Loving Equally

Kiss your Friends’ faces more

Destroy the belief that

Intimacy must be reserved for

Monogamous relationships

Be more loving

Embrace platonic intimacy

Embrace vulnerability

Use emotionality as a radical tactic against a

Society which teaches you

That emotions

Are a sign of weakness

Tell more people you care about them

Hold their hands

Tell others

You are proud of them

Offer support readily

Take care of the people around you

 

This poem came across my facebook newsfeed recently and it was exactly what I needed to see. I thought, wow, what a beautiful, courageous and radical way to look at love (I am so sorry but I do not know the author.   If anyone knows please let me know because I want to hang out with this person).

A while ago my daughter and I were talking about love and she asked me if I thought it was possible to love everyone equally. I told her it’s possible but I’m not there yet. This conversation sent me on a quest of self-inquiry.   I thought about those who I love the “most”. My husband and our children, without a doubt, are the greatest loves of my life. I then thought, well who would fall next in line? Extended family? Friends? Community? Teachers? After thinking about it a while, I came to this conclusion. It is whoever I allow it to be. It’s a choice to love or not love equally. That was a radical realization.

One of my favorite teachers, Ram Dass, suggests that we “love everyone”. He said he loves everyone and everything equally and it’s hard for the people in his immediate circle to understand sometimes why he might love the books on his shelf as much as he loves each of them. How can someone love a book as much as a person? When he and others speak of their Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, they speak of him as if they have never loved or felt love like they did when they were with him. One of the most beautiful things I ever experienced was to listen to these people talk about their Guru in this way. They could care less what others think about this experience because their love is that deep. If sounds very much like the deep feelings of romantic love or parental love but it may be even so much greater it cannot be put into words. Imagine a love that deep.

We can so easily get stuck in a limited belief or a “set of rules” that apply to how we love or who we love for that matter. How can we embark on a mission of love if we have a fear of intimacy or a fear of being vulnerable? They’re counter-intuitive. Trust me for years I tried that approach, and all it does is harden the heart.

It wasn’t until I read this poem that it clicked for me. Why do we place limits on how much we love others unlike how we do so within our immediate family? Now before we go off on a tangent about the need for boundaries etc., let’s just say that for our purposes today that the kind of love that I am referring to is platonic with healthy, appropriate boundaries in place. With that in mind, if there is ever a doubt, it is a very fair question to ask of people with boundary issues.   The answer might come from our limited belief system, our own fears, our life experiences, or how love showed up (or didn’t) in our lives.  No matter what we think the reason is I would bet that it comes from a place of fear; Fear of not being lovable; Fear of intimacy; or Fear of being vulnerable and so on. So we judge others if they love in a way we can’t understand. And maybe, just maybe, we are fearful or unaware of our own limitations around our ability to love ourselves. Radical.

Of course this is a work in progress but this I know for sure. When my heart is open and I am coming from a place of love I am a better person, wife, friend, daughter, sister, mother, teacher, and student. When I’m not, I’m the opposite of that, and quite frankly, I’m a hot mess.   Which would you choose? Today, I send my love to all of you and I eagerly wait for the day when I can say I love everyone equally. And I’m getting closer to that goal every day.

 

 

 

 

Sitting with our emotions….

Over the last week, it’s been necessary to fall back on my Buddhist psychology tools. One of the ideas of Buddhist psychology is to give ourselves permission to feel whatever we are feeling at the moment and meeting that moment and those feelings with complete and total compassion. If you’ve been in my classes lately, you’ve heard me reference Jill Bolte-Taylor, a neuroscientist who had a stroke at a young age and wrote about her experience in her book “A Stroke of Insight “ (as well as spoke about it in a very well received TED talk). In her book, she talks about how our brains only recognize an emotion for 90 seconds. N-I-N-E-T-Y seconds. What allows the emotion to continue is that a story takes root, which continues to validate and reinforce the emotion. And then we suffer. This idea of meeting ourselves exactly where we can be extremely effective and allow us to cope in a way that serves our overall well being. We see the thought/emotion, we recognize and acknowledge it and we move on.

One of my main coping tools over the years has been anger. If I’m being completely honest, I’d say it was an addiction. The adrenaline rush and the wanting to “fight” (albeit somewhat subconsciously which is very common with people who have PTSD) was very stimulating but exhausting emotionally and physically, not to mention depleting to my heart and soul, and often ended up with someone I care about getting hurt and always ended up with me hurting myself as I’d sit with deep regret afterwards. Of course I’m human and I still do get angry but not nearly to the degree that I used to. By meeting myself exactly where I am has allowed me the ability to meet everyone in my life where they are. If I’m doing this right, and it is absolutely a practice, more often than not, I’m doing my best to meet them with love and compassion regardless of whether or not I agree with them. Because the truth is, everyone is entitled to their experience. Being confrontational, judgmental, and self-righteous is a hard samskara to break….trust me as I know this all too well. What would happen if we allowed everyone to have their own experience and not try to convince them to see it our way? That doesn’t mean we condone supporting things that we don’t believe in but we use emotions, feelings, and beliefs to thrust us into action in a way that serves us, our conscious, and inspires others. If we tell people they need to feel a certain way, speak a certain way, or process a certain way….we lose them as well as an opportunity for dialogue…..not convincing them (which something I’m still working on too) but dialogue.

Join me today for restorative at 4:15 and Core Release and Restore at 7:30. We will practice sitting with our emotions and then we’ll just see what happens. As I learned in the silent retreat a couple of weeks ago…the physical practice brings ease into the body but the sitting brings clarity. We will be doing some metta again today as I think it’s necessary and can be extremely helpful in shifting our frame of mind. I hope to see you.

In the meantime, be kind, loving and compassionate to yourself and others. Peace on Earth.

Election Blues

So many of us awoke in disbelief and with a heavy heart. Some of us awoke with hope that this change is what is necessary for our country.

For those of us that practice yoga, this is a great time to use our practice to help us navigate through the disappointment, fear and disbelief. For those of us who don’t practice, now is a great time to start. One thing that can never be taken away from us during difficult times is our willingness and ability to love and show compassion for everyone. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. As difficult as today might be, the sun is still shining, the sky is still blue, and like trees in a grove, we have community (and a wonderful community it is). 

Please join me tonight for a different kind of practice. We will open our hearts, participate in Metta meditation, practice, and of course, release. Join me whether you are a Trump, Hillary, or 3rd party supporter. Let’s heal together so we can move forward towards acceptance of what has been presented in front of us and begin to mend our broken hearts. Know that I am sending so much love to all of you