Archive for spiritual awakening
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who generously share their wisdom and insight with me. Sometimes they are not even aware of the powerful affect that their words have had.
This is a shout out, a grateful salute, a love wave to all of the amazing beings whose words have provided much needed inspiration over the past few months.
‘Duh, Uncle Joe.’ – Noel, my 3-year-old niece
‘Go deeper.’ – Murray Nossel, Narativ, Inc. Storytelling Founder and Facilitator
‘How are you going to fund your dreams?’ – Lisa Nichols
‘Where are you? You seem very far away.’ – a friend
‘Pay attention.’ – a consistent note in my meditations
‘You just need to ask for it.’ – Eugenia
‘No more second best.’ – Robin Coley
What inspiring things have been spoken in your presence lately?
Today’s Powerful and Positive Affirmation is:
“I am open to inspiration and wisdom from unlimited sources.”
Thanks and peace to all!
For the past five years, during the second week of July, I have spent many hours in the presence of (and even oh, so briefly and memorably in the arms of) a small, slightly round, smiling woman from India, immersing myself in an energy that has only one name: love.
“‘Amma’ as she is known all over the world today, has inspired and started innumerable humanitarian services. She has earned international recognition for her outstanding contributions to the world community. She is recognized as an extraordinary spiritual leader by the United Nations and by the people all over the world.
For the past 35 years Amma has dedicated her life to the uplifting of suffering humanity through the simplest of gestures – an embrace. In this intimate manner Amma has blessed and consoled more than 25 million people throughout the world.”
The first time I received a hug from Amma, I wept uncontrollably. The force of her loving embrace was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Each time I see her the tears flow. They are tears of joy, remembrance and gratitude. In the presence of a woman who emits absolute love I also smile, bow, and stare transfixed.
Last week, sitting with thousands of others in New York City’s Manhattan Center, I watched as Amma hugged an endless stream of devotees and curious first-timers. As I happily approached Amma for darshan, I smiled and witnessed the embrace of people in front of me. I saw many of those people break down in tears before the hug began. “Looks familiar,” I thought. My smile stayed on my face as she drew me close and I whispered, “Thank you”, countless times. Kneeling on the floor a few feet away afterward, I felt dizzy and could not focus my eyes. For several minutes I knelt, my eyes closed, hearing Amma’s voice in my head saying “You are love. You are love.”, as I prayed for guidance.
I found my friend Robin sitting in a chair nearby. She had come to see Amma for the first time. “I feel like my life has changed,” she said. I nodded in understanding. We barely spoke for the next 20 minutes, each of us taking in what we had received.
Today I am grateful for Amma, my friend Deborah for encouraging me for years to experience Amma, all of my friends who have sat with me through Amma’s programs, unconditional love, profound awareness, waking to a new day, silence, the Dunbar garden, my fellow gardeners and neighbors, summer, and abundant success all ways.
Thanks and peace.
I shop at Fairway Market on 74th St. and Broadway in Manhattan. I’ve shopped there for several years because I like the selection of foods, the prices suit me, and the location is convenient. I hop off the #3 train at W. 72nd St. on my way uptown, grab my groceries, and head back to the #3. Easy.
Lately the Fairway has become something more than just my favorite market for groceries. It has become a place for enlightenment. Yes, it’s true, I’ve been having mystical experiences in a grocery store. Last night, for example, I went to Fairway to get my favorite Sabra hummus with roasted pine nuts and found myself wandering around the aisles in a state of bliss.
I was on my way home after a workout at the McBurney YMCA and decided that I must have that hummus. I sat on the subway reading Byron Katie’s (there she is again!) Question Your Thinking, Change The World, and was letting the following passage sink in as the train reached my stop:
‘The advice you’ve been giving your family and friends turns out to be advice for you to live, not us. You become the wise teacher as you become a student of yourself. It stops mattering if anyone else hears you, because you’re listening. You are the wisdom you offer us, breathing and walking and effortlessly moving on, as you make your business deal, buy your groceries, or do the dishes.’
Waiting for the light to change at 73rd St. so I could cross Broadway, I called a friend. We chatted briefly as I approached the rows of flowers, fruits and vegetables that line the street outside the market. I said goodbye to Lynn, grabbed a few apples and pears, and headed for the entrance. As I walked into the store I noticed how vibrant the colors of the oranges, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and Odwalla juice bottles seemed. Then I thought of my dear friend Lynn and how much I love her. A warmth filled my chest. I strolled down the aisles looking at the abundant variety of food and felt so grateful. I filled my small basket with a dozen eggs, chocolate, coconut water, several cans of cat food, rice pasta, grilled artichoke hearts, and two containers of hummus. Every time I placed something in the basket I smiled. I looked people in the eye and smiled. I thought of Lynn again, and Fred, Leslie, Eduardo, Holly, Mary Anne and Lou. Such amazing people! Such sweet souls! How blessed I am to have them in my life. I thought of my family and how good it is to finally let them be who they are. I felt lighter and lighter with every step as love poured over me, into me.
By the time I reached the checkout I was utterly peaceful. “Everything is perfect,” I thought. “I have all that I need. That’s the way it’s always been.”
Thanks and peace!
On Wednesday morning I was talking with my wonderful teacher, Rosa. I have known Rosa for almost 16 years. She helped get me started on my spiritual path.
At the beginning of our conversation Rosa asked me about my experience with Byron Katie two weeks ago. For several moments I could not speak. “Breathe, Joe,” Rosa advised.
“It was like meeting you for the first time,” I whispered as tears of gratitude rolled down my face. “I feel like a different person. Now I know deep inside what you have been trying to tell me for so long. What was I doing for all of those years?”
Rosa and I laughed. “Well, you know,” she said, “the door was open and you kept shutting it.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I guess I just wasn’t ready or able to take it in this way.”
In truth I have been getting closer and closer to this moment of clarity for a very long time. It’s the next step on a fantastic voyage. Fishing for Soul never ends, and that’s a humbling and beautiful thing for me to know.
Here’s what I’ve taken away from watching Byron Katie’s video clips, reading her books, spending a weekend in her presence, and from years of study with Rosa, Lorna Roberts, John Beaulieu, Sandra Ingerman, Mallku, Victor Estrada, Val Lordi, my family, friends, lovers, students, clients, neighbors, coworkers (all and more have been my teacher and I am so grateful):
– I’ve tried in vain to suppress ‘negative’ thoughts. When I do that I get exhausted and experience pain.
– If I don’t love all of my thoughts then I am rejecting a part of myself and have less love to offer others.
– I’m at war with myself when I try to suppress anything I think should not be thought.
– It is easy, with practice, to just have a thought, notice it, and allow the next one to come with love.
– An attachment to a thought is a belief and can lead to suffering.
– I am what I believe I am.
– The world is perfect.
Rosa and I talked some more about our journey together. As our session came to a close my throat tightened, my chest became heavy, and my eyes once again filled with tears.
“You saved my life 16 years ago,” I told her.
“Joe,” Rosa said in her softest voice, “you saved your own life. I just offered you a light and you took it.”
Thanks and peace.
This is what The Work invites you to ask yourself about your thoughts:
Is that true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
I spent two days reviewing those questions with the help of Byron Katie and about 300 other people this past weekend. I find that it’s not always easy to take an honest assessment of myself without having someone else there to be my witness, and to hear my stories (those very old, very tired, very tattered, and very alive stories that keep me in a place of suffering). According to The Work of Byron Katie web site, “The Work is meditation. It’s about awareness, not about trying to change your thoughts. Ask the questions, then take your time, go inside, and wait for the deeper answers to surface.”
What I discovered on Sunday was that I am unwilling (I’d like to say ‘at times’ here, but if I were to stick to a yes or no answer I have to say “Yes, I am unwilling”) to allow myself to have negative thoughts about certain things such as money, past relationships, and family. I spend an extraordinary amount of time trying NOT to have them when the fact is they are there in picture form in my mind, as words racing around my brain, as feelings stuck in my gut. There’s a war going on in my head when I try to push away thoughts that I judge as bad. What if I could, as the work invites, be willing to think, be open to having, and even look forward to experiencing those negative thoughts? That’s radical to me, and extremely liberating.
As I practice this new way of being I notice that there is much more space for me, for stillness, for listening, and for receiving. Yesterday I walked around Manhattan having thoughts as I always do, positive and negative, and not judging them, just watching them go by. What a relief! I feel like I have discovered a secret, one that I have been stalking for 16 years, one that I have had bits and pieces of but wasn’t quite ready to fully accept as truth. How exciting! What next?
For the past week I have noticed an alarming trend: Foot-in-mouth disease is on the rise and it has infiltrated the life of yours truly.
I first noticed the symptoms last Wednesday as I was crossing the street near The Plaza on Central Park South talking to a co-worker on my cell phone. A judgment about a woman in front of me caused me to pause and reflect. Half an hour later I was heading into the gym and made an off-color remark to a friend, again on my cell. The next day I was frantically running around my apartment trying to find something that the cat was obviously hiding from me and in my craziness I began to yell at the ‘f@#$* idiot’ outside who was talking loudly ON HIS CELL PHONE! In a fitness class an hour later I was shocked as yet another bizarre comment forced itself out of my mouth. And then there were those pronouncements over the weekend. Geez! What is going on? Am I possesed?
Hopefully I am possesed with Awareness that will allow me to change my behavior. In those moments when my not so tactful comments emerge, things seem to move in slow motion and my voice reverberates in my ears. It is as though I am being called upon to pay very close attention to what is happening. At the “Uh-oh” point I hear the Universe say, “Do you really want to continue to think and speak like that?”
I often get embarrassed by my words and pray that no one has picked up on what I said. However, the lesson would easily slip away if my comments were not pointed out to me by those within earshot. Quite often those people are my friends who courageously phone or email me with their diagnosis of my affliction. At that point my ego makes an appearance. In surprised outrage it says, “Who me? Yeah, I may have said that, but, did you ask yourself why it’s bothering you so much? It’s really less about me and more about you, OK. Think about that.”
Dear ego: Take a hike!
As I meditated on my condition, some messages came through.
“You are noticing a rise in your inner critic and your old sense of entitlement, and are experiencing a re-emerging of your commitment to grow beyond your current frame of mind. Think of it this way: Now is a very good time to say goodbye to thoughts, feelings and actions that have caused you to think less of your self and that have created a chasm between you and your best self. It is truly a victory for a more power-filled you. Celebrate! Don’t exacerbate this by dwelling on the negative aspects of what was.”
So be it.
Thanks and Peace!