Are You There God? It’s Me, Annie.

Today in yoga my teacher said to stop listening to our minds and to pay attention to something much more subtle. A devotee to the body and subtly energies, there was nothing new about this request. However, I took it on newly and tried to release my mind and sense that something subtle.

It seemed impossible today, and I found my eyes quickly filling with tears. I wasn’t sad, exactly, as much as I was present to how hard it is for me to sense and feel God right now.

For those of you who are wondering (and maybe none of you are), yes, I believe in God.

I don’t believe God is a man or someone to be feared. I don’t believe he’s the one and only and that I must devote myself to him if I hope to go to heaven. I don’t believe that God is all of us or a universal presence (necessarily). But I have sensed God, and I do know that something exists.

What exactly that is, I have no idea.

I grew up hoping that God existed and that there was something beyond my pain and seemingly misdirected life that was somehow putting me on the path to happiness and freedom. I hoped that there was a reason for everything and that someone, somewhere, was under control. I found myself feeling safe and comfortable in churches and other religious places and I often fantasized about becoming a nun so that I could sit in God’s presence constantly and devote my every day to him, or it, or whatever it was.

As an adult, when I mentioned to one of my spiritual teachers that I often considered being a nun, he gently laughed and said something like, “Annie Rose, I think you would last about 5 minutes not being with men.” He was right. He handed me a book about Neem Karoli Baba and several tapes of Ram Dass. I took them home and read and listened over and over again for weeks straight. Strange things started to happen. I started to notice 33s everywhere. My airplane seat. My hotel room. The time. Random pieces of graffiti. My best friend’s favorite number. Then, I googled Neem Karoli Baba one day and spelled his name wrong. Up popped a weird website selling Chinese jewelry. Then, the screen changed to an entire screen—and I kid you not—of 33s. It was a sign, to me, that Neem Karoli Baba was my guru. I started to study his words and actions, and I learned a lot about God.

The first time I experienced God, I was on a spiritual journey in the wilderness. I won’t explain exactly what happened, but I came out of that journey knowing with all of my heart—and feeling quite relieved, I might add—that God did indeed exist and that God was definitely present in my life. What followed that moment was a year of some of the most mind-, heart-, and soul-opening revelations about love, God, life, and the nature of humanity I’ve ever experienced. Through additional spiritual journeys, twice daily meditations, tons of mantras, tons of sacred dance, numerous dreams, a few out-of-body experiences, and lots of reading and conversations, I felt God thoroughly and deeply.

I haven’t experienced God since then. I don’t know why. It’s as if someone said, “Whoops! That’s enough for you. Goodbye, now” and simply took God away. I still hope that God exists, and I still have experiences that tell me that there is something beyond me, but I’ve lost my faith. Sometimes I lay in bed trying hard to have faith. I remind myself that trust is something I can give freely and that I don’t need evidence to give it. But that’s hard sometimes, and I often question whether or not God truly does exist.

On a somewhat different note, I have these three spirit guides. My psychic-intuitive friend Shoshanna alerted me of them a few years ago, and I’ve been talking to them ever since. Sometimes I even do it out loud, like I did during a 10-hour walk by myself on El Camino. One of my spirit guide’s names is Carlina. She resides on my left. Another is Lucé. He resides on my right. And then there is Alhamba. He resides behind me. Carlina is this soothing, motherly type who always loves me, sends me healing energy, and guides me with care, sweetness, and strength. Lucé is this French man who makes me laugh, reminds me to remain lighthearted, and keeps me connected to my sensitivities. Alhamba is an African man who stands strong and tall behind me, always offering protection and strength and reminding me to stand firm, tall, and proud. All of them provide me with distinct guidance and energies, and sometimes they work together when times get tough. They give me all kinds of wisdom, and they help me through moments of confusion, sadness, and despair. I feel lucky to have them.

So how in the world can I sense and feel spirit guides but not have any faith in God? What does that mean? I think of my spirit guides as sacred and divine, but somehow I don’t see them as God. But then again, I do.

So who exactly do I think God is? And what exactly do I hope God does? I recognize that I hope that God makes things okay. I hope that he has plans and that everything is working out accordingly. I hope that despite my very human mistakes, confusion, and uncertainty, God is working everything out for the best. But I wonder about that. If God is doing that, why do we have social injustice? Why are there senseless killings? Why are some people suffering so much? I don’t really believe in karma, and I find so much of the suffering happening on our planet senseless. While I would like to believe that God has a hand in all of it, I just can’t make sense of that. So if God doesn’t have a hand in that, how can God have a hand in making sure that I’m okay and that I’m on the right path? How can God give me those gifts but not give them to others?

I notice that I’m hungry for God right now. I want to know that I’m doing the right thing in so many areas. I have lots of tools for comforting and empowering myself in life, but I still want some confirmation that all of life is in service to something and that that something exists beyond my limited scope.

I think that’s it for now.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

On Letting Go, Transitioning, and Trusting the Process

As we head into fall and winter here in the states, I’m letting go of a lot. I’m clearing space for something new to emerge–something I’ve never imagined or hoped for, but have always wanted from the depths of my heart and soul. I’m inviting in the mystery and opening my heart and mind to their truest expressions.

Letting go proves to be quite uncomfortable. There is some stuff I’m giving up that slips away rather easily; I remain attached to those things, ideas, and ways of being for maybe a day; maybe five minutes. There are other things that I’m letting go of in the spirit of fierce hope and trust—hope that they’ll return healthier and stronger and trust that I’m doing the right thing at the perfect time. I’m still attached in those many areas, but practicing grace and faith in the face of them helps.

There are a few quotes that speak to me in this moment of transition, and I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re going through transition too. I’ve also shared a bit about how the words influence me. If these words speak to you, spend some time with them…chew on them…let them in. It’s so easy to let quotes inspire us for just a moment and to forget that they’re commonly quoted because they contain deep and universal wisdom. Enjoy!

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

So true. I hold onto suffering constantly. I love familiarity, and I hate discomfort. That is precisely why I’ve put myself into so many uncomfortable situations in my lifetime–I know that transcending my attachment to comfort and familiarity is my great work. Many people look at my life and think that I’m fearless. I’m not. I’m constantly afraid. But I am indeed courageous.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you. None can make you spiritual. There is no teacher but your own soul.” –Swami Vivekananda

Even those things outside of yourself that you’re clear were your teachers were really reflections of your soul. Trust the wisdom that lives there. It’s wise!

“Man learns through experience, and the spiritual path is full of different kinds of experiences. He will encounter many difficulties and obstacles, and they are the very experiences he needs to encourage and complete the cleansing process.” Sai Baba

I once had a Turkish bath in Turkey. The woman scrubbed me clean until my skin felt raw. It hurt! But I emerged feeling so bright, sparkly, and refreshed.

“Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention.” –Deepak Chopra

Imagine if the leaders in our world lived from this awareness. Magical. Brilliant. Powerful. Imagine if we lived from this awareness. We are the leaders, and we can choose to live from here.

“If I go into the place in myself that is love, and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness…” –Ram Dass

Ahh, yes. Sometimes we can drop into this space of love while in union, and sometimes we have to let go of someone or something to drop into this space of love. We can choose to drop in and ask others to join us. We can enter Oneness.

“The thinking mind is what is busy. You have to stay in your heart. You have to be in your heart. Be in your heart. The rest is up here in your head where you are doing, doing, doing.” –Ram Dass

Wow, this can be hard. So much of our society, especially in the west, asks us to use our minds. Dropping into the heart can feel scary and even irresponsible. But try it. It’s amazing and worth the effort.

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago but will soon be out-of-date.” -Roger von Oech

I love to be attached to the ideas and practices that worked brilliantly for me at some point. But my attachment to them–as brilliant as they were and continue to be–keep me from a new, more wonderful and expansive expression.

“Relationships are eternal. The ‘separation’ is another chapter of the relationship. Often, letting go of the old form of the relationship becomes a lesson in pure love much deeper than any would have learned had the couple stayed together.” -Marianne Williamson

Keep in mind that this can apply to the relationship between two people, among many people, or between you and an idea, event, or circumstance. And man, sometimes it is so hard to let go and trust that the result of letting go will be a purer love. Letting go requires such trust and risk. But what if the result is indeed a purer and deeper love? Wouldn’t that be worth the relatively temporary pain?

I happen to believe that we all are transitioning through something constantly, but sometimes that transitioning is a bit more noticeable and intense. If you are in the space of fierce transition, I send you love and remind you to practice patience and trust—all will be well.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

The Sea is My Nectar

One of my favorite things of late is playing in the ocean. I don’t surf. I don’t swim. I don’t put my feet in. I get in, and I play.

The water is relatively warm right now, so I wear a bikini and rash guard. More water licks my skin, and I love it.

I wade in slowly until the water reaches my hips. Then I dive under, and the first submersion always shocks my system.

The water begins to blend with my skin. I can’t tell where she ends and I begin. I turn onto my back and float. My toes emerge from the water. My arms stretch out along the water’s skin. My ears become submersed in the water, and she gently splashes my face. She holds me, bobs me, caresses me. I can hear the ocean floor, the movement of the sea, the arriving wave.

I come upright when the wave is near. I like to hang out right where the waves crest, and I love the big ones. Sometimes I dive deep under the wave and revel in the fast pull of its current, and sometimes I stay near the top and let the fast rush of heavy white-water smash into my face, stealing my attachment to my mind and placing me in a present moment. The waves come in sets, and sometimes I exhaust myself. Then I lay on my back again, and I look at the sky, or, my toes.

Sometimes I think about sharks and stingrays and freak myself out. I either pull my feet from the sand or place them firmly to the ground. Neither technique, I realize, will keep a shark from tasting me or a ray from stinging me. My belly clenches just thinking about them.

I sit with my fear. I let myself go too deep, to the place where the water is too dark and I can’t touch the ground. I let the huge waves engulf me without trying to control my experience. I let myself feel my fear of drowning, losing control, and feeling uncomfortable. I welcome the experience of an encounter with a shark. It hasn’t happened.

I do all of this at sunset. I wait until I have an hour left ‘til dark, and I get in. The sun is beautifully orange at that point; the sky majestically blue. The clouds are swirls of gold and pink, and the beach is still. Each time I emerge from under a wave, I watch the sun drop further and further until it disappears behind the marine layer. Then I tell myself that pretty soon, I’ll have to go.

But I linger. I stay in the ocean’s embrace, my one sanctuary right now, and I ask her to hold me. She does, with all her might.

Then I leave, dripping wet and in the dark. I wrap my towel around me and I walk barefoot to my car. Sometimes I peel off my wet clothes and put on my most comfortable sweats; sometimes I drive home in my bikini. I always turn on the heat and roll down my windows. I love the combination of warm and fresh air.

No matter my post-ocean dress, I always take off my rash guard. I put my arms over my head and peel it off. I love the feeling of more and more air licking my skin as more and more skin becomes free. I love to stand there for a moment and let my body breathe. I love to put my towel around my shoulders and to feel the magnificent combination of warm and cool; damp and dry.

I’m so grateful for this ritual right now. No matter how I am before I go in, I always emerge at peace. I always emerge grounded. I always emerge confident. I always emerge feeling sexy. I always emerge feeling strong. I always emerge feeling me. I appreciate the intimacy I have with the sea, and the gift that she gives me.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose