Am I Ready?

It is clear once again
That I pull back from the edge
But my body pushes me back
Then I pull away again

Burying myself in theories
And analysis and exercises
Seduced by transient moments of relief
From some mantra or philosophy or med

Then wallowing in hopelessness
When hours later the opium wears off
And the pangs of fear and depression return
Triggered by a thousand thoughts

Shattered that my efforts appear to fail
When some magic has worked for others
Spiralling in despair
While hiding behind a mask of optimism

And when I do plunge in
I rationalize: is feeling this terror self-loving?
I decide not
Old defenses holding fast

Even now, as I move and feel discomfort
Anxiety wells up
And I immediately look for ways
To avoid it, to quell it, to ignore it

But the gift of anxiety and pain and tremors
Continues to give
More and more intensely
Calling me home

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This Solstice

Have I plumbed the darkness?
Found the secrets in the depths?
Truly felt my sadness and fear and anger?
Do I need to?
Am I ready to stop trying to accept
Trying to surrender
Trying to let go
Trying to find answers
Trying to believe
Trying to be loved
Trying trying trying?
Do I love myself enough?
How much is enough?
Is it enough just to be?

I brandish my sword almost incessantly
At other fleeing moments, it vanishes
And I feel free and it is so clear
That to love and to be is enough

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t
Maybe that’s just another brain crutch
Another butterfly to watch flutter away
Leaving me hollow
But it’s clear that I’ll stay in this searing crucible
Not knowing whether I will fry
Or be fired to a solid form
Not knowing

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Did I create you, my pain?
Although you live with me
And I grew to believe in you
More than I believed in myself

I try to push you away
And love you at the same time
Deciding I need to go through you
And meeting an impenetrable wall

So I step back, sit down and look at this wall
Is it the stuff of ego?
Defining me in a way
I’m willing to die to protect?

Did I create you, my ego?
They say I did
That I made you strong, to keep me alive
But what purpose have you now?

Did I create you, my victimhood?
To tell myself that I’m not at fault
To make sense of something
That has none?

Or is all this a mythology
I grasp onto to lead me to what I seek?
When I don’t know what that is
When I fear I do know what that is

Did I create you, my fear?
There’s that shiver down my spine
It’s you I want to hide from
It’s you that drives the pain
It’s you that builds the wall
It’s you enmeshed with the ego

So how do I let this all go
When I hold on so tight?
Perhaps if I sit with you, my fear
And we look at each other
Look at the wall
Look inside

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Hold on tight, it’s a wild ride
Don’t forget to smell the flowers along the way
Sing songs of sorrow, terror, joy, anger, peace
While the shame melts away to a puddle and evaporates
Leaving uninspiring perfection
Humble wisdom
Knowing nothing

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This took much longer than planned

I sought solace in words
Healing from the sages
Wisdom from mentors
Rescue from the goddesses

Now I stop and lie down
In Rumi’s grassy field
Letting ideas become clouds
Smiling in the gentle breeze

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“Your sadness, your fear, your loneliness, even your despair is so fragile, friend. It can break open at any moment.

A single note in a piece of music can do it. A kind glance from a stranger. The feeling of the spring breeze on your face. A reflection of a bird in flight. In any moment, your sorrow can shatter into nothingness; it has no more reality than that, no more substance than a shadow.

The more you focus on your sorrows and fears, the more you talk about them, analyse them, identify with them, or resist them, the more ‘real’ they seem, the more solid and independent of you they appear to be, the more power they seem to have over something separate called ‘you’.

In searching for a solution to your problems, you create the problem of ‘having problems’ at all.

Be available for the breaking-open of your pain, friend. Do not assume it is here for any longer than a moment. Allow the arrival and passing of all that troubles you, including the very idea of a troubled self.

All this shall pass, remember, all this shall pass.”
~ Jeff Foster

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“Just sitting with discomfort, without trying to escape or numb it in any way, without expectation, without a goal in mind, without seeking anything, including some abstract notion of ‘comfort’ – that’s the juicy place, the place of creative transformation, the place where newness shines.

For many years, I would just sit with grief, frustration, anger, fear, pain, loneliness, just resting in that bubbling, burning mess for hours and hours, without trying to escape or fix my experience, without hope, without a dream, without trying to ‘accept’, without time itself … until peace was discovered even in the midst of that storm, the unshakeable, non-conceptual, ever-present peace that I am, and have always been.

Instead of trying to escape discomfort, we let discomfort reveal its deeper secrets. We sit with discomfort and watch all boundaries between ‘me’ and ‘my discomfort’ melt away, until it is no longer ‘me sitting with my discomfort’ at all, and never was – there is only unspeakable embrace. We sit with frustration in the place where it has not yet coagulated into ‘I am frustrated’. We sit with fear prior to the resurrection of the image ‘I am the one who is afraid’. We sit with anger before the birth of our identity as ‘the angry one’. We know ourselves as the vast open space, the boundless and identity-less ocean that welcomes all of these waves, these raw, alive sensations and thoughts, as its beloved children, returned home at last, home at last.

Discomfort may just be our greatest guru, knocking at the door.”
~ Jeff Foster

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