I enter this bookstore cafe today, a place I have been a thousand times but today my heart cracks open. Today, I see before me, the counter service of the cafe is now open. For the first time in sixteen months, I sit here with my tea, sweet potato fries and a yellow writing tablet. My pen begins to spill out with ink to chat with you for the first time in a very long time. The tears, I am holding back, are welling up in my eyes as my creative soul begins to take flight again. The tingling feeling, so familiar, it takes me high up as if I am in another world; a world I haven’t existed within for well over a year.
Sixteen months ago our world turned upside down and it has been like being on a roller coaster ever since. Although that may not a flawed analogy if you enjoy rollar coasters. For me, such an adventure ride leaves me very, very sick and dizzy which interestingly enough is literally how I have felt for some time now.
The world has been in a desperate place and I am not just speaking of the virus that shall not be named (excuse me but I have taken to reading Harry Potter during these times and I just couldn’t not:)
Recently I saw this article by Jack Kornfield Did I Love Well? Kornfield writes
“In undertaking a spiritual life, what matters most is simple. We must make certain that our path is connected to our heart.”
He goes ont to state
“In the end, spiritual life is not a process seeking or gaining some extraordinary condition or special powers. In fact, such seeking can take us away from ourselves. If we are not careful, we can find the great failures of our modern society – its ambition, materialism and individual isolation – repeated in our spiritual life.:
This is where our cat on heart opening today begins. Our divided society does not need much introduction. It has been well known and felt for sometime that we are at increasingly odds these days with each other. The very interesting part of this, the part that I am constantly surrounded by, is that there is a growing culture of people who are focusing their energies on trying to build a better world thru spreading anger and judgement. It’s become an uprising of sorts. An uprising that is made up of people who talk about caring about humanity but that really the humans they are able to share their care with are those that agree with them. This has all been couched in a package that it is about love for human kind but there is a very thin veil in which it is covered.
Being surrounded by such energy, particularly over the past sixteen months, has had it’s challenges. I tend to be highly emotionally sensitive and can sense energy very easily. As they say, its a blessing and a curse but it actually just….
As my grandmother would say.
Cancel Culture has become a practice that a lot of people feel justified in doing. The suppression of opinions and beliefs that do not jive with your own feels a kin to cliches in high school.
All of this has me sitting with the question…
“Are we loving well?”
or better put…
“Am I loving well?”
One could state that me bringin up the obvious divide and taking issue with the energy and beliefs being reactively projected outward is in itself doing what I am speaking about others doing. This irony is not lost on me. But for anyone who knows me well, knows that I do not sit on a pedestal. I surely fall of that on a regular basis.
A good friend said to me many years ago during a very challenging conflict I was going through…
“Steph, you can be right or happy. You can not be both.”
At the time, I was in the right so to speak. But I certainly was not happy.
It is said that love and fear can not live in the same place. I would venture to say that Love and Anger are similarly at odds. In order to truly love, you need to be willing to be vulnerable and to step down from that self righteous pedestal in order to see life from all angles.
Being open hearted does not mean that everything is puppies and rainbows. What it does mean is that you welcome in the challenges in life and learn how to sit with discomfort. Cancel culture is really just a different term for what is often discussed in psychology as “emotion dysregulation” which is to say that when we are emotionally reactive we are not capable of “being with” emotions. Learning how to “be with” rather than avoid, surpass or reject, difficult emotions is the key to learning how to more fully open up your heart and love yourself and others.
When I discuss with clients the concept of being with emotions rather than reacting to them, I often share that it’s basically about growing up. It’s about leaving behind the tantruming two year old and learning how to accept and ultimately embrace all emotions as well as people and their beliefs, including the ones that we disagree with or find intolerable. To me, this is truly what diversity and inclusion really is.
So back to Jack Kornfield. He writes that when we ask our selves the question
“Am I following a path of heart?”
We discover that no one can define that for us. We have to look at our values and assess whether our behavior is in line with what we deem as our core values. Our opinions or beliefs are representative of our ego. It’s our ego that focuses these days finding justification that we are the ones that are right. The ego is not the bad guy. We don’t want to find him and lock him up in jail for just being him/herself (I mean isn’t that exactly what we are talking about not engaging in?). It’s more about noticing the ego, acknowledging it but choosing to lean with the heart.
As Kornfield sites at the end of the article, when we are in the last moments of our life, it is not the amount of times we were right that we value. It is actually the amount of love that we have given and received. I have had the blessing of being with two very key people in my life who passed away almost within a year of each other in 2016 and 2017. Both were aware of the process they were in and in both instances the focus was totally and completely on
So I end with posing the question to you and to me….
“Am I loving well?”
I can’t tell you what that looks like for you. But I can tell you that for me, it means that I smile and laugh more each day these days. That I limit the amount of time that I focus internally or externally on that of which I am speaking about in our chat today. That I embrace each day as a gift that has been given to me by the Universe and look for the moments of beauty I can make pictures of with my mind.
For today that looks like enjoying this experience in this cafe. An experience I was restricted from having for a long time. I will remember the chat I had with the staff about the Olympics and how we ultimately under it all we all enjoy seeing people triumph and live life fully.
Cheers to a life well loved!