Taking a step back, getting perspective, and taking a bigger view is an incredibly helpful thing to do. And surprisingly difficult sometimes.
I had the opportunity to change things up for a couple of days and what a world of difference that makes. I think that’s why I am in love with freedom right now. It’s such a gift to be able to do something different when you feel like it.
When I left Vermont I felt unsure about what my next steps would be, and I still do. But I told myself to pay attention to any auspicious signs to help me along my way. Today I unexpectedly got one. I’m still not clear about what I will do, but I have a better sense and continue to learn to value myself and ask for what I want instead of assuming I won’t get it. I do this in some aspects of my life more than others. What do we have to lose in this life by asking for what we want? And why is that so hard for some of us?
So I move forward with a fresh perspective, renewed appreciation for where I’m at in my life right now and darker shade of hair.
I got this one from a Facebook friend, pretty good Mr. Jung!
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
~ Carl Jung
You can’t go through life without it. And my life is no exception. I am very familiar with these old friends.
The last few weeks I have managed to spiral into a confused state, somewhat losing my center. I’ve been having a hard time listening to my heart, or maybe I listen, but I’m not really hearing what it’s telling me. I do that sometimes. I actually know something both intuitively and consciously, but I choose to make a different choice, because I want to see what will happen. That’s all fine, until I find myself surprised by an outcome that I really already knew. It’s like I try to trick myself back into ignorance. But once you have some sort of knowledge or wisdom about something, pretending ignorance just doesn’t really work. And the only person who suffers is you.
Sometimes it’s fun being a lost and confused 38 year-old. Sometimes it’s painful. This week it’s tipped towards painful.
I was at a party the other night and someone read my tarot cards. I got a bunch of cards I didn’t like. You probably wouldn’t like them either. But I noticed how bummed out I was at that idea that “bad” things might occur. I’m still grasping and hoping for everything to be wonderful and everything to work out. But that’s not how life is, is it? I spoke with a friend who gave me the same gentle reminder from her own experience. It’s not that there won’t be challenges and hard times, but that you will be able to relate with them as they are, when they happen. And really, the more they happen, the more you have opportunities to build confidence and trust in your ability to see them through. So I remind myself of this as I have a particularly painful day. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just life. And as my other friend reminds me, it’s free and well favored.
Looking at the sky is always helpful, and this:
“Grant your blessings so that my mind may be one with the dharma
Grant your blessings so that dharma may progress along the path
Grant your blessings so that the path may clarify confusion
Grant your blessings so that confusion may dawn as wisdom”
-The Four Dharmas of Gampopa
Stupa in the Snow
New Year’s Aspirations
Dathun is over and it’s a new year. Somewhere in the middle of it all, 2014 rolled through. I spent a lovely New Year’s Eve offering aspirations to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. See that one in the bowl that says “Patience with Uncertainty,” that one is not mine, but I think it’s a pretty good one, don’t you? Thank you to whoever wrote it.
I’m still at Shambhala Mountain Center and the the past few days I have been in basic recovery mode occupying myself mostly with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and some trips off the land. It’s been a nice reprieve to be able to stay here while working on the next plan. I find myself in the now familiar “in between,” waiting to see what will arise. All is up in the air and the practice of living in transition the last few months comes in handy at times like these. This is a continual practice of being patient, listening to my heart, and trusting my instincts. Easier said than done. I am definitely lost in some confusion right now, but I have a few options and I do trust that things will become clear…at some point. In the meantime I get to listen to the wind howl and gaze at the moon.
White Ashe Moon
Sun in Clouds
Sacred Studies Building, Where I Spent the Last Month
On the Path
The best gift this year has been to be completely removed from the holiday season.
The mountains are covered with snow, but I have not seen a Christmas tree, I have not heard Christmas music, and have not been a store since it has had its holiday makeover. And to my surprise, I have not experienced a sense of longing for any of it! If you haven’t heard from me this year during the holidays, you are not alone. No one has. And it definitely doesn’t mean I don’t love you, because I do!
I am feeling great appreciation for the space and stillness of the mountains while sending much love to all of those enjoying celebrations with family, friends and loved ones. I am grateful for all those who have touched my life, whether for a small moment or for many years. I am especially appreciative for family and friends who have offered support over the last year on my complete and utter exploration of groundlesness in almost every aspect of my life.
What was a seemingly midlife crisis has turned into a midlife adventure, and for this change in perspective I am beyond grateful. It has been 8 months since I left my job and life in Los Angeles, and took a leap into the unknown. It’s hard to believe that this much time has gone by and I can assure you that not once have I regretted my decision. Not once. I still don’t know where I will land, or what I will be doing in the next few months, but I am truly enjoying the experience of living whole heartedly, for perhaps the first time ever. I don’t think I can ask for a whole lot more, and I wish for you the same. Happy Holidays!
May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May you be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
I haven’t had a second to come up for air since I got here. Coordinating Dathun might be kicking my ass. Yesterday I tried to take the afternoon off and found myself with a 10 minute break at 5:00pm, so much for that idea. The last few days have been difficult, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I’m tired and cranky. I haven’t been able to practice much and I’m sad that I feel the way I do. I came here feeling cheerful and spacious and better than I have in a really long time. I’m trying to trust that those feelings still exists under my current state of “squeezed.” A not so spacious and cheerful feeling.
The end of Week One of Dathun has arrived and there is the small possibility that I have caught up. I said small, right? Every once in a while I will catch a glimpse of the sky and see the full moon radiating through the clouds, or hear the wind whirling, feel the sun on my face, and have great appreciation for the connection that we have to the phenomenal world. That’s a big part of why I’m here, and I am grateful for the reminders. Recognizing that I am part of something bigger than myself helps puts things into perspective.
Today I witnessed people’s hearts breaking open after spending a week in meditation practice with others. When you sit in a room full of emotion you can’t help but be touched and recognize your connection to others, and the power that connection has on experiencing our own humanity. This is why I am here.
I can be little tired and cranky, I still wouldn’t want to be doing anything else right now.
Pictures to come, once I take some!
This was the cabin I called home for a week
I completed my first solitary cabin retreat this past week. I was a little nervous about being on my own in a cabin for a week, but as soon as I got there I realized it was not going to be a problem. I’m used to spending time by myself, and I’m not so afraid of my mind. At this point, I kind know what it gets up to. I also have been living in shared spaces for months, so it was relief to be able to settle into my own place and schedule. I had a wood stove to keep warm and cozy, was able to make my own meals, and spent the days practicing, reading, and taking walks. It gets dark early in Vermont and by 4:00pm lights had to be turned on, and by 4:30 darkness set in outside. The nights were long and the most challenging aspect of the week. I won’t say I wasn’t afraid of the dark and the animal life that comes alive with the setting sun. But each night I became a little more familiar with the outside sounds and a little less fearful. The day I went into retreat there was snow on the ground, and by the time I left it had melted and been washed away by rain. It was like having a full season from winter to spring in the one week I was there. I made it through, and coming out was a pure delight. I felt completely ordinary as I walked back to the main house for lunch. Then found myself uncontrollably laughing for absolutely no reason. I’ve often found that we don’t realize the impact of our experience until we leave a given situation.
I came back with one and half days to pack my belongings and say goodbye to Karme Choling. I was sad to leave as the house had become my home, and the staff was starting to feel like family. I am grateful for my time at Karme Choling this fall. I was able to realize my dream of seeing the fall leaves change colors in the Northeast again. I fulfilled my wish to deepen my practice and engaged in true meditation in action; staffing and coordinating programs. I took the Bodhisattva vow and did my first cabin retreat. I got to walk in the snow and enjoy the beauty of Vermont. I met wonderful people, sang lots of songs, and enjoyed many celebrations. It was a lovely two months. I’ve been doing a lot of these comings and goings the last 8 months and it’s been a true lesson in impermanence. Appreciating your experience without holding on.
One minute I was saying goodby to folks in the dining room, the next I was on an airplane heading to my next adventure.
Back to Colorado to coordinate the SMC Winter Dathun. Yep, that’s what I said. Dathun, again. Here we go….
Even though it’s technically still fall, it’s starting to feel a lot like winter here in Vermont. The temperatures have been dipping into the 20’s and 30’s and last night I spotted a light snow flurry. The leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and I have been told we are in for a “wintery mix” in the month of November.
Dathun has ended and I was able to hop a ride to NYC and spend two days reconnecting with some of my favorite people, enjoy the diversity of the city and be reminded of how stylish and good-looking everyone in NY is. I still love NY. I think I always will. But like Los Angeles, my relationship with New York City might have finally changed to appreciating it as a great place to visit, but not to live. At least not right now. Maybe if I strike it rich, I will reconsider. I do love it so.
Back at Karme Choling, I am starting to prep for the next program I am involved with, co-coordinating a Weekthun. More meditation in action, more practice. Here is what has been happening in these parts….
Prayer Flags on the Mountain
Frost on Car
Frost on Double Leaves