You, Unstoppable.

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You, Unstoppable.
You, Unencumbered.

You, getting it done.

Your work out in the world.
You, connected to your fans, audience, and customers.
A consistent flow of revenue and job offerings that excite you, and offer opportunities for growth in your Creativity.

You, Fulfilled.

Is this how you feel today?

Is this how you WANT to feel?

When you look around at successful Creatives, you imagine their lives so easy and flowing, you see their art selling, their calendar booked with gigs, their phone ringing off the hook, and you are probably asking,
“What do they have I don’t?”

Well, the answer is simpler than you think, and those Creatives have one simple thing:
Resources

They have resources that allow them to put their work out effectively, free of procrastination, free of doubt, and connected to their vision. They have resources that allow them to not get stopped in their track by CONFLICT.  You know that voice, the one that says:

Do this!
Don’t do this!
But what if?!
It’s not perfect!

And it exhausts you and leaves you in indecision, and frustration, and ultimately not moving forward.

But, here’s the good news, you already have these freeing Resources.  You actually have exactly what you need right now.  You are no different than those more successful than you. How amazing is that? So maybe, there has been a huge misunderstanding around how to access them.

So, let’s dive in.

A few weeks ago, I went on a weekend retreat up at Zen Mountain Monastery just outside Woodstock, NY.  I hadn’t been back to the Monastery since I first found Zen three years ago, and my teacher was leading a retreat around the third century poem “Faith Mind.”

I never expected it to be three years until I returned, and yet that was what it took.

As soon as I sat on my cushion to meditate, I was instantly reminded of sitting in the same space three years ago. I remembered tears streaming down my face in the wake of so much loss in my life, and the excruciating stab of heartbreak.

And I remembered that weekend was when I found my practice. It was when I felt like I had actually come home.

Sitting on my cushion, I was feeling a sense of perspective, and recognizing the journey I have been on since April of 2013.  I felt so broken when I walked into the Monastery doors three years ago, and now I sat up tall, acknowledging all that had transpired and all the ways I have grown.

And it wasn’t just that three years ago I was losing my home, marriage, and was completely frustrated in my performance career….it was that now I had formed a new life, found my true calling, and felt a great sense of inner peace.

I was recognizing my Resources.

The resources that allowed me to ask for help. The resources that allowed me to launch my own business.  The resources that up-leveled my performance and opened me to writing again.

This is why stepping into the Monastery doors felt like home.  I had been outside myself for so long, I had become a stranger to my own life.

My Resources were actually there all along, but had been hidden and trampled in the wake of so much self doubt and an endless stream of loud chatter in my mind.  That chatter was debilitating, and most of all, I had attached to every word, believing it was TRUE.

Do you know what was true? It was just chatter.

Prior to this recent weekend retreat, I had been feeling an immense amount of pressure in my life with deadlines and feeling pinched.  I was procrastinating on projects and waking with anxiety in the morning.

When I returned from the retreat, I simply sat down at my desk, and worked.  And the words came, the content flowed.  My life and what I needed to get done hadn’t changed, but my approach had. I had been reminded of what was within.

I had been reminded of my Resources.

So, here is the question for you.

What REMINDS you of your Resources?
How are you most Resourceful?
What do you NEED to access that place of balance that allows you to act?

When we are able to come into our most resourceful state, then your canvas fills with color, your song comes pouring out of your mouth, and your words fill the blank page. You stand on the stage and deliver, because you have recognized your inner resources are far greater than the debilitating chatter.

And your audience?

They see that, and become inspired to do the same. They tap into THEIR resources through you.  That’s how you connect and create endless opportunities.

I didn’t find Zen on my own.  I didn’t launch my business on my own.  As I sat in the Monastery surrounded by fellow practitioners last month, tears did fall, but they were coming from one very strong feeling:Zen

Gratitude.

You, Unstoppable.
You, Unencumbered.

You are Resourceful.

So, dive in.

Half Day to Whole

Half Day Sit

I arrive early, the MTA surprisingly quick for a weekend, whisking me from Queens to Brooklyn through long tunnels on steel wheels.

The first to arrive at the temple, I sign in, and walk up the wooden stairs in  morning sun, stepping in and out of the yellow shafts shining through the glass windows. Creaks meet my feet, inside thick winter soles, the melting ice from outside leaving a trail of water spots in my wake.

Though I shed my coat, I keep my scarf wrapped around my neck, doubled in softness against the early chill.

I do a few yoga stretches, elongating in my downward dog, padding my sock-covered metatarsals into the Buddha Hall floor. My palms press into the wood, and I move through from knees to chest to child’s pose.

And repeat, breathing, while another practitioner sits holding a cup of coffee, eyes forward, warming his insides before the call downstairs.

The call to sit.

The call to begin.

I hear the wooden beats, rhythmically beckoning all practitioners, marking the time, and gather myself, taking a sip of water.  After the steps contract under my feet moving downwards, I enter the Zendo, finding a cushion; the black rectangle softening under my weight as I lower to the floor.

My mind whirls, foggy and thick with concern, timetables and To-Do’s arising over and over, the question of “How, How How?”.  Three chimes ring out, and I settle, hands in the cosmic mudra, eyes lowered in the dim light.

Inhale, exhale 1.

Inhale 2, exhale 3.

Thought, thought, thought.

And…..back to 1.

 

Meditation arose in my life as a survival method.  I was in crisis, in deep loss from my divorce, and the realization I truly had no control.  I watched my beliefs burning before my eyes as the life I had built in New York City came crashing to the ground.  Suddenly the loud noise that I escaped into for so many years of my life was a horrible reminder of the blindness and permanence I had desired.

Triggers were everywhere.  They appeared in the words of a song, an image in a magazine, a character on TV.

For the first time in my life, I truly craved silence.  As I tried to accept the inferno around me and the massive wave of change, the silence was my solace.

In that silence, I learned how to do something I had always wanted to do.  I learned to listen.  Except this time, it was myself, not the outside voices or expectations, but what lay underneath.  It was so quiet at first, and I cried for months at the beginning as I touched on the little girl, scared and frightened in the corner, coughing from the smoke as she stared wide eyed at the flames engulfing her life.

As the coughing subsided, and the daily practice became routine, a foundation emerged, a basis for not only beginning my day, but dropping into this new place.  The foundation was inside, at the inception of my breath and blood, not outside of myself, reaching with frantic fingers.

Except it had been there all along.  I had just drowned it out.

At first it was 5 minutes, then 10, then 12, then 15.  For a long time, I would light my incense and set the timer at home, adding in two 35 minute sitting periods, called Zazen, at the Fire Lotus Temple’s Zen Service on Sundays.

After meditating for a year, I leapt into a Half Day sit at the temple, which translated to five rounds of Zazen, with walking meditation, or Kinhin, in between.  We did chant some liturgy, but essentially it was a four hour commitment to the practice.

As I had never done more than two Zazen periods in a row, I was nervous, wondering if my body would ache, or how my mind would be.

In the experience I found a shift, an opening.  With each period, it became easier to return to one, and the thoughts were spacing out.  They never stopped, but my breath slowed, and time became a new concept, not so immediate, but merely relative.  Surrounded by the community, I relaxed into my seat, and the little girl stretched in the safety of emptiness.  Her lungs were free and healthy, allowing a steady flow of inhalation and release.

A few months later, I did a full day Zazenkei at the temple, arriving at 8 am and leaving at 6 pm.  There was a meal in the Zendo, a short service, and what seemed like endless rounds of Zazen.  We had a short rest after lunch and I slept soundly.  What surprised me as I left in the early evening summer sunshine, was my energy.  I felt great.  I had purposely left the evening open, unsure if I would be exhausted.  And yet, I walked to the subway invigorated.

I was ready to meet the city.

 

Last weekend, I did my first meditation retreat since last summer, coming to the temple for a Half Day sit, this time more at ease from knowing the structure of the morning, but rusty on the feeling of elongated practice.

I had tossed and turned the night before, playing out scenarios and fears as I switched side to side on my mattress.  My arm wrapped around my ribs and I sighed in attempts to relax.  My head was full, the ego calling to be heard, and I pulled the covers over my shoulders until I finally drifted off.

Would I be able to stay awake during the morning or would I be fighting myself the whole time?  Should I just stay at home and sleep in?

The alarm came, and I moved, half asleep, my mind immediately picking up from where it had left me in my fevered dreams.  But my body quickly grabbed my clothes out of the hot shower, and turned the key in my lock, stepping out into the early March air.

I’ve never gotten to the temple that quickly.

 

The Half Day sit was overseen by a senior teacher, a kind and laughter-filled monastic who’s voice lilted through the Zendo during the first Zazen period.

“Today, we celebrate the privilege to come here and sit, to take this time.”

 

As each period progressed, the tossing and turning of hours before began to melt away.  My sides so tight from the back and forth, opened with my lungs, inhaling the sweet incense burning slowly before me.  I heard the breathing of my community, and my gaze lowered into the soft fabric of the practitioner seated in front of me.

When the final round of Zazen began, the timetables that had felt like an unmanageable threat hours before, became an opportunity for solution.  Answers began to arise from the now open space inside.

The body that pulled me from my bed melded with my mind, and I had something I didn’t possess before entering the temple doors.

Integration.

My ego mind and body were no longer separate.  They had met in the seated breath, and remembered how to play like children on a swing, legs kicking to the sky in a beautiful dance, straight then bending with focused effort and momentum.

The sky was above and it was a glorious blue, clouds passing in puffy caravans, riding on the wind, and moving on.

After a delicious lunch with the rest of the retreat participants, I walked out in the afternoon air and headed back on the subway to my home.

I headed back to action, invigorated and fearless, my winter boots light, with a child-like skip.

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