Monday, February 22, 2010

Identifying Your "Downers"

When we talk about letting go of the things that are holding us back, we often have a hard time identifying them. Partly it is because there are certain things that we think are "givens" in our lives - that we cannot possibly let go of. We don't even consider that these may be areas we need to change or step away from.

Sometimes this may be people that keep us heavy or feeling entangled, sometimes it is circumstances - job, where we live, financial situations,health problems - but most everything in our lives can be changed if we really want to. You may have a job that you hate but feel like you have no choice. While it may be true that you cannot leave in this instant, you can certainly do things to prepare for a future change. While you may assume that you have to live where you do, there may be other options that could be considered if you really want to do something different. You may worry about health issues, but fail to make changes to your habits...Worry about finance problems, but not eliminate the behavior that may have contributed to them. It is so often our failure to change that keeps us in "problems", but the problems are merely indicators that we need changes.

I run across so many people who say they want change in their lives - want less stress, want to have more meaning - yet keep doing exactly what they have always done. I have been in that place before as well, and still find myself migrating there at times. It is our conditioning, and we sometimes feel obligated to continue it. Eistein has been attributed as saying, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Many of us live our lives this way; I know I certainly have in many areas, but it is not so hard to change that practice it if you really want to. Change is what allows us to grow. If we are not becoming more, we need change.

The first step is identifying the areas that need alteration. This is often the hardest part - but hard only because we ignore many of these areas, not wanting to consider possible change. This may be relationships that bring us down, work situations, financial challenges, routines that we are stuck in. But we generally have internal indicators that should be recognized as signs to us that these things are not serving us, or that our attachment to them is not contributing to our greater good. It is only when we are in our highest vibration that we can affect others most powerfully, or that we can affect our own lives and manifest our destinies - so it does not serve us or anyone around us when we stay attached to things that keep us down. The martyr syndrome does nothing to advance our purpose, nor does believing that we are less than what we really are, or that we should settle for mediocrity, or stay in negative, burdensome situations.

Become conscious of the indicators of stress or heaviness in your life, then identify the things that trigger those feelings. Also identify the things that give you joy, so that you will know the direction that might serve you better. You will then have the answers for what needs change or release. If you ask for the answers, they will be given to you...then the choice is yours for what you are willing to change. Have courage, be brave. Your higher self, your destiny, is waiting.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now, the Rain Is Gone

My previous blog post, "Tests of Detachment," marked another turning point of growth for me in letting go. I have had many instances and opportunities to practice this over the last few years, and each time, I have grown significantly. There is a mastery in deciding not to stay in illusion or drama, but to find the lesson and the perfection in every situation. (If you have not read that post, it might be helpful to do so before reading this).

Since writing that entry last week, I have actively practiced it - loving my father, but not getting consumed by him, his drama, or by anyone else who wanted to stay in it with him. It has definitely been a test because there have been some ensuing events that threatened to drag me back into it in a deeper way, but thus far, I have passed the test. The feeling is liberating beyond what I can convey with words. My understanding of the perfection of the situation gets clearer and clearer to me, and I am encouraged by my own ability to rise above it. I have likened it to crabs that are placed in a boiling pot of water...if one crab gets close to escaping, the other crabs will grab it with their claws to keep in in the boiling water with them. But I don't want to be in the boiling water that will become my demise, and I am staying steadfast in my escape!

During this process, there has been a song that keeps coming into my head at random times - in such a way that it feels like a message of affirmation to me, and it is most appropriate. The song is "I Can See Clearly Now" by Jimmy Cliff and is an upbeat song about the triumph and clarity after the storm. When I heard it in my head, I was energized and couldn't help but get a big smile on my face, feeling lifted off the ground by its message. I found a youtube version that I have played a few times because it lifts me up even further. This particular version has clips from "Cool Runnings" - the story of the Jamaican bobsled team, so its underlying message is even more uplifting - and also quite appropriate during this Olympic season. (CLICK HERE to view this happy video).

Yesterday and today, from a weather standpoint, have been absolutely beautiful here in Asheville - bright, bright, bright, sunshiny days - following an unusually harsh and somewhat grey winter for this area. So not only am I struck by the metaphor of the song in its parallel to my life and growth right now, but it is as if the weather is exemplifying that thought as is a NEW DAY! We should appreciate the inner growth that the winter provides, but be willing and eager to accept the sunshine when it bursts through.

We each have the opportunity to make every day a "new day" - and one in which we see sunshine and brightness in our spiritual lives - deep down in our souls. This exists for us at any time we want to receive it. We are in constant control of the choice...Will we make today a day in which we open ourselves up to the bright sunshiny day that is out there, or will be stay under our umbrellas, fearful and tired of rain, but unable to see the sun? Step outside of your patterns and let go of the things that are weighing you down or holding you back. When you release them, the sun will shine in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tests of Detachment

One thing I have learned about the spiritual journey is that when you make progress, the Universe/God/Holy Spirit is eager to push you ahead to more. So it often seems like the more progress you make, the more you get bombarded with new hurdles to overcome - ego obstacles that are within your control but hold you back. Over the last several years, as I had the courage to take leaps of faith, I always experienced some new gift, or an expansion of a gift that I already had. The bigger the leap of faith, the more expansive the gift would be. But along with the gift, another obstacle always seemed to present itself almost as soon as the previous one had been overcome.

Often, I would enter the "poor me" moment, "when is this going to stop?" At times, I wasn't sure if I could take it, but fortunately, each time I felt ready to give up, I had a moment of clarity, realizing exactly what was happening, understanding that the new challenge was a gift - an expression of what I needed to learn next in order to advance to my true purpose, by letting go of my worldly way of thinking and behaving. I reminded myself that since God doesn't give us anything we are not capable of handling, and since He and His host of angels and spirit have a better view and perspective of our needs and our path - getting consistent obstacles was actually a compliment and sign that I was on the right path. In the childhood game of "hot and cold" where "hot" is used to tell the blindfolded finder that she is close, and "cold" is to tell her that she is farther away, our obstacles are sometimes signs that we are getting "hotter" - closer to finding what we have lost or forgotten. It was as if I was hearing angels telling me in quick repetition..."hot, hot, hot...keep going in this direction".

These moments of clarity served as an affirmation that even though it may have seemed like things were very wrong, those feelings of joy in the midst of adversity showed that I was on the right track... letting go of old thoughts was ultimately bringing me peace by showing the way out of attachment to them. In spiritual thought there is the concept of "ego" - which is not so much about arrogance as we commonly think of ego (although arrogance can certainly be part of it); but the spiritual concept of ego is that it is all of our negative thoughts that hold us back and make us think we are less. These are all essentially rooted in fear. When we think negatively (particularly about ourselves), we are doomed to attract more negative into our lives. It is the reason our world stays in conflict. When we overcome these fear-based thoughts that hold us back - anger, guilt, jealousy, judgment,the need to be right or have our way as the only way - we are stuck being less than what we really are - less than the wondrous and powerful beings that we were created to be. It is our perception of ourselves as less, as unworthy, as undeserving, or as incapable of attracting good that keeps us from returning to that true Oneness with God - that place where we find bliss and joy in each moment, even in the difficult ones.

My father has been a severe alcoholic for most of my life. It has been a painful experience for him and for those around him. It has been something that seemed to rear its ugly head in so many ways and so many moments - always ready to overshadow good things. Many around him have stayed attached to his drama and his need for control - including myself in many ways. For years, I had a desire to "fix" him, to help him overcome this by getting help. I could not understand how others were so content to let it continue, even feeding and fueling the problem when his body was screaming out in illness that it could not take any more abuse. I could not understand their denial of it until I understood that they were as trapped as he was. The denial around me made it feel like I was part of a circus, yet, when I would try to detach from the drama, I would have guilt laid on me - how could I desert my father, how could I not be supportive of his needs? I even had my spirituality thrown up to me in extremely hurtful ways, as if my desire to be spiritual meant that I should do whatever anyone wanted me to do in every moment and situation - no matter how insane it was or how damaging it was to me.

But what we have to understand about spirituality is that it should be our focus to LOVE everyone - to send them love and compassion - but it DOES NOT mean that we should stay in their drama because that is only keeping us from attaining and perfecting our gifts. Misery and suffering does not bring out our gifts - detaching from misery and suffering does.

My father is now in the hospital again and is deteriorating quickly, yet he still clings to his old ways of anger and manipulation in getting what he wants. I know that all he has to do is release and see himself as a wonderful and perfect child of God in order to be free, but his religious upbringing tells him that he is bad, so he bahaves badly...What we think is what we become. It is painful to watch the drama around him, as well as the attachment to drama by some others, but I can see it for what it is, and know that I must release myself by detaching without guilt. I cannot let my journey be derailed by others' choices or fears...I have come too far for that and it would not be serving my gifts or God by letting ego win.

Lately, ego has been working me hard. It is not surprising, because I have felt myself returning to my power so strongly, empowered by the obstacles that I have overcome; so ego is pulling out all the stops to own me once again. But my journey has taught me that the harder ego works, the more important the leap must be. When you find yourself feeling beaten up by life, tell ego to get behind you - in the same way that Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me". Ego (fear, guilt, anger, control, judgment) does not serve us and it does not serve God. Our simple act of telling it to go away empowers us to overcome its control over us. It is a reminder that ego has no power without our willingness to go along.

As difficult as this process with my father is in my earthly eyes, with my spiritual eyes, I can see that my father's journey is a gift to me...An obvious and blatant demonstration of the insanity that ego creates. My father may have chosen this difficult path to teach me and those around him the lessons of letting go - of detaching. Dad may have made it more absurd in order to make a point of how ridiculous and destructive ego is - and to point out to me just how ridiculous it is for me to stay there. I feel as if my father has been my teacher, and his work - his suffering - will only end when his job is done. He is providing me with a big test of my belief in my purpose, to gauge how well I can demonstrate my faith, how well I can "practice what I preach". It is for this reason that I detach - to let him go in peace knowing that his job for me is done...and I thank him for it.