god

Making Love with the Universe

 

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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

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Death and Life Entwined

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Today I attended a funeral for an aunt I never knew well.  What little I knew of her, I must say,  when my family would visit with my aunt and uncle and cousins I always admired her brash, out spoken nature. In spite of our infrequent visits I wanted to go to her funeral.  Family is family, love is love, no matter how distant.

My relatives have done very well for themselves. They live in southern Florida and exemplify the image of the Jewish family who always played their cards right and made it big. Their life is luxury, and they live it well.

The funeral was in an opulent funeral home, with large Greek pillars out front and floor to ceiling marble. The sanctuary was filled with wealthy men and women, country club goers, all with New York and Philadelphia accents. It felt foreign to my Midwestern upbringing, but very quickly all awkwardness melted away.

My cousins and uncle sat in the front row, holding each others hands, comforting each other when they broke into tears. As I watched this tenderness, heartbroken thoughts of the last funeral I had attended came to mind.

This funeral took place in Northern Florida, with a working class, non-Jewish family grieving the loss of my friend’s dear mother. She was a single mother, a strong source of love, who devoted much of her life to solely supporting her seven children. Making ends meet was never easy.

Given these two family’s backgrounds, you’d think the differences would outweigh the similarities…yet in many ways these two families, in this moment of sadness and loss were so similar, it was striking. Love, tenderness, vulnerability do not discriminate, because in the end grief is grief, love is love. No matter whether you’re living in a multi-million dollar home or just barely paying rent, sadness is still sadness. Heartbreak hurts, no matter who you are.

Today I saw my family’s humanness, their beautiful, bare tenderness, just as I saw with my friend’s family ten months before. Both share a deep love for one and other, and a devotion to family that keeps them steady in times of weakness.

There’s something so beautiful about death. In our broken moments of grief, we are at our very worst but we are also at our best. It is in these shattered times that we are in our truest form. We are not the wealthy banker, the waitress, or the homeless guy on the street corner; we are just humans, sad and broken in our loss. It’s in these moments that we become beautiful in our tenderness.

Most people I know fear vulnerability. We’re supposed to be strong, be champions of our own lives. “Never Quit” everyone says with rigid tenacity. We chant “life is good” and smile even when our heart aches. But when someone close to us dies, something happens and we can no longer hold up that front, and even if it’s just for a moment we break as we realize that we and everyone we love is fragile.

It’s during this window that our view of the world shifts in radical ways. We’re rudely awakened to the fact that most of this stuff—the things we wrap our identity around—doesn’t matter, not one bit and we’re left in this raw, vulnerable state that is both terrifying and absolutely beautiful.

As horrible and awful as these feelings of grief are, these rare moments to me are like gold, for this is the time when the heart splits open and in our bareness we are reminded who we are. It is then that we see that we are not the costumes we wear or the identities we take on, but instead we are simple, delicate beings. Human to the utmost.

There is nothing wrong with grief, there is nothing wrong with sadness and there is nothing wrong with letting your heart break open, because when you do, you expose that raw, bare piece of yourself. In that moment you have the opportunity to stand up and say “Here I am!”—not the cooperate investor, not the single mom, or the garbage collector—just YOU. Pure, simple, beautiful you.

When you celebrate who you truly are, a beautiful creature of dichotomies: strong and weak, radiant and ugly, fearful and brave—something great happens. The healing begins and suddenly there’s space for the sun to shine in.

I believe death is beautiful…because it is also life. The two are so closely intertwined that you can’t pull them apart. The more things end, the more that they begin.

Today at my aunt’s funeral I did not see that dark, ugly thing called “death” that people spend most their lives running from. All I saw was love. And although someone magnificent is missing from that picture today, my aunt is still here in her truest essence, because love does not die. Everything that she ever truly was lives on, moving outward like a ripple of golden light that spreads, touching everything in its wake.

Life is horrible, life is ugly, but it is also so exquisitely beautiful. In this world, you can’t have one without the other, in fact I think on some level they might be one and the same. Acknowledging this heart wrenching…yet astonishing truth is one of our greatest challenges we have as beings on this planet, but it is also holds one of our greatest rewards.

Do not fear your brokenness…it is your gift.

May light and love guide your path always.

Peace,

Becky

 

Great Expectations (according to Luke Skywalker)

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Remember the scene in Empire Strikes Back when Luke is facing Yoda’s trials in the cave on Dagobah? There he faces Darth Vader in a lightsaber battle, only to find after decapitating him that beneath Darth’s mask is Luke’s own face.

That’s how I feel lately…..maybe minus the light sabers.

Some days I feel like I’ve been up against insurmountable “bad guys”, the kind of people who I seem to meet over and over again in my life. These people come in many incarnations, with different guises, but their MO is always the same.

They are never satisfied. These are people who beg for your love, yet nothing you do will satiate their need. Everything is conditional. They are what the Chinese call hungry ghosts. In China they depict these people as ghoulish beings with over sized stomachs and tiny mouths. Never can they feel full.

And so all along my life I complained incessantly about these people, who seemed to haunt me at every turn. I even wrote a book series about them (www.HungryGhostBooks.com) As far as I was concerned I gave and gave but never received.

In these scenarios I always saw myself as a bit of a hero—the do gooder. You know, like Luke Skywalker. I was the bold giver, who loves these people so much that she risks losing herself, wasting away, in some sort of glorious act of devotion…A picture perfect martyr, no?

Lately this whole Luke scenario keeps popping up in my head, especially when I’m meditating. I know this is weird, but once in a while, as I sit there alone with my breath, an intrusive thought pops up and I feel myself not as me but as these other people, the ones who have caused me so much trouble along the way. Part of me is thinking, “What the f#$@”and I try to push it down. When it doesn’t go down I push harder.

I’ve learned however that the most important part of meditation is to simply be with your thoughts. Don’t feed them, but also don’t fight them.

And so, that is what I did…I sat with the yuckiness.

In the process I’m learning something…I am not just the good guy in this movie I call “My Life”, in fact many times I am the never-satisfied one, demanding more of my friends, of my husband, of my kids than they could ever give. And like my adversaries, occasionally my expectations are so high that I put them in the position of the feeder, scooping their version of love into me faster than I can swallow.

This is a horrible thing to think about yourself, but I believe, like all of us, I too am a creature of the darkside. It cannot be denied.

When we’re in those dark winding caverns, we have a choice. With our light saber drawn we can knock our enemies down, we can run from their unshrouded masks, or we can acknowledge who they really are. Light and dark.

Rather than hating our enemies we can pause and acknowledge that maybe in some ways they are only us in disguise.

Loving one’s self, without condition, without expectation is perhaps one of the hardest tasks we are set out to do in this life. We all are hungry ghosts on some level, looking for an idealized  image that will never be, but when we wander the corridors of life, sometimes we see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and we know, even in our darkest moments that each of us hold in our hands all of the beauty and perfection we ever wanted.

And we are forgiven….unconditionally.

In this maze that we all walk through, all we can do is love. I say that over and over again…it’s so simple but it’s perhaps the only real thing we can do.

Love and forgive.

May the Force be with you.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

2015: The Year I Found my Heart

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I reclined back in a big, lazy boy chair in the office of Sue David, an 85 year old hypnotist who I had met a few weeks before. I didn’t even know why I was there really…curiosity I suppose.

Sue’s voice was even and calm and my mind easily followed it as she led me through a healing exercise. Guided by her words I envisioned my blood pumping through my body bringing nourishment and health throughout it.

I was listening, feeling calm and to my surprise completely in control…in fact I remember wondering what all this business was on focusing on healthy blood and such, when something she said, I don’t remember what exactly, triggered something deep within me.

It felts as if my heart burst open…flooded with love, like liquid gold pouring out in a perpetual ecstatic flow. Warmth covered my body and in that moment I knew all was good. All of it. Even in the suffering, I was loved.

I don’t think Sue’s intent was to send me into a euphoric journey, but for whatever reason it worked. I spent the next few days feeling a gentle, blissful high that no drug, no medication could equate with.

The thing is it kept going. I started doing self-hypnosis daily and because I’m not good at listening to what anyone tells me, I crafted my own version that somehow melds hypnosis with mediation, shamanistic journeying and prayer. Really, I’m just sitting alone in my bedroom, breathing deep and letting myself be, dropping the pretenses of all my fears, simply speaking to the darkness and the wisdom within. Maybe I’m talking to God, maybe I’ve connected to my soul, or maybe it’s simply mild psychosis….I don’t know…frankly what you call it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever it is, I go back to it whenever I can and let life flow through me, reminding me of who I truly am.

I could end the story there and you’d think “Well then, this chick has it all figured out” but quite the contrary. Life is life and the pendulum always swings, and I will tell you, glowing heart or not, this has been one f%*@ing hard year.

Probably too existential for my own good this golden outpouring of my heart opened me so far, so wide, that I was left no longer knowing which way to go.  I questioned everything…my purpose, my destiny…but instead of rewriting my book entirely, abandoning the solid path, of all things, I bought a motorcycle. So now rather than giving up on everyone I love, I not only have my devoted husband, my kids, and the strongest, most fantastic friendships I’ve ever had, but I also have a cute little Honda Rebel 250 that reminds me I can do whatever I set my mind to (plus gets me to 70mph on the open road!)

I have learned through my dear friend Marybeth (aka Marydreds!!) the phrase “let go, and let god”. I use it almost daily. And I tell you, when I let go of my need to control, my need to micromanage all the little outcomes in my life, miracles happen. These aren’t big miracles, like the parting of the red sea or anything, but instead they are little messages, signs, as if the Universe is saying “ yes….yes…you’re doing everything as you should.” It is in these moments I feel an out pouring of love towards myself, my friends, strangers, “enemies”!! I see their struggles, their fear, the pain, and love them unconditionally.

I’m just a baby on this road. I’m making it up as I go. Like all of us, my karmic path is thick with crap I’ve accumulated over a lifetime (or more!). Most the time it feels like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m saying the wrong things, getting upset over silly stuff, feeling jealousy, greed, rage…but something has changed, just a little. I’m not taking it all too seriously. I’m standing a few feet back from my problems looking in and smiling, because for the first time I see the whole of it…like seeing the yin and yang, not for it’s separate pieces, but for its whole.

A few months back my wonderful friend Tim was teasing me incessantly for my overuse of the word amazing. Life is amazing…and it’s beautiful…but it’s also horrible and hard. The trick is as I’m learning from him is to walk the line, not get so swept up in the extremes. Bliss is fantastic.  Joy and euphoria are the things that make life sweet, but the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

The Buddhists, as I understand it, try to remove themselves from the wheel of life, the incessant spinning, the ups and downs. And so, following this logic, I go into this new year, standing back…ever so slightly, fully participating, yet also aware there is beauty and joy in letting go and not holding too tight onto the “should be’s” and the illusions of “ever afters.”

As I rode my motorcycle the other day over the huge bridge that crosses into Flagler Beach, looking at the expansive Atlantic Ocean I once again felt that ecstatic outpouring of joy.  As the blissful sensation filled my being I smiled knowing everything is perfect, just as it is.

Life is hard, but it is also magnificent.

I don’t have all the answers—not in the least, but I know right now, in this golden moment, life is good.

Peace.

May the wisdom of your soul whisper sweet words in your ear…and may you always be ready to hear it.

Happy holidays!!!

Love,

Becky

Catching Sunbeams: The Delicate Art of Stopping Time

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This weekend I went to a symphonic concert featuring the music of one of my all-time favorite bands-Led Zeppelin. Hearing the music performed live was intense and wonderful, perhaps one of the highlights of my decade.

As I sat there in the darkened auditorium and watched the violin bows moving in a synchronized dance, beneath the lights that poured on the stage, I felt as if the music was rushing at me like a wild wind, sometimes forceful, sometimes delicate. Two hours of perfection. When my favorite song, Kashmir played, I listened mesmerized. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted sit there into the night, just soaking in the continuous rolling, luscious sound.

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Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that made me think of this previous night. A friend was talking of the inevitability of change and reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms: “This too shall pass.”

This saying works great when things are bad, but what about when things are really, really good? Like that moment during Kashmir. I didn’t want that to pass. I wanted to hold on tight to it and not let go.

Time is a tricky beast. It is slippery and the more you try to hold on the quicker it slips away.

I experience this a lot in life. I try to grab onto time, but it never stays, in fact the harder I grab, the faster it slides from my hands. I want constancy in my life. I want to preserve the magic, the goodness, maintain in those perfect moments.

The other night my eight year old twins were lying on the bed with my husband and I all wrapped up in the blankets, when my sixteen year old son came in and jumped on the bed too. In a rare moment we were all there rolling in bed, laughing in one big tickle pile. It was ridiculous and wonderful. I was laughing so hard tears came from my eyes.

However moments later, as these things go, someone got elbowed, another got tickled too much and the crying began. That precious little sliver of time was gone, as quickly as it came.

It seems just as we get a hang of things, they change. It’s incredibly frustrating. Some days all I want to do is yell out “Wait! Wait! Please stop. Can’t we rewind a minute?” Yet this life of ours is tenuous. It is a beam of light pouring in through a window. It cannot be caught. It can’t be held. And no matter what you do that sun will drift past your window, in its continual dance forward.

I’ve learned a little trick that I use from time to time in those good moments. Rather than worry about losing time, I take it all in, breathe and smile and love it for what it is, not for what it should be or might be tomorrow. When I allow for this perfect balance, it feels as if I actually become the moment. I cease to be the woman who is obsessed with preservation and become one who just is.

When I sat in the concert hall I tried this technique. I refused to give into my desire for control and power and I simply listened. I closed my eyes and let myself feel that music fully…so when it ended it was okay, because I knew there was another moment to come, and another and another, and they were all good.

Eventually the show was over and my husband and I with our two friends walked over to my favorite bar for a drink, and that was perfect too. Every moment was different, brand new…and every moment was perfect in its own beautiful fragility.

It feels as if we have little control over our lives…but I sometimes wonder. What if in fact we have absolute control? What if we treated these moments as if they were just a tiny feather resting lightly in the palm of our hands and opted to not hold on? If we did this, I mean REALLY did this, would those moments…or even life itself…. become timeless?

I think yes.

Change is necessary, loss is inevitable, but when we sit back and just let the music play, everything works out just as it should.

Beautiful and Broken: Redefining Depression

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I have been depressed…well, I think that’s what you call it. I have felt unmotivated to write, uninterested in finding a job, failing to eat right, or care for my home. I have detached myself from my family and opted for time alone.

Then this morning I woke up at 4:30am, as I do sometimes, and I simply starred into the blackness of the room. Rather than overthink and brood (like I do so well), I just breathed in and out and allowed myself to shed myself of all the noise, the guilt, and the feelings of inadequacies that stirred within.

As I did this I tried something. I let the darkness speak back to me.

With gentle, loving firmness it said:

I see you running around in life, chattering away in your head, trying to make something of this little existence of yours.

“Ta da!” you say. “Look at me. I’m a writer!”

“Ta-da! Look at me I’m a good mom!”

“Look how lovable I am!”

But it feels empty doesn’t it? Because these labels, these actions are less about You as a human being and more about what you want people to think of you.

“I am a woman who writes good novels”

“I am a woman who organizes events”

“I am a woman who makes people happy”

or on the flip side what you tell yourself when you’re alone….

“I am needy”

“I am a disaster”

“I am mentally ill”

…and on and on and on…

These definitions are you if you choose, but really, if you ask me? I think you’re just using these labels as a disguise for the real wonderful YOU that you are.

Be depressed if that is what you want.  This is your choice but recognize that darkness is only what you make it. Perhaps this “bad” feeling you have is simply the sadness of letting go—letting go of who you think you should be.

Depression is about fear, but I know you, you’re not really afraid, not deep inside. Inside you know the Truth of who you are. Depression is just another mask you wear.

Picture this—Imagine those marvelous little selves that you have created, each a beautiful work of art. Imagine all these versions of “you” hanging as paintings in a gallery, on the walls of a museum. You’ve got one titled “Mom”, one titled “Writer” one titled “Fun loving”, one titled “Clever” Look how nicely you’ve treated these images your whole life, with their nice golden frames, so perfectly placed for everyone to see.

But think of this, maybe they are not You. They are likenesses, merely facsimiles of you. The truth of it is that your “you-ness” is constantly changing, a moving target. You will never be the image on the wall, not really anyway, and the more you try to preserve yourself as those exact paintings you will fail, because those pictures are static and you, my dear, are not.

So now, as you stand there in front of your masterpieces, imagine yourself, one by one pulling them off the walls, as aggressively as you’d like. Imagine even, if you’d like, splitting each of them over your knee, sending an echoing crack through the museum.

And when you are done, settle yourself on the floor around the broken frames, the torn canvases, the paintings you called “you”.

And as you sit there, looking at the mess, let yourself feel sad. Feel that loss, that realization that maybe you’re not really who you said you are. Maybe you never even were. And as you look at the debris let these words come to you:

“Without those paintings I am nothing,”

Pause for that for a second and say it again: “I am nothing.”

It feels scary, maybe?

BUT What if…just what if… in that nothingness you are in fact everything…an absolute duality of all and nothing. What if as you shed these “supposed to be’s” you become simply YOU.

Look around at how beautiful and broken you are: a glorious, glowing fragment of all that there is.

Yes, you are mom, you are writer, you are friend, you are fun and clever but you are those things not because someone told you that’s what you are, you are those things because it reflects your essence, your Truth. In the end people don’t care about the “ta-da” they care about You.

Don’t be afraid to be nothing…because out of the rumble of emptiness comes beautiful, glorious You.

You are not depressed my dear, just walking the path of continually letting go.

A Fallen Jew Reflects on Yom Kippur

My uncle, my dad, grandpa and grandma….dressed in itchy clothes

For me as a child the Jewish “Day of Atonement”, Yom Kippur was the lousiest holiday of the year. We were forced to fast the whole day, wear itchy clothes and sit in services for hours while our bellies churned.
 
But I’m learning we did it all wrong. Apparently to some Jews it is a celebration of forgiveness–God forgiving you for all your shortcomings, all your failures and seeing you as the perfect being you really are.
 
Back as a kid we were taught to think about all the bad things we had done and then feel really guilty for them, then promise to never do them again, then do them again anyway because we never really resolved any of our issues.
 
The Jews in my experience didn’t get a lot of breaks. Life is hard, you feel bad about it, you feel better for a little while and then it gets hard again.
 
But here it is, this little gem of a holiday, a crystal moment where we get to bear it all to God…all our ugliness and then… there it is!  Forgiveness.
 
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could carry that spirit of that into everything we do? Forgive ourselves unconditionally for our short comings? Live life like it’s Yom Kippur every day (minus the itchy clothes, of course).
I’ve fallen from my religion, but I think tomorrow I’m going to observe this one, in my own way.
 
Its time for a clean slate.
 
“Yom Kippur is the happiest day that ever existed. It’s Christmas for Jews. But instead of gifts being dropped down chimney, we ourselves rise and are turned into the gifts we always wanted to be: our true essence, our true selves, pure and holy and as real as it gets with no more illusions.”
Elad Nehorai

Many thanks to Elad Nehorai whose blog inspired me:

Serenity Now!!

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I never quite got the mantra thing. Don’t get me wrong, I was right there with all the suburban housewives in my yoga pants doing the downward dog, all of us trying to squeeze the dissatisfaction from our lives with a pretzel pose. It may have worked for some of them, but after class I’d always get that taste of dissatisfaction lingering in my mouth.

In some classes we’d chant. This was the worst for me. It was like going back to my Jewish synagogue when I was a kid, trying desperately to divine something out of words someone handed me on a sheet of paper. In fact as a kid this sort of thing just made me feel more detached.

I often think of the episode in Seinfeld where George’s Dad went on a kick, trying to reduce his anger. He was told if he just said ‘serenity now’ his problems would go away. So, in true Seinfeldian fashion, George’s dad, misinterpreting the purpose of his assignment exploded in anger passionately shouting “Serenity Now!!!”

That was me in yoga class some days.

Yoga was nice.  It made me limber, I learned how to breathe, but I often found myself like George’s dad, arms to the air, on the verge of a heart attack, frustrated that I still wasn’t fixed.

So, as of late I’ve tried something new. I’ve been doing hypnosis, and oddly enough—it works. Hypnosis works under the principle that all those conversations we have with our thinking mind—the busy, crazy, fretful entity that it is—are unproductive. We tell ourselves “Stop eating all that crap” and we do it anyway because our subconscious desires are out of whack with the great, steadfast logic our conscious mind.

The head knows that eating a whole box of Little Debbie snack cakes is not a good idea, however if the subconscious mind, let’s say, is heart broken over a recent break up, it may think that eating all those oatmeal pies is a good idea.

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My teacher Sue David

In the case of the Little Debbies our subconscious and conscious minds are in disagreement and according to Sue, the subconscious wins.

In hypnosis, you talk to your subconscious mind and you go straight to the source of your problem. The theory is that because you’re communicating with the highly suggestible subconscious, in a state of peace, you embody the solution deep within you, and bypasses the noisy, neurotic  conscious mind.

I know it sounds like a gimmick to some of you (Tim Baker!), but I tell you it has affected me profoundly.

For me, hypnosis is powerful because it bypasses my anxiety ridden head games (for which I am a gold medalist!) and instead goes straight to my heart. It in essence shuts me up and says “cut the crap and just be.”

Several months ago Sue David my hypnotherapist (who does Skype calls if you’re interested!) told me that while I was under I would hear a message. She said to listen for key words that I could use to bring me to that mellow state.  Essentially she was telling me to find my mantra. This made me nervous. What if I chose the wrong one? Would it be good enough? How am I to know? (THAT’S the conscious mind talking!)

One day while I was relaxed and under self-hypnosis, I heard this: “I am Beauty, Love and Light”

Of course this wasn’t magic. It was just me—but a very relaxed, chilled me, that didn’t have the regular BS running through her head.

Here’s the cool part, with these words I felt an emanating force of love surrounding me, streaming from my pores. It was divinity, but not scary divinity like I was taught as a kid.

This was just the sheer understanding that it all makes sense. All of it.

All the stuff I worried about,  all my maddening seeking for perfection–it was all quiet. It was just me, these three words, and this beautiful, calm place I had created for myself.

And so, apparently I now have a mantra. When I go into my state of relaxation, ride the river of my subconscious mind I say those words to myself. It is in these moments that I am reminded of who I truly am…and the coolest part–when I come out of hypnosis and my kids are whining or I didn’t get enough sleep I still feel the power of the mantra.  There’s no magic, just quiet time with my heart and an understanding from my depths that I have the power to make change. I no longer need to be afraid.

I am beauty, love and light…. and so are you.

Peace,

Becky

The Day I Stopped Trying….

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I woke up yesterday morning sure as hell I was leaving. I was going to go to Marrakesh. I was going to pack my bags, kiss my kids and my husband goodbye and head overseas. Oh, I’d be back, maybe in a month or two but in the meantime I’d be off wandering open air markets, riding camels for fun, and eating all the humus my heart desired. That’s what one does in Marrakesh, right??

Frankly I knew nothing about this city. It’s in Morocco, right? But I did know- if I could throw a stone over the ocean, from the beach where I mediate each day, I’d hit this far off land.

And flying over the Atlantic to a distant world, where I wasn’t me, where my problems didn’t exist seemed like the best solution…because frankly I was sick of me….this me anyway.

“Traveling Me” wasn’t failing her family, her friends. “Traveling Me” didn’t have a house to keep clean, children and a husband to keep happy. She could make mistakes without causing a whole household to tumble. Traveling Me wasn’t needy, insecure, a victim of her own imaginary tragedies.

For months…years… I told everyone I was going to fix things… that’s right, everything I hated about myself. I was going to erase horrible Becky and bring in a better one….no…a perfect one!

I had a plan. I read books on how to be a better person, made motivational charts, wrote blog entries, gave myself mantras, prayed to the sun. Yet in the end I always failed.

The pain of imagining how horrible and unpleasant of a person I must be was getting unbearable…but somehow when I looked around, I saw that everyone still loved me, deeply. They didn’t care about my motivation charts, the mantras I chose. They loved me. Just me.

The only person who thought of me as a failure was me.

The day before my imaginary plans to Marrakesh began I was unloading cans onto the pantry shelf in our kitchen. …Actually I was shoving cans into the shelf because I had failed to clean it off, for weeks. It was overflowing . Yet another reason to loath myself. And so as I rested a can of chicken stock onto the stack, CRASH! The shelf collapsed causing a cascade of other collapsing shelves….and what did I do? I collapsed too. Right there in the kitchen. I cried and cried and cried. My eight year old twins came running into the room asking what was wrong.

What was I to say? I’m a horrible person? I’m sorry I failed you again?

I went upstairs to my room and sobbed until I reached exhaustion. I was so tired of failing.

Now here’s the thing about me, when it comes to emotional intelligence I’m not dumb. I understand my psyche quite well. I know I’m not a horrible person. I know people love me. I know this.  I  know I’m not depressed. It is just I keep playing forty year old “tapes” in my mind, tapes that say ‘You will never be good enough for the people you love.’

That’s one crappy burden to carry. In fact, it’s become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I get so sick of trying to attain imaginary heights that I say “fuck it! It’s not worth it anyway. ” Why bother?

And so yesterday in the face of my Marrakesh dreams I looked at my husband and said, “We need to leave.” He looked at me confused.

“I’m getting a hotel room in Daytona,” I said

So, we set the twins up with my 16-year-old son and we drove the 30 miles to Daytona Beach.

And during the drive, I poured it all out…all of it…about my struggles to be “good” and the “voices” who are telling me who I should be.  I talked the poor man’s ear off, and he listened, saying little, as I shared my bare ugly truth.

But here’s the deal, at the end of my soliloquy I felt better.  I realized maybe it all wasn’t so ugly. This needy, tired little girl was just a piece of me.  She is the one who tells me love is conditional, that love can only be attained through song and dance, though saying and doing just the right things.

But the truth is, love is not based on the state of your pantry, the nutrition content of the food put on your table, or for me as an author –the number of books I sell. Love permeates it all.

In the end the act of trying is useless. The true secret is being, because love doesn’t care how many hoops you jump through, love just is.

May you, in your journeys know that you too are loved by just being beautiful you. There’s nothing to prove. Love is all there is.

And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll see you in Marrakesh!

Peace

When Joy Slips In

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I walked down to the beach this morning.  We live just a few blocks away in a wonderful, small beach town in Florida called Flagler Beach.

As I walked I felt this welling of joy.  Absolute happiness.The conditions were right, the air the perfect temperature, the sun hanging low in its morning position…but this feeling wasn’t coming from the outside, this was welling up from inside, percolating like a bubbling spring.

As I stepped barefoot on the asphalt, it hit me, like it always does. The fear.  The caution. I have been taught for most of my life that ecstatic joy is in fact a bad thing–a symptom of a mental illness.  You know, the M word: Mania.  Up until this past year I’ve been the most dutiful of bipolar patients..constantly guarding against the “craziness” that might slip in.

But something happened when I went out on the beach this morning.  Out there with my toes in the sand I did my routine sun salutation, like a yoga prayer to the rising sun.  And as I brought my arms upward and gazed at the crystal blue sky I heard a voice.  Not a crazy voice…just me in my most open state.

The voice said simply, “Don’t be afraid of joy.”  And I smiled.

This was not a crazy feeling.  In fact, it was the exact opposite.  This was being truly alive.  Connected.

So please, tell me what you think.  Should us bipolar folk regulate joy, our connection with the divine in order to protect against a treacherous down swing? Do you “normal” people out there temper your happiness in order to protect yourself from hurt?

I’d love to hear your input on this one.  In the meantime I’m going to savor this joyous glow…..

Peace and joy to you,

Becky

http://www.beckypourchot.com