From Pain

Time To Come Home & Sept. Offerings

Image: Happy sunWell here we are at the height of summer, heat and all, receiving a rare, intense treat – a Blue, Full Moon – and I’m hoping you’re fully experiencing the yin and the yang of it all. Remember long, hot summer nights when you were a kid? Perhaps if you’re like me, and you played hard outside until the sun had set and the mosquitoes were torturous. Perhaps your mom or dad called you in, and in you went; reluctantly, loudly complaining. But once you brought your sweaty little self inside, you gratefully gave in to that delicious tiredness that comes from fully experiencing the heightened delights of summer!

That little kid in us is still alive, you know. She or he still feels exquisite joy, great excitement, terrifying fear, pain, and deep sadness at times. Kids feel intensely and somehow many of us have done our best for years to subdue that natural intensity. Guess what? Much of it is trapped within, snuffing down the pleasure as well as the pain. When we go “inside” – that is, internally – we can heal and release it.

It’s time to come home to our authentic essence – to that inner kid, and to the comfort and peace of what is eternal and essentially within. As a world community, we’re exhausted from the frantic “doingness” that’s gone on for centuries—building, conquering, consuming, fighting, searching, and struggling in general. We’ve spent years pursuing pleasure, security, knowledge, and success. We’ve been looking externally for all these things – and now, on a global scale, it’s time to come home to our internal world to truly manifest the happiness we desire.

Most of us come home kicking and screaming on some level. We call that “resistance.” We want what we think we want….yes, the ego likes to have it’s own way. Think of a four year old’s tantrum who can’t have ice cream when she wants it; for that’s how the ego/mind often responds to life. The ego kicks up a lot of noise, confusion, conflict, and suffering. What’s on the other side of all that drama is simply peace, acceptance, and joy, our natural, internal birthright.

Even as we’re immersed in the incredible beauty and power of the natural world at this time of year, the wise, Inner Self knows that as autumn comes delicately approaching, we’ll be gently slowing down to reap the harvest of all this summer’s intensity. As long as a summer day and night is, that’s how inevitable is the time to look ahead to taking a breath and harvesting the abundant wisdom of this year.

So in that spirit of opportunity for growth, peace, and expansion, here are a couple of upcoming events to harvest the inner gold that awaits our attention. If you’re in the Chicago area or would like to visit, think about attending these special offerings in September:

journeycircleandmeditationSHAMANIC JOURNEY CIRCLE, Sat., Sept. 19th, 1-7pm in gorgeous Downers Grove, IL. We’ll be doing shamanic ceremony, drumming, and journeying (both indoors and outdoors) to connect with inner guidance and healing. The theme of this event will be moving through inner conflict and conditioning to find the Oneness Within; particularly focusing on balancing the feminine and masculine within each of us.   I’ll be leading it with Frank Panek on the sacred land and center he and his wife Kristin own – the land has significant Native American energy and their center is home to a powerful Oneness Sacred Chambers. There’s an early bird discount if you register by Sept. 1: $90 per person. If you come in from out of town, there are hotels nearby. See more info here or contact me at paula@fromtheheartcenter.com.

Image: Soul of a womanONENESS AWAKENING COURSE, Friday, Sept. 11, 6:30pm – 10pm and Saturday, Sept. 12, 9:30am -8pm in Deerfield, IL. BECOME A ONENESS BLESSING GIVER! What would your life be if you moved into fully living, enhancing all aspects of your life – health, wealth, relationships, purpose, talents and abilities? Come join us for that opportunity to come fully alive to your essence, and to transform your consciousness, release emotional triggers in the body, and become initiated to give the gift of Oneness Deeksha to yourself and others. There’s an early bird discount if you register by August 15 – $210. I’ll be leading this with two other Certified Oneness Trainers, Savita-Laura Jachim and Andrea Loxley. Space is limited so register now by contacting Savita at laurasavita@icloud.com . See more info here or contact me at paula@fromtheheartcenter.com.

FreeMeditationLogoMEDITATION & ONENESS DEEKSHA FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH A CANCER DIAGNOSIS, 1st & 3rd Monday nights of each month from Sept. 21 – Dec. 21, 2015, 7-8:30pm, in Evanston, IL. A diagnosis of cancer can bring with it both unique stress and also a powerful opportunity for personal growth, This special drop-in group offers a safe place for renewal with relaxation, inner peace, clarity, and transformation through various types of meditation and receiving the Oneness Blessing (Deeksha). FREE! Sponsored by the Heartwood Foundation WCP. No experience necessary – open to women and men living with or recovering from cancer. I’ll be leading it with Liz Brumfield, MD, Holistic Psychiatrist. For more information, look here and please contact paula@fromtheheartcenter.com

Radio interviews now available for listening
Radio interviews now available for listening

By the way, I posted two new radio interviews I did recently about my new book, The Oneness Blessing, which I’m happy to say, has been getting great reviews! (check out what readers say on amazon.com).

To hear a fun interview on the show Paranormal Underground on June 25, click here. To hear my interview by award-winning author Debbbi Dachinger on her show Dare To Dream, listen here. In this interview I also talked about the shamanic healing work I do.

Happy growing in the summer sunshine! Wishing for all inner transformation and external abundance, joy, and fulfillment!

Blessings,

Paula

 

 

A Valentine for Zeke

Zeke (left) and Ozzie enjoying love and warmth by the heating vent.
Zeke (left) and Ozzie enjoying love and warmth by the heating vent.

The infamous Hallmark holiday that some of us like more than others has rolled around once again.  I’d like to rename it Love’s Day.  Perhaps that would de-emphasize making it all about your main squeeze (giving some relief to those who don’t have a romantic partner) and put the emphasis on that mysterious, universal force we call love.

In my humble opinion, love is so much larger than we’re taught. Yes, it’s fantastically kind, compassionate, forgiving, and eternal. But it often comes cloaked in an unfamiliar coat sometimes. Sometimes it’s wearing a bad relationship, a disease, a natural disaster, an addiction, or the loss of a loved one. Love is both the loved one and the loss. Love is both the disease and the healing. Love is both the addiction and the growth it asks. Love is both the coat and the love underneath.

Our culture teaches that anything uncomfortable, painful, or even horrific is not good. Many people, in fact, struggle with faith in the goodness of life when facing these things – and understandably so.  But what if we were taught that everything is good? What if we could see that within each negative situation there was a core of goodness and love…. that love had been there all the time, in fact, just waiting to be seen when the time was right?

Those moments of awareness of pure love are incredibly sweet and should be cherished. The path of love, though, is filled with both the light and the dark times. I’m sure that couples like my parents, who’ve been married for 66 years, would agree that despite the ups and downs, love has been present all along.  This is love’s truly mysterious, powerful, enduringly infinite nature.

My dear kitty Zeke, who just passed into the Light yesterday, has been one of my biggest teachers about love. He was complicated, as my daughter has rightly said. He was big and wore a glistening coat of dark fur, which always contrasted with our other cat Ozzie, who is tiny and silver white.  Zeke was strong willed (unlike compliant Ozzie), stubborn, and quite brooding by nature. He was a master of Jedi mind-control and usually only let himself be petted when he felt like it. Whenever he had to be picked up, he struggled wildly while wheedling impressive claws. He was a powerful force who also had the most luminous, expressive eyes in the cat kingdom. He could forgive like nobody’s business, and when he was in the mood for love, he gave it lavishly.

Zeke brought out both the best in me as well as the worst. He was an incredible mirror who reflected to me where I needed to grow in patience, commitment, courage and, at times, compassion. Our relationship was often a power struggle. As his kidneys began to fail and he approached the end of his life, though, I was the one who finally surrendered…. and what a deep blessing that’s been. All the qualities of love he taught me were available for our relationship. He slipped away into peace, loved up by me, my daughter, and Ozzie.

Thank you beautiful Zeke, and thank you to all of you for being my valentines. Without you, I might never grow. The mirror that relationships provide is the gift that truly keeps on giving. Relationships, marked by challenges and filled with sweetness and light, are the biggest blessings we can ever experience. Without relationships, how would we experience the true nature of love?

 

New Year’s Resolution: Giving Up Resistance

I did a radical thing yesterday; I cancelled my cable television and Tivo service. I needed to do something to dramatically shake up the entrenched viewing habits I’d acquired while writing a book these past six months.

If you know me, you probably heard that I’ve been purposely living a pretty cave-like existence in order to meet a publisher’s strict deadline. I worked long hours, over many months, refraining from much socializing and consciously limiting distractions. I got into a work routine that typically allowed relaxing only late at night with just a few friends: primarily Oprah, the Channel 7 news teams, and the wildly entertaining cast of Dancing With The Stars. Thanks to Tivo, I was never at the mercy of prime-time television schedules, but I’d begun to forget what real, interactive fun feels like. I got lonely at times, but I also realized I can be quite solitary and be just fine…for a while.

Like most things in life, timing is always perfect, though not always comfortable. Thankfully, the book is terrific (as you’ll find out when you read it) and it will be heading toward the publisher’s office in just a few days. I’m almost feeling free again and can’t wait to get out of my apartment and spend time relaxing with real live people! My constantly hovering cats and I really got to know each other too well, if you can imagine what I mean!

I’ve come to the end of one adventure and the beginning of a whole new phase — right along with a brand new year. 2014 was a year of intense change and transformation for many of us. There’s so much global change going on now. We know that transformation is not necessarily easy or comfortable. It’s human to try to escape at times; most of us also try to fully experience the “what is” of the moment as best we can. But for many of us, we’re in a constant state of low-level resistance and denial of the unpleasant aspects of what’s going on. We’re really not experiencing the “what is” very much at all and much more like unconscious resistance “machines.”

When an experience or phase of life is completed, can you feel satisfied with the ending of what was and fully let it go? Or do you resist endings too? Many of us struggle with that. Do you hang on to the past, re-living it in your mind or secretly hoping for a different outcome? All of these mental acrobatics prevent us humans from simply being with “what is.” If we just let go of our resistance to reality, we can much more comfortably embrace the exciting unknown of what is now. When we stop resisting, we’re in the flow, which is a natural state of joy, lightness, and inner freedom.

I’m finding that as I’m going through transformational experiences, it’s helpful to consciously intend to open to change. Change can feel downright scary. Releasing habits, friendships, jobs, or old ways of being can cause ripples of fear and resistance to change. The only solution is to face our fear head-on. That fear lives deep within each of us, among many other buried emotions, though they’re all often held unconsciously.

If you look within, you’ll see feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, and frustration living in your body as muscular tightness and pain, shallow breathing, inner conflict, headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, judgment, depression, apathy, or the desire to distract or numb oneself with substances or activities (just as I did with television watching for a while.) All of the things we do may temporarily help us cope with the uncomfortable feelings….until they just don’t work anymore. We can run from fully experiencing our feelings, but we can’t hide forever.

The question is, can we consciously and courageously let buried feelings express and move through us? Yes! When we feel our feelings fully, they energetically move, lift, and leave us light and unburdened. With the release of energy blockages due to stuffed feelings, comes clarity. We come to see that change is the absolute, fundamental nature of all life and ultimately, resistance is not only futile, but quite destructive to health and happiness.

Experiencing the emotions brought on by change can free us. We can observe our life and choose a new direction when we’re ready (or at least a little willing) to let go of what was. We can experience fear and move through it. We are not our fear.

Who are we then? After or during a period of intense change, it pays to stop and just entertain that question for a while. It’s good to pause, and allow the essential you to breathe in the stillness; to let go of resistance and thus allow life to flow through you. Don’t try to force an answer or slap on a pretty bow. Just be with what’s there. Become aware of resistance. You might find that layers of unpleasant feelings have been stuffed down, needing to be experienced and released.

We don’t need a big “dark night of the soul” to feel the fear of not being sure of who we are anymore, where we’re going, or what our purpose is, – unsettled feelings are so often lurking just below the surface of consciousness in times of heightened change, even good change. We can just hang out with our evolving beingness (as in meditation) and we’ll experience all the “gook”we try hard not to see. Looking inward, breathing deeply, experiencing what’s there and relaxing into it … that’s all we need do to keep ourselves flowing.

It’s natural to possibly feel frightened and perhaps overwhelmed at times with the vulnerability of the undefined, unpredictable, and basically empty/full nature of the Self. That vulnerability is probably why the mind resists feeling so much. That’s why our egos have us trying so hard to be perfect and to feel in control. That’s a good reason to meditate or get some coaching, healing, or help – to move through the machinations of the fearful, controlling, distorting mind that prevents inner peace.

I was in an uneasy place these past few weeks, as the writing of the book was winding down. Like a baby in the womb, the book had grown within my care, and then suddenly passed through me, fully birthed, and leaving this body to the essential stillness that was there all along. I evidently felt an unconscious loss and tried to avoid feeling that for a while….I’m human. But running from feelings never works (how well I know that!) and I asked my Divine for help when I became aware that something was off kilter.

Besides the guidance to shut down t.v., I was Divinely reminded of a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver that movingly speaks to letting go, to self-acceptance, to knowing our natural connection to all life – and to allowing life to live through us, as it always does. The poem is called “Wild Geese” and begins like this:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

You might want to “google” the whole poem; I find it a gentle, healing experience to read it. Like much beloved art, poetry speaks to my heart, reminding me of what I already know. I love that phrase she uses, “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” It’s a gorgeous message to simply allow your primal, instinctual and authentic Self to just shine. It knows what to do. It knows what it loves and needs. It connects you to all life; it allows life to live through you. There’s nothing to figure out with the mind. In fact, we can’t figure out this mysterious thing called life. We are simply one with it and can experience it through the primal senses. We can trust that everything is perfectly moving us toward love and goodness...we can relax, let go, and allow something greater than our minds run the show. So will you join me in giving up resistance for 2015?

I wish for you a sense of safety, love and goodness, no matter what is expressing in your life right now. May you know you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. May your holidays and every day of the year be filled with the blessings of grace. May your consciousness transform your life. May you allow life to flow through you as love.

Spiritual Flexibility

One of the qualities I appreciate most in life is flexibility. The word implies, for me, a give and take, a responding to, sort of “dancing” or engaging with life, as opposed to running on rigid self-will.

As we go through life, not only does the body lose its youthful flexibility (unless you’re doing serious yoga!), but we see inflexibility showing up on the mental and emotional levels too. True confession: Few things bug me more than bumping up against someone’s willful stubbornness – which clearly indicates that I struggle with my own stubborn, emotional and mental inflexibility at times, which I do. Remember, what we reject in others is a projection of what we reject in our self.

On a regular basis, some part of me digs in and refuses to go with the flow of reality. Sometimes, some part of me doesn’t want to let go of old dreams that didn’t work out. Or my mind reruns a “story” over and over, as if that could make it turn out differently.  At times, I notice myself not wanting to let go of old strategies that once worked, but no longer fit. Or, I may internally insist someone be who I want them to be, rather than just accepting that person as he or she is.  These are all aspects of rejecting “what is, ” as opposed to engaging with it.

To go with the flow of experiences and changes that life continually offers us is to have spiritual flexibility. It is a flexibility of the spirit to adapt to life, to change, to loss, and to evolution itself.

Another word for inflexibility might be resistance, and resistance shows up everywhere! We are resistant to change because we fear it. We fear it because we have suffered a lot of pain in the past, and we base the future on that. We don’t want to feel scared, hurt, abandoned, or alone – which we may have felt as a child.

Ironically, it is our resistance to the flow of life and change that puts us out of alignment with Divine Intelligence (or God, or our Higher Power – whatever you choose to call it.)  When we are not aligned with Source, we feel alone, confused, and perhaps abandoned…the very feelings we were hoping to avoid.  There is peace, connection, and grace with acceptance.

As a shamanic practitioner, my work is to allow the Divine to move through me in order to bring back the soul parts of people who resist a traumatic experience.  With trauma, this soul loss can happen as a survival mechanism.  Reality is spiritually resisted in order to emotionally survive it. This happens to people and animals.  A part of their soul had to say a big “no” to experiencing that amount of pain or hurt, so the part takes off to another reality (shamanism calls it “non-ordinary reality”). Psychiatrists call the phenomenon “disassociation.”  It creates a kind of emotional numbness. It adds to that sense of isolation.  It can barricade the spiritual heart behind a thick wall.

The soul loss, in a sense, served survival successfully at the time of the trauma. After all, the psyche can only take so much and people do what they have to in order to survive. But when trauma ends, a soul part often can’t return on its own volition. The soul part become stuck in non-ordinary reality; stuck in the initially life-saving act of resistance. Ultimately, however, to spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically thrive, we need as much of our spirit as possible to move forward. We need our wholeness in order to keep evolving, to stay flexible, vulnerable, connected, and responsive – to say “yes” to life and the changes it requires of us.

Shamans actually work with the spiritual resistance of deceased people as well as live ones. Sometimes when a death is sudden or traumatic (like a car accident), or if a person doesn’t want to leave behind loved ones, that soul is also stuck in non-ordinary reality; it’s unable to fully transition to Source, where it can evolve. That might also occur if the deceased person was not able to have a peaceful death in which relationship grievances were healed, inner conflicts were resolved, and death was accepted.

This type of shamanic work is called psychopomp. I’ve done it many times for the deceased parents, relatives, friends, or partners of my clients. Often, the symptom of a need for psychopomp is “stuckness,” on some level, in the clients seeking my help. Because we are all connected in love, when someone we are close to dies in that way, we are spiritually affected as well. We may still be resisting their death or in conflict in relation to them, on some level.

In the Oneness Blessing teachings, as well as shamanism, we are taught the importance of liberating our ancestors; of helping them fully merge with the Light. If you are feeling stuck in some area of your life, you might ask yourself if a deceased relative or loved one may need “lifting up.” Or if not an ancestor, perhaps some part of your own spirit needs to be lifted and your heart’s flexibility to be liberated. I think you might intuitively get an answer if you turn within.  If you need assistance, perhaps I can be of help.

 

 

 

COURAGE!

As expressed in A Course Of Miracles, the only thing that’s real is love.  The rest, basically, is fear. The emotional roller coaster we ride daily amounts to reactions to the illusions we project onto life, which are based on the skewed perceptions of our survival-obsessed minds.  Given that most of us get so bogged down in the fearful thoughts and feelings generated by our judgmental minds, how can we wade through the thick muck of fear and egocentricity to get to the love part?

In my own travels along the spiritual path, I recently hit a hugely dark and ominous cavern, smack dab in the middle of a steep and narrow trail to happiness.  When I first encountered it, I shuddered in fear and repulsion.  I realized that it had been there for decades, or maybe centuries, but I wasn’t ready to see it before.

Now, there would be no way to avoid it if I wanted to claim my natural state of authentic joy.  After years of diligently slugging along the winding road of transformation, Divine Grace brought me here, and despite the challenge of staring down the darkness inside, I knew this opportunity was a huge gift.  

The gift came along with the possibility of actually achieving a long-held dream.  This is how it happens, sometimes.  We may be on the brink of getting something we long for, or maybe we’re standing right in it, but we need to grow in order to fully receive it.  Maybe our heart needs to be cranked open a little further so we can hold the big bundle of happiness that the universe is offering.

If left unchallenged, our minds may find a way to sabotage our happiness. The mind is typically hell-bent on clinging to it’s comfortable level of victimization.  Don’t underestimate the power of the mind to create problems, illnesses, miscommunications, addictions, and other obstacles to happiness!

So after staring into this black hole for a few weeks (nervously dancing around its edges, and then retreating), and after finally accepting that there was no means to get around it, I prayed deeply to the Divine for the courage to move through it.  I sucked in some air, prepared to dive head-first, and walked to its edge.

Looking in, my stomach lurched.  I could feel terror and loneliness emanating from its smoky epicenter.  I prayed for courage and then jumped in.  I felt the darkness rise up into my throat and I stayed with it the sensation of being choked.  To my relief, the discomfort of some unconscious childhood or past-life wounding moved through me in a matter of minutes.  And then there was nothing left but peace.

Who knows what it was, but I can tell you it was really primal.  I’m happy to report that my Divine came through for me, of course, and that particular black hole evaporated like the desert illusion it was.  There may be more black holes to traverse, but having vanquished this one, I’m celebrating now.

And that’s how it goes when we need to look at the unconscious, ancient terror of being alone, separate from Source, unloved, and unlovable – which the collective mind tries, with all its might, to suppress.  

The “what is” of life is really love, but to live in it, we have to breathe our way, and  feel our way, through the illusions.  We need to embrace the trapped emotions in our bodies.  We need Grace to do that, so I urge you to call on your Divine for help with this. 

I use my tools of prayer, meditation, shamanic journeying, and, especially because it is a fast shortcut, Oneness Blessings,  and the teachings of Oneness, to move closer and through inner darkness.  I find the courage to transform so that I can be happy, so I can lighten the world with radiance, and because there is really no other way to make this world heaven on earth.  

Peace and love,

Paula

Meeting the Divine In Meditation

Depending on the tradition, there are a number of ways to practice mindfulness meditation.    One style of mindfulness meditation that I like asks us to keep our attention on our nostrils, the place where breath flows in and out.   In a previous post, I outlined the simple steps for doing this type of meditation.

Why focus on the nostrils?  One of the reasons is because that is the place where we can be very fully present to the moment, for life requires breath, and to be aware of breathing in and out is to be aware of life occurring right here, right now.

The place where the breath goes in and out of our bodies, at the nostrils, is so taken for granted, but what a sacred spot that is!   Of course, our entire body is a sacred and mysterious temple, but this one little spot is where we can consciously intersect with the present moment, bridging the gap between what is seen and what is unseen, the manifest (our bodies) and the un-manifest (the Divine).

When we remain steadfast in our determination to focus on the breath at the nostrils, the practice becomes like a “home base.”  Each time our concentration is led astray by the wild thoughts constantly generated by the mind, we can gently return our concentration “home,” back to the infinite harbor of the present moment.

For it is in the present moment that we experience freedom.  It is in the present moment where we meet the What Is.  It is in the What Is that we come to know the divine nature of our consciousness.

What an adventure to hang out with the What Is!  In the space of your meditation practice, it is a quietly thrilling ride that is unique each and every time you sit down to meditate.   Its nature, while eternal, is also infinitely unfolding, infinitely creative.  It is your consciousness.  It is the One consciousness.  It is alive.  It is bliss.

Do some of you think meditation is boring?  Stay with the practice!  It is a practice that develops and deepens with repeated use.  I recommend creating a new habit of meditation.  Choose a regular time of the day to do it.  Start with as little as 10 minutes and expand from there.  Set a timer, focus on your breathing at the nostrils, and allow whatever happens to happen.  Let go of judgment.  Be curious, and as you notice your focus straying, gather up those wild and random thoughts and bring them home.

 

One more suggestion:  Perhaps begin your meditation session with a prayer or intention.  Call on a power greater than yourself to meet up with you in your breath and ask It to reveal Itself to you.  Then let go and allow the What Is to be present.

   

I would love to hear your thoughts or questions if you care to share them here.  Our sharing and questions help us all to learn from one another.

Wishing you great adventures in consciousness.  By the way, you’ve probably heard that the “veils” between dimensions are thin around the time of Halloween.  So take advantage and be a fearless explorer of your own inner dimensions.  Inner worlds yet unseen await!

Love,

Paula

 

 

Have a meditation break!

With all the research out now about the huge physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits from meditation, are you doing it every day? Meditation relieves stress, clarifies your thinking, changes your brain, helps to deal with pain, possibly lowers blood pressure, and can deeply impact your spiritual development.

I generally do some form of meditation once or twice a  day.  Here’s a very easy form of mindfulness meditation* that can be done, anytime, anywhere, even at your desk in the midst of a busy work day (one of the best times to take a short meditation break!).  No need for incense or special music:

 

 

  1. Sit up straight in your chair, with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. Close your eyes.
  2. Focus on your breathing, taking slow, deep breaths, and exhaling fully. Place your attention right at the tip of your nose, at your nostrils, where the air comes in and goes out.
  3. As you focus on your breathing, count each inhale and each exhale, counting from 1 to 10, and then from 10 to 1. In other words, first inhale is “1”, exhale is “2,” next inhale in is “3,” exhale is “4”, and so on, up to “10.” Then count inhales and exhales in reverse, from 10 to 1.*
  4. Repeat step 3, and watch your breaths begin to become softer, and seem to merge.
  5. Stop counting after two rounds, but continue gently breathing, noticing your belly and chest rising and falling with each breath.
  6. If your mind becomes distracted, as it will, just notice that you’ve become distracted and return to focusing on your breath.  This is what the mind does – it is unruly and will take us into the past, the future, or into a daydream.  With practice, you will train this wild beast!
  7. Keep focusing on your breathing in this way for 5 or 10 minutes, or as long a time as you have. See if you can work it up to 20 – 30 minutes every day.
  8. Enjoy the refreshing calmness you feel after meditating!  You may notice how your life begins to flow easier, how you get to know yourself much better and have spontaneous insights, and how your compassion for the struggles of others begin to grow!

* Meditation counting technique taken from the wonderful book Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana.

 

 

cruel month

Once in a while, my English literature bachelors degree rears its mighty head, and I’ll think of a line from the poetry I love so much. What’s coming up for me now is a few lines from T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. He wrote in 1919:

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”...

Yes, the month of April is once again upon us, a bittersweet month for its one last chance to both let go of what is passed and dead, and, at the same time, welcome the renewed stirrings of our heart’s desires.   The dead growth of winter becomes washed clean by rains of rebirth — but maybe not without some pain and grieving for what was.

It’s been about 6 weeks since my shift in consciousness, and the awareness of “reality” just keeps getting stronger and stronger. No longer bound by the illusions of who I thought I was, instead, there is mainly the reality of what exists right now. Any self-delusion covering up defensiveness and projection, any excuses or judgments masquerading as victimization and projection – the gauzy layers of these illusions are getting peeled back. And as I partake in reality as never before, my heart both breaks and bursts with the fullness of this thing called life.

Seeing the choices made in previous years, the suffering that ensued, the helplessness over those choices, and yet, the Divine Hand in it all – that is the stuff of awakening and the mysterious paradox of the birth/death cycle that holds us tenderly in its grip while we have our human experience.

Like the month of April, this seeing of the paradoxes of reality is both cruel and sweet. Ultimately, the evolution of consciousness promises a synthesis of the grand illusion of duality – a rebirth, free of illusions, in which we are living in a state of bliss with an experience of Oneness. With grace, we experience the illusions of duality dying and we surrender to the letting go process that delivers us into joy.

So, letting go in order to be reborn….a timeless theme of religion, literature, nature, life.  Since I’ve been back from India, I’ve been sharing my story of embracing helplessness and the necessity of surrender in order to receive the grace of the Divine. A number of people have expressed their fear about this process…. inspiring a reminder for all of us that a crucial step in the shift from fear to surrender is cultivating faith and trust.   Without faith and trust, our minds fear we will be eaten alive by pain. Our minds feel responsible for protecting us from pain – that’s the job of the mind and it works very hard at this task.

But how do you make the leap to faith and trust when you are caught in the grip of the mind, that lifeless terrain of fear? How do the lilacs get bred from the dead land in which they grow?

The answer is: The sun shines, the earth rotates, the moon and stars revolve, and weather cycles change.   Our mind can’t coerce the shift of faith to happen even as we can’t control the shining of the sun. Like the natural laws of astronomy, physics and math, faith happens naturally, but by a higher power than our mind. If you willingly open your eyes to see it, if you become conscious of a greater truth at play, then you set the stage for the natural event of grace to swoop in and transform your perceptions from fear to faith.

By observing and experiencing the phenomenon of grace in your life, the trust happens and the faith grows.   So, it’s merely about showing up and seeing what there is to see and feeling what there is to feel..

So you may be wondering, what does “showing up” involve? I can only speak from my own experience of showing up, and for me, it involves a couple of things:

One thing I’ve learned to do is to pay attention to my pain with the intention of fully experiencing it, fully seeing what it is.   By not running from the pain, by embracing its physical and emotional experience so I can know it consciously, it inevitably leads to transcendence from its limiting grip.

Pain has driven me to seek awakening. Pain has motivated me to find better ways to relate to loved ones. Pain has led me to stop projecting my judgments and blame on others and to see the truth of my own crazy beliefs.   Pain has been the number one reason my Divine has answered my calls of help. Pain is my Divine’s magical seed, implanted in me so that I can spend a lifetime searching for the bliss my heart desires.

If I were to have kept running from pain using the various coping mechanisms I have explored at various times (smoking, drinking, over-eating, over-working, blaming, resisting, hiding, lying to myself, trying to fix others, etc.), I would have still hit a bottom at some point and would have had to ultimately experience surrender.   In truth, I’ve hit numerous bottoms and I’ve learned, and continue to learn, to surrender over and over again.

The other thing I’ve done to “show up” is to seek conscious contact with my Divine. I’ve spent years doing shamanic journeying to connect with the Divine, years meditating, praying, serving, energetically clearing, and experiencing the Divine through all its beautiful forms, such as art, music, nature, poetry, love, sex, and delicious food!. For whatever karmic reasons, conscious connection with the Divine is a driving force in my life, that has brought tremendous joy and spiritual growth.

I want the bliss so badly. Even awakened, the journey of Oneness continues.   The longer the journey, the even more willing I become to leap into the transmuting fire of consciousness in order to experience the freedom of bliss – the rebirth into Oneness.

May your April be filled with the sweetness of rebirth. May your lilacs bloom with the waters of consciousness and faith! May you find your freedom in all the glorious, mysterious, complex and fantastic manifestations of the Divine!

 

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pain and bliss

Since I’ve been back from India and continue to integrate my awakening experience, there’s some unfinished business from the past that’s emerged.  I find myself thinking of a certain unresolved situation from my past.   It’s showing itself as a “charge”….an energy that’s lingering in my consciousness that feels uncomfortable.

Since I’m mainly feeling peaceful, when this charge has been showing up periodically, I’ve found myself surprised.  Where did this come from?   I finally realized I needed to take some serious time to pay attention to it, because it wasn’t going away on its own.

There’s a magnetic pull between pain and bliss that is the backdrop of life, itself.  The phenomenon of pain or discomfort  is a never-ending call to its relief.  When pain is relieved, we are able to return to our natural state of being — which is bliss.  Once again, I’ve been reminded that staying present to the full experience of emotional discomfort or pain is a journey that leads back to bliss.

May I share the steps of the journey with you?  My particular discomfort is unique to my experience, but the steps to relieving it are universal.  I offer it to you for your own use as a wonderful tool for happiness and spiritual growth.

This is what happened when I made some  time to focus on the charge:  First, I noted that I am not feeling acute emotional pain in this particular charge, but it definitely is discomfort.  It’s like an itch that must be scratched.  Paying attention to it, I find  the charge embedded in the top of my head as a heavy sensation.  I ask my Divine to support me in fully experiencing the sensation of this heaviness.

Without resistance to the sensation, and just noticing it, I gradually feel a shift in its intensity.  I give myself over to patiently staying with it — not feeling any urgency or inclination to make it speed up or finish its process.

After some time, I find myself laughing.  Yes, the discomfort and heavy sensation is now light….and then it disappears completely, leaving me feeling happy, giggling for no apparent reason, in bliss.

This is a miracle we all can experience at any time, with the help of our Divine.  Whether you call this higher power God, or Source, or Buddha, of Jesus, or whoever or whatever….call on this Divine Force to help you fully experience your experience.  Take the journey back to bliss.  It’s your birthright!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pain is a door

I’ve been staying with the topic of my physical pain – my challenged back.  It continues to come and go, but my experience of it is changing.

I now understand that is it a door for me to connect with the Presence. Yes,  today I am seeing my pain as a gift — how amazing a realization this is! I’ve gone from resisting pain all my life to understanding in a deeper way that by going within myself, entering the pain, so to speak, I am connecting with the Presence of a power greater than myself which lives both in me and outside of me….a dimension without pain, conflict, or suffering.

The Presence exists at all times but mainly our minds have shoved out awareness of it.   The Presence is the domain of the Divine.  It is our resistance to the suffering of pain that keeps shut the door to the Presence.

Even as I sit here writing this, my mind is rearing up strongly to protect me from letting go of pain.  My mind is actually creating a knot in my neck.  That’s how strong the power of the mind can be if, in the words of the amazing healer John Newton, we let the mind drive the bus.  In my case, my mind has gotten way too used to driving the bus of pain.  It apparently will not give up it’s job too easily.  But that’s okay — I’m no victor yet, but I’ve seen the enemy.

Research has shown that awareness of pain comes through the mind. The nervous system translate the experience of pain into a “story.”  It interprets the pain.  To bypass the story and enter the bodily experience of pain is to have a sensory experience.

The pain will feel like something when we tune inwards.   It may be a tingling sensation or feel like heat or burning.  Bypassing the mind – by moving deeper into the experience of pain within – can deliver us to some pretty interesting experiences.  We might see visions of things from our past.  We might have emotions emerge.  By calling on whatever you call the Divine (Higher Power, Infinite Source, God, etc.) eventually, we are delivered to that place of no pain.

This is just the beginning.  With tremendous gratitude to the beautiful and amazing enlightened teachers in my life and in the world, the opportunity to grow in awareness continues.