Why I Quit Facebook: Confessions of a Social Media Addict

I did the unthinkable yesterday.  I deactivated my Facebook account.  And you know what?  It felt really good.

A year ago, you would have found me on Facebook for hours at a time, scrolling through my feed and messaging friends while claiming to be hard at work on my next book.  Several times during these “work” sessions my husband would pop in and tease me: “Have you beat Facebook, yet?” as if I was one of our kids, compulsively attached to their newest video game.

I may not have won, but I must admit over the past eight years, I got pretty darn good at the Facebook “game”. As a writer, I know how to engage folks and pull them in. I know how to elicit responses. But being a decent writer is not the key ingredient to succeeding at Facebook. Like many of us, I have the tendency to believe that I’m a rather important sort of human. Couple this notion with a mild need for approval and a dash of narcissism and I am the perfect candidate for advanced level Facebookery.

About three years ago, in the midst of my Facebook fascination, I started meditating regularly, listening to the likes of Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, and Thich Nhat Hanh.  As I did I noticed a change in myself.  I was still acting in all my silly, neurotic ways, however I was now finding that I was able to step back and gently observe all these quirky habits. I was starting to see the whole me. Gradually, as I acknowledged my weaknesses, changes inside were happening. Meditation was forcing me to look at the parts of me that needed work (which are many!).

About this time, I started taking morning walks on the beach by my house and snapping pictures of the sunrise. Without knowing it, this little morning exercise became a form of meditation as well.  As I walked, reflections about life percolated.  I began entering my life observations down into my phone and posting them with my photos on Facebook. It turns out the people liked what I had to say.  Pretty soon I started a small following of people who looked forward to my introspective sunrise posts.  It became sort of “a thing”.

However pleasant and insightful my thoughts were, Facebook wasn’t going to let me get away with simply sharing my messages. Instead it did exactly as it’s designed—to get me and my friends to engage and respond.  And that they did. Friends responded with comments, hearts, laughy faces, surprise faces and in turn, me, the latent attention seeker, watched with secret glee.

As the ‘likes’ blossomed… so did my ego.

So, there I was, like a lab rat, tapping the lever to see who applauded my insights of love, the cosmos, and humanity.  I knew something wasn’t right about this picture. I could feel it nagging at me every time I tapped that little blue “f” on the phone, but I kept on doing it, with the hopes that my meditation practice and those Youtube talks I watched about the perils of ego attachment would neutralize my distraction, but it wasn’t working. Turns out, I’m still purely human—an absolute sucker for that little, computer generated thumbs up.

Then just a few days ago something happened. I was hanging out with an acquaintance who decided to give me her brash opinion about my presence on Facebook.  She told me that she thought my posts were exhausting.  She said reading them was like watching a bipolar person. She then proceeded to go in depth about how much I overthought things, pointing out how I needed to ‘just be’—the exact thing I had been striving for in all my spiritual work.

I drove away from her that day feeling a whirlwind of shame, doubt, and anger. On one level she was right. After all, I am bipolar. I live a very intense life, and I’m not afraid to share it.  And yeah, I am all about self-reflection.  However her critique showed no kindness, no attempt at understanding who I am or why I act the way I do.

But something good happened from this woman’s remarks.  It forced me to look at myself. My reaction to her abrasive statements made me realize how wrapped up I had become in people’s opinions. I had been making myself sick trying to get approval. Everyone loved me online, but as soon as someone showed disapproval I was crushed.

Stepping back I could now see my behaviors in their rawest state. I could see that I was seeking love from others, while simultaneously preaching peace, mindfulness, and self-forgiveness in my posts. I was living a dual life. I was both a radiant, wise being and a hungry little girl dancing for applause. I decided then that it was time to give that little girl a break.

So, after that car ride home, I decided I wanted out. I no longer wanted to wait around to see how many likes I got on Facebook.  Nor did I want to be the one scrolling through other people’s posts judging them or enabling their own ego trips.  Although I can see the many benefits to Facebook and may return at some point when I have a healthier perspective, right now I need to get away from the machine designed to awaken my narcissistic self.

I was (am) an approval addict, and though Facebook is not the root of my addiction it was the fuel. Facebook may not be the heroin, but it’s the needle used to stick it in.

If I have learned anything on this journey, it is that love is not out there. It’s not going to be found in a little blue icon at the bottom of my screen, or in any human being for that matter. I can seek the opinions of others day in and day out, wait for them to pat me on the back, but in the end, that is empty. The love I found on the beach all those mornings or on the meditation cushion didn’t come from my eager fan club awaiting my words; it didn’t even come from the rising sun, or the rolling waves.  It came from me. I chose it. I chose, in those moments, to be free.

Social media is not inherently evil.  Facebook creates lasting friendships, it connects people across the world and functions as a wonderful community builder. However as users, it’s important that we understand the reason Facebook exists. In the end it’s not there to make sure you’re having soulful engagements with other humans. Facebook is there to make money and we, in all of our positive and unhealthy behaviors, are the tools it uses to create revenue. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it simply is what it is, but it’s important to see it for what it is.  Just as you wouldn’t place full trust in the guy selling you a car, we need to watch carefully and be conscious of what social media wants from us.

The key to social media (and anything, for that matter) is to be mindful. Watch how it affects you.  As you go about your day, observe yourself in different environments: work, hanging out with friends, alone in a place of peace, and then look at how you feel as you scroll through Facebook.  See what it does for you, what it doesn’t. For me I learned that not matter what I did, I was unable to not be seduced by the game.  It always left me feeling ill.

This morning I walked on the beach at sunrise and didn’t post any pictures, nor did I stop in my tracks to tell all my friends on Facebook about my deep reflections.  As I strolled, a smiling woman approached me. I had seen her several times on previous walks, but we had never talked. Today as she came up to me, she formally introduced herself.  We chatted for a bit and laughed at our shared, quirky perspectives on life.  She then looked at me with a beautiful, warm smile and said, “Hey, let’s do coffee, sometime.”  My first impulse was to pull out my phone, so I could immediately look up her name on Facebook to friend her, but I stopped. I put down my phone and simply said, “I’d love to do that, very much.”

Inviting Joy to Dinner

It seemed like any other night.  I had made mac and cheese, sliced apple wedges and put them on the table.  My seven year old son talked happily about a new video game, while husband listened and scooped noodles on his plate.  I settled in my chair and looked across at them and smiled.  Although on the surface this night was uneventful, the undercurrent of my own emotions was radically different.

Over the course of the previous four years, I had been undergoing invasive fertility treatments in an attempt to have a second child. I had become pregnant with my son easily, but now this second time, after two miscarriages, things were not happening.

For anyone who has had infertility issues, you know it is laden with frequent doctor visits, aggressive medicines, and invasive tests.  However these are small in comparison to the emotional pain one faces each month when your desires fails to come to fruition time and time again.

Although I spent a lot of time worrying about the outcome of each month’s treatments, here, at the dinner table with my husband and son I was feeling a departure from my normal worried brain.  To my surprise I was not staring into space yearning for a baby, but in fact quite the opposite.  Looking at the two of them that night, something had clicked for me in that moment.  My heart was warm with satisfaction, absolute joy, realizing that all I ever needed ever was to be here in this moment.

I don’t know what stirred it on the particular night, but something cracked open in me and I saw that life was good…more than good, it was beautiful.  Yes, I didn’t have that little baby, the sibling for my son that I longed for, but there in the moment listening to my husband and son chat about this and that, I saw that there was nothing to pine for.  I had everything I needed.  I knew then that a new baby need not be part of the equation for my happiness.

Two days later I went into the clinic for the final injections.  This was to be our last attempt.  I was done trying.  I was ready to accept my losses and enjoy what I was given.

However on the final appointment I went in and lo and behold, I was pregnant. With twins!

I look back on that time and wonder if something had clicked for me at the dinner table, that the act of releasing  my desires was exactly what I needed. Once I was no longer after my goal, it was now coming for me.

Eleven years later, I sit at the dinner table and look at my husband, teenage son and my beautiful ten year old boy and girl and smile with that same feeling of warmth in my heart that I felt that night and know that this is good. Equally as good.

The funny thing about joy is that it can’t be chased or grabbed at.  It’s like seeing a reflection in a lake and trying to pull it from the water. The minute you declare to the world “I want happiness!” It slips from your hands.  It’s not something you can have – like that baby I dreamed of.  I was chasing after it so hard that it evaded me. But now I know, happiness isn’t something you own, it’s something you are.

I had told myself over and over, “A baby will make me happy,” but what I didn’t realize is that nothing can make me happy…except me.  If I was discontent in a family of three and someone dropped another child into the mix, nothing says that I would then be happy. In fact I can pretty much guarantee if I was unhappy before, another child would not fix that.

My joy that evening eleven years ago with my husband and son came from being in the moment, content with where we were, three happy beings sharing a meal together.  Nothing more.  In that uneventful night, I had inadvertently opened up the window to my heart and allowed the beauty of the present moment to wrap around my soul.

After the twins were born there have been joyful times, but also some very difficult ones. I am still continually amazed and grateful for their presence in my life, but I know it is not their role to give me joy.  I have to do that myself.

The twins did not fix anything in my life, in fact they made it whole lot more complicated, however I am learning the importance of pausing, breathing, and making the space for joy to slip in, no matter where I am or what I possess.

The bottom line is if we stick to our old habits of dissatisfaction we will always find new things to yearn for.  Sure, I might have my babies, but what about getting a new house, or a new job? Dissatisfaction is a choice. The cycle is endless unless you choose to stop it.

We’re the only ones who can open up that window in our hearts and let the joy in, but we have to find ways to cultivate it.  This means finding ways to listen to our own hearts – through quiet, reflective activities like prayer, mediation, dance, walking, time with the people we love.  The more we relax and free ourselves from our desires, the more the light shines in.

Life is filled with gifts – from the act of witnessing the dew on a petal to the arrival of a brand new baby.  Whatever it is, it’s our choice to see the beauty.

May you always let the light of joy shine in.

Peace,

Becky

Buddha Under the Big Top

How Meditation Changed my Life, One Circus Act at a Time

My dad was a psychiatrist—an old school one who believed equally in the power of medicine and talking things out.  When I was a teen and started showing signs of anxiety and depression the natural course of action as prescribed by my parents was drugs and psychotherapy. These methods helped a great deal early on, but as an adult I found myself overly dependent on tools that no longer empowered me. So, four years ago, seeking something different I found a therapist who introduced me to meditation.

I began a practice as she directed, meditating for ten minutes a day, but it didn’t go as I hoped. I was fidgety and distracted, wanting anything but to sit in that chair. On day two I declared to my husband, “I suck at mediation.”

I returned to my therapist frustrated, and embarrassed.

“Hmm…” she said, thinking for a moment. “Why not try just meditating for a minute a day instead?”

Well this should be easy, I thought.

But about a week into my one minute practice, I still felt itchy and dissatisfied. There was no bliss, no joy, just total frusteration. It had become clear in my mind that I would never be a candidate for Buddhahood. So I quit.

However two years later, still plagued with discontent, I decided to try it again.  I ordered a book from Amazon: Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook by Ram Dass.

The instructions for sitting meditation were simple: Set aside time each day to be alone in the quiet, keeping the length of time and location where you meditate consistent. Then sit yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes and breathe. There wasn’t much more to it than that. Ram Dass suggested at first focusing solely on the air going in and out of your nostrils and nothing else. Every time your mind wandered, bring it back to your breath.

This time I started a practice in a different mindset. I went in to it knowing that a wandering mind was part of the game.  I understood now that there was no such thing as a good or bad mediator. Knowing this completely changed my experience.

So, for the past two years, every morning, I have sat cross legged in my special chair, eyes closed, timer set for twenty minutes, simply breathing.

Usually the first few moments of mediation are quite lovely.  I’m fresh and ready. I’ve got my mind focused on my breath. Life is good.  But then inevitably, a thought wanders in. If I’m going through something rough, this will be the time that that murky, uncomfortable feelings rear their ugly heads and I notice negative thoughts come to the foreground.

But I’ve learned to not give these thoughts or emotions any energy. Like Ram Dass instructed, I simply bring my awareness back to my breath. My thoughts inevitably wander again, so I do the work, bringing them back again, gently, with love. This back and forth may happen ten, twenty times in a sitting, but I’m learning that it’s not the “sparkly” movements  that are important, it’s the returning. I see meditation sort of like going to the gym. Every time you lift that weight, or do another sit up, you’re making yourself stronger.

On some days as I sit, I’ll admit, I feel really good, connected to everything, but lots of times it’s just me with my monkey mind in high maintenance mode. On those days I become convinced that there is in fact a three ring circus residing in my head. Not a real one of course—but some days I wonder.

The trick with my inner circus however is in the awareness. I remind myself that I am in the stands, not part of the show.  On these days, the key is in knowing that the fate of the world is not dependent on whether the tight rope walker makes it to the other side or how many clowns that day will get sprayed with seltzer. It’s all just a show. So, as I breathe I remind myself (no matter how hard those clowns are working to bring me into their antics) that I’m just the observer.

The tigers of my mind may be jumping through flaming hoops and a multitude of mental clowns may be trying to fit into a tiny car, but I gently, through my breath remind myself that what happens down there does not need my immediate attention.

During meditation this morning, in the center ring of my mind was a doozy of a performance. Right there (dressed in a sparkly leotard) balancing on a high wire was a looming thought:

How am I ever going to survive summer break with the kids home?

In my primary reality where I see myself as a writer and a mother, thoughts like this hold a hell of a lot of weight. In this realm, not only do I have a book to write, but I also need to make sure the kids don’t drown each other in the pool or spend the next three months eating nothing but Hot Pockets.

Important stuff, right?

But the truth of the matter is, in the realm of meditation, as I breathe slowly, the identities and jobs I subscribe to are not even real. In the moment I am nothing but my breath, a quiet observer in the stands of an otherwise chaotic big top. How liberating it is to be able to let go of all my worries, even if sometimes it’s only for a moment.

I’ll be the first to admit, lots of days my meditation doesn’t end in sublime moments of rainbows and bliss. Some days I’ll check my meditation timer three or four times, fighting the urge to get my day moving.  As with everything, some days are harder than others, but I am learning that the effort itself is what is key.

In spite of the “work” required for mediation,  good things have come from my practice.  I’m not sure outsiders would even notice, but it seems that I don’t linger on negative thoughts quite so long. I forgive quicker, love stronger. And more often now, when I’m on my morning walk and the light hits the leaves just right, I find myself pausing, quietly watching, wrapped in an effervescent sense of joy.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still be cranky, obsessive, jealous, and moody, but somehow these circus acts don’t last quite so long. Problems arise, but now I’m not as frequently a victim of my own circus mind.

The number one thing I’ve learned with meditation is compassion for the self. For those of us who tend to be self-critical, perfectionists, or fixated on deadlines and time, mediation provides an absolute freedom, as it trains you to forgive and let go. Like a mother gently guiding her child away from trouble, when we wander, we gently bring ourselves back to a place of safety, over and over. In the moment of the breath, there are no standards, no anger, no judgement, just a loving, subtle sense of calm.

I used to take all that noise in my head very, very seriously, but now, during meditation I often find myself smiling at thoughts and ideas that used to be seem like a really big deal. Believe it or not, the pageantry of my own mind is quite amusing. These days, when I see an image of Buddha smiling, I can’t help but wonder if he grins, not because he has reached the pinnacle of self-awareness but because he is also a witnessed of the “Greatest Show on Earth”–I don’t know, maybe these are one in the same.

Many of us put this notion of spirituality on a pedestal. Enlightenment is a serious thing, right? I used to think in order to find inner peace I needed to be solemn and only the right books, the right mediation cushion, and the proper string of mala beads, blessed by the Dalai Lama himself would bring me salvation.  I believed that whatever this ‘bliss and oneness thing’ was, it was far from my reach. But it’s not.

Happiness is always just a breath away. It resides in all of us, in that precious moment of finding our center time and time again. I now mediate when I’m peeling carrots, sweeping the floors, listening to music, kissing my kids goodnight.  All it takes is the awareness that you are not the circus of your mind…just a happy observer, finding joy in the moment of being you. All you have to do is breathe.

Secrets of a Professional Snake Charmer

Seated safely behind glass, an audience of  twenty-five onlookers watch as Carl and Anne Barden mindfully bring out six plastic boxes to a well-lit table. Each one is labeled respectively: cobra, coral snake, cottonmouth, rattlesnake.

Carl removes an angry five-foot long creature from a drawer labeled “monocled cobra” and lets it loose on the table. Instantly it rights itself, “standing” with its tell-tale hood flared, its eye on the crowd.

cobra snake.jpg

Carl moves about like a Kung Fu master, shifting gracefully, fearlessly around his “opponent”. Then with nothing but a modified golf club, he secures the snake to the table, just below the head. He then grabs it by the throat and brings the snake to the window for the crowd to see up close. Mouth open, fangs displayed, the snake is clearly pissed off.

That’s exactly what Carl wants.

When he knows the cobra is sufficiently worked up, Carl dips it’s fangs into a glass jar. Onlookers gasp as the yellow liquid is excreted into the vial. Carl swiftly returns the snake back into its warm little drawer, tucks it away, and pulls out another snake. According to Carl the snake has “paid its rent” and won’t be asked to perform for another fifteen days.snake coral milk

The Reptile Discovery Center, in Deland, Florida is home of Medtoxin Venom Laboratories, where Carl and Anne educate audiences on the nature of poisonous snakes and allow guests to watch as they collect venom samples for research and anti-venom purposes.

My family and I have seen this venom extraction here five times now and honestly, it never gets old. What impresses me more than the snakes themselves is the gentle, fearless dance that this “snake charmer” and his assistant do time and time again.

snake carl assistant.jpg

After the “show” Carl was asked about the number of times he’s been bitten.

“Eleven, but every time it was my fault, not theirs,” he said, making clear that snakes aren’t the bad guys. He explained further, “All the snakes want to do is curl up safe and cozy in their warm boxes and then I come around and bring them out into this bright room…” Carl clearly feels deep compassion for his venomous friends.

This last time we were there, as I was watching these snakes ooze venom from their mouths I was struck with a realization…

This relationship Carl has to his snakes is not unlike our own relationships–both with the people around us, and more importantly with our own “snakes” within.

Like the charmer’s snakes, each of us is simply trying to get by with the tools we have been given. When we are not mindful of our actions, we are animalistic in our behaviors, reactionary. Most of us do not go seeking trouble, however if we are prodded, our snake-like emotions emerge and we behave in ways that can hurt others, as well as ourselves.

But as our friend the snake charmer showed us snakes are not inherently evil. They simply are what they are: Snakes. He expects nothing less, nothing more. Treating a rattle snake like it was, well, let’s say a kitten would simply be foolish.

Our own snake-like tendencies can be brought to the surface merely by the complications of day to day life. When this happens our dark-side emerges and sometimes, when it gets bad enough, we strike. For humans “striking” can be lashing out at others, but it can also be lashing out at ourselves, acting jealous, greedy, needy, or hopeless. We each have our own personal snakes. There’s no reason to be ashamed, angry, or afraid of these parts of ourselves. We are what we are.

The trick however is to recognize is that we are also the snake charmer.

It is our job to keep our personal snakes in line. How is this done? Just like Carl does. Understand the implicit behaviors of our own inner snakes and those around us. When we can learn to do the dance of the snake charmer, our serpents are kept at bay.

A good snake charmer knows all about his snake’s venomous dark side, yet is not scared. He shows up and does his work every day. He loves his snakes, for they are his life and livelihood. The secret? The more he charms them, the more balanced and mindful he becomes…and the less he is bitten.

The greatest part of the snake charmer’s journey is that as he develops the skill of taming his inner snakes, he also acquires the greatest skill of all—the ability to transform the most toxic of venom into something that has the power to help and heal.

Now that said, the snake charmer will make mistakes. Of course he will! He is only human. Errors happen. All the time. In fact, the other day, I watched a cobra lunge uncomfortably close to Carl’s leg. But Carl did not falter, instead he reacted with kung fu deftness and gently corrected for his error.

The goal is thus to keep learning, dancing, and developing our skills and in doing so we are able to “extract” wisdom from our errors and eventually heal ourselves (and others!) along the way.

Listen closely to the calling of your own soul and the dance of the snake charmer will be yours for the keeping.

Peace and love,

Becky

The Five Noble Truths (according to the Beatles)

the-beatles-20

I’ve been listening to the Beatles a lot lately.  In fact, even though their music has been a back drop to my life since I was a kid, I still can’t get enough of them.

What astounds me about the Beatles is their timelessness. They were my parent’s music, yet my kids love them as much as I do.  On one level their music offers these brilliant surface messages.  On this layer they act as an accompaniment to our daily rituals, our love lives, our hopes and aspirations, but then when we listen more, we are touched by something even deeper that speaks to our core….to who we really are as humans.

Few musicians, actually few artists in history, have done this as well as these four “boys” from Liverpool.

Along with my Beatles listening, I’ve been reading a lot about Buddhism. The Buddhists have the Four Noble Truths which speak to the basic core of the human condition….as far as I can tell, Buddha had it right…but dare I say? So did the Beatles.

"And these are the Fab Four Noble Truths."

In honor of two very different, yet impressively similar wisdoms, I’ve put together  a collection of core “Noble Truths” pulled from Beatles songs–words that echo in my heart every time I hear them…

The Five Noble Truths (according to the Beatles)

All you need is love

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream

Nothing is real…and nothing to get hung about

Love is all and love is everyone

Let it be

   Ahh…such simple words, but oh so powerful as well.

Tell me, what did I miss here?  What Beatles lyrics ring true for you?

Goo goo g’joob to You,

Becky

Just the Beginning – a poem

aurora-web

Thoughts,

too many to name,

populate my head,

speaking half-truths as if they were the authority.

Today I decide-

That no longer will I let the roaming beasts roar,

no longer will I let

the illusionary needs of hungry ghosts

dictate who I may be.

Today, for the first time

I look myself in the eye

and say

no more

to cloud building

no more

to idol constructs

no more to games

where we’re all slated to loose

Today

I stand here naked

Not wanting,

Not needing

but being.

Be here!  Be love!  Be mighty!

Rest your worries, my love.

The end is not near…

this is just the beginning.

I’ve Been Thinking Too Much

girl-worry-woman-blog

Hello. My name is Becky Pourchot and I’m an over thinker.

If there was such a thing as Over Thinker’s Anonymous I’d be the president. I’m a pro. Some days I think (and think some more) about all the energy I wasted in my life brooding over things that didn’t deserve any brooding.

Tonight, fed up with the overthinking I’ve been doing lately, I walked down to the beach (two blocks away), sat down, closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out. I relaxed and let my heart open. Within moments all of my frustrations and fears seemed to fly off into the air, dissipating with the clouds.

Over thinking is an interesting thing. I may at first feel all mellow when a thought will pops in my head. Alone, a single thought can be beautiful and simple, but when worry and the need for reassurance kick in that problems start happening. When left unchecked, pretty soon a tower of fear and noise populate my once peaceful head. My mind has been known to travel from tranquil to end-of-the-world status in mere minutes.

When I was a kid these weighty thought clouds were all encompassing. In fact it got to the point at the age of fourteen that my parents took me to a psychiatrist. Pretty soon my clouds of overthinking were no longer just mental weather patterns but illness with all kinds of dire names: depression, anxiety, OCD.

Because I came from a medically focused family, medications were quickly prescribed and in time my thought clouds lifted-slightly. However as well intentioned as my parents and the doctor were, what they failed to tell me was that the drugs couldn’t “cure” me, in fact it was ME and me alone that had the power to change the climate of my own mind.

Forty years later I’m finally getting it. In the past few years I’ve learned what Glinda told Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz “You’ve had the power all along”. I’ve learned to manipulate my moods and the weight of thoughts with simple actions. All it takes is a faith in myself and a lot of practice.

For me I’ve developed a series of tools, like a life-sized tool kit that I pull out when I’m getting stuck. We’ve all got our own set of tools, it’s just a matter of recognizing and cultivating them. For me it’s meditating, dancing (turning on the music real loud and dancing like mad), baking, listening to music in the car, working out at the gym, or riding my motorcycle. Sometimes the best thing I can do is just sit and pause, maybe eat a piece of fruit real slow, and savor every detail of it, the texture, the flavor, the snap of the skin in my mouth. Buddhists call this mindfulness. Slowing down to appreciate minute details always seems to help me.

Over time I’ve developed a pretty good awareness of my different mental states. When I’m all wrapped up in whatever life hands me, I pause and think: “Oh man, you’re really caught up in this, aren’t you?”

There’s no judgement, just recognition.

Then I find a quiet spot, close my eyes and breathe deep. All it takes is maybe five breaths now to settle back into a place of joy. The longer I sit the “lighter” I feel. The weight of my thoughts and worries is lifted and I feel more at ease. I often notice a little smile on my face as my heart opens up with joy.

What I’ve learned from this new found “power” is that the weightiness we give to life is not real. It’s just a heavy illusion, layers of thoughts that act like veils, covering all that simple joy that resides at the center of it all.

I will be honest, some days my tools have been less effective. Sometimes I’m out with friends and I’m so wrapped up in whatever is going on that I lose my center and some days, alone I dig myself in so deep in my mind that it takes several “tools” and some hearty distraction to get me out. The more I learn to recognize my states of being and the more I train myself towards this lightness of being, the easier it is to get there.

I was told back when I was a kid that the mental illnesses I was diagnosed with would be with me always, however I no longer identify myself as “sick”. In fact I’m healthier now than I even have been before. Sure, I may brood more than the people around me, but rather than allow myself to be a victim of my mind, I choose to use my weakness as a point of growth.

I look back to when I was a teenager, trapped in my fear, and I think, “Holy cow! Look how far I’ve come.” I struggle, yes, without a doubt, but I also, for the first time feel like I’m the one in charge as I learn to navigate this wonderful life.

Peace to you,

Becky

 

Life Beyond the Minivan

life beyond minivan

When I was about ten my mom got me a book called What’s Happening to Me by Peter Mayle and Arthur Robins. It was pretty much the hippy parent’s guide book to puberty, complete with cartoon sketches of sperm and girls in training bras. I remember my friends and I would flip to the pages of girls and boys in their varying states of puberty and marvel at what we would become in a few short years.

The thought has crossed my mind that it wouldn’t have been cool over the past couple years if the guys who wrote that book had made a version for us forty year olds, you know: “So You Want to Buy a Motorcycle: Revelations of the Midlife”, with cartoon drawings of 40 year old women getting their kids out of the minivan, or men test driving convertables.

For me, and I think a lot of women, the metamorphosis in our 40s is less about changes in our bodies (though that is happening as well!), but more it’s a transition from our mundane existence into finding our true selves.

My life is good. It always has been. I have a wonderful husband who listens to me and provides for the family as much as we need. My kids are smart and clever and (relatively) well-behaved. We have always enjoyed family dinners, vacations together, evening bike rides in our quaint little beach town, but a few years back something inside me started tugging. Actually it did a lot more than tug, it shook me to my core. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and the room would feel cold, my heart beating deep in my chest, in what felt like an out of body experience. It was as if some external source was telling me “You needed something more”. I had no idea what was going on.

During my days I’d look at my husband, my kids and feel riddled with guilt. How could I even entertain the idea of being anything but a mom and wife to these good people? Yet as the months passed I kept feeling it, this calling, a yearning for a life beyond carpool lanes and grocery stores.

Pretty soon my thoughts began to wander and I started planning imaginary escapes to far away places, scheming more and more on ways to get away. These were all fantasy of course, but their presence in my mind became so prevalent that it took on a sense of realness.

Meanwhile my life outside the house was getting more and more exciting. I had made lots of new friends and my writing career was budding. I was more socially engaged than I ever had been before, but as I did this I became more detached from my family. It was clear that I was happier when I was out and about, then when I was home.

One day, in the midst of this change, I visited a friend who is a hypnotist. During hypnosis she did a basic healing exercise where I was asked to visualize the blood in my veins going to and from my heart. As I followed her words something remarkable happened—it felt as if my heart had burst open with joy, like a warm white light was glowing from my center and I was filed with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing.

For days afterwards, I swear I felt like I was a teenager who had just found herself a new boy friend, totally in love, but not with a single person, with everything! The people I met, the songs on the radio, the play of waves on the shore were all divine.

Unfortunately after a few days the sensation wore off, and I returned to my sense of isolation. So, with guilt as my constant companion, I went into therapy hoping to bring myself emotionally back to my family. Talking to someone worked in the short term but inevitably I always returned to a state of yearning.

Around this time I bought myself a motorcycle and taught myself to ride. This was a wonderful, empowering outlet for me. So, I continued with my writing career, took regular walks on the beach, and kept tapping into things that brought me to a place of wholeness. Peace became my prerogative.

Around this time I took up mediation and fairly quickly I was able to tap into that heart center that I found in hypnosis. On command I was now able to awaken that inner joy. My daily practice became an exercise in simply being love.

As I read spiritual books and quotes from the masters I realized that the thing that had been calling me had always been my own heart. It was a call for joy. A call for divine love. I awoke to the possibility that maybe conditional love had driven my life thus far….an unhealthy play of give and take, neediness and want. I was seeing how flawed these sort of relationships were and was learning that unconditional love, even in small bursts, was completely possible.

Of course, knowing a truth does not make releasing old habits easy, so one day, still steeped in the muck of guilt and desire, I told my husband I wanted to get away alone. One night. I reserved a room in a bed and breakfast about an hour out of town, packed my bags and rode my motorcycle away from home.

While I was there, I spent time alone journaling, writing letters to the people I love, listening to music and crying, purging myself of the twisted pain I left back at home. In the morning my host, (who I’m pretty sure was an angel), fed me and shared her stories of travel and motherhood. She was both a spiritual being, deeply connected to that same love I was uncovering, yet also wonderfully present and grounded as a mother.

As I watched her cook breakfast for her guests while pausing to wipe dirt from her two-year-old’s face, I had an ah-ha moment.

I had compartmentalized my spiritual awakening, separating the divine sense of yearning and adventure from my plain, seemingly mundane sense of family. All this time I resisted my role as a wife and mother, opting for something outside myself.

As I rode my motorcycle home that day I felt a change. I got it. Life is not always about outward adventure, it’s not always about attaining the next big goal, sometimes it can be (and more often is) beautiful and subtle.

What I had been searching for was actually with me all along. Love is within, it is in the details of a leaf, the creases of your lovers eyes. There is nothing wrong with looking outward, there’s nothing wrong with yearning, in fact desire is what pulls us forward, but it’s when that yearning, that sense of seeking takes possession of you that the problems occur. When illusion and desire become your master, the path home is obscured.

What I have learned on this journey is that Love is alive in EVERYTHING…it’s not out there waiting for you on top of some big mountain, or hiding in some deep cave or in some sacred book or some magical mantra. It is right there, in the mess of cracker crumbs that your child left on their chair, in the completed art project hanging on the wall, in the playful teasing of a friend, in the greeting of a stranger, or the dance of clouds across in sky.

The call I heard those nights a few years back was not of some external being telling me to run away, but instead it was my own heart asking me to find my source.

As I walk this daily path away from fear and towards my heart center I am reminded that guilt, worry, jealousy, anger are all just spoiled children vying for attention in my mind. They need not be given power. In fact the less we give them, the quieter they become.

Love is calling. Listen to its song and you will be free.

Peace is in your palm.

In Love,

Becky

Announcing my Brand-Spanking New Book!

Oz Sucks - Becky Pourchot

I am thrilled to announce the release of my 8th book!!

Oz Sucks!

Poor Jayne…after being blown to Oz in a hurricane, she’s stuck paying for the damage she made when she crash landed on a munchkin’s roof top. Now she works days for the Wizard selling trinkets at a small tourist trap in the Emerald City and nights scamming munchkins with her fake fortune telling skills.

Jayne is no Dorothy–that’s for sure.  She’s cynical and brash and really just wants to get the hell out of Oz.  It’s not until she meets Nick, a handsome Kansas transplant, who seems to know her game better than she does that the everything changes and together they get swept into a world of manipulative new age witches, munchkin mobsters, and a set of illegally traded gem stones that may just be Jayne’s key to getting home.

Curious?

Follow these links to Amazon:

KINDLE

PAPERBACK

Peace,

Becky

 

 

Making Love with the Universe

 

11111398 - young couple in love, with pattern and overlay effects

Back in college I had my fun. I dated a lot of guys…and yes, I will admit, slept with almost as many. I loved the pursuit, the thrill of the chase. I loved the rush of endorphins, that beautiful feeling of falling into place with some sexy, long haired musician, poet, or chem studies major. Together we’d get into this great groove and in doing so we’d both feel this wonderful rush, that illusionary high of falling in love.

Unfortunately the fun never lasted. At some point either I’d see through the guy’s theatrics, or he’d see through mine and the grand illusion would fall apart. We’d be left looking at each other thinking, “We’ll this isn’t at all what I thought it would be,” and so, we’d both go our separate ways, each seeking out the next wild ride.

I think I was more into the act of falling in love, the seeking part, than I was into the actual relationship. I loved that starry eyed, dreamy reassurance that all was right in the world when I was pursuing someone. It was during these times of “falling” that I felt best about myself, confident, at peace, all was right in the world. As our eyes locked I felt okay, because he “loved” me and I “loved” him. It was a wanting game to the nth degree, both of us in our subtle ways using each other to fulfill the illusion of wholeness in our hearts.

This is a lonely way to do things. It feels so good in the short term, but in the long term you’re left feeling empty, either angry at the other one for not being what you imagined or loathing yourself for chasing after something that was never quite real.

Now many, many years later, as a married woman to a good husband for twenty years, with three kids, love looks a lot different. It’s slower, more subtle, shared in a smile, a brief hug, or a moment at the dinner table with the kids. There’s no sparklers, no fireworks—not usually anyway.

This is both good and bad. On the upside, with marriage there’s no gnawing sense of yearning, no continual search for the non-existent Holy Grail. Marriage is a good place to rest and just be. However I think as married people we start to feel a little lost, as we look back at the “fireworks years” and wish for the excitement, that shower of adoration from another person, and that cosmic, love-struck sense of belonging. As adults we end up having to find that balance between 4th-of -July-Amazingness and that homey need for comfort and stability.

I have to say that I am a seeker by nature. Whether I’m fueled by some professional curiosity, wanting to try a new food, travel, or just ponder life’s big questions, I love to be in the thick of things, because that’s where I learn best. To some on the outside I may look like a woman who is never satisfied, not unlike the “me” from my college years, but instead I see myself as a woman hungry for understanding, determined to uncover life’s truths, and live a fully engaged in life.

So in my pursuit, this question of “what is love” has fascinated me a great deal. That one little word seems to describe SO many moments of my life—from listening to Pink Floyd with my boyfriend in his dorm room back in 1993 to watching my husband hold our son for the first time, to enjoying good conversation with friends at a local burger joint. These are all love, without a doubt.

So, here I am, seeing love in all these many forms, but I’m still faced with an eternal question that keeps coming back: Why am I not wholly satisfied? Why do I still seek love? Why at the end of the day, do I still feel this little spot of emptiness that whispers “I want more”?

Lately, as I do my daily mediation, listen to music, dance, drive in the car, I ask this question to myself, then let the answers percolate from my heart. When I do, I tell you, the answer is compelling. It comes on strong. So strong, in fact that I find it hard to ignore.

In these moments of quiet I find myself “being love”. My whole being feels like it is actually falling in love. Not with a person this time, but with everything.

It’s crazy…like that college romantic tingle I used to get looking into some guy’s eyes, only this love is not fueled by anyone on the outside. Instead, it’s fueled from me. Everything has a glow. It’s ALL love. Suddenly the songs I hear aren’t just about “getting the guy” they’re about finding love within myself, with my family, with the world! It’s ecstatic grace.

Life lately is one great trust fall, not into anyone’s arms, but into the cosmos. As I dance within this strange, beautiful truth, I see that everything I sought in college, in my marriage, maybe my entire life is right here as a pure, simple light that shines on everything.

In these moments, I am a lover, not to any one person, but to it all. I am loved (as you are!) by the vastness of everything-call it Buddha-mind, Adonai, Krishna, the Universe, Christ—whatever you wish. To me it is simply called “Love”. The thing I wanted all along.

I’m new to this path. …and yeah, it’s not perfect. In fact, that hole still feels like it’s there, just much, much smaller. Lord knows, I will fall in old patterns. I’m a pro at old patterns! But that’s the fun of it all, falling, dusting yourself off and trying again. Perfection is just a goal, not an end point.

Love is there…the trick is to not spend too much time chasing after the illusion of what you wish it could be, or trying to hold on to moments or people, because they felt right at one time … instead the secret is to just hang out and savor the really juicy stuff, the eternal stuff, in the spaces of quiet of our meditations, where we love ourselves, no matter what, and where we love others, not for who we want them to be, but who they truly are.

And so I say to you…

Make wild passionate love…with the sky…with the grand roaring sea! Do not be afraid to love this great planet and the beautiful people who grace our lives, for when you let go and truly love, everything that you love, loves you in return. There is nothing to fear out there. Nothing. Let your heart guide the way, step forward, and savor our divine connection.

Peace,

Becky