Reading and thinking and letting go

I wrote a post a long time ago about wandering away from reading books on metaphysics some years before.  As I’ve been slowly reading through Sharon Salzberg’s wonderful new book,  Real Love:  The Art of Mindful Connection, savoring every word, I’ve been thinking about that old post and the stepping away.

I guess the first thing that occurred to me is this is the fourth time in less than a year that I’m posting about a book on metaphysics–two being about two of Elizabeth Lesser’s books, one about a Louise Hay tome–and this is the first time in many years I’ve read more than one such book in the space of three or four years.

In my early days “on the path” I read voraciously and the majority of my discretionary income was spent at Isis Rising, the metaphysical bookstore across the street from my apartment at the time.  From the mid-1980’s to the end of the 90’s I kept it up.  And then, I wandered away from reading much on the topic at all.

It was never really a decision to stop, but I realized at some point I already owned books with everything I needed to know.  More important, I realized one day I’d need to start living these principles and ideas if I wanted them to be effective and turned more toward practice than reading about practice.

When I took up yoga nidra 10 or 12 years ago I purposefully did the practice without doing any research or reading.  I let daily practice show me the effects of yoga nidra without needing to know the academic breakdown of how it works and what it does.  For someone who lived her first 40+ years from a place of mind and intellect, this represented a big shift.

Recently I’ve had a couple of sporadic debates going on with friends over whether you can think or will your way to mindfulness and/or higher consciousness.  After years of moving away from study and toward practice I am pretty well convinced you can’t just approach either from only a mental space.

Mulling all of this I realized that when I let go of the need to study I unconsciously also let go of control.  Now, does my mind still try to control a lot of stuff about this process?  Yup.  Probably always will.  But in moving toward the experience of doing rather than reading about, I stepped out of a mind space and into a space of letting the energy of practices and my intuition about practices lead me to healthier places and expanding consciousness.

With hindsight I can say that all that reading and willing and plotting and planning how to be more mindful or more spiritual was my mind/ego’s way of keeping some kind of control.  And to some degree it was also useful.  But the process of connecting with divinity or picking up on the flow of divine consciousness is, for me, one of letting go of control and surrendering to a higher wisdom.

Reading now connects to intuition for me.  I have more to say about intuition in the next post (or soon 🙂 ), but it plays an increasing role for me.  When it comes to books these days, I generally never look for books on spiritual topics.  But because of my interests I often look at blogs or web sites with info about new books and, if I feel a draw toward one, I check to see if the library has it or if there’s an inexpensive Kindle version.

These four books drew me and each case I felt profound gratitude for being guided to them and for following my “hit” that I needed to read them.  Each has been the perfect gem for the moment.  Sometimes reading a new book — especially by someone I’ve not read before (or not much) — brings me a fresh insight into an idea that didn’t resonate as much for me the first time I encountered it.  Anybody’s guess whether it’s the different words or a different me creating the new take 🙂

Reading and thinking and using the mind can be pivotal at certain moments on the path, so I’m not saying to try to avoid ever “being mental”.  I’m just saying, practice too.  I know, me and practice…  always harping…

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A glimpse of unwinding

The main reason I’ve been absent so much from blogging has been the unwinding face muscles.  Not just the unwinding itself, but the huge transition it’s creating have been diverting me from the keyboard.

So many people have been puzzled about what I mean by unwinding, I decided one day while it was in full yanking and tugging mode to grab my phone and record.  What you can see on the surface is really just the tip of the iceberg and I wish I could figure out how to describe the multitudes of things going on in the muscles underneath.

All the contortions are driven by what’s going on in the muscles and for the most part out of my control (I can clench down hard and force it to stop but that’s not something I can or want to do routinely, especially since it re-creates some of the knots and tension already released).  When this decides to start happening it just takes over.

The good news is my face, head and neck are becoming slowly but surely free of tension, clenching, pressure, etc.  Periodically significant pieces open and I feel a new level of “wow, my face can feel like this?”  Those moments are the blessing in all this that keeps me able to tolerate it.  Not to mention my eternal optimism 🙂

Nonetheless I thought it might help make the process clearer if I showed you.  Imagine this going on for hours a day — sometimes as much as 18 or all 24 — and perhaps you can see why I say it stops so much of my life.  Why I can’t sleep.  Why I’m so tired.  Why I often can’t concentrate to write or meditate…  I’m not anxious for this to wind up all over the place so in about a week I plan to take down the video and probably this post.

And the message is???

In this time of transition both for earth and in my life, I’ve been pretty silent on this blog.  Kind of hard to describe the fogginess that overtakes me every time I try to write up some thoughts…  A lot has been going on so I thought I’d do one of my catch-up pieces about this and that.

Pondering

I’m still pondering the “what am I here for?”, “what’s next?” questions that have been looming for quite some time.  I’ve been seeing how lots of seemingly unconnected steps along my journey are adding up to a greater whole for some time.  But lately I’m realizing it probably stretches on back to my politico college days and the studies I did on government and power (I’ll catch you up on that in a future post).  I still keep seeing a guide book on peaceful activism but I keep feeling there are more pieces to put together first and I’m prepared for change to march me in a different direction…

Body healing

The last few months have seen some significant, if slow, progress on the unwinding front.  The deep, deep places in my face that are opening now are connected to patterns throughout my body and the opening is leading to huge energy flows.  The huge runs of energy have a lot to do with my inability to pull together coherent thoughts and also interfere with sleeping.

I’m hearing that big energy shifts and downloads and weird physical things are happening for lots of folks as this is a big time of transition so I’m guessing it’s pushing my healing process along as well as impacting other levels of transformation.

This last weekend seemed to mark a moment of big shift.  On Friday I whacked my left elbow into the edge of a towel bar which has had it black and blue and, initially, swollen.  The next day, some spilled suntan oil in a store left me splatted on the ground, smashing my left knee and wrist as well as banging my left hip.  By Saturday night I had puffy, black and blue elbow, wrist and knee.

Having learned that it really helps to do the triggers of release work after an accident, I did a number of those exercises Saturday night.  I started experiencing pops and opening at way deeper levels than the accident could possibly have reached that quickly.  It reminded me of another fall, after which Body Patterning practitioner Hanna commented on picking up the feeling that I needed the fall to crack some things open. That’s exactly how this has felt.

Not only did things begin to open more deeply that night, but it has activated a lot of opening in those last, intertwined pieces in my face — the root stuff that has been slow and resistant to opening.  Now, I could do a lot of exploring about some message from particular places I injured (or look it up in Louise Hay 🙂 ) and I do find it interesting all the injuries were on the left (feminine) side, but I’m satisfied that cracking open was the point.

How long? how long?

Over the years I’ve often circled back to wondering why this healing process is taking SO long.  I first realized there were massive problems with my muscles and my health over 30 years ago.  I’ve practiced yoga, spent tens of thousands of dollars on body work, created a new exercise series for it and done countless of hours of energy practices not to mention the affirmations, prayers and visions…

While I’m aware there have been many lessons and I’ve learned a lot about my body I’d never have known without this long slow process, I’m again at a point of saying to the Universe, “Enough.  I’ve had enough.”  Way past the point of getting what benefit there could possibly be to 30+ total years and something like 12 years of just getting the muscles in my face and head sorted out.  Enough.  Not that saying “enough” seems to affect the Universe… 🙂

Love and Compassion

Meanwhile, still working at love and compassion and ever more convinced the answer for these times is to be love, be peace, be compassion.  I posted a Patricia Cota-Robles video a while back in which she leads a meditation basically for healing all humanity and bringing love to the world.  I’m posting it again below, just to make it easy if you’re interested.  I play it on my tablet as I go to sleep most every night and I love it.

Got to see Patricia in person at one of her free events last Sunday, which was SO lovely!  And I’ve been making my way slowly through a Ram Dass on line retreat involving videos from a real world workshop on transforming negative emotions.  Good stuff.

Still chanting as well as seeking out videos and workshops focused on the issues so dear to my heart.

 

Being Positive, Discovering Issues and the Fine Line Between

Many times over the years I’ve circled around to a contemplation of whether I need to dig around in my past and discover old issues or it would be better to hold positive thoughts.  I’ve wound up after landing for periods of time on both sides, concluding that most of us need a combo.  And maybe there’s a time more for one and a time for the other.

I started off in the “You Create Your Own Reality”, positive-thinking and affirmations mode.  Initially, when I was in total excitement with discovering this whole new way of thinking and being, it worked magically well for me (which certainly fits the theory of the Law of Attraction).  But — at least as I see it — I eventually hit the wall of negative beliefs which permeated my being and it seemed like my spiritual progression ground to a halt.

Still clinging to a belief that this spiritual path offered a better way forward, I kept plugging and wound up being guided to Ellen Margron’s marvelous version of the Fisher-Hoffman Process (Ellen has since died and as far as I’m aware no one else had similarly developed or taken on the longer and more comprehensive process she created).  Massive amounts of digging around in my belief system and releasing (“processing”) beliefs that no longer served me transformed many aspects of my life and I became a firm believer in the need to do some excavating.

Over the years I’ve periodically run into teachers who feel it’s more important to hold positive thoughts and not necessary to examine the past.  Initially I couldn’t even compute what they were trying to say.  I now get it if I think of neural nets.  Creating new positive thoughts and beliefs can build new neural nets and your unconscious will often start taking down the old thinking patterns as it recognizes how much better the new pattern feels– or at least guide you to behave/respond from the newer nets.

But many neural patterns are so intertwined and complex and well-established, I decided somewhere along the way that just saying affirmations and “thinking positive” is kind of like aiming a drip of water at the top of Mt. Everest and waiting for the mountain to erode….  And I also noticed how often people’s determined positivity seemed more like denial than a true shift.

During “The Process” Ellen taught us about layers of being.  The divine essence or true heart is in the center, then the next circle is the negative thoughts and beliefs we develop as we’re taught that we’re not divine and perfect and then around that we circle the mask of the personality we choose to present.  The most fascinating piece for me was the news that meditating or affirming, etc. while determinedly avoiding the roiling circle of negativity in the middle CREATES ANOTHER LAYER AROUND THE OUTSIDE instead of taking you into the heart.

This really describes the sense of denial I sometimes feel from some peoples’ “positive outlooks” — like a big layer of plastic is covering something they’re avoiding.  In pursuit of spirituality or calm or peacefulness they’ve thickened the layers hiding the true heart instead of illuminating it.

That said, after years of digging and excavating I’ve come to see you can also get kind of caught up in the other direction and turn life into a constant process of finding what you need to fix.  For those of us who already suspect something is deeply “wrong” with us, it’s an easy trap in which to land.

Having cleared a great deal, I’ve come to a place where I feel a lot of benefit from holding to positive thoughts.  I keep watch for negative belief patterns but instead of feeling I need to pursue and “process” them, I work at staying mindful enough to turn around the thought to a statement that carries the belief I’d rather hold.  I’ve written before about some of the other ways I submerge myself in affirmative thinking so here I’ll just say I can feel the neural nets changing from all the steps toward thinking more positively.

In the end I’d have to say I feel it’s both.  If you hold a huge amount of negative thought patterns — especially if they’re ancestral patterns of thought that have been passed down for generations — I think some excavating out of the past is the only way you’re going to step beyond it.  And I really think if you feel absolutely determined never to examine your life there’s a big issue just in that to explore.  Why are you unwilling to look into whatever may be holding on and hindering you?

It’s kind of a juggling act I’d say between exploring issues as you become aware of them and creating a new structure of thinking.  And I’d guess in the early stages of the journey most of us need a bit more on the digging around side and as we clear issues it becomes more fruitful to work on building new neural nets with positive thoughts and beliefs.  I’d love to hear some chiming in from some of you deep thinkers out there!  What’s been your experience?

Note:  Zoe at HopeDreamWait has nominated me for a Cramm Blog award.  I quit participating in these blog awards some time ago, but I am so grateful to Zoe for nominating me — thanks!.  Her blog is fun, so check her out!

 

Yoga for the Homeless

Since I’ve been practicing yoga for 30+ years and teaching off and on for something like 25, it seemed only fitting that my first participation in the We Are the World Blogfest should share a positive and uplifting piece about yoga.  I love the idea of offering yoga to homeless people.  Knowing the power of yoga practice to balance your energy and move you into a stronger more centered space, I imagine these programs (this isn’t the only one out there) are having an important impact.

The five co-hosts for this month’s event are:

  1. Belinda Witzenhausen
  2. Lynn Hallbrooks
  3. Simon Falk
  4. Sylvia McGrath
  5. Damyanti Biswas

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Subtle shifting

English: Beach, Grescleit. The sands are shift...

Shifting Sands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent several weeks recently reading my way through Life Loves You by Robert Holden and Louise Hay and sort of doing the practices.  Some I did exactly as provided, some I re-crafted to use similar practices I know..

It’s been a return to the sort of practices and info I devoured at the beginning of my spiritual journey.  On one hand I’ve very much enjoyed the return to the basics as well as seeing how much more these things flow after years of clearing away emotional debris and physically opening my body.  On the other hand, counter to their predictions for big change, this far down the road and after the huge amounts of change and release I’ve already undergone, to me the impacts of this work were subtle.

Getting my mind to quit running old tapes and stop reacting out of inter-generational habits has been one of my great challenges.  I’ve finally reached a place where the kind of positive thinking, gratitude and forgiveness practices in this book grab hold with greater ease and I’m so pleased to feel the years of work on affirmations and retraining my brain are resulting in finally seeing a bigger impact from such practices.

The piece about which I’ve been most excited was a little change that suddenly happened with my lovingkindness chanting several weeks in on the Life Loves You venture.  As you know, I’ve been a fan of the lovingkindness chant for years and since the election I’ve established a regular practice of chanting it for 10 minutes 4 or 5 times a week.  Suddenly one night I found myself saying it with a change of emphasis while simultaneously being flooded with a sense of the meaning of each separate affirmation:

  • I am filled with lovingkindness
  • I am well
  • I am peaceful and at ease
  • I am happy

It’s hard to describe the inner shift as I say it now.  Over the years I’ve mostly said it as one continuous piece.  It’s always been powerful for me, always opened a big flow of energy through my heart.  But now I’m saying it with a great consciousness of each phrase being an affirmation of something I truly assert to be true — and the powerful feeling has grown.

Another phase of major unwinding has been unfolding as well, opening some significant pieces where my left eye, cheek and jaw have all felt crunched together.  Still not done, but open enough to feel something significant is happening.

Then the other night I had a bunch of tabs open on my browser and as I moved from one to another I noticed I had 5 FB notifications, 5 new posts waiting on WP, 5 notifications from Pinterest, an ad with a big “5” in it….  Although I find it interesting, I’ve never had a conscious experience of one or more numbers repeating like that.  Linda over at litebeing chronicles does pay a lot of attention to numbers and knows a lot about it so when the first post I saw on FB the next day was from her and IT had “5” in it, I asked her about the meaning.  “Change,” she said.  I also found a site with spiritual meanings of numbers and “manifestation” came up.

Feels like the Universe is giving me a big thumbs up and confirming big change is afoot!

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