Why Is It So Difficult to Know What You Want?

woman standing by gauzy curtainsIt is said that the greatest guide to living a prosperous, happy life of love is to listen to your heart.

Just follow its guidance and you’ll be all set. At least that is the conventional wisdom that drives us to eschew the ordinary life and set off on the road less traveled.

And yet … there seems to be a design flaw.

I don’t know about you, but I have one hell of a time hearing my heart. I know its wisdom is back there somewhere. But it’s lodged behind the ranting of my incessant, worried mind, a million to-do’s, and a cacophony of mid-life emotions.

It’s also buried behind the subtle over-layer of apps, texts, emails, phone calls, appointments, traffic jams, calories, doctor appointments, instant messages, chats, whether to eat chocolate or not, and the frenetic microcosm of social media.

Bottom line: I can’t frigging hear my heart!

And yet … I know if I just stop and listen, like really stop and listen, I can hear it.

The fact is I don’t want to listen.

My heart will tell me that my constant ‘doing’ must end. That I must be willing to let go and hang out with the mystery of life for a while. If I really want to feel my feelings, I must stop being so busy-busy-busy.

My heart will say that far more urgent than anything on my ‘must do’ list is my own – our own – continued healing.

Many of us are all in a state of subtle emergency most of the time. But we proceed as if this is the human condition. And yet … it’s not.

Underneath all the furor of modern life, we are calmly rational. Furthermore, we know exactly what to do at any given moment. In fact, our nervous system is always ready to chime in with its intuitive hit to set us straight. But really … we just can’t bear to hear it.

Then change might be required. Change for which we feel ill prepared. Change that might lead us to failure.

At least that’s what the ego thinks in its protective, if misguided way.

So it is that we hang out there in vagueness … longing for something but unable to say exactly what.

So I have been quietly learning that I have no choice. If I want to be happy, I have to follow the directions of my heart whether I like it or not. Really, my heart’s the only sane driver on board.

Because when I slow down long enough to listen, life calms down. Then my faith returns and I remember I’m not alone. Instantly, I feel stronger, wiser. And somehow, I know what to do.

Bear in mind this: your heart will not ever try to set you off course. Nor will your heart ever try to hurt another. Instead, it only wants to lovingly steer you onward to become your best, every day.

That’s all that happens when you make enough time, and create enough peace, to finally listen.

What is your heart trying to tell you today that you may be avoiding?

Tapping Into the Joy of Life — A Word From Teal

Photo: Britt Nielsen

Photo: Britt Nielsen

This is the week each year when I celebrate, and grieve, the loss of my daughter, Teal. Four years ago she died from a medically unexplainable cardiac arrest … and since then she’s been anything but quiet.

So my entire perspective about both life and death have shifted radically. I no longer fear other people, or face the world with my tough-girl game face of intimidation. Instead, I’m far more interested in fun.

No longer must I know how everything will come out, or ‘work hard’ to micromanage and coerce results.Turns out I don’t have to grip and hold on to be safe.

Instead I’m learning to tap into the gorgeous flow that surrounds us, and ride the undulating waves of life with unexpected ease. And to accept what comes as necessary and important.

So I just surf – and when I fall off, and get sidetracked into some unpleasant emotional experience, I do my best to shake myself off, get back on the board and … ride! It’s a practice. And that’s the other thing — I don’t have to do it perfectly.

And so life has become fun again. Even death isn’t a particularly big deal any more.

When the worst thing that can possibly happen comes to pass, you discover an unexpected sweetness on the other side of that crisis. A transformation comes that makes your entire life far better.

If you allow it.

This morning I felt Teal around me, speaking into that small, still space between sleep and waking. It’s the very same space we heard a lecture about only a few hours before her collapse … the ethereal passageway that shamans travel in between the afterlife and our world.

And so I received a message from her that I am meant to share with you here.

Do not judge death with the same limited mind that barely learns or understands the potential in life.

You feel that potential sometimes in life’s magic – the touch of a lover’s hand, the triumph of a long-cherished dream. Or in the laughter of a child.

But you are afraid of that power and so you hang back.

Do not hang back. Instead, become quieter and quieter until you are fully suffused with the power and majesty of God who lives inside of you.

Then let go. Do what you want. Allow yourself to truly feel your own deep, soaring magnificence.

The full, God-given gift of life is available to those who do not fear death. For loss is only temporary, a fleeting stab of pain.

Namaste!

How I Finally Learned to Open My Heart

Some yestrawberry heartars ago a psychic in Key West, FL told me something I’m only just now beginning to understand.

As I sat there in front of her, in a darkened room all full of incense, she intoned: “You’ll have the success you want, Suzanne… but only when you open your heart.”

I wasn’t sure what this meant, exactly, but I did what any good self-help devotee would do. I set out to crack the code on what ‘opening your heart’ meant.

My first stop was the aromatherapy store, where I spent a good hour sniffing this and that until I’d whipped up my own little brew designed to split open a congested heart chakra. (Mind you, I had no idea what I was doing, but this did seem like the place to start.)

Then I headed over to my friend, Mary, the Oriental Medicine Woman. Mary listened to me quite seriously when I requested she set lots of needles that would open my heart. After the third treatment, she gingerly asked how it was going.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Well, what would ‘opening your heart’ be like?” she asked.

Again, I could not answer. Meanwhile, a nightly application of my heart chakra oil was giving me nothing but a greasy, rose-scented chest. Ultimately, I forgot about opening my heart as the whirlwind of life sucked me on toward the next endeavor.

Then one night I sat up in bed, suddenly aware of exactly what opening my heart really means. At the time it meant working extremely hard on my passion, and investing time, money, and energy in getting it out there. And it meant facing down fear, and being uncomfortable, and having the courage to truly share myself with others.

I thought I knew this already from leading my first workshop. During the weeks that I created it, I was racked with doubt; I had to keep making one uncomfortable phone call after another. Yet, when that first day was over, we all seemed to be floating a few feet above the ground.

For the first time I saw how I had really moved people. The feeling was one of deep, intimate connection with others. It was profound and unforgettable.

Now, decades later, ‘opening your heart’ has come to mean something else, yet again.

In the first few years after losing my daughter, it meant having the courage not to work incessantly, but instead to become to very still and focus on feeling. To let my own grief well up inside until it found its way out into the broad daylight. And to let myself have the luxury of many a good, long cry.

Then as my grief receded and I returned to the swing of life, I found opening my heart meant tuning in to the people around me. So I learned not do to my work not for the sake of success and ambition … but for the sake of love.

In this way I have found my way back to empathy, and true forgiveness – a deep, deep place of surrender, humility and grace. Over the last few years I learned, for instance, to really forgive my mother. To finally let that poor woman, as flawed as she was, off the hook.

I have also learned to cut myself a break as well. No longer do I have to do everything perfectly. Nor must I intimidate or impress people with my toughness, and my professional valor. I don’t even need to run from every person I fear or even disagree with.

Instead, these days I can be soft and gentle. I can listen to others, and I can comfort myself. I can tune into my needs and make requests. When I do this … it turns out the world is a pretty wonderful place.

In forgiving the world, I have learned to forgive myself, as well. And so I dissolve into love.

This is the love that waits, like a pool in our heart, for us to come swim in its bliss. And it is nothing more than our own shimmering, endless sea of bounty.

You have it and I have it.

Turns out this is the gold that awaits when we open our heart.

Go within to find your own place of letting go. What or who holds you fast in resentment, anger, chaos or confusion? What is the decision you made that you cannot forgive yourself for?

What is the loss you cannot face? What is the choice that will set you free?

Perhaps not today, but soon, you will find yourself releasing the bonds that hold you fast so you, too, may swim in the sea of bliss.

The water’s fine … I encourage you to dive in!