See No Stranger: an inspiring read

The law was designed to colonize and control the rest of us, not set us free. And yet the founders had invoked words whose power even they could not constrain–justice, freedom, equality, the guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These were magical words that had a power of their own and seized the imagination of the people for whom they were never meant. In every generation, people had risen up in movements to unleash the magic of these words, to bleed for these words and expand the “we” in “we the people” to include more and more of us. Constitutional Law was an archive of these expansions and contractions.

Kaur, Valerie, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World, 2020), p. 177

I’ve been reading Valerie Kaur’s excellent book, See No Stranger and not only enjoying the book but fascinated by the inner roads its content leads me down. The book is a combo of autobiography and a history of the Revolutionary Love movement she founded.

Ms. Kaur is a Sikh whose family came to the U.S. several generations ago and her commitment to change/transformation began in the wake of 2001 and the backlash of hatred in which many Sikhs suffered violence and death. There were some respects in which her path and mine were similar, politically speaking. I was inspired by the Viet Nam war and the things I learned in college about the many ways our country did not live up to its hype as a welcoming place of freedom.

We both continued to follow those convictions, learning more via things we studied in college, graduate school and then law school. The big difference was that, from the beginning, she “got” how to make every right move from joining with like-minded people, to taking internships and positions that connected her to a more powerful network, to figuring out how to inspire change in a whole community. I never knew how to be that smart about the moves I made; instead I kind of blundered along, studying, volunteering, trying to find jobs that let me help, etc.

One big difference was I homed in, in college, on the “power elite’ aspect of our problem. I quickly understood how deeply the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the rich and powerful impacts our government and our lives. I studied it from many angles and throughout my anti-war/hippie crowd of friends I talked about it till they told me I was boring. But no one wanted to hear this.

So it’s a little bit hard to launch a movement if you can’t convince anyone there’s even a problem to address. Of course we are now seeing in our country how deeply the rich and corporate factions have affected our lives and that the right wing group is trying to destroy democracy in favor of the rich basically doing whatever they want while everyone struggles, starves, suffers, etc.

But I will admit, I grew up just thinking you got an education and got a job and things fell into place, so I was clueless about seeking out networks, taking positions that would seat me next to power, etc. I can see how many times and ways I failed to make moves that might have put me in a better position to be an influencer.

My dad spent many years at Buick as a second in command in a department which he pretty much ran while a variety of others kept getting promoted over him and then on to higher positions without ever having really done anything in his department. It was years before I realized it boiled down to those other men knowing how to play the political game and my dad hanging out believing that if you worked hard and did the right thing you’d be rewarded. That’s just how I grew up.

What I did do always was to find where I could volunteer to help with environmental issues or get a job where those issues were addressed, attended rallies and marches for many causes and wrote lots of letters to senators and reps. Just a quiet dedication to trying to do something, however small. And I know the world needs the foot soldiers who just do those little things.

But I always kinda wanted to be more like Valarie, moving into a position to influence and really impact change. Very inspiring to read her book. And I love her Revolutionary Love movement!

Unwinding update

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on the unwinding muscles in my face and head. The process has been relentless for most of the last year, without regard to how many other things claimed time and attention (like my mother’s hospital and nursing home stays, etc.). And it’s been down at the core for so long I’ve regularly thought I’d be able to start posting the “Unwound” series I’ve long been planning.

But it’s still going. And it’s been more debilitatingly constant since my mother’s death than ever. It’s become so rare to sleep for an entire night, I can’t actually tell you the last time I did. The awe-inspiring part is feeling these granite-like ropes of muscle open and how blood and prana begin to flow in places where nothing has gone through for decades. Or looking across at a bookshelf or objects on the counter and realizing I’m seeing them more clearly at the distance I’m standing than ever.

The more the energy opens up, the more I’m connecting with the “inner voice” that I’ve blocked so long. The opening is also restoring a lot of energy flow. I’ve noted before how very much energy it takes both to hold onto those tight knots and twists and for blood, oxygen, prana, etc. to fight to find pathways through your body. So the more open I become the better I feel — especially helpful since I’m not getting nearly enough sleep.

Not surprising, all this shifting in my physical body, which has always related to both personal and ancestral issues, is creating some shifts in my life. And it feels like a big one is looming. Not just the fact that I’m moving to another state, something else feels large and near.

Such mixed feelings keep flowing through about leaving this town that’s not only been home longer than any other place I’ve lived, but has such deep ancestral roots for me. For a while I got strong messages indicating it’s time to let go and it may be better to live some place where I don’t have so many nostalgic childhood associations. Then a friend who has amazing abilities to tune in psychically said I’m corded here and I just need to let go of the cord. As soon as we hung up I threw up, accompanied by a strong sensation of letting go.

One of the teachings in the Fisher-Hoffman process I went through long ago is that the final piece of letting go of Mother is literally “throwing up mother”. I also felt strongly a letting go re: mom in that moment and that the cord my friend saw included her.

In the meantime I’m down to about 3 weeks before I’m aiming to move and I’m caught in the house with a ton of Mom’s stuff still here, estate sale places telling me nothing has enough value for them to do a sale, working madly to sort, dump, shred decades of paperwork she left behind, extract the belongings I want to take with me and get them packed, figure out handling the reverse mortgage people, choosing between U-Haul and moving company… and doing it all on way too little sleep accompanied by lots of buzzy, weird feelings and nausea and headaches all due to the wild unwinding muscles.

Fun times. Not…

The upside is through all of it I feel all of this transition from the loss of my mother to the loss of my home to starting over in a new place to finally reaching the end of an unbelievably long healing journey with my muscles is leading to the massively transformed life I’ve worked, shifted, transitioned toward for 37 years.

What does “my own schedule” look like?

Since Mom’s death, several people have asked me about my new “freedom” of schedule now that I don’t have all the caretaking duties. From my perspective I just traded one set of time-dictating “musts” for another. And it has me contemplating how we all so often set up our days by the “musts”.

Losing my mother set off an emotional roller coaster of its own and on top of losing her, because of a lot of not very smart decisions she made years ago, instead of inheriting the house in which I’ve lived for 24 years and a sizeable trust fund, materially I’ve inherited nothing from her but a giant hoarder’s mess to clean up and the need to move with great speed to pack up and move to the condo in Florida my dad’s more careful ways left me.

Some of the time I’m pretty angry and put upon. Until I remember the privilege that means I have a condo to move into and enough money to scrape by for a while.

The last months of her life, taken up with hospitals, nursing homes, diapers, wheelchair, etc. were exhausting and the second she died I had to begin the even more tiring task of clearing out her unbelievable piles of crap and trying to separate out and pack up my own stuff for the move. So no, at the moment I don’t feel free.

And Salty apparently decided to help me see it. He’s very old and frail and really upset by all that’s changing around him, from the absence of Mom to furniture and items disappearing and moving around, etc. He climbed on my lap a while ago for a snooze. I had a packing schedule in mind and the snooze was interfering.

I sat for a couple of minutes, tense and worrying about being late already at starting. He gently snoozed, his head tucked under my chin. I tuned in and noted the tenseness and chose to relax into the lovely moment with my fur baby. I’m not sure he’s going to live through all this and I’d rather drink in his sweetness while I can than be sorry later that I was too busy packing to enjoy him.

I’ve also been thinking about how nice it will be once I get to FL and at least largely unpacked. No caretaking. No clearing and sorting after I finish getting the dad/stepmom stuff I don’t want out of the condo and my stuff put in place. Ah, but then I remembered, in order to survive, I have to re-start yoga teaching, figure out doing classes on line, etc. Or get a job. How long can I float and relax, schedule-free, before I must get moving again?

Which then started me thinking about how many days when I have nothing on the schedule like an appointment or a lunch, etc. I still feel I “must” go to the grocery, do a load of laundry, make a new batch of granola or cashew creamer. How free is my schedule ever? And don’t most of us have these daily “musts”? Actual days of floating along, doing nothing are pretty hard to come by unless you have the money to pay someone else to fix your meals, including getting the provisions, or to take spa vacations.

Now I’m contemplating how little activity still leaves me feeling my day is “free” and mine. Much relies on perception and how I choose to feel about what I need to do. My mother resented pretty much all domestic tasks (she grew up in a household with a housekeeper and a cook) and I realized years ago that I internalized that dislike.

I have to actively shift my emotions just to get to neutral. Thanks to how much I love the smell of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and love a clean floor, I’ve come to enjoy mopping and ignore the twinging back that results, which leads me to believe I can manage to shift the “ugh” feeling about other chores 🙂

I figure the whole schedule thing is mostly a question of staying in tune with how I feel about all the aspects of my day and choosing the feeling tone that leaves me also feeling free. But I’m not sure I’m gonna get there about clearing 30 years of clutter or packing for a move…

Between grief and relief

A number of years ago, when both my parents were into their 80s, a friend asked how I was going to cope when they both died. I thought a second and said, “I think I’ll take the first free breath of my life”. Now I’m there, my dad having died 2 years ago and my mother last month.

Right now, of course, the loss of my mother is fresh and in this case we’d been living in the same house for almost 24 years so I’m also feeling a general loss of companionship. I’m still at the phase of bursting into tears multiple times a day and wishing she could still be here.

But I also feel that sense of relief. The immediate relief is at being set free from the caretaker duties. I was glad to be able to keep my mom well cared for, but it was a lot, especially since my own health issues didn’t disappear just because she needed me. But concerning both parents the story had bigger dimensions.

They each survived a fairly awful childhood and both were clearly emotionally damaged. Besides being physically and emotionally abusive, they also had very vulnerable child-like aspects and I knew from an early age that they both relied on me–their only child–somehow to make up for their troubles, to keep them from breaking, etc.

After having met both my parents and spent some time, one of my friends told me that if I ever operated with a feeling of being watched all the time (I did) I came by it naturally as they were each intensely focused on me and my every move. I felt that pressure most of my life.

So, while I’m also sad to have lost them and sad that their lives held so much unhappiness, I also feel great relief peeking through the grief. I can take a free breath now. Sometimes I feel guilty for that relief. More of the time I feel like it’s only fair to get to live a portion of my life without their needs and expectations hovering over my shoulder.

I’m also really glad I went through the Fisher-Hoffman process long ago and continued to use the process to explore inner feelings, the past, etc. I released huge amounts of anger toward them long ago. With mom that remained a work in progress till we were finally able to just say “I love you” near the end and sit holding hands. With my dad I had actually managed to transform from the place of underlying anger constantly seething, to feeling much more balanced in my dealings with him, even tender as he grew more fragile.

I feel that work with the F-H process is helping me a lot to work through these shifting emotions and also studies with the same facilitator which she called “Emotional Mastery”. Both helped me to just allow emotions to move in, to feel the feelings, to know that I can choose to move to another, etc. Our society doesn’t do enough (anything?) to help people feel their feelings and learn to navigate them.

At a time like this, not only am I grateful for the calm and equanimity 36 years of yoga and meditation have brought me, but so grateful for all I’ve learned about feelings and emotions. Even twenty years ago I’d have fallen apart (and driven my friends crazy with my anxiety) at all I’ve had to cope with in the last 2+ years. I feel like I’m making my way pretty well through volatile emotions while still being able to get done what must be done so much better than I ever could have in the past.

My shifting world

An estate sale place came yesterday and took most of the stuff in the living/dining room area. A number of family pieces were in the mix and lots of Mom’s finer decorating choices. She was very proud of having nice things. Now I walk through those rooms and hear the echoes.

While there are some chairs and a couch and a LOT of little stuff still in there, it’s largely empty and they took almost all of the artwork, which I think is particularly creating the echo. The emptiness and the echoes make this huge transition so real. It has somehow made my mother’s death hit home more deeply.

Getting those two rooms prepped, given her hoarding habits, was a huge job but the whole rest of the house faces me and I feel overwhelmed. The main task now that I have some clear space is to extract my stuff and get it gathered in one area for the movers to make their estimates and haul it to Florida.
But the crap load of stuff filling all the rest of the space is still there and at this point I have almost too many options for how to deal. My favorite much of the time is just walk away and leave it all. But I have the name of a yard sale “picker” who would come offer a flat fee and haul all or most away. Also tempting but requires more prep from me.

We’ll see. Right now I’m really tired. Since Mom broke her leg in February I feel like I’ve been on a hamster wheel and on top of all the jobs that created for me, my unwinding head muscles have been REALLY in overdrive, so I also don’t get nearly enough sleep. And hanging around here in the house I’ve shared with her for 24 years (and visited her for 12 years before that) I miss all our interactions.

I keep telling people, the crazy one is TV. Since neither of us have felt great much of the time, we both watch a lot of TV and especially in the last few years, as the technology escaped her, we’ve watched together. So it’s weird to watch AGT alone after something like 15 seasons of watching with her. Or to finish the last episodes of the new Bosch spin-off she’d been so excited about. Every day it seems I watch something we would have watched together and wish for one more time we could talk about the characters, the scenery…

Add in the blows SCOTUS is delivering every day and I feel like I’m spinning in a world of madness while trying to cope with my personal grief.

After the big push to clear the two front rooms so I have space to get my belongings piled together, I’m taking a couple of days to kick back a little before tackling the monumental task of getting this place emptied. I’ve lived here the longest of any home I’ve ever had. Hard to imagine how short a time I still have.

A Week of Chanting

The first week of January turned into a week of chanting and chanting for me, not entirely by design, but a delightful accumulation of events. I signed up for “Ecstatic Chant” a six-day workshop featuring Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, not having noted that Deva and Miten were also doing the second annual New Year’s week daily 108 round Gayatri and not assuming Krishna Das would also do his regular Thursday satsang. But all were happening and I really worked at keeping up.

Managed to do every day of the 108 round Gayatri, which I find incredibly powerful. This time it also became more of an exercise in mindfulness than usual, which I’ll discuss more below. Also got to tune in for the satsang. The workshop I fit in around the other things (plus, you know, I have a life) as best I could — still have some to watch so very grateful they’re giving us a month to see the videos.

I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe how it felt by the end of the week to spend that many hours a day chanting and/or listening to chant. Extraordinary. Uplifting. Pulsating. All are true and yet don’t quite say how amazing it was. Really loved it!

The first day of the Gayatri there were either transmission problems or my YouTube was acting up — they often have trouble with signals in Costa Rica and YouTube has been screwing up for me a LOT — but the Gayatri was stopping and starting, stopping and starting. I was using my mala beads but I kept singing on into dead spaces and then picking up again with them when the stream re-started. Soon I was struggling to decide where I was on the beads and realizing the struggle was moving me out of connection with the mantra.

Thus the chant became a challenge for staying mindful. Only at the end did I laugh as I realized I could have just put the beads down… Meanwhile I considered the challenge well met when I wound up in the right place with the beads while keeping attention on the mantra. Afterwards I realized the starting and stopping and beads distraction had kept me from feeling thrown by the super fast guitar playing that goes on in sections of the 108 round version.

The next day the transmission was fine and when the –to-me– frantic guitar playing started my heart started pounding and my stomach tightened up as usual. Then I remember how the distractions the day before had kept me from reacting and concentrated on the lyrics to move me into the chant and out of noticing. Good reminder that I can mindfully make choices about how to react and what to notice, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop sessions viewed so far and Krishna Das’ Thursday evening satsangs are always good. I will say as far as the workshop, not much was done kirtan style and many chants were new to me so while I loved every minute, listening was not as spiritually expansive for me as it is to chant the Gayatri with the Global Gayatri Sangha — often thousands of us at a time from around the world.

The overall experience of spending hours and hours in one week chanting was divine. In a future post I’ll talk about how my slow, tentative launch onto a path of chanting is contributing to the “sparkles” I discussed in the last post.

All the Sparkle

Increasingly over the last couple of years I’ve noticed the world looking more sparkly. Literally looking around and seeing things shining, sparkling everywhere.

It started from the very practical purchase of a new dishwasher. a couple of years ago. It took some months but eventually it managed to clear off all the collected lime on glasses and silverware and I started noticing how shiny they looked. But it’s kept going from there.

The last couple of years have seen a lot of movement for me on emotional and health issues, including some big shifts in outlook. A really psychic friend of mine commented recently when I talked about all that’s been opening up in the muscles in my face and how it has been changing my world that she pictured me literally getting rid of anchors all around me that had been holding me stuck in place for years. Perfect fit for how it’s been feeling and my long-time sense the tight muscles have been instrumental in “stuckness”.

This sense of being more free on many levels and finally moving forward is so powerful. And I feel like a good deal of the sparkle I see around flows from that.

A huge amount of the tightness in my facial muscles has been centered around keeping my optic nerve squeezed tight, which causes near-sightedness according to my late, amazing vision therapist, Dr. Sirota. As the muscles finally loosen, I periodically notice increments of seeing more clearly; the clear field moving outward an inch or two at a time. The opening lately leaves me feeling that the changing vision also contributes to seeing all those sparkles.

Wherever it comes from, I must say, I LOVE looking around the world and seeing sparkles!!!

Growing with Our Founding Documents

So much controversy lately has me thinking deeply about the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  Many are dismissing both as products of slaveowners; because the writers were flawed, the documents are no longer valued goes the thinking.  With a lifelong tendency to see both sides — a product of constantly being in the middle wihtin my family’s arguments — I see a path down the middle.

I’m a person of words, so for me, even over the years since I realized our Founders were far more seriously flawed than our history books led us to believe, the brilliance of the words they crafted still shine.  Largely helped by my long-ago Constitutional Law class in law school, I see a Constitution that has been able to grow and evolve over time.

When you read through the landmark cases of generations you see how the carefully honed document left room to interpret broader truths and equities than the men who wrote it lived within.  They were bright enough and good enough at writing, I don’t think it was an accident that, even though they created restrictions about gender and color, many of the actual words of both the Declaration and the Constitution leave room to dream of literal equality for all, though they may not have foreseen where it led.

The stepping stones from one SCOTUS decision to another also reflect both how we have grown as people in our understanding of what “equality” really means and how the interpretation of the Constitution has grown too.  In those broad words about equality Blacks have found the inspiration to press for them to be true for everyone and that history is one every child should be learning in school.

As I reflect on Independence Day, I see room to reject the flaws of the Founders and still celebrate the brilliance of what they created and how they left a foundation with room to evolve.  At this moment we are in a new stage of evolution in making the notions of justice and equality for all, without exception, true.  Sometimes evolution in law drags us forward, sometimes thinkers who are ahead of the time push the law to change. Together we grow.  

Teetering: “Righteous Anger” and Compassion

As mentioned off and on for a while, I’m struggling with anger over so man things that are going on. Periodically I realize I’m back screaming at certain “leaders” every time their faces appear, grinding my teeth as I scan social media and follow links to read more, and, a couple of weeks ago when a station I was watching moved from old shows to airing some kind of evangelical church service, I found myself angrily making up words to the hymn they started with and singing: “My Jesus hates you, and we kill, kill, kill…”

Being self-aware enough to see this is DEFINITELY in conflict with my beliefs about holding a space of love, peace and compassion, I keep circling back to questioning the source of the anger and how to shift it. And one puzzle I constantly come back to, is how to be “righteously” angry and yet hold that space.

Many spiritual leaders and writers feel there is such a thing as righteous anger and that, when great wrongs are being committed, we must all feel that anger and do something toward righting the wrong. None seem to address how such anger impacts the energy of the web nor do they seem to offer much advice about how to feel that angry and still find the love and compassion with which to “do something” but do it with nonviolence.

I have long been unconvinced that “righteous” anger is any different, energetically speaking, than any other. It worries me when I react with anger because I can feel how it takes hold and shoves the loving, peaceful aspect of me out of function. And since I believe the energy space each of us holds adds up to the totality of energy that is All That Is, every time one of us is angry instead of loving, our energetic contribution to the web is the energy of anger.

Most of the spiritual leaders who say it’s fine to be outraged over injustice, etc. but to be nonviolent in what you do about it, seem remarkably silent on the question of how to move from the angry place of the one to the compassionate place of the other. I’d guess the majority of people aren’t well equipped to transition on a dime from place to the other.

I see 3 main arenas we as individuals can work on to help us in recognizing the wrongs that need to be righted but stay compassionate and develop non violent solutions:

  1. Ferreting out repressed anger (or other deeply held negative emotions). I’ve noted the above video before and I really like how deeply it works on transforming anger but there are many other methods, including “process” work like Fischer-Hoffman, the Diamond Heart approach, transpersonal psychology, etc. Just find the mode that works for you.
  2. Being able to stay present in the moment is really important. If you can’t even stay conscious enough to realize anger has grabbed you and it’s time to shift away, how you can move into non violent responses? I include more than just sitting vipassana; chanting (sung or spoken), movement practices like yoga or qi gong, and some guided meditations like yoga nidra are all ways that people of different temperaments can tune into the present.
  3. Long ago I read some spiritual leader saying the key to coping with emotions and events coming at you is to allow them to pass through you without affecting.  One of many teachings that’s easier said than done. I think it takes a lot of practice and dedication to reach a place where you don’t even have to think about staying in the space of lovingkindness and compassion and calm.

There are many ways to work on holding that space.  One factor is how you “feed” yourself in your life.  Are you doing practices like metta or singing chats or meditating (whatever form) regularly? Are you reading books like Tara Brach’s 

Tools for holding peace

I mentioned a while back that I’ve been struggling with the division and anger and finding myself angry much more often.  I keep hauling myself back to a place of equanimity and then suddenly there I am, screaming f**k you at a McConnell ad (if you live elsewhere, try to imagine being inundated with an ad in which he pretends the help for regular people in the stimulus package was spearheaded entirely by him…) or screaming and throwing things at the sight of the pumpkinhead.

I always know if I’m that angry, something in me is being triggered.  I also am figuring out I’m just enough of an empath that the huge amount of anger in the air affects me strongly as well. So I’ve been looking inward and working on clearing those things in me which contribute.  Two of Steve Nobel’s recent meditations have been really helping me bring some deep personal, ancestral and collective anger buried in me to the surface and also to release a lot of fear– especially that which others’ fear is engendering.

The one time I managed to get an appointment with Hanna for my hip issues, she began talking about this “Transforming Anger” meditation while working on one of the patterns and I understood she was feeling suppressed anger there. One of the times I did the meditation some of the stuck stuff in there released and, though it didn’t heal it all, it’s never been as bad since.

I’ve been alternating that one with another for releasing fear. Wasn’t sure I needed it at first, but I know there’s a lot of fear in the air right now, so thought I’d try it and realized there’s still some old fear from family stuff and some ancestral fear deep in there. Also that the energy of huge amounts of fear running through our society about the virus, the economy, etc. has permeated some layers of my being even though I don’t consciously share them.

I’ve had a very strong “hit” more than once that it’s really important for me right now to do each of these once or twice a week.  Along with a feeling this healing isn’t just for myself.

And for helping to raise my vibration and hold the space of love, I play this affirmation recording as I go to sleep both for naps and at night:

Soon I plan to add my old fave lovingkindness/Gayatri mantra chanting practice.

How about all of you?  What are you doing to hold the space of peace and compassion?  If you have a great meditation or other practice that’s on line, please throw in a link so others can try your faves.

 

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.

 

Recognizing Love When It’s Offered

After re-posting an old holidays post yesterday I started looking through some of my old offerings and thought I’d add this one:

The year I went to Nine Gates Mystery School (1990) was the only time Angeles Arrien taught a piece and I have always been so grateful I got to experience her. One of her teaching stories touched me deeply and I’ve pulled it out of my memory bank to reconsider many times.

She told of sitting in a rose garden when a mother and her little boy came by. The little boy pointed to a rose and said, “Mommy you’re just as pretty as this flower.” The mother looked pained and replied, “Why can’t you ever tell me you love me?” Of course he just had, but like many of us, she couldn’t receive his gift because she could only perceive love expressed her way.

More and more through the years I’ve realized how very many people in many ways fail to hear the messages of love that come to them because they’re so focused on some exact phrasing or action (or too focused on looking for unhappiness to notice anything good) no other phrase or form is perceived.

Sadly, a lot of people only know how to express love through criticism or controlling and those are very hard messages to hear. But if you know who people are and what they do, as discussed in the last post, you can sometimes see loving intent behind even those otherwise inappropriate forms of expression., Or how their fear of not being loved is behind it.  Or sometimes you’ll see malice really is the intent and have a decision to make.

During the holidays it seems to me that among many heightened expectations of magic, people most want to feel the love of their families and friends. The huge let-down so many feel often comes from the failure of those loved ones to provide love in the expected or desired way. What if you go through the holidays trying to understand how the people around you show their love instead of looking for love to arrive the way you want it?

Do you know how to recognize love when it’s offered?

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.