Playing all our notes

Even before I received the news that Nine Gates Mystery School founder Gay Luce is in the process of dying, I’ve had Nine Gates on my mind. Thinking a lot about Gay, though, I’ve really been reflecting on her creation and the amazing ideas at the core of its structure. Although there are many layers to Nine Gates, the central theme is that we are like flutes with many notes possible but most of us only play one or two all the time. Each chakra has its own tone, its own characteristics, vibration, etc.

When you really learn to tune into each chakra and understand the uses and purposes of each, you can move at will from the energy of one to the energy of another, shifting energy to suit circumstances. As you proceed through the 2-part workshop, you spend 2 days on each of 9 energy centers. There’s a master teacher for each who teaches practices from his or her tradition or specialty that use that chakra and help you build energy there.

The teachers have changed many times over the 30+ years since I attended, but just as examples, for my sessions we had:

  • David Patton, Celtic tradition with the Dromenon, or labyrinth, as the central focus for the bubbling spring chakra in the feet
  • Gay Luce, who trained extensively with Tarthang Tulku and Claudio Naranjo, teaching practices about birth and beginnings for 1st chakra
  • a teacher from Mantak Chia’s school teaching the Taoist practices of the Inner Smile and the Microcosmic Orbit for second chakra
  • Ellen Margron, longtime facilitator of the Fisher Hoffman method teaching techniques of discovering locked in emotions and releasing them for third chakra
  • Angeles Arrien teaching practices based on her Basque background for moving from third to fourth (heart) space
  • Paul Ray, Sufi master, teaching chants and breathing practices to hold heart space
  • Gay Luce teaching Right Speech and Right Listening for the fifth chakra
  • Serge King teaching Huna practices for sixth chakra
  • Gay Luce leading death and dying practices for seventh chakra
  • Gay Luce teaching about connection to higher realms for the transpersonal chakra

There was always a large staff composed of Mystery School graduates. Behind the scenes, they helped elevate the energy of each chakra by resonating together before each class session (3x a day) into the energy of whichever chakra was being addressed and then dispersing around the room amongst the students and holding that energy space.

As a student, I was way too wowed by all of it to realize what the staff was doing aside from also mentoring all of us, being there to help if we struggled with a practice, etc. And it took a couple of times serving on staff for me to really comprehend how much it added to the power of living in each chakra to have the staff holding the energy space.

The sessions are designed with three classes a day, one filling the morning (and for those who want it there are exercises before breakfast), one the afternoon and one the evening. There are also some amazing rituals thrown in. It’s an immersion experience. For some people, the teachers are exciting, the multitudes of new practices they learn almost come too quickly to take everything in and they come away with more enthusiasm about all that than understanding about “playing the flute”.

Many of us also went on to study more with some of the teachers. I did a lot of emotional work with groups facilitated by Ellen Margron, read a lot of Serge King’s books and went to one of his workshops, attended various Sufi events, practiced Right Speech and eventually taught it, etc. Many people who were taken with some of the Buddhist practices Gay taught went on to join Spirit Rock. After Baba Harihar Ram began teaching a lot of people joined his Sonoma Ashram. You get the idea. So many ways to get a LOT out of Nine Gates.

Throughout all of it, though, there are lessons to be learned about moving among the chakras. At feet, for instance, so many useful things about grounding are part of it. If you’re in high anxiety, really worrying about something, all your energy has moved up to your head. If you put your attention into your feet and hold it, the energy will flow downward and it will help calm and ground you.

One of my fave stories was about a grad who was in NYC one day when a storm created winds so strong at rush hour that people were blown down if they tried to go outside, so thousands of people were caught in their buildings. She really wanted to get to the subway and on to an appointment. So she put her energy in her feet, imagined her feet having tentacles into the ground and walked across the plaza to the subway.

Many times when I’ve been on my way to an interview or a meeting about which I was nervous and for which I wanted to be in my power, I’ve quietly done the microcosmic orbit while riding along on the bus or up in the elevator, bringing energy into the power space of second chakra. A grad who worked as an exec for a big company would make sure he entered meeting rooms first and would move into heart energy, working to fill the room with it and hold that energy space during the meeting.

These are just some examples of the ways in which we can play much more complex music in our lives than the repetitive couple of notes we usually stay stuck in.

My spirituality centers around my belief that everything is energy, so learning how to work with energy for me is the goal. And hanging around with a teacher whose core teaching and way of living were so totally immersed in energy practice was such a gift!

Gay Luce, friend and mentor, on her way to the other side

I received word that my dear friend Gay Luce, whose health has been failing rapidly the last couple of years, is in transition, expected to die at any time. She’s been so important in my life, I can’t quite grasp the idea of a world without her in it.

As has been true of a number of big changes that turned out great, meeting Gay was a fluke. I’d been taking some classes with spiritual teachers Arthur and Ann Cataldo. They met and liked Gay so much they helped sponsor a workshop in Chicago. Since they lived in FL and I lived in suburban Evanston at the time, they asked me to help field phone calls about the workshop in exchange for a free ticket.

I was happy to help but the workshop was a long haul from where I lived and I wasn’t sure I’d go. Literally up until getting up that morning and driving, I was never sure I’d attend. I felt uncomfortable in the crowd of people I didn’t know and wondered if I could slip out at a break when Gay walked in the room and the light around her drew me in. She hadn’t talked much about Nine Gates Mystery School before I knew I had to sign up.

The tuition for Nine Gates, which is a residential program that takes place over 2 9-day sessions, is high and it took a lot of questioning and negotiating to finally wind up with a time-payment plan and to head off in the winter of 1990 to Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma for the first session. See here for more info on the workshop.

Not only did the workshop completely blow me away–life changing, really–but I met fantastic people, many of whom lived out there. My life was in transition anyway and after the 1st session I started wondering about moving out there so I could immerse myself more deeply. With that in mind I drove out to Joshua Tree for session 2 and after went up to the Bay Area to look around. By the end of the trip I’d decided to move.

It took quite a while to sell my house, but in spring of 1991 I headed to San Francisco. A horrible roommate left me soon looking for new digs and it happened that Gay had just evicted the tenant in the apartment attached to her house. So, suddenly I was living at the home of my revered teacher. Initially I felt some trepidation, but it didn’t take long for Gay, her husband, David, and I to become a family. We wandered in and out of each others’ homes and our pets felt equally free to hang out anywhere.

They were already talking about selling the 2-acre place in Corte Madera; that didn’t happen until 27 years later, but every time they brought up the possibility, they also told me they were looking for something that would have space for me too and it’s hard to tell you how deeply that moved me. Eventually, due to the high cost of living and having a lot of senior relatives in Kentucky, I was the one who wound up moving away…

The property had been and continued to be the scene of many rituals and spiritual gatherings and it’s hard to describe the magical energy of this land in the hills near Mount Tamalpais. Amazing teachers came through all the time. Constant heady discussions of deep metaphysical topics and learning insights became my norm.

Perhaps the most life-impacting aspect of time with Gay was, for me, experiencing absolute love and acceptance for the first time ever. There was no potential career path or odd plan I could come up with that Gay didn’t meet with absolute enthusiasm and expressing her certainty that I would be good at it. Being more accustomed to being discouraged from following the paths that most interested me, it took a while to understand what a gift it was to be so totally supported.

For many years after I moved to Kentucky we talked often and I went out to house and cat sit while they went to sessions of Nine Gates many times but in recent years between more on my plate with “Mom care” and Gay’s increasing problems with aphasia along with their move away from the home I’d shared meant contact decreased.

This is not the first time I’ve felt terrible at the end that my contacts with someone had not been as frequent as I felt they should have been, but I’ve also realized life just works that way sometimes. In the meantime, I’m gratefully running thousands of images of our years of laughter, shared meals, amazing conversations and adventures through my mind. As far as a positive and major transformational influence on my life, I think Gay had more impact than any other. I also know we closed every conversation with “I love you” so that’s the last thing I said to her…

May her journey into the light be joyful and easy.

“The Crime Problem”: A Successful Propaganda Campaign

The crime problem is made up. And an amazing example of the power of propaganda to sway the thinking of an entire nation. Much as our individual psyches are filled with memories, old beliefs, admonitions from parents, etc. that must be addressed in order to raise consciousness, so must we ferret out the beliefs, etc. embedded in the national psyche and address those. I think this one is a major point of consciousness that could shift a lot.

I first became aware of the big lie about crime when, as a graduate student, I landed on “The Reaction to Crime Project”, an LEAA funded research project conducted by Northwestern’s Center for Urban Affairs, starting in 1976. My first assignment was a “literature survey” involving reading hundreds of studies and articles on crime statistics.

I was stunned to discover that the wide-spread perception of crime being rampant everywhere was basically a manufactured problem, created by changing how crime stats are reported with a lot of help from TV creating a national audience for news that until then was largely only locally reported.

In study after study and article after article covering several decades of research, I read that the old reporting was based on the probability of being a victim of any given crime. Then law enforcement decided to change to reporting gross numbers; i.e. total number of murders, total number of burglaries, etc. Since the population is always growing, the total numbers of crimes is pretty much guaranteed to grow. But through all the years of screaming about the awful, ever growing crime problem, the probability statistic–the chance of any given citizen being a victim–never changed.

For most crimes the PROBABILITY OF BEING A VICTIM HAS NOT CHANGED IN 100 YEARS unless you’re a male POC between the ages of 15 and 25. Take that in. You have no more chance of being burglarized or assaulted, etc. than the people in the 1930’s and 40’s who didn’t lock their doors because they felt so safe. The constant bombardment with “news” of the “terrible crime problem” has literally shifted an entire population from feeling safe to being convinced they live in a violent world where criminals are lurking around every corner.

The literature didn’t offer much of an explanation as to why the government decided to change reporting from probabilities to totals, but the first thing I noted was that it led to huge increases in budgets for law enforcement. And over time I could see how the change also made it easy to take the second step of blaming the huge “crime problem” on POC and immigrants even though statistics don’t support those conclusions either. These groups are unfairly targeted by law enforcement with little protest from the populace at large because everyone has bought into these made up tales of crimes and who commits them.

The LEAA project was a huge one, requiring a lot of funding. What shocked me once the literature review was complete, was that they were funding the research knowing that people’s fears about crime far exceeded the reality but they had no interest in trying to change that false perception.

The only thing they wanted us to do was figure out whether programs like Whistle Stop, community involvement, etc. could reduce the fear a little. In other words, whatever the original purposes were in government changing the reporting and creating the perception of rampant crime, LEAA didn’t want to take down the manufactured belief in rampant crime.

Over the years since my time on the Reaction to Crime project, I periodically checked in on the crime stats to see if there was any big change. There was not. Outside of certain neighborhoods and the young male POC demographic (and a few crimes that were added to the roster since then like car-jacking…) and more recently the mass shooting issue, the chance that you will be a victim of most crimes has not changed in 100 or more years.

Because people believe this false scenario, huge amounts of money are spent on policing and various law enforcement efforts in cities, towns, etc. in general instead of focusing funds on the programs that would reduce crime in the particular places where it tends to actually be rampant. Spending money on the fake problem instead of developing solutions for the real problems.

This is not the only instance over years of doing lots of research and reading wherein I’ve noted that politicians and the media manipulate “truth” in order to convince the populace to believe whatever they want them to believe. Because the belief is so widespread, I’ve brought it up over and over through the years and noted most people just glaze over when you try to tell them there really is no rampant crime problem. The belief is so ingrained, people can’t take in the truth.

How do we wake people up from the manipulation?

@Lawrence @TheLastWord @eji_org @hmcghee @TheProblem @maddow @CBSSunday @briantylercohen

When Muscles Hit the Perfect Storm

For the last several years I’ve been dealing with increasingly painful and bothersome issues in my left hip/pelvis/low back/groin. That hip has a long history of trouble and I’d injured the psoas a few years before, with little success at healing it. So I carried on as best I could under a lot of tough circumstances, doing the yoga and Robert Masters exercises I’d used for years.

But the problem wasn’t going away and I started to look into other solutions, which led to realizing a series of issues in that area have come together and, as far as I can tell, impacted every muscle, ligament and tendon in the area. A combination of injuries, repetitive motion, and much-reduced exercise schedule created an area-wide problem.

It took quite a while to realize the many threads that brought me to this point. It happens more than people realize with muscles and western medicine is lousy at coping with muscle issues, so most people don’t know how easily one problem can become two and then five, so I thought I’d give some info on this particular journey.

I was born with my left leg twisted so muscles on that side were out of place and pulling on others from the beginning. Years later a car accident created a bit more of a twist and my left hip started going out of joint all the time. The pain from that led to sitting with more weight on the other side while squeezing the muscles on the left hip as tight as possible to numb the pain. That created one hip being quite a bit higher than the other.

There were already profoundly twisted back muscles extending into that area and the psoas was so tightly wound many practitioners commented about never having seen one so bad… They’re all in the same area so the patterns interacted. A great deal of that has been dealt with and as far as multi-patterns everywhere else, most of my body is holding the releases.

With years of yoga and concentrating a lot on hip and psoas stretches as well as the usual forward bends for back, a lot improved and I could mostly control the hip issue though it was never gone. Bodyworkers made big strides into all of it as well and when I added regular practice of the Robert Masters’ triggers of release, everything worked pretty well. Though the worst of the muscle patterns were still there, they improved enough to keep pain largely at bay.

Then I injured the psoas in a too-long hold on a yoga posture and struggled to get it to heal. Because the psoas is so central to movement, the pain meant my years-long habit of walking went by the wayside. A lot of other exercises and poses became tough to do so a lot of postures I normally rotated through went off the roster.

In the meantime, difficulty keeping my hip from going out when sitting in any chairs led to creating a set-up on the floor where my hips could be held firmly in balance. But floor sitting generally means bending the low back. It took years, but the position slowly took a number of muscles out of alignment and left the sacroiliac area locked tight.

All of that was still going on when my mom fell and broke her hip. Hours in some NOT ergonomic hospital chairs brought the hip issue back, worse than it had ever been because of interaction with the psoas and sacroiliac issues. Covid hit and the extra hours it took to take care of groceries, the caretaking for my mother, etc. left me struggling about exercise.

With less time to spend and pain dictating what I could do, my practice dwindled to mainly doing postures/triggers that directly impacted the areas of pain plus riding an exercise bike several times a week. Through that time to now, Mom wound up in and out of the hospital several times with a couple of skilled nursing stays as well and my dad died, so many more things filled my schedule and reduced time spent on yoga, etc.

The forced move after my mother’s death added more layers of issues as I heaved boxes, moved furniture, etc. Then the exercise bike was too big for my condo, so it didn’t get moved and yet another many-years-regular exercise fell away. All of these things combined to mean these first 5 months in my new locale have been riddled with pain issues.

Regular practice of the hip/psoas poses and releases meant I could keep reducing the pain but every time I try to go back to finishing the process of clearing my dad’s stuff from the condo and unpacking mine it goes out again. It’s not crazy about long grocery shopping trips, vigorous cleaning or cooking that involves a lot of standing either.

The Universe popped a video by chiropractor Dr. Rowe (see top video) for opening the sacroiliac joint into my path and it was a game changer. He has dozens of videos on YouTube and I’ve been making my way through all the ones that relate to muscles in the hip, pelvis, low back, groin region. Some of them overlap and some exercises that help several muscles in the area show up on numerous videos so it becomes easy to memorize a few and start integrating into your routine without having to watch a video every day.

As far as I can tell pretty much every muscle in there is either twisted up or weak from underuse and/or connected to one or more of the painful patterns operating in there. Plus on the “good” side, some muscles are over-strong because they’re doing most of the work for both sides. I’m particularly focused on the piriformis, iliotibial band and psoas/hip flexors on the bad side. If you spend a lot of time sitting, you should probably be doing something for those muscles too.

I’ve also been working with some of the online videos provided on the Silver Sneakers site. There’s a Restorative Yoga one up right now (they rotate) which, while unlike any other RY I’ve done, happens to concentrate a number of nice easy long holds on muscles in the area I’m addressing and it has REALLY helped.

Since I’ve been watching/doing a lot of videos for this area, naturally the internet is constantly showing me more, which is how I found this gem, with exercises quite different than the others I’m doing and very helpful. The final two for psoas are really making some inroads on the psoas issue.

A lot of people don’t realize the degree to which muscles can go off slowly and over time nor how much they interact with each other. When someone says an exercise could cause an injury, in many cases it’s not that something so dramatic will happen that you’re off to the ER the first time you do it wrong.

Generally it’s means you’re using a muscle or impacting a joint in a way that slowly over time will cause muscles to tighten or the joint to become sore. You might not know you have a problem until several years after you quit doing the exercise. And by that time the impacted muscle(s) will have pulled off some others.

As I’ve noted before, Western medicine is remarkably obtuse/uneducated in muscles, how they work, and how central they are to so much in our lives. And when a muscle is sore they’re more likely to prescribe a pain killer than point you toward something that would actually heal the muscle.

So if you are in an accident or have a fall, etc. it’s up to you to either demand a referral for massage therapy and/or chiropractic adjustments and/or physical therapy and really up to you to look into exercises YOU can do on your own to keep the muscles from freezing in the pained position caused by the accident.

In this case, a perfect storm of injuries, interconnected patterns, reduction of movement/exercise work and straining the area all came together over the course of a few years and threw the whole area out of whack. I’m aware enough of how muscles work to realize it was starting to pull nearby muscles in my leg and back out too. Fortunately the yoga and Robert Masters work I’ve done throughout prevented those areas from staying twisted.

The exercises are making inroads. The main things I’m noticing are that my posture is generally better because it’s easier to hold the low back in proper position and I’m also more able to sit in a healthier position. The worst of the painful muscles are still pretty painful though the exercises are giving me periods of relief.

I’m still working out a rotation, trying to do one or two of the new exercises every day, feeling into which I should do more often and trying to make sure my regular yoga practice, which I designed to cover a lot of basics, stays in the mix. I’ve also added several new exercises from the Restorative Yoga video and several of Dr. Rowe’s into my regular routine.

No idea how long it will take. And that’s another thing western medicine doesn’t prepare you for. Actually healing issues instead of throwing some pills at it that eliminate symptoms while doing nothing to heal, isn’t really part of their practice. And healing takes time.

From near-sighted to far–what a journey

Last week I had my second cataract surgery. The surgery has taken me from a lifetime of near-sightedness to being very far-sighted now. Doctors talked about the likelihood of that but failed to mention how disorienting and discombobulating that can be.

The first vision therapist I saw long ago worked a lot with the emotional connections associated with eyes. One of the things he talked about was how near-sightedness is caused by emotional trauma and tightening the muscles around the optic nerve. It’s a way, he said, of blurring the edges of a world found too harsh. Seeing more clearly close in also tends to pair with being more inward and introverted.

Far-sightedness, on the other hand, involves being more out there in the world. Many athletes are far-sighted — that ability to see sharply at a distance serves well in many sports. Because closer in sight is not so good, they also often have a tough time in school unless someone realizes they need assistance to see for reading, etc. They are usually more extroverted.

I have an interesting relationship with both sides. Both of my vision therapists commented that the shape of my eyes was far-sighted so being near-sighted was imposed on my natural state by early emotional trauma. I lived very much in tune with the characteristic introvertedness, being almost pathologically shy until I knew people well.

The dichotomy appeared again when I worked with the Enneagram in the ’90’s. Initially I– and everyone around me who knew the Enneagram — assumed I was a 5, which is on the introvert side of the Enneagram and one of the most inward, introverted numbers on the diagram. However I also always felt uncomfortable with the 7 wing and the two places 5s move on the diagram in certain circumstances as I did not relate at all to those characteristics being me..

Later, as I went through the Fisher-Hoffman process I began to look at the Enneagram again and the F-H facilitator and I realized I’m actually a 4, which is on the extrovert side of the diagram, but lived my life almost entirely in its 5 wing. The wings and the 2 places of movement all match for me. And how interesting how that fits with the far-sighted/near-sighted eyes piece. Since then I’ve periodically noted my transformational journey has been moving me ever more outward in the world. Over the years I’ve become far more outgoing and comfortable giving talks, etc.

However, my sight stayed “near” and a lifetime of preferring solitude and quiet still impacts many choices in my life. So, the almost turn-on-a-dime switch from near- to far-sightedness has left me feeling disoriented. Digging out an old pair of reading glasses from contacts days and suddenly having to put them on every time I read anything or even to watch something on my small Fire tablet, feels weird and I’m struggling to adjust.

Even though my journey has been moving me toward this place of clear vision and moving outward in the world, I’m finding my eyes moved a little faster than my emotions were prepared for. Though I realize I’m more attuned to these kinds of emotional-physical connections than most Americans are, I’m still a little surprised that this disorienting change is so little discussed by eye doctors or others who’ve had the surgery.

Fascinating to experience this unfolding. Intrigued to see how long it will take and where it all leads.

Interesting signposts

For a while now I’ve been strongly sensing that the physical healing portion of my journey is drawing to a close and an as-yet-unknown something is coming into being. Other than a few vague insights, I don’t know exactly what the new phase will be and have been pretty content to allow it to unfold. [Apologies for the odd formatting — got this as desired in Word and nothing I can do here will keep the formatting or allow me to replicate it…]

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of signposts about what’s coming, like opening Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Coming to our Senses and finding this quote from Wendell Berry:

“It may be when we no longer know what to do,

we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go,

we have begun our real journey”

Kabat-Zinn, Jon, Coming to Our Senses, p. 1

Or doing a past/present/future reading of the Crystal Mandala Oracle cards and drawing “Ascended Master Yogananda” which reads, in part:

It is your time to assume your place in the world, at the table of the masters, who serve the loving hand of the Divine. You have been asking for your purpose to be more clearly unveiled and manifested in the world. You have endured lessons of patience. You have learned that spiritual progress can be made even without results being immediately obvious. You have learned trust and a willingness to surrender your personal desires into a larger plan. We know that of which you are capable, and we now invite you to step into the next level of empowered service available to your soul in service to the greater plan of divine love unfolding.

Fairchild, Alana, Crystal Mandala Oracle, p. 121

This week I added some odd pointers back to the beginning of my journey. I’ve attended a couple of “zoom” healing services via the Sarasota Center of Light and been really impressed by Rev. AdaRA Walton, who led both. I looked her up and noted she mentioned being attuned to “Amanohuna”. My early teacher, Arthur Cataldo, “received”
the info on Amanohuna and how to attune people back in the mid-80’s and I received 2 levels of attunement in approximately 1989. I got in touch with her and found out that yes, she also had been a student of his.

Then I attended a zoom women’s group meeting where the leader for that day had just made a first encounter with Carolyn Myss and started a discussion based on her book, Anatomy of the Spirit. I never studied with Carolyn Myss and I’m not sure whether I ever read more than excerpts of some of her early work, but she was around in the late 80’s and I knew people who worked with her at the time, so I realized as my friend described the book that I was fairly familiar with Myss’s work even though I did not ever study it. But they represent a bunch of healing energy stuff I’ve done off and on starting back then.

I’ve also watched a couple of online Sarasota Center of Light services, which seem to always include a portion during which a medium does some readings. This again hearkens back to the late 80’s for me, when I was fairly new to the path. The channeled Seth materials were among the first spiritual books I encountered and in those days I also read things by Lazarus, Ramtha, etc. Arthur Cataldo’s now-late wife, Anne, was a channeler I consulted, and I attended quite a few events led by Chicago-area medium Ruth Berger.

The Cataldos pointed me to Gay Luce and Nine Gates Mystery School. I was very taken with the ancient
traditions, having already been practicing yoga for several years. I went on to study further with these Nine Gates teachers:

  • Ellen Margron, who taught for 3d Chakra, a Fischer=Hoffman facilitator who’d taken the F-H “process” to greater depths and also created her own work called “Emotional Mastery”
  • Serge King, who taught Hawiian Huna for the 6th chakra
  • Paul Ray, who taught Sufi for the heart chakra

Other connections led me into vipassana and studying with a Hopi elder. As I moved through these other studies I lost interest in mediums, channeling, etc. Not that I don’t still believe in those things, just lost interest.

I’m finding it pretty intriguing that I’m suddenly face-to-face with several reminders of those early steps on the path. Not sure at this point whether this is just another moment of the Universe presenting things to release or a nudge to turn back to areas of the path that interested me long ago.

My inclination is still to avoid sitting around trying to reason out what “it” is I’m moving into. I’m excited so many strong portents are popping up. It’s helping me feel my sense of the journey moving on to a new phase is accurate and I’m prepared to let it unfold without trying to push or prod or shape it…


The positive side of Facebook?

I’ve been fascinated for a while by the disdain most people on Twitter (and among many who’ve migrated to Post or Mastodon) seem to have for Facebook. While I agree that Zuckerberg is an a** and would prefer not to support him, Facebook serves a completely different purpose for me than Twitter (now Mastodon, Post) and I can’t talk people there into moving…

On Twitter, Mastodon and Post I am in a world of people I don’t know irl and am mainly staying informed about and engaging in discussion of politics, political philosophy, etc. Plus, you know, the animal pics 🙂

I’ve kept Facebook devoted entirely to people I know in real life aside from occasionally accepting friend requests from people who know lots of other people I know (and I usually wind up meeting them at some point). There are friends from elementary school, high school, college, almost every town I’ve lived in and several spiritual organizations with which I’ve been connected.

Because I’ve always been a hippie and always found my way to hippies and/or people on a deeply spiritual path, 99% of the folks on my Facebook list are progressives and the majority also meditate or chant or follow Buddhist philosophy, etc.

My feed is full of inspiring memes, interesting articles on politics and climate science, etc. Even more endearing are the posts that keep me apprised of the lives of friends from all stages of my life. The kitchen remodel, the Christmas tree, the party with grandchildren…

Although I use Zoom and Skype more, I also Facetime with dear ones and occasionally someone uses the call feature to reach me.

The spiritual center I belonged to in Lexington has a page and a community group and I can stay in touch with people as well as watch the weekly service on FB or YouTube.

Following Deva Premal and Miten led to finding out about and joining the Global Gayatri Sangha and I’ve been singing the Gayatri with folks from around the world on Saturdays ever since. The group also does a lot of mutual support via FB as well as the sangha’s app.

Following Krishna Das led to joining his Thursday satsang every week and being reminded of them via his posts. And joining the Spirit Rock group means I get a notice whenever Jack Kornfield is giving a dharma talk.

A lot of people talk about FB as toxic and full of trolls, etc. but my friends and I have curated our lists and created a warm and kind space to hang out in. For me it’s a major place of connecting and feels a bit deeper because much of the connecting is with people I know.

Since I know a number of my fellow bloggers are on Facebook too, I’m interested in your experience.

Go Fund Her

litebeing chronicles

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Reblogathon to write about somethig current and urgent. Many of you may know Sindy of bluebutterfliesandme . I met Sindy shortly after I began my blog almost 10 years ago. She began commenting, encouraging me, and showing me the ropes. She was very positive about my writing and I dug her exuberance and sense of humor. She truly took me under her wing. Unfortunately Sindy has become ill and will have extensive medical expenses. As if the treatments are not enough, here in the good ole USA, medical care is not free for most of us.

A GoFundMe campaign has been created for Sindy and she gave me permission to share it here. Please give what you can and spread the word.  Sindy welcomes prayers and love as well. She has a big heart and has extended it to many. Now she is in need…

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What a week

Rarasaur is hosting this year’s NanoPoblano again. I’ve had such a busy exhausting time I decided not to sign on just as I get to a point of things winding down but I’m reading posts (check out the tag #NanoPoblano2022 to see lots of good posts) and enjoying. Ra put up a post today on the prompt “tell us about your week”; thought I’d try that.

I’m dipping the week back to last weekend because it had a lot of impact on the week for me. It was the weekend before my friend Hanna was to arrive and the guestroom still had unpacked boxes, stuff to move out for Goodwill, etc. I arranged for the guy I hired early on to help with moving, clearing, unpacking, etc. to come back for a couple of hours that weekend. So I kept working and also had a pile of stuff for him. Except he never showed. So Sunday, already exhausted to the point of dropping, I did not only everything left on the list for me but also most of his list. Grrr.

Not my favorite way to start a theoretically fun week and I struggled for most of it to rise above the fatigue and enjoy. Starting with never having been to the St. Pete airport, so driving with the anxiety of hoping the navigation system would not do one of its weird misdirections. Fortunately it got me right there and it’s hard to stay grumpy while driving across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Hanna is much younger than I and very lively so she wanted to be out and going! Fortunately for me she had a couple of other friends here so I got breaks, but we did a lot of eating out, a little shopping in the adorable Village of the Arts area, and picking her up from one of her outings I even found out about a really great beach off St. Armand’s and an organic restaurant in St. Armand’s circle.

All of it put me in touch with issues I’ve long been aware of regarding being able to recognize the happy and joyful stuff and be in the moment with it. So I kept moving from feeling “I’m too tired to do this” to realizing how great this restaurant or that crystal shop or this beach, etc. was. Hanna is fun and good-spirited so it wasn’t hard to enjoy being with her but otherwise an interesting dance between old numbness/”no fun” habits and new awareness of happy moments.

All that wandering in the area and finding new restaurants, etc. turned out to be good for feeling a little bit more like I really landed here instead of that life brought me to a strange place I don’t know well. And being in places having fun with a friend felt like a little harbinger of more fun here once I know some people. Been too busy unpacking, getting settled, obtaining new car title, etc. so far to be out meeting people anywhere.

Closer in, some issues I’ve always had about condos and condo associations cropped up when Hanna hung some beach stuff on the front courtyard fence, which is apparently a no no. Instead of coming over here to talk to me, several whiny people with the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old called the office to complain. Though the office manager was very diplomatic, it really ticked me off and reminded me why, after some run-ins with busybodies in the early years when both my parents lived here, I decided I would never live in a condo.

The couple remaining days of the week after Hanna left I sank bank into relaxation. Made a decision that the rest of the unpacking is on hiatus since I have everything I need for day-to-day life set up. Once I could just sit back and be for a while, the reality of being far from the home I’d had for 24 years started sinking in. And questions about staying here.

Most of the day yesterday I was on a schedule that was off from my normal of recent years. Early in the evening, while lounging on the couch reading, I had the sudden feeling I should be doing “the next thing”. Which led, after realizing I’d already done the exercises I usually do then, that SO much of my schedule in recent years was set up around my mother’s schedule and that I’m now free to have my own. May sound small, but to me it’s big and I’m still mulling the aspects that suit me fine so I’ll keep versus what I may want to change.

Quite a week, from frantically working past my limits, through having a mini vacation with my friend, to lounging and having time to reflect…

Healing/heat pads

HealthyLine Far Infrared Heating Pad

Having been guided for a while toward info on various healing pads, I finally purchased the one pictured above, a HealthyLine Far Infrared Heating Pad with jade and tourmaline. But I wandered through some other choices with a huge price tag range and different healing qualities and thought I’d share a bit of what I found. All seem to have claims about helping pain and circulation issues.

It began with a couple of people I know mentioning occasionally how much benefit they get from their Bemer devices. I looked up Bemer and the $4-5,000 price tag deterred me from looking farther. It’s a PEMF, or pulsed electro magnetic field, therapy.

The devices help open circulation/open the body and are being studied for multiple healing effects. Some therapists have Bemer pads in their offices and offer treatments so rather than purchasing you can just pay for an occasional treatment. Not widely available, but you can look up availability here.

Another friend recently purchased one and raved to me about the results for both her and her husband, who has multiple awful symptoms from years of battling cancer. As we talked, though, about the prohibitive price and its benefits, she commented that she credited it mainly with opening the body/energy flow up and said she thought my 36+ years of yoga plus working with Robert Masters’ Psychophysical technique probably meant it would have a less dramatic impact for me.

Then she also mentioned she’d done some research for another mutual friend and came up with the HealthyLine Platinum Mat, which is half the price and has both PEMF and infrared therapy. That’s still way out of my price range so I found it intriguing but not for me. The review article she found:

Next another friend, who’s also been my frequent bodywork/healing practitioner, brought up her PhyMat Far Infrared Amethyst Heating Pad and how much she loved it. When I mentioned the PEMF pads, she agreed that I’m probably already opened up enough not to need that and felt the somewhat more metaphysical and subtle benefits of the crystals added to these infrared pads (which the HealthyLIne PEMF above also has) would be more for me, added to the pain-relief capability, especially for my ongoing hip issues. This pad brings the price down to $330, so much more in the right ballpark for me.

I’m an inveterate researcher, though, so I started hunting for info on infrared heating pads with crystals. That led me to this review and the HealthyLine Far Infrared pad I wound up choosing. It’s the same company as the PEMF pad my friend came up with and I noted also that customer reviews raved about how great the customer service is, which is something I value. Also $100 less than the PhyMat. So I wound up with a price point much more in line with my budget.

The jade and amethyst in both pads are listed as mainly being there for their calming/relaxing benefits, so the trade to jade felt equal. Then the tourmaline adds some detox and energizing benefits and I really liked the idea of including those. Several friends have since mentioned experiencing the amethyst pads and really loving them, so sounds like that’s a great choice too.

The mat is a new arrival so I’ll wait to review other than to tell you the first thing I noticed was how much energy I felt from the crystals while the mat was still in its plastic wrapper. The recommendation is to use it initially only for short spells and on a pretty low setting. My first round felt good, definitely got into my muscles (an impact that kept unfolding for some hours after) and left my energy really buzzed. I’m looking forward to reaching the point of using it at higher temps and, at least occasionally, longer times.

The in between place

I’ve reached the point of settling in where clearing Dad’s stuff, unpacking my stuff, moving things around, etc. has slowed down. With that slowing, in moments of sitting back, I realize I feel incredibly “in between”.

I can barely take in that I’m now living in this condo. Incredibly thankful my parents bought it 40+ years ago and that my dad kept it in the divorce so the home at least is deeply familiar. Because I never spent large amounts of time here, I don’t know my way around town well and feel as if I’ve landed in foreign territory when I leave home.

The car navigation system is a must for almost every venture out though I finally have been to a couple of places enough I can just drive to them. Other than chatting a bit with neighbors and cashiers, I’ve not met anyone, don’t have friends here… I miss my fave restaurants in Lexington and am struggling to find places here.

I’m still on zoom for regular happenings at the spiritual center I attended in Lexington and my attempt to reach out to a place here has landed no answer, adding to the feeling of being more connected there than here. Once in a while when out driving in territory I really don’t know I feel untethered, lost on another planet.

And deep within the actual physical relocation and sense of being lost in a strange land, I’m at last at the end of the long healing journey and finished with the caretaker role I’ve held for a long time with my mother. I’ve seen those endings coming for some time and realized nothing loomed to be the next phase and I still have no idea what I want to do next.

My main gratitude, as in so many things, is for the many years of meditation, yoga, emotional clearing, etc. that are allowing me to hold a calm space in the face of this uncertain in between place. When the last of the clearing, unpacking, etc. is done I’m hoping for a quiet spell to contemplate, to let the flow of normal life move me in a new direction…

The energy of stuff

In the last 4 months I’ve had an almost non-stop immersion in the practice of letting go of stuff. Some days so much stuff has been emptied that I was literally buzzing and off balance from the energy shift created.

My mom was a hoarder. Never quite got to the level of whole house piled with pathways through, mostly because of her social sensitivity, me insisting periodically on some clearing and the fact it was a big house, so she could pile a couple rooms and the basement and leave some spaces presentable-ish. Most of that, of course, didn’t belong to me, so when Mom died, going through it was a part of my job.

I was also moving to a furnished condo, so even my things needed to be culled, as well as extracted from the midst of Mom’s piles. Among the challenges Mom left, were years and years and years of bags of bills/statements, etc., many of which involved still existent accounts and I had filing cabinets with tons of out-of-date files so there was also a LOT of shredding and a lot of bags of paper recycling.

Then I got to Florida and needed to clear a ton of stuff still in condo from my Dad and his late, second wife. The amount that a combo of junk haulers, me and a guy I hired moved out in 4 days literally left me reeling with the energy shift.

I kind of got used to the oppressive amount of stuff in Mom’s house though I was sometimes aware of the weight of it. Clearing giant amounts at a time, however, really brought home how much energy all that stuff sucked from us. And every time an extraordinary amount exited in a day, whether auction place taking a ton or friends helping me do some clearing, it was startling how palpable the change in the air became.

I’ve known for years that everything has and is energy, but I hadn’t quite taken in the power of energy contained in “stuff”. The process leaves me so much more thoughtful about what’s in my space and how I want to move forward from here.

See No Stranger: an inspiring read

The law was designed to colonize and control the rest of us, not set us free. And yet the founders had invoked words whose power even they could not constrain–justice, freedom, equality, the guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These were magical words that had a power of their own and seized the imagination of the people for whom they were never meant. In every generation, people had risen up in movements to unleash the magic of these words, to bleed for these words and expand the “we” in “we the people” to include more and more of us. Constitutional Law was an archive of these expansions and contractions.

Kaur, Valerie, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World, 2020), p. 177

I’ve been reading Valerie Kaur’s excellent book, See No Stranger and not only enjoying the book but fascinated by the inner roads its content leads me down. The book is a combo of autobiography and a history of the Revolutionary Love movement she founded.

Ms. Kaur is a Sikh whose family came to the U.S. several generations ago and her commitment to change/transformation began in the wake of 2001 and the backlash of hatred in which many Sikhs suffered violence and death. There were some respects in which her path and mine were similar, politically speaking. I was inspired by the Viet Nam war and the things I learned in college about the many ways our country did not live up to its hype as a welcoming place of freedom.

We both continued to follow those convictions, learning more via things we studied in college, graduate school and then law school. The big difference was that, from the beginning, she “got” how to make every right move from joining with like-minded people, to taking internships and positions that connected her to a more powerful network, to figuring out how to inspire change in a whole community. I never knew how to be that smart about the moves I made; instead I kind of blundered along, studying, volunteering, trying to find jobs that let me help, etc.

One big difference was I homed in, in college, on the “power elite’ aspect of our problem. I quickly understood how deeply the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the rich and powerful impacts our government and our lives. I studied it from many angles and throughout my anti-war/hippie crowd of friends I talked about it till they told me I was boring. But no one wanted to hear this.

So it’s a little bit hard to launch a movement if you can’t convince anyone there’s even a problem to address. Of course we are now seeing in our country how deeply the rich and corporate factions have affected our lives and that the right wing group is trying to destroy democracy in favor of the rich basically doing whatever they want while everyone struggles, starves, suffers, etc.

But I will admit, I grew up just thinking you got an education and got a job and things fell into place, so I was clueless about seeking out networks, taking positions that would seat me next to power, etc. I can see how many times and ways I failed to make moves that might have put me in a better position to be an influencer.

My dad spent many years at Buick as a second in command in a department which he pretty much ran while a variety of others kept getting promoted over him and then on to higher positions without ever having really done anything in his department. It was years before I realized it boiled down to those other men knowing how to play the political game and my dad hanging out believing that if you worked hard and did the right thing you’d be rewarded. That’s just how I grew up.

What I did do always was to find where I could volunteer to help with environmental issues or get a job where those issues were addressed, attended rallies and marches for many causes and wrote lots of letters to senators and reps. Just a quiet dedication to trying to do something, however small. And I know the world needs the foot soldiers who just do those little things.

But I always kinda wanted to be more like Valarie, moving into a position to influence and really impact change. Very inspiring to read her book. And I love her Revolutionary Love movement!

Unwinding update

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on the unwinding muscles in my face and head. The process has been relentless for most of the last year, without regard to how many other things claimed time and attention (like my mother’s hospital and nursing home stays, etc.). And it’s been down at the core for so long I’ve regularly thought I’d be able to start posting the “Unwound” series I’ve long been planning.

But it’s still going. And it’s been more debilitatingly constant since my mother’s death than ever. It’s become so rare to sleep for an entire night, I can’t actually tell you the last time I did. The awe-inspiring part is feeling these granite-like ropes of muscle open and how blood and prana begin to flow in places where nothing has gone through for decades. Or looking across at a bookshelf or objects on the counter and realizing I’m seeing them more clearly at the distance I’m standing than ever.

The more the energy opens up, the more I’m connecting with the “inner voice” that I’ve blocked so long. The opening is also restoring a lot of energy flow. I’ve noted before how very much energy it takes both to hold onto those tight knots and twists and for blood, oxygen, prana, etc. to fight to find pathways through your body. So the more open I become the better I feel — especially helpful since I’m not getting nearly enough sleep.

Not surprising, all this shifting in my physical body, which has always related to both personal and ancestral issues, is creating some shifts in my life. And it feels like a big one is looming. Not just the fact that I’m moving to another state, something else feels large and near.

Such mixed feelings keep flowing through about leaving this town that’s not only been home longer than any other place I’ve lived, but has such deep ancestral roots for me. For a while I got strong messages indicating it’s time to let go and it may be better to live some place where I don’t have so many nostalgic childhood associations. Then a friend who has amazing abilities to tune in psychically said I’m corded here and I just need to let go of the cord. As soon as we hung up I threw up, accompanied by a strong sensation of letting go.

One of the teachings in the Fisher-Hoffman process I went through long ago is that the final piece of letting go of Mother is literally “throwing up mother”. I also felt strongly a letting go re: mom in that moment and that the cord my friend saw included her.

In the meantime I’m down to about 3 weeks before I’m aiming to move and I’m caught in the house with a ton of Mom’s stuff still here, estate sale places telling me nothing has enough value for them to do a sale, working madly to sort, dump, shred decades of paperwork she left behind, extract the belongings I want to take with me and get them packed, figure out handling the reverse mortgage people, choosing between U-Haul and moving company… and doing it all on way too little sleep accompanied by lots of buzzy, weird feelings and nausea and headaches all due to the wild unwinding muscles.

Fun times. Not…

The upside is through all of it I feel all of this transition from the loss of my mother to the loss of my home to starting over in a new place to finally reaching the end of an unbelievably long healing journey with my muscles is leading to the massively transformed life I’ve worked, shifted, transitioned toward for 37 years.

What does “my own schedule” look like?

Since Mom’s death, several people have asked me about my new “freedom” of schedule now that I don’t have all the caretaking duties. From my perspective I just traded one set of time-dictating “musts” for another. And it has me contemplating how we all so often set up our days by the “musts”.

Losing my mother set off an emotional roller coaster of its own and on top of losing her, because of a lot of not very smart decisions she made years ago, instead of inheriting the house in which I’ve lived for 24 years and a sizeable trust fund, materially I’ve inherited nothing from her but a giant hoarder’s mess to clean up and the need to move with great speed to pack up and move to the condo in Florida my dad’s more careful ways left me.

Some of the time I’m pretty angry and put upon. Until I remember the privilege that means I have a condo to move into and enough money to scrape by for a while.

The last months of her life, taken up with hospitals, nursing homes, diapers, wheelchair, etc. were exhausting and the second she died I had to begin the even more tiring task of clearing out her unbelievable piles of crap and trying to separate out and pack up my own stuff for the move. So no, at the moment I don’t feel free.

And Salty apparently decided to help me see it. He’s very old and frail and really upset by all that’s changing around him, from the absence of Mom to furniture and items disappearing and moving around, etc. He climbed on my lap a while ago for a snooze. I had a packing schedule in mind and the snooze was interfering.

I sat for a couple of minutes, tense and worrying about being late already at starting. He gently snoozed, his head tucked under my chin. I tuned in and noted the tenseness and chose to relax into the lovely moment with my fur baby. I’m not sure he’s going to live through all this and I’d rather drink in his sweetness while I can than be sorry later that I was too busy packing to enjoy him.

I’ve also been thinking about how nice it will be once I get to FL and at least largely unpacked. No caretaking. No clearing and sorting after I finish getting the dad/stepmom stuff I don’t want out of the condo and my stuff put in place. Ah, but then I remembered, in order to survive, I have to re-start yoga teaching, figure out doing classes on line, etc. Or get a job. How long can I float and relax, schedule-free, before I must get moving again?

Which then started me thinking about how many days when I have nothing on the schedule like an appointment or a lunch, etc. I still feel I “must” go to the grocery, do a load of laundry, make a new batch of granola or cashew creamer. How free is my schedule ever? And don’t most of us have these daily “musts”? Actual days of floating along, doing nothing are pretty hard to come by unless you have the money to pay someone else to fix your meals, including getting the provisions, or to take spa vacations.

Now I’m contemplating how little activity still leaves me feeling my day is “free” and mine. Much relies on perception and how I choose to feel about what I need to do. My mother resented pretty much all domestic tasks (she grew up in a household with a housekeeper and a cook) and I realized years ago that I internalized that dislike.

I have to actively shift my emotions just to get to neutral. Thanks to how much I love the smell of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and love a clean floor, I’ve come to enjoy mopping and ignore the twinging back that results, which leads me to believe I can manage to shift the “ugh” feeling about other chores 🙂

I figure the whole schedule thing is mostly a question of staying in tune with how I feel about all the aspects of my day and choosing the feeling tone that leaves me also feeling free. But I’m not sure I’m gonna get there about clearing 30 years of clutter or packing for a move…