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:

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J2P: Finding the Peaceful Space

Ever since the troubling U.S. election results in November, I’ve been on a mission to find and hold the space of peace.  I’d been heading toward a directional shift in my personal journey, a shift from searching out issues and beliefs to release to affirming the life I wish to live, including a lot of practice directed to holding a loving heart space and being peace.  It’s taken me a while to realize how the external political events helped me to solidify my new direction.  And how the new direction has changed my reaction to the external events…

The first several months after the election I kept to a regular metta (lovingkindness) practice along with singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti.  Suddenly all kinds of materials about self love and finding peace began coming my way.  Among several gifts I accepted was a free Louise Hay book which led me work through lessons involving her mirror work;  I originally encountered it 30 years or more ago but didn’t do it.

I actually felt this was probably the first time I was ready for the work and in a position to really feel its impacts.  Not a big fireworks kind of impact after 30+ years of seeking, releasing, transforming, etc., but a quiet shift into a more positive space and a warmer relationship with myself.   I got another book on mirror work and plan to do those practices too.

A Patricia Cota-Robles video called to me and for something like 7 months I’ve played it as I go to sleep.  The message feels powerful to me and expresses exactly the affirmations for our times that I want to live and propagate.  Falling asleep to such a powerful message has been influencing my thinking and my reactions.  I also was fortunate to have a chance to see Patricia at an appearance here in Kentucky; the power of a whole group gathered in the name of love and peace felt amazing.

A Steve Nobel meditation on YouTube tapped me on the shoulder a number of times this summer and I’ve been slotting it into my various  practices at least once a week since.  Energetically I always feel a huge impact; one of the many things for which I can’t name a “real world” effect with a direct link but it feels amazing and as if it’s shifting me on an energetic level.

I first ran into the Solfeggio frequencies a couple of years ago but only recently looked more deeply into the story of these ancient tones that were trimmed from the annals of organized religion.  Lots of recordings are available on Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube (I’m sure elsewhere, but those are the three I use) and I’ve been playing the tones for several hours a day for a while now.  It’s another place where I can feel an energetic impact and can’t tell you if or what the precise effect on everyday life may be.

Perhaps the most important piece for me came from Facebook and my distress at the barrage of negative and mean-spirited posts flooding my “wall” for the first few months after the election.  Initially I passed along some informational pieces as well, but as I grew more calm I felt I wanted a different tone altogether.

I began searching among the daily posts and then searching elsewhere on the web for positive news every day and passing along evidence of the many great things that are happening in the world if only we choose to look at them instead of being mesmerized by the negative.

Slowly I’ve been realizing this collection of peaceful and peace-loving activities has been moving me into a space where I can look at something outrageous #45 has done or at a piece bemoaning the probable end of the world and feel… nothing.  Not numb.  Not in denial.  Just no longer moved by it.

When a friend thanked me for the positive tone I’ve been keeping on FB, I suddenly realized how happy it has been making me to seek out and pass along the news that speaks of a world full of amazing people doing amazing things every day.  The total impact of all the ways in which I’ve been holding my focus on lovingkindness, peace and positive news has been to shift me.  I now live in a place where I believe we are moving to the good and you can’t sway me from it.

No way to tell which of the many things I’ve been up to has had an impact but I like to thing the whole collection of practices and focusing on good news have combined to move me into this new place of calm certainty.

I believe much of what is happening is just part of the shift into a new world of compassion and peace.  I believe in the essential goodness of humanity and in holding a vibrational space that helps to lift everyone into love and compassion.  Where are you choosing to look?  What space are you choosing to hold?

Next J2P post will explore healing whatever parts of us are held in thrall by negativity.

 

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Start the Revolution Without Me?

 

This is one of those posts I’ve debated about for a while — which blog?  which blog?  I’ve been doing some occasional political pieces on the Scribblings blog, but ultimately I decided this one has messages that suit both.  So I’m posting on both– not even a reblog just the same post in two places…

Lately I’ve been slowly realizing how everything I’ve done since college has been adding up to something forming in the now; a purpose and direction born long before this spiritual journey began as a conscious process.

I got to Northwestern University in 1970 and by the end of my freshman year I was radicalized.  A lot of revolution talk floated in the air around the anti-war movement and I felt both excited and unnerved by it. Puzzled by the enthusiasm being expressed by “peaceniks” for a process usually containing violence and horror — however great the outcome might be. (Though really, historically speaking, I’d have to say an awful lot of revolutions made things worse instead of better….)

It fascinated me, so I began to study.  Technically I majored in history and had an English minor, but I put together my own course of study.  An instructor with a forthcoming book on the “Power Elite” (the people of money who, behind the scenes, ran/run much of what happened/happens) ignited more fascination and I started taking classes on 20th century history, political systems, economic systems, political philosophy, political sociology, etc.  I wanted to know what the plan should/would be for a replacement if we wanted to tear the current structure down.  I wanted to find out if there was a path to change without violence.  I never lost sight of the deep questions about whether those who were shouting about revolution really understood the ramifications.  They also shouted about peace and the contradiction troubled me.

I tried to continue this work as a graduate student in sociology, but fellowship money wound up side-tracking me into the Center for Urban Affairs.  I learned more stuff that influences me still, not the least of which was a massive review of literature on crime statistics and the startling revelation that the probabilities of being a victim of most of the major felonies (robbery, burglary, assault, murder, rape, etc.) had not changed since at least the 1940’s.  (see previous post for more info)

I’ve continued to periodically check for updated studies and it has remained true to this day–and I now know the unchanged probabilities actually extend far back beyond the 1940’s.  It’s remained a central point for me, the realization that fear and perception of what’s real can be manipulated by how the facts are presented and what the media and people in power choose to bring to our attention.  And in these days, when positive news is available in a few seconds of internet searching, it’s also about what we choose to focus upon.

My law career was spent mainly on cases fighting nuclear power plants one way or another and I learned a lot about the real story there and how the utility companies, in collusion with the government, have tried to create a benign view of the nuclear industry that’s out of alignment with the facts.

I used to count all of those earlier studies and jobs out of my thoughts about how various elements of “my path” have added up to where I am now and what I am meant to do.  But as these wild times have ignited me to renewed interest in these big questions about politics and economics, I’m seeing how the Universe has guided me to gather what I need for my whole adult life, not just from the point when I began to explore myself as a spiritual being.  I still don’t see exactly where it leads, though that book I decided to write months ago on peaceful activism remains in the forefront of my thoughts.

Going back to the undergraduate studies, Oskar Lange‘s book, On the Economic Theory of Socialism, moved me, convinced me and provided the basic framework for what I would like to see that has guided my political thinking ever since.  While I love Social Democratic philosophy and especially how it has played out in Denmark, I remain aware that the U.S. has reached a point where powerful money forces have entrenched themselves so deeply in the political fabric that it may well require a revolution to make a change.

Through all the years I’ve watched the left leaning side of the Democratic party (and those who, like me, are somewhere left of the party but vote for it out of expediency), I’ve been amused and bemused by the unending chatter about changing this deeply rooted political principle or that deeply entrenched lobby group.  They speak of it as though just electing a few of the right people and/or passing the right laws will be all it takes to turn everything around.

My personal feeling has long been that it will take something far more earth shattering than electing “the right” people to revamp our system into a Social Democracy.   In an ironic sense I have a feeling the election of #45 may be the catalyst that does it, but that’s another rambling for another day…

My perspective now includes years of spiritual seeking, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, chanting, etc. and my beliefs have shifted to encompass a more spiritual and less political view.  I believe in peace.  I believe in compassion.  I believe in lovingkindness.  And I’m still striving to find a way to change the world without a revolution–or at least by fomenting a peaceful and compassionate one.

I’m unhappy about the anger and vitriol on display from both sides while at the same time understanding we probably need this time of erupting anger to clear a lot of buried stuff.  I’m unenthusiastic about “resistance” being the main banner of the movement for social democracy.

I am very clear it is more powerful to be “for” something than it is to be against something and I believe it is time for a platform of social change in which we are FOR equality, FOR universal health care, FOR equal rights for all humans of every race, nationality, gender and sexual orientation, FOR a basic decent quality of life for all humans–maybe FOR a new Social Democratic party?…  Time to stop speaking of our striving in battle terms and instead to be positive about what we’re doing to create what we believe in.

I am also clear that much of humanity discounts the role many of us have been playing as we have cleared old issues, struggled to become more loving, more kind, more compassionate…  Much of humanity doesn’t believe in peaceful means.  I understand that most people don’t get the web of all life or comprehend we are energy beings first and foremost; energy beings who are interconnected and whose thoughts and feelings as well as actions impact all of life.

I believe the biggest revolution may be the one that can and must happen in our hearts.  Which is not to say peaceful activism doesn’t also have a role.  But more than anything I believe now is the moment to clear any vestiges of fear and anger IN YOU, raise your energy vibration toward love, toward compassion, toward higher consciousness.  You can’t make anybody else change their thoughts or learn to meditate or choose peace.  Only you can do it. Only I can do it.  Peace begins with me.  Peace begins with you.

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J2P Monday: Prisoners, Healing and Us

Last week I posted about Oprah’s interview with Bryan Stevenson, which I’ve again embedded — I found it so inspiring, I want to make sure everyone has a chance to see it.  As I watched I also felt inspired to issue a big challenge.

I’m really issuing it as a two-tier challenge.  The usual challenge for everyone to consider crime and prisoners and heal yourself is below.  First, though:  as I watched and listened to Stevenson’s great compassion for prisoners I started thinking about Hew Len and his work with the criminally insane.

The short version:  Hew Len was asked to help out at a ward for the criminally insane where conditions were so bad the staff turned over constantly, inmates never improved, etc.  Without ever seeing a patient, Hew Len sat in an office with their files and healed IN HIMSELF anything he saw in the files that needed healing.  Because everything you see in the world you created, so if you see a problem healing yourself heals the problem.  Longer version is here.

It didn’t take long before patients went off meds, patients who had to be shackled walked free, staff came to work every day… and then things improved so much the ward closed.  He NEVER SAW A SINGLE PATIENT!  He only healed himself.  Info about the prayer he uses is here.

Suddenly I had a BIG idea.  What if we could get a network going all over the country — or better yet, how about all around the world??? — of groups who go to prisons and heal in themselves every problem they see in every file of every prisoner?  And/or catch it earlier and have groups reading the files of kids in Juvenile Detention and healing themselves of every problem they see?

So my first challenge is bigger than any I’ve made.  For this one I’m asking you to get it out there on social media.  Let’s spread the word and spark a movement!  I’m better at vision than execution but if anyone wants to take up the challenge and try to coordinate a broad movement I’ll be happy to help in any way I can.  If anyone wants help to start something in their state or province or county, etc., I’ll be happy to step up.

I see a threshold issue of getting permission to go into the prisons and get access to the files, so if someone has an answer for that, I’ll get the word out.  It may be as easy as asking or going in under the umbrella of a church or it may take forming a 501(c)(3) [for folks in other countries, that’s the U.S. tax designation for a nonprofit organization].

Results will be measurable.  When the prayers are healing the inmates, recidivism will start going down and to whatever extent they keep records on violent incidents within the prisons, the rate will go down.  Ultimately crime rates go down.  So this is a chance to use ho’oponopono in a setting where tangible results will occur.  Just as Hew Len’s work erased the need for the ward, a network praying at all the prisons can reduce prison populations and crime.

Is anyone in with me?  Does this inspire any of you?

My usual challenge is for all of you to examine this issue in yourselves.  In this case, it’s a question of looking at your beliefs about crime and criminals.  Whether you believe in punishment or in rehabilitation, whether you believe many criminals have excuses due to hard childhoods or you believe there is no excuse, where does your belief come from?

Is fear involved in forming your view?  Does your view come from your heart and a place of compassion?  If not, why not?  What do you think causes people to commit crimes?  Name all the reasons you can think of for why people are in prison.

For every reason you name, say the prayer.  Heal those reasons in you.  Or if you have another healing modality you like, do that.  For every problem you believe exists in society related to crime, heal it in you.

Examples:

For all my beliefs that I have been abandoned or mistreated, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

For all my fears that someone may hurt me, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

For any feeling of lack within me, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

For any violent feelings I hold toward others, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

You’ve got the idea.  Go forth and heal!

Even if we never go into a prison, I think if we pray for the “us” in every “criminal” we see on the news and for every prisoner in general and heal in all of us the “problems” in us that we project into what we see in the world, we can change the world.

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That peace thing again :-)

Don’t forget to check out your schedule for Sunday and find 10 minutes to chant or pray for peace!

And a reminder that I’ll be posting the first Journey2Peace challenge on Monday — hope LOTS of you will participate by writing posts.  See here for info on the challenges.

Collective Prayer Sundays:  In case you’re new, we’re finding 10 minutes at a minimum to pray or chant or meditate (or???) for peace every Sunday.  Details are on the CPS page.  For comments:  you can comment here or on that page or you can go to the Facebook page.