The fine line: spiritual bypass vs. always something wrong

Over the course of 30+ years on this path I’ve landed in many places where I questioned whether digging or uplifting would be the better answer.  There are proponents of digging deep who also imply you can never stop.  There are proponents of positive thinking, doing uplifting practices, etc. who imply the “uplifting” thoughts and actions will shift away the underlying issues with no need to dig.  Personally I’ve found we need both.  But there’s a fine line between and I find it a great challenge to decide which side suits any given moment.

I started off in some New Age stuff that I eventually realized invited people to do a “spiritual bypass” wherein they stuffed issues even farther down in favor of pretending to be upbeat all the time.  The excitement of this new path brought me some good successes for a while and I arrogantly decided I didn’t need more therapy or any other digging through issues.  Later I also met lots of people who studied established traditions like Buddhism and Sufism and realized you can do a spiritual bypass on any path if you choose to avoid your issues…

Higher consciousness (mine? the Universe? who knows) pretty quickly slammed me into a wall of my own limiting beliefs and I wound up doing the extensive excavation work required by my late friend Ellen Margron’s version of the Fisher Hoffman Process.  Although I moved mountains of material in the nine months my group spent doing the process work and set off kundalini after one particularly huge release, I knew pretty soon after finishing that I wasn’t done.

I’ve used the process many times since and also wound up in several forms of body work that delve into emotional patterns and issues as well as setting off on an exploration of ancestral issues deep in my DNA.  All these things have, in my opinion, been necessary to open pathways and channels that blocked my ability to expand into higher consciousness or even a new version of myself.

However, in the last couple of years I’ve been feeling increasingly that it’s time to concentrate more on shifting thought patterns from negative to positive and raising energy to higher vibrational levels.  In 2017 I really devoted the year to positive thinking and practices to uplift.  The first thing I noticed was how much more impact I felt from these things after having released so much material that had been in the way.  My experience in doing guided meditations or saying affirmations or singing chants, etc. became one of feeling energy moving vitally throughout my body in a way I’d never felt in the early days — before releasing.

Once the New Age movement evolved to embrace the idea of exploring issues, an entire industry seemed to grow up with teachers and “schools” and body work therapies all designed to help people retrieve repressed memories and “release the past”.  And — what a surprise — many of them believe you never finish this work.

Up to a point, I believe that – you’re unlikely to hit every hidden issue in a short space of time and issues tend to recur.  I question, though, that you have to focus your life around discovering issues for the rest of your days.  And I worry that the central, usually unconscious, belief at the core of all the digging and searching can be “there’s something wrong with me” and/or “I’m not good enough as I am”.

These are core issues for me, so I began to worry about the constant probing through my psyche for hidden issues perpetuates the core self-doubt and self-worth issues.  Adding that worry to my growing belief there’s a point when the digging needs to stop to allow building to begin, I felt I needed to shift my focus from releasing the past to creating a different future.

Opposed to those who think we must excavate for life, there are also spiritual teachers/leaders who believe we don’t need to dig at all.  Using a little of “What the Bleep’s” science, when you create a new positive neural net, the old one starts dismantling.  Or, looked at another way, when you raise the energy vibration, the lower vibrations begin to shift upward.

I think that happens too, I just think it is stymied if you are full of repressed memories and unresolved issues and your plan is never to look.  Even in the “just raise the vibe” theory, whatever is blocking or contradicting tends to rise to the surface.  One way or another I do believe you have to confront at least some of your issues.  I have also had the sense of unknown things falling away as I’ve progressed, so I don’t think you have to consciously deal with every single issue.  But I do believe you have to be willing to look deep within.

For me, there was much transformation resulting from releasing.  And there has also been profound change in the last year as I have changed my focus to building instead of dismantling.  Some look doubtful when I say I want to stop constantly searching for what’s wrong and needs to be fixed.  Some agree there’s a time to shift the focus.

Not only has it been in my thoughts a lot, but lately I’ve had several off and on conversations going about this.  And I know lots of you in this blogging community have probably looked at this issue.  I’m very interested in your thoughts and experiences.


Between worlds… and learning what it means to me

A month or so ago I had a partial epiphany moment — one of those AHA’s where it feels like a giant leap and then you wonder if you really understand what it means.  During a Steve Nobel meditation in which he talked about our current transition into 5D and how everything moves faster and easier there, I suddenly realized I’ve operated from that level occasionally for a long time, but a lot of teachings and beliefs around me have kept me doubting my experiences.

Many spiritual teachers –including some friends of mine– have deep beliefs about the need to “do something”.  Doing, for them, is never about prayers or visualizing or holding a space; instead it is about action and plans and, in many cases, some sure-fire series of steps you must take.  According to them you can’t manifest anything without completing such a program.

Now in my experience, every great manifestation story I have to tell involves no planning, not taking steps, and doing nothing but visualizing and/or creating affirmations concerning my goal.  Sometimes no more than a passing thought holding a strong desire.

One of my best stories goes back to my first years out of law school, when I’d moved back to Chicago (where my school wasn’t known well and I didn’t have legal connections) and wound up working a series of temp law gigs and volunteering for a legal nonprofit.  Another temp job was about to end and I started affirming that the perfect permanent job for me would show up.  Within a couple of weeks a place with which I’d interviewed a year before found me at my latest job (not where I’d been working when interviewed), set up another interview and hired me.

All the wisdom about getting such a job said I needed to send a new resume and then follow up with a phone call and possibly also put out feelers through mutual acquaintances.  I did NONE of those things (although I was in process of updating the resume).  I actually got a job as a lawyer with the Governor’s Office by saying an affirmation and assuming it would come true (and probably being at least a little impressive the first time I interviewed 🙂 ).

The most amazingly impossible tale involves my left leg, twisted from knee to ankle since birth.  While composing a “treasure map” (similar to the current vision board idea), I saw a photo of an athlete with strong straight legs and, wondering if that could happen, added it to the map.  I said an affirmation about straight, healthy legs and forgot about it.

Some months later at a workshop on channeling, a fellow who’d come to learn how to use his newly-awakened healing abilities “saw” the pattern underneath and started doing hands-on healing on my leg every day. At the end of the week my leg suddenly jerked and snapped and the tibia moved into place.

No plan, in a world that still would say the straightened leg was impossible to do without a plan and the plan would have to include surgery.  But there wasn’t a plan or a doctor or surgery and voila straight leg.

In spite of these and other successes, I lacked confidence and felt pressured by the “make a plan” people, so I worried I was doing it wrong.  All those programs where you have to sit down and make a list and create a scheme, etc. make my stomach tighten and my eyes roll back in my head, but the “must do” crowd had me convinced this was a flaw in me.

Trying to do it “right”, I’ve tried the plotting and planning method.  It really isn’t how I operate so it’s always uncomfortable and pretty much always leads to… nothing… and going nowhere…  With my understanding about energy and how it works growing exponentially in recent years I was ripe to hear a message about 5D, where you have a thought and it comes to be.

Ding!  Flashes of my past successes (it’s a pretty long list) danced through my head and I knew I’d long been able to operate from that place.  I just didn’t trust my own abilities and instincts enough to believe.  A short step brought me to memories from 18 or so years ago when I studied for a few years with a Hopi elder.

After a talk on “borderland people” one day, she pulled me aside and asked if I knew I was a borderland person.  Having recognized myself in most of her description, I nodded enthusiastically, happy to explain some mysterious aspects of myself with this concept.  Borderland people, you see, stand with a foot in both worlds:  one foot in this world, one foot in the spirit or dream world.

Although “the 5D” and “spirit” worlds are often discussed in separate places and as if the concepts are not the same, I’m seeing them as the same idea described with different words.  And understanding that I jumped ahead into operating from a more 5D place a long time ago.  Now I’m wondering if those authoritative people with the plans might understand less than I do instead of more?  [I do think the plans often work for those who believe in plans; not because of the  plan but because of the belief in it.]

I’ve known since I was fairly young that I often march to a different drummer but until now that has been both a badge of honor and a source of great struggle and doubt.  On this spiritual path I’ve grown ever more out of step with the mainstream.  I’m seeing there are many teachers on this path who are still so influenced by 3D thinking, their teaching is out of step for me; no more thinking the problem is with me.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant or superior.  I make no claim to have achieved enlightenment or to have reached some perfected state of Higher Consciousness or even that I spend a significant portion of my time in “5D”.  But something shifted with these realizations and I understand more of who I am, how I operate and what it means to be a borderland person.  Instead of anticipating the arrival of 5D with trepidation for the unknown, I am instead excited about moving into a time when I feel more comfortable because the world has shifted into a mode in which I fit.

I’m still exploring how I feel in this new paradigm for me and what all the stuff about 5D means…. you know, since we haven’t completed the transition and can only speculate about a dimension we’ve not actively experienced.  But I feel myself shifting into a new space as I accept operating on a different plane and with a different set of beliefs about how the world works…

Transition? Limbo?

Lately, besides the usual sluggishness from muscles, headaches, unwinding, etc. I feel like I’m swirling through some kind of transition.  Lots of articles inform me that many of us are experiencing symptoms from ringing ears to sleeplessness to sleeping too much to colds…  Since much of that is part of my norm, I can’t always tell 🙂

Whether it’s another phase of the long healing process or part of some larger transition of energies in the universe, I have been feeling pretty out of it and kind of floating in limbo.  Most days if I try to work on a post I just feel like I don’t really know what to say and that some elusive truth will soon be revealed but now is not the time.

Every now and then in the midst of the floating and coping with symptoms, an epiphany has arisen and in the past few days I’ve hit two of those moments.  The first has to do with me holding a vision of the future.  I’ve been doing it for a long time but, given the long, long-term health issues, there has been a problem for me in seeing myself in the vision as a healthy, energetic person.  It’s been so long, I literally have trouble remembering what it feels like.

But the other day I brought the vision to mind and suddenly, like a cool breeze blew through and changed everything, I saw myself in that future life, healthy.  And finally it seemed real that I could step into a future in which I live my vision and live it as a person of vitality and good health.

Then I started doing some genealogy research again and, after unsuccessfully working on a puzzle regarding my Lightfoot ancestors from Virginia, I started thinking about some of my amazing finds in this effort to fill in my family tree.

For some time I’ve been receiving advice from different directions about calling on my ancestors for help.  As I’ve unearthed a lot of issues I inherited from my ancestors, I’ve been reluctant to do that.  Doing Steve Nobel’s meditation on releasing ancestral issues periodically has really helped.

As I sat there running over the Lightfoots and many other previously-unknown names I’ve uncovered, I suddenly felt this softness come over me and a certainty that they could and would help and I called upon all my ancestors to help me finish untangling these long-held family threads.  Then felt them fill the room with their loving energy.

I don’t know where all this leads but as I sit here with muscles tugging, ears ringing and energy buzzing through me, I feel the winds of change …  again…

Exploring mindfulness


Lately I’ve been noticing that “mindfulness” seems to be everywhere these days –including mainstream news.  As the term is bandied about I’m often surprised by where I’m seeing it or who is talking about it, but as I look at much of what is being said, I question how well many people really understand mindfulness.

In many places I see people speaking of it as if it’s only about controlling your mind as an act of will. To me mindfulness is so much more, I feel a little sad every time I see someone settle for such a narrow idea — or for the particularly American tendency to want to control everything, including the mind.

After sitting with a vipassana group for a year I began seeing how many forms of practice there are in which you can quiet your mind into a single focus and achieve more mindfulness:  yoga practiced with breath, or yoga nidra when followed with focus, or chanting when concentrating on the words of the chant,or pranayama while noting only the breath, etc.  To me the point is using practice to learn how it feels to be in the moment in a state of “empty mind” and peacefulness.

When you keep practicing, your mind starts learning to stay more quiet all the time, the state of calm begins to expand throughout your life, and your whole perspective shifts.  It’s so much more than just wrestling my thoughts into submission in a given moment.

When I complete a practice I’m in a space or a zone that has its own feeling tone.  I feel it in my heart.  I feel the calm throughout my body.  I feel in tune with something larger than myself.  Tapped into the Universe.

To me, mindfulness is more about surrender than controlling or willing anything.  In emptying my mind and flowing with the chant or pose or breath or silence, I let go of managing and fall into what Wayne Dyer called “the gap”.  Over time I also learned surrender involves letting the practices take me wherever they lead.

Plans have gone awry and life has unfolded in ways that would never have crossed my mind if I’d kept trying to follow a blueprint designed long ago.  Sometimes it’s uncomfortable.  Sometimes it’s scary.  I wouldn’t change any of it.  I like the person I’m becoming.  The change from being mercurial to finding equanimity, from neurotic to peaceful, from anxious to calm…

The quiet mind achieved in mindfulness practices doesn’t involve controlling thoughts.  It’s a space encompassing the moment and peace and higher consciousness.  With practice the space begins to fill life more and more with presence in the moment.  From that place of presence, you can choose to hold onto a thought or let it go.

But you don’t learn true mindfulness if you just try to force your mind regularly to moments when you pick different thoughts.  You’re missing so much if you don’t let yourself be taken to the place where mindfulness is a way of being present, calm, connected and new.

New Year Challenge: the positive view

Louise Hay Affirmation

In surprising ways the unfortunate outcome of the 2016 U.S. election wound up leading me to a transformational year in 2017.  One change arose from the outpouring of vitriol that started appearing on social media.  The constant dire warnings, fake news reports and generally combative tone that filled my Facebook wall led me to turn in the other direction.  I began looking for positive news every day and after a while it changed me.

When people write or speak about the terrible problems of the world today, I now just think, “you’re not looking in the right places if you think that represents the majority of the world.”  Seriously.  The media has chosen to emphasize things that frighten people and it suits the powers that be because the fear helps them collect funds for military, police, etc. and to distract people from the real causes of problems by giving them “others” to point the finger at.

We pay a price for the focus offered by our leaders and the media.  It shapes our world view and keeps us from seeing or acknowledging the multitudes of good people and good events that happen all around us.  Julia Bacha discussed this brilliantly in this short piece:

I started hunting around and found The Good News Network, the Positive News Network, the Huffington Post’s good news section, and, to name a few, where I can find stories of heroism, altruism, innovation, environmental turn-arounds, etc. on a daily basis.  I also found groups working for peace and compassion, people promoting compassionate discourse, etc.

After months of looking for good news every day (along with a lot of chanting and meditating), I suddenly realized I could look at the mainstream news and just shrug because I no longer believed it represented a true picture of the world.  My whole outlook has been shifting and the more I seek and find amazing stories of kindness, heroism, ingenuity, etc., the more I believe the world is filled with more good than we let ourselves see.

So my challenge to you for 2018 is:  Look for the good.  Every day, find a story that uplifts or inspires you.  Check out the We Are the World blogfest, for which people post positive stories from around the world every month, as well as the above links to find great stuff.  Search for groups and/or organizations that are working for peace or to help people.

Then I invite you to write about how it has affected you personally to explore the positive side every day.  Sign up here for a month in which you would like to post and when your month arrives, put up your post, link to this post, tag it 2018PositivityChallenge and link to the next person on the list.

I’m starting it off with Feb. 20 to give the first person time enough to search for positive stories and see how it affects him or her.

Feb. 20, 2018

Mar. 20

April 20

May 20

June 20

July 20

August 20

September 20

October 20

December 20

January 20, 2019

Let me know in the comments if you want a particular date.

Being a trailblazer

Last time I talked about a recent phone conversation that has been a big spark for thinking about this transition time I’ve been in.  The same discussion ignited a lengthy examination of my role in being one of the spiritual trailblazers who’ve been moving ahead of the curve.

It’s not how I would usually think of myself.  And even writing about this makes me realize there’s still a big issue to explore about wanting to always be humble and not take credit for anything “big”.  But I started seeing at least 10 or 12 years ago that some of my thinking about a lot of spiritual things and especially the application of spiritual principles in the world, was not in the same place as other people I knew or other people in general on a similar path.

At first, since I tend to be an outsider, I assumed I was just out of step — as usual.  But then one of the many quite psychic body-workers/healers with whom I’ve worked, commented on me being ahead of the curve on this.  Then, a little over two years ago I wrote about an amazing healing experience with Oshunnike, who made an even more pointed observation while she worked (and I was completely out of it and hadn’t said anything) that I am way out there ahead of where most people are in what I understand and the work I’ve been trying to do and it’s going to be hard for me for a while — and lonely.  She literally pulled this observation out of the air — 🙂 seemingly — as I’d not mentioned anything about this.  Two years ago and it’s still hard…

On the one hand it felt SO good to have this confirmation of feelings I’d barely acknowledged or allowed myself to note and on the other it was hard to accept the idea of me as a trailblazer.  But her words and that thought stayed with me and I’ve realized the truth of it more and more.  My reaction to the U.S. election last year and the aftermath have been bringing increasing clarity to how radically different my understanding is from the way most people see it or react to it.

I’m so grateful that I have friends who “get it” and I’ve been hoping to reach out more toward those who do.  Thus my gratitude is so enormous for having this great conversation show up — with a friend I rarely get to talk with at length — and for the wave of realizations it has brought.  Just having someone talking to me about it made me feel weepy.

Again, one of the things it has me contemplating is how I seem to have gathered a community here in the blogging world of people who get it — and I’m coming to understand it’s possibly the main reason I was drawn to do this.  So again, I’m interested to hear from you all about this trailblazer thing — your experience of being ahead of the curve on understanding how the world works and how far outside the mainstream understanding it is.

I’m wondering if there is some way we can support one another more than by just reading and commenting?  I’m sensing those of us in the advance troops could use some assistance in holding an energy space together, to join our energies in the forward movement to a new age.

What do you all think?

Dungeon Prompts: Needing Some Inspiration

This week’s Dungeon Prompt:

When you’re feeling down or just need a push forward with your day, where do you look for inspiration?  What drives you, or keeps you smiling?  Or when you’re really down, what keeps you alive, and getting out of bed each morning?  You don’t have to write about a major presence or source of inspiration in your life, but can just tell us about one of the little things that elevate you in some way.

One of the best things about 30+ years of yoga and meditation, as well as a lot of emotional processing thrown in along the way, is that I rarely feel “really down” or depressed.  I DO however struggle with frustration over the long trek with physical ill-health as well as the normal ups and downs of life and have days when I really need to shift.

I have a whole toolkit of cures for what ails me emotionally and/or spiritually, with variations to suit different circumstances:

  1. I start every morning with waking up and aligning my chakras by visualizing the energy spinning in each one from root to crown as soon as I wake up.  It helps me start the day in balance and with more energy.  Then I mentally list a few “gratitudes”.  Some days that’s enough to set the tone all day.
  2. If I’m feeling logy because of the muscles interfering with sleep, I do either the 8 Key Breaths or Flying Crane Chi Gung or the 5 Tibetan Rites or a combination.  They not only balance energy and align the chakras, but open and build the flow of energy so I’m more energized as well as calm and in balance.
  3. If I’m feeling uneasy or anxious, I like to do Yoga Nidra or a series of chants.  My current favorite roster of chants is to say the lovingkindness chant for 10 minutes, then sing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti.  After I practice Yoga Nidra or chanting I feel balanced, calmed and my heart is open and full.  Can’t be open-hearted and anxious at the same time.
  4. When my writing is feeling stuck, I do writing practices a la Natalie Goldberg. Get out a notebook and a pen, pick a topic (usually out of her suggested exercises in Writing Down the Bones or Wild Mind, set timer for 10-20 minutes and let fly.  It doesn’t work if I type, gotta sit down and write by hand.
  5. One of my almost daily practices is to spend some time sitting on our sun porch either with a laptop or a notebook, enjoying the sunniness and looking out into the garden as I work. It gives me a lift every time.
  6. In nice weather one of the best mood-boosters I have is to just go for a short walk someplace that inspires me.  Fortunately there’s a very nice park right behind the houses across the street, so it’s easy.  I also love going to Ashland, Henry Clay’s estate, to walk around on the grounds.  When I’m in Marin there’s a 1-1/2 mile walk in a loop around the hills where I house sit (and used to live) that puts me in a place of joy every time I walk it.
  7. For 2 or 3 years now I’ve been doing a daily e-mail check-in with a long-time (40+ years!) friend.  Each day we say (1) how we’re feeling, (2) what we intend to do that day, (3) three things we’re grateful for, and (4) anything that brought joy.  It really helps to stay mindful, keeps a focus on all the good that’s happening and most especially it is so helpful to have someone  with whom to check in about it all every day.  And I’m very grateful the internet allows us to do this in spite of 400 miles between 🙂

The biggest thing for me is realizing that if something feels “off” then energy is in some way out of balance.  The main focus for me is thus maintaining alignment and balance in my chakras, my energy, my body.  When it’s all open and aligned, it’s just about impossible to feel down (which is not to say that it alleviates personal grief or shock but it does help to keep those things from overwhelming life).

Most of the time I try to rotate among a number of these practices enough to hold a place of equilibrium without having to stop and do one of them to get back on track.  But getting off track is pretty easy; as long as I can stay tuned in enough to realize I need to do something and then to “feel” which practice would serve, being “really down” is an infrequent to nonexistent feeling for me.