And you find yourself in a soft place

October 26, 2011


This last weekend I attended Tara Sophia Mohr’s Fall retreat. And it was fantastic. Tara did an outstanding job of facilitating and the group of women that gathered was such a kind, safe container for the deep inner work we all did.

And I was struck by a couple of things that relate to trust.

This retreat was held at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, a Buddhist practice center nestled in the hills just north of San Francisco. I got the feeling on the winding drive that leads onto the property like I was walking a labyrinth – those maze-like symbols of pilgrimage where the “pilgrim” walks an inevitable path toward the center (God, Source, one’s own wise heart), and then back out the same path to every-dayness.

I stepped out of my shuttle that first day to the sound of wind through trees. A woman with a shaved head – a sign of her devotion – was just finishing preparing the guest house for our group. And as the sun warmed my face and shimmered off the sea in the distance, my heart said, “This. THIS.” Like all of this – the quiet, the land, the contemplative spiritual setting – was water and my heart parched beyond telling.

Tears fell from my eyes.

The next morning many of us took an early walk to the shore, winding our way silently through the Center’s many gardens – vegetables, flowers, shrubs, trees – past horses and then out to sand and sea. I felt the whole time like the land was hugging me, like it had been loved and tended well and had, because of that, so much to give back.

And it struck me as I walked and cried and received that huge hug how harsh life has felt these last months. Not mean, but requiring much. In addition to the challenges of family life, I have poured myself into my work here, saying yes a thousand times (and often late into the night) to trust and to listening more strongly to my sense of calling than to my racing heart and trembling knees. I feel silly admitting how out of my comfort zone I’ve been doing almost everything I’ve done here, since my life has prepared me well for all of it. But that’s the truth: I’ve been out of my comfort zone this year far more than in it.

So I’ve known this year has been hard work. But it wasn’t until I found myself in a soft place that the truth of it, the depth of the stress and the rigor, had freedom to surface.

And I wonder:

What if becoming (painfully, gut-wrenchingly, sometimes) aware of our fear is not always a sign that we’re far off from peace, but actually quite the opposite: a sign that we’re actually close enough to peace to start collapsing into it, to start admitting to ourselves or someone else how hard things have been? How much we need Life’s hug?

If you look at the labyrinth above, you’ll see the bulk of the last steps to the center are actually furthest away from it.

The other thought I’m left pondering is the surprise that softness was for me this weekend. The surprise of quiet and stillness in the midst of my otherwise loud, frenetic life. The surprise of land that felt so powerfully good. The surprise of Tara’s warmth and skill as a facilitator and the lovely group of women to explore with and grow alongside of.

What if it’s possible to be surprised by softness when you very least expect it? To be going along in the midst of your gut-clenching challenges – the ones you admit to yourself and the ones so hard and protracted you almost cannot – and find yourself turning a bend into kindness. Warmth. Generosity. Understanding. Love.

What if all such things could be far more close than you think?

I hope that they are. I hope you know rest and softness soon. I hope you’re surprised by a warm and healing Hug.

If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed or free ebook are great ways to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
Submit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

25 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags:   |  

Trust Tending and the Internet

October 19, 2011


I’ve been learning and practicing what has felt to me like magic. Magic for all the times I’m online and get triggered into shame about who I am or what I have or haven’t accomplished; magic for all the times I get overwhelmed as I read and research and surf; magic for the times when a stiff drink of Frantic feels less like a choice and more like a command.

My whole life – on the Internet and off – is changing because of this magic, and I want to share it with you.

I’ve created a little book that’s all about tending trust while working online and you can read more about it and download it for free here.

I love you and am rooting for your trust with my whole heart,



 

If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed is a great way to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
Submit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

10 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags: , ,   |  

When we offend

October 11, 2011

When I was ten, I deeply offended one of my friends. I told a joke that she thought was about her weight and, from all I can gather, I triggered deep shame. The look of shock and then distain on her face when I told that joke stays with me still, and, too, the memories of her ignoring me for months; her unwillingness to listen to my frantic explanations and apologies; and her attempts to help other kids join her front against me.

Were I a spit-fire kid myself, this might have been normal. I might have been frustrated, but basically resilient and able to brush myself off and move on.

But I wasn’t. Oh, I so wasn’t.

I was as earnest as they come, and offending anyone was virtually top on my list of Things To Be Avoided At All Costs. I told few jokes in general and, as you might imagine, this particular one had nothing to do with my friend’s weight.

I struggled hugely that year to come to terms with the reality that I could a) hurt someone unintentionally and b) be powerless to right the situation when it actually happened.

I’d like to say that I did it – that I came to terms with both things – but I think the very opposite is true. I think my fear that this could happen again grew ENORMOUS and even more so, my resolve to try to avoid the recurrence.

But of course life will be life, and I have and continue to hurt and offend and disappoint people. Without even trying! Because in addition to all of our unspoken needs, we have land mines – all of us – that can get triggered by even the most delicate, planful of strides. The look of a stranger can set them off. The growl of a dog. The respectful work of a dear one to tell us what they need.

I’m guessing every one of us has experienced both sides of this equation…on more than one occasion!

And for a number of reasons, I’m feeling the yuck of that reality this week. I’m feeling frustrated that relationships are a dance between two or more people, and I can only be responsible for me. I’m feeling my fears of being blind-sided by someone’s disappointment or offense – expecting it to happen around every bend. And I’m sitting with the discomfort of knowing I see deeply into things AND have a lot to learn about when and how and to whom to actually talk about what I see. And how to know how confident to even be about what I (think I) see!

Oh, the riches in my mind this week!!

So as a move to tend trust in the midst of my week’s trenches, I’m going to try something I’ve been hearing Goddess Leonie do in her World’s Biggest Summit interviews (if you haven’t signed up for the summit, you still can! I’m slated to give my talk there later this month, but every day there are links to 3 or 4 wonderful videos or audio recordings, delivered to your inbox). I’m going to imagine what my future/highest/wisest self might say to the me of today whose gut is in such knots over when my next offense will occur or the fact that some offenses unquestionably already have.

And here’s what I think she might say (hopefully these can help some of you, too):

  1. Oh honey. Want a hug?
  2. Your tender heart is beautiful and not a sign of weakness, over-sensitivity, or immaturity. It’s a gift you can nourish others with and yourself be nourished by.
  3. Fully honoring your tender heart is a more effective way of containing its fears and woes than is listening to it, constantly, half-heartedly. If you can, listen to its feelings purposefully and with as little judgment as possible. Write these down. Do this daily, until this storm has passed. And where you sense they might be needed, create rituals that honor what needs honoring – the grief, the fear, the desire to put some lifelong pattern to rest. Help your heart feel safe with you, respected, and heard.
  4. Learning when to trust your intuition and what to do in response to it are lifelong endeavors. There’s no rush. You’ll find your flow with time.
  5. Utter confidence in what you know and spot-on social grace in your delivery of it aren’t your highest goals. Love is. Keep your sights there and good things follow.
  6. Whenever and wherever you can, lean into trust – that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to hurt people, it’s okay to be hurt by people, it’s okay if people can’t hear or understand your intent, it’s okay to have blind spots, it’s okay for you and others to have inner land mines and shocking, startling needs, it’s okay for conflicts to remain open-ended indefinitely, it’s okay for you to grieve.
  7. Watch for life’s kindnesses, no matter how small. The way the sun warms you, an unexpected quiet, that there was enough shampoo left for your shower, the kind smile of a stranger. You’ve given your attention to life’s sharp edges lately, and they’ve been plentiful. See what happens when your attention turns toward kindness.
  8. Take a week and forget about your inner world altogether. Instead, focus all your attention on getting more sleep, getting your blood moving for 20 minutes each day, and eating more greens. You will be flabbergasted by the results. This might be the most important item on your list.
  9. Go read this post. No seriously. Go read it and listen all the way to the end of the song. Then play the song again. Hold it close to your heart.
  10. Each day as you awake, and each time your fears flare, pull back until you see a broader view. Imagine yourself pulling up above the forest of your life and seeing what you’re really about – what you’re really here to be and do. Nestling your fears and stresses inside this BIG container makes them seem so much smaller. So not hindrances to you being who you’re here to be.

What do you do when you hurt, disappoint, or offend? How do you navigate broken relationships that you’re helpless to fix? How do you step out of fearful vigilance and into greater trust? I’d very much like to know!

If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed is a great way to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
Submit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

6 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations   |   Tags:   |  

Blurring lines between their hope and mine

October 4, 2011


I don’t know about you, but sometimes our world’s biggest challenges feel less like opportunities to me and more like reason to either weep and gnash my teeth, or turn the other direction completely. La-la-la, can’t HEAR you!

I’ve done both at different times in my life, and while I think there’s a time and a place to grieve deeply, to sit with overwhelm, and to focus our attention only on life’s lovely, beautiful things, I think there’s also a time and place to look squarely at huge challenges – long enough to grow trust in the midst of them.

Huge challenges don’t always mean global ones. They can be within your own being, your own household, or your circle of friends. But huge challenges ARE global, too, and sometimes our personal traumas and despair are healed and tended by a closer look at these broader issues and the hopeful, trust-inducing work people are doing in the face of them.

Today I’m joining a wave of awareness, sweeping across the web, for a trust-kindred organization called Girl Effect. The focus of their work is girls in poverty and the drastically different paths girls’ lives can take depending on their access to education, their ability to choose when to marry, and their freedom from HIV.

If words like “poverty”, “HIV” and “access to education” tend to make you turn away or go numb – both natural, normal responses – chances are your heart is troubled deeply by them. Chances are you don’t know what to do about their implications and/or feel the challenges of your own life so acutely that you see zero psychic or emotional or financial reserves to pour into thoughts about girls in the developing world.

And that’s okay!

But I’ve been thinking about The Girl Effect and wondering whether the hope and transformation that’s generated by it might actually connect with you deeply – connect, actually, with the very deepest fears and wounds that you carry.

What if you watched this video not as a distanced observer, but with an eye for the ways that you are like the 12-year-old girl in it? What if you watched it as a metaphor for the poverty (emotional, relational, financial, parental) and stuck-ness you feel in some area of your life, and the trajectory that would unfold for you naturally were nothing significant to change?

You know that fear, right?

And what if you watched the alternative trajectory the 12-year-old girl takes as one that’s actually open for you? – not necessarily her literal trajectory, but the broader one of possibility, of choices, of passing on strength and trust and hope to those who come after you?

The Girl Effect is not only some distant magic.

It’s also about you.

(If you don’t see the video above, click here to watch.)

If you’re moved by what you’ve seen – for its own sake, or by the ways you see connections with your own life and wishes for hope and opportunity – consider exploring more at girleffect.org.

Giving to this organization or spreading word about it could be a conscious ritual you create to honor your wish for hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges – within your own self, in your life, or in our broader world.

Every act of trust, every ritual we make to say “I choose hope” matters. Every one of them shapes our world.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Bloggers across the world are talking about Girl Effect today. Go here to see what other people are saying. Deep bows and thanks to Tara Sophia Mohr for her work to start and continue this wave.

If you’re new here, welcome! I post articles once each week that explore trust, and how to nurture more of it. Signing up for my rss feed is a great way to get a feel for what happens here. I used to devote each month to a different theme, so if you’re interested in seeing those themes and an annotated page of articles for each one, click here. Again, my warmest welcome!
Submit to StumbleUponDigg ThisShare via email

4 comments   |   Filed in: Meditations, Rituals   |   Tags: ,   |