Stay the Course

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From its lofty position above the tops of most other trees, the pine reminded ancient peoples of the importance of taking the overview, encouraging objectivity and farsightedness. We are advised to cleanse ourselves of negativity, neither dwelling on mistakes nor apportioning blame. Pine is a symbol of the elevated mind and the birth of the spiritual warrior.   ~Jane Gifford, The Wisdom of Trees

In hushed tones

She whispers,

The Goddess

Of the forest,

‘Stay the course,

It is time

To be

Your own

Master

Amidst the chaos

Cleansing

Your soul

In the

Great stillness

Of

Winter

Solstice

Resting in

The sacred

Heartbeat

Of the forest

Embracing

The healing presence

Of inner light

And

Peace.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*this post was inspired by the following documentary:

https://www.facebook.com/forestethics/videos/10153503154834221/?theater

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Right on Track

essence

Sometimes we have to repeat certain words to ourselves over and over again. Over days and even weeks just to help keep our focus. To help pick us up when we have fallen over a negative thought or feeling. It’s like that story that Pema Chödrön tells about the Buddha:

“On the night on which he was to attain enlightenment, the Buddha sat under a tree. While sitting there, he was attacked by the forces of Mara. The story goes that they shot swords and arrows at him, and that their weapons turned into flowers.

What does this story mean? My understanding of it is that what we habitually regard as obstacles are not really our enemies, but rather our friends. What we call obstacles are really the way the world and our entire experience teach us where we’re stuck. What may appear to be an arrow or a sword we can actually experience as a flower. Whether we experience what happens to us as an obstacle and enemy or as a teacher and friend depends entirely on our perception of reality. It depends on our relationship with ourselves.”

Well, that is why over the last couple of weeks I have needed to repeat some words over and over again to myself. Because I have been experiencing a lot of obstacles and unpleasant circumstances….particularly arising from within my own thoughts and emotions.

Here is what I’ve have personally had to write and say to myself over and over again to transform those arrows and swords into flowers:

“I am right on track, right on schedule. I trust that everything is unfolding perfectly. All is well. I am free to enjoy myself. I am right where I need to be, when I need to be, how I need to be. My life is enough. I am enough. Everything I say or do is enough. In chaos or order, it is enough. My life is natural and wholesome. I am natural and wholesome. I have the grace to recognize and accept that. I have the grace to be free. I go on and on past this moment, past boundaries, past time, past understanding.  I am an infinite being. I AM Infinity, itself. I AM Essence.”

*this post is dedicated to a dear Twitter friend, Ishani, @musicmoonlove “Be blessed, Soul Sister.” ❤

*photo by Alisdair Miller, New Day

One Step After The Other

bumpy road

Sometimes 

A new beginning 

Can have

A bumpy start

Smile 

To your heart

And

Keep

Going.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*photo found on  

http://threadsence.com/Blog/lets-go-on-an-adventure/

Silencing Your Inner Voice

a.aaa-Shut-up-man

photo found on: http://www.jokeroo.com/pictures/animal/921933.html

I have silenced my inner voice once again….the situation is that a part of me is sooo ready to speak my heart and mind, and then there is something inside that holds me back?! It’s like a seesaw that goes up and down. Could it be that I am worried about what others might think or say; or is it that I’m worried about the responsibility that comes each time I take such a step in life? The next challenge is that I don’t know exactly what I want to say. 

Shhhh-300x300

photo found on: http://blurbrain.com/the-farce-of-teacher-evaluations/

As a writer it might seem rather ironic that my inner voice gets silenced so often…but at least for me it has been more like a roller coaster ride through the entire process of expression. It’s like when I walk through the library of my mind there is a librarian that shooshes me into sullen whispers that I hardly dare to raise my voice at all! Other times there is an obnoxious little girl who simply wants to “scream and shout and let it all out”….Arrrgh!

a-bug-free-mind-dreja-novak

art by Dreja Novak, http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/dreja-novak.html?page=2

So often it gets confusing when the mind becomes cluttered. It gets confusing because there  can be inner voices that really do need silencing like the inner critic who just loves to bathe the soul in negativity causing disbelief and doubt in oneself. Then there is the inner voice who plays the role of the disapproving parent. It also isn’t the pouting inner child who wants constant attention. Nor is it the angry predator of the ego. There are so many sides to our personalities which voice is really our “inner voice”? 

meditation

photo found on: http://persephonesunset.tumblr.com/post/5919492265

Today I read an article that reminded me about the true inner voice. I then took a mindful breath and smiled. I smiled because I remembered that the inner voice doesn’t bellow or whimper. It speaks from that safe haven inside the silence of our essence. It is there to guide you along your life path. Of course! How could I forget?! I have to be still to hear my inner voice. It whispers softly and my intuition gently tugs. When my mind is full of this and that….it is cluttered. At times even in meditation, house cleaning can be difficult…perhaps in my case I need to do some heart cleaning. Then I might have a clearer picture of what I want to say. 

*for more on the benefits of listening to your inner voice visit:

http://prosperityplace.com/listening-to-your-inner-voice/

Being Human

standing peopleart by Tetsuo Aoki

“Most of us play many roles throughout our lifetimes. We have learned how to shift roles, but we don’t often know how to look behind them. The roles we assume—spouse, parent, boss, nice guy, rebel, etc.—are not necessarily bad and can provide useful models to follow in unfamiliar situations. Our task is to find those parts that work for us, and those that don’t. It is like peeling the layers of an onion, and just like peeling an onion, it’s a task that can bring on a few tears.

It may be painful, for example, to acknowledge the negative in ourselves and find ways to externalize it. We all have a negative side, or potential for negativity: denying it is the most dangerous thing we can do. It’s cause for concern when some people completely deny the potentially dark side of themselves, insisting that they are not capable of strongly negative thoughts or actions. To admit we have the capacity for negativity is essential. After admitting it, we can work on and release it. And as we learn our lessons, we often strip away layers of roles to find things we’re not happy about. It doesn’t mean that who we are, our essence, is bad. It means we had a facade we didn’t recognize. If you discover you’re not a super nice person, it’s time to shed that image and be who you are, because being an extraordinarily nice person every moment of your life is being a phony-baloney. Many times the pendulum has to swing all the way to the other side (you become a grump) before it can come back to the middle point where you discover who you really are—someone who is nice out of compassion rather than someone who is giving to get.

expressionism of roles http://www.inspirefirst.com/2012/07/26/expressionism-photography-collection/

Even more challenging is to let go of defense mechanisms that helped us survive in childhood, because once these tools are no longer needed they can turn against us. A woman learned when she was a child to isolate herself from her alcoholic father: she knew that it was the best to leave the situation and leave the room when it became overwhelming. This was the only tool a six-year-old girl could come up with when her father was drunk and yelling. It helped her survive a difficult childhood, but now that she herself is a mother, such withdrawal is harmful to her children. Tools that no longer work must be released. We must thank them and let them go. An sometimes people have to grieve for that part of them that will never be. This mother had to grieve for the normal childhood she was never granted.

Sometimes we get a lot out of these roles, but we often realize with maturity that they have a cost. At a certain point the cost becomes too much to bear. Many people are well into middle age before realizing that they have been the “forever caretaker and peacemaker” in their family. When they understand this, they’ll say that they certainly are nice, but it got pushed way out of proportion in their family. Without seeing what was happening, they took on the responsibility of making sure their parents and siblings were always happy, they solved all the fights, loaned everyone money, helped them get jobs. At some point, you may realize that the burdensome role is not you so you drop it. You’re still a nice person, but you no longer feel obligated to make sure everyone else is happy.

realityhttp://giokernelpanic.tumblr.com/post/67479939259

The reality of the world is that some relationships don’t work out; there are supposed to be disagreements and disappointments. If you feel responsible for fixing every problem, you will pay a high price because that’s an impossible task.

How will you respond to the new you?

Most of us have not committed criminal acts, but we do have to work through the darker parts of our personalities. Black and white are apparent; it’s those gray parts that we often hide and deny: the “nice” guy, the isolator, the victim, and the martyr. These are the gray parts of our shadow self. We can’t work on the deep negativity if we can’t admit that we have negative sides. If we acknowledge all of our feelings, we can become our whole selves.

You might mourn for the loss of these roles, but you’ll know you’re better off because you’re more genuinely you. Who you are is eternal; it never has and never will change.

vidaphoto by Brian Brake

Who we are is much more than our circumstances, whether they be great or small, though we tend to define ourselves by our circumstances. If it is a great day—if the weather’s good, the stock market is up, the car is clean and shiny, the kids get good report cards, the dinner-and-show goes well—we feel as if we are great people. If not, we feel as if we’re worthless. We move with the tide of events, some controllable, others not. But who we are is much more unchanging than that. It is not defined by this world or our roles. These are all illusions, myths that do not serve us well. Underneath all our circumstances, all our situations, is a great person. We discover our true identities and greatness by letting go of all the illusions of identity to discover our true selves.

We often look to others to define us. If others are in a bad mood, we are brought down. If others see us as being wrong, we become defensive. But who we are is beyond attack and defense. We are whole, complete, and of worth just as we are, whether we are rich or poor, old or young, receiving an Olympic gold medal, or beginning or ending a relationship. Whether at the beginning or end of life, at the height of fame or in the depths of despair, we are always the people behind our circumstances. You are what you are, not your disease, not what you do. Life is about being, not doing.”

—Elisabeth Kübler-Ross—

 

 

The Forbearance of Being True

ImageA friend of mine lately has inspired me by sharing their personal truth. Though this isn’t the time or the place to share that story, I would like to share how it etched something so deeply in my soul that for the first time in my life I am not afraid. I am not afraid of what has been, what is, or what will come. It is because of one simple truth I heard through his life. No matter what we are faced with in this lifetime or in the next as long as we can stand in the power of forbearance being true to our inner selves we will be able to endure anything because nothing can change our essence.

Looking up the meaning of the word forbear, you come across ‘to refrain from’ and ‘to be patient or self-controlled.’ Forbearance means the act of forbearing; a refraining of something; forbearing conduct or quality; patient endurance; self-control. On January 1st, I wrote a post called Honoring My Essence. The first lesson in that process for me is forbearance. When I look mindfully and deeply inside, I can see that I have let my personal suffering, sorrows, and negativity slowly erode my awareness so that I became dull. I have denied or ignored certain illusions in my life connected to anger, resentment, and bitterness causing a delay in my growth. I have done this so often that it has become a repeated pattern that finely lays within every atom, molecule, cell, tissue, organ, muscle, and living system in my being. It wasn’t until someone reached out in love to me and openly shared their truth that it could finally be lodged from my unconscious and brought to light.

Now I can take the first steps towards the forbearance of being true to my essence knowing that I have nothing to fear.

I would like to end this post on a meditation from Deng Ming-Dao that waters the seeds of trust.

Arctic breath coils the mountain,

Rattling the forest’s bones.

Raindrops cling to branches:

Jewelled adornment flung to earth.

Trees in winter lose their leaves. Some trees may even fall during storms, but most stand patiently and bear their fortune.

They endure rain, snow, wind, and cold. They bear the adornment of glycerin raindrops, glimmering icicles, or crowns of snow without care. They are not concerned when such lustrous splendor is dashed to the ground. They stand, and they wait, the power of their growth apparently dormant. But inside, a burgeoning is building imperceptibly.

Theirs is the forbearance of being true to their inner natures. It is with this power that they withstand both the vicissitudes and adornment of life, for neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are. We should be the same way. We may have great fortune, or bad, but we should patiently bear both. No matter what, we must always be true to our inner selves.

~Deng Ming-Dao~

*photo by Stephan Bruhl 

http://500px.com/photo/7180241