Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letting Go

When a child learns to walk, she sometimes falls and gets up again, over and over again until she stops falling. Yet, we never talk about or think about the falling. With our eyes focused on our goals we keep that image and keep on moving. Yet moving towards a goal involves taking detours, getting lost, and sometimes even changing the destination. Once again, this flexibility is not taught enough. Getting to the original destination is celebrated and acknowledged; losing your way is not. Falling in love is cheered on while falling out of love is judged to not be ok, especially if a marriage or a commitment is involved.

It is all of these beliefs that define our experiences in life. We have defined and controlled every thought and action. In fact, it was handed over to us by our parents, our schools, our leaders, the media, etc. We repeat each belief in our words, thoughts and actions and perpetuate them. We hand them off to the future generations. They become solid, impenetrable, and assumed to be truths.

Something goes “wrong”, we lose a job, a house, a partner, and those beliefs do not comfort or support us. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with anything going wrong. You wake up one day and decide you don’t like your life, your partner, your job, your house, etc. You decide to make a change, but your beliefs do not support your decision. What do you do?

Many do nothing, they keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, they lie to themselves and pretend that everything is ok or that this is life, you can’t have everything (convince themselves by repeating more beliefs). Some people make the changes anyway. In the process, they alienate some, worse yet, they alienate themselves, they feel guilty for going against their beliefs and try their best somehow to make up for what they see as a wrong turn. In other words, even though, they’ve gone through the motion of making the change, they don’t believe that they did the appropriate thing, and so they suffer. This kind of change is not sustainable and certainly not pleasant.

Real, sustainable and deeply satisfying change can only happen when you truly let go of old beliefs. These beliefs are only half truths anyway. The child who learned to walk did so despite falling, yet falling was part of her experience and denying it or ignoring it did not make it go away. We are so afraid of even suggesting the possibility of the opposite of that which we hope to achieve as if such thoughts do not exist or have power over us. It reminds me of an old aunt I had who refused to utter the word cancer in case she contracted it! Life is full of a spectrum of experiences, good, bad and everything in between. Holding on to the positive end of the spectrum electrifies the negative side, that’s how duality functions. If we are truly interested in going beyond duality, we have to be willing to experience the whole spectrum without resistance. We have to let go of our judgments and beliefs. Simple, but not easy!

What are some beliefs you are willing to let go of? What if there was no right or wrong? How will you live an expanding life outside of duality?

Monday, March 29, 2010


He was chasing after Emma in the huge green grass. She was fun to chase after and she let him catch her from time to time. When they got tired of that game, they rested together, bodies touching on the deck in the sun. They fell asleep together like that. When he woke up, nothing was as he remembered it. They called his name and invited him into the house. He did not recognize the voices or the smells in the house. The kids were friendly and happy to see him, but something was not familiar. They were not the kids he was used to.

After dinner, the mom took him on a walk. It was nice to be out, free again to smell the fresh air and to be with Emma. But where was his other mom? He felt unsure and nervous. Should he be going with this woman? Was Emma going to be with him or would she be going home somewhere else? Emma did not seem to be worried about anything. So, he decided to forget about home and his mom and his family and enjoy the moment with Emma and his new mom.

He couldn’t sleep in this new room. The sounds and smells were becoming more familiar, but he still missed the old sounds and smells. He’d take cat naps and then he’d wake up again to this unfamiliar place with his new family. As time went by, he got used to the new place and eventually he fell asleep.

The next day, he went for another long walk with Emma and afterwards fell asleep on top of her on the deck. Emma jumped up to the sound of the car on the drive way, he jumped up too. They both went down the stairs and waited eagerly to see who would come out of the car. He didn’t have a deck in his old house, he liked following Emma and doing as she did. To his amazement, he saw his old mom and family rushing to the stairs calling out his name. He was so excited, he couldn’t contain himself. His tail was wagging furiously and he was crying in delight. Yes, this was familiar, he knew everything about these people and the smells, oh the smells were like heaven!

Questions to Ponder:
1) Have you ever felt abandoned or left without any explanation? If so, how did that feel and how did you handle it?
2) How comfortable are you in new situations or with new people? For example, if you went on a trip or took a weekend class and had to share a room with someone you hadn’t met before, how would you feel about that? Nervous? Uncomfortable? Excited?
3) Think of the word, “familiar” and now come up with 3 quick names or nouns that pop into your mind. Now do the same for the word, “new”. Sit with your feelings and consciously pursue one (familiar or new) to experience in the near future and see how that feels. Best wishes!

P.S. In case you were wondering, the story was based on what I imagine my dog went through after spending the weekend with a pet sitter.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Holy Man

I am trying something new for the next few posts. I’ll write a little story (an exercise in creativity) and ask a few questions that might help loosen up some old stuck beliefs (hopefully). I hope you enjoy the stories and uncover stuff that helps you move forward!

He stood there tall and somewhat distinguished. Even in his worn out clothes that had seen better days, he shined. No one could tell what it was exactly about him that made him different and easy on the eyes. Wherever he went, people gathered around him, they wanted to be near him. He had a peaceful and knowing presence. There was nothing arrogant or unwelcoming about him. He was real and when you saw him, you felt real too. His demeanor was that of Mr. Darcy’s (Pride and Prejudice), yet his choices had been more like Sydney Carton’s (A Tale of Two Cities). He walked on air because nothing was holding him down. He had given everything up and had fallen through the cracks of the 3-D reality he lived in. He had nothing and yet it seemed like he had everything.

She straightened herself in her chair as she motioned for him to come to her table. His whole face broke into a huge smile as he walked over to her. She found herself nervous and stumbling on her words. This was crazy, she had conducted hundreds of interviews during the course of her successful career as a journalist. Why would this guy be any different? She straightened herself again and began the way she always had with the people she interviewed, yet she was keenly aware of his presence. He wasn’t intimidating or creepy, he was just so alert and present, she wasn’t sure how to deal with that. It forced her to become present too. She decided to let go of her old ways and just relax into it. She leaned back, put down her pen, and melted into her chair as she breathed in the golden light that seemed to be emanating from him.

Questions to ponder:
1) What are some qualities that you find attractive in people? How do you think they attained them?
2) What is it that you wish you had more of or less of? What would you have to give up to be that way?
3) What do you think someone who had never met you and had to interview you, would say about you after that first meeting?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bla Bla Bla

I am trying something new for the next few posts. I’ll write a little story (an exercise in creativity) and ask a few questions that might help loosen up some old stuck beliefs (hopefully). I hope you enjoy the stories and uncover stuff that helps you move forward!

She stopped only to catch a quick breath, she was looking at him or through him, not noticing anything about him. She was determined to tell the story almost as if someone was holding a gun to her head. He noticed a slight trembling in her hands, but she kept on going. The story weaved into another one. It wasn’t an intense story, but she was intense telling it. She would stop herself and correct any misplaced facts like: “it was Monday, no it was Tuesday afternoon when…” Such corrections were not necessary because he wasn’t interested in the story to begin with, and certainly the details of what day any of it happened, was even more unimportant to him. Not to her though, it was all important, not to be neglected. He was hoping she’d stop and notice the great ambience of the restaurant, taste the fabulous wine and enjoy the delicious food. She ate and she drank, but just like her shallow breaths, nothing lingered, and nothing was taken in to be enjoyed. He knew that she had to get it all out, but he wondered, when he could interject, when he could remind her of the reason why they were there. It was their first anniversary and he wanted to celebrate their relationship and she just couldn’t stop talking about her day. It seemed to always be like that with her, there was some drama somewhere, some injustice, something that bothered her. Her sensitive nature is what had drawn him to her, but now, it seemed to consume and define all their interactions. The dinner was over, check had been paid and he felt like he had been all by himself the whole time.

Questions to ponder:
1) Do you ever find yourself in those one-sided conversations where the other person is not really interested in anything you might want to add? How does that feel? Do you ever find yourself being the other person, talking incessantly at someone? How might you remind yourself to stop and listen and invite the other to participate?
2) Do you feel comfortable interjecting and derailing the conversation when you really want to and need to? Have you been successful or has the person just ignored you and carried on?
3) Imagine you are the person needing to interrupt in this story, how would you do it? Practice and take a jab at it, who knows it might come in handy for the next time you are caught being blabbed at.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Whose Rules Are You Living By?

I am trying something new for the next few posts. I’ll write a little story (an exercise in creativity) and ask a few questions that might help loosen up some old stuck beliefs (hopefully). I hope you enjoy the stories and uncover stuff that helps you move forward!

He walked with a skip in his steps, lighter on his feet than he had ever felt. He walked into the local bar and sat on a stool sipping on his beer. The world around him didn’t exist. He had just left the hospital after signing the papers that relieved the hospital from all responsibility regarding the death of his father. He was actually dead. Alex couldn’t believe that the old man was finally gone. Even though, he was bent over and skinny with age and disease, he was still a tough and scary person, the way he remembered him growing up. Alex’s childhood was spent trying to please his father and hoping to not be criticized or beaten up because of something he had done or not done. His childhood had driven him to become a super achiever, a great student, and later on a successful doctor. His father was a bigot and prejudiced against people of other cultures, religions or color. Alex married a young woman from the town nearby, someone his father approved of. He loved her despite his inability to express his love or be affectionate. They ended up having 3 kids. He liked being a father and a husband. He wanted to be different from his father, yet at times he found himself cold and unable to feel any emotions. He was logical and cold towards his family.

Sometime in their marriage he met someone else, someone he fell in love with. She was not from the same town, country, religion, or race. She stirred emotions in him he did not recognize. She was impetuous, different, and made heart based decisions. Even if he had left his wife for her, it would have been difficult unless he disowned his family and his father. Alex chose to stay with his wife and not pursue this other woman. He felt dead inside, all of his decisions were based on not rocking the boat, not acting like his father, not hurting anyone. Alex had accepted his role as the peacemaker at all cost. And what was the cost?

He forgot what it was that he wanted for himself. His decisions were not based on self-fulfillment. He was always in control of his emotions. He never yelled or showed hostility, but he never cried or showed love either. Alex controlled everything. He realized he was gripping the beer glass tightly. He eased up, leaned back and smiled. It was time to live a different life. He was done living by his father’s rules, he was done living by any rules. He was free now, free to find out what it was that he truly wanted. What did his heart desire? It was safe to feel again.

Questions to ponder:
1) What are the rules you are living by? Are they yours?
2) Where do you feel locked up or unsafe?
3) What would it feel like if you broke some of the rules you live by?