My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Category Archives: peace

PEACE & JOY

PEACE

Peace enjoys long, leisurely walks.  She feels the pulse of the wind, the texture of the air.  She listens to the chatter of a hummingbird and mimics the sound with her own tongue, imagining she is energetically synchronizing with the little bird.  In the still air, she hears a train’s horn miles away.  She stops and takes in a winter rose, frozen and suspended in time.  With curiosity, she notices droplets of water clinging to the bare branches of a tree.  She stands completely rapt, drinking in the shapes and sizes of the multitudinous drops.  Just as she begins to wonder how long each drop will cling to its branch, one releases and lets go, falling to the ground in a silent splash.  She feels both sorrow and joy.  She pauses and remembers her good friend, Joy.  Because of Joy, she feels peace.

JOY

Joy laughs until she cries.  Joy loves surprises, but only happy surprises.  Joy dances with sunflowers.  Joy throws her feet up in the air into a cartwheel.  Joy recently discovered that at age 37, she can still do a somer sault.  She laughed out loud and said to herself several times, “UNBELIEVABLE,” awash in ecstasy.  The other day Joy woke up to fresh snow on the ground.  With a huge smile on her face, she clapped her hands in glee.  Joy loves snow.  She loves to make snow men.  She loves to throw snow balls.  (shh! don’t tell anyone, but she loves a snow ball ambush!) Though always a teensy bit scared, she loves to sled down big hills.  Joy is pretty excited that she is going snow shoeing for Christmas Eve day – she can’t wait to experience the magic of a winter wonderland.  Joy has discovered that the big kids, the adults, are just little kids in grown up bodies.  She knows this because she is still a kid inside. 🙂

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Inspired by “The Book of Qualities” by J. Ruth Gendler.

Peace & Joy would like to wish you a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! 

May you feel peace and joy this holiday season.

Denny Creek snow shoe

Tranquility

Cutthroat Lakes

Quiet reflection.

Stillness without and within.

Breathe tranquility.

Rampart Lakes

Beware the Angry Beast

The first couple of days in the presence of my older sister, our first time interacting in a decade, I did a lot of listening.  I listened to a lot of surface chatter.  No emotional content.  Nothing about feelings.  She talked often about things from our childhood, memories of my dad’s bizarre behavior.  I continued to hear a lot of talk about my dad.  On one of these occasions I asked her, “how did you feel when dad died?”

That question was all it took.  The heavy and closed gate around my sister’s heart opened up.  She said, “I thought when he finally died I wouldn’t be angry anymore.  I thought the anger would go away, but it didn’t.”  All these years my sister had been feeding the angry beast.  In her anger she had become emotionally detached and closed off, disconnecting from the family.  As I listened to my sister, I heard how much she’d been struggling with her anger, how much suffering she had brought into her life by feeding the angry beast.

When my dad died, my sister had very little to say.  She did not attend my dad’s memorial service.  I wasn’t surprised, but at the same time, it seemed very cold hearted and cast a light on her emotional detachment.  As my sister talked and I listened on this recent visit, she told me that she didn’t want to attend his service and chose not to come.  Why celebrate the life of a man who caused people so much pain and suffering, especially his family?  To her, not attending the service was an act of rebellion, one last chance to stick it to him and say, “you were a horrible rotten father and I hate you.”

The sad thing is that in choosing not to attend my dad’s service, my sister brought even more suffering into her life.  Attending the service might have been an opportunity to start healing wounds, to face the angry beast inside of her, and finally begin to put the beast to rest.  As I described the service to her and told her that in fact we were quite honest about the way my dad was and did not shy away from talking about the pain and suffering he brought into our lives, I could hear sadness and remorse in her voice.  She didn’t say it, but I could feel her regret that she didn’t come and that she missed out.

I get anger.  I have been there.  I have also felt anger and hatred toward my dad.  Anger is how I survived my childhood.  The irony is that my dad was an incredibly angry man. He acted out in anger and did and said so many hurtful and damaging things.  His angry beast corrupted the purity of his heart.  Anger can serve us, it can help us to survive great suffering, but it can also hurt us, especially when it turns into a beast inside of us and we feed it long after it served us.  That kind of anger will eat us from the inside out.  Listening to my sister, I heard how this had been happening within her.  Her angry beast was getting out of control.

Fortunately for me, I put my angry beast to rest a long time ago.  A spark of it lives on inside me and always will, but I don’t feed it and so it doesn’t stir and eat at me.  Instead of disconnecting from my family like my sister did, I stayed connected and involved.  I was there during a lot of very difficult family transitions, especially as my dad’s health and mental state declined.  By staying involved, I learned a lot about what things had been like for my mom as a wife and a mother.  I developed a lot of compassion toward my mom.  We reflected back on my dad’s decline and really began to understand how his mental illness made him a monster.  Seeing my dad’s decline also helped me to forgive him, to understand that even though he seemed rotten to the core, that it was the disease and the rage of the angry beast inside of him.  Somewhere within my dad, under the layers of anger and illness, existed his true self, a self of goodness and love.

Showing up as a member of the family afforded me many opportunities for healing.  My heart hurt to see my dad, who had once been so physically strong become so weak, losing strength in his body, losing control of himself and his mind.  Underneath all my anger, I felt a genuine love for my dad.  Rotten as he was, this was my dad who provided for me and took me camping and fishing and taught me how to ride my bike and made me and my siblings weed the giant family garden and pick and snap green beans.  This was my father who I wanted so desperately to be proud of me, to hear him say something positive about my achievements and successes, to receive some kind of praise.  Though my dad wasn’t able to say it to me, he was proud, bursting at the seams proud.  A young man my dad had worked with came up to me at my dad’s service and said, “so you’re Bobbi Jean.  Your dad couldn’t stop talking about you and all that you were doing in your life.”  What an amazingly healing gift I was given, the gift of my dad’s love and pride.

I am sad that my sister missed out the healing opportunities that had been available to her if she had come to my dad’s service, but her heart wasn’t ready.  Thankfully, she is now on the path of healing and getting the help she needs to put her angry beast to rest.  I am grateful for all that my sister shared.  I am immensely grateful that she *finally* opened up and spoke from her heart.  I learned so much from listening and gained so much insight into her pain and suffering and saw what has been going on within her all these years – an epic battle with the angry beast.  I alluded to her detachment and the many years that had passed between us.  I told her, “I haven’t been angry.”  In the moment I wasn’t angry, in the moment I forgave, but as I reflected back I realized I have been angry.  I haven’t been feeding the anger I once had toward my dad, but I have been feeding anger toward my sister.  Beware! the beast can have more than one head!!

May my story, and especially my sister’s story, serve to inspire each of you to look inward.  If there is an angry beast within you, I encourage you to be courageous, to look the beast in the eye, and finally put your beast to rest.  There will likely be much pain to face and challenges to work through, but if you stick with it, you can prevail, and where anger once stirred and raged in your heart, you will instead begin to feel the seeds of peace and love, gratitude and compassion, grow and blossom in your heart.

From the depths of my heart, I support you in your efforts to find peace and feel love.

Be The Yoga

I recently returned from a family trip to Utah and I practiced yoga, a lot of yoga.  Not the outer yoga, the shapes we make with our bodies, but the inner yoga.

For those of us who are practicing yogis and yoginis or have witnessed a friend or loved one who practices yoga, we know that yoga is more than just the physical practice, the asana.  Yoga is about cultivating an inner strength, an inner quiet and stillness, peace and equanimity, balancing our emotional state by finding equilibrium, and so much more.

When we face life’s challenging moments, we tap into and harness the inner strength and balance we cultivate on the mat.  We remain steady.  We use our yoga as we face life’s struggles, hardships, challenges, conflicts, and storms.  Our yoga gets us through, we remain calm and still, and we come out on the other side just as we entered:  at peace, tranquil.

In the weeks and months that led up to this family trip, I was filled with a sense of dread.  I knew this would be the “ultimate challenge.”  This trip would be the first time in over eight years, other than a few brief moments three years ago, that I would be interacting and spending time with my older sister.  This would be the first time in the presence of my sister and now 14 year old nephew since the “ka-boom,” of which I received no acknowledgement or support from my sister.  I carried that awareness with me to Utah like a heavy weight on my heart.

Why had so many years passed?  Why did I regard this as the “ultimate challenge”?  I struggled with my sister’s selfishness and self-focus as well as her obsessive nature.  I found it incredibly uncomfortable to be around her husband whose hardened exterior and fragmented interpersonal skills made it difficult to interact with him and be in his company.  Because of this, I stopped making the effort and stopped reaching out.

Over the expanse of eight years my sister became extremely emotionally detached and disconnected.  From where I sat, she seemed numb.  When my mom told my sister that my relationship had ended, my sister said “oh” and that was it.  Silence when she found out my dad died.  Absence from my dad’s memorial service.  Absence when my mom re-married.  My sister’s absence and detachment from the family, as well as her numbness, left me feeling increasingly embittered, angered, and abandoned.

Why did I even go considering all the heart-ache I carried and what I knew would likely be more discomfort and lack of acknowledge around the painful end of my relationship?  I did it for my nephew, whom I love and cherish.  I missed out on too many years of his life and I really wanted an opportunity to have time together, to create memories.  I also wanted to share with him what had happened in my life, to give him insight and understanding around the devastating loss of “my person.”  And I did it because my sister reached out and I wanted to honor that effort.

Though I knew this visit would be the “ultimate challenge,” I also knew I was strong enough to do it.  I knew I had the inner strength and a whole new set of tools and skills to draw from.  I knew I had the capacity and ability to stay present in body, mind, and spirit, to stay present in the experience, whatever it may be.  Indeed it was a challenge.  Like I said, I practiced a lot of yoga, sans mat.

What did my yoga practice look like??  In moments of discomfort, I steadied myself, I remained grounded.  In moments of stress, I breathed peace throughout the depths of my body.  When I encountered selfishness and stubbornness, I practiced flexibility.  When I witnessed obsession, I was patient.  In the face of conflict and strife, I remained serene.  When I was met with coolness, I poured out warmth.  When I came up against hardness, I embodied softness.  When I treaded near and into differing views, opinions, and beliefs, I stayed open and I embraced the spirit of harmony, which to me means to “accept and respect” differences.  When I faced resistance and dominance, I remained graceful and countered with a strength rooted in thoughtfulness and compassion.  When I was not met emotionally, I bridged the gap.  When expressions of love were absent, I presented the gift of love freely.

“Be the yoga” was one of my survival phrases.  I said this to myself often.  Being the yoga was hard work, a very challenging practice.  I cried more than once, exhausted from my efforts.  It took a lot of strength and presence of mind and heart to be the duck when faced with the stubborn, selfish bull.  I could have fought back like a bull.  I know how to behave like a bull (my family culture was one of selfishness after all), but that’s not who I am anymore, that is not how I chose to live my life.  My “new” heart cannot sustain an ugly fight with the bull.

I’m still learning how to be the duck, to stand sure footed and strong, with grace, in the face of the stubborn, selfish bull.  What I learned in the few moments of conflict and strife with my sister is that it’s challenging to be soft when encountering something hard, that it takes a lot of inner strength to remain grounded in our hearts.  And yet we stay soft so we can remain open hearted and let our hearts fill with and pour out love.  If we stay with the practice of being open in our hearts, of letting love fill our essence and our being, we can be the love that melts away the hardness, we can create a shift in the coolness and draw out the warmth.

My duck analogy might seem kind of random, but there is a story here which I’ll share.  On one of our family hikes in Utah, I was standing on a large rock along an alpine lake shore.  My nephew and brother-in-law were nearby.  My nephew was “making friends” with the ducks.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a female Mallard extend one of her bright orange legs and webbed feet backwards, whilst standing and balancing on one leg.  To my nephew and brother-in-law I said, “did you see that?”  What they likely saw was a duck standing on one leg.  What I saw was grace and elegance, steadiness and balance, equanimity.  My nephew’s duck friend was teaching us something important, modeling for us the life affirming qualities we can embrace, if we so choose.

Like the duck who modeled for us an affirming way of being, I too carried out my intention for this trip of modeling for my sister and nephew and brother-in-law a life affirming way of being:  flexible, grounded, patient, thoughtful, gracious, harmonious, peaceful, compassionate.  I modeled the life affirming, heart expansive qualities that I cultivate in my yoga practice.  I was the yoga.  I am the yoga.

“I’ve Got My Power Back!”

Power is a fickle thing.  One day following a period of feeling crappy, a period of emotional turbulence, you feel different, good again, you feel in control of your thoughts and emotions again and you say, “I’ve got my power back!”  You are on fire, on your own high, heart soaring, mind buzzing with aliveness.  On another day, just as soon as you’ve got your power back, you lose it again and find yourself saying, “I lost my power again! and I want it back!”

Trying to grab hold of our power can feel like trying to catch a fruit fly that is taunting us with its persistent presence.  You reach out a steady hand, you focus your eyes and energy on the fly’s movements, and in a quick jerk of your entire arm you close your fingers tight.  You’ve caught it, or so you think.  You slowly open your fingers and peak in to see if the lifeless fly is in your hand.  You’ve caught the fly, but it’s not lifeless.  As soon as you open your hand, the fly wriggles back to life and escapes.  And so the dance to catch the fly begins again.  In your own life you are dancing another dance, the dance to try to capture your power and hold onto it before it escapes.  This time, when you get your power back, you’re going to hold onto it long enough to unlock its secrets and figure out what it takes to not let it escape or slip through your fingers again.

This notion of power came to me through a very wise friend who told me, “don’t let _____ or your dream of _____ take all your power.”  I was having a couple of especially cruddy weeks.  I was experiencing grief, new and old, new grief and old grief all tangled together, new feeding old, old feeding new.  My heart was aching and I felt its weight, laden with sadness and pain.  More than once I crumpled up on the floor while listening to sobering, soulful music and let my pain pour out of me.  My misery was outweighing everything else in my life, weighing me down from the very top on my heart.  I couldn’t snap out of it, I couldn’t change the way I was feeling or get perspective.  The only way to get to the other side of this pain was to just let my emotions run their course, to feel what I was feeling as long as I needed to feel it.

I made it through the emotional turbulence.  The day came when the weight finally lifted from my heart.  I had found just enough clarity where I needed it.  I felt in charge of my emotions again and thereby myself.  I was finally able to reign in my runaway thoughts and give them direction, to focus and channel my energies, to put my mind back on me.  I was present again.  My mind was fully engaged in listening to and absorbing the wisdoms and insights from my yoga teachers.  I was completely focused on the efforts and experience of each yoga pose.  I could sit quietly during the seated meditation portion of my yoga practice.  The activity of my mind and inner turmoil of my heart had quieted down and with it came a mental clarity and sense of calm, of peace.  It felt good to feel good again.  I was feeling exhilarated and on fire.  I knew I had my power back.  I was determined to keep my power, to not jeopardize my power again, but after a time I lost my balance and with it my power.  My emotions took over again and I lost control of me.

It’s interesting to consider power in the context of control.  What I am learning is that the personal power struggle is indeed a battle for control over one’s emotions, of oneself, the place where two hemispheres of oneself duke it out:  one half of oneself feels and succumbs to emotion, is taken hold of by the emotion; the other half of oneself observes the emotion, holds and contains the emotion instead of letting the emotion spin out of control, instead of letting the emotion control and dominate one’s feelings and one’s life.  The battle becomes a tug of war between heart and mind.  We battle to try to maintain balance, a sense of equilibrium, the balance between powers, when opposing forces are at rest.  When the heart and mind are aligned, in harmony with each other (maybe even in unison?!), balance arises.

Have I unlocked the secret to my power?  Have I figured out how to hold onto it, to not let it slip through my fingers?  The secret, I am discovering, is tied to emotional turbulence and it is more a truth than a secret.  When I am not experiencing emotional turbulence, I experience an inner quiet, an inner peace, mental and emotional clarity; I feel more balanced and alas, feel more in control of myself and my life.  However, a life free of emotional turbulence does not exist.

Turbulence enters our lives in unwelcoming ways via many avenues:  unexpected events, painful events, unpleasant circumstances, unbalanced relationships, unhealthy relationships, moments or periods of vulnerability, unyielding or unsuccessful efforts, difficult or stressful situations, drama, conflict, commotion, crises, our own or the crises of those who are important in our lives, the actions and behavior of those with whom we interact.  Most of these things are outside of our control, are outside of ourselves – external – yet the reality is that these things affect our internal landscape, our equilibrium.  Turbulence creates a climate that weakens our defenses and as a result, we experience inner turmoil.  Turbulence jeopardizes and puts our power at risk.

We must learn to navigate the emotional turbulence, to find our way around it if we can, and when we can’t, we must journey right through it and hold on and breathe deep until we get to the other side.  We must learn to navigate the emotional battlefield and decide when to engage in the struggle and when to just let things be.  I often come back to these wise words shared by one of my yoga teachers:  “we must let go of that which does not serve us.”

Each of us has skills, strategies, and resources acquired and cultivated through life’s hardships and challenges or periods of personal growth that we draw on, with intention or instinctually, to navigate life’s turbulence.  A universal strategy for navigating turbulence and the emotional battlefield is to ground ourselves, to find the quiet within, to come back to our center, the place of inner strength, wisdom, truth, and intuition, to be present.  Along with our breathe, I like to think of our centers, our cores, as our sustaining resource.  The one secret or truth I learned through my recent power struggle:  sustained power requires mental clarity and emotional presence and it helps if you’re not in the turbulence.