Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rejection or Projection?

Many of us have experienced rejection and abandonment on this journey of life. Abandonment seems to be primal in many ways and I suspect it has something to do with entering the human experience and the inherent illusion of separation that goes with it. I've also noticed that it's one of the core beliefs that when recognized for the illusion it really is leads to a true sense of oneness.

In the unconscious state of separation however, we often say things like I feel abandoned or I feel rejected when the people we may have counted on aren't there for us. But when we look at these concepts a little closer we see that they aren't actually feelings, they're interpretations of what is going on. We find ourselves alone and confused so we interpret that experience to mean we must have been abandoned or rejected somehow; but is that really the truth? Could that be in an inaccurate interpretation of events?

I remember realizing many years ago that what I had been interpreting as rejection and abandonment was really a projection. It was what I was actually doing to myself in my unconscious way of dealing with feelings and emotions. Since then I have witnessed this effect countless times in others. I have also noticed how surprised people are when I point out that the effects of ignoring their inner world of feelings and thoughts is really a form of rejecting and abandoning themselves. It doesn't take long for them to realize the accuracy of that assessment however when they stop and consider it for a moment.

You cannot continually ignore what arises within you and expect to feel wanted and accepted others. If by chance you do, the likelihood of finding ways of rejecting them sooner or later is pretty high. We may be able to fool ourselves for a while but beliefs invariably find a way of being expressed sooner or later. Either we interpret the actions of others to be as we treat ourselves or we treat them that way. To reject or be rejected, that is the question.

If you have had abandonment and rejection issues, I invite you to notice how you treat yourself and see if there's actually a call for a more compassionate and loving way to be with those uncomfortable feelings when they arise. Just a moment or two of being fully present to whatever is going on can make a world of difference. It isn't about spending all your time and attention doing this, just a few seconds to say 'I see you, I understand, I'm here, it's OK'. taking flight

Then carry on with your day, letting those from whom you had been expecting that kind of attention off the hook. You'd be surprised how people respond to freedom from demand and projection.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Way

I just watched the movie called The Way with Martin Sheen, written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez on pay per view. It never made it to our main stream theatres here in Edmonton but I had heard of it several months ago and have been watching for it ever since.

It is a beautifully done journey story that is impactful and heart-warming. I was left with an open-hearted feeling when all was said and done and for me that is the mark of a tale I can relate to.

I won't say much about it here but I do want to note that one of the more profound messages for me was not to give up, not to stop even at 'the goal' but to go beyond. That's where the real treasure is, beyond what we think we want to achieve.

Here's the trailer for it. I think you can even watch the whole movie on YouTube.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Breaking Through The Mist

It's interesting to observe those old familiar patterns play out when I find myself getting concerned with that which is of the world.

I have long felt that any organization, no matter how 'spiritual' or altruistic in original intention, develops an ego which is really a self-identity. Everyone who is part of the organization is part of this ego. This is not a mistake or something that is to be avoided, it is the nature of organization just as it the nature of the human experience. It is part of the evolution of consciousness to be able to see it for what it is and move beyond it rather than rejecting it.

What fascinates me about ego though is how quickly it becomes about its own survival. Much of what we do as human beings, particularly when we perceive a threat of some kind, is really based on ancient survival instinct. What we fear, however, has become distorted over time and what we think we need to fight in order to survive is really a construct of mind. So it is with structured groups or organizations as well.

Many times in this life experience I have stepped away from organizations. I have had a variety of 'reasons' for doing so but as I look back on it all, there has always been an element of feeling somehow swallowed up by the organizational ego because I have a tendency to over identify with whatever organization I am deeply or emotionally involved with. In other words, it has not always been easy for me to be in the world and not of it. It still isn't. The main difference now is how quickly I can catch myself when I do get caught up in it all.

I currently find myself  in the midst of a situation with an organization that not only feels very familiar but where I have recognized a pattern of behaviour which has played out in a way that I am not all that thrilled about. It has been interesting to observe that while some of my behaviour is not what I would have preferred, it is actually the perfect opportunity for me to bring compassion to the egoic pattern and to see that viewed from the larger perspective it is actually perfect. It would appear to be quite a paradox to recognize behaviour that is not in alignment with how I would like to be in the world along with the perfection of how everything is unfolding. It really only happened when the projections were reclaimed and peace was made within. Once this happened there no longer seemed to be any need for justification or blame or judgment based on guilt. It is what it is and all is well.

I have no idea where Life is taking me with this situation. It may be complete for me, it may be just the beginning of something, it may be irrelevant and in the end I really don't know what any of it means. The only thing I can really do is to keep calling the bluff on the beliefs and opening to what is beyond the mists of illusion.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Capacity for Love

In recent months life has taken me in the direction of celebrating people's lives by presiding at memorials, funerals and life celebrations as part of my work. I love this aspect of my work and find it fits in perfectly with my work as a relationship coach helping people make peace with their inner being.

It is the nature of death, particularly of someone close to you, to take you deep into the feeling world whether you want to go there or not. This is a place where we are most real in many ways because the feelings are often so overwhelming they cannot be controlled.

This is also a very confusing time for many because of the depth of the feelings of not only sadness but also appreciation, love and even joy, all co-existing seemingly at the same time. If we are open to what we are experiencing, we are given the opportunity in these times to break out of concepts and beliefs in duality and separation and truly enter into the oneness of Life. When you are brought to that place of intensity where all the feelings are co-mingled and all you can do is be present to them, you soon realize that they are really all the same thing. All feelings (emotions) are the movement of life through consciousness and when the filters of judgment are removed all that is left is the beauty of Being.

I imagine this may be difficult for many to comprehend, especially when our culture has been so geared toward rejecting what is generally termed as 'negative' feelings. Those of you who have lost significant others and really allowed yourself to grieve will know of which I speak if you take a few moments to look back on your experiences from a broader perspective.

There's a wonderful quote from Kahlil Gibran that I have used at some of my Celebrations of Life: "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?"

There really is no need to resist the knife of Life when you behold the beauty that is being carved out.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's Your Story

What's your story? Is it a tragedy, a comedy, a romance, a thriller, a who-dun-it, a history? Is it totally engaging or is it something you can pick up and set down anytime?

One of the things I am acutely aware of is that hanging on to any story, whether it is deemed to be 'good' or 'bad' seems to be the root of a great deal of pain, confusion and unhappiness in people's lives. When the story feels good, there is a reluctance to let it go or to have it change so there is a clinging that is impossible to maintain because life is a constant flow in its physical expression, always shifting and changing. The same is true when the story doesn't feel very good or is downright tragic; I've noticed a great reluctance in most people to let those go as well which doesn't really make sense on the surface but is much easier to understand when you look a little deeper.

When you are caught up in your story, no matter what type of story it is, there is usually a sense of being that story. Your I am is totally identified with your story so no matter how painful it is you hang on because you think it's who you are and if you don't have this identity then what?

Before a deeply rooted identity can be released and seen for what it is, just a story,  there usually has to a major crisis or the illusion that there's a better story to cling to. But what if that isn't the truth about you either?  Ah, now we enter the land of the unknown which, for various reasons, most of us decided at some point or other was not a safe zone. So the need to keep the storyline going at all costs becomes tantamount and deliverance from the confines of whatever story we are telling ourselves about who we are is averted. Phew! Dodged that bullet! Who wants to be free of the story of ME? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love, Love, Love

Since it's Valentine's Day I guess I should write about love. I did that in my last newsletter but alas, it's the big day so why not go with the flow?

I have to admit, I'm not much of a fan of the old romantic notions of love. Could be my age or how much pain and disappointment I experienced in the past in my efforts to be loved when I didn't see myself as particularly loveable but there you have it. Coming to realize that love isn't what I had once thought it to be and that it wasn't something to be gotten but rather what I am already has been the most freeing experience of my life. Funny thing is, once I realized that one simple thing I was able to receive it too. Go figure.

So here's my Valentine's Day thought:

There is nothing out there to get,
There is only the love that you are to express.
Remember to start with what you have neglected within,
That place where pain and despair likely dwell,
And you will undoubtedly be
Delightfully surprised to be set free!

Namaste and Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 10, 2012


For some reason as I was in my reflective time this morning the idea of grace popped in. The definition of grace as found in Mirriam-Webster is:
a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b : a virtue coming from God c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace. 

Anyone who knows me would know that these definitions really don't work for me. I love redefining familiar terms. What I was experiencing this morning when the word showed up was a sense of oneness and flow. That place where the guards are all down, energy is bubbling up and there is awareness of the perfection of what is. That is how I would define grace. Perhaps in some ways it is similar to the dictionary definition except that as I see it, it isn't bestowed on certain people and not on others, isn't selective in any way, it's always present and available. 

If it's always here then why don't we experience it all the time? Because we aren't always available would be my guess. When my mind is busy figuring and thinking and solving the problems of the world it's full and it's distracted from the present and from the presence of grace. It's like hiding a light under a blanket. The light is there, all you have to do is remove the blanket. As soon as I stop the busy-ness of mind there it is! There are times when the busy-ness is so convincing it's hard to even imagine stopping, breathing and just being present to allow grace to lead the way. Yet there it is, always waiting for our attention. 

Someone mentioned to me the other day that it really was just too simple and I most certainly agree. That's undoubtedly why we resist it so much. We love complication. It seems to give us some kind of meaning and purpose even if it is so very unnecessary in order to be what we already are. 

Could the is-ness of life truly be what we have been seeking all along? Hmm....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Woman in Black

My beloved and I are real movie buffs. It's our favorite activity on date night (Fridays) and we see a pretty broad range of movies.

Yesterday we took in the new release "The Woman in Black" starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. I wasn't really excited about going to see a spooky movie but I did want to see Daniel in a new role and I must say he was very good in this one. There wasn't a lot of dialogue but he was able to convey a lot with his expression.

Anyway, the movie was very spooky and they managed to make me jump a lot even though I pretty much knew what was coming much of the time. I loved that the ending wasn't what I expected though and what was so beautifully portrayed and the main point I want to talk about here is the way non-forgiveness affects us.

The whole spooky story was about the effects of non-forgiveness and even though we generally don't experience it such a dramatic way the point is still made that non-forgiveness binds us to the past and it blinds us to what is. There is no peace in non-forgiveness (non-acceptance) there is only the restless desire for revenge in one form or another. Revenge can look pretty passive in some of its forms (ie taking on the victim stance)  or it can be aggressive in doing whatever it takes to make others unhappy too. The outer form doesn't really matter, the real suffering inherent in non-forgiveness is within the one who does not forgive/accept. They are doomed to relive the experience they cannot accept over and over and over without surcease, even though they may think they want to be happy on a conscious level.

This reliving of the past is usually happening so deep in the unconscious that you may not even realize it's happening. If you are constantly reliving experiences that are not in alignment with peace and flow chances are there's something you have not yet fully accepted and made peace with. It's amazing what can happen when you finally come to terms with the past with compassion and understanding.

Remember, you are not your story.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Life of Compassion

All my work these days is centered around both learning and teaching self-compassion. Notice I did not use the word self-love, mainly because that is one of the many overused and over-abused concepts in the spiritual/self-help/self-realization fields. It often elicits behaviours that are really more about indulgence and self-loathing than self-love. Self-compassion is not taught in our culture and even where it is part of the spiritual teachings such as in Buddhism it is still not widely practiced on a day to day basis.

Given that compassion is about the desire and willingness to alleviate suffering one must first be able to recognize the suffering that is inherent in the human condition which is the condition we all find ourselves in as we journey through this physical experience.

As long as we're struggling, conflicted and self-critical we're likely locked into some kind of illusion. I know for myself, the (belief) illusion that I should be different than I am is one that pops up fairly regularly and I don't care how often it does, it's an idea that I have come to realize is false no matter how convincing or enticing it may appear. This sometimes shows up in the context of whether I fit in with different groups or not. I've never really felt that I fit in, starting with my family of origin. Nothing wrong with that, many of us on this journey of awareness have discovered the same thing. Where it becomes uncomfortable is when we start thinking that we should and if we don't then there's something wrong.

Spiritually speaking we are indeed all the same; one Life, one Mind, one Divinity. From the human perspective we are all unique expressions of the One with wildly diverse perceptions, experiences and purposes. I don't subscribe to the idea that we are all meant to do the same thing here, i.e. realize who or what we really are. On the contrary, some are drawn to Self-realization, some to religiosity, some to atheism, some to break out of the status quo, others to maintain it and absolutely everything in between and beyond.

So here's where the self-compassion comes in. When the struggle within pops up, do we react or respond? Do we judge, criticize, try to squelch or reject ourselves (and/or others) or do we recognize the human condition at play and respond with compassion for both self and others?  It isn't that one is the right way and one the wrong way, the real question for me is what am I called to now?

Life is really the only thing that's happening. Why not make it a life filled with compassion? Sure beats the alternative...