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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.  

“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.

A screen shot of my Kindle reader.
A screen shot of my Kindle reader.

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.

Let's face it, life is full of all kinds of stuff:  some we label as good, some we label as bad.  Today I want to talk about what we sometimes label as bad:  change or loss.  Loss happens.  So does change.  Relationships end.  Jobs and careers go away.  Things happen.  So often the tendency is to somehow make the feelings as a result of those losses go away.  We don't want to hurt.  In fact, there is a judgement about the hurting itself, as if there is something shameful or wrong about it.  We tell ourselves we shouldn't hurt, to put our big boy and girl panties on and buck up.  We try to hide it, deny it, medicate it, do anything except feel it.

When we do, all we do is form ugly scar tissue over the break.  We heal it, but we don't cure it.  We don't do our grief work.  Because of this, we are doomed to a life where we may not feel the hurt acutely anymore, but all of our reactions and decisions are consequently based on that one event.  We've got tunnel vision and it is very limiting.

Here are some examples:

  • The relationship ends, and instead of doing our inner work to learn the lesson, we immediately get into another one.
  • We experience a loss, and instead of going through a grieving process, we get a prescription.
  • Something "bad" happens, and instead of working through it, we get so busy that we have no time to thing.

I'd like to propose that there is a different, gentler way to do things, and it is also more rewarding in the long run.

The difference between a broken heart and a broken-open heart is profound.  We all have times and instances in which our hearts get broken.  We hurt.  Eventually we heal, somewhat, but it is never cured.  There is a difference between healing and curing.  Healing is temporary and very shallow. Curing is permanent and goes deep.  Healing only takes care of the surface wounds.  Curing changes us at deep levels, and such change is necessary for us to move into the next greatest expression of being.

A broken-open heart can be the way to a cure.  It is a doorway through which we can live a new and wonderful life.

If your heart is broken, I'd like to suggest that you do not medicate it, jump into another relationship, make yourself so busy you have no time to think, or any of the other things we typically do to make the bad feelings just go away.

Instead, feel them.  Acknowledge the grief and allow the process to happen.  Do the inner work, because a broken-open heart is a doorway into new ways of thinking and perceiving ourselves and life.  Consider getting support and help moving through the process

 

Life is about paradox.  Surrender to win.  What you resist persists.  Give to receive.  Accept a problem to solve it.  I will never forget the first time, very early in my spiritual journey, a mentor told me that I must surrender to win.  Fighter that I had been most of my life, it was extremely difficult for me to understand this concept.  I had a bias against traditional religious language back then and in my mind I thought I was surrendering to a male authority figure that was separate from me.  I wanted no part of that.  Eventually I moved into a place of surrendering to a process that promised wonderful things if I completed it, and that worked.

Which brings up another paradox of sorts.  One must go through something to get around it.  Take loss, for example.  It does absolutely no good, and sometimes harms, to not properly grieve a loss.  Rebound relationships are an excellent example of this.

Another paradox is that we must look at ourselves with love and acceptance, not shame and condemnation.  Those parts of ourselves that we find objectionable will only change if we love and accept them.  Shaming them and condemning them just makes them stronger.

What are you resisting today?   Is it persisting?

The beauty of living a life which contains a consistent and persistent practice of compassionate self inquiry is that it allows us to be aware of what is blocking us from our good, and with awareness comes the beautiful change that that moves us into the next greatest expression of our being.

I was having a chat with someone today who told me that she had been feeling a bit depressed lately.  Nothing clinical mind you; if you find yourself unable to get out of bed or with suicidal tendencies due to depression, contact a physician.  I'm talking about those down days that we all get sometimes, seemingly for no reason.

But there is a reason.  Many times, a feeling of being down or mildly depressed can be a message from the body that it is time to rest.  The body contains wisdom  and it will send us messages that it is time to be doing something different with our lives; mild depression is one of those messages.

If you are feeling mildly depressed, or a bit down, or just unmotivated to do much, consider what your body is trying to tell you:

  1. Have you been burning the candle at both ends?  There is a reason most religions advocate a day of rest.  Even the ancients recognized that we all need a period of rest in our lives.  If you work seven days a week (self employed people are very good at this!), take a break.  Force yourself if you have to.  You'll find you are much more productive when you return.
  2. Get enough sleep.  We are a chronically sleep deprived population.  In spite of the fact that we need about 8 hours of sleep per day, most people allow themselves 6 or even less. This lowers your immune system and your productivity, as well as reaction times when driving or operating machinery.
  3. Investigate:       have you experienced a loss lately?  Even small losses can trigger a need to rest, which is what mild depression feels like.  Or perhaps you've recently had a medical procedure?  The more invasive, the more your body will need to rest, hence the feelings of mild depression.  Anniversaries can also sometimes trigger a feeling of mild depression.

The key, no matter what the cause for feeling down, is to honor it.  Take a nap, go spend a half day or an evening at a spa, get a massage or a pedicure, go to a museum and aimlessly wander, go for a walk.  And talk about how you are feeling.  A simple conversation with a caring person can work wonders!

If you honor the message of a mild depression, you will learn something about yourself and feel better in the process!