Spiritual Path, Ups and Downs

I have those amazing insights; I feel so close to The Light, and then doubt creeps in. Am I on the path at all? Am I really helping others? How can I when I don’t even feel connected, when I’m in a bad mood? Am I a phony?

My Kabbalah teaching has shown me that this is part of the path. At these times, nothing will satisfy but my connection to The Light. This is when I humbly ask for connection. And this brings me closer to The Light. All comes from the same Source, the down times are part of the Path. This is the time to practice faith.

Buddhism and Cats and Everyday Life

I recently moved from San Francisco to Athens, Georgia. I lived in San Francisco for about 16 years and couldn’t have any pets. Since I got to Athens, I’ve accumulated 3 cats. And they have helped me so much in my daily spiritual practice. Being constantly interrupted by a cat that that wants to walk on my laptop or crawl into a cupboard that I opened or sit in the sink when I’m brushing my teeth (I could go on) has made me stop many times throughout my day and practice patience and love. I mean, how can you not love them? And you can not rush through, you need to stop and pet and say sweet things to them; you must be patient.

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Don’t Take It Personally

Well-meaning people have used that line over the course of my life and looking back I usually blew it off. I was too wrapped up in my hurt. But I’ve come to realize how much practical–and spiritual–truth is in “don’t take it personally” because it’s true, it’s not personal. The stuff that people say and do is about their state of being. When I realize that simple truth–I don’t need to take it into my state of being.

Forgiveness Ritual that Changed my Life

fire-1073217_960_720We all know the effects of holding grudges and bad feelings toward ourselves and others–it weighs us down and holds an icky place in our heart. But how do we let that stuff go? I used to be a big grudge holder. I came to find out that this was the result of my own insecurities, feeling like what other people did to me was about me instead of simply being  about their own human limitation.

To let all this go, I wrote down the name of every person who I felt had wronged me on a little slip of paper. Then I held it over my sink and thanked this person for what the experience had taught me, like how to be stronger or more compassionate. Or how to take the high road, or how to trust my intuition. I found one positive thing. Even if it was just giving me the chance to practice forgiveness. Then I lit that little paper on fire while blessing this person and myself. My anger literally  went up in smoke! Instead of anger I felt love for them and myself. That bundle of  burdens that I had been carrying for so long was released. And my life changed profoundly.

Buddhism in Action–Compassion

Compassion is a big thing in Buddhism and pretty much any other religious or spiritual practice I can think of. How do we put ourselves in the frame of mind to choose compassion over feeling irritated, angry and judgmental toward another person? And how do we choose compassion over disappointment in ourselves?

For me, if I am feeling irritated or angry at someone, it helps to first make friends with the feeling (not push it away), give it a little space, and be kind and gentle to myself. As I take care of myself and this feeling of irritation, I feel my heart open a little and I’m able to soften toward the other person. It’s an opportunity to thank them, really, for giving me the chance to love myself.

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Buddhism in Action–How are you present?

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Being present is a staple of Buddhism. It’s a concept you come across in all the reading and  a lot of lectures and workshops. You know it’s true because you’ve experienced the beauty of being in the present–that clarity and calm and the power. Yes the power! Maybe you were in meditation or watching a sunset. But how the heck do you bring that awareness into your daily life? For me it takes guts. It takes the humility and honesty to put away my anxieties about my life and and accept who I am and what’s happening. And then I can open up to what’s really going on–something a lot bigger than me. Please share how you stay present. I think you can help yourself and others.

Trust and the Queen of Swords

qs.gifI’ll admit it, I have trust issues. And the Queen of Swords has them too. She’s been coming up in my readings a lot because I’ve moved and the whole process of moving or doing anything that big requires trust. So it’s time for me to look at TRUST.

The Queen of Swords seems to anticipate problems, her watchful eye is looking to cut away the source of them. Sometimes that is exactly what the situation calls for, but I don’t want to walk through life with my sword ready.

For me it’s two issues, trusting other people and trusting Life. Trusting others is a little tricky because they are not always trustworthy, but on average more of them are than not. And usually things can be worked out with a little effort and communication.

When I dug a little deeper, I realized that my trust problem really stems from something larger–not really trusting in life. For example: when people don’t follow through or do as they say or disappoint in some way, I sometimes blow that up into–the whole project will fail.

This catastrophizing is taking away from my pleasure. I want to relax and trust in Life. I’m glad that the Queen of Swords has been showing up, reminding me that the sword is always at my disposal; but I can leave it in its sheath, and only take it out when I really need it. Just acknowledging this issue, has lessened my fear and made my heart lighter.