As we enter this third week in February with rain rain rain here in Wilmington, NC, my mind is on President's Day holiday on Monday also the celebration of George Washington's birthday. I remember what I learned about ole George in elementary school; something about chopping down a cherry tree, and that he had dentures made of wood. And these days he is a figurehead of "the Patriarchy" which is considered the root of the evils of this world by some. But as I continue to ruminate, up comes curiosity about the naissance of this nation, and the issues that drove a British colony toward independent self-rule. If you are ready to stop reading and scroll right past, I get it....enough with politics already. And really, a query such as this could go into so many sidebars, like the ethics of colonization, and whose land is the USA really built on, or is the Declaration of Independence even valid, as it deliberately excluded certain people from its benefit. But I will stick with a particular stream of thought, and I will keep it short. I promise.
Upon doing some light research into the gist of the Declaration of Independence, I came across this paragraph on the Sparks Notes website:
It took 14 months, military mobilization, persuasive pamphleteering, and the further abuse of colonial rights before all 13 colonies agreed to pursue independence. At issue were political as well as practical concerns. Upper class colonists tended to fear the lower class gaining too much power through revolution. Middle class colonists could not afford to see their businesses continue to decline due to trade restrictions. All colonists resented that the King and Parliament denied them representative government and their civil rights. However, they also doubted whether they would be strong enough to resist the British military.
I am struck by how some these statements seem to describe current day issues; the consolidation of wealth by large corporations and the world's wealthiest people, the merchant class experiencing challenges wrought by mandates created to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, average citizens feeling that their views and issues are not being represented in the governmental decision making process, and finally, civil and human rights abuses of certain groups of people. How can it be that almost 250 years later we as a country and a society continue to struggle with the same issues?!
While I haven't landed on a short answer, (and I did promise to keep it short!)I do glean that perhaps these are the challenges of living as a human on this earth in modern times. There appears to be no immediate solution or quick fix, and even long range plans, the fighting of wars, and the forming of new systems of government, have not ultimately solved the stated challenges. What can I as one person do? A big question, but the answer that arises is the same one that has come in response to other Big Questions that have come before. I can continue to challenge myself to be the change I want to see in the world. To work toward accurate self-appraisal, and to cultivate a willingness to acknowledge when and how I am falling short of a high standard of ethics and behavior needed to accomplish that change. I can determine to move in the direction of being and doing better. And instead of feeling cynical about Presidents Day, which can seem to highlight systemic hypocrisy and shortfall, I can use it as a reminder of the inalienable rights spelled out by the DOI of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for myself and ALL beings.
Week two of February 2021 leads us inevitably toward V-day. Some people look forward to it, others loathe it, but no matter how you feel about it, get ready. I personally use it as just one more opportunity to give little thoughtful gifts to my beloveds, and I am all about giving a gift. Gift giving, I have learned, is one of five "love languages" as described in the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Though I have never read the book, it certainly rings true that we each express love in a way that is particular and natural to us.
Recently I had a bodywork session with a dear friend of mine. During our session, the Spirit moved to tell my friend that it is time to learn to express love in a new way, beyond words. It felt to us as though the Presence of Love itself was moving during our time together, as a Force that was stretching us and in-forming us both to a new way of BEING with those we care about. While the feeling eventually faded, I remember how blissed out and connected I felt during that time. I welcome the idea that I am ready to learn to BE in a way that allows the Force of Love to move through my life. During this last year of wild change, I have thought many times that I want so deeply to be a part of creating a new way of living in this world, that levels us all up to create the new systems where all beings are recognized as valuable and treated with respect and mutuality that reflects this. I have also had the feeling that if it is to be, humanity is going to have to be prepared to BE DIFFERENT. That bodyworks session showed me that it is possible, but I have to live in such a way as to "listen" to Presence, and be sensitive to this new Love language, trusting that I will learn it as I go.
I hope you have an amazing week, and that your Valentine's day is gentle and joyful. I am teaching yoga asana twice this week, please follow the link for my schedule.
Are you a quitter? I've quit many things in my life at different times; alcohol, sugar, eating animals, watching TV, unhealthy relationships... I have grown to believe that when I want or need to do a thing, whether for work, or money, or health, I am disciplined, I will be able to just do it. Ive got the evidence. Right?
Not always. In fact, not so much RIGHT NOW. So, I feel inclined to contemplate exactly what happened to me that shifted the locus of power from "out there" to "in here', how I accessed the belief and experience that I am indeed able to create the results I desire, to shape the landscape of my life into what I want it to be.
There were years of my life when the state of my mind, my inner thoughts, were dark and bleak. I did not like, much less love, myself. And I felt powerless to make changes. I was identified with myself as a creature that was not lucky, or happy, or lovable, and I did not know that I had the ability within to change any of it, to choose to be different. I felt like I just was the way I was, I was born that way, and that was the way things were meant to be for me. I lived in that state for many years, and overall my life and the will to continue on seemed to spiral downward. Truth be told, I barely made it out alive.
Looking back I see that I had to come to the end of that version of myself, small and finite. When I did, I did not just disappear...a new experience of mySelf was born. Slowly, over the course of time, everything has changed. Bit by bit, choice by choice, a new life, a new landscape, defined by different qualities; peace, purpose, happiness, joy, (yes they are different!)faith, humility. These days , when I want to create change, it seems like the power to do so just is.
Here in the third week of January 2021, I am NOT exactly where I want to be, in some ways. I am taking some time to reflect more deeply on what I want, and why, who in the world I think I am. I am looking at what is needed in the world and how I can make moves to be part of a hopeful future. While I feel challenged to keep daily disciplines, I realize it is because I have outgrown a particular version of myself. Where I am going, this old me does not belong. Time for new thoughts, new behaviors, new inner conversations. I realize I am excited to meet the new me.
It's official, my friends. 2020 is in the rearview mirror. As we head into the second full week of 2021, it is clear that the challenges last year brought did not evaporate on January 1. While we humans are primed to take dimensional leaps forward to create new systems that benefit all, we don't all yet agree on the path forward. Wherever we stand politically and personally, there are others that believe in and stand for values that are different than ours. Some may actually seem to oppose ours, creating a force to be encountered and, hopefully, overcome. It's basic physics. Science. We watched it happen in real time this week; opposing forces creating chaos.
But move forward we must. We are, always and eternally. And to paraphrase Einstein, the solution for how to move forward with compassion and power, into a brave new world of equality, will not arise at the same level of consciousness that created the old oppressive systems. To create a more evolved system, we have to evolve. How we do so, consciously and intentionally, is both simple and complex. Simple because we do it one breath, one decision, one action at a time. Complex because the effect of these decisions, day after day, year after year, can and does create an entirely new landscape, the brave new world we desire.
So here we are, week two of 2021, building a new world together. To be more deliberate in what we are building, I encourage cultivating the habits of self-awareness, reflection, and right action, all paths within the sophisticated wellness system that is yoga. While yoga is a lifestyle, the asana practice is one step on the yogic path. I hope you will join me for practice this week
I got an interesting text today. My landlord at my office sent me a message telling me it was time to renew my lease(has it really been a YEAR?) and asking was I going to renew. Well, there had been some chatter around my office about raised rent, so I was not to be fooled into simply answering yes or no to such a seemingly innocuous inquiry! I confidently shot back a text asking what the new terms were. I had a really good rate for the first year at my gorgeous office space, so I was definitely expecting a rise...but imagine my surprise when the figure she sent was a 41% increase! Wow.
I like to think of myself as a conscious individual. Like the little internet meme says, I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I don't eat sugar(hardly ever). I do YOGA, for Christmas sake. I meditate, and not just before going to sleep. I should be prepared for this. I should take it in stride. But this is big money. Every month, not just an occasional extra bit in the collection plate at church. Where will the dolluhz come from, will I ever eat again, will my daughter have to drop out of the college she loves, freakety freak freak out. I was in a tailspin, catapulted into a fearful place where money does not flow, the sun does not rise, a place where I had become...duhduhduhduhhhhhhhh...A VICTIM OF CIRCUMSTANCE!!! As my friend and chiropractor used to say, I got "lifed." Fortunately, the downhill ride was over quickly.
I see Life like a train, always carrying me somewhere. Where it goes depends on me. I choose my destination deliberately by focusing on that which I desire, and carelessly or unconsciously by worrying, which is simply meditation on unwanted things. If I know I want success, joy, peace, and abundance, I use my will to focus my attention on those aspects of creation, I strengthen my power of focus through the practice of meditation and yoga, and by eating well, mostly steering clear of highly processed or sugary food. I check my progress regularly using my human GPS...my emotions. When I am on the right track life feels heavenly. If it feels hellish I have probably been derailed by fear or judgement. Like when my rent went up, I became fearful that I would not be able to afford the new rate, and maybe a little angry at my landlord for laying this stress on me. For a short time I focused on that fear and judgement, and when I did...BAM., "lifed." I got back on track by shifting my focus into high gear toward my ongoing goal of increased abundance. The effort that paid off quickly by leading me back into peace of mind and a more positive attitude that allowed me to appreciate the situation as an opportunity for growth instead of the negative perspective that I was a victim.
Sounds easy, right? Maybe not always. But that is why its called "practice." Even a small effort to focus my attention on what I want made a big difference, quickly. It really works.Try it! Start now. The train of Life is always on the move....make sure you are headed in the direction you want to go! Your journey. Your destination. Your choice.
I have developed a bit of a reputation. Now I know what you are thinking...NOT GOOD. Right?! Back in high school "a rep" meant that a girl was known around town as...well, you get the picture. But in this case it IS a good thing. Very good.
Some time back I started seeing hearts . Heart-shaped clouds, queso drips, radishes, leaves, splashes of coffee on the condiment bar at the coffee shop. Thanks to fancy technology, I have been able to capture these hearts and share them with the whole world! Or at least the part of the world contained in my social networking site. Over time other people began posting pictures of hearts they saw in real life. They began tagging me, and eventually just posting the pix on my page. A regular love fest.
It occurs to me that that's how Love works. Love, as Mercy, flows most powerfully toward those in deepest need. Once it is received, perceived as Grace, (something we did nothing to deserve, a free gift with purchase, a get out of jail free card) it builds within us, transforms us from the inside out. In time we are so be-loved, we overflow. Love moves our world, shapes and molds our environment to draw others to us, and finally pours into their lives through us. An unending chain of love.
What we see around us is a reflection of who we are. With this in mind, start looking. If you find you don't like what you see, never fear. Remember...Love flows most powerfully toward those in deepest need.