Gratitude, blessings and change afoot

of light and shadow

of light and shadow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m seeing reason for hope in the turmoil since the U.S. election.  And I’m seeing many ways in which it is facilitating healing in my life.

I started a chanting practice within a day or two after the election to replace the fear with love and compassion.  Although I’ve loved and used the lovingkindness chant for something like 20 years, I generally just say it to myself a few times a day and occasionally do a week of practice when something comes up that warrants it.

Three months in now, I’m finding a daily dose of metta combined with the heart-opening Gayatra Mantra and Om Shanti Shanti chants is pushing buttons, shifting energy, bringing things to the surface and leading me into some healing work I don’t know that I’d have done without the impetus of current events.

And I started being led to teachings and materials that address issues about self love I have not resolved.  I’ve been amused to note as well, many of the materials bring me back to the New Age type teachings with which I began this journey 30+ years ago.

First I signed up for a Vow to Love, a series of meditations on bringing love into self and the world by fellow blogger Karen Chrappa and have been very slowly working my way through them.  Then I got a head’s up about a new Louise Hay book, Life Loves You.

life-loves-you

After failing to get a free version to show up I found the e-book for $1.99 and started reading and doing the mirror work.  I’ve known a bit about her mirror work for 30 years but hadn’t ever done any.  Mirror work has been tapping me on the shoulder for about a year now and this felt like the moment to dive in.

abundance-factor

I also found a link to “The Abundance Factor” movie which, for a couple more days is free to watch here (not embedding as I assume it will disappear when the free bit is up), which I found to be a much better version of the Secret.  I particularly like that it very carefully and repeatedly acknowledges abundance as more than just material things.

A few other messages here and there have chimed in.  Together these little journeys have pointed up the unresolved issues about self-love and self-worth still dwelling in me.  It’s not that I haven’t worked on self love issues or improved over the years but I can see now there’s a core place of shame and fear I’ve never touched in spite of massive digging around in my psyche and multiple insights, practices and breakthroughs.

There are a lot of posts and essays floating around discussing the “shadow” represented by the Republican Administration.  I agree this rise of conservative and sometimes nasty values represents shadow stuff that needs to be cleared,  but I also feel liberals and progressives have a lot of uncleared shadow stuff that’s just as much represented in this rise of hatefulness as any shadows within the government.  And that includes me.

Liberals have long had a tendency to see the world in terms of battles and struggles and regularly use words of violence to describe their activities.  I first started being disturbed by the dark underbelly of activism in the 80’s.  I did a lot of work with public interest groups and noted with growing unease how readily my colleagues stepped up for faceless people in far away places and yet how snotty they could be with people in the same room.

An example that has always stuck with me was a boyfriend who worked zealously on abolishing the death penalty with absolute conviction that it is never right to kill someone.  When a CIA operative was killed in the Middle East, this same crusader against death grinned with delight and announced the guy deserved it.  “How,” I asked, “do you reconcile a belief it’s not okay to kill anyone with a belief that it was a good thing to kill that guy?”  He was LIVID.  We didn’t date too long after that 🙂

I find that sort of hypocrisy — the sort liberals like to point out in conservatives — disturbing.  I found the anger behind much of what they did troubling.  As I moved more and more onto a spiritual path I participated less and less in activism but grew more and more to believe the world needs peaceful activism, an activism conceived and carried out by loving hearts.

The only heart I can truly influence is mine.  So I’m grateful these uneasy times have led me to practices and explorations that are revealing shadow material and allowing me to acknowledge and release it.  The more of us who clear these shadows, the more the world will move toward peace.  My number one commitment is to release any remaining shadows in me.  I want to Be Peace not just talk about it.

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Check out my guest post on Me My Magnificent Self

Barbara Franken has asked for guest posts about compassion on her blog, Me My Magnificent Self, and today my post is featured.  I’m so pleased — hope you check it out.  And look at the bottom of the post for info on how to participate with your own post on compassion:

The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill… Author, Blogger and Peace wayshower who teaches us how essential it is to move in peace. Welcome dear Leigh to my NEW Guest Blogger/Author Feature, it is truly my pleasure to shine light on YOU now. IAM honoured to have you amongst my Divine friends here on WordPress, to read your…

via Guest Blogger/Author Feature… The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill — Me, My Magnificent Self

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Love is rising: where are you focused?

Nearly Full Moon over my back yard

Nearly Full Moon over my back yard

Being very mindful that energy flows where attention goes, I’ve been working at finding positive things on which to focus.  And I’m happy to report I’m finding a lot of cause for hope.  I was especially happy to see a report the other day that the Schumann Resonance has recorded the highest frequency ever as of January 31.

Considered to be “Earth’s Heartbeat” frequency, the Resonance has been linked to human brain activity/consciousness and a rise in this frequency has been correlated by some to a rise in human consciousness.  I’m seeing this recent spike as arising from the worldwide movement sparked by current events and leading to multitudes standing together in support and/or mediating and reflecting on peace and heartfulness.

I’m seeing stories about people cleaning hate graffiti off a New York subway car and a Synagogue in Victoria, Texas gave keys to the Muslims whose Mosque burned down so they can continue having services.  I’m seeing people supporting the protest at Standing Rock in numerous ways.  More and more stories of people standing up in support of their brothers and sisters of every race, creed and religion are showing up every day and my heart fills with joy at every one I see.

In each of these stories there is a choice of focus.  I could choose to dwell on the hate behind the anti-Semitic graffiti or the possibility the burning of the Mosque was arson or the corporate greed behind the pipeline.  Or I can choose to dwell on the lovingkindness of those who cleaned the graffiti, gave the keys to the Synagogue and who stand with the Native Americans at Standing Rock.  I choose the love.

Energy flows where attention goes.  If your attention is on the hate, you send energy to it which creates more.  If you focus on the love and compassion you send energy there and create more.  It is entirely your choice where you will focus and to which end you will send energy.

If you choose to focus all your attention on the haters, you’re as much a part of the problem as they are.  Choose the love.  It doesn’t mean you don’t notice what’s happening it’s that you change your focus to celebrating those who are doing the right thing instead of those who are doing wrong.

I see a global consciousness of oneness and the need to stand up for one another rising.  I see love growing bigger not only in the world, but as I continue to chant for lovingkindness and a heart filled with love (see post), I feel my being shifting into more and more into a space of love.

For the first time the Schumann Resonance reached 36.  I plan to do all I can to be part of taking it higher by continuing to focus on being peace and love.  Where are you going to put your attention?  Which do you want to feed, the love or the hate?

Addendum:  I love this video discussing Gandhi and his approach to changing the world by changing your self and the list of organizations bringing his spirit into the world:

Video from KarmaTube

For more on the Schumann Resonance:

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Part 3 Peace Begins with You: Mental Body

What the Bleep Do We Know!?

What the Bleep Do We Know!? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mental attitude has a huge impact on your life and what you draw into your life.  If you want to be an emissary of peace your thoughts need to be peaceful.  Most of us have a lot of negative tapes playing in our heads, beliefs and ideas planted in early childhood and running on endless loops in the background.  This piece of the series explores some of the things you can do to “change your mind”.

It is tough to break this down into separate parts because all our “parts” are so integrated, but I do think there are practices for each aspect of being and it helps to work on all levels.  Still, it’s been a struggle to separate this piece.

The mental body winds up ruled much of the time by unconscious issues and beliefs held in the emotional body, for instance, so it helps to dig into what lies beneath.  But that’s for the emotional body piece…

When I began this journey affirmations, visualizations and general positive thinking were front and center in the New Age movement and many of us thought we’d spout affirmations for a few months and our lives would be forever changed.  The choice to move in that direction probably did change our lives but we found it takes more and longer for most people.

While I’ve always had some degree of success with visualizing and/or affirming something and creating that reality, this has really been one of the toughest aspects of the journey for me — the “simple” act of changing my mind.  Oh, I thought I’d done it.  Become Miss Positivity.  I was 20 years down the road before I really “got” how many negative tapes looped through my head all day every day.

If you spend 10 or 20 minutes a day purposefully repeating some positive affirmations/statements and then the other 23 hours and 40 minutes running negative tapes, guess which wins?  When negative issues and beliefs are running the show from the unconscious, I think affirmations are kind of like dripping water onto a mountain and waiting for erosion to take it down…

By the time I realized how negative my thinking really was, I’d done a LOT of emotional release work.  Once I began concentrating on positive thinking I could see how much more impact it had than before all that clearing.

Some of the things I’ve used:

  1. I set up a “mindful” watcher to pay attention and alert me to negative tapes and their patterns.  When I realize a given tape is running a lot, I write a positive turnaround/affirmation and every time I catch the negative thought, I instantly repeat the turnaround multiple times.
  2. I created a long playlist of Dick Sutphen’s affirmations on Spotify and generally if I’m on the computer, it’s playing very softly in the background; soft enough to be almost subliminal rather than heard.  Sometimes 8, 10, 12 hours a day, affirmations about just about every subject you can imagine, speaking positive thoughts to my subconscious.
  3. Over the years I’ve put together a small collection of movies like Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life, What the Bleep, and The Secret and I try to watch one or another of those fairly often.
  4. YouTube has some good affirmations videos and I have a collection of affirmations recordings, so I often go to sleep with affirmations playing on my tablet.
  5. I love the Lovingkindness Chant and I say it as an affirmation.  I generally chant it for 10 minutes a day but I also just repeat it to myself off and on and I often go to sleep and/or wake up and say it to myself.   To me the chant covers every major area of life and in a way that invites the Universe to fulfill it in whatever way is best — that for me is the perfect affirmation:  I am filled with lovingkindness, I am well, I am peaceful and at ease, I am happy.  If you chant it enough to make all those things true for you, what more could you want?
  6. I re-read some of my old favorite books on metaphysics like Jack Kornfield’s Path with Heart or Shakti Gawain’s Living in the Light or I find a new one to love like Elizabeth Lesser’s Marrow.  Books that support my ever-more-positive world view.
  7. I hang around as much as I can with people who believe in positive thinking, to attend events that involve ceremony or chanting or a talk on “New Age/New Thought” ideas, and to stay away from negative thinking.   I’ve unfriended a person or two from Facebook and hidden others from my wall.
  8. I have a regular practice of singing Sanskrit chants.  These chants are basically affirmations and I like singing them in a language I don’t know.  I think our souls know all the ancient languages and singing in an unfamiliar language helps you to take in the message on other levels and to bypass your brain and its tendency to question and criticize.  The ancients designed them well to align chakras, open heart, impact the nadis (energy channels), etc. so they heal on many levels.

If anything inside you is clinging to some other belief, repeating affirmations may bring it to the surface.  I’ve been chanting regularly ever since the election and I’m both feeling positive effects and changes and suffering frequent bouts of major crabbiness — which tells me I’m bringing some anger issues to the surface.

I still have some negative thinking to work on, but by and large several years of concerted effort have shifted a lot of old negative patterns into positive patterns — and it’s clearly favorably impacting my health issues.

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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.

 

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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