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Recently I talked with a friend, who had called me up in tears. “Why do some people behave so nasty?” she asked after she had told me her heart breaking story. Haven’t you asked the same question sometimes? Why do we ruin our environment, why do some commit acts of crime, why do we betray…There is a long list of why’s in the universe and the answer remains the same. Of course I don’t want to simplify and generalize as I know too many facets of the human psyche to claim it’s just this one thing.

But, when I dive to a far deeper level, I have seen this over and over again:

When the heart is closed at the core, then love is limited and intelligence too. When the heart is open all the way you experience love, truth is felt and alive, you are in touch with others, you think in ways that are actually brilliant. Why? Because this very life that moves the ocean is flowing freely and unencumbered through you. To the degree you are open is the degree you truly know and truly live. And nobody needs to tell you then that certain actions cause harm and suffering, because you can feel in your heart what is benevolent and what is not. In the spiritual and so human heart is an innate intelligence breathing in your chest that is far greater than our little minds can ever comprehend.

But to the degree we shut down, often because we don’t want to experience pain and want to be safe emotionally, we become unkind to others, we get numb and don’t care, we cut ourselves off from what is even common sense. Honestly, how smart is it to pollute a river and then sell bottled water, then throw the bottles in the ocean and then the plastic ends up in your body and ruins your health? How intelligent is it when we shout at our partner and the world in the hopes we will be heard? It’s like our brains don’t work right anymore. We become rather stupid in the real sense.

So instead I suggest, labor a little and open up all the way to live that intelligence and love beating in your very own heart right now. You won’t regret, but you will feel life guiding you every step- through the inevitable pains and glorious joys- into what forever remains at peace, even when all else falls apart.

 

 

Spirituality, like everything else, can be used as an escape from life, each other and ourselves. From the world with all the beauty and horror. From the pain that aches in the heart, deep down. From the joy knocking at your door, unexpectedly. From the consequences of our actions and those pesky relationship troubles.

Spirituality actually calls and leads into life, as it is. Inviting us to show up, here in full for the whole enchilada- real, heartbroken sometimes, getting our hands dirty, navigating both difficulties and glorious moments with presence and wholeheartedness- and letting love live us no matter what. That is what embodied spirituality is all about.

I understand the need to escape, especially when s*** hits the fan and the fire is on. It’s ok and so very human to want to run, to hide, or to rise above to get away. Then it helps to remember why you have come. What beats in your heart that’s bigger than the fear. What holds you right now – the earth, God/Goddess, the dharma or the hand of your friend. And maybe, just maybe turn around and walk right toward what is calling out your name since forever long.

Spirituality can remain a lofty concept with high ideals, easy to talk about whilst sipping a cup of tea, but useless in the midst of life. What happens when you are under pressure and the mind turns the stress button on, how do you stop to breathe and show up present then? Or when your friend lets you down, do you react and contract or do you move toward openness and speak without blame? What about picking up the trash to embody your care and love for the earth? And that pain aching in the chest, will you turn to it with your kind attentiveness? You get the gist, I am sure of it.

Be wary of those who sell the fancy and expensive maps for the path, the three keys to ultimate happiness and such. Those folks simply made pretty pictures, while flying with a helicopter across the landscape. But only a teacher, who has walked the path on the ground, who knows what it is like to cross a river with crocodiles, can guide you safely across. Only a person, who has walked through the ups and downs in life with presence and love, can guide you to the other side.

It is easy to talk the talk, but only if you walk it through the muck and beauty in life, are you embodying love and spirituality for real. Then the flame of truth just shines forth. Leave the concepts friend, turn to yourself with honesty and find those who are masters of their craft. Learn to bake the bread for real. And soon you will feed the starving crowd and help others on the path as well.

 

How do we stand in unshakeable presence and act courageously in a time of upheaval in our world? I love to share a true story to support and inspire you.

The wildfire was spreading faster than we could run. When I came to the open field with five freaked out cats in my car, helicopters circled high in the sky, like tiny flies within a massive red orange globe of fire surrounding us. Amidst smoke, panicked people, bleating and whinnying of scared animals, I searched for my daughter, and saw that our white mare and Little Buddha, our donkey, were tied up to a tree, but where was our other horse? Yemaya cried: “Mama, Magic ran away.” I looked into the distance and saw him running around the airport at record speed, with his long golden mane flying behind him, he looked gorgeous I admit. Fire trucks arrived, honking, people shouted orders through the microphone. One was for me:”Get that horse off the runway, the helicopter needs to land. Now!” Great, he had no idea what it meant to deal with a hot-blooded Arab stallion, who was spooked out of his mind and bolted at every movement he saw and heard. I could never catch up to him. What to do? Time was of the essence; they would shoot, if I would not get him now.

With lives at stake, disappearing into fear was not the way. Instead, I rooted deeply into the earth and expanded into a larger field of awareness and peace, connecting with him through my heart. I sent a clear message across the ethers: “Magic, stop”. 

As if lightening struck, he stopped in his tracks and stood perfectly still, calmly gazing at me from afar. Whilst I stayed in attunement, we walked silently toward each other, unperturbed by the noise and frantic action around us. When we finally met, he lowered his head; I stroked his sweat- drenched neck and quietly guided him into a trailer, which usually he would not enter without a fuss. I sighed in relief, everyone was saved and off to the emergency shelters. A week later I drove through the ashes covering the mountain range and upon arriving I discovered: the fire had made a circle around our land and home! I burst in joy and gratitude.

We had been guided by a greater power, we helped each other and by being present and connecting with heart – this had made the difference in real life action for all of us. And that is what we need in tumultuous times such as these, so we can rise courageously to lead the way through the fires in our lives and in the world right now.

Wishing you courage and strenght,
Nicola

www.nicolaamadora.com

We want it badly, but rarely do we admit our secret, ravenous hunger. You can see this thirsting for the real thing in the eyes of colleagues, a neighbor, the mailman and maybe in your own. You know the ache for unconditional love? Most folks try hard to find it somewhere, no one knows where. A lot of fingers point to the moon.

Maybe we get it with the perfect partner, through fame, sex, fortune or by improving ourselves? One eye is secretly on the look out for this love we are supposed to have, but which seems to be lacking in spades around the world. People talk about it, dream and watch Hollywood movies- at least they have happy endings. And the song “All you need is love” keeps chasing you on the merry go round.

Ok, let’s admit it- you, I and everyone else wants to be truly seen, heard, met and accepted as we are. It feels so satisfying, sane and good. When you hold hands with a beloved, feeling connected and accepted, you are filled with delicious warmth. Or, what you share is received by a friend, who just understands and doesn’t try to fix you. Do you remember, when you woke with exuberant joy, ready to discover what wonders the day may hold?

Of course you want more of this love, much more.

Yet, life also dishes out a different experience. Your boss just dismissed your input; your partner doesn’t listen after a long day of work… You get mad, silently or out loud, when your words aren’t heard. It bugs you, when you feel disrespected. You know this sad moment, when you aren’t seen and the world doesn’t recognize your gifts. When another gives a crumb about you and betrays you ruthlessly too. And you yourself might feel afraid to carry your heart on the sleeve in a world such as this, and therefore don’t speak what makes you feel vulnerable and so alive. Out of fear to be rejected you don’t risk to love beyond your comfort zone and keep yourself seemingly safe.

Maybe you have thrown in the towel, as the hunt for love has turned out too disappointing and who has time for this soft stuff anyway? You may have gotten hurt many a time and shut the door to your heart, which once knew love- for good. The cost? You live in isolation, numbness and quiet despair. No relationship can flourish here, but the ache inside just won’t leave you alone at night. It is calling you home.

And this flicker of hope keeps perking up.

If only you would be prettier, smarter, and righter, in short- more and better than you are -love might just show up and camp out in your house forever. So, you keep working on yourself to be worthy and good enough. Maybe a diet or more money will do? In the attempt to be loved, you may revert to pleasing others, and then you resent them for not returning the favor. You may do your best in loving your child, but fall short by loosing your temper, when you have to clean up the mess on the floor for the fifth time in one day. You struggle to give and receive a little of life’s elixir. Exhausting, really.

You are not the only one; most people experience this in one way or another. The good news is: You got this love already. It lives within your heart, hidden beneath the layers of conditioning and protection armor. Remember how you felt, when you held your new born baby in your arms, when you tasted your first loving kiss, or helped out someone? There are many moments you have touched and been touched by love.

How then do we discover more of this sought after treasure among the maze of delusions and cultivate the soil for unconditional love to grow in our lives and relationships?

These 5 Magic Keys open the Door to experience real love and be able to connect from authenticity, presence and wholeheartedness with your mate, a friend, your child, yourself and people you meet in life.

Presence:

We have heard it: the present is the gift. Without being present, no love is possible, as no one is home. Practice awareness, notice what you feel, observe your thoughts, and sense your body in this moment. Let yourself focus on the now, what you are experiencing and what is happening with another exactly in this moment. You may just notice a bigger space in which you are held, supported and can relax into simply being here. A daily mindfulness and meditation practice really helps to show up with our gift.

Curiosity:

Have you noticed how struggling against the stream gets you nowhere? How judging, analyzing, trying to figuring it all out just tangles you into a tight knot and leaves you anxious? Apply curiosity, it cuts through fear quite nicely and opens the heart and mind. Inquiry questions can free you: “I wonder how this situation will unfold? I am curious to discover the world of my partner. What am I feeling? How might we resolve this issue together?” A child experiences natural wonder and love, because they are innocently curious to discover life.

 Acknowledgment:

We can only start where we are. When you feel stressed, disconnected, guarded and don’t feel loving at all, then admit that honestly to yourself without judgment. Accept what is here, even if you do not like it and let yourself soften. Notice what happens when you welcome the feelings (yes, even the pain or anger) without rejecting, resisting and clinging. Don’t act out your crabbiness, nor suppress your feelings. Give it all room and breath to be here. First then can you shift and move toward more openness.

 Heart fullness:

Place your hand on your heart and breathe several times deeply into this area. Then bring your attention toward appreciating something, like the food you eat, the flowers in your garden, the smile from your child…let it be simple. Connect with what is good in the other and in yourself. Allow and feel the sense of warmth emerging. Revel in this one taste and let it fill you. Then pass it forward by sharing an appreciation with someone. Watch what happens.

Words of love:

These are simple, yet powerful words you can apply to yourself and others. Make sure you mean and feel it, when you express them:

“I am here with you. I hear you. I see you. I care about you. I appreciate you. “ Dare to offer what most people are longing for; believe me, very drop matters in desert land.

Yes, it takes a whole lot of courage to shed the armor and show up for real, but it is fulfilling to choose to live with more love. A whole world opens up, when we step in that direction and you may discover love in the places least expected: with a stranger on the street, when you relish warm sunlight touching your face; in the moment when you are present with a hurting friend; or when you untether from the fears and should not’s and let love move you, as if it is your last day on earth.

Live it, for the world, you and everyone is aching for this. Lo and behold, soon enough, more and more, you find that you are the one who really sees, hears, accepts and can meet anything that life brings. For you stand in love- together with many of us. Welcome home!

Nicola Amadora PhD. supports people to live, lead and relate with presence, connection and wholeheartedness to make a difference in the world. She is a psychologist, mindfulness teacher, relationship & leadership educator, speaker and writer. You can connect with her at: www.nicolaamadora.com

copyright N.Amadora

 

 

 

Love. What a word. There are so many people -you included- who have been and are living Love in the best way we know how. The ancient teaching of loving kindness from the Buddha, which the Dalai Lama walks today continues on in an unbroken lineage. “Love your neighbor as yourself” the message from Christ is still standing strong after 2017 years. Ammachi has meanwhile embraced 45 million people from all over the world. Such an immense power it is, flowing through all cultures, rich or poor, educated or not, old or young, among the animals, through flowers, the ocean, as an endless stream.

There is Hollywood with all the romantic films promoting the ‘happily ever after’ relationships, that are being chased as a way to ultimate happiness. Or this intense striving for great success and the mountain of money, as proof that you are finally loved, worthy and good enough. The millions of messages we have received about what love supposedly is are endless and can lead into a maze of delusion filled with suffering. And the song “All you need is love” keeps going round…

What actually arises in you as you read this word: Love? What do YOU experience, when you feel into what Love is, beyond any preconceived ideas, beliefs and opinions? What happens, when you allow yourself to drop some defenses (yes, we all have them), follow your yearning and open deeper into your precious heart? What discovery might await here? How might Love move you to act right now in our world as it is?

We have buried this jewel for so long, in many complicated ways. Yet, we all have the capacity to remember what is true. Sometimes it emerges in moments, when our heart is touched- maybe by a loving embrace, by a beautiful sunrise, by a genuine caring touch, when we are giving someone a hand or offer a gift without expecting a return, when a kind word is spoken, when we touch the sacred that is immanent in all of life. Here love is, so simple.

It’s just that at times we have veils before our eyes, are lost in the mind, might want to force love, or block the stream with all sorts of stuff from our vast personal collection. We might close off to love altogether, because we got hurt at some point, when being open and vulnerable -so love appears as dangerous, something to be avoided and controlled. For some, love is just a feeling or a state to be reached through the next “bliss” event. Most go bargain shopping to somehow get more from somewhere or somebody- nobody knows where. As soon as you think you’ve got a taste securely in your pocket- puff it is gone. It cannot be contained, for the mystery is far too great to be held in a box. There is a lot of searching for love and a lot of fingers pointing in many directions. Easy, to get lost in that.

I invite you to let yourself notice all the places where love shows up for you, to open a little more to all the ways it is present, to be aware of the stream flowing through you, even in the very fact that you are breathing, to drop concepts, heal some pain and let love touch, fill and move you.

I encourage you to dare to act on the love that is in your heart- without conditions. Undefended. For love to be real it needs to be lived, no matter how imperfect it might look. THANK YOU for every loving act and step you have ever done. Every seemingly little bit of true love matters. It ripples further than any of us might see and has a greater impact than you might realize. Just like the drops of water are finally causing the dam to break- and by that the river of life is flowing free again.

May you trust the true flame in you, let it shine through the mess and beauty of this world. May you feel and know that you are embraced and loved by life, just as you are, no matter what happens on your path. May your hands bring forth love, as an offering for all. YOU ARE IT. Blessings and strawberries, Nicola

 Do you remember a time in your life, when confronted with a challenging situation that you could not change and no matter how much you wished to escape – there just was no exit door to be found? You may have wondered what this all about, where love is and what to do now? We are in such a situation globally and many face it personally.

Maria our angel Two months ago, I was stuck in the mountains on a side road. Landslides made it impossible to drive further, nor could I go back as a huge tree had fallen. I parked behind a long line of stuck cars and decided to take a walk, where I met people gathered together, laughing and talking. Cell phones didn’t work, we did not know, if we ever would get out to drive on. But the contractor, a sweet school girl, the Google tech guy, a grandma, others and I made wonderful connections. After several hours my belly though was loudly growling. Suddenly, a voice from a car called out to us: “Anyone hungry? I have plenty of vegetarian burritos to share!” Maria, a Spanish angel from heaven with the biggest smile I have ever seen, had made them to sell for a restaurant, but wouldn’t get there in time to deliver. So she fed a whole crowd for free.
What a gift- Love in action.

 Thinking and talking ‘about’ spirituality is easy. It takes way more to actually live it in the streets of the world, in our homes, with each other, right here in the muck and beauty of life. Offering genuine compassion for what is hurt, standing up for what matters, caring with an open heart, living with integrity even when it is uncomfortable, resolving a conflict face to face, being present with your upset child, daring to take action in benefit to all of life, getting our hands dirty and our heart bruised as we love – this speaks of strength, our awareness, and dedication to make a difference even in the most hopeless situations.

 Spirituality has nothing to do with hiding out in pink clouds or in elaborate concepts, nor is it about making our life perfect, or shrinking from the tough stuff and being blissfully self involved. It is simply calling us to return to the well within, and to show up present, connected, and wholeheartedly in life to meet what is here in this moment, as it is. To listen to the deep knowing in our hearts so we can act wisely, fresh each moment from love- even if it feels vulnerable, imperfect, or if our labor adds only a drop in the bucket (that burrito certainly made a big difference, and it was good too:)) I believe that right now, more than ever we need people who dare to connect and live the light in the midst of turmoil, as the fruits of our actions will leave a trail of hope for generations to come.

 I remember standing in one of the concentration camps in Germany and asked: How could this happen? In that time, people were silenced, shot. They were scared, felt powerless, others were in denial and frozen in
shock. It was much later – sadly after it happened- that people woke up and vowed to never let it happen again. We organized ourselves, got educated and engaged so no person or government could ever take over again. We healed the deep wounds together and created a new society that now is thriving. We are at the brink with our environment, in turmoil in many countries such as the Congo and even America. This is the time when it is up to all of us to turn the ship.

 But, it means that we face the situation, to look with open eyes and don’t turn away. That we feel our feelings all the way- then the anger turns to passion, the pain to love and breathing into fear frees the energy to move into powerful action. It implies, that we let the breath, our heart and presence be the anchor, and unite with others. Dwell in stillness, from here speak up. Connect first and then take one step in the right direction – every day. I feel inspired by all of you who stand with us together on the front lines – for the earth, for those most vulnerable, for higher values and for each other.

Hey, what do we tell our children when they ask: “What did you live to make a difference?” What would you like to tell them? Thank you for daring to live that, step by step, breath by breath, hand in hand and heart to heart. This, I believe can turn even the most impossible and challenging situations into an opportunity for outrageous brilliance and genuine love. We might just find a way through, one we never imagined possible. 

Wishing you strength, courage and much joy, Nicola

If you like a hand: www.nicolaamadora.com

Here are my free, essential power practices for everyday on video to support you on this journey:
Facing Challenges and
Power of Connecting

I am delighted to share my new Meditation CD with you. Order CD and individual tracks on Amazon or iTunes. Or download for Iphone and computer here: Meditations for Life

She showed me her long list of expectations, excitedly telling me all the details about how her next partner should be like. It sounded to me like the advertisement ad for the ‘oh so perfect’ man, except I have never met anyone who fit the entire bill. Have you? Several years later she was still on her own, and dates were far and in between. Expecting perfection is the perfect recipe to become isolated.

Recently, a man walked into my office. His girlfriend had broken up with him. The reason? She couldn’t take his constant critism anymore. In his sobering state of heart-brokenness, he did realize that he had been nagging at her incessantly. He said: “I threw daggers at her. I wanted her to fit my model of perfection- so I could feel better about myself. I was controlling, afraid of real intimacy. It was so selfish, and we both were unhappy.” It’s true, a flower won’t blossom when we pick all the leaves off, or worse- when we step on her repeatedly, or expect from a flower to bloom all year long in the perfect color and with just right fragrance for us. It might work with a plastic flower. But none of us are Barbie-dolls or heroes from the movies.

In our western culture people often expect perfection from each other and themselves. We don’t want to see death, sickness, old age. Or a pouch belly, wrinkles, or the raw vulnerability of simply being human. The tears of sorrow, the moments of weakness, and our loveable unique oddness we tend to hide. Or we go to the next improvement club. It’s called a lack of acceptance for what we deem as imperfect, but what is part of life. How would it be if we apply some good doses of acceptance toward ourselves and our partners, children and friends? We certainly will experience more joy and love with each other. How do we apply the magic balm?

For a start, if you have one of those ‘manifest your perfect mate’ lists, erase some items. And add: “I am welcoming a true human being into my arms.’ Of course, you don’t want to put up with addictions, destructive behaviors. But you can include that your prospective mate may have a grouchy or sad day. Or that she may be older than you expect. Or?

~ Appreciate the good and unique qualities the other already person has. Including your own.

~ Practice including human weakness, shortcomings or so called imperfections with a smile and twinkle.

~ Focus on and enjoy what is already perfect in this moment. It might be simply the softness of kissing each other. Or the laughter of your child. Warmth shared with a friend. A caring cashier at the check out counter. Pay attention to these precious moments.

Practice that, and I assure you that you will experience the perfection of being in love each moment. That’s what turns the light on in you. In that moment your mate, your child, others in your life will feel far more accepted by you. And then they will more likely meet you to share and enjoy love together!

“For such a time as this we were born!”

People are waking up and many heed the call to turn the ship for all of us. In a time of turmoil in our world, when things fall apart, or we feel shocked about outcomes we did not anticipate, we may ask: “How did this happen? What can be trusted in life? And what can I do?”

Recently, I met a lovely woman who was very upset when she spoke:” What can I trust, when the worst people take over and ruin it for the rest of us…When the most vulnerable suffer the consequences of actions taken by those who don’t seem to care? And what can I do to stop the destruction toward nature? I feel hopeless, overwhelmed, sad and angry too. It makes no sense. And by the way, where the heck is Buddha, Allah, Spirit, the Goddess or God in this?” I too have tasted this despair. Such questions and feelings often arise, when we are confronted with injustice, betrayal, cruelty or insanity, whether in our personal life or on a global scale.

In such a time as this, it is more important than ever to remember who we are and act from that. Deeper than all appearances is a river of benevolence, the flame of compassion, of love and wisdom in us – that, which causes us to care, to evolve, and engage in a present, connected and wholehearted way in life. I experience this benevolence in trees, animals, and in people, even if it’s covered up or we feel disconnected – it is always here. This power and intelligence is far greater than any circumstances we face. In this we can root, trust in and act from – for it is the truth at the core of life. It continues to flow throughout the ages, it shows up through the hands and feet of those who dare to love no matter what, and it is revealed when we se with innocent eyes. This innate goodness is beating in your own heart right now. This river beyond time and space, yet so intimate and near, is what connects us all right now.

And here we are held and loved, even if the world as we know it falls apart. Take solace and refuge in that, for it helps us to show up, to stand strong in our vulnerability, and it can guide us wisely through turmultous times. This benevolence is accessible when we pause and connect, when we ask and listen before we act: “What action is of greatest benefit for all?” We often don’t know. But taking a moment to lean into silence and listening with openness to the deeper intelligence that connects us with all of life, we will know how to sail the ship even through the biggest storm. And in that moment – by turning toward truth and taking fierce, loving action – you are the Buddha, God, a wise one,…who makes a positive difference for others too.

When I lived with Thich Nhat Hahn in Plum Village in France, he told me a story:

“Vietnamese people were escaping the war with little boats across the sea. But in the ocean, the pirates were just waiting for their victims- to plunder, to kill, to enslave or rape each one of them. One monk was rowing the boat with a group of women and children, when pirates showed up. He asked himself: “What is the most compassionate way in this situation? Should he let the pirates take the women and children, therefore be true to his vow of non- killing? Or should he try to protect them somehow with his bodily strength; or simply pray, but be thrown overboard? His answer had to come fast for he had only little time.

In stillness, clear guidance arose from his wise heart: If he could kill the pirate from a place of infinite compassion- meaning without hatred, anger, pain, projection, rejection, judgement, separation or violence- he would save the pirate from terrible karma, he would stop greater harm being done and protect many people and those most vulnerable. He trusted this would be the wisest action to take. And in case he was wrong, he vowed to take on all negative results from his actions. When the boss pirate jumped into his little boat to capture the women, the little monk chanted the great mantra of compassion – and swiftly killed the unsuspecting pirate with his machete- in one fierce stroke it was done.”

Now, I am not suggesting to take a machete to kill folks that are seemingly different than us, even if you might feel righteously mad about their behavior:)) But we can affirm our interconnectedness by remaining open to people’s humanity when we have to take action to prevent greater harm. Challenging situations invite us to respond wisely, rather than react from fear, anger or pain. We can practice to relax into stillness, take good care of your own mind, body and feelings, and ask ourselves: “What action or word is most helpful in my situation, in this relationship or in our world? What can I do to turn the ship?” From here respond to others and situations, even when you are triggered, freightened or the waves rise high.

Hey, and if you fall overboard, or your ship breaks into pieces – you are not alone, one of us is out there on the great sea to lift you up. If pirates come to claim your boat, have the guts to make a stand. And sometimes you just have to let loose, cry, howl, laugh, kick up your heels and dance. It helps. Let that light of yours shine strong, leave a blazing trail so others can see their way too. And may you trust the wisdom deep in your heart and act on that. Unabashed, courageously and – together with many of us. And know, even in the greatest turmoil you are always held in love.

Wishing you strength, courage and much joy as you sail in life. With Love, Nicola

Here is a gift for you or a friend on this path. I am delighted to share my new Meditation CD with you. Order CD at Amazon. Or download for iphone and computer here: Meditations for Life 
And what else is cooking in the kitchen? Marvelous events, retreats and training you might feel inspired to join! Visit www.nicolaamadora.com

Many of us are part of this inspiring movement…One that livelove spreads incredible acts of genuine love. Do you want to join or are you already in the gang? There is so much goodness in the world and in you too, it just isn’t always noticed or appreciated. Like the folks with whom I stood at the consulate in San Francisco to help end the slaughter of whale-breachingdolphins at the Cove, or the elderly clerk who asks people ‘how are you’ and really means it, or Jamie who left a note of appreciation every day for a worn out coworker, or my friend Claire who raised funds in her little store for 11 orphans in the Congo in one week, …

 

There are so many unsung heroes and heroines who, in a small or big way, ignite our hearts and create change. But, sometimes we can get down with the state of affairs in our world, when we see the darker side of humanity and love is just a word.

motherbabyRecently, I held a sweet 11 year old girl in my arms and stroked her soft, brown hair, while she wailed like a river that had been waiting to unleash and spoke what she had held back for far too long:” I just don’t understand, why do I have to learn about wars in school? Why do I have to remember the dates even, when all this suffering in the world just doesn’t make any sense? Why do we make slaves, and some white people think they are better than black? Don’t people understand that we are all humans? Don’t people understand that the earth belongs to all of us and the animals too to share? We should have lessons in school on how to create peace and learn compassion!”

connection4Have you asked these questions too, or still do? Well. She was in the midst of it and sobbing from the bottom of her heart. What she said though arose from her innocence. An innocence, which is not naïveté’, one which lives in each of us, but we forget or bury it inside. So often we disconnect from this pearl of truth, this simple, yet profound knowing in our hearts – when we feel hurt, when we feel alone and lost in a world too confusing to understand. Something closes down. And then, of course we act in ways that do not make sense. How do I tell her this?

hugs3-copyInstead, I simply held her, letting her know that I am here with her. That’s often what we need the most, when we face suffering too great to bear alone. No smart words or concepts are needed then. After the tears had subsided, I looked into her big brown eyes and said: “I get how much it hurts. And it is nonsense what we humans sometimes do, when our hearts are shut down, and when we forget what is true and what really matters in life. It’s infuriating, because you care, hm?” “Yes!” She burst out loud. “How about we share with your teacher or the school some of your brilliant ideas? I think they gotten stuck and need a bit of help…” She perked up, laughed, and was inspired to bring forth change. Just like that.

She simply needed to be heard, seen and met. And then she could move from tears, to love, and act.

nature2One way or another, we all experience suffering. There is no three key formula to end it in one shot (sorry, the marketing frenzy has gotten out of hand, if they told you that). But, there is a way to relate with what arises in you and in the world. You can turn toward the pain, the anger-whatever shows up-to feel fully, stay present and allow yourself to open. Truth shines forth through the cracks of our hearts, and if we follow curiously this pulse of aliveness, this natural intelligence, a way emerges, leading us into greater love, compassion and peace.

Moment by moment, choose to be present, lean into love and act from here- whether you meet challenges or joys. For, connected, we know how to act in sane ways and we become a beacon of light – one that lifts and illumines even the darkest place.

mt-shasta-group-retreatI know, summer is long gone, but I still remember the retreat I guided on Mt Shasta, and how beautiful people’s faces looked at the end. Like, veils had been lifted and connection, happiness and love just was naturally here. It actually always is. And it is calling in this very moment to turn toward what is alive in your heart and live it fully, come what may. Shine that light of yours into this world, for we need you here!

May you travel with courage, ease and grace, wherever you are on this wild and beautiful journey of life. With Love, Nicola

I entered a café yesterday. Dead silence. Has something happened? I looked around, the tables were occupied by people of different ages, each starred at a computer or phone screen. Not one engaged with another. The cluttering from the barista was a relief to hear, she turned on music to fill the deadness in the room. Did I just walk into a sci-fi film? Nope. This is the modern world I was told.

I went out for the evening in San Francisco and came upon one of the oldest cafes and bookstores. Pictures of people, the smell of old books, coffee and pastries engraved in the walls, I could feel the richness of life present in those rooms. People sipped tea and actually talked with each other. A couple snuggled on a worn couch, their kisses looked delicious and wild. Two students butted heads in a heated argument, sounded like politics to me. A grey haired woman was softly playing guitar and a gentleman in style and suite wrote his screen play. Aliveness, love, creativity was flowing naturally here.

It reminds me when I was on a boat to meet my whale friends. Beneath the clear blue sky we travelled not far, suddenly two humpbacks rose from the water only a few feet away. Life, in full splendor and glory. What a magnificent sight to behold, I was in awe and moved to tears by the sheer sacredness of it all. When a school of dolphins joined and played in utter joy in the waves around us, most people’s faces lifted into smiles and cheers (best facelift ever). Connected and open we experience happiness. We are in Love.

But, when we are in a state of separation from the spirit of life, our selves and each other we suffer. We might escape into the mind, disappear from our bodies and the earth, we feel discontented or depressed, negative, isolated, anxious, lost, closed down and overwhelmed. Our relationships get tangled into complicated knots and walls are built. Misery arrives in its many disguises and deadness can spread like a silent disease. We may try not to feel any pain or joy, nor hear the beckoning of soul, and fill desperately the gaping hole with endless substitutes. Computers come in handy, but they cannot give life or real connection.

What helps us to remember who we are, and open into the source of life? What supports us to be present and really connect with each other? What enables us to meet challenges with courage and celebrate life with gusto? What allows us to respond from love with all of our human vulnerability?

There are many ways that lead us home. A kind hand from a friend, waking into the preciousness of life in the blink of an eye, feeling the soft fur of your cat or dog, listening to the wisdom of our heart, practicing acceptance toward what we experience in this moment, reaching out to resolve a conflict into understanding, a good belly laugh, sobbing buckets when sad, seeing sunlight pierce through the clouds, putting your nose into a bouquet of flowers, sharing words and deeds from love…

It is my honor to offer a hand across the bridge for you, our relationships and leaders in this world. With a twinkle and a smile,
Nicola