Sunday, December 27, 2009

Number 12 Looks Just Like You

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. - Henry David Thoreau

I woke up very early this morning and, after some quiet time, I turned on the television and happened upon an episode of "Twilight Zone" entitled, "Number 12 Looks Just Like You". I am not a science fiction fan, so the ScyFy channel would not be a typical choice, and I didn't even know what I was watching when I landed on this channel and felt drawn to it. At first, my interest was because of the cheesy dramatic dialogue and accompanying music that the old films often had. It was for the humor factor that I watched, but the message ended up being very powerful and deep.

The episode was about a world where science could transform individuals from ordinary to beautiful, each person able to choose their new look from a set of slides showing numbered examples of what their new look would be. This transformation also gave them immunity to disease and created a "perfect" society. After transformation, each individual looked identical to many others...number 12's looked identical to each other...number 13's looked identical to each other. One leader alluded to the year 2000 when science would be able to change the whole world to look perfect, but noted that they were lucky because it was available in the Twilight Zone already.

The conflict of the story was a young girl named Marilyn, age 18, who was about to reach the age where transformations took place. It was assumed that this "plain Jane" would pick a model, then be tranformed to look like that example; but this girl did not want the transformation, wanting instead to be herself even if considered ugly or lacking in beauty. She saw her own beauty in being different and feared losing herself if she received the transformation. She had learned from reading her deceased father's diaries and collection of books (which had banned in their society because of their free-thinking ideas) that he had been very unhappy after his tranformation, and had committed suicide because of it. Those around her could not understand her reasons for not wanting the change, thinking that she must have psychological problems for not wanting to be perfect. Her mother was distraught at the rebellion of her child, consulting experts and trusted friends as to what to do about this problem. A doctor assured her that "improvements" had been made in the process to help people be happier with it...alluding to methods of controlling the mind to make people more content with giving up their own identity in order to meet society's idea of what is best or most desirable.

In the end, the girl was pressured and forced to have the tranformation. As she looked in the mirror, she seemed happy, but it was evident that she had conceded and lost her true self. She had become a cookie-cutter version of everyone else, a numbed personality that smiled on the outside, but was nothingness on the inside. It was no accident that I landed on this channel, not entirely because of the physical conformity issues that most of us struggle with from time to time, but because of the difficulty of choosing to be different in other ways. It was such a parallel to my own life and what I see in so many people. Our lives, in our need to conform to society, have become programmed. We attempt to live a certain way to get on a track that the world has decided is successful or desirable. In that process, we lose ourselves and our individuality, forgetting who we are or what we really came here to do. We do it to our children, expecting them to conform to meet our own needs for fitting in.

The really interesting thing is that this episode came after I had woken up with some momentary anxiety about my own children. They have chosen to go about their lives a little differently in going through school more slowly, while working at other things that they love, not making a lot of money doing it, but enjoying it in the process. Generally, I have celebrated this because I know how important it is to release from conformity and I can see their true and glowing selves emerging again, but I have had brief moments of worrying that they were not on the usual path of finishing school in a certain amount of time, getting a "normal" job, getting on the career track...I have had moments of succumbing to old conditioning. It holds an unbelievable power over us, and takes consistent effort to overcome.

I am grateful that I woke up at 4:44 and turned on the television just after 5am to see this Twilight Zone episode (and that was no accident). It reminded me that conformity is not the answer and that we must be true to who we are, and that those who feel pressured to conform are simply led by Ego - thoughts which want to hold us back from our greatness or our more meaningful purpose - thoughts that confuse us into thinking that we need to be more like everyone else or measure our worth by their standards. When we lose our individuality and fall into the need to be like others, we begin to lose the essence of our souls, which is why we slowly age and die inside. Yet, just like on the Twilight Zone, we don't even realize what we have lost, don't even know that original person, that original soul any longer. It is not through "sin" that we disconnect from God, it is through this conformity. If we lose ourselves, we have lost our connection God.

Think about your life and how you have conformed. Is it through the need to live in a certain kind of house or drive a certain kind of car?...Is it from needing your children to compete with others in their achievement in order to validate you?...Is it by being validated by a certain profession or by outward financial success?...Is it by giving up an individual God for a cookie-cutter version as dictated by religion or the accepted norms?

Get back to yourself by letting go of the attachment to every outward thing that you use to define you. It may take time, as we are so very conditioned and pressured otherwise, but it will be your saving grace.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Looking Toward 2010

As we move past Christmas and toward the New Year, it is a good time to set intentions for 2010. New Year's resolutions are something that are practiced by many, although most of us would probably admit that we falter along the way. I think that part of the reason we falter is that we set out with good intentions, but our goals are still indicative of our previous priorities. We do not really go inward enough in our process of "being more" for the coming period. Usually, we limit our resolutions to things like getting in shape, losing weight, exercising more, etc; but in setting these goals, we don't really change our general ways or outlook on them. We do not approach them in different ways, nor do we go to the real root of the obstacles.

Einstein has been credited as saying that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We approach our problems in very much the same way that we have in the past, never really examining what might be the real cause, never looking deeper into ourselves to fix things on a more meaningful level, just taking an outward approach.

I believe, and I have seen in myself and others, that the answers to our problems - be they of health, relationship, financial, or other nature - lie within ourselves; that we can heal ourselves and mend our difficulties by getting real with what they are and addressing them differently. Once we acknowledge the root and surrender to it, we release the hold it has on us, we remove the cloud that it has caused over us. You cannot release a problem that you cannot acknowledge, yet we tend to run from the real cause of our problems because we do not want to make the changes to fix them.

We have become such conditioned creatures, following the world in every aspect of our lives - seeking to be "normal", letting others define what will (or should) make us happy. We follow the patterns set forth for a "good life" never really seeking to find "our way", nor search for our true purpose for being here. However, each of us has a purpose that we came here to fulfill, and each purpose has some root in getting real (finding Truth) and giving and receiving love, remembering that we are One - with each other and with God. The ultimate purpose for our existence is as simple as that. We each may have different avenues to get there, or different talents and gifts to enhance the lives of others, but it is all rooted in learning to love without strings attached, to accept that we are all good and perfect beings, and to allow our goodness to shine through.

If you have resolutions and intentions, I can tell you that the way to stick to them is to align them with your purpose. Surrender to it, ask for it to be revealed to you, then try not to resist it. By this act, you will begin to get aligned, and therefore fill voids that have been left unfulfilled and strained your existence, allowing you contentment, which makes way for joy. It is a process of awakening that will then align you with the Universe, with Divine energy that will show you the way.

Make your resolution to step into your Higher Self and true purpose. Then let God do the rest, in God's way...not your way, not society's way, not your church's way, not your friend's way...and perhaps a way that you or no one else could have figured out. That is what makes it Divine. Listen, and you will hear the way. Keep and open mind, and be willing to follow and explore. Let 2010 be your year of awakening to more. You will be in good company, because many others are hearing the call. By joining in, we each empower others.

(Note: I will be facilitating a discussion and study of the text "A Course In Miracles" in 2010 on Facebook. This is a good method of letting go of fear and looking at things anew, seeing through the eyes of love. To join our "fan page", please CLICK HERE).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Healing

The holidays can be a wonderful time for feeling love, but also a time when old patterns or hurts show themselves, family and relationship dynamics brought to a head in ways that induce stress, pain, anger, or resentment. For many, the holidays are the most difficult time of year due to the emotional turmoil, financial burdens, and other factors.

From the emotional standpoint, I would like to suggest that if you have such issues, you approach them from a different light, understanding that this is an opportunity to examine them for what they are (usually fear or control-based roots) and release them in love. You may not even have to venture into discussing it with another, simply go within yourself, simply sending love, healing, and forgiveness for any past issues. Imagine yourself, another, or the situation surrounded in white light and ask God and angels to release you from its clutches so that you can become all that you are meant to be (perfection) and live according to your true purpose in this life. If you are ready to move forward, proclaim that, surrender to it, and release any baggage that you may be carrying (your own baggage or that of another).

I believe you will be amazed at the difference this practice makes in your holidays and the surrounding conditions. If you take this approach, you will negate the negative to allow for a positive resolution, or perhaps even a miracle that transcends and heals all around it. In living love and joy, you will bring the true Christmas spirit into your life, and lay a foundation that will carry you into a new year ready for a new beginning.

Peace, love, light, and joy to the world at this special time of year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Let Nature Be Your Guide

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. -Anne Frank

Anne Frank was a wise soul who, at her young age, knew and understood more than most people ever do. In this quote, she shows a deep understanding about how to really get close to God, how to feel peace. In our culture, we often think that we need to go to church to get closer to God, to be in a cathedral or sanctuary to find peace and feel the connection to Him. Or we think that we will get more spiritual connection through a structured meditation practice, yoga or other avenue. While all these things may give us a good feeling or facilitate a connection, no cathedral or sanctuary can quite match God's own cathedral - the masterpiece of nature; no practice quite bring about what is at our disposal outside in this wonderland.

This past week, my home in Asheville was covered with a beautiful deep white blanket that made time stop for a bit. Walks outside, with few automobiles making noise, left a peace and quiet that was heavenly. The crunch of snow, the cold air, and the picture postcard beauty was like touching God for a moment.

One of my favorite things about Christmas has always been how quiet it is - how the world stops for a day. The love that is spread on this day is magnified by the absence of noise to get in the way. I believe the energy of the angels and heaven can get through to us more easily because of this quiet peace. Take a walk in nature this Christmas, or better yet, every day of this Christmas season. Be alone with the heavens, nature, and God, just as Anne Frank spoke of. The answers to your prayers or solutions to your problems may very well be there, waiting for your discovery. Be thankful for this most wonderful gift, that keeps giving to us all year, and is always there for our spiritual interaction. By appreciating nature, you will find more in your life to appreciate.

May God bless you during this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reiki Helps Relieve Knee Pain (link)

Here is a great testimonial about distance healing energy posted by my friend Dana on her Dragonfly Reiki website. The answers to our rising medical costs and health issues lie within us, if we open our minds to receive. And the benefits go well beyond the physical, if we open our hearts to allow it.

CLICK HERE to read this story.

Just For Today, I Will Not Worry

A few years ago, I was led to the practice of Reiki after my spiritual path began to deepen and gain clarity. Reiki is an energy healing modality that can help with both physical needs as well as enhance spiritual awareness. The basic principals behind it are expressed in 5 tenets, the first tenet being:

Just for today, I will not worry.

Think about how many things you worry about in a day and how much time you waste on such thoughts. Spending time worrying does does not change the problem at hand, does not create a solution, does not appreciate that the thing that you see as a "problem" may be leading you to something better - as part of your plan to be able to live out your purpose. Some people seem to think it is noble to worry, as if it shows they care more, but actually that has an element of martyrdom to it - attaching to the worry for the attention it gets, or because it makes you feel like a better person to be filled with such concern.

Many times, we say we are worried about something, but then we do nothing to change the things we are doing in ways that might eliminate or diminish the problem at hand. For instance, I know people who worry about having a heart attack or getting ill in some way and talk about their fears repeatedly, but don't exercise or change their poor eating habits or do other things to make illness less likely. That is an example of just enjoying the drama of the worry. We all have similar examples in our own behavior to some extent or another, although many are less obvious, but they are indicative of our attachment to fear.

When we worry, we are focusing our energy on the problem, and therefore attracting more of the problem. It is unproductive and only brings us more of what we wish to eliminate. Most of us, through day to day life, our upbringing, or the media onslaught of worrisome things we are exposed to constantly, worry even when we are trying not to, or when we don't even realize we are doing it. As with any habit or addiction, it takes practice and consistency to break that pattern, but if you begin to let go of worries step by step, you will begin to feel differently, and have an easier time letting go of them on a more permanent basis.

The great Master, Jesus, said,

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matt 6:27)

We do not gain from worrying. We lose precious moments to live and be; instead of adding hours to our lives, the stress of worrying can actually take away hours from our lives. (Ahh...and even that gives us something else to worry about!)

This Reiki tenent of, "Just for today, I will not worry" can have profound healing impact on our lives with that simple change...taking a day at a time with the intent of ending the worry. One day is not an impossible commitment, and each day we achieve that release from worry makes us stronger and healthier, ready to take on another day without worry. It is our own healing power at work in the simplest of ways. Changing our thoughts to change our lives; healing ourselves to heal the world around us.

Whether you practice Reiki or not, whether you have any interest in it or not, consider adopting this tenet as a step in your healing and empowerment. It is simple and achievable, but can have profound impact.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

To Love and Be Loved...That Is the Answer

One of the most widely quoted and contemplated literary quotes is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet:

"To be or not to be, that is the question."

In this soliloquy, Hamlet contemplates living, "being", is about suffering "slings and arrows"...Being (the hard process of life) ultimately brings about not being (dying). Hamlet's offers an observation of how we have made life hard with all of our resistance, our need to fight to be right, with the idea that opposition is noble. We create our difficulties through living out society's ways of struggle, and in following these ways, we get confused into thinking that life IS struggle. It creates a fearful existence, where we become afraid of change, afraid that we are not being good enough...afraid to really BE. In that fear, we cease to fully exist; rather we exist within in the ordinary and confined norms of society, afraid to be all that we are and all that we came here to be. Our fear keeps us from connecting to our own greatness in order to connect to God. The irony is that we think that staying within the lines and pointing out our own flaws will get us back to God, when actually, it is just the opposite. Remembering our perfection is what gets us there.

"A Course In Miracles" is a widely used text which teaches that all emotions are based in either love or fear. Love is the good emotion that fills our hearts (and the only thing that is "real". We have confused love with rules, regulations, requirements, ownership and control - whether it be in our children, our parents, our romantic partners, our friends. Many of us give love only when the other side is doing what we want them to, sending subtle but powerful messages that, in order to get the love, one must act a certain way. Or we succumb to others who give us love only when we do what they want us to, applying guilt when we do not. Love is not about control, nor is it about being controlled. If you have these elements, you do not have pure love. You may have a watered down version of love that is littered with manipulation - our distorted worldly version - but it is ensconced in fear, so it cannot be love and therefore, is not real.

Fear-based emotions come from lack of love. They are illusions that we create. So many people live in fear - fear of losing their jobs or homes, fear of disapproval, fear of taking a chance, fear of getting sick, fear of being different...of going out on a limb, or fear of just doing something wrong. In the ultimate use of fear, we have the threat of eternal damnation in hell if we dare to drift out of established rules. This comes from lack of love...mostly lack of love for oneself. It confuses us into thinking that God is about fear and punishment, when in fact, God is only love. It is the need to control that conjures up the image of God as punishing, but God does not punish us...we punish ourselves, creating our own hell. We arrive at this place through a world that beats us down and reminds us of our imperfection. We can only escape it if we escape these feelings of unworthiness....if we begin to love ourselves enough to stand up for our worthiness, to love others without excessive stipluations.

In the coming year, I will be hosting a facebook group that discusses the ideas in "A Course in Miracles" (ACIM), which provides a pathway out of fear and back into love. If you are not familiar with ACIM, it is laid out in daily devotional fashion, with 365 lessons that lead one through a process of thought-changing exercises. It has been inspirational to many who have sought a more spiritual path. Although it takes little time for each exercise, the effect can be profound. There is no pressure to do every lesson or to follow any daily routine or ritual, just the need for an open mind and heart. Having this on facebook provides an easy way to work through the process, with support from others of like mind. The facebook page will allow for informal discussions of the ideas in ACIM and a reflection on how it is working in our lives. It will sometimes connect to ideas on this blogsite and vice versa.

If you are interested in studying "A Course In Miracles" and would like to join the facebook group, CLICK HERE.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Purposeful Giving: Give What You Wish to Receive

Give, and it will be given unto you. (Luke 6:38)

During this season of giving, we are provided with an opportunity to be thoughtful in what we give to others. In our commercialized society, gift giving, like much of our lives, has become about things. The giving process becomes more about obtaining the right purchase for each person on our list...the holidays about decorating our homes in certain way, often adding stress to already over-committed lives. As is often the case, the Universe provides us with circumstances to help us learn and grow if we choose to do so. At this particular time when finances are tough for many, we are provided a wonderful opportunity to remove ourselves from the need to exchange excessive monetary gifs and become more contemplative in our sharing, giving in ways that are more meaningful to both the giver and the receiver.

It is a powerful spiritual approach to give that which we wish to receive for ourselves....if you wish to receive forgiveness, give forgiveness to receive healing, help another to receive patience from others, be patient with another. You will soon learn that your needs are fulfilled, or even that the things you thought you needed to receive from others were within you all the time. In that act of giving it away, we reconnect with what we already had.

For those with financial concerns or who are seeking less financial stress, this process of giving gifts from the heart rather than the wallet provides a gift within itself...if you wish for financial relief, give it to yourself by resisting the temptation to make the holidays about monetary purchases or giving more stuff. In taking this new approach, you will likely see both the financial relief, as well as the gift that comes from giving something deeper, from sharing a more spiritual gift...a gift of time, of love, and one that will be far more meaningful than anything at the shopping mall.

Take a calmer approach to the holidays, think about what you can give from your heart, and feel the peace that follows.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giving Up the Need To Be Right

We all love to be right. The recent trends in our culture have exacerbated that tendency, from excess litigation, to the common phrase of "it's just business", we are fraught with excuses that give us the green light to do whatever it takes to achieve that "win". We choose our "side" first, then decide how to back it up to make us feel right.

In the political arena, we see it constantly. Those who are "against" a candidate or leader send blazing emails to everyone they know to bring him/her down, rarely taking the time to check the validity of what they are sending, simply interested in being right. This comes from BOTH sides, because both sides are so focused on winning the "wrong" or "right" argument that they take little time think about finding truth or compromise, little time to get to the heart of how we can solve problems, engrossed instead on how our side can win the next election.

This tendency is not confined to the political is in most everything we do. Is is paramount in our religious and spiritual conversations. These, to me, are the most important ones, because if we can grow spiritually...truly growing, rather than just focusing on winning...our other problems, both individual and collective, will begin to disappear. It is our constant need to fight to be right that fuels our problems. There is a saying that "what we resist, persists", when we go against something, it is given power. This is what JUDGMENT is all about. When we judge something, we are actually contributing to it. When we take a fighting stance against it, we are in a negative energy; when we accept others views with respect - even if we disagree - our energy is positive and can usher is a light that will create miracles.

But where do we begin? Our world is so caught up in being right that it sometimes seems that it would be impossible to create any lasting effect. However, numerous studies on energy (done in scientific fashion) have indicated that having a mere 3% of positive thought can have enough impact to tip us in the other direction (that tells us a little about how our positive vs. negative thoughts stack up right now!).

Mother Teresa said, "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." This is an example of choosing positive thought over negative thought. When we are against something, we are pointing out that someone else is wrong...we are caught up in our need to be right. When we shift our thoughts to a positive one, such as "pro-peace" it changes the entire perspective, minimizing the resistance. A single positive thought is exponentially stronger than a single negative thought, which is why it would only take a small percentage of truly positive thinkers to change the world.

YOU can be part of that 3% by simply changing your thoughts from negative to positive. Expect the best rather than the worst, see the good in others rather than the bad, spend your time building on positive things rather than tearing down what you oppose. You will notice a change around will begin to attract more positive people...those who are excessively negative may not be able to handle the shift, and may even attack or become hostile to try to get you back into the negative camp, but will simply drift away if you persist in a positive light. I say this from my own experiences, where I felt the need to be right, the desire for validation, but instead shifted into detachment from that necessity. It brought peace to me and eliminated the conflict. It lifted me up and opened the way for greater things within me.

At this time of year when we think of peace, love, and giving...choose to give the gift of positive thought...give up the need to be right, show respect without personal attack when you debate an issue, or simply agree to disagree when it seems that differences cannot be resolved. Detach your ego from the discussion. We often say that we want peace in the world, yet the only way to achieve that is to have peace within ourselves...we cannot encourage peace if we do not have it within us. Conflicted hearts bring on conflicted ways, but contented hearts bring on joy and harmony. Find peace and serenity in yourself and your surroundings, and you will help change the world.