There is no aspect of life more ripe with opportunities to grow than our relationships. It also seems to be perhaps the most difficult and often painful way to learn. Sometimes, I get the distinct impression that I may have been a little over confident when I signed up for what I wanted to achieve this lifetime.
I can see it now, back in the place it all began, way before I was born. A fluffy, nebulous space of brilliant, white light. There I am, in my shiny soul nakedness, just brimming with enthusiasm about my coming incarnation, having a chat with God about what I might like to learn this time around.
” I’m so stoked about this lifetime, God. I’m totally inspired and excited. This is my time, I can just feel it. This is gonna be my last time around. I just know it”
“There’s no reason to rush dear. You have all the time in the world to complete the syllabus. Besides, this is infinity, you don’t get extra credit for finishing ahead of time” God chuckles, being particularly partial to a pun.
“No really, God. I’ve been over the last one, I see exactly where I went wrong – I know I’m ready. You know, you really had me with that parenting thing. You really got me going. I just have to tell you, that is the most brilliant way to teach unconditional love, I don’t know how you come up with this stuff.”
“Oh, well you know… I’ve had a bit of practice, and of course the omniscience thing is handy, “ God murmurs, with customary modesty “Anyway, back to you. Have you had a think about what you might like to try this time? I thought you might like to give Life Purpose 101 a go” He suggests gently.
“Life Purpose? No way God, I want you to really challenge me this time. I want to do Relationships again, but this time, take off the training wheels, I’m going for Gold!”
” Ahh, hmm, I see.” God pauses, for quite a long time, until squirming, I interrupt the silence
“God, I know what you’re thinking..” God raises an eyebrow
“Well, erm, no obviously not” I respond a little sheepishly “The thing is God, I just wanted to say that whilst it may have looked like a bit of train wreck from your perspective, especially towards the end of my marriage, I feel I grew so much and I have given it a lot of thought and… well, I just know I am not going to make the same mistakes again”
God tactfully says nothing and look into the middle distance. In retrospect, I can see he was probably mulling over the free will issue and how difficult it is to uphold when you really just want to steer your creations away from the impending cliff edge of their own self-destruction.
“Trust me on this, God. I’m ready. Don’t hold anything back, I want you to give me your best shot.”
“As you wish, my child, as you wish.”
And here I am. Stumbling clumsily between the ego: “why is this happening to me?” and highest self: “what am I being shown here?”. Some days, some years, some relationships it feels like the time I misguidedly imagined I could become some other version of me who isn’t terrified of rollercoasters and got on Space Mountain at Disney.
I’m holding my breath, clenching my teeth and hanging on for dear life. All I can do is try to remember that this crazy rollercoaster ride through the darkness only feels like it is going to be fatal. That it’s going to end and I’ll be back in the light pretty soon. In the light is where I feel like I’m finally getting it. I can see where my patterns are, painful as it is to really see them. But it is in becoming conscious that we can finally choose a different behaviour and that’s when we get to choose to stop the ride and get off.
A prayer or intention for the rollercoaster of unhealthy relationships
Dear God, (or Goddess, Universe, Highest Self…whatever works for you)
Please heal the part of me that permits and accepts unhealthy relationships.
Teach me to protect my inner child from people who hurt her/him, even unintentionally.
Show me that forgiveness doesn’t mean staying connected at the expense of my well-being.
Remind me that it’s not my job to try to heal or change other people but simply to learn the lessons I am being shown.
Help me surrender, to trust and let go.
Amen (or So Be it, Thank you, Om Shanti)
I have become quite entranced by the power of organizing this year and I am recommending it to several of my clients and many of my friends. I have been waxing lyrical about discovering the almost magical healing properties of this seemingly mundane activity. Ironically, given that it is all about the physical detritus we accumulate over a lifetime, I have found that organizing is, in fact, very good for the soul.
- Want to know the biggest secret about organizing? It’s not about the stuff
To say organizing is about the stuff is to say that kissing is about moving your mouth around next to someone else’s. Which is to say that the sum of the whole is far greater than the parts. It’s a process, people and within this process there are many profound revelations and hidden benefits to be had.
To begin with, it’s an eye-opening indicator about just how much attention (or not) we have been paying to what surrounds us. Some people say that the state of your surroundings is a direct reflection of your state of mind and I have to say, that for me at least, there is a lot of truth to that. To begin with is the fact that the times I start to get messy coincide with the times I am feeling overly stressed or rushed. Of course, this easily becomes a vicious cycle if you find it stressful to be in disorderly surroundings.
I happen to think there may actually be some scientific merit to the idea that de-cluttering reduces stress, if only because it must take more energy to be in a cluttered room because each time our eyes survey it, our optic nerves and brain have to fire off so many more times to relay the information about all the stuff they are seeing.
So there’s something to be gained from the end result but what I haven’t heard so much about, is the healing that can happen along the way. Having recently gone through all of my possessions, I looked at, touched and made a conscious decision about the value and benefit of keeping each thing. In my case, needing to decide whether each thing is worth the cost of either storing or shipping pushed the stakes quite a bit higher.
What was astounding to me, given that I have moved a fair bit and most recently within two years, was the embarrassing amount of stuff that I really didn’t even know I had in my possession. I wish I had kept count of the astonishing number of trash sacks of stuff that got thrown away, not to mention all the things that were donated or sold. And at the end of all that, I still look at what I ended up with and feel that there is more to be let go.
Looking at mementoes from the past can be bitter-sweet. Reading love letters from someone who no longer shows us that they love us – for whatever reason – brings grief as we remember and re-experience joys and love lost and feel the pain of its absence.
Organizing gives us the opportunity to come face-to-face with a literal manifestation of how much emotional baggage we are carrying around.
The letting go was at times incredibly painful but when you stop to really think about it, totally irrational. Why do we get so attached to things? Of course, what we are really attached to is the meaning we ascribe to that thing, for a really good explanation of this, check out what my friend Jon has to say about Essentialism here.
What I came to realize was that the reason it was so hard to let go of certain things was because I greatly valued the meaning that I had attached to them. I realized that my reluctance had to do with feeling like I was letting go of experiences and emotions I wish were part of my present. So I understood that it hurt because it was very important to me to be able to remind myself or perhaps even to prove to myself that at this time I felt loved, at that time I felt happy or successful, or creative or whatever that emotion was that I want to be able to hold on to.
One of the most difficult parts of the experience was realizing that I needed to acknowledge that not only certain relationships were over, but also that certain phases of my life are over. That there are roles I wish I were playing in my life and other people’s lives that simply don’t fit or exist anymore. I realized I had been holding on to the props required for the movie set of the life I wished I was living.
Letting go of the things shattered my denial and resistance to being fully in the present – which of course is the only place we actually exist in. When I am able to drag myself (sometimes kicking and screaming) into fully being in the present, which perhaps I fear will be just too painful to even survive, I always experience relief. I need to try to remember that just like throwing up, once I finally submit to the inevitable, I always feel so much better afterwards. And the present is where the rebuilding can begin.
So this, dear reader, is how I came to discover the little known fact that organizing is in fact, a sort of spiritual practice since just like meditation it brings one into the present. Organizing facilitates a healing whereby we can review the past and acknowledge its gifts and lessons. As we take the gifts and lessons into our minds and hearts, we can let go of the stuff and without all that baggage it is so much easier to gracefully move on and grow towards a better future.
Today is Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the year to those of the Jewish faith which calls for reflection, repentance and atonement.
As I thought about this day and what it means, I was struck by the idea that the desire to make amends or reparation for wrong-doing to another is, at the heart of things, a process of recognition that we are not separate.
Repentance requires from the transgressor an identification with and a validation of the pain of the victim. Sin is an act of separation, but both repentance and forgiveness unite. Thus, atonement can be understood as At-one-ment, a fundamentally yogic practice.
The Jewish prayers said today enumerate the many forms of sin that might need to be confessed. One of the first of which is described as having “hardened our hearts“. The hardening of our hearts may sometimes start as a desire to protect ourselves, yet the armored heart ultimately functions to inhibit our ability to feel another’s pain.
Once our vulnerability is secured beneath the shell of a hardened heart, our compassion becomes hidden alongside it. The hardened heart is disconnected from the other and becomes consumed with the ego of its individuality which need not be affected by the suffering of another.
The hardened heart belongs to both victim and transgressor and in many relationships both parties play both roles, in turns or simultaneously. But there is a cure for this evil malady, it is the practice of unconditional love.
As my yoga teacher Shiva Das would say “it’s easy to love when it’s easy to love”. But it is when it is least easy to love, that it may be the most powerful and the most important to do so. This is a rigorous spiritual practice, it requires faith, humility and discipline.
The revelation I had today was that true liberation from my own suffering was possible through the healing power of love. In order to be free, we must reject the illusion that we are a wounded child and remember the divinity within us that connects us with infinite, benevolent power.
By choosing to love precisely at the moment that it would seem impossible to do so, by loving the person who seems least deserving of our love, we transcend the role of victim. We are able to view the transgressor and ourselves and the similarities between us with compassion.
The division between us falls away and we see that we are both struggling and striving in our perfectly imperfect ways to understand what we are being asked to learn. In this moment of Namaste, all things are possible.
Today I celebrate a deeper understanding of how “Love is the Strongest Medicine”. Even as we feel broken by others, we can heal and grow by consciously going beyond forgiveness and striving to love those who hurt us.
Perhaps the true loves of our life are the people who challenge us the most to love them unconditionally. It is not an easy path. But when we succeed, how sweet the reward. When my heart is fully focussed on giving love, there is no space to fear or recollect it’s absence. In this moment, love will give us a God’s eye view of the situation and miracles can truly occur.
Being in the business of helping people, it’s a little annoying that it always seems so much more difficult when I’m dealing with my own problems. Undoubtedly it’s all due to a lack of perspective and not being able to see the wood for the trees. Sometimes the answer we are so desperately seeking comes simply from being able to find the right questions. I’m grateful to have had a breakthrough tonight when I read this question from the fabulous Cheri Huber
“What do you have in your life and what do you exclude from your life in order to avoid discomfort?”
Cue major epiphany. Not so much because I answered the question but because, all of a sudden, I became aware of the way I was reacting to the problem. Inspiration came when I realized that a beautiful solution to this and every other problem might lie in simply changing the way I thought about the whole concept of having a problem. Back to Cheri here, who succinctly explains in The Key that there are Four Causes of Suffering:
- Not getting what you want
- Getting what you want and not being satisfied with it
- Having to endure the absence of those or that which you love
- Having to endure the presence to those or that which you do not love
The issue, in every case is that we don’t like that which we don’t like and that our reaction to experiencing discomfort or fearing that we are about to experience discomfort is to attempt to do just about anything to avoid it. The ego goes into over-drive in an all out attempt to control and change things. I think that actually having some tools and skills in the interpersonal realm can put one at a huge disadvantage here as the danger is that we can become consumed by the fallacy that if we just try harder or longer we can make it all better.
Some part of our brain is fixated on a series of irrational assertions centered in the flawed logic that insists that things should be different. That this version of reality is totally unacceptable. That if we were to take the unimaginable risk of accepting the way things are, nothing is going to change. That by taking a stand and refusing to accept the way things are, we have some possibility of changing them. Not so much. The truth is that there is one and only one thing within our control and that is how we think about things.
When it comes to reality, resistance is futile because resisting reality is really the problem.
And here is where the miracle comes in. When I am able to give up my attachment to the way I hoped, or dreamed or believed things should be, it actually comes as something of a relief, suffering is really exhausting.
There is a peace in the acceptance that comes from surrendering the impossible task of trying to control the universe. It’s even better when we entertain the concept that someone or something much better and bigger than us is actually in charge.
Here’s to serenity.
How about we do this in three dimensions some time? I am booking individual and couple sessions in April at this time and have some limited availability for Skype sessions in March. Also, today I updated the Workshops and Seminars page so please click on over to check out the Spring workshop schedule which includes the Freedom Peace & Power one-day life-makeover workshop for people who want to give their healing, growth and living at their full potential a super boost and the highly successful Vive La Différence weekend workshop for couples interested in more relationship goodness and joy than they will know what to do with.
Hope to see you soon, even if it’s on Skype.
I had an amazing weekend facilitating the Vive La Différence Weekend for Couples with Bruce Gold. I am awed and humbled by the transformational power of love. It truly is the strongest medicine. This morning, one of the participants forwarded me an email she had received today which I would like to share with you along with a song – MC YOGI Give Love.
Daily Inspiration for Monday, February 27, 2012 from Renaissance Unity
“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”
My passion is freedom and my purpose is love.
Your presence in my life is like a burning fire and a cool breeze.
Your truth pushes and cradles me.
I intend to be a better person today than I was yesterday.
With Your help, I passionately live my purpose.
With my help, You transform the world.
And so it is.
Today I hope that you feel connected to and inspired by your life’s purpose.
MATER DOLOROSA: THE UN-RUINED HEART
“It is said by the old women of the family that the hilts of the swords piercing Our Lady’s heart are shaped like the curling sepals which protect the buds of roses..
..that with prayer and time, each sword hilt will burst into seven fragrant roses, blooming again and again, because suffering brings the rain of tears, because the rain of tears waters the earth, because moisture on dry earth of our being is guaranteed to bring forth new life.
Tears are a river that take you somewhere… somewhere better, somewhere good.”
“The swords through your heart are not the ones which caused your wounds, but rather, these mighty swords of Strength were earned by your struggles through hard times.
Sword of Surrender: to withstand this time of learning.
Sword of Veils: to pierce the hidden meanings of this time.
Sword of Healing: to lance one’s own agony, bitterness.
Sword of New Life: to cut through, cut loose, plant anew.
Sword of Courage: to speak up, row on, touch others.
Sword of Life Force: to draw from, lean on, purify.
Sword of Love: often heaviest to lift consistently;
turns one away from war, to instead,
fall into the arms of Immaculate Strength.
O Immaculate Heart of My Mother,
give me shelter in the beautiful chambers of your heart.
Keep me strong, fierce, loving, and able in this world.
Remind me daily, that despite my imperfections,
my heart remains,
From the book “Untie the Strong Woman” by Clarissa Pinkola-Estés
Sweetheart, I’m so glad you reached out to me. I hear that you are hurting.
I’m so sorry that life is really hard right now.
I have time for you. How can I support you right now?
Where are you? Can you find somewhere quiet and safe that you can lie down on the ground?
Take a breath.
All the way in and all the way out.
When you feel ready, become aware of the floor underneath you. Mother earth, holding you in the palm of her hand.
Let go, let her take your weight.
Relax. Feel everything soften as you sink in to the support of the earth beneath you.
Feel peace spreading inside you, like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
When you feel ready, can you open your eyes and say hello to your toes?
Notice your feet, your legs and send them some appreciation for carrying you this far on your journey.
Take another breath.
Put one hand on your tummy and the other on your heart.
Can you feel your heart beating?
Let yourself notice the beat of your heart, the one constant thing that remains.
Be an empty beach at the end of the day,
The echoes of the childrens voices have faded away
and all that remains is the whisper of the surf,
As the waves go in and out, like the breath,
In and then out.
Bring your awareness to your face now.
Pay close attention
Can you feel the breath here? Going in and out.
Can you feel the warmth of your skin, radiating out in to the air?
Wait, listen, can you feel something else?
It’s the softness of a hundred butterfly kisses,
Tiny kisses of love and light.
From all the invisible loves that surround you.
And love from before,
Love from ahead,
And love from beyond.
Feel it now. Open to this love and see it surround you,
Let it fill every cell and dry every tear.
Hear the celebration for every moment of your being,
Your strength and your courage, your big, beautiful heart.
You are safe, You are loved
You are safe, You are loved
Inspired by my best friend Lauren, who is always there when I get lost, with her timeless, patient, peaceful wisdom to guide me safely back to shore.
Holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year but they can also be the most difficult. There is something about the message that this particular time should be full of joy that can create a lot more pressure for people who aren’t feeling particularly joyful for various reasons. One of the keys to getting through it is to remember that, in fact, you are not alone in feeling this way. Many people are suffering from sickness or depression, are dealing with being separated from loved ones, or coping with personal challenges or financial issues that are overwhelming.
Even if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by loved ones, ironically, this season of cheer and goodwill to all men is the time of year that families and couples fight the most. There is nothing quite like an extended period of time in an enclosed space with your nearest and dearest to push your biggest buttons and, when you add alcohol to the mix, things predictably go downhill.
Being single during the holidays is arguably worse than being part of a fighting couple: For some reason, being unwillingly single for the holidays sucks even more than on Valentine’s day, presumably because you at least have a fighting chance at ignoring the existence of the latter.
All this pales in comparison to how hard it is to get through the holidays when you are mourning a loved one. It is particularly painful, not just because it is a time full of memories, but because everywhere you turn, the message is that this is the time to be together with loved ones. The joy that the rest of the world seems to be experiencing can make those burdened by grief feel particularly isolated.
The most important survival skill at this time of year is to give yourself permission to have the feelings you are having. Stop telling yourself that you ought to be feeling differently just because the calendar is on this particular page. It is hard enough to deal with difficult feelings without heaping guilt and shame on top of them. Quit Should-ing yourself. Expectations are 99% of the cause of all suffering. Give up the expectation that you should be feeling or reacting any differently to the way that you are. At a minimum, accept that the reality is this is how you are feeling. Even better, show yourself a little compassion and respect the fact that if you had a choice, you wouldn’t choose to be feeling like this.
Step 2 is to imagine yourself as someone else that you care about and think about how you would treat them if they were feeling this way. Perhaps you would be a little more patient? Give them a break? Give them permission to curl up under the covers until they felt stronger? Everyone is unique and we all have different things that make us feel better – and crucially for some people, the most important thing is simply having permission not to feel better until we do. Sometimes it takes a heck of a lot more time and energy to try to stop yourself having a feeling than to let it run it’s course. Sometimes, little things can help a lot. Be brave and ask for help. If that’s too much or there doesn’t seem to be anyone available, come up with a short list of things you can do for yourself that might help. Maybe it’s going to the movies and escaping reality for a while, finding someone to talk to, getting some exercise, making yourself some nourishing food.
Step 3 is to remember that practicing gratitude can be a very helpful aid. Sometimes, even coming up with a list of things to be grateful for is a major challenge (click for a link to a post on some suggestions to get started). If that’s the case, try an appreciation list instead. When all seems lost, sometimes it helps to focus on appreciation for the things we have experienced, the ability to feel, the breath that still carries hope that there will be a better moment ahead. If these holidays are hard for you, I truly hope something here will be helpful. Please remember that you are not alone and that everything changes. This too shall pass, I promise. I wish you peace in your heart.
Before I moved last time, I made a determined effort to go through my possessions and get rid of anything and everything that didn’t fall into the category of useful, beautiful or sentimentally valuable.
I tried hard to be ruthless and sold and gave away a lot of stuff. But, in spite of my efforts, I still ended up with a sizeable amount that moved to my new basement, where it has taken up residence on my to-do list ever since.
With the second anniversary of my move into this house approaching, my conscience finally got the better of my procrastination and I started to tackle this seemingly simple task that I find so daunting.
Going through the basement is not just about the furniture that hasn’t found a home or the boxes of random chargers, cords and clutter. It’s a bittersweet trip down memory lane when I open the boxes that reveal remnants of once precious moments.
In reviewing these familiar things, I am also noticing my feelings and noticing how they have changed since the last time I brought these souvenirs into my present consciousness.
Looking once again at love letters from a past relationship, I can see how much healing has taken place because this time I experience tenderness and appreciation, instead of the anger and resentment I remember feeling the he last time I held them in my hands. Finding a picture of my dog who died, I am grateful to sense that my grief for that loss is beginning to soften.
The hardest thing this time has been looking at photographs and artwork from my children, which used to bring pure joy. Touching and holding these treasures today has brought me face to face with the pain in my heart from missing my children which challenges me to the depth of my being.
Yet as painful as it may be, I am also aware that this is a fundamentally healing process. I have been looking at these hours in the basement as a voyage of self-discovery, to help me to become conscious of what I have been holding on to.
The objects I have chosen to keep speak about what has been important to me. The relationships I have had, the roles that I have played, the feelings that I once experienced.
As I evaluate each item and whether it’s time to release it or whether I still want to keep it, I can ask myself the same question about each thing that is symbolized.
Of course, I don’t want to let go of my most precious memories of my children’s childhood, but I need to face that my role in their lives has changed in order to be able to move forwards and step through and out of the grief that has paralyzed me for a while now.
What’s in your basement?
I love this quote because it reflects my approach to healing: When I have the opportunity to present to doctors, I always ask that they erase from their vocabulary the words “there is nothing more we can do for you”. I believe that the duty of care for one called to heal others is about so much more than the successful correction of a physical malfunction. Healing to me is about restoration to a sense of wholeness, about finding peace and receiving comfort. It is helping someone discover a spark of hope or joy in the darkest night, dispensing the most powerful medicine of all – love. This quote is from Neem Karoli Baba, the guru of my friend David Newman aka Durga Das, artist, practitioner and teacher of Bhakti yoga – the yoga of devotion, who introduced me to the joys of Kirtan, which is a form of sung meditation.
I had the most amazing weekend teaching Reiki. I feel profoundly and humbly grateful to participate in helping people discover their healing gifts. I get so much joy from sharing this kind of time with others.
Reiki 1 Class Evaluations
Mirabai is at once a wonderful teacher, and a gifted healer. Her loving presence and grounded, clear demeanor make it easy to relax and learn as well as to heal. I left the Reiki training gaining much more than I expected, with a feeling of inner calm that is profoundly deep.
After taking this class, I feel peace, love and gratitude for the gift I have been given. I look forward to sharing this gift with others and becoming a healer. I fell I have begun a journey, a new path and I’m excited about where it will lead me. Mirabai is a dynamic, joyful and inspiring instructor. She has given me a great gift and I am very grateful.
I feel enlightened and at peace with a new understanding of myself and my capabilities of giving and helping others. I have a greater connection to my mental and emotional body and have began to practice connecting with others through my intuition.
Mirabai is a powerful healer, teacher and individual who has helped me develop my self-awareness in a physical, mental and emotional standpoint, encouraging confidence to extend myself as a healer for others. She provided a great environment of love and care in a learning environment.
This class furthered my belief that we are all energetic beings with the ability to heal ourselves and others. Sometimes I think I forget about this ability and don’t realize that often we are unknowingly healing. Mirabai helps people to discover their own healing capabilities in an environment that is open and comfortable.
Being here, learning, growing, sharing and the awareness of healing is part of my journey. Grateful to be here. Mirabai, thank you for sharing your gift as a healer.
Today I feel amazing and my hopes for receiving my Reiki 1 certification are to honor and bring awareness, love, light and to trust that my intuitions will help to guide me and others to positive thinking or beliefs. I am grateful to Mirabai for the special guidance this weekend that will forever remain a fond and loving memory for many years to come. I plan on returning back to this experience whenever thoughts of self doubt seem to seep back in.