A little catch up, a little FYI …

Robin 2017

Robin in our back yard 2017

Muscles in my face are still going nuts and when they’re not I can’t seem to stop sleeping (possibly something to do with thousand of hours of sleep deprivation — and yup, I figured that out with all kinds of math formulas … not 🙂 ) so I have posts floating in the recesses of my mind but haven’t been able to sit down and focus enough to write them.

I’ve still been trying to keep up the regular chanting practice (lovingkindness chant + Gayatri Mantra + Om Shanti Shanti) yet also work my way through the practices in Life Loves You.  Also weaving some of the kundalini yoga sets I used to do regularly back into my practice schedule along with the yoga/Robert Masters/exercise bike routines I’ve been doing and trying to hit the Eight Key Breaths, and Five Tibetan Rites as well.

Sometimes I feel like I know so many practices and exercises that I could get up in the morning and start doing them and just keep going all day long if I wanted to hit everything faithfully…  So many different ones serve different purposes in energy or muscles or feeling tones.  Right now I’m just juggling in a “go-with-the-flow” kind of thing, seeing what feels right each day during the time set aside.

Wanted to also mention a couple of new things I’ve run into that I think would be of interest to some of the regulars around here.  Belinda Witzenhausen has started a blog hop thingy devoted to promoting stories of love and positivity.  You can sign up on a linky page to participate and the first posts are to go up on March 31.

I’ve also signed up for a class offered through Daily OM called Release Yourself from Family Karma.  As you know, I’ve been working on clearing ancestral issues for some time now and this class looks like a good opportunity to identify and clear some remaining issues.  And they nicely allow you to choose your payment  on a sliding scale of $10.00, $25.00 or $40.00 (the default seems to be $25 but if you click on that it opens up to a menu with the three options).

And my time to chant is calling now…  Peace, out…

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Hold the Loving Space

I’ve been a little silent lately.  Partly because the unwinding is back with the usual discombobulation accompanying and also because I’ve been ruminating on current events and what I want to say…

It’s been an amazing time for me in general.  As I mentioned recently, my daily chanting into heart-fullness  has brought me face to face with some remaining issues about worthiness, self-love and my ongoing journey to transform my ancestral negative thinking habit into positive thinking; it’s been a far tougher transition over the years than I’d have imagined when I started out and blithely assumed a few months of affirmations would fix everything.

Since my last post, I’ve been guided to “The Cure Is…“, which I LOVED.  I was given a link to see it free on Vimeo but I’ve found the DVD at Amazon and am thinking I want to buy it and add it to my growing collection of positive thought movies.

And then a friend sent me a link to this lovely — and fairly short — video of Martha Beck on YouTube, which I found to be the PERFECT message for these times and reflects how I see it working:

The piece that’s been bugging me lately has been the handful of friends on Facebook who can’t seem to stop fear-mongering even though they have spiritual knowledge and practices that should help them step out of that space.  I’ll be posting more about those issues — theirs with the fear and mine with being bugged by it 🙂 later.

But this little film from Ms. Beck helped me to see the message I most  want to spread, the one I most want to be my message:  Be the Peace.  Hold the space of lovingkindness.  Let your heart be filled with love and compassion.

Being in fear only helps them.  What we need right now is for as many people as possible to be clearing anything within them that stands in the way of peace and compassion and also meditating, chanting, praying their way into higher consciousness. The higher we take the consciousness, the more that pyramid she’s depicting melts into the sea of love.

BE THE LOVE!

P.S.  A little extra.  I have also found great comfort in this YouTube video from Patricia Cota Robles.  I’ve been listening to it every night as I go to sleep.  Some of it’s pretty woo woo if you’re not into some of the I AM stuff but the basic message about transforming the world into eternal peace is spot on:

Gratitude, blessings and change afoot

of light and shadow

of light and shadow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

life-loves-you

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

abundance-factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Check out my guest post on Me My Magnificent Self

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

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

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

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Tips for Peaceful Activism

Although time has calmed many people down a notch from the hysteria post election, every day I see enough on social media to realize too many are still hyped up and being reactive instead of proactive.  I’ve already produced a little series of posts with suggestions about compassionate activism but I thought I’d produce a pithier version with some added thoughts and suggestions.

Stay in the Moment

Quit spinning out catastrophic ideas into the future based on info you see today.  Many people are making dire pronouncements on social media — often based on info from seriously shaky sources when nothing in the unconfirmed information actually suggests the dire outcome necessarily follows.

Take a breath.  Then another.  Bring yourself into the moment.  Ask yourself:  Is this happening now?  If the government isn’t falling, if democracy hasn’t ended, if civil rights haven’t been abolished in this moment, calm down and remind yourself of what is true here and now.  BE IN THE MOMENT!

Take Back the Narrative

When you keep passing on disturbing pieces of information about what the opposition is saying and doing, you let them frame the narrative.  Leaders have been doing it for years.

I first noticed back in the 80’s when Ronald Reagan dubbed the troops fighting for Somoza’s fallen government in Nicaragua “Freedom Fighters”, implying they were the forces for democracy instead of actually the henchmen of a toppled dictatorial regime who were trying to overthrow the social democratic Sandinista government.  And the media went with it.  The New York Times and the other major dailies, the major broadcasting stations — all of them participated in his re-frame, helping to convince people we should be fighting to restore the dictatorship (since Somoza was dead I’ve never been clear who would have run it).

Creating phrases or re-naming things using the words that suit the agenda is a frequent tactic of leaders.  #45 is a salesman.  A master of creating a narrative to sell the hapless on whatever he wants them to believe.

Right now one of his big sells is that he’s just “deregulating”.  In a country full of independent spirits, it’s a word that always implies getting rid of big government.  What it really means is he wants to remove every protection that keeps middle class and lower class Americans safe from fraud, environmental illnesses, discrimination etc. by getting rid of regulations that control corporations.  Not by a long-shot the only arena in which he’s using loaded phrases to paint a picture he wants.

Every time you pass along articles repeating the Republican administration’s phrases, you allow them to frame the narrative.  Take it back.  Write a post that re-frames what was said to reflect what is really happening and share that.

Give Your Energy to the Outcome You Want–Shift the Energy

Quit using his name.  Quit using the name of the Machiavellian senator from Kentucky.  Every time you mention them you send energy to them, building them up and leaving the other people and possibilities for your side weaker.  #45 or He Who Shall Not Be Named 1 and 2 will do.  #45 wants to be constantly in the “news” and you’re giving him what he wants.

Right now we have less than two years to identify good candidates, create  grass roots campaigns to sidestep the ineffectiveness of the Democratic party (here in KY the campaigns have been so badly run in recent years I’ve been puzzled as to who the Democratic candidate even was in many races;  possibly GOP funded infiltrators are running the party here? 🙂 ) and send our energy toward that.

Or if you want to stand with the folks at Standing Rock, send your thoughts and energy there.  If you want to help save wildlife, decide what would help and post about that.  If you want to support immigrants and refugees, do something about that and post about it.  Think up a program and enlist support.

Currently I’m doing some research about how we could start crowd funding outside the U.S. to re-fund any place or any thing #45 de-funds.  Others are creating support groups, attending protests, etc.   Think outside the box.  If you don’t have your own program/idea, help someone who does.

Let the energy and excitement build around the outcomes you want to see and please, please STOP  keeping the energy flowing to them by putting all your attention there.

Quit Being Mean

I’ll admit I snicker at some of the stuff going around, but at the same time I know making fun of people is just mean. I am no better than they are if I engage in the same behaviors to which I take exception in them.

Being nonviolent means keeping violence out of your words and thoughts as well as avoiding fists and weapons.  See more about nonviolence here.

What Aspects of Them are in You?

If you really can’t let go, and keep obsessing, it’s time to start looking within.  Nothing about someone else’s behavior can have so much impact on you unless you are reacting to something in you that you’re seeing as being “out there”.

Whatever you see in the world reflects  you.  If you’re seeing disturbing stuff and feeling upset all the time over it, it’s time to take responsibility for what needs to be healed in you.  I’ve written lots of posts about healing what’s in you, and there’s one specifically about #45.

Move Your Being into Peace and Compassion

None of us have any business being snotty about lack of peace and compassion in others if we aren’t embodying love, peace and compassion ourselves.  I’m not there.  If you aren’t either, work on that.  We’re all one, part of the same whole.  Every time one of us raises consciousness everyone is lifted.

I’ve written about doing some chanting for opening my heart and filling with love ever since the election.  I’ve also been taking a class involving lovely meditations or putting love out into the world, called a Vow to Love.  All the materials are on line so you can still sign up.

If none of that appeals, sit vipassana, do guided meditations for peace (I think there are thousands on YouTube), heal your inner wounds.  Doesn’t matter which path you choose, just do your part to  be the peace.  Be the change you want to see.

The more loving and compassionate you become, the more nonviolent and peaceful you will be in your activism.  The easier it will be to choose the most loving path of resistance.

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Lately it’s been this and that…

Refugee Forum

Refugee Forum

I will get back to the series I’ve been writing on “Peace Begins With You”.  But I’ve been kind of scattered and distracted lately…  not the best mode for putting together a coherent series…  I gather a lot of this is going around 🙂  But stuff is happening so I thought I’d put up one of my this and that type posts.

Vow to Love

I signed up for Karen Chrappa’s Vow to Love on line class and after the first video I’m excited to be participating.  Moved by current events, she’s calling us to a space of love through a series of guided meditations.  I found the first one powerful and am looking forward to watching the second, which I’ve not gotten to yet.  By following this link  you can still sign up.

Practice Change-up

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly felt drawn to do the long yoga nidra for the first time in quite a while.  Since it takes 45 minutes I thought I’d skip chanting practice.  Surprisingly after a long absence I stayed mindfully right with it and found myself in the lovely state of feeling one with spirit and detached from personality this practice induces for me.  I also felt a longing to sing the Gayatri when I finished.  So I sang the 9 minute chant.  I’d never done the chant after yoga nidra and I was blown away by how powerful the chant became when preceded by the meditation.

I felt so pulled back to the yoga nidra that I’ve done the short version several times since, sometimes with and sometimes without chanting after.  It was fun to see I’ve shifted enough that the short version, which I used to find far less satisfying than the long, now has quite a powerful impact on me.

I love changing it up with practices.  I love seeing how my experience of them changes as I change.  I love doing experiments with putting one thing after another and then switching that up to see how the order of doing impacts the energy and feeling of them.  Do you find the order in which you do practices changes the experience?

Shakin’ it up in this old red state

Lexington is actually a blue city in a red state, so while much of the country assumes we’re all right wing Christians down here, we actually have quite the community of liberal democrats — I think every friend I have here was for Bernie…

Last Saturday I went to a well-attended talk on Muslim Interfaith Dialog at which a charismatic local doctor of Iraqi heritage explained the Islam faith and talked about many of the false perceptions that have been propagated through the media.  I’d looked into this over the years so much of it wasn’t news to me, but I was very excited to be in a room full of people all open to listening and supporting.

Then last night I headed off to a forum on Refugees held at the enormous Christ Church Cathedral downtown.*  It was SRO, the speakers were excellent and the crowd was full of energy and enthusiasm for ending the ban.  I was moved by so much of it, but possibly the most moving thing to me was listening to our Chief of Police state his welcome to all who come to Lexington seeking refuge.

I’ve been wondering where the departments, forces, etc. with guns who ultimately enforce –or choose not to enforce — the law are standing on what’s going on.  To be honest I wouldn’t have predicted the police would side with the refugees and immigrants.  He was so absolute in his statement of support I was teary-eyed.

Right now I’m showing up for lots of things like this.  Sunday I have to choose between the first meeting of “Indivisible” here and a rally for refugees being held at the same time and across the street from one another…  I’m still fired up about being “for” instead of against and discovering I’m “for” a lot of stuff — just haven’t decided where to focus my energy.

As well as exploring my options about where I can help, the main thing I’m looking at is midterm elections in 2018 and how we get from here to a democratic or social democratic congress…  So far I haven’t bumped into a group to join for that…


*An ironic little side note:  my uncle’s wife’s father (all three long dead…) used to be organ-master for this Episcopal church, which led my dad (a child when this much-older brother got married) and some other family members to attend for some years.  I used to walk by on my way downtown from Grandma’s house with my best friend.  But last night was the first time I ever set foot in the church.

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Part 3 Peace Begins with You: Mental Body

What the Bleep Do We Know!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the things I’ve used:

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

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

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

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