My Spiritual Path and The Rolling Stones

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One of my favorite movie scenes is the opening of The Big Chill. Friends gather at a small town church for the funeral service of a  friend who died of a drug overdose. Everyone feels sad, and guilty, that they did not maintain closer contact with the deceased. As the service ends the minister announces a female friend will play one of the deceased’s favorite inspirational songs. The lady sits at the organ and plays the opening melody of the Stone’s song You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and all the friends laugh and smile.

The connection with my spiritual path are the lines, “But if you try sometime, you find, you get what you need.” (Oh, baby!) This has been my experience. I pursue something thinking it is what I want, don’t get it, but get something else that I later decide I need. Most recently this was what happened with Ho’oponopono which I will refer to, to continue the drug theme and for brevity sake, as “H”.

I have been meditating, at different levels of intensity, for many years. While the benefits of meditation were wonderful, I found that, during my day, I would easily slip into mundane-world-thinking. Take, for example, my driving. Decades of driving an hour to and from work had diminished the levels of my patience. When someone cut me off I would say, “Whatcha-do-that-for-you idiot?” Actually, I was not so polite. So while meditating helped me start and end the day in love and harmony, there were, excuse the pun, road bumps along the way. In short, I needed a good dose of “H”.

I have found that using “H” upon awakening in the morning is a wonderful way to start the day. I do my meditation too, and that also provides a great start. But now when I experience frustration, I say, “What the …” and stop to remember that it is a time for a good dose of “H”. So I realize that, while the negative driving skills exist within the other driver’s bad habits, the feeling of negativity resides inside of me. So I take “H” and it gets rid of my frustration right away. I say, “I’m sorry” (for having bad feelings inside), “Please forgive me” (to my inner self), “I love you” (inner self), and “Thank you” (for removing the negativity).

I can tell you from personal experience that “H” is definitely addicting. Perhaps it is because it is so simple to do, so inexpensive. Perhaps it is because I AM forming a habit using it. But, best of all, it is because “H” makes me feel good and helps me eliminate stress from my life. I find myself walking around in a beautiful place, myself, that is free from stress and strain. Do yourself a favor. Use “H” as often as you can. It will change your life in wonderful ways!  “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need.”

 

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Four Dreams, Mana Cards and ChakraDance

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On Monday I promised I’d let you know when I had more info on my Mana card reading. This is it. But I have to start back at March 2nd and the first dream that is tied into the past Monday and Wednesday nights. Sometimes it takes a while to realize how things are interconnected. I’ll be brief.

On March 2nd I had two dreams which I did not previously mention.  In the first dream there was a woman representing my mother; she appeared carrying a baby. The baby was me. I was also there in my adult form. I had a bottle of milk in my hands. She gave me the baby (me) and I fed myself the milk. Second dream: A woman was showing me how to create a picture. She placed a large piece of art paper flat on the table in front of me. I held my right hand palm down, fingertips, heel of my hand and base of my thumb touching the page. I moved my hand to the right and a small picture of a woman appeared. I did it again and the picture got bigger. The picture was more like blue shadings than a sketch. I did it a third time and the woman’s head filled the page. She had dark hair and dark eyes and I felt my heart reach out to her.

On Monday, March 24th I had the (3rd) dream I blogged about in which I was skating. Later in the day I did the Mana card reading looking for an interpretation of the skating dream. The Mana card indicated I should focus on strengthening my ties with Haumea, the Hawaiian version of Mother Earth. In the evening I said a prayer that I would learn how to establish this reconnection.

Wednesday evening, March 26th, my friend Razena held a chakra class that I attended, called ChakraDance. For information, you may send her an email. Her address is razena@razena.net. It’s more than just a class because it included guided meditations on each chakra and a dance that helped us connect with our chakras. I thoroughly enjoyed the class, felt relaxed, danced, and really connected with my crown chakra, the one above the top of my head. At the end we created our own mandala based on our experience.

Wednesday night I had a sound sleep, but it included a (4th) dream where I kept seeing a dark oval. Every time I saw it my heart was flooded with energy and love. Toward the end of the dream I saw a gorgeous brunette with black eyes and I immediately fell in love with her. She reminded me of my wife, Marilyn; but it wasn’t her. At first I believed she was Mother Earth, in a form more beautiful than any I had ever seen. Razena believes the image is my feminine side or anima. I now believe the image is both: my anima and my  connection to Mother Earth. I don’t see her as a simple dream image. She is a real part of me and she is a relationship I will explore. May God continue to bless us and Mother Earth.

 

Meditation: What’s In Your MInd?

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I once worked with a man who thought that people who meditated were ‘going off into la-la land’. Gently, I corrected this misconception, but I don’t think he ever tried it for himself. He is like many Americans who don’t see the value in meditating. It has not yet become an important part of our culture. People usually indicate they don’t have the time, ten to twenty minutes twice a day, to spend on it. Instead they spend most of their day in negative self-talk and fear of what might happen.

Meditation is like a small stone covered in mud. Even if they notice it laying on the ground, people don’t stop to look at it. If they did, they would find out that the mud, our own ignorance, was covering up a beautiful gem and that this gem would give them riches beyond their imaginations.

The true value in meditation is that it trains our mind to stop jumping from one thought to another, like a chattering monkey jumping from tree to tree. Instead, meditation teaches us to focus on the present moment and be aware. Our awareness may focus on what is happening around us, or on the words a friend or lover are saying to us. But the real value is that it teaches us to listen to our self-talk.

After meditating daily for three or four weeks, we start to hear our mind talking. Some of the things it says are, “You’ll never accomplish that”, or “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job”, or “My father always told me I would never amount to anything”. I’m sure you can come up with more negative self-talk from your own experience. These messages are self-defeating. They focus on losing. They prepare us for the worst the can happen. But they do not prepare us for reality. In reality, only 15% of the things we worry about ever come to pass. So we waste 85% of our time focusing on negatives that do not eventuate.

Meditation is the ONLY WAY to change our minds. There is nothing else. It is a choice of our own free will. We can have chattering monkeys jumping from tree to tree, or we can have a calm mind that sees the negative thought and realizes it is based on fear, not reality. To paraphrase a current TV commercial, “What’s in YOUR mind?”

Meditation: Fish versus Pond

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This is a follow-up to the two posts I recently wrote about meditation. Hopefully, meditation will help us make better decisions in our lives. It should help us discard information that is inaccurate or biased. In keeping with this idea, I decided to share something with you about choice of college. It shows how our beliefs can sometimes mislead us and cause us problems. For example, we think the school with the higher scholastic rating is best for our kids. It is, isn’t it?

I am reading David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. In chapter three he talks about attending college and our perception of the advantages of attending the top institutions. I say perceptions, because he found there was also a serious disadvantage. On page 81 he writes, “More than half of all American students who start out in science, technology and math programs (STEM, as they are known) drop out of their major after their first or second year.” He raises the question as to whether they were not smart enough to get the degree they desired or whether there were other reasons. He found a study a couple of sociologists had done in the 1990’s that had stunning numbers. They had compared average SAT scores with the ability to get a degree by breaking the student SAT scores into three groups: high, medium and low. Then they compared the groups to see what percentage of each group got their degree.
Here are two colleges which are rated at different levels of academia: Harvard, and a smaller college in upstate New York, Hartwick. Here are the three groups of Math majors, SAT scores and percent getting a math degree:
SCHOOL        Top Third    SAT     Middle    SAT     Bottom    SAT
HARVARD    53.4%            753       31.2%        674      15.4%       581
HARTWICK  55.0%           569      27.1%        472       17.8%       407
You can see that I used bold numbers for the bottom Harvard group and the top Hartwick group. That’s to show that, even though the lowest Harvard group scored higher than the highest Hartwick group on their SAT scores,  55% of the Hartwick group got math degrees while only 15.4% of the low Harvard group got math degrees. This was in spite of the fact that the low Harvard group exhibited a higher (average) SAT score than the high Hartwick group. At the same time, the percentage of students getting a math degree was similar in each category regardless of which school they attended.
The reason so many students in the middle and low SAT score categories drop out of the math major? They see how much smarter their classmates are, become discouraged, and decide they just aren’t smart enough to get the math degree. Gladwell lists a total of 11 universities on the same table and the success rates are virtually the same for each one.
Conclusion: It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond.  I love stuff like this and Malcolm Gladwell is one of my all-time favorite authors.

Thought Control: Take This Test

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As promised, here is the simple test you can try to see how well you control your thoughts:

First: Sit in an upright position on a couch or chair, feet flat on the floor, hands folded together in your lap. Be sure you try this at a time and in a place where you won’t be interrupted or distracted.

Second: Relax for a moment. Close your eyes. Take three relaxing breaths at your normal breathing rate. All breathing throughout the test should be at your normal rate. Do not force your breathing.

Third: After the three relaxing breaths, start counting your inward breaths and outward breaths. Example: breathe in, ONE; breathe out, TWO; breathe in, THREE … and so on until you get to TEN. If other thoughts distract you and interrupt your counting, START OVER at ONE.

The goal is to get to the tenth count without having other thoughts interrupt your concentration. This looks easier than it sounds. My guess is that less than 5% of the people who try this for the first time will get to ten without starting over, probably many times. Please feel free to comment on how the test went for you and ask questions. I will be glad to answer your questions and I’m curious to see how many people try it and how many succeed the first time.

For those of you who want to try meditation, this test can be used as a meditation technique. The counting will help you track your progress and give you a method of seeing how well you are doing. But don’t look on this as a contest of some sort. Depending on a person’s state of mind, even an experienced meditator might have trouble getting to TEN even once during a 20 minute meditation, on a given day. When you do get to TEN, congratulate yourself and start over again. Keep meditating for ten minutes.

The real importance of meditation, regardless of technique, is that, no matter how many times you have to start over, you simply begin again. You should not get frustrated with yourself. You should simply think, ‘ Oh, I got distracted. I’m not counting. OK. I’ll start again.’ The process is more important than the score. The process, realizing you are not counting, is the only important part. It is when you once again become aware of what your mind is doing and you gently and lovingly return its focus to counting your breaths. One meditation teacher said it was like learning to bake bread. You do it over and over again until you know how to do it so well that it becomes second nature.

I sincerely hope you enjoy this experiment. Let me know how it goes!

My Spiritual Path: Realizing My True Self

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I started meditating in the 1980’s, continued periodically into the 1990’s and in 1997 started a daily practice that lasted until 2005. At first I meditated for twenty minutes, twice daily. From the summer of 2000 until mid-2005, I increased my meditation time to one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening seven days a week, 365 days a year. During that time I rarely missed a meditation session.

Before I started meditating, I thought it was like going off to la-la land on a mental vacation. Once I started, I found that meditation was a difficult, highly helpful way to train my mind to be present in the here and now. So why did I stop? That’s hard to say; I think I was looking for something that was more ‘active’ as a spiritual path. Perhaps one hour twice a day was too much and I got burned out.

I have since begun meditation again because I realized I missed the benefits of twice-a-day, 20 minute meditations. Once I got back into it I found I was calmer, more focused on what I was doing, and less worried . The worry part is important. I’ve read that 85% of what we worry about never happens. Worrying is a waste of time and, more importantly, emotions. I am more productive when I meditate than when I don’t. I’m amazed at the difference. Once I had been meditating again regularly for a month or two, I began to pay attention to my thoughts and not let them run away with my emotions. Why is this important? Because worry is a big distraction. It keeps me from focusing on my main goal in life; realizing my True Self.

There are only two things that exist: God and God’s creation, which is a reflection of God. I believe that our destiny as humans is to realize the divine which exists within us. We are here to learn to become more like God. The better we learn, the closer we move to a reunion with God. That reunion is our ultimate destiny. Meditation is the best method I have found to help me set aside the mundane concerns of my ego and help me focus on realizing not only what my personal destiny is, but also how to get there. Meditation is a method of seeing and following the road map to my True Self.

Next blog: How well can you control your thoughts and worries? Try this quick, simple test!

Going With The Flow

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I know. I missed two blog dates in a row. It bothers me. I’m worry about what my readers will think. I shouldn’t. So, inspiration being scarce, I did a tarot reading for myself this morning looking for a blog subject. As usual, the cards hit the nail on the head. They told me I am at a point of change in my life and that expecting constant inspiration at such a time is somewhat self-indulgent. Change doesn’t happen over night and sometimes occurs so slowly we need days, weeks or months to figure out that it has happened.

Right now it’s leaving me with a feeling that I have lost my focus (Aw, poor baby!). However I am becoming aware of a new thought in the distant recesses of my brain. It looks like I am supposed to get into a teaching mode. No, this is not a prelude to a marketing announcement about spirit walking classes I will teach in order to get rich. (As you can see, there is a lot of self scrutiny going on here too.) It may be that I will get into teaching the craft of writing. What better way to sharpen my own writing skills than to teach them?

Prior to last May, I was intending to start a blog for Baby Boomers that taught the basics of writing; something that would encourage others to do what I have done. Share the fun of writing with my peers. Then in May I had two dreams and an omen which convinced me to start this blog. It was as though the spirit world intervened and said, “Hey, forget that, teach this!” So that’s what I did. I’m not thinking of ending this blog; perhaps I’ll just start another. I enjoy this as an outlet for my experiences. (Self indulgent?) The dreams and the omen were pretty direct. I’ll share them with you next time.

Next Blog: Two Dreams and an Omen

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