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: 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.

Dungeon Prompts: Staying Mum

English: The dining room

English: The dining room (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s prompt from Sreejit Poole on Dungeon Prompts is:

There are certain situations, whether it is at work or around particular family members or friends, where you know in advance that you will have to humble yourself to get through the day. Tell us about a place where you force yourself not to react in a natural manner, but humble yourself to make things work. Do you have any techniques, such as visualizations, or breathing to help you get through it? Do you prepare yourself in advance or is it always a sudden biting of the tongue that happens. Take us through your processes of humbling yourself.

I’m stumbling a bit on the word “humble”, but the sensation of keeping mum to avoid trouble, fit in or keep the waters calm is all too familiar.  I think of it more as repressing myself and I repressed so much I wound up feeling like a robot who spouted programmed answers but could only speak as a unique human with certain people.

My mother’s sister played a big role in this.  She didn’t have children of her own and I was the only child of her only sibling so whenever I was around she tried to rope me into her “horse people” world of racetracks, thoroughbreds, breeders, cocktail parties, etc.  While those folks –at least the ones of her era; not so sure it’s true any more — could be charming and incredibly funny, they were also extremely conservative both politically and in life.

I sat through many dinners in her formal dining room with the insides of my mouth clamped between my teeth as they dissed on, well, pretty much everybody.  This was a White Anglo Saxon Protestant crowd of rich people and they had snotty remarks to make about just about any group you can think of that wasn’t WASP and rich.

Generally I kept my mouth shut throughout unless anyone directed a question at me and then I responded as succinctly as possible.  One time, though, she’d taken me to La Jolla and invited some of her crowd to join us for dinner.  It was the seventies and they were all discussing their hopes for then-governor Reagan and the White House.  I carefully kept my mouth shut… except to take an occasional bite and try to swallow it past the tension in my neck 🙂

Eventually someone just had to turn to me and ask point blank who I favored.  “Eugene McCarthy”, I said and smiled before taking another bite.  Silence fell.  Forks were suspended in air.  Chewing stopped.  After a moment they swallowed their dismay and continued talking.  No one said another word to me.  Which was actually kind of better.  Fortunately my aunt was just drunk enough (the norm) by the end of the evening she forgot to yell at me for daring to say “McCarthy”…

At that stage, I frequently felt as if I had to repress my personality and opinions and there was a lot of rage being repressed as well.  I’ve always marched to a somewhat different drum than most of my family and few of them had/have much tolerance for opinions or lifestyles other than their own.  But I coped by staying silent because I’d do anything to avoid conflict.

Silence is still a frequent refuge for me but the why and wherefores and feelings of it have changed.  When I’m with like-minded friends I express myself pretty freely.  But I spend a fair amount of time around people who don’t believe the spiritual principles I espouse and who look at the world differently.  Now I don’t angrily repress myself to keep them from being angry.

I’ll often point out another possible way to look at something.  But I’m also aware of the fear behind their closely held beliefs and how deeply they want to avoid rocking their world.  I don’t jump in with disagreements because I’ve learned that lesson about which I’ve so often written “People are who they are and they do what they do.”  See here for one of those posts.

It’s not my job to proselytize or change their minds.  I accept who they are and I speak with care because I don’t want to shake them up.  I don’t need for them to accept who I am any more; I share my views and my self with people who are comfortable with my alternative viewpoint.  I don’t need anyone else to have it or share it.  Once I know that someone isn’t comfortable I dial back what I tell them.  I can chat inconsequentially when it’s called for.

Those relationships are just different.  Sometimes close in their own way.  Some will always be casual.  Generally I stay pretty calm around these folks (if my bitchy aunt were still alive I’m not so sure that would be true but now I’d have no fear about telling her to f**k off).  I’m comfortable enough in my own skin that I don’t feel a need to have everyone “see me” or “get me”.  I have plenty of beloved friends who do.  And I’m fine with filtering for those who are more comfortable that way.

When someone’s anxiety or fear-based thoughts disturb me I often silently start saying the lovingkindness chant for them.  It’s amazing how quickly the tone and feeling of a room can change once you start chanting, even in your head.

I also sometimes use deep breathing to shift out of someone else’s energy.  If I’m in tune enough to feel the energy, I also use the chakra shifting I learned at Nine Gates.  If love and compassion feels called for I might move into heart space and focus on heart energy till it builds and starts moving outward.  If someone feels really ungrounded I put energy in my feet and concentrate on grounding.  If someone is trying to say something but having trouble I move into throat energy and hold that to help them find their voice.  I do it for them but once I start consciously shifting energy and building a certain vibration it takes me to a different place too.

Whether repressing anger or calmly accepting who people are or silently shifting energy gears, I’m not sure whether I ‘d say I feel humbled.  But it’s what I did and what I now do when I feel I can’t quite be all of me.  I’m pretty sure that furiously keeping silent is not being humble.  The breathing and energy shifting and chanting, I don’t know.  Is that being humble?  Or just calmer and more kind?

Dungeon Prompts: The wrong path?

cooling tower and cooling water discharge of P...

Philippsburg nuclear power plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week’s Dungeon Prompt:

Share with us something that you worked hard for – put your heart and soul into – only realizing after achieving it that you wanted nothing to do with it. Don’t take this as a trot down memory lane. Rather let it be a learning experience for someone else that might not be aware of the full impact of such a decision.

I’m not sure that there’s anything I poured my heart and soul into that I’d say turned out to be a mistake.  The biggest sojourn down the “wrong” path for me is easy to name:  going to law school, hating it, finishing anyway, becoming a lawyer.  My heart and soul were never in it.   But I worked harder and at more cost to my health and spirit than any time before or since.  But not heart and soul.

I always wanted to be a musician.  One of the few times various members of my family agreed on what they wanted me to do:  no, no, no to musician.  So I went to Northwestern in liberal arts instead of the music school and majored in history with no particular intention or notion of what to do with it.

I entered college in 1970.  I didn’t much take to the Greeks but there was a big radical/hippie crowd there at the time and I landed in that group.  Became radicalized.  In those days, one of the paths for a radical became law; get in the system and use the law to create change.  I’d tried academia for a while, but short of my PhD couldn’t take it.  Flailing around for something to do that wouldn’t send my family into a tailspin, I landed on law.

The “change from within” spell in law was short-lived and pretty much over by the time I finished law school.  I loathed law school so much my friends were surprised when I showed up for the second year.  I managed to pick a particularly tough law school and they worked us about to death.  I didn’t like any of it, so the hard work and the tension of it all led to not sleeping and terrible migraines.

I have kind of a determined side and, since many of the professors were openly trying to break us, I became determined that they weren’t gonna break me.  So I graduated.  Found my way to a job in which most of my cases involved trying to stop nuclear power plants from being brought into the rate base of the utilities that built them.   A job like that was a pretty rare find at the time and initially I felt elated.

Over time, though, I realized the boring law of law school was still boring as a lawyer.  And you can’t imagine how deadly dull those cases are or how tough if you don’t have a background in nuclear engineering or econometric forecasting; thousands of pages of testimony to go over on those topics for every case.

Had a boss I really liked.  Was working for a cause that mattered to me.  We won a LOT.  The boss left, I got his position –for which I really wasn’t prepared — and the guy above him suddenly became my enemy and caused me all kinds of trouble.  I noticed each time the news came that we’d won a motion or a whole case I didn’t feel excited or even particularly care.  Eventually I started throwing up every day before work.

During the last couple of years as a lawyer, I was studying yoga and took a nine month teacher training class at the Temple of Kriya Yoga.  I found myself using lots of techniques I learned in yoga and meditation classes to stay calm in the midst of hating my work.  Eventually I realized I had to do breathing exercises or a centering practice or a short meditation multiple times a day because everything about the atmosphere around me drew me into the tension and adversity of the law.

I felt I couldn’t keep on and live.  So I gave notice.  Nothing about the path I’ve followed since then would be called a success by most of America.  When I took that leap of faith to leave and follow my heart, I never imagined how long the free fall would be.  Never dreamed of how many blocks and issues and health problems I’d have to release, overcome or transmute.  I’ve lived pretty close to the edge of financial disaster ever since I walked away from the decent-sized (by no means huge) paycheck of a public interest lawyer.

Following my heart has meant I’ve put my heart and soul into many projects.  Nothing has been a success as to the outward trappings most people value.  But I’ve never felt anything I tried was wrong or a misstep as long as I followed where spirit led.  I’ve worked hard at many projects I loved but it never felt hard because my heart and soul were in it.

I think the big mistake about law for me was that I cast about for something I could live with when I felt I couldn’t follow my bliss– traveling the road of the least bad option instead of listening to my heart has never turned out well.  Not that I’ve completely learned the lesson 🙂

I find myself wondering whether heart and soul are ever in it if something feels like hard work or a big struggle to achieve so I’m going to be interested to read other responses to this prompt.

Dungeon Prompts: Choosing Happy

The street outside "home"

The street outside “home”

Today’s Dungeon Prompt:

Do you have a place to go when you need to be happy? Does it turn out that you are always happy in certain settings? Is happiness a state of mind that you can choose to turn on when you want to? How do you motivate yourself to be happy when you want to get out of a funk? Is happiness, for you, determined by external or internal factors? Share with us how you get to your happy place.

There is one place I go where there’s a level of content and inner peace I don’t quite find elsewhere. When I go back to house sit where I used to live in Marin Co., there’s just something about magical Mt. Tamalpais, the redwoods, etc. that calms and soothes.  Helped along by the many close friends of my heart who live there.

My apartment was in the home of one of my teachers and it’s a property that sees ceremonies, meditations, workshops on metaphysical topics, etc. on a regular basis so I suspect the energy of that particular property is part of the special healing.

For the most part, though, I’d say I find happiness anywhere, any time by choosing it.  Twenty some years ago I took a class with my teacher and friend, Ellen Margron, called Emotional Mastery.  Though there was more to it, she believed we have a full array of emotions so we may experience an amazing palette of feeling tones and the choice of which one to have at any given moment is entirely ours.

The main exercise we did over and over was to go inward while she [eventually we all taped ourselves so we could do the exercise any time] slowly named dozens of nuances of feeling/emotional tones.  She’d give us a little time to find that tone and move into it, then move on to the next.  Eventually we understood that we could move from one emotion to another at will.

With enough practice we learned how to take note of our feelings in any given moment, decide whether we wanted to stay with that feeling and choose to move into a different one.  If I’m feeling melancholy or tired or angry or whatever, I know I can take a breath, think “happy”, or “joyful” or “tranquil” and change the feeling any time I wish to.

Am I always mindful enough to note how I’m feeling and make a choice? Nope.  I’m not that mindful yet.  But often enough, I decide to feel happy and then I just am.  It goes with me everywhere and creates happiness within.  I don’t need to use it much when I’m visiting Marin 🙂

Dungeon Prompt: Why do I blog?

By Okky.novianto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dungeon Prompt for this week:

There are many different reasons for blogging. Some do it as a journaling exercise to work through issues. Others do it as a way to communicate with an online community. Some do it as advertising, while others do it to bring awareness to a particular cause. Many do it just as a creative outlet, and to practice and perfect their craft. Why do you blog? What do you get out of it? Are you happy with your experience so far? Let us in on what drives you to keep blogging

I began blogging a little over four years ago because I kept getting a nudge during meditations with my guides to do it.  Short pieces about the spiritual journey had been writing themselves in my head but I didn’t know why or what the forum for them might be.  Hence the meditation to call in my “council” and ask why I kept receiving these little essays and whether I was supposed to do something with them .

At the time I barely knew what blogging was but I’d learned to follow those nudges (at least the ones I’m not resisting 🙂 ) so I did a little research, picked WordPress and started posting twice a week.  And one of my friends and I read them regularly.  Didn’t know a thing about engaging with others or how to get a blog seen.

For months I was fine with that since the instruction to do it was mysterious and I had no stake in whether anyone read it or not.  Eventually, though, it seemed a little pointless other than whatever gains I made from the regular exercise of writing.

So I did some research about how to get readers and started prowling through other people’s blogs, following and liking and occasionally commenting.  Lo and behold, there were soon people following me!

I’ve never really taken to most of the social media stuff so my expectations were low.  The amazing community in which I’ve found myself immersed has been a revelation.  While a lot of mainstream blogging is of no more interest to me than people’s tweets and FB posts about stubbing their toes (in fairness, I’m blessed with friends who are deep seekers and whose posts in those other places tend to be uplifting, touching, interesting…), spiritual bloggers constantly move me, teach me, inspire me.

The world of spirituality blogging has proved to be full of amazing, insightful, deep people and I am now completely hooked on hanging out daily with my blogging pals, reading their amazing posts, commenting back and forth and feeling my world so enriched by these connections.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a couple of my fave bloggers in person, which has been wonderful.  I hope it happens with many more.

My world has been pretty circumscribed the last couple of years because of the health stuff. And also an odd inverse relationship wherein as my health improves my tolerance for what’s still wrong decreases; I’m much more likely now to skip a party or say no to going somewhere than when my health was far worse…  At any rate, these connections through blogging –along with my natural ability to hang out alone — have kept me from loneliness.

Posts are still writing themselves in my head and, for the most part, I only post when something is tapping on my shoulder and asking to be written.  I’ve been seeing the edges of a larger plan behind the Higher Self advice to start a blog.  Part of it has just been the development of a style to my writing that I think is much more readable than my previous attempts to write of my journey.  The rest of the “larger plan” is still pretty sketchy, so for now I’m just going to wait to write about it.

The short of it is I now blog because (1) I love the community I’ve found (or it’s found me?) and (2) telling my story and the things I’ve learned along the way still feels like the right thing to do.

Dungeon Prompts: Forgotten Childhood

English: The Voyage of Life Childhood

English: The Voyage of Life Childhood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Dungeon Prompt from Sreejit Poole:

What did you forget after growing up?

As children we live in a totally different reality where the possibilities are endless. For example, I knew that there was a way to jump through the bathroom mirror into the world of the Thundercats; I just couldn’t figure it out. Some of those things we knew back then made life a lot more interesting. Tell us about some of the things that you knew as a child but have since forgotten.

In the last decade or so I can’t tell you how many practitioners and super intuitive friends have told me I need to play more.  Every time it comes up I feel at a loss.

I’ve said many times, in my house it was okay to be chronologically young but not to actually be a child.  I had to behave circumspectly from pretty early on.  While I know I had a vivid imagination and lots of dreams and somewhere along the way I assume I knew how to play, I just don’t remember.

I wasn’t that good at sports so even a lot of play-time memories feel strained to me; always tense about not being chosen, about knowing I’d fumble or swing and miss.  A lot of my favorite times were spent reading books and writing short stories.

Early childhood apparently carried enough trauma that I remember very little before the age of six.  Lots of processing and digging, helped along by some shocking memories from an aunt who’d kept quiet till I was in my 30’s, have unearthed some pieces but I see them as if I’m viewing a movie about somebody else.  They don’t feel like my other memories of things I clearly recall.

Very few of my short stories still exist but they show a sense of magic.  Yet when someone tells me to spend more time playing or letting my inner child run free I just come up blank.  I still love reading and writing.  And my spiritual path has led me places imbued with a different sort of magic.  I do believe in a magical universe where amazing things can happen.

But I’m not sure I know how to play.  Can’t swear I ever did.  When my life is finally devoted to something other than getting well (I’m predicting that’s soon!) I’m thinking I need to try some stuff that sounds fun and see if I can find that playful child…   That may prove interesting as not many things sound fun to me.  Don’t like crowds or sports (participating or watching) or camping or doing crafts so most of the activities other people seem to think are fun appall me (as activities for myself, not that others like them).

So far the inner child work I’ve done has mainly taken away her enormous fear and let her breathe freely while feeling safe in the world.  Maybe the playing comes after the healing?

Dungeon Prompt: The moment of change

English: San Francisco Bay Area (from UC Berkley)

San Francisco Bay Area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Dungeon Prompt for this week:

That Now I Get It Moment

Though we may still feel like we don’t “get-it” we’ve all had moments in our life that rocked our world and caused us to look at everything differently. Whether it was bottoming out or having a religious awakening, the discovery of what you want to spend the rest of your life doing, or understanding that you can no longer stick with the career you’ve invested years in, we’ve all had moments when we realized that we’d been going about this thing called life all wrong. What was your, oh-now-I-get-it moment?

For one of these prompts a while back I wrote about the turning point moment when I started my spiritual journey.  At the time my feeling was “now I get it”.  And I did get a lot.  But some years down the road came a turning point within that new journey.

Much like the first turning point, the second unfolded in a series of moments more than as one instant when the proverbial light bulb flared over my head.  I’d completed Nine Gates Mystery School and moved to the Bay Area to be closer to the friends I’d made and those of the Mystery School teachers who lived in the area.

Against my better judgement I agreed to room with someone I’d met at the workshop but didn’t know well.  Putting it in the kindest light, let’s just say it was a poor match.  Now that I’ve become all forgiving and peaceful I’ve calmed down to just thinking of her as the she-witch from hell.  She never bothered to hide her contempt of me, which she not only verbally expressed regularly and in myriad ways  but also in her systematic destruction of my furniture and mistreatment of my cats.

I kept wondering, “if she’s my mirror, am I THIS horrible?”  I even started asking friends I trusted to give me the truth, all of whom agreed I wasn’t like her.  Eventually I began seeing comparisons to the way my ornery aunt treated me and the way my dad often spoke to me.  The aha moment, though, arrived one day with the realization that I talked to myself just the way the she-witch did … all the time.

The move to California proved to be a far less thrilling choice than anticipated on many fronts and I began to feel desperately unhappy.  One of the frequent comments from the she witch and her pals concerned how I angry I obviously was.  The unhappiness and a dawning sense of some justice to the angry observation combined with observing some great results from friends who were completing Fischer-Hoffman work with Nine Gates teacher Ellen Margron and led to signing up for her next session.

Until the Fischer-Hoffman work I don’t know that I’d quite understood the importance of emotional work, exploring deep issues and releasing the past.  In all honesty, I was pretty resistant.  The work changed me in many ways, one of which was a different look at some aspects of what went on with the roommate.

Ellen mentioned at one point that meditation, breath work, etc. can become just another “narcotizing” tool, adding defensive layers of calm and keeping us from seeing the issues underneath.  I’d been coping with the roommate by meditating and practicing pranayama.  A lot.  Suddenly I could see how I’d been burying my rage and unhappiness in the sea of serenity I constantly created around myself.

Step by step these many moments of insight and learning opened me and changed my journey.  The huge releases of the Fischer-Hoffman work transformed me on many levels.  And I not only developed an affinity for “processing”, but awareness of emotions and willingness to delve into the darkness within became key elements of my journey.

Dungeon Prompt: Magic Powers

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...

Tarot card, Rider-Waite tarot deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t forget to set aside some time to chant or pray for peace!

I take part in several different weekly prompts–some sporadically, some regularly.  The last few weeks there have been a few prompts that flummoxed me.  I either couldn’t understand the prompt or it just left me blank.  Usually I just don’t participate when that happens.  I’m equally puzzled by this week’s Dungeon Prompt (no fault to Sreejit, just something in me doesn’t get it) but I thought maybe I’d meander through some of my muddled thoughts and ask you to comment and give me your thoughts, insights, etc. so maybe I’ll understand it better or differently.

The prompt:

We are all gifted with certain magical powers. We may not have fully harnessed them, or we may rebel against the powers we’ve been given, but we know that they are there. The power may be so potent that we are scared to use it, or we may have come to terms and learned the intricacies of it. We may have used them for evil or for good, but when we think that we can go unnoticed, we have surely tested them out.

Magical powers go beyond a talent for something. It involves bending reality to your will. When your will comes in tune with the cosmic will you may notice your powers flow like a raging river. Whether you hide it or not, you know that it’s there. So this week, tell us about your magical powers.

It may be true that we all have magical powers, I’m not sure as I can’t quite decide from the prompt what they are. But I don’t have any sense whatsoever of having them and, if they’re latent, they’re so far beneath the surface of consciousness I’m not at all aware of them.

In the sense of extrasensory abilities, I’ve long believed that we all have more abilities than we remember and are discouraged as toddlers from believing in the auras we see or the thoughts we hear or the things we “know” are coming until we no longer consciously do those things.

If that’s the kind of magical powers, I’m aware of a lineage of “seers” in my family but it’s always been blocked for me and, though there are signs of opening since the healing session in the spring cleared a lot of blocks the ability still isn’t obvious nor do I have the faintest idea how to access it at will.  So the idea that I know I have it or that I use it purposefully is hard to grasp.  What I know of seers and “seeing” leaves me pondering how you could use that to bend the world your will???

The notion of powers that “bend reality to your will’ makes me edgy.  I’ve known plenty of strong-willed, often manipulative, people who use force or guile to get others to do their bidding, to organize the world to suit them.  It might be a form of power — though I’d argue it isn’t true power — but it sure isn’t anything I’d describe as magical.  In some areas of life I’m aware that I can be manipulative and I consider that a flaw to release from my life, not a power and certainly not magic.  The folks who are best at controlling their environment willfully I’d describe as narcissists or sociopaths or twisted — are those magical powers?

When it comes to a magic power I’ve used to bend reality, I’m blank.  I can’t even quite wrap my mind around the idea that a magic power ever could or would be used to force reality to your will.  When I’ m in tune with the Divine, I feel enormous power but it isn’t mine.  I’m one with the power of the universe and it feels immense and magical, but it’s not about me and I don’t know how I’d bend anyone to my will with that from of magic — when feeling one with the Divine I can’t conceive of anyone wanting to force the world to suit them.

If talents aren’t in the picture, several aspects I might have linked to this are off the table.  Then there’s fuzzier territory.  Years ago one of my teachers informed me that I had great charisma but kept it hidden.  I asked another teacher about it and she nodded emphatically and indicated she felt I had a great deal of buried charisma.  I’d always been so inward the idea of a charismatic me was novel. I did the chant for the prescribed 28 days with no noticeable change (though I loved the chant and felt its power enough that I come back to it every few years).    Is that a hidden magic power?  Or is that a talent?  I don’t know.

Much more of my charisma is on display now, I think, particularly when I teach.  But I don’t have any sense of it as being a power in the sense of forcing my will on the world.  I am, however, aware, that when I let that sunnier, more magnetic me out to play everyone around me is happier and the world feels good.  But I sense that as more of a flow with grace.  To me that’s a magical power:  something that helps you flow with the grace of life.

That’s as far as I can get.  Not sure if it’s a case of just using different words to describe the same thing or whether the concept of magical powers and how they’re used is something I just don’t understand.  I’m curious to hear from you:  what do you think magical powers are?  Do you use them to bend the world to your will?  Do you have a power you use to get your way?  If so, would you consider that to be magical? Do you have a specific power you think is magical?

Chant time and Dungeon Prompt

Muscles of the head, face, and neck.

Muscles of the head, face, and neck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in the eastern U.S. it’s Saturday, which is a good time to think about setting aside 10 minutes to pray or chant for peace on Sunday.  See the CPS page for more info.

And this week’s Dungeon Prompt from Sreejit:

We all have our breaking points. For some, we know that we’ve reached our limit when we dissolve into tears, while others of us cry at a well sung song, or a work of art. Some of us rage against the world, while others turn within and leave everyone they know behind.

Tell us about the last time you just couldn’t take anymore. Share with us, both what was going on in your head, and the expression of it that the world saw outside of it? What was the trigger that set everything in motion? Is this a common occurrence or a once or twice in a lifetime event? Let us all be a part of your breaking point.

Most of my breaking points have had to do with health — and especially pain– over these long years of healing. there have been a few memorable moments when I just couldn’t take it.

A couple of prompts ago I wrote about the time a pinched nerve in my neck led me to a Fischer-Hoffman processing session and lots of release.  The breaking point moment came earlier when the pain was so excruciating I sank to the floor and cried for God to either heal it or kill me.  And I really didn’t care which.  Soon after I had the lightbulb moment that led to the amazing processing session.

But for this prompt I thought about more recent breaking points.  Ongoing, recurring breaking points in this long drawn-out healing.  The first 20 years of sorting out the many problems with my muscles didn’t interfere with my life too badly except for the accompanying fatigue.  Then 10 years ago, when the muscles in my head started unwinding on their own, the journey started taking on a life of its own.

At first it was just small periods of time and pretty mild.  But the last several years it expanded in both (1) intensity of jerking and pulling as the muscles opened one tiny knot at a time and (2) in hours per day; sometimes as much as 12 or 14.  It has particularly liked to go off in the night so I’ve often had weeks at a time when I slept one or two hours a night six or seven nights in a row with one night of sleep in before the next round.  All that activity also caused lots of migraines.

I’ve lost count of the number of breaking points there’ve been over these few years.  I’ve been saying for ages that I’ve been beyond the end of my rope for so long I don’t know how I’m still hanging in here.  And then I laugh because this is a ride that has clearly been determined on some higher level.  Affirmations and visualizations and bargains with my inner child and shaking my fist at Archangel Michael while demanding that he heal these effing muscles NOW have all proved useless.  So I can be beyond the end of my rope and I still have to cope.  So I do.

I know there’s some reason for this that, so far, is beyond my earthly ability to comprehend.  I’ve “gotten” and written about the importance of understanding how complex our muscles are and how VERY interconnected and about patience and how the healing journey can be long and tedious.  I’ve processed early traumas and dramas and accidents that contributed.  I’ve sorted through related ancestral and past life issues.  And yet this just keeps on.  Some reason why I have to experience the opening of every single knot on every single fiber of every single muscle must be operating but I’m clueless.

There’s just one crazy tight intertwined set of a few muscles left.  It seems so close I think every time it starts opening again that this could be the moment it ends.  I suppose someday when this part of the journey is behind me it will all be clear. In the meantime, I reach the breaking point every now and then, smile at “what is”, and discover I’m strong enough to get past the breaking point…

Note:  You can check out the Healing Journey tab for more info — if you too have issues with muscles there’s a lot of info there.

Sunday Peace Time and Dungeon Prompt on Being Fierce

be peace not war


It’s time again to put aside at least 10 minutes to chant or pray or sing or hold ceremony for peace.  Check out the Collective Prayer Sundays page for more info.

This week’s Dungeon Prompt challenges us to describe a time of being fierce.  He asks that we tell the story vividly and mine is from so long ago I don’t remember enough to do that; not in the mood for waxing poetic in fiction…  But I thought I’d see what I can do.

What would be considered fierce for some could be unthinkable for others.  Many of us are so trapped in our ways that a simple uncharacteristic act of spontaneity is considered fearless by these standards.  Whatever be your measuring stick, think back at some of the more fierce acts of your life.  It doesn’t have to be a major turning event, but rather a time when you stepped up and did something uncharacteristic.  Or maybe you already lead an intensely independent life.  It could be a moment when you let your guard down and allowed someone else to take the lead.

Decide on one particular event.  Now, don’t just tell us about it; let us live it.  Lead us through the event like an adventure story.  Make us feel your struggle, or your renewal, your pain or your exuberance.  Let us live, through your words, the moment when you were fierce of heart.

In general I would say that fierceness as it’s meant here– in the sense of courage– is not a state of being that’s really me.  In hindsight, I’d say this whole spiritual journey, though, has required courage.  It just hasn’t felt that way to me because I’ve felt led to do it, pulled along with it most of the time.  But there’s also been a “fierce” determination to do whatever I had to in order to heal on every level–perhaps driven by the physical problems more than anything.

Always shy and inward and a habitual emotion swallower, perhaps the toughest aspect of the journey initially was confronting issues.  The idea of yelling or pounding pillows intimidated me.  So I struggled a bit with the segment of Nine Gates led by the late Ellen Margron, wherein participants were vehemently encouraged to scream and yell and pound (no longer part of the curriculum).

The next year I moved out to the Bay area and as my life seemed to spiral downward, many body workers and people around me seemed to be in a conspiracy to get me to realize I needed to release a lot of locked up stuff.  Many of my Nine Gates friends had gone on to do a session of the Fischer-Hoffman process with Ellen and I finally gave in and signed on.

Dragging my feet and inwardly quaking, I plunged into the world of exploring issues minutely and having sessions of yelling and pillow pounding.  Tentative at first, I slowly grew to appreciate the great sense of release and freedom that followed.  At the culminating point I enlisted a friend to help me with a session trying to release the underlying source of a pinched nerve in my neck that was more painful than anything I’ve ever felt.

That night something snapped open.  It turned out there were many lifetimes of injuries in that spot and I went through at least half a dozen as if the release was doing me instead of me doing the releasing.  She said my face and voice changed every time I moved to a new time and place. We were in her converted office/garage and as I screamed and cried, people came to the window to ask if they should call the police!

Several hours later, we wound up the session and kundalini flooded in–that years-long ride is a whole other story.  So much changed that night.  By then I felt at ease with release work and started sometimes helping Ellen facilitate release sessions.  Now I teach release techniques sometimes and demonstrate yelling, chopping, pounding, etc. without inhibition.  After the Fischer-Hoffman work ended I kept doing the process every time I ran into old unresolved issues.  Then several varieties of body work tended to hit issues and I’d cry or yell on the table (it DOES take having a practitioner you really trust) without a thought.

It kind of amazes me how many people resist that kind of work; often to the point of refusing to do it at all.  My whole life changed when I let go of so much past drama and trauma and a big piece of it was moving from the timid, self-conscious person who felt too afraid to dig that deep or reveal that much to the one who once stood in front of a whole inhibited class who ALL refused to do the techniques while I chopped and yelled and pounded with wild abandon.

Some people race into fires or jump out of airplanes and that kind of courage I don’t have.  In fact never sky diving has a place on my non-existent bucket list.  But I think it takes a different kind of fierceness to face the deeply buried beliefs, issues and traumas that most of us spend our lives trying to avoid.  When it came to that, I was fierce!

Dungeon Prompt: Patterns

USGS Satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay ...

USGS Satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sreejit’s prompt today:

Our life tends to move in cycles.  From the types of relationships that we get in and out of, to the kinds of jobs that we move through, the swing of our moods, or our change in attitudes towards what is happening around us, there tends to be some uniform repetition.  You probably have noticed a pattern in the coming and goings of these things.  Tell us about one such life cycle, or pattern, that you’ve noticed yourself repeating again and again.

I’ve found patterns in my life sometimes operate in cycles and others are more an ingrained thing that causes the habit or thought to be always present.  I’ve worked more on the latter, particularly of late, when ancestral patterns have been my focus.

So I had to think for a bit to come up with a pattern or two that I would also say arose in cycles.

One was moving.  Before I figured out that “wherever I go there I am” I used to pick up and move every time I felt stymied in a place.  Many moves later, Ellen, the facilitator of my Fischer Hoffman group, looked at me one day and said I was following my mother’s pattern.  My dad moved her to Michigan for better job opportunities and she spent thirty some years up there wishing she was still in Kentucky.

I’d forgotten Ellen even knew about that. I’d never connected my pattern of moving to my mother’s perpetual feeling of discontent with where she lived, so Ellen’s insight came as a big revelation.  I tried like anything to stay in California and I’d have happily abandoned the pattern to stay there but the huge expense of life in the Bay Area at a time when my health didn’t allow me to work full time just didn’t work.  Well, unless I developed an attraction for living under a bridge or in my car.

Now, here I am in Kentucky — going on 17 years — and most of the time I’ve regularly wished I were somewhere else.  I’ve been here now longer than any place else and I’m thinking that even when I’m free to leave I probably won’t.  Not sure whether I ended the pattern or just got old and tired of moving.  Plus I have some amazing friends here and I’m tired of leaving amazing people at a distance.

I’ve been too busy trying to get healthy for some years to be bothered with dating but back when I did, I had an unfailing pattern of choosing unavailable men.  One after another.  Not married men.  Just commitment phobic.  Or  serial daters.  Or  controlling SOBs I clearly couldn’t tolerate.  Finally one day I told the Universe if I couldn’t attract anything better I’d prefer no one at all.  And I got what I asked for 🙂

I learned from my mother and an aunt or two to believe that women lose their self hood in marriage and have no choice but to dance to the husband’s tune.  It’s sure how it turned out for them. Eventually I understood that I chose impossible men to have a great excuse for never getting lost in marriage.  I’ve done a lot of healing around that issue but I realize sometimes that some little corner of me still fears getting swallowed by a relationship.

As I feel better, thoughts of getting back out there flit through sometimes.  I alternate between (1) thinking that given the healing process I would attract someone suitable now and (2) figuring it’s all just too much trouble.  One of these days, though, I think I might have just enough curiosity to check out whether I magnetize yet another commitment phobic ass hat or whether I’ve reached a place to attract a good partner.  Maybe.

To be honest, I’ve found it much tougher to delve into the ingrained patterns that ruled my days 24/7.  I don’t know that I’ve completely dumped any of them but I’ve succeeded in living from a different set of beliefs and patterns 90-95% of the time.  Which leaves a significant amount of time for dancing to the old tunes.

For me, the issues of moving or not moving or marrying or not marrying are pretty inconsequential and don’t make much difference.  Moving toward serenity and inner peace through releasing patterns that go the other way feels more important so I focus more on healing those issues — and notice that some of these other patterns fall away or shift as the healing deepens.  And yes, I’m aware of the theme within these themes of keeping my distance… 😉

Dungeon Prompts: In Hindsight

The Dungeon Prompts challenge this week–for which I’m barely making the deadline since it went up last Thursday– is:

All of our mistakes have made us into the people that we are today, and so this is not meant to be an exercise in regret, but rather a fun look back with the thought, “that was maybe not such a great idea.”  Tell us about a past exploit of your younger, less wise self.

The article that you link to this prompt should be a new post written specifically for this assignment. 

For the most part I’ve come to believe there are no mistakes, just a journey of many possible paths and twists and turns.  In hindsight many odd side-steps and seemingly “wrong” paths have all brought me skills or wisdom or helpful people or insights or growth that are all contributing now to the whole tapestry I’m weaving.  No mistakes, just lots of colors and patterns to help me create the work of art that is my life.

Bell bottoms.

Bell bottoms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the interest of living up to the “fun” aspect of the challenge, I thought of a few:

  1. Back in the early 70’s feminists burned bras and my friends and I joined the bra-less trend.  What were we thinking?
  2. Also back in the 70’s, hip-hugger bell bottoms.  Seriously.  Who thought that up?  I don’t mind the bell bottoms so much but that low riding thing…  I can’t believe it came back in both outer and under wear.  Really.  One round of it long ago and I NEVER wanted to revisit.  However many pairs I had, it was that many pairs too many.
  3. Deciding the sauce I was cooking for the main course at a dinner party would be fine simmering on the stove while I ran an errand and coming back to find it reduced to just about nothing so I had to make another.
  4. Walking on a deck with lots of steps up and steps down while carrying a view-blocking pile of stuff.  Oops.

Dungeon Prompts: What is my church


The Dungeon Prompt today at Seeker’s Dungeon is:

Today’s Prompt:

We’ve all heard the expression, “you took me to church,” meaning you gave it your all and I was feeling the spirit. But people experience the colloquial church in many different ways.  Some experience it during Football Sundays, or with music or dance, or in a relationship.  While others may experience it in an actual church, temple, mosque, synagogue or in nature.  This week tell us about what takes you to church.  If you are writing about your place of worship, then tell us what part of the experience puts you over the edge. Is it the sermon?  The music?  The testifying? Or are there other life experiences that, although may not be outwardly religious, fill you with incomparable joy.

The moments I’m “taken to church” are rarely in a church (building) or at a service.  Although I’ve had moments of joy while holding hands with those around me and singing “Let there be peace on earth,” at a variety of Unity churches, I’d say far more have come at workshops and gatherings at which a group has joined in harmonic energy in order to perform a ceremony or prayer or offering.

A whole group quietly reverent together and joined in the purpose of love or peace or compassion is so powerful!  I feel the exponential impact of two or more gathered together and creating something more — more power, more love, more heart…

I think the first time I experienced it was many years ago at a Shirley MacLaine workshop.  There were something like 1,000 partcipants and at the end of the last day we all joined hands as she led us on a meditation connecting our energy in love and sending it out in ever-widening circles around the world.  I hadn’t felt anything so immense before.

A few years later, at Nine Gates Mystery School, we spent two 10-day sessions learning –among many other things– how to build energy in a particular chakra and hold that space as a group.  For a few more years I went back as staff.  Part of our job was getting into the energy of whichever chakra the group was working on and to hold that energy in the room no matter what happened.  Now, whenever I go to an event with Nine Gates graduates, whether or not I’ve met them before, I realize that at some point we’ve moved into an energy space together.

I’ve experienced it at many spiritual gatherings and when I lead a group I generally use the “resonation” exercise from Nine Gates to bring the group into heart space.  That sense of harmony and oneness when people drop their personal stuff and everyday worries and let the sweetness of their divine selves radiate–that’s what brings me to church.  Every time.

It’s there, too, when I’m alone and go inward.  Whether I speak the lovingkindness chant or sing chants or meditate, when I reach that place of quiet and connection where the divine in me dwells, that’s church.

Check out other answers to this prompt at Seeker’s Dungeon