Saturday, December 3, 2016

How many lives do we touch?

A few weeks ago, when I was getting ready to have my cataract surgery, I posted a small simple request on my Facebook page and said that I would appreciate any healing energy or prayers that anyone would want to send me for a successful surgery. Even though my sister had the same surgery with the same surgeon and was happy with the results, it still was a strange thought to have someone cutting on my eye, so even though I trusted the surgeon, it was a strange unsettling thought. So I got ready by reaffirming that I trusted him to do his job on me excellently as he had done on many other people, and that everything would go well and I would be able to see clearly again.

So I thought that perhaps a handful of my friends would respond. Then during the next couple of days nearly 100 people wished me well and said that they would send prayers and healing energy.

I was totally blown away by this response. I had no expectation or preconceived notion of what would happen, so this just opened a whole new window for me to see through.

Among the responses were acknowledgments from people who I had helped in some way, some of whom I had forgotten about because I thought what I did for them was small. But obviously to those people, what I did for them was memorable. Some of that may have been as simple as sending them healing energy when they needed it. For others, it was a reading that confirmed or clarified a tough choice or difficult situation they were facing. For others it might have been that I helped them feel better when they really needed it or encouraged them to pursue their dreams rather than settle for something else.

The important lesson here is that every day we touch the lives of others, and we may not be conscious of how much that may mean to them. I think that we all have a tendency to keep the big things in mind but what is small to one person may be big to another person.

Every day, I affirm that I am here to be of service to others through the work I do, and I promise my spirit guides that I will help whoever they send me, and that I will need their help to do all this. I consciously acknowledge this help, which is how I stay in the flow. I know that everything will get done because they are helping to get it done. And that is why some things may seem small to me, because they helped me to do it, and the flow of energies just eased everything along.

This enormous response has made me even more aware of all these interactions, and in so doing, has increased my commitment to do even more. This was a simple, yet powerful demonstration that the good energies we put out in the world come back to us, so we always need to be aware of the energies we are putting out. Having a positive attitude every day makes a difference.

Things people have said recently really touched me in profound ways because it had been years since the original contact. Or things that transpired between us that flowed in the course of a day's work for me, yet it was something that had a memorable effect on someone else. It is always my intention to be helpful to whoever comes to me for whatever reason, my vow is to be of service. Sometimes I know how that helped and sometimes I don't. Being acknowledged in this way affirms the value and efficacy of my work. That moment of realization is stunning and life affirming. Thank you for that.

How many lives do we touch? Are we conscious of how we touch them?

What lessons do we learn from each of the people we meet? Sometimes these are great lessons, but remember even small, simple lessons can be great. If we each help others when we are able, the whole world becomes a better place, one person, one action at a time.

At this time of year, of course, there is always a frenzy about shopping and gift giving. This is part of our culture. But let me shift your focus just a little.

How would December be different if we all just realized that we are the real gifts we give each other? Yes, of course, some goods would still be exchanged, and there would be many parties, concerts and grand celebrations.

Focus on this thought for a moment. What if we considered that every person we interact with, every person who is part of our lives, even if only for a few moments or a few hours, as a gift? How would we treat each person differently?

We have probably all experienced times when just a kind look, a friendly smile or some act of generosity helped make someone's day. Or when someone asks for help or advice and you just do that with their best interests in mind. Doesn't that feel good?

How do our interactions change if we begin each encounter with an assumption that we are all here to help each other? Everything would flow better, wouldn't it?

What would happen if you took a few moments to express your gratitude to those who are and have been helpful and kind to you? What waves of good energy could we stir up and all it would take is a word, a call, an email, a message to let those people know that you appreciate them. If we are all giving and receiving this kind of energy, what kind of world would we be living in?

If you would like to find out, try this simple exercise. Having been the recipient of this lately, it has been a very heart opening experience that is still shifting my feelings and ideas. It is both humbling and encouraging.

Yes, since my eye surgery, I am learning to see again.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Power of Gratitude

All of us appreciate when someone expresses gratitude to us, and when we express gratitude to others, we put in motion a good feeling that always comes back around. Thanking someone else for what they did for us can make their whole day sometimes. We all have our work to do and in the course of a day, how often do we really express appreciation to each other? I mean sincere appreciation, not just thanks and duck out the door. When we know we have done good work for someone and they take the time to acknowledge us, it can make our day. And we can make their day.

What a simple, yet powerful act, and we all have the ability to stir up these wonderful feelings in ourselves and others. When we express gratitude to others, they are, in turn, inspired to express it to others.

Knowing that others appreciate us is important. Of course we all work for money because that is the medium of exchange in our culture. And yet, it really stirs up good feelings when gratitude is expressed.

This same energy exchange works with people at work, people we have intimate relationships with, business dealings with, casual acquaintances, and those in spirit. Express appreciation for our various caregivers whether they work in our doctor's office or the stores where we shop.

So even from a selfish point of view, if you would like other people to treat you like that more often, treat other people that way more often.

Extend those feelings to your spirit guides as well. They help us by advising and protecting us. That is their job, but we really keep those channels of communication open, like a dialogue, a two way street with them when we do.

Some people's concept of prayer is that you engage in it when you want something. No. It is good to say thank you to your spirit guides, ancestors and angels every day.

Think of it this way. If you have a friend who only calls you when you want something, you will tire of getting their calls and not want to answer. So if it goes both ways, then you have a good friendship. It is the same way with spirit guides, ancestors, angels. Take a few moments every day to thank them for all the good things that are happening to you. Everything. Who do you think gives you good ideas and accurate instincts? Who helps keep things running? Who helps keep you healthy and safe? Who helps us get more out of life?

Thanksgiving to me has always been the best holiday because it is so simple. We get together with family and friends to share a good meal, some conversation, some games and music and just appreciate each other's company. What a great way to spend a day!

We have always invited some people in addition to family to join us and lots of other people have this tradition as well. Years ago, when I moved around the country a lot for business, people would always get orphan dinners together. That was a word they used for all of us who were transferred in from some other place just for the job and had no family or friends there. So a bunch of us would get together, everyone would bring some food or beverage to share and we would have a good time hanging out that day.

It is in our nature as people to want to enjoy social relations with others, the same way as it is in our nature to help other people.

So enjoy your holiday and know that I appreciate all of you. Every one of you have added something to my life just by your presence.

And I look forward to seeing each of you again whenever you feel that the time is right.

May you all enjoy much light, love and happiness every day, and especially now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Creating Our Better Life and Future

t was 13 years ago that I made a journey to Brazil to visit the internationally famous healing center where the man named John of God does his work. 
The triangle illustrated above is the symbol that he uses in his work. It is on his literature and on the front wall of his healing center. It is made out of wood and is nailed to the wall in such a way that people can slip pieces of paper underneath it to request healing for themselves or others. During that trip, I made no requests for myself, but I put in a request for my sister who was undergoing treatments for cancer at the time. She is still alive and no longer fighting cancer. I do not claim that this action cured her, because she was receiving all kinds of help at the time, including distance reiki from me as well as the radiation and chemo. My sister has said that she was happy to accept whatever kind of help she could get. 
At the healing center, they sell citrine crystals cut in the shape of this triangle and so I got one for her and I have one that I wear. The citrine is mined and cut down there. I had a local artist wrap the stone so that I can wear it on a necklace.
What is significant is the meaning that John ascribes to the sides of the triangle, which is a version of what people in magical traditions refer to as the triangle of manifestation.
In Catholic religion, they teach of the three virtues of faith, hope and charity. John changed it to faith, love and charity. I resonate strongly with the change. Hope, to me, seems to carry a resonance of doubt and desperation. In other words, things are not good but we wish that they would get better. However, by replacing hope with love, we are affirming that we will make things get better. When we make choices out of love, things do get better.  
If we go back to the concept that all our choices are rooted in either love or fear, he is encouraging us to choose from love. And if you think about it, if we keep choosing our thoughts and actions from a perspective of love, look at what good comes into your life. 
Think about this for a moment. For example, how many times do advertisements sell from a basis of fear? They try and tell us that we will not be safe or successful or good looking enough unless we buy this or that. They are coming from a negative basis. 
So look at it from another perspective. What if we make all our choices from a basis of love? In other words, doing things we love to do, acting out of love. What would our life be like if we do work that we love to do? Have hobbies or activities that we love to do? Support charities, arts organizations or causes that we love? Express love for the people we are connected to? I simply want to clarify here that expressing love is not limited to romantic connections, friends or family, but all those with whom we interact with regularly.

There are student/teacher relationships. There are the mechanics who we entrust with our auto repairs. There are stores where we like to shop because we get good merchandise and good service there. There are caregivers who take care of ill and elderly people. There are people who deliver our mail and packages. People we trust to repair our phones and computers. There are our doctors, chiropractors, massage and other kinds of therapists and healers and veterinarians and caregivers for our pets. And so on. If we appreciate those people, we have more love and gratitude in our life every day. Next issue of this newsletter I will focus on gratitude and one of our greatest holidays, Thanksgiving.

When there is love in everything we do, everything works better. 
Since I mentioned the triangle of manifestation to you, let me explain a little bit more about that. One note about John of God's use of the word faith. People of all different kinds of religions and spiritual practices have visited his healing center, so this word does not apply to any one religion. It is about having faith in spiritual guidance and practice, no matter what religion you choose or participate in. While the religion of Brazil is predominantly Catholic, the Brazilians are very metaphysical and have a long tradition of magical healers. In his youth, his talents were discovered during his participation in a spiritualist group.
A simple way that I like to explain the triangle of manifestation is that the three sides of the triangle represent our goal or vision, our desire to achieve this goal and our willful actions taken to achieve our goal. Any time we are not getting what we want, one of the three sides of the triangle needs to be strengthened. When all three sides are strong, we have a great building block. Picture the pyramids. Triangle on every side. If you look inside the dome structures designed by Buckminster Fuller, they are supported by a frame that is a network of triangles. You can find more if you look around.   
In traditional metaphysics, in four positions, the triangle represents the elements of earth, air, fire and water. Air and fire are masculine and water and earth are feminine. When these energies are brought together, we have the six pointed star, which this diagram calls the Unity of Balance and long ago was also known as the Seal of Solomon, the ancient Hebrew king who was reputed to be a great magician. 
If you think about it, there is great sense in this because when we combine masculine and feminine energy with the elemental energies we are aligning the energies of all life in the universe to support us in our efforts. The fifth element is spirit, which not only refers to divine beings, but the divinity in each of us. 
So there are masculine and feminine triangles, symbolized by the difference of point up (masculine) or point down (feminine) and so when, for example, a man and woman are working together, our alignment is multiplied. Think about the axiom of one plus one equals three. In other words, when two of us put our minds and energies together, we can produce more than the results of two individuals. In another metaphysical concept, this is the basis for mastermind groups.
So give more thought to choosing from love and increasing your focus in order to create a better life and a better future. The results are very deliberate. You can use a vision board to reinforce this as well as simple triangle illustrations. We can create better lives and futures for ourselves if we put these principles into action, instead of just hoping that things will get better. Choose from love, not fear. Your life will get better.  I have noticed significant changes from putting more love into everything I do and it really works. 

I have settled into my new place and it is really nice. It has a little more space. So if you are coming to see me in person, please remember to get my new address. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dylan: A Voice That Matters

When I heard on the radio that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature last week, I was both happy and stunned, because that was just not one of those thoughts that had ever crept into my mind before.

You see Dylan and I have a long history, one that has been interrupted over the years. Many years ago, when I was a teenager and my cousin Mike first played a Dylan record for me, it was an enlightenment that interrupted and blew away everything I thought I knew about popular music. My earliest love in music was classical music and for a while I took violin lessons, but I was disenchanted with the traditional type of training that went with it at the time. So the first instrument that I taught myself just by listening was the harmonica, especially the style that is known as blues harp.

I had started to be interested in learning to play the guitar because the sound was the primary driving instrument of the pop music that was the engine in our world then. So I bought an acoustic guitar, a chord chart, and a Bob Dylan songbook, and that is what I used to teach myself how to play. I also got other sheet music for pop songs, and played in bands and solo for a while. I kept the guitar in my life for a long time, jamming and playing for friends.

But the lightning bolt that came with learning Dylan songs kind of blew away all the other songs and spoke to something deep and mystical within me. After listening to the radio continuously playing sweet little boyfriend/girlfriend ditties, to suddenly be exposed to songs like "Chimes of Freedom," "The Times They Are a Changin,""My Back Pages," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Masters of War," "Maggies Farm," "It Ain't Me Babe," "Blowin' in the Wind," and "Like A Rolling Stone" just got into my bones and cut me to the quick the way no other songs had.

At the time, the struggle for civil rights was hotly contested and the Vietnam War was being loudy protested, and his songs were the only songs the spoke directly to those important issues that we were struggling with. His songs somehow helped me see the world in a whole different way. So I sat in my room, practicing over and over until I felt comfortable playing in front of other people. I used to stuff a rag under the strings by the bridge to mute the sound while I was practicing.

In time, "Blowin' in the Wind" became an anthem of the civil rights movement, sang on that same massive gathering where Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.

If you think that all of this is just a dated irrelevant memory, look at what is still going on in our world right now. Go to You Tube and look up and listen to "Chimes of Freedom" and see if those lyrics don't grab you bone deep. Or give another listen to "Blowin' in the Wind" or "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Positively 4th Street."

It is true that he has never been known for his beautiful singing voice. What resonates a half century later are the incredible lyrics. Many other pop musicians launched careers or added noteworthy songs to their repertoire by creating more melodic versions of his songs.

Some songs are made for dancing. Dylan songs are made to stick in your mind and cause you to think all kinds of thoughts. His songs have been an important part of my life and the Nobel committee just reminded us that poetry and songs deserve the same kind of recognition as good books.

How does all this resonate now? Yes, when I was young I protested against the Vietnam War because I did not feel that we should ever get into a war unless it was an absolute matter of self defense, and yes, I feel that we should still avoid getting into wars whenever we can. Yes, I am one of those dreamers who wants to see a peaceful world with justice for all people. Dylan has always been a voice for those ideas and so I think that it is quite a powerful statement that he got that award, and I am happy that he got it. If you are not familiar with his music, give it a listen.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Masking and UNmasking

Isn't it interesting how the masking and unmasking we do at costume parties mirrors what is going on in the world around us? The green leaves that sprouted in spring and came to fullness in summer now turn colors and fall to the ground, leaving only the skeletons of the trees contrasted against the sky. 

During the year people see us in different ways. One mask might be our professional status, the face which others see as we present ourselves as skilled individuals. Another face is our personal self where we engage in our relationships, hobbies, activities and other pursuits. Then we have our spiritual persona where we follow our spiritual path or our religious rituals. 

Yet, at the heart of it all, there is simply the person who embodies all of this. Where others may see only one of these aspects of us, few see all of them. 

Standing in our sacred space, reflecting on our place in the world, we choose which aspect of our persona we choose to present next. Consciously choosing what is next we may emphasize a different aspect of our professional practice, relationships, avocations and spiritual practices. 

So the metaphor of masks at parties reveals truth. The characters we choose to inhabit for an evening at a party is a playful way of trying on some other character or characteristics that we wish to experience. 

The masks we wear may be revealing the truth of the direction we desire. Yes, I know that one thought may be that this is only an evening's entertainment.

Now look again, for there is a root of truth that appeals to us when we choose to read the same kinds of books, the same kinds of movies and are fascinated by the same kinds of stories over and over again. There are common threads that appeal to our sense of who we are and what kind of world we want what kind of life we want, how we would like to see ourselves as a person. 

Masking is a way of looking at the world through different eyes for a while and letting others see us differently for a while. As we all have experienced, this can be very enlivening and enlightening. And that is why we look forward to doing it. 

Knowing this about ourselves is revealing of inner truths as we enjoy our revelry. Knowing this about Halloween is like appreciating the difference between soul cakes and trick or treat.

You see in the old days, at Halloween, visitors would come to visit and sing songs, say prayers or tell stories about those who had died this year and the hosts would offer them soul cakes and drinks in appreciation. The Celts called this day Samhain and it marked the beginning of winter. They would also set a place at the table for the person who had died, and this was called the dumb supper.

Ironically, in a far a way country which we now call Mexico, on that very same day of the year, the Celebration was called La Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. And on this day too, the dead were honored with their favorite food and people told stories to remember them and wish them well on their journey into the next world, and like the Celts, they also bake special breads just for this holiday.

In both cases, the honoring of the dead was also a celebration of life. The Day of the Dead prominently features skeletons dancing, affirming that life goes on on another level. 

So the sweetness of life and the recognition of the various levels of self that we consider on this holiday offers a great insight into what life means to us, how we see ourselves and the impact we have on others. Masks and treats of this holiday are other aspects of self hidden in plain sight. And the pleasure is that all of this can be enjoyed with a great deal of fun, illumination and imagination. It is delicious, isn't it? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mastery is a State of Mind

If we keep our focus on our primary concerns, we see that mastery, in all forms, is first and foremost, a state of mind. Sometimes people may reverse these aspects, thinking that hand positions, dexterity or agility are the marks of mastery, but it is the state of mind that precedes these things that create the mastery. 
When we are possessed by a strong desire to be excellent at something, our mindset comes first, and then we acquire the skills.
I think that sometimes we see it incorrectly because we are viewing it from the end point. We see a person who is an excellent athlete, dancer, musician, carpenter, gardener, mechanic, chef, seamstress, salesperson, or whatever it is we are admiring and often we think "oh that person was just born with more talent than me." Not true.
We all are born with potential, but that potential never develops into a skill or talent unless we practice. 
So what state of mind am I referring to? I am referring to clarity, stability, peace, self confidence, the state of balance that helps us navigate our course so that we can continue on our course to achieve our goals and handle whatever challenges cross our path without getting angry and out of control. Knowing that we can rise to a new level to meet any challenge and continue in a flow of love and peace because we have a connection to our spirit guides, whether we call them God, Goddess, angels, ancestors, animal totems, friends and relatives who have already crossed the veil and still return to help us. However we think of them, they help us keep our sense of peace, love and direction. Keeping in touch at this level is what helps us to live in a state of mastery.    
You know that feeling that you get when you are really in the flow? You know, peace of mind, focus, clarity, contentment? Those feelings allow you the space to operate from, to begin to learn to do those things that you want to, to learn the skills that you want to master. In other words, our spiritual attitude is key to our ability to learn new things and do them well. It is this attitude that lets us act with clarity rather than running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  
You see, those feelings of peace, contentment, focus and clarity help remove the obstacles of distraction and turmoil and confusion.
Mastery is the decision to have peace in your life. How we achieve peace is a choice we make because there are both loud and celebratory, joyful things that we do that bring us happiness and peace, and there are also simple accomplishments that bring us quiet peace. Altogether, these all add us to enjoying our life more, and doing so in a way that when others experience what we do, they recognize excellence and ask us how did you learn to do that? 
The answer is that sometimes we teach ourselves and sometimes we ask others to teach us. However, it is always our state of mind that begins it all. 
Possessing that feeling of mastery lets us focus and make conscious choices, rather than feeling like we are floundering and chaotic. That is always the starting point of mastery in our life. It starts within. With a focus, a vision, a desire.
There are times when we may be confused and not certain of what we want to master. At those moments, it is important to go within. It is natural that our vision for ourselves evolves. What is your vision now? What is your focus now? What is your desire now?

Mastery can also apply to adapting new habits that benefit our health and well being. It usually takes some effort to change our habits, but the effort is worth it. Mastery is, above all, our connection to our spirit guides, our selves, others and then, the things we do.

Can you get in touch with the inner space where we can sense that still point, the place from which we navigate?

Being able to do so helps us know what is important and what is our next best move. Mastery is within our grasp. Mastery is within our spirit. Mastery is within our consciousness. Sometimes we just have to focus on getting back in touch with it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Eternal Dance of the Student and Teacher

Shortly, those who have school age children will be getting ready to send them off to school again. And there may have been a time when we were very young that we thought that once we graduated school that the entire business of student and teacher would be over forever. 

Later on, we realized that we are always learning, whether it is new skills for a particular job, playing a musical instrument, a sport, a game, a hobby, or life skills for improving our relationships and exploring developments that would enrich us spiritually, philosophically or physically.

And in time, we found ourselves being the ones that others came to for advice, and perhaps we were surprised by who asked us and why. 

And that may lead us into a one on one mentor relationship or a group class, a formal or informal course of studies.

You see, once we have taken care of finding work and a home, our attention often wanders into areas that will enrich our lives. As we get older, we give more thought to subjects like mortality, parallel dimensions of life and our legacies. As we do, we realize that legacies can be much more than the physical things we leave behind. Legacies are also about what we have taught and shared and about how well those we have taught and shared with have evolved. 

The realization that we are always both student and teacher upends the notion that we only learn for a while and then we are done. Awakenings may have come to us at a time of career change, a relationship beginning or ending, facing a serious health challenge or the death of someone close to us. 

When we look closely at what we do, if we pursue excellence, we are always asking how we can do what we do better. It is at these moments when new truths reveal themselves. When we are preparing to teach someone else and it suddenly occurs to us how we can present the subject better. Or when we are doing something we have done for quite a while and suddenly we discover another way to practice it. 

We are never really done learning or teaching. Some times we are one, some times we are the other. We are both at the same time and it is rewarding and deeply satisfying to know this as we act on it.

The subjects may change, but in essence, they are always the same. We are always exploring and discovering ways to improve the quality of our lives and this always affects those connected to us. 

Our circles of connection are more extensive than we often realize, encompassing not only lovers, but close friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors and casual acquaintances. And then if we have published anything on line, who knows who saw it? 

If we are always conscious of our own evolution, then there is no end to the new beginnings and fresh starts waiting to be unveiled, experiences for us to step into.