Stand Up Eight

Fall-down-seven-timesThe key thing in life is not to give up. If finding inner peace was easy, the world would be full of happy, loving people, and we’d have a much different set of global circumstances, too. How it is outside is a reflection of how it is inside, and we simply have too many people at war within themselves at this moment in time.

In our culture, we’re taught to be against ourselves, we’re trained to have an adversarial relationship with our own bodies. In other words, we are taught to go to war at home. You’re going to live in your body for your whole life, so in a very real sense, it IS your home, and you’re going to keep the company of your internal dialogue. How sad that we’re taught that almost nothing about us is okay, and how obvious it is that we’d need some healing. This business of being human is not easy, and you may feel lost, alone and in darkness for quite some time. Yesterday in one of the threads, someone said she wished she had a set of tools for healing. The best tool for getting unstuck is knowing yourself. Figuring out what makes you tick, what lights you up, what feeds your soul. And then finding the courage to make choices that are in alignment with your big, resounding inner YES. Acknowledging and embracing your pain so it doesn’t rule your life. Accepting all parts of yourself not with shame or fear, but with grace, with compassion. Understanding that your work is not to be perfect, but to be real, to be perfectly you, perfectly human.

How do you know yourself? There are so many tools. I teach yoga because that’s the set of tools that worked, and continues to work for me, six days a week, and more than twenty years (and counting) later. Talking to at least one someone you trust is also essential. Someone who will mourn with you, but will also kindly hold up a mirror for you when you are not showing up as your highest self, or when you are acting in a way that is harmful to your own well-being. A great therapist will do those things for you. Treating yourself well, feeding yourself well, and examining relationships with people that may not be healthy. Getting out in nature, feeling the sun on your skin, the breeze on your face. Reading books that open you, that shed a little light into your darkness (anything by Pema Chodron, Sylvia Boorstein’s, “Happiness is an Inside Job”,”The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell, “Devotion” by Dani Shapiro, and “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh are all favorites of mine, along with the poems of Mary Oliver, David Whyte, Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke…I could go on and on, but that’s a good start if you need some inspiration), and a seated meditation practice (check out if you’re interested). These are the tools in my particular shed, but knowing yourself means figuring out what you need in yours.

Falling down and staying down is a commitment to misery and darkness and rage and bitterness. It’s going to be a long, unhappy life like that. Yesterday someone else said they’d given up, but I don’t believe that, because then, what are you doing on this page? You know I’m gonna come out swinging every day about the beauty in life and the beauty in you, and that I’m going to keep talking about healing yourself and doing the work and being accountable and taking a hold of this one, amazing, gorgeous, painful, unpredictable life, and riding it all the way. Please don’t give up on yourself, or on life. That would be such a shame. Because no one else can be you. You are the only you we’ve got, and you have your own particular gifts to uncover and share. Robbing yourself of that opportunity is also robbing yourself of the joy of life, the sweetness of your purpose, the great, true laughter of your heart. It’s also robbing the world of gifts only you can offer. You may have grown up, you may shave your face every morning, or your legs, but there is still a little kid inside you who is hoping beyond hope that you will do it. That you will face the dragons and slay the sh&t out of them. That you will charge the fence with everything you’ve got and break yourself out of the illusion that you are not good enough, or that the world isn’t beautiful even with all its pain. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. Don’t let yourself down, don’t let yourself get counted out. I hope you stand up right now. Sending you love, and a very hot cattle-prod if you need one, Ally Hamilton

Grab Your Weed Whacker!

Your-mind-is-a-gardenThere’s a powerful quote from the Upanishads, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.” Whatever you feed will grow and strengthen. This is why the quality of your life will largely depend upon the quality of your internal dialogue. I say that, recognizing life will bring all kinds of circumstances, some people will have a very painful path to walk, and ultimately, all of us will have to grapple with life’s big questions (Who am I? What am I doing here? Is this all there is?), on our own. No matter your path, you simply can’t evict that voice, that voice is your constant companion. Every thought you have creates a chemical reaction in your body. That’s your soil, and it’s either going to be full of lies and poison, or it’s going to be full of love.

In a garden, weeds steal water, nutrients, and space from your plants. Some give off natural herbicides killing off other plants in close proximity. Left unchecked, weeds will overgrow your garden, and “choke out” anything in their path. Here are a list of weeds to watch out for: Fear, envy, laziness, unexpressed rage or grief, shame, guilt, bitterness, pettiness, prejudice, insecurity and doubt. If you feed those weeds, you can bet they’re going to choke out any potential for the light to reach your plants. Or plans. I’m not saying it’s realistic to expect you’ll never grow a weed, I’m just saying be vigilant about grabbing your weed whacker as fast as you can. The best one I know is gratitude.A list of plants you really want to grow in your garden: Self-knowledge, love, truth, acceptance, inspiration, trust, joy, integrity, dedication, perseverance, forgiveness, loyalty and thankfulness. If you feed these plants, you will be amazed by the incredible garden that springs up within you and around you. Growing a garden of love takes time and patience, and pretty constant tending. It’s not going to happen overnight. In fact, depending on your path, you may have to spend years uprooting certain weeds. Too much water in your garden, and your thoughts become diluted, your seeds won’t take root. “Too much water” in this instance might include too much seeking out of other people’s opinions. No one can advise you about the growth of your own particular garden, because no one but you has ever worked with your exact fertilizer, weather conditions, schedules of pollination, and so on. No one else has weathered the exact storms you have, or felt the gentle breezes of your experience. So no one else can tell you how best to grow your garden. That’s your work to figure out.

If you avoid digging your hands in your own dirt because the thought of it makes you too tired or too scared, then get a picture in your mind of a garden that’s been overgrown by weeds. It looks constricted, right? Full of thorns and brittleness. It’s wild, and there can be a lot of beauty in that, but it’s not an easy place to grow anything. If that’s the garden of your mind, that’s where you live. In a creaky old rocking chair that you barely have the energy or desire to rock. Because life is exhausting when you don’t root down into your dirt so you can rise up out of it, when you let the weeds take over everything. Rooting down just means that you’re willing to sit in the center of your pain and let it open you. Growing a garden of love means you are going to examine your thorns and bleed a little. You’ll be amazed, but the flowers that spring up from those drops of blood will be the most gorgeous ones of all. Those are your Freedom Flowers. You won’t get those unless you understand your terrain, and traverse it well and deeply–let the rainy days nourish you, learn how to bend when the storms come so you don’t break, trust that the sun is going to shine again. And when it does, know that it will open you further, feed you, and encourage you to blossom, to extend yourself, to reach for the light.

You are not here to feed rage or fear or doubt. You’re here to release those feelings back into the earth. To let your tears wash them away. To pick your mind up again and again, and redirect it to all the beauty within you and around you. All the love. All the peace and happiness and satisfaction that happens when your garden is full of I Know What I Am Flowers. And I Know Why I’m Here Plants. That’s a garden you’ll want to hang out in, because it will never stop amazing you. Your colors will be so vibrant, so deep, other people will want to come and sit in your garden with you, and just take it in. Maybe take a seed or two of yours home with them. And you won’t mind because you’ll know you have so many. More than you need, more than you can ever use. And you’ll want to help other people grow their gardens. And if you’re a smart garden, you’ll ask for some of their seeds, too. So you can grow those incredible Compassion Flowers, Empathy Plants, and Connection Trees. And you’ll think, even with all of life’s storms, this is a beautiful, rich, mysterious experience. I wonder what will happen next? And you’ll just sway in the breeze, open, content, aware and full of gratitude. I’d love to come sit in your garden right now, whether you need help weeding, or you have your My Heart is Open flowers on display. Sending you some love seeds if you need them, Ally Hamilton