The darkness of this time of the year evokes the depths of the unknowable, unfathomable mystery that Life is.
May you come to trust this mystery throughout its dark and light moments, and may you be willing to let your light and love shine no matter how dark or light it seems!
I’d like to share with you a knowing that revealed itself the other day. It happened in an instant of heart opening to a deep pain that welled up, and that felt very, very familiar. The pain had covered over the knowing, and it took being willing to feel the pain fully, to be totally present with it, before the knowing could emerge in its full force and its full clarity.
The pain was, in its essence, the pain of being disconnected from love. The pain of losing my very being, which I knew to be Love. My whole life was suffused by this pain. The pain covered over the knowing of Love, until this knowing started shining through again, revealing itself in many ways, over and over. The way the pain expressed in my life was as depression, emotional disconnect, and as a total focus on the mind. The depression was excruciating in my teens and lifted somewhat in my twenties. Helped by many years of psychotherapy and emotional healing in my thirties, I started opening back up emotionally. My love affair with the mind slowly gave way to a life lived more fully at all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and eventually even spiritual.
The tragic events in Paris happen as I’m in the process of organizing the next online event on ‘Awakening in the Heart’. My first reaction is shock and dismay in the face of all this violence and the suffering it causes. Then compassion and deep love. As I sit with all of this, I remember that there was a time in my life when I used to hate with a passion: I hated capitalists for exploiting workers, and I hated men for oppressing women. The way this hatred was mostly expressed was intellectual, in terms of philosophical argument, as I was teaching political philosophy at the time. But essentially, it was and is the same as that which leads people into hurting and killing others.
The essence of violence is the distinction between ‘me’ and the other, the one we feel justified to hate. The ones we think we have good reasons to exclude from our heart and from our willingness to be and stay open to. Many years ago, by grace, there came a moment when I was shown that I could open my heart instead of hating. At the time, I was in a conflict with new neighbors whose noise levels were way beyond my ability to cope with. The conflict was going nowhere, and found myself stuck with that old hatred that was now directed against my neighbors. I had been on a healing journey and a spiritual path for almost fifteen years at that point, and much of the habit of hating had dissipated. But it arose in that conflict.
Somehow the topic of death has come up in different ways over the last few weeks, and it all came together in this new special online event on Facing Death. Death still is a taboo topic in our Western societies, and in the news, it comes up in the context of war, crime, or recently that of the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. In those contexts, death tends to be seen from the perspective of survival, as a loss of life that could have been avoided. And for sure the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea did so because they wanted to escape suffering and death in their native countries, and their deaths could indeed have been prevented.
I do not mean in any way to belittle the suffering in these situations, and I hold the people affected by them with much compassion. And yet there is a different aspect to death, a different perspective and understanding of it that highlights the preciousness of it as a human experience. Just like birth, it brings us face to face with the mystery of human life. Experiencing death consciously -- the possibility or reality of one's own death or that of others -- can change our life forever. It tends to point us to what is ultimately real and true. This is what this special event is all about.
Joan Ruvinsky, a yoga and spiritual teacher from Montreal, is one of the speakers taking part in this event. She will share her experience of living with terminal cancer and facing death in a very real and imminent way. I will be pre-recording our conversation because her energy levels are by now too unpredictable for her to be able to commit to participating in a live event (the photo of her is taken as she's resting on the sofa). It is rare for people in her situation to be willing to appear and speak in public. I'm very grateful that Joan has agreed to share her experience and insights with us. It feels like a truly special opportunity, and a real gift. So do join me for this event! You'll find more information on the Facing Death event page of the Living from Love website.
I love leading meditation, and I've been offering more meditation recently, including a meditation retreat day in Montreal in September (see last blog post). So I've decided to add a new meditation page to my website.
On it, you'll find
Go check the page out, you'll find it HERE. Or join me for the next meditation evening or retreat day... there's nothing like tasting stillness, love, or deep letting go, when meditating
with others and being supported by the synergy of hearts and minds united in meditation.
The meditation retreat day in Montreal at the end of August was a wonderful experience for all of us -- I'm so glad I followed the vision I had of it during a meditation evening this summer! It's always a bit scary to create something new, but it's so worth it when it happens and it turns out to be of benefit for everybody. Here is what two participants reported back about it:
I wanted to let you know that the retreat did me a lot of good. I really appreciated these 5 hours of receiving oneself. I feel more focused and more calm. I hope we’ll be able to repeat the experience. Many thanks. Gerard Grugeau
It was exactly what I needed. Grace created the perfect space for me to re-center, nurture and ground myself, as well as express myself through chant and make new discoveries. Thank you for this gift, Grace. Mel Sirois
I love sharing meditation, and I'll probably be offering more day retreats in the future. Stay tuned, and who knows, maybe you'll join us next time? (To find out about Montreal area events, sign up for the heart of Love newsletter in the right hand column -->).
Meditation evenings in Montreal continue...
every Thursday, 7 - 8.30 pm, at the office in Outremont, 1533 Van Horne. I bring my harmonium as people enjoy so much the chanting leading into the meditation (or even replacing the meditation). For more info about the evenings go to the meetup group page.
Three sisters: here we are, taking a walk during my father's recent 85th birthday celebration.
Being back in Germany with my family is always such an interesting time where I get to revisit where I come from. This includes experiencing whatever old conditioning is still there and gets evoked.
There's not much of that left these days ... but there is always an opportunity to open the heart even more. We're all so different, how did we get to be in one family?
Realizing that I probably wouldn't have chosen close relationships with them if it had been up to 'little me' ... and yet here we are, thrown together by Life. And there's such a sweet heart opening to all of us, just as we are, including myself. How mysterious this all is!
Wishing you all joyful and peaceful holy-days, wherever you are! May you find love and sacredness in all that they are. And may the New Year sparkle with all sorts of wonder-full things!
... and if you're in the greater Montreal area, join me for a special meditation evening on January 1st to Welcome the New Year: CLICK HERE to find out more.
Life has been quite interesting over the last few weeks. It had been very easy and light-filled in the period leading up to and including the online retreat that I had organized in early November (find out more about it HERE or read the blog post below this one). Everything flowed, and there was a joyful sense of trust in Life and the way it unfolded perfectly from one moment, one day, one week, to the next. All I did was to enjoy being in that flow and to move with it. How much more wonderful could it get?
And then … there always seems to be an And Then. That’s Life’s play, what is called ‘leela’ in the ancient Indian teachings. So here is my And Then:
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