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Thank you all for your messages of love and support following my recent posts. Do any of you know of a good Lyme disease doctor/clinic in the **UNITED KINGDOM**? Chronic neurological Lyme disease plus dysautonomia (POTS) now 100% confirmed .... (was bitten by infected tick in USA maybe a few years ago while traveling for retreats)... any help or advice or doctors to visit in the UK gratefully received... will read all comments when I have energy and more brain capacity / less foggy and will ask a friend to help me sift through suggestions ❤ Please help if you can. Thank you, JEFF xx ... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago  ·  

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UPDATE: I've quite literally been overwhelmed by all the messages of love and support you've been sending since I sent my 'confession' letter out yesterday. Thank you so much from the very bottom of my heart. ❤️I just received the news that I have tested positive for Lyme. Results indicate that I was bitten by a tick in the USA, perhaps some years ago. Apparently Lyme infection is a known trigger for POTS and would further explain the cognitive issues and awful 'brain fog' I've been enduring for 8 months. Will write more as and when I can. If any of you know a doctor/clinic literate in neurological Lyme (anywhere in the world, pretty desperate at this point!), please do get in touch in comments or PM me. Thank you thank you thank you. Jeff xxx ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago  ·  

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“I WRITE BOOKS ABOUT ACCEPTANCE... BUT I JUST CANNOT ACCEPT THIS”A CONFESSION - by Jeff Foster Dear Friends, Once again, I am writing to thank you for your deeply compassionate messages and emails of love and support. Even if I cannot reply personally to all of you right now, as my energy is so limited, please know that I do read every message and so deeply appreciate your extraordinary kindness. And once again, to those of you who have sent donations, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I never truly knew how many of you cared so deeply about me and my well-being on such a personal level. I am sending so much love to every single one of you. Thank you for allowing me into your life. 😭❤️ And my sincere apologies for any spelling mistakes or other errors in this letter. My attention, focus and editing skills are not as sharp as they used to be! * I am in a strange place right now, friends.It’s hitting me hard: I am physically and cognitively disabled.At least for now. At least for... a while. Maybe for the rest of my life. Nobody can say. Nobody. I am living in the Unknown. We all are, truth be told. Compared to where I was last year, and every year before that, it’s a shock each day to find myself like this. It’s been utterly devastating – DEVASTATING - to lose certain physical and cognitive functions and abilities seemingly overnight, with no promise they will ever return, or at least fully return to what they were before.I am in a strange place, friends, somewhere between a vague hope and utter, near-unbearable devastation.(Again, I don’t want this to be all about “me”. So many people around the world are suffering right now, far more deeply than I. But I do think that by sharing my own struggle, opening up about my own present health challenge, there may be some transmission of truth into the collective. I’m sure many of you can relate, in your own way…) Do I turn towards where I am, and face the fact of my disability, my present limitations as a body-mind? Face the devastation and part decimation of the old life, the old plans, the old health, the old cognitive function, the old livelihood, fully grieve what I have lost, and grieve what I have yet to lose? Can I even know what I have "yet to lose"? Can we ever know? What am I grieving, exactly? Can I mourn a lost unknown future? Can I sink into my tears, fully let in the loss and the ruin and the yearning, let it all break me open, and give up all hope of tomorrow? Is hope real, or based in fantasy?Do I keep striving, fighting, hoping, waiting for healing, for some cure, for the ‘answer’, for some magic healing potion?Do I accept where I am today, or do I hold to hope of improvement, even remission, tomorrow, when the remission rate for this condition is statistically so low, and when nobody on Earth can promise me that?Will I be one of the lucky ones? Can I somehow control the fates, manifest a wanted outcome?Should I ignore all the objective “facts” of this condition, and just believe?Or is it all ultimately in the hands of the gods, no matter what I do?These questions are as old as the mind itself, as old as thought. Acceptance of “the way it is”, or hope for “how it could be”?Of course, in reality, these two energies can co-exist.And we can hold this primal paradox - of accepting where we are right here right now, discomfort and pain and limitations and heartbreak and all, whilst at the same time, imagining a better, brighter future, and doing all we can to work towards that. Deep acceptance and profound change do not contradict each other, they are reflections of each other, lovers, very old friends. Our divinity and our humanity are One. Imperfect and perfect, broken and whole. Resting in the ache, leaning into the ache, bowing to the ache, while not giving up on the healing. At least not completely. At least not now. At least not today. Holding these twin energies as our two beloved children. Not children that oppose each other’s existence, but children that are equally loved and welcome in our wide open arms. Having said all this, it’s not easy. Some days I just want the discomfort to end. It feels edgy to admit this publicly, being a “spiritual teacher” and all (whatever the hell that means), but yeah, some days I just want it all to end, the suffering, the discomfort, the brain fog. Does that make me a coward, to long for relief in the midst of discomfort and loss? I don’t think so. It makes me human.I have written books on deep rest, acceptance, loving the present moment, fully embracing life’s devastations.I have written poetry and perhaps thousands of Facebook posts over the years to remind you that you were never broken, to help you remember the joy of “falling in love with where you are”.I have taught countless retreats and workshops around the world inviting people to deeply inquire into their present experience, to bring loving awareness to pockets of resistance, to get in touch with deeply held-in feelings, to grieve, to let go of the ‘shoulds’ of life, to expose and melt hidden shame, to surrender to what is. And I humbly admit, I am failing right now to accept my condition. I feel broken. I am not in love with where I am. I cannot “rest” with this shattering new reality.But.... Maybe there is grace in this failure. Maybe there is a deeper self-love that allows us to be utterly imperfect, a hot mess on life’s cross, and true “success" is really this kind of self-love.The love that never lets you fail, no matter how low you sink, for the lowest is the highest in this love, and the weakest are the strongest.The love that loves you, even in the pit and the darkness and the unspeakable hell realms.The love that holds you as you take your last breath, as it held you while you gasped for your first. When I’m panting, sweating, out of breath, dizzy, dissociated, having to sit down after walking only five minutes to the grocery store. When the “brain fog” is so bad (as I shared in my last email, I have a complex and multi-system medical syndrome called POTS, a form of autonomic dysfunction where not enough blood and therefore oxygen reaches the brain…) that I can hardly string a sentence together, or remember my friend’s name, or find my way home from that grocery store, or finish a single string of thoughts in my head, or remember what I’m doing, or why, or where, or how, or…. When all sense of time disappears, and the outside world disappears, and I’m lost in what feels like a bad drug trip all day, dementia-like and “timeless” (but not in the liberating spiritual way, more like in a terrifying dissociated way). When I have a beautiful, passionate, honest conversation with a dear friend on the phone… and then crash energetically for hours - or days - afterwards because I expended too much energy, just talking and listening. When all this is going on... it's just really, really hard. (God, at least I can still write. Even if it takes me a few days to write a piece that would have previously taken just a few hours...) As Awareness I am unlimited. We all are. But as a physical body and mind, I am more limited than ever now, and it’s utterly shattering.This is not how I expected my life to be, at 40 years of age. After four decades of basically good health, and after some of the very happiest years of my life in the last few years, and with so many wonderful things I was looking forward to, so many things left to do, books to write, retreats to lead, creative projects to explore, friends to share precious moments with, to have my physical body crash like this, with no doctor or therapist or healer so far able to give me a prognosis or remedy any of the symptoms - to live like this each day is utterly devastating.I am still in shock, if truth be told.I never saw this coming.“How was I to know? How are we ever to know?”. (My favourite line from one of my favourite Sondheim musicals, ‘Into The Woods’.)Ugh, I was so naïve, bless my heart. I thought these kinds of illnesses happen to other people.I thought I was immune, because I had done so much work on myself, or because I had healed so many of my childhood wounds, or because I felt so relaxed and alive so much of the time, or because I experienced so little stress in my life, or because, well, I was “really really spiritual” or something like that.The arrogance. The hubris. The audacity. The privilege. The innocence, too.All of it. Just… all of it. Some days I feel I just cannot accept what’s happening to me. It all feels like a bad dream, like I’m living the wrong life, like something’s gone awry, like this shouldn’t be happening. Of course, deep down, I know, there is no “wrong” life, and there is only LIFE, and this is the way it is, and there is no “should”, and I am not to blame, and none of us are to blame, ever. This illness was not of my choosing. And I did nothing to “deserve” this, and it is no punishment, and there is no sin. I know that, deep down in my bones. Sometimes we just get sick and it comes out of nowhere and it makes no damn sense and that's just the way it is, like it or not, accept it or not, trust it or not. Our lives are shattered. Our children die. Our loved ones leave us. Our careers come to an abrupt end. We lose our money, our status, our livelihood, our physical abilities. Cars and planes crash. Tsunamis destroy entire villages, cities. Meteors, comets, asteroids crash into Earth, wiping out entire species, perhaps all species in one day. Our wonderful plans and philosophies crumble to dust. Great leaders fall from their thrones. The ground opens up and swallows cars, entire roads, buildings. Triumph and tragedy are so damn close, the veil between life and death is so thin. Sometimes the reality of the chaos of the relative world, and our ultimate lack of ability to control it, just smacks us in the face. Crisis shakes us awake from our dream of “things going so well”. Unwanted pain pushes us to the edge of our capacities. And we are utterly confounded, dumbfounded, unable to find any kind of reason for this sudden change, tragedy and loss.“Why me?!”, we cry. And our cry fades into the vast silence and maybe there is an answer there in the echo and perhaps it’s possible to hold it all. Yes, all of it. The hope and the hopelessness. The known and the unknown. The pain and the longing. The ache and the wish for the end. The problem and the prayer for renewal.Perhaps it’s possible to hold all of life in our tender hearts.At least for a moment.At least for the duration of the next… precious… breath. And so, I keep going. I keep grieving the old life, the old capacities, the things I used to love doing that I just cannot do anymore. (Anymore? For now? For ever? For weeks, months, years? I do not know, and who can say for sure.)For now, I have moments where I can be with ‘what is’, and moments where I want it all to go away.Moments of “Namaste”. Moments of “F**k This Sh*t”.Moments where I’m a Buddha. Moments where I’m a mini-Hitler to myself.Moments that I never expected, anyway.Moments of a life being lived, moment by moment. I wanted to share this with all of you. Not to ask for pity, but to be raw and honest and authentic about what I’m going through, as I’m going through it. I feel that you deserve nothing less from me now than the raw truth. I do not want to hide what I'm going through. And I want to further shatter the image of the perfectly calm, deeply accepting spiritual teacher (I have never met any, by the way). The one who never suffers. The one who isn’t touched by worldly things and takes everything in their stride. The one who has transcended the relative world.No, I asked to be deeply touched by this world, but I never imagined it would touch me so deeply, in this particular way.I have worked through much suffering and unravelled much trauma in my life, been willing to move through many profoundly difficult feeling states, had so many breakdowns and ecstatic breakthroughs, healing crises and joyous awakenings, been able to hold so much life, but this… this is something else.I wanted to share all of these reflections in the hope that some of you will be able to relate, that some of my words will bring comfort or healing or warmth or courage to you out there. That you’ll be reminded that you’re not alone in your pain and confusion and heartache, and that many of your brothers and sisters are going through a shattering of their own right this very moment. The shattering will come to us all in the end; none of us are spared, no matter how ‘awakened’ or ‘healed’ we imagine ourselves to be. I pray to great and Mysterious forces that we all come through these times, humbled, stronger.And, if I’m honest… I sincerely hope that I myself can make it through this particular challenge.Sometimes I wonder if I have the courage or the strength to keep going through this bodily discomfort, these shattering new physical limitations and the disorienting cognitive fog this condition brings - the confusion, the problems with planning, focus, attention, short-term memory loss. I question my own ability to face this kind of devastation at this point in my life.I know I am not as courageous as some of you.I do not know what lies ahead on the road of my life.How are we ever to know. Does all this make me a ‘fraud’? A failed spiritual teacher?Maybe. Maybe not.I don’t suppose it matters at all. Maybe it does make me more human, more rooted in the blood and the mud and the flesh and the ache of mortal, worldly existence, and that is far more precious, and real, than any other prize… even if I fail this test (and there is no failure in love, and no test, anyway.) Yes, this is no test and so I - we - cannot fail. I am holding you all in my heart, you who find yourselves in this same strange place as I.Now, say it with me:“Namaste. F**k this sh*t!” Jeff xxxUPDATE:I've quite literally been overwhelmed by all the messages of love and support you've been sending since I sent my 'confession' letter out yesterday. Thank you so much from the very bottom of my heart. ❤️I just received the news that I have tested positive for Lyme. Results indicate that I was bitten by a tick in the USA, perhaps some years ago. Apparently Lyme infection is a known trigger for POTS and would further explain the cognitive issues and awful 'brain fog' I've been enduring for 8 months. Will write more as and when I can. If any of you know a doctor/clinic literate in neurological Lyme (anywhere in the world, pretty desperate at this point!), please do get in touch in comments or PM me. Thank you thank you thank you. Jeff xxx ... See MoreSee Less

2 weeks ago  ·  

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WE WILL MEET AGAINI see you through the plane window as we descend. You have exploded into colour.We met as the camps were liberated, didn’t we, in the rubble and the ash and the bone we met, we had lost everything but we had found each other, I saw your lioness heart and it pulled me in. You stamped my ticket at a vaudeville show. An awkward moment of small talk, we could barely keep eye contact through the discomfort. Creation and destruction in your eyes. I looked for you afterwards but you were gone. We followed Moses to the promised land. We had faith then. Great seas parted, unspeakable miracles. We built a family on new earth, raised our children. Bright eyed, seventeen years of age, hope aflame, we marched off to war together and we never came home. We had wanted to save the world. I imagine our parents waiting there at the station, breathless, red-eyed, scanning all the young faces. Perhaps they wait for us still. I moistened your lips in a hospital room one evening. You were dying, the cancer was slowly eating away at your lungs. I recited Bible verse and you squeezed my hand. “Bind me as a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death.”Two thousand years later, a colony on Mars. I see you here in the dirt and the rock and the sunrise.I have seen you in a million places.I have met you in a million forms.You were there at the formation of our solar system, you whispered to me something about love everlasting and then you fell from my grasp and everything turned to fire.All the myths were always pointing to you. All the stories I told my children as they grew.“Tell us that one again, Daddy. The one about the sweet friends who kept meeting.”“Okay,” I say. “Okay.”We have been male and female, vegetable and stone, formless and form, the swallow and the eagle, the snake and the gazelle, fantastic creatures of the deep. We have been crucified, whipped, tied to posts and burnt, draped in gold and silver jewels and lauded by the world and derided in turn. We have faced the firing squad together, our bodies pressed close one last time, flesh to flesh as we became vessels for spirit.You have been my brother, my sister, my child. I have mothered you from infancy, and you have mothered me in return. We have been lovers and friends, we have recognised each other in countless disguises, here on the same side and there on different sides. And in the end there were no sides at all, only this magnificent Loop, this One Circle - majestic, resplendent, regal, unbroken through time, utterly mysterious, and towering over all things. These pages are wet with tears now, thinking of you, remembering your many faces, the ink is running, the words are fading, I will lose this poem if I do not stop writing. No matter. You are in me, and I in you. We will meet again.- Jeff Foster ... See MoreSee Less

3 weeks ago  ·  

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THE RELIEF OF BEING BELIEVED: ON SPIRITUAL, MEDICAL AND THERAPEUTIC GASLIGHTINGby Jeff Foster "Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person… you have every right to remove them from your life.Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."- Tim Lawrence (“Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason”) * I love these wise words from Tim Lawrence, and the beautiful quote from Megan Devine at the end:"Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."I want to say a little about what it means to be supported through tragedy. When we are sick, injured, in pain, experiencing a shattering of the old life, we can feel very vulnerable, powerless, and we long for answers, solutions. In our desperation, we can be drawn to confident, self-assured people – doctors, masters, healers, therapists, gurus - who seem like they have the cures, answers, fixes, solutions, remedies and magic potions. It can feel like a matter of life and death for us sometimes, this search for relief, for a way to get through the day… or even for just for a moment’s respite from bodily agony. In such a weakened, defenceless, groundless, frightened state, we can become easy targets for others trying to push their beliefs, theories and dogmas onto us. “Gaslighting”, simply put, is when a person, or a cult-like group of people, manipulates you into deeply doubting your own reality, questioning your own first-hand perceptions and experiences and memories and feelings, distrusting the things you know in your very gut. In the presence of such manipulation, you become confused about your own deepest beliefs, and begin to doubt your own inner compass. You feel dizzy, dazed, groundless, lost and alone. Gaslighters do this – consciously or not - in order to destabilise you and have control over you, and ultimately make you dependent on them. They play the guru to your disciple, the powerful “One Who Knows” to your ignorant child, the Wizard of Oz to your Dorothy. They do this in order to run from their own pain, fear, shame… and lack of answers. Family members may not believe us when we tell them that we have pains and aches in the body, or uncomfortable or frightening sensations, or that we are feeling fatigued or unwell. They may try to convince us that we are just lazy, or looking for attention, or being manipulative, or self-centred.“You're not really in pain, it's all in your head! You're so selfish! Why don’t you think about MY pain for once in your life!”Spiritual teachers may tell us that we have “created” our own sickness, manifested our own cancer, brought our own heart or lung or kidney condition, infection, sickness into being through our unconsciousness. They may proclaim that our pain or misfortune isn’t real, it’s just our fearful ego looking for validation, it’s just our closed heart and our resistance to life manifesting in the body, it’s just an illusion. And if we can just surrender, if we can just “kill the ego” or “rest as Pure Awareness”, or meditate deeply enough, or let go of the body enough, we will be well again. “Fully awakened beings never get sick!”Others – healers, therapists, friends, family, often well-meaning and well-intentioned, although not always - may tell us that we are sick simply because we are emotionally repressed, or that our “illness”, which isn’t really an “illness”, is a good thing, a wonderful thing, destined to happen, and it’s all just a manifestation of our unprocessed trauma or unlived life, and when we get in touch with our buried childhood or pre-childhood feelings, and finally face our core issues, all our symptoms will magically disappear. “You’re sick because of your unresolved childhood trauma. It’s your toxic relationship with your mother… you need to get in touch with your rage towards her right now!”“Your sickness is a test from the Universe! Embrace it! It’s a wonderful part of your healing journey!”Such simplistic ideas are compelling.And... I don’t doubt that getting in touch with and expressing repressed emotions and finding the meaning in our suffering and softening into our pain can be a huge part of the healing process for some.Religious people might tell us that our illness is some kind of punishment from God, or that we are experiencing the effects of karma, or that we have sinned in a previous life, and so we “deserve” this tragedy in our lives somehow. Medical doctors, too, might diagnose us with certain diseases, physical or psychological conditions, and give us their prognosis, and tell us that that their view is the objective, unquestionable, unshakeable truth. (And I am not against Western medicine at all). The point is, what is YOUR truth?Whose path do YOU follow?Who has the answers for YOU?There are so many lenses through which to view the body and its aches and pains and imbalances and limitations. There are so many people offering so many perspectives, especially these days. The mind-body connection is truly mysterious, no doubt. But the truth is… nobody really knows the truth! At least, for you. Nobody really knows your deepest truth. You may see a top doctor in London or New York, and they may diagnose you with a certain “disease”… and they may end up being wrong. You may see a trauma specialist who is utterly convinced that your cancer or fatigue or depression or chronic pain has trauma or repressed emotion as its absolute root cause… but they may end up being misguided, wrong, off the mark, reductive in their certainty. You may see a spiritual teacher who just “knows” that your disease is a wonderful gift from the universe, or a “sign” that your body is ready for the next level of enlightenment or the next stage of spiritual evolution… and that may end up being completely, utterly false. The point is, everyone you speak to is going to have a different perspective on what’s happening in YOUR body and mind. The honest ones will own their own perspective, humbly offer what’s been helpful to them, but admit that ultimately they do not know for sure what the right path is for you. They will own their own projections. They will give you your authority and sovereignty and freedom, and acknowledge that you are in a vulnerable state, frightened and seeking answers. They will not take advantage of you in that tender place. They will honour your ache and your path. They will not speak for you. They will listen, deeply, to you. They will hold you in Presence. They will grieve with you, weep with you, rage to the heavens with you. They will not invalidate your yearning. You will feel loved, and believed, and understood, and safe, and your nervous system will sense this safety, it is programmed to do this. The unconscious ones, unfortunately, will force their perspective on you, will claim to know the absolute truth, and will make you feel bad or wrong or guilty or stupid for not believing, not signing up to their cult, not seeing them as the authority. By denying your reality, contradicting you and even themselves at times, throwing in false and half-true information, and minimising or downright ignoring your feelings and perspectives and memories and “symptoms”, they’ll gradually make you question and doubt your emotional, spiritual and physical reality and truth and even your sanity… until you are utterly reliant on them, under their spell, a disciple to their guru, a powerless “patient”, willing to do and be and believe anything they say, repressing your own grief and rage and truth. In your total innocence, you have given your power away. Medical doctors can be cult leaders. Spiritual teachers can be cult leaders. Psychotherapists, trauma specialists, healers, life coaches, friends and family members can be cult leaders, without ever realising it. When it comes to the mysteries of the bodymind, nobody really knows what’s best… for YOU.As Nietzche said, no matter how “right” we think we are, we are all imperfect, and “human, all too human…”When you’re being gaslit, you’ll most likely feel like you’re going crazy. You’ll feel unsafe, unstable, groundless, dizzy, like you don’t know what to believe anymore, like your whole life was a lie, like you can’t trust your own deepest intuition or senses anymore. You’ll wonder if anything you saw or felt or heard or thought or perceived was real. But you aren’t crazy. You’ve just silenced the roar in your guts, the part that knows, and let someone else’s projections become your reality.(Part of you wants to believe that someone else has the truth. Of course! You want to get better. You want to heal. You want to stay safe. You are so innocent. No blame here. Bless our innocent hearts!) I’m not telling you to distrust everyone, or suggesting that everyone is out to manipulate you or drive you crazy. I’m not saying that some people don’t have answers for you, or at least, helpful teachings, therapies, medications, treatments, insights, and so on. I’m not saying there is no hope for you, and I’m not telling you not to pursue every modality of healing that you’re called to pursue. I’m not saying that miracles don’t happen every single day. I’m not even saying that one day, with time and integration, you won’t begin to find your own deep meaning, and even perspective and purpose, in your current tragedy. I’m just reminding you to stay true to yourself now. Trust your own deepest experience, even if it’s painful. I’m reminding you to listen to your guts, every step of the way, even if you are weak, tired, full of grief and exhausted from the journey. To listen… as if your life depends on it, because it does. Even if you are made to feel wrong or naïve or crazy for doing so. Even if they laugh at you and mock you when you follow your own path. Even if you have to step away from false hopes and promises of Utopia and perfect health, and plunge more deeply into the Dark and Wild Unknown. Illness is not weakness.Suffering is not shameful or a sign of failure. As the great Greek playwrights knew, tragedy and misfortune, sickness and pain, can befall anyone, at any time.None of us are immune, none of us are protected from “the will of the gods”, and our hubris will be crushed in the end. The ego has no hope of controlling the chaos of relative existence. Sometimes there are no easy answers. None. Sometimes nothing makes sense anymore. Sometimes we just have to grieve. And rage at the heavens.And face the future, bravely, without answers. Trust your gut, your intuition, your knowing, your deep heart, my friends – these are the Inner Lights that cannot die. "Survival in grief, even eventually building a new life alongside grief, comes with the willingness to bear witness, both to yourself and to the others who find themselves inside this life they didn’t see coming." - Megan DevineWith love,Jeff x ... See MoreSee Less

4 weeks ago  ·  

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"𝐈 𝐖𝐀𝐒𝐍’𝐓 𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐏𝐀𝐑𝐄𝐃 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐈𝐒...”An update, 5th April 2021.Dear Friends,I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the overflowing love and support you’ve shown me these last months since I announced I was taking time off to focus on my health. Your messages, your emails, your poetry, your artwork, your heartfelt words of encouragement and support have truly touched me. And again, to those of you who have sent donations, I just feel so deeply grateful, moved and honoured that you would help me out at this challenging time in my life. I know many of you are going through hard times at the moment, so it makes me feel even more thankful, and humbled, to feel your care.😭😭As promised, I want to update you about where I am, and share some of the realisations, experiences, struggles and insights I’ve been having, as I move through the heart of this health challenge. I know I’m not the only one on the planet suffering right now. I don’t want this message to be all about “me”. But hopefully, through sharing my experience, I can be of some benefit to you all. That has always been my wish – to inspire and encourage through sharing lived experience. “IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD” - TO BE SICK AND TO BE BELIEVEDI know so many of you out there have struggled – or are currently struggling – with health conditions, both acute and chronic. As I’ve spoken with you over the years in meetings and retreats, you’ve shared with me your tender, inquisitive hearts, the places in you that ache, your longings, your yearning for the light, for love. You’ve shared with me the shock, the sense of disorientation, the frustration, anger, grief and feelings of despair that come with illness. You’ve shared with me your sense of loss and the challenges of daily physical pain.Sometimes what makes things so much worse, is the loneliness of illness. The sense of “missing out” on life, being disconnected from community. The sense that your body has somehow failed you, or that you did something wrong, or that you ‘deserve’ to be ill in some way. That you have failed in some way, as a human being, as a spiritual seeker, as a student, as a child of God.The shame. The guilt. The sense of failure that’s tied up with the story of “being sick”. These things can be hard to bear, too.On top of all this, we are called to deal with other people’s reactions, opinions, judgements and advice. Their empathy and understanding for us... or their lack of it.Don’t forget, people can only offer us love and understanding to the extent that they can offer it to themselves.Not everyone is going to be able to meet us in our deepest, most painful, experience.Some true friends and supporters – including doctors and healers, from both conventional and alternative approaches - are truly able to meet us where we are. They validate our feelings and our symptoms. They cry with us. They believe us. They stick around when we are a mess. They validate our pain and don’t make empty promises. Around people like this, we don’t feel crazy. We feel seen, heard, validated. Our suffering is real. Our ache is valid to them. They meet us where we are. They don’t dismiss us. They know when to offer advice and help, when to pull back and just listen, and when to take our hand and lead us when we cannot lead ourselves.When we feel understood, seen, valid, safe in such a presence, we relax, and we open.Other times we encounter people – doctors, healers, friends, even close family members – who are not able to meet us, not able to validate our experience, and we are left feeling worse when we encounter them, more crazy, even more sick. They may tell us things like, “it’s all in your head”, or “you are ill because you want to be ill”.... or tell us that we “manifested” our illness, or our “egoic resistance to life” created it.... or they may diagnose us with an anxiety disorder or mental illness when we KNOW there’s something physically wrong with us, or misdiagnose a physical disorder when we KNOW we really need help with our emotional life. They may offer us quick fixes and solutions, (which are not really quick fixes, or solutions) then shame or blame us, or even bully us, for not trying “their” way, the “right” way. Family members and friends may not believe the actual diagnosis we were given, or they may try to force their own diagnosis upon us. Others may move towards us, or move away, when they find our we aren’t what they thought we were.Everyone is dealing with their own trauma, their own disappointments, their own pain, their own fear of death and change and mortality.We are called to stay true to ourselves. To follow our gut, our intuition, to listen to that quiet voice in our deepest heart that knows what’s right in the face of the advice, the judgements, and the gaslighting.Not “what’s right” in absolute terms. Not “what’s right” for everyone.But what’s right for us. Today. A JOURNEY INTO PROFOUND UNCERTAINTYIt’s been humbling, the last few months. It truly has. I’ve been trying to navigate through the hundreds of perspectives people (all of them well-meaning, I believe) have been offering me.Over the last months I’ve spoken to many doctors, healers, therapists and well-meaning others, and every single one of them seemed pretty certain about what is going on in my system! One healer told me that my body was experiencing the Fall of Atlantis (for the third time, no less), and that event would explain all my symptoms. One doctor told me that what I have is “unfortunately incurable” and I will be “very disabled” for the rest of my life. One therapist told me that the symptoms I’m experiencing are caused at the root by unresolved birth trauma, and once I have truly met my abandoned child, “all my symptoms will disappear”. One energy worker told me that I just needed to rest, and be still, and my symptoms would subside on their own. (I have been inviting people to rest for years, and meet their deepest feelings, and to lean into the present moment, but I have never, ever made such promises, or promised quick fixes or panaceas, and I would never do that. I find it cruel to make such promises).I don’t have a fixed position about all this. There is no doubt that body and mind are intimately connected, and repressed emotion and unhealed trauma contribute, at least in part, to the disease process, though suppression of the immune system, in ways that modern science is only beginning to understand. There is no doubt that some people are helped by “Fall of Atlantis” healers. There is no doubt that for some people, symptoms subside after ingesting certain chemicals or plant substances, or doing certain healing and trauma work, or experiencing love or the placebo effect, or just resting and letting their body heal on its own, with no intervention at all. But… there is also no doubt that what works for someone else may not work for you.All I’m saying is, stay close to your discernment. This is what I’m learning. The path of healing is mysterious and may (or inevitably will) take you to places you never thought you would go. There is a deep knowing in you. Deep down, your body knows if someone is safe, your very nervous system knows if something they are saying is deeply true for you, or not. Your body knows whether this is your path or not. You are not necessarily “in resistance” if you say no. And you are not crazy for saying yes to a treatment option that feels right for you.Healing is a messy business, full of ups and downs, wrong turns and dead ends, days of hope and days when hope seems a million miles away. In time, you will find people – healers, therapists, friends, even strangers – who can truly hold you, and, most importantly, believe you, listen to you, as you heal, or at least, as you take the next steps on your courageous path. You will find a community of people who know, very deeply, what you are going through. And maybe you will learn to lean in, just a little bit, to the great Uncertainty of it all… WHAT ILLNESS TEACHES USAll of us will suffer ill-health at some point in our lives, perhaps become disabled, and all of us will die, at least in this form. This is a fact of life that we must never turn away from, if we are to be truly human, which is also truly Divine. If we turn from death, we turn from life. If we turn from suffering, we close our hearts and disconnect from the vastness and Mystery of the Universe.Through contemplating death, the strangeness of our own mortality and the fragile mortality of those we love, we may realise the utter holiness and preciousness of this life. We may stop taking our days for granted. We may stop assuming that we are in control of everything. We may awaken to the sacredness of existence itself. I have written and talked extensively about death and pain over the years, but through this experience, through this crisis, life is bringing me even closer, and closer still to my own fragilty, vulnerability, and ultimately, mortality.It strikes me that illness is a form of death. It’s not what comes before death. It is a death in itself, and preparation and practice for dying. It is the collapse of our dream of “perfect health”, our dream of tomorrow, such happy and care-free dreams! It is the disintegration of some hope of how our future was going to turn out – our plans, what we wanted, where we were going, what we would be capable of as we aged, how we were going to live. It is – if we can work with it this way – the death of our old beliefs, opinions, dogmas, of how life is “supposed” to be, of how we “should” feel and look, think and talk, even walk or breathe. It is the death of unconscious habits, an opportunity to really slow down and take stock. Illness shatters our fantasies and forces us to look at ourselves, penetratingly, honestly, look at the ways in which we abandon ourselves, in which we hide from life, in which we run away from the unwanted in ourselves and others, in which we shame ourselves and beat ourselves up and mock ourselves and dishonour ourselves, perhaps the way we were mocked or shamed when we were innocent children. We can begin to see the ways in which we push ourselves too hard or don’t push ourselves hard enough, make ourselves wrong for being “less than” what we could be; the ways in which we turn away from the present moment itself, the ways in which we distract ourselves from discomfort.Illness is a wrathful, penetrating, but ultimately compassionate teacher, a teacher we perhaps never expected or asked for. We can fight and rebel against our present reality. We can protest and scream out to the heavens, “This is unfair! Why did this have to happen to ME?”. We can deny what’s happening, rationalise it, distract ourselves from it. But at some point, maybe, we come, exhausted, to a place of surrender. We are called to stare our illness in the face. And let all our outdated dreams crumble, dreams of how our life was “going to be”. We face “what is”. No separation any longer. We take a brave step into the groundless place...And perhaps there we start actually listening to the body and its aches and pains and yearnings, listening to the discomfort itself and asking it, “What have you come to reveal to me? Do you have guidance or wisdom or anything to show me? What happens if you stay with me for days, weeks, years? What happens if I never get “better”? What then? Can I open to that possibility, that devastation?”“What happens if… I can just be here, now. Today. What happens if I can just live this day…?”This is a place of utter humility. We are on our knees before life. We find ourselves not in control. (Were we ever in control?). We prostrate ourselves before the Unknown. We bow to all that is “Out of Our Hands”. And maybe, just maybe, in that place of death, death of the old life and the old dreams and the ego’s certainty and domination over life, something new, something creative and unexpected can grow. From the ashes of the old reality, we can perhaps start to appreciate the little things in this new reality, come closer to the ebb and flow of the living day: the taste of tea, the feeling of the morning breeze on our face, the way our shoulders or feet or hands feel right now. The fact that we have been given another 24 hours on this precious Earth. To accept what is… or to run away. To feel… or to not feel anything at all. To notice… or not notice what we notice or do not. To withdraw from life or to expand into it. To be kind to ourselves, or to realise that we are not being kind to ourselves at all. To lean a little into the ache of Now, to notice a brief respite from pain. To feel ourselves recoiling from pain, in resistance to tightness, which is so, so natural.To have courage or to have no courage at all today.Don’t be hard on yourself, my friend. It’s not easy. It’s really not.This is what I am discovering. When the physical health one took for granted falls away so quickly, it is not easy.This is humbling, and after all these years of meditation, resting in awareness, meeting my deepest feelings, learning into the aching places, I was not prepared for this.How can we ever be truly “prepared”?Let yourself fail, let yourself fall, my friend, let yourself get caught up in the story. Let yourself want to be somewhere else, someone else, ANYWHERE ELSE BUT HERE. Let yourself be exactly what you are, where you are, how you are. Human. Imperfect. Fallible. Fragile. Hurting. Afraid. Utterly loveable, yet sometimes feeling utterly unlovable. Facing the unwanted. Sometimes unable to face the unwanted. Sometimes longing for the end.Let yourself break today, on the altar of life itself. “I WASN’T PREPARED FOR THIS…”Yes, even after all these years of practising (and teaching) presence, acceptance, mindfulness, allowing feelings, “being with what is”, it’s just not easy, when the body is so darn uncomfortable, when the system is so foggy and achingly tired, when you are dizzy and shaky and out of breath, when the old dreams have shattered, when the life you knew has changed so profoundly and so fast. Yes, perhaps we can never be truly “ready” for life and what it throws at us. We thought we were prepared for her changes, and we weren’t. And that brings a certain sense of humility. Humiliation for the ego, yes, but maybe then a sense of humility. Life is so much bigger than anything we ever knew. The ego has no hope in understanding the vastness of it all.I have been diagnosed with a rare - and as yet incurable - chronic condition called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (abbreviated as POTS). It basically means that my body struggles to pump blood up from my legs to my head and brain. There are days where I struggle with symptoms that I find quite disabling, physically and mentally. Days where I feel too fatigued to get out of bed or move around for very long, days when I can’t walk for more than 10 minutes without having to sit down, dizzy, panting, out of breath (I am becoming very intimate with my breath!). Days my brain is so foggy and cloudy that I can’t remember where I am, what time it is, whether or not I’ve had breakfast. It’s been about 6 months now and it’s still a challenge to get through each day of this new reality. It took me about a week to write this email, when it would normally take only a few hours.As I mentioned before, several doctors and healers have given me their often conflicting perspectives on what this condition is exactly and what triggered it, and the search for relief and healing goes on. There is a lot of uncertainty. A lot of “I Don’t Know”. A lot of cultivating patience. A lot of medical testing and waiting for results. Trying to hold onto hope, while not getting lost in false hope. I’ve been doing a lot of meditating too on my fellow brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling with ill health these days, through no fault of their own. I’ve been realising once again, more deeply than ever maybe, that we are all on this human journey together. That somehow, in our deepest, roughest rawest, ruined, ripened humanity, we are so connected.Sometimes spirituality makes it all sound so easy. Sometimes even my writings do. “Just be present! Just accept! Just be with what is! Trust it all!”.But, sometimes… it’s really f****** hard.It just is.And you know, that is life, too. The hurt and the struggle and the ruin.That is also ‘what is’.As a friend recently confessed to me, “Jeff, I feel like sh*t today, and I don’t want to spiritualise it away. I don’t want to be aware of it. I don’t want to accept it. I don’t want to meditate it away. I want to dive into that feeling, know what it’s like to feel really sh*tty, so that there is no more war inside….”To accept where we are, sometimes we have to begin by accepting that it’s hard, maybe impossible, to accept where we are. We accept our struggle, our non-acceptance, our resistance, that little child in us that cries “I’m finding this so, so damn difficult and I don’t want to be here and I want things go to back to the way they were!”. Sometimes that’s where we have to begin. At the beginning. At the painful, raw, disappointing, shattering, but truthful beginning.The truthful beginning … that is where life is. It’s where we all meet. It’s where healing can happen.Perhaps that’s what “death” is, too - the ultimate, ultimate beginning. A place where we feel lost, and yet somehow strangely found. It is the ache of Now that points us home. Now is a new chance to let go of what we thought life was going to be, and turn towards the way life is. To let go of old dreams, and dream and hope anew.Or… to just be without dreams or hope today, and live in the raw, wounded moments.Thank you once again for your love, your encouragement, your beautiful words and hearts, my friends, as I, we, all of us, march through these moments, alone, together, finding courage to bear the unbearable, finding the will to keep going, to keep healing, or perhaps to keep learning to lean in to the unhealed places…Breath by breath, moment by precious moment,I love you,Jeff xxx ❤️❤️ ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago  ·  

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WHEN YOUR PATH IS YOUR FEET Take the step. Shiver, tremble, shake, vomit, wet yourself. Feel more fear than you've ever felt! But take the step. Or do not. (That’s okay too.) Either way, stand where you stand today.This is all you need to know:Stand where you stand today. Feel your feet in contact with this sacred ground.Your presence sanctifies it. Let doubts surge. Let terrors surge. Let all the shaming and fearful voices surge. Bless all the surging ones. They cannot break you nowor knock you off your path. Nothing can knock you off your path. When your path is your feet. When your heart is the road. When you breathe in horizons.- Jeff Foster (from “You Were Never Broken: Poems to Save Your Life) ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago  ·  

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THE EVER-CRUMBLING EDGELove is not something you find, for if you can find love, you can lose it. If it can be given, it can be taken away, and you end up fearing love as much as you long for it, because you have made it into a ‘thing’, a form, a commodity, something far from yourself, something you have to win, or deserve, or be ‘good enough’ to be given. Throw away your unworthiness today; love is not a prize.Love is not your ideas about ‘love’; love cannot be stolen by thought. All of your beautiful concepts are too small, or too second hand, or too untested. Throw out your ideas; let them burn in the fire of presence. Have the courage to find out what love actually is for you, even if this means tasting ridicule and rejection, and sinking ever more deeply into your aloneness, so deeply that you may never return.Friend, you never have to leave yourself to reach another, for you carry every ‘other’ in your own heart. And the more connected you are with your breath, with the earth and with your weight, with your joy and with your sorrow, with your precious aloneness and the slowness of time, the less you need to abandon yourself for connection, and the more intimate you feel, without even trying; so that your aloneness becomes your way of meeting this world, and your loneliness breaks open into each new morning, held in a fresh awareness unbound by guilt.You have reached the world by reaching ever more deeply into your centre; there was no centre, but there was a world. You pulled the sky out from your heart, and the oceans sprung from deep within your belly. So play, rest, laugh, weep, fall to the ground, and think of all the good things you have been given; the day has laid herself bare in front of you.Something ancient stirs now, and it is joy.- Jeff Foster ... See MoreSee Less

1 month ago  ·  

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“If You Are Feeling Sad...”If you are feeling sad, you are not in a 'low vibration'. You are not sick or broken or unenlightened or far from healing. You are not 'trapped in your ego' or stuck in the 'separate self'. You are not being negative, and you don't need to be fixed, and sadness is not a mistake, because it's life moving in you, and life can't be a mistake, ever. You are just feeling sad, that's all. It's a feeling state playing out on the vibrantly alive movie screen of presence, that's all.It's not a problem that requires a solution or a band-aid. It's a sacred and precious part of you longing for love, acceptance, embrace, rest. You've been blessed by sadness today; you've been chosen as her home; don't run away from such a truly precious visitor.- Jeff Foster ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago  ·  

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DO NOT FEAR THE GRIEVINGWhen you look into the eyes of a loved one, you know that they will die one day, and "one day" could be today, and so it breaks your heart a little bit each time you look into their eyes. This is not an error but the way it’s meant to be. True love brings an awareness of the loss of the beloved. And so you stay with your grief today, you breathe into it and make a home for it in your heart, it hurts your chest and your throat and your tummy but it feels so alive, this grief, this loneliness, this yearning for home, and you feel so alive and awake in the hurt, and you want the hurt to stay with you because you want to keep your heart open to your loved one today. You don’t want to shut off to the "mysterium tremendum" of existence, and you don’t want to cling to that which will surely pass. You love your loved one through the grief, through the tears and the broken heart and the awareness of mortality, you live close to contingency and impermanence and change, and each moment with your loved one is rendered infinitely precious. You celebrate their presence today yet stay rooted in their passing. You embrace this living day, knowing it could be the final one, your final chance to meet. Good. Let it all be final, then, and hauntingly alive in its finality. Death is in life, not at its end. Grief is your constant companion, your guru and guide and lover, not a negative or depressing thing but a misunderstood doorway to cosmic compassion, to extraordinary hope and a deep and enduring love of life. All things will pass, all things are dying and changing in one way or another, everything we love and all that we don’t flows through our awareness unstoppably, ceaselessly, like sand through an hourglass, like hot blood through veins. We cannot stem the flow of holy grief but we can learn to endure it and even love it, let it break us open to more life and more laughter and more willingness to stand where we stand, feel what we feel, know what we know, even if it hurts and we long for escape, even if we want to die ourselves sometimes from so much life. I am eternally grateful to grief and her shattering and her unplanned losses, for they have brought me kicking and screaming into a clear awareness of the one thing that cannot be lost. Let us die into life, my love. Let us die into life.- Jeff Foster ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago  ·  

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Here is the paradox: In our humility, we are giants.- Jeff Foster ... See MoreSee Less

2 months ago  ·  

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wonderofbeing @wonderofbeing
"I Wasn't Prepared For This" - my latest newsletter❤️ https://t.co/9nwd3iTe3K
Here is the paradox: In our humility, we are giants. - Jeff Foster https://t.co/nuwlqmxoNL
From last year. From my heart to yours ❤️ https://t.co/zAU3RdwDtW
“.... Sometimes you have to fall to climb, friend, and sometimes, finding yourself on your knees, you discover a co… https://t.co/akmyeE0G7K
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