Feeling Lightness of Heart

I would love to start a complete blog entitled something like,  “Beautiful Things to Make You Feel Good.”

Imagine that:  a whole compilation of beautiful things, ideas, etc., to bring joy into people’s hearts, etc.

Today was a bit of a hard day.  But, there was one thing that made me feel extraordinarily wonderful.

I was listening to something upon first waking up, a kind of audio on the “Insight Timer” app,  and it exhorted me to “… Feel freedom.  Feel a lightness in your heart, a lightness in your body, and know that you are free…”

This incredible idea:  — “A lightness in my heart?”  I thought,  “What on earth does that feel like?”   I could imagine feeling light in my body, but not feeling “lightness” in my heart.    (Maybe warmth of heart… heaviness of heart… but for some reason I could not remember ever feeling “light” of heart)

In any case, I tried then to viscerally feel what it would feel like to feel a lightness in my heart…

And, lo and behold,  what an incredible feeling!  And what an accompanying Memory!  I HAD felt this way before!   

Indeed, it brought me back to when I was in Dharamsala in 2013,  a beautiful town (home of the Dalai Lama, etc.,) in the foothills of the Himalayas (India).

That Lightness of Heart!  That was something I used to feel almost continuously and every day while I was living in India at certain times,  relatively free (studying, not working in a kind of daily grind as a teacher day in, day out).     It brought back that lightness and I felt —  I hoped, I felt, I was sure, that I could get back to there and feel that lightness again.

I hope to be recommitted.  (shall I be committed for writing this post?)    I hope to be recommitted to go back to India and to feel that lightness again.   To get out of the daily grind, and get back to a life of study and writing (more or less) at my own pace.

To be Free (again) is a goal I have.   What a blessing to be reminded, that it is possible to Feel Light of Body and Light at Heart.    Thank you.  


Miracle of Awareness

Reflections on a Quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, teacher of “Mindfulness”:

 it’s the attending itself. We are so seduced by thinking and emotion and we don’t realize that awareness is at least as powerful of a function. It can hold any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic.

That’s where the transformative power lies, that you’re adding a measure of deep introspection and perception to ordinary experience. And then realizing: There is no such thing as ‘ordinary experience.’ Everything is extraordinary.

     This to me is a beautiful quote:Board_Zinn_NEW

We are so seduced by thinking and emotion and we don’t realize that awareness is at least as powerful of a function. It can hold any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic.

And when I read this, It occurs to me that it applies not merely as a simple private act of introspection, but on a larger, inter-human, societal level.

Our society and our lives are so filled with knee-jerk reactions.  With instant hate, instant retribution.

A measure of awareness there, an Awareness that can hold “any emotion, no matter how destructive, any thought, no matter how gigantic” — is the transformative force that allows us to move beyond reactionary-ism and violence.

It is what allows us to see others as human beings too — as lights of consciousness.

When we follow the discourse of (to take a terrifying and unwholesome example), U.S. politics —  When we see that hate and reaction there:  Stop the terrorists, Kill the Bad Guys,  Fight the Other — Ban them, Build the Wall, Fight those bad guys, Stop them all —

And compare it with what some other attitudes —  having a space of forgiveness and inclusivity,  seeing the others as ourselves, embracing those who are different.

It occurs to me that it is this Awareness that is the possibly catalyst — the missing enzyme without with knee-jerk reactions can be transformed — the only way for hearts and minds to change of their own.  (For, as we know, (when we truly reflect and know,) that we cannot change others.  It is just not possible.  That has to come from themselves….)

That all the shouting and argumentation of politics and societies will be but heavy waves of thick viscous liquid smashing on the granite-hard rocks of pre-conceived notions, deep-rooted, long-lived inner beliefs, fears, and identities.

That the only true transformation would be as a baby chick, somehow cracking open these granite rocks from inside.  

Miraculous — that all along there was a Pure Awareness, A glowing baby bird, fully inhabiting that rock, its body extending all the way out to the truly skin-thin walls.  Those walls thin as gossamer and ready to be cracked, should one access the glowing truth that we all are.

After a hard day, in the snow outside, a realization: “Just Give Your Gift”

Invigorated by the brisk walk late at night after a terribly hard and meaningless day at work in the classroom…

I walked out there.. Stay on your purpose.. I saw the trees, the snow…

Stood in the cool air light hail-snow, so light, so thin drops of tiny wet ice, not harmful, but tinkling all around.

And I felt the presence -I was the presence.

Deep inside – that was where I was – that was where I could give my gift from.

I realized that what was important was not to Take Take Take – in fact, you could never benefit from Taking.  You could only Benefit from Giving.  And not really Giving to Others, or For others – not necessarily (although that may be possible).  But more simply, more directly, from resting in your own deepest place – and then Giving what You Had to Give.

Giving from my own Deepest Reserves.

Giving my Own Gift.

If only I could remember this always.

A desire for “Sex” masking a desire for “Love”?

We have all heard about how sex is always the number one thing on the human male brain.

And many of us male human beings can likely corroborate that sex is something of great interest to us.


That said, I have been interested in the last couple of years, in my own experience, in examining the extent to which a seemingly insatiable “desire for sex” may actually be fulfilled or sated by non-sexual love.


That is to say, I have found that when I have been living, for example, in highly loving households or environments — even loving non-sexually — for example houses with good dear friends, or communities with many good dear friends,  that my desire for Sex seems significantly lessened.


Sure, Sex would be great in such situations, and I would likely not refuse it.  But in some of those living situations — such as a wonderful house I lived in with several friends in Vancouver — or at various ashrams in India — where I had for significant bouts of time no sexual partner, it was often not something on my mind in a major way, and I felt quite happy and satisfied with my life.

In other words, I felt that I was getting — and giving — enough Love, and felt no lack in that area.


On the other hand, it tends to be in places where I am living Alone, or in a place that is comparatively “Loveless”, that I feel a strong sexual urge often making itself known.  In the absence of a sexual partner, it would seem to call urgently for a little bit of “personal” action.


So this intrigues me.   It has also been suggested by some theorists, that what is often considered to be the “INSATIABLE” desire for sex that many feel today,  may actually have at its root simply a lack of LOVE in that person’s life.

Even in the absence of SEX, can we be satisfied by LOVE?


This is not to say that Sex is a bad thing (surely, “The world must be peopled” through it, and it can certainly be a beautiful art form),

But just to question whether sometimes our great desire for Sex actually just masks a Desire for LOVE in our lives.



Ayurveda on Napping, Vedanta on Sleep

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian study of medicine, suggests that taking a nap during the day (“daysleep”), is best done under certain conditions.


Ayurveda recommends that napping should not happen on a full stomach.  Better to nap on an empty or semi-empty stomach, and then one wakes up light and fresh.


Ayurveda generally holds that napping is not a problem in the hot summer months or hot weather.  However, it warns against napping during cold seasons, for people of certain constitutions.

Specifically, “Kapha” people should avoid napping during winter months (and frankly, Kapha should avoid napping during summer months as well, unless completely necessary).  As Kapha already has a tendency to slowness, docility, and the risk of lethargy, a nap may exacerbate these traits.


That said, for Vata and Pitta types, naps can be extremely beneficial.


Advaita Vedanta on Sleep 

The Indian non-dualist philosophy of Advaita Vedanta actually holds up “deep sleep” as a particularly important state, in some ways privileging it over the other two states — the waking state and the dreaming state.


This is because, in deep sleep we are “reconnected with our source,” and no longer subject to the illusions of the ego and the external world.


That said, the ideal of Advaita Vedanta, is that one can become cognizant of one’s identity as source, not simply in Deep Sleep (when one is not really cognizant, frankly), but also in the waking state.

That is true liberation, when one can be one with one’s source, and not deluded by the apparent ego or individuality, while awake and alive.


Sages such as Ramana Maharshi are said to have achieved this state — of constant awareness of the True Self.

Living as an HSP or Empath in a Busy Community

1. Carve out your space

HSPs and Empaths easily exchange energy with other people. This can make living in very close quarters, physiologically and energetically difficult.

A dormitory with no dividers or curtains, most HSPs and Empaths will not find to be comfortable or conducive to their well-being. It may well become torture.

I know from my own experience, I have had trying experiences living in dormitories with no dividers.

At the very least, if you are forced into a dormitory atmosphere, put up curtains to at least have some privacy from the gaze of others.

I personally also try to make my own living and sleeping space – even if it is “audibly” communal – that is to say, other people living near me can speak to me, and hear me speak to them – I try to make my space “my own space,” and as a general rule will not talk to people through the curtains or makeshift “walls.” I make it not a conversational space.

This can be either implicit — I just avoid talking to people through the walls, and soon they understand that I keep my time in my own space my own private time — or explicit — if someone persistently tries to speak to me through the curtains, I just let them know, humbly, with love, firmness, and humility, that

“Hi, just to let you know, I am sorry, but I really like to have one private space to myself in the community, and so when I am here in my (bed/sleeping space/personal space), I try to avoid it becoming a social space.”

The person will invariably, at least in my own experience, be totally understanding and supportive of my wishes, when I state them in a humble and truthful way.

I have found that this is most comfortable, as I know that, as not-entirely-private as it may be, at least there is an extent to which when I retreat behind my curtains, it can really be a retreat, into my own personal space.

Living as an HSP and Introvert in a very Busy, Extroverted, Volunteer Community (Sadhana Forest India)

Discovering the literature on Introversion and Highly Sensitive Persons (or “HSPs”), several years ago, helped me to understand many things about my own life. This was very powerful for me, and helped me to understand some of the reasons why I have experienced things the way that I have, and helped clarify many of my life’s experiences.

I hope to write more in depth about my life’s experiences vis-a-vis being highly HSP, an “empath”, and Introvert, in future posts.

Elaine Aron’s website on the Highly Sensitive Person – www.hsperson.com – is a highly informative resource and introduction to the concept of HSP (and the majority of HSP’s (though not all) are also Introverts).

But for those who are Introverts or HSP, or take an interest in these psychological profiles and already know a thing or two about them, I want to talk in this post about some recent personal experiences of my own – namely, in spending three and a half months in what I would characterise as a Highly, Highly, Highly extroverted volunteer community – that said, a very beautiful and purposeful community – working on reforestation in line with certain values of living (such as Veganism, Gift Economy, Non-competition, and Sustainability), operating in Auroville, in the state of Tamil Nadu, South India.

This community is called Sadhana Forest India – and their work resonates quite a bit with some of my own core values (I have been deeply interested in the philosophies of Gift Economy and of Selfless Service, or Seva (Sanskrit), which are core values of Sadhana Forest.)

I would like to share some of my experiences at this community from an HSP and Introverted point of view.

As there are many things to share, perhaps I will begin with the beginning of the day, and work progressively down.

Beginning of the Day – Wake up at 5:30 or 5:45 am, and attend the “Morning Circle”

Morning circle – this is a highly extroverted affair. Imagine being woken up by someone playing a guitar and walking around the community, at 5:30 or 5:45 am (changes seasonally). Then there are 15 to 30 minutes to arrive at a big circle, where the community’s volunteers (ranging from 25 to 70 volunteers during my time there), stand together, stretch, then sing a song or play a game, before breaking for a multitude of hugs, before striding off to the work of the morning (working in the forest, or cooking breakfast, or performing other sevas).

Eventually I learned to skip morning circle. Once I had been at Sadhana for several weeks, I had developed enough of a trust from the long-term volunteers, that they understood that my wishing to not partake in morning circle, was not an expression of laziness or hostility to other volunteers in the community – but rather, to start my morning in my own preferable more calm, peaceful, and personal way, prior to beginning the five hours or so of communal living and work (a work schedule already something rather stressful for an introvert).

Particularly the playing of games, sometimes involving bringing all of these bodies together, first thing in the morning, was something that an HSP or empath, made me feel uncomfortable to immediately wake up to every morning.

These sorts of activities would be highly enlivening and invigorating for Extroverts, who by virtue of their physiological constitution collect their energy from outside and from other people, (and indeed one did notice the great enlivening effect on the extroverts (who constitute an estimated two-thirds to three-quarters of most populations). However, I think introverts, and particularly HSP’s (who tend to often be “empaths,” who subtly pick up on the energy of other human beings, and have the feeling of it imposing on their own energy – will understand the feeling of this being one of the last things they would seek to do to start their day.

Introverts and HSP’s will tend to prefer a more calm and quiet beginning to their day. This particularly applies when there are several hours of – often extroverted – work scheduled before the common lunch.

Other issues:

  • The common meals, noise in the main hut during meals
  • Communal living – living very close together – eg., in the dorms. Solution to this: try and obtain a living space that is at least curtained off, and preferably as secluded as possible.

Another issue is simply being worn down over time. It greatly interests me to think about how over time my stamina and patience, and inner integrity, seemed to be steadily reduced and worn down.

Positives: a great learning experience. Learned to live with people in perhaps a far more intensive way than have ever lived before.

The few moments or times of seclusion were welcomed and appreciated far more.

Also, now that I have left Sadhana (albeit not for ever), I appreciate my own personal time so, so, so much more.