J2P Monday: Peace and politics

English: Peace, Love and Increase

English: Peace, Love and Increase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted a challenge for this U.S. political season a while back–with practice possibilities for people everywhere.  As we grow closer to the election and the vitriol grows ever worse, I find myself struggling to hold a space of love and compassion and I see the angst rising everywhere.  Even though it’s a bit late to call this a Monday post (hey, I’m still up… :-) ), I wanted to copy that post in, edit a bit and challenge everyone to find the peace within:

Every political season (does it ever end now?) for some years has felt a little ornerier and more contentious than the last.  This time around I’m struggling to hold my space of peace in the face of the vitriol I run into every time I look at Facebook or turn on the TV.

Whatever your political persuasion, you do not contribute to peace by ridiculing, vilifying or angrily condemning the folks on the other side.  And I get it.  I struggle to keep hatred at bay when I contemplate Donald Trump.  But as I look at the countless ugly remarks, snotty commentaries and general malevolence toward him I wonder if anyone stops to think about how hatred and malevolence destroy peace.  Same thing in the other direction.  If you’re lobbing hate bombs at Hilary how can you possibly be holding a space of peace?

Every time I think those angry thoughts or see one of those snotty posts, if I direct those kinds of barbs and jokes at him, I have to ask myself how am I then any different than him?  When I behave as badly as he does, I am basically being him.  More crucially, when I aim those arrows, I am not staying conscious of the one true thing:  I AM HIM AND HE IS ME.

I really like Deepak Chopra’s analysis of Donald Trump as being the representative of the Shadow.  And his reminder that failure to face the shadow within us is always present when the Hitlers, Idi Amins, Joseph McCarthys and Trumps of the world step up and carry us into darkness.  For me the key point of this reminder is the knowledge to which I always return:  the only heart I can change is mine.

Anyone or anything I see outside of me and feel is bad or wrong or disturbing reflects something in me.  So if I’m not happy with Trump (or substitute whatever candidate you abhor), then what aspects of him are in me?  What am I not facing?

  • What do I fear so greatly in the world?  If I see him as coming from fear and working on creating fear, where is the fear in me that I’m not seeing?
  • How poor is my self-esteem if I see him as lacking it?
  • In what ways am I as hateful as I perceive him being?
  • How am I “dumb” to the realities of life going on around me?
  • How and when do I share fear instead of love?

Anything I can see in me I can heal.  As I’ve noted many times, I love using the Ho’opono pono prayer for healing.

  • For every way in which I allow fear to displace love and peace, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For every hateful thought I harbor for anyone, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For seeing anyone ever as “other”, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For any way in which I lack enough faith to know in all ways every day all is well, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • If there is anything within me that blocks me from “being peace”, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you


Yep, I haven’t issued a challenge for a long time, but here’s one I challenge you to do throughout this political season in the U.S. or, if you live in a place where no election is looming until you feel at peace with it:

  1. No matter who you favor and who you don’t among the candidates [if you’re not in an election cycle make it a politician you dislike], every time you catch yourself thinking with fear, animosity, or hatred about any candidate, stop and create a list of things that upset or disturb you about that candidate.
  2. Go deep within and ask yourself where within you does each thing on the list exist?  What are the fears that create the anger?  What’s going on with your faith?
  3. Do whatever healing practice you wish, whether it’s saying the ho’onopono pono prayer or doing Reiki or following a guided meditation for healing or???, about everything you discover within you.  And keep doing it until you can look at all the candidates and only feel peace.

THE BeZINE, October 2016, Vol. 3, Issue 1, Rituals for Peace, Healing, Unity

Terri Stewart’s opening thoughts for this issue of BeZine reflect my thoughts on peace so beautifully and she puts it so well, I can’t resist passing it along.


October 15, 2016

I am honored to take the lead for this issue of Rituals for Peace, Healing and Unity. Lately, I have not felt very peaceful. In large part, it is due to the election cycle in the United States. It fills me with incredible anxiety. At the same time, I am actively part of a movement called Peacemaking Circles. Peacemaking Circles came to me via Saroeum Phoung who was taught by the Tagish Tlingit First Nation Peoples. Peacemaking is an ancient process that has been traditionally used in all forms of communal and family decision-making. The first principle of Peacemaking Circles is: The only change you can make is within yourself.

As painful as that reality is, it is true. If you change yourself to become peaceful, to be healed, to be one with the greater cosmic community, that will be enough. Because as you are settled and grounded in peace…

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Elizabeth Lesser on getting to the Marrow

Last week I caught up on a few recently-recorded Super Soul Sundays.  Loved all of them but the interview with Elizabeth Lesser particularly grabbed me.  So much so that I quickly checked the library catalog and put a hold on her latest book, Marrow.  [As has become the norm with OWN, I can’t seem to embed the video and if you’re interested you should follow this link to it soon because the program aired a couple of weeks ago and they yank them off quickly]


The book is a profound recounting of the  journey she took when her sister needed a bone marrow transplant and Elizabeth was the perfect match.  They embarked on healing their relationship in order to ensure the sharing of marrow would be as harmonious as possible; getting to the marrow on many levels.  I’m still reading and blown away by the constant stream of deep insights.

Listening to her and reading her I keep feeling like I’ve “met” a soul sister.  Her journey has led her to so many of the same conclusions and thoughts I’ve reached…

I felt a little connection from the get-go because she’s one of the founders of Omega Institute and my friend and teacher, Gay Luce, used to teach workshops there at least once a year.  I knew she was friends with at least one of the founders although I don’t think I knew the name.   While I was living at the little apartment she used to have at the side of her house, I’d flip through the Omega catalogs and see the amazing array of teachers who presented there.

Tenuous connection, but it was there for me.  And it’s been kind of fun reading the book because there’ve  been a number of places where I felt like she could have been talking about something Gay teaches.  Then I realized I think at some point they were both in the Bay Area, making their way through various teachers and a lot of the teachers at Omega have been people Gay knows.  So I suspect they’ve both drawn a lot of material from the same pool.  Gay studied a bit more with Buddhists and Ms. Lesser –based on her acknowledgements — at some point chose a Sufi path, but I catch some similar ideas.

It’s so cool to see how that works.  Through Gay I experienced a few teachers from the Bay Area and read books by or heard about others, all of whom I eventually realized had been in overlapping groups led by Claudio Naranjo in the 70’s.  I have a general impression there have been several periods in the New Age/New Thought movement when lots of teachers arose out of groups who studied with some of the same teachers.

I love the sense of deep spiritual thinking spinning out through a web of teachers who are inspired to create their own take on spiritual growth and who then inspire another round and then there’s another…

The Dream of the Modern World

An Elegant Mystery

(Image by Pash Galbavy and Larry Pollock)

The following is an excerpt from an article by Martin Winiecki

In the 1990s an unusual encounter took place in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In plant rituals, shamans of the Achuar, a tribe living in pristine forest that had never been in touch with Western civilization, received the warning that the “white man” would try to invade their lands, cut down the forest and exploit the resources. Deeply shaken, they called out to the Spirits for help. Soon after white people did approach them, coming to them however with supportive intentions – a group of activists from the United States, searching for ways to protect Indigenous Peoples from the oil industry. The Westerners found a deeply interconnected tribal society living in profound symbiosis with the Earth. Seeing the bulldozers coming closer and closer, they asked the Elders of the tribe how they could survive…

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Joy… hmmm… what is it?

Another action shot from Christmas Day up Moel...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about joy and fun.  And whether I feel them much… or ever…  I realize sometimes I’m not even sure what joy is or how to have fun any more.  Or maybe I’ve changed so much my definitions have just changed.

I do have this one precious memory of a joy-filled moment I relive when I want to move into a joyful place.  And that’s one of the nice things about any emotion:  you can choose to go there or move out of there or to change to a different one any time you want.

This particular moment was in Marin.  My friends had asked me to house sit through two sessions of their workshops and the couple of weeks in between — seven whole weeks in my favorite place, taking care of the kitties I’d helped raise, in the place where I’d had my little apartment.

Early in the trip I went for my favorite walk on a glorious day.  After crossing through the county park that abuts the house, I came out on a little country road that curves around the hill; for a while shortly after you exit the park you’re walking under trees on a section with no houses.

I stepped into that private space, so happy to be walking there and with nearly seven weeks left to revel in being there and I started jumping around in circles with my hands in the air.  That I can identify as joy.

The thing is, the way I used to run to clubs to hear music, go to parties, hang out with crowds and noise, etc.  now seems more like a pantomime of fun.  I love music, so there was some joy in hearing great bands.  But the rest was fodder for a restless and unhappy spirit and I’m quite sure a lot of the time I mistook over-excitement and over-stimulation for joy.  Also defined fun by some perception of what was “cool” among my peers.

When I look around these days, I see huge numbers of people who are pursuing the same — to me — illusory forms of joy and fun.  In fact these forms seem really amped up now.  Restaurants are bigger and noisier than any I remember, crowds at music events are bigger and louder.  Sporting venues hold more people, turn the sound up louder.  I have to use sound reducing earplugs to halfway tolerate a movie theater.  And I find all of it energy depleting, enervating, and somewhat depressing.

Thirty years plus in on meditating, yoga, practices, releasing, soul searching, etc. many of my moments of deepest satisfaction are very quiet.  Gazing at a sunset, a deep conversation over dinner with a couple of close friends, feeding people something I’ve cooked and watching their faces light up…  None of that puts me in quite the same space I held on the day I danced around in the middle of a Corte Madera mountain road.  So are such moments joy?

I was very interested to read Louise’s recent post at Dare Boldly and note her thoughts about sunsets and walks in the park and being with friends as joy-bringing activities.  It’s bringing me a whole new perspective on what joy maybe really is.

Those activities for me bring serenity, a sense of balance, a warm feeling in my heart.  I love to be in that kind of space but I can’t decide whether it’s joy I’m feeling or something softer yet deeply satisfying.

I find myself wondering if I’m still being seduced by some culturally implanted idea that joy should equate with something exciting.  Does it have to be as big as the moment of happiness so intense it had me jumping around in the street?   [btw, hard to express how unlike me that was and how much it says for the absolute joy I felt in the moment]

I’m just contemplating, not in a place where I have any sense of an answer.  And maybe joy and it’s bigness or smallness is in the eye of the beholder.  Or maybe it has big moments and small moments…  I imagine I’ll be revisiting this question for some time to come.

For me one of the joys🙂 and drawbacks of the spiritual journey is becoming someone new.  Of looking at an emotional tone differently and trying to decide where the current version of me stands…  seeing how much my view/feeling has changed compared to various points in the past. Most of the time being new is great and sometimes not so easy…

Do I need that haircut?…Deciding what really has to happen

English: Durant-Dort Carriage Co Factory, Flint MI

English: Durant-Dort Carriage Co Factory, Flint MI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re getting ready to head out on our annual trip to my home town in Michigan.  After a history of loading the week before vacation with all kinds of miscellaneous tasks I decided MUST happen before leaving, I’ve been slowly learning to evaluate what really relates to the trip.

This time the decision to go was kind of last minute.  We started to make this trip last June and a series of health issues for my mother have kept us postponing until, instead of going at a new time as we’d hoped, we’re going just a couple of weeks later than our usual time.  At the end of last week she finally had resolved the main issues and I realized if we don’t go this week we really can’t.

Getting a long-overdue haircut was one of the things on my fairly short list of trip prep stuff for the week.  But sleepless nights and headaches and various small things going awry added up to having trouble fitting it in.  And the thing is I’ve been wearing my hair pulled into a clip for some years now, so having my hair cut to a certain length or style doesn’t make the difference it made when I had a more precisely cut “do”.  So, as the days went on I shrugged and quietly lobbed “must get haircut” off the list.

The whole process of consciously addressing my habit of overdoing during the week before travel followed years of health issues causing me to stop and evaluate what really had to be done and what was dispensable in general.  Took a while to realize it was also a big issue before taking a trip.  Working on the travel aspect  has me thinking about busy-ness in general and how I see people handling their long lists.  It often feels to me as if it’s become fashionable to have an overloaded schedule and many people seem to feel there’s something wrong with them if their schedule isn’t totally loaded.

In the midst of the frantically filled schedules I see lots of the same issues I’ve had about deciding what really has to be done.  I remember a friend in a state of high anxiety giving me a list of Christmas must-dos — most with made-up deadlines — and explaining how frantic she felt.

The next item up for her was some outdoor decorating scheme.  I understood that all of this felt like “have-tos” for her but I didn’t understand why they HAD to be done.  I finally asked whether anyone would die or be maimed if she just didn’t decorate the yard.  She looked shocked and admitted no one would.  But I could tell that, even though my question caused her to think about it, she didn’t want to let go of being frantic.

I see people all the time being frantic about lists, driving themselves crazy over stuff that, to me, shouldn’t be considered big stuff.  To me, if nobody’s going to die or be maimed or permanently emotionally traumatized from the doing or not doing of it, it’s small stuff.

I also see a lot of folks who add to their sense of having no time by exaggerating their thoughts about how long things will take.  Sometimes its purely a mental exaggeration and sometimes they add a list of steps to it that don’t really need to be part of it (like thinking up things to do before I leave on vacation).  I remember sitting with two friends, trying to arrange a time in the next two weeks to meet for planning an event.

One of them went on about how she didn’t know how she could meet for an hour because she had some furniture arriving which would mean needing to move some other furniture.  My other friend and I looked at one another, puzzled, and later we wondered how many times she planned on moving every piece if it was going to fill an entire two weeks…  The sad thing was she was really wound up about it

Before life led me in a new direction, I stayed too busy and lived with great anxiety about trivial tasks.  I didn’t know how to set priorities by importance and tended to treat little things as if they carried life and death import.  Over the years I’ve been cutting back, most people have been speeding up and making their lists longer.

It’s strange to me that it’s become such a fashion to be anxious and frantic and over-scheduled.  I don’t think people look all that good when anxious or racing frantically around, so I find it an odd trend.  But I do get that if you never sit down you never have a quiet moment to feel the stuff you don’t want to look at.

I feel like so many people would be more relaxed if they learned how to lob the seriously unimportant stuff, to de-prioritize less important stuff, and/or get a realistic sense of what needs doing and how long it will take to do it.  Personally I highly advise working on a more relaxing lifestyle before you run yourself down so much a health issue forces you to do it.

And the health and relaxation that come from facing the shadows after you sit still for a minute …  WOW!   I’m just sayin’…

Meanwhile, I’m almost packed, the house sitter’s room is ready and off we go…

An exercise to get into the view from the heart

English: Motivational speaker Tony Robbins at ...

Tony Robbins at a Twitter conference in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had a few Super Soul Sunday episodes stacking up on my DVR, waiting for moments when I felt I could really sit and pay attention.  [I sort of watch a lot of TV but usually with laptop in lap while catching up on e-mails, reading and writing blog posts, etc….  so not really seeing much of it]

Today’s viewing was the last one I had, an interview with Tony Robbins from a few weeks back.  Though I’ve been aware of him for many years and vaguely familiar with his work, I’ve not read any of his books nor previously watched any of his videos so this was my first real encounter.

At about 21 minutes in on my recording he did a very short little meditation exercise centered around focusing on an issue in your life, moving into a heart space and then reexamining the issue with the energy of heart.  I thought it had some powerful possibilities.  The whole interview was really good and the “short” at the end was wonderful, so you might want to see the whole thing if you can find it.*

An excerpt with this exercise is available at the moment on the OWN site:


The exercise here was an abbreviated version of his technique so it may not reflect the impact of doing the full version.  I was definitely taken by it.  But I found the questions he asked us to consider about gratitude –supposedly to move me into heart– moved me into my head as I reached for memories that seemed to fit.

In spite of that I felt a shift in attitude.  The problem I used is fairly big so I’d like to do it again and for a longer time.  And I came up with a couple of other ways I’d like to try it.

The first piece, putting your hands over your heart, is a good use of “energy flows where attention goes”, so at first I moved naturally into heart energy because the placement of my hands took me there.  I think I might have done better on the next step with just breathing in and out of my heart with my hands held there, bringing extra attention and energy to that level.

In another meditation I regularly do there’s a moment where you’re asked to recall a moment of great happiness.  I always recall a visit back to Marin during which, while out on a walk, I hit a beautiful stretch I love and felt so delighted to be there that I danced around with my arms in the air.  Recalling the moment puts me in a magical place.  I’m also going to try doing the exercise using the happy memory and see how it goes.

So, the three possible variations:

  1.  His method:
  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there throughout
  • think of an issue or problem
  • list three things for which you’re grateful
  • come back to the issue and see how it feels or what answers you have from the heart space

2.  Using energy:

  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there throughout
  • think of an issue or problem
  • inhale and exhale from your heart at least six breaths (or until you feel you’ve moved into the energy of heart)
  • review the issue again and see if your feelings or ideas about it have changed

3.  Happy memory

  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there
  • think of an issue or problem
  • inhale and exhale from your heart two or three times
  • focus on the happiest moment you can think of and really let yourself feel it
  • come back to the issue and see how it feels or whether you have a different view

I think there’s some potential here for powerfully moving through stuck places in a pretty simple exercise, so I’ll be working with this one!

*OWN has gotten to be pretty cagey about making full episodes available after airing.  This one is not on the OWN youtube page although there are excerpts.  As of today (Sept. 20, 2016) it’s available through On Demand.  It is NOT available on the OWN app.