I believe life was meant to be enjoyed. You know that phrase in the Bible, where it says to be as a child? I take that to heart. No, I am not speaking of hanging on to immaturity. I am speaking of enjoying life as children do. They move through their days in awe and wonder and joy. Sometimes I look at my life and the awe almost brings me to my knees. I move through the day and appreciate the beauty of whatever is surrounding me. I feel joy that I can do the things I like to do. A friend told me I could have fun inside a paper bag, and I can. That is joy. I have the ability to find the joy in anything because I have cultivated that joy. But sometimes finding the joy becomes a bit difficult, and that’s what this post is about. It’s about the reasons why you might also be finding it difficult to find the joy, and what to do about it.
I know why it is difficult for me right now to feel the joy. Let me see if I can explain it to you. It has to do with a phenomenon called group consciousness. This phenomenon states that since we are all connected, part of a great whole, the trend of our thinking will affect others, and their thinking will affect us. I learned about this phenomenon while studying a spiritual and philosophical way of life called New Thought, which developed by this very phenomenon of group consciousness back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. All of a sudden people in separate parts of the world were all speaking and writing about the same concepts without ever connecting with each other. One of the concepts those early New Thought pioneers were speaking and writing about is Oneness. They were convinced that we are all connected on very deep levels, part of a great One. Ernest Holmes was one of those pioneers and created a New Thought teaching called Science of Mind. It is one of several, and it just happens to be the one I follow and teach. Ernest Holmes is the one who came up with the term group consciousness, but he isn’t the only one who has studied, and strived to prove, the concept. Science has proved it. I will never forget the excitement I felt when I took my first quantum physics class in grad school and discovered that what Holmes had been saying had been proven true by science.
Quantum physics is one of those sciences and they have proven it in repeated experiments. If you don’t believe me, look up the observer effect.
Another item of proof: you may have heard of the hundredth monkey effect. Way back in the 1950s some scientists did a study and discovered that if a certain learned behavior reached 100 monkeys, all of a sudden that behavior jumped across the water and monkeys on nearby islands, who never had physical contact with the first group of monkeys, began doing the same behavior.
One more, this one from an author named Terry Patten, in his book called a New Republic of the Heart: “The popularity of ideas like the “tipping point” or the hundredth-monkey stories are not simply tall tales. As already mentioned, Ken Wilber has pointed to the claim, rooted in the historical evidence of the late 1700s and the American Revolution, that when 10 percent of the population grows into a genuinely higher structure of consciousness, the nature of public agreements and power exchanges can be restructured according to a higher set of (postmonarchical, constitutional, democratic, meritocratic, free-enterprise) rules.”
Unfortunately, that phenomenon works both ways, higher consciousness and lower consciousness. If 10% of the population is living a lower state of consciousness, guess what? We are going to experience evidence of that. Such evidence looks like anger, judgement, close mindedness, rigidity, polarity.
I believe we in America are in a lower state of consciousness right now, and those of us who are aware of such things and believe in group consciousness feel it.
It may feel like grief. I’m sure you’ve felt grief before. All those things you feel when you experience a loss. Things that Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified as stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I know I’ve felt all of these in the last couple of years. I bounce around these feelings like one of those giant beach balls being tossed about by people who don’t seem to care where the ball lands or what, or who, it bounces off of.
Now, you may be thinking that this all sounds sort of victimy. To be subject to the consciousness of the populace? Yep, victim. Fortunately, we are at choice as to how to respond to this. We can choose not to buy into the polarity, the judgement, the rigidity, the anger and the close mindedness.
If you are anything like me, you might wake up some mornings just feeling wrong. No apparent reason for it. Just wrong. There is a reason, it’s the group consciousness. Here’s where we can, and should, choose differently.
I believe we have a responsibility to choose differently. Because to give in to the group consciousness means to accept the shit that is going on, and that I will not do. And neither should you. If you believe that life is meant to be lived in joy, then you will also take responsibility for being one of the hundred monkeys. Or one of the 10%. Do not buy into the group consciousness. Refuse to live from a base of fear. Instead contemplate what it could be like, feel like, to live a life based in love. Refuse to wrap yourself in a cocoon of suspicion. Instead, realize that all that suspicion simply shuts out any possibility of joyful living, and strive to be vulnerable. Yes, I said vulnerable. There is a way to be vulnerable without opening ourselves up to harm. The vulnerability I’m speaking of is a sort of open mindedness. A willingness to explore a different way to be, so as to experience a better life. Refuse to judge, condemn, belittle. Instead cultivate compassion for yourself and others. Deny the sadness that you feel and replace it with happiness. Refuse to judge anyone, for anything. Refuse to shame other people. Refuse to claim a side. Refuse to be angry. Refuse to be close minded. Instead, cultivate compassion. Nurture open mindedness. Actively pursue an attitude of gratitude. Explore different ways of communicating so that you can have healthy conversations with people who think differently than you do.
If enough of us do these things, we can and will change the world.
As I anticipate and prepare for consulting with two wedding couples this afternoon, I am contemplating wholeness. The original meaning of the word sin meant to “miss the mark.” It came from archery and simply meant that the archer missed the target. The deep meaning of sin is “we made a mistake.” I like this definition. It holds me accountable and responsible, but does not shame me. When we sin, it means that we are fractured. We are not in touch with our deepest selves, and so we are much more likely to make decisions which do not serve us and take actions which tend to get us in trouble. When we are fractured we are suspicious, negative, fearful, pessimistic. When we are whole we are open-minded, positive, faith or love filled and optimistic. Wholeness essentially means we are in touch with that deepest part of ourselves, our bigger Selves, that place where our own Divinity exists within each and every one of us. When we are feeling whole, we do not sin. We make decisions and take actions which serve us.
I am reminded of that ancient Hindu legend:
“There was once a time when all human beings were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from them and hide it where it could never be found.
Where to hide their divinity was the question. So Brahma called a council of the gods to help him decide. "Let's bury it deep in the earth," said the gods. But Brahma answered, "No, that will not do because humans will dig into the earth and find it." Then the gods said, "Let's sink it in the deepest ocean." But Brahma said, "No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it." Then the gods said, "Let's take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there." But once again Brahma replied, "No, that will not do either, because they will eventually climb every mountain and once again take up their divinity." Then the gods gave up and said, "We do not know where to hide it, because it seems that there is no place on earth or in the sea that human beings will not eventually reach."
Brahma thought for a long time and then said, "Here is what we will do. We will hide their divinity deep in the center of their own being, for humans will never think to look for it there."
All the gods agreed that this was the perfect hiding place, and the deed was done. And since that time humans have been going up and down the earth, digging, diving, climbing, and exploring--searching for something already within themselves.”
The lesson for us is not to search for wholeness, or god, outside of ourselves, but to instead go within and connect with that divinity within each and every one of us. Wholeness is the result of that connection, and it feels good.
“We find a way to choose life...”. I’m reading a book by Terry Patten called A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries-A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change. Whew! That’s a mouthful of a title isn’t it?
I love the way books come to me. They get recommended by friends and peers. In this case, this is a book of the month for something called The Global Vision, which is a sort of grass roots conglomeration of many Centers for Spiritual Living across the land, who all address the same topic in their Sunday services. The idea stems from the fact that we are all part of the One, and from this reality we realize that there is a common consciousness amongst us all. We are all connected, like a grove of aspen trees. Did you know that when you see a grove of aspen, the root system is just one root system? Yep. The trees are separate and each looks different, might even change colors in the fall at different rates, but they are all part of one root system. Damage one tree and eventually the entire grove is damaged. We are like that. Some of us are damaged. And for the rest of us, it is up to us to address that damage and not become damaged ourselves or we risk destroying the entire human race.
Yes, I said that. I really did. I had to stop and take a breath after that. You might want to as well.
Here’s the deal: it is time to step up and look within to see how we can assess our own damage, and repair it, not buy into the group damage and add to the overall affliction. It is time to stop directing our attention outward. That will not repair the damage, it will make it worse. What do I mean by directing attention outward? Blaming others for the mess we are in is one critical aspect of this. Did you know that when we blame others we are, essentially, victimizing ourselves? Another aspect of outward thinking is judgement. This is primarily a Christian world we live in. If you claim yourself as Christian, what part of “judge not lest ye be judged” do you not get? Every time we judge another, we harm ourselves. And we deny that part of us which is crying out for attention. Think about it. When you are judging another, you are doing one of two things: either refusing to look at something going on in your own life, or deflecting attention away from yourself because they are doing the same things you are doing that you dislike about yourself. Is there something other people do that you intensely hate? Guess what. If you spot it you got it.
Harsh words maybe. So be it. Folks I work with tell me that they can count on me to be honest with them. And so can you.
And when we are grieving life’s shit: the losses, the changes, the stuff that we simply do not like nor care for, the stuff we really wish would not have happened, it is ever so much easier to deflect our attention outward and blame and judge than to move through the grieving process.
And yet, when we refuse to do so, when we refuse to allow ourselves to feel the anger, the denial, the bargaining, the depression and finally, the acceptance, we deny ourselves life. We say no. We limit ourselves. And we do more damage, to ourselves and to the group consciousness. We contribute to the damage of our root system.
And in so doing this, we refuse to take responsibility for our lives. And in doing that, we are disempowering ourselves.
It is time to say yes. It is time to choose life instead of death. It is time to figure out how we as individuals can praise instead of blame, honor instead of judge, and empower ourselves instead of disempowering ourselves.
This is not about them. Period.
How can we stop doing this? Well, for starters, stop posting how they are doing it wrong on social media! Stop posting diatribes and memes about them, whoever them might be. Whenever you feel a need to do so, just stop. Pause. Go within and see what is going on with you that you would want to attack your fellow humans and instead address what needs addressing within you. Perhaps your mom told you that if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything. That’s really good advice. And while you are squirming and feeling uncomfortable because you aren’t saying anything, take a good look at that feeling of uncomfortability, because within that feeling are answers and solutions for your angst. There is relief in there, you just have to find it. And you won’t be able to find it unless you sit with it, allow it and say yes to it.
Choose life. Please. Choose life for yourself, and for the entire human race.
It would help if I meditated. Yes it would. But writing helps too, and so I write.
What is it I need help with on this fine Saturday morning? Nothing really. I’m just a bit scattered. Trying to land on something so I can concentrate enough to do what needs doing. I’m working on a few things. A new workshop. A talk. Two books. Trying to figure out technically how to create an online self guided class (if anyone is moved to help me with this one I sure would appreciate it).
I discovered a few daffodil plants in my yard last week, and today they are blooming! I love the spring bulbs and will plant more of those in the fall, so that next spring I will have even more. I could create a new version of Daffodil Hill, since weather eliminated my annual spring trip this year.
I believe I will make a batch of chili today. Monthly pot luck is tonight and it is good chili weather.
My photo today is a screen shot of my Kindle. Yes, I read a lot. Most books I read all the way through, then return to them again and again for research. Some are for pure entertainment purposes. Those are the ones with the semi naked men on the covers.
Today I turned to Joseph Campbell for a bit of inspiration. He always seems to just dial it in for me.
“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.” I often tell my clients that they cannot do anything about what anyone else is doing. They usually do not want to hear that. I don’t want to hear it. But it is true.
“The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed. If we are hanging onto the form now, we’re not going to have the form next. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Destruction before creation.” Yes, we must let go of what is in order to move into our next greatest level of expression. I’ve been using that phrase for quite some time, and just recently discovered that Joseph Campbell said something similar. Unfortunately, it is my experience that most people would rather live with the devil they know about than move into something new. The unknown is much scarier than the known, even if the known is shitty and the new is likely to be better. So they stay stuck, they hoard, and fight any destruction that may be happening. I’ve seen people do this to their death. Literally. Sigh.
“Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die, there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat.” People come to me when they are in pain, and without exception, I discover that the pain is just a symptom of a lifelong pattern. The solution to the pain is in recognizing the pattern and then changing the pattern, from the inside out. But most folks don’t want to do this. They want instant gratification, a quick fix. The idea of taking a look at the pain and the messages it has for them is not something they are even willing to consider.
“When seeking your partner, if your intuition is a virtuous one, you will find him or her. If not, you’ll keep finding the wrong person.” I’ve often put it like this: water seeks it’s own level, and we humans are made primarily of water. Another thing people do not want to hear. They would rather blame the other.
I’m reading a new book, it’s called A New Republic of the Heart. I’m only 7% into it, and still reading about the problem. They haven’t gotten into the solution yet. Perhaps that is part of the reason why I’m feeling a bit pessimistic this morning and why my writing seems a bit cynical. But I will persevere in reading this one, because I trust the folks who recommended this particular book.
And isn’t that what ultimately provides the willingness to hang out in the pain for a while, to examine it and discover the lessons it has for us? Trust. Or faith. Call it what you will. We need to trust that it will be better, or else why would we subject ourselves to this shit? Trust or faith is one of those things I find difficult to describe. I have ultimate faith in a Power that I like to call The Force. It is within me, a part of me. This means I also trust my instincts, inclinations, and ideas. It took a while to get to that point, and today, when I work with folks who simply cannot believe in a religious God, that male entity that is so separate from them as to be unreachable, and I present the idea that perhaps God is hiding in a place they would never think to look, within them, well, let’s just say the rebellion reminds me of a teenager, plotting to run away in the middle of the night because no one can tell them what to do! They refuse to consider anything different, and they refuse to consider anything known. They create their own stuckness. And yet, when I speak with people about this, they remain stuck. They refuse to consider that their stuckness is not a barrier but a cleverly concealed path to joy and freedom. They go away, and call themselves seekers, and never find anything. The truth is there is nothing to seek, and nothing to find, there is only our own incredible power to create. But sometimes we misuse that power.
So it seems as if today I am inspired to be cynical. To be pessimistic. To be real here, I know the reason for this and it has nothing to do with the latest book I am reading. But I can’t reveal the reason because to do so would violate the privacy of another human being. But I have clarity now, and that helps. On days like today, sometimes it is all we can do to acknowledge the feelings and be gentle with oneself and move on as best we can. And when the sadness and grief give way to anger, I will do my best to not react and do something that will get me into trouble. And when the anger gives way to acceptance and I breathe a bit easier, I will then be able to explore what lessons are in this experience, for me.
So that is what I will do today: notice my feelings, notice the new life in the form of the daffodils in my yard, create something new in the form of the chili, share my creation with others tonight at the potluck. And revel in the joy that is humanity, even in the midst of strife. And that, my friends, is what faith looks like.
This time of year certainly is rich in meaning isn’t it? We have spring. We have lent.
As I sit here on this rainy, snowy day, I find myself, not for the first time, wondering if spring will EVER come. And yet, I do see signs of spring: my horse is shedding his winter coat, I can hear birdsong every time I step out the door, and little green things are popping up out of the ground.
And it is March. I like to think of March as March Forward with Purpose month. It is a good intention to set at this time of year. There are both inner and outer calls for us at certain times of the year. Winter calls us to move into a quieter, less active place, one where we contemplate more and do less. Spring, on the other hand, indicates movement. This is the time when we begin to implement the ideas that came to us during winter; those ideas that we hopefully nurtured and developed.
And while we are marching forth with purpose, those of us with religious leanings are contemplating this Lenten season. What to give up for Lent? The literal of fasting usually means giving up food, or certain types of food. I prefer the metaphorical translation of Lent. This season is a good reminder to go within and discover types of thinking, or beliefs, that no longer serve us very well, and give them up, replacing them with something more productive. And because it happens every single time I mention this, I will also add that this does not mean shaming yourself for having unproductive thoughts. There is a reason they are there. The reason is not really important. What is important is to recognize that they simply don’t apply to your life anymore. Release with gratitude and love, and replace with something more productive.
I found this meme on Facebook and wanted to share it, because I think it is good advice for what to give up this season. I want to add a disclaimer here, the meme says that Pope Francis said the words. I did some research and could find no evidence that this is true. They are still good words however, and a perfect way to begin Lent.
Hopefully you will be successful at this. I’d love to hear about your journey!
A year ago today I received my ordination from Centers for Spiritual Living. It was a long road to get there: 8 years of education plus 4 years of working “in the field” after graduating with a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies. When I look at the photos of me in my memories feed, I see someone who looks tired. I was doing what that lady in the commercial for anti depression meds was doing, walking around with a paper smiley face to cover up what was really going on. I had experienced so many changes and losses in such a short time during that period of my life and I was weathering it as best as I could. I’m strong. That is a character asset that has served me well many times in my life, allowing me to persevere and sometimes even succeed, no matter what. But the shadow side of that is that I became accustomed to only being able to succeed when I felt a need to be strong to stand against what life was dishing out. That is not a good way to live. Today I’ve come out the other end of that journey. The active grieving is done, the PTS (I refuse to call a normal reaction to shit happening a disorder) is lessening in frequency and intensity, and today I have learned that I can succeed without hardship. I can and do succeed just because that’s the natural and normal progression of things. And today the sun is shining and it isn’t snowing, for the first time in weeks! So today I will bundle up and venture out into the world to continue painting on the canvas of my life. As Ernest Holmes said, “we must all become artists in living,” and today I am an artist painting a bright and glorious canvas!
Yesterday was Chinese New Year. It is the year of the pig. Unfortunately I have no pig photos for you. I even know a pig. His name is Winston. Winston apparently likes his belly scratched, but he is also a bit wary of strangers, so I have yet to experience the pleasure of scratching his rather large belly. The last time I saw Winston, his mama had put him on a diet and Winston was not a happy pig.
However, it is said that most pigs are happy, as well as good tempered, kind hearted, positive and loyal. And prosperous. I guess that accounts for Winston needing to go on a diet. He has an abundance of food!
If you are wondering whether this is going to just be a rambling about pigs, not to worry. I’ve got a point; two actually. It’s just taking me a while to get there. First point: You get a do-over. It is New Year’s all over again. How are you doing on those resolutions which never work? Take the do-over. Or did you take my advice and set intentions instead of resolutions?
Either way, you get a do over. Thank the Chinese for it.
The other point of my post is the prosperity piece. Pigs are a symbol of prosperity. Now, I did a bit of research, as I like to do, and discovered that this prosperity thing only applies under certain conditions. If if you were born in a year of the pig, watch out. Apparently, not so much prosperity coming for you. What are those years you say? According to Wikipedia, they are: 1947, 2031, 1995, 1971, 1923, 1935, 2007, 2019, 1983, 1959. Don’t ask about the 2031. I have no clue.
But here’s the thing. I’m a Science of Mind New Thought kind of person. This means I believe in the power of thought and the Law of Attraction. This means that if we set an intention for prosperity, then prosperity we shall have. Of course, there is a lot of other stuff that goes into that, but I’m just going to leave that right here for you.
Today, you get a do-over on New Years, and you can rely on the pig. Go for it. Prosperity.
Last week I had a conversation with someone. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this conversation, and I doubt it will be the last. But what struck me was the source of this conversation. Usually, I have this conversation with folks who have a different set of beliefs than I do. Before I get off track about the beliefs, let me report the conversation.
Her: “You are very busy indeed!”
Me: “I always laugh when people tell me I’m busy. My ministry consists of writing, creating memes/graphics, creating and doing workshops, classes and retreats, and some private coaching. And a once a week online discussion group based on the Science of Mind textbook. I have time every day to either lounge around in the mornings watching the fat quail that hang out at our house, or to go horse back riding. And to nest. So...not too busy. Life is indeed rich and full but not too busy!”
Her: “Busy-ness is a state of mind which obviously I was projecting on you.”
And there-in lies the source of the busy comments I get all the time. It is more about them than about me. Even when that comment comes from someone I consider to be spiritually enlightened.
And right there is my opportunity to speak of beliefs.
I believe in living a rich and full life. I have some fears, I have some anxieties but I do not allow those to prevent me from doing what I wish to do. Nor do I allow them to keep me from showing up as how and whom I wish to show up in the world. (And where is my editor when I need her?)
I know where some of these beliefs came from. Enjoying life to the fullest: that belief came about as a result of doing the process of recovery, and realizing I did not get sober to plod through life. I got sober to enjoy life to the fullest.
The belief that one should do what one loves for a living, no matter whether there was money in it or not? I have no idea where that one came from. When I was a kid and pondering what to do with my life, every idea or suggestion I presented to the parental units was greeted the same way: “there’s no money in that,” they would say. As for me, it has never made sense to me to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, doing something that I did not enjoy just to bring home a paycheck.
And my thought would be, “but there is no joy in what you are suggesting.”
I am a firm believer in “build it and they will come.” I’ve been self employed for most of my adult life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There is great freedom in being self employed. I have a flexible schedule, one that allows me to do all the things I love doing. That I get to do all the things I love doing is, I think, the source of all the “you’re so busy!” comments. There is a discipline involved in being self employed, for sure. I have to work, I have to produce, I have to write, no matter what. I have to ask for support and trust from people, so I can continue to do this work and get paid even before the book is published or the workshop done. I have to have faith and trust, and I have to renew that faith continuously. I still wouldn’t change it.
So no, I’m not busy. I am a great proponent of self care. I even have a workshop on self care. Most of the time I’m in balance with work, rest and play. What you believe is what you receive, and I believe that we should live lives of joy, doing what we love to earn a living, being able to play regularly, and being able to rest regularly. And that is what I do.
I know the “you’re so busy” comments will continue. I won’t tell them that speaks more to them than to me. People tend to get defensive and shut down when I do that. I see it as an opportunity for growth, but that’s just me I guess.
So today I’m going to write a bit more, nest a bit more, work a bit doing the things that set up a multiple source passive income stream, and just generally enjoy my day. Nope, not too busy.