Sunday, December 15, 2013

12/16/13—Moving the Needle

Today's Draw: Four of Wands from the Greenwood Tarot. How have the situations and people you love changed your life? How different would your life be today if the most beloved person in your life had never been born? Are you capable of holding a loving space in your heart for the least beloved in your life that's as big and fluffy as the one you hold for the most loving?

Last Thursday we talked about being grateful, really just for being human and getting to touch, taste, feel, smell, see and hear. I just had an image of Ironman pop into my head. You know how his suit flies out of nowhere to lock around his body, conforming to every curve? And the suit gives him super powers? Well, our bodies do the same thing for our souls. Our bodies give our souls superpowers with which to experience this incredible planet and way of living. 

Today's draw is about showing gratitude for the more mundane things that make up a life—home, health, family, friends and the elements. The card is titled "Celebration". At times like Thanksgiving and Christmas we acknowledge these things and then most of us take them for granted the rest of the year. 

The movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" tells the story of George Bailey, who is shown what life would be like if he'd never been born. You'd pretty much have to be raised in a box full of lemurs to not be familiar with the story. It shows the impact each ordinary, everyday human being has on the world around them. Most of the stuff George was shown was stuff anyone might do, normal stuff that nonetheless changed the lives of everyone around him. 

We can't really do that for ourselves, because it would require stepping outside of ourselves and seeing how we've impacted others. We really have no clue. But what we CAN do is look at the people and things in our lives and see how they've impacted us. How has a friend changed your life simply by being? What has a neighbor opened your eyes to? How has your spouse positively impacted your life? 

And while we're at it, what challenges has your house brought out for you? What has your current job taught you? What does it mean to live in the country you live in? 

Twenty years ago I bought a convertible to complement the part of me that loves the wind in my hair and across my face. It's a little Honda del Sol. And it is so much fun to drive. It rarely leaves its parking space today, because I have another car that I drive most of the time. But I don't get rid of the Honda for a number of reasons. One of them is the sheer joy I feel when I get behind the wheel. I've had accidents in this car and gotten tickets. It's got a number of quirks. It's not "like new" by any stretch of the imagination. But it never fails to put a smile on my face. And I am incredibly grateful for that. 

And that's what the Four of Wands has come to ask us today—to take time to acknowledge and be grateful for the people and things that make up this life of yours. To ask yourself, "how would I be different if this person, thing or situation had never come into my life?" 

If you want to earn Spiritual Awesomeness Extra Credit Points®, then after you're done really considering every beloved element of your life, consider the more neutral elements. And then the things you don't like. This is how Buddhist Metta or Loving Kindness meditations are done. Recently I've been struck as to how tightly people like to hold on to their hates and grudges. It's a recent observation, because it's only recently that I've let go and learned how to start putting them down myself...haha. But doing my first Loving Kindness meditation maybe as much as 10 years ago opened my eyes to the release this practice brings. 

Basically, you visualize encountering the person you love most and genuinely opening your heart to embrace them and wish them well. Then you do the same for the next most beloved person. Then someone you just kinda love. Then someone neutral. Then someone who's an adversary. It can get quite emotional as you observe the pains and resentments you hold as you struggle to find the same love in your heart for someone you dislike. The payoff, though is freedom. Also, I'm someone who thinks there are more constructive ways of solving conflict than war and murder. And I had to ask myself, "how can I expect entire countries to explore more peaceful ways to resolve conflict if I can't even do it myself in regards to my own relatively petty disputes? Am I willing to continue being part of the problem?" 

There's a lot to learn and be grateful for every which way we turn. But we don't get the effect if we phone it in or just don't do the work. I feel like society in general keeps hitting up against a wall in our collective spiritual evolution because, as a collective, we're not willing to give up our hates and resentments. We want to even scores and exact revenge. 

Remember how records used to skip? Your favorite song would reach a certain point and then skip in the same place over and over again until you would manually move the needle? That's where I see humans in our spiritual evolution. Skipping over and over again because nobody wants to stop proving their point long enough to move the needle. My first Metta meditation was hard and there were years between, but now I'm trying to get to the other side of the skipping needle to experience the part of life's song I never got to before. 

It begins easily enough with loving the lovers. Then the "eh" people, situations and things. But the record doesn't stop skipping until you take the challenge to soften and open your heart to those people and things that cause you pain and genuinely wish them a happy life. People without personal or spiritual awareness are less likely to be the first to move the needle. So it's up to us. Are you wiling to lead others to the other side through your example?


  1. I try to be consciously grateful every day. I try not to gossip or speak slander but to do this kind of meditation is hard. I wouldn't know if it would be genuine if I did this

  2. I remember how hard the meditation was the first time. My reluctance to open my heart to my brother (who I was in conflict with at the time) really struck me. I did it, but only for the meditation and I was crying the whole time. Just that told me a lot about myself and made me look harder at who I am vs. who I think I am and want to be. Then I stopped looking at myself in that way for a long time, because I knew I'd see me failing myself. But even just that made me loosen my grip on the fight, regardless of who it involved. Even now I hold on to crap, but for less and less time. And some "infractions" are immediately dropped. And I forgive myself all has to begin somewhere. And trying and finding you're not being genuine is the perfect place to start. It's the not trying at all that guarantees nothing will ever change in that regard. BTW, I'll bet there are some guided ones on youtube. The one I did was on a CD from Pema Chodron. Then I just did it myself from then on.

    1. I've found:"Guided Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation with Sharon Salzberg". Perhaps I will try it. Maybe I fear my own emotions the most. But you are so right if I don't try nothing changes. and fear rules (again) And isn't this the perfect season to try this out

  3. She's a great teacher. OMG, I saw her once in person with Krishna Das and they talked about their hippie days together. So funny. And then just when you were laughing, their tales would reveal a deep lesson of some sort that they learned from their guru. That was the night I met Richard Gere. Here's the story:

    Anyway, what you say about fear is true. It dissipates with this practice. :)

    1. That was an amazing story; almost too good to be true.:)
      I like to listen to Krishna Das too. He has such a beautiful deep vibration in his voice.
      Happy to know I've picked the right teacher. YouTube is loadedwith Buddhist video's

    2. I know. But I had a witness! :D And I can't remember if I put it in the story, but Richard Gere was very gracious. He left the concert early and on his way out he made a point to make eye contact with me and nodded to me as he passed by.

      I have very few movie star crushes, but Richard Gere was one and Mel Gibson another and I've met both. Just by chance. Mel Gibson was sitting in a common area (but a quiet part) of a swanky hotel downtown. He was smoking and I was out of cigarettes. (This was 20 years ago when you could smoke inside.) I really thought I was bumming a cigarette from a guy that *looked* like Mel Gibson. But when I walked over to the table to bum the cigarette, it became clear from the way his entourage was reacting that this was Mel Gibson. But I didn't go up to him and say "are you Mel Gibson?" I just went and said, "Excuse me, can I bum a cigarette?" And he gave me one (and sounded like Mel Gibson) and was very nice and they were all looking at me like, "did you really just do that like you don't know who you are talking to?" But like I said, I wasn't sure it was him until I was in the thick of it, so I didn't know enough to gush. Anyway, I found out the next day from reading the paper that he was indeed in town and staying at the hotel I was at.

      Anyway, if you get a chance to see Krishna Das or Deva Premal or Snatam Kaur, I've seen all of them. They all come to DC every year for a concert and all are well worth the price of admission. My favorite of the three is Deva Premal.

    3. DC is a little out of the way. Perhaps when one of them is visiting my country Until then I will satisfy myself with YouTube :D

    4. Thank you so much! I am totally captivated by the beautiful voice of Deva Premal