For these past three weeks I have been exploring and photographing all the animals on the ranch. I am not a photographer–it’s simply a gift for this opportunity to be here. It’s been a wonderful experience–listening, watching, feeling and being present with the cows, horses, chickens, ducks, the emus, pigs and Llamas.
As it turns out, close-ups of chickens are sometimes hard to photograph–they move a lot. Their heads turn in an almost ‘click-like’ fashion as they eye all that surrounds them. When I began to photograph them, I tried to approach them, slowly–but, of course, they rushed away. I would walk up, then stop, stoop or kneel. And as I did this, they would scurry in flocks to areas of the aviary or chicken barn or hustle themselves into the numerous hutches. I was moving too fast, being too tall, even though I was consciously trying to be slow, fluid.
Still, I was trying to follow them–catch them–if you will, albeit on camera.
As I began to review the first photos I took, I began to ‘see into’ what I was doing and how in so many ways it was a metaphor for how I was acting in other areas of my life–out there trying to chase after, catch, what it is I wanted to manifest, create, build, be….
I know, we all know this: We can’t chase after something we want to do, become–we have to allow it to unfold through us in a process of Being and doing, doing and Being…but knowing this in our minds is so different than embodying it every day in our lives, knowing it in our bodies so that the present moment is all there is…regardless of what is occurring.
So many of us have heard so many times that to manifest something in our lives we have to align with it first energetically. But there are days when I have to ask myself again and again, ‘But what does this mean for our actions, our bodies, our feelings? What does it look like when we’re trying to create new ways of Being in the world or change our lives to align more with the truth of who and what we are at the deepest Soul level?
With the chickens and other birds here on the ranch, I feel like I’ve been given the opportunity lately to consciously learn this process of Being and doing, and understanding that it is more about knowing what I want, setting an intention, and then allowing myself to show up. It’s not always about ‘going after’ but allowing opportunities to come to me—and by ‘coming to me’, I literally mean, allowing myself to see they are there, to see they are presenting themselves to me.
It’s much like photographing the chickens. I set my intention–to get some close ups of the hens, the ducks, the roosters, or the turkeys, etc.. And then I let it go, but as I walk each day with my camera, I avail myself to the moment–I show up in it so I can see what’s on offer, what’s out there. I go to the aviary, the hen houses, the barn. I’m prepared. And after many failed photos, I’ve learned to choose a place–and allow them to come to me. Instead of seeking the right photo, the right moment to ‘catch’, I simply go in and sit down and be present with them. Inevitably, they too show up.
It turns out chickens are also pretty curious–and pretty hilarious. They have humor, laughter. It turns out, turkeys too like company. So curious they all are, they literally came over and interrogated my rubber boots as they herded over them to stand in front of me and eye me. A couple pecked at my boots and then stood there looking up as if to ask, “Well, what are these?” It wasn’t aggressive or anxious, but curious.
As they got comfortable, I started talking to them, putting my hands out for them. And following B’s example, one day, I played them music—some of Tom Keyon’s sound toning. They adored it, were mesmerized by the sounds. They crooned their heads, they gazed up or leaned in with attentive awareness. None of them backing away, growing anxious. In fact, they gathered in concentric circles.
And it turns out, they actually didn’t mind being photographed, they allowed it. A few even seemed to want to show off. But they came to me–I didn’t go after them. I didn’t go after the shot. But I did show up. And after the first round of failed photos, I didn’t stop. I didn’t give up and say, ‘Oh, those photos are horrible so I’m going to give up on the birds’. Instead, I showed up willing to learn how to be with them in their comfort zone and not mine. I showed up to be present with them.
Showing up is different than ‘efforting’.
When we just show up, we are offering our presence, availing ourselves to what’s on offer. We allow ourselves to be in co-creation rather than arriving in the moment, the situation, with an agenda. Understand, this does not mean we don’t have visions, intentions…it simply means that we arrive with our intentions already put out into the universe and allow the universe, in the moment, to move those forward.
So often so many of us, or perhaps I should simply just say, ‘So often, I arrive with a vision, a set of goals, or ideas’ and then because I have those I think I have to control how they are met, achieved–I think I have to direct them, wrestle them into being. The control comes from fear—the fear that things won’t work out, or I won’t move towards the vision I have of myself or what I want to achieve unless I ‘effort’, ‘control’ exactly how it occurs. And the vision itself then tends to get rigid, rather than something I am attending to through awareness. Not so unlike an archetype in Jungian psychology–the vision is a nexus of energy and meaning that we need to let speak to us, so we can be with it, so we can allow it to breathe through us and shift us alchemically, energetically.
I knew I was looking for certain kinds of shots with the chickens. But instead of trying to lead the birds into those shots by going after them, I learned to simply get still. I became present with them, and before I entered, I thought about where in the aviary I could get the most varied shots. And then I waited for the birds to bring them, to be them.
I have been thinking about this a lot. Not just about photographing the animals here, but in relation to all kinds of things in my life–the things I want to accomplish in my new work or vocation, the relationship I’d like to be in, the community I’d like to participate in, the expansion of my own growth and awareness as a human being. I have been trying to feel the difference between showing up and directing, 'efforting', and controlling everything in each area of my life.
The difference between ‘efforting’ or seeking and showing up and allowing is substantial. To feel the allowing is to consciously become aware of my own presence, my own expanding awareness in the moment. To do this consciously through choice and not just when it happens.
Showing up with intention also means putting myself in situations, or circumstances in which I can learn something I need to learn, or meet people who can be helpful. But it means showing up and being present. And sometimes that does mean putting myself in situations where I run into doubt and fear along the way. The doubt “If someone or some situation will welcome me.” The fear that “I won’t be good enough.” Or “The fear that I’ll look stupid or make a mistake.” But when we think making a mistake means the end of something, then we’ve gone into something with the intention to have it turn out perfect or turn out in a very specific or particular way. We went in thinking we had only ‘one chance’ and something could only work ‘one way.’ That’s not presence, that’s going in with an agenda or fear.
When we’re in process and trying to create something new, something that we’ve not done before and may not yet know just how it’s suppose to look–if there’s only ‘one chance’, then it means we’ve jumped too far ahead of ourselves in our minds, set up too many expectations and created fear that acts like a road block. The truth is when we are just present in the moment without the need to control, without the fear it might not work out, there’s always so much more room to allow, to be flexible, to navigate the unknown with kindness, creativity, presence, curiosity. There’s so much generosity. And sight. There’s give and take, reciprocity.
When we allow and go in with presence and curiosity, we literally allow ourselves to see what might be on offer, what all is presenting itself–what opportunities are there. When we want something to only be in a very particular way, we literally blind ourselves to anything else, any other offering that might take us somewhere larger, more beautiful, or more in alignment with our ‘vision’ and with who and what we are becoming.
And it never feels like then ‘there’s only one chance’… ‘one way’…
When we are aware of, conscious of, our own presence in the moment, being a witness to it, and to the external situation, then we allow ourselves to see so much more. We allow ourselves to be in conversation with a moment, a situation, another, in a very different way. There’s a subtle exchange, a subtle exchange of energy. We allow ourselves in our awareness to read the energy, the energetic body of ourselves and another or a situation and allow ourselves to feel what comes up.
And it’s not about surfing our fleeting emotions in a sentimental way, but allowing ourselves to feel, perceive–receive–information at a deeper level. Trusting the intuitive nudges. Trusting the voice inside that says, “This–not that”–even if it is other than what we initially thought we desired. Trusting and not over analyzing–knowing instead that we have choice. And if fear arises as we recognize the next step, see it, and know it’s right, but we go into fear anyway, we’re being given an opportunity–the opportunity to release the past that made us go into fear in seeing our next step. We can allow ourselves to invite ourselves in:
“I invite you in, Allannah…I invite you in with open arms…I invite you in with love…”
And then we can attend to whatever it is we are feeling through breathing, breathing deeply through it. We don’t need to judge it. By attending to it, we notice it, we allow it to be present instead of pushing it away or stuffing it back down into darkness or calling it bad. We can ask, “Where did I learn this? Can I let it go? Can I allow myself to feel it and release it?” And as we breathe deeply, we can release it back to Source with love, ease, and grace. In truth, we don’t even need to know where we learned it–we can just release it, let it go.
When we allow something to be released, when we literally breathe it out of our bodies and are conscious of doing this–doing it consciously–we literally change the alchemical nature of our cells, our nervous system, our energetic bodies. And our awareness expands, and we feel ourselves larger than before, more capacious and able to hold what we want to achieve. We experience ourselves and the world very differently then.
The current evolution of our human consciousness is asking us to pay more attention to our sensory awareness, to pay more attention to our feelings, and to attend to a higher order of reason and understanding–one that originates in the heart and not solely in the mind. Our hearts are centers of feeling, perceiving, not merely emotion. It’s when we are consciously aware of what we’re feeling, we actually experience our understanding, our knowing. It means we’re attending to, listening to our feelings, our awareness of them internally through our bodies and allowing our mind to be in coherence with them and not simply over-ride them. This coherency allows us to see more–literally–because we are allowing ourselves to see with the discerning heart. And the energy of the discerning heart is one of compassion, creativity, joy, allowance.
There’s presence in the moment then. Openness. And we reveal more of ourselves to ourselves, and our capacity for change.
When we move from the discerning heart, there’s not a lot of second guessing. We’re in our knowing and it’s experiential. We’re seeing with awareness and not expectation. We’re not in our heads, our minds, going “this or that” and paralyzing ourselves with indecision or fear or control. We’re not looking outside ourselves for the answer. When we’re in our knowing, the next step is illuminated. It becomes the ‘choiceless choice’ amongst the many options. We feel, know, it’s rightness from our hearts. But we also have to trust it, act on it.
I’m good at paralyzing myself–getting stuck in indecision, getting stuck in expectation. And over-analyzing. Part of that is because I want things to happen ‘now’. And I want to know how something is going to happen, what it looks like. And if I don’t get it done, then I go into self-judgment. I get so caught up in the final vision and what it should look like, I can literally miss the many beautiful next steps that are on offer, and thus, there’s always a ‘gap’ between where I am and where I want to be.
Being here on the ranch, I have been allowing myself to just be here. I show up for a walk each day. I write, read, do sessions with clients. But because I also have intentions and a vision, I’m practicing finding more of a balance between doing and being. And not parsing it out—the doing and being—in a schedule that I think is right, but rather in the unfolding of the day. When we have been in professions or work situations that have required us to be present on a certain schedule, to be productive on restricted schedules, we can become detached from, or unconscious of, our own rhythm of Being and doing. And we can find ourselves too often getting into the habit of forcing the doing, believing that ‘doing’ alone is going to move us forward.
We can have the vision, we can set the intention, and we can do, but we have to come back to the present moment over and over again like breath to allow ourselves witness our presence, to see what the next step might be. The next step for us individually. And that means, we need to relax and stop seeking. We need to get still and be present. We can’t simply just ‘do’ our way through it. There are no step-by-step directions. When we choose to align ourselves with the true nature of who and what we are, our lives transform, change, and evolve in ways we can't imagine until we get there, so what may have been right three years ago, may no longer be right today.
And yes. There are a lot of people who can help us–share their experiences and insights. But we each have to find our own next step. And the illuminated next step, the ‘choiceless’ choice, may not come when we think we’re ready for it. It comes when we can energetically embody that knowing, understanding–when we’re able to embrace the choice.
This is the place so many of us–at least me–gets ‘thrown off’ because we think we need to be doing something now, yesterday. And then we start looking externally for the what next–through other people and their ideas or by our own learned expectations of achievement. We start seeking the answer, the choice, outside ourselves, when in truth, it arises within us–it arrives through us in the discerning heart.
It is a practice, this showing up and allowing. It is a practice to put my intention out there, to have my vision, and then allow myself to be present in the moment without always ‘efforting’ after something, without always focusing so intently on what I think it should look like, so that I end up blinding myself to what’s really available to me, and somehow scaring myself that what I intend won’t happen. When we’re in fear, we can’t see the potential. The fear literally obscures it.
Showing up means that I need to regularly allow my attention to relax and allow my focus to pull back from the particular and relax into the actual scene of the present moment. Then, things start appearing–easily, graciously. And suddenly the next step is illuminated, and I can feel it in my heart–I know it in my heart. I’m not struggling after it.
This doesn’t mean the process doesn’t require things of me–once illuminated the next step requires taking action, it requires risking what may not appear logical to others or logical in terms of how I have done things previously. And it may require learning something new and trusting that I can learn it, can do it, regardless of any pasts failures. It means I can allow myself to not get it perfect the first time. I can allow myself to take tons of blurry white photos of birds, photos of pigs that suddenly duck their heads, Emus who suddenly lurch into a trot and leave only a whips of feather in the frame. It means I can take them all and not feel bad when I simply delete them back into the black digital universe they arrived out of. It means too I can take them knowing that I don’t think they have anything to do with where I’m headed, or what I want to achieve–Or, do they?
They’ve taught me a lot on this journey–to allow myself to simply relax into seeing and Being as my life evolves, changes…and I grow accustom to it.
Intention. Showing up. Allowing. Seeing. Taking Action. It’s a nice rhythm.
So many times, I’ve short-cut myself–we all do. We want to move from intention directly into action. But many times, there’s a lot of breathing, a lot allowing and releasing that needs to happen in between there. And when we breathe, we become present, aware of and consciously witness our own presence in the moment. When we do this, we not only get to see, but we’re preparing the body–both the energetic and physical bodies–to receive and hold the vibration, the energetics of what it is we want to bring into manifestation, expression. We are authoring our own power, authenticating our own choices.
“I invite in ________________. And I allow my next step to be shown to me with
love, ease, and grace.”
That’s authentic power–power not based upon, or conferred by, anything external to us, but power aligned with the awareness of our own heart. When we are in mind-heart coherence, we are aware of our connection to Source, the Divine, and we are able to witness our self in the world, witness our self seeing the world. The action we take then feels in alignment with who and what we are at the Soul level. There may be anxiousness or nervousness present at times, but breathing through it, we relax into the action. It becomes us. And more often than not, there’s joy in its expression…and the joy carries us forward.
And it’s an endless process–this allowing and being as we reveal ourselves to ourselves...this showing up in the truth of who and what we are….