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

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

What is your path?

I’ve been trying to muster up a post for a couple of weeks.  The problem is that I’ve been working on emptying my mind and letting go of my need to comment and opine so constantly.  That doesn’t work so well when you have a blog and a radio show, so I’m beginning to learn how to rope off areas where I am more circumspect in my running commentary and still able to have a perspective that is entertaining or informative and not holier-than-thou.

I already addressed my plan to cut back on the Facebook time, which has been successful.  I check in sporadically and will post this on my FB account.

I am deepening my meditation practice and have been studying the hows and whys of a type of Buddhist meditation, which is bit different from meditation designed for stress relief.  I’m a big proponent of the latter, by the way and found it very helpful for me in terms of cutting some of the chatter in my brain.

But, I want to go a little deeper into the spirituality, ritual and philosophy of Buddhism and that requires pushing the re-set button on many of my ingrained reactions to life.  I’m starting to see that I can be committed to Buddhist concepts and still be an effective communicator.  I can be happy and funny and entertaining, while trying to stay on course.  Spirituality doesn’t HAVE to mean no sense of humor, although often the newly spiritual seem to think so.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Buddhism here in the U.S. and I shared them until I began to study a bit.  Having said that, I am by no means an expert.  The Buddha became enlightened 2500 years ago and teaches us that as humans, we all suffer.  We suffer from our egos, our cravings, our lack of compassion for ourselves and others and most importantly we suffer because we deny the impermanence of all things.  Bottom line:  when we try to control the uncontrollable (our lives), we suffer.  What’s gonna happen, is gonna happen and so we might as well learn to deal with it; to develop some flexibility and yes, a sense of humor about the randomness of our lives on earth.

That is where meditation comes in.  We use meditation to train our minds to let go of the stuff that we can’t control.  We sit and we learn to focus on our breath and when the mind takes off on a tangent of worry, anger, fear, planning, analyzing, etc. we bring it back to the breath.  Over time, we can begin to calm the runaway train of our minds.  We learn that everything is fleeting in life; good times come and go, bad times come and go and we carry on.  For me, the realness of knowing that we all suffer the same difficulties and in the end, the same fate is not only comforting, but a source of energy and joy.  We’re all connected in our humanity and in our suffering, as humans.

I know a lot of my friends think I’m on some airy-fairy trip and that I will soon be chanting in my robes at the airport, so here is my message to you:  that’s not my plan and why should you care if it was?  I’ve often wondered why in a country that was allegedly founded on “freedom of religion”, we are so closed-minded about anything that isn’t Christianity?

The old me would have gone on a rant about that, but the new me will not; I will go sit on my cushion in my little basement sanctuary and focus on my breath.  We all choose our own path, which by the way, we can reverse at any given moment.  Are you on the right one?

March 3, 2013 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

   

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