Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

Running Away?

Are You”Running Away from Home”? Are you avoiding uncomfortable situations to stay safe? If you want enlightenment then stop running! (Photo by Laura Corebello)

Have you ever noticed we often want to hide or run away from uncomfortable situations? We often think if we can just avoid pain, disappointments, embarrassments then our lives will be much better and more carefree. We think “if I can just get out of HERE then I will be much happier!”

This reminds me of the times I plotted my escape as a child – believing that by running away from home all of my disappointments and heartbreaking misunderstandings will be resolved. Like this child, I packed up some of my favorite things in a small sack, found a bamboo stick and there I was on my way to a better world. I had imagined perhaps an alien spaceship will come by to pick me up and find me valuable for space exploration. Or better yet a nicer family will pick me up so I could show my parents what terrible mistakes they’ve made by misunderstanding my love. Now looking back we could see how innocent yet reactive it all really was.

As we mature into adulthood our childish tendencies are still deeply ingrained in our bodies. Much of these tendencies to run away have gone unnoticed in our everyday lives before we embarked upon our spiritual journey. Now we can sense someone else wanting to pull away from a hug. Other times we find ourselves running away from a needed confrontation instead we hide behind the computer screen.Sometimes we also become better at denying these tendencies or we make excuses for our behaviors. Sooner or later we find our relationships less attentive as we become more and more isolated.

It does not serve you to run away. Period.

If we are running away from ANYTHING in life, we are running away from life itself. The truth is, when we run away from any situation, we have already given up. We just forfeited the opportunity to even give it a try, to see how we might react, and see what illusions we are still holding onto. Running away = cowardly living = not living at all. To truly live is to live with courage. It takes courage to engage every moment, every breath, every person fully and completely. The tendency is to contract, hide, or run away from the HERE and NOW. That’s ok. Just notice it. It’s perfectly normal to have these tendencies. Just be with the fear and see it for what it is. Yet at the same time we can take another step closer to freedom – and see the fear for what it is NOT.

Many people say “I want enlightenment” but are still using their work or meditations to escape from their lives. Many are not willing to courageously face each moment as it unfolds. When you look into their eyes they are not present. Their body/mind/spirit have contracted to such a level that the life force is having to squeeze through a breath. Sooner or later suffering will occur. When you say “I want to be enlightened, I want to awaken” is to say “I want to live” and “I don’t care how painful or joyful my moments might become, I am willing to see through all of my illusions and become intimate with all spectrums of life.”

The tendencies to escape might still be present every once in a while even after awakening. Luckily after awakening there’s no more judgement. So when the ego tries to reinsert itself into your being-ness, just bring awareness to the present moment outside of the construct of the mind. Always choose communion with the Truth. The key is to notice these tendencies and say “oh, that’s what it is!” This way, by bringing awareness to the the present moment and became fully engaged, the uncomfortableness somehow dissolves itself.

Today I’m working with a injured shoulder and much physical pain. Yet it is becoming more and more clear that even the painful moments are designed to deliver Love. Allow yourself the space to see each moment with clear eyes, with compassion and openness for transformation. Be here. NOW.

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Death & Rebirth, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Finding Inner Stability

walk into the wall

Is your personal will leading you walking into walls? Your inner stability can give you the strength to be flexible and still be who you are.

Monday I was in the flow. Everything was moving so smoothly until…a sword came down abruptly and stopped me in mid-breath. I was traveling in a forbidden direction and someone in authority had to stop me in time before things got out of control. As if I was gasping for air, I had to find a way to take the next breath. Instead of respectfully walk away, I choose to push through. I came head to head and wanted to overthrow his decision…

Needless to say it didn’t work very well in the end. The energy created in conflict was poison enough to kill any bystander hours after.

So what really happened?

On the first layer of things, it seems as if I have a really deep issue following directions from an authority figure. This is true some of the times. I have often stood up to challenge individuals in power – especially when they use it unjustly (in my perception). Ever since I was a child I have always gotten in trouble in school for talking back to teachers. I never backed down when a teacher makes an exaggeration or plainly gives the incorrect answer. At work I kept my boss on his toes and I was relentlessly open to discuss any of his faulty assumptions. In MBA school my behavior was valued and even celebrated. But later in life my natural instinct to challenge individuals in authority has not always worked out in the best interest of the whole.

There is another layer as I looked deeper within. I was emotionally invested in my directions. Abandoning what I started never sat well with me. If I started something I intend to finish it. And I always thought the fastest way from A to B is a straight line. And I have always made plans by following such imaginary lines. Unwavering to my goal is how I show my strength to the external world even when I’m unsure on the inside. This is merely a mirage of the personal will – it too is an illusion. Often times projects are canceled, people move away and things must be redirected. Direction itself is rarely a straight line, the path itself always contains curves and turns.

Now getting to the core of it all, the reason I was even shaken up by the sudden “sword-cut” is because within myself I did not have a strong inner stability. Yes, I was in the flow, yet I was taken by the flow instead of being deeply rooted in my core and dancing with the flow. The reason a willow tree is able to dance in the wind is because of its deeply grounded roots. It does not care if the wind suddenly changes directions, the leaves will happily move with the vibration of the moment. It knows a change in direction of the wind cannot sweep it away. It knows its own flexibility will not allow it to snap. As for me at that moment, I was far from being a willow tree, I was not grounded in my core and I certainly did not have a willingness to be flexible on top of that. So I snapped. I felt as if the ground was being pulled underneath my feet and I could no longer regain my footing.

So how do we look at this incident from an elevated perspective?

“In many ways we’re taught to be in a constant state of friction with, to be in battle with what is. To Tell ourselves–to tell life–that it shouldn’t be the way that it is is a type of insanity. This insanity destabilizes us. It’s a bit like going up to a brick wall, telling it that shouldn’t be there, and then continuing to walk into it. Every time you bump your head on it, you judge the brick wall for being there, and then you walk into it again, again bumping your head. Then you say it shouldn’t be there, at which point you condemn yourself for the pain you have in your head. It’s a kind of insanity to be constantly arguing with what is. It’s a way that we keep bumping into life. When we collide with life in this way, we always feel interior friction, and we can never find the inner stability for which we yearn.”

In order to raise above this level of thinking “open-mindedness allows you to embrace the nature of your experience. And this is when you start to discover a type of inner stillness, an inner stability, that vast unchanging expanses that is at the heart of [who you are]… When we open to life in this way, we begin to find an inner stability simply because we’re no longer at odds with our experience. At any moment we come into an argument with our experience – an argument with life – we can look and see if it actually leads to peace, if it actually makes sense, or if it actually simply leads to discord and conflict. We then begin to find this silence, and we find ground in this silence, which is very stabilizing. There’s a sense of homecoming, a sense of ‘ahhhh, I’m finally in alignment with what’s happening.'”

The above is a very long quote from Falling into Grace by Adyashanti that has helped me to gain a stronger inner stability. It is a wonderful reminder that “it’s not so much that we need to change ourselves, but rather it is our relationship with our experience that needs to shift, where our perception of conflict can naturally fall away on its own. In the end, that’s all spiritual freedom is: a simple seeing of self, of life, as it actually is. All we have to do for that to happen is to begin to see that all of the various ways that we argue with existence, although they may seem very reasonable at times, can only lead to suffering and conflict.”

So what ended happening? He pointed out to me later that I was invested in conflict along with a bag of other observations. Unhappy to hear what could be the truth, I did lots of self-examination and found – I blamed the wall for being there when I could have simply adjusted my direction. In the past I have celebrated the times when an authority figured backed down and yield to my way, but today I have the utter most respect for him and his unyielding character. Because of his inner strength I was able to once again find my inner stability. I am in deep gratitude for him, his sword cut and for the wall.

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Choices, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Only Way Out is Down

Don't see a way out? The only way out is down...toward the CORE

“The Only Way Out is Down.” – Sanctum, by James Cameron

I’m usually draw to action adventures where the hero has to face impossible challenges in order to find the grace of freedom. In this story about cave diving, a group of explorers found themselves trapped in an unexplored cave unable to escape from the way-in due to an unpredictable storm. The entranced was sealed shut and the cave quickly filled up with water. With only limited numbers of SCUBA equipment, they were forced to share breathing devices and dive-down deeper into the unexplored caves – hoping to find a way out…

James Cameron always has a way to bring psychological depth to a seemingly simple story to inspire a viewer’s internal dialog towards one’s spiritual freedom. In a way, in this movie I saw myself.

I often find the path of spirituality consists many dead-ends, not to mention you can never go back through the way you came in. If you were lucky enough to taste the absolute clarity of enlightenment once, you have probably been lured in by an addictive force to seek that clarity again and again – each time falling deeper down into a darker abyss. Like the cave explorers, draw to an invisible force to explore uncharted territories. Spiritual teachers will often tell you the benefits of a spiritual practice in terms of “better health”, “mental clarity”, “inner bliss” and so on, sounding like only positives will come through the journey. But they often omit the best part of the story – encountering the demons along the way.

I’m here to tell you a different story – the hidden dangers await – like Sanctum. If you have not stepped in too deep yet you might want to turn back. If you have lingered a little too long, like me, the way-in has already been sealed shut, so instead of struggling and beating down the way-in thinking it is still the way out (or often in the movies die a painful death), it is now time to find another way out.

The bad news is we will encounter various demons living within the cave of your subconscious mind. Like Caroline Myss suggested in her book Sacred Contracts we must face the demons without running away. We have to see them with loving, non-judgemental eyes and try to understand why they were there in the first place – usually because they have helped us and protected us in the past. Then we must face why our demons not longer serve us and now only hinder our progress – again, without judgement. Only with total honesty we can then move on to a new level of understanding. Each subconscious cave connects to another. Be aware, when you finally find some breathing space in one cave, the storm will rush in and rob you your sanctuary. The only way out is going deeper down again, into the next cave. Darkness will be experienced, so lighting a candle to help you meditate is often a good idea. Demons will come out of nowhere and attack you when you are most vulnerable (trust me, God is good at writing adventure thrillers) and if you put up a fight with your ego, you will lose (just watch the movie, the stubborn egotistical people usually die with painful bitterness), the only way out is DOWN – now courageously head to the next dark cave you go.

Every once in a while you might feel as if all the demons are gone and you got the world wrapped around your finger. If you are lucky, the blissful sanctuary won’t last, you will be forced to dive deeper down again. To be completely honest, recently I’ve been feeling as if I’m so close to become a permanent citizen of heaven, only minutes later a demon strikes again. My old bag of tricks of food and exercise addiction, finding a boyfriend to comfort me, pack up and move away no longer worked now. Interesting enough I no longer have a desire to choose them. As I listen to Adyshanti‘s guidance, I’m learning to trust this natural process of falling – falling into grace without putting up another layer of armor. A few days ago as I cried my eyes out and thought my life was over, somehow as I fell deeper down into the abyss of emptiness, entanglements within me started to untie, I was able to breathe again.

Breathe.

Freedom is near.

Breathe.

Warning: This path is not for the faint of heart. The only way out is down – down into the core.

I will meet you there.

December 24, 2011 Posted by | Choices, Death & Rebirth, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Organic Time

Flo Li's Cosmic Time

Organic Time is not your traditional measurements of linear time, it is nonlinear Cosmic Time - Fractal Art by Flo Li copyright2010 http://www.FloLi.com

I’ve always had difficulties with time ever since I was a child. Someone once told me that I was like Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit who always looked at her pocket watch and ran around like she is already late. When I worked in corporate, I always arrived at meetings at least 5 minutes early. I have hurried my 84 year-old grandmother to walk faster so we won’t be late for lunch. And of course my girl friends would call me the time nazi and they are always scared to death that I might be mad if they arrived late. Even on my spiritual path I often felt like I’m not making enough progress in the time frame I sought for myself. I was not releasing my emotional pain fast enough, I was not ending my patterns of judgment quickly enough, and of course I was not being my 100% authentic self speedy enough. This so called time and doing things quickly enough have been determining how I interacted with others in the world as well as how I added stress to myself. Little by little time became a restriction to my being instead of the intended tool for harmonious social interaction. So now how do I escape this mental jail I’ve created for myself around time?

The concept of organic time came about when I realized that every once in a while, I can make tremendous progress within a short amount of time. For example, I developed a business development plan for Qualcomm’s healthcare department in one workday under the influence of a force called inspiration. I’ve also created beautiful works of art in minutes instead of months. And on the spiritual front, I have also changed deep rooted limiting beliefs that could have taken lifetimes in a hour of meditation. So somehow, the engineer inside of me felt as if something didn’t add up and perhaps this thing called time is indeed nonlinear, non-constant organic time that I have not paid much attention to. And perhaps within the concept of organic time I might be able to break through my boundaries, stop worrying so much about being on time and live a more carefree life towards spiritual freedom.

Artists such as Laurie Simmons featured in the PBS documentary Art in the 21th Century believed the most important thing to her as an artist was to use photography as a tool to capture “a very still quite moment with frozen time.” She was conscious of creating another reality that was “clean and still and quite and beautiful and lots of times de-voided of people because life felt very chaotic.” In a way she too was looking for a moment of clarity amid chaos and have found it within a frozen moment of peaceful stillness.

In his book Flow, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found a place of suspension of time. It can be described as a total and complete absorption within an activity where time stands still. And within Flow that is where happiness, optimal experience and freedom occur. With his initial studies involved a few hundred “experts” in various fields, Csikszentmihalyi noticed a commonality where “…time no longer seems to pass the way it ordinarily does. The objective, external duration we measure with reference to outside events like night and day, or the orderly progression of clocks, is rendered irrelevant…”

According to the 18th century mathematician and philosopher Edmund Husserl’s remarks in his Essays on the Inner Consciousness of Time, time itself “is not measured nor to be measured by any position of the sun, by any clock, by any physical means.” He suggested this experientially determined time is the result of immanent, inner experience of sequence of events at the core of consciousness. He believed that consciousness itself is the deepest and the most fundamental level of reality. Therefore organic time according to our individual experiences is “what is ultimately and truly absolute.” And since time is in the experience and what matters the most is the individual’s experience of time.

Physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity describes space and time where time changes and is relative to its initial frame. Therefore an “universal clock” that fits everyone everywhere and every action can not exist. The famous Twin Paradox illustrates of twin brothers with two life paths as one travels the galaxy and the other stays on earth will someday meet in person and find their dramatic age differences. Einstein realized that time changes and can accelerate or decelerate depending on the relative movement. Physics indicates that perhaps our experience of time can change depending on our frame of mind and the speed of its movement.

In an interesting article called Intellectual History of Time from orientalia.org – a journal site maintained by scholars and academic publishers dedicated to Eastern philosophy also contain the concept of organic time. It is said that “history is not just an ordered set of singular events. It is a subtle underground movement in the minds, materials, and organization of a society.” Within such movements of complex system we call society, time itself must be modified in order to give meaning. Where “by way of the changing tempo and structure of our lives through the passing generations, contorted by inventions, ideas, art, and altogether changing paradigms and philosophies, we have consistently found new ways to remedy time’s obscure procession with our changing modes of measurement and interaction. Our conceived notions of time have developed in accordance with our art, our science, and our social infrastructure.” And “the intellectual history of time is a subtle progression that weaves through the collective experience of generations, as it weaves through each individual’s emotional and intellectual lives.”

What do artists, psychologist, mathematicians, philosophers, physicists, historians and I agree? I think we all agree that time is experiential and organic. I have asked myself if I can be less strict about how I view time. Can I not give a girl friend the evil eye when she arrives late on our shopping date? Can I give myself a break to enjoy a steaming latte without looking at the clock? A moment of java explosion in my mouth could potentially feel like a pleasurable eternity if I just allow myself the freedom to be. I think tomorrow I will allow myself to sleep during the day and work into the night if that fits into my organic time infrastructure. To allow is to be free. Perhaps I am holding the key to my own freedom within the matrix of nonlinear time. And perhaps my freedom is not pin-pointed upon a pre-defined singularity of time but it flows within the ever-changing eddies of nonlinear organic matrix of time.

Can you hear the Rolling Stones singing “time, is on my side…”?

Note: Since this is not an academic paper and I’m only blogging for my own pleasure, I was not strict on my references. However, I did make links to the sites you might find interesting and you can google the rest.

October 24, 2010 Posted by | Choices, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, Self Realization | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments