I love to read. It's one of my many facets--bookworm, librarian, nerd, whatever you want to call it. I love stories. Hearing people's stories (I'm a devotional listener), reading stories, both fiction and non-fiction, and even lately, a little genre fiction (sci-fi and mysterY) are at times the dream weekend--a pile of books, a cup of tea (or coffee), and no plans.
When it comes to my own story, though, I'm a bit reluctant. Am I reading the right lines? Am I doing the right thing? Am I really being honest with myself--and others? Solstice week was very hard for lots of reasons, but the one that hit closest to home was my own story being upended. All my blocks, every obstacle, removed--as if it were nothing, as if it hadn't been a part of my identity my entire life, as if it weren't the root of my being--as if it were so much fluff from a dandelion riding on the breath and the wishes of a young woman. With one phrase my entire story changed. My entire consciousness shifted. And when that story changed, it demanded all the other stories shift their alliance and allegiance as well.
I realized that whatever the future holds--whether my love is fulfilled in a lifelong relationship, or not--it cannot be dependent on a 10-year-old's story line. It must arise from the present moment--this breath and this one and this one--this smile, this kindness, this tender word, this caring gesture, this direct and honest response, and this open heart.
I realized my antar, my essence. I learned that when I'm in my power, love and intuition and compassion flow freely from me like water from an artesian well. I also learned that it's okay to be loved in return. So, I meditate on d breathing this breath--with no apologies for living and existing. So I soar on the subtle wave of my voice. So I rest in my identity--and drop my stories. Leave it to the 'real' writers -- smile.
May we all be blessed
with the recognition of
the present moment
the gift of now
the spontaneous arising of joy
that is every breath
May we all know that love
is already within us
there is nothing to be found
or sought for, or fought for
only rest within the truth
that is every breath
May we all relax
and be ourselves
and gently, on tip-toes
approach the places that scare us
that places that we call
failure, shame, and blame--not enough
and may we rejoice in being 'too much'.
in a dream
Well, I should finally report about the CD-Release party since it's been several days. . . . It was as if I was in a dream.
The day started with a fender-bender and a near-head-on collision. So, needless to say, I was a little shook. Then all hell broke loose at work. No need to provide details there but everything that could have gone wrong--did.
Then I race up the mountain for my appointment with an amazing teacher Shiv Charan Singh from England. It was transformational and I am so grateful for the realizations I came to within that session, but on this day, the day of my cd-release party, I didn't need anything more to shake me up--right!
So by the time the release party comes around, I am drained and dazed--generally shook. My sister who has come a loooong way to see the show ends of taking care of me like an invalid for the better part of the afternoon (thanks Ronda) and I walk around in a dream. Tej Kaur my friend and co-worker sees me and says, Come on. She takes me out back just before the show and does her 'thing' on me. Then my friend looks at me and says, Hey, You're going to be great! and so with the healing treatment and the love and support of my friend I felt grounded and relaxed and I sit down for the sound check, which takes forever and doesn't seem to be progressing anywhere....then all these musicians begin to show up. A few I had invited and a few that Dharm invited--I don't really know?
But with five extra people on stage than I had anticipated, I had to relax, let go, and just be in the flow--which is when I'm at my best. It was so lovely-like a dream. Listening to Amar Singh and Ram Dass Singh play flute and clarinet--I was in total bliss. And the drumming just kept my heart beating and the music moving and we all listened to each other for the endings and the shifts and it was beautiful. Thanks so much to everyone who was there to support me!
When the set ended, I was so in a daze, I barely even said goodnight to people-just wandered off to my car and headed home. Surreal. But it did happen--I have pictures to prove it!
When I first moved to Espanola, I had a fairly mundane job that demanded a lot of humility from me and of me. It was a good test. And during this period, I began referring to myself as God's Dog. This wasn't derogatory; in fact, it was a recognition that I was beloved. I was someone's favorite thing--and I would be fed and watered and cared for. Because that's how dogs are treated in my family.
Here in Espanola it's another story. I have had to witness on my little microcosm of a world, the cul-de-sac La Joya, so many mistreated animals, people, children, wifes, etc. I came home Wednesday evening from an increasingly stressful week and my
neighgor's puppy had been tied up and in distress for so long that it didn't even recognize me--tried to bite me even when I reached to release it from its chain. And in that moment, I realized that I was that dog.
I have been so overwhelmed at work lately that I don't even recognize myself. Snapping at people who are trying to help even as I'm frantically crying out for help--barking and barking and barking.
In that moment of recognition, I simply lost 'it'. You know? It--the ability to measure our responses to things, the ability to hold it together, the ability to relax. I sobbed and sobbed for hours it seems.
And the next morning I realized that I could choose to be God's Dog again--I don't have to be that neglected puppy. I can ask for help--which I'm doing. I can say what I need--which I've done. So God willing and time permitting, I'll be taking a leave of absence later this summer to take care of myself, return to myself.
May each of us
in the gentleness
of our childlike nature
know that we are God's Dog
loved and cared for
in every moment
even the darkest ones
may our cries
always be answered
with an extended hand
and to comfort
and if they aren't
may we learn to comfort
in the knowledge
that everything we need
is already within us
may we 'let go and let god'
and may we find relief
in that surrender
As yogis, we are to see beyond the polarities. To do this, we have to master the play of those same polarities--laugh in the face of pain, cry in the face of ecstasy.
An example from my recent past: When I got the call from Spirit Voyage that I was being offered the contract from the "idol" contest last summer, I cried. And after having my emotional release, the first thing I said to myself was, "now, some people are going to hate me for no reason." Because I understand that with praise comes blame; with success comes everything else.
Another example: I come home from recording this album--which I'm so happy about and which came together with such ease, Sahaj--and the next day I fell in love. What could be better? Right? Success and happiness in every sphere of my life; but remember the polarity. Now--just days before my cd-release party on Monday when I should be so excited--the other part of the equation, this love that I'm so sure of in my own heart, is so far from sahaj, from easy. And it may yet disintegrate before my very eyes, even as I sing "The One I Love" this coming Monday night. And without my even knowing why. Which is often the case--we don't know the why's and the wherefore's, for years sometimes.
The love of course doesn't disintegrate--just the vehicle I'm so attached to. So even in that, I can see the polarity and the game of life playing within me and around me. I will continue to love--and perhaps that's what this entire play is about--teaching me to love so openly and freely and so completely without expectation of return that I burst open, beyond all my doubts, all my insecurities, all my childhood pain, and just love--the BIG LOVE. Not this small, little animal love that attaches itself to this big, beautiful man, my African Prince, the archetype dreamed up in my 10-year old psyche and held onto for soooo many years, that suddenly appeared, to what? To manifest as a dream fulfilled, a family, a life, a beloved; or a test--I still don't know the answer to that question and it's really none of my business--that rests in God and Guru. But I do know that I'm learning the Big Love. The Love that no longer discerns who is worthy or unworthy, that no longer hears praise and blame, that no longer sees deformity or beauty--just breathes and with each breath chooses to stay, to remain, wide open as the West Texas sky.
I pray for an open heart
I pray for dreams fulfilled
I pray for love realized
in all its forms
I pray that my inner 10-year old girl
gets her family, her life, her beloved
I pray for my prince to come to me
but most of all
I pray to be free
and with each breath
to simply be
I'm reading Pema Chodron's The Places that Scare You
. I began it years ago and never got through it...so two years later I've picked up where I left off. I find that when I'm in a tough spot, it's always good to go back to basic principles. The Boddhisattva practices are very aligned with the Warrior Saint archetype in Sikhism, but there's so much more literature on boddhichitta than Sikhism--that's readable anyway--that I turn to these pragmatic practices of Buddhist philosophy.
This morning I was reading the chapter called Three Kinds of Laziness. It was interesting to read these qualities of laziness--avoids discomfort, loss of heart, and I-don't-care attitude--as understood and delineated by the buddha. Because when I was a kid, my grandmother constantly called me lazy. I was always a bit hurt and confused--and in a way identified with it as true about myself. I accepted it, but took no action to change the way she saw me. Upon reading this chapter I understood for the first time what she saw in me when she called me lazy.
First let me say who she was. Here is a woman who traveled in the back of a truck with her 13 siblings after they lost their farm during the Great Dust Bowl. She grew up as a migrant farm worker from S. Texas to Colorado, following the crops. At 18 she met my grandfather, a dry-farmer who grew cotton in West Texas. The following summer she came to work and stayed to marry him and raise a family.
So this woman looked at me--a child who had been given everything as 'lazy'. I avoided discomfort, I had a tremendous loss of heart as a child, and as I entered my teen years that loss of heart became a growing cold depression, a case of the 'I-don't-care'. It was very clarifying to read and examine these qualities of laziness and understand what she saw. Who knew--all this time--that my grandmother was a Boddhisattva, a Warrior Saint? (smile)
Blessings to you grandmother
You are still with me, in every breath
as I remember your words
and continue to be challenged
by your character and your caliber
May this woman, this descendant of yours
no longer be lazy
but always be awakened to the nature
of my mind
and may I always challenge myself
to make constant effort
to manifest my highest Self
so that I can serve and benefit
all living beings everywhere
The weekend was a quiet one for me. Took Friday off to relax and had an interesting morning--photoshoot for Aquarian Times. I've run photoshoots before, but being a model is VERY different. Harder than you think!
Then off to lunch with my friend Bhajan--commiserating at its best!
Finally an afternoon of bringing tea and goodies to a sick friend--and then contracting it myself the next day! Stomach flu. sigh.
The weekend started off with a group of women reading Sukhmani Sahib. We read it in English and it was a really beautiful practice. Very profound. Each voice reading in turn. It felt very healing. I realized in the space that I wanted to record Peace Lagoon, the original English Translation of many of the daily Sikh prayers. It was so beautiful to be singing it in English. Someone leaned over to me and said, You should record this--just as I was thinking the same thing. Synchronicity--it must be a sign.
By the time I got home I realized I had caught the bug that's been going around, so the weekend was very restful. I got to catch up on a lot of reading. So I now include a couple of book reviews--embedded journalism at its best (ha!).
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
This classic philosophy of love from the psychologist Erich Fromm does not age--it is timeless. I have been looking for a copy of The Art of Loving for years but it's been out of print and finding original copies is challenging. So imagine my delight when I found that a new 50th anniversary edition had been published recently. It's amazing to me how timeless this book actually is--especially given the period in which it was written (the 50s). It's incredibly concise and well-written. A meditation on human nature more than an "advice" or theory-driven thesis which the market has become since this initial attempt to describe love and the human psyche. There have only been a few books that match its simplicity, its direct philosophy and its humility in assessing the subject of love: All About Love by Brooks and Full Exposure by Bright, both by women.
Anger by Thich Nath Hanh
This book is a wonderful guidebook to technology and practices to help change our habits around anger in relationships. Over the years I've read a lot of Buddhist philosophy. Hanh has such a light touch--a delicate approach to the mind and the tyrany of its habits. Without knowing it, I had incorporated many of these teachings into the way I deal with my own 'demoting' habits--like anger. He talks about engaging with the habit--not rejecting it. Embracing it as an old familiar friend and in this way, you can lighten up--not be so hard on ourselves. Hello anger, my little old friend. When we greet our old habits in this way, we can smile at ourselves and through tenderness and compassion for ourselves, slowly change.
It was also a challenge to my consciousness. I've had a break in one of my major relationships recently--a friendship. And reading this book this weekend really challenged me to look at why I've been willing to allow this break to continue without making efforts to reconcile. On one hand I want to take care of myself and cultivate friendships that are supportive and have good boundaries. On the other hand, people are people and relationships are rare--so why throw away something that's been so meaningful to me? Why not forgive? Interesting.
Happy summer reading everyone!
Labels: book reviews