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Sunday, July 22 2018

Two Conversations


         I’ve been waking the last few mornings to my inner jukebox playing a song by America, I Need You – “like the flower needs the rain … like the winter needs the spring, I need you.”  When a song repeats like that, I listen up.  While there may be other layers of meaning, this morning I heard the song as my younger feeling-self (Jimbo) appealing to the older, wiser, loving inner adult (Big James).  I heard the invitation to remember their connection and re-affirm their partnership in loving this world - a deepening development within me.


         The appeal reminds me how easy it is to slip back into the old pattern of another conversation – a louder, harsher conversation – that takes place many times a day between a voice I call the inner judge and Jimbo.  The judge, a well-practiced but immature presence with a big megaphone, uses withering criticisms and dire predictions to invite Jimbo to feel ashamed and afraid.   Drawing from a large library of mistakes I’ve made over the years, the judge comments on every imperfection and tends to define my younger self in terms of those mistakes and imperfections.


         On the other hand, conversation between Big James and Jimbo is gentle, nurturing, playful and sometimes wordless – inviting self-acceptance, self-compassion, creativity, vitality and courage.  This conversation combines Jimbo’s vitality and Big James’ wise nurture and calls forth my best, strongest and most loving presence on this planet. 


         Observing these two conversations is a VAST SELF within me, quietly witnessing – holding in loving spaciousness every aspect of who I am, every voice within.  Mindfulness practices, which deepen connection with the quiet witness, help me see the nature of, and feel the impact of, the two conversations.  With awareness comes choice.  I get to choose which conversation I want to give my time and attention, which I want to nurture and feed.  Even when the judge puffs himself up, loudly demanding the inner microphone and provoking me mightily, I still get to choose whether or not to engage.


         Once I pay attention – and keep paying attention - the life-affirming choice is clear.  And once I’m clear, I can stand firm in my “yes” to one conversation and my “no thanks” to the other.



Posted by: AT 06:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, July 08 2018

Let’s Love Together


         For years I’ve worked at opening to the flow of love.  I see universal love as an unlimited, inexhaustible resource, readily available and ready to overflow in my relational life – which it does quite naturally in my professional work, in my parenting and in most of my friendships. 


         Historically, this flow has not been so natural in my most intimate and vulnerable relationships, where fear, hunger and self-preoccupation invite a sense of scarcity and a tendency to over-think and over-work.  I’ve tended to attribute this awkwardness to a younger version of myself, whose early life experience makes understandable some skittishness in this area. 


         In recent years, I’ve tried to by-pass the boy – pushing him into the shadows, hoping to keep my inner grown-up in charge.  Frequently, to my dismay, the by-passed boy found a way to by-pass me and grab the keys to my relational car.  He’s a good kid, but not a great driver.


         Last week, grace came my way in the form of a wonderful, transformational healing retreat, Choose Love, led by Richard Moss, whose approach recognizes that healing and growth need to be integrated into the body and the heart.  Thinking alone cannot move us forward in substantial ways.  So, in addition to some cognitive work, we danced and sang and moved our bodies in expressive ways that led to a deeply felt sense of the contrast between the closed/contracted heart and the soft/open heart.


         In one exercise, we danced for well over an hour to varied, evocative and powerful pieces of music.  Somewhere near the end, I pictured my four-year-old self (Jimbo), whose photo sits on my desk, smiling at me as I write.  From a spaciousness opened by the music and movement, I felt drawn to dance with Jimbo.  And we did so for a good 10 or 15 minutes.  I held him close, then closer, and then experienced a merging with him.  I said to Jimbo: “Let’s love together.”


         Theoretically, I’ve known for years about the importance of connecting with the inner child.  This experience, however, was beyond theory.  It was visceral and embodied.  The youngster - embraced and held and welcomed - was not hungry.  He was not left alone to fend for himself.  He was partnered with Big James, the wise, spacious, grown-up elder who resides within.  In that moment of grace, love no longer seemed scarce or dangerous.  It flowed freely from fullness – accompanied by joyful tears.


         The embodied union of Big James and Jimbo keeps Jimbo emotionally safe and James vibrantly alive.  It integrates wisdom and vitality – two qualities necessary for loving connection – qualities more available to me now.


         While I can’t predict how this will play out in my life, I do believe that love inside leads to love outside and that inner partnership paves the way for outer partnerships.  Witnessing inward with mindful awareness opens a spaciousness that makes room for what’s young and what’s ancient in my being.  In that spaciousness, there’s room for all of I and all of Thou. 


         I find it easier now to feel the difference between when I’m connected and when I’ve slipped into an old pattern of separation.  And, thankfully, when I do disconnect, I now have a way back – an embodied memory that anchors me in partnership and presence. 


         I also have a mantra:  Let’s love together.

Posted by: AT 10:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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