Finding Balance; First Things First

yin-yant

In these days when political action is so important, i have taken on a rather big task in my local community.  It feels very good, and it brings with it a challenge.  The job requires me to spend a good amount of time at the computer early in the day. And that’s usually when i do my daily spiritual practice. And also when i write my dreams, if i remember any. Three important activities all vying for the same  morning time. Ay, there’s the rub!

I’m also finding that my sleep patterns are disturbed quite frequently lately, which means that many mornings i wake up later than normal. And that means that my morning time is shorter than usual. Even more of a rub!

Some days i get carried away with the sense of urgency for the political work, and i skip the spiritual practice, and sometimes even breakfast.  Dreams don’t even come in last! However, if i do this more than a day or two in a row, something unsettling happens.  I lose my equanimity, and my level of stress and worry rises. I feel uncentered and flung about by the events of the day.  I start spending too much time on FaceBook, reading all sorts of horrible things about what’s going on on a daily basis.

When that happens, my salvation is to re-make the simple and unequivocal commitment to put my practice first.  Connection with the 6 directions and my guides and the Source, a few stretches, meditation, healing prayer for those in need, and affirmations that remind me of what’s important and how i choose to live my life. I did that this morning, and ahhhhh, back to center.  I still managed to have a good breakfast and get the political work done.

Dream recording is still in the background.  Maybe it’s time to tell my dreaming self, in my bedtime affirmation, to wake me up out of important dreams when they happen, write at least a few notes so i remember, and go back to sleep.  I’ll try it and see what happens. Will i be able to get back to sleep? Oh, yes, i can include that in the affirmation.  So it will go something like this: “I will have important (useful, helpful, inspiring, healing – whatever adjectives feel needed) dreams tonight, and i will wake up immediately and write them down, and then i will go right back to sleep”.  I know from long experience that setting of intention in this way is very powerful.  It makes things happen.

Being an inveterate dreamworker, with my own and other people’s dreams, it’s important to me not to let this aspect of my life slip away.  It’s like losing connection with an essential part of my life, of myself. So i will try this experiment.

There ARE enough hours in the day for all the essential things; i just need to be creative in how i use them. Ya Fattah, may the Way be opened!

Unity and Solidarity

In a little over a week, it will be my turn to speak at the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  The title i chose is “Unity and Solidarity”, and it sums up what i feel are the two most important things to be living by at this critical juncture in our national and global reality.

I’ll start with solidarity.  What that means to me is standing with all those who share my values of the safety and well-being of our planet and all the beings who are part of it, including and especially the humans. I stand for protection of the waters and the forests and the soil and the air.  I stand for meeting the basic needs of all  human beings for healthy food, clean water, safe shelter, affordable medical care, freedom from hatred and bigotry, reproductive rights, education, right livelihood, and the company of others.At this time in our history, many of those values are seriously threatened.  If we are to meet the threats, we must stand together in solidarity.  We need to make our voices heard strongly and clearly.

I have just discovered a terrific website called IssueVoter.  One can identify the categories of legislation one is interested in, and for each bill related to those, one is given a synopsis of the pro and con arguments on it.  Then one votes pro or con, and one’s opinion is transmitted to one’s congressperson as an email. And one sees how one’s choice compared to all the other IssueVoter members who voted on that bill. It looks to me like a large number of the people voting share my values, because our votes match up. I find the value of this twofold; first, it informs me on the legislation that is being proposed on issues that matter to me (and i checked almost ALL the categories!), and second, it lets my congressperson (may he be awakened to what truly matters for the human family and the planet) know how i and others want him to vote.

That’s one way of standing in solidarity for the things we care about.  Another is to put our money where our mouth is.  I dumped Wells Fargo bank quite awhile back, during Occupy days, and moved my accounts to our local credit union.  But one of my strongest values  these days is standing with the water protectors at Standing Rock. And the most powerful thing we can do to stop the Dakota Access Pipe Line is to cut off its funding.  And that means getting our money, including our usage of credit cards, our of the hands of the big banks.  The only credit card i had until today was a Chase Southwest Air Rapid Rewards card. Each month i would charge stuff and pay billls automatically with that card, and pay the whole thing off every month.  I would get as many travel rewards, also known as “miles”, as dollars i charged to the card.  But Chase is one of the big funders of the pipeline, and also invests in a whole lot of things that are harmful to life.

So i set off on a journey to see if i could find a “good” card that would still give me miles, as that’s the only way i can travel by air. I had a couple of false starts, but then a friend commented on Facebook that the credit card she has through her credit union gave travel rewards.  So i called my credit union, First Financial CU here in New Mexico to ask if they have a card that offers that feature, and sure enough they do.  Then i called again – twice, to two different customer service people, just to make sure, and asked whether the credit card was underwritten by any banks.  The answer both times was no; the card is funded completely by the credit union.  Sold!  I called in and went through the application process, and in a week or so i’ll have my new Platinum VISA credit card in hand, and i can dump that Chase card.

Another way of voting with our dollars is to buy from local small businesses whenever possible and not patronizing branches of the huge corporations. I used to shop at Walmart for pretty much everything except food, which i buy almost exclusively at our local co-op.  I did that because i thought it was convenient to buy everything under one roof.  One gigantic roof.  But i really wanted to patronize local businesses, so one day i did an experiment.  I looked at my list of stuff i needed, and instead of going to Walmart, i went to five different locally-owned stores.  And guess what?  It didn’t take me any longer than that one long trip to Walmart used to take. And i was able to find everything on my list. I’ve done that ever since.

There are other ways of expressing solidarity, such as standing out in front of the local branch of a big bank with signs urging people to move their money, such as boycotting the inauguration and watching the gonzo concert happening at the same time instead, such as  joining marches and processions like the ones scheduled for January 21.  Sometimes this will mean putting our bodies on the line. So be it. I have such respect and gratitude for the native peoples taking a stand at Standing Rocke and for all the people who went up to the frozen north to stand with the water protectors, and especially those who came from my own community.

So those are the kinds of actions that i consider to be part of solidarity- standing with my fellow citizens who want to be part of co-creating a better world for all of us and for the Earth.

What about unity?  For me, that’s the other side of the coin.  It means remembering that we are all One, all of us humans and animals and trees and….all of it. And that includes the people whose thoughts, words, and actions i deem to be harmful. It means not demeaning and ridiculing and judging and hating those people who act in demeaning and ridiculing and judgmental and hateful ways.  Oh. Hmmm. So i don’t want to behave in those same ways?  Then i’d better start being a compassionate witness to my own thoughts, words, and actions.  I’d better make a commitment to myself to remember.

For a few days now i have been doing the practice of ho’oponopono for Donald J. Trump.  This practice entails saying to him each day, as a way of ending my morning spiritual practice “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  Thank you. I love you.”  The first time i did that? Oh, it was hard!  But i spent a little time with each phrase and thought about how that could be true.  I’m sorry: well, yes, i’m sorry for all the ways that people treated you in such a way that you came to speak and act in the ways that you do.  Please forgive me: actually, please forgive all those people that did that to you.  Thank you: i’m sure you must have done some good things in your life, and i thank you for those.  I love you: wow, the hardest one.  Let’s see: i don’t love the face you present to the world, nor your warped and wounded personality.  What i do love is the divine spark that lives within you, your soul.  No matter how covered up it may be with the rust of decades, it is still there, shining away in the dark, and i love that.  As the practice has continued, the first two phrases have come to be much more directly personal: i’m sorry for all the nasty things i’ve thought and said about you.  Please forgive me.

And in the name of unity, i must also have compassion and respect for ALL the people who behave in harmful ways, out of greed and pride and ignorance and bigotry and prejudice and hatred.  In each and every one is that divine light shining away in the darkness, that soul to be respected.  God help me to remember.

heart-within-heart

The Highest Good

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Yesterday evening i took part in a very interesting post-feast, post-zikr conversation that ranged from the Grateful Dead phenomenon to the current political climate.  As we veered onto the election, a friend said to me “Well, we prayed and meditated for the Highest Good. What happened?” Good question. And the answer isn’t always easy to live with.  We may think we know what needs to happen for the Highest Good to come about. But we don’t.

The Highest Good means what is the very best for the whole human family, for all the beings we share this planet with, for the earth herself, for the solar system, for the galaxy, for everything beyond.  And within. We think we know how that looks.  But we don’t.

Given the fact that the Highest Good must encompass the individual wills of nearly seven billion people, to say nothing of higher intelligences that most of us have no experience of, it may take a very long time for it to come about.  Or not. As Martin Luther King Jr said (quoting 19th century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker) “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. I think it’s been bending for a very long time. And we don’t know how much longer it needs to bend.

We also don’t know who the next president of the United States will be, and we won’t know until Inauguration Day. There are likelihoods and probabilities and possibilities, but we know not what will transpire before that day.  For one thing, there is a massive movement afoot to convince the Electoral College to declare Hillary Clinton to be the president-elect.  Almost six million people have now signed the petition to that end. For another, the recounting of votes in some states is taking place.  And the popular vote count from the election now stands at a two million vote lead for Clinton.  We just don’t know how all this will play out.

And then there’s this information coming from what is called the Light Alliance, said to be a coordination of forces of light, higher intelligences now seeing it necessary to intervene soon in earthly affairs because of the degradation of human life due to the misuse of power affecting our political, economical, corporate, social, and health structures. We shall see.  But nevertheless, whoever takes the oath of office on January 20, and whatever forces of good and evil take action, we can’t see what the Highest Good is and how to bring it about.

Many of us in Silver City and Grant County are engaging in prayer and meditation in support of the people protecting the waters at Standing Rock.  Some of us have stood on the sidewalk by Gough Park and in front of Wells Fargo Bank with signs in support of that movement.  And a few of us have gone, are going, and will go to be at Standing Rock in person, putting their bodies on the line.  They go for all of us.  So we are engaging in both subtle and overt activism.  We are taking action in inner and outer ways in support of the values that are important to us.  This is very good.

Those of us who call ourselves progressives talk about the election results so far, and we worry and wonder. How did this happen? We have judgments of the people who voted for Donald Trump. And we have judgments against people who display hatred, racism, and bigotry of all kinds. What we need to understand is that beneath all these harmful attitudes lies fear.  And beneath our attitude of judgment lies – guess what? – fear.

Someone, actually many someones, have said “The opposite of love is fear”.  And in the New Testament it is written “Perfect love casts our fear” (1 John 4:18). If we understand this, we understand what the basic problem is. And we also understand what the remedy is.

In my hippie days, i read a book entitled The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas.  I now see by the title with its (probably unconscious) sexism, that Mr. Golas hadn’t reached the goal.  But there is one statement in that book that made a profound impression on me. I spent hours hand-lettering it in my best psychedelic poster script, and hung it on my wall so that i could see it whenever i sat on or lay in my bed.  The words were “Love as much as you can from wherever you are.”  Words to live by.

So out of all of this, i craft my remedy for contributing to the Highest Good. Pray and meditate and envision the very best outcomes i can, according to my own understanding.  Take overt action in support of my values.  Observe with compassion my own judgments and fears and those of my fellow human beings. Do my best to change the attitudes i hold that don’t serve me or the greater Oneness. And love as much as i can from wherever i am.

heart-within-heart

 

It’s Only Stuff?

A couple of days ago, my friends Rebecca and Bill, on vacation in their Dolphin motor home and headed to my house for a short visit, got hit by a young driver at the corner of Pope and 12th Sts here in Silver City.  Ouch.  Big hole in the side of “Beautiful Brown Bessie”, their faithful RV.

So began for them the exhausting and agonizing process of answering zillions of questions of their insurance company, trying to find someone to estimate the cost of repair, and wondering whether it’s possible to repair her at all.  After all, she’s 31 years old, and they don’t make them like her any more, or even the parts.

When they tell people what happened, the first questions everyone always asks is “All you all right? Was anyone hurt?”  The answer is no, and it’s a bit of a struggle to get back to gratitude that that is true, and arrive at “It’s only stuff.”  But when you’ve taken many wonderful trips in a beloved vehicle and had many marvelous adventures, it’s not so easy to get there.

It isn’t clear yet, and it may not be for many days or even more, whether Bessie can be salvaged and repaired.  So there’s that challenging task of waiting and not knowing. And that means not knowing whether it’s time to let go of her or whether to undertake gigantic measures to get her back to Seattle, get her fixed, and travel with her once again.

For myself, i am grateful for the longer visit and for the opportunity to be of some service to my friends, and also grateful for Bill’s work on making some hard-scape changes in my garden that are too much for me. But i sympathize with their dilemma.  It’s so easy to say in the abstract “oh, it’s only stuff, and thank heaven no-one was hurt”.  But we get connected to some things in pretty deep ways, and letting go is pretty darn difficult. This is part of the dilemma and challenge of being denizens of this planet.  At least for us human denizens. Blessings to us all as we come upon challenges like this – and especially to Bill and Rebecca right now.img_20161010_1556542_rewind-1

 

 

What Are We Doing Here?

As i typed this title, i remembered seeing it as a bumper sticker on my friend
Darvesha’s car, and thinking “There are so many ways to read that!”  Such as:

WHAT are we doing here?

What ARE we doing here?

What are WE doing here?

What are we DOING here?

What are we doing HERE?

Each one of those is a different question.  I guess the last two are the ones that prompted me to use this title, and it’s in regard to what i’m reading right now.

I’ve been immersed in the books of Michael Newton, who has done “life between lives” regressions with thousands of people. Each story tells of what it feels like to arrive “there” after dying at the end of a life, and reviewing that life, and resting and recuperating after the rigors of a life on this planet, and learning and studying about one’s own life history, and eventually determining what lessons and qualities are needed to progress in one’s spiritual development, and based on that, what sort of life one will take up next. The books are Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls, and also Life Between Lives, which is about the process of conducting the sessions.  This last one is of particular interest to me as i deepen my understanding and skills for doing what i call Far Memory Journeys.

But reading all these stories has of course prompted me to wonder just what challenges and lessons i chose for myself as i prepared for this life.  Some of it is quite clear to me, having lived 75 years here now, and had many deep experiences, some of them fraught with loss and suffering, and some delightful, exalted, and expanding. I am grateful for all of it!Dream Tunnel

In a couple of weeks i will be taking off for Virginia Beach to participate in an advanced hypnotherapy training for the purpose of deepening my work with past life, other life, and life between lives regressions. We will be a small group of 10 people, and we will each have the opportunity to regress another person and to be regressed ourselves.  Reading these books has been a wonderful preparation for that work, and i look forward not only to deepening my skills, but to learning more about what i’m doing here this time around. Stay tuned!

Change of Season

Today is the Autumn Equinox. And it’s the day after the International Day of Peace.  And here in Silver City, it’s the first day of the annual Gila River Festival.

Whether or not we are successful food gardeners, working hard to harvest and preserve the fruits of our gardens, there is so much to be done right now.  And for me, most of it has to do with joining with others near and far to pray for, meditate for, and protect the world we love and the world as we wish it to be.  There are so many synchronized meditations being organized right now that i’ve already missed a couple of them.

Oh, well, in my view of the world, in the spiritual dimensions, where we gather to meditate and pray together globally, there IS no time.  So whenever i have a breathing space, i will sit down and set my intention to join with brothers and sisters across space and time to meditate, to visualize a world that works for all beings, to support the inspiring and courageous people gathered at Standing Rock, to send loving, healing, honoring, respectful thoughts and prayers to our beloved Mother the Earth.

As i mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago (“September”), many visionaries, channelers, astrologers, and other interesting people have predicted that this is the month of great change.  And one, in fact, named TODAY as the start of something big.

Well, it may be so.  But regardless of the timing of cosmic events that help us to move to a better life for all on this planet, i do know that every single time i and you and we focus our attention on that better life, we help it come about.  I don’t know how a 20-minute meditation will affect the financial systems or the outcome of the elections or change the global and national climate of hatred, suspicion, racism, and fear, but i have ultimate faith that it does so.

So i invite you to join me in as many periods of this kind of world-changing activity as you can manage, whether on your own or as part of a synchronized world meditation.

And if you live in the Silver City area, you are most welcome and encouraged to come to the Lotus Center on Broadway at 3:30 for the Fall Equinox Celebration.  Bring your drums, your rattles, your singing bowls, and your open and aspiring hearts!

All is well and all is well and all will be well.

autumn

 

 

 

If You Can Keep Your Heart…

Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem “If”:

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you”

And today, i’m telling myself “If you can keep your heart full of light when all about you are suffering and struggling”, then what?  If i can do that, i can perhaps counteract to some small extent the wave of pain and violence and dysfunction that seems to be engulfing so much of our planet right now.

I’ve read or heard face-to-face so many harrowing stories today!  Pain and difficulty at all levels of human being, from the individual and personal to the global and planetary.  With each story, i feel my heart sink.  But i am determined to keep on keeping on as a light-worker, as a carrier of the vision of the new world that’s being born. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.  When i feel other people’s pain, my intention is to use that pain as a reminder to visualize the positive, the healing, the building of a world of Love, Harmony, and Beauty.

So how can i do that?  When i feel that heaviness in my heart, as i do right now, i know that what i need to do is head for my meditation room, breathe Light and Love in and out of my heart until i feel it is light and loving again, and then visualize each person whose painful story i heard today, see them healing and healed, free and happy once again, or maybe for the first time. And then visualize the whole earth bathed in its own essential and true Light and Love.

This is the true essence of the Earth, just as it is the true essence of each one of us. Our planetary reality is going through a HUGE change right now, and it can be very challenging for us on all levels.  The remedy, as i see it, is to keep our eyes on the prize.  What’s that? A world that works for everyone, every human being, every culture, every  being, every ecosystem.  A world of cooperation and compassion and co-creation, a world that knows and acts from the knowledge that we are all Once. OK, please excuse me while it retire to my meditation room!

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Hiatus

In breaking news today: “A federal judge has granted the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s request to temporarily stop work on some, but not all of a portion of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline to safeguard cultural sites in North Dakota.

“U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said Tuesday that work will temporarily stop between State Highway 1806 and 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but that work will continue west of the highway because he believes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lacks jurisdiction on private land.”

So, in this historic gathering of Native American tribes to prevent the installation of an oil pipeline across their sacred lands and under the Missouri River, we pause between breaths. Or maybe a pause to just breathe.

The crisis isn’t over; we’re just taking a break until we see what happens next. And so it feels to me in so very many ways on our planet right now. The old ways of competition, the weighing of EVERYTHING by the bottom line, greed, and misuse of power, and the new ways of cooperation, compassion, inclusion, and sharing, are at loggerheads.  Right now. A lot of the confrontation is taking place beyond the physical plane, and it does feel today like a pause to breathe while energies adjust and re-orient

Don’t ask me for particulars about what i’m referring to, because this is so much in the realm of intuition that i don’t know that i can put labels and dates and places on this. But it is September (see my previous post), and many, many, earth-changing, heart-changing evens are possible, maybe even probable.

So let’s take a break to just breathe, deeply and evenly, and as we do so, to envision the world we long to see and to live in and to pass on to the ones coming.  So mote it be.

dakota-access-pipeline-gathering

September

September is coming tomorrow.

The message has been coming from many directions that this month is a very big one. A time of even more transformation and elevation of resonance and consciousness than what we’ve been through so far.

I hear it from astrologers, from people who speak of Ascension, of elevation to the fifth dimension (skipping right past the fourth, i believe!) We have it from psychics and channelers, and even scientists.  It turns out that our DNA is mutating at a rapid rate and is likely heading toward 12 strands as opposed to the present standard two-strand. (The scientists aren’t talking about September,by the way.)

The older, and hopefully, wiser i get, the more i find myself saying “i don’t know!”, and feeling very good about that.  I do have an intuitive feel that we are in the midst of great change, not only in physical and  societal ways, but also in unseen ways, in terms of vibratory rates and spiritual awareness and adaptability.  Children being born with astounding capacities and sensitivities.  People leaving the planet (as in dying) in great numbers – at least it seems so in my experience and in that of my friends and acquaintances.  Is that just because i’m up there in years, or is there really an increasing leaving-the-planet migration?

In any case, my aspiration now is to greet each day with gratitude and a sense of wonder. Thank you for this day.  I wonder what will happen today?  I wonder what will happen in September?

I neither believe nor disbelieve all the stuff i’m hearing, although i must say that a great deal of what is being predicted to happen any day now.it is extremely appealing! The end of oppression of humanity economically, politically, environmentally, societally.  A new world order that works for everyone? Bring it on, i say!

Dream Tunnel

Immersion

Last week I participated in a “Savitri Immersion” at the Sri Aurobindo Learning Center up in Crestone CO.  It was a deep dive into Savitri, the amazing mantric epic poem written by the great yogi Sri Autobindo, founder of Integral Yoga. Twice each day we would begin with silent meditation, then listen to teachings, mostly from Sri Autobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga (sutra), then open ourselves to the mantric reading by our teacher Rod Hemsell of lines from Savitri (mantra), then meditate for some time with the aspiration of connecting with the Divine, specifically with the Divine Mother (tantra).

This was a wonderful renewal of my relationship with Integral Yoga, from which i had mostly drifted away since i left Auroville, the international township in South India founded by the Mother as a city based on the Integral Yoga.  I lived there for four years in the 1990s. So this was the renewal of a practice i had not engaged in for almost 20 years, except for the two times i went back to Auroville for visits and spent time every day meditating in the Matrimandir. Oh, that blessed place!

Matrimandir

So now that i’m home, i’m reflecting and wondering what it is that i have brought with me after this very deep experience.  I must say that it has revitalized my spiritual orientation and my practice.  I am very happy to say that this path is completely harmonious with my “native” tradition of Sufism.

In addition to my usual daily practice of the healing breaths, connection with the 7 directions, meditation, prayer for the healing of those who have requested it, and blessing of the people, places, and projects that are close to my heart, and my weekly practice of zikr with my Sufi community, i have now begun a daily practice of sutra, mantra, and tantra with The Synthesis of Yoga, Savitri, and tantric meditation.  For those who are not familiar with this use of the word tantra, which is both a Hindu and a Tibetan Buddhist practice, it involves an aspiration to connect with a deity or aspect of the Divine and then merge with it.  I have made a commitment to do this added practice daily for a month and then decide whether to continue with it.  After just a couple of days of doing it, my guess is that i would be reluctant to let it go!

So what else is new since my adventure up in Crestone? A renewed aspiration to be a part of the preparation for the next step in evolution of human consciousness through my own practice, and a desire to live ever more completely in mindfulness and equanimity, accepting each sensory experience and event as it occurs in my life, and to remember that within it all is the Divine.  Within every single person and thing and happening.  Every single one. And to remember that everyone and everything is as it must be in this moment. Not what it should be or was or will be, but what it is right now.  Given our present state of human consciousness, this is how it must be – for now.  And i vow to do whatever i can do to make this world become what it can be, starting with my own individual world of body, mind, and spirit. Svaha!