Poetry Is a Happening

"Poetry is not only a product; it is also a happening, like life and its purpose: I am not here just to do something but also to let something happen through me. What I do leads to the joy of accomplishment. What I allow leads to the ecstasy of opening. As I combine effortful movement and patient stillness, I make contact with the wholeness — both psychological and spiritual — already and always within me and everywhere around me. This is the fruit of mindfulness, and it takes imagination to see it as a possibility for any of us. The building blocks of our poems are found in that quarry."
Being True to Life: Poetic Paths to Personal Growth


"Trust comes from an old Norse word, traust, meaning 'help or confidence.' It is also related to a German word, trost, meaning 'comfort or consolation.' The words denote the sense of certainty that something or someone will come through without fail and that we can be comforted by that assurance. Thus, by definition, we trust others when we can count on their predictable and repeated fidelity, and this makes us feel confident in them for the future. Trust happens in the present and connects past experience with future probability.

"We usually use the word trust as a noun. This can give the impression that it is a mental reality. Actually, we understand trust better when we use it as a verb. Trust is more truly a process between people, and so it is more appropriate to speak of 'trusting' as we describe our ways of relating to one another."
Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love & Intimacy

The Opposite of Yes Is Control

"The opposite of yes is not no; it is control. Behind that controlling impulse is fear, the fear that we will have to feel something painful. Every given insults the ego that wants to believe it has full control. Yes is acceptance; control is refusal. We can learn to accept the fact that we are sometimes helpless to stop an unwelcome change in our lives. That acceptance, paradoxically, ushers in serenity. Trying to stay fully in control of what will happen to us makes us opponents of life's facts and maintains stress. Our life is a seesaw tottering between terror and control as long as we stutter at the word yes.

"To let go of control will mean that we cannot protect ourselves from any of the givens. Control is one of our favorite ways of running from life as it is. Control is so deeply engrained an illusion that we even think we can let go of control simply by wanting to. We do not let go of control; we let go of the belief that we have control. The rest is grace. The givens of life are the tools the universe provides for that lesson."
The Five Things We Cannot Change ... and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them

Psychological Work and Spiritual Practice

"Psychological work and spiritual practice are not two separate tasks but one simultaneous project of human becoming. In psychological health, our purpose is to fulfill our life goals, find personal happiness, and enjoy effective relationships with those around us. In spiritual practice we expand our purpose so that our motivation includes the happiness and evolution of the whole world. This is not a totally different realm of human experience. It is, rather, a deepening of our sense of aliveness, which makes for a more loving presence in the world. Spiritual practices are the skillful means to this deepening. They may include meditation, loving-kindness, religious devotion, and virtuous living."
The Five Things We Cannot Change ... and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them

Make a Commitment to Ask For Love

"Entitlement can take the form of expectations, overreaction to being taken advantage of, a sense of being owed something, or a belief that we are being cheated. The best example of this feature of ego is the reaction we might have when we are cut off in traffic. Does the feeling of 'How dare he do that to me?' turn into a frenetic and vengeful chase? Does it stick in your craw for the rest of the day? Vengefulness and indignation are clues to the presence of an arrogant, narcissistic — and ultimately very scared — ego. But behind the angry sense of humiliation is sadness that we have not been treated with love and respect — the things we believe we are entitled to from everyone. What we really mean to say when someone cuts us off in traffic is 'How dare you not treat me with respect! How dare you not love me!' Secretly, the ego believes it has always had a right to that. Make a commitment to ask for love directly each time you notice yourself falling into one of the ego reactions described in this chapter."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Love and Connection

"Love is a specific kind of connection; it is a caring connection. The word caring is from the Latin for 'dear.' We care about someone who is dear to us. Dear also means costly; love requires a selflessness that is challenging and taxing at times.

"When we care about someone, he or she really matters to us. Caring includes noticing, taking an interest in, and responding to the specific needs of others. It includes a genuine concern for what happens to someone and a hope for positive outcomes.

"Love happens between us and others when we welcome connection from them and make connections to them. To decide if an act is loving, we can ask, 'Does it serve to connect us in a caring way?' We learned in grammar school to convert fractions by finding the lowest common denominator. Caring connection is our lowest — and finest — common denominator of love in this world of so many unconverted fractions."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

How We Know We Are Loved

"In an episode of the television series, All in the Family, the neighbor Louise is moving away and has come to say good-bye to Edith. As they stand in the kitchen together, Edith touchingly asks Louise if she ever told her that she loved her. Louise answers, 'In every minute of every hour we've ever spent together.' It is not only when we are being told or shown affection that we know someone loves us. Love comes through to us in the other's every word and deed.

"The two best ways to have others love us are to love them unconditionally and to be ourselves transparently. Both of these qualities appeared in the characters of the two women in the television series."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

A Healthy "Ouch!"

"A healthy 'Ouch!' is a cry of pain. It can be followed or happen simultaneously with an expression of anger, defined as showing our displeasure at what we believe is unfair. A healthy 'Ouch!' represents anger without the will to retaliate, without resentments, without blame, without holding a grudge — anger with an ultimately forgiving spirit. A healthy 'Ouch!' does not include such ego arousals as 'How dare you treat me that way? I will get you for this.' We are basically saying, 'This hurts,' which is our experience, not 'You hurt me,' which is accusatory and can open the door to punishment of the other person."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Fulfilling Sex

"In good sex, we feel a connection. In fulfilling sex, we feel a caring connection that is deeply personal and interpersonal all at once.

"In sex motivated by love, our focus is on intimate closeness and on both the giving and receiving of pleasure. In a truly loving bond, our emphasis in sexual activity is primarily on giving pleasure to the other person. Our own pleasure is certainly important, not so much as something we seek but as something we receive. That configuration of ourselves in the sexual experience, receiving pleasure rather than grabbing it, is a wonderful example of how love works. It is about giving as our priority and openness to receiving as equally valuable. In a truly intimate sexual experience, both partners make the other the priority, so it all comes out even in any case, though that is not the motivation. Only the joy of giving and receiving is."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Hurt Can Lead to Our Ephiphany

"When others hurt our feelings or act unlovingly toward us, it is natural to feel pain. This is a healthy sign. It means that others matter to us, that love matters to us. Our pain becomes unhealthy when being hurt lowers our self-esteem or leads us to retaliate. We can, instead, take the experience of hurt or rejection as a spur to love more, to act more lovingly toward everyone, and to practice loving-kindness yet again. Now our hurt, and perhaps every feeling and reaction prompted by others, has become an opportunity for practicing what matters most, the love we really are. Thus, hurt can lead to our epiphany."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Help for Our Unhealthy Ego

"Loving-kindness practice also provides help for our unhealthy ego through our commitment to the four immeasurable qualities of enlightened living: Loving-kindness is the antidote to aggression and retaliation. Joy at others' success is the antidote to envy. Compassion means aspiring that others be happy and free of pain, so it is the antidote to hatred. Equanimity frees us from getting caught up in drama and our addiction to adrenaline, so we can love serenely and sanely. It helps our unhealthy ego face its great fear of grief. That fear vanishes when we embrace the three component feelings of grief with composure: Sadness helps us awaken to the reality of loss and the life-affirming disposition to let go of the clinging style of the threatened ego. Anger helps us awaken to injustice and the challenge to take a stand against it, without having to employ ego aggression in the process. Fear helps us know where dangers and threats may be lurking. The more we realize that nothing can really happen to us that is not already and always a useful part of our personal story, we find a way out of fear and no longer need our arsenal of ego defenses."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Overriding the Urge to Retaliate

"Both empathy and sympathy override the urge to retaliate. Both impact the healthy development of the orbitofrontal cortex, where we also access the ability to handle stress in nonviolent ways. Vengeful thoughts have been shown to activate the dorsal striatum in the brain, an area related to satisfaction from punishing. It is strongly stimulated by acts of retaliation: 'They got what they deserved.' When we weigh the consequences of our choices to see what works best for everyone, the more evolved prefrontal cortex comes into play. We use our prefrontal cortex for powers of reasoning and to distinguish right from wrong. The left region of the cortex is for moving toward a goal; the right is for planning to avoid an outcome. Planning for revenge takes place on the left side, since it is about gaining satisfaction, the poor man's version of contentment."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Life Experiences Can Rob Us of Serenity

"Dogen Zenji, founder of the Buddhist Soto Zen school, wrote, 'Even in the muddiest puddle the entire full moon is reflected.' So, after all that has happened to us, no matter how disheartening, the full moon of love within us can still shine.

"Life experiences can rob us of serenity. What people do to us can hurt our hearts. Distressing events can pile up on us. Griefs can weigh us down. We can make one mistake after another, even repeat the same ones. But nothing can divest us of our capacity to love. We were designed for love, and with practice, we can display it. Daredevils like us will certainly keep chancing love's radical, reckless, and resounding leap."
How to Be an Adult in Love: Letting Love in Safely and Showing It Recklessly

Wisdom Is a State of Being

"Wisdom is not a body of truth. It is a state of being in which truth becomes accessible within us and active through us. The big mind beyond ego looks more and more like light. As we access our powers, our body becomes less a mule to carry us or a pedestal for our ego or brain to rest on. Our body and all things are composed of condensed light, continually moving, beating musically, always already united by undying, unborn/reborn love. 'Things are losing their hardness. Even my body now lets my light through,' says Virginia Woolf.

"An image arises to help us here. Cathedrals are human-made symbols of our entry into the fullness of our destiny of human/divine power. They are sacred spaces that combine in multi-colored light from the stained glass with the sensuous smell of license, music of the organ and choir, and thousands of glorious art images. This symphony of sound and sight transports us to the world beyond these appearances. That is precisely the excursion on which we receive the light that then shines through us."
Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity and How to Open It

May All Beings Feel This Happiness

"When you feel truly happy, remember to say: 'May all beings feel this happiness with me.' This engenders a view of happiness as a gift you have received in order to give it away. Happiness is then not a personal possession but a bond with all humankind. When you are sad or discouraged, remember that many other people the world over are feeling what you are feeling at the same time. Join with them: 'May all those feeling what I am feeling find a way through it. May they be helped by my work on myself. May I be helped by theirs.
Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity and How to Open It

Love is the Only Bridge

"To love is to enter the ultimate and most perfect synchronicity of all.

"In love, the most striking of all coincidences occurs: two hearts match in their encounter and enfolding of each other. Each grants the very tenderness the other wanted all her life to find or waited all his life to find again.

"Love is the only bridge that hearts can toss across the yawning void of emptiness that the mind will make. It is the only fire on earth that can melt the ego in an instant.

"Love forgives every offense with exactly the brand of healing that makes new offenses unlikely. It reaches beyond 'I and Thou' to all living beings in far-flung compassion and unconditional caring."
Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity and How to Open It