Nancy Cole

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Posts tagged with "awareness"

When Giving Gives Back

I wish I had time to teach my children better what I profess to do as a profession. I mean really teach them, including by example. I have this vision of them “getting” the soul-nourishing aspects of giving as they look oh-so forward to what they will get for Christmas. And aside from writing some measly checks, and having them clear out stuff for donations, I’m not really offering much to go on.

So much busy-ness, so much harried-ness, means that that which is my best intention I don’t have time for myself, let alone take the time to teach others. Intentions just don’t cut it in terms of spiritual payoff.

This time of year, when the requests for cash support to great organizations are many (and one of which I’ve written and sent myself), I reflect on all of the other ways I would like to be involved and haven’t been. And yet I must be kind to myself for what I do, which, by many accounts is “too much” as defined by the number of times I hear “I don’t know how you do it.”

When life throws you a curve ball and you’re forced to focus on where the ball landed (or maybe the ball whacked you in the head) you begin to realize how priorities might have shifted earlier, and so you re-order things, shed things, and ostensibly tread a “saner” path. Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last several months looking inward to open up to myself. Centering, and working to stay there, resisting old habits to be pulled away from myself because if you can stay centered, even the best/worst curve ball will have you standing firm. Decisions are clearer. Respect from self and others greater.

And then life spins up again. Especially at holiday time!

It’s easy to then get caught up in the same cycle, responding automatically to the many requests and interests that plead for attention, and putting ourselves off because surely we know exactly where we are. However, in so doing, we are tempting life to come back and force a reminder of what is important, and to shock us back to discerning ourselves. And so I live in the desire to be leading a “normal” life, but not to let my guard down so much as to lose myself, become complacent, and stop discerning decisions, actions, and my responses.

Giving is a way to stay connected. It may seem antithetical to say that giving to others brings you closer to you. But by all accounts, researched and felt, giving contains an emphasis on personal awareness combined with a balanced awareness of community, social justice, and the world around us. We give through a sense of what is important to us.

"This sometimes means looking at things we would prefer not to look at and feeling things we would prefer not to feel.” ~ John Neafsey

It may seem overwhelming to take a clear, hard look at the state of things, but to have a dream for humanity, according to writer and teacher Sharon Daloz Parks, “depends upon serious engagement with the truth of the world, the universe as it is, including ‘things that should not be so.’” Then, its required that we lift our wide, open eyes with a realistic hope and a sense of what is possible. Not naive utopia, but rather a measured and balance awareness of what can be done when we individually and collectively “imagine what is possible” for our souls and for our world.

I look forward to moving beyond intention into action on what I imagine to be possible not only for myself, but for society in 2012 and beyond.

Resting on Life’s Path

Does immersion in all things spiritually enlightening and expansive every really soak into our skin, through our bodies, and into our soul? Spiritual direction, meditation, yoga, buddha, burning rituals, soulseeds, all manner of reading…. and some days I worry about being impervious.

Some days it feels like baby steps forward, and then giant steps back. It can be exhausting and discouraging, and the steps backward seem so big (whether they are or not is hard to tell), and are generally called out. Steps forward are almost hard to notice, and are generally not called out by others (although if we’ve moved forward far enough, then, of course, we don’t need others to notice).

The uphill path toward self-actualization, awareness, fearlessness, and letting go is fraught with obstacles (some of which we carry on our backs), unsure footing, sliding sections, and the occasional mud puddle. Sometimes I need to just sit down where I am on the path, brush myself off, look around, and then close my eyes. Do I have the energy to get back up and keep going knowing that I am not likely to reach the pinnacle (assuming one exists) given my humanity and lack of ashram time? How does it feel to be another mile ahead? Worth it?

Maybe tomorrow. Today I need to sit here wanting to enjoy the view from where I am, but unable to open my eyes.