All posts by Layla

About Layla

Layla is here to assist you on your journey to self-love and wholeness.

The Middle Ground

I wrote this poem almost exactly twenty years ago. I don’t remember when I last looked at it. But it popped into my mind tonight. Someone close to me is struggling right now; I dedicate this post to him.

The Middle Ground

1
Most of us spend time,
at times,
in the depths of despair;
are blessed with moments
of delight, ecstasy, joy;
but most of our time is spent
in the Middle Ground.
Past-life karma to be worked off;
current-life trauma to be healed;
childhood hurts and disappointments
to be understood and transcended.
We all know how it’s supposed to be:
the lover, the home, the career, the money –
Where fantasy and reality meet,
deep purpose can be found,
inner work can begin.

2
False fronts, two faces, if only we really knew
what others’ lives are like.
It’s one of the best things about therapy groups –
you get to see people with their masks off.
The Pursuit of Happiness brings such pain.

3
Finding a true prophet, a blessed being
with whom you resonate,
can be a lifelong search, and a worthwhile one.
The I Ching says, “It furthers one to see the Great Person.”
Your Great Person will be a mirror
reflecting your inner beauty.
There may be one, or many,
or only a feeling unattached to form.

4
We can imagine ourselves Perfect –
happy, at ease, without sadness or error;
we can imagine ourselves Sinners.
But can we stay in the Middle Ground?
Can we strive, succeed, rejoice,
fail, despair, recover,
strive again?
Can we accept the inner work as primary?
Can we find a way to live in the world,
imperfect as we are,
with thanks?

5
Noticing beauty increases it.
Accepting pain eases it.

6
We each have been given the gift
of life on Earth, the Middle Ground.
And here we stay,
until awareness and service,
serenity and gratitude,
lighten our being
and we fly away.

Layla Ananda
1/16/99

Seeking Comfort

The world is a scary place. So many hard things.  So much to cope with.  

There are storms, fires, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, car accidents, the random building collapsing, a stray bullet firing, a simple trip and fall, that can change or end lives.  Not to mention sicknesses of all kinds.

Then there is the simple fact of being human.  We make mistakes. We hurt others when we don’t mean to. We disagree, sometimes with a fervor that wounds.  We inadvertently trigger each other.  And there are many angry, frightened, selfish, misguided people who think they have the right to hurt others, and do.

Most of us carry wounds – memories, emotions, scars from the past.  We may feel trapped by traumas large or small.  We may live in fear of this pain happening again, or relive it in flashbacks or intense, confusing reactions.

We can so easily feel scared, sad, overwhelmed, annoyed, enraged, guilty, ashamed, helpless. 

How do we help ourselves live in a world full of fearful things? 

We learn comfort.  Perhaps we have come to this crazy, volatile, painful, messy, unpredictable world to learn comfort.  So, so, so important to build comfort into our lives. 

How do we start?  With one thing, a tiny little bit of comfort.  One deep breath, one tiny thought of self-kindness. One person who support us.

We can seek and find a variety of tools – the ones that work for us, whether they work for anyone else or not.  Talking, silence, music, dance, breathing, books, writing, moving, movies, art, therapy, work, play, deep diving into ourselves.  We can find thoughts, feelings, animals, people, beliefs, activities, philosophies that bring comfort, and root out the ones that do not – examine them, explore them, listen to them, gather their wisdom, eventually thank them for their gift. 

We can find the things that are hurting us and learn to release, relieve, integrate.   We can learn to avoid things that cause us harm.  We can accept that pain may arise on the way to comfort.  We can learn to hold on, get help, move through, get to a better place.  And we can grab hold, even if just for a moment, of whatever beauty, sweetness, fun, excitement, enjoyment may happen by.

We can learn to believe that we are worthy of comfort, that finding comfort is a worthy lifelong quest.  We can make it our constant goal.  We can remember to first put on our own oxygen mask, to first comfort ourselves.  We can know for a fact that this brings comfort to others, adds to the love and peace of the world.

We can keep looking for new comfort, tune our radar for it.  Comfort will begin to show up.  Bit by bit, it can fill our life.

Gwen #1

Gwen was my teacher. She gave me a new life. She took my longing for a life of the spirit and made it real. She gave me lessons, and shifted my perspective. I believe she changed my very dna.

I now have the chance to pass on to the world a way of being in the world with the openest of hearts. Open to everything – all joys, all sorrows. We cry tears for the angels, she said, because they aren’t able to. Each piece of our life has profound meaning, yet that which is most precious to us can be tossed out in an instant and leave us the better for it.  Whatever you think or feel, accept it, cherish it, and then turn it on its head, spin it ‘round 180, and accept that too.

Richard Miller in iRest Meditation presents an exercise of feeling a feeling, then feeling its opposite, and eventually feeling them both at the same time.  It is Buddhism, and it is pure Gwen.  Don’t resist anything. Or, as Gwen said, resistance is just a message that the time is not yet right.  Everything is a message, and if we can get our insides untwisted enough from all the hurts of the past and fears of the future, we can receive the messages in present time.

I look forward to sharing the lessons of Gwen, as best I can. I have many, many pages of notes. I hope they will translate into some sort of wisdom, and hope I can present them in a way that spreads joy.  Joy is what I need, so joy will be my goal.  Blessings on our journey. Ho.

Finding Myself

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

A great lake

Creating Ceremonies

One of the things I love to do is to help people create the ceremony that fits them perfectly. The segments, the words, the music, the order – there are so many choices.  It’s fun to find the poem or saying that says just what you want to convey.  It can mean so much to write your own vows – but there are many beautiful pre-written vows as well.

Creating the ceremony can be just as wondrous an experience as the wedding itself.  I can offer ideas and guidance, and just follow your wishes.  Let the joy begin!