Alan Watts – Why Your Life is Not a Journey

 

I mean, wow! I love this video.

Alan Watts so perfectly describes something about our society that I have been thinking about for years.

At the ripe old age of 14, while in junior high, I remember realizing that everything I’d done since kindergarten was just a step in preparing me for the next thing. And that string of “things” I needed to prepare for seemed to be never ending.

I looked back to the past: I attended preschool to prepare me for kindergarten, kindergarten prepared me for grade school, grade school for middle school, middle school for junior high.

I looked toward the future: junior high was supposedly preparing me for high school, high school for college, college for graduate school, graduate school for my career, my career for my retirement.

It all seemed so planned, so predictable, so unexciting, so meaningless.

Life is this exact moment. This moment is all we have. This moment is where life happens.

Look around you…this moment is beautiful! Let’s experience it with our entire being.

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p.s. Thank you, David Lindberg, for sharing this video.

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Putting This Out Into the Universe

Sketch-UniverseI want to travel the world; not on sporadic trips, but as a lifestyle.

I want to spread as much love as is possible in one lifetime.

I want to be an entrepreneur. A maker.

I want to live according to my intuition and by doing so fulfill my life’s purpose each day.

I want to love deeply and trust completely.

Love,

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A Higher Power by Any Other Name…

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

Ah that Shakespeare, such a wise man.

I’m struggling with something very personal at the moment. If you’ve been following me for any length of time you may have gathered that I went through a pretty major existential crisis about a year ago. Over the past year my mind and heart have expanded exponentially. Since leaving a very strict Christian church, so strict that it has been labeled as a cult by some, I have been exploring spirituality with a very different world view. I’ve been working to connect with a higher power of my own understanding.

Today, I want to take a moment to chat about a major block in my spiritual journey: prayer.

For the last few months I haven’t been praying. Why? Because I don’t know exactly who or what I am praying too. I don’t know what to call “it.”

What do I know? I know that I believe in something, some force, that is greater than me. I believe that this force is within me, within you, within a leaf, within everything. What’s more, I believe with all of my heart that this force is conspiring for my good. It is helping me grow, it’s pushing me towards my life purpose. Yes, I believe I am on this planet and living this life for a reason. My past life experiences have made me sure of this.

And what exactly is this force? I don’t know. I strait up don’t know, and that is okay! It’s took me a long time to be okay with not knowing. But now I believe that a big part of my life purpose it to get “in touch” with this force. This, I believe, will be a lifelong journey and I am excited to be on this ride.

So, I will begin praying again. I will pray to the force that gives me life, that gives me breath, that ordered all of the cells in my body to be just so in order to create unique and beautiful me.

I’ve realized, like Shakespeare did so long ago, that it doesn’t actually matter what I call this force. But, just saying “force” or “power” doesn’t really do it for me. So, higher force/power, how shall I refer to you?

Unfortunately, the name God now has a negative connotation for me. I’ve come to the understanding that I do not believe in the Christian definition of God. And since all of my life I’ve been associating the name God with Christianity I don’t feel totally comfortable calling this higher power God. This name makes “it” seem (a) male, (b) judgmental, and (c) confined to the Bible. I no longer believe this higher force is any of those things. In fact, I don’t want to use a name associated with any specific religion.

I like the name Source. I think that Source is perfectly descriptive of this higher power. It is the source of all things; of life, breath, joy, pain, happiness. However, it doesn’t fully express the sense of awe I feel.

I’ve been avoiding the term “universe” because it’s so trendy right now, and I have this major aversion to jumping on trends and fads. But, ug, it feels so good to say! I like it, guys, in spite of my typical nonconforming self.

The word universe brings to mind swirling galaxies and twinkling stars. In encompass endless iterations and therefore endless possibilities. It is something that I (and even top scientist) may work our entire lives to understand, yet know that we never will. It keeps surprising us. It includes everything that ever has been and ever will be.

The universe is not defined by a man, or a religion or a heritage. It includes them all. All of us. Together.

So, with a slight cringe, I choose to call the higher power that I pray to, conspire with and gain inspiration from the “universe”. Don’t judge me.

Thanks for working that out with me dear reader!

Love,

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Cracking Open

“When and eggshell cracks from the outside it’s broken. When it cracks from the inside it’s reborn.” -Amma

This quote blew my mind.

I attended “An evening with Gabrielle Bernstein” at the Yoga Journal Live conference this past Friday at in NYC, and oh my wow! It was the first time I had heard her speak in person and within about 20 minutes I was crying uncontrollably. I was astonished that in a room of 700 strangers I could feel so incredibly safe and open. Gabby shared so vulnerably about her own life, and invited us to peal back the layers of our own consciousness and get real with ourselves. It was a magical night that I am so grateful to have been a part of. Thank you Gabby.

Check out Gabby’s work here.

My First Kundalini Yoga Class

It’s 9am on a Saturday and I’m sitting in a quiet room trying to breath as rapidly as possible. I’m surrounded by people dressed head to toe in white, most of them over the age of 50. Long deceased Indian men in turbans peer down at me from the walls.

A few moments ago, when I walked into the Kundalini studio for the first time I was greeted by a warm older man, also dressed in white who warned, “This is not going to be your average yoga class.” I reassured him that I knew this, and that was why I had come. Although, to be honest I didn’t fully know what to expect.

I have been on a spiritual journey for a long time now. I’m exploring new things and looking desperately for a way to connect to the divine, to myself, so some greater spiritual guidance. I decided after a whole lot of prayer, consulting with spiritual mentors and hours of writing in my journal that I simply need to get quiet. As quiet as possible. Then maybe I’ll be able to hear God.

I have walked past a street sign for this Kundalini studio every day for over three years. It is right next door to my office building. It looked odd. Ornate Sanskrit symbols surrounded a old guy in a turban. I would give him the side eye and step around the sign. I was a devout Christian at the time, yet I was intrigued. This past spring, as I began to question my beliefs and wonder what else was out there I had been listening to a number of podcasts where Kundalini yoga was mentioned. Over and over I heard this particular form of yoga mentioned. When I finally googled it I found that there was a studio literally next door to my office. I remembered the sign. After a couple more weeks of hesitating I finally signed up for the $30 for 30 days entry deal.

After getting oriented in the studio and putting my things away I entered the yoga room. I was surprised to see that it was carpeted. The carpet felt wonderfully luxurious under my toes. I walked the perimeter of the room and look at the walls. Everything, walls and ceiling, was painted in soft rolling clouds. There were photos of more old men in turbans, Sanskrit mantras, abstracted drawings of what appeared to be women and men connecting with the divine. As I circled the room I felt a warmth come to my eyes. I was tearing up. Why? I’m still not sure why, but for some reason I was moved to tears. As I regained my composure I grabbed a meditation pillow and sat down for class.

The one and a half hour class was a series of breathing techniques, mantras, and holding intense yoga poses for long periods of time. It was peaceful. I tried desperately to clear my mind and focus on my breathing and the mantras, but time and again my mind drifted, drifted, drifted. While focusing on my breath I found that my sense of smell was heightened. The old man next to me smelled like an old man, and I was very away of and distracted by this. At one point while we were quiet in meditation he farted. I tried to just let it go. In the couple months that I have been meditating on my own this time of quiet has become easier for me.

The “breath of fire” also helps focus the mind. It is a technique where you breath as fast as possible through your nose. It’s quite difficult at first. At times I felt like my breath was a run away train that I could no longer control. I would get out of sync, out of rhythm and feel like I was choking. I would slow down a bit, relax a bit, but then the teacher would encourage us to go faster. After a while I start to get the hang of it.

Sitting in class I am hopeful. Hopeful that this technique will help to quiet my mind. Hopeful that it will help me connect to some power greater than myself. Hopeful that it will help me discover who I really am. Hopeful that I will be able to tap in to some greater guidance. I want direction. Right now I feel as if I’m just floating in shallow water, not sure if it’s safe to put my feet down. No solid rock to stand on. But I am hopeful.

Have you tried Kundalini Yoga? What has your experience been?

Existential Crisis

I am going through an existential crisis. Strait up in the thick of it.

I have been doubting my church and my religion for a long time now. I finally let myself think deeply and ask the difficult questions last fall. Why did God allow horrible things to happen to me when I was an innocent child? Why did he create men with the ability to do such horrible things to each other? If God is perfect and purely good where does evil come from? Who created evil? Is there even a God? Is everything that my church preaches really justified by the scriptures? There are many others, but the one that has proved to be the most difficult for me is: Is the Bible actually the Word of God?

I have journaled, prayed, cried, studied, researched, and talked to people for countless hours about these questions. The sad truth is that I haven’t come to many conclusions. One thing I do believe wholeheartedly is that there is a God, a divine being who created this world. I believe intelligent design is evident in everything around us. What is becoming more and more difficult for me to swallow is that the Bible is His inspired and perfect word. I have studied apologetics extensively and still I cannot be fully convinced. There is a leap of faith required that I have not been able to make. I have made it in the past out of pure will and desire. I wanted so badly to have an unwavering faith in the Bible and trust in God, but I’ve all but given that up now.

Without the Bible I fear I am left with nothing. Who can I trust? What can I trust? Are we all just running around blind down here like ants, following the stream of society without being able to see above the grass? Walking, walking, walking, searching, searching, searching forever because we’ll never actually be able to see the big picture.

I am a deep thinker. I’ve always thought this was a great quality, but sometimes I wish I could just go around like my parents – not knowing, not caring, not asking. But I can’t help it. My mind will not rest. I remember having this clear feeling as a child that I was suppose to work for God. I didn’t grow up in a religious household, in fact some of my parents (I’ve had a lot of them over the years) have been strait up against religion of all sorts, especially Christianity. I remember a few times though, when we did haul ourselves to church, sitting in the pew and feeling an undeniable and at times almost unbearable desire to work for God. Five years ago I really studied the Bible for the first time. I didn’t just read a few passages, I studied it and decided to become a baptized disciple. I was so relieved to have finally found the one true way. Relieved to find my purpose in life. Being a true Bible based disciple was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but I always told myself it was worth it because I was living in the Light and basing my life on the Truth. Christianity, the way it is outlined in the Bible, is not for the weak!

But the doubts and questions kept creeping back in. Upward eyes turned down, hope was lost, clouds covered me as I cried. I would talk about it, pray, read, journal and time and time again decided to deny my doubts and believe. I wanted so desperately to believe! But now, five years later, I am so tired and so incredibly sad.

When I thought about leaving the church I first felt fear. So much fear. I do not go to a see-you-once-a-week-on-Sunday-and-then-go-about-your-business type of church. We meet almost daily. Most of my friends and many of my best friends are church members. I live with church members. Not long ago I was leading a huge ministry, mentoring many young women. I have studied the bible with and literally baptized many women. Many people in the church look up to me. I am suppose to go on a mission team half way around the world next year. Wonderful people have spent hours and hours training me, mentoring me, loving me. And I don’t know what horrible things they will think of me when I leave. I know how disappointed and sad they will be. What they might say – some of it true, some of it not. I will have zero control over what they think of me. And what about my friends and family outside of the church who have openly criticized me in the past. I can’t stand the thought of telling them. I never knew how much I cared about what people think of me before this crisis. The thing that hurts most deeply in my heart is that I will loose friendships that I hold very dear. I am tempted to say that the last five years of my life will have been for nothing, but that’s not true. I have learned a lot. Certain aspects of my life have been on pause though, and I do feel a bit behind.

All that being said, here is the thing: I can’t live like this anymore. When I finally allowed myself to seriously think about leaving I felt calm in my soul, peace in my heart and hope for the first time in so long. Hope! My soul feels free again.

I have been very open about my struggles with a lot of people in the church, but I have not told them strait up that I have decided to leave. I was just able to admit that to myself a few days ago. When I do tell someone in the church the dam will break, and I don’t know how or where I will be able to gain my footing in the aftermath of the flood.

Acceptance of this Moment

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you have chosen it.”

-Eckhart Tolle

….because you have. We have to take personal responsibility for our actions, our choices, and where we are in this life. We can play the victim and continue to live a lie, or make the decision to lean from our experiences. I choose to learn!

-Eva