A VOW TO LOVE

Karen’s blog has long been one of my faves and her new class, A Vow to Love, looks really good!

a structure for spirit

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In February of 2015, grief irrevocably changed my life as only death can. Grief is necessary after a profound loss but I retreated into a spiral of stories I had attached to this passage; old and ancient tales that let me play it small, full of themes that assured me…

  • You are not enough.
  • Who do you think you are anyway?
  • You will never be happy.
  • You are nothing but an imposter.
  • All roads lead to disappointment.

Pretty limiting story lines to keep me safe, keep me small, while lowering my risk to pain since the bar was set pathetically low.

Then Trump was elected.

And I woke from a slumber.

There is no more hiding, no more playing it small. Each of us are being asked to step into our power, not in dominion over another, but as a full embodiment of our soul’s purpose, our Dharma.

“We are…

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Part 2 Peace: Oneness and You

I’ve been hanging around with people who speak with ease of the “Oneness of All” for years.  I think we all believe in it and mean it when we speak of it, but I also think the concept of one giant field of energy of which we’re each a part is beyond true comprehension for most of us.

The one thing I feel I understand is that “All That Is” is a pulsating field of energy and the Universe, the planets, the Earth and all its inhabitants are all part of it.  Every object, every person, every landscape is made of energy and all the energy of everything adds up to “All That Is”. Indigenous peoples seem to understand it better and have concepts like the lovely vision of all life as being part of the same web, which are based on understanding this oneness.

Our thoughts and feelings also have energy and we impact the energy field of oneness with the energy tones we each hold.  When lots of people are angry and full of hate, the web is moved into more anger and hate.  When lots of people hold a space of peace, love and compassion, the web is affected by that.

The conclusion to which I return every time I contemplate this is that one of the most important things each of us can do for the planet and humanity is to do whatever is necessary to heal our selves and learn to live with a peaceful and compassionate heart.

My personal journey has shown me that my ability to contribute to society in a positive way depends upon both actual physical health and also upon having a healthy mental and emotional state.  Long-term physical ailments have led me on a healing journey in which I have needed to heal on every level.  The more I heal the more I feel I contribute a more positive vibe to the Oneness.

I’ve seen it in the healing journeys of others as well.  When anyone moves from an unhappy or angry or closed down space into a place of being more joyful, healed of anger and/or more open, you can see the field of well-being spread far around them.

My number one prescription for participating in a peaceful revolution to a world of love and compassion:  heal your Self!  Hold only love and compassion in your heart.

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J2P Monday: Part 1 Peace begins with you

My Himalayan Salt Lamp

My Himalayan Salt Lamp

I recently wrote a series of posts about peaceful activism (it ends here and the post has links to all the others at the end) and I recently mentioned I wanted to turn it into a book.  While ruminating I’ve realized there must be a discussion of the importance of individuals “being peace”at the core of any such movement.

Thought I’d start with a series of simple ideas in posts here and the first suggestions are about helping to create an environment for yourself in which it is easier to feel positive and serene.

Many of us live in homes where some inhabitants are not on the same spiritual journey.  Most of us live in areas where lots of negative thinking swirls around us regularly, whether it’s neighbors, coworkers, family members or the media–social or traditional.  It can be difficult to hold a space of peace when it is constantly challenged by chaos.

Your Own Space

Whether you have a room you can devote to meditation and quiet or you’ve just put a cushion in a corner and announced it’s your meditation spot or you’ve carved out an area for an altar and a zabuton in the den, create a spot that no one else enters and keep it sacred.

No one else should be allowed in that corner or area or room.  This helps to hold the energy you’re creating there and keeps down the amount of interference from others with less peaceful energy.

Place one or more objects that say “sacred space” to you, whether it’s a candle, an essential oil diffuser, a statue of Kwan Yin, a crystal or a combination of items like those.  The items are not the source of peacefulness but they provide a focus for your attention and will increasingly say “peaceful” to your spirit when you move into that space.

Negative Ions

Increasingly we’re bombarded with positive ions which, ironically, are bad for us physically, emotionally and energetically.  From technology to electric cords to air pollution and allergens, we live surrounded by things emitting positive ions all the time so it’s up to us to counteract with negative ions.

Nature is a great provider of negative ions.  Even just a walk outside or a stroll on the beach can provide you with enough negative ions to shift your positive/negative ion ratio.  A pounding surf or a waterfall can restore balance and leave you feeling uplifted.

In the house there are a variety of things you can easily do.  My current favorite is my Himalayan salt lamp.  This salt when warmed by a bulb emits negative ions.  Within a couple of weeks I slept better and my nagging allergy issues by and large disappeared.  Months in I feel it’s contributing to my slowly increasing energy.

Many table fountains are available and the moving water sends negative ions into the room.  When I first read about the negative/positive ion issue years ago I went out and bought a fountain.  I’ve had a few and I love them but I live in an area where there’s so much lime in the water it became too hard to keep the mechanism clean and clear.  If you don’t have the water issue, it’s a lovely way to fill your home with negative ions.

Taking a shower will give you a personal hit of negative ions; its one of the reasons you may feel uplifted or energized after a shower.

Tourmaline and amethyst crystals also provide negative ions so you can buy stones to place in your house and/or get jewelry with those stones to wear as you move through your day.

Many house plants can also help with negative ions.  See here for a list of plants to consider.

Smudge sticks, essential oils and incense

Scents can do so much to make an atmosphere and/or create a feeling.  I’ve always loved perfume and scented things so I make use of many varieties.

Smudge sticks are a combination of sage and cedar or sage and sweetgrass, sometimes with one or more other herbs.  I use loose sage and cedar in a shell instead of a stick.  Sage cleanses and clears negative energy.  Cedar both clears negative and attracts positive energy.

I don’t do it as often as I should, but I try to clear my room periodically and I always smudge when I create a circle for ceremony or meditation. Escential Essences, possibly my favorite incense company, makes one called Kachina Dreams which is sage and cedar so you can keep cleansing the energy with the ease of lighting an incense stick.

I most frequently burn the Sai Baba Nag Champa but I also use various scents from Escential Essences if I have a particular atmosphere I want to create.  Some other faves are Buddhist Temple, Ocean Atlantis and Purification.

I also have an essential oil diffuser in which I use Amrita (recommended by my aromatherapist) essential oils — sometimes one of their blends, sometimes a combo of individual oils I choose to put together.  More often these days I just wear the oil…

As long as no one in your home is allergic to scents or smoke, it’s a great way to create a sense of peace or spiritual purpose.

Music

Music pours so much energy into a room and you can shift the atmosphere by choosing music that creates a peaceful space.  I often leave a peaceful playlist running in my room and when I teach yoga or a spiritual workshop I choose music to create a mood.

Although I have a number of yoga nidra recordings the only one I use is Experience Yoga Nidra.  Besides a short and a long version of yoga nidra, it has a short music recording, Travel through the Space of Experience which is an Indian piece designed to balance the chakras.  I often put the track on repeat and play it throughout a class or leave it looping in my room all day.  It’s amazing what an energy it creates.

I also play Deva Premal chant playlists or various kirtan chant recordings or one of Jonathan Goldman’s or Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s healing sound recordings.  Obviously there are choices by the thousands, just give some thought to whether you want to promote peace or balance or healing, etc. and play music that creates that feeling.  If you can put a playlist on repeat and leave it running in an area in which you spend a lot of time.

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Choose one or more things that appeal to you and then start creating an atmosphere of peace and calm either throughout your home or in your space.  You can also wear an essential oil and, say, an amethyst necklace wherever you go so you’re bolstered in holding your space of peacefulness.

 

Hope Gone Viral Challenge

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I’m kind of late I think with this challenge.  When Ra posted about it (now I can’t find her post or I’d give you a link…) I noted it seemed a good idea but then didn’t get to it and then felt hesitant about my post idea since part of the challenge implies the post should be about someone else who’s done something positive.  But it also invites us to post about what excites us in 2017.

I’m very excited right now because something about the election and its unexpected (and for me unwelcome) results has sparked me.  I wrote a series of five posts about how to turn activism in a positive direction:

“Where energy flows” explores how the positive or negative direction of our attention impacts the world and outcomes.  “Be For” looks into activism in favor of what you want instead of against what you don’t.  “Doing” explores three general ways of “doing something” positive in the realm of activism.  “Collective Consciousness” is a discussion of the power of a group united in beliefs and action.  “The Silent Revolution” looks at the possible strength of the group Paul Ray has dubbed the Cultural Creatives.

I’m so excited and energized by the idea of creating a positive activism movement that I’ve decided to turn those posts into a handbook which will expand on those ideas and add some more nuances.  So that’s my hopeful plan for 2017!

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Peace and love in the holiday season

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We went out a few nights ago to meander through an area that always decorates abundantly for the holidays.  There were too many cars to stop very often but I managed to catch the one above.

Always love the lights!

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year I hope you’re finding joy, peace and lovingkindness!  For those who observe Christmas, Merry Christmas!

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The view from both sides of some practices

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

 

As I mentioned in the last post, my practices have been a little hit and miss lately as I wade through another round of unwinding and not sleeping.  The on and off of it is giving me a chance to observe the doing and not doing and the way I feel about both.

Some years ago I realized I often sabotaged my progress by not doing my practices.  I’d start one up or get back to an old friend and do it faithfully for a few days or a week or two and then I’d start “forgetting” (helped along by often feeling too crappy to do anything).  More and more days would pass between practices until I’d finally realize I couldn’t remember the last time I meditated or performed a round of chi gung.

Once it sank in I asked myself some deep questions about why I sabotaged myself.  Then I set up a “watcher” to help me keep track of consistency and give me a nudge so I could put myself back on track.  Ever since I’ve been much better.  Not that I don’t miss days and even occasionally several in a row, but I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping track and at pushing myself to get back to it if I’ve let it go

It’s rare now for an entire week to go by without at least one session of whatever practice or set of practices I’m doing and most weeks I manage at least three or four days.  The great weeks I get in six (I always allow for a day off as I feel even the good stuff needs a break).  But I still have spells when it’s less rather than more.

There’s a kind of push pull at work here.  At the moment it’s the chanting and some movement practices that feel so good they constantly pull me back on track.  But both things raise energy, open stuck places, and thereby set the stage for more unwinding.  Any time I practice 6-7 days a week during a week or two when I’m sleeping well and feeling good, the practices inevitably help to set off another round of unwinding.

While I want the unwinding to finish so you’d think I’d welcome each round, I’m pretty miserable when it goes crazy, especially from the lack of sleep it creates.  I’m regularly confronting the up and the down side of regular practice.  It works.  And in this case that’s both great and not so great…  I haven’t quite decided how many skips at this point arise from an unconscious dread of the down side…

A deep spiritual journey often has these up and down moments.  Sometimes the same practice contains elements of both the up and the down.  Sometimes a practice leads you into painful places or opens something that hurts for a while before it gets better.  I harp on this one a bit, but I run into so many people who don’t know this spiritual road curves into shadows and down into valleys of dark nights as well as giving you peace and balance and higher consciousness, an occasional reminder seems good 🙂

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Levels of opening

Three monks chanting in Lhasa, 1993

Three monks chanting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been over a month now that I’ve been regularly chanting.  First time in quite a while I’ve had a regular chanting or meditation practice.  I’ve done a bunch of those 21 day meditations in recent years and I’ve done a couple of 40 day practices, but it’s been years since such a practice has stuck.

A lot has changed in my body since the days when meditation was a daily practice.  In fact, some of the change is due to the movement practices I’ve done to balance energy and open flow instead of meditating.

One of the blessings of the long-term sorting out of my muscles and their steely impersonation of body armor has been that as they open, I experience many things about practices differently and learn nuances I’m not sure I’d have noted without the change.

Since my appointment with Hanna, the muscles have been unwinding and the usual sleep deprivation and headaches have ensued, which has led to missing days of chanting here and there and occasionally two in a row.  I’ve changed the chants since I first started, beginning each time with the lovingkindness chant and then singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.

The Gayatri, among other important impacts, opens the heart.  Om Shanti Om is chanted for peace and I find it opens my heart.  The lovingkindness chant also brings me into a big heart space.  Chanting these every day helped immeasurably to calm my distress in the wake of the election.  At first, if I missed a day I went right back to feeling panicky, then as soon as I chanted again, calm returned.

After a couple of weeks the peace settled in and I could miss a day without any big change.  When sleep deprivation, headaches and missing days of chanting hit all at once, I noted that I could hold the peace through one missed day but a second tipped me back into unease and anxiety.  I’ve also been learning anxiety is often a side effect of sleep deprivation for me, not as intense as the “oh no that thing can’t be president” panic, but noticeable.  And it too is soothed away by chanting.

While I chant I feel so much more energy moving through me than I’ve ever felt from the same practices before.  Channels and pathways opened as the muscles released and in so many areas I can now feel energy flowing through.  I feel the power of the chanting more than ever.  I feel it changing me.

Between the chanting and the releases Hanna helped to achieve it’s been a time of realizations and movement forward.  After a long time of receiving “wait” messages, I’ve heard the time to wait is ending.

In the meantime I love the slow awakening of feeling and the subtle ways in which my practices change as I grow.  I’m ever more aware of how much tight muscles stop the flow and reduce how much I feel when I do yoga or meditate or chant or …  All the hard work…  so worth it!

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