Songbirds Sing of Surrender

On my walk today, I noticed how I was striving to get up the hill in my usual power walking way. My chest was tight and determined, ready to shatter all obstacles in the way.  In the noticing though there was a deep awareness that I don’t have to push so hard any more. Whether that way has served me or not is up for debate, but let’s just say that now I know another way that feels a whole lot better. I slowed down and took some giant lunges, so I was still working but not striving so hard. I used to love to wail along to those songs about “nobody done told me life was gonna be this hard.” But now I know that those are just beliefs. Statements about whether life is easy or hard are just generalities that may be true or not. The thing is – how do they make you feel?

Life just is.

As I began to slow down, I realized I had neglected to notice that it was a beautiful fullsizeoutput_88spring day. I started listening to birds singing all kinds of incredible songs. One in particular caught my attention. It was as if the bird was singing harmony with itself as it warbled up and down the scales. It reminded my of the sound rain water makes on a metal roof only more melodic. 

I found a place to lie down and dropped deep into the nothingness and started to wonder.

I have used my will to meet goals and accomplish stuff. There is nothing wrong with will. It’s a function of the 3rd chakra and supports self esteem. Only problem is I spent much of my working life in fight or flight, handling one crisis after the next as if there was some constant invisible threat. That takes a toll on the adrenal glands to say the least. Is there another way to be besides being in that typical jacked-up, intense stress state? Or the opposite – collapsed in a heap trying to recover?

“Surrender to what is,” the songbirds remind me. “Surrender to nature, to your own true nature.  It doesn’t mean you are giving in or giving up. It does mean that your scared, fragile ego will have to stop fighting, running, resisting and pushing. It will thank your in the end. It doesn’t necessarily want you to buy into it’s panic. It just needs to be reined in, and then you can loosen the reins on your soul self. You are free as a bird ~ if you let yourself be.”

Inner Visioning

I am preparing for a retreat that I am part of called “Invisioning & Renewal Retreat: A Day to Gather Strength and Wisdom in the Alchemy of Art and Nature.” I thought I would develop a mnemonic device for people to practice and reference as they are experiencing the day in nature and making art called AEIOU. Here goes…

What does Invisioning really mean?

A – Allowing. Allowing is that quality of non-grasping and at the same time not fullsizerender51resisting. We allow whatever is to be as is without having to control, manage or change it.

E- Easefulness. Easefulness is when you let go of all your agendas in the mind and tensions in the body. You go with the flow. There is no need to swim up-stream. Trust is the key word here.

I – Innocence. Innocence is what Suzuki Roshi called “beginner’s mind.” It is when you are looking through your child eyes. Everything means something. You see the world in a blade of grass. Your imagination is active and creative juices are flowing.

O – Openness. Openness is that expansive state we create when we connect to Source or The Field. We make space for our true selves and our deep feelings.

U – It’s all about you and your experience. Keep asking and observing – What is happening in me? There is no out there out there. GURU – Gee, you are you.

I hope you will consider coming to this special event. I would love to BE with you for this day of invisioning and renewal Sat. Feb. 3 at Elkus Ranch just south of Half Moon Bay, CA.

register here –> https://themusicwithinus.com/events/invisioning2018 

Grant Me Serenity

It is common knowledge that a major key to moving forward is acceptance of what is. Wishin’, and hopin’ and prayin’ make a really good song, but don’t always help move the energy.

Acceptance, however, can be a difficult place to access. Others can see and might even tell us that’s what we need to do. Often resentment and resistance persist.

Let’s back up a bit. Remember the Serenity Prayer? It doesn’t ask for acceptance. It fullsizeoutput_40asks for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. In other words, serenity is a precursor to acceptance.

Perhaps, if you so desire, take a moment right now to invite serenity into your
awareness. Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. Another deep breath in, and let go.

Quiet the mind.

Quiet the heart.

Be present.

Blessed be. ❤

Karma vs. Causality

We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.                                              ~Byron Katie

When bad things happen to you, how you explain it to yourself and make sense of it can make all the difference in the world. Many people use the concept of Karma. Karma is the idea that what goes around comes around, and it is satisfying to use when you are singing the ‘someone done me wrong’ song. But it feels a little like blame when you apply it to yourself. Another way to explain things is that it’s God’s Will. There’s not much that is more irritating than hearing that when tragedy strikes.

In my book, Chasing Serenity, (buy here) Jasmine, Maya’s unseen guide, explains the Law of Causality to her one day when Maya is in a pit of despair.

“This is the Law of Causality. You will inevitably attract the opposite reality of what you IMG_0079_2desire until you come fully into resonance with it and learn the lesson. You are always given ample opportunity to heal the aching illusion of lack and to heal the separation wherever it manifests in your life or body. Life circumstances cause us to wake up if we dare. Do you dare to be aware?”

Then Maya says, “So that is always the point – when life happens, and we feel unloved or unlovable or have fallen into a pit of despair, it is urging us to look past the mundane, childhood programming, and ego-mind chastising.”

Jasmine continues, “Yes, but of course, my darling. You are basically love and light, plain and simple. That’s all you need to know ever.”

Harsh realities are not designed to induce guilt, shame, blame, hopelessness and self-reproach in us humans. They are realities plain and simple. They are not intended to cause us to brace ourselves against life and hold on tighter to the past.

No matter how bad the outside circumstances look, the key is to make the switch and img_2814begin to notice how you feel inside. Just notice. Maybe your boyfriend did cheat on you, maybe your boss is never going to give you that raise, or maybe a family member is always going to treat you abusively. It is still not about what’s happening outside of you. You probably don’t have much control over that anyway. It’s what’s happening inside you that counts.

People struggle with the Serenity Prayer notion of accepting the things they cannot change. Acceptance starts with accepting yourself for how you are feeling first – whatever that might be. No need for spiritual by-pass. Get real with yourself and what’s inside right now. Let what is be as it is right now. From there, it is just a short hop, skip and a jump to start to question how much longer can you stay angry, depressed, jealous, resentful, feeling disrespected and rejected? That is the question.

As Byron Katie is fond of saying:                                                                                                     We are entering the dimension where we have control – the inside.

Mixing Business With Pleasure

I don’t know about you, but working together with other people can be exhausting!

I am attempting to put my work out there more these days, and that requires coordination with agencies, websites, publicity, payroll and people! I was getting discouraged because I was running into roadblocks at every turn.

“What’s the universe trying to tell you,” says my well-meaning friend.

“That I should crawl back in a hole and never come back out again?” This option is actually very appealing to me. I am an introverted Cancerian, so sitting at home making art sounds perfectly delectable. I don’t think, however, that is what the universe is telling me.

I recently attended a workshop on the neuroscience of creating, relating and resilience, that was quite eye opening. The workshop leader, Joanna Clyde Findlay, is doing research on trauma, and how to help people get beyond the feelings of victimization without getting re-triggered. Anytime you go back into the distressing material, there is the likely possibility that the brain will go back into that state of fight, flight or freeze and re-experience the trauma all over again. Her research is on art therapy, so she has designed a protocol to address trauma. It’s quite simple really. The short version is that first you make a representation of the distressing situation or incident. Then, you change it.

I made a paper sculpture of an obstacle course with myself as a kind of board game figureimg_3040 that has to figure out how to go over, under, and through all the obstacles. It felt hard, unrewarding and downright depressing. It put me back into those feelings of alternately  being over-reactive and angry or else defeated and resigned. When she said to change it, I wanted to throw it out and start all over again. Then in the next breath, she clarified… to change it without throwing it out.

I started cutting out the figure to make her more streamlined which felt good. After working for a while, I started drawing pictures of people on the obstacles. They turned out to be the exact people who I have been working with to start new programs and classes. (The unconscious is uncanny.) Then it dawned on me that the reason my resistance was so great was because of my longstanding difficulty dealing with people. Navigating my needs with theirs img_3041always puts me into that little kid place of being powerless over my parents’ moods and whims. Things like – asking for what you want/need, negotiating, following up, persevering, checking in, clarifying and mixing business with pleasure are all way beyond my skill set.

Anyway, I felt completely different after I changed the piece. It became more like a playground or amusement park where you get to play with different challenges and have fun. (I even put my dog on one. I have a good relationship with him. :))

Over the next couple of days, many of the previous obstacles had started to resolve themselves. I found out about the other people’s circumstances, many of whom were dealing with difficulties of their own. I experimented with new ways of communicating without feeling anxious about whether my needs were going to be met, or not. I let others know that I value the relationship and that made all the difference in the world.

Today I have felt what can almost be described as high. I can deal with other people. They are only people after all. I can care about others in my community and, at the same time, feel cared for too! That can-do feeling is called resilience.

Shedding Your Skin

You may have heard that 2016 is a 9 year. In numerology you add the digits together to come up with the number like this 2+0+1+6 = 9. 9 is a number of completion and endings because next year will be a 1 which is when we get to start again fresh. Also December 12th or 12-12 is considered to be a gateway to higher consciousness so this is an ideal time to shed the old skin and release any energies and emotions that are not yours.

I had a revelation the other night while I was lying quietly in bed in the stillness of the fullsizerender_2night thinking about shedding my skin. The old skin is a metaphor for a habitual energy body that is based on old fears, fallacies and misconceptions from childhood. It is made up of portals, hooks, receptor sites and open invitations for old stuff like limiting self concepts, ancestral patterns, and toxic family members; energies we have been carrying with us for perhaps life times.

Some might be for those people in our lives who can rob us of our power. You know who that is. If you remember Red Dog from the Lynn Andrews stories, he took her marriage basket, which was a symbol for the balance of masculine and feminine energies.

Is there someone in your life who can do that to you?

As I lay there, I could feel that the tensions in my body were alien energies. They were not mine! They are hanging around from ancient maybe ancestral times and may have been IMG_0800the result of trauma and abuse from the past and lingering defensive structures that really don’t serve any longer. Often when I attempt to open up my heart, I can feel a compression that doesn’t allow my heart space to expand. Whatever that is, it is not mine!

Old stories also live in our energy bodies. They have hooks and hangers to latch onto and can get going really quickly. We are powerless to stop the worthlessness, comparisons, and disaster stories unless we remove the sites for them to hang on to. Do you really want to keep that old junker lying around?

That’s where Snake energy can be helpful. We can simply shed the whole energy body coat, pockets and all and be free

When you get this radical idea of shedding your old energetic skin, there is a sense of possibility to really be able to be open to the present. It’s not – “It is what it is.” It’s –“It is what is NOW!”

Peaceful Solstice to you, my brothers and sisters.

Comfortable In Your Own Skin

Early on in my career, I worked at a drug and alcohol recovery center with teenage girls. My supervisor asked me what I wanted to accomplish with the girls, and I said I wanted to help them feel comfortable in their own skin.

“That will never happen,” she said dismissively.

On one hand, I understand what she meant, and yet on the other, I still deeply believe that no matter what trauma we have experienced and no matter how spooked out of our sovereign space we may be, there is still an innate capacity to connect to our own eternal, infinite nature. Words like presence, consciousness, awareness, beingness, knowingness, Soul, expanded sense of self, or true nature point to the ineffable experience.IMG_6059

I recognize that there is a great deal of resistance and the ego-mind might squirm a bit. Often feelings of despair, guilt and resentment are lurking just below the surface. You will inevitably bump into many obstacles digging through the bedrock. Perseverance in the vein of allowing whatever is to be as is can melt ancient armouring along the littered pathway.

Judgments about the rewards to be had from going within often impede coming home to oneself. Thoughts like: “I should feel good, positive, loving, wise or ___________, may cause us to give up before we even begin.

Impatience can be easily subdued with gentle reminders to relax, breathe, allow and most importantly… FEEL. 

It’s okay to feel. It’s good for you to feel.

Feel body sensations. That means all body sensations, whether pleasant or painful. Feel your skin using a sense of heightened awareness. Feel the aliveness of your autonomic nervous system, and bodily functions, like breathing, heartbeat, blood flow, and temperature regulation.

Once you catch a glimpse of dimensionless presence, it will intensify as you continue to focus your attention on it, letting it grow and stepping back to observe and watch and quite simply experience.

Welcome home to the place where your soul resides.

Nowhereland

We only need to take the first step beyond all that we have known for reality to begin to unfold itself before us. ~ Adyashanti

IMG_1485In Chasing Serenity, Maya C. is in constant conflict with reality because of her helplessness over her son’s drug addiction. That is until she takes the final step into Nowhereland. To go to Nowhereland is elementary, my darlings. All you have to do is drop into this present moment. The portal is right here with you all the time, but ego-mind can’t see it. The mind is too busy comparing, analyzing, remembering, future tripping, worrying, and judging to notice that door right here all the time.

Dropping In

Take a deep breath in and hold it for a moment of time. Exhale slowly. The first step is to stop stressing and obsessing and create a safe place for your spirit/soul/self to come into and merge with the body. Check your adrenal glands in the middle of your back just above the kidneys. Tell your adrenal glands that it’s safe to relax. There are no tigers chasing you. Then drop in.

Dropping in is simply dropping your awareness down from thinking and doing to feeling and being. Breathe in again and as you exhale bring your whole being on line into a state of neutrality. Neutrality is when there are no distinctions between things. There is no black or white, good or bad. Everything just is as it is. We are as we are. The ego mind will argue with this. “But, but, but…” it says. Remember before you go chasing (or running from) a thought that all your other glands shut down when the adrenals start pumping adrenaline and cortisol into the system. It’s the other glands that release the subtle, sweet nectar of love and bliss. Do you like love and bliss? Thinking, any and all thinking, shuts down the other glands!

IMG_5178Think Less. Be More.

The mind is persistent and sneaky. Before you know it, it will slip back into action. If thoughts come back in, you are back in duality. Think less. Be more. Thoughts are attachments. Detach. Let go. Quit holding on. American culture seems to support holding on to stuff. How much stuff can you hold on to? That’s a sign of success. The opposite is surrender. I am at peace with my self as I am, and the world as it is. That can be a tough affirmation for the mind. “But, but, but…,” it will protest.

Stop fighting with reality. Go back to the breath. Deep breath in. Hold it. Exhale slowly and let the thoughts dissolve. Melt into the exhale and take that final step into Nowhereland. Open that door that is always right here all the time, and swim on through to the other side.

The Self is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. ~Carl Jung.

I Get Mad When I’m Sad

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Somewhere between hurt and happy is healing.       ~A. O. Sullivan

One thing you learn growing up in an alcoholic home is how to cover up grief with anger. It’s a very handy trick. Grief makes you feel vulnerable, and it’s not okay to feel vulnerable. Anger serves as a good cover up. Blame works well too.

The grief can be ancient, from past generations even. No one may be able to connect the dots anymore. All that’s left is the anger. I could feel the depth of sadness and loss in my parents, but that’s the other thing you learn – don’t talk about it. I see it all the time in couples who fight. Fighting is often just a reaction to the threat or fear of loss of love.

The other night, I found myself in a sleepless state with a whole laundry list of complaints going through my head. Nothing was right!

It reminded me of a Thanksgiving a few years back when one young member of the family, whose parents were going through a divorce, declared, “I’m not thankful for anything!” when it was her turn to share around the dining table. We all got a chuckle out of it, but in retrospect I think it was a grief reaction.

When I finally gained some perspective amidst the tossing and turning, I remembered that there had been a recent death in the family. It took awhile, but soon I was able to just watch as the little kid in me had a tantrum about it.

This poem came out of that experience.

I Get Mad When I’m Sad

We have fleas. I hurt my knees. I’m neurotic as hell. My nose runs, and my feet smell. I gained weight on my diet. I’m sure you’re dying to try it.

I tell everyone what to do. What’s wrong with you? I’m really good at correcting and pointing out mistakes. What were you thinking, for goodness sakes?

With an air of superiority, I cover up my own, push them into the “under the rug” zone. I’m getting lazier as we speak. I’d do more but my energy level’s bleak.

I’m jealous and angry half the time. Penis envy.…Why don’t I have mine?

My husband said, “You need some humor, honey.” I hit my funny bone, and that wasn’t so funny.

Life is a beach I can’t seem to reach. Something is missing….

Oh, yeah. Someone is missing. We’ve had a death in the family.

But I don’t have time for grieving.

There’s a death in the family. I’m having a hard time believing.

I get mad when I’m sad.