Starting a new vision

The early days of my journey were strictly New Age.  One of the pursuits in which I regularly engaged was writing down a vision for the future which then involved any of a variety of rituals from just writing it to burning, floating in water, etc.  A few days ago I was thinking about the “next” in my life now that the illness phase is winding down.  Lots of years of illness led to lots of time alone, so my thoughts were about what I want in terms of social life.  Oddly it was never part of the vision plans I created long ago –in those days children and a husband were my people priorities; when it became too late for children I kind of lost interest in the husband and I was so deep in illness I had no vision plans except for health.

As an only child my early years had lots of alone time.  In my twenties and thirties I made lots of friends and became obsessed with filling all possible moments with people.  After I started the journey I realized that all that neurotic activity was designed to keep me from ever sitting alone with my thoughts and possibly confronting an issue or two (personally I think that’s an epidemic in America).  About the same time I started the journey I was also finding out that something was seriously wrong with my health.  It was a nice coincidence that as my stamina for being out and about went down, I learned the tools to enjoy having alone time in which to meditate and think.

I’ve gotten so used to a very quiet life that I can see that it’s been a sticking point for me about moving beyond illness — somewhere deep down I see that it means getting out in the world again and part of me doesn’t want to leave the cocoon.  I have some friends who have lots of friends and busy lives and they’re constantly frantic, constantly short of time to do things.  That’s a nightmare to me, not a vision and on some level I’ve been worried that stepping out into wellness means stepping into that over-committed, overpopulated, rushing life style.

I come from a family that tends to see black and white, either/or, so I sat frozen in the sense that I had to choose one or the other when I wanted both.  Recently it occurred to me that I can decide on my own shades of gray.  With relief,  I decided that my vision is to find a way to balance the alone time I love with the people time I love.  I trust the Universe will help to create that balance in the best way.

Looking back

Just came back from my annual trek to my home town of Flint, MI.  I’ve been taking my mother up every year for about six years to see her friends and for us to re-visit old favorite restaurants and explore the current scene.  I couldn’t wait to get away from there, so it’s been interesting to find that I really enjoy going back.  It wasn’t a garden spot to begin with and now that the car industry is by and large gone, it’s far more sad.  But it’s familiar and I keep being surprised by how much comfort I find in that.

I don’t really believe in regrets but when I’m in the little town of Flushing, where I went to junior high and high school, I feel twinges of it.  The year of the 20 year reunion I went back for a couple of days and realized that the main cause of my misery was me.  I could see what a nice little town it is and was.  I’ve changed even more since then so now I can also see how much more fun I would have had and how much more I would have appreciated everything if I’d been then the person I am now.  I could say that for the first 40 years.

I know it was the pain of the past that made me who I am and it was the pain that led me to the path of self-exploration and spiritual questing so I’m grateful for all that came before.  Just every now and then I envision the past the current me would have had and I forget to be grateful and linger a moment in regret.

Working with the energy

A few years ago — 20 some years into struggling with chronic fatigue and the twisted muscles issue — I hit a new phase in understanding the “energy-ness” of being.  It occurred to me that maybe instead of massages and acupuncture and supplements, etc. that work on specific physical aspects,  if I worked on balancing and raising energy I might have more success.

I reviewed the many practices I’d learned over 20+ years of workshops and classes and chose three:  (1) the Eight Key Breaths; (2) the Five Tibetan Rites; and (3) Flying Crane Chi Gung.  I picked the Key Breaths because they build a strong energy — enough to start pushing open closed spaces — and they raise vibrational level too.  The Five Tibetan Rites are very balancing and they address the endocrine system which has been one of my major problem areas.  Flying Crane Chi Gung also balances energy, but specifically it — like other forms of Chi Gung and Tai Chi, etc. — builds chi, or prana.

About three years ago I began doing those three practices.  The Key Breaths I’ve done pretty faithfully every day.  With the Rites and Flying Crane I tend often to do one or the other every day but I try to do all three practices.  What a difference!   In fairness, over this period I was also regularly practicing the routines I’ve designed (and been teaching) combining triggers of release from Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method with traditional yoga and receiving amazing Body Patterning treatments, both of which are clearly contributors.

The process of healing until that point has been incredibly slow.  I give a lot of credit to the effects of the energy changing practices.  As my muscles return to normal I’m much more able to feel nuances of what the practices do and I feel their power ever more.  I can feel the powerful force of the Key Breaths pushing on blocked places.  I can feel how much my chi has improved.  I can feel the balancing effects of each practice and that there are subtle differences in each.  I’ll never know how things would have gone without the Body Patterning and the exercises, but  I think that building and balancing the energy changed everything.
See also http://www.scribd.com/doc/249007/Ti-Bet-an-Exercises

The energy of it all

“Everything is energy.”  I ran into that concept very quickly when I entered the world of metaphysics.  I accepted it as true from the get go;  I’ve been slowly learning what it means in the 25 years since.  I don’t mean in the sense of science — you can watch What the Bleep (if you’re like me about science, a dozen or more times) if you want that explanation of energy.  I mean in terms of grasping what it means for us if we realize that everything — including us — is energy.

In terms of my connection to the world, I see the “all” of the energy as the great web in which we are all one.  That the physical me extends out into the universe and interconnects with all life everywhere via energy.  That no physical object is what it appears to be.   In other words, the world as I know it is an illusion.  Again, I can say those words and believe them but the more I explore, the more deeply I understand those words and yet I still feel there is much that eludes me.

In terms of self concept, it means trying to grasp that my body isn’t the real me.  As far as the energy is concerned there is no beginning and no end that defines “me” and “you” as separate.  Our conviction that we are separate beings is an illusion.  Every time I point my finger at someone else I am pointing at me.    Every thing that I do in terms of “my energy” is a contribution to either raising or lowering the energy of the web.

I think for the rest of my life as I contemplate the energy of it all I will always have more to learn about what that all really means.

Exploring the Divine me

I had an extraordinary body work appointment today, one of those experiences where the physical manifestation of an issue opens a space that reveals the emotional and spiritual connections and I can see how completely I have written the story of my issues on my body.  Through lots of insightful commentary from Hanna, the practitioner, I could see that I’m back at a couple of the core issues that have informed all the others.

I kind of gave up on God very early in my life and ever since then issues of not feeling worthy of Divine grace and of doubting that there is any have vied for top spot in my dwindling panoply of neuroses.  Issues of accepting my own Divine nature were up today — again — and I found it both disappointing to be back to that one and also something of a relief to realize I didn’t have to mine for new causes but can continue exploring familiar territory.

Since most religious institutions in our culture have encouraged us to believe that the Divine is outside of us and something we can barely hope to ever touch in our lifetimes, I think issues about accepting our own God- or Buddha-natures are frequent.  They can manifest in many ways, often connected to self-esteem issues; I’ve struggled to think well enough of myself to accept that I am Divine even while I believe absolutely that we are all part of the All That Is that many call God.

On days like this I see both the many levels of transformation that have already occurred and a humbling view of the road still ahead.  I think this phase of the journey is going to be fun!

The laws of spirit and food

One of the main spiritual laws I believe is that the things we believe (both consciously and subconsciously) create the world we experience.  Most of my spiritually inclined friends believe some version of that, so I’m often taken aback to hear people talking about food as if it is ruled by laws that are outside the purview of beliefs creating what is.

Lots of people start exploring healthy eating and come up with some theory that involves a list of good foods and a list of bad foods and from then on their conversation about food is filled with phrases like “that’s so sinful”, “that was so bad to eat that,” “I only like to eat healthy food”, etc.  They give long lectures on the horrible things that can happen from eating the wrong thing, drinking the wrong kind of water, cooking your food, not cooking your food…  In other words they can’t make a decision about food being good for them and just believe that it will be so, but food has some sort of power that puts it beyond their thoughts affecting it.

I like the observation in The Seth Material  that an obsession about the healthiness of food (or lack thereof) usually means the core belief you live by is that food is tricky and it’s likely something will harm you.  Then even with hypervigilance about what you eat your belief makes it easier for something you haven’t noticed to cause a problem.

Personally, I like the idea of assuming that what I eat is good for me.  However, I am aware that I, like most Americans, have a fairly tortured relationship with food and deeply held beliefs about goodness and badness.  So I try to figure out a “healthy” diet that makes sense and not to worry about eating some things that aren’t on the diet because I believe that generally what I eat is good for me.

It’s tricky in this country with our crazy habits of eating junk food in giant quantities as if nothing could  harm us while simultaneously believing that all kinds of foods are bad.  While I believe that theoretically you could go on a hot fudge sundae diet and be perfectly healthy if you believed in it, most of us have beliefs about food that are far too confused for that.  It’s a balancing act to work on positive views about eating while keeping your diet within a range you truly believe is healthy.

The great web

My mother and I spent last weekend meeting a lot of cousins we never knew and seeing historic sites related to our family.  Along with these cousins I got access to a 1,000 some page genealogy and then, as if a channel had opened, online I found posts that provided a great deal of history for two more branches of family.  I’ve been overwhelmed at realizing the thousands of people in the present time who are part of those lines and to imagine the web includes us.

The idea of the web of all life is one that has fascinated me on the spiritual journey from the beginning.  My understanding of it has been evolving over time and I don’t pretend to have reached a definitive answer.  Slowly I’ve seen that the “All That Is” that is the totality of all energy is what the web is.  That we are all energy whose bounds do not end at our skin but extend so that we are all connected.

Though Chief Seattle’s famous words ( http://www.synaptic.bc.ca/ejournal/seattle.htm — this is one version; there are several) have been embraced by environmentalists as referring to our interdependence in environmental terms, I think it refers to the web of all our interconnected energies.

When I look at my growing family tree I see the overwhelming degree to which we connect through history by blood with people by the thousands.  I see multiple names and people of many faiths and political opinions and we are all united by blood.  When I think of the web of all life, I see the nadis, or energy channels, within us flowing through us and out into the world and universe, connecting all life as blood connects human families on earth.  I see both webs as delicate living things.  I feel how much I need to clear anger and fill with love and compassion in order to take care of the delicate webs to which I belong.

A driving test???

I’m kind of snarky behind the wheel.  Not so much in terms of driving mean but in what goes on in my head, what I often mutter, sometimes shout, while waving my hands. Since moving to the Bluegrass, where people are mysteriously reluctant to start driving after a red light changes, my frequent favorite is, “Hey what color means go on your planet?”  I’ve discovered that it’s a good test of my progress in releasing all anger to pay attention to how angry I become and how often when I’m driving.

Your place to vent might be something different like when  you think you’re not being heard or when you hear a political opinion you don’t like but most of us have some place or circumstance where we let some of the anger out.   It’s worth checking out what your trigger is or when you most often blow and then to keep an eye on yourself if you want to move toward peace and compassion.

The anger, of course, is rarely actually about the driving or the not listening or the politics or whatever.  Since getting to the peace is important to me, I track that anger and work to figure out what issue I haven’t seen yet and to release it.  I’m grateful that I’ve realized how much driving shows me about how I’m doing at getting free of the angry places.

The food connection

Mind, body and spirit are, of course, inextricably linked.  Most people on a spiritual journey seem to wind up also on a journey about healthy eating.  The hardest part of the food journey is figuring out WHAT IS HEALTHY?  Because of my health issues, I’ve been seeing alternative practitioners for more than a quarter of a century and believe me I’ve heard a ton of opinions about eating.  I also have many friends who are obsessed with healthy eating and they’re all sure they know what it takes to eat a healthy diet.  I have a little different take and I hope it helps.*

Here are a few basics I’ve learned.  First, for every theory about food and whether it’s good for you or bad for you, the opposite theory probably also exists and several dozen theories that land at points in between.  Second, there is no theory that applies to everyone.  Third, eat fresh fruits and vegetables — it’s about the only suggestion that shows up on virtually every list.  Whether the fruits and veggies need to be raw or cooked is a whole other issue.  Fourth, you have to learn what works for you (i.e., apply this one to number three).

* There are so many ins and outs, I’ll be devoting a number of entries to this topic but this gives you the start of my philosophy on the healthy eating issue.

Where’s the joy?

Several of the Abraham Hicks daily messages lately have talked about achieving joy through joy.  In other words, if like attracts like then you need to find joy in your life  in order to get to joy.  Although I understand the principle, it’s the kind of advice that sometimes makes me want to scream.

For instance, I’ve been talking with a few friends who, like me, have had health problems.  And we’re asking ourselves, how, when your head is splitting or you’re so tired you’re shaking or your hip is so painful you can hardly walk or sit, do you hold the space of joy?  An instruction or two with the pithy suggestion to be joyful in order to attract joy would be helpful.

I’ve been working on it a lot in the last couple of years from the perspective that everything is energy and thus joy or happiness or success has a vibration.  To attract the thing you want you have to get your energy vibration to match.  The easiest way might be to hold the emotion or feeling tone of the thing you want.  But I think raising your energy vibration through spiritual practice and clearing blocks to the movement of energy (which also raises your vibration) can help you to lift your energy level to one that matches the things you desire.

I’ve also been thinking about Ellen Margron’s Emotional Mastery work and realizing that I’ve applied her teaching about being able to shift your emotional state at will to purely emotional or feeling states but that I’ve not tried it on physical states.  Most of the circumstances I’m experiencing have to do with pain and pain is also an emotion so I think I can shift the misery by focusing on shifting to a different emotional state.

In a way it’s like some of the Zen and Tibetan meditation techniques that involve sitting in a painful position until you can transcend the pain.  Only without the uncomfortable sitting for three hours.  No data on how well that will work. I’ll let you know!

Is the mirror an exact reflection?

One of the popular concepts in New Age thinking is that of mirroring — the idea that whatever you see in someone else or in others reflects something about you.  It’s usually discussed as if that mirror will be a direct reflection of you.  I often found the application of that idea confusing and in my life I’ve found it to be a bit more complex.

For instance, some years ago I had a roommate who constantly belittled me, broke my dishes, poured water on my furniture, mistreated my cats, etc.  and treated some other supposed friends to betrayal so nasty it took my breath away.  I kept looking at her behavior and worrying about her as a mirror — was I that mean-spirited?  I asked some friends whom I trusted to at least give me a watered down version of the truth and the unanimous response was a vociferous “no that is not you”.

I kept asking myself, “well then how is she a mirror?”  Eventually I realized that her behavior mimicked the way my aunt treated me pretty well.  I also monitored my thoughts, checking to see whether I thought that way about other people which led to realizing that she talked to me the way I talked to myself.  So the roommate was a mirror who reflected those two things back to me from my inner world but I had to dig a bit to get to them.

As I’ve become more able to keep myself separate from other people and to identify more clearly what is me and what is them, I sometimes see patterns in others that I don’t think mirror my behavior or thoughts and I’m able to view them dispassionately as “what is”.  Or do I need to dig some more to find how the pattern relates to me?  Maybe as we detach more and more from “self” we can see things “what is” without having it relate to our own lives?  I have a ways to travel before I find out.

Sassy on the inside

I’m a big fan of Gilmore Girls in large part because of the many undercurrents of Lorelai’s life that echo my own.  A big difference is that, when faced with her family’s complete disapproval of who she was, Lorelai became more boldly her own sassy self.  While I found her character bordered on narcissistic personality disorder to a disturbing degree, I liked her bold insistence on being a sassy eccentric.  On the inside I was just as smart-mouthed as Lorelai but my response to the “don’t be you” message was to bury “me” as deep as possible and hide the spunky girl from view.

I’ve cleared away lots of layers — in a recent body patterning session Hanna commented that the huge amount of activity that’s been going on in my face and head are the masks breaking up.  Her advice was to look in the mirror and see the real me.  I am starting to see a light in there that I never saw before, but I’ve worn so many masks I’m not always sure I know who that is.

I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the mix there’s a sassier version of me and she’s been peeping out more often for a while.  No longer just sassy on the inside.

It’s written in the body

I had a great appointment a couple of days ago with Hanna, a terrific practitioner of the amazing body work my friend Kreig invented, called “Body Patterning”.  She also does Akashic Records reading and has the records open as she works.  So this time as she worked into the long crisscrossed patterns of holding in my hip area she started talking about the deeply held issue that was in there.

In this case it started in the womb when I apparently twisted my left leg to match the twist my mother had since being hit by a car as a child.  And that led to Hanna seeing how there were issues  held in that area that also led back to more than one past life experience with my mother.  As soon as she started talking I started going inward and trying to follow along, to take myself back, asking questions about the origins, sending thoughts of release, etc.

The whole process of unwinding this formerly completely wound up body* has included a series of those moments when something in my body connects to something traumatic  that happened and wrote its story into a muscle.  For me it was written painstakingly into knots in every muscle — not that every knot corresponded to an issue.   When you’re born with a twisted leg that isn’t straightened until you’re 35 you collect knots in your muscles with just about every step, so I know that some knots are just knots.

For some people the story that gets written has to do with kidney disease or cancer.  Often the body part affected or the type of illness gives a clue as to the sort of issue for which to look.  One way or another, though, your story will be written in your body.  The way it’s written on faces is such a story that that will be another post at some time.

I’ve found that the pain and fatigue and misery also carried the seeds for my release and transformation, so I’ve learned to be grateful that my body has a story to tell.  Because every time I understand the origin or cry the locked up tears or feel a burden release, I’m free of the issue that has held me.  Thank you God.

* When I started getting bodywork my first massage therapist thought of me as one of the three worst cases she had ever seen; every single muscle in my body was twisted and hardened into steel, muscles glued together, muscle groups glued to bone…  It’s been a long, long journey to get all that nearly sorted out.

Is life precious or not?

One of my struggles is with the contradictions I see in the way lots of groups and people who believe life is precious actually treat other people and their lives.  I think contradictions may be human nature; seems like everybody has some.  I accept that but some contradictions are so glaring to me that I have trouble getting by them.   It seems to me that if life is precious and if by that we mean that lives deserve to be treated with loving care, then doesn’t that mean that everyone’s life is precious — even the lives of those whose beliefs and/or lifestyle are different from our own?

Between pro-lifers, left-leaning social democrats, many varieties of religious groups, anti-death penalty groups or …, there are lots of folks who do what they do because they believe some version of  “life is precious” (or humans deserve rights or dignity or equality, etc.).  But there always seems to be an unspoken caveat — life is precious as long as the life in question agrees with me; life is precious as long as it does what I want it to.

If life is precious, why isn’t it precious outside the womb?  If life is precious why isn’t the troubled young mother-to-be on her way to an abortion clinic precious?  If life is precious why is it okay to make ugly remarks to a Republican or to wish death on CIA agents?  The beginning of the end of a long ago relationship came the day my death penalty fighting boyfriend started chortling with glee because an alleged CIA agent had been killed in the Middle East.  I wanted to know why, if killing another person is always wrong, was it not wrong to kill the agent?  My boyfriend was furious that I dared to challenge his “carefully thought out” views.    I was unnerved at the mind that thought those two things could be held in the same space.

What if we all actually treated every other life as precious?  I don’t think that means you have to like every belief or overlook every opinion with which you disagree, but I do think you can disagree with someone without forgetting that he or she is a divine child of God.  Is life precious or is it not?  If it is, then treat all life that way.  That’s what I say — easier said than done.

Give me some fake charm please

Long ago in my hippie phase I wanted to be “real” and became impatient with the southern culture of my family and the charm that I considered to be fake.  With time and a small measure of wisdom, I realize that for a lot of southerners charm–while it may be displayed “falsely” on some occasions where other feelings are more real but kept hidden– is natural as breathing and a very real part of who they are.  And I’ve also come to value an attitude of being gracious to others.

In recent years I see what happens when manners and charm go by the wayside and people who have not cleared their issues or learned serenity display whatever they feel like at any given moment.  My stint in substitute teaching left me wondering how  many children at this point are now a couple of generations removed from having anyone in the family who knows any manners to teach.   The lack of manners or even a modicum of politeness or consideration for others seems so rampant I find myself longing sometimes for the charm of old Lexington (when it was more southern and gracious).  I still find it in the small towns and it’s like falling into a soft and safe cocoon.

When I’ve had the privilege of meeting a Rinpoche or a true Indian guru or a teacher who’s achieved high levels of consciousness, I’ve seen an innate grace and charm that come forward when someone is serene and connected to the divine.  I think it’s who we all really are in essence or as Almaas calls it “the diamond heart”.

We’re so far from a world where people are clear of issues and meditating to serenity that these days I say, “Give me the fake charm, please.”  In the absence of enlightenment, I think manners and rules of politeness help us to be kinder to one another and these days I’m so grateful for every moment of kindness I find.