My Braided Life

Triquetra

In this past year, I have been graced with a lot of insight into how my life works and how I can live a happier existence with a feeling of wholeness and joy surrounding my days. I have been so introverted during this process that I lost all desire to write anywhere but my journal and on a project I felt called to explore. A friend gently suggested that I put out here some of the insights I have gained … that they might be of interest to someone else and that she, for one, would like to read them.

So, here is my first exploration in this direction:

Rituals are like a checklist, ensuring all of me is being nourished.

I wake up in the morning at about 5 AM. I roll out of bed and find my way to my meditation space. 25 minutes later, I feel more awake, centered, and ready to journal for a quick 5 – 10 minutes. The dog and I then scoot out the door for a walk around the block where I make a point of connecting to my favorite trees in the neighborhood, often with me placing my hands on their bark and listening. As we make our rounds, I practice being aware of the energy grounding me to the earth and remaining mindful of each step as I walk it. I try to pay attention to where my awareness resides in my body, and I make sure to spend some time with my awareness settled in my nurturing 2d chakra space.

These morning rituals embody my perception of the three major strands within the braid of my life. In every life, the braid is present. One strand is the physical me, another is the mental me, and a third the spiritual me. One of the things I have learned over the course of this past year is that it is vitally important to “feed” each strand of the braid so that none is starved or engorged. If we want the braid of our life to be healthy, each strand has to receive our attention on a regular basis.

For myself, I appreciate the physical strand by getting outside and walking each day. I try to eat healthy foods and to be mindful as I eat. My spiritual strand is fed by my meditation practice and by my mindfulness exercises, as well as my tree connections. My mental self benefits from the journaling, the discipline that I impose on myself, and the work I do each day. Note that in each case, there are things I take in (such as food) and things I give or expend (such as exercise). I have come to understand that this give and take is very important. It is like breathing in and out, giving and taking, each with its own cycle. If you take in, you must find a way to release. Balance requires it.

There is more, of course. I try to include creative activities. I try to read each day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I am using an app on my phone to teach myself German. Everything we do embodies at least one strand of this braid. The key is to be aware of which pieces of ourselves we are exercising when we participate in a given activity. If we only do the intellectual, we are  feeding it to the detriment of our physical and spiritual selves, and we will eventually pay a price for that neglect. The same holds true if we feed the spiritual, but do not exercise or eat well … or if we take care of our bodies, but never exercise our minds or make time to listen for the voice of the Divine.

Sometimes, I envision more strands. Most of the time, it is just the three. It is the Celtic triquetra – the three-sided knot – that symbolizes so many trinities in our lives. I use it to remind me of the balance of mind-body-spirit.

Remembering

One of the ideas that has repeatedly been presenting itself to me over the course of the last several weeks is that, through the Akashic Field, we all have access to unlimited information. I have had a stranger tell me that I would remember a skill as a specialized kind of tone-based healer from a past life, and that I would not need to be taught. I have had a shamanic journey where I was given a ritual to aid in “downloading” information from the field. I was given access to a free ebook that was a novel about the Akashic Field, and touched upon this topic. I was signed up for a free seminar which I thought was about one topic, but which wound up going into this process of remembering instead. I joined a forum, where the current topic of discussion was … you guessed it. I described it to some friends recently as reminiscent of the moment in the story when someone in the street has a handful of pebbles which they keep tossing up to your window one at a time, interrupting you and catching your attention repeatedly until you open the window to find out what they want.

Generally, when things bunch up like this on a specific topic, I cry “Uncle!” and admit that the Universe is trying to get me to open that window to find out what it wants. In this particular case, the idea of remembering skills is both appealing and unnerving. I suspect most of you get the appealing part, but unnerving?  To put it bluntly, this lesson will mean moving out of sight of those comfortable shores that define my old way of thinking. Time for adventure!

I have been blinded by (outdated) science

“If I can’t see it, measure it, quantify it, or in some way analyze it, it must not be real.” This assumption was a large part of my personal background. At the same time, I believed in Spirit from the time I was small. I saw things and felt things that others couldn’t. At one point, I even believed and internalized the idea that, if others couldn’t see auras or watch future events in their dreams, then it must be that I am crazy, or plagued by demons, or something! So you see, I have always had an uneasy dance going on between my belief in the physical world and my conviction that there is more to it.

The analytical mind thinks in terms of the “old” accepted paradigm of the world. It insists that learning to do anything takes time. It further suggests that we experience time in a linear way. It presumes that each individual is just that – an individual. Recent quantum research has begun to question each of these assumptions, but that newer perspective has just begun to be absorbed into the general culture.

Categorizing and experiencing life by only 5 senses has led us to assume that some people are simply incapable of learning certain things, and some are gifted at those very same things. This is based on the idea that we are all individuals, each with an isolated brain which is the sole repository of our mind. We force ourselves to start from scratch whenever we learn anything new, and since no one has ever shown us any different, most of us assume that is the only way.

If we seriously consider this concept of remembering skills by pulling the information out of the Akashic Field, it throws much of our current understandings out the window. Think about it. If a person can tap into a “database” that includes all the skills learned by anyone, anywhere, and any when, that would fly in the face of current understandings about mind, psychology, how we learn, etc. If any skill you desire is one that you can become good at, simply by pulling the information from the Akashic Field, integrating it, and then using it … off you go as a competent or skilled practitioner. This would certainly change how we teach any skill, if “teaching” would even be the appropriate word at that point. Our skills would be limited only by the desire we have to accumulate them. For the most part, we would all have the same potential, even if we would remain unique expressions of that potential. This would change everything.

This idea makes me think of the character, Neo, in the blockbuster movie, “The Matrix.” If you have seen that movie, you probably remember the scene where he first downloads the skills to be an expert martial arts fighter. It takes him a few movie-minutes to integrate what he has learned, but he is soon experiencing expert practice sessions with his mentor, Morpheus. This is possible because of the Matrix, a repository for all kinds of information and the fabric of what most people in the movie believe is reality. In some ways, the movie’s “Matrix” is the equivalent of our “Akashic Field.”

Extending this downloading idea to our world would be possible only through Unity. For this to be real, Unity Consciousness must be real as well. This changes our perception of reality. Many of us have an intellectual belief that the world is “maya,” or a dream, or Plato’s shadow of reality. However, the ability to download skills would be a line drawn in the sand between intellectually believing this to be true, and living it.

Something gained. Something lost.

We have a strong tendency in our western culture to build an identity on the perceived value of the skills we have managed to master. This is an ego-driven desire, and prompts people to work hard to be seen as more valuable than others. Whether it be prestige or fame or money, we use these identities we have created as symbols of our value.

Our entire society has a foundation that includes the idea that some people know certain things, and others know different things. What would it mean for our world if anyone could do anything they were willing to take on? How can anyone say that it is more valuable to know X than it is to know Y if a person could learn either? Don’t we all know people who love to know something others don’t? Or people who think their value is not intrinsic, but is determined by their ability to sing, program, sell, calculate or paint? This ability to simply scoop data from the Field would seriously undermine the ego identity that is the core of how most people perceive themselves.

Let’s Shift Gears!

Having expressed all of this concern, what’s next? The old paradigm seems to want us constantly on the edge of fight or flight. It promotes hesitation about change, especially this kind of change. You know what I mean; the kind of change that modifies how we think and perceive reality. And that’s the point. On a global scale, the old mindset is dying and it knows it, so those who still believe in it are holding on to the past for dear life.

I am sure you have guessed that what we are talking about here is actually a core piece of what has become known as The Shift. In Unity, the pieces of perception are so entwined that it is never about changing our ideas or beliefs on a single concept, like how we learn a new skill. That one idea is connected to another over here, and a third over there … and before we know it, there is an entire web of reality that has shifted with the movement of a single core belief.

What do you think? Are you an experienced practitioner of the art of remembering? What kinds of things have you remembered this way?

Change your thoughts, change the world

Somehow, whether it be by genetics, environment, or a combination of the two, we all developed this idea that there is not enough to go around. If I want to make sure that I will have enough for next week or next year, I have to hoard everything I can get my hands on to ensure my survival. This is considered poverty or paucity thinking. We think and react as though we are on the very brink of destitution. Our very lives depend on our ability to hoard and protect the hoard we have collected.

The irony, of course, is that the more people hoard, the more it appears true that there is not enough. We can see that there is not enough. There are people starving (while food is rotting in refrigerators and warehouses around the world). There are people with no homes (while the foreclosed homes outnumber the homeless in the USA). There are people who have no money to even buy a bagel or cup of coffee (while billions of dollars, euros, rubles and pounds sit in banks doing nothing but collecting interest).

How we got to this point is a good question, but I think it would easily lead to recriminations and would trigger the self-defense mechanisms we have all honed to a fine skill. The potentially world-changing question is what shall we do, now that we are here? We have the technology, the intelligence and the networking ability to correct almost every basic problem (food, clothing, shelter) on the planet. What we lack is the will to do what needs doing to correct the imbalance.

Perhaps the most challenging of all is to deal with the fact that those who have more than they need must share with those who have nothing. That goes against the survival instincts of the “lizard brain” we each possess. Just the thought of giving away these keys to survival causes the grip to tighten. As long as we truly believe this is a dog-eat-dog world, our belief will influence how we react to the needs of others, and therefore we make it true.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Have you ever participated in, or even just seen, a trust exercise called “lap sitting?” I have seen it at acting classes and at leadership seminars, and I have been fortunate enough to participate in it more than once.. It is the most amazing thing. Everyone stands a foot or so apart  in a circle, facing in the same direction. On cue, everyone carefully sits down. With no chair in sight, we are all able to comfortably sit on the knees of the person behind us. All it would take would be for one person to distrust the process and everyone would fall. Yet, it works.

Clarkson University students attempt to set a lap sitting record. Image from the Watertown Daily Times, Feb 5, 2010.

Take this mentality and imagine applying it to almost anything. If we would each be willing to be the lap for the person in front of us, we could all sit comfortably. It is more than just possible. We could all eat. We could all have clothing and shelter. Survival doesn’t have to be optional.

We would have to change how we think about ownership and community and social responsibility. Each one of us would have to be willing to integrate this change into our lives. This would reverberate through our culture and alter our economic paradigm, and change how we handle various situations. I honestly believe it would allow people to begin to heal the trust issues we all have with each other. We would learn to be there for each other. “Ubuntu: I am because we are.” This healing would ripple across the world. I am not suggesting this would create an utopia, as we humans would certainly find the next thing that needs our attention. We always do – it is part of our effort to strive to thrive. Even so, this would be a building block for a different world. You see, I believe that we are creating tomorrow with every action, thought and conviction we allow into our lives today. I also believe in the quote by Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” If we don’t take that step, the journey has yet to begin.

Think on it … and let me know what your thoughts are. Can you imagine what we can do now to help make this happen? Or do you think I am crazy and this isn’t the way to go? If so, why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Letting Go

books

Not being catholic, I have somewhat of an outsider’s view of the Lenten season. Mind you, Catholics aren’t the only ones who celebrate Lent, but they are certainly the most visible – especially on the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday.

From my experience, Lent is usually honored by giving up something that you enjoy. The thought has been explained to me as as a sacrifice to echo the sacrifice of Christ, though I have recently read of other interpretations. The idea is to recognize how challenging it is to give up that one small thing (even if it is usually to our own benefit in some way), and to therefore appreciate how great a sacrifice was done on our behalf.

I was thinking about this idea of sacrifice over the last few days, since I often choose Lent as the perfect time to give up something. After all, there is a lot of support out there for letting go at this one time of the year. Take advantage of the communal energy! When I participate in this process, I like to look at it as giving up something so I can see what kind of hold that thing has over my life and evaluate whether I am willing for that hold to continue.

Frankly, my concept of Lent has changed over time. It used to be more in alignment with sacrifice, but this year, I am seeing things a bit differently. I realize that the sentiment behind “sacrifice” is that it should be something you enjoy or want to continue doing, so that giving it up is in some way unpleasant. What I am realizing is that giving things up doesn’t have to be unpleasant to be beneficial. My spiritual life and my physical life can both see benefits if I do this right.

I recently read some comments from a Buddhist monk who explained that monks were only allowed to own 8 things, and those 8 things were actually predefined. This idea coinciding with the timing of Lent made me think of the possibility of giving up ownership, or at least reducing my ownership footprint. I read a new slogan somewhere on the web: “Don’t declutter. De-own.” Sounds scary … and that means it is powerful.

I certainly own a lot more than 8 things. Honestly, I own a lot more than the 100 Things that another blogger suggested. I grew up in a poor household and it was made very clear to me at a very young age that how much stuff a person owned was a measure to compare oneself against. Many family members were hoarders, though I doubt very much that any of them would admit it. When I moved in with my current partner, I think I was well on my way to becoming a hoarder, myself. She, however, is not a hoarder. In some parts of her life, she is downright minimalist. Needless to say, my collection of stuff drove her nuts!

We broke up for a while due, in part, to this very issue. During that time, I came to realize that I really identified with my stuff. When she didn’t want things out where it was visible to guests, I felt like she didn’t want me to be visible. When she would gently suggest downsizing some of my collection, I felt she was wanting to downsize or diminish me! It sounds crazy, I know. From what I can tell though, this is very much how hoarders feel. I now call this syndrome being “stuff sick.” The love I felt for her forced me to face this about myself, and I truly believe she pulled me back from the brink of becoming a hoarder.

Over the years, I have learned to let go, to hold on less and less. She taught me that memories and emotions might be triggered by seeing certain things, but that doesn’t mean we have to keep them. If the object serves no practical purpose, we can take a picture of the thing and let the actual object go. It is a process and I am still not as good at it as she is, but I keep improving.

Which brings me to the idea of Lent 2013.

My idea for this year goes beyond sacrifice into the value of reviewing what defines me. I am not willing to be defined by these things I enjoy. I can give them up and still be me. So, I have decided to give up ownership of one thing each day. At the end of the month, these things will go to Goodwill / Savers. Instead of giving up chocolate or sweets or some other decadence I enjoy, I am going to commit to releasing one item for each of the 40 days. My rules to myself are that I can’t just give up a pair of shoes and count it for 2 days, nor would a box of office supplies count for any more than a single day’s gifting. It can’t be something I simply don’t care about either. To be a valid sign of my healthier attitude toward the things in my possession, I am committing to giving away things I am holding onto “just in case.” If you know anyone with hoarder instincts, this is tough! 20 years in the computer industry simply reinforced that tendency in me, so I am sure this will be a challenge.

Day 1 is going to be a handful of books that I always meant to read, but haven’t. These particular books have been in my “to-read” pile for more than 3 years. I love books and letting them go is never easy for me. Sigh. Time to let them go.

Whew! One day down!

Are you taking advantage of this letting go energy? What has Spirit prompted you to let go of?

Unplanned Hiatus

Hello Everyone. I want to apologize for the unplanned hiatus I took from this blog. I spent a lot of time really digging down into myself, and I retreated quite a bit from the world during this time. I am coming back and will likely post quite a bit over the next few weeks. I have so many ideas of things I want to share, and waiting and spreading them out only works for a few weeks out.

My topics tend to be influenced greatly by what I am going through at the moment, so all of this introspection has built up a large quantity of ideas. Once I get the overflow out of me, we will return to the weekly schedule from previous times.

A special thank you to those who checked in and even sent me messages asking when the next post was coming. It made me feel wrapped in a caring embrace, and I hope you know that I love you bunches!

What if …

 

It seems that everywhere I look online, there is a running discourse about the shooting in Connecticut. The outrage is real, widespread and very deeply felt. This bodes well for change.

As I was thinking on this, though, the famous quote from Gandhi about being the change we want to see came to mind. It reminds me that you can’t legislate morality. That doesn’t mean the laws shouldn’t change. It means that the level of behavioral change impacted by laws and regulations doesn’t solve the underlying problem. Another way of stating it is that we may be able to contain some of the behavior, but the impetus to violent reactions remains.

That problem is the violence in our own hearts and souls. As long as we react with violent thoughts, even if we control them, the seed of violence will remain with us as a people and as a culture. We each have varying levels of success at controlling it, but its very existence raises the question of how do we truly heal a society that is based on violent thought? I don’t have answers, but I do have questions and that is perhaps a valid starting point.

I wonder if this is related to the competition we each have nurtured in our hearts since we were small? We have this poverty / paucity mindset that insists that everything, but EVERYTHING, is in limited supply. If I have it then you can’t have it. If you have it, then I can’t. This mindset encourages people to defend what little they have from someone who might deprive them of it, or to attempt to take from someone that which they think they need to survive.

The more I think on this, the more I believe that, at a very deep level, the trigger for violent thoughts or behavior seems to be rooted in the idea that the other has something that I need to survive or even just to be happy. When I am content in this moment, not worrying about what I don’t have, I can feel no urge to become aggressive. When the present moment is sufficient for me, there is nothing I need to take from another.

What if people woke up to the moment of power, that is to say this very moment? I often hear talk of awakening in vague and idealistic terms, but what would actually happen? How would things change if people suddenly started living in the now, owning their own baggage, and making decisions based on just that? I am not talking utopia, but reality. What would change? I am thinking that the scope would be so large, we can’t even imagine it in its entirety.

Winter Is Coming

Quote

A quiet house on a cold and blustery morning,
Cup of coffee in my hand.
I sit by the window and look out at the rising sun –
No urban wildlife in sight, not even people.
Instead, I watch
Fallen leaves dance up the street.
The autumn wind leading in a polka swirl,
Trees swaying against a metal gray sky.
And I think,
“Winter is surely coming.”

Voynich

A page from the Voynich manuscript. Clicking on the image takes you to one of many web pages about this document.

Nothing like a good historical mystery related to a book to send my imagination soaring. I am posting something totally off-topic, even for my loose definition of my focus here. This is just too fascinating and I always love to share a good mystery!

This document was “discovered” in 1912, by an antiquarian bookseller named Voynich – hence the name. He discovered it when going through a book collection at what had once been a Jesuit monastery. I won’t go into great detail here about the document itself, as there are tons of websites that delve into it. I just wanted to share what fascinates me about it: The book is written in a language that no one knows anything about. Many believe it many not be a legitimate language at all, but a cipher (code). The images throughout the book are of the “natural world,” but not precisely. Most of the plants are totally unknown. The images with humans in them seem to indicate either an odd symbolism or an even odder reality. In short, this book makes no sense to us, even setting aside the script.

Dating experts put the book at having been written between the 15th and 17th centuries. Nothing else like this work exists anywhere, so we have no clue as to its purpose. There are quite a few sites out there suggesting that this is a book of alien origin, provenance or influence. “Alien” as in not-of-this-planet. I can totally see how someone would want to go to a conclusion like that. The mystery is so provocative!

For those who, like me, would love to look at this document in more detail, it is available in many different formats from the internet archive. Please click here to be whisked away to a download page. If you come to any conclusions or it provokes ideas for you, please feel free to share them. I would love to have a good ole discussion on this one!

 

Mindful Shopping

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user AMagill – Use of image does not constitute endorsement by the artist.

We are about to hit the biggest shopping season of the year, at least in the USA. This year,  with all the changes that have been (and are still!) occurring in my life, I feel prompted to ask myself to clarify what I value. I have always loved giving gifts and looking for something the recipient will truly appreciate, so I am seeing that this new perspective of mine simply adds another layer to my personal shopping filter.

It is easy to say that I value people over things, intention over object, and ethics over greed. The real question is whether or not I live it out. No matter what words I formulate in my mind or out loud, the real test is in what I do. I am always fond of saying that our lives are much like riding a bicycle in that we always wind up aiming for whatever we are looking at. So, what my heart believes directs the course of my actions as surely as the mythical siren song lured sailors to places their logical minds did not want to go.

Being the change …

We talk about change and how we want the economy to be less greed-driven, less competition based, more empathy-driven, more service based. I suddenly realized that the idea of being the change I want to see applies to everything, even this. If I want to be part of the solution in terms of changing what drives the economy, then I need to be really clear on what drives me!

How do I decide where I am going to shop? Is it just about prices? Getting the most for your money isn’t a bad thing, but if that is the only criteria I were to use to determine where I shop, wouldn’t that be a greed-driven decision? Do I really need to give multiple gifts, or expensive ones to those I love, for them to know how much I care?

Of course not. Consciously, I know this.

I still hesitate, so I dig a little deeper. I realize that there is a part of me that knows my idealism isn’t shared (yet!) by all those I love. So, I am concerned about how to live out this philosophy of mine. I can make things. I can offer skills. I reflect on the idea that I want to give them things they will appreciate, and my concern is for those who still seem caught up in the consumerism of the old paradigm. How do I find the right gift for them, and still remain true to this shift within me?

At some point, even if it is just for materials, I will need to go out and purchase some things.

In a capitalist society, your money is your sphere of influence

An awful lot of businesses have recently had their leadership say and do things with which I disagree strongly. They have the right to freedom of speech, and I would never want to take that away from them. On the other hand, I too have freedoms. If they are going to do things I perceive to be against my personal ethics, I don’t have to support them and their business by shopping there. This concept of the ethical shopper is one that I have seen popping up all over the place.

Thanks to various boycott movements, consumers are discovering how powerful their shopping habits truly are. If a boycott can influence behavior, then I have the power to bestow my vote of confidence upon any business, simply by shopping there. Realizing this, and wanting to change how businesses are run, I know there are some behaviors I want to reward and others I don’t. Companies that treat their employees like more than just  a resource to be used and discarded need to be encouraged. Those that want to act ethically, do minimal damage to the environment, support their local communities and are responsive to the impacts their decisions make in the world – those businesses deserve my support. On the other hand, those who don’t do these things need to be sent to the time out corner. There are only two practical ways to express my disapproval: one is to write them a letter (and yes, I frequently do this), and the other is to simply refuse to give them any of my money.

Influencing change

This is how any of us can influence the ethics of capitalism. In retail, the people’s mandate is defined in profits. If a company is profitable, they think that we are OK with how they do business. We each have the power to influence that bottom line of profitability with every purchase we make. Frankly, as we awaken into our personal power I believe we will be seeing this trend continue to grow.

I am looking forward to this year’s gift giving, partly because I plan on being extra creative about it. I do admit, however, that trying to determine where a company falls on my naughty or nice list could be a lot of work. I wonder if there is an app for that? Imagine something that gives every store a score based on how they treat their employees, the environment, and their community. Maybe with links to more info if it is available. Too bad I am not a developer. Anyone out there want to take this on? :-)