Monday, February 20, 2017

Something's Gotta Give

I think we are all pretty tired of all of the talking points and pointed accusations that are being made on all sides on many issues. It's all too easy to repost, regurgitate, and repeat. The problem is mostly, people aren't listening. Everyone's just waiting to talk -- or not bothering to wait at all! -- or selectively listening for the parts that bolster our beliefs.

We all have strong beliefs on many issues. But if we're not curious about why others disagree and why our ideas are threatening to them and vice versa, if we're not curious about our role in all of it, we can't ask anyone else to be. If I can't acknowledge that my lens is necessarily unique and limited, I have no possibility of seeing the bigger picture. 

Maybe rather than demanding that other people listen to us, we could stop talking and listen to ourselves. Hear the tone in our own voices, feel the tension in our own bodies, acknowledge the deeper fears and hopes that we have. That we all have.

Maybe if we want people to listen to us, we listen to our own hearts and recognize that when we speak from our hearts, we are easier to hear. And maybe even if "they" don't listen to "us," we do it anyway. Because when I listen to you, we both are changed. Maybe rather than reacting and saying that "they" are crazy, greedy, stupid, wrong, we get curious about their lens. Maybe if we could stay steady and open long enough, we would realize that we have the same fears. Maybe then we can stop reacting out of fear and begin responding with love.

Because the truth lies in the middle. And the path of peace is full of ambiguity and acceptance. Because we all have our darkness. And we all have some incongruent ideas and actions. Let's make peace with our own complexities and own our true values with our actions. Let's go inside and ask the really difficult and only questions that illuminate the pieces we have control over: What is my piece? What am I willing to give up for the greater good? How would I be acting differently if I lived from the very inconvenient truth that all lives matter?

Together, we can practice peace. Because, seriously, something's gotta give! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Everything Happens...

Everything Happens...

I dunno about you, but this winter is bringing some major storms. And I'm not just talking about the weather! I am reminded again and again of one of my teachers, Pema Chodron, who says: You are the sky. The rest is just the weather. Aspiring to see the sky in this winter of my discontent, I looked to Pema's teaching, Awakening to Love. The day after the election, to be exact. And every day since. Aspiring to find love in an avalanche of hate. Aspiring to find courage in a mountain of fear.

For whatever reasons, both I and a number of those whom I hold dearest in my heart have been facing a lot of "opportunities for growth" lately. Not the Mercury is in retrograde and that's why your computer crashed variety. Which, to be blunt, annoys the shit out of me - the "mercury is in retrograde" bit more than the computer crashing bit. Shit happens. Life happens. Everything happens. Let's not debate the "for a reason" bit. Let's choose to focus on the bits that we can all agree on. The difficult truth that sometimes life is beautiful and easy and fun. And other times life is challenging and scary... and if you can muster up the courage, if you can face the challenge, there is nothing more beautiful than facing your fear with aspirational love.

Thanks to Pema, I've been doing a little experiment. When I feel frustrated or afraid of someone/something, I've chosen to send loving kindness to them. And something really shifts when you can see obstacles through that lens. I haven't exactly worked my way up to 45, but I have really noticed that when I have lost my bearings and wished for a do-over, I have forgotten my practice. Every. Single. Time.

Aspirational, to be sure. Hoping to be loving and kind to all beings at all times. Choosing to believe it is possible. Knowing you are falling short. Hoping to be forgiven. Choosing to start again and again. Knowing you will fall down again. And again. Choosing to get back up. Choosing to love and forgive yourself may be the highest aspiration of all.

If we are going to wake up, show up and open up to everything that happens in our lives, we need support. Lots of support. And lots of love for ourselves and each other. This is why we practice - to be in a community, to share our joys and our sorrows, to believe it is possible to make the world a better place by aspiring to our own greatest potential.

Leslie Kazadi