Waking Up To The Change

IMG_2570You wake up and its another day. Its beautiful, fresh, alive and a new start. Yet, you can sense the zombies out there, just beyond the fence. The asteroid approaching. The other shoe about to drop on the landing, the economy or the environment. Our egostasis is threatened and we gear up for battle, even as our hearts begin to soar. This odd dissonance between holding on and jumping off is the best of times and the worst of times.

Or, perhaps more accurately, it is the next of times. Liminal times. Changing templates of time. And, as uncomfortable as it is, these moments may be the perfect time to wake up and drop IN to our life. The key to understanding times of flux, when our view is skewed by fear of change, is to find balance and learn to ride the wave.  In order to do this, we have to find a strong, but flexible, stance and protect ourselves without defending our territory.  We need to know that as important as we are in the movie of our life, the movie is, ultimately, not about us. The movie of our life is created by shifting pictures that give the illusion of consistency. In fact, the defining theme of our movie is, well, movement. Change. And while each change demands an adjustment, its our nature to reagin balance and poise. But, then we grow roots and begin to cling. We are driven to create a nest protected from danger. The problem is, once invested in establishing the nest, we are reluctant to leave when the time comes.  But nests are, by definition, temporary. They are landing pads on our journey through life.

Yet, once we identify with the nest, we find it hard to let go. When we take ownership of the protective patterns we weave, they become more important than the life they are supporting. We dig in and foster an identity rooted in our neighborhood, home or friends. This happens with the places we live, but we also in the ways we think and the things we believe. We weave nests of thought and behavior in order to cloak ourselves in a protective robes of “ME”. We grip to this sense of ourselves with a tenacity that strangles the life from our life. Each time we are forced to leap, we feel the need to gather all our baggage for the trip. And, when we get there, we see how much stuff we don’t need.  As Stephen Wright said, “You don’t know what you’ve got until you have to move it.” All at once, our baggage defines us. We have become the burden we carry.

That’s why meditation master Chogyam Trungpa likened the psychological nest we create to a cocoon. Its an identity forged of patterns and reactions that we create to navigate a changing world.  Yet, each nest leads only to flight. Or, should. The only thing more painful than leaving the nest is refusing to leave the nest.  Remember that wonderful quote by Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” In fact, the nest like, a womb or cocoon would become poisonous should the birth not occur.

Once we wake up, we see that our nest is actually a next. The ground of  our evolution. It is the next stage jettisoned. And while that moment of release is exhilarating, the moments before can agonizingly provoke our deepest defense systems. Even as we see the new dawn, we are pulled by the undertow to the perceived safety of stasis in our cocoons.Yet its these moments of change that are so bright, so clear, so crisp and new. When we think back on our lives, the times we recall are likely to have been challenging.  I’m not sure how much we remember that pizza, the beer or that pint of ice cream that seemed to compelling, unless we had them after a mountain hike, camping in the cold, or during a winter storm.So, if the movie of our life is not about us it is still OUR life. And, the irony is, by gripping to that life, we actually lose our ability to be part of it. The secret is to know that it is the best of times and the worst of times, the nesting time and time to fly. Stasis and change are part of the systolic and diastolic rhythm of creation. And creation is change. When we are aligned with that, we engage our warrior heart, fully awake to the danger and the joy. If we refuse to hurt, we refuse to love. if we diminish ourselves in fear, we diminish our ability to feel. If we fight the change, we limit our ability to land on our feet.

So, from a meditators point of view, we are talking about balance. And each time we fall, we learn from the fall. Each time we lose, we gain the next thing. And in this way, we live forever. If we let go of our life – and our self importance – and allow life to guide us, then we are part of the change of time and space that has always been. We are linked to the eternal. We are part of something so much bigger than our comfort. That is our Warrior heart. A heart strong enough to care for those in need. A heart brave enough to face the changes with dignity and poise.

Welcoming the Wood Sheep

We’re well into winter. Its becoming brighter and colder. There is a confluence of energies as the days getting longer bringing a sense of hope and newness, as the temperature stubbornly clings, even drops in defiance. The old year grudgingly moving on, as a new one takes its place.  The tides of time.
And this brackish plane is at once unsettling and invigorating. Losar, the Tibetan new year, is Thursday. The energetic yang of the wood horse, succeeded by the gentle nurturing yin of the wood sheep. Our building has come to roost and rest. Its a time of creativity and family. Time to open to our experience with warmth and forgiveness.

The weeks preceding the new year are, by tradition, considered to be the energetic culmination of the passing year. This intermediate phase – or bardo, in Tibetan –  is a strange and dangerous time. Our defenses become compromised by these shifting seasonal, emotional and energetic templates. Its akin to the early morning, or late afternoon, liminal phases when our sensitivity is heightened and we become more receptive. Its considered a mystical time because of our receptivity. Its also considered a dangerous time. As the shifting exposes gaps in our defenses, we become open to any number of influences. We are more impressionable and vulnerable.

The best protection is awareness; paying attention to how we feel, what we are doing and applying precision to the details of our life.  It is naturally a time of conscientious prudence and reserve. But prudence is difficult when we are longing to fill our frozen hearts with carbs and wine, trying to find that serotonin buzz. But, temporary fixes only serve to swing the system wildly, exhausting us finally, into sadness and depression. It is important, instead, to maintain a stout body mind balance with exercise, long walks and meditation practice. The Tibetans talk of rousing “Lungta” – or windhorse – our inner life energy. The appropriate way to rouse windhorse is to open up to our experience and reduce the resistance and allow inner and outer movement to occur naturally. Flowing like water, we take the path of least resistance, filling up every crevice and valley. It is not aboutexaggerating the energy, or cranking anything up. To the contrary, windhorse is best cultivated by relaxing into our body so our life energy evens out and we are able to open into our experience with clarity and poise.

Our life force energy is already there. The work is simply to release blockages and re-align the system.  In this way, our “lungta” is sustainable.  It flows gently through us like a warm river on a frozen morning.Its February. We will be slower, stiffer and more cranky. That’s how the world is on the extreme latitudes. There’s no need to fight that constriction. Instead, we can relax into the flow of the coming spring, gently opening to our experience and perhaps open a new (or old) book.

So, welcome to the year of the WOOD SHEEP where warmth and safety is the culmination of your hard work.


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