It was a pretty good year

My mother and I are not big fans of New Years Eve.  Have never really seen what the big deal about changing years is (for me birthday is more a time to think about that) and, having put up with her alcoholic sister for decades of our lives, neither of us finds hanging out in rooms full of drunks to be as much fun as many people apparently do.  So the big celebration this year involved making popcorn and both of us watching TV in separate rooms.

But this year I have been in a reflective mode through the latter part of fall, marking some bigger changes than most years for a while.

Finally arriving at a place where the inner journeying and physical healing are producing noticeable results outwardly — after years of constant inner transformation and physical progress that moved along but seemed to never end — feels worth noting.

I’m very pleased and excited at my work on the People Power series I’ve been writing here.  Feel totally magnetized to it and while I don’t yet see where this path is leading, I definitely feel it’s a path I’m meant to be on and for which SO many things in my life have prepared me.

It’s been a couple of years since I began noticing a bit more stamina.  For many years the chronic fatigue left me literally feeling no “there” there — a state one practitioner referred to as having “negative chi”.  No matter how much I slept (and for some years it was a LOT) I always felt shaky and exhausted.  Now even a moderately good night’s sleep leaves me with the energy to feel pretty normal for a chunk of the day and this year that became more sustained.

With some energy I can count on, this year has been one of trying to take back control of a few more things.  Perhaps the biggest change has been in reaching out to make some new friends.  I’d worked very hard at networking in my first years here but slowly the groups fell apart, people moved away and by the time my health left me pretty isolated, there were few people to reach out to.

I began with signing up to volunteer with Ahava Center for Spiritual Living’s God’s Pantry group, my first evening being the last Friday of December, 2018.  A number of friends are involved at Ahava and I’ve nibbled around the edges for years.  Through the volunteer group I’ve been meeting some lovely folks.

Eventually I inched a little closer and am now in a women’s group at ASCL.  Not much of a service attendee, I’m occasionally actually showing up for one; really nice to walk into a group of friendly faces.  I’ve pushed to attend a few other events here and there along with a few more lunches with old friends.  All still a little tentative, but it’s been nice to move out in the world a bit more after this long hibernation.  Feels like doors opening, life moving, etc.

The long unwinding of muscles in my face and head still continues, but this year there’s enough opened up to feel my face as SO different   There’s still enough tightness I don’t quite know how it feels to have all these muscles in their natural state but one increment at a time I learn more about what healthy muscles in my face feel like.  From steely and hard, many of them have transitioned to feeling spongy and flexible.  So cool.

Some of the smallest things are among those I note the most.  I mentioned a while back getting control over a few things like getting dishes done in the evening.  It’s around two years or so now that I’ve gotten it done every single night, never facing a pile of dishes in the morning because I was too tired to do it.  The last couple of months I’ve smiled and felt so grateful every time I soap and rinse, pleased to have a record so long I can’t tell you exactly when the streak began.

I’ve added in a regular laundry day.  The piles don’t always cooperate by being the right size on the right day, but a lot gets done every week on the same day and just that small regular thing feels so good.

The other big shift has been trying to take control of my schedule.  The unwinding, with accompanying sleeplessness, shifted my sleep schedule till it was pretty normal to go to sleep at 5 a.m. and get up at noon or later.  For a long time the exhaustion was so bad I just slept whenever I could and made no effort to corral the times.

In the summer I decided my increased stamina meant I could tolerate some even bigger losses of sleep.  I started off shifting the schedule by about 2 hours and then managed to get to 3 on a journey to make it 4.  Recently the unwinding around my eyes has wreaked such havoc I’ve lost ground back to the 2 hour shift but I’m counting it as a victory to have managed to hang on to that much of the change.

Some days it’s a little weird for me to look at these little shifts and changes as big victories, but compared to life a few years ago, this feels like a major unfurling.  Some days I’m still resentful at being handed such a long difficult healing journey.  But a lot of the time this year I feel so pleased to see these little changes slowly, slowly, carefully moving me to living a fuller life again, this time as a person with so much more emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health than I ever had before.

Looking forward to even more opening and LIVING in 2020.  Hope you all are starting the new year in peace and that this will be your best year ever.

 

People Power: The “be-ers”

The Three Key Paths:  The “Be-ers”

In recent months I’ve watched my own anger erupting over politics which has led to a lot of contemplating, especially what’s best for the path of People Power for which I’m advocating here. That exploration along with dialing back my personal anger with chanting has led me to a stronger conviction than ever that the lovingkindness path of “be-ers” is the key to shifting the world.

I see be-ers as those of us who believe being is as important as doing, who meditate, pray, vision, chant, etc. and understand the vibration, or energy, of those activities changes the world.

The above chart from David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force has been a touchstone point to which I often return. His studies on higher vibrations and their powerful impact on large numbers of other people resonated to my core and aligned with how I felt–and continue to feel–the world worked.

Each of us has our own vibrational level as well as being part of the whole and that individual level impacts the totality. If I am carrying a lot of anger and negativity, I add those things to the web of life.  If I am heartful and loving, I add those to the web.

As millions of us around the globe have landed on various spiritual paths in the last 40 years, we have been raising the vibration for the world.  Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started a group in Fairfield that has been meditating for piece and holding a powerful vibration for many years and there are many other such groups around the world. Such groups create powerful vortexes of energy.that counterbalance of lot of lower energy.

I also believe that when two or more gather together and join energy in the same purpose the impact of that energy grows exponentially. It’s why such groups of high vibrating participants are so important. When I’ve felt the power of groups resonating in compassion and love… it’s amazing.

In this time of transition there are thus two important offerings us “be-ers” can make: (1) clear lower energies from our individual selves as we work on also raising our own vibrations; and (2) put together a group and regularly meet to chant or pray or meditate together for peace.  Create a ritual, make a celebration, or do something as simple as doing metta practice together.

Most of the “doers’ think such activities are nothing, add nothing, etc. They’re wrong. And now isn’t the moment to waste time trying to convince them, it’s just time to “be”.  To ignore them and put our all into “being compassion” and radiating love.  The moment to “be the change we wish to see” has arrived.

Previous People Power posts;

Revisit to People Are Who They Are..

I used to do a series of posts during the holidays with tips on negotiating some of the emotional minefields many of us have.  I think I’ve skipped a few years now, and thought I’d revisit.  I originally posted this in 2011 (hard to believe I’ve been blogging this long!):

One of my all time favorite teachings came from Serge King when he taught the Huna segment for my class at Nine Gates Mystery School (he doesn’t teach for Nine Gates any more): “People are who they are and they do what they do.” The more you know about who somebody is and what he does, the less you will ever be disappointed because you know you can’t expect him to be or do something else. When Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements came out some years later I found his “Don’t take anything personally” to be aligned; if you know your friend is being who she is and doing what she does how can you take what she’s doing personally?

That piece of advice has been so incredibly helpful to me and some of my friends have found it life changing too. One friend had a really unhappy relationship with her dad. She was a great believer in communication to heal relationships so she kept writing him letters in which she explained how upset she was by certain things he did. She was disappointed every time because her expectation was that he would change because of what she told him and he never did.

This had been going on for years when I described the concept and said, “seems to me he’s just being who he is.” As I explained it her eyes grew wide and her jaw dropped. As soon as she looked at it from that perspective the whole situation changed for her.

I don’t have a personal anecdote that’s as dramatic but in many subtle ways it has changed relationships and kept me from a lot of hurt feelings. It doesn’t mean you have to stop liking people or to judge them, it means you can make decisions about relationships based on knowing and accepting who people are.

For me that sometimes means creating a little distance and sometimes feeling more trust or closeness. I was always a little oversensitive and I’m so grateful for reducing the hurt feelings factor; I get it that almost everything other people say and do reflects everything about them and nothing about me.

In the holiday season when lots of people are dreading events that involve spending time with relatives, I think it’s a good time to take a breath and remember, “People are who they are and they do what they do.” Don’t expect that anybody’s going to be different and know that whatever is being said and done is not about you – don’t take anything personally.

Anger in the air

Screaming it out

In a recent post I alluded to experiencing some irritability lately and the first couple of days of this week had me at such high levels of feisty and cranky I’ve been doing some contemplating.

The orange man held a rally here in town on Monday and I’m pretty sure some of it was me picking up on the great numbers of angry people who converged here to attend and the angst of those who opposed and gathered outside in protest.  Now that the election is over, I’m much calmer so I’d say that was a lot of it.

But since anger was a big issue in my early inner explorations and a lot of the processing work I did during the Fischer-Hoffman Process* involved releasing huge amounts, I try to stay aware if I think another issue seems to be surfacing.  I did the Fischer Hoffman 1992-93 and for I’d say 10 years after, every time I unearthed an issue with angst attached I used “the process”, identifying the source and pounding pillows, etc.

Without intending to, I drifted away from doing it and most of the release in the last 15 years or so has been at the agency of body work therapists and/or me using the triggers of release work and opening something up.  When I first encountered Ellen, the F-H facilitator, at Nine Gates during third chakra work, we used some techniques Gay Luce added, which she called “emotional hygiene”.

I used to do those off and on as well, my favorite being one where you take a somewhat wide stance, clasp your hands, inhale and hold your breath, and then raise and lower your hands while bending forward as if you were chopping big logs with an axe.  You keep swinging for as long as you can possibly hold your breath.  Then exhale and repeat as necessary. It’s a great way to shake some of the daily irritants of life and, if something is bubbling up, it is also really effective at getting it to the surface.

Remembering the work has me thinking it would be good to incorporate the chopping on some regular basis and also exploring whether I feel a round of the process is in order.  I know that besides picking up on community energies, the current round of muscle releases in my head is off-loading some old and/or ancestral and/or past life issues locked in for most of my life.

Most of the time I try to look at this long healing road as a good thing, both (1) from the standpoint of being freed of physical pain and problems and (2) especially for healing the emotional issues lurking beneath.  But I’m realizing there’s a level on which I’m pretty angry about the huge disruption in my life this has caused for YEARS, especially the precarious financial situation in which it has left me.

So I’m thinking it’s time to dust off the process tools — as best I can remember them now 🙂 — and plan a session.  And some chopping.  Definitely some chopping.

The return to lovingkindness chanting is definitely also helping but since these bouts of temper keep arising in between rounds of chanting I’m feeling the anger needs to be addressed.  Disappointing to be back to this, yet I also know every bit of clearing any one of us does contributes to lifting the anger out of the Oneness, so I feel committed.

*Ellen, having been a facilitator for many years had devised a deeper and longer version.  The original process, now called the Quadrinity Method, is still around but not the same as her work.  Since her death, as far as I know there is no one doing her variation.

Disruption

When I launched my plan to shift my schedule I knew the muscles in my face might prove to be a hindrance, but hoped it might not get that bad again.  The last few weeks have been back to high levels of activity, interfering with sleep, etc.

The good news is I’m still getting up and going to sleep quite a bit earlier than before, but instead of progressing further toward the goal, it’s instead moved a little in the other direction.  And I’ve just been stupefied with fatigue a lot of the time.

This spell has coincided with a time when those who observe energy patterns have been saying we’re undergoing a big shift and a lot of releasing.  Yup.  I think I could vouch for that.

Along with the yanking, sleep problems and energy shifting there’s irritability, particularly around politics.  Some of that is probably part of the general energy, some to do with the energy shift, and, frankly, when I’m constantly badly sleep deprived I’m just cranky.

But I’m also noticing. Wondering if there’s a deeper issue unfolding with the muscles.  I know in general the muscle patterns in my face have been connected to anger, whether mine or ancestral or past life and sometimes I just don’t know exactly what the underlying story was.  Or maybe there’s something to explore.

The other thing I began to note as irritability grew, is how long it’s been since I did the lovingkindness chant, singing chants for heart, love, etc. I instituted long ago.  It wasn’t really purposeful, I just got into doing Steve Nobel’s meditations after about a year of chanting and gradually shifted to doing those exclusively.

As soon as I noted it, it was also clear those practices helped keep me centered and calm in the midst of the chaos swirling around me.  And the longing to do them again arose with those thoughts.  Did the lovingkindness chant yesterday and felt the shift.

All in all, these recent weeks have felt like a disruption of the path to a new and better schedule but I remind myself every day I’ve managed to hold onto most of the shift already made.  Weeks like these last few had much to do with the crazy late sleeping and waking times I’d become accustomed to keeping and it seems like a victory just to have held it at bay.

Of course the price of holding to it has meant even less sleep, so life feels pretty disrupted anyway.  The other cool piece is the muscles squeezing my left eye have loosened enough that vision is noticeably improved.  Quite a journey.

 

A meditation, insights and puzzlement

Several days ago I tried a new Steve Nobel meditation which both led to a couple of deep insights and left me feeling the meditation was incomplete.  When I saw the meditation I felt right away this would be a good place to try addressing yet again an issue that has dogged me for all the years I’ve been on this journey:  The Grace Transmission: Surrendering a Seemingly Irresolvable Issue to Spirit.

Prior to starting the spiritual journey I was pretty good at getting jobs with adequate pay — as long as I hated them.  Once I gave up on ideas like “work is hard and always a struggle” and “you can only make a living at jobs that are unpleasant:, etc. I started teetering between starting ventures doing things I loved that at best made no money and often wound up costing me and taking low-paying part-time jobs to get me through.  My financial status began a downward spiral that has never stopped.

Having addressed many many issues and seen things move, this one has been frustrating as I have thrown more at it than any other, from affirmations to visions to emotional clearing, to examining ancestral patterns, etc. and nothing has ended the spiral.  Every time I think I’ve broken through and things will change, they do.  For the worse.

Nobel has several meditations addressing abundance, etc. and I’ve done those too and definitely felt I moved some energy but something has still seemed stuck.  So I entered this new meditation with the intent to turn over this issue and see how his mind-blowing transformational talents impacted this.

The basic construct, after his usual opening of clearing and bringing in archangels, etc., is to look through three windows, the first of the unconscious, the second of the conscious and the third, the Higher Self view.  Not bad as a construct though I have a few critiques.

I guess he was trying to avoid making suggestions that influenced what we “saw” but from the first window on, I felt I could have used a little more guidance about what we were aiming for as we looked through the window.  Nonetheless, as soon as I looked through the first one I saw myself alone in a hot and desolate desert.

Moments later I realized I was revisiting a past life experience I’ve encountered before.  Usually it’s come up (or been”seen” by a psychic) in the context of me having had multiple lifetimes as a healer/seer and, more often, as one of many healer lifetimes in which I was tortured and/or put to death for my abilities — thus the shutdown this time around.

My late teacher Ellen Margron taught us about “daisy chains” of beliefs and how beliefs intertwine with one another and are deduced from one another, etc.  I’ve often found since that memories, whether childhood or past life, often have their own daisy chain of beliefs that arose from one powerful incident.  I forget that sometimes so this was a good reminder.

In this instance instead of feeling the terror of being punished for what I knew or saw, I experienced the end portion of being tied down and left in the middle of a desert to die a horrible death alone.  I felt utterly abandoned by every human, by the Universe and by God.

In other inner journeying, I’d realized long ago that as a very young child my reaction to some tough stuff going on was to feel abandoned by God.  Many times I’ve realized I live in an odd space in which I consciously believe in spirit and interconnection, etc. while on some deep level having no faith that a higher power cares anything about me.

I’ve worked on it quite a bit but looking through this window I could feel a tight hold from this past life experience and the resulting loss of faith has been at the core most of my life.  The surprising thing to me in the meditation was there was no guidance into something to shift or re-create the view through the window. He also left a REALLY long time for seeing this picture and I’d completed it early on, then felt like I was miserably held in this unpleasant space.

So I came to window two still feeling yucky from window one.  Window two was seeing into the conscious mind about the issue.  It was another scene of isolation, but this time based on fears of winding up homeless and living in my car.  I could feel the direct connection between the past life scene in window one and the feelings still being held in consciousness.

Again, there was no turn around moment and the hold in this unpleasant place was exceedingly long.  Then on to window three, the view of the Higher Self.  This time I could instantly see myself as an interconnected part of the web of all life and sense the flow of energy always available. I was also still experiencing the unpleasant feelings from the first two windows, so it didn’t feel as comfortable and freeing as it might have. I could also see the flow being blocked; I knew it was me blocking it and I could understand that me letting go of those feelings of being abandoned and lost would open the flow.

I gather the idea was the “higher” view would automatically heal the other two views, but since I’ve understood and addressed this issue before and clearly still have it, I felt like I could really have used a final piece in which all the guides and angels brought in assisted in shifting the first two views to align with the third.  I understand this stuff well enough to get that he figured the final view would do that on its own.  Maybe it did…

I do feel the series of views has had an impact and now that I’m hyper-conscious about it I’ve been regularly envisioning myself in that interconnected space and affirming my connection to the web.  I open to receive as much energy, love, abundance, etc. as the universe can offer.  I can feel energy moving.

So mixed reviews.  On the one hand, clearly there was power in this meditation and it guided me into an important revelation.  On the other, I didn’t find it as transformative as I feel it could have been.

 

People Power: politics and changing the cultural base line

The deeper I move into this People Power series the more I realize how much we need a shift in our basic thinking on multi-levels and in multi-arenas.  Watching Marianne Williamson’s much-needed voice shaking up the political arena is fueling my sense of “time for change” even more. It’s time for us to take power back from global corporations and unscrupulous politicians and she’s calling out the need for these changes.

Her candidacy has left me doing a lot of deep ruminating.  Starting with the fact I’ve never particularly liked her.  And note I’m NOT saying I DIS-like her.  My instincts for which teacher or which book is for me are spot on and I just never felt drawn to her… for ME.  And I admit I’ve always pick up a frisson of something in her demeanor or energy that leaves me uneasy.

So I’m not an enthusiastic supporter of her as president.  But I’m an enthusiastic supporter of her important voice staying in the race long enough to start moving the conversation in the direction it needs to go. As far as her ultimately being the candidate, still mulling.

There’ve been a few really good articles about the importance of the conversation she keeps inserting into the political arena.  In this article in Harper’s Bazaar by Kerry Pieri, the writer asserts, “Williamson is trying to teach us that our mind-set needs a new baseline, one of true empathy…” And she argues this is so important in these times that people need to stop calling her crazy for trying to talk about love and peace.

And Erica Ariel Fox, in a Forbes article discusses how much we need to re-insert soul and spirit into our politics, telling Democrats they should learn from her.

The switch to moving from fear and war as our base of operations to love and peace is key and crucial but not the only one we need to make.  From our unconscious consuming habits to our reliance on federal government instead of moving to local power to our blindness to the power of corporations over our lives and our world, we need radical change in our base line of thinking.

And I”m thankful Marianne Williamson is standing up there, bravely facing ridicule, and loudly advocating positions we are not used to hearing from politicians.  These conversations need to become part of the cultural base line and consciousness in order for we the people to assert our power.

@MarianneWilliamson @2020Marianne

The People Power Series:

 

Getting Bigger

Many years back my insightful acupuncturist, Raymond Himmel (still practicing in Mill Valley, CA for anyone near enough) commented, “You know it’s okay for you to be big,” as he popped another needle in.  Me holding back my bigness in one way or another has come up often over many years on this journey and among my various spiritual teachers and alternative health practitioners, he was not alone in perceiving and pointing out that issue.

Over the years I’ve done lots of work around the ideas of making myself small and fear of being big, from digging around in the issue to release work to efforts at changing my negative thought patterns, particularly those I see as keeping me small.  For me it’s one of those major, pervasive issues with tendrils, and I imagine I will be circling back to it for the rest of at least this lifetime.

Years ago I understood the tight muscles all over my body created a defensive system almost like having body armor under the skin.  More recently, as the final throes of unwinding in my face move through, I’ve been also understanding the same tightness as part of being small.

In my early yoga training, my teacher talked to us quite a bit about how we can see many things about our personalities and our ways of being in how we feel about postures, and in our relationship with the difficulty or easiness of various postures.  I, for instance, did forward bend stretches with ease from the beginning.  An indicator of introversion or inwardness.

Back bends, on the other hand, were a strain.  Initially I could barely lift an inch off the floor into a cobra pose  An indicator of being afraid to be open and exposed in the world.  I didn’t exactly mind doing them but they were hard for me.  Since I knew being more open in the world was an issue, I concertedly kept working at back bends.

My ability to move farther into postures like cobra improved in a complementary fashion with my becoming more outward in the world.  Those are just a couple of examples, but it’s a lesson I’ve always carried and reflected upon periodically.  So as my head has finally opened up significantly the import of the squeezed up muscles became a subject of contemplation.

Increasingly I’ve understood that the super tight squeezing in all the muscles in my head and face (I’ve described it as feeling like a vice grip that could squeeze to the max from every direction) served to keep me small.  And as the muscles have opened up– and opened more of my body as the patterns in my head connected into and held up patterns all the way down — the feeling of being bigger has grown.

A few weeks ago while following along to one of Steve Nobel’s great meditations I suddenly opened into a sense of a big space in me while receiving a message that it’s time to be big, to let myself be all I came here to be.  For most of this journey I’ve  had visions occasionally of me in a much bigger, more out there life and, while excited, my main reaction has always been that it’s too grandiose, too much for “little ol’ me” to imagine I could be and do all that.  Without the opening in my muscles, I don’t think I could feel the bigness as I now do.

For the first time I felt this really big, impactful life truly is the one I came here to live.  I’ve been naming some well known teachers and saying I feel like I belong on the same stages they’re on.  This isn’t a sudden complete transformation.  Any given day (or even time of day) you could find me feeling anxious about stepping out like that or tearing up because it seems like too much.

But the rest of the time I’m mulling it and taking it in and telling myself, as Raymond so long ago told me, “It’s okay to be big.”

Life and a meditation

I have posts buzzing around in my head, from my spiritual journey lately to more People Power to mulling over Mueller, but life has been getting in the way.  My 93-year-old mother relies on me to get to all appointments and to do all shopping and she’s been having lots of appointments.  Between busy-ness and periodic sleep deprivation I’m winding up writing in my head but getting nothing down.

In the meantime, I continue to periodically explore Steve Nobel’s expansive offerings and I’ve found his meditation, “Releasing Anxiety/Fear” to be powerful:

Working on a plan…

The class on Co-Humanity and Compassion more or less ended last weekend (material stays up for six months and we can keep working on it and post about it) and I sort of dropped off.  As mentioned in another post about the class, I struggled early on with the secular viewpoint and the final push was to make a plan concerning what we intend to do to help “bridge the/a divide”.

In the end, while I seemed to fall out of step with the class and its goals, its thought-provoking nature and my deep contemplation of my discomfort with it have brought me in step with myself.  Seeing where I’m aiming more clearly.

Pretty much all instructions made it clear that creating a meeting, setting up a facilitated dialog, joining an interfaith discussion were the intended kinds of plans.  Action out in the world would count as “doing something”.  Prayer, meditation, raising consciousness, etc. don’t count.

The issue of what constitutes “doing” is one with which I’ve grappled for a long time–in fact I wrote a post some years ago asking what If prayer is something?  I’ve now come down firmly on the side of believing that praying, envisioning, meditating, clearing issues and any other forms of clearing lower energies and raising vibration are not only doing something but perhaps the most important something we can do.

In a world where SO many people don’t believe that last statement to be true, I also see the proliferation of attempts to build bridges, change policies, etc. as important steps in the process.  So I’m not discounting the efforts of the do-tasks form of action, just stumping for the great importance of understanding we’re all part of one great consciousness and every time we lift the level of vibration we change the world.

When I read David Hawkins’ Power vs. Force to some extent I felt I was reading confirmation of something I already knew.  His extensive studies on energy levels and how they impact the whole are, I think, probably just a beginning.  When science really learns how to study this stuff I imagine there will be many refinements.  But the basics he lays out in the book I think describe how it works quite well.

There’s a scale of energy vibration/consciousness:

The higher the level at which a given individual is vibrating the more people he or she can counterbalance:

One individual at level 700      counterbalances…       70 million individuals below level 200.

One individual at level 600      counterbalances…       10 million individuals below level 200.

One individual at level 500      counterbalances…       750,000 individuals below level 200.

One individual at level 400      counterbalances…       400,000 individuals below level 200.

One individual at level 300      counterbalances…       90,000 individuals below level 200.

Twelve individuals at level 700          equals…                  one Avatar at 1,000

Hawkins, Power vs. Force 1995, p. 282.

Accepting these numbers means a relatively small number of people who raise their own vibratory pattern to a higher level can not only counterbalance many who operate at lower frequencies, but can lift the consciousness level of the whole. My personal take on some of the anger and chaos unleashed now is that the huge number of people around the world who have been on a spiritual journey of clearing old issues and meditating, etc. to raise consciousness have lifted a huge portion of the population out of the 50 and below range into the 75 to 100 range where jealousy, anger, etc. dwell.

When enough of the world is lifted above 200, I think that is when we will begin to see peace and harmony unfolding.

So my plan is to continue on my People Power series. From the spiritual perspective there are two main points to the series and then a third more secular one.  (1) In many places I’m pointing out places where cultural issues are embedded in our collective consciousness and need to be released; (2) spoiler alert I’m going to advocate for the power of creating visions, meditating, etc. to help shift the planet; (3) I’m suggesting some”practical” doing steps that move outside the normal boxes and suggest radical change.

So that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

Walking a different drummer/spiritual path in a secular world

A little over a week ago I started participating in an on line class called “Co-Human Harmony“.  The idea is to work on understanding and tools to help create bridges in a divisive society or situation.  I signed up because I think it’s so important right now and because I realize I even have a problem quite often about joining groups who are working for peace or justice (i.e. theoretically same view as mine) because I frame these issues so differently.

I’m loving the class but also struggling for the same reasons.  The quite valid point of the class is to learn tools for bridging divides where people are, which is generally not in a place of understanding or accepting non-duality.  And I’m realizing I’ve moved so far along the path of looking at everything from a spiritual/metaphysical viewpoint, I’m having trouble answering some of the course questions within a more “practical” framework.

I believe so thoroughly we’re all divine beings who are made of energy which is part of one unified field.  And I am so used to using tools like (1) moving into heart energy and shifting a room with it or (2) chanting lovingkindness for someone with whom I’m at odds or (3) doing a meditation that balances energy between me and another person before we actually interact, that I think in those terms for bridges and healing rifts.

The teacher has pointed out it’s fine to think in those terms (and has encouraged me to continue) but for these situations we’re addressing how to be in a room with, say, a Neo-Nazi, and find a way to connect as humans so we can talk.  And I’m guessing as we move from studying the theoretical framework to more practical applications it may become easier to just use and apply new concepts.  But right now I’m floundering in attempts to talk about my understanding of various passages, videos, etc. on which we’re asked to comment without talking about energy and chakras and stuff.

I’m really seeing how far down this spiritual path I’ve gotten.  I know, I know, seems goofy after this many years for this to be a new thought.  But I’ve wound up mostly hanging around with other spiritual seekers who’ve been at it for years and though I know intellectually that most people don’t think this way, I’m rarely confronted in person with how totally different the drumbeat to which I march really is.

Since most of the folks who regularly read and participate here lead deeply spiritual lives I’m very interested and curious to hear your thoughts and stories about participating as a spiritually-enmeshed person in secular affairs.  Comments are welcome but I’d be even more excited to see some of you write posts about living spiritually in a secular world.

BTW, I’ll still be continuing the People Power series but as I work through this class I’ll likely switch back and forth in topics.

I like my aging face

For some months now I’ve felt like I’ve been in some sort of hibernation/incubation mix, drawn to studying up on a bunch of current events issues and unsure what’s next.  Finally in the last couple of weeks a couple of epiphanies have arrived.  The first will take several posts so I’m writing up the second one to open.

Lately a number of articles and insights about aging have cropped up, during a spell when I’ve often enjoyed my graying hair in the mirror as well as appreciating my aging face.  They’ve had me contemplating myself as an aging woman.

Time Stopped

Aging has been an odd process for me.  Like many with a long-term ailment like chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia, in many ways my life froze at the point in my mid-thirties when normal life stopped.  For many years I had trouble conceiving of myself as having moved anywhere past that age.

At the same time, the process of moving toward wellness included lots and lots of bodywork and a faithful yoga practice combined with some other movement practices.  Once the process of aging caught up with me enough that I could no longer hold an illusion of being 34 🙂 I had transformed my body from stiff and pained and barely mobile to strong and lithe and flexible.

So I find myself at 66 with a body that feels younger than it did in my thirties and a face that clearly says “66” in a life that felt like a couple of decades went missing.

“Not Fair”

Clearly somewhere along the way I drifted from feeling 34 to seeing the aging reality in the mirror.  Having, in most conventional senses, lost 25 or so years, my initial reaction was, “Not fair!”

Alternating amongst angry and mournful and denying, I grappled with “losing” most of the middle of life and finding myself old and still struggling to get past all the health and emotional issues   Not fair!

Again, because my body was coming back to life and my muscles were serving me better than ever, denial became an easy refuge.  As long as I didn’t look in the mirror, I felt so much better it was hard to reconcile the “old” thing with the state of my physical being.

I never landed on anger or grief or denial for long and through it all I could manage to look at what I accomplished during those years and have a little re-think.

I Earned This Face

I can’t remember how many years ago I quit dying my hair (I’d gone prematurely white around my face in my early 30’s and, like so many, once I started, I kept going too long), but an appreciation of the gray look has been growing ever since.

Lately, as mentioned, I’ve been seeing a lot of photos and posts about amazing “older” women.  Soaking in the tub one recent day and pondering some of these “signs” I flashed to the image of my long graying hair when it’s down and my face with its wrinkles and the deep circles under my eyes that tell me my kidneys are still being squeezed by muscles and I’m not getting enough sleep.

Suddenly I felt love.  I earned this face.  When I look at the photos above I see a progression that may not be as visible to those who haven’t lived it, but to me is clear.

The toddler me is still open and bright; it’s a photo taken before I shut down.

By the time of the graduation photo taken at 17, my face is frozen and the muscle issues have already pulled my eyes back farther into my head than they should be.

The next photo, at 45-ish, was taken after I’d been doing spiritual work for 10 or so years, after going through the Fisher-Hoffman process work and I can see a little more openness, but, not having started work on the facial muscles, my eyes have pulled even farther back.

In the final photo — from last week — I see a face much more open.  My eyes have moved farther forward.  Not all the way yet, as final recalcitrant core muscles continue to work out of the web behind my eyes, but they’ve moved and appear more open again. Still in progress, but a visible confirmation of accomplishment.

I worked hard to move from the girl with the frozen face to the aging woman with masks removed and brighter eyes  I’ve faced into dark depths and wandered down entangled pathways from which I could not see a way forward.

To the outer world my life moved nowhere except from one U.S. state to another to another, but in my essence, at the core of my being, I have traversed a thousand miles of wilderness, facing down the lions and tigers and bears.

At 66 I stand on the brink of being the healthiest I have perhaps ever been.  I’ve jettisoned neuroses and useless beliefs and large pieces of what I thought was my personality.  I’m still not positive where the next phase will find me but I know I’m finally going to be living life as me and on my terms.

I earned this face.

Sage advice: muscles

My knowledge of muscles is taken from many places.  From a section on anatomy and muscles in my yoga teacher training, to info on muscles liberally dispensed by yoga teachers and multiple body work therapists to reading on my own, I’ve been learning about muscles for 30+ years.

The key factor I would emphasize is that most of us are woefully ignorant about our muscles and the central role they play in our health, well-being and ability to get around.  Western medicine largely ignores muscles, so many problems go undetected because they don’t even look for damage when you’ve fallen or been in an accident.

It’s worth learning about your muscles and seeking assistance outside of allopathic medicine in order to maintain muscle health and to restore it to balance after injury.

Emotions and muscles

Since this is everyone’s least favorite aspect, let’s get it out of the way 🙂  At times of trauma and/or drama we tighten our muscles and often the emotions evoked by these events wind up locked in knots in the muscle.

When you start opening the muscles, whether through practicing yoga, getting body work or treatments like acupuncture, those emotions and the memories associated with them are going to surface.

I think it’s one of the biggest reasons body work may plateau; resistance to remembering and/or releasing leads the person unconsciously to tighten.  In yoga people prevent these openings by getting out of a pose as soon as the muscle starts to relax enough to let those memories and feelings rise up.

Getting clear of old issues almost always needs to include some work on muscles in order to open the flow and restore essence.

Strength and Flexibility

America has somehow come to the conclusion that healthy muscles need only to be strong.  It’s a persistent misconception even though multitudes of people who work only on strength have wound up suffering pain from the impact of having muscles that are rigid but incapable of flexing.

Natural movement through the world requires muscles to have both the strength to make certain movements and hold certain parts of the body upright and the flexibility to allow you to balance, and to adjust to the motions life throws at you and, even more important, to allow vital force energy to flow throughout your body.

The nadis, or energy channels, through which prana (chi, qi, vital energy…) moves go through the muscles.  Rigid muscles restrict that flow.  Western thinking and medicine understands very little about energy, but energy and its ability to circulate is crucial mentally, physically and spiritually to good health.

After 32 years of yoga I’m prejudiced, of course, but I think it’s one of the best ways to get your muscles into the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.  A good yoga practice works on balance on many levels and one of the important features of a good practice is performing poses for both strength and stretch.

The Pain Place and the Source of Pain May Not Be the Same

The first serious massage therapist for me used a combo of sports medicine and the trigger point therapy theories of Dr. Janet Travell, particularly as shaped by Bonnie Prudden in Myotherapy.  Because muscles are interconnected, a holding pattern in one area will spread –given enough time, tightness can spread throughout your body — and may create a tight spot that hurts somewhere else.

If you work only where the pain is, you will not get rid of the problem.  Practitioners who know how to follow patterns* can figure out where the source of the problem really is.  When that piece releases, others will be easy to open.

Margaret, that first practitioner, often worked on my neck, couldn’t get anything to budge, moved down to a giant ball of knotted muscles at the top of my achilles tendon, worked there and then went back to my neck, where the muscles would now respond.

In Body Patterning, practitioners learn to see patterns in muscles and will often release several other areas before working on the place where you’ve indicated pain.  They’re releasing pieces that are holding that one and the spot you may think is central will not let go while the other patterns hold.

Another aspect of this is that your brain will numb out much of the pain if you have tight, sore muscles all over (or in many places).  Then it will zero in on one or two specific parts where you will experience the pain.  They’re not necessarily the places of origin for your problem.  Sometimes the pain is just referring from the pattern that’s the real issue.

Find a good practitioner –making sure you check on the training and experience — and trust him or her to work wherever you most need it regardless of whether that turns out to be the place where you feel pain.

When I do Flowing Body work on myself or with students, I generally do triggers of release for at least three areas and work with consciousness not only of before and after, but what has been affected by what.  For instance, during a recent knee problem, I did the triggers for ankles, knees and hips and noticed the ankle release did the most for the sore knee and the hip release was also more effective than the knee releases.

Another I’ve noted frequently, as have many students, is that releasing the ankles will often release something in the neck and/or jaw.  Almost every release will cause people to lower their shoulders even if no work has been done on shoulders.  Pay attention as you practice yoga or other exercises as to which movements bring relief where.

Muscles and Bones

Many muscles are connected to bones which means muscles pulled out of alignment can pull bones out of alignment too.  In the early years of trying to work my way out of fibromyalgia –harking back to Margaret again — the massage therapist prescribed chiropractic appointments to help.

Once the muscles have pulled bones out of whack, it often takes work on the bones as well to get the muscles to release.  If you’re not keen on the invasiveness of traditional chiropractic work, try Network Chiropractic. which doesn’t use the bone crunching technique and instead is gentle touch.

Therapy and Self Care

Over time I learned that body workers can help a lot but if I don’t do anything to help in between appointments, progress is exceedingly slow.  There are a variety of things you can do to help

I’d already been doing yoga when I began getting massages, etc. so that has always been a natural piece for me.  But it was when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area that I became conscious of helping along more.

I’d moved out to Marin but still wanted to go to the same massage therapist and also liked going to Kabuki Hot Springs, a Japanese bath place with wonderful sauna, hot tub, steam, etc.  To save trips over the bridge I started booking the massages on one of the ladies’ days at Kabuki and going in to soak, sauna, etc. first.  The therapist quickly noted my muscles were much easier to work on from the deep heat work right before the appointment.

Then, years later when I started doing a trade for Body Patterning, I only had an appointment every other week and I knew I needed to do something to maintain from one visit to the next.  Yoga had always helped but not enough.  And the commute to Kabuki Hot Springs had become a couple thousand miles 🙂

I’d done Robert Masters’ Psycho-physical Method to tapes for years but found it unwieldy for regular practice.  I began doing some of this work in between appointments and gradually re-worked it into sets of my own which dropped some pieces and joined various disparate parts in his classes into sets that worked well together and then combined it with yoga

Practice in between helped and I began a practice of doing 30-60 minutes of this work shortly before massage appointments, with a long soak in a hot bath right before leaving.  Suddenly I was being told that I had released more since the last appointment.

Normally practitioners get a number of things to open and then a combination of repetitive motions performed in life and the pulling force of patterns still holding in your body take the progress backwards a few steps (say 4 steps forward, 2-3 steps back).  Then at the next appointment the practitioner spends 15-30 of the first minutes of your appointment getting you back to where you were at the end of the last appointment.

So doing your part through practices that maintain progress and making sure you’ve done all you could before an appointment, you can move much faster through the body work to healthy muscles.  Very little time needs to be spent on getting you back to where you were and most of the appointment is about progressing further.

Problems Arise Slowly

It’s amazing how little it can take to start a problem with muscles and then it may take years before you feel the pain.  Yup.  Years.

I know I try the patience of some of my students with my emphasis on form in doing yoga and they don’t really believe me when I tell them doing it wrong can cause injuries.  If they’re not being wheeled out on a gurney at the end of class, to them there was no injury.

But do a pose wrong — or watch TV daily with your head turned or tilted or sit with your hips uneven, etc. — and keep doing it wrong and one or more muscles can be pulled a little out of place and/or strained enough to create a small knot.

At the time and perhaps for some time to come you probably won’t feel any pain at all.  But you’ve started a pattern. And if it goes untreated, the muscle will lock into the slightly-off-position and the first couple of knots will pull more of the muscle into knots.  Once that muscle is far enough out of whack it will start pulling all the muscles around it and causing them to tighten.

You might have started off pulling a muscle in your right hip out of place and a few years later it’s expanded until you’re having pain in your left shoulder and since you haven’t even done yoga for two years, you have no idea that doing it wrong started your problem.

The same is also true of having an injury and failing to get help.  You may stay off an ankle for a few days or go on bed rest for a spell and feel okay enough when you move again. But there’s a very good chance the trauma and the automatic tightening of muscles around it has set a little pattern.  Left untreated the pattern will remain and keep reaching out to affect more muscles.

The best way to protect your muscles from injury is to stay aware in the now.  Learn to do any exercise properly — and if your teacher can’t carefully explain the details of how to do something correctly, FIND A DIFFERENT TEACHER!!!  Also take care about positions you engage in routinely — how you sit, how you hold your head.

If you do an assessment and realize you’ve been twisting your neck when you sleep or sitting with one hip higher than the other, etc., seek help on identifying any patterns that have arisen and releasing them before they’ve turned into 20 patterns.

Bottom line, your muscles are important and you are the best steward in maintaining health.  Do what you can to keep them healthy and any time you have an accident or injury or feel a strain from repetitive motion seek help from alternative practitioners who actually understand muscles.


*i.e. cranio-sacral or body patterning

Something’s Calling?

Barbara Franken of Me, My Magnificent Self has invited a third round of posts on Awakening Experiences which will be made into another e-book. This entry is perhaps more about the next stage of my journey than awakening, but I see it as describing another step forward in awareness.

As indicated in my last post I’ve been sporadically contemplating “What’s next?”. The question crops up periodically as I’ve been tired of this healing thing for a long time and ready to move forward. But to what?

It’s not that I hang around constantly fretting over the future. But this whole journey started as a way for me to learn not only to live a happier life but to find a career path that felt like me after a lifetime of trying to please everyone else. I rarely liked the choices made for others and I’d lost any sense of who I was and what I wanted to do. So I do have an interest in moving forward.

I’ve joked many times, if I’d realized at the beginning the journey would lead me into so many deep hollows and twisty byways I probably wouldn’t have started. Along the way, the spiritual tools my early mentors handed me wound up adding spirituality to the journey; I admit it was not part of my original quest. The spiritual side leaves me aware there’s a flow and life is easier when you connect with it. And I keep getting glimpses — “knowing”– or flashes of insight about where the current is heading, so I’m trying to interpret and understand.

Called to Teach?

Early on writing felt like my calling and I spent a long time working on unlocking my inner writer. Something I did easily and naturally as a child and teenager eluded me. While I pursued the idea of writing fiction, various prescient teachers intertwined with insightful flashes of my own to suggest a different path.

In the mid-90’s, several of my spiritual teachers started dogging me about how they knew I’m a leader and here to teach. A couple of them bugged me periodically about getting out there and teaching. I could sense the core of truth in their reading of me but also had no idea what to teach nor, as it turned out, how to teach 🙂

Eventually I decided that maybe teaching through my writing answered the calling, got help creating a web site and started posting “Tips for the Spiritual Journey”. Which was fun to write but led nowhere, to no audience…

Called to Journey for Peace

Moving ahead to the mid -aughts, a friend with awesome right listening skills gently probed with ever more deepening questions until I realized I felt called to work for peace. Some time later my “Journey to Peace” class was formulated. I’d also been trying to teach some right speech classes.

Many of the people who took the classes said they got a lot out of it but I rarely drew more than 1-3 at a time. It took several years to learn enough about the rhythm and flow of teaching to structure the classes with a good mix of lecture and practice. But the classes were costing me more often than they made any money and I was reaching so few people it seemed pointless.*

In the meantime I’d developed my movement classes — which began purely as an aid to my own muscle issues — and taught yoga and my own movement stuff to the same pitiful results. The efforts reached a point where almost simultaneously the unwinding muscles in my head reached a debilitating pinnacle and I threw in the towel on teaching classes.

Somewhere in the midst of that, I wound up guided to start this blog and thought perhaps it was my teaching path. And then when I collected a crowd of lovely folks who already know what I’m teaching but didn’t seem to reach anyone else, I gave up thinking of the blog as the conduit for teaching.

Ahead of the curve

Several years ago I had a breakthrough three-hour session with local healer Osunnike. One of the most profound moments I didn’t completely understand at the time, except that it was key and I’ve kept coming back to it.

In my memory she actually stopped for a moment when she picked up on this piece but it may have just felt so important to me that I ceased noticing her ongoing healing. Suddenly she started telling me she could see how far ahead of the curve I am on a lot of things and how hard it is for me to be trying to get it out there when most people don’t understand my message. She sensed great loneliness and sadness that few were understanding what I could see clearly. And she told me the day was coming when people would be ready to hear me.

At the time I was working on getting my movement classes out there and feeling this area wasn’t ready for it, so I asked if that was what she meant. She said it was only a part of it; there were many ways in which my teaching at the time was ahead of general understanding. I wasn’t sure I understood, partly because calling myself “ahead of the curve” sounded arrogant or beyond where I could see myself at the time.

When I wrote about the experience I didn’t say much about that piece of it because I needed time to let it sink in and to understand it better. Lately, as the muscles blocking my third eye have been opening, I’m getting more flashes of “knowing” and moments of sudden insight.

Among the insights I’ve been sensing: (1) the bigger part of what Osunnike meant referred to my efforts on what it takes to move toward peace; and (2) my writing here about peace and some of the things I’ve been trying to say about women in my women’s issues series will soon be understood and this long spell of feeling like an unheard failure will be over.

Near the time of these insights, I spoke to fellow blogger Linda, of litebeing chronicles and she mentioned my writings on peace. She told me she follows lots of blogs on spiritual topics but nowhere else did she see a discussion of peace quite like mine. And she encouraged me to writing about it. It dovetailed with my growing sense of being “out there” in what I’m saying. But I could also see if I keep on writing then when people are ready to hear this, a big body of work will already be there for them.

All of this has me contemplating the blog again and ruminating on peace and what we can do from here. I’m seeing this as fulfilling the teaching path so many mentors foresaw long ago. And connecting Osunnike’s insights to the “leader” part of their insights. The threads of teaching and writing joining the thread of thinking ahead of the curve…

Right now I’m just still moving through the last stage of the healing journey. Impatient, obviously 🙂 But I like the sense of direction as I flow toward the next phase. Maybe the exact place I’ve been meant to head all along?


*A few students have told me the class affected them deeply and continues to be an impact so I also reflect on the possibility those few were the only ones I was meant to teach at the time…

When I grow up?

Twilight, Ashland walled garden

I’ve not meant to be so sporadic about posting.  Lots of yanking around the eyes and sleepless nights contribute to lack of brain power for writing.  But I’m also realizing I’ve been in a time of gestation about writing and what I am or am not meant to do with it.

It’s part of an ongoing inner shift and debate I’ve been exploring for some years (including in previous posts).  When I first started on this spiritual journey I was sure writing novels was my path.  A great deal of my early work centered on removing blocks, rediscovering childhood creativity and generally trying to awaken my inner writer.

One novel and several novel attempts later I began to question whether fiction is even my genre.  And when my guidance nudged me to blog, I wondered if this was my path.  Eventually I came to treasure the community of friends I’ve made through blogging but to question whether my writing here serves any purpose as a life path.

And of course there’s the general questioning as I’ve released and transformed and shifted my way from neurotic, negative Nancy (my real first name) to level and lighter Leigh (my more-beloved middle name).  I’ve let go of so much in the last 25 or so years, I’m sometimes not sure who I am and less sure of what I’m here to do.

Eventually, as the regular crowd here knows, I decided a big piece of my purpose is this long, convoluted journey of healing on every level.  The yanking lately is showing me clearly the muscles in my face have just about finished unwinding (as always with the caveat these last pieces are the very tightest so slow going…) and a new chapter is dawning.

I’m still very unclear as to what the new chapter is or looks like but lately more and more signs and portents have been pointing a way.  Next post I’ll explore this more, but let’s just say I’m sensing strongly that coming back to blogging about peace is the next direction.  Or I’m heading back to an old direction? 🙂