Success and Failure are the Same

Success and failure are the same? How could that be? Let’s explore:

Failure and Success are polarities that depend on one another for survival — of course we couldn’t feel the feelings of “failure” had we not ever experienced feeling “success”, and vice versa. Both of these things also depend on queues from others; I like to imagine a scenario in which I’m (for whatever reason) the last remaining human being on earth 🌏.  As the last human on earth, what sort of successes would I yearn for (maybe just survival-esque or spiritual successes)? What sort of failures could bring me down (that wouldn’t be based on desiring social approval any longer)?

So, then, it is worth pondering with an open heart: how is my ego driving my behavior and feelings of success and feelings of being a failure? From what source do those feelings arise?

It’s easy to see how in moments that we are elated about succeeding that that very success was dependent on the possibility of failure. So, then, success and failure are two sides of a coin. In moments we’ve felt like failures it’s also easy to notice these things: our feelings of being a failure are often derived from social queues (not living up to the societal definition of success) or from feelings of deep unworthiness.

Also (consider this) if our “failures” lead to “successes”, were they ever truly failures? If our “successes” lead to “failures”, were they ever truly successes?

What’s also in need of examination is the very drive that often propels us to want to succeed: the feeling of being unworthy and needing to prove our worth. What I’m saying is a bit radical, but investigate this for yourself with an open heart 👉🏻  Many of us feel, at our core, incredibly insecure about who we are; we feel unworthy, uncool, unloved, unsure, and unsteady. These feelings manifest as the insatiable desire to be constantly achieving, succeeding, or wanting to be better-than. When we ride this wave of achievement, we’re likely to be stuck on an unsteady surfboard experiencing the the rise and fall of that which is unable to be maintained forever.

If it were comfortable (deeply and truly comfortable) to be in this sort of position, constantly hungry to achieve, we’d look around us and see a lot more smiling, content faces. Instead what I see is a society plagued by anxiety, depression, stress, and illness, all of which derive, in part, from the overall pressure to “be somebody”. Most of us are exhausted by this quest — what does that tell you? Possibly (quite possibly) all of this strife and strain is contrary to our being. Is it possible to ride the wave, cool and calm, and let life carry you? If we stop being constantly hungry for more, would we actually be granted more than we’ve ever dreamed possible? 🙏🏻

Let’s examine this: in aching to be a success, are we really just aching to feel at peace with who we are? That won’t be found in aiming for success — that peace is available right here, right now, with absolutely no requirement necessary.

Now, is there anything inherently wrong with desiring to succeed? Of course not! However, the feelings of inadequacy that often drive this quest so often make us suffer instead of bring us a deep feeling of contentment. Also, when have any of us ever achieved something we’ve longed for and then finally been granted with a long-lasting, unwavering, unmoving sense of peace? Hunger, as it goes, really only leads to more hunger.

Begin now. Examine the origin of your drive to achieve and succeed. Does it derive from a deep feeling of completion, or a deep feeling of not being enough or not being worthy?

We don’t need to prove ourselves. We’re already worthy, complete, and whole! Quite possibly, as Alan Watts had put it, the whole point of this life is just to be alive. When deep peace is felt, nothing is a success or failure any longer — all is wide open and free. That, my friends, is what you’re after. ✨

✌️Cheers,

Karisa

Popping the Ego Balloon

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Human beings have been caught up in a world of delusion for a long time. We’ve come to believe very much that we are separate entities that stand apart from all else, and we’ve created hardy egos as a result.

To hold up this tenuous illusion of being a separate entity, we have to live in duality and find an “other” to keep our egos alive. We can then only know these false ego identities in comparison to other things — I can only be a Christian if I know what it means to be not a Christian. I can only be a Republican if I know what it means to be a Liberal. I can only be moral if I know what it means to be immoral. I can only know what it means to be “happy” I know what it means to be “sad”. Do you see? It would be impossible to see one without the other. These dualities need their opposites to survive. The ego lives in this (imaginary) place of duality.

Our egos are formed through convention (such as language), thought, what and who we’ve been exposed to, by our cultures, by our societies, and by the accumulation of energies and emotions we’ve attached stories to.

(What is not a convention, label, thought, or idea?)

The ego can, in fact, only survive by being continuously upheld. It needs constant stoking, comparison, and propagandizing to help fuel it. We create elaborate stories about ourselves, want to impress others, and cling to religious, political, and moral beliefs to uphold our feelings of being an individual. We see this most often in social media –we portray ourselves as “happy”, put together, and we use our page to promote our personal beliefs (which also need to be stoked and promoted to be upheld). We promote our own personal propaganda to feed the ego.

Who are we trying to convince by doing so? Not others — ourselves.

On a deep level, our false ego identities make us deeply uncomfortable and insecure, hence the near constant battling of opposites (religious wars, divisions of all kinds, moral debates, political debates, etc.). We only defend or need justification for things that we aren’t so secure about — otherwise, our true peace and security would need no justification or defense.

(What is without perspective?)

Upon self-inquiry (looking into the truth of your being) one might quickly find that even the ego is easy to poke holes through — sure, your body-mind has its natural preferences, quirks, talents, and tendencies, but all of the layers of thought, belief, defenses, staunch and unforgiving principles and labels we accumulate are quickly seen to be nothing but superfluous appendages and based on our illusions of being nothing more than a soul encapsulates inside of a body, looking out onto a world that’s in relation to it.

In reality, all is connected. This is easy to see — everything is an incomprehensible web, constantly creating, recycling, and destroying itself. There is no unintelligent matter. You are this vast, intelligent, supreme, limitless whole; you aren’t simply an ego.

If you don’t see how this is so, I implore you to begin self-inquiry. Investigate the truth of who you take yourself to be in an open-hearted, truly authentic way. What you might find in this investigation is what human beings truly long for — an identity that needn’t be constantly upheld, but an ever-present, unchanging, limitless peace and freedom.

Xoxo,

Karisa

An Invitation to a Place-less Place From Which You’ve Never Left

I’d like to invite you to a place-less place.

Here there are no requirements,

no prerequisites,

and no agenda.

 

Simply

come as you are.

Simply

be as you are. 

 

I’d like to invite you to a place-less place —

dimensionless, timeless, boundless,

and free.

Here, there is no authority.

 

Here, there is no author

yet the story

is always being written.

 

Here we answer to the call of the wild,

Rising and falling like the ocean tide,

free to be.

just.

be.

 

Here, the greatest teacher is the wisdom of your life;

There is

only

life.

 

Here there is endless surrender —

You won’t need your story,

your biography,

or your to-do list.

 

Here, it’s already being done.

 

Here there is only

what is

and it is without want;

We rest.

We rest and

there isn’t anything left to find.

 

I invite you to this place-less place

From which you’ve never left  —

You are here.

You are it.

 

Here, there is no there,

but only this.

Only here.

 

Inhale,

exhale.

Just how far do you have to go to be who you’ve always been?

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Undressing: A Tale of Glorious Loss

Undressing: A Tale of Glorious Loss 

 

I spent the majority of my young life in an anxious quest to discover my true nature and the true nature of all things. This seemed like a noble quest, and I filled journals with my findings, documenting my ever-changing ideas, motivations, desires, and discoveries. I dabbled in various philosophies and wholeheartedly invested my interest and attention in law-of-attraction spirituality. I knew one thing was true: life is not what it appears to be on the surface.

 
In my youth I awkwardly attempted to play by the rules set by society, but typically I felt like a round peg in a square hole. I had a difficult time socializing and relating to others in my peer groups, so I inevitably spent a lot of time alone, contemplating all things and desperately hoping to find an answer that might satisfy the anxious longing I felt (but had no idea how to placate).

 
Truth be told I was anxious and irritable most of the time. I had an itch I couldn’t yet scratch. I then began seeking anything I could to help alleviate this discomfort — i sought solace in an endless string of boyfriends (all hopelessly wrong for me, of course), in exercise, in perfecting my body and looks, in books and philosophies, in meditation, in drug experimentation, and in many other distracting behaviors. I was lost. Totally, utterly lost — but not hopeless. Though I was painfully desperate for answers to my biggest, burning questions, I had an inextenguishable, fiery optimism that carried me onward. Though I was anxious for more than what I’d received, life was, at the end of the day, a delicious, magical mystery.

Then, everything changed.

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears; I must have been ready. Things changed radically when I turned 25 and stumbled synchronistically into my teacher, who I resonated with deeply. This teacher introduced me to non-duality (“not two”) which can be defined (though definitions fall painfully short) as a philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of non-separation and the intrinsic oneness of all things. I spent the next year fully immersed in this teaching.

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What I found, above all, was that immersing myself in these principles was like getting naked (yep, you read that right). Instead of feeling like I had gained something, I found that many (seeming) layers of delusion and mistaken identity began to fall away gradually. I liken it to having spent 25 years piling on layers and layers of unnecessary clothing — thousands of superfluous hats, socks, mittens, pants, t-shirts, sweaters, and shoes — and then all of those layers being burned in an instant, revealing an indescribable beauty that had been there all along but had been (seemingly) obscured.

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It was like coming home. It would be even more appropriate to say that it was like realizing that I’d never left home at all.

I felt lighter than I’d felt in years. Bad habits, chronic stresses, anxiety, worries, and needless suffering dropped away or lost the power they once seemed to have over me.

(Don’t get me wrong — this wasn’t all happiness and delight. While I studied with my teacher, I was inevitably confronted with all the layers of delusion I’d spent years believing. This is often excruciatingly painful. I could no longer run from painful, uncomfortable emotions or beliefs, and I had what some might like to call “a dark night of the soul”. I fiercely questioned my life in a way I hadn’t before, and this was both intoxicatingly liberating and powerfully confusing.)

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Then, it was over.

I’d exhausted talks with my teacher and, in fact, there was nothing left to learn.

I felt utterly transformed and yet completely unchanged. I’d peeled off many layers of clothing but there was nothing gained.

I’d lost many things, and in this loss there was magic — indescribable, ineffable magic.

I’m an all-together a different woman, yet I’m more “me” than I’ve ever been. By losing myself, I found myself. In the process, all illusions, delusions, and false beliefs I’d carried (like a heavy weight) had been gracefully set down. I travel lighter now –much, much lighter.

As I sit typing this now, I realize that all that I’ve just said is simply a story and an interpretation of what ultimately cannot be interpreted. All of my words about what I’ve learned and how life is now experienced will ultimately fall short, but I cannot help but share.

You who read this now, know that there is a grace, love, and innocence behind all that is seen, all that is felt, and all that is experienced.

Life cannot be defined and resists any definition (if one attempts to collect the river in a bucket, it ceases being the river), but it can be felt.

You can feel it — that magic.

It’s here, right now. Available to you all times, with no requirement necessary to meet it.

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Do you remember?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Un-Becoming

roadWe spend so much of our lives trying to become.

Of course we all, on some level, have the urge to grow and progress, but it’s important to consider the following: no matter what you acquire, achieve, or become, none of it brings lasting fulfillment. 

Haven’t you experienced this?

You’ve achieved something or reached a goal and you’re afterwards left with a feeling of ‘now what?’

We’re told from a very young age that achievement is the key to happiness and that we must earn our happiness and peace through achievement. We’re told we must become something (and yet we’re always feeling like we’ve never quite made it).

Graduating high school is simply a doorway to beginning college, which in turn is a doorway to finding a really great career. Then we’re supposed to climb our way up the ladder until we’re making more money and then finally able to buy a big house, a better car, and a “happier” life. We then work really hard to pay for these things and to save for retirement. Then, when we’re old and gray we’re finally able to relax and enjoy the fruits of all of this labor. We’re told that life is meant to be one achievement after the other and that we must always be in the process of becoming, and that is the road to happiness.

We’re also convinced that objects can bring us peace. Have you ever purchased something you thought might finally bring you a real sense contentment only to find yourself either losing interest in that thing or feeling the urge to continue to purchase more of it? Have you ever founbuyd yourself accumulating other material objects that promised you happiness?

It’s everywhere in our society – commercials, billboards, advertisements. All of these things promise to provide you with a lasting sense of peace, and they inadvertently promise to fill your void.

We’re told that achievement and the accumulation of material objects is the key to happiness and what makes us valuable citizens.

But here’s the thing: we’ve been duped.

There is no object that can bring us peace. There is no objective experience that can bring us peace. Seeking completion prevents you from knowing that you are complete.

We’re all searching endlessly for peace and happiness, restless and overworked. We’re bogged down by stress, exhaustion, worry, and anxiety. We’re all seeking for something which cannot be sought — do you see how this could make you suffer?

So here’s what’s true: that bigger house, that nicer car, that better body, that romantic partner, that material object, that career, that diploma, that outfit, or that achievement will never give you fulfillment. If you think any of these things have or might, know that the feeling of fulfillment will only be temporary – and wouldn’t that, then, negate the fulfillment?

So while we’ve invested so much time and energy into seeking outward peace, it can be difficult to aliberatedccept that all of that seeking has been for naught. However, allow this knowing to liberate you.

There isn’t anything you need.

You’re complete.

There’s nowhere to go.

There’s nothing to acquire.

This being said, there isn’t anything wrong with achievement, acquiring material objects, or desiring anything at all once you’ve come to the realization that nothing can possibly bring you lasting peace. A weight is then lifted. There is less pressure and these things are allowed to be seen as simply fun and experiential rather than crucial.

Rest easy knowing that the larger part of you rests in utter perfection and completion.

Rest easy knowing there’s nothing that the larger part of you wants or needs.

Rest easy.

What Have You Forgotten?

Let me ask you this:

What have you forgotten?

What are you not seeing?

Have you become so lost in this dream that you’ve forgotten who you really are?

I don’t mean the labels given to you by society.

I don’t mean the labels you’ve given yourself.

What I’m referring to is not a concept; it’s something that words cannot ever touch.

It’s so close you might miss it, but…

You’ve never left it.

(you may imagine that you have).

Have you become so lost in this dream?

We seek endlessly for what we’ve forgotten.

We seek pleasure (but when we seek pleasure, we also invite pain. There cannot be one without the other)

We seek fulfillment in objects.

We seek pleasure in substances.

We look for answers in ancient texts that are only concepts pointing to what is not conceptual.

Ideas, names, and labels—

These are concepts which can only be formulated in thought.

What is not a thought?

Let me ask you again…. What is here that is NOT a thought?

Ask this question then let it go.

Ask this question and don’t try to find the answer in thought.

Holdhold in lightly.

Have you gotten lost in this dream?

In this dream we become fixated on ourselves.

We become hypnotized by our thoughts and we take ourselves to be a thought (you are much more).

Don’t you remember?

In this dream we think we are separate from all else,

But this cannot ever be.

Don’t you remember?

Who are you?

You are not a thought.

You are not your name.

You are not a label.

You are not your past.

You are not your future.

Who are you in this moment?

Don’t answer this in thought.

Ask it and hold it lightly…

Then let it go.

Have you gotten so lost in this dream?

Remember…

The past is non-existent (can you touch it?)

The future is a concept (can you reach it?)

It’s only ever NOW.

Right now.

Don’t you remember?

Today I invite you to rest in this moment —

In this one Infinite now.

Remember that the boundaries between you and all else are only imagined.

On the surface there appears to be distance between you and all else,

But this is the greatest illusion.

There are no boundaries.

There are no borders.

There are no limits.

Don’t you remember?

Don’t you remember that you are the wave?

You are the wave that cannot ever possibly be separate from the ocean.

flyin

 

Have you gotten so lost in this dream?

Wake up.

Why I Choose Homebirth

 

Why I Choose (And Adore) Homebirth

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I remember the very first moment I let some of my more conservative family members know that I’d chosen to birth Amelia at home with a midwife. I received quite the strong reaction. I even received e-mails from well-intentioned family members detailing the risks of such an event along with horror stories they’d dug up online or heard from others. Others just seemed to feel it was a “super duper hippie” choice, one that was out-of-touch with today’s modern science.

Well, here’s the deal: it’s neither the scary, risky, uneducated event that some feel it is, nor is it a “super hippie dippie” birthing-in-the-backyard-while-waving-incense-and-chanting sort of occasion that others might feel it is.

In fact, I am monumentally, enormously, profoundly passionate about home birth. Not only is it considered to be a safer option for healthy, low-risk women (yes, seriously!), but the level of care one receives from a midwife is unparalleled.

Midwives have gradually been stereotyped as sandal-clad, incense waving old hippies, but these kinds of stereotypes became perpetuated and popularized by doctors in early 1900’s who began to argue that a woman’s body was essentially flawed, that childbirth was an inherently dangerous thing, and that midwives were “ignorant”, “dirty”, and unfit for caring for birthing women.

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Of course all of these stereotypes are totally misguided.

Dr. Joseph DeLee in the 1920s argued that childbirth was a “pathalogic process from which few escape damage”, and therefore proposed a sequence of medical interventions designed to save a woman from the “evils” that are “natural labor”.

Interventions then became the norm, and women began to view the birth process as scary, risky, and inherently full of issues. Women began to distrust their own bodies and view birth as a purely medical event, one which cannot be done without the aid of a medical team.

It’s helpful to examine how mammals birth: privately, safely, without distraction, and in dim lighting or darkness. If a predator appears, the labor is slowed or held off to ensure that the baby can be born safely and without threat. Our bodies are no different; as mammals, our bodies seek this same comfort, security, and quiet.

Though we aren’t surrounded by predators, the hospital is a foreign place full of unfamiliar sounds, surroundings, smells, and people. A woman’s body is likely to view this as an unsafe area to  birth, hence the likelihood of interventions (such as drugs to help speed up the labor process).

So here, then, is why I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with midwifery and the care I’ve received: a midwife views birth as a natural, safe, and normal life event. Midwives view women as fully capable of giving birth. Midwifery care is ongoing, deeply personal, and makes a woman feel prepared for the incredibly sacred event that is birth through education, social support, clinical assessment, and health promotion. Midwifery encourages the mind-body connection, recognizing that birth is spiritual and emotional, and allows women to birth with strength.

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Being home was nothing short of incredible when I had Amelia. There wasn’t a single moment that I wished I was elsewhere, that I wanted or needed drugs or an intervention, or that I was fearful or anxious. I was allowed the space to get into my “zone”, a deeply primal, intuitive space that allowed my body to do its job unhindered.

I learned to trust my instincts and the ancient wisdom residing within my body; I knew exactly when I needed to push and my body intuitively moved into the best positions to birth the baby. I learned just what a woman by the name of Krystal Trammell meant when she said, “Birth begins and unfolds almost entirely in the mind”.

All in all, choosing a caregiver is one of the most important decisions a pregnant woman can make. Choosing a caregiver that will make you feel strong, supported, empowered, and wholly informed is key. Whether a woman chooses to birth with a midwife or a doctor, the important thing is that she feels safe.

 

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In the end, we got to climb right into bed and stay put for a few days

(which wasn’t half bad!)

 

 

 

 

**I should also note that midwives are skilled, trained, and know how to handle any complications that might arise (though through the intensely personal care they give a mother, most complications can be detected far in advance and are therefore non-emergent). I also have a solid plan in place to transport care in the event that I should need to be seen by a medical team.**