Spiritual Seeking…the darker side Part 1

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In the spiritual circles there’s lots of talk about the ways of seeking for truth, love, naturalness. In a climate of what I perceive as a lot of new age hype, coping mechanisms and manipulation I often wonder how open are we to sharing & bringing awareness to the challenges & darker side of Spiritual Seeking? You know the part where it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and where the beauty of life can easily get eaten up by the incessant clambering to be somewhere other than where we are. When it comes to more traditional spiritual paths people are quick to judge the ways new age spirituality can actually cause more damage than good – but I don’t hear so many talking about the damage that can be caused by the obsessive search for enlightenment.

Enlightenment for me is to simply shine light upon life. It’s not some mystical magical faraway destination to arrive at. But for many years I didn’t know that – I thought it was somewhere I had to work really hard to get to. In the interest of wanting to encourage, inspire and focus on what’s truly important I’ve not shared much about my experience on the darker side of spiritual seeking but as I’ve reflected on all the crazy shit I’ve done in the last 10 years in the name of ‘finding myself’ I thought it was time to share a little more.

I love life & make a real effort to focus on the beauty & grace but I have also suffered immensely over the years of seeking. There were the moments where life didn’t quite go to plan – divorce, death, projects ending, breakups & a gazillion other experiences that broke my heart. But these are a part of being human and suffering is optional. Where suffering really came to life for me was every time I thought I wasn’t where I should be spiritually, mentally, emotionally – when I watched the inner peace I longed for slip out of my reach. In these times I felt like a failure on my spiritual path – in my head I thought if I was doing it ‘right’ I wouldn’t be feeling the pain & discomfort of broken relationships, a hurt heart or the loss of a dream. I developed a wonderful habit of comparing myself against the textbooks, the spiritual teachers and the stories of my fellow seekers, finding all the ways I wasn’t quite ‘there’ yet – wherever there is!

But that was a misunderstanding on my part – a fairytale that developed somewhere along the lines that life would be nothing but pure bliss if I just did the ‘work’ I needed to do to transcend my human conditioning. What a load of crap! Life is pain and pleasure – both equal parts of our human experience – the yin and the yang – neither right nor wrong, better or worse – just simple parts of the duality of life.

It’s not the pain & discomfort of life that creates suffering – it’s the resistance to allowing the pain to be there. The second arrow as Tara Brach calls it. That arrow you shoot into your own heart – if it’s not bad enough that life didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped – now add to that the angst of self judgement, self loathing & self criticism for not being where you think you should be.

Can we experience pain & discomfort without suffering – absolutely – but only through acceptance rather than pushing, love rather than judgement. And I genuinely believe a commitment to gentleness, compassion & kindness needs to be the first thing we cultivate on our path. Otherwise the odds are really good that we’ll end up substituting suffering for suffering.

And this is where I want to get real and share more of my own journey – I transitioned from suffering in the stress & depression of my corporate & married life to suffering in my resistance of my so called failings on the spiritual path.

In 2012 I stumbled into spiritual enquiry a little by accident – fed up with superficial connections I craved for something but I didn’t know what it was. I started out super green, super curious, super open, super naive and super desperate for radical change after some post divorce fun but seemingly aimless travels.

I had my first real taste of freedom during a plant medicine journey & a silent meditation retreat. I felt like I was seeing life through fresh eyes & I wanted more. I spent years jumping from spiritual experience to spiritual experience – the intense out of the body kind. Everywhere I looked someone promised they had found the key to real healing & awakening to our truth. And I wanted to believe them, I really really wanted it to be true because I wanted my suffering to end. I was motivated and had money in my bank account so I tried everything on the smorgasbord of spirituality that resonated with me.

I attempted to transcend the ickyness of my human messiness so I could know freedom permanently. I experienced moments of blissful but elusive states of pure awareness & consciousness. I dabbled in all the things I could to alter my state – plant medicines, dark retreats, psychedelics, silent retreats, sacred sexuality, fasting, meditation & cult community living. Embracing the many dark nights of the soul that arose  – purging, cleansing, letting go all the things I believed stopped me from being in a constant state of bliss.

I took my path as spiritual seeker seriously and I went hard at it for 7 years. Full time non stop – this was my job, hobby, relationship & purpose for life. I spent every cent I had (in excess of $150,000!) because once I tasted freedom the suffering that came when I was caught in lower states was excruciating – my desperation for freedom grew and my search became habitual. I became addicted to the experience – experience junkie as a teacher once put it. In hindsight I now understand my nervous system was so completely fried from all the experiences I hadn’t integrated that I was in an almost constant state of overwhelm and just doing whatever I could to try and feel safe again.

A kidney infection in Guatemala & appendix removal in India slowed me down a little but even once I staggered home to Perth the intensity continued. Searching for somewhere I could unravel completely I knew I needed to rest, I knew I needed to stop but that was no longer something I knew how to do. The only thing that seemed natural to me was to keep searching, so I found myself inside a community that poked and prodded every day at the edges of wounds and unconsciousness. So desperate for a place to belong and to feel safe I stayed even though it was the furthest from resting I could possibly have found. I resisted every step of the way never able to fully surrender or trust the teacher – in my heart I knew this wasn’t the path for me but the promise of community and freedom had me stay for 9 months, short in comparison to some of the other residents who had been there for 10+ years but long enough for me to reach a new low point in my life.

Physically unwell, emotionally unstable and financially beyond broke I was miserable and I’d isolated myself from anything outside of the community including all the people and things in life I loved and that were important to me. I started to see the way trauma in others was being pushed to it’s edges in the name of healing and how counter it was to my belief in the feminine way of healing. I realised I was actually traumatising myself on this quest to purify my human messiness (more in my next post on this!). I was making myself sick pushing, poking, prodding every day of my life – and putting myself in situations where others also pushed & poked & prodded all of my apparent wounds so I could ‘transcend’ them and be of greater service.

Where was the self compassion, the gentleness, the kindness? Where was the patience & trust that life would unfold in her own time & that if I had wounds that needed to heal they would unravel & heal in the their own time. It was time for the shadow hunting, ego destroying, encountering, judging & shaming to stop. And I walked away from the community, a little shell shocked and unsure of where to go but blessed to be held by gentle loving hearts.

A willingness came to slow things down & feel how over frazzled my nervous system was & an understanding landed that I had been practicing the very opposite of self love – letting shame, unworthiness and my inner critic run amok. I had failed to acknowledge how sensitive I was and that the last thing I needed was to be opened up energetically – what I really needed was to ground, draw awareness back in and land back in my body. From this point on compassion, kindness & self love took on new meaning and a new resolve to not force change or give my power away to anyone who told me they would heal me, save me, fix me or knew what I needed better than me. In essence this was the moment where I genuinely began to slow down and trust myself.

I stopped the incessant workshop, retreat & spiritual teacher merry-go round I’d been on and began listening more to my intuition. I listened to the wisdom of my heart & it’s sensitivity, gentleness and craving for slowness and I began to focus on my strengths instead of just pulling apart perceived weaknesses.

I’m grateful for the lessons & I deeply value the tools I’ve accumulated over the years but holy shit I’m very clear it’s not necessary to walk such an intense path to live a life of love and connection – which is really all I’ve ever wanted. And as a highly sensitive person the constant out of body or intense energetic experiences did nothing but destabilise my sensitive nervous system – making it harder for me to ground and be present in the here and now.

So if you have ever attended an event or circle with me & wonder why we take things so slowly & gently & why I’m not encouraging big cathartic releases or out of body experiences this is it. I encourage you to stay in your body, here and now because I think what many of us more sensitive folk need more than anything is to learn to arrive here, land in our bodies and love every piece of ourselves exactly as we are – embracing life as it is – this is unconditional love 💛

I believe the greatest gift we can give ourselves & each other is acceptance of where we are. If you are a seeker and you love the out of body experiences & intense journeying please know I mean no judgement on the path you walk. I speak only for my own path as a highly sensitive person who has now spent 2 years unravelling layers of re-traumatised trauma – contentedly embracing gentleness, slowness & self compassion.

Photo: Antigua, Guatemala 2012, fresh out of my first silent retreat.

#gentleness #spiritualseeker #trauma #innercritic #healing #wisdom #highlysensitiveperson #unconditionallove #compassion #innocence

Inner marriage. Reuniting & honouring all the pieces of me

In recent years I’ve read beautiful writings about the awakened man apologising to woman for her suppression and abuse. In particular I think of this one:

“We have burned you at the stake, bought and sold your bodies for sexual pleasure, barred you from religious and political office, relegated you to subservient chores, forced you to hide your faces and even cut off your organs of sexual pleasure.

Although I may not have done these things personally, I am aware of the forces in the masculine psyche that are responsible for dishonoring the feminine.

As a man, I feel sorrow that women and feminine energy have been suppressed for so many thousands of years on our planet.

I take responsibility for those forces and choose no longer to be run by them….

I commit to treat your heart as the sacred temple it is, and I commit to celebrating the feminine in my intimate relationships as well as in my relationship to all life.

I honor your pathways of spiritual awakening, and I commit to the celebration of feminine spirituality. I honor your deep connection to the earth.
I honor your intuition and your ability to feel.
I love the beauty of your body.
I honor your capacity for peaceful resolution of conflicts.
I honor your capacity to listen to your body and its needs for food, rest and playtime.
I honor your sense of compassionate justice.
I know that together we can co-create in bringing forth the wisdom of sufficiency” ~ Based on the Manifesto for Conscious Men

These words ring deeply in my heart and every cell in my body. But more and more these days I contemplate the incompleteness of it and recognise how important it is for me to own my piece in both the suppression of the feminine, and the wounding of the masculine.

For years I longed to meet a man who would honour the feminine aspects of me that I felt had been shamed and suppressed for many years, I was frustrated when partner after partner fell short in some way…where I felt unseen, unheard, and not honoured.

But the truth is I was never going to meet a man like this until I was willing to truly look inside. Until I was ready to ask myself some tough questions. Do I see these things in myself? Do I honour these parts of myself? Do I really truly see and love the beauty of my body? Do I honour my connection to the earth? Do I really listen to my body and it’s need for rest and playtime?

For so many years the honest answer is No. For so long I didn’t value rest, I didn’t listen to the wisdom of my body. I didn’t value or respect my capacity to feel. I didn’t honour my heart or body as the sacred temple that it is. It’s only when I have began to truly honour the feminine within me have I attracted a beautiful man in my life who is ready and willing to walk this path of healing, growth, love, play and service together.

So this is just a little reminder that this love thing, is completely an inside job people. While seeing the divine in each other is of course a beautiful and pivotal part of this journey to reunite masculine and feminine to work together, this only becomes possible when we are ready and willing to explore this marriage inside of ourselves. Are we ready to love and accept ourselves as we are, and to honour completely the divine feminine and masculine?

Acknowledging that inside each of us we have the essence of both masculine and feminine is the first step if we want to stop projecting our wounds onto our loved ones. Working on these parts of ourself with loving compassion and awareness to remember what it is to feel at home, whole and reunited with every piece of who we are.

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To me it also feels like a key step in owning our wholeness is to also acknowledge it’s not just the feminine essence that has been suppressed and dishonoured. Our masculine is hurting too, both the inner and the outer. Carrying the weight of the feminine wounding, the guilt of past acts, so much shaming and blaming. But more than that our masculine has been tempted by the promise of love and adoration only to find in moments of revealing himself authentically & vulnerably he has been shamed, manipulated and dominated by the feminine nurturer who chose fear over love.

Some years ago I sat in a cacao ceremony where as a group we were guided to work with our inner masculine and feminine and invite them to come face to face. What I experienced in this journey continues to touch me today because I feel how true it is. When I saw my version of divine feminine in all her glory – she was this beautiful strong but flowing woman radiating love and purity and by her side was a black panther, beautiful but clearly powerful….

At the time I understood how distinctly separate I was experiencing my light and shadow, that’s a whole other story but what touched me most is the mistrust I saw in my divine masculines eyes, the protection he had around his heart and the heaviness on his shoulders. Because time and time again he had been wounded. He had opened himself to this promise of love and purity and then at his most vulnerable the panther had struck and mauled him, beating him into submission or destroying him completely.

I’ve progressively been laying down my sword, the sword I once wielded against myself and against the masculine (inner & outer). And I’m blessed these days to have a beautiful man walking with me on this path, a man who continues to do his own work, and can own his piece in the past, who can express his heart ache over the suffering and suppression of women & who chooses to now rise together. Together we choose to work through relational wounding when it arises, we actively choose to not get stuck in blame and shame, we choose to do it a different way, to cultivate trust, gentleness and intimacy and to focus on love and gratitude. And we choose to practice forgiveness when one of us forgets and falls.

The time of finger pointing, blaming, shaming and turning our backs away is done. It’s time to sit together. To be willing to do our own inner work and talk to each other with openness about our hurts, accepting responsibility for our own feelings and be willing to listen without defending, attacking or closing. I truly believe that when it comes to our core relational wounds there comes a time where the inner work needs to also transform into work in real time relationships with loved ones.

So I am eternally grateful for relationships to some incredible men who have helped me see and heal so many old wounds that continued to play out in my life so unconsciously. Like many I found it difficult to see the person standing before me as they are, instead I saw them through the filter of my past experiences, and my past hurts…with old wounds triggered and my desire to protect myself strong I lashed out at them. I forgive myself for these acts because I won’t let shame and guilt weigh me down. But I’m clear on the laying down of the sword, and I’m clear that I need to remind myself again and again that there is a new way of walking this path together that is only possible when I’m ready to let the other come close enough to join.

Have you ever considered where you still wield a sword? Against pieces of yourself? Or against those you say you love the most? Are you ready to lay down the sword?

Reach out if you need any support in this process. I work 1:1 with women and in small groups to cultivate Emotional Freedom. Through yoga, mindfulness, movement, nature, cacao and community we learn a new way of Intimacy, Wholeness and Juicy Aliveness.

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Much Love ❤

Magic Beans of the Ceremonial Cacao kind

You’ve heard the stories of the magical beans in Jack and the Beanstalk, well our very own version of the magic cacao bean has arrived in Perth. Keith’s cacao is now shipping their magical hand peeled cacao beans to Australia and we have received our first shipment!

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These are the original form of the cacao paste we use for ceremony but they can be used in a slightly different way, a few beans gives a nice little pick me up or refocus for creative & productive works. They also add a delicious crunch & heart burst to breakfast bowls and smoothies so I’m super stoked to have access again to this deliciousness.

I get asked regularly why is this cacao, or these cacao beans different to the cacao powder or cacao nibs you can buy in the supermarket or health food store. Well first and foremost this is cacao that from sourcing to production is done so with the purpose and intention of helping you to “open your heart, focus your mind, and energize your spirit to Bring on Your Magic! words taken directly from http://www.keithscacao.com 😉

Once you’ve heard that little whisper that says it’s time to explore this magical thing called cacao I suggest people always trust their intuition and heart’s calling as to which cacao is right for them. I choose to only work with Keith’s cacao because this is where my heart has guided me but there are also more tangible and practical reasons for my choice.

One is taste, out of all the beans I’ve ever tasted (and I tasted more than I can even remember when I lived and travelled in Guatemala, Bolivia Peru, Mexico & Bali) Keith’s is the smoothest, nuttiest and least bitter, making it by far the yummiest I know.

Another is that I truly value the heart centred business structure that has now been created around Keith’s cacao Keith that allows for the sourcing and shipping internationally of this beautiful product so that I (and many other practitioners around the world) can continue to offer you such a heart connected and consistently amazing product that is also supporting the local community in the small village where Keith lives in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

Here’s a little excerpt from Keith’s website telling you more about the sourcing and production of the cacao:

“Kaqchikel Mayan women from 20+ local families earn an independent income, while working at home, at their own pace, preparing our cacao beans. There are few employment opportunities for women in our community. As we grow, we will create jobs for many more local, indigenous women, providing them with good pay and flexible hours. We are proud to help our community grow in this way.

The women give our beans a quick, light toast over a wood-fired stove. They are highly skilled because the toasting process for cacao and the locally grown coffee beans is very similar. Their experience getting the “perfect toast” with coffee goes back many generations. This light toasting assures that the complex, subtle flavors of the cacao are not masked by a burnt taste.⠀

Next, the women hand peel and inspect each bean. The process of hand-peeling allows for the moldy beans to be discarded -and NOT incorporated into our products. They give the inferior beans to the chickens, who love them and lay very rich eggs! We don’t want to eat mold, and we don’t want it in our cacao. We are proud of our traditional approach; making cacao as the Cacao Spirit directs and as shamans have made it for thousands of years. We are delighted that this magical cacao adds so much to our community, financially and spiritually.

In our workshop, a team of local indigenous workers hand inspect every bean a second time to remove any remaining low-quality beans or other contaminants.  Some of the nicest looking, mostly whole, beans are packaged to be sold as our “Hand Peeled Cacao Beans”.  But most of our beans are milled to create the smooth, magical cacao paste that we use in our ceremonies and drink every day.

We are proud of our traditional approach; making cacao as the Cacao Spirit directs and as shamans have made it for thousands of years.  We are delighted that this magical cacao adds so much to our community, financially and spiritually. ~ Keithscacao.com”

For all of these reasons I know that not all cacaos are made equal and it really is a process of following your heart and asking questions about where the cacao you’re drinking came from, how was it sourced? and how is it processed?

If you’re in Perth and would like to order some of Keith’s magic beans or a block of ceremonial cacao paste contact Lani on 0434 748 758 or lani@heartofrest.com.au. Not in Perth, no problems you can order directly online from Keith at www.keithscacao.com and receive a 5% discount on your order.

May your heart be touched by the spirit of cacao, may she be there with you as you remember your magic!

Much Love

Lani

Settle in the Here and Now

Settle in the here and now.
Reach down into the centre
where the world is not spinning
and drink this holy peace.

Feel relief flood into every cell.
Nothing to do.
Nothing to be
but what you are already.
Nothing to receive
but what flows effortlessly
from the mystery into form.
Nothing to run from or run toward.

Just this breath,
Awareness
Knowing itself as embodiment.
Just this breath,
Awareness
Waking up to truth.

~ Danna Faulds

sunrise-bird

Finding peace within the expansion and contraction

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” ~ Rumi

Embracing all the colours, all the flavours, all the delicious variety of life means also recognising that both expansion AND contraction are important and healthy parts of being human.

I spent the most incredible weekend guiding a group of women on a 3 day Cacao Yin retreat. Together we journeyed into what it felt like to come home to ourselves, to feel safe and connected, to show up in our truth and share with each other. It was powerful, deep, joyful at times and incredibly touching to watch these beautiful women dare to bump up against their edges, gently, with compassion, with love for themselves and each other and to soften into the tender places in their wombs and hearts.

After a weekend like this, immersed in nature and flying high with the sweetness of ceremonial cacao I should feel amazing yes? Well actually when I arrived home I was tired and tender. In amongst the sweetness, the resting and the nurturing a lot of energy moved, a lot of tender places were touched, a lot of edges massaged and a lot of wounds given space to heal. It’s not so crazy then to understand space around this process might be needed to allow full integration.

We all process and integrate differently and some need more time for the body to catch up. I’m one of these people. After periods of real transformation I really value a little bit of time alone to let the wisdom of the experience anchor into my body and beliefs.

For me this is when the real work begins…we all love to have the big bang, high of a retreat experience (it was wisely pointed out to me last year that I’d become a bit of an experience junkie so trust me I do know how great these highs are). But after the retreat finishes what happens now? After the expansion – what then?

Can I integrate the insights and wisdom that come through during retreat?

Can I rest in this new moment where nothing is happening and not start grasping for the next step?

Can I trust the things that fall away, fall away for a reason?

And what happens when the next contraction comes?

Can I accept not only the expansive high joyful part of me but also the parts I deem to be slightly less than shiny – the contracted, tired, tender and a little raw?

Hence the purpose of this blog post 🙂 For me retreats are an opportunity to let the daily routines fall away and offer a little space for the magic, the mystical and the intuitive to be deeply felt and embodied. It’s an invitation to peel back another layer of an old outdated mask and when we no longer have the mask to hide behind it can feel vulnerable. Without vulnerability true intimacy is never possible and without intimacy there is no real connection so vulnerability for me is a sign I’m growing and living life fully.

There’s no magic pill, no one path suits all solution to unravelling years (or lifetimes) of tension, over-thinking, self judgement, low self worth or whatever it is that you’ve been holding against yourself. But for me the real magic seems to unveil when I can let feelings just be feelings. To watch them as sensations in the body moving through. They come they go, expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction – just like the breath, let them come, let them go. Can we drop the judgement, drop the expectation, drop the labelling of right and wrong and let the feelings just be feeling.

Tiredness is just tiredness, grief is just grief, tenderness is just tenderness – they’re not a sign I’ve done something wrong. They’re not a sign that you’ve done something wrong. Can you receive their gifts as readily as you receive laughter and joy? How can we exercise this muscle of expansion (physically, mentally, emotionally and in consciousness) if there were no contraction to begin with?

Could it really be as simple as Being gentle. Being kind. Just BEing.

On being slow and empathic in a fast world

Sometimes I look around this world and a great and ancient sadness moves through me.
Everything is so damn fast here.
I feel like an alien, often.
A slow, mindful, present alien.
I watch people rushing from experience to experience, barely stopping to contemplate the fucking miracle of their existence. Hardly ever taking time to let the wonder in.
Going for days and days without ever telling the truth or feeling their feelings.
Running from themselves. Running towards imaginary futures. So mesmerised by the ‘there’ that they forget the miracle of here. So identified with the ‘doing’ that the most precious thing is lost. Being. Life itself.
Comfortable. Popular. Fabulous and successful, perhaps. On the path towards a better and exciting tomorrow. Yet so afraid to slow down. Afraid to rest deeply. Afraid to stop and invite in whatever lurks in the deep. The repressed terrors. The anxieties.
Unmetabolised childhood yearnings. Unlived lives, unfulfilled potentials, unspoken truths.
Loving the light yet afraid to touch the darkness.
Abandoning the cosmic love that was pushed down in order to survive.
Forgetting the natural joy that was squashed so we could become ‘grown ups’.
Neglecting the playful aliveness that had to be numbed in order to ‘fit in’.
And now, content with surface pleasures. Success. Popularity. Looks. Achievements. The things that matter but don’t truly matter in the end.
Satisfied with a limited, conditional version of happiness. The kind you can post on Instagram. The kind that you can buy and sell. The kind that has an opposite.
The kind that looks good.
It’s sad to see our great potential forgotten.
Nothing ‘wrong’ with any of this unconscious activity, of course. I do not sit in judgement. I love our vulnerable humanity, and understand the mechanism of running, and we are all only doing our best, given our conditioning.
I used to run. But I had to break down. For the love I sought could never be found in the future. It was always here, buried in my own Heart, closer than breathing.
I only wish that everyone could truly find the courage to stop. Rest. Break, if they need to. Cry, if they need to. And finally feel the abandonment, the grief, the shame that was unconsciously running the show. Finally stop pretending. Finally sacrifice the addictive surfaces for the living truth – the scary, disorienting, thrilling truth.
There is no shame in the breaking and in breathing through the mess.
To be slow and empathic in a fast world, it is a challenge for sure. To be sensitive in a world that has gone mad with ‘things’. To be a lover in a world that has reduced love to a commodity and a passing feeling. To be awake in a world that tries to numb you.
Yet you cannot be numbed.
For you know your path now.
And your sensitivity
is a great gift
to this fast world.
– Jeff Foster

PASSION… P A S S I O N … P A S S I O N!!

“So run, my friends, run fast and furious from all false solutions.
Let divine passion triumph, and rebirth you in yourself.

For the past week I’ve discovered such a joy in simply saying the word passion outloud – to myself and to others….⠀

P A S S I O N… P A S S I O N … P A S S I O N!⠀

What does this word evoke in you? For me it’s like a fire has been lit in my belly and my heart. And it brings a big fat smile to my face! ⠀

‘With passion pray. With passion make love. With passion eat and drink and dance and play. Why look like a dead fish in this ocean of God?’ ~ Rumi⠀

To me this doesn’t mean I ‘should’ always be smiling but it does mean that when life delivers it’s challenges, when loss and grief knock on my door passion helps me to remember a deeper knowing of who I am. To see every part of life as a gift. To move towards the fire and be grateful for the gifts in every experience. Like a moth to a flame, give me the burning of the heart any day.

P A S S I O N ❤

“So run, my friends, run fast and furious from all false solutions.
Let divine passion triumph, and rebirth you in yourself.

Passion burns down every branch of exhaustion.
Passion is the supreme alchemical elixir, and renews all things.
No-one can grow exhausted when passion is born,
so don’t sigh heavily, your brows bleak with boredom and cynicism and despair—
look for passion! passion! passion! passion!

Futile solutions deceive the force of passion.
They are banded to extort money through lies.
Marshy and stagnant water is no cure for thirst.
No matter how limpid and delicious it might look,
it will only stop and prevent you from looking for fresh rivers
that could feed and make flourish a hundred gardens,
just as each piece of false gold prevents you
from recognizing real gold and where to find it.

False gold will only cut your feet and bind your wings,
saying “I will remove your difficulties”
when in fact it is only dregs and defeat in the robes of victory.
So run, my friends, run fast and furious from all false solutions.
Let divine passion triumph, and rebirth you in yourself.

– Rumi

Photography by: Lani Noble, Thong Nai Pan Yai Beach, Koh Phanang Thailand, 2015

Recommitment to LOVE

On this Aquarius new moon and on the tail of yesterday’s celebration of love I’m feeling the power of LOVE. And I’m recognising how often I have shied away from using this word LOVE to express how I’m feeling in fear of how it will be received, of how I will be viewed or judged. Maybe it’s too woo woo, maybe it’s too feminine, maybe it’s too much is what the little voice inside has been saying. Maybe if I haven’t known you long and I tell you I love you you will think I belong in a looney bin 🙂
But today I recommit to my own Journey into the Heart and I choose LOVE over fear. I allow that little voice to have safe passage to speak it’s fears but no longer let it be what guides my actions. I recommit to allowing Love to guide me in all actions.
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When I arrived in Guatemala in 2012 I discovered Hridaya Yoga, Yoga of the Spiritual Heart and I fell in love, not with someone or something but instead with a feeling that came from inside. It felt like a coming home, like the answering of some question I didn’t even know I’d been asking. I still don’t even really know what the question was. But the answer was and still is LOVE.
Something in me understood then that beyond all the ideas of right and wrong my very essence was LOVE and from that point on I’ve set about creating a life where every day my intention is to keep on remembering this and in that remembering support others to do the same.
But I’m human, and I’m messy, I can be selfish and immature and I often forget the beauty of the Heart, I forget what true unconditional love is and I forget that my true essence is LOVE. And I forget that your true essence is also LOVE. I even let judgement and blame come between us when all I really want is to be close to you. All I want is to LOVE and be LOVED. I’m on a journey towards owning and loving these parts of me that forget, these parts that are so conditioned and yet are so counter productive to the life of LOVE I long to live.
Most importantly today I recommit to LOVE, love well beyond the personal emotional meaning we often attach to the word, and all the way to LOVE as pure being, as awareness, as the direct radiance of Spirit. I’m choosing to focus on the activation of my own Heart’s LOVE for spirit, my devotion to Grace, God, truth, the absolute, presence, awareness…whatever you wish to call it.
And in that refocussing I choose LOVE over fear again and again and again. Mahatma Ghandi’s quote ‘BE the change you wish to see’ has always rung true for me..and that feels pertinent here now, to BE the LOVE I wish to see. And as a beautiful friend recently reminded the greatest question I can ask in every moment is, ‘What would LOVE do now?’
May every day be LOVE day. And may we continue to play with the nuances of this magical word LOVE and not shy away from using it every single day. May the words I love you not be held back, may they be shared from the Heart again and again and again.
I LOVE YOU and PS by loving you it doesn’t mean I want to marry you and have your babies…ooooorrrrr maybe it does 😉 ❤
BIG BIG LOVE
Lani
Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.
– Robert Johnson, The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden

Your deepest longing by Jeff Foster

Your deepest longing has already been fulfilled, and you were the last to know.

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“Everything you have ever longed for is already present, here and now – which is the last place you’d ever look. The miracle to end all miracles is happening, and it is this moment exactly as it is.

Yes – this, this is the grace. Every breath. Each sensation. Every sound. That which has already been allowed in. That which cannot be blocked out.

Even pain, even boredom, even despair – those most unwanted and unloved waves of human experience – are finally allowed to flood into the space where ‘you’ are not, and have never been.

And the paradox is this: none of it can touch you anymore, not even the greatest pain. And yet, and yet, you experience all of it, you feel it all more intensely than ever before, unable to block it out anymore, unable to turn away. Who would turn away, and from what? This is life in its fullness, no holds barred.

So what is left but simple gratitude? Gratitude for the fact that anything has ever happened at all.

And if nothing ever happens again, know this, dear friend – you have been here to witness the miracle of life. You have known it. Tasted it. Felt it. Seen it. The reflection of a waning moon in a car window. The taste of still water. The fragrance of cotton. The silent depths of meditation. The fierce intensity of fear. Your grandmother’s bones. It has been enough. Oh, it has been more than enough.

It has been too much, in fact. Too much grace. And so the separate self turned away from it, and looked for more, seeking a future that never came, and cannot come. You’ve only been seeking yourself.

Awe and wonder, my friend. Awe and wonder.”

by Jeff Foster, Life without a Centre

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Simplicity of Beauty

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The Prophet  by Kahlil Gibran
And a poet said, speak to us of Beauty:
And he answered:
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?
The aggrieved and injured say, ‘Beauty is kind and gentle.
‘Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us’
And the passionate said, ‘Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
‘Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.’
The tired and weary say, ‘Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
‘Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.’
But the restless say, ‘We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
‘And with her cries came the sounds of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.’
At night the watchmen of the city say, ‘Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east’
And at noontide the toilers and wayfarers say, ‘We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.’
In winter say the snow-bound, ‘She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.’
And in the summer heat the reapers say, ‘We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair’
All these things have you said of beauty,
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted.
It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears,
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw.
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
People of Orpahelese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.