Being a Spiritual Couch Potato

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Do you ever get discouraged by what you perceive as not growing spiritually? Are you so frustrated that you begin spending more and more time online with social media, watching a little bit too much tv, wandering around your house doing little bits and pieces of jobs needing to be done but never quite finishing them?

Maybe you regard your attempts at meditation as unsuccessful when they'd been so easy before. Or perhaps you have lost interest in reading spiritually inspiring books or articles.

A very important and essential part of the transformational process is learning to sense when it's time to back off, rest, turn your attention to something other than pushing your spiritual growth. These times are what I call plateaus, which are opportunities and necessary halts to the conscious workings of our beliefs about how much we're evolving.

Sometimes it's the ego that sends us messages of self-judgment that makes us perceive our progress as wasted, useless, and unimportant. But other times, it's not necessarily the ego's influence. It can be a strong pull from our inner guidance to surrender to the plateau and its healing, harmonizing, transforming, and wise "stoplight" on our path.

The task is to become aware that when we begin to do what we might consider going off track, that it actually may be that we're being directed to allow all the work we've done on ourselves to percolate, to ripen, to mellow.

So the next time you feel guilty about watching that tv show while eating your favorite snack and relaxing on the couch, ask yourself if it's truly "Couch Potato-ism" or rather your inner wisdom drawing you into a natural cycle, much the same as ocean waves, the seasons, and the rising and setting of our sun.

 Enjoy that couch!

The Alchemical Change of Perception

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The most difficult thing that we are being offered at this time of global challenge is to stay in a consciousness of unity and love. We are in a new kind of revolution, which is an opportunity to use the power of love instead of hate, which has never worked in any society. We can look at political leaders, heads of corporations, destroyers of the environment and see them as demonic enemies. Or we can raise our consciousness to one that is far more true, and see them as parts of ourselves - as Elizabeth Kubler Ross used to say, "We all have a Mother Teresa and a Hitler within us - it's who we choose to be that makes all the difference." This is an amazing opportunity to raise our vibration and move into what we've all, yes all, wanted, which is happiness, self-respect, meaningful ways to express our gifts and talents, and love. This is a time for healing the issues on our planet by healing ourselves, being courageous enough to realize where we hate, where we reject, where we are dishonest - all within ourselves. That healing radiates to every form of life here on Earth and in the universe and has profound effects. This opportunity to make deep, important inner changes can make the difference as to whether or not we survive as a species. The ancient alchemical woodcut picture here depicts a man who is sleeping and is commanded to wake up by his higher self, the alchemist within all of us who can use the power of thought to make remarkable changes. Namasté

Being Faithful

What do you envision when you hear the word, “faith?” Perhaps you picture a monk in constant prayer, or someone who sets aside worldly concerns for the sake of spiritual experience. Maybe you imagine a person who has unrealistic ideals. What does the word evoke in you? Have you had challenges where nothing helped but faith in an ineffable something?

In his thought-provoking book, The Mystical Christ, Manley P. Hall defines mysticism as “...a conviction, deriving its authority from the natural instincts of the human heart.” He goes on to say that mysticism helps us to bridge the distance between ourselves and the Divine, and that this is done through faith.

I began contemplating the concept of faith from a mystical, non-religious standpoint. Faith seems almost foreign in our technological society. Many of our organized religions pass faith down to us as an impersonal encounter and we may therefore be disinterested in following it any further.

As I continued to delve into what faith is, I realized that it is something that must emerge organically and mysteriously (i.e., not having any logical explanation). It is that ineffable something that arises out of challenge, trauma, suffering, or deep loss. When our hearts or bodies break, or our minds are filled with confusion, or we find we have nowhere to turn, that is when faith emerges from the depths - and not from the depths “out there” somewhere, but from within us. We discover it was there all the time as a natural and instinctive part of being a Soul living a human life. I believe faith is the “communication software” that connects the Soul to our human aspects.

A few months ago, I experienced a severe cat bite on my left hand. Since I am left-handed, and am a writer and artist, using only my right hand was quite a challenge. Also, it was a shock when I discovered how long this type of injury takes to heal and what hard work is involved in the recovery process. At first, I despaired of ever having a normal hand again. It was quite a frightening thought. But because I’ve learned that fear can be quite an ally if I listen to it and then take action, I began to fight to regain the full use of my hand again. This process was to ultimately my faith in that invisible stuff of which all of life is made, without error or conditions. As my hand responded to my communications of love and appreciation, it showed progressive signs of healing. That increased my faith in the miracle of the intelligence of the human body. That, in turn, created an exponential faith in other parts of my life as well. I began experiencing a decrease in worry and other bothersome habits, an increase in joyousness about life as well as being alive, and a renewed passion for my work as a healer-teacher. I noticed an appreciation of physically-challenged people. I began taking joy in all the little things I could do each day with my hand. It was a sort of “stopping and smelling the roses” exercise. Buttering a slice of hot bread became a delicious victory and amazement at the delicate workings of the hand and the vast intelligence of the maker of hands and all things.

When we neglect the wondrous offerings in challenges and sufferings by believing in only the trouble itself, we miss out on the incredible bliss of the call of faith. Hall says faith emerges as reason fails and I can attest to the truth of that: my usually adept intellect had nothing to contribute to my feelings about the potential of losing use of my hand. There was only one place for me to go - and that was toward faith. Faith while I walked this precarious and mysterious path. Faith while doctors and hand therapists poked and pulled. Faith when “helpful” people shared their horror stories of cat bites and lifelong disabilities.

The faith that grew as my hand healed was most definitely orchestrated by my heart. In turn, that faith helped to open my heart to an even greater degree. Dancing on the mystical bridge between self and the Divine makes me smile at how unique are our calls to the bridge.

Clean Catbox, Carry Groceries

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How much time do you set aside daily for your spiritual practices? Can’t do it daily? How about the weekend? Can you meditate before you mow the lawn? Or what about your plans to do a Shamanic Journey but then the phone rings? Do you get frustrated with all the things that seem to intrude upon your well-made spiritual plans?

Recently, I decided to create a daily, weekly, and monthly agenda to help myself be better organized and thereby accomplish more of the tasks I need to do, thereby freeing to meditate, read and contemplate. I felt pleased when I completed the first week’s worth of planning and was about to begin that day’s work when the phone rang and I was offered an opportunity to write an editorial for a local newspaper. There was not a moment of hesitation on my part - I truly wanted to write it - BUT how was I going to write the piece, whose deadline was the next day, as well as completing work on EarthSpirit Center’s latest Schedule of Events, writing ad copy for several magazines, and doing my counseling work. THEN I realized I hadn’t even cleaned the catbox, nor did I see my way clear to running down to the local Trader Joe’s to restock my dwindling food supplies. I began to feel totally overwhelmed, fuming that I don’t have a secretary or office manager, that my personal errands will never get done, etc. I began pouting that my “spiritual” work would have to be put on the back burner while I dealt with these annoying little duties.

Then I stopped, looked at what I was doing, and began to chuckle. My higher self was reminding me that nothing I do could be considered not spiritual. I remembered that it is only my sluggish self that chooses to believe that certain things aren’t worthwhile, that only those things bright with light and heavenly voices are valuable to my growth. I laughed because I know from much experience that I wouldn’t grow at all if I waited for those kinds of experiences to the exclusion of the ones that are true grist for our sacred mills.

As I calmed myself, took a break for a cup of tea, then set about my tasks once more with a different attitude. I gave thanks for the so-called “unimportant” things - like cleaning the catbox or changing bedsheets. They serve the same purpose as a walking meditation in that they help me to regain my focus. When my work is interrupted by a call from one of my daughters asking for my advice, I can choose to be annoyed or I can remind myself that that’s exactly what I’m here for! The daily chores or intrusions offer me a grand opportunity to make changes in my attitude or actions. This contributes strongly to my overall growth and awareness, as well as to my capacity for understanding, compassion, and service to others.

The most humbling, and thereby effective, part of all of this is that it gives me a clear look at the ego’s expectations of spiritual experience - cleaning the catbox needn’t be accompanied by a snarling expletive unless my ego believes I shouldn’t have to do such a demeaning task. If I can view it as a sacred act, I increase my willingness to deal with all aspects of life, and therefore experience more joy, understanding, and most importantly, the cosmic joke on me! Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that in order for a rose to become its beautiful self, it needs fertilizer! Enough said - the catbox is calling!

The Gift of Creativity

 Image by Alex Grey

Image by Alex Grey

The greatest gift we've been given is creativity and it is a reflection of the ineffable force that created us. To be given a magnificent tool that we can use freely in whatever ways we choose is like a student who has been trained in a particular craft and then sent out into the world to use it. All forms of life use what is given through creative action. The Divine, or Eternal, Presence brings forth high realms of being, the creation happens in that realm, and what is created then becomes the creator, perhaps in a devic or angelic realm. Then what it creates becomes yet another realm of existence, now maybe the realm of Souls and Soul groupings who, in turn, create. The Souls can then create physical form and personality in the human realm, and humans in turn create their lives - again, with free will and choice, for better or for worse. It is important to understand that each level of creation "steps energy down" to the next lower level *. If it did not work this way, the powerful force of higher levels of creation would, upon directly entering the human psyche and body would annihilate it, burn it up. Mystical thought tells us that there is an "etheric double"** that surrounds the human and facilitates the impact of the power of the Soul by "stepping it down" so that the relationship between Soul and physical-psychic human can function. Each level of creation creates within its own realm. The Eternal Presence does not directly create what the levels lower than Itself create. Creation always moves though many levels of consciousness so each lower level is able to accept and merge energetically with the previous one. Each level can reach into the levels above for inspiration, guidance, and transformation, but those higher levels aren't the creators of the lower levels' actions within their creative processes. The only thing that moves consistently into and through all realms is Love.
         

* The human realm is multifaceted so there are those adepts and masters who actually are able to interact with and create from the higher realms. Each degree of "stepping down" of energies of creation becomes more and more dense until it becomes physical matter. As we develop higher, more finely tuned consciousness, we become more able to reach into the higher regions of creation, gradually "stepping back up" into the higher level frequencies until such time as we no longer need to drop down into physical existence (as we "know" it).
       

 ** According to mystical traditions, the etheric double is a chaotic plasma mass that becomes organized through the intentional purpose of the Soul, combining with the necessary life experiences of the created human. Everything has an etheric double (stars, planets, trees, animals, etc.) as a outward manifestation of the creation within consciousness. 

The Intelligence of Nature

While walking this morning in my neighborhood, having longed to be in the presence of the wonderful Canada geese that frequent local ponds, I was awestruck when I heard their calls and watched 11 of them descend into the water. It’s the first time I’d seen them since early summer. It brought tears of joy to my eyes and was filled with gratitude for this gift on this first day of autumn. I don’t believe the date was coincidental – Nature’s clock is so much more accurate than ours! Happy Autumn to everyone! (The pic below is from earlier in the year with only one goose posing.)

The Cosmic Lottery

Every day, I envision happiness and consciousness evolvement for every form of life everywhere, as well as for healing and transformation for specific people and events. At times, I’ve also envisioned myself winning the California lottery, seeing it symbolically as a pyramid, with the top third representing donations to non-profits I appreciate, the middle third as things I’d like to do for my family and friends, and the lower, largest portion representing various projects I’d like to expand in the work I share as a spiritual psychologist, artist, writer, and environmental advocate.

At the same time, I’ve been reading the Prince of Wales’ (Charles) magnificent book, “Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World”. This is THE best book on the history and future potential of what we have done to our environment and to ourselves and what we can intelligently and successfully do to turn it all around. This book has affected me deeply so one morning while doing my envisioning about how I, as one person, can help, the image of the pyramid appeared again but this time, had inverted. As well, it was no longer divided into three segments. Each section was now so blended with the others that there was no difference – family, personal projects, environmental change, consciousness evolvement were all co-related. While I saw this as powerful encouragement for me to deepen and expand my purpose of Loving and Serving, I also knew that this new pyramid was connected to the archetypal image of the two triangles (or pyramids) coming together – “as above, so below”. As I continued to envision, the two pyramid images merged as one with the upper, downward pointing one representing the descent of our Eternal Source into our human experience, and the lower, upward pointing one representing the human desire to ascend to our highest potential as spiritual beings. When we look deeper into our human desires and connect them with our eternal nature, we can sense that we’ve already won the Cosmic Lottery!

 

Consumerism as Addiction

In Prince Charles’ (yes, THE Prince Charles) excellent book, “Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World”, he presents a balanced view of our collective problems in ways I’ve never considered before. I highly recommend that you read this mind-expanding and lovingly presented book.
Here’s an example of what he says about the false idea that “more” will make us happier: “Academic research has found that consumerism with its emphasis on the acquisition of more and more material goods does not for many people lead to increased happiness. It seems it does not nurture increased well-being once a certain level of comfort and security has been attained….[This] is all part of the design of consumerism, which again is a more structured ideology than you might imagine. Built into it is both means of stimulating a desire for happiness by having, and an assurance that this desire will never be completely satisfied.” The Prince goes on to quote University of Surrey Professor Tim Jackson who describes our periodic economic meltdowns to “a multi-generational debt-binge” which reflects upon our reliance on global “energy binges”. I chose the photo below as a symbol of this collective binging addiction that we all share, consciously or not. As you study the photo, be aware of how you feel about it. Then translate your feelings into the greater picture of a global addiction to a belief in having to have more and more. I see no difference between substance addiction and this addiction to the god of materialism.

Appreciating Magic

Each day I take an early morning walk in a beautiful area where I live. I always spend some extra time at my favorite of several peaceful ponds. For the past few months, I had been hearing a loud racket that echoed throughout the area. I never knew what it was or where it was coming from. One day, my attention was drawn to a huge pine tree across the pond and saw two bunches of light colored material toward the top of the tree. At first, I thought it was dead mistletoe, but then realized they were nests – huge nests! And as I studied them while still hearing the racket, I was stunned by the sudden appearance of two blue herons flying over the pond. One flew into a nest and the racket increased. I realized then that what I had been hearing were the calls of baby herons insisting on being fed. Moments later, hunger appeased, the racket ceased. The adult heron flew off the tree and sailed over toward the trees near me, where I could get a better look at these amazing birds. I learned their weight is considerable since the branches they landed on bent almost parallel to the trunk.

My heart was filled by this magical realm we call nature, where serenity was counterbalanced with vibrancy. I felt deeply moved and honored to be present in such a moment.

(The photo above is of the pond – maybe you can see the tree with the nests – it’s the light colored one.)

Independence Day

Most of us know what July 4 is all about. But when we think of Independence symbolically and metaphysically in terms of consciousness, we find a rich field of ideas from which we can evolve into greater understanding of life and our roles in it. The fireworks on this holiday are powerful symbols of the necessity in consciousness work of facing and embracing the fire within, whose gift is that of freedom. They can also represent the experience of Awakening, that moment when our Divine Spark ignites us to experience who we truly are.

So how might we explore Independence from a spiritual growth standpoint? We can start by looking at how many ways we are not independent, but instead, dependent. Here are some things to consider: How dependent are we on social media? How dependent are we on our e-devices? On beliefs from dogmatic systems? On rules of behavior made by others? On thinking only in acceptable ways? On fear? On limited expression of our uniqueness? On letting others make decisions for us? On appearance? On self-doubt? On thinking we have no power to change?

As we continue to grow in consciousness, we become more actively aware of how interdependent we are with all forms of life in the Multiverse. To celebrate our personal independence widens our scope of reality to knowing without doubt how we truly are all part of the One Eternal Source.

Being Vs. Doing

After crashing big-time in 2012 due to a lifetime of being a “workaholic”, and being forced by my burned out adrenals to stop everything, including my constant mantra of “I have to!, I have to!”, I’ve learned the fine art of being in the present moment. I’ve also become aware that we are all so much more than physical and personality aspects. Our Soul energies are huge, present in every moment, eternal, and they influence us far more than we are consciously aware. This experience has lifted me from being caught in the global fear of change and how we tend to sublimate that fear into emphasis on materiality. I believe we’ve moved into a new octave of being, which throws many of us into fear because it seems so mysterious and overwhelming. Collective fear-based beliefs influence us to accept as “fact” that change of this magnitude is bad and it’s therefore misinterpreted as disaster, punishment, or imminent annihilation. But when perceiving change from a vaster reality, it is actually the dissolution of all that blocks us from the very thing we’ve always wanted: Love. I’ve come to believe that surrendering to these new energies that have multiplied since 12/21/12, offers the opportunity to be aware of all the changes without demonizing or rejecting. This takes courage because we’re dealing with the unknown, at least the unknown as far as our conscious experience is concerned – we may have dreamed or had visions about the changes so there is a part of us that’s not surprised or daunted. So for me, resting into the now moment allows me to be a human being rather than a human doing.

DREAMS: the Night Travels of the Terrestrial Soul (Ba)

The purpose of dreaming is the gathering of tools, information, and guidance, all of which build a foundation for expanded consciousness and the potential for more conscious participation in all levels of reality. As the “Ba” (ancient Egyptian word for the terrestrial Soul, whose image is a bird with a human head, indicating our ability to move beyond physical limitations) travels from the physical body during sleep, it moves into deeper connection with karmic patterns for insight and in some cases, eventual resolution. I’ve worked with dreams since young childhood so I know the power and mystery of dreaming. “Modern” society has tended to discount and reject dreams, intuition, and expanded states of consciousness in favor of what is considered, naively, as “reality”. However, I see increasing, positive signs of open-mindedness and open-heartedness to such things due to, I believe, an ineffable shift in all levels of life. We are learning that many of the Earth changes are not only a result of human fear and ignorance of nature, but naturally occurring and cyclic anomalies within our physical environment as well as within us that are increasing in frequency and intensity. When we dream, our Soul travels within non-ordinary realities to bring back to us guidance and preparation for the changes that are exponentially happening at this time.

Consciousness + Catastrophe

In case you thought your inner work doesn’t affect us all, take a look at this: In David Wilcock’s brilliant book, “The Source Field Investigations”, he quotes Russian scientist, Alexei Dmitriev: “‘There are reasons favoring, or pointing to, the fact that a growth in the ethical, or spiritual quality, of humanity would decrease the number and intensity of complex catastrophes….It has become vitally important that a world chart be prepared, setting forth the favorable, and the catastrophic, regions on earth – taking into account the quality of the geologic-geophysical environment, the variety and intensity of cosmic influences, and the real level of spiritual-ethical development of the people occupying those areas.'”

Original Perfection

The body is the material-physical manifestation of the Soul’s intention. When the body is ill, it indicates that we have lost the connection to the Soul’s perfect idea of us. When challenges to the body or everyday life occur, I use the mantra, “Original Perfection”, and sit with the Truth of that until I can feel and imagine that Perfection. I use my body’s cellular memory and my own memory of my body’s perfect workings, telling the brain and nervous system to follow that memory of Perfection and create good health as it was originally intended and created by my Soul, to hold that feeling for a few moments, then go about my day, trusting it will continue to work, and acting “as if” often to assist the cellular memory in transforming challenge to the Original Perfection. The more I practice this, the quicker and more complete the transformation.

More Thoughts on Parallel Realities

More thoughts on Parallel Realities and Dreaming: There’s a Zen story about a man who, after having a dream in which he was a butterfly, wondered if he was actually a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Why wouldn’t the Soul (or “ba” in ancient Egyptian terminology) be unlimited in its explorations when freed of the physical body? And if this is so, there would be no “either-or” question about which reality is real. When we accept that parallel realities exist and learn to explore them with lucid consciousness, we are enhanced, expanded, deepened, and heightened.
(The beautiful butterfly photo was taken by my 8 year old granddaughter!)

On Parallel Realities in Dreams

My latest thinking about parallel realities is not testable…at least not yet. I’ve been working my whole life with dreams and now I’m considering the idea that when we dream, we are actually in a very real place and time, but different from what we usually think of as “real”. And if we dream of the same person or place several times, it may be that we’re re-visiting one particular parallel reality – and maybe, when we become more comfortable with lucid dreaming, we’ll recognize that we’re in a familiar landscape or with friends in that realm, and that we can set intention to travel there at will. Then, when we dream of somewhere new, it may be yet an additional parallel reality.

 

Workaholism

Nowadays, “workaholism” is an accepted way of living in the world. I certainly know about it and what it can do. I’ve been a workaholic my whole life, beginning as a child when I believed I had to be perfect. As I grew, I got on the “get ahead no matter what” train and to make a long story short, ended up with serious “burnout” over the past couple of years. It affected my health to the point where I couldn’t work much if at all, and I just laid on the couch staring at the ceiling, which became a revelatory meditation to help me become aware of what the workaholic pattern had done to affect my health, emotions, relationships, work, etc. I realized that it was a habit pattern I developed early in life to cover my insecurities – if I could immerse myself in “doing” I wouldn’t have to deal with “being” where my vulnerabilities might be at risk. My ceiling meditations led me through a very dark passage, very difficult, very painful and frightening. But as I’ve been emerging from it over the past year, I’ve been very grateful for what it forced me to see: that I don’t have to cover my vulnerability since I now see it as a gentle strength that compliments my other strengths. At times, I still fall into the old “have to, have to, hurry up and do it” mode but can let it go as I become aware that I’m doing it – and am able to laugh at and with myself. In my work as a spiritual psychologist, I see so many people caught in the same web of pushing themselves into lifestyles and actions that are falsehoods about who they truly are. If you’re a recovering workaholic as I am, breathe with me, look into a mirror and see your True, Beautiful Self looking back at you. Many blessings.