This Moment is Already Part of Your Past

It’s so easy to get caught up in this lie of living to work. Of racing through the day. Of being so tired and distracted when you are with your loved ones, you really might as well be somewhere else. All with this idea that it will “get better when…”

We’ve set up a crazy system where we’re all separated from each other; we have glorified self-reliance to the point of isolation. We’ve bought into the idea that we must compete to survive. It’s good to be able to take care of yourself, to be accountable for the energy you’re spreading, to take responsibility for your own happiness, or lack of it. But we are so much on our own that in order to survive we believe we have to race. I think thats just a form of numbing out. Of avoiding the reality that we are all going to die one day. Maybe if I’m insanely busy I can forget my days are numbered. When I see people out in the world, mostly they look stunned, dazed, depressed, asleep. I want to say, “Wait. What are you doing? This is your life, it’s happening right here, right in this moment. Why are you sleeping?!” There are many times I want to hug someone awake. Total strangers. Hug-to-hug resuscitation.

If your entire focus is on racing, there’s really no time to be breathing. Listening. Tinkering. Exploring. Soaking in all the beautiful moments that are going by in a blur, that will never happen again. And if you want to be at peace, it must seem obvious that racing isn’t the way to get there. Because peace doesn’t come in a paycheck (assuming you have your basic needs met, of course). If you’ve got a roof over your head and clothes on your back and good health and food in your refrigerator and people in your life who love you, You. Are. Blessed.

In our crazy system, it would be very easy to race right over that reality. To take it for granted. To want more, something different, something bigger or better or new. To think you can appreciate all that stuff you do have when things calm down. Things will NEVER calm down unless you take yourself out of the race. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard. But I am saying if you’re doing something you love, if you can carve out some time every day when you feel like you’re helping people in any way, it’s not going to feel like work. I do not accept you are here to work at a job you can’t stand 80 hours a week, living for a vacation one week out of the year, collapsing on the weekends, accruing money and stuff. I do not believe anyone really wants to wait until they’re retired to start enjoying life. I mean, better then than never, but what makes any of us think long life is guaranteed? That love can wait. That our deepest dreams can be kept on the back burner? Or maybe you know all this already. Maybe you’re not racing, but perhaps your quiet moments are spent in despair instead of gratitude, because you are just not allowing yourself to act upon that voice inside you that knows what you want.

Osho has a beautiful quote, “The real question is not whether life exists after death. The real question is whether you are alive before death.” Don’t wait. If there’s something deep within you crying out for your attention, something pulling at your heart and weighing on your soul, something that is just longing to come out of you, open your mouth and sing it out all over the place. That’s your purpose. That small voice knows exactly what you need to do, which direction you need to move, what action you need to take to start living the life you want to be living. Denying yourself that roadmap is senseless and it’s also an act of ingratitude. Because you’re not only denying yourself all the light and love that is available within you, you’re denying everyone you encounter as well. It’s not watering the flower inside your own heart. Can you get the picture of a wilted daisy in your mind? That’s what’s happening inside your heart if you are ignoring it. You have to water that flower if you aren’t already. You might have to water it with an ocean of tears for awhile. But being awake and in pain long enough to heal and find freedom and live your life with your heart wide open is so much better than being asleep. You could be shining. You could be loving your life, with all its imperfections and surprises and challenges, and even with its pain. You could be joyful and grateful to be on this journey even as it breaks your heart. Isn’t that crazy? Life won’t wait forever. Love won’t happen in your past or your future, but you could dive into it right now. I hope you do. Sending you an ocean of love to dive into. Ally

That’s Okay, I’ll Drive!!

No one can make you feel anything, unless you let them. This is a tough one to swallow, I know. But it goes hand in hand with another important reality, which is that you cannot save anyone, or make anyone happy. (In other words, you can’t make anyone feel anything, either).

I say this is tough to swallow, because many people think in terms of cause and effect when it comes to interpersonal relationships. This other person said, or did, x, y, or z, and it made me feel hurt or angry or disappointed or excited or happy. Your feelings are yours. Where you invest your time and energy is a choice. What you allow yourself to open to is a decision. If someone says something that hurts your feelings, the first thing to do is examine whether you believe the thing that was said is true. If it’s not true, there’s no real reason to get worked up. Earlier this afternoon my almost 6-year old son called my 3-year old daughter, “Poopy-head”. She got very upset and came running to me and I looked at her very seriously and asked, “ARE you a Poopy-head??”, and she paused and said no, with a little bit of a smile, and a twinkle in her eye.  And I said, “That’s right, you’re not. So he’s saying something that isn’t true. So why are you upset?” And she started laughing. Sometimes people are projecting something of theirs onto you. (Not that my son is a Poopy-head, he’s just 6 ;)). And, we are all going to be misunderstood from time to time. If it is true, then you have to figure out what is being reflected back to you. What within you needs some healing?

If a person isn’t happy, you cannot fix that for them. Sylvia Boorstein is a beautiful meditation teacher, and she wrote a great book called, “Happiness is an Inside Job”. It totally is. Sometimes we fall in love and those happy hormones take over for awhile, but I promise you, if you or the other person was not happy to begin with, the high of the newness will wear off, and the pain underneath will rise back up to the surface. This is why people who bought that line, “You complete me” are always disappointed at the 3 or 6-month mark in a relationship. How come my completion doesn’t feel as awesome anymore? Maybe this isn’t the right person, after all. The “right person” to complete you, is you. Two complete people coming together can create something beautiful. But that happens less than half the time. Are less than half the people happy? Shouldn’t we do something about that? Like maybe teach our children how to follow their hearts?

The not-being-able-to-save-anyone part is not easy, either. When we care deeply for someone, it’s painful to watch them struggle, or self-destruct, or continue patterns of behavior that will only bring them more despair, or loneliness, or isolation. But everyone has to “do” their own journey. You just can’t manage another person’s path. You can do everything in your power to help, you can communicate your feelings, you can make suggestions, or even lead a person to the doorstep where genuine help is available, but ultimately, they are gonna have to walk through that door on their own two feet, because they want to, because the old way isn’t working anymore, or it will not work. The healing will not hold. And sometimes in order to love yourself well, you need to step away. With your keys. And drive with the windows down, weeping if you need to. Sending your love out into the wind, hoping it will land.

I’m sending you some right now. Ally

You Are Here

I love how this graphic looks like a graveyard plaque, because if you’re stuck, if you’re postponing your yes, your authentic self, your purpose, if you’re comparing and contrasting your journey to other people’s experiences, if you’re stuck in bitterness and resentment, then you are, in essence, not living. Existing, killing time, obsessing, waiting…none of these resembles truly living with your heart wide open.

There was a time in my life many years ago when I was very stuck. My, “Before Yoga” days. Before Yoga Daze. I was stuck in blame and anger and excuses and rationalizations and numbing out. I made unhealthy relationship choices, and didn’t take care of myself well. I was pretty miserable. I was attached to my story because it let me off the hook. I could just keep retelling it to myself to explain away my own poor choices. But after awhile, sad stories become really boring and kind of lame. Because there’s another story that could be unfolding if you decided to get out a pen and develop a new plot. And somewhere inside yourself you know that, you can feel that. And the not doing it starts to make you sick in your soul. Soul-sick.

Every day, I see people asking some variation of the question, “Why is this happening to me?” The “this” might be life, or the ending of a relationship, or the loss of a loved one or a job, or some combination therein. It’s a perfectly natural and understandable question to ask, especially if life is presenting you with incomprehensibly painful circumstances. Tuesday as I was driving around having a perfectly lovely day, I found myself with tears streaming down my face at the thought of some situations we are presented with in life. Not me at this particular time, but just the awareness that there are people out there right now dealing with the kind of pain that just takes your breath away.

If you look at life as something that is “happening to you”, as opposed to something you are co-creating (because yes, life is going to present the circumstances, but you are going to decide how you’ll respond), then you’re going to feel like a victim. And there’s just no power in that. I understand there can be short term pay offs when we point fingers and justify, or decide it’s too much, and sleepwalking is a better option, but ultimately if you want to be at peace, that stuff is simply not going to get you there. There’s incredible strength that comes from forgiveness. Forgiving yourself, other people, life itself. Unhooking your journey from your painful experiences. Not forgetting about them or denying them, but just sitting with them long enough to release the heat of the pain so you can move forward in love. In compassion. In patience and understanding.

And comparing and contrasting your life to anyone else’s is also a grave waste of your time and energy. Everyone has their own path to walk, to mend, to discover. Instead of, “Why is this happening to me?”, try to keep it simple, “This is happening”. And do your best to be present and aware and awake so you can respond instead of react. We can never control circumstances, but we can work on how we deal with them. There’s tremendous power in that. Taking responsibility for the parts of your life you can affect feels good. Then you can start to get creative with your pen. You can create any plot your heart can hold. That doesn’t mean it will turn out exactly the way you want it to, but if you’re moving from your heart, from your Yes, the journey is going to be beautiful. Even the pain and disappointment will have a sharp-edged beauty to them, because you’ll be awake. And your heart can hold so much when it’s open. Being awake with an open heart is a great way to travel. Start where you are. Sending you love. Ally

Let it Go (But don’t let go of actual balloons ;))

Oh, the mind. It gets so easily snagged on the negative. Something happens and it doesn’t unfold the way we hoped and the mind just spins. And replays. And spins some more. Sometimes it’s our own behavior that disappoints us. We feel angry or heartbroken about the way we showed up with someone and long to do it over. Rewrite it in our minds. Say it right, or do it differently.

Sometimes it’s someone else. There are so many experiences in life that just don’t have clear, definable endings. People do not reveal themselves in a linear fashion anymore than life does. Once in awhile someone we’ve been close to for a long time pulls away suddenly and without explanation. Or we are betrayed or shamed. This doesn’t feel good when it happens with people we are just getting to know, either. It’s hard to let go of things without closure, without a full understanding of what transpired. But life and people just don’t come wrapped up in neat little packages like that. We humans are messy and complicated, and life is always throwing us curveballs and forks in the road. When we hold on to anger or judgment or blame, or drive ourselves crazy trying to redo something that can’t be redone, we are the ones who suffer.

Here’s the thing. You are not going to understand everything. Not everything is going to be explained. Not everyone is going to communicate in a way that gives you peace. Very frequently in life, you have to find the peace yourself. We all make mistakes. No one shows up as their highest self in every moment. At a certain point, you really have to forgive yourself and forgive others for their humanness. Human-mess. And…Let. It. Go.

Pain is perfectly natural. Sometimes we are in pain with no explanation and the only solution is to open to it. To lean into it, to explore it, to accept this is how things are for now, and to remember everything is in a constant state of flux. To be kind to yourself. How you feel now is not how you’ll feel forever, or even next week. Sit with your pain, but do your best to release the details, the obsession, the do-overs. Because that is called living in the past. That is called missing the moment. And the moments are precious. You don’t want to spend too many of them agonizing over what has happened and why, or making yourself sick with worry about what might happen in the future. Just come back to right now.

You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to get everything right, and neither does, or will, anyone else. It’s part of the deal of being human. Embrace that. Examine your mistakes long enough to understand yourself, and well enough to avoid repeating them. Accept that other people have their own path to walk and manage, and it may not always be pretty. And carry on.  Life is too short to miss. I’m pretty sure of that. Sending you love. Ally

There is a Crack in Everything

Ring-the-bells-thatRumi has a beautiful quote, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Any pain you’ve endured has the potential to open you and soften your heart. The kindest people I know have all suffered. We don’t invite suffering, we don’t ask for pain; nonetheless, the darkest times tend to lead to the most growth, the deepest understanding, the greatest expansion of compassion for ourselves and everyone we encounter.

We live in a crazy world where we’ve learned to lie to each other all day. “How are you?” “I’m fine! How are you?” Maybe you’re not fine, maybe you’re falling apart right now. But we’ve got this idea that we’re supposed to edit ourselves, to keep it “light”, to, “Smile as Your Heart is Breaking”. And then we go home and weep. Do you think you’re alone? Do you think you’re the only one who feels despair and heartache and fear sometimes? What could be more vulnerable than the condition of being human? Of knowing we have a finite amount of time to figure out how to shine, how to love with our whole hearts, how to be at peace, how to release fear? What if we started telling each other the truth? “How are you?” “Well, I feel stuck and I’m not sure what to do about it. I have a deep feeling I should be moving in a different direction, but I can’t act because I don’t want to disappoint all these people who are counting on me to keep sleepwalking through my life. How are you?” That would be a little different, no?

And when we feel other people are somehow cruising through life with no doubt, no fear, no suffering, of course we start to think it’s us. And if I’m so broken, how can I possibly save myself, or spread any light anywhere? Let me tell you something. We are all broken. Life is happening in all its brilliant inexplicable chaos and we are here, breathing, trying to make sense of it all. Embrace your pain, your fear, your doubt, your shame, your guilt, your insecurity. You are human like every other person you will ever meet, no matter how perfect they may seem. Human beings are not perfect. No one’s life is perfect. Until you embrace and accept yourself in your entirety, as long as you deny your “cracks”, you just cannot open to love.

Love is accepting. Love will celebrate you, sing your name to the stars, wrap you up in yes, teach you how to use your pain to heal yourself and anyone you may encounter who could use some love, some light, a hug, a touch on the arm. Some forgiveness. Some relief. Some, “Oh, yes, me too!”. You are not meant to be perfect. You are meant to be amazingly, humanly, you.

Find your gift. It may be covered in debris, and you may have to dig for a while. You may bleed in those moments where you pick up memories like shards of glass. You may weep and think there’s nothing there. But if you listen hard enough you will hear a small voice. You may not recognize it at first, but it is the universe speaking through you, showing you your own particular truth, your own path to healing. Because we are all in this thing together, we are all made of the same stuff. And I am positive we’re supposed to be helping each other. You don’t have to be perfect to help. You just have to be you. And you are miraculous, you truly are. You could help so much, just by healing yourself. When you do that, it feels so incredible you want to help other people do it for themselves. You want to say, “I’m going to help you dig until you find that shimmering essential spark that is just yours. And then I’m going to watch you spread it all over the place.” I think I just said that to You. 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

Look at you, shining and so beautiful.

Love requires vulnerability. If you are not willing to surrender, to kneel down and offer up your gorgeous heart, true love cannot find you. I’m not talking about recklessness. Your heart is precious and you wouldn’t want to offer it up lightly. But if you are feeling that resounding yes abouImaget someone then you will have to find the courage to risk that your heart might be broken, and to trust that if it is, the breaking open will soften you and lead you to deeper healing, understanding and growth. I’m not just talking about romantic love, here.

In order to give love, you have to let go of any idea of quid pro quo. People are not property, and loving someone does not give you ownership of them. Saying, “I love you” is much different than saying, “I love you when you do what I want you to do”. This includes your children if you are a parent. (I’m not talking about teaching children how to be compassionate, accountable people, I’m saying sometimes parents have a hard time allowing their children to unfold. Carl Jung has a quote, “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment than the unlived life of the parent”.) Love does not control or force or manipulate. It doesn’t cling or judge or punish. It opens and it accepts, it listens and it celebrates. It’s curious and it’s kind.

If love means accepting people as they are, it might also mean that sometimes you’ll have to love them from afar if the “as they are” part is too painful for you. This applies when we love people who are hurting themselves or hurting us. You cannot save anyone. You can love people with all your heart, but everyone has to do their own healing, their own work, their own saving.

Genuine love is not conditional. If you are telling a person they must be a certain way in order for you to keep loving them, you’re confused about love. Because love is a celebration, an honoring, a respecting, a giant, I can’t believe how amazing you are type of hang, you know? It’s like watching a sunset and having your mind and your heart blown wide open. It’s accepting the storms, the rain, the hail, the lightning, and the breeze that come along with the sunsets, too. That kind of love is within you, you’re made of it, and nothing feels better than uncovering it if you haven’t yet. I also hope that you are the recipient of that kind of awe. Sending you a big hit of it right now. Ally