A Clear Blue Soul

Seeing beneath the surface of reality sounds like such a romantic concept.  The idea of seeing things as they really are; of experiencing the truth; of getting to the heart of the matter; all of it sounds so incredibly exotic and spiritual.  The reality of seeing what is really there instead of what you want or expected to be there is something else entirely.

The reality involves stripping away any illusions that you may have had; any preconceived notions as to what reality is supposed to be like.  This can be hard enough when dealing with circumstances and beliefs.  Beliefs alone can change your entire way of thinking, especially when something you have always believed to be true is proven otherwise.  When it comes to people however, seeing to the heart of things takes on an entirely different perspective, primarily because you are dealing with souls; that fundamental core of each of us that is the essence of who and what we really are.

Seeing beneath the surface of a person’s exterior to that clear blue soul that lies beneath; that can be an incredibly profound and disturbing thing. To see them for the first time as who and what they truly are instead of how you want to see them or how they project themselves; to see them in all of their perfection instead of with all of the human faults failures that you (or they) have attributed or ascribed to themselves or adopted as part of their worldview; it is definitely an experience that you will not soon forget.  In fact, it will definitely rock your world.

In a heartbeat every preconceived notion you had of whom and what this person is; what they are like; what they have done to you disappears.  In its place you find the clean, clear essence and purity that is at the heart of each of us.

So why is this so disturbing?  Why is it that when we catch a glimpse of the true nature of things and of people that it shocks us so profoundly?

Well, one of the primary reasons that most people find themselves so disturbed by seeing beneath the skin of reality is that it reminds them that nothing they see is actually real, that it is all an illusion.

If you will, it’s like what happens when you are watching a movie and suddenly the DVD freezes up.  In a heartbeat the moving images that you were so engrossed in a moment before turn into a blizzard of unrelated pixels and suddenly you are forcibly reminded that what you are seeing is just a recording.

We’ve built our world; our entire reality on a foundation of illusions.  From the illusion of the solidity of physical objects (electrons moving so fast and furiously that they give an object of being solid and dense when it really consists of more empty space than physical matter) to the illusion of separateness when it comes to consciousness, we’re working with illusions.

In order to experience physical existence; in order to interact with people and things around us, we have to act as if the illusion is real.  This is just one of the reasons that it is so disturbing when we see through the illusion, when, for a heartbeat, we see things as they really are and we are forcibly reminded of the fact that there is more to reality than the web of illusions we have created for ourselves.

But if we can get past that fear; if we can step beyond our need to view our reality from one preconceived notion of how things are supposed to be; into the heart of that clear blue soul, you will find yourself looking into the true nature of reality; into the heart of god.

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The Hive Has You!

Forget the Matrix.  It is the Hive that has you!

Ah, the idealization of bees. What a simple life they live; born with a purpose etched into their very fabric of being, a bee never questions its lot in life (well, not unless it’s a Disney bee, but that’s a whole different breed).  It simple does what it does, devoting its life to the hive and never questioning what it is that it was meant to do.

But when it comes right down to it, it is hard to be a bee. For one it’s a short life.  The lifespan of the average honey bee is only 28-35 days.  That’s it.  That is the lifespan of a worker honey bee. From the time the adult bee emerges from its larval cocoon a bee has roughly a month to live, and what does it do with its life?  It collects nectar which is turned into honey or pollen which is then turned into bee pollen or royal jelly.  The honey is collected to see the hive through the winter; the bee pollen and royal jelly is to feed the young bees that will soon be taking over the jobs of the current crop of workers.

From an individual perspective the bee doesn’t do much with its life at all. But from the hive’s perspective, the life of each individual bee is incredibly important with each bee’s role as a worker vitally important to maintain the life of the hive, and there is nothing that is seemingly more of an anathema to today’s humans than the thought that they might be living the life of a bee; working for the greater good of some larger group purpose and without the benefit of developing an individual identity or having a life to show for all of the hard work that they do.

There have been science fiction movies made about hive mentalities; horror stories where a person is absorbed into a larger consciousness and looses their independence and individuality, becoming a mindless automaton with no thought in their head except to conform to the expectations of their society.

There is just one problem.  We are already there, and most people don’t see it as a horror story at all.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, we have the illusion of freedom and independence and individuality; lots of choices of things to buy and entertainments to pursue and even of religions to follow; but just try doing something outside of the accepted parameters and see just how far you get before you are removed from the hive, or at least banished to the fringes where you don’t have the opportunity to take part in the active life of the community.

But even the thought of a society that has relegated us all to the status of worker bees; locked into our lives and expected to work tirelessly as productive members of society until we drop and are replaced with others; even that is not the true horror. The true horror is that we’ve chosen this. No, we haven’t just chosen it.  We’ve created it.  We wanted it.

We wanted it so badly that we willingly established rules and regulations and political procedures to keep it in place; we’ve created an education system that encourages young people to give up their individuality and creativity in exchange for economically productive jobs that they detest but that will pay the bills.  We’ve encouraged a society where productivity and usefulness is measured by one’s paycheck and one’s purchasing power.

It would be different if, instead of a hive mentality, we had chosen instead to establish a system of community; a society where each individual is accepted and valued for their uniqueness and their contribution to the richness and diversity of the whole.  In that sort of a society working for the good of the whole is not something to be feared; it is not something that will strip you of your energy and your individuality and leave you lying all alone in the mud when your economic usefulness to the society is at an end.  Instead it will encourage and promote individuality and creativity as the building blocks of a truly productive society; one that values all of its members for what they bring to the table, regardless of how large or small of a role they play.

Then again, just because we’ve lived in the hive does not mean that we have to die there.  Maybe it’s time for the bees to leave the square boxes of hives and designated Queens that have been provided for them by societal expectations and to establish the kind of thriving bee community that would make Disney proud.

Bringing Your Reality Into Focus

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” ~ Lewis Carroll

If you don’t know what it is that you want, then how can you expect to ever get it?

Think about it; how many times have you felt that your life is not living up to your expectations; like there is something missing; something that you should be doing or that you should have and you can’t quite seem to put your finger on what, exactly, it is? How many times have you gotten the distinct impression that you are ‘settling’ for a life that contains less that you are capable of containing?

Like everyone else, I’d had this feeling myself; this vague, unfocused impression of a larger life; a template of my life if you will that existed just under the surface of reality; the life that I was always meant to live and that I could be living if only I knew how to bring it into my reality.

I’d daydreamed about the kind of life I wanted to have; the people and things that I wanted to be in it; but it always seemed like no more than a dream; wishful thinking all vague and unfocused; unfocused that is until the day that suddenly it all made sense.  In a blink I understood what it was that I’d been missing.

I still remember the moment vividly;   I was sitting at a coffee shop, across the table from a woman that I had just met. A complete stranger until fifteen minutes earlier, she’d been pouring her problems out to me for the last quarter of an hour and I’d been listening; curious as to usual about what it is that seems to inspire people to just start laying their problems out for me, when something she said snapped my consciousness into focus;

“I keep waiting for something to interesting to happen to me but nothing ever does,” she said, sounding rather forlorn.  “I keep getting the impression that I’ve, you know, just settled for something less than I should have.  That there really should be more to my life – I just don’t know what, and if only I could figure out what it is, then everything would fall into place.”  She sighed and took a sip of her coffee and went on to talk about other things, none of which I remember because my mind was busy being astounded.

Heaven only knows that it wasn’t the first time I’d heard someone say this.  In fact, I’d thought this myself on more than one occasion, but for some reason when that woman said it that morning in that coffee shop with the sun falling across our table at that exact angle, everything snapped into place with a crystalline clarity that took my breath away.

Having a vague idea of what I wanted was not enough you see.  Simply knowing that there was something bigger that I was supposed to be doing with my life wasn’t enough to bring that purpose to the surface.  Simply wanting my life to be better was not enough to make it so.

It was like I’d been spending my life creating an impressionist painting; a series of lines and dots and splotches of color; people and places and situations and experiences all randomly splashed onto my canvass; adhering only to the vaguest of outlines and without any but the vaguest impression of what it was that I was painting.

I’d been missing focus.

In those few minutes; the handful of minutes between the words spoken by this virtual stranger and the time she and her extra large mocha latte walked out of the shop to go on about her life, everything I’d ever read about visualization; about manifestation; about creating your own reality all of it finally made sense.  In order to live the life you were always meant to live there is one thing that you have to do; bring that life into the forefront of your awareness and bring all of your focus to bear on it.

Of course this is easier said than done; you have to be able to determine what, exactly, constitutes the kind of life that you want to be living and then be able to hold it in the forefront of your awareness, but once you have gotten to the point where you can keep your focus on what it is that you want to manifest in your life, you’ll be amazed at how quickly things will start falling into place for you and just how quickly the life you were meant to live becomes a reality.  There is just one important thing to remember – don’t focus on what it is that is missing and treat it as if it is missing.  Focus on it as if you already have it in your life; give thanks for it.  Tell yourself how glad you are that you have this particular thing in your life, then watch as it becomes a living breathing part of your reality.

Curious as to some ways to bring your own dreams into focus in your reality?  Try some of the following ideas, you just might be surprised at how well they work:

 

 

 

 

                       

 

 

 

X Marks the Spot

YOU ARE HERE.

How many times have we seen those words – usually on maps – and almost always accompanied by a large red X (with or without an arrow pointing to it) so that you know that THIS X, not some other random X, is the one you need to be paying attention to?

But be honest here, how much attention do you actually ever pay to the X?

I know exactly what happens because I’ve done it myself.

You pull into the rest area and run up to the map. “Okay, we’re here” you say, pointing to the X “and this is where we need to go,” you add, pointing to a place that is where the X is not. “So if we turn left…” and off you go, determined to get to your location to “do” whatever it is that you’re supposed to be doing or to get to where it is that you think you should be going.

The poor X never stands a chance.

But do you want to hear the really sad thing? Once you get to your destination, most people don’t pay any attention to it either – even though it’s a completely different X! Once they get to where it is they think they should be going, they are so busy doing what they think they should be doing; or planning out another leg of the journey, that they never stop to look around them and see just where it is that they ARE.

I still remember the first time I actually paid attention to the X.

We’d stopped at a roadside rest area (the kind with the lean-to of snack and soda machines and the big area map standing alone with its own small roof and helpful spotlights so that you can’t miss it – and a BIG RED X – with an arrow pointing to it.

In bold black words written beside it, this one said: YOU ARE HERE

and underneath, scribbled in messy black marker was one additional word: WHY?

It made me chuckle, but it also made me think.

You ARE here. Now. For good or bad, for better or worse. THIS is where you are at this present moment in time. I don’t care if the place where you currently are is a good place and everything seems to be going swimmingly, or a bad place where one more day is going to send you over the edge, or a place that is non-descript and really rather boring. The point is, YOU ARE HERE, and I bet you haven’t even taken the time to really look around you and appreciate the view much less to see if there is anything interesting going on.

Why?

Perhaps it IS just a stopping point, a rest area; a red X on the map of your soul journey, but it is still a part of your journey, and if you’re going make the trip, you might as well enjoy the scenery, because who knows, maybe there IS no destination.
For all we know, experiencing each moment of now; each moment in which we find ourselves; may be all the purpose there is.

If so, we’re messing it up big time.

So the next time you find yourself looking at that big map comparing how far you’ve come and how far there is yet to go, take a moment to stop and look around you. Are there other people at your rest area? What are they doing? How’s the view? Is that maharachi music coming from the other side of the kiosk?
Yes, I know, you don’t want to linger too long. After all, you have a journey to undertake and you want to get there as soon as possible, but take a few moments to appreciate where you are; the HERE that you are currently standing at, and the churros at that little stand on the other side of the map.

So….are we there yet?

The Perception of Pain

“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” ~Pema Chodron

 

How many hours have you spent living in pain?  Oh, I’m not talking about physical conditions here; broken bones and painful illnesses and things that can be relieved by popping a few pills or taking a hot bath.  No, the pain I’m talking about is the pain that twists your heart into a knot; the kind that pierces you insides; the kind of pain comes from reliving painful memories and circumstances over and over again; playing them out on the movie screen of your mind in all of their gory detail.

Perhaps they are old memories; things that happened long ago and far away; things that impacted your childhood or things that you have simply not been able to let go of.  Or maybe the painful event happened just this morning; someone saying something unintentionally hurtful as they walked out the door, and you can’t keep your mind from going over and over what was said.

But not only does the scene replay over and over again in your mind, you then find yourself going over all of the possible interpretations and connotations of what was said.  Why did they say that?  Was it something you said or did that prompted them to react that way?  Could you have done something to prevent it?   What did they mean by it?

Before you know it, minutes, sometimes hours have passed and you have absolutely nothing to show for all of your worry but a headache and a tear stained face.  You haven’t had breakfast.  You can’t focus on your work, you’ve called or texted half a dozen different people asking for their input on the situation; their interpretation of what happened, and when they can’t give you a satisfactory answer you find yourself snapping at everyone around you, and all because you can’t let go.

Ah, that wasn’t what you expected me to say, is it?  I’m sorry; did you think I was going to say that the pain you have been experiencing is all because of the event that happened so long ago; all because of the hurtful things that the person said as they were leaving?  Did you think I was going to tell you what a brave soul you are for having to relive that horrible time; to re-experience those negatively associated comments and those situations that scared you for life?  Well, I’m not, because it’s not true.

You are not feeling bad because of what the person said – or because of whatever it is that happened to you in the past.  You are not a brave soul for being able to relive your memories stoically (or even tearfully).  What you are is being selfish, and your selfishness is hurting you.

Does that sound rather harsh?  Perhaps it does.  But that does not make it any less true.

As humans, we cling to our pain – it’s what we do, and there certainly seems to be enough of it around.  We pin our hopes and expectations onto people and circumstances; onto events and outcomes, and when they fail to live up to our expectations, we feel hurt and rejected. We experience pain.

But we can’t simply let it go at that.  We can’t simply feel the pain and then move on.  Oh no, we have to cling to our pain.  It wasn’t simply enough to experience it.  We have to own it.  We have to keep it close, locked away in a pretty carved box; one that we can take out and rummage through whenever we feel the urge to trust again; whenever we feel the urge to live.

We cling to the memories of those things that hurt us because we have an instinctive urge to avoid pain; because we don’t want to be hurt that way ever again, and reliving that painful event or circumstance; playing that memory over and over again in our minds is our way of protecting ourselves against its ever repeating.  The thing is, in making ourselves repeat these memories over and over again, we are hurting ourselves far worse than the event ever could – or did.  Instead of experiencing the pain once; learning from it and moving on, we force ourselves to experience it time and time again.

It is far better to let go of all of the old hurts and painful memories. Will this leave you open to being hurt again?  Of course it will.  But if you want to really live and not hide yourself away, it is a chance you are going to have to take.

Try it.

When you find yourself recalling a painful experience, instead of letting it play out in your head, stop it in its tracks.  Lift it out of your mind complete and whole as you would a flower that you have picked and hold it in front of you; over a pond or river in your imagination.  Acknowledge the pain that the memory caused, and then let it go. Drop it into the water.  It is gone.  The fear and the pain that were attached to it are gone too.

Will this leave you vulnerable to be hurt again?  Yes it will.  But it will also give you a freedom and lightness of being that will make your spirit soar seeing as that it is no longer weighted down with the fears and expectations that you had given to it for safekeeping.

Besides, if you remember that the pain of experience comes not from the experience itself but rather from what we tell ourselves about the experience then you will find the way that you view your experiences changing radically, all it takes is a shift in perception, and the ability to let go.

 

 

 

 

The Power of Responsibility

Learning to take responsibility for yourself; for the life that you have created; for the decisions that you make is one of the most important things that you can do.  But where is this kind of responsibility learned?  For most people, responsibility is learned from their parents.

There is nothing, nothing like holding your child in your arms for the first time; looking down at her face; the perfect features; tiny fingers and toes.  The knowledge that you have created life is so awe inspiring that it takes your breath away and sends you into a world of awe and wonder from which you don’t emerge until you bring her home from the hospital and suddenly realize that not only have you created life, but now you’re responsible for it.  And you are not just responsible for today, or for this week, but for the next 18 years. It is then you realize that your life is never going to be the same again.

I still remember the day that my husband and I brought our brand new baby girl back from the hospital.  I took her out of the carrier and handed her to my husband while I unpacked my overnight bag.  When I came out he was still standing where I’d left him.  He looked at me and, in a stunned voice said “now what?”  It only took a moment before we were both laughing rather hysterically.

Now what indeed!

Now we become parents.

And becoming a parent is not a temporary role.  It’s not something that stops when your child turns 18 or goes to college, finally gets their own apartment, gets married or even has children of their own. Being a parent is something that will follow you for the rest of your life.

But it’s the concept of responsibility that comes with the title of “parent” that hits you right between the eyes, and it’s each parent’s interpretation of responsibility where things really get interesting.

For some the responsibility of being a parent becomes a power struggle; an attempt to control their child in order to ensure that they fit into a particular mold; that they become the kind of person that the parent believes that they should.  For others, the responsibility of becoming a parent means helping the child to become their own person; to take responsibility for themselves and to give them the tools to craft a life for themselves out of the raw materials of childhood. In short, it is your parents’ definition of responsibility that determines your own take on the subject.

Those whose parents were open with them; who allowed for the child’s own interests, skills and abilities to be valued; those whose parents encouraged them to take increasing amounts of responsibility for their own lives as they matured will find the idea of taking responsibility for creating their reality as a logical outgrowth of this process.

For those whose parents were controlling and domineering – even if it was with the best of intentions and the desire to protect the child from those things that might harm them – the idea of taking responsibility for your own life; of listening to your own heart when it comes to the decisions that you make can be a foreign one indeed.  They have become so conditioned to doing what they were instructed to do by their families; by their schools and governments and societies that the idea of taking responsibility for their own lives is about as familiar as the Arabic language, and inspires the same sort of fear-based avoidance.

Of course this does not mean that there is no hope for those whose parents brought them up to conform to the standards that they, their society or religion or government imposed on them.  It simply means that there are more layers to be peeled away before you can get down to the task of re-inventing yourself as the kind of person that you were meant to be.

Peeling away these layers can be a painful and time consuming process, and whether you choose to work through them yourself by reading self-help books, taking up meditation or chronologically journaling your life (and all of the bitterness and resentments that tend to surface during the process) or whether you choose to seek outside assistance in the form of a psychiatrist or spiritual counselor, it is well worth the effort and can lead to the kind of life that you have always wished for yourself.

It can also completely revolutionize the way that you view parenting and the importance of everything that you say and do to influence your child as well as the impact of every decision that you make that affects them.  It doesn’t matter if your child is two or twenty; your own ability to strip away those layers upon layers of conditioning in order to take responsibility for your own life can make a world of difference, not just for you, but for all the generations yet to come.

And that, my friends, is the true power of responsibility.

Soaring Into the Storm

God I love a thunderstorm.

No, let me correct that – I love the build up to a thunderstorm; the roiling black clouds that build up on the horizon, the increasing pressure in the air, the heady scent of ozone and the wind as it starts gusting through my yard making the roses toss their heads; shaking off random petals and the trees to turn their leaves inside out as if they were opening up invisible umbrellas.

I’m in luck then, because ‘tis the season’ in my part of the country; the season when it seems that we have a thunderstorm nearly every day, and that is just fine by me!  In fact, its times like this when I find myself heading out of doors where I can kick off my shoes and feel the answering energy coming up through the ground; an energy that is reflected in the bolts of lightning that light up the underside of those dark clouds on the horizon.

Today I was already out of doors; clipping dead heads off of the wild climbing roses that cover the side of my house when I noticed the light beginning to grow dim and the temperature begin to drop as the wind picked up and began whipping my hair into my face.  As if on cue with the first gust of wind from nearly directly overhead I heard the cry of a hawk and immediately looked up, trying to zero in on its location.

Almost directly overhead; flying just beneath the building storm clouds (just where the storm clouds overlapped with the still clear sky) were a number of hawks – at least half a dozen of them.  They were riding the clashing air currents in the most beautiful balletic movements; not one flapping of a wing, simply soaring; wings outstretched; from current to current; rising in the thermal updrafts before plunging and gliding and catching the next updraft. It literally took my breath away.

I stood there, pruning shears in hand, and found myself crying at the beauty of it; for the absolute freedom of the hawks and their unadulterated joy in riding the currents; crying for those of us who are continually flapping our wings – focused on our goals; determined to get somewhere – sometimes anywhere other than where we are – and in so doing fail to take advantage of the opportunities that we are being presented with right here and now; failing to appreciate beauty and mystery that surround us in every moment no matter where we find ourselves.

So many of us find ourselves confronted with an approaching storm; with imminent change; with situations that fall outside of our comfort zone and so, scared to death, we fight it; flapping our wings wildly against the insistent currents of change and updrafts of opportunity; determined that we are going to get to where we have decided to go instead of allowing the universe to move us in the direction that is best for our spiritual growth and evolution.

If only we would stop fighting; stop flapping; and simply let ourselves soar; riding the currents of change with pure, unadulterated joy; trusting that the storm front is there for a reason and that it will take us to where we need to go.