Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are You Listening?

There is so much noise in the world today. Besides the obvious auditory stuff we hear, it is easy to become distracted by the information that bombards us on a daily basis. We go to work or school, run our errands, watch tv, use the internet, etc. Each activity we participate in, every person we interact with adds yet another layer to the already endless stream of thoughts. The cacophony produced by this noise often produces overwhelming stress, and if left unchecked will develop into problems or even disease. Is there a cure for the chaos? The answer is as simple as answering this question: What are you listening to?

The only way I know to silence this confusion is to purposefully get away from it. I go to a quiet place, usually by myself, and I sit in a physical silence. Often, the first thing that happens is my mind will be bombarded by the random thoughts produced by all information that has been absorbed into my head during my lifetime. I still these thoughts by focusing on my breathing or on the rhythm of my heart. Then I just sit until the noise of the world melts away. If you are new to this experience, it may take a long time to find silence. That's okay. The more time you devote to the practice, the easier it gets. The important thing is for you to find the silence, and sometimes this requires a great deal of patience.

How will you recognize the silence? It is the place words stop. You feel relaxed and at peace. Nothing is demanded of you. There is no agenda. You may feel yourself swimming or floating in a soothing darkness or a bright light. You may feel at One with the Universe. The experience will vary depending on the person. There is no right or wrong way. Simply wait for your experience to occur, and allow it to flow freely.     

Why is this important? Besides the obvious stress-negating health benefits, silence is the place of Connection. When you make it to the place of silence, you have learned to not only turn off the world's voice but you have also learned to let go of the world's agenda for you. It is here you find answers. It is here you find truth. It is in this place of silence you can hear the voice of God. Are you listening?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Art of Allowing

I've always thought of myself as a fairly talented person. I write a bit better than average, I possess a flair for teaching and presenting, and I've received my fair share of praise for the occasional solos I sing. I've also managed to single-handedly raise three children, two of whom are special needs, while working fulltime. These are all things I've wanted to do, yet I still find myself wanting to do more--especially now that I am looking at the reality of an empty nest in just a few short years. It's been a challenge for me to decide on what to do during the next phase of my life. I want so much to make a difference--to find my true calling.  I've struggled with this puzzle for the past several years and have only recently come to a very startling conclusion. My confusion over my next purpose stems directly from the fact I have talent I have not fully accepted or allowed, but which will be critical in this new phase.

From the time I was a small child, I have always been very sensitive to others. I know what to say when someone needs encouragement, and I understand how to cheer them up when they are down. In my younger days, I played the role of defender of the underdog when I saw another child being unfairly picked on. I do this because I can feel others' pain and will do everything in my power to help change it. There are even times when these feelings are so strong I know what people are thinking. I may not always say what I know, but not a lot gets past my notice. This gift has also gotten me into trouble at times.

While I understand I can do all this, my acceptance of it has been limited by my religious upbringing. In some circles, I would be called clairsentient or an empath. From my Christian background, I could only accept that I was occasionally "under the influence of the Holy Spirit". (Just to clarify something, I do believe psychic ability stems from the ability to connect with the Divine and that all people have the ability to connect.) Any other explanation was taboo. Consequently, the ability to feel things beyond myself was not a particularly desirable trait and it did not fit into my well-ordered, mainstream life.

I did try to address this in my earlier years. I got a degree in psychology thinking I would become a counselor to help people with their problems. Then I found my rewarding role as parent, which side-tracked me a bit. When I went to re-evaluate getting a counseling degree later, I realized I did not like traditional therapy because of its drawn out process and questionable results.

The past few months, I have worked on strengthening this talent by intentionally giving "readings" to friends and others who want some intuitive guidance. I have been somewhat startled on occasion by what I have picked up, and I have gotten some very positive feedback. This, coupled with some intuitive advice I have received from others who are sensitive, has made it clear I am to use this gift in the future to help others.

I'm still not certain exactly what I am supposed to do with it, nor am I certain it will be part of my professional career. I just know that it is important to my purpose and that accepting it as part of myself is key to its development and eventual use.

So yes, I'm psychic, clairsentient, empathic, Spirit-filled or whatever you want to call it. You can negate it, deny it or push it (or me) away, or you can accept it and allow it to help you on your journey. Whatever you decide is quite okay. You have your own journey, as I have mine. My job now is to embrace my gift so I can use it to complete my purpose. I will resist no longer. Once again, I am discovering how allowing all that is can clear the way for more blessings to flow.


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Nature of Evil

At some point in our lives, many of us ask the question, "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" We lament that life isn't fair, we rage against injustice, and we even lose faith in God for "not being there for us." Sometimes we try to justify the actions of God, saying things like, "It was God's will," or, "He was punishing us for our sins." Whatever course of action we choose, there is often a hole left in our understanding--a hole we know is there but try our best to ignore. Our justifications never quite fill the gap. Why? The answer is simple. We are coming from a perspective born of and limited to our earthly training instead of using our innate connection to God to gain new insight.

This earthly training often categorizes everything as "good" or "bad", and herein lies the problem. When we immediately judge something, we place limitations on it. Setting limits on something does not allow for change. The reality is, life is all about change because life is all about learning and growth.

When my newborn daughter died over twenty years ago, I felt horrible. It was hard to justify why a much wanted baby like mine didn't survive when other babies are born and kept where they are not wanted. As time went on, I realized a few things. I probably saved the lives of other babies by becoming an activist against the disease that killed her. Also, I was better able to understand and approach other people who had experienced the separation of death. My newborn daughter's death enabled me to do many things I would never have done otherwise. Was the experience difficult? Yes. Was it also rewarding? Yes.

The shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford is a good case in point. Agreement is widespread this act was an act of "evil". Yes, it is very sad the lives of six people, including that of an amazing nine year old girl, were ruthlessly snuffed out. Our assumption here is that their lives were shortened by the act of a madman, but is that true? Did they have the opportunity to learn what they came to learn? Were their purposes in life fulfilled? Did we, as a society, learn anything from their well-publicized deaths?

The point is, it is hard to know the ramifications of any experience during its initial onset, yet we often  automatically categorize it as "bad" or "evil". Experiences, in and of themselves, are not inherently good or evil. They become good or evil because of how we choose to interpret them. When we learn to accept and allow life's experiences without judgment, we will finally be free of the "evil" around us.   

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Excuses! Excuses!

I've been listening to a lot of different excuses lately. I can remember a time in my recent past when I spent a great deal of time making up my own excuses for the problems in my life. The thing is, excuses are used to justify inaction, and I'm tired of inaction. If I truly am a powerful co-creator of my life, it's time to get on with it!

For years, I've used my daughter as an excuse. Even though she is beautiful, smart and musically talented, she is also needy, temperamental and impulsive. I've spent a large portion of my parenting years trying to help her fit in while at the same time keeping the peace between her and her brothers. I have spent way too much time lamenting the fact she will probably never be "normal". It is only been within the past year I have begun to accept my daughter for who she is and the gift she is to me. Because her teen years have been particularly tumultuous, I have learned to ask different sorts of questions. In the process, truths have been revealed to me which I never would have seen had I not been forced to ask some very difficult (and even painful) questions.

What I have discovered is this: we invite and allow our own "tough experiences" into our lives in an effort to help us learn and grow. When we use these experiences to play the victim, we are denying ourselves the gifts the experience has for us. It is only when we ask different questions and look at the situation from other perspectives that we gain more insight into truth.

The next time you are confronted by the problems in life, choose to take the high road. Don't make excuses and deny yourself the opportunity for new understanding. Ask yourself the ultimate question: What am I supposed to learn from all this? The answer will surprise you. You will find yourself growing in unimaginable ways and leaving the excuses behind.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Problem With Politics

Like most people, I have my own personal view on politics. I take great pleasure in exercising my right to vote and have been know to become disappointed when things don't turn out like I had hoped. I am happy to live in a country where we have so many freedoms and the right to vote is protected by law. Still, for all those protections, politics in America is fundamentally flawed. I don't believe it is a problem with the code. I don't believe anyone could produce better laws without limiting some of the freedoms we enjoy today. The problem with politics lies in the hearts of the people.

At present, America does have a ruling elite. Yes, we have the "right" to elect our officials. Yes, two individual parties seem to promote different agendas. For all that, I see it as smoke and mirrors--an elaborate magic trick used to hide what really goes on behind the scenes. The powers that be--made up of those already in power and their financial supporters--are in a position to handpick our current and future leaders in an effort to retain their money and power. The changing power between the Democrats and Republicans is in place to make Americans believe there are different ideologies out there (and to give them a fight to focus on instead of the reality).

Look at our present circumstances. After eight years of "Republican" control of the White House (which was preceded by eight years of "Democrat" control), Barak Obama was swept easily into office. The thing is, I had a difficult time telling much of a difference in stand between Obama and McCain in the issues. Even more telling were their actions. Both Obama and McCain backed those massive bank bailouts and "stimulus" packages. This amounts to corporate welfare on a grand scale. The argument was, "We had to do this to keep the economy going." The reality was, big corporations were dying (and needed to in our evolutionary process). In an attempt to hang on to that money and power, those behind the scenes made sure their immediate needs were met.

Years of American apathy have allowed these circumstances to prevail. For the most part, life has been good in America. People had what they needed, and those with a little more ambition could increase their standard of living through hard work and good ideas. Now that the ecomony has bottomed out in the transition from industry to technology, people are beginning to wake up to the fact that all is not quite right in the world.

So what is the answer to this question of unbalanced power? We all need to think and act differently. Conventional wisdom tells us to listen to "both sides" and determine what sounds like the most workable idea. However, isn't this the same "wisdom" that got us into this mess in the first place? It's the wisdom society has taught us, and it carries all the flaws and biases inherent in that society.

The key is to find the wisdom of the heart. On a spiritual/energetic level, we are all connected. Have you ever been in a group and laughed at a shared joke or sung a moving song? Did you feel a part of a bigger collective? What about 9/11? Did you feel the world's collective pain during this catastrophic event? This is the sort of connection that exists within all things, and we have the ability to connect to it when we focus on doing so. This the shared wisdom that takes everyone into consideration and wants the best for all concerned. Such is the wisdom of the heart.

As a society--as a world--it is important to learn to make these internal connections to see the truth in all things. You may choose to call it God or global consciousness or energy--what you call it is unimportant. What is important is learning to access it. When you are connected, you begin to see what society is trying to hide. The truth will really set us free. When we have access to the truth, we can make better choices. We can make a better world. The problems in politics will be erased as we learn to make choices based on these internal connections--the connections of the heart.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Source of My Anger

Anger has been an issue in my life from the time I was quite small. I can remember fighting with my sisters and arguing with my best childhood friend. I can even remember breaking the movable thumb of my Shopping Sheryl doll when I got angry and threw it during the middle of a tantrum (my doll was never the same but I did learn not to throw important things). As I've gotten older, the anger is still there, just much more hidden. It is only in the past few months I have gained the insight on it I need to deal with it in a much more contructive way, for I have been investigating the source of my anger.

In the past, I spent a great deal of time blaming other people for that anger. "He talked about me in a way that was unfair" or "she took credit for something I did" are the sorts of ideas I would use to justify my feelings. It seems rather obvious to me now, but the fact is until recently I have never actually taken responsibility for my anger!

As I look at anger in a rational way, there are two factors that seem to play a major role in it: my perceptions about how others should act and the way I feel about those actions. My question then becomes, how should people act? What are the standards we use to measure the actions of others and why do those actions make me feel like they do? My conclusion is we are taught by our culture what is right and wrong and we are taught by that same culture the appropriate reactions.

To illustrate my point, I'll give you an amusing example. When my younger sister was in high school, her best friend was a Chinese immigrant. In America, it is considered poor manners to burp at the table, but in her best friend's culture, burping at the table was considered a compliment to the chef. Even though the best friend and her parents were very Americanized, the best friend's grandparents were not. It took all my sister's self-control not to laugh whenever she ate a meal at her friend's house because the loud burps coming from the grandparents struck her as uncomfortable (although highly amusing).

As I walk through my own anger, I realize I am in judgment of others because of what I have been taught about "appropriate" actions. Anger is often justified when the other player is not following your rules!

My other thought is this (which I have already written about in great detail in my Sept. 15th, 2010 edition of this blog): the actions other people take are not really about me. The actions others take in life are a reflection of where they are in their human journey. Their actions and reactions which hurt me are also learned!

Like anything else, anger is a choice. I can choose to accept the world's evaluation of the situation as correct and become angry, or I can accept the actions of others as a reflection of their life's journey and go about my usual business. The source of my anger is not the actions of others. The source of my anger is me. Time to take responsibility for that anger and move beyond it on this journey of self-discovery.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trusting the Divine

My stress level has reached critical mass these past few weeks. Now that the holiday season is over, my husband's seasonal job is over and my hours have been drastically reduced. We still have a couple other forms of income, but those just barely cover the regular bills. There isn't any extra for little things like food or gasoline. To complicate matters further, my husband doesn't seem to want to work (some depression may be involved).

Then there's the fact that I have spent the past several years diligently searching for my life's purpose. During the course of this journey, I have been given some new perspectives which have totally changed me as I have been forced to redefine myself. There are several things I have concluded about my life's work. I want to write. (This has actually been true since I was twelve.) I want to teach spiritual principles and get paid to do so. The kicker is, just this week I was inspired with an idea for a book which would combine the two in a very entertaining way. For the first time in my life ideas flowed in amazing ways, and details came that made my story seem real. I am honestly feeling Divinely led and inspired.

So what's the problem? Basically, my worldly wisdom, which I have relied on for years, has kicked into high gear. It takes weeks if not months to write a decent novel, especially one that involves deep spiritual principles. Then there's the problem of actually getting an agent to represent it and a publisher who may want to tackle it. As an unknown writer, this is a huge hurdle. If all that isn't bad enough, it would take much longer to sell it to the public and even then it might not take off. It could be a very long time before I see any reward from my current labor.

On the other hand, my intuition is saying, "Trust in the Divine. You have been inspired with this brilliant vehicle geared to exactly what you dream of doing in life. Take it one day at a time. The Universe will conspire together to make it all happen for you." I do believe the dreams we have are Divinely inspired and that when we truly believe in our dreams the circumstances for allowing those dreams to come true show up.

To follow this dream, more than mere faith is required. It involves an inner knowing that this is the way things are meant to be. You have to feel that the Universe is standing behind you, cheering you on and providing for your needs along the way. For me, it feels like jumping into a treacherous ravine intentionally. Still, if I don't take the chance, am I doomed to failure of my life's work? I close my mind to what the world teaches, trusting the Divine to catch me in midair as I transition from reliance on worldly thought to reliance on inspired thought.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Honoring the Journey

I haven't always honored my journey. I grew up as a Christian in America. Consequently, I was taught to think poorly of myself when I "sinned" and made mistakes. I also learned society's lessons that my worth was based on the money I earned and the prestige my job brought. Considering I am exceptionally good at making mistakes and I've chosen to devote myself to motherhood while my children are growing up, my life by those standards is definitely below par. Still, I can't say I am unhappy with my life. I have learned to honor where I have been, where I am and where I am going.

The key to this state of mind has not come without struggle. I consider myself a fairly intelligent, talented person, but my outward life does not reflect my abilities. I spent years in a state of depression obsessing over what my life was not. What brought me out of it was understanding what my journey was truly all about.

As I looked about at my past experiences, I realized something profound. My greatest growth has always taken place during my greatest struggles. Every time I chose to see the pain in my life and try to cope with it, I learned something. I may have had to try several times to get it right, but in the process I became someone better--stronger, more compassionate, more loving. Those times where I was happy felt great, but I didn't learn a lot from them. I have learned to value mistakes and troubles for the growth they produce in me!

Life is not about the destination. It is about the journey. You struggle, make mistakes, learn from them, then go on to new struggles and new lessons. Life truly is about growth. I accept my talent for making mistakes. I accept my higher self is working toward perfection. I acknowledge this human journey, and I choose to honor it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Layers of Understanding

I have an appreciation for people older than myself--especially those who have achieved great age. Life has a way of giving new insights to old problems as you go along. Consequently, I value the insights of those who have already lived through some of the problems I currently deal with. With life experiences come new layers of understanding, new ways of coping in the world. Sometimes in our self-centered humanness we perceive that the very nature of truth has changed. The reality is what has changed is our understanding.

In my twenties, I had an experience with my grandmother that pained me a little. In talking to her about my cousin's wedding, she made the statement that my cousin made the most beautiful bride she had ever seen. What hurt me was that she had been to my wedding shortly before and even my sister's shortly after. My first thought was, "What am I? Chopped liver?" However, it really wasn't a huge deal and I let it go.

Several years later, I was talking to my mother. During the course of the conversation, she began to discuss how my cousin was more like my grandmother's daughter, as my grandmother had a large hand in raising my cousin because of the health problems of her parents. At that point, I realized why my grandmother had made the statement she had about my cousin being the most beautiful bride she had ever seen. My cousin was her daughter in many respects!

Within the past year, I have gotten even more insight into the whole situation. You see, I have been dealing with a daughter who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder. Even though my daughter is smart and has many talents, she is also very troubled and has been her whole life. She has never been what the world would call "normal". Consequently, it has taken me years to accept my daughter will never have the perfect life one hopes for their children. In looking back at the family history, my aunt (my cousin's mother) had very similar problems to my daughter. Understanding how my experiences with my daughter have pained me, I know my grandmother felt similar pain when thinking about her own daughter. My cousin, on the other hand, is much more "normal". She found a wonderful husband and they have had a terrific life together. Deep down, my grandmother recognized this. In my cousin, my grandmother finally had the happy ending she once longed to have in her own daughter. Because of this new insight, I am now happy in the realization that my grandmother finally found some peace and hope. That is what her statement meant.

There's an old adage that time heals all wounds. I believe this has a lot to do with the fact that experience often brings insights which lead to wisdom, mellowing the pain of the experience. Truth does not change, although our understanding of it often does. The difference lies in additional insights which change our perspectives from what they once were. These layers of understanding add a richness and depth to our lives here on earth. They add to our understanding of truth, and ultimately truth is what we are here to discover.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cleaning the Clutter

Clutter and disorganization are two very big problems I have. It seems I just keep accumulating more and more stuff which keeps piling up, and I am afraid to get rid of it for fear of needing it in the future. Still, I often think there is more to it than meets the eye. What am I really afraid to let go of?

On many levels, objects can be comforting. They represent having enough. They represent security. Unconsciously, we may believe that if we have enough we won't have to worry anymore. Even more important for me personally, I don't always feel I can trust the Universe to provide me with what I need when I need it. Saving things for a "rainy day" has always been my way of coping with the fear of not having enough.

Still, when I look back at my life, I know I have always received what I needed (although sometimes just in the nick of time!). At many times and in many ways, I have been greatly blessed. What has been most uncomfortable about the process is the transition--the change. There is always a point of wondering what is going to happen and being unsure of the new things taking place. When we don't know the exact outcome, there is always room for doubt. It is part of the growth process, but it is not easy.

During New Year's, we have a tendency to focus on the changes we need to make in the coming year. Change is the key word. It's time for me to change. It's time to let go of those things which are holding me back from the blessings life has to offer. Time to clean out the clutter. I'm taking a deep breath...and letting go.