A little catch up, a little FYI …

Robin 2017

Robin in our back yard 2017

Muscles in my face are still going nuts and when they’re not I can’t seem to stop sleeping (possibly something to do with thousand of hours of sleep deprivation — and yup, I figured that out with all kinds of math formulas … not 🙂 ) so I have posts floating in the recesses of my mind but haven’t been able to sit down and focus enough to write them.

I’ve still been trying to keep up the regular chanting practice (lovingkindness chant + Gayatri Mantra + Om Shanti Shanti) yet also work my way through the practices in Life Loves You.  Also weaving some of the kundalini yoga sets I used to do regularly back into my practice schedule along with the yoga/Robert Masters/exercise bike routines I’ve been doing and trying to hit the Eight Key Breaths, and Five Tibetan Rites as well.

Sometimes I feel like I know so many practices and exercises that I could get up in the morning and start doing them and just keep going all day long if I wanted to hit everything faithfully…  So many different ones serve different purposes in energy or muscles or feeling tones.  Right now I’m just juggling in a “go-with-the-flow” kind of thing, seeing what feels right each day during the time set aside.

Wanted to also mention a couple of new things I’ve run into that I think would be of interest to some of the regulars around here.  Belinda Witzenhausen has started a blog hop thingy devoted to promoting stories of love and positivity.  You can sign up on a linky page to participate and the first posts are to go up on March 31.

I’ve also signed up for a class offered through Daily OM called Release Yourself from Family Karma.  As you know, I’ve been working on clearing ancestral issues for some time now and this class looks like a good opportunity to identify and clear some remaining issues.  And they nicely allow you to choose your payment  on a sliding scale of $10.00, $25.00 or $40.00 (the default seems to be $25 but if you click on that it opens up to a menu with the three options).

And my time to chant is calling now…  Peace, out…

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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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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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I DO have a bucket list…

leighs-bucket-list

Bucket lists seem to have become a big priority in this country; I’m hazy about whether it started with the movie or whether the movie arose from a growing preoccupation…  Since it keeps coming up, I find myself periodically wondering whether I have one.  At one point I wrote a post about not wanting one.

Pretty much all the bucket lists I’ve encountered are long to-do lists of activities.  Whether it’s a catalog of places to visit or exploits or career accomplishments they’re all about external pursuits.  Underlying the lists is an obsession with living a life that’s packed with doing and the corollary notion that your life won’t have value (or you’ll have regrets when you die) unless you’ve done as much as possible.  At least that’s my take.

Looking at these lists reminds how definitively I “march to my own drum”.  Because I pretty much don’t want to do any of that stuff and I can’t imagine lying on my death bed feeling sad because I never saw St. Emilion or jumped off a bridge while attached to a cord.  I would like to see St. Emilion but I don’t feel the value of my life will be determined by whether I have or haven’t.  Now the bungee cord thing…  that would go on a growing list of things I don’t EVER want to do before I die 🙂

Another blogger (so sorry, I’ve lost track of which) recently posted about Myers Briggs.  I decided to finally look into it.  My initial guess was INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) and then I took several different tests, each of which confirmed it.  We’re somewhere from 1-4% of the population (different sources give different %), which kind of fits with my sense of being out of step.

When I made this discovery, I’d been working on and off on the idea that maybe my bucket list is just different.  I can see how mine fits with being an INFP.  It’s a work in progress (even though I memorialized it on the picture above):

  1. Be Peace or as close as I can get in this lifetime
  2. Become ever more compassionate
  3. Radiate love
  4. Be generous
  5. Open my heart
  6. Allow the shifts of the world and those around me to move through me without affecting me
  7. Be unfailingly kind
  8. Develop ever higher consciousness
  9. Evolve to consciously living as a divine spirit in a physical body
  10. Heal this life and all effects of ancestral patterns and past lives
  11. Write a great book
  12. Write a great song
  13. Help others on their journeys
  14. Stay healthy
  15. Heal all anger

I suspect it’s a list for several lifetimes.  And most of the items will, by their nature, be works in progress rather than things I can check off the list.  I gather most people would feel antsy at the lack of stuff “to do” and scratch off…

But it’s my list and I like it.  And I feel so much less out of step now that I have one 🙂

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J2P Monday: Peace and politics

English: Peace, Love and Increase

English: Peace, Love and Increase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted a challenge for this U.S. political season a while back–with practice possibilities for people everywhere.  As we grow closer to the election and the vitriol grows ever worse, I find myself struggling to hold a space of love and compassion and I see the angst rising everywhere.  Even though it’s a bit late to call this a Monday post (hey, I’m still up… 🙂 ), I wanted to copy that post in, edit a bit and challenge everyone to find the peace within:

Every political season (does it ever end now?) for some years has felt a little ornerier and more contentious than the last.  This time around I’m struggling to hold my space of peace in the face of the vitriol I run into every time I look at Facebook or turn on the TV.

Whatever your political persuasion, you do not contribute to peace by ridiculing, vilifying or angrily condemning the folks on the other side.  And I get it.  I struggle to keep hatred at bay when I contemplate Donald Trump.  But as I look at the countless ugly remarks, snotty commentaries and general malevolence toward him I wonder if anyone stops to think about how hatred and malevolence destroy peace.  Same thing in the other direction.  If you’re lobbing hate bombs at Hilary how can you possibly be holding a space of peace?

Every time I think those angry thoughts or see one of those snotty posts, if I direct those kinds of barbs and jokes at him, I have to ask myself how am I then any different than him?  When I behave as badly as he does, I am basically being him.  More crucially, when I aim those arrows, I am not staying conscious of the one true thing:  I AM HIM AND HE IS ME.

I really like Deepak Chopra’s analysis of Donald Trump as being the representative of the Shadow.  And his reminder that failure to face the shadow within us is always present when the Hitlers, Idi Amins, Joseph McCarthys and Trumps of the world step up and carry us into darkness.  For me the key point of this reminder is the knowledge to which I always return:  the only heart I can change is mine.

Anyone or anything I see outside of me and feel is bad or wrong or disturbing reflects something in me.  So if I’m not happy with Trump (or substitute whatever candidate you abhor), then what aspects of him are in me?  What am I not facing?

  • What do I fear so greatly in the world?  If I see him as coming from fear and working on creating fear, where is the fear in me that I’m not seeing?
  • How poor is my self-esteem if I see him as lacking it?
  • In what ways am I as hateful as I perceive him being?
  • How am I “dumb” to the realities of life going on around me?
  • How and when do I share fear instead of love?

Anything I can see in me I can heal.  As I’ve noted many times, I love using the Ho’opono pono prayer for healing.

  • For every way in which I allow fear to displace love and peace, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For every hateful thought I harbor for anyone, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For seeing anyone ever as “other”, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For any way in which I lack enough faith to know in all ways every day all is well, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • If there is anything within me that blocks me from “being peace”, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you

CHALLENGE:

Yep, I haven’t issued a challenge for a long time, but here’s one I challenge you to do throughout this political season in the U.S. or, if you live in a place where no election is looming until you feel at peace with it:

  1. No matter who you favor and who you don’t among the candidates [if you’re not in an election cycle make it a politician you dislike], every time you catch yourself thinking with fear, animosity, or hatred about any candidate, stop and create a list of things that upset or disturb you about that candidate.
  2. Go deep within and ask yourself where within you does each thing on the list exist?  What are the fears that create the anger?  What’s going on with your faith?
  3. Do whatever healing practice you wish, whether it’s saying the ho’onopono pono prayer or doing Reiki or following a guided meditation for healing or???, about everything you discover within you.  And keep doing it until you can look at all the candidates and only feel peace.

Elizabeth Lesser on getting to the Marrow

Last week I caught up on a few recently-recorded Super Soul Sundays.  Loved all of them but the interview with Elizabeth Lesser particularly grabbed me.  So much so that I quickly checked the library catalog and put a hold on her latest book, Marrow.  [As has become the norm with OWN, I can’t seem to embed the video and if you’re interested you should follow this link to it soon because the program aired a couple of weeks ago and they yank them off quickly]

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=65414

The book is a profound recounting of the  journey she took when her sister needed a bone marrow transplant and Elizabeth was the perfect match.  They embarked on healing their relationship in order to ensure the sharing of marrow would be as harmonious as possible; getting to the marrow on many levels.  I’m still reading and blown away by the constant stream of deep insights.

Listening to her and reading her I keep feeling like I’ve “met” a soul sister.  Her journey has led her to so many of the same conclusions and thoughts I’ve reached…

I felt a little connection from the get-go because she’s one of the founders of Omega Institute and my friend and teacher, Gay Luce, used to teach workshops there at least once a year.  I knew she was friends with at least one of the founders although I don’t think I knew the name.   While I was living at the little apartment she used to have at the side of her house, I’d flip through the Omega catalogs and see the amazing array of teachers who presented there.

Tenuous connection, but it was there for me.  And it’s been kind of fun reading the book because there’ve  been a number of places where I felt like she could have been talking about something Gay teaches.  Then I realized I think at some point they were both in the Bay Area, making their way through various teachers and a lot of the teachers at Omega have been people Gay knows.  So I suspect they’ve both drawn a lot of material from the same pool.  Gay studied a bit more with Buddhists and Ms. Lesser –based on her acknowledgements — at some point chose a Sufi path, but I catch some similar ideas.

It’s so cool to see how that works.  Through Gay I experienced a few teachers from the Bay Area and read books by or heard about others, all of whom I eventually realized had been in overlapping groups led by Claudio Naranjo in the 70’s.  I have a general impression there have been several periods in the New Age/New Thought movement when lots of teachers arose out of groups who studied with some of the same teachers.

I love the sense of deep spiritual thinking spinning out through a web of teachers who are inspired to create their own take on spiritual growth and who then inspire another round and then there’s another…

Joy… hmmm… what is it?

Another action shot from Christmas Day up Moel...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about joy and fun.  And whether I feel them much… or ever…  I realize sometimes I’m not even sure what joy is or how to have fun any more.  Or maybe I’ve changed so much my definitions have just changed.

I do have this one precious memory of a joy-filled moment I relive when I want to move into a joyful place.  And that’s one of the nice things about any emotion:  you can choose to go there or move out of there or to change to a different one any time you want.

This particular moment was in Marin.  My friends had asked me to house sit through two sessions of their workshops and the couple of weeks in between — seven whole weeks in my favorite place, taking care of the kitties I’d helped raise, in the place where I’d had my little apartment.

Early in the trip I went for my favorite walk on a glorious day.  After crossing through the county park that abuts the house, I came out on a little country road that curves around the hill; for a while shortly after you exit the park you’re walking under trees on a section with no houses.

I stepped into that private space, so happy to be walking there and with nearly seven weeks left to revel in being there and I started jumping around in circles with my hands in the air.  That I can identify as joy.

The thing is, the way I used to run to clubs to hear music, go to parties, hang out with crowds and noise, etc.  now seems more like a pantomime of fun.  I love music, so there was some joy in hearing great bands.  But the rest was fodder for a restless and unhappy spirit and I’m quite sure a lot of the time I mistook over-excitement and over-stimulation for joy.  Also defined fun by some perception of what was “cool” among my peers.

When I look around these days, I see huge numbers of people who are pursuing the same — to me — illusory forms of joy and fun.  In fact these forms seem really amped up now.  Restaurants are bigger and noisier than any I remember, crowds at music events are bigger and louder.  Sporting venues hold more people, turn the sound up louder.  I have to use sound reducing earplugs to halfway tolerate a movie theater.  And I find all of it energy depleting, enervating, and somewhat depressing.

Thirty years plus in on meditating, yoga, practices, releasing, soul searching, etc. many of my moments of deepest satisfaction are very quiet.  Gazing at a sunset, a deep conversation over dinner with a couple of close friends, feeding people something I’ve cooked and watching their faces light up…  None of that puts me in quite the same space I held on the day I danced around in the middle of a Corte Madera mountain road.  So are such moments joy?

I was very interested to read Louise’s recent post at Dare Boldly and note her thoughts about sunsets and walks in the park and being with friends as joy-bringing activities.  It’s bringing me a whole new perspective on what joy maybe really is.

Those activities for me bring serenity, a sense of balance, a warm feeling in my heart.  I love to be in that kind of space but I can’t decide whether it’s joy I’m feeling or something softer yet deeply satisfying.

I find myself wondering if I’m still being seduced by some culturally implanted idea that joy should equate with something exciting.  Does it have to be as big as the moment of happiness so intense it had me jumping around in the street?   [btw, hard to express how unlike me that was and how much it says for the absolute joy I felt in the moment]

I’m just contemplating, not in a place where I have any sense of an answer.  And maybe joy and it’s bigness or smallness is in the eye of the beholder.  Or maybe it has big moments and small moments…  I imagine I’ll be revisiting this question for some time to come.

For me one of the joys 🙂 and drawbacks of the spiritual journey is becoming someone new.  Of looking at an emotional tone differently and trying to decide where the current version of me stands…  seeing how much my view/feeling has changed compared to various points in the past. Most of the time being new is great and sometimes not so easy…