Archive | Spirituality

For the lost.

It is okay
to be lost.

Know this.

There will be days/
weeks/
months/
years

when all you can do
is kick the dust down the road

or sit and do nothing
but watch the trees

or scream into the air
even though it’s only you there.

You may notice that
your life has lost its color
not even the dingy gold of sepia
is offered to you;
only grayscale.

It is still okay
to be lost.

They (‘they’) will not give you any points
for being lost

But what do points get you anyway?
Nothing soul nourishing
nothing truly useful

And being lost is more useful
than perhaps we ever
admit.

Sometimes you will be lost in work
but safe in love

Sometimes you will be lost in love
but safe in your room

Sometimes you will be lost in the
small
.
daily
.
struggles
.
but safe in the structure they provide.

Sometimes you will be lost in your own breath
but safe in someone’s arms.

It is still okay
to be lost.

Because

//I promise you//

you will find your way again.

You will be different.
Life will be different.
There may still be no color
(because sometimes there is no going back)
but you will find your way again.

We are lost
over and over
in life.

Over and over.

Better to learn how ‘lost’ works;
a map with strange layers
[the soul is a palimpsest]
where old markings
take you a new way
every time.

It is okay
to be lost.

 

Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash

 

 

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Remnants of a Ritual :: Ways to Let Go

Hey, ya’ll- I’ve been out for a few days on a dark part of my path. At first I thought I was in a bit of a spiritual ‘cave,’ being in my dark, but I realized, “no, this isn’t a stop, it’s the path- it’s just a dark part of the path. A place I have to do real work.” So, I’ve been doing the work. I’ll say more about that in another post because I’ve been learning a lot and I’m close enough to some aspects and stages of growth to be able to parse them out more clearly. Anywho….

Last week I had my ego mowed down in the most gracious and succinct way and I’ve been doing the work from the lesson it gave me. I had been wanting to let go of a connection with someone but it just never quite would go away. (I have this trouble- my heart is big, it would hold on to people forever if it could.) And in few moments filled with a lot of energy and drama the connection came to a crashing halt and I was given the lesson I so desperately needed to learn.

This is often how it has gone in my life with important lessons: I hang on until the lesson or teaching is revealed and then – poof! – I no longer need or desire the connection with that other person. It’s abrupt, and some people don’t like abrupt, but that split-second shift is sometimes a very merciful thing. It makes it easier to let go.

In the spiritual practice of letting go, there are two important times to surrender:

  1. When you’re ready to.
  2. When you’re not ready to.

Often we know when we need to let go, but we’re not ready. That’s the time you need to let go.
Often we know when we need to let go, and we’re totally ready. That’s also the time you need to let go.

And, in my experience, we all know when we should let go, we just wait as long as we can, hoping Life will give us different instructions. But, no. Life will always have her way with us- best to do what she asks, when she asks.

When we’re being asked to let go (whether we’re ready or not) there are some rituals that can help. Rituals are a way of formalizing and deeply acknowledging the importance of what we’re doing- the importance of letting go. I believe that rituals touch the deeper waves of our personal energy force and help shift things at the subconscious level- so they can help us let go more easily, giving us energetic support to open our fingers and release.

Ways to Let Go with Ritual

Burn. A favorite for millennia among the spiritual and the secular. Write a letter, write a name, draw a picture, whatever it may be- set it alight and know that the energy of the thing goes with it as the ashes form and blow away.

In the Italian Catholic tradition, one writes the name of things they wish to be rid of on a bay leaf and then burns the leaf in a candle. Very fiery and effective, especially if you’re feeling a little Sicilian.

Rip. Slightly less final than burning, but it feels quite good to tear something asunder with your own hands. Think of Dead Poets Society– rip with joy.

Bury. Also a favorite for millennia. Create some symbol of what you wish to let go of and bury it. Bury it deep. Bury it far. Let it return to that from whence it came.

Flush. I prefer this one when I need a little humor in my ritual. We flush gold fish, why not our finished connections? Paper is best for this one- don’t clog the pipes or you get an entirely different outcome for your ritual!

Fly. Tie your symbol or words to a rock and huck it as far as you can. Drop it from a high place (make sure no one below will be hurt). Ask someone to drop it at the nearest airport garbage can.

Dance. I think dancing something away has to be done carefully. Dancing is usually for the taking in of things (see: whirling dervish). But I do believe we can dance our way free of things. And if that is what is needed, let it be.

 

Photo by Wesley Balten on Unsplash

 

Bind. Sometimes we just want something to keep its own boundary so that we can be free. In this case, let your words, letter, names, or symbol be bound with string or tape or whatever feels right. Bind it up so that it can’t get into your space anymore.

Digital Sorcery. In this modern age, everything goes down on a phone or tablet or computer. And those spaces need to be cleansed, too. I prefer deleting contacts to blocking them, as blocking means the person continues to take up space on your phone. Take screen caps of whatever you might need and then d-e-l-e-t-e.

And make sure to email those screen caps to yourself so you can completely clear the phone out. And stick those screen caps in a folder far, far away from your daily routine; another way to bury.

Funeral. Sometimes, when shit is deep or hard or long-standing, you gotta call in the big guns. Create a funeral for the connection. Speak your piece- roll out the soliloquy of anger, disaster, fear, frustration, gratitude, love, wisdom. Play some music. Stick the words, the symbols, the name, in the ground. And let it go.

Speak. Sometimes, all you need is to say the words out loud: “I’m letting this go.” “I’m done with this, now.” “I accept that this is done.” “Be well. Take care. Goodbye.” And even if you only say it to yourself, that is enough.

Energy Clearing. Many traditions have special words, rituals, or tools to help clear away connections. Native Americans clean a space or energy with the smoke from burned sage leaves. Pagans may simply blow on a thing, as if blowing out candles, to clear the energy. You can wash or dust something away. You can simply pretend to do those things (in the case of a phone, for instance) as part of a ritual and it will be equally effective as if you’d actually done it.

For the moment, these are the options I can think of. I’ll add more if I think of them (please add yours in the comments!).

The point of any ritual of letting go is to help us connect to the finishing of a connection and also symbolically recognize it- and allow it to come to completion in our psyche as well as our everyday life. Sometimes it is as easy as I had it- the lesson arrives and the connection dies all in the same moment. And sometimes it takes longer. But a good ritual can help us accept this part of our journey and find meaning in it. Letting go is an important part of life. And the more we can practice it, the better off we’ll be.

More soon, fellow travelers,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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mood.

if you deserve
honey
mine will flow from my arms to yours
no effort, no asking.
but, if there is none
and
you feel wind instead.
know
that my spirit already
senses that
when you smell sweetness
you
begin harvesting blades in your hands.

– kindness is a form of intelligence

| nayyirah waheed |

::: ::: ::: :::

This is what it
is to be wild
Wild is the strange
pull and
whispering wisdom.
its the gentle nudge and
the forceful ache. It is
your truth, passed down
from the ancients, and the
very stream of life
in your blood. Wild
is the soul where passion
and creativity reside,
and the quickening
of your heart. Wild
is what is real, and
wild is your home.

| Victoria Erickson |

::: ::: ::: :::

Tantra is one of the most important secrets ever discovered. But it is very delicate because it is the greatest art. To paint is easy, to create poetry is easy, but to create a communion with the energy of the other, a dancing communion, is the greatest and most difficult art to learn.

| Osho |

{{ i do enjoy practicing, though. }}

::: ::: ::: :::

At the peak of our stuckness, we habitually long for a sign that will stand out and call to us. We desire a signal or confirmation of the next right step or choice.

We long for inspiration and desire to return to our lives, when we feel desperate and depleted in the mundane.

The richness we crave lies in our ordinary, everyday lives. Cultivating awareness in each moment invites the possibility for deeper experience.

Intention and conscious alertness in our daily tasks, invites space for the aliveness we miss. Noticing details provided by our senses, being with the moment, and switching perspectives can all incite a magical spark.

| Gina Angelini |

::: ::: ::: :::

 

::: ::: ::: :::

Quest

Take me past
the guarded place
in you
where confusion
covers itself
in unrelenting confidence
then marches on
in lively steps.
Take off the facade
let it fall away
into nowhere
Turn around and face me
I search the infinite depth
where beyond all entrenchments
I find your thirst
to be met
and understood
the sadness in your bones,
the want of your silent cries
to be heard
and be known-
abiding within those
unseen landscapes
is a world of precious
dreams.
Let me touch where
the battle wounds
lie quietly healing-
Buried beneath
an armored sheath
rests a lifetime of love
and loneliness,
blame and triumph,
honor and defeat.
Within this blended web
of scars and treasures,
glistening with honey,
there you are-
I found you,
beneath the soldiers plated heart.
So loosen the knots around my own
see all its agony bared and mending
and in between each open space
we’ll breathe upon the frailty.
All the wishful longings to be had
bring to me yours
as I meet you there with mine.

| Susan Frybort |  Hope is a Traveler

 

 

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the complexity of accepting joy

I am learning to accept joy in my life.

Which sounds like a strange thing to say, except that my life has almost always revolved around the emotion of bittersweetness…of almost getting what I want. Or of getting what I want, but in a slightly different way than I imagined. Or of hoping for joy, but watching it pass me by to one extent or another.

This past August/September there was a great upheaval within me- I clearly saw an old pattern in my emotional system. The pattern is this: I can only have what I want after great difficulty.

The world will give me what I desire, but never quite the way I want it, or only after I’ve hurt myself in the process of getting it. (Sacrificing too much energy in mind, body, or spirit.)

It probably started when I was six and was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1). From that day onward I never quite got what I wanted again. I could have dessert, but only angel food cake. I could only have candy if I had a low blood sugar. I could have dessert, but only once a month. I think I learned quickly that I could never have what I really, truly wanted. And when you get that message as a small person, it’s tough to clean it out.

In some places this story played out over and over again. Never quite the car I wanted. Never quite the house I wanted. The dress never looked quite right. The shoes were lovely, but the wrong size. The little disappointments were always mine.

Of course, I accepted it. This was my life, this was how things go. The spiritual traditions say this kind of acceptance of whatever comes is a good thing; a practice many wish to achieve.

I learned to tone down my desires. What I got was ‘good enough.’

But then…
but then…

Six years ago, desire swept through my body with such intensity that I could no longer deny that I wanted things exactly as I wanted them. I wanted things I have never wanted before. I wanted. I desired. The desire had precision.

And I had to own it.

It took me two coaches to understand that 1- desire was okay again and 2- it was okay to name my desires and seek to fulfill them. It was okay to be blown wide open with desire. I also had to learn the nuance between ‘desire’ and ‘want’ because not every fantasy can be fulfilled.

Which was the hardest goddamn lesson. To go from very little desire- because why bother?- to heated, pulsing desire, and then to recognize that fulfillment may not be in the cards anyway. Same old goddamn story as always.

But then, this August.

I got tired of living with whatever Life served of my desires.
I got frustrated with spending too much life blood to achieve my goals.
I wanted what I wanted, the way I wanted it. 

Was that too much to ask?
Just once?
Just when it really mattered?
Couldn’t I have the thing/person/experience as desired with no extra effort, just…just a bit?
Life is inherently unfair, I know.
And I know I get a lot of what I want; this isn’t ingratitude for what I have.
It is the pleasure of having it exactly as I desired.

 

 

I began to ask for what I wanted. Exactly what I wanted.
I’m fucking old enough to know what I want and ask for it.
I began to do just that.

But digging out an old piece of emotional software takes time; we must have patience in the practice so we can get somewhere and see our progress. I have learned three things so far:

Asking for what I want is frightening and liberating. Just asking- ‘can we chat?’ ‘I’d like to connect with you,’ ‘I want the blue one,’- has been a big step. Asking the person, the clerk at the dress shop, my friends, was different; I haven’t done that in a long time. It is one thing to accept my desires. It is another to name them, out loud, to other people and ask them to help me get what I want.

The risk of asking is vulnerability at another level. I have been told ‘no’ to a couple of my requests. Of course it hurts at one level or another. To want is to open our heart and then…to not receive it? Yes, it hurts. But what I have learned is that this risking is what it is to be alive. All the feelings that go along with wanting what I want, asking for it, waiting, hoping, and not getting- those are the feelings of being human. It is disappointment but at least in my disappointment I am alive, trying.

[I am also pondering when to fight for a thing, a person, an experience you want and when not to. Sometimes other people are scared or don’t have enough info (or maybe they’re agoraphobic, how do I know?). Do I fight to get what I want by reaching out again- even looking like a fool to do so? I don’t know. Sometimes it looks like Life hands me awkward second chances, but I rarely see them in the moment. I’m trying to figure it out. But I’m new to this piece and so I make mistakes. I am very good at learning, however, I wish I didn’t have to learn by fucking some things up.]

Receiving joy is complex in a way I didn’t understand. When I shut myself down to true desire I also shut myself down to receiving that which I desire (joy, connection, fun, a cute shirt, etc.). It’s one thing to throw out the pitch, it’s another to have your hands open, ready to have the ball come back at you. I have had to practice opening to joy, opening to getting what I want (the way I want it). [And PS- this is zero about the Law of Attraction which I think is bullshit.]

Two weeks ago, I had a day so full of joy I was beaming. I think I was lit up like a Christmas tree- I was smiling with my whole body. The day had gone so spectacularly well- a new tattoo, a little innocent flirting, a dress that made me feel just right, my twentieth wedding anniversary, heading out to my favorite restaurant, and a dozen other things that I was able to receive and enjoy. I truly felt like I was so full of joy I might actually explode into some kind of happiness ectoplasm if anyone touched me. (But, I don’t know, maybe happiness ectoplasm feels good when it’s all gloppy on you??) Fifteen little things had shown up as I’d imagined them and it was wonderful.

 

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

 

I’ve not had a day like that since (and even some of the fallout from that day has been tough), but I think it means I’m heading in the right direction. The point here is that I have learned plenty about being blown open by desire, but receiving those desires? That is a complex emotional hurdle I didn’t know I had. Not getting what I wanted at a young age put a web over so  many parts of myself- desire, wanting, getting, receiving. And while I know that I’ll never get everything the way I want it every time (and would I really want that anyhow?), asking for what I really want has been a developmental step, as has opening myself to receive those things/people/experiences. But it’s a step and a challenge that is helping me feel more alive, more in touch with my senses, my emotions, even in the bittersweetness that I want to get away from. But maybe this is how we grow- a few steps out of what we don’t want, a few steps towards what we do. I hope so.

 

 

[And, jesusfuck, if this doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry. I’ve realized in the last two days that the muscles of writing can atrophy. I really need to be here more.]

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New Moon in Taurus

Ah, can you feel the changes since Venus went direct? So good. And soon we will be out of Mercury in Retrograde (but I do sort of love it).

So here we are in the Taurus New Moon. I love me some new moon. Full moons are not my fave, but new ones, oh. so. sweet. This one feels like first inklings of desire to me; lighting me up, warming my chest, making me smile with wonder and attraction. And so it is…

 

From Chani Nicolas:

In Taurus, the moon can build anything. If it has decided something will happen, Taurus won’t give up until it is so. Taurus is stubborn AF. When Taurus applies its stubbornness to a course of action that isn’t in its own best interest, it ends up wasting all that precious effort. But, when that stubbornness is applied to healing, developing, and growing the best of what we’ve been given, we have pure gold to build with. 

May we learn that our ability to love is the marker of our wealth. May we learn that our healing is holy, necessary, and needed if this world is to thrive. May be learn that the most sacred act in life is to find a way to make use of the pain we have lived through. 

 

From She Who Is: 

The pure, unaspected energy of this new moon brings unerring focus to all issues related to earthly manifestations in matters ranging from the necessary pursuit of one’s financial path to the revelation and discovery of love. 

Use this new moon energy to sweep away everything that you do not deeply and completely love, and to draw forth the new beginning of what you have only ever hoped to find. 

The emanation of Taurean energy is both stubborn and sensual…To feel mediocre about any aspect of your life will reveal the cracks of what needs to leave. 

 

 

And Elephant Journal takes a Buddhist view of the New Moon:

Some lunar cycles wreck our plans, others are meant to encourage us to reap our rewards, and still others—like this one—are meant to push us toward the building of something new.

Something full of love.

This particular moon is asking us to take a closer look at the Four Immeasurables, or the four Buddhist virtues of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. These components most highly reflect a state of enlightenment, and right now, as many are seeing spring begin to bud and grow around us, we are also feeling the urge to build something of quality and purpose.

We can make sure that we are building something genuine with a strong foundation or if instead, it already feels shaky beneath our feet. We can decide if what we are feeling is real, or if instead, it’s merely a figment of our own hopeful projections. And ultimately, we can discern if we’re truly content or only settling.

Nothing can begin without our decision, and no one in this life will make us happy if we haven’t decided to love ourselves as we are. This new moon is not only asking us to delve within but to stay awhile and see what is really inside.

What do loving-kindness, joy, compassion, and equanimity mean to us?

And more than that, what do each of these virtues feel like, taste like, and smell like? What would it mean to live a life that fully embodied these qualities on the exterior, because we have already mastered it internally?

And so we have to ask ourselves if that isn’t what our lives currently reflect—are we ready to start over?

::: ::: ::: :::

The question is, do you have the ovaries to do it? Can we refrain from lying to ourselves once again? That’s hard for INFJ’s like me to do (we hate lying!), but other folks seem to be able to with ease. If this moon is pushing you to love, it’s also pushing for truth- your truth. Go and plant that tonight.

G’night, fellow travelers. See you in the dark of the moon.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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