Take me to a place where the robin sings

If ever you should find me
on the brink of wanting 
to put an end
to this human body
and this phase of life limited 
to heavy matter,
full of certainty that joy
has fled forever;
gather me up and
take me to a place
where the robin sings.
Seeing his red breast
and hearing his ever hopeful melody
I shall surely forget every woe
and burst into flames
of gratitude for 
this strange gift 
of human life.

Love and courage,

Leah

Awakening and the falling away of all you knew

Meaning falls from your life the way leaves fall from autumn’s trees.
Naked, you will find yourself
stripped now of the flimsy glue that held your life together.
You were a person on a train to Somewhere.
You had a mission, a purpose, a reason to wake with the light;
each day built on yesterday, taking you towards tomorrow.
You grasp with helpless hands at what was;
the sleepwalking world in which you understood your place and your part.
Like water through your fingers it slips
sinking into an eternal abyss.
You will not succeed in finding solid ground where solid ground there never was.

Stand and face winter now.
Be naked and celebrate.
Feel the loveliness of being a traveller without story.
What feels today like barren ground is tomorrow’s fertile earth from which deeper meaning grows.
Patience, love;
new beginnings form unseen in the soil’s belly
and emerge on Love’s own timeline.

When spring arrives there will be meaning without meaning,
purpose without purpose,
mission without mission.
All of life will pour from your eyes and your throat and your hands,
expressing itself in a looping waterfall of joy
and you will praise the winter where everything came undone
for it was in that undoing that the ecstatic vibrancy of life found the gaps to dance its way out;
out into the world that hungers for more of your light.

Love and courage,

Leah

Gather your pain like a posy of wildflowers

We have spent a lifetime fleeing our pain. We have turned away from the rivers of sadness. We have pushed away the furnace of anger. We have denied the shame. We have rejected the depression. We started running and we never stopped. We thought we could outrun it, the pain. If we just kept running we would run to a place where it didn’t follow. We would run ourselves into freedom.

We ran to sugar rushes and alcohol buzzes and drug highs and relationships and books and TV and the internet and self-improvement and exercise and work and achieving and money and marriage and travel and even, yes, spirituality. We ran far and we ran fast, but no matter how far or how fast we ran, the pain was always just a hair’s breadth away, waiting whenever we stopped for a brief moment.

This is the gift of pain. It will not be outrun. And finally, when we have tried everything and come up short and we are utterly broken and exhausted from the years of running, something within us goes into a deep surrender because the mind is utterly lost now and has no idea where else to look. And in this deep surrender, in this moment of admittance that we have no clue how to help ourselves any more, we stop searching ‘out there’ and we sink into the only place we can ever heal our pain - this moment.

You are tired of running. We are all tired of running. Stop. Instead, gather your pain like you would a posy of wildflowers, with a delicate touch and eyes full of wonder. With tenderness, pull it close to your heart and bathe it with your undivided attention. Do not turn away from yourself. Meet yourself here. Meet this energy that is circling within you. Engage your curiosity. Hello, sadness. Hello, anger. Hello, depression.

Keep this image of wildflowers with you, if it helps. Don’t you love them? Don’t you want to run your fingers over their velvety petals and inhale their rich perfume? Aren’t you enthralled by their colours and shapes and just in complete wonderment that such things could even exist at all? How did we get so lucky to live in a world with wildflowers? Be with your pain in this way. It is a thing of such beauty and its hand is outstretched in the most important invitation of your life. The invitation to stop, stop, stop and meet this moment exactly as it is.

It is not dangerous. It will not overwhelm you. It will not ruin your life. In fact, it is an invitation to life. To live. To be alive. To fall into the dazzling experience of Now.

Love and courage,

Leah

Love, light, happiness and the fiery hell of Mordor

The spiritual path is very nice and very exciting for a while. It's a lovely adventure. We like the idea of who the spiritual path will help us become and what it will help us get and achieve.

We like the idea of being the serene one. The peaceful one. The one who sits quietly and meditates and learns to let all human problems and feelings and concerns wash over them.

We like the idea of being part of the spiritual club. Maybe we think that's one step up from everyone else. I know I've gone through my phase of spiritual superiority.

It's nice singing mantras (I'm rather partial to that myself), burning incense (my smoke alarm always goes off), doing guided meditations (nothing wrong with that) and practising yoga (beautiful).

The love, the light, the happiness, it's all so appealing, isn't it? So we pack our spiritual backpacks and set off on our spiritual adventures. For a while, we're skipping through green fields and prancing across streams. We're namaste-ing and shining our ever brightening light back into the world that is so in need of our 'help'. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and we're convinced we've made it on the spiritual path.

And then, as you hop, gazelle like over the mound of the next wild-flower-filled field, a dark monstrosity comes into view. A huge black rock face spitting fire and thick, billowing clouds of smoke. The sky darkens overhead and you think to yourself, 'What the hell is this?' Quite.

What the hell is this?

This is the not so exciting and not so lovely part of the spiritual path.

Many years ago I asked a friend for his recommendation of resources for my spiritual journey. He told me, 'That depends, are you browsing travel brochures or do you want to book a ticket somewhere?'

'I want to book a ticket', I told him. And even though I meant it, I realise now I had no real idea what was waiting for me.

I heard Adyashanti say once that when you start out on the spiritual path, you're the one pursuing 'it'. You feel as if you're in control. And then at some point, you realise that without your even noticing, the tables have turned and now 'it' is pursuing you. And in that moment you really begin to realise what it's going to ask of you. What you're going to have to give up and everything you're going to have to face.

And you're like, fuck, I'm not sure if I want this. So maybe you turn around and try to go back the way you came. Back to the life where you got to be a bit spiritual but not so spiritual that you'd have to give anything up.

The problem, though, is that it's already too late. Even if you try to go back, the feeling of disconnect in your life will be so great that at some point you'll be forced to continue on. You can't live with one foot in and one foot out. This isn't the hokey cokey, after all.

So you turn to face the fiery hell of Mordor and you see that you're going to have to go in and the person who goes in will never come out. It's going to strip you bare. It's going to take every last thing you thought you knew and it's going to burn it to ashes. It's going to take all your ideas about who you are and what your life's supposed to look like and it's going to incinerate it all. Everything is going to go. You will be more exposed than you've ever been.

Every emotion you've ever pushed down will have to be felt. Every addiction will have to be met. Every place you lie to yourself will be revealed. There can be no more running.

But at this point, something else interesting also begins to happen. You start actually wanting to go into Mordor. Even though you know what has to happen once you get inside, you want to go in there. Your commitment and love of truth has grown bigger than any desire for the old life and the old ways. You're on your knees and you're saying, 'I don't care what it takes, I don't want to suffer any more.'

And so Mordor opens up and swallows you into its depths and goes about burning everything that isn't true. And even though it's hot and hellish in there at times, somehow you know, you know, this is what's needed, this is what you asked for and this is what you want.

This is the spiritual path.

Love and courage,

Leah

A moment's rest

For just one second
put everything down.
Externally, yes,
but internally, too.
Feel inside yourself.
Go into the ribcage
the heart
the belly.
Feel inside the shoulders
the head
behind the eyes
the inside of the cheeks.
Go into every bit of you,
offering a silent permission
to just
put everything down.
Just for a moment
a moment
breathe.
Feel the release
and the relief
of ending the struggle
the 'trying to figure things out'
the weight of future
and the weight of past
and everything that isn't right here and now.
Surrender to the space
the strong hand of stillness
the generosity of the moment.
Look at me
Isn’t it ok, to put it all down?
Are you not still here?
Heart is still beating?
Lungs are still moving?
Breath goes in and breath goes out?
Doesn't it feel good, to rest?
Just for one second
one moment
and then, maybe
.
.
.
just one moment more.

Love and courage,

Leah

Life will burn everything, and it will do it all for love

Sweet love,
If your life begins to crumble
If dreams slip like sand through your desperate fingers
If you find yourself disinterested in all things that once captivated you
If you are pounded down into a depression
And it seems you may never reach the place you were going
Take some comfort today.

Life is a relentless lover
Daring to rip you apart piece by piece
And decimate everything you thought was yours.
It will do whatever it takes
Whatever it takes
For you to awaken
For you to come alive to a deeper, lasting peace.
Everything it does, it does for you
To bring you what you want but don't know how to reach.

Through love alone it lights a match to your life
And you will have to stand by and watch
As it goes up in flames
Helpless to stop the raging fires.
Trust this helplessness
It is a kind hand inviting you to stop
And rest
And surrender
And let what needs to burn, burn.

You may be scared and confused, disoriented and desperate
But you are safe
Sweet love you are safe
Life burns only all that is not true
And as the hot flames begin to wane
You will emerge fresh and new
And you will know
It was all for love.

Love and courage,

Leah

In the name of self-improvement

In the name of self-improvement 
I abandoned myself.
Cast off all that was real
and flung it on the dumpster
in search of a better me.
They spoke with such authority 
all those ‘experts’
and their advice seemed sane and good
until I realised
that what seemed good
was actually planting seeds of
‘You’re not good enough’.
They spoke with such conviction
and their worlds were so shiny
and hordes of people bowed at their feet
so
how could they be wrong?
I dived in with great gusto.
I was going to be improved
better
best!
And then...
and then I would be happy. So happy.
But after many years of this improving 
I have to say
I didn’t feel much improved.
One day,
I made the most startling discovery
that
I had been perfect all along.
And so I traipsed back to the dumpster
where I had abandoned myself years before
and put myself back on
like a favourite old cardigan, rediscovered in a box beneath my bed.
And now it is me who speaks with conviction,
“There is nothing to improve!”

Love and courage,

Leah

Torn between the familiar and the possible

Just when you thought you’d landed somewhere safe, stable, secure, the new starts tugging on your sleeve again. Looking down, it looks back up at you with big eyes and whispers excitedly, ‘Come on, let’s go.’

And there you are again, torn between the familiar and the possible.

You’ve been here a thousand times before. You know it’s inevitable but you still act all surprised when it shows up.

‘Again? Really? Already? Do we haaaave to?

There’s an equal mix of reluctance and eagerness. Terror and…excited terror. You don’t want to but oh, you do want to.

You’ll have to let go of what you have. Scary. And there’s no guarantee that what comes next will be better. Even scarier. But you’ve always said yes to the tug in the past and no matter how much you um and ah this time, you know you’re not about to start saying no now.

A lot of people will think you’re naive, stupid, or even insane. But what does that mean except that your ‘yes’ to the unknown, to the possible, is so distant from their way of seeing life that it’s incomprehensible? You don’t fit their model. You’re used to this by now. Breathe. It’s OK. Your life, remember?

The familiar screams that you’ll die if you leave. And the possible screams that you’ll die if you don’t. So you’re torn for a little while between the two. But only for a little while because the heart is always right there and it’s whispering excitedly, ‘Come on, let’s go.’

And in the end the adventure will win out. Because to adventure is to live and to live is what you're here for. 

To letting go of the familiar...again.

Love and courage,

Leah