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“Just as life is made up of day and night, and song is made up of music and silence, friendships, because they are of this world, are also made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between. Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with a loved one as some unexpressed change of heart. Our minds work very hard to make something out of nothing. We can perceive silence as rejection in an instant, and then build a cold castle on that tiny imagined brick. The only release from the tensions we weave around nothing is to remain a creature of the heart. By giving voice to the river of feelings as they flow through and through, we can stay clear and open. In daily terms, we call this checking in with each other, though most of us reduce this to a grocery list: How are you today? Do you need any milk? Eggs? Juice? Toilet paper? Though we can help each other survive with such outer kindnesses, we help each other thrive when the checking in with each other comes from a list of inner kindnesses: How are you today? Do you need any affirmation? Clarity? Support? Understanding? When we ask these deeper questions directly, we wipe the mind clean of its misperceptions. Just as we must dust our belongings from time to time, we must wipe away what covers us when we are apart.”

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“If peace comes from seeing the whole,
then misery stems from a loss of perspective.

We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.

Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?

It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.

When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.

In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”

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

“Many people forget their own body. They live in an imaginary world. They have so many plans and fears, so many agitations and dreams, and they don’t live in their body. While we’re caught in fear and trying to plan our way out of fear, we aren’t able to see all the beauty that Mother Earth offers us. Mindfulness reminds you to go to your in-breath and to be totally with your in-breath, be totally with your out-breath. Bring your mind back to your body and be in the present moment. Look deeply straight in front of you at what is wonderful in the present moment. Mother Earth is so powerful, so generous, and so supportive. Your body is so wonderful. When you’ve practiced and you are solid like the earth, you face your difficulty directly, and it begins to dissipate …”~Thich Nhat Hanh 

Being Peace

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Even though life is hard, even though it is sometimes difficult to smile, we have to try. Just as when we wish each other “Good morning,” it must be a real “Good morning.” Recently, one friend asked me, “How can I force myself to smile when I am filled with sorrow? It isn’t natural.” I told her she must be able to smile to her sorrow, because we are more than our sorrow. A human being is like a television set with millions of channels. If we turn the Buddha on, we are the Buddha. If we turn sorrow on, we are sorrow. If we turn a smile on, we really are the smile. We can’t let just one channel dominate us. We have the seeds of everything in us, and we have to take the situation in hand to recover our own sovereignty.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “Being Peace”

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“See if you can catch the voice in your head, perhaps in the very moment it complains about something, and recognize it for what it is: the voice of the ego, no more than a thought. Whenever you notice that voice, you will also realize that you are not the voice, but the one who is aware of it. In fact, you are the awareness that is aware of the voice. In the background, there is the awareness. In the foreground, there is the voice, the thinker. In this way you are becoming free of the ego, free of the unobserved mind.”

-Eckhart Tolle

Get Real- Jeff Brown

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Photographer Erkin Demir

“I know we often want it all happy and positive, but that’s just not where much of humanity is. Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, undigested sadness, unexpressed anger, unseen truths. This is where we are at, as a collective. So we have two choices. We can continue to pretend it’s not there, shame and shun it in ourselves and others, distract and detach whenever possible. Or we can face it heart-on, own it within ourselves, look for it in others with compassion, create a culture that is focused on authenticity and healthy emotional release. If we continue to push it all down, we are both creating illness and delaying our collective expansion. But if we can just own the shadow, express it, release it, love each other through it, we can finally graduate from the School of Heart Knocks and begin to enjoy this magnificent life as we were intended. Pretending the pain isn’t there just embeds it further. Let’s illuminate it instead.”

~ Jeff Brown

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“For somebody who is spiritually awakening, ideally, you’ll be looking for a therapist who is treating personality as relatively real, not absolutely real.

Here in the West, we treat personality as absolutely real, we really think it’s real. Who you think you are is really real. For example, you were battered as a child and that seems very real, because it’s a strong mental structure in your head and it permeates you and you are carrying your history with you on your shoulders.

At some point you will start to see that each person is presenting who they think they are. It’s like they’re putting on a huge mind net, “This is who I am, this is who I am, this is who I am…” You can start to see it in the way they walk, talk, dress, present themselves; always presenting who they think they are, which has a historical thread running through it.

When you have started to awaken and see that there are other planes of reality that are equally valid to the one at which presently exists, you learn how to live more or less with more and more planes simultaneously, which is what freedom is about. It’s not totally standing in one plane, it’s not standing anywhere at all.

Then what you would love is a therapist who has that same perspective, who has that multi-plane perspective all the time. So when I’m working with somebody psychologically and they bring their stuff to me, I hear their stuff. Their, “I was battered as a child. I was abused.” I hear all of that, I hear that they are talking about a plane of reality. I want to talk with them within that plane and empathize and deal with them. However, at the same moment, I want my consciousness to stay spacious enough as an environment that if they were ready to let that one go and recognize that there’s another plane of experience in which they also live, that I’d be right there for them.

Now most therapists, because they think they’re real as a therapist, think their patient is also real. If a patient says, “I’ve had this experience in which you and I are souls,” or “This is all an illusion.” They’ll most likely say, “Well, that’s a defense mechanism.” They say this because they themselves can’t really handle these other planes of reality.

You can’t expect all therapist to be the Buddha, you won’t get on with your therapy. So what you do is you use therapists in the same way you go to somebody to get your car fixed. You don’t go in and expect them to give you the greatest wisdom of the universe but you expect them to help you clean up. You have to be able to use a therapist appropriately. A therapist is a technician, who’s there to serve you about this plane of reality, and it’s not reasonable to expect them to understand all wisdom and be free.”

 

-Ram Dass

Emily Maroutian: Energy is the Currency of the Universe

 

“Energy is the currency of the universe. When you ‘pay’ attention to something you buy that experience. So when you allow your consciousness to focus on someone or something that annoys you, you feed it your energy, and it reciprocates the experience of being annoyed. Be selective in your focus because your attention feeds the energy of it and keeps it alive, not just within you, but in the collective consciousness as well.”

~ Emily Maroutian

 

 

Be Like a Lion 

  

“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick; every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. 

But if, instead, you look at where your thoughts are coming from, you will see that each thought arises and dissolves within the space of that awareness, without engendering other thoughts. 

Be like a lion, who rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”

 ~ H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche