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THE WILD TRUTH AT THE HEART OF TRAUMA

We only get this moment of existence.

All else is unknown, and mostly out of our control.

The past is only a memory, images in the mind.

The future is fantasy, projection, assumption, hope, belief.

All that we have can be lost in an instant.

From one side of trauma, this is terrifying and depressing news. News we cannot face or digest, and so we live our lives in denial, and simply build our walls higher.

Depressed, exhausted, numb, overworked and restless, we flee from existential truth, run from the void, lose ourselves in the forms of this world and seek ridiculous things like popularity, fame, success, money.

Yet from the other side of trauma, impermanence is our very salvation, the source of all authenticity and true joy. We feel most vital and alive when touching into the deep ache of insecurity.

Impermanence renders the ordinary sacred, opens us up to the most profound gratitude and sense of abundance.

We can close off from the painful truths of existence or we can awaken to them fully, let them break us and remake us.

Our trauma will eat us alive, or we will process it with love and awareness, with water and flame and heart, and we will come to know the glory of a single moment of existence.

Through the pain, through the ache of self, to the divine!

- Jeff Foster
...

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THE WILD TRUTH AT THE HEART OF TRAUMA

We only get this moment of existence.

All else is unknown, and mostly out of our control.

The past is only a memory, images in the mind.

The future is fantasy, projection, assumption, hope, belief.

All that we have can be lost in an instant.

From one side of trauma, this is terrifying and depressing news. News we cannot face or digest, and so we choose to live our lives in denial, and simply build our walls higher.

Depressed, exhausted, numb, overworked and restless, we flee from the deepest existential truth, run from the void, lose ourselves in the forms of this world and seek ridiculous things like popularity, fame, success.

Yet from the other side of trauma, impermanence is our very salvation, the source of all authenticity and true joy. We feel most vital and alive when touching into the deep ache of impermanence.

Impermanence renders the ordinary sacred, opens us up to the most profound gratitude and sense of abundance.

We can close off from the painful truths of existence or we can awaken to them fully, let them break us and remake us.

Our trauma will eat us alive, or we will process it with love and awareness, with water and flame and heart, and we will come to know the glory of a single moment of existence.

Through the pain, through the ache of self, to the divine!

- Jeff Foster
...

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Don’t believe
the nightmares
you were force-fed
by your religions.

Heaven is only Hell, illuminated.

Hell is only your burning longing for Heaven.

Both nightmares will vanish
upon waking, my love.

- Jeff Foster
...

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“ ... I want you to fall. I will you to fall.
To forget me and to find me,
to leave me and to rediscover me.
As close as yourself, and closer than these words. Close like the morning breeze.
And the rain tapping its fingers
on the kitchen window,
as you sat with mother, listening.
And the belly fluttering with new hope. And the blinding light in everything.
Abandon me... and meet me.
The inhale and the exhale.
The tides going in and out.
Abandon me and meet me.
(So sings the world.)
(You have to be so still to hear it.)

Find me here, my love. Find me.”

- Jeff Foster
...

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Let go of the illusion
that your life
could have turned out
any differently.

Feel your feet on the ground.
Sense your own presence.
Embrace this brand new day.

- Jeff Foster
...

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THE TREMORS INSIDE

Make room in your heart for despair, my love!

Spend a few minutes each day opening your arms to the utterly hopeless one within, breaking into her love. She lives in all of us, this helpless newborn, she is the source of our greatest strength and courage, the fount of all authentic healing. She is God in disguise, the most wonderful blessing, when you turn towards her and do not judge yourself.

When you are in despair you are in your full and raw authenticity! I do not ask that you live there, my love, or become a slave to the darkness, only that you make room for it, breathe into it, dialogue with it each day and invite it into your meditations.

At the heart of your despair, your deepest grief, the bottomless wound, you WILL find your true ground. Despair is the loss of the external world, an earthquake inside that shatters all reference points; all that once appeared solid turns to dust. Hold on my love. Hold on. Breathe. Let the world fall away and breathe into your own sacred core. There is something inside so indestructible, so solid and real and unable to be broken but you will never know it if you run from despair.

Despair will connect you with all living beings. She will make you look past surfaces into the broken heart of humanity. She will give you compassion; for even the seemingly happiest and most “successful” of people may be running from a terrible emptiness within.

Make room for despair each day and you will discover the unbelievable beauty of being alive. On the other side of despair is a terrible joy, the awe and wonder of creation, the erotic trembling of love itself. Everything you flee within yourself is your portal, all you reject is your saviour in disguise.

The ground will shake, the internal structures will fall, and you will know your true self, you will be whole in the splinters and the dust and the ash, and I will be there with you, I will not abandon you.

Trust in me, I was here before the Universe took form.

All I ask is that you make room in your heart each day for despair, and the loss of your world, and the cry of the abandoned ones throughout the cosmos.

- Jeff Foster
...

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YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE WORTHY

Fuck being worthy.

If you succeed, if you score an A+, if you get the promotion, if you win the race, you won't be loved more. You have to shake off that illusion.

Love isn't something that anyone can give you. It’s not something you have to beg for, earn, or deserve.

You don’t have to be worthy. You only have to be alive, and you are worthy.

Because you are inseparable from the stars, the mountains, the rustling trees in the meadow.

And you follow the breath as it rises and falls. And you make room in yourself for long-neglected feelings of shame, fear, sorrow... and unworthiness. You learn to trust the body, its rhythms, the way it tries to protect itself, its unpredictability, its feelings of unsafety. You breathe into the sore places, make them safe. (Safe to even feel unsafe; that is freedom.)

To love the parts that feel unlovable; that is the love you always dreamed about, the love you never have to deserve.

- Jeff Foster
...

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LIFE
will eventually
destroy
every single
idea you have
about “LIFE”

You will
be left
humbled,
breathless,
open...

- Jeff Foster
...

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✨✨ deep in the ordinary sacredness ✨✨ ...

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ADVAITA TEACHERS, WAKE UP!

“I am Pure Awareness. The Unmoving Subject of experience. That which never changes. I am Consciousness itself”.

It may be true, on an absolute level. But try saying that to your partner, when he or she stands in front of you, demanding your human heart, your truth, your vulnerability, your brokenness and your courage, your fire, your sorrow, your fear, your rawness and your awkward authenticity.

I have seen too many spiritual teachers attempting to avoid deep human connection and intimacy using spiritual concepts, non-dual language and brilliant verbal gymnastics.

I have been guilty of this "spiritual bypassing" in my time too, as I have written about. (I once argued with my mother for hours about the non-existence of the tree she was pointing to. Oops.)

Once, a teacher of Advaita literally said to me, “Jeff, this teaching of non-duality has NOTHING to do with relationship”.

Oh, I respectfully and profoundly disagree, sir. This teaching has everything to do with relationship. Relationship with our deepest self, with the fucking ground, with our genitals and our guts and our feet, with hearts calling out to other hearts, with the loneliness and longing of a billion billion beings, with the One in front of us, begging for connection.

Awareness cannot detach itself from all that arises. The many is the One. We are air but we are also fire.

Yes - on some unspeakable and mysterious level we are all the same Awareness.

But - we are also gorgeously messy human beings, imperfect, unfinished, traumatised to the extent that we are traumatised. Realizing that we are Awareness does not change this fact. In fact, realization only makes us more acutely aware of the subtleties of our humanness than ever. More willing to be raw, vulnerable, naked. To admit that we do not know, to admit our mistakes, to admit that we are forever learning. To cry, to shake, to speak our terrifying human truth, to reveal our mess.

When there is less to defend, we can connect more deeply than ever.

When teachings of Awareness become detached from healthy shame – that is, our human imperfections, our vulnerability, our awe and our wonder, our fallibility, our not knowing and our tender hearts – they only become teachings of violence, toxic teachings taught by toxic teachers (man of them men) who are trying to avoid their own pain, shame and trauma.

I speak not to judge individuals, but to illuminate a collective misunderstanding.

I once saw a “nondual” teacher approached by a courageous woman who was going through a profound life transition.

She said, “I have deep anxiety in my belly”.

He replied, without compassion, “You are still attached to your body, still identified with the separate self".

In his drive to be an expert, he missed her heart - and belly - completely.

She was crushed after this interaction, even more anxious and disconnected than before. I gave her a big hug and let her tell her story. She wept, her anxiety diminished, and she felt whole again. Love is not difficult. Vulnerability is not shameful - it can heal us.

I saw the terrible dogma of Advaita. The vilification of the “separate self”. The denial and shaming of human pain and trauma. I saw how teachings of Awareness can be used – by the most brilliant of minds – to crush our humanity, numb our vulnerability, silence our sweet doubt and annihilate our exquisite fear.

This is why I quit as a “nonduality teacher” many years ago. Truth cannot be found in any dogma, and for many, sadly, nonduality has become just another dogma. I have written extensively about this.

Personally, I am deeply in love with this yummy mess of humanity. I am in profound relationship - yes, relationship - with shaky hearts, fluttery bellies, yearning and confusion and anxiety too. I see none of it as separate from nonduality, none of it as some “sign” that we are failing, or not yet “fully realized”. I see all of it as deeply sacred; I believe it is deep in this ordinary sacredness that we find our true freedom.

- Jeff Foster
...

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THE LAST CAFE

So many people in this busy modern world are slaves to time. They feel there are “never enough hours in the day” to get everything done. The clock has become their Higher Power. Time has made them anxious, depressed and chronically unsatisfied.

But there is always enough time, when you realise there is no time at all.

In reality, time is an illusion. Not because it “doesn’t exist”, but because it is so elastic and fragile and so desperately dependent upon thought. Without memory, without thought, without history, there is no time at all, in our direct, raw, first-hand experience.

Without memory, the clock face makes no sense - it is only over Now. And even ‘Now’ is a laughable concept.

I loved “spending time” with Dad - a man who had once been a slave to the clock and the opinions of others - in this timeless, slow, creative moment. A minute between us lasted a century. A day took place in a split second. Those of you who have fallen into the depths of meditation may know what I mean.

Time ‘disappeared’ - or rather, ceased to have dominion over us - and pure Presence was seen to be the ultimate reality. He and I were translucent together. He no longer cared for manners, cleanliness or being “on time”. He was forgetting the story of himself. We were getting to know one another for the first time. Every moment was a new start, and a wonderful ending.

It was tragic to those who were trying to cling to the past, this loss of the “old Dad”.

It was liberating for those of us who saw through the illusion of mind.

(Nothing was lost except time and memory anyway).

I’ll never forget the last (and first) time Dad and I went to a cafe together. Dad was blown away by the fact that he could order anything he wanted from the menu. Anything! A “menu” was a miracle to him, a vision of heaven. When our waitress brought us tea and cake five minutes later, he didn’t remember ordering, so he experienced a new miracle - some angel was bringing us free tea and cake, out of nowhere!

From the perspective of conventional reality he was mad or sick. From my perspective he was free, a playful child again, liberated from the shame and pressure of modernity.

I love the play of conventional time, yes, but I rejoice in its disappearance too, for in time’s death the ground of unconditional love is revealed.

We order tea and cake, and this isn’t “just another moment” together, no, this is infinite bliss, joy beyond the speaking of it.

Don’t make time into your master. Time leads nowhere at all, in the end. Do what you can, and let go. Appreciate the myriad gifts and tiny miracles of today. Lean into the nothingness, it is benevolent. Do not fear loss and worldly failure and the unresolvedness of things. Begin your life again, many times over.

Slow down.

Die to the moments.

Taste the tea, the cake, the vastness of the silence.

- Jeff Foster
...

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THE PERFECT PLACE FOR LIFE

“Do not regret, my love. Time only moves forwards. Learn your lessons from the past, of course. Grieve over what you lost or never found, for sure. Make amends if you feel the call. But you must step forwards into your new life now. You have come so far and I am so proud of you! The challenges you have faced. The trauma you have been asked to heal. The terrors and embarrassments you have fought your way through. Do not compare your progress with anyone else’s. That would be to disrespect the unique expression of God that you are. You are not meant to be like them. You are meant to be like you. Flawed, original, irreplaceable, beautiful in your failures and in your successes too. You cannot step backwards in time. You can only step forwards from where you are. NOW is the perfect time to begin your new life. HERE is the perfect place from which to step - in fact, it is the only place from which you can step. Feel the solid ground under you now. See the vast sky above you. Let your past recede into memory. Feel the rush of creativity in your belly. You are in the perfect place for life!”

- Jeff Foster
...

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HOW TO FIGHT BACK

When you feel you have been wronged, slighted, disrespected, hurt, sometimes it is good to take a deep breath and insert some precious seconds, minutes, hours, days or months of breathing space before you react in the expected, programmed, habitual way.

Bring loving awareness deep into your embodied experience, into your wounded psyche. See the part of you that wants to urgently and automatically lash out. Bring attention to the hurt child in you who wants to attack, hurl names and abuse, wound your ‘enemy’ as deeply as possible, reduce them to an object of ridicule. Notice these old unconscious, automatic, habitual, reactive ‘scripts’, these old power games and neural pathways surging to your defence.

Become aware of the potential for violence in yourself. Do not shame or judge it. Just witness it. It lives in all of us…

Watch the mind, spinning away with its dreams of revenge and retaliation, plotting and scheming. See how you can lose yourself in the future and in fantasy.

Find the raw anger in your present body. Drench the fire in the belly, chest and throat with awareness, breath, compassion. Observe and allow the pounding heart, the clenched fists and jaw, the heat and the trembling of today. Meet the God of War that lives in you.

See the part of you that wants to run away and hide, too. To curl up into a ball and disappear from the world. The deeply frightened, ashamed and guilty-feeling one who just wants to check out and pretend that this isn’t really happening. The one who wants to go numb to protect themselves from more pain.

Don’t make yourself wrong for feeling how you feel! These are old, deeply engrained, learned reactions to pain. But perhaps a new response is possible today…

Take time – in a way that feels right to you - to reconnect with your authentic self. Your true feelings and needs. Let the ancient visitors - anger, guilt, shame, fear - move through you. Bow to every one of them. Listen, with interest, to what they each have to say.

Acknowledge ALL the life in you, the conflicting impulses, the pulls in different directions, the confusion and the doubt, the rage and the grief. Make room for all these deeply intelligent energies. You don’t have to automatically act on any of them. You can simply be present with them now. Get to know them more intimately, so they no longer control or manipulate you.

Soon, a clear and conscious response may emerge. From a place of slowness, presence, from your very gut, you may suddenly know the right words to speak or write or sing or dance. The right course of action may become clear. The right way for YOU to respond to the hurt.

You may choose not to respond at all. You may choose to speak up for yourself and those you love, express your thoughts and feelings, your pain and your passion. You may choose to set new and clear boundaries, move away from a situation or relationship, with or without explanation. You may choose to wait longer before responding - an hour, a day, a month, or many years. To stay close to yourself until an authentic response emerges from your very depths.

You may come to see, you have been offered a great opportunity – to get to know your exquisite self, to discover your true feelings and needs, to find your authentic voice and values, to see the workings of love and war more deeply.

Abuse is never a gift. But, if we can slow down, and do the courageous work of healing and connecting with our authentic wild feelings and needs, we may find an internal gift - at the burning centre of our own exquisite, broken hearts. We may discover the place where, bathed in deep understanding, saturated with curiosity, infused with love, our hurt can, in time, transmute itself into power, our guilt into play and passion and purpose, and our anger into creativity, and courageous deeds and words that heal the world.

- Jeff Foster
...

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