May 27, 2011

What do Prince William & Princess Catherine, Arnold Schwarzenegger & Oprah have in Common?

Reflections on Beginnings, Endings and Duality.

Okay, now that I have your attention, I won’t make you wait.

What could these diverse celebrities possibly share at the moment other than the media spotlight?  Plenty, when we look below the surface glitz and shiny bright lights of media coverage.

They are all experiencing public, highly-publicized shifts.

Yes, like so many of us, they are “shifting.” Bigger still, the fact that their shifts are promoted and known to the point of global awareness is no accident.  These players are in the international spotlight – some consciously, others not – to bring laser focus to a critical realization we all need to have as we shift into being our authentic selves.

Sure enough, they’re not all shifting in the same direction nor with conscious intention, but their shifts have one major characteristic in common.  It’s a characteristic we all share, in fact, it’s a defining characteristic of who we are.  That characteristic is what I call duality and define as our two-sided nature, our yin and yang, femininity and masculinity, analytical and creative sides, infinite ability to be “both/and” rather than remain limited by “either/or”.

Truth be told, we are not merely dual in nature (even that’s too limiting), we are total, we are infinite.  

Yet it is when the twin sides of our natures clash in blatant juxtaposition that we are revealed to be the paradoxical creates we truly are.

And there’s the rub.  Paradox is a challenge for most of us.  We love order, control, and clarity. We don’t like paradoxes.  The mind can’t resolve a paradox.  The ego is frustrated by a paradox.  Luckily (as the Tao Te Ching reminds us) the heart celebrates it. So I invite you to move into your heart as you keep reading and celebrate these paradoxes with me.

Let me illustrate with some stories, stories are always more fun.

Will and Kate: A Shifting Fairytale

He, the heir apparent to the British throne.  She, a lovely commoner with more than her fair share of whit, brains and charm.  Together, all eyes were upon them as they broke nearly 400 years of British tradition and wed on April 29 2011.

Oh how we want to label and predict their futures.  Oh how we want to tie them up in a neat little package, presuming their royal life of perfection living happily ever after in a London palace.  Oh, how they have changed the game on us.

After some reflection, I realized that what fueled my royal wedding fervor was my fascination with Will and Kate as non-conformists and my love for how they refused to be “either/or” and instead have boldly blazed a trail to embrace “both/and”. Will they live as royalty or commoners? They refuse to choose one, and instead will do both.  Yes, it’s a Cinderella story for a new era, no rags to riches saga here, instead it’s nearly the opposite.  They were engaged AND lived together.  They are wealthy AND living without servants.  They are royal AND living as normal a life as possible in a small village in Wales.  They are beautiful, powerful and influential AND humble.  They will both lead AND serve.

In the human history of monarchies around the world and how we think about royalty, they’re a paradox. In the course of human evolution, a beacon.  The Bishop of London said it better than I can when he delivered their wedding sermon:

It is of course hard to wean ourselves away from self-centeredness . . . You have both made your decision today – “I will” – and by making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.

We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.

I hope with all my heart that Will and Kate will live up to that promise and continue to model it for the world for generations to come.

The Schwarzenegger Scandal: Let There Be Light

photo credit: jurvetson

What would pop culture be without a celebrity scandal of the month/week/day? On the Richter scale of celebrity scandals, however, the Arnold Schwarzenegger child-out-of-wedlock (and lord only knows what else) infamy is pretty close to a 10.

Rather than dwell on the drama, let’s look at what’s really playing out. 

Energetically what’s going on is the truth of who Arnold is – all of who he is – is simply coming to light.

In ages past many men in similar situations were able to mask their indiscretions until or even beyond their deaths.  Today’s rate of accelerated change makes that impossible.  (I’m having déjà vu about Tiger Woods . . .)

Just as it did for Arnold, each of our dark secrets, buried emotions and skeletons lurking in the closet now craves the light.  We can consciously make space for these ignominies and chose to allow them to exist, heal or honor them (whichever is called for), or we can unconsciously resist them.  (Considering what you resist persists, I don’t recommend the latter.)  In fact, the longer we try to sequester our secret wounds and failures, the more likely they are to force themselves into the light, with no conscious choice on our parts. Ouch.

And we can thank Arnold, yes you heard me right, thank him for teaching us an invaluable lesson: to stop closing our eyes to the totality of who we each are and instead, to see one another, really see each other for ALL of who we are rather than only look at the safe, funny, attractive parts.  Arnold Schwarzenegger is both movie star and politician.  He is both husband AND adulterer.  He is both testosterone-filled horny guy AND loving father.  Paradoxical? Perhaps, but only because we’ve been bucketing people into tidy little categories for so long. Only because we want our heroes to be perfect and feign shock and dismay when they’re not.  Arnold is a potent reminder that we’re all human, and as humans, all paradoxical.

Oprah:  Mississippi Miracle.

photo credit: Alan Light

Talk about a story.  Whew. Watching her final episode, I was struck by what a spiritual, conscious message she intentionally conveyed, was thrilled by it and for the world, and could not imagine a more fitting end to her quarter-century network television juggernaut.  There’s another thing Oprah conveyed repeatedly in that episode: she remarked upon what a miracle her life has been.

Miracle, paradox, and more all rolled into one is Oprah Winfrey.  Anyone who knows even an inkling about her knows she was both poor black child AND is one of the wealthiest and most influential women in the world.  That she wass both abused child AND transforming our understanding of childhood sexual abuse.  Both extravagant AND humble, both teacher AND student.  Both ending one venture, AND beginning her next evolution by founding a cable television network aptly named with her initials, OWN.

Like Will and Kate, Oprah has refused to accept “either/or” classifications and embraces the “both/and”, encouraging each of us to do the same in our own lives.  

Is her life and what she has become a miracle?

Considering the times she was born into and raised in, and considering her circumstances, yes, but no more than each of us is also a miracle, although we may not have as dramatic a backdrop as Oprah to so clearly see it.

A New Mindset for an Era of Higher Consciousness

The lesson each of these celebrities has exemplified is not “having it all” or going for your dreams.  Yes, they did those things too and there is value in learning from them, but that’s another story.  The lesson most applicable today, as we experience an evolution in consciousness, is that we are called to change our mindset.  

We are called to evolve how we think of ourselves and others.

We are swept, cajoled, and sometimes even forced out of the “either/or” and into the “both/and” of embracing and integrating ALL parts of ourselves, accepting and allowing ALL aspects of others.  Only this way of thinking gets to the truth of who we are and allows us to support the truth in others.

One of my favorite bloggers, Alexis Neely, recently shared this on her blog.  It’s as fitting a summary as I could fashion myself; I echo her sentiments and invite you to answer her question in comments below:

“One of the things I am learning is how to truly live the both/and of who I am.  I am finding the middle way of embracing all that I am and all that I am evolving to be — Alexis Neely, the strong lawyer, the powerhouse entrepreneur and Ali Shanti, the free spirit – all of me.

What would it look like to embrace all of you in the best, most delicious mash-up of all times?  What part of you are you currently leaving behind in your current reality and would love to integrate, if only you could?”

Alexis, Will, Kate, Arnold and Oprah aren’t the only ones leaving behind an old reality that didn’t reflect who they really are; we’re all moving into an integrated living expression of our authentic selves.  Personally speaking, for today I am both marketing entrepreneur AND yoga teacher; both spirituality writer AND Zumba instructor; both corporate trainer AND helpful wife and mother; speaker of both Spanish AND English; cooker of both frozen pizza AND Mexican chiles rellenos; leader of group meditations AND frustrated in heavy traffic (but oh how the meditating helps!).  It’s messy, it’s a little crazy, it’s fluid, and it fits.  Will it change? Probably.  I expect some things to fall away, others to expand. Throughout I will go with the current and not against it.

Through the shifting I’ve experienced so far, the one thing I’ve learned that is absolutely priceless is this: when I finally gave light to the things I was suppressing, the passions I thought I didn’t have time for, the hobbies and loves and interests I was closeting away, well, then and only then did the whole of who I am really begin to blossom.

Whether your blossoming is painful or graceful, I wish for all of you the same (and know all will receive it); that the light of consciousness shine into every shadowy nook, cranny and crevice of your life.  Because then, when you are fully illuminated as “both/and” instead of only partially visible as “either/or”, you’ll be able to pass it on.

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