The other day I walked into the frutería (the fruit store which also sells vegetables) to buy a baking potato and some sweet potatoes, as Germán, the owner, has the best in town.
As I climbed the several stairs up into the shop I noticed a mid age woman at the checkout counter, smiling away. She seemed to be so happy. I was kind of judgmental and semi-constructed a story that there was something wrong with her, that she suffered from extreme emotions and was off-balance right now. This created a sense of compassion for the woman.
I circled around the row of bananas and pineapples to the vegetable section and picked up a couple sweet potatoes. I observed that the happy middle age woman with long dark hair was still at the check out counter, and indeed was there with a mid age man with long gray hair in a pony tail. The check out was taking a long time, but she kept smiling, as if truly ecstatic.
I picked up my one baking potato just to the right of the cashier and began waiting my turn.
The transaction between the woman, her companion, and Germán, was going on and on. There didn’t seem to be a problem, it was simply very slow. And, I’m impatient anyhow.
Their interminably long payment process gave me time to continue observing the pair – something I enjoy and do all the time, naturally.
He looked kind of familiar. Was he the native American man I had met a couple years ago when I took my American friends to a retreat center for a spiritual spa day?
The interaction between the three of them continued, no one seemed in any hurry. The woman continued smiling, as if at a private joke. Utter glee. I noticed subtle crow’s feet at the outer corners of her eyes.
She kept radiating and radiating joy without stopping. I wondered what made her so happy. Was she newly in love?
I was feeling pretty grotty that day and although I knew the importance and power of radiating how you want to feel, I wasn’t able to muster that positivity right then.
Continuing to study her from a distance I suddenly thought, “Hey, she looks kind of like my good friend Fernanda.” At that moment I was glad to be quite camouflaged between my mask, sombrero and glasses. I had run into Fernanda a few weeks earlier and with hugs and smiles we had promised to get together soon.
Their transaction finally was arriving at its conclusion: the amount owed had been stated and the man reached into his wallet and fumbled to extract money and a parking voucher.
The woman turned her face toward his as she laughed about how the various slips of paper he was pulling out were not from the nearby parking lot. Actually, it was more like she was the sun and simply turned her radiance toward him and the parking vouchers for the moment. The radiance remained what it was: Unconditional. Detached from any specific condition.
It was Fernanda.
I felt shame and sudden gladness at not having been noticed, because I could neither match nor bear my friend’s effervescence right then.
They left and it was my turn to pay.
Laugh lines or frown lines?
My friend’s blissful countenance has stayed with me these last several days.
I know my friend is a spiritual practitioner, following a deep and respectful path of the ancient people of this region, the Mexica.
“Looks like it’s taking hold and working well for her,” I’ve said to myself. “I hope so.”
And what about me?
As I mentioned, I’ve not been feeling up to par. I’ve been obsessed with my digestive maladies, working with them quietly, diligently, on my own.
While I am feeling a lot of peace, a very welcome sensation, I’ve definitely let my concern for my physical well-being and longevity deflate my own joy.
But this smile of Fernanda’s. Those crow feet.
What a way to “age”.
Better to have laugh lines than frown lines (which I’ve noticed in the mirror, lately. Oh no!)
You are what you take the time to become
These reflections bring to mind something my mom said in her last year of living:
"This is what I've taken the time to become"
In other words, what you dedicate yourself to, becomes you. You become that.
As time passes and skin begins to lose some elasticity, it becomes ever clearer the importance of doing, being and radiating what I want to feel, every moment. Or as many moments as I can remember to, and muster that.
How to change “bad” into “good”
Several years ago I was dedicated to a neuro reprogramming protocol, called the Dynamic Neuro Retraining System(DNRS).
I practiced the system for at least an hour a day for a year and a half. The purpose was to retrain my limbic system so that it no longer acted from a misperceived (no longer) state of emergency. The idea (based on neuroplasticity) that by not “feeding” the parts of the brain that have circuited themselves from an original trauma of some sort, they will naturally whither from disuse.
At the same time, by creating new (positive, happy, warm, loving) connections in the brain, these eventually replace the old ones. Thus, the limbic system, the part of the brain that deals with emergencies (and when stuck in the “on” position, over the long-term can create other physical symptoms and illnesses,) returns to calm.
When the limbic system is “healed” in this way, it has been seen that the symptoms or illnesses that sprung from the original trauma reaction, can also calm.
The system involves actively creating new associations to previous triggers in the brain. In short, I spent over an hour each day for close to 500 days in a row, imagining my life – both past and future - at its most beautiful and harmonious.
And you know what? It changed my present!
Only several weeks into the practice I realized that I had invested decades of my adult life in negative interpretations and beliefs about my childhood and that it no longer felt true.
Literally, by accentuating the positive and creating new images, feelings and memories, I had created a new story about my past. I remember standing there after a session and proclaiming out loud, with awe and wonder, “I had a happychildhood!”
My experience through DNRS showed me how what I focus on, literally becomes real. It happens. My new feeling about my upbringing was that it was very good, versus only bad, fraught with traumas.
Immerse yourself in your heart home and see what happens
Confluent with these reflections on “You become what you do,” my sister just sent me a photo of a recent mosaic she created.
The piece is so full of brilliance and splendor.
I know my sister has loved sparkly, twinkly, dazzlingly clear gems for years. She used to make jewelry out of these. Now she has turned her creativity toward mosaics.
I know my sister well. We are very close. I know she has suffered from patterns of negative thinking about herself and works constantly to heal the past, find her voice, and be the woman she wants to be, freely.
Like me, but in her own way, she has these extreme qualities: from worry and fear and belief in old childhood wounds and interpretations, to being in her shining, bright, heart connected spiritual beingness.
It hurts me to think of the severity of her pain, when the gloriousness of her love beats from within her – beautiful and glowing as her most recent mosaic.
I suppose it hurts because A. I love her, and B. It resonates with my own version of the same: I am a vivacious, generous woman when I am engaged with life, others, and doing what I love. When I get out of or am pushed out of my own way, I am joyous and fun, brilliant, and worthy of my name, Rainbow Gate.
Left to the weight of gravity and not pushing back, I can fall into what I refer to as a cesspool of negativity and personal doom – castigating myself for perceived failures that I am ruining my life. Severe disappointment with myself and this condition called Living.
But look at this art
When I see the artwork of my dear sister, knowing she is spending hours every week in endeavors such as this, I want to say, “Keep going!”
I feel gladness and optimism, imagining this brilliant mosaic on display in her home, something she sees regularly.
Because, I believe that immersing herself in these colors and characteristics that resonate with her so deeply is time that couldn’t be better spent. Because, I believe that as she spends time seeing, handling and creating with these materials that match her heart’s truest expression, she will be and is becoming the woman she wants to be, more and more.
I know for a fact this works. This is howit works.
We can rewrite unnecessary and unhelpful stories.
We are able to rewire ourselves for joy and full expression of our highest, best, deepest glowing.
And the face lines?
I remember a Buddhist monk leading a retreat I was on suggested that if we were having challenges with being stuck in difficult emotions, that we simply smile during meditation. This simple conscious facial expression sends a message to the brain of happiness, and so it is.
Maybe it’s not too late to stop feeding our frown lines and instead turning toward cultivating laugh lines – and all that that implies.
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow, conscious living
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