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Journal

A Radical Idea

A Radical Idea

I was all set to put the finishing touches on a different blog post this morning when – BAM! – another idea came into my head, so I rolled with it. Or it rolled me (which is more what it felt like)! So here goes…

Going through my photos last night, I rediscovered pictures from my stay at Omega Institute a few years ago, including the inspirational designs (above) I came across on the path to the meditation chapel. 

You don’t need to ‘better’ yourself…You are perfect already.” -Gangaji

How does it feel to read these words? Do they challenge everything you’ve been taught to believe about yourself? Can you dare to believe them? 

Dear one, can you afford not to?

The words remind me of a few lines from a poem I “happened” to open up to this morning in one of my favorite books, The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master (translations by Daniel Ladinsky):

Your life within God’s arms,
Your dance within God’s 
Arms
Is already
Perfect.

(Please don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. If “God” doesn’t work for you, feel free to substitute a word that does. There are so many choices.)

Just imagine if THIS were your truth instead of feeling you’re not good enough right now as you are or beating yourself up – which is not productive and is a surefire way to block access to your true strength and power. Some people are afraid that if they believe they are already “perfect” (If perfect is too much of a stretch, perhaps magnificent will do?), they won’t be motivated to improve themselves and will be crippled by inertia. But that’s not at all how I see it.

The other night, I thought about my almost-two-year-old granddaughter and wished her life weren’t so challenging. Then I reminded myself what my spiritual director has told me countless times: I don’t know what anyone else’s soul has come here to learn or experience. Maybe everything is exactly as it should be for her to learn and grow the way her soul wants to in this lifetime. Perhaps the experiences she’s having are exactly what she needs, and I can trust her path while loving her unconditionally and supporting her to the best of my ability (which includes having healthy boundaries, which is something I’m working on…).

Then I thought of others I know who came into this world with a brilliant mind and so many talents. So much potential, so many gifts. And mental health challenges that might include anything from run-of-the-mill personality quirks to serious illness and/or addiction. Perhaps the contrast is exactly what we need in order to grow and learn on a spiritual level. Perhaps reconciling it is our path. Perhaps it’s not about trying to do better or accomplish more or live up to some “great potential” or standard you feel you’re constantly falling short of. Perhaps it’s more about the qualities that can be developed as a result of your gifts intersecting with your challenges. Humility might be part of your path. Or loving yourself for who you are rather than who you think you should be. Dropping all the shoulds and embracing the magnificence that you already are, that is intact and undefiled by anything you have experienced or done in the world. 
 
I have brought two babies into this world and have witnessed firsthand the magnificence/perfection that is our unconditioned state. It is always there, waiting for us to return to it (even if it involves doing some bushwhacking). To rediscover it. To let it find us. To embrace it. To say YES, this is what I am, regardless of what anyone has convinced me otherwise.
 
Imagine the weight we put down when we dare to believe we are a unique, perfectly flawed expression of the Life Force that connects us all, warts, scars, and all. It frees us to improve on the perfection that we already are and experience more of our boundless nature.
 
THAT is what comes to mind when I look at the inspirational designs I photographed at Omega. It’s about believing in someone who faces challenges I can’t even imagine living with and keeps falling down and getting back up again with greater humility. Believing in myself when I wobble off-center and feel like a hopeless misfit. Believing we are inherently good at the core and can choose to access our innate goodness and power rather than cut ourselves off by believing we’re flawed, deficient, broken, and hopeless. Of course we are flawed, along with everyone else, and that’s part of our perfection as human beings! We are as we were created to be, so let’s make the best of it and see what we can do and be when we release ourselves from the bondage of negative self-thought!
 
© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
Amidst the Morning Mist

Amidst the Morning Mist

This will not be a wordy post. I don’t have anything deep or philosophical to share today. I just want to share a simple, seasonal pleasure that I find so lovely and peaceful.

This time of year, mornings tend to be quite dramatic on the river, often featuring mist. The calm river becomes a dark, sprawling stage on which the steam fog performs a spirited ballet. I sit on my dock for a front row view and take in the graceful movement. It reminds me of the countless New York City Ballet performances I’ve seen at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center throughout my life. It’s that graceful and unified. The musical accompaniment features the sprawling, seasonal ritardando of the last few crickets and a variety of birdsong solos. 

It’s as if I can make out individual mist dancers and watch as they break away from the mass and twirl on their own or in small circles with other misty dancers, as part of a unified choreography and rhythm. One dance with different parts. Another dancer breaks away for a vigorous pirouette, like a tiny whirlwind, before rejoining the rest. When sunbeams shine through spaces between the leaves of taller trees, they look like spotlights shining on certain groups of mist dancers twirling in circles. 

Sometimes other music arises in my mind when I observe the dancing mist, such as the romantic waltzes of Johann Strauss. But I suspect that if I were to become even more still and free my listening from any filters or memories, I’d hear the misty river’s authentic music, as has happened a few times in the past.

At some point, I can’t resist anymore. I get into my kayak and glide across the dark, reflective stage decorated with clusters of lily pads and aquatic grasses, as the dancers continue to move, lift, and twirl all around me. It is sheer delight and is always best when I am facing the sun with the mist in the foreground.

One morning, already enraptured by the mist dancing all around me, I paddled under the bridge and noticed a great blue heron standing like a statue amidst all the activity, a striking counterpoint of stillness. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring my camera that morning. 

And then there was another recent morning when I was all alone on the misty river except for a solitary goose that was moving gently in the direction of the sun. I don’t often see a lone goose on the river, as geese tend to stick together. As I “read” this image with my heart, a number of metaphors came through.

That morning, a poem arose in me:

Here
I am grateful
For the full catastrophe
Of life,
Grateful for blessings
I’m not even aware of
And only can sense
The existence of
Deep inside
Where patterns seem
To be shifting
Like a kaleidoscope
Being turned
By a heart
Tuned by poetry,
Stillness and gratitude
To be in harmony
With a greater Self
Rather than the usual
Dissonant
Distractions.

Misty, autumn mornings on the river are a special gift. Engaging with the cool morning air, the sunrise colors, the stillness of the water, and the dancing mist is such a peaceful way to begin the day in harmony with my environment and my greater Self. I feel so blessed to live here and so grateful for this time of year.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

Tuning Out and Tuning In

Tuning Out and Tuning In

Imagine what it would be like to be raised with the belief that all the answers you want and need are inside you. Imagine being taught from a young age the importance of dropping down into yourself every day, becoming still, focusing on your breathing, and allowing all the mental chatter to settle so you can hear your own wisdom. Can you even imagine? I recently listened to an interview with two daughters of a spiritual teacher who described their upbringing this way, and it blew my mind! Imagine the possibilities! It certainly wasn’t the way I was raised. It’s a concept I’ve been familiar with for a long time but didn’t really believe, deep down in my bones, until quite recently. And it feels like a total game-changer.

A dear friend shared with me her story of a recent commute to work. Normally, she drinks a smoothie in her car as she drives along a winding road near her house that she knows like the back of her hand. This particular morning, as she reached for her smoothie, a voice arose inside her that told her not to drink it. Although she thought it was peculiar, she listened to the voice, and when she went around one of the next turns, she was shocked to discover an unaccompanied toddler in the road! Apparently, the child’s caregiver didn’t notice the child had slipped out of the house and made his way down the long driveway, all the way to the dangerous, country road. Had my friend tipped her head back to drink her smoothie as she normally did, she might not have noticed the child until it was too late. Fortunately, she listened to the voice and was able to help the child get back home safely.

Last weekend, Jack went out for a drive and returned home quite shaken. He explained that he was driving along, and a voice arose in him that said the purple car up ahead in the distance was going to pull out in front of him. The voice took him by surprise. As he got closer to the purple car, sure enough: It did pull out in front of him, causing Jack’s vehicle to screech and swerve. Had he not listened to the voice, he probably wouldn’t have paid such close attention to the purple car or reduced his speed ahead of time. It could have been a bad accident. In addition to being shaken by nearly getting in an accident, he was in awe of the voice that knew what was about to happen and was looking out for him.

We all have that voice inside us, and I’ve learned through plenty of experience that when I follow it, I’m much better off than when I don’t. It seems to be the voice of a sophisticated intelligence that connects us with our greater self, like E.T. phoning home or vice versa.

Last month, I committed to taking time for self-care first thing in the morning and not checking emails or social media until after I have checked in with myself. Sometimes it takes the form of kayaking on the calm river because that’s where I tend to hear the voice of inner wisdom most clearly. One morning, I paddled across the river, reflecting on what a great decision it was to be on the river instead of doing any number of other things. My phone rang, but I did not answer it and felt good about how disciplined I was with regard to my self-care time. I thought: I paddle through stillness to a quiet spot where a deeper voice arises. Right after thinking and recording that thought into my phone, a feather floated by me. It gave off an electric energy that compelled me to turn around and take a second look, and I realized it was a bald eagle feather! In all my years on the river – in all my years on this planet – I’d never come across an eagle feather and considered it a powerful sign that a feather held to be so sacred would float by me like that. It felt like a nod from the Universe for taking the time to turn away from distractions and tune in to my authentic self.

One morning earlier this month, I got out of bed at a ridiculous hour and felt compelled to take a long drive because I was certain it was the right thing to do. It would have been much more convenient to stay in bed, but I knew I needed to get up and drive. The inner guidance was very loud and clear! The image of a particular scenic overlook popped into my mind, and I wondered if I’d end up anywhere around there for the sunrise. I never checked my GPS to see what time I would arrive; I just kept driving. Amazingly, I arrived there exactly as the sun was about to peek over the distant mountains. I didn’t have to wait at all or linger to catch it but arrived at precisely the right moment, without rushing or trying. I experienced a glorious sunrise that now serves as a symbol of following my inner knowing. Every time I look at pictures of that sunrise, I feel the power of following my intuition.

On the other hand, I recently didn’t follow my inner guidance and ended up suffering a painful injury that absolutely could have been avoided if I’d been more rested and centered and therefore better able to access and act on my intuition. Sometimes, the worst pain compels people to do whatever they can to medicate it away. But it can be an opportunity to really drop down into yourself and see what’s going on – what’s getting in the way of you feeling better and healing. That’s what I’ve been doing during my convalescence while staying close to home and keeping things real simple. 

Did I ever get in touch with what was holding me back as I writhed, cried, and prayed my way through excruciating pain! I confronted some deep issues and patterns that mostly involve not following my inner wisdom throughout my life – whether to please others, to be loved and accepted, or because I truly believed other people knew better than I did what was best for me. I began this healing journey feeling awful about how I betrayed and injured myself as a result of not listening to the voice of my greater self. I wanted more than anything to go back in time and prevent the injury from happening in the first place. However, when I started tuning in to my inner guidance, I realized the importance of accepting the situation and even being thankful for it because it is an opportunity for seriously deep healing and overcoming unhealthy habits I had not been able to free myself from any other way. I think I needed this to happen in order for deeper healing to take place. I’ve been listening closely to my body and what foods it wants for healing. I’ve rediscovered the joy of true nourishment and am naturally gravitating away from certain foods and people that take me out of alignment with my deeper wisdom. 

It feels so good to tune in to my inner guidance system. I’m happy to report that I turned a corner over the weekend and began to feel much better. No more pain! As I started to expand my food choices and communications, I noticed instantly which ones didn’t feel right. They were more of a jolt to my system than usual because I’d been so tuned in to what felt right. I realize the importance of making space for stillness and tuning in to my inner wisdom on a daily basis. If I’d been doing that all along, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this situation.

Sometimes it’s really hard to follow inner guidance. It’s easier or more fun or exciting to remain in denial or not face your fear, or maybe you don’t want to disappoint someone. But following intuition saves us from so much more suffering, and when we are ready, it is there for us, helping us find our way through what might feel like a no-win situation. Even though we may convince ourselves otherwise, doing what’s in harmony with our greater self will ultimately benefit everyone else, too. I have learned the hard way that betraying myself causes the worst suffering and that tap dancing around issues and being afraid to speak and act on my inner knowing ultimately prolongs and worsens the unconsciousness and suffering for all involved.

You can do the work on your own proactively, or you can wait for the Universe to step in and help you along. It is usually more comfortable and empowering to do it on your own. But if you are unable to do it on your own for whatever reason, the Universe will step in eventually. And when that happens, no matter how painful it is, be grateful. If this level of pain is what it took to get me back in alignment with my inner knowing, then so be it. The feeling of being in harmony with both my body and my greater self is its own reward.

© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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