Illness as a Blessing

For the past week, I had been feeling pretty ill. It was quite an eye-opening experience for many reasons, the primary being that I hadn’t felt sick in years. In a very grandiose way, I had convinced myself that I could never get sick. Thankfully, I was humbled, and I was able to have an opportunity to learn so much from this most recent episode of illness. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

  1. Acceptance is the easiest way to live. While it’s one thing to know this intellectually, it’s transformational to experience it. When we are in a state of acceptance, we allow life to carry us instead of trying to swim against the current. I noticed when I first felt symptoms, I was trying to deny them. Although I intellectually knew the importance of acceptance, it was hard for me to actually carry out the practice of acceptance in regards to my health. We fear accepting things because we believe that contentment will lead to complacency; however, that does not have to be the case. Acceptance allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the present moment so that we can make the most appropriate choice based on where we are right now. It is through such a deep level of acceptance that we are able to experience quite profound moments and shifts.
  2. Be at peace with doing nothing. There’s a societal expectation that we always ought to be doing something and that we should always be busy. Do, do do, go, go, go. We fear taking a break because we feel like we’ll never catch up on our to do list. The truth is that our to-do list can wait and possibly be tossed out ;-). Life does not have to be about checking off items on our to-do list, instead it can be about enjoying the process of simply living and being. We can enjoy moments where we do absolutely nothing, and we can feel guilt-free about those moments.
  3. Sometimes we don’t need to know why. Curiosity without attachment to an answer can be a fun pursuit but when we are obsessed with finding answers, we can become stressed. I wanted to know why I was sick, what was my body trying to tell me? Instead of being unattached, I was determined to uncover why. But the why wasn’t entirely clear and fortunately, it became comical because I realized finding the answer why wasn’t what was important. What was important was my need to rest and do nothing, not to continue to run around searching for answers. The obsession with finding answers can drive us crazy. Whenever the pursuit of the why is no longer fun, we have lost touch with the truth.

All this to say, I feel much better now and I can laugh at the experience. We become so engulfed in the need to know why, the effort to stay busy, and the fight against what is. We make life much more complicated than it really is despite our inner knowing that life is so very simple. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to get sick so that we can be reminded of the truth. 😉

Allowing Creativity

Lone Plumeria

Creativity is abundant, it’s simply waiting for us to allow, receive, and convey its messages. Look no farther than a kindergarten playground, where youth are running around with a plethora of fascinating ideas. On the playgrounds of our youngest youth, there’s rarely a concept of a poor idea, all is allowed to be expressed, explored, and attempted. But when we look across the average lifespan, something happens as we age; we inhibit ourselves from expressing the inspiration that flows through our veins and/or we become numb to the stream of creativity, unable to easily pick up its subtle cues. With creativity so rampant, why is it that so many people seem devoid of ideas? Why is it that so many people seem to express only what others expect of them? Why is it that people have a challenging time expressing themselves authentically?

There are many theories as to why and how many of us have reached this place of being effectively “blocked,” which we will not elaborate on because the most important point is that there is a solution. The main solution is to simply Be. Whenever an idea arises within us, we can allow it to linger instead of quickly quelling it and making a list of all the reasons it won’t work. We strip the life away from ideas before they even get an opportunity to bloom, failing to realize that perhaps the small blip we initially receive is just a tiny piece of the much larger puzzle that will unveil itself later through more brainstorming and expression. Let’s allow ourselves the freedom to tap into the creativity stream without criticism, judgment, or harshness. Let’s give ideas a chance to come into fruition even if they just end up being scribble on a piece of scrap paper. Ideas are begging to come to life but they need wiling participants to take on the task of expressing them in some way. The question is, are we up for it?

Let the Fire Burn

“This fire will not burn you, it will only burn what you are not.” -Mooji

1233606_10102862257200521_751509940_nSunset on 9/15/13, Honolulu, HI

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to engage in a wonderful discussion about betrayal on a Twitter chat community called Lead from Within (#leadfromwithin). The discussion was incredibly thought-provoking and encouraged me to deeply reflect and even challenge the most common views of betrayal. During the chat, we were asked to define and reflect on what it meant to be betrayed. Many defined betrayal as a feeling that is evoked when someone violates our trust or intentionally harms us using deceptive methods. We were then asked to discuss whether relationships can be salvaged despite experiencing betrayal and if so, what are the steps to overcoming betrayal in order to trust again?

As a result of this week’s discussion as well as my own experiences with betrayal, I’d like to take a moment to gently challenge the way most of us look at this concept. You may find that this post is quite similar to the one I previously wrote about trust but I believe the ideas are worth revisiting (link to post on trust).

I believe this is a perfect opportunity to use the first question from Byron Katie’s inquiry process that she calls “the Work.” Is it true that someone can betray us? My response to this question is no. Why you ask? Because I’m under the impression that it is in fact we who are betraying ourselves or our beliefs that are betraying us. We feel betrayed when people do not live up to our expectations or the story we have about them but who says anyone has to live up to our expectations? We write scripts in our head about others’ roles and get angry at them when they decide to act differently. These stories and scripts that we create are in fact the very source of our distress. When we rigidly hold onto our ideas about how someone should or should not be, we easily set ourselves up for experiencing disappointment, betrayal, abandonment, you name it!

So what do we do, live without expectations and let people treat us any kind of way? No, not at all. Releasing our expectations does not imply that we cannot have personal boundaries and/or consequences for someone violating our boundaries. Personally, I am a huge advocate for boundaries and creating an environment that feels comfortable for you. If you don’t like to be lied to, by all means create a personal boundary for appropriately managing being in such a situation but until you are in that situation, it is simply not realistic to expect someone not to lie or to expect them to lie. Either way, we are making assumptions and living in our heads instead of operating in the present moment, where life is actually happening.

I bet we can save ourselves from unnecessary suffering by examining our self-created stories instead of running around like they’re the law. Let the fire burn away all that is unreal. What do you think? Is it true? 😉

Self-Reflective Questions:

  • What expectations do you have in your interpersonal relationships and how do these expectations impact the quality of your relationships?
  • What happens to you (what is your experience) when someone does not live up to your expectations?
  • Are your expectations true?
  • How would our lives change if we believed that the people that elicit anxiety, frustration, fear, betrayal, abandonment and other feelings are actually providing us an opportunity to come back to awareness?
  • Is it possible for you to appreciate someone who you feel has “betrayed” or “abandoned” you? If so, what steps can you take to appreciate them?
  • How can you maintain personal boundaries while relinquishing expectations of others?

Mahalo for reading! Wishing you all infinite peace!