Friday, July 10, 2009

The Hamster Wheel of Desire

Desire is a concept, which has fascinated me over the years. Some say desire is a distraction, always pulling our attention from the present into the future. Others say it is a necessary motivating force in evolutionary advancement.

I’ve learned that there are two kinds of desires: needs and wants. A need is a “true” desire based on what we need to live, and a want is a “borrowed” desire based usually on what we see others having, and on what we think would impress others.

Years ago I taught a series of workshops in creative visualization. As I watched myself and others manifest our wants and needs, I noticed something, which felt unsatisfying inside. No matter how much I manifested, there was always another desire following close behind the last, beckoning me to focus on it. I seemed to be more in a state of want, rather than one of satisfaction. I found myself worrying if I was visualizing the right things. Should I be visualizing something more grand or more noble. I found it a bit stressful. That’s when I heard of an interesting study conducted with subjects who had experienced either a tragedy, such as losing a limb, or a fortuitous windfall, such as winning the lottery. Interestingly, they found that after two years, both types returned to the same emotional setting they were at when the accident or boon occurred. It seems we have an emotional thermostat, which is set at a particular range based on our conditioning. Although, we may temporarily experience greater highs or deeper lows, our thermostat is basically set and will return to its comfortable setting. That is unless one consciously works at changing it.

When I was younger I had somewhat of a victim consciousness. Someone or something was always causing a slight irritation in my life. It was my story to tell and I loved my stories. I got attention when I told them. I could easily get others to agree with me that the other was wrong and I was right and that whatever it was, it shouldn’t be happening. It gave me a clear sense of where I left off and the “other” began. No matter what happened, I was always in this emotional state of “things are fine, BUT.” When I came to realize that my big “But” and my sense of being slightly victimized by people and circumstances were causing the irritation, I set out to change it. I also saw that my way of interpreting what was happening was keeping my emotional setting at the familiar yet unsatisfying position. As I became more conscious and watched myself in action, I developed more skill at stopping the “BUT” when it came up, and of dealing with my projections of others when I started to blame out instead of look within.

I also realized that satisfaction is something that comes from within rather than from any person, place or thing on the outside. It's a decision I make to be in desire or in satisfaction. Spending time on wants rather than on needs keeps me in a never ending ride on the hamster wheel of desire. Now when I focus on gratitude for what I have, and work to maintain a feeling of satisfaction for what is in the moment, existence brings me whatever I need. Interestingly, whatever I need is also what I want.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Unexpected Spontaneous Sweetness

When I live spontaneously I open to being touched by unexpected sweetness! On my way back to Sausalito after teaching tai chi in Berkeley today, I made a spur of the moment decision to take myself out to lunch. I turned off the freeway and headed up the hill to a favorite restaurant of mine. Just as I parked, my daughter called and I asked her to join me. She hopped in her car and came over. After lunch we decided to take a walk at the Berkeley Marina and then go to a movie. She is on vacation and I was very happy to spend the day with her in spite of work I had planned on doing. As we were walking, we noticed a woman looking at a small bird sitting still on the path. She was on the phone calling the wildlife protection services. She told us she had to leave but she was expecting someone to come and rescue the little bird. Ali and I told her we would sit with the bird and wait. We sat down along side the little creature who seemed fine, but was not moving much, which is unusual for a wild bird. Within a minute or so, as we sat there talking to it, it hopped over to me and nestled in under my crossed leg. I was so touched by the sweetness of this little bird's trust, I was filled with inner joy. Within another few moments the little bird attempted to fly off. It landed about 100 feet away in another slightly vulnerable looking spot. Ali and I went ran over and again sat down nearby enjoying the unusual behavior of this bird. It seemed to understand as we spoke soothing words to it and started chirping back at us. Then it raised up again on it's two little legs, hopped over onto my hand and sat confidently looking around. Again after a few moments, it attempted another flight. This time it flew several hundred feet into the parking lot of a hotel. This will never do, we thought. Although it could fly, it wasn't flying very far and seemed to be slightly tilted to one side. We figured something might be wrong with a wing. This time we picked it up into our hands. I got to experience something I've been saying to my tai chi students for years, describing how to make a fist in the tai chi punches. "Make a fist as if there were a small bird in your hand. You don't want to hurt the bird, and you don't want it to fly away." We took our little friend and put it in a box with a towel. We left it tucked away in this opened box protected from the wind, near the spot we found it. We were hoping it's mom and dad would come and feed it while we took our walk. When we came back it was still in the box and seemed a bit weaker. When I came back later that evening to check, the little bird had flown in spirit and left it's body. I felt so blessed to have come across this little bundle of love who awakened such delight in me. I'm so grateful for the afternoon of unexpected, spontaneous sweetness. As sad as I was to see it was no longer alive, something in me knew it was all as it should be.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Daddy

My dad was 83 and had been in the care home for three weeks when he said to me, sitting next to his bed, “I don’t think you want to see this.” “See what,” I asked? See you die?” I knew that’s what he meant. “Yeah, I don’t know if you can handle it. I don‘t want to see you cry,” he said. “Oh daddy, I would feel so blessed if I could be with you at that moment, I promise I won‘t cry!” I said. “Well, ok then, if I have anything to do about it, I’ll wait until you are here,” he assured me. We looked at each other and smiled as he squeezed my hand.

I love my daddy. I’ve been a daddy’s girl since the day I was born. According to my mom, I knew when his truck had rounded the corner of our street when I was a small baby. “All of a sudden, you’d stop crying and just listen. Somehow you felt him just minutes away.” As soon as I started walking, every morning at dawn, I’d crawl out of bed and head for their room. “I’d feel your dad’s arm lift the covers and then I’d hear the pitter-patter of your little feet coming down the hall. You’d always get in bed on his side,” she’d add.

It was true he was my beloved daddy! Around the age of 25, I started worrying about him dying. I feared he would die before I learned everything I wanted to learn from him. He was a unique man, an eccentric fellow. My mother divorced him when I was 10 and he lived alone from that time on, until he died 40 years later. He said he didn’t want to remarry because a new wife might not want him to spend as much time with his kids and grandkids as he wanted to. Everyday he came to visit me. During the week he would come at 5:15 pm on the dot, and at 8 o’clock sharp on Saturday and Sunday mornings. He always brought donuts on Sunday. He’d honk his horn and I’d come flying out of the house to sit in his car and visit for an hour or so. After I went away to college, when I’d come home for the holidays, my mom and my step dad would invite him to all our holiday dinners. He would entertain us all with his interesting way of talking and story telling. He had a style all his own. He could tell a joke and have us all bent over in pain, laughing so hard. He definitely had his own unique way of thinking. He loved to talk about how unhealthy it is to see a doctor. He used to tell me not to listen too closely in school because I’d have to unlearn a lot of what they were teaching me.

He was an original and authentic man with some quirky habits befitting such an unusual character. He was a hoarder. His house was off-limits to all but family members. Others would have an uncomfortable time trying to maneuver through his stuff. There was literally a tight path from the front door to the couch and another to his bed and one more to the bathroom. If you wanted to go anywhere else in the house you had to climb over piles to get there.

He loved his grandchildren. He drove them to school every morning and picked them up after school. I lived several hours away, when my daughter was born. He would tape record himself singing songs, a cappella, like “Froggy Went A’Courtin,” and “My Blue Heaven.” He’d mail them to my daughter so she could listen to them at bedtime. He said he liked to sing her to sleep. He loved children and had a very tender heart. He could be very exasperating, too. He loved to be on the other side of a political argument and he delighted in tormenting my sister and her husband with his opposing politics. He was as liberal as they come. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and a goat-tee during the Vietnam War years. He spewed anti-war rhetoric everywhere and anywhere it would cause a ruckus.

He loved me unconditionally. I could always feel his love. He asked for nothing, told me I never had to demonstrate my love because he could feel it whether he heard from me or not. I remember him telling me from the time I was in my early twenties, “Your old daddy is gonna die sometime and I want you to get used to it. I don’t want you crying over me.” It seemed he was as worried about me crying as I was about him dying. Our relationship became very honest as I grew older and I could tell him things I thought I needed to say. Such as how I felt the way he had treated my brother was not as good as I thought he should. And how his spell of drinking, staying drunk for four years after he and my mom divorced, had been hard to deal with. And how he had been in denial of some aspects of his personality. But all in all, he knew I loved him unconditionally too, so these were just things I felt I had to say for some reason and he didn‘t seem to mind much.

Sometime around 79 years of age, he fell and broke his hip. He went to the hospital and they told him it wasn’t broken and to walk on it. He tried that for a month and when he could stand it no longer he returned for another ex-ray to find that what was a previous hairline fracture had become a full-on break. They operated and put pins in his hip. Although he tried to get back into the swing of things, he never seemed to recover from this trauma. He became much more quiet and sedentary. He watched television and movies part of the day but he mostly liked to just lie in bed and think because as he said, “the chickens had come home to roost.” He told me that all the “bad” things he had ever done to anyone were coming up for him to take a look at.

One day he called to tell me he had been in for a check-up and the doctor had told him he had lung cancer and probably only two more years to live. “We better make the best of it,” he said. He wouldn’t go in for a biopsy so we were never sure if he really ever had lung cancer. He never had any symptoms of lung cancer, but he did have something that was bringing him down. His intestines had stopped working and his hip hurt really badly. As a result, he was reluctant to eat. About three years after the diagnosis, I took him to see my acupuncturist. She told me he didn’t have much time left and should not be living alone anymore. We were hesitant to tell him, and the following day he told my sister and I that he didn’t want to live alone anymore. My sister arranged for a move into a local care home as her house was in the middle of a complete remodel and I lived two hours away. He was fearful at first. He raised all kinds of hell then he calmed down and began his journey. He stopped eating completely and just drank a small amount of water. Occasionally, he would request a tapioca pudding from my mom like she used to make when they were married. Everyone was bringing in tapioca pudding but he would only eat the one’s she made. She was remarried again and hadn’t seen him in a few years, but she obliged and made the pudding. Six weeks had passed since he had moved into the care home. I made bi-weekly trips to visit and phone calls. One night after I had returned home from teaching my evening tai chi class, I found eight messages on my phone machine. The first was my sister saying “get up here quick, he is going”. The second one was my uncle. The third was my brother. Each one sounded a bit more urgent. My heart pounding, I listened to one after the other, waiting to hear what I feared. The eighth one and he, was still alive. I called his room and told my sister, “I’m coming right now. I’ll be there as fast as I can.” He was unconscious at this point, heavily drugged with morphine and his breathing had begun what is called the death rattle. Steve and I hopped in the car and drove as if we were the only ones on the road. It was 9:30 pm. I kept alternating my thinking, “Hold on dad, I’m coming” and “Go ahead and die if you need to.” I felt so selfish wanting him to wait and yet I wanted him to wait so badly. We arrived at the care home, I ran in the building and down the hall to his room. My heart pounding, I rounded the corner into his room and there he was, ALIVE! He made a gasping sound and my brother and sister cried out “He knows you are here!” Suddenly, the strangest of things happened, I filled with ecstatic joy. I went up to his bedside and put my face near his. The smell emanating from him was the most beautiful scent. I was swimming in love. I looked at his body, which was once, a six feet, three inches, two hundred pound man and was now literally skin and bones. I saw only beauty. I felt as if we were merging into one. I whispered, “You can go now daddy.” He took one more gasp and his breathing stopped. My hand was on the top of his head. I felt a spark of electricity come out of the top of his head. What was once in this wilted body was now permeating the room. I was in ecstasy. I had never felt this bliss before. What he had taught me while in this form was tremendous, yet paled in comparison to what he was showing me now. We are, in our essence, only love. There is no death. I had merged and yet was still in my form. I lifted up my head and found my brother clapping my hands. “Oh daddy, you did it,” I said. I looked at my sister who was beaming, Steve was beaming, and I was ecstatic. Steve had moved toward his head and seemed to be soaking up the vibes. “I’m so proud of you!” My brother said as he stroked his forehead. Right then, I heard a man in a nearby room moaning and I found myself walking down the hall into his room. As I walked in his room, he looked at me as if I was an angel and stopped crying. “Do you need something?” I asked him. “I’m fine,” he replied. “My dad just died,” I told him, with a beaming smile on my face. “Oh, well, you better go take care of that.” He said. “OK,” I answered, “are you going to be alright?” I asked. “Oh, yes, I’m fine.” He said as he gazed at me in wonder. Part of me could hardly believe what was occurring and another part felt it was all divinely orchestrated.

My sister and I went to the nurse and told him of our father’s passing. We went back into the room and sat with our dad a while and waited for the Neptune Society to come and take his body. Oddly, there was nothing sad about this. His death seemed to be teaching us that there is no death. There is just the dropping of the body, a freedom. He had said he was ready to die, that he had had a good life and was eager to leave his body. I felt that he never left us he just took off that “tight shoe.” He is here whenever I think of him, permeating me with love.

I kept my word, I didn’t cry. I beam with bliss and gratitude that through his dying, he taught me the truth about life.

I love my daddy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Yin and Yang Consciousness

A study of history reveals that in the past 3,000 years, we have records of over 5,000 wars on this planet Earth. War seems to be a popular past time. When we look into our own lives and notice how often we are at odds with co-workers, loved ones, or fellow drivers on the road, and then even closer into the internal battles going on in our own heads, we can see the inevitable and insidious nature of war.

Revolution, the overthrowing of one paradigm for a new, if it’s at the same level of consciousness is not effective in creating change. Why haven’t we noticed? Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. As much as we talk of our desire for world peace or even peace of mind, it continues to elude us. It seems it is time we individually wake up out of our insanity and start a collective evolution, rather than a revolution.

No matter what is going on in the world, no matter how completely it seems as if it shouldn’t be, no matter how much we want to protest and change it, the only real change we can truly affect is within ourselves, individually. This is not to say we shouldn’t try to change the outside world. It would be na├»ve to think we could ever stop trying. To do so consciously though, acknowledging that there is no possible way we can see the complete and true nature of any situation, would manifest a radically different action. To realize the degree to which we are projecting our own filters of our conditioning onto the matter would result in less harm, greater effectiveness, and a quantum leap into a higher level of consciousness.

We don't really make change to a higher level when we are fighting something. It is a Universal Law that like attracts like. If we see something manifesting, which causes a reaction in us, we must be vibrating on a similar level or we wouldn't be in reaction to it. If we are operating at a higher level of consciousness, we naturally know how to respond harmlessly with wisdom and grace. If we attempt to change something before changing our own energetic level, we just make changes of a lateral nature. For instance, if we see children fighting, we step in maturely and handle the situation. We don't jump in and start fighting with them to stop them. Well, some of us may resort to slapping them around, which may stop them temporarily, but I doubt it does much for changing their behavior on a more permanent basis. I'll use a different example. If we see someone on the street having a psychotic spell, yelling obscenities at us, we most likely have compassion and respond from that place of compassion. However, if we are having a psychotic episode as well, we may take offense to what they are saying and attack back defensively.

We only see a tiny fraction of what's going on in front of our eyes at any given moment. To think we see the whole "truth" of a situation is to be in deep delusion. It is our grace when we see something we want to change. This is our catalyst for personal growth. We can know what we need to change about ourselves by seeing what we think needs changing outwardly, with which we are in reaction. The outer world is truly our mirror. We must first change our own understanding and level of consciousness and then see what needs to be done on the outside. When we change ourselves, it affects everything in the outer world as well. If everyone on the planet took care of their own happiness and peace of mind, we would all be happy. There are, of course, those of us who can't for one reason or another take care of ourselves, the psychotic mentioned earlier would be an example. This is where the call to serve comes in. But only from a place of higher understanding.

If we each take responsibility for the quality of energy we are personally radiating, especially when we are in judgment and opposition, acknowledge our own projections onto others whom we are judging, and heal ourselves first, what a difference it can make! This brings to mind the metaphor of putting our own oxygen masks on first in the event of cabin depressurization on an airplane. We are then able to freely breathe while assisting others. If we don’t put ours on first, we are of little help to anyone including ourselves.

We can also change the quality of our energetic radiance by focusing on what we WANT rather than on what we DON'T want. What we focus on expands and so focusing on solutions puts us on the track for effective change into a new paradigm rather than fighting from the same level of consciousness, which created the situation in the first place. This is a most important and effective step forward in creating a world of peace. Have you ever noticed how good it feels to think of what you want and what a downer it is to stay focused, ruminating on what you don't like? This is our challenge, to stay aware of our thinking and ask ourselves if we are radiating warlike energy or peaceful energy. How often do we get what we want by complaining and radiating negative energy?

The yin/yang theory is a great tool, if you want to find a path toward inner peace. In the yin/yang, (also called Tai Chi symbol) we can see expressed visually the dynamic in which war occurs. Whatever is happening is occurring in this play of opposites. We can view it from a yin side or the yang side. We can see it as right or wrong, as good or bad, as beautiful or ugly, the list goes on to infinity. Which side we view it from determines how we feel about what we are seeing. If what we are seeing is in alignment with our beliefs and conditioning, we like it, if not, we don't. If however, we view it from the mid-line of the circle or more expansively from the outer rim of the circle viewing the whole, we see everything as just this play. Each side is dependent and gives rise to the other and each exists within the other. Nothing is good or bad, it’s our point of view that makes it so for each of us individually.

If we all could take a moment now and then to go within and ask what a particular dislike, or even better, an extreme aversion is pointing to in ourselves, we may be wonderfully surprised. I say wonderfully because this is a very empowering technique. I say surprised because seldom do we realize that what we dislike in another is a disowned part of ourselves. What we cannot accept in ourselves, we cannot accept and love in another. The answer to peace and happiness lies in the degree to which we love and accept ourselves. When we stop projecting all of our self-hatred onto others and begin the process of healing into self-acceptance, the end of war becomes a real possibility.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is It True?

Our experience of life is created by our perception of what’s happening moment by moment. This perception is a result of our basic nature and our conditioning, which is the sum total of all our interactions with people and events from birth onward. As these interactions occur, they become imprinted in our subconscious mind so quickly that we are not consciously aware of the effect. We then respond to life through the filter of these imprints and this creates our particular spin on things. We take this spin to be reality or the truth!

With enough dissatisfaction in life we may be inspired to take a look within. When we do take a closer look at how our beliefs and attitudes are affecting our daily lives, we often come to realize that our interpretations are not only inaccurate, they don’t even serve us. It becomes obvious that an adjustment might be a good idea. But, how do we make this adjustment?

Questioning the validity of a belief is the beginning. Asking ourselves, Is it true? When we answer that question honestly, there is rarely a time when we can answer truthfully yes it is true. There is nothing we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

We begin with the beliefs that aren’t serving us. I have been putting my beliefs to the inquiry for over a decade now and haven’t come up with a single thought or belief that stands the test of this inquiry: is it true? If “there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so,” as Shakespeare says, then, why not just let go of the beliefs that feel bad. Over.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are You Needed to Run Your LIfe?

About 10 years ago I was driving my car one morning and a very clear and distinct voice inside my head said, “If you will just relax and let me run the show, I will do such a better job than you could ever think of doing.” I was a little stunned to hear this voice to say the least, but very intrigued. I had heard the saying from the Advaita system of thought, “We are not the doers!” so this was not a new concept to me. I set out to experiment with this idea of just relaxing and letting go of the reins, so to speak. I decided (if I am even the decider) to let the voice who spoke those confident words, take a shot at it. I hadn’t done such a bad job, but I did want to see if this voice could, in fact, do such a better job.

I started by doing whatever was already in the dayplanner, such as my usual tai chi classes, clients and social engagements, etc. But as far as planning and acting as if I had to work to design my life for success and happiness, I relaxed and followed whatever was in front of me. When I would leave my tai chi classes, I would watch where I was “moved” in that moment to go. If I went home, I would putter around the house until I got a clear direction of what to do next. The phone would ring and it would be someone asking me to help them with something or go somewhere with them, and that would be my information as to what to do. If a “should” came up, I would notice it and turn my focus to something enjoyable. I did what felt good and right and nothing that felt like it arose from guilt or fear.

My life took a decidedly more relaxed tone, although it did actually seem to get busier with positive, helpful and enjoyable ways of being. New vistas opened that I doubt would have ever appeared as possibilities to me, and in ways I could never have planned or schemed up. The voice was right. I’m still experimenting with this notion of ‘not being the doer’. My life as I live it right now is not what my little mind would ever have come up with. And, I must say, I really like it. I now spend my time trying to stay focused on gratitude and keeping my vibration up so that awesome voice inside me has a good environment within which to create.

That’s not always such an easy job but getting much more so!

I'm writing this blog because I just came upon a couple paragraphs in an fabulous book by Paramahamsa Nithyananda's Living Enlightenment:

"...we have an automatic intelligence that can run our lives, that can take care of our day-to-day responsibilities. Not only can it run our lives, it can maintain, extend, and expand our lives as well...."

"If you just relax, the automatic intelligence of Existence will run your life beautifully for you. Your actions will be automatically propelled by the energy of Existence."

Thank you, Nithyananda for confirming and giving a name to that voice: the Intelligence of Existence!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Swine Flu Discussion

Dear Jarl,

The thing is, my research tells me swine flu is a LABORATORY virus. A combo of 3 viruses bird, swine, human, a super virus potentially. History tells us Hitler and the SS developed and expanded biological warfare in the 1930s. All I ask is that people research the subject. Whatever conclusions you have is ok with me, as long as you do your reading from multiple sources. TB

Dear TB,

I hear you. Knowledge is good. I deeply believe and experience that what we focus on expands and that keeping our energetic vibration positive (and I'm not saying to ignore or stick our heads in the sand) actually protects us to a large degree. Remember the Oakland fire? There were huge burned out areas, and I remember this one house with a white picket fence all around it with absolutely no damage. Everything around it for 360 degrees was burned down. This house with fence and all was completely intact. I use that as a visual image for myself when I know there is a possible danger. I radiate a light around me, and all those I know and love.

There is the dark side and the light side of life, a yin and yang of everything. We can keep our focus on the dark side and that is what we will experience as our reality, or we can keep our focus on the light side. The truth, in manifested reality only, is that the two sides exist. If we stand on the middle line of the yin/yang circle, aware of the existence of both sides, and knowing the truth is the whole picture, then we don't get out of balance in the negative, or with our head in the sand in the positive. I believe in the Primal Will toward Good, meaning that we are in a continual state of evolving and that that continual evolving is in the direction toward Good and expansion. I personally keep my focus on what I want, rather than on what I don't want or fear (because I believe that what I focus on expands.) I try to dissolve my fears rather than fight them or focus on them. So in that case, what I would do about the flu virus is, be aware that it exists whether it's created by evil or organic in origin, and keep myself in as good of health emotionally, physically and mentally so that my immune system is in the strongest condition possible to ward off any potential sickness. That way, fear can act as a motivator, but it is dangerous as a constant companion. When I focus on love and goodness, I just live in a happier state of mind and attract happier people, more enjoyable circumstances and better health. When I focus on fearful things, I feel scared and blaming. It's not a fun way for me to live.

Regarding the news about the flu virus or anything else reported, there are a gajillion things occurring in our world at any one moment and to think that a small group of news reporters or even anyone's particular interpretation of events (which, by the way, is completely colored by their conditioning,) is accurate or relevant or true is, in my mind, ridiculous. I have found that the only thing I can do, and the most important thing to do, is to keep my energetic vibration high. That is the best protector for me and the best radiance I can offer to the world. There are over 6 billion people on the planet, each with unique conditioning, interpretation, and reaction to whatever is encountered at any given moment. This relatively small group of people determine what is important for us to think about, and it is usually something to make us fearful because, as we know, fear sells. It is unfortunate that this is what we come to think of as reality. It's not my reality. I don't listen to the news, or read the newspapers. Yet I am out in the world and somehow seem to hear the scuttlebutt. My reality is informed by my practice of focusing on gratitude. It is a full time job trying to notice everything in the present moment for which to feel grateful. It is also without a doubt so very joyful.

I don't have a whole lot of fear about death. I know it will happen and I trust it will be the right time when it does. In the meantime, I'm focusing on gratitude and love because in spite of the 50% of existence which is negative, there is an equal 50% which is positive. It is this interplay which creates progress, growth, evolution. There will never ever be anything but the equal sides. There has to be the balance of negative and positive. There's no other possible way. We can never eradicate the dark side, it must exist for the light to exist. The good news is that we get to choose what we want to focus on. The one thing we can do is remain balanced and experience life with gratitude. I cannot think of a more pleasant way to live life. This approach to life is also the embodiment of an authentic tai chi practice.

I love you, Jarl

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Only Real Change Necessary: from Fear to Love

Change seems to be the word for 2009! It’s about time we embrace the only constant in our lives. What a beautiful concept and yet how we fear it. Imagine if things didn’t change. How boring would life be? And yet the unknown scares us so.

It’s been said that there are only two real emotions, love and fear. All others issue from them. For instance, anger comes from fear of something. Happiness comes from love of something. If I approach life with love then change seems enjoyable and welcome. If I approach life with fear, then change is very stressful and I will try to resist it causing more stress.

We have a choice and, in my opinion, this is the only real choice we have. This is our Free Will, our choice to come from love or fear. All of our life experiences result from our choosing to respond to life from love or fear.

I must admit that in my earlier years, my conditioning steered me in the direction of choosing from fear. As time moved on, something in me noticed what these choices were doing to my life. I made a commitment to myself to start turning my life in a different direction by choosing to come from love rather than fear. That decision led me to the realization that Truth is more important than comfort. To face Truth rather than to seek comfort has become my choice from love. By living in Truth, being true to myself and others, by looking life squarely in the face and not hiding from the messages my body, my emotions and the world mirror back to me, I have found a comfort that is much deeper than the one I sought by avoiding fear.

This is a crucial time in the history of our lives. We are awakened enough to see what our choices do to not only the quality of our lives but to the survival of our planet. We can put an end to life, as we know it, by the push of a button. We can put a slow end to life on our planet by continuing to selfishly and ignorantly exhaust our resources. We can continue to live as if we were separate individuals with no need to care about the welfare of one another. We can go on thinking that our group is better than the others, that our nation is better and deserves more, that our religion is the only way and go to war over these beliefs. But I believe deep down we all know how foolish this is.

It is my wish that we all awaken from our illusion of separateness and drop our silly identifications, which are causing all our wars both internally and globally.

We are like leaves on a tree. Our source comes from the same place. Without that source, we cease to exist. Imagine leaves warring over their individual interpretations of God. The tree could care less about what each leaf thinks. The tree just loves it’s own leaves and equally, I’m sure. Imagine a leaf thinking it was so special and so much better than another. Imagine one branch trying to suck all the water and hoard it. Think of how the whole tree would suffer, if it could even accomplish that mission. The beauty of the tree is in its entirety. If the tree becomes sick, all the leaves suffer.

It’s time we wake up to the fact that we are all from the same source. It’s time we drop our selfishness and our sense of separateness. It’s time we embrace one another and act from love rather than from fear. Our survival is at stake.

The most important change we can make is to reorient our lives and embrace change with love. I recently read this quote in the newsletter of Namaste Publishing "....we will not only come to know and act on the dictum that we are our brother’s keeper, we will at last recognize that we are our brother. We are all made of the same spiritual essence."

Just say no to fear.
Your life depends upon it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Did You Vote? And Why?

Your Political Consciousness is Showing!

The motivation for the way a person votes says a lot about their level of social and moral consciousness or development. Ken Wilber has written a book called The Integral Vision where he lays out a comprehensive “map of consciousness" which enables you to see for yourself at just what stage or level of consciousness you are presently residing in the various aspects of your life. By looking at your political leanings, for instance, and applying this map you can learn heaps about yourself and others.

In his book, he uses a very simple model possessing three stages or levels of consciousness: Egocentric (me), Ethnocentric (us), and World-centric (all of us). The egocentric is the first stage of consciousness in this model. Looking at a person's social and moral development at the egocentric (me) stage, we see a person who is primarily concerned with his or her own survival needs. A self-absorbed person would also fall into this category. An ethnocentric (us) would be someone who has expanded out enough to be concerned with his tribe, group, clan or nation. At this stage we are concerned with our relationships, shared values, mutual interests, common ideals, and shared dreams. We can put ourselves in the roles or shoes of others and feel what it might be like to be them. Our identity expands from me to us, a move from egocentric to ethnocentric. With a further expansion in consciousness, we begin to care for all peoples, regardless of race, color, sex, creed or country and we open to a worldcentric (all of us) stage. At this stage, our own desires are tempered by the welfare and well-being of all others.

Locating where we fit within this model is a valuable exercise. This model not only shows us where we are in any aspect of life we may apply it to, but it also gives us an idea of our next stage and exercises to help us evolve to that level.

While listening to people talk about their political ideas and beliefs, it becomes clear, quite quickly, where their beliefs fit in this model. If you care mainly for your pocketbook, for example, you voted to keep your taxes low, or you are self-absorbed and don’t care particularly one way or another about the election, then you might want to check out ways of expanding your social and moral consciousness into the second level. If you think your "party" is the right one, no matter what, and you are voting party lines, or you think the color of a candidate's skin or their gender indicates inferiority, then you might want to think about expanding into the third level. If you are ecstatically in the third level or world-centric and know that this was perhaps the most important election in the history of our country, indicating a giant leap in conscious for the nation and possibly for the planet, then you are probably already working on expanding your consciousness to attain the next stage as an Integrated Being.

Sidebar: Please do note that your consciousness can be high in one aspect of your life and low in another. This "map" is just a tool to help you locate which areas need a little lift.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What I Can Do

Regarding politics, race, or religion, when we criticize or condemn, we are usually projecting an unconscious part of ourselves onto the person or people condemned. This is the nature of all “isms”. For example, racism is a projection of a disowned part of oneself onto the one perceived as different. What we don’t accept in ourselves, we project out onto others and then reject. This is a clever tactic of the ego to stay in control and remain feeling separate and superior. However, what and how we condemn, we usually become or experience. Politically, one side condemns the other and then in turn becomes the condemned and vice versa.

As the spiritual axiom goes, what we focus on expands and what we give our attention to grows. If we are critical and demonizing of the leaders in office, we will continue to find people to criticize and demonize if that is what we are in the habit of doing. Habits tend to keep showing up. This is not an effective strategy. We certainly can use discrimination and proper judgment, give feedback and protest actions taken by our leaders. However, unless we give conscious, mature feedback and take conscious, mature actions toward solutions we will keep manifesting situations to complain about and continue to be dissatisfied, unconsciously polarized and out of balance.

We as individuals are at different levels of maturity. I believe it is the responsibility of the more mature to help guide the less mature. We must act with conscious maturity to stop injustices or dangerous actions as we would if we were watching a child about to hurt him/herself. Just as we would not let a child run dangerously in the street or play with fire, we must speak out and do what we can to prevent and protect those who are less mature from causing irreparable damage to other humans and our planet as a whole. We must do this with balance, discrimination, and kindness. Just as a mature parent would gently guide with care and compassion rather than harshly criticize and condemn, so we must do to those less mature.

Through our thoughts and actions, we individually make our contribution to the world. The quality of the energy of any thought we cultivate or action we take creates a vibration which we personally radiate out to the world each and every moment. The state of the world is the result of the sum total of the radiance of every person on the planet. The quality of the energy we each individually radiate becomes the quality of our own individual experience and, ultimately, the quality of the energy on the planet. To quote Deepak Chopra, “Every action we take generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. We reap what we sow. When we consciously choose actions that bring peace and happiness to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.”

Contemplating a profound symbol can sometimes aid us in developing deeper understanding. The Tai Chi or more popularly called the yin/yang symbol, reminds us that it is the nature of physical manifestation to be polarized, to see one side or the other. However, the truth is in the totality, the whole circle. We can’t know darkness without the light. We can’t know right without wrong, female without male. Without the immature, we can't know our level of maturity. To be aware of this polarization is to be conscious. Without the awareness that the total picture is the truth, is to be unconsciously polarized.

We are the most conscious beings on the planet, as far as we know. It is up to all of us to look within and ask ourselves, “Am I at war with anyone?” Am I at war with another’s politics? Am I at war with another’s style? If we are condemning, criticizing and complaining, we are at war. When we replace criticism with proper judgment and understanding; condemnation with acceptance and curiosity; complaining with a sincere desire to act from a place of clarity or if appropriate, allow, “what is”, at the moment, to “be” until it is not, we are at peace.

It has become my practice to visualize “light” on myself regarding any situation with which I am dissatisfied. In my mind, this is an attempt to align myself with the truth of the situation. I cannot see the total picture and even the partial view I have is filtered through the lens of my particular conditioning. If we, at least, realize that it’s possible that we aren’t seeing the bigger picture, we are less likely to be caught in the yo-yo world of unconscious polarization. When we admit that we can’t know for sure why anything is the way it is, we open to seeing a bigger truth. Relaxing our position puts out a new kind of energy that loosens the tension between us, and that to which we are opposed. How can we expect the other to loosen their position, if we can’t?

When I envision the “Light of Alignment with Truth” regarding the disturbing circumstances, things either change or I see them from a more expanded viewpoint. It always delivers a greater degree of harmony by bringing me out of my unconscious polarized position and relaxing my mind and body so that any action I take comes from a place of clarity and maturity rather than reactivity. Not only does this feel healthy for me, it also stops me from radiating negative energy out into the world in which I am living.

As within, so without, it’s up to each of us as individuals to look into our own hearts and be honest about what and with whom we are going to war. We must become conscious of the quality of energy we are contributing at any moment. When we change ourselves from within, we change what is reflected back from the outside.

While not abandoning judgment and discrimination, we can radiate to the leaders of our country the “Light of Alignment with Truth”. We cannot know, absolutely, the TRUTH of any situation. We can only know our preferences and our intentions. If we radiate from our minds and hearts, to the minds and hearts of those in the position of leading, our intention that they be aligned with the Highest Purpose, (and we can’t know for certainty that they are not) and ask for our own understanding to expand to see the Highest Purpose for all involved, we are doing our job. We are accomplishing this according to the law of attraction, by creating a different quality of energy for those people and for ourselves. In this way, we radiate a quality of energy which enhances the condition of harmony and well-being, rather than adding to the dysfunction. Complaining and projecting are powerless ways of dealing with situations in which we want to effect change.

When I ask myself what I can do, I realize I can work on becoming more consciously aware of my own projections, radiance and vibration. I can remember that what I reap, I sow, not only for myself in my own life, but also for the entire world. I can visualize the “Light of Alignment with Truth” on myself and on those who need guidance. I can act from that place of conscious response rather than unconscious reactivity.

I feel an empowering paradigm shift, in my life when I take responsibility for my own thoughts, words and actions. It helps remind me that the quality of my thoughts, words and actions return to me in like kind and create my experience in every moment. We can each make a contribution to that paradigm shift and change the world one person at a time by vigilant and conscious awareness of the quality of thoughts we cultivate, the quality of the words we speak, the quality of our intentions and the quality of our actions. As I experience the difference in the quality of my life when I live these principles, I know this difference extends out into the world, one moment at a time.

Right Thinking
Right Speaking
Right Intention
Right Action

Monday, July 7, 2008

Nothing is Good or Bad but Thinking Makes it So!

As Shakespeare said, “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” If I may be so bold, I would like to expand upon this point. “Nothing is good or bad but believing makes it so.” What we choose to think about or focus on actually creates a vibration. This vibration is what each of us radiates into the world. That force is magnetic. But it is what we deeply believe that creates what we manifest into the world of our perception. This is a fine point but one to explore if we want to live our lives more consciously.

Our habitual thoughts constitute most of what moves through our minds. The continuous entertaining of these thoughts creates a vibration. It is this vibration which creates what we experience as the circumstances of our lives. It seems to be the other way around. That is, we think we feel a certain way because of our experiences. Situations we encounter seem to be happening to us or caused by others or larger forces. However, the truth is that it is our vibration that creates the circumstances we experience. Or, at the very least, our perception of the circumstances we experience. Often times, we are cultivating thoughts or engaging in thought patterns quite unconsciously. We are generally unaware of what’s really making us feel the way we are feeling. As a result, we feel justified in blaming the outside world when we don’t like what we are feeling. These thoughts arise in us from the conditioning, which formed early on and continues to imprint until we become conscious of it. Making a change is really not so simple until we become aware of the beliefs we have that are causing our world to seem as it is.

As painful as it can be to my ego, I love it when some aspect of my conditioning gets exposed and I become conscious of it. An example of this occurred recently as I was teaching one of my tai chi classes. My classes tend to be filled with chatter and laughter during our warm-up period until we begin our tai chi set. This particular Saturday morning was particularly chatty. As it was the day after the 4th of July, I was dealing with the aftereffects of a couple of glasses of champagne and a margarita or two. When I am compromised physically, my ego jumps on the opportunity to take control of me and whip me around a bit.

This particular morning my ego, which occasionally hops on the belief that I am not properly listened to, (as a result of my beloved dad often interrupting me in mid-sentence to say something unrelated) reared it’s unappealing head and lashed out at these delightful people who were just having a good time enjoying one another. The thoughts passed and cleared while I was doing my tai chi set, but came back later with a vengeance when my partner Steve mentioned how I had lost my cool. My mind conjured up many reasons why what I was feeling was not only accurate, but good for me to express! I knew by the feeling in my gut, that something was not quite right. But try as I might to “just feel my feelings,” the righteousness remained. So, I decided to give it some time and see what was up.

The next morning I woke up with the thought, “My class was just having a good time, laughing, loving, and enjoying themselves.” My heart softened and I realized on a feeling level that my ego was suffering from that old belief that I was not worth listening to. That little girl who felt what she had to say was not important enough for people to make space to hear was crying out.

As compassion arose for her and I gave her the ear she needed, a feeling of release and acceptance arose in me, for me and for the others. I realized that no one was trying to make me feel bad. No one ever is. We are all just doing our best trying to enjoy ourselves.

When I become conscious of the conditioning and let it dissolve by allowing the feelings to be felt just as they are without the need for them to go away, they do melt away and I am left with the more conscious belief that the most important thing we give and receive from one another, whether we are teachers or students or friends or family, is our vibration.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to explore that bit of conditioning again. It’s like peeling an onion to get to the core. Every time I become conscious of these unpleasant beliefs which cause suffering, by opening to the realization that nothing is caused by the outside world but rather by my belief about it, I become a little more at peace and a little more the master, a little less the slave to that part of me which is constructed and not real.

To me and to my students, I say: I’m sorry, forgive me, thank you,
I love you. Now chat away!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

MARSHAL THE ART OF LIFE

Socrates said, “A unexamined life is not worth living.” Introspection is key to living a fulfilled and satisfying life. Having a daily practice of tai chi, meditation, self-reflection and inquiry is, in my opinion, a great way to attain a life worth living. Tai chi, meditation, and push hands are wonderful tools, but can be hijacked by the ego without the added ingredients of self-reflection and inquiry.

I was recently reading a blog sent to me online in which a tai chi practitioner posed the question to a teacher, “Is the tai chi form enough or do we need to learn push hands?” The answer given was that if one wants the benefits gained from push hands that can’t be attained through the form alone, then yes, one needs to learn push hands. The author went on to give some of the benefits gained by practicing push hands. First, he stated that push hands gives a “softness check.” Practicing push hands helps with understanding and developing a sense of softness that if one were moving slowly and ran into a small tree sapling one would learn to melt around it rather than push it out of the way. Secondly, he stated that push hands practice helps give a sense of how good one’s root and balance, (both developed in the form), are by playing push hands. Thirdly, he stated, playing push hands is good place to test out one’s “calm,” which one is working to attain by practicing the form.

I agree with the author that push hands is beneficial in many ways including the three he stated. It’s also an opportunity to tune into another and experience intimacy. It requires undivided attention and absolute presence, which are wonderful qualities to cultivate and can be avoided by practicing only the tai chi form.

Tai chi and push hands are powerful techniques to help cultivate harmony and balance in all areas of life, a sense of flow, presence, concentration, attention, flexibility, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. They provide a wonderful way to cultivate a sense of peace and a softening into reality as it is, while it is, until it changes. Rather than opposing, pushing or pulling, we learn to “melt around,” to accept what we can’t change with grace and wisdom, knowing that all is temporary and will change in time. Tai chi and push hands are physical metaphoric practices of staying centered throughout the constant play of opposites, the movement from yin into yang and back into yin.

The real test to see if your tai chi form or your push hands practice is delivering is to look at your life. One doesn’t have to look very deeply to see if the techniques are being properly employed and integrated into the fabric of everyday life. How harmonious are your relationships with your loved ones, your friends and your family? Do you “melt around” perceived obstacles or push and pull to get your way? Does your life feel as if you are in flow, effortlessly attaining what you feel you need or are you struggling? Are you focused on what makes you joyful or do you find yourself complaining in a victim stance? Are you angry and resistant or are you soft and allowing with what you disagree? Do you dislike people who don’t see life as you do? Are you healthy? Are you happy? Are you at peace? Are you patient? Are you grateful? Are you balanced emotionally and know that life is only as you see it? Can you see that all pain is self-inflicted, that there is in fact no other, that we are, in TRUTH, all one?

These are quick tests to see how effective your practice is. If practicing is not delivering the positive qualities in your life, the form is probably not the problem. The problem is within. These wonderful techniques must be approached with a proper attitude and sincere effort must be made to truly live the principles. It’s not what we do, but how we do anything that makes the difference in our lives. As the saying goes, Attitude is everything.

Jarl Forsman 5/29/08

Friday, April 18, 2008

Successful Fiasco!

Last Sunday, our friend Anyo, Steve and I were sailing out in the bay when out of the literally beautiful blue our boat struck an underwater "historical" former pier piling! With a jolt and a (g)ripping sound, we found ourselves in the middle of what looked like a soon to be sinking boat! We were taking on water quite spurtingly. As my eyes quickly darted over to the nearby "above water" pilings looking for an escape route, I envisioned us hanging on like kuola bears waiting for a helicopter rescue team. Steve began baling water and I thought of our motor! Let's turn on the engine and motor back. Good idea. Within less than a minute, what had seemed like enough gas in our tank prior to departure was not, and we were effectively out of gas. Fortunately the wind was blowing sufficiently to send us back to our slip in just the nick of time. As soon as we stopped our forward motion though, the boat began taking on water at an even greater speed. Now that we were safe, we had to act fast to save the boat. It was going down! While Steve made several phone calls, I drove over to the Marina office and borrowed a larger pump. A neighboring boat owner came over with another. With three pumps going we were still taking on water faster than the pumps could handle. I ran over to the gas dock and filled our gas tank while Steve continued his calls for help. I ran to the marine office near our dock to see if we could get our boat lifted out of the water. "Sorry lady, all our lift drivers are gone." "What do you mean gone?" I asked. "Can't you call them and tell them it is an emergency?" I pleaded. "They're gone, he insisted, "it's Sunday evening, no one is here!" "You mean gone, as in off the planet? I asked, my ego had kicked in and I was not happy with his answers. He assured me that he had just given the names of three divers to his assistant who was on his way to our boat after talking to Steve on the phone and that was our only hope. Fifteen minutes later our diver arrived in full gear. He had been sick in bed with the flu but rose to the occasion of our emergency. Our hero! Steve had already dashed out and purchased the necessary "goo" needed to patch the tear and down under the boat with tank and all dove our diver. An hour into the endeavor to stop the leaking, the possibility seemed hopeless. It was still coming in. I made another, this time successful attempt at persuading the man in the office to give me names and phone numbers of drivers of that lift. We had to get this boat out of the water! Soon a driver was there. We put the motor back on the boat and with a full tank of gas, we tried to start the engine. It would start but it would not stay running. We realized we had put the engine down on the wrong side in our haste to get it off the boat and now the carburator was filled with oil. It was not possible to start the engine now until we cleaned out the carburator. The driver of the lift, who was charging us double time to wait while we got the engine working so we could motor over to the lift then told us he had to leave at 7 pm. We had 15 minutes. Couldn't do it. Our diver, still under water, was our only hope. Four hours later our diver Jack and Steve together devised a remedy that held! We pumped all the water out and our boat was now floating and out of danger. Anyo went home and Steve and I went out to dinner. As we were sitting in the restaurant reflecting back on the day's events, Steve looked over at me and said. "I have to say, that was kind of fun!" I grinned back at him and said, "In a weird way, it really was!" We both sat there feeling grateful and happy that we had been presented with a real life situation and handled it well. Now that's success!
About our boat, it is dry docked at the Berkeley Marina awaiting repair, new paint, and a general new look. It was about time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thank You, I Love You

I've known for some time now that Love and Gratitude are the keys to living a life in flow. They now seem to me to be the solution to most of life's problems. Two small but powerful sentences, I love you and thank you are the Ho'oponopono prayer and promise. Whenever I see anything out of alignment with my joy or another's, I use this technique. I think of the situation and then hold the mantra Thank you, I love you in my mind. Whenever the image pops back into my mind of the disharmony, I counter it with love and gratitude, I love you, thank you. This is the cleansing technique used by the now famous therapist, Dr. Hew Len, on the inmates in the Hawaii State Hospital ward of the criminally insane. He never saw any one of the inmates individually. He sat in his office and reviewed their charts. Taking 100% responsibility for having created their wrongful deeds into his field of awareness, he cleansed himself. As a result, in four years, from 1983 to 1987, the inmates who had previously been shackled and heavily drugged, were released and the ward was eventually closed. (Google Joe Vitale's story of Ho'oponopono for a more complete version of this story).

I recently attended a Ho'oponopono workshop with Dr. Hew Len in Colorado, which cemented my resolve to use this mantra 24/7. I'm finding wonderful results for which I am immensely full of love and gratitude. As Dr. Hew Len says, "It is so simple that most people won't even be interested in trying it." The mind wants to complicate everything. But as is true with most things, the simpler it is, the more powerful.

Sunday, while on a drive to Napa Valley, I received a phone call from my friend and tai chi student, Renata. "I need some help," she said. "Allison (her one year old daughter) is keeping me up all night. She never sleeps through the night and I need my sleep. Do you have any suggestions on what I might do?" "Ah," I said, "This is a job for Ho'oponopono!" I told her to mantra Thank you, I love you and that I would do the same whenever I thought about them. "Okay," she agreed, "I'll do anything!" This morning, a day and a half later, Renata called with exhilaration in her voice. "Allison slept from 9 pm to 7 am. She's never done that!" I beamed with joy. These stories are becoming a regular thing with me. I'm so grateful about that! I love you!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Attitude of Gratitude

"Desire and Gratitude can never co-exist. When you feel one desire after another, it means that you are not living with gratitude. When you live with gratitude, you can never have any desires. When you live with gratitude, whatever is given to you will simply fulfill whatever you need at that moment, that’s all. Even before you ask, you will be given, so there will be no question of asking."

Nithyandana, from his book Guaranteed Solutions.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From Revolution to Evolution

In the past 3,000 years, we have records of over 5,000 wars. Revolution is apparently not effective. Why haven’t we noticed? Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. We talk as if we desire peace and yet we continually go to war, with even war itself. It seems it is time we individually wake up and start a collective evolution, not a revolution.

Everything is energy! Our politicians are a tangible representation of our collective energy frequency. If we continue to criticize them, we send more negativity into our collective vibration and create more war. War is a creation of agitated people. Becoming agitated with the politicians does not solve the problem it exacerbates it. Instead of contributing negatively to the collective frequency by fighting with what we don’t want, we can put our concentration on what we would like to experience. What we focus on expands. What we put our attention on grows. Let’s focus on positive solutions and do something constructive rather than complaining like innocent victims, pretending as if “they” are doing it to us. We are collectively responsible for whatever is happening at any one time in history. Yet we can only change ourselves individually. If we each take responsibility for the quality of energy we are personally radiating, by focusing on what we want instead of complaining about what we’ve got that we don’t want, we are taking the most important and effective step forward in creating a world of peace. Let’s stop irresponsibly revolving in circles of insanity and start responsibly evolving toward the experience of peace and sanity.

THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE

The Universe keeps amazing me! I am continually blown away by seemingly coincidental happenings. The most recent was so cool, I just have to write about it. I must begin, though, with a bit of history.

Twelve years ago, when my former husband and I decided to separate, I was absolutely at a loss as to how to pull it off emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and financially. It wasn’t what I wanted. My parents divorced when I was a child and I tried everything to avoid going through that again. However it became increasing obvious that a separation was necessary, and I saw how my actions to keep our marriage together were coming more from ideas I was holding onto rather than from what was best for all involved. The day came when I had no choice but to surrender to a power greater than I and ask for help.

“Universe, put me where I’m suppose to be!

What followed the next few days felt like someone put me on a raft and floated me down the most amazing river. Literally, my phone rang and all the instructions I needed came in a way I had never expected, thought of, or had prior to that moment, wanted. There is one person in particular to whom I am grateful for being the "angel" the Universe came through for this amazing transition and transformation. That person happened to be a tai chi student of mine at the time. As busy lives have it, after a while, ours went on their separate ways and we have not been in contact for many years.

Larry, my former husband, with whom I share the parenting of our daughter, has remained a close friend and we have each found new mates with whom we are both very happy. My mate Steve, (whom I incidentally met through this "angel"), and I began a design business together after buying, remodeling and selling several houses over the years. Almost two years ago we joined with our friend Sallie Lang of Bliss Building to work on the interior design of a house she designed and was building as a spec house.

Sallie, a master wood worker, worked on Oracle founder, Larry Ellison’s Japanese style mansion and upon completion of that job ventured on this new project of her own. Wonderful craftsmen and artists worked on the home and Steve and I felt very honored to be a part of the team. Although there was a budget, every time we came to Sallie to show her what we could do within the budget, and then what we wanted to do, she said, “Do what you want!” It was a wonderfully satisfying and challenging project, which went a tad over budget, to say the least. As time went on during the project, it became necessary for Steve and I to invest our own money into the project. We started buying what was needed to do what we wanted, sure that the house would sell quickly and we would reap a reward on our investment.

Although the house is probably over 4 thousand square feet, it has only two bedrooms. There is a library, a spa with a sauna, six bathrooms, a large kitchen, living room, dining room, and a wonderful view, all space-out over 5 floors and hanging off the hillside. It’s not a typical house for a family. It's an art project and we were not quite sure who would buy it, but we knew it would sell to the perfect people.

Eight months went by and we were wondering where these perfect people were. Finally, one afternoon, Steve and I were in a store and we ran into the realtor for the house. Excitedly she said, “You’ll never believe who came to look at the house and is considering buying it!” When she told us we were flabbergasted. When we told her that we knew these people, she was flabbergasted.

I could hardly believe it was my "angel" of 12 years ago coming onto the scene and again saving the day. Having no idea of our involvement in the project, he and his wife Anne found the house and bought it.

That "angel" is Jerry Brown.
Thank you, Jerry

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Can We Ever Truly Be Satisfied In A Relationship?

What we truly want is to become Authentically Ourselves--to live in awareness of our True Self. To discover who we truly are is our purpose in life. The ego always wants what it doesn’t have. That’s its nature. That’s how it stays in control. It keeps us always searching for something better. Satisfaction never comes from anything outside ourselves, it starts from within and then we attract from that place satisfying experiences. We will always have issues with others until we resolve our own issues. Then and only then will we be open to truly satisfying relationships. Others irritate us only if we are expecting them to make us happy. We bring into our lives our own joy. No one gives it to us.

Everything changes moment by moment and to practice loving what is, to just accept things as we see them, begins to soften the stranglehold of the ego. What we practice is what we get. If we keep practicing being dissatisfied with others we will keep attracting others with whom to be dissatisfied. If we practice acceptance then we start to attract people who resonate with us on a deeper level--those who are easy to accept. Practicing acceptance of what is brings us into authenticity. When we begin to truly love ourselves and are not “in need” we will attract a truly satisfying relationship. Then we will know it is what we want.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Victim: Is There Really Such a Thing?

Today in my tai chi class, a conversation about victims ensued after the mention of a story of someone getting their wallet stolen. The question arose: are victim experiences so by chance or by cause? The comments started flying, “Some people have victim written all over their faces. Some people are born victims”. Another said, “I disagree with that statement.” And another asked, “What about children who are abused? It’s not their fault!” Someone questioned, “What about chance? Can’t something just happen by chance?” The conversation seemed to be getting a little heated when fortunately it was time to begin our tai chi set.

As I was doing my tai chi set, a flash of clarity came to me. To put into words what I saw was this:

Everything is energy vibrating. The quality of this vibration is determined by our thoughts. Our thoughts are determined by our conditioning. Our conditioning begins at birth or perhaps even prior to birth. These thoughts control our experience UNTIL we become consciously aware of them. When we become consciously aware of the thoughts we are cultivating, we recognize the kinds of experiences we have as a result and the choice to continue our current pattern of thinking or change it appears as a possibility. If we decide to choose new thought patterns, it can fundamentally change the way in which we experience the world. Even if our previous thinking produced chaotic, unpleasant, and victim-making vibrations, we can learn to cultivate thoughts that bring us into peace and harmony. This is how we gain mastery over our lives.

We are all created equally in the sense that we all have access to the same unlimited energy. We are energy! Our thoughts are the creative substance that produce how and what this energy manifests. What we may call chance is our unconscious, habitual vibration creating what appears as our reality. The ego is the part of us who lives in the world of duality, polarities such as right and wrong, good and bad. Our feelings are just sensations. Our mind labeling them is what causes our suffering. We are so addicted to feeling good or not feeling bad that our tolerance level for experiencing physically uncomfortable feelings is very low. When we realize that nothing ever stays the same, these feelings, if actually felt rather than masked, repressed or turned into stories, will transform too. By consciously feeling our sensations as a practice, our tolerance level is heightened. This transformation brings us out from under the control polarity has on us and we move into greater authenticity and self-mastery. The seesaw emotional experiences of the ego that we are all so addicted to, pales in comparison to the joyfully balanced experience of the authentic self. Once a glimpse of the world of authenticity has been felt, the world of polarity begins to lose it's appeal.

When we practice seeing things as neutral, we are more likely to have the truth revealed to us. We can see that our energetic vibration has put us in the precise situation in which we find ourselves. If we have the clarity to view our situation in this manner, then whatever is happening can be seen as a gift to give us feedback. This is a very powerful realization.

When we accept the responsibility to diligently watch our thinking, we begin to find the link between our experience and our thought habits. This is very freeing and has nothing to do with blame or fault. After we learned to walk, we didn’t blame ourselves for not learning sooner. In the same vein, we shouldn’t blame ourselves for creating situations we didn’t realize we were creating until we became conscious. If we drop the judgments and look at new awareness as a gift then we can move from the victim mode into the flow that is created by conscious choice.

I recently read a book called "The Presence Process" by Michael Brown who had a tremendously painful neurological condition for almost 10 years. In this time, he searched virtually every conventional and alternative medicinal method of relief he could find. After finding no relief, he embarked on a quest to heal himself. He says,

“As a consequence of experimenting on myself with different physical, mental and emotional procedures, I discovered that if I maintained what I then called “a high personal energy frequency”, I could substantially lessen the levels and occurrences of the pain that I was experiencing. This discovery was the first whispering of what I now know to be my level of “present moment awareness.”

Being able to commune with my own Inner Presence during the course of those experiences was akin to being introduced to the most precious part of my Being that had until then been obscured by the endless distractions of my outer life… During that experience, I was, metaphorically, able to step through a veil. On the other side, I witnessed how all life is connected by the same intimate, intelligent Presence. I saw how the true luminous beauty of the natural world of this planet remains hidden from us because of our preoccupation with time… In that moment, I also became aware that my own painful condition was a result of my body doing everything in its power to call me back from where I had unconsciously scattered and attached my attention to the illusory web of time. In that state of consciousness, the pain did not reveal itself as my enemy but as my friend and facilitator, obediently calling me to return to the Now of my life experience…Consequently, I accepted that the greatest journey that I could undertake was to find a way to navigate my experience towards achieving an ongoing state of 100% present moment awareness in my own life.”

We can accept this as a great journey and sincerely make the effort to become consciously aware of the effect habitual patterns of thought have on our lives. We will then find that there is no place for blame, shame or guilt. What we do find is an enlivening sense of personal power, authenticity, freedom and gratitude.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Time For A Paradigm Shift in Consciousness. (Your Ego Won't Like This!)

It’s natural and common to have opinions and personal thoughts about everything going on and also natural to express our thoughts and opinions about everything occurring. It’s what defines us as individuals. Our egos need to do it. The problem lies in our belief in these thoughts and opinions as TRUTH. When we practice questioning our own opinions we begin to see the cost these beliefs have on us individually and as a whole. We are so caught up in our opinions and views of reality that we don’t see how limiting they are, how harmful they are, or how really unpleasant our judgments make our lives. We are truly living in a self created illusion.

We will judge anything and everything. We think this judgment is harmless. It’s not. Any time we criticize anything from a dance performance to human atrocities we suffer from it whether we realize it or not. We suffer because what we focus on expands. What we give energy to increases and is fueled by the quality of energy we are giving it. When we casually or passionately complain about the horrible things going on in the world in an attempt to express concern, effect change and educate others, we actually add more energy to and fuel what we are complaining about. I’m not saying we should never discuss situations or conditions that we would like to see change. I am saying, if we want to see something different, then focusing on the solution; visualizing, praying or doing anything that gives energy to what we would like to see rather than to the problem is the only way to effect change. We usually stop considerably short of solutions. The fact is, we love to complain! It’s what makes us feel important, smart, superior and right.

Something as simple and seemingly innocuous as criticizing a performance has it’s negative impact on the one doing the criticizing. I was listening to a group of people discussing a ballet I was scheduled to attend that same day. The comments ran something like this: “I didn’t think the two styles of dance fit together well.” Another said, “I wish the ballet would have been performed in a more classical style.” Later while I was actually watching the performance those comments I'd heard flashed through my mind. A laugh bubbled up. The dancers were doing truly amazing physical feats that the average person cannot do. I thought, how could anyone have found fault or wanted this to be any different. This performance delighted every part of me. Maybe I’m not as discriminating, but I’d certainly rather come away feeling delighted than disappointed. I realized the cost of that critical little voice inside us all that just loves to lessen our joy by asserting itself and claiming things aren't as good as they could be.

Until we begin to question our beliefs and opinions to see where they are coming from, we don’t even know we are being hijacked. We think our opinions and thoughts are valid, they are who we are. We can be so righteous and proud of these thoughts and opinions and dislike those who don’t share similar ones. In the name of trying to save the world or stop the war, we do more damage by our incessant rants and negative focus. I’m all for changing our patterns and habits to tread more lightly on our planet. I’m all for wars ending forever! But let’s not be fooled by our egos. The wars are happening inside our heads all the time, especially when we are talking about how horrible the wars are. We go to war with war. How can that help? It’s like hitting a child for hitting. The child may stop temporarily, but we are not teaching the child another way. The way to effect change is not in polarized, political warfare. Whenever an issue becomes politicized, we can bet it has been hijacked by the ego and we are most likely not going to come up with a solution because our pride is too attached to winning our way. Solutions are rarely even mentioned. We can’t ever really know why anything is happening or what anything really means in the Big Picture. We only know our opinions. It becomes a self-righteous game to give us each a stronger identity. We get so fooled by this game we are playing!

I have to admit here that my not so little, critical voice has definitely had its prominent place in me. I have suffered something fierce in the past as a result of believing my nasty judgments, opinions, complaints and viewpoints. Relationships have suffered, I’ve held myself back from doing things I would have loved to do out of fear of not doing it well enough. This critical voice has affected every part of my life in a restricting, harmful way, until I became aware of it.

Over the last 11 years, doing Byron Katie’s “Work” on issues that arise in my life that cause even the slightest bit of suffering, and through my discovery of the ancient Huna cleansing technique called Ho’oponopono, I have experienced an oh so gradual, but noticeable release of attachment to my thoughts, opinions and identifications. The feeling is a more accepting and enjoyable experience of whatever is occurring in my field of awareness and a more powerful, freeing feeling of being able to do something positive in any moment that fear, frustration, judgment or anxiety arises. I’m not as hijacked by my ego as I used to be and much more joyful. If I see something out of alignment with harmony occurring in my field of awareness, whether it be a slight irritation or something heart-wrenching, I question it, surrender to it or ask to be brought into alignment with TRUTH. We are living in a polarized world where the truth lie not in one side or the other, but the whole. We usually see only from our polarized point of view rather than from the vantage point of the Big Picture.

Now I find it almost painful to listen to complaints or judgments. I know so well what it does to me when I let the voice have its way with me. When I hear anyone complaining about the president, the war, the conditions in the world, in prisons, in schools, the violence on tv and in movies, the list can and does go on and on, I pull out one of my tools. I do the Ho’oponopono technique on the situation immediately. When I find myself judging another, I do the Byron Katie Work on my judgment. It is an immediate way to free myself from the damage this negative energy does to me and to the world at large. It makes me feel I am doing something positive rather than adding to the problem. I’m not batting 100% yet, but each time I catch that voice and turn my complaint either around or into looking toward a solution, I become a little bit more self aware and it gets a little easier to keep that critical voice in its place. It requires a paradigm shift.