assimilation

Picking Up The....Stick

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It is not uncommon to express with great drama the age-old cliché “I got handed the shit end of the stick” after life has dished up a circumstance of calamity that one would not necessarily have chosen if given the chance. But in reality, picking up one end of the stick, also inevitably leads to picking up the other. Sticks are just this way. Certain circumstances and situations of our personal lives are just out of our personal control. Experiences that disrupt our inner peace mirror the act of picking up the stick, the whole stick that is. Maybe we don’t have control over the circumstance, however, we do have control of our perception of what we are experiencing. At any moment in our lives we have the choice to change the quality of experience with just as much simplicity and ease as choosing what to eat or wear.

Practices that bring ones conscious awareness into the present moment provide the greatest opportunity for anyone to harness a human’s greatest power, the power of our perception. A human life is multi-textured, and because there are so many layers to the experience of living, it is easy to be drawn out of the inner temple of peace and into the fluctuations of what is rising and falling away in the relationships we manage with the passing of every minute and hour. From the subtle relationships we manage with our own minds, emotions, energetic and physical bodies to the more gross relationships we manage with families, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers and all of the facets of the world we are living in.

This gift bequeathed to each of us, at any moment to change our minds, only requires doing so. With that the shit end of stick no longer outshines the cleaner end and all of the space in between. Sometimes great patience and great diligence are required to choose new perspectives rather than our old stories. However, the perspective shift is what brings us back to the inner peace, joy, and harmony, not the outer circumstance being experienced. There is no doubt that some circumstances lend themselves more easily to these inner states, but these states of being are available at any moment to be enjoyed with so much as a simple shift of perspective.

The more time we take to be with ourselves be it through meditation, yoga, tai chi, or just present moment awareness the more able we become to put on a glove before picking up the shit end of the stick, or put it down and wash our hands. Or better yet, pick up the end that doesn’t stink, the end that is lighter and provides a bigger perspective seeing beyond the view of victim, empowered by the power of mindfulness.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

Personal Evolution

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Some say, people don’t change. Perhaps they are right. I believe that people do change. Given the right circumstances, support, information, and an ability to surrender the old, change will occur. I don’t claim to know much about science however, I am under the impression that not even our cells stay the same for longer than seven years and in fact we are mutating all of the time. Perhaps we each appear to look a certain way predetermined by our genetic makeup all of our life, yet life circumstances can happen in such a way that even our outer appearance changes, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. So, why does this shared social belief that people don’t change exist at all? People, in a general, are most definitely afraid of change. Change is after all going from the known to unknown, and yes this can be frightening, even if we know what awaits us on the other side. It is when we don’t know that which awaits us on the other side that our fear creates resistance. Take death for example, the one thing that we will all face without a doubt, and most commonly the last conversation any of us want to have. Death is the ultimate form of change for us living beings as on the other side of this mortal life is a true complete unknown. Sure there have been centuries of postulating and philosophizing upon what awaits us after death, and for as many lives that have breathed fresh air upon this Earth there are opinions of what awaits in the great beyond. More likely than not, we will not ever know what is on the other side until we get there, however, in the knowing it is coming for us I wonder will we as a race ever become more comfortable with discussing death openly and embracing it’s absoluteness. Facing death without fear is a mirror of facing change without resistance. It is resistance to change and the fear that resistance generates that predisposes us to a belief that people don’t change. For if we allowed others to change we too would have to accept our ability to change, and or, our own resistance to it.

I postulate and philosophize about many things, the capacity to change is a topic I have spent much time on. In my own life, I have found it far more satisfying to leave room for people to change. Leaving room for others to change, grow, or evolve lightens the burden upon my shoulders of never being able to forgive, empathize, and be compassionate about the circumstances of other people’s lives. Leaving room for others to change also supports my own pursuit of personal growth and evolution, in effect allowing room for me to forgive myself my transgressions and behaviors which lead to self limitation and outward judgment.   In my pursuit of a greater understanding of personal evolution, and human nature I believe that change is inevitable and is in fact one of the primary journeys of human being, for it is in adapting that we become more like that which is the essence of all, that which is always in a state of transformation and change. As we become more comfortable with surrendering the old idea of ourselves for the new experience unfolding in every moment, the old stories for the new ones, the small ideas for the more spacious ones, we essentially are dying all of the time. On the other side of our always-dying experience is the miraculous state of resurrection, a new self, untainted by the stains of the old story. Is this the fundamental point to the story of Jesus’s resurrection, that we too can be one with the divine when we allow ourselves to die and be reborn anew in any moment? I believe it is.

People do change, some only very little bits closed in their minds and their beings to their own great potential, others every moment of every day.

How does one change you may find yourself asking? A good place to start is in the moment; ask yourself what can you set down right now to lighten your load. Maybe it is a thought, maybe it is a belief, and maybe it’s a relationship? I recommend letting go of that which frightens you most when you think of surrendering it. One thing is sure, that whatever you let go of today will change your tomorrow.

“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.”

-Jarod Kintz

What I learned In Preschool, an Ode to Leaping Lizards

In the end of May 1999 I graduated from High School with intentions to set out and conquer the world. It was a typical adolescent understanding of the world as conquerable, coupled with an ignorant belief that the world would arrange itself to fit into me. Despite my delusions of grandeur I enrolled in University in Southern New Mexico where I lasted one semester before deciding Las Cruces, higher education, spending my days in classrooms that hummed under the heat of florescent lights, and the concept of academia, just wasn’t for me. Again, my adolescent hubris in alignment with my ignorance was calling the shots. As I perceive that choice now, I can say it was a thoughtless step that took me from my dorm room back into my mother’s home where I found myself suffering from the only bout of insomnia I have ever had in my life. To fight off the insomnia I read voraciously, filling the sleepless nights with books, most memorably, the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium. I knew at the time, as I read Ethics For The New Millennium, it would be pivotal to the rest of my life. I also knew my life was definitely changing, I wasn’t sure how, but I was sure I would never be the same.

Weeks went by and I spun my wheels wondering how I was now going to conquer the world. News traveled to my best friends mom who owned a Preschool that I was back in town. She called me and told me that she needed a substitute teacher and I should come to the school and give it a shot. I remember being resistant, telling her I didn’t like kids and I wasn’t sure if I was the right person. Lucky for me Jill would not take no for an answer. She rejected my resistance with an intelligent and insightful response. “It’s not that you don’t like kids,” she said, “It’s just that you haven’t spent any time with them and you’re afraid of them. You can stop being afraid and get to know some. Besides, you might actually like it.” By this time Jill had been in the business of kids for more years than I had been alive and she knew what she was talking about. In the end I had nothing better to do and I knew that spinning my wheels wasn’t getting me anywhere, least of all, on top of the world.

Once I got over the initial fear, I found myself, as Jill said I would, really enjoying the company of children. In alignment with the teachings and wisdom I had gathered in the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium, it was obvious that these children understood all anyone really wanted was to be happy. From the onset I could see that the children had excellent parameters for what was fair in the context of relationship in the relationships they were having with each other. The question of were they allowed to be happy while others were seeking their own happiness seemed to be the biggest problem to solve, aside from the usual Preschool dilemmas of nap time, wet pants, and sitting in a chair while eating lunch. It became apparent to me that I had traded in higher education for what in my perspective, became an even higher education, an education in being nice, or in yogic terms, being mindful and acting from a place of nonviolence.

This May, many of those fabulous little teachers of mine graduated from High School, and Jill closed the doors to Leaping Lizards after 35 years of educating children big and small. It blows my mind to think how much time has passed and now those children are the age I was when I was so curiously learning from them. Over the last fifteen years I have continued to study the value of mindfulness in relationship, with self as well as the world around me. I hold to the knowing that being kind and treating others and ourselves well while not squashing anyone's happiness is the most important thing any of us can do, no matter the size and age of our bodies. As the years have rolled on I have gained new tools that enable me to be present with my skillfulness in thoughts and actions of kindness, balance, and the obfuscated qualities of fairness. The practice of yoga adds tools to the toolbox as well as enhances the quality and respond-ability of these skills daily. I still like to play with toys, swing, slide, and play hide and seek. Story time is my favorite time of day and recently I am convinced everything anyone ever really needs to know can be learned from Peter Pan, hang onto your shadow and think happy thoughts.

Teaching at Leaping Lizards as well as reading Ethics For The New Millennium definitely changed the way I perceive the world around me, especially the way I perceive the people living in it, and my life has been better for the choice of dropping out of college every day since. Though Preschool may be many decades behind me, I continue daily to open the notebook to my deeper and higher learning through wonderful childlike play, and I continue to refine the greatest lesson I learned there, being kind. Through play I am often surprised and delighted to find myself enjoying the pleasure of killing dragons with my kindness and sometimes even turning them into my best friends. Rolling around on the floor in Cobra and other animal poses opens my heart and enables me to charm the venomous snakes and dangerous beasts within. Sinking into the seat of my inner warrior and exhaling helps me to steadfastly be more determined to breathe kindness, love, and humility into all of my actions through the shining and strong armor of my happy heart.

The thing about being kind and loving is that it is always rewarding. Being kind sometimes takes a little courage like going to the first day of school or making friends with someone new in the playground, and being kind especially takes courage in the face of adversity and fear. However, like Jill so elegantly said to me, “you might actually like it.” I believe being kind always beats the alternative.

If I could pass on any words of wisdom to those children now they would be to not loose your playful spirit, remember hitting hurts, it's good to take naps, and hugs always feel good. Higher education is always important and being open to learning can be more valuable than the environment you learn in. You are still young and it is always valuable to make well informed decisions, don't be afraid to ask for help.

I happily graduated from Preschool in May of 2001 at the ripe old age of twenty, knowing then that my desires to conquer the world were never really going to fulfill me. Rather, than and now, I graduated to just wanting to love the world, all of it, like a soft kitty cat, a great story, my dearest invisible childhood friend, or a day of absolute play.

My deepest gratitude continues to go to Jill Sanger for the giving me the opportunity to assimilate the teachings of the Dalai Lama in the classrooms of Leaping Lizards, incorporating the values of mindfulness, kindness, fairness, creative problem solving, and the positive vibrant love of play. It was my first peek into a life of an unconditioned heart.

With Love All Ways For Giving, Genevieve