Become a Follower of the Big Dude!

Meet the divine Dude in this blog. This Dude has had and seen his share of sacred shit. He's not afraid of it or of its language. I can't relate to a god that's been crucified, but I can relate to one whom my government has imprisoned and humiliated. I can relate to one who's been raped by his own holy men. I can relate to one who grew up playing baseball or soccer and who dated the Prom Queen. I can relate to the god who knows the working of corporate conglomerates, pimps, and teen-age girls who are pregnant. I can relate to the god who loves alcoholics and drug addicts just a tad more than wall street hotshots. This Dude thinks all of us are mortal particles in an ocean of sacred shit. This Dude recycles.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Will and Dry Soil in the Spring Wind

Sometime the inner voice, the Higher Self, the Universal Wisdom seems silent. The spiritual soil is dry or frozen. Nothing's coming up. I think of the line, "To everything there is a season." Right now, I'm in a season of spiritual aridity and darkness.

I re-read my last few postings and I honor myself for TRYING, trying to make wisdom or find meaning. Alas, that doesn't work. The only thing that works is finding stillness and waiting. I think about blog followers and how the statistics show that if you don't post frequently, you will lose them. I worry. Don't go. Hang in there with me, please.

This morning, I was meditating in my wicker rocker staring out at the unusually early spring that has come to the northeast. The grass is greening up and the lilacs are almost ready to bloom. A strong wind is bending the birch tree towards the ground. I am riveted by the scene. It changes every second as the wind gusts and swirls or calms briefly. I realized that I am drawn to change, to drama, to movement. These things seem to inspire me or, at least, make me FEEL in this dry spell.

As I closed my eyes and released the view from my mind, focusing on the breath, the words of an old hymn came to mind, "Be still and know that I am God." Be still. How much I want to create and shape meaning, how little I want to stop and let meaning come to me.

Am I afraid I will be bored with silence? Am I afraid that if I clear my mind of its thoughts as interesting as they are, I will find an unbearable emptiness? This seems to be the spiritual journey, the elixir, the requirement of enlightenment. To surrender the will. To surrender that part that creates and shapes. I'm so attached to MY meanings, my visions and metaphors, my little life, that it seems impossible to surrender all that to a higher process.

What if there's nothing? As a friend said last night, "Each day, I begin by asking a higher power to take my will." I was so moved by that, and then he added with a grin, "I spend the rest of the day trying to get it back!" So many of us imagine, despite the chaos of the realities we've created, that our wills are the only thing keeping us safe and worthy. It's terrifying to hand over what seems like our last weapon or even our last grace. What will become of us?

What "unbearable lightness of being" may arrive? There's such a paradox in the spiritual journey. The more we surrender, the more we attain. The more we lay down our defenses, the more we are protected. The more we empty our minds, the more we are filled. Or, so the great spiritual traditions say.

Roxie

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Self-Love Revisited

Did you ever notice how easy it is to love every single cell of a two-year-old? Even with arms folded and a stubborn "no" pouring from a frowning face, that little person evokes a smile. Could it be that way with self-love as well? Since it seems that love of self is foundational for loving others and even the gods, we've got to keep at it and figure it out.

I've tried loving myself in one big gulp and that seems too theoretical. It hit me, loving a two-year-old, that it's every single PART of such a little one evoking love in me. What if I tried loving every single part of me?

Here's what it might be like to love ourselves, part-by-part.

I do love my toes and feet. They haven't aged and still look and smell prime, hot with their pink pedicure. It gets harder as I go upward. My ankles are a bit thicker than they used to be. They still hold me up, swivel, and let me walk though. LOVE them! My calves and knees have lost their incredibly great proportions--I had great legs. They, too, are still working and when I shave them and tan them up a bit, they'll do. LOVE them.

A great lesson came from the recent recovery of my hamstrings which froze up after a fall. Suddenly, I couldn't put weight on my leg. After months of physical therapy, I can step out, walk, pivot, climb stairs, balance, and land on my legs. I learned the importance of the invisible hamstring component. No trouble loving that part of me!

Then, we've got all those smelly orifices (sorry, readers, TMI?) that allow us to eat, drink, excrete, and make love. Basically, they help us be connected to the earth and its products, to other humans as well. LOVE them.

The flabby abs that house the intestines and lots of other fairly gross organs have a lot of incisions in them. Childbirth and appendicitis have taken their toll. Housing those organs is important work, more important than looking great in a bikini. Love them too.

The breasts are sagging, admittedly, but they still rock and can pass when encased in a good bra. They've served me well and are one of the few pain-free areas of my particular body. Have always loved them.

The arms and shoulders have born too many burdens and still carry too much worry and stress. I feel compassion for them, torn rotator and all. I have to tell you that the hands and fingers can still play a mean guitar. LOVE them, baby.

The back and spine hold us up. Though no longer as fluid and loose as the squirmy two year old's, they still bend and straighten, lifting our weight and our spirits. Nestled in front of them is the heart. Having survived a heart-attack, I have no trouble loving my heart. It's still beating and it seems, at least metaphorically, to be the seat of all this love. LOVE it.

The neck and throat are still long and elegant. They speak my truth and hold my face and head erect. Yes, of course, love them. My face is beautiful. It's virtually unlined and has always been transparent and expressive. The eyes are big and blue, wide-set. There's kindness in the face and the rapid flash of intelligence in the eyes. There's LIFE in the face. MY LIFE. Maybe, all life. I am in love with my face (and faces).

My hair is a gift. It remains thick, with body and shape. Oh, no doubt, it's white under the expensively streaked blonde that I've kept it for the last twenty years. I like my cosmetics, and I LOVE my hair.

Running quickly through this list, I think of the chakras. In each part of my trunk and head are metaphysical realities housing various spiritual challenges and graces. We are, after all, spiritual beings in this physical frame. Ultimately, as Yeats says, we are "sailing to Byzantium" where the spirit thrives in the bodies of the elders.

Which brings me, finally, to the mind and emotions. Our mind is a great asset at its best, allowing us to comprehend the physical world and reach for what's beyond. It also is a trickster, contributing to our confusion and doubt as we try to make meaning of all this. Our emotions generally follow what the mind is telling us altough sometimes they seem to take great leaps and go beyond the mind's capacities. They are what we see in each other's face and eyes and bodies. The sorrow and hurt, joy and passion, anger and fear sweep through our mortal frame telling it like it is to others, pushing them away and inviting them in.

Hot damn! I really do love myself. Roxie

Monday, March 19, 2012

Anger

Sometimes I can't stand people. I don't mind being around them but I don't want anything to do with them, if you catch my drift. Today's one of those days. I've been foraging on, doing the next right thing and the next right thing only to find myself slamming the grocery cart into its stall, jumping into the car and slamming the door. I realized I was angry, furious, in a rage. I coud be the author of that Puritan tome: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Only I don't know how I'd cast myself--as the sinner or the angry god.

It built slowly, this anger. It started with me growling at other drivers and even at the Liberty Tax woman in her Statue of Liberty costume by the side of the road. Pretty soon, I was screaming as I drove. I could see my poor dog cocking her head at me curiously out of the corner of my eye. Another scream from me.

That's when I started to wonder about the insomnia I've been experiencing lately. Could it be that all this spirituality, this turning things over to a divine force, this effort I've been exerting to be a better person, is just another sign that I don't love my self? or God? or you? or my poor dog? or anyone at all for that matter?

I don't know. What I do know is that it's time to kick rocks, to metaphorically slash and burn. It would be the day to go to the firing range if there were any way to do that in New York State. Ka-boom!

It's probably no coincidence that I've been engaging with life more in recent times, making new friends, visiting old ones, joining family events. It's too much. It's so much EFFORT to be growing spiritually or whatever you want to call it. I don't want to do it today. Not with people. I want to roll in the grass, sink into deep water, light a fire against the night and sit by it. Alone. By myself.

I DON'T want to go to meetings, teach my classes, dine with friends, answer the phone, or pass the time of day. I don't want to pray. I'm sure this too will pass but, please God, not just yet. I'm sick of folks and I'm ok with that. Roxie

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Surviving Not Thriving?

Do you sometimes think you're trapped in a kind of "rat race" just trying to meet the bills, stay reasonably healthy, and keep your family out of trouble? If so, like me, you're so busy surviving that you don't really consider the possibility of thriving in this life. When you think about it, would we have been placed in existence just to make it through to death? Like lemmings, are we just to scurry along until we hit the cliff and fall over? Doesn't it make more sense that we were placed here for a larger purpose?

There are so many excuses that keep us believing that we must survive, aren't there? The economy tops the list. We've lost our job or may lose our job. Our health and the specter of decline and death plays a big role as well. Do we have health insurance? Finally, the needs and problems of our children and families slide into third. Aging parents, pregnant teens, learning disabled children! No wonder we don't sleep well or drink too much! Guess what? We don't control any of these things. We may lose our job despite our best efforts. Our health will decline and we WILL die. No point worrying about that one. Our families, as good as they may be, WILL let us down. We can't control or even protect them very much. Why waste our time worrying and working, surviving, when ultimately it's not our destiny to control our own life or the lives of those around us, whether we like it or not?

Consider the possibility that all these things, important as they may seem, are not the real work of this life, that they are distractions, red herrings, excuses. Consider the possibility that we are here to thrive, to shine, to live out an inner essence that trumps all the hardships of the everyday. What if it's true that we are spiritual beings on a mission in this physical world?

That changes everything. In that spirit, we know that the job issued us within the economy is not essential. In that spirit, we know that the state of our health is irrelevant. In that spirit, we love our families and let them go, not compelled to protect them from their own particular journies. In that spirit, our purpose is to be aware, enlightened, in love with who we are and what we have. The possibility that we are spiritual beings encased in a physical frame and a seemingly physical universe means that we need to stop and notice the "road less travelled," the spiritual journey home.

What does that mean in real terms? I'm clear about what it's NOT, but less clear about what it is. Here's some thoughts though. Be in this moment. Breathe. Slow everything down. Use the senses given to smell, taste, hear, and feel the details of this physical experience. Use the mind for awareness more than judgment. Accept. Change only what we can change for the greater good. Do no harm. Take daily doses of nature. As the song says, "Stand in the place where you live." Finally, forgive. Roxie

Friday, March 2, 2012

Do No Harm, Baby

Driving down a busy highway, the SUV in front of me stopped suddenly. I skidded to a halt behind it barely registering the near-accident experience, for I was far away contemplating possible FUTURE catastrophes. The sudden braking slide brought me back to the moment. Inexplicably, the words "do no harm" floated through my mind.

Many of us try to live out the Dali Lama's tenet in our dealings with others. We mean them well. I don't know about you, but I find it easy to practice "no harm" to others and virtually impossible to practice that same tenet for myself. I began to imagine what it would be like to "do no harm" to myself.

It was like my brain locked up. I had nothing. Loving myself being out of reach, it seemed like I SHOULD be able to at least not foist dark thoughts or unheathy actions upon myself. I found myself, alas, immediately criticizing myself for not being able to practice the simplest mode of thought--mapping an idea from one situation over into another. I couldn't see how the very same kindness and harm-free zone I generate towards others could be pulled back to surround me.

Man, this spiritual stuff is not easy; it's sometimes impossibly difficult. Still, we have to give it the old college try. So, here goes. Here's Roxie's list of ways to protect yourself from your own harmful thoughts and actions:

1) Notice the dark thoughts and let them go.
2) Notice the dark thoughts and let them go.
3) Ditto.
4) OK, when they've finally subsided, direct your mind towards the good.
5) Good things you've accomplished in life (had that baby and raised it, got an education, rescued a dog, those kinds of things).
6) Good intentions you have (want peace in the world, want hunger and sickness eradicated, want to comfort those in need).
7) Good contributions you make to your community (having a little sister, working the domestic violence hotline, singing in the choir)
8) Good actions you've taken to be a better person (told the truth to your boss, got up everyday and did your work despite lack of sleep).
9) Talk to a friend about the feelings that block you from self-care (I feel so alone at 4 in the morning, I'm so scared that I won't be able to care for myself as I age, I'm so angry that life has dealt me a tough hand).
10) Meditate.
11) Do something physical.
12) Eat a green vegetable (ugh).
13) Tell yourself once every hour that you're doing a good job.
14) Be still and know that you ARE the God, that you don't have to do anything except be.
15) Pray.
15) If none of this works, blog! (So, here I am, blogging away.)

Seriously, girl-friend, why is it that it's so hard to hold ourselves harmless much less wish ourselves well or LOVE ourselves? I can see the Big Dude scratching his head (so to speak) because HE loves us.

If I'm willing to go there, I know that others taught me that I WASN'T good, that I was a bad girl, that I was dumb or lazy, that I was ugly and unwanted. At best, I learned that I wasn't ever good enough. You'd think I'd know better by now, that I'd have dumped those childhood messages Sorry. That's not how it works. We grow up and marry someone who sends those same messages. We get promoted to jobs that leave us scrambling and never quite reaching "good enough." In short, we keep reliving those old messages while the Big Dude sends us brilliant sunsets, starry nights, and good friends in hopes we'll see that HE holds us harmless and, possibly, loved.

I'm learning the only way out of the harmful thoughts and messages that I carry is through them. Am I feeling grim? What's going on inside, what's been triggered? Parts of me are screaming: "I'm not good enough! I'm not good enough!" On a clear day, I can say, "Good enough for what?" Or, WTF does that mean? Or, who says?

Hey! Thanks for listening! Leave a comment with your dilemmas or suggestions regarding self-love. Roxie