See No Stranger: an inspiring read

The law was designed to colonize and control the rest of us, not set us free. And yet the founders had invoked words whose power even they could not constrain–justice, freedom, equality, the guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These were magical words that had a power of their own and seized the imagination of the people for whom they were never meant. In every generation, people had risen up in movements to unleash the magic of these words, to bleed for these words and expand the “we” in “we the people” to include more and more of us. Constitutional Law was an archive of these expansions and contractions.

Kaur, Valerie, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World, 2020), p. 177

I’ve been reading Valerie Kaur’s excellent book, See No Stranger and not only enjoying the book but fascinated by the inner roads its content leads me down. The book is a combo of autobiography and a history of the Revolutionary Love movement she founded.

Ms. Kaur is a Sikh whose family came to the U.S. several generations ago and her commitment to change/transformation began in the wake of 2001 and the backlash of hatred in which many Sikhs suffered violence and death. There were some respects in which her path and mine were similar, politically speaking. I was inspired by the Viet Nam war and the things I learned in college about the many ways our country did not live up to its hype as a welcoming place of freedom.

We both continued to follow those convictions, learning more via things we studied in college, graduate school and then law school. The big difference was that, from the beginning, she “got” how to make every right move from joining with like-minded people, to taking internships and positions that connected her to a more powerful network, to figuring out how to inspire change in a whole community. I never knew how to be that smart about the moves I made; instead I kind of blundered along, studying, volunteering, trying to find jobs that let me help, etc.

One big difference was I homed in, in college, on the “power elite’ aspect of our problem. I quickly understood how deeply the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of the rich and powerful impacts our government and our lives. I studied it from many angles and throughout my anti-war/hippie crowd of friends I talked about it till they told me I was boring. But no one wanted to hear this.

So it’s a little bit hard to launch a movement if you can’t convince anyone there’s even a problem to address. Of course we are now seeing in our country how deeply the rich and corporate factions have affected our lives and that the right wing group is trying to destroy democracy in favor of the rich basically doing whatever they want while everyone struggles, starves, suffers, etc.

But I will admit, I grew up just thinking you got an education and got a job and things fell into place, so I was clueless about seeking out networks, taking positions that would seat me next to power, etc. I can see how many times and ways I failed to make moves that might have put me in a better position to be an influencer.

My dad spent many years at Buick as a second in command in a department which he pretty much ran while a variety of others kept getting promoted over him and then on to higher positions without ever having really done anything in his department. It was years before I realized it boiled down to those other men knowing how to play the political game and my dad hanging out believing that if you worked hard and did the right thing you’d be rewarded. That’s just how I grew up.

What I did do always was to find where I could volunteer to help with environmental issues or get a job where those issues were addressed, attended rallies and marches for many causes and wrote lots of letters to senators and reps. Just a quiet dedication to trying to do something, however small. And I know the world needs the foot soldiers who just do those little things.

But I always kinda wanted to be more like Valarie, moving into a position to influence and really impact change. Very inspiring to read her book. And I love her Revolutionary Love movement!

Unwinding update

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on the unwinding muscles in my face and head. The process has been relentless for most of the last year, without regard to how many other things claimed time and attention (like my mother’s hospital and nursing home stays, etc.). And it’s been down at the core for so long I’ve regularly thought I’d be able to start posting the “Unwound” series I’ve long been planning.

But it’s still going. And it’s been more debilitatingly constant since my mother’s death than ever. It’s become so rare to sleep for an entire night, I can’t actually tell you the last time I did. The awe-inspiring part is feeling these granite-like ropes of muscle open and how blood and prana begin to flow in places where nothing has gone through for decades. Or looking across at a bookshelf or objects on the counter and realizing I’m seeing them more clearly at the distance I’m standing than ever.

The more the energy opens up, the more I’m connecting with the “inner voice” that I’ve blocked so long. The opening is also restoring a lot of energy flow. I’ve noted before how very much energy it takes both to hold onto those tight knots and twists and for blood, oxygen, prana, etc. to fight to find pathways through your body. So the more open I become the better I feel — especially helpful since I’m not getting nearly enough sleep.

Not surprising, all this shifting in my physical body, which has always related to both personal and ancestral issues, is creating some shifts in my life. And it feels like a big one is looming. Not just the fact that I’m moving to another state, something else feels large and near.

Such mixed feelings keep flowing through about leaving this town that’s not only been home longer than any other place I’ve lived, but has such deep ancestral roots for me. For a while I got strong messages indicating it’s time to let go and it may be better to live some place where I don’t have so many nostalgic childhood associations. Then a friend who has amazing abilities to tune in psychically said I’m corded here and I just need to let go of the cord. As soon as we hung up I threw up, accompanied by a strong sensation of letting go.

One of the teachings in the Fisher-Hoffman process I went through long ago is that the final piece of letting go of Mother is literally “throwing up mother”. I also felt strongly a letting go re: mom in that moment and that the cord my friend saw included her.

In the meantime I’m down to about 3 weeks before I’m aiming to move and I’m caught in the house with a ton of Mom’s stuff still here, estate sale places telling me nothing has enough value for them to do a sale, working madly to sort, dump, shred decades of paperwork she left behind, extract the belongings I want to take with me and get them packed, figure out handling the reverse mortgage people, choosing between U-Haul and moving company… and doing it all on way too little sleep accompanied by lots of buzzy, weird feelings and nausea and headaches all due to the wild unwinding muscles.

Fun times. Not…

The upside is through all of it I feel all of this transition from the loss of my mother to the loss of my home to starting over in a new place to finally reaching the end of an unbelievably long healing journey with my muscles is leading to the massively transformed life I’ve worked, shifted, transitioned toward for 37 years.

What does “my own schedule” look like?

Since Mom’s death, several people have asked me about my new “freedom” of schedule now that I don’t have all the caretaking duties. From my perspective I just traded one set of time-dictating “musts” for another. And it has me contemplating how we all so often set up our days by the “musts”.

Losing my mother set off an emotional roller coaster of its own and on top of losing her, because of a lot of not very smart decisions she made years ago, instead of inheriting the house in which I’ve lived for 24 years and a sizeable trust fund, materially I’ve inherited nothing from her but a giant hoarder’s mess to clean up and the need to move with great speed to pack up and move to the condo in Florida my dad’s more careful ways left me.

Some of the time I’m pretty angry and put upon. Until I remember the privilege that means I have a condo to move into and enough money to scrape by for a while.

The last months of her life, taken up with hospitals, nursing homes, diapers, wheelchair, etc. were exhausting and the second she died I had to begin the even more tiring task of clearing out her unbelievable piles of crap and trying to separate out and pack up my own stuff for the move. So no, at the moment I don’t feel free.

And Salty apparently decided to help me see it. He’s very old and frail and really upset by all that’s changing around him, from the absence of Mom to furniture and items disappearing and moving around, etc. He climbed on my lap a while ago for a snooze. I had a packing schedule in mind and the snooze was interfering.

I sat for a couple of minutes, tense and worrying about being late already at starting. He gently snoozed, his head tucked under my chin. I tuned in and noted the tenseness and chose to relax into the lovely moment with my fur baby. I’m not sure he’s going to live through all this and I’d rather drink in his sweetness while I can than be sorry later that I was too busy packing to enjoy him.

I’ve also been thinking about how nice it will be once I get to FL and at least largely unpacked. No caretaking. No clearing and sorting after I finish getting the dad/stepmom stuff I don’t want out of the condo and my stuff put in place. Ah, but then I remembered, in order to survive, I have to re-start yoga teaching, figure out doing classes on line, etc. Or get a job. How long can I float and relax, schedule-free, before I must get moving again?

Which then started me thinking about how many days when I have nothing on the schedule like an appointment or a lunch, etc. I still feel I “must” go to the grocery, do a load of laundry, make a new batch of granola or cashew creamer. How free is my schedule ever? And don’t most of us have these daily “musts”? Actual days of floating along, doing nothing are pretty hard to come by unless you have the money to pay someone else to fix your meals, including getting the provisions, or to take spa vacations.

Now I’m contemplating how little activity still leaves me feeling my day is “free” and mine. Much relies on perception and how I choose to feel about what I need to do. My mother resented pretty much all domestic tasks (she grew up in a household with a housekeeper and a cook) and I realized years ago that I internalized that dislike.

I have to actively shift my emotions just to get to neutral. Thanks to how much I love the smell of Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and love a clean floor, I’ve come to enjoy mopping and ignore the twinging back that results, which leads me to believe I can manage to shift the “ugh” feeling about other chores 🙂

I figure the whole schedule thing is mostly a question of staying in tune with how I feel about all the aspects of my day and choosing the feeling tone that leaves me also feeling free. But I’m not sure I’m gonna get there about clearing 30 years of clutter or packing for a move…

Between grief and relief

A number of years ago, when both my parents were into their 80s, a friend asked how I was going to cope when they both died. I thought a second and said, “I think I’ll take the first free breath of my life”. Now I’m there, my dad having died 2 years ago and my mother last month.

Right now, of course, the loss of my mother is fresh and in this case we’d been living in the same house for almost 24 years so I’m also feeling a general loss of companionship. I’m still at the phase of bursting into tears multiple times a day and wishing she could still be here.

But I also feel that sense of relief. The immediate relief is at being set free from the caretaker duties. I was glad to be able to keep my mom well cared for, but it was a lot, especially since my own health issues didn’t disappear just because she needed me. But concerning both parents the story had bigger dimensions.

They each survived a fairly awful childhood and both were clearly emotionally damaged. Besides being physically and emotionally abusive, they also had very vulnerable child-like aspects and I knew from an early age that they both relied on me–their only child–somehow to make up for their troubles, to keep them from breaking, etc.

After having met both my parents and spent some time, one of my friends told me that if I ever operated with a feeling of being watched all the time (I did) I came by it naturally as they were each intensely focused on me and my every move. I felt that pressure most of my life.

So, while I’m also sad to have lost them and sad that their lives held so much unhappiness, I also feel great relief peeking through the grief. I can take a free breath now. Sometimes I feel guilty for that relief. More of the time I feel like it’s only fair to get to live a portion of my life without their needs and expectations hovering over my shoulder.

I’m also really glad I went through the Fisher-Hoffman process long ago and continued to use the process to explore inner feelings, the past, etc. I released huge amounts of anger toward them long ago. With mom that remained a work in progress till we were finally able to just say “I love you” near the end and sit holding hands. With my dad I had actually managed to transform from the place of underlying anger constantly seething, to feeling much more balanced in my dealings with him, even tender as he grew more fragile.

I feel that work with the F-H process is helping me a lot to work through these shifting emotions and also studies with the same facilitator which she called “Emotional Mastery”. Both helped me to just allow emotions to move in, to feel the feelings, to know that I can choose to move to another, etc. Our society doesn’t do enough (anything?) to help people feel their feelings and learn to navigate them.

At a time like this, not only am I grateful for the calm and equanimity 36 years of yoga and meditation have brought me, but so grateful for all I’ve learned about feelings and emotions. Even twenty years ago I’d have fallen apart (and driven my friends crazy with my anxiety) at all I’ve had to cope with in the last 2+ years. I feel like I’m making my way pretty well through volatile emotions while still being able to get done what must be done so much better than I ever could have in the past.

Losing Mom

My 96 year old mother died last Saturday. At her age I guess it shouldn’t have been a big surprise, but she’d just fought hard through a broken leg and rehab and we were looking forward to doing a few things once she could move a bit more. She was tough and I really thought she’d have another year or two.

Suddenly she was very ill– an undiagnosed issue that had been growing for a while. After nearly 2 weeks of ups and downs from “she’ll be home tomorrow” to “do you want to prolong life or go into hospice” back to “she can come home soon”, to a downhill slide to death sooner than anyone thought.

I’m not only in shock about her, but the house I’ve shared with her since 1998 is on a reverse mortgage and I have to be out in 3 months. So I’ve been frantically going through things, organizing several rooms for an appraiser/real estate firm to look at the good stuff. etc and will be moving to the condo I inherited in Florida. I’m also a bit uneasy about that as I don’t really know people down there and have lived here in Lexington longer than any other place in my life.

The hardest part was watching my mother cope with the prognosis. She wanted to live and started off wanting the long, complicated surgery that would have been required. It was a huge disappointment to her to be told that she was too frail and wouldn’t be cleared to have it. As we rode the roller coaster of opinions from her coming home with me required to do more stuff than I could possibly do for probably some months to her staying in hospice where she’d probably die soon, etc. her distress was palpable. Until it wasn’t and she reconciled with the idea that death would come soon.

After a long, close and sometimes tumultuous relationship in which there was always a little stiffness, we finally said, “I love you” every day and sat for hours at hospital then hospice holding hands. Those moments of finally just settling into the love were priceless.

It’s weird now to be in her house but not able to go tell her things. Weird to watch some of the TV shows we liked to watch together without any commentary from her. To watch the ones she loved the most — and was most looking forward to seeing this summer — and realize she doesn’t get to find out how Bosch or Sweet Magnolias latest seasons ended and won’t know the acts on America’s Got Talent. Other moments I’m kind of relieved as the caretaker duties falling on me have been growing in recent years and it’s a huge weight gone.

Throughout all the increasing caretaker duties, sudden prognosis and now this whirlwind move, I’ve been so incredibly grateful for all the years of emotional work, meditation, yoga, etc. The calm space I’ve come to occupy has kept me from being anywhere close to the level of panic I once would have been in. Not that there’s no panic 🙂 but only at scattered moments. Synchronistically, Deva and Miten are offering a 7 day Gayatri event coinciding with this exact week so I’ve been tuning in to chant and feel the big group energy every day, which really helps. Thank God for my spiritual path.

A Week of Chanting

The first week of January turned into a week of chanting and chanting for me, not entirely by design, but a delightful accumulation of events. I signed up for “Ecstatic Chant” a six-day workshop featuring Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, not having noted that Deva and Miten were also doing the second annual New Year’s week daily 108 round Gayatri and not assuming Krishna Das would also do his regular Thursday satsang. But all were happening and I really worked at keeping up.

Managed to do every day of the 108 round Gayatri, which I find incredibly powerful. This time it also became more of an exercise in mindfulness than usual, which I’ll discuss more below. Also got to tune in for the satsang. The workshop I fit in around the other things (plus, you know, I have a life) as best I could — still have some to watch so very grateful they’re giving us a month to see the videos.

I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe how it felt by the end of the week to spend that many hours a day chanting and/or listening to chant. Extraordinary. Uplifting. Pulsating. All are true and yet don’t quite say how amazing it was. Really loved it!

The first day of the Gayatri there were either transmission problems or my YouTube was acting up — they often have trouble with signals in Costa Rica and YouTube has been screwing up for me a LOT — but the Gayatri was stopping and starting, stopping and starting. I was using my mala beads but I kept singing on into dead spaces and then picking up again with them when the stream re-started. Soon I was struggling to decide where I was on the beads and realizing the struggle was moving me out of connection with the mantra.

Thus the chant became a challenge for staying mindful. Only at the end did I laugh as I realized I could have just put the beads down… Meanwhile I considered the challenge well met when I wound up in the right place with the beads while keeping attention on the mantra. Afterwards I realized the starting and stopping and beads distraction had kept me from feeling thrown by the super fast guitar playing that goes on in sections of the 108 round version.

The next day the transmission was fine and when the –to-me– frantic guitar playing started my heart started pounding and my stomach tightened up as usual. Then I remember how the distractions the day before had kept me from reacting and concentrated on the lyrics to move me into the chant and out of noticing. Good reminder that I can mindfully make choices about how to react and what to notice, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop sessions viewed so far and Krishna Das’ Thursday evening satsangs are always good. I will say as far as the workshop, not much was done kirtan style and many chants were new to me so while I loved every minute, listening was not as spiritually expansive for me as it is to chant the Gayatri with the Global Gayatri Sangha — often thousands of us at a time from around the world.

The overall experience of spending hours and hours in one week chanting was divine. In a future post I’ll talk about how my slow, tentative launch onto a path of chanting is contributing to the “sparkles” I discussed in the last post.

All the Sparkle

Increasingly over the last couple of years I’ve noticed the world looking more sparkly. Literally looking around and seeing things shining, sparkling everywhere.

It started from the very practical purchase of a new dishwasher. a couple of years ago. It took some months but eventually it managed to clear off all the collected lime on glasses and silverware and I started noticing how shiny they looked. But it’s kept going from there.

The last couple of years have seen a lot of movement for me on emotional and health issues, including some big shifts in outlook. A really psychic friend of mine commented recently when I talked about all that’s been opening up in the muscles in my face and how it has been changing my world that she pictured me literally getting rid of anchors all around me that had been holding me stuck in place for years. Perfect fit for how it’s been feeling and my long-time sense the tight muscles have been instrumental in “stuckness”.

This sense of being more free on many levels and finally moving forward is so powerful. And I feel like a good deal of the sparkle I see around flows from that.

A huge amount of the tightness in my facial muscles has been centered around keeping my optic nerve squeezed tight, which causes near-sightedness according to my late, amazing vision therapist, Dr. Sirota. As the muscles finally loosen, I periodically notice increments of seeing more clearly; the clear field moving outward an inch or two at a time. The opening lately leaves me feeling that the changing vision also contributes to seeing all those sparkles.

Wherever it comes from, I must say, I LOVE looking around the world and seeing sparkles!!!

Teetering: “Righteous Anger” and Compassion

As mentioned off and on for a while, I’m struggling with anger over so man things that are going on. Periodically I realize I’m back screaming at certain “leaders” every time their faces appear, grinding my teeth as I scan social media and follow links to read more, and, a couple of weeks ago when a station I was watching moved from old shows to airing some kind of evangelical church service, I found myself angrily making up words to the hymn they started with and singing: “My Jesus hates you, and we kill, kill, kill…”

Being self-aware enough to see this is DEFINITELY in conflict with my beliefs about holding a space of love, peace and compassion, I keep circling back to questioning the source of the anger and how to shift it. And one puzzle I constantly come back to, is how to be “righteously” angry and yet hold that space.

Many spiritual leaders and writers feel there is such a thing as righteous anger and that, when great wrongs are being committed, we must all feel that anger and do something toward righting the wrong. None seem to address how such anger impacts the energy of the web nor do they seem to offer much advice about how to feel that angry and still find the love and compassion with which to “do something” but do it with nonviolence.

I have long been unconvinced that “righteous” anger is any different, energetically speaking, than any other. It worries me when I react with anger because I can feel how it takes hold and shoves the loving, peaceful aspect of me out of function. And since I believe the energy space each of us holds adds up to the totality of energy that is All That Is, every time one of us is angry instead of loving, our energetic contribution to the web is the energy of anger.

Most of the spiritual leaders who say it’s fine to be outraged over injustice, etc. but to be nonviolent in what you do about it, seem remarkably silent on the question of how to move from the angry place of the one to the compassionate place of the other. I’d guess the majority of people aren’t well equipped to transition on a dime from place to the other.

I see 3 main arenas we as individuals can work on to help us in recognizing the wrongs that need to be righted but stay compassionate and develop non violent solutions:

  1. Ferreting out repressed anger (or other deeply held negative emotions). I’ve noted the above video before and I really like how deeply it works on transforming anger but there are many other methods, including “process” work like Fischer-Hoffman, the Diamond Heart approach, transpersonal psychology, etc. Just find the mode that works for you.
  2. Being able to stay present in the moment is really important. If you can’t even stay conscious enough to realize anger has grabbed you and it’s time to shift away, how you can move into non violent responses? I include more than just sitting vipassana; chanting (sung or spoken), movement practices like yoga or qi gong, and some guided meditations like yoga nidra are all ways that people of different temperaments can tune into the present.
  3. Long ago I read some spiritual leader saying the key to coping with emotions and events coming at you is to allow them to pass through you without affecting.  One of many teachings that’s easier said than done. I think it takes a lot of practice and dedication to reach a place where you don’t even have to think about staying in the space of lovingkindness and compassion and calm.

There are many ways to work on holding that space.  One factor is how you “feed” yourself in your life.  Are you doing practices like metta or singing chats or meditating (whatever form) regularly? Are you reading books like Tara Brach’s 

Oy the hip

Psoas

As mentioned in the last post, long-standing hip issues arose in the midst of the trauma and drama of my mother’s broken hip.  Several people noted the irony of my hip at the same time as hers and wondered if it was some kind of sympathy– while I think there was some connection, it’s the other hip and I’d been having some issues with this old pattern for quite a while before she fell. I’m giving a bit of extra detail because these kinds of muscle issues are far more common than Western medicine acknowledges and many people aren’t aware of the ways these things get started or are exacerbated.

Going way back, I was born with a twist in my left leg.  Over the many years of body work on my deeply ingrained muscle issues, we figured out the origin point for many of the problems all the way up and down was that twist.  Then at 25 I was in a car accident that injured the ankle on that side and, undiscovered by brilliant allopathic medicine, a ligament was torn away.

The injury exaggerated the twist and the instability caused by the lack of properly attached ligament led to my left hip constantly going completely out of joint and lots of extra pressure on the now-even-more-pulled-out-of-alignment knee.  As a result I walked with a limp and many days it was so painful to sit I squeezed up the muscles on that side.  There are more details but that’s the gist of why I have a deep pattern in there which keeps recurring even though body work has largely released it. (and for the story of my leg straightening out see here)

Something in how I sit and sleep at home had been causing some issues but the exercises I do for my hips have kept it at bay.  Until I wound up sitting in one ergonomically-poor chair after another for hours a day in one hospital or rehab room after another.  Suddenly my low back had problems and my hip was more “out” than it’s been since the original issue. On top of that some releases in my muscles snapped a chunk of my psoas and groin muscles too far open too fast on the same side.  Because of the proximity the two began impacting one another.

Many days I could barely walk from the pain.  I looked into the “meaning” of hip issues and found both (1) moving forward too quickly — which seemed to perfectly describe the fast track of opening/releasing my muscles have been on and (2) mother issues — which made me LAUGH!  So okay, metaphysical reasons.  But ow, after a while you just want the pain to go away and screw the “lessons”.  I got this one though: barely able to move=enforced slowing down.

Realizing I’d started the issue by not exploring enough about how I was sitting and lying.  I’ve had to change the configuration of my odd “nest on the floor” style of seating because of the hip numerous times, so another change was quickly called for.

It also sank in that as my muscles have been sorted out, my many-years habit of sleeping in weird pretzel positions to accommodate the aches and pains had been segueing into sleeping more normally, including sleeping on my side for the first time, maybe ever.  I knew about the advice to put a pillow between your knees but initially I just moved onto my side in my sleep so… not conscious enough to grab a pillow. But I bought one of the pillows designed for that purpose and am working on staying aware enough to use it when I’m on my side.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to use the yoga and Robert Masters’ triggers that have kept me going all these years.  However, the pulled psoas doesn’t like moving and pretty much everything I do for my hips moves it.  So it’s been an interesting challenge to find balance in how and when to do what in order to keep releasing the hip pattern while not setting off the psoas.

Everything has been better since Mom came home and I no longer have to sit in the chairs for a few hours a day.  But both patterns keep flaring and the extra demands on me for helping Mom and rearranging and cleaning house (our twice monthly cleaners can’t come –social distancing for Mom) make both worse, so it’s been an interesting time.

Because of the long journey through muscle issues, I’m much more hypersensitive to chairs and muscle impacts than most people.  But I’d bet some of the really poor chairs I sat in have started off issues for many people who just didn’t realize at the time a pattern started from the uncomfortable chair.  That’s how they go.  Set a muscle or two off by sitting badly for enough hours and they settle into a pattern and then that pattern begins impacting all the nearby muscles.

I wish allopathic medicine would wise up and start teaching people to get something done (body work) or to do something (possibly yoga or Feldenkrais, etc.) as soon as an injury has occurred or they’ve spent a bunch of time in an uncomfortable position or doing a repetitive motion.  If you keep the patterns from settling in, you can avoid getting to the point of spending months or years trying to fix it.

In the meantime, thank goodness for the Robert Masters work; I’ve been able to do the hip releases just often enough to work probably 80-90% of the re-ingrained pattern out.  I find it hard to heal the psoas since it’s involved in so many of our normal movements, it’s constantly getting flared.  A bit of stretching to keep the pain from locking it up but otherwise staying careful about how much I move…

And then in the midst of all this broken (Mom) and unhappy hip stuff, enter Covid-19!

The meaning of faith?

Lately I’ve been observing how very fearful a lot of people who say they have faith are.  It’s had me thinking about faith as I experience it and wondering how fear and faith can reside together.

Long time readers may remember I’ve mentioned previously that faith has two levels for me.  Consciously I have a lot and have been able to pursue a fiscally risky path of healing in large part because of my faith that it’s the right path and that I’ll be okay if I follow it.

As I dig into my unconscious, I periodically realize there are old issues that led to a lack of faith and on certain issues I struggle to get past the inner child who doubts.  But because my conscious thoughts include faith and I work pretty hard on transforming those old beliefs, I spend quite a lot of time in “the faith place”.

When I really center and check in, allowing myself to feel the divine presence and the energy of All That Is, I am in a space of calm and security.  In this place no fear exists nor does fear have a reason to be.  The only times I feel fearful are when I move out of the calm secure cloak of faith and into my issues.

So I keep looking at the folks on the right who are so vociferous about their great faith but nonetheless fearful of immigrants, of people of other races and/or religions, of new ideas, etc. and wonder how they can possibly be living in faith and at the same time be so afraid of so much of the world?

And since their faith is allegedly Christian, why do they believe in Christ, who taught love for all our brethren and yet exhibit so much hate for so many others? In that calm center where my faith dwells, I can’t find or feel hate anywhere.  Just can’t be there.  So I really don’t understand this.

Why does faith not bring them peace?  Why does faith not leave them feeling secure that all will be well?

I keep having a corollary thought when, say, a tornado strikes and some of these “believers” point fingers and claim it was because God was mad at the gay mayor –who was completely unharmed– or the liberal congresswoman, etc.

So it seems they have faith in a God who gets mad at a gay mayor and decides to aim a metaphorical thunderbolt but is so incompetent he hits 20 other people and misses the mayor?  I struggle to understand why anyone would ever believe in a god that inept.

I’m quite sure if the ultimate being of my faith decided to smite someone She’d hit the right person…  Or should I say, “I have faith in Her and Her aim?” Although I don’t really believe She’s so much into smiting.

Just stuff I’m thinkin’. No expert opinions or answers, just wondering…

A meditation, insights and puzzlement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Schedule shifting midstream

My schedule shift efforts are slowly moving along and some changes seem to be holding, so I’ve been feeling pleased with the decision to shift.  The muscles in my eyes haven’t been quite so wild.  There’s often some disruption a couple of nights a week but none of the long endless nights of yanking muscles; without that change none of the rest would be happening.

Today I hit one of the goals in the shift.  Lots of friends from the old Unity church here joined a spiritual center called Ahava a few years after Unity closed.  I’ve been attending random afternoon or evening events off and on and volunteering with their God’s Pantry group but  their weekly 10:30 service has been way out of reach for my insane sleep schedule.

When I started shifting the schedule I realized attending the Sunday service — which I’d given up on doing — would become possible.  Today was finally the day I was both awake early enough and rested enough to conceive of getting up, dressed and out.

As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted warmly by Betty, one of the women very involved in the old Unity.  Then Patty, whom I’ve known through the God’s Pantry work hugged me and invited me to sit with her.  A beautiful service, greeting more old friends….  Loved it and it really gave the gargantuan effort of shifting every aspect of my schedule more meaning and purpose.

Other good news to report from shifting is I’ve been having more energy.  Some of that is because the DEEP stuff behind my eye that’s currently unwinding is freeing up a lot of energy. I also suspect in looking at the Chinese medicine clock that I’m now giving some crucial organs a rest during the best hours which then helps the energy.

For the first six weeks or more I got up earlier then was so dazed the rest of my plan for breakfast, exercise, shower and meditation before noon fell apart while I just sat in a fog but in the last couple of weeks, with energy picking up, I’m getting more things done every day– nowhere close to the kind of busy days my more energetic friends accomplish, but for me, significantly more.  And I’m finally growing less stupefied in the morning so am hoping to get the whole morning plan happening soon instead of just a couple parts of it.   When I finish shifting to the intended schedule, should be even easier.

Another great bonus has been running errands between 1:00 and 2:45 — in between lunch rush and schools getting out.  Turns out there’s a whole lovely time when traffic is light, parking is easy and stores are quiet!  I’m now addicted to getting things done in this peaceful time frame.  Given my night vision issues, this is going to be SO helpful when darkness starts arriving at 5:30.

Another view from my spot

Speaking of light, I’m totally enjoying having more hours of light and, again, will be so much happier in winter that I’ll be experiencing a fair portion of the hours of sunshine.  Being up and around so much more of the day has led to more time enjoying light and air while writing on our sun porch which always picks my spirits up.

It all feels like coming alive again after such a long journey of healing.  More about that in another post!

Meditation Potpourri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Circling back to Yoga Nidra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting Bigger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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