Tag Archives: frustration

Love: Seeing Through the Lens of the Heart

In my dream I’m walking through various corridors. I look down and realize that I am carrying a gun in my hand. A loaded gun, cocked and ready to fire. As I walk through a maze of people, I keep trying to de-cock the gun and put it on safety, keenly aware of how important it is to keep the barrel pointed at the ground and away from all the people I kept randomly encountering.

I wake up with the understanding that any new-found power and awareness calls for increased responsibility and self-discipline. The more power we have to manifest our thought forms into fruition here in the physical realm, the more careful we need to be about the kinds of thought forms we choose to cultivate.

Today’s topic is Love.
Not romantic ‘Valentine’s Day’ love. Not ‘sexy-time’ love. Not country-song ‘you broke my heart’ love. Not ‘ice cream’ love. These are all misnomers; the small mind’s attempts to capture in a word what it means to desire.

The small mind, associated with the self-preservation of the ego, is a trickster. When we see love through the lens of the small mind, it feels as though there’s much at stake. This so-called ‘love’ is actually a form of grasping and attachment. (The “coin” of attachment has two sides: desire/grasping, which is the memory of pleasure; and fear/aversion, which is the memory of pain.)

This path is characterized by a fear of losing arguments, fear of looking bad, feelings of self-sacrifice, feelings of loss, and an attitude of martyrdom. Sadness, anger, frustration, self-righteous indignation, and a desire to ‘keep score’ are also road signs along this path, signalling that we are seeing the world through the lens of the small mind. Any claim to be acting from a place of ‘love’ on this path is misperception.
Actual love involves seeing the world through the lens of the Heart. This path is characterized by the relaxed understanding that there’s nothing to lose; nothing at stake. Nothing being sacrificed. Even the grittiest moments of apparent conflict, when seen through the lens of the Heart, are couched in gentleness, calm, and a desire to understand and communicate with compassion.

Recently, I recognized an opportunity for this very practice, as it unfolded. Someone asked me a question in a professional setting. Having just completed a brief report on the subject and e-mailed it out only moments earlier, I answered the question very quickly, with joy and excitement in my heart for my accomplishment. The questioner stood there a moment, then walked in and closed the door, sharing with me a very powerful emotional response of pain, sadness and suffering at the hands of my verbal attack.

Attack?

I felt surprised. Confused. But clearly, regardless of the message I felt I had sent, the message received had been very different.

In that moment, I noticed my heart was racing. Okay, that’s fine, I thought. I reached over to a glass of water sitting on my desk and took a drink, focusing on my breath. Though tempted to fall into my usual routine of shifting to the lens of the small mind and playing the game of competing victimization, somehow I was able to turn away from that and see the person before me through the lens of the Heart. This person clearly felt angry (which can always be traced back to fear; fear of losing something or of not getting something), this person felt sad, this person felt disrespected and not valued. This person felt not loved.

While recognizing and empathizing with the other person’s emotional states, those thought forms, I was careful not to take them on as my own. Somehow, I remained lovingly detached, observing them through the lens of the Heart. Only from this place of loving detachment could I maintain my “balance” and my ability to respond calmly and with compassion. (I can only help a drowning person if I, myself, am not drowning.)

And even as this person chose to remain standing while I sat, and even as they pointed a finger at me and raised their voice, I could see the tears in their eyes. I could hear and feel the underlying sadness and pain. In that moment, I realized that I didn’t WANT to ‘win’. Through the lens of the small mind, if my attention is on identifying attackers, then any little thing I perceive can feel like an attack. In this rare and precious moment, I did not feel attacked. I honestly felt no desire to ‘calculate’ my way out of being ‘in trouble’. (And I knew I could not be ‘in trouble’: I had expressed myself from a place of joy. I had nothing to be ashamed of.) No one was right or wrong. There were simply two people in a room, and one was sharing their perceived pain.

Big realizations happened for me in that moment. I realized that I truly appreciated this new information that was being shared. I had no desire to come across as harsh or uncaring, yet somehow that’s exactly how I had come across to this person. This was extremely valuable information that was being shared. This person was actually helping me to become more aware of the unintended messages that I sometimes send through my words and actions.

And it was being shared with a bold sense of honesty. In the moment. In all its rawness. No matter what judgments I might have about it, I could appreciate that this person was being authentic. This kind of authenticity is courageous, in my book. What a beautiful example for me to follow.

After focusing on really hearing this person and checking for confirmation that I truly understood what they were feeling, I thanked them for their honesty, authenticity and courage. I noticed internally that my heart rate had slowed. Though we were “standing close to the emotional fire”, I felt calm and relaxed. Even joyful. I realized I was not ‘losing face’ through the act of apologizing to this person for how I’d come across, or by sharing with them that I admired and respected them and never, ever wished to cause them suffering. There was no crushing blow to my ego. I did not feel like I was losing any sort of fight, or giving up any sort of position of power.

In fact, the only feeling I experienced was a calm sense of joy as the gulf of our misunderstanding closed, bringing us closer to one another.

In the end, we hugged. The next day, instead of falling back into a sense of discomfort and embarrassment, I walked up at an opportune moment with a smile and asked how they were doing. “Are you feeling okay after yesterday?” People can tell when we mean it; when we’re speaking from a place of love, through the lens of the heart.
How do I know when I’m seeing through the lens of the heart? Simple. Just look for these tell-tale signs: Experience of joy. Smile on your face. Laughter. Lightness. A sense of effortlessness.

The story doesn’t end here.

The Ascended Masters know that new-found power and awareness call for a new sense of responsibility and self-discipline. After we hugged and the other person went about their business, I felt a joy and sense of connection I’ve rarely ever known. And suddenly, I wasn’t sure what to ‘do’ with all that joy.

Again I found myself temped to shift back to the lens of the small mind. The joy coursing through my heart and chest, as well as the sensation of feeling relaxed, happy, and powerful, was a new and almost unsettling feeling. My small mind tried to get me to doubt it… to start replaying the entire scene and figure out what I could have said or should have said… to find holes in the other person’s argument. “If you’re feeling THIS good,” the small mind whispered in my ear, “then you MUST have missed something!”

Small twinges of fear tried to creep in: What if you’re in trouble tomorrow? What if you can’t actually handle this pressure of happiness? What if you were wrong?

I had to remind myself simply to stay in the heart and trust my joy. I literally used my right hand to physically tap the heart area of my chest and said the word “love” out loud to myself repeatedly in order to bring my focus out of my head and back to my heart. Turning my attention AWAY from the thought-forms of fear and shifting focus back to the heart helped to extinguish those thoughts, and put an easy smile back on my face.
The Ascended Masters urge us to strengthen our practice of disciplining the mind. Our minds are tools of creation, in a very real sense. We’re here on earth to practice learning to control our minds and to create with them. This is a training ground for us to practice: the less practice we have, the longer it takes for a thought-form to manifest in the physical realm. The benefit of this is the opportunity to cancel out negative thought-forms before they manifest by generating and cultivating loving thought-forms.
But the more power we attain, the more mastery is needed because LESS time passes between having a thought and the physical manifestation of that thought. If we don’t have mastery over our thoughts, then we set up conditions for manifesting what may NOT be for the highest good.
Fortunately, we get to practice with the wooden sword before we get the steel one. By shifting our attention back to the heart, from moment to moment throughout the day, we purify our minds and generate loving thought-forms, helping to raise the vibration of the planet. Only the slightest fraction of an increase will make a tremendous positive difference, transmuting fear and aggression into love and compassion for all beings. Best to start right this moment!
Ascended Master Djwhal Khul is currently holding lectures on this topic for souls who wish to visit his ashram on the inner planes. His lectures are to assist all of us who visit in truly understanding why mastery is needed and how it can be gained. He invites us to simply ask aloud before falling asleep at night to be taken to Master Djwhal Khul’s ashram to attend his Mastery Lectures. Whether we remember anything consciously the next morning, wisdom will be retained and will help us gain mastery over the thought-forms we cultivate.

Tim Birchard, M.Ed. is a recording musician, Reiki master-teacher in the Usui tradition, and adult educator. He is a founding member of Blue Lotus Feet, an improvisational kirtan group based in Durango, Colorado dedicated to raising spiritual awareness and nurturing inner connection in the Four Corners region and around the world. For more information, contact Tim at timbirchard@gmail.com or visit www.bluelotusfeet.com .

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Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with pet owners

“Oh, it’s okay… she won’t bite.”

As I open the car door and turn to step out of the car, I look up to see two dogs fast approaching. I raise my right foot and hold it in the air. The dog stops suddenly and takes a step back. The owner quickly takes hold of the dog’s collar and then, holding the dog’s collar, slowly brings the dog’s nose closer to my leg.

“She just wants to sniff you.”

I look at my fellow human being and wonder: Do I have any say in the matter?

Why is it that so many dog owners are happy to tell me that their dog is perfectly safe, and that I should have no concerns about letting this animal put its jaws and teeth right next to my leg to satisfy its curiosity? What happens if the dog smells something it doesn’t like and responds by biting me? Isn’t it then a little too late, now that I have to pay for a hospital visit and rabies shots, to run up, regain control of their dog, and apologize?

(I’m reminded of my routine bicycle ride to work last week, when I found myself face-to-face with an angry dog, up on its hind legs, teeth bared, straining against the leash as its owner struggled to keep it from lunging at my body as I rode by. Zen told me to keep riding, since the only thing that had been disturbed was my thought process. Still I find myself turning over and over in my mind the various other possible outcomes. So much for my Zen training.)

And setting aside safety issues and the potential unpredictability of mammals lower on the food chain, what if I simply PREFER not to have dogs rubbing their noses and fur against my body?

Whose needs come first: a dog’s, or a human’s?

It’s my responsibility to set and maintain healthy boundaries around my own body. It’s also my responsibility to make sure that my body doesn’t collide with anyone else’s body; by extension, it’s my responsibility to make sure that my dog doesn’t violate the personal boundaries around other peoples’ bodies.

So why is it that when a dog owner refuses to respect my personal boundaries and I’m put in the position to maintain them myself, she or he becomes so defensive and protective of their dog?

I’m sitting in the park minding my own business. A dog runs up and starts trying to sniff my body. I make adjustments to prevent the dog from doing so.

And suddenly, I’m the jerk?

In this case, I happened to be helping a dear friend with a project that involved being on the dog owner’s property. So I kept my mouth shut. More or less. But the more this pattern wore on through the day, the more unhappy I felt. Now that I’ve had some time to tease apart the issues at hand, I feel better prepared to articulate my concerns. I’m realizing that setting and maintaining healthy boundaries with people can mean making requests regarding how they control their pets. Now I understand that I need to be ready to make the following requests:

“I understand that you love your dog, and I respect that. I need to know what action you’re going to take to keep your dog at least three feet away from my body. If your dog gets closer to my body than that, I need to know what action you’re comfortable with me taking; do you prefer I move my leg quickly and make a sharp sound? Do you prefer I shake my gloves in your dog’s face? Because if you don’t care enough to control your dog and respect my personal boundaries, I certainly plan to maintain them for myself.”

“If you don’t like any of those choices, dog lover, then I leave it to you to maintain control of your dog.”

If that doesn’t work, then I make the choice to remove myself from the situation, whether other people experience emotional discomfort or not.

At the end of the day, this isn’t a ‘dog’ issue, or a ‘pet’ issue at all.

It’s a matter of respecting another human being’s freedom to choose whether to get close to animals or not. It’s a matter of recognizing that just because I love dogs doesn’t mean that everyone loves dogs. When I let my dog walk up and sniff you, I’m disregarding your freedom to choose that outcome. And when you protect your own freedom to choose by preventing the dog from getting close enough to sniff your body and I respond by chastising you, I’m demonstrating a total lack of awareness that your happiness may not include dog slobber on your clothing and body.

What do you think, fellow human being? Where’s the line?



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Elusive guitar solo; remembering boot camp

New song. Almost done. Need solo.

Did a couple yesterday, when I was very tired. Just laid down ten different tries today. Came up with a cool idea for the first 4 bars. 

Tried just playing along and not hitting “record”. Magic happened. I freaked out, hit the “record” button. The ideas evaporated into thin air.

Time to do dishes. Laundry. Prepare for another week. Time to wrench myself away from chasing down this solo as if it’s a tiger that must be hunted and killed. I can tell I’m in the wrong headspace. I’m looking for the trophy. The ultimate blues solo.

Never get there from here. Better go do some dishes.

How about you? Ever feel frustrated during your creative process? What works for you in moments like these?

PS– Twenty years ago today I was on a plane to Orlando for boot camp. Arrived, got processed in and got my bunk in the middle of the night. Me and 80 of my new best friends. Lights out, finally, around 2am? About 25 minutes later, lights on, and lots of yelling by a (seemingly) very, very angry man.

The beginning of a new day.

I’m sure that in that moment, I probably wondered where I’d be in 20 years. I’m happy to look back across time and reassure that young, terrified kid that life gets better and better.

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When I’m convinced that I’m right and you’re wrong

Sometimes I fly off the handle.

Usually, I can keep my cool. I can take a step back, listen, smile, try to find some common ground. Even excuse myself and walk away, if I have to.

I took this photo

But then, without warning, when it’s an issue I care deeply about, I’ll find myself defending my “turf” without even realizing it. Defending what I mistakenly believe to be my identity. (Which ends up being nothing more than a list of preferences.)

Recently I’ve caught myself doing just that. I won’t go into the details… pick an issue that you’re passionate about and you’ll know where I’m coming from. The conversation, if we could call it that, was degenerating quickly. A few e-mail salvos fired across one another’s bow, and I was ready to shrug it off and walk away… check the box marked “spam” and move on.

But then I thought of my friend Michael Rendon.

Michael Rendon, Mayor of Durango, Colorado. Term: April 17, 2007 – April 2011

Recently Michael was speaking to our Leadership La Plata class, and he shared that, as mayor, he’s happy to sit down with anyone and discuss any topic. He’s willing (eager!) to look at the other side of the coin and consider where the other person is coming from. Because at the end of the day, as he put it, “we’re going to have SOMETHING in common.”

And even if that ‘something’ is as basic as ‘we both want to be happy’, that seems like good enough reason for me to try (TRY) to set my own resistance aside and really try to hear and understand what the other person is saying. Feeling. Living.

So, with Michael’s example in mind, here’s what I wrote back to the person I disagreed with:

“I’m not interested in trying to change your thinking, or your beliefs. I know it would be futile anyway. I’m happy to continue talking with you and sharing ideas. I can agree to respect your views without trying to convince you of anything.

“Can you agree to respect mine without trying to change MY mind about things? Because, honestly, when it comes to religion and politics you and I see the world VERY differently. I’m happy to consider where you’re coming from; and at the same time, it’s a LOT easier for me to honestly listen and consider your viewpoint when I’m not feeling attacked or judged.

“So, what do you say? Is it possible for you and me to move forward and have calm and RESPECTFUL discussions about tough issues?”

My buddy Jeremy Booth took this

 

Suddenly, I’m off the hook. I’m already a winner. Because I’m honestly working to create the conditions for shared understanding. My happiness is no longer tied to convincing the other person to agree with me. The person I’m talking to has hopes, dreams, fears, preferences, and struggles. Just like me. At the end of the day, we’re really not so different.

What do you think, Gentle Reader? How do you handle those moments when someone’s position seems to be diametrically opposed to yours? Do you struggle like I do? Do you ever use this struggle as material for your music?

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