On Love

What is love?

“In recognizing that you’re here only to love, you realize that as long as you do that, you’re already a success. And love doesn’t have to be something grand. As Mother Teresa said, ‘There are no great deeds; there are just small deeds done with great love….The point isn’t just what you give when you love, but also what you open yourself to receive. As you send out love, the universe will send love back.’” – Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles

I think it took me a long time to grasp that love doesn’t cause pain.

And it took me a long time to realize that love doesn’t ask me to sacrifice who I am.

Love – in the pure, divine sense of that word – is unconditional and loves you back. It doesn’t make you smaller. It doesn’t contract your world. This love expands your world.

Love is contained in the small gestures as much as in the big pronouncements. In the context of a romantic relationship, I have come to recognize that I much prefer (and trust) love in the form of regular, reliable and consistent acts of consideration and kindness than the occasional and dramatic gestures. To me, it’s the difference between being given flowers on a random day because someone is thinking of you and want to express appreciation and love versus being given flowers because of some holiday when flowers are expected.

Of course, the love that is referred to in the Marianne Williamson quote above is about a much bigger, deeper love than romantic love. It is love in the fuller, more expansive sense of the word – love beyond that which exists between two individuals (or a family), love that speaks to the human condition, love that is the divine. That love transforms, heals, and contributes to making the world a better place.

To be in the flow of love, to be a being of love, an ambassador of that bigger love – that love has as much to do with how I carry myself in the world (what I think, how I act, the decisions I make, how I express myself, how I conduct myself when I interact with strangers) as how I relate to those close to me. And to embrace that kind of love means that every moment of every day is an opportunity to give and receive love.  

How are you showing up as a being of love?

Work From a Place of Authenticity

“Something in us knows that we are not just here to toil at our work.” – Jack Kornfield

Do you find your daily schedule packed with work-related activities and all the things you “should” do?  Are your identity and self-worth dependent on how much you work, how closely you adhere to the way you are supposed to be?

After long long days (weeks, months, even years) of working to the point of exhaustion, do you ever find yourself wondering, “Is that all there is to this life?”

I have found myself at those points too many times.  And I am grateful that each time I have found my way out with new insights about myself and my growth.

Looking back, I have noticed that it is when I have lost my connection to the greater purpose of my being that hours spent working becomes draining and pointless.  Sure, working to pay the bills is important and necessary.  Yet that is not enough.  Our existence has to be about more than just getting up, slogging through the day and putting in the hours to get a paycheck so that we can then pay someone else.

I find such a significant difference in my energy and attitude as well as the results of my efforts when I act from a deeper knowing. From the outside the actions may look the same and yet the internal experience is vastly different.  It’s a lot like when I practice yoga as a form of offering, as a moving meditation, as an expression of my inner being versus when I practice mindlessly and just making my way through the poses, looking at the clock and counting the minutes until I would be done.

In my business it is the difference between having a soul-less conversation with someone and just focusing on them as a potential client when we meet at an open house versus having a meaningful engagement with someone and interacting from a place of service. From the outside, it may look like I am having the same conversation and yet my experience of the interaction is dramatically different: the former is depressing, deflating and an energy drain whereas the latter approach is much more authentic, energizing, enlivening and purposeful.

The tricky part, sometimes, is that when people walk into an open house, they’re not always energetically open to having that kind of exchange with me.  My job, and this is effortless when I am strongly connected with my inner self, is to hold that space for those who are open to it so that we may have the meaningful exchange.  Just because we are talking about the number of bedrooms, the square footage, the functionality of the fireplace, etc. does not mean that I have to hide my inner self.  It would not be authentic for me to not allow my spirit to come through.

I used to think that when I was in my real estate mode, I had to send my yoga self off to a separate room.  It was as if I was playing dress up and I would put on my real estate mask to cover up my yoga self.  And that was not authentic.  And it made me feel horrible.  Not to mention bad for business (would you want to work with someone whom your gut could tell was not being completely real and authentic?).  I now realize that my yoga self and my real estate self can and need to co-exist, to show up together if I am to operate as an authentic and whole human being.  As much as I know that, there still are days when it’s a little scary to be so open.  Being authentic can feel a bit scary because it requires us to be vulnerable.  And yet, it’s totally worth.

Why waste time and energy on anything less than the authentic?

Many Paths to the Divine

A colleague recently mentioned how stressed he was and how much he wanted to learn meditation because he had heard it would help with stress management.  And that conversation got me thinking about how often we look outside for answers.  On the one hand, I know that we are Truth, we are Light, we are Love.  I know that simply connecting with breath may be all that I need to find peace and connection with spirit.  And yet I also know that I sometimes forget or lose my way and it is through the guidance of teachers that I find my way back to my own knowing.  I guess it’s about being open to both the possibility of finding our way in to experiencing the divine on our own and recognizing that, sometimes, finding the teacher guides along the way is the path through which we come to connect with and experience the divine.

I love this reminder from Jack Kornfield as to how there are many different ways in which we may awaken to spirit.  In After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, he writes “We can go to India or Jerusalem – and some of the most magical stories…might have us believe that this is the way a spiritual life must begin.  But it also begins in a moment of gardening, in the simple act of returning home after a voyage and seeing it fresh, in the touch of an inspired piece of music, a poem’s song, the flight of a bird.  Every pair of eyes we look into can become the eyes of the Beloved.”

New Beginnings

The number one is often associated with new beginnings and this being November 11 (11.11) I got to thinking: what new journey, what next step, what new path am I embarking on and supporting?

Something about it being Monday and all those ones are inspiring me to take new, more focused, deliberate and directed action towards creating the life I want.  I find it interesting that I had just completed a specific 40-day meditation cycle yesterday and am starting a new one today.  And to tend to the practical, this-life-in-this-dimension-on-this-earth-reality, I’m spending the morning in a business planning workshop to map out my goals for 2014.

So there’s new beginnings, planning and envisioning on the spiritual level and the physical level.  My goal as I continue to grow and evolve in my personal practices is to be more consistently connected to my embodiment so that my inner self and my outer self are more fully integrated.  Yoga taught me how tending to my body can help clear my mind.  My physical body is the home for my spirit.  So perhaps it is not surprising that now, as a real estate professional, I view houses as the structure for housing the physical body and how they support the spirit.  My personal experience is that, just as there are certain practices that are more suited for different physical bodies as they move through their transformation, certain physical spaces are more supportive than others of that journey of personal transformation.

If you were free to pursue your passion, what would you do?  What is stopping you?  What ONE thing can you do to begin incorporating more of that passion into your life, beginning today?