The Inward Turn to Self – Waken the Inner Teacher

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In just twelve days, I’ll arrive at Feathered Pipe Ranch. I must’ve taken the Virtual Walking Tour at least ten times since I was asked to co-facilitate this kickoff retreat for Feathered Pipe’s summer program.

(take the tour. the land is breathtaking!)

When I first learned about the Waken the Inner Teacher retreat, I had a sense it was going to be about helping people discover this inner Self at the center of the heart. I had a sense that many who would come would do so in order to dive in for the first time. And that is true. But, what I didn’t initially get was how many would come for the deep bonding that happens as we all take that turn inward together.

Living from the inner teacher is not easy…especially in many of the current cultural climates that continue to suggest others know best and that we should follow the dictates of those in powerful positions.

Yet, during these times, we need to be living from truth. We must begin to live from a lived sacred relationship with all of life. Taking the inward turn to Self awakens us to this sacred relationship with life, with the earth as a sacred being.

Saying yes to follow the Self is a choice I’ve had to make many times over. Sometimes it is easier. Sometimes, not so much. Eventually, it seems there is a quiet and gentle ‘Yes’.

The inner call of Self:

Something calls to us. A voice. A feeling. A knowing. It keeps calling. And, even when we turn away, it never turns away from us.

This that never turns away from us, even when the last thing we want to do is hear its voice, is the inner teacher. But when we do accept that we want to hear it, what helps us to hear it is crafting a relationship to it of trust and wonder. When we come to acknowledge that we do indeed long to know the Self, we begin to feel this longing more deeply. When we ask to hear and realize the silence we find is pregnant with life, we open to truly listening. When we are genuinely filled with wonder and a kind of curiosity of what we might find, we open the door. Sometimes, it happens all on its own. And more often than not, it takes our turning inward with a true intention to want to know.

At this point in evolution, we are all being asked to take this inward turn, the inward turn to the creative heart. And, at this point in evolution, we are also being asked to do this together, in community.

As Adyashanti writes,

“We are birthed into sangha, into sacred community. It is called the world.”

The whole world is our community, our sangha. The entire world holds us and has held us since birth. To know this brings about a kind of peace and relaxing into. And to find a community to do this work, deepens this knowing of being held.

So, I ask you to check-in within. Listen deeply. What does your intuition tell you?

Follow this voice. One of the keys to deepening the relationship to Self is to act on one’s intuition…whichever way it guides you. Intuition is always a yes/no. It either says, “yes”, or it says, “no”. That’s one thing really easy about it.

If you feel called to come to Feathered Pipe, please do. I would love to spend these precious days with you. June 15 – 21. In the beautiful big-sky country of Montana.

We are all teachers. We are all students. We are all finding our way, together.

Or as Ram Dass wrote, “We are all just walking each other home.”

 

 

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Love, Value, Desire and Truth

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poppy in prayer

What do you want?

What do you really want? That is what you will get. Not what you think you want. What you really, really, really want. If you really want what is true, it’s its own protection. ~Adyashanti

I listened to these words last night as I was working. I like to listen to Adya’s satsangs, just taking in his words and the transmission that comes through them.

I have a sense these words wove their way through me last night as I was sleeping, because in meditation this morning, I could see how deeply ingrained my thinking is to choose something that will please others, get their approval. It is fairly unconscious still…until now. I could clearly see it this morning.

And so as I noticed this, I wondered, “Do I even know what it is to choose what I want? Do I know what I want? Do I really know what is true for me? Am I willing to look, to know for myself? Am I willing to ask the hard questions?”

This comes down to being able to tune into this self, this being. This ego has been all about pleasing others (and of course the equal and opposite force of rebellion against that pleasing, but then that’s much more under the surface, but not as under as it used to be).

This coming into oneself, trusting the organic flow from within, trusting one’s own desires, is key to being an alive, creative being. And, it really doesn’t care about pleasing. It doesn’t know pleasing. It just is.

This flow doesn’t push or fight to be known; yet it is always here. When my fingers type on the keyboard with tenderness, I know the heart is open and what is coming onto the page is coming with love. Sometimes when I write, there’s a kind of forcing, or making things happen. And, of course, this comes out in the writing; even if the words don’t say it, it can be felt.

It takes courage…

It takes courage to be wholly oneself in a world so quick to want to judge, control and dominate. Yet, there is no other way to live a life of integrity. At the end of life, I want to have been an intimate and reverent lover of Life…all of Life.

Perhaps, it takes love. A love, though, that is unlike the love we’ve been conditioned to believe is love.

Subtle degrees of domination and servitude are what you know as love but love is different; it arrives complete just there like the moon in the window… ~Rumi

Courage comes from the heart, as does love. There is a root in common to both.

And saying yes to Life is what is needed, right now. There are many forces that want to control and dominate this creative life within us, our hearts and even our bodies…forces inside of us and forces outside of us.

There are forces choosing money over life, when they don’t have to be at odds.

Just this morning, a friend posted this:

…just heard from a project I have worked with in the past for women with mental health issues – they do such vital and beautiful work and all their funding is being pulled – so so sad and will lead to bigger problems in the long run – offering them beautiful art things to nourish them through this loss ….I don’t want to live in a society that pulls the money right from under the most vulnerable – these are mums and it will have a knock on effect on their children.

What we value…

Yesterday, as I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee at my local café, I looked out the window at the morning as it was unfolding. There was a man bringing out a hose to wash the sidewalk down in front of the swanky restaurant directly across the street from me. As he washed the sidewalk down, he consciously and graciously kept making sure he wasn’t getting water on anyone passing by. He smiled the whole time he did his work.

For some reason, as I watched him, I thought of how we judge people by what they do. On most lists this man with a job washing the sidewalks would ‘rank’ fairly low on how valuable he is to society in terms of what he offers the world in his work. Yet, when I watched him he was diligent at what he does.

I thought about value and how deeply conditioned we all are to value certain things as better than others. I thought about what I really value, not what I’ve been taught to value, but what I REALLY value.

I value life. I value love. I value beauty, tenderness, and the truth. I value children and mothers and fathers. I value the heart and soul of each person. I value autonomy and community. I value doing work that comes from my soul. And, I value speaking up and out that which I’ve not wanted to speak.

These are what I choose to fill my life with, and what I choose to fill my work in the world. And I get to ask myself, how much am I honoring what I value? How willing am I to live what is true? How willing am I to know this love that arrives complete, just there like the moon in the window?

And, you?

What is true for you? What do you deeply value? Do you know what it is you desire that has nothing to do with pleasing or pushing against others? I’d love to know.

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Fierce Times

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“There are many fierce moments in any one life span: times of turmoil, upheaval, challenge, and change. These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”
~ Adyashanti

Wood Line, a work of art by Andy Goldsworthy; photo by Julie Daley

Fierce times.

I’m personally in one of these fierce times.

I’ve left a relationship with a really lovely man. A man I love. I’ve left my home with him and moved into a new city, a city I’ve longed to live in for quite a while now.

Many have told me I’m courageous. I’m suppose there is some of that. And, to be honest, I simply could no longer stand the pain of avoiding what I knew was true in my heart.

It’s painful to avoid what gnaws at you during the night.

It’s painful to keep lying to yourself about yourself.

It’s painful to continue a relationship with someone you love, deeply love, when you get clear that it is no longer where you want to be.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all of me wanted to leave. A part of me was happy because I love him and I felt safe and secure with him. But that was only a part of it.

I also felt hemmed in by my own unwillingness to be true to myself…the real self.

And, I felt pain in my heart. The heart always knows.

This is where freedom really is…where there is no safety. I’m learning this. Not all of me believes it yet, but enough of me does to have brought me to this place.

The way does not reveal itself.

It doesn’t have to. It’s the way.

It doesn’t show up as a brightly lit, four-lane boulevard. Rather, it feels like the image above.

As I would lie awake at night, torn by this sense of needing to leave and a sweet love for the man lying next to me, I could feel the wild trees all around me, so thick I couldn’t see. It felt as if they were hiding the way, wrapping me in a darkness that felt frightening.

I was surrounded by the unknown, with just a small sliver of light and path ahead. Only a bit of the way was shown, and now, in hindsight, that bit was plenty. Always enough.

Somewhere in the midst of this wild forest of life is my wood line. The way is made from life itself, the wild forest giving over her bits of wood to be laid down end to end. A long curving line that snakes through the wildness of life.

Even the wild trees, the wild forest serves. I know without conflict, tension, friction, there can be no creativity. It’s in those sticky places where the desire for safety and the desire to be free rub up against each other. It is here where we can come to know the most humbling feeling of being the wild eye of infinite spirit living life through the limited reality of a human body.

As in the outer world, so in the inner world, so in the collective world.

This meandering path of Wood Line, forged by the death of cypress trees in a grove of eucalyptus, shows the way to a new life in a new world. The snake winds through me, too, beckoning me on to somewhere I can’t yet see, or that (as Marjory writes) “hasn’t been revealed to me yet.”

We are in an unshaped place.

This week I was on a call with Meg Wheatley. We spoke of her idea of hopelessness as a necessary way for these times.

In sitting with this sense, hopelessness is an invitation to let go of the ways I hold on to my old life. If this new life is to be truly new, letting go of hope means really letting go of my need for safety and security, of the ways I’ve known these things in the past. It means being with the shittiest of feelings that I have tried to avoid. It means beginning to trust in nothing but the ground that gives rise to existence itself.

And it is so in our collective world. The cypress trees of the old way, where greed, separation, and a wanton disregard for the earth were once cornerstones of how to be in the world, are taking their last gasps. As they die, the ground will again be visible.

“These fierce moments of grace are in many ways the most spiritually important moments of our lives.”

::

Wood Line by Andy Goldsworthy

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Dancing on the Edge of Disillusion

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Connemara
Connemara

In order to fully awaken to the fact that you are nothing but Awakeness itself, you must want to know the truth more than you want to feel secure. ~Adyashanti

Reverb10 Day 14
Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in
the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

::

The persistence of truth.

I’ve come to see that no matter how hard I might try to avoid, bury, ignore, or deny it…truth remains steadfast.

Sometimes, the truth fits with my liking. It’s what I want it to be and I have no trouble at all doing what it asks me to do.

Other times, the truth is the last thing I want to acknowledge. I want it to go away. I want to barter with it. I ask it to compromise, but of course it does not. Of course. It doesn’t have an agenda. It just is. It’s just the ego that has the agenda, and it’s agenda is to stay safe and secure.

::

The truth just is.

The truth is like a decision that has already been made.

The truth isn’t good or bad. It just is.

The truth doesn’t barter, argue or defend.

The truth doesn’t compromise.

The truth is asking for surrender.

I’m not yet completely there. Close, but not yet there.

::

What is the truth?

It certainly isn’t what the mind says it is.

There is no ‘my’ truth or ‘your’ truth. There is just truth.

It is what is.

And, in writing this, I can see the power of its unwavering steadfastness.

How do I express gratitude for it? Good question.

Much of the time I don’t express gratitude for it. I’m not grateful at all. I want my safe secure nest, and yet, as Pema Chodron writes, “To be fully alive fully human and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” Continually thrown out, not just thrown out when I feel I’m ready for it.

The bracing against the truth is exhausting, because of truth’s steadfastness. This hanging on, this not wanting to let go into the abyss, it is exhausting, yet it is, the bracing itself, the hanging on, is what gives the ego its sense of existence.

Adyashanti writes:

“What if you let go of every bit of control and every urge that you have, right down to the most infinitesimal urge to control anything, anywhere, including anything that may be happening with you at this moment?  Imagine that you were able to completely and absolutely give up control on every level.  If you were able to give up control absolutely, totally, and completely, then you would be a spiritually free being.

This battle of will, this desire of ego to maintain control in the face of the inevitable pull of truth – I appreciate the power of this relationship. It is profound.

There is no good or bad. There is no right or wrong way to be. There is only the ultimate pull of life to wake up to itself.

I can see this dance so clearly. The appearance of me is dancing on the edge of disillusion. This appearance of me fears what might happen to it. This appearance of me can’t be seen or touched or experienced in the same way as life right here. Yet, it’s power is strong. I appreciate the power of its futile dance.

::

I know that simply writing this post is an act of gratitude. I’ve come to see that everything serves this pull. Everything. Somehow, in acknowledging the frightened parts of the mind, a beautiful relationship is nurtured between the truth and what fears it. The mind is beginning to see it is held in love, in that which has no agenda other than to know itself as itself.

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Body and Place

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Place.

As I’ve pondered this word (today’s blog challenge prompt is ‘The best place’), I’ve thought of many places I love:

walking in Tilden Park (I live across the street from this wild heaven)

on the dance floor on Sunday mornings at 8:30 in Sausalito with 149 other sweaty and passionate 5Rhythms’ dancers

sitting on the floor in a puppy pile with my three grandchildren, 2 great-nieces and 1 great-nephew on Thanksgiving

doing yoga in my sister’s (the one and only Molly Fox) incredibly physical, and joyously lyrical yoga class

listening intently to my clients on our coaching calls as they share the most intimate details of their ‘one wild and precious life‘ (prostrations to Mary Oliver)

sitting in meditation with the most amazing teachers Lynn Barron, Amma and Adyashanti

simply being with Jeff, the man I share my life with.

I am struck by these things:

how crazy fortunate I am to be living the life I am living

and

how integral being in my body is to the ability to ‘be’ in any place and ‘know’ how it feels to be there. My body is my doorway to place, because I experience place through my senses. I drink place in with my eyes. I touch place with my heart. I feel place through the cells of my body.

and

The ‘best place’ to ‘be’ in is in this body, this sensuous female body that feels deepy and loves completely.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t always been the best place to be. In fact, for many years I wanted nothing to do with this place. I stayed way up in my head, or at times, was nowhere to be found even in the vicinity my body.

Now, after much ‘work’ and lots of great body practices, I know differently. This female body is divine. Not just mine. All female bodies are divine.

I remember being at and Adyashanti retreat when he was speaking about the divine nature of all of life. As I listened, I had an epiphanic experience (fancy way of saying an ephiphany, because I love the word ep⋅i⋅phan⋅ic). I suddenly knew, in the embodied way, that my female body, and all female bodies, are divine. We bring life into life in a myriad of forms. Our female bodies are gateways to this amazing thing we call life. If we are in our bodies, we feel deeply, we connect with the earth.

As this was satsang, when the time came for people to share experiences or ask questions, I raised my hand, was called upon, strode up to the mic, and said, loudly and clearly, “I just got that this body (pointing to mine) is divine”. I suddenly heard a chorus of female gasps arise around the room. I obviously wasn’t the only one who had missed this message growing up.

So in wondering about place, I now see, and taste and touch and hear and feel, that body needs to be in conscious relationship with place, any place, to know it.

As Mary Oliver writes,

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 11: The best place. A coffee shop? A pub? A retreat center? A cubicle? A nook? A BODY!

Image credit: Place of Healing, by Mara on Flickr

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Standing Out

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Tulip A friend posted this quote on FaceBook this morning, and I just had to share it here.

Why are you trying to fit in when you were born to stand out?” ~ From the movie, What A Girl Wants  

I like to think of standing out as simply being what you are, the truth of what you really are. The ego is all about hiding or ‘being seen’, but there is another alternative…simply being true to your own being, without worrying about what others think of you.

A teacher of mine, Aydahshanti, says freedom only comes when we allow others to have their own opinion of us, without worrying about changing it or controlling it. This leaves us free to simply be. The tulip above, one of many I had in the house over Easter, is a great example of this. It is standing out, being itself, being beautiful and vibrantly colorful. It is simply being what it is.

What if you were to allow yourself to be unabashedly you? and, of course, unabashedly female!

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