I am still humming with awe at my entry into this auspicious year of 2012, and astonished by what can be accomplished by forgiveness--especially self-forgiveness--on this journey of remembering and re-assembling as light.
Recently I traveled to Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. I went to gather energies and experience the Archangel Michael vortex there for the dawn of the Lunar New Year. I was thrilled to be returning--it had been 28 years since my last visit to the Canadian Rockies, and I booked a room with a view of the lake in the beautiful Chateau.
Even before I travelled there I was craving silence. I'm not talking about quiet, I mean silence. Like "not talking, no sound, hours on end into days just being" kind of silence. I kept thinking about the character in "Eat, Pray, Love," who took a vow of silence and walked around with an I'M IN SILENCE name-tag on. I knew that I needed a deepening that was available in not talking not reading not engaging the mind or the voice, in letting go of the need to communicate things. So I let my friends and family know I would not be talking while I was there and I entered into a silent communion with myself in this sacred place.
What I hadn't anticipated was the intensity of the emotional release and spiritual clarification I would experience.
My first day there I felt the affinity with this place at this time--as the layers and layers of snow and the miles of gently touched mountains were vibrating with the feeling that was surfacing in me. The photo above is a photo I took while hiking around Lake Louise and back toward the glaciers on Mt. Victoria. I walked quietly and mostly alone, save for a few cross country skiers on the lake, for several hours, back into the forest behind the lake, past frozen waterfalls, and small spots where fresh water still ran, not frozen, and then I just stopped, standing in the stillness, merging with it all, letting go.
The potent combination of the gentle yet pristine energies with silence, initiated a review of my life and my feeling about me, that left me emotionally exhausted, physically drained, and energetically cleansed.
Ever since arriving in Banff and then Lake Louise, I found my heart opening and all kinds of things moved me. At my first glimpse of the foothills, I had a powerful release and had to pull my car off the road, while I let the unarticulated emotions flow through me.
This feeling of emotional release only intensified as I arrived at Lake Louise and checked into the Chateau. Everything moved me! I recognized the undifferentiated oneness of reality expressed in other people, in families eating breakfast, in the dog sleeping in the lobby, in the kids skating, the foreign visitors taking photos of the ice sculptures and most of all, in the mirror. My eyes teared up, my heart chakra burned and opened wider, it felt good, but intense. I wept and cried, sometimes so much so I had to get up and go to the bathroom and blow my nose, or back to my room to just lie down for a good release/cry, and often with no specific idea about why--just this deep feeling of unity and beauty. I felt the incredible joyous happiness of loving everything and everyone and not needing to get away from anything--everything felt good and fine and actually, like a long-lost, previously unreognized soul-mate. It was amazing.
Then the clearing triggered by all this high-vibe energy began. The day following my long walk, all kinds of unpleasant ideas about me and my life surfaced for review and release, for love and most of all for forgiveness--some of others, but mostly, self-forgiveness. Old and long-seemingly forgotten impressions arose--of many people I disappointed and those who disappointed me. The combination of this amazing place, and the simple act of not filling up my attention with things, allowed things needing my attention to just come forth.
It was painful, and challenging and unexpected. I knew enough to let it flow. To remember I was not these feelings and to try and enlarge my perspective (unsuccessfully). I knew the point of this was to forgive myself--for all the ways I wasn't who I wanted to be throughout my life. I am grateful that even though I had very strong difficult feelings, I also knew this was the energy of a powerful place working on me and I trusted this most relentless and agonizing experience. I wasn't feeling grateful particularly while it was happening, but there was a sense of trust. I was amazed to realize how alive these feelings were. How much they still hurt. How difficult it was to let them flow through me. I felt the pain of the times I fell short of my own ideas of who I wanted to be, when I wasn't able to do what I said, or wanted to do, when I fell short of ideals of other people who I love, when I broke promises, spoke sharp words in anger, judged and criticized someone else, held myself back out of fears of not being good enough, but mostly it was the times I felt I let other people close to me down that hurt the most--and all of this came up and ultimately looped back to how I felt about me. In the midst of all this, I began to feel dismayed and as if my trip was a waste! Yet, even then, with all this going on for hours with seemingly no end, my heart knew otherwise. I just kept breathing. I knew not to reach out to friends or anyone else--I knew I would be fine and more importantly that there was a great gift in letting myself experience all this with surrender and awareness.
The night after this most difficult day I went to bed early--about 7:30 pm--with these still unresolved difficult feelings and thoughts lingering. I was exhausted. I woke up in the pre-dawn hours about 4 am. I got up to look out the window--I couldn't see anything except the lit ice rink, the frozen part of Lake Louise closest to the hotel. The mountains and the glacier were hidden and the whole sky was dark. I lay back down and tuned in, feeling myself. I felt a little better. I allowed the whole thing going on to surface fully in my awareness and I again chose to elevate my view, to look at my life and all these disappointing memories and feelings, from the perspective of my higher self and at last, with no effort, it came: an enveloping soft wave of love, and a moment of true knowing from within. Clear realization and soft feelings. I just knew that I had done the best I could. I felt the genuine relief of knowing my own timeless, infinite energy was simpy having an experience. Many experiences. I could see this beyond labels, stories, judgment and duality because the Oneness I Am was alive and well and coursing through my whole being. I called upon the I AM that I AM and asked for the experience of self-forgiveness. I was able to truly, deeply, forgive myself and let go of everything that lingered within me--all those memories and the stories, the enormous guilt and sadness. I felt the roots of all this just dissolve--the interpretation that somehow I ought to have been anything other then what and who I was in each and every moment of this experience--of any experience, really. I realized I was no longer comparing myself and my life with these expectations. I saw how ridiculous it all was--this idea of needing to be something I'm not. I felt how totally a-okay I really am and always have been while still knowing everything I know about me. I held it all in my awareness and it just dissolved into love. I saw everything in the light of the Oneness I AM. I smiled outloud! Everything felt very still and quiet, but in a totally different way. I noticed: there were no thoughts, no sad feelings, nothing, but the quiet of the night and the glorious lingering feeling of peace. I laughed. Then I laughed again. I kept laughing. And then, I said it outloud, "I completely forgive myself. Yes! I entirely release all of this." Then I asked my higher self to clear out all these energies within me and I felt the appreciation of letting go of all these illusions! about me/my life.
I went back to sleep. I slept deep into the morning. When I woke up everything was, and is, still peaceful, new and quiet. :)
Self-forgiveness is the ultimate balm for the heart. Nothing I've ever experienced has been so transformative and made such huge, sweeping and lasting changes in my life in such short time. If you think of it, a life review that took a couple of days and liberates this kind of joy is quite amazing. All kinds of practices and ways of focusing can get us into clarity, calm, expansive spaciousness or a feel good state, but this deep return to wholeness given by forgiving ourselves eclipses all of those other ways of arriving at happiness--when we love ourselves as are ourselves just as we already are, happiness just IS. Right now. Continually. No journey required.
When I returned and the experience had integrated a bit I saw that letting go of all these illusions about me, liberates a sense of non-Self. A return to unity in awareness so that I no longer consider my value, my purpose, my origins, my unique possibilities--all of these are stories, layered upon the simplicity of being. When I am healed of guilt and the need to please others, or myself, my heart now freed, is just open and life is and I live directly. I create, I sit, I write down and put words to ideas. I don't evaluate it or analyze it. I express what I feel and I let it be as it is. I feel a sense of resonance or completion when I've reflected the wholeness of an idea, but there is no judgement or thinking about it. It's just knowing through feeling.
I have been fortunate to live much of my life with self-confidence, clarity, a sense of empowerment and joy. Yet still, underneath it were these common threads of so many paths of the human experience, tying up my heart and holding me hostage to my own inner (internalized) critic. Pushing me. Inhibiting my flow in very subtle ways...interrupting my natural state and pinching me just a little bit off from feeling unabashedly, across my whole life, SUPERBLY great about me, which of course inhibits my ability to feel superbly great about ALL of me (which includes you and everything else...)
For many of us, we work at getting here, seeking seeking seeking. But as many great spiritual teachers have shared with us, that doesn't work--it actually comes from not seeking. It's already here. It really just needs to be released and revealed. And for me, letting go of all these stories, was like the last turn of the combination lock that set me free. Letting go of any idea of separation-- which breeds comparison and feelings of inadequacy, ideas that there is "A" way things ought to be, or should have happened. How ridiculous is it to argue with reality? How often we do so. Clarity and freedom are experienced when we stop trying to be anything and instead we just let ourself be who we already are.
Without the stories evaluating and defining me, articulating my meaning and the purpose of my life, guess what? Nothing falls apart. Surprisingly I continue to be and feel like myself, only lighter and happier. I discover there is not even relief in this experience, for there is no sense of the other to find relief from--it's disappeared! It's just easy and natural. Now home, in California, with my cat Astra sleeping on the cushion next to me, I realize this is how she lives--with no idea of self. Just being.
We are everything. We may not be able to cognate about it, or put it into words, but we can actually live as the Oneness we are, without having a definition of who we are. We can stop paying so much attention to the flavor of our bodies, the particulars of our work, the ideas of who we want to be. We don't need an elevator speech about our career, or a way to tell people what we're doing with our life. We can go deeper, wider and beyond this and just relate directly to life. We can show up without using stories or labels, or conventions to define who any of us are. We can drop the need to please or impress others by telling them in some careful way who we are and what we do. We can stop defining people this way too. So much of what we say about our selves is a cover-up to smooth out and make ourselves into who we want to be seen as. It implies there is some need to do this, that there is something wrong with just being who you are. That if you don't say these things, you will be misunderstood, not valued, not seen, not loved, that the real you just being there, isn't enough. There is nothing wrong with who you are. Or anything you've done or not done. There is not a "thing" you have to do. Everytime we layer these stories on top of our life, we complicate things and remove ourselves from direct experience. We hide our most radiant essence from our selves and attempt to dress it up for others.
As uncomplicated and unbelievable as it may sound--somehow the truth is that just being genuinely carefree and happy you are everything. Ironically it's by not striving that so much is emanated and experienced.
Striving and goals are expressions of separation. Does my heart have to have a goal to beat and keep me alive? Do my eyes have to make an effort and strive to read the words I type? No. This is innate and just is. The Oneness we are flows into everything, taking form as the information holographically structures everything. We are holographic to the whole, which means we have access to everything while being this particular essence of All.
How do we "get there," then? How do we re-learn how to just be and stop thinking and trying so hard? For me it has been a long, gradual process of becoming more aware of how I relate to myself, and the linch-pin was actually to deeply and fully go through my past and see all the things I still felt badly about and then, slowly gently, forgive myself. How do we forgive ourselves? For me, this was triggered by silence...lots of it. When we stop talking and we stop distracting ourselves with conversation and brain-food and activity, gradually stuff surfaces. We notice what's underneath it all and I won't kid you--for me, this was hard. We may find that we identify with the bad feelings the memories of all the times we "failed" to be who we thought we ought to be. We try to reconcile the past with the now. We wonder how others will view us now, if they only knew all the ways we were "less than great" in the past. We feel the agony of holding ourselves to some standard beyond what we truly were capable of at the time. The only relief is to let go--to bring love to our own self-perception and gradually, gently we let go of all the expectations that we have and have had, of ourselves. Doing this, we are more able to forgive others. (Bonus!) It is these expectations we have of ourselves that create guilt, that allow us to hold a grudge against ourselves (and others) and beyond them we instead relate to life as IT IS. Not as we in our mind think it ought to be, or what should have been possible, or what we wanted to happen, we relate to life as it is. Knowing that like the heart and the eyes, the human being--me and you--are just as we are. (And together we are such a beautiful One!) So, perhaps, then we just lighten up about it all.
What if, we give ourselves permission and stop thinking about everything so much and living a mediated experience--choreographed and narrated by our mind--instead, we become a direct expression of life? No interference. No running commentary. No need to compare or evaluate. Just here, just now. Just being and not worrying about the results or the destination. Allowing ourselves to say what we feel, to feel what we feel and to just be a free, fresh, innocent presence within our own life. Noticing everything, loving and appreciating everything, not-engaged but fully present; curious and interested. Filled with love, expressing as kindness and tenderness and a sense of humor about the many variations of our own self--some in our form over time, some reflected in others.
Having given up the need to be perfect, better, or other then we are, and having forgiven ourselves (meaning having released all the expectations of our own life where we argued with what was possible, what simply was) we finally become free. Happy with life as it is, enjoying the process of being and growing and creating, yet loving all variations on the One theme...And just as we are, without making all kinds of improvements to ourselves, just by dropping the expectations that we be different than we are, we change everything.
Now, at peace within and in this quiet, simple generous fulfillment of our being, we begin to create the inner reality of New Earth made manifest. Luminous being arises; as light reflecting the Oneness, we expand the lens of the Golden Dawn, love flowing through us, and the momentum and light growing toward that much anticipated morning. Remembering, reflecting and re-assembling the One IAM/WeAre.
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