Choosing “Different”

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
Life at its most fulfilling and expansive is not about fitting in or aspiring to socially promoted goals like a 24/7 career, with accompanying big money, house, car, and investments. It’s also not about finding one “perfect” soul mate and living happily ever after. That’s the Cinderella story they keep trying to get women to buy into so that we forget that who we really are is Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman who has her own unique, independent soul and doesn’t need anyone to make her life perfect. This applies to men looking for one mate to fulfill them too. We are not half-humans searching for the missing part to make us whole. Nor are we necessarily one gender, one expression, one role, or one anything. We are so much more.

We humans are souls not roles, beings not doings. What if life is really about your own soul and its particular destiny, intertwined with many others but not dependent upon them? So that every person you meet on your journey is a soul mate of some kind (someone with whom you share a deep connection). It’s not about “one”: it’s about oneness. Within that, you could have a partner for life, or several different partners over a lifetime, as well as many friends, all of them soul mates. Some people choose friendships rather than partnerships, or they opt for no labels at all. We meet the people we are meant to meet when we are meant to. Our relationships may be short or long, easy or challenging, but ultimately, it’s about our soul’s journey, not about a mythic “forever after” with one person. It’s about the eternal now, which is constantly evolving.

We are living in a new era of stepping out of the old stories and social paradigms that held us prisoner in expected behavior for so long. Now is the time to choose “different”: to leap like an empowered super hero over outdated frameworks, paradigms, and expectations. Choose something new—beyond your wildest dreams. Choose infinite possibility. Choose your soul self. And choose universal love that is inclusive of every being on this planet. How would the world shift if we saw everyone as a soul mate, a kindred spirit with whom we could share a sacred exchange, soul to soul? The love of all within the love of the one before you.

Whether for one moment or a lifetime, friend or lover, the connection is at the soul level. It is beyond gender and beyond roles. It is about the heart. The human heart and God’s heart (and they are one and the same). If we live from the heart, we are always choosing love—which in this world is choosing “different.” Give it a try. Love yourself, your soul self. And love your neighbor as your soul mate, your dearest friend. The world will open up all around you, and you will see kindred spirits (and God) wherever you look. And that is life’s greatest fulfillment.



Empty Space—An Invitation

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
Spiritual and self-help programs have counseled people for years to “let go and let God.” Wise advice. When you let go of everything (literally, everything), that very letting go creates an empty space in which you are inviting God to come in. The letting go is actually a welcoming, an open door for divine presence. At times of uncertainty or stress, it can be hard to remember this, but that wisdom, if relaxed into, can cut the cord that holds you to fear-based trying and replace it with the gentleness of allowing. On the level of egoic effort, nothing happens but straining and frustration. On the level of soulful surrender, all is flowing and perfectly unfolding.

Opening to the space within me has become part of my daily meditation practice. With each breath, I connect with the life-force energy that is God. When I let go completely into the spaciousness at the core of my being, external distractions fall away. Within that vast inner space is peace and expansive being-ness. Eyes closed, I see the light that animates everything. Here, there is no distinction between light and dark, me and God. There is only a deep awareness of universal consciousness, of oneness.

Making room for quiet time alone is also key. I have sought silence all my life, in nature, in sanctuaries, in solitude. Stillness takes me deeper into my soul. There is an empty space in silence that soothes me and brings me to the peaceful inner sanctuary filled with God’s essence. I don’t have to search for it because it is always with me, apparent as soon as I take a deep breath, relax, and am present in the stillness. Moment to moment, this is where I connect with the Divine.

Create space in your life, in your physical form, every day so that spirit can enter. That open space calls God to you. It’s a sacred invitation. If we fill our lives up with noise, busyness, and distractions, the Divine has nowhere to be fully present. If your body is filled with worries, fear, and frantic thoughts, God gets lost in the inner turmoil. It’s not that God ever disappears; it’s just that we can’t perceive the Presence that is always with us if we fill every crevice in our lives with clutter. Feng shui is based on this premise: clear your clutter, outer and inner, and your life can come into full bloom.

In silence, in stillness, in empty space, the mental and physical clutter of a busy life falls away, and you can hear spirit speak to you in a language that is beyond words. With every quiet breath, you go deeper. Look within, in the limitless spaciousness of your soul, and you will find God peacefully waiting, where s/he has always been and always will be.

“If you are never empty,
how can you know
the fullness of your spirit.
If you are never alone,
how can you know
—Mark Nepo


Seeing the Light

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
When I returned from Panache Desai’s immersion, “Dynamic Enlightenment,” a few weeks ago, a friend asked me if I was now “enlightened.” I didn’t know how to answer. My hesitation stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t sure “yes” was entirely accurate or conveyed the nuances involved. We humans have a tendency to mistake one step for the entire journey. Better to see process rather than destination. On the other hand, I knew I was different after that intensive week of sacred activations and ceremonies. I was in a more expansive, divinely connected place. In truth, we are already enlightened at the soul level; we just have to become aware of that. So maybe the best way to describe my experience would be that I opened to a greater awareness of my soul’s constant state of being and light. And that awareness runs through my life in a continuous stream.

In the garden this morning, everything I looked at radiated light, everywhere. That is how it is most of the time for me now. Perhaps enlightenment is not the head-trip that many people think of it as, but an alignment with the ever-present light in your soul, which then is reflected in all that you see. When I look out the window in the morning, I see the light of the sun in everything: tree leaves, dew on the grass, flower petals, car windows, broken glass on the sidewalk. When I’m walking at dusk, I notice streetlamps, house lights, the moon rising, city lights in the distance. Light in all its various forms leaps out at me now. Colors are more vivid, reflections are multidimensional. I am seeing with the eyes of my soul, which is nothing but light. Actually, the whole planet, the entire cosmos, is nothing but light. It becomes denser when it takes on physical form, but our souls, which vibrate at the same frequency as light, perceive it as the basis of everything.

Photograph © 2017 Jean Pierson

So en-light-enment helps us see the true nature of the universe, of ourselves. We are light beings inhabiting heavier physical bodies, but the light at our core, our soul’s essence, never leaves us. When our awareness opens again to what it once was when we were first born, we see light everywhere, including within ourselves. The world is revealed as a magical kaleidoscope of colors and light, and we live within it and beyond it simultaneously. Other people begin to see that in us too. We become more transparent, and our inner luminosity shines through.

Today, if you asked me about enlightenment, that is what I would say. It is not one thing, either/or, yes or no. It is everything. And it is within every one of us.

“I remembered today the codes of light I carry,
Unfolding now in the splendor of the sunrise….
Each ray of sunlight awakening the wisdom at the core.
I remembered today the love from which I came.”
—Judith Bluestone Polich

A Perfect Pairing: Patience and Trust

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
In the past, patience has been sort of a situational attribute of mine. Sometimes I’m completely allowing of the gradual unfolding of events, and at other times, I find myself leaning forward, impatient for the next plot twist in my life story—or the planet’s. On a spiritual journey, however, there is no place for impatience or grabbing for the gold at the end of the rainbow. The highest wisdom is that you are holding the gold in your hands right now, and the rainbow is directly in front of your eyes. I re-learn this with regularity the deeper I dive into life’s mysteries. In truth, the story has already been written, and only my soul and God have access to the entire script. So the illusion of control falls away, and I am left to completely surrender to the trajectory of my own life.

That is where trust comes in to bolster patience. If I remember that there is a divine orchestration much greater than my mind’s perceptions, then I can relax into trusting that everything will come to pass exactly when it’s meant to. There is no hurrying the course of life’s events. In fact, the tension caused by grasping and clutching at the future only puts a chokehold on the flow. The energy of trying and wanting keeps you caught in a tailspin that leads nowhere. As soon as you let go, everything opens up, and the river’s current streams naturally forward. What divine intelligence has in mind for my life is infinitely more expansive and imaginative than even my most creative multidimensional visions. When I trust in that completely, both the gold and the rainbow become clearly visible right before me.

We often hear that patience is a virtue, but the deeper meaning of that is lost in our frenetic push-for-the-outcome world. Impatiently pushing only creates the energy of struggle and keeps us frantically racing on a treadmill of trying. Even success brings the worry of maintaining what we have achieved through striving. We believe only our own hard work can achieve anything in life. At the level of the personality self, or ego, control is the only truth. The soul, however, knows that control is an illusion, and we are part of a dynamic universal dance that we as humans can participate in but can’t control.

There is a beauty and freedom in realizing that. Through letting go at the deepest level, we find freedom from the gridlock of grasping at the material world in order to satisfy what is actually a soul yearning. What we long for, really, is to be one with something greater than our individual solitary selves. When I restlessly reach for the future, I only emphasize my aloneness. When I recognize and accept my life’s path as a beautiful mystery to which only God holds the key, I learn patience and trust and become one with everything around me. Loving my life right now, as is, draws more love to me. The blessing that is human-divine connection is then revealed within my own heart and within the hearts of everyone I meet.

First, Last…Now

Photograph © 2017 Peggy Kornegger
There are moments in our lives when we are completely immersed in what we are doing. So much so that the past and future do not exist. Everything is fresh, new, and fascinating. We are seeing with what Buddhists call “beginner’s mind,” as if for the first time. Babies and small children see this way. People at the end of their lives often see this way too, as if for the last time. At either end of the first-last spectrum, it’s the immediacy of the experience that is so powerful. We are not lost in thought or distracted by irrelevant details. Life presents itself front and center, and it has our full attention. The question then becomes “how do we live like that all the time?” Is it even possible? I believe it is, but it is definitely a practice, not a casual, passing wish. You have to align yourself with it, make a promise within your own heart not to get lost in forgetfulness.

When I visited South Africa last fall, I lived each moment intensely throughout the trip. No past, no future, just one continuous stream of present-moment awareness. Traveling is often like that. Because everything is unknown, never-before-seen, your mind focuses intently on what is happening now; nothing else exists. In the African bush, I was alert and super-aware all the time. As I learned to carefully look around for the eyes of predators when leaving my hut or tent at night, I found that my senses were sharply focused on every detail of my environment.

Photograph © 2016 Peggy Kornegger

Riding in a safari jeep, in close proximity to elephants, giraffes, and zebras, was an experience I had only imagined having, yet there I was living a reality vastly more vivid that my imagination. From a riverboat at sunset, I saw buffalo, waterbuck, crocodile, and saddle-billed storks along the river’s edge, and then as the sky darkened, thousands of fireflies lighting up the African night. During those two weeks, there was no need to think about living in the moment—there just was nothing else.

Upon returning to the U.S., I used my meditation practice to bridge the immediacy and novelty of adventurous travel with the habits of daily life. I focused on my breath and opened up to that timeless space within that is pure awareness. Every day when I went for a walk, I reminded myself to look for something different and to choose new routes. In my garden each morning, I noticed every newly opened flower—orange lilies, purple spiderwort, yellow coreopsis. The key was to keep “seeing with fresh eyes” in order to step out of routine. To reinvent the ordinary in whatever way I could so that I was constantly stepping into the unknown, the unexpected, in every moment.

It’s not really difficult to live focused in the present. Your physical senses automatically show you how to do it when extraordinary beauty or sudden danger crosses your path. You are immediately aware and intensely alive in those moments. At other times, you can expand your awareness by giving yourself memory mantras, as Thich Nhat Hanh does when he repeats “present moment, wonderful moment” in his mindfulness practice. The breath too is a built-in tool for re-centering in the now. The more I embrace the idea that there really is nothing but the present moment, the more aware I become of how precious it is. So then, whether I’m in the African bush or in my own backyard, everything around me is new and exciting—a first-last, once-in-a-lifetime experience.