Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gifts We Might Miss if Not Seeking to Find

Disappointment is the flavor of the day.  In short, that means some things aren’t going as I want them to, and with the thoughts I’m thinking about this, I’m making myself miserable.

Yet, I’m not letting the thoughts and feelings rule my evening.  The sense of disenchantment, entitlement unfulfilled, rooted in expectation that things go as I want them to and the incumbent thoughts are like a scent.  I smell the scent, admittedly, it’s not a pleasant one, but there are other scents present and even the absence of scent.  I’m not having a really easy time noticing those other scents, or paying attention to them – but I know they are there.  This is huge!  This is awareness in action, awareness brought to the workings of my mind and interrupting patterns of thinking that have been habitual.

As one disappointment arose today, I even recognized it as a response to something out of balance, a corrective response.  This recognition was grounded in trust of Life.  Wow!  This is cause for celebration!
September 30, 2010

I wrote this 6 days after my kitty-boy died, quite unexpectedly.  No wonder I was feeling a plethora of stuff that was less than uplifted.

When Tora died, the grief hit me so hard that I knew – based on experience – that I would be physically ill in very short order and it would, likely take months to regain stability.  With this awareness I thought, ‘This pattern must change.  There has to be a way to honor my feelings that is not so hard on my body, and is not denial.’  

Tora was an amazing cat.  He truly felt like a Shaman to me his presence in my life seemed to have spiritual purpose.  If his companionship had a purpose than his departure did too, I claimed.  I determined that through his death I was going to find a new way to relate to the intensity of my emotions.  My emotions were going to be seen, acknowledged, accepted, but they were not going to derail me.  This big loss was not going to result in months of illness.  This change, I was going to make for Tora.  His death was going to have meaning and power in my life of a very positive nature.

It’s been about two months since my little guy died.  I often tear up when I think of him.  Just as often I smile, because he was such a joy and such a character.  I did not get sick.  At moments the feelings would seem like a vortex that was going to suck me in and I would remember my determination that his death was going to have a positive impact on my life, it was going to be my bridge to a new relationship with the intensity of my emotions.  I don’t recall much of how I worked with my emotions, I recall that at times they seemed to have such a powerful pull.  I was very mindful of handling his things around my home, being really present to what I wanted to do with his toys and other things.  I visited his grave out back some mornings.  Somehow, it must have been grace, I managed to honor my feelings and not be so impacted by them that I got ill.  A new relationship with my feelings was forged.  Yeah, I still get overwhelmed by them and forget how what I have access to that will help me through until a friend reminds me.  But, the difference in how I am working with intense emotions is profound.  Truly, it was a gift my precious Tora gave to me.

For more of my writing and a piece about Tora – coming in the near future – see  There are writers to be found there who will delight, inform, inspire and guide.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughts on Thought

As my practice of Spring Forest Qigong has continued, I’ve come to understand that it really is thought that I am dealing with.  What arises on the physical is an ‘out-picturing’ of thoughts and beliefs I’ve given attention to, sometimes for a very long time.  At the beginning of my practice session, just after saying the password: “I am in the Universe, the Universe is in my body, the Universe and I are combined together,” (which I say to align my energies with the Universe, a Power Greater than myself, Love – there are a lot of possible ways to say this) I identify my intention for the session of practice.  This is the moment when I identify the problem.  “Please, help me to heal….”  After that, my attention is on the Wholeness of Being, the utterly balanced energy of the Universe, generously giving to me what I need, and me receiving that energy.  I tune into the sensations of that experience on every level I can, visually, sensations of the body, and subtle sense that is beyond words.

As time passes, I am more and more convinced that the only thing that needs to be healed is what I give my attention to.  This seems like tricky stuff to talk about.  Let me jump in with some history.

From a very young age, I was told that if I was having a problem, I must want it.  The person who was saying this wasn’t really trying to help me.  S/he was expressing his/her pain inappropriately.  It was an abusive response to my experience.  It took many forms; it went on for many, many years.

As an adult, encountering the idea that our thoughts have a lot of influence over our experience – oddly enough – was not a thoroughly reprehensible suggestion.  It made some sense to me.  But, it did bump into the experiences of childhood, the confusion, the pain, the blame, the accusation of personal failure for having a difficulty.  And the idea, even in adulthood, was not very skillfully presented!  (That just said, is an example of my gift for understatement.)  I do, I really do understand the idea that what we experience is greatly influenced by what we think, believe and focus on is difficult to sidle up to.  Even if one has not experienced the abusiveness around this concept that I did as a child.  It’s very uncomfortable for most of us.  It flies in the face of how we go about living our lives in our culture.  It is definitely a swim against the current of experience and our world.  And how the heck do we deal with this idea and not feel utterly overwhelmed by the enormity of the task to be aware of our thinking?

There are answers to that question, but it doesn’t actually need to be answered.  It is something which we can approach indirectly, and by many, many methods.  My approach is Spring Forest Qigong practice, and various meditative practices.   I do things I love to do that have me focused on the Wholeness of Being, feeling the energy of it, right here, in my little body.  And when my attention goes off to something – very often a ‘problem’ – just bringing it back to the practice at hand.  This process of spending time experiencing Life at a very ephemeral level opens me to receiving everything I need, on all levels of life.  I don’t have to figure it all out.  I don’t have to come up with the right plan and make certain I put it into action.  I just need to enter into those things in my life where I feel the Pulse of Life breathing me.  I don’t have to be able to do it all the time.  I can start where I am and it will build with the attention I’m able to give it.  It’s a matter of Good, Better and Best – this is a Spring Forest Qigong concept.  We don’t have to do it perfectly.  To do it is Good.  Over time we get Better and continue moving to Best.

It would be lovely if I could tell you that now that I’ve been doing this for 2 years I’m not still struggling, but it hasn’t worked that way.  Instead, it has improved the quality of my life.  It has improved my trust in life, my health, my awareness of where my thinking is and clarified what I actually believe to be true.  Unexpected gifts have arrived or unfolded, friends, business opportunities, new medications, minerals, herbs and doors have opened that I didn’t know were there.  It has been subtle, but profound.  (That’s another blog of its own: Subtle But Profound).  It has been life changing.

May I encourage you to use what is in your life that brings you to an awareness of your connection with the Bigger Picture, the Universe, God (oh, here we go again, the potential words are too many to list).  Use it daily.  Find little ways to return to it throughout the day, just to touch in for a second.

If you don’t have such a thing in your life, I offer you this:
Imagine your body standing before you.  You (the true wisdom of your being) are holding the corner of a sheet of light that shimmers with vibrating waves that are perfectly created to bring you into alignment with Love’s Perfection, the Universe…  Nature (imagine her as suits you) is holding another corner.  An exalted being (I use Christ) is holding another corner.  The remaining corner is held by another exalted being.  Together you are holding this sheet of light several feet below your feet.  The sheet is of a size that allows its edges to extend several feet beyond your body to include your entire aura.  Now, you and the others present begin to lift this vibrationally brilliant sheet through your body and aura.  Lift it slowly enough to enjoy the process.  When you have raised it a number of feet above your head (isn’t imagination wonderful, all the things we can do!), join the four corners of the sheet together.  In this, are energies that are no longer vibrationally appropriate for you and they are ready to be moved on.  With the help of the other beings you’re working with tie a beautiful cord around this bundle you’ve created.  Thank the energies the bundle contains for their participation in your evolution as a being, even those energies that have troubled us have helped us.  Tell them that you are going to turn them over to one of the exalted beings present (for me that’s Christ), and they will be ‘lifted’ to their next evolutionary stage of development.  Thank Nature for holding these energies in form until they could be released with awareness.  Turn the bundle over to the being who is going to transport them.   Then forget about these energies. 

Put your attention back on the image of yourself in front of you.  Notice that as you pulled the sheet of light through your body and aura it created a column that now surrounds you, and now holds you in a vibrational state that is aligned with the Universe… and the truest expression of you!  For a few moments, just hang out with this.   Lean into the sensations of it, soak it up.

When you are ready to bring this to a close, take a few slow deep breaths.  Thank the beings that helped you with this.  Rub your hands together to make them warm, then massage your face to bring your awareness back to your body through a moment of tenderness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

With Unfailing Kindness

'With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn. Whether you stay home, or work in an office, or whatever, the next teacher is going to pop right up.'
 - Charlotte Joko Beck

This morning I woke up feeling pretty awful. It's a chronic thing that tends to flare up this time of year. It wasn't a pleasant thing to wake up to; I'm using a bit of understatement here. I made a quick decision that it wasn't going to dictate my frame of mind. A slogan from Tibetan Buddhism came to mind that I thought might be helpful in supporting that decision. I picked up a book looking for the slogan and it’s explanation. I found the quote above, but not the slogan I wanted. After looking for in two more books I decided that this quote was going to work just fine.

It reminded me of 'causes & conditions'. My experience of this moment is the effect of 'causes & conditions'. It arises out of past decisions I've made and collective influences. It's the fruit of these, and the way that I respond to them that will be part of the 'causes & conditions' of my future. Committing to experiencing this moment (this fruit) as directly as possible, as free of my stories, my judgments, my likes and dislikes will create the best possible experience for me.

At times it can be pretty hard to see what arises in our lives as the perfect and kind teacher. For me, it's relating to the moment as directly as possible that allows whatever's going on to be the perfect stepping stone for forward movement. It's not really the events themselves that are the teacher - it's responding to them as fully present to myself and as free of ideas about how things 'should' be as I can that makes a teaching of whatever it is....

Responding in that way has become possible as I have learned to be present for myself, to be a wise mother or father or teacher to myself in that moment, expressing compassion for my experience, promising myself that I will not leave. I will walk through the difficulty with me. It's a weird thing to write about, the words don't sound right. But, it is a powerful, powerful way to heal, and face difficulties of the present.

A lot has happened since I wrote this piece nine months ago.  My health has improved so much, my belief that being well is an option has taken root.  I have expanded beyond limitations that I didn’t think it was possible to go beyond, and I am not stopping now.

There has been the tender encouragement of friends, tweaking of supplements and medications, and a lot of trust.  One of the biggest things that occurred was the recognition that the limitations in my health I’d been experiencing for three decades were well grounded in my thinking and this is alterable.  To reach this awareness was a move into self-acceptance at a profound level, simply looking at things with as much honesty as I could muster and no judgment.  With my daily practice of Qigong, the mentoring of dear friends, and unflinching honesty about myself my life has been and is continuing to be redefined.  The possibility of Life is so much greater than we realize.  May we all enter into the depth of possibility, letting go our persistent need to know so that we may allow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hooping for Joy

Actually, that isn’t misspelled.  Hooping, the lost art of hula hooping, do you remember doing it as a child?  I’m in an ongoing search for exercise that brings me joy and puts to use multiple parts of the body in different ways.  My latest discovery is hooping.
It began with a standard kids hula hoop, which I watched fall to the floor with numbing speed over and over again.   Not to be deterred from this exercise that would not only work the hips, and abdominal muscles, but benefit all the nearby organs, I began looking on the internet and learned that when you’re not a kid anymore, you need a weighted hula hoop that is bigger.  They move slower!!!  Really, they move slower so those of us who don’t have the hip action we did as youngsters, in a day or two, can actually keep the thing up for half a minute or more. 
It gets better.  Once I could keep it up for a little bit I looked to the video I’d gotten and saw that walking around was the next feat to undertake.  Before long, I began practicing with my mp3 player tucked into a place on my upper body (wires hanging on the torso are a problem).  My delight increased, and so did my skill.  Running, turning, grapevine steps (these aren’t really strong yet), walking backwards, a twist of the hip in the direction of spin and then a quick snap back to the opposite produces a nice effect.  Next – this is my own innovation, I figured out that if I took the hoop in my hands, with the greatest spread of my arms I could achieve, the hoop became a great mechanism for stretching.  Do you find stretching boring?  I don’t always, but sometimes I definitely do.  Try taking that hoop with arms spread wide, now move.  Your whole body.  Run, turn, spin, bend, hold the hoop to one side, move it to the other, all the while dancing.  If you get a good position with a deep stretch, be still, but let the music move you on the inside.  Your stillness will become part of the dance.  After a few more days, add wrist weights to the stretching part of your session.  And you will have a lovely work out.  If you love moving as I do, you will have a way to work out that is nothing short of Joy expressing itself.  Yes, for the Joy of Hooping!!!