February 01, 2018
Chasing Rabbits, Dark Holes, and Other Forms of Suffering
Our minds are like dogs running through the fields chasing rabbits. Just as any small animal darting across the field, or up a tree, catches their attention, the unbridled mind pursues every thought that arises, without discrimination. If we think it up, the mind chases it down. There are thoughts we really don’t need to think, however, and some that lead us down dark rabbit holes. One of the most challenging aspects of personal growth is learning which rabbits to chase, and which to let go.
Our thoughts craft the contours of our lives. Since most of our emotions are elicited by our thinking, the thoughts we choose to think strongly affect how we feel. A person may have voices that, for example, although designed to help them avoid further pain, actually cause more. Addictions have a seductive voice that says, “Hey! Come on, follow me, this will make you feel better!” When we let our minds grasp this thought, and engage in it emotionally, we are off and running. Doubt has a voice that says “Oh no, you can’t do that.” There are paranoid voices that keep us in fear, and victim voices that allow us to rage. When we chase after these thoughts, seduced by their call, we find ourselves taken down into dark passageways. More thoughts await us there, thoughts that beat us up for having listened, thoughts that evoke dark emotions that bring on even darker thoughts. Once we engage, we become tangled in an underworld of knotted roots that refuses to let us go. This is our suffering.
January 01, 2018
Pride and Power
There is much talk about owning our power these days. From spiritual teachings we find our power lies in our authenticity and willingness to surrender our agendas to an intelligence beyond our own. There is also the will of ego, however, based on a need for personal gain and status. While spiritual power requires getting out of our own way, this kind of “power” is driven by pride, and lends itself toward abuse. When someone is spiritual, but has not done their personal work, sometimes the two are confused.
Pride, at its best, is a positive sense of self. We are proud that we are the first one in our family to graduate from college, for example. While good self esteem is essential, pride has an uncanny capacity for over indulgence and abuse. In fact it is considered one of the seven deadly sins. At its worst, pride seductively lures us in to defend our inadequacies, at any price. We may choose to lie, or fight dirty, for example, just to claim a victory. While we have won the argument, at what cost is this to our soul? Feeling dirty, we look for another win, and so it goes.
December 01, 2017
Intimacy: Bridges Not Walls
It is often said that what we do on a personal level defines how our lives play out as a culture as well. After all, every culture is a reflection of the individuals within it. If we look at our communities right now, we see many people grappling with hate and fear. Divisiveness and anger are erupting within them, lines are being drawn, walls erected. Even weapons are being drawn. At the root of all this divisiveness is fear.
Fear permeates our personal lives as well. It can cripple emotional intimacy if we let it, much like it is undermining our country’s ability to unite. In our personal lives we usually seek out relationships that we can be “ourselves” in. We begin this process from behind a friendly facade we have constructed. It is an amalgam of the parts of ourselves we think are socially acceptable, and the fear based coping mechanisms we have developed to ensure we will not be hurt again. While this persona is safe, it is also lonely, as it negates our vulnerabilities.
November 01, 2017
Loving Your Monster
Many of us have a part of ourselves that lurks in the shadows, grumbling and rattling its chains, looking for a way out. It can be a nasty, jealous beast, perhaps even rageful at times. We don’t want this to be part of us, however, as it makes us unlovable. So we chain it down in our cellars, and cultivate colorful flowers of positivity in its place, and other personality topiary that makes us look exceptional.
It is important to realize that these monsters we have created ourselves. They are not evil demons that possess our souls, they come from the depths of our psyches. While demons have their realm, these monsters are unacknowledged parts of ourselves that have no outlet for expression. Aspects of our personality that are socially taboo, such as being “too” insecure, sensitive, or emotional, have no place in our culture, so we pack them away. When our sensitivity becomes too much, our emotions run too high, or we feel especially small, these repressed parts burst through to the surface, to our horror.
October 01, 2017
Deserving and Entitlement
Entitlement is a self imposed claim on recognition, a flag in the ground stating I deserve special treatment. Perhaps we are smarter than everyone else, or maybe more spiritually awakened. Maybe our spiritual teachings even say we are more entitled. You may believe your social status, gender, or race, sets you apart. Your choices on what you eat, or do not eat, may give you that notch above the rest. Perhaps it is the kind of car you drive. You may even think you have earned differential treatment because you have worked so very hard to get it.
Another way people feel entitled is through wounding. They have suffered more than another, so they deserve a break. They deserve retribution. This kind of entitlement is insidious, it floats beneath our conscious thought, motivating behavior and clouding our judgement. It becomes that chip on our shoulder that justifies bad behavior. The world owes us something for all of the pain we have endured. We deserve compensation.
September 01, 2017
Walking In Beauty
A million things call out to be done before the day ends, and then it all starts up again tomorrow. Your life has routine, a rhythm, and it sweeps you up and pushes you along. You have a roof over your head and food to eat, so on you persevere, feeding the beast, doing what it takes, but ultimately, it sucks a little bit of life from you each day.
Even when we do stop and take a breath we are most often thinking about what comes next, or how to improve on what we already have. We go to a yoga class to relax, and find ourselves needing to master that next yoga pose, or we sit down to meditate and wonder if we have reached the furthest dimension of the astral planes yet. We are doers living lives aimed at accomplishment, and we are striving for success. Until we stop and find the beauty in it, however, we will have very little peace.
Beauty is not just an aesthetic, but it is a vibration, the resonance inside of a moment. It is a sensation that stops us in our tracks with its radiance and transports us to another realm. It is inspiration, an experience of pure essence, a transient state of breathless perfection, that exists just outside of time. Integrating positivity with negativity, a wholeness of darkness and light, beauty is a transcendent dance with the senses.
August 01, 2017
The Liar’s Shame
There are truths we just do not want to speak aloud. Sometimes we think they will hurt someone, so we lie. Other times we do not want to face the consequences of an action we took, or who we are for taking it. Alternatively, we want something, like a job or a date, and we aren’t going to get it if we tell the truth. And then there is the lying by omission, things we don’t admit to, to keep the peace. “Speaking your truth,” is more about finally expressing an opinion than it is negating the truth. This is about honesty. While some lies are white, others grey, some lies are bold faced black lies. Whatever the color is, it creates shame within you to tell it. Like clouds of yellow smoke, this shame sits between you, and yourself, tarnishing your honor.
Telling the truth takes courage. People’s feelings might get hurt, or we might not look good. We may tell ourselves we will tell the them the truth later when they, or we, are stronger and can handle it. Bonding, however, occurs through having true and authentic exchanges. When we lie to someone so they will still love us, or feel better about us, we can no longer trust in that love. It is a reality braced by the scaffolding of lies. We want a person who accepts who we truly are, warts and all.
July 01, 2017
But Can You Receive Love?
It can be a long and grueling path through forgiving ourselves for all our transgressions and imperfections, to truly loving ourselves. That done, however, it is an entirely different matter to actually receive that love. Many of the most giving people are locked behind walls of their own making, blocking out the world, living in dire emotional poverty.
There are many reasons people cannot receive. For some, it makes them feel selfish. They have been taught to put everyone else first, to think of themselves last. While this is a very noble pursuit, it is not healthy. There is never an end to that line of people who should come before them. Eventually they feel spent and used. Further, when we can only give, we attract people who, through their own limitations, can only take. Perhaps they have a sense of entitlement, feeling that the world owes them in some way, or perhaps they worry that their offerings are too humble to give. They may also be wounded, and feel endlessly in need of the love and attention that was never afforded them. Regardless of how it shows up, when we are out of balance, either way, we draw in our mirror images.
June 01, 2017
Beyond Talk Therapy
A psychological counselor can be an invaluable ally when we are sorting through our emotions and looking for ways to better cope with our wounds. It is comforting to have a neutral, anonymous person to talk to, and someone who can help us root through our stuff to get a better handle on it. Why then, would you see a shamanic healer? The short answer is, you still feel wounded. Counselors work mind to mind, using their minds to interact with yours. If the root of your problem is imprinted on your soul, talking about it has limited effect.
Shamans believe soul sickness is the origin of all mental and physical illness. They operate from the principle that your body and mind are connected to, and informed by, a third body of consciousness. It is a membrane of light that surrounds your physical body, perceiving the world independently of it. People who have technically died, but who have been brought back to life, report still being very aware of their surroundings, despite their complete loss of neural activity. They also report seeing the whole event from a position outside their body.
May 01, 2017
At The Edge Of The Forest
As our legends have it, there is usually a mysterious man or woman who lives just outside the community, at the edge of the forest. They have been rumored to have strange powers, and because they are always alone, they are often feared. Rarely do they have partners, nor children, but animals are quite instinctively drawn to them. You may even see an owl or a raven perched on their shoulder, or perhaps a wolf or deer standing near their walking stick.
There is a reason they live at the edge of civilization. It is quieter there and their connection to Nature is profoundly more accessible outside the distractions of civilization. Further, they may have gifts and wisdom that don’t quite fit in with the cultural paradigms that have spawned them, so they retreat from the pressures of assimilation, and beat to the rhythm of their own drums.
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