In search of the joy place

Somehow the subject of joy keeps bubbling up and lately it’s front and center in my thoughts. As I mentioned in a recent post, a friend and I have been doing daily “check-ins” for several years and recently added joy–a topic I’ve been exploring for a while.

It’s been quite a revelation to see what a difference it makes to consciously seek the joy moments in every day.  You see, things like joy, happiness, playfulness, etc. have been elusive for me.  While the spiritual path has brought great equanimity and a sense of peace and contentment I never had, I’m still working on letting in the happy.

Numerous practitioners over the years have told me I should play more and it always feels like they’ve just asked me to spontaneously speak Greek.  “Duh, I don’t know how.”  I was a pretty serious kid in a household in which horsing around, childish behavior (even from a child) and too much laughter were discouraged.  I folded in so thoroughly I lost the sense of how to relax and have fun.

It took a long time to realize I have some strong beliefs that say it’s not okay to be too happy and joy, well that’s just suspect, something to be wary of.  Add in a long journey through some weird and uncomfortable health/muscle issues and I’ve hit senior status with a seriously impaired joy button.

At the same time this daily joy check-in has been happening, I’ve been working on holding a peaceful space in the face of the chaos since the U.S. election.  Part of that became checking each day for posts and/or news items about the positive and great things happening in the world and sharing them on Facebook.  During a party the other night, a friend turned and thanked me for creating a space of calm and peace with my posts.

When she said it, images of the many wonderful things I’d found flooded through me and I caught on to how much joy there is finding the good and the uplifting and sharing the happy.  I’ve been excited and joyful about it ever since.

I think the thing I love the most about this is how small and simple so many of the “joy things” have been and how much noticing them spreads the joy through my being even more.  Years of gratitude practice never quite sent me to the same place but joy practice is changing my world by leaps and bounds.

Just a word change.  And it reminds me that sometimes the resonance of one word over another for a given person makes all the difference.  If you, like me, have trouble holding the happy space, consider whether the word which makes you sparkle is gratitude or happiness or joy or … you name it and then practice finding the moments when you feel it.

We are the World Blogfest July 2017 edition

Sorry I’m a little late with this month’s WATWB.  Love, love, love this news, so definitely wanted to share!  Check out the Good News Network to keep up with positive news.

Goals of Paris Agreement May Be Met Sooner Than Expected

July 29, 2017

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Displayed with permission from Good News Network

The precipitous drop in costs for renewable energy technology-even from prices a few years ago-means that carbon emissions may decrease faster and hit the targets earlier than those envisioned by the Paris Climate Agreement. Here are three technologies making that happen:

1. Solar – the average price of a MWh of electricity from solar cells has dropped from $394 in 2009 to $55 today. Solar accounted for 39% of all new electric generating capacity last year, topping all other methods for the first time.

2. Wind – the cost of wind power has likewise dropped dramatically, from an average of $135 per megawatt-hour in 2009 to $47. Wind energy is currently generated in 41 of the 50 U.S. states, with capacity of 82,000 megawatts, double the amount 6 years ago.CHECK OUT: India Plants Record-breaking 66 Million Trees in 12 Hours

3. Electric Vehicles (EVs) – the changes in EV availability, cost, range and customer acceptance are remarkable.

EVs like the Tesla 3 and Chevy Bolt have a range of over 200 miles. Even the 25-30 mile range of many new plug-in hybrids covers over 80% of the trips most people take, with the gasoline engine available for the remainder. The cost of the new Tesla and Bolt is around $35,000, yet the average cost of a new car in the US this year is $34,000. Over 20 new EVs will be introduced in the next year, with the cost per mile for electricity usually less than half the cost of gasoline, depending on fuel costs in each area.

Recharging EV batteries takes less time today; some of the newer technologies can charge batteries to 80% capacity in 30 minutes or less-which makes the growing network of recharging stations at restaurants and highway stops more pertinent.

MORECompany is Offering to Retrain Coal Miners as Wind Farmers For Free

Tesla’s Model X was tested as the safest SUV ever, of any type. Without a gasoline motor or transmission, EVs can have larger ‘crumple zones’ and the batteries under the floor create a lower center of gravity reducing roll-overs. They often accelerate faster than gasoline-powered cars because of the greater range of torque in electric motors.

Non-hybrid EVs also win the maintenance test since they have no transmission, engine, radiator, water pump, oil pump, etc. to service. Because of their simplicity and the reliability of electric motors, EVs may last 500,000 miles or more.

While coal currently provides about 30% of US electricity, that number is declining with each passing year. In contrast, the share of renewables is growing rapidly and will surpass coal, perhaps sooner rather than later. Thus, as time goes on, EVs will be even better for the environment as their source fuel becomes cleaner.

RELATED10-Year-old Boy Invents Device That Will Save Children From Hot Cars

The economic momentum of renewably-powered cars is also moving governments to support the trend. India’s new policy is that the country will sell only EVs by 2030. China is singing the same tune, with new requirements and support of their own EV industry. Britain and France just announced an end to fossil fuel cars in their countries by 2040.

Wayne Parker is a consultant who helped develop one of the earliest electric car competitions and was Deputy Director of California’s SolarCal office. He lives in Eugene, Oregon now and has a Tesla Model 3 on order.

Click To Share The News With Your Friends – OR,  (Photo by Topaz Solar Farm

The co-hosts of We Are the World Blogfest:

Belinda WitzenhausenCarol Walsh,Chrissie ParkerDamyanti BiswasEmerald BarnesEric LahtiInderpreet Kaur UppalKate PowellLynn HallbrooksMary GieseMichelle WallacePeter NenaRich WeatherlyRoshan RadhakrishnanSimon FalkSusan ScottSylvia SteinSylvia McGrath

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Start the Revolution Without Me?

 

This is one of those posts I’ve debated about for a while — which blog?  which blog?  I’ve been doing some occasional political pieces on the Scribblings blog, but ultimately I decided this one has messages that suit both.  So I’m posting on both– not even a reblog just the same post in two places…

Lately I’ve been slowly realizing how everything I’ve done since college has been adding up to something forming in the now; a purpose and direction born long before this spiritual journey began as a conscious process.

I got to Northwestern University in 1970 and by the end of my freshman year I was radicalized.  A lot of revolution talk floated in the air around the anti-war movement and I felt both excited and unnerved by it. Puzzled by the enthusiasm being expressed by “peaceniks” for a process usually containing violence and horror — however great the outcome might be. (Though really, historically speaking, I’d have to say an awful lot of revolutions made things worse instead of better….)

It fascinated me, so I began to study.  Technically I majored in history and had an English minor, but I put together my own course of study.  An instructor with a forthcoming book on the “Power Elite” (the people of money who, behind the scenes, ran/run much of what happened/happens) ignited more fascination and I started taking classes on 20th century history, political systems, economic systems, political philosophy, political sociology, etc.  I wanted to know what the plan should/would be for a replacement if we wanted to tear the current structure down.  I wanted to find out if there was a path to change without violence.  I never lost sight of the deep questions about whether those who were shouting about revolution really understood the ramifications.  They also shouted about peace and the contradiction troubled me.

I tried to continue this work as a graduate student in sociology, but fellowship money wound up side-tracking me into the Center for Urban Affairs.  I learned more stuff that influences me still, not the least of which was a massive review of literature on crime statistics and the startling revelation that the probabilities of being a victim of most of the major felonies (robbery, burglary, assault, murder, rape, etc.) had not changed since at least the 1940’s.  (see previous post for more info)

I’ve continued to periodically check for updated studies and it has remained true to this day–and I now know the unchanged probabilities actually extend far back beyond the 1940’s.  It’s remained a central point for me, the realization that fear and perception of what’s real can be manipulated by how the facts are presented and what the media and people in power choose to bring to our attention.  And in these days, when positive news is available in a few seconds of internet searching, it’s also about what we choose to focus upon.

My law career was spent mainly on cases fighting nuclear power plants one way or another and I learned a lot about the real story there and how the utility companies, in collusion with the government, have tried to create a benign view of the nuclear industry that’s out of alignment with the facts.

I used to count all of those earlier studies and jobs out of my thoughts about how various elements of “my path” have added up to where I am now and what I am meant to do.  But as these wild times have ignited me to renewed interest in these big questions about politics and economics, I’m seeing how the Universe has guided me to gather what I need for my whole adult life, not just from the point when I began to explore myself as a spiritual being.  I still don’t see exactly where it leads, though that book I decided to write months ago on peaceful activism remains in the forefront of my thoughts.

Going back to the undergraduate studies, Oskar Lange‘s book, On the Economic Theory of Socialism, moved me, convinced me and provided the basic framework for what I would like to see that has guided my political thinking ever since.  While I love Social Democratic philosophy and especially how it has played out in Denmark, I remain aware that the U.S. has reached a point where powerful money forces have entrenched themselves so deeply in the political fabric that it may well require a revolution to make a change.

Through all the years I’ve watched the left leaning side of the Democratic party (and those who, like me, are somewhere left of the party but vote for it out of expediency), I’ve been amused and bemused by the unending chatter about changing this deeply rooted political principle or that deeply entrenched lobby group.  They speak of it as though just electing a few of the right people and/or passing the right laws will be all it takes to turn everything around.

My personal feeling has long been that it will take something far more earth shattering than electing “the right” people to revamp our system into a Social Democracy.   In an ironic sense I have a feeling the election of #45 may be the catalyst that does it, but that’s another rambling for another day…

My perspective now includes years of spiritual seeking, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, chanting, etc. and my beliefs have shifted to encompass a more spiritual and less political view.  I believe in peace.  I believe in compassion.  I believe in lovingkindness.  And I’m still striving to find a way to change the world without a revolution–or at least by fomenting a peaceful and compassionate one.

I’m unhappy about the anger and vitriol on display from both sides while at the same time understanding we probably need this time of erupting anger to clear a lot of buried stuff.  I’m unenthusiastic about “resistance” being the main banner of the movement for social democracy.

I am very clear it is more powerful to be “for” something than it is to be against something and I believe it is time for a platform of social change in which we are FOR equality, FOR universal health care, FOR equal rights for all humans of every race, nationality, gender and sexual orientation, FOR a basic decent quality of life for all humans–maybe FOR a new Social Democratic party?…  Time to stop speaking of our striving in battle terms and instead to be positive about what we’re doing to create what we believe in.

I am also clear that much of humanity discounts the role many of us have been playing as we have cleared old issues, struggled to become more loving, more kind, more compassionate…  Much of humanity doesn’t believe in peaceful means.  I understand that most people don’t get the web of all life or comprehend we are energy beings first and foremost; energy beings who are interconnected and whose thoughts and feelings as well as actions impact all of life.

I believe the biggest revolution may be the one that can and must happen in our hearts.  Which is not to say peaceful activism doesn’t also have a role.  But more than anything I believe now is the moment to clear any vestiges of fear and anger IN YOU, raise your energy vibration toward love, toward compassion, toward higher consciousness.  You can’t make anybody else change their thoughts or learn to meditate or choose peace.  Only you can do it. Only I can do it.  Peace begins with me.  Peace begins with you.

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My latest magnetizing forces

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’ve been trying to do practices toward which I’m drawn instead of setting up a practice and doing the same one daily no matter what.

Back after the election I started a regular practice of saying the lovingkindness chant and then added singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.  I remained very faithful to that one and for quite a while it drew me as if I needed it like breathing.  Then I started also being drawn to do the short version of Yoga Nidra on my much-loved Swami Janakananda recording, Experience Yoga Nidra [after falling in love with this one I tried quite a few other yoga nidra recordings; none have the same script I love on the short one and the long ones leave out big chunks that are in his].

This practice has been particularly good for me in another spell of not enough sleep since you do this one lying down and it’s short enough I can stay awake all the way through.  I’ve also been loving the variation on alternate nostril breathing which takes up a fair portion of this short one – another one of those things that’s been just what I needed.  So I started alternating this with the chanting.

I lost track of who recommended this Patricia Cota-Robles meditation/affirmation, but I’ve pretty routinely played it as I go to sleep for several months now and sometimes I’ve let this substitute for chanting or yoga nidra.

Lately I’ve been drawn in yet another direction after YouTube kept putting the meditation below near the top of my suggestion list for a week or two.  The final kicker was when Sindy, of bluebutterflies and me, left a comment on one of my posts, including a link to — you guessed it — the same meditation.  I said, “okay, Universe, you don’t have to hit me over the head,” and tried it out.  I really like it.  I’m factoring it in several times a week; I’ve also tried a shorter one from Steve Nobel on the chakras and plan to try out some more.

I find this very powerful although I can’t tell you some “real life” manifestation; I just feel powerful energy forces throughout my body during it and for a long time after.  Just feel very drawn to it right now.

And of course there’s another Deepak/Oprah 21 day meditation event that started this week so I’m trying to do it too.  Some days I manage both one of theirs and the Steve Nobel, other days just one…

Rules and fear and fundamentalism

I’ve been trying out some different meditations on YouTube lately.  Something I’ve appreciated from a few of them has been instructions that allow for you to do the meditation either sitting or lying down and no specific requirements beyond that.  Over the years I’ve run into a lot of teachers and teachings with long lists of specific things you must do in order to successfully meditate or tune in to the divine, etc.

As one who’s always struggled with rules, I squirm when an instructor teaches that only those who perfectly obey a set of rules can achieve enlightenment, or succeed at meditation, or connect with divine/Buddha nature.  I’ve encountered instructions ranging from never to cross your legs or ankles, always to sit cross-legged, say only an exact script, wear a shawl wrapped a certain way when you meditate, your spine has to be absolutely straight… Personally, when I go to a workshop at which a teacher says stuff like that, I will never be attending another event with that teacher.

My mind starts asking questions like:

  • Really, All That Is created the universe and can heal the sick and raise the dead but can’t interact with a human who has her legs crossed?
  • If you can’t have your legs crossed OR uncrossed, are you supposed to have your leg bones removed so you can do a Gumby pretzel kind of thing?
  • so if your spine has to be absolutely straight does that mean people with scoliosis can’t become enlightened?  Really, God has an “oh those sinning scoliosis people, let’s ban them” thing going on?
  • Divine Consciousness has rules like a social club; gotta follow the rules or you can’t be part of the Buddha nature group?  Seriously.  People really think All That Is is petty?

Okay, my mind’s a scary place but when people make up rules that are so easy to break down into nonsense, I can’t accept those rules–and I really don’t get why so many people do.  I’ve been fascinated for years with the great love so many people have for lists of rules to follow.  Sometimes it’s a way of defining an “us” and a “them”.  I’m pretty sure some spiritual teachers want to sell people on their own set of “must follow” rules to keep people paying them.

Some rules are the ones that let people in fear believe they will be saved or reach their goal, get to heaven, reach enlightenment, etc.  I see it as the basis of fundamentalist thinking.  And I see that fundamentalism in those who want to create a path to higher consciousness paved with rules to follow.  I don’t think you have to be at the extreme edge of religion to be a fundamentalist.  Just afraid and looking for reassurance through a structure of rules providing an illusory guarantee…

I understand some of the sitting, wearing, etc. rules as rituals intended to focus intent and belief on accomplishing whatever the spiritual practice is meant to accomplish.  It just seems people wind up confusing the ritual with the end goal and somehow come to believe the precise steps of the ritual are integral to enlightenment or great meditation,etc. instead of an aid.  To me, tools are just there to use if I need them and if I benefit from a practice using my own way of doing it, the success is just as real and maybe more sweet.

Me, I don’t get along with rules so well.  I like a meditation that says I can sit down or lie down and how I do either doesn’t matter…

Checking in, gratitude and joy

Two or three years ago, when the BeZine was still the Bardo Group, one of the folks (sorry no longer remember which one, though I think Terry Stewart) wrote a post suggesting that we find a partner with whom to do a text check-in every day.  In this check-in you were to say how you’re feeling and what your intentions are for the day.

When I posted it on FB, a long-time friend suggested that we do it.  Since I don’t “do texting” we settled on daily e-mails and my friend proposed adding three gratitudes.  While we miss days here and there, we’ve very steadily kept up the practice, supporting one another through various trials and on our spiritual paths.  I look forward every day to seeing her check-in, following along with her daily life so much more than I’ve been able to do for years (we’ve lived in different states for the majority of the 40+ years we’ve been friends) and in a way that strengthens our bond at deep levels.

I’ve been working for some years on improving my consciousness of gratitude –more specifically noting what I have to be grateful FOR — and this daily practice has been really good for me to add to my habit of waking up and saying thanks for something and generally trying to note and be thankful for the good stuff more.

While I like gratitude practice and find it subtly boosts my sense of well-being and feels good, I’ve never had the sort of grand, magical transformation of life that many who tout gratitude practice imply will ensue.  I see its value in quiet ways and I believe in its worth as part of a spiritual path so I’m pleased to be doing the practice — but not blown away by it.

So when I recently watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Sheryl Sandberg*  I sat up when they spoke quite a bit about stopping to find gratitude and joy.  It intrigued me to note they talked of them interchangeably but that to me they felt different.  My friend and I have both been working on allowing ourselves to be happy — a struggle for both of us — and to spend more time feeling happiness or joy.

As I contemplated gratitude and joy, I felt sometimes they would be the same thing for me (and everything on a joy list would belong as well on a gratitude list) but there are many things for which I feel grateful that don’t necessarily inspire me with joy.  One example I’ve used is utilities (electric, water, etc.).  Aware of how much of the world is lacking one or more of these, I feel very grateful to have them but they’re a little too ordinary to me for me to be beaming with joy because the lights are working (there might be a side debate as to whether I should and I suspect noting joy leads to feeling joy about everything).

I proposed adding “Joy” to our daily check-in and she readily agreed.  I can’t speak for how she’s feeling (though indications are good 🙂 ) but I am finding a much more transformational shift happening by thinking about joy every day.  Since playfulness and joyfulness, etc. are hard for me to experience, the conscious practice of noting joy is bringing it forward for me.  I’m spending far more time feeling up and positive as I find joy in many places.

One day as I tried to switch from a sliver of soap that broke to a new bar of still-wrapped soap–while soapy and in the shower–I kept dropping everything.  At first frustrated, I was muttering, “damn, that’s slippery” when I burst out laughing because, you know, “imagine, wet soap is slippery”.  Then I noted the joy in the laughing and realized small, silly things are enough — and that made me feel joyful.  My friend dubbed it “goofy joy”, which just seems perfect.

I highly recommend finding a check-in buddy with whom to share a mindful tune-in every day — and I really like our additions of gratitude and joy.  If you struggle at all to find the happy, you might find a “joyful” practice to be more transformational than gratitude.  I’d sure be interested in hearing other people’s experiences!

*I”m linking there but they’re taking it down in December, so this will go dead at some point.  They seem to keep changing their minds about how long to make these available and whether to let people embed them.  At this point I can’t find an easy way to embed and since they’re not leaving it up it didn’t seem worth pursuing…

Intuition and me.

I wrote the first draft of this Saturday and the title included “Happy Canada Day” but allergies sidetracked me from getting back to it.  Still wanted to say a belated happy happy to my Canadian friends!

I mentioned recently that I’d be doing a post on intuition — I’m realizing that it’s more a meandering on intuition as I am in a process more than at a place of wrapping it up, but this unfolding has been intriguing to me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’ve been working on issues related to an ancestral shut-down of my maternal lineage as “seers”.  So I tend to think of myself as not having much third eye activity–or at least what most experts around me say is a block to receiving the info.

While I have a notion I will be coming to yet-to-be-determined “extra sensing” ability when the muscles finish, I’ve been realizing lately that some degree of good intuitive “knowing” has been there all along.  Beyond that I have no way of knowing what talent or talents the line of seers in my family had since that got shut down long ago so have no idea whether I’ll be leading cops to murders or reading people’s thoughts or “seeing” visions of the future or just expanding the “knowing” I already have…

Since early in the journey I’ve been very good at having a strong sense of which spiritual teachers, books, activities and which alternative healing modalities are right for me and which are not.  In the beginning I wasn’t always good at following my avoid instinct and I wound up unhappily working with a practitioner/teacher or two whom I wound up finding creepy or uncomfortable or just not good at their practice.

But over the years I’ve come to trust it and it has served me well as I’ve moved along the healing process in great strides by heading for this practitioner or that teaching when it called to me as the next step.  For a long time I’ve said no to any healer or teacher or class if it feels off or wrong.  No way to know if I missed something great on the “no’s” but I sure have had some fabulous experiences with amazing therapists and healers whose work has drawn me to say YES.

Lately I’m noticing as things clear and my head opens, if I tune in (a big “if” 🙂 ) my intuition guides me very well on many more things, from which practices to do each day to which errands to run, to types of food I need to eat for a period of time and more.  I see intuition and “the sight” as coming from the same place but esp as having a wider or deeper connection to info outside the normal senses.  But I’m aware the type of “knowing” I experience is also considered to be one of the forms of ESP, so I find myself wondering if this expanding intuitive ability means the muscles blocking my third eye are finally opening.

Can you tell I’m getting antsy to get to the end of the muscle-healing thing and on to whatever is next?  I keep trying to stay in the moment and find the joy, etc.  But when it comes to unwinding and not sleeping and headaches, etc.  I have to admit my basic feeling re: those things and joy is…  not so much.

Anyway, as I note the intuitive ability growing, it’s been interesting to ponder… and wonder what abilities my ancestors had.  Maybe a seance???  🙂