I dream. I am at my grandparent’s home, in the city where I was born. My life is diminished to meager existence. It has never been a good life but now it is at it worst. There is no joy left, no life energy. I am on the outside, looking in. In desperation, I sense that I could still come out of this stagnation and start a completely new life. I can know joy and I can be free of this feeling of breathing under the mirky water, dreaming of fresh air. Desperately, I try to think of something that can excite me, that can, maybe under different circumstances, bring some hint of joy back into my life. A sense of needing to start working in a place that I love comes over me. A place where I can reconnect with life, learn how to be around people again, bring a completely different vibration into my being. Suddenly, I remember dreaming one day about working in the big beautiful bookstore on main street. I know I cannot work there now. I am too weak and sick physically to hold a job, but it occurs to me that I can just visit it for now, feel its energy, begin to allow the idea of it to start sipping into my bones. I realize that unlike before when I was far-far away from this city, the city of my dreams, I now find myself in it, walking distance to this lovely bookstore. The marvel of it! I get dressed and slowly walk out of the door. I am so unwell, I can hardly walk. I am sick to my stomach but I keep walking. I arrive on the main street. It is as beautiful and full of life as I remember it (a true European charm), but I am aware that I cannot appreciate it. I am too sick, too exhausted and completely lacking the capacity to enjoy or appreciate all its amazingness. I keep walking. I arrive at the spot where the bookstore used to be. It is there no more. Instead there is a very sterile utilitarian-looking building with a sterile shelfs, full of sterile books and an automated check out. The charm, the beauty are completely gone. I recognize that I would not want to even visit a place like this, let alone aspire to work here. I wonder why would anyone take such beautiful and joyful place and remake it into this soulless depressive state. As I am looking at it in awe, I wonder if I should be taken aback, devastated, my mind screaming “See, you tried! It is not possible for you to heal or be happy again!”. But the mind is quiet. Instead after some deliberation, it says, “Well, that’s a bummer. We definitely do not want any part of this place. We will have to keep looking for a place that we like. This is disappointing but that is what life is all about. We need to learn to accept all of life, including its seeming imperfections. We have got the right idea (find joy, taste it, even a little bit at a time, keep at it!), now we just need to keep following it!” I realize that I am too exhausted now to even stand there, I need to turn back and walk home. I wonder to myself if I should instead stop by my favorite small bakery and pick up some of its famous pastries for myself and my grandparents. I haven’t tasted them since my childhood. The bakery is just down the street. It will tire me even more to walk there and it might be another disappointment, but why not? I turn away from home and start making my way slowly down the street.
This pain I have been feeling for most of my life, it is not a punishment or a curse. It is the highest Gift, the doorway to everything I have ever dreamed of – Love, Peace, Beauty, Joy, Creativity, Gratitude and even Safety. It is not meant to be avoided, drowned in food or alcohol or manic activity. It even isn’t meant to be healed. It is meant to be felt, continuously, and with deep gratitude and curiosity for the gifts, discoveries and freedom that holding it continuously brings. Holding Pain is what brings us to That Which Can Only Be Found Inside Us.
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This morning I came across an article about how humanity has been stuck playing the same old record of suffering and dark night of the soul, and how something nefarious always places a scratch on the record, making it return right back to the beginning of the same painful song that brings us so much suffering. The article insists that it is no longer necessary to continue playing the same old song, or for that matter, use a record player anymore. We can just step right out of this illusion and start streaming beautiful new songs of joy, health, beauty, love and gratitude. This touched me so deeply and I wondered what my song of suffering had always been. It was VICTIMHOOD! The poor me to whom all these bad things are happening, the failure-me, the ashamed of who I am-me, even repulsed of who I am-me, the lost one who cannot understand why bad things are always happening. The victim-me! How profoundly toxic!
I have been touched lately, despite many misgivings, by Law of Attraction ideas. It was deeply moving to me to realize that the only person who stands between miserable me and happy me, is me, my mind prohibiting me from enjoying life. If we could create life of great happiness, joy, love and abundance by simply allowing ourselves to wish it into being, then why don’t we? Little by little, these painful toxic ideas are being dismantled – of not being worthy of happiness, of joy and healing not being my lot in life, of scarcity, of bad circumstances, and now finally of a mindset of victimhood. I am also beginning to understand how what we vibrate, our deep believes (I am a victim of life, bad things are always happening and I have no power to make myself happy) is what we attract and what we become. And what it takes to break this vicious cycle – simply stepping out of these limiting beliefs, becoming a co-creator of our own life.
Feeling blessed and courageous. Sending love and joy to all beings.
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A dream. My parents and I are visiting my grandparents in a different city. I am happy to be with my grandparents. I feel so loved and blissful in their home. A few days into our visit, I say or do something again that immediately upsets my mother. It is not my fault, I did not do anything wrong but she is going into another one of her anger states. She gets triggered and she needs someone to pay for all her pain in life. It is always me. There is no one else, and I am young and completely defenseless. I cannot escape. I feel the knot at the bottom of my stomach begin to form. I know I am heading for a nightmare, and I have been there before, and every time hoped it will be the last one. As always I try to make it go away by crying and apologizing, but I know that nothing will work. This time I even try to appeal to my dad to protect me but he looks at me with glass eyes. He does not want to get involved. His life is hard enough and she convinced him long ago that something is deeply wrong with me, and I am evil, and I always try to hurt despite her being such a good mother to me, the sacrifices she has made for me… He turns me away and makes me despair even more. At least when it is just her telling me these things, I can have a small doubt about it, but when the person I love and respect so much confirms it to me and looks at me as though I am the most repulsive creature on earth, it hurts, it hurts hard, it cuts me off at my knees. I wonder away from his room and see my grandparents. They have no idea what goes on. The abuse was always kept secret from them. My mother would never allow anything negative to slip into her image of a perfect parent. But this time, I loose my mind, I tell them. I betray her. They are appalled. They despise her, always have. They offer me their love and support. All of the sudden, in the midst of falling down the rabbit hole of total despair, a though occurs. I do not have to listen to my mother anymore. I do not even need to go home with my parents. I can stay here with my grandparents and never have to face this pain again. I look at my grandparents and realize that this is not all. There is more. They can love me, support me, provide temporary shelter, but they cannot ‘do life’ for me. I need to go out and get a job. I need to become self supporting and not afraid of life. I am scared. That is what abuse does. It keeps you, from an early age, believing that you are small and incapable, and a failure. You cannot do anything right, so how could you even think of going out and getting a job and becoming self supporting? If I leave and get my own life, who will they use as their punch bag? I see their faces, distorted as if in a horror movie, screeching and reaching out to me as though trying to grab me, but I cannot be reached anymore. I made my decision. I am leaving them and I do not have to listen to their accusations or go through weeks and weeks of incredible pain of emotional abuse coming from people who should have loved me the most. I am frightened and this is by no means a happily ever after ending. I will struggle and I will shake but I have my grandparents to hold my hand and I think I am starting to believe that I might be able to do this after all.
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I have been deeply moved by these 3 videos, which finally seemed to put a big picture around my own gradual awakening and unfolding. Put in these simple terms, many confusing questions from the standpoint of my separate self got answered and explained and the bigger picture began to emerge. I cannot convey how comforted and reassured I felt after listening to these interviews. I was especially moved by the idea that the two most important things we, as humans, can do now to evolve is to develop deep Self Love and to drop all judgement. Dropping judgement was especially puzzling to me as I thought that for sure there must be other, more dense responses we need to deal with, like maybe anger, hatred, jealousy, revenge… I began a vigorous journey into trying to understand what judgement really meant here, and oh, how many amazing surprises I discovered and continue to discover in this exploration.
A dream. I am out there in the world, learning how to deal with life and all that it presents. I am looking for a job, dealing with a stalker and trying to decide on my next step. It is morning and I have not taken a shower or brushed my teeth yet. I am concerned about my appearance and presentability, as I am out in public somewhere. My mom comes and starts to show me the socks she found in the store. She is delighted as can be about the quality of these socks. She bought them for me and she thinks they will solve all my sock problems. I immediately notice their color and the length and feel they could not be further from what I need. I am annoyed and overwhelmed with my own problems and I tell her as politely as I can that I really do not like these socks. A man suddenly comes in and announces that I have been accepted in a new high-end position at a very prestigious company I could never dream of working for before and will be leaving in the next 9 hours on a very important and prestigious international assignment. My mom and I excitedly discuss my perspectives and what I need to pack. I realize that I have absolutely no professional clothes to wear and rush out to get home, take a shower, shop and pack. I am walking home and I feel that something is wrong. I am walking as though in a dream, slowed down by something. I try to get home as fast as I can but keep getting lost. I accidentally wonder into a large store known for its cheap low quality products. I am walking through their clothing section and my eye is drawn to the seemingly beautiful clothes. I am hesitant as I know that the quality of these clothes must be very low, but I try them nevertheless. Despite their beautiful appearance, the clothes sit very poorly on me. They are made of a heavy, unappealing material and make me look very bad. I am unhappy, put them back on the shelf and walk out of the store. I realize suddenly and clearly that the only thing that mattered that day was how I reacted to my mom bringing me the socks. Although it was true that I was tired and preoccupied and did not like the socks and have a long and difficult history with my mom, the only important thing was to be kind and loving and share in her joy and even love. I am taken aback and ponder if I can be kind to her despite the past. How will that even look like? I wake up.
A dream. I am in graduate school in a strange foreign land. Life is easy but monotonous and does not have any joy to it. I notice that a lot of my friends from school are working part time at a nearby large store. It is some sort of a hybrid of a very affordable department store and a second hand shop. My friends, old and young, reserved and outgoing, happy and sad, all seem to be drawn deeply to their seemingly menial work there. Although I am not in need of money to continue my studies, I become intrigued by the store and one day go to visit it. It is large and bustling with activity. People who work there have to deal with all the usual demands of working in a store – sudden influx of customers, difficult clients, demanding and not always fair managers, co-worker personality clashes and so on, but there is also another side to this store. After a hard day’s work, all the workers go into the back of the store and get to go through bags and bags of newly arrived merchandise and donations and delight in finding incredible new things and gifts they never knew existed. There is a sense of joy, excitement, discovery and deep camaraderie between all the workers and management. Whatever they find, they get to take home for free or at a very minimal price. I am so intrigued and delighted at the prospect of joining them, that despite my many fears, I apply for a job and go through the interview process. Many old fears surface, but I am finally more excited about the prospect than scared of it. I am accepted and can start my job he next day. Fast forward to the future. I am on a staff of the store, but I find myself stuck in a small room with a window, lying on a comfortable bed, resting. My manager looks in on me and asks if I am ok. I tell him I am fine but still too sick to go out there. He looks at me with compassion and leaves. He does not mind me spending the whole day in bed if I so choose to. I feel deeply inside me and sense the warm safety and comfort of hiding out in this room, in this bed, away from overwhelming demands of the bustling store and life in general. I look out of the window and see people who live nearby struggling with life’s issues, ran-away aggressive dogs, etc. I am glad to be safe in my small room and in my comfortable bed. And yet there is that amazing store right outside my door, full of amazing excitement, gifts and everything I always looked for. I am puzzled and I wake up. A voice inside says clearly – You always wanted to know why you are so sick all the time. You are choosing to always be sick in order to avoid life, as you perceive it to be too difficult and overwhelming for you. It is up to you.
Sometimes on this spiritual path, as we are reading books, going on retreats, learning yoga and meditation, listening to teachings, we can accidentally assume that “progress” means that we can meet all life’s difficult situation with equanimity. Something very troubling happens and we are supposed to not get upset about it at all. When this does not happen, we assume that we are “failing on our spiritual path”. We thought we were cultivating equanimity but instead we feel like we are being overwhelmed by a tsunami of anxiety, fear, regret, anger, depression. What happened? Turns out we were cultivating the wrong thing! It is not our job to cultivate equanimity! Equanimity is a side effect that happens naturally when we cultivate Acceptance. Acceptance does not only mean that we accept the difficulty that is happening. Acceptance means we accept and embrace ALL OF IT – the difficulty AND our reaction to it. We accept and embrace OURSELVES in the midst of despair, anger, fear, panic attacks, anxiety and regret. We cultivate embracing our poor broken bodies and shuttered minds, and we do it over and over again, as many times as it takes for them to finally feel safe, loved and accepted. Equanimity might eventually and gradually happen as a result of this practice, but it is not the quality to cultivate, LOVE and ACCEPTANCE are!