I like my aging face

For some months now I’ve felt like I’ve been in some sort of hibernation/incubation mix, drawn to studying up on a bunch of current events issues and unsure what’s next.  Finally in the last couple of weeks a couple of epiphanies have arrived.  The first will take several posts so I’m writing up the second one to open.

Lately a number of articles and insights about aging have cropped up, during a spell when I’ve often enjoyed my graying hair in the mirror as well as appreciating my aging face.  They’ve had me contemplating myself as an aging woman.

Time Stopped

Aging has been an odd process for me.  Like many with a long-term ailment like chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia, in many ways my life froze at the point in my mid-thirties when normal life stopped.  For many years I had trouble conceiving of myself as having moved anywhere past that age.

At the same time, the process of moving toward wellness included lots and lots of bodywork and a faithful yoga practice combined with some other movement practices.  Once the process of aging caught up with me enough that I could no longer hold an illusion of being 34 🙂 I had transformed my body from stiff and pained and barely mobile to strong and lithe and flexible.

So I find myself at 66 with a body that feels younger than it did in my thirties and a face that clearly says “66” in a life that felt like a couple of decades went missing.

“Not Fair”

Clearly somewhere along the way I drifted from feeling 34 to seeing the aging reality in the mirror.  Having, in most conventional senses, lost 25 or so years, my initial reaction was, “Not fair!”

Alternating amongst angry and mournful and denying, I grappled with “losing” most of the middle of life and finding myself old and still struggling to get past all the health and emotional issues   Not fair!

Again, because my body was coming back to life and my muscles were serving me better than ever, denial became an easy refuge.  As long as I didn’t look in the mirror, I felt so much better it was hard to reconcile the “old” thing with the state of my physical being.

I never landed on anger or grief or denial for long and through it all I could manage to look at what I accomplished during those years and have a little re-think.

I Earned This Face

I can’t remember how many years ago I quit dying my hair (I’d gone prematurely white around my face in my early 30’s and, like so many, once I started, I kept going too long), but an appreciation of the gray look has been growing ever since.

Lately, as mentioned, I’ve been seeing a lot of photos and posts about amazing “older” women.  Soaking in the tub one recent day and pondering some of these “signs” I flashed to the image of my long graying hair when it’s down and my face with its wrinkles and the deep circles under my eyes that tell me my kidneys are still being squeezed by muscles and I’m not getting enough sleep.

Suddenly I felt love.  I earned this face.  When I look at the photos above I see a progression that may not be as visible to those who haven’t lived it, but to me is clear.

The toddler me is still open and bright; it’s a photo taken before I shut down.

By the time of the graduation photo taken at 17, my face is frozen and the muscle issues have already pulled my eyes back farther into my head than they should be.

The next photo, at 45-ish, was taken after I’d been doing spiritual work for 10 or so years, after going through the Fisher-Hoffman process work and I can see a little more openness, but, not having started work on the facial muscles, my eyes have pulled even farther back.

In the final photo — from last week — I see a face much more open.  My eyes have moved farther forward.  Not all the way yet, as final recalcitrant core muscles continue to work out of the web behind my eyes, but they’ve moved and appear more open again. Still in progress, but a visible confirmation of accomplishment.

I worked hard to move from the girl with the frozen face to the aging woman with masks removed and brighter eyes  I’ve faced into dark depths and wandered down entangled pathways from which I could not see a way forward.

To the outer world my life moved nowhere except from one U.S. state to another to another, but in my essence, at the core of my being, I have traversed a thousand miles of wilderness, facing down the lions and tigers and bears.

At 66 I stand on the brink of being the healthiest I have perhaps ever been.  I’ve jettisoned neuroses and useless beliefs and large pieces of what I thought was my personality.  I’m still not positive where the next phase will find me but I know I’m finally going to be living life as me and on my terms.

I earned this face.

Compassion for the Unlikeable

In my last post I explored the puzzling contradictions of the right wing evangelical movement.  It’s easy for liberals and leftists and spiritual types who pursue love and peace to shake their fists in fury and despise the hatefulness and hypocrisy rampant in the white nationalist propensities of so many folks who call themselves Christians.

Except fist shaking and fury are, you know, hateful too.  I’m guilty of it and up to a point I see it as a good thing to initially feel angry when people lack humanity and are prepared to sacrifice the lives of every group they don’t like.

But at some point it seems to me true compassion requires a step back and the application of humanitarian instincts even to those who seem to have no compassion of their own.  Brotherly love isn’t just for those with whom it’s easy to empathize.  At its heart it requires the ability to dig deep and find love for everyone, even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard.

I see the hatefulness of the right wing as arising from huge fear.  It would be tempting to offer my theories as to why they’re so afraid (and trust me, I have some), but I also feel like Right Listening requires us to engage in a conversation with them that helps them to dig deep and offer their own truth about fear or to tell us it’s something else.

And then to ask them what would help to assuage the fear. Discuss programs and possibilities and really hear their input instead of the usual pattern of designing a program from outside and imposing it on people without finding out what they want.

At this point, like many I know, I’d pretty much vote for anybody not the guy we’ve got now, but I wish we’d see some of the liberals putting some attention on healing our great divide by turning some compassion toward the “other side”.

Unconditional Compassion

Ever since the election, it’s seemed to me that the liberal left (and I’m a member) has been patting themselves on the back and feeling self-righteous because they’re the people of compassion and caring.  And the other side are evildoers and deserving of hatred.  It bothers me, because my understanding of true compassion is that it’s unconditional.

I’m a work in progress when it comes to living with compassion; not claiming to be operating from the ideal place.  But I’ve contemplated it, done practices to develop it within and read a lot of the thoughts and wisdom of people who have mastered it better than I and I think I understand the basic idea that true compassion doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t see an “other”.

Hanging around calling people idiots or stupid or worse demonstrates that you are just as hateful as they are  It sure doesn’t argue for your great sense of compassion.

When I look at some of the hatefulness and dip into my heart and sense of compassion, I see people who are totally frightened.  I don’t know why or have the answers that will end their fears, but I know that understanding the fear and figuring out how to address it is more likely to shift their terrified and hateful responses to the world than calling them stupid.

To me the biggest failure of democrats and the left has been the absence of using their hearts to explore how to address the fears of those who become self-protective and lash out at those they wrongfully blame for their troubles.

But while political types are working on their idea of change, I keep clearing every issue I find within myself.  I keep meditating and chanting and working to raise my vibration.  Because in the end the one significant contribution each of us can make to the collective energy that is All of Us as One is to raise our own energy.

Every time I shout at the television or shake my fist at one of the candidates, it means I still have anger to clear.  It means I still have more chanting to do.

Every time we lift ourselves another notch in vibration, we lift the world a little bit.  If a million of us raise our energy, we change the world.  Be the peace.  Live with compassion that knows no other nor any conditions, but is given freely to all.

Something’s Calling?

Barbara Franken of Me, My Magnificent Self has invited a third round of posts on Awakening Experiences which will be made into another e-book. This entry is perhaps more about the next stage of my journey than awakening, but I see it as describing another step forward in awareness.

As indicated in my last post I’ve been sporadically contemplating “What’s next?”. The question crops up periodically as I’ve been tired of this healing thing for a long time and ready to move forward. But to what?

It’s not that I hang around constantly fretting over the future. But this whole journey started as a way for me to learn not only to live a happier life but to find a career path that felt like me after a lifetime of trying to please everyone else. I rarely liked the choices made for others and I’d lost any sense of who I was and what I wanted to do. So I do have an interest in moving forward.

I’ve joked many times, if I’d realized at the beginning the journey would lead me into so many deep hollows and twisty byways I probably wouldn’t have started. Along the way, the spiritual tools my early mentors handed me wound up adding spirituality to the journey; I admit it was not part of my original quest. The spiritual side leaves me aware there’s a flow and life is easier when you connect with it. And I keep getting glimpses — “knowing”– or flashes of insight about where the current is heading, so I’m trying to interpret and understand.

Called to Teach?

Early on writing felt like my calling and I spent a long time working on unlocking my inner writer. Something I did easily and naturally as a child and teenager eluded me. While I pursued the idea of writing fiction, various prescient teachers intertwined with insightful flashes of my own to suggest a different path.

In the mid-90’s, several of my spiritual teachers started dogging me about how they knew I’m a leader and here to teach. A couple of them bugged me periodically about getting out there and teaching. I could sense the core of truth in their reading of me but also had no idea what to teach nor, as it turned out, how to teach 🙂

Eventually I decided that maybe teaching through my writing answered the calling, got help creating a web site and started posting “Tips for the Spiritual Journey”. Which was fun to write but led nowhere, to no audience…

Called to Journey for Peace

Moving ahead to the mid -aughts, a friend with awesome right listening skills gently probed with ever more deepening questions until I realized I felt called to work for peace. Some time later my “Journey to Peace” class was formulated. I’d also been trying to teach some right speech classes.

Many of the people who took the classes said they got a lot out of it but I rarely drew more than 1-3 at a time. It took several years to learn enough about the rhythm and flow of teaching to structure the classes with a good mix of lecture and practice. But the classes were costing me more often than they made any money and I was reaching so few people it seemed pointless.*

In the meantime I’d developed my movement classes — which began purely as an aid to my own muscle issues — and taught yoga and my own movement stuff to the same pitiful results. The efforts reached a point where almost simultaneously the unwinding muscles in my head reached a debilitating pinnacle and I threw in the towel on teaching classes.

Somewhere in the midst of that, I wound up guided to start this blog and thought perhaps it was my teaching path. And then when I collected a crowd of lovely folks who already know what I’m teaching but didn’t seem to reach anyone else, I gave up thinking of the blog as the conduit for teaching.

Ahead of the curve

Several years ago I had a breakthrough three-hour session with local healer Osunnike. One of the most profound moments I didn’t completely understand at the time, except that it was key and I’ve kept coming back to it.

In my memory she actually stopped for a moment when she picked up on this piece but it may have just felt so important to me that I ceased noticing her ongoing healing. Suddenly she started telling me she could see how far ahead of the curve I am on a lot of things and how hard it is for me to be trying to get it out there when most people don’t understand my message. She sensed great loneliness and sadness that few were understanding what I could see clearly. And she told me the day was coming when people would be ready to hear me.

At the time I was working on getting my movement classes out there and feeling this area wasn’t ready for it, so I asked if that was what she meant. She said it was only a part of it; there were many ways in which my teaching at the time was ahead of general understanding. I wasn’t sure I understood, partly because calling myself “ahead of the curve” sounded arrogant or beyond where I could see myself at the time.

When I wrote about the experience I didn’t say much about that piece of it because I needed time to let it sink in and to understand it better. Lately, as the muscles blocking my third eye have been opening, I’m getting more flashes of “knowing” and moments of sudden insight.

Among the insights I’ve been sensing: (1) the bigger part of what Osunnike meant referred to my efforts on what it takes to move toward peace; and (2) my writing here about peace and some of the things I’ve been trying to say about women in my women’s issues series will soon be understood and this long spell of feeling like an unheard failure will be over.

Near the time of these insights, I spoke to fellow blogger Linda, of litebeing chronicles and she mentioned my writings on peace. She told me she follows lots of blogs on spiritual topics but nowhere else did she see a discussion of peace quite like mine. And she encouraged me to writing about it. It dovetailed with my growing sense of being “out there” in what I’m saying. But I could also see if I keep on writing then when people are ready to hear this, a big body of work will already be there for them.

All of this has me contemplating the blog again and ruminating on peace and what we can do from here. I’m seeing this as fulfilling the teaching path so many mentors foresaw long ago. And connecting Osunnike’s insights to the “leader” part of their insights. The threads of teaching and writing joining the thread of thinking ahead of the curve…

Right now I’m just still moving through the last stage of the healing journey. Impatient, obviously 🙂 But I like the sense of direction as I flow toward the next phase. Maybe the exact place I’ve been meant to head all along?


*A few students have told me the class affected them deeply and continues to be an impact so I also reflect on the possibility those few were the only ones I was meant to teach at the time…

Being Peace: Where’s Your Focus

Louise Hay Affirmation

People keep telling me how bad the world is, how depressing, violent, etc.  And I keep trying to tell everyone it really is NOT.  For some time now I’ve been actively seeking positive news (see previous post) and, in doing so, have discovered the world is full of amazing and wonderful people accomplishing amazing and wonderful things every day!  It really comes down to a choice we all make about where we put our focus.  And why.

Governments and mainstream media have their own reasons for focusing on negative stories.  The fear they create justifies big budgets for police and military, the media keep people stirred up and it sells more of their product(s).  Because society has accepted these views and continues to support those who foment them, the negativity just continues.

I’ve embedded this video several times now because I feel it’s such an important message (and it’s only 10 minutes). She’s exploring the impact of having all attention on negative news and suppressing the multitudes of stories of people working for peace, helping the environment, making scientific breakthroughs, etc.  The negativity keeps people divided, which only helps those in power to keep their power and to keep the rest of us dis-empowered, poor, struggling…

Even among people I know who are deeply spiritual and well aware of the power of positivity, there are those who are caught in a cycle of doom and gloom about the current state of the world.  One thing I’ve learned in many years of seeking is this:  when people are stuck on an issue like that, whether personal or political or affecting all humanity, somewhere in them is an issue fueling their negative focus.

I’m putting several positive stories a day on Facebook, so many of the folks who are staying negative have an opportunity each day to look in a different direction.  But they don’t.  Why choose to focus on bad news and refuse to notice the good?

So I’m thinking these days about questions like:

  • what are you getting from holding onto this fear/anger?
  • what do you believe about life or the world that holds you in this place and when did that belief begin?
  • what can be done to heal the negative thinking patterns and/or shift them into positive ones?

As you know, I’ve been using ho’oponopono to explore issues for a long time.  When the bad news starts to “get” me, I begin asking questions like the above and I start working with the prayer:

  • For every way in which I hold negative patterns, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For every unresolved issue in me fueling anger and fear, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For every part of me which sees an “other” who is separate and unlikeable/unloveable, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For my failures at living in compassion and love and being peace, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

Another way to help change negative thinking is to use affirmations.  I like to create a few which I keep repeating every time I catch my thoughts on certain tracks (this changes over time, so it means creating new ones…) and I also play a lot of recordings of affirmations in the background.

I’ve created a long tape of affirmation recordings from Dick Sutphen which is on Spotify, Steve Nobel has lots of affirmations recordings on YouTube and it’s easy to create a list.  Hay House has offered some nice affirmations recordings from Louise Hay for free.  There are millions more options.

Sometimes the deep issues creating negativity require help from a therapist or pursuing a process like Fisher Hoffman or Choices or the Diamond Heart work of H. Almaas.  While clearing issues isn’t exactly fun work, the relief and freedom that flow from releasing old stuff is so immense, so lightening, so transformational, it winds up feeling great!

Every time one of us clears old negative thinking and offers positive energy into the web, the world inches closer to peace, a healthy environment, and compassion.  The more you heal, the easier it is to stay drawn to the positive and good.  It’s time to empower the peacemakers, the inventors of answers, the compassion holders instead of the corrupt and hateful.

I know most of my regular readers already get this.  But I bet most of you know people who are caught up in the angst of these times, so please pass along the notion that looking at the positive or the negative is a CHOICE.

A few posts from the past about positive thinking (and check out the Journey to Peace tab above):

Outage blessing: a shift

A couple of weeks ago a big storm took out electricity for a couple of day (previous post) and then our phone/tv/internet service went down for a week.  When the electricity came back but the other stuff was still out I pulled out some DVDs to have something to watch.

I’d been drawn for a while to re-watch some “positive” stuff, like Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” or “What the Bleep”.  But you know, have to remember how to get in DVD mode and find the stuff to watch, so it kept getting put off…  But with DVD the only possibility, the draw became compelling.  So I started with the Louise Hay.  As I watched for what was probably the sixth or eigth time since i bought it, I suddenly felt like a switch flipped.

Having been aware of her mirror work for years, I finally actually went through all the exercises in one of her more recent books about it a couple of years ago.  I enjoyed it and felt like it did some good, though years of work on similar things meant it didn’t feel like a big change happened.  But I’ve long been aware of a gap for me between my intellectual understanding about positive thinking and my ability to hold on to positive thoughts.

Many people I’ve known over the years have seemed to just flip a switch upon encountering Ms. Hay or Eckhart Tolle or whichever “you create your reality” guru they found.  It’s always amazed me that someone could turn it around so fast.  Sometimes I realized they became very good at saying only positive things but it didn’t necessarily mean they’d really cleared the negative thoughts or explored their origins…

On my journey I realized in increments over many years that lots of old personal and ancestral issues created endlessly looping negative tapes in my thought patterns and that I didn’t know how to turn them off.  It’s taken years of release work, self-examination and creating positive thought loops to progress slowly into a more positive mindset.

But suddenly as Louise and friends discussed loving yourself and mirror work, something in me went, “yes, of course, I love myself.”  I’ve been smiling and looking in the mirror to repeat variations of loving myself affirmations daily ever since and spontaneously looping positive thoughts through my mind at intervals each day.

I’ve waited a while to write about this, wondering how well it would stick.  Must admit the constancy of it has faded a bit over the course of a couple of weeks (probably time to watch the video again?), but by and large I’m still finding myself running affirmations through my mind and smiling into the mirror daily.

It feels like a big shift.  One that was fed by all the work on shifting, sorting, examining and changing that went before, but a shift nonetheless.  Quite a blessing to receive from an outage!

The week+ with no Internet or t.v. has also changed my viewing and on line habits a bit, as I actually watch instead of half watching more things, take more time away from computer and t.v. to read, cook, weed, etc.  I have to say, frustrating as it was, the blessings were greater than the inconvenience.

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?

Transition? Limbo?

Lately, besides the usual sluggishness from muscles, headaches, unwinding, etc. I feel like I’m swirling through some kind of transition.  Lots of articles inform me that many of us are experiencing symptoms from ringing ears to sleeplessness to sleeping too much to colds…  Since much of that is part of my norm, I can’t always tell 🙂

Whether it’s another phase of the long healing process or part of some larger transition of energies in the universe, I have been feeling pretty out of it and kind of floating in limbo.  Most days if I try to work on a post I just feel like I don’t really know what to say and that some elusive truth will soon be revealed but now is not the time.

Every now and then in the midst of the floating and coping with symptoms, an epiphany has arisen and in the past few days I’ve hit two of those moments.  The first has to do with me holding a vision of the future.  I’ve been doing it for a long time but, given the long, long-term health issues, there has been a problem for me in seeing myself in the vision as a healthy, energetic person.  It’s been so long, I literally have trouble remembering what it feels like.

But the other day I brought the vision to mind and suddenly, like a cool breeze blew through and changed everything, I saw myself in that future life, healthy.  And finally it seemed real that I could step into a future in which I live my vision and live it as a person of vitality and good health.

Then I started doing some genealogy research again and, after unsuccessfully working on a puzzle regarding my Lightfoot ancestors from Virginia, I started thinking about some of my amazing finds in this effort to fill in my family tree.

For some time I’ve been receiving advice from different directions about calling on my ancestors for help.  As I’ve unearthed a lot of issues I inherited from my ancestors, I’ve been reluctant to do that.  Doing Steve Nobel’s meditation on releasing ancestral issues periodically has really helped.

As I sat there running over the Lightfoots and many other previously-unknown names I’ve uncovered, I suddenly felt this softness come over me and a certainty that they could and would help and I called upon all my ancestors to help me finish untangling these long-held family threads.  Then felt them fill the room with their loving energy.

I don’t know where all this leads but as I sit here with muscles tugging, ears ringing and energy buzzing through me, I feel the winds of change …  again…

Blessed healing journey

Sunset2 Dec 3 2017

A couple of friends recently commented on my ability to tune into patterns opening in my body.  It’s always nice to hear, but initially I didn’t give it much thought.  Last night, however, I was reflecting on this long healing process in light of their thoughts and noticed how I’ve mostly considered it and written about it as torture.  Now, I often look for the up side and I’ve written posts indicating some positive thoughts, but over all I must admit the general misery and discomfort of unwinding muscles and sleepless nights for the most part fill my focus.

Suddenly I could see more blessing in it.  Not only that the process has forced me to pay more attention to my body than I ever would have given it.  Not only that I have been able to mark progress on many fronts even while many people don’t quite believe healing in this form is happening.  But also a blessing because I seem to be on a very unusual path in this whole unwinding/healing muscle thing and I’m seeing that I’m in the privileged position of being a path finder.

When I first began complaining of fatigue and issues with my muscles, western medicine was swearing up one side and down the other that neither chronic fatigue nor fibromyalgia existed so their diagnosis was that I should see a shrink.  Period.  Alternative practitioners began providing answers and naming the two major issues they found [fyi: when western medicine acknowledged fibromyalgia they also defined it so my symptoms didn’t seem to fit although alternative therapists have often felt my muscles and said I have it…].

According to my first serious therapeutic massage specialist every muscle in my body was wound up like a steel cord, all the muscles in every muscle group were glued together and the groups were also glued to my bones.  Eventually, after many of the larger and surface muscles were in much better shape and most unstuck from the bones, another practitioner saw and helped me realize the underlying intertwining and complex patterns remaining in the smaller and connective muscles.

I’ve been at it for three decades. Some practitioners have been dismissive of what has gone before because they felt it should have all been resolved quickly – and then they failed to resolve it.  I had to accept a long time ago that my muscles were in trouble at a level that was way beyond most practitioners and too complicated to resolve speedily.

It has taken many types of body work, inventing my own exercise program (combining the Psychophysical Method with yoga), emotional release work, past life work, ancestral healing work and more to reach a point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel pretty brightly.  The process has taken me deep within, led to multiple transformative experiences, taught me a huge amount about how we hold onto the past – not only our own but our past life and ancestral pasts as well – and changed the trajectory of my life dramatically and overall I would say for the better.

After a few decades of being told by one practitioner after another  they’ve never seen this, that, or the other thing as bad as my… psoas, neck, hip, whatever, I know most people don’t have physical issues of the same magnitude.  I also know from learning to move and to observe how others move, that millions of people walk around with tight muscle patterns interfering with their movement, their ability to process emotions, their capacity to feel energy, etc.  And I feel as though talking about my journey and process might help some of those people to open some channels and pathways for their own lives to receive more healing.  In fact, I hear every now and then from someone who says it has helped them take better care; what a great feeling.

As I survey this history, I feel this glow of blessing.  For once, instead of viewing it only as a burden I have unfairly had to bear, I can see the Universe entrusted me with an unusual but important journey and what a gift it is that I have been able to explore all these nuances and share my experience.  Which is not to say I won’t be back whining about my uncomfortable muscles or being kept up all night 😊  But more than ever I also feel gratitude for being sent on this journey of healing.

The Universe is listening

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

The final ruminations arising from the phone call with my friend last week are intertwined with another friend asking if I’d like to do yoga together once a week.  The yoga offer came first and I quickly realized it would be just the thing.  Then when the phone call wound up with a suggestion to start getting together to help one another hold space as we traverse “the liminal phase” my heart began to sing.

For a couple of years now I’ve been feeling enough better to be realizing I need to get a social life — or some sort of life outside the house — going again.  Sorting through options I realized I really don’t particularly enjoy group activities unless everyone is participating in some sort of spiritual ceremony or meditation, etc.  I prefer one on one or small groups of 3 or 4 and to carry on deep conversations or to engage in some sort of practice that helps us stay grounded, balanced, tuned in…

When I first moved to Lexington I spent the first couple of years in a concerted effort to try out churches, meditation groups, book groups, etc. in order to meet people and make friends.  I wound up involved in a group in another town near here and then, through a couple of people there, in another group here in Lexington.  After a few years a number of the folks I felt close to moved away and then the various groups dissipated, the church closed, and so forth.  By then my struggles with the muscles and not sleeping were severe so I didn’t have much interest in socializing and certainly not in starting over.

I still have no desire to go through the kind of trying and joining and sifting process I went through on arrival here and really not a lot of interest in the kinds of groups I sought.  So, I’ve been hanging around knowing I need to get out and do more things with people other than my 92-year-old mother and that I wanted one on one activities with some kind of deep connection, but not how to make it happen.

So having two people I adore get in touch about starting just exactly the kind of get-togethers I didn’t quite know I was dreaming of felt like a wave of blessings and rightness washing over me.  I feel like the Universe was listening to the whispers in my mind and put together the perfect answer to a prayer I hadn’t quite said.  I also feel it says something about the shifts and opening in me that these two perfect offers appeared within a week or two of each other.

Although a lot of the teachings out there on manifestation are firm about the need to be specific, visualize exactly, etc., I’ve often had experiences more like this one.  Some vague longings and thoughts move through me and sometime thereafter an amazing solution that takes all the ramblings and feelings into account shows up.  In this case I also feel like the direction of both activities toward staying balanced and holding a certain kind of space in these chaotic times is part of my path forward into becoming the emissary of peace I aspire to be even if I still don’t see precisely what the path is.

It just feels like a moment of amazing grace and I’m drinking it in and feeling so grateful and full of joy!

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: 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:

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…