When The Chaos is Just Too Much

It is SO hard to hold our focus on, and remain in alignment with, all that is good and well when people and events are chaotically swirling around us.

Of course, it is actually impossible to maintain alignment all the time; in fact we can’t and we’re not meant to. When our attention has moved from the truth of our authentic selves to the fear or worry that have seduced it into the shadows of uncertainty, we suffer terribly.

BUT it is the suffering itself that REMINDS us to return our gaze and attention to love. It is actually a homing device. It beckons, “Dear one, do not look this way, look that way. You need not worry. Do you see over there, where your loving heart beats with oneness and gladness? It is there that the hope resides. It is there that joy flourishes. All good things emanate from that place of abundance and beauty.”

Suffering is most acute when it affects our children. How can we bear it? Again, it is there, with and in them, that the Divine resides and emanates most strongly. When we turn our gaze to our children, witnessing their pain and at the same time open and vulnerable to their all-consuming love and strength, we are evolving into wholeness. When we integrate these energies into our hearts and minds, and then unconditionally return these powerful forces back to them, we co-create a momentum of powerful healing energy.

This is the light in the darkness that shines truth on, and reveals, the only things that matter: love, goodness, and oneness. And then anything is possible. In this wellspring of high vibration, healing and wholeness have the freedom to flow.

With Open Arms, Accept the Storm

Tonight my seven-year-old son went to bed suffering from a cold. He stayed home from school today, and felt better this evening. But by bedtime, he wasn’t feeling so well, and then it started.

He became increasingly irritable, then short-tempered, and when I asked him what was wrong, he couldn’t answer. I tried soothing him by rubbing his back and speaking quietly, but he was having none of it. I told him I loved him, turned out his light, and left the room. And that’s when his smoldering frustration ignited into a veritable tantrum.

By the time I was downstairs, I could hear him throwing his pillows off his bed and opening his door only to slam it closed, just in case I didn’t already understand how angry he was. 

This emotionally out of control behavior is not representative of my typically otherwise sweet, sensitive boy. Then again, I guess it sort of is, because this volatility emerges every so often.

These reactions began in earnest during his radiation treatment for brain cancer this past summer. Everyday for 30 days, he received anesthesia in preparation for the radiation. And sometimes, not every time, but often enough, he awakened with aggressive frustration and anger. I soon learned that anesthesia can have this effect on kids.

At first, it was startling, and I admit quite upsetting. But then, I decided to change my attitude about his behavior. I decided to consciously parent as I have learned to do, and just let his reactions be what they were. No judgment. No attachment. No reaction.

Sometimes, I just sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the hospital room and read or knitted or listened to a podcast while he lay in the hospital bed, blankets pulled over his head, and murmuring (not so quietly) the likes of, “I hate the hospital,” and “this is the worst day ever.”

When he would occasionally yell at me to get out of the room, I decided to oblige him and do just that. I calmly walked into the hall and stood outside the sliding glass door. When nurses came by to check on him, I just told them I was giving him space and that this emotional storm would blow over in about 20 minutes. Which it always did. 

When it was over, when my son returned from that dark and angry place, he predictably fell into a guilt-ridden, sometimes even shame-soaked heap of tears and expressions of, “I love you, Mommy. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t mean those things.”

There was such a defined beginning and end to these episodes, it quickly became clear to me that they were occurring for a myriad reasons. Whether is was the anesthesia; the interruptive nature of the radiation schedule; the understandably challenging abruptness of having to awaken out of a deep sleep and being sensorily assaulted by bright lights, noise, discomfort, and pain, my son’s behavior was a reflection of his disconnection. He had separated for a time from his true self—his joyful, amiable, loving inner source.

This amount of upset was as sharp and disjointed as a broken glass vase, shattered into pointy shards, scattered across the floor. It was really hard to hold, there were so many sharp pieces. So I learned to do so from a slight distance, all the while breathing into my own sense of calm and connectedness. And when my son was ready, when he reconnected to his loving wholeheartedness, he met me there, in the field of oneness and joy.

And so, back to tonight. As I was moving about the kitchen, I could hear my son slowly coming down the stairs and then shuffling into the kitchen. By the time I was sitting on the couch (about to put the first bite of food of the night into my mouth), he was standing in the doorway. I called to him and casually asked, “Hey, what’s up?”

He immediately fell into a torrent of tears, telling me he was sorry, that he didn’t mean what he said, and that he felt miserable with his cold. I called him to me, he curled up in my lap, and buried his head in my shoulder. As he kept apologizing, I just repeated, “It’s okay. I understand. No worries.” Then, as I’ve explained to him before many times, I told him, “I love you. I’m never angry with you. I will always be here waiting for you. I will always be here ready when you are. I understand you have these emotions and sometimes don’t know what to do with them. Let’s keep trying to use words when we’re mad. I want you to talk to me. It’s safe to express yourself. Maybe instead of yelling at me and throwing stuff around your room, you could say something like, ‘Mommy, I’m really frustrated and angry right now, and I don’t even know what to say.’” I explained that feeling frustrated and cranky is normal and understandable and okay.

We sat and hugged. And then he sat up and still with tears in his eyes, asked if I would put some essential oils on his feet and head so he could sleep. So that’s what we did. I took him back to his room, he straightened up the mess he made, we put more essential oils on his feet and head, turned on some sleepy music, and that was that. 

Franciscan priest, teacher, and modern-day mystic, Richard Rohr tells us, “Love only exists inside of freedom.” A truly loving relationship is one in which we are free to express ourselves to another in joy and anger without the fear of punishment, either corporal or emotional. Our decision to be vulnerable, to fully self-express, is based on our ability to trust that others will respond to these interactions impersonally. We need to know that they won’t hold us prisoners to our feelings of guilt and shame that can result from their inability to detach, and then project onto us their own feelings of lack and unworthiness.

This is not to say we should ever sanction hurting or abusing others in the name of free expression. Intentional cruelty or emotional torture is never acceptable. But in truly loving relationships, we must be committed to always up-leveling our energy, as we meander through what is often dark labyrinthian suffering and eventually emerge into the light and dance into joy. 

This is life. We stand open-armed to hold and witness another’s pain and then extend and invite their love. This is oneness. This is conscious connected living.

My sweet, loving, intuitive, sensitive son continues to teach me and invites me to show up in the world with the deep knowing that we are called to be free, to connect, to be vulnerable, and to love. That’s all. And that’s everything.

How Do We Move Through Suffering?

When we choose to live mindfully, consciously, we understand that living in the moment, being present, feeling grateful, and acknowledging the beauty around us is the Way.

But what do we do with suffering? What about the times when we can’t escape a situation? When the soundproof room of our pain is so secure that not even an outlying clang of joy can relieve us?

This is the suffering that is emotionally, spiritually, and viscerally inescapable and stifling. It forcefully pins us down, body and soul, and demands our attention. “You will look at me!” it screams. “You cannot break free of this!” “I will not let you take a relieving breath of happiness!”

Wise teachers tell us we are always in choice. No matter what the circumstance, we can still choose how to respond. We can decide how we will show up.

But, is this really true? How can we choose anything different from what is, when “what is” is so painful and prominent in our experience?

And here is where the journey of choice begins. First, we must choose to be fully, fiercely conscious. Consciousness is different from awareness. Yes, we are aware of our pain, obviously we are. It is starring us down, sometimes taking our breath away. But beyond this, can we become conscious observers of our suffering? Can we quiet our bodies and minds, even if only for a few minutes, in order to witness, not identify with, our thoughts? Whether it is through meditation, breathing, or simply closing our eyes for a short while and repeating a mantra or listening to a fan, it is here, in this interior spaciousness and stillness, that we can begin to shift from the one who feels the pain to the one observing it.

Only in this detachment, however slight or brief it is, can we truly acknowledge where we are is really hard; that we are desperately sad; that we hate feeling this way; AND YET it’s okay. It’s okay, because, in spite of all of this, we have compassion for our hurt, grief-stricken selves. In other words, can we feel our way to speaking kindly to ourselves as we would to a child? “I know it hurts,” we would say. “I’m so sorry this is so tough. You are right to be so sad.” And then, with complete openness and love, we say, “I am here for you. I am here for whatever you need. There is no rush. Take your time.” We don’t run from the pain. We don’t deny it. We don’t bury our heads in the sands of spiritual bypass. We see it. We affirm it. We give it a voice. We free it to be what it is.

It is here, in the messiness and weariness of “what is,” that the space we allow to grow in us invites us to choose yet again. This interior expansion frees us to turn towards Source, the Divine, God, who is always calling us, always inviting us to align with it, even when we are turned away from it in grief. We might not yet be able to fully bask in the light of serenity and joy, but perhaps we can, even if only for a moment at a time, glance at it and give our attention to it. As we do so, ever so slightly, little by little, we turn our gaze away from the frozen pain of what is unwanted and begin to spend a bit more time in the warming, glimmering, life-giving light of relief and hope.

Even if we can’t yet fully bask in the soothing warmth that is freedom from pain or anger or suffering, our time there will increase the more we decide to choose it. The love that we might only be able to at first experience as a mere fleeting spark will indeed grow into all-encompassing purifying flames if we allow it to do so. This great love, this light of creation, of infinite possibilities, undyingly yearns to rest in our hearts. It desires to flow through us, to quell our fears, calm our anxieties, and reconnect us with the goodness and abundance that we have, for a time, forgotten, is our very birthright.

Why suffering? Because it is here, it is virtually only here, that we break open. We open so fully and deeply in our grief, in our feeling desperately separated from love and oneness, that we are invited, in fact called, to return to them. And it is only when there is nothing else to do, that we indeed choose to do so.

This is life. This is the journey. This is the Way.

Inflammation and Cognition

Science is showing how destructive inflammation is to the body. Sustained inflammation not only causes pain and disease, we now also know depression is inflammation of the brain.

It is not only treatable, it is also preventable. What we eat matters. How we live matters.

We are in control of our health. The question is, are we ready to admit this and take action?

The Answer is Always in You

There are so many conversations with Abraham I could point to and declare, “This is essential! If you listen to no other, you have to hear this one!” I admit my library of “essential” discussions is rather large.

Here is one of those conversations. Why is it so impactful? Because in one fairly short podcast, Abraham talks about how we are our own healers; the answers to health and abundance are within us, not somewhere out there. They discuss segment intending; how to be focused on the present with each new experience (getting in the car, walking into the market, etc,). How we are co-creating every moment of our lives with the choices we make and where we DECIDE to place our attention.

Whether we are seeking relief from illness, more money, a better job, a fulfilling relationship, etc., the answer is always the same: we must reduce our resistance, align with Source, and allow it to flow. That’s it. It’s simple but hardly simplistic.

Once we understand that there is no one to blame, no one to hold responsible, no exterior force holding us hostage to a life we don’t like, we are free. We are liberated, because we get to choose in every minute how we feel and then respond and create.

Life is always happening FOR us. The Divine within us WANTS us to expand and align with joy. This is what we came here to experience. Right now. Right now.

The only question is, are we ready to say “yes” to the invitation to evolve and create the reality we desire?

Sin is Not an Act and Consciousness is Always Love

Your job isn’t to be correct; it is to connect. Sin is not an act; it is a state of disconnection.

The state of sin is always unconscious. Consciousness is always expressed in love [and oneness].

(From An Evening with Richard Rohr at All Saints Church, Pasadena, CA, April 13, 2016)

When we are called to reflect on, and hopefully evolve from, our own unkindness or contemplate the anger and abuse of another, it can be a confusing, dizzying process, complete with pain and a sense that our world is somehow upside-down. Why did we say that hurtful word? How could that person act like that? Why would I or they reach for the most painful expression or action at that moment?

Although many of us might answer that we really didn’t mean to be so cruel, others might very well say that in fact they very much intended to inflict pain, to cause the other suffering. Indeed, these are the same people who would likely immediately assume a defensive posture and declare that the other made them act like that. Or perhaps that they in fact are the victims of abuse and are just protecting themselves or lashing out in response.

The reasons we take these various positions and respond as we do matters, of course, but not necessarily in the big picture, which I am now contemplating. What I am pondering now are the concepts Father Richard Rohr presents here.

Most of us in the Christian tradition learn that sin is an action or activity, which is to be avoided for fear of God’s (and our parents’) punishment. If, however, we cannot avoid it, we will surely receive a punitive response and we also must repent and atone. We must ask for, and hopefully receive, forgiveness.

Father Rohr, as he most always does, offers us another perspective. And here we enter into the realm of the mystics, the desert fathers, the true and original biblical message. Despite what most of us were taught at school, in our families, and at church, perfection correctness are not the intended goals. The most important aspiration and even quotidian practice is connection. We must first remember to connect with ourselves, for the Divine lives and moves in our hearts, and from there we are free to connect and belong to one another.

It follows, therefore, that sinning is not an action that occurs in form outside of us. It is a state of being in which we are disconnected first from our hearts, our true selves, and thus from others. For if we are not connected to who we really are, if we forget that we come from and are manifestations of the Divine in us, then we, by definition, cannot fully connect, or become intimate with, others. In this state of disconnection and forgetting who we are, we then cannot help but sin, acting out in ways that hurt others.

Further, as Father Rohr tells us, this state of sin, this disconnection, is always unconscious. In other words, when we are in despair and feel alone and isolated, we are blind not only to our own pain, but also to the cruelty, chaos, and trauma we inflict on others. To be fully connected to love, which at its highest form is oneness, we must be conscious. We must be awake. We must be fully engaged with our own hearts so that we might connect with others while standing in our own vulnerability, empathy, and compassion.

How do these concepts offer clarity or comfort in the midst of our either inflicting hurt on others or receiving another’s abuse? First, they invite us to become more compassionate with ourselves when we behave in less than kind and conscious ways. Second, if we can see others with this same compassion, perhaps we can better detach from the hurtful words and actions and realize they are actually not personal. This depersonalization can be clarifying and healing. Although their behavior can be momentarily triggering, we can begin to see it for what it is: a manifestation of their disconnectedness from themselves and from the constant Divine love that is always available to us all.


Self-Discovery is the Only Way

I love Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory. I have learned so much from this podcast and his conversations with inspiring athletes, thinkers, and spiritual teachers.

As much as I love his show, I sometimes find I appreciate Tom even more when he is being interviewed on someone else’s show or when he’s delivering a talk like this one at Mindvalley.

Tom discusses his own inspiring journey, formed out of shame, low self-worth, and others’ low opinions of him. He talks about how he shifted his mindset and what it took for him to find his voice and way in the world.

Of course, his methods won’t resonate with all of us. He has a clearly defined masculine approach to life, which may not jive with those of us who are inherently inspired by a more feminine wisdom.

His message and his passion are inviting and encouraging, however, and they resonated with me in a real way.


Dr. Barnard on Meat, Plant-Based Diets, Hormones, and Why Fat Isn’t Innocuous

Here is another enlightening conversation between Rich Roll and Dr. Neal Barnard.

Eating and food fads and trends come and go. But Rich and Dr. Barnard dig into studies and data that we can use to discern what is essentially “true” about food and health, and how to incorporate into our own lives the foodways and practices that are most beneficial to each of us.

This is the Time to Create

On this, the fourth day of 2020, I’m still thinking about how I want to enter and show up in this new decade.

On the one hand, I want to launch myself into this new energy. I imagine pole vaulting over the line between 2019 and 2020, and rather than smashing on that enormous soft cushion thing, I envision landing on my feet and hitting the ground running.

On the other hand, however, this jolt into the new decade feels off. My intuition is telling me I need to ease and flow into the newness rather than burst into it.

As I ponder how to move forward, one theme keeps recurring: creativity. Although not exclusive to beginning a new year, our attention to what inspires us to be uniquely creative is in fact essential to our growth and evolution. As Brene Brown tells us, “Unused creativity is not benign,” and as Caroline Myss explains, “Our need to survive has always relied on our need to create.”

We are creators. We are here to create, manifest, expand, and grow. As you watch these videos below, perhaps you can think about how this theme resonates with you as you move into this new decade. In numerology, 2020 is a 4 universal year, meaning we are focusing on stability, building foundations, and putting methods in place to move us forward and assist us in growth and expansion.

Enjoy these videos and happy New Year.