Oh Beautiful Duality

Emy recently wrote a blog called Yin/Yang, Light and Dark. In it she talks about the duality within herself. It also made me very aware of the duality within the way Emy and I chose to deal with the world around us. We are completely across the zodiac from each other with our birthdays landing 6 months apart. I believe the different ways we see the world is part of what helps us work so well together.

In her blog, she shares the story of her informing me of all the Americans who are working but not being paid due to the government shut down. I was not aware until she told me. I purposefully do not watch the news because of all the negativity and fear that it promotes. I am a strong believer that our thoughts create our reality. I believe that when we watch or focus on negative things that it affects the vibration of our being. I choose not to lower my vibration by watching the news and focusing on the many injustices in our world.

Whatever a person’s mind dwells on
intensely and with firm resolve,
that is exactly what he becomes.

~ Shankaracharya ~

Emy believes strongly she must fight; fight for the planet, fight for human rights, fight for politicians who have our best interests at heart. I want all of these same things. I want a planet that is healthy and natural areas that are preserved for all of us to enjoy. I want all people to be treated fairly and have the opportunities to improve their lives. I do not want to see children suffer at the hands of misguided adults. I want the people who are making our laws and running our governments to work for the best interest of all involved. Emy and I are very much on the same page as far as what we want. I, however, go about it very differently. This is not to say that Emy only fights. She has a strong spiritual life too. There are many spiritual practices that are a part of her repertoire.

For me, the energy that gets summoned inside of me when I get angry about injustices is not positive. This lowers my vibrations. Instead of focusing on the things in the world that I do not care for, I look for the good. This does not make me naive. I know there is evil in the world, but I believe to focus on it, is to give it energy. I would rather focus on the random acts of kindness that people do for one another every day. I would rather meditate on peace and love for all of the world in hopes of sending those positive intentions out. In June and July of 1993 4,000 people participated in a study. The study showed a 23.3% drop in crime in Washington DC as a result of the meditation by these participants. Showing there is more than one way to change this world.

In the movie and eventually the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne; they address this very issue. Jack Canfield says, “The anti-war movement creates more war. The anit-drug movement has actually created more drugs. Because we’re focusing on what we don’t want – drugs!” Did you know that in 2001, Portugal decriminalized drugs. As a result they have fewer problems with overdose, HIV, and drug related crimes. Additionally the usage of drugs has declined there. It is not perfect, there are a lot of other factors at play, but this could be related to the shift in focus. Jack goes on to share that Mother Teresa said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally. If you have a peace rally, invite me”.

What you resist persists

~Carl Yung~

I am not saying that Emy’s urge to fight the injustices of the world is wrong. I strongly believe that politics is a part of her Dharma. She is guided to change the world through sharing information, running for office, and joining committees. My path is different. It is exactly the opposite. While she is fighting, I am meditating. While she is sharing information about what is wrong, I am focusing on what is right. I am sending love to all of my fellow travelers on this journey. I believe that there is good in everyone. I believe that even if someone disagrees with me, that does make them wrong. They are perfectly where they are supposed to be on their spiritual path, just as I am perfectly where I am supposed to be on my spiritual path.

Having Emy as my spiritual sister helps me grow. We often discuss topics, ideas, and philosophies. We often come at things from very different perspectives. We both learn and grow from these conversations. Duality is a beautiful thing, within ourselves and externally.  Celebrate the differences between yourself and others. You just do not know how it may help you grow. Together Emy and I support the world in many different ways, our beautiful duality enriches our lives.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your path always feel right to you, as if by magic.

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Finding Peace and Joy in the Ordinary Moments

Have you been so in the flow of consciousness that you can feel the now. There is no struggle with moments of the past, jumping back into your mind or worry for the future. I have had a few blessed moments like this. One such moment happened while my husband and I were driving home from the airport.

As the truck rolled down the city streets, I noticed that my attention landed on nothing in particular. Instead I noticed it all without judgement. The vehicle rolled steadily down the road. The homes flowed past the window. For once, I did not wonder if the people living inside them were happy. I had no feeling of preference over one type of a house or another. I did not worry about whether the occupants were capable of shoveling the snow in their yards. I was not planning what needed to get done when I got home or even anxiously awaiting our arrival at our driveway. I just sat peacefully in the truck and watched the ever changing neighborhoods outside the window. I did not judge it to be good or bad. It all just was. I was in the flow of consciousness. Daily mediation has been happening more often than not for me lately and, although my meditations are not always the perfection of what I think they should be, I feel they are helping me connect more readily with consciousness.

Blissful moments of being completely in the “now” only happen to me rarely. When they do, I grab hold of them and allow them to last however long they may. Eventually (and it is usually not long) a thought or a person will demand my attention. This is life. This is the world we all live in. But these moments of presence are here for us. Washing the dishes, watching children at the park, walking down the street, waiting for public transportation, or even waiting for the computer to boot up; are all little bits of space we have to just allow. There is no need for judgement of the thoughts that rise up. They will rise up. No need for the attachment to the sensations in our body, just notice them and allow. You do not have to sit crisscross applesauce or close your eyes. Just be; notice it all without judgement. Do not attach your attention to any one item or activity. Do not make up stories about the people passing by. Allow them to just pass like smoke from a campfire. Flowing gently along. There is no need to hold on to this moment. You are safe in just allowing.

As you go about your day, look for the little bits of time that will permit you to be fully present. All that thinking does not serve you. It actually sweeps away your happiness. The more you are able to stay in the now, the more you are able to find your joy. I want you to find your joy. I want you to have peace in your life. Do you want these things too? I bet you do.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your find peace and joy, as if by magic.

Previous blogs on this subject that you may find interesting:

What Comes After the 90 Meditation Adventure?

Meditation: A Beautiful Experience

*Photo taken in St. Croix Falls, WI

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Meditation: A Beautiful Experience

My meditation experience yesterday was so beautiful, that I would like to share it with all of you. Although I had a beautiful backdrop to begin meditation, it is still possible to do it anywhere and at anytime. There are no ideal settings or circumstances, all you need is you.

Yesterday I was blessed to have the opportunity to do my meditation on the beach. It was a beautiful day in the high 60’s and the sun was fully out. Yet it was still January and the beach was not at all crowded. I found myself a quiet spot on the sand near enough to the water to hear the waves but not so close to the action. I settled in on my soft blanket in easy pose (crisscross applesauce) and allowed my eyes to gently close.

More often than not, as I begin my meditations, my monkey mind gets busy making “to do” lists for me and will try to document the experience for a blog or journal entry. I tried to reassure the never stopping thinker, that it was okay just be quiet, but of course that was more thinking. Slowly, as the minutes slipped away, I got into the sweet spot in meditation. That spot where you notice the sights and sounds around you without judgement or a running commentary about them.

I heard steps going past me. They would start in the distance and grow in their volume as they neared. Then fade again as they went past. This is just how the thoughts that come up in meditation should be handled. It is okay to notice them but also allow them to pass. Yet, so often my mind will try to hold on to these random fingers of thought. Afraid they might slip away before they could be captured.  Why is it that my ever present narrator thinks everything it has to say is so darn important to jot down. The ego is fully involved with this thinking part of me.

As I sat there with the warm sun on my back, sounds became more distinctive. I noticed them but did not attach any importance to them. The waves washing on the shore, the call of the sea gulls and the sounds of traffic on the road behind the beach; were all a part of the music I sat with. Partway into my meditation, a large family came and stood beside me. They were excited to be at the beach and chattered happily with one another. I am grateful for the buddhist monk who taught me that quiet is not necessary for meditation. He used the example that we do not get frustrated or angry with the birds who sing during our meditations. We only get that way with people because we think we can control them. I do not need quiet to meditate since this lesson. I now can allow the noises that people make as a part of the experience of being in the now, part of remaining present.

Each moment in life is perfect, if directed into only the present moment. When we live in the flow of consciousness we are happier. Meditation is a way for us to better get in touch with our true nature. Find the little moments in your life where you can be present for a few minutes and just notice. I have a future blog coming, that will talk about how one such moments occur for me without even trying.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find peace in everyday moments, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken by my sweet husband on New Smyrna Beach, FL.

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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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Dipping a Toe into Consciousness

What is consciousness or, more importantly, what isn’t it? Is it about the question or encompassed in the answer? Have you explored consciousness? Do you know who you are? Do you feel more connected to the narrator, the speaker, or the observer? What steps do you take to increase the mindfulness in your life? There are so many deep questions we could ask about consciousness. 

Mindful meditation is taught by the buddhists, but in recent years, the practice of meditation and mindfulness has become much more mainstream. I recently read a book by Dan Harris called 10% Happier. In his book, Dan describes his own reluctant journey into a meditation practice. Gurus, such as, Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra offer a place for seekers to begin to learn about consciousness. One of the first books I read about consciousness was The Untethered Soul. I have since read it twice and still feel that I could benefit from a third reading.

Our minds our very busy things and if you take the time to notice, there are several versions of “us” that the mind portrays to us. There is the speaker. This is the guy who is always thinking what to say ‘next’ in the conversation. This fella is pretty sure that he always has the most interesting tidbits to share. This is also the same guy giving me trouble getting past day one on my “21 days complaint free” adventure. Then there is the narrator. This joker is the one who feels the need to tell us what we are doing. Like I don’t know I am walking down the hall, planning my next move, or reading an interesting blog. The narrator feels it is necessary to tell me everything I am doing. My favorite though, is the observer. It is great when you can identify with the observer. This part of me (and this is the true me) is quiet and sits in the background. This “me” just notices. I was getting upset with something that happened to me in a relationship one day. The observer sat back and noticed that I felt triggered by the interaction. The observer had no connection to the frustration or hurt that the situation caused. The observer only noticed it. Once the observer noticed it the narrator got really intrigued about it and took it from there. It is the observer portion of us that meditation can help better connect to.

Daily meditation, noticing these different parts of our mind, reading books and watching videos by the gurus; are some of the ways we can become more conscious. Is this a part of your journey right now? I would love to hear how consciousness affects your life. What works for you? What would you like to improve? I feel a need to connect more fully with my consciousness and therefore am planning a silent retreat with Adventure Sister Emy. Little steps can have big impacts when it comes to consciousness. If you have not already done so, why not dip your toe into the water.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your journey into consciousness be fulfilling and profound, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken on Mt Baker, WA

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12 Tips to Help Decrease Holiday Stress

It’s holiday time. Do you love this season or does it cause you stress? Are you worried about where all the money will come from to buy everyone that perfect gift? Are you worried about people not liking your gifts? I love the general good cheer in the air but with a renewed focus on our financial goals, the holidays can be a potential step backwards. Here are some tips to help you live within your means, enjoy the holidays, reduce your stress, and still show others you care.

Set realistic expectations for yourself – No one can be it all, do it all or attend it all. Be realistic with yourself, your time, your energy, and your money. Do not sign up for more than you can take on. In the past, I felt I had to be the best entertainer, prepare the yummiest meals, decorate until not a corner of the house was untouched, give the perfect gifts and attend all the events. Age and wisdom have taught me that is not only unrealistic but also unhealthy. Be gentle with yourself.

Make a budget– I love giving as much as the next person but buying someone a more expensive gift does not change how much I love them. Decide on a reasonable dollar amount to spend and stick to it.

Start saving now for next year– put a small amount into a Holiday savings account each payday so when the next Holiday season rolls around you will not have to go into debt to buy gifts.

Talk to people about gift giving– for years my brother and I would exchange gift cards in the mail. We finally spoke and decided to each get ourselves something from the other, rather than shifting money back and forth in the mail. Buying a gift for you may be causing stress for another, so by having a conversation, you may alleviate their stress and financial burden too.

Handmade happiness – there are so many beautiful handmade gifts that you can make to give others. Depending on what you are making to give, you may have to start early in the year to get them done, so not to cause yourself extra pressure to meet a short deadline. Do you knit, make “out of this world” fudge, write poetry or do cute crafts? All of these things can be very sweet and special gifts.

Initiate family gift exchanges – talk to family about drawing names for gift giving instead of a gift for everyone or agree on gifts only for people under a certain age. Be creative and communicate.

Make coupons for services– you can make coupons for gifts of services. Some ideas are, making a home cooked meal, shoveling snow, pet or child sitting, raking leaves next fall, painting a room in their home. Be creative and listen to the things they are wanting to get done. You would hate to hurt someone’s feelings by offering to fix something they don’t feel is broken. This isn’t about you telling them what needs to get done but rather doing something for them they have been wanting to get done.

Share the gift of time– talk to friends and family and ask about sharing the gift of time. Get together for a meal, a cup of tea, volunteer to help a local charity together or a visit to a favorite location. Set a date for after the Holidays and both promise to make it a priority. What better gift than the gift of time.

Meditate – the holidays can be stressful with commitments, planning, shopping, and cooking. Meditate to find your center and remain mindful in the midsts of the extra pressure you may feel.

Remember the reason behind this time of year– the holiday season means something a little different to everyone.  So remember what it means to you. Connect with that heartfelt space and take some deep breaths when you feel anxious.

Reach out for help – If the stress of this time of year seems overwhelming or loneliness is breaking your heart, talk to someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you are missing a loved one, find a support group or person who can hold the space for you and just let you talk. Support groups, AA or other similar programs are a couple of places you can go to find support when it all seems too much. Remember you are loved, even when you don’t feel like it and you are not alone, even when it feels like you are.

Have fun! Find the joy in this time of year. There is a lot of it to be had. Live in the moment and enjoy seeing loved ones you don’t always get to connect with. Notice the good cheer in the air, all the extra seasonal events and the generosity that seems to flow through humanity. Look for the good and you shall surely find it.

Wishing you a most happy and loved filled holiday season. Take a deep breath and enjoy all that this time of year has to offer you!

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your holiday season be joyous and filled with love, as if by magic.

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I Used To Think She Had To Like Me But I Was Wrong

I used to think it was important for her to like me, but then I finally realized that it is only important for me to like myself. We all struggle with acceptance from others. We are all concerned with being judged by others. We are all guilty of being on both sides of this. Worried about being judged and judging others. Wayne Dyer once said, “Their opinion of me is none of my business”.

Have you ever felt anxious about going to a gathering or meeting someone new, because you were worried how they might feel about you? Of course, we all have! Job interviews, big gatherings, first dates, or even joining a new group are all examples of this. Situations, where we are thrown together, with other people who we do not know or have not spent a lot of time with. It is easy to feel nervous and intimidated going into these events. By holding that light inside yourself and knowing that your are safe and perfect the way you are, can help reduce the stress and allow you to put your best foot forward.

Here is a little meditation you can do before entering into one of these environments to help you remember it is only your opinion of you that really matters.

Take a deep breath and feel where you body makes contact with the earth or any object that is supporting you. Just take a few minutes to feel that breath enter your body and flow down deep into your abdomen. Visualize a white light within yourself. That white light is your true nature. That white light is purity, love, divinity, and beauty. This exists within you. Feel its warmth spreading throughout every cell in your body. Know you are safe. Know that no-one and nothing can diminish this light inside of you. You are perfect just as you are. You are wonderfully and uniquely you. You are worthy of love and admiration. See this white light forming a force field around you. This force field will protect you from anyone’s judgement. Remember that you are worthy of love. Take a few more deep breaths and when you are ready, open your eyes. 

This meditation can be done quickly wherever you are. If you need a minute to center before entering a gathering, just do some version of this. You can even record yourself saying this and listen to it prior to any situation where you might feel uneasy.

Remember that you are “right” just as you are. No judgement from another can cause this to change. No one’s opinion of how you should be, behave, dress, or look diminishes the beauty and divinity within you. Namaste my friends. Which means the Divine in me sees the Divine in you. Please see the Divine in yourself as well.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you love and appreciate yourself, as if by magic.

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