Being a trailblazer

Last time I talked about a recent phone conversation that has been a big spark for thinking about this transition time I’ve been in.  The same discussion ignited a lengthy examination of my role in being one of the spiritual trailblazers who’ve been moving ahead of the curve.

It’s not how I would usually think of myself.  And even writing about this makes me realize there’s still a big issue to explore about wanting to always be humble and not take credit for anything “big”.  But I started seeing at least 10 or 12 years ago that some of my thinking about a lot of spiritual things and especially the application of spiritual principles in the world, was not in the same place as other people I knew or other people in general on a similar path.

At first, since I tend to be an outsider, I assumed I was just out of step — as usual.  But then one of the many quite psychic body-workers/healers with whom I’ve worked, commented on me being ahead of the curve on this.  Then, a little over two years ago I wrote about an amazing healing experience with Oshunnike, who made an even more pointed observation while she worked (and I was completely out of it and hadn’t said anything) that I am way out there ahead of where most people are in what I understand and the work I’ve been trying to do and it’s going to be hard for me for a while — and lonely.  She literally pulled this observation out of the air — 🙂 seemingly — as I’d not mentioned anything about this.  Two years ago and it’s still hard…

On the one hand it felt SO good to have this confirmation of feelings I’d barely acknowledged or allowed myself to note and on the other it was hard to accept the idea of me as a trailblazer.  But her words and that thought stayed with me and I’ve realized the truth of it more and more.  My reaction to the U.S. election last year and the aftermath have been bringing increasing clarity to how radically different my understanding is from the way most people see it or react to it.

I’m so grateful that I have friends who “get it” and I’ve been hoping to reach out more toward those who do.  Thus my gratitude is so enormous for having this great conversation show up — with a friend I rarely get to talk with at length — and for the wave of realizations it has brought.  Just having someone talking to me about it made me feel weepy.

Again, one of the things it has me contemplating is how I seem to have gathered a community here in the blogging world of people who get it — and I’m coming to understand it’s possibly the main reason I was drawn to do this.  So again, I’m interested to hear from you all about this trailblazer thing — your experience of being ahead of the curve on understanding how the world works and how far outside the mainstream understanding it is.

I’m wondering if there is some way we can support one another more than by just reading and commenting?  I’m sensing those of us in the advance troops could use some assistance in holding an energy space together, to join our energies in the forward movement to a new age.

What do you all think?

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Still in the in between

I’ve been saying for several years now that I feel like I’m in a transition phase.  After years of almost non-stop emotional processing, spiritual practices and physical healing (all intertwined, of course), the journey finally led me to a place where I had no choice but to give all the changing and releasing time to percolate through and integrate.

To someone inclined to want to accomplish things while living in a culture that almost demands everyone at least appear to be constantly accomplishing things, this phase has seemed very long.  I didn’t imagine it would stretch to years although it makes sense that 20 years worth of transformational work with almost no integration or transition time would land me in a long liminal phase.

In a lovely phone conversation the other day a friend brought up the liminal phase, which set off a round of thinking about the “in between” again.  Her comments on this phase as being one in which you’ve left behind the old you and have yet to see who you are going to be in the next phase (I’m paraphrasing LIBERALLY 😉 ) left me ruminating and seeing new angles to my old musings.

To some extent this began back in 1992 when the conclusion of my Fisher Hoffman process group left me in what our facilitator called “the void“.  I’d set off kundalini and for the next few months as I contemplated all that I’d let go of, I realized I had lost a huge amount of who I’d been and that I no longer knew who I was.

As I’ve continued letting go and transforming, the sense of “who am I now?” has been ongoing.  Not that I don’t still know I love coffee and  yoga and that my general bent is toward liberal/left politics and concern for the welfare of all, etc.  But in other ways I’ve been adrift all these years.  So many things about the nervous, inhibited, angry, sarcastic person I was have shifted, so many thoughts about what I like or want to do have changed, I don’t always have a coherent sense of self.

My friend is in the same place of limbo, between who she used to be an the unknown self she is becoming.  It felt so amazing to hear someone else speak of the same place I almost cried for the joy of feeling less alone.  She also mentioned there are a number of us at this time who are in the forefront of this transition time and many of us are in this in between place.

I thought of my friends in this blogging community and how many of us are on the same page about so many things.  It has me wondering how many of us are feeling we’re in this in between place?  How many are feeling sometimes like you’re out in front, knowing stuff most people around you don’t get yet– and how lonely that is?

Next time: our conversation also covered a bit about this “trailblazer” position some of us are in and it has set off some deep thinking for me..

Dungeon Prompts: Needing Some Inspiration

This week’s Dungeon Prompt:

When you’re feeling down or just need a push forward with your day, where do you look for inspiration?  What drives you, or keeps you smiling?  Or when you’re really down, what keeps you alive, and getting out of bed each morning?  You don’t have to write about a major presence or source of inspiration in your life, but can just tell us about one of the little things that elevate you in some way.

One of the best things about 30+ years of yoga and meditation, as well as a lot of emotional processing thrown in along the way, is that I rarely feel “really down” or depressed.  I DO however struggle with frustration over the long trek with physical ill-health as well as the normal ups and downs of life and have days when I really need to shift.

I have a whole toolkit of cures for what ails me emotionally and/or spiritually, with variations to suit different circumstances:

  1. I start every morning with waking up and aligning my chakras by visualizing the energy spinning in each one from root to crown as soon as I wake up.  It helps me start the day in balance and with more energy.  Then I mentally list a few “gratitudes”.  Some days that’s enough to set the tone all day.
  2. If I’m feeling logy because of the muscles interfering with sleep, I do either the 8 Key Breaths or Flying Crane Chi Gung or the 5 Tibetan Rites or a combination.  They not only balance energy and align the chakras, but open and build the flow of energy so I’m more energized as well as calm and in balance.
  3. If I’m feeling uneasy or anxious, I like to do Yoga Nidra or a series of chants.  My current favorite roster of chants is to say the lovingkindness chant for 10 minutes, then sing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti.  After I practice Yoga Nidra or chanting I feel balanced, calmed and my heart is open and full.  Can’t be open-hearted and anxious at the same time.
  4. When my writing is feeling stuck, I do writing practices a la Natalie Goldberg. Get out a notebook and a pen, pick a topic (usually out of her suggested exercises in Writing Down the Bones or Wild Mind, set timer for 10-20 minutes and let fly.  It doesn’t work if I type, gotta sit down and write by hand.
  5. One of my almost daily practices is to spend some time sitting on our sun porch either with a laptop or a notebook, enjoying the sunniness and looking out into the garden as I work. It gives me a lift every time.
  6. In nice weather one of the best mood-boosters I have is to just go for a short walk someplace that inspires me.  Fortunately there’s a very nice park right behind the houses across the street, so it’s easy.  I also love going to Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate, to walk around on the grounds.  When I’m in Marin there’s a 1-1/2 mile walk in a loop around the hills where I house sit (and used to live) that puts me in a place of joy every time I walk it.
  7. For 2 or 3 years now I’ve been doing a daily e-mail check-in with a long-time (40+ years!) friend.  Each day we say (1) how we’re feeling, (2) what we intend to do that day, (3) three things we’re grateful for, and (4) anything that brought joy.  It really helps to stay mindful, keeps a focus on all the good that’s happening and most especially it is so helpful to have someone  with whom to check in about it all every day.  And I’m very grateful the internet allows us to do this in spite of 400 miles between 🙂

The biggest thing for me is realizing that if something feels “off” then energy is in some way out of balance.  The main focus for me is thus maintaining alignment and balance in my chakras, my energy, my body.  When it’s all open and aligned, it’s just about impossible to feel down (which is not to say that it alleviates personal grief or shock but it does help to keep those things from overwhelming life).

Most of the time I try to rotate among a number of these practices enough to hold a place of equilibrium without having to stop and do one of them to get back on track.  But getting off track is pretty easy; as long as I can stay tuned in enough to realize I need to do something and then to “feel” which practice would serve, being “really down” is an infrequent to nonexistent feeling for me.

Dungeon Prompts: Mission Statement

I’m running behind on everything blog lately so I’m just getting to last week’s Dungeon Prompt and will try to do better with the one that went up today…

If the journey of your life could be boiled down to a particular mission, what would it be?  What has been the primary focus or purpose of your particular birth?  You may believe that all of life is on a big picture path, but I’m asking about your particular journey.  Is there any lesson or goal that has defined the majority of your life?  What is your life’s mission?

Lately this is a good question.  As my long healing journey has progressed I’ve felt less and less sure that any notion I’ve had about my life’s purpose reflects why I’m really here.  That’s a work in progress.

In my youth and early adulthood, I would have unequivocally told you “music”.  My elementary school dreams involved Broadway or being in the newest movie musicals.  Around the time my interest moved more into jazz and rock I realized my beloved Hollywood musicals were pretty much over, so maturing tastes dovetailed with facing reality.  Through those years I also wrote short stories and poetry and pondered a secondary career possibility as a writer.

In my twenties I tried to revive the music love and was lead singer for a band for a short time, but it didn’t work out and I was slowly realizing my many years of studying classical voice left me with a voice that didn’t really fit the style of music I wanted to do.  More important, I could see I didn’t have the kind of “push” it takes to make a big music career.  Scrap that mission.

Having become radicalized in college I put a lot of thought into having a career that would make some kind of difference.  I wound up in law school, which I hated, and then in a short-lived career as an attorney fighting against nuclear power plants.  My writing skills landed me the job of writing all the motions and briefs for my office.  I liked winning those cases and the feeling of having helped to do something good but loathed being a lawyer.  My zeal to be a public interest attorney of any sort died; end of that mission.

In the meantime I’d taken up yoga and meditation, earned a teaching certificate for yoga and regularly spent weekends taking classes on various spiritual topics.  I started putting together a whole toolkit of quick, easy-to-use techniques for reducing tension and using them every day to keep the angst in check.  When I decided I couldn’t take the law I decided to teach stress management.

Around the same time the health issues I’d been fighting for some time turned out to be chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and I reached the point where continuing on a normal work path became impossible.  The next decade-and-a-half was spent juggling between trying to heal, continuing my spiritual and personal growth journey and trying to work as much as my ill health would allow.  I tried stress management, mediation, working as a proofreader and editor for a small publishing company, working part-time for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, wrote a novel, and more.

Throughout these years I kept seeking a career path that felt right for me but none of the hats I wore seemed to be a perfect fit and the health issues interfered increasingly with keeping any kind of regular work schedule. I wound up teaching yoga classes and for myself re-working Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method into specific sets combining his certain of his triggers of release with yoga.  It made major inroads on the fibromyalgia issues. When I realized the power of this movement work I taught more classes using that than straight yoga classes but have never felt it’s my calling to teach movement.  So no mission statement for that except that I’d like to make it available through recordings so others can be helped by it without me having to be the cheerleader.

Eventually some years back I realized the healing had to come first.  That having the energy and the wherewithal to develop any career had to come first.  Eventually as I’ve worked through not only the physical side but also emotional, ancestral, and past life issues related to the tight muscles I realized that for now this healing journey IS my purpose.  And, since I know we are all one, each a part of the whole, I believe my healing helps others heal too.  So I’ve thought of healing as a mission.

I feel very drawn to work for peace and it has informed much of my blogging.  I designed workshops on the “Journey to Peace” but never managed to market them well enough to draw students in numbers  Put on the back burner while I’ve worked hard to complete the muscle issues, the draw is there but not a sense of “how”.

In these turbulent times my sense of wanting to be peace, to be a voice of peace, to impact world peace in some way has only grown.  I’m drawn toward creating a career path that brings the many things I’ve learned over the years together in service of peace.

But this path has meant letting go of so much of who I used to be and led to so many questions about who I really am, what I really love and what I’m really here for that I have no sense of the mission statement for the next phase beyond “serve peace”.  In many ways I see this desire as a maturing and transforming of my earlier desire to do public interest work and how that desire was born of the hippie protests, etc. of college.

So much is changing in me as my body changes, I’m content to see what feels right when the healing process winds down.

Dungeon Prompts: Where the Wild Things Are

Flushing Park

This week’s Dungeon Prompt:

This week’s prompt is:  Where the Wild Things are.

Tell us all about one of the more wilder things you’ve done in your life that looks a little out of place when put up next to the rest of your life’s journey.  Or take it in another direction and tell us about your monsters, or demons.

For most of my life I’ve been pretty inhibited and very conscious of “good behavior” so I’m afraid there’s not much in the way of a wild story to tell. I would say my demons or monsters have largely been internal…  Well, there was that one boss but I think I’ll just let that story go 🙂

I think the most dramatic moment in the process of realizing how much I’ve stood in my own way came in 1990.  It was the year of my 20th high school reunion.  I didn’t go but one of the organizers collected updates from much of the class into a small “book” and we could buy a copy.  After getting mine I decided that I needed to visit, something I’d not done since my parents moved away in 1980.

In downtown Flushing MI

High school was a miserable time for me and I spent graduation day grinning with glee and giddy because I would soon get to leave.  I blamed the town and the school and a bunch of people in the school for my misery.  Over the years my anger and contempt never dimmed.

By 1990, though, I’d been meditating and exploring my psyche for 5 years and when I looked at the book full of the lives of my classmates I felt a shift begin.  So I booked a B&B in a nearby small town and took myself back to Flushing, MI.  I wandered familiar places.  Drove into Flint–having not been back since GM pulled out, a shocking view of decline.  And hour by hour I realized Flushing is a really lovely, really nice little town.

I breathed it in.  I cried.  I grieved for the good times I could have had if only I’d gotten out of my own way.  I remembered the kindnesses of the many nice kids with whom I went to school.  I acknowledged that some of the snotty, mean kids really were snotty and mean 🙂  And I didn’t have to take their mean remarks personally.

And I had good friends there, a couple of whom are still in my life.  As well as a larger group of girls who always invited me to the slumber parties and birthday parties.  I felt so miserable and “outside” I couldn’t perceive the degree to which I’d been included.  And I could see it was my own neurotic introversion that left me dateless and the wallflower who was never invited to a school dance.  Not one.

When I saw clearly how much I’d been the author of my own misery, I felt the whole history change.  My journey through my own roster of demons and monsters turned out to be in early stages at that point but I think that journey home opened a vista for me, revealing how much it changes everything when you change how you think and feel about it.

About 12 years ago I suggested a trip back to my home town to my mother, who was beginning to have trouble negotiating sight-seeing type trips.  She still had quite a number of good friends left in the area and I thought it would be a good idea to visit while we could still see them.

She reluctantly agreed and I led the way, feeling like this was mostly me doing it for her.  But we both had such a good time that we’ve been back every year since (till this one; Mom is not in such good shape to travel…).  The change in perspective I made so long ago served well to let me see and enjoy with new eyes.  And I treasure every visit we’ve made.

I’ve since worked at sorting through my long list of negative beliefs (still a work in progress) and beside my own childhood issues, discovered some demons bestowed upon me by ancestors and past lives.  Every moment of seeing and letting go opens a place of light and transforms my world.

In the meantime, the spiritual teachings I’ve followed have led me to believe there are never monsters “out there”.  Whatever I see that seems wrong or off in a situation or in someone else is there because of something in me.  So now I ask what I hold in me that creates a vision of monsters in the world.  And then I say the ho’oponopono prayer.

Dungeon Prompts: Utopia

I was so surprised and pleased to see a Dungeon Prompt in my Reader (I’ve been a bit behind so I missed the first one) after Sreejit took a long hiatus.

This week’s prompt:

We all have a different idea of what the best possible world would look like. People are wholly interested in different things and have different ideas of what a good life would entail. Our religion, politics, and ethics are constantly at odds with others. But forget all of this for a moment and tell us all what your particular idea of utopia looks like. What is your best possible world?

I’m not sure how deep my answer can be as I’ve long puzzled over what utopia would really be.  When I was younger and read Thomas More’s Utopia and other such explorations, I always thought the worlds they created seemed kind of like the Stepford Wives.  You know, uniform in a creepy way.  And I’ve never figured out how to create a “perfect” world without imposing dictatorial sameness on everyone.

A world filled with compassion and lovingkindness would be my primary goal.  A world full of people with open hearts and absolute kindness toward all life.  How to get there…  a whole other question…

After reaching compassion, I actually think diversity in every way about everything is a good thing.  I think much of what makes the world amazing is different cultures, different traditions, different walks of life.  Just takes learning how to celebrate our differences instead of fighting about them.  Easy, huh?

I think Denmark has done a wonderful job of creating economic safety without demanding that everyone have exactly the same amount, so I’m inclined to favor some sort of Universal Income and Universal Healthcare and other safety nets that mean everyone maintains a certain level of comfort.  Having watched the failures of many attempts at communism, always accompanied by cruel and tyrannical imposition of authoritarian dictates, I’m skeptical about complete and exact economic equality as a goal.  So my utopian world involves no one in poverty or dire straits, everyone comfortable, and beyond that many levels of income.  It feels like that allows more freedom for people to have varied interests and values.

A key element of my utopia would be a world population with great care and concern for the environment, in which every country, every city, every family has adopted the best practices of sustainability, conservation, etc. possible.  And to me that would include going back to the 1980’s goal of zero population growth, which is needed as much as it ever was, though not spoken about any more.

All levels of government would operate from a space of lovingkindness and compassion.  No decisions would ever be made from a mental space, from an angry place or out of fear.  Politicians would meditate and move together into heart chakra before ever voting on anything.  I really believe if everyone made every decision from the heart instead of the head, we would all take care of one another, we would all be kind and loving and peace would reign.

And that begins with me.  That begins with you.  Each heart opening and filling with compassion, one heart at a time.

Waking up: time to change perception

With increasing certainty I’m seeing how deeply most of us are captured by a set of widely-held beliefs and how hard it is to step outside the frame to see any other world view as true.  I’m feeling strongly now is the time to open to other truths and to be willing to hold our ground while standing outside the normal thinking.

Our perceptions of how violent the world is, how high the chances of being a crime victim, our sense of terrorism in the world and more are shaped by the stories the media and our leaders have perpetuated.  It’s ingrained in us that the world operates according to these accepted stories but if you let yourself open to other stories you will see other truths exist and are ignored.

I’ve previously written about my personal experience with studying crime statistics in graduate school.  Details are in the previous post so for now let’s just say the statistics on probability of victimhood have remained the same for decades — stretching back to at least early 20th century USA; no more chance in the 60’s or 70’s or now of being the victim of any of the major crimes* than in the 30’s or 40’s.  You know, back when people didn’t lock their doors and weren’t afraid of crime.

I tell people about this often and I see them startle and then brush it off and return to the now-ingrained perception that crime is getting worse all the time.  Just a small shift from reporting probabilities to reporting gross numbers (which of course go up as the population grows) combined with the rise of a national media and a fascination for bad news changed our perception from one of safety to one of fear.  Perception of truth changed.  What was actually happening changed not at all.

I come back to this often since I know the data so well and it has been a touchstone for me in awareness of how our beliefs can be shaped by which facts those in power choose to present.  I’m not saying journalists are evil manipulators.  I think they’re immersed in the same belief system, so what they see is shaped by the same forces and then the folks they work for are encouraging the parade of horror stories because it sells better.  And law enforcement has every reason to encourage the mis-perception because it garners them bigger budgets.

Armed with that knowledge and greatly helped by the Internet I’ve been able to see the same thing happens on many fronts.  Take, for instance, the widespread hysteria over terrorism.  Check out the graph below and note the probability of being a victim of a terrorist attack.

Chance of Death Graph

Graphically displayed you can see the widespread fear of being a victim of terrorist violence is so far out of proportion to the likelihood as to be ludicrous.

People should be feeling terrified of heart disease and dieting and exercising to save themselves.  But the media doesn’t fan the flames of fear about heart disease, they prefer the giant drama of terrorist attacks.  [For more info on these probabilities, see this article.]  It’s time for us to stop being mesmerized by false perceptions fostered by the media and government and really see what merits our fears and what is unworthy of our awareness.

If you turn your attention in the other direction and actively look for stories of nonviolence, you will see there are groups and individuals creating nonviolent movements and performing nonviolent acts all around the world.  It just doesn’t make the mainstream news.

This video in which Julia Bacha discusses the price of focusing on violence instead of nonviolence is well worth the ten or so minutes it takes to watch.

 

When I started searching for positive news to share every day (see post) I started turning off the hypnotic suggestions winding constantly through my brain and stepping into a new sense of the world.  I don’t have to sit around envisioning an imaginary world full of good people doing good things in some mystical future.  I see a world full of good people doing good things right here, right now.

Many things came together for me at once.  The sorry result of the U.S. election led me to institute lovingkindness practice.  A sense in my personal journey that it was time to stop eradicating issues and start creating the next phase led to positive guided meditations, etc.  Distress over the negative views on FB led to searching every day for good news.  After some months I realized the persistent change of my focus awakened a new, deep-seated view of the propensity for goodness being enacted every day in all parts of the world.

As I pointed out in another post, the constant doom and gloom about the environment can be seen from an uplifting view — backed by a great deal of science — that changes are already happening which, if current progress continues, will reverse global warming.

The web now allows us (see links at bottom) to see every-day acts of kindness, movements to help the environment, to create peace, etc.**  Mainstream media choose to focus on 5% of what’s happening and we the people encourage them by buying the parade of horrors over the good news.

We can make the choice to put our attention on the 95% who are doing good or are at least benign.  We can stop supporting the parade of horrors.  It’s up to us to create the change.  It’s time to snap out of the hypnotic fascination with mainstream news and views and open our eyes to other truths.

The problem is I’m also reading about changing people’s minds and have read many research articles informing me it’s not so easy.  Once people have made up their minds about a belief — regardless of it’s truth — they really don’t want to change it.  Ra of Rarasaur put up the cutest and most fun version of this info, a cartoon/info post on The Oatmeal.  The upshot is I’m all fired up about changing perspective and stepping outside the currently accepted assumptions about the state of the world and I don’t know what to do to help.

I know most of my readers are already here on this.  I’m a little bit hoping for some help in spreading the word.  But even more I”m hoping for ideas of what we who are awake can do to help change enough peoples’ perception to create a new paradigm.  For supporting one another in stepping outside the depressing views so widely held and holding firm in the stance that other, more powerful, truths are out there and growing stronger.  If the majority actually paid attention to this alternate reality, the world would change.


*Unless you’re a black or brown male between the ages of 15 and 25 and living in an inner city.  Those chances of being murdered are way up.

**Three places to find good news: