On the periphery we each have our stories, diverse experiences, and unique way of being in the world.
At our core, in our center, is something beyond our personal identity.
This is the only place where I’ve glimpsed true equality and unity.
This place is also sometimes called the zero-point. Where nothing is happening and yet all is possible.
It’s peaceful, restful, clarifying, and nourishing. It’s also where empathy arises from.
I sense that this core center in us, is also the center of the entire universe.
Many of the messages of equality or unity say that we have to make it happen somewhere 'out there'. You have to behave this or that way. You can say this, but you can’t say that. You have to fix this or that problem in the system and to do that you have to be this or that way.
But it’s often only about the periphery.
Trying to change just our periphery, we can end up compromising our unique way of being.
Our unique way of being is the path to the center.
I’ve lived the first 35 years of my life trying to change or fix the periphery. I didn’t know there was anything else to who I was or to life. I didn’t know because I was living in survival mode.
This shift from survival surface living to more expansive living is in some ways like going from a heavy, colorless, one-dimensional, and hostile world to living in a place that is often vibrant, multi-dimensional, spontaneous, and full of wonder. Not always, but often.
If I would have read my own words 10 years ago this would go right over my head. It needs to come from experience. But the words are there to help encourage and validate the experience.
I don't go to art museums much anymore. I used to. I've always loved visual art. But when I discovered something called Process Art years ago, I realized what I loved.
It is aliveness. It is spontaneity. It is originality. It is the surprise of color and form and how they interact.
I appreciate an artist's skills, the talent that comes from years of hard work and practice. Professional artists deserve recognition for the beauty they bring and inspire.
But what I appreciate the most is the energy that comes from someone being present in the act of creating. Professional or not. The aliveness is captured, and it does not matter to me what it looks like.
This often comes from the very people I meet that tell me
I AM NOT AN ARTIST
They look to me for permission "Is it okay if I come to your painting class?” There is something inside that is longing to be expressed.
The answer is of course always YES
This image is my painting. Many of my paintings look like they came from a young child and I have loved painting them. Freedom of expression brings an inexplicable joy and expansion and taps us into the inner essence of creativity.
Artists. Non-artists. It's all good here. Because there is something deeper happening than the mind's perception of "good" - "bad" or "appropriate" - "inappropriate".
That is why I have chosen to call these classes Meditative Painting. (If no classes currently scheduled - sign up at bottom of events page to be notified when they are).
“This Should Be Easy” <- Ever have this judgment toward yourself?
I have this habit - When anything breaks or something needs to be maintained: on my car, on my computer, or in my home. I immediately go into mental complaining and resistance. If possible I will find a way to avoid dealing with it.
Even the smallest things. The other day I got home and a light bulb in my kitchen went out. My mind immediately said what it typically says “Oh man, such a pain. Nah, I’ll change the light bulb later. I can live with less light in here”.
I saw the resistance and thoughts very clearly. Instead, I went down to my basement storage to get a new light bulb and changed it.
I find these daily life things a struggle and often the thought comes “This should be easy” which fuels more resistance to what is.
What I started to do is have a little “I’m so proud of me!” party when I deal with something I would normally put off.
So after I changed the light bulb…. instead of being a stern parent by telling myself that I did something I SHOULD do...I recognized that little victory and celebrated it. I gave myself a hug and said “Good job Leela!” and then did a little happy dance.
Imagine me in my kitchen dancing around singing and flailing my arms up “Yay I changed the light bulb!”
I already give myself credit for more obviously challenging things, but wanted to speak to the less-obvious & under-acknowledged challenges we face.
So here is what happens when I give myself credit:
I know what is easy for me and what is challenging for me. I can honor this instead of letting comparison, and the outer world’s ideas (including my own mind) dictate what 'should' be easy.
After reading this do you now realize what you need to give yourself credit for? Let me know in the comments. We can have a “I’m so proud of Me” party!
Or don’t share and do it alone if that feels most self-empowering for you!
***If you are unable to go beyond a particular place of struggle or self-judgment, then there is something causing it that you haven’t yet become aware of. Explore what that could be! You can also give yourself credit for something that feels already pretty light with not so much self-judgment (for example, my ‘should be easy’ judgments I refer to in this blog were not very intense for me to begin with.)
I’ve always had this gift (curse?) of making something small and enlarging it, expanding on it, embellishing it. Stretching it for miles and miles.
I did this with situations that were painful for me. Creating all kinds of fear scenarios. All kinds of stories. Rolling them around in my fearful worried head. Hanging onto it for as long as I can.
What used to seem like a bad habit, I’ve made it into a gift now. I’m now making mountains out of what feels good. Taking tiny beautiful moments and pulling whole universes out of them.
The way the air feels on my skin. The feeling of the floor I’m sitting on as I write this. How it feels to hold the pen I’m writing with. The textural sounds that silence makes. The sound of the heated air coming out of the vents. When I wash dishes, the texture of the plate, the way the water caresses my hand.
I collect these moments. As if they are shiny gold pieces and the brightest ruby and shimmering emerald stones. Treasures often found after digging through the mud.
And. The more ordinary the better.
And it’s not some grandiose noble idea on how present I'm being. It’s just noticing that some things feel really good. If I let them. If I give myself permission to indulge it as much as I want.
Letting myself swim in it.
Letting life in.
It’s all so incredibly alive. So much so, that sometimes I wonder if anyone has ever exploded from the hugeness of it all.
And the world... well so much is happening isn’t it? But I keep coming back. Back to *here*.
I’m sharing this especially for those of you who have a sense that you are here to help. How easy it is to confuse helping with carrying the world on our shoulders. Taking on the suffering of others.
But really, it’s only you that you need to save. In that saving you recover your true self. And in letting yourself be alive as who you are, it creates powerful ripples. Those ripples travel to the places they are most needed.
And without our effort they do exactly what needs to be done.
To me this is what it means to be of service. Being in service to our aliveness. Do you feel it? How the world is just aching for aliveness?
Every moment you gift yourself soulful pleasure, you gift it to the entire planet. Yes, all of humanity but also our beloved Earth herself.
In my personal connection with our momma Earth I've noticed she doesn’t seem to care so much about my carbon footprint or joining a cause in her name. She is not interested in being saved.
In my ecstasy I can even hear her sigh sometimes… as if to say “Ah yes, that! right there! yes, thank you!”.
So you see? Our work doesn't always have to feel like work. We are just growing our beautiful inner swirly and pulsing light and allowing it to shine itself brightly.
Yours in shiny ecstatic light,
PS. This opening to ecstatic feel goodness, yes it also can bring moments of agony as well. We start feeling the entire spectrum of our inner landscape. The agony has its own uncomfortable and strange richness and beauty. I wrote about the relationship between Agony and Ecstasy here
Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness