Friday, October 17, 2008

Embracing Chaos

We are in the midst of chaotic times, a tumultous energy that leaves many feeling scared or uneasy. On the surface, this may seem like a bad thing, but these are occurrences that we should actually embrace, as chaos is a powerful tool for cleaning up and clearing. Just as a storm in nature has a cleansing quality after a buildup, a storm in our lives can be a necessary element to allow change.

Consider the current crisis in the financial world. On the surface, we just want it to be fixed and keep things propped up so that we do not endure pain or loss, but the reality is that much of our ecomony has become a facade hiding irrational behavior. We have seen it time and again, and have come to expect that when these corrections occur, someone should fix it or make it right. In the 1990's we had the false wealth of the dot coms that made many multimillionaires almost overnight. More recently, through rapidly rising real estate values, this newfound wealth progressed to the everyday person, who saw net worth climb very quickly as their homes gained value. Had that been left alone, most people would be in a good position right now, but our tendencies toward excess made many tap into equity to such an extent that any decline in value would leave them in a precarious situation, or possibly even bankrupt.

Through our politicians and leaders, who are reluctant to stress personal empowerment or personal responsibility, knowing that will not win them votes from the masses, we have made this a Wall Street/Banking Industry problem alone, pretending that the individual citizens had no play in this fiasco. And while there was and is corruption on Wall Street, individual greed played a role in the problem as well. It is very easy to assume that those bad big shots in the banking industry pushed their products on poor, unsuspecting souls who didn't understand anything about interest rates, yet that is hardly the reality. I personally know quite a few very well educated and successful individuals who bought into risky mortgages such as interest-only, and loans for more than the value of their homes. Simple logic says that you might have to pay the piper eventually. The temptation to tap equity for the new Mercedes, the vacation home, the motor home or an extensive remodel was too great, so logic was thrown to the wind. A simple glance around at our common societal lifestyles, which have become full of "stuff" and living on credit cards, will tell you that we have let consumerism take over our lives in many ways.

If we look deeper at this financial phenomenon, it becomes clear that we have attempted to fill voids in our lives - in our very souls - with personal belongings, thinking that those ecoutrements would brighten our lives and make us happier. Yet if you feel the energy of the masses, it is less than happy and fulfilled, and more likely just cluttered by junk. This "storm" in the financial world allows us a tremendous opportunity to assess and cleanse our own lives, going deeper beyond things and into our selves. Simplifying our lives can be the greatest thing that has happened to us in a long time, both as individuals and collectively.

Rather than expecting bailouts to fix our every problem and mend our every pain, perhaps we should each look at our own lives and attempt to simplify, to live more within our means and find joy in feelings rather than possessions. In doing so as individuals, we will empower others to do the be willing step away from the peer pressure that tells us we need to have more status symbols and choose instead to get real, get simple. Think about your own life, your own finances, and how you can apply more simplicity to your way of doing things. You may open the door to enhancing your own existence, both financially and spiritually, as well as opening the door for someone else to do the same. Each of us has something to offer, and collectively we have much to offer. Empower your own life, and you will empower others in the process.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baseball, Apple Pie....and The Healing Island

My college age sons follow sports avidly. I enjoy sports myself, but I find myself following a little more closely because of their keen interest - it allows me a common ground that mothers sometimes lose with their sons. Athletics and sporting events have a way of inspiring us, of entertaining the masses on a level that few other things can. Many criticize this pre-occupation, but I understand it on a deeper level, a more spiritual acceptance, because I see that sports competition is one of the few places in our society that make us remember our ability for greatness. And although many negatives have arisen in sports, we can still draw inspiration from among those ranks. The stories of sports heroes uplift our souls because they remind us that we have a spark within. Sometimes they inspire us to find our own spark and ignite it -whether it be in physical or sporting competition, or in another area where we can identify our own passion.

Knowing the impact that sports figures can have, I was very pleased to see a recent story about Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, who has come to rely on a special "healing island" in Hawaii for spiritual energy and enhancing his faith. Baker learned of this island when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and made an immediate visit there, knowing that he would be all right. According to the article, it had such an impact the he has returned there regularly ever since.

What encourages me most about this story is that if we are able to accept such possibilities into the mainstream, we will return to understanding the innate healing abilities and gifts within us. We will return to understanding that faith, energy balance, and natural approaches can be the key to overcoming our obstacles both physical and emotional. To have a prominent figure from something as mainstream as baseball, America's pastime, can help usher these thoughts into the mainstream. There are many locations on our earth that the ancients knew had tremendous healing energy. It would be amazing if we would re-visit and reconsider those options. Here is an excerpt of a recent article about Baker's visits to the islands (by Sportswriter Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati Enquirer):

The Renaissance manager of the Cincinnati Reds returns to northern California to tend his grapes (petit syrah) and his family. At some point, he will venture for two weeks to the Hawaiian Islands, as he has every year for at least a decade. Dusty Baker will go to the Lawai Valley on the south shore of Kauai, where he says he will "walk, think and pray."

...Baker first went to Lawai six years ago. He'd just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Surgery was scheduled for two days after his return. On the flight to Honolulu, Baker read of "the healing island," and its epicenter, Lawai."

Let's change our plans," he said to his wife.

As Baker relays the story, he hands me a package of note cards. Each features a photo of the "Light of Lawai," an unaltered image of rainbow sunlight radiating through the trees. Lawai is where "first Hawaiians and then Asians built their sanctuaries of healing and hope," is what is written on the card.

"I went there and I knew I'd be all right,'' Baker says. "Been there 10 or 20 times since, mostly just me, to pray and think and give thanks to still being here. Heavy place."

How refreshing that this person relied on his gut to visit such a place, that he could recognize its power, and be willing to share the experience. For information about other ancient sites known for their healing (some much closer than Hawaii), see my blog post from June 28, 2008 on this site. Our embracing these energies can be an avenue to help change our lives and the world.