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“Embracing the paradox that we simultaneously are and are not our story is precisely what enables us to keep writing new ones. My story about the abuse I experienced at the hands of my father will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me. Of course, I sometimes spiral back into trauma; unlike the self-help pundits who say it’s possible to simply let go of the old hurts by cleansing them with a dose of love and light. I know that even as the impact fades, this experience is something that will be with me for the rest of my life.

That said, healing is not a linear journey. Old trauma is wrapped up in the fabric of the new stories I’ve created for myself, and the resulting pattern is not nice and clean and neat. In fact, the deeper we all go, the messier and more chaotic it will get. It is the contrasting loops of darkness and light, life and death, defeat and triumph, that make the human story such a compelling and gorgeous one…”

 

-Kelly McNelis

(~an excerpt from ‘Women for One’ founder Kelly McNelis’s new book, ‘Your Messy Brilliance’)

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‘You have the right to hide. You can hide from this world if you want to. It can be cold. Sharp. Unyielding. This world is so unfair. But you hide from the world, you hide from the sun. The warmth of your bed does not compare. The words in your books do not compare to loved ones. The art on your walls do not compare to your creation. And some days I hide. Some days I choose less. But the awareness, of choosing less, makes sure I never stay there. Because you can hide from the world but you can’t hide from yourself. And you know you deserve much more than ‘less’. ‘–Sarinia Bryant 

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“The point of life is not to get anywhere—it is to notice that you are, and have always been, already there. You are always and forever in the moment of pure creation. The point of life therefore is to create—who and what you are, and then to experience that.”-Neale Donald Walsch

 

How Is Your Heart Doing? By Omid Safi

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Omid Safi is Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. Reading above is excerpted from the OnBeing blog.

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Digital Art by Tony Ariawan

“The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible, and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us. This brings to mind the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, the stubborn, hard king who sought to ask the Immortal One the secret of life. He was told that there would be stones on his path to guide him. But in his urgency and pride, Gilgamesh was annoyed to find his path blocked, and so smashed the very stones that would help him. In his blindness of heart, he broke everything he needed to discover his way. With the same confusion, we too break what we need, push away those we love, and isolate ourselves when we need to be held most. There have been many times in my life when I have been too proud to ask for help or too afraid to ask to be held, and in the frenzy of my own isolation, like Gilgamesh, I have smashed the window I was trying to open, have split the bench I was trying to hammer, and have made matters worse by bruising the one I meant to be tender with. The live bough bends. The dead twig snaps. We are humbled to soften from our griefs, or else, in brittle time, become the next thing grieved.”

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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IN TIMES OF DARKNESS, TURN YOUR LIGHT WAY UP! -Jeff Foster

When someone calls you names, reduces you to a thing,
When they offer advice you didn’t ask for,
When they blame you for their pain,
When they do not listen to you, and endlessly talk about themselves,
When they compare you with others,
When they ignore, invalidate, judge or ridicule your thoughts and feelings.

Stop. Breathe.

Know it’s their pain, not yours.
Know they are dreaming the only dream they can dream until they wake up.
Know that they don’t know you, only their fantasy.

Perhaps they find it hard to love themselves.
Perhaps they seek their worth externally.
Perhaps they are disconnected from their breath, their bodies, their precious aliveness, their true calling.
Perhaps they live in a dualistic world of good and bad, right and wrong, success and failure.
Perhaps they have forgotten the simple joy of being.

Perhaps you understand this.
Perhaps you have been where they have been.

Don’t try to change them now. They may never change.
Don’t try to fix them. They aren’t asking to be fixed.
The more you push, they more they’ll push back.
Don’t get entangled in their web of sorrows.
See clearly, even have compassion, but don’t push.

It’s okay that they are upset. It really is.
Give them space to be upset.
It’s okay that they are disappointed in you.
Give them space to be disappointed.
It’s okay that they judge you. Make room for their judgements too.

Make room for your own thoughts and feelings!
Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, guilty, doubtful.
Let all these precious energies wash through you.
They will not harm you, as you allow them to move.

Yes, you will meet many gatekeepers on this journey.

Walk your path anyway, and allow others to walk theirs.
You don’t need to justify your path, or defend it.
Stay close to yourself in these challenging times.

Do not fight the darkness; it has no power anyway.

Simply turn your light way up.

Self Acceptance

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“…you cannot force anyone to like you, but you can like yourself for who you are. How others will perceive you is none of your business. As long as you are happy and satisfied with yourself, you are good to go. Change yourself if you have a good reason, but not to please anyone else.” ~Soma Roy Choudhary

A Little More Shaking-Those-Hips

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“Remember this, my darling—remember this. What you achieve on earth is only a small part of the deal. If there’s a secret I could whisper, and that you could keep, it would be that it’s all inside you already. Every single thing you need. Earth is just a stopover. A kind of game. Make it a star game. If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the dance of the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.

 –Billy Fingers

Be Brave Little One

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“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired. Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision. Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.  Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.  Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see. Frolick, even when you are made fun of. Kiss, even when others are watching. Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring. Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.
And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.”
-Alysha Speer

Jeff Brown: Open Hearted

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“We are powerful beyond measure, and so deeply vulnerable at the same time. This may seem like a dichotomy, but it isn’t. We have misunderstood real power. It has been something assertive, non-surrendering, pushing on through. This is not real power. This is simply willfulness.

Real power is something else – receptivity, vulnerability, the courage to keep your heart open on the darkest of days, the strength to feel it all even when the odds are stacked against you. Real power is showing up with your heart on your sleeve and absolutely refusing to waste one moment of your life hidden behind edginess and armor. The art of enheartened presence. Now that’s power.”

~ Jeff Brown