Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Quotes & Reasons to Follow Your Heart

When was the last time you followed your heart?

So the transition has been an interesting one. I forgot how long it took me to recover from coming back from Argentina. I was gone for about 2 years, and it took me about a year to recover. It's like the supposed break up rule, it takes half the amount of time you were away (or with someone) to feel yourself again. I don't like to adhere to the rules, but to a general degree it does seem to uphold.

Culture shock in my Denver hotel.
Landing in the Bozeman airport overwhelmed with a sense of giddiness and euphoria. Wow. It felt so good to be home.  All in all I travelled over 130 bus hours, 8 flights, 4 time zones, 7 weeks, 4 countries, 3 languages, and innumerous life changing experiences.  So maybe it was simply exhaustion from so much, and a delayed flight meaning an unexpected extra night and early morning in Denver to top it all off. But part of it was also the majesty of the beautiful mountains we were passing over, the bright sunshine, and that wonderful sense of comfort you have from the place you most often choose to lie your head at night (and on your own pillow!). I was grateful.

And then about 3 days later I felt like I got hit by a car (or at least a passing bird) and wham! ended up sleeping about 14 hours, waking up feeling so disoriented and more than a tad confused. Wait, I had already done this adventure? It all really happened? Am I supposed to think in Spanish or English now? It felt so wrong to throw the toilet paper in the trash can, after spending the beginning of the trip training myself to do the opposite. It also felt terribly counterintuitive to drink the water from the tap or eat uncooked produce. My stomach almost revolted just at the thought of it!  

Llama/Alpaca/Vicuña Crossing!
But what a relief it all ended up being, even if there are things I will certainly miss. Like seeing llama crossing signs instead of deer ones, being in places that are celebrating 2013 as El año de la Quinua (the International Year of Quinoa- my favorite food!). I'll reminisce of the hilarity that ensued when buses in Bolivia stopped seemingly in the middle of nowhere, to let people off, and the guy travelling next to me would wildly exclaim: 'But where are they going?! There are no roads here, no places, no buildings, no trees, no cars to pick them up or people waiting for them, no nothing! Where are they going, these people? I am so confused, I just don't get what is going on when this happens' (spoken in a thick Dutch accent by an actual Dutch clown). Yes the nonsensical parts of other cultures are often the most endearing parts of being abroad.

And I'll also think back to all the cleansing that took place and the many layers of self that I shed so completely through new experience, triumphs, and tribulations. I probably won't miss all the horn honking or the seeing the stray dogs on the street, but good or bad I will continue to hold these memories fondly in my heart. 

All in all I have been content knowing that I am following my heart and that I am where I most need to be after having done what I most needed to do for myself. And while the transition is scary and tumultuous and it does make me question, there's not a doubt in my being that it isn't all exactly as it should be. I have no regrets, only hopes, gratitude, and patience.

What is like to be in a place in life where you feel like you've climbed this huge mountaintop and now you can just sit still and take it all in? Bizarre when you've just spent the last however long (week, month, year, years) climbing your way up to get there. It's so common that people will climb one mountain top only to immediately reach for the next one, because they simply feel like they always have to do something.

Well I'm here to tell you that we don't. That sometimes life's about just soaking in the sunshine, the accomplishment, and the waiting. It can be very frustrating (especially for those of us who like action), but I've learned that it's by far more worthy to undertake inspired action rather than just acting to act. 

Feeling free in Bolivia at about 14,500 ft.
What's the difference? Acting inspired just feels right. It's hard not to know what comes next. To just sit and wait. But I've learned that if you aren't sure of what to do next, what to say, etc. then you simply do not have enough information available to you at the moment and it is best not to do or say anything at all. And when you do feel that urge that can't be suppressed, then you absolutely must go for it and give it your all, trusting that the time is right.

Some good advice from the Tao on the subject: 'It requires absolute honesty and sincere self-scrutiny to discern the difference between being swept up emotionally by one's own needs, and hearing the voice of sincere inner guidance. The former usually demands a good deal of enthusiasm to bolster courage. The latter, on the other hand, can usually feel like water rolling off a duck's back, or a kind of inevitability when everything seems to fit together like pieces in a puzzle, revealing a bigger and truer picture. The best way to know that you are following your truth is to check out whether what you are doing provides a deep sense of meaning and purpose to life, however challenged you may feel at times.'

Heart Opener during the heart opening experience of Cowgirl Yoga.
Photo taken by Larry Stanley.
And right now for me that means patiently awaiting the things that I know are right, and being willing to fearlessly let go of that which deep down I know no longer serves my higher purpose. Again with the Tao... 'Let go is another form of retreat. Letting go releases the grip of over-identification with something, someone, or some concept that might have been useful or even precious once, but now needs to be put behind you. Attempting to cling to it is contrary to the Tao, and as a result would certainly be troublesome. Letting go makes it possible to energetically move on. 

The choice of migrating geese to fly south is not really a choice. It is common sense to submit to the changing seasons in pursuit of a more accommodating climate - especially when the alternative would be dangerous. Only humans are so foolish as to ignore the signs, preferring to hold fast even to that which is likely to make them suffer.  Retreating into nature is restorative by providing the space for contemplation and realignment with your subtle inner rhythms, and meditation is a form of retreat that can happen without ever going anywhere. Withdrawing from the day's busyness by turning your attention inward makes it easier to dispassionately evaluate the outer signs of change, enables you to make right choices, and renews a sense of well-being. Once you know that the time for retreat has arrived, don't hesitate to spread your wings and, with the wind at your back, move toward the new.'

I won't hesitate. And in the mean time I'll appreciate all that I have and the process of change and transition. For new things are on the horizon and I am more excited about them and about life than ever before.

What excites you? When is the last time you chose to really follow your heart, or even ask it for guidance? Is there something little that has been nagging you like stopping by to visit a certain friend, going down a particular street on the way home, or perhaps making amends that have been long overdue? Is there something you've always been passionate about but rationalized that it would be illogical or foolish to go after? 

Just go with it. Once you start trusting your heart, things become easier and more meaningful and life all of a sudden has this immense abundance that can't be turned away. It's truly a glorious experience that starts to fill your every day with meaning and contentment. And when it feels a bit rocky and uncertain, appreciate the words of my dear friend Vicki, 'Rocky is good- it makes you cling to your gut when in the face of loss.'

And as always, make the time to turn inward. As Vicki also says, I believe that religion is whatever brings you peace, and for that reason meditation is my religion. It works. But be sure to head this advice: 'If we are not careful, meditation can become just one more thing that we think we need to do to improve ourselves- an attitude of our perfectionist culture. In fact, true peace comes from being at one with how we are right now, rather than some ideal person that we hope to be in the future. If we view meditation as a process without a clearly defined outcome, we create a space in which to sit with ourselves, quietly observing our thoughts and feelings, allowing ourselves to be' (from the book 1,001 Meditations).

For those of you new to any form of meditating, don't let it be some big scary thing. It's simply a matter of appreciating and listening to your inner worth and guidance. This post on the Tiny Buddha website has some good tips for finding a way to access the peace that works for you, in a fun and easy way. 

Accept yourself, accept the process, and follow your heart
It'll tell you when the time is right to act and when it's best to simply sit still and breathe. 
And the more you practice asking it for guidance, the more obvious it will become what to do.
Life will seem wondrously simple, more fluid, and wildly fulfilling.
Why wait?

I think Einstein agrees, and here are some relevant quotes if you care to read on:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction."
"The only real valuable thing is intuition."
"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."
"Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character."
"Imagination is more important than knowledge."
"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."
"Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results."
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” 
“Love is a better master than duty.” 
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” 
“I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” 

Namasté Y'all.

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