Friday, February 3, 2012

Week of February 6, 2012—Spotting Your Reflection

Still waters reflect the truth of our heavenly and earthly selves.
This morning, after a long absence, I returned to my favorite park spot to greet the sun. What I found both surprised and comforted me...

Everything was exactly as I left it three years ago when I gave up my sunrise trips in favor of sleep and blogging. The lone pine that bravely sticks its head above the canopy of deciduous trees—daring to be an individual, daring to claim the nourishment it needs—was still there. The constant din of traffic was there, still challenging the profound underlying silence of the park. And the same glassy water was right where I left it, reflecting the beauty of the sky above.

I confess I don't know enough about rivers to know why they always seem so still at the liminal times of the day. Maybe it has to do with the moon or tides. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it has to do with passing boats. But it seems like the river's surface is calmer at dawn and dusk than it is in the middle of the day. It could just be this particular location. A few miles away at Great Falls, the river is never calm.

We're kind of like the river in our spiritual journeys, aren't we? Sometimes we're calm and still, reflecting back both the beauty that beams down from above and that which gathers around us in our lives. And sometimes we're jumbled and chaotic, reflecting back a more distorted view of our reality. We move in and out of the pocket of love, flowing with the tides and the forecast. 

Looks like a pigeon, but it's a dove.
The other day, a couple of miles upriver, someone came across two doves that had been decapitated in some sort of ritual. The article said that doves and pigeons are pretty much the same bird. "Dove" and "pigeon" are used interchangeably and not even experts agree whether there's a difference or not. But you know the difference, don't you? Doves are those pretty white birds that mate for life. And pigeons are those nasty gray ones that poop on everything. Right?

Turns out pigeons and doves reflect something back on us, too. 

Looks like a dove, but it's a pigeon.
Everywhere we look in life there's a mirror. Our friends and family reflect back our strengths and insecurities. Our words and actions reflect back our beliefs and attitudes. Even the things we don't do or say...the people we don't hang out with...reflect back on us. We may be able to successfully hide our truth from others, but no matter where we look or what we do, our truth is always looking back at us. That's both good news and bad. The bad news is that, wherever you see something you don't like, you're responsible for it being in your life. The good news is that you also have the power to change it. Even if you can't immediately change your circumstance, you can change the way you view or approach it. 

So this week, see how many mirrors you can spot in your life. What does your home say about you? Your choice of a mate? Your pets? Your job? Your response to the email you just got? The quality of your friendships? The condition of your shoes? If you see something you're not pleased with, why is it still in your life?

Moreover, check the state of your internal waters. Are they calm enough to accurately reflect back some higher aspect within you? Or are they choppy, rough and discombobulated? If they're the former, don't take that connection for granted. And if it's the latter, consider what stills you and move toward that. Ultimately, the difference between living a pigeon life and a dove life is all in the way you see it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

1/3/12-1/5/12—Checking Your Attitude at the Door

Irreverent and Slightly Jaded
Weekend Reading: Irreverent and Slightly Jaded from Illuminate! Life Transformation Cards. Here is a woman, rushing in late to the party and wearing her emotions on her sleeve. She carries herself with self-importance of a guest of honor, but she is just another invited guest. This is the person who pushes past you in the grocery line, is never ready when she says she'll be, sucks energy like a vampire and throws a fit when something doesn't go her way. We all know ugly she can be. We have all been her at one time or another. And this card comes to us this weekend to remind us that other people are just as hurried, stressed and in need as you. So behave yourself. It's not all about you. And if going out in public means you'll be inflicting your bad vibes upon others, consider staying home and doing something nice for yourself instead. We all get pulled to the end of our ropes now and again. But that doesn't mean it's OK to be a diva, behave like a victim, take it out on others or otherwise act with disregard to others. So check your attitude at the door this weekend, missy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2/2/12—Weighting the Scale in Your Soul

Today's Draw: The Chariot from the Mythic Tarot. How many conscious choices do you make in a day? How many unconscious ones do you suppose you make? What do you think you could gain by becoming more conscious of the choices you make each day?

There are many ways to read The Chariot. One meaning is about balancing forces, such as dark and light. Another way to read The Chariot is about reigning in opposing forces so everything moves forward smoothly. Some read it to mean momentum toward goals or taking control of a situation. But whenever I see this Chariot in particular, I always think about being pulled in two directions. 

In countless little ways every day, we're given the choice between moving toward our higher selves or indulging our more base desires. It's that split second choice you make when the elevator door is closing and you see someone running toward it. Whether or not you let a car merge in front of you in traffic. Whether you smile at a passer-by or divert your eyes from them. 

Every single one of those things weights one side of the invisible scale in your soul or another. It's not always a choice between your dark side and your light side. But I do think there's always an option that will lift you higher, whether it's obvious or not. 

The things we do are not the only choices we make. The things we think or say...what we choose to we respond emotionally...all those things are choices too. Most of us go through the day on automatic and maybe we won't even notice one of hundreds of choices we're making between the time we wake and the time we sleep. We just kind of go along the way we always have, not even recognizing that every choice we make is also an opportunity to feed our divine spirit. The more conscious we are of the choices we make, the more power we're able to have over our spiritual, personal, romantic, sexual, financial, familial and career trajectories.

Another thing I see in this Chariot card is like being at a fork in the road with one horse moving down one path and the other horse taking the other fork. Around the world there are human, environmental and financial shakeups pretty much everywhere you turn. When things start falling apart, it's usually a good sign that it's time to change. Some will stay at the crossroads in the rubble for as long as possible. Some will retreat back into old habits and continue to suffer shakeups. And some will move forward with a lesson learned. 

I can't explain this but to say I feel it within me each time I've written these blogs lately...the time is now. We can't sit on the fence any longer. Either we keep making the same choices or we start making more choices that lift us up and move us forward. It all starts with recognizing that you have a choice in the first place. You made probably at least a hundred—if not a thousand tiny little choices—today. How many of them were conscious? How many of them were purposely made to move you forward? 

Once you start making conscious choices, then make a habit of choosing the higher one. You won't always be 100%. That's OK. But you can decide, for example, that every time you make eye contact with someone, you will smile from now on. And if you have an off day, that's fine. But as long as you're going to move on automatic, why not move forward with the automatic choice that serves your higher self?

OK, that said, I'm going to leave you with the Cherokee story of the two wolves: 

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2/1/12—Burning Through the Veil

Today's Draw: Awareness from the Osho Zen Tarot. What do you believe are the limitations of our species and our earth? Can you see where you're attached to certain beliefs and ways of being? Are you ready to open your mind to more possibilities?

This card isn't far off what we've been talking about all week. It talks about the burning away of the veil of illusion that keeps you from seeing the yet unseen. In this card, as the veil burns away, it takes with it the anxiety and trauma of man's existence, revealing the face of a young buddha. As man becomes more aware and enlightened, the more pure and and at peace he becomes. 

In the Hindu language, this veil of illusion is called "maya". It comes from a Sanskrit word that means "create". It is interesting to note that this word also signifies a member of the Mayan culture or the language that they speak. Interesting, because their whole culture is shrouded in a veil that we have yet to burn through...a veil that MAY (or may not) be partially lifted by the end of this year.

In Buddhism, awareness is heightened by detachment. As humans, we are attached to feelings, outcomes, memories, hopes and other people. Because of this attachment, we can't see clearly. Everything is painted by our perspective and by the "stake" we have in it. 

The Osho teaching that goes along with this card reads:
Mind can never be intelligent - only no-mind is intelligent. Only no-mind is original and radical. Only no-mind is revolutionary - revolution in action.

This mind gives you a sort of stupor. Burdened by the memories of the past, burdened by the projections of the future, you go on living - at the minimum. You don't live at the maximum. Your flame remains very dim.

Once you start dropping thoughts, the dust that you have collected in the past, the flame arises - clean, clear, alive, young. Your whole life becomes a flame, and a flame without any smoke. That is what awareness is.
If you're someone who gets their best ideas in the car, in the shower, upon waking or right before drifting off, then you understand the intelligence of "no mind". When driving, we often drift into a form of meditation. The repetitive, ritual action of showering can also bring us to that state. I know that I often get ideas the second I step away from the keyboard. But when we're fixated on something from the past or worrying about what we'll say in our meeting, there's really no room for original thought. 
This card embodies the peace of meditation for me. 

So "no mind", which can certainly arise from meditation, and detachment can help us burn through the veil. And while you're having no-mind and detachment, that also means you're not judging the ideas that arise from the void. You shed what you know and open to the entire spectrum of possibility. Otherwise you're still holding up a veil of preconceived notions. 

I don't want to get into a discussion of meditation, primarily because we've discussed it before and I know there are people out there who insist they can't do it. But certainly meditation is a clear path to "no mind". And you need to detach from the idea that you can't do it in order to get there. 

Another way to consider "no mind" is to become the witness, as if you're floating high above yourself and witnessing your surroundings. The meditation I suggested the other day is a good practice for developing the witness as well as for dealing with a restless mind. 

Burning through the veil is important because, as I mentioned the other day, I believe there is stuff going on out there that we don't see. And I'm not just talking about paranormal or psychic stuff either. The electromagnetic spectrum existed from the earth's beginnings, yet we didn't harness its powers—or even realize it existed—until relatively recently. Until it was harnessed, none of the technologies we rely upon today could exist. 

The chances that we've discovered everything there is to discover "out there" are pretty darned slim. And those chances will remain slim as long as we remain attached the notion of "I have to see it to believe it" or "prove it to me". Personally, I believe we have an urgent need to open our minds at this time. We're capable of so much more as individuals, as a species and as a planet. It's not about believing in the impossible. It's about suspending belief and making room for all possibilities. So consider stopping yourself at the point of doubt, "never' and "no" and part the veil just a enough to allow magic to flow in.

Monday, January 30, 2012

1/31/12—Healing With Energy

Today's Draw: The World from Tarot of the Sidhe. Have you ever had an energy healing session? Do you believe that humans can transmit universal healing energy to each other? Would you be surprised to learn that 15% of hospitals in the US offer reiki and Dr. Oz says it's his favorite alternative medicine?

The World card is about completion and wholeness...the ending of a successful journey. In this particular one, Emily Carding's image evokes the perfection and wholeness of God, nature and the universe. It speaks to a divine force or power that has come to you as a result of your spiritual journey. 

The spiral that overprints the tree in this image gave me an immediate impression of something. The same spiral is on the backs of her cards and, even though it's upside down and has more turns, it's very evocative of Cho Ku Rei, which is a symbol used in Reiki. 

Reiki (RAY•key) is a form of energy healing that channels universal life force and concentrates it for use on healing others. While this may sound like BS to some of you, it's becoming more and more accepted by the mainstream medical community. Dr. Mehmet Oz is probably the most well-known proponent of reiki and one source I found said it's now being offered in about 15 percent of hospitals nationwide, including the Cleveland Clinic, Children's Hospital in Boston and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Some of you may know the phenomenon better as "laying on of hands". Reiki is similar, but without all the drama.

Whether your issue is physical or emotional, reiki can be used to help heal it. Before anyone gets their panties in a knot, no responsible reiki practitioner or doctor would recommend you stop traditional care in favor of reiki. Reiki is usually used as a supplement to medical care. 

Reiki symbol Cho Ku Rei.
In a typical reiki session, you would visit a practitioner in their home or office, lay down on a massage table, then the practitioner would move their hands over parts of your body (usually not touching you) and send you the healing energy through their hands. What you would feel would most likely be intense heat wherever their hands were. An interesting note to reiki is that it works whether you're in the same room with the practitioner or not, so it can be transmitted over distance.

You become a reiki practitioner by being "attuned", which just means that a reiki master gives you the energy. There are three levels of reiki attunement, Reiki 1, Reiki 2 and Reiki Master. It is a skill/ability that is passed down, person by person, and there is great reverence and ceremony in the passing down. It doesn't belong to any religion, but it can be considered a spiritual practice. It is certainly always approached with that sort of reverence and respect.  

So, back to Cho Ku Rei. There are many symbols reiki practitioners use, whether they picture them in their head or draw them on their hand with their finger, to address different circumstances. And the Cho Ku Rei symbol is like the light switch that turns the power on. 

There are many different kinds of energy medicine other than reiki. Each month I receive two energy healings, each of which is intended to help me maintain an emotional and spiritual recharging my spirit. One session is a form of reiki and I get that over the phone, the other is a form of music energy healing I receive in person. No matter how I feel entering these sessions, I feel much better upon leaving them. They do shift my moods. And the one I do over the phone....she used to live locally, but moved. There is no difference in the effect now that we do it over the phone.

Magick Moonbeam swears by reiki for curing hiccups.
I've never used energy healing for a physical issue, but I once took a class from a man who had his own form of energy healing that he taught. I was more skeptical back then, so I asked him to do something I could feel. He put one hand behind me at my ribs and when he put his other hand in front of me, I SWEAR it was like he threw a baseball through my gut. I didn't imagine it. He sent a ball of energy through me so intense I could not only feel it, but I could tell you its size and shape. It made me catch my breath. Since then I've become attuned to reiki and have taken a few other energy healing classes. 

Anyway, in this past weekend's post, I said that once you create a space within you to allow for new possibilities, you begin to see and recognize things you didn't know were possible before. If you're not familiar with energy healing, maybe this is a good time to consider it, along with other alternative healing methods like acupuncture, guided imagery, meditation or therapeutic massage. If you're not getting the results you want from traditional medicine or treatment alone, it may be worth the try.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

1/30/12—Walking in Your Own Shadow

Today's Draw: The Ace of Pentacles from Tarot in the Land of Mystereum by J. Jordan Hoggard. What special gift, voice, talent, skill or perspective do you think you have? How does that gift show itself in your everyday life, if at all? What seed has been planted within you that is only now pushing forth into the light?

In the Imagination Primer, the book that comes with this deck, Jordan Hoggard defines the Ace as an idea that will bring an exciting opportunity to use your assets. And he mentions that every apple seed contains within it an entire tree full of fruits. That, like that seed, we have the potential to be both tiny and large at the same time. And that each seed will grow into a unique tree offering its fruit in a unique way...some will have low branches with easily picked fruit, for example, while others will need to be shaken in order to release their fruits.

I think a lot of us dream too small in our lives. We can't all be Oprah, and we need every size dream to keep the world running. But I think many of us compromise our true desires in favor of something "safe", "realistic" or something that won't hurt so much if we don't get it. And though the Ace of Pentacles might suggest this is about our work lives, I think we tend to suppress our true desires in all areas of our lives. We have sex one way because we don't know how—or are embarrassed to—ask for it another way. We don't pursue certain hobbies because we're afraid we're not talented enough. We cook the same meals over and over again, because we're afraid to fail at another way.

As far as career goes, I believe we all come here with a special skill, voice, eye, ear, talent or passion. We all have our unique way of expressing that, too. Yet so many of us set that thing aside in favor of making a certain wage, because we were told our dream was silly, out of fear of success/failure or because we were never even encouraged to look for our unique gift in the first place.

In Julia Cameron's legendary book, The Artists Way, she talks about people who are "shadow artists". They're the people who may work in the same industry as their passion, for example, but who don't do the job they really want to do. So it's the camera man who dreams of being an actor or the curator who'd love to be an artist. Or you might have a hobby you love, but for one reason or another don't make it your life's work. So it's the lawyer who waits each year for the lawn and garden show because he'd rather be a landscaper. Many years back I did advertising for a Master's Degree at Night program for a local university and was surprised to find the Landscape Architecture degree was big with people like lawyers.

So this begs the question, how many of us are pursuing our parent's dreams for us? How many believe there is nothing unique about us? How many have chosen money/security over what we REALLY want to do? And how many underestimate what we're capable of?

I've always felt fortunate because, growing up, there were only three things I wanted to be—an actress, a veterinarian and a writer. I didn't want to work hard enough to be a vet and, truth be told, dogs are the only domesticated animal I like. So it really wasn't for me. And I pursued the acting all through college, only to realize it wasn't for me, either. Until recently, the only kind of writer I've wanted to be was an advertising writer. And I've gotten to do that for 25 years. 

Now, if I'm completely honest, I'd say I'd like to have had a different career as an advertising copywriter. For example, I think I'm my best when writing for radio and TV, but I didn't pursue my career to the extent I needed to in order to be able to do more of that. I'd say there was a really good, say, 5-7 year stretch of my career that it was everything I wanted it to be, but between the energy level required to keep it going and other issues, I let myself slip back into a comfort zone. 

For probably the last 12-15 years, though, I've had a shadow career poking at that comfort zone. At first it was seed....a quiet whisper in my head. And, like a seed, it's been doing a lot of work under the surface for much of that time, only to relatively recently poke its sprout out of the ground. The first poke was when I started writing these blogs. But even they were shadows, because what I really want to be doing is more along the lines of the nature ones I've been posting the last couple of weeks. And the dream isn't to be a blogger, but to be a full-on writer and spiritual teacher/thinker.

So, this is what the Ace of Pentacles is coming to us to question within ourselves. Are we using the unique gift or voice that we were given in this lifetime? And if not, why? What seed is germinating beneath our surface? For how long? And are we walking through this life in the full light of our potential? Or in the safety of our own shadow?