Singing Chants and Lovingkindness

By Michel Royon on Wikimedia

Sunday was the 20th day of Deva Premal and Miten’s 21 Day Meditation series and I was a little behind.  So when it was time to do my Sunday peace prayer I also wanted to do the meditation that would catch me up and have me ready for the big Gayatri day on Monday.

I’ve really loved this 21 days of chanting but the 20th entry disappointed me a little.  Instead of openly singing the chant they had written a song that expressed the sentiments of the chant.  I listened for quite a while before realizing there was a chorus of the chant going on so subtly in the background that I didn’t realize it was happening.  I’ve loved singing the chants and they have opened my heart and gotten my energy flowing so just lying there listening to this song didn’t do it for me.

I have the chant, Om Kama Pujitayei Namaha, on their Mantras for Precarious Times so I chanted with that before getting to metta.  The chant brought me to saying the lovingkindness chant from such a lovely, open space, I may sing one of those chants before I chant for peace every time.

The last couple of months has brought a variety of challenges that have asked me to do some practice or another regularly– sometimes I’ve been doing two or three at once and having to get in several things.  I’ve been loving the way it has kept me immersed and moving and opening.  That included one of Deepak’s 21 day meditation series.  I’ve done 4 or 5 of his series now and enjoyed them but none for me have compared with the extraordinary experience of singing these chants with Deva.

The culmination was a an invitation to the world to join in Gayatri on the 21st day.  Suggested times were 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.  I was slightly late for the 7 p.m. time but got in soon enough to overlap with people who started on time.  I felt such power from the chant and the sense of energy connecting around the world that I played the chant on a repeating loop softly in the background for the rest of the evening.

I’ve been listening to Deva’s chants for a few years now but, not knowing the words to most of them, I didn’t sing along.  The chants have such power that you can keep a track or a CD repeating and the energy in a room starts shifting.  So I’ve felt their power but still it came as a surprise to sing the chants and feel their power surge through me.  I’m hooked!

Ceremony Breakdown: The Chants

Ganesha by Kirti Krishna Badkundri on Wikimedia

For a “wiccan” ceremony I suppose some would consider it odd to spend the first half hour saying and singing Tibetan and Sanskrit chants.  But as I’ve pointed out before, I like to put together elements of different traditions that speak to me.  If you’ve not been following along on this journey, I’m going to list some posts below.

The overall reason for chanting, after calling in the four directions to consecrate the circle, arose from my sense that I wanted my vibration to be in the highest and best alignment to the desired outcome.  Ordinarily I would have chanted the lovingkindness chant for myself, but since it was also Collective Prayer Sunday, in this case I chanted for earth (making it a two-fer???).  No matter for whom I chant my heart always opens and fills me with loving energy and that seemed like just the way I wanted to start.

The second chant, which I sang along with Deva Premal (it’s on her Mantras for Precarious Times album) was Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha.  It’s a chant to Ganesha for Removing of Obstacles.  I’ve chanted it off and on for years, originally just speaking it but when I got Deva’s recording I sometimes just played it for hours. Then I began to sing along.  I love its power and it seemed a perfect choice to call upon Ganesha for assistance in destroying an obstacle given that my ceremony aimed to remove the obstacle placed by my ancestor.

The third chant I just learned by participating in Deva’s 21 Day Meditation series.  Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya is a chant for Liberation.  I loved it immediately (really I’ve been loving everything in this series) and liberation also seemed a good theme to add to my ceremony.

By the time I finished chanting my energy had grown and flowed through me.  I felt powerful and full of heart and ready to go.

Some of the posts that have chronicled this story:

The Unwinding Head Saga

Healing Journey: Jaw Connections

Opening to sight: the shaman, the witch and the ancestors

Stern and Stingy Ancestors

Working on Your Ancestors

Healing the Ancestors

Cranio-Sacral, Completion and Challenge

The Witch is Back

Ceremony Plans

Breaking the Ancestor’s Spell

Let there be peace–Monthly Peace Challenge

Land art sculpture by Hein Waschefort, Maluti Mountains near Swaziland. Wikimedia

Since I began participating in Kozo’s Monthly Peace Challenge I’ve posted early in the month.  This time I had to sit with it.  The challenge is to post a quote that can bring peace to the world.  The big challenge in that for me came from my belief that words don’t change anything.  So I’m skeptical that there is a quote that can bring peace.

I think peace depends upon each of us.  When the great oneness that’s All That Is reaches a critical mass with enough people who have learned to live with peace in their hearts then the world will turn to peace.

At the same time, I do believe that affirmations, when combined with clearing and practice and mindfully holding a feeling tone of peace, lovingkindness and compassion, play a part in finding that space within.  So I gave a lot of thought to what quote I would favor.

There are a lot of great quotes about peace but I think my favorite would be the lyrics to the song we always sang at the end of Unity services, “Let There Be Peace on Earth”.  My favorite line in the song is “Let peace begin with me.”  Click here for full lyrics.  A minister who was before my time at Unity of Lexington changed the lyrics a bit and I stick to his version:

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.  Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.  With God as creator, family all are we.  Let me walk with my family in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.  With every breath I take, let this be my solemn vow:  to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally.  Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

A lot of the power of that song came from feeling the heart space in the room every time.  In my church.  In another church full of people I don’t know.  Wherever people gather, hold hands and sing it joyously peace feels possible.

I’m listing a few of the great posts that were made in response to this challenge but there are so many I encourage you to go to the link page to read them all.

The Witch is Back

In Wikimedia

Woo woo warning!  The tale I’m about to relate will wander into what some will consider to be woo woo territory.  If you don’t like woo woo I invite you to skip this one.  And sorry, it’s longer than usual.

The day before leaving on the trip to my home town last week (see also this post), I had a second craniosacral appointment with Robyn.  At the first appointment (which I wrote about here), Robyn left me with an instruction to meditate about the stuck tentorium and falx, to ask for answers and/or for her to be given whatever information she needed to help.  I used a meditation that’s been a go-to for many years in which I went to my “council” and asked for their help in this.

They told me that there were three basic elements related to these two unmoving parts:  1) some remaining anger from early childhood, 2) the ancestors who passed down a pattern of holding the muscles in the face really tight; and 3) most of all, the ancestor who shut down my maternal line of seers (see previous post, The Shaman, the Witch and the Ancestors).  I was given an affirmation to say, an EFT (tapping) phrase to use and told that Robyn would be given the information she needed.  I carried out my assignments before the second appointment.

The session was powerful and I felt a lot move although I also knew it wasn’t finished when she stopped.  She sat with me after to tell me what happened and what she saw and sensed.  At the end she felt a powerful push away from my guides and got the information that the rest is for me to do.  She said that she saw the ancestor who shut down the sight very clearly and that she’s holding tight and has no intention of letting go.

The ancestor summoned the most powerful energy she could amass and put it all into driving a spoke down through the chakras that particularly locked the 6th, 3d and 1st chakras not only for herself but for all future generations of her family.  The info Robyn got was that I need to get the ancestor to let go of me but she has no intention of letting go as to herself.

Powerful, powerful stuff.  It was a blessing that I headed out of town the next day so that I had time to ponder while being busy enough with other things that I didn’t have time to jump in impulsively and do some exercise just to “get it done.”  In sitting with it it came to me clearly that the first part is to cast a circle and do whatever I do within that circle.  I’ve also been working on a spell asking for all my other ancestors to assist me with their magic to gather magic powerful enough to undo her spell on me.

I’m still mulling about how to do the spell to use that magic.  One of the things that disturbs me about what she did is the feeling that she violated a basic rule of magic by deciding on behalf of all who came after her that they couldn’t access their gift.  So I hesitate to cast a spell that works on anyone but me.  And yet I have a sense that there are many living members of the line who would be helped if I can break her spell as to everyone but herself.  For me, that’s a tough one.  Need to meditate on it.

It’s hard for me to describe what a relief it is to be given this answer.  After I went through the Fisher Hoffman process in the early 90’s and continued to use the process for some years, my teacher, Ellen, told me that, with one other student, I had gone deeper with the process than any student she’d had in the 25 years she’d facilitated the process

It was great to hear but also clear that I had more to do.  I kept searching and was surprised at how much there was still to release in my original craniosacral work and then in Bodypatterning.  But for some years it’s been clear that something big held on to me and I’ve been beating myself up trying to see what issue am I avoiding?  what do I not remember that I need to remember?  It became hard to remember that my teacher thought I’d gone so deep…

The slowly dawning realization that I have been powerfully impacted by patterns from my ancestors has been helping and it has been fascinating to puzzle out how to address these ancestral patterns.  But getting the info on this piece feels like the moment of vindication–I can feel how deeply her spell has been embedded in my being and the many ways in which it has held me tight.  It explains so much about how I could work so hard, practice so faithfully and yet be so stuck.  I’ve watched so many people do so much less and just open their lives up, it’s been hard sometimes not to feel like a failure.

If you’ve ever felt that your path has been going too slowly and that it’s not working or you’re not doing it right, I encourage you to explore your ancestors or possibly to explore past life issues (not the same thing).  You may be held by something that started before you were born.  Have faith.  Know you are loved and it will all be well.

Note:  Sindy over at bluebutterfliesandme has been working on a clearing challenge.  I started off to participate but since I was out of town through most of it, I didn’t manage to get in on it.  I intended to finish this post while away, cast the circle within a day or two of getting back and write a post about the clearing experience.  Since I’ve missed out on taking part, I’m going to take my time a bit on creating my ceremony but I will definitely be posting about it.

Being Peace in Relationship

I’m posting this one as an entry in Kozo’s Blogger’s for Peace Monthly Challenge, which includes a number of possibilities for discussing peace in relationships.  I’ve chosen “4 things you can do to become a better partner”, which I’m interpreting in the broad sense of partners in any kind of relationship — friends, colleagues, etc.  This is also for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday , which is “B” this week.

My number one piece of advice for “being peace” in relationships is to know yourself.  Not just the surface you or the you you like the world to see but the deep, dark recesses of you.  Know what your issues are.  The more I’ve known about what my issues and hot buttons are the more I’ve been able to stand back from any conversation or confrontation in which I feel wounded or upset or angry “at” something someone said.  I can wind up seeing they had no such intent but happened to land on one of my trigger spots.  When you can own what’s yours and not blame it on anyone else, you’ve made a big step toward getting along better with other people.

Second, as Don Miguel Ruiz so wisely put it, “Don’t take anything personally”.  The chances are if someone is directing verbal ice picks into your ribs, they ‘re acting out of some of those issues and hot buttons that they haven’t acknowledged and it has nothing to do with you.  Huna teacher Serge King says, “People are who they are and they do what they do”.  If you can figure out who the people around you are and what they’re likely to say and do because of it, they won’t often surprise you and it will be easier to see what belongs to them and has nothing to do with you.

Third:  Communicate well.  Practice right speech and especially right listening.  Pay attention to what people are saying to you and try to keep your own opinions and attitudes out of it.  Ask neutral questions or mirror back what they’ve said in ways that invite them to move deeper into their own hearts about the subject.  It’s amazing how thoroughly you can connect when you make conversation a dance about connecting at the heart.

Fourth:  Do no harm.  Approach every person, every conversation, every action with the intent to create the greatest possible benefit and the least possible harm.  That means not being sarcastic, not criticizing other people’s choices, not cutting people off or ostracizing, etc., not manipulating or one-upping, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.  Since we (in the US) live in a culture that seems to admire a great put down or a smart remark, I find it takes a lot of mindfulness to avoid being thoughtlessly harmful.

I find the only way to do well with 2-4 is to be really good at the first suggestion and to be very mindful.

The instructions in B4Peace blogging include a link to another of the posts:  Perfecting Peace in Relationships.

Teaching styles–what kind suits you?

In a neighbor’s yard, Corte Madera

Chatted with a friend a couple of days ago about styles of metaphysical writing.  I mentioned in About This Blog that I got tired of reading spiritual books in which the author writes down to the rest of us, and implies that they have reached some point of completion.  I’ve wound up developing a style in which I use lots of personal anecdotes and openly admit the many places in which I know I fail to live up to the principles I aim to live by.  At the same time I’ve found that a lot of the writing I most enjoy these days on spirituality shares that personal-story, I’m-just-another-traveler tone.

My friend noted that a lot of people want a teacher who presents a front of perfection.  I’ve seen that a lot too although I find it ironic that the flip of that, given that most teachers are far from perfection, is that as soon as those students see one of the flaws in the teacher they often throw out the whole package instead of accepting that wisdom can come from one who is flawed.  Personally, I’ve never trusted teachers who present themselves as complete in their journey and the more I’ve learned the less I believe that much of anybody completes a journey of infinite possibilities in one life — or maybe ever.  At the same time, I do think flawed people can learn lessons well enough to teach others.

In writing I think those teachers tend to stand back and give lessons or advice but give no indication that they may still be struggling with some aspects.  In my own writing I’ve realized that it takes a certain amount of courage to tell those personal stories and to admit  to being just another traveler with my imperfections hanging out.  I used to write about the journey in the “you” form, offering advice to “you others’ who need my wisdom :>) …  As I realized that I preferred reading more personal writing about the journey* I needed to be honest enough to write that way myself but boy it took a while to quit staying back behind the “you” and step forward into being “I”.

The conversation made me curious about how others feel about teachers– do you need yours to seem perfect or can you accept wisdom from someone who may not practice it perfectly?  Do you like metaphysical books written from the royal we vantage (“We as humans tend to…”)  or those who talk to “you” (“You have to look within…”) as if they’re somehow separate   or those who make it more personal and let their flaws hang out, tell personal anecdotes?

* I read plenty of bloggers who write in this other style and I don’t mean to say that I don’t find posts that I quite like; I just find I enjoy the other sort more.

Healing Journey Monday: The final stretch

RFM Book Cover1

My journey the last month or so has been mostly a hibernation that included lots of sleepless nights from the unwinding head saga and a flu that went several rounds. The amazing upside is that the huge lump of bone in the roof of my mouth has flattened considerably during this time and as the big constricted lump in my head has loosened my energy and outlook have changed noticeably.

I also managed to complete the instruction book for my movement classes (cover above) and it will be available on Kindle within the next couple of days ($2.99). For 90 days it’s available in the lending library if you have Amazon Prime so check it out for free while you can. I even have an author page!

Another big piece of the change-in-progress was a ceremony some friends and I performed a couple of weeks ago to heal all our ancestors – I’m working on a post about that that will be up soon. Let’s just say it was an amazing afternoon.

The last few days, after several days of sleeping and sleeping, I’ve actually felt motivated and positive and I’ve been slowly checking off “to-do’s” that have been hanging over my head for quite a while. This is an aspect of who I used to be that I’ve missed and I have to say I’m glad to have her back!

What if God is all of us?

I’m re-posting this one from a while back because I’ve been reflecting about these questions again.  A bit more is added here.

Reading a novel that yet again brought me the endless debate on whether God exists I was feeling kind of, “Blah, blah, blah.” The usual questions were raised, “if God exists why does He allow so much awful stuff to happen?” And the counters about miracles and faith. Blah, blah, blah. But my mind being what it is by a few “blahs” later the debate drew me in and I wondered what might answer the question about a God who would sit back and allow hurricanes, murders, famine, etc. The old “there are reasons in the universe that are beyond our understanding” never really worked for me.

Right away I realized the debate always seems to rest on an assumption that God is an entity (just one) who exists somewhere out there—well, not just out in the heavens, but outside of us—and decides our fates. But I believe that we’re all part of one giant interconnected consciousness and that God is the totality of that consciousness; looked at another way we’re each a part of God. Or maybe we are Him and He is Us.

From that perspective I look at the state of humanity and it seems to me if God is all of us then pestilence and famine aren’t such a big surprise. If we want a kind and loving God maybe we have to be kind and loving. What if God is all of us?  What if we are God and perfect magnets for good or bad depending on our thoughts and actions?  What if all the good people and all the bad people add up to God and the good or bad of the Earth rests entirely upon our shoulders?  What if the only way to have peace and joy is to achieve a majority of people who live in heart space, in love, in peace?  What would you do?

Wiccan/Shaman mash up: inching toward my own path

I mentioned in a post a while back that I traced a shaman’s diagnosis of a problem in my maternal line going back seven generations to a witch burned at the stake and her daughter. We are all part of a long line of seers but the daughter shut down “the sight” for herself and future generations. At the time I found this interesting because Wicca was one of the only traditions I’d not explored at all—and fairly assiduously avoided though I’d not been conscious of doing it until this revelation. I also had to admit that I’d mostly avoided classes or work that had to do with developing psychic powers or seeing auras, etc. as well.

You’d think that I’d have started exploring then and there but even though I felt intrigued and knew that there was something to consider about the avoidance, I didn’t buy a book on Wicca or sign up for a class on developing the sixth sense. I did do a lot of work on sending healing back to the ancestor who shut down our line and on healing my issues around these things.

A few years later I realized that my love of mystery novels had led me to a group of women writers whose main characters were witches and/or psychics and most of whom (the writers) are practitioners or psychics themselves and that I was loving them and feeling magnetized to the world they described. So I finally did a bunch of research and picked out a couple of books on Wicca to buy and a couple more to take out from the library.

I found that I liked what I was reading and felt drawn to it but I really still didn’t feel a big pull to jump in. One of the things I quickly noticed was that getting into “the craft” seemed to involve buying a lot of stuff at a time when funds for purchasing a long list of props were not available and I didn’t have much of any place to store it all if I could buy it. However, one of the books I read mentioned the similarity of a lot of Wiccan practice to a lot of shamanic practice.

As I contemplated the suggestions for what to use in casting a circle and the objects placed in the circle I started picturing things I already had from my days of studying with a Hopi elder and some of the Hindu and Buddhist statues I’d collected. Eventually I tried making a circle using the stones I’d gathered for my medicine wheel and using objects collected for the Hopi path as well as some crystals and statues.

It seemed to me that the real point of it all is that a circle creates a power place in which you build energy and/or invite energies and that the suggested objects are really there to focus your attention on spiritual archetypes or spiritual qualities. I concluded that it doesn’t really matter exactly what you use to create the circle or what the objects are as long as you are using it all as part of your intention to create a sacred space in which to meditate and build a big energy to support it.

I started off just making the circle, smudging the room and myself, using my prayer stick to invoke the four directions and elements, and then sitting in the circle to do my lovingkindness chant and to meditate. Immediately I realized how incredibly powerful those things became when sitting in my sacred space and letting the circle contain the energy. It was a little bit of a pain to move furniture around to make room for it and to set the whole thing up so me being me, I didn’t do it often and soon drifted away from doing it at all.

I did keep reading the spells and marking things I’d like to try (most of which again required buying stuff) and feeling drawn to it. Recently I’ve felt really pulled to work with the circle again. And I suddenly found myself writing a little spell of my own (I have an uneasy feeling the first part of it came from a spell I heard at some point on Charmed…); one that doesn’t require buying anything. When I repeated the spell while in the circle I could feel entities around me and powerful energy flowing through me.

I’m still just feeling my way here but the point is that if you’re on an eclectic path like mine I think there’s lots of room to be inventive about combining the things you know to create a new set of rituals and ways to do things that are just your own. I don’t know whether I’ll one day join a coven or find someone to teach me or decide to study herbs, etc. For right now casting my circles and combining my shaman training with what I’m learning about Wicca feels just right to me.

Opening to sight: the shaman, the witch and the ancestors


Around ten years ago I started going to a chiropractor who’d also spent some years studying with a Peruvian shaman so he added a whole lot of other healing modes and insights. The first time I saw him he went into an intuitive reading mode at one point and eventually said, “You have a major issue in the maternal line that goes back seven generations.” He felt that it was a big factor in my health problems.

He suggested a shamanic journey to look into it but I didn’t have the spare cash so I decided to use some of the tools I knew. In meditation I asked to be taken back to the ancestor in the maternal line who’d created the issue he saw. I had to really go deep to get there but eventually I came to a witch who was burned at the stake and that our line of women had “the sight”. And then I came to her daughter, who was so distraught by her mother’s fate that she shut down the sight not only for herself but for all who came after.


Of course I don’t have proof – and so far my research on family history hasn’t gotten that many generations back on my mother’s line, but a whole lot of things made sense. It explained some memories about my mother, my aunt and my grandmother, who all seem(ed) to “know” things periodically.

I realized that even though books and teachings about Wicca had come up fairly often, it was the only tradition I’d encountered that I’d also completely ignored. And though I began on a very New Age path I pretty much avoided anything about developing psychic senses or reading auras, opening the third eye, etc. I didn’t overtly feel fear or aversion, I just wasn’t interested. When I understood the history of my line, all that side-stepping of info and training on all those subjects made sense.*

The pineal gland, in spiritual terms, is associated with the third eye, which is traditionally the “eye” that sees beyond our dimension, the psychic connection. Since realizing one of the biggest factors in my health issues is the sphenoid tilted into the pineal gland so that it’s malfunctioning, I see how the ancestral story has woven itself into my body. I could draw out a few more connections to health but you get the idea.

Now I realize this particular story requires a leap of faith about whether I tracked back to “the truth” but regardless of whether you can take that leap, it’s a good example of the way certain issues weave themselves into your story on many levels and affect many aspects of your life.** Do you think you might have any hidden history or memories that explain your current circumstances?

This post is for ABC Wednesday.

* The story of what I’ve done with this info will be another post one day.

** It also seemed like a natural companion to the last post.

More awards — wow!

I’m blown away that these awards keep coming. I’ve just been awarded the Beautiful Blogger award by Yamyah at Into the Heart (you should check her out)  Thanks so much Yamyah.

Here is the skinny on what you need to do if you accept the Beautiful Blogger award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  • Share the love by passing the award along to six other bloggers you adore.
  • Keep writing, inspiring, loving and living in joy and beauty!

This is the first one I’ve seen where the rules for it vary all over the place if you research it but I’m sticking with the rules with which I was presented!

I’ve also been presented the Kreativ Blogger award by Whispers of the Heart.  Thank you — I’m really honored. This one requires that you thank the one who gave it to you and link back to that blog, share 7 things about yourself and pass the award on to 5-10 other bloggers.  I’ve already listed quite a few bloggers on other awards and I don’t have enough other bloggers to give sixteen more so I’m going to stay with five for this one and the lists are below.

As far as seven things about me, when I started making a list and went back to look at the Versatile blogger post I realized I was making the same list:

  • I took music lessons for many years
  • I don’t read anything serious any more – three degrees wore me out on serious
  • I’m a major francophile – since I was 10; think it must have been a past life…
  • Though it’s hard to make room for more than France, I fell in love with Italy some years ago
  • I’m a really mean, cranky driver; I might be the only person who knows how to drive :>)
  • Writing fiction was like breathing for me as a child.

My nominations for the Beautiful Blogger award (nominated=winner):

My nominations for the Kreativ Blogger Award:

Out of my head, into my heart… my soul?

microsoft clipart Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) side-view of human head

Microsoft clipart MP900399589





Being an academic type, when I began the journey, I read — and read and read.  Book after book.  And I attended workshops and consulted psychics and learned to read runes and tarot.  I wanted answers and my life experience led me to believe I would find them by studying.

When I started to move away from seeing myself as an intellectual (see previous post) I began to question all the reading.  Shortly before that time I worked at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.  Best place I ever had a job and I love IONS, but the longer I worked there the more I felt that the emphasis on scientific proof meant too much head, not enough heart; the first time I caught the difference and could express it.  Then I saw it in myself.
Although I also did practices, too much of my journey was occurring in my head..  I realized that the collection of books I already owned contained all I needed to know (many times over), I just needed to know it in my heart and my body and my spirit instead of in my head.  I also figured out that you can pick up a good book every few years if you are growing and deepening and find new understanding and meaning every time.  I occasionally still pick up a new book–sometimes a new way of saying something makes it clear or helps me to see in a different light.  But I’ve turned more to practice and feeling how energy changes, moves, grows with one practice versus another.
With practice I felt more connection with spirit.  I learned to understand practices by doing them instead of reading about them.  My understanding now is that connection with the divine self is not achieved by a journey of the mind; it is not an intellectual exercise.  The journey is one of feeling and faith, of opening your heart and your channel to spirit and learning to follow their wisdom.  Are you on the journey in your head or in your heart?

Nine Gates Mystery School and Gay Luce

If I’m going to talk about teachers, I want to do a piece on my teacher and long-time friend, Gay Luce. Gay helped to define my idea of a good teacher. When she’s in an expanded place she’s the embodiment of love and she can hold an energy so strong she can hold the energy of a large crowd in a particular chakra. She’s also human and has issues and wants you to know it. She’s never stopped studying and learning and the teachings at Nine Gates change and grow along with her.

Nine Gates Mystery School is an amazing program. I went through in 1990 and it not only changed my life then, but through the friends I made and the teachers I encountered it continues to change me. Gay herself describes it here:

It’s hard to decide which aspect had a greater impact. You work intensively with the energy of each of nine chakras and just learning how to identify the energy of each and to move to it at will is profound. Until that time I had followed a strictly New Age path. The chance to work with masters of Sufi, Kahuna, Taoism, etc. transformed my sense of walking a spiritual path. I made friends among the students, teachers and staff who have been at the center of my heart ever since.

It’s Gay’s brilliant abilities that have pulled it all together. She’s 80 now – experience her at Nine Gates soon!

Thoughts on cellular memory

I believe in cellular memory.* Cellular memory falls into the land some call “pseudoscience”; there are scientists, like Candace Pert, who are quite sure it exists and other scientists who are quite sure it doesn’t. For me, I believe because I feel its effects in my life. I also have some questions about what the universe was thinking when sticking us with this one but I think I have to make it up another couple levels of consciousness before I have any answers.

I was puzzled for a long time about the slow progress of my ability to keep my mind positive. I’ve been saying affirmations and doing visualizations, yoga, meditation etc. for more than 25 years and on top of that I went through the Fisher Hoffman Process as facilitated by the late Ellen Margron (which meant a very long and intensive version) followed by releases due to cranio-sacral work and Body Patterning. Yet I realized with a start several years back the amount of time I had negative tapes running or that my first viewpoint on something was negative was astonishing for someone who’d put so much effort into releasing issues and becoming positive.

Some of it turned out to be related to the bound up muscles (another post will be forthcoming on that one) but when I started researching family history I started seeing patterns of poverty and tough lives. Pretty much every branch I’ve researched so far came to America poor with varying stories of success or lack thereof after arriving here. One of the closest branches to me has been mired in negative thinking for as many generations as I know and appears to have been that way for generations before that.  Their patterns are in my cells. Some of those patterns are written in my muscles and I can feel how much my life has been influenced by those patterns on every level.

Practices that shift energy have helped me a lot with moving through some of those patterns and realizing that I have issues written in my cells that literally go to the bone has helped to give me focus for shifting my thinking out of the ruts of negativity and into positive veins.  I still work on affirmations and listen to recordings of them but I’d say the biggest reasons that I’m finally moving past this are the practices that change energy down to the cells and the Body Patterning work.

I’m writing about all this because there’s so much information out there these days that talks about how you can just decide to be present in the now or decide to be positive and that’s all you have to do to change your life. I’ve had many things shift by changing my mind but my experience – both in my personal journey and in conversations with many other people about their journeys – is that not every issue releases just because you adopt a new thought. Especially the deep issues that run the show but are not in your ordinary consciousness.

Sometimes it takes a lot of time to sort through the daisy chains of beliefs that started with what’s in your cells and accumulated through your lifetime. Please don’t feel you’re somehow not doing it right or it’s not working if you’re trying a new path and it isn’t taking effect right away. Be patient. Find the joy or at least the gratitude in wherever you are and keep moving along. It’s all about the journey, and it doesn’t matter if it’s fast or slow.

For more on cellular memory:

*I realize not everyone does; if you don’t this post will seem like bunk – that’s ok, you don’t have to tell me about it. 

Right Speech

I’ve been keeping these short and that’s my intention, but I was re-reading an old piece I wrote for my right speech classes and decided to post even though it’s very long:

We live in a world, I think, in which we have yet to learn to communicate with each other in ways that create harmony and understanding. Instead, with words we build hostility, barricades and wars. Words can also build bridges leading from one heart to another to another. By practicing right speech each of us can build bridges that connect our hearts with all those with whom we speak.

Right speech is one of the steps on the Eight Fold Path of Buddhism, but the concept of communicating with truth and compassion can be found in most religious traditions. Thich Nhat Hanh beautifully described the basics of right speech in his book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Parallax Press, 1998, p. 77):

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

In perfect practice, this means speaking only the truth — not the opinion you would like to shove down someone else’s throat or a convenient excuse that covers the real story, but the truth that is from your heart. It means never being sarcastic or criticizing others or making another person the butt of a joke. It means avoiding words that are abusive, insulting or angry. Gossip is also outside the bounds of right speech and some teachers advocate a periodic practice of refraining from saying anything about anyone who is not present, thus curtailing all conversations devoted to analyzing someone else’s life or behavior. It means truly listening to another — not to check whether they hold the opinions you think they should or so that you can tell them what they should be doing, but listening to understand what is in the other person’s heart.

According to the Taoist Book of Changes, or I Ching, life is always changing. You can flow with the cycles of life or try to fight against it, but change is always present. You can experience this in speech. When right speech is truly practiced, you are present in the moment and open to the possibility of change in the next. In other words, you enter conversation not from a fixed and immutable viewpoint but with openness to really hear another’s view and be changed by it.

Right speech can also be discussed in the context of the energy of the throat, which, in yoga and other systems, is one of the major chakras. At this level you encounter the blocks you have created with your unexpressed feelings and your fears about expressing your authentic self and your deepest truths. It is not possible to express your truth if you are numb to your feelings or repressing them. The ongoing practice of right speech can help you move down through the layers of repressed thoughts and feelings to discover what is true for you.

One of my teachers, Gay Luce (founder of the Nine Gates Mystery School), developed a methodology for formally practicing right speech and right listening. There are five questions to consider when you are about to speak and while you are speaking:

1. What am I talking about?

Sometimes we start talking just to fill a silence and without any particular point. Try defining for yourself what the topic or subject is that you wish to talk about. You may begin to realize that sometimes there is more connection to another in harmonious silence than in speaking.

2. What am I thinking as I talk about this topic or what do I believe about it?

This invites you to examine what you really think about a given subject — to express not just what someone else has said or the point of view you think you should hold but what you believe to be true.

3. What am I feeling as I talk about this?

In our society we are often out of touch with our own feelings and we talk without being at all aware of what our feelings are about the subject. Frequently even when we do identify a feeling it is one that has been triggered by some deeper, unidentified emotion. The more you attune to what you are feeling about the things you discuss, the deeper you can go into your true feelings.

4. Why am I saying this to you? Why do I want you to know this?

Sometimes we have something we want to say so badly that we’d tell it to anyone who happened to be there. But most of the time there is some unacknowledged and unexpressed reason why we have chosen to raise a particular topic with a particular person. Perhaps you trust this person more than others. Or you have some reason to believe this person will know or understand more than others about your subject. Maybe you want to show off for this individual or manipulate him into doing something for you.

5. What do I want for myself from this?

We have all kinds of motives for talking and many of them involve something we want to get or accomplish. Sometimes we talk just to pass time or fill the air with sound. Sometimes we want to persuade or show superiority or deflate someone or reveal our great knowledge. Knowing your motives for speaking (and for speaking to a specific person) helps you to choose your words more carefully.

As cumbersome as it may seem, if you engage in the practice of consciously answering those questions in your own mind before you speak and also out loud to your listener, you will find that you rarely stray from right speech. If you stop to think about what you want to talk about and why, you will rarely indulge in idle chatter. In reflecting upon what you want to say you will find that it is easier to curtail hurtful or divisive words. When you examine your motives for speaking, you begin to realize how often you use words to create distance or say things to show off or make yourself look good or to control or manipulate another. “Think before you speak,” becomes a spiritual practice.

Right listening is talked about less than right speech, but for me the listening side of the practice has been more compelling and has taught me many lessons. Right listening means being totally present for the other person, hearing all of what the speaker is saying instead of letting your mind wander or busy itself with deciding how it wants to respond based on the first words it heard. It is trying to help the speaker to arrive at a deeper self-understanding. That is accomplished by listening and responding without judgment about what has been said. It is rarely an act of right speech or listening to tell someone else what you think they should do

Our usual habits of responding with commands, admonishing, moralizing, suggesting solutions, criticizing, blaming, disagreeing — and also praising, agreeing and approving — are ways in which we create walls instead of understanding because we cut the speaker off from expressing her own feelings. Even “That is great” can express judgment if the speaker is aware that only certain acts or behaviors that you approve of get a “That is great” while other endeavors of which they might be equally proud draw indifference or silence.

In essence, right listening involves taking an unconditional, unbiased stance, reflecting back to the speaker what s/he has said to be sure you are understanding and developing a skillful ability to ask nonjudgmental questions that help her/him to move more deeply into the subject. When you succeed the other person will feel fully understood and that helps her/his heart to be more open to you. At its best right listening helps the other person to know her/his own heart and brings greater intimacy and understanding between the two of you.

To hold a complete conversation you must offer your full attention. It is thus like an open-eyed speaking meditation. For some people, who find mindfulness meditations difficult, right speech practice can be a pathway into the practice of mindfulness. You must be present in the moment, allowing your heart to be as open as possible, fully conscious of what you are feeling and saying. When two people (or groups) engage in a genuine practice of right speech and right listening their hearts become more open and they can express themselves more deeply.

When I reflect on my own habits of speech, as well as those of this culture, I am humbled by how far short I fall from that ideal. We are a culture of people who judge, condemn, ridicule, criticize and gossip and I am immersed in my culture. We use sarcasm and bitter irony to the detriment of others. Even our most revered comedians usually base their humor on cutting other people down with words and most of the popular sit coms involve people using biting sarcasm on one another.

The closer people are to us, the more likely it is that we will speak to them harshly and critically, because much of our speech is born of unexamined habits and repressed anger or suffering. Those closest to us are the people whose very presence triggers our deepest emotional and reactive responses. Over the 17 years since I was introduced to right speech, I have become aware that the greatest percentage of what I say — and what others say — is not right speech and that I have often been so unconscious of underlying emotions or motivations that even what I have presented as my truth did not reflect what was really true. I still find impatient or sarcastic tones erupting without even realizing what I am doing until it is too late.

These habits of communication are nearly as deeply ingrained and as unconsciously conducted as breathing. It takes an intense commitment to practice the tenets of right speech if you are to make any inroads on changing those speech patterns in all situations. It requires that you set up a sort of guardian or monitor — a Jiminy Cricket if you will — to pay attention to what you are saying and make you aware when you have strayed from right speech. You also have to stay present so that you are aware of the motive, intention and feelings of all you say and of how you are affecting whomever you are talking to. Be kind to yourself by acknowledging that the deeply embedded habits of a lifetime do not change over night. Like any new skill, the key is to practice and if you can find one or more people willing to sit down for formal practice sessions once a week or, if you lack partners, if you can commit to yourself that for one hour each day you will practice right speech with anyone you encounter, you will find that the new habits begin to expand into other times and places.

How does all this relate to peace in the next century? At the core, much of the violence and discord in the world today are caused by the inability to communicate in ways that foster harmony and knowledge of the heart. In this century we have come to live in isolation, barely knowing our neighbors, riding busses and planes with strangers. We often speak harshly to our families and judge one another. The world is full of discord and misunderstandings that erupt into wars. A difference in religious beliefs is more likely to lead to bloodshed than to a dialogue that leads to greater respect and understanding of different viewpoints. In a true dialogue between groups or nations or individuals, each side must believe that it is possible that the exchange with the other side can enrich and even change their own side. Each must offer both right speech and right listening to the other.

But we cannot force world leaders or religious groups to learn to communicate. The process of peace begins first inside an individual and then moves outward to establish peace in the family, peace with friends and neighbors, peace among religions and nations. When each of us pays attention to what we say, when we talk to others in the spirit of deepening understanding and connection, we are each contributing to peace for the world. My hope for the next millennium is that we all learn to hold our conversations heart to heart.