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.

 

People Power: The “be-ers”

The Three Key Paths:  The “Be-ers”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous People Power posts;

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?

Revisit to People Are Who They Are..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anger in the air

Screaming it out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A meditation, insights and puzzlement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Meditation Potpourri

Ever since someone introduced me to Steve Nobel a couple of years ago I’ve been a fan.  He’s prolific and churns out new meditations at a pace I can’t begin to keep up with.  They’re all free on YouTube.

For me there are increasing numbers down the list I mean to get back and try but he keeps enticing me into another new one.  And I now have 6 or 8 I like to repeat periodically. So the list of the ones not yet done keeps growing.

I find his work so powerful I’ve learned it’s better not to do more than 2-3 a week and to make sure there’s a day or two in between–and I have a couple of friends doing them who agree.  Other days I generally do yoga nidra.

As I’ve been moving through a selection of Nobel’s posts there have been a number I thought were particularly good so thought I’d embed some here for anyone who’d like to try.

One category I’ve been craving recently has been what I’d call the healing/protection ones.  One of my favorites lately has been, Angelic Healing Light Temple Meditation.  It’s gentler than some and doesn’t leave my energy roiling as much as some of his:

I’ve found his Shield of Michael Meditation powerful and I also like that it’s only 17 minutes.  You’re literally placing Archangel Michael’s symbol, a sword, around you in multiple places for protection.  The second time I did it I had an appointment with Hanna the next day for body patterning.  I didn’t say a word about the meditation.  Hanna, as I’ve mentioned before, is highly intuitive and at the end of the session she mentioned the odd fact that she kept seeing swords of Michael all around me!

Another one that’s nice and quiet and doesn’t radically set my energy roiling is the Super Quick Alignment Meditation.  A little under 15 minutes and beautifully brings you into balance.

One of the really powerful, but oh so lovely ones is The Ultra Violet Fire and Grace Elohim meditation, which invokes all your guides and guardians, ultra violet fire angels and the grace elohim angels who join you with these higher energies, clear you and leave you calm and connected.

One of the super powerful ones is Green Tara Transmission: Invoking a Liberation from all Mental/Energetic Poisons.  This is one heck of a clearing of old stuff, so be prepared for some big shifts!

 

Circling back to Yoga Nidra

Long ago I wrote about a year of yoga nidra practice and my ongoing love of it.  At the time I began, the lingering effects of chronic fatigue still left me exhausted a good deal of the time and the “sleep” impact intrigued me.

The practice indeed helped remarkably with the constant fatigue and after the year I moved to spending more time on energy-building practices like Flying Crane Chi-Gung, the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites.  I still slipped yoga nidra in here and there but it became ever more sporadic.

As I struggle with the big shifts I’ve been trying to make, added to years of sleep deprivation due to my muscles, fatigue is more of a problem again and it finally occurred to me to circle back to yoga nidra.  In the time since I first began I’ve fallen in love with the short version on my preferred recording, Swami Janakananda’s Experience Yoga Nidra[On other recordings I’ve tried the long version isn’t as complete as this one and the short version is completely different]

I’ve hit the point in the shift where I’m finally getting up close to the time I’m aiming for, but then wandering around in a fog for hours as I’ve never had enough sleep (and I gather my internal clock hasn’t adjusted…).  So later in the morning I’ve been frequently doing one of the two versions of yoga nidra and it’s definitely helping by restoring some rest as advertised.

Yoga nidra is a deep relaxation practice and the claims regarding sleep equivalence vary widely.  Initially I was told that the long, 45 minute version equaled 6 hours of sleep, or 2 hours per 15 minutes.  Since then I’ve seen it estimated at more like 1 hour per 15 minutes and I’d say that corresponds more to my experience.  And there are other claimed variations from less to more.  At this point I usually say the long one equals 3 hours and the short, 20 minute, version nets around an hour.

I also love the practice (1) because there are a LOT of fast-moving instructions and if you want to experience all of it you really have to stay mindfully with it.  I’d say the year I spent practicing daily did more to help my mindfulness capacity than any mindfulness meditation I ever did and (2) because as your energy follows the flow you experience your whole body, shifting emotional states, chakras, connecting with nature and more, I feel a greater sense of detachment from my ordinary self than anything else has provided me.

I also like it because my low back has issues with sitting meditation practices and for yoga nidra you’re SUPPOSED to be lying down.  Yea!

In 30+ years of learning, doing and often discarding practices, I’d say this one ranks as one of my total faves.  There are some others I cycle in and out of, like the energy practices named above.  And yoga, of course, has remained a constant since I took my first class starting in July, 1986.

If you have any issues with being sleep deprived and/or fatigued, I highly recommend this.  Or if you need help with relaxation.  Or mindfulness.  What can I say, it’s an amazing practice! And I’m so happy to have cycled back to it.

Getting Bigger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life and a meditation

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

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

Clearing and building energy

I tried out this Steve Nobel meditation a few weeks ago and then did it again and have been so impacted by it I’m planning to do it at least a couple of times a week.

The first part does a LOT of clearing old energy from every level of your being and then you build a pillar of light which is both super high energy and creates a barrier that keeps lower level energies from entering.

In these times when I feel it is SO important to be clearing as much lower level energy as possible and also lifting the vibration of the Web of All Life higher, this meditation seems like the perfect path.

I’ll be back to this in an upcoming People Power post, but wanted to share it now so those who want to can start working with it.

Walking a different drummer/spiritual path in a secular world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People Power: Truth, Lies, Myths, Manipulation

For part 2 in my People Power series a lot of focus right now on truth telling and “fake” news, which is discussed as if it’s a phenomenon that started with the current U.S. administration.  The truth and what we believe and why we believe it are crucial at this point but it’s a slippery slope.

The media and people in power have been hoodwinking us for years (maybe always?) and we all now hold a lot of beliefs that are based on falsehoods and/or manipulations.  In the wake of the 2016 election I’ve read a lot of studies about belief and how hard it is to change one or more.  Bottom line is beliefs are very hard to change in all people.  Once a belief has been accepted, most all of us will ignore evidence that tells us a different truth.

By and large these studies aimed at the right wing folks who elected the not-really-a-president, but what I’m seeing is that both sides are subject to the same “set in stone” thinking.  And the liberal/left often seems so smug about knowing what’s true and what’s not that they are blind to the ways in which they have been duped and are just as gullible to believing what’s been fed.

My first three examples of ways the media shifts perception all come from events of which I was aware or in which I participated in the 1980’s:

1 Nicaragua

  In the 80’s there was a huge civil war in Nicaragua in which the socialist Sandinistas were fighting the party of the late right-wing despotic dictator Somoza.  The Somozan guerillas called themselves Contras and had death squads torturing and killing people.

Reagan supported the right wing and the giant propaganda effort he waged on their behalf led to the Iran-Contra affair.  One small but key move he made to shift perception was to start calling the Contras “Freedom Fighters” in order to portray them as the good guys.

After a while I noticed that NYT articles about the situation were using his propaganda phrasing, calling the Contras “Freedom Fighters”.  It’s a subtle but effective way of re-shaping perception by a small change of phrase.  The anti-abortion movement pulled off a similar shift by changing their movement to “Pro Life”.

[At a guess, it was not the reporters on those articles who used the phrase, but probably an editorial change commanded by somewhere up the chain]

2 Nuclear Power Cases

Nuclear Power Plant cases are giant sprawling things, with thousands of pages of complex expert testimony, briefs that are usually 100 or more pages each and opinions that are just as long.  They’re complicated and cover tough-to-grasp topics like nuclear power plant engineering and econometric forecasting.

I worked on those cases and I barely grasped the minutiae even after several years, relying on the greater expertise of older attorneys who’d been at it so long they knew every nuance.  So I can imagine how tough it must be for a reporter covering the outcome of such a case –presumably among other assignments on other topics — to comprehend the material.

Pretty much every time one of our cases came down, I’d read the newspaper report on the opinion/outcome and scratch my head, wondering if the decision on some other nuclear plant case somewhere else had come out that day and the reporter confused the opinions.  Really.  I’d read the opinion and then the news and fail to see how one led to the other.

I don’t think anybody manipulated on purpose in those cases, but in complex technical matters it’s too much for a mainstream media reporter to be able to get it all and write a concise, understandable article that accurately reflects the material.  I’ve talked to other people in other complex arenas who’ve said the same thing.  Media coverage often doesn’t reflect the kind of understanding that people within the “biz” have.  On complex topics, if you really want to know, you probably need to look at trade-specific journals or major studies.

But the news articles are often the only info the public ever sees, so any mistakes in the coverage wind up being part of the belief system.  One example in nuclear stuff I see all the time is the assumption that nuclear is the cheapest form of power.

Putting aside the incalculable issue of how much the environmental devastation will cost down the road, (1) the cost overruns of building them have been astronomical; and (2) the ONLY reason they ever seemed relatively cheap in the U.S. was the gigantic federal underwriting they received.  If you add the grants into the overall cost they’re very expensive.

But because the powers that be who favor nuclear have always referred to it as the cheapest form and the federal money supporting them is never mentioned there’s a general belief that nuclear power is cheap.  In this case the public is misled by a combo of misinformation and omission.

3 Perception of Crime

Yup, I’m back to this one again.  And before you roll your eyes and think I need to stop with this one, I really want you to take this in and understand how manipulation changed perception and what that means for us.

As a sociology grad student in the late 70’s I landed on a huge research project called “Reaction to Crime”.  The premise was that the perception of rising crime threats arose from some changes in reporting and the idea was to figure out how to assuage those fears.  Part of the project was a gigantic “crime statistics survey” in which a small group of us poured through decades of studies and articles on crime stats.

In a nutshell, what we found was that the chance of being the victim of a crime, from robbery, burglary, assault, battery, kidnapping, etc. to murder HAD NOT CHANGED IN DECADES.  Two major changes fueled the change in perception:  (1) crime used to be reported differently and not in gross numbers as it has been for some decades now and (2) the rise of television meant that many crimes that once would have been reported only locally became national news.

The change in reporting from noting probability to just counting the total number of crimes and sounding the alarm that it kept going up suits law enforcement and politicians very well because it helps them convince the public they need big budgets and fuels election campaigns.

The thing is, the population keeps growing, so the totals will always grow. The only relevant info in terms of being afraid of crime is the probability.  Has not changed significantly over all for more than 100 years.  And I keep checking in on the studies and reports as they update and it’s always the same.  Unless you’re a Hispanic or Black male between 15 and 25, the chances of being a crime victim have gone down by and large since Colonial times. (And I’ve not looked into it but I suspect some crimes related to opioid sales and distribution have gone up in recent years.  And hate crimes only have relatively recent stats as they were not considered separately).

But every time I talk to people about this I see them politely nod and then observe them a day or two later discussing the terrible crime problem.  So this is the piece I want you (and I use “you” very generally here, hoping I might reach a wider than usual audience) to really get.

I am telling you the factual evidence compiled by decades of experts in this field shows  a perception of crime as rampant and getting worse that IS NOT TRUE.  And most of you have bought so deeply into the manipulation that you do not really believe me when I tell you this.

How does this make you different from climate deniers?  Or flat earth believers?  Somebody presented those folks with an alternate view of truth and they’ve bought it so thoroughly you can’t persuade them it’s actually false.

This is how manipulation works.  It presents you with a version of events or a way of phrasing or skewed “statistics” that suits people in power and gets you to believe what they want you to.  And then you can’t be dissuaded.

In the 1940’s, when people left everything unlocked and wandered around feeling safe, the only difference in likelihood of being a victim was perception.  Not the numbers.  Perception.  So when you worry about crime and contemplate security systems, etc. remember nothing has changed since the days of unlocked doors except your perception.

A few articles:

In a broader sense, this all goes to a point I’ve been making for a while about the price of lapping up negative news and largely ignoring (instead of demanding!) positive news.  The corporate elite–who quietly (and I’d argue without a conspiracy but acting out of self interest) hold the strings of power and use them to manipulate–put a lot of effort into keeping the populace afraid and pointing fingers at one another and at “circumstances” like rising crime.

Lately I’ve been noticing in my digital Washington Post subscription, although they continue to dislike the President while also celebrating him daily via multiple posts, they’ve been tearing down the Democratic candidates and Democrats in general on a daily basis lately.  At first I was surprised but then recalled I’ve read several times that the big mainstream media folks have recouped their financial standing by covering this administration incessantly.  Which will presumably change if he isn’t elected in 2020.  Bear this mind.

The point of creating fear is to keep us from noticing (1) together we actually have the power since the 2% need us to buy their crap and (2) they’re really the ones raping, pillaging, plundering, and destroying the earth and its people.  But if we’re all hopping around about crime and racism and immigrants and refugees and dividing into camps pointing fingers at one another they just get to keep taking more power and leaving us with less of everything.

Which brings me to another item I keep coming back to, this lovely 10 minute Ted Talk by Julia Bacha on the importance of being aware of the positive and the price of focusing on the negative.

It’s time for us to wake up and look at the world with new eyes.  To step back from the “truth” as we keep perceiving it through the lens of mainstream media.  It’s time to seek and celebrate the multitudes of positive things in the world.  And by noticing and celebrating we bring attention.  Since energy flows where attention goes, that means energy moves to the good stuff.  That’s how we start moving the power.  Change the flow.

For those of us in this blogging crowd who have come to know each other here, we have been in the forefront of those who are digging deep into our own psyches and releasing the old false beliefs and delusions in our personal lives.  Now it’s time for us to dig into the false beliefs and delusions of our society and world and step back to hold a deeper truth.  I don’t usually ask this, but please forward this through social media for me.  We need to get this out there.

I like my aging face

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

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

Time Stopped

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

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

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

“Not Fair”

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

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

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

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

I Earned This Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I earned this face.