It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? Summer of 2014

It's Monday! photo

Honestly,  this summer was one of savory reading.  My mind shifted to new galaxies of understanding.  My heart expanded beyond expansion and my soul soared.

There were a few books that had something to do with it.

Books have saved my life more than once, but there are some gems that push my being to places I did not know existed.

Let me give you a glimpse inside just one of my books of summer.

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I sought out a book on brokenness when I was feeling so much brokenness in the world.  You can read about this here on a post I wrote awhile ago.  Amazon guided me to Elizabeth Lesser and her book Broken Open.

Upon the arrival of my smily happy box from the UPS man, I ripped out Lesser’s book and immediately skimmed the back. These words stood out:

Elizabeth Lesser bravely and beautifully explores one of the most compelling questions of life: How do we emerge from suffering and challenge with real, encompassing wisdom and love?

These ARE the questions of life.  I know we keep transforming over and over, but what about the REAL challenges?  Like losing people you love, illness, and depression?  So many are suffering.  The world seems to be in a continuous state of hurt, confusion, lostness and pain right now.

I peppered this book with so many tracks of my thinking and sticky notes, that if I handed it off to someone else to read, they’d look at me like I had three heads.  It’s that good.  I wanted to memorize every word Lesser wrote — lodge it into my long term memory–I needed her words to latch onto in my own times of need.  And, to live them.

Is that crazy?  Have you ever wanted to MEMORIZE a book?

Here are some of the words that are stuck with me:

Lesser’s introduction grabbed me,

Issues I never thought I would face–of love and betrayal, passion and responsibility, loss and doubt—sprouted in the hidden places of my heart and led me into the dark words of real life.  It is those stories–the ones about the journey in and out of the woods–that I tell in this book.

Well, I’d been in that woods and felt guilty about it every time I took a road there.  Lesser writes~

To be human is to be lost in the woods.  None of us arrives here with clear directions on how to get from point A to point B without stumbling into the forest of confusion or catastrophe or wrongdoing.  Although they are dark and dangerous, it is in the woods that we discover our strengths.

I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, A Snowy Evening In The Woods, and how even he was tempted by the darkness.

How can one resist an invitation with words like this?  I didn’t know if I was more intoxicated with her use of language or anxious to hear about her plan for getting unlost.  I read this book as a reader and a writer through every line and paragraph. This little snippet was in the introduction in explaining how her stories were like “the teaching tales of older traditions.”

These small parables are sprinkled throughout the book, like tiny lights strung along a path.  Perched at the beginning of many of the stories and parables is a quotation or poem.  I realize that an opening verse is often regarded as ornamentation, but I mean for you to actually read these bits and scraps of poetry and prose. Some provide keys to the front doors of the stories; others are vehicles that can carry you all the way throughout the stories and back out into your life.

Captivated by the dance of language along with the wisdom of her journey in this book, I filled up my iced tea mug, grabbed my sun glasses and headed out to the lawn chair.

I’ll write about my lessons learned from this book in another post. . . or posts.

For now, if you are feeling a little broken, or know someone who is, this book is a gift to the mind, heart and soul.

Out beyond ideas

of wrong doing and right doing

There is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

~Rumi

 

Shari 🙂

 

 

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How To Release the Brokenness We Carry in Our Hearts

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It’s interesting how a single event can shoot the gates up around our hearts instantaneously and the choice to play the old records in our minds shifts into automatic.  Entire albums even.  Over and over again.  Stuck on repeat.

We sometimes work really hard to throw out those old records, narratives, stories. . . convincing ourselves of their untruths and we attempt to rewrite new, more compassionate songs, in hopes to slowly allow the gates to be drawn in order to feel again.  To love again.  And, to live in peace.  To open our hearts.

However, when an event occurs that cause us to revert back to what we thought we released, we know there is more to unearth, more to learn about ourselves and who we are.  More to grow and transform.  We are never finished releasing.

We all carry deep pain in our hearts and souls.  All of us.  It’s an “Open Secret“, Rumi calls it.  The human behaviors we display (and probably are not very fond of) are a result of that pain.  The workaholic overworks because his father told him he’d never amount to anything.  The alcoholic drinks to numb the pain carried from a high school coach who instilled the belief that he was just not good enough.  A teenage girl exercises obsessively to block the pain of the words of a boyfriend  that said she was gaining weight.  An angry boss yells because in his childhood, he was expected to do things right and if not, punishment followed.  Whatever the undesirable behavior is that we unconsciously display, it’s rooted from pain.  We even tend to live out this story.  These lies.

The wonderful gift that we humans have been given that no other animal species has, is to be able to go back to that pain, feel it,  acknowledge it, release it and then find a new truth.  This is how we rewrite our stories.  We can reopen our heart to others this way and change our behavior, rather than to live with a blocked heart, a stuck flow of energy.

Michael A. Singer, in The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, writes that energy that comes into us HAS to keep moving.  He tells us:

Long term, the energy patterns that cannot make it through you are pushed out of the forefront of the mind and held until you are prepared to release them.  These energy patterns, which hold tremendous detail about the events associated with them, are real. They don’t just disappear.  When you are unable to allow life’s events to pass through you, they stay inside and become a problem.  These patterns may be held within you for a very long time. We are either trying to push the energy away because it bothers us or we are trying to cling to it because we like it.

When you resist that release, the energy gets packed up and forced into deep storage within the heart.  In the yogic tradition, this is called a Samskara.

These Samskaras end up running your life.

If they build up sufficiently, you will find yourself in a state of depression.  Eventually, everything appears negative because the world of the senses must pass through this depressed energy before it gets to your consciousness. Even if we are not prone to depression, it builds up over time and gets blocked.  This affects how we live.

Singer shares, in his book, the process for releasing these blocks, or Samskaras.  It’s quite amazing.

Imagine these blocks in your heart as thorns.  Visualize them penetrating your heart and protruding all the way to the outside of your body.  They stick out.  Whenever someone, something, or an event brushes up against a particular thorn, it hurts.  That Samskara is being disturbed.  You have a few choices when this happens.  Well, first, you can prevent it from happening by avoiding any situation that might disturb the thorn. If we do this though, we are not living to the fullest.  We are living in fear.

What Singer suggests we do is to just be centered, conscious enough recognize when a thorn has been disturbed and  just watch the stuff come up.  Be aware of it.  Accept it.   And, then let it go.

This sounds easier said than done.

He tells us:

Just relax your heart, forgive, laugh, shift to gratefulness, do anything you want. Just don’t push it back down.  It’s gonna  probably hurt, but hopefully not for too long.  And then, it’s over.  You’ve let it pass through you.

This process happens over and over all the time.  The result is a constant open heart that allows the energy of love to flow .  You live in love, and it feeds and strengthens you.  This purification is a wonderful thing.

How do we start?

It starts the moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given.  Acceptance.  Not resistance to them.  It starts when we shift to gratitude rather than to dwell on the wrongness of a situation.  There is a secret treasure that lies waiting for us at the bottom of our most difficult times.  It starts when we recognize that everything that happens is not happening TO US.  It’s just happening.  It starts when we let go of the expectations of what we think our lives and others’ lives should go like.  It’s a journey of a lifetime.

Every shift in our life comes courtesy of the friendly forces; every catastrophe can hand us exactly what we need to awaken into who we really are.  It’s a lot easier to blame someone else, to rail against fate, or to shut down to the hopeful messages carried on the winds of change.  Please forgive me when I say that everything that happens to us in life is a blessing – whether it comes as a gift wrapped in happy times or as a heart break, a loss, or a tragedy.  It is true:  There is meaning hidden in the small changes of everyday life, and wisdom to found in the shards of your most broken moments.  At the end of a dark night of the soul is the beginning of a new life.  ~ Elizabeth Lesser

What are your Samskaras?  Can you let them go?

Or, are you going to hang on to them for dear life.