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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 the 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 lightning 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 strength,
Nicola

www.nicolaamadora.com

We want it badly. But rarely do we admit our secret, ravenous hunger. You see this thirst for the ‘real’ in the eyes of colleagues, a neighbor, the mailman, and in your own. You know the ache for unconditional love. Most folks try hard to find it somewhere, but 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 becoming enlightened or improving ourselves? One eye is secretly on the lookout for this love we are supposed to have, but it seems to be lacking in spades around the world. People talk about it, dream and watch Hollywood movies – at least they have happy endings.

This song “All you need is love” keeps chasing us 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 feels vulnerable and so alive. Like a miser you keep love locked up inside a crusted heart. Out of fear to be rejected you don’t risk loving 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 too 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 a 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 losing your temper when you have to clean up the mess on the floor for the fifth time in one day. You struggle to give or to receive a little of life’s elixir. Exhausting, hm?

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 newborn baby in your arms and when you tasted your first loving kiss or helped out someone? There are many moments you have touched and been touched by love.

How 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. They help you to connect from authenticity, presence, and wholeheartedness with your mate, a friend, your child, yourself, and people you meet in life.

Presence:

You 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 at 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, and supported, and can relax into simply being here. Daily mindfulness and meditation practice really help to show up with our gift.

Curiosity:

Have you noticed how struggling against the stream gets you nowhere? How does judging, analyzing, and trying to figure it all out help you? It 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 step toward greater 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, or the smile from your child…let it be immediate, nothing big. 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 use for yourself and others. Make sure you mean and feel it when you express them, or else it’s fake:

“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 a vast desert land.

Yes, it takes courage to shed the armor and show up for real, but it is fulfilling to choose to live in love.

A whole world opens up when we step in that direction and 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 ‘shoulds’ to let love move you as if it is your last day on earth.

Live it! Boldly, shakingly and imperfectly. For the world, you and everyone are aching for this.

Lo and behold, soon enough, more and more, you find that you turn into the one who really sees, hears, accepts, and can meet anything that life dishes out.

For you stand in love together with many of us.

Welcome home where you belong!

 

Nicola Amadora Ph.D. guides people with a refreshingly real, embodied way of spirituality to live love, so we can make a difference in our lives, relationships, and this world. She works with folks all around the world for decades. Nicola is a psychologist, spiritual teacher, educator, speaker, and author. 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 thousands of 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- may be 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 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 is all about, where love is and what to do now? We are in such a situation globally and many face it personally.

 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 schoolgirl, 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 making 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 asking: How could this happen? During that time, people were silenced and shot. They were scared, felt powerless, and 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 on 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, 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 what 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 fits 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 for isolation.

Recently, a man walked into my office. His girlfriend had broken up with him. The reason? She couldn’t take his constant criticism anymore. In his sobering state of heartbrokenness, 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, and 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 a flower to bloom all year long in the perfect color and with just the 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, or old age. Or a pouch belly, wrinkles, or the raw vulnerability of simply being human. The tears of sorrow, the moments of weakness, and the 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, and 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. What else can you delete or rewrite on your list?

My suggestion is, instead of getting tied up in a knot of expectations only to be disappointed again and again, do these simple things:

 

~ 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 at 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 checkout 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. At that moment your mate, your child, and 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!

 

Copyright Nicola Amadora.

“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 vulnerable suffer the consequences of actions taken by those who don’t seem to care? And what can I do to stop the destruction of 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, love, and wisdom in us – that, which causes us to care, 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 are 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 see 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 tumultuous 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 at 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, kill, 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 a 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, judgment, 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 relaxing into stillness, taking good care of our 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, frightened 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

The train was crammed. I crouched together with the local Indian people, pigs, chickens and fleas on the floor for 2 days. There were no benches in 3rd class. I was just 18 years old, thirsty to discover what real spirituality meant, as I travelled on my own from Germany to Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. For many years I had wanted to work with Mother Teresa in the slums. I was very impressed with this remarkable woman, who started with a penny to serve the poorest of the poor, and dedicated her whole life uncompromisingly to God and humankind.
After my arrival in the city of Joy and Hell, I walked at 4am toward the nunnery. The sun was just rising over the city. What I saw shook me. Everywhere on the sides of the streets people lay sleeping only covered with ragged loincloths, some were washing themselves in muddy rain puddles. Many were skinny to the bones. Some were severely crippled. They had nothing.
As I walked into the nunnery my heart was pounding. I went up the stairs toward the prayer chapel and met a small woman. I asked her where I could find Mother Teresa. She held out her hands and I burst into tears. With a warm smile she simply said: “Welcome. It’s me. “Her obvious love, simplicity and purity touched me deeply. For several months I worked alongside the joyous nuns and Mother Teresa. Every day we went to the slums to offer food and medicine. I saw that even though these people had nothing, they shared their little bit of rice with each other. They were there for one another and had faith. The hunger and illnesses had left marks on their faces, yet their eyes shone with an inexplicable joy. Who really is poor I wondered? We in the West with our excessive wealth, isolation from each other and loss of soul–or they? We have a different kind of poverty that may be harder to heal though, than the one in India, where basic necessities make life possible.
A little 5 year-old girl in the orphanage, where I worked offered Mother Teresa her only toy to take to the children in the slums. I could see how precious this doll was to her and yet how happy she looked to be able to offer her gift. Mother Teresa did not want people to give from their abundance, what they did not need, or a left over. What matters, she always said, is how much love is put into the giving. That is where joy is found.
When I entered the house of the dying, I felt enveloped in a real sense of peace. The sisters tended so lovingly and respectfully to the ones close to death. They felt loved, may be for the first time in their lives. It was hard for me in the beginning to wash oozing wounds and to face all this suffering. How could the sisters bear to live and serve in the midst of the worst of human suffering? What was it that made them capable to do this work daily with such apparent love, joy and dedication? I remember, whilst praying beside Mother Teresa in her small chapel, when she said to me as if answering my unspoken question: “My lover is Christ and he is in everyone. In serving the poor we love, feed, wash, and clothe him. In giving love we are loved. Treat everyone like you would treat Christ.”
There was a handwritten paper pinned on the wall of the chapel, which read: “When I was homeless you opened your doors. When I was naked you gave me your coat. When I was in prison, you came to my cell. When I was lonely, you gave me your love. Searching for kindness you held out your hand. When I was happy, you shared your joy. “Every person, often the ones closest to us, is offering a gift–a chance to love.
This humble and strong woman had changed my life. Mother Teresa is more than a Christian saint. Her life of true compassion can speak to all of us with a profound and universal message: to simply act from love every moment of our lives.

Published article in Connection Magazine (2001)

May these true stories awaken in you what is wild, free and connected with all of life. I have had many incredible encounters with wild animals, like meeting a mountain lion and cub, having an anaconda snake around my neck, communicating with a bobcat, running with wild mustang horses and others. It is possible for all of us to communicate with the wild and to live in kinship with all of life. When you are in nature, are centered, silent in the mind, present in the body, with an open loving heart, the wild will talk to you–if you are willing to truly listen.

THE ANACONDA SNAKE AROUND MY NECK

I travel on my own deep into the Amazon jungle of Ecuador. I had not planned this trip at all, but was strongly drawn to find the ingenious people of the rainforest who still live in a natural way with the earth, so I could learn from them. In the poor village the roads end, I meet a river guide and within the hour I am on my way. A small boat takes me unto the wide river and we glide for hours upon the water, further and further into the jungle. Sounds, songs I have never heard before resound from all directions. The howler monkeys are laughing and in silence I almost hear these enormous plants growing. Eyes peer through the shadows of the leaves. The jungle is intensively alive, full of wonder and unknown. My skin though is prickling alive with mosquitoes, which find my sweet blood so very tasty. Sweat is pouring down my body. I feel the strong urge to put my head and arms into the water to cool off, but my river guide waves frantically: no, no, no. I look to where he points to: crocodiles are close bye and ready for a meal. I am not going to offer my hands up, no matter how much compassion I may have.

I am lucky, the river guide and his friend invite me to their tribe in the heart of the jungle, once I shared with him about my search and purpose. We talk little, only one of them speaks broken Spanish, so myself. They teach me less through words, but through the way they live, and how they relate with each other and nature. Once we are welcomed into the tribe, I am offered to live in a tiny hut made from leaves and I sleep on the bare earth. I become part of their community, prepare the meals with the women, learn about natural medicines from plants, which and how to use them, watch the men hunting. They need the meat for survival and always offer their prayers beforehand and offer gratitude to the animal that had given it’s life. All is done in deep respect toward nature. They are strong people and know how to live in harmony with the natural environment. It certainly isn’t comfortable, but a simple and connected life. Everything is so much slower here than the speed I am used to in the busy world where I come from.

One day, knowing that I would need to return soon into ‘civilization’, the one who speaks a little Spanish, motions me to follow him. He tells me, that the tribe wants to offer me a rite of initiation through the medicine man. Ok, I say. I do not know what they really mean by that. I walk with the men beneath these mighty trees and their endless thick roots, until we reach an opening, where the sun shines through. It is so hot and wet. They ask me to stand with closed eyes and begin chanting, songs I had never known, but the sound stirs something deep in me. Heavy barefoot steps come closer. The voice of the shaman tells me that this is a moment of life and death. If I succumb to fear I could die. Then he asks me, if I was ready. Well, I shrugged my shoulders, if I died here it would be alright (I didn’t have a child then) and there is little that scares me (except big hairy spiders, which I encountered plenty, even in my bed).

I would be fine really, or so I think. Sure, I motion to him, ready for anything.

From behind, he lands an enormous weight unto my shoulders, which sinks me unto my knees. He asks me to open my eyes. Shock jolts through me, Holy mother –it’s a humongous snake. A full grown anaconda snake at that. My shaman laughs through his brownish teeth and says she hasn’t eaten, if I freak out she would certainly strangle me to death and he would not be able to unloosen her. First I think he is making a bad joke at my expense, but then I realize rather fast what he speaks is true. Her head comes toward my face and she hisses with her flicking red tongue intensely. I am terrified out of my wits. To make matters worse, with focused motion she is moving in closer and closer toward her prey- my neck. Instinctively I put my hands there to protect myself. Naïve, for that would make no difference whatsoever.

Now what do you do, when you can’t stop your fear and it will certainly lead to what you fear the most? The only thing I can remember to do is to breathe and breathe again into my belly. Then into my feet and the ground. I breathe deeper, consciously relaxing in the midst of terror seems counter intuitive, but it is the only thing that works to calm my shaken nerves. I am not too fond of snakes, especially one as close to my skin as this, but I open my heart anyway to connect with this big, long and hungry snake. Sweat is dripping from my forehead. I can’t waste time on fear, indeed, this is a matter of life and death. I keep relaxing, opening and grounding. It’s working, slowly she drops her head lower and lower. When I am calm and centered she rests her head unto my belly, her body wrapping around mine. I stroke her slithering skin with a genuine sense of friendliness, and she closes her eyes. Getting used to her presence and weight I walk with her; all the while she rests on my shoulders and belly peacefully. What an awesome power this snake carries. The Anaconda Snake and I are many hours together, our connection is strong when I return her back into the wild. The medicine man smiles and nods, apparently I have passed my initiation well. The tribe has a feast that night under the stars. Something is deeply changed in me. I am not the same person who has come into the jungle, as when I leave. A greater power has awoken in me. It moves through all of us, like the snake, it is the energy of life. The power of creation itself is not to fear. I can only surrender to that and let it live me, all the way.

MEETING A WILD BOBCAT

I walk on a path through an open and wild area on the California coast with my 11-year-old daughter. She too has a deep connection with the animals. As we stroll along hand in hand, we see the high grass in the field moving and stop in silent mutual understanding, present, watching, sensing. Who is there? What is moving between the grass blades under the bright midday sun? Whoever it is clearly comes closer toward us; soon it is so near we can see the back of a large brown furred animal. As we watch, quiet with anticipation, out of the grass and onto the trail emerges a most beautiful, gracious bobcat. I motion to my daughter to slowly sit down. I too touch the ground and wait, as the cat leisurely strolls toward us.

She approaches, looking straight at us, and only an arm’s length away, she lays down before us. She isn’t injured or ill, but healthy, strong and at ease. I’m thrilled to meet this wild creature so intimately, but hold my excitement at bay, to not scare her off. She calmly looks at us, catlike; completely relaxed and alert, she stretches out, as if for a nap. A most beautiful, unusual friendship circle has formed between us. We give her our full attention and she communicates to us; telling us how to be at ease and walk through life with natural grace.

When our communion is complete, my daughter and I silently thank and bless her. The bobcat gives us one more look, as if to say good-bye in her own way, then gets up and strolls away. We wait a few moments watching her in awe, before we leave as well. I will never forget her face, the natural grace she exuded. What a way to walk through life like that.

FACE TO FACE WITH A MOUNTAIN LIONESS AND HER CUB

Our adventure that day isn’t over. After encountering the bobcat we meet two other wild cats: A little further down the trail we see a mountain lion mother with her young cub walking toward us on the path. At first I rub my eyes, it seems otherworldly what I am seeing. As I realize that I am not dreaming, I should feel fear and turn back, but my daughter and I keep walking forward hand in hand. We cannot stop or turn away, as if a greater force is magically pulling us toward the golden lioness and her cub, who are stately walking toward us.

Suddenly, at the same moment, the four of us stop. We are woken by surprise when we realize we are facing each other only from about thirty feet away. My daughter is mesmerized; so am I. At lightening speed I check with my body senses: Is there any danger from the mountain lion? I can sense none from this proud and magnificent animal, who is standing in open sunlight with golden shimmering fur. Her lean muscles vibrate with strength, ready to pounce if must be. But she relaxes in our presence. As if in silent knowing, she is recognizing me as a mother. Both of us are leading our young. She isn’t hungry apparently (well, that would be too late now anyway). We watch and feel each other out, we all just look at one another with an open curiosity. The meeting is profoundly intense, and surprisingly relaxed.

My daughter is at ease, so I suggest that she connects and communicates with the cub. The dignified lioness and I have a “mother to mother” talk. She teaches me much in these amazing minutes, where time stands still. She shows me what living from true power really is. My daughter seems to make friends with the cub, as if this was the most normal thing to do. She does not put her experience to words, but receives in her own quiet way gifts from the cub and I think this furry young lion bundle feels my girl’s blessings too. Then our meeting has comes to a natural ending. And the bond we formed continues on in the beating of our hearts.

We bow as the great wild cats turn and slowly walk away. A magnificent sight to behold, we both will never forget.

COMMUNICATING WITH ANIMALS AND LIVING IN HARMONY WITH CREATION

The heart knows the universal language of all creation. The wild animals understand it. When you are connected to the heart of creation within and around you all wild creatures will resonate and you walk in oneness with all of life. It is like breathing air, simple and natural. We are interconnected after all. When I meet the wild animals; they seem not threatened by my presence and come often close to me. Why? I do not know. Just, that my heart is one with them and I can communicate with them. I love them. It is nothing supernatural, rather most natural for me. More like–of course, how could it not be so, since we are the same life, just different expressions?

Being in harmony with all of life isn’t complicated. It is in us. We just need to pay attention to it and live like that. The wild is dear to me. There is not much left. Can we stop the destruction now, protect instead what is so precious and learn to live in harmony with the gift and magnificence of creation? It is up to all of us.

A word of commonsense caution: If you want to get to know the wild animals better and learn to commune with them, begin with deer, birds, squirrels. Don’t go for a wild cat, bear or snake unless you are really solidly connected and have plenty of experience and skill. Listen to your own nature and theirs at a safe distance. It will open up worlds for you and benefit all beings. Enjoy!

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