Lately it’s been this and that…

Refugee Forum

Refugee Forum

I will get back to the series I’ve been writing on “Peace Begins With You”.  But I’ve been kind of scattered and distracted lately…  not the best mode for putting together a coherent series…  I gather a lot of this is going around 🙂  But stuff is happening so I thought I’d put up one of my this and that type posts.

Vow to Love

I signed up for Karen Chrappa’s Vow to Love on line class and after the first video I’m excited to be participating.  Moved by current events, she’s calling us to a space of love through a series of guided meditations.  I found the first one powerful and am looking forward to watching the second, which I’ve not gotten to yet.  By following this link  you can still sign up.

Practice Change-up

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly felt drawn to do the long yoga nidra for the first time in quite a while.  Since it takes 45 minutes I thought I’d skip chanting practice.  Surprisingly after a long absence I stayed mindfully right with it and found myself in the lovely state of feeling one with spirit and detached from personality this practice induces for me.  I also felt a longing to sing the Gayatri when I finished.  So I sang the 9 minute chant.  I’d never done the chant after yoga nidra and I was blown away by how powerful the chant became when preceded by the meditation.

I felt so pulled back to the yoga nidra that I’ve done the short version several times since, sometimes with and sometimes without chanting after.  It was fun to see I’ve shifted enough that the short version, which I used to find far less satisfying than the long, now has quite a powerful impact on me.

I love changing it up with practices.  I love seeing how my experience of them changes as I change.  I love doing experiments with putting one thing after another and then switching that up to see how the order of doing impacts the energy and feeling of them.  Do you find the order in which you do practices changes the experience?

Shakin’ it up in this old red state

Lexington is actually a blue city in a red state, so while much of the country assumes we’re all right wing Christians down here, we actually have quite the community of liberal democrats — I think every friend I have here was for Bernie…

Last Saturday I went to a well-attended talk on Muslim Interfaith Dialog at which a charismatic local doctor of Iraqi heritage explained the Islam faith and talked about many of the false perceptions that have been propagated through the media.  I’d looked into this over the years so much of it wasn’t news to me, but I was very excited to be in a room full of people all open to listening and supporting.

Then last night I headed off to a forum on Refugees held at the enormous Christ Church Cathedral downtown.*  It was SRO, the speakers were excellent and the crowd was full of energy and enthusiasm for ending the ban.  I was moved by so much of it, but possibly the most moving thing to me was listening to our Chief of Police state his welcome to all who come to Lexington seeking refuge.

I’ve been wondering where the departments, forces, etc. with guns who ultimately enforce –or choose not to enforce — the law are standing on what’s going on.  To be honest I wouldn’t have predicted the police would side with the refugees and immigrants.  He was so absolute in his statement of support I was teary-eyed.

Right now I’m showing up for lots of things like this.  Sunday I have to choose between the first meeting of “Indivisible” here and a rally for refugees being held at the same time and across the street from one another…  I’m still fired up about being “for” instead of against and discovering I’m “for” a lot of stuff — just haven’t decided where to focus my energy.

As well as exploring my options about where I can help, the main thing I’m looking at is midterm elections in 2018 and how we get from here to a democratic or social democratic congress…  So far I haven’t bumped into a group to join for that…


*An ironic little side note:  my uncle’s wife’s father (all three long dead…) used to be organ-master for this Episcopal church, which led my dad (a child when this much-older brother got married) and some other family members to attend for some years.  I used to walk by on my way downtown from Grandma’s house with my best friend.  But last night was the first time I ever set foot in the church.

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Part 2 Peace: Oneness and You

I’ve been hanging around with people who speak with ease of the “Oneness of All” for years.  I think we all believe in it and mean it when we speak of it, but I also think the concept of one giant field of energy of which we’re each a part is beyond true comprehension for most of us.

The one thing I feel I understand is that “All That Is” is a pulsating field of energy and the Universe, the planets, the Earth and all its inhabitants are all part of it.  Every object, every person, every landscape is made of energy and all the energy of everything adds up to “All That Is”. Indigenous peoples seem to understand it better and have concepts like the lovely vision of all life as being part of the same web, which are based on understanding this oneness.

Our thoughts and feelings also have energy and we impact the energy field of oneness with the energy tones we each hold.  When lots of people are angry and full of hate, the web is moved into more anger and hate.  When lots of people hold a space of peace, love and compassion, the web is affected by that.

The conclusion to which I return every time I contemplate this is that one of the most important things each of us can do for the planet and humanity is to do whatever is necessary to heal our selves and learn to live with a peaceful and compassionate heart.

My personal journey has shown me that my ability to contribute to society in a positive way depends upon both actual physical health and also upon having a healthy mental and emotional state.  Long-term physical ailments have led me on a healing journey in which I have needed to heal on every level.  The more I heal the more I feel I contribute a more positive vibe to the Oneness.

I’ve seen it in the healing journeys of others as well.  When anyone moves from an unhappy or angry or closed down space into a place of being more joyful, healed of anger and/or more open, you can see the field of well-being spread far around them.

My number one prescription for participating in a peaceful revolution to a world of love and compassion:  heal your Self!  Hold only love and compassion in your heart.

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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.

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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.

 

Hope Gone Viral Challenge

Kentucky River by Hall's 0

I’m kind of late I think with this challenge.  When Ra posted about it (now I can’t find her post or I’d give you a link…) I noted it seemed a good idea but then didn’t get to it and then felt hesitant about my post idea since part of the challenge implies the post should be about someone else who’s done something positive.  But it also invites us to post about what excites us in 2017.

I’m very excited right now because something about the election and its unexpected (and for me unwelcome) results has sparked me.  I wrote a series of five posts about how to turn activism in a positive direction:

“Where energy flows” explores how the positive or negative direction of our attention impacts the world and outcomes.  “Be For” looks into activism in favor of what you want instead of against what you don’t.  “Doing” explores three general ways of “doing something” positive in the realm of activism.  “Collective Consciousness” is a discussion of the power of a group united in beliefs and action.  “The Silent Revolution” looks at the possible strength of the group Paul Ray has dubbed the Cultural Creatives.

I’m so excited and energized by the idea of creating a positive activism movement that I’ve decided to turn those posts into a handbook which will expand on those ideas and add some more nuances.  So that’s my hopeful plan for 2017!

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Creating Reality in the World 5: The silent revolution

Abraham Hicks Energy Stream

Within a couple of years of starting yoga in 1986, a friend started gifting me with a subscription to Yoga Journal and I began to notice the array of ads for businesses catering to healthy eating, spiritually seeking, yoga practicing types.  Over time I sampled other magazines aimed at Buddhists, New Agers, healthy recipes, etc. and realized there was virtually a secondary economy developing, entirely aimed at an increasing counter culture group.

In the 90’s I was fortunate to get to hear Paul Ray discussing his theories about “cultural creatives” at some dinner gatherings and then to read an early version of his book (co-written with his wife, Sherry Anderson), The Cultural Creatives, while working at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.   As he described this group of environmentally concerned, inner aware, spiritually seeking types I had a notion they coincided with the growing new culture and economy I’d been noting.

According to Ray and Anderson, this group is around 26% of the adult population of the U.S. and is present and growing in similar ways around the world.   There’s a point in the growth of such a group when its impact can create a paradigm shift.  One reason he thinks it hasn’t happened so far with this group is the group is so little reflected in popular media and culture that most of its members feel isolated and as if they don’t have power.

My theory is they also obstruct their power by too often going negative and being against instead of for.  Hating and being against lowers your vibration or energy level.  Focusing on pollution, discrimination, inequality, etc. sends the energy and attention to those negative traits.  The group weakens its power potential with this negative thinking orientation.

There are actually enough of us that we could change the world if we began to believe in and act on our power.  I see this not only from the perspective of the increased power of collective consciousness, but also based on David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force theory.  According to Hawkins, the higher the scale of consciousness (or energetic vibration), the more powerful the impact on others.

One person at the level of 400 (reason), counterbalances 400,000 who are at or below the 200 level (apathy, then anger at 200).  One person at the level of 500 counterbalances 750,000.  Based on Hawkins’ scale, most Cultural Creatives are probably in the 400-600 range on his scale of energy.

If this group can become conscious of their power and begin to focus as a group on what they are FOR, with a strong proportion using meditation and chanting, etc. to keep the vibration high, the whole world can change into a new paradigm of greater equality, compassion, green-ness…

I’m pretty sure all my friends everywhere (including my blogging pals) are cultural creatives.  We’ve been under the radar, building a new culture with very little notice in the mainstream.  I say let’s work on pulling together this group and building its power!!! I call on the Cultural Creatives to turn attention to the positive outcomes you desire, learn to be for instead of against, create action plans to achieve what you are FOR and use your collective power to shift the consciousness of the planet.

The rest of this series:

See also:  Cultural Creatives are Changing the World

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Creating Reality in the World 4: Collective Consciousness

Today at Sarvodaya's Early Morning meditation

meditation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back when I was reading lots of books in the Seth material, one of the areas I felt struck by covered collective consciousness.  The energy of thoughts, when people collectively hold the same ones, grows exponentially.

Many teachers since have told me the same thing and I have experienced the powerful energy of people gathered together in a common energy.  Perhaps the most amazing moment was when about 1500 of us participated in a meditation involving coming into heart, filling the room and each other with love and then sending love out around the world.

When a large group focuses its attention on a shared vision, the energy going toward that vision gets that exponential increase.  This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly in the power of people around the world meditating, chanting, praying, and/or holding a vision or energy space for the same goal or outcome.

This is also why I believe a campaign FOR what you want to see, participated in by tens of thousands or millions can create the reality you hope to see.  If you spread the word about a clean earth or a different electoral college outcome and help that idea go viral, the energy and attention being sent toward the outcome you seek will help to make it so.

Collective action like the people coming together at Standing Rock has a big impact.  And I particularly love the messages about nonviolence and understanding that have been made by the leaders of this movement/protest.  I passed this article, “Standing Rock: A Change of Heart” along on FB and hope to see it going everywhere. The call is for not dehumanizing anyone no matter which side they’re on and I believe that’s one of the most important messages of our time.

Gandhi is said to have made the Hindu gesture of forgiveness as he fell from an assassin’s bullets.  The Dalai Lama forgives the Chinese for what they’ve done to Tibet.  Martin Luther King preached nonviolence no matter what happened around him.  Taking in and living their message of maintaining love and compassion no matter what the circumstance seems to have been one of the hardest lessons ever for the world to learn.

At this moment in time the world needs us to stand together in love and compassion and refusal to be seduced into violence more than ever.  And in the next post in this series, I’ll explore the group that’s been building and sailing under the radar for years.  We could change the world.

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Seeing the other view

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London, UK,...

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all the finger pointing and rancor going on post-election, I keep remembering two big lessons about world views I got years ago.  I think they keep coming up for me because I see some assumptions being made in the jibes about those who voted for Trump and my lessons told me those assumptions are probably wrong.  In times like these it’s so important to be able to step back and at least try to understand another world view.

The first lesson occurred when I was a sociology graduate student, working on a big study for Northwestern’s Center for Urban Affairs.  I’d been assigned a couple of neighborhoods to interview as many people as I could.  One of the areas was a working class neighborhoodk with some big open housing issues going on.

Having done some networking, I went down one day and interviewed a group gathered in someone’s home.  Afterward, a few of the people took me aside and told me quite nicely that if I wanted people there to feel comfortable talking to me I needed to quit talking so “high brow”.

It came as a shock because I’d been very careful not to go into “PhD speak”, which I’ve always despised.  Eventually I realized that even though I grew up in a blue collar area, my family is loaded with college-educated people and all my friends growing up were the children of educated people — if not formally educated, the kind of people who read a lot and are always learning (often better than school, I’ve noted).  In many ways we don’t speak the same language as people who aren’t readers and learners.  The people I was interviewing were put off by my style of speaking and I could see I didn’t have a clue how to change my language to what they needed.  We literally talked past one another.

The second lesson came as a fairly new lawyer, back in the late eighties, when I joined a pro bono legal team who were defending a group of protesters arrested at the South African Consulate.  Our case intended to set precedent (and did) for using the necessity defense, in this instance arguing that the conditions under apartheid in South Africa were so atrocious it was necessary to violate the law by protesting (kind of a simplified explanation).  A lot of our case involved testimony from people who’d either been there or had some expertise about conditions under apartheid.

During the voir dire (choosing the jury panel) it was very important to both sides to know how much awareness the potential jurors had of the situation in South Africa and whether they already had opinions about it.  We questioned something like 60 potential jurors of many ages, races, jobs, etc, asking every one whether they regularly read the newspaper or watched the news and what they knew about South Africa and apartheid.

With two exceptions,  the startling answer was no.  No one read the newspaper.  No one watched the news.  They barely knew where South Africa was and they knew nothing about the apartheid situation or the call for an embargo, nothing about Nelson Mandela (he was still in prison and far less famous outside the circles who were informed about the situation).  Since my entire family and all the people I knew had newspaper subscriptions and watched the news, listened to NPR and stayed informed, this came as a great shock to me.

But it also stuck with me that I need to always remember the world view my circle shares, which assumes you need to stay informed by paying attention to the news, is not the only world view (and not one I share any more).  I keep seeing people accusing those who voted for Trump of being bigots, misogynists, etc. (and I did it in a post too) based on an assumption they heard and saw all the things he said.

While I am sure there were plenty who did know these things and voted for him anyway, the probability is that a significant percentage of those who voted for him do not read newspapers or watch the news and didn’t know most of the outrageous things he’d been saying.

The sweet spot for me at the end of the trial story:  when I went to the picket line at the Consulate after the trial was over, several members of the jury were there marching. As soon as they knew and understood what was happening they felt they had to take part in the fight to end apartheid.  The fact they’d previously chosen not to stay informed didn’t mean they were stupid or unfeeling, it meant they lived a different lifestyle than mine.  And when they knew they showed up to help.

We’re all divine sparks of All That Is.  Sometimes you have to be open to seeing that spark and trying to understand a different way of thinking.

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