Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Power to Move Mountains

I spend a week in the mountains out West, and even though I have difficulty breathing at high altitudes, my spirit is awash in its energy...

Meditations are deep and expansive, and there is a clarity that comes in high elevations, as if one could reach up a finger to the sky like E.T. and touch the very presence of the Divine...

At times, I sit barefoot on the grass, lost in exquisite meditation. The air is fresh and light, in more ways than one, yet certainly devoid of all the oxygen I need...

Over and over again, the words of the Psalmist come to mind as I behold the breathtaking beauty of the mountains:


 "I lift up my eyes to the hills,
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth..."
~ Psalm 121 NRSV

There is a power here that I feel, and it is the inherent power to move mountains - and to do and be - anything and everything...

There are insights and intuitions that are granted and which tumble out easily from some deep recesses within - ascertained without the arduous attempt of a Vision Quest. It is as if sight were given to the blind and I am simply led into the light...

Re-entry is jarring and difficult and I seem caught between two planes - the physical and one that is truly an altered state that I seemed to have brought back as a stowaway in the luggage stored deeply in my heart...

I arise knowing I will receive a needed message this morning, as I have every morning this week, arriving as a poetic re-imaging of this psalm that has sustained me through many decades. In the words of Stephen Mitchell, it takes on new meaning for me...


Psalm 121

"I look deep into my heart,
to the cores where wisdom arises.
Wisdom comes from the Unnamable
and unifies heaven and earth.

The Unnamable is always with you,
shining from the depths of your heart.
His peace will keep you untroubled
even in the greatest pain.

When you find him present within you,
you will find truth at every moment.
He will guard you from all wrongdoing;
he will guide your feet on his path.

He will temper your youth with patience;
he will crown your old age with fulfillment.
And dying, you will leave your body
as effortlessly as a sigh."

I receive more insights on this silent morning, and the comfort that I need as I try to navigate a world filled with brutality and violence that makes me question my very existence here and  makes me want to cry at the senselessness of so much needlessly inflicted pain...

Awash I am in serenity, and the firm belief that realms unseen have my back - for I do not often feel that support from very many - in the realms that are seen and which I must inhabit.

There is much to reflect on and process, and all will be revealed in due time...

Yes, I look up to the hills and mountains looking for guidance and wisdom - but the source of that guidance and wisdom is simply within.

I look up to the sky and am reminded instead to look deeply into my heart...

I meditate and I pray, and in the quiet and stillness of the cave of my heart, I am alone with the Alone, and I simply hear, the Alone's Voice, reflecting back to me:


"Everything you need is inside...Look always within..."

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Power of Choosing Positivity

I read an article this week that has made me reflect very deeply on the choices we make and the effects that negativity have on us and those around us.

Yesterday, I subbed for a friend's yoga class, and in my centering, I spoke to the students about how heavy this summer has been - so many tragedies - and most of them resulting from the direct expression of hatred on somebody's part.

The essay I read explained that in our world of duality, negative and positive energies are more accurately redefined as destructive and creative energies.

If you are an individual that is relatively open on an emotional, psychological, and spiritual level, you are more apt to be affected by negativity than others around you. Negative energy is insidious and destructive in its essence. But even though you as an individual may be very much affected by the negative energy of others, it is important to note that it affects the sender even more so.

This essay also pointed out that hatred and fear share the same source and are actually the same energy. Love is it's opposite. And love and creativity go hand in hand...

Earlier this day, I shared some of these insights with a dear friend, who like me, has been engaged in a creative venture, but hers was birthed out of unspeakable pain and loss. I reminded her that she was able to make lemonade out of lemons as it were. Instead of wallowing in bitterness she arose out of her own situation to shine tremendous light through her creativity and thus brings love and happiness into many lives on a daily basis, throughout all the corners of this world.

We can choose positivity over negativity and thus choose to change the world!

Years ago, I abandoned a secure career because the environment I worked in was so toxic. The negativity was eating me alive, as I soldiered on, year after year, tortured by the horrible things I witnessed people say and do that haunted me constantly. I knew I could not survive in that place in the long run. So I took a big leap into the unknown, in my middle forties, and while not financially lucrative, it allowed my soul the space it needed to breathe, explore creative opportunities, spread its wings, and soar.

Hatred and negativity affects the one who expresses it the most. It grows like a malignancy within them, but it also has the ability to infect all those around them. The essay adamantly pointed out that negativity and its effects are more far reaching than we can even imagine.

Conversely, love and positivity have the power to change the world and its impact ripples much farther away from us than we can ever imagine. We often never know on which distant shores those ripples will land.

I thought of all of this as I considered the audience for the free meditations I create and post daily as a labor of love. What I have discovered, is that my audience is not the one I originally envisioned - which is to say, a wealthier one, here in the United States, able to buy  my products. Instead it consists of a lovely group of people largely clustered in developing societies who choose to listen to my humble offerings.

Hatred and negativity have the ability to manifest as disease over time and they do have tremendous karmic consequences, whether you believe in such things or not. As the old adage acknowledges, "What goes around, comes around."

Every day, we are given a choice. We can strive to make this world a better place, or we can decide to poison ourselves - those around us - and even the very planet itself.

You have the ability and power to choose positivity and you are able to express that in very creative ways. Do so. The world will be better because of this one simple choice.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blue Herons and Things

Sometimes, messages come to us in the strangest of ways...

In something someone says to us...

In something that we read...

In the presence of an animal...

And sometimes, in all three...


And that was the morning I had, so I share these messages with you, hoping they may yield an insight or two for you...

I began my morning by reading and sharing this poem by Mary Oliver:


Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond 

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

open
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself --
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn't a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.
~ Mary Oliver ~

And then, at the end of my quiet morning walk, a magnificent blue heron, gracefully took flight across my path as I was coming around on the wooden bridge, over the wetlands behind my home. I have missed seeing and encountering them regularly, at close range. 

It has been two years since I have been able to go kayaking, and six to seven years ago, in the depths of great depression and grief, a blue heron regularly came to me, bringing solace, companionship, and wisdom - when I was bereft of all three - walking or flying alongside me as I paddled upstream. 

And so I revisited their meaning as animal totems:


Aggressive Self-Determination
Self-Reliance

"A Heron and Egret totem teaches balance;
the ability to progress and evolve --
to walk into deeper waters without fear.

It is important for someone with a Heron and Egret
totem to learn to stand on their own two feet,
to become independent and self-reliant.

Heron and Egret has a strong connection to the element of Earth
and you must also be aware and cultivate this connection.
The Mother Earth is a source of strength
and will help you stand strong and firm.

Heron medicine allows you to perform many tasks at the same time,
keeping in balance.
If one doesn't work, then another way will.
Heron and Egret people seem to instinctively know this.

Heron people do not need a lot of people in their life
and they often follow non-traditional roles.
They feel no need to "keep up with the Jones."
They stand out in their uniqueness
and know how to take advantage of things
and events that most people wouldn't bother with.

You know what is best for you and you should follow that path.
Be aggressive when opportunities present themselves --
don't let them get away from you.
Meditation on color with provide insight to Heron and Egret people"


I also read and shared this final inspirational quote by a dear friend, which I reproduce here 
for  all of you wonderful readers, that you may get to know her work and 
the magnificent light she shines on this planet. It too, spoke to me, so deeply, and the 
picture needs no explanation...

So some mornings, when we arise, fresh from a full night's rest and we are open and receptive, our souls are fed by the every waiting, and loving Divine Presence that permeates everything...

(Visit Every Day Spirit's website for more inspiration and information!)



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Listen to Your Intuition

I have a few people I highly respect and whose judgment I trust.

But I trust mine more...

If I do not hear that "knock" or "Voice" that tells me to more forward - or in this direction instead of that - I don't budge.

Sometimes, I do end up taking the road that was suggested - but maybe a year or so later - when I feel I am ready; when I have received the indication to do so.

The only times I've had regrets or gotten myself into serious trouble, is when I DIDN'T trust my intuition.

I was chatting with a friend earlier this week, and we both agreed that it was very important for us to follow the inner promptings and whispers of our hearts, and in fact, she suggested I write about this.

But I must insert a caveat here, because following one's intuition does not imply we make decisions on a whim. For years I taught bioethics, and I always instructed my students that one could not go against one's conscience in making moral decisions. However, a conscience also had to be an informed one, and there were methods and considerations to be followed...

Trusting implies listening. And in order to listen deeply, we must eliminate all those things that drown out the "Voice" of stillness, for it truly speaks.

I have been reflecting all week on how intrusive technology is. Just today, I read an article about Facebook's new messenger app, which seeks greater control over our lives. All around me I see people texting rather calling someone - or speaking to the person right next to them. Texting alerts litter the ears everywhere, like sound pollution.

I am not bashing technology, but I am suggesting we should not be ruled by it.

Yesterday, I visited the writing getaway retreat of a friend's husband, and I was struck by how monastic and exquisite it was. He writes there every day, surrounded by a grove of trees, reminiscent of an English forest, a well filled with gold fish, and an expansive deck overseeing a major creek. He lives like a recluse by day, and I immediately understood why he never went anywhere - I mentioned I would never leave that place if I lived here.

We spoke of rare editions of books and maps and map makers, and the many rare finds he excavated and researched in both the British Museum and Library as a professor. 

This is a man whose life is rich, because he has not only listened to his intuitions, but as a writer, it has given him tremendous insights into diverse subjects. I was fascinated by his latest book project, which has been accepted for publication.

So, create the space to listen. Lose yourself in it. Some might meditate or pray. Some who are agnostic or nonbelievers derive their "faith" and strength from nature or philosophy or universal values. And if you create this space to listen, both inside and outside of yourself, you will be able to always, wholeheartedly, trust your intuition!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Between the Worlds, Cultivating a Blue Mind, and Yearning for the Beach

This month is just about over, and I can't for the life of me, tell you where it went!

I had a lot of goals and projects, and while I took care of some minor ones, it seems I hardly made a dent on my list.

Perhaps it is the heaviness that seems to permeate so much on the planet right now - war in several places, including the conflict between Israel and Gaza, which I visited, just over 7 months ago. Even then, I was very much struck by how two people co-existed in the same, very small area - and were literally invisible to one another. The tension was palpable. I wanted to take them both by hand - the Jew and the Muslim - and say to them: "Here, look at each other! You share the same land and ancestry! You are children descended from the same man - Abraham!"

There is also the matter of the planes recently shot down from the sky, particularly the one over the Ukraine, so many innocent lives needlessly taken. It just does not seem to be to me the kind of summer I had envisioned - carefree and easy...

Nearly everyone I speak to seems to be going through something - many find themselves in transition - or between worlds - as I seem to be - between what was and that which is not yet...

Many are struggling with illnesses, searching for what is next in their lives - and often indecisiveness seems to be the only constant.

One of my friends, who is a therapist, noted at my weekly prayer group today, that those who are emotionally and spiritually gifted often pick up vibrationally on what is going on all around them, and unless they know what to do with it, and how to process it, they can easily become depressed or overwhelmed.

Even when you have the tools to deal with situations, it does not mean you can avoid feeling the heaviness, the sorrow, and the grief that is palpable all over the world right now.

All of this makes me want to literally run away to a beach, and just walk alongside the ocean, which is very grounding.

I read of a book titled, "Blue Mind," reviewed in the Washington Post yesterday, and later was struck by this description of the book on Amazon:

"Why are we drawn to the ocean each summer? Why does being near water set our minds and bodies at ease? In BLUE MIND, Wallace J. Nichols revolutionizes how we think about these questions, revealing the remarkable truth about the benefits of being in, on, under, or simply near water. Combining cutting edge neuroscience with compelling personal stories... he shows how proximity to water can... increase calm and diminish anxiety..."

Right after reading about the book, I wrote these lines, thinking about myself:

"Yearning for the surf and tide,
for aimless strolling along the ocean's sandy side,
breathing in the saltiness of the sea
and bathing in the ocean breeze..."

We cannot run away from what is. In fact, in the daily 90 second meditation I posted today, I used this mantra, which I repeated, with every step I took on my walk:

"I stand before what is,
with an open heart.
And with an open heart,
I dwell in possibility."
~ Macrina Weiderkehr

As bleak as these times may seem, there is possibility in everything - waiting to be born. And whether or not I ultimately get my desire to ground and wade into ocean or lake waters, I cannot let go of possibility - of the possibility of birthing a new world, a new life - a different way of being with the world, and in the world...

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YouTube - "My Heart Dwells in Possibility:
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ET Phone Home!

I had not intended to title this post in this way, but it seems perfect actually!

The last few days I've found myself moping around, feeling sorry for myself for various reasons, and then - as often happens in these situations, I came across a quote that I totally resonated with and which reminded me of something Frans Stiene, my Reiki teacher would most likely say. 

It is a quote by the great Buddhist teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche:

"Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart,
and at the same time the power and vision
of the Great Eastern Sun. 
Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea."

Life is about balance. We cannot live our lives devoid of sadness and pain, but as two of my weekly prayer buddies observed this afternoon, it is about being able to step back and look at things without being caught up in the drama - or viewing things with the dispassion and detachment I've spoken of recently in my posts here, that makes the difference in our lives. And that is one of meditation's many gifts.

I very much related to this quote. When I read it this morning, it spoke directly to my heart. It was embedded in a newsletter, by Pema Chödrön, that was just as equally insightful. I felt naked in her presence - as if she were staring at me and speaking specifically to me. 

She ended her short but poignant essay with these words:

"If you can live with the sadness of human life 
(what Rinpoche often called the tender heart 
or genuine heart of sadness), 
if you can be willing to feel fully 
and acknowledge continually your own sadness 
and the sadness of life, 
but at the same time not be drowned in it, 
because you also remember the vision 
and the power of the Great Eastern Sun, 
you experience balance and completeness, 
joining heaven and earth, 
joining vision and practicality."

My Reiki Teacher, constantly speaks of the Reiki meditation practices he has taught us, which are Buddhist in origin, as practices that truly join the realms of heaven and earth, and enable us to experience that place of oneness where healing and connection with others can take place. (I assure you - he is much more eloquent in this description!)

I stared at this paragraph, knowing I had allowed myself to wallow in the sadness, even drowning in it, all the while knowing what it was that I was doing - refusing to acknowledge and remember the Light that is my true essence - but is also at the heart and essence of everyone under the Great Eastern and Western Sun as well! In this place where the suns collide and heaven and earth merge - we are always one, whether we see it or not!

Just as I was staring at this paragraph, telling myself I had to truly take time to masticate it, and then digest and embody it - the phone rang. (Yes, this is the ET part you've been waiting for!)

I ran into the other room to pick up the phone. (Yes, I know it's archaic - it was a landline!) 

I looked at the phone - and I saw my name on it. And the number that was calling - was my home phone number! 

What? My number was calling my number? 
I looked at it again, totally confused. 

Finally, I hit the answer button, and the line went dead.

This just did not make sense. I ran to look at my cell phone that was idly charging itself in my bedroom, totally oblivious to my confusion. It made no such call to my home phone. (No Siri did not tell me this!)

Maybe this wasn't really ET phoning home - but it was me - calling ME - on my landline!

I stopped in my tracks. And then I thought - this is a message to me. This weird experience was like someone taking me by the shoulders, shaking me and saying: 

"Hey! YOU! Yes ,you! 
Pay attention to the message that you've just been given!"

I'm still wrapping my brain around this one, but I've printed out the entire newsletter, so that I can place it in my heart, to let it simmer there, until its teachings truly become fragrant and take hold!



Friday, July 4, 2014

Befriending a Red Fox

I have seen him, every single day this week...

This beautiful, but thin red fox on his long sturdy legs...

I think he calls for me. And I listen. I feel impelled to go out when I think he is there, in the wooden sanctuary and its clearing, just a stone's throw away from my home. I think we connect somewhere - on some level, on some plane...

This is something totally new for me...

We stare each other down. We dance around each other...

I approach him from behind and he does not sense my presence. So I muster a little cough to alert him. He stands. He examines me.

I offer him Reiki - spiritual energy and healing energy as well - I speak to him - mind to mind and heart to heart and tell him I am his friend. My hands feel electric. I  feel the energy literally pouring out of me...

My friend who work with animals tells me you must offer them the energy and they will take what they need. In time, they will teach you what you need to know for they are filled with wisdom...

Recently he came into my yard and sat under the shade of a grove of trees in my yard as I was teaching yoga. I'm sure he was soaking in the lovely energy of the group. He seemed tired. Unwell. Though recently he seems much better...

Often he seems to be sunning himself on the wooden bridge spanning over the wetlands. Once I turned around while he lazily poked up his head. The second time I did not. I just stood there, trying to decide whether to turn back or go forward. We meet often on this bridge. I'm sure that is symbolic. Eventually he skirted away.

I know there is a reason I am seeing him right now, in my life...

A friend tells me that foxes are special and that he is my power animal, watching over me...

And so I look up what a fox symbolizes, and I find this...

"Fox spirit appears in Dreamtime in order to spark our imagination and inner wisdom. His gifts are shape shifting, alertness and unpredictability. The key is to be clever enough to see a situation, not as we wish it to be, but as it IS. Fox spirit is the grand problem solver. He teaches us to remain in solitude and silence until the way out is shown to us. The key is to see that isolation does not equal punishment – in actuality, it initiates our freedom."

And I also find that foxes bring favor from the Gods, and teach one how to be invisible - how to be still and very quiet - and how to eat well. They only eat when they need, knowing what is good medicine for them...

I am hoping that some day I can dance with this fox and that we can bow to each other, in closer proximity, without fear...

I growing to love this little fox...

Monday, June 30, 2014

Choosing Joy: Redux

I end this month, as I began it - reminding myself to choose joy...

Choosing joy was the focus of the free 90 second meditation I posted yesterday on several social media platforms - it was an invitation layered over an inspirational exhortation that a dear friend artistically created, and which I borrowed.

I do not just end this month with this thought and practice, but I set the intention to carry it forward - beyond this moment in time, as ripples spreading concentrically from the stillness of its center...

I reminded others, while subbing yoga classes yesterday, that they too, can always to choose joy.

We can choose joy - we can choose to embody and reflect joy in everything we say and do, even while in the midst of life's most difficult challenges. We should not abdicate our joy for anything - or anyone! For in so doing, we give alway our power and ultimately our very essence.

I practiced choosing joy over the last few days - first by reflecting on the Reiki Precepts, knowing full well that most of the drama I encounter in life simply proves to be illusory. 

I told myself, I would not let anyone's state of mind or being rob me of my own joy. Yes, I know it is easier said than done. But here's the thing: The more we practice joy - like anything else in life - the more we can embody it...

Today, and everyday, I choose joy.

I chose joy at the beginning of this month. And I choose it again at the end. 

Let me remember always, that when I choose joy, I change my corner of the world. I illuminate every dark room, one flickering spark of light and love at a time. I can choose joy always with dispassion. Without attachment. I can simply let go of the rest: Expectations. Desired outcomes. Needy friends. Relationships that do not serve. Work that does not enhance my life. Practices that do not nourish my spirit.

And what could possibly be more freeing?

Yes! I choose joy!
(To be continued!)

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