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.

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!

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.

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? 🙂

Awakening

Today, I found out that there is a known concept and a word for something that has been a part of my life for a while now. A few months back, when I was meditating, I was given an image, very similar to the one above, and got the sense of it like this:
The line going up and down is a cord of energy that connects the grounded self to the higher realms. It pretty much goes up along the spine. When I meditate now, I can feel it pulsate and I can sense energy going both up and down the cord. It straightens energies that have gotten out of alignment and makes my breathing feel clearer, among other things. The center is a glowing merkaba. It is glowing because it is rotating at a very high speed and gathering energy, each pyramid spinning in the opposite direction from the other. The glow is both protective and energizing. As I meditate, I sense this construct around and through me, and it makes me feel centered, protected and clear-headed. If there is an emotion connected to this meditation, it would be joy, though it is challenging to label the time I spend in this place.
Today, as I was reading some posts from online friends, I found out that the energy cord that I sense is called a “shushumna,” and it is the channel by which the life force or prana moves up and down the chakras. It is integral to the process of kundalini rising, and is indeed part of the awakening process. The words are from the yogic tradition, but I am thinking that the concepts are universal.
Having learned this, I had to go looking for more info on the merkaba. It turns out that counter-rotating pyramidal forms are the sign of an activated merkaba. There are meditations to assist in this process. Ironically, I had looked for merkaba meditations before and didn’t really see anything that pulled at me. Now, I go to Google and look up “glowing spinning merkaba” and there is the meditation I had been looking to find, months ago! I love the synchronicities that pile up in my life! This has so much more meaning for me since I found it out on my own and saw confirmation on the site I found, rather than the other way around!
Φ – I have decided that the awakening symbol, in its simplest form, looks like the Greek letter phi. So, one more symbol to the collection I have been gathering for a rune system of my own. Yeah!
It feels like so many things are starting to coalesce into something tangible … I can almost make out the shape. Just a few more pieces!

Discernment

One of the most important skills we pick up as we awaken to our innermost self is that of discernment. When we are presented with an option, a “fact,” or a point of view, we learn to automatically turn to our inner space to see if it resonates or not. I am not talking about whether we find a particular thing appealing, but whether that inner field of energy gives us a thumb’s up or down on incorporating that new thing into our personal life story.

I have had many times where an option in front of me that seemed undesirable in some way was the one that got the internal thumb’s up. When I trusted that over my mental construct of what was appealing to me, I have always found that internal nudge to bring positivity into my life. In fact, some of my best memories come from just such nudges.

If it is on the Internet, it must be true!

I am bringing this up because I have seen a lot of lists online lately about the “signs that you are awakening.” There are certain standard items that appear on all of them (worrying less, joyful more, etc), but many of them also include other items that, frankly, I am not so sure about. That is when discernment comes to play.

When we trust blindly, we are putting our truth-o-meter in someone else’s hands. As we take responsibility for all aspects of our lives, we learn that being part of a global body or a global consciousness does not mean that we will all process information the same way, or go through the same awakening process. Basically, what is true for one part of that multi-dimensional being may not be true for another part. Each of us is responsible for discerning the bits that work within our own life.

Think of it this way: The hand has a totally different function than the foot, the shoulder or the spleen. The nutritional energy that makes its way to each body part gets used according to that part’s function. The body needs different things from each part, and so the demands on it are different and the energy gets used accordingly. I believe the same can be said for the role each of us plays in the unity consciousness. Awakening does not mean we will automatically drop all differences and become Stepford Wives. I feel pretty confident that the differences between us will be managed in less confrontational ways than we generally use now, but I am just as confident that differences will remain. Difference (ie diversity!) is good and friction is not always a bad thing. It is how we handle the friction that can be unhealthy. Often, friction is actually a necessary component for growth!

Caveat emptor! (Let the buyer beware!)

To be fair, I believe that most of these sites are expecting you to gauge the truth of their posts with your own process of discernment. As for the lists of “signs that you are awakening,” one that I would add to the list is that you no longer look to others to validate your journey! So, when it comes down to advice, tips, lists or “seeds of wisdom” (even from me!), always check it against your internal truth-o-meter. Recognize that one person’s truth is not always the same as yours, and the only solid growth you can have is when you build upon your own.