Tag Archive | living

Robin William’s Last Gift- by Peter Coyote

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“The only thing that never changes is change itself. All things are impermanent.” ~ Buddha

Peter Coyote, a Zen Buddhist Priest, wrote a lovely letter to help others find peace in how Robin Williams chose to end his life.  I found it on Facebook and feel it’s important to share, so I am posting it on my blog (see below).   I hope it helps you  shift any perceptions on such a heavy topic.  I have mixed feelings on what is going on and part of me feels Robin’s calling for leaving is as big as his life was.  He battled with what so many of us have battled with.  Our mind, our thoughts of suffering and how helpless we fall victim to them.  When we are isolated in our suffering, or have some kind of mental illness, our minds strength to just “reach out” for help is often not a realistic possibility for some.  Is it possible to change it?  I believe it is, with the right mix of helpers, prayers, and outreach.   Will everyone have success?,  possibility not, but without starting or trying, how would we know.  And how does one start?  How does one bypass the shame or the fears in reaching out?  Or even know they have something “wrong that needs fixing”.  As long as society thinks that those who have some kind of “mental illness” is different from them, there will always be this “hands off or hands out of reach” approach.

I do not have a labeled “mental illness” and yet, for me, my thoughts of depression or suffering of my mind have been probably as debilitating as some.  My fears to reach out and stay isolated are real and are my choices are based out of fear at times.  However, I know to ask if what I’m thinking is the “collective energy” around me.  Are they really “my thoughts”?  Or because I am so empathic, are they the collective?  There is a movie called “Wings of Desire”,  a German film where these 2 angels can hear everyone’s thoughts.  It’s a buzz of energy that has to be drowned out or one would go crazy.  Learning to discern what’s ours and others is a valuable lesson to learn.  Separating out what’s “my business” or “someone else’s business” is also necessary for an empath.

I have had suicidal thoughts in my past and I have also had profound Buddhist teachings about the mind and what happens to the mind when we die.  I reflect on these because it’s important to me to know how to face my  fears.  If looking at my mind causes so much fear, pain and suffering, then there is more work to be done.  No judgment, no finger-pointing, just awareness that there are layers wanting to be peeled away.  I have also experienced profound inner peace.  It’s the same mind that experiences the same kind of suffering.  This brings freedom of choices.  The choices of how I want to live in my mind.  And if I choose inner peace, then I can declare peace and find ways to start seeing it around me and bringing it in and toward me as opposed to living in my suffering.  However, that does require effort on my end.  Effort to make daily choices of how I want to think and live.  Effort to be present.  Effort to know what choices I want.  It may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

When awareness begins to take charge of our thoughts, new perceptions begin to take place.  AND they are instantaneous, not “let’s wait and see” but immediate.  This is valuable information to the suffering mind.  Looking for ways to get out of our suffering is as old as man itself.  That’s why people overeat, drink, smoke, gamble, watch tv, do video games, etc….  Everything that can distract the mind, and numb us out of our feelings are many ways to not deal with our suffering.  Unfortunately disconnecting is also not an answer, it creates many more problems.  How is it that we can live in our bodies, our minds and find inner and outer peace without looking for outside fixes?   It all starts with our thoughts, our intentions and our desires for how we want to live.  Let’s learn from Robin Williams last gift as to how we choose to live.  May you rest in Peace Robin.  You have been loved by millions. I honor you and your path and your choices.

 

Robin William’s Last Gift- Peter Coyote

Robin and I were friends. Not intimate, because he was very shy when he was not performing. Still, I spent many birthdays and holidays at his home with Marsha and the children, and he showed up at my 70th birthday to say “Hello” and wound up mesmerizing my relatives with a fifteen minute set that pulverized the audience.

When I heard that he had died, I put my own sorrow aside for a later time. I’m a Zen Buddhist priest and my vows instruct me to try to help others. So this little letter is meant in that spirit.

Normally when you are gifted with a huge talent of some kind, it’s like having a magnificent bicep. People will say, “Wow, that’s fantastic” and they tell you, truthfully, that it can change your life, take you to unimaginable realms. It can and often does. The Zen perspective is a little different. We might say, “Well, that’s a great bicep, you don’t have to do anything to it. Let’s work at bringing the rest of your body up to that level.”

Robin’s gift could be likened to fastest thoroughbred race-horse on earth. It had unbeatable endurance, nimbleness, and a huge heart. However, it had never been fully trained. Sometimes Robin would ride it like a kayaker tearing down white-water, skimming on the edge of control. We would marvel at his courage, his daring, and his brilliance. But at other times, the horse went where he wanted, and Robin could only hang on for dear life.

In the final analysis, what failed Robin was his greatest gift—his imagination. Clutching the horse he could no longer think of a single thing to do to change his life or make himself feel better, and he stepped off the edge of the saddle. Had the horse been trained, it might have reminded him that there is always something we can do. We can take a walk until the feeling passes. We can find someone else suffering and help them, taking the attention off our own. Or, finally, we can learn to muster our courage and simply sit still with what we are thinking are insoluble problems, becoming as intimate with them as we can, facing them until we get over our fear. They may even be insoluble, but that does not mean that there is nothing we can do.

Our great-hearted friend will be back as the rain, as the cry of a Raven as the wind. He, you and I have never for one moment not been a part of all it. But we would be doing his life and memory a dis-service if we did not extract some wisdom from his choice, which, if we ponder deeply enough, will turn out to be his last gift. He would beg us to pay attention if he could.

 

In Memory of Maya Angelou

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The Dance of Eternity

Look through the ache

People cry hard

Open Your eyes

Shed one last tear

Dig deep

Stand proud

Step into your life and live till you die.

Paving the way for those arriving another day.

Their joy is your joy.

Their love is your love.

They live together, they exist together

In the dance of eternity

An endless loop of time.

Breathing, pulsing, living, moving one step,

one generation, one era at a time.

Breathe, dance, listen, decide how you choose to live

And pave the way for another.

The dance of eternity lives and breathes in the “ALL”.

We come from “ALL” and we go back to “ALL”.

Paving the way for another.

This is the dance of eternity.

Breathing, Pulsing, Joining, Becoming

The way for all.

Thank you Maya for teaching us, showing us just how to live.  Thank you for your strength, your courage and your inner beauty.  I am moved  deeply with your life.  May I walk as you’ve walked in your lifetime.  May we all find our courage as you showed us so elegantly.  Peace be with you.

In Deep Gratitude,

Shakti

Heart Sense….Letting Go of the Mind

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“Oh the tangled web we weave within. Grieving that which we can bear no longer. Connected to our truth we untangle what we can, when we can. There is no place for disconnect when we heal ourselves deep within. The only suffering that exists is in the mind that says we are abandoned and alone. We suffer through ignorance and lose our place when we numb ourselves to avoid our truth. What is our truth? The one who denies such truth is our enemy. But our enemies are our teachers. So in truth we suffer only to spare ourselves that which we believe we can not bear.”

February has been a very heart-felt month. Surrendering and humbled, I sit with my tears and feel once again the confusion between grief and suffering.

I once asked a dear friend of mine what she thought the difference between grief and suffering was. Her answer was profound and true. Grief has an end whereas suffering doesn’t. Through the years, I have witnessed this within myself. Almost always when the tears of grief shed, there will always come a place of closure. Even though it may feel uncomfortable, vulnerable, and out of control there will always come a moment where I move through the grief.  I gain myself back and feel a sense of peace and even some inner light. Relief was given where pressure had built up to the point where a release was needed.

Suffering, in my experience always comes from a place of isolation, disconnect and abandonment (to oneself or with others). I often feel it is impossible to reach out to someone when I am crying through disconnect, as the suffering feels so isolating. Belonging and Connection are deeply desired within ourselves that if we don’t have it, we can experience such emotions through disconnect.

The only means that I know of to connect back when I feel I am in the loop of suffering is breathing and prayer. Recognizing that I am suffering is important because if I don’t ask if this is grief, I will cry and cry and cry feeling a deep loss within and without.

When we find ourselves facing difficult and emotional times, look to see if you are grieving or if you have decided to numb out through disconnect. We don’t do it intentionally, it can be out of habit and fear of experiencing our intense emotions. Giving ourselves permission to be human is very much a process of surrendering and acceptance of what is.

“What is” often feels like we are itching to get out of our skin. “What is” often feels like we want to run and hide.  

However, “What is” is simply being present with what is. Acknowledging the emotions, acknowledging our pain or sadness so we can accept it. Acceptance brings truth to where we are in this moment. And in doing so, great healing takes place.

That is a miracle, in my opinion.  

© All rights reserved.  2014

 

Happiness 101

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“When we appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”

Tal Ben-Shahar gives a remarkable presentation on happiness.

Watch Video here.

Do we give ourselves permission to be human?

Do we give others permission to be human?

Do we accept our intense emotions?

Are we lazy?  Are we active?  How do we handle stress?

Do we give ourselves time to replenish?  Do we simplify when the “busyness” gets out of control?

Are we savoring what is in the moment?

Do we meditate?  Do you practice cultivating gratitude?

3 deep breaths….

Real change only comes with action.

Applying ourselves through action.

 

 

This is my life.  The awareness to it all and yet, watching this brought me  a heavy heart.  Knowing and applying are very different concepts.  I am actually applying myself in a lot of areas, but like with anything, once you know better, you want to do better.  There lies the problem.  I know better and yet, I am unable to do better.  Why?  Because I still rely on outside influences to the degree that keep me from the self-care I really need.   With little ones, it’s just impossible to have any kind of flow to my day.  So really it’s about not being attached and going with what shows up.  But my basic needs don’t get met and then I lose ground on the “doing better when I know better”.  

Finding balance with a family is an art and I can see I have lots of learning in this arena.  Today, showing up was enough.  I can accept that.  Baby steps…it’s the best I can do today.  

xoxo,  Shakti

 

 

Creating Life….

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“When you hold on to your history, you do so at the expense of your destiny.”

Bishop T.D. Jakes

I just love this quote. It pretty much sums up what I am doing. When we have spent a lifetime defining ourselves from our story, we limit ourselves. Breaking out of this allows one to unfold and discover just how much energy is freed up for you to create. Create your life. Creative expression comes out in a million different ways for everyone. When you let the history go, you are free to create. Free to be and do anything. You have the passion, the drive and the energy to move in any way you want to. Isn’t that worth its weight in gold? Why would you choose anything else.

I know the ego wants to believe and have justice for whatever it is that you are holding on too. Sometimes, all we can do is take baby steps. But with each baby step you take in creating and expressing yourself as you are right now, without the story, you allow life and its mystery’s to live through you.

This morning I witnessed a lot of emotions wanting to surface. It really did not matter what the story was. The emotions wanted to be released. My mind gets really unsettled when stuff wants to bubble up and out in overwhelming ways. So I made every effort to allow it while creating and expressing. I put on my favorite music and for 3 ½ hours I painted. I allowed myself to be nourished by the music, by the colors and by just being present with what is.

I love watercolors. I love that spring wants to emerge out of me. And I love that I found a way to connect with what comforts me while working out the releases. Nothing bad happened, I found myself feeling the music and creating what needed to be expressed without the story. It was powerful. I am thankful that I was able to have this time to myself.  Here is what I made.

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9 Months into this and Definitely Birthing a new Me

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Like with all newborns, life is growing, developing and becoming who we inherently are. Let my rebirth allow such joy and freedom as part of my existence.”

Funny how it never really crossed my mind when I started this year commitment that there would be a significant change at 9 months….as if I was birthing myself. It just never crossed my mind. And yet, I would say some kind of transformation took place the last month. Some kind of metamorphosis took place and so even though I don’t feel transformed, I know I am transforming.

Deeper inside (as in looking at myself from the outside in), I  see the multi-layers of my mental thinking. Externally (in my mind) I appear weaker and more exhausted and still needing the rest from the last month of sickness (others around me see something totally different I am sure of that).  However, deep inside I feel clearer. I feel aligned and I feel stronger and even lighter. It’s such a weird thing to witness.

What I feel is happening has to do with my ego shedding. The external represents all of that. The ego is experiencing so much contrast and the heaviness and emotions and fears and all its wants to keep me held back.   I think January was about my life completely unraveling.  All the threads.  The inner mind is aware of what is happening and my guidance system is working really well. I was talking with a friend yesterday about how as I have been painting I have been losing weight. Some of the weight loss was from my fever bouts where I couldn’t eat, but after I got back on track, my appetite changed. I am less hungry. It crossed my mind that I am feeding and nourishing myself/ my soul at a real “aligned” place and I believe it is giving me what I need. Because of this, I am less hungry. I am still eating and I still get hungry, but I think I have found a difference (a balance) between real hunger and the habit of eating.  

It is so hard to know whether or not all these changes and getting sick have to do with the new year and the new energies that come with the year of the wood horse. Or if it is really from all the personal growth and birthing after 9 months of my commitment. What I know for sure is, I have accelerated my personal growth to a point that my soul has expanded to a place that my body is no longer capable of sustaining without some form of integration. The battle between the drive to move forward and live my purpose and the fear that holds me back from my past is evident. So here I am. This is what has brought me to therapy. (At least one of the reasons.). I must find the stamina, the practice and the momentum to integrate this into my body. My intellect has hit a place of “too much input” and I don’t want any more until I can release and move and sustain what I have.

I have been told that exercising/moving my body is a must to integrate all of this. My response is always the same…that it always makes me cry a lot. It’s always been an issue. Doctors look at me with three heads. Friends look at me without any compassion. And years go by with starting and stopping exercise routines, so often because the emotions that come with the movement tend to be over the top. Frankly it’s not fun. Who wants to go for a walk when all it does is bring tears. My acupuncture the other day said something really profound about this. She said, then make it my practice. If it takes 5 months to get past all the tears, then it means all of the stuff that is coming out in the form of tears is stored in my body. This is integrating. Uggh! For me though, it feels like a lifetime of tears that move out. That feeling when things feel “forever”. So my goal for this year is to embrace it.

In fact, my new affirmation that is bringing me much peace is “I now digest and assimilate my life’s lessons with grace and ease.” The bottom line is, it’s time for me to stop running from them. It’s time for me to stop fighting them. It’s time I accept the lessons, as it’s so crystal clear that they don’t go away. (As much as I wish they would.) They need to be digested, assimilated, and integrated into me. And so, I started painting them. Yes, what better way than for me to visually see the truth through colors and let it nourish me that way. I have 6 life lessons that I see.  Loving myself, Listening (whether it’s listening to myself or others, I am not clear yet. Both make sense), opening up, receiving joy, letting go and being present. These are my lessons that have shown up throughout my life. Perhaps there is one word to describe several of them, but this is how I heard it. So I will paint each one and let the vibration of that be a compass of healing.  I started the listening one yesterday.  When I ask what it looks like, I heard “breathing space”.  

My journey of self discovery, my journey of integrating my physical body and my soul so inner peace resides and my journey of living authentically continue.  I will remind myself often that it’s the journey and not the destination.  So I will enjoy the ride.  

I pray that my work I am doing has the ability to help others undergo their own transformations. Sometimes it just feels comforting when we know we aren’t the only one going through these growing pains.  I have also updated my artwork on my blog under the tab of inspiration/art work if you haven’t seen it yet.  

Spiritual Metamorphosis

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I am finding a light within the dark.

Ease in the ache.

Lessons I have yearned for and have avoided at the same time.

The duality of shame hides in shadow and leaves a footprint with each day that passes in my life.

Today something profound has shifted within me. An opening of worthiness came to life and a profound healing like a balm has soothed a deep place within me. I am capable of believing I am worthy of everything. Just like when I did an allowing journal, I spent the morning speaking a worthy list. I recited everything over and created hundreds of things I am worthy of. Each phrase sank deep into my cells and into my heart. I opened up to it and I am receiving it. It was truly a lifetime moment where it all came in.

Feeling deep heartfelt gratitude this morning. I am coming out of my cocoon I have been in. Words, expression, movement and ease are flowing. I am thrilled to be here today.   May everyday just get better and better.