practicing listening

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when bombarded with the perpetual state of fear and alarm by the world around us

(it all appears to be crumbling (it is all on fire!)!)

it may appear there is no time to be quiet and to listen…it is all so urgent!

and yet, i am finding it to be one of the most important times to do so…

it seems these times require for us to really sit ourselves down in the very soil of our lives, to be quiet, and to listen to what our lives are asking of us. who are we to be in the world? (“be the change you wish to see in the world”)…no longer passing that buck to the next smoke and mirrors politician who indeed has many allegiances!

this predicament is where we find ourselves…smack dab in the middle of being governed by a corrupt system…and this awareness does not alleviate the importance of casting our ballots (as they do make an impact no doubt)…stating our voices and concerns, and even as an act of radical hope in the midst of the shit-storm.

…but it seems even more important that we vow to have our lives be our on-going vote

no set of circumstances (it is all passing away!) or governance can alleviate our discomfort and suffering, let us not get stuck in patterns of blame and victimization…let us refuse fear’s persuasive voice and stand in our fully embodied humane, human being-ness.

are we loving our neighbors? (let alone ourselves, our husbands, wives, children, families, co-workers?)…

have we allowed fear’s voice to dominate and take charge of even our ability to love each other or ourselves, or our ability to be kind?

if we don’t start here in our very own lives, doing our best to slow down, listen, clean-up, grow-up and show-up…how then can we listen to know how our lives (or our vote) might serve in best loving the world with clarity and compassion?

the good news is: life is practice!

each moment is new!

each conversation and connection a new gift and potential opportunity to see or experience things a bit differently, that we might know we are not alone.

let us be those who dare build bridges and choose not to be those that burn bridges out of fear and the perceived need to protect the island that we may have been told we are (unto ourselves).

for now, it seems the most radical and powerful vote i can make is with my life…to love the best i can in each moment…to choose to lean in, even straight into fear’s eyes with the open-est heart i can possibly muster

…imperfect as i am and however many times i fall and don’t quite get it right!…

let us rise again and dust off our knees…

courageously choosing and staying (over and over again) on the path of love.

 

 

 

 

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“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr

…in these wild times and the promises of new beginnings…

…in the midst all these new year intentions and hopes, an inquiry:

what does living with an open heart require?

though i (choose to) see tremendous promise headed into this new year…my heart has been remarkably heavy today…

the amount of suffering in the world (let alone in our very lives) can indeed be overwhelming and threatens to shut down this vulnerable and raw heart of living, loving, and loss.

residing with an open heart in the very midst, requires radical courage…it requires that i be willing to look at my own suffering, the ways i protect and project, the ways i buy into and am informed by the whispers (and screams) of fear, the ways i have and will continue to contribute to the suffering of others and to this very earth that sustains us…and this awareness breaks my heart open…

and indeed it does seem that part of the trick of living with an open heart, is the willingness to have our hearts broken open, over and over again…to refuse to turn away and become separate from this beautiful catastrophe of being alive now…fully human…fully works in progress…fully embodying these messy masterpieces…befriending the being and becoming…

what radical love this heart must extend its roots into in order to be willing to be broken open by the fragility of this life and breath.

…and too, there appears to be such powerfully transformative potential in welcoming it all…in ourselves and in the other…over and over again extending grace, compassion indeed starts at home and seems to require on-going practice.

to know our own pain and our humanity is a gift, an invitation to open our eyes and our hearts and to know that we are not alone, with practice, we might find that though pain is inevitable, suffering has the potential to become optional…as we loosen our grip on holding it all together neatly, when we dare know we are held, that we belong, that we are enough…and we remember that we must choose…over and over again.

warm blessings friends…take courage, be super kind (to your selves and the other), and dare keep your brilliant hearts open as we listen to these our precious lives.

 

 

 

DSC_7765Justin and I received the gift of hearing Stephen Jenkinson speak this past week. His wisdom and insight are deeply resonant during this intense season off loss, grief, love, kindness, and overwhelm (which the holidays tend to be).

For the past two weeks I have had the honor of sitting smack dab in the middle of the grieving for a beautiful vibrant life’s sudden and tragic loss at my work…in a context that her peers may not have the capacity to express their grief in a “socially appropriate way” and how beautiful (and healing) that has been in some ways…It has also been such a strong context of experiencing the “death phobic” culture (that Stephen Jenkinson speaks of) that we live in…the fear and contraction that is so visceral in the face of encountering death has broken my heart wide open to the possibility that in truly befriending our death we find an invitation to more fully show up to living.

listen here for a powerful interview with Daniel Vitalis

blessings and courage to you and yours during these wild times my friends.

this morning,
a new morning
this next breath,
an opportunity to befriend this very being,
this very precious, perfect imperfection.

this being alive hurts
…as it tangos with death the whole time…
this precarious dance goes on and on…one partner cannot exist without the other…
a rare demonstration of adoration at every turn…a beautiful reckoning with the fleeting preciousness of this being alive and the gift that death is to remind life to stay awake to itself.

indeed (it does seems) there is no escaping death or pain…and lest we be tempted to wait ’til the other side to escape it, we might find we are left living with increased fear and dis-appointment of the way things are along the way…grinning and baring it until that day it “will all turn to gold”.
and let’s be careful too, not to dissociate in attempting to escape the complex, painful, imperfection of now upon our meditation cushion upon the mountain top.
but rather might we dare show up in the very midst
within this very fire

and suddenly, we might witness the walls come crumbing down between us,
we might find judgement drops away
we can suddenly be imperfectly perfect human being together
we can allow ourselves
to love and truly receive each others love

we might even find ourselves being able to slow down and especially in this season, we may start to recognize that our cultures’ race for consumption
is a bit of a bummer story line
a story line that seems to increase our suffering (ie stress, contrived “need”, and insatiable “want”…)
for but a fleeting and momentary joy (until the next upgrade that is:)…

we and this earth are indeed passing away
so let us compassionately tend to our finite resources
let us behave and consume in such a way that considers
clean water for our grandchildren’s children to drink, that they too
might have access to bountiful, cultivated abundance of healthy life and love

everything is on fire!
might we dare stop chasing after things
that we cannot take with us when we go
and are potentially leaving such scars on the earth

let us consider the powerful legacy of love and connection and our faithful stewardship to the very soil of this fleeting life…choosing cooperation in place of competition.

it requires remarkable courage to travel up stream, to recognize that the “rules” of this living can change…to befriend this dance of life and death here and now…
this journey indeed can only be walked one step, one choice, one act of kindness, one gesture of compassion to ourselves and to the other at a time.

so let us take courage…wherever we are on the trek that is this wild, beautiful, and painful life…might we know that we are not alone…many many blessings to you and yours as we navigate our way through!DSC_7854

open hearted warriors

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there are many aspects of this living it seems

that require the fierceness of a warrior

in order to keep an open heart

so many things conspiring to shut this heart down

the natural impulse to protect arises

it takes an active bravery of choice,

a befriending of not knowing

to navigate and cultivate an open hearted way

how are we protecting our hearts from living and loving?

with our attempts at staying safe

who among us is not suffering…

who among us is not heartbroken…

by the suffering of others (not to mention ourselves)…

it takes tremendous courage to welcome it all…being and becoming.

if we close and protect our hearts from suffering

we also, by default, close our hearts to receiving and giving love

this fierce choosing of the way of an open heart…cuts through the illusion of separation and allows us to be fully human together

no longer pre-occupied with protection and trying to get or be someone or somewhere else.

may our hearts be unbound

may we take courage and extend love to those opportunities right in front of us

blessings and courage to you and healing to all of your relations!

 

willingness

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anyone who knows my beloved dharma partner, justin dazu kodo well, knows of his incredible passion and heart for the healing, growth, and transformation of our lives (and our world).

as his partner, i have had the honor to witness how this passion has informed his dedication to waking up, growing up and showing up as well as equipping himself so very diligently to support others (myself included:) in this venture in many many countless ways.

his life and willingness are to be celebrated…including his commitment to and recent completion of his doctoral work at lesley university and his insightful, wise, important contributions to the field of human development, and his inspiring embodied support of people living their best lives!

i am deeply grateful for the many strong invitations that one of our primary teachers, junpo denis kelly offers to stay awake for this one precious life…one of these invitations he often extends is: “are you willing”? this is an unrelenting inquiry that dazu has held as central along his way…

are you willing to wake up to the reality of what is and what is becoming…willing to not hide away in fantasy or behind what makes us feel safe…are we willing to choose our way of being in the world with compassion, honesty, and clarity. are we willing to risk and be with the unknown…with not knowing.

junpo emphasizes that willingness requires both volition and surrender…and that there is a strong volitional choice involved in how we show up along the softness of being present in surrender and deep receptive listening. this requires a reckoning with what is actually required of us to live our best lives…might we dare live lives that offer healing to each other and this very earth right exactly where we are, in this very place? this practice is not grand…the only starting point for this kind of willingness starts in the very midst of our daily activity…as we commit to paying attention…daring not to be consumed with trying to get somewhere else or be someone else (who we might perceive has it easier). this willingness requires that we have our very own skin in the game…it requires that we choose not to shut down in the face of resistance (when we are aware that we have the choice…and this awareness takes practice…and willingness:) it requires deep listening and a good amount of courage!
one of the most profound practice containers that i have had the honor to practice this business of willingness is within the container of my most intimate relationship, with my beloved partner. This consort relationship is not one that is designed to keep one another safe and certainly doesn’t guaranteed anything…though there is a profound and delightful gift in the willingness to show up to each other and all the messiness that sometimes entails.

over 15 years ago when dazu and i said “i do”…it was not only i do to each other…but an i do to a love beyond ourselves with the understanding that if our relationship isn’t one that continues to lend to both our individual and collective waking up…we had better re-evaluate. there have certainly been times of re-evaluation along the way…times that have demanded for us not to look away…and as we continue to practice this business of willingness, we continue to see that love is an on-going choice…moment to moment in fact. this container of commitment and willingness that holds this rich and transformative dance serves as a strong anchor and helps clarify the intention for our relationship and empowers our showing up to our lives and to our fullest expression of healing and contribution to the world around us.

deep gratitude to you dear one…you are celebrated…onward!!

creating space.

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this here corner

is where i land once again

to nurture a more rhythmic practice of writing

a practice that seems to retire during most summers.

it feels good to be befriending this pattern…

as i used to think something was “wrong” that i didn’t write as much during the time of warm breezes…

now i see that, for me, the heat and fun of this season has not historically been a ripe time to cultivate the harvest of word upon page

it is moving into the cooling winds that i find myself craving the carved out space in my life to reflect and take stock in this particular way.

…and so…here’s to a new corner in my home to show up to this fruitful slowing down and continuing to listen harvesting practice.

and in this very moment, what a timely gift, to be reminded that there is a time and a season for all things…

“A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.

“To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.” ~ecclesiastes 3

…indeed…no getting it “right”, no getting it “wrong”…

daring to show up the best we know how

even in the midst of truly reckoning with dis-ease, pain, joy, pleasure

offering compassion to self and other

…been, being and becoming

living, loving, dying, being reborn.

daring to show up to this vow.

the vow being one of choosing to extend love and healing wherever i find myself

with as clear and as open a heart as i can muster…

even in the midst of the murky muds of life

as it is from here the lotus grows.

offerings of love.

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i came upon this post i wrote some time ago…and it continues to be my intention…a wonderful and timely reminder!

“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.” ~Marianne Williamson

writing is one of my on-going practices…continuing to open to the possibility that what is wanting to be written has in fact little to do with me, but certainly my willingness has much to do with me.
the words in fact, seem to have a life of their own, as i attempt to lean in and deeply listen.


allowing for them to make their way through me, they also help inform my way.


and for what it is worth, i hope that the words that are offered, might be received by you dear reader, as an offering of love…

though i know not who you are or aren’t, weather you are rolling your eyes, curious, or nodding in agreement.


may my words be received as whispers of courage on your own way of exploring how you are extending or might extend more love in the present,


as you dare to lean into the light, which calls forth more love and echoes love


that you not be held back upon your beautiful way in the world


your particular expression cannot be played out by anyone else.


if my words do not serve your own extension, then please disregard them


and if they can be received as medicine to the deep pain that we all share and that is held in each others’ stories, it my honor to walk along side,


as you stop living from those old stories and live into the very moment of your full brilliance.
no longer held back.


so with all that, and this… i dare to extend offerings of love through word, with my willingness to show up…a breath by breath…

an expression of an attempt to continue to choose love.

over and over again let us choose love when we notice we have the choice.

courageously dance compassion

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it take bravery, it turns out, to truly be with what is…

one must be courageous in order to receive the invitation to show up to the untidiness of the now

rather than escape into some fantasy

fantasy of the good and the anxious…

the various and elaborate stories we spin

about what has been and might yet to be

endless chatter indeed!

listen!

there is no way to know liberation but in this very moment…

what does the situation right before me require?

who is that standing in front of me who may need a kind word, a smile, our true forgiveness, an offering of love?

is not everything and everyone we encounter

the invitation and opportunity we might receive now

to show up, clean up, grow up, wake up?

who of us are suffering?

each on of us who are being asked to navigate this at once broken, healing, and whole world in which we reside

compassion starts at home…

when we are generous in this offering

to our very selves…we are able

to then see the very self in the other

this self no different from that one

all together on this wild journey…

everything is on fire!

…impermanent, selfless, pain inevitable, suffering optional.

be courageous,

listen,

take no prisoners,

dance,

offer compassion

one choice

at

a

time…

as that one choice

is the only choice we have.

no longer distinguished

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“What is called for now is not people seeking to transcend this world but people who take responsibility for its well-being. If the fundamental problem is our usual sense of being a self that is separate from the rest of the world — if “I’m in here, and everything else is out there” — then enlightenment shouldn’t be understood as that self attaining some other reality separate from this world. Instead, genuine awakening involves letting-go of oneself — of one’s habitual sense of self — and realizing one’s non-duality with the world, which naturally involves accepting responsibility for it, because its well-being can no longer be distinguished from one’s own well-being.” ~David Loy