Monday, October 7, 2013

Wildflower Love

By: Kyle Elden

Love, the untamable
the greatest wildflower
of the human heart
springs forth unexpected
sometimes a bit crooked and tattered but
beautiful burst of vibrant yellow, flame of orange petals
open, and open and open, day after day
again and again, and comes
year after year after year
responding after darkness
by the light, by the world, by the tender
truest love of another

To wed does not tame love
does not keep it in its place
does not shape or manicure
some type of perfect species
of color, of petal, of unwavering
happily ever after, or endless summer

To wed is a promise
to remember this seed, this love
the greatest wildflower of your hearts
that has sprung up
and learn to open, to return, to arrive
for one another
day after day, again and again, year after year
allow yourselves to respond like this after darkness
to be touched by the light, by the world
and by the tender truest love of one another

Remember this unique and beautiful species
of your love
sprung up in this field of your life
and adore the imperfect, but perfectly yours
beautiful burst of vibrant yellow, flame of orange petals
faces of one another
for always

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waking Up

By: Kyle Elden

Do you ever run into the feeling that you aren’t reaching your potential? That perhaps there are some default habits or behaviors in your life that continue to keep you stuck in unhappiness? Or, that there is this thing in life that needs to change, a step you could take, this something you have to offer the world but you are too afraid or lazy or (fill in the blank)….Even if it’s just offering the world your best, most kind, most honest self each day, that’s a pretty spectacular existence.

I’ve been reading a lot about HAPPINESS and reaffirming the reality that true happiness doesn’t come from anything external, but rather is a conscious choice to realize the million ways life is good every moment of every day in spite of difficulty and imperfection. That happiness doesn’t magically just show up, come for good, unpack all the party bags, turn up the bumpin’ music, and roll out the red carpet in your living room so you can trot along your life with fanfare knowing you are awesome, sexy, lovable, perfect and finally, downright H-A-P-P-Y. It’s not a math equation: If/ when (X) happens, then (Y) = HAPPINESS! If I finally get the job, the house, have more money, get married, have a baby, lose weight. If, everyone else would be nice to me, realize how great I am, stop their crap. Then, I’ll be happy.

Elbert Hubbard stated “Happiness is a habit - cultivate it!” Shawn Achor, a leading researcher and renowned speaker in the field of Positive Psychology and author of The Happiness Advantage indicates that “[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens,” we then change our experience of happiness, or lack thereof, you also change the outcome for greater success (personally and professionally). So, how you choose to perceive a situation coupled with practicing happiness can turn you into a happy-heavy weight lifting happiness champ.

Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy, confusing, presents daily troubles, difficulties, and things/people/emotions to manage. I was just reminded of a quote I found in Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, she refers to one of her favorites by Wavy Gravy a clown-activist, “We’re all bozo’s on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” I love this because it points to the fact that we are all imperfect and once we just come to terms with that and realize we are all bozos we can be a little less hard on ourselves and one another, be honest about our imperfections and find a little humor, or “enjoy the ride” of life a bit more.

In order to find the humor, enjoy the ride and allow happiness to become manifest in your day to day life, you must be able to stare at yourself in the mirror before you pluck those dark ugly chin hairs, apply the concealer on the dark circles under your eyes, and be honest with yourself about your imperfections. Be truthful about the ways you just might be the one responsible for your happiness, or lack thereof. Look at the ways you are invited into living your life awake, becoming happier, accomplishing the things you dream about and know you are capable of.

I wrote this poem as a reminder to myself about the million ways I avoid my own awakening. Maybe it’s just about being more mindful when it comes to spending, saving and paying down debt. Maybe it comes down to making exercise, eating well and self-care a priority. Maybe it is related to being positive and practicing gratitude. Or maybe it’s something bigger, a huge leap of faith into unknown territory like trying to get published, or look for a new job, or move away, or leave an unhealthy relationship, or, or, or….Typically in life, when there is a problem or an opportunity, I usually only have myself to blame for avoiding the change necessary to fix it or not taking the step needed to capitalize on my potential.

The Million Ways to Avoid Awakening

When you are called to something
sometimes, sometimes
you do not want to go.

The sunlight fills your room
in the dawn break shattering
of light that strains your eyes
and the birds sing and sing you
awake, but
shut the windows
draw the shades, pull the covers
over your head, go back to sleep.

When you set yourself to awaken
sometimes, sometimes
the alarm does sound but
shut it off
roll over
drift back to sleep underneath
the dark heavy lids of your
own eyes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Promise

By: Jane Hirshfield

Stay, I said
to the cut flowers.
They bowed
their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,
who fled.

Stay, leaf.
It reddened,
embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.
It sat as a dog does,
obedient for a moment,
soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth
of riverine valley meadows,
of fossiled escarpments,
of limestone and sandstone.
It looked back
with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.
Each answered,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What's in your heart?

This comes from Rick Hanson, Ph.D., neuropsychologist, Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and invited lecturer at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard universities. [Reprinted from Just One Thing, New Harbinger, 2011]

The Practice


We all want to receive love. But maybe it comes in a form you don't want - perhaps someone offers romantic love but that's not what you're looking for-or it doesn't come at all. Then there is heartache and helpless¬ness; you can't make others love you if they won't.

Definitely, do what you can to get the love you need. But the practice here is about expressing love, distinct from receiving it. When you focus on the love you give rather than the love you get, then you're at cause rather than at effect; you're the cue ball, not the eight ball - which supports your sense of efficacy and confidence, as well as your mood. And it's enlightened self-interest: the best way to get love is to give it; even if it's still not returned, your love will likely improve the relationship, and help calm any troubled waters.

Sometimes people worry that being loving will make them vulnerable or drained. But actually, you can see in your own experience that love itself doesn't do this: it protects and nurtures you when you give it. While you're loving, don't you feel uplifted and stronger?

That's because love is deep in human nature, literally woven into our DNA. As our ancestors evolved, the seeds of love in primates and hominids - such as mother-child attachment, pair bonding, communication skills, and teamwork - aided survival, so the genes that promoted these characteristics were passed on. A positive cycle developed: As "the village it takes to raise a child" evolved and grew stronger, the period of vulnerable childhood could become longer, so the brain evolved to become larger in order to make use of that longer childhood - and thereby developed more capacities for love. The brain has roughly tripled in size since hominids began making stone tools about 2.5 million years ago, and much of this new neural real estate is devoted to love and related capabilities.

We need to give love to be healthy and whole. If you bottle up your love, you bottle up your whole being. Love is like water: it needs to flow; otherwise, it backs up on itself and gets stagnant and smelly. Look at the faces of some people who are very loving: they're beautiful, aren't they? Being loving heals old wounds inside and opens untapped reservoirs of energy and talent. It's also a profound path of awakening, playing a central role in all of the world's major religious traditions.

The world needs your love. Those you live with and work with need it, plus your family and friends, people near and far, and this whole battered planet. Never underestimate the ripples spreading out from just one loving word, thought, or deed!


Love is as natural as breathing, yet like the breath, it can get constricted. Sometimes you may need to release it, strengthen it, and help it flow more freely with methods like these:

Bring to mind the sense of being with people who care about you, and then open to feeling cared about. Let this feeling fill you, warming your heart, softening your face. Sink into this experience. It's okay if opposite thoughts arise (e.g., rejection); observe them for a moment, and then return to feeling cared about - which will warm up the neural circuits of being loving yourself.
Sense into the area around your heart, and think of things that evoke heartfelt feelings, such as gratitude, compassion, or kindness. To bring harmony to the tiny changes in the interval between heartbeats, breathe so that your inhalations and exhalations are about the same length, since inhaling speeds up the heart rate and exhaling slows it down. The heart has more than a metaphorical link to love; the cardiovascular and nervous systems lace together in your body like lovers' fingers, and practices like these will nurture wholehearted well-being in you and greater warmth for others.
Strengthen these loving feelings with soft thoughts toward others, such as I wish you well. May you not be in pain. May you be at peace. May you live with ease. If you feel upset with someone, you can include these reactions in your awareness while also extending loving thoughts like I'm angry with you and won't let you hurt me again - and I still hope you find true happiness, and I still wish you well.
There is a notion that being intentional about love makes it false or at least second-rate. But actually, loving at will is doubly loving: the love you find is authentic, and the effort to call it forth is deeply caring.

To love is to have courage, whose root meaning comes from the word "heart." I've been in a lot of hairy situations in the mountains, yet I was a lot more scared just before I told my first real girlfriend that I loved her. It takes courage to give love that may not be returned, to love while knowing you'll inevitably be separated one day from everything you love, to go all in with love and hold nothing back.

Sometimes I ask myself, Am I brave enough to love? Each day gives me, and gives you, many chances to love.

If you choose just one thing from this book of practices, let it be love.