When Everything Fails You, Follow the Loving

There are times in life when we all feel a little (or a lot) lost. The loss of a relationship, or job, a loved one, or our health can all leave us feeling disoriented and alone. In times like these, our self-esteem may take a beating. We may feel broken down, disheartened, and unsure which direction to turn.

If you find yourself feeling lost, confused, and unsure which path to take next in your life, it’s ok. There is a very simple answer. Choose the path that is the most loving. Follow the people, places, and experiences that bring the most loving into your life.

When we are in a place ofLet Yourself Be CArried BY love.-2 feeling hurt and in pain, what we need most is to be loved – to be nurtured, cared for, and held by people and places that are safe.

During hard times, turn away from what doesn’t love you and towards that which does. If a friendship is ending, grieve the loss, feel the love, and let yourself be held by the people in your life who are currently able to offer their loving. If a relationship is ending, let the love remain, and turn towards the loving offered by friends, family, mentors, and teachers. If a job is ending, search for the job where you are wanted, appreciated, and valued. If your health is waning, allow yourself to be nurtured and taken care of by those close to you. If you feel all alone with no one to turn to, allow yourself to be loved by you. There is always loving available, even if its your own.

It is natural to grieve loss, we are meant to grieve that which we once had and have no longer. And when it is time to make decisions about what is next, point your energy in the direction of the most loving. Ask yourself, “With whom do I feel the most loved and cared about?” Nurture that relationship and allow yourself to be nurtured by it. “Where do I feel the most safety and love? Where does my heart expand?” Give yourself time there. “What activities bring me the most joy and connect me into my loving?” Participate in those activities.

We don’t have to constantly focus on the loving that we don’t have. We can focus on all the people and places that do love us. Loving is bountiful. It can never be truly taken away or destroyed. And, when faced with one of those times when you feel broken down and alone, orient yourself to the rays of sunshine in your life, and let them love you and warm you up. Let yourself be loved. And remember that no matter what, you are always there to love you, and always will be. You always have yourself. Give yourself the loving, nurturing, and care that your heart longs for. There is always loving available, always.

Life doesn’t have to be full of suffering and pain. Allow in the loving that is all around you and wants to make its way into your heart. You don’t have to do this alone. You have people and places around you longing to love you. You have you, longing to love you. Let it in.

Let yourself be carried by love.

6 Myths About What It Is To Be Spiritual

*Originally published on Elephant Journal.

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Ten years ago, at the age of 24, I had a spontaneous spiritual awakening while meditating at our family cabin in Colorado. My awakening blew me open in ways I never knew were possible. My ideas of God, spirituality, our purpose here and just about everything else got flipped upside down. Previous to that, I had certain ideas about what it meant to be “spiritual,” which largely involved compassion, being perfect, and wearing a lot of purple. Ten years after that experience on a mountain in Durango, I can see how my ideas of what it meant to awaken were a bit misguided. Here are just a few of the myths about spirituality that I wish someone had told me so I could have spared myself a lot of self-judgment in the process.

 

  • Myth #1: As you awaken, life will get easier.

 

The truth is, as you evolve spiritually, life doesn’t become all rainbows and sunshine. I had thought that as I awakened, there would be more love, grace, and abundance than ever before. And in a way there is. I experience insane and intense moments of connection, beauty, and loving. However, I’ve learned that no matter how spiritual or connected you are, life will still keep throwing challenges your way. In fact, as we deepen in our spirituality, often times we experience more chaos and upheaval than ever before as we are clearing karma faster and faster. We are here to wake up, not always be 100% happy.

 

  • Myth #2: A truly spiritual being is ok with whatever happens to them because they are so neutral and clear.

 

Part of the spiritual path is about gaining neutrality and developing a witness consciousness. However, there are still times when I get angry, or sad, or feel disgusted. And these times are appropriate.  If you’ve ever read the Bible, you’ll see that even Jesus had moments of intense rage. The spiritual path doesn’t mean losing your emotional reactivity, it means becoming more conscious of where your reactions are coming from, so you learn when it is appropriate to express them. And there are times when it is appropriate to be angry, full of rage, or heartbroken. There are times when what we consider “reacting” is actually Spirit moving through us, helping us to break open into greater understanding.

 

  • Myth #3: To be spiritual is to be all-giving, self-sacrificing, and to put the world’s needs above your own.

 

This is one I believed for a long time and many good-hearted healers, therapists, and teachers seem to share this same belief. The old spirituality was about sacrificing ourselves for other people or for a higher cause. But we are in a new era now. In this new era of consciousness, we are here to love our selves first and foremost. This involves putting ourselves first in our own lives, before we extend ourselves to save the world around us. Doing so will set an example for other people who are sacrificing themselves in bad relationships or crappy jobs. Your permission to liberate and love yourself will give them permission to do the same.

 

  • Myth #4: Spiritual masters are always compassionate, always loving, and always “perfect.”

 

This is one I still grapple with. I had an image of what is means to be an enlightened spiritual being which included being all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving and compassionate at all times and all ways. This led to be being walked on, used, drained, and depleted in my personal life. What I have since learned is that the spiritual path is about deepening into loving, but we also need wisdom and discernment as partners to that loving. I thought that as a spiritual person, I wouldn’t need boundaries, but it turns out I need them more than ever. As I have grown spiritually, I have a greater capacity for true loving, but less tolerance for being used, manipulated, or energetically drained.

 

  • Myth #5: If you are spiritual, you have to be “nice.”

 

Being “nice,” isn’t all it is cracked up to be. This may sound dramatic, but “niceness” is like a virus. It is the way many of us have been programmed in our families and in our cultures to behave, be still, and not make waves. Spiritual masters were not “nice.” They were deeply loving and could love and touch the divinity inside those around them. But they knew they did not exist to please other people. They knew their purpose was much bigger than being “nice” to keep the peace. There is a difference between inspired acts of generosity and kindness, and being nice to please other people and fit in. This does not mean you have to be mean to be spiritual either. It is only a call to examine your own personality traits and which ones are authentically you, and which ones you use to maintain an image of what it means to be spiritual or good, Truth be told, I think most people who meet me would describe me as “nice.” I open heartedly love and adore people I come into contact with. However, I can see how my internal need to be “nice” kept me in some energetically abusive dynamics for far too long.

 

  • Myth #6: To be spiritual, means you stop being human.

 

I had assumed that as I awakened more and more, my personality would soften and my body would be in perfect health. I thought I would stop getting cranky when I was hungry, or mad at my boyfriend when he steals the covers at night. I thought my health issues would vanish. The truth is, as you awaken, you deepen in your humanness. Instead of getting mad at myself for getting irritable or grumpy, I am more and more coming to love that very human sweet part of myself who needs protein ever four hours and is upset and cries when someone verbally attacks her. To be spiritual doesn’t mean you stop being human, it means you accept and love your humanness even more. You begin to love yourself for your humanity, not in spite of it.

 

What I am learning is that spirituality isn’t about divorcing yourself from your humanity. It is about embracing and loving all parts of you, especially the very human part. Can you meet your humanity with loving? What about your anger? Can you love that rage and all it is trying to do for you? Can you embrace depression and sadness and heartbreak? Can you love yourself even when you don’t feel perfect? Or when you are ill? Or have lost a loved one? Can you love yourself fiercely, no matter what? That is spirituality.

 

Why Being Sick Isn’t Always A Bad Thing

Sick me with my new favorite mug. At least I have really good tea to keep me company.
Sick me with my new favorite mug. At least I have really good tea to keep me company.

As I write this, I’m surrounded by a littering of tissues and three half-full cups of green tea. I slept for about four hours last night because it was so hard to breath out of my nose. My voice sounds nasally, deep, and distinctly congested. At this moment, my limbs are heavy and I feel like I could not get off this couch even if I were being chased by a wild cheetah.

I am sick with a cold for the first time in four years.

I feel lucky in that I rarely get sick these days. Yet, because of that, I forget how much a little cold can bring me down for days.

I’m not actually all that surprised a doozy of a cold has hit me after four years of congestion-free bliss. As most of you know, last month was very stressful and emotionally draining as I dealt with two family deaths. I’ve been in the process of recuperating my energy and replenishing my overtaxed adrenals since then. And I know being sick right now is really important for my body. I know this cold is good for me.

Illness is a great way of releasing.

The post-nasal drip I’m experiencing is helping me to release some of the emotional residues I was holding onto as a result of stress, grief, sadness, and shock. The congestion in my head is helping me to release the experiences of the past month from my very cells. Old memories, regrets, and emotions get to drain out of my body and my energy field through the snot leaking out of my nose. This cold is part of my healing.

I’ve been thinking about illness lately as I am preparing to do a podcast with the very talented Jessica Flanigan, a friend of mine who is a clinical nutritionist (and just released an amazing book). We are going to be speaking about the role of chronic illness in the spiritual path, which is a topic that is close to my heart as I have dealt with many physical issues on this path. I’ve been asking for guidance as to what to share about this topic. And every time I sit still and ask for the truth about illness, I hear “Illness has value.”

This is not something we are ever taught to consider. In our culture, illness of any kind is considered bad. The medical model sees illness as something that has gone wrong with the body, an imbalance of some kind. We fight illness with a vengeance. However, from what I have studied and learned from my own experiences, it has become clear that illness can have tremendous value.

In this case, the little virus that has entered my body is helping my cells release long-held pain and memories. This cold is helping me process my grief and anguish. I know, deep down, that this cold is here in service to me.

Previous illnesses I have had, some quite serious, have also shown me this deep truth. Illness can have tremendous value. Sometimes they come in to help us clear out our bodies and emotions. Sometimes they come in to move us onto a different path. Sometimes they are here to clear a karma. Sometimes they come in to wake us up to parts of ourselves that need attention and love. And sometimes they come in as grand wake-up calls to ask us, “Do you really want to be here? Alive? Human? Prove it.” When that wake-up call comes, it can be terrifying. But if that call comes, it serves to get us to choose life, to really choose this life we currently have.

There is value to be found in illness. Illness helps us to release, heal, clear, and if we are lucky, wake up. We get to wake up to our true selves and to our desire to really be here, alive on this planet.

I’m not going to fight this cold. I know it has a job to do. I’m going to drink my tea, blow my nose, watch some Netflix, and let it do its thing. I’ve found that the more I accept the gifts of illness, the easier illness can resolve itself.

What To Do When You Feel Like A Scary Monster

scary monsterI will admit it. The past couple of weeks, I have been a grouchy, irritable monster. Every little thing has set me off, like the volume level of my iphone when it vibrates on the counter, the sound of my boyfriend’s chewing, driver’s who pull out in front of me, mold on the new tortillas I just bought, the rain, the sun, and the overabundance of water in the decaf Americano I ordered at the coffee shop across the street. I haven’t been proud of my actions and have even been a little short with the people around me.

When I used to have irritation-bursts like this, I used to panic. I thought to myself, “What am I doing wrong? Did I not feng shui my house properly? Are my hormones insanely off-kilter? Am I not meditating enough?” When I felt something that seemed different as compared to my usual state of being, I automatically assumed that I had done something wrong or that something was wrong with me.

Our minds are so quick to make what we experience, about us. And most of the time, our minds like to find explanations that somehow involve us having done something wrong. The mind is funny that way. Rarely does the mind think that what we are experiencing is the result of something right that we are doing in our lives. The mind really likes to make us wrong.
In actuality, my two weeks of irritation might have been because an old pattern was clearing out of my energy field, or I was integrating a new level of consciousness. It might have been because a friend of mine was experiencing something distressing, and my energy field was unconsciously helping her work through it. It might have been because my body was detoxing and coming back into balance. My irritation might have been the result of my body doing something right.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was so irritable. None at all. I used to think that being spiritual, and intuitive, meant being able to understand why everything happens. And sometimes, I do get messages about a particular experience. However, what I have realized is that the “why” isn’t always important. Granted, if there are chronic patterns in your life that you can’t seem to shift, understanding why they are there is important so you can move through them. But for things as transient and fickle as moods, trying to understand the “why” can just add more fuel to the fire.

So try this…Next time you find yourself feeling and acting like a scary monster, instead of getting stuck in your head, trying to think your way into understanding what is going on, take a deep breath and let go. Let go of the need to understand it.

You are human and there are myriad energies moving inside of you and through you at any given time. Don’t try to understand them, just let them move.

And of course, my irritable monster mood did shift. I’m back to feeling like “me” in a way that is even deeper than before.

More and more, I am learning I can trust whatever arises.