just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
December, 2011

Winter Solstice with Ride at The Square, Dec. 22, 9pm

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

We’re excited for our last performance of the year at Washington Square Bar and Grill in White Bear Lake.  It’s a celebration in honor of the season of light, the arrival of winter, and the swing of sun/earth alignment to longer days.  So come on out for the best pre-Christmas party in town.  9pm-midnite.

C’est la Vie…such is life

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

In life, we can face the moment or try to dodge it.  We can commit to being ‘here, now’ or we can try to ignore the moment.  Our restless mind is continually pulling us from ‘being here’.  We can be caught in thoughts of the past or we can be consumed with disturbing thoughts of the future.  Neither holding grudges/guilt or cultivating worry seem to be helpful to our health.  Yet, most of us spend much of our time caught in thoughts of what’s been or what we expect to be.  In spiritual wisdom we’ve seen that the best way we can release from the pain of the past or the worry of the future is to simply settle fully into taking care of the present moment.  Several practices advise breathing with 100% attention to help us align to the moment’s arising.  When fully surrendered into the moment, beyond our attachments to past and future, our actions can be described as ‘in the flow’, ‘in harmony’, ‘in the zone’, etc.  We can actually measure the body’s vibration at a higher frequency.  The cells of the body experience less stress.  In fact, some have defined ‘stress’ as the distance from where you ‘are’ to where you want to be.  Surrendering in full attention to the next arising breath may perhaps be the most effective means for reducing stress, the leading cause of our dis-ease.  We can resist this moment or we can allow it.  We can fight or we can flow.  We can push or we can solidly stand in our truth without need to ‘fix’ or ‘change’ another.  The paradox is how we find our fullness through our emptiness.  An attitude of ‘c’est la vie’ does not mean ‘I don’t care’.  I think it means to stand in full acceptance of what life’s presenting in this moment.  My purpose is to meet it fully, in discovery of it’s gift, no matter what.  This is our acknowledgment to the fullness of life.  Rather than falling to the temptation of complaint, we open in affirmation to the wonder.

This moment that’s coming up can not be escaped.  We’ve been placed here for a purpose…to experience the beauty of ‘this’ arising moment.  Even in the most difficult of places, beauty is continually asking to be seen.  Our work is to make space to see the gift in the given.  The challenge is to live in the present moment and ‘be’ of it, to not get caught in thinking ‘this is my moment’.  It’s our opportunity to ‘be’…to simply ‘be’…to ‘just be’.  It’s our opportunity to help reduce the restlessness, the suffering that comes from attachment.  Our work is to continually move from fight to peace, even when under attack.  We’re constantly being asked to chose peace with the world the way it ‘is’.  This is about accepting what’s in front of us in full awareness.  It’s not about pushing peace.  This is deep forgiveness practice.  It’s a deep vow that says the unkindness stops with me.  It means letting go grudges against those who may have been unkind to us.  It means we change the cultural conversation norm of complaint and we make forgiveness normal.  It means we open our minds, navigating the world with more grace and flexibility.

This practice is not about compromise or reconciliation.  It’s the deeper heart cleansing itself and re-opening to life.  For sure, there are certain people and situations we’re best to avoid.  There are certain situations and people to nurture, just like there’s good food and bad food.  Yet, for me ‘c’est la vie’ is holding what other’s may have done in a more gentle way.  It’s not condoning harmful actions.  It’s not forgetting the wake (karma) of our life’s actions.  It just allows us to make peace with our life when we don’t get what we want.  It’s the capacity to come into our integrity, to make peace, when parts don’t work the way we wanted them to.  What’s the alternative?  To resist what is.  To hang on.  To think we can change what ‘is’.

Fred Luskin has perhaps done more research on the benefits of forgiveness practice than anyone.  His prescription for teaching forgiveness involves the following directives:

  1. In life, there’s a sense of not noticing the blessings so we put our attention to what’s unpleasant.  Become more aware of your thoughts. Practice gratitude.
  2. Be willing to separate out the content of your story from the story you tell.  It’s too easy to get lost in the story.  We can’t change the content, but we can change the process.  We always come back to the truth question, “Is what you’re doing working for you?  Is it helping you reach lasting satisfaction?”
  3. When listening to another, it’s helpful to actively listen with the following structural suggestion, “I hear this is what you wanted _________, and you got ______________.  I empathize that you didn’t get what you wanted.”
  4. Forgiveness requires a certain grieving process.  The powerlessness has to be grieved.  We have to cultivate compassion and softness for our vulnerability.  We recognize the pain that grew from putting our trust in someone to only find it wasn’t reciprocated.  We grow an inner release, depersonalizing it as just part of the human experience… ‘c’est la vie’.  Can we sit in softness to our human experience?  Can I calm the whiner in me, still the mind, and use a deeper awareness to determine what processes are waking me and which ones are keeping me asleep?  Can I make a vow to let go the ones that aren’t working?  Do I have the courage and willingness to try other options?  Luskin says we don’t have to know exactly what will work, but a curious, open mind is necessary to break from the quick sand that’s holding us back.
  5. Breath work is central to helping us break the chains of our wounding.  Even practicing just 30-40 seconds can help break the habit of the ‘victim’ mind.  Thich Nhat Hanh has an exercise where with each breath in we affirm life with ‘Yes’, each breath out, expressing gratitude with ‘Thank you’, acknowledging the very opportunity to participate in this next arising moment.  The process helps us move from the grasping mind of intellect to the rising and falling belly, eventually landing in the precious heart, cultivating our healing, our return to wholeness.  Luskin suggests we breath into the heart, give thanks, and ask for a gentler solution.
  6. This step may be the most difficult.  Luskin says we eventually come to a vow to not talk about our suffering in a way that will disturb us or others.  Until we’ve truly met a place of forgiveness, of what Hawaiians call pono (balance), we vow to hold silence.  We commit to only tell our story from a position of benefits and insights gained from the betrayal.  The aim is to create a story that doesn’t limit one to a victim story.  The final part of this forgiveness practice is captured in the story we tell.  We can’t blame anyone for what comes out of our mouth.

I’ve had my share of receiving others’ unkindness.  I’m fallen into the powerlessness of victim thinking.  I’ve seen the wasted energy put to trying to change what ‘is’, to ‘make things right’.  I’ve seen people gravitate away from me when I’ve slipped back into ‘my story’, losing track of my real purpose: to tell the story from insight for the purpose of easing others’ suffering.

The journey is filled with challenges to resist the moment or face it’s wonder in awareness.  For me, ‘c’est la vie’ is about the lasting commitment to stand strong in truth, to fully meet the moment with an open mind and a full heart, in recognition to the wonder and beauty of the moment’s opportunity.  It’s about cultivating an attitude of gratitude, of ‘no complaint, no complaint’.  It’s about raising the vibration, acceptance, and letting our natural light shine brightly, even when things turn out differently than expected.

C’est la Vie…such is life