joy is my path, life is my teacher, healing is my work, liberation is my art
May 7, 2024

Karma is not punishment

People in the West tend to misunderstand karma due to the influence of Christianity. Karma literally just means cause and effect. It’s not punishment. Christianity is really into punishment and retribution, but the Universe does not actually work like that.

The way the Universe teaches us is through the natural consequences to our actions.

If you treat someone like crap, and they stop wanting to be around you, you learn to stop treating people like crap. That’s it, that’s the whole lesson. You don’t need to be punished on top of that.

Punishment comes from a good/bad, right/wrong paradigm. But it’s not wrong to need to learn things by making mistakes. It’s just not. We all come here to learn.

When you do something, there is a result, and you learn from that result. That’s all karma really means. It means our actions have consequences, and through experiencing those consequences, we learn to choose better actions in the future.

Punishment is the idea that if you make someone suffer more on top of natural consequences, they will somehow learn more. But that’s not how learning works. So it’s just a dumb idea.

You weren’t wrong in the first place for making a mistake, so punishment will not purify you. It will just harm you by creating shame and confusion. Retribution or punishment doesn’t accomplish anything and it’s harmful.

So you don’t need to punish yourself either. It has no purpose–it’s just self-harm.

April 26, 2024

Don’t argue for your limitations

Sometimes when I try to explain possibilities beyond the limitations someone sees as real, they will become defensive & accusatory. “You don’t understand how limiting this limit really is!!”. Sometimes this takes the form of, “You are privileged; you don’t get it; you don’t have to suffer this limit, so you can’t possibly understand it”.

I usually walk away from these conversations just feeling sad. It’s not that I disagree that privilege is a real social phenomenon–of course it is. But that doesn’t mean people are helpless, and it doesn’t mean there are no possibilities to work around the way society is set up. Two things can be true–life can be unfair, and you can still make the best of your life. But if you argue for your limitations, you are making them more real, not less.

This usually boils down to an unmet need for validation, but limiting yourself to prove you have been limited is a costly strategy to employ. You can validate the suffering you’ve experienced without staying in it. “This sucks, and I’m moving forward anyway.”

April 19, 2024

You are the sky, not the weather

The spiritual path is about dis-identifying as a human and identifying as a spiritual being that is more than human. This doesn’t mean denying your humanity. It means seeing your humanity within the larger picture of who you really are. Of course you are still human and need to tend to the human experience you are having. You came here to be here. But you also came from somewhere, as something, that is far more than this temporary experience of humanness.

“Honor your incarnation” – Ram Dass

April 19, 2024

The decision to value yourself

At a certain point you have to stop caring that you don’t fit in and decide that who you are is purposeful and holy and devote yourself to the task of being yourself fully and freely. Because doing anything else hurts in the way that seeing something beautiful be destroyed hurts. Your uniqueness is precious and will only exist once in all of the known Universe. Even if you were the only one who ever valued it, that would be enough to satisfy the reason you were born.

To find that fierceness, you have to get in a really quiet place with yourself and commit to your own unfolding. There is nobody who can give it to you because it’s an expression of your own sovereign will. It’s the decision to value yourself-as-you-are, and only you can make it.

April 19, 2024

Talking to yourself is good actually

It’s ironic to me that we are told that talking to yourself means you’re crazy when it’s really the opposite – parts work (talking to the inner parts of yourself) makes you sane.

But you have to do it with respect. Give up inner bullying, inner tyranny (thinking one part can overpower all the others and “get them in line”)…approach your inner parts with genuine curiosity, respect, and care and you can transform your inner world from a battleground to a symposium of support and cooperation.

April 15, 2024

Self-authorization is part of spiritual development

“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Millions have walked the spiritual path before you. But they’ve all also been walking a unique path of their own. We each have a unique spiritual path that we have to discover by walking it. And part of the path is learning to trust inner guidance over any other form of guidance.

There are many tools of liberation, but the only one who can liberate you is yourself. You are unique. Your tangle of patterns and meanings is yours. It is and always will be on you to untangle it.

You can follow other people’s teachings, and many will help you and work for you. But ultimately you can only become free by working with your own soul and walking your own path. Because our individuality is part of our awakening. There is nothing about us that is not purposeful.

April 12, 2024

How I use NVC

Let’s talk about NVC – Nonviolent Communication. NVC sometimes gets a bad rap because using it as instructed can make you sound like you’re a robot. “Are you feeling sad because you need connection?” Like, ya think?

But I’ve found NVC to be one of the most useful foundational skills you can have in doing growth work, NOT because I talk like this IRL or insist everyone else talk like this. Trying to make someone else change their speech is a form of violence, and talking like a robot does not meet my own need for authenticity.

But what NVC does brilliantly is show that there is a pathway from competition-for-needs to cooperation-for-needs. It doesn’t always stick the landing on helping people make that shift, but just from understanding the basic principles (that everything everyone does is in service of a need), you start to shift how you think about human behavior. You move away from judgement and expectations and toward the ground truth that we are all just running around trying to get our needs met. Some of us have better strategies than others, but ALL of us are steeped in the idea of competition and scarcity and zero-sum. And that’s just a terrible way to live, honestly. To think that the only way your needs can be met is to deprive someone else of their needs (or sacrifice your own needs) puts you into a trauma headspace and limits your options to fight-flight-freeze-fawn.

And we often turn into assholes when we are triggered. I did for a long time, and had to do a lot of work on being able to meet my own emotional needs and heal attachment trauma, and un-suppress parts of me that were coming out sideways. Equally I had to work on my tendency to fawn and self-sacrifice when I felt a connection I really valued was on the line. NVC wasn’t enough to heal all that–I had to do a lot of other kinds of work. And that’s one of the downsides of NVC, that it doesn’t tell you how much inner work is actually required to stop being violent. (Especially if you have any significant trauma history).

But NVC helped me understand what the goal was–to be able to stay in a space where I believed everyone’s needs are valid and can be met, at all times, because if I’m not in that space, I’m going to be doing some form of violence to someone (could be me, could be you). So I see NVC as a kind of touchstone for myself–it shows me where I still need to work on my beliefs and mental habits to deprogram myself from violence. Because the violence isn’t just over in Gaza. It’s in all of us, and all our relationships, constantly. It’s in our politics, it’s in our economy. It’s in our heads and often in our hearts, unfortunately. When we are overcome by fear, someone loses (often yourself). The antidote is to believe we really can solve for everyone’s needs if we stay in connection and conversation. But to have faith in that when our biology kicks in requires a lot of practice and work for most of us. So in summary, don’t blame NVC that it doesn’t instantly make people genuinely nonviolent. That’s just the work we have to do as a species, and it’s going to take a lot from all of us.

Learn more about NVC on my other blog Joy Ninja. I also have a mobile friendly list of needs.

March 29, 2024

God will never ask you to be somebody else

I can’t express enough how much we are meant to be exactly who we already are.

Growth is not becoming “better”, it’s becoming more YOU. It’s undoing the layers of conditioning that keep your inherent Divine nature from simply shining as it naturally does.

There is nothing fundamental to change about yourself. What there is to do is to remove what is not fundamentally you.

Any ideas that we are not enough or not worthy are simply untruths. They are not accurate. That is not how the Universe works. We are not judged by anything but our own mind. And we can stop doing that. We can decide to meet ourselves with unconditionality. To simply appreciate our own being, our own becoming, our own unfolding. We can allow ourselves to experience the grace which is always waiting for us to let it in.

March 22, 2024

Love and light and bypassing

If your “love and Light” can’t accept or isn’t willing to see that most people on Earth are full of pain and shadow, and you want to escape or avoid that reality, you aren’t embodying the Light, you are bypassing your own pain. Because the actual Light i.e. God is completely unfazed by pain and shadow. The Light has no need to fight the darkness, to try to get others to heal, to rescue people, or avoid them. It shines on everyone and everything, just like the Sun. The Sun shines on everything indiscriminately. That’s how the Light works. So if your spiritual path isn’t making you more and more OK with suffering, complexity, darkness, uncertainty, and pain…then you’re not on a spiritual path, you’re just using spiritual concepts and feelings as a defense.

You can love the Light and accept that you still have pain and it’s not going to magically heal overnight, and it doesn’t have to be avoided to stay “high vibe”. Bypassing is fundamentally a fear response–it does not raise your vibration at all (it feels like it does, but that’s just a feeling). Like all defenses, bypassing keeps you stuck in the SAME vibration, because your vibration is not made up of just your conscious feelings, it’s made up of everything in your conscious and unconscious.

So: face your pain and your fear. Bring it to conscious awareness and love it, embrace it, be with it until it heals. Do this today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. Stop being afraid of it, it won’t kill you. You embody the Light by acting like the Light. And Light is never afraid of the dark.

March 20, 2024

Rejecting the tyranny of productivity

The idea that we should be able to force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do is just an idea. It’s not something you have to believe.

I think it’s a tragedy that so many people (especially ADHDers) do not realize how much their motivation is utterly unstoppable once it’s aimed at something they actually WANT to do. Because they’ve spent so long trying to force themselves to do things they don’t want to do, and feeling bad about it.

I am just beginning to appreciate how much internal de-programming from social conditioning I’ve done in my life because the source of my bad feelings was actually social-cultural messages, and when I got to the root of them I was just like “nah, not believing that”.

Healing from my family stuff was emotional work, but undoing social conditioning requires something else–an internal “F*** you” to messages that are inherently judgmental to your basic nature.

I was not made to do what other people want me to do. It’s just not how I am wired. So of course my body-mind protests when I’m in that position. It completely shuts down. But when I’m doing what I love to do, what I want to do, and following my internal guidance, I have an immense amount of energy and drive.

This is why institutional education makes me wilt and yet I’ve spent my whole adult life taking classes and workshops and learning things. I love learning–I just need a high degree of autonomy and teachers who get that and support that. But if the only option for learning I ever came across was our education “system”, I would have concluded that I don’t like learning, because I can’t be happy under those conditions.

The same goes for work–I’ll work all day on things I am interested in and want to create, but working for other people was intolerable to me. I don’t think that would always necessarily be the case–people hold authority differently, and some leaders can handle people who need autonomy. But it’s not the norm. The norm is conformity. And I am just not here for that.

And I know that it comes across as selfish or entitled to some people. But it’s really just a fact that I’ve had to accept about myself. The more conformity is expected in a given environment, the less of “me” will show up in it. I can play along for awhile, but it starts to feel pointless. And I’ve had to spend quite a lot of time alone to really understand how much I need to follow the moment-by-moment impulses inside me in order to feel free and happy. This is literally how all animals live and so it’s a completely natural state to be in. And yet our social-cultural conditioning is based on “civilizing” us out of that awareness and teaching us to conform to systems and schedules.

This is not an intellectual protest–it’s my body itself that protests. I’ve never been a fan of idealism because it is usually too far removed from the territory it aims to liberate to be useful and it often becomes tyrannical. So I want to be clear that all I’ve done is removed what makes me unhappy and followed what makes me happy, and what I’ve come to is: I’m allergic to most social and cultural expectations (especially around time and work) and I’m at my best when I ignore them.