Archive for March, 2009

Mar 25 2009

Mr. Toad’s Wild Elevator Ride! 3/25/09 Newsletter #5

A friend said to me recently, “You are on Mr. Toad’s wild ride, and you’re managing to enjoy the scenery.” That made me smile. It has been a wild ride, but I’m experiencing it more like a wild elevator ride that goes up and down and every floor has a different view. The bottom floor is a limited ego’s eye view; the top floor is an expansive eagle’s eye view.

Sometimes my elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top; but when it does I can see the big picture. I can see how everything fits together perfectly. I can see how I am connected to it all.

When my buttons are pushed I often descend to the lower floors. Going down……..Thump! On the bottom floor there is worry, what ifs, whys, regrets, blame, danger, drama, duality, me versus them. On the bottom floor I am in the thick of it all.

Yesterday my elevator plummeted to the bottom floor. My sister told me she was examined by her gynecologist this week, who was concerned about some unusual bleeding. The doctor right then and there in the office took a sample from her uterus to biopsy, just like that! Her doctor said under her breath that that is what my doctor should have done over a year ago when the abnormalities first came to his attention.

When I hear this I am stunned! My elevator crashes to the bottom floor! Whys and what ifs rush in – Why didn’t my doctor biopsy mine a year ago? (They did ultrasounds instead, which showed an apparently benign polyp, so nothing else was done.) What if it has spread? What if I have to suffer through chemo and radiation (or worse) because they didn’t do the biopsy right away?

A flood of tears and fears and old pain bodies enter the scene saying, “The world is unsafe, people can’t be trusted, I am in danger!” Anger rages on board. “They should’ve done it differently!” A girl named Sue stomps in, pumping her fist, chanting, “Sue, sue, sue the incompetents!” The elevator is getting very crowded!

Fortunately there is room for one more…my Compassionate Witness. She holds the space for everyone who shows up. She encourages good ventilation by saying, “It’s ok to feel angry, sad and scared. Let yourself feel it. Feel it deeply. I will hold you.” She does not try to tell me, “This moment is perfect just as it is.” This is not a time or place for that. This is a time to Be where I’m at, in the thick of it, feeling it fully, shining the light of awareness on it. (I know from experience that if I try to rise above my feelings, that just positions me better for them to bite me in the butt!)

These feelings deserve to be heard and honored. If they are not, then they take up permanent residence on the bottom floor, spinning round and round in ain’t it awful stories like a dog chasing its tale of woe. My elevator was stuck on the bottom floor for many years – until my Compassionate Witness came to live with me.

When I rest and release in this spacious loving awareness, I am naturally elevated to a higher perspective. Going up……I begin to get glimpses of how I collaborated with how it was done and the decisions that were made; I had been happy to minimize the abnormality and make it all go away. I can also see my doctor more clearly as someone who was caring and concerned, not a bad person out to hurt me.

My elevator ascends higher and I can see how on the lower floors my mind’s tendency is to seize on the what should’ve beens of the past and what ifs of the future. From this elevated vantage point I am aware that there is only Now, and right Now I am fine. I am more than fine. I am experiencing a treasure of learning and inspiration, as well as the great joy of writing and sharing my experience. If this had been nipped in the bud a year ago would I be having such a rich, full-bloomed experience now?

I am seeing how it is perfect that this is bringing up my pain bodies; on the lower floors they are a torment, but elevated in awareness they become pain buddies, here to help me heal deeply imprinted fear and trust issues.

I can see that this is the healing that is most important; healing the belief that the world is unfriendly and I am its victim; loosening my ego’s tenacious grip on feeling wronged; learning to forgive and let it go. As James Ray (The Secret teacher) says, true forgiveness is being able to say, “Thank you for giving me this experience.”

Right now, as I am peacefully perched on the top floor, I can see how it all fits together. Now I can hear and let in these words, “This moment is perfect just as it is.” From this higher view I see and know that I am One with it all. It is my movie.

I also know that I will continue to ride the elevator up and down; but with my Compassionate Witness along, I am enjoying the scenery. There is no good or bad, right or wrong experience; just being with it with curiosity, compassion and a willingness to learn from it all. That always elevates me to the top floor.

“Just go into the room and put one chair in the center.
Take the seat in the center of the room, open the door
and windows, and see who comes to visit.
You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors,
all kinds of temptations and stories, everything imaginable.
Your only job is to stay in your seat.
You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this—
wisdom and understanding will come.”
Achaan Chan

What is the view from your elevator right now? I hope that your Compassionate Witness is by your side helping you enjoy the scenery on your wild, wonderful, wisdom-gathering ride!

In Love,
Jan Jacobsen

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Mar 24 2009

The Wonderful Wisdom of IS! 3/18/09 Newsletter #4

The mind is like a crazed acrobat, tumbling from thought to thought, leaping to conclusions. I’ve been witnessing my mind tumbling about trying to figure things out and find answers. It wants to know, how did I end up with uterine cancer? Could it be the occasional sugar? The dairy? The aspartame? Or is it because I’m uptight; or more accurately, downtight? (as in anal retentive.) – did I block the flow of chi down there? Or could it be that my laptop sitting on my lap is frying my innards, doing the lap dance of death!?

Who knows why things happen. The only thing I can know for certain is this…it happened. It is what it is. I am open to learning and seeing my part in things; but I am becoming more interested right now in learning the fine art of acceptance. Now is all there is, and this is what’s Now. There is no right or wrong – just Isness, Suchness (not suckness). Buddha called this state Tatata. I want to live in this state. I am packing up my baggage and moving to Tatata, the golden state of harmony with whatever Is!

I’m leaving behind self blame, trying to figure things out, and regret. They are not useful. Much suffering is caused by resisting what is happening. It’s like trying to resist a tornado – it’s only going to mess you up! When I accept what is happening and say, “Oh, this is interesting – I wonder what I can learn from it?” I come into harmony with it and it lands me in the wonderful land of Is. When I’m focused on learning and growing, then every experience is perfect.

This morning I had my anxiously awaited appointment with the oncologist to consult and set the date of the operation. When I got there they told me that they don’t have my name down! At first I cried – it felt good, it released tension. Then, I could feel the downward vortex, circling the drain energy, wanting to poor me down the drain, wanting to blame and complain and shame and call names (stupid gyno said he made the appointment!)

Instead, I took a detour from the downward drain. I talked to myself, “It’s okay to feel scared and angry. Let yourself feel it.” Then I was ready to return to the state of Is – It is what it Is. Breathe. Accept. This moment is perfect just as it is. (This ended up being a perfect Is example for this newsletter! And they rescheduled me for later today.)

The mind always wants to know, “Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing?” Byron Katie has written that when people used to say “Namaste” to her, she thought they were saying “No mistake”.  My appendix burst seven months ago. That could have killed me…or it could have saved my life. The CT scan they did for my appendix showed that my uterus was abnormal. That led to the discovery of the uterine cancer.

My brother found out he had an inoperable brain aneurysm.  He thought his life was over. It had just begun! He quit his job, bought a sailboat and now, 8 years later, is enjoying life on his boat in the Caribbean Islands, thriving and living his dream.

“Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly.”

My husband Tom is cultivating rich soil in his garden plot. It contains compost from rotted produce and horse manure. He treats these ingredients like precious gold. He knows they will help his garden grow the most nutritious, delicious food. Cancer has composted a rich and fertile soil for me, from which is sprouting much creativity, inspiration, and learning.  (It’s a fertile time or it’s a shitty time; same substance, different attitude).

The best part about being in harmony with what is, it hooks me up with the Universal flow. Once I am in the energy of acceptance, I am in a state of grace where things I need flow to me easily, and everything works out better than I could imagine. Rich gifts are coming my way: the love of friends, the best doctors and nurses, financial assistance, and powerful learning and healing on a deep level.  Open is open. When I let go of resistance and open to what is, I am open to receive love, guidance and miracles.

Brick by golden brick I’m building my home base in Tatata. I sometimes take little side trips to Self-Pity City, and am hijacked occasionally by little cyclones of anger, sadness and fear. Accepting what is happening includes accepting the feelings that come up about it. These feelings are like bulls in a pen, snorting and pawing the ground – when they are accepted as part of what is and allowed to be there, then the gate opens, freeing them to roam the big spacious field of awareness, where eventually they calm down and become one with the field.

“Out beyond rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field; I’ll meet you there.” (Rumi)
Right Here and Now there is a field of awareness where everything is welcome; there’s plenty of room for All that shows up.

Are you living in the golden state of Tatata? It is a beautiful, spacious place to live. (And it’s so much fun saying Tatata!)  To get there, just click your heels together, take deep slow breaths of acceptance and say, “There’s no place like Here. There’s no place like Now.” That will always bring you back Home again.

In Love,
Jan Jacobsen

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Mar 24 2009

Bright Light – Dark Shadows! 3/11/09 Newsletter #3

Seven months ago my appendix burst and was removed. Now my cancerous uterus is about to be removed. What’s up down there? My internal organs are jumping ship! I can’t help but wonder, have I done something wrong? I’d always thought that this couldn’t happen to me. I take good care of myself: eat healthy, don’t drink or smoke, I exercise, ingest a fistful of vitamins every day, express my thoughts and feelings, connect with my spirit, and have loving relationships. I thought I was safe. Now a part of me feels like I have failed in some way.

Cancer is such a violent thing to have inside me. It is something shadowy, dark and dangerous that will kill me unless I kill it first. This has stirred up my painful old core belief which says I didn’t just do something wrong, I am something wrong; I am fundamentally damaged; and bad things happen to me because I’m bad. The pain of that core belief has set me on a spiritual path for the last 30 years. I have read a great multitude of spiritual and personal growth books and attended more workshops that you can shake a talking stick at. I have grown and healed tremendously. Yet still…cancer.

Feeling sad and disappointed, I lay in my husband Tom’s arms, crying, “I am flawed. After all these years and all the work I’ve done on myself, I am still deeply flawed.” Tom smiled and said, “Me too.” We both laugh. I have done something right to have this blessing of a man in my life! He has helped me put the fun into fundamentally flawed. Just looking at him reminds me that there is much light in my life now. And, there are still shadows. Tom says, “The brighter the light is the more clearly defined the shadows are.” Yes. The light is brightly shining in my life and I’m seeing my shadows very clearly. That is a good thing.

One way the Universe very clearly reveals my shadows to me is through the people in my life. They are wonderful mirrors – I can clearly see in them how they are defensive, judgmental, victimy, and oblivious about it (as much as I try to point it out to them!) These people can be irritating to be around. When I try to remove them from my life, they just keep showing up in different bodies with new names!

My shadows are clearly defined and they are clearly following me! Wherever I go, there I am. I’m learning that if it’s in my life, it’s in me. More importantly, I’m seeing that it’s all about Love. These shadows keep showing up to be faced, accepted and loved in me, and in those who are mirroring me.

I am facing and accepting that I will never be perfect. I lose my temper, I stress myself out, and I like to indulge in a fine whine now and then. I’m learning to shine the light on all that I am, to love myself As Is, warts and all, and now cancer and all. I’ve even written a song, with my friend Nicola Gordon, about loving all the many me’s – “the meany, moody, messy me’s – all the me’s I see’s.” It’s called I Loves Them All.  (To see video, click the link below).

Life is not about being perfect – it’s about being whole. As Carl Jung said, I’d rather be whole than good. Loving All of me is loving myself whole (minus a few body parts). This is more important than being perfect.

I feel compassion for that part of us that gets lost in the shadows. I feel such love and appreciation for how we keep striving for the light, sometimes floundering towards the light. How brave we all are to be here on this journey on planet earth, fallible, flawed and perfectly imperfect.

We are right where we need to be. This moment is perfect just as it is. This cancer is perfect just as it is. Healing and learning are happening. My dearly departing body parts are leaving me with this wonderful parting gift – the reminder to welcome every part and parcel of me to the party. I welcome cancer as my teacher

What people and circumstances keep showing up in your life, shadowing you? You haven’t done anything wrong. Life is simply reflecting back to you what wants to be faced and embraced.  It’s All about Love.

Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. (The Desiderata)

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

Click here to see Jan’s song “I Loves Them All” on Youtube.

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Mar 24 2009

Waking Up with Fear 3/5/09 Newsletter #2

Today is my 60th birthday! It is more like a rebirth day. My recent diagnosis of uterine cancer has grabbed me by the ankles, turned me upside down, and spanked me vividly alive! The familiar day-to-day sameness that lulled me to sleep is upended as life sings me awake with a rousing lull- goodbye song. I open my birthday Present, fully here and now, brand spanking new…and scared.

I have been waking up with fear. There’s a lot of that going around right now. The country has been turned upside down, swatted on its bottom, and startled awake as the economy quakes on shaky ground. Maybe some of you are feeling fear right now in your lives about an illness, or the loss of a relationship, loved one, job, or home?

I am experiencing that fear has a life of its own. It is primal, survival oriented and hardwired. It will not release its grip easily. Like a tightly wound rosebud that cannot be forced open, it must be allowed to gently unfold. Fear is compelling – we can use it to help us unfold fully into this Present Moment and transform scared energy into sacred energy. I’d like to share with you the practice I’ve been doing that is helping me use fear to Wake Up and smell the roses.

Awareness

I awake in the grip of fear. “I feel scared.” Acknowledging and naming the feeling is the first step. I generate curiosity about the fear. Where do I feel it? It is a clenching tension that feels like a boa constrictor wrapped around my entire body, squeezing most tightly around my throat, chest, solar plexus, and stomach. I notice my breathing is barely there. This act of witnessing has invited in another level of consciousness. Now there is fear and there is awareness. I spontaneously begin to breathe more fully.

Self-Compassion

I notice that this fear is like a child who is suffering. I cradle the fear. I place my hands on my throat and my heart, and comfort the fear. “Hello fear. You are welcome here. It’s okay to feel scared. I’m sorry you are suffering. I know this is difficult. I understand.” I place my hands over my uterus. “I love you. I’m sorry you are sick. I am so sorry to be losing you.” I cry. It is a good cry, releasing stress; the tears carry out the stress hormone cortisol. This is good grief. Now there is sadness, fear, awareness, and compassion and slow gentle breaths.

Compassion for others

Tonglen is a Buddhist meditation practice in which I breathe in my fear and sadness and feel it fully – I breathe out sending love and compassion to everyone who is feeling that same pain. Breathing in, I feel sad and scared – Breathing out, I send love to others who are feeling sad and scared. I repeat this for several minutes. This creates a feeling of love and connection to others. Now, in this expanding field, there is sadness, fear, awareness, and compassion for myself and for others.

My painful feelings are subsiding. I still feel them, but I am feeling serenity as well; I rest in a nurturing loving energy that embraces the pain. “Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.”(unknown)

Trust, Acceptance, & Gratitude (TAG).

My feelings have calmed enough that I am now open to a higher awareness. I generate the energy of trust, acceptance and gratitude by affirming:

I Trust that I am loved, guided and watched over. I trust that things happen for a reason. I trust that my life is purposeful. I trust that everything will work out.

I Accept that this is what’s happening. It is what is. I breathe and allow it to be. This moment is perfect just as it is. I surrender to it. I become one with it.

I feel Gratitude for the many blessings in my life: my loving friends and family, my fellow journeyers (you) and learning buddies, my wonderful husband Tom. I am grateful for this opportunity to cultivate more awareness, love, trust, and acceptance in my life. I am grateful that I remember that this is what is most important to me. I am grateful that I am awake. I am grateful to fear for waking me up.

What challenges are waking you up? What feelings of yours want to be acknowledged, witnessed, held, and loved? Taking time to stop and smell the roses and feel the feelings allows them to unfold into the full bloom of Present Moment Consciousness. Makes sweet sense to me.  I love getting roses on my birthday!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Mar 24 2009

What Wants To Be Born Into Your Life? 2/25/09 Newsletter #1

I’ve been thinking about birth lately. My 60th birthday is about a week away and I’m choosing to see it as a time of rebirth. I’ve been wondering, what wants to be born into my next decade on planet earth? When I turned 50 I began a new life with Tom, my life partner. I had been single most of my life so it was a major shift for me. I deeply desired it and that is the beginning of any birth process.  First there’s desire, then being able to conceive it is possible, then labor (taking action), and finally the Universe delivered to me a beautiful, bouncing babe of a man named Tom and a healthy, happy, thriving relationship that is now ten years old!  As the big 6-0 approaches, I’m wondering, what wants to be born next?

Another reason I’ve been thinking about birth is because something has been growing in my uterus. Ultrasounds have shown that it has doubled in size in this past year filling the uterine cavity. I appreciated the symbolism of something growing in my uterus and something wanting to be born into my life. I was hoping it was just a benign polyp, as it appeared to be a year ago. On Friday my doctor did a procedure called a hysteroscopy where he went into my uterus with a tiny camera to determine what was growing. He took out some to biopsy. He said it appeared fluffy, like cotton balls, and was “99% certain that it was cancerous.” Yesterday he confirmed that it is cancer. That was not what I wanted to hear. This seemed like something to be borne, instead of a new life being born. (Fortunately it appears to be in an early stage).

When I was first told that I should have this hysteroscopic procedure, I wanted to put it off – it was expensive (outpatient), and invasive. I wanted to try alternative methods instead. But persistent thoughts about my mother (who is deceased) kept hovering in my mind, nudging me to take medical action. That’s something I know she would want me to do. I finally decided to make an appointment with the doctor and the date for the consult just happened to land on my mother’s birthday!

Since hearing that it was cancer I’ve been feeling contractions of fear, and urges to curl up into the fetal position. Yet awareness tells me that contractions precede birth; contractions lead to expansions. I know from experience that any feeling fully felt and experienced always leads to expansion. So, just like in childbirth, I’ve been breathing into these fear contractions, feeling them fully, allowing them to be here. Eventually that brought me to a more expanded place. 

In that expanded place a strong awareness and desire came to me – I know what wants to be born into my life – I want to write. I want to put my writing into a form and send it out into the world. I want to be of service by sharing my living, loving, laughing, and learning about life’s luminous (and sometimes lousy) lessons. That’s the reason for this birth announcement – I have birthed my first newsletter and am sending it out into the world!

I didn’t think I’d ever get cancer. I have always been terrified of the thought of cancer. I still can’t quite believe it. I didn’t think I’d be giving birth to my entire uterus (via hysterectomy)! Some babies really suck, and this is one big sucky turn of events. But even though I am sometimes a big baby full of fears and tears, I also have a big brave nurturing soul that embraces all that shows up. I know that whatever happens in my life is all about my soul growth. I will nurture the most growth I can from this, and all the other life lessons that come my way. I intend to share them in these e-newsletters (and in booklets and e-books).

As I sign off today I want to leave you with a question: What contractions are you feeling in your life?  What gestating dream of yours is ready to be born? I’m wishing you a joyful “birth” and that your contractions shift easefully into expansion!

In Love,
Jan Jacobsen
          

 

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