The simplest practice to have more compassion, love and joy in your life.

Recently a friend sent me an album with a song on it that she had sung for me. It’s a beautiful song called The Face of God. The chorus goes:

You are the face of God
I hold you in my heart,
You are a part of me
You are the face of God…

You are the face of love
I hold you in my heart
You are my family
You are the face of God…

It’s easy when listening to this song, to think of this friend and feel the love I have for her. My mind also wanders to others I cherish. I feel the profound truth of these lyrics as loved ones come to mind. All the people I love are the face of God to me.

One day I was playing this song during my morning yoga and I thought if anyone is the face of God then everyone is the face of God. That’s obvious I know, but it occurred to me that I don’t act always like that. I wondered what would happen if I did.

It doesn’t mean I have to enjoy everyone’s company or agree with what they do, but if I would see every single person, and every single being as the face of God it would rock my world. So I tried it and it did. I experienced more compassion, love and joy each and every time.

The rodent that is eating my garden is the face of God, (teaching me non-attachment). The crazy talking bearded homeless woman is the face of God, (opening my heart). The gardener who welcomes a cup of water on a hot day, (connects me with my own simple humanity)

It’s a no-brainer to see the face of God in the people you love, and easy to see the face of God in people who look, think and act like you, and even if you don’t know them – kind, generous, smart people look an awful lot like the face of God too.

Where it gets interesting is when you see the face of God in the woman who cuts you off in traffic and then gives you the finger, the politician who stands for everything you despise, or the ex-boyfriend who dumped you and seems to be unduly delighted with his supermodel girlfriend. This isn’t a practice of seeing what gifts or lessons these people have for you. It’s not a practice of questioning why this person has come into your life. It’s much simpler than that.

The whole practice is this:

Just for today,

To every person you see,

Say this in your mind: “You are the Face of God”.

Notice how you feel when you say it. With some people it will elevate your love. Other times it will trigger an impulse of compassion and generosity. Then there are times when the absurdity will make you laugh.

This is not in any way meant to be an emotional bypass. If someone triggers some sadness or anger in you to bubble up then for the love of bacon let your emotions flow. Don’t aim them at the person, but do give your emotions the release they need. Then once you’ve let it out, see the face of that person and just say in your mind “You are the Face of God”. See what happens.

You may not have time for a lot of spiritual practice in your life. But you’ve definitely got time for this.

After you’ve tried it I’d love to hear your experience in the comment section below. If you don’t like the results I offer a money back guarantee.

Love Debra
PS. You are the face of God. Feel it. Be it.
And please share this with someone who is the face of God to you.

The Joy of Anger. Or why I disagree with the Dalai Lama.

Actually I’ve never met the Dalai Lama. I’m basing this only on what I’ve read. And perhaps I’m misinterpreting his words. Maybe if we sat down over a cup of tea or shots of tequila I’d discover that we’re saying the same thing about anger: That it’s just energy, and moving it and expressing it are a wholesome part of a healthy life.

I grew up with a dysfunctional relationship to anger. I feared it. And disowned it. You see my dad was explosive. We’d be having a lovely time and something would set him off – BOOM – He would rage! He didn’t hit us, but his screaming tirades had me fearing for our safety. In my very young world his rants were life-threatening. He didn’t stay with us for long, but my fear of anger lasted for decades.

In my thirties, my acupuncturist kept explaining that my liver was “pushy”.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine the liver represents anger. I could admit I was angry about environmental destruction, cruelty to people and animals, and the many injustices in the world, but he was trying to nudge me towards something less rational, more primal. Try as I did I just couldn’t access it.

It wasn’t until some years later that I felt an explosive energy rise up in me. I was in a therapist’s office and he skillfully made space for me to express it. My immediate urge was to punch and slap and roar like a wild beast. His place was well equipped to allow all of it. All of me. If you’d seen me you’d say was I enraged, and rage it was, but what I noticed more than anything was that I was enlivened. Allowing this energy to be released the moment it was noticed was incredibly freeing.

Though roaring and punching with fist clenched tight I wasn’t aware of any thing in particular I was angry about. It was just pure energy flowing through me. No doubt it was decades of anger I’d pushed down into my body that were erupting like a volcano. It was that primal energy my acupuncturist had been pointing to so many years ago. When thoroughly exhausted I lay in a heap on the floor I began to laugh… and laugh… and laugh. There was unbridled joy trapped behind that geyser of energy, and though I’d never been aware of holding it in, releasing it was the portal to the joy that was trapped underneath.

There was no story that accompanied this outburst. No face I was seeing as I punched and screamed. No bitterness or resentment when I was done. I wasn’t holding anything in. Like an animal I had let it out and let it go. I had shaken it off and it was over. It wasn’t the end of anger. It was the beginning of freedom from holding it in.

Since I don’t live in the soundproof safety of a therapist’s office I don’t let that energy flow anytime it bubbles up.I don’t go around striking out and screaming at people just because I feel it, and I recommend you don’t do that either. It’s never a good idea to aim all that energy at another person. It can easily be overwhelming, even traumatizing.

But I let that explosive energy out as soon as I can, in a safe place, rather than suppress it. Sometimes what starts out like rage, morphs into tears of sadness, followed by joy or relief. It always makes me feel more free and energized.

In the real world it looks something like this:

One morning I woke to my husband complaining about the protein powder I’d bought. It irked me. I felt annoyed before my feet touched the floor. It was the slightest tightening of irritation in my throat. I jumped to my old pattern which was to rationalize my way out of honouring my body’s sensations, saying to myself: “This is so unlike him.” He usually comes and sits on my side of the bed and greets me sweetly, brings me a cup of hot water and lemon, says ‘good morning sleeping beauty’. “You have no right to feel this way.” I told myself. “Get over it.”

So I pushed it down, as I’d done my whole life. It was just a little irritation. I’d get over it. But I noticed right away that I wasn’t feeling close to him. By stuffing down my feelings I had created a wall between us. He wasn’t even aware of it, and it wasn’t his fault. It was because I had just denied myself. I figured I had a choice: 1) I could keep my feelings stuffed down and work all day to recreate the connection I usually feel with my husband, or 2) take the time to honour the sensations of my body, the constriction in my throat, the tightening of my jaw, and see if it shifted things for me.

I warned Mark I was going to freak out for a little while and shut the door. I started smashing the bed, breathing heavily, grunting out my anger, even yelling a bit. He came in and asked. “Is this about me?”  “Well, Yes, and no.” I replied. Your complaints about the protein powder were the catalyst for this explosion, but clearly all of this rage is not about that.” I continued to freak out while he watched. I quickly reached the point where roaring turned into laughing. He laughed along with me. And that closeness I love so much returned.

By paying close attention to my body I notice subtle signals that energy wants release, whether it’s anger or joy or grief, (by the way, you don’t suppress one without suppressing the others)  and I am enlivened by allowing the energies to move.

For more on releasing emotions check out this post.