How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.
The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.
Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.
If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.
When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.
“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.” ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love
Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind. Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.
*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd
I see you
Quivering beneath that old skin
Draped in shoulds and oughts,
Wearing that false smile,
The one that says
‘Yes of course I will..’
Before you set yourself aside
And conform to that safe, known, shape
Of appropriate ‘She’
I hear you
Growling in the night,
When your passion wakes you,
Ready to rip his skin or yours
As the truth burning fires of awareness
Blaze their intensity into your mind
Laying bare your compromises
Stripping the lies you tell yourself
Refusing to stay that safe known shape
Of appropriate ‘She’
I feel you,
As the dawn breaks
And the false floor and tight smile
Give way to grit, grief and remembering,
That deep, fluid, undulating pulse,
That nectar heart, that moist knowing,
That sweet longing and clarity so bright
They blind you to that safe known shape
Of appropriate ‘She’
I need you
Ready to shed your fear and thrive,
Ready to feel incandescently alive
Uncensored majesty of womankind
Embodying the grace of the sensually sublime
Receiver of nature’s subtle melodies
Vivid, ageless, honest and free
I stand for you, and you stand for me
The redefined expression
Of appropriate ‘She’
By Clare Dubois, a dear Tree Sister
This poem was generously given permission to be shared here by Clare Dubois who is the founder of TreeSisters. TreeSisters is an organization passionate about the reforestation of the earth’s forests and female empowerment through reclaiming the feminine Self. Tree Sisters just launched their new website on the autumn Equinox, September 22nd. Please be sure and visit this amazing venture at TreeSisters
They are also hosting a powerful series of deeply inspirational speakers that will reach into the feminine consciousness to plant seeds of change while letting go into a trust of nature’s wisdom. Join them at Feminine Awakening Series
A long time ago when much of the world was still a wild place there was once a waterfall with a beautiful voice. She could sing with the stars and moon. She would sing with the trees of the forest and all the creatures that came to her shores. In all the earth there was nothing like her divine voice. One day the waterfall told herself she was tired of singing and telling stores all the time, but she couldn’t stop her voice from flowing with the waters. As time passed the waterfall’s voice grew dull as it cascaded down over the rocks. It had lost its music of laughter. It only sounded cold and angry as it slapped down into the depths below. There were no more lullabies at night because the trees no longer listened. The creatures of the forest came to her shores only to quench their thirst. They no longer stayed to visit. Even the stars hide themselves from her behind the leaves of tree spirits and veils of clouds. The waterfall began to feel a deep sadness that she had never known. She had never been so alone. She didn’t know what to do.
Until one day, a pokey little green frog jumped on a mossy stone at the foot of the waterfall. He began to croak out a song. And croaked and croaked into the night. The next morning, the waterfall called out to the frog and said, “Thank you little web-footed friend. I had forgotten what it feels like to sing out with all your might. For many years now, I have used my voice to say what others wanted to hear. But now I realize that I can only sing the song of songs when I give the gift of presence. You have been a true friend.” After that the frog and waterfall would sing many a new song with each dawning day.
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…
“When the air is hot and humid, there is a feeing of dullness and stagnation. Everyone is oppressed by lassitude. As the seasons begin changing, fresh air comes from the arctic. Clouds that have been building up begin to dispense rain, and damp air is exchanged for fresh, cool breezes. At night, the heavens are changing so quickly that lightning flashes from colliding clouds, and thunder heralds the revolving of the skies.
The same is true of human life. If the heavens cannot endure stagnation for long, how can stagnation last with us? If we find ourselves blocked and frustrated in life, we must look for the inevitable outlet. Nothing is permanent, so how can our obstacles last? We need to look for the first opportunity to set things moving again.
On the other hand, sometimes stagnation comes from our own laziness or incompetence. In this case, then it is we who must show initiative and stimulate a breakthrough in dull circumstances. As soon as we see a chance, we must act. Unless we engage ourselves and events fully, we cannot expect to act sufficiently.”