Love In The Present Moment

I’ve been wondering lately if it might be possible to find love and express love in everything I do.

I ask myself, is this what Yeshiwa (Jesus) and Buddha did? Is it what Mother Teresa, and Gandhi did? Does the Dalai Lama live this way?

When I ask myself this question, my first response is- no way!

No matter how spiritually connected I may feel at a given moment, I don’t think I could remain conscious enough to let love flow through me like this.

There are just too many triggers for me in life. I’m not even sure I could do this for thirty minutes straight. Could you? Could any but the most spiritually gifted among us?

So, I think to myself, maybe it would be a good idea to set my sights lower. Perhaps there might be a way to increase my awareness enough so that I could hold others gently in my heart and offer them some love, realizing that even if I couldn’t do it all the time, this would still be better.

But I suspect, even this would be very challenging, and this starts an inner dialogue. Part of me has already decided it is not possible to find or express love in every moment, so why try? This part of me is ready to let myself off the hook and I haven’t even begun.

Another part of me enters the conversation with this thought. If you only do the things that are easy, what will you ever accomplish in life. Are you not going to try? Are you that afraid of failure?

A third voice requests my attention. It’s quieter, but there is power in it. It asks me a simple question. What would it change for you if you could find and express love in all that you do?

I hear snickers in the background from the first two voices and then silence.

There is a peaceful momentary pause, giving me a chance to respond. Well, I thought, it could change everything for me.

I would be able to lighten up, to release my fears, to draw others into my world, to smile with ease, to open my heart, to give, to graciously receive, to hug with my whole being. A list flows out of me. A truly wonderful list. I can feel its presence and its power.

The first voice returns and speaks loudly, sure, this sounds very nice, but how do we get from (here) where we are to (there) where we want to be? Do we have to put on rose-colored glasses first?

The third voice takes no offense and offers soothing words and a question. Do you like treasure hunts?

We ask the third voice, where did that come from? It waits patiently until we answer.

Well, yes, we do.

Wonderful it responds. I want to share a secret with you. You knew it at one time, but have forgotten, so let me remind you.

One of the most beautiful things about this world is that we’ve hidden treasure everywhere.  Every single experience you will encounter throughout your life has treasure in it. Some lie on the surface and are easy to spot. Others are buried deeply and may require you to dig to find them. But each one of them is worth pursuing. They may at first seem dusty, but each will sparkle and shine once you polish them.

How do we find them we asked?

You find them by opening your heart and expressing love. The more you do this, the greater the love you will experience. It’s up to you and what you choose. Choose wisely, my love.

All the voices quieted but one.

I want to try, it said.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Light Switches

You may be saying to yourself, “a post about light switches, really?” Yes, really. Stick with me and see what you think.

Recently, my family and I went on vacation together in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. It is absolutely gorgeous country, with panoramic views of high peaks, rivers, lakes and heavily wooded hillsides. It is a sure reminder to me that I benefit from time spent in the wilderness. It renews me in a way nothing else does.

But, as with most every trip, before we could get there, there was a lot to do, starting with packing our two vehicles. We’d decided to take them both so it wouldn’t be so stressful deciding which things we could bring.

The downside of this mindset is that we brought far more stuff than we really needed. We’d say something to each other like, “Oh, there’s space, we’ll just bring it.”

As a result, both of our cars were pretty heavily laden, which meant a lot of time and energy to pack them before we left and to unpack once we got back.

We got a fairly early start for us and had already decided to eat at one of our favorite restaurants on the way there. This set us back a little time-wise, but it was worth it.

Upon arrival, we checked out the “cottage” and discovered it was more like a spectacular vacation home. It had four bedrooms, two and half bathrooms, a kitchen, a “great room” (a massive room with beautiful exposed pine paneling, from floor to ceiling, which was about twenty-five feet above us), a screened in porch, nice deck and access to two washers and two dryers. It was simply awesome.

After unloading the cars, we decided it was time to grab some dinner and treated ourselves to a wonderful meal at a local restaurant, before driving 15 miles to the nearest grocery store to buy our first round of provisions. By the time we got back, put away the groceries and arranged all of the stuff we’d brought with us, it was late and we were both pretty exhausted.

I went upstairs to the master bedroom and laid out all of my clothes on one of the storage shelves in the large walk-through closet, then brought my travel kit into the master bath. When I was done in the bathroom I turned off the lights. At least I thought I did.

It was still very bright, so I went back in and tried to turn off ALL of the switches. There are five in total (for one bathroom).

Nope, still very bright. What was going on?

By now I was overtired and not functioning particularly well. And, angry that I could not turn off the lights properly. I walked back into the bathroom, determined to accomplish this simple task.

It was then that I discovered two very large recessed sky lights, which were letting in a major amount of light. They were actually bathing the bathroom in a beautiful soft, warm glow.

My next thought was, “duh!”

That’s what I grew up saying to myself when something incredibly obvious had happened, meaning, “of course, you should have noticed this before.”

I immediately realized this is often a pattern for me, to make quick assumptions, as if they are facts. I know my fatigue was a factor, but, recognized the statement was still true. A part of me closes down and ignores some rather obvious things and I suffer needlessly because of these lapses. It would be so much better to step back when I encounter a situation that doesn’t make sense to me and breathe for a moment and take a whole new clear look at the issue.

This principle holds true for me for so many other situations and I hope to be able to remember the skylight story and the awareness it provided.

Just a funny FYI. The cottage had 55 switches in the parts we had access to. That’s more than double the number in my whole house, including my basement and garage. I’m glad for the ‘switch’ simplicity I have at home.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Default Settings

I used to think that I reacted to situations one by one, and responded depending on a variety of factors. But, the more I’ve paid attention, the more I see how untrue this is.

What I actually have is a series of default settings, sort of automatic presets that kick in before I consciously think about them. It’s not that I want it this way and it often creates problems for me, prompting me to ask, “how did it get this way?”

For years, I would try to answer this and other questions aimed at explaining ‘why’? Most of these explorations failed and I found myself spending excessive amounts of time analyzing things, only to realize I couldn’t move forward, if I remained stuck in the past.

To me, it’s another version of the same dilemma, when applied to the future. I can plan and speculate all day long, but the truth is I can’t predict or experience the future before it arrives, so why try?

Okay, so what’s left?

How about accepting that my default settings exist, then see if they serve me somehow. Do they make it easier for me to cope with my life, without creating unnecessary problems? If so, perhaps I’m better off because of them, so why not keep them.

But if they don’t serve me in some way, maybe it’s time to consciously choose to either release them or to substitute new defaults for them, ones that improve my life.

But I wonder, how is this to be done?

One way comes to mind. It requires a little bit of work, but I suspect it’s well worth the time.

It involves an imaginary bell that you set to ‘ding’ every time one of your default settings gets triggered. Images often help, so imagine one of those small bells that dings when you enter a store. Pushing the door open makes it swing forward and back and ring, alerting the staff to your presence. Using this imagery and connecting it with your awareness provides an alert to you.

Here’s how it works for me.

One of my defaults is impatience. It shows up a lot, way more than I would like. If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you already know one thing that sets it off, slow drivers. But, rest assured, there are many others; toasters that take forever to toast (only to burn it when I’m not watching), playing the game UNO, waiting for the shower to get hot enough to step under and long customer lines, to name a few.

So, let’s take long customer lines as an example.

Awareness is the key and the sooner I realize I’ve been triggered, the quicker I can adjust. And, the faster I can pull out my prepared speech. What speech, you might ask?

It’s really more a set of questions and it goes something like this (with my likely answers in parentheses).

“You see what’s happening, right? (yes) You know this situation always creates upsetting feelings for you, correct? (yes) Do you really want or need to continue experiencing this? (no) So, what other response could you choose? (ummm) Okay, I’ll help you. You could release it, telling yourself it’s not worth getting upset about. (I’ve tried that without success) Or, you could choose a new reaction (like?). You could look around your environment for something interesting, you could talk to someone, you could sing to yourself, you could close your eyes and breathe or any of a hundred other choices (do you think that would work, really?). There is one way to find out- give it a try the next time the bell dings. You can’t know if it’s worth it until you try. So, next time, listen for the ding and make a wiser choice.

Seems like a good idea to me, and maybe my impatience will get a chance to rest, opening me to new possibilities. That’s the plan.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

Who Are Your Life Teachers

The summer I was eight-years-old my family moved from Watertown to Delmar, New York. One of the first things my parents had to do was to enroll my sister and me in our new schools. She went to Junior High School (yes, there was no such thing as Middle School) and I went to Delmar Elementary School, just two blocks from our house.

It snowed so much in Watertown, sine it’s so close to Lake Ontario, that we missed a lot of school. In fact, we had so much snow one year, that my sister and I could have jumped out our second story window and not gotten hurt. Maybe buried, but not hurt.

The local school officials in Delmar felt that I should repeat third grade in order to catch up with the rest of my class. I didn’t agree with this decision, but I was a kid with no power, so off to third grade I went.

Fortunately, it only lasted a week and they reconsidered and put me in a fourth-grade classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Hosey, was incredibly welcoming and made sure I felt at home. Not surprisingly, she is my all-time favorite teacher. Not just because of her welcome, but for all that she taught me. We did all kinds of fun stuff and she engaged every one of the kids in my class.

I’m not saying she made things easy, she didn’t. She challenged us and helped draw out talents we didn’t believe we had. She asked us to search for meaning in what we were studying. I loved the fourth grade and I loved her.

I guess the feeling must have been mutual, because many, many years later, when I was a bank manager, she found me and opened an account at my bank. And, when I moved to a new branch, she moved with me, keeping us connected.

It was a beautiful thing to be able to help her with her needs and it felt like a kind of repayment for her guidance, kindness and generosity. I consider her one of my best life teachers.

When I was thinking about this topic, I recognized that it’s not just teachers who have profound effects on us. Sometimes it’s one single seemingly random connection we have with someone or some specific life event that occurs that changes our direction.

And, it’s not always what we label as ‘positive’ experiences that teach us, even though those may feel much better.

Sometimes it’s the ‘negative’ experiences that alter our lives and teach us important and valuable lessons. These instances can shape us and help us grow, if we allow them to.

So, who are your life teachers? Your spouse, parents, grandparents, school teachers, clergy, bosses, coworkers, those in government, police, friends. The list can be very long.

And what about your experiences?

Have you found that an illness (yours or someone close to you) has brought you wisdom and an increased awareness about life?

What about a job loss or relocation to a new home or losing a friend? Have they shown you new insights and challenged you to find hidden meanings in your life?

So many situations present themselves to us in ways we find difficult to understand or accept. Sometimes we fall into despair or become angry because of the circumstances we face. It makes me wonder about all of the teachings I’ve missed because I wasn’t open to them.

On my best days I think back to Mrs. Hosey and realize that the challenges that approach me all have meaning and value. I try to keep my eyes open and see if I can find the hidden gems, just like I did in her class.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.

More Heaven

Imagine that you are a being of light. You have form, but no tangible substance. And as light, you flow.

Imagine that you know everything there is to be known. For you, there are no unanswerable questions. You are pure awareness, pure consciousness.

You are part of the ocean of bliss. It is your home and you call it, heaven.

I was a part of this bliss. I am still a part of this.

This matters to me because the awareness of this represents an unbreakable promise, that I will return home, after my earth life is complete. There is immense freedom in this assurance.

There was a moment in time where I chose to shift my awareness and decided to live a life of a spiritual being, as a human being.

There was a ceremony for me in heaven. A passage. A losing and a gaining.

I chose to experience the ‘great forgetting’, where I released my awareness of all things, so that I could live without knowing the answers to all of my questions. I chose to shift my perspective so that I could create and experience every part of my human life with newness. And I accepted the gift of free will, the most precious of all gifts.

With free will, there are no requirements or obligations upon me. This is an incredibly beautiful thing, when I wholly accept and embrace it.

This matters to me because I am able to choose my own direction without restrictions, regardless of what my culture teaches. I can consciously choose to correct whatever I see or feel are my mistakes, not because I have to, but because I want to. Everything is open to me.

With the gaining, there was also a giving, because in this transition I chose to believe in separation. I chose to leave behind the truth, that I am part of the one, the whole, the holy.

I chose to accept what my culture taught me, that I have missing pieces and that I should live my life searching for them.

I accepted that (god) was not personally knowable or touchable and that my only way to the truth was through someone else’s voice.

And I did not see that fear was my beautiful messenger.

I did not realize that all of what happened to me was a part of my plan, so that I could create and experience anything I desired.

Understanding this, matters to me because I can wake up and abandon this illusion if I choose. I can give up my search for any missing pieces, in favor of accepting the truth. The truth that I am already whole. And I can live this human life, knowing that (god) lives within me, in each and every moment, and that when my human life is complete, I will be reunited with bliss and admitted to heaven.

Note: To make a comment, please click on the Post Name, then scroll to the bottom of the page, write your comment in the box and hit enter.