“You have GREATNESS within you, and responsibility to manifest that greatness!” – Les Brown

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

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Life is not so much about “Mission Accomplished,” as it is “Mission Accepted.” It is an Invitation to Dance. Loosen up a little. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from trying.

“I had hoped to end this book on a triumphant note… Unfortunately, such a tale, while possibly uplifting and feel-good, would have to be filed in the fiction aisles. For much of the writing of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts I continued to relapse: bingeing and lying, shamed and hollow.” – Dr. Gabor Maté.

Dr. Maté goes on to say that it wasn’t until recently that he would clean up his act. But rather than shout, “Mission Accomplished!” He says, “Mission Accepted” would be more accurate (reference: Dr. Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, p 349).

As I read this, I realised this sounds so much like me. And what a relief.

I, too, was hoping to end my book on a triumphant note, a “Happily Ever After”. I’m thinking when life starts to fall smoothly into place, and when every little dream and desires are fulfilled, and everything is in the order of perfection, THEN I’ll be happy. THEN I’ll have something to shout about.

As we all know (and yet, how often we forget), life doesn’t quite work out like that. If we go by that definition, we’ll end up waiting our whole lives.

We are not called to Perfection. We are called to WHOLENESS. And that means, we’re not just called to live the Good Life, but a life that is made of the Not-So-Good, as well. Wisdom, is born of Pain. It’s how we learn, it’s how we grow. And for most of us, it’s the only time we’d ever learn or grow! We need the darkness, as much as the light. It’s what makes us WHOLE and complete.

I am reminded of this, when I read Dr. Mate’s bold and honest statement.

I am reminded that instead of my “triumphant note”, I’ve progressed, and regressed, one step forward, two steps back… then step up again.

Doesn’t it sound like a dance?

Two steps forward, three steps back,

One step forward, then another, and back again.

Then forth, then back, and back and forth we go, twirling around in this dance of life.

A friend once shared his observation, “You’re going in circles!” And he meant it as a friendly warning, to bring to my awareness my life’s pattern.

There was a time where I feared my own regressions and mistakes. But I’ve come to the point where I recognise something else, besides fear.

The two steps back keeps me humble and compassionate. The one step forward again, fills me with Faith, Hope, and Love, giving me strength for the long journey ahead.

Perhaps, this is the reason why out of the 6 books I had hoped to purchase recently, 2 of my orders were cancelled by the bookstore. I felt a mix of disappointment and amusement. Both the books that happened to be unavailable were, ‘The Dance of the Dissident Daughter’ by Sue Monk Kidd and ‘The Dance’ by Oriah. Is it mere coincidence that both titles with the words ‘dance’ in it were not making it’s way to me? It could be.

But I know that I didn’t specifically select these books for the theme on dancing. I merely wanted to complete my collection of Sue Monk Kidd’s memoirs, and Oriah’s series of books. So I ordered whatever I didn’t have.

Today, I’m beginning to see that this incident is not a sign that my invitation to the dance of life has been cancelled! Rather, it is an Invitation. It is drawing me to the word Dance, as I yearn to be whole.

In a dance, and in dancing, it’s important to maintain a certain tension (arm tension, core tension), and yet, to be graceful, we are to loosen up.

This is not an easy thing to do. One seems to be the opposite of the other!

I remember going to a Tango Open Day, to watch my friend dance. The instructor, in the hopes of recruiting new students, began drawing the audience, one by one, to the dance floor. I was chewing bubblegum, to hide that I was feeling terrified! I was hoping she wouldn’t pick me, but she did, and I did what I could, and was pretty happy with myself by the end of it.

Moments later, that silly smile from conquering my fear would be wiped off my face. Apparently, the instructor had whispered into the ears of the guy she pulled to dance after me, and said, “You’re a better dancer than that girl. She’s so stiff, she can’t dance… But you, you’re a natural.”

I had thought of enrolling in her class. As you can imagine, when said guy relayed the information to me, I was crushed, and never saw her again.

I should’ve known that what happened that night, speaks volumes about the instructor, too. She looked so beautiful and elegant for her old age, with her grey-white hair slicked back into a bun. And her movements were as fluid as any sweet young things. But even at that age, she had not grown comfortable in her own skin. If she was, she would’ve recognised my stiffness as a sign of discomfort, and saw a young girl with no confidence.

If she was sure in herself, she would’ve taken that opportunity to speak words of encouragement, leading me to bring out the dancer in me.

Everyone can dance.

But she didn’t believe that. And I didn’t believe that. She needed to cling to her superiority. And I was too busy clinging to my inferiority. I think we both could learn how to Loosen Up a little.

I watched the Tango Scene in the Scent of a Woman last week. The blind man, Frank Slade, asked Donna to dance. Donna’s response is natural. She speaks for most of us when she said, “Ah, I think I’d be a little afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Afraid of making a mistake.”

“No mistakes in the tango, darling. Not like life… If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, you just tango on. Why don’t you try?” Slade is persistent in his invitation, “You’ll try it?” Donna responds with courage, daring to make a silly mistake. “All right. I’ll give it a try.”

The Hope, is in the trying. Remember, Life is not so much “Mission Accomplished,” as it is “Mission Accepted.” It is an Invitation to Dance… Loosen Up. Don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you from trying.

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

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Shadow Boxing In The Dark…

Do you remember the scene in Disney’s Peter Pan where he loses his own shadow, and quietly sneaks in to Wendy’s room at night to hunt, fight and pin down his shadow with all his might?

This seemingly minute scene is a huge hint at something most of us may not even be aware of:

Shadow Boxing in the dark…

petershadow

The idea of Shadow Boxing came to me on the 3rd of December, ’14.

That night at 8pm, he left me for the desert. His eyes told me he’s going off on a fight.

I saw the seething rage beneath the calm. In an instant, I knew.

He’s going shadow boxing.

This time, the punches will be hard as steel and soul breaking.

It made me want to cry out. “Don’t hurt yourself! Please, be patient with yourself…”

And then, as real as it felt, as quick as it came, the vision in the night vanished into thin air.

It left me wondering who’s the one Shadow Boxing?

Him. Or me?

It could be my projection.

I could be the one, left behind, left to face a most unforgiving fight.

And you may wonder, “But how can one hurt themselves if they’re only shadow boxing? Aren’t you just fighting with… air?” Indeed, Wiki states that in shadowboxing, “only one person is required to participate; the participant throws punches at no one in particular.” – Wiki

But the shadow boxing I had in mind last night was a little different… It’s the fight we have with our own Shadow.

“In Jungian psychology, the shadow or “shadow aspect” may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow.” – Wiki

I went Shadow Boxing with a group of strangers last night and it was quite an experience.

We sat in a ring. Lights dimmed. The master was on her raised meditation cushion. And then, with a nod, one by one, the fighters took turns to get into that ring, Shadow Boxing, freestyle.

As each of them shared their story and struggles, the master, with eyes as sharp as an eagle, mind ten paces ahead, and experience twice our lifetime, is listening. Every uttered word paints the flow and the movement of the Shadow. She’s quick to catch and redirect, with tough-loving suggestions here and there.

Each fighter returns to his or her seat a little weary but much stronger in Awareness.

Some, like A and I, continued our shadow work even after the sessions were done. Her piercing insight, now that I think of it, was kind of like expertboxing.com‘s guide to improve shadow boxing.

“If something feels too difficult, you’re probably doing it wrong. Your shoulders shouldn’t be hurting during the hook. Your back shouldn’t be aching when you slip. You shouldn’t be falling off balance when you move around. If you’re getting tired shadowboxing, how can you expect yourself to have much endurance during a high-stress fight with an opponent?” – expertboxing.com 

‘Cos I was saying things like, “I’ve been trying to be patient, trying to be understanding, trying to be open-minded, trying to be loving…”

A responds, “Trying this… trying that… trying, always trying… trying means you’re not there yet… you’re not patient, not understanding, not… you get the idea? You think you are but you’re not. If you are, you wouldn’t be trying… you’d BE.”

And she ended our session with the one word I needed reminder of: ACCEPTANCE.

Until we see, acknowledge and understand our own Shadow, coming to a point of Acceptance, we’ll find it hard to Accept others, as they are.

“The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself” and represents “a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well”. 

If and when ‘an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others — such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions…” – wiki/Shadow_(psychology)

Shadow work is scary and uncomfortable, but so necessary.

Perhaps when we gradually slip into Acceptance, we can do less Shadow Boxing and more, as cgjungpage.org puts it, “Shadow Dancing.”

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

“Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.” – Gerald G. May, ‘Addiction & Grace’

On the seventh day of this month, we took a long walk to our destination. On our way there, we encountered a stray, of the human kind.

From afar, I was struck by his skin, smeared in black, and the way his torn t-shirt was draped to the side like a monk’s orange robe.

The scowl on his face and the way he was striding forth commands you to get out of his way.

Even so, a part of me wanted to stop him and to speak with him. But I traced his right bared arm to his hand, clenched tightly around a bottle of liquor, now empty. I feared he could hit me with it.

So I stood aside, he stalked right by, and the sudden stench of sewage overpowered the air, trailing his misery.

STRAY
I slipped my hand into the hand of the one I was walking with, and held on tight.

“Why, are you scared? Do you fear that man?” he asked.

No. I was looking for comfort. I was thinking about how tightly that man was holding on to his bottle. An empty bottle. It was his lifeline. His only way of numbing his pain. I feel pity for him… his outer condition is a reflection of his inner condition, and it’s clear he’s in a very, very bad state…

Google defines Pity as “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the sufferings and misfortunes of others.” I believe this feeling of sorrow and compassion can only arise from having once recognised ourselves, in them.

I remember only too well, a time in my life when I, too, felt lost and “homeless”. In my time of wandering, I identified with the beggars and the strays on the streets. It was a humbling time of transitioning, where I was brought to my knees by the awareness of my own ‘drunken stupor’ from my various addictions.

I was a human in need of grace.

“Grace is the invisible advocate of freedom and the absolute expression of perfect love.

…grace seeks us but will not control us. Saint Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. If our hands are full, they are full of the things to which we are addicted.

And not only our hands, but also our hearts, minds and attention are clogged with addiction. Our addictions fill up the spaces within us, spaces where grace might flow…

…we may not be able to make our hands completely empty in order to receive the gifts of grace, but we can choose whether to relax our hands a little or to keep clenching them ever more tightly.

…simply relaxing one’s hands may seem too passive. As we shall see, however, this simple choice may be the greatest kind of struggle any human being can face, and it may call forth the greatest courage and dedication…

…We may go through a great deal of humbling, if not outright humiliation, before we come to this simplicity of hope. We do not like admitting defeat, and we will struggle valiantly, even foolishly, to prove that we can master our destinies.

God, in whose image we are made, instills in us the capacity for relentless tenacity, an assertiveness that complements our yearning hunger for God. But most of us overdo it; our spirit of assertiveness quickly becomes a spirit of pride.

We will never really turn to God in loving openness as long as we are handling things well enough by ourselves. And it is precisely our most powerful addictions that cause us to defeat ourselves, that bring us to the rock bottom realization that we cannot finally master everything.

Thus, although in one sense addiction is the enemy of grace, it can also be a powerful channel for the flow of grace.

Addiction can be, and often is, the thing that brings us to our knees.

…it is possible that at some point in our journey with addiction and grace, we might even come to see addiction as a kind of gift.

…Addictions teaches us not to be too proud. Sooner or later, addiction will prove to us that we are not gods.

Then we will realize that we are our own worst enemies; we cannot beat ourselves. At that point, when we have exhausted all the available false repositories for our hope, it is possible that we will turn to God with a true sense of who we are, with an integrity that is both humble and confident, with a dignity that knows itself because it has met its limits.

Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.

But it is there, irrevocably. Like freedom, hope is a child of grace, and grace cannot be stopped. I refer once more to Saint Paul, a man who, I am convinced, understood addiction: “Hope will not be denied, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” – Gerald G.May, ‘Addiction & Grace’.

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Love Is Allowing Yourself To Feel

Originally posted on 28.06.12:

“We must not numb our pain.

When in sorrow, sorrow.

When in anger, anger.

FEEL IT.

It’s the only way to go through it.” Paul said to me, as we were discussing the problem of alcoholism in Finland.

His main language is Finnish. So when he speaks in English, it’s very simple. But I get it. And I love it. It comes out sounding like a poem.

Paul is saying we must go through the process of whatever it is we’re feeling. So when we’re in sorrow, then allow ourselves to be in sorrow.

Having spent many years working in a rehab for alcoholics in Helsinki, he’s seen how desperately people try to numb their pain, instead of dealing with the root of that pain. In the end, the only thing they create is a bigger mess, ruining their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

…I feel like I can relate to them.

For over a decade, I’ve tried to numb my pain through many ways.

It has led to many addictions that can be a whole blog post by itself.

The past one year and a half, I’ve been learning that there are better, healthier and more effective ways to deal with pain. Today, I’m just going to focus on one: Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel.

I’ve been having a hard time processing my feelings the last couple of days / weeks / months. Here I am, learning about love and sharing what I learn on The Love Culture. But I am highly aware, too, that these whole other spectrum of “dark” emotions are well and alive and brewing in me.

Anger

Grief

Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Fear

They’re not there all the time. At least not on the surface. But when it’s triggered, the rawness of the pain and the way I crumble, surprises me.

Seeing the way that I am when I’m in pain–and being made aware that I’m not much different from the person causing me pain when I’m hurt–just left me feeling absolutely lost in my own darkness. 

And then someone comes my way today, to remind me of my goodness and help me see the Light, within and without. I feel loved, supported and cared for. And it’s bringing me release. Which got me wondering…

Could this be the reason why we hold on to our hurt?

Is it a cry to be loved?

I believe the answer is, Yes.

This question and answer have, in the past, allowed me to let go of the need for justice or to set things right–at least, not in the heat of the moment. Understanding that both the perpetrator of pain and the one in pain is both crying out for the same thing–to be loved–frees me to open up my hands to receive the Love that I need from God, others and myself, to heal, instead of keeping it clenched in a fist of fury, ready to retaliate.

But this time around, I’m feeling conflicted.

Here I am, talking about love and compassion on The Love Culture, but I wasn’t feeling very loving or compassionate at the moment towards the source of my pain. I felt disgusted instead. And I felt bad for feeling this.

Then a friend comes along and gives me this reassurance:

“Dont ever be afraid to feel “negative” feelings.

They are just signals, not the be-alls and end-alls.

In the great silence of which you understand, there is the unfolding of His greatness and love, which can NEVER be taken away by our feelings.” – TW

I felt grateful for this reminder.

His permission (yes, we don’t need ‘permission’ so to speak, but when we’re stuck and unable to move, it helps to have someone say “IT’S OKAY, GO AHEAD”) to feel without condemnation, allowed me to navigate my way through this, by trying to understand,

“What are my “negative” feelings signalling?”

That I need Healing.

That I need more Love.

Both of which I can choose to receive in prayer, even in this time of pain.

What is your pain telling you? What are your “negative” feelings signalling? May your permission to feel, and your courage to face your darkness, give you the Understanding to Love and Be Loved.

Love,

Mish

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Everybody Hurts

Hold On…

 

 

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

“You don’t try to kill yourself because death’s appealing — but because life’s agonizing.” – Ann Voskamp

“…depression is like a room engulfed in flames and you can’t breathe for the sooty smoke smothering you limp — and suicide is deciding there is no way but to jump straight out of the burning building.

That when the unseen scorch on the inside finally sears intolerably hot – you think a desperate lunge from the flames and the land of the living seems the lesser of two unbearables…

…You don’t try to kill yourself because death’s appealing — but because life’s agonizing.

I remember the wild agony of no way out and how the stars looked, endless and forever, and your mind can feel like it’s burning up at all the edges and there’s never going to be any way to stop the flame.

Don’t bother telling us not to jump unless you’ve felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.

Don’t only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that — who wears the scars of the singe.

A God who bares His scars and reaches through the fire to grab us, “Come — Escape into Me.” – Ann Voskamp

Link to full, original article by Ann Voskamp: 

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/08/what-the-church-christians-need-to-know-about-suicide-mental-health/

Special thanks to http://hopeinhealingblog.wordpress.com/ for the link.

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

5 Days Countdown: Breathe

“Probably the most relaxing sound for me is my breathing. I’m reminded I’m alive. no other singular sound more characterises the dive experience than the sound of the breath.

Breathing in, gently, and with near imperceptibility, I begin to rise. Breathing out, I slowly descend. This gentle rocking, is one of the things that makes diving so soothing…

I breathe, therefore I am. Diving that is. And the breath is such a great way to pace myself… By listening to my breath, I become acutely aware of slowing my inhalations… luxuriating, in the simplicity of the process, and very slowly, exhaling… listening, as the trickle of bubbles are set free as they inexorably make their way to the surface of the water, like helmet in transparent balls of energy, each with their own separate mission to pulse their ways to the top.

Once there, they are set free…

I breathe and feel the filtered dry air fill my lungs. It wakes up all the slumbering alveoli, those tiny sacs that carry oxygen, throughout my body, from within my lungs. And I’m reminded that I never, never breathe relaxed to full breaths like this, when I’m going about my business, topside. But the slow movement of everything under the water, reminds me that there is only this moment, only this breath, and only this feeling…

I’m breathing as I dive, with every breath more relax than the one before it. And as I breathe, I enter more deeply, into where I am. Listen, I’m glad I started diving. It reminded me to slow down, slow down and breathe… to feel… and to enjoy.” – Michael Mish, Breath.

The past one week has been one hell of a turbulent ride… Even as I’m regaining clarity and allowing the gravity of it all to bring me to its proper place, I find that I’m 5 days away from my dive trip in island paradise. I’m getting dive certified for PADI Open Water. It doesn’t feel like a good time to go now. But then again, the sun, sea and sand would be good for me, even as I make time and space for healing. Am very grateful to come across Michael Mish’s vid on BREATH today. His meditative approach to diving is inspiring, calming and peace-restoring… it’s exactly what I need.

Perhaps, it’s exactly what you need too. A simple reminder, to Breathe.

Love,

Mish.

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“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Love Is Not Love Until It’s Given Away

We are hard wired for Love–to live love, to breathe love and to share love with others.

There is a deep emptiness in humanity that can only be filled with Love.

If we realize the power of love to heal and transform lives, we would learn to GIVE LOVE, as much as we’d like to receive love.

My wife and I have had the privilege to share Love with leprosy patients for the last 7 years in the Philippines.

We combine our roles as counselors, teachers and healers through the creative use of music and massage therapy to bring hope and comfort to their dark world of pain and rejection.

Treated as the scorn of society, leprosy patients are often reduced to feeling like they’re good for nothing. Most people do not want to touch them, out of an erroneous fear of contamination, reinforcing the blatant lie of how unlovable they are.

As if this wasn’t awful enough, at night, sometimes rats would come to eat away at their toes.

They feel like they are cursed. Living in isolation from the world and swamped in self-hatred, their low self-worth is written all over their faces and expressions which begs the answer to the question, “What did I do to deserve this?”

Beneath the unsightliness inflicted on them by leprosy, there is an individual soul created for dignity and honor. Their visible wounds conceal a heart that is close to God’s heart and deeply loved by Him.

Looking deep into their eyes, my wife and I can often feel God looking back at us, through their eyes.

For you, your challenge to love may come in many other forms or people you find hard to love.

It could be your sister you had a fight with, your brother who misunderstood you, a friend who hurt you with reckless words or someone you know who has wounded you deeply out of pride and insecurity.

Could you begin to look deeper beneath the surface of hurt, pain and anger and see God’s eyes looking back at you? He is lovingly asking, “Will you love ME in them, UNCONDITIONALLY, as I have loved you?”

Love is the strongest force in the universe.

May we realize the power we have within us to make a difference in this world.

Starting with the person we feel most unworthy of Love.

Love Healers,

Brian & Mirte (Anisha) Longridge

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The Longridges is a crazy story of two people who are musicians and counselors who fell in love and spent their honeymoon in a leprosy camp in the mountains of Indonesia for two months–it was to be a decision that forever altered the path of their lives to what it is today: A life dedicated to showing true Love: http://www.leprosyphilippines.blogspot.com