For the first seven days of January, Deva Premal and Miten offered seven days of doing the 108 round version of Gayatri. They’ve had a weekly Gayatri on FB and later via a paid app since last spring — reaching out in Covid lockdown — and I’d loved those so much I jumped at the chance.
When I did a regular chanting practice a shorter version of the Gayatri was one of the three I chanted daily but I’d not done the 108 round version more than sporadically and it’s just been occasional on their weekly practice. I always found it powerful but the energy of doing it every day was quite amazing. There are usually 2-2.5 thousand people participating and I’ve been amazed at how well I can tap into the larger energy of the group. Powerful.
Besides loving the chant for myself, I love the association with heart and peace. They were doing the 7 days as an uplift to energy as the year began and that felt incredibly important to me, especially with all that’s been going on both in the world and in the U.S. As I’ve teetered between rage and holding a calm space, I’ve kept feeling a need to lift my energy, try to hold a higher space, etc.
It was quite amazing to sing the chant daily. Especially for the first few days I could really feel the build of energy in me. Didn’t stop me from the moments of rage, but left me feeling generally more energized and uplifted, easier to tap back into the heart space. Also feeling like my nadis were not just all being energized but as if they were being rearranged or reconfigured as well.* By the final few days I think I’d adjusted a little bit more to that huge influx of energy.
The worldwide sangha they’re forming is lovely and I highly recommend participation. I’m about to sign on with the app so I can participate in the larger array of activities they’re hosting, including daily meditations, access to a library of mantras, participation in sangha, Q&A with Deva and Miten, etc. They still offer the Gayatri free via Facebook and YouTube once a month. Click through on picture above to page where events are noted.
We so need to lift the world’s vibration now. As I’ve mentioned many times, the higher vibration of few can raise the vibrations for many more and we need to lift the multitudes who are caught at the anger level on up to the next level, where self examination and greater openness begins. If Gayatri is not for you, please find the meditation or practice that suits you and commit to it and/or if you can find a practice group or sangha with which to join energies on line, please practice with such a group.
* When chanting is 108 rounds, it’s one for each of the 108 nadis, or energy channels, which aligns you with the universe or creation.
This post is for Linda’s Litebeing Chronicles Change Challenge on the litebeing chronicles blog: How have you changed internally? Can you share some new thoughts, ideas, projects, attitudes that have sprung up as a result of your evolution? This challenge is about describing how you have integrated the lessons from this “unprecedented time” and how you have seen your unique transformation unfold.
This is kind of an odd challenge for me to participate in because for me the pandemic has mostly been like a pesky fly in the background, buzzing around and annoying, but not actually impacting my life all that much. Some external habits have changed but otherwise my life has been so much more impacted by personal events that Covid just doesn’t seem like a big factor. Any inner realizations have arisen more because of the earth-shaking issues among loved ones than anything to do with the pandemic.
In January my then-94-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. The ensuing couple of months were an exhausting round of visits to hospital, skilled nursing home, then hospital again, and back to snh while trying to keep the house up and having to re-organize several rooms in order to create pathways for a walker to get through. Sitting in a poorly designed chair at one of the hospitals threw a pattern already in my hip out massively which left me doing all this in agonizing pain.
Toward the end of her skilled nursing stay news of Covid began to break. I was so busy getting the house ready I barely paid attention. About a week after she came home we were in lockdown. The next several months involved a massive learning curve about grocery shopping when supplies were low, how to stock a pantry for a couple months’ worth of food, and making easier meals than my normal complicated menus. That was a change but I can’t say I feel it transformed me internally.
For many people staying home and being isolated has been a huge change. As a somewhat introverted only child, my life has always involved a certain amount of isolation and being self-sufficient with alone time. But I’ve been coping with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue for 30 years and that added a whole new layer of staying home and leading a very solitary life. So for me Covid didn’t change a lot on that score — in fact the rise of meetings and activities via Zoom Skype etc. has allowed me to participate more than I have in years.
I miss eating in restaurants, but my mother has long been my main restaurant companion and she still isn’t really in shape to make an outing like that, so I’d be doing carry out anyway; for me the pandemic doesn’t loom as a reason I can’t do it.
During the spring I realized my Dad, who turned 95 in May and lived almost 900 miles away, was not in good shape and started trying to figure out how I could get my mother taken care of and pay for that plus a plane ticket. Before I could work it out, I received a call that Dad had fallen and been taken to the hospital. He wasn’t hurt in the fall, but it turned out he was in such bad shape he couldn’t walk any more, then they found cancer. In three days he was moved to hospice care and five days later he died.
Covid impacted all this in that even if I’d been able to arrange for Mom’s care and get down there fast enough (which it turned out wouldn’t have been possible), neither the hospital nor the nursing home would let me in to see him. So we had phone calls every day and a couple of Zoom contacts, then I talked to him and sang via phone after he could no longer speak…. But my Dad died alone.
Had to have a Zoom service and the Marines wound up doing the flag presentation portion in my front yard with masks on. The format was born of Covid, but the service was lovely and a bunch of family and friends who live in other states and would not have been able to get here under any circumstances were able to “attend”.
Since I first left for college my Dad called me every week and for many years it has been every Saturday at 2 p.m I’m still struggling some Saturdays to keep myself from grabbing the phone a little before 2 and getting ready to hear from him. In recent years I called him other times to check up but the only sacrosanct time was Saturday and it’s going to be a while before I get used to the silence at 2.
Many things about the pandemic have slowed down and interfered with the process of settling my Dad’s estate but really the biggest hurdle has been the high level of incompetence of so many people I’ve had to deal with. For instance, the VA misfiled the paperwork on his life insurance not once but twice, causing a month delay and another insurance company wrote the address down wrong and sent forms to the wrong address, causing a month lost on that one too. Multiply that by pretty much every bank (why transfer some money on the first call when you could make 12 before someone does it??), insurance company or service provider and you have an idea of how long and slow every process has been.
In the fall my dear friend, Pat, who beat stage 4 throat cancer a year or so ago, started having health issues and found she needed to have a clip put on a valve in her heart. The procedure went okay and when I spoke to her after she was upbeat and looking forward to getting back to her healing work. Then she started falling and feeling badly and was taken to the hospital where it turned out the clip they put on her heart had sepsis on it and she’d had sepsis for weeks. She died the day after Thanksgiving. My Mom loved her too and pretty much every day one of us says, “I can’t believe Pat’s gone…”
So my life has been so hard hit by dramas and traumas related to people near and dear to me, the pandemic is just a pesky problem in the background. Yes, I get tired of the hassle grocery shopping has become. Yes, I spend small amounts of time considering where I will go and when in order to avoid being in crowds. Other than a few carefully chosen groceries at certain times, I just don’t go out. I started curbside grocery pickups long before Covid hit — other than doing it more, it isn’t a change. Yes, occasionally I miss my rare coffee or lunch meetings with friends but they didn’t happen often enough before Covid for it to make a big hole in my present. And frankly, handling all the Mom care, plus the extra time it takes to grocery shop, and the endless paperwork to do with Dad’s estate have kept me so busy I don’t have the energy to wish for more activities.
The main internal noticing for me involves deepening insights I’ve already had. Formerly neurotic and overdramatic, I’ve stopped here and there to note with surprise how calmly I’ve handled this year. Having started meditating in 1984 and practicing yoga in 1986, followed by many years of metaphysical/spiritual workshops, doing all sorts of inner/shadow work, etc. I’ve been much more calm for a long time. But I don’t think any year since I started has challenged my equanimity as much as this year, so I’m pleased to see how well all the years of practice serve even in traumatic times.
Through all the ups and downs I’ve managed to keep yoga practice regular. Meditation has been a little more hit or miss but I manage pretty often and I’m in love with Steve Nobel’s meditations on YouTube, so I’m drawn to do one pretty often. I also manage to slip a yoga nidra in here and there. And thanks to Covid, Deva Premal and Miten for quite a while had a free Gayatri meditation every Saturday on FB which became an oasis of big, loving energy. Practice always helps maintain the calm.
Through years and years of transformative work I constantly had my finger on the pulse of inner change and change happened all the time. But in this big year of political and medical upheaval in the wide world and personal upheaval in mine, I can’t say I see a big inner shift. I see the benefits of all the shifting that came before and I am so grateful for all the years of inner work and all the hours of practice.
As mentioned off and on for a while, I’m struggling with anger over so man things that are going on. Periodically I realize I’m back screaming at certain “leaders” every time their faces appear, grinding my teeth as I scan social media and follow links to read more, and, a couple of weeks ago when a station I was watching moved from old shows to airing some kind of evangelical church service, I found myself angrily making up words to the hymn they started with and singing: “My Jesus hates you, and we kill, kill, kill…”
Being self-aware enough to see this is DEFINITELY in conflict with my beliefs about holding a space of love, peace and compassion, I keep circling back to questioning the source of the anger and how to shift it. And one puzzle I constantly come back to, is how to be “righteously” angry and yet hold that space.
Many spiritual leaders and writers feel there is such a thing as righteous anger and that, when great wrongs are being committed, we must all feel that anger and do something toward righting the wrong. None seem to address how such anger impacts the energy of the web nor do they seem to offer much advice about how to feel that angry and still find the love and compassion with which to “do something” but do it with nonviolence.
I have long been unconvinced that “righteous” anger is any different, energetically speaking, than any other. It worries me when I react with anger because I can feel how it takes hold and shoves the loving, peaceful aspect of me out of function. And since I believe the energy space each of us holds adds up to the totality of energy that is All That Is, every time one of us is angry instead of loving, our energetic contribution to the web is the energy of anger.
Most of the spiritual leaders who say it’s fine to be outraged over injustice, etc. but to be nonviolent in what you do about it, seem remarkably silent on the question of how to move from the angry place of the one to the compassionate place of the other. I’d guess the majority of people aren’t well equipped to transition on a dime from place to the other.
I see 3 main arenas we as individuals can work on to help us in recognizing the wrongs that need to be righted but stay compassionate and develop non violent solutions:
Ferreting out repressed anger (or other deeply held negative emotions). I’ve noted the above video before and I really like how deeply it works on transforming anger but there are many other methods, including “process” work like Fischer-Hoffman, the Diamond Heart approach, transpersonal psychology, etc. Just find the mode that works for you.
Being able to stay present in the moment is really important. If you can’t even stay conscious enough to realize anger has grabbed you and it’s time to shift away, how you can move into non violent responses? I include more than just sitting vipassana; chanting (sung or spoken), movement practices like yoga or qi gong, and some guided meditations like yoga nidra are all ways that people of different temperaments can tune into the present.
Long ago I read some spiritual leader saying the key to coping with emotions and events coming at you is to allow them to pass through you without affecting. One of many teachings that’s easier said than done. I think it takes a lot of practice and dedication to reach a place where you don’t even have to think about staying in the space of lovingkindness and compassion and calm.
There are many ways to work on holding that space. One factor is how you “feed” yourself in your life. Are you doing practices like metta or singing chats or meditating (whatever form) regularly? Are you reading books like Tara Brach’s
I mentioned a while back that I’ve been struggling with the division and anger and finding myself angry much more often. I keep hauling myself back to a place of equanimity and then suddenly there I am, screaming f**k you at a McConnell ad (if you live elsewhere, try to imagine being inundated with an ad in which he pretends the help for regular people in the stimulus package was spearheaded entirely by him…) or screaming and throwing things at the sight of the pumpkinhead.
I always know if I’m that angry, something in me is being triggered. I also am figuring out I’m just enough of an empath that the huge amount of anger in the air affects me strongly as well. So I’ve been looking inward and working on clearing those things in me which contribute. Two of Steve Nobel’s recent meditations have been really helping me bring some deep personal, ancestral and collective anger buried in me to the surface and also to release a lot of fear– especially that which others’ fear is engendering.
The one time I managed to get an appointment with Hanna for my hip issues, she began talking about this “Transforming Anger” meditation while working on one of the patterns and I understood she was feeling suppressed anger there. One of the times I did the meditation some of the stuck stuff in there released and, though it didn’t heal it all, it’s never been as bad since.
I’ve been alternating that one with another for releasing fear. Wasn’t sure I needed it at first, but I know there’s a lot of fear in the air right now, so thought I’d try it and realized there’s still some old fear from family stuff and some ancestral fear deep in there. Also that the energy of huge amounts of fear running through our society about the virus, the economy, etc. has permeated some layers of my being even though I don’t consciously share them.
I’ve had a very strong “hit” more than once that it’s really important for me right now to do each of these once or twice a week. Along with a feeling this healing isn’t just for myself.
And for helping to raise my vibration and hold the space of love, I play this affirmation recording as I go to sleep both for naps and at night:
Soon I plan to add my old fave lovingkindness/Gayatri mantra chanting practice.
How about all of you? What are you doing to hold the space of peace and compassion? If you have a great meditation or other practice that’s on line, please throw in a link so others can try your faves.
Many in our society snort contemptuously upon hearing people are praying. They think it’s useless and consider it “doing nothing.” “You have to DO something,” they tell us. At this point in history we don’t have time to convert the disbelievers, they just need to have some constructive things to do [though I’ll plant the thought expressed by Charles Eisenstein in The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, that often our rush to “doing” is ill-informed and at best maintains the status quo and at worst actually winds up causing harm]. See previous post on whether praying IS something.
A number of these People Power posts have explored the importance of “going local”. For that we need increasing numbers of people on the ground who are forming environmental justice groups, creating small-scale local manufacturing, growing organic healthy produce and finding ways to market it, building co-ops for banking, local businesses, health services, etc.
As long as a relatively small number of global corporations hold most of the wealth and mind-boggling amounts of power, environmental and humanitarian crises will become ever more rampant. To save the planet and to help ALL people to thrive we have to get out from under their control.
Two crucial steps are required to accomplish this. (1) Quit buying their stuff. Without profits we provide them, their power disappears. You vote with every dollar you spend. Pay attention to how you’re voting. (2) Since we will still need food, clothing, etc. we need local enterprises to provide us with goods and services and also to replace the jobs that will be lost as big corporations fail.
In Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, I think several branches apply here: Right Livelihood, Right Intent, and Right Action. The idea is that we do no harm and try to benefit others in everything we do. Obeying Right Livelihood means making money by only working for or investing in places that are also obeying the rules of Right Action, etc. Obeying Right Action means you make decisions about buying, selling, and what to do in life based on doing no harm and whenever you can helping others and/or the world. Right Intent means coming from a place of compassion and heartfulness in every step you take.
To me, there is no way to be in alignment with these paths while working for, investing in, or purchasing from major corporations that harm the environment, treat workers badly, produce harmful items, etc. A major path of doing therefore involves boycotting those companies and helping to create alternative means of employment and production that operate to bring health, thriving, and sustainability to all.
Another reminder of some new thinking on economics — the idea of a “Thrive Economy” instead of a Growth one, which I think will wind up reflecting the thought that much more needs to be local:
I’ve really been contemplating this and just in my own life I can see it’s very hard to boycott until local alternatives are more prevalent. I buy a lot from Amazon. I’d rather not do business with it. But most of what I buy is only available to me now in other equally yucky corporations. And to buy from those places I have to drive (environmentally bad as well) to parts of town I loathe, cope with the worst traffic areas, and wander around in overly big stores filled with largely unhappy people. Right now, Amazon’s free delivery wins.
I shop a fair amount at our local food co-op and also Trader Joe’s, which so far I consider to be a good company, and I need to do more with the local farmer’s market. But many other things I buy are simply not available as local goods. Much activity is needed to create viable manufacturing and marketplaces in local areas.
Environmentally speaking there are many actions do-ers can take. I keep touting Project Drawdown — there are many innovations that individuals or neighborhood groups could adopt and much inspiration for figuring out new ways to help. If that’s your main interest, plenty of things to do, starting with QUIT BUYING FROM GLOBAL CORPORATIONS.
For do-ers there are also contributions in the land of government and elections but that is for the third post in this concluding (or maybe not 🙂 ) series.
In recent months I’ve watched my own anger erupting over politics which has led to a lot of contemplating, especially what’s best for the path of People Power for which I’m advocating here. That exploration along with dialing back my personal anger with chanting has led me to a stronger conviction than ever that the lovingkindness path of “be-ers” is the key to shifting the world.
I see be-ers as those of us who believe being is as important as doing, who meditate, pray, vision, chant, etc. and understand the vibration, or energy, of those activities changes the world.
The above chart from David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force has been a touchstone point to which I often return. His studies on higher vibrations and their powerful impact on large numbers of other people resonated to my core and aligned with how I felt–and continue to feel–the world worked.
Each of us has our own vibrational level as well as being part of the whole and that individual level impacts the totality. If I am carrying a lot of anger and negativity, I add those things to the web of life. If I am heartful and loving, I add those to the web.
As millions of us around the globe have landed on various spiritual paths in the last 40 years, we have been raising the vibration for the world. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started a group in Fairfield that has been meditating for piece and holding a powerful vibration for many years and there are many other such groups around the world. Such groups create powerful vortexes of energy.that counterbalance of lot of lower energy.
I also believe that when two or more gather together and join energy in the same purpose the impact of that energy grows exponentially. It’s why such groups of high vibrating participants are so important. When I’ve felt the power of groups resonating in compassion and love… it’s amazing.
In this time of transition there are thus two important offerings us “be-ers” can make: (1) clear lower energies from our individual selves as we work on also raising our own vibrations; and (2) put together a group and regularly meet to chant or pray or meditate together for peace. Create a ritual, make a celebration, or do something as simple as doing metta practice together.
Most of the “doers’ think such activities are nothing, add nothing, etc. They’re wrong. And now isn’t the moment to waste time trying to convince them, it’s just time to “be”. To ignore them and put our all into “being compassion” and radiating love. The moment to “be the change we wish to see” has arrived.
Part of one of this week’s assignments in the Harmony and Co-Humanity class I’m taking was to watch this video. Meghan grew up in a right wing church that basically operated as a hate group, and did a complete 180 turn.
Her story is moving and her advice on bridging divides with considered dialogue are worth watching. Only 15 minutes:
A little over a week ago I started participating in an on line class called “Co-Human Harmony“. The idea is to work on understanding and tools to help create bridges in a divisive society or situation. I signed up because I think it’s so important right now and because I realize I even have a problem quite often about joining groups who are working for peace or justice (i.e. theoretically same view as mine) because I frame these issues so differently.
I’m loving the class but also struggling for the same reasons. The quite valid point of the class is to learn tools for bridging divides where people are, which is generally not in a place of understanding or accepting non-duality. And I’m realizing I’ve moved so far along the path of looking at everything from a spiritual/metaphysical viewpoint, I’m having trouble answering some of the course questions within a more “practical” framework.
I believe so thoroughly we’re all divine beings who are made of energy which is part of one unified field. And I am so used to using tools like (1) moving into heart energy and shifting a room with it or (2) chanting lovingkindness for someone with whom I’m at odds or (3) doing a meditation that balances energy between me and another person before we actually interact, that I think in those terms for bridges and healing rifts.
The teacher has pointed out it’s fine to think in those terms (and has encouraged me to continue) but for these situations we’re addressing how to be in a room with, say, a Neo-Nazi, and find a way to connect as humans so we can talk. And I’m guessing as we move from studying the theoretical framework to more practical applications it may become easier to just use and apply new concepts. But right now I’m floundering in attempts to talk about my understanding of various passages, videos, etc. on which we’re asked to comment without talking about energy and chakras and stuff.
I’m really seeing how far down this spiritual path I’ve gotten. I know, I know, seems goofy after this many years for this to be a new thought. But I’ve wound up mostly hanging around with other spiritual seekers who’ve been at it for years and though I know intellectually that most people don’t think this way, I’m rarely confronted in person with how totally different the drumbeat to which I march really is.
Since most of the folks who regularly read and participate here lead deeply spiritual lives I’m very interested and curious to hear your thoughts and stories about participating as a spiritually-enmeshed person in secular affairs. Comments are welcome but I’d be even more excited to see some of you write posts about living spiritually in a secular world.
BTW, I’ll still be continuing the People Power series but as I work through this class I’ll likely switch back and forth in topics.
In my last post I explored the puzzling contradictions of the right wing evangelical movement. It’s easy for liberals and leftists and spiritual types who pursue love and peace to shake their fists in fury and despise the hatefulness and hypocrisy rampant in the white nationalist propensities of so many folks who call themselves Christians.
Except fist shaking and fury are, you know, hateful too. I’m guilty of it and up to a point I see it as a good thing to initially feel angry when people lack humanity and are prepared to sacrifice the lives of every group they don’t like.
But at some point it seems to me true compassion requires a step back and the application of humanitarian instincts even to those who seem to have no compassion of their own. Brotherly love isn’t just for those with whom it’s easy to empathize. At its heart it requires the ability to dig deep and find love for everyone, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.
I see the hatefulness of the right wing as arising from huge fear. It would be tempting to offer my theories as to why they’re so afraid (and trust me, I have some), but I also feel like Right Listening requires us to engage in a conversation with them that helps them to dig deep and offer their own truth about fear or to tell us it’s something else.
And then to ask them what would help to assuage the fear. Discuss programs and possibilities and really hear their input instead of the usual pattern of designing a program from outside and imposing it on people without finding out what they want.
At this point, like many I know, I’d pretty much vote for anybody not the guy we’ve got now, but I wish we’d see some of the liberals putting some attention on healing our great divide by turning some compassion toward the “other side”.
A another blogger — also a friend — asked me recently to post something about being peace. I’ve been re-reading old posts and giving it some thought ever since, without quite landing on what I’d like to write.
In the meantime I felt drawn to yet another Steve Nobel meditation and I think it will make a nice opener to what I’m thinking may be a series of posts reflecting on peace.
This one, “The Sun Goddess Amaterasu Transmission. Embracing A Higher Flow of Pure Grace” is almost entirely about filling with grace and love and light from the Divine Feminine and I found it amazing. If enough of us start resonating with this level of grace and love most or all of the time the world will shift…
In the aftermath of Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides I’m seeing a spate of articles and info pieces on suicide prevention. The thing that always strikes me when I see analyses of not only suicide but also opiate abuse, addictions or other types of “dis-ease” of any sort, is that no one wants to talk about what I think is the heart of the matter.
In the “first world” we have cut ourselves off from nature, from our essential divinity and thereby from connection to our own souls. Spiritual types talk about it sometimes but the “experts” in these fields talk about these issues as problems with reasoned solutions, instead of ever acknowledging how broken we are by our basic culture.
Some 30 years ago, when I realized how much alcoholism there is on my family tree (not in my immediate family but at the level of aunts and uncles and great grands of various levels… rampant) I attended a few al anon meetings to explore whether I might have been affected.
At the time, immersed in examining how we create reality, I was horrified at the constant repetition of negative affirmations throughout the 12-step programs. “I am a drunk.” “I am a liar”. “I am powerless…” But even more, I was perturbed by the lack of acknowledging soul and our ability to tap into our own spirit and be transformed.
Over the years, as I have explored ever more deeply into spirit, I have also noted how wounded so many in our society seem to be because of being cut off from nature and its cycles and thus from their own connection to All That Is. I’ve kept waiting for the “experts” to understand how central that disconnect is to so many of our so-called diseases. I see the same issues deep within a lot of mental health problems.
So many solutions seem to just side-step the real issue; even to obscure the real issue by providing distractions from ever looking into the true heart of the matter. Our hearts need healing. Our souls need healing. And they don’t heal without a long tough journey through the stuff we don’t want to see.
I’m not sure how we nudge that change into being. But always I come back to knowing we all vibrate in the same web of being. Every time one of us heals something in our own hearts we add to the healing of all. Be the love. Be the peace. Heal your own heart.
I know, long time since you’ve seen a Journey 2 Peace post. Peace, love and compassion have been on my mind lately — or always? — and I’m finally seeing more essays in which people are calling for the power of love as the force we need to change, so I felt moved to return to J2P.
To me there are two parts to creating a peaceful, loving heart:
clear away any negatives, lower energies, issues from your being
fill yourself with love, raise your energy vibration
I’ve been working at both the clearing and the filling/raising for years. Recently I’ve been a bit more interested in the second part than the first, but last year after being introduced to Steve Nobel’s meditations, I fell in love and in part because they address both.
For nearly a year now I’ve been trying out various of his meditations, repeating some numerous times and always intrigued to try another new one. One of the things I really love about them is that virtually every one starts with some amount of clearing old energies. Some spend quite a bit of the meditation just on clearing. Some clear first and then work on raising energy or filling with love, etc. Some mainly balance chakras but do some negativity and lower energy clearing as part of working on each one.
All of them leave me feeling energized and elevated. Some of them rock me for days as the clearing and filling work their way through.
The latest one I’ve fallen in love with is The Archangel Chamuel Transmission: Becoming a Lighthouse of Love and Healing Light. Everything I aim for all in one meditation.
In recent months I’ve read a lot of articles about White Privilege, schooling me in the many ways I automatically am privileged because of the color of my skin. I kind of knew that, but it has been chilling to read whole collections detailing the experience of being a person of color in America.
One thing I kept noticing, though. in articles by women: some of the incidents they described left me frowning and thinking, “that happens to me too. It didn’t happen because you’re Black, it happened because you’re a woman.” Which is not to say they didn’t also describe plenty of examples stemming entirely from racism, but something really struck me about the way issues that might really be about gender seemed to be categorized as issues of race.
While white men remain at the top of the heap in terms of privilege and white women fare better than women of color, when it comes to gender rather than race, men of every color seem to do better on pay scales and advancement than women of any color (it’s a little hard to calculate because most studies break it down by the women’s races but not, say, white women compared to black men). Pondering that, I began wondering how much more power the women’s movement would have if ALL women banded together to demand gender equality as the biggest issue they endorse.
This brought me back to one of the notions I’ve pondered for years, relating to how splintered the movements for rights in general are. From women to LGBT to Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. the quest for rights is divided up into pockets of people agitating for the same rights but for specific groups. And I keep thinking, “what if we all joined together to be FOR human rights?”
How much power could we wield, how much change could we bring if all these groups who seek justice and equality joined together and sought them for all? Just thinkin’…. and wonderin’… and dreamin’
With increasing certainty I’m seeing how deeply most of us are captured by a set of widely-held beliefs and how hard it is to step outside the frame to see any other world view as true. I’m feeling strongly now is the time to open to other truths and to be willing to hold our ground while standing outside the normal thinking.
Our perceptions of how violent the world is, how high the chances of being a crime victim, our sense of terrorism in the world and more are shaped by the stories the media and our leaders have perpetuated. It’s ingrained in us that the world operates according to these accepted stories but if you let yourself open to other stories you will see other truths exist and are ignored.
I’ve previously written about my personal experience with studying crime statistics in graduate school. Details are in the previous post so for now let’s just say the statistics on probability of victimhood have remained the same for decades — stretching back to at least early 20th century USA; no more chance in the 60’s or 70’s or now of being the victim of any of the major crimes* than in the 30’s or 40’s. You know, back when people didn’t lock their doors and weren’t afraid of crime.
I tell people about this often and I see them startle and then brush it off and return to the now-ingrained perception that crime is getting worse all the time. Just a small shift from reporting probabilities to reporting gross numbers (which of course go up as the population grows) combined with the rise of a national media and a fascination for bad news changed our perception from one of safety to one of fear. Perception of truth changed. What was actually happening changed not at all.
I come back to this often since I know the data so well and it has been a touchstone for me in awareness of how our beliefs can be shaped by which facts those in power choose to present. I’m not saying journalists are evil manipulators. I think they’re immersed in the same belief system, so what they see is shaped by the same forces and then the folks they work for are encouraging the parade of horror stories because it sells better. And law enforcement has every reason to encourage the mis-perception because it garners them bigger budgets.
Armed with that knowledge and greatly helped by the Internet I’ve been able to see the same thing happens on many fronts. Take, for instance, the widespread hysteria over terrorism. Check out the graph below and note the probability of being a victim of a terrorist attack.
Graphically displayed you can see the widespread fear of being a victim of terrorist violence is so far out of proportion to the likelihood as to be ludicrous.
People should be feeling terrified of heart disease and dieting and exercising to save themselves. But the media doesn’t fan the flames of fear about heart disease, they prefer the giant drama of terrorist attacks. [For more info on these probabilities, see this article.] It’s time for us to stop being mesmerized by false perceptions fostered by the media and government and really see what merits our fears and what is unworthy of our awareness.
If you turn your attention in the other direction and actively look for stories of nonviolence, you will see there are groups and individuals creating nonviolent movements and performing nonviolent acts all around the world. It just doesn’t make the mainstream news.
This video in which Julia Bacha discusses the price of focusing on violence instead of nonviolence is well worth the ten or so minutes it takes to watch.
When I started searching for positive news to share every day (see post) I started turning off the hypnotic suggestions winding constantly through my brain and stepping into a new sense of the world. I don’t have to sit around envisioning an imaginary world full of good people doing good things in some mystical future. I see a world full of good people doing good things right here, right now.
Many things came together for me at once. The sorry result of the U.S. election led me to institute lovingkindness practice. A sense in my personal journey that it was time to stop eradicating issues and start creating the next phase led to positive guided meditations, etc. Distress over the negative views on FB led to searching every day for good news. After some months I realized the persistent change of my focus awakened a new, deep-seated view of the propensity for goodness being enacted every day in all parts of the world.
As I pointed out in another post, the constant doom and gloom about the environment can be seen from an uplifting view — backed by a great deal of science — that changes are already happening which, if current progress continues, will reverse global warming.
The web now allows us (see links at bottom) to see every-day acts of kindness, movements to help the environment, to create peace, etc.** Mainstream media choose to focus on 5% of what’s happening and we the people encourage them by buying the parade of horrors over the good news.
We can make the choice to put our attention on the 95% who are doing good or are at least benign. We can stop supporting the parade of horrors. It’s up to us to create the change. It’s time to snap out of the hypnotic fascination with mainstream news and views and open our eyes to other truths.
The problem is I’m also reading about changing people’s minds and have read many research articles informing me it’s not so easy. Once people have made up their minds about a belief — regardless of it’s truth — they really don’t want to change it. Ra of Rarasaur put up the cutest and most fun version of this info, a cartoon/info post on The Oatmeal. The upshot is I’m all fired up about changing perspective and stepping outside the currently accepted assumptions about the state of the world and I don’t know what to do to help.
I know most of my readers are already here on this. I’m a little bit hoping for some help in spreading the word. But even more I”m hoping for ideas of what we who are awake can do to help change enough peoples’ perception to create a new paradigm. For supporting one another in stepping outside the depressing views so widely held and holding firm in the stance that other, more powerful, truths are out there and growing stronger. If the majority actually paid attention to this alternate reality, the world would change.
*Unless you’re a black or brown male between the ages of 15 and 25 and living in an inner city. Those chances of being murdered are way up.
The plan when you last heard from me was to write a J2P post exploring the current thrall of the media and healing and that’s still coming but I’ve been sidetracking into explorations of the many movements going on these days. I’m paying a lot of attention to the trend in many groups and among democrats, to define themselves by what they’re against and to speak constantly in terms of battles, fights, resistance, etc.
Some of these groups even talk about nonviolence while throwing out these violent words and I always wonder if they know ANYTHING about the traditions from which the notion of nonviolence came. Americans, in particular, seem to believe nonviolence refers only to actions. But in Hinduism and Buddhism, nonviolence refers to every level, including speech and thoughts.
When I receive notifications from “peace” groups and groups working for change that are filled with battle language and nasty slurs against the opposition, I feel my muscles tighten and my energy dim. Their words of violence are painful to me and I’m convinced, whether everyone feels it as acutely as I do or not, such words hurt everyone who hears them.
I’m not saying we need to be in denial about what’s happening, nor am I saying we can’t get angry. But the anger is only useful if we then mindfully turn it to compassion and doing something constructive. Something that furthers progress on what we’re FOR.
There are some brilliant ideas starting to float around out there for ways to address what’s happening without violence. I would like to see a combo of my two favorites, which are: (1) setting up a fundraiser wherever the alt-right/neonazis are planning to march and taking donations based on either the number who show up or the distance they march and giving the money to a group that works against neo nazis or to the NAACP or SPLC or ACLU, etc. and (2) send tons of people dressed as clowns and armed with white flour and white flowers to throw every time the nazis yell “white power”.
Why not do both??? Or think outside the box some more and think of something even more brilliant??? (BTW scroll on down from the two videos for some links to great info on nonviolent activism.