A Slow Unveiling

Uncovering the layers of your personality to find the light within

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Who am I? No, I mean, who am I really? Do you ever ask yourself these questions?

I look at myself and break myself apart all of the time. Uncover all my little — and sometimes not so little — idiosyncrasies. I’ve always been that way. With everything. I popped the arms, legs and heads off Barbies to see how they were put together. Took radios apart to see what was inside.

I do the same thing with personalities. Myself included. Myself most of all, actually. For me, it is a form of self-love and self-care. To know yourself. All of it. The dark, the light and that ever expansive twilight.

In fact, sometimes you can’t get to the real light without going through the dark. I’ve sort of been going through that this past year with this blog. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself it is. Going through the dark to find the light. I’m not claiming insanity just yet.

That’s why this blog is funny to me in some ways. It is so serious. If you met me in person, I’m fairly ridiculous. I crack jokes. They are always a little askew. Dry. Quirky. Fairly sarcastic. I sound a little more like Charles Bukowski in person. Cursing and all.

This blog, though … why so serious? That’s one of my idiosyncrasies. I joke when I talk. It’s how I relate to people. I’m serious when I write. I write to dig down. At least when I write like this … not so much in emails. It’s too bad for you guys. I’m actually pretty funny if I say so myself.

Another idiosyncrasy, I have to go through all of this thinking — the stuff you just read — to figure out what it is I want to say. I wish my mind worked in a straight line, but God help us all, it doesn’t.

I joke to relate to people. I’m one person when you speak to me and another when you read my writing. It’s true. It’s not that I’m being fake. I have to find ways to relate to people. Not that I dislike people. No, I love people. But I’m kind of intense and extremely shy.

It’s all me, just different facets. I learned to bring the relatable facets to the surface when I’m talking, and the non-relatable parts talk to the Universe in my journal. Now, you get to see some of the unrelatable parts here, too. Hopefully, though, someone out there can relate.

In a previous post, I wrote about finding the beauty and the light again. Helping others to do the same. And that, my friends, is what this post is really about. It’s a slow unveiling.

I talked about the phrase “light and love” in that post. How folks who use that phrase are ahead of me in the spiritual journey. It’s true.

There is a vulnerability in saying, “Light and Love” to someone. I share my light with you. I give my love to you. It’s usually said to strangers. It’s unconditional in that sense.

To say it and to really mean it, unconditionally, you shed your armor. You strip down all of those layers of protection. If you say it, you know there’s a good chance someone is going to look at you kind of funny. They may appreciate it, but it may change their perception of you. They may take you a little less seriously.

See, that’s one of my idiosyncrasies, too. I want to be taken seriously … at least intellectually. And softness isn’t considered a part of the intellectual world in many ways.

In fact, very little in this world embraces softness. As I dug down through my layers to get to the point of my post, I discovered something else. I call myself a fighter. I stand up for myself. You have to defend yourself in the corporate world. It’s a dog eat dog kind of place.

So, I lost my softness somewhere between childhood and now.

I put up shields because people hurt me — even if some of it is my own doing. Because people will take advantage of me. Because I am naive and gullible. Has anyone else ever been told that?

When you’re a shy, little thing. One who likes imaginary worlds. Who daydreams about forests filled with fairies and fireflies. Well, this world doesn’t take too kindly to that type of person.

So we build layers. The funny me. The smart me. The serious me. The tough me. The me who doesn’t need anyone or anything.

That last me, the one who doesn’t need anyone, is kind of lie. But that’s what layers do if you build up enough of them. They disconnect us. Or they can. Disconnect us from ourselves and from each other. The real you doesn’t see the light of day. It’s buried behind the wall.

We are all born into this world loving and embracing everything around us. It’s as we grow up and get hurt, get rejected, see our softness as weakness, a vulnerability, that we build up these layers. That chokes off the words, “I give you my love. I share my light with you.”

So this has been a year of unveiling for me. Of stripping off those layers. Letting go of the embarrassment of who I am. Letting go of the shame for things I have done. Some of them anyway. Some of them, I’m still working on.

It’s a slow unveiling. An uncovering of the softness. Inside there is still a soft light of love and kindness. The way I was brought into this world. The way I lived until I learned not to live that way.

I have to admit that it’s hard for me. It’s embarrassing. To show that side of me. To talk about how I care about human beings and nature. How I cry when I think about the oneness of humanity and the universe as a whole. When I think about how we could be. To say that I love you, whoever you are, just because you exist. Because we exist together and we need to love one another.

It was hard for me to realize that I will give myself away to help someone else. That sometimes I value others more than I value myself. It’s unhealthy, but I’m working on that part. It’s part of my unveiling, but it’s me. That’s who I am at the core. This soft, squishy thing. But I’m trying to embrace it again. The healthy parts. For me and for the world. As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s true.

We all still have that within us. The softness. We just have to strip off the layers. Yoga, meditation, gratitude journals, self-love, self-care. Those things can help you get there.

I invite you to take a look at yourself. Start to peel off your layers. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” And when you answer, say to yourself, “No, I mean, who am I really?”

If you want to love yourself, know yourself. Accept yourself for who you are. But find that softness in the center. The love you were born with. Uncover it. Don’t be afraid of what others will think. Or how you’ll be perceived. Don’t fear being hurt. Just join me in the unveiling. It may be hard, but the world could use a little light and love about now.

Peace, y’all.

Finding the Light

Change your thinking and enjoy what’s in front of you

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Last night I promised myself that I was going to find the beauty again. That’s my way of saying I’m going to look on the brighter side of things. Change my life for the better.

The news of Mr. Bourdain’s suicide hit me unusually hard. I was a fan but I wasn’t someone who followed him closely. Didn’t see every show. Or read every book. But I enjoyed his enthusiasm for life and adventure. I think we all did. I think that’s why the news has affected so many people … not just me.

I decided last night it was time to change. I’ve been changing, but I kept falling into the same patterns. A trap of some kind. I was using the wrong words. Focusing on the wrong things.

British therapist Marisa Peer talks about this. The words and pictures we use. If you talk about your drive is killing you … it’s torture. Well, then your drive is going to kill you. It’s going to be torture.

This blog started from another blog I was writing. The other blog was a political one. The way I was seeing the world — the words I was using, the pictures I was seeing — weren’t what I wanted the world to be. But by using those words and saying them, seeing those pictures, that was the world around me.

I was using the words hate and ugly a lot. That was the picture I was feeding my brain. Then I moved to this blog, but I keep talking about struggles and sinking. It happens. But, like everything, we have a choice. I talk about it on here all the time. We have a choice. What words am I using? What pictures am I seeing?

Yes, there is hate in this world. But there is also love. And there is light. And there is beauty. So much more beauty than ugliness. So much more.

There is beauty in the sun that slips between the slats of your blinds and filters across your bedroom wall. There is beauty in the wind that blows your hair across your face. There is beauty in the wispy tufts of the Mimosa tree blossom. There is beauty in a long morning stretch. Or the taste of your breakfast smoothie. There is beauty in typing these words. The feel of the keys against my fingers.

I had sat down to write a gratitude entry in my journal last night. That’s when I told myself I was going to find the beauty again. I had planned on doing creative visualization afterward. To “create” my future. Instead, I dropped the visualization. Visualization is looking toward the future. And when you look toward the future, you miss what is around you in the moment you are living.

My exact words were: “I was going to write about how I wanted my future to look, but I think I will stay in this place tonight. Here, where I am now. Breathing and living and experiencing this beautiful world just as it is at this moment.”

We spend so much of our lives and our time wishing for something else. Wishing for something more. And there is nothing wrong with that, per se. It’s good to set goals and such. But when that’s all we focus on, we miss out on what is in front of us. The here and now. And that can be a pretty awesome place, too, if we just let it.

One of my goals with this blog is to get people to a better place internally so that it will radiate from them. Affect everyone around them externally. I believe that is true. I still believe we make change one person at a time. I believe there is beauty all around us if we only see it.

Light and love. There are those folks who use this phrase all the time. A lot of us think it’s sweet, maybe a little flaky, but we don’t take them terribly seriously. This blog isn’t for the light and love folks. Why? Because they are already there. They already use the right words and see the good pictures. They are welcome to read it, of course, but they are already far ahead of me.

This blog is for those people, like me, who think a little too much. Whose brain won’t let them be as innocent as a child. Oh, I have my moments when I think like a child and I hope to have more, but I’m one of those thinking people, too. Today, I’m changing that, though. I hope I can help others change as well.

I’m not saying we all hold hands and sing songs around a campfire … although it doesn’t sound that bad really. I just want people to see the beauty with me. To see the beauty around them. Acknowledge the good in the world. The light. The love.

I realize that I”m writing this on a computer. And you are probably reading it on a phone or a tablet. But once we finish, put the phone down. The tablet down. Look around you. Experience this world. Wherever you are. There is something beautiful happening or standing right where you are.

I was meditating this morning. I use an app called Calm. I listened to a track called Suspended Droplets. While I meditated the idea for this blog came to me. It came to me because I decided last night and this morning to try to find the light again.

I made my own mantra this morning. That mantra is, “I am love. I give love. I receive love.”

My whole meditation changed. Every note and sound of that song filled my cells. I could feel and see the sun coming through my window although my eyes were closed. There was an energy that reverberated through me. I felt the energy of the world. The love that is all around us in every cell of my body. It felt like the Universe was hugging me.

And the birds outside sang a little louder. My mind was calmer. My life felt whole and complete — despite my current situation.

I’m not looking to move the world to a point where we all say, “Light and Love.” Although, it is a nice greeting when you think about it. I just want to move us to a better place. A place away from where Mr. Bourdain found himself. Where Kate Spade found herself. Where so many find themselves. That is all I’m hoping to achieve.

Peace, and find the light, y’all.

The Darkness Behind My Eyes

Allowing your darkness to open your eyes to the now

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Today, the darkness behind my eyes was too much. I struggled with my meditation. The darkness felt like a void. A dark cave I couldn’t escape.

I know there are some out there who want my posts to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Or to be more profound. This isn’t going to be the blog post for you. Or it will at least require you to read to the end.

Today’s meditation was about wanting clarity on where I should go in life. You’ve heard me talk about this here quite a bit. I start down a path. Feel certain. Then I don’t.

The last few days there has been no path. I’m standing somewhere that looks like nowhere circling around looking for a trail, a street, a sidewalk, a road. Anything that resembles a direction I can follow. But nothing is there.

Today, there was only that black canvas draped around me. My closed eyes seeking for something I couldn’t find. Lost.

Now that I’m writing it, that I’ve stepped away from that moment, I see that I can take that black canvas and project whatever I want on it. Picture the world just as I want it. But during my meditation, it felt suffocating. Too dark to handle.

My eyes flitted back and forth behind my lids. I tried mantras. Focused on my breathing, but none of those little tricks worked today.

I played the same thoughts over in my head. Things that have been said. That I hold onto this feeling, this feeling of being lost and not knowing where to go because it makes me feel special.

But I don’t feel special. Not remotely. Today, especially in that dark cave behind my eyes, I felt pointless. The opposite of special. There was nowhere for me to go. Nothing to do. I had no purpose. No calling. No reason for existing.

Is that depression? Maybe. Dark night of the soul? I don’t know. Do those things exist? An existential crisis is the logical explanation. But special it is not.

It was overwhelming. My mind raced. My breathing shallow. All I could feel and see was the blackness. The emptiness. Spinning ’round, looking for a path that wasn’t there.

The strange thing is that I did a yoga practice this morning that I felt good about. It wasn’t challenging in the strength sense. The challenge was more about slowing down. The pace was even slower than a normal yoga routine. It really focused on the aspects of your life and practice that have become mechanical. Being aware of the mind-body-breath union.

I was in a good mindset going into my meditation. Then the darkness arrived. So, here is a little trick I have found. I’ve only done this a few times. Perhaps it works for me because I have the ability to stare out a window for hours and literally not have a thought in my head.

If your meditation becomes too much. Too dark. The thoughts gain momentum rather than becoming clouds that drift by. Open your eyes.

For me, this works. Become present. Continue the meditation, but open the eyes. Instead of focusing on a mantra or the breathing inside the dark room, focus on the world in front of you. I sit by windows or french doors to meditate. I like to feel the sunlight. Or at least sense it if I’m not sitting directly in front of it.

Sometimes I focus better in the light than in the dark. It’s a simple adjustment. Focus your eyes on something and be knowledgeable of it and your place in the world.

I wasn’t in a dark room of despair. I was in my living room seeing the magnolia tree in my front yard. The shades of dark green mixed with a few golden leaves that will fall soon. The wind gently swaying the limbs back and forth. Seeing how the sun reflects off the glossy side of the leaves.

That is where I am. That is where I’m supposed to be.

I think the yoga practice actually opened something up to me. That is why the darkness was simply too dark for me today. In slowing myself down. Living and experiencing the movements and the breath rather than just performing them, I realized that I rush myself. That I think I’m being present but I’m going through the motions.

The darkness behind my eyes was simply me trying to rush toward a future I don’t know. Instead of embracing the not knowing, it overwhelmed me. Opening my eyes allowed me to refocus on the now. Where I needed to be. To see that majestic magnolia tree in my front yard. To experience the world in front of me at this moment in time.

Answers will come when they are ready. Make a decision to open your eyes and live in the now. See what is in front of you. Feel what is present now. Act on what you know now. The future will change. You will change. That darkness will always be there and it will always overwhelm you if you don’t recognize the present.

Peace, y’all.

Expanding the Spiral

Going within to grow without

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That circular path. I keep coming ‘round to some of the same thought patterns. Expanding outward on the spiritual journey. Going within to grow without.

Why did I start this blog? To make the world a better place. I believe the only way to do that is by each individual making the choice to participate in that effort. That each of us, one by one, must make the choice to improve ourselves and the world around us.

Yoga and meditation, other forms of self-care, the deep ones, that’s how we get there. We try to be the best person we can be. These things help us go within. Work on ourselves. Be better people. From there, we become more loving, compassionate, empathetic. We see ourselves in others. We see the beauty in the world. And create more beauty in the world.

I believe we have an opportunity to expand upon what has been built and create a better world for ourselves. Expand upon religion as we know it. Reconnect with nature. Live more harmoniously.

This is how we will move forward as a species, as a planet. Expanding our perspective on the faiths of the world. Moving away from the divisions and finding greater love and peace within the commonalities. Seeing a connection between everything.

Today’s religions began during a different time in a much different world. They were developed as a way to civilize society. To provide guidance for living in and around other human beings as we moved away from nomadic lives to centralized living. They gave us something to aspire to … or to avoid (i.e, heaven and hell).

But we live in a much different world today. There aren’t a few large cities scattered across one or two continents. There are billions of people on this planet now. Living together. Connected to one another — whether they like it or not.

As our world changes, so must our means of living together harmoniously. I’m not saying demolish religion, necessarily. Expand upon it. Perhaps consider a universal religion. One based on the individual growth and responsibility. One based on finding compassion for others. Based on commonalities, not differences.

The Golden Rule. I wrote about it recently in a previous post. Most major religions have a similar take on the Golden Rule somewhere within their texts. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s so simple. Could a solution to many of today’s woes be that simple? Yes, I believe it can.

You may be wondering if I believe in a higher being. Yes, I do. I choose to believe that, but yes, I absolutely believe in a higher being.

However, I believe we are already part of that higher being. It is part of us. Each of us. We live and breath it every day. It connects all of us. It is not something we must die to rejoin. It is here and now. It is everything we know and see.

Unfortunately, the religions of the world now are serving to divide us. The religions have not evolved with the times. We are growing more and more divided because of the differences between this religion and that one.

Can you imagine for a moment if we changed perspectives? If we looked at the commonalities between religions? They all strive to get to a higher place. They all strive to become better people. Create a better world. Caring for one another. Treating one another as we want to be treated.

If we lived that every day, what would our lives be like? Wouldn’t that be more pleasant than the world as it is now? Wouldn’t we be more united than divided?

Is it so difficult to find the commonalities? To see one another as humans trying to aspire to be better humans? It’s not difficult at all.

We can reach a higher level than we have ever reached on earth before. We can live in greater harmony. Love one another more. Save the planet that supports us.

Heaven on earth? Utopia? Perhaps. More peaceful and loving? Absolutely.

But it all begins with me and you. Each individual making a choice to focus on the good parts of today’s religions. Focus on those things we all search for. And forget about the differences.

It requires us to be compassionate and empathetic. It requires us to be our best so that we contribute the best to everything around us. Then, let it spread like wildfire.

Of course there are other reasons behind the world’s problems. Fear. Greed. To name a couple. All of these things, these human frailties, can be improved through self-improvement. By going within. By choosing to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

I have always compared our existence with Einstein’s theory: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

If you have studied biology or geography, astronomy, physics. Everything in this world is constantly changing. People, trees, the air we breathe, the water we drink — everything is a chemical reaction or physical reaction that requires and generates energy. That energy creates changes or the energy itself changes. Our bodies grow, trees grow, things die, decay and regenerate from seed. It’s all energy. And that energy all interacts and reacts with the other energy around it.

That energy. That energy is the higher being. That energy that connects everything. That is God. Spirit. The Universe. Whatever you want to call it. It is us. It is every cell. Every subatomic particle. It is every human made up of those cells. Every community. Every country. Every planet. The stars. The moon. The galaxy and beyond.

Einstein saw it, I believe. The universe. Infinity. We cannot fully understand anything in this world because the world and everything in it are always changing. We can go so far but without stopping it, we cannot fully understand it. It is one step ahead of us. It always will be.

The mystery. He spoke of mystery. Things unsolved. He either saw it or chose to believe that there is something beyond that connects us all and that we will not understand it all. Of course, that is only my opinion.

Science and religion are connected for me. They are the yin and yang of our existence. Fact and faith. Science looks within ourselves, our cells, our galaxy, our earth to find the facts. We look within to find the faith, the mystery. Somewhere those two things cross paths. Where exactly, I do not know. But energy is the center of it.

We are made of energy. Energy creates us, and changes form when we die. And if we are all energy and we have the power to change the energy we send out through mindfulness and awareness, then we have the ability to change our world. To create the world we want.

Think about the energy you put out in the world. When you walk in a room and you’re gloomy or angry, it affects those around you. It’s a bad vibe. Bad energy. You can feel it. I can feel it. It changes the room. It changes the people.

That energy that connects us is the reason why we feel it. If we were totally separate, your mood would have no impact on my mood. My bad behavior would have no impact on you or the environment around me. But we all know that it does.

Happiness spreads from one person to another. Laughter spreads. Your spirit improves when you do something you enjoy. Those around you feel it.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Step back and look at a bigger perspective. If there is an entire country of people arguing amongst themselves. Focusing on their differences rather than their commonalities. How does that impact that country? How does that impact countries around it?

When one human being looks at another human being and hates him or her for the color of their skin. Or for the fact that they are one gender or another. That they prefer to have sex with one gender or another. They believe in one God or another. How does that hate impact that other person? How does the other person’s reaction impact those around them and their family? The community that supports them?

Cancer works the same way. Bad cells multiply and spread. Affecting nearby cells and organs around them. It spreads. It devours.

Now flip the switch. What happens when you connect with others, show compassion? You change. Those who receive your compassion show gratitude. You smile. They smile. You are united in a common good. The world seems a little better. That’s because it is.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Each human is like a cell in the greater being we call Earth. Earth is a cell in our galaxy. Our galaxy impacts a greater universe. That’s my philosophy.

Our connection with the planet, with nature, works the same way. If we mistreat it, it withers and dies. Or it fights back with storms and drought. Without nature, we don’t exist. We don’t breath. We don’t eat. We don’t have water. Mistreating the planet is mistreating ourselves.

By taking care of the planet, we take care of ourselves. Our air is cleaner. Our lungs are cleaner. Are food is healthier. We are healthier.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Our journey, whether we want to believe it or not, is circling around. We are finding old patterns, old obstacles, old ways of thinking coming back up over and over again. We are stumbling. We are stopping. We are not expanding. It’s becoming a challenge that we are not overcoming. And the energy of the planet is changing.

We have the opportunity to grow. To be bigger. Grander. Happier. More peaceful. More harmonious. Beyond anything we have yet experienced.

But our ways of aspiring to greatness must evolve. Religions must expand. Our way of thinking and viewing each other and the world around us must focus on our connections now. There are too many of us. We live too close together. We are too connected to be disconnected.

Focus on the commonalities. We all want happiness. A comfortable peaceful home in a comfortable peaceful neighborhood. We want to enjoy food. Have good times. Have clean air to breathe. Food to eat. Water to drink. We want kindness and joy. Compassion when it is needed. Support. And most of all love.

We must connect to ourselves. Then connect to those around us. Connect to the world around us.

I’m not saying we won’t be human. We won’t stumble. We won’t suffer the human condition. Of course, we will. That is part of the experience. But isn’t part of the experience also to grow? To learn? To aspire to better the world and the lives of those around us?

It’s a simple solution. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do yoga. Meditate. Go within. Find that peace for yourself. Find the love for yourself. Let it spread beyond. Connect to those around you. Find the commonalities. Find the connection. Spread good energy. Bring good vibes. Let the spiral expand.

Peace, y’all.

Let’s Crack This Thing Open

Learning to shift perspectives (a daily writing prompt)

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Broken. It has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? To be broken. Shattered to the core. A dried up brain rattling around in the dustbowl of your head. It doesn’t function anymore.

We’ve all been there at some point, haven’t we? If you haven’t, well, sweetie, it’s coming. It happens to all us at some time. But being broken isn’t a bad thing, per se. Or at least, I don’t think so.

Let’s think about it for a minute. How did you get there? How did you become broken? You only break when you give your all to something. Your everything. You put every ounce of you into whatever it is, and it didn’t work out.

Then crack. Broken. Lying on the floor in a million little pieces. Sobbing like a baby.

Yeah, there are lots of ways to give your all. To get to that point where you don’t exist except for the shards of you strewn about after the explosion. On the light side, you gave your heart, body, and soul to some person who didn’t love you. You put your life into this amazing career just to get booted at the top of your game.

Then there’s the dark side. Maybe you were hellbent on destruction. Popping pills, shooting up, snorting your life up your nose. Still, you were giving it your all. You weren’t giving up on your goal … even if you realized your goal wasn’t really what you wanted.

Broken doesn’t happen without effort. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you are putting your all into something, it is your will. It is your passion.

In the end, it was a lesson you needed to learn. We all got ‘em. We’re all here to learn something. To share something. Somewhere in the midst of your brokenness is the answer to all of those questions — your purpose, your lessons, your life, and goals and why the hell am I doing this to myself?

One thing that I know, if you are broken, then you are still here. You didn’t give up. You didn’t fade away. There’s still a little light shining through those cracks. Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

When you’re all the way down, face planted on the carpet … well, as the saying goes, there’s nowhere to go but up. You can’t get any lower.

Broken exists for a reason. It’s a catalyst to change our lives. To make a choice.

Choice. I keep coming back to that word over and over again, don’t I? Everything is a choice. Being broken, in part, is a choice. We allow it to happen. Once we’re there, we either wallow in it or get out of it.

But more than anything, being broken is an opportunity. Every choice is an opportunity. A new direction. A new perspective. A new purpose.

Yesterday, for me, that moment I had with God was an opportunity. I can make a choice to stay where I am. To be confused and lost. Angry. Or I can make some decisions. Change my life. Move forward.

That’s why I recommend yoga and meditation so much. Stuff like that happens. Big philosophical stuff. Sometimes you break.

Tap, tap. Do you hear that? I’m cracking this shell open. I’m leaving this broken house behind.

Peace, y’all.

Making Peace with God

Finding peace within through a connection to faith and self

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I’m going to preface this post by saying this will not be my most well-written post. It may be the most meaningful for my journal thus far, but it won’t be eloquent. It will ramble and be awkward. I apologize for that up front.

I hit a turning point this morning. I know it. I felt it. I believe it can help others if I talk about it. But, I struggle the most getting those important points across clearly and concisely.

Also, this touches on the topic of religion a little. That’s an iffy subject at best and even a contentious one for me. My personal belief is that, in the grand scheme of things, religion is a guide to help us be better people and create a better world.

Luckily, most world religions have some element of the Golden Rule. That’s pretty much my religion. Treat others how you want to be treated. A simple way to live. A simple way to make the world better. And I’m in good company. The Parliament of World Religion’s made this the basis of the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic in 1993.

Unfortunately, up to this point, religion has mostly served to divide us rather than unite us. We look at the differences rather than the commonalities. It’s not the goal, but ultimately it is the reality so far.

So with that in mind, I’m a little weary of talking about my topic today: Finding your faith if you have lost it. I think it’s important, though, so I’m going to do it.

Yoga and meditation can bring you closer to your faith — whatever it is — and closer to yourself. That’s where we all need to be to make ourselves and the world better.

As for losing faith, that’s where I have been stuck lately. Without faith.

Yoga, mindfulness, all of those things teach you that you create your reality. Your world and your life depend on you and the choices you make.

As far as I’m concerned that is true. Sometimes, though, a religious faith confuses the situation. It becomes a crutch or a scapegoat. For me, it was the latter.

When I was young I didn’t think I could fail. You know how youth is. Even if I failed or thought that I might, I would just keep trying until I didn’t fail.

Tenacious is what some call me. Persistent. Determined. A pain in the ass.

But, I had faith in myself.

When we get older, at least for me, I lost some of that faith. You start to deal with the realities of life, and things don’t work out like you plan. I think that’s when you start to look for something bigger than yourself. Or I did.

God, although I don’t usually use that term, was the answer. God helps you find what you’re looking for, to rip off a line from U2.

That was a big change for me. I had always depended on me and nothing else. Pure faith in me. I never blamed God when something didn’t work out like I planned. There was no blame, honestly. Just a misstep. I dusted myself off and kept going.

Then I started meditation and felt even stronger. I could walk away from a job and be fine. And I did. I believed in myself, but at that time, I also believed God had my back. God was an extension of me, and vice versa.

See, meditation brought me closer to my own beliefs, my faith. That God or Universe, as I usually call it, was there to support me. Hear me. Help me.

God heard me. I had journaled about things I wanted, and God/Universe gave them to me. No hesitation. No questions asked. I was feeling pretty powerful and connected to all that is. Manifesting and shit.

Turned out that what I asked for wasn’t exactly what I wanted … or what I thought it would be. That’s when my faith faltered. That’s when God became my scapegoat.

Why would God/Universe provide me with something I didn’t want? Well, he didn’t. I just didn’t want what I had asked for. My perspective was askew. Blaming and not accepting. I was looking for answers outside of myself. Your answers are never there.

What I wanted isn’t God’s choice. It’s my choice. The core of my belief is that we create our own lives. Everything we need is inside of us. God isn’t a puppet master. God/ Universe/Spirit is a provider.

Then why didn’t I want what I received? Why was I unhappy? It was a misstep. That’s all it was. I gave it a shot, and it turned out not to be right.

But my youth was gone. I didn’t dust myself off. I didn’t pivot like I used to.

I should have said to myself, “Oh, I thought I wanted this, but hey turns out I don’t.” But I didn’t. I blamed God to some degree. Or at least I think I did.

I lost faith. But, God gave me what I wanted. I shouldn’t have lost faith. I did nonetheless.

I just made the wrong choice … or rather a choice that didn’t fit. It happens. It’s not right or wrong. It’s life. My life. The one I chose.

That same scenario played out a few more times over a course of a few years. Each time, I lost more faith. Became more disconnected from God and what I’m realizing now, more disconnected from myself.

See, I didn’t lose faith in God. I lost faith in me. In my eyes, I made the wrong choice. I wasn’t happy in the situations I thought I wanted.

Honestly, there is no blame in the situation. Not as far as what I received is concerned. Not on me. Not on God. They were just lessons.

I tried something and it didn’t work. Like a science experiment. But I didn’t empty out my test tubes and start over. I laid blame. Put down the test tubes and called it quits. God, the science teacher, didn’t give me the right materials.

I made a choice. I didn’t choose to be happy. I didn’t choose to change my life. I lost faith in myself to make the right choices and in God to provide the right materials.

I talked about choices in a previous post. As I mentioned in that post, it is my choice how I react to situations. The choice I made resulted in me continuing on the same destructive path. Or at least non-productive path. I chose to lay blame instead of learning, so I kept moving in the same direction.

That’s not God’s fault. It’s simply a perception I needed to change.

I let my faith that God was there to support me be a crutch — “I’ll be happy no matter what.” Well, no, that’s not how life works.

When things didn’t work out, God was my scapegoat. My excuse for not having the life I wanted because I continued to make choices that weren’t from my heart. I made practical choices, material choices, not “true self” choices. I chose to keep making the same mistakes, making the same decisions, expecting different results. Choosing not to be happy. God kept providing, and I kept blaming God for not being happy.

I didn’t follow Eckhart Tolle’s advice. I didn’t accept my situations. Didn’t change them. Didn’t walk away from them. Instead, I wallowed in them. Over and over again. Losing more faith in God, which, in reality, was losing faith in myself.

As I was writing this, it hit me. I even said it earlier. Everything we need is inside of us. Losing faith in God is losing faith in yourself. That’s because God is part of all of us. We create our world. If we think it, God feels it. It’s in us. God makes it happen. How we respond and the results we get are our choice. And what is provided after that, is also our choice.

I’m not sure why it took me months and months of yoga and meditation to get to that. Well, I do actually. I had wiped out my faith in everything.

When I prayed to God to help my cat. To not let him have cancer and yet he died of cancer. When I saw my dad wither away that same year from cancer. Not able to get out a bed — a man who walked 10 miles a day just so he could talk to people. When Trump was elected and the chaos ensued. When I lost my job. It built up. My faith was gone. My faith in myself to make the right choices. My faith in God to support me. All faith had gone.

When I lost that faith — in myself and God — I couldn’t move. I was stuck.

I realize life is cyclical. I know we all die eventually. I knew I wasn’t in the right job anymore. But, I didn’t accept the reality of life. I didn’t change my situation. And I didn’t walk away either. I just stood there. Lost and dumbfounded. Angry at myself and God.

I didn’t want to deal with it or accept, so I laid blame. On God. And eventually on myself.

Some things in life are just life. People and pets die. It’s not a message from God or the Universe. You didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t change it. It just happens because we all die.

Accept it. Grieve it, but accept it.

Other things in life are just choices that didn’t work out. Part of that is choosing not to be happy. Part of it is not choosing to change. Some situations just aren’t right for a variety of reasons. It’s OK.

Change them or walk away.

There really are only three choices. And it’s our choice to make. God, Universe, whatever you want to call it, just provides. The rest is up to us.

Faith in God, though, gives us strength. It gives us hope. It gave me everything I wanted when I was knee deep in it. I was able to change. That’s what we need to move forward. To make better choices. To have the strength to face the tough times. To dust ourselves off and move on.

When we don’t have faith in ourselves, our ability to make choices and respond accordingly, that’s when we lose faith in God. They’re interconnected.

What we ask for, God provides. God is everything and everything is God — without trying to sound hokey. Including ourselves. Our life is our choice. God is there to support us, but not to live our lives. He provides. What we do with it is up to us.

So when we choose to be unhappy in our job, choose to stay in a bad situation, choose creature comforts over our heart’s desires, we get the results you would expect from that. We have to have faith that we can change. That we can be happy with or without some of those creature comforts. That a better life is available to us if we just choose it.

Going back to the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You have to do the same for yourself. You have to treat yourself how you would treat others. Forgive yourself if you make a choice and it doesn’t work out. Move on and try something else. Forgive yourself if you’ve been living a place of unhappiness. Just change it. Wish the best for yourself. Hope for it. You would do it for others.

Forgive God because, well, he didn’t do anything but provide you what you asked for or reflected what was in your heart. God isn’t a puppet master or a scapegoat. The rest of the problems are usually just life happening. In a cycle, like they always do. Don’t blame God for not being happy.

Find your faith in yourself. In God — and not in the dogmatic sense but as a provider. Have faith in the ability to change. In the ability to be happy. In the ability to make a difference.

It will change you for the better. It will change your world. And the rest of the world will be better for it.

Peace, y’all.

The Sound of Birds

The importance of mindfulness for making choices that better serve us

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It’s funny how people can see things so differently. Choice may be the most powerful tool we have as a species. It can change our behaviors, our thoughts and, as far as that goes, our environment.

But we have to be in the right frame of mind to make our best choices. The pace of this world right now … we’re probably not making the best choices. We’re not thinking things through. We’re not mindful.

I can tell you that I don’t always make the best choices. I make them out of anger or frustration. Sometimes out of fear or uncertainty. In a rush because I need to get to something else. That is not the best place to be when making a decision.

That is why yoga and meditation are so important to me. It slows me down. It connects me to who I am. Let’s me control my emotions a bit better. And that’s where I make my best decisions.

Choice from the right state of mind.

I read a quote from Kurt Cobain’s journals yesterday. It said, “Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don’t speak bird.”

I admire Kurt Cobain in many ways. Very talented, and was super smart from what I can tell. And, he had a sense of humor … or at least that’s always how I read it. That quote, for example, made me laugh. I have a morbid sense of humor myself, so I fully appreciate that sort of comment.

Knowing how he died, though, and the songs that he sang, there may be some true sadness in that quote. Probably more than I read into it, to be honest.

It’s hard to be that smart, I suppose. To see the world for what it is — with all of its flaws and frailties. To hear the horrors in the sound of birds.

To be honest, I see the world that way, too, sometimes. Probably not as informed and intelligently as he did, but I’ve seen that vision of the world a time or two. The difference, I suppose, is that I choose not to live there in that vision. Not all of the time, at least.

I’m grounded there, for better or worse, but I can see something promising out on the horizon. I choose to see how we can be despite the flaws and frailties. Or, better yet, using those flaws and frailties to improve ourselves … so we can be better. The world can be better.

The birds are not a sound of warning for me. In reality, I’m sure that was a joke on his part, but even humor is based in reality. We know what his reality was. There was a grain of truth in that comment. That makes me sad for him. But even as a fan at the top of his success, I was always sad for him.

Gratitude To Go

Today, I am grateful that I can make choices about my life and how I see the world. I’m grateful that, in the end, no matter how I get there, my choices tend to end up on the side of light.

What are you grateful for today?

Today, I woke to the sounds of a bird festival outside my window. It would have made Hitchcock uncomfortable. So many birds, so many different songs. For me, though, they weren’t sounds of horror or sounds of warning. They were sounds of who we are in our natural state. Songs of what we can be.

I heard songs of life. Of existing in the moment. Songs of love, mating, and nourishment. Songs of protection and brotherhood. No two birds were singing the same song. They all had a different sound, for a different purpose, for different species.

Yet that cacophony of birdsongs put me in a peaceful frame of mind. They were sounds of joy and blissful existence. Harmonious and unified.

We choose how we see the world. I choose to see it through the eyes of love and possibilities. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness help me keep that vision. Although it is the same world as Kurt Kobain’s, with the same birds singing the same songs, I’d much rather live in my version of the world.

Peace, y’all.

The Black Sands of My Past

Rediscovering parts of yourself through meditation and yoga

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Unlearning what you’ve learned. Forgetting who thought you were. That is what yoga and meditation have been about for me lately. Each time I unwind from an eagle pose or detoxifying twist, I’m wringing something out that no longer belongs.

Letting go, though, isn’t easy. When it’s something inside of you, that has been there for years, it’s difficult to let go. Even those things that you know aren’t good for you.

It’s funny, but those things — the not so good things — are the ones sometimes we cling to the most. We refuse to let go even if they limit our happiness. We don’t let them go because it means we have to change or become vulnerable in some way. Sometimes it’s just easier to hold on … but it usually isn’t better.

As we grow up, we start to develop an idea of who we are. Our place in the world. Sometimes, though, we don’t always develop a clear sense of ourselves. The image gets twisted somehow or part of it is left behind.

Now, I’ve always been a responsible, practical, dependable adult. Those are perfectly good qualities, but I have molded my life into those characteristics. Made choices based on those characteristics. Part of me has suffered because of that.

Today, I did a yoga practice about “emptying the breath, emptying our old stories and wringing out old waste in body, thoughts, and actions.” It did exactly that. I really focused on thoughts I have about myself and realized I needed to let some things go.

The way I define myself limits my perspective on life … and how I live my life. I always make practical choices. Responsible choices. I’m not free like I want to be — like the child I was at 5. I’m wrapped up tight.

During my meditation afterward, I began to let some things go that came up during yoga. I also embraced some parts of me that had become nearly extinct. I asked myself what I wanted to be as if I were an adult talking to a child.

So, here comes the wild part. In my meditative state, with all limitations eliminated and anything is possible, what is it that I want to be?

Well, of course, I want to be a witch. To be honest, at the very core of me, I have always wanted to be a witch.

Yes, I realize how that sounds. I’ll just say it for you. Crazy as batshit. That’s exactly the reason I have to say it. Here’s why.

For my entire life, in the back of my mind, I have always had this fantasy of being a witch. Always and forever. But, I have never once voiced that out loud. Never. Not even as a kid. Is there a deeper story there? Probably so. Still, when I realized that I had never uttered the words, it upset me.

Growing up, I had so many witchcraft books (only good, natural magic, mind you). I studied magic. I tried practicing it. I kind of thought I had some powers sometimes. I bought weird clothes. I was excited every time a new Pyramid Collection catalog came to my house. I even collected them. Poured over them for days.

Why those came to my house, I do not know. No one else in my family was into that stuff, and this is before the internets arrived.

The truth is that I wanted to be natural, free. I wanted to work with nature and develop potions to help people. I wanted to heal trees and save injured squirrels. I wanted to be magical. I wanted to be a witch.

Truth is, in a limitless world, I still do.

When I realized that I never said that to anyone, though, I cried. As an adult, OK, maybe I understand not blurting that out. But as a 5-year-old or even a 10-year-old, yeah, I should have been able to do that. I should have screamed it at the top of my lungs. But I never did. Not once.

Such an insignificant piece of information, but even that I kept locked away.

It was silly. Ridiculous. I was embarrassed to say it. Honestly, I still am, and I shouldn’t be. I have denied part of myself, part of my personality, my entire life because of who I told myself I am. Practical. Responsible. This image I have of myself — that I present to the world.

Unlearning what you’ve learned.

Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with that thought — with wanting to be a witch, not even at my age. But, I feel conflicted about saying it. I feel ashamed … or I did when I first started writing this. I should never feel ashamed of being who I am or having the thoughts that I have. But I am.

It breaks my heart, honestly, that the wild child, nature lover part of me was never fully ingrained into my being. It’s probably the best part of me, to be honest. But it has been a part of me without being a part of me. It lives in my journal and never sees the light of day.

That was my entire being when I was a kid. She’s tucked away and forgotten.

So, that’s what I’m letting go now. That’s what yoga and meditation helped me do today … or at least helped me recognize and begin to do. I’m releasing the negative feelings I have about my ideas, my dreams, my personality. I’m releasing the embarrassment around things that don’t fit the picture of who I think I am and who I’m supposed to be.

I’m releasing the shame of being me. My weird, witch-dreaming self.

On the other hand, I want to bring that little wild child of me out of the dark some. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that just yet, but she has a lifetime to catch up on. I’m going to start making a list of things I love, no matter how crazy they may sound, and find ways to incorporate them back into my life. And I’m not going to be ashamed of it anymore.

I’m going to unlearn what I’ve learned and remember who I am. I hope you can do the same.

Peace, y’all.

Meditation Moment

This is a new idea I’m going to test out here from time to time. I’m going to add a Meditation Moment or some Gratitude To Go from my own practice. I’m hoping it will simply serve as a springboard for your own meditations or a little gratitude pick-me-up if you’re feeling down. It’s nothing more than that.

Today, I asked myself to meditate on things that I wanted to let go and ways to reconnect with who I am. Here’s what my mind’s eye shared with me:

I face the sun set, the sky deep orange and gold. My green velvet dress reflects the richness of the field around me. A vibrant world wraps me in warmth and comfort.

I slip my right hand gently into my chest and retrieve a handful of black sand. These things that have darkened my heart, I raise to my lips and blow them to the wind. I watch their strange path — like starlings in flight. Drifting, beautiful and graceful, until they gradually disappear on the horizon.

The sun warms my face. My spirit is lighter. Now I am the magic I was meant to be.

The Feeling of Gratitude (Or Thanks for the Gray Days)

Why gratitude journaling is so important for self-care and inner peace

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Stumbling blocks. We all have them. Even the most enlightened among us, if they are still on this planet, stumble from time to time. That’s why spiritual journeys are circular.

When you come across a boulder in your path, how do you get around it? That’s where self-care, self-love, meditation, yoga … everything I talk about here comes into play.

You can build your strength with yoga and climb over it. You can meditate and find a path around it. Or you can practice gratitude and walk through the middle of it as if it were only a ghost of itself. A mirage in your path back to who you are.

Practicing gratitude can change everything. It’s the third leg on the stool of  happiness — yoga, meditation, gratitude. It provides strength and stability to everything else.

For me, gratitude journaling works best. I’m sure you can simply meditate on things you’re grateful for or set 5 minutes aside each day to have a little “thank ye” conversation with yourself.

Journaling, though, makes it stick a little better. At least it does for me.

I mentioned in my previous post that I wasn’t quite at the level in my meditation practice I was a few years back. I wasn’t sure why until I realized I wasn’t keeping a gratitude journal. That was the missing ingredient.

It may seem kind of pointless. Or just another task to do. Another item on your calendar. Look at it this way. If you didn’t perform the task of taking out the garbage, what would your life be like? Think of practicing gratitude as taking the garbage out of your spirit. Because, honestly, that’s what it does.

Practicing gratitude feeds everything else in your life — your feelings and emotions, the choices you make, everything. It makes you more empathetic, more loving, more understanding. More you.

I have no concrete proof to give you. I have experience with it, but no real proof. I say give it a try for a month, see if you start to notice any difference in your life.

For me, I start to see small signs first. As I am writing this, for example, two red birds, cardinals, landed on my patio just outside the french doors. One male, one female. I love birds. I could watch birds for hours on end. I haven’t seen a bird on my patio in weeks or at least not as often as I used to.

Sure, it could be a coincidence. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s just that you start to notice the things you love a little more than the things that distract you and upset you. Doesn’t really matter if it’s the magic of the universe connecting with me or just a change in my perception. The happiness that it brings is what matters. That’s what gratitude journaling can do for you.

In fact, it helps me feel closer to nature. I grew up in the mountains. Nature’s kind of my thing. Or one of my things. Being grateful for the things in my life, the world around me, it makes even those boulders in my path not so daunting.

But I know gratitude journaling doesn’t always feel natural in the beginning. It seems a little forced, a little contrived. Maybe it even is a little in the beginning. Stick with it a while. Go back and read your entries from time to time. You’ll see how you grow the more you do it. The more natural it becomes.

I read a few of my old ones before writing this post. In fact, that is the reason I decided to write the post. When I read my old journal, when I was at my “highest,” I felt the difference in myself. The way I felt then vs. the way I feel now. My heart lightened up. A smile slid across my face.

Yeah, you may read an entry of your own, and it may sound a little silly. A little naive. Truth is, though, if you read it carefully, you’ll hear your inner child speaking. It’s a kid state of mind in some ways. That’s not a bad place to be if you ask me.

I thought instead of simply telling you to practice gratitude or to keep a gratitude journal, I would share a little of something from mine (or the one I’m about to start again). This will be my first entry in my new gratitude practice. Sometimes it’s just easier to see something in practice.

You’ll notice that my entry will focus on some of the “not so positive” things in my day. I do that purposefully — mindfully if you will. It’s easy to be grateful when it’s a sunny, beautiful day, you’re hanging on the arm of a handsome guy, and you’re working at a job that you love and makes you millions of dollars. What’s not to be grateful about in that situation?

When you’re unemployed. Worried about how long you can pay your bills. Sitting on your sofa looking out at a gloomy day. Being grateful isn’t as easy then. That’s when you need to do it most, though. That’s when it will have the most impact. Trust me.

If you can be grateful during the low times and start to feel better about yourself and life, imagine how you’ll feel when you are having those good days. It’s like happiness dividends from the bliss bank.

So here’s my first gratitude entry. Oh, by the way, I write my gratitude journals like letters to the universe. It feels like I’m having a conversation with a friend, and that works best for me.


Universe,

You know the weather can get me down sometimes, but not today. It’s close to evening, and the sky is a deep gray. It’s soothing and calming. Soft and velvety. Still and peaceful. Steady in its grayness.

A few lighter clouds drift by like fleeting thoughts. I see lightning flash from time to time. A glow within the darkness. I think it may rain soon.

You know, Universe, I’m so grateful for the rain. It washes everything clean. It feeds the trees that I love so and makes the world lush and green. I love the sound it makes as I’m dozing off to sleep. It blocks the noise of the busy street outside.

I feel peaceful and safe, although a storm is brewing. Like I’m in a warm, dry cocoon. I thank you so much for that.

You know I listen to rain when I meditate. When I need to wash myself of negativity. Funny, it does the same thing in real life, too. All the dirt and grime, the things that don’t belong in the world, they wash down the street into a drain at the bottom of the hill. It makes the world shiny and new.

I don’t thank you enough for the gray days, Universe. In fact, I usually complain. I apologize for that. I’m only human. Without them, though, the things I love wouldn’t exist. The plants, the trees, the birds, the creeks, rivers, and moss on stones, mushrooms on a decaying stump. It creates the landscape where I live and feeds the landscape in my mind.

Gray days, Universe, let me look inside. Curl up and get to know myself better. Read a book. Enjoy a poem. Tinker on my piano. In some ways, they are more about loving yourself than the sunny days. They are personal and introverted. Not in your face like those sunny days. But don’t get me wrong, I love sunny days, too.

Ah, I hear thunder rolling in the distance. The sound of thunder soothes me. The flashes of lightning are coming faster. I do actually love thunderstorms, Universe. The gentle ones, like tonight, make me realize how close to nature we really are. Nature still controls our lives. We’re more removed from it now, but the relationship is still the same.

Our homes were once our caves. We still come in out of the rain. We still burn wood on the coldest of nights. And camp beneath the starlight. We’re still connected, Universe, we just have to work a little harder now to notice it. That’s why I am writing this journal.

Thank you, Universe, for this beautiful world. For Mother Nature and all her power and all her glory. I thank you for a world that supports me and sustains me. That reminds me of the cycles of life. That I’m not alone. That there is a whole world of people and animals and trees and plants circling through the same cycles as I am. That I am part of nature and nature is part of me.

I thank you, Universe, especially today. I have worried about finding a job and how long I can pay my bills. I trust you will be there for me when I need it most, Universe. You always provide. Like today, with this gray day, that I didn’t realize I needed. A day where I can focus on the good things in life. The things I love. The things that matter. Thank you for that. Thank you for the gray days.


Now that may not do anything for you, but I can tell you it makes a world of difference for me. The beauty of gratitude journaling — or however you practice gratitude — is that you are an adult seeing the world from that childlike perspective. Yet, you’ve grown enough to understand all of the emotions you are having and you’ve learned to control them a little better in your old age. You know that bad things happen and they often happen to help you grow.

You get to see the wonder of the world while wrapped up in the stability of adulthood and mindfulness. There’s not a much better view of the universe than that … and there’s not a boulder in sight.

Peace, y’all.

Finding Our Way Home

Using meditation and mindfulness as a path to a loving world

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Why do we stop being children? Of course, there’s the journey and lessons to be learned. I get it. That’s what life’s all about. There is a reason, though, that spiritual journeys are often represented as a spiral.

Some things we just need to come back to. There are parts of us as children that we lose as we grow up. The world jades us a bit. Hardens our edges.

Hopefully, we find ourselves coming back around from time to time to reconnect to some of the better parts of ourselves. Those parts that are present when we’re young and innocent. When the world is wondrous and new.

Love, for example. Kids get it. Sometimes they get it better than we do as adults. They don’t overcomplicate it, that’s for sure. It just happens for them. It’s their nature.

I read this article on the Daily Good. It’s older, but stuff like this I hope stays on the Internet forever.

A group of professionals asked a group of 4- to 8-year-olds, “What is love?” There are some funny ones and some pretty advanced thoughts amongst this group of kids. The final entry, though, touched me. It came from a 4-year-old whose elderly neighbor had just lost his wife. I’ll simply copy the last part:

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

I’m not sure the child even knew that was an act of love, an act of kindness but boy, could we use a little more of that in this world. We all could revisit that part of ourselves. To love like children again.

I realize I sound like a broken record. I keep saying the same things over and over again. My goal, I guess, is that if I say it enough times, someone will listen.

That little boy’s actions, that’s who we are. That’s who we all are at our very cores. At our very best. I refuse to believe otherwise.

I also believe that one of the ways to reconnect with that part of ourselves is through mindfulness and meditation. It helps us weed all of those things that sprout up as we tackle challenges and obstacles in our lives. It clears the way for growth in our inner garden of love.

I’ve mentioned overcoming some roadblocks in my meditation in recent posts. Meditation comes in waves or levels … or if you read my previous post, layers in a layer cake. I’ve moved up a few layers, but I haven’t reached the top of the cake just yet.

As you move up, your world changes. I don’t think I’ve ever reached the top, but I’ve been higher than I am now. I’m trying to get there again. I’m trying to get back home.

That’s what it feels like. It feels like you are coming home to yourself. To who you truly are, how you are supposed to feel and who you are supposed to be.

I was closest when I quit my job a few years back. I wasn’t afraid of what was going to happen. I was happy… joyous even. I had faith in myself, and I had faith in the universe … God, Spirit, whatever you want to call it. The weight of burdens wasn’t with me anymore. The weight of worry and concern wasn’t with me. The weight of my future, my career, all the things we worry about from day to day was lifted.

When all of that weight is gone, you don’t look at the world the same. You don’t get angry when someone cuts you off or it passes through quickly if you do. You don’t rant all the way home. You see people for who they are and love them for it. You love their faults as well as their good points. Because we’re all human and you learn to appreciate and accept that more. You notice the taste and coolness of watermelon a little more on a hot summer day. You find comfort in the train that passes by your home every night at 3 a.m. rather than get annoyed by it. You find peace, and that peace helps to rekindle that love we feel as a child. The love that is so effortless. It’s like breathing.

It’s a different world when you reach a higher level with your meditation. You start to feel love literally radiating from your core while you meditate, and it stays with you through the day. You start to feel like you are home. That’s where you live. That’s where you are supposed to be. You knock down all the gates and uproot all of the hedges. You remove every barrier you’ve surrounded yourself with to protect you from the world.

Our home, though, shouldn’t have those barriers. We build them up. We have bad experiences or learn bad habits or thought processes and the gates go up. I want to get back home. I want to live unguarded. Free to love everyone and everything. That’s how I was as a child. I want that part of me back.

I want all of us to get back to that place. I want all of us to find our home.

Sometimes there are things in life that force us to come back around to ourselves. There are little reminders from the universe. Yesterday, I came across something online that brought me back to why I’m here. Why I started this blog.

This video is why I am here.

This video is why I keep repeating myself over and over. Do yoga. Meditate. Get back to yourself.

I repeat these things for two reasons. One, my knee-jerk reaction is to be angry at this man. To yell at him. To call him names. How dare he make these assumptions about people. How dare he speak to people this way.

Yoga and meditation, though, have calmed me enough to not do that. I’m not saying you don’t fight for what you believe, but you fight differently. It’s more Gandhi-style. Or John Lennon-style. Yoga and meditation have given me enough inner peace to breathe through my knee-jerk reaction.

Reason No. 2: After I let it all sink in, I feel sorry for this man. Not for the way he treated these people. I believe Karma will get him back for that. I do believe in Karma. But, in reality, that’s a terrible way to live. That’s a heavy burden on the heart and your soul to walk around feeling like that about someone else and many others simply because they came from another country and speak another language.

And you can see those walls go up around what once was probably a lovely little boy. “My tax dollars. My country.” Wall after wall. Blocking him off from what I believe is at the center of all of us. Love.

I’m not talking politics here. Or rights. Or anything of that sort. I’m talking about human nature. That’s not how we are born. That’s not who we are. Not here in America and not anywhere else in the world either. Those lessons and obstacles. Things we never quite came to peace with or cleared out of our souls. That’s what you saw on that video. That’s what’s weighing on that man. The material world. The political world. That’s where his anger comes from. Where the hate comes from. It’s nurtured, not nature.

He couldn’t see the human standing in front of him. He saw an obstacle. A challenge. The walls were in the way. He’s so far removed from himself, he couldn’t see the impact he was having. Worse yet, he probably didn’t care.

“My country. My tax dollars.”

If you’re a person of faith, didn’t God create each one of us? Didn’t he create the planet that supports us? Are we all in this together from the spiritual perspective? Is this how God wants us to treat each other?

If you are more esoteric in your beliefs, aren’t we all made of the same stardust? Even if you’re atheist, don’t we have to accept one another as cohabitants of the same planet?

Whatever your belief, that is not how we treat each other. And my belief, my humble opinion, that is not who we are as a species.

We’ve lost our way. We need to find our way back home. Back to that 4-year-old who says nothing, but his actions speak volumes.

Meditation and mindfulness is a pathway back home. Through the forest, through the gates, through the barriers we build. It’s possible to be free of that weight and those burdens. We can find our way back to love.

And I’m afraid you will hear that again and again until someone listens.

Peace, y’all.