Category Archives: Surrender

hot tub epiphany–parenting

Iman big eyesThe price of manifestation in this one-song-uni-verse is a wild, open, chaotic stew, where every thing and all things erupt.

The suffering my adult son is experiencing–all mothers carry this: “the mother gene,” with a scouring empathy for our offspring. If we allow, it burnishes us empty.

I bear suffering differently, now–as everymother, shouldering this particular flavor of stew.

It is not personal.

The only way, is through. All that is required is noticing, which by its very nature, is infinitely compassionate and eternally loving. No longer diving into the painful soup with him does not make me a bad mother. I’m a better mother for not doing so. I’m here, available, filled with love for my son-who-is my-very-own-self.

He knows my cell number.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2016
I took this snapshot about forty years ago.

 

 

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addiction

hoarding cookiesThirty years ago, I used to be what I thought of as an “addictive personality.” I was addicted to trying to make myself feel better: through love, seeking belonging, and even regular marijuana use–to smooth the jagged edges I perceived in life.

I benefited from twelve step programs, eliminated the most destructive substances, and learned to manage more minor tendencies. For example, I ate mint chocolate chip ice cream in a tiny bowl–perhaps a quarter cup. My agreement with myself was if I couldn’t limit my portion to that, I couldn’t have mint chocolate chip ice cream in my house.

But I knew I had not found, nor addressed, the root cause of my wanting.

Fast forward thirty years. I was addicted to trying to alter my experience. I would never suggest this is true of anyone else, or even imply that my understanding would, or should work for them. But as I stopped trying to change what is, and not only surrendered to the heart of my experience, but have been willing to bring it closer rather than push it away, any sense of addictive pull has dissolved.

I am deeply grateful.

© Amrita Skye Blaine
image credit

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surfing the curl

Big Wave SurfingMy friend William emailed me the link to a seven minute video. His email had no note. He only sends what he feels has value, so, with curiosity, I clicked.

There I was, peering inside the curl of giant surf that hit our West Coast last week. The wave was massive—a literal thirty foot wall of water. Then, out of the violent, still center, surfed a man, riding the immensity of the curl. Wholly in the present, a slip-up away from serious injury or death, he balanced, flexing with the water’s movement, as the wave’s curl traveled.

In slow motion, his balance shifts, and the board slips out from under him. He’s caught in the Maytagging motion.

The video rides another monstrous wave, and another surfer emerges from its unimaginable depths. So much speed, yet somehow motionless, he is caught in the womb of the giant. Until, yet again, he loses that split second balance and goes down.

We all surf the wall of water called life—some of us with fine balance, some with clumsy attempts. Life seems oversized, outscaled; we appear minuscule in its grip. Apparently all there is to do is grab our boards again, wait for the precise time, launch into the vortex, and surrender.

All day, as events unfolded, some easy, some more challenging, I murmured “Surf, girl, surf!”—and found my balance inside the wave.

Wave and woman, life and woman, not two.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit
PS Do not miss the video! Carve out seven minutes as a gift to yourself.

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I have a plan

planHow many times have we said, “I have a plan” over our lifetime?

When we approach life with a plan, there is always some part of us to improve, to correct, to change.

I remember that I always had an idea of what events, relationships, or even my hair styles would look like, but they never turned out the way the mind envisioned. I had self-improvement schemes, too. For example, if I were kind enough, other people would be kind in return. Not necessarily so…

I no longer live with a plan. However it is, is how it is. This makes this wild experience we call life much simpler and easier. Much less stress, resistance, and drama.

Not having a plan makes life interesting right now, because I’m taking a year-long real estate course where I’m required to make a business plan. Which, of course, I will–because I’ve committed to completing this course. I will put close attention to what they ask of us, and attend to the details. But do I “believe” in it? Do I really believe I have individual control over my life? No longer–because this is so obviously not “my” life. I’ve spent hundreds of hours noticing, and I cannot find a “doer.” And yet doing happens, and life continues to unfold. Occasionally events even turn out in a pleasing way. Just as often, they do not.

I soaked in the hot tub tonight. Abruptly, the body-mind stood, and stepping out of the tub, wrapped up in a towel. There was no plan–or even the premonition of a thought–of leaving the warmth of the tub at that moment. And yet it occurred. I slipped into bed, looking forward to deep rest before an apparently very busy day tomorrow. Forty-five minutes later, I found myself sliding my feet into slippers, wrapping up in a hoodie, and returning to the computer.

Do I have any sense of when writing will stop, and I’ll return to bed? No idea at all. Perhaps writing will go on all night. Perhaps, a couple of minutes from now, the body will put itself back in bed. Whichever occurs, or something else completely unforeseen–I’m sure to be surprised by whatever shows up. That’s part of the delight of living now–it’s all so surprising.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
image credit

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Filed under Advaita, Dzogchen, Musings, Non-duality, simple pleasures, spirituality, Surrender, thoughts, Truth, writing

desire

rocks like a waterfall smallerYesterday’s post didn’t satisfy me. I rewrote it, and it’s still kind of… unrewarding. Onward–now is now!

Desire is a harsh taskmistress– we both want and don’t want the object of our desire. For example, Breyer’s mint chocolate chip ice-cream tugs at me in the evening, but I don’t want to put on extra weight. I yearn to find a home in a community close by and move, but sigh deeply, pondering all of the heavy lifting involved. Easily, tens of additional examples are available.

That’s the mind’s game: desiring. Another name for it is seeking–seeking other than what is here, right now: warm cup of coffee, Phoebe-the-hummingbird sitting on her fresh clutch of eggs on the monitor to my right, the small, burbling fountain in the background. All perfect, when the mind rests in the present. If I rest here and notice the stream of desires that arise, I can also take note of what is aware of the desires.

That-which-is-aware has no preferences. Desires can roll on by like waves on the beach; they simply show up and fade away–if we don’t grab on to them. It has become rather playful to watch them come and go.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit: I took this photo in December, 2000, on the Oregon coast

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inquiry, take two

smiling shivaYesterday’s post quickly falls apart under close scrutiny, because in the first half I spoke about the personal, separate “I,” and in the second half, I was referring to the inquiry that brings one to understand there is no personal “I” at all–all there is, is freshly unfolding life.

This is how words continually miss the mark they aim for. And yet, I cannot deny my love affair with them. Words keep me up at night, as I lie in bed honing, mentally wordsmithing, searching for the most subtle,  direct, honest expression I can put forward.

Inquiry is Shiva. It destroys what we believed ourselves to be. What’s left has no ownership–but nothing has been lost. As my friend and teacher Elias Amidon says, “We’re ruined.” Then he can’t help but chuckle.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit

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Ripeness, by Jane Hirshfield

This poem touches me so very deeply that I share it with you.

RipenessRipeness

Ripeness is
what falls away with ease.
Not only the heavy apple,
the pear,
but also the dried brown strands
of autumn iris from their core.
To let your body
love this world
that gave itself to your care
in all of its ripeness,
with ease,
and will take itself from you
in equal ripeness and ease,
is also harvest.
And however sharply
you are tested —
this sorrow, that great love —
it too will leave on that clean knife.
–Jane Hirshfield
 from “The October Palace”
credit: the post and photo come from Panhala Poetry

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no more escaping

no more escapingMost peoples’ waking hours are spent trying to escape what is going on right now.

She’s impatient with her husband’s snoring; he wishes she wouldn’t leave water on the bathroom floor. We’re irritated because the boss walks by too often to check what’s on our monitor, or the weather is too chilly, or too humid. Or perhaps we are simply wishing that our vacation would begin, that our back would stop hurting, or that our bellies were flatter.

If we’re human, we’ve wished for life to be other than it is. Sometimes our desire to escape what is happening is subtle, but often, it is blatantly obvious.

Notice that what is happening right now is the unstoppable birthing of life, and because it is here–already–it is not escapeable. Wishing it were otherwise is the main way that we torture ourselves. Perhaps what is opening in our lives is painful. Welcome it–because it is what it is–and if the pull is there to make change, and change is possible, do so.

I remember right after my father collapsed and died of a massive heart attack, I had the urgent desire for time to stop–to somehow honor the moment, and give us a breath to adjust. But the next moment descended, and the next… and soon it had been two days since his death, and then two weeks, two years, two decades. A vast coming and going, this journey, all within the spacious aliveness of awaring.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit

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powerless – a long post

This post is about healing from childhood sexual abuse. It is not graphic. However, if this is a trigger for you, simply delete. The text begins below the photograph of me, taken at age six.

Rita at 6

Two years ago, during a counseling session, I broke down and wept with a depth that simply didn’t match the event that triggered the crying. My head was between my knees, and my nose and eyes were pouring. And BOOM! There was a clear visual  of what had happened fifty-nine or sixty years before–the person, the place, the event, the feelings of powerlessness, betrayal, fear, and the loss. I had been sexually abused around age five or six by someone who had worked for my parents, lived on the property, and had befriended me. This early experience significantly increased my sense of separation and feeling that life wasn’t safe.

I raised my head and stared at my counselor. “You knew, didn’t you,” I said.

“I suspected so,” she said, gently.

I felt so much gratitude to simply know the truth. Some puzzle pieces of my life clicked into place, and I felt whole, perhaps for the first time. There had been pointers, but without direct memory, I saw no reason in hanging on to them. For example, I used to be terrified when my parents left town and left us in the care of others–even after that particular couple no longer worked for our family. I never took baths, only showers, until we had a hot tub. I don’t like to wear dresses, and when someone asked me thirty years ago why, the response that fell out of my mouth was that I didn’t feel safe in dresses. News to me! That thought had never coalesced before.

When I arrived at the hospital this Wednesday to have a women’s-only procedure, waves of that old feeling of powerlessness rolled through. On a feeling level, dread–with all the attendant thought patterns stuck to it–settled in my body. Tears filled my eyes. Brought to a little cubicle to give up my clothes and don the gown (large enough to fit a four-hundred pound man), only made the dread stronger. I knew that my job was simply to welcome these decades-old feelings that had been tamped down for so long.

Then the intake nurse greeted my husband and me. I could feel her heart. After thoroughly reading my chart, she looked up and asked if I had any spiritual or religious beliefs or traditions that I wanted the hospital to know about, so they could make me feel more comfortable.

I met her gaze, and after a thoughtful pause replied, “I don’t know. This hospital might not have an understanding of my tradition–it’s not well known. I hold the non-dual view.”

The nurse broke into a wide smile. “I’ve been a Dzogchen practitioner for over twenty years,” she said.

“Those are some of my favorite readings!” I replied, stunned. (Dzogchen are the pinnacle non-dual teachings of Tibetan Buddhism) We had a fascinating conversation while she readied me, put in the I.V., and showed us how the “bear hug” warming gown worked. The gown, it turns out, is like a large hair dryer hood, with warm air flowing in. Wonderful not to be cold. It was hard to say goodbye to her, and the sense of loss of control only grew as my gurney was pushed down the long, fluorescent-lighted hallways.

Next, I met the anesthesiologist. In the past, I have not found people in this specialty to be particularly open-hearted, but this man broke the mold for me. We decided together, that because I have painful shoulders and a compressed low back, it would be best if I were still awake so I could position myself on the table. “Okay,” I said, “but I’m going to want valium in my I.V. I’m horribly anxious.” Tears rolled down my cheeks.

“I’m happy to do that for you as soon as we get in the operating room,” he said in a gentle tone.

The surgery staff–except for the anesthesiologist, were all women–including my surgeon, Jeannie Pflum. I briefly mentioned the old source of my dread, and did not apologize for the stream of tears. Jeannie spoke softly about how respectful they are, keeping the body covered whenever possible during surgery. Every step of the way, I was met with deep kindness and care. One nurse wiped my tears. They allowed me the dignity, little step by little step, to meet these old feelings fully. Once met, they washed out of long-term storage in the body, and away.

Old patterning, finally released. Grateful. Very grateful.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013

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can’t hide

hide-and-seekThere is a strong misconception that thrives in many spiritual communities—that our imperfections are somehow wrong, that we are aiming to be perfect.

This is not the truth; we could not possibly hide from our humanness, nor should we. Each imperfection is a perfectly acceptable aspect of the ground of all-that-is. Since it takes everything, without exception, to make up the whole (which is not a thing, even though we would like to reify it), then everything that we think of as imperfection is actually the perfection-of-the-whole.

Separation is not possible. Sit for a moment and truly feel that. Separation is not possible. We want to make ourselves special—uniquely qualified to be separated out, to be either less worthy, or better than someone else. But either stance is a form of arrogance—thinking we are something special—not a bad thing, but not the truth. If we want to end personal suffering, we must see though every one of those constructs and allow them to wash out, in a figurative sense. When seen to be not the truth, then unsupported by our belief in them, they fall away like any habit that no longer serves.

Most of my adult life—ever since the anorexic model, Twiggy, was so popular in the late 1960’s—I’ve thought that my body is mildly overweight, and viewed my earth-suit in a degrading way because of that separating thought. Arrogance. Simple arrogance. I still can get briefly caught by this—even though, when I trace a thought all the way back, I find no source of thought, no ownership of it, either. It has as much reality as a rainbow—yet, the groove is a deep one. Each time the thought arises, I pause long enough to see through the pattern, and it falls away. Each time the thought shows up, it has less strength than the time before. Notice, trace it back until it falls away. No grasping on to it, no hiding behind it.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
photo credit

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