Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The End of Days

This was written in September 2002, in response to the predictions of total anarchy, the end of life on Earth and even the end of the Earth itself. People were stockpiling food, clothing, tools, weapons, anything they could imagine needing when they woke up tomorrow to utter destruction.

One of the first prophecies of the end times came from Nostradamus and had to do with the Jews going home, which they did a number of years ago. The Middle East has not settled down since. Another of his prophecies had to do with the mark of the beast on the forehead of a world leader, and was interpreted to mean the birthmark on Gorbachev’s head. Much was written about the bear and the eagle, possibly referring to Russia and the U. S., or perhaps China.
Even the book of Revelation in the Christian Bible referred to the end times in graphic detail. More of these prophecies are coming true with each passing day, the end of the world as we know it is more and more certain. Operation Desert Storm brought us closer to the end as did the American declaration of war on terrorism.
Iraq is heating up. India and Pakistan are at the ready and both have nuclear weapons, in part, thanks to Canada giving freely of our technology to make nuclear reactors to generate electric power. China is ominously silent. Both nuclear and chemical weapons exist in abundance. The ability to deliver such weapons anywhere in the world is an accepted fact.
The attack on the U.S. September 11th last year signaled the end of innocence and freedom as we know it. More and more freedoms are being taken away in the name of safety and the populace is accepting gladly these changes. The world economy is shaken to its very roots. The U.S. economy is heading for a very real, very drastic upheaval as the bills for the aftermath of 9/11 come due. The Japanese economy teeters on the brink. Even here at home, we lose services at a steady rate without making any real dent in the national debt. More of the world’s population slips below the poverty line every day. Starvation is no longer a Third World prerogative. It is happening right here at home.

Everywhere there are predictions of dire events, global warming, untreatable disease, floods, droughts, famine, earthquakes, destruction of our environment at an incredible rate, holes in the ozone layer, extinction of more and more species of both plant and animal life before they can even be cataloged.

I think it is obvious that if we do not succeed in wiping ourselves off the face of the earth, Gaea will have a flea bath and certainly reduce the number of Earth’s inhabitants drastically. There is truly no way to prepare for what is to come. Because the course of history is cyclic, civilizations rising and falling, going all the way back to the decimation of the dinosaurs, Atlantis, Egypt, Athens, Pompeii, Rome, the Biblical Flood (a version of which exists in all religious histories), the European Dark Ages, the British Empire, the Russian Tsars, and now the USSR, Aztecs, Incas, and the list goes on, Life itself is in an eternal spiral of becoming, such that with every turn of the wheel, civilizations fall, but with something left over to begin again with, I believe our emphasis must be not on saving life, but on saving souls. Death, is the eventual outcome of all births, and as we know, death is simply a rebirth on another level. Panic is not called for; we are simply living in the end times of another civilization.
Because it has become truly a Global Village, we are much more aware of what is happening than in the past, which means that the general populace is privy to much more “News” than even twenty years ago. I am not sure I would want to survive, at my age, to greet a “Brave New World” where living simply is a must, with no medical services, no system of care for the elderly nor any of the modern conveniences that make life easier as we age. I believe that is the job of the young. There will certainly be survivors to repopulate the world and start the cycle once more. It would be hoped that these survivors would be much more spiritually aware than past generations.

Perhaps our responsibility lies in trying to make for a more enlightened populace. People are definitely searching for answers, for a better way, for connection with the Divine, the Creator, the Cosmic All. That is why so many Eastern Religions have taken hold in the West, among them Buddhism, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Transcendentalism, Wicca, Native Medicine, Spiritualism, plus any number of fakes allying themselves with the New Age movement. I see our role as one of bringing light to the dark recesses of the human condition, in all possible ways.

What is old. What is new.

What is old is me. What is new is this Christmas Day.

Last year, I wrote about passing the torch, and the need for the younger generation to learn to make Christmas before that knowledge dies out with the old ones. This year has been a totally new experience for this older child. I had been dreading Christmas in a way. As most of you know, I am not that strong any more and the idea of making Christmas, including Christmas dinner was a daunting one. The idea of going to the city for Christmas was out of the question.

I never even considered bringing (or taking) Christmas! However, my daughter arrived from the city last week, stayed two nights, and went with her dad to get the tree, then took me shopping for my gifts for him. In the evening he strung the lights and she decorated with his help. When she left the next morning, Christmas had arrived in our house.

The second hurtle, Christmas dinner, which we had cooked for the past 33 years without interruption, was to be catered...by her and her partner. They cooked all day Christmas Eve, then headed here in the morning, turkey, veggies, pies and Champagne with orange juice in hand. Her dad lit the kitchen range and promised to make the gravy. They warmed everything up, set the table, shared a morning champagne, opened gifts and we sat down to a very leisurely mid-afternoon dinner. Before leaving to go home again, they cleared the table, did the dishes, shared out the leftovers and put our portion in the fridge. All was left the way they found it this morning...except we have wonderful leftovers for tomorrow.

I could not feel more loved!

I pray for everyone to be surrounded by such love in this special season and all year long.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Magic

I wrote this a few years ago, but I believe it is still very relevant particularly at Christmas time when magic fills the air.

The Magic

With our changing world, so much of the continuity with the past has been lost, partly due to the breakup of the extended family and the frailty of the marriage bond. This is a major concern because it is part of the magic that children used to inherit from the older generations. It allowed them to know what was real and what was make believe, but also allowed them to dream great dreams. If our children do not dream, they will not do great things, a recipe for disaster in these most terrible of times.
So much of the magic is gone that many young parents do not even know about it, so how are they to teach their children. What always comes to mind when I think of this is the news item a while back about a young boy who shot his brother, then waited for him to come back to life and continue playing. He had been brought up on a steady diet of violence on TV and in the video games his parents used as baby sitters, and they said Mother Goose is too violent for the current crop of children. At least with Mother Goose, Grimm’s and grandparent’s stories, we knew what was make believe and we absorbed the moral of each story without even noticing.
We also absorbed the moral fiber of their generation along with our daily bread. We knew what was right and what was honorable. We knew that dead was dead. At the same time, our innocence was preserved for as long as possible to give us time to mature enough to handle the harsh realities.
We now live in a society that is stressed to the extreme just trying to provide the necessities of life. Family play time or story time, or even participation in group activities has become extremely rare. These are the times that should be providing the magic of dreaming big. I was always told that if I wanted something bad enough I would find a way, that hard work and integrity were rewarded, that I could be anything I wanted to become. … When my daughter was in grade 7, her teacher told her she would make a good secretary, not to dream beyond what was logically do-able. We had words, that teacher and I!
The schools are letting the children down and the parents are not taking up the slack, they simply exhaust themselves trying to survive and there is nothing left over for the children. Everything is done in the fast lane, even cooking dinner is seen as taking away from quality family time.
There is no time to cook, no time to teach, no time to participate in activities together, no time to share memories of accomplishments, dreams and ambitions, no time to learn sportsmanship, life skills … and on and on. Often there are no aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents … and the rest of the extended community that earlier generations belonged to and were supported by. WE have become a restless, rootless society.
When something died, it was given a fitting burial and the occasion was used to teach the sanctity of life, the logical rhythm of living and dying. Now, the dead thing is disposed of and the children are told that it went to live with Aunt Martha on the farm.
Parents don’t face the big questions with their children; they take the line of least resistance. This may be because they did not learn these things in their childhood either. The first funeral my children went to was for a favorite goldfish. The children decided the fish was hungry and gave it a whole oatmeal cookie. The next morning, I found the fish had tried very hard to eat it all, but had not been up to the task. He barely fit into the match box for his burial, but we sent him on to the next world with full honors and the children knew that dead is dead and he was not going to wake up.
I am not saying that there are no good people left, only that the balance has shifted with more young parents not having learned the skills and are now unable to pass them on. With the extended family being the exception rather than the rule, there is room for the “family by choice”. I personally have three daughters by choice, yielding five grandchildren by choice as well, who all enrich my life immensely. I am seeing more of this and I believe it may hold some hope for the future.
There are really no words to describe exactly what this missing magic looks like to anyone who has not experienced it, but maybe part of the answer is for those of us who know to reach out to those younger ones who know there is something missing, and help them find it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peace Profound

My life of pain is written
In the tears upon my face.
My capacity for joy is written
In the depth behind my eyes.

Understanding is reflected
In the timbre of my voice.
Peace Profound is waiting
In a chamber in my heart.

The events of each day
Form the path I must take
To reach the chamber
Holding ultimate bliss,

And gladly I walk
Through the refining fire,
To reach such an ultimate goal.

May the Peace and joy of the season find all of you


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Journey Into Being, A Beginning

This is in response to Paul's comment on Anger-The Book Review.
After publishing the book in October 2005, I became very ill and expired in an ambulance on April 6, 2006. Herculean efforts resuscitated me and I came out of intensive care and home only one month later. It was love that brought me back, and love that keeps me here. I have done no more with the book as I am working on either a second book or a second edition, not sure which, adding new material and changing it to Journey Into Being-A Lifetime On The Path. My DH thinks I should call it The Spiral Path. Since I am in the latter stages of COPD, I tire easily and need to rest more often. It is slow going but I believe I will be able to publish it. There is a link to the book at the end of the blog links to the right of the body of this blog.
I am also working on another book, Dialog Between Teacher And Student. It will trace the communication between teacher and student over a 5 year period, with emphasis on the fact that we are all teachers, we are all students.
It is still my desire to keep the charting of my course free, and to that end, I post most of the material here. If one were to read this blog from the beginning 'till now, you could follow my course through this life.
Due to time constraints, I have not kept the My Space blog up to date but there is a note there directing anyone intersted to this blog.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Journey Into Being, The Book

Since the 1970's, I have kept a journal of jottings tracking my own journey toward enlightenment, things I have learned, observed and recorded over a 30 year period. In 1982, I compiled them into a small volume for family and close friends (6 copies). Last year, with the passing of a very dear friend, these early jottings came back into my possession.

Due to the extreme pressure from these same family and friends, I agreed to up-date the collection and compile it into a book for publication. Most of the mare rial comes from my early thirties, juggling a career and a life, while at the same time pursuing my personal quest to "become" an enlightened being. I have added more recent material as well, but it is truly a Journey Into Being, A Beginning!

Since I do not believe in putting a dollar value on anything I may have learned that would be of benefit to others, I was in a bit of a quandary, which I solved by setting up this blog and another at My Space At MSN. Between the two sites, I hope to offer things I have learned about life and living it, freely to anyone who may enjoy or benefit from my experiences.

The pressure to publish continues, and with the help and encouragement of family and friends, I believe the book will be ready to print by the end of October. I have found a site that will print and distribute it, taking their fees out of the proceeds for each book as it is printed. In this way, I need not pay any costs up front, making it possible for me to do. My course is being charted by the Creator each step of the way, and I must believe this book needs to be written. Difficulties are being swept away, needed information falls to hand almost before I need it, and the support and help of my family and friends is unending.

It is my sincere hope that my early experiences will help those beginning on their path to have courage and hope, knowing they are not alone. All knowledge resides within each of us. We must simply seek our inner connection to all that is. When we tread our paths with a light and a mirror, we light the way for our footsteps, and hold a mirror to assist others to look inside for their truths.

With love and companionship on the Journey

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anger-The Book Review

I found a rather negative review posted on the site that the book, Journey Into Being, A Beginning, is being sold. It upset me rather more than I thought it should so I had to sit down and examine it to determine why.What it comes down to is this. I gathered together the writings and published the book because I wanted to share my personal Journey with others so that they would know that they are not alone, and to perhaps help to point them toward their own path. It is truly from the heart, a little bit of me in every word.

I put myself out there, spiritually naked for all to see, but that was not the reason the review made me angry.After pondering and meditating for some time, I realized that I was angry because that review might turn someone away from the book without checking to see if it was something that they could identify with and perhaps gain insight from. My DH assures me that this will not happen, that one mediocre review will not defeat my purpose in publishing, and I find that I do agree with him. Those who can gain from it will find it.

Funny how even after all these years, anger can still come up and blind side a person. It also reinforces my belief that anger is not a true emotion. When we look behind it, we always find another face peeking out. Sometimes it is fear, or embarrassment, or disappointment, or other emotions we do not want to deal with. Most often, though, it is fear that I find behind the mask of anger. In this instance it was fear caused by hanging on. I needed to learn to let go of the results of my actions, instead of hovering over them like a broody hen. That light-bulb has allowed me to continue work on a second edition or a second book, Journey Into Being, A lifetime On My Path. My DH suggested I name it The Spiral Path.

When you find yourself angry over something, stop and examine that anger. You may be very surprised at what you will find there. The greatest benefit in this exercise is that once identified, anger usually slinks off into the darkness, leaving you more aware and in control than before. Each time you confront it, it is easier to banish.

This is the beginning of taming the emotions and banishing the fear that motivates ego. There are layers beyond the mask of fear that hides behind anger. I will leave it up to each one to search their hearts for the answers hidden there.

The Buddha on Anger

In my youth, my temper was uncontrolled. The first guy who took me to a deserted road to tell me the "hereafter" story ended up in hospital… Later as a young mother, my temper was definitely not an asset. About that time, I stumbled on a book called The Teachings Of The Compassionate Buddha. Although not a Buddhist, I have worn out three copies of that little book. One of the first things I saw in it was this piece about anger. It grabbed my attention and was probably the beginning of my quest to understand and eliminate it as much as possible. Control was not my goal, as control is simply suppression, which still hurts the one experiencing the anger. Again, meditation was the tool that let me peer behind this ugly mask.

The Buddha On Anger

Let a man leave anger, let him forsake pride, Let him overcome all bondage! No suffering befall the man who is not attached to name- and-form! And who calls nothing his own.
He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real driver, other people are but holding the reins. Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good, let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth!

Speak the truth, do not yield to anger, give if you are asked, even though it be a little. Beware of bodily anger, and control the body. Beware of the anger of the tongue and control your tongue. Beware the anger of the mind and control your mind. The wise who control their body, who control their tongue, who control their mind, are indeed well controlled.
The fault of others is easily perceived, but that of one’s self is difficult to perceive, a man winnows his neighbor’s faults like chaff, but his own faults he hides, as a cheat hides an unlucky cast of the dice. If a man looks after the faults of others and is always inclined to be offended, his own passions will grow.
You, yourself must make an effort.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Links

Today I have added two new links to posts that I enjoy reading very much.

The first belongs to Jon Be Me and is called Right or Rong? . His insights are based on the Buddhist view, and well worth the read for anyone on or searching for their path. Anyone who knows me, knows that if I had to profess a specific religion or path, it would have to be Buddhism.

The second belongs to Maithri Goonetilleke, a medical doctor in Australia, and is called Soaring Impulse. The information he shares is honest and to the point, written in plain English so all can understand. Knowledge is power and he passes it out freely. His poetry is powerful, beautiful, and moving.

Both are worthy.

The Mask

Since I am writing an article on anger to post here, I thought I would first post a poem that I wrote many years ago.

The Mask

So much has made me angry
Over the years till now,
That I have had to ask myself
What anger is, and how
It can control the things I do
despite my very vow.
I look behind the angry roar
And lurking there, I see
A myriad different disguises
Peering back ant me.
Behind each mask I look beneath.
The face of fear is what I see.

Let me never wear this mask.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Balance, The Spiritual Pillar Revisited

If one meditates regularly, the questions will come, growth will begin whether we plan for it or not. Opportunities will present themselves. We may struggle with a concept for ages then one day, the light bulb goes on and we simply know that we have found that particular answer. At least the right answer for this particular stage in our growth, since there is no ultimate answer to be found until one has scaled the mountain and stands on the pinnacle.

Much of this growth happens unnoticed. We simply accept these new ideas, truths and ways to relate to the world around us as normal. At some point, we will recognize that something is happening to us, and that we are no longer the same person who started meditating. Better health, less stress, and the results of a quiet mind have allowed our inner selves to communicate with the mundane here and now selves. Our values change and grow, our pleasures tend to be had in the simple things around us. We feel more connected to nature as well as more compassionate with our fellow travelers. We love more deeply, we think more deeply, and we are much quicker to lend a helping hand.

The platform of our lives starts to spend more time in a balanced or at least semi-balanced state. We have found our path and have begun to scale the mountain in earnest. This may be a dangerous time for us as we start to utilize more of our mental capabilities. If we manifest talents that we did not know we had, we need to remember that they are simply guideposts along the path and not to become fascinated by them. If we do become distracted, we will spend time in sort of a rest stop area, neither progressing nor regressing. Along the path, there are many of these rest areas, where we may stop and gather our thoughts, put new knowledge in it’s proper place and contemplate future endeavors. These stops will be different for each of us as we each travel a unique path, near or far from others on the slopes.

It is also possible to be so wrapped up in our spiritual growth that we neglect to nurture our physical, emotional and mental selves. As the pendulum swings beyond the balance point again, we will find ourselves in need of concentrating on these other pillars to bring ourselves back into balance. For each of us, the needs will be different. We need to pay attention to the worldly aspects of ourselves in order to embrace and nurture what needs attention. This is not a final balancing as we can not sustain perfect balance here on earth, we can only move through it like a pendulum does. Each new journey around the spiral of becoming will present it’s own challenges and it’s own rewards.

If we bear in mind that life is a spiral, we will not get discouraged, thinking we have simply come full circle and are back where we began. The territory may seem familiar but it is not exactly the same. Progress is being made, and at the proper rate for each of us. The journey is long and speed is not a requirement.

And so ends another circuit of the pillars that support our lives.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

More on Stolen Moments

“Stolen moments are the times in which I feel guilty for not having done what I could have done”.

The above is a quote from someone who read the article on Stolen moments. After thinking for a short while, I realized that I may not have made the difference between lost or wasted time and stolen moments totally clear.

Lost or wasted time is what you feel guilty for not having done something "productive" when your plan did not work out. Stolen moments are what you can transform lost time into. For example, you may have an appointment with someone, but your car will not run. You find at the last minute that you can not do it, you can choose to fret and worry or feel guilty about not making the appointment. Alternatively, you can take that time that was suddenly freed up and do something for yourself that you did not have time to do. That is stolen moments. It is also possible to read a good book while waiting in the doctor's office, turning even the small blocks of time into Stolen Moments.

You may have to sit yourself down and give yourself a royal taking to in order to dispel the negative feelings you normally feel when plans go awry, but it is worth it. If you accept that there is purpose in the events we experience, that they are not just random hiccups, then you need to accept that your plans were canceled for a reason. You also need to look after yourself you will not be able to help others or do your work well. The things you do to contribute to your physical well being, mental and emotional health are not luxuries, they are necessities! My daughter has a saying that if mama not happy, no one is happy.

Mothers and type A personalities are the ones most often afflicted with the need to be productive at all times. Mothers will neglect their own needs in order to try to be the perfect parent. Type A personalities need to feel they are giving their all to whatever they need to do. Type A is also the one most likely to feel the Only Me Syndrome. Having been both a driven mother and a driven Type A, I speak from experience.

Meditation was the beginning of a return to physical and emotional well being for me. This does not mean that I will not get sick or become disabled. I can still suffer from genetic flaws, chemical imbalances, accidents and other ills beyond my control. What I can do is be the master of my reactions to life's ups and downs, I can achieve the best physical and emotional health I am capable of. I can avoid dragging myself down a self-destructive road. I can become happier and accomplish more with less stress and effort. We all can!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Stolen Moments

Do you find that ruined plans and waiting times are lost time or wasted time? Or do you take these little bits of time for yourself and recognize them for what they are. Stolen moments!

If you find yourself in the first category, you probably also multitask, carry a lot of stress, become frustrated when your plans go awry, and you may be subject to high blood pressure and even ulcers. I have experienced all of the above in early adulthood. I still multitask………..I have relinquished the other Type A traits.

On the other hand, if you view these little bits of time as the gifts they are, you probably get as much, if not more done in the same time span. Your stress levels are probably much lower, blood pressure is not a problem and you are more balanced in all four areas, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

There are ways to get from lost time to stolen moments. I got there by prioritizing, demanding time for myself, and meditating, meditating, meditating. I was a young parent with a family and a burgeoning career. I burned the candle at both ends and suffered from ulcers constantly. This was the point in my life that I met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I was taught Transcendental Meditation and was on my way to healing the ulcers, reducing stress, and appreciating the stolen moments that are a gift to each and every one of us.

Meditating twice a day became easier and easier. After some time, I was able to meditate anywhere any time, almost. I was even able to meditate in a moving commuter train, not recommended! As my stress levels reduced and my health started to improve, I began to see that if I did not look after myself I could not fulfill my obligations to family and career.

Although I did not have any more time than I did before meditation, I was able to use it better, which included capitalizing on those times when plans go awry and we are left with unplanned time. Before, I thought of these times as lost time. Now I see them as stolen moments, gifts which I can use to take care of my own needs. I can now use this time to read a good book, talk to a friend, go for a drive, have a leisurely bubble bath, spend it doing something I enjoy with family or friends…. The possibilities are endless.

It is worth examining one’s life to see what needs are not being fulfilled and incorporate satisfying those needs into our daily lives. YES! Play is a need that must be met in order to become a fully functional human. Try making a list of the things you would like to do but don’t feel you have the time. You know the ones.... you dismiss them as being selfish, or believing that everyone else’s needs are more important than yours. Then prioritize the items on this list using a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not very important and 10 being very important. Those with the higher rating are those that are needed to maintain your physical and mental health at their highest possible level.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Bridge Between

I believe the mind...body...emotional connection is not well understood. The emotional pillar is the bridge between the physical and the mental. It overlaps and affects both. There is so much misunderstanding about the relationship of the pillars and a real danger of pain and suffering because of it.

There are those who insist that all physical illness is a manifestation of emotional instability, that physical illness is caused by the mind and can be cured or prevented by the mind. I do not agree with this in any way. Yes, the emotional pillar affects both the physical and mental, and can make physical problems worse and make the mental pillar unstable..........but that does not mean that if we achieve emotional balance or emotional health, we will automatically have physical health, nor does it mean that emotional health makes the mental pillar outstanding (i.e. increase the IQ beyond all realistic expectations). In fact, many emotional or mental illnesses have their base in physical imbalances and can be healed, treated or controlled by medical means.

Each of the pillars affect the others. When any one is out of phase with the others, our life becomes unbalanced and can only be brought back into balance by bringing that pillar into line. It may also be that one pillar has grown faster than the others and in that case, the other three must be realigned with the most developed one.

Because mental health (actually emotional health) is such a taboo subject in our society, we do not pay sufficient attention to keep our emotional self healthy. We are also taught a work ethic that leaves little or no room for play, for joy, for self-expression. This causes the emotional pillar to be out of balance more, and more often than the physical or mental, and sometimes the only way for our emotional selves to attract attention to the problem is to have a detrimental effect on the physical or mental pillar. We get physical check-ups, and often get mental check-ups in the way of IQ tests and comprehension tests, but we don't get emotional check-ups or even seek validation for our emotions from others. We burry our feelings deep where they can take root and grow into terrible monsters.

This does not mean that the root of all illness is in the emotional self. It simply means that we may well break down in those physical areas that are not as strong as others. Or we may make a pre-existing condition worse because of our negative emotional state. If worrying causes ulcers, and we stop worrying, the ulcer is still very real and needs physical attention to heal it. If our negative emotional state causes us to experience more pain and suffering than if we were emotionally healthy, the pain and suffering is still real. If we have a hereditary weakness or disease, emotional health is not going to cure or prevent it.

However, if our emotional state is in harmony, we are much more able to deal with physical adversity. We are capable of centering our attention outside our selves and reduce the effect of disease on our lives. We are able to grow spiritually in spite of physical obstacles. We are more able to make our lives enjoyable and rewarding. Again, meditation helps us to create the harmony we need in our lives.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Balance-The Emotional Pillar Revisited

I was sitting here thinking about a deeper look at emotional health and how to gain or maintain it. I glanced at the pile of weekend flyers and noticed a white sheet. It was titled “Being Well”, Our Mental Health Matters”. Although it is referred to as Mental Health, it is actually Emotional Health. I would like to quote a couple of things from the flyer that caught my eye right away.

First, The World Health Organization in 2005 said “There is no health without mental health.” The second was in a box for emphasis, and was titled “Did You Know”. It said that mental illness is the single leading cause of illness affecting Canadians. Those with mental health issues are at greater risk for chronic disease. It is estimated that mental illness costs the Nova Scotia economy more than $338 million per year.

After I picked up my dropped jaw, I realized that mental health is a much bigger issue than I had thought, and that we are actually talking about emotional health! There is nothing special about Nova Scotia, Canada, that would account for such numbers. This scenario can be applied to most of the western world. It is no wonder that the platform holding our lives is so often tilted to the point that we are in danger of sliding off.

One of the difficulties we encounter if we feel we are ill and needing help, is the stigma that is still attached to anyone with an emotional illness. It makes us try to look happy and in control of our lives. The coping mechanisms we develop are often more damaging than the illness itself.

Most communities have mental health programs, but people are afraid to avail themselves of these services for fear that family and friends will think less of them. This added stress of trying to cover up our emotional problems makes it all worse. We need to educate ourselves as well as those around us. Mental illness most often has a physical cause and can be treated just like any other illness. There are also often events in our lives of such magnitude that we need help and support to deal with them. If we do not, they are very apt to manifest as physical diseases.

We need to take our courage in hand and seek help when we feel overwhelmed. Often our lives can be restored to order or at least made better with education, development of healthy coping skills, and possibly even medication if required to correct a chemical imbalance. Support groups can also help by sharing experiences, ideas, skills and understanding. It is surprising how much better we can feel if we know we are not alone, and not the only one with such problems.

Along with other skills we can learn from both professionals and support groups, meditation is recognized as an effective tool by the medical community. A regular meditation routine can reduce stress and put us back in touch with our inner strengths. By bringing the emotional pillar into balance with the others, we become more stable, and happier in all facets of our lives.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Balance-The Mental Pillar Revisited

When I spoke of the mental pillar before, I touched on the need to put as much "programming" into our mental computer "wet ware" as we can. In order to even speak about our experiences, we need to make a concentrated effort to expand our knowledge and our vocabulary. We need to experience new things, and understand them.

It is easy to settle into the same old rut, assuming that nothing changes and nothing is new. This kind of thinking once almost got me killed. Many years ago, where I lived in rural Ontario, there was a railroad that passed along beside the highway between our tiny hamlet and the nearest town big enough to shop in, which also had the highschool for the whole area.

Before I finished school and moved away to pursue my own destiny, the railroad fell into disuse and was used only once or twice a year. I became used to never seeing a train or hearing its lonesome whistle announcing it's presence and it's intention to cross the road. Returning home for a visit, I was driving to that town to do some shopping, on automatic you could say, I had passed that way so many times before. My mind did not register either the whistle or the presence of the train passing across the highway until it was almost too late. I stopped within inches of the moving train! Nothing in my mind had prepared me for seeing the train....so I did not.

If we do not prepare our minds for the wondrous journey ahead, we will miss many great truths, experiences, and growth itself. Just as a child learns gradually, we must allow our minds to build on each layer of learning we complete. We need to learn to really see, hear, touch and experience the world around us, and that takes time to learn the language to express what we experience and understand the experiences of others who share with us. Trying to push too far or too fast will only lead to discouragement. Learning comes in all shapes and sizes. We learn from books, from TV, movies, radio, computer, other people and from life itself. When we indicate our desire to learn, many more occasions and events will be presented to us. In order to benefit from the lessons that are presented, we must be alert and aware, alive in the present moment, looking carefully at all we experience. You can bet that I learned a lesson from my train experience, and now keep my senses open and my mind alert for the unexpected. It is surprising how much more I am aware of because of that.

An active, healthy mind is also protection against Alzheimer's, Senile Dementia and other mental afflictions. As we must keep our bodies strong and healthy, we need to do the same for our minds.We must never stop learning. Life will bring so many more delights if we are open to the. Meditation helps us to prepare for learning and keeps us both alert and relaxed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Physical Pillar Revisited

There are those who believe that if one eats right, sleeps right, meditates regularly and follows the basic spiritual principles, they will have excellent health, reversing any imperfection that has been endured. This belief goes hand in hand with the idea that we will be showered with riches, friends, perfect partners, love on all sides. In short, we will have everything we could possibly want. If this does not happen they assume we are simply not being spiritual enough and suffer at our own hands.

This view is as illogical as it is to assume we can control the weather, or roll back time. The physical world has its laws which we can not set aside. If we have lost a limb, suffer from an incurable disease or have inherited genetic flaws, we can not reverse those things. We can, however, do much to ease the suffering of our bodies and improve our health within those laws. It is counter productive to either sit back and wait for the Creator to change us into our ideal of perfection, or to go to bed with a box of chocolates and wait for the inevitable ending of our lives here on earth. I firmly believe that living is a process and death is an event, merely a crossing back to where we came from.

We can learn to take care of our physical selves and achieve the best health we can. We can avail ourselves of the help that modern medicine can provide. We can adopt a more positive attitude toward our abilities and minimize the impact of our disabilities on our lives. We can insure that we get adequate rest, good nutrition, clean air to breathe, exercise to the best of our abilities, We can focus on what we can do, rather than what we can't. When life hands us a lemon we can make marmalade and sell it to raise money for those things we need to make our lives more productive.

A positive attitude will go farther to improve our physical state than almost anything else we can do. There is always something we can do to improve our quality of life. We can be open to experience the joy and wonder that surrounds us, often in the simplest things. It is not enough to merely look, we must See. Meditation will help us to bring our lives into harmony with the Creator and with the world around us. It also reduces stress and allows the body to renew and rejuvenate to a greater degree.

Even without obvious disabilities, we need to scrutinize our lives and correct those things which may lead to poor health or future medical problems. The body is the temple of the soul and as such deserves all the respect and help it can get to be it's very best. We should not go around judging the merits of this temple or that church or the other mosque or synagogue. We simply respect what is ours and show respect and tolerance toward others. This applies to the body as well. It is counter productive to measure ourselves against others and see ourselves as superior or inferior. We are all unique and we need to be the best unique individual we can be.

Time spent improving our health will bring many benefits into our lives, and meditation is a tool that can help us to achieve more.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cause and Effect

When we speak of control, we are referring to "self" control. Much of what happens to us is not under our conscious control. However, we can always be in control of our reaction to it. Many do not understand that we have this ability, and feel that they are cast adrift in a mighty storm, able only to try to hold on until the storm abates.

In one sense, what occurs in our lives is brought about by our own actions. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction". "As we sow, so shall we reap," even "the golden rule" all allude to this truth. We do bring into our lives that which we need to further our growth and understanding. Since we often don't notice this, we miss opportunities to change our ways, feeling instead that life has been unfair to us. This causes the same event to present repeatedly until we come to understand what we are doing that causes it.

I once expressed sympathy for a woman in a nursing home who was celebrating her 100th birthday alone. My friend responded that if she had been a kind and generous woman through her life, she would not be alone on such a momentous occasion. This did not relieve my pity for the woman, but it certainly gave me cause to think. Another friend had a different view, which I also found compelling. He suggested that at that age, she may not have many friends left and family may be scattered across the globe. With age comes reduced mobility and the ability to participate in daily life. Our society values youth and energy. This has often resulted in our ignoring our crones and elders, not realizing how much wisdom they have acquired over their long lives.

Many, if not all, of the basic truths we seek in life have already been distilled down into such familiar homilies. We just don't notice them while searching for an obscure, difficult path to enlightenment. Instead, we search for the ultimate guru, the most obscure path laid down by someone long dead, or at least totally unfamiliar to us.

Meditation helps us to go within ourselves and find these basic truths, bringing our lives into harmony inside and out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's In A Name

With the popularity of “New Age” thinking and the internet, there has been a great deal of confusion. The old words have taken on new meanings, for example Avatar referred to an enlightened being in human form (The Buddha) but is now refers to an icon or animation used to represent a participant used in Internet chat and games. A spiritual person was one who pursued a way of life in accordance with the highest principles and morals, in a search for greater understanding of the mysteries of life. Now, the word is used to denote those who talk to the spirits of dead people, conduct séances, and such.

In the minds of many, religion and spirituality are synonymous. When discussing the role of spirituality in political leaders, we invite argument if we do not first define the terms we are using in clear and concise terms. A recent group discussion made that abundantly clear. The discussion centered around the role of religion in government, when the topic was actually the role of spirituality in those who govern. After some clarification we discovered we were all in agreement that we believe our secular leaders should hold spiritual ideals (in accordance with the highest principles and morals) which transcends different religions and formalized codes of belief. Religions, by their very nature are human interpretations of the will of The Creator. The basic moral structure has been set down long ago and was meant to help us live in harmony with each other across barriers of language, race, religion and politics.
This all caused me to start thinking about the need to bring the spiritual and physical into harmony, to strive for a common spiritual code that inevitably links us all.
Having Journeyed for a long time, I have come to a number of realizations, one of which I quote regularly. There are many paths up the mountain, all lead to the same place...the top. As the various paths converge, the physical, human trappings fall away and we discover that we are all brothers under the skin. Anyone on a spiritual path of discovery will find that they share the same goals and aims as others who are searching for enlightenment. This dissolves the perceived barriers between "good people" regardless of the vehicle that has brought them to their present realizations.
Many years of examining the wider paths up the mountain has convinced me that when these paths are put under the microscope, they share the same goals, the same spiritual truths. The only caveat is that there are false trails out there that can trick a seeker into believing that they are following a true spiritual leader. We must all examine the truths we find to ensure that they are actually truths. When we find a truth, we must listen to our inner self. That self knows all and if we listen to it, we will not go wrong. Meditation can put us in touch with the inner self if we so desire.
We each have our own path to follow, and must take responsibility for following it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Leaping Into The Unknown

Each time we reach a new plateau of knowledge and understanding, we must get there by leaping into the unknown. This leap can be downright terrifying, but if we shy away from the precipice, the doorway we can not see beyond, the result is often stagnation and at times, even madness, as we deny the very growth we work so hard to achieve. Once committed to the path, we have only the choice to proceed or to dally, with the attendant consequences. We must face this challenge over and over again as we approach each new leap forward in understanding, acceptance, growth.

We approach a doorway into more light, but are afraid to walk through. We stand there, hesitating, afraid to go in, afraid to go back, afraid....Another way to picture it is standing on the precipice, working up the nerve to jump, trusting that all will be well and will be as it is meant to be. I believe that each crisis we reach and pass, makes us stronger, more willing to take that leap of faith.

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is acting in spite of it. Walking the path takes true courage. I have found that the only real enemy is fear itself. If we can act in the face of fear, we can walk our path with confidence.

Balance-The Spiritual Pillar-Meditation

One of the tools used to integrate and stabilize the platform of our lives is meditation. It helps us to integrate all four pillars into a cohesive whole, and gives us glimpses of what we are seeking.

As we research and meditate, questions will arise; this is the beginning of Awakening. As we find our questions we can begin to search for our answers. The answers are all within us, but we need to rediscover them, rather like seeing them reflected in a mirror. When we have a question, and find the answer, we will know it is the right answer as it will resonate within. We will be sure of it, there will be no doubt in our minds that it is a truth.

As we begin this process of developing the Spiritual Pillar, we can become so engrossed in the process that we often neglect the other pillars. When that happens, the imbalance will often be reflected in the Physical Pillar. We may become ill or suffer from lack of sleep, or even become emotionally unbalanced. This is the way our physical selves have of attracting our attention. It is necessary to always be aware that balance is not a static thing. It is achievable only in short periods, like a pendulum which swings through the balance point repeatedly. The better we get at paying attention to all facets of our lives, the more frequent and longer the periods of balance will be.

And so begins another circuit around the upward spiral of Becoming

Balance-The Spiritual Pillar Part 2

The three pillars of balance that are firmly rooted in this world are the physical, mental and emotional. The spiritual pillar is our connection to the eternal soul, the All That Is, the inner self that resides in the temple of the body. The Ego is the caretaker of the temple and has existence only through the mind and emotions of this life. Because we have forgotten what we really are, the Ego assumes that it is the owner, and not just the caretaker.

When we seek to remember our higher self, to reconnect consciously with the All, the Ego feels threatened and becomes fearful that it will be cast aside. Two small items that I previously posted deal with both the Caretaker and the Space Suit that is this physical self. They are reposted below.

The Caretaker

The body is the temple of the soul, the ego is the caretaker of the temple. The ego, poorly trained for the job, believes he is the owner of the property, and in the absence of the true owner, uses and abuses his trust. But he can not really be held accountable because of his immaturity and incomplete training for the job.

Like a child, he must be corrected gently, but firmly, and properly taught his duties. Sometimes, like a hyperactive and wayward child, he is unwilling to accept authority, and relinquish his faulty conception of his role.

Anger and self-pity are the tools he uses to block out his master’s voice and avoid hearing the truth. Like a child, his fear of the unknown can slow his progress.

I can’t help but feel that children who are born angry are at this particular stage of soul development. The ego’s false sense of importance is the cause of much human woe. Lose it and one becomes invulnerable.

The Space Suit

On the moon, man cannot function but within the controlled environment of his space suit. He cannot interact directly with the moon around him. On this earth, man cannot function but within the controlled environment of his body and brain. He must strive mightily in order to consciously realize his greater self, using the tools provided in the physical body.

Lifetimes lived within this space suit of the physical creates fear to venture forth into the unknown without the familiar. Even the daring are most often content to psychically duplicate the familiar and experience what is termed projection. Few are the brave souls who venture forth into the expanded awareness that is ours by virtue of the soul’s heritage.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Balance-The Spiritual Pillar

This body, this mind, this heart, this physical presence is the temple in which the spirit resides and deserves to be loved, respected and cherished. Until the temple receives the attention it needs, we can not begin to search for the questions we need to ask in order to find our proper path and begin the Journey meant for this lifetime.

Once the physical, mental and emotional pillars are brought into balance with each other, the fact that we are searching for something we can not yet name becomes much clearer. Who am I? What am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? What lies before and after this life? So many questions. Where to start to search? At this point, learning to meditate may be the best tool for searching for meaning. It certainly was for me. Again there are good books available on meditation techniques as well as a great deal of information on the internet,. The challenge is to find the best meditation techniques for each individual. What works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Each of us has a unique path to follow, individual goals to achieve, a Journey similar to, but different from all others. We begin in different places. We have different questions to ask and answers to find. We may search in the company of others with similar goals or we may find ourselves in situations where we must walk a solitary path. At different times we may experience both companionship and solitude.

When we reach this point in our Journey, the beginning of consciously walking our unique path, finding our questions, then searching for our answers, we often get so involved in the excitement of finding purpose, we often forget to continue to be aware of the need for balance. The other pillars may well be neglected to the point that we experience great turbulence in our lives. When that happens, it is necessary to stop and re-examiner all of the pillars that support our lives.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Balance-The Importance of Play

Somewhere along the way we have forgotten the importance of play, laughter and joy. We forgot to see the humorous side of life, the silver linings, the stolen moments, Instead, we see the negative, the clouds, the lost time., the plans gone awry.

Without joy, life becomes a chore, something to be endured instead of something to be reveled in. When was the last time you took a mental health day, gave yourself permission to run away and keep going until the peanut butter sandwiches run out?

When my daughter was young, even though I worked full time, we would take run away days and go for a drive, or to a fast food joint or walk on the beach. Whenever possible, she would meet me for lunch and we would go to a grown-up restaurant. One of my fondest memories is taking a roll of caps for a cap gun and a hammer and sitting on the walkway, exploding them one at a time. You must realize that she was in her teens at the time.

Because she grew up with the idea that it was OK to play to fritter away time, she is still able to do so. It has caused her a couple of embarrassing moments, like playing in the sand pile with her dinky car collection when a car drove up her driveway looking for directions. She was married at the time. But even those memories are treasures.

We still pack a picnic, a cooler and go to the end of the driveway and pick a direction. It is surprising how many wonderful places you can find that way. Sometimes we stop at all the yard sales, sometimes the discount stores, sometimes the zoo and sometime a grocery store and a picnic park. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is the playing together.

Our approach to life and the use of time can often mean the difference between a harried, driven workaholic and a well-adjusted, productive individual. Playing exercises the body, mind and spirit. Don’t forget to play and when plans go awry through no fault of your own, remember that it can mean lost time or stolen moments, the choice is yours.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Regrets

When we get older we do not regret the things we have tried or have done. We regret the things we didn't do.

When a friend was considering doing something she had always wanted to do, but had not, I quoted the above saying. Another friend, looking back at things she could've done and did not do, for the most part, is glad she didn't do them because she thinks she would have regretted them.

I agree that there are many things in a person's life that they may well regret if they do them, but I believe the quote refers to those things that we do not do even though we feel we will always regret it if we don't take the risk.

I have always made my decisions on that basis. I acknowledge that the chosen path may not work out, but if I don't try, I will always regret the road not taken. I also look down both roads as far as I can, contemplate both the best and the worst that could happen, and determine if I could survive the worst. The result is never the best or worst that can happen, but will probably be somewhere in the middle. If I feel that I can deal with the worst and still feel I would regret not acting on the opportunity, I jump into the deep end and swim like he**.

As a teenager, I knew an elderly couple who had lived a very full life, with all the trials and tribulations that come with such a life. In their twilight years, in the summers, they sat on the porch in their rockers, side by side until the sun set and darkness came. They would then go into the kitchen, light a lamp and make a snack before going to bed. They were not filled with regrets and bitterness. They were content. I want to achieve that contentment while waiting for the boatman.

My greatest leaps of faith have been to divorce an abusive husband, enter into a second marriage that no one expected to last a year, and drag my family, including parents-in-law, half way across the country to begin a life that would prove to be better in every way. I have not regretted any of those decisions, and I'm sneaking up to the rocker on the front porch with few regrets.

I wish such an ending to all.

Balance-The Emotional Pillar Part 2

Of the four pillars supporting the platform of our lives, the emotional seems to be the most difficult to bring into balance. As children, we are taught to deny so much of the emotional experience that we grow up believing that strength is being able to suppress any emotion that makes others uncomfortable. Instead of accepting our selves with all our moods and feelings, we learn to suppress anger, fear, sadness, pain ……….and put a brave face on for the world to see.

We deny ourselves the tears that heal our pain in favor of denying that we feel it at all. We deny our natural fears until they become so large that we fear anything new and cannot communicate it. We deny our anger until it becomes turned inward on ourselves, causing real physical damage to our bodies. We deny our pain until it becomes the central force of our lives and we deny our sadness to the point that we can no longer feel joy.

As bad as it is for women, it is even harder for men. From the time they are small boys, they are taught to “suck it up” and take it like a man. With no acceptable outlet for fear and sadness and even anger, many men become so conflicted that they actually become violent, which was more acceptable in our society than tears or sadness. Then when they enter into an adult relationship with a woman, they are unable to express the tender feelings they have almost forgotten to even recognize. They are left with rage and violence as their only acceptable outlet. Not a very satisfactory relationship for either the man or the woman, who is at least partly in touch with her feelings. Isn’t it ironic that we as mothers, raise sons to be such conflicted partners!

It is also far too easy to blame others or life in general for our woes. It is a thing I have observed with some “self help” groups. They take things to the point of identifying the probable cause of some emotional problem, then stop there, blaming their current problems on past experiences and absolving themselves of any responsibility for their lives or the events in them. This stops emotional growth in its tracks and robs one of the chance to deal with the fears and the pain and work through it to become a more complete and happier human being.

Many years ago, I learned that the best way for me to deal with a heart break was to find a quiet, private place, preferably near running water and let the tears flow. If I allowed myself to experience the whole spectrum of emotions that come with loss, loss of a loved one, loss of a freedom, loss of health, in short, any traumatic loss, the tears would flow freely, bathing my heart and soul with their healing power.

Afterward, I would be emotionally exhausted, wrung out to the point that there were no more tears to shed. However, I would no longer be caught unaware and have to shove the pain and tears down inside where they would grow and become even more unbearable. I would be able to go on with the daily process of living while healing began. Sometimes healing took a long time and sometimes not so long at all, but without the release of the grief of loss, the healing could not begin. Alternatively, if I forced the pain back inside and hid it even from myself, it would grow and fester and come to the surface in unbearable waves, each one worse than the last and always at the most importune moment.

Recently, I have had occasion to deal with others who are going through terrible times in their lives. They tried to get by with denying any release of the emotions, forcing the pain and tears down deep inside and pretending there is nothing wrong. Any time they have found it unbearable, and tears spilled out, they would work so hard to deny the pain and tears that they became numb inside, unable to feel either pain or pleasure in their lives.

We are taught that crying is a weakness and is to be avoided at all cost. This denies the release and healing that comes with allowing ourselves to work through our feelings and shed the tears that heal. It is all a part of the process of claiming our lives and our selves, being responsible for our own actions and the results of them. It is a way to allow ourselves to heal emotionally and bring the emotional pillar more into line with the other three.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Balance-The Emotional Pillar part 1

We need to interact with others, learn communication skills, share knowledge to keep the mind working well. Without this, we can not search for what will make us whole. We become stagnant, stuck in the same old rut with only vague feelings of something missing, which leads us to the emotional pillar.

If we can not identify what we are searching for, we can make unwise decisions and choices in an attempt to fill that void. We can form unhealthy relationships, fall prey to extortive cults, suffer from long term depression, even become unable to function in our world.

When looking at our emotional selves and determining how to bring that pillar into balance with the others, we often come face to face with the fact that we do not love and cherish ourselves right here, right now. Over the years, we have been subjected to a great deal of negative criticism. It slowly seeps into the center of our being, leading us to believe we are not worthy. The reasons may vary. We may have come from dysfunctional, abusive homes. We may have done poorly in school or in sports and been criticized for not excelling in everything. We may have become entangled in an abusive relationship or marriage where we have seen no way out. We may suffer from depression, either full blown clinical depression or sub-clinical depression, which may go undiagnosed for years. The reasons are as varied as the people who suffer from this low self-esteem.

The first step in reclaiming our Selves is to recognize that there is a problem. We have a right to feel good about ourselves. As it says in Desiderata “You are a child of the universe, you have a right to be here.” It may be necessary to seek out someone to talk to, a family doctor, a counselor, a minister or even a close friend or respected family member. Breaking the silence may be one of the most difficult things to do. We tend to build high walls around our hearts when we feel vulnerable. There are now many help groups, both in the community and on the Internet, aimed at providing mutual support. The most difficult part is to isolate and acknowledge the problem. Finding the help we need hinges on accepting that we need help. Until we learn to love ourselves, we can not expect others to love us. People tend to treat us in the way that we expect to be treated.

This body, this mind, this heart, this physical presence is the temple in which the spirit resides and deserves to be loved, respected and cherished. Until the temple receives the attention it needs, we can not begin to search for the questions we need to ask in order to find our proper path and begin the Journey meant for this lifetime.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Balance-The Physical Pillar

The physical is usually the best place to start as it is the one we are most familiar with, but is also the most neglected. Since the body is the temple of the soul, we need to treat it with respect, providing for it’s needs. Do we provide clean air, nutritious food, sufficient rest and medical attention when needed? Or do we eat too much of the wrong foods, or too little food? Do we pollute the air we breathe with no regard for the damage to the temple? Do we allow ourselves sufficient sleep, knowing that it is during sleep that the body can work at healing and renewing itself, or do we burn the candle at both ends, assuming that we can deprive the body of it’s needs and catch up at some future time? Do we seek medical attention when illness occurs or protect the body from those things that can make it ill?

Much of the problem we encounter with balancing the physical pillar centers around food, and why we eat the way we do. Many of us use food as an instant gratification of a poorly understood urge for comfort, for pleasure, to fill up an empty spot. As children we are given sweets to comfort a bump or a bruise, a tearful face or to distract us from something else we want. In time, we learn to reach for food as an instant cure-all for any unhappiness we experience. It is even called comfort food. Usually high fat or high sugar or both, our comfort food is not eaten for sustenance, but for consciousness altering.

The result of all this eating is a body that is over-weight, over fed and undernourished. We develop medical problems, causing us to feel bad, then we reach for another chocolate bar, another donut, for the quick fix, the sugar high that makes us feel better for a short time. The larger we get, the sicker we become., the more we eat.

To break the pattern, we need to understand what we are doing and why. We also need to teach ourselves what is healthy food, what we need to replenish our bodies and what to do to comfort ourselves instead of reaching for that comfort food.

Once we have examined the physical pillar and seen what improvements are required, we can begin to become more healthy. Keeping a journal can be very helpful while working at bringing our lives into harmony. We can record the areas we need to work on, the work we are doing and the results. Since instant results are seldom seen, the journal can help us to see results over a period of time. We must set goals that are reasonably achievable within a time frame that makes sense. We would not start taking vitamins today and expect to get a major improvement tomorrow!!! If we record each day what we are doing to achieve the goals we have set, the journal will become a useful tool to not only record our progress, but help to keep us focused as well.

When doing this we need to keep in mind that we are not perfect, only the soul within is perfect. Knowing this, we need to be gentle with ourselves when we slip, and we will slip, more frequently at first, less so as we become accustomed to our new way of living. We should treat ourselves like we would a child, calmly and gently bringing our attention back to the task at hand. Even if we take three steps forward and two back, we are still making progress.


Many people search for balance in their lives without knowing where to even begin. It has been my experience that the platform of our lives is balanced on four pillars, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Because life itself is not static, we can not simply bring all into balance and forget about it.. We must constantly adjust the pillars, achieving balance for fleeting moments only. The more effort we put into bring our lives into harmony, the more frequent and longer will be the periods of being in balance. In order to know where to start, we need to look at our lives, examine each of the four pillars to see which is the most out of balance.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Enlightenment and the Path

Many people feel that when they find their right and proper path all will smooth out in front of them. They will be rich, famous and loved by all. They expect to be instantly enlightened with no work on their part.

This is not necessarily true. The things of this world, fame and riches have no real bearing on whether we are on our spiritual path. Enlightenment comes in stages as we work for it. We must learn what is required of us. We must balance the pillars of our lives. Only when we have succeeded in balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual can we claim to be a truly enlightened being,

This is the work of many lifetimes and few if any of us will achieve perfection in this lifetime. The joy must be in the journey and not only in reaching the objective or we will give up long before reaching even the first plateau.

I have spent a lifetime seeking and have achieved some success in that I am much more in control of myself, much more aware of life in general and much more in tune with my journey than I was in my youth and young adulthood. I have learned to trust the process. If I do my very best to learn and to grow, to always help when asked and try to make this world a tiny bit better for my having been here, the things of this world will look after themselves. That does not mean that life will be easy, only that I spend a lot less time worrying about it and more time learning and growing.

We seldom know why the events in our lives happen, but if we accept that there is an intelligence greater than our own earthly minds at the helm, then we must accept that there is a purpose. Each birth is chosen for the opportunities it will offer for growth, for learning and for practicing what we have learned.

Meditation brings us closer to understanding ourselves and our journey.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Later at Night

Late at night, when all is still,
My spirit walks the hallways of my mind,
Seeking solace, peace, and the will
To stay yet another day.

All I find is pain and heartache.
Then, away down the hall,
A glimmer of hope to ease the ache,
And face yet another day.

I squint and peer with all my might
Clearer with each step, I see
Glowing and growing in that little light
Courage to face the brand new day.

Clearer and clearer in that light, I see
In the swirling warmth and glow,
The love and faith surrounding me
More than enough for this new day.

Self Blame-Self Forgiveness

When something we invest in fails, we tend to internalize the failure, making it our fault and then spend time (sometimes years) punishing ourselves for it. Often we go against our true nature, our deep seated values, to try to make those relationships work. That doubles the guilt and sometimes even shame that we feel for the betrayal of ourselves as well as taking responsibility for the failures.

First, it is necessary to understand these feelings...look them right in the eye...then forgive ourselves for what we saw as failure. Life presents us with lessons, there is no success or failure as such. There is only learning and growing. Each step we make brings us closer to the goal.

There has been a great deal written about learning to forgive and to love our selves. We can not truly love another until we can love ourselves unconditionally. The negative feelings are coming from the ego. I believe that psychology refers to it as the inner child. We have to nurture that ego, that child, in order to bring it into balance with the whole. This is the emotional pillar that needs to be brought back into balance. The ego must learn that it is not the owner of the temple, therefore it is also not responsible for everything that goes wrong.

I'm not sure if we are born with this tendency to blame ourselves for everything or if it is something our parents and society teaches us when we are very young. I have seen this in operation over and over again. The child believes he caused the parents to break up and must bring them back together to rid itself of the blame. My older daughter passed on from encephalitis when she was five and my younger daughter was just three. It was not until she was grown that I found out she had always thought that she had caused her sister's demise. They had been playing in their bedroom a week or so before, and my older daughter fell and cut her lip against the corner of the dresser. That is what my younger daughter though had been the cause. That kind of self blame is so insidious because we grow up with it and are generally unaware that we are even doing it. By the time we are adults, we search for blame for everything that goes wrong. Sometimes we blame others and sometimes we blame ourselves...or both. As hard as it is, I believe it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ones self.

Self blame feeds depression and vice versa...a real catch 22. We need to break the cycle, to accept ourselves and own our actions and to see ourselves as worthy of love. A tall order, but it can be done. Sometimes it helps to sit down with a notebook and pen and try to identify why you are feeling bad about yourself, then look behind those reasons to see the root of the problem. Identifying the problem is at least 50% of the cure. With some idea of the dynamic it is possible to tailor a meditation to work with it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Forgiveness is very hard to do, it is right up there with I'm sorry. In fact I think it may be harder to forgive than to apologize, but it can be done. It has to be learned if we do not want to go through life with a heart full of bitterness and anger. It does not mean that we forget totally. The open wound does heal and become a scar. The scar is always there but it no longer hurts. Many things wound us over the years, and we must learn to let those wounds heal, for our own benefit if not for others.

Again, meditation can be of great benefit when we are clearing out the old pains and angers. In order to be healthy, we have to be aware of our emotions and work through the negative ones, replacing them with understanding and forgiveness.

Below is an article that I saved some time ago which I believe is useful..

Why Should I Forgive?

Think of forgiveness as a gift that you give to yourself. It is not something you do for the person who hurt you. It is a gift to yourself because it enables you to stop feeling painful feelings and pushing others away. Forgiveness frees you from anger and allows you to restore your ability to have close and satisfying relationships with others.

Anger is a poisonous emotion that comes from being hurt. When you are consumed with anger and bitterness, it hurts you at least as much as it hurts the person who has harmed you. It is as if you are filled with poison. If these feelings are not resolved, they can begin to eat you up inside. You have two choices: to stay connected to the person who hurt you by keeping these poisonous feelings alive, or to let the feelings go and forgive the person who harmed you. When you withhold forgiveness, think about who is actually being hurt. It is more than likely that the person who is filled with anger and anxiety is you, not the other person.

What Forgiveness Is Not

Forgiving another does not mean you will never again feel the pain or remember the thing that hurt you. The hurtful experience will be in your memory forever. By forgiving, you are not pretending the hurtful behavior never happened. It did happen. The important thing is to learn from it while letting go of the painful feelings.

Forgiveness is not about right or wrong. It doesn’t mean that the person’s behavior was okay. You are not excusing their behavior or giving permission for the behavior to be repeated or continued.

When you forgive another, it does not mean you wish to continue your relationship with them. This is a separate decision. You can forgive a person and live your life apart from them.

Forgiveness can only take place because we have the ability to make choices. This ability is a gift that we can use it whenever we wish. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive. No other person can force us to do either.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gaia's Garden

It is over two years since I was able to do anything in my outdoor paradise. Gaia has continued to look after this lovely spot which I cherish for the peace it offers me.
These pictures include the well garden area, my mysterious shrub enhanced area, a Maple moth, a new rose that grew from seed from other roses, a sunset and what the astilibe does after nightfall.

The Journey

When we choose to grow, at first we may not know the reason for doing something, it is just an impulse. As we begin to follow our path, the view ahead becomes clearer and clearer. We also begin to find tools along our way that will help us continue our journey. One of those tools is meditation, which can benefit us in both the secular and spiritual realms.

I often refer to the path as leading up the mountain because there are so many parallels that can be drawn. Initially we are blinded by the trees on the lower slopes, in fact we often "can not see the forest for the trees", as they say. If we have the courage to shrug off the baggage we carry, and begin our ascent, we come to where the trees are thinner and we can see much farther along our path. The first thing we notice is that there are many paths. as far as we can see in any direction, and we accept that there are other paths that we can not see. Suddenly someone comes into sight on a nearby path....if we accept that there are many paths up the mountain and all lead to the same thing, the summit, we will have achieved tolerance. We will also be rewarded with the companionship of the other person until your paths diverge or one of you disappears in the distance.

As we continue to climb, the view becomes clearer and clearer except for boulders, cliffs, valleys, all the formations one expects to see on a mountainside. It is necessary to carry a light to illuminate the path at our feet so that we do not stumble or take a wrong turn, and both give and receive help to others struggling up the mountain as well. The mirror we carry helps us to reflect the truths we all carry within. The summit is wreathed in mist and mystery, so we carry on with faith and the sure knowledge within our soul that this is our path, and we must travel it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Keeping a Journal

There are a lot of benefits associated with keeping a journal –– mental, emotional, and even physical. Many of us now keep blogs, which are actually a form of journal, which we choose to share with others, or not.
Studies have found that, when people write about their deepest thoughts and feelings in a journal, it helps to reduce stress, moderate depressive symptoms, and even enhance the immune system functioning. And this is besides the mental and emotional benefits of writing about your feelings and any problems, crises, or the joys that occur in your life.
When you keep a journal, you have the chance to sort out your thoughts and feelings about conditions, issues, and people in your life. Writing helps to clarify your ideas and get your problem-solving juices flowing. And when you look back on your journals, you can more easily see any patterns that you may have fallen into, or keep track of your progress in your goals. And most of all, you get to know the "real" you.

With learning to meditate, keeping a journal can help to keep track of progress as well as experiments that may not have worked. It can be used to jot down experiences or questions that you may wish to share in the group or make note of changes you may make in your ritual.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prayer and Petition

Someone asked me what the difference between prayer and petitioning in meditation is. I don’t believe there is a fundamental difference. In both, we seek to commune with the Cosmic All, regardless of what we picture it to be. The technique is the same as is the tendency not to let go of a prayer or petition once it has been articulated. If one does not let go of one's prayers, it is the same as writing a letter, then not posting it.

In meditation, it is possible to visualize one's self entering an auditorium, with the stage lit, but the audience in darkness. Walk onto the stage and address the audience, explaining your problem and ask for strength and guidance to overcome it. When done, leave the stage, knowing that your petition has been heard and a way will be opened for you to solve your problem.
The only caveat I would warn against is telling the Creator how you want your problem solved. For instance, many people will pray for money in order to ease a particular problem. We have to have faith that the Creator knows what we need and will provide us with a way to solve our problem ourselves. Do not expect a miracle of gigantic proportion, with the Creator stepping in and fixing everything you think is wrong with your life. I pray to the Creator for strength and guidance, and for other people, but it never felt right to try to tell The Creator how to do his job.
I have known people who have attempted to pursue a spiritual path in the mistaken belief that the Creator will provide them with the winning lottery numbers, or some equally far fetched thing. To my knowledge, those who do so have little or no success.

There is an old story I would share here about an elderly woman caught in a flood.

When there was a real and immediate danger, Fire Department vehicles came around to pick up people and take them to a safe place. She would not go with them, telling them that G*d would protect her. Once the water reached about 2 feet, they came in a boat to evacuate her. She still would not go as she said that G*d would keep her safe. As the water got higher she ended up on the roof of her house, grasping the chimney. A helicopter spotted her and a rescuer came down a ladder to help her into the plane and to safety. Once he was standing on the roof, she said she would not go as G*d would keep her safe.

As the water started to lap at her feet, she looked up and shouted "G*d why have you forsaken me. I am a devout believer and have served you faithfully all my life!" And a voice thundered out of the clouds, " I sent you a bus, I sent you a boat, I even sent you a plane and you refused each of my attempts to help you. What more do you want, woman?"

I never wanted to be that woman, so I have tried to keep my senses alert to help that is offered, but only ask for strength and guidance, which is all that any of us can expect.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Beyond Basics-Healing

This healing meditation is one that should be done for 20 minutes twice a day for optimum results. You need a quiet place with dim lighting, a comfortable chair or bed and try not to be interrupted.

I do this after my morning coffee and before going to sleep at night and have done so for many years. It helps me to stay focused and energized, as well as helping my body to heal. If you fall asleep during this exercise, that is OK too as your body will take what it needs when the mind is otherwise occupied. My family doctor says that the doctor's job is to keep the patient amused while the body heals itself. There have been many documented miraculous recoveries.
OK! Now sit or lie in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor or stretched out. Don't cross your legs. Let your hands rest comfortably in your lap or on your chest. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes, noticing how it feels to have the air going in your nose and out your mouth. Picture the air you breathe in full of healing energy and the air you breathe out as spent, used up and full of the negative things in your blood or body. ("In with the good air, out with the bad" :-)

Once you are quieted down, your heart beat and breathing will naturally slow and your mind will quit racing and become much more tranquil. Now is the time to begin the exercise itself. As you breathe in, visualize yourself massaging your feet and directing the healing energy from your breathing to the feet. As your feet relax, gradually move up to your ankles and then your calves and knees, all the time directing the healing energies to the part of the body you are massaging with your mind. If any area feels hot or tingly it simply means it requires extra massage and directed energy. When you get up as far as your lower body, you may find areas that will resonate with the massage and healing energy. These are the Chakras, the energy centers in the body and will be replenished when you massage and direct energy to them. When you reach a damaged area in your massage, it will feel hot or some other sensation different from the normal sensations. Just stay relaxed and spend extra time on those areas that need it. When you get to your chest and up to your neck, go to the tips of your fingers and up your arms to your neck again, then up through the throat, the head, eyes, ears, forehead, crown and as you arrive at the crown, continue to feel the poisons leaving your body with your exhalations and the energy of The Creator entering with each breath in.

When finished, sit or lie quietly for a few minutes before continuing with your day or going to sleep. As I said before don't worry if you fall asleep during this exercise as the body will take what it needs and if it needs healing sleep, you will have one of the best sleeps you have ever had. As you work through the exercise, if your mind wanders, just go gently back to the exercise when you realize it has wandered. There is no need to force your mind, in fact, it is counter-productive to try too hard. It needs to be a gentle exercise, not involving any strain or heroic effort.

Some people find it beneficial to record the exercise and play it back to themselves as they perform the meditation. This can be an excelent way to keep focused without effort.

Smudging and Meditation

Someone has asked me what I thought about smudging before meditating.
Here is my reply.

Although I do not "smudge" before meditation, I am aware of the practice and have participated in rituals with an Oneida friend who used Indian Tobacco for that purpose. She also gave me some seeds and I grew it as well. I believe the ritual of preparation adds to the unworldly state. There is no reason not to use smudging as preparation for meditation as long as the ritual has meaning for the person.

Ritual is tailored to each meditator in that the items and procedures should have meaning to that person. I would not feel at all uncomfortable sharing another's preparation and meditation. I personally use long white tapers set in glass holders because white symbolizes purity to me. I use a stone incense holder and moss rose incense. The holder symbolizes the element earth to me and the rose is so interwoven into my identity that it instantly signals my mind that it is time to meditate. My only suggestion would be to stay away from colors or odors that have a negative or very worldly connotation for the meditator.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Stilling the Restless Mind

In the beginning it is not easy to still the restless mind. As soon as it feels the leash, it often rebels by dragging up every possible thought from the depths of memory to the what ifs of the future. Even after all these years, there are times I can not still my mind and reach deep within. Particularly if I am worrying away at an idea or project, my mind like a bulldog will simply not let go. Those times, I console myself that benefit is being accrued even when I do not think I have earned it. Should I give up and not meditate at those times, the ego would feel it has won and be that much harder to quiet the next time.

If a mantra meditation is not working, perhaps one could try a breathing meditation. When comfortable, simply put all of your awareness at the tip of your nose and pay attention to the sensation of the breath going in and out. When the mind drifts, simply bring it back to the breath entering and leaving the nose. If you are a mouth breather like me, you may need to pay attention to the air moving through the mouth as well.

I believe the trick is not to think in a linear fashion but to not think at all. I discovered that when it comes to the computer, I am a power user. I always have a number of things on the go at the same time, but I do that in life as well. Once having successfully emptied my mind the first time, I was hooked. The level of refreshment was on a par with a good night's sleep. I came back from meditation with a clear and highly functioning mind for the rest of the day.

So maybe the trick is to persevere until success comes the first time. It is easily recognized and leaves one wanting more. As with bio-feedback, the benefits to the mind and body are felt very quickly. Had I never progressed beyond that point, I would have continued meditating for the stress release and physical balance alone.

When I began meditating all those years ago, I had to take it on faith that I would succeed in quieting my mind and achieve that still pool surface that I was aiming for. Since I learned to meditate at first directly from another meditator, he was able to keep me from being discouraged as time after time, I felt I had achieved nothing. He kept reassuring me that even when I felt that I had failed, I had in fact not failed at all. He said I was training my mind, and like with a small child, the training must be both gentle and consistent. Just when I was sure it would never happen, it did!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When you spend time in a garden, weeding and caring for plants, what is your mind doing? When we were able to plant a garden for the first time since I was a child, I leaned something I had never suspected. As a child I saw gardening as a chore that I had to do because my mother told me to. As an adult, sitting between the rows of carrots, weeding, I found my conscious mind saying "carrot, not carrot" as I pulled each weed and admired each little carrot top. Meanwhile, I was in a state of such total relation that I looked forward to the next weeding trip. Beets were a bit more difficult to incorporate into a meditation as the beet seeds sprout two or more little plants and all but the strongest one has to be sacrificed so the one will grow big and strong. Since then I have found other repetitive tasks that perform the same function.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Meditation vs Machines

The Lab with Leo LaPorte recently featured a device that measures your breath rate then helps you to reduce it to 10 respirations per minute or lower, what they called a therapeutic range. I believe they were putting this device forward as an aid to reduce blood pressure and better regulate heart rate. The device attaches to a belt around one’s chest or abdomen, whichever one breathes from, and measures the rate and volume of the respirations before chiming a series of notes. For this, you will pay well in excess of $300. and you can carry it around as you go about your daily business.

For the total of $0.00 one can set aside ten to twenty minutes twice a day to meditate. In meditation, as one relaxes, the breathing naturally slows to less than ten respirations per minute. It has the benefit of stress relief in addition to the positive effect on blood pressure and heart rate. No special formula or ritual is necessary to obtain these results.

It was nice that the show did not promote the device, just reported on it and kept mentioning meditation while doing so.

Symbolism in Meditation Part 2

The dimmed light is to reduce extreme stimuli, which would make it more difficult to still the mind. If the ambient noise can not be blocked, relaxing and uplifting music may be played to shut it out. In fact, such music may well be part of your ritual whether needed or not. If you find it conducive to meditation, there is no reason not to play it quietly in the background. My only suggestion there is that the music should be pure and without voice or words. The mind will latch on to the words and instead of meditating, will sing along with the songs.
There are some visualizations that the mind tends to gravitate to when meditating. You could visualize rising on an escalator into the light and beauty of the universe. Or you could visualize the surface of the mind as the surface of a pond. When a thought bubbles up, it will cause a ripple on the surface, but that is quickly returned to the state of stillness. There are other visualizations that go with other meditations, but in general, whatever visualization represents the blossoming of the higher self is quite appropriate. Personally, I do not consciously visualize with a mantra meditation. I focus all of my attention on the mantra and treat visualizations as bubbles coming to the surface, to be noted and dismissed.
All of this is to say that meditation is a very personal thing, some methods work for some, others for others. As a preliminary to meditation, it might be interesting to obtain a "mood ring" or other item made of the same material. While holding it, attempt to turn it the most beautiful shade of blue that you can imagine. The first thing you will note is that the very act of trying will prevent the stone from changing as you have not relaxed and stilled your mind. You have actually added another stress to a system carrying too much stress already.