Holy seeking at holiday gatherings.

It’s supposed to be a time to give thanks, to be joyful, and to be happy. In many cases, it is, or can be. In other cases, we carry on, as best we are able.

Unfortunately holiday fun can become a huge oxymoron in many households and families over the next few months with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and all the associated gatherings, meals, overnights, travel, gift giving, drinking… you get the idea.

During the holidays our expectations can even be higher than day to day life as we yearn for more joy, happiness, peace, and love… what we often find inside ourselves is non-preferred thoughts, feelings, sensations and perhaps even physical reactions.

So what’s to be done? If anything?

This practice may help you navigate your inner and outer experience a bit differently this year. May you find the peace, joy and love within and around you during this time, and throughout the year ahead.

The first thing to recognize is that you’re not alone. Difficult and unwanted inner experience happens to all of us. And, much of our inner experience seems to be, or is, tied to our outer experience.

We also, as a species, tend to connect to the external triggers that seem survival and or deeper emotion oriented.

You might take a moment right now, to think about someone you’ll see or talk to this holiday season who triggers you regularly. Take a minute to recognize their affect on you, even when you’re not together. Go as deep as you can into the feeling and sensation as you recognize the memory of their impact is always with you, whether they are there or not.

As you explore this inner experience, recognize the intensity of the reality you’re experiencing right now. As with all humans… we all “carry” our reaction to people within us based on the impression they have on us.

Now switch gears, take a few minutes to think about a relative or friend you’ll likely see or connect with, over the next few months that will bring you a sense of joy, peace, acceptance, encouragement, gratitude, love, etc. If you’re having trouble thinking of someone that will help you feel and experience that sense, you might want to make some new plans for the holidays (sort of serious).

Once you have someone in mind, explore how you feel or what you sense in their presence. Again, notice how deeply you can feel and sense your inner experience, when they are not in your presence.

You might take a few minutes to internally travel between the two inner experiences you have of these two people that impact you in such different ways. Enjoy both the ease with which you can move from experience to experience and the depth and strength of experience attached to each person.

If this is the first time you’ve tried something like this, you may find it a bit disconcerting or difficult. Be patient and recognize that inner work is often avoided because we are raised to prioritize the physical or material world even though it is made clear in every religion that we are to prioritize the unseen, the Spiritual, God, the Holy Unseen…

In your brief practice, did you glimpse the Holy? Did you notice the Sacred Presence of God as you moved between inner experiences?

Our next question may be… so how does this help me with Thanksgiving dinner and cousin Freddie’s or aunt Edna’s comments? You may have an answer already, if not, you might consider this:

By doing this practice, you recognize that we are already carrying inner reactions within. In a “real life situation”, you can decide whether to react to them by attaching to your inner reaction that you associate with them… or, you can look for the preferred internal reaction you’re carrying attached to a the person you’re looking forward to seeing, for whatever reason.

Okay, it’s not quite that easy, but it’s close. Check out this insightful story which helps us gain greater perspective on what’s going on within and around us.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

Would enjoy hearing about your inner experience with this practice. Peace be with you.

Popcorn Brain?

Where did that thought come from, and that one, … how did that pop up in my mind? If you ever find yourself caught in the mental popcorn popper, the reaction to the reaction, the mental loops and the self sabotaging stories that just won’t stop, you’re not alone.

Our lives have been shifted over the centuries from a survival based existence on the plains, or in the forests or caves, to a civilized(?) lifestyle that works toward safety, security, low-risk, existence.

In brief, our minds are bored. They’re built to keep us alive in the direst of circumstances and quite honestly, we engineered a lot of that need right out of our society. So what’s a survivalists brain to do?

Look for problems to solve, mountains to climb, stories to get attached to, positions to argue for and against, incessant worries to ruminate over, etc.

The mind is a wonderful servant… terrible master!

So what’s a human to do? What’s the alternative to being run by a reactive, survivalist mind?

Inner exploration is the key. As you become aware of your inner landscape, how the mind reacts to various internal and external stimuli, you’ll develop the inner spaciousness and ability to say thank you for your efforts mind, but today, I’m going to make a different decision. Today I will love, not argue, today I will make peace with myself and others rather than challenge, today I will focus on my values and vision rather than allowing my passions and desires to run the show through my reactive, albeit often helpful, mind.

It’s easy and yet hard to do this in our success oriented, go, go, go, competitive, externalized, society. It is possible with the right approach and by building your listening skills and inner awareness ability.

May we all find the love, peace, strength, courage and joy that is within us and has been there the whole time.

Who stole my joy?

It’s there within you, you’ve just lost track of it.

Of course you didn’t lose it on purpose. One day, one hour, one minute at a time, you let someone or something tell you to hide or mute or push down what matters to you. It’s still there, beneath it all.

It’s not that you never have problems, challenges, anger, sadness, or fear, we all do. It’s just that you’ve allowed yourself to sacrifice what matters, to get through, to get along, to look good, to get someone to Ike you, accept you. Let face it, you’ve sacrificed, joy, peace, accomplishment, kindness, love, harmony…

If you’re tired and need to be recharged, look no further. If you want to keep slugging it out, hoping joy will emerge, miraculously, maybe you’re the exception.

Finding real joy, deep joy, requires your full commitment and courage. You have to be willing to risk the status quo to find the kind of joy you’re looking for. There’s a lot of difficult, uncharted inner landscape before you.

If you’ve been waiting to begin… ask yourself, why not today? If not today, when you’ve mustered enough courage to risk losing what you’ve become comfortable with, I stand ready to journey with you.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. When the student is really ready, the teacher will disappear. – Lao Tzu

Back to Basics – Breathe

Back to Basics

And know you are breathing.
Love, even closer than life.
Love in our midst, always waiting.

We work to make ourselves worthy,
Striving to justify our place.
It is finished, it is done.
Breathe and know you are here.

But wait, you say, isn’t there more?
Yes and no, breath is all you need,
In this moment, in this place.
The culmination of all time and creation in one breath.

One prayer.
Breath of Love,
Breathe me now,
Until time runs it’s course.

Soul Sherpa

Soul Sherpa

Where are you going brother?
Up to the top you say.
It’s quite a journey,
And you’re carrying quite a load.

I’ve never climbed this mountain,
The one you’re eyeing with courage and fear.
I’ve been on a number of climbs before.
At the summit, you’ll find bedrock.

At the camps along the way,
You’ll find some rest.
Once refreshed though,
That inner drive will carry you further.

You can do it on your own.
You can trust that inner will.
If you might allow me,
To help carry all that you’ve brought with you.

As you get closer to the top,
I’ll wait with your things, those you may need,
And yet might keep you from the summit.
You’ll need to summit by yourself yet, you won’t be alone.

We all must make the final push on our own.
A soul sherpa like me can help get you closer,
The final push is up to you.
I’ll be here when you return, if you decide to.