Honoring The Grace Of Small Things

Honoring The Grace Of Small Things

Sometimes life calls us to become still, to be quiet, and to pay attention to the Divine nature of everything around us. In that stillness, we come to acknowledge the beauty of song and the openness of the bruised, the magic of the insignificant and the terror of the unknown.

And from there, we bring the message back to others to, in turn, shake themselves awake and start looking at life again as if for the very first time.

It does not matter what brought you here, or which path stripped away your protective layers to leave you trembling before the awe of life. You are here now, and so I wish to share with you a vision of things that touch our hearts. I want to gift you a glimpse of the intricate and miraculous web of life and see the recognition light up your eyes, even as these things stir the deep memory of endless possibilities to love despite the vastness of an incomprehensible universe.

Today, I awoke to the symphony of birds whose names I’ll never know and marveled at the incredible complexity of their harmonies as they exuberantly welcomed the arrival of a bright new day. It spoke to me of joy.

In the street, parents walked their children to school, small hands swallowed up by theirs, smiling as they inclined their heads to hear stories bubbling from those rosy lips and downy cheeks, excited at the possibilities of a new day, and it spoke to me of hope.

I remembered the way a sloth wove slowly through the branches of a tree hanging upside down so her baby could cling to her belly without fear of falling, and I felt love.

At the base of the stairs, the fern finally succeeded in breaking thru the stony cracks to unfurl its tiny fronds to the warm sun, and it speaks of courage.

The way young people lean eagerly, expectantly into their future even when they don’t know what it holds, and it speaks of confidence.

And the way the old dog stretches out to let the morning sun warm its stiff joints and surrenders to each present moment.

And the way the car hesitates for a moment before the gear engages, reminding me of my own doubts.

And the way the grackles peck at the green oranges in the trees, carefully grooming themselves with the oils and then announcing their gleaming handiwork with loud caws before flying off to what they do next. And I am reminded that self-nurture precedes all service.

And the way a sentence can leap right off the page to pierce your heart with its honesty and truth, so you need to stop for a minute to experience the awe and beauty of it.

And the way you sometimes glimpse someone in a vulnerable moment and see right inside them to the soul that’s there, and your heart wells with compassion and love for its innocence.

Yes, I know that there is a lot of pain and suffering in our world. Good things end and bad things linger on, we fail and struggle and get hurt, hammered by loss and accident and tragedy until, some day, we slip away into the darkness beyond it all.

But I also know that we carry awesome potential and our experiences can make us kinder and more loving if we let them. I know we have a choice in how we respond to life: either dismissing dissonance as nonsense and huddling behind walls, or embracing the things that touch us even when we do not understand their full meaning.

Life speaks to us in a myriad of ways that cannot be measured or understood unless we listen carefully, and then are able to accept the messages of love, courage and hope. I know that life can be a beautiful dialogue with our souls, and for that I am deeply grateful.

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

How To Live A Life Without Regrets

How To Live A Life Without Regrets

While most of us aspire to live a life we won’t regret, many do express regrets at the end of life. If we could address the things we may regret now, we can focus on living the remainder of our lives with greater satisfaction.

I believe that regrets really stem from a lack of courage. We tend to regret the thing we did or did not do, because we lacked the courage to do it. We may have been too afraid of consequences, or the unknown, or what others may think. And so we settled for less, compromising our potential to live small lives of quiet desperation, as Henry Thoreau said, dying with our song still unsung within.

Regret-free living takes courage: it is as simple and as difficult as that.

Our lives are shaped by either courage or by fear. When we live a live true to ourselves, there will be others who judge us; voices that criticize us for stepping out of the box or label us as crazy. Fear of this dissonance often holds us back. To live fully and without regrets, we need the courage to follow our hearts, even when others may not understand our choices.

In fact, it is none of their business! Each one of us is fully responsible for our own lives and choices. When we choose to go beyond the comfort zone of the collective in order to grow and realize our full potential, that is a courageous decision that deserves support, not criticism!

It is this courageous process of stretching that develops elastic in our souls so we can extend further, believe more, and accomplish better outcomes. Courage to commit to our unfolding path is essential for a satisfying life. And nobody knows better than you what that means!

We need courage to break with norms, to expand beyond the confines of our tribe, and to let go of external expectations and pressures. Courage empowers us to fully live from our hearts, and to stay in touch with our true compass and purpose.

People at the end of life can teach us valuable lessons about living from their perspective at the end of the road. Bronnie Ware, an Australian caregiver who worked in hospice care, identified five core regrets among dying patients which can teach us a lot about living well.

  1. Not staying true to self

Look at a person disempowered and miserable about their life circumstances, and you will most likely find someone who never had the courage to break away from dysfunctional family dynamics. And if we lack the courage to make that primary break away from dysfunctional caregivers, we will end up staying put in jobs we dislike, putting up with abuse and lack of respect in relationships; we will ultimately abandon the opportunity to fulfill the purpose of our lives. To break free from any dysfunction, the discomfort of doing what is needed to be true to oneself must always outweigh the illusionary comfort of avoiding risk.

2. I wish I had not worked so much

People who work all the time develop no identity outside of work. Workaholics have no time to develop in other areas of their lives and when their work drops away, they have nothing else left. Developing healthy interests outside of work allows us to refresh ourselves; it also brings renewed energy to our work lives. Finding that space outside of work is an essential, enriching aspect of life often seen only seen in hindsight.

Deriving status and identity from our work can trap us into a role defined by society rather than by our individual truth. My mother was convinced that I should become an actuary – can you imagine how miserable I would have been in a profession that would have locked me into my left brain?? Another trap is buying into the scarcity thinking of the ego and never feeling as if we have enough money to follow our dreams or step away from a job we despise. Do you have the courage to let go of what does not bring you joy, so you can move toward what does?

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings

Many dying people long to express their feelings to loved ones, yet never had the courage to do so. Fear held them back. They were crippled by fear of rejection, fear of being misunderstood, or fear of being vulnerable…. The list goes on. We need courage to speak our truth – and when we do, we free ourselves to live from our core truth, regardless of how others may react. Having the courage to be honest with oneself, is vastly more important that how others receive it because it gives expression to our vital life force. Suppressing our truth ultimately suppresses our life force.

Expressing our truth in a compassionate and kind way, creates space for healing and compassion. We don’t have to make another wrong just for us to be heard. We simply need to express our truth – not for justification or to attack others, but for our own healing. Everyone is at a different place on their journey; at times, it may be helpful to write out feelings to another because it allows us to distill our truth while giving others the opportunity to revisit our expression when they are ready.

Expressing ourselves also requires us to become good listeners, because communication is a two-way street. Our honesty and vulnerability can allow others to feel safe enough to express their feelings. Being present with others in a kind, non-judgmental way allows them to share without fear. Can we listen deeply to the people in our lives? Can we find the courage to say the things that need to be said?

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with friends more

At the end of life, memories of happy times and friendships enrich one’s life. And yet, most people’s lives start narrowing down after kids leave home. The comfort of confining themselves to the same routines, friends and circles can lead to stagnation. Stepping out of earlier roles such as parenting can be a stepping-stone toward broadening relationships and connections, rather than narrowing them. If we expand our friendship circles throughout life, we can offer enrichment to one another even as old friends and relatives drop away.

Sometimes, the desire to maintain a safe personal comfort zone prevents people from getting involved in the messy business of true connectivity. I have seen people withdraw from opportunities to help because seeing another in a difficult situation, made them feel too uncomfortable with their own tenuous sense of stability. Life is messy and true connectivity requires the willingness to get one’s hands dirty! True joy is found in real life connections; not on social media or from the comfort of our easy chairs. When we have the courage to connect with people face to face, we ultimately experience enrichment and joy.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier

This regret stems from not understanding that happiness is a choice. We often look for happiness outside ourselves with self-imposed conditions: if I lose 10 pounds I will be happier; if I could just find the right partner, or make enough money, I’ll be happy. The truth is that happiness is a choice. It is an empowering internal decision that we can make regardless of where we’re at in life!

When we choose to honor the truth of our Being, we will find happiness.

We are in this life for a limited time only. This life is going to end, and it is the only life we will ever get to live as these unique beings that we are. This life is precious and sacred: how can we then live to make it really count?

Our greatest joy, highest power and ultimate fulfillment lies in facing the fears that hold us back. We can muster our courage and live from the truth in our hearts. Imagine how much we lose out on while operating from fear and other people’s rules!

To live a courageous life, we’ve got to stretch in ways that may be uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ve heard this from a fitness trainer or yoga teacher, because it’s true in all areas of life: we need to stretch to grow, improve and get strong. And growing in courage means taking risks in the very areas where we feel afraid.

Everyone already has times in life when they’ve been courageous. You may have displayed great courage in a relationship or a job. Perhaps you didn’t recognize it as courage at the time; you were merely doing what had to be done. Yet in every situation where your acted courageously, you valued the discomfort of change more than staying in the comfort of the status quo. You might have been terrified, but you did it!

You can take courageous action again. One you know what motivates you, you can do it again. Let your core values motivate your courageous actions. Practice letting your courage ripple out into more and more areas of your life, and you will live a life without regrets.

About the Author

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Chaotic Life? How to Find Inner Peace Amid Chaos

Chaotic Life? How to Find Inner Peace Amid Chaos

“Anyone can build a house of wood and bricks, but the Buddha taught that that is not our real home. Our real home is inner peace.” – Ajahn Chah

How can we possibly experience inner peace at a time when humanity and our planet appear to be tumbling deeper into chaos? Can inner peace even co-exist with chaos?

I believe the answer is Yes!

In fact, spiritual practices such as mindfulness and Buddhist teachings show us how to cultivate inner peace in any situation.

The only time we have is the present; tomorrow is not guaranteed. This present moment, therefore, is the perfect and only time where we can find inner peace. This inner peace, which is also known as equanimity in Buddhism, cannot be found in the outside world. And yet, the potential for inner peace exists in the mind and heart of every individual, so each one of us can learn how to create the inner conditions for experiencing lasting peace within.

One of the perennial wisdom teachings encourages us to view peace as the result of letting go: letting go of clingy attachment as well as letting go of its opposite, which is aversive resistance.

This process of letting go is simple, but not necessarily easy to practice. It requires self-discipline. And so, we tend to shop around for easier ways toward peace, running the risk of getting confused by external voices promising instant bliss and freedom from the human condition.

You see, random information without context leads to overwhelm and confusion. Instead, we need to discern what is truly useful for us at any given time. We also need to distinguish between the louder presence of random information and the gentle presence of inner equanimity, because that is how we liberate the mind. In the presence of equanimity, the mind is not hijacked by attachment or aversion.

Equanimity further grows when we recognize that all things are inherently neutral; it is simply our thinking that bestows meaning on things so we can then either attach to them or resist them. It is not the facts, but the stories about the facts, that hijack our minds into value judgments and positionality.

In Buddhist tradition, equanimity is seen as a central quality present in beings who have developed deep inner wisdom and alignment with truth, free from hostility and egoic will.

Equanimity relates to inner poise and balance because it rests in a place of non-attachment; centered between attraction and repulsion. It poises in a calm place of neither clinging to nor pushing away from things. Finding that neutral resting place within offers us a higher perspective over issues rather than getting stuck in the egoic interpretation of what’s happening. The more we develop equanimity, then, the more inner peace and spaciousness we experience in life.

Each one of us can develop more equanimity by practicing mindfulness in our lives on a daily basis and using an inner inquiry process to help us unpack emotions as they arise. Here are five steps to help with the process:

1. Set a clear intention to stay mindful

Setting a clear intention reminds us to step out of the ego identification of attachment and aversion; story-making and drama. It is the first step in cultivating true inner awareness.

2. Recognize the triggers

When a trigger arises, we may try to avoid feeling our emotions around it. Instead, we may distract ourselves with shopping or work, or we may attempt to numb our emotions with food or other substances. If we truly want to discharge the impact of the trigger, we absolutely need to become aware and look at it. Sometimes, the simple act of clearly seeing allows our reaction to the trigger to dissolve so we can replace it with equanimity.

3. Become curious

When we feel lost in reactions of anger and frustration to triggers, it is helpful to recognize that there is a desire hidden there, way beneath the frustration or anger. There may be attachment to a wishful outcome, or a craving for safety and security. It can be helpful to ask questions about where the attachment or aversion came from, what it is attempting to accomplish and what needs to be done with it to help us dissolve inner dissonance. We can also investigate the ways in which we distract ourselves to avoid feeling pain or avoid accepting reality.

4. Let go of attachment and aversion

By bringing compassionate awareness to these inner emotions and processes, we can separate out truth from our colored interpretation. Next, we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to let go:

  • Am I willing to let go of control?
  • Am I willing to let go of my attachment or aversion to what showed up in the past or in my present?
  • Am I willing to let go of the way I think things should be?
  • Am I willing to let go of resisting what is?
  • Can I simply let go and allow things to be as they are

5. Embrace peace

Letting go of attachments and aversions offers us the opportunity to return to our innate state of peace. As we let go of these things, we create space for equanimity.

Equanimity is the final result of this deep inquiry process that helps us dissolve inner dissonance, become aware of areas where we are distracting ourselves, and come back into proper alignment with truth and peace within, free from attachment and aversion.

After practicing this inner inquiry, simply bask in the stillness of awareness, allowing the radiant heart and mind spaces to open. Allow life to unfold in its fullness, expanding and contract with each heartbeat of life so you can know the peace of observing all without attachment, and in so doing, find inner peace.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

Tending The Heart: How to Get From Fear to Empowerment

Tending The Heart: How to Get From Fear to Empowerment

Fear constricts and empowerment frees; and tending the heart allows us to find our way to that freedom.

Fear is a deeply rooted meme in society because every generation on earth has faced the need for survival. In earlier times, fear of abandonment was primary for most individuals, because abandonment by the tribe most often led to death.

Fear is also used extensively by egoic minds and unawakened beings to control, manipulate and force consensus, even when it is false.

Fear is an illusion

Fear is truly false, for it presents false evidence in order to coerce us into submission; it often parades the imminent danger of abandonment to make us cower from the possibility of what other humans might do to us.

Even this grandiose posturing of fear is false! In truth, the Creator cannot abandon creation, for the creation is the very expression of Divinity in physical form. To abandon creation, the Creator has to abandon Himself, and that is not possible. Both Creator and creation are one in consciousness; therefore all divisive concepts of fear and abandonment come from the unawakened ego self.

To make space for the realization of Divine support and protection in our lives, we need to evict the fear of what man can do to us.

We need to understand that fear is a man-made phenomenon that has no power over our eternal souls. Only then can we affirm that we are embraced by a loving Creator who does not and cannot abandon His creation.

Tending the heart

Once we have revealed fear for what it is: false evidence appearing real, there is a Zen Buddhist teaching that reminds us there are only two things in this world we need to do: sit and tend the garden.

Even though the world is full of suffering, it is also full of empowerment to overcome. When we stop and become quiet, we can see this.

And so, we need to tend our hearts so we can transition from fear to faith; from disempowerment to true empowerment.

Take the time to sit and calm your heart; feel beneath the fear to the woundedness there that begs for healing. It takes courage to step away from the crowd, to push away the busy schedule and to sit, tending your heart and your soul. Yet all masters knew how important that is: even Gandhi took one day a week to sit in silence, tending the garden of his heart so he could be the change he sought in the world.

Right action

When we’ve taken time to tend the heart, we can engage in meaningful action. How you do your work is as important as what you do. Never act out of guilt, because then you are propagating the very suffering of the world. If you truly wish to grow love and not anger, fear or guilt, then do what you do from love, and not from any other emotion.

When acting out of guilt, anger or fear, we act out of ego, no matter how noble the cause we engage in.

Expand your circle

We also need to stay connected to the whole of life, even as we figure out our individual parts of the journey. Don’t draw your circle of life too small. You are more than one person – you are one with life itself, expressing in this life through consciousness.

Reclaim your connection

It is in sitting and contemplation that we recognize the stillness of the Creator Presence and our connection to all. That awareness can foster in us spontaneous caring and compassion for the woundedness of the world, so we commit to the awakening and care of the world.

Many brave souls have gone before to show the way. I often find inspiration in the beautiful words of author Diane Ackerman’s School Prayer:

“In the name of daybreak

and the eyelids of morning

and the wayfaring moon

and the night when it departs,

 

I swear I will not dishonor

my soul with hatred,

but offer myself humbly

as a guardian of nature,

a healer of misery,

a messenger of wonder,

and an architect of peace.

 

In the name of the sun and its mirrors

and the day that embraces it

and the cloud veils drawn over it

and the uttermost night

and the male and the female

and the plants bursting with seed

and the crowning seasons

of the firefly and the apple,

 

I will honor all life

—wherever and in whatever form

it may dwell—on Earth my home,

and in the mansions of the stars.”

Centuries earlier, the Buddha taught: “To live in joy and love even among those who hate; to live in joy and health, even among the afflicted; to live in joy and peace, even among the troubled; quiet your mind and tend the heart, and free yourself from fears and confusion and attachment, and know the sweet joy of living in the Way.”

What is your gift to the world that only you can bring? Listen closely, push beyond fear to find it, and then commit to do it with love and joy!

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

The Search For A Perfect Life

The Search For A Perfect Life

Of the many things that cause us pain, our expectation that life should be perfect, is one of the primary causes. The idea that there exists a perfect Shangri-La somewhere that we can somehow locate, is a form of magical thinking that sets us up for false expectations and disappointment..

It creates dissatisfaction with the life we have and pulls us out of the present moment into an unending search for perfection out there somewhere. It also leads to frustration when our efforts fail to create the perfect outcomes we think we need, deserve or desire.

If we truly desire inner peace, we need to trade this magical thinking for a more accurate version of truth.  Zen teaches that to find peace of mind, we need to “think of life as a series of imperfect facts.”

I have used this helpful reminder in countless ways in my personal practice.

This phrase reminds us that our reactions and outrage often stem from an unconscious belief that life should be perfect – or that our individual lives and outcomes ought to be perfect for us to have peace.

Because this limiting belief operates beneath the surface, we may be unaware of it. If I were to ask  you, “Do you expect your life to be perfect?” you would almost certainly say no.

And yet, we get upset when our lives do not match our idealized dreams! This process is known as cognitive dissonance – the conflict between what we want and what actually shows up.

It is worth checking how often you become angry or frustrated when something relatively minor goes wrong, or when events don’t turn out the way you wanted.  You may even feel outraged when life refuses to follow your commands!

With some mindfulness, we can turn such moments into Zen moments: we can think of life as a series of imperfect facts. And know, too, that sometimes those apparent imperfections are really blessings in disguise.

In the same way that we can become outraged when life “goes wrong,” we can sometimes react very harshly when people let us down, or when our expectations are shattered by some very human behavior.

Our relationships do best when we can accept that people sometimes will behave badly, inconsistently or thoughtlessly. Sometimes they will let us down.

As long as this doesn’t happen all the time and does not put us in danger, it is healthier for everyone when we can see these behaviors as part of the big picture and get over the smaller disappointments.

When we focus on let-downs and disappointments, our relationships weaken and may even disintegrate. By choosing instead to see others as flawed as we are, yet generally doing their best, our relationships with all of life become easier, more relaxed and far more rewarding.

Mother Teresa reminded us of that when she said:
 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

When we can see the perfect unfolding of life as a series of imperfect facts, our acceptance of what is, brings freedom and joy.

About the author:
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

A Love Letter From Your Soul

A Love Letter From Your Soul

Dear one, there is something you need to know. This love letter comes to remind you of what really matters. And it is this: You are not a mistake. You are eternally, irrevocably loved.

Yes, you are dearly, utterly loved. You are deeply loved by good people in this world. Most of all, you are loved by the infinite Creator whose love is without beginning and without end.

You are worthy of being loved because of who you are. There is nobody else just like you, and every outrageous detail of your existence is a treasure that is yours to savor and to share.

You come from Love, you are love and therefore you can choose love.

On the days when you want to hide from the world and bury yourself in misery and self-pity, remember this: you are not broken. You may be discouraged, wounded, overwhelmed or afraid, but you are not broken.

Within you, your eternal soul burns bright as ever, and as you peel away the surrounding layers that you built for protection, that inner flame will light your path once more. It will burn through every obstacle on your way, for that is your purpose and your destiny in this life: to let your light shine!

You were not created to play small or to argue for your limitations. You were not born to be broken. Your life offers so much more!

Yes, you are not a mistake. You were given life by Divine decree, and you embarked on this journey with courage that left the angels in awe. You freely chose this wild, tumultuous journey to experience, and learn, and grow. You came here to embody the Presence of the Divine Source in a world shrouded in spiritual slumber.

And these things you can do at any time: you do not need a million dollars in the bank before you learn to lean into the stillness within; you do not have to attain any social status before learning to discern the voice of Spirit within; you do not need to strive for popularity to validate your soul’s worth. Your worth is intrinsic, eternal and unchangeable.

Perhaps you feel a bit dull and tarnished right now, like a diamond that had been dropped in mud. And yet, when the external dirt is washed away, your intrinsic beauty continues to radiate.

Your light is shining through all the layers that obscure it, so open your heart and hands. Let the light within you expand in ever bigger circles to hold this entire world in its embrace. Let your love reach out to embrace all the forms of life around you: two-leggeds and four-leggeds, feathered and scaled ones; all of nature. It is by embracing the beauty of what already is, that your love will call forth the highest good in yourself and others.

You are magnificent and powerful; a co-creator endowed with the privilege of being the Creator’s hands and feet and voice in this world. This is your purpose and your calling.

Life is fleeting and fragile and sometimes utterly awful. At times such as these, the light within you is needed more than ever.

Never let the shadows around you discourage you. Instead, let your light shine so brightly that it dispels the shadows and illumines your path.

You came into this life to realize the Presence of the Creator in you and anchor that in physicality. As you do that, the Creator Presence radiates into the world around you to heal, transform and renew. That power is in you right now, right here!

You alone must discover the full potential of what is possible in this life. You already have the power of becoming within you, for you have the power of choice.

And as you nestle into the Presence of Spirit’s peace at the end of each day, may you feel the pleasure of the Creator resting on you, and the loving embrace of your heavenly support team.

You are never alone. You are Divinely loved and supported, now and always.

About The Author:

©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit https://adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.

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