Ever-present Light

Light

Sunrise on April 1, 2015 on Sandy Beach

We live in a world full of illusions, which if taken too seriously, contribute to suffering and the forgetting of knowledge that comes naturally. One such illusion is the idea that the sun goes down and rises up again each day. Many believe that the sun is actually going down and “taking a break” for the night hours until the morning. This is an illusion. The sun knows no such thing as a “break,” it is always shining brightly regardless of what’s going on in our atmosphere or where we are as we orbit around it. No matter what, the sun shines.

In moments when we forget the sun is always shining, we believe we are alone, left to suffer. We even begin to believe the sun has abandoned us altogether. We personalize its decision to leave and lose hope on our journey, choosing to merely exist instead of enjoying our lives. But the reality is that the sun is shining, it is always shining. The light is here, now. And even though most of us know the appearance of the sun rising and setting is an illusion, we tend to forget the illusions related to other matters. The truth is, we have the ability to stop getting trapped in illusions and allowing them to dictate our quality of life. We can choose to play in the illusions, which is actually quite enjoyable or simply recognize them for what they are and continue to enjoy our lives while having a deep knowing of what is true.

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. 😉

Intentions and Behaviors

Turtle Bay is one of the spots we love to visit.

Turtle Bay is one of the spots my love and I enjoy visiting.

How often do we look to see whether our behaviors are in alignment with our intentions? Although I used to say that my relationship with my partner was my number one priority, energetically and behaviorally, my priority was work and my business. More often than not, I allowed work to consume the majority of my time and energy throughout each day. I would even allow work to be the dominating topic during conversations with my partner, until one day I realized, it simply didn’t feel good nor did it make sense. If I’m claiming that my relationship with my partner is my number one priority, then why was so little of my energy going to our relationship?

I was out of alignment. My intention was to make my relationship number one but that intention did not find its way down to my behaviors, at least not until things began to feel bad. And that’s how it sometimes goes with us humans, it’s not until we suffer that we really start to become conscious of what’s going on, which is why I believe, pain is a gift. The pain led me to wake up and see the disconnect between my intention and behaviors. Once I became aware and was able to feel the consequences of my choices, I was then able to truly make my relationship a priority in my life.

The truth is intention is not enough, our actions must match. Many times, we do not realize that we’re saying one thing but doing another. Fortunately, I no longer take for granted my partner’s loving and patient attitude, and I recognize that it is my responsibility to walk my talk.

Mahalo for reading! May you experience infinite peace and blessings!

Blameless Responsibility

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I am continuously amazed by the mind’s craftiness and ability to create such convincing theatrics and stories. What’s more interesting is how easy it is to get swept into these stories and undoubtedly believe them to be true. Admittedly, it’s easier to be consumed by the mind’s stories because we can justify our reactive behaviors (attacks, gossiping, and judgments), relinquish our responsibility for our own inner peace, and remain the victim. Blaming others is instantly gratifying because we are allowed to cling to our comfort zones and fully convince ourselves that we were wronged.

On the other hand, taking a closer look at the mind’s stories requires taking responsibility and letting go of our justifications and excuses for reactive behaviors. It also requires questioning some of the things we have believed most of our lives, which can be frightening. In a sense, being responsible also means being vulnerable, which is a skill most of us have long forgotten how to do and yet both skills are the very things that set us free. We are bound to the vicious cycle of reactivity as long as we allow false stories to dictate our lives. The good news is that at any point, we can assume responsibility and reclaim our freedom.

Every Moment Matters

Sunset 1-10-15

Yesterday, when I snapped the photo above, a driver of a jeep (going about 35 mph) hit a cyclist. After hearing the loud noise, I turned around to see pieces of metal flying. Initially, I thought the jeep’s tire exploded but then I saw the driver and the passenger get out of the vehicle and rush to the front of the car, looking at the ground in shock. Immediately, I knew they had hit someone. My assumptions were confirmed as an ambulance arrived on the scene and the EMT workers put the cyclist on the gurney. The bike was upside down, seemingly stuck under the jeep. In just a flash (literally, a shutter flash), lives were instantly changed.

Witnessing the accident served as a reminder that every moment matters. Our lives can be taken at any time. We are not going to live in human form forever. There will be a day when our lives as we know it will cease to exist. Knowing that our time here is limited makes me incredibly appreciative of the experiences I’ve had and it also makes me more encouraged to take action on the things I want to do before passing. Our time here is precious and I choose to see that as a beautiful blessing and a loving reminder to live fully.

Please keep all those involved in the accident in your thoughts.

Reflections & Intentions

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As 2015 rapidly approaches, I’ve taken the past month to reflect on 2014 and set my intentions for the new year. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the past year:

1. Trust the process and most importantly trust myself. Most of the time, my intuition is spot on about what I need to do. Despite knowing this, there have been many times this year where I have talked my way out of listening to my intuition, particularly in regards to my business. I find that it is easy to succumb to doubtful thoughts when it comes to the Aloha Center. I convince myself that people do not really need healing and perhaps by having a business in the personal development industry, I am contributing to the problem. On one hand, that is absolutely true, at the core, we are all perfectly fine, and our greatest challenge is that we have simply forgotten who we truly are and confused our identities with this temporary existence. However, on the other hand, it is incredibly helpful to have supportive individuals along the way who can be hold up the mirror so that we can see ourselves clearly. Although I believe that our spirit does not need development, navigating the world with the temporary identities we choose to create can be challenging particularly if we have forgotten who we truly are.

Our suffering is unnecessary and many go through this life feeling stuck. As such, my original vision for the Aloha Center was to provide a supportive space and to serve as a reminder of who we are and what matters most in life (love). As we come to the end of 2014, I recognize the value in the services I provide and intend to go forward with my original vision, no longer allowing doubts to cloud my vision.

2. Enjoy the process. This year, I learned the importance of enjoying the process instead of focusing purely on the outcome. Racing to accomplish achievement after achievement is not for me. While it may work for some, I prefer taking time to enjoy the steps along the way during my attempts to achieve a particular goal. Life feels much more fulfilling when I  embrace the moments along the way on the path to an “achievement.”

3. Balance surrendering versus being proactive. There are definitely some things we simply must surrender to while there are other circumstances in which being proactive and selective makes more sense. Being selective about how and where I choose to direct my energy and attention has been incredibly helpful. Remembering that I do have the power to shift my attention and redirect my energy has greatly enhanced my experiences and made me feel less like a leaf in a stream and more like a paddler in a stream, who can elect to go with the flow of the stream but can also choose to paddle at will. Discernment of when to surrender is perhaps the most important component of this lesson.

Here are some of my intentions for 2015:

1. Recognize when I’m allowing doubts and fears to dictate my actions. The mind is such a crafty instrument that I usually don’t recognize when I’m allowing my fears to take over until I’m knee-deep in my thoughts. I intend to be more vigilant and do more check-ins throughout the day. I notice that this happens most when I’m not grounded, so more mindfulness throughout the day will likely help with this.

2. Be open to receiving. I realized this year that I struggle with receiving, particularly financially. I intend to stop sabotaging my financial success by being open to receiving and by unpacking my beliefs and programming about money, which really is just energy.

3. Align my actions with my intentions. I have such great intentions yet sometimes I notice my behavior is not in alignment with my intentions. This is particularly salient during interactions with my wonderful partner. One question that has helped me tremendously is “how do I want my partner to feel?” Remembering this question in the moment helps me to respond genuinely and lovingly as opposed to reactionary. Although this is directly related to my first intention, it deserves its own number because my relationships are such a high priority in my life.

4. Know that every moment is a new beginning. While these year reviews are helpful, the reality is we always have an opportunity to start again every moment. We can reset at any time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my reflections and intentions. I’m wishing you a joyous, prosperous, and love-filled 2015! May you and your loved ones experience peace and infinite blessings!

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?

Life Savers

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“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” -Eckhart Tolle

Traveling through this life journey can present us with many challenges as we peel away the layers of baggage and data we have stored. Letting go of the baggage and releasing the need to cling to our safety nets can leave us feeling vulnerable and fearful but fortunately for us, we are supported throughout this process. The speed bumps we hit in life are guides, reminding us to slow down and really look at who we are. The situations we label as challenging are actually calls to awareness, showing us where we are still clinging and resistant. In hindsight, we are often able to appreciate such moments and recognize how they presented themselves precisely at the “right time.”

When we recognize these so-called challenging moments for exactly what they are, the invaluable opportunity to free ourselves from erroneous beliefs unfolds. As we let go of these beliefs, we are able to lighten up our load and travel more fearlessly through this life. Perhaps if we must label these situations, we can label them “life savers.” ☺

Happy travels!

Just Let Go

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“Learn to let go without struggle, simply let go, to be just as you are – no holding on, no attachment, free.” -Ajahn Chah

The past few weeks, more often than not, I have felt uneasy. Whenever I am reminded of love, calmness washes over me, but even those moments have been quite fleeting and have had a temporary effect. Last Wednesday, I went to an active insight meditation group and participated in something called Latihan. During the Latihan, we are instructed to freely express whatever arises, whether it be verbal sensations or other movements. Much to my surprise, almost immediately upon doing the Latihan, I received an internal message that said “LET GO!” It continued, “it is not about YOU” and lastly “surrender NOW.” The information was so clear that I had no further questions.  Suddenly, an incredible bliss took over my body and I was smiling from ear to ear. Gradually, sadness appeared, because I knew what it all meant. I had to fully let go of everything: The story of Candace, Candace’s achievements, Candace this, Candace that, needing to be in control, etc. The over-attachment and over-identification to “Candace” (also known as “me”) had to end. I knew in that moment that until I fully let go, I would continue to experience dis-ease.

While I have studied and read many essays about surrendering (my favorite is Bob O’Hearn’s essay), I realized in that moment that I had never actually surrendered, completely, there were always remnants of over-identification lingering (Knowledge means little if we are not applying it fully and consistently). This time, it was clear that not only did I need to completely surrender, but also surrendering is a continuous process that I must do moment-to-moment. Surrendering (at least in my experience) is not a one -time event, it’s something that has to be done repeatedly and consistently. Even after having such a profound experience during Latihan, the very next day, I slipped right back into my habits of feeling like I needed to have control. It wasn’t until I went to the beach (photo aboved) that I received another message similar to the first “SURRENDER!” that I let go again.

I’m reminded of a childhood moment where I was swinging upside down on the monkey bars after school and was ready to get off of them but was utterly terrified to let go. My father kept saying “just let go, Dace, just let go!” I held onto the monkey bars for dear life and suddenly “plop!” I fell to the ground. I hadn’t let go, my legs got tired and threw me from the bars. When I landed, I was shocked that my legs got so tired so quickly but more importantly because all the pain that I anticipated would come from landing wasn’t present at all. Just let go! 🙂

Mahalo for reading! May you experience infinite peace and blessings!

Responsibility

“There is no such thing as “out there,” all that appears to be going on out in the world is actually going on within me. Therefore, peace begins with me.” – paraphrasing of a statement originally made by Dr. Hew Len

“He made me angry.” “She made me upset.” “It’s their fault! They make me sick.” These are all common phrases. The similarities across each of these statements is the release of responsibility. When we blame others, we simultaneously relinquish our ability to change our attitude, our perceptions, and our experiences. Additionally, we slip further into the illusion that someone other than ourselves is responsible for our inner peace and for what’s going on in the world. We are responsible for our peace at all times regardless of what may appear to be going on externally. I’d like to emphasize that we are also responsible for the world as it is today.

Yes, it may temporarily feel good to blame our parents or the government but again there is no one to blame. We are not victims, we are responsible. Taking responsibility is perhaps the first step in recognizing who we truly are. When we acknowledge the truth embedded in the ancient Egyptian phrase “as above, so below, as within, so without,” we can begin to see more clearly and act accordingly. Our programming (memories, emotional responses, and collective agreements) suggests that there is something “out there” but what happens when we look again at what we’ve been taught? Might it be that we are completely responsible and if so how does that change the way we operate in the world?

Mahalo for reading! May you all experience infinite peace and blessings!