One of the most dangerous spiritual myths we have inherited is that healing is supposed to 'feel good'.
No. Sometimes our discomfort actually intensifies as darkness emerges into light, as unconscious material makes its way into present awareness, as our old illusions burn up in a fever of healing.
Perhaps our discomfort is not wrong, a mistake, or a sign that we have lost our healing path. Remember, the presence of pain today may actually indicate that our healing process is intensifying, not stalling; that we are actually more awake and sensitive than ever now, less numb, less willing to turn away, more in touch with our sacred vulnerability.
There is such a tendency in our culture to avoid discomfort of any kind, distract ourselves from it, label it as 'wrong' or 'negative' or even ‘unspiritual’, meditate or medicate it away. Much of our Western medicine is geared towards the removal of symptoms, the silencing of disruption, the numbing of chaos and the journey towards some socially acceptable 'normality'.
But sometimes, friends, we no longer have any interest in 'returning to normal'! The 'normal' was the problem, not the solution! The status quo needed to shift. It was unstable and false. Our old conception of reality was keeping us trapped and we needed to break free! Sometimes a deadening and soul-destroying 'normality' needs to shatter into chaos and crisis; our pain and sorrow, frustration, exhaustion, fear and doubts need to be felt more fully than ever before, and the heart needs to break open more completely.
So let the winds blow, let the tempests rage, let all that is false be purified, let all that is dead remain dead, let life explode where you are! You are only being invited now to a deeper healing, friend, even though it feels like you're getting 'worse', even though the heart is tender and raw, even though you cannot yet feel your tomorrows!
“I don't feel like a spiritual teacher. Spiritual teachers - at least the ones I've met - often talk about purification, promise altered states or blissful experiences, claim privileged knowledge of some kind of 'other' reality. They talk about the beyond, energetic shifts, pure awareness and the falling-away of the ego. Dreams, beautiful dreams. They often deny or hide their own humanness, push away their own feelings and pretend to be perfect or enlightened or free from doubt, fear, sadness, and so on, and so on. That feels like an old paradigm now, another escape.
I don't feel like a therapist or a healer either, to be honest. I'm not interested in fixing anyone, giving them answers, and I'm certainly not interested in pathologising their thoughts and feelings, or diagnosing 'conditions'. I just don't see anyone as broken, damaged, unworthy, unhealed in any way. I'm only interested in meeting others, who are not others, beyond their story, in a place of pure presence, which is love, the wild field where healing happens, the place where even the strangest thoughts, the most powerful urges, the most intense feelings, can be allowed to move.
I don't feel like a self-help guru. Call me crazy, but I don't see any separate 'self' that needs helping. I don't wish to dangle the carrot of happiness, or promise 'freedom from...', that fearful kind of freedom that has nothing to do with true freedom, which is the freedom that we are, the wide open space in which every thought, sensation, feeling, is welcomed and even celebrated as an expression of Life Itself.
Friends, there is no need to define yourself, including the definition 'undefined', when you know how damn alive you are, how free your spirit is, how much space there is in your wild silly crazy tender open heart.”
Child, never be ashamed to be yourself! You are wholly original, a unique creation! Nobody walks like you, sings like you, laughs like you, dances like you, plays in the park the way you do. You have a right to your thoughts and a right to your feelings, a right to your desires and a right to your longings. You have a right to your joy and a right to your sorrow. You have a right to your YES and a right to your NO, a right to speak your truth and to walk your path and to be celebrated for that. You have a right to screw up, a right to make a mess, a right to try and fail and try again and make mistakes. Others have the right to feel upset, to disagree, to feel jealous or even angry with you, but they do not have the right to shame you or punish you for being yourself. Know that their abuse is not personal; it's only their own pain, their own unlived potential that they are unable or unwilling to touch. They put you down and reduce you to an object because they are dead inside, and you are so, so alive, in touch with the source of happiness.
Know that your body is perfect, even with its imperfections. Every spot, birthmark, line, crease and hair is perfectly placed, every fold of skin is sacred, and every deformity is no deformity from the perspective of love. There is power in your being yourself, child, in breathing as you breathe, moving as you move, feeling as you feel. There is power in your silence and power in your song. Never lose touch with that power, even if the world wants to make you small and abandon it! Never be ashamed of your power!
You do not have to be a slave to this world. The voices of fear are many but the voice of presence is stronger. Trust yourself. And when you cannot trust yourself, know that your doubt is trustable too. Stay close. And hear my voice whenever you fall into shame and self-doubt. I am always with you, child, closer than breathing. I am your own voice, an inner voice of self-love, a voice that celebrates all of you and reminds you that you have the right to exist, that you are perfect as you are, that you are sacred and loved, in each and every moment.
My voice will never leave you, even when you are very old; you will always be a precious child inside.
“I can’t live without you”. “You complete me”. “Without you I’m nothing”. “Never leave me”.
They sold you a beautiful lie about love.
And in your innocence, you bought the lie, took it as truth. Because everyone around you was doing the same, and you wanted to fit in, and you were so frightened of being alone, since you’d never plunged into the oceanic joy of your own aloneness and found safety there.
Nobody is coming to save you, you see. No prince on horseback. No Juliet. No surrogate mother. No "One Special Person". No messiah who will take away your pain, your feelings of emptiness, that sense of separation and abandonment that’s been with you since you were young. Nobody will be able to feel and metabolise your feelings for you. Nobody can live and die for you. Nobody has the power to permanently distract you. Nobody can own you or be owned.
Your other half, your completion, is not outside of you, you see, but deep within you. It lives as your very own presence, burns like the Sun within.
So many people are looking for love. Or they are trying to hold onto a love that seems to be slipping through their fingers. Or they feel they have lost love, and they are trying to get love back, running from uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal, numbing themselves with more dreams, running further and further from themselves, in pursuit of something they will never reach, still dreaming of their “One Special Person” who will complete them, provide them with a lifetime of psychological security, be the perfect mother or father they never had on Earth.
Of course, that’s not love. That’s fear, an urgent flight from aloneness.
If you can find or lose it, if you can be 'in' it or 'out' of it, if it can be given to you or taken away, if you have to fight for it, beg for it, manipulate yourself or others to get it, if you feel you have to become worthy of it, if it hurts, then it’s the mind’s version of love. It is the lie. For if you love, you are present. That’s it.
If you love someone, you are present with them. As present with them as you are with yourself. As present as the Sun in the sky, despite the clouds, the storms, the ever-changing weather.
Do not confuse love with desire, then. Desire comes and goes. It burns brightly, or the flame extinguishes. But desire is not consistent, like love.
Do not confuse love with attraction. Attraction is beautiful, but it ebbs and flows, rises and falls like the ocean waves. It changes with the seasons, days, hours, moments. It is not ever-present, like love.
Do not confuse love with warm, pleasant feelings, even limerent feelings of being "in love". Pleasurable feelings turn to painful ones so quickly. Love is not pleasure nor pain, it is not ecstasy nor hurt; it is the field that endures, even as the bliss fades into despair.
Do not confuse love with the urgency to possess someone or be possessed. Love is not infatuation. Love is not obsessive nor compulsive. Love does not cling. Love does not own anything; it is weightless, formless. Love does not say “I need you for my happiness, my contentment, my life”. No, love is synonymous with freedom, with a wide open heart, with the willingness to feel every feeling, think every thought.
The most dangerous myth is that another person can ‘make’ you happy. No, no. Happiness, true happiness, the kind of happiness that cannot be bought or sold or neatly packaged, is identical with your own presence, which nobody can give to you, and nobody can take away. If you look to another for happiness, you will always depend on them, always be afraid of losing them, and fear and resentment will rumble underneath your ‘love’. You will adapt yourself to please them, numb your thoughts and feelings, close your eyes to the truth and live in fantasy and hope. You will make yourself unhappy in order to win their love, keep them, control them. You will make yourself unhappy trying to make them happy… or forcing yourself to be happy. That is not love, it is an addiction to a person. It is fear masquerading as ‘romance’. It is the lie.
But underneath every addiction is the longing for home, for Mother in the deepest sense of the word. Find the deepest sense of home within yourself, then. Make your body your home, your breath, your belly as it rises and falls in the present moment. Find your ground in the sense of being alive. And in that place of presence, spend time with others who nourish you, who help you feel alive, who empathise with you and can validate your precious feelings. When you are not trying to win love, when you are not running from your own uncomfortable feelings, you can afford to truly love and be loved.
Invite others into your love field; let them stay, let them leave, bow to their path and walk your own with courage. But do not for a moment buy into the lie that salvation lies anywhere except at the very heart of your exquisite presence, the place where there’s nobody to be saved. The place where you touch life, and are touched in return, moment by moment...
For you are The One, your own greatest lover, partner, friend, guru and Mother.
And so you can say to yourself:
“I can’t live without you”. “You complete me”. “Without you I’m nothing”. “Never leave me”.
To be seen. To be met. To be held in a non-judgmental, warm and alive empathic Field of Understanding.
To be heard. To be understood. By another or by yourself. This is Heaven.
Heaven is not another 'place', but an alive and present Field of Love.
When we were very young, and we were hurting; when our world didn't make sense, and sorrows and doubts flooded us, we cried out for Love.
And then, perhaps, a mature adult sat with us. And listened. And didn't shame us. And gave us space. And let us feel. And didn't interrupt. Didn't advise us. Didn't judge. Didn't project all over us. Didn't change the subject.
They were simply curious about our subjective experience. And trusting. And they listened from the Heart.
And they didn't try to fix us, or analyse us, or tell us how we should change to please them.
They didn't treat us like an object, but as an alive and fascinating subject!
And they held us calmly, looked into our eyes, (as if we were the only thing that mattered to them in the whole world), and they let us know We Were Okay. We Were So Okay.
Then, we could rest. We could surrender to our experience. We could breathe again. Smile again. Feel human again. Trust our bodies again.
We were in Heaven, if only for a moment.
We can touch that same Heaven Now! By bringing that same warmth, that same curiosity, that same non-judgmental attention to our Own Experience.
We can send loving attention deep into our bodies. Drench our experience with Light. Saturate our grief, our anger, our joy and our fears with awareness, which is Love.
So even when alone, our Loved One can be so near.
Even when soothing is nowhere to be found, and we feel like crying out for Love, we can remember this soothing Presence, this closeness to Self, this Deep Friendship, this Heaven on Earth.
This is not depressing when you realise it's the truth.
We are born alone, we die alone. Along the way, perhaps we meet.
Friends, lovers, strangers. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters. The roles can separate us as much as they can bind us.
We long for connection, yet we fear intimacy. We seek contact, but we want to be safe. We push others away by trying to hold onto them. We hide our truth out of fear of loss. Yet we lose each other in the hiding.
We seek solid ground, yet we know that it's all groundless. We plan futures yet we know they are mere daydreams. We long to be free yet we flee the terror of our freedom, seeking comfort and answers.
Our comfort soon turns to boredom. Our boredom to resentment. We suffer until we learn to love ourselves as we are. We seek love until we know it in the silence.
And let the questions burn. And sacrifice tomorrows for todays.
"Instead of trying to escape discomfort, we let discomfort reveal its deeper secrets. We sit with discomfort and watch all boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘discomfort’ melt away, until it is no longer ‘me sitting with my discomfort’ at all, and never was. We sit with frustration in the place where it has not yet coagulated into ‘I am frustrated’. We sit with fear prior to the resurrection of the image ‘I am the one who is afraid’. We sit with anger before the birth of our identity as ‘the angry one’. We know ourselves as the vast open space, the boundless and identity-less ocean that welcomes all of these waves as its beloved children, returned home at last, home at last."
Do not look for love; do not wait for it; do not expect it on-demand. You will always feel incomplete, and the fear of loss of love will rumble under your days.
Love is not a subscription service. Love is not a reward for good behaviour. Love is not something you 'deserve' or do not.
It is your birthright; so find it within your own heart.
When you notice attention going outwards, seeking, striving, manipulating, trying to understand, clinging, holding, stop. Invite attention closer. To the sensations of your feet on the ground, the feel of the weight of your body as it is pulled towards the Earth. To the breath, so dependable, so ancient, rising and falling, rising and falling, like a wave in the vastness of your being.
Invite attention to wash down through the throat, the chest, into the pit of the stomach; let it infiltrate the raw, tingly, fluttery, alive sensations there. Let attention drench your sorrow, your loneliness, that sense of abandonment you’ve been running from. For a moment, provide a sanctuary for these ancient ones, these beautiful fragments of a great puzzle you understood long ago. Let this present scene of the movie of your life be sanctified with attention, with this kindly awareness called love. This is prayer.
I am here. I am here. And it’s okay. Even though it doesn’t feel okay, it’s okay. My sadness is intelligent. My fear is ancient, and sacred, and worthy. My longing burns with life. Even my doubts are my kin. Nothing is wrong here; all is held in love.
Life is so short, yet love is infinite, and bountiful, and ever-present, and closer than the next breath. So not look for love; do not wait for it; do not expect it on-demand. But know it. Know its presence, the intimacy of it. Feel it whispering in your ear...
I breathe with you, my love. Every inhale, every exhale, and the spaces inbetween. When you are on your knees, exhausted by life’s chaos and uncertainty, I kneel with you. When you are exalted, held up high by this fickle world, I rejoice with you. When you feel lost, and you cannot go on, I have already found you. Here. Here, always here. I am so very near. I laugh with you, cry with you, bleed with you; your blood is mine. Your voice is my voice, your silence my silence, and I would go to the ends of the Earth to find you, to fight for you, to bring you home.
You cannot escape love; that is why you cannot grasp it.
And so if I had a prayer, it would already be answered; the prayer and the resolution as One; the gift given long ago.
I sense that the old spirituality is crumbling, the sad patriarchal spirituality that suppressed the feminine, shamed the body and its sensitivity and its sexuality and its deep feeling. Something new is emerging. Or rather, some timeless truth is being rediscovered now. We are perfectly divine in our imperfect humanity. Enlightenment does not eradicate our weirdness, our humour, our vulnerability, it only makes it all so fucking holy.
Let the shaming of our human longings, needs, physicality and sensuality end! Let spirituality be nothing less than a celebration of the wholeness in our utter brokenness. Let us play with the paradoxes! Let our fragility be our power! Let the dogmas collapse under their own weight. Let the moment be the teacher. Let the guru be the birdsong, the morning traffic, the touch of a friend, the tingling in the belly. The dawn and the sunrise. The ocean and the light. Life, life, life.
Let the holy books dissolve into a fresh new moment. Let us bow to the ordinary, prostrate ourselves before it.
"Breaking out of the known can be terrifying, and you may lose what you thought was yours, and your trusted images of yourself may melt in the fire of newness, and you may face fear and trembling, uncertainty and doubt, rejection and even ridicule. You may have to learn the hard way to open yourself up to more pain and life may become more uncomfortable than ever... that is, until you fall in love with the deep comfort of insecurity, and the security of doing what makes life worth living...
You will be swimming in the unknown, but you will be vast and alive. You will feel life running through your veins once again - as it did when you were young and you hadn't yet settled for a life of compromise and clock watching and justifications for your quiet desperation - and you will channel this aliveness back into creation...
Sometimes you will doubt what you are doing, and you may romanticise the old days when things were easier and more predictable, but then you will suddenly remember that the old way was false and never worked for you and that's why everything had to change.
Honour this life that is trying to express itself in and as and through you. You are not nearly as limited as you may have been led to believe by those who have not yet come alive..."