Let Go and Begin Again

Can we cross the bridge into a brand new day full of light?

In meditation practice we are taught not to worry when the mind wanders. It is often said that the most important moment in your practice is when you realize your mind is wandering and you come back into your body and find peace in the present moment. So, the mantra is, “Let go and begin again. Let go and begin again.” We learn to realize that it’s OK if we get lost… Simply notice and come back to balance. In contemplating this idea in reference to our current situation, we could see this time of pandemic in the same way… For now, we might feel lost and need to practice coming back to balance, over-and-over, as best we can.

I don’t know about you, but the level of fear and worry I’ve been experiencing has sometimes been overwhelming. I have occasionally been afraid for myself, but mostly I’ve had to fight debilitating worry for my family and for the world. One day, when I was changing my grandson’s diaper, I reached for a second butt-wipe and a huge rush of emotion came over me. I was overtaken by sadness for the people who might not have any butt-wipes at all. That might sound silly, but the feeling was very powerful. In that moment, as my nervous system got all charged up, I had to refrain from following the stream of fear all the way up to panic. I recognized the moment as an opportunity to take a deep breath. I let the energy of fear pass through me as I sat quietly breathing and feeling gratitude for the beautiful, healthy child I held in my arms.

We talked about fear last week and said, “Don’t fight it and don’t feed it.” This idea takes me back to a book I read many years ago… In “Dune” by Frank Herbert, there is a powerful passage called the Litany Against Fear which was said by the people when they were in peril…

As we search for meaning in this experience, we might contemplate the possibility that we are undergoing a powerful Transformation on the Earth. In a Reading in late March the Angels said, “One of the greatest vaccines that is happening right now is Compassion.” They talked about how we are being forced into deep emotion while feeling and showing Compassion for ourselves and others. We are being shown the cracks and flaws in the old systems… the cultural systems at large, the systems within our own homes and families and even the systems inside our own hearts and minds. It’s as though the virus is showing us what we’ve been missing, the things we’ve forgotten and so much that we have taken for granted. What have you learned is truly important to you that you have taken for granted in your life? These are good things to learn even though it has been a tough way to learn them! As we have said before, this medicine may be tough to swallow, but God is present here, dear people. There will be new Light in the darkness.

Even though we might feel lost right now, eventually our isolation will end and we will return to life in a whole new way. Let us look forward with gratitude as we come to a new moment of balance. Can we imagine Compassion as vaccine and Love as antiseptic? Can we cross that bridge into a brand new day full of light? Perhaps we will see this new way as the first moment we can truly, “Let go and begin again.”

Please try this at home.

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

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Fear ~ Don’t fight it and don’t feed it

I posted only a poem and a few short words last week, because I was in the midst of a whole week of anger! It surprised me, because I don’t do a lot of anger, but there it was. We’ve talked many times about how important it is to feel our feelings and not minimize them or pretend they’re not there. A common self-help saying comes to mind, “When we bury our feelings, they are buried alive.” Then they come out of us in some really counter-productive ways… like spewing the green vomit of anger on a completely unsuspecting loved one, for example. Or the anger festers deep inside and eats us alive over time. So I spent the week feeling and breathing some real nastiness.

One of the most important things I reminded myself NOT to do was to attach a big story to why I was feeling anger. It’s important to remember that when we create a story, we end up living inside that story. We may start to close down and obsess on the story line, which easily takes our awareness away from the messages of Spirit. What we find is that sometimes our feelings aren’t about the stories at all… They are about things we don’t know or understand yet. The Angels taught us not to “predict possible futures” if we can help it. Rather, it is best to stay in the present moment, feel and breathe, and see what comes. We must also remember that creating a story is more like thinking about our feelings, rather than actually feeling them.

Coming into the Present Moment – What about feelings that come from trauma? One of the things that happens, especially when we’re on the hamster wheel in our minds, creating stories and trying to describe and justify our feelings, is that we re-live the trauma and the pain, over and over. This keeps it alive and sometimes even accentuates it. We forget that the trauma is in the past. Our stories can even project the fear and pain into the future, creating dread and overwhelm. When we come into the present moment, we are able to calm down and center. Then we realize that the trauma itself is over. Now we can move more fluidly through our emotion about the pain, instead of recreating the pain itself over and over again.

In our current situation, processing the trauma is easier said than done, because we didn’t have one big trauma that is over. We are in the middle of a trauma that is ongoing. This is frightening and creates a sense of dread about whether or not it will get worse. Still, the answer is the same… When we come into the present moment, we come into our bodies where we can hold those feelings gently… Dare I say, hold the fear… and move through it. Denying it doesn’t work. Accentuating it doesn’t help. But when we simply hold it and allow ourselves some grace and the fullness of time, we get our power back and we can move through it. The fear might still be there, but we are not expending so much energy trying to run away from it… or kill it.

My friend, Barbara, and I have talked about the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the desert, talking with the devil. This is sometimes referred to as “the temptation,” but I don’t think Jesus was actually tempted by the devil. He knew better. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus did not kill the devil or in any way try to destroy him? Instead, he used a tool I call “disappearing.” He simply knew better than to be taken in by the force of darkness that appeared right in front of him. Jesus picked up his Power and simply “disappeared” him, even while the devil was standing right there.

We’ve heard this said another way… the way it is said in the picture at the top. Peace, being faith-filled and disappearing the darkness around you, is that calm place in the eye of the tornado… All hell is breaking loose around you and you are able to be centered in your heart. We may not be able to control the things happening around us, but we can find faith and peace in our hearts.

Please be in Gratitude for those who are on the front lines, feeding us, delivering what we need and keeping things going in so many ways. Please pray for those in charge to have the wisdom needed to plan well and to keep our best interest and the Greater Good in their hearts. May each be rewarded ten-fold for the things they put into the world. Please say a prayer to honor the dying and those already departed. Most of all, remember that it only takes the light of one little candle to dispel the darkness… Be The Light.

Please try this at home.

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

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Tapestry Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I really need to focus on something beautiful right now and this year I have certainly had plenty of time to notice just how gorgeous Spring is! I’m counting that as a blessing. I wrote this poem at this same time of year in 2010…

Please try this at home!

I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

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Can We Hold This in an Open Palm…?

Blessings to you. How are you today? How is your family? May we all stay strong and healthy. Amen

So much has changed in a week… Now most of us are staying home as much as possible. We’ve all seen the curves showing us why that’s important in order to slow the virus down so the medical system can keep up. We have moved very quickly from, “Make sure you wash your hands.” to “Is this really happening?” to “It’s here and it’s real. What do we do next?”

It’s an interesting time to have a new blog and it’s difficult to know what to write that might be helpful in this strange experience we are all having together… apart. I realize that all I can do is what I have always done… what God called me to do 25 years ago… Share my story and hope that something I say will ease your struggle and help you on your Journey.

As many of you know, I’m a depression person, so my primary focus this past week or so has been to stay centered and balanced, since those things are sometimes not easy for me. They are especially challenging in these trying times. I have to be constantly mindful, because when depression takes over, little else can get in until it passes. I also have to remember not to go into fear about the possibility of depression, because that can put me over the top and cause me to become a bit manic. It’s a defense mechanism that is often helpful, until it’s not.

I’ve done a pretty good job staying balanced… Making sure to feel my feelings and breathe through them, not deny them. Holding gratitude for our many blessings, even in the face of some fear. I have reminded myself that acceptance of “what is” usually helps me cope better. Once we accept “what is” as simply that… “This is what it is.” …we can move past the parts we cannot change and free up energy for what we really can affect. This is where we find opportunities to pick up our power and actually do something helpful.

Accepting “what is” can be really tough though. (You’re listening to a Recovering Control Freak right now, so I know what I’m talking about.) We spend so much time trying to change “what is” into what we want it to be, what we wish it was. It seems obvious, but I’ll say it out loud… No amount of wishing this was different will make it different. I’m reminded of the 12-Step Prayer… “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

That leaves us with the question, “What can we actually do?” We’re in an interesting place with regard to this question, because one of the most important things most of us can do right now is… seemingly nothing. We have been asked to stay home… To hibernate, so to speak. For some of us (fellow extroverts raise your hands!) this is a big ask! It helps to remember that staying home is something you are doing for the Greater Good. Staying home will help you stay healthy and it helps everybody else stay healthy too. Staying home is not really doing nothing! It’s actively not spreading germs “all over hell and Georgia” as my Grandma used to say.

These things we are experiencing right now can be made gentler if we think of them as acts of caring and compassion. At first I was resistant to staying home. Even the phrase “social distancing” felt oppressive to me. It felt wrong. I had an attitude that said, “I’m tough. I can go out there. I can take it.” Then I realized that, by going out unnecessarily I could make somebody else sick. Or I could get sick and bring that to my family.

If we learn nothing else from this experience, we are learning how interconnected we all are. It’s funny, because Spiritual people talk about interconnectedness all the time and we are often called wacky and woowoo. But this is a secular example of how interconnected we really are and we are ALL feeling it!

If you are staying home, begin to see that as an act of compassion for yourSelf and for everyone out there. If you are on the front lines, one of those people who has to go to work right now, we thank you! We will pray for you. This is another way that those of us who are staying home are not really doing nothing… We are holding space for you to stay well and strong as you do the work that’s necessary out in the world right now. May God Bless you.

Here is some of the wisdom that has helped me in this past week…

This is from Mark Nepo: “Perhaps the washing of hands can become a modern sacrament, a holy ritual by which we hold ourselves and our global family in the deepest regard. Perhaps the slight bow of love and respect can replace the handshake as a holy ritual that will lessen our fear while sharing our love, so that we can bear the uncertainty together.”

I really love this from my Facebook friend, Jaime Meyer: “Take the opportunity to remember that Mother Earth sends us medicine all the time, and there is medicine in this experience, though it may be difficult to comprehend, and unpleasant to ingest. One part of that, for me, is that we are being taught how clearly interconnected all life is, and that core idea is probably the number one change of consciousness that our species needs, and is beginning to grasp and work with.”

As my dear friend, Jess, said to me this week, “Can we hold this in an open palm… Can we view it through curious eyes?” There is that lovely word again… Curiosity… Becoming as little children. How we choose to view this and how we respond to what is happening will affect our own experience of it. Remember… Too much worry can weaken the immune system. Don’t forget to breathe. Reach out when you need to.

How are you today? If you need somebody to talk to, please email or message me. We’re in this together and I’m right here.

May God Bless us every one.

Please try this at home.

*Curiosity (See Yoga Life Lessons post from 3-7-20)

One of my greatest outside supports has actually been my meditation app, 10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics

The 10% Happier podcast, which you can find through the app, has a piece about Parenting During the Pandemic

10% Happier is also giving FREE 6 month memberships (or for the duration) to all healthcare workers on the 10% Happier app. Email Care@tenpercenthappier.com or click on Caronavirus Sanity in the app.

You can also go to 10% Happier Live on YouTube (scroll down for episodes) at 3:00 Eastern Time (2:00 CST) every weekday for a live gathering that includes a wealth of information and a short daily meditation with some of the leading meditation teachers in the US.

#10percenthappier

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like this blog to go next.

If you would like to receive my blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net

Yoga Life Lessons

Listen to your body – Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for some of us, even being aware of being in our bodies has been a challenge. Take, for example, me being over-weight much of my life. My body was not a place I wanted to be, because then I might notice that I didn’t like what it looked like. It took the first 10 years of my Spiritual life plus 5 years of karate training (ages 45-50) to get me inside my body in a productive way… And it takes a good bit of yoga, meditation and healing practice to keep me there and comfortable even now. And don’t even get me started on how religion often tells us that the body is nasty, evil and/or sinful. Your body is the vehicle that is carrying around your beautiful Soul, your piece of God. It is the Temple of the Spirit and don’t let anybody tell you different! Once we start treating our bodies as temples, we can love them (regardless of their size and shape) and learn to listen to their wisdom. Then we realize that a body aligned with Spirit is wise and we know that when our body says, “Don’t do it” …you don’t do it. This works for the food we take in, the energy we give out and the choices we make that either help us or hurt us in life.

Rest is another thing that goes right along with listening to your body. It seems self-evident, but hear me when I say… When you have worked hard and your body is tired, let it rest. We live in a culture that pushes us to the brink of exhaustion every chance it gets… Spiritually, emotionally, physically and psychologically, so it’s important to get enough rest. In yoga, at the end of each session, we lie down on the mat to rest, which also lets the positive impact and energy of the session settle into our bodies. Same goes for sleep, which is when we heal and recharge. Just remember, if sleep wasn’t important, we wouldn’t spend one-third of our lives doing it!

Balance is important – This is not only about the kind of balance it takes to stand on one foot, touch your finger to your nose and sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic at the same time. In yoga we create balance by doing the same thing on both sides of the body… We deliberately balance one side with the other. In our daily lives we might try balancing all the negative things we say to ourselves with some positive input whenever possible. For example, “You’re so stupid… Why did you do that?” needs at least a few positive phrases, said with gentle sincerity, in order to create balance.

Un-sass your hips – I have no idea what life lesson we can learn from this… I just like how it sounds 😊 and my yoga teacher says it all the time.

Breathe into it – When we come to a point of discomfort in yoga practice, we are reminded to breathe into it. This involves turning our attention toward the discomfort and offering it soothing breath and loving compassion until the discomfort lessens. Turning toward a struggle may seem counter-intuitive, since we tend to want to run away from it, but the first step in healing is to acknowledge what needs to be healed.

I can’t tell you how many times this tiny practice has come in handy in my life… When my body hurts, when my heart hurts… When I was in the hospital trying not to die 10 years ago and the only way I could get through all those awful tests was to close my eyes, go inside and breathe loving-kindness into my sick and aching body. The next time you are struggling in body, mind or emotion, take a moment and breathe into it. Send it some sweet lovin’ and then just “feel and breathe” until you get through it.

Eyes on your own mat – How often do we cause problems for ourselves and others because we start paying more attention to what they are doing, which means we are paying less attention to what we are doing ourselves. Wouldn’t life be grand if we all paid more attention to our own moves, the things we actually have the Power to impact, and let everybody else tend to their own lives.

The lesson in my class today was, “Perfection is a thing of the mind, not the heart.” When she read this at the end of class, I immediately started flipping back through the times in class I thought about how bad I must look in this particular position and what if somebody in class notices how I look and… blah… blah… blah. Then I stopped, because that is all ego and no humility… and a total waste of energy.

Have you ever noticed how often little children stop themselves from squealing at the sheer joy of being alive because they might not look good doing it? The answer is NEVER! Children experience life from the freedom of the heart and approach everything with curiosity. What a great word… Curiosity. Let’s do that today!

Please try this at home!

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next.

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Creativity (smaller)

Creativity and Passion

My friend and I were talking on the phone the other day about the joys and struggles of running a business. At one point in the conversation I heard mySelf say, “Yes, isn’t it wonderful to be in a state of Creation!” Wow, that is a statement to savor! This is what productive work gives us in this lifetime… an outlet… an expression of the Self into the world. It gives us an opportunity to experience one of my favorite words… PASSION!  To pour yourSelf into something creative and watch it be born right before your eyes. It’s one of the best and highest experiences we can have! This is what people forget about our daily lives and the work we do. Creativity and Passion aren’t just words to describe what a poet or an artist does. These are words that describe a state of Being and, in this way, we have a choice every single day about being in this state, or not. I spent my entire career doing some kind of office work… First as a receptionist, then a secretary (There’s a word for the Baby Boomers. Do we even have secretaries anymore?) Then I became an Office Manager and that’s pretty much where I stayed until I retired a couple of years ago. As an Office Manager I did all kinds of things: Bookkeeping, Human Resources, Accounts Payable and Receivable, lots of problem solving. Oh, how I do love problem solving! Basically, I moved paper around a lot. Case in point… After a few hours of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, my 12-year old proclaimed, “This is boring!” To which I replied, “This is how we eat, my dear.” She was probably right. To some it was boring. But to me, this was Creativity! This was my Passion! My outlet and my contribution! No, it was not poetry. It was not even the thrill I get when I work on a book, write these blog posts or do Spiritual Direction work with people… But it was accomplishment. It was mine and I poured my heart into it every day. I didn’t even realize how much I loved it until I stopped doing it. Then… Oh, how I missed my spreadsheets! (Early retirement did not look pretty on me!) We must cultivate the state of Creativity and Passion. Look for it. Call it to you. And most especially, we must recognize it, because God put passion in everything! There are many who drag themselves to work every day and don’t even notice what they do as a contribution, an achievement each day. Please, notice what you do! And notice how others contribute to your state of Being. I have a friend who always calls me Beauty. Just Beauty, said matter-of-factly, as though everybody talks like this. “Hello Beauty.” It lights me up every single time. I don’t ever let myself un-notice it. So don’t let yourself believe that the job you go to everyday is meaningless, simply because it’s not big in the eyes of culture. We all love the statement, “It takes a village to raise a child.” So remember… We are the village. All of us. The big and the small. The ones with exciting jobs and the ones without. The point is not what you do. The point is how you do it! The Passion you bring to whatever it is you create is the Energy you are putting into the world. Don’t let that Energy be flat, dull and lifeless. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor… Bring your whole heart to whatever task is in front of you and you will feel like a Rock Star every day! Please try this at home! If you would like to receive my Blog posts and other announcements in your inbox, please sign up by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of my website… WherePathsCross.net I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next. Second Coming – Awakening The Christ Within

Garden of Dreams

A friend and I headed for Taylor’s Falls and made a stop along the way at Franconia Sculpture Park. http://www.franconia.org/ Winding our way through this gorgeous natural setting, looking at some truly inspiring works of art, we came upon a garden patch… wild, lush and overgrown. I walked in as far as I could and just stood there, taking it all in. When I came out, three young boys, ranging maybe 8-12 years old, ran into the spot where I had just stood. One said, “There’s nothing in here.” To which my friend responded, “Everything is in there.” The boy asked, “What do you mean?” to which I replied, “YOU are in there.” and my friend added, “And that is everything!” The boy, who looked to be the oldest said, “That’s weird.” Another boy just looked at us and the third boy got this amazing far-away look in his eyes. The look lasted only a few seconds, but we both knew he felt it.  The whole thing lasted only a few seconds and then they were gone.

We reflected on this experience throughout the day, with the garden as the proverbial metaphor for life. My friend has been struggling with some issues that come up for people of a certain age… In other words, feeling old and used up, but still with plenty of years still in us, so what to do? It’s not the easiest stage in life and my friend is really wondering why he is still working at a job he doesn’t want to do anymore? He’s realizing it’s pretty much just so he can make the payment on his big house, which he doesn’t really need. A house that requires a lot of repair and upkeep, which he thought he was excited about when he made his initial purchase. But now… His dreams are screaming at him! He is over-stressed and so caught up in “shoulding” on himself that he has lost 80 pounds since the last time I saw him, and that was only a few months ago! Seriously. The things we do to ourselves, until we give ourselves permission to think outside the box.

I said, “You know, those 3 little boys are all inside of you.” One is just going along, one is scared to death to be authentic and the third one is open to the exciting things all around him every single day. My friend and I have seldom had deep conversations like this and when we have, he has usually been the older boy who shut it all down with words telling me, “That’s weird,” even when he really needed to talk it through. But it just felt wrong to be vulnerable and say he was scared to be so real and raw and open.

The garden itself was wild and lush and overgrown and there were metal sculpture pieces that came up high above the flowers, creating something of a framework for the whole thing. We talked about those stick-straight, hard metal rods being the “shoulds” in life. The things we have to do – or think we have to do – to fit in or get by in this world. The ways we dump hard and fast expectations all over ourselves. Of course, there are things we actually do have to do in our lives… Obligations… Responsibilities. But sometimes we just get stuck in a rut that tells us we must trudge on, even when the need is long gone. We tend to keep doing what we’ve always done, even when we want to make a change, simply because it’s become a habit and we forget there are other possibilities out there. Or because we’re afraid to make a change and take a risk. I guess that’s why we need our friends and the off-day when we decide to take a drive out into the country.

The sticks, the structure that created such contrast for the massive over-growth of the garden, wasn’t our focal point. More often we talked about the chaos in the garden. The incredible and passionate beauty of flowers gone wild. He wanted to clean it up. To fix it. He wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea that he could leave the job he’s good at and has always done well, which provides the income that pays for the big house he doesn’t need anymore. And then we finally got there… ‘Who am I to think I can just walk away from what is expected of me and live my life exactly the way I want to live it?’ Mind you, there are no children to feed in his story and nobody will be harmed if he does whatever he wants at this point in his life. But he can’t take that first step, because he can’t find himself worthy of doing what his heart desires. And so we kept walking.

Next we came to a garden of mirrors. No matter where you stood you could see your reflection in at least one huge mirror. We moved through, finding the places where the mirrors doubled up on themselves, reflecting many of us out into infinity. And he called me over to one particular spot where you could avoid every single mirror, if you got small and held really still. The mirror metaphors were not lost on us.

We talked about Self Love all day long… How hard it is to find ourselves worthy in this world. That even when we believe in God, we don’t believe in ourselves, so what God has created in each one of us is diminished by our own criticism of it. I can remember thumping my own chest years ago, as I proclaimed the realization of my own lack of self worth. I was living out the belief that said, “This may be good enough for God, but it’s not good enough for me!” What?!? And then came my revelation… When I diminish and betray myself, I’m saying loud and clear that, in making me, God created junk. This cannot be true. So what do we do to turn this sick thinking around? We take one baby step after another until we start to see the Light of God within us. And then we just keep walking.

Later that night I got a text from him that said, “I’m going out of my comfort zone, but after today I’m not quite so scared. What I find truly amazing is that, after setting this [outing] up weeks ago, now when I needed someone to help me sort life out, here we are…” All I could say back was, “God works in mysterious ways!” And then the next morning another text came that said, “Step one complete.” Sometimes all we need is permission to open to new possibilities. Permission to see the beauty in the chaos and let ourselves be in process. Sometimes all we need is a garden full of wild flowers and mirrors to help us see how beautiful we really are… just the way God made us.

Please try this at home!

P.S. In case you’re wondering… Step one was to quit his job. He got his house in shape and sold it within a few months. He purchased a beautiful plot of land in the mountains of Colorado and he lives there now, building his dream home and living in serenity. This is his view…

 

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I welcome your comments or private messages so I know if I’m hitting the mark for you and where you would like to go next.

Second Coming – Awakening The Christ Within