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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Inhaling and Exhaling

Breathing is necessary in order to sustain our corporeal existence. Inhaling and exhaling, over and over. The average human takes 12 breaths per minute which comes out to 17,280 each day. This doesn’t factor in times of exercise. It is something that most people do without even thinking about it, unless they are subject to respiratory conditions. At age four, I was diagnosed with asthma. It was not generally exercised induced, but rather, would sneak up on me when I experienced emotional stress, or with no obvious precipitant. That was when my parents would help me to calm down and rest until my galloping lungs could catch up; it was called ‘stridorous breathing'; with a raspy, wheezy sound. At night, when the breathing got even more precipitous, my mother would take me into the bathroom and turn on the shower as we would take in steam until my lungs would be more receptive to air. She would sing and talk to me to ease things. That went on for several years and improved when our family doc recommended swimming as a way of expanding my lung capacity. I joined a swim team and that became part of my joy as I competed from ages 11-18 and then coached for the following three summers.

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Since I have found that nothing happens in isolation, I notice a parallel between my ability to give and receive love and support and my ability to take in and release air. We are relational beings who, unless we live in a cave all by ourselves, need to interact with and rely on others for our survival and growth. For some, it is easier to give and for others, to receive. In order for a complete cycle to take place, we do need to engage in both activities. I had become accustomed to being a giver; believing on some level, in the proverbial “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” What I had come to recognize is that it is easier and somehow safer to give, since when you are in that role, you are in charge. You get to decide how much, what, to whom you give. When you are the receiver, it places you in a vulnerable position, since you are at the mercy of another’s whim. It also occurs to me, that there is a tinge of vulnerability on the giver’s part, since it is possible that the prospective recipient may not want what we are offering. I am learning to be both a generous giver and gracious receiver.

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Back to the breathing analogy. My pattern was to have difficulty exhaling, rather than inhaling. I rarely breathed out completely; fearing that I wouldn’t be able to take in another one. There wasn’t a conscious fear of death. More beneath the surface going on. I would hold on, rather than let go. That has been another pattern. Not quite able to surrender to the ebb and flow and natural progression of life. A need to control outcome, which has proven outrageously difficult. We never know what we will face and when we attempt to grab hold and hold on, it is like water that drips through our clenched fingers. It is when we hold experiences in an open, cupped hand and the breath that sustains us in naturally expanding and contracting lungs, then we live full out. I love the word inspire which comes from Middle English enspire, from Old French inspirer, from Latin inspirare ‘breathe or blow into,’ from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe.’ The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone.’

I call myself an ‘inspirista’ and love the idea of being breathed by the Divine.

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Love Is All I Am

Lately, the Muse has been waking me up long around 4 a.m. Not sure why, but when that happens, I know it is important to take dictation. And so I do. A name came through first- Tyler Goldsmith. He is the lead singer for one of my favorite folk/rock groups called Dawes. Then the words “Love is all I am,” followed. Not a new concept to me and I use it often as a reminder of our true identity, beyond appearances of anything remotely different that we might believe about ourselves. There must be some reason, I pondered, that this came through so loud and clear this morning. It kept tumbling through my mind until I walked into the kitchen and through blurred eyes, wrote them on the white board on the wall. Someone needs to see it. I needed to write it.

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Many spiritual traditions teach us that we are sinful, flawed, imperfect. How, I wonder, if we perceive God, by whatever name we invoke Spirit, as perfect and complete, whole and holy loving  and we are made in It’s Image, can we be anything BUT that? A conversation arose this week while I was at ACIM- A Course in Miracles Study Group at my friend Nancy Nagle’s shop called Nangellini that religions tell us we need to jump through hoops, follow teachings, do all of these rituals, say all of these prayers, with the idea of experiencing heaven/redemption ….. what have you and STILL never quite get there. What’s that about?  In my mind, it is about earthly control, not heavenly hosts singing hallelujah. It is fear based and not love infused.

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After easing back to peaceful slumber with that thought as my blanket, I awoke a few hours later, inspired to write this. I listened to the Dawes song by that name and share it with you as a wakeup call to carry you through your day. May we all overcome our spiritual amnesia as we know for certain that love is all we are.

 

“Love Is All I Am”

 

I need a silent, true way to admire,
like you as a sunset and I as a wildfire.
And I can’t let the day go.I’ve locked up these words in fear that I’d say them wrong.
Is it love as a mountain, or love as a simple song?
And the moment that the two meet
has now laid itself at your feet.And love is not convenient.
It does not cease at your command.
You might take and leave it,
but love is all I am.
Love is all I am.

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I need a boundless, soft way to commend,
like you as a temper and I as its tender end.
And however long your fits last,
I will live within your shadow cast.

And love is still your stranger.
It does not respect how much you’ll stand.
You might be love’s reminder,
but love is all I am.
Love is all I am.

I need a graceful, proud way to let go,
to smile and accept the things that you don’t know.
The losses and the gains blurred
the weight of these as last words.

And love is not excitement.
It’s not kissing or holding hands.
I’m not some assignment,
no, love is all I am.
Love is all I am.
Love is all I am.

 

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Leap of Faith in the Face of Doubt

In the past few months, I have become increasingly aware of the power of spiritual practice to keep the rudder on my ‘ship of dreams’ guiding me steady on, so that I don’t run it ashore. Just when I think I can be complacent and  refrain from keeping a watchful eye on the direction it is going, an iceberg pops up in my line of sight. Remembering that the tip isn’t what sank the Titanic, but rather what was under the surface that the captain didn’t see, I take a look at what lies beneath my own water line. Is it fear, anger, frustration, doubt, self sabotage, exhaustion, judgment, or over-doing it in some area? Am I taking offense at something said by another, or not said that I would like to hear?  Is it feeling put-upon, rather than taking a step back and kindly and lovingly declining a request?  All of this is ‘normal people stuff’ that in the past would have seemed inconceivable that I would have the right and willingness to change.

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I also face the remnants of co-dependent caregiving in one pivotal relationship in my life.  Daily, I take my own inventory and recognize where I may be overcompensating for choices I made in the past, that unless I can turn back the clock, ain’t nuthin’ I can do about that now. When in the midst of sleepless angst over it, I heard the loud and clear Voice that has comforted me throughout other such tossing and turning mental meanderings that asked “How much do you trust Me to handle this?” “Alright,” I sighed. “I forgot that I don’t need to carry this myself. You’ve got my back,” and clearly that of the other person. With any addictive cycle, as the person in question, has with repetitive negative thoughts, I ‘didn’t cause it, can’t control it and can’t cure it.’ My own addiction dovetails and needs to be separated out from the mix. Once I allowed it to sink in, I was able to drift off to dreamland.

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What assures me that all is in Divine Order is a series of reunions with people from my past, each carrying a gift that I needed most at the time. A friend from my twenties reached out in the past year to symbolically ‘re-write a script’ that neither of us liked all that much, but brought with it, major lessons. The stories I was telling myself about our interactions back then was that I had no choice in how it went down and I carried resentments that simmered under the surface. There are always two parties in every dance, sometimes stepping on each others’ toes, sometimes gliding gracefully. As we speak these days, both of us take responsibility and laugh with delight at how far we have come. How freeing.

The second was last weekend when I serendipitously and ever so briefly physically crossed paths with a friend with whom there are some tangles of loose ends, but whose ‘thought form’ hovers about from time to time, since the connection is so cosmically coordinated. With that recent encounter, the gift was reinforcement of how powerful our thoughts are, as well as the question of timing, or inevitability. What I had asked  in a previous Bliss Blog entry was about whether the stars were aligned on that day that had all of the tumblers clicking into place so we would show up at that same moment in time.

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The third is a fun and exploratory re-establishment friendship with someone from high school. We have watched each other’s lives unfolding via the marvels of modern technology and the phenom of Facebook and finally, after three decades, met up yesterday when he was passing through the area. Marveling at the winding path, beginning with different family of origin dynamics, we are finding ourselves at the same place psycho-spiritually. Shaking my head in amusement that that the ways I felt about my place in the adolescent drama of high school, were some of the ways he felt. Hard to imagine at first. One of our conversations was about the dynamics that occur when one is soaring through the air as ‘the daring young man on the flying trapeze,’ as he has been over the years in his career. I have used that as a metaphor for letting go and trusting. I asked him how it really feels in those few seconds between releasing one swing while reaching out for the other. I don’t recall the exact word, but it seems like it was along the lines of ‘thrilling’ or ‘exhilarating’. He commented that what happens in between those two trapeze swings is ‘a leap of faith’. I asked about precautions and he assured me that a harness and safety net are both present.

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Returning to my original thought of letting go in complete trust that the God of my Understanding has my back and those of every being on the planet. For me, All That Is, or as my friend Tom refers to as ATI (pronounced Ah-tee) doesn’t make things happen or allow things to happen, but in co-coordination with us in our free will choices, is the safety net, harness, anchor, comfort and strength that helps us both in the open ocean or narrow channels we traverse.

These days, I’m lovin’ every minute of living and allowing the adventure to continue.

 

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Loving and Letting Go

As it always does, the Universe brings me messages when I most need them and least want them. I imagine it is so for you as well. Yesterday I was writing an article for my full time job with the title Are Therapists Ever Off Duty?  In it, I expressed the dilemma that counselors have in being off the clock. The expectation is that they have the answers for people’s issues and the resources to meet their needs at all hours, day or night. It is especially tricky if the one requesting is a loved one in whom we have a deeply vested interest. The additional challenge is the sometimes complicated dynamics in various relationships between the two parties. That was my experience within moments of completing the article and sending it off to my editor.

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Someone close to me is struggling with the way their life is unfolding. This is a long standing issue and one that I have attempted to assist with for years. They see life as one step forward and two steps back. Fears of things never getting better, despite progress made. When something does unfold in a positive direction, conscious or unconscious sabotage sometimes kicks in.  I’m no saint and have certainly contributed to some of the mess in the relationship AND I can only live out my part and not take on the other person’s choices and emotions that are wound around it. The push-pull expectation is that I NOT play therapist AND having them want me to tap into my well of knowledge and experience and solve the dilemmas and then having them feel abandoned when I set boundaries. This challenges me mightily.

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One thing I recalled this morning as I contemplate this, is something I knew but was reinforced in a training I took a few months ago on trauma and PTSD. Given people’s histories and experiences, it would be expected that they would hold certain beliefs and take certain actions in response to current life events.

So, where does a spiritually oriented therapist with a strong desire and investment in this person’s wellbeing turn in order to sleep last night and to be of support and yet, not enable, or practice ‘savior behavior,’ thinking I have all the answers?  She turned it over and asked for all manner of celestial support from the God of her understanding, angels and ancestors who are all rooting for this person. I just kept repeating that I see this person healed, whole and healthy and that they will see their way clear to a positive outcome.  I can only surrender outcome and trust that the Highest Good will unfold.

 

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Inhaling and Exhaling
Breathing is necessary in order to sustain our corporeal existence. Inhaling and exhaling, over and over. The average human takes 12 breaths per minute which comes out to 17,280 each day. This doesn't factor in times of exercise. It is something that most people do without even thinking about it, un

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