J2P Monday: Compassion, resistance and supporting each other

It’s been a long time since I put up a #Journey2Peace Monday post and I’ve been feeling it’s time for one lately.  Nearly seven months into the so-called Presidency of #45, I’m still struggling sometimes to find peace.  But I’m finding and holding a space of peace more and more.

Along with it I carry a sense of optimism and a growing feeling that a better world is arising from what seems like chaos now.  I’ll be doing some more blogs with ho’oponopono/healing suggestions soon.  In the meantime I have a couple of ideas and I’m looking for input.

A while back I got one of the strongest messages from spirit I’ve had in a long time. A message that my purpose right now is not so much teaching what I know to people who are newer to the path, but to hold a space and help those who share my views on compassionate activism and lovingkindness, etc.  I know a lot of like-minded people–both through this blog and among many long-time friends–who are struggling as well but truly desire to live a life of compassion and lovingkindness.

After giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to float two ideas.  One is to create a weekly or monthly blog post on topics that support living a life of peace and compassion and/or that point to positive things happening in the world.  This post would also open the floor for commentary from anyone seeking support in the journey to peace and from anyone with words of wisdom to share; it could also be a day when any of you can write a post on the topic and link.

I also have an idea floating around about starting a private Facebook group/page wherein we can all speak safely about whatever our doubts, worries, fears and tensions are and also share our optimism, practices that help, etc.  I was getting ready to do something like it for a small group of healers here in the Bluegrass to which I belong but I’ve been feeling it should expand to include this blogging community.

Barbara Franken, of Me, My Magnificent Self, has started an open Facebook group called New Earth Community that’s about support in this time of change:  a “sacred, quiet and safe space in which to birth the new YOU and new life you wish to experience on New Earth.”  My idea definitely overlaps, but I more specifically am aiming for a safe space in which we can support one another in holding our spiritual ideals of compassion and lovingkindness in the face of political turmoil.  So you can join both and get lots of support on many endeavors!!!

There are a bunch of folks who have been liking and commenting on my posts for a long time and whose blogs I’ve been reading and commenting upon as well — and many of you follow one another.  You know who you are.  Once I get the page together, anyone from this blogging group who asks will get an invitation to the private group (those of you with whom I’m already connected on Facebook will receive an invitation there– probably whether you ask or not 🙂 ).  Anyone who’s newer around here can ask to join after you’ve done some commenting and by leaving your blog’s URL.

Right now, what I’m interested in is commentary from this community about

  1. the regular supportive post idea
  2. the Facebook group idea
  3. what you could use or would like to see in terms of support in these times

Thanks in advance everybody!

PS.  Since I’m not in love with figuring out how to do stuff like the FB page, I might be slow.   Foot dragging… Procrastinating…

J2P Monday: Part 1 Peace begins with you

My Himalayan Salt Lamp

My Himalayan Salt Lamp

I recently wrote a series of posts about peaceful activism (it ends here and the post has links to all the others at the end) and I recently mentioned I wanted to turn it into a book.  While ruminating I’ve realized there must be a discussion of the importance of individuals “being peace”at the core of any such movement.

Thought I’d start with a series of simple ideas in posts here and the first suggestions are about helping to create an environment for yourself in which it is easier to feel positive and serene.

Many of us live in homes where some inhabitants are not on the same spiritual journey.  Most of us live in areas where lots of negative thinking swirls around us regularly, whether it’s neighbors, coworkers, family members or the media–social or traditional.  It can be difficult to hold a space of peace when it is constantly challenged by chaos.

Your Own Space

Whether you have a room you can devote to meditation and quiet or you’ve just put a cushion in a corner and announced it’s your meditation spot or you’ve carved out an area for an altar and a zabuton in the den, create a spot that no one else enters and keep it sacred.

No one else should be allowed in that corner or area or room.  This helps to hold the energy you’re creating there and keeps down the amount of interference from others with less peaceful energy.

Place one or more objects that say “sacred space” to you, whether it’s a candle, an essential oil diffuser, a statue of Kwan Yin, a crystal or a combination of items like those.  The items are not the source of peacefulness but they provide a focus for your attention and will increasingly say “peaceful” to your spirit when you move into that space.

Negative Ions

Increasingly we’re bombarded with positive ions which, ironically, are bad for us physically, emotionally and energetically.  From technology to electric cords to air pollution and allergens, we live surrounded by things emitting positive ions all the time so it’s up to us to counteract with negative ions.

Nature is a great provider of negative ions.  Even just a walk outside or a stroll on the beach can provide you with enough negative ions to shift your positive/negative ion ratio.  A pounding surf or a waterfall can restore balance and leave you feeling uplifted.

In the house there are a variety of things you can easily do.  My current favorite is my Himalayan salt lamp.  This salt when warmed by a bulb emits negative ions.  Within a couple of weeks I slept better and my nagging allergy issues by and large disappeared.  Months in I feel it’s contributing to my slowly increasing energy.

Many table fountains are available and the moving water sends negative ions into the room.  When I first read about the negative/positive ion issue years ago I went out and bought a fountain.  I’ve had a few and I love them but I live in an area where there’s so much lime in the water it became too hard to keep the mechanism clean and clear.  If you don’t have the water issue, it’s a lovely way to fill your home with negative ions.

Taking a shower will give you a personal hit of negative ions; its one of the reasons you may feel uplifted or energized after a shower.

Tourmaline and amethyst crystals also provide negative ions so you can buy stones to place in your house and/or get jewelry with those stones to wear as you move through your day.

Many house plants can also help with negative ions.  See here for a list of plants to consider.

Smudge sticks, essential oils and incense

Scents can do so much to make an atmosphere and/or create a feeling.  I’ve always loved perfume and scented things so I make use of many varieties.

Smudge sticks are a combination of sage and cedar or sage and sweetgrass, sometimes with one or more other herbs.  I use loose sage and cedar in a shell instead of a stick.  Sage cleanses and clears negative energy.  Cedar both clears negative and attracts positive energy.

I don’t do it as often as I should, but I try to clear my room periodically and I always smudge when I create a circle for ceremony or meditation. Escential Essences, possibly my favorite incense company, makes one called Kachina Dreams which is sage and cedar so you can keep cleansing the energy with the ease of lighting an incense stick.

I most frequently burn the Sai Baba Nag Champa but I also use various scents from Escential Essences if I have a particular atmosphere I want to create.  Some other faves are Buddhist Temple, Ocean Atlantis and Purification.

I also have an essential oil diffuser in which I use Amrita (recommended by my aromatherapist) essential oils — sometimes one of their blends, sometimes a combo of individual oils I choose to put together.  More often these days I just wear the oil…

As long as no one in your home is allergic to scents or smoke, it’s a great way to create a sense of peace or spiritual purpose.

Music

Music pours so much energy into a room and you can shift the atmosphere by choosing music that creates a peaceful space.  I often leave a peaceful playlist running in my room and when I teach yoga or a spiritual workshop I choose music to create a mood.

Although I have a number of yoga nidra recordings the only one I use is Experience Yoga Nidra.  Besides a short and a long version of yoga nidra, it has a short music recording, Travel through the Space of Experience which is an Indian piece designed to balance the chakras.  I often put the track on repeat and play it throughout a class or leave it looping in my room all day.  It’s amazing what an energy it creates.

I also play Deva Premal chant playlists or various kirtan chant recordings or one of Jonathan Goldman’s or Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s healing sound recordings.  Obviously there are choices by the thousands, just give some thought to whether you want to promote peace or balance or healing, etc. and play music that creates that feeling.  If you can put a playlist on repeat and leave it running in an area in which you spend a lot of time.

***

Choose one or more things that appeal to you and then start creating an atmosphere of peace and calm either throughout your home or in your space.  You can also wear an essential oil and, say, an amethyst necklace wherever you go so you’re bolstered in holding your space of peacefulness.

 

J2P Finding love instead of hate

English: White peace dove in the air with wing...

English: White peace dove. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s reached a point in all the fallout following the election when I’m having trouble deciding whether I’m more perturbed by the bigoted, racist, misogynists who voted for Trump or the supposedly spiritual and kinder Democrats I know who are spewing hatred just as steadily.

I’ll admit, right up front, in spite of years of trying to be a person who holds only a space of lovingkindness, I considered Trump one of the most disgusting and despicable people on the planet YEARS before he decided to run for President, so this election has challenged me right in the center of the divide between who I want to be and who I too often still am.

But I truly believe there’s no such thing as righteous hatred.  There’s either loving or hating.  Vicious attacks on those who hold different viewpoints are just vicious and hateful regardless of how sincerely you believe your viewpoint is right and the other is wrong.  And hate just begets more hate.  If hating isn’t okay, then there’s no group or individual it’s okay to hate.  Hating haters just makes you a hater too.

I believe in one web of all life.  The web pulsates to whatever we all feed into it.  If there are more people feeding hate than love, then wars and torture and discrimination and crimes against humanity expand and grow stronger.  When enough people hold compassion and love in their hearts, the web can finally hold love strongly enough for it to rule.

I also believe thoughts of hatred have energy and power and go out into the world.  If you send hate to the President-elect, an energy of hatred permeates his life and his being.  How do you imagine that translates into decision- and policy-making?  Is more bigotry, racism, and misogyny what you want to fuel?  Do you want to see how much bigger his tantrums can be when millions are sending the energy of hate to surround him every minute of every day?

I propose love is the answer.  I propose sending healing and love.  I propose finding forgiveness in our hearts and holding a space of peace and compassion no matter what.  I propose we fill the web with so much love the whole world is bathed in it and changed by it.

SOME HEALING SUGGESTIONS

  • If you know how to do long distance Reiki, send Reiki
  • Use this Huna healing technique.  Sit comfortably and close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths and center.  Visualize a screen and see Trump or the KKK or whatever political figure or appointee you think needs healing (or whichever one(s) your heart needs to heal about) on the screen.  Use your inner awareness to see where healing is needed and direct healing to that place.  You might see energy moving there, you might see one color and feel a need to change it to another, you might hear a sound and change it, you might feel a vibration and the need to shift it, you might breathe into it.  If you do any kind of healing with your hands, you might imagine directing that energy.  Your inner voice will know what to do, just follow it.  Continue until you feel you have done all you can.  Repeat this exercise as necessary.
  • Check out my post from a few days ago and use the lovingkindness chant to heal your heart and send love.
  • Discover in yourself the source of every bit of fear and anger you feel and use the ho’oponopono prayer to heal it.  To do this, name each fear or incident or origin of anger and say:  I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you

Note:  I’ve written often about using ho’oponopono, including many examples of examining an issue to find the components to heal.  Click the Journey2Peace tab above and meander through the posts.

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J2P: Women’s Issues and Healing

Suffragette (women's rights movement) Emmeline...

Suffragette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the arenas in which I have been really disturbed by Trump and the voters of America is the subject of women and women’s rights.

I feel like he’s made it quite clear he thinks it’s perfectly all right for men to grope and molest and sexually harass women any time they want.  And that makes me feel anyone who voted for him was basically saying they favor that.

I know young women today are for some reason turned off to the women’s movement and that bugs me (which I’ve discussed here) but I don’t think they get how bad it was or how recently.

HOW IT WAS

You see I am old enough that when I had my first jobs, there were no sexual harassment laws.  It was perfectly acceptable for a man to follow you into a supply closet or an alcove and grab your butt or your breast.  And they did it often and casually.  In those days if a woman spoke up about it, the man didn’t get fired, SHE did.  It’s because of feminists that we are protected by sexual harassment laws.

I was date raped in college.  In those days you didn’t dare tell anyone because the assumption was that you were a slut, it was somehow your fault and you would be shamed — not him.  It was because of feminists that rape started being handled with sensitivity to victims.

Once, upon leaving a fund raising event at a church, a young drunk guy who happened by ran up to me as I walked alone to my car and grabbed my breast.  I got away from him and flagged down a cop.  When the police came to interview me later, the male cop in the duo thought it was hysterically funny that I thought anything was wrong about being assaulted on the street.

When I was heading off to college all of us girls were being told we could be nurses or teachers and of course we’d only do that for a few years till we got married and had families.  We were among the first women who gained the freedom to work at every kind of job and to choose whether we wanted to marry or not.  We broke down doors and opened career paths women had never been able to choose before.  Feminists did that.

Our mothers were by and large married to men who not only didn’t want them to work but thought of them as lesser beings whose opinions didn’t matter.  Not long before, in my grandmother’s generation, women who brought property to a marriage had no control over it once the knot was tied–my grandfather even had the gall to leave her fortune in a trust when he died so she still had no power over it.

My generation of women were the first whose husbands “let them work” and opened the way for the many modern marriages in which husbands support their wives’ careers and work with them on finding equal footing in the marriage.  Women now can have their own credit cards and property.  Feminists brought these changes about.

Donald Trump’s commentary about women says to me he’d like to see a return to the way things were when I was young.  You know, when it was acceptable to grope women any time any place, when women were assumed to have caused their own rapes, when women weren’t thought to be capable of holding their own in the work force and husbands controlled the money.

When I look at the election votes, to me it seems nearly 60 million Americans are saying they think it would be fine to take us back to that.  I don’t see how anyone could vote for him without on some level consenting to returning women to the dark ages.

WHAT I CAN HEAL

As you can see, I’m pretty pissed off… at Trump, at those who voted for him and at younger generations who think feminism is irrelevant to them.  And that’s alternating with being teary and upset at the idea of going back to being humiliated and objectified as the younger version of me was.  And I know if I’m ticked at other people or sad about other people, there are issues at play that are mine.

There are things to heal in me.  Because everything I see in the world reflects what is in me.  And what’s in me I can choose to explore and heal.

In this situation I find myself asking:

  • How have I let the Divine Feminine in me down?
  • How am I failing to stand strong in my own being?
  • What have I still not healed from past sexual harassment and assault?
  • What’s the real source of fearing/attracting harassment and assault?
  • Is there something I want to have recognized or recognize within myself about my place in the women’s movement?
  • How do I not honor my femininity?

As I explore there may be more.  Sometimes it helps to name it.  Sometimes it can just be healed…

THE HEALING

You know I like to use ho’oponopono, which I’ve discussed in many posts, starting here.  But healing can happen in many ways.  You might do Reiki on yourself, you might see a therapist, you might go to a healer or forge a new path…  It doesn’t really matter which way you choose, just heal.

For me, I see a number of ho’oponopono prayers here:

  • For every way in which I fail to honor the feminine in me, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • If I am suppressing my own strength or power, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • If I still hold on to wounds or resentments about past harassment or assaults, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For anything in me that magnetizes abusers/abuse, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • If I am upset with others because I crave recognition, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
  • For any way in which I fail to honor my femininity, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you

No one else has the power to make me angry or hurt me unless I grant that power.  Whatever I see out there arises from what is in me and I can heal myself.

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J2P Peace Begins with Me

I admit it, I was stunned when I checked in on the election results late in the returns and realized Trump was going to win.  My stomach clenched, I had trouble sleeping, I spent much of the day in a state of dazed denial.

There are a number of aspects of this I’ll be working through and I’m sure I’ll post along the way.  But today for me was just a process of pulling back from the clenching and upset and getting my center back.

After thoroughly loving Elizabeth Lesser’s latest book, Marrow, I’m now reading and loving her earlier book, Broken Open.  In one of those moments the Universe synchronizes so well, I picked it up to read for a while after climbing into bed last night and I opened to a section in which she talked about a day when she was terribly upset about environmental issues.  The upset led to learning she can see an issue, be upset by it, and choose to die to it.  Perfect.

I can be upset by this and choose to die to it.  Put in those terms it doesn’t resonate for me quite the way I gather it does for her, but it was a starting place — and I try always to take note when the Universe plops an answer right into my lap.  So I fell uneasily asleep telling myself I was dying to this issue.  To me it means letting it go, accepting “what is” and moving on to a new space where my heart has expanded and includes more in its love.

I absolutely believe if I’m seeing problems “out there” or “in them” that throw me into fear or anger or any strong reaction, I know I’m looking at something in me.  And if it’s in me I can heal it.  But today I knew before I could get to the healing I needed to just settle down and find a way back to calm and some ability to be compassionate.

I decided it’s time for the lovingkindness chant.  But first I rode my exercise bike.  I knew I needed to work off some of the extra angst and exercise always help take tension down a few notches.  I also like the bike for the regular motion and rhythm because it helps to bring me back to circulating stuck energy and regular breaths.

Quieted down enough after my ride to feel I could sit and focus, I moved on to the chant–the version I use is from Jack Kornfield’s Path With Heart.  First 10 minutes for myself:

  • I am filled with lovingkindness
  • I am well
  • I am peaceful and at ease
  • I am happy

Like many practices, if something in me stands in the way of the energy of the chant, it tends to rise up.  Sometimes it might be incidents that unfold over a few days or weeks, bringing me face to face with whatever needs healing, but this time I immediately felt the disbelief and discontent pushing back against the chant.  After a few minutes I wept and chanted, chanted and wept.  And then the peace moved in and my heart started warming as I continued repeating those words I love.

Next up I chanted 10 minutes for Trump.  I began it as an affirmation, the way I said it for myself.  Something in me instantly began to fight and I started crying again.  I realized I needed to chant it to the more prayerful form in which it is usually spoken:

  • May Trump be filled with lovingkindness
  • May  he be well
  • May he be peaceful and at ease
  • May he be happy

The change shifted it for me — I could say it as a prayer for him but I couldn’t say it as if it already were true.  With the shift I settled in and moved deeper.  I could feel my heart expand and I realized saying the chant for someone, while it may or may not also help that person, is something to do for your own peace, to clear your own heart.

I finished with 10 minutes of chanting for America.

  • May America be filled with lovingkindness
  • May she be well
  • May she be peaceful and at ease
  • May she be happy

I’m still a little dazed and uneasy but I’m also in a more peaceful place.  Back in 2002, in the lead up to the Iraq war, it took a little over a week of daily chanting for Bush before I broke through into a place of feeling the oneness.  I figure it will take time again.

So I plan to chant every day.  Because the only person whose peacefulness I can control or change is me.  Peace begins with me.  It also begins with you.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with each of us.

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J2P Monday: About Unwinding Muscles

I decided to take a little break from using ho’oponopono for healing and instead to bring up an issue from my healing journey that I think also relates to peace.

Few people in the western world make it very far past early childhood these days without developing tight, tense muscles.  Often emotions and issues not dealt with are stuffed into those tight holding patterns  The longer such patterns go without being healed, the more  the patterns spread over the whole body and the more deeply rooted the unacknowledged issues become.

When muscles are tight the knots and twists squeeze the nerves, blood vessels and nadis.  Then blood, oxygen and prana are unable to flow freely, which impacts physical, emotional and spiritual health.  Only when the flow is free can your body experience fully vibrant health and connection to high levels of consciousness.

Hatha yoga developed out of the knowledge that energy must flow freely throughout the body in order to find connection to higher consciousness and to be the Divinely loving being each of us came here to be.  Modern yoga practice in the west often seems to forget that the point of the asanas was not so much physical fitness as energy fitness — opening the nadis (energy pathways through which prana flows) and balancing the chakras.

When muscles have become really tight or have intertwined with others into tight patterns, restoring health is, in part, a process of unwinding.  The muscles can open mainly (but not exclusively) from:

  • certain types of exercise, like yoga or the triggers of release work I do
  • certain types of body work
  • emotional release.

Sometimes a couple of these things happen together.

Often there’s a release in a muscle at the time someone is working on you or when you let go of some emotion but it’s just the first opening.  The initial release creates some space and the muscles release more over the next few days.

I first experienced the phenomenon when the bone in my left lower leg straightened 25 or so years ago.  The bone was twisted from birth, which meant a lot of muscles were pulled out of place.  By the time of the healing, I’d had decades for those muscles to pull on other muscles which then pulled on others; there were issues all over my body that all came from the original twisted leg.

When the bone moved back into place, all the connected muscles suddenly had some freedom and were also being pulled in a new direction.  It unleashed an unwinding process that would begin at my left foot and move, section by section up into my neck and then start back down.  For months afterward I experienced these releases, the muscles yanking and jerking and causing involuntary movements all the way up and down.

So I was reasonably prepared when, after many other varieties of body work, I came to CranioSacral work.  It’s quite typical in this therapy for a release to occur in the appointment — one you may not even feel on the table — and then to have many big releases starting the next day and possibly for several days thereafter.

In fact, it was CranioSacral work that opened enough stuff in my head about 13 years ago to start the unwinding process that continued on its own until now (when the last throes are finally working their way out).  Once I was years in, friends occasionally would ask if I knew of this happening to other people.  It was unusual enough that some practitioners didn’t believe me when I tried to tell them about the unwinding muscles in my head.

Though I’ve known a few people who’ve experienced a lot of unwinding in their muscles, I’ve only found one other who’s experienced the years-long process I’ve been going through.  So, after a recent question about whether this is common, I started hunting on line.  I discovered there’s now a type of bodywork centered around unwinding, which seems to be based in part on working to further the kind of opening created by CranioSacral and Body Patterning.

Even in the modalities in which it’s normal to set off unwinding of knots in muscles the conversations are usually about days and sometimes weeks or as much as a few months.  I’ve not found anything that discusses a decade plus of unwinding, so I think it’s unusual enough I doubt you have to worry about setting something off that goes on as long as my process.

Unwinding can be uncomfortable or even painful.  But when muscles unwind, the process frees the nadis, circulatory system and nerves in  your body and allows energy and oxygen to flow freely.  Huge amounts of energy become tied up in holding those patterns, leaving you tired and listless and the opening restores your stamina.

If you want to be peace, to live from the place of peace, you need to have a healthy body in which vital force energy (prana or chi) can move freely.  Practitioners often don’t discuss — or in many cases seem to know about — unwinding and how it can go on for some time or that it may hurt or be annoying.

When you start healing and/or releasing issues or your body, you should be aware there’s a chance you will unleash some sort of unwinding.  Personally, I enjoy it for the most part (when I’m not whining about it 🙂 ) because I know it’s leading to the healthy body and healthy flow of energy I desire.  I recommend embracing the discomfort and feeling gratitude for the healing it represents.  It’s part of the path to PEACE.

J2P Monday: semi-break

Bright sun

Since I started the series of ruminations on health and environment, I’ve struggled a bit.  This is one of a growing number of arenas in which I have a very strong “knowing” and a lot of feeling tones about connections but I don’t have words for the feelings.  It’s been hard to write these posts and when I started trying to write one for today, it just wouldn’t come together.

A couple of questions that kept drifting through my mind:

For those who would never think of littering the ground or dumping toxins into a river, are you just as careful about what you put in your body?

For those who fight to preserve wilderness, save streams, clean the air, etc., do you fight as hard for yourself?  for your body?  for your eternal spirit?

Do you want to save yourself as much as you want to save the world?