Watering the seed

Number one on my list of New Year goals for 2016 was:

Honor my intuition. Embrace trust.

Easy to write down, not so easy to figure out how to do, it turns out. Especially when you’re a perfectionist/closet control freak/me – operating on years of learned self-doubt, inferiority complexes, overthinking, and anxiety. When you’re in the process of breaking through these molds, questions like these arise: Intuition? What does that even sound like? How do I recognize my “inner voice” when I have about a thousand of those going off all at once at any given moment of my existence?

But learning to listen to my intuition has been a lot simpler than I thought it would be, especially once I realized that intuition is often synonymous with curiosity. In fact, let’s just, for a blog post’s moment, take the word intuition off the table entirely and replace it with curiosity.

Curiosity, I’m learning, is quite possibly the most powerful seed that we can water. When I feed my curiosity, all of the things that are most important to me bloom: Knowledge. Creativity. Compassion. Similarly, when I deny my curiosity, joy + illumination seem much farther away. My walls go up and my world gets smaller.

Choosing what to focus on cultivating within ourselves can be a tough process sometimes. I’m learning to always go where the curiosity goes, to give it water and sunlight and allow it to thrive. It’s something I can always trust to be there to guide me, should I ever get lost (and let’s be real, directions were never my strong suit).

If you feel led astray, I suggest following the curiosity. It wanders far and wide, and it knows the way back home.

***

Further exploring?

Here are my recommendations:

0625-sail
Illustration by Mike Medaglia/One Year Wiser 

The Seeker and the Mystic: Permission

Dear Seeker,

I see you’re feeling skeptical about something again. Cast that aside, friend. It has never served you.

Let me remind you, skepticism never felt right. When you were a child, you were aware of the fact that skepticism was being taught to you. You didn’t have the words to articulate it at the time, but you realized it was being integrated into your upbringing. It appeared in school as “critical thinking” lessons. It appeared at home in the form of your mother’s constant admonitions: Be careful. Watch out.

You knew that, while well-intentioned, these things didn’t always fit. That they were meant to keep you from danger, but sometimes the only threat perceived was that of a differing belief. That sometimes these were fear-based projections being passed down, disguised as wisdom. As responsibility. As self-preservation.

But doubt never worked for you. Doubt never sat right in your soul. You knew there was more; there was always more.

As you grew older, you absorbed those lessons in skepticism, and it created a rift in your personality. You let it govern many of the choices you made throughout the years, but you were never able to truly accept this quality as a natural part of your personal reality. It just never quite belonged.

You have always rejected it in your heart. You have believed in magic from the start.

So take heed now: It will fail to serve you now more than it ever has. Let it go.

This is not to say that you shall henceforth throw yourself devoutly at the feet of all knowledge. It is only to remind you that I am here – your inner wisdom, your higher self, your intuitive guide – and I want to help you own your truth.

I see you thoughtfully considering all angles, all possibilities, all perspectives (and oh, there are so many…). I see you cradling some doubt in your arms, tensely, as if you are ready to drop it on the ground to free yourself but aren’t quite sure that’s allowed.

Go on – I give you permission. Return to your trusting roots. Embrace everything with an open mind, just as you have always done, and do so proudly. Truly own what you have always believed: There is no such thing as healthy skepticism. (Oooh, doesn’t that feel good? Doesn’t that burn bright with the fire of truth in your gut?)

Lovingly and mindfully tuck away into your heart what resonates as truth, and leave the rest. Allow all else to be as it is, in all its light and all its darkness. All things will find their own way. We are all just looking for the way home.

Allow yourself to continually recognize skepticism for what it really is: fear. Walk with it, but do not let it block your way. Take down those walls. Trust your instinct. There is magic beyond.

In love and light,
The Mystic

Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth.
— Adyashanti


Header image by ElenaLight on DeviantArt

On Orlando + consequences

Today I’m thinking about how upset we are about the tragedy in Orlando. We should be, we absolutely should be.

But many of us seem preoccupied with this idea of delivering justice – that the gunmen involved in the shooting, as well as every other person who’s gotten lost down a twisted, tangled path and made choices that affected so many people in awful and negative ways, deserve some sort of consequence. A terrible consequence for their terrible actions. Seems fair.

I think this is a completely normal part of the grieving process. In the wake of tragedy and loss, we are hurt. We don’t understand the pain, so we search for someone to blame it on. We need to be able to channel our pain and anger somewhere, and in our devastated state, it makes the most sense to lash out at the people who seemingly most deserve it. (By “seemingly”, I’m not implying that the attackers aren’t free of fault, but that we merely glance at the situation instead of looking deeper, towards a root cause.) It makes sense to demand consequences for this unethical, heartless behavior.

Consequence: That word brings to mind a conversation I had with my best friend just this morning about parenting. We discussed the idea that our actions are our children’s greatest teachers. We can give them consequence after consequence for behavior we don’t approve of. We can tell them to go to their rooms when they’re rude, or take away privileges when they cross boundaries. But in the end, it isn’t the consequences that teach them. It doesn’t provide an explanation for why what they’re doing is wrong. It may instill fear or rebellion (or perhaps a mix of both), but it won’t explain. It merely controls. It keeps an external situation from manifesting (if you’re lucky), but it won’t mesh with their deeper intellect.

Let’s switch the perspective some more. Do you remember a time when you were a kid and received consequences for a bad choice? I do. There were only ever two things that happened afterwards: Either I did it again or I didn’t.

If I did it again, it was because the next time the opportunity showed up, I felt like this time “it was different”. I felt justified in my behavior because this time “wasn’t like the other time”; I had different reasons, different motives and incentives, different expectations. It was on a case-by-case basis that I evaluated my actions, and usually I determined that each circumstance was its own world of reasoning. Sure, something bad happened the last time I did this, but this time – unlike the last time – I’m doing it because of x, y, and z. The consequences shouldn’t apply here, right? Right! thought little me.

If I never did it again, it was because I was scared. Yes, I stopped to consider the consequences. But the consideration inspired fear. Not awareness, not emotional intelligence, not an application of my inner moral compass to guide me to a rational decision coming from a place of respect. It was simply fear of experiencing punishment + my desire to avoid whatever bad thing I had coming.

Actually, I lied. There was a third thing that sometimes happened. I call it the “fuck ’em all” effect.

Sometimes, when I’d had enough, I questioned the rationality of these consequences. I wondered why, if I thought I was truly in the right, I had to be punished. All that was shown to me was that there were certain things I “shouldn’t” do, and that if I was brash enough to try them, bad things would happen. And I thought to myself, So let the bad things happen. I know that what I’m doing is right.

And maybe whatever it was I wanted to do wasn’t right. Maybe I was harming myself or others. Maybe I was limited to my narrow, self-absorbed perspective and was driven by something beyond rationality. I was either never taught why I shouldn’t do this thing, or the lesson hadn’t yet been absorbed into my understanding. But none of that mattered.

What mattered is that I believed I was right. And that belief trumped all consequences, because those did nothing to explain to me why I shouldn’t behave the way I wanted to behave. Fear be damned, I would have my free will! *insert fist slam on table here*

***

So sure, we could focus on consequences. On justice. On vengeance. On ego. On control.

But will it relieve our pain? Has it yet inspired hell-bent murderers and broken-souled perpetrators to reflect and reconsider? Will it in the future? Is “scaring into submission” the tactic we want to handle conflict with? And most importantly, are we creating a long-term solution?

Let’s sit with our pain. Let’s be compassionate with ourselves so that we may learn to be compassionate with others. Compassion doesn’t mean we excuse away bad choices. It just means we soak in this very important concept: Everyone is in pain. But not everyone has been given (or has found) the tools to deal with that pain in healthy ways.

Sometimes it gets out of hand. Sometimes lives are lost, tears are wept, and hearts are shattered into a million agonizing pieces. But reacting in hate won’t put the pieces back together, and it won’t make these horrific acts stop.

I can’t say for certain what will make them stop. I’m not in a position to determine that. All I know is that I believe in the power of love, and in the strength of the human spirit to be bigger and better than simply perpetuating fear. I believe in our abilities as individuals to practice consciousness and acceptance, and to spread it to our circles of community. I believe in our abilities as a community to overcome a fear-based reality and build (or rather uncover) a new one. We are alchemists. We can transmute lead into gold. But we have to practice daily.

/end reflective post
There are my seeds, and I have planted them.


Header image via Hey Eleanor on Facebook