Posts Categorized: Confusion to Clarity

The Space Inside Stuckness

Sometimes I find myself slipping into an old robotic pattern, a certain contracted stuckness. This trance-like state of being shows up in different ways: reading late into the night and awakening tired, heading to the snack cupboard instead of going on a walk. Leaving a little late for an appointment and then rushing to get there, forgetting my goal of staying present in my life. As if this added drama gives me a life of purpose. I slip into a way of moving through my life as if I’m wearing blinders. There’s very little space for different choices. After all, that would upset the robot with blinders.


I just arrived home from a trip Over the River and Through the Woods to a mountain cabin. The way there was a bit treacherous, but once there the scene was a holiday card in 3D. Heaps of soft snow and stillness. Fine powder drifting aimlessly through the starry night sky. A wood stove to feed and long nights of dreaming.

A much-needed respite from my usual busy life (and mind to match).

On the way back we came face to face with a snow plow and needed to move over perilously close to a ditch. Our wheels began to spin as we struggled to get traction once again.

The very thing that had cleared our way nudged us into a little stuck place.

Tolerating Peace

I’m learning to tolerate peace. I’m shocked as I see myself writing that, which takes me right out of peace. You see, my identity is so wrapped up in being a Peacemaker that it’s a Giant Step to admit that peace very often in my inner life has often been missing.

I’ve been a Peacenik my entire adult life. My credentials are impeccable. I became an anti-war activist when I discovered the realities of the Vietnam war. I organized an anti-nuke installation using little tree-farming cones to demonstrate insane levels of nuclear warheads in the early 80’s.

My Life as a Sea Anemone

Sea anemones are among my favorite sea creatures. Fortunately Disney’s crew didn’t make them into a character in Little Mermaid. It would be a grave injustice, They don’t like the press.

They’re lovely just as they are, in their shy beauty. Colorful, vibrant. Content to stay in one place and ingest new nutrients. They stay perched and open and lovely until their space is invaded, and then a quick poke sends them into contraction and protection.

When the Outside Messes with the Inside

I was just so proud of myself a month or two ago. I was fairly convinced that I’d figured out the major puzzles of my life. Or at least one major puzzle, the tendency to put stuff in my mouth when I wasn’t hungry.
I honestly believed that attending Geneen Roth’s residential retreat and living the Women Food & God Way had brought such a bolt of enlightenment that I would never eat compulsively again.
That was before I started moving everything out of half of my house for a long-anticipated remodel. Before I began traveling and celebrating the freedom of summer. Before I started working on a book project, or at least before I experienced my favorite procrastination technique.

Making the Darkness Conscious

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”  Carl Jung

Since I’ve returned to the Northern Hemisphere, the cold nights have drawn my imagination.   I’ve been sleeping, dreaming, and journaling up a regular winter storm.

As I sit in the early evening darkness, there are plenty of figures of light that come to mind, especially vivid having just completed a brightening , enlightening journey. One image keeps coming to mind in the darkness and richness of my unconscious, image-laden mind.

I notice an urge to drape myself in black and white. One of the first visual cues that one is in Bali and not tropical color of the gardens or green of the rice fields.   It’s black and white.  Whether you’re a sculpture of a god or demon, a temple pillar, a director of traffic, or the corners of intersections, it’s likely that this will be your costume:  poleng fabric of large black and white checks, and, in hand woven, versions, blocks of grey where the two come together.

This serves as a constant reminder to the Balinese about the importance of balance between the forces of light and those of darkness, which are seen as opposing forces.   While I was there, I was told more than once that “there’s good in both. Same same.”  White (good) contains evil (black), and vice-versa.  Much of Balinese ceremony and ritual is devoted to keeping the two opposing but complimentary forces in balance.

And so I sit with figures of light and dark, black and white, embracing the darkness and honoring its teaching as I await the return of the light.

A special “heads up” for blog readers.  There’s a strong chance I’ll be working with the Balinese Institute for Global to offer a small group experience in Bali during the week of March 10-16th, during the Balinese lunar new year. This would focus on balance between the outer and inner worlds,  and would culminate with Nyepi, a national “day of silence,” the traditional new year’s beginning. Stay tuned for further announcements.

From Full Sun to Full Moon

This last month I disappeared from life as I typically know it to celebrate a big anniversary with my husband across the planet and South a little.  We just returned from Bali, Indonesia, a couple of days ago, and I’m still waiting for all my brain cells to arrive.

I spent Thanksgiving feasting on babek (Balinese duck, which takes 24 hours to prepare) and American-style turkey with Balinese and American friends.  I missed Black Friday, but Saturday was pretty blacked out on planes airports.  This year holiday mania hasn’t seized me yet, and I hope to keep it that way.

I’ll be sharing more about my ongoing involvements in Bali in the coming days, but now I feel compelled to notice this dramatic transition.  From full sun and saturating warmth to full moon and winter chill.

There’s beauty in both. As much as I love summer, the dramatic change from fall to winter nurtures my inner oasis and the longing of my introvert to be finally heard. So moving from vivid color and full sun to the nuanced shadows of full moon reflects perfectly my soul’s longing.

As much as I savored the magic of Bali (and I do mean magic.), it feels right to return to this deepening season of moving within.  More than right.  As the days shorten and the nights lengthen, there is such deep peace in finding the whisperings of inner direction during this season of preparation and longing.

How about you?  What is your longing?  What are your hopes?  This is the season to go deep and discover what you find. Let it incubate or share it with others, right here or elsewhere in your world.

Is it true?

This is the 24 carat question. It’s truly astounding to me how often I don’t stop to ask it, even after more than five years of inquiry where this is the first question (The Work of Byron Katie).  The more mindful of my choices I become, the more assumptions I notice I have about the world.  This is the source of all my personal restriction.

Sometimes it’s hard to catch the belief (see my blog on Thought Catching).  Often this comes after I notice a habitual pattern of acting that keeps me stuck.  I notice I frequently don’t allow enough time to get places, to be restfully present when I arrive. I notice the stress that comes into my life. 

Oh my gosh.  I’ve been believing two things my whole life: that I have to rush.  That I don’t have enough time. Is it true? that I don’t have enough time?  That I have to rush? Be honest with yourself.  No. But by the way I act you’d never know it.

There are other profound and powerful questions in this process.  But sometimes asking just this one takes me right out of a old, robotic way of living and brings me to the present moment, where I can create something different.

Try it out for yourself.  Ask this one question and notice what other wisdom emerges.

As for me, I’m going to take my time packing for my morning exercise routine right now, testing out whether it’s indeed true that I needed to rush.

Juicy Question Collection Project

A couple of weeks ago I started a personal inquiry process to begin “living the questions,”  I began with the question Who am I right now? Since then I’ve brought the question out of my pocket at least a dozen times.  I mean that literally.  I wrote it on a little sticky and carried it in my pocket.  It continues to bring me back to the present, to a deeper sense of authenticity as I live it. I noticed I want to share the process with others, so I’m calling it the Juicy Question Collection Project and inviting everyone to chime in. I’ll keep posting my question and yours and we’ll see what we learn together.

Juicy Question Two: What am I believing right now? To get the best traction, I’m going to a place where I feel stuck.  I have a couple (or more) areas I can find more than a little stuckness, but the one that shows up as a guide multiple times a day is mindless eating.  What am I believing when I reach out to food to reduce the feeling of stress? As I work with myself, just as I do with clients, I notice that finding these beliefs takes practice, but then it’s easier. I have a top ten list of beliefs that cause me to leave the moment and reach out for “comfort.” Here’s number one: There’s not enough (time, not enough of me, you name it). Read More>>

Reminders to Self While Viewing Pearls

I love the time after any trip, when I return home to (borrowing from TS Eliot) “see the world with new eyes.”  Now that I’m out of the forest and into the routines I call my life, I see my loved ones, my garden, my friends with such gratitude.  I love savoring this time, slowing mind down, checking it out to see what’s different.  I have a habit of making notes and lists in my journal, a kind of trail marker the next time I get a little lost (or my eyes get “ old” again).

Here’s what I notice after this trip. Even though the stress of some of those around me has escalated, my mind has remained calmer. Last week a participant at the retreat referred to Deep Soul Diving..  So this time my list looks like a string of pearls, distilled loveliness  that serve as a reminder to myself about my latest the journey into my  inner world.

Slowing down the mind allows it to open, revealing its treasures. When mind gets questioned and  is allowed the time to answer, this closed oyster opens enough for the pearls to be seen. Now that I’m home, when I remember to go slow the hummingbird, the summer breeze, the spider in the corner , take me directly to my heart.  I can return to a sense of spaciousness any time I notice, and when my mind is too cloudy to see how, I can ask some questions and wait to be surprised.

No new thoughts. As they say in Bali, “same, same.” Every time I work with someone inquiring into their thoughts, I discover my own. So the one in front of me gives me what I need to find myself.  We seem to be recycling the same thoughts:  my body isn’t right, my kids would save themselves grief if they’d listen to me, talk show radio hosts are Satan in drag.  It’s all in me too. Same, same.

Time Can Expand. Riddle: When is two and a half days not two and a half days?  When I slow down to go fast! I notice a spaciousness to time even now that I’m home from the dive.  Note to self:  now is a good time to stare at the ocean, sit with the dog, slow time down.  Even for a few minutes.  Now.

Gratefulness for the miracle of the human heart opening. When I get real with myself and the folks around me, the world changes.  I develop a deep appreciation for sound of the heart opening.  Each time I experience this within myself or with another, I am blessed.

This summer, give yourself a little time after a vacation or trip to see your life anew. Bring out your souvenirs. Make some lists.

How is your world different, even a little, than it was before?

• What moments would you like to keep in your memory?  The toddler with ice cream on his face?  The kindness of a stranger in the airport?

• As you look back at your experience, what would you change?  This is a good place to star to questioning  the mind.  I shouldn’t have eaten so much potato salad. Is that true?  Find out.  Question the thought that  whatever happened wasn’t for your learning.

•What pearls of wisdom do you bring back? What did you learn about yourself?  Others?

• What advice do you have for yourself about future trips?  I find this a great way to remember what ways I was kind and unkind to myself so that I can plan future trips with more kindness.

• I love putting a physical thing I bring back or that reminds me of my experience on an altar or someplace that I’ll see it when I wake up in the morning.  Each time I see it, I’m reminded of the new pearl on my strand.

Enjoy your pearls with new eyes.  Summer is young.