Present Tense

Don’t Know Mind

surrender2016 is the year of the purge; a time to cleanse. Every astrological, metaphysical and spiritual video/newsletter/blog that has shown up in my inbox over the past week has reiterated this same theme. It’s the year to leave some wounds behind and get your shit together. We can’t build anything new, until we expunge the old. Shred it, smash it, burn it. Just do it.

I’ve recently gone back to reading some things with the Buddhist tone or theme that awakened me 5 or 6 years ago, as I began to re-shape my life and my reactions to my life. The overriding theme of Buddhism, to me anyway, is that we cause ourselves and others so much pain by our lack of honesty and clarity. We cling to what “should be”, rather than what is. In Buddhist terms, that is called suffering.

We do it all day, every day. Because we are humans. Because we live in our minds and we make up stories about how other people should behave. We judge, we criticize, we rant, we argue. In some horrible instances, we shoot, we stab, we blow up, we murder or sanction murder via our leaders and governments. All in pursuit of our need to control what “should be”.

Painful, isn’t it? Yes. And it affects our personal health, both physical and emotional, our global health and obviously, our spiritual health, which some believe is actually beginning to come back from the dead, despite so much evidence to the contrary on the 24 hour news channels.

Accepting ‘what is’ and letting go of ‘what should be’ is one of the greatest paths to clarity. At least it has been for me. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t suffer and rage, just like you. I do, but I’m more and more able to arrest it more quickly, thanks to meditation and practice.

One of the most obvious ways that we suffer from ‘should be’ syndrome is with politics. We are all so invested in the outcome of elections that we fight and argue and call the other side awful names and in too many cases, expunge those who disagree with us from our lives or our Facebook friend list.

I’m not voting in the Presidential election this year. I’ve been lectured, I’ve been cajoled, I’ve been criticized and called selfish for this decision. I’ve been told, “well, then you can’t complain if you don’t vote”. Really? Watch me.

Here’s why I’ve made this choice: Every 4 years, we choose teams and then we fight and we name call and we invest a lot of time advocating, often with great hostility, for our team. It’s painful and frustrating and time consuming to go all in for one candidate or the other.

Then, we have an election. Half of the people celebrate. “We won!!”. The other half are bitterly disappointed. “Our lives will be horrible, now”. Neither is true. So, again, we are living with what “should be”, rather than “what is”.

The losing team, now spends the next 4 years berating, complaining and hoping for complete and utter failure of the winning team. There is no compromise, no tackling of problems or working toward solutions. New problems and crises arise and the losers complain bitterly that it’s all the winners’ fault.

The winners refuse to see that there might be some credence in the philosophy of the other side. That the losing team might have some good ideas. “Elections matter. We won. You lost. SHUT UP.”

Sound familiar. Sound painful and non-productive and silly?

We are all too invested in outcomes. We all just want to win and be right and then rub the losers’ noses in it. Nothing really changes. Nothing gets solved and it is a vicious, every-4-years cycle that I choose to remove myself from.

I honestly don’t care who wins. I have to live my life regardless of who is elected as the Leader of the Free World. So, why invest? I have to deal with ‘what is’ after an election. Period. This is referred to as “don’t know mind”. In other words none of us can ever predict an outcome with any accuracy at all, so why try? Any one of those running could be a great leader or a horrible one. We just don’t know, do we?

Think about some instances in your life that seemed tragic or painful or catastrophic, that actually resulted in a decent outcome or at the very least, some personal growth. I was fired from several jobs. In that moment, it was horrible, but I ended up in better situations.

I suffered some very painful losses of loved ones over the course of a short time and yes, it was extremely painful, but I’ve had a spiritual growth spurt thanks to that shock.

We honestly have no idea of the consequences of any action. Embrace that, open up to it and begin to let go of the ‘should be’ and live with ‘what is’.

So, what if we just remain open to whatever arises? What if after the election we accept the outcome and accept that we have no idea whether it will be good or bad? Because it will be; good and bad and calm and chaotic and scarce and abundant. That is life. Accept it for what it is. You will adapt, you will change, you will be forced to.

And that’s okay. Nobody is right or wrong.

Life has a way of making us face reality anyway. Might as well be two steps ahead, eh? Embrace the ‘know nothing’ mind. Be free. Surrender.

January 30, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are you, you?

differenttt“We realize–often quite suddenly–that our sense of self, which has been formed and constructed out of our ideas, beliefs and images, is not really who we are. It doesn’t define us, it has no center.”
― Adyashanti

I’ve gone through a fairly thorough scrubbing and cleansing of my mind over the past few years. The result has been a profound alteration in the way I see the world; politics, religion, love, hate, humility, suffering, pain, spirituality, money, food, vanity, creativity. All of them have been under the microscope of my own introspective inner eyeballs.

When you do this and begin to alter your beliefs and more importantly your reactions, it throws other people off considerably. At least once a week, someone has said something along the lines of “I thought you and I agreed on politics/religion/values/etc”. The under-current being, of course, “you’re not who I thought you were.”

Oh, well. I’m not who I thought I was, either. So, there. We can agree on that, right?

Based on my many conversations in person, online and in various groups that I belong to, this questioning is building into what could be described as a spiritual epidemic. We are questioning conventional wisdom and our long-held personal beliefs en masse.

This has brought us to a place of great discomfort for many. To let go of what you thought was ‘true’ and ‘right’ and comfortable, is to feel the earth rumble under your feet. It’s like a case of psychic vertigo, where you can’t quite find a foothold or a handle; you feel like a kid who spent a little too much time on the playground merry-go-round. Buzzy and confused.

But, as kids, didn’t we kinda love that feeling? That out of control, dizziness where you felt as if you weren’t solidly on the planet? You sort of thought if you spun around long enough, you might levitate right up into the sky.

As adults, we tend like firm footing. We know what we think and we have strong opinions based on….um, well…something.

We are tribal. I’ve written this so many times and we like it when we find people who we think are of our tribe. That translates into people who agree with us. People who ‘share our values’, whatever that means.

When you begin to evolve and for lack of a better word, awaken and begin to question your ‘truths’, your tribe won’t like it. Not one little bit. Because suddenly, they may begin to question and that is not a comfy place to be, is it?

But, we’re all grown ups here and if we look around the U.S. and the world, we can see that challenging the status quo and the monied interests and conventional wisdom is rampant. It’s causing fear, chaos, imbalance. Those who have been in power for a very long time, certainly don’t like this uppity attitude from the ‘peasants’. They feel the ground shifting as well.

I think this is part of a much larger transformation of humanity; humans 2.0, if you like. The metaphysical world believes that this began around December of 2012, with a shift in energy. In astrological terms, we are nearing the end of a cycle where Pluto transits from Capricorn (patriarchy, authority, plutocracy, status, wealth, power) into Aquarius (divine feminine, nurturing, thinking, sharing, problem solving) over the next decade or so.

Many of you will poo poo this airy-fairy stuff, but admit it: you can feel it. You can feel a shift that is happening in our nation and you feel it in yourself. You’re questioning your life, your choices, the very essence of WHO YOU ARE.

Are you fulfilling what your soul craves? Are you where you want to be, doing what you want to do, with the people you want to be with? You’re questioning your job, what you eat, how you eat, how you treat others, how you treat the planet, what you really want out of your leaders and your government.

It’s a sea change. We are on the crest of a huge wave of transition and change and yes, possibly enlightenment.

So, the next time you find out that someone isn’t exactly who you thought they were or if someone throws that down on you, stop for a minute. Question your own truths. Do they REALLY serve you or do they serve your tribal leaders thatneed you to follow along? If you have changed, just smile and tell them that you are much more comfortable being who you really are.

Be you. Be brave. Ride the wave. You’ve no other choice, really.

January 17, 2016 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The answer is spirit

Minolta DSCI have this theory and I share it every chance that I get. My theory is this: we as humans, are not evolved enough to function effectively in the modern world. Technology and the pace of life has outstripped our ability to process and adapt.

Look around and you will see stress, chaos, anger, frustration, violence, fear, road rage, supermarket rage, Facebook rage. We are chronically offended, scared, angry, busy, fat, sick, unloved, confused, over-medicated. This is primarily in our wealthy and powerful 1st world country. The problems in the 3rd world are even more dire.

The world is exploding and we are paralyzed to react, other than with anger, fear, closing borders, blaming the ‘others’. It’s damned painful, isn’t it?

We don’t understand ourselves right now. We feel as if we’re trapped between two worlds or planes of existence. We were told that technology and progress would save the world; would lessen our burdens and infinitely enhance our ‘quality of life’. But, not so much, eh?

We aren’t ready for all of this. We aren’t ready to live in the big, wide world. It’s too much. Too much information, too much chaos, too much to do and to buy and to hoard. For many of us, too much pain.

Too much.

So, what do do? How the hell do we begin to cope and to see a way forward?

Spirit.

There are many who claim to be religious, but are you in touch with spirit? Do you embrace the sacred and the divine, meaning that you believe and realize that we are all connected. All of us and every single thing on earth and in the cosmos. We share energy and when the energy becomes so negative that we can barely stand to be in our own skin, we have to actively attempt to change it.

Here is what I and millions and millions of others, throughout time, have used to try and tap into this energy: meditation. You can call it prayer, if you’re more comfortable with that, but I believe that prayer and meditation are subtly different. However, the main objective is to quiet the mind, tap into this infinite energy that animates and surrounds and connects us to all that is.

This is a practice. Think of it as part of your personal hygiene regimen. It’s emotional, mental and spiritual hygiene. We need this as humans. The ancient wisdom all speaks of various forms of leaving our bodies, to commune with other spirits and the spirits of the universe.

You can do it alone or you can join with others. We need group energy. We need to get back to ceremony and ritual. We need that as we need food and water and air and fire.

Some of you may have watched Oprah Winfrey’s recent 7 part series called “Belief”. Although it didn’t dig very deeply into religious or spiritual tradition, the one thing that I took away from it was this: we need ceremony and ritual and actual physical gatherings to sustain us. We crave a ‘tribe’ to celebrate and reflect on rights of passage, growth, death, birth, love, belonging. We are too scattered and too divided and fragmented.

In order to begin to make sense out of this global chaos, we need to make sense of us. Make sense of our lives, our purpose, what animates us; we need to find a way to listen to our souls and then to begin to share that with others.

Be honest. You feel this, too. Maybe you can’t quite articulate it because of the unease, fear and anxiety you’re feeling. You may feel foolish, as you’ve rejected religion and spirituality for some reason. It’s not scientific or factual or concrete or ‘modern’. You might have to take a leap of faith that is airy-fairy and some of those close to you may mock your interest in something so lacking in ‘proof’.

That of course, is the beauty of faith and spirit and belief. Once you commit, you begin to see and feel proof. You begin to trust your feelings and intuition and you start to KNOW something that you dared not think about, in these times of technology and progress.

It’s ancient and it’s in your DNA, both physical and spiritual. Give in. Embrace. Know yourself and you will begin to know and love others. You will begin to see what we’re doing to each other, to the earth, to all that is around us.

I promise.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Into the Fire

burningLast week, as I was fixing my morning coffee I looked out the window and saw my husband burning some brush in our fire pit. I had a pile of paperwork that I was planning to shred and decided to just toss them in the fire.

Once I got outside, I discovered that I had also grabbed a small notepad and as I tossed the papers into the fire I felt a tug of inspiration that urged me to make a list of things that I wanted to dispose of. Ya gotta burn it down, to allow it to rise up.

I finished my initial task and ran back into the house for a pen and a coffee refill. I grabbed one of our big, old heavy Adirondack chairs and hunkered down in front of the fire to spill it all out. These were things that I wanted to root out, look at in the light of day and then burn to ashes.

At the top of the page, I simply wrote “let go”. Here is my list:

Ego
Grief
Fear
Resentment
Rejection
Failure
Humiliation
Not fitting in
Control
Hatred
Frustration
Limitations
Conventional wisdom
Second guessing
Crusty, old beliefs
Overreaction
Panic
Cultural knots and entanglements
Behaving as you “should”
Material lust
Status seeking

This was stream of consciousness. Things that I felt were holding me back in some way. I didn’t over-think or take more than 10 minutes to compile the list. I then stood before the fire, read it aloud, asked for guidance from spirit and tossed it in to the fire.

Done. BAM! Burned.

I looked up and saw a big, beautiful hawk soaring overhead. I watched him for a few minutes and as he circled closer and closer, I thanked him for acknowledging my ceremony.

Ceremony and ritual are important parts of the human experience and in modern times, we often forget. There is no time or inclination any longer. Fewer and fewer of us attend church or any kind of spiritual gathering and we suffer for it.

There is something inside us, that has been there from the very beginning that craves connection with the Divine and we ignore it at our peril. I believe that is why we have such a callous attitude toward others and toward the Earth. We’ve lost touch with this spark, but we can make the time, even if it’s just us, all alone, to reignite it.

As I walked back to the house after my ‘cleansing’, I felt lighter, freer, empowered, calm, loved.  I’d taken just a little time and made a connection with not only my soul, but with what animates it. Spirit and energy and God and creator are all around us, at all times. Tap in. When you feel an urge, as I did, follow it. Be with yourself, create some minor rituals and try to develop a daily practice, even if it’s 5 minutes, to connect with the thing that is greater than you.

To listen to the audio of this blog:

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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