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Another COVID inspired Question: Who Are You?

Who are you really now that COVID has put you on time out from your old life?

Are you the job title, or that person who once won that thing? Maybe you feel represented by the brand you wear, better yet the one you created for yourself? Are you the person your parents expected you to be, when as a child you first started developing a personality? Are you your failures and the things you almost did?

Perhaps you don’t think about these things very often. But let’s give it a try.

  • What if the job disappears, and you no longer have a title next to your name? What would you write to express your power of contribution?
  • Imagine that your favorite brand goes out of business and you have to start dressing yourself differently? What would you wear to express yourself?
  • Here’s a good one: What if your parents were wrong? and your failures were actually core life lessons? How would you live your life and what kind of choices would you start making?

Shaky Identity 101

There are many ways for us to create a solid identity. I mentioned a few of them already, especially job, appearance, family and experiences. Our identities help us make day to day choices, small ones (like what to eat) and big ones (like where to live and who to make babies with) it allows our brains a break from constantly trying to solve existential problems. We usually don’t even have to think about these things if we function within a society. The most basic identifying factors are chosen on our behalf without our conscious approval. Thank your school, your local food store, the TV in your living room, the government, your unsuspecting parents…the list can go on and on. Essentially society tells you to say YES and move on to the next fake choice you think you are making.

Spirituality I have come to find, comes at crucial times for most of us. Many people seem to be exploring themselves now due to the significant loss of jobs from COVID, and/or the changing nature of our lifestyles. The first thing that happens once you delve into seeking higher truths is all those ego crushing questions come out to the surface. Essentially, if I am none of the things that I identified with before, then who really am I?

This is where it gets fun and juicy and terrible for our egos. At this point you welcome in that fantastic identity crisis that most of us lost souls out on spiritual journeys either are experiencing or have experienced before. Mindset comes in hard and heavy, and you get to really sit face to face with your insecurities, choices and triumphs equally.

I, in no way am claiming to know answers, all that I know, I write. I think we need to create space for questions like this not only in Sathsangs or philosophy lectures but over coffee with friends too. Normalizing self exploration is a great way forward to create a happier more authentic society.

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That Nasty Covid Breakup

man in face mask kissing hand

Did you recently breakup? Did people ask if it had anything to do with covid? Perhaps you shrugged with your blank face and said:” maybe! I don’t know.” People looked back at you quizingly hoping that you let out at least one juicy secret about your ex.

But we both know that you know. No breakup occurs out of thin air, even the ones that seem like they do; well lets just check under that rug shall we?

Im not going to discuss my own recent breakup over this blog post, I think it deserves a few insightful chapters in my glorious book. But no really, I just have some more realistic discernment on the matter, now, let’s get back under that dirty rug.

The Infamous Relationship Rug

As soon as we start a relationship with somebody we buy a metaphorical rug whether we know it or not. It’s a beautiful piece. Imagine a baby blue hand sewn Persian carpet lined with traces of hope and passion and high expectation. You place that rug under your clean feet and start loving and arguing on top of it. Truth is that most of us have to go through some dysfunctional relationships before we get to the gooey healthy ones. So in our dysfunctional relationships we start tucking little problems under the rug very early on.

We secretly think our partner is perfect on some level in the beginning, and my kind of perfect is definitely absolutely different from what you perceive as such. Slowly and unfortunately, as we start falling off those pedestals, we crash into arguments that seem petty. Those silly issues are the first to usually go under that fresh new carpet. What follows are the things you don’t want to deal with, and the questions you have left unanswered about yourself and them. Dysfunctional attachment gets stronger, and our own troubles and demons grow. We might deal with some, that’s granted. The problems however that we choose not to handle pile up and they begin to trip us even when we think nothing is wrong. Call it turning a blind eye.

The Trouble with Dealing with Our Issues

Let’s establish this irrevocable truth:

TO BE REMOTELY CAPABLE OF REAL LOVE FOR OTHERS 
WE MUST LOVE OURSELVES FIRST.

No amount of lovers in the world will convince me of my own worth if I am incapable of feeling it alone. No amount of kind words, kisses and love making will allow me to accept that I am lovable if I firmly believe that I am not worthy of love. Harsh! but real and tested and true.

So we find ourselves stumbling into the breakup of something we once really appreciated and cherished. Reasons may vary like night and day but something always remains, the fear(s).

Breakups are horrible experiences for both parties in a dying relationship, those who choose to leave and those who get left behind. It is the worst!

I will take some liberties in listing some high ranking fears you may have before, during or after the breakup, IF you are not a robot.

The fear of:

  • Abandonment
  • Judgement
  • Being alone…FOREVER
  • Being wrong/ flawed/ imperfect
  • Failure

….and so many more

We cannot really know how good or bad something is for us. The relationship and its breakup were probably both good and bad. Brain tease, I know! But if we consider that most things in life can teach us something then we will put a lot more effort and attention into dealing with our own issues than trying to fix a dysfunctional relationship. We have fears that keep us hidden, and we choose to turn that blind eye sometimes way too often to avoid facing those fears.

So no! Covid probably was NOT the cause of your breakup or that of the neighbors. Being around each other with no distraction, with nothing between you both but that relationship rug will bring all existing issues to your attention.

Just saying, worth a thought.

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How Do We Determine Our Value as Women?

woman in colors

The issue with letting people walk all over you is that you do not truly understand your own value as women.

You grow up hearing many things the top two of which are either you are a smart and strong girl, or you are a beautiful girl. If you heard both, then you were lucky because the system approved of you as a young female. You fit perfectly in the box of useless social recognition. There is nothing more damaging to how we perceive our own value as women as fitting into the box too well.

What does it mean to know your value as women?

Your value as women is born with you.

First accept your value as a human being.We honor the breath inside our body and the heart that continues to beat irrespective of life’s conditions. You are a living being this is your first added value to this earth. Every living breathing being has a place, has a contribution has VALUE.

Your value as a woman is not what others agreed upon only.

We are all so deeply conditioned to be certain people. Parents and friends and the general society you grew up in wanted you to become one or many different things. They transferred value to certain aspects within you and diminished others to shape you into a being that would be accepted and active in the community. People do this out of love. They do it out of ignorance too, and a deep seated fear of having to deal with your difference in a society that generally idolizes sameness. So just because those around value certain things over others, it doesn’t mean that your less acceptable qualities are valueless.

You create value wherever you go.

We are all put in similar containers growing up. Good families or broken ones, schools and jobs that slowly either build our self esteem or obliterate it. We explore romantic relationships that range from subpar and mediocre to perverse and violent ones; depending on our self esteem and our boundaries and our need for love. Life has the capacity to kick us straight in the ass, if we allow it to be a beating it will become one. The alternative however, is to put a damn end to the beating and call for a pause, even if it was an internal one. PAUSE and then assess your position if you could. Are you creating value? Do you feel like your presence matters? Is it crucial or are you filling space?

Make decisions that reflect your value and worth to yourself not just others.

We make decisions about everything. Appearance, lifestyle, personal growth, emotions, thoughts, experiences and diet, to name just a few. Do your choices reflect your value? Do they have the weight of accountability and the lightness of awareness? Essentially are you making choices out of love for yourself or neglect? That is the most profound expression of all.

So my dear, the keyword in letting others walk all over you is this: LETTING THEM. We must cultivate agency in the smallest aspects of our lives and then build up from there. Determining our value as women is simple and difficult at the same time. Will you eat this piece of crap or will you honor your digestive system with something a lot better? Then will you love your body or will you think the worst things about her? Automatically, we become better at noticing our nourishing thoughts and behaviors and the damaging ones.

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Never Late to Start a Different Life

Killing The Childhood Dream

We have a problem. Many people are unhappy, and unsatisfied with the lives they lead. Most people stop dreaming because it is not sustainable in modern society, and only fantasize about a different life. People are manipulated into believing that they need so much more than they really do; and with that they become slaves to a system that murders every child’s dream in its wake of adulthood. There is an alternative though. We can be happier and healthier.

The desk to bed life never compelled me in any way. Imagine growing up with a passion for learning and exploring but never picturing a future that included a job. I was very good at school because I enjoyed it, not because I wanted an awesome job. Don’t many – at least those of us who had been privileged enough to have dreams- start off like this?

The perfect story goes that we get to choose what we love and pursue it, if lucky, we can excel. However, we must also make decisions that shape our lives at very young ages. The dreams we had as children would only make sense at that point if they could be transformed into money making careers. Understandably so.

The problem is though that we are so young at those times that most of us have barely experienced any alternative options. At 17, 4 years after I got my period, 5 years after I stopped playing with Barbie dolls, 7 years after I stopped being afraid of the dark, I had to choose what my adult self would do for money. And stick to it.

INSANE.

Truthfully I never bought the story too much. Since the beginning i was looking for a way out. I never wanted too much money, I didn’t expect to find happiness in mansions and fancy jewels. I always imagined travel, walking through different places, smiling at faces from different races and that was the goal. Happiness to me was simple; its headlines were good people, good food and beautiful places, at the heart of it all would be a love so deep. The rest was background.

A white picket fence life looked good in the American movies I saw, but then the husband or wife either ended up cheating or dead or with Alzheimers. So that didn’t appeal too much to me either. This teenage girl was more cynical than the rest; now more than 10 years later; I stand my ground with similar cynicism and a little more wisdom and faith.

The white dress seemed like a distant vision, one that I also never dreamed about. I did however get to experience wearing it; my joy lasted for a short while until things ended, thankfully neither with death nor Alzhiemers, but a very broken heart. That, I could handle.

Bringing the Dream Back to Life

Now I know. Life is NOT only black or white. Life is NOT a matter of living up to standards set for us by others who have not had our dreams and visions. We must be more vigilant to the fairytales, and less cynical about what’s real. Children know something we as adults forget. Dreams are the fuel of joy, and experience is our best shot at learning something new. When we finally harmonize the child within with the adult that operates now, we can finally make our dreams materialize and live a different life.

Living goes forward and it never stops, it will never stop as long as the universe continues to expand infinitely. So planting ourselves in one version of the truth is imprisonment. The only surreal thing about life is our assumption that we are in control of every aspect of it, surely we can control a few things at a time, but not everything. Regret is the opposite of learning, and joy is the center of all that was, is and will be.

The Old Self Looking Back

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

I always picture that adorable 80 year old lady sitting on her old bones and staring into the ocean. Her eyes look like mine perhaps yours too, but a lot older, and she nods in approval. Life can be well lived if we allow ourselves the full experience. If we accept the ultimately wide spectrum of emotion, and navigate it truthfully and with grace. So if my old self looks back at me now, from where she is, with all of the wisdom she has carried, will she be proud of the life I’m living right now? I would sure hope she is.

Now my friend, enough about me! Imagine yourself in your later years, what do you look like? what and who do you love? Is your elderly self happy with the life you lived and are living today?

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Exposing Myself to Newness

IMAGE SHOWING EXCITEMENT IN EXPLORING SOMETHING NEW

This is a post about exposing ourselves to the foreign.

I hope the image that I chose gives you an idea of what it felt like for me to explore the gorgeous and foreign Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh, India. But anyways, let’s get to it!

What is foreign?

I live in Lebanon, moving to India for 5 months is/was foreign to me. That is one way I am exposing myself to something different. You may eat cereal everyday, skipping breakfast all together for a few days could be foreign to you. Exposing yourself to contrast could simply be watching a genre of movies that could make you feel slightly weird. There really are no rules, except one.

THE ONLY RULE

SWITCH THINGS UP.

Why do I need to switch things up you may be thinking?

There are things in life that we will never understand until we experience. So, as I expose myself to newness, or novelty or the foreign, I can learn to have a taste of what is different from me. We can then develop new opinions and ideas; we might even change our lives. It is a way to gently create better relationships with the world around us. We become compassionate to differences.

Best case scenario for you? You learn something that will make your life significantly better!

What is the challenge?

Many things are easier said than done. You know that, I know that!

We create comfort in order to shield ourselves from the high stimulation of the world around us. I mean that’s why we create those comforts in the first place. The challenge usually with opening ourselves up to foreign experiences, emotions, opinions, or people is that we are afraid of change on a subconscious level. It becomes easy to feel insecure when we are not in our comfort zones. Which is why mindset is the most important thing here.

Have a safe zone, explore it and make it your own. Nevertheless outside of that safe zone let there be experiences that you can learn from, things you can pick up; and places to grow.

Here’s s secret just for you

Choose curiosity over fear every day, every moment and plunge right in. We are not meant to survive life; we are meant to explore it deeply and intensely. Every decision counts, and as the incredibly funny JP Sears says:

AMUSE THYSELF !

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How are you living?

A description of my personal experience with inspiration

Inspiration hits in the weirdest of moments, sometimes in the most inconvenient ones too, but that’s OK!

This writer is a sucker for inspiration, I float around the world and brush over people here and there, hoping to catch a spark! Our eyes meet, our shoulders shudder and our fingertips grace coffee cups and wooden tables. I then let myself fully refract every particle and piece of truth uttered by honest lips around me. Sparks fly and all I need to do is to catch one spark that is strong and bright enough to set me completely on fire. I combust in ways new to me every time and my body feels like a flare waving lonely in the dark but with little awareness of her own form; only conscious of that need explode into billions of little flakes of flickering lights that brighten up the world around even if for a few seconds.

This is how inspiration comes to me. It begins in its most unreliable form as friction between my reflective surface and the world’s need to be seen and it bursts out into the open as words that cannot stop torching down my white pages.

What does your relationship with inspiration look like?

I think about you and me and I wonder: what inspires you to live your life everyday? Is it purely the need to survive? I hope not, because surviving is so empty of inspiration and love.

May you wake everyday with an aching state of presence, receptiveness and acceptance of life’s mysteries. Open your eyes and your arms to opportunity even if it were dressed in her shabbiest clothes. You can slowly learn to recognize her and welcome her in.

What kind of pain have you been through? Have you managed to learn a few lessons from it? I hope you managed to articulate your frustration to those who have failed you and created peace in your solitude. Do you treat your body with compassion and know that emotional pain can be felt and embodied physically too? Hopefully, you learned to acknowledge that and forgive your nerves for behaving too compulsively to warn you. I pray that you find dignity in standing up for yourself and your own health and that nothing hurts you deeply anymore. Know that you can face anything with fortitude and grace.

We can only do so much. So pray to your God if you like, count blessings and chant to your heart’s desire. Do whatever it is you need to. Just live so brilliantly that the ash you leave in your tracks is fertile enough to feed earth and its beings. Let your living be beautiful and abundant. Allow it to flow and explode endlessly in experience and expression. Maybe that is the way you build your wildest dreams with intensity and insanity and love.

And sit with me now over this half full cup of coffee and tell me: Are you merely surviving? or are you relentlessly exposing your self to the vast world of purpose, pain and passion?

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What if the only thing in life you can control is your response?

She clicked her blue ball point pen twice and looked at me. I curled a loose piece of hair over my index finger and smiled. I like her, she seems to get me; unlike most people. A bunch of papers in her lap gather information about me, including my limiting beliefs and my date of birth. We both know that the papers don’t mean much. Nothing is as intriguing as sitting in front of an honest person who is wiling to tell us everything about their experience. So i embody that and listen intently to her. Tell me about a time when you overcame something you didn’t think was possible, describe the situation exactly as you remember it she said as she sat up straight and square in her chair. She usually does that as she prepares to alter my perspective about something. I answered her giving a simple example and chuckling, I quickly followed it up with a statement to discredit and undermine my triumph.

She then gathered her breath and spoke, you see? We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We tend to remember our failures, our weaknesses and our pains more readily than we do our triumphs. We think we fail a lot more greatly than we overcome. Notice your ability to respond and adapt; you will learn to pay attention to that. Know that you are capable of so much more than you think.

That was our last meeting, after that, life changed forever.

What is an experience that you overcame against all odds? What does your triumph story look like? How does it ring in your ears? Does it have a special taste on the bitterness averse buds of your tongue? Do you tell it to yourself more often than you dwell on your misfortunes and failures? Or do you shy away from the victories and lean in a little too closely to the victimized self?

There are some things that we cannot fathom happening to us, but they do. People we love can die, people we love can leave. Worse yet, we can live despite those things. We can still breathe even though we think that the only way through is out and under, suffocating beneath the immense weight of our exploding hearts. Yet, contrary to what we may think, we are not wired to die out of heartbreak and heart ache; we are made to live through it and thrive because of it. Our human experience must not be limited by the temporary comforts of our existence. We must expand and explode into billions of pieces of who we used to be and gather again. We must mend because that it is the only way.

We ought to live like stars floating in a dark universe, we ought to collide with one another and implode like big bangs dispersing love and light and sheer tragedy into nothingness; only to experience rebirth in form, spirit and depth again and again. That is the continuity we can aspire to and not immortality...

Fear can only be met by experience, as unfortunate as that sounds for my anxious self. The only weapon that can completely obliterate the fearful is deep living; and nothing is more contradictory. Yet, all it takes is a deep breath in, and an acceptance of the impermanence of being here right now.

Imagine your temporary existence as a simple coin, with “You are here now” engraved. There are two ways of responding to that; heads or tails.

Hand flipping a coin in black and white in slow motion

What does temporary existence and a tossed coin have in common? Well, both require a choice and a response. What is your primary choice when faced with life? Expansion or contraction? What is your response after the outcome presents itself? Fear or courage?

Fear is one way to respond. It is the nod of understanding that we can simply die, things can easily end and living is not to be taken for granted so our minds meet that with cowardice, with contraction and the need to preserve the sanity and safety and comfort we have in the split moment of being. We make believe that if we contract and limit our experiences then maybe nothing will happen to us and we can live much longer. The truth is however, the coin is being constantly tossed, comfort isn’t so comfortable when you are always meeting every toss with the fear of losing it all. Its like you are always betting against yourself, and holding your breath.

The other side of meeting that toss of the coin however, is living so unapologetically wild and open. Meeting life with courage because everything can end in a split second; our lives can change and twist out of control and we, the most vulnerable of beings can only respond with embracing the experience no matter how complex, terrifying and extraordinary it is. We accept our odds, we enjoy the comfort but we don’t get attached to it. We take our chances and we acknowledge that this is the game. We meet every toss with a deep breath and an exhale, and we believe in our ability to respond and experience living in our own unique way.

Just don’t live in fear of that coin getting tossed; trust in your ability to respond to the outcome no matter what.