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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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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And the healing takes another leap

English: "Visualization of the Heart Chak...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I haven’t had any body work since the appointment last spring with Hanna and Larry, who powerfully lifted a big piece of ancestral cement from the stuff in my head.*  So it was a great treat to have my mother offer to pay for an appointment and to get a treatment with Hanna yesterday.

Bye Bye Wooden

animated-trees_edited

As always, a lot moved and many interesting things happened.  She spent a lot of time working on my head and at one point as she worked I sensed “ancestral”, something released and I had a crazy image of an animated tree (just like an animated tree “character” in Wizard101) flying up and out of my head.

After the appointment she mentioned working on an area with a lot of tension in my face and feeling it relax.  It wasn’t until I was driving away that I remembered how often I’ve applied “wooden” to the muscles in my face I’ve felt are an ancestral legacy and thought “wooden” about their expressions in photos or how my face feels.  Suddenly I got the animated flying tree as representing the staunchly tense ancestors and I knew that piece was released.

As always, the release has not led to the instant opening of all remaining knotted muscles, but a fair bit came out in the appointment and in the massive unwinding which started up a few hours later, I could tell it was working on a whole new level from where it was the day before.

Loving Them Anyway

After the floating tree, as she continued to work on my head, I was suddenly taken to another ancestral piece I recently mentioned about having slave owners in the family.  While chewing on this issue I’d already realized there’s a much more current piece to it, which has been kind of the ignored elephant in the room for me:  the bigotry of my mother’s mother and sister.

I adored my grandmother (the only grandparent I ever knew as my parents lost the other three as children) and most of the time nothing in our interactions brought up her racist viewpoint.  But it was there and, while I tried periodically to talk her into changing her mind, mostly I tried not to think about it as the confusion between my love for her and my dislike of her opinion seemed too confusing to resolve.

I’ve written occasionally about my aunt with whom I had a conflicted relationship on many levels so being mad at her for her narrow-minded views (she and her rich, Republican friends were the types who dissed pretty much every group other than rich WASP Presbyterians and Episcopalians…) was easier.  But still complicated.

They’re both long dead but I’ve carried the unresolved conflict all these years.  As bits and pieces of the story floated to mind while Hanna worked, I thought about that conflict and the degree to which it left an uneasy place inside.  Which led to contemplating loving someone but seeing a flaw that big and figuring out what to do about the contradiction.

And suddenly as Hanna worked, I knew it’s a gift the Universe gives us to present us with family members whom we love but who are bigots or alcoholics or unreliable, etc.  We love them and despise them but most of us can’t quite let go because of the love and family ties.  Really, it’s what a spiritual life is always calling us to do — love everyone unconditionally.

What an opportunity we’re offered in these conflicted relationships of love and hate all mixed up.   I don’t see loving as requiring that you hang around.  If someone is too toxic for you, you can love the divine spirit from afar.  But seeing the flaws and loving anyway is a great spiritual endeavor.  Once I could see the gift in that, I realized I don’t have to resolve the conflict, I just have to let the love win.

They were who they were and I loved them with confusion but they’re gone and I’m still here, not sharing their views.  [Not sure how my mom sidestepped her family’s view but she and my dad taught me to treat all people of all races, religions, etc. with equal dignity and thanks to their guidance and examples, that’s what stuck].  I felt a big sense of release as I understood the lesson of love and the gift these conflicts offer.

The Jagged and the Strong

In this unwinding process I’ve been regularly aware of a pattern moving from the sphenoid in my head to my feet, particularly on the left side.  Frequently something opens in my head and a while later some muscles open in my pelvis, knee, ankle or foot.

Hanna wound up working down one of those patterns and commented later about how jagged it is.  She’s mentioned the jagged bit before.  This time she also mentioned that all around it are patterns that are strong and straight (I forgot to ask whether she meant energetic patterns or muscle patterns or both) and prepared to help as it works itself out.

Before we started she talked about my self care having been important in all this and when she talked about these strong patterns I realized all the years of yoga, all the work with creating and doing my movement work, receiving body work of many sorts and doing spiritual practices have built strong supports which are now integral to how I live and heal.  Picture me patting myself on the shoulder 🙂

Heart Chakra

One piece she mentioned at the end was a pattern at the base of heart chakra, pushing on my liver and moving up into the shoulder on the other side.  By that time I was a little dazed and I didn’t manage to ask questions.

Many practitioners over the years have referred to a stuck pattern at heart level, of “protecting heart” posture, etc.  There’s been a lot of work done and a lot of opening but I’ve been aware something is still left.  Not sure whether that’s part of what she was working on.

I also have a sense all the chants I’ve been doing which aim at heart chakra are moving stuff in there…

And it goes on

I dream of the day I report this is over — the post will be titled “UNWOUND!!!!”  But today is another one of those progress reports involving a nice leap forward but the process still unfolding…


*After pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the process of healing over the course of many years, I can’t afford it very often any more…

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What lies beneath?

3x-great-grandfather-gallaher

Whenever I find myself being deeply emotionally affected by some external circumstance like the election, I know the situation has to be touching on something in me.  Along with chanting for peace and lovingkindness I’ve been watching the ebb and flow of emotions while chanting and also observing the impact of the spewing going on on FB, wondering what my reactions are telling me.

Starting before the election, another major phase of unwinding in my face has been going on.  [The glued-together stuff at the root is finally separating enough I can pick out some specific muscles!]  Whenever muscles are opening there’s a fair chance some old issue, whether personal or ancestral or past life (or all of the above), is going to be released.

The way the Universe operates, I figure there’s a pretty good chance the issues from the election and whatever I’m moving through in the healing process are related.  As I’ve contemplated I’ve looked at a few things and come up with one surprise issue I’ll be exploring.

Several times the Gayatri Mantra has produced a big emotional reaction so I looked up a translation.  I know it’s used often for peace and that it opens the heart, but the specific meaning of the words doesn’t seem to stick with me.  I found a lovely translation and discussion on this site:

OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance;
May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect

While I don’t find anything there that raises a specific personal issue, I can see that the tone and purpose of the chant is a big contradiction to what’s going on in the U.S. right now.  I figure it’s hitting right in the place where fear is pulling me away from an open heart…

The big place where I’ve been very emotional involves the horrible things Trump has said about people of other races and religions, especially his commentary on Blacks.  Ridiculing the Black Lives Matter movement and talking about “go back to Africa” hurts my heart.  One evening as I explored inward about what might be evoking such a strong response, I suddenly saw my family tree in my mind’s eye.

You see my 3X great grandfather and his son, my 2X great grandfather (plus his many siblings) owned slaves.  When I first encountered a copy of a will from 1837 in my grandfather’s effects, I was so young I really didn’t know what the bequests that seemed to hand off people meant.  Nor did any of us know what relation the testator had to us.

As an adult I recalled seeing the will and realized somebody in my family had been a slaveholder.  I’ve grappled with guilt over it off and on ever since but ultimately I’ve had to realize I wasn’t there, I didn’t convince anyone to do it and I’m not responsible for what they did.  I’ve always aimed to treat every human I encounter with dignity regardless of race, creed or religion and I don’t quite know what to do about what my ancestors did 170-200+ years ago,

Eventually I did enough research to know the maker of the will was my 3X great grandfather.  I’ve stood on the property he owned in Tennessee and I’ve seen the graves of both him and his son.  What mixed feelings I have about them.

It was moving to see the piece of land my 3X great grandfather purchased around 1800.  It’s hard to describe how it felt to stand not only at his grave but also my 3X great grandmother and another set of 3X great grandparents whose daughter, my 2X great grandmother, married my 2X great grandfather.

They’re my family.  They moved from Scotland to Ireland when England offered property and then a few generations later my 4X great grandfather moved to Pennsylvania.  Eastern Tennessee came next, then a little west to Knoxville.  Eventually branches of this family were involved in every major surge to the west in American history.  Part of me is proud that these poor farmers had the courage to keep picking up and moving forward to seek a better life.

Part of me wants to travel back in time so I can hop up and down in fury and demand what on earth they were thinking???  How could they be so cruel?  I wind up in this ambivalent space between loving them because they’re my family (and much of the courage and conviction I carry I know I owe to them) and despising them because they lacked humanity.

A piece, then, involves my ambivalence.  But I also have a deep sense I’m feeling something that has to do with those ancestors and how they felt or now feel about slavery and their part in it.  I’ll be doing some exploring in meditation and ceremony about the ancestral piece and possibly it’s time for a check-in with Hanna for some of her excellent healing.

How about you — if you’re feeling strong emotions around the election of Trump, have you found any of those feelings arise from personal issues? Are you aware of the source of these deep reactions to xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, misogyny, etc.?

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I DO have a bucket list…

leighs-bucket-list

Bucket lists seem to have become a big priority in this country; I’m hazy about whether it started with the movie or whether the movie arose from a growing preoccupation…  Since it keeps coming up, I find myself periodically wondering whether I have one.  At one point I wrote a post about not wanting one.

Pretty much all the bucket lists I’ve encountered are long to-do lists of activities.  Whether it’s a catalog of places to visit or exploits or career accomplishments they’re all about external pursuits.  Underlying the lists is an obsession with living a life that’s packed with doing and the corollary notion that your life won’t have value (or you’ll have regrets when you die) unless you’ve done as much as possible.  At least that’s my take.

Looking at these lists reminds how definitively I “march to my own drum”.  Because I pretty much don’t want to do any of that stuff and I can’t imagine lying on my death bed feeling sad because I never saw St. Emilion or jumped off a bridge while attached to a cord.  I would like to see St. Emilion but I don’t feel the value of my life will be determined by whether I have or haven’t.  Now the bungee cord thing…  that would go on a growing list of things I don’t EVER want to do before I die 🙂

Another blogger (so sorry, I’ve lost track of which) recently posted about Myers Briggs.  I decided to finally look into it.  My initial guess was INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) and then I took several different tests, each of which confirmed it.  We’re somewhere from 1-4% of the population (different sources give different %), which kind of fits with my sense of being out of step.

When I made this discovery, I’d been working on and off on the idea that maybe my bucket list is just different.  I can see how mine fits with being an INFP.  It’s a work in progress (even though I memorialized it on the picture above):

  1. Be Peace or as close as I can get in this lifetime
  2. Become ever more compassionate
  3. Radiate love
  4. Be generous
  5. Open my heart
  6. Allow the shifts of the world and those around me to move through me without affecting me
  7. Be unfailingly kind
  8. Develop ever higher consciousness
  9. Evolve to consciously living as a divine spirit in a physical body
  10. Heal this life and all effects of ancestral patterns and past lives
  11. Write a great book
  12. Write a great song
  13. Help others on their journeys
  14. Stay healthy
  15. Heal all anger

I suspect it’s a list for several lifetimes.  And most of the items will, by their nature, be works in progress rather than things I can check off the list.  I gather most people would feel antsy at the lack of stuff “to do” and scratch off…

But it’s my list and I like it.  And I feel so much less out of step now that I have one 🙂

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Elizabeth Lesser on getting to the Marrow

Last week I caught up on a few recently-recorded Super Soul Sundays.  Loved all of them but the interview with Elizabeth Lesser particularly grabbed me.  So much so that I quickly checked the library catalog and put a hold on her latest book, Marrow.  [As has become the norm with OWN, I can’t seem to embed the video and if you’re interested you should follow this link to it soon because the program aired a couple of weeks ago and they yank them off quickly]

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=65414

The book is a profound recounting of the  journey she took when her sister needed a bone marrow transplant and Elizabeth was the perfect match.  They embarked on healing their relationship in order to ensure the sharing of marrow would be as harmonious as possible; getting to the marrow on many levels.  I’m still reading and blown away by the constant stream of deep insights.

Listening to her and reading her I keep feeling like I’ve “met” a soul sister.  Her journey has led her to so many of the same conclusions and thoughts I’ve reached…

I felt a little connection from the get-go because she’s one of the founders of Omega Institute and my friend and teacher, Gay Luce, used to teach workshops there at least once a year.  I knew she was friends with at least one of the founders although I don’t think I knew the name.   While I was living at the little apartment she used to have at the side of her house, I’d flip through the Omega catalogs and see the amazing array of teachers who presented there.

Tenuous connection, but it was there for me.  And it’s been kind of fun reading the book because there’ve  been a number of places where I felt like she could have been talking about something Gay teaches.  Then I realized I think at some point they were both in the Bay Area, making their way through various teachers and a lot of the teachers at Omega have been people Gay knows.  So I suspect they’ve both drawn a lot of material from the same pool.  Gay studied a bit more with Buddhists and Ms. Lesser –based on her acknowledgements — at some point chose a Sufi path, but I catch some similar ideas.

It’s so cool to see how that works.  Through Gay I experienced a few teachers from the Bay Area and read books by or heard about others, all of whom I eventually realized had been in overlapping groups led by Claudio Naranjo in the 70’s.  I have a general impression there have been several periods in the New Age/New Thought movement when lots of teachers arose out of groups who studied with some of the same teachers.

I love the sense of deep spiritual thinking spinning out through a web of teachers who are inspired to create their own take on spiritual growth and who then inspire another round and then there’s another…