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Becoming authentic through living the questions that life poses

Earlier this week, I pondered on the paradoxes of hope.  I wondered if there can truly be false hope.  I promised to be a scientist of the heart and to experiment in the laboratory of life, via the medium of dating.  Well, it has been painful, fruitful and utterly confusing but I am here to report that having taken the risk of being vulnerable and opening up my heart, I am stronger and wiser.  There are still no answers, and what remains are possibly even more questions than before.  But having expanded my heart by being authentic and real, I am remembering what it feels like to be most fully myself – alive, wild, courageous and luminescent.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

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Living on the edge

There is something about the dating process that is forcing me to dig deep and practice pure intention and awareness. This experience is literally forcing me to live with integrity – to be true to my values and my vision. It is showing me who I need to be in order to meet my Beloved.

Because I’ve realised that if I want a conscious relationship, then I need to approach dating with the same attitude of mindfulness and self-responsibility that I aim to live with in ‘the rest of my life.’

But, as you probably know, it’s hard because we’ve all been hurt. At the moment, I’m noticing that when I sense hesitation in the other, I too can shut down out of a habitual wish not to be hurt or rejected.

I feel like I’m living on the edge – walking the gossamer line between hope and fear, between risking it all and holding it all back. Between taking my time and being honest about the depth of connection and possibility I sense with this man I am seeing right now.

I know there are “guidelines” when it comes to dating i.e. don’t over-invest too early. Hang back / play it cool / keep your options open. But I don’t buy those. In fact, I feel rebellious and anarchic because I don’t want to play it cool. I don’t want to hang back in fear, in case this man doesn’t like or accept who I am.

I want to stay committed to being present, real and authentic. Because if I have to hide those qualities in myself in order not to scare someone away, then I have to ask if that person could really be my Beloved? Today I commit to taking a risk with my heart. I risk being seen and heard for who I am. I accept that who I am might not be enough or may be too much for this man I am dancing with right now.

Today I surrender to possibility – the possibility of love, the possibility of loss, and the possibility of being made vulnerable through this shimmering heart connection that is vivid and palpable in moments when our eyes meet or when I breathe him in.

Above all, I surrender to what is right now and I embrace it with my entire being – even though it is confusing, even though I am unsure. I embrace it because I know I must, if I am to grow in my capacity to love and be loved beyond measure.

Blessed be.

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Lao Tzu’s advice on dating with dignity

I’m determined to date with dignity. So although I have a deep yearning to meet my sacred beloved, I keep reminding myself that dating is a process of discovery – staying open to and curious about the one arising before me, and also to myself and who I am in that moment.  Which means there is really no set destination, no fixed horizon where some magical, ready-made relationship lies in wait. Instead, I’m beginning to understand more deeply that ‘relationships’ are just heartfelt and conscious connections that either continue or not, ebbing and flowing along the way.

So if a fixed sense of relationship is not the destination, what lies beyond dating for me?  Hopefully a committed and joint practice of continuing to relate as a flowing process of love. May it be so for all who desire such a loving partnership.

Lao Tzu has this to offer:

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
― Lao Tzu

Today, may I simply be present, authentic and real with everyone I meet.  I invite love into my world purely by being loving and open.

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Dancing with life has kept me from words

Dancing with life has kept me from words these past weeks, it could be a month or more. 

Setting out on the blogging path again this year, I was so determined not to waver.  This time I would be consistent. This time I would write each week.  This time I would be present and fearless.  But yet again, I disappeared into a life without words.  I stopped writing, stopped visiting my favourite blogs. The magic drained away as I was consumed by other things – work, especially.

Returning to my WordPress friends’ blogs today I’ve found so much to renew me and remind me to keep going. And I’m also reminded of the similarities between maintaining a writing practice and a meditation practice…that I simply need to keep returning to these practices no matter how many times I ‘fail’.  The returning itself, with courage and persistence, becomes the practice itself. 

With gratitude for writers and readers everywhere, today I begin again. Blessed be.

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Return of the mountain tiger

The practice of pain is a lonely one.  Mentally dealing with physical pain and emotional anguish is most often a solitary endeavour. It takes so much energy; and when in extreme pain, it can be difficult to physically speak.  Then, when the pain subsides, there may be no words to describe the suffering that has been experienced on every level of your being.

At some point, the separation between physical and emotional pain can be lost and their colours run together so that emotional pain is felt physically. 

I’ve found that pain can become a mental habit, too.  Expecting life to be painful, one reacts to it as if everything will hurt, regardless of what is actually happening. It’s pretty disempowering. So I’m trying to relate differently to life. It’s a practice of many steps, starting with the present moment – again and again.

I read something recently which resonated very deeply.  Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book True Love, writes about what happens when meditators leave their community.  He likens it to what happens when a tiger descends from a mountainous jungle, in order to wander the plains.

“A practitioner who leaves the sangha is like a tiger who has left the mountains and gone down to the plains.  If the animal does that, he will be killed by humans; and if the practitioner of meditation does not take refuge in a community, in a sangha, he will abandon his practice after a few months. Thus a sangha is absolutely necessary for continuing one’s practice.”

Part of what I’m doing at the moment is reconnecting to things which nourish and sustain me.  I’ve realised that I cannot live in isolation anymore.  Even if I have no words to describe my past experiences, I urge myself to remember that each new day offers the chance of renewal. Each new day requires me to make a choice about how to live right now. 

Today I went to a gathering at my faith community.  I felt like a tiger leaving the barren plains, drawn to the mountainous jungle by brilliant flashes of lightening around the summit.

Fed with loving kindness today, may I find the courage to live once more amongst this community on the sacred mountain. May my heart grow in its capacity for trust and love and friendship. If I ever get lost again on the plains, may I always find my way back to this blessed sangha.

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venus at beltane

It is Beltane here in the southern hemisphere and today I lit the sacred fire of gratitude in my heart for all that has been, all that is, and all that is to come.

At the peak of midday’s sun, I stood on my favourite hill and was able to walk through the long shadows of the past without regret. I found bright love among the rubble, and shook it clear of dust. I will wear that love each day now, knowing it cannot be destroyed.

Tonight I shared a long evening with the two people I love most in the world, and only the mosquitos could force us from the lakeside grove.

A day of beauty and grace; this dancer knows she is blessed.

Photos, Reflections

Venus, at Beltane

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Reflections

Learning to swim, again

I’ve washed the chlorine from my hair, my skin. Quiet now, away from the chatter and the splashing. I had my first swimming lesson today and am feeling shaken up, a snowglobe upside down.

Before my body’s travails, I was an okay swimmer – at my peak I could do up to about 40 laps…nothing elegant or technically proficient, but I could move through water without thinking too much about it.

I’ve mentioned before that about 6 years ago, my body was completely undone by a terrible sequence of illness, severe stress and injuries. The pain alone was so intense I thought I would die. I had to relearn how to walk, climb stairs, move my arms and legs together, all the things I had taken for granted before.

It was frightening and there were times I wondered if I would ever be able to do things like take my son to school, go to a cafe for lunch, go into the city on a train or even drive a car.  Slowly, slowly I regained many normal movements and most of my strength.  I have never ‘been the same’ – of course not. Though I have come a long way since then, emotionally and physically. But I’m aware on so many levels that I’m still stuck in the past. I’ve not yet moved beyond the safe but now unsatisfactory limits of my known world.

So I’m shaking things up as best as I can; trying to write new maps of the possible for my body and mind. Learning to swim again is part of my process of conscious growth and becoming.

After today’s lesson I do feel emotionally shaken. I was surprised at how much trust and courage it took to get into the pool and ‘start again’. I am an absolute beginner once more. The heart-body memory of trust and safety has been erased. So the physical act of giving myself to the water, trusting that it would support me, was very challenging. Today’s lesson was spent learning to float and how to propel using different devices, working with my body as it is and accepting it as it is. Slowly, slowly. No rush, just persistence and curiosity.

How I wish I could abandon my many fears beside the pool of life and just dive in; if only I could re-write the map of my brain and my being so that I could be a person with deep trust in the shifting waters of life. Perhaps all it takes is the courage of making that decision not once but again and again. Perhaps each moment fear arises in me I can learn to be still, be curious, be open to fear without freezing or fleeing.

Apparently the word ‘courage’ derives from the Old French word ‘corage’, meaning of the heart and spirit. It reminds me of that man in Tiananmen Square, standing in front of a tank during the student uprising, and moving each way the tank moved. How present he must have been with fear in that moment. For me, his example is a reminder to find the strength to rest in the heart even when facing my deepest fears – failure, rejection, abandonment, physical pain.

I know that I can no longer accept my inaction in the face of fear. Standing and facing fear, may I not run away. May I look into the eye of fear and say: “I am here. You are here. I am here with you. We are not enemies. We are not separate. You are welcome to be here with me while I do what I must do.  Please, show me the places in myself that are not yet open to life as it is. Be patient with me while I relearn how to trust. Thank you for being here with me. We are not separate, but you do not define me.”

I’ve read somewhere that courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality. Today, may I have the courage to bring deep transformation into my life. May I surrender to life as it is, without resistance. May I accept what I cannot change, without the need to control things. As frightening and disorienting as it is, may I completely reorient my life towards magic and possibility. May I farewell the shores of certainty and enter the shifting waters of life, even if fear is my constant companion.

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