Daily Archives: August 17, 2014

Tender Hearted Warrior: Repost of a Guest Post for Jamie Ridler

This is a repost of a guest post I wrote for Jamie Ridler last summer. When she migrated content to her new site, this piece didn’t make it, but I love it so much I want to make sure it is still somewhere. Her prompt for me was “It’s not about being tough. It’s about being tender,” and Jamie invited those of us writing to offer whatever came to us as a response, “anything goes.” You can read a bit more of the background story of the piece here.


Tender Hearted Warrior

mettaprayerIn my practice traditions — yoga, meditation, writing, and dog — training to be a warrior is not about being tough, it’s about being tender. Being a warrior in this sense has nothing to do with war, aggression or battle. It is not about control, dominance or winning. Being a warrior is about training the mind and the heart to stay open and present, compassionate and sane, with the intention of easing suffering wherever you find it. And there is plenty of suffering and struggle available for us to work with. In my own life, I’ve directly encountered loss, death, abuse, addiction, mental illness, aggression, and various other kinds of dis-ease.

Through my yoga practice, I work to bring my mind and body together into the same moment, to be present and embodied without judgment. Through this union, I have worked with how I might balance my effort with ease, cultivating a practice that is not too loose and not too tight. What I’ve learned has followed me off my mat, into my life and the world.

Through my meditation practice, I attempt to stay in my seat, to not run away or resist. I sit with whatever emotion or thought comes, without being consumed by it, without getting hooked or running away with it, without trying to change it, working to allow it to arise and dissolve on its own. No matter what comes up, I won’t abandon myself. What I’ve learned has followed me off my cushion, into my life and the world.

Through my writing practice, I intend to show up without an agenda, to surrender to the process, to allow what might arise, to give it a voice. Through the process I discover and learn, and through the product I share what I’ve created, enter into a larger conversation, into connection. What I’ve learned has followed me off the page, into my life and the world.

obisroseinbloomThese three practices supported me in the additional difficulties encountered in my practice of dog, for the harsh reality I’ve faced — I have lost two dogs to cancer in the past four years. One of these dogs, my sweet Dexter, died just three short, (and also unbearably long), days ago. These relatively short but powerful relationships have put me in direct contact with the inevitability of change, impermanence, with the fact that I am not in control of anything. This practice has touched my heart, and what I’ve learned has followed into my life and the world.

A tender hearted warrior must be willing to cut through their own confusion, to sit with their own fear and pain, to remain present no matter what arises. This is incredibly difficult because it goes against our instinct to protect ourselves. We want to keep ourselves tough because we are afraid others will try to hurt us, take advantage, do damage. We also try to stay tough because we don’t trust ourselves — how we feel, think, behave, look — we think we’ll do the wrong things and be rejected, we believe there is something fundamentally wrong with us. We want so badly to fit in, to be safe, to be loved that we will even reject ourselves. However we express it, underlying this confusion is a lack of confidence in our basic goodness – the innate nature, wise and compassionate, that is with us from the beginning, pure and complete, whole.

fullflowermoon13When you encounter life as it is, full of impermanence and change and suffering, it’s tempting to try to protect yourself by getting tough, building a fortress, hiding inside a cocoon, being hard, untouchable, removed, numb. However, through effort and attention, through practice, we can learn to befriend ourselves, engage with reality and relate directly with basic goodness. We can practice being soft and open, tender with whatever arises. We are able to stay with ourselves, with reality. We won’t freak out, try to control what’s happening, run away or numb out. With confidence in our fundamental wisdom and compassion, we are connected to our inherent power, we can be of benefit, we can help, we can ease suffering in ourselves and in the world. Yes, we will be vulnerable, at risk of being wounded, but we also in this way will know joy, experience love, encounter amazement.

It’s not about being tough. It’s about being tender. By being soft we are strong. Life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal – keep your heart open, kind and gentle warrior.

 

August Moon: Manifesting

dreamwithfeathers
Kat’s prompt today asks, “Who could help you in manifesting your dream life?” and “If the universe was prepared to send someone to help, who would you ask for?”

My first thought was “I don’t need any help. I’m doing this for myself.” I remembered the Rumi poem I saw the other day that said,

I have been a seeker and I still am,
but I stopped asking the books and the stars.
I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.

And while that is true, I let myself think about it a little longer and realized there’s help to be had. It looks like this:

  • A nice, kind publisher and editor. A team of people who get what I’m doing, love it, inspire and encourage me, help me to create beautiful things and get them out into the world. I love the stories of someone happily blogging away being approached by someone who says “hey, I work with this publishing house and we’ve been following your work, we love what you are doing — wanna write a book for us?”
  • A tribe of kindreds that support me and my work. People who love me, who inspire and encourage me, who will gently tell me the truth, who believe in what I’m doing and want to share it.
  • Kind and gentle readers. People who get what I’m doing, who need what I’m doing, who want what I’m doing, who I can inspire and encourage.
  • The love, patience, and support of my tiny family.

August Break: Bookshelf

bookshelf
Bookshelf. I am a reader, a collector, a piler, a hoarder, a curator, a bibliophile. In my living room, there are three stuffed cases. In the spare room, a floor to ceiling built in along with a smaller one in the corner. In my office, there’s a smaller case and various piles. It looks like a mess, like chaos, but ask me where a specific book is and I could find it. It might look like madness but I have a method.

P.S. You can also see the feet of my four Holly Hobbie dolls on this shelf, one of the only toys I kept from when I was little. I had to hide them there because Ringo was convinced they were dog toys.