The deeper I go, the scarier, and more exhilarating, it gets! When I pay more attention to my outer world, I realize there are also ways in which I am possibly causing harm to myself or to others. And when I turn inward and listen to myself, to my inner truth, it becomes impossible not to make changes. This, I believe, is the way of the bodhisattva. It is a path of deep investigation, deep questioning and an endless determination to develop a compassionate, loving and open heart in order to to be of service to the world, to help eliminate suffering and encourage the awakening of all beings. There is a constant feedback loop between the inner and outer world, giving guidance toward a life that is moral, truthful, joyous, generous, kind and wise.
Outer things are a little easier to handle. In the last few years, I have really become conscious of what I am eating. First and foremost, I ask myself, will this food nourish my body with the nutrients it needs? Now I find myself leaning more and more towards organic foods. How can I not when I am completely aware of the pesticides that are used on conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains? Also, I have no desire to drink alcohol anymore because I know that not only is it harmful to my body but it clouds the brain therefore making it more likely to do something or say something that is unwise. Nor do I want to have anything to do with the sale of alcohol or other potentially harmful products.
What about the products I am using on my body–soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, mouthwash? A while ago I switch to soaps and lotions with more natural ingredients. Now I am changing to toothpaste and mouthwash that are made without fluoride. It’s pretty crazy that our world is filled with toxic products that are sold on supermarket shelves. Not to mention fast food chains. Even the clothes we wear can be produced with dangerous chemicals.
How about the toxic information we are fed on a daily basis, on TV, in the news, in magazines? I was watching an action movie last night and I literally just fast-fowarded to the end because there was just a bunch of violence, swearing and stupid jokes. (With even more awareness, I would have shut if off after the first 10 minutes!) . How did I even watch crap like that before? And what about the clutter and clothes I hang on to when there are people in need everywhere! Why do I buy more stuff when I could be using that money in more useful ways?
Yup, waking up requires making changes. Some of them easy, others not so easy. I have noticed how much I judge others, how often my prideful ego tries to prove itself right or smart or better than someone else. These are engrained patterns that require diligent attention so that they can loosen their tight grip. How many times have I let fear get in the way of a deeper connection with someone? How many times have I listened half-heartedly, in defence mode or while formulating my next response.? This is not to get down on myself. We all do these things. By recognizing my imperfections, I am actually getting MORE compassionate towards others and myself.
Deeper yet, what do I do with the calls from my innermost being? To write, to speak, to share my wisdom, to heal. I sense that shifts are happening almost daily. I have so many questions: Who am I? What do I really want? How can best serve the world? What kind of work will best serve me? What relationships are healthy for me? How can I deepen my relationships? How can I be comfortable with more intimacy? How can I be more honest with people? How can express myself better? How do I live my life in balance? What is my heart calling me to do next? Will I be able to handle all the changes?!
We all have these calls and if we are open to receive them, we will be able to hear them. There are messages which give us a nudge to take some small step and there are the messages that may require us to make huge changes in our lives: to leave a job that is no longer satisfying, to move from the big city to the country to live a quieter life, to start a new hobby like singing or painting, to be more vulnerable with a loved one. These kinds of changes require that we take a risk, a leap of faith. We sense there will be loss. But we forget that there will be gains–more fulfilling work, a more peaceful mind, a life of more creativity and passion, more authentic relationships.
Where in our lives might we be trading passion for security, spontaneity for conformity? We want to be safe. We want to belong. But we cannot find security in money or a house or a high-paying job and we can’t find belonging by trying to fit in and going along with what the crowd is doing. It’s really connecting to our wild, spirited, open and uninhibited nature that will bring us the sense of safety and belonging we are looking for. It’s by discovering who we truly are that we come home.
In order to serve the world in the best way we can, we first need to be true to ourselves. If we are playing small, pretending to be someone we are not or afraid to take some risks, then we are not serving ourselves or anyone else. Do not underestimate the power you have to make a difference! We can all help each other out: a friendly smile, a ride home, a listening ear, a kind voice, a shoulder to cry on, a powerful message, a gentle nudge, a heartfelt song, a speech of inspiration. We can all listen to our inner guidance. We can all wake up a little more. We can all open our hearts. It begins with you!
Do I sometimes doubt this path? Do I sometimes wonder if I am not thinking too much, asking too many questions? Do I sometimes wish I had chosen an easier path? Yes, I do. But I know that there is no going back, only forward. I am on the road to awakening, to seeing the truth, to opening my heart and loving without holding back. This is a journey and there is no way of knowing where it will lead me. I can only be awake in this moment, be as true to myself as I can today, be as compassionate, kind and loving as possible in the present. This is what I truly care about. This is what matters to me–awareness, truth, love.
Sometimes the fear is winning out over the exhilaration. But just now as I write this, I feel excited, I feel my inner passion for expressing what is most important to me, I feel my spontaneity as words appear on this page, somehow falling out of the mix of thoughts and ideas in my head. If I can keep remembering to choose love over fear, passion over security, spontaneity over conformity, I believe I can create a life in where I am living true to myself: loving, elated and fully alive; a life where I have become a vessel, an instrument for awakening all beings; a life with a compassionate, open and fearless heart.