Like the sun , you shine

by Jo Lawrence-Mills

Sometimes, when you stop trying to save people, they don’t like it. They call you bad, unkind, an abandoner. Instead of meeting their own feelings of rejection, fear and shame, they try to make you feel guilty. They lash out. They blame their unhappiness on you. They want the ‘old you’ back; they want their fantasy of you. They want their saviour.

They don't want you; they want the dream.

The most liberating lesson you will ever learn: Nobody can make you happy. And you are not responsible for anybody else’s happiness.

You are free. Freedom is your nature, and always was.

So, like the Sun, you shine. You don’t wait for others to shine, you don't need an excuse to shine, you simply shine. You don’t feel responsible for all the suns that haven’t yet discovered their own shining. You simply shine. You walk your path with courage. You teach by example. And if others are upset by your shining, if they judge you, if they become jealous, if they attack you for not making them the centre of your world, that’s okay. That’s their work. That's their path, their pain to process and feel. You wish them well. You hold them in compassion, perhaps. But they do not own you any longer. You are free. 

You can love others enough to let them go. For true love has the fragrance of freedom, a thrilling sense of vastness to it.

- Jeff Foster

The Turbulence of Healing

by Jo Lawrence-Mills


Healing from trauma - which I am defining here as chronically suppressed emotion - can sometimes feel like going through severe turbulence on a night flight. When your squished-down grief, terror, shame and rage decide to break through the ego’s defences and surge into conscious awareness, when you start to un-freeze and contact the raw and inconvenient truth of what’s inside you, it can feel really disorienting, uncomfortable, can feel unsafe and unnatural, can feel like you’ve lost control, can feel like it will never end and you’ll be stuck in darkness forever. But the turbulence is perfectly safe, and normal, and healthy! And it will pass, and your flight WILL arrive at its destination, and you WILL heal.

In the midst of the turbulence of emotion, it’s easy to get lost in thinking and fantasy, in fast-forwarding the movie, leaving the present and imagining the future. “This is too much”. “It’s going to get worse”. “I’m going to die”. “Something is going horribly wrong”. “I am broken”. “I need to get off this damn flight...”

But emotional turbulence is not a sign of your failure or brokenness, just as actual turbulence on a flight is not a sign that you have gone off course, or the pilot has lost control, or the airplane is broken, or the destination is now impossible to reach.

Emotion is always safe, even if it sometimes feels unsafe in its intensity. The body can be trusted absolutely. Intensity is not inherently dangerous. Planes are built to withstand even the most extreme turbulence. And so you learn to breathe through the discomfort, and lean in to the rawness of the moment, and this is how even the deepest trauma is ultimately healed. Through love. Through deep acceptance. Through faith. Through penetrating even our most profound discomfort with a loving awareness. Through coming out of our minds, out of our futures, and into our present bodies...

Trust the turbulence, friend; it means you’re already soaring.

- Jeff Foster

The Miracle Of Change

by Jo Lawrence-Mills


What is the point of arguing with life as it is?

The ego replies, "Yeah, but if I stop resisting the way things are, change will never happen, things will stay the same, or get worse..."

You see, the ego does not understand the ancient mysteries of change and healing. It truly believes - in relationships, in your career, in life decisions, in global matters - that peace can only come through war, that real change can only happen through hating where we are and desperately wanting to be somewhere else.

Here is the paradox of change. When we tire of the internal violence, when we are no longer at war with the way things are now, when we no longer argue with the present scene in the movie of our lives, we come to rest. And then, from a place of rest and a deep connection to the ground of Now, new vistas open up, hitherto unexplored possibilities reveal themselves. New connections are made, new solutions emerge. From a place of equanimity and acceptance, things that seemed certain are now not so certain, blocks are no longer blocks, old futures begin to collapse and new futures become possible. Energies that seemed intolerable a moment ago are now allowed in, allowed to move, to express and release their creativity and healing power. Because our eyes are open, new details are apparent in the present scene, details that we had become blind to, in our rush to "a better future".

From a place of peace, we can more easily take the next step. And sometimes the next step means taking no step at all, but falling deeply in love with where we are. This is NOT the same as giving up. This is not passivity or toleration of the 'negative'. This is not the same as abandoning all hope of a better future. There is no abandonment here. This is not stagnation. This is not weakness. This is true courage. The willingness to slow down, be present, drink in all the richness - the joy and the sorrow, the doubt and the creativity - of the present scene.

The movie has not been written yet; it writes itself as we go along. And in resisting the present scene, you are actually resisting the entire movie. Resistance can only breed resistance.

Sometimes, the point of arguing with life, is to get you to a point where you are tired of arguing with life. And then you sink deeply into the present moment, resting in its embrace, trusting the way of things, accepting your own imperfections. And then everything seems possible, and everything feels alive as you feel alive, and fearless, and real change can come. Perhaps slowly, perhaps in a great tidal wave. But you are no longer pushing for it. You are letting it happen. You are aligned at last, no longer part of the problem, but already an expression of the solution.

Sometimes you need to stop trying to change the moment, for the moment to change....

...all by itself. 

- Jeff Foster

The Nest of Intimacy

by Jo Lawrence-Mills


It takes courage to listen to someone as they share their joy, fear, anger and pain. To be soft and receptive as you listen. To be aware of your own defences – your impulses and urges to attack or withdraw, to suppress yourself or suppress the other - and just stay present, and receive 'what is'. To hear another’s truth, without trying to fix them or advise them, without trying to change their experience in any way. To hear their joy and their pain, their disappointment and their anger too. To hear the effect something you said or did had on them, even if that triggers a big discomfort in you, even if it makes you feel ashamed, or guilty, or afraid. To be aware of your triggers, to honour them, to breathe into them, to let them into the light, to bless them with awareness, but to keep listening. To make it safe for your friend or partner to be vulnerable, to step into their own courage, to tell their truth, the truth that hurts, the truth that frees, the truth that heals. To give them as much space as they need to share. To hold them as they break, as they burn, as they confess, as they tremble with fear or joy. To give them that gift. The gift of relational safety. The gift of active listening.

And it takes courage to speak up, too! To be clear and assertive and direct, yet remain open and delicate. To listen as you speak. To say “no” when you mean no, and “yes” when you mean yes. To tell your raw truth. To let your friend, family member or partner know what is okay for you and what is not, what hurts and what brings joy, what angers you and what makes you feel loved. To let them know if they’ve crossed an invisible line with you, violated a boundary of yours. Maybe they just didn’t know. We are not each other’s mind-readers. To speak your raw honest vulnerability, without blaming them or shaming them, without name-calling, without attack, but without protecting them from your vision either. It is a fine line for sure, and it requires presence, and slowness, and great humility, and a willingness to drop the need to be ‘right’.

It takes courage to break a life-long addiction to people-pleasing, to putting the feelings and needs of others before your own, to “protecting” the other from your truth, to silencing or shaming yourself in order to avoid conflict or rejection.

It takes courage to a break a life-long addiction to narcissistic self-absorption, to putting your own feelings and needs before someone else’s, to silencing or trying to change someone in order to avoid your own pain, rejection and fear of abandonment.

It takes courage to be fully present with another and fully present with yourself.

This is the highest possibility of relationship: To weave together a co-created nest of presence, where we both feel safe to share our authentic selves. Where we break codependent bonds, stop trying to control or save or each other, or protect each other from the pain and loss and ecstasy of living, and speak our messy truths, taking fierce ownership of our own pain and joy, our own thoughts and feelings, our own urges and desires, our own values and passions.

In a nest like this, true love can surely blossom.

- Jeff Foster