Are You Tense?

The-past-the-present-andYou know what’s funny? The past, present and future will show up everywhere with you if your mind is running the show, because the mind LOVES time travel. And it prefers the past or the future to the present. We humans are supposed to be elevated because we can reason. But we are so great at screwing it up. We’re like a bunch of talking heads. Blah blah blah.

I believe a mind that is serving your heart and your intuition can be a beautiful and powerful tool. You can use your mind to answer questions like: How do I put my dreams into action? How do I face my fears? How do I have this painful conversation, what is the best way to go about it? What actions can I take to make a difference, to bring more fulfillment and purpose into my life? What tools or methods appeal to me, how do I go about this journey of healing, of quieting, of discovering?

But in order to function optimally, we have to be able to quiet the mind, so we can hear that voice that knows the way. Our intuition can chart the course to our purpose, fulfillment and joy if we have the courage to follow it. Otherwise, the obsessive, redundant nature of the unchecked mind will spin us right out of the joy, wonder, beauty, pain, love, anger, confusion, grief, laughter and connection that is ONLY available in the present. That stuff is the juice of life. Without it, life is a painful process of change and darkness, fear and anxiety, confusion, depression and longing. Because usually when we visit the past we do so with some sadness or regret or desire. If we’re revisiting a person we’ve lost, the memory may be happy, but the resulting feeling will be the thud of grief that lands on the heart and renders us breathless. (And please don’t misunderstand me, I believe in remembering those who have been taken from us too soon. I just don’t think they’d want us to live in that space of pain and heartache for too much of our present. I believe they’d want us to find the joy again, and to open to love). And when we think about the future we do so with anxiety or fear, or craving. We might have a vision of how we want things to be, and then feel frustrated or dissatisfied with how things are.

I’m going to say something that I feel is left unsaid too often. There are certain losses that will never fully heal. If you’ve endured a loss like that, then you know what I mean. I’m not talking about the break-up of a relationship. I’m talking about the kind of loss where your heart and mind scream with the pain of, how do I possibly face this? All that can be hoped for in those extreme cases is the discovering of a new normal, where a certain amount of sadness is present, more so on some days than others. And hopefully that sadness will lead to greater compassion and understanding for ourselves and others.

But allowing yourself to move through life as the servant of your mind is a sure way to be absolutely miserable. If your body (which is your home) were a building, the un-mastered mind would be the top floor, and there’d be about 900 people up there, running around in circles, arms waving, holding files full of thoughts, judgments, ideas, shoulds, can’ts, why’s, and worries, screaming at each other. With harsh lighting, and windows that don’t open.

The heart would be right in the center of the building. Quiet, with huge, floor-to-celing windows, a beautiful breeze blowing in, and the most extraordinary light. No yelling, no people, just a presence, just a voice, just you. Or me. Or any of us. Because that spark lives in all of us.

In the basement, you have storage. File cabinets full of every experience you’ve ever had, some marked “awesome”, some marked, “heartache, betrayal, loss”, some marked, “rage, jealousy, moments I wish I could do over”, some marked, “really unhealthy choices”. There are no windows in the basement, and there’s no light, because there’s no potential in the past.

The 900 people on the top floor love to race to the basement and grab files to run around with. They might pass by that peaceful, quiet, truthful floor of the heart, because it can be uncomfortable to face reality as it is. To come into the now. To realize how extraordinary you are. To take responsibility for your own peace, even if it’s the peace of enduring what cannot be changed, and healing where we can heal. The view from the heart is so expansive, sometimes it scares people and they go running for the basement. But when the heart takes over, it is a gorgeous thing. Because you know what the heart does?

It goes upstairs and fires almost everyone. The most efficient person will remain to keep things organized. Two or three others may be left behind, but they’ll only be able to cause a minimal amount of trouble, and only on really challenging days. Mostly, the heart will be able to shush them easily. Then the heart goes to the basement, and sets fire to all those old files. Except for two or three very special entries that may need to be protected. And then the heart goes and sits by that open window, with the breeze blowing by, and watches the whole world unfold with new eyes, with relief, with, Yes. Finally.

Life is such a gift. Just the experience of being here. Of learning. Of growing. Of screwing it up and trying again. Of finding your purpose. Of being really, truly present and awake and aware. Engaged with the now of the thing. Your heart has a beautiful song to sing. If you want to be at peace, you have to let it. I really really hope you do. Sending you love, Ally Hamilton

How Did This Happen?!

A-person-often-meets-hisDo you ever find yourself in the exact situation you were trying to avoid and wonder how this could have happened, or find yourself thinking the universe has a twisted sense of humor? Are you sure it’s the “universe”?

Carl Jung has a quote, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Any places within you that could use some healing will make themselves known to you one way or another. If you’ve found yourself in a set of circumstances you were consciously hoping to avoid, it’s your unconscious at work, waving a burning flag at you. The flag is a marker. It’s your intuition drawing you toward an obstacle you need to address first, in order to open fully to love. We all want to heal.

Knowing yourself is at the heart of any spiritual practice. And there’s just no getting around those places where we’re raw, where we’ve been hurt or disappointed or betrayed or abandoned. Until you acknowledge those places and sit with them for awhile, they’ll continue to seek your attention.

But it’s not really “them” seeking you, it’s YOU seeking you. You just may have to play it out in order to “get it”. When a current experience feels like the ghost of an old situation, you’re probably in for some serious pain. Because in a very real sense you’re re-living the original wound. Sometimes people have to do that over and over again, especially those who run from the experience or numb it out or push it down. It’s so much better if you can turn and face it, because ignoring or denying it won’t make it go away. It’ll just keep chasing you. And ruling your life.

We all have pain. Sometimes people apologize to me for crying in the yoga room during class. Are you kidding me? Let the tears flow. Give yourself a safe place to allow those feelings to come up so you can release them. This is how you unhook your journey from an old wound and find the freedom to move forward without having to carry that heavy stuff on your back. There’s no reason your past has to rule your present or your future, and there’s no sense in finding yourself on the same painful road over and over again, either. Sit down on the curb for awhile and bawl your eyes out if you need to. When you’re ready, stand up and start walking. Just put one foot in front of the other. When you come to the fork in the road and one sign says “Same Old Road” and the other says, “Highway of Love”, I’m pretty sure you’ll know which way to go. And you’ll still think, “How did this happen?!”, but you’ll have a big grin on your face. Because love feels good. Sending you some right now, Ally Hamilton

Love Smiles at Strangers

Darkness-cannot-driveThe world is in a state of pain because we’ve separated ourselves from each other. If you look around and wonder why you see despair, depression, war, famine, slavery, greed, apathy, pollution, a planet whose depletion is becoming more and more apparent, the answer is simple. We are at war within ourselves. Nothing is happening outside that isn’t happening inside.

It is true that we are going to be alone through much of our time here, sometimes even when we’re in a room full of people we love. That internal dialogue, that relationship you’re having with yourself, is the number one relationship to examine. Because if your inner dialogue is harsh and unforgiving, you are in pain. If you’re in pain, you’re going to spread pain. You won’t mean to do that, but it will happen. In that case, you are living with a nasty roommate you can’t evict, who makes you feel alone, “less than”, resentful, envious, hopeless, angry and frequently bitter. No way you’ll be treating yourself well if you’re feeling that way. And that roommate has a lot of help “out there” to make you believe those feelings are facts. That help comes in the form of constant messages that we are bombarded with from every direction. (Those messages are out there so that we buy stuff as if that will help). You may find yourself asking questions like, “What’s it all for?”

But that roommate is an impostor, and those messages are lies. There’s another voice inside you that is full of love and compassion and truth. It’s a lot quieter and you have to shut out the white noise (which includes the nastiness of that inner critic, your cell phone, your computer, your television, those horrific “beauty” magazines, gossip rags and anything else that tells you, “you suck”) to hear it, but it’s there. The more you make room for that voice, the louder it will get. It’s just been waiting for you. It’s stronger than the critic, it’s stronger than depression, apathy, and disrespect. It does not ever use the word “should” regarding you or anyone else. It is full of compassion and awareness and patience and understanding and forgiveness. The voice is love. We are all made of the same stuff, love, we have just forgotten.

The world is upside down because of that, and although we are all alone on this journey in many ways, we have separated ourselves from each other in a way that makes the ride scary, that makes true connection with anyone else unlikely. Because of course, if anyone knew who you really were, they wouldn’t like you, right? If you edit yourself, no one can know you, thus you will be, in a very real way, alone, and you will suffer. We need connection, we need love, we need to feel like people know us and care. We all need that–people, animals, the beautiful, giving planet. We look around at the state of things and we are overwhelmed by what is wrong with the picture. The picture could be so different. It’s totally simple, but it’s not at all easy. Because the road to uncovering that love might be dark and lonely and full of pain. The more each person refuses to travel that road to internal healing, the more stuck we all become. Love yourself. Love yourself. Love yourself. Three times probably isn’t enough. Say it to yourself a million times. Say it every time some mean nasty thought pops up. Keep going back to love. If you’re full of love, you’ll spread it wherever you go. You won’t mean to, but it will happen. Love smiles at strangers. Love lends a hand for no reason except that it’s natural. Love doesn’t turn a blind eye. Love doesn’t say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do”. We need a serious love explosion. That’s how the picture changes. Sending you love right now, Ally Hamilton