My surroundings are changing, the settings in which, the people with whom I find myself. You might say my context is changing. Even more accurately, I’m changing my context. When I look up “context”, I find: “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed”. I add to this, the circumstances in which we find/place ourselves, in terms of which we understand and assess ourselves and the world.

Placing ourselves in unfamiliar circumstances, or finding ourselves there, gives us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and to practice staying true to ourselves, standing in our truth, reinforcing what we value and what’s important to us, re-aligning with what truly makes us who we are. Putting it another way, when we place ourselves in unfamiliar, out-of-the-box, novel circumstances, we face our patterns and established ways of being, and have the chance to come out of them and reinvent ourselves. Put yet another way, we have the chance to allow the “real me” to be expressed through us, to more fully embody this state of being.

When we’re conscious, we see that so much (really everything) in our lives in any moment is interrelated and present for us to learn about ourselves and evolve when we’re ready and willing. As we repeat so many times, there are no coincidences. Lessons abound in every moment, moments that we are creating consciously or unconsciously. These lessons accelerate in new, different circumstances … changing contexts.

I moved to Scottsdale, Arizona in July for a variety of reasons, including building our spiritual community here, finding work and service in an area filled with health care, resort, and wellness industries and organizations … and being in much warmer weather, never again using my snow tires. I changed my setting, a new context in which to see myself (as Landmark says, for how I occur to myself and how the world occurs to me).

I’ve been reflecting about, crafting, letting go of, opening up to, ways of seeing myself and what I have to offer. We’ve all heard the questions, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” I’ve been wondering, feeling and tapping into some answers without being too in the head or mental about it, since the answers always come from our heart.

I realize through reflection and conversations in Landmark’s Breakthroughs seminar I’m taking, that I’ve been in a box of the familiar, of seeing myself and being seen as Swami in Sai Maa’s community, and what that “means” to me, what I think that means to others. There is no good or bad about this, it is what it is, it’s what’s so. I love and prosper to a certain degree in this context, as I teach, coach, and serve community members and new people around the world who are attracted to Maa, the teachings, me. At the same time, I’ve limited myself, not played “big”, I haven’t been “on the court”, because I’ve stuck to the familiar, not expanded the playing field or my offer in the world.

This is where I’m at now, learning and embodying who “I” am, not attaching myself to a fixed identity, while still being clear with myself and others who I am and what I have to offer. When Ashana and James were at my home a few weeks ago, we spoke about these changing contexts, and the opportunities to become even more established and embodied as who we truly are (i.e., Maa, Self, Source, Creation). To be our truth no matter what the circumstances or context, strengthened in our embodiment through the changes we make, the unfamiliar and out-of-the-box that we create in our lives.

Yes, there is discomfort, nervousness, questioning … yes, even for me as Swami, as Maa’s long-time disciple. Although I don’t stay in this awareness 100% of the time, I know my discomfort, my shifting view of myself and life, enable me to evolve, are part of my becoming. I know I’m realizing each time the unbounded freedom of beingness available to me, the limitless possibilities for being and living this life … and, still, it takes persistence, diligence, being out-of-alignment and back-in-alignment.

I stand in front of the microphone during a Breakthroughs evening, facing 50 unfamiliar faces, speaking my “breakdown” of being out of integrity with myself, not honoring my word to be fully expressed in new settings with new people, and speaking to them what I offer, asking for new relationships in which I can offer who I am. Speaking this is a “breakthrough”. I realize again, during and after-the-fact, that speaking from my heart, relating with everyone with all my heart, is who I am and who I am meant to be in life, loving, relating, and co-creating. I am reminded of the possibility I created in Landmark’s Advanced Course in 1993: “Who I am is the possibility of people creating together.”

Another example, going to a breakfast meeting of the Phoenix chapter of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce. We were all asked to craft a 1-minute “spiel” about who we are and what we offer. In speaking to this group of about eight unfamiliar and two familiar faces, I wasn’t completely comfortable sticking to a script, and went from head to heart, more fluent and related when I was in the latter. This taught me again about being the offer in each moment rather than speaking it.

This brings me to two days earlier this week when I traveled to Los Angeles to be with my daughter Becky and her mother Leslie, my former wife, and other family members and friends. We came together for a memorial service and days of “sitting Shivah” for Robert (Mo) Morrison, Leslie’s brother and Becky’s uncle, who left the body earlier in the week. Another new context for me of being with Leslie and Becky in these circumstances, and with family members I haven’t seen for 10-15 years or more. I felt, and feel, so close to them, happy to be with them even in this setting, free and comfortable in myself expressing this love, receiving this love, sharing love. I’m truly being me, looking at photos from 40 years ago, being reminded of times when I was a completely different person with extremely opposite thoughts and emotions, and still being present with me and them for who we are now, in all our love for one another. I share three photos above that make me smile, of me and Leslie, me and Becky, and a close-up of Bodhi, the son of Robert’s son Alex and his wife Amelia, a wise 2-year old who is a bright, bright light, filled with love, wonder, and joie-de-vivre. Life goes on …

As I continue to experiment with changing contexts, breakdowns and breakthroughs, being uncomfortable and being fearless, cleaning up upsets, I invite all of you to do the same. Go for it, push through the discomfort, the fears, the old patterns, and put yourselves in new settings with new people, express yourselves in new ways with the same people, throw yourselves into life passionately, all the while accepting any thoughts and emotions that come up, without identifying yourselves with them or as any one identity. Come back to your heart, realize your Self there more and more, and be “you” no matter what.