,” her friend said. “Try it now.”

From an evolutionary perspective, it really makes sense that we feel uncomfortable when we envision positive things coming our way. Our brains are designed to scan for trouble and fixate on what might go wrong in any given situation. This is described as the negativity bias and it one of our hard wired survival strategies. Of course, it is a very good strategy for avoiding real danger. But, in the absence of a true threat, it limits our capacity for enjoying, and celebrating our moments. We have such a short time on planet earth. When the negativity bias rules, we get very loyal to our anxiety, mistrust and vigilance. We cannot inhabit the fullness of our lives.

In happiness research, a common denominator among those who are deemed “happy” is a sense that they are actually choosing to be happy. They believe that happiness is possible and there is a willingness to turn towards it. Catholic mystic and writer Henri Nouwen writes:

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and then keep choosing it every day.”[1]

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Set Your Sights on Self-Liberation

freedom-picture-id175947174 Set Your Sights on Self-Liberation

In our inner work to awaken and realize ourselves, we must begin where we begin, and put away any other concerns about where that beginning is. It’s enough just to make a start, wherever that may be. What difference does it make at what point you enter into a great river? Sooner or later, all of its waters reach and pour into the sea.

Never let discouragement have the final word, and one day there will be nothing left to discuss. Besides, you can have just as many new beginnings as you’re willing to leave behind all of your ideas about yourself. Nothing in this world, or in any other, can stop you from discovering your original, free being. This has always been your destiny, as Walt Whitman confirms: “The central urge in every atom, to return to its divine source and origin.”

Following are 10 secret ways higher self-studies help you succeed in life:

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Doorways

Doorways Doorways

Everything in our life is here, because at some point, we walked thru a doorway and summoned  the experience.  I will share an example of this; outside my window there are rabbits and an occasional red cardinal eating pieces of lettuce and carrots.  Earlier in the day I put the produce out knowing it would attract some animals.  My thoughts and actions created the enjoyable encounter.  I also credit thoughts and behavior for the not so sweet manifestations.

What ever shows up in our life, we play a significant role in how and why it has appeared.   Our mind creates the door frame and our response leads us through the passage that holds our experiences.  The power of our mind is responsible for building everything physical and non physical on our journey.   Imagination holds the potential for everything.

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