bliss

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bliss

an infectious feeling. pure joy.

calm, yet exhilarating. full, yet spacious.

the heart bursts into every cell of the body, filling each vein with an unexplainable electricity.


I am sure you have felt glimpses of bliss during beautiful moments of your life.

But I’m realizing more and more that bliss goes beyond just a temporary emotional experience or feeling. It can actually be a state of being.

Since I returned from my meditation retreat two weeks ago, I have been coming in and out of this state of bliss. It’s been like a really good dream, except it’s my waking life. It’s been beautiful, hilarious, serendipitous and challenging.

I am extremely grateful for this joy in my heart and would like to share some of my insights with you. I shall begin with a little story from my past....


AUTUMN 2016: I was really struggling at this point in my life, feeling unfulfilled, not knowing what to do with my career. I was living in St. Louis, where I was born and raised, working as a full-time musician. Everything was comfortable and easy: I had tons of gigs, students, my family and friends surrounding me, a home. On the surface, it was a perfect life. You’d think I would be happy.

But something inside of me kept crying out for change. I felt pulled to move to a bigger city to pursue my music, but I was terrified of leaving my hometown. I was scoping out Los Angeles as a potential place to live and had a few friends in the music industry there. All of those friends were encouraging me to take the leap. In an effort to convince me, my amazing pianist buddy, John Gilmore, hooked me up with a weekend of gigs in the city so I could see how I liked the vibe. It was like a trial run.

I remember being so anxious as I sat on that plane coming into LA. I prayed that God would give me sign. Help me to know what to do. Show me the way!

Well,

He did.

It was like sign after sign that weekend. Audience members at my performances were all astonished that I didn’t already live in LA and pumped me up with lots of support to move. I made new friends and lots of wonderful connections with industry folks. I felt loved. I laughed a lot and sang my heart out. I was on fire, inspired, excited.

On my flight back home to St. Louis, things started getting mixed up again in my head. How am I going to tell my family I want to move? What will I do for work? How will I afford the cost of living? It was like a whirlwind of worry possessed me. So I reached down and opened the book I was reading at the time, “In the World but Not of It” by Gina Lake. My eyes filled up with tears as I read what was on the next page:

“The important thing is to be true to your own Heart, to what you feel moved to do or not do, and to what brings you joy. Let joy be your guide in all things. If you feel a surge of joy arise in your Heart at the prospect of doing something or being with someone, then follow that joy. If not, where might joy lie? What do you really want? One of the greatest benefits of practicing silence is that it is in Silence that answers to these important questions arise, although not in words. It turns out, the mind never did have those answers.”

-excerpt from “In the World but Not of It” by Gina Lake

Wow. Okay, universe. I hear you.

After that, I could not turn back. I knew that I had to move, even though it was painful and scary. Why let fear control my decision making? It was not bringing me happiness. Let JOY be the guide.

And what a journey it has been since then! This message continues to echo within me. It has reoriented my life. In my deepest meditations when I ask for clarity, I hear ‘Follow your joy.’ When we listen to our hearts in stillness, the direction is clear.

Bliss happens naturally when we are in alignment with our deepest soul’s calling.

We all have a divine purpose on this planet and I believe joy is the way the soul communicates to our human mind that we are on the right path. We each have a unique gift that is waiting to be expressed and shared with the world. We feel bliss when we open ourselves to that full expression of soul.

Did God create us to suffer, live in fear, and be angry about our circumstance? I think God created us to enJOY life.

To fall down, get up, learn, love, grow.

And to enjoy every step of that process.

So I ask YOU: what brings you joy? Are you filling your life with things that light you up? Are you surrounding yourself with people that bring out your smile? What holds you back from living the life you dreamed?

As you ponder, enjoy this beautiful instrumental piece called “Her Joy Was Complete” by one of my favorite artists, Sleeping At Last. I just found this video of the song on YouTube with a LOVELY dancer lighting up the stage with her joy:



the truth shall set you free

So you might be thinking, “This is all great and what not, but she’s got it easy. My life is hard. She doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer. I have bills to pay, children to take care of, and a nightmare of a boss. I can’t just make all this go away and be a blissed out hippie all the time. If only she knew…”


For many of us, seeing the word ‘bliss’ conjures up the age-old saying: “ignorance is bliss.”

I’ve been contemplating this saying a lot… Ignorance is bliss. Being naive to the reality of the world brings happiness. Hm, what does this say about our culture?

Is this telling me that if I knew all the unpleasant details, I would be unhappy? Since I don’t know, I can be blissful?

Being oblivious brings me joy?

It seems a little backwards to me. What about “rejoicing in the Truth” and “the Truth sets you free” like the Bible says?

Is society saying that being left in the dark on things is easier than knowing the actual truth?

It’s almost like these words tell us that being informed is what makes us suffer. Why would society spin bliss in this way?

Can I be knowledgable and still be blissful?


To explore this further, let’s take a hypothetical example…

I am enjoying a delicious fast food burger when someone from an animal rights activist group comes up to me and shows me videos of cows being mistreated and slaughtered in CAFOs. Well now I can’t enjoy my burger because I feel upset and sick to my stomach. Hence, Ignorance is bliss.. right?

But what if instead, I see the video and it inspires me to start buying local grass-fed beef? My new choice helps the environment and local economy, makes the farmers in my community happy, and nourishes my body. The knowledge helped bring me true bliss AND spread that bliss to others.


So it is not the truth that makes us unhappy, but what we choose to do with the truth.

We can accept the fact that there are things happening in our world that are not serving humanity well and then choose to do something to make it better. We can know about these realities and use them to propel us to make more empowered decisions.

Or we can be resistant to the Truth, worry about it, feel helpless, and spiral downwards.

We also don’t need to know everything to experience happiness.

We get to choose. Do we want to take in the moment as it is and embrace it? Do we gracefully accept the facts? Or do we wish things were different and constantly feel unsatisfied?

If you are feeling unsatisfied, take a look at the decisions you are making. Every choice is creating your future. The second you decide to start focusing on the things that serve your heart and deepest joy, the universe will respond.

We must also have the grace to accept what is out of our control. As one of my favorite prayers I learned in Catholic grade school states:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

and Wisdom to know the difference.


Start giving yourself the quiet space to truly ask your heart what it is that serves you best. Use your knowledge and wisdom to be empowered in your choices.

Embrace your unique gifts and share your talents.

Follow your joy.


Pure bliss is available to us 24/7. It is waiting for you if you want it.

And that is the Truth.

 

And now for another song/lyrical interpretation that has been my favorite JAAAAMMMMM lately. Get your dance on to this one.

This song for me is about longing for a connection to the Divine. We can forget what true bliss feels like when we go without it for so long. The darkness to me represents our chattering thought-stream and worried mind. The daylight is the clarity that comes in Stillness.

Been without it for so long
Forgot what it feels like
Been in the darkness till you came along
Showed me the daylight, yeah

And now I'm trying so hard
But I can’t shake it, shake it, oo no
Oh now I can't shake the memory
I can't fake it, fake it, fake it, fake it, oh

We can be reminded of our joyful connection to God by the people in our lives, beautiful sunsets, music, etc. But sometimes we place more value on external things fulfilling us than looking within ourselves to find our joy. We have everything within us. True bliss is inside of you at all times. When we choose to surrender to that inner bliss it is like a new beginning. We feel like we found the missing piece, even though it was there all along.

You remind me of something
Something that I used to feel myself
Something that I used to feel
Like a heartbeat racing
Like a new beginning
You remind me of something else
Something that I used to feel
Something like what I've been missing
Ooh, like what I've been missing
Ooh, so long I didn't know the difference oo
Till you came around
To remind me of what I've been missing, missing

I think we have all been in this position before. We can get so stuck in our negativity that it is like we are asleep to the world. We are searching for a reason to our existence. We try so hard to come back to a place of peace but we cannot fake it. You can’t intellectualize or act your way into this clarity. It takes true dedication to the Stillness within to come back to what we feel we are missing. To true bliss.


Been asleep inside this dream
I'm trying to wake up
Waiting for something to come and rescue me
Give me a reason, yes

And now I'm trying so hard
But I can’t shake it, shake it, oh no
Oh now I can't shake the memory
I can't fake it, fake it, fake it, fake it, oh

CHORUS
Ooh, it almost slipped away ooh
Ooh, but on my darkest day


Thank you for being here, my lovely reader. Now go out and enJOY life! ;)


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freedom

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freedom

this is the first day of my life


here we go.

I feel like I’m thirteen again, nervous about publishing my first Xanga post. I’ve been wanting to start blogging again for a while, but instead I let excuses and fear get in my way.

But there are no more excuses now. If anything, this is for my own record. But hopefully, you, my dear reader, find something that speaks to you here.

Enlight75.jpg

Last week, my life changed. I mean my life has been rapidly changing for the past year, but last week was like a new level.

I spent a week in total silence with an incredible Zen Buddhist teacher, Adyashanti. The retreat was held at Granlibakken, a gorgeous resort in Lake Tahoe. For seven days, there were no cell phones, no emails, no communicating. Adyashanti would guide us through one meditation a day, give a talk, and a question/answer session at the end. Besides that, it was silent sitting. Meditation. (and delicious food!!)

I have to admit, I did not prepare myself very well for this experience. I was an occasional meditator, but always felt frustrated with it. I’ve gone through phases of being more consistent, but leading up to this retreat, I barely had a practice.

So the first few days were CHALLENGING. Being stuck inside your thoughts.. round and round and round. Woooo. Makes you feel like a crazy person to say the least. Luckily, Adya addressed this issue in his talk. It was comforting to know I was not alone in my struggle!! In his next guided meditation, something clicked for me.

Meditation is not about turning your thoughts off. You can’t just say “Think about nothing!” or “Stop thinking!”

Thoughts just happen. We have to accept that.

So instead of fighting with yourself, let the thoughts arise. And just watch them pop up on the radar. “Oh, hello little thought”

But then let it fade away. Try not to attach to it, expand upon it, or go further into it’s story line. “Goodbye little thought”

Thoughts arise out of nothing, so let them return into that nothingness. Let them disappear.

Rise, fall. Just like the breath.

It’s. That. Simple.

WHAATTTT!?

I’m not saying it is easy. But something about that approach really resonated with me. I was able to start getting much deeper, feeling a sense of peace and love I’ve never known. Everything started shifting within me. I now understand that meditation is truly the best way to access this clarity. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend checking out some of Adya’s guided meditations here.

I plan on sharing many of the beautiful new insights I received in future blog posts. This is just the beginning.


This is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care, I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy
— Conor Oberst - Bright Eyes

SO, since I am a musician and music is incredibly important to me, I plan on interweaving songs with these blog posts. Music has the power to reach our souls in ways nothing else can.

Lyrics have been coming into a new light for me since this retreat. I am hearing them I guess you’d say in a “spiritual sense.” The amazing realization I’m having is that most lyrics are really about our deepest longing to connect with the Divine. To begin this fun experimentation with sharing my lyrical interpretations, I chose “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes. I’m hoping this song can give you a glimpse into what I am feeling. You may now press play. My interpretation will be in italics.

This is the first day of my life
Swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain, suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach

This is the first day of my new life- a life that is centered around love, clarity and peace. I felt like I was reborn as I came to the doorway of the sacred space within myself. Rain for me represents a cleansing. Washing away the old negative thought patterns and judgements to see more clearly the beauty of humanity.

(me speaking to God/Spirit/Universe/The Source/Whatever you’d like to call it)

Yours was the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
I don't know where I am, I don't know where I've been
But I know where I want to go

And so I'd thought I'd let you know
That these things take forever, I especially am slow
But I realized that need you
And I wondered if I could come home

I started seeing the face of God in all. Before this beautiful realization, I was blinded by my own selfishness and ego nonsense. All of our stories about who we are, where we’ve been, etc. are not as important as knowing where we want to go: home. Home is union with the Divine. With ALL. It’s okay to not have everything figured out and for us to take our time on this journey.

(the Divine speaking to me)

I remember the time you drove all night
Just to meet me in the morning
And I thought it was strange, you said everything changed
You felt as if you just woke up

And you said
"This is the first day of my life
I'm glad I didn't die before I met you
But now I don't care, I could go anywhere with you
And I'd probably be happy"

God watches us in our struggle, driving all night long, through our darkness. We can be so stuck in our own sadness or anger that we stay sleeping- we distract ourselves with alcohol, drugs, social media, TV, etc. But when we choose to “meet God in the morning” it is like we wake up and see everything for what it is. We let go of our stories. And we know that no matter what is going on in our lives, no matter where we are, we can be happy because we are at peace within ourselves.

(me talking to the Divine again)

So if you wanna be with me
With these things there's no telling
We just have to wait and see
But I'd rather be working for a paycheck
Than waiting to win the lottery

Besides, maybe this time is different
I mean, I really think you like me

These stanzas are from the perspective of me, the insecure human. Is it possible that God actually wants to be with me? That God really loves me? Will I ever really find this peace that everyone’s talking about? These questions are still up in the air by the end, but I recognize that this path is worth the hard work. We cannot just wait around for enlightenment (the lottery) to strike us. We were given the gift of free will. It is up to us to choose love, joy, peace and freedom.

from my @musicoflola Instagram post:  It was almost ten years ago that  @madelenebren  asked me to pose topless for this photo in a wide open field. I remember the exhilarating feeling of freedom I felt as I opened my arms to the sky and let the sun hit my face. What a journey it’s been since then to find that freedom again. Last week I dived into the darkest parts of myself, sat in stillness for hours, cried, laughed and discovered a peace I’ve never known. Everything feels new, alive, awake. I’m eternally grateful for every step that has led me here and to Adyashanti for his guidance.

from my @musicoflola Instagram post: It was almost ten years ago that @madelenebren asked me to pose topless for this photo in a wide open field. I remember the exhilarating feeling of freedom I felt as I opened my arms to the sky and let the sun hit my face. What a journey it’s been since then to find that freedom again. Last week I dived into the darkest parts of myself, sat in stillness for hours, cried, laughed and discovered a peace I’ve never known. Everything feels new, alive, awake. I’m eternally grateful for every step that has led me here and to Adyashanti for his guidance.


This all might seem super far out to you and you’re ready to write me off as a spiritual nutcase. Or maybe you’re like “YESSS finally someone speaking my language!” Or perhaps you don’t care at all and feel you wasted your time.

For the first time in my life, it doesn’t matter to me. I am not doing this to get approval. I am not doing this to make money. I am not doing this to get famous.

I am doing this because it feels right to me.

Now that is freedom.

Please enjoy this gorgeous instrumental piece that showed up on my magical Spotify Discover Weekly playlist a few weeks ago.

Until next time, soak up your freedom, my loves.

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Inspiration

Music is more than just melodies and chords. More than just words formed together into pretty phrases.  More than just a groove you can dance to.  More than a way to pass the time. More than entertainment. 

 

Music is love.  Music is expressing love. Giving love.  Sharing love. 

Music connects us in ways we cannot understand. And moves us to places we never knew.

Music can bring us to our knees in awe. And set us free.

 

Tonight I learned that what I do is worth so much more than what I ever thought.  I am forever grateful. 

Thank you. <3

 

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Getting Started

I've realized that I have too many interests... I cannot be constrained by just ONE box- I am a producer and arranger, but also a Christian singer.  I am a songwriter and composer, but also a music teacher. I am a wedding singer and accompanist, but also a jazz artist.  

I am Lola. 

And so I decided to start my own website to put all of the pieces of me into one place.  

Thanks for visiting. 

 

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