I remember the dean of my high school most clearly for the two times I sat crying in his office, refusing to hand over the flip-phone I had long since usurped from my mother. On both occasions a member of school staff had caught me in the bathroom hastily attempting to contact my older brother during what could only have been a five-minute break lest the teacher become suspicious.
My sophomore year of high school marked my older brother’s freshman year of college. While he was still in Illinois, the gap between Highland Park and Urbana-Champaign felt as vast as the distance between the windows of my trigonometry classroom and the intangible clouds above that earned the majority of my attention that year.
For the first time I experienced the pain that came with loving someone who wasn’t physically present in my life. Even though my brother and I saw each other many times that first year of separation, I never quite shook the feeling that it was imperative to live near those I loved. The fact that over ten years have gone by and I still live 45 minutes from my parents is a testament to that notion.
Over the years friends too have come and gone from the proximity that birthed our relationships, and to my surprise the world has continued to spin around its axis. But I am now painfully reminded of the lessons I wasn’t quite able to grasp as a teenager who longed for her brother to come home, because I now have friends who live more than just a car ride away.
A couple posts ago I marveled at the overwhelming lesson I had learned from my travels in Israel: no matter where in the world, one can always be loved. When such bonds of friendship are struck, more than just gratitude can arise. Any meaningful and joyful experience can also be a gateway for attachment. I so missed my brother when he went to college, I long for my friends who have moved out of state, and I can’t fathom the distance between my newfound friends in Israel and my home in Chicago.
When attachment turns joy into sorrow a lesson is being offered in return; the joy and connection that you are pining for came from within yourself. Right now I am missing my friends overseas. But our relationships with other human beings are not outside of ourselves, as they seem from our physical experiences. They originate within, and are born of the love each of us carry as our very being. Our friends do not merely reside in our hearts when we are apart, they are an expression of our hearts, and are returning home to the space from which they came.
Next time you feel attachment gnawing away at your mind, remember that the love for which you pine has never left you, and will continue to reflect itself back to you in infinite, unimaginable ways.
Everywhere you look people are making choices. People are taking action, taking sides, digging into their perspectives. When I see the one-sidedness and separation that are widely accepted as valid opinions I want to disagree, I want to explain myself, I want to change minds. Then I remember that it is, in fact, that very desire which creates separation and entrenches ideologies.
Everywhere you look people are making choices. But they don’t need your judgment. They need your love.
I’ve never been on a honeymoon before. But if the disillusionment after it’s over feels anything like the 26th of December, then I’m not sure I’d want one. Even though I get better and better at letting go of Christmas as each year passes, when December gives way to the endlessly bleak Chicago winter I go into spiritual hibernation. During winter the only solace is the steady passage of days, and I still find myself asking, “Will this never end?” This year I’m actually not sure if it will.
Spiritual hibernation is the setting aside of inner growth and evolving perspective. When you spiritually hibernate you are in survival mode, and naturally you do what you can to survive. Rather, you do what you think you need to do to keep going.
A commonly experienced aspect of spiritual hibernation, is that it occurs during a time when spiritual growth is most necessary, helpful, and potentially transformative. If you notice yourself spiritually hibernating, that is a pretty good sign the situation you are experiencing can quickly accelerate your inner transformation, first through acceptance.
Despite my earlier pronouncement of winter despair, summer is on its way. Each year when it is almost June, even if it still snows occasionally, I not only anticipate the new season but I find myself growing happier. Happier isn’t entirely accurate; I begin to feel lighter, have more energy, open up to new ways of trusting the universe and moving in it with ease.
During this phase I feel as if my joy has deepened, and am grateful to have passed through another winter to this new point. Not moving through the after-honeymoon phase leaves the true fulfillment undiscovered. The universe kindly uses honeymoon phases in many aspects of life to invite us into experiences that contain endless depth and opportunities for our highest potentials to manifest. The “trick” is to let the in-between period of transition change you.
Recently my answer to the question, “What makes a person irresistible?” was featured on irrestistablegirl.com. The question has since stayed in my thoughts and the following SoulPancake video leapt out at me today. In this Science of Love segment the connection between human beings who have experienced the birth and death of a honeymoon phase in their relationships help shed light on what happens next, and how to make it work:
Could you write yourself a love letter? Reading a letter from someone else expressing love to you is a wonderful experience, but there is nothing quite like being wholly accepted, acknowledged, and loved by yourself. Being a good friend starts at home; acting and speaking like a good friend to yourself is great practice at how to be a good friend to others. As cheesy as the premise of the following SoulPancake video may seem, I love the idea of writing a love letter to your very own self. An awesome byproduct of hearing these people’s love letters to themselves was that I ended up loving them too.
The following video of Marina Abramović’s performance for her 2010 MoMA retrospective speaks for itself entirely through silence. The most dramatic part of the video is Marina’s encounter with a former great love from the 70’s whom she used to create art with. What truly captivated me about this video were the shared moments of silent staring contents with strangers.
I find the act of staring into the eyes of another human being in silence to be revolutionary in a world consumed with conversation. Have you ever stared into someone’s eyes without speaking? Silence provides the opportunity to experience the reality, the fullness, the beingness of another human. Two humans staring into each other’s eyes in silence is consciousness gazing into a mirror.
Yesterday I talked about knowing the truth versus feeling the truth. I posited that feeling the truth requires surrender, trust, and being present in the moment in order that evidence of the spiritual truth you are attempting to feel within can present itself.
One of the most miraculous tools for feeling peace, trust, joy, balance, energy, bliss, and anything else you desire, is meditation. Meditation doesn’t seem fun or interesting at first, and that thought can prevent one from trying it. But once you start to attempt a short meditation each day, a routine like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins, it becomes easy and enjoyable. Not only does sitting in meditation become more comfortable after making it a routine, it starts to create visible positive changes in your everyday life. The practice of living all of the wonderful spiritual principles, that in your mind you know will improve your life exponentially, begins by simply sitting in silence.
Meditation creates space within that is normally occupied with thoughts and emotions. When you clean out your inner space, the universe has a vessel in which to express its highest potential. Eventually when meditating you can feel this flow of universal energy as love, joy, and boundless peace. Miracles begin take place within and without.
To begin practicing meditation I highly recommend Deepak Chopra’s “21 Day Meditation Challenge.” This particular bout of the meditation challenge is a collaboration between Deepak and Oprah entitled “Miraculous Relationships.” This is a free online program that offers a new 15 minute guided meditation every day for 21 days. Oprah and Deepak offer invaluable guidance throughout each meditation, and the music is beautiful. Deepak has done several meditation challenges in the past, and each one has completely changed my life in ways I could have never imagined. Many blessings as you go forth into the practice. If you have any questions, comments, or experiences you would like to share about this meditation challenge, or other experiences with meditation, please leave a comment.
Here is the link to get started with your new meditation practice: