Experience a Little Heaven on Earth

If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”

~ Yogi Bhajan

Yep, that just about sums up the path I’m on with trust.  I began reading about trust (trust and faith really, their subtle differences, meanings, nuances) many years ago.  Shortly after, I started writing about it, but only for myself.  Then, over three years ago I started publicly writing about trust here on Trust Life Today, followed by teaching individuals first, then later groups.

As linear of an approach as it may sound — read, write, teach — what I’ve found is now that I’m at the teaching stage of trust, I continue to read and write about it.  I still study, contemplate, question, and even meditate on trust.  Although I’ve written posts about why people don’t trust, I constantly find it surprising when they don’t.  Until one day, in the midst of life, I find myself there too, not trusting.

And then I’m reminded — trust isn’t something I have mastered, it is a daily practice.  Trust is a practice I’ve chosen to embrace.  Why?  Because my breathing slows down to a calm, steady rhythm when I trust.  Because my hot female, Mexican, Taurus, Pitta dosha, Enneagram 8, Chinese symbol fire, who-knows-what-label, does not flare as quickly when I trust.  Because I get better sleep at night when I trust.

Because I show myself and the world the best of me.
Because I feel God within me.
Because I feel peace.

Because the peace that comes from trusting feels like a little slice of Heaven on Earth to me. 

And I want more peace in my life, more God in my life, more of my best-self to show up every day in my life, and definitely more Heaven on Earth in my life.  So I have cultivated a practice of trust, and I do just that, I practice.

And I screw up.

There are times I forget what it means to trust, and to have faith, and to love myself.  I simply forget.  I slip into old patterns and behaviors.

Then…after I’m done beating myself up over the screw up, when I’m finally able to be still and quiet within my heart and mind, I give thanks.

Unfortunately, I often allow my life to become so fast and frenetic, I rush to the next thing, then the next, never stopping to realize that the irksome feeling hovering over my head like a dark, Eeyore-cloud, is actually me continuing to beat myself up unconsciously.  It is not until I slow down enough to quiet my mind and tune into my heart that I see the screw up for what it is:  an opportunity to forgive myself, to learn from the experience, to practice self-compassion, perhaps even to provide comfort or to empathize with my neighbor who may share with me something similar as we both “coincidentally” meet at our mailboxes next week, month, or year.  Glance over the previous sentence, and you will find between each comma lies the reasons I give thanks for the quote-unquote-screw-up.

Heaven on EarthIn the giving of thanks, on an energetic level I feel restored, like my inner-balance-scale had been horribly askew, and now it has settled back to the middle, not tilting one way or the other.  In that horizontal plane of my inner-scale, my practice of trust begins again.  The experience of Heaven on Earth gently nudges me and I close my eyes and smile.

From where you’re sitting and reading today’s post, you may be thinking, Right on!  I can do this!  A daily practice of trust is totally within me!  Or, you may be thinking, Is she f-ing kidding me?  She has no idea what I’m going through and if she only had a clue, she would know trust is impossible, completely impossible.  Or maybe your pendulum is swinging back and forth between the two.  Wherever you are on your path, stop now and honor it.  It is your truth.  Own it.  Then ask yourself,  Why can’t I experience a little Heaven on Earth?  Close your eyes, smile, and know you can.  Even if you think you can’t, you can.

What’s Next

Join me next week, as I talk to the group in the second bucket above, the “it’s impossible to trust” bucket.  Tune in if this is you.  If it’s not you, chances are you know someone in this bucket; consider sharing this post with them in the hopes it will get their juices flowing and prepared for what’s to come.  I look forward to seeing you next week.

In love and trust,
Leslie

fall in love with life

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Why Trust Is Important

Sneak Peek into the recently released book:  Love, Trust & Pixie Dust.

Excerpt from Chapter 3: It Is What It Is.

why trust is important

“My life has been filled with many misfortunes, most of which never happened.”  ~ Mark Twain

Why Trust Is Important

Why Should We Trust Life?

Cliches become cliches mostly because they speak the truth.  So whether you loathe or love the cliche It Is What It Is, there’s a whole lot of truth in it.  That said, why should we even bother trusting?

One of my dear friends decided to play Devil’s Advocate one day, and sent me an email asking, “Why should we trust life?”  I say Devil’s Advocate because he wasn’t asking the question expecting a response, but rather for me to consider how I’d respond to someone reading my blog or even to you sitting here now, holding this book and wondering, Yeah, why should I trust life?

There is a simple, one-word response to the question — and that word is:  Peace.  Being at peace in our everyday lives is the ultimate end goal and reason behind why we trust.  Trust unlocks the door to peace.  But there’s more….

The Crux of the Matter:  What IS Versus What IF

Peace is why we trust, yes, but there’s more.  First off, put yourself in the mindset of thinking of trusting life as a series of events.  The series starts with the awareness/acceptance of What IS, which in many cases is the same as letting go.  Essentially, What IS, is looking at a situation and NOT inserting layer upon layer of What IF:  “What IF I lose my job?  What IF he leaves me?   What IF I get sick?”  No, no, no.  What IS means being grounded in seeing the truth, in not inventing the stuff that makes our heads spin out of control.

Think:  whatever you are worrying about or holding on to (the What IF) and imagine yourself letting go of those What IFs and seeing What Truly IS.

Once you are aware and accept What IS, the enormous amount of energy you were giving to the worry — or the What IFs — now ends.  It has no power over you.  This is key, because before you are aware and accept What IS, your mind races with thoughts of worry and fear.  Thoughts of What IF often lead to the invention of entirely fictitious situations (which I, and Mark Twain might add, hardly ever end up happening).  These ungrounded thoughts are what take up so much unnecessary energy.  They often lead to more worry, more fear.  You become restless and irritable, you lose sleep.  The snowball effect is in full force at this point.  The “monkey-mind” is cranked up in high gear, jumping from one thought to another and another, not easily quieted.  I think it’s pretty safe to say we’ve all experienced monkey-mind to one degree or another.

Field of Pure Awareness

It is when we become aware, and accept What IS, that the monkey-mind quiets, and we can Be.  Once we are in a state of Being, we are able to observe moment by moment, from the highest field of all, Pure Awareness.

Now, if it has all made sense up to this point, but I just lost you with the Pure Awareness comment, hang tight.  I want to take it a step further and deeper.  Once you’re observing moment by moment, no longer in the worry-place and completely out of the monkey-mind chatter, whatever action you take will be in harmony with this field of Pure Awareness.  Therefore, whatever action you take will be for the highest good for all.  Remember the Sufi story of the warrior and his bride?  (from Chapter 2)

By trusting life, we accept What IS, quieting the conflict in the monkey-mind and freeing us to observe and then act from Pure Awareness, which will be for the highest good of all.  Operating for the highest good of all also takes us to the next level:  Life is not just about us at an individual level, but as living beings we are all connected in a very intimate way.  For that reason, operating for the highest good of all is something to strive for.

By trusting, we marry our free will with the Divine, knowing that we are taken care of.  We are not alone in our worries or our struggles.  We are never alone.

You are never alone.

why trust is important

I have attempted to explain in words what is a knowing within me.  I encourage you to add to these concepts, question them, mold them and make them yours, changing the verbiage to suit your taste.  In doing so, you will land on your Truth, something that resonates and works for you.

Take a moment to consider how you typically approach life.  Which side of the cattle guard do you tend to hang out on?  The What IF side or the What IS side?  Depending where you are on the spectrum will immediately tell you what your beliefs are about how trust works.  And by the way, this has nothing to do with religion.  You may be the most religious person out there, attending every mass and service offered, yet between each mass, each service — maybe even during each one — you’re worrying about all of the What IFs in your life.  Becoming aware and accepting What IS is a spiritual belief and practice that anyone can adopt, regardless of religious beliefs.

 

why should we trust life

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Know Thyself, Live With Your Rhythm

know thyselfKnow Thyself.

Be Authentically You.

We strive to know ourselves, right?  To be authentic.  I strive for that.  In the Scorpion and Frog fable I wrote about once upon a time, the scorpion ended up stinging the frog, despite his promises not to.  He was being his authentic self.  When the frog asked the scorpion why he did it, he simply responded, “I’m a scorpion;  it’s in my nature.”

Hmm…maybe for a scorpion, yes, but for humans?  Surely not.  That would mean whatever I say is my “nature,” I am pre-programmed to repeat, no matter how ardently I try to change.  If that were true, why bother?  I mean really, what a great excuse for never changing, for giving up, for not being accountable for anything.  And what a sham!  (Not to mention depressing.)

Let’s briefly look at the human brain, basic anatomy and physiology stuff:  neurons that fire together, wire together.  For those who are rusty on their A&P, what that means is the more we train our brains to learn a specific task (think: ride a bike, learn a new language, etc.), the more those neurons will fire.  And the more they fire, the more they wire together, hence, a task becomes easier the more we do it.  (Donna, are you horrified by my explanation?  Yours was MUCH better and more thorough in class!)

Luckily, You Are More Than Your Brain

Human brain aside, now enter Spirit.  Enter will.  Enter pride.  Enter determination — perhaps the determination to NOT be just like your dad, or to BE just like your older brother, or the class clown, or fill in the blank.  Enter one of thousands of factors.  After considering the infinite possibilities of why we are the way we are, ‘Know thyself’ sounds both complex and nebulous, all at the same time.  When I think about it like that, I get lost.

But I don’t like being lost.  What I like are words.  And I like listening to others’ words, especially when they come bearing beautiful phrases, like my friend Bay often does.  So when she said to me, “Leslie, live with your rhythm,” my heart immediately smiled.  And in the inner warmth I felt, I knew that a meaningful exchange had just taken place;  I had just received a gift.

After my friend and I hung up the phone, I allowed her words to roll around in my head for a few minutes while they made their way to my heart.  Live with my rhythm.  Live with my rhythm.  It felt similar to a heartbeat.  Or an inhale, exhale.  Strong, steady, and effortless.  Like a life force.

Living With My Rhythm has become a personal mantra.  It is synonymous with being my authentic self, with knowing myself, and ultimately, loving myself.  If my rhythm is sad, so it is.  If my rhythm is excited, so it is.  If my rhythm is tired, contemplative, hyper, so it is.  By living with my rhythm, I take my brain (left brain at least), out of the equation and allow myself to Be.  And in being, I feel an intimate connection with self.  I feel Trust on a God level that feels like pure love.

What is your rhythm?  Close your eyes, breathe in deeply.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Again.  Now, slowly, what do you feel?  Honor your feelings and breathe through each one as you live your rhythm.

know thyself

“Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” ~ Amy Bloom

(especially, when being seen by yourself)

Love, Leslie

Inspired by the Novel, Life of Pi

Life of Pi

In eager anticipation of the movie Life of Pi, being released this week (November 21, 2012), I’m sharing a post I wrote in April of 2011.  Read on to see how YOUR choices, Your intention, and how you tell Your story matters.

love is

Inspired by the Novel, Life of Pi

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, is an allegorical novel, one whose essence has stayed with me for over a decade.  I found the book fascinating, with its multi layered plot, the numerous religious themes presented, and the magical happenings woven throughout.  And all the while, the author subtly nudges the reader to answer in his mind, Do you believe in God?  And if you do believe in God, Are stories/fables necessary in order for you to believe?

To summarize the novel would be difficult, even if I had just finished reading it.  And as it’s been years, I’ll offer a general summary, not giving anything away.

Life of Pi Summary

The main character is Pi Patel, a 16-year-old Indian boy, who has embraced and simultaneously chosen to practice Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.  He, along with his family and the zoo animals from his father’s zoo, attempt to immigrate to Canada by way of a Japanese cargo ship.  While crossing the Pacific Ocean, the ship sinks, and Pi finds himself on a 26-foot long lifeboat, alone with an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger.  The dynamic between Pi and Richard Parker (the Bengal tiger whose name I’ll never forget — not Richard, always Richard Parker), was curious, beautiful, intriguing, and ever changing and growing, like any rich relationship.

After the sinking of the ship, and A-L-L that happens between that time and when Pi is rescued (227 days later!), he tells his story to two Japanese Ministry of Transport employees who are investigating the cause of the sinking.  Pi is a skilled, engaging storyteller, but no matter how skilled and engaging he is, these two men express deep skepticism — is this kid for real?!  Trapped with a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat for 227 days?  After pressing him further, Pi abandons his original story, and offers the men a more believable story, one that parallels the first, but is much easier for these two men to swallow.

Life of Pi

We All Tell Stories

Every day we tell stories, which become our stories, who we are.  On a good day, our stories are well received;  we may even be given praise for our brilliance.  At a minimum, we want to be listened to and acknowledged for the contribution we’ve made.  Knowing that we’ve helped a friend in pain through the telling of our story, or perhaps that we’ve provided a humorous story for entertainment both fall into the category of:  ‘it’s a good day to tell a story’.  Other times, like Pi, we attempt to tell our stories, only to be met with disbelief or skepticism.  And in those times, we have a choice.  We can choose to plow ahead, buyer beware, declaring, “This is my story, and I’m sticking to it!”  Or, we can choose to alter our story, like Pi, making it more palpable for the listener.

And IF we decide to change our story for the benefit of the listener, what reaction do we have?  Do we shrug our shoulders and walk away carefree or with a heavy heart?  By changing our story, do we feel we gave away a piece of ourselves, or not?

Choice and Intention

The topic of choice is not new to you frequent Trust Life Today (TLT) readers — we choose our perception, we choose our attitude, our thoughts, our beliefs.  But overshadowing choice is our intention.  And our intention has everything to do with US, not the recipient of our story.  Being clear on your intention takes the pressure off how your story is received.  And if you’re not anxious about how it (you) will be received, then telling your story becomes an act of self, a way to share your Truth, your humorous tale, your passion, your fears, your love.

Telling your story becomes a way to honor yourself and celebrate you.

The What-If Game

The alternative is coming at it from the other side.  Instead of focusing on your intention, by shifting your focus to how your story is going to be received, you end up with a lot of playing the What-If game.  What if I embellish this?  Will he think I’m smarter?  More interesting?  What if I omit that?  Will she think I’m a better parent?  Or maybe she won’t get mad at me.  What if, what if, what if??  This is some serious monkey-mind, completely useless chatter, and can spiral out of control.  And with each spiral, you become less you.  You become less real.

At this point, I have to ask, what are you trusting?  … Are you trusting?

love is

Let’s look at a breakdown of your intention versus how others receive your story (YOU).

Intention                      Received by Others

Inner Focused – YOU Centered       Outward FocusedTHEM Centered

lowers anxiety & pressure                            monkey-mind
loving act of self                                            endless & useless chatter
share your Truth                                           spiral out of control
honor yourself                                               energy drain
celebrate you                                                become less you, less real

 

Why Two Stories in Life of Pi?

To be clear, I’m not criticizing Pi for changing his story.  I believe the author was very clear in his intention by having Pi tell both stories.  In telling a more fable-like story, the author pushed the limits of what these two Japanese Ministry employees (and the reader) thought they could believe.  At times they questioned themselves and dared to think in more abstract terms.  And in contemplating a boy at sea, a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, a Bengal tiger, and the extremely rich story that was woven, the author draws numerous parallels for the reader about the undeniable existence of God.

We all can’t tell stories like Yann Martel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Wally Lamb, or Isabelle Allende.  But we can tell our story.

Know your intention.  Tell your story.

Life of Pi

“Every life is, ultimately, a story with a message.”  ~ Toni Raiten-D-Antonio

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