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Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo
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Book of Awakening Quotes Showing 1-30 of 161
“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“…there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“If peace comes from seeing the whole,
then misery stems from a loss of perspective.

We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.

Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?

It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.

When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.

In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Those who truly love us will never knowingly ask us to be other than we are”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Whatever truth we feel compelled to withhold, no matter how unthinkable it is to imagine ourselves telling it, not to is a way of spiritually holding our breath. You can only do it for so long.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The glassblower knows: while in the heat of beginning, any shape is possible. Once hardened, the only way to change is to break.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Anything or anyone that asks you to be other than yourself is not holy, but is trying only to fill its own need.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“we think that accomplishing things will complete us, when it is experiencing life that will.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“But compassion is a deeper thing that waits beyond the tension of choosing sides. Compassion, in practice, does not require us to give up the truth of what we feel or the truth of our reality. Nor does it allow us to minimize the humanity of those who hurt us. Rather, we are asked to know ourselves enough that we can stay open to the truth of others, even when their truth or their inability to live up to their truth has hurt us.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Just as life is made up of day and night, and song is made up of music and silence, friendships, because they are of this world, are also made up of times of being in touch and spaces in-between. Being human, we sometimes fill these spaces with worry, or we imagine the silence is some form of punishment, or we internalize the time we are not in touch with a loved one as some unexpressed change of heart. Our minds work very hard to make something out of nothing. We can perceive silence as rejection in an instant, and then build a cold castle on that tiny imagined brick. The only release from the tensions we weave around nothing is to remain a creature of the heart. By giving voice to the river of feelings as they flow through and through, we can stay clear and open. In daily terms, we call this checking in with each other, though most of us reduce this to a grocery list: How are you today? Do you need any milk? Eggs? Juice? Toilet paper? Though we can help each other survive with such outer kindnesses, we help each other thrive when the checking in with each other comes from a list of inner kindnesses: How are you today? Do you need any affirmation? Clarity? Support? Understanding? When we ask these deeper questions directly, we wipe the mind clean of its misperceptions. Just as we must dust our belongings from time to time, we must wipe away what covers us when we are apart.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Sometimes the simplest and best use of our will is to drop it all and just walk out from under everything that is covering us, even if only for an hour or so—just walk out from under the webs we've spun, the tasks we've assumed, the problems we have to solve. They'll be there when we get back, and maybe some of them will fall apart without our worry to hold them up.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Even if one glimpses God,
there are cuts and splinters
and burns along the way.”
Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“life is always where we are.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Burying and Planting The culmination of one love, one dream, one self, is the anonymous seed of the next. There is very little difference between burying and planting. For often, we need to put dead things to rest, so that new life can grow. And further, the thing put to rest—whether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing—becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form. As the well-used thing joins with the earth, the old love fertilizes the new; the broken dream fertilizes the dream yet conceived; the painful way of being that strapped us to the world fertilizes the freer inner stance about to unfold. This is very helpful when considering the many forms of self we inhabit over a lifetime. One self carries us to the extent of its usefulness and dies. We are then forced to put that once beloved skin to rest, to join it with the ground of spirit from which it came, so it may fertilize the next skin of self that will carry us into tomorrow. There is always grief for what is lost and always surprise at what is to be born. But much of our pain in living comes from wearing a dead and useless skin, refusing to put it to rest, or from burying such things with the intent of hiding them rather than relinquishing them. For every new way of being, there is a failed attempt mulching beneath the tongue. For every sprig that breaks surface, there is an old stick stirring underground. For every moment of joy sprouting, there is a new moment of struggle taking root. We live, embrace, and put to rest our dearest things, including how we see ourselves, so we can resurrect our lives anew.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“For though we stubbornly cling, believing in our moment of hunger that there is no other possibility of love, we only have to let go of what we want so badly and our life will unfold. For love is everywhere.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Often we find it easier to think our way around things rather than to feel our way through them:”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“We often move away from pain, which is helpful only before being hurt. Once in pain, it seems the only way out is through. Like someone falling off a boat, struggling to stay above the water only makes things worse. We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. The willingness to do this is the genesis of faith, the giving over to currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“My friends are the beings through whom God loves me.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The only response to adversity or misunderstanding is to be more completely who we are—to share ourselves more.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“quiet pain that comes from not honoring what we know to be true, even if all we know to be true are the questions we are asking.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“Every crack is also an opening. When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually, the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world. Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles through the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment—growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking—the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn't die, but falls into the world.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things…. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things.... Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“we can go below our hardened ways to the soft impulses that birth them. Instead of breaking the bone of our stubbornness, we can nourish the marrow of our feeling unheard. Instead of breaking the bone of our fear, we can cleanse the blood of our feeling unsafe. Instead of counting the scars from being hurt in the world, we can find and re-kiss the very spot in our soul where we began to withhold our trust.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“The hard things break. The soft things bend. The stubborn ones batter themselves against all that is immovable. The flexible adapt to what is before them. Of course, we are all hard and soft, stubborn and flexible, and so we all break until we learn to bend and are battered until we accept what is before us. This brings to mind the Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, the stubborn, hard king who sought to ask the Immortal One the secret of life. He was told that there would be stones on his path to guide him. But in his urgency and pride, Gilgamesh was annoyed to find his path blocked, and so smashed the very stones that would help him. In his blindness of heart, he broke everything he needed to discover his way. With the same confusion, we too break what we need, push away those we love, and isolate ourselves when we need to be held most. There have been many times in my life when I have been too proud to ask for help or too afraid to ask to be held, and in the frenzy of my own isolation, like Gilgamesh, I have smashed the window I was trying to open, have split the bench I was trying to hammer, and have made matters worse by bruising the one I meant to be tender with. The live bough bends. The dead twig snaps. We are humbled to soften from our griefs, or else, in brittle time, become the next thing grieved.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“we may spend much of our time unaware and unenlightened, yet the presence of Truth and God, like a deep and ancient friend, can shape our entire lives. So the inner task becomes how do we make a lasting friendship with the Unities that are larger than us? How do we keep their light in our heart when no stars appear in sight?”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“When the Path Is Blocked When the path is blocked, back up and see more of the way. We are each a mountain for the other to climb, and often our path to love is interrupted by a mishap or a problem or something unexpected that needs attending. We tend to call these unexpected things in life “obstacles.” Often the thing in the way comes from another person: a stubbornness falls like a tree blocking where we want to go, or a sadness comes like a flash flood to muddy the road between us, or just as we go to rest in the clearing we have prepared, we are bitten by something hiding in the undergrowth. Thus, in daily ways, we have this constant choice: to see each other as the stubborn, muddy, biting thing that blocks our way, or to back up and take in the whole person as we would a mountain in its entirety, dizzy when looking up into its majesty. When we are blocked in our closeness with another, we have this constant opportunity: to raise our eyes and behold each other completely, then to kneel and lift the fallen tree, or cross the flooded path, or pluck and toss the biting thing. We have the chance to keep climbing, so we might cup the water that runs from each other, so we might quench our thirst as from a mountain stream, knowing that love like water comes softly through the hardest places.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have
“To Marry One's Soul Being true to who we are means carrying our spirit like a candle in the center of our darkness. If we are to live without silencing or numbing essential parts of who we are, a vow must be invoked and upheld within oneself. The same commitments we pronounce when embarking on a marriage can be understood internally as a devotion to the care of one's soul: to have and to hold … for better or for worse … in sickness and in health … to love and to cherish, till death do us part. This means staying committed to your inner path. This means not separating from yourself when things get tough or confusing. This means accepting and embracing your faults and limitations. It means loving yourself no matter how others see you. It means cherishing the unchangeable radiance that lives within you, no matter the cuts and bruises along the way. It means binding your life with a solemn pledge to the truth of your soul. It is interesting that the nautical definition of marry is “to join two ropes end to end by interweaving their strands.” To marry one's soul suggests that we interweave the life of our spirit with the life of our psychology; the life of our heart with the life of our mind; the life of our faith and truth with the life of our doubt and anxiety. And just as two ropes that are married create a tie that is twice as strong, when we marry our humanness to our spirit, we create a life that is doubly strong in the world.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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