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The Fear and Reality of Emotional Rejection

Emotional pain and hurt often stems from the rejection of our love. It takes a lot of inner strength to give and receive love. You have to soften and open to a bigger energy. You need to let your guard down and be willing to be vulnerable and share your heart with someone. There’s a high risk in that. “If I open myself, will my love be received or rejected?”

When your love is not received, you can feel rejected and hurt. When that happens to me, my internal commentary goes something like this, “My love is not good enough. I’m not good enough.”  This negative self-talk comes from patterns of hurt, shame, and ridicule from my childhood. It also comes partially from never being taught how to receive feedback without collapsing into feeling like a failure.

Positive Psychology has a slogan,“Learn to fail or fail to learn.”I love this because it points to the fact that in order to receive feedback, even when it’s given with love, you need to be ready for it. You need to be able to love yourself in the midst of the feedback. No matter how negative the feedback is, we all need to learn how to receive it without collapsing, without giving up on ourselves, and without doubting or abandoning ourselves. This is no small task and can take a lifetime to develop.

These insights and more flooded in as I flew out to Grand Rapids last month for my 40th high school reunion. This was the first reunion I had attended. In the weeks prior, I felt a kind of low-grade anxiety. Even though I was looking forward to reconnecting with friends, my smaller self was freaking out. […]

The Nature of the Human Heart is Freedom

Health is crucial for a positive experience of life. It’s amazing how when I don’t feel well or I’m in physical pain, my whole outlook on life goes down the tubes. I’ve had a slight headache on and off for the last few days. I wouldn’t say I’ve been depressed. But my world view for the last few days has been dim at best. Just today my headache lifted, and my hip felt stronger. I had a great swim at practice tonight and all of a sudden, I was happy again. The Tantric teaching here is that the nature of the human heart is freedom. And the nature of freedom is joy. Whenever we experience a release from pain and suffering, there is joy. When you stop hurting, something else arises. That something else is joy. It’s just how it is. This movement from suffering to joy is profound and fills me with awe and wonder each time. It’s like I forget that life can be fun when I’m not feeling well. Then I feel better physically, and suddenly I have the strength to deal with my life. I have energy to post a positive perspective in my mind. Ahhhhhh, the pulsation. Until next time! Sweet dreams.

Upright Yourself for You are the Embodiment of the Divine

For those who may not have heard, I had a total hip replacement in January of this year. Although the healing is going well, I still have weakness and pain during certain movements like lunge pose with my right leg forward. During a recent physical therapy session, I was working on a lunge exercise while holding a ten pound weight in my hands. It was a very challenging exercise for me and I must have been making a strained face, pursing my lips, and slouching forward with my shoulders when I heard my PT say, “Lift your torso and upright yourself, Todd.” There was something about the way the phrase, “Upright yourself, Todd” sounded that struck a chord deep in my heart. When I lifted my chest and “uprighted” myself, the pain in my hip went away! With shoulders back and my abdominal core engaged, the strength in my hip returned. The pain dissolved and I felt free again.

Since my surgery, the healing process has taken place in stages. At first, everything seemed to heal quickly and within six weeks I was back to most of my normal daily activities, including biking, swimming, and teaching yoga. Then the healing process seemed to slow down and for the last several months it’s been painstakingly slow. Although I’m 90% healed, the last 10% has been an uphill battle. My surgeon told me that because of the nuanced demands of yoga that I’ve put on my hip, the healing is taking longer than some. Total healing can sometimes take one to two years.

Slowing down is not one of my strengths. I have a lot of enthusiasm for what I do. But after this PT session, I had the […]

Keep Good Company

Dr. Douglas Brooks, Tantric scholar and professor extraordinaire teaches, “You become the company you keep. So, keep good company.” This couldn’t be truer. As I look back on my life and my relationships, I’ve always been defined by those I was with. As a little boy my parents took care of me. I have memories of going clothes shopping with my Mom once I started school. For years, she bought all of my clothes for me. I never really thought much about it. I was grateful to have enough clothes. But over time, I realized that I was totally influenced by my Mom. By the time I became a teenager, I couldn’t wait to exert my independence and individuality. I have so much compassion for kids today who just can’t wait to change the color of their hair, wear their own clothes, and get a nose ring!

I remember, as a teenager, my parents gave me so many guidelines, rules, regulations, and curfews, that I felt like a prisoner in my own home. (I do understand that rules are needed for good reasons to help keep an undeveloped adolescent brain safe.) But because of feeling so controlled, I acted out and wound up hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd’. I became influenced and defined by them, their bad habits, minor pranks, and derelict behavior. I knew this wasn’t me. But I got swept into it and it was fun for a while.

In my college years, I see how I was influenced by my music friends and professors. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept music for years. I was completely influenced by that crowd. All in a good way. Moving into the yoga ashram at age 23, […]

Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary

I recently attended a meditation retreat at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in California and I had several profound experiences. I’d like to share one of those with you. It was a totally ordinary experience but, because we had been meditating for a few days prior, what was ordinary transformed into the extraordinary.

After a few long days of meditation, we gathered one afternoon in the meditation hall with the teacher as part of the daily routine. We practiced together for a while. Then at the bell, the teacher told us we were going outside to take a walk in silence. I was game!

The teacher led the walk at a moderate pace. At one point I thought, “Oh, he’s going too fast. I wish he would slow down.” But then I simply picked up my pace a bit and that thought faded away. I remembered one of the instructions was simply to watch the mind and thoughts as they arise. But don’t give the thoughts much energy. Just observe and let them go.

It was a most beautiful afternoon with the light of the late afternoon sun shining brilliantly down on the beautiful Southeastern California desert landscape of sparse vegetation, hills, valleys, distant mountains, and high clouds. The temperature was perfect – warm but not hot. We followed the teacher to a fountain area with pools of water shaded by trees. The air was fresh, filled with the faint fragrance of pine. The sound of the fountain and flowing water was soothing for the mind. We stood near the water for a few minutes until everyone arrived. A cool mist rising off the pond felt refreshing and rejuvenating on the skin. We paused here for a minute […]