The pursuit of happiness and sadness… and pain and anger and love and … everything in-between
A few weeks remaining in the US, and I have my friend Kelsey on Facetime with me. We’re dissecting how to invest our time in Thailand. Coincidentally, we were both planning a season to live abroad in Southeast Asia.
I planned to stay in Thailand for three months. Kelsey had a bit more to explore before and after. Our core purpose in Thailand was to explore the capacity to Love. The nerd in us thought we could design a curriculum for our own personal development. A season to study healing, a journey to our Ph.D. A Pure Heart Degree. So we started a spreadsheet of workshops, trainings, courses and programs that ran the whole spectrum of what we felt relevant to Love.
On that list, we added yoga teacher trainings, Thai massage, energetic healing workshops, tantra classes, design-thinking for social change, meditation retreats, festivals…. the list of conscious education goes on and on. Most of these experiences were available on the island we lived on, some of them also online.
By the end of the season I explored a weekend retreat in tantra, a course on point-holding and shamanism, and a training on Thai Ayurvedic massage. Above all this, I explored the beginnings of a journey into love, sex and tech with a man who came to my rescue with a candle in the dark on Valentine’s Day … and a role as Producer for Pillow.
I fell in Love. A new kind of Love. Modern Love. And I was on an accelerated path of waking up at the same time. Waking up in a modern love, correlated in the most beautiful way: laughter, crying, shaking, playing, dancing, triggering, fighting, swimming, floating, kissing, cuddling… and constant constant constant communicating through all the “stuff” that we try to understand in relationships.
As I got deeper into working with intimacy experts and teachers for Pillow, and producing episodes to teach authentic connection for couples… I started to take relationship exercises in like a drug.
The things I tried to understand so I could excel in relating! I Googled everything in sight. I talked to every kind of coach, counselor or therapist in my community. I paid for sessions to understand how to navigate open relationships. I researched how to work with expressing boundaries. I tried to read up on attachment vs non-attachment. I listened to intimacy teachers share videos on how to connect when a partner is disconnected. I asked sex coaches how to work with kink in a conscious way. I stretched my way into feeling less in my mind and more in my heart.
As I made more connections with these teachers and healers of all matters of the heart, I noticed there was more to all of this than the assumed relationship with a partner. There was the relationship with the self, the brother, the sister, the friend, the parent, the digital screen, the country and on and on…. As I got closer to that awareness, I felt less addicted to the mastery of relating, and more attuned to the art of loving and feeling. And from there I knew there was more to create, even more expansive than Pillow. We both felt this.
One night I turned to Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, a book I opened… in difficult times. In each time, I find a new theme that resonates with me, as my life evolves and the contents take on new meaning for me.
This afternoon, I remembered reading about bodhichitta, in her book and started to explore more of this idea.
In an article by Chodron, she explains a bit more on what it all means… Chitta means “mind” and also “heart” or “attitude.” Bodhi means “awake,” “enlightened,” or “completely open.”
‘Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bodhichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love.
…Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening unconditional and relative bodhichitta are called bodhisattvas or warriors — not warriors who kill and harm but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world.
…We have many examples of master warriors — people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King — who recognized that the greatest harm comes from our own aggressive minds. They devoted their lives to helping others understand this truth. There are also many ordinary people who spend their lives training in opening their hearts and minds in order to help others do the same. Like them, we could learn to relate to ourselves and our world as warriors. We could train in awakening our courage and love.’
So this is the thing. This is what I’ve been barely scratching the surface of… and as the exploration into my awakened heart goes deeper, I know that part of my life desires to express and help others express: to teach and learn from this open, expansive space within. To experience all the parts of me and you: the aches, the pains, the joy, the love, the uncertainty and the curiosity of it all.
We’re born into this world to untangle the patterns that we’ve created over time. To uncover the layers we created with our mind.
To learn how to connect back to the heart.
So here it comes… slowly but surely.