All you need is love (altogether now)...
Well, loves, A LOT has happened in the last 2 months. It's fitting that I sit to write to you today, as it is exactly the 2 month anniversary of my last day at my corporate job in NYC. And three days later, on December 25, 2016, I was headed back to Southern California. I can't honestly believe that I left L.A. just over 20 years ago. And I can't believe how effortlessly I have transitioned to the laid back energy of the West Coast. But when I DO consider how easy it's been, I can't believe that I survived for nearly 15 years at the comparatively frantic pace of the Big Apple. If I could try to break it down for you, it would be to say this: my life in NYC was all about striving. And my life in L.A. is about THRIVING. New York, for me, was about ego & proving myself. Returning to L.A. is about spirit & connection.
Because here's the thing: I'm an empath. If you feel it, I feel it. If you're stressed out, I'm stressed out. I've had some experiences lately that have shown me just how connected we all are. And as it turns out, environment plays a huge part in my sense of well-being. The vibration, the energy of it, matters. And speaking of matter, the molecules that separate me from you are, well, just molecules. My skin is not a firm barrier that protects me from the world around me. My skin actually feels like more of a window that lets the light in, or a sponge that absorbs the energy around me. I guess some people would say that I'm thin-skinned. Maybe that's why I've been susceptible to criticism as an opera singer. I've been more than a little mystified by thick-skinned individuals, the ones who are singular in their purpose and dismissive of anything in their surroundings or communities that might contradict their purpose. I've even been jealous. Oh, to just be able to ROLL WITH IT for once! What I've learned recently, through sacred soul connections, through reading Gabrielle Bernstein's book Spirit Junkie, through committing to ramp up my freelance work as a voice teacher and a health coach, even through our recent election, is that LOVE must be at the center of all our acts. I've also learned that being an empath is in fact my greatest gift. That I can share your experience, and be affected by your story or even simply by your presence -- AHHHH!!! I used to think that it was such a curse, because I had put myself in a position where I was deflecting stress and negative energy on a daily basis, sometimes minute by minute. But as I connect with other health coaches and other healers, as I learn from heart-driven entrepreneurs, as I come to understand that my voice isn't about me, it's about expressing the hopes and sorrows and loves and losses and dreams of others, I realize that I can be thin-skinned and thrive. It just requires doing EVERYTHING from a place of love. Self-love, neighbor-love, stranger-love, soul-love, taco-love, cactus-love, crystal-love, love, Love, LOVE!
With the help of some friends, I've managed to mostly keep up a regular (and still evolving) meditation practice for about a year. The method that has been most useful to me is called METTA. It's a loving-kindness mantra practice, that acknowledges the basic needs of all: my needs, your needs, the needs of acquaintances and antagonists, the needs of strangers, and the utter interconnectedness of us all. (Learn more about metta here.)
My favorite blend lately has been: "May I/you/we be safe. May I/you/we be happy. May I/you/we be healthy. My I/you/we live with ease and be at peace. May love expand within and around me/you/us." This mantra has reminded me just how alike we all are. We all want to be safe, happy, healthy, at peace, and loved. Metta has made me more compassionate especially towards people whose beliefs I can't for the life of me understand. I had an experience over the weekend that clarified the gift of my empathy and even opened me to consider new creative ideas. I went to a sound-healing ceremony with a friend -- actually, I went to two separate sound-healing ceremonies within 3 days of one another (man, the pump was primed for this!) -- and was moved in new ways by the music as I metta'ed my way through it. Moved to want to team up with ambient and meditation music composers to create something new. Moved to want to offer workshops on improvised sound-healing, to organize a festival overflowing with healing and music and healthy food and movement and love. Moved to start writing and releasing guided meditation tracks. Moved to use my musical gift honed over 20 years as a professional opera singer to create something dedicated to healing, to creating community, to elevating the vibration of the attendees/participants/recipients -- which, quite frankly, have been my favorite elements of being an opera singer. Working in community with other artists, combining our voices to raise the vibration of those around us, using music as a means to nourish the soul.
So my question is this: how can YOU invite more love into your life? How can you raise your own vibration? Maybe it's something as simple as swapping out crackers for broccoli. (That's an act of great self-love.) Maybe it's holding the door open for a stranger. Maybe it's accepting (or pouncing on) an invitation from an acquaintance to catch up over green juice & to end up bonding over new entrepreneurial endeavors. Maybe it's buying a crystal and burning some incense to clear your personal and home energies. Maybe it's learning a song in a language you don't understand in order to communicate with a group of strangers. Maybe it's lying on the floor with a bunch of hipsters to have your soul washed by the digital soundbath stylings of a successful tv composer. Maybe it's asking your massage therapist friend whose music she was playing during your session because it inspired you. Maybe it's offering gratitude for your meals, your home, your friendships. Maybe it's watching a webinar presented by a perky stylist whose business model speaks to you because your professional life needs some love. Maybe it's sending up a prayer for a friend's loved one who's in pain. Maybe it's standing in the desert with your face upturned to be blessed by the rain. (These are all things that I've done in the last 9 days. I feel reborn. And so very blessed.)
Maybe it's just a good, old-fashioned singalong..."All you need is love..."
But seriously, what can YOU do? What have YOU done? I invite your comments!