Creating bridges with dialogue

Part of one of this week’s assignments in the Harmony and Co-Humanity class I’m taking was to watch this video.  Meghan grew up in a right wing church that basically operated as a hate group, and did a complete 180 turn.

Her story is moving and her advice on bridging divides with considered dialogue are worth watching.  Only 15 minutes:

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.

People Power: The Rambling Intro :-)

I’ve been pretty excited lately about some epiphanies I’ve been having about the world and where we can choose to head, with ideas on many levels and many fronts/aspects of life on earth.  As has increasingly been happening in recent years, the aha arrived from some other dimension and without words.

An influx of images and feelings that translate only partially into words and thoughts, which leaves me both excited and frustrated as I try to figure out how to explain it.  It’s clear that multiple posts will be required.

We, the 98%, Have the Power

The entire things boils down most simply to that thought but there’s so much more.  It’s an evolution of a thought I’ve played with for years, that we vote at least as much — probably more — with our dollars as with our trips to the voting booth.  And that there’s power in how we choose to spend.

I’ve been tossing thoughts off on other social media for a bit now about how puzzling it is that the 2% seem to have a delusion that the well-being or lack thereof of the 98% doesn’t affect them.  Simultaneously my long-time thoughts about power elites and their control of the military industrial complex have landed on really comprehending how we’ve let global corporations take control of the world and its governments.

But their wealth and prosperity are entirely dependent on us, the 98%, buying their goods and services.  If we withdrew our monetary support of their enterprises and instead created local trade, manufacturing, service and community efforts to provide goods and services while electing more reps into government who have been backed only by “people funding”, their power would collapse.  And yes, we have to face possible disruption and reprisals could go along with that.

My concerted effort at finding positive news has also shown me the widespread expansion of an idea I noted 25+ years ago via ads in places like Yoga Journal and New Age magazine.  At that time I could see a small and growing alternative economy thriving along side the normal corporate robber baron economy.  And now I see small personal and local efforts around the world taking charge of creating change without government or with only local government impetus.  Key to where I see us moving.

I see this possibility operating in so many ways, the series of posts will more specifically explore individual aspects.

It’s All Been Leading Here

The personal thread in these insights that excites me is I can now see the long eclectic journey from studying political and economic systems in college through multiple studies and jobs to the more recent spiritual journey and its insights, everything has added up to this.

I hope you’ll bear with me as, for me, I feel a need to write out as much of the eclectic path as I can recall:

  1. Attending college at the height of the anti-Viet Nam protests got me interested in “the power elite” and that, combined with calls for revolution in the air, led me to put together my own “major” outside my declared one.  I studied political philosophy and science, the history of power, comparative economic and political systems obsessively.
  2. In graduate school I intended to hone in my power elite study, but funding wound up sidetracking me into a big study called “Reaction to Crime” and my journey through a huge literature survey on crime statistics led to many insights and realizations that continue to unfold.  Bottom line:  probability of being a victim of most crimes has not changed in at least 100 years but manipulation of how it’s reported and how the statistics are presented has created a FALSE perception that crime is getting worse and it’s now deep in the consciousness of our culture.  Not the only arena in which we have a shared view that’s been manipulated into being.
  3. Law School.  None fun (as a cousin used to say in childhood), but provided so many tools for understanding and insight, not the least of which was an incredibly demanding Constitutional Law professor.
  4. Becoming a lawyer on nuclear power plant cases helped me to understand many ins and outs of how regulated systems work as well as nuances about the many problems of nuclear power.
  5. Doing that lawyering for a government agency in Illinois I came to understand a lot about how power in government operates behind the scenes.
  6. My foray into the world of meditation, yoga and metaphysics while still practicing law led to a complete turnaround for me, including seeing how harmful law practice was for my well-being.
  7. Shortly after leaving the law I went through Nine Gates Mystery School in 1990.  A life-changing experience, it led me to embrace my spiritual journey much more deeply.  I also wound up studying with several of the teachers from the school, one of whom in particular led me deep within my psyche and helped me let go of SO many old beliefs.
  8. A part-time gig doing some editing and proofreading for a little (and crooked as it turned out) publishing company landed a right wing Christian book in my pile that was eye opening as to the level of lying and making things up ingrained in that thinking.  Yup way before The Rump evangelical preachers were already training their flocks to buy any crap they made up.
  9. Another part time gig at Institute of Noetic Sciences brought so many resources into my life and introduced me to a number of teachers whose work continues to influence me.  I also learned what it’s like to work for a place that genuinely likes and appreciates its employees.
  10. After moving to KY I wound up in a part time job for the local Unity church. It was supposed to be a little clerical gig after the church lost its ministers to lack of funding.  As the only person around, I wound up doing bits of everything from filling in for the pianist to playing a leadership role I would never have conceived of myself doing.  I was surprised to watch myself step up to a visible role with a fair amount of ease after a lifetime of trying to be invisible.  A great affirmation of how much change I’d accomplished and a huge shift in self-conception without which I doubt I’d have the hubris to be writing this..
  11. I wound up creating a new exercise program to help with my muscle issues and, in trying to share it with others, discovered many people don’t want to do their own self care.
  12. As I worked on creating a more positive outlook I began looking for positive news, a venture that accelerated exponentially after the 2016 election.  It has wound up helping me to see the whole world differently.  People everywhere are stepping up and changing things for the better and there’s a reason the mainstream press doesn’t highlight these stories.
  13. I’ve been able to use all my background in historical, political and sociological studies as well as my law degree and experience in working for government to read along in current events much more closely than I’d done in years.  All helps to read between the lines and see a lot about what’s going on, including many issues and beliefs buried so deep in our culture that even many highly aware people don’t seem to see how they’re locked into it.
  14. The long spiritual journey and lots of release and letting go practices are helping me immensely to stand back and evaluate issues from a different perspective.  Meditation and mindfulness, etc. also help me to see how much change we really need and to contemplate the potential upheaval with calm.  And I see a major spiritual component in both what is happening now and in creating change.

I’m not claiming to have some high level of expertise as I’m clearly more of a dabbler.  But I have a mind that both finds the heart of the matter readily and synthesizes information from multiple sources with ease and those often combine to help me see answers no one else is seeing.

I don’t have all the answers for how we get to where I see us going but I have a sense of the basics we need to address if we truly want to change the world.

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.

Revisit tips for the holidays: people skills

For some years I posted some tips for coping with the holidays every year and then I drifted away from it. Thought I’d re-issue one with some links to others:

dont beat drum quote

Every year at this time I post about a teaching from Kahuna teacher Serge King that has had an enormous impact on my life.  Serge likes to keep it short and simple, so the basic principle is:  “People are who they are and they do what they do.

I believe that if everyone in the world learned this one and lived by it, peace would soon follow.  As with many of his seemingly simple teachings, if you started exploring this one you’ll find it has tremendous depth.

The greatest source of disappointment, frustration, and anger toward others arises from having your own agenda/expectations about who you want them to be and how you want them to act/what you want them to do..The deep reality is that people are who they are and they are going to do what they do based on who they are.  You can wish or will others to be somebody else as much you want.  You may even occasionally manipulate someone into doing something that’s not what they want.  But in the long run no one can be anyone other than who they are.

Your best defense, if you want to avoid being disappointed or upset by others, is to know them well enough to know who they are.  Know what they do.  Expect them to be who they are and do what they do.  You’ll never be surprised by anyone’s behavior if you really know them.

And then realize who they are and what they do isn’t about you.  Pretty much ever; even when someone attacks you, the attack has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with you.  So Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice, “Don’t take anything personally”, fits very well with this teaching.  People are busy being who they are and doing what they do and none of it has anything to do with you.  So don’t take it personally.

Is Aunt Murgatroyd going to tell unfunny jokes at the annual gathering, as always?  Of course she is.  It’s who she is and what she does.  Is your cousin Snagglepuss going to bore everyone AGAIN with stories of his really dull job?  You bet.  Who he is, what he does.  Is your overly protective dad going to criticize you like he always does?  If his way of showing care is to fret and pick apart anything that doesn’t fit his view, then yup.  Gonna do it.  If he’s an unhappy guy who criticizes to express his dissatisfaction with the world, that’s who he is…  gotta figure he’s gonna do it.

If you walk in with a chip on your shoulder because you know the irritating behavior(s) are going to arise but you’re secretly hoping it will be different, you’re going to get what you’re expecting:  unhappiness and dejection.  A lot of times we enter these situations knowing what they’ll do and expecting to be angry because of it.  And you’ll pretty much get what you’re expecting — ongoing cycles of them being who they are and you being angry.

If you expect anyone to do anything other than what s/he does, you’re doomed to disappointment.  When you can walk in knowing they’ll all be there being themselves and doing what they do, you’ll get what you knew you would.  Know that nothing they do is about hurting, irritating, upsetting or disappointing you.  They’re just being themselves.

When you can step aside from the behavior, know that it’s about them and not you, and stay centered, you can defuse most of the emotional turmoil that can make the holidays stressful.

The question we’ll explore in the next post is:  can you love them anyway?

Love Them Anyway

Communication

Recognizing Love When It is Offered

And the healing goes on

View from Windy Corner — Leigh Gaitskill All Rights Reserved 2018

Two weeks ago at my latest appointment with Hanna, she worked on my head again and returned the pleasing news that she felt nothing fighting back any more; the muscles are just gracefully opening back out.

Ever since, the core pattern has been yanking and opening at all hours; all at once an exciting, wearying and crazy-making process.  Every time some more pieces open and I feel both the relief and the realization that there’s still more, I realize anew that the complexity was more intricate and the problem much bigger than I comprehended.  An amazing process to follow.

As I follow along I often wonder how many people realize the degree to which their muscles can intertwine, twist into knots along every strand, glue themselves to one another, etc.  Or how much worse it gets the longer a tight area goes un-addressed.

So I’m planning a “Sage Advice” post just about muscles.  Due to severe lack of sleep the time line for that is questionable 🙂

Grateful for small steps

In my ongoing musings on thankfulness, lately I’ve been feeling extremely grateful for small but noticeable areas of progress in my long slow healing journey.  I’m back doing some regular tasks that most people would perform without a thought; and many would (or have) consider it shocking that some of this stuff went by the wayside.

But when the unwinding muscles and bursts of energy were keeping me from sleep 7-9 nights out of every 10 –on top of chronic fatigue and muscle issues– my ability to move pretty much disappeared.  Even simple household tasks were constantly procrastinated.

The main example that’s been having me grateful every morning is dishes.  With only two of us who don’t do a lot of cooking, the dishwasher doesn’t need to be run daily but there are items of daily use that need washing plus things not safe for dishwasher. It isn’t that much from one meal so I generally accumulate through the day so I can just run hot water once and do it all.

At the worst of the fatigue, I would be so weary and shaky in the evening that it wouldn’t get done.  Then in the morning I would get up not feeling much better than I did before sleeping and wander to a kitchen with the dirty dishes waiting– many of which had to be washed before I could fix breakfast.  Man is there something disheartening about facing dish washing first thing!

Somewhere in the last three years the sleep shifted a bit so now there are more nights when I get a decent amount of sleep and nights of only 2 or 3 hours are far less frequent.  When the shift occurred and I started trying to do stuff, I realized I lost incredible amounts of stamina during those do-nothing years.  So I’ve been slowly trying to work up more staying power.

Laundry gets done more often before the piles need to be divided into more piles.  More areas get picked up more regularly.  Errands get run in a timely fashion (and in the interim I now have to run all my 93-year-old mother’s errands as well).

Lately as I’ve wandered near the pristine and empty sink each day I’ve been realizing that I’ve been spry enough to do the evening dishes daily for so long I actually can’t tell you when the last time was I had to wash dishes before breakfast!

The house needs much more work — hours and hours of clearing and sorting.  I need to build more physical energy as I’m still startled by how little activity can leave me feeling drained.  But right now I’m just grateful for the small steps of doing more that have become normal.

My concentration for so long has been only on accomplishing the healing, it hadn’t occurred to me that there’d be such a long transition to accomplish from being too ill to do anything back to being a person who gets stuff done.  But it’s in process and that feels so good!