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Sunday, September 22 2013


Keeping Heart Open


       In The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer urges us to keep our hearts open – always.  Most of us, he notes, instinctively close our hearts to protect ourselves from experiences we don't like.


       "But closing your heart does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy…  Defining what you need in order to stay open actually ends up limiting you…  As long as you are defining what you like and what you don't like, you will open and close…  You are allowing your mind to create triggers that open and close you.  Let go of that.  Dare to be different.  Enjoy all of life."  (pp 46 – 47)


       "If enjoying a full life means experiencing high energy, love and enthusiasm all the time, then don't ever close…  You can learn to stay open no matter what happens in this world…  Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you are willing to close your heart over it…  Remember, if you love life, nothing is worth closing over.  Nothing, ever, is worth closing your heart over."   (pp 44 – 47)


       Inspired by his passionate message, I've been experimenting lately with keeping my heart open, playing with various ways to do so and feeling amazed by the difference it's making in my life.  There is so much to say about how to stay open.  Right now I want to offer a couple thoughts about what's been working for me.


       Be mindful.  Notice when you close.  Notice physical tightness and emotional contraction.  Notice the stories of fear and shame and outrage that swirl in the mind.  Pay attention to the suffering brought on by closing down.  Whenever we close, we suffer.


       Breathe.  Soften the belly.  When something painful or difficult comes our way (from outside or inside), we can breathe, soften and hold ourselves in compassionate spaciousness.  We can interrupt old tendencies to tighten, close, protect and defend.  We can bring care to our suffering self.  In the spaciousness of self-compassion, suffering melts.  When we bring love to our discomfort, we naturally open – first to ourselves, then to all of life.


       Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Just as closing down becomes automatic and habitual, so too we can develop habits of remaining soft and open.  It takes practice, lots of it – formal meditation practice and the moment-by-moment practices of staying present and embodied in everyday life.


       Staying alive – supple and free – is a conscious choice and a choice to be conscious.





Posted by: AT 10:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 12 2013


Deep Listening


       I just picked up The Exquisite Risk:  Daring to Live an Authentic Life, by one of my favorite authors, Mark Nepo.  He talks about the connection between listening deeply and the authenticity of spirit that is so essential for our well being.  "We must meet the outer world with our inner world, or existence will crush us…  If we don't assume our space as living beings, the rest of life will fill us completely the way water fills a hole."  (p. 11)


       "When we can listen deeply, we are strengthened to feel that everything around us lives within us and that everything within us lives as part of the world.  When we experience both the circumference and center of the circle of life at once, we are then in the larger Self, the Universal Self, as Carl Jung describes it."   (p. 4)


       "But how do we listen?  It is so simple and so hard.  So obvious to begin and so elusive to maintain.  In this lies the vitality of deep listening.  To keep beginning.  Over and over.  To keep emptying and opening.  And simply to keep listeningFor to listen is to continually give up all expectation and to give our attention, completely and freshly, to what is before us, not really knowing what we will hear or what that will mean.  In the practice of our days, to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear."  (p. 5) 


       "In truth, listening deeply and inwardly allows us to keep meeting the outer world with our inner being, and this mysteriously keeps us and the world vital.  Often, the nature of the dance cycles us from being self-centered to being other-centered to being balanced as an integral part in an integrated whole.  And when we're blessed to experience those balanced, integrated moments, it becomes clear that everything is relational.  Everything inside us and between us is circulatory – and ongoing exchange of what matters."  (p. 12)


       "In my life, I have known truth and beauty and peace to be ever-present companions that I often sit beside, bemoaning their absence."  (p. 15)


     Enjoy your listening Self.





Posted by: AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 01 2013



Joining the Listener


        Last night, I bought a book, The Untethered Soul.  I'm considering it as a text for this fall's Connecting group.


       In his first chapter, Michael Singer discusses the incessant chatter of inner voices.  These voices take many viewpoints and assume many "personalities".  Which one, we wonder, is my true voice?  Which is the real me?


       Singer's answer is none of the above.  We are none of those talkers.  We are the one who listens. 


       In meditation this morning, I played with his idea.  My mind was filled with chatter – heavy drama happening.  I turned to the one who listens and asked:  "Are you enjoying all this?  Are you entertained by the drama going on inside me?"  I remembered how I was as a 7-year-old hunched over the radio on Sunday afternoons, raptly absorbed in episodes of "The Shadow".  I wondered if the listener were engaged in a similar way with my drama.


       The listener remained quiet – very quiet, gently quiet.  Yet, somehow, there was an answer – a felt sense.  No words.


       My translation of this felt sense was "duh-uh" – a bit like the expression teens use with parents who seem clueless in the face of the obvious, except there was no attitude in this "duh-uh".  I got the message.


       Shortly after, during an extended period of grace, I joined the listener.  We sat together, connected as one, in a delicious quiet.


       I'm amazed.  The listener is so patient, so unafraid.  What a wondrous companion – pure presence, loving and detached, with no judgment, no power in the traditional sense and no inclination to control or change anything.


       I think of God.








Posted by: AT 12:28 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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