As we walk through the Easter season I'm always humbled to see how the teachings of death, letting go and resurrection arise in what's happening both within and around me.
This time has been (and continues to be) a time of great undoing: all the things and people and choices that are not in alignment with love and respect for all are falling away left and right both individually and collectively.
Hafiz says that when this happens it's like God is shaking you upside down, cleaning out all your pockets, or as my teacher Chinnamasta Stiles would say, it's God's way of polishing you.
I used to think that when things weren't perfect or that something was "wrong", that God had abandoned me or I had done something terrible to "manifest" whatever was happening (an egoic and limited way of thinking about spirituality if you ask me).
But the ancient traditions point to challenges as part of our spiritual path and as the direct way that we continue to evolve and essentially get closer to God.
I have come to know, appreciate and respect the undoing process (or Lent as the Christians might define it) as I know that it creates in me a humble heart, one that doesn't have the strength to poster, wear masks, or try to be something I'm not.
Through learning how to be with the natural experiences of life and all they include (kid tantrums, a sunrise, a difficult conversation, the sweetness of small children) I am somehow more able to sit with others in their suffering with a kind and humble heart.
Before Jesus came as the ultimate teacher, everyone was expecting a messiah who would be militant, domineering, and physically strong -- someone who would use his brute strength to bring order to the world.
But I love that the savior comes as a simple, poor, human being with an open heart who continues to let life happen to him -- a man with no real agenda other than to serve God, love others, speak the truth, and follow God’s path for him no matter how arduous or unnerving.
Through radical acceptance, he shows us a new kind of power: one that comes from within and is rooted in faith, service, honesty, and compassion for all.
Let me be clear that acceptance is not apathy: ignoring the suffering of the world, staying in an abusive situation, or losing our zest for ourselves or our lives.
Jesus, by no means, was a wallflower.
Rather, acceptance helps us to meet the moment as it is, trusting that the Divine Intelligence that brought us to it will show us the way through it.
God has often whispered in my ear that the changes we long to see in this world will happen from the bottom up, from kind, curious, open-hearted humans, and that the best way that change can happen is with us.
With great respect and love,
This week I had what I like to call a holy breakdown – you know, when all the stress, pain and fear you’ve been stuffing with food, work, and social media just suddenly spew out in all directions and – while you’d like to blame everyone else – there’s no denying that the only common denominator in all of the drama is you.
This time the breakdown started with a really pissed off, super dramatic, door-slamming complaint about how Shawn does NOT help me pack lunches. In therapy the next day, after my nervous system had time to regulate, I got more curious about what that whole lunch-packing explosion was about which – Shawn and I both knew – was the tip of some underlying iceberg I was unwilling to look at.
The truth is I’d just been carrying so much and it all caught up with me; weary, weary, I’m just so weary, is what finally came out as the eyes of my compassionate therapist blinked back at me.
I’d been keeping the family treadmill running at full speed.
Making brave and scary strides with my work.
Revisiting grief (again).
Navigating incessant global anxiety.
And somehow striving to be supermom through it all.
But I have to admit that I’m grateful for my holy meltdowns as they always have a way of indicating what’s going on with me on a deeper level and point me in the direction of what my body and Soul are really needing (but my thinking brain is unwilling to look at).
Once I cleaned up all the mess from the meltdown I realized that I needed a day to be still, to sit with my sorrow. No driving. No phones. No working. No talking. No distractions.
A spiritual talk on grief.
A soothing bath.
And space for a much-needed cry.
I realized that what was driving all the go-go-going (if I’m honest) was the fear of slowing down and sitting with my sorrow.
Something sacred and sweet happens when I do, though.
All those tight places in my chest open up. My breath finds its way back into places it couldn’t access and I’m somehow slower, kinder and more tender with everyone I meet.
I’m freed from the constant itch to impress everyone and can find a soft, steady comfort within myself that feels really natural.
This is the gift of grief that comes when we learn how to sit with our sadness rather than run from it: when we face everything and rise rather than saying eff everything and run (as the 12 steppers like to say).
The other night my friend and I sat with tea processing the senseless violence in Russia and Ukraine, wondering what it must be like to be one of the mothers juggling her children while on the run, what it must be like to be the mother of a Russian soldier, wondering if she’ll ever see her child again.
My fellow griever told me that back in the day there were women whose job was simply to wail for those who were grieving because those enduring the pain were too shocked to do so themselves.
And so we quietly leaked tears together over our tea, considering all the pain in the world, and taking a moment to feel it for those who could not.
While I know lots of people who believe the spiritual path is all about love and light and positivity (said from one recovering spiritual bypasser to another ;)), the ancient traditions suggest that there is a way to know God that’s much wider and deeper than that: that it’s possible to see all the moments of life as sacred and experience all of our feelings while continue to keep our eyes on the God who is greater than them all.
Yoga Teacher and Student, Speaker, Writer, Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Human