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Those Who Float, by Daniel Gottlieb

FaceBook  On Jul 1, 2012 Veena Vasista wrote:

 Oh yes!!!! This post really resonated with me. In 2009, my theme for the year was 'Year of Effortless Living." I spent that year exploring how I could live my life with less effort - because I was tired of continuously experiencing life as a struggle. I blogged about my reflections throughout the year and here's what I wrote in my introductory blog on 1 January 2008: "Last year, I was taking swimming lessons and they’ve proved to be equally instructive in and out of the water. Previously, I had been a very poor, fearful swimmer who often found being in the water pretty damn tiring. My strokes were usually quick and sharp, making a strong splash and feeling powerful, but not actually doing much to move me forward. I often behaved as if water was trying to pull me under and I needed to escape from it. But after my lessons, I began to swim differently (you would hope, wouldn’t you?). I put an end to thrashing about and pushing so hard to move so little. I found that water would support me, if I let it. I experienced swimming not only as enjoyable and relaxing, but at times it seemed effortless. Then it hit me, life is a lot like swimming: we can either relax into it or struggle with it." Fast forward to April 2012 and the Pacific Ocean. There I was on a holiday and the calm, warm waters beckoned me. For the first time in my life, I calmly floated in the ocean. I had the experience of laying back, letting the water hold me while I looked up at the blue sky. But it wasn't all calmness. Sometimes,  when the tide would come in and my feet were unable to touch the bottom, I would feel the fear enter my heart and notice that I would stop breathing - I would panic, even if only for the few seconds. And even just floating when the tide was very low could still bring me to a panic - it took a few tries to get really calm and at ease - to surrender to the water. I was very conscious that my relationship with the o  See full.

 Oh yes!!!! This post really resonated with me. In 2009, my theme for the year was 'Year of Effortless Living." I spent that year exploring how I could live my life with less effort - because I was tired of continuously experiencing life as a struggle. I blogged about my reflections throughout the year and here's what I wrote in my introductory blog on 1 January 2008: "Last year, I was taking swimming lessons and they’ve proved to be equally instructive in and out of the water. Previously, I had been a very poor, fearful swimmer who often found being in the water pretty damn tiring. My strokes were usually quick and sharp, making a strong splash and feeling powerful, but not actually doing much to move me forward. I often behaved as if water was trying to pull me under and I needed to escape from it. But after my lessons, I began to swim differently (you would hope, wouldn’t you?). I put an end to thrashing about and pushing so hard to move so little. I found that water would support me, if I let it. I experienced swimming not only as enjoyable and relaxing, but at times it seemed effortless. Then it hit me, life is a lot like swimming: we can either relax into it or struggle with it."

Fast forward to April 2012 and the Pacific Ocean. There I was on a holiday and the calm, warm waters beckoned me. For the first time in my life, I calmly floated in the ocean. I had the experience of laying back, letting the water hold me while I looked up at the blue sky. But it wasn't all calmness. Sometimes,  when the tide would come in and my feet were unable to touch the bottom, I would feel the fear enter my heart and notice that I would stop breathing - I would panic, even if only for the few seconds. And even just floating when the tide was very low could still bring me to a panic - it took a few tries to get really calm and at ease - to surrender to the water. I was very conscious that my relationship with the ocean reflected my relationship with life. 

The short of it is that I am the most comfortable I've ever been in water - I'm still not fearless, but I definitely have had the experience of life/water holding me. I no longer move through life anxious and fearful much of the time - I no longer think I'm being pulled down. How has this happened? Deep soul work to recognize my fears and to let go of them while I altered my core beliefs. I don't think of myself as having faith, per say, but as being able to believe that I am safe and secure. This is tied to a belief in my wholeness - a wholeness that cannot be taken apart or destroyed - a wholeness that is safe and secure. Maybe this is a form of faith - and my not using the word is semantics....I deepen this trust through my daily Vipassana meditation and through on-going practice of repeatedly letting go and surrendering on a moment by moment basis.

 

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Past and Future: Two Streams of the Soul, by Rudolf Steiner

FaceBook  On May 14, 2012 Veena Vasista wrote:

I am a social activist who has had a lifetime struggle with anxiety. This struggle is now coming to an end, thankfully. iJourney asks two big questions here - how to break the molds of the past and experience the uncertainty of the future without anxiety. What to say in a short space about these two subjects? I’m going to focus on anxiety, fear and uncertainty. In recent years, I’ve dug deeply into my own experiences of anxiety. I’ve done this through intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual work. I have found that a key gateway to being able to live peacefully with the uncertainty intrinsic to life is to believe in my on intrinsic state of wholeness. That is, I now believe that when it comes right down to it, I lack nothing fundamental.   Rudolph Steiner seems to be saying that we undermine ourselves by because we respond to uncertainty with fear.  I’ve come to think that a key cause of anxiety is fear tied specifically to lack and loss. That is, we fear we will lose something we currently have and/ or that we will never get something we want. The anxiety I’ve experienced in life has often be triggered by having a decision about something, e.g., do I take a job or don’t I. I could easily weave a narrative about which and decisions have made me anxious, focusing on the details of the choice at hand and aspects of fear tied to lack and loss in relation to material  and mundane aspects of life. However, that would be a superficial perspective. When I look beneath the mundane details of any of the times I’ve had serious anxiety, I see that somewhere in my sub-conscious I was equating my decisions to self-worth, love and acceptance. Uncertainty generated fear because I was carrying a belief that if I make X choice and Y happened then perhaps I would either (a) not get love or (b) lose the love I have. When I say love I don’t mean romantic love and I don’t mean love from a particular pers  See full.

I am a social activist who has had a lifetime struggle with anxiety. This struggle is now coming to an end, thankfully. iJourney asks two big questions here - how to break the molds of the past and experience the uncertainty of the future without anxiety. What to say in a short space about these two subjects? I’m going to focus on anxiety, fear and uncertainty.

In recent years, I’ve dug deeply into my own experiences of anxiety. I’ve done this through intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual work. I have found that a key gateway to being able to live peacefully with the uncertainty intrinsic to life is to believe in my on intrinsic state of wholeness. That is, I now believe that when it comes right down to it, I lack nothing fundamental.  

Rudolph Steiner seems to be saying that we undermine ourselves by because we respond to uncertainty with fear.  I’ve come to think that a key cause of anxiety is fear tied specifically to lack and loss. That is, we fear we will lose something we currently have and/ or that we will never get something we want. The anxiety I’ve experienced in life has often be triggered by having a decision about something, e.g., do I take a job or don’t I. I could easily weave a narrative about which and decisions have made me anxious, focusing on the details of the choice at hand and aspects of fear tied to lack and loss in relation to material  and mundane aspects of life.

However, that would be a superficial perspective. When I look beneath the mundane details of any of the times I’ve had serious anxiety, I see that somewhere in my sub-conscious I was equating my decisions to self-worth, love and acceptance. Uncertainty generated fear because I was carrying a belief that if I make X choice and Y happened then perhaps I would either (a) not get love or (b) lose the love I have. When I say love I don’t mean romantic love and I don’t mean love from a particular person. Perhaps, the better way to put it is that I would be unloveable if I got the decision wrong – I would be lacking something that would in turn pull love away from me or prevent me from getting it in the future. It would also pull life (not literally) away from me. That is, in some instances, I think my sub-conscious was processing decision-making as a matter of life and death – not physical death, but death of my spirit. If I got the decision wrong, my spirit would be suffocated.

What I have done to be able to live with uncertainty is to let go of the belief that effectively says love is conditional and that unless I conditions right, I will not only be unloved but I will be unsafe, unprotected. I let go of this belief and replaced it with the belief that not only does unconditional love exist, but that I embody it – it is me, I am it. I am love. In this way, I am whole and I am safe. In this I am certain. And this sense of certainty that I now carry within me allows me to move through the world and embrace the uncertainties of life. It enables me to separate out events and happenings around me from my sense of self-worth, value and from my capacity to be loveable, spirited and alive.

A number of years ago, I had the epiphany that life is like swimming in water. We can choose to flail about and struggle in it or we can surrender to it, trust that it is holding us and not trying to pull us down. What Rudolph Steiner is describing as humbleness, I think of as a state of surrender.  Recently, I was swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I experienced for the first time what it is to float in the ocean without fear – to let the water hold and support me, to trust the water.

To experience the uncertainty of the future without fear and anxiety, is to surrender to the belief that I am unconditionally whole, and with that unconditionally loved.

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Is the Universe Friendly?, by Albert Einstein

FaceBook  On May 8, 2012 Veena Vasista wrote:

I really valued ijourney's take on this Einstein piece - the first steer given in the seed questions for reflection, because this is  the aspect of what Einstein is saying here that resonates with me the most: what we believe directs our behaviors, actions, creations. In my own work, I've grappled with the question 'What are my beliefs about human nature? After a long, challenging journey of about twenty years of conscious inquiry, I've landed with the belief that essentially says: the human spirit is intrinsically compassionate, collaborative and creative (I recently wrote about this: Our Direction is our Destination). Directed by this belief, I try to seek out and nourish the spirit in myself and in everyone around me. This belief is now a core component not just of my social change professional work, but of how I try to interact with people generally.  With the question 'Is the Universe Friendly?',  the prompt for us to become aware of our fundamental beliefs, and the conclusion that 'God does not play dice with the universe', Einstein directs us to take responsibility for our creations. This idea front of mind, I cannot help but join up Einstein's conclusions with Gandhi's direction to 'Be the change you wish to see.' I'm increasingly getting the sense that we - social activists/changemakers - often let ourselves down by not digging deeply enough into our own beliefs and the corresponding behaviors and creations they are generating. At the risk of perhaps repeating what Einstein's wisdom sets out above, I am inclined to observe that we easily forget the reality that if we are moving through the world thinking the world/universe is unfriendly, out to get us or simply doesn't care one way or the other - we are really thinking that our fellow human beings are unfriendly or uncaring. Believing this, we become defensive, afraid and aggressive. Driving change from this position - a posit  See full.

I really valued ijourney's take on this Einstein piece - the first steer given in the seed questions for reflection, because this is  the aspect of what Einstein is saying here that resonates with me the most: what we believe directs our behaviors, actions, creations. In my own work, I've grappled with the question 'What are my beliefs about human nature? After a long, challenging journey of about twenty years of conscious inquiry, I've landed with the belief that essentially says: the human spirit is intrinsically compassionate, collaborative and creative (I recently wrote about this: Our Direction is our Destination). Directed by this belief, I try to seek out and nourish the spirit in myself and in everyone around me. This belief is now a core component not just of my social change professional work, but of how I try to interact with people generally. 

With the question 'Is the Universe Friendly?',  the prompt for us to become aware of our fundamental beliefs, and the conclusion that 'God does not play dice with the universe', Einstein directs us to take responsibility for our creations. This idea front of mind, I cannot help but join up Einstein's conclusions with Gandhi's direction to 'Be the change you wish to see.' I'm increasingly getting the sense that we - social activists/changemakers - often let ourselves down by not digging deeply enough into our own beliefs and the corresponding behaviors and creations they are generating.

At the risk of perhaps repeating what Einstein's wisdom sets out above, I am inclined to observe that we easily forget the reality that if we are moving through the world thinking the world/universe is unfriendly, out to get us or simply doesn't care one way or the other - we are really thinking that our fellow human beings are unfriendly or uncaring. Believing this, we become defensive, afraid and aggressive. Driving change from this position - a position of fear, insecurity, doubt - takes us in circles - creates revolutions take us back to where we started. This is, after all, the danger of revolution - implicit in the word itself - which can refer to 'a turn that takes you back to its starting point.'  

I would like us - social activists - to give more time, space, energy over to checking in with our beliefs - what they are and if/how they align with our actions and our visions for the world. Social activists are no different than anyone else - that is, we all harbor beliefs that aren't always serving us and others well. What does serve us well is to do the work that brings those beliefs into consciousness. Einstein and Gandhi both call out to us to be more self-aware and with that awareness take greater responsibility for our creations - which, speaking of coming full circle, also brings us back to last week's ijourney post: Response vs. Reaction. 


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Response Vs. Reaction, by Adyashanti

FaceBook  On May 1, 2012 Veena Vasista wrote:

I recently did the Hoffman Process - a very intense retreat/workshop in which we worked deeply with connecting up mind, body, spirit and emotions in a healthy, empowering way. One of the many insights I took away from the Process was the important distinction between reaction and response. What follows in this comment is some of the thinking I've recently been doing on reaction vs response. Too often, we allow our movement to be directed by our reactions to the world around us - and this is a passive existence. We can, as an alternative, choose to be guided by our responses to the world around us - and this is an active existence. A definition of ‘reaction’ is: an equal or opposite force exerted by against a force acting upon it. In other words, when we are reacting, we are expressing opposition to what has been said or done. This opposition is usually driven by unchecked emotion. For example, one morning when I was talking with my dad and he said what he said, I could feel the emotion rise from my gut up through my chest and into the tears that started to well up in my eyes. If I had said anything at that moment, it would have be a reaction - driven by the intense emotion of his words. Perhaps, I might have even been reacting less to the content of what he is saying and more to the tone of it. Also, I was likely to have been reacting to/opposing a set of stories I attached to his words and tone - a whole narrative full of assumptions and judgments tied to age-old wounds. In reacting, I would not have considered why I was saying/doing what I was saying/doing. Thankfully, that morning, I did not let my reaction direct me. I experienced it quietly and then chose to respond to my father.  In seeking a definition of ‘response’ on-line, I generally found it to be considered synonymous with reaction. Not helpful for my purposes - but then I went to etymology and was directed to the word ‘responsible’ which is said to mean &l  See full.

I recently did the Hoffman Process - a very intense retreat/workshop in which we worked deeply with connecting up mind, body, spirit and emotions in a healthy, empowering way. One of the many insights I took away from the Process was the important distinction between reaction and response. What follows in this comment is some of the thinking I've recently been doing on reaction vs response.

Too often, we allow our movement to be directed by our reactions to the world around us - and this is a passive existence. We can, as an alternative, choose to be guided by our responses to the world around us - and this is an active existence.

A definition of ‘reaction’ is: an equal or opposite force exerted by against a force acting upon it. In other words, when we are reacting, we are expressing opposition to what has been said or done. This opposition is usually driven by unchecked emotion. For example, one morning when I was talking with my dad and he said what he said, I could feel the emotion rise from my gut up through my chest and into the tears that started to well up in my eyes. If I had said anything at that moment, it would have be a reaction - driven by the intense emotion of his words. Perhaps, I might have even been reacting less to the content of what he is saying and more to the tone of it. Also, I was likely to have been reacting to/opposing a set of stories I attached to his words and tone - a whole narrative full of assumptions and judgments tied to age-old wounds.

In reacting, I would not have considered why I was saying/doing what I was saying/doing. Thankfully, that morning, I did not let my reaction direct me. I experienced it quietly and then chose to respond to my father.  In seeking a definition of ‘response’ on-line, I generally found it to be considered synonymous with reaction. Not helpful for my purposes - but then I went to etymology and was directed to the word ‘responsible’ which is said to mean ‘morally accountable for one’s actions’ and is linked to a latin root which links to a sense of obligation.

For me, this gives us the difference between reaction and response. When we choose to respond - rather than react - we are choosing to pause, check in with how we are feeling, think about why we are feeling what we are feeling and consider what words or actions can flow from our feelings. We do so with an an awareness of our moral compass - of our sense of what would serve ourselves and others well, under the circumstances. We wonder how we can be creative and compassionate. Ideally, our responses are rooted in love.

In my own life, I have no doubt of the benefits that will arise from becoming more responsive and less reactive. In being responsive, I will act with greater integrity - speak and do with an intent to love and serve without hidden agendas linked subconsciously to the hurts, aches, wounds inside me. This brings me to a very important dimension to all of this: our reactions are generally led by fear, sadness, anger, frustration etc, without the necessarily balancing guidance of compassion, wisdom and creativity.

I see journey from reaction to response as akin to the hearing the call of the awakened warrior who is in service to peace and joy. I’m in a situation right now where I would greatly benefit from from being responsive rather than reactive. Or perhaps I can put it more accurately - I would benefit by taking responsibility for my thinking, words and deeds. Fundamentally, that’s what this is all about - being responsible for how we move through the world. It’s a choice.
 

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