I’ve been learning so much lately. I’ve always had so many questions about myself, people, and life. I dared not hope to find any more wisdom/answers on this trip than I have from my explorations at home, but somehow, I have. I’m seeing that what I once thought were ideas rooted in my strength were actually formed around my inner weaknesses. I see now that what I thought were deep insights were sometimes just reflections of my own limitations*. I’m not sure exactly what’s bringing this flood of insight lately; maybe it’s that I’ve had time and space in my brain to pursue these thoughts; maybe it’s the culmination of my travel experiences; maybe it’s the effect of meditating more regularly; maybe it’s just getting older. Whatever it is, I’m thankful. Meditation is much easier for me with a mantra, and lately I’ve used these two:
“I’m here, I’m open, I’m ready; what wisdom do you have for me, world?”
“I am the warmth of the sun.”
The latter is about how I relate to others: I want to radiate my love, my warmth, my energy with others. Even though I struggle with that, I’m learning that I succeed more than I’ve realized**. And the more I meditate on it, and practice it, the easier it happens. I know that I am Love, and I know that others are Love, and I know that we can all sense that in one another. It’s so interesting that these spiritual, cosmic ideas are now as obvious to me as gravity. I see spirit, Love, magic everywhere!
*Mainly about independence, and being alone. I over-emphasized how important it is to be ok on one’s own, to rely on oneself, to have a deep and profound relationship with oneself, to genuinely appreciate and enjoy time alone, in one’s own company. As important as these things are, these ideas came from my weakness. I was struggling with my relationships with people: with how people made me feel, with how they challenged my ideas, my life, my values, my self-worth; how they made me feel unappreciated, invalid, weird, and excluded. And also how they rarely meet my expectations. So instead of finding a way to deal with it, instead of releasing my expectations of others, instead of validating myself, finding strength and peace from within, instead of washing their insults off of me and thriving despite them – I retreated. And I thought I found “strength” in my cowardly retreat. Now I see that I need to learn how to cultivate that inner peace despite my surroundings. I really do want to be the warmth of the sun. The sun doesn’t retreat when she goes without praise, when she’s ignored, or unappreciated, or taken for granted; she’s ever present, and always bountiful with her loving warm light. I want to be exactly like that: an endless supply of love and warmth, despite surrounding situations. I want to be the friend that’s always happy to see someone, even if I’m hurt that I haven’t heard from them in a while, or if they misunderstand me, or if they’ve hurt me. We are all guilty of that, so I’m letting my judgement of my own and others’ failures go.
**I strive to be positive, open, loving, and nonjudgmental, but at times that is hard for me. During the temazcal, there was a couple next to me being a little lovey-dovey. As I’ve been so focused on independence for the last few years, it bothered me a little. I kept thinking that they should be able to enjoy this experience on their own, and that they can’t be as introspective if they’re focused on one another. But I countered that judgemental thought with another: maybe they are having a different experience together, but I’m sure it’s wonderful and valuable all the same. At the end of the temazcal, the woman told me that she could “really feel my love” during the ceremony. I was amazed that during my inner turmoil/inquietude, my love was still radiating. It was one of the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it came at a time in which I needed to hear it. When I shared this anecdote with George, he said, “your love may be uncommented upon, but it does not go unnoticed.” I feel as if each time I struggle or feel insecure, I receive the most wonderful compliments. The Universe provides.
“The first thing we do arriving on Earth is we breathe in; the last thing we will do is breathe out. The breath not only helps propel oxygenated blood filled with nutrients and all great goodies around our entire bodies, breath is also the transportation system for our prana, the vital life force. When we breathe we become conscious.” – Vanessa Burger, yoga instructor.
The following is an edited version of Jess Lively’s blog post about Santosha.
The teacher discussed the concept of santosha, which means contentment, or harmony. As he went deeper into the term, he explained that santosha involves using the word “and” rather than “but” to describe our circumstances. Contentment is not achieved, in a santosha sense, by only having “good” things in our lives. Santosha is about allowing the good and the bad circumstances in our lives to live together without overshadowing one another. The trick is to sit there with both experiences in open palms – without clinging to the good, nor crushing the bad. We simply allow the experiences to co-exist.
Here are a few examples of how we might normally think about our circumstances day to day:
I am healthy, but AND the cellulite on my thighs is more noticeable.
I love my daughter deeply, but AND her temper tantrums really wear me out.
Those “buts” cast shadows over the good in our lives. They seem to negate the positive. Of course, we could always try to invert this scenario and use the positive to block out the negative… but that doesn’t always feel genuine. It doesn’t give ourselves permission to experience our full range of emotion. On the other hand, santosha allows each circumstance, good or bad, to exist without negating one another. It can create a more balanced awareness and ultimately, contentment.
Saturday morning I had an 8am appointment with my counselor in Lakeview. I had been looking forward to this early morning ride all week, but when the day finally came it was pouring! I hesitated, but headed out into the storm anyway armed with a spare change of clothes and my laptop in a trash bag. Classy!
Afterwards I scooted over to Heritage Bikes for some handlebar tape, a cappuccino, and refuge from the rain. It’s been over a year since I’ve stopped in, and the coffee/bike shop is as cute as ever! I especially loved the chandelier made of bike wheel rims.
Sunday’s weather was much more beautiful! I took a detour on the way back from brunch at a friend’s and ended up finding a small bike path along the Chicago River, near Diversey Ave.
I pulled over in some tall grass and meditated. Ugh. I have mixed feelings about meditating. I like the idea of stillness, being present, and spending time noticing your thoughts and feelings. I just don’t like the emphasis I’m receiving lately on simply observing my thoughts and not getting overly involved with them. We’ll see. The Headspace app is super convenient and great for beginners, if anyone’s curious.
Anyway, I kind of decided that I’ll be going to brunch and on a bikeventure each weekend before I leave Chicago. Keep posted for more!
Top photo from www.heritagebikes.com.
Please take a moment to close your eyes, open your heart, and feel all the love that comes from your heart.
I want you to join with my words in your mind and in your heart, to feel a very strong connection of love. Together, we are going to do a very special prayer to experience a communion with our Creator.
Focus your attention on your lungs, as if only your lungs exist. Feel the pleasure when your lungs expand to fulfill the biggest need of the human body — to breathe.
Take a deep breath and feel the air as it fills your lungs. Feel how the air is nothing but love. Notice the connection between the air and the lungs, a connection of love. Expand your lungs with air until your body has the need to expel that air. And then exhale, and feel the pleasure again. Because when we fulfill any need of the human body, it gives us pleasure. To breathe gives us much pleasure. Just to breathe is enough for us to always be happy, to enjoy life. Just to be alive is enough. Feel the pleasure to be alive, the pleasure of the feeling of love.
— The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The voice you hear when you read silently
is not silent, it is a speaking-
out-loud voice in your head; it is *spoken*,
a voice is *saying* it
as you read. It’s the writer’s words,
of course, in a literary sense
his or her “voice” but the sound
of that voice is the sound of *your* voice.
Not the sound your friends know
or the sound of a tape played back
but your voice
caught in the dark cathedral
of your skull, your voice heard
by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts
and what you know by feeling,
having felt. It is your voice
saying, for example, the word “barn”
that the writer wrote
but the “barn” you say
is a barn you know or knew. The voice
in your head, speaking as you read,
never says anything neutrally- some people
hated the barn they knew,
some people love the barn they know
so you hear the word loaded
and a sensory constellation
is lit: horse-gnawed stalls,
hayloft, black heat tape wrapping
a water pipe, a slippery
spilled *chirr* of oats from a split sack,
the bony, filthy haunches of cows…
And “barn” is only a noun- no verb
or subject has entered into the sentence yet!
The voice you hear when you read to yourself
is the clearest voice: you speak it
speaking to you.
— Thomas Lux
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