Afraid of Fire

“None can teach you, none can make you spiritual.   There is no other teacher but your own soul.” Swami Vivekananda

The power of uncertainty is flowing through and around us.  Some days we breathe deeply, relax and float with it; other times we stiffen up, grab onto whatever is close with a tight fist, and rigidly watch through squinty eyes as life passes us by.  It is our choice.  Sometimes we forget we have a choice and become victims of the happenings of our lives.  We lose our center and then fall in the mud.

We get so tied up in not trusting the process of life.  Within wholeness is the duality of dark and light.   In our core, we are light.  Being human invites us to both celebrate the light and to integrate the dark.  Well, the first part is great, the second not so much, we say to ourselves.  We are afraid of the fire of transformation.

Watching American Idol, yes, that is true!  I am reminded of Crystal Bowersox……MamaSox.  Here she comes from a small town to millions of people watching her every move and listening and judging her every note. She dresses and wears her hair as she likes, speaks thoughtfully as she transitions into a new lifestyle…..expressing the uniqueness of her Being.   Her boyfriend and she decide to not continue their relationship and he goes home on the day of the  final performance!    Her response?  It gives her ‘fire in her belly.”  And if you saw her perform that night…….she was not afraid of the fire……she faced it, made it her own and sang beautifully.

From 12 Step programs we hear the statement……there are no victims,  just volunteers.   Our soul brings us experiences for us to integrate.  They are gifts in their teachings to us.  As we move through the darkness, the clouds lift and the light shines from our hearts.  It’s not easy because we are human and full of emotions; it does not have to be difficult and scary.  We are always surrounded in love; we are never alone.  We are guided on our path to integration.  We pray, meditate, contemplate that all loving energies around us surround us with wisdom and compassion for ourselves so that we may love ourselves deeply as we transform the clouds of doubt about who we really are…….into the heart knowing that we are love.   May we all experience ‘fire in our belly’ when we are challenged to move more deeply  into wholeness.

copyright 2010 Andrea Avari, Ph.D.

Who is Watching Whom?

“You look at this magnificent tree and you wonder who is watching whom and presently there is no watcher at all.  Everything is so intensely alive and there is only life, and the watcher is as dead as that leaf……Utterly still,…..listening without a moment of reaction, without recording, without experiencing, only seeing and listening….Really the outside is the inside and the inside is the outside, and it is difficult, almost impossible to separate them.”    Quote from Krishnamurti.

I live in the trees.   I have been watching them every day…..as they bend in the wind, how the sunlight filters through them, the shadows that are cast on each other and the land, the myriad of birds, squirrels, and raccoons who come to climb and jump and search for daily delights.

My perspective has been from my eyes to other.  And now I have opened to the other watching me as I go about my days and nights.  We share the awareness.  As I just sit in ‘it’……perception…….the concept of “I” and “other” melts away.  There is no me and there is no tree…..there is just the awareness that vibrates….first in form, now freely.  There is no inside……there is no outside.  It is as it is.  Words don’t help….they only lock it in and it can’t be limited.   It is a shift in energy that defies words.

And then I am back in my body but not in the same way.  Something has changed.

copyright 2010 Andrea Avari Stevens, Ph.D.

Spiritual Bypass

“One of the great dangers of transformational work is that the ego attempts to sidestep deep psychological work by leaping into the transcendent too soon. This is because the ego always fancies itself much more ‘advanced’ than it actually is.”

— Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

I took a seminar on awakening not too long ago.  One concept that the leader shared was that it was not necessary to learn to love oneself before awakening. The definitions of the words ‘love oneself’ and ‘awakening’ are dependent upon each person’s perception.  Who knows exactly what that phrase means to someone else? However, this leader seemed to think that awakening was all that was needed.

I do know the intent of that thought runs counter to how I have been experiencing my lessons.  The more transformative work that I do with my inner process, the more clear I am about the love of who I truly am.  It just seems to me that removing the blockages produced by the ego’s energy of fear would lend itself to opening up the awakening process more clearly.

“We have no need to teach pure motives to the mind. All that is necessary to make the mind pure is to undo the negative conditioning to which it has been subjected; then we will be left with pure, unconditioned awareness.”

— Eknath Easwaran

It seems sometimes that there is a tendency to skip over psychological work in the search for a spiritual identity. This new identity, some with a different name change, is old cake with new frosting.  The same old beliefs about self, others, and the world are there chugging along.  But now the focus is on the new ‘spiritual’ self as the old self just bubbles along underneath.

If you have listened to one of these ‘teachers’ very carefully, at times you may hear the judgment and defensiveness creep into their voices when they are challenged.  Awakening by itself without the ‘soulwork’ of dealing with negative conditioning from our lives, seems to be a shaky house of cards.  It is tempting to believe that ignoring our stinky old baggage is as easy as a cat covering its poop in the box…but it just doesn’t seem to work that way.

Stinky is as stinky does.  We are all called to clear old conditioning that no longer serves us.  It means feeling the feelings, holding them in the compassionate light of the unconditional love that burns incessantly in our hearts…….that spark of the Divine that is always with us.  And some of us just don’t want to do the work.  We want to believe that we can leap-frog it over into the land of Enlightenment and forever wear the Buddha smile.  I just don’t buy it.

My experience shows me that my life is my path.  Everything I need to clear is within me.  I don’t need to go anywhere to find it.  No one else has the answer.  I am my path.  I just need to work it.  I am both the teacher and the student.

©2010 Andrea Avari Stevens, Ph.D.

Collective Love


We know the power of collective hate,
but we’re just beginning
to realize
the power of collective love.
Add to the collective love daily.
Marianne Williamson
Sometimes we are running so fast in our lives that we forget to just sit quietly for a few moments and to hold the vision of the world in our awareness, surrounding it totally with love.   Let’s see how often we can add to the collective pot of love each day………..Andrea

photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Happiness and Joy

Happiness and joy are not one in the same.

Happiness is the elation that accompanies good fortune,

while

joy is the evidence of God’s presence in the human experience.

Joy is not a destination, it is a way of traveling.

Mary Manin Morrissey

Sometimes joy is very confusing……it seems elusive…….and very often we confuse it with happiness.  Happiness seems to be connected to conditions and people outside of ourselves.  It comes and it goes.  They come and they go.  We are not in control of happiness…….it has its own synchronicity……we enjoy it while it lasts but if we become attached to it being there for us……it has to be there or we are upset………there will be some suffering.  The same with unhappiness……..it comes and it goes as well…….being attached to it can also cause suffering.

Joy is ever present and not in our control in the sense that we can’t make it happen.  It just is.  It is in the acceptance of what is.   Morrissey says joy is not a destination but a way of being in the world. Sometimes we get immersed in the ‘stories’ of our lives and forget that we are in an ongoing relationship with our inner essence or God (or whatever word fits for you.)  We study all the books and listen to the CDs and then promptly try to go it on our own.  The joy is in realizing God is everywhere.

It is in seeing and interacting with the light in every single person, place and thing in the world (including ourselves)…..every present moment.  It is in waking up just a little bit more every day in self-realization and knowing in our hearts that love is the glue that connects and IS us all…………….Joy is a verb……….Andrea

copyright 2009 Andrea Avari Stevens

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

The Greatest Gift

“The worst loss you’ve ever experienced
!cid_C6DFC7A65AA14253AFE55DFED7581264@Brasseis
the greatest gift you can have.”
Byron Katie
Byron Katie gives us some food for thought……for certain………how we allow ourselves to recognize this ‘greatest gift’ is the degree to which we choose not to be victims of life.  When we have had the luxury of time to process some of our life happenings and to move out of the perspective of the victim mode, we can see how in some way……..the gifts cracked open our hearts to both receive and to give more love……to ourselves and to others…..a greater awareness of self and a deeper appreciation of life.  Richard Bach had a similar quote that said something like “every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”  Moving out of the problem and focusing on the solution means we let go of struggle and embrace the opportunity to grow into higher consciousness.  Sometimes we forget and we get lost in our ‘stuff’.  We forget to be in connection with the ever present light within us……….this week…….let’s remember to remember what we already know in our hearts…..love is what we are………..
May we all be open to finding the gifts in our lives……..Andrea
copyright 2009 Andrea Avari Stevens

Don’t Take Anything Personally

image.php (10)“Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Nothing others do is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of their own reality,
their own dream.
When you are immune to the opinions of others,
you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
Don Miguel Ruiz

Well, here’s a great reminder of how we can choose to create our own pain……..believing that someone else can define who we are……trusting our own identity to someone else’s reality…….yikes………how could that ever be a good thing?
……. and yet there are times when we easily fall into that mud puddle….. and more often than we would hope….
……..we all have our times when we forget who we really are and slosh around in the scummy pond of ‘Judgmental Opinions’. 
But that’s OK because we are getting better and better at recognizing the feeling when we are giving away our power.  It doesn’t feel good to be a victim but it certainly gets our attention…..this suffering thing……..So we wake up and climb out of that  messy level of consciousness.  We take responsibility and accept what is…….we don’t have to like it……but if we accept it and realize that someone’s opinion is a product of their own particular life influences and filters that are special to their unique perspective…………..and what does that have to do with us?  Nothing.  At all.
And instead of being defensive and protective of ourselves, we allow others to have their own reality……instead of trying to argue or manipulate them to see it our way.  It is theirs, not ours…..so we give the energy back to them graciously. And the charge for us dissolves and we are no longer held hostage. Now we are free to examine the opinion without any emotional jolt.  We can see if it holds any truth that we can use in our evolution…….maybe……maybe not…….now we can see straight through to it because we are not busy resisting it.

…….we have freed ourselves to move along into the next present moment.  We need no one’s approval but our own.  A beautiful week devoted to letting go of suffering……Andrea
copyright 2009 Andrea Avari Stevens

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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