Let the Light Flow Through You…Just Like a Child

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…”–Jesus in Matthew 18. This doesn’t mean be converted to Christianity, but converted from the ways of the world. Remembering the ways of Spirit, which are within each one of us and all around us.

“Neither shall they say,’See here!’ or, ‘see there!’ for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you..”–Jesus in Luke 17. Some translations say the Kingdom of God is in your midst, which is true as well. It’s not something we have to wait for or search for outside of ourselves, but instead we open ourselves to remember and see our connection to it, within and amongst ourselves. When you recognize the same God within your own heart is also flowing through the heart of everyone and everything (even if they don’t remember), the way you interact changes naturally. All people, all things become honored.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”–Paul in Romans 12. Once we begin to remember and see that God (or whatever name you choose to call the larger energy of the Cosmos) is within us and all things, we know our connection to each other and to everything. You can feel it and that changes how you relate to everything. To me, this teaching speaks to opening your heart and mind to the larger energy (or God) and allowing that to guide you in a constant state of renewal.

Really, we are both what we love and what loves us. We interactively weave the world around us, along with the larger energy that many call God. We get what we give and what we allow ourselves to be open to. We see what we can be open to seeing. And the larger energy of the Cosmos, the river of life, will flow through us to the extent that our hearts and minds can allow.

Little Children are Great Teachers

girl doveWhat does it mean to become like little children? Jesus taught that we should do this, but what does it mean? They really are great teachers. I think Jesus was on to something.

When I look at very young children, I see people who live in the present moment. They know how they feel and they don’t make any judgments that they ought to be feeling something different, they simply feel. They also don’t get stuck on the way they feel, simply feeling their feelings and then releasing them and then moving on to the next experience. They seldom hold a grudge for long. And they don’t live in regret.

They love. Completely, purely. They don’t withhold love based on whether some condition or another is met, their hearts are simply wide open to everything and everyone.

Children live in a state of wonder. Every new thing and even things they have encountered before are met with pure appreciation and joy. Their eyes, hearts and minds soak in every experience knowing that each detail is a marvelous thing to behold. They are full of gratitude for the smallest of things. All things are miracles to a child.

They are fascinated with the world. They are endlessly curious. They are ravenous to ask questions and inquire deeply about how things work, how they work, how other people and the world works. This curiosity is an innocent wondering, not driven by dark dissatisfaction as it often is in adults, but instead by the love of shining the beacon of consciousness on all that they can.

A child is not afraid of magic. They recognize that magic is all around us and in us. They see the magic that we literally swim in and they have found no reason to be afraid of that. They still understand that it is a part of us.

Children know to make beautiful use of every moment, living it fully. They play, they laugh, they sing, they dance, they cry. They do everything with great abandon. Nothing gets held back in the life of a little child.

Children know to rest. As much as a young child fully gives herself to her waking moments, she also fully drops into sleep when her body needs that. Children sleep the sleep of those with no worries. Watch them sleep and you will see peace.

Children ask for what they want and need. They have no qualms about this. There is no guilt. They don’t feel afraid for being who they are. They are not ashamed. They may not always be given want they ask for, but they are not afraid to ask.

Children are infinitely wise. They may be naive to the harsh ways and customs we have created for ourselves in our world, but they are wise in spirit. We can learn a great deal from these tiny teachers, if we are not in too big a hurry to teach the wisdom out of them.

Surrender: Non-Attachment & Peace

peaceWe all want things to go the way we believe they should go.

We want things the way we want them. While we may sometimes allow some room for discussion and potential compromise, ultimately, we tend to think we know how things should turn out. We seek that end goal and lose sight of appreciating the process it takes to get where we really need to be.

What we all need and want on a deep level is safety, comfort and peace. When things get difficult, as they inevitably do in life, we want to feel better. Now.

We can talk about releasing the need to have immediate relief all we want to, but when we are the ones hurting, afraid or angry, it gets very difficult to keep peace in our hearts and surrender to the next moment.

The paradox is that it is that very act of letting go of our need to control the situation that brings us peace and comfort and often leads to our safety.

When I was a young child, I played in the woods of Arkansas every day. I ran through these woods, jumping over fallen trees and skipping through creeks. I was not afraid of anything, despite my mother’s constant warning that I should be afraid of rattlesnakes.

Instead, I learned respect for all the creatures of the woods, including the rattlesnakes. I came across rattlesnakes occasionally, but I never let myself give over to my fear. I knew that fear of the snakes would make it more likely that I would react in haste and therefore be bitten. Instead, I always stood quietly in my place, looking peacefully at the snake. I sent calming thoughts to the creature and backed away slowly.

If I had reacted with fear of being bitten, energetically, I would have sent that signal out to the snake. When we know another is reacting out of fear, we tend to be fearful of them and prepare to protect ourselves.

The thing is, if both parties are doing that defensive dance, it leads to hostility. Someone gets hurt. Someone has to be willing to let go of their fear and detach from trying to control the outcome. It makes it less likely that anyone gets bitten.

Applying this to a real world practice we all experience, we can use the example of showering. No one wants the water or soap in their eyes. It burns like hell. But, have you ever noticed that when you squeeze your eyes tightly closed you actually force the water and soap into your eyes? The best way to prevent getting soap in your eyes seems to be to relax.

Of course we don’t leave our eyes open and just let the soap run in, but when we gently close our eyes (no squeezing!) the soap runs harmlessly right over our eyelids.

Yoga practice gives us another daily life exposure to non-attachment. When we are trying to force our way into a pose, we make it that much more likely that we won’t be able to do it. Or, we hurt ourselves and feel frustrated at our efforts.

When we practice surrender, we are able to remember that it’s the practice that is important, not the ability to achieve a specific pose.

We are able to keep softness in our muscles and pay attention to our breath. The paradox is, when we do this, we often achieve our poses with more ease and less pain. We go to the edge of discomfort, but we don’t force through to pain.

It is much more difficult to practice taking this attitude of surrender into our relationships, our work and our finances. These are the things we fear will cause us the most harm, so we struggle against them the hardest.

But, this fear and struggle is what creates and perpetuates the many issues we all face in our day to day lives and we are all waiting for the other guy to lay down their weapons first.

We want to make sure that we are the ones with our mental guns always aimed and ready. We are expecting pain and clenching on that fear. No wonder we keep seeing and experiencing drama. We haven’t completely let go of it, ourselves.

Of course, our own way dealing with the world becomes the way that our family and society deals with the world. We are reflection of each other. There is no they, only us. Each of us is a part of the greater “they.”

We are like cells in a body—tiny parts that make up the entirety. Each cell responds in unity with each other in order to ensure their own survival and the survival of the greater whole. When cells fight each other for their own survival, at the expense of the whole, we call it disease.

If it goes on indefinitely, everything dies, including troublesome cells.

None of us knows the ultimate good of even our own lives, let alone the lives of the entire world. It seems the smart thing to do might be to admit this and relax in the knowledge that we don’t have to control the outcome of everything.

We only have to be responsible for our own inner harmony.

The result is not our business.

But, when we breathe and soften, we are more likely to get where we all want to be.

Originally published at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/09/surrender-non-attachment-and-peace-angie-webster/

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–A Teacher I Resisted

chronic-fatigue-basics-1Life has taught me that struggles are often presented to us with valuable lessons, like jewels to be mined. We have to briefly let of the fight to escape the difficulty and pain of the struggle, stop looking for a way out, and look for the lessons or we may never see them.

I have never wanted to accept that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. When it was first mentioned by a doctor in the late 80’s , I thought he was mistaken and was a quack. I didn’t think it was real. I knew something very real was going on with me. I didn’t know anyone who believed CFS was real back then. I had had enough of being thought of as a faker, a hypochondriac. I felt I needed justification for the intense level of rest and sleep I needed, for the days I could not leave the bed, for the constant sore throats and body aches, the brain fog and states of confusion. I needed to be believed.

I would rest and sleep for days on end, often recovering just enough strength to fulfill a longing to re-enter life again. I wanted to be outside! I wanted to be with friends! To be active! But I would run myself into exhaustion in a short period and be flat on my back again feeling like I was coming down with the flu, needing to sleep constantly for days. This cycle led to depression pretty fast. Feeling like no one believed me made that worse.

The way doctors diagnose CFS and fibromyalgia is to spend years ruling out every other possible cause for your illness, aches and exhaustion. Finding nothing conclusive, they settle on CFS and/or fibromyalgia. I have both. There is really nothing to be done for CFS, as far a modern medicine is concerned, except to pace yourself and rest. This combined with the fact that most of the medical community and the general public didn’t even accept CFS as a true illness when I was diagnosed made it a disheartening thing to hear. I did not accept it.

But it’s true. I got Epstein-Barr, or mononucleosis when I was 14 and my health has not been the same since. It was like something switched in my system at that point. Like my system and that virus really didn’t get along well at all! Epstein-Barr is highly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, though no one knows why, and it’s not in all cases. In my case, the virus has become active again a few other times in my life, which rarely happens.

I am now trying to see the things I can learn from CFS. I can learn to release shame and guilt. The shame I feel attached to others not accepting me for who I am and what I can do as well as what I can’t. The guilt of having to say no when I can’t do plan to do something or go somewhere because I know it’s just not best for me. The shame I feel for not being able to just “get over it”.

I can learn to slow down. If I want to stand a chance of feeling the best I can from one day to the next, I have to go at a mellow pace. I have to do one thing at a time. No multi-tasking. Mindfulness is key when being able to clear brain fog and concentrate at all is difficult. Rushing only exhausts further and eliminates any hope of fun or productivity.

I can keep learning the many things I can do to take control of my own health, in addition to going at a pace that feels right for me. Food allergies and sensitivities are a very real issue for me, and I can honor that and unapologetically eat in the way that suits my body best. I can work some gentle movement and stretching into my day, because I know I feel better and have less pain when I do that. I can sleep 9 hours a night, on a regular schedule, because I know that means less exhaustion and fewer days sick.

I can limit my time in loud and busy places, because they sap my energy. I can say “yes” when I mean yes and “no” when I mean no. I can remember that I am the only one living in my body, and I know what is right for it better than anyone else. I can still love my body and my life, even on the days I still feel lousy.

I can release the need to live up to others standards. Really hard one. I hate disappointing people. Maybe the key is to release my own inner demon that says I am being judged all the time. I can be my own worst enemy in that regard.

Generally I can learn to accept that I can’t control everything or solve everything. This may be one thing I just have to ride. Not control or find a solution for. Some things are like that. That doesn’t mean they are broken. They just are. Feels better just to write that.