The word “guru” gets a really bad rap these days, and for good reason. There are those who make claim to “my guru” like having one is some kind of spiritual goalpost. They quote their guru, usually in an attempt to convince themselves of the teaching, pretending as if they already embody it. It’s a real turn-off.
Plus there are a growing number of news stories about unethical gurus taking advantage of their followers, the recent Wild Wild Country series on Netflix being one such example of the possible and/or perceived danger of gurus. And there is a danger…the danger of putting your responsibility for your life in the hands of another or actually thinking that gurus aren’t people too, with the same weaknesses of character we all face.
There also seem to be a lot more self-proclaimed gurus out there these days. So many think they are enlightened and that what they have to say is worth the hundreds or even thousands of dollars they charge to share it. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.
But what is a guru anyway? Guru simply means teacher or guide. It means “dispeller of darkness”, more specifically. The word is quite simple, though its connotation has been made so complex.
It unfortunate that people will discount a message because it comes from someone considered a guru, as if that word alone would render the message meaningless. Life-altering messages are often discounted because the person offering it is of a certain age, race, or religion…or because they dress funny or wear too many rings. It’s sad that valuable messages can be so obscured by our own judgments.
It is also unfortunate that there are those who will bow down to another, as if everything they are searching for is to be found outside their own knowing. It is a sad, hellish trap when we can blame others for our inadequacies or misunderstandings. It is a denial that ensures a lifetime of suffering.
Neither approach really works. We’re either defending ourselves against new perspectives or we’re relinquishing our inner power to some image. The thing that matters is the message, not the person sharing it. How long will it take us to break out of our “shoot (or bow to) the messenger” mentality?
It’s time to get over our “guru” baggage. We are all just human beings. Some of are better at accessing humanity-wide relevant wisdom than others. Some have gone so deeply inward that they now see so much more clearly than the rest. But none of us are capable of knowing what is true for another. It could also be said that every single one of us is a teacher to someone. Why do so many feel the need to judge another’s teacher if they feel they are getting from that teacher something that gives them insight or peace?
I’d been warned in the past by well-meaning friends not to put my faith in some guru. I wonder why they felt the need to tell me that? I’ve never put a teacher on that much of a pedestal. Respect, yes. Trust, yes. Devotion, maybe. But I have never been at risk of losing myself in that. I know who I am, and I know that the teachers who come and go from my life are only representatives of something far more mysterious and far greater than the human form they may take.
Don’t let the word “guru” stop you from discovering what is inside of you. I am my own guru. And so are you. We are each the dispeller of darkness in our own lives. We are each the experts on our own experiences. No one can ever play that role for another, not entirely. We can learn much from each other, no question. We can inspire each other with our wise words and perspectives. We will be attracted to those whose message resonates and not to others. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make one message superior to another just because at this point in time it resonates with you. That spiritual materialism needs to go too.
I gotta laugh when people make fun with comments like, “Everyone thinks he’s a guru” because the truth is, we all are…just not to anyone but ourselves.
We live in a culture that is constantly telling us what is wrong with us. We need some new products or have to do something differently because we’re not pretty enough, young enough, rich enough, successful enough, or living enough. So many of our choices are made to prove something, either to others or to ourselves.
We obviously must have entered into this world quite deficient! We are so bombarded with concepts and ideas that make this assumption that it has become a deeply imbedded and unquestioned aspect of being human. Something’s wrong with us. Something is missing. So, we must strive to improve, be better, get more.
Even the things that are meant to help us live life, to free us of such conditioning, can themselves become absorbed into this black hole of our imperfection. Take, for example, the practice of yoga asana (asana being the fancy name for physical yoga practice).
Most people head to yoga class for one or more of several reasons: to feel better, to workout, to be happier. The intentions are good. But what thoughts surface while they are there?
“My body doesn’t do that. I must not be flexible enough. I better try harder.”
“My teacher tells me I have to put my feet just so. It hurts, but he must know better than I do.”
“Wow, that person is so graceful and flexible. I want to look like that. I can just barely force myself…into…that…ouch…position.”
“I’ll never be able to get my leg over my head like that. I suck at yoga. I hate this body.”
“The teacher is doing it this way, therefore, I have to torque my body just like that, no matter how much my joints whine.”
“Wow, look at me! I’m doing a wheel. Hurts like hell, but what an acheivement!”
Not exactly the enlightening experience one was hoping for!
There’s nothing wrong with a person who can’t turn out their hips just so, who doesn’t have perfect alignment, who can’t reach their toes without bending their knees, who simply can’t sit like a pretzel. And yet, they try. They try because they think there is something wrong with them. There is something they must attain. Something is missing. Something is wrong and they need to fix it by pushing harder.
Look, the problem is not with you and your body! I promise. There’s nothing wrong with your body…whether it can bend with the best of them or not. It’s just fine. The problem lies in one of two places:
Your Own Head
Your own judgments of yourself may be telling you stories about how you should be able to do something because someone else can or because someone else demonstrates it thus or has told you “the right way”. But if you are honest with yourself, your very own body is telling you what’s true, what’s right. Get out of your head and into that “just fine as it is” body.
Your Yoga Teacher’s Head
As for your instructor, maybe they think you should be able to do something because they simply don’t understand that forcing a body to do something is just plain ignorant. Maybe they are victims of a rigid dogma they’ve been taught, ignoring the intelligence of their own bodies for the sake of a pose. It unfortunately happens.
In the first instance, you simply need to recongnize that how you are built is how you are built. There is nothing wrong with your body. Okay, you might have a back injury or tight hips, whatever. These are things to be worked with, not against. These are things that inform your practice. But there’s nothing wrong with you…nothing that needs fixing. Healing…maybe. Accepting…probably. Fixing…not so much!
And in the second instance, you simply need to realize that no one is a better authority over your own body than you. Teachers are there for a reason. They serve an important purpose, of course. But there will be those who carry their own “not good enough”, “gotta be better” issues. Don’t let them become yours. If a teacher is making you feel “less than” because you’re not complying with their technique, find another teacher. If they are telling you to push through pain and ignore your own body, or offering you unwelcome hands-on adjustments, run as fast as you can.
Movement should be joyful. It should feel good. We should enter movement with trust and the certainty that we will not hurt ourselves. If we believe the lie that there is something wrong with us, if we enter a class thinking we have to measure up to something or hold the belief that we need to push through and beyond the limits of our body, we’re going to get hurt. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
Why not face the realization here and now that there’s nothing wrong with your body? Why not decide that what you have to work with is perfect, in whatever state it is in? Why not discover with gentleness and intelligence how truly perfect your body actually is?
It was in the year 2000 that I began my first of several shamanic apprenticeships in the Toltec Eagle Night Lineage of don Miguel Ruiz, author of the iconic The Four Agreements. Now, nearly 18 years later, those four little agreements mean as much if not more than ever. They have proven to be much more than the words that comprise them; they are little packets of deep wisdom that have continued to unfold and reveal themselves over the years.
While I was on my yoga teacher training in October of 2017, I realized that these four agreements have a place in my yoga practice, too. I present them here, not necessarily in the order originally presented!
Don’t Make Assumptions
As we practice, it is crucial that we neither make assumptions about what yoga is and isn’t nor what our body can and cannot do. In regards to the latter, it will always be different from day to day (see the 3rd agreement!). And in regards to the former, well, there are plenty of misconceptions about yoga in the Western world. It isn’t just some exercise program, though many have reduced it to such. Yoga is an ancient and holistic wellness system that engages the mind, body and spirit. When we take the reductionist view and turn it into a good workout, we completely miss the gems that yoga is meant to provide a life. If we’re teachers, we perpetuate this misunderstanding in a world that is desperate for the deeper gifts yoga offers.
This also applies to how we approach a pose. If we have some construct in our heads of how, say, Trikasana looks, we might take our body there with our mind and fail to feel the actual journey that the body takes there. This is a surefire way to be injured. Instead, we should come to a pose as if for the first time each time, taking our time and listening deeply to the body.
When we make assumptions, be they about yoga or meditation or someone’s motivation for doing something, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to get it wrong, either putting ourselves in a box, putting someone else in a box, or just creating a lot of unnecessary drama.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Yoga has become a bit of a competitive sport, if not openly so, inside the heads of those taking classes. We see our neighbor doing a perfect wheel and we take it as a sign that there is something lacking in us. We watch the skinny ballet-like figure in the picture and compare our bulging selves. We do more than we should to save face and wind up with a pulled muscle.
There is nothing personal in having the body you were born with. Yes, it’s yours…for now. But what it looks like and moves like isn’t about you. It’s structure has been deemed perfect for you in this lifetime by something far more intelligent than the personal mind. If you have an injury or disability, it is not a punishment. But it is something to embrace and accept. Yoga is above all learning to accept ourselves. Sure, the Western culture tells us to work for the body we want, but yoga tells us to work with the body we’ve got.
When we take things personally, we believe they somehow identify us. We are overly enamored with the image and out of contact with reality.
Always Do Your Best
This agreement ties into the one above fairly seamlessly, but from another perspective. This is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the agreements because the mind’s idea of “best” often has nothing to do with our true capabilities, instead being a composite of the voices of parents, teachers, and peers that we somehow internalized to keep ourselves safe. We often conceive of “best” by comparing ourselves to others or by gauging our abilities according to some unrealistic expectation.
Our best will look nothing like another’s, and it may change day to day. It will be impacted by how tired or stressed or hungry we are. This agreement is perhaps one of the most important to our yoga practice because, if taken in the right way, it reminds us that gripping and striving have nothing to do with yoga while it also reminds us that sometimes, the high road is a more challenging road, but it is still the one to take. And finally, if we do slip up or behave in a way that is out of alignment with our principles, this agreement reminds us that we’ve made the agreement to do our best, so there is no need to judge ourselves for messing up! We did our best!
So do your best. Not less. But definitely don’t set yourself up to fail with unreasonable expectations either. It is just as bad to grip and strive and force as it is to collapse and give up. This agreement points to the Buddha’s Middle Way…free from extremes.
Be Impeccable with Your Word
This applies to the promises we make ourselves and to the way we speak about and to ourselves. If we say we are going to practice daily for at least 1/2 an hour, then we should honor that. If we aren’t, we should investigate why we aren’t living up to our word. This is also about not using the word against yourself. Thoughts or outward expressions of “not being good enough”, being “too fat or too clumsy”, or falling short in any way is not only a terrible way to treat yourself, it’s a surefire way of creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
This agreement has a particular importance for those of us teaching yoga. If we’re giving too many or meaningless cues or worse, cues that have no basis in our own felt sense, we are out of alignment with our yoga. That isn’t to say we can’t be metaphorical or poetic. But is what we are saying rooted in both our experience and our knowledge?
We also have to be careful about making something “wrong”. Just because a certain approach or technique or cue doesn’t work for us, that doesn’t mean it won’t be better for a student. Rather than taking it on ourselves to make those kinds of decisions, we need to offer options and modifications to our students, helping them to increase their ability to perceive their own bodies, sensations and feelings so they can intuit what’s best for them.
Be Skeptical, but Listen
This 5th Agreement, added some years after The Four Agreements was published, reinforces that curiosity is a critical attitude to cultivate in yoga. When we remain curious, the body is free to discover its own path. This agreement reminds us that WE are the guru. So as we are listening to a teacher in a yoga class, we remember to listen and share in the group experience of whatever pose is demonstrated, but also to be skeptical.
Does the way a posture is being shown make sense to your body? Is your body sending you signals that it is too much or not enough, or that it is having to grip or resist? And even then, be skeptical. Is it your mind that is telling you your body can’t do another repetition of something? Perhaps you are stronger than you think?
Our curiosity keeps us open, free to explore and draw our own conclusions. Yoga isn’t about putting your body into a pose. It is about finding what the pose might be for your body.
There were many lessons learned while on Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) for 30 days in Ibiza, Spain. I’ve written about some of them already (Part I and Part II). Today, I’d like to share my 3rd big lesson which was perhaps the most personal…and lengthy. Bear with me…
I mentioned in one of the earlier posts that one of the greatest challenges was sharing close quarters with a group of strangers. We were, for the most part, a house of “odd couples”, and there were times when irritations and annoyances were magnified. I should also mention that despite this, we all got along very well…considering.
Still, I found it hard to find my comfort zone among so many people. I am not only a highly sensitive person but also a full-blown introvert. Finding space, downtime, and freedom from stimulation was a bit of a challenge. There were expectations for us to engage socially, which was fine; I wanted to get to know people. But I was often faced with a choice. I need a lot less engagement than others. I like being alone. I need it to feel centered. So would I take care of myself and my needs and risk feeling isolated or would I fit into “other people’s rhythms” and meet the social expectation?
I am early to bed, early to rise by nature. The majority, however, enjoyed their late nights and weekend sleep-ins. Because dinner was served often after 8PM, I took to setting aside leftovers so I could eat my dinner as soon as classes were finished, giving me time to digest. That meant that I missed out on many dinner conversations and connections. Instead, I’d be in my room journaling, meditating, or listening to music before bed. When we had breaks, I’d often just want to go off alone on hikes or hang out by myself. And even though we had opportunities on the weekend, I didn’t really want to site-see. To me, it felt like a distraction from my focus. While I wouldn’t have minded getting off the top of that hill for a couple of hours, given the choice of relying on someone with a car and having to be out all day (or night) long, or being stuck at the house, I happily chose “stuck at the house” where I could recharge.
Most introverts sense the judgment that comes with being different, how extroverts might take it as a form of rejection, that we’re “too good for them” or “standoffish”. It creates a vicious circle as each “type” tries to establish their traits as normal or acceptable; it’s a form of self defense. (Of course, we live in an extroverted world, so I would argue that introverts have it harder.) Regardless, their is awkwardness on both sides, struggling to understand one another, and it all makes it that much harder to connect when we want to. I feared I was giving this kind of message in keeping my distance, so I had to overcome this fear of being perceived as judging as well as of being judged.
As an introvert, I actually genuinely like people, very much, but I like them in much smaller doses than the average person. In truth, my system simply needs more down time. While the extrovert enjoys talking, I get overwhelmed by the stream of words. While the extrovert feels energized by interaction. I, on the other hand, just wind up feeling drained and disturbed by the various vibratory fields of others. If there are conversations going and music playing all at the same time, it is simply too much for my nervous system. After a time, it brings on physical pain. My charge comes from time alone and in peace and quiet.
Within the first few days, I became aware that others were engaging with one another in a way that they weren’t with me. It wasn’t something intentional on their parts. I figured they must have been unsure about me, maybe even afraid to interact because they had yet to get a sense of who I was. Or maybe they just thought that I was “the person who didn’t want to engage”…a typical box every introvert knows. So that night, I made the effort to stay up late and engage in more conversation than I normally would. It was worth it. It broke the ice. And thereafter, even though I lived as I needed to, I felt like it was okay.
I spoke with my sister, another introvert, about this today. She brought up an important point…that introversion is often considered some kind of pathology. But there’s nothing wrong with us. We’re just different. We don’t need fixing. We don’t need pity. We simply need more space and a healthy dose of respect and understanding.
Regardless of where we fall on the extroversion/introversion spectrum, we’ve each got our stuff. The only thing we really need to deal with is our stuff. It’s so much easier than trying to deal with everyone else’s…or expecting others to deal with ours for us. Why should they? Sure, there will be misunderstandings and projections. So flippin’ what? Those will always be there until we become the sparkling-clean mirrors for each other that we were meant to be. And this will only happen if we each accept and deal with our own stuff!
Maybe it’s because I was finally able to release any last remnants of self-judgment over my introversion that any outside reflection of being judged was vaporized. I was able to deeply honor and accept my introversion on this journey, and I was fortunate enough to be with a group of people who were okay with that, if not at first, at least in the end.
So in summary, here is my third life lesson from YTT: I’m okay. You’re okay. We’re okay. Even when we’re not okay, it’s still okay. We only have to take what’s ours when it’s not okay. Okay?
One learns a lot of things at Yoga Teacher Training (YTT): asanas and yogic principles, anatomy, and sequencing, for example. It’s intensive in itself. Add to it tight quarters with strangers, lots of time for inner reflection, and heightened sensitivity and it all results in other lessons too, insights into the self or into life. Last time, I wrote about my mystical experience with a soap bubble, a lesson of our insubstantial nature. In this post, I’ll share another big lesson learned on my recent YTT experience in Ibiza, Spain.
In short: we never have all the information or all the pieces of the puzzle. It’s the nature of duality. Yet we are fabulous (and hell-bent) at generating meaning and judgments around very the sparse information we do have, convincing ourselves that what we’ve generated is absolute reality. In fact, though, details are always missing.
Our entire lives, if we don’t wake up to this realization, we are constructing confining and very often inaccurate boxes to place ourselves, our situations, our solutions and other people into. We leave little room for miracles, let alone facts. But the facts that might be outside of our perception might be enough to completely and irrevocably destroy those seemingly safe little boxes that give us the false sense that we’ve got it all figured out.
It all comes down to protecting ourselves. We are afraid of being neglected or disappointed, rejected or just plain wrong. This is the energy that lies at the heart of the need to draw conclusions, however erroneous.
Cases in point:
During YTT, I had volunteered to make breakfast one Saturday morning which historically consisted of oatmeal. Yet, after searching every drawer and cabinet, I could not find any oats. My mind, afraid of being accused of neglecting to provide what was expected, turned on those who were supposed to provide the goods in the first place! I went about preparing what remained…eggs, fruit, yogurt, granola, cheese, avocado, bread and tomato. I made my apologies, “There were no oats!” It wasn’t until later that day that I was in the kitchen when the damn bag of oats stared me right in the face. It had been on the counter all along. Seriously. Right in from of my face! Yet I had gone on a very long journey in my head which was based entirely on them not being there.
On another weekend, the house ran out of bottled water. Several of us emailed the facilitators to let them know. We waited…and waited. More emails were sent. We waited some more. The conversations that occurred around this were interesting. In my own mind, I began to question the amount of concern and care our facilitators had for our well-being. Having had an earlier interaction with them over water, I was holding that opinion as loosely as I could.
The water came eventually, along with someone who had just arrived that day at the airport. You see, it turns out, the facilitator that eventually brought the water had to pick someone up. She had other responsibilities. This is what delayed her. On the way, they stopped for water and couldn’t find any big bottles anywhere. They ended up getting small bottles. So, the effort was there all along. The concern and care was there all along too. But there were extenuating circumstances of which most of us were unaware. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and so there was nothing to stop us from expressing our grumps. But how often do we grump with pieces of the greater puzzle missing? How often do we seek out validation from friends and loved ones that we are justified in our thinking about something? How often to we lack insight into situations pr motivations, past histories, and personal challenges of those we judge?
In another example, when I arrived at the house on the first evening, I was in a shared cab. We were told to look for a pink rock and turn there. What we eventually came across was a pink post on the left side of the drive that I could barely see in the dark from out the right side of the taxi. I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “That’s not a rock!” I took a photo of the post to show my partner just how “ridiculous” our directions were. It wasn’t until nearly three weeks later on a walk up the road that I could finally see the “pink rock” on the right side of the road. There it was…and had been, invisible to me from the right side of the cab. I admit, I formed judgments about the directions we were given while lacking this broader realization!
So three weeks later, I took a photo of the rock to remind myself of how ridiculous I can be! Now I have two photos that tell a story and remind me of this very important truth:
We are always missing information.
Always. The universe is that big and that complex. And no matter how much we want to make ourselves feel safe, secure, and like we’ve got it all sewn up, we don’t, won’t and can’t possibly.
Really, accepting this makes life so much easier. It becomes just plain silly, not to mention counterproductive, to jump to conclusions.
LOL – I just remembered a song by Annette Funicello about not jumping to conclusions, a throw-back to age 10 or so. The universe has been trying to teach me this one for a very, very long time! A shame I spent over 15 years of my life thinking I understood the 2nd Agreement of The 4 Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz: Don’t Make Assumptions. It’s clearer now. So, I’m a little slow!
If we can hold everything more lightly, our opinions, judgments, explanations and seeming realities for why things are the way they are, we might actually get an insight or two into actual reality! We give ourselves so much more space to breath, to receive more of that missing information (or not), and just maybe to receive a miracle or two.
One of my meditation clients asked me recently if I would write about the concept of space and its importance in meditation. I’m grateful for what is sure to be a challenge, so here goes.
Let’s start with a definition. Space is one of the five elements along with earth, air, fire, and water. Also referred to as ether, space is both a container for all that is and a vast expanse and emptiness. The experience of space, at least for me, is a key component that arises out of meditation practice.
Form does not differ from Emptiness
And Emptiness does not differ from Form.
Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form.*
As an element, or something of which we ourselves are comprised, if we have an imbalance of ether, either too much or too little, we will experience that symptomatically. Too much and we may feel literally “spacey” or have difficulty concentrating. Too little and we may be quite preoccupied with insignificant details or feel lack of divine connection. A balance of the element results in harmony and inspiration.
So, I don’t want to give the impression in writing about space in meditation that there is anything one should or must do in order to experience or foster space. Space is always there. We simply need to be aware of it. But if you’ll forgive me, I will bring the reader’s attention to three aspects of space for contemplation.
While we meditate, our breath itself can be the entry point to our awareness of space as we feel the space of the lungs filling and emptying. We can bring our attention to all the empty spaces in the body…between the bones, the organs, between the cells, and even between the atoms of the cells. When we feel pain, we can work to bring our breath and a sense of spaciousness into the pain and notice any shifting that results. As we sit still, we can turn our attention toward the body in space and feel how our awareness expands beyond the body.
We can also bring our attention to the space within the mind. This is accessible through the senses, such as noticing the bed of silence upon which sounds in the environment are occurring, for example, or by noticing that one perceives a smell in the room and how that odor might originate in one location and spread upon air molecules through the open space to our nostrils. We can also utilize an awareness of passing thought. When we place our attention on the silence and the gap between, it is as if we are expanding space. It seems to grow. But as I’ve said, it was always there. With this cultivated spaciousness in the mind, we can question our thoughts and inquire into our true nature.
The final point, if there was a final point, could be said to be the expansion of spirit. It is the recognition that we are, in fact, both within and without that very spaciousness that we are noticing. We are both form and formlessness.
Finally, I will share a message that came to me in a dream the night that mother died. She was quite ethereal but unmistakable herself, yet she didn’t speak. We stood at a window, the sill at about waist height. She pointed with great insistence to a spot on the window sill, as if it held great importance. I followed her finger, gazing at the tiny details of dust particles that had collected. And then, we began to rise off the ground, her finger still pointing, but as we rose, more and more came into my awareness. From a focal point of a spec of dust, to the color of the paint, to the panes of glass, to the frame itself, and outward. Up and up we went, my awareness expanding to include more and more, out from the window now, to the wall, to the house, to the city, to the country, to the earth, to the sky, to the universe…and every detail was contained within the space, but the space was eternally expanding and more and more inclusive and aware of not only everything inside of itself, but of itself as well.
Rather than impose any further interpretation of this dream on you, I will refrain and let you sit with it yourself.
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha*
(Gone, gone, gone to the Other Shore, attained the Other Shore having never left)
Despite that fact that there is now almost daily new evidence that supports the importance of and benefits received from meditation practice, there is still a lot of resistance to actually doing it. I’d like to take a look at that today. Why is it that so many people, often the people who need it the most, believe they can’t meditate or think it cannot help them?
I’m not saying it is the answer to everything nor am I claiming that one size fits all. (The latter idea is as far from my philosophy as it could be!) However, I do believe with every inch of my being that there is a form of meditation available for everyone be it through physical yoga, chanting, mindfulness, music, breathing, mudra, cooking, painting… One just has to discover what works best and then approach the activity with the proper intent.
So, what exactly are the reasons that come up for why people don’t want to meditate?
I can’t sit still that long!
I’ve heard a lot of people lay claim to this. The idea of “doing nothing”, even for 10 minutes, is too much to bear. The moment a person sits still, all the feelings, thoughts, and problems that she’s been pushing away with constant activity come flowing in like a tidal wave. It isn’t a comfortable feeling.
Early one, when I was forced to silently meditate sitting with my teachers years ago, I would be in absolute hell waiting for them to just get on with the teachings. I would hear myself begging for it to come to an end. Somewhere along the way, that agony left me. Gone. No trace. Poof!
Restlessness is a completely expected stage of meditation, often much worse in the beginning, but it also comes and goes throughout a lifetime of practice. (I can still feel restless from time to time.) If you aren’t willing to work through it, you are giving it power over you. If this is your sole reason for avoiding meditation, I urge you to simply sit with the resistance. The payoff is so worth it!
There are those who experience meditation as boring. Being still, following the breath, focusing on the body is not enough to entertain the raging monkey that is the mind. These types tend to need constant stimulation and input. They need the radio or TV on, even if they aren’t listening or watching. What do they think all that stimulation is doing? It is distracting them. It is stealing their energy and making it harder for them to know themselves. It is filling them up with worthless noise and making it impossible for them to hear their own answers. It has trained them away from the subtle of life to such an extent that they actually believe the universe could ever be boring!
I actually feel worse when I meditate. My mind is so loud!
Similar to reason number one, this resistance presents itself when people have a misunderstanding of what meditation actually is. They think they are supposed to have no thoughts at all, a blank and quiet mind. But that just isn’t realistic. The stream of thought is incessant. But it doesn’t really matter. It’s a misconception to think one isn’t meditating if one is thinking. Let the thoughts come. Watch them as they do. Then watch them as they morph and go. They are fleeting even if they are torrential! Don’t give them your attention and run around trying to extinguish them. Let them be. You keep quiet!
I’m too busy/I don’t have time.
This is such an empty argument. All it means is that the person doesn’t really want to do it. Sure, meditating for 20-40 minutes is ideal, but even 5 minutes before bed is better than nothing, and I’m sorry but everybody has 5 minutes before bed. Heck, even 3 minutes of focusing on the breath and body is sure to impact your sleep and dreams in a positive way.
I meditate on my own.
There’s nothing wrong with this. I meditate on my own all the time. But when I have groups at the house, I am always blown away by the force in numbers. I’m inspired by their challenges, insights, and energies, and I am often amazed at the depth of my own meditation when others are present and we are all supporting one another. The experience is enhanced. So, if you find yourself making excuses not to go to a meditation group or class, ask yourself if you are cheating yourself of a deeper experience. There is a reason that Buddha made the Sangha one of the three refuges.
Meditation is a waste of time.
Perhaps they’ve tried and “failed”, or they’ve never even bothered to try; they’ve simply decided. Really, if someone holds this idea, then they probably just aren’t ready to meditate for whatever reason, be it deep-seated fear, religious judgment, or some self-sabotaging beliefs. But it is based on a misconception. Meditation cannot be a waste of time. It can only be wasted.
The gifts one receives from a regular meditation practice are so glorious and liberating (and yes, challenging and difficult at times), but if you remain blocked by any of the above excuses, they are a treasure you will never discover. But don’t “try” and work through these blocks; none of these block, not even the latter, are substantial. Stop trying so hard. Meditation is an effortless state of simply being.
Life is Vibration & The Healing Voice
Introductory Workshops to Sound Healing
at a special introductory rate!
Are you relatively new to the world of sound as healer? I’m now offering two of my in-person introductory workshops online! Each is chock full of everything you need to know and get started in understanding and applying sound as healer in your own life.
Life is Vibration is delivered in three 1/2 hr sessions (that may run up to 40 minutes).
May 27, June 3 & 10 11AM EST
Part I: What is Sound Healing?
The Healing Equation
Effects of Sound
The Nature of Sound
Part II: How/Why does Sound Healing Work?
Resonance & Entrainment
What Happens Along the Vagus…
Part III: How to Use Sound for Healing
5+ Ways to Use Sound
Voice as Healer
Application for Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health
The Healing Voice is delivered in three 1/2 hr sessions (that may run up to 40 minutes).
May 27, June 3 & 10 at 1PM EST
Part I: The Throat Center
Throat-related Health Issues
The Purification Chakra
The Natural Voice
Part II: How Energy Moves
The Vocal Channel
Benefits of Voicework
Part III: Activation & Practices
Vocal Toning…and more!
Register for one course for 25 euros via Paypal. Or register for both and save 5 euros.
Classes are delivered via Zoom and class size is limited. You will need to download the Zoom app to whatever device you plan to use and familiarize yourself with it beforehand. Those who register must supply an active email (Paypal will ask you for it) and allow email from firstname.lastname@example.org as call details will be delivered via that email.
The best effort will be made to record classes and provide them to participants afterwards, but due to the unpredictability of technical quality, there is no guaranteed opportunity to make up a class nor are there any refunds for missed classes, so please make sure you will be available for each session before registering.
In case of technical difficulties and acts of the techno gods, classes will be rescheduled. If the rescheduled dates do not suit you, you may request a refund.
Do you know what it is to sit in the presence of unconditional love?
Last summer, I spent a weekend in satsang with a spiritual master. I don’t know what you might think of that phrase, dear reader. I don’t mean he’s a master of anyone but himself…a master of his own spirit. I don’t want to call him teacher because he really doesn’t have anything to teach, as he himself admits time and again. Teachers deal with knowledge, and I have no interest in acquiring more of that. Guru is often translated as “teacher”, so I prefer not to use that word either, although its true meaning, “disspeller of darkness” is certainly more to the point.
It has not escaped me how awkward I have felt telling people that I was going to sit with a “teacher”. I did this because they have some point of reference for teacher. If I said “spiritual master”, plenty of people would have looked at me funny, and too many people would think I had somehow given away my power to someone else, ready and willing to drink the cool-aid. In Customs at the UK airport, I had been honest about seeing a spiritual teacher. The response I received reminded me of when I was five years old and would speak of my imaginary friend. It felt just like that.
I arrived early on the first day of satsang. I was surprised to be one of only about 10 people already in line. My heart felt open, and I greeted everyone. Realizing I had time, I decided to get some breakfast. By the time I returned, the line had grown to about 25. As I waited in line, I looked around and felt so blessed. Here I was with open-hearted beings who understood. They’d experienced something too, and would not project their fears and judgments upon me…or if they did, they would not necessarily believe themselves. They wouldn’t look at me like I was crazy if I cried, nor assume I was suffering if I was. I felt safe, happy and grateful.
I was burning in the line. I knew exactly what I was going to say to Mooji given the chance. I was, in fact, determined to be the first person to speak to him:
“I was determined to speak with you, Mooji. I want to get as much as I can out of this opportunity. I came here to be seen by someone who could see me. I wanted to stand naked here and let everything show so that I knew from you, at least, I could not hide again. I don’t want to keep reinventing better versions of myself. I want to be done with myself. I want to burn, Mooji. I want there to only be ashes and not some damn phoenix that rises again. Help me burn, Mooji. I don’t trust my mind anymore. Help me relinquish this.”
Of course, none of that happened. And throughout the weekend, I’d have a pressing question or statement, raise my hand, not be called on, and so not even try the next time. Eventually, the questions and statements died away or morphed into something different, and I would again raise my hand. But I wasn’t one of the ones who ever got to speak.
Because I was early, I was in one of the first 6 rows very close to Mooji. I wanted this because, just as in the theatre, being this close allows you to be part of some special energy. Yes, it is everywhere, and yes, the entire audience can see the show, but only those up close can see the detailed expressions and sweat of the actors. It is easier to forget oneself and become part of the play. When Mooji entered the room, I spontaneously gasped. I couldn’t even see him over the heads of everyone in front of me, but I could feel him.
I loved hearing him speak. I loved the sensations that would flood me when his words felt as though they were meant only for me, answering some deep and unrecognized question within myself.
That afternoon, I lost my seat. Before lunch, they made an announcement to take all our belongings during lunch. Despite this announcement, many people left things on their seats thus saving their seats for the afternoon session. I was a little miffed at that and wished I too had ignored the rules! Fortunately, I was able to get a seat just behind the row I had been in because someone got up and left for some reason just before things got rolling again.
But my mood had changed. My mind became polluted. My attitude turned whiny. I kept thinking, “Why am I here?” I felt a little bored by the questions being asked…or sometimes jealous. I struggled to listen. Despite the effort, the truest words still landed softly and deeply.
I had to sneak out before everything finished because I had to meet my AirB&B host across town. I hated leaving and put it off to the last possible moment. I was a mess trying to find my bus…feeling rushed. As I left, the last thing I heard Mooji say was, “The whole world is late.” Somehow, I made it in time to my accommodation, and it was a sweet relief to have a base again after my first night in a hostel and having all my luggage with me all day.
That night, my muscles were a mess. I actually had charlie horses going off all over my body. It was somewhat disconcerting. I’d had plenty of water to drink. Something else was going on. My sleep was disturbed, too, but I somehow managed a little sleep.
The next morning, when I arrived for satang, the line was twice as long as the day before. While waiting in line, I began to journal some of my thoughts. Again, I was determined to speak to Mooji. I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass again as I had yesterday. I wanted to get everything I could out of this experience. I had paid dearly and I felt like it was a matter of life or death. I wanted so desperately to say:
“I’m out of time! I came here as a matter of life and death and the weekend is half over. I feel two opposing forces in me. I feel I am in a vise. There is no room for truth in the ego and there is no room for ego in Truth. When all feels connected, supported, I forget everything else as having been my experience. When I fall from grace, it is as if grace never existed. The two worlds don’t seem to know each other. I came here to wake up, but I could just have easily gone to the beach or something. I could have given this body some pleasure and comfort, but instead, I came here. I’ve spent so much money to come here, but I feel disappointed. Why did I come here?
I don’t want to follow you, Mooji, like others here. I don’t want to need you forever. I want to accept the gift you are offering and go on with my life, whatever it looks like. I don’t want to need you. I want to walk alongside as an equal. If it is as easy as you say, then why are you the only one sitting up there? If it is truly as quick and easy as you say it can be, then why are so many of us choosing to remain in suffering and limitation? And if it takes a stroke of grace, then why the hell aren’t I at the beach enjoying myself instead of trying so damned hard?”
I was so desperate to speak with him that my mind convinced me that I could cut the line because somehow, my desire to be free was more important than a queue. It completely justified itself. It tempted me, “How much do you really want your freedom? If you are serious, then you need to show it!”
So when the queue started to move, I bee-lined for the door ignoring the 50 or so people ahead of me. I still can’t believe I did that! I wasn’t the only one who had tried this maneuver, though. In fact, it happened on day 1 as well, and I thought, “Those people have some nerve!” The venue was more on top of things on day 2 though and had made it impossible for us to push ahead, so I ended up roughly where I would have been anyway. My full lesson on this whole queue-cutting issue came later.
By the time we got inside, I was sitting once more in about the same spot as the day before, but I felt as though I had stolen it. I wanted the chance to speak and publicly declare my selfishness and arrogance and then offer my seat to another who felt the same burning I had felt, but who was not as fortunate to be so close. But I didn’t get the chance at redemption. I had to sit in my “stolen” seat and burn.
I had so many questions arise and fall that I felt as though I had lived a dozen different incarnations during the weekend. Something…or someone…would arise out of nothing, want to be seen and heard, but just as suddenly would cease to exist.
When we broke for lunch, after being reminded to take our things, I left a few things on my seat, unlike the day before, ignoring the announcement to “take everything with you”. Doing so allowed me the freedom to eat in peace without rushing back for a good seat. Actually, I wondered whether they would move everything this time, but with what played out in my head at lunchtime, it started not to matter to me if I had the same seat or not.
After lunch, I found I had again crashed. But this time, it presented as deep shame over what I’d done. I was seriously ashamed at myself for having cut in front of so many people as if I was the only one with a desire to be free, the only one who mattered. I was disgusted with my mind’s ability to rationalize the action to break the queue.
Sure enough, once they reopened the hall, I found they had moved the belongings of the people who had tried to save seats to a table in the back. Tricky devils. So I now found myself about 20 rows back. A giant wave of emotion overtook me as I waited for the satsang to begin, and I ran to the bathroom to stem the violent tears that came out of nowhere.
Once satsang started, something miraculous happened. Through Mooji’s pointing, I was able to let it all go…all my questions, all my stories, all my sins… My heart opened, and I was filled with the most magnificent gratitude I’d ever felt. All I wanted in that moment was to say “Thank you, Mooji! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
I never wanted the afternoon to end, but of course, it got late. Many people were leaving, probably to catch planes and such. I was grateful that on this night, I had no where to rush off to. I was determined to stay as long as possible and milk every drop from this final day. That’s when a gift came…
With only a few minutes left to Satsang, someone 2nd row center departed. Though it seemed foolish to move for only five or so minutes, I did. Wow! It was even more powerful. Now I understood why people fought for those seats.
Mooji greeted people afterward but I couldn’t get close enough to meet him myself. I could have hung around and perhaps done so after an hour, but I was tired. And I knew he wouldn’t hang around all night to see each and every person waiting. I found myself walking back to my bus stop. My mind was going back and forth…am I missing my chance to meet him? But I trusted where my body was carrying me and let it go. I was at peace with it. I had received so much already, and I knew this was a gift that would keep on giving.
That night, I had the most beautiful dream full of love.
At the airport on the way home, I had arrived to the gate and boarding had already started. I went right through and onto the airplane. I was shocked to find the airplane mostly empty. Only then did I realize that I had boarded “priority” for no reason at all. I wondered why all those people were looking at me funny, but it simply didn’t sink in. Now I understood my lesson.
The difference is that many of the people that cut the Mooji queue may have done so without realizing what they were doing. I on the other hand did it with complete self-serving intention. I may have convinced myself that it was my desperation and will to awaken, that I was fishing for grace to grant me some boon. At the airport, however, I got to board my plane early as a direct act of grace. It was an accidental action from which I benefited. Cutting the queue was a stinky, egoic act whereas I was carried by a river to board the plane early. It is this river that I want to trust with my life…that I wish I had trusted in satsang.
Two days after the weekend, back at home, I had an ecstatic feeling sweep over me…something I’ve had before but not felt for a very, very long time. It’s sweetness and vibration was indescribable. I knew it would pass, so I gave into it and got as much as I could out of it while it stuck around. Despite the passing of such fleeting sensations, this journey marks a pivot point in my life, a deepening into spiritual maturity and a more peaceful daily life as well as a quickened path to acceptance of what is.
My two biggest lessons of the weekend: I am there before every thought, every sensation, every action and life is kinder and wiser than the mind imagines.
I recently heard that the energies we’ll be dealing with in this coming month (Feb. of ’17) relate to our issues with co-dependent tendencies. It made me curious to know more about how this may play out in my life. I’ve always been the reverse of the co-dependent. I’ve been fiercely independent…up until recently anyway when life decided to give me an opportunity to experience new levels of dependence as an expatriate.
I grew up in a home with two male alcoholics, so I am all too familiar with what co-dependency actually looks like. I’ve since spent my life rigorously defending myself from living out the self-sacrificing womanhood I was demonstrated growing up. But, I have the feeling that my thoughts on this topic are as outdated as the late John Bradshaw (sorry, John).
So, instead of indulge in a bunch of stuff that’s already been written elsewhere about the topic, I thought I would consult something that might give me a more up-to-date perspective…my Devas of Creation deck!
Before I share the results, I think it is necessary to at least define the relevant terms. So bear with me while I share the following three definitions. In everyone’s life, a tension plays out along the dependency continuum in the various realms of daily life…health, finances, work, friendships, etc. Whether it is you or the other displaying an aspect, it is helpful to have some awareness of the dynamics. If you want to know more, you’ll have to do a little research.
Dependency: the heart of any relationship. It is a human necessity to rely on and interact with others.
Co-dependency: reliance on “other” to such an extent that one relinquishes inner authority and self-esteem to maintain the status quo of the relationship. It can also be needing the other to need us, to everyone’s detriment.
Interdependency: the formation of healthy partnerships and connections. It’s mutual benefit without one-sided sacrifice. Each person enters a symbiosis with the other to utilize one another’s strengths and resources but without losing self- sufficiency.
Now that that is out of the way, on to the reading.
I asked the deck for examples of healthy and unhealthy dependency. I shuffled, cut the deck twice, and selected three cards for each question. The results felt profound, at least to me.
What We Can and Should Rely Upon
We are dependent on the blueprint of life and its fundamental elements: space, water, earth, air, and fire. We belong to Spirit. We are, as the cliche goes, a spiritual being having a human experience. We cannot separate ourselves from this, no matter how vehemently we may try…or believe it to be that we are. In realizing this, we free ourselves from so much unnecessary suffering. It’s understanding that we are never not held by Spirit.
Like the various minerals of the earth, we are dependent on certain conditions to be just so in order to allow our growth and development. Spirit is what provides everything we need in it’s time, not ours. And like the countless types of minerals that come from our earth, each of us is as unique, able to flourish when we know who and what we are. We are mistaken when we “try” to be anything other than what we are in the moment. We are dependent on the natural timing of evolution; it’s nothing we can force. And when we impose our structure upon others, we deprive ourselves of the gifts they came to provide us.
We are dependent on the perceptions and experiential phenomena of life that influences our emotions, the physical realms, and the elemental realms. As defined in the terms above, relationship and therefore dependency is necessary, but what Venus can teach us if we listen is that love is not personal. It is an impersonal force that is working upon us and in us constantly. Without it, our lives would be devoid of joy and the lightness of being. Love is what makes it all worthwhile, but our experience of it must come from inside rather than external sources. This is typical human confusion, to depend on love outside of ourselves.
What We Mistakenly Rely Upon
We are codependent with our sense of our physical self and physical reality as the ultimate reality. Yes, we are physical beings. We live in a 3D reality. But we are unhealthily attached to this being the only reality. We dismiss what can’t be seen or proven, often contrary to our own experience of it. This attachment to space and time results in a fear of death and loss. And as the definition of codependency states, we sacrifice a great deal of our power to the “almighty material”. We rely on material goods for our sense of worth, satisfaction, and comfort. We use it all as a measure of success only to discover we can’t take it with us the moment death arrives.
This continues and reasserts the theme of the spacetime card. Like the person who bears unresolved issues of codependency through overcompensation, proving how independent and useful they are, this card shows us how we fight what we know to be necessary to survive and thrive spiritually. As stated in spacetime, we identify with our riches and comforts (or lack of them). We alternate between our desire for the familiar and the novel, creating an inner desert by seeking everywhere but inside…where things are too unknown. Ironically, we each need to spend our time in the desert in order to overcome our ideas that there is anything lacking in life. Our co-dependency on “desert mentality” is the doorway to our interdependence with it.
Again, this card reiterates our codependency on the physical, on matter, on “the old physics”. We need to open our minds and embrace the power of thought to alter reality, of the placebo to heal, of waves to be particles, and of the unknown to hold unlimited potential. We are so codependent on the contracts we’ve signed to our constructs; they have become our prison. But our constructs have no more substance than dreams. Yet the way it’s been done is the way it has continued. Why are we creating the same things over and over again? Where is our creativity? The answer rests once more with Spirit, in the space between, the source of our inspiration, if we are brave enough to express that which it creates in us.
Most people are familiar or have at least heard of Tarot cards. In fact, they’ve had a resurgence in popularity recently. But did you know there has been an explosion in types of divination card decks over the last several years? Now, there are angel cards, chakra oracles, Bach flower remedy cards, Zodiac decks, you name it!
I came upon the deck I now use, the Devas of Creation, last year. It resonated with me because the art was abstract (like my own artwork) and open to interpretation, plus it focused on two aspects of nature, both the manifest and unmanifest, which ties in very well to the teachings to which I’ve been exposed on my own path. It’s a fabulously original deck that covers the elements, angels, seasons, planets, and more!
I did a reading on the energies of 2017 for a few choice arenas of life. For me, it feels right on target, and I’ve since read a few other energy predictions (Lisa Brown’s among them) that seem to align with the same ideas. I hope it gives you something to think about.
The areas of life represented appear here followed by the cards that were pulled for each:
creativity – the quantum field
dharma/purpose – eros
relationships – air
health – world tree
finances – Venus
spirituality – harvest
Here is my interpretation of the spread:
We will meet our potentials to express creatively when we observe and learn from others. When creativity allows for the multidimensional to influence expression (most easily accessed through meditation or spiritual practice), we will find new realities are possible. Creativity is meant to reaffirm and extol our unity to Source. Therefore, creativity whose purpose is so aligned will flow with the most ease in 2017.
In terms of our dharma/purpose, we are meant in 2017 to be more outgoing…light bearers in whatever occupies our time. If we can harness a higher will within ourselves, overcoming our smallness and the fears that hold us back, we can not only manifest and become with more ease, but we will touch more lives as well. What is most important here is to be a representative of Ultimate Truth, to transcend the level of opinion, half-truths, propaganda, etc.
2017 is about liberation in relationships, meaning freeing ourselves of outdated and stagnant ideas about relating. Air can help clear up our thoughts and communications, making it easier to revive what still has life and release what no longer serves. Laughing and loving is the right motivation. Bring in freshness and ease.
In terms of healing, 2017 holds powerful energies from the plant world. Turn to natural and shamanic approaches to healing. It is crucial that we improve our support structures, our internal root system, in order to receive the fuel that will be required to overcome the challenges that approach. It’s all there, available in nature, but it requires our attention, respect, and reverence.
Our abundance in 2017 is governed by Venus, goddess of beauty, the arts, sensuality and relationship. She is asking us to reach out to love, to fully embody self-love and be willing to be love in the world. The antidote to financial challenges is to love more and have the courage to share that love with others.
The spiritual harvest will be evident on both an individual and collective human experience level. Those who have been practicing what we preach, walking our walk, will find a rich harvest of spiritual strength and tools at our disposal. To help correct and alleviate human suffering, we must increase our ecological awareness and make amends. Mindfulness is key as is appreciating the small daily joys that life has to offer: the sunlight, sharing a smile, a fresh breeze, all the colors of the world. These things and our ability to see and appreciate them IS part of the harvest. If we have lapsed or been hypocritical, we will be disposed to reap a very different reality.
Here is my interpretation:2017 is about the possible differences between personal and collective reality. What will make our reality more pleasant is a wholehearted return to those things that never fail the human: nature, love, and divine connection. So, if you have a practice, cling to it. If you need a practice, find it. Spend more time with nature and let her inform you. Learn to listen to her (and yes, you are part of nature!), and whatever is keeping you from the full expression of love, it is time to forgive, accept, let go, and open.
I recently had an acquaintance on Facebook ask whether her followers made New Year’s #resolutions and why. Not surprisingly, most people answered with a resounding no saying that it was a waste of time. I responded that I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but spend time near the end of every year to set myself some guiding principles instead. What’t the difference?
The thing with New Year’s resolutions is that they generally arise out of something about ourselves we cannot accept. We’re trying to “fix” ourselves. We think we’re fat, so we resolve to lose weight. We think we’re lazy, so we resolve to exercise at the gym. We know smoking is killing us, so we resolve to quit. We all know how the story ends. Give it a few good weeks or even a couple of months, and our initial motivation dies out. We meant well, but instead of reaching a goal, we end up judging ourselves for our perceived failure. No wonder people have given up on making resolutions!
This year, why not try something completely different? The difference with creating New Year Guiding Principles is that is arises out of your values. There’s no end goal, so the energy guides you all year long. And instead of you having to control anything, you just have to let life takes its course, offering you the lessons and opportunities that align with those guiding principles. The wonderful thing about this practice is that at the end of the year, a quick review will reveal to you all the ways you actually did manifest the things you said were important to you. In my 10+ years with this practice, it never fails.
Here’s a quick guide to writing your own guiding principles. Of course, there are no rules here, so do what works for you. Be creative. The one thing I do strongly suggest, though, is that you take this seriously. Make it a ritual. Give it your undivided attention, get quiet and centered beforehand, play some nice music, light a candle. You get the idea.
Consider what you value. Begin by taking an inventory of things that matter most to you. I don’t mean material things; I mean standards of behavior. Do you value creativity? Truth? Family? Service? If you need some inspiration, Steve Pavlina has a great list to refer to here. Pick one or two things. One is enough. Any more than three and your focus will be too divided throughout the year. Now open up a journal or Word document and add your two words at the top of the page. I like to be very decorative with these.
Describe these values with a few words and how you intend for them to become fruitful in your life.
I usually write a brief paragraph explaining my choices:
This year, I am choosing “Clarity” and “Forgiveness” as my guiding principles. May all that keeps me from being clear, from being in my knowing, become apparent. May the choices and decisions I make come from a place free of confusion, blindspots, and self-doubt. May I come to forgive anyone or thing in my life that I continue to resent. May I free myself from the bitter poison of holding on to past hurts and misunderstandings. Most especially, may I be quick to forgive others in the year ahead and learn to forgive myself for past actions.
Add some specific things you’d like to do or accomplish that are inline with these values and will help you cultivate them.
For example, if you value clarity, you might decide that you’d like to focus more on meditation because that will help you gain the clarity you desire. If you value justice, maybe you’ll spend some time with the concept, deciding what it actually means to you and by paying attention for examples in your daily life of what it is and isn’t. If you value creativity, perhaps you’ll pick up some new mode of expression be it writing or painting or learning an instrument. It isn’t about anything too specific, like learning the piano. It’s about exercising your creative expression when opportunity arises so it’s free to take many forms. If you value health, maybe you’ll cut back on sugar or try new superfoods.
The important thing in step three is to keep things as “resolution free” as possible. This isn’t about reaching an end goal. You may or may not, for example, cut out sugar, but I guarantee you, will, by the end of year, be astounded at how whatever you value has come into your life in unexpected ways. You’ll be more forgiving. You’ll be more creative. You’ll be more adaptable or wise or joyous.
If you find yourself writing a list of things that sound more like resolutions, try this. Make a list of things you’ll spend less time doing and more time doing:
I will spend less time griping about what I can’t control and more time letting things roll of my back. I will spend less time zoning out on social media and more time actually socializing.
STEP FOUR: Put it away.
That’s right. Unlike a resolution that you think about constantly and use to feel rotten, don’t think about your list. Yes, the words will be in your awareness, but you don’t have to take any action. Trust life to fulfil your order and take notice when it does!
Oh, and feel free to edit at intervals throughout the year. After all, things change. Go with the flow!
STEP FIVE: End of Year Review
Come November or December, it is time to revisit what you wrote. Reflect month by month all the ways your values were expressed (or not) throughout the year. There’s no failure here. Everything is a gift, a lesson. If you just couldn’t forgive someone, you’ll now have a better understanding of how aligned you are with your values and the work that still needs to be done, if any. But more likely, you’ll be astonished at all the ways you allowed forgiveness, or whatever you value, into your life.
Most importantly, instead of berating yourself for failing to “improve” yourself by reaching some unattainable goal that you never really wanted to reach in the first place, you can feel good about living a year living in the direction of what you value. #HappyNewYear!
Throughout history, everything that lives has undergone evolutionary change over time and what have appeared to be significant growth spurts on occasion. With the human, these periods have been post-marked with the ushering in of stages such as The Great Enlightenment or The Industrial Age. We now find ourselves in The Information Age, but despite being inundated with knowledge, believe it or not, there are still plenty of things we don’t know…about ourselves, the natural world, and the Universe at large. The worst part about all this information is that it gives us the illusion we know it all. So when we find ourselves experiencing the inexplicable or inconceivable, we try to fit it into our existing framework and fail miserably. Or worse, we deny what is taking place, shutting our eyes to opportunity and growth.
Right now, I have a string of clients all complaining of some of the same things, which I’ll get to in a moment. I’ve no doubt that many of you reading will discover that you are experiencing some of the same symptoms for which my clients sought me out. They thought that something was desperately wrong with them. They feared they are losing their minds. What I am about to explain I hope will put you at ease and give you a new frame of reference through which to view what you too may be experiencing. I will attempt to keep it as simple, clear, and free from unnecessary jargon as possible.
You see, we are on the cusp of one of some pretty big evolutionary growth spurts!
This article will be merely an introduction to the symptoms affecting a greater and greater portion of humanity. The special thing about these symptoms is that your doctor will find no conceivable explanation for you having them. He’ll either tell you they are psychosomatic or want to push some pill on you to make you quiet and happy. You can decide for yourself what to believe about this list and how it might apply to you, but make no mistake: if you (or someone you know) are experiencing these, you are not alone.
But first, let me explain that we are vibratory beings. By that, I mean that if we could see at the atomic level, we’d discover we are primarily space and that the atoms that “form us” are in constant, jostling motion. We are also highly sensitive to other vibrations or energy…music can alter our moods, foods can cause allergies, winter can darken our mood. Many other subtler energies also affect us constantly.
In fact, jus as we are outwardly affected by changes in weather, enjoying a sunny day or dealing with the catastrophic results of a hurricane, we can also be inwardly affected by another type of weather we can refer to as Human Weather. You’ve probably heard about the idea that “we’re all one,” whether or not you believe it to be true. It doesn’t matter, really, if it fits your current belief system or not. It is perhaps more accurate to say that we are all connected. In other words, when mass amounts of people are being slaughtered in the name of religion, we all feel it on some level. When mass amounts of people are afraid or hungry or destitute, we feel that too. And when our brothers and sisters turn against one another in racial hatred, that hatred affects us all with a deep and irreconcilable sickness of spirit. Have I gone too far? I hope not. Stay with me.
There is another type of weather, a Universal weather signified by planetary changes including those of the sun. These too have an affect on the sensitive instruments we are. Make no mistake. There are many changes going on, from climate to pole shifts to solar flares. These all have an impact on the human form from our physical bodies to our emotional and mental bodies, even our spiritual selves.
So, if you are suddenly experiencing any of the following symptoms for the first time in your life or for the first time in a long time or perhaps on a more regular basis (in other words, it is out of the ordinary for YOU) , take heart. You are not necessarily “sick” in the traditional sense and you are definitely not losing your mind. Your body and mind is either reacting to the various weather patterns out there or you are experiencing very deep level changes that will resolve with time, not with pills or addictive substances!
You may be experiencing rather unexpected dietary changes, from being sensitive to certain foods all of the sudden to having strong cravings for others. You might be eating far more or far less. You might be experiencing weeks of nausea or you might be eating all day long while still feeling hungry. You may not want to eat at meal times, but rather at very unusual times. Many report changes in the body’s ability to digest either certain foods or even everything one eats. Life long vegetarians, for example, may have to eat some meat. Life-long meat eaters suddenly can’t look at meat anymore. Some report (myself included) that food no longer tastes the same. You may have sudden weight gain or loss that cannot be attributed to diet. Again, what’s important here is how it is presenting itself for you…that it is out of your ordinary.
Sleep Patterns & Energy Levels
Many people are experiencing waking between the hours of 2 and 4 AM. Others are having all out insomnia while others need more and more sleep or naps during the day. You may have spent your life happy with 8 hours of sleep, and then, suddenly, 10 hours is never enough. Or exhaustion comes on so suddenly, you have no choice but to drop wherever you are. You might find yourself on a three night streak of creativity that can’t be ignored, keeping you up. Or you might feel the need to do nothing but sit around all day long watching total fluff. Motivation will seem to have disappeared overnight even on a project that you were excited about just a day ago. If you roll with it, these periods will pass on their own, but if you stress over the changes, you’ll find them a source of anxiety and worry.
Emotions can run hot and high. Things that ordinarily you could control are inciting you (or your loved ones) to react in uncharacteristic ways. You may find yourself crying right there at work in the middle of the day or laughing out loud for absolutely no good reason. You might be quick to impatience, irritation or anger…or even bouts of spontaneous joy, wondering “where that ” just came from.
You may find that your thoughts seem excessive. You may be hearing yourself think more and more. These thoughts can be odd, as if the thoughts of someone else entirely, or they can be disturbingly dark. The mind can race and put a negative spin on everything provoking other symptoms such as anxiety or depression. Or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, maybe you are finding things very quiet in there for the first time. This may or may not be disconcerting depending on your interpretation of it.
Perhaps how you relate to others is changing. Maybe you suddenly don’t really relate anymore to a lifelong best bud. Or maybe you find yourself looking at a stranger when sitting across from your beloved. You might even see a stranger looking back at you in the mirror. Let friends fall away. New ones will come. Let toxic patterns fade. They will be replaced with more functional patterns. You may find yourself not wanting to hang out with people at all, even if that feels lonely. Or, you might be a life-long introvert who suddenly can’t stand being alone. You might feel sadly disconnected from everyone and everything, and this too can be disconcerting. With this often comes a longing to connect to your true tribe.
Lives are changing in more and more dramatic ways and within quicker timelines. Circumstances outside our control step in in order to shuffle us around. Jobs are lost, evictions take place, relationships crumble, money troubles challenge. Yes, of course this is always happening to everyone anyway. So I’m talking here about extraordinary changes…multiple changes in multiple areas. I’m talking about challenges to one’s sense of safety, identity, and place in the world. These changes often provoke deep questions such as “Why am I here?” or “What do I really want?” You may be in a period of having no answers and this can cause great inner turmoil. Stay with it. These changes are meant to open new doors and new possibilities more fitting to your truth and path.
Memory Loss, Confusion and Spacey-ness
Not being able to remember simple things like a deeply ingrained password can cause concern, especially if it happens out of the blue. Some days, it may be hard to think straight at all. The head is in the clouds, and sorting through even a run-of-the-mill problem is just too much to take even if normally you’re king or queen of detail. It might be harder to make decisions or know which path to take. This generally passes in a few days or even after a couple of weeks…sometimes leading to intense periods of productivity and creativity.
You might be having some very troubling dreams as of late, perhaps a streak of nightmares. Maybe your dreams are more colorful or full of images and characters you barely recognize, as if you are dreaming someone else’s dreams. You may be more lucid or have intensely beautiful dreams, too. Or you might be experiencing some unusual activity before falling asleep…hearing voices or seeing images that are more than dreamlike and more akin to messages from somewhere.
The most important thing about this symptom is that the person having them generally knows they wouldn’t actually act on them. They just happen. This is perhaps one of the most disconcerting symptoms for many people. All I can say is, you’re not alone and you’re not losing it. Something is definitely affecting the weather! Try not to take it too personally when you find yourself fantasizing or planning a quick exit. Detach from the thoughts, as best you can. Shake them off in each moment you have them. If they return, don’t pick them up. If you fear you’ll act or these thoughts are very convincing, then you need to seek the appropriate help. We don’t want to lose you!
Other Oddities: Out of Time/Space, Out of Sorts
You might find that on certain days you wake up, turn around, and find it’s time for bed already. You might have the weird sensation of timelines merging or alternate realities tugging at your sense of the real…as if you’re dreaming all day long. You might just find yourself in a grand funk…unable to put your finger on why you just can’t seem to function at all in any way, shape, or form. Strange synchronicities may occur also, things you just can’t ignore.
These are perhaps the most obvious and therefore the most common symptoms being reported. Is one out of every three people really depressed? And if those statistics are true, then maybe depression is a normal part of life and not some kind of mental illness! Regardless, if you are feeling depressed for the first time in your life or having panic attacks and anxious feelings for no apparent reason, it doesn’t mean there’s something you need to be medicated for. You may just need to learn to be with these feelings as they pass through you. They may be asking you to look deeper. Seek help if you need it. Take medication if you think it will help, but realize that you can’t get away from the root causes of these feelings until you actually face them and deal with them.
And now for some of the more physical Symptoms:
Frequent, intense, and constant headaches might occur, as may visual phenomena like seeing colored lights or flashes. Pressure or soreness around the bones of the skull can also occur. Again, this can signify something more tangible, so follow your instinct and get checked out by a doctor if you want. But when he tells you he can’t find any possible reason for it, that you’re 100% healthy, and that it is all in your head (no pun intended), don’t let that shake you. You’re going to be okay. What’s happening runs deeper than anything any doctor could ever diagnose. It’s all part of a bigger change taking place.
Flu-like Symptoms Including Muscle Aches & Joint Sensations
Many people report what they lovingly call “ascension flu”. They don’t really have the flu, but they are experiencing all the symptoms of the flu from feeling terribly run down with no appetite to even having a bit of a fever. The muscle aches and joint pain associated with flu are also present, and of course, these can appear on their own as well. The thing that lets you know something unusual is taking place is how unusual the symptoms tend to be and with no apparent cause. It’s just an all-over malaise, though it can also be as specific as a bizarre sensation in the left elbow or right tip of the little toe where something is stored in the body and being worked out.
Chills & Sweats
Temperature sensitivities are common as many report either waves of chills or sweats, either all over or centered in one specific part of the body.
Is your heart racing madly for no apparent reason? This is also a commonly reported symptom. I’ve been sure I was having a heart-attack numerous times, but I never was. Was is stress? Chalk it up to whatever you want, there are days when something might play with your heart rhythm leaving you feeling panicked or thinking you need a heart specialist. Don’t be surprised when the heart specialist tells you everything checks out hunky-dory. While that brings a sigh of relief in the moment, when the symptoms returns, that relief quickly fades. It helps to know others are experiencing inexplicable changes in the heart center as well.
Finding it hard to walk a straight line? Join the club! There may be days when you are suddenly having to catch yourself from toppling. Some people even have to spend the day in bed until this feeling subsides. What is it? Who knows? Changes in gravitational pull?
Sensory Perception Sensitivity
Many are reporting tinnitus-like symptoms of high frequency buzzing in the ears. I used to get a flapping wing sensation in both ears. Increased sensitivity to noise is also common. Even what is usually pleasing music can be too much as a deep need for silence takes over. Are your eyes wigging out? Going blurry? Seeing things like flashes of light in dark corners? Sensitivity to light can also occur. In fact, any of the senses can experience shifts…from taste as discussed in diet, to touch with people reporting strange strokes or pricks upon the skin, to smell and the sudden perception of inexplicable odors.
This is by no means a complete inventory of the bizarre symptoms affecting a wide range of people. What makes these symptoms unusual is that they cannot be linked to any physical manifestations of illness. They are inexplicable, at least according to traditional paradigms. They often pass or shift on their own fairly quickly. But if one isn’t aware that this is happening on a global scale, if one starts to think something is wrong, the problems can intensify with the resistance and fear. Then when a doctor says, “It’s all in your head,” (or worse, shrugs and writes an unnecessary prescription) you think you’re going nuts. I assure you, you’re not. You’re in good company. We are changing. Our bodies are purging lifetimes of antiquated traumas, beliefs structures, and stagnation.
Finding ways to deal with these symptoms is beyond the scope of this article, but there are plenty of healthy ways to do so, from taking on a regular exercise program, to getting plenty of rest, to drinking more water, and taking up a meditation practice, to name a few. But if you are experiencing them, you are urged to take any necessary steps to support yourself. There will be those who resist and they will have the worse time of it. Embrace and lean into what is happening. Trust it. Trust yourself. Turn to those who have an understanding of what is happening and who can offer you tools to cope. The times, they are a changing, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The only other option is to be left behind.
This is the fourth part on a series of articles about Navigating Transformation which can be find on Obooks Blog: Part I Part II Part III
I had a dream not that long ago. I was with a group of children rolling around and playing. We were laughing and having such a silly time of it. When it was time for me to go, I felt I had to say something. I told them all how much I appreciated playing like that again and watching them too and that I had no doubt of the importance of allowing ourselves to play. I encouraged them to keep playing, keep laughing, keep having unbridled fun for as long as they could in life, for these things could save the world.
This dream sort of came true for me recently when I taught a group of expat kids a creative drama workshop. It was a joyous day for me because the kids were so uninhibited and alive. Their eyes still shone with the light of their hearts. They weren’t afraid to act silly, take a chance, or imagine something that wasn’t real. They gave me hope…and fits of laughter.
I’ve never thought myself all that unusual, but the more I engage with random folk and not just friends, the more I see myself as an oddity. So many “grown ups” seem so happy to argue for their limitations believing they can’t do this or that, that they are too old, too tired, too inflexible, and too late. They are terrified of making a fool of themselves, to try something new. What an excruciating way to live! If there’s something you love and you want to do it, go after it. You might not be the next Picasso or Barbara Streisand, but so what? You might never sell your book and perhaps no one will ever hear your song, but if it is inside of you, for heaven’s sake, let it out! Who cares who’s watching? Who cares who’s judging?
I think we have “growing up” all wrong. For so many people, the act of growing up stole their essence. They exchanged wonder for skepticism and their favorite toy for their favorite addiction, numbing themselves to the pain of a joyless life. Growing up isn’t meant to be growing away from ourselves. Growing up is growing away from and beyond all the bullshit we’ve been taught to believe. Growing up is remembering how to be childlike without being childish. Growing up is a remembering, not a leaving things behind. Only then are we truly alive and wonder-full, a creative force to be reckoned with. Go play!
“You won’t believe what happened to me this morning. My life is forever changed. I was eating crackers waiting impatiently for the completion of a download on a 56K modem. I broke a cracker with my thumb for more manageable eating, and the cracker broke into the peace sign. Sure, I know what you’re thinking…so what? I didn’t think much of it either until I broke a second cracker into the exact same configuration. Then I had no doubt. It was a miracle…a sign to pay attention. And now I can find peace in anything!”
We all tell ourselves stories. Things happen, people say things, we have experiences, and we interpret and place meaning and value on all of it. We decide whether it is good or bad, important or meaningless, providence or coincidence. We choose. The trouble is, we are so invested in our interpretations we forget that anyone else having the same experiences might tell an entirely different story. And without being attached to our own version, we might find theirs just as valid. We forget that we too can tell a different story, see things in a completely different way.
Instead, we limit ourselves and others with our stories. We cast ourselves as victims or heroes or villains or victors, and we forget that we are just telling ourselves stories. We identify so deeply with the stories we tell ourselves we tend to believe in them whether they serve us or not. Sure, we all have great stories about how we finally got what we worked so hard for or finally spoke up for ourselves. Those stories feel good. But so often, we write like the soap opera writers, with such drama and tragedy! Or in writing a story of great self-importance, we end up defeated, afraid, and confused when things don’t turn out like we expected. And then we tell another story to explain why. So at times like these, it is best to remember, we are just making things up as we go along!
We interpret the signs, the words, the expressions, the events that happen to us. And those interpretations in turn influence the stories that come later. So it’s important to be aware of the stories we tell and to remember it’s all in our heads, no matter how we choose to see things. And we have so many choices! One person may see the shape of a broken cracker as a sign from God and be so inspired that he starts a program to feed the hungry in his neighborhood. Another person could see that same cracker and think of the irony of such a symbol in a time of war, getting lost in the despair of death and destruction. Still another person might have been so distracted that she didn’t even notice the pattern…but had she been paying attention, what story would she have made up for herself?
My cracker incident got me thinking about what kind of storyteller I am. Do my stories serve me or limit me? What kinds of stories do I want to tell? I clearly have a choice. I can shrink myself and my world with my stories or I can inspire and encourage myself and others. I’ve decided I want to tell beautiful and empowering stories. If I can find peace in a cracker, with mindful storytelling, I can find peace in anything.
Incidently, when I ate my third cracker, it didn’t break into the peace sign. I guess it only had to happen twice for me to write this story.
Many years ago, about this same time of year, I spent a weekend at a women’s workshop at the Garden of the Goddess, a retreat ranch outside of Santa Fe. What I learned about myself came as a bit of a surprise because it seemed like an “insignificant belief” but it actually had very far-reaching effects. I believed that if anyone ever gave me support or helped me in any way, I felt beholding to them disproportionately. This is a simple belief and one easily rationalized away by my intellect. But wait ‘til you see what it had been doing to my decision-making.
First, to explain the belief. I will use a real-life example that incidentally happened the week before the workshop. At work, I asked the technical director to cut some thin lumber to cover the shelves of an organizing unit since the slotted construction of the shelves made them fairly useless. She did so. And afterwards, taking the sheets of wood under my arm, I asked, “What can I bake you?” For some reason, I felt like I owed her a personal favor in return for the favor she did me in cutting the wood. The ironic thing is that she didn’t really do me a favor at all. She did a favor for the office…and then, is that even a favor? She is employed same as I to keep the company functional. But the problem for me does not really lie in the “was it a favor or not” question. I was grateful to her regardless. The problem lies in the fact that my feeling gratitude wasn’t enough. I had to do more, even taking personal time and going to expense to prove it.
It ultimately comes down to self worth. Had I had a sense of worth that said, “yes, I accept this person’s effort” or “I deserve this help that I am receiving”… Instead, my hidden belief was that I did not deserve what others were willing to do for me, and if I wasn’t careful in covering that up with lots of gifts and overzealous thanks, they would see that I was not worth it. Or even worse, everyone else would realize I’m worthless and therefore expect me to pay back big time if they did me a favor.
A joke was made at the workshop to help me bring this shadow into the light of absurdity: “Thanks for the foot massage; what kind of car can I buy you? Thanks for the Kleenex; would you like a new wardrobe?” My perceptions were not only that screwy but were accompanied by a bizarre sense of guilt that I could not respond.
Once I started to spend more thought on this one issue in my life, I became aware of so much more. For one thing, this belief ties in to both my parents. My father was always showing love by buying, feeding, forcing. Yet, he never really gave himself, his presence. I had inherited that trait. I didn’t see my presence, my love, as enough. I don’t blame my father in any way because after all, it has to be an ancient belief. We each simply inherited it like a gene. Had he known differently, he might have done differently. He might have realized his true worth, his self, was enough. On the flip side was my father’s belief that he was not appreciated, a belief frequently made apparent, hence, my warped perception of gratitude not being enough.
My mother on the other hand contributed to my perceptions because she was so sacrificial. She would give us kids anything…and not always with a smile but often with a martyred sigh. While other children may have interpreted this experience differently, I interpreted it as meaning that mothers have to give ‘til they are dry and always put others first’. I also perceived a huge void in my mother that I felt responsible to fill as her beloved daughter…an impossible task since no one outside of the self can ever fill a hole for us, hence the guilt for not being able to fulfill another’s needs.
Complicating my beliefs about payback and gratitude was another belief I discovered about asking for what I need. It was revealed to me in a dream I had a few nights before the weekend. It didn’t make sense until I had the rest of the pieces of the puzzle. I dreamed that my father had cut off his thumb. My sister was on the phone to my mother telling her, “You have to take him to the doctor now!” and my mother saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad.” I realize now that the dream was about my own inability to take my needs seriously. I have held a belief that I have to be more than uncomfortable, more than in pain, more than sick to seek assistance. It has often resulted in exercises of endurance.
Can you see how my fear of payback also influenced my ability (or inability) to ask for what I really need? And if I just waited until it was an emergency, then I wouldn’t have to worry about not being deserving enough.
With this awareness, I could then continue to see how these ingrained beliefs played out in my life behind my field of vision. I had more opportunities to take a different point of view about my worth and my responses to others, and started taking responsibility to meet my own needs whether that meant asking for help when I was afraid to do so or helping myself when I’d rather look outside of myself. A single thread unraveled a whole blanket of misperception.
The act of discovery, while often painful to approach, has the awesome ability to greatly lessen the power our beliefs have had over decisions and choices and greatly empowers us with a new awareness to make new choices. It’s magic…when we’re willing to do the work.
If everything is a matter of perception, through what lens do I see the world? It is a question I have been asking myself lately and frequently, having read Emotional Alchemy by Tara Bennett-Goleman, a book which I very highly recommend. In it, she discusses the cognitive habits and beliefs we have that skew our perceptions of reality in all manner of self-fulfilling prophecies.
Work gave me the perfect opportunity to observe exactly the dangers such habits can wreck on an otherwise happy life. One day, I received a phone call from a woman asking to speak to our accountant. I asked her who was calling for him, as I always do in order to announce the call, as is considered standard procedure. She became very irate without ever simply answering me and hung up. Several minutes later, we received a fax that said, “Tony, I can’t seem to get passed the person who answers the phone. Here’s the information you wanted.” It made me laugh because all she had to do was tell me who she was. But, she must have had some belief in place somewhere in her subconscious that morning that made it true for her that I was giving her a hard time, singling her out, making her unimportant. None of that could be further from the truth for me.
The incident made me wonder, how often do I react “as if” something is true making my life harder than it has to be? It saddens me to think of all the times I’ve taken something personally and then suffered emotionally over what was nothing at all. No wonder one of the four agreements is to not take anything personally. It reminds me of a song that Ella Fitzgerald sung, “we made up and then, quarreled again, all over nothing at all.”
That same day at work, I got a call from a woman who wanted to be added to our audition mailing list. She was upset that she hadn’t been getting mailings as she used to “get them all the time and someone must have removed” her from the list. I then asked for her birth year, again standard procedure. She answered and then asked why I needed to know. I explained that we use birth years to save costs on mailings that only apply to certain age groups. For instance, it would be a waste to mail audition notices to people over 30 if the show calls for children and young adult actors. She became furious admonishing me not to judge her without seeing her. There was no comforting her, and the call thankfully ended. When I ran her name in the computer, her name was still on the list. It turned out that she had moved; she just never updated her address.
It became so clear to me that she was seeing everything through the lens of deprivation. Her belief that she would be mistreated, forgotten, and unwanted is exactly what she set herself up to experience. She reacted to me as if that we already so. Ironically, I got another call a few minutes later from a woman asking to be added to the same list. When I hesitatingly asked her for her birth year, she too wanted to know why. I explained, and she responded, “Oh, that’s a really good idea!”
We all do it. We all look perceive through the lenses of our previous wounds and experiences. We set ourselves up to experience exactly what we most fear. Seeing things as they really are and taking responsibility for what we’ve created is a stepping stone to freedom. Now that I am becoming more aware of my ability to choose which lenses I use, why not rose-colored glasses?
Last year around this time, I went to Oaxaca & Teotihuacan, Mexico with a group of healing-driven colleagues of The Wishing Well. Always an amazing journey, last year’s was no exception. One of the activities we were told in advance we’d be doing was making a powerstick, a representation of our unique ray of light in the world and our will to recover it. I had done this many years before, once when I entered my first Toltec apprenticeship with Gary Van Warmerdam of Pathway to Happiness, and when I entered my second Toltec apprenticeship with Raven Smith of TOCI (then Spiritweavers). Those sticks were both long gone. So I collected new materials and put them in my suitcase.
On the night of the ceremony, facilitated by Oskana Yufa, as I witnessed others making their sticks, many for the first time, something in me didn’t resonate. I didn’t want another stick encased in red cloth with two feathers attached. I didn’t even like my chosen stick anymore. So I ended up not making one. I questioned my decision once or twice that trip, but then I let it go.
Now for those of you who don’t know me well, since I returned from that trip to Teo, I’ve been having the worst year of my life…knotty and bent like the stick I’d chosen. It has been so, so difficult. But everything has finally started to shift for me in really big ways after that last eclipse we just had. It’s been so magical. And man, have I earned it! (Whatever that means!)
A few days ago, having come through quite a bit of pain to a place of deep surrendering, I drove to a park (it was raining) to let quite a few pent-up tears finally go. I decided that I would not let this excruciating year be for naught. Whatever I’d experienced, I would use it to empower myself and triumph. I would be there for myself no matter the outcomes to situations in which I found myself. I would move towards what I want and away from what I don’t and stop being afraid all the time. And I would be absolutely honest with myself and others in the process. It would all serve to make me a better healer and human being, because that’s the way it is and the way it will be. Afterwards, when I opened the car door, right at my feet on the ground was a stick. Not having thought about power sticks for a year, I recognized it instantly as a power stick presenting itself to me, so I picked it up and took it home. Interestingly, the day before I discovered my stick, I received an initiation into Tera Mai Reiki from founder, Kathleen Milner. In a meditation with her, two feathered serpent heads came barreling in from behind me breathing the fire of Spirit.
Before I did anything with my stick, I wanted to just sit with it. Upon examining it, I saw that it had two ends emanating from a knot in the middle. I knew that one end would represent my bound and conditioned self, the knot would be the pivot point (or point from which I can change my perspective in any moment), and the opposite end would represent my unconditioned, creative, potential self (something that wouldn’t have been if I’d made the one in Teo).
I needed to buy materials to make my stick, so off I went to the fabric store two days later. My expectation was that I’d make half the stick traditional using the red cloth and half as anything I wanted. But when I got to the store and started looking, the reds just weren’t speaking to me. After trying to make my “free choice” fabric fit with red, I spotted the cloth I wanted for my unconditioned self…a really fun peacock-inspired print with all of my favorite colors in it that spoke to me of unlimited possibility, creativity, and joy. The red would have looked awful with it. So, breaking with tradition (par for the course), I chose gray for the conditioned self instead which spoke to me of the clouds that roll in and obscure truth, of the colorless habits and dullness of spirit that enfold me when I lose awareness. In addition, instead of thread or string, I bought colorful leather strips to bind it all.
I wrapped my stick that night and really enjoyed feeling creative again after such a long year of feeling on again off again from my creative self. I still had the two feathers I’d found last year…a crow feather and a hawk feather…so I tied those to the stick as well. I also had a gorgeous obsidian stone to place at the pivot point given to me by my Wishing Well colleague, Mike (thanks, Mike!), so I have a bit of Teo represented.
There was something missing. So over the next couple of days, I went to two different bead stores to find further symbols and colors to decorate my stick. Oh, lord, was I in heaven! All those shiny, sparkly pretty things to choose from in every color imaginable! I had already seen amber in my mind’s eye so I chose two amber beads for protection, purple beads for Spirit, a lapis bead for clear vision, and other beads just because I loved them. I chose rose quartz and a key which hangs from the conditioned self reminding me I can unlock the prison of a mental state at any moment with an easy shift to the heart.
There’s more symbolism present, but you get the idea. I had so much fun creating my stick, a stick that carries so much meaning for me, and am grateful for the completion of a task intended an entire year ago. Now I use it in meditation to shift my awareness when I realize I am stuck in the conditioned self. I don’t even need to hold it; I can just visualize it and flip it in my mind.
I can’t help but connect it all together: my trip to Teo last year, my new relationship and marriage, the timing of the eclipse, the Reiki, all leading to such powerful and profound shifts within my being. Along with all of these came a bolt of lightening this week which finally reset and grounded my inner compass in more ways than one. I’ve let go of some things that were no longer serving me (mostly bad habits, like sugar, and trying to force things, for example) and recommitted myself to my own healing. It all feels really, really good. It’s a powerstick shift!
Recently, I’ve felt as though I was holding a compass whose needle just kept spinning in circles. I’ve been going through so much change in my life. I know, so many of us can lay claim to that statement; the world itself is changing at a rapid pace. Having married, closed my business, sold my house, 90% of my belongings, and moved to a different country without speaking the language, I recently found myself wondering what had happened to my center. I’d relinquished so much comfort and control over my outer life and felt pressured to make too many really important decisions in too small a time frame. The stress was taking me under, submerging me in a depression the likes of which I haven’t seen for some time. I started to wonder where I’d gone. I would check in with my inner compass every so often in the hopes it had stabilized, but that damned needle just kept bouncing back and forth in a rather disconcerting fashion. So I reached out for help.
Thanks to a group of worldwide colleagues who comprise a Toltec wellness circle known as The Wishing Well and the founders in particular, Gene Nathan and Oksana Yufa I started to come around. With their support, I realized I was investing my whole self, happiness and all, into making my overseas life and marriage work. I was so heavily invested that I couldn’t see what it was doing to me. I was swinging wildly between either denying and exaggerating everything that was going wrong because there was just too much at stake. I was pushing through and ignoring my body and spirit. I was in total fear and at the mercy of the ongoing conflicting voices in my head.
When I finally and wholeheartedly made the commitment not to invest my happiness outside of myself, I went for a long walk in the fields. I could feel a presence or two with me. I kept turning around expecting to see someone, but there was “no one” there, except of course my angels. At first, I was walking with a mission to sort it all out. Then, I got the message to just stop–something that Oksana urged me to do. As I felt my head clear, I heard myself affirm that I am the most important person in my life. Period. I also heard myself say that my happiness is more important than anything. It’s more important than my need to be with someone. It’s more important than my need for comfort. It’s more important than my fear of survival. It’s more important than my desire to live in France. It’s more important than any of the dreams I have for myself, in fact, and more important than the people in my life. It’s more important than being right or wrong, more important than having it my way, more important than appearances, pride, or having things appear a certain way…more important than anything. The deeper into it I went, the more I realized how backward I had it all in my head. Despite “knowing” happiness was not something found outside myself and despite “knowing” that I didn’t need something to happen or not happen to be happy, I was still living as if it was and as if it did. The truth was so incredibly liberating!
This newfound awareness has created so much space in and around me. I no longer fear what will happen. Will Stuart and I stay together? Will we end up living in two separate countries visiting each other every 6 months? Have I lost everything for nothing? Will I move back to the states? Where on earth will I go? It no longer matters because happiness is the most important thing. No matter what happens, I choose happiness. It is an added blessing that Stuart agrees with this approach.
This is NOT to say that I will ignore the fear, pain, grief, whatever. It does NOT mean that I will not feel sadness or disappointment ever again. Of course not. I have no desire to repress anything and fall asleep again. I will take it ALL and be happy ANYWAY!
Now when I look down at my inner compass, the needle points to happiness. And that’s really the only direction I’ll ever really need.
Bottom line, Divine Guidance is LOVE. Ego is FEAR, false evidence appearing real.
Eeee!!! I did it. Um…WE did it!!! 36 consecutive blogs on Divine Guidance.
Rather than comment on this last pairing directly, I think I’d like to spend some time reviewing what I’ve learned through this 36-day virtual adventure:
1. For me, Divine guidance speaks in a language beyond words. If I’m hearing a loving language, I am hearing the Voice of Love, which is still pretty much ego…just a kinder, gentler, somewhat “reformed” version of it.
2. Divine guidance guides me toward acceptance of what is without destroying the miracle of what can be.
3. Ego is relentless, cunning, deceptive, and had the desire to survive at any cost. In any moment, I can be 100% sure that I do not perceive my own best interests.
4. If I’m feeling bad or beginning to suffer over anything, it is a sure sign my ego has pulled the wool (or veil) over my eyes. I am focused on the wrong things.
5. The best way for me to discern Divine guidance from ego is to stop doing, stop thinking, and simply sit and observe myself and situation quietly.
6. It isn’t nearly as complicated or mysterious as I make it out. Divine guidance is simple and elegant. It does, however, require a great deal of both courage and trust to listen.
How do you distinguish between Divine guidance and ego?