cowardice and courage

My Heart | Happy Valentine's Day!

“My Heart” watercolor on yuppo 9″ x 12″

I recently encountered an experience with someone in my life whose actions I deem as cowardly. It made me think of “The Cowardly Lion” from The Wizard of Oz and his struggle to find courage. I googled “cowardly lion quotes” to see what I would find and came up with this quote from a user on the IMDb website known as “rzajac”, “I guess the part that “gets” me about the movie is how the writers made it pretty plain that the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion really already had what they thought they were missing; that their respective problems were in misapprehending their own complete natures. That’s a powerful statement for many of us. I found myself most touched in scenes where the Scarecrow was showing wisdom, the Tin Man feeling deeply (“…when I think of Dorothy in that awful place…”), and the Lion…well, maybe accomplishing this effect was harder in his case…what *is* true courage?”

This made me think about cowardice and courage much more deeply. So I looked up the definition of cowardice on dictionary.com which is “lack of courage to face danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.”.

In the spirit of self-exploration, I ask myself what part of myself does “the cowardly lion” in my own life mirror back to me? I certainly don’t want to get stuck in the place of judgment but rather desire to let my experiences inform and heal me.

I often think of myself as very courageous but, in truth, I have many areas of life where I don’t want to face pain, difficulty or opposition. I have, in the past, avoided the scale because I didn’t want to see the truth of how much I weigh. I have avoided conflict in my relationships (and sometimes still do) because I don’t want to deal with the challenge of it all. I have been surreptitious rather than forthright in the way I’ve handled things out of fear of not getting my needs met, of being punished, criticized and a host of other painful things. I have been working very steadfastly to stop these self-defeating behaviors and experience the transformation available when I stop projecting it all outside of myself and own it.

The word courage comes from the French word corage and the Latin word cor or “heart” which remains a common metaphor for inner strength. One of the meanings of this word from dictionary.com is “The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.” So, this tells me that if I remember to move from my heart, from LOVE, I will have the courage I need to face the areas of my life where I have a tendency to be cowardly.

I guess I already have what I thought was missing. I just need to remember that.

Spirit and Matter

Gravity for Illustration Friday

When I am deeply rooted in my own power and take full responsibility for my life, my spirit can soar free.

My spirit is not beholden to gravity and the rules of the physical world but my body is. The nature of reality, according to many belief systems is that the physical world is an illusion. I am not an authority on that so I wouldn’t know. Even if we live in a holographic universe, where the matter we experience everyday is a projection, it’s still the world we live in isn’t it? When an apple falls on our head around these parts, it hurts. I believe that learning to thrive on both the physical and spiritual planes is essential to our well-being and the evolution of consciousness. After all, that hologram is projected from somewhere, isn’t it? Whatever it is that projects the hologram must be attended to just as we attend to the bump on our head from the apple with an ice pack or some arnica.

I am currently reading “The Path of Transformation” by Shakti Gawain. She has this to say about our experience in the physical reality: “It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable to face these realities and our feelings about them, so most of us try to focus on other things. yet, in order to confront our personal and planetary problems, and try to solve them, we must first be honest enough to acknowledge the confusing, frightening feelings we may have and how overwhelming it all seems. The first step we must take in dealing with any challenge is to acknowledge what is is and how we feel about it. It is only through facing our fears and difficulties that we can find creative and effective solutions.”

The book goes on to discuss the nature of how our consciousness impacts the collective consciousness. I believe it is consciousness that is projecting that hologram. Some might call this consciousness “God”, some “The Universe”, some call it “static”. Whatever IT is, I am a part of it and I must take FULL responsibility for my part and make mindful choices because my projection impacts the whole.

I have a spiritual awareness of the innate goodness of creation. This is a visceral experience I have, not just some wishful thinking. I often see and experience the very best that is possible in a person or in the potential of an experience. This spiritual awareness sometimes clashes with the reality of what the material realm is offering in the moment. There is a lot of polarity in this third dimension. I don’t revel in polarity but I accept it, I see it and I let it inform me. I think I am here to experience the sensual, multi-dimensional reality as a flesh and blood human and those things are going to be a part of that experience. My essence is “spirit” but I have a body that is a reflection of my inner truth and and I live in a world filled with polarity and contradiction. I must allow the experience.

I’m not a monk or a yogi and I don’t aspire to that. I don’t have a gaggle of devotees making sure that my physical needs are met so I can connect with the spirit realm and share what I’ve found. I must make my own food, and make sure I have shelter. This is what I choose. I want to take responsibility for myself and integrate my mind, body and spirit in the present moment. I do not seek to transcend this reality or escape it. I truly believe I came here to co-create the process of transformation that is happening on this planet. When I consider what is happening in Tibet right now, of the Dalai Lama’s struggle, I see how that fits in with my own polarized inner reality. I don’t want to hide from anything. I don’t want to change anything per se since much of what’s “out there” is beyond my own personal control. I do, however, want to find peace inside of myself and let that positively impact the collective conscious.

I want to move through the process of consciousness deeply rooted in my own power so as to allow the process of transformation to unfold. I believe this is best accomplished by enjoying life, not running from it, having the courage to face my fears, allow my pain, taste the essence of the world and shed as much pure, spiritual, loving light on it as I can. I’m not convinced that going around “spreading the love”, “sending positive vibes”, “praying”, or doing “manifesting” work is going to truly impact us positively until we begin to rip back the layers of pain, delusion and darkness inside of us and heal those first. That is where true healing begins. We are bound to positively impact the wholeness of the body of “God” when we keep our own “cell” cancer-free.

Right now, every time I think about what’s wrong “out there” or begin to judge or reject someone or something (which I do far more than I would like to admit) I ask what inside of myself needs to heal. After all, no matter how much I wish I could control the world (and yes, I often wish I could), I can only truly control my own actions and that is more than enough work for this lifetime. That means taking responsibility for my choices, being mindful of my consumption, loving myself, and understanding how I fit into the bigger picture and being aware of the impact I have.

For today, I am focusing on loving myself. My goal is to truly learn to love, honor, respect, care for and appreciate each and every cell in my own body. I believe there is a lot of healing potential there.

With every moment I care for my physical being, my spirit soars that much higher.

my eyes | my heart | my self

schism

I am moving into the places of deep questioning that I believe we all go through at one point and time. The place that hopefully leads to spirit and ego shaking hands and deciding to play nice.

I am seeing the many ways I have either not been sincere in my interactions with others because I was coping (ego) or where I truly saw them in their light and beauty and reflected that back (spirit).

My therapist once told me that I see things from the perspective of an angel. I always see the best, the purest form. She also pointed out that that doesn’t work so well as a human. I have learned that well.

A lover said about me on his blog, “She sees a man who has flaws and chooses to see the lovely and beautiful in him anyway. Your eyes are a gift primarily because so many people sees themselves anew through them.” What a lovely reflection that is to me. The problem in that relationship is that it wasn’t sustainable. I didn’t know how to express the things I didn’t like with any sort of grace so I pulled away. It ended badly and I regret that. This is not the only relationship I have pulled away from because I didn’t know how to fully express myself without fear.

This has always been true for me. In order to shield people from pain (mainly myself), I avoided conflict and didn’t speak up when I needed to, didn’t ask for what I needed, didn’t assert myself.

This has created a huge schism within me. There is the outer me that people see (because it’s what I choose for them to see) and the inner me that has a slightly different truth that I have often been afraid to share. I am, at present, attempting to marry these selves.

I have learned that I am intense, raw, often critical, deeply loving and very human. I am a challenging person to be in relationship with because I see deeply and feel even more deeply. I now accept that “challeningness” as a gift, not a liability (well, in truth, perhaps both).

I can and do still see the best people have to offer. I will always see this way. I also owe it to myself and those I encounter to be sincere and that means being REAL, speaking up and speaking out even if or when it is uncomfortable.

It’s not my job to “keep the peace”. Doing so has only led to inner turmoil. I would rather embody peace by being clear and clean with my energy. I can do this best by being sincere always.

And so it is.

faith and safety

I had this thought while driving yesterday that we put our lives in the hands of other people every day. Whether we are driving or riding a bus or even walking next to a road, we put a huge amount of faith in our fellow humans. We trust that everyone will “follow the rules” and not hit us.

Sometimes they don’t. Or they mess up and we get hurt.

Yet we still keep driving and riding and walking because we must. Because life goes on.

I am considering how this relates to love. Sometimes in love we get hurt but many of us curl up into a ball and don’t want to let anyone else in or take another risk out of fear of getting hurt.

I have been hurt physically and emotionally in my life by people who loved me. I have often forgiven them because I see their true nature, the spirit in them that is housed in the body of a a fallible human just doing their best. This compassion, however, led me to stay in situations that did not serve me. Rather than asserting myself and having good boundaries, I would keep forgiving, loving and coming back for more hurt.

I’m doing that less and less.

Having been hurt is not going to keep me from loving ever more fully, however. I think I can actually love MORE fully as I create boundaries, know when and how to say “ouch” and move away from that which brings me pain. I find as I do this, it makes more space in my heart for love and deep intimacy.

I will continue to allow more and more love and people into my life as I treat myself with more love and honor. On the road, my faith in my own driving ability and cultivating a keen awareness of what is happening around me is what I can do to keep myself physically safe. By the same token, my self-love and awareness of my inner voice will help keep me safe in love as I continue to move through the world as a loving being.

I will keep trusting, opening and loving because life goes on and the world needs more love.