Compassion for the Unlikeable

In my last post I explored the puzzling contradictions of the right wing evangelical movement.  It’s easy for liberals and leftists and spiritual types who pursue love and peace to shake their fists in fury and despise the hatefulness and hypocrisy rampant in the white nationalist propensities of so many folks who call themselves Christians.

Except fist shaking and fury are, you know, hateful too.  I’m guilty of it and up to a point I see it as a good thing to initially feel angry when people lack humanity and are prepared to sacrifice the lives of every group they don’t like.

But at some point it seems to me true compassion requires a step back and the application of humanitarian instincts even to those who seem to have no compassion of their own.  Brotherly love isn’t just for those with whom it’s easy to empathize.  At its heart it requires the ability to dig deep and find love for everyone, even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard.

I see the hatefulness of the right wing as arising from huge fear.  It would be tempting to offer my theories as to why they’re so afraid (and trust me, I have some), but I also feel like Right Listening requires us to engage in a conversation with them that helps them to dig deep and offer their own truth about fear or to tell us it’s something else.

And then to ask them what would help to assuage the fear. Discuss programs and possibilities and really hear their input instead of the usual pattern of designing a program from outside and imposing it on people without finding out what they want.

At this point, like many I know, I’d pretty much vote for anybody not the guy we’ve got now, but I wish we’d see some of the liberals putting some attention on healing our great divide by turning some compassion toward the “other side”.

Sage advice: muscles

My knowledge of muscles is taken from many places.  From a section on anatomy and muscles in my yoga teacher training, to info on muscles liberally dispensed by yoga teachers and multiple body work therapists to reading on my own, I’ve been learning about muscles for 30+ years.

The key factor I would emphasize is that most of us are woefully ignorant about our muscles and the central role they play in our health, well-being and ability to get around.  Western medicine largely ignores muscles, so many problems go undetected because they don’t even look for damage when you’ve fallen or been in an accident.

It’s worth learning about your muscles and seeking assistance outside of allopathic medicine in order to maintain muscle health and to restore it to balance after injury.

Emotions and muscles

Since this is everyone’s least favorite aspect, let’s get it out of the way 🙂  At times of trauma and/or drama we tighten our muscles and often the emotions evoked by these events wind up locked in knots in the muscle.

When you start opening the muscles, whether through practicing yoga, getting body work or treatments like acupuncture, those emotions and the memories associated with them are going to surface.

I think it’s one of the biggest reasons body work may plateau; resistance to remembering and/or releasing leads the person unconsciously to tighten.  In yoga people prevent these openings by getting out of a pose as soon as the muscle starts to relax enough to let those memories and feelings rise up.

Getting clear of old issues almost always needs to include some work on muscles in order to open the flow and restore essence.

Strength and Flexibility

America has somehow come to the conclusion that healthy muscles need only to be strong.  It’s a persistent misconception even though multitudes of people who work only on strength have wound up suffering pain from the impact of having muscles that are rigid but incapable of flexing.

Natural movement through the world requires muscles to have both the strength to make certain movements and hold certain parts of the body upright and the flexibility to allow you to balance, and to adjust to the motions life throws at you and, even more important, to allow vital force energy to flow throughout your body.

The nadis, or energy channels, through which prana (chi, qi, vital energy…) moves go through the muscles.  Rigid muscles restrict that flow.  Western thinking and medicine understands very little about energy, but energy and its ability to circulate is crucial mentally, physically and spiritually to good health.

After 32 years of yoga I’m prejudiced, of course, but I think it’s one of the best ways to get your muscles into the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.  A good yoga practice works on balance on many levels and one of the important features of a good practice is performing poses for both strength and stretch.

The Pain Place and the Source of Pain May Not Be the Same

The first serious massage therapist for me used a combo of sports medicine and the trigger point therapy theories of Dr. Janet Travell, particularly as shaped by Bonnie Prudden in Myotherapy.  Because muscles are interconnected, a holding pattern in one area will spread –given enough time, tightness can spread throughout your body — and may create a tight spot that hurts somewhere else.

If you work only where the pain is, you will not get rid of the problem.  Practitioners who know how to follow patterns* can figure out where the source of the problem really is.  When that piece releases, others will be easy to open.

Margaret, that first practitioner, often worked on my neck, couldn’t get anything to budge, moved down to a giant ball of knotted muscles at the top of my achilles tendon, worked there and then went back to my neck, where the muscles would now respond.

In Body Patterning, practitioners learn to see patterns in muscles and will often release several other areas before working on the place where you’ve indicated pain.  They’re releasing pieces that are holding that one and the spot you may think is central will not let go while the other patterns hold.

Another aspect of this is that your brain will numb out much of the pain if you have tight, sore muscles all over (or in many places).  Then it will zero in on one or two specific parts where you will experience the pain.  They’re not necessarily the places of origin for your problem.  Sometimes the pain is just referring from the pattern that’s the real issue.

Find a good practitioner –making sure you check on the training and experience — and trust him or her to work wherever you most need it regardless of whether that turns out to be the place where you feel pain.

When I do Flowing Body work on myself or with students, I generally do triggers of release for at least three areas and work with consciousness not only of before and after, but what has been affected by what.  For instance, during a recent knee problem, I did the triggers for ankles, knees and hips and noticed the ankle release did the most for the sore knee and the hip release was also more effective than the knee releases.

Another I’ve noted frequently, as have many students, is that releasing the ankles will often release something in the neck and/or jaw.  Almost every release will cause people to lower their shoulders even if no work has been done on shoulders.  Pay attention as you practice yoga or other exercises as to which movements bring relief where.

Muscles and Bones

Many muscles are connected to bones which means muscles pulled out of alignment can pull bones out of alignment too.  In the early years of trying to work my way out of fibromyalgia –harking back to Margaret again — the massage therapist prescribed chiropractic appointments to help.

Once the muscles have pulled bones out of whack, it often takes work on the bones as well to get the muscles to release.  If you’re not keen on the invasiveness of traditional chiropractic work, try Network Chiropractic. which doesn’t use the bone crunching technique and instead is gentle touch.

Therapy and Self Care

Over time I learned that body workers can help a lot but if I don’t do anything to help in between appointments, progress is exceedingly slow.  There are a variety of things you can do to help

I’d already been doing yoga when I began getting massages, etc. so that has always been a natural piece for me.  But it was when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area that I became conscious of helping along more.

I’d moved out to Marin but still wanted to go to the same massage therapist and also liked going to Kabuki Hot Springs, a Japanese bath place with wonderful sauna, hot tub, steam, etc.  To save trips over the bridge I started booking the massages on one of the ladies’ days at Kabuki and going in to soak, sauna, etc. first.  The therapist quickly noted my muscles were much easier to work on from the deep heat work right before the appointment.

Then, years later when I started doing a trade for Body Patterning, I only had an appointment every other week and I knew I needed to do something to maintain from one visit to the next.  Yoga had always helped but not enough.  And the commute to Kabuki Hot Springs had become a couple thousand miles 🙂

I’d done Robert Masters’ Psycho-physical Method to tapes for years but found it unwieldy for regular practice.  I began doing some of this work in between appointments and gradually re-worked it into sets of my own which dropped some pieces and joined various disparate parts in his classes into sets that worked well together and then combined it with yoga

Practice in between helped and I began a practice of doing 30-60 minutes of this work shortly before massage appointments, with a long soak in a hot bath right before leaving.  Suddenly I was being told that I had released more since the last appointment.

Normally practitioners get a number of things to open and then a combination of repetitive motions performed in life and the pulling force of patterns still holding in your body take the progress backwards a few steps (say 4 steps forward, 2-3 steps back).  Then at the next appointment the practitioner spends 15-30 of the first minutes of your appointment getting you back to where you were at the end of the last appointment.

So doing your part through practices that maintain progress and making sure you’ve done all you could before an appointment, you can move much faster through the body work to healthy muscles.  Very little time needs to be spent on getting you back to where you were and most of the appointment is about progressing further.

Problems Arise Slowly

It’s amazing how little it can take to start a problem with muscles and then it may take years before you feel the pain.  Yup.  Years.

I know I try the patience of some of my students with my emphasis on form in doing yoga and they don’t really believe me when I tell them doing it wrong can cause injuries.  If they’re not being wheeled out on a gurney at the end of class, to them there was no injury.

But do a pose wrong — or watch TV daily with your head turned or tilted or sit with your hips uneven, etc. — and keep doing it wrong and one or more muscles can be pulled a little out of place and/or strained enough to create a small knot.

At the time and perhaps for some time to come you probably won’t feel any pain at all.  But you’ve started a pattern. And if it goes untreated, the muscle will lock into the slightly-off-position and the first couple of knots will pull more of the muscle into knots.  Once that muscle is far enough out of whack it will start pulling all the muscles around it and causing them to tighten.

You might have started off pulling a muscle in your right hip out of place and a few years later it’s expanded until you’re having pain in your left shoulder and since you haven’t even done yoga for two years, you have no idea that doing it wrong started your problem.

The same is also true of having an injury and failing to get help.  You may stay off an ankle for a few days or go on bed rest for a spell and feel okay enough when you move again. But there’s a very good chance the trauma and the automatic tightening of muscles around it has set a little pattern.  Left untreated the pattern will remain and keep reaching out to affect more muscles.

The best way to protect your muscles from injury is to stay aware in the now.  Learn to do any exercise properly — and if your teacher can’t carefully explain the details of how to do something correctly, FIND A DIFFERENT TEACHER!!!  Also take care about positions you engage in routinely — how you sit, how you hold your head.

If you do an assessment and realize you’ve been twisting your neck when you sleep or sitting with one hip higher than the other, etc., seek help on identifying any patterns that have arisen and releasing them before they’ve turned into 20 patterns.

Bottom line, your muscles are important and you are the best steward in maintaining health.  Do what you can to keep them healthy and any time you have an accident or injury or feel a strain from repetitive motion seek help from alternative practitioners who actually understand muscles.


*i.e. cranio-sacral or body patterning

Revisit tips for the holidays: people skills

For some years I posted some tips for coping with the holidays every year and then I drifted away from it. Thought I’d re-issue one with some links to others:

dont beat drum quote

Every year at this time I post about a teaching from Kahuna teacher Serge King that has had an enormous impact on my life.  Serge likes to keep it short and simple, so the basic principle is:  “People are who they are and they do what they do.

I believe that if everyone in the world learned this one and lived by it, peace would soon follow.  As with many of his seemingly simple teachings, if you started exploring this one you’ll find it has tremendous depth.

The greatest source of disappointment, frustration, and anger toward others arises from having your own agenda/expectations about who you want them to be and how you want them to act/what you want them to do..The deep reality is that people are who they are and they are going to do what they do based on who they are.  You can wish or will others to be somebody else as much you want.  You may even occasionally manipulate someone into doing something that’s not what they want.  But in the long run no one can be anyone other than who they are.

Your best defense, if you want to avoid being disappointed or upset by others, is to know them well enough to know who they are.  Know what they do.  Expect them to be who they are and do what they do.  You’ll never be surprised by anyone’s behavior if you really know them.

And then realize who they are and what they do isn’t about you.  Pretty much ever; even when someone attacks you, the attack has everything to do with who they are and nothing to do with you.  So Don Miguel Ruiz’s advice, “Don’t take anything personally”, fits very well with this teaching.  People are busy being who they are and doing what they do and none of it has anything to do with you.  So don’t take it personally.

Is Aunt Murgatroyd going to tell unfunny jokes at the annual gathering, as always?  Of course she is.  It’s who she is and what she does.  Is your cousin Snagglepuss going to bore everyone AGAIN with stories of his really dull job?  You bet.  Who he is, what he does.  Is your overly protective dad going to criticize you like he always does?  If his way of showing care is to fret and pick apart anything that doesn’t fit his view, then yup.  Gonna do it.  If he’s an unhappy guy who criticizes to express his dissatisfaction with the world, that’s who he is…  gotta figure he’s gonna do it.

If you walk in with a chip on your shoulder because you know the irritating behavior(s) are going to arise but you’re secretly hoping it will be different, you’re going to get what you’re expecting:  unhappiness and dejection.  A lot of times we enter these situations knowing what they’ll do and expecting to be angry because of it.  And you’ll pretty much get what you’re expecting — ongoing cycles of them being who they are and you being angry.

If you expect anyone to do anything other than what s/he does, you’re doomed to disappointment.  When you can walk in knowing they’ll all be there being themselves and doing what they do, you’ll get what you knew you would.  Know that nothing they do is about hurting, irritating, upsetting or disappointing you.  They’re just being themselves.

When you can step aside from the behavior, know that it’s about them and not you, and stay centered, you can defuse most of the emotional turmoil that can make the holidays stressful.

The question we’ll explore in the next post is:  can you love them anyway?

Love Them Anyway

Communication

Recognizing Love When It is Offered

Unconditional Compassion

Ever since the election, it’s seemed to me that the liberal left (and I’m a member) has been patting themselves on the back and feeling self-righteous because they’re the people of compassion and caring.  And the other side are evildoers and deserving of hatred.  It bothers me, because my understanding of true compassion is that it’s unconditional.

I’m a work in progress when it comes to living with compassion; not claiming to be operating from the ideal place.  But I’ve contemplated it, done practices to develop it within and read a lot of the thoughts and wisdom of people who have mastered it better than I and I think I understand the basic idea that true compassion doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t see an “other”.

Hanging around calling people idiots or stupid or worse demonstrates that you are just as hateful as they are  It sure doesn’t argue for your great sense of compassion.

When I look at some of the hatefulness and dip into my heart and sense of compassion, I see people who are totally frightened.  I don’t know why or have the answers that will end their fears, but I know that understanding the fear and figuring out how to address it is more likely to shift their terrified and hateful responses to the world than calling them stupid.

To me the biggest failure of democrats and the left has been the absence of using their hearts to explore how to address the fears of those who become self-protective and lash out at those they wrongfully blame for their troubles.

But while political types are working on their idea of change, I keep clearing every issue I find within myself.  I keep meditating and chanting and working to raise my vibration.  Because in the end the one significant contribution each of us can make to the collective energy that is All of Us as One is to raise our own energy.

Every time I shout at the television or shake my fist at one of the candidates, it means I still have anger to clear.  It means I still have more chanting to do.

Every time we lift ourselves another notch in vibration, we lift the world a little bit.  If a million of us raise our energy, we change the world.  Be the peace.  Live with compassion that knows no other nor any conditions, but is given freely to all.

Being Peace: Where’s Your Focus

Louise Hay Affirmation

People keep telling me how bad the world is, how depressing, violent, etc.  And I keep trying to tell everyone it really is NOT.  For some time now I’ve been actively seeking positive news (see previous post) and, in doing so, have discovered the world is full of amazing and wonderful people accomplishing amazing and wonderful things every day!  It really comes down to a choice we all make about where we put our focus.  And why.

Governments and mainstream media have their own reasons for focusing on negative stories.  The fear they create justifies big budgets for police and military, the media keep people stirred up and it sells more of their product(s).  Because society has accepted these views and continues to support those who foment them, the negativity just continues.

I’ve embedded this video several times now because I feel it’s such an important message (and it’s only 10 minutes). She’s exploring the impact of having all attention on negative news and suppressing the multitudes of stories of people working for peace, helping the environment, making scientific breakthroughs, etc.  The negativity keeps people divided, which only helps those in power to keep their power and to keep the rest of us dis-empowered, poor, struggling…

Even among people I know who are deeply spiritual and well aware of the power of positivity, there are those who are caught in a cycle of doom and gloom about the current state of the world.  One thing I’ve learned in many years of seeking is this:  when people are stuck on an issue like that, whether personal or political or affecting all humanity, somewhere in them is an issue fueling their negative focus.

I’m putting several positive stories a day on Facebook, so many of the folks who are staying negative have an opportunity each day to look in a different direction.  But they don’t.  Why choose to focus on bad news and refuse to notice the good?

So I’m thinking these days about questions like:

  • what are you getting from holding onto this fear/anger?
  • what do you believe about life or the world that holds you in this place and when did that belief begin?
  • what can be done to heal the negative thinking patterns and/or shift them into positive ones?

As you know, I’ve been using ho’oponopono to explore issues for a long time.  When the bad news starts to “get” me, I begin asking questions like the above and I start working with the prayer:

  • For every way in which I hold negative patterns, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For every unresolved issue in me fueling anger and fear, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For every part of me which sees an “other” who is separate and unlikeable/unloveable, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
  • For my failures at living in compassion and love and being peace, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

Another way to help change negative thinking is to use affirmations.  I like to create a few which I keep repeating every time I catch my thoughts on certain tracks (this changes over time, so it means creating new ones…) and I also play a lot of recordings of affirmations in the background.

I’ve created a long tape of affirmation recordings from Dick Sutphen which is on Spotify, Steve Nobel has lots of affirmations recordings on YouTube and it’s easy to create a list.  Hay House has offered some nice affirmations recordings from Louise Hay for free.  There are millions more options.

Sometimes the deep issues creating negativity require help from a therapist or pursuing a process like Fisher Hoffman or Choices or the Diamond Heart work of H. Almaas.  While clearing issues isn’t exactly fun work, the relief and freedom that flow from releasing old stuff is so immense, so lightening, so transformational, it winds up feeling great!

Every time one of us clears old negative thinking and offers positive energy into the web, the world inches closer to peace, a healthy environment, and compassion.  The more you heal, the easier it is to stay drawn to the positive and good.  It’s time to empower the peacemakers, the inventors of answers, the compassion holders instead of the corrupt and hateful.

I know most of my regular readers already get this.  But I bet most of you know people who are caught up in the angst of these times, so please pass along the notion that looking at the positive or the negative is a CHOICE.

A few posts from the past about positive thinking (and check out the Journey to Peace tab above):

Dipping into Peace and Love

A another blogger — also a friend — asked me recently to post something about being peace.  I’ve been re-reading old posts and giving it some thought ever since, without quite landing on what I’d like to write.

In the meantime I felt drawn to yet another Steve Nobel meditation and I think it will make a nice opener to what I’m thinking may be a series of posts reflecting on peace.

This one, “The Sun Goddess Amaterasu Transmission. Embracing A Higher Flow of Pure Grace” is almost entirely about filling with grace and love and light from the Divine Feminine and I found it amazing.  If enough of us start resonating with this level of grace and love most or all of the time the world will shift…

Outage blessing: a shift

A couple of weeks ago a big storm took out electricity for a couple of day (previous post) and then our phone/tv/internet service went down for a week.  When the electricity came back but the other stuff was still out I pulled out some DVDs to have something to watch.

I’d been drawn for a while to re-watch some “positive” stuff, like Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” or “What the Bleep”.  But you know, have to remember how to get in DVD mode and find the stuff to watch, so it kept getting put off…  But with DVD the only possibility, the draw became compelling.  So I started with the Louise Hay.  As I watched for what was probably the sixth or eigth time since i bought it, I suddenly felt like a switch flipped.

Having been aware of her mirror work for years, I finally actually went through all the exercises in one of her more recent books about it a couple of years ago.  I enjoyed it and felt like it did some good, though years of work on similar things meant it didn’t feel like a big change happened.  But I’ve long been aware of a gap for me between my intellectual understanding about positive thinking and my ability to hold on to positive thoughts.

Many people I’ve known over the years have seemed to just flip a switch upon encountering Ms. Hay or Eckhart Tolle or whichever “you create your reality” guru they found.  It’s always amazed me that someone could turn it around so fast.  Sometimes I realized they became very good at saying only positive things but it didn’t necessarily mean they’d really cleared the negative thoughts or explored their origins…

On my journey I realized in increments over many years that lots of old personal and ancestral issues created endlessly looping negative tapes in my thought patterns and that I didn’t know how to turn them off.  It’s taken years of release work, self-examination and creating positive thought loops to progress slowly into a more positive mindset.

But suddenly as Louise and friends discussed loving yourself and mirror work, something in me went, “yes, of course, I love myself.”  I’ve been smiling and looking in the mirror to repeat variations of loving myself affirmations daily ever since and spontaneously looping positive thoughts through my mind at intervals each day.

I’ve waited a while to write about this, wondering how well it would stick.  Must admit the constancy of it has faded a bit over the course of a couple of weeks (probably time to watch the video again?), but by and large I’m still finding myself running affirmations through my mind and smiling into the mirror daily.

It feels like a big shift.  One that was fed by all the work on shifting, sorting, examining and changing that went before, but a shift nonetheless.  Quite a blessing to receive from an outage!

The week+ with no Internet or t.v. has also changed my viewing and on line habits a bit, as I actually watch instead of half watching more things, take more time away from computer and t.v. to read, cook, weed, etc.  I have to say, frustrating as it was, the blessings were greater than the inconvenience.

J2P: Clear ancestral fear, clear current fear?

As my regular readers know, I’m big on clearing issues and have been quite fascinated about ancestral fears and beliefs and how they pass down.  So a chunk of the time I’ve been spending on Steve Nobel’s many meditations has been spent on various ones focused on clearing ancestral lines of fear and negativity.

Such guided meditations are always intriguing to me as I rarely can point to a tangible provable outcome in the world and say it resulted from meditating.  But doing these many clearings has certainly had my energy shifting and buzzing and left me feeling often unbalanced and…  odd.

Yesterday I decided to dust off an old meditation I was taught 30+ years ago by the transpersonal psychologist who introduced me to all this “spiritual stuff”.  In this one you follow a specific path to reach a council of guides and then ask questions.

One of the areas they spent time on was all this energy shifting.  They told me I’ve been shifting so much so fast it’s all having trouble catching up and that the huge amounts of ancestral clearing are also creating big shifts for thousands of cousins, many of whom are quite distant on the family tree.  Again one of those things you take on faith … or not.  Up to you.

I believe we can have an impact.  The meditation left me thinking about what I know about my tree and the current climate of fear among a portion of the populace who are allowing the fear to dictate their support of some pretty scary stuff.

On my mother’s side, a huge portion of the direct line ancestors were Scots-Irish, which has led me to study up some on the migration experience of this group.  It turns out many of these Presbyterians, who moved into mountain areas of the south and then fanned across the south and beyond, wound up becoming Baptists or other fundamentalist denominations because of the dearth of Presbyterian ministers in those remote places.

While my direct family stayed Presbyterian and became more urban, I’m pretty sure, based on the history, a lot of those cousins in other branches of the family became the folks who vote for Republicans, join the KKK and like the current so-called President.

In a big wave of realization I felt the clearing I’ve been doing reaching down through the ancestral lines and then flowing back to heal people I don’t even know but am related to in the present.

My long research into genealogy has led me to realize we’re all related to millions of people we don’t know, with surnames we’ve never heard.  When you start clearing and healing ancestral issues, you impact a wider range of people than you know.

For instance my 10x great-grandfather, William Brewster, has millions of descendants currently.  He and his wife are just one couple among 4,095 sets of 10x great-grandparents, each of whom probably has millions of current descendants.

In the notion of one big web of energy, these family ties show how deeply we really are connected.  So imagine working on clearing your ancestral lineages of fear and negative beliefs and then that your clearing is energetically impacting millions of others.  Imagine a whole bunch of us doing this clearing can help to heal fear for millions upon millions of people.

There are lots of ways to work on ancestral issues, so if you’re not drawn to these meditations there are plenty of ways you can work on healing.  Most shamanic traditions, for instance, include practices for healing ancestors.  Long distance Reiki can be used through time as well as space, so you can send healing to your ancestors.  Several years ago I wrote a post with a list of suggestions and a description of a ceremony I led.

Steve Nobel’s Transmissions often contain a thread of healing for ancestors and I’ve done too many to be able to point you to every one containing such a thread, but these three specifically address ancestral and karmic healing and I’ve found them very powerful:

Imagine the possibility a whole bunch of us could help to heal the fear…

J2P: Moving toward a loving heart

I know, long time since you’ve seen a Journey 2 Peace post.  Peace, love and compassion have been on my mind lately — or always? — and I’m finally seeing more essays in which people are calling for the power of love as the force we need to change, so I felt moved to return to J2P.

To me there are two parts to creating a peaceful, loving heart:

  1. clear away any negatives, lower energies, issues from your being
  2. fill yourself with love, raise your energy vibration

I’ve been working at both the clearing and the filling/raising for years.  Recently I’ve been a bit more interested in the second part than the first, but last year after being introduced to Steve Nobel’s meditations, I fell in love and in part because they address both.

For nearly a year now I’ve been trying out various of his meditations, repeating some numerous times and always intrigued to try another new one.  One of the things I really love about them is that virtually every one starts with some amount of clearing old energies.  Some spend quite a bit of the meditation just on clearing.  Some clear first and then work on raising energy or filling with love, etc.  Some mainly balance chakras but do some negativity and lower energy clearing as part of working on each one.

All of them leave me feeling energized and elevated.  Some of them rock me for days as the clearing and filling work their way through.

The latest one I’ve fallen in love with is The Archangel Chamuel Transmission:  Becoming a Lighthouse of Love and Healing Light.  Everything I aim for all in one meditation.

 

Women and humans and all

In recent months I’ve read a lot of articles about White Privilege, schooling me in the many ways I automatically am privileged because of the color of my skin.  I kind of knew that, but it has been chilling to read whole collections detailing the experience of being a person of color in America.

One thing I kept noticing, though. in articles by women:  some of the incidents they described left me frowning and thinking, “that happens to me too.  It didn’t happen because you’re Black, it happened because you’re a woman.”  Which is not to say they didn’t also describe plenty of examples stemming entirely from racism, but something really struck me about the way issues that might really be about gender seemed to be categorized as issues of race.

While white men remain at the top of the heap in terms of privilege and white women fare better than women of color, when it comes to gender rather than race, men of every color seem to do better on pay scales and advancement than women of any color (it’s a little hard to calculate because most studies break it down by the women’s races but not, say, white women compared to black men).  Pondering that, I began wondering how much more power the women’s movement would have if ALL women banded together to demand gender equality as the biggest issue they endorse.

This brought me back to one of the notions I’ve pondered for years, relating to how splintered the movements for rights in general are.  From women to LGBT to Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, etc. the quest for rights is divided up into pockets of people agitating for the same rights but for specific groups.  And I keep thinking, “what if we all joined together to be FOR human rights?”

How much power could we wield, how much change could we bring if all these groups who seek justice and equality joined together and sought them for all?  Just thinkin’….  and wonderin’… and dreamin’

Practices and Changes

Some years ago I wrote about how much I loved practicing the 8 Key Breaths, the Five Tibetan Rites and Flying Crane Chi Gung.  I’d turned to those three for their combined impacts on opening energy flow, building energy and balancing energy.

After faithfully practicing for 5 or 6 years, I started slowly moving into doing kundalini yoga more and always sliding in some sets of my flowing body work.  I’ve never dropped the energy practices, but I’ve rarely done all three.  I’m probably most faithful about the 8 Key Breaths, which I have loved since I first learned them in 1990, with the 5 Rites landing in second place.

Tuesday I felt really drawn to do the three for the first time in ages.  Not only did it feel amazing, but because of the opening unfolding in my body, I could feel energy moving through places I’ve not felt it before. And the fullness and flow of energy in the hara, or sea of chi,… wow… amazing.  It’s been one of the most thrilling things about the slow healing of the many issues in my muscles:  revisiting practices after time gaps and feeling the energy of it.

While I’ve always felt energy build in that area during tai chi or qigong practice, I’ve also been aware the energy wasn’t as full as it should be, nor did flow through the whole area.  So the sense of the bigness of the energy and how well it flowed through both second (where hara is located) and third chakras was a big eye-opener for how much progress my muscles have made.

Much of the super tight core in my face that’s unwinding now is connected into patterns going all the way down my body, so each time a knot or two opens, I feel impacts all the way down.  This was the most intense moment of realizing what this opening means for the flow of energy.  Wow.

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.