Speak The Truth of Your Heart!

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I began to analyze these beautiful words of wisdom this morning as I was writing my morning pages, and realized the significance of being clear on what he means by “everything works”. What does it mean when something “works”?

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine, an amazing sculpture, Debbie Korbel. (Her work is amazing, I recommend checking out her website) I was telling her that I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my work, and that I get anxious because of it, and sometimes frustrated because it doesn’t come out perfect. She said she never feels that way about her art! Whaaaaat?? I was shocked!! How can that be? Everyone I knew in the art world had been a perfectionist like myself, so I thought; how can anyone not worry about their art looking perfect?

The answer is, if you make your work from your heart and for your soul, and not for the audience you wont worry about it looking perfect, because the heart speaks the truth, and there is perfection in the truth.

For me a lot of times the meaning of my art “working” has been when I was able to sell it, or people had a positive response to it and gave me complements.

When I began my spiritual journey, I realized that art should be about self expression, and not pleasing others, but secretly I still wanted to sell my work so I felt that it had to please others, so I told my heart. “I understand, I will only do work for you and only you.” (But secretly hoped that by working for my heart, it would mean that the outcome would be perfect, and therefore others would like it, and hence want to buy it!) So I made my recent work, and yet I was not happy because it wasn’t perfect like I had hoped, which made me tired and frustrated.

I was discouraged. “WTF? I am making work for my heart, why isn’t it working?

Haha..Despite “spiritual awakening”, “working” had retained its meaning of “perfection” and “sellable”. This is where I had continued to remain lost. I didn’t realize  “Working” means that it speaks the truth of your heart. It says what you want it to say, and depicts the turmoil inside your heart. This truth might not always be pleasing to people. Many might even find it hard to relate to.

The reason Debbie doesn’t dwell on her work coming out perfect is because she only makes art to speak her heart, and her pieces “work” every time because of this!

Here is one of my favorite work by Debbie titled “WTF”:

wtf

Take the poems of Rumi, Hafiz, and many other mystic poets. Many people love them, because it speaks the truth, but also many don’t understand them. It can sound gibberish if you are not on the mindset of the truth. Nevertheless, their work remains timeless, and continues to spread across the globe, because it speaks the truth.

Without realizing, I had secretly hoped speaking my heart and the truth would make people like my work, (sneaky ego) but experience showed that this is not necessarily true.

It’s the same as when I fell. Somehow, in the back of my head I thought if I stay true to my heart, and stay present, I wont fall, but that’s not always true.

When you become a servant to the truth, you have to accept whatever comes, even if the outcome is not what you had hoped for. The outcome is what you need to grow and become closer to your heart.

I feel like I was a bit all over in this post, but isn’t that how our thoughts work? Constantly jumping from one thought to another!! No?

I will leave you with this poem by Rumi:

Wings of Desire

People are distracted by objects of desire,

and afterwards repent of the lust they’ve indulged,

because they have indulged with phantom

and are left even farther from Reality than before.

Your desire for the illusory is a wing, by means of which a seeker might ascent to Reality.

When you have indulged a lust, your wing drops off;

you become lame and that fantasy flees.

Preserve the wing and don’t indulge such lust,

so that the wing of desire may bear you to Paradise.

People fancy they are enjoying themselves,

but they are really tearing out their wings

for the sake of an illusion.

-Mathnawi iii 2133-38

Ouch… I thought spiritual people don’t fall!!

I have been feeling very irritated this past week. Nevertheless, I have been doing my meditation and cold showers, and anything that could possibly help me get out of this funk.

Mindfulness helps, but I do love the artist’s prayer from the book “Artist’s Way”.

You imagine giving all your irritation and everything that worries you to god/creator/universe and open your heart to everything that you want to receive, and through this, you let go of control and allow the universe to take care of you.

So yesterday, I decided, I really need to do this, because just focusing on my breath was not bringing me peace of mind. I did the visualization and I felt relaxed, and then I went on a bike ride.

…….. and that’s when I fell..

Thankfully nothing bad happened, just a few scratches here and there. I wasn’t trying to let go of the handle bars, or do anything crazy, I wasn’t going fast either, I just reached back with one hand to fix my shirt and lost control and…fell.

So afterwards I thought: I just trusted the universe and I fell on my ass.. great.. this is what happens when you trust god, you fall on your ass, but later I had an epiphany. Well, if you let go of control and trust universe, you have to trust whatever comes and what comes might not always look good to you or be easy, but it’s what you need at the time. Sometimes you need a slap in the face to snap out of your ego!

I don’t know if I fully understand why I needed to fall, but I will tell you this much. If this fall had happened before I was being mindful and working on myself, I would have immediately cried, yes, even as an adult I would cry because that was just an automatic reaction for me, then I would feel embarrassed and scared to ride my bike again. I would definitely never ever try to let go of the handlebars.

But, that’s not what happened.

I got up, a little shocked at first, as to why, even though I am so mindful and spiritual (haha..), this happened, then this nice guy came and helped pick up my basket from the ground and put it back, and I thanked him and jumped back on my bike, and a little while later, tried to let go of the handlebars, just to see if I still had the courage!

I have continued to ride, and will continue. I did have some fears initially. I thought: What if I had fallen in front of a car? What if (when I have a baby someday!) I put my baby on the bike and fall while riding? What would happen to the baby? What if I have an accident? What if someone is texting and is looking down and comes to the bike lane and hits me?

All kinds of worst case scenarios played in my head. I told my husband: what if we had a baby and I had the baby on my bike and we’d fall? He said: If you think like that, you wont be able to go out the door!

What he said really resonated. I could think of a million terrible things that could happen in my mind about anything and everything, and paralyze myself by doing that. Instead, I decided I will do what I want and need to do and if the worst case scenario happens, I will deal with it then, just like how I have dealt with many unimaginable scenarios.

Like loosing a loved one. You can not imagine living without them, until they are gone. Then, despite what you want to believe the first year, you find a way to live without them.

You can never imagine how you will deal with a situation until you are in it. Being in the present moment and fully aware gives you exactly what you need to handle anything that comes in the best way possible.

Vipassana, I have waited too long, it is now time!

Today life took a twisted turn, a turn similar to others it has taken before. These kind of turns would normally put me in long periods of self-hate and depression. My mind would normally go frantic trying to solve the problem at hand, feeling stuck in a hole with no way out.

I did feel a bit that way today, but thanks to my meditations and mindfulness practices I feel more together than I would normally feel.

I know what you might be thinking. “What happened?” Well I just don’t think it’s relevant, what is relevant is that it caused suffering, and how to deal with the suffering is what we can all relate to. The cause of suffering might be different for each person, but the solution will always be the same.

Observe your thoughts, observe, observe, observe, try not to identify. Go back to your breath. Which is why I have decided to do the 10-day Vipassana meditation. There is a long waiting list, but hopefully I can get in soon. I will tell you a little more about this soon.

I want to share this thought that came to my head as I was sitting in my patio garden. There are a few trees around the place that have rooted into the ground from the drain-holes of their original containers. I thought: isn’t it amazing? Here is a little tree in a little container and suddenly it feels a hole in the container and reaches out, it feels dirt and it digs in, it becomes rooted in the solid vast ground and despite what seemed like impenetrable limitations, creates deep strong roots and brakes out of its container. Literally! The container might be around it, but it is broken and no longer hinders the tree’s growth. The tree then grows so tall, it seems to reach the sky.

I feel like this is symbolic for humans. We must get rooted, we must find even the tiniest window outside of our suffering, and run our roots deep into our found salvation, until we break the barriers of suffering completely. Then we will reach our full potential as human beings.

Okay back to Vipassana (click to go to website), I will let the clip speak for me.

Why is “being in the present moment” not getting easier with practice?

I feel like, as the days pass, being in the present moment has gotten harder for me instead of easier. Today, as I was writing my morning pages, which are brain-drain style writing from the book “The Artist’s Way”, I realized why even though I meditate more than ever, I seem to loose the present moment more often.

What happens when begin to experience something for the first time is that we have no prior thought about it, in some cases we might be fearful, but if there is nothing to fear, then there is very little thought about it, but then what happens when we have an experience is our mind begins to form thoughts about that experience: “that was great”, “that was easy”, “I hope this feeling doesn’t go away”, “what if I loose this?”, “what if I don’t feel it again?” “oh no! I don’t feel like I first did!”. When this happens, you can no longer truly experience that particular thing in the same way you did the very first time, because now you are after a feeling that you experienced previously. I don’t know if I am explaining this well.

So lets take the experience of “being in the present moment”. The first time I felt this, was when I made a shift in my focus from “the thinker” to the “observer of thoughts” then that shift in focus gave me a an amazing feeling of awareness.

However, being that our brain is trained to compartmentalize things, my mind began to develop thoughts about what it means to be present and aware, and how I can go about shifting my focus in the future.  So now, instead of just being present, I am trying to reach it by accessing the information my brain stored about the experience of present moment. Well, by doing this, I am delaying reaching the present moment, because you can not reach the present moment through analysis and thought and past experience.

Each experience of the “present moment” is a new experience, and it can be reached in many different ways. Meditation, a simple shift of focus to your breath, an enlightened thought that quiets the mind, sitting in your garden. You will never know! You can not categorize mindfulness, because then your thoughts (or as Eckhart says the ego)  will take it over. If you don’t experience it the same way, if you don’t reach it the way you did the first time you experienced it, then the brain panics. “why isn’t this working?” “I am sitting here and meditating, why can’t I quiet my mind”. Observe these thoughts, and be okay with what is, and suddenly you find yourself in the present moment again!

I can ride my bike with no handlebars!!

so for the past few days I have been practicing really being present, and it’s been so peaceful. Challenging, but when I managed to snap myself out of my thought trans, I felt the deepest peace I have felt in my heart.

On Sunday I rode my bike to work, and I practiced being present (mindful) while riding it. My mind kept drifting in thoughts, but I kept brining my focus back to my breath and body. Well, something magical happened. For the FIRT TIME EVER I was about to let go of the handlebars for longer than a millisecond. Each attempted lasted about 30 second, but it was so exhilarating. The whole ride was!

I was reminded of the this song the Handlebars song by Flobots, which interesting enough was what I kept listening to when I first read Eckhart and discovered the power of being present 5 years ago. I was walking on air back then, I am a little closer to earth now, but it’s the only way to be. You are only truly living, when you are here, in the present moment, and not lost in your thoughts.

If you like the song by Flobots, I recommend creating a pandora station. It will play all kinds of amazingly conscious hiphop songs!

Sound Healing!

I was a bit hesitant to go to a sound healing gathering, I thought it might be too weird for my taste, but really it was amazing!!! I had never been able to sit still in meditation for 45 minutes. I would normally not be able to sit still for even 10 minutes. I have to say that being present was the key element that helped me with it, and also important was that the conductor of the session, Lynda from Sacred Roots, was very sweet, genuine, and open.

I don’t think anything has been as wonderful and as effective in bringing me peace as being present. I find it somewhat easy. It is not easy to maintain it, but it’s not a difficult exercise. Doesn’t require intellect, sitting for hours, or chanting, it’s a matter of shifting your focus. It is accessible at any given instant, you just have to shift your attention to your thoughts. Recognize your thinking voice as a voice, not as yourself. Imagine that someone else is talking, when you think. That is all!! literally! You don’t have to stop the thought, there is nothing you have to do but to watch it, then shift your focus to your breath.

What you will notice happening is that you will continuously identify with your thought and the voice in your head as yourself.. you might say “well obviously I am the one thinking”. No, it’s your mind.. your mind is talking.. and you are listening to it like it’s you. You are the consciousness that observes the mind. This seems abstract but if you only listen to your thoughts, then you have created a space, there is you, and then there is your thoughts, you as the watcher is the real you. Why is it the real you? Because there is peace in it, true peace, comfort and presence.

The Eckhart Tolle interview I posted yesterday explains it perfectly.

Also wanted to share this (6×6 inches, acrylic) painting I did today, which was so much fun to do, because I stayed present (mindful) I can say about 80% of the time I was painting it. There is great joy to be experienced when things are done in the state of awareness.

10985364_10152627797538021_6182379753584840456_nIt needs a some adjustments but not bad for 4 hours and no under drawing!! 🙂 so much fun!!

Peonies are magical!

I haven’t talked about Eckhart Tolle yet, but I have to say that his book “A New Earth” was transformational in our family and my life.

The reason I mention him is that I read a wonderful blog post written by Geneen Roth on the Eckart Tolle page, that I find inspiring. It found its way to my life at just the perfect time. So here it is:

When Life Gets Hard

I bought thirty-six peonies yesterday at Trader Joe’s. They were having a sale, six stems for $6.99 and although my grandmother would have disapproved—she wouldn’t buy flowers because “they always die”—I decided that staggering beauty was at least as important as Greek yogurt. As the cashier—a twenty-something woman with pink hair, three silver nose rings and a rainbow-serpent tattoo twining around her left arm—was ringing up one double-ruffled bunch after the other, she said, “forty-two dollars and worth every penny!” I nodded and thought of the lines from the Mary Oliver poem about peonies and their “eagerness/to be wild and perfect for a moment before they are nothing, forever.” (I like the wild and perfect part, but I’m not so sure about being nothing forever).

As I was arranging the flowers in a vase, my friend Sabine called. “My brother had another brain aneurysm,” she blurted. “He is in critical condition, they don’t know whether he will survive the night.” After another minute she said, “I don’t want to be the only one left in my nuclear family.” When I hung up the phone, I thought once again how difficult it is to be in a human body. How everything is taken away, either quickly as in having a brain aneurysm or slowly, as in getting old and losing one function after another. (Note to self: if there is reincarnation, and if anyone is listening, I’m not coming back. Besides avoiding brain aneurysms and dementia, not having to go through high school again is at the top of the list.)

A spiritual teacher once told me that “what’s real never dies.” That whatever you can lose in a shipwreck (clothes, money, people, your life) wasn’t yours to begin with. And that you might as well spend your life paying attention to what can never die otherwise you get to the end, and you can’t believe you are actually dying and are about to lose everything you love: your cat, your iPad, your body.

Since I didn’t want to be hanging on to my pink angora sweater when I took my last breath, I attended dozens of meditation retreats, took trips to India, practiced presence. But, no matter how much I sensed, practiced, and meditated, I was haunted by the feeling of not enough–not enough success, not enough money, not enough love—and the attendant belief that having enough meant having more. I was absolutely convinced that enough was a quantity, and that once I reached that magical amount—which was a moving target, and always more than I had at any given moment—I could relax, be at peace, be comfortable in my own skin.

Then, six years ago, my husband and I lost every dime of our combined thirty-year life savings in a Ponzi scheme. I was already well practiced in disasters and catastrophes— I’d almost died from a drug reaction, had suffered with a long-term debilitating illness, and had been in three near-fatal car accidents, one of which landed me in a wheelchair for a few months. After each event, the day-to-day experience of being alive, of looking and listening, of touching and tasting felt magically luminous in even the most ordinary situations. But within a short time, my familiar self reconstituted and I was back to seeing through haunted and hungry eyes. When we lost our money, however, I felt as if a fire roared through my life as I knew it, and burned it to the ground.

And although I’ve written about this event and its many repercussions in my book Lost and Found, it occurred to me last month—I’m a slow learner—that nothing has been the same since. Eckhart might call it “a shift.” Carlos Castaneda in the Don Juan books might refer to it as “moving the assemblage point.” And what I would call it is an ongoing recognition of beauty and sufficiency. Because living with the terror and shame following the loss was like running on broken glass, I needed to be fierce about redirecting my attention, moment to moment, on what really mattered. Sensing my hands, my legs, my inner body was no longer a luxury, it was a necessity—and the only place in which I could rest.

Before we lost our money, I wrote and taught about the inner life, about what it takes to be at peace in earth school—while secretly harboring the belief that true fulfillment was still to be found in the world and in the future. But after we lost our money, and because wandering one millimeter away from this exact moment (where nothing was wrong or lacking) felt like going insane with grief and terror, I realized that what I had been looking for (in relationships and in success, in chocolate and in wealth but mostly in more of anything or everything) was here the whole time. In the smoothness of the cup in my hand, in the click of my heel on the pavement, in the sound of the hummingbird’s wings. In the fact that water came out of a faucet when I turned it. It was as if I’d been blind and half-dead for sixty years and was suddenly sprung into a life brimming with color and double-ruffle peonies.

When you’ve lost your money and think you might be living with your dog and your husband in a friend’s trailer and you feel—for the first time—indescribably unbelievably stunningly rich, you realize there is nothing to find or have or get that you don’t already have. You realize that for every doubt, for every fear, for every question you’ve ever had, there is only one answer, and it is now.

Geneen is the best-selling author of Women Food and God and Lost and Found, and her supportive retreats for women in the inspiring Santa Cruz mountains of California explore how our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. Join Geneen and Eckhart as they discuss her teachings on Eckhart Tolle TV.