A Smile in My Heart: Enjoying the Journey of Now

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Reaching My Long-Awaited Goal

 

I recently reached a milestone.

 

For years, I’ve craved solitude. I’ve wanted to live alone.

 

This wanting has taken a few years to manifest from heart’s desire into physical reality. First, I’ve had a lot of financial blockages I’ve had to clear. Second, dealing with the psychological after-effects of a devastating illness (that almost killed me) has been a rather slow and complicated process. My task has been to heal layers and layers of trauma.

 

It hasn’t been easy. The self-healing work I’ve undergone has been, at times, quite rough and tumultuous. There were months when I felt stuck and frustrated, feeling like I’d never reach my goal.

 

But … now … I’ve finally reached my goal! I live alone!

 

About a month ago, I moved into a charming, cozy little apartment, on the banks of my favorite river on the planet, the mighty Maumee, the largest river to feed into the Great Lakes.

 

As I sip my tea and type to you this morning, I take a look around me. No roommate. No partner for support. Just me.

 

Just me.

 

This milestone is a deeply spiritual one. I’ve known, deep inside, the importance of this step to the “story of Anya.”

 

Living alone gives me the space and time I need for inner reflection. It gives me more silence. Less distractions. More time to meditate. More time to chant and pray. More space to discover the subtle truths of my nature.

 

This is a glorious time for learning.

 

 

Dissatisfaction with Success

 

A few nights ago, as I was washing the dishes, I found myself asking the question: “What’s next?” My mind was visualizing a chain of thoughts: selling all my belongings, hitting the road, getting on a plane, visiting ashrams, or maybe going to visit a loved one in England. My heart started pounding with excitement and anticipation.

 

But … wait a minute!! All the boxes haven’t even been unpacked yet—and my mind is already planning the next thing!!??

 

I’ve finally reached my long-awaited goal—and already I’m dissatisfied??!!

 

Instead of savoring and celebrating this milestone in my life, my mind is already a chaotic jumble of “what ifs” and “what next” questions. My mind wants to know what is ahead of this step.

 

Sigh.

 

This, my friends, is a prime example of the endless suffering of the monkey mind. Once one desire is attained, another one pops up in its place. Once one wish is granted, twelve more begin formulating.

 

In addition to over-planning, the mind loves to second-guess and doubt.

 

In the past few days, I’ve observed my monkey mind doubting whether living alone is “emotionally healthy” and wondering if perhaps I’ve wanted to live alone as a form of spiritual bypassing.

 

As I’m walking, a thought comes: “I wonder if I’ll ever get married again?” As I’m eating, a thought comes: “What if you get old and sick and no one is there to take care of you?” As I’m doing yoga, a thought comes: “You are selfish because you haven’t had children.” As I’m bathing, a thought comes: “You’re living a greedy life; you should really be living a life of service in an ashram or monastery.”

 

These questions and doubts are mind-made ghosts. They are fear-based.

 

When I sit in the clear light of peace and presence, after a meditation or during a Reiki session, I am one hundred percent sure that I have made the right choice to live alone—that this step is, in fact, a crucial part of my destiny.

 

 

 

From Planning to Patience

 

My spiritual awakening began while I was in graduate school. At the time, I was a classic Type A personality: a total overachiever, planner, competitive control-freak. My mind and my logical reasoning abilities were the crown jewel of my existence. I prided myself on my ability to strategize and get what I wanted from other people.

 

Indeed, back then I had every step of my life mapped out, with an array of contingency plans and alternate routes for “just in case.” I was the queen of planning, the queen of analysis … and, also, the queen of constant  stress.

 

Now, fast forward ten years. What is my life like today?

 

Living life now is much more from the heart than from the head. I feel into the moments of life rather than analyze them rationally. I use my intuition as my guide to discover what’s right for me.

 

The experience of watching my mind rush ahead into the future during these past few days has been a humbling experience. The overly-intellectual tendency to plan and always be looking ahead is obviously still very much alive within me.

 

And, yet, it’s been so important not to judge myself. I’ve been giving myself compassion for having these thoughts. I’ve been having patience with myself for wanting to plan.

 

 

Returning to Gratitude

 

I do not want to be angry at my mind—for my mind is simply doing what it’s been designed to do! Indeed, the mind is a brilliant machine whose purpose is to calculate risk and weigh options.

 

What I want for my life is to forgive my mind and enjoy the journey. To truly be here now. I want to commune with God here in this apartment, savoring each lesson that this chapter in my life offers. I want to dive deeply into the stillness and peace of this space—my own private little meditation cave—and discover the quiet truths herein.

 

Whatever step I take next is simply not important. Maybe I’ll get married again; maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll join an ashram; maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll have children; maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ve live alone for the rest of my life; maybe I won’t.

 

The next step doesn’t matter. In fact, on a certain level, the steps after this one do not even exist! Past, present, and future are limited concepts of the limited human brain. On an ultimate level, on the spiritual level, all that is real is the timelessness that I sense now as I type these words to you. I am in the flow. I have no worries, no questions about my future. All that exists are the click of these keys, and the chirp of robins outside my window.

 

I am peaceful; I am happy; I am alone and loving it.

 

Indeed, gratitude fills my being. I have this new wonderful space, this new beautiful home.

 

I have a smile in my heart.

How To Transcend Your Comfort Zone

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♥ Please see my Youtube video for more about how to transcend your comfort zone ♥

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Comfort zones. We all have them.

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Having a comfort zone is part of being a human being. It’s natural. It’s normal.

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A comfort zone may last a few weeks or a few years. It may be subtle or it may be glaringly obvious.

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What is a comfort zone? Simply put, a comfort zone is a plateau of evolution. A place where we feel stuck. Things feel heavy, slow, boring, tedious, lifeless, blaaaaaaa….

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Somewhere, deep within our bones, we somehow know there is more … but what is it? How do we reach for it when we don’t even know what it is? Or, if we do know what it is … how do we experience what we want if we’ve never experienced it before? What do we do? How do we transcend?
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A comfort zone might be an addiction. An unhealthy eating habit. A pattern of procrastination. A suffocating relationship that no longer brings growth. A job that holds no joy, that grimly “pays the bills.”
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So, my dear friends, I ask you: What’s your comfort zone?
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SPREADING OUR WINGS
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As we begin to consider how we will transcend our comfort zone, let us consider a lesser-known definition of the word transcend.
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To transcend means “to become independent of.”
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What does it mean to be independent? Well, to become independent of something, we become free. We spread our wings and we fly away, up up up into the beautiful sky. We go into the unknown.
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If you are reading this article, then, chances are, you are ready. You are ready to transcend and find your freedom.
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In my work as a life coach and healer, I have found that transcendence tends to occur in two major steps. Both steps are equally important to the process.
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BECOMING FREE IN 2 STEPS

Step One: Ask the Divine for Help.

 

It takes humility to recognize that we, as human beings, do not have complete control. One of the reasons why AA programs are so effective is because they begin with the basic premise that in order to transcend alcoholism, we must first ask God (or a higher power) for help.
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This is so powerful.
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Indeed, change does not happen without Divine intervention, aiding our efforts.

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Make no mistake: every time something miraculous happens to someone, every time some great change or good fortune occurs, there is Divine assistance at play.

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Our egos might want to resist this timeless wisdom, but if we can momentarily detach ourselves from ego and simply feel with our hearts, the truth becomes clear.

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It does take humility to admit we need help. This is not always easy. Nevertheless, once we can tap into that open space of humility, we open ourselves as a channel for the Divine to work miracles in our lives: to bring us the right people, resources, information, and energy that we need in order to transcend our comfort zone.

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My dear friends, I encourage you to not skip ahead to the next step before asking for help! Most people skip ahead to step two without fully feeling step one.

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Indeed, step one is absolutely vital!

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If we want to change, but do not humbly ask for assistance from the Divine, then the action that we take is often unfocused, ineffective, frustrating, or it may take incredibly large amounts of sheer willpower that may eventually drain us. We may even eventually quit, because we are burdened and exhausted by the heavy weight that comes with falsely believing that we are in 100% in control.
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Step Two: Take Inspired Action

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Yes, my friend, you do have a huge part to play in your evolution. You must take action in order for change to happen. You can’t simply stay in your pajamas all day, begging God for a miracle.
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However, the action you take must be first inspired by the Divine.

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What does this mean?
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Well, acting from a place of inspiration means becoming more and more in tune with our intuition. We must cultivate intuition in order to know which action is right action and which ideas are just coming from ego and are a drain on our precious energy.

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How do we cultivate greater levels of intuition, you ask?

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The answer is simple: We engage in spiritual practice. We meditate. We do yoga. We read spiritual books. We participate in spiritual community. We turn off the TV and we get out into Nature. We turn off our phones and breathe. We pay attention to the foods (fuel) we are putting into our precious bodies. We slow down. We be.

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As we devote more time in our daily lives to spiritual practice, our ability to tap into our intuition increases. We begin to hear what the Divine wants from us. We begin to feel the flow.
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Through Divinely-guided intuition, we clearly know the precise action to take that is most efficient on our path of transcendence, out of the comfort zone.

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By combining powerful action (step 2) with humble recognition of the Divine powers that assist us (step 1), we become free. We move into a future that is more abundant with light and joy. We shed our heavy past burdens.

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In truth, being stuck is an illusion.

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In truth, there is no stuck.

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The Universe wants us to evolve.

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The Universe wants us to grow.

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But don’t just take my word for it … test it out, and see for yourself!

 

An Angel in Disguise: Instead of a Speeding Ticket, a State Trooper Gave Me This

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There are moments in life that we never forget.
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We look back upon them, wondering if the Universe had arranged it just for us.
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One such moment took place many years ago.
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A MESSENGER IN DISGUISE
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My family and I were living in Houston at the time, and we were on our way to visit relatives in Arizona during the holidays. The easiest way to get there by car is to take Interstate 10 straight across Texas, heading west. My girls were still toddlers at the time, and my wife was dozing off in the passenger seat, settling in for the long drive ahead.
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Knowing that the trip would take forever, I was anxious to make good time, and was driving just over the speed limit.
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Then, two cars that seemed to be following each other passed me, going about 90 mph.  I decided, “hey, if they can go that fast, so can I!”  So I pulled in behind them and followed them, also going 90 mph.  At the time, I foolishly thought, “I’m behind them, so if a cop is going to pull somebody over for speeding, it will be the two cars in front!”
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Boy was I wrong!
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About ten minutes after I had started following the other two cars, I saw a state trooper with its lights on, following me, so I slowly pulled over to the side and stopped. We were somewhere between Houston and San Antonio, so we were still just getting started on our long road trip. “Great!” I thought. “What a way to start out a long trip!”  Needless to say, my wife was not pleased with me.
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After showing my driver’s license and my insurance to the state trooper, he asked me to step out of the car, so I followed him to the back of our car, nervous about getting a speeding ticket. He had very blonde hair, almost yellow in color, and the brightest, clearest blue eyes I have ever seen. There was a glimmer in his eyes, even though his face was stern, which struck me as odd.  He asked me, “Why were you speeding?”
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Not having a good response, I hemmed and hawed, and finally said, “Well, you see, I was just following the other two cars.  They were speeding as well, so I thought I could just follow them.”
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The officer looked me square in the eyes, with his bright blue sparkling eyes. From his appearance and demeanor, I could have sworn that I was talking to somebody not from this world! He told me something to extent of, “Don’t do things just because other people are doing them. Follow your own way; be true to yourself.”
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He then proceeded to let me go with just a warning.
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BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

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Wow.
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I could not believe it. Not only did I not get a speeding ticket when I was clearly speeding, but the trooper’s message hit home, in my gut.
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At some level, I already knew what he was saying to be true … as a loner, I generally tend to do my own thing anyways.  It seemed like the one time I had decided to blindly follow others, I had been given a stern but gentle warning—don’t!
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Needless to say, I did not speed the rest of the trip to Arizona.
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Ever since then, I have been ever-conscious of not blindly following others, but instead, processing information for myself and deciding what to do with it for myself. I have been warned, and next time I may not be so lucky.
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His message really applies to all of us: don’t follow others, but follow your own path.  Make decisions for yourself. Don’t just go with the flow, or with whatever is trendy or mainstream at the time. Follow what you know to be true and right in your own heart.
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This is true in pretty much every aspect of our lives: in our faith and spirituality; our relationships; our politics; our careers, and so on.
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Be true to yourself.  Follow your own heart and mind.

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So … are there areas where you may be following others blindly?

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Do you follow your heart—even if it goes against what others say?
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Do you follow what you know is right, and live with integrity?

 

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Known as the Be at Peace Coach, José de la Torre works with clients helping them achieve their goals and find peace by working with their minds, emotions and energy in a holistic fashion. He is author of Spiritual Living for Busy People, and also practices and teaches Qi Gong. Please contact him at peace-coach.com

Do You Feel Pressured to Smile? (Part 2)

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What would our world be like if we could all just sit with our sadness?

 

What would our world be like if world leaders frequently took time off to sit by the river and meditate? What would our world be like if CEOs felt it was okay to cry and show vulnerability?

What would our world be like if we all felt the freedom to express our authentic selves, in each moment?

 

Dear friends, let’s imagine such a world.

 

 

SHIFTING TO A SELF-CARE PARADIGM

 

How do we create this new world?

The journey begins with each one of us.

 

If you’re sad, simply sit with your sadness. No need to smile. No need to run to addictive behaviors. No need to lash out and point the finger of blame at someone else.

Just sit and breathe.

 

Just be sad. Don’t worry about doing anything in that moment. No need to pretend you are available to be nurturing to others when you cannot.

 

You must fill your own glass before you can share with others.

 

Let’s all just sit in our sadness from time to time. Let’s give ourselves permission to do that.

 

Let’s sit with our tears. Our heartbreak. Our grief and confusion.

 

And during those periods, if it feels right, we can phone a loved one and ask for support. We can seek a professional healer. A massage therapist. We can call in sick to work. Take an epsom salt bath. Dance naked in the living room and sweat out the pain. Play some healing music. Do whatever it takes to feel and be present.

 

Through your commitment to your own healing journey, you give permission to the rest of the world to adopt a new paradigm of self-care and compassion. You help humanity shift.

 

And … here’s the ironic thing. Once we are reminded that it’s okay not to smile, that it’s okay to drop our masks and be our genuine authentic selves … we often find that what is most genuine and most authentic is a clear space of love.

 

Even when we find ourselves in the throes of anxiety and depression, what we find, underneath, if we let ourselves surrender to that space of pure feeling for just a little while, is that a vast space of love that opens up.

 

In other words, once we give ourselves permission not to smile, we may find that, rather quickly, we are ready to smile again.

 

 

TELLING THE TRUTH OF THE DARK WITHIN THE LIGHT

 

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you identify as a helper, healer, caregiver, lightworker, or wayshower. You understand, intuitively, that your presence on this planet is a source of inspiration for others. You have deep compassion in your heart and want to relieve suffering.

 

People like us, we are born to feel. Born to help. However, we must temper that natural inclination with giving ourselves permission to be authentic to ourselves and to always look after ourselves first.

 

This is not wrong or selfish! By loving ourselves, we build and strengthen ourselves so that we may then go out into the world and use our own life as a testimony to others.

 

As we love ourselves and set the example, it is important that we remember to tell the truth of the dark within the light.

 

If we hold ourselves to overly strict, rigid standards about “always being positive” or “always bringing the light”, then we may inadvertently carve a mask on top of our natural face.

 

The darkness (sadness, grief, etc.) has much to teach us about acceptance and unconditional love, too. The darkness is a wonderful teacher.

 

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s essay “The Dandelion Has My Smile”, he asserts that forcing ourselves to smile when we feel sad is a good practice, because eventually that forcing will become genuine. While I do agree that there are certain situations in life where it’s good to stretch ourselves out of our stale comfort zones and cultivate gratitude even in the worst of situations, I also think that his advice misses the point for some of us who hold the martyr archetype or those of us who tend to over-carry for others.

 

Indeed, I believe that we can go overboard on always feeling the need to smile. We can get hooked on “always being the shiny happy one.” We can become addicted to it, in an egoistic way, creating a split between the sad self we feel in private and the happy shiny self we display in public. This can only lead to disjointed, schizophrenic feelings of isolation and despair.

 

As a highly sensitive person and empath, I have felt for many years that is my duty to smile and make eye contact with every person I see on the street and in public spaces. And now … I realize the fallacy of that belief.

 

On the one hand, my intention has been good: I have wanted to use my life, every waking moment, to be a shining light, helping wake others to their own power and divinity. Such an intention has indeed brought great joy into my life.

 

On the other hand, that day in the park was terrible. (Please see Part 1 of this article.) My obligation to be smiley felt more like a burden than a blessing. I felt like a fake, a sham. More than anything, I wanted to just hold my own hand and not speak to anybody. I wanted to just walk by everybody without a word or even a glance.

 

This realization—about wanting to be real in public—is something that many of my friends and clients are realizing, too. There seems to be something in the air, at this time on our planet, about wanting to make peace with our emotions.

 

Indeed, we as human beings have an aching desire to show all the parts of ourselves. Not just the shiny parts.

 

I desperately want to show the Anya without the makeup. To show her tatters and scars. I don’t want or need to show this side to everyone, of course (especially not the narcissists or those misguided souls who delight in harming others), but I do want to show this side of me more and more to a growing number of loved ones, clients, colleagues, and intimates.

 

I don’t want to create a false image of myself on this blog or in my life in general.

 

I want to show the real me to you: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want to give you the chance to embrace me for all my facets: my dark, as well as my light.

 

I want to be real.

 

 

SHARING OUR DEEPEST QUESTIONS TOGETHER

 

As we awaken further and further, we dive into the deepest of questions.

 

Who am I? What is life? What am I doing here? What is the point of all of this?

 

As I write this article now, I am asking: Who the heck is Anya Light?

 

As I pause to sip my tea, I smile, knowing that, ultimately, Anya Light is a label. A concept. A reference point in a sea of mysterious energy.

 

Paradoxically, when I think of life in this way, my body relaxes. I take myself down off the hook of needing to be perfect, and I can just enjoy my life—just as it is, just as I am.

 

Is Anya Light always blissful and bursting with light? No. Is she always compassionate? No. A fully enlightened yogini? Certainly not.

 

Here are some truths about the realities of living as “Anya Light.”

 

I am the archetypal “wounded healer.” I have come to know healing only through intensely plunging into the depths of suffering.

 

I have pulled myself out of some very dark holes, and I teach others how to do the same.

 

These holes that I dealt with can be described as chronic illness, suicidal depression, and PTSD. Even though I am healthier now than I have ever been in my entire life, and even though I facilitate safe spaces for others to heal themselves, I sometimes still have relapses.

 

Sometimes when I’m lacking food or sleep or when stress hits, certain old PTSD symptoms flare up. On these days, I am sad and frightened, like a little child. (Part of healing from trauma is the undeniable fact that even after the worst has passed, and even after the time has come to let go of the label PTSD, sometimes symptoms still come back.)

 

The truth is: Anya Light is not always light.

 

Sometimes I’m so fearful of this world that I hide myself in my apartment.

 

As an empath, I get super overwhelmed sometimes. I feel too much: the terror, horror, and injustice that is unfortunately commonplace in our modern world. Sometimes I cannot comprehend or cope with it!

 

Why would people pay good money to sit in a theater and watch violence on the screen and consider that “entertainment”? Why would people start rumors and gossip about their coworkers? Why would a parent fail to hug their child? Why would politicians steal money out of pension funds? Why would there ever be such a thing as homelessness? These are the questions I ask that I do not have answers for—and they sometimes send my head into a worried, tired spin.

 

Sometimes … the truth is … living on this planet just seems like too much. And I lose my sense of who I am and why I’m here.

 

But, dear friends, I don’t want to hide any longer! I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the world’s madness. I want to come out of hiding.

 

I want to say to the world “Hey, I’m sensitive and that’s okay!” I want to show others my tears and fears. I want to hold so many hands. I want to surrender to the light that resides within, no matter how dark that light might sometimes appear to be.

 

I want to be the change I want to see in the world.

I want to reveal my vulnerability.

 

I want to let others truly see me.

 

I want to be the change.

 

 

LET’S TALK!

 

As you ponder all that I’ve shared with you, I encourage you to read, re-read, and journal about the following questions. Bring them up with your friends and loved ones. Seek answers, throw out the answers, laugh, and start again.

 

What is it you desire to experience in this lifetime?

What is your purpose?

Are you willing to show your true self?

Who is your true self?

What are the emotions you’ve quarantined or dismissed as “not evolved”?

Are you ready to come out of hiding?

Are you ready to show the light and dark within you?

How do you want to affect this world?

What is the more beautiful world your heart knows is possible?

Are you willing to show your true face—even without the smile?

 

Dear friends, I’d love to hear your answers to these questions in the comments. The more we can talk openly about these kinds of questions, the more we co-create the kind of world that makes us proud.

 

I love you all.

 

~Anya

 

 

Do You Feel Pressured to Smile? (Part 1)

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Recently, I was walking in the park near my home. It was a beautiful day outside: sunny, warm, blue sky.

 

But … inside … I felt rotten.

 

I had slept poorly the night before. I was going through some difficulties at work. My brain was tied into a million worried knots.

 

My reason for going to the park was to relax. I wanted to reconnect with the simplicity of nature. I needed to breathe and reboot. My plan was to be alone, without words, without other people, and just be with the trees and allow my emotions to flow.

 

However, when I began to walk the myriad paths through the sycamore and oak, I began to pass by many people from my small town. It was strangely crowded at the park that day. Apparently, my idea to take advantage of the gorgeous afternoon in the sunshine was not my idea alone!

 

As I passed person after person, I realized, suddenly, that I been forcing myself to smile at all of them. I had been putting an artificial tone of cheer in my voice and had been saying “hello!” and “good afternoon!”…when all I really wanted to do was cry.

 

I wanted to feel and really allow the sadness. I didn’t want to be fake. I didn’t want to smile.

 

But I was fake that day. The smiles and the hellos were forced.

 

Why did I feel an obligation to be cheerful? Why had this happened?

 

 

 

THE BEAUTIFUL DESIRE TO HELP

 

If you are a naturally giving or naturally upbeat person, you may wish you could smile all the time. Of course! It’s lovely to want to smile.

 

If you are a caregiver, parent, healer, therapist, minister, motivational speaker, teacher, coach, or helper of any kind, it is your natural tendency to want to uplift others. You want to make this world a better place. You want to bring the light. That is so awesome!

 

And … yet … we can get ourselves into tricky situations when we fail to honor our authenticity. When we force ourselves to smile or try to help too much—at the expense of our own needs.

 

I’ve seen it all too often. The genuine desire to be a beacon of light becomes, unfortunately, the mask we feel obliged to wear 24/7. It becomes a heavy burden, a façade. Slowly, over time, we begin to live solely for others, instead of acknowledging that we ourselves sometimes need help too.

 

Sometimes we are sad, too.

 

 

GIVING YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BE REAL

 

My dear friends, you don’t always have to smile.

 

Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes you feel like shit. Sometimes you don’t get enough sleep or you catch a cold. Sometimes you are triggered by this crazy world: politics, taxes, paying your bills, the cruel treatment of children or animals.

 

You don’t always have to smile.

 

You don’t always have to shine.

 

For example, if you’re feeling lousy today and you’ve got to go to the grocery store, cut yourself some slack. Visualize a protective bubble of light around yourself and just breathe. Love yourself. Go to the store and don’t worry that you don’t have the energy to do what you normally do, such as make abundant eye contact with the cashier or cheerfully chat with your neighbor.

 

If you’re feeling low, it’s okay to turn off your “empathy button” for a while. Be in your own world. Give yourself permission to be exactly who you are in this moment: empty, flat, tired, and sad.

 

You don’t always have to smile. You don’t always have to be shiny. You don’t always have to be the perfect embodiment of joy, confidence, peace, and happiness. You don’t always have to bring the light. You don’t always have to help.

 

 

THE WONDERFUL TEACHINGS OF JIM CAREY

 

The comedian Jim Carey is a wonderful example of someone who has realized the value of being genuine.

 

In recent interviews and speeches, Carey talks a lot about letting our masks drop. Having the courage to set them down and be real.

 

He reminds us the value of being raw and authentic, genuine and vulnerable. In order to fully step into our beautiful humanity, it is essential to intentionally show our weakness to others. By allowing ourselves to be seen as “imperfect,” then we give others permission to relax and do the same. In this way, more compassion comes into the world. And more realness.

 

Carey’s message is the same as countless sages throughout history. He realized that only through daring to be vulnerable can our true light shine through.

 

The true light of God, Divinity, the Universe (whatever you want to call it) is within us—but if we pretend to be feeling that light when we are not, we are only hurting ourselves.

 

Sometimes, what we need to do is cry.

 

Sometimes, what we need to do is reach out to a trusted friend and say, “I need help—can we get some tea and talk?”

 

Sometimes we need to go to our Mum and say “Hey Mum, I’m scared. Can I have a hug?”

 

Sometimes we need to call in sick to work.

 

Sometimes we need to say “no” or let someone down in order to take care of ourselves.

 

Carey tells us about how, early in his career, while he was striving to become famous, he not only played the roles in the scripts, but he also played a role in his larger life: that role was called “Jim Carey”! But, he didn’t realize that he was doing this until he began to spiritually awaken.

 

In his awakening (the unraveling of his ego), he realized that in order to continue his evolution as a soul, he must drop even the role of Jim Carey! He must dare to let others see him, truly see him, moment to moment.

 

Who is underneath the mask, the persona?

 

When we make the choice to step outside the boundaries of the tense, anxious, ego-self (even if only for a few minutes, even if only for a little bit), we will find a free-flowing relaxation. A loosening. A delicious unravelling. A peace. And we will realize, incredibly, that we are not limited to form.

 

We are boundless.

 

What is underneath the mask is what the mystics have always spoken of. The collision of this moment and the infinite. The conflagration of spirit and emptiness. The person and the being. The Tao. The way. The everything.

 

Jim Carey dares us to be authentic.

 

And so do I.

 

What I learned in the park that day was a turning point in my life.

 

I realized that I needed to take care of myself first. And what that sometimes means is having the courage not to smile. To just feel and honor my own sadness. To just be human.

 

Even the inspiration of seeing yourself as a healer or a helper can become a false idol, a mental image. If we believe we “are” that thing that we do—even if it’s positive such as being a teacher or a nurse or a minister or whatever—then we will ultimately drown in that form. We will ultimately sink, into the darkness of confusion and untruth.

 

If we can relax our human role identity, it is then, paradoxically, that we can allow the full range of humanness—all our sometimes seemingly crazy, chaotic emotions—to emerge and be truly felt.

 

 

 

THE BEAUTIFUL TEACHINGS OF BRENÉ BROWN

 

Another person who has helped bring these lessons of authenticity to the light of our collective consciousness is Brené Brown.

 

In her infamous TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability” (with over seven million views on Youtube), she teaches how being vulnerable is a radical act of courage that can change the world. She shows how vulnerability is ultimately an empowering act: one we can intentionally choose in order to liberate ourselves from fear and step more fully into our joy.

 

Instead of reaching for that banana nut muffin and a beer, as she reminds us, do we have the courage to really feel what we are feeling? Do we have the courage to just breathe and be, instead of rushing to numb ourselves with food, drugs, or other addictive behaviors?

 

Can we find the courage within ourselves to reach out for help and be honest with those we love about our challenges?

 

Can we be honest about our sadness and our fears?

 

Brown’s questions are potent and transformative. In a world that’s waking up, it’s exactly what we need to hear.

 

She helps me remember that I don’t always have to smile. Sometimes I can be sad, and that’s okay.

 

 

THE CONTINUING CONVERSATION

 

This post has two parts, my friends. Please tune in next week, as I explore this conversation further.

 

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with two simple questions:

 

Do you ever feel pressured to smile? Why is that?

See You Later, Summer

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Fall has always been a very challenging time of year for me. I routinely joke with friends that I was “born in the wrong place.” For my particular body type, eighty-five or even ninety degrees Fahrenheit feels just right. So, in northern Ohio where I live, when the temps begin to drop in autumn, it’s challenging to stay Present with all the different sensations in my physical form.

As I watch the trees shift from green to yellow to brown, there is often a feeling of dread. I watch, day by day, as the grass dries, the flowers curl and blow away, and there are fewer and fewer children playing outside in the park near my home.

Each year at this time, the courage within me must rise again. I must find it within me to accept the choice that I have made to remain living here and not move south (there are many good reasons). I must find it within me to bade farewell to the beauty and the comfort of summer. I must breathe deep and find, somehow, the gratitude for life that lies within me.

As a friend of mine, Unity minister Claudia Tambur, writes in her recent blog: “Now is not the time to cling to what has been.”

Indeed. Now is not the time to cling. Not the time to look back.

Now is not the time for allowing the old paradigms of sadness and grief to overwhelm and engulf the heart. Now is not the time for fear.

Instead, what is called for now—for me and for all us who are facing challenging life circumstances—is a gentle letting go. A feeling of gratitude for what is passing. And a feeling of trust that the future is, indeed, going to be wonderful.

I am reminded of a Native American tribe, The Lakota. They do not have a word in their language that means “goodbye.” Instead, the tribe uses “toksa,” a term meaning “see you later” or “see you next time.”

The Lakota remind us that there will always be a next time, whether in this lifetime or the next.

There will always be another summer.

It may be easy to forget the Truth, in this dense world of appearances…but the Truth remains the Truth: We are infinite, immortal consciousness. We are light.

We are souls, temporarily inhabiting a body, a form.

We die, and then we are reborn. We love, and then we let go.

We spin and spin, on this wondrous cycle of life.

As we each take a moment to usher in the fall season this year, let us bow our heads and say, “Thank you.”

Let us not say goodbye…let us say “toksa.”

Let us smile, even at the dying leaves.

Transcending Self-Sabotage: A Frequency Perspective

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You’ve probably heard of self-sabotage.

Self-sabotage is when we find ourselves acting in ways that are totally contrary to what we have learned. In other words, we “know better”—and yet we do it anyway.

Why do we do this?

Today I’d like to talk with you about self-sabotage in a different way, a way you’ve probably never heard before.

I’d like to explain self-sabotage from an energetic perspective. From the perspective of frequency.

 

What are Frequencies?

In our daily lives, we exist in a constantly fluctuating range of energetic frequencies. The range always exists, meaning that there is always going to be the lowest rung on the ladder that we could possibly feel on any given day at that particular stage in our life, and, conversely, there is always going to be the highest rung that we could possibly feel given that particular stage of our life.

As time passes, what constitutes our typical range will change. What you are capable of experiencing changes. Over the years, your highs will get even higher. And as time passes, your lows will not be as low as they once were.

Simply put, frequencies are emotions. Emotions are frequencies. They are one and the same.

An emotion is simply a frequency interpreted by the body-mind. So, for example, sadness and depression could be characterized as a low frequency, while the emotions of happiness and joy could be characterized as a high frequency. Sensations in the body such as heaviness and sluggishness could be characterized as low frequency, while sensations such as lightness and flexibility could be characterized as high frequency.

If you feel like you’re slugging through thick mud, you are in low frequency. If you feel like your body is vibrating or floating, then you are in high frequency.

What we experience on any given day is going to fluctuate, from hour to hour, even sometimes from minute to minute. This fluctuation is a normal part of being alive in a body. Even the great enlightened sages and teachers fluctuate: they sometimes feel neutrality, calm, joy, bliss, sleepiness, peace, and sometimes they even feel sadness. We all fluctuate. To fluctuate in frequency is to be human.

 

The Pattern of Self-sabotage

If we can view emotions and sensations as existing in an ever-shifting range of frequencies, then we can understand self-sabotage and how to gently dissolve this pattern out of our existence.

Self-sabotage is when we engage in an action or behavior that lowers our frequency. It is often an addictive or compulsive behavior. Often, after we self-sabotage, we feel like we’ve just woken up out of a bad dream. There’s this hazy, surreal quality to the whole action of self-sabotage, and when we come out of it, we are left scratching our heads, thinking, “Why in the world did I do that?

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on self-sabotage in my own life.

I recently had a gathering at my home, where twenty incredible friends gathered to partake in delicious nutritious food together, sing magical songs, meditate, fire-spin, and participate in a group healing session. It was amazing, out-of-this-world! Many who participated in the event commented that it was the highest they’ve ever felt without using drugs.

I too left the event with a feeling of elation. The following day, I felt I was walking on a cloud. All of life made sense, and everyone I encountered looked as beautiful as the Buddha. There was a shine to everything, a glow.

Two days later, however, I found myself reaching for some chocolate. As I am recovering from adrenal fatigue syndrome, I know that it is best to avoid caffeine and sugar in my diet. I have learned, over and over, that what my body needs most is total peace and calm—not stimulation. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that chocolate has negative consequences for my body.

And yet, I ate the chocolate. I ate a lot of chocolate. You could say I totally binged on chocolate.

As you might imagine, the next few days were hell. The caffeine interrupted my sleep patterns, and I was left a jittery, exhausted mess.

Why in the world did I do that to myself? Why did I make that lousy choice? At the outset, this seemed like a complicated inquiry for me to undertake. Yet, after reflecting and meditating, I realized that the answer was quite simple.

The answers to my questions are most easily revealed through an energetic perspective.

Let’s say you are flying high, like I was just after getting together with my friends… perhaps you just got a promotion at work, or perhaps you have just made love to your sweetie for the first time. Whatever the case, you are experiencing a higher rung on the ladder of your own personal frequency range. You are flying; you are free; perhaps you even feel weightless. You feel the world is vibrating to the beat of your own joyful heart, and you hope that you will somehow stay in this ecstasy forever.

But then the ego comes in. The ego doesn’t understand what joy feels like; the ego doesn’t understand what bliss feels like. The ego only knows separation and pain, and so that is what it tries to reinforce.

The ego decides, then, that the only thing it can do is to reassert yourself is to feed your mind doubts, worries, or lies.

When I reached for chocolate on that fateful day, I had the idea in my mind that maybe I would feel even better than I already did by eating the chocolate.

Is that crazy? Well, yes, of course—but that is exactly how the ego operates! The ego feeds us crazy ideas in order to re-establish itself and its own experience (pain, suffering, separation).

Based upon my years of experience as a person recovering from adrenal fatigue, I had learned without a shadow of a doubt that caffeine is one of the worst poisons I can put into my body. I knew this! And…yet…I believed the idea that the ego fed me: that if I ate the chocolate, I would be flying even higher than I was before.

 

Transcending the Pattern

Why did I believe the lie that the ego told me?

Well, there was clearly some subconscious things happening that I was unaware of. What I was experiencing, the day after the gathering of friends, was bliss. Total ecstasy. In Western culture, the state of bliss is not recognized as culturally acceptable behavior. There is, in fact, a deep suspicion of bliss. Bliss is seen as craziness, madness, as out-of-bounds from normal social existence.

I was in bliss—meaning, I was One with all. I was not concerned with paying my bills, I was not concerned with clocks and calendars. I remember walking around my neighborhood the day after the event, and seeing every stone, every blade of grass, and every person walking their dog as a piece of my own soul. I felt intimately connected to everyone and everything I saw. I felt deep love and compassion. This was bliss. This was what the great sages feel in every moment. This was enlightenment. This was it. I was it.

And then my ego totally freaked out. And, actually, justifiably so—because it felt like it was dying! It indeed was losing its grip on my reality.

The ego came in, reminding me (on a subconscious level) about the mandate against bliss in our culture. It came in, warning me that this high frequency might obliterate all the things in my life that I take for granted: maybe if I stayed in this state long enough, I would lose all my friends? Or maybe I would lose my work, my home? Maybe if I stayed in this state, my body might dissolve altogether or spontaneously combust?

All these worries and thoughts were fed to me, by my ego, on a subconscious level. I took them in. And then on, a conscious level, this thought appeared in my mind: If you eat chocolate, you might feel even more awesome than you already do.

The reality of living in a body in a Universe composed of energy is that energy fluctuates. After a few days, or perhaps at most a few weeks, my frequency, after my friendship gathering, would have dipped a bit lower as the days passed. It would have been normal, natural, and quite alright for me to dip down out of bliss, and perhaps into mid-range frequencies: feelings such as optimism, tenderness, safety, centeredness, stillness, peace, or mellow calm. That would have been normal, and to be expected.

And, yet, my self-sabotaging behavior caused me to quickly plummet to much much lower states such as anxiety and sadness.

If we want to understand why we engage in self-sabotage, we must understand it from the perspective of energy, of frequency. The ego wants to knock us down from high-frequency states—because it fears the dissolution of its own existence—by introducing erroneous logic into our minds. Because we are so high, so open and trusting of ourselves, then, during these high frequency states (where we see the perfection in everything, the love in all), we then can sometimes fail to use logic in making decisions. It is as if the ego knows we are liable to say “yes” to anything, because we feel so good. We trust. And, yet, this trust without logic will ultimately be our downfall, as we engage in self-sabotaging behavior.

Yes, it is good to trust and to surrender to the Universe, but it is also imperative that we continue to use logic and rationality when faced with certain choices in our lives. For example, if we are healing from alcohol abuse, then, whilst in a state of bliss, the ego might arise and whisper: “It won’t hurt to have a drink now. I can handle it; I won’t become addicted again.” If a thought like this occurs to us, we can simply note that the thought is in reference to a pattern of addiction. A warning flag can then go up in our mind. With loving attention, we can review the past of our lives, review our intentions for the future, and make the informed choice of abstaining from the drink.

 

The Rainbow of Life

Too often, we think of the awakening path as devoid of using the mind. This is simply not true!

While it is true that meditative practices can liberate us from the worries and negative patterns of the mind, it is also true that the mind can be a powerful tool. The mind can serve us on our awakening path when we are its master.

Therefore, when we enter high vibrational states such as bliss and ecstasy, we cannot simply relinquish our logical minds and allow the ego to trick us into making self-sabotaging choices in order to bring our frequency back down into a state of separation.

When we are in joy or bliss we can remind ourselves that it will naturally happen, over days or weeks, that we will at some point dip down a bit, maybe into states such as alert friendliness, thankfulness, peace, quiet, serenity, trust, or tranquility—perhaps not as fun to experience as joy or bliss, but still wonderful states to experience.

And, equally so, we can use our minds to remember that if we are in low frequency states (depression, anxiety, fear), our ego will want to drag us down even further, and therefore will tempt us with lower frequency choices: such as using drugs/alcohol, using sexuality to numb or escape our emotions, oversleeping, binging on “comfort” foods, and consuming mindless media.

When we see how the ego simply wants to maintain its hold on our lives, it is easier to see through these patterns, and enter the light of a new consciousness.

When we avoid self-sabotaging behaviors through using the wonderful powers of our mind, the new “low” end of our frequency range can shift over time: from depression to sadness, from sadness to tension, from tension to relaxation, from relaxation to happiness.

This process takes time. Yet, it is entirely possible that a single lifetime can produce amazing change. In my life, for example, I have gone from suicidal depression as the lowest rung on my frequency range to states of lethargy and sadness as now being the lowest of what it is possible for me to experience during this phase of my life. Each year, it keeps getting better and better. Each day: better and better.

As we attune ourselves to viewing the world from a frequency perspective, to viewing our own bodies and minds as that of energy beings, things just start to make more sense. We can see our lives from a more nuanced point of view, and we can take positive action, rather than self-sabotaging reaction, and enjoy our lives, fully, in all their glorious colors.

Playfulness

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When people think of spiritual practice, “playfulness” is not usually the first word that comes to mind. We might think that dancing on a beach or rolling around in the grass is playful, but that a spiritual practice must be the opposite: serious. I often see many people who follow a spiritual practice become very serious. If you think or practice something slightly different than what they practice, they even can become offended or angry. In a way, instead of finding spaciousness and freedom in their practice, they have put themselves in yet another box, the spiritual box.

We might begin a spiritual practice to step out of the boxes we put ourselves in during our daily life. But often we just replace that tight box of our normal daily life with a new tight box of a spiritual practice. We trade one rigid, constricting way of being for another rigid, constricting way of being. And because we call the new way spiritual practice, we may tell ourselves (and others) that this is great, this is better, this is how and who we want to be in our practice and in our life.

But in reality we practice a spiritual practice to lay bare our innate light. Many different traditions use the metaphor of light: clear light, great bright light, inner light, and light of life, just to name a few. This light can not be boxed in; it is the light of spiritual freedom and playfulness.

Look outside and see how the natural light plays through the leaves of the tree, how it glitters on the waves in the lake and how it dances around the streets. This natural light touches everything with a playfulness and with equality. No distinctions are being made, no labels are being placed, no judgments are being made by this light. Even if a big storm is brewing, the light plays and dances around and within the storm, the light dances freely in a playful manner.

Thus, we can start to see if we are practicing our spiritual practice in the truest way by looking at ourselves and seeing if we are still in our tight box, or if have we stepped out of the box and are becoming more playful. Look at the Dalai Lama, Shunryu Suzuki, Thich Nhat Hanh, Daehaeng Kun Sunim, and Mingyur Rinpoche, who have laid bare their inner light. Deep spiritual practice has not made them sober or serious; their eyes have a perpetual twinkle. They are so playful and their playful light has touched thousands of people. Their teachings are full of laughter, playfulness, and direct non-complicated wisdom. Due to having laid bare their innate playful light, they teach in a playful, joyful, and light manner. Whether we imagine them (or ourselves) rolling around in the grass or sharing wisdom in a class, the light and playfulness can shine through.

 

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Frans Stiene has been a major influence on global research into the system of Reiki since the early 2000s. His practical understanding of the Japanese influences on the system have allowed students around the world to connect deeply with this practice. Frans is a co-founder of the International House of Reiki with Bronwen Logan (Stiene). He has also co-authored with her the critically acclaimed books The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, and A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook.

 

“Playfulness” was originally published on International House of Reiki blog.