Faith comes knocking

For many years now I’ve lived in two worlds when it comes to faith.  On the one hand, I’ve moved more and more into a space in which I feel the energy of all that is and how we’re all connected to one another and the big energy of the Universe.  And I believe the Universe operates on love and wants the best for us.

On the other, when it comes to certain aspects of my personal life, i have no faith at all in a benevolent God or universal Energy that specifically looks out for or assists me.  I realized quite a few years ago I lost faith as a small child when my family was working hard at shutting down the essence of me and I felt God abandoned me.

I’ve been working ever since I noticed its absence on finding that faith while pretty much unsure how you do that.  Doing my practices and lots of affirmations have helped move me in the direction of finding faith.  And to be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve given it a lot of thought.

Then late last week I had two posts about Jesus in my feed on the same day.  Jamie at Sophia’s Children reblogged Defiance, Introducing Mark’s Jesus (which I then reblogged here).  Cynthia Sue Larson posted an interview she did with Gardner Sylvester on his book, The First Great Commandment, concerning his research on the secret code of the Bible through Jesus’ words.

These lovely pieces arrived at a time when I’ve been feeling increasingly put out by the folks who call themselves Christians but quote only the Old Testament (and often mistakenly think Jesus said those things) and seem unfamiliar with the New Testament.  Which is kind of odd since I wasn’t that into it when I grew up Presbyterian…

But my spiritual path has included Unity and the notion of Christ Consciousness as well as explorations of the Gnostic Gospels and other similar teachings, all of which has led to a strong feeling about the presence of an energy in the Universe associated with Christ and love.  And somewhere in there I keep thinking being Christian should be based on love.

It felt so heavenly to read those two posts with their beautiful takes on the love and kindness of Jesus and what it means.  Hours later I reflected on the synchronicity of having them both show up a short time apart and how something fresh breathed through me.

As I contemplated the great loving presence of Christ Consciousness and then the Christ grid Steve Nobel brings down from the sun so often in his meditations, I felt that light fill and surround me as a palpable presence and in that presence I felt safe and protected and understood how it feels to be “in faith”.

I can’t say it is now a permanent state.  But I keep being able to tap into that presence of light and remind myself I am safe and protected.  There are issues of self worth still to heal and I’d say a vestige of the “God abandoned me” issue.  But I’m working.

Today I found another, fairly new, Steve Nobel meditation for clearing fear.  One of the most powerful meditations I’ve done.  I particularly like that he goes through a number of different clearings several times each.  Felt like I shifted a lot of energy, moving even closer to the place of faith where fear can’t dwell…

 

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Sage Advice 1: balance first

A big part of my journey has involved physical issues.  I’ve mentioned my journey through alternative medicine occasionally and people have expressed interest in hearing about what I’ve learned.  So I decided to start occasionally posting “Sage Advice”.

When I first started having issues in the 80’s, western medicine held quite firm on insisting neither chronic fatigue nor fibromyalgia existed.  I knew something was wrong and when I grew tired of hearing them suggest I see a shrink, I turned to alternative medicine.

My first foray into the alternative medicine world was acupuncture, a modality I love and stayed with regularly for 15 or so years.  One of the things I’ve loved most about alternative practitioners is they always try to make sure I understand what’s happening and what I can do to help and my first practitioner, Chicago’s Jody Speckman (still in practice, for any of you in the area) taught me SO much.

One arena of advice has been on my mind a lot lately.  When it came to many things to do with what I ate or drank regularly, she told me not to try to stop cold turkey.  It’s mostly a path of frustration.  And the most unusual corollary:  as you move more into a state of balance your craving for the things that are harmful will naturally fall away.  She suggested I cut back as best I could but to let the desire fade as healing proceeded.

I’d always thought cold turkey seemed like a goofy plan and I was so struck by the idea that it’s more important to work toward a place of greater balance/healthiness.  In this case the acupuncture and a lot of horrible Chinese herbs made into “teas” were doing the work.

As you know, a whole lot of stuff was way off kilter for me, so it’ taken a long time to reach the place where I absolutely see the truth of her advice.  I’ve been slowly changing various dietary habits ever since I started seeing her, especially since she found I have mild allergies to wheat and dairy.  But it took years before shifting those habits combined with therapies to get toward that balance.

Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that I’m more naturally attracted to healthier food.  Not that I don’t still love some fried chicken or a chocolate sundae, but far more often I want something healthier.  And for the first time ever I’ve been drawn to eat kale-broccoli slaw or half a grapefruit for a snack instead of some dark chocolate or a handful of potato chips.

This change arrives at the moment when all the years of alternative therapies and medicines and my own spiritual and physical activities have paid off in feeling better than I have in years. Not sure Jody foresaw it would be 30 years down the road before I hit the place of balance to which she referred 🙂 , but it’s so true that when your health is in better shape you tend to crave more of the things that keep it healthy.

It seems such a kinder way to treat yourself.  I’ve watched so many people struggle with going cold turkey off of things and then feeling depressed by failure, a slower gentler approach makes so much more sense to me.  And then it’s so easy when you have improved enough to have healthier cravings.

So first advice:  work toward balance and then watch your habits change to hold the new, better feeling.

The need to look beneath

In the aftermath of Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s suicides I’m seeing a spate of articles and info pieces on suicide prevention.  The thing that always strikes me when I see analyses of not only suicide but also opiate abuse, addictions or other types of “dis-ease” of any sort, is that no one wants to talk about what I think is the heart of the matter.

In the “first world” we have cut ourselves off from nature, from our essential divinity and thereby from connection to our own souls. Spiritual types talk about it sometimes but the “experts” in these fields talk about these issues as problems with reasoned solutions, instead of ever acknowledging how broken we are by our basic culture.

Some 30 years ago, when I realized how much alcoholism there is on my family tree (not in my immediate family but at the level of aunts and uncles and great grands of various levels…  rampant) I attended a few al anon meetings to explore whether I might have been affected.

At the time, immersed in examining how we create reality, I was horrified at the constant repetition of negative affirmations throughout the 12-step programs.  “I am a drunk.” “I am a liar”.  “I am powerless…”  But even more, I was perturbed by the lack of acknowledging soul and our ability to tap into our own spirit and be transformed.

Over the years, as I have explored ever more deeply into spirit, I have also noted how wounded so many in our society seem to be because of being cut off from nature and its cycles and thus from their own connection to All That Is.  I’ve kept waiting for the “experts” to understand how central that disconnect is to so many of our so-called diseases.  I see the same issues deep within a lot of mental health problems.

So many solutions seem to just side-step the real issue; even to obscure the real issue by providing distractions from ever looking into the true heart of the matter.  Our hearts need healing.  Our souls need healing.  And they don’t heal without a long tough journey through the stuff we don’t want to see.

I’m not sure how we nudge that change into being.  But always I come back to knowing we all vibrate in the same web of being.  Every time one of us heals something in our own hearts we add to the healing of all.  Be the love.  Be the peace.  Heal your own heart.

Defiance: Introducing Mark’s Jesus

Sophia’s Children blog today directed us to this post about Jesus. I’m so tired of hearing misinformation about Jesus from people who claim to love Him, it was a breath of fresh air to read someone explaining the Gospel of Mark in a way that expresses the essence of the Jesus I know: don’t judge, turn the other cheek, be love, be love, be love

innerwoven

What follows is a “bloggified” version of my sermon from last Sunday, June 3rd.

* * * * *

Today we begin our summer sermon series entitled “Defiance: Challenging the Norm.” We will focus on Jesus’ radical, counter-cultural life and the ways he defied social norms, religious traditions, and theological expectations. We’ll be using for this exploration the gospel of Mark.

Mark will reveal to us a Jesus offering hope for the abundant life, convincing people that he was the promised Messiah, spending time with disreputable people, challenging the social conventions of his day, healing, teaching, eating and drinking, praying, and teaching his disciples to do the same.

 So, when we hear the word “defiance,” what comes to mind?

The stubborn two-year-old who sits pouting, arms folded, at the kitchen table because he didn’t get his way?

The angry teenager who shouts, “I hate you!” just before slamming shut her…

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Oy the energy… the transition… the cranky

 

Energetically speaking, for me there’s so much going on these days I have trouble deciding: which kind of energy, what started it, whether it’s me or some cosmic shift…  The unwinding is opening nadis and letting prana flow and grow.  Kundalini seems to be back (or maybe never went away…).  Supposedly cosmic forces are moving us along and flooding us with energy big time.

Besides being “buzzy” with gigantic amounts of energy running through me, lately I’ve been noticing a certain cranky factor.  It shows up just in certain situations and the rest of the time isn’t apparent.  It particularly shows up when I’m watching TV and some type of character I don’t like is a major part of the story.  Types whom I’ve always found mildly irritating are suddenly launching me into fury.

For instance, on NCIS LA, one of the two new characters this season I just never much liked (the other I adored though according to the cliffhanger she may not be back next season).  Most of the season I just kind of ignored her.  But in the finale she played a big part and every officious, obnoxious character trait (not to mention her whistling S’s) seemed exaggerated and especially annoying.

I spent the whole episode waving my fists and shouting, “would somebody just please shoot her (the character, not the actress) and put us all out of our misery???!!!”  “Or at least put tape over her mouth so we don’t have to listen to her?”  Now, it wouldn’t have been all that unusual for me to roll my eyes, grunt, and fast forward every time she showed up.  But shouting and shaking fists, that’s a bit unusual.  And as a basic pacifist, pretty odd for me to want somebody shot…

This total impatience for characters who offend me — and officiousness, which has been a very popular character trait the last couple of years, is something that really bugs me — accompanied by a sense of fury, is kind of new.  I’m aware of the spike in emotion every time it happens.

And then there’s #45.  I didn’t like him long before he ran for President and I’ve certainly been annoyed by plenty since his election.  But now when he shows up on my TV screen, I start gagging and crossing my fingers in the sign to ward off evil.  Again, some unpleasant muttering and eye rolling wouldn’t have been unusual in the past.  On my good days followed by saying the lovingkindness chant.  But now I feel like I’m erupting.

I’m trying to decide whether these sudden flares of temper are reflecting something in me that’s clearing.  Or, since I’m inclined to pick up on others’ energy, am I picking up on the general atmosphere of discord and working it out through my reactions to what I see on screen?  Or are some of these cosmic energies that are supposedly flooding us these days creating bigger emotional reactions than usual?  Is the constant big flow of energy creating irritation?  All of the above?

It’s been going on at least a couple of months so I know most things about alignments of stars, etc. have shifted more than once while this has been going on which has me I’m assuming it’s not about the movement of planets and such.

Since lots of you in this community are following all this stuff about this time of transition and are sensitive to energy, I’m curious whether anyone else is experiencing weird stuff like this?  Or are aware of info about the transition that would explain any of this.  Or just, you know, have any thoughts?

J2P: Moving toward a loving heart

I know, long time since you’ve seen a Journey 2 Peace post.  Peace, love and compassion have been on my mind lately — or always? — and I’m finally seeing more essays in which people are calling for the power of love as the force we need to change, so I felt moved to return to J2P.

To me there are two parts to creating a peaceful, loving heart:

  1. clear away any negatives, lower energies, issues from your being
  2. fill yourself with love, raise your energy vibration

I’ve been working at both the clearing and the filling/raising for years.  Recently I’ve been a bit more interested in the second part than the first, but last year after being introduced to Steve Nobel’s meditations, I fell in love and in part because they address both.

For nearly a year now I’ve been trying out various of his meditations, repeating some numerous times and always intrigued to try another new one.  One of the things I really love about them is that virtually every one starts with some amount of clearing old energies.  Some spend quite a bit of the meditation just on clearing.  Some clear first and then work on raising energy or filling with love, etc.  Some mainly balance chakras but do some negativity and lower energy clearing as part of working on each one.

All of them leave me feeling energized and elevated.  Some of them rock me for days as the clearing and filling work their way through.

The latest one I’ve fallen in love with is The Archangel Chamuel Transmission:  Becoming a Lighthouse of Love and Healing Light.  Everything I aim for all in one meditation.

 

The right stuff finding me

Throughout my journey I’ve been kind of up and down about how well I pick up on my inner voice — and whether I listen to it when I do hear it…  In a couple of arenas though, I consistently both hear and receive/act on the messages:  which alternative health therapies, therapists, supplements, etc. are the next best step for me and which spiritual teachers, classes, etc. are for me.

In the last couple of months I’ve had several alternative medicines tap me on the shoulder and trying them has been life changing.  Several people over the years have expressed interest in hearing more about some of the alternative health paths I’ve explored, so I thought I would share these latest additions.

Catnip Tincture

First, my friend Hanna started touting catnip tincture and gave me a sample from a recipe made by a friend.  She offered it for sleep and, while it does ultimately help me with sleep, nothing is enough to overcome the muscles in my face yanking.  But I quickly noted how very calm and peaceful I felt and then that I slept a bit longer and more deeply once the yanking stopped.

I googled and found recipes and made a batch of my own.  Initially I just used it once or twice a week, especially if I faced a busy day and wanted to be more sure of getting some rest.  But lately I’ve been taking some every night and have had more sleep in a week or 10 days than I’ve normally had in more like a month.

Nasaya Oil

Facebook has figured out that I’m interested in alternative remedies, so sometimes I see something there that’s new to me.  Most of the time I shrug and move on, but once in a while something grabs me in that “knowing” sense so I do some research and nasaya oil was one of them.

This winter I had an unusual run of allergy issues and just as I was wondering what alternative thing I could try — besides the nasal cup I already use daily — nasaya oil popped up.  It’s an ayurvedic formula of essential oils and you just put a drop on your finger and rub it around a bit in your nostrils.

Not only did it clear my unusual sinus/allergy problems in winter, but now that we’re in the spring pollen season which is often miserable for me, I’m having no problems at all.  Not even on the days when the pollen count is super high.  If I start to itch, I can rub a drop around and in minutes, problem solved.

It’s so effective I have a tendency to forget to use it every day and the impact even lasts pretty well through several days of spacing it out.  And as soon as any symptoms arrive and remind me to use it, one drop erases the symptoms.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha appeared on Facebook one day, felt drawn to it, and immediately set off to read about it.  There’s a nice piece on Chopra’s site and also a good explanation here.  I was excited by what I read.  While most customer reviews rave about its stress-relieving effects, it was the thyroid and adrenal benefits that roused my interest, along with its boost for weak immune system, and antiinflammatory impacts for my mom’s arthritis.

Last year the muscles around my thyroid loosened enough for me to spontaneously lose quite a bit of weight as my thyroid began to function again.  I still have some symptoms of low thyroid but I figured with the looser muscles there’d be a chance a supplement would help.

My various acupuncturists used to treat me often for weak adrenals and sometimes their needles and/or herbs gave a boost but once I found out the real problem was muscles squeezing all my glands and organs, I understood why none of it ever lasted.

Recently the muscles squeezing my kidneys and adrenals have finally loosened a bit.  Seemed like a perfect moment to see if ashwagandha’s adrenal benefits could give me a boost.  After a bunch of research on the “best” ones, I chose Nutraherbal Organic Ashwagandha with Black Pepper Extract.

After looking at lots of them I realized they come in many different numbers of mg and with wildly differing suggested daily doses (mg wise).  I picked this one not only because it made several “best” lists but it’s also one of the highest dosages.  I started off trying just one of the two suggested daily capsules and it has turned out to be plenty for me — in fact two seems like too much, moving me from energized to feeling a little hyper.

Many sources told me it could take a month or two to decide whether it helped, but I felt energized an hour after taking the first one.  Since then I have been building more energy during the day, going to sleep earlier at night (that one still needs a lot of adjusting but any change helps!), staying asleep for more hours (helped along by the catnip tincture).

Back when I was getting regular acupuncture (and the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia were FAR worse), I’d get a boost from each treatment  or new herb try that would give me a few days of pretty good energy.  Since stopping acupuncture in favor of body work for the muscles, I have rarely had any of those “energy” days.  And once the unwinding started interfering with sleep, almost no days of feeling energetic.

As the muscle stuff has gotten better, I’ve been working a bit at re-building stamina and have been pleased with small increments of improvement, but most of the time I’ve just felt exhausted.  I’ve been taking Ashwagandha for about six weeks now and energy has been slowly building.

I’m regularly staying a bit busier during the day than I’d been able to be for years, which has been helping the stamina building process.  I haven’t felt this good in decades — and to be honest the last time I had this long a sustained period of feeling energetic, it was mostly thanks to caffeine and nicotine– combined with being completely neurotic and anxiety ridden– pumping me up.

Ashwagandha so far has exceeded my expectations, bearing out once again how well my instincts operate for this kind of thing.  I’ve been waiting for years for all the alternative treatments and therapies to finally bring me some energy back.

Without all that came before, I doubt the Ashwagandha would be having this dramatic impact, so I don’t credit it alone, but wow, how perfect a tap from the Universe this was.