The Beginings

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

Advertisements

I started this blog as a documentation of my journey thru the ups and downs and disappointments in life, namely my divorce, and life afterwards. I feel that my divorce has been such a pivotal point in my life, in that it has changed me so much as a person. I hope to be a bit of an inspiration to others who may going thru something similar and spread the hope that we can still find the beauty in life thru all the ups and downs.

Thank you,

Namaste

Beat the Drum: An Exploration Into Drum Circles

“Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous”
-Yehudi Menuhin

My hands lay on the taunt stretched hide, reverberations of rhythms filled the air. The pulse is moving through me as my fingers tap out a rhythm of their own. Soon it moves through my hands as I beat the drum, tentatively at first, but soon they beat full of impact and feeling. My body sways with the rhythm, and something intangible flows. We become one: an expression of ourselves and a dissolution of our self all at once.

My first experience with a drum circle was on Venice beach. It became the axis of my self realized journey, it opened something which lay dormant within me. I was drawn to the vibes of the drumming, the people dancing, the freedom in which they were so safe to express themselves, dancing barefoot on the beach. Full of life. A manifestation of individualized expression, unified as one. I didn’t get to partake in it, but as soon as I made my way back home I knew I wanted to experience it again. It took me almost a year to find my way back to the drum.

Ancient cultures have long used drumming as a means to foster social connections, conduct ceremonies, and as a gateway to spiritual transcendence.

Religious ceremonies based on music and dance can synchronize the underlying energy of the mind and directly influence our perceptions of reality. Ritual influences our modes of awareness that both underlie and transcend the normal patterns of consciousness. Rites can be used to rouse and shape group emotion and behavior, developing a continuous shared consciousness. Music vibrationally transmits states of mind directly from consciousness to consciousness

-Layne Redmond, When The Drummers Were Women

Drumming is a healing practice that knits together people of all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, or experience. It is a practice that spans across centuries of time and has a very profound and real effect on one’s whole health and well being. Studies have shown that rhythms at a certain tempo can have a healing effect on the areas of the brain that respond to stress. Perhaps this is because the very first sounds heard in utero is the mother’s heartbeat. We are created and formed in an environment that is pulsating with rhythm. Rhythm gives us life. The pulse in my veins, in my heart, pulses the same as your veins, and your heart. We all carry the rhythm of life inside of us.

With my first participation in a drum circle I was nervous of course, but that soon fell away as I listened to sounds of drumming. I closed my eyes and it became a meditation, I felt myself dissolve into the universal consciousness, the universal rhythms of all the being around me. My beat was my own expression, and yet as I closed my eyes I could feel the beat of all the other drums and moved in rhythm with them. There is a term for this: entrainment.  Meaning that when close together, two sperate entities with their own separate rhythms will sync up with one another. The beautiful thing about this within the drum circle is that our own preoccupations, our own perceptions of separateness dissolves. Because we are naturally rhythmic creatures, we cant help but synchronize rhythms with someone else, even someone who is a complete stranger. This brings about a powerful connection without words, just the beat of a drum.

This comes full circle for me, through my studies of Buddhism, this idea of the dissolution of perceived separateness, and coming to the realization that all beings are one. To me, the drum circle is a physical manifestation of that reality. In drumming one finds the rhythm that already exists inside, that sacred primal space. Inside we are transported to the present where nothing else exists other than the rhythms that arise and fall. And we are moved to do nothing else but beat the drum to our accord.

So I encourage you, get out there be wild and free, find the sacred rhythms that exists within yourself. Try not to brush off new experiences as too “out there” or “too weird” until you experience it for yourself. Shake off the confines of the ego and the mind and tap into your inner space. You never know what will come out on the other side. Be present and beat the drum.

-Namaste

Sources:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/traditional-healing-properties-drum-merge-latest-from-simon-faulkner/

http://www.villagerhythms.com/music/music/body_mind_spirit.html

https://www.rhythmresearchresources.net/drum-therapy-brain.html

 

Dating With a Zen Mind

To not need, to not cling to not attach to hopes about an unrealized future, to not hold onto idealized expectations, to let life unfold as it may, bringing present awareness to all situations.

This is what I am learning.

And I find myself back into singlehood, where normally I would be a wandering traveler, luggage heavy from the past, burdened down by disappointments, fueled by a desire to extinguish the lonely ache. But this time I am trying to approach singlehood differently, this time I am learning what it means to ride the crests and waves of disappointments that come with dating, and to hold space for times when beautiful connections are made; all with present awareness.

Recently, I found myself in a situation where I realized how much I was clinging to anticipation for a future with someone I really didn’t even know. Three dates in and I was building up a dreamscape of “us” in my head, three dates in and I expected that he felt the same, but three dates in and he did not return my text, three dates in and it was over, like a cloud smoke, blowing away. I was shocked, angry, I wanted an explanation, I felt I was owed something. But a friend once mentioned to me that no one owes me anything, and little by little I began to realize he was right. Each day unfolds moment by moment, everything is transitory, nothing lasts. So why should I expect someone, someone who is essentially a stranger to owe me anything? He is not mine to own, he is free with his own will and own mind, he did not promise me anything. My ego wanted an explanation, my ego wanted justice, my ego wanted to make me a victim.

But when a date or a relationship ends, it does not make one a victim. Disappointments are a part of life, and can definitely be a part of dating. Because in dating you open yourself up to a vast pool of other people, and you can never know who might enter your life. So take each moment as it comes, take the dates with a present and gracious heart. With an understanding that not all who come into your life are meant to stay, and let the experience simply just be.

Approaching dating with a present awareness means there is no search. Searching for that right relationship, or searching for that perfect someone means our minds are on the future and not in the present moment. And that, I have found takes a balance between effort and surrender. How do you meet other people if you are not looking? How do you foster a relationship if you are not actively putting in effort? These are questions that I am still asking myself, where is that balance? And I believe that balance is something different for everyone. For me no search doesn’t mean that I am not actively looking. I have been on a couple of dating sites, trying to find ways to connect with other singles. But do I let that override my entire day? Am I spending my entire day thinking about that one guy I “liked”, hoping that he will message me back? Do I come home at the end of the day and let whether or not I had any likes determine how I ultimately feel about myself? Am I always in “search” mode in my mind, thinking about the next person I might find online? Or do I let the present moment be the present moment? Sure, I may take a moment to intentionally scroll through profiles, but once I am done. I am present with myself and whatever may unfold. Whether or not that person messages me back, or likes my profile, it is only a moment unfolding, nothing more.

I have been reading many books to further my understanding of Zen, and mindfulness. One of the books, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living has been really helpful in providing insight and practical ways to practice mindfulness and cultivate a present awareness. One of their chapters addresses dating and I have pulled insight and perspective from there into my own life. In one section, they list some “rules” for Zen dating, and I have included the ones that resonate with me the most.

Some Rules for Zen Dating: Courtesy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living:

-Spend time each day in mediation, to stay in touch with who you are inside

-Recognize, acknowledge and release each of your assumptions and expectations

-Recognize your impulse to cling to or attach to someone else. You cant own anyone else. Let go. They  just might stick around.

-You can make plans with a potential partner, but don’t attach to those plans.

-Don’t do or say things based on what you think someone is thinking. You have no way of knowing what anyone else is thinking.

 

– Namaste

Embracing Loneliness

“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.” – Janet Fitch

 

I am afraid of loneliness, afraid that I would be undertaken by its dark currents, that I would drown in its the inevitable sea of suffering. I used to be afraid that if I were to be pitched by the throes of loneliness that I would not survive. I would fight against it, I would try to placate myself in unhealthy ways in an effort to not feel it, in an effort to not be dragged down alive. In my mind, loneliness was that worst thing that could befall upon me.

For me, loneliness comes from a place of fear, a fear that I am disconnected from others, that I am not valued, that that I am not good enough, or even that I am unlovable. And it is those false scripts that come along with loneliness that make it seem so unbearable. And so I get antsy, I get irritable, and I begin to feel that in order to break out of the loneliness I must look for it in places outside of myself. Drinking, bars, dating, hookups. Those all give a temporary escape, an almost high, but when I come back down to myself I would still feel that hole inside, gaping wide at me.

Loneliness is a human condition. It happens, it is inevitable. Just like sadness, or happiness, loneliness comes and goes like changes of a season. The problem is when we equate loneliness to other things, such I am unlovable, or I must be doing something wrong, or what is wrong with me? Sometimes we look down on loneliness as a condition of not being good enough. But loneliness happens, and its ok to be ok with loneliness. Can we ever completely evade the inevitable feeling that other people just don’t understand us? That other people don’t completely see us? Probably not, because no one else can ever completely see things in our own unique perspective or have our own unique thoughts. This in itself can be enough to cause feelings of loneliness from time to time.

So all in all, I have learned, or rather I am still learning that loneliness is not something to run from, it is not an outcome of failure. It is something to accept and embrace fully because it is just another spectrum of human feeling.

So now I am learning to sit. To sit and just be. To sit and just be with whatever emotions arrive because I know its temporary. To sit and just be and recognize the thoughts behind the loneliness. The thoughts that I have attached to, that false script. To sit and just recognize. Just recognize that loneliness happens, and I am not my thoughts. To sit and just recognize that I am loveable, that I am good enough, that I am in essence, connected to all beings. To sit and just recognize that healing comes from within and not from without. To sit and just be lonely. Because in being lonely I can find myself there.

“We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.” – Herman Hesse

  • Namaste

 

 

This Path I Choose to Take

This path I choose to take is all of my own, it has not been laid out before me. My bare feet grace the earth carrying me along as my palms rise up to the sun. This path I choose to take, I may walk it alone, because few may understand, and few may choose to shun. This path I choose to take has stirred my soul awake, and even though it is not all laid out I know it is my way home.

I have never fully embraced myself, the self that people have called “hippy dippy”. The self that has always been interested in eastern philosophy, alternative medicine, conscious living. But it’s always been apart of me, vey much the same way that art is a fabric of my soul. It seems to be who I am.

Growing up in a Christian household, I never felt fully comfortable with allowing myself to delve into eastern philosophy and eastern religions. There was always a sacrilegious air that made me question, made me second guess why I was being drawn to it. So I hid it away, but little did I know that by hiding it away I was somehow cutting off a part of myself.

I had a class in anthropology one semester in college, and while learning about different tribes and their religions it made me question everything I thought I knew about Christianity and religion. Like, would these people still go to hell if they never knew about God or Jesus? If these religions still point to and worship a source that is greater than them, isn’t that still worshiping God? I felt like I was in a religious drought, thirsty for a deeper source of meaning for my life. At that same University I remember reading an article about alternative medicine. I had thoughts about being a holistic health practitioner. But the article (from a Christian standpoint) explained how dangerous and pagan alternative eastern medicine was. In my mind at the time, pagan meant demonic. And I didn’t want to cross that line. And so with that I let go another part of myself….I began to wonder If there was something wrong with me, with wanting to look into other world philosophies and perspectives. In a fundamentalist Christian’s eyes, those things were taboo, those thing were dualist, those things were labeled as a “picking and choosing” and that was indeed a sin.

I personally have always struggled with making Christianity feel “real” to me. It was a lot of head knowledge but never seemed to flow from the heart. After my divorce, I began to pull away from fundamentalist Christianity, I began to wonder what was the true heart my beliefs, were they my own or were they installed by my upbringing? My spiritual life was stalled for at least 3 years, that question hummed in the back of mind. Until recently. I felt that heart pounding, soul strumming calling when I was at Venice beach. The laid-back bohemian vibes called me back to a time when I felt free. I felt stirred. What was calling me? Then I heard it, the pounding of drums, the whoops and hollers and clapping of hands. Then I saw it, people dancing, barefoot in the sand, a spirit of something moving through them. They had no cares, they were free, they just danced, and to me it looked like the happiest place on earth to be. I longed to be with them, to join them, to be one of them. My soul stirred, and I began to awake.

After my encounter with the drum circle I remember coming back home and doing an internet search for drum circles in my area, and then I came across ecstatic dance. I have written about ecstatic dance before, so I’m not going into a lot detail about it but it was another way for my that piece of my soul to crack open even wider, into another way of coming into being, into becoming whole with myself again. So with ecstatic dance in my life, I began to wonder what other ways I could open myself up to live more consciously, to be more in tune with myself. That’s where meditation came into my life. After I practiced it daily for about a week, I began to notice that I held a lot less tension throughout my day, I wasn’t so anxious, or angst ridden, I began to feel a true sense of peace arising within me. But I still wanted more, I didn’t just want mindfulness, I wanted a new way being, a new way of living a whole new philosophy to guide further guide my life.

So I finally gave myself permission to be free, to be free to look into what always interested me without guilt, without feeling like I was a heretic, or that I would be shunned for it. I gave myself permission to real, to be authentic. And that what Buddhism had brought to me. A sense of authenticity a sense of wholeness within myself. I have looked into other philosophies and ideas, such as Hinduism, or Kundalini, but Zen Buddhism seemed to be the most approachable to me. It seems less watered down than New Age content, more grounded and real than Kundalini, and it doesn’t concern itself with hundreds of deities like Hinduism. To me it seems to be a more personal and ongoing daily practice of being present with onself, and in turn being present with the world. Somehow that simplicity has had a profound impact on my sense of being. I have only been studying it for a month, but I felt myself open up more and more everyday. So I am not ashamed to walk this path, although in the back of my mind I wonder from time to time is this right (from that old Christian view point) but never has a way of living brought me so much peace, never has a way of living poured from my heart, from a place of authenticity, from a connection within myself.

-Namaste

To Stop Living for Social Media

I have been guilty of this: posting a picture or sharing some other form of a post on social media (Facebook for me) in the hopes and anticipation of getting likes or comments. The problem with this was, I was looking for validation and my validation hinged on how many likes or comment I got on a particular picture or post. I went through a period of time where I felt it necessary to post a selfie every single time I got dressed up, or to check into whatever new bar or restaurant I went to. This was a period when I was trying to find myself after my divorce, and I was searching for outside validation that my life was meaningful, and glamourous. I wanted other people to see that I was doing o.k; or that I was doing more than o.k, I was going out and living life. But the issue with this came to the forefront for me when I realized that if I didn’t have something to post on a Friday or Saturday night, I felt my life was empty. I started to live for social media, I tried to fill up my calendar with dates just so I could post something on Facebook, just so I could say hey look at me! Because deep down I felt very empty, lonely and disconnected from the world. It was unsettling how down I would feel because I only received 3 likes on a picture when I felt it should have been more. My sense of well being relied on other people who I barely knew or scarcely talked to, people who might take a 1 second glance, and split second decision to click a button, that’s what my life was being tied to.

When I began to realize my dependence on social media, and I started to take a step back. I began to realize that what was important was next to me: my son. And I had everything for validation inside of me as well: the love, the light, who I am at core. I had to stop searching for it outside, and slowly, I began to cultivate a self love at a deeper level. I began to realize that a meaningful moment can be watered down by waiting for someone to arbitrarily hit “like”. I began to realize that it is not up to others who are barely in our life to make something special to us. My precious moments with my son, although I may share are not up for others to passively consume as they idlily pass the time. No those precious moments are precious to me and to me alone, no one else will ever understand the depth of those moments, So keep those moments precious, and if you intend to post them, consciously hold the weight of its meaning in your heart where it cannot be altered by outside opinions.

Perhaps we should post with more intention. If you wish to share then share with the intent to educate, uplift, inspire, to love, to move. Not for validation, not for an opinion. not for others to judge your life or to be fueled by envy for how you live. Post for community, post for sharing moments with those you love. Keep in mind that “likes” are  arbitrary and useless when the real meaning is found inside your heart.

-Namaste

A Life of Intention

In light of the new year, there are so many articles out there already about making goals, and changing ourselves in light of “new year, new you” mantra. We start on our resolutions, only to abandon them by February. We think that this is year that we will finally do this or that, only to be set back by unforeseen circumstances or for some reason we don’t get to it. I know because I was that person, I made resolution, I made empty promises to change one thing or another. Sometimes I was able to cross things off my list, others times not. Sometimes the year would past by and my list would have collected by December. But not this year. This year I will not make resolutions, I will not make goals where upon I am called to completely change myself, this is not the year that I will become a different person, this is the year where I recognize who I already am.

A new year brings promises of change. But that change won’t always be the pretty, gilded messages that we always see on social media. Change is not always happy, or carefree, change can be hard. It can mean letting go of old relationships, jobs, or anything else that doesn’t necessary serve you. Change is hard. That is why it is important to set intentions, to have an open and honest communication with our self about what we need (or don’t need) out of life. Intentions cultivate a mindful approach to how we want to live our life and to follow through. But we have to be honest, we have to dig deep, and we have to get real. We have to learn to listen to our inner guidance, our intuition, inner voice, whatever you may want to call it. We have to learn to be still, find the quiet moments and meditate, listen to our hearts and find answers in the stillness of our minds.

Resolutions and goal setting may work for some, but I feel like they only skim the surface of what we are trying to attain. For example, if I wanted to make a resolution to stop drinking, it would be helpful to think about the reasons behind it. A blanket statement without much thought makes it too easy for us to minimize or dismiss the value of why we made that resolution in the first place. Is it for health reasons? Do my friends think I drink too much? Is it for mental clarity? Thinking deeply about the “why” is helpful to attaining our goals and fulfillment in life. What if instead of saying “I’m going to stop drinking this year” I instead say “I want attain more mental clarity this year, I want to be more mindful in all aspects of my life”. After introspection, it may be necessary to stop drinking to attain this, as well fine tuning other areas of life. Intentions give us the tools to navigate our life in the direction we choose. I like to think of life as being in a boat, and our intentions are the rudder we use to steer our boat; as we align our intentions more with the purpose and direction of our life, we can more aptly navigate through life’s journey.

My example: I wanted to live this year with more intention; my intention was to be more intentional with my life. Which meant to have intentional relationships, to be more intentional with my day to day activities, i.e. not scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed for an hour just because I’m bored. Instead, if I’m bored I’ll can read a book or an article, learn something new, write, paint, be more intentional with my day instead of feeling like it has slipped by with meaningless activities. I want my life to be filled with more meaningful things, meaningful relationships, meaningful days, meaningful living. To give my life more context in how to be more intentional, I felt that it would be helpful to think of a word or phrase that I can use each month to focus on, which will take me a little bit deeper than just saying, I will be more intentional.

My focus word for this month is “Explore”. I will explore freely what life has to offer me, I will not hold myself back by fear, or uncertainty, I welcome new experiences with an open heart and mind. Too often there are many, many things I would like to try, but I end up holding myself back, because I’m too afraid, or I make up excuses such as I don’t have time, or the resources. But by putting this word into focus for the month, I am hopeful I can start making changes by allowing myself to intentionally set aside time to explore the things that intrigue me, intentionally set aside money if needed, to pursue what I have always wanted. And to remind myself everyday what is guiding me when I feel like I am slipping out of focus. What are your intentions for the New Year? Feel free to comment.

-Namaste

A New Year’s Manifesto

This is your year…

Your year to discover your path, your journey.

This is your year to expand beyond yourself and connect with others.

This is your year to set your intentions and follow through with your goals and ideas.

This is your year….

It will not be easy, good things never are…

This year when you endure hardships, and loneliness, when you are crying out from the depths of your soul…

You will remember your path, your intentions, and how you made it here thus far.

You will not use drugs or alcohol or overindulgence as a way to escape.

You will cope in a healthy way, integrating body and mind. Movement is medicine. Mindfulness is power.

You will remember that you are a part of a larger whole, and you matter. What you do matters.

You are a child of the universe.

And this is your year.

-With love, Namaste