Say NO to create a BIGGER YES.

Say NO to create a BIGGER YES. 

Ok… so, I live inside a YES culture.  And, I love it.  I am ALL ABOUT the Big Yes to love, to life, to intimacy, to more life… I’m all about the delicious bio-chemistry of embracing my life.

But, really folks, have you taken a moment lately to celebrate NO?

NO it the other side of the big YES.  Without it… we’re just ceaseless, unbounded, amoebic blobs.  Without no, we can’t negotiate our time, energy attention, and intimacy.  Without no, we are unable to create healthy boundaries, to make coherent choices or to be effective in our leadership.

But, we are really afraid of the no. 

We are afraid we will disappoint, upset, off-put or loose out.  We are afraid to be perceived as negative.  We are afraid that NO will inhibit the yes.

We have equated no with negative.
What if no IS profoundly positive?
What if NO is the secret ingredient in a coherent system?
What if NO is the key to living a sane and healthy human life?
What if NO is also part of the BIG YES of oneness?

WHAT IF YOUR STRONG, CLEAR, NO FREES AND SUPPORTS THE BIGNESS OF YOUR YES?

Really… if I were a cell, and I only said YES, I would soon become a cancer.

  • If I were a gardener, and I only said yes, I would only have a plot full of weeds.
  • If I were a mother and I only said yes, I would exhaust myself, and my child would grow up without healthy boundaries or respect for others.
  • If I were a woman, and I only said yes, I’d be recapitulating the same dysfunctional and abusive relationships I came here to heal this lifetime.
  • If I were a leader and I only said yes, you would walk the other way….   Wouldn’t you?

I am here today to firmly and lovingly, joyfully and lightly, embrace NO.  Sometimes it takes a BIG NO to create an even bigger YES.

PRACTICE:

Take a few minutes today to contemplate where in your life you are AFRAID to say no?  Where are you withholding your truth in order to “keep the peace” or please another?  How are you overriding your no in order to please?  How are you holding on to more than you need to because you feel like you “should” be responsible or that you will hurt someone if you walk away?

How would your energy be freed up if you said no?  What would you really loose by saying no?  What might you gain?  And how would the whole situation be clarified and improved by your courage to set a clear boundary?  (Remember – sometimes there is no way to know the answer to this question in advance.)

NOW, pick up that phone, write that email, open that door, and say what needs to be said.  It is through this NO that we are able to create a BIGGER YES.

We Are Ancestors From the Future

We Are Ancestors From the Future

Who are your ancestors?
What future ancestors are already weaving your life?

Do you have kids?
Do you hang with your parents?
How many times have you and your family moved states, countries, counties, houses in your lifetime?

Does the word PLACE mean anything to you?

Who ARE you, anyway?

Never before have we woven lives in such a balance of immense personal sovereignty and such undeniable connectivity to the planetary web of life. Our identities are fluid and emergent. We live in a world in flux.

Our generation will be the weirdest grandparents.

Travelogue: 8 Lessons in Unconditional Love

"LOVE" at Water Woman FestivalLessons In Unconditional Love:

Travelling is learning.  Whenever we venture into foreign lands, some part of us wants to grow.  We want to expand our horizons, test our edges, and experience greater unity with our global human family.  Sometimes this connection comes in obvious ways – in a smile, a kind gesture, in the convergence of a pod of people standing together in awe of a rainbow or a sunset or a soaring bird, in the laughter or tears of a child, in something given, in something received.

In my experience, this learning rarely comes in the ways I expect…  Human beings are preferential creatures.  I, like just about everyone, am a creature of habit.  We gravitate towards what is comfortable and easy.  But, travel can be testing.  It’s a shake-up of the norm.  Growth often comes when I don’t get what I thought I wanted or intended – when a bus gets delayed for 5 hours in the heat of an Indian afternoon, or the tickets to Machu Pichu are sold out, or I get stuck in the Brazilian jungle for an extra week with two strangers and a misanthropic Royal Parrot named Ed.  I find that, if I allow space in my heart for the bumps and the kinks, I always get what I need to soften and open more fully to love.

I’ve been travelling in South and Central America for two months, now.  I’m saturated in the colors, flavors, smells of this land of mysterious and diverse cultures and climes.  Like a stone in the river of life, my edges have been polished by the rolling, sometimes disjointed, rhythm of constant movement.  I started this trip in the windswept Sacred Valley of Vilabamba, Ecuador, then headed North up to the technicolor lakes, jungle volcanoes and tribal textiles of Guatemala, Belize and Southern Mexico for a 20 day tour of the Mayan Heartland and a week at Lago Atitlan.  Then, I flew back down to Peru, where I am now, high in the mountains above Cusco, at over 11,500 feet above sea level (wow!).  I’m travelling with a Peruvian friend and staying at the home of one of his mentors and teachers.  We are living life en Español… a language I’ve never studied and am only now beginning to stutter into.  What a challenge.  What an opportunity – an opportunity to let go of all my ideas about what I think love and loving is and to live more quietly and wholly into something real and practical and responsive – something I recognized this morning as unconditional love.  It’s really ridiculously simple… and very worth taking note.

Given that we are, by nature, preferential beings.  It seems to me that living unconditionally is about shaping my preferences according to the natural patterns of unconditionality.  God, I love paradox!

8 Keys to Living Unconditional Love:

1.) Love who you are with.

The person or people in front of you are your opportunity to love.  Period.  Right now, there is no one else with whom to give and receive that mysterious currency called love.  So, turn towards who ever you are with and give them your eyes, your awareness, your listening, your curiosity and compassion and see what happens.  You don’t always get to choose your company, but you always get to choose how you attend to and respond to them.

2.) Let love be it’s own language.

Giving and receiving requires no words.  Presence requires no language.  Gestures form a complete language.  And, in the absence of language, it is easy to feel the heart.  It’s as simple as a smile, a gaze, a giggle, an exhale in the face of stress.  Let it be light.  Let it flow.  It will grow!

3.) Learning is a way of loving.

Whether traveling internationally or connecting with a new friend or lover in your hometown… everyone has a different language of love.  We ALL want to connect, to share, to understand and be understood, and we all do this differently.  So, love motivates us to learn how to observe and to communicate.  It’s really helpful to learn the language and customs of our new friends so that we can more fully understand and be understood, give and receive.  And, regardless of shared language, we can observe the habits of another with curiosity and respect to discover the non-verbal and gestural language beneath language.  We can also ASK QUESTIONS.  With observation, communication and questions, we can respond more coherently to our friends day by day.  Love invites us to rest into observation and learning BEFORE imposing our own ideas, opinions and preferences on a person, a people and a place.

4.) Love is a stillness.

Sometimes there is nothing to do.  Have you ever noticed those old couples who sit together in easy silence?  Non-doing is a place where shared peace, contentment, presence and delight are available.  Chill out.  As an American, I can be rather obsessed with optimal experience, with getting somewhere and gettingh things done.  In these South American (and many indigenous cultures) the value of not doing is penultimate.  People value relaxation and enjoying the moment above achievement and efficiency.  This can really confront the ego program that says “I am valuable because I achieve.”  Yeah!  By sitting still… we simply are OK.  Tranquillo….

5.) Love waits. 

“Patience, my love.”  In the absence of shared language, we have to be patient with our selves and our companions.  Relaxed, patient presence is one of the greatest things we can give or receive.  It takes time to look up that one key word in the dictionary… it’s worth it.  The greatest suffering when travelling generally arises through our impatience, the frustration of not being able to communicate or immediately get what we want, and the shame that we don’t have all the answers.  Travelling sometimes implies the bumpy process of communicating at the level of a 5 year old.  It implies letting other people do things for you, which means not being in control.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for ego death – for letting go of more ideas, opinions and preferences and being grateful for what is available in the moment.  Patience then, becomes a foundation for peace and enjoyment.

6.) Love does not need to “be understood.” 

Words can really get in the way of loving.  Our obsession with understanding and being understood is often the biggest block to simply sharing love.  I’ve been recognizing that I generally enter into relating with a perceived need to “be understood” as a prerequisite to that relationship working.  And, that what I really mean by this is that I want to have my worldview and my private inner world affirmed.  I’m realizing that this perceived need is more a function of insecurity than of love and loving.  If I am secure and grounded in myself, sharing is easy.  And, I don’t project an imagined need to be affirmed into the space of the relationship.  I mean, really…. It’s not the responsibility of my friends to understand all my little distinctions and the specific details of my perceptions.  This is just a projection of my ego desire not to feel alone.  Understanding can come in the silence, in the patience and in the gestures.  It really isn’t necessary to “be understood” in order to love and be loved.

7.) Love acts/responds. 

It’s the little things.  Every mother in the world is overworked.  Everybody appreciates getting a little shoulder rub, or having a cup of coffee poured.  Every person in the world appreciates a humble bit of help.  Whether you speak the language or not, you can clean the kitchen, do the laundry, hold the baby, fold the towels or give an old man a ride down the hill.  Love is a poetry of action.

8.) Love let’s go. 

“If you love someone, set them free.”  When travelling, we often love more freely and fully when we know that the connection is temporary.  We’ve all had that experience – the fierce, beautiful and fleeting love that will not last but that fills us with memories to last a lifetime.  This, in and of itself, is delicious.  But, the grace here is the capacity to hold lightly and wholly the object of our love.  If I can translate this to ALL of my relationships – to hold and to let go, to pour myself into the precious moment and hold the outcomes loosely – then I can really love!

~s.s.  November, 2012