breath

an intimate hush*

janae

I can't stop lingering at this image of my friend.  Its is from a video she sent me this morning through text.  I took a screen capture and sent it to her and wrote "look at you...".  I wanted her to see the peace in her breath, in this moment when she paused, closed her eyes, inhaled slowly, exhaled slowly and allowed a tender hush between her and my witness of her.

I loved so much this gift and the mirror this holy wholly moment was for me, that I asked her if she felt comfortable with me sharing it here with all of you.  This was her response...

"Yes. Use it because it is intimate and there is no reason to avoid the intimate giving.  All that matters is intimate.  And all that matters makes us free".

I am ever so grateful for the gentle souls that are surrounding me and my boys these days.  For my friends and family members that understand how difficult it is for me to talk on the phone, not only because of Cedar's sensitivity to frequencies and how they make him melt down but also my own sensitivity of balancing being on the phone with noise around me and how it hurts my head too and its hard to be present.  They know it won't always be like this as we work with Cedar through therapy but even if it was, I feel their acceptance, unconditional love and embracing of our needs.  I love the videos and texts, emails and voice memos from my loves that are sent my way...to stay connected and close, without expectation.  I love the patience with needing to set up phone dates when I am alone, parked in front of the sea or even the grocery store...just me and them, without distraction.  Just writing this brings me to tears because of the love and honoring this brings into our life.

And then there are moments like this and this image of Janae (above) and how sometimes when words are not enough and its hard to not be close in the physical, that even through a video, she can allow herself pause and gaze, slow breath and connection to the love that we feel for each other.  And the fact that its enough for her?  Well, that feels so safe and free and is a gentle guide towards opening myself up and trusting deeper.

let the quiet...

quietme

"...let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be." ~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A dear friend sent this quote to me yesterday. Its as if reading it gave me permission to be okay with my quiet. Most days I have a lot to say, a lot to share but most times words do not adequately express. So I'm embracing the quiet of my days. The need for less words. The welcoming of gazes and sighs, of touch and holding, of lingering and breath.

In our culture, we are so accustom to needing to fill spaces with words. I know in my life, mostly in my writings, I fill fill fill...so many words and yet when in the flesh, I am drawn to quiet. I am drawn to sitting back and soaking in the feeling of the moment, the essence.

When I feel utterly safe with someone, they experience my comfort with quiet. I have surrounded myself with souls I feel safe with the last few years and there is much more quiet and pause in my life and in theirs.

So here is a gaze for you...the utter peace and light I felt in this moment as I captured this image of myself. I needn't share all the reasons I arrived at this place of peace. Can you just see it in me? Sigh. Yes.

What does quiet feel like for you?

silences*

I'm sitting here at the coffee shop listening to the most beautiful, soulful, haunting and heart-ache-full classical music. I wish I knew the composer. I'll ask when it quiets down. The music led me to these images and so I share them with you here. I have no words. They were emptied when the music started. I am accepting that its okay I have no words. Lately I've been drawn to the feeling in between, before and after words come. The deep breaths and pauses and gazes and long sighs. These silences are where my heart pulses with soul. And they feel enough.

I wonder what story these images tell you...

The Secret Life of Darkness*

art above is a beautiful gift from rain, created by messycanvas

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb tonight.

The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.

You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn

anything or anyone that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ David Whyte ~ (House of Belonging)

I am so grateful to this beautiful soul in my life. For offering this quote by David Whyte at a time when I needed to meet these words and this truth.

Ahhh. The idea that the cocoon, the darkness I have surrendered to the past few years has been a WOMB shifted everything for me.

Moving to the Pacific Northwest meant a new beginning for me in many layered ways. I chose this as a time to strip myself slowly of that which didn't bring me life and the figuring out of why it didn't and what truly does bring life was a unexpectedly painful process. My pulling back and peeling layers was nothing personal to anyone or anything. It was all me and my own soul work, all inward and inner. My intentions were to live more in the present, in the flesh and learn to not rely so deeply on online connections for attention, validation, and ego strokes. To relearn how to feel LOVED and worthy and purposeful in my silence. It was full of ache and loneliness. It almost felt like a detox of sorts. Yet it was also very FREEing to create and honor such a simplicity around me. I know this type of lone-quest is not for everyone, nor needed by everyone. It was just what it took for an empath like me to hush the noise and be naked and pure about my choices. To live intentionally, inspired by my own intentions and not influenced by others feelings about me or outside of me. I was quiet and nourished in this womb and the rebirthing process is beginning. I am surfacing with a deeper awareness of boundaries needed to protect my heart and what surrounds me and my family and acceptance of my sensitivities and needs and those of my family. Acceptance of self. Oh, that's a big one for me.

These words specifically from David Whyte spoke to it all for me; "Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn..."

Sigh. Yes, oh yes. My aloneness. My quest of unbelonging, which is leading me to my belonging.

I am forever grateful to those that stood near me in my silence, who saw the vastness of my heart and met me in my own quiet, along with their own quiet, each in our own wombs, aware of the other but with no expectations. This woman below is one of them.

My soul-friend Rain, wrote these words for me, for all of you, may you soak them in and let them marinate as a New Year begins:

***********

all images by rain

Winter's dark casts long shadows over a reluctant dawn. I am soaked in laconic light. I write these words within days of December's solstice, always grateful for year's end, this quiet space for reflection and closure. The past twelve months have been my own kind of (soul)stice, the gift of one long, dark night designed to heal me from what I always feared most.

That's what darkness has become for me. Healing.

We are conditioned to consider darkness as something to run from. To avoid. We think of it as the opposite of light, in terms of good versus evil, or horror versus bliss. I grew up with a crippling kind of Dark in the form of deep, abiding fear. At a very young age it became the bread I tasted, the water flooding my cells, the breath I inhaled and held. Fear of God and man. Fear of myself. My future. Fear of the wayward longings of my heart and even my heart itself. It was the kind of fear, I wrote once, that picks apart everything sacred and beautiful until nothing holy remains.

Our life history shapes what darkness means. Our stories shape what haunts us. But darkness doesn't have to be scary, and when reach the end of all we know, perhaps the end of ourselves, we discover the most surprising thing of all: that this darkness? The vast unknown? Everything we're frightened of, the thing we construct our lives around to avoid?

All. Gift.

Let the sun fall in your cupped hand. Today be only this: the thing that holds the light. ~ Shawnacy Kiker

My humble, gentle, you-can-do-this secret

The truth is, all life begins in the dark.

What is a cocoon, but a dark place of protection, safety, and transformation?

What is solstice, but a place of reflection and rest?

What is the earth, but a dark place for germination of seed?

All darkness is a womb if we allow it to be. And what is a womb, but a hollow space for light?

What healed me from fear also healed my heart from an intensely negative concept of darkness. It became a brilliant invitation to my own awakening, and I? Witness to my own birth. You can do this too, love. I will tell you how:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Exhale.
  • Gather moonlight and spirit. We all need a little magic.
  • Nourish your heart with the bread of comm(unity).
  • Pack the hollow spaces in your bones with deep, divine Love.
  • Drench your cells with the water of life.
  • Your guides are Truth and Spirit but the journey is yours alone. Kiss your feet, place your soles on the earth. Let your toes become alive.
  • Go there.
  • Yes, there.
  • Go. There.

Whatever it is you fear most, whatever your darkness means to you, whatever haunts you and desperately needs healing, move directly into it.

You can do this. You are stronger than you know. Life is on the other side.

Everything you want

is on the other side of fear.

George Addair

I chose unafraid as my word for 2012 and it was only when I embraced for the first time my reality of fear did I begin the arduous yet hopeful task of healing it. Because, truthfully? Fear means this matters. Fear says, this is meaningful to your deepest self. Fear is a wise old woman who knows us better than we know ourselves and who can help guide us home. She tells us, wherever I am, dig deep here. Right here. This is where you need to be. Pay attention. Fear is like an internal systems analyst adjusting her heavy black framed glasses and speaking soft through bold red lips: darling, this is really really really important and you are dizzy and sick because the whole universe of you hangs by a tender silver thread and anyone could come by and whisk it away like they were brushing a spider web off their face. It is that vulnerable.

And when fear's panicked fury subsides and we take deep, shaky breaths, when we bravely melt into the shuddering silence after a storm, this is when we discover something new and wholly unexpected: we find, all along the dark and pummeled seashore of our tender earth-selves, the most radiant, moon-holy of pearls. Rain-soaked and gleaming.

But before we can find them, we must listen.

Darkness is the most sacred portal to life. To become vibrantly alive, leaping from a flat page of black and white into a world of vivid color ~ colors we can taste, breathe, savor ~ we must listen to the secrets of darkness. Remember this, the next time you look around and see no light.

For what is faith, but a journey through the dark?

And I promise you, love, that the day will come. You will, in the words of Rilke, break into being. In the words of a dear friend and favorite poet, that day will come, when

the fear-voice grows small like an echo or a photograph from atop a distant hill 50 years ago,

and when the joy, and the life voice grow strong and near and full of strange woven music - turbulent and prophetic.

from Anthem, by Shawnacy Kiker

Fear, like darkness, has a quiet voice, a grown up kind. And our darkness has something to say, all whispery with promises and barely there:

Honey, can you hold on?

Because if you sit with me a while, I will teach you something sacred.

asking for what we need*

Yesterday, Cedar whispered to me that he needed quiet but wanted me to join him. So we tip toed upstairs and I tucked him into our bed. I laid near him just marinating in the quiet. The shifting rhythm of the holidays has been a lot for him, for all of us. Us visiting family, family visiting us, the house transformed into sparkly twinkle newness. This transition and this shifting, this "change" that this holiday brings is something I am more aware of than I have ever been in my life.

A dear friend of mine has reminded me the importance of asking for what you need and that can be done in so many ways. Just the awareness of our needs alone is a journey in and of itself. Cedar has been a reminder...sometimes fierce reminder, sometimes a gentle one: of how important it is to simply ask. Whether its a howl or a whisper...to just ask for what we need. I need quiet. I need alone time. I need the lights off. I need to be held. I need less talking across the table. All things Cedar has learned to ask for. All things I am remembering that I need too. And even if I am unable to have those things in the moment I need them, just knowing I need them alone gives me permission to be gentler on myself and others.

"is this life bringing?"

the beloved  rain .

the beloved rain.

The last few weeks with our move, unpacking, settling in, my sisters visit and how full we kept every single hour of her time here with us, I haven't had much time to venture online.  Its been so very long since I've peeked into the hills and valleys of the internets (that word makes me giggle) and what waves of deep wisdom, insight and inspiration are flowing through.  This morning I had a bit of quiet time to myself, unexpectedly so.  I woke up earlier than usual and tip toed downstairs (which is not an easy feat given our very old stairs crackle SO LOUD).  I poured my sacred cup of coffee and snuggled up near the fire and wiped the dust off of my laptop before I opened the door to Narnia.

Mmmm...oh how the softness and simplicity I am wanting so deeply to manifest in my life can easily become overwhelmed with the energies flowing around in the virtual space that sits on my lap and beyond.  Oh how loud it can feel at times in the midst of my quieter spirit and voice.  It is just the space I am in. Right now I am so hyper aware and conscious of how I process these voices.  I know deeply that it is all about me and a process I am going through.  Its not about anyone else or anything else but just what I am needing in my life, how I am wanting to offer love and receive love, how I am yearning to tell my story in a way that feels true to my own heart.  Embracing my slower, quieter way of being and sharing in the midst of a faster and fiercer realm.  It is so many things, really and I know it is my own path to walk.  My own journey to find a place in the midst of it all.  My journey to surrender to and embrace the tenderness, mercy, humility, authenticity and gentle warrioress-ness that my heart beats to.

So often when doubts begin to rush in and I need to feel not alone and to be understood and seen, I seek wisdom from my dear friend Rain (shown in image above).  This morning she shared with me a question she often asks herself when doubt enters in; "Is this life bringing?"  Mmmmm...yes, oh yes...that resonated so deeply.  What is it, who is it...that brings me life?  It reminds me so much of something my sister once asked of me because she knows I am a very FEELing person. "Check in with how you feel in this moment, how your heart is beating, keep note of when you feel peace and when you do not, when you feel anxiousness and when you feel ease."

These questions help bring me back to center when moments begin to feel cloudy or noisy and it is hard to hear my own voice and feel my own heart.  THAT is the very space I am allowing myself to be in right now.  A space of quiet so that I can hear deeper as I am so sensitive to others thoughts and emotions, mine so often become lost to me.

Rain sent this to me today and it is an exercise that created such a peace in my heart and helped me come to a place of knowing much sooner than usual.  It is something I want to paint on my wall with the most beautiful handwriting.  It is something I want to share with all of you.  I hope you spend more time on her website.  She is so true blue and uniquely her.  I am grateful for this exercise she wrote...

The Soul Journey

rain2

1. Take a deep breath.

That’s it. Breathe deep, as deep as you can, and before you let it out long and slow, I want you to hold your breath. Just for a moment. Hold it for a heartbeat. You can even close your eyes.

That suspension? The quiet place of in-between?

That is where you begin.

Life begins and ends with breath. We forget to breathe and lose our way, but we can always come home to that quiet place. We gain composure and find rest and strength in its steady rhythm. As you breathe, imagine pulling life-nectar up, up out of the deepest parts of your stomach and drawing it, with intention, into your lungs. After you feel your lungs expand, exhale all goodness and healing into the world, and begin again. Breathe without ceasing. Let this become your prayer.

No matter where you are, you can always begin again with breath.

{And this is grace.}

2. Become aware.

As you incorporate patterns of slow, deep, and steady breathing, begin to feel yourself rippling outwards, like water, from your center. Your center holds the core of you, your essence. This is where you commune with God. Your energy is rooted here, your intuition and instinct, and your own sacred presence.

With each rippling, ask yourself things like:How do I feel in my body right now? When I breathe, what do I taste in my mouth? What do I see around me? What is happening in my space? You can start with whatever immediately surrounds you, like the way air feels on your bare skin (cold? sharp? gentle? nurturing?) or how your favorite coffee mug feels in your hand (is it earthy, or slim and sleek? Does its smooth porcelain rim invite caressing?) and work outwards. Practicing this awareness is like gently rousing a sleeping loved one.

Remember: you can breathe slow, steady rhythms, even in chaos. And as you breathe, become aware of all that surrounds you. This awareness precedes your awakening.

3. Awaken.

Sometimes we don’t know that we’re not awake, and we stumble around in circles fighting the same old things, over and over, for years. It is important to awaken gently. Will you go to a mirror for me right now? As you face your reflection, what do you see?

For this next step, and for the rest of your life, I want you to begin seeing yourself as Soul. You are not what you see in the mirror; your skin and hair and wrinkles and lusciousness ~ the curves that aren’t where they are supposed to be, and the extra curves which don’t belong ~ this is the glorious vehicle which carries your soul as you sojourn on earth.

And the beautiful thing about this? As you ripple and flow outwards, you will begin to see others as souls, too. Your children? Eternal souls poured into skin that looks like yours, with perhaps a little more energy, but ageless just the same. Your lover? Sacred, multifaceted soul matched to the sacred multi-facets of yours. Your loud neighbor? The alcoholic? The addict?

The world is full of Souls who forget they are.

Remember: your adventure is to come alive. And your shimmering spirit will cause others to hunger for a life essence like yours; you will ignite and inspire, and through being, you will draw others to life, maybe for the very first time.

This labyrinth doesn’t end, really. This means there will always be deep mysteries for the uncovering and places to rest along the way. As you go, keep in mind this secret of mine which will help you make wise choices. You can use this in everything—how to feed your body, the vehicle for your soul; what relationships to invite close, how you spend your time.

Sufi poet Rumi teaches, Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When you can suspend thoughts of condemnation or judgment and be present in your body, you will know what is right for you. And in this place of being, ask yourself—regarding any situation—"Is this life-bringing? Does this bring life to me?"

Whatever is right for you, whatever is the way for you, will always bring life.

love,
Hillary Rain