In Darkness there is Light.

     I am coming to terms with the fact that every thought, word, and action is a product of my own free will. Nobody else can be blamed when I feel powerless or self-critical. All experiences are ones I have chosen, even the ones that seemed difficult at the time. And yet, as I come out the other side, and look back on those experiences, I have a clearer perspective of why I chose to experience an obstacle, which is only an opportunity in disguise. With true perspective, things fall into place and I can fully understand why I had to go through the motions, why I attracted similar situations in various forms until I learned the lesson I needed to learn.

     In the past, I was fearful of showing my true self and my true power. I always had the fundamental sense that nobody would understand the intricacies and depths of my being. I also failed to acknowledge that the relationships and situations in which I found myself were of my making and only my making. In my unclear state of mind, I thought I was powerless, that things were happening to me, as if I were a puppet with no real control. However, this was a grave misunderstanding. It became clear to me after realizing that I was attracting types of people into my life who mirrored how I felt inside, time after time. It was not a mistake. I attracted people with no sense of life purpose, those who drifted along, fulfilling some physical gratification then moving on to the next. I entangled myself with people of questionable moral character or lack of any values at all. These people, who I called my friends, mirrored my own low vibrational pattern, because, though I did not realize it consciously, I felt unworthy of true happiness. And yet, throughout the ordeals that I chose to experience, I knew I deserved something better, a spiritually guided life.

     In the past, I never thought of myself as a spiritual being. That was how disconnected I had become. However, there still remained an inner guidance, an inner knowing. A still, small, loving voice that helped me find the light. My life was not working for me, so I raised my vibration through yoga, meditation, self-inquiry, and ecstatic hoop dancing. I let go of the low vibrational tendencies I had acquired, like self-criticism and lack of self-worth. I surrendered the inauthentic, toxic relationships in my life and learned how to breathe deeply. When I embraced my power and authenticity, I no longer needed forces outside of myself to feel validation. Now, I would rather stand alone in my values and truth than be led astray by the faulty, mutable judgements of others. I choose to listen to my heart. My parents always told me to be a leader, not a follower. In the past, I allowed myself to blindly follow others until I realized it was not who I was. By raising my energetic vibration, I discovered the calm within the storm, the peace and serenity of the stillness of my being.

Artwork by Audrey Kawasaki.

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Stop seeking happiness.

     Perhaps the quest for true happiness is being done backwards. This seems counter-intuitive, yes? Happiness is not something far off in the future, that we can arrive at one day once we’ve fulfilled our goals in life. It is now. As taught in the Zen Buddhist tradition, once one seeks to obtain Enlightenment, it is out of her grasp. Happiness, truth, and enlightenment are not objects to be coveted and obtained. These things are subtle, intangible, indescribable. Happiness may mean something different to each individual, but when we look past the physical reality and instead look toward Universal Happiness and Truth, it is the same. It is Infinite Love. However, once one tries to think about these things or label them with words or categories, a separation has occurred. It is here that language falls short.

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     As I writer, I do my best to vividly capture the essence of my experience, to make it come alive and to communicate the truths I hold to be real. And yet, no matter how thoughtful or descriptive I am with the written word, it will not come near the experience itself. This is the nature of reality and the nature of language. Truth, happiness, and love cannot be captured by words, but must be directly experienced. My writing, however, serves the purpose to be a guide for others, to lead others to directly experience truth, love, and bliss. The only key here, is to stop looking. Let bliss wash over you in your daily experience. Be fully immersed in the experience, whatever it is, whatever is going on now. This is the essence of Zen, to realize that bliss, truth, happiness, and awareness are here now. In meditation or in nature, as one bends down to touch the earth, and feels the moist droplets of water on a blade of grass. Walking along and noticing, in awe, as a delicate butterfly crosses one’s path, lays for a moment on a flower, and flutters away. Bliss is taking a breath, washing the dishes, walking, and performing mundane daily tasks. In gratitude and in love, it can be discovered, uncovered like a treasure that was there all along, if we only stop long enough to immerse ourselves in the present moment and fully realize it. If you seek happiness and truth, it will elude you, because it is not an object to be desired and obtained. It is not ours to grasp or to hold, but to experience in the present moment, for there is no other time. 

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Devotion to Bliss.

     Bliss is doing more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Bliss can be found in our everyday experience, such as taking beautiful walks in nature to get out of your head and into your body, appreciating the rich sensorial experience of birds chirping, small insects buzzing, the calm serenity of leaning against a tree and the sunshine softly warming your face. Noticing the smallest creature or the brightness of the sky or a fresh breeze of air on uncovered skin. This is the heart of Zen, to be fully present and to appreciate life as it is, without desire to change or control it in some way.

     Nature is grounding, healing, and balancing. Simply, it makes me happy and I am committing to spending more time outside and less time indoors. I can feel when my flow is off, and it is during those times when I neglect to fully commit to my yoga practice, or spend too much time inside dwelling in the dark corners of the mind. Getting grounded by yoga or spending time outside allows me to calibrate myself in a sense, to return to a space of balance and gratitude. When I feel off, or not in the flow of life, I don’t treat myself with the full love and attention I deserve, and that can quickly turn into a negative spiral of fear and self-criticism. When I devote myself to doing those things which light my spirit up, I feel lighter. I feel expansive, creative, energized, playful, joyful, connected, and completely blissed out.

Today, and every day, do whatever it is that allows you to bliss out.