Gratitude, blessings and change afoot

of light and shadow

of light and shadow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m seeing reason for hope in the turmoil since the U.S. election.  And I’m seeing many ways in which it is facilitating healing in my life.

I started a chanting practice within a day or two after the election to replace the fear with love and compassion.  Although I’ve loved and used the lovingkindness chant for something like 20 years, I generally just say it to myself a few times a day and occasionally do a week of practice when something comes up that warrants it.

Three months in now, I’m finding a daily dose of metta combined with the heart-opening Gayatra Mantra and Om Shanti Shanti chants is pushing buttons, shifting energy, bringing things to the surface and leading me into some healing work I don’t know that I’d have done without the impetus of current events.

And I started being led to teachings and materials that address issues about self love I have not resolved.  I’ve been amused to note as well, many of the materials bring me back to the New Age type teachings with which I began this journey 30+ years ago.

First I signed up for a Vow to Love, a series of meditations on bringing love into self and the world by fellow blogger Karen Chrappa and have been very slowly working my way through them.  Then I got a head’s up about a new Louise Hay book, Life Loves You.

life-loves-you

After failing to get a free version to show up I found the e-book for $1.99 and started reading and doing the mirror work.  I’ve known a bit about her mirror work for 30 years but hadn’t ever done any.  Mirror work has been tapping me on the shoulder for about a year now and this felt like the moment to dive in.

abundance-factor

I also found a link to “The Abundance Factor” movie which, for a couple more days is free to watch here (not embedding as I assume it will disappear when the free bit is up), which I found to be a much better version of the Secret.  I particularly like that it very carefully and repeatedly acknowledges abundance as more than just material things.

A few other messages here and there have chimed in.  Together these little journeys have pointed up the unresolved issues about self-love and self-worth still dwelling in me.  It’s not that I haven’t worked on self love issues or improved over the years but I can see now there’s a core place of shame and fear I’ve never touched in spite of massive digging around in my psyche and multiple insights, practices and breakthroughs.

There are a lot of posts and essays floating around discussing the “shadow” represented by the Republican Administration.  I agree this rise of conservative and sometimes nasty values represents shadow stuff that needs to be cleared,  but I also feel liberals and progressives have a lot of uncleared shadow stuff that’s just as much represented in this rise of hatefulness as any shadows within the government.  And that includes me.

Liberals have long had a tendency to see the world in terms of battles and struggles and regularly use words of violence to describe their activities.  I first started being disturbed by the dark underbelly of activism in the 80’s.  I did a lot of work with public interest groups and noted with growing unease how readily my colleagues stepped up for faceless people in far away places and yet how snotty they could be with people in the same room.

An example that has always stuck with me was a boyfriend who worked zealously on abolishing the death penalty with absolute conviction that it is never right to kill someone.  When a CIA operative was killed in the Middle East, this same crusader against death grinned with delight and announced the guy deserved it.  “How,” I asked, “do you reconcile a belief it’s not okay to kill anyone with a belief that it was a good thing to kill that guy?”  He was LIVID.  We didn’t date too long after that 🙂

I find that sort of hypocrisy — the sort liberals like to point out in conservatives — disturbing.  I found the anger behind much of what they did troubling.  As I moved more and more onto a spiritual path I participated less and less in activism but grew more and more to believe the world needs peaceful activism, an activism conceived and carried out by loving hearts.

The only heart I can truly influence is mine.  So I’m grateful these uneasy times have led me to practices and explorations that are revealing shadow material and allowing me to acknowledge and release it.  The more of us who clear these shadows, the more the world will move toward peace.  My number one commitment is to release any remaining shadows in me.  I want to Be Peace not just talk about it.

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Check out my guest post on Me My Magnificent Self

Barbara Franken has asked for guest posts about compassion on her blog, Me My Magnificent Self, and today my post is featured.  I’m so pleased — hope you check it out.  And look at the bottom of the post for info on how to participate with your own post on compassion:

The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill… Author, Blogger and Peace wayshower who teaches us how essential it is to move in peace. Welcome dear Leigh to my NEW Guest Blogger/Author Feature, it is truly my pleasure to shine light on YOU now. IAM honoured to have you amongst my Divine friends here on WordPress, to read your…

via Guest Blogger/Author Feature… The Magnificent Leigh Gaitskill — Me, My Magnificent Self

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Part 3 Peace Begins with You: Mental Body

What the Bleep Do We Know!?

What the Bleep Do We Know!? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mental attitude has a huge impact on your life and what you draw into your life.  If you want to be an emissary of peace your thoughts need to be peaceful.  Most of us have a lot of negative tapes playing in our heads, beliefs and ideas planted in early childhood and running on endless loops in the background.  This piece of the series explores some of the things you can do to “change your mind”.

It is tough to break this down into separate parts because all our “parts” are so integrated, but I do think there are practices for each aspect of being and it helps to work on all levels.  Still, it’s been a struggle to separate this piece.

The mental body winds up ruled much of the time by unconscious issues and beliefs held in the emotional body, for instance, so it helps to dig into what lies beneath.  But that’s for the emotional body piece…

When I began this journey affirmations, visualizations and general positive thinking were front and center in the New Age movement and many of us thought we’d spout affirmations for a few months and our lives would be forever changed.  The choice to move in that direction probably did change our lives but we found it takes more and longer for most people.

While I’ve always had some degree of success with visualizing and/or affirming something and creating that reality, this has really been one of the toughest aspects of the journey for me — the “simple” act of changing my mind.  Oh, I thought I’d done it.  Become Miss Positivity.  I was 20 years down the road before I really “got” how many negative tapes looped through my head all day every day.

If you spend 10 or 20 minutes a day purposefully repeating some positive affirmations/statements and then the other 23 hours and 40 minutes running negative tapes, guess which wins?  When negative issues and beliefs are running the show from the unconscious, I think affirmations are kind of like dripping water onto a mountain and waiting for erosion to take it down…

By the time I realized how negative my thinking really was, I’d done a LOT of emotional release work.  Once I began concentrating on positive thinking I could see how much more impact it had than before all that clearing.

Some of the things I’ve used:

  1. I set up a “mindful” watcher to pay attention and alert me to negative tapes and their patterns.  When I realize a given tape is running a lot, I write a positive turnaround/affirmation and every time I catch the negative thought, I instantly repeat the turnaround multiple times.
  2. I created a long playlist of Dick Sutphen’s affirmations on Spotify and generally if I’m on the computer, it’s playing very softly in the background; soft enough to be almost subliminal rather than heard.  Sometimes 8, 10, 12 hours a day, affirmations about just about every subject you can imagine, speaking positive thoughts to my subconscious.
  3. Over the years I’ve put together a small collection of movies like Louise Hay’s Heal Your Life, What the Bleep, and The Secret and I try to watch one or another of those fairly often.
  4. YouTube has some good affirmations videos and I have a collection of affirmations recordings, so I often go to sleep with affirmations playing on my tablet.
  5. I love the Lovingkindness Chant and I say it as an affirmation.  I generally chant it for 10 minutes a day but I also just repeat it to myself off and on and I often go to sleep and/or wake up and say it to myself.   To me the chant covers every major area of life and in a way that invites the Universe to fulfill it in whatever way is best — that for me is the perfect affirmation:  I am filled with lovingkindness, I am well, I am peaceful and at ease, I am happy.  If you chant it enough to make all those things true for you, what more could you want?
  6. I re-read some of my old favorite books on metaphysics like Jack Kornfield’s Path with Heart or Shakti Gawain’s Living in the Light or I find a new one to love like Elizabeth Lesser’s Marrow.  Books that support my ever-more-positive world view.
  7. I hang around as much as I can with people who believe in positive thinking, to attend events that involve ceremony or chanting or a talk on “New Age/New Thought” ideas, and to stay away from negative thinking.   I’ve unfriended a person or two from Facebook and hidden others from my wall.
  8. I have a regular practice of singing Sanskrit chants.  These chants are basically affirmations and I like singing them in a language I don’t know.  I think our souls know all the ancient languages and singing in an unfamiliar language helps you to take in the message on other levels and to bypass your brain and its tendency to question and criticize.  The ancients designed them well to align chakras, open heart, impact the nadis (energy channels), etc. so they heal on many levels.

If anything inside you is clinging to some other belief, repeating affirmations may bring it to the surface.  I’ve been chanting regularly ever since the election and I’m both feeling positive effects and changes and suffering frequent bouts of major crabbiness — which tells me I’m bringing some anger issues to the surface.

I still have some negative thinking to work on, but by and large several years of concerted effort have shifted a lot of old negative patterns into positive patterns — and it’s clearly favorably impacting my health issues.

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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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The view from both sides of some practices

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

 

As I mentioned in the last post, my practices have been a little hit and miss lately as I wade through another round of unwinding and not sleeping.  The on and off of it is giving me a chance to observe the doing and not doing and the way I feel about both.

Some years ago I realized I often sabotaged my progress by not doing my practices.  I’d start one up or get back to an old friend and do it faithfully for a few days or a week or two and then I’d start “forgetting” (helped along by often feeling too crappy to do anything).  More and more days would pass between practices until I’d finally realize I couldn’t remember the last time I meditated or performed a round of chi gung.

Once it sank in I asked myself some deep questions about why I sabotaged myself.  Then I set up a “watcher” to help me keep track of consistency and give me a nudge so I could put myself back on track.  Ever since I’ve been much better.  Not that I don’t miss days and even occasionally several in a row, but I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping track and at pushing myself to get back to it if I’ve let it go

It’s rare now for an entire week to go by without at least one session of whatever practice or set of practices I’m doing and most weeks I manage at least three or four days.  The great weeks I get in six (I always allow for a day off as I feel even the good stuff needs a break).  But I still have spells when it’s less rather than more.

There’s a kind of push pull at work here.  At the moment it’s the chanting and some movement practices that feel so good they constantly pull me back on track.  But both things raise energy, open stuck places, and thereby set the stage for more unwinding.  Any time I practice 6-7 days a week during a week or two when I’m sleeping well and feeling good, the practices inevitably help to set off another round of unwinding.

While I want the unwinding to finish so you’d think I’d welcome each round, I’m pretty miserable when it goes crazy, especially from the lack of sleep it creates.  I’m regularly confronting the up and the down side of regular practice.  It works.  And in this case that’s both great and not so great…  I haven’t quite decided how many skips at this point arise from an unconscious dread of the down side…

A deep spiritual journey often has these up and down moments.  Sometimes the same practice contains elements of both the up and the down.  Sometimes a practice leads you into painful places or opens something that hurts for a while before it gets better.  I harp on this one a bit, but I run into so many people who don’t know this spiritual road curves into shadows and down into valleys of dark nights as well as giving you peace and balance and higher consciousness, an occasional reminder seems good 🙂

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Levels of opening

Three monks chanting in Lhasa, 1993

Three monks chanting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been over a month now that I’ve been regularly chanting.  First time in quite a while I’ve had a regular chanting or meditation practice.  I’ve done a bunch of those 21 day meditations in recent years and I’ve done a couple of 40 day practices, but it’s been years since such a practice has stuck.

A lot has changed in my body since the days when meditation was a daily practice.  In fact, some of the change is due to the movement practices I’ve done to balance energy and open flow instead of meditating.

One of the blessings of the long-term sorting out of my muscles and their steely impersonation of body armor has been that as they open, I experience many things about practices differently and learn nuances I’m not sure I’d have noted without the change.

Since my appointment with Hanna, the muscles have been unwinding and the usual sleep deprivation and headaches have ensued, which has led to missing days of chanting here and there and occasionally two in a row.  I’ve changed the chants since I first started, beginning each time with the lovingkindness chant and then singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.

The Gayatri, among other important impacts, opens the heart.  Om Shanti Om is chanted for peace and I find it opens my heart.  The lovingkindness chant also brings me into a big heart space.  Chanting these every day helped immeasurably to calm my distress in the wake of the election.  At first, if I missed a day I went right back to feeling panicky, then as soon as I chanted again, calm returned.

After a couple of weeks the peace settled in and I could miss a day without any big change.  When sleep deprivation, headaches and missing days of chanting hit all at once, I noted that I could hold the peace through one missed day but a second tipped me back into unease and anxiety.  I’ve also been learning anxiety is often a side effect of sleep deprivation for me, not as intense as the “oh no that thing can’t be president” panic, but noticeable.  And it too is soothed away by chanting.

While I chant I feel so much more energy moving through me than I’ve ever felt from the same practices before.  Channels and pathways opened as the muscles released and in so many areas I can now feel energy flowing through.  I feel the power of the chanting more than ever.  I feel it changing me.

Between the chanting and the releases Hanna helped to achieve it’s been a time of realizations and movement forward.  After a long time of receiving “wait” messages, I’ve heard the time to wait is ending.

In the meantime I love the slow awakening of feeling and the subtle ways in which my practices change as I grow.  I’m ever more aware of how much tight muscles stop the flow and reduce how much I feel when I do yoga or meditate or chant or …  All the hard work…  so worth it!

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Creating Reality in the World 3: Doing

Once you’ve changed your focus and re-framed your thinking, you can make an action plan.  I have a broader definition of “doing” than the usual, so my suggestions include things like holding a vision and praying.

Some people are better at being visionaries and some are better at being doers.  I see it as a scale from one to the other with people landing at many different points between, some having equal measures of both talents and others leaning more solidly in one direction or the other.  I think we need all of them.

I also think some people have a talent for holding an energy space and/or keeping focused on a vision and others are better at carrying out the nuts and bolts of the vision and I see that as a sliding scale too.  And again, we need both sides of the scale and everybody in between.

Praying is Doing

I have a lot of “doing” friends who exclaim dismissively when I talk about chanting or praying or holding a vision that “we need to actually DO something”.  I’ve argued a few times that I think praying, chanting, etc. IS something.

Everything is energy.  Each of us is energy.  Thoughts have energy.  The state of the world rests on the totality of energy.  What each of us puts into the web makes a difference.  When someone is able to hold an energy vibration of love and/or hold a positive set of beliefs and thoughts and visions for a positive outcome, that person is feeding the web with the energy of that possible direction.

“Doing” from the vision side in the current political situation might include:

  • hold a vision of Hilary Clinton winning the electoral college vote or see her as President
  • chant or pray for compassion and lovingkindness so you’re holding that space
  • choose states with potential for the electors voting for Clinton instead of Trump and send prayers or energy or hold the vision of the voting switch

The more people are feeding the positive vision, the more energy is being sent to the vision.  I’ll talk more in the next post about the impact of collective consciousness.

Action as Doing

There are also things that need to be done in an active sense, so once you’ve directed energy to the outcome you hope to achieve and framed a positive view, you can create a plan that maintains the  new view.

While some are holding the energy, those who like to make a plan and get out there, some possible steps would be:

  • find out which states have enough electoral votes to matter and of those which are the likeliest to vote for the popular winner instead of the electoral college winner
  • it is legal in every state for the electors to vote for the candidate with fewer electoral college points but in some states they have to pay a fine.  Find out if you’re in one of those states and start a fundraiser to help pay the fines and let the electors know the funds are there.  A list of this year’s electors state by state is here.
  • the folks who are suing for a recount in Florida need financial help.  Start a fundraiser.
  • Research Ms. Clinton and post positive statements in social media about her many accomplishments.  Tell what she’s done for children.  Tell how’s she shone as a diplomat.  Name legislation she raised.  Tell the story she wasn’t so good at telling.  Send the energy to her by bringing positive attention.
  • Start researching potential candidates for the mid term elections who show promise as good legislators and who have a good chance to beat the Republican.
  • Put together a call list of relevant people in government, from your congressmen to officials of the electoral college to the DOJ, gather a group to make calls and share the list on social media.

Mixing the Two

Most people are going to be somewhere on the spectrum in between and will be comfortable doing a combination.  I always recommend meditating or chanting or going inward in some way before making action plans and before taking action.   The more you can keep your vibration raised and hold a compassionate space, the more your thoughts and actions will be peaceful and positive.

Your plan might include:

  • Say the lovingkindness chant every day for 10-30 minutes
  • Plan a ceremony wherein people will pray for and hold a focus on the outcome you are jointly seeking
  • Hold a march FOR a vote recount
  • Start a group to regularly sit in heart space and pray or chant (I’m going to post a breathing exercise soon that moves people into a powerful heart energy).  For those of you in other countries who are concerned, this is a great way to support the effort.
  • Start and circulate a petition to the electors in your state, asking them to vote for the popular vote winner
  • Think ahead to the midterm elections and create a vision and plan for a changeover in the political landscape

Whether you’re one who holds a strong energy space and vision or one who rolls up sleeves and starts taking action out in the world or somewhere in between, there are always steps you can take to “do something”.

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