Shattering Illusions of our Past

jilbert-ebrahimi-33575What happens when we can calm our chattering minds?

We begin to see more clearly, shattering illusions of our past.

For example, I recently had quite an awakening regarding my favorite childhood band The Spice Girls.

It was a Saturday evening, and my husband and I had spent most of the day practicing. But before we started practicing we watched an episode of America’s Got Talent (balance, people), where one of my former Spice Girls, Mel B. a.k.a. Scary Spice, is a judge. A magician on the show did a trick where he asked Mel B. to think of one word that described her.

As her back was facing the crowd, he then proceeded to have the audience hold up letters that spelled out, “GODDESS.” When he asked her what that word was, she stated, “Well, I really feel every woman is this…but the word I thought of to describe myself was Goddess.”

Hold on to that thought…

After our practice, I told my husband that during our practice I felt really grounded, creative, and powerful. Like I felt like my feet were curly vines weaving into the earth. He goes, “Like a Goddess?”

YES, A GODDESS!

The story continues…

Later that night an insight came to me…an insight that came from my clear mind.

When I was in middle school, my best friends and I would pretend to be the Spice Girls. Like pretty legitly, as in I would watch their music videos and teach my friends the choreography. And we’d dress up and perform for our parents and even at our middle school talent show.

Which Spice Girl was I?

POSH.

Of course, I was Posh.  I was putting on a facade. Fast forward 10 years and I was still acting like a wannabe (ha!) Posh. I straightened my beautiful curly hair, tanned my skin, and even got plastic surgery and botox.

But here I was in the present, feeling like a Goddess, naturally curly hair and all.

OMG. ALL ALONG I WAS REALLY SCARY SPICE…but society puts more of a Posh Spice image in the world. Hello, Barbie. Omg, I had a zillion Barbies. No wonder I wanted boobs like her.

Here’s the thing, people.

A lot of the stress in our lives today is a result of our past conditioning and our attachments to that image and the shit we let run around in our heads.

You’ve noticed your mind racing, right? It brings up some crazy shit sometimes!

With a calm mind, we can begin to see our destructive thoughts and LET THEM GO.

We use our mind as a tool to see our habitual patterns and attachments (especially to our reactions), and we literally create new neural pathways in our brain.

How?

We stop allowing our minds to run wild, creating unnecessary stress and suffering in our lives.

In essence, we become the master, not the slave.

Once we become more sensitive to the effects of a calm mind, we increasingly want to do what makes us feel better.

But it’s hard to get started with a mind going in 29038102 different directions. I often hear people say that can’t meditate because their minds are so busy.

Saying that is just like saying you can’t lift weights because you’re not strong. HELLO, that’s why you lift weights.

So, we practice deconditioning our minds one. breath. at. a. time.

We listen.

And live our lives with intention.

P.S. Another crazy thing that happened recently that aligns directly with my Spice Girls experience? In the last month, 2 glasses have broke in our house. I am the type that thinks that anytime we see repeated symbols, there is a message we can investigate.

So, off to Google I went. And I found something really interesting.

“Broken glass reminds me of a broken mirror, shattering our past reflections. Is there something coming up in your life that is putting you on the course to a New Beginning? It can also come up with our identity. Such as shattering our past identity of who we were- Breaking barriers between worlds could mean you’re starting to see and use your subconscious more, your higher self is urging you to see into “the cracks” as the old world dissolves and then new starts building in your life. I also like to see it as when you see symbols such as holes, cracks, or shattering glass you’re symbolically putting that connection into “seeing beyond this material reality” like seeing into the holes of spacetime or into the fabrics of reality. Breaking the illusions ”

Shattering the illusion…shattering our past identity of who we were…yes, yes, and YES!

 

 

Embracing Transformation.

FullSizeRenderIt’s challenging for me to embrace transformation at times because it involves clear recognition of my thoughts, words, and actions.

And sometimes that recognition is painful because hindsight usually teaches me a thing or two.

Saying I’m sorry and facing my darkness is a vulnerable place to be. But it brings me to light.

It helps me understand all of the layers that have I have been living under.

As I peel them off, I awaken my heart.

When I am grounded and connected with who I Am, my thoughts, words, and actions are rooted in love and kindness. I step into the world with grace, strength, and ease.

But goodness gracious, this world sure does give me plenty of times to practice.

I guess it’s up to me to decide when I’m going to practice.

“We are all each being called to participate in creating a healthier and happier world. Through actions that can be quite simple. Perhaps the best service that we can do is to simply be kind. Is to lead more compassionate and mindful lives. It’s to raise families that are willing to see beyond their own needs and desires and wants. Perhaps the best service that we can do is to commit to our own personal healing and growth so that we can let go of the limited beliefs and narratives that keep us feeling small and disconnected. For when we love ourselves, when we honor our own individual journey’s as they are, we cannot help but to cultivate the necessary empathy that allows us to honor and respect others as they move into their own journey of awakening. There is much suffering in this world, and that suffering is motivated by separation and division. Let’s not be a part of that separation and instead let’s do everything that we can in our power to heal, and to serve, and to share our spirits. And to participate in a way that can only unify this world into peace.” ~ Seane Corn

 

 

 

Who is the Programmer?

markus-spiske-221494

So my dentist told me I grind my teeth in my sleep. Something my husband has told me, yet I dismissed his observation.

Isn’t that funny how we can “hear” something from one person yet totally ignore it? Then someone else comes along and tells us the same thing and we finally hear them.

My dentist tells me I need to relax. HA!

Here I am, a practicing yogi and yet I grind my teeth.

News flash, Holly. Having a personal practice of self-reflection and self-realization does not mean that I don’t have my own shortcomings.

It’s so damn hard for my perfectionist leaning personality to…

Not strive for perfection.

Not beat myself up for my mistakes.

Not overanalyze a situation.

But this constant ego-driven thinking is what is causing me to grind my teeth.

After my visit to the dentist, a new awareness arose–pay attention to my mind and body as I fall asleep.

First observation: Damn, I do clench my jaw a lot.

Second observation: I replay interactions with people.

Third observation: Damn, there’s my jaw again.

I even began to notice myself clenching my jaw throughout the day. Holy F*$k!

So I took a step back and asked myself, “What happens before I clench my jaw?”

I ruminate.

There’s reflection mixed in, which is likely the gatekeeper to my rumination.

But as I dug deeper, I realized I ruminate over situations—especially work situations.

Fast-forwarding, rewinding, pausing, you name it, my mind goes there.

Until I place awareness there.

On a scientific level, besides being a cause of my teeth grinding, this ruminating is causing me to age quicker.

No, really.

I randomly, or some may say coincidently, came across an article titled, “Could your thoughts make you age faster” by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel on Ideas.Ted.Com.

The article examines what factors affect the aging process and discusses the question of, “How can one person bask in the sunshine of good health, while another person looks old before her time?”.

And guess what. The shit that runs through our head can impact the aging process—for better or for worse.

“One of the keys to enjoying good health is simply doing your part to foster healthy cell renewal.”

It has been scientifically proven that we can lengthen our telomeres, which are “repeating segments of noncoding DNA that live at the ends of the chromosomes. They form caps at the ends of the chromosomes and keep the genetic material from unraveling. Shortening with each cell division, they help determine how fast a cell ages.”

Think of telomeres like the plastic tips on shoelaces. They keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other. This fraying and stickiness is what destroys and scrambles our genetic information.

Longer telomeres = Longevity.

As I was reading through the article, I found examples of people in my life who fell to the pull of the described mental patterns.

And then…I found my example.

Rumination.

It’s a slippery slope from actual reflection to rumination.

Reflection is the introspective analysis about why things happen a certain way. It helps us see ourselves and the world more clearly.

Rumination is compulsively replaying and focusing on shit, basically. Focusing on shit and never discovering how to deal with the shit.

“When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over, in the form of prolonged high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and higher levels of cortisol. Your vagus nerve, which helps you feel calm and keeps your heart and digestive system steady, withdraws its activity — and remains withdrawn long after the stressor is over.”

Negative thoughts seem to storm into my mind space without even knocking! They’re usually exaggerated and very controlling.

My mind is programmed.

Who is the programmer?

Well, that’s a tricky question. Who have I unconsciously allowed to be the programmer for most of my life?

A few of them include society, my parents, and the media.

But, what about me?

I am.

God is within me, therefore, I am the creator.

And each time I intentionally decide to act with love, I am reprogramming my mind. I am creating new neural pathways.

So I practice awareness, observing my thoughts without attaching myself to them.

I say to myself, “That’s just a thought. It’s not me.”

I don’t need to believe everything my thoughts tell me.

I reach into my kind mind and ask myself, “What would love do?”.

Surrending to the Sun.

jake-givens-576

When I come face to face with big obstacles in my life, it becomes incredibly challenging to commit to face them.

Do I avoid myself?

Yea, my mind is pretty well-versed in avoidance.

I’ve become a champion at being insane. Doing the same things over and over again and expecting the same results.

If my intention is to evolve and grow, I must accept that change is inevitable.

So, I surrender.

I surrender by observing my thoughts, words, and actions and re-align them with my highest Self.

I’m referring to our kind mind, of course.

It’s our desires and attachments that keep us from surrendering to our kind mind.

Instead of living from a place of aversion and separation, we shift to an intention of surrender.

We realize our radiance and shine like the sun.

On this summer solstice, I bow to the sun…

  1. Who is friendly to all.
  2. The shining one, the radiant one.
  3. Who is the dispeller of darkness and responsible for bringing activity.
  4. The one who brightly illumines the earth and is the eternal source of warmth.
  5. Who is shining and the eternal source of vitality.
  6. The giver of nourishment and strength.
  7. Who has golden color brilliance—the eternal energy from which everything else emanates.
  8. The giver of light and source of vibration with an infinite number of rays.
  9. The universal, all-embracing Nature or Being, arising from the cosmic Divine Mother.
  10. The one who is responsible for life, the creator.
  11. Who is worthy of praise and glory, as the very essence of vitality.
  12. The giver of wisdom, shining light on the external and internal world to awake us from the inside, bringing inner strength and confidence.

 

 

 

 

Who Do You Want to Be?

 

whoareyou

You are the CREATOR.

 

I recently dived into the book, Conversations with God, by Neale Donald Walsch. It’s blowing my mind. The first “ah-ha” moment for me was when I read,

“You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek, therefore, not to find out Who You Are, seek to determine Who You Want to Be.”- Conversations with God

Woah.

Hold the phone.

Ok.

I feel as if I’m Neale Donald Walsch and I’m really talking with God.

Oh, wait. I am.

(Apparently, my grammar checker doesn’t believe me because it just tried to correct, “talking with God”, to “talking about God.”)

I picked this book up for a reason. My husband read it years ago and it’s been sitting on our bookshelf this entire time. Our wedding vows are even from this book. So, why now?

God is telling me because I’m ready to be who I AM.

Who am I?

Well, that’s up to me.

What do I choose—fear or love?

Fear tells me the 10k race I’m running Saturday is going to crush me.

Love tells me I AM STRONG.

In the Conversations with God dialogue, in which Walsch asks questions and God answers, God speaks about the soul’s language.

Thoughts.

Words.

Actions.

They’re either rooted in fear or love.

Fear contracts and closes us down. It hides, hoards, and harms.

Love expands and opens us up. It reveals, shares, and heals.

And guess what? We have all of the power to choose.

But it’s not that easy, you see. I spoke a little about this difficulty in a previous post. It’s not that easy because it’s not what we are used to. We do not know Who We Are and because of that, we think we’re much less than we really are.

“Yet if you knew Who You Arethat you are the most magnificent, the most remarkable, the most splendid being God has ever createdyou would never fear. For who could reject such wondrous magnificence?” – Conversations with God

This week I’ve been practicing acknowledging when a thought is based in fear and using it as a tool to remind myself of my magnificence.

Because I AM.

 

Your Mind as a Science Experiment.

science.jpg

There are four traditional paths of yoga: Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga. And you can find a bazillion different styles of yoga ranging from hatha yoga to aerial yoga to restorative yoga all the way to I-created-this-so-I-can-name-it-what-I-want type of yoga.

But, what is Yoga? Really? Well, that’s a loaded question.  Depends on who you ask.

My understanding is that Yoga is the pursuit of Self-realization. Resting in your true nature and realizing this center of consciousness, is the meaning of Yoga.

Today, my path is Raja Yoga.  Often called “royal yoga” it is a comprehensive scientific method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy.

Thus, the main practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. The practice begins by gradually moving your attention inward where eventually you come to rest in your true nature.

Growing up most of us likely focused a lot of our attention externally. This is a reason why it is challenging for us to focus internally. Just like if you grew up eating hamburger helper and taco bell, it’s likely not going to be easy to start to eating fruits and vegetables.

To stop the mind that is so used to focusing on things outside of itself and to concentrate all its powers on itself in order that it may know its own nature, and analyze itself…that’s hard work!

But knowledge is based on experience. Sure, there’s inferential knowledge. Reading a book can teach you plenty. But if you just read a book on how to cook, it doesn’t mean you actually know how to cook. Likewise, reading a spiritual book isn’t going to all of a sudden make you one with God.

Jesus…Buddha…they felt God. They saw their own souls. Their future. Their eternity. These truths they preached— were the result of their experiences.

 

“Uniformity is the rigorous law of nature; what once happened can happen always.” – Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga

We too can have these experiences. We just need to get out of our own heads. My path to this is freedom is Raja Yoga.

Find the Self. The Soul. Beyond…The light is there.

How do we do that?

What will be the means of observation?

In order to be a scientific process, we must observe and analyze.

A chemist follows a certain method. Go into the laboratory, mix some substances, compound them, experiment with them, and then out of that will come a knowledge of chemistry.

“The knowledge of the mind, of the internal nature of man, of thought, can never be had until we have first the power of observing the facts that are going on within.” – Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga

The science of Raja Yoga is the way to observe the internal states — the mind is the instrument.

“The power of attention, when properly guided, and directed towards the internal world, will analyze the mind, and illumine facts for us. The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated; when they are concentrated, they illumine.” – Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga

 

So, why? What happens when we turn our attention inwards? The short answer is — happiness.

When we come face to face with our own mind, we see the truth. I’m talking about our true nature — love. This love cannot be destroyed. It’s pure. It’s perfect as it is.

When you find this…there will be no more misery. Because where does misery come from? Fear. It comes from fear and unsatisfied desire. It is here we see and feel the truth. We realize that this pureness, this loving-kindness…it does not die.

When we see our true nature, and really begin the process of loving ourselves…our vain desires begin to dissolve. This is bliss they say.

It is a process of deconditioning the mind, as my teacher Victor calls it. We decondition the mind through concentration.

I mean, think about it. Our minds. The conditioning it has had over the years. Especially since the invention of smartphones and social media. We are addicts. We are addicts of distraction. So many things in this world pull us away from our true Self. When we’re born, we are given a blue blanket if we’re a boy and a pink blanket if we are a girl. And so it begins…

Who we are and what we think is shaped mainly by the external world. It’s easy to concentrate the mind on external things as the mind naturally goes outwards. It’s so easy to believe someone’s word versus having our own experience and building our beliefs based on what we know is true.

How much of what you know is a result of what you’re told versus what you’ve experienced?

 

 

 

Deflecting from the Paradigm.

makeamericaloveagainIt seems much easier to say “yes” to holding on to anger and judgment versus observing our thoughts and feelings (where we’ll find understanding and love). Or how about how it’s much easier it is to choose pizza over a salad. Each time we make these decisions, it strengthens those neuropathways in our brain.

Why do we find ourselves choosing fear over love?

Probably because it’s the easy route. Our society has been strengthening and conditioning our egos with fear.

Fear keeps us from our kind mind. It keeps us from love.

How did we get here?

The external world caters to the ego. Our materialistic society has built a hamster wheel of consumerism that lures so many of us to keep up with the Kardashians.

I went to the mall recently to use some Christmas gift cards (just a tad overdue) and I almost couldn’t handle it. Everything was screaming at me. The colors, the videos, the crap! So much crap. What the hell. Who buys this shit?

The ego.

The ego mind goes something like this: Hey, you aren’t happy? That’s right, you are not enough. You need to buy this. Look at these ads. Those people are happy. MORE MORE MORE! Look at these Victoria’s Secret models. That could be you! And yea, your living room needs to look like a Crate and Barrel ad. Fill those shelves with little knick-knacks! Of course, you need another bird statue.

And when that buzz wears off, don’t worry we have MORE. You definitely need to slather these fake smelling chemicals on your body to be sexy. And you need, like, 51 different scents. Just in case. One day you may feel more like Sensual Amber and another day you’re more like Hello Beautiful. Seriously, Bath & Body Works? (They are certainly not the only company pouncing on our insecurities with silly fake fragrance names).

Eckhart Tolle discusses this phenomenon in his book, A New Earth:

“Paradoxically, what keeps the so-called consumer society going is the fact that trying to find yourself through things doesn’t work: The ego satisfaction is short-lived and so you keep looking for more, keep buying, keep consuming.

Of course, in this physical dimension that our surface selves inhabit, things are a necessary and inescapable part of our lives. We need housing, clothes, furniture, tools, transportation. There may also be things in our lives that we value because of their beauty or inherent quality. We need to honor the world of things, not despise it. Each thing has Beingness, is a temporary form that has its origin within the formless one Life, the source of all things, all bodies, all forms. In most ancient cultures, people believed that everything, even so-called inanimate objects, had an indwelling spirit, and in this respect they were closer to the truth than we are today. When you live in a world deadened by mental abstraction, you don’t sense the aliveness of the universe anymore. Most people don’t inhabit a living reality, but a conceptualized one.

But we cannot really honor things if we use them as a means to self-enhancement, that is to say, if we try to find ourselves through them. This is exactly what the ego does. Ego-identification with things creates attachment to things, obsession with things, which in turn creates our consumer society and economic structures where the only measure of progress is always more. The unchecked striving for more, for endless growth, is a dysfunction and a disease. It is the same dysfunction the cancerous cell manifests, whose only goal is to multiply itself, unaware that it is bringing about its own destruction by destroying the organism of which it is a part.”

Our suffering is caused by this desire. This disease.

How do we find the opposite of disease — ease?

Instead of being infected by the external world, we defect. And that begins with deconditioning our minds, shifting our awareness.

Duncan Trussel recently discussed this on his podcast. The fact that beneath all of the negativity in the news and what seems to be “real,” there are people who believe in making and living in a better world (cue The Age of Aquarius <some goooood stuff on this page).

These individuals have, according to Duncan, “Defected from the paradigm. They’ve defected from the reality tunnel that these corporatist lunatics are trying to suck us all into. There’s a lot of defectors out there right now friends. They are defecting from a world of pain…suffering…greed…and pessimism and cynicism. And that’s called being healed, really. Being healed. You’ve defected. That’s what it is. You’ve defected from the infection of fear.”

#micdrop