Tag Archives: suffering


My family is home, with power on in both locations. Perhaps the worst is over–for us. It’s clear others are still at risk, and I pray for their safety and their animals as well. I am deeply thankful to the firefighters who risk their lives protecting ours and our property.

Remaining wholly in the present made it possible to move through this time without debilitating anxiety. I only suffered those first minutes after the evacuation order came, waking me from uneasy sleep. Then I pulled out my metaphorical toolbox and put it to use.

Concern, of course. Planning, of course. We need the mind to navigate life. Distress is different–it takes an already difficult situation and makes it unbearable. Anxiety of that kind haunted me for decades until this understanding took root: emotional suffering is optional. It is not necessary when we embody where to take our stand, as the pure awareness that we are.


Filed under Advaita, Awakening, memoir, Musings, thoughts

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.




Filed under Daily reminders, Musings, parenting, Surrender


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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Filed under addiction, Awakening, feelings, Surrender

“don’t touch them”

rupert spira 1I’ve heard Rupert Spira speak many times about troublesome feelings, and he’ll recommend “don’t touch them.” Today, I finally asked him to clarify what he means.

He suggests turning toward them, rather than away, but not to get involved–don’t manipulate or manage or try to change them. Instead, be very curious, and notice what sensations underlie the feelings. Befriend these until we are willing to have them be with us forever. This morning, in a guided meditation, we brought feelings so close they no longer had name or form.

However, if they are too painful or scary, one can work with them gradually. Bring them closer, and sit with that. If the experience gets too intense, perhaps back off until the next day. Each time we invite them close, we dissolve some of the apparent power they have to pull us into story, separation, and suffering.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015
image credit


Filed under Awakening, Daily reminders, feelings, Non-duality

my memoir has been published!

My book, Bound to Love: a memoir of grit and gratitude has been published! Both the paperback and Kindle versions can be found here, at Amazon. Other digital versions can be found at Smashwords.

Usually my posts here have a different flavor, exploring nondual understanding. The memoir chronicles the pressure cooker journey that drove me toward unwrapping this deeper truth. Perhaps, without my son Thom, I would not have. I am very grateful.

Front cover with white text justifiedThe memoir won first prize in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association 2005 contest under the name Blood Bond. That was a very bad time to market memoirs, I discovered, because of James Frey’s betrayal of the form in A Million Little Pieces when he exaggerated his personal story, and was exposed.

I let my manuscript molder on my computer for seven years, then pulled it out and walked it through two more critique groups.

Bound to Love is the true story of a single mother who encountered and navigated a complicated nightmare for any parent. My child, the only child I could ever bear, was born with a life-threatening congenital heart defect, and suffered a more brutal health diagnosis soon after. Walk with me as I birth the courage and grit to meet Thom’s compounding challenges.

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2015


Filed under Awakening, memoir, Truth, writing

don’t abandon Yourself

laughing infant A few years ago, I went through twenty-two months of intense suffering. I could see the web I had entangled myself in, but flailed there. Both seeing, and caught. Miserable.

An awake friend sent me to a counselor with a deep understanding of the non-dual view. One evening a few months in, she said to me, “You repeatedly abandon yourself. Stay home, instead.” I caught the faint scent of what she meant, but couldn’t articulate it. It lived inside, a percolating koan.

In the 2013 Fall retreat with Rupert Spira, he responded to someone’s question by saying, “Stay home, resting in the natural state. Let objects come to you instead of your going out to them.” My body startled.

I had believed my counselor meant that I was abandoning the personal I, but now understand her pointing in a deeper way. I cast a veil over open, impersonal awareness by getting busy with the stickiness of story and then believing my thought-made world to be true. Thought may be useful in daily activity, but when it is emotionally-laden and enmeshed with bodily sensation, it is a prescription for unhappiness.

For this body-mind, allowing thought free rein to wander instead of remaining knowingly aware, leads directly to imaginary nightmare futures. Initially, right here seemed boring–flat, even. I asked myself, “What have I always longed for?” The answer came: “Stable peace and happiness.”

It was time for profound self-examination–I had been apparently choosing to abandon what is closer-than-close, stable and trustworthy, lured by the crazy, unending morass of separation.

That which had initially seemed boring gradually took on a different cast. Quiet. Reliable.


©Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit: Panhala Poetry

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Filed under Daily reminders, Musings, Non-duality

pain, not suffering

Face FrontToSideViewMost people my age have experienced a painful tooth. I’ve got a whopper right now—the deep, pulsing ache in a lower molar that, over the decades, has already had lots of dental intervention. I took the obvious steps: I called my dentist (better today than tomorrow during the Super Bowl), and will dutifully take the remedies he suggests until Monday, when he said he will look at my x-rays and most likely refer me to an endodontist. This is physical pain—and today, is considerable.

I could also suffer over this tooth, which might include worry over whether the dentist’s remedies will bring relief until treatment is available, concern about this new specialist I’ve never met, obsessing over the cost of treatment, or dread about pain during procedures-to-come. I am intimately familiar with all of these ways, and many more, to incur suffering; they’ve been old, well-practiced companions.

Why would I invite suffering when I’m already in substantial pain? That would add yet another layer of misery on top of what is already uncomfortable. Because as a child, I was taught–even encouraged–to dredge up memories of discomfort I’ve experienced in the past, or imagine nightmare outcomes. This was modeled for me in countless ways, and not just in my family. This modeling was rampant among everyone I knew. I suppose there must have been exceptions; I can think of none.

It is so easy to inadvertently pass on this familiar, unconscious behavior to the next generation. I know I did, because my son exhibits some of the same patterns. But once patterning is in place and well-practiced, it is up to that person to unlearn and unwind the conditioning. No one else can do the work for us. My son and I have talked about this, and I’ve apologized. The very best I can do is model differently now.

We cannot avoid pain. Suffering is optional. Will we choose to leave it alone, or pick it up?

© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2014
photo credit

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Filed under Daily reminders, Musings, Non-duality