Present Tense

On chaos…

eye-1My husband Dee just came into my office and shared a quote with me: “Life and chaos go hand in hand; that is life.”

This is indisputable isn’t it?  Life is chaos, but it’s all in how we perceive it.  Is it chaos or is it actually very orderly?

If we were were to look inside of our bodies, we would see a billion processes going on. Cells rushing here and there, manufacturing this and processing that. Digesting, making blood, building bones, moving oxygen molecules and that doesn’t even take into account the immensity of what is happening in our brains.

Under a microscope, it looks like complete and utter chaos. But, in reality, it’s not.  Everything has order and a job and a purpose.  It would appear to be a lot of rushing around, but it isn’t random, so it isn’t really ‘chaos’, is it?

Chaos is a human construct or definition.  It’s our perception of actions and events and yes, even thoughts, that we label as chaotic.  Watch a video of people in Grand Central Station in New York City or just look at kids changing classes in a school.  Bustling, confusing, busy, but they are all going someplace.  It is actually orderly.

So, if we change our perception of chaos or as we like to call the current events that are happening now, a shit storm, we may see that underneath all of this seeming random craziness, there is order; a purpose.

I’m reading a couple of interesting books about the historical cycles on earth.  In a nutshell, the premise is that we go through various cycles with each generation. Those of us born within the same rough time frame, say 15 years, experience and react quite differently from those who are older or younger than we are.  Their formative years, were not our formative years.  Events and energies were altered.

But like the stars in the sky, these cycles repeat roughly every 80 years and we can predict or at least be aware of the human ‘energy’ of these periods.

It’s really fascinating and I know there is an astrological component, but that’s not what I want to talk about. My point is that there are catalyst events within these cycles that change us and our world.  They have to happen.  Disruption must occur.  By the way, I prefer disruption over the term chaos because chaos has such a negative connotation and without disruption, life cannot evolve.

For instance, the American Revolution birthed a nation like the world had never seen before, predicated on self-determination, rather than birthright. Yes, I know, we aren’t perfect, but ‘chaos’ created something amazing.

The Civil War was another disruptive event.  Quite horrible at the time ( a true understatement, forgive me), but it resulted in the end of slavery.

We can look at many, many events and some of them didn’t have good outcomes. For instance 9/11 seems to have ushered in an era of suspicion, overreaction and a rise of government invasion of our privacy.  We can argue that, but it’s kind of inarguable if you’ve traveled by plane lately.  However, when we look back in 50 years, we may see the true effects. History needs time to unfold.

It was a cyclical catalyst. And they will ALWAYS happen.  In order to build and evolve, we have to have destruction.  We have to have disruption.  It is life.

We see it in nature, every single year.  In the fall, everything dies and goes dormant.  It lays there all winter and in the spring, rebirth.  Summer is luscious and abundant and lavish.  Then, autumn comes and we slowly wind down to begin the next cycle. This happens without fail.

Our reactions and perceptions are key in these events.  If we were to begin to understand and embrace these disruptions, we could save ourselves a lot of pain and anguish. I know that’s very hard to do.

This is the core purpose of a spiritual practice.  To be the eye of this constant storm of disruption that is life.  It’s always a swirling, spinning, living, dying, exploding, building, crazy, scary and beautiful process.

A spiritual practice grounds and centers us to be comfortable in the eye of this storm of life. To sit and allow this to spin around us, seeing the disruption for what it is: life and the development and evolution of our species.

Yes, it can be overwhelming and sad and shocking, but that is what is it is to be human.  And it has always been and will always be.

Imagine what would happen if let’s say, a billion of us just stepped out of the chaos and into the center of the storm.  We just take ourselves out of the swirling mess via meditation and putting our faith in a higher power or however you choose to practice.

What would happen?  The storm would lessen.  We could begin to see a little more clearly what is really happening.  We would hold space for the necessary disruptions to occur without adding to it in a negative way.  This does not mean ‘giving up’.  It means taking time to gain some clarity and focus.  A gathering of our strength.

So many people have asked me how I managed to navigate my mother’s recent death with a calmness and serenity and acceptance.  Truly, people have reached out and asked me this.

I didn’t do anything that people haven’t done for thousands and thousands of years. But, for me, a spiritual component was the most important aspect of embracing her birth into spirit.  I used ritual, ceremony, meditation and faith.

These practices are available to all of us; this is ancient wisdom from all cultures that will help us cope and thrive.  It’s not woo woo or airy fairy or superstitious.  This is part of our humanity. We need help dealing with the world and with being human. It’s hard.  And we don’t get that help from man made institutions, most of which are now crumbling before our eyes.

Our faith must be put back into each of us, as humans.  Not the government or the military or the police or the banks or the corporations or sadly, the church.

It’s time to awaken to the mysteries of your own soul.  To use these practices and rituals and strategies to cope with what seems to be chaos, but is really an evolution of humanity that seems confusing and frightening and unstable.

Yes, it is all of those things, but history is full of similar circumstances. The difference is that we have modern technology to shove it in our faces and into our minds and bodies, 24/7.

Find your practice.  Find your tribe.  Embrace the quiet and the ancient wisdom that is available to you. You have the world at your fingertips now.  Read, contemplate, join, support, ask for support, get quiet and remove yourself from the storm.  Step into the eye.

Embrace the chaos, for it is life.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

We’re depending on you

Head in HandsWhat the HELL is going on in the world? What is wrong with people? We could turn those phrases into a drinking game this week and we’d all be drunker than skunks if you took a shot every time those words were spoken.

It’s crazy right now, but the interesting thing is that even though we do have some common pains and worries, we don’t really have common solutions. Another mass shooting: one side calls for stricter gun laws, another for looser ones. Another instance of alleged police misconduct resulting in a civilian death: one side says police have a hard job and we should always respect that, while the other side says that the police are the enemy.

And the frustrating thing for me is that these issues seem to always divide along party lines. If you’re in one party, you must believe this, which will of course, be the exact opposite of those ‘idiots’ in the other party. Sound familiar? And then there are those who actually use their brains and their other emotions besides fear and anger, who reside in the Venn Diagram where our values and common sense and empathy intersect.

Unfortunately, the places where we get our news, particularly on TV, rarely enter that fairly large area of agreement. Not good for business. Much better to keep people afraid and angry and suspicious of ‘the other side’ because it’s great for ratings.

So, here we are. Stuck. Angry. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Dug in. Barricaded in our belief system, with no intention of learning about how others came to their world view.

Now, that is scary. A bunch of humans, glaring at each other through their tiny peepholes in the giant door that protects them from people who disagree with them. What a way to live, eh?

You know how on the internet or Facebook or whatever, videos of cute baby animals and baby humans tend to spread like wildfire? That is because we all universally (okay I know there are some of you with very dark and scared souls who refuse to enjoy puppies and kittens…which is a shame) feel a swelling of good emotions while watching them. They are cute and innocent and funny and we just wanna squeeze ‘em. That is because we are connected. By universal love.  Massive, global warm and fuzzies.

There are also those stories and shares of brutality and pain and suffering that receive millions of views and hits. In these cases, we are all connected by that universal pain. We all feel it. We all suffer. We all are connected. Do you understand what this means?

It means that we have to begin to acknowledge our commonality, rather than our differences. We are connected. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one triumphs or feels joy and love, we all do. It spreads and covers us and lifts us up and knocks us down. We are all one on a soul level.

This is the basic teaching of every single major religion and spiritual path. Love your fellow beings, for they are you. But, it’s hard, isn’t it? Everyone is so flawed and complicated and imperfect and blah, blah, blah.

We are at a tipping point. I believe that this is a time to awaken to the clarity that is available to us. I would not presume to know how you will do that, as we are all on our own path to awakening…or not. But, if you feel like things are not working, begin to question your beliefs and the collective beliefs we’ve taken as hard truth.

That is step #1. Question everything. What you have carried around as a belief for years and years is probably not really based on anything but what you were taught by other flawed humans. Core beliefs can evolve, despite the conventional wisdom that says otherwise. We’ve seen a huge evolution in our lifetime on various issues.

What have we been taught as Americans? Growth, progress, technological supremacy, military superpower, USA is #1, work over family, we know best as a nation, might makes right, money and wealth is the ultimate goal, we have dominion over the earth, etc.

A lot of us are questioning those values because they don’t seem to be valid any longer. We are fat, sick, mired in massive debt, destroying our environment, working longer and harder for less, feeling as if we have to aspire to great wealth, but not having the means or training or education or connections to achieve it.

So, re-think. Re-tool your belief system. Maybe fulfillment comes from a more nurturing place. Maybe you’ll begin to feel those connections to all things on earth, including other humans that you don’t quite understand. Love yourself, find yourself, connect with your soul.

Find a way. We’re all depending on you.

For an audio version of this post, click below

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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