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Not Feelin It

"I believe we are all One, even if I can't feel it all yet. Now what?"

The consensus has gotten more and more comfortable with the idea and sentiment that "We are all One."  You can buy a version of this on mugs, yoga mats and greeting cards.  It gets thrown into the conversation like a closing argument- "I mean, we're all One in the end anyway."

If we basically believe it, where are we going awry?

Years of yogic practice have shown me that most of the time, I barely know what's happening.  My awareness has developed and exposed me to the fact that I am used to functioning on ideas without integrating them into practice.  

One of the common confusion people hit in the Oneness dialogue is that they believe that removing perceptions of separation means removing boundaries, becoming a completely permeable membrane to others.  So then they try their hardest to love, but it ends up meaning they open all their doors, windows and gates, ignore their own instincts and burn out.  Then they draw the conclusion that maybe Oneness isn't really true or possible, that we really are too separate to ever be of One Heart.  

It's a tricky plot line that most often involves our family dynamics.  Did anyone show us what a loving boundary looks and feels like?  Did we ever experience someone saying "no" while also still feeling their full open heart toward us? The answer is overwhelmingly no for most of us.  Mostly we experienced boundary as cut-off, shame and sometimes, a subtle feeling of hatred.  

Or, did we experience boundary-lessness that was supposed be love,  but actually created a feeling of stress and guilt as though every time we received from the other it felt like we were taking advantage.  And maybe sometimes we were.

Seeing with the eyes of non-separation is a shift in the heart.  Before we know what to do about every situation, which boundaries to hold and how to decide on the "right thing to do" in any situation or relationship, we first can open the parts of our heart that have curled up in resistance, anger and subtle hatred toward another.  We choose to keep the heart open because it heals US.  

I may not say yes to you.  I may not give you everything you asked for.  I may need to actively oppose your actions at some point in time.  

But I won't throw you out of my heart.  

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Keeping Your Heart Open in Hell

These times are difficult.  

How do we make sense of it all?  Perhaps more pressing, what are we supposed to do?  

Because that's really what we want to know. What am I supposed to do ?

The teacher Ram Dass has said that the what we "do" is learn to keep our heart open in hell.  We learn how to stay open when everything wants to close.  

Over the years, I have noticed a funny tendency in my dream life.  In the midst of dreaming, whenever I encounter something terrifying-  a tidal wave, a car fast approaching me, a monster- I close my eyes tight in the dream.  When I wake up, I can remember everything up until I closed my eyes.  And I can remember everything that happened after the situation resolved itself.  But what actually happened in that scary moment- I do not know.  I did not see it.  All my energy went into squeezing my eyes shut. it's funny to me that this happens in my dreams, where there is no real threat.

Fear is like this.  It comes fast and furiously.  It feels red-hot and wildly out of control.  It feels bigger than us, which is the point.  The heart is the word for the place inside that feels and recognizes what matters most.  It is wide and spacious.  The yogi Swami Satchitananda said that "the human heart is atomic."  I believe he meant it literally.  Contained with in the heart is a power that is far greater than anything on earth or heaven.  When fear- what we feel to be bigger than us- approaches the heart, our response is often to squeeze shut tight.  We take what is spacious and big and feels vulnerable, and out it into a box that is too small for it.  We wait for it all to be over.  

But there is a point we all reach when the fear and struggles feel too big to shut out.  Every time we peek our eyes open, the monster is still there.  Or we reach a point where we just do not want to squeeze our eyes shut anymore. It is taking too much from us. We are tired.  We want to see.

This is often the moment in time when people come to work with me.  They are feeling caught in a tumble of pain.  I feel excited when I see this moment in others, not because I enjoy their pain but because I know THIS is the moment when a decision to stay open can change the whole course of life.  It's an invitation into something real.

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Ram Dass talks about keeping our heart open as "balancing our humanity."  I think he means that we keep our eyes open and let ourselves see and feel the impact of the scary thing in front of us.  And also, we temper it with perspective and practice.  We allow the possibility in that "I don't know the full story yet."  This thing looks scary, but I don't really know how it is all going to land, do I?  Just the willingness to say "I don't know" creates space inside of what was only tightness.  It says, "I'm afraid I might die but I don't really know that is the outcome till that happen" or " I am outraged and hurt by what I see, and also I don't understand the full picture of why it is happening or how it might be resolved easily."  

The practice of this is learning to be with things in the state that they are in.  It is letting balance and steadiness come inside, so that we see that when we are busy only judging the thing, we cannot really see the whole of it, and therefore do not really understand how to heal the problem at its root.

And touching the root is where healing happens.  

 

 

 

 

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Wider

Just at the point when we want to shut down hard is the call to open up
W i d e, 
wider than before. 

When the pain of any situation becomes great, there is a signal inside that begins to round up the reserves, batten down the hatches and shut it all down.  Physically, it has a matching feeling.  For me, this is a tightening at the throat and the center of my chest.  It feels like my heart gets put into a closet where it barely fits.  My whole breathing pattern changes.  Mostly it becomes harder to take a deep breath.  

What comes next is usually a flatness, coldness or hardness.  Around this time is usually when I say "I don't know, I just don't feel anything about it" or "I honestly don't really care right now."  

I am not feeling the pain, but I am also not feeling much of anything else.  Lightness, true excitement and happiness are not available either.  There is listlessness.  And a restlessness that leads me to existential pain- What is this life about? What is the point of all this?  Is any of this fair? 

From here, the pattern is almost textbook- blame other people, blame myself, rage against the world, find new enemies, consume more than I really want,  look for somewhere to go.  All wrapped in a blanket of restlessness.  Needing something but having no idea what it is.

The moment we want to shut down holds EVERYTHING we need to go beyond the pain and its patterned response.

At this moment when we start to feel the chest tightening, the throat closing, the hungry search for something to consume- this is the moment when we go counterintuitive and open wider.  Let the heart spill open.  This is a real genuine moment of saying *F*ck it* and letting it flow.  What's the point of tightening and tensing anymore?  Feel through the mad and the sad and the scared and the 'i don't know' and anything else.  

Feeling through it is not a mind process.  It's not about thinking through each one of those emotions, weighing them and analyzing them and justifying or denying them their due.  It's simpler in application. It's feeling in the form of felt sensation.  Feeling that is not always dependent on the story about the feeling.  Letting the feeling move through the body.  

There are stop gates at each new emotion.  At the bottom of the anger, there can be tightness.  All this is, is a signal that there is more underneath.  And so keep going- go wider.  Make more room. Then comes the place where you find someone else to blame, and you'll notice the same tightening.  And it's just a signal that there is more underneath, so keep going.  Go wider.  Make more room.  

It may start to feel like your heart is breaking open, melting or spreading out.  Keep going.  Make more space.  Go wider.  

I know I've hit the wide place when something in my chest eases up.  I do not have any answers about my life or my situation. I have not solved anything.  But I can feel myself.  The heart is not caged.  I can feel all the complexity of the situation- pain and acceptance, together; fear and bravery, together; desire and anger, together.  And me, wide enough for it all.

The invitation is always there.  There are no instructions on how.  It can only be tried and found out.  It is counter to the world's "wisdom" about conquering and coming out on top, impervious to the pain.  The world's way is fearful, and it bullies others to hide its fear.  This is deeper power.  It comes from softening.  

From the soft place, strong action can arise.  This time it comes from wisdom, not reaction or defense.  When our heart is wide, we are tender residing in the seat of real power.  

 

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Loving when it Hurts

This is a blog about loving when it hurts.  

I don't have a clever place to start.  If you are in the place of needing to love when it hurts, then you don't need an anecdote to meet me here.

Loving when it hurts is the deepest work of our life.  Let's acknowledge here that we just do not know how to do it.  Nor do we want to.  We find out about it through necessity.  We find out when What We Love is threatened.  When the connection is broken. The trust is destroyed.  When there is life and death riding next to each other.  When the pain is spilling over larger than our walls.

We find out about how to do this when we get to the place where we can finally, really, say "I don't know"  what to do/how to help/how to fix it/what will happen/when it will end.

It's a raw place.

Here in this place, the world looks different.  You feel acutely how often we are caught in problems that do not matter, are not real.  You hear the culture around you- advertising and sitcoms and social media posts- but it does not make any sense.  What used to entice you feels insignificant.  You know because you can now feel what matters most. It feels clear as day.  

This is the meaning of "the emperor has no clothes."  

The predicament, and the gestalt (or whole) of your life, and the world. feels so naked.  

How do we live with this acute level of clarity?  I really believe this is what spins into panic for many.  When we feel the depth of our situation so clearly,  intense fear can cast a shadow that nearly chokes us.  

When my dad was dying, I felt a choice inside me.  It wasn't a decision happening in my mind. It was primitive.  The pain inside me was unbearable.  I felt lost at sea, and I could not stop what was happening to him, what was going to happen.  Everything in me was pulling to shut down.  What I sensed in that time was that I could shut down and maybe miss the pain, but I would also miss the remaining time with my dad.  Or I could figure out how to keep loving, keep staying open, even through the hurting.  This was the only way to get to be with my dad for whatever time we had left.  My heart had to stay open in the hurt. I could not afford anything less.

We are in the territory of surrender.  I was once given the gift of being with a dear friend during her labor and delivery.  Since then, I've read extensively about the experience of birth since I have not yet experienced it in my own body.  Witnessing a birth and learning further gave me a window into another kind of moment when the pain is so great but you have to stay and give yourself too it in order for new life to come.  

Loving, or keeping the heart open, through pain is a place of great and difficult transformation.

We are deciding that we will let this great and mighty painful time do its work on us.  We are surrendering to be changed by it.  There is no template for what it will change, for how we too will be dismantled amidst it all.

The original concept of a crucible is a vessel that can tolerate incredibly high heat, and is used to melt down other substances that require extreme heat to become malleable.  A crucible is a container made to hold extremes that transform elements.  When the crucible of Loving Through Pain arises in our life, we are in a moment of extremes.  Extremes bring clarity. They can induce panic.  They are also a quick route to clarity about what matters most, and what it means to stay connected to that all the time.

Where could we start?

We could start with giving ourself the space and place to unwind the tight knot of fear about being in this situation at all.  For me, this is akin to letting feeling come back into a limb dead with pins-and-needles.  Giving time and space for the circulation to spread out again.  Knowing I'm not ready to use the limb just yet.  I just need to wait here for a second.

A space to do this could mean taking a few minutes in the evening at bedtime, or after work, to lay down and place your hands on your own body wherever you feel the hurting, and let your breath move through those places.  Not with the intention of changing them.  Do not use your breath to manipulate yourself.  A more helpful vision is to see and feel space around those tender places.  Do not try to move or dissolve the pain.  Feel the space at the sides and back of the pain.  Let the pain start to sit in a place with a bit more breathing room.

We could start to look at the possibility of love that does not have pleading and begging wrapped around it.  Confusing love and worry is a core confusion.  I know that I held it for years and still get confused about it.  Worry is not love. It is not an expression of a more genuine or deeper love.  Worry sits closer to fear.  Does the worry need to go away?  Let's not even think about it that way. The worry is there. It's going to be impossible to send it away without repressing it, and that it not helpful.  But separate from the worry, or around it, we might feel that Love is there still.  A kind of largeness that feels delicate and tucked away like a jewel.  A knowing about a connection that is universal through time and space, no matter what these outside circumstances look like now.   It could feel like a connection to your willingness to try to surrender, and how feeling that is warm and tender and brave.  Giving time for the Love, for Loving, even if it can't be directly expressed to the object of your Love.  Knowing that giving time to sit and worry is not the same presence as giving space for the Love.

Give space for sitting in Love, with Love.  You may Remember in your body that this Love comes from you, and also you sit inside of it.  

Lastly, we could sing.  We could sing with our whole heart.  Anything.  A song we know, or just making sounds from our belly.  Sometimes I will sit in my car in the empty edge of a parking lot and just sing for a few minutes.  Sing at a volume and in a way where my throat opens up and I'm not thinking anymore.  Heal yourself with your own sound.  Let all the intensity have space to      M   O    V    E  .  What else can you do?  Holding it all inside, alone, is unbearable.  If you do not yet have supportive community in your life where you can really let go, then this is a way to be with yourself.   For me it is a lifeline when I do not know where to go.

  Come out of the mental maze of worry and panic.  Meet yourself in what matters most.  See who you are there.  

Deep Roots Living supports the work of meeting yourself.  If you would like to talk about doing this work together, email me (jess@deeprootsliving.com).  

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Self-Contact

Self-contact is the ultimate meeting of pain and medicine.  When the part of us that is aware can meet and see the part of us that has become disconnected, we have made deep contact with ourselves. From this place, healing will begin to take shape on its own.  

This is the basis for self-compassion, real strength, depth, integrity and unshakable peace.

It has little to do with altering, shaping and recreating ourselves.  

It is a meeting.

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Curiosity

Curiosity allows us to investigate inside without becoming too overwhelmed.  When we have curiosity, we are deciding that we don't actually know what's there, but we might like to find out. Maybe it's different than we thought.  This also allows us to challenge hardened beliefs- Was it always like this?  Is it absolutely this way without a shadow of a doubt? Can it be different?

Learning to be curious creates a friendliness inside and outside.  It challenges the ego-mind which always believes it "knows" and takes us into wider possibilities.  Maybe this where we can see the larger picture, or find the missing information we needed for so long.

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Being Seen & Heard

Being Seen and Heard creates the alchemy that allows us to open up, even when it's hard.  When we sense that we will not be alone and that we might be understood without judgement, it becomes more possible to explore more deeply.  

The gap between who we feel ourselves to be and what we show to the world is often a wide divide.  Feeling insignificant, ashamed and calculated are all manifestations of this split.  

Learning to be seen, to be heard is as much a process of healing as the act of being seen and heard themselves.  This is part of the simple alchemy of healing.

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Feeling

Feeling is just that- being able to feel.  

Whether we feel emotionally numb, overly-emotional or somewhere in between, most of us have lost the ability to really feel what is actually going on inside.  If it is painful, shameful or confusing, we learn to cover it up with a different kind of pain.  Then we relate to ourselves through stories about what is happening in place of being able to directly feel.  This leaves us fractured.  Our experiences get stored in memory on many levels- mind, body and senses.  These create our "felt experience."  Our felt experience is always talking to us, even if we have stopped listening.

It seems we are really adverse to feeling.  Most of us get a lump in our throat when we need to cry, as though the tears are collecting behind an invisible wall.  Apologizing, receiving compliments, saying "no", saying goodbye or expressing unabashed love  is really difficult for most of us.  

Can we see how this limits our access to the full range of life?  Its tough to stay that confined.

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Honesty

Honesty is the heart of the healing process.  

It's probably where most of our energy is tied up and lost.  Feeling one thing but acting against it is counter to our nature, which is rooted in freedom.  Freedom does not need to hide any part of itself.  It is, by nature, free.  

We live in a world that encourages a false sense of freedom but operates through lying.  Think of how often we are encouraged to "speak your mind" and "express yourself" but sense the hidden guidelines underneath.  It is modeled for us to be patronizing, phony, fake-it-till-you-make-it tough and compliant.  These are all forms of lying, wherein we let our actual experience come secondary to the acceptable or consensus way of responding.  In this, we swiftly lose the ability to have helpful boundaries, grieve (and heal), love and express real joy.  We also begin to forget who we are without the pretending.

Reintroducing honesty into life, we learn to really see what our experience has been for so long and to say it how we truly feel it.  We learn to accept where we are in pain so that we can actually move through it. Keeping honesty in the forefront helps us move past habitual denial and shame which thwart our life flow.  

Eventually, we see that our lying has not been protecting us in the ways we thought.

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Welcome

Welcome to Deep Roots Living.  

I'm so glad you found us!

What we see above ground- the trunk, the leaves, the blossom, the heights and breadth and shape and beauty- is always supported and upheld by an intricate system of roots. Roots go deep, even in impossible places.  This work is here to help us all investigate below the surface- creatively, curiously, deeply.  

May we be made rich and full by our inner work.

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Life has a basic rhythm.

Most of life needs simple things to survive and thrive- safe space to grow, safe food, clean water, love, connection, beauty.  With these basic needs, we are capable of accomplishing amazing feats, living in balance and finding creative and sustainable solutions to our problems. 

Somewhere, we have lost these simple rhythms.  We have traded simplicity for a complexity that borders on insanity. We grasp, circle, over consume, forget and sink.  

It's time we come back to natural, basic rhythms.  Bring people back to simple balance, and they start to heal. Bring systems and organizations back into equilibrium, and they function with unity.  This is the law of synergy- the whole is greater than the parts.  Rather than medicating symptoms, let's bring whole systems back into alignment at the core.

We have deep roots and we have not forgotten them.

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Staying Focused

Don’t be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness in the world.  Light your candle and step forward.   -Amma

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What Sits at the Core is Simple

What sits at the core is simple. 

 It’s a still point. 

Going inside isn't taking a break from real life. It's learning to make contact with real life.  Amidst the constant changing, the up-and-down, high-and-low, there is a place where there is no changing.  We can learn to rest here.  It's the core of everyone and everything.  

 

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Sukhasana- Easy Pose 
 The only goal. 
 “Easeful, Peaceful, Useful”  - wisdom give to me from a Native Elder 
 Is it Easeful // Is it Peaceful // Is it Useful 
 Good questions to ask when choosing our thoughts…

Sukhasana- Easy Pose

The only goal.

“Easeful, Peaceful, Useful”  - wisdom give to me from a Native Elder

Is it Easeful // Is it Peaceful // Is it Useful

Good questions to ask when choosing our thoughts…

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Note to Self

“Slowly slowly O mind…
Everything in own pace happens,
Gardner may water a hundred buckets…
Fruit arrives only in its season.” 
― Kabir

Note to Self

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The Limits of Reason

The time you waste in logic, reason, argument, fantasies, all that-that’s a waste of happiness. 

-© The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, July 20, 1996

You can never reason your way into happiness.  Vijnanamayakosha, the sheath of discernment that allows us to eventually touch bliss, is fed by baffling the mind.  Doing something seemingly pointless, just because it’s beautiful.  

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I&I

A wise man has once asked us to consider what Mental Slavery means…

Ask yourself.

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It Can Only Be You

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you. None can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. ~ Swami Vivekananda

I define spiritual as that which is just below the surface, in everything.  In simplest terms, living a spiritual life means feeling like yourself consistently.

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