That Pesky Shadow

Of late I have been reminded that the only way forward is through. The real problem comes when I want to bring some of myself and leave the ‘unwanted’ pieces behind. My daughter wisely says, “Everyone has to come if anyone is to come.” In the same way, all of me must go if any of me is to go.

Today I participated in a collaborative Facebook live with my dear friend and fellow light-worker, Delia Beadle. Delia founded Spirit Bear Rising, a Facebook group dedicated to helping the ‘woke’ community move forward. It was a joy interacting with her regular viewers. I even pulled a few cards, which is always fun. Two of the questions that came up today gave me pause. They were common enough. One had to do with success, the other with being ‘on track’. When Delia read them, I stumbled inwardly, as if a languid stroll had been interrupted by the tip of a rock against my tender big toe. The questions gnawed at my mind long after the live was over.

On a seemingly unrelated note, this evening I rifled my way through a ridiculous number of emails before deciding to read the weekly edition of Winning Writers. At the very end, I found this little gem:

And the priestess spoke again and said: Speak to us of Reason and Passion. And he answered saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion and your appetite. Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows—then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky,—then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.” And since you are a breath in God’s sphere, and a leaf in God’s forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.

Reason and Passion: An excerpt from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Suddenly it clicked. During the live, I explained that to answer the question about job success would require a definition of the word ‘success’. For example, in March I took my last job as an administrative assistant and am counting down the days until it ends (July 31!!). I am not retiring. I decided to quit. It is doubtful that many – if any – would call my decision a success. After all, I make good money doing something I excel at. But quitting a job I hate, with no prospect of income on the horizon might be the greatest definition of success for me right now that I can think of.

Using that example, I asked the querent to take a different tack. Maybe the journey is not about success and failure but growth. Despite my explanation, I still had the nagging feeling that something more was at play. The words ‘on track’ gave me my next clue. What does that phrase even mean? If our life’s journey is the track, how can we possibly get ‘off’ of it?

We are human beings, bound by the limitations of physical time and space. The path we walk is defined by our current individual interpretations of vague, half-remembered past experiences etched into our subconscious minds long before we reached the age of rational thought. The implication in the question is whether or not the chosen path is right. But what do the words ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘on’ or ‘off’ even mean in this context? The path I walk is my path, right, wrong, or indifferent. It is my reality, my truth. I am certainly ‘on’ it, whether I like it or not. And if I am on it, then I have chosen it. Perhaps I am unable to see another path, or perhaps I see all of them, but can only choose the one I am on.

These words: success, failure, right, wrong, on and off have got me thinking again about the deep-seated need we humans have to form dichotomies. I read somewhere recently that our dualistic ideas stem from the notion that our lives have a beginning and an end. In a way, they do, but only as viewed from the physical sense of birth and death. The fact is we are so much more than these earthly shells we currently occupy. (My daughter would add that we are stardust incarnate. 🙂 )

Some of you know the impact that Marisa Peer has had on my life this year. Learning to espouse the phrase “I am enough” has literally begun to transform my life in ways I never could have guessed. Questions about success or being ‘on’ the path bring to light our need to qualify and quantify our lives into something worthwhile – something good, something others will agree was successful. But what if just being here is enough?

How quick we are to judge ourselves, our thoughts and actions, even the paths we choose. We seek comfort in categorizing everything we perceive into a neat little package we call good or bad, right or wrong, on or off, light or darkness. But what if the path is none of those things? What if we are none of them either? What if our path is just that – our path – without qualification or the need for justification? What if everything in our experience – even us as human beings – just is. Beyond simplistic definition. Beyond dualism. Beyond imagination.

Perhaps the greatest challenge we will ever face is the discovery of the truth that we are both light and dark, good and bad, rational and passionate. What would our lives look like if we recognized that all of those seemingly disparate parts have indeed been packaged into one harmonious whole, and that all we are required to do is joyfully walk the path of our amazing, incredible, glorious life experience?

What a wonderful world that would be.

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Lions and Shadows and Bears, Oh, MY!

An amazing friend of mine (I could say my daughter’s friend because that’s how I met her, but thankfully, she’s my friend now too) is working through a series on facing the shadow within. My *birth number is 8, which corresponds to The Strength card in Tarot. Traditionally, Strength relates to exposing the shadow, both within myself and others. The purpose of shadow work is to integrate those parts of us which we think do not belong – you know, the things we are ashamed of, that we try to hide from ourselves and others.

But all of it belongs. All of it is us. Our shadow has a lot to do with who we have become, who we will become. Too often we dismiss our darker side with labels like ‘bad’ or ‘unacceptable’. This attitude is less than helpful when moving forward is the goal.

What we leave in the dark will rear its ugly head in ways we never imagine, and usually cannot control.

Always better to face the beast head-on, and give it the love it needs to feel heard and accepted.

Anywho, she posted a prompt today encouraging her readers to create something as an expression of a frustration they are dealing with. Something related to their shadow.

My frustration is two-fold. First, I feel stuck, like I am spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I know that this is completely untrue, but that is how I feel none-the-less. Second is the shadow part of that equation: my own feelings of inadequacy, blame, and the fear of taking the leap that I believe I need to take in order to get where I want to be. The challenge for me is to learn how to give myself the grace to wait, to be okay with where I am, to understand that this ‘quiet time’ is an important part of the process, and that there really is such a thing as divine timing. As a strong Type-A, I tend to feel like I am ‘less than’ when not actively pursuing something with purpose and gusto. But the Universe is working behind the scenes right now, putting all of the puzzle pieces into place. My task is first to trust that truth, and second, to find joy in the process.

A huge part of self-care for me right now is ending the cycle of self-recrimination. I would have poured some paint but ended up having other things to do today. So tonight I wrote a poem. I hope you enjoy it.

Transformation

Sun, rain, leaves of green,

eat, stretch, grow.

Cloud, wind, heavy branch,

weave, stretch, grow.

Dark, dissolving, thick cocoon,

sleep, stretch, grow.

Awake, renewed, azure sky,

fly, stretch, GO!

As always, thanks for reading.

Namaste,

~C

*Note: To calculate your own birth number, simply add together the month, day, and year that you were born. Now keep adding the digits together until you have reduced the number to a single digit. If you complete this task and would like to know the corresponding Tarot card and its meaning, feel free to email your number to ripplesofinsight@gmail.com. Happy transforming!

Gratitude as a Way to Move Forward

Never in a million years could I imagine that one day I would wake up and say, “Thank you for this illness” and mean it. I have been avoiding, resisting, and lamenting dis-ease and pain of any kind for most of my life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do pain well.

Today I read the blog of a dear light worker friend about facing the shadows within. But what do you do when your shadow is embodied in physical pain?

This time the pain and limited movement lasted two full days and nights. Sleep was torture and pickleball out of the question (a monumental travesty in itself). In the wee hours of Saturday morning, I tried meditating – in child’s pose. To anyone watching, it would have looked like downward dog on my knees. In the midst of my agony I remembered that this same thing had happened the last two times I was sick with a respiratory infection. It was a head cold for god’s sake! So why did my back, hips, and IT Bands feel like they had been set ablaze?! If the pain had been everywhere, I would have chalked it up to body aches. But it wasn’t.

Why does my back hurt when I have a cold?

Google to the rescue!

Mark Zawadsky, MD, and orthopedic surgeon at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC., ‘When you’re sick with the cold and flu, stress hormones can potentiate the feeling of pain.’ In other words, feeling sick can make you hyper-attuned to other aches and pains you might otherwise shrug off.

But there’s more.

‘When you have a cold, the body makes pyrogens, a byproduct of cell breakdown,’ says John Stamatos, MD, director of interventional pain management at Syosset Hospital in Syosset, New York. ‘While these pyrogens create fevers and help your body fight infection, they’re also toxic to the body and contribute to that all-around achy feeling you get when you’re sick.’ That’s because pyrogens tend to gather around nerves that transmit pain, which can heighten those nerves’ ability to transmit the pain. So if you’re already prone to an achy back, having a cold can worsen it.

Source: https://www.health.com/pain/4-weird-causes-of-back-pain

A-HA! Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing in the proverbial ‘aha moment’. But last night’s realization was more useful to me than learning how pyrogens make my back and hips hurt. Understanding that these little demons chemicals were exposing areas of chronic inflammation turned a light on for me. Dr. Joe Dispenza, Mingtong Gu, and many other alternative health practitioners have taught me that chronic inflammation leads to serious illness and disease. That is not something I am willing to sit still and wait for. Add to that the persistent presence of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (since 2003) and I am looking at a bleak future physically, unless I decide to do something about it.

Now I have to back track just a bit. I have actually been dealing with some sort of back pain, somewhere in my back, since the 1990’s. Once while water skiing, I threw my lower back out so badly that I was forced to walk bent over at a 90 degree angle until the chiropractor could right the wrong. The worst bout by far ran from mid-February to mid-March of 2016. It began the day I contacted a lawyer to file for divorce. Nothing physical had triggered that particular attack. It was all emotional, and it lasted longer than any other flare-up before or since (imagine a full month of not being able to tie your shoes, sit in a chair, lie down, or stand comfortably). Over time, I have learned to mostly block the pain from my awareness. Don’t get me wrong, I often wake up too stiff to bend over. But in light of what the pyrogens taught me, perhaps that is a good thing.

After the attack in 2016, I began looking at my back pain with an eye to find the emotional energetic source of it rather than the physical one. My metaphysical friends know that all disease begins in the energy body where the chakras are housed, and that the main trigger for every disease is stress, be it emotional (like traffic or loss), or physical (GMO’s, food allergies, or a string of infections). Each of the seven main chakras is connected to an area of the body and corresponds to emotions based on our beliefs. (Never before has Rob Bell’s teaching “Everything is Spiritual” meant so much to me.)

What I am dealing with is primarily a root or base chakra issue. The lowest chakra is housed around the sacrum and develops over the first seven years of early childhood. It relates to our family of origin and ancestry, and determines our overall feeling of well being, support, and security in the physical world.

According to brain wave studies, the first seven years of a child’s life are spent entirely in a Delta (ages 0-2) and then Theta (ages 2-7) state. Theta is called the dream state (REM) and is the realm of the subconscious mind. The child’s psyche has not yet developed to include rational thought, so he or she simply absorbs everything from the environment, without discrimination or judgement. The development of rational thought (the ability to differentiate right from wrong, good from bad, or even the delineation of self from others) continues until age 14 – a full 7 years! So whatever happens to the child in the years leading up to age 7 cannot be evaluated as good, bad, or indifferent during that time. It is all simply accepted and absorbed into the subconscious mind, which then forms the programs that run for the rest of his or her days.

Here’s an interesting stat: 95% of your life as an adult is lived out of your subconscious mind. In other words, your day-in and day-out life is based on the programs that were placed in your psyche by other people (your parents, siblings, teachers, and caregivers) before you turned 7! So the next time you do or say something that your rational thinking mind did not intend, you will know why.

I cannot help but think of Paul’s lament in Romans.

15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the [rational mind’s intention] is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; but [another power] within me.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love [my good intentions] with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.

Romans chapter 7

What Paul called ‘sin’ we now know are the subconscious programs running the show of our lives. Here is where the demarcation between I and me truly exists. Only 5% of your life is run by that rational thinker inside your head. It has a slower processor than the subconscious and way less power and influence over you. (For more information, click here.)

If all of this is true, then what can be done to change the programs? How can we reverse the chronic issues and behaviors (even illnesses) stemming from something we were given basically a lifetime ago? So glad you asked! The programs of the subconscious mind can be rewritten in three basic ways.

  1. Will Power. We all know the chain smoker who finally kicked the habit through self-denial and behavior replacement. It can be done, but it can also take a long time. And it’s hard.
  2. Reaction to a Prognosis. This is often a faster process, but the results may not be as positive if the disease has gone too far before the behavior change can take effect. Dr. Joe often asks, “Why wait until you are in crisis to change? Why not make the choice now?”
  3. Hypnosis/Subliminal Affirmations. This is the fastest track to altering the programs of the subconscious mind. I like to call it ‘hacking’. To hack your subconscious requires reentering the Theta brainwave state, which, as it happens, you do twice every day.

This chart shows the various brain wave states of a normal adult:

Note that the Theta state (the same state you spent your early years in) can be reached through meditation, but you also pass through it every night while falling asleep and every morning while waking up. These are the key times to feed your brain information that can alter the preprogrammed behaviors in your body. I have been meditating for about four years, but only began using subliminal hypnosis about 4 months ago. Yet I still have an overabundance of thyroid antibodies and chronic back pain of some sort. What’s a girl to do?

The first thing for me was to decide that enough was enough. It is time I discover and deal with the subconscious beliefs that have been holding me captive both physically and emotionally. Clearly the meditations and QiGong exercises are taking too long – or worse, not actually reaching my subconscious mind at all!

Sometime last night I ran into information on Emily A. Francis.

Emily, the author of the book The Body Heals Itself, has a Master of Science in Physical Education with a Concentration in Human Performance and a BS in Exercise Science and Wellness with a minor in nutrition from Jacksonville State University. In 2004 Emily graduated from the Atlanta School of Massage in Clinical and Neuromuscular therapy. Immediately after, she went on to study and complete the Dr. Vodder School International for Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy (graduating in 2005 and completing recertifications with the school every 3 years since). Over the years since massage school Emily has taken courses in advanced TMJ dysfunction, MLD/CDT recertifications and has become a Certified Pediatric Therapist. She holds a gold medal in the US Open in Tai Chi Form and many more credentials

You can find out more about Emily on her site, or better yet, check out this interview!

I am so ready to move past this challenge in my life, and have decided to roll the dice and place my energetic block in Emily’s hands. Emily works with a local naturopath specializing in NAET and kinesiology. Dr. Tom Dill helps Emily point her therapy in the right direction. My appointment is not until mid-July, so until then, I will do what the meditation I found last night encouraged: Breathe in acceptance of this present moment and all of its circumstances, relax into the experience, then breathe out, letting go with gratitude for what the pain is teaching me about myself. It is time to face and embrace my shadow.

As always, thanks for reading.

Namaste,

C

P.S. I will be blogging about my experience with these two practitioners, so stay tuned!

Focusing for a Change

It’s moving week. Today I am supposed to be painting my bedroom, but am distracted by the beauty I captured on my phone yesterday. Before I pick up any brushes, I feel the need to paint with some words.

As most of you know, I left behind a long-standing marriage in the summer of 2015. For the next couple of years I worked in a contract position as I went through the process of a divorce. When my 2-year contract ended, I had to make a decision. I could either find another office job (the prospect literally sent me to bed ill for a day or so) or take some real time off to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I found out about the contract end date in August – right in the midst of purchasing a home in which to run an AirBnB. Several circumstances besides the job loss turned me away from that plan, and on September 16 I moved in with my daughter and son-in-law, homeless, jobless, and wondering where all of this was going.

Some of you probably remember the backyard neighbor I had when I lived in TN. The funny blog I wrote several years back can catch you up to speed if you are unfamiliar with the saga, but in case you don’t have the time, let’s just say that he and I didn’t have the same standards in the areas of neighborhood beautification or peace & quiet. Two years after leaving TN behind, I looked out of my bedroom window and saw this:

Talk about contrast launching a million rockets of desire!

In fact, this yard is so much worse than anything I ever saw at Tony’s that I almost feel bad comparing the two. Almost… By the way, my bedroom is the only room in my daughter’s rental home with this view. Go figure.

A couple of months after moving in, I was on the phone gazing out at the madness next door, when I received an inspiration. I wrote about it here, so I won’t rehash it, I’ll just show you the photo of my solution.

One of my friends calls it my stained glass window.

When my son-in-law saw it, he walked up to my daughter and said, “I can see Ireland from your mom’s bedroom!” 🙂 With the view blocked, I forgot about the neighbor’s yard … mostly. Occasionally, I would raise the window up just to see if anything had changed. Nope. But my life has changed drastically in the past year.

In January of 2018, this was my view for about 10 days:

Sunset over Labelle, FL

Sometime in early spring, I revamped my website, and with my son’s help, developed this logo.

In May I self-published my first novel.

In September my dream of visiting Ireland came true.

And yesterday I took these from the kitchen doorway (also the view from my bedroom) in the new home that my son-in-law purchased this week:

Some would say that I have successfully manifested my dreams into reality, but it feels more like I relaxed, found a way to focus on the things that bring me joy, and beautiful stuff just started happening. There’s a little quote on my vision board/window that I grabbed off of the Internet when I was going through my divorce. I believe it truly encapsulates what our first goal should be anytime we are looking to improve something within ourselves or our lives. It certainly has sustained me through many a tough day year:

quote, forget, and shit image

Image Source: https://weheartit.com/entry/48256589

When you are ready to see a completely new life unfold before your eyes, this is step one – forget the past. Step two – accept what is, without judgement or complaint. Yes, you may be unhappy with something or someone, like I was with my neighbor(s), but when things are out of your control, finding a way to focus on something else is the real key to freedom.

Finally, move on. We have to be willing to step into that new future even through uncertainty or fear. I had a moment when I purchased my ticket to Ireland. A moment of pure terror! For about an hour afterwards, I kept asking myself, “What have I done?” After all, I had been out of work for nine months with no job in sight (I wasn’t even applying for jobs!). Yet I had just purchased a ticket to another country where I would rent a car that had to be driven on the opposite side of the road, to spend eleven days exploring an unfamiliar place – completely alone. The fear subsided as I turned my focus on the amazing adventure about to come. Now that my trip is over, I am looking for the next incredible journey coming around the bend!

Today I feel sad that I have to remove my vision board from the window. Those photos have sustained me in so many ways. They reminded me of the life I want to live, the adventures I want to have, and the power that I can exercise over any obstacle. But once again I am moving on. Seasons come and go; flowing with them is crucial to growth, and growth is a vital part of life.

So much good has come from my willingness to refocus – not just my eyes but my heart and mind. Focus is about more than seeing clearly. It’s really about what we choose to look at in the first place. What are you focused upon today? Hopefully your gaze is fixed on your dreams, your goals, your vision for your best life. The Avett Brothers said it well – “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” We have been given one life. I think we would all be amazed at what can happen when we really choose to live it.

Namaste,

~C

 

Letting Go Accountability

Today I had the chance to share my journey into forgiveness with someone on Facebook. I thought I might post it here in case it might be helpful for any of my readers. There really is healing ahead – assuming you want it badly enough.

Question:

How do I stop holding an ex accountable for their behavior? How do I let go and forgive?

My response:

I have been going through this for the past 3 years, so for what it’s worth, here’s how it went for me.

1. I started a vision board for my trip to Ireland, and in the process, ran into a little meme that reads: “Forget shit and move on.” It didn’t have much to do with Ireland, but I put it on my board anyway. It became a very useful tool when I needed to stop the stream of hateful thoughts that came up often in those days. In terms of painful experiences, a short memory is the fastest road to salvation (read: freeeddoooommm). (See Joe Dispenza for more on this.)

2. I spent a reasonable amount of time sending the white light of love to him in meditation. Not something I could do when I was NOT connected to my inner being (who loves him, despite my feelings about it).

3. I started noticing that I kept meeting men who were JUST LIKE HIM. Seriously, ALL of them. Hm, I knew enough about the LOA to know that it was my focus on his faults that was pulling these people into my experience. I was doing it – ME, not him (reminder: I attracted him into my experience in the first place, after all). When I finally had enough, I began with the new people who were rubbing me the wrong way (I couldn’t begin with him). I reminded myself of an old adage, “hurting people hurt people” and started finding positive aspects in those folks. Then I thought about and talked about those positive aspects to anyone who would listen (especially others who were annoyed by those same people). Soon the weird relationships I had been encountering either disappeared (I started meeting really wonderful people), or the relationships began resolving themselves. One in particular continues to amaze me in terms of how much the person changed in my view of them over a very short period of time! Perspective really is everything. Now I just don’t think ill of the ex anymore either – maybe I’ll call it ‘the bleed effect’. I’ve seen too much positive change in my world to want to go back there again.

4. I reminded myself over and over that we ALL do the best we can with what we have. There are people in this world who simply do not have useful tools in the emotional box. Asking a crippled person to walk and then becoming angry when they don’t is worse than counterproductive. Shouting their disability to others who can see clearly that they have limitations is less than helpful. Usually just makes me look like an ass, not them.

5. I started believing Abraham Hicks – that I really don’t need to explain anything to anyone or justify my divorce by trashing the ex. None of it is necessary. Who I was then is not who I am now. If he chooses to change, great; if not, it’s his loss and still won’t affect me in the least. I began choosing to look into the future and stop wasting my energy in the past. A good quote: “Unforgiveness is equivalent to me drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” You have to get tired of being sick. An even better quote: “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Something that will never change no matter how much energy I give to it. The past really IS passed!

6. Finally, this person is the father of my children. If nothing else, I can find great satisfaction in the joy that these three beings continue to bring me.  Without him, there would be no them. I am learning from Abraham that the road to healing is paved with appreciation for the positive aspects of everyone in our experience. After all, each person I meet contains wanted and unwanted. What I focus on is MY choice, and only mine. I got tired of being miserable and started either focusing on his positive aspects or looking at something else entirely. It does help to bang a pickleball around 5 or 6 times a week. hehe

Perhaps I have not yet achieved total freedom, but today I am much happier on my journey than I have ever been. And I can even say that I am grateful beyond measure for the 28 years of pain that taught me how important happiness really is – AND the truth about where happiness comes from. Hint: Happiness cannot come from any source outside of myself, so why would I hold anyone accountable for not giving me something that they could never have given me anyway?

Many blessings on your journey into joy!

Namaste,

C

Past is Passed …

… but the Future is Now

Three years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. The following is my attempt to ‘flesh out’ where I stand currently on what it means to live in the present moment.

~   ~   ~

Anyone who knows me very well is aware of the serious condition from which I suffer. I affectionately call it  made up a name for it: Youtubeitis. It’s more of an addiction than an illness. That’s right, my name is Cindy, and I am a YouTube addict. Whether driving to and from the pickleball court, preparing a meal, or sitting on the couch in my room, you will most often find me listening to back to back talks given by my favorite teachers, all offering their wisdom for free on the Interwebs. My AT&T data plan cannot begin to keep up. The good news is, I think it is finally starting to pay off.

When I turned the last page of The Power of Now, I was fairly convinced that whatever Tolle was talking about, it was both impractical and unreachable – at least for me. Nothing about sitting on a park bench for two years, while becoming enamored with the life force of the leaves on the trees has ever remotely appealed to me. I watched the online class that he and Oprah Winfrey put out to help us ‘get it’, but I still didn’t, and I knew it.

Right around the time that I encountered The Power of Now, a cousin of mine introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza. Quickly I found that the science of spirituality made much more sense to me than the esoteric, ethereal notions presented in Tolle’s book. I have since read two books by Dr. Joe, listened to almost everything he has out on YouTube multiple times (this is a great place to start), purchased (and use) several of his meditation CD’s, and in December of 2017, I attended a Progressive conference in Austin, TX. Here is a meditation you can try for free. Let me know what you think in the comments.

About 6 months ago, I stumbled upon Abraham Hicks, and suddenly everything I had learned from Dr. Joe was amplified ten-fold! I moved from directing thought and emotion during meditation to becoming aware of my moment-by-moment feelings throughout the day in light of all that I have become. I am now learning how to elevate my thoughts and emotions in real-time, and the skill is transforming my life in ways I never imagined.

When I first read Tolle’s book, probably my most memorable take-away was that the moment you realize you are in the ‘now’, that moment is gone, and you are actually looking back at the past! Clearly I did not understand how to live in the present moment if every now moment is really a past one by the time it registers in my mind as present. (Try repeating that sentence five times fast.)

This week I have been re-immersing myself in Dr. Dispenza’s interviews on YouTube. Here is one of them. So far, he has not said anything that I have not already heard him say. In fact, the books and conference materials explain the same concepts in much more detail than he provides in the interviews, but somehow I am receiving a greater understanding in terms of application. Maybe something that Abraham said is bringing new meaning to Joe’s words, or perhaps some life experience has built a proper framework for me. After all,

words don’t teach, life experience teaches.

Whatever the cause, I am making new connections that I was unable to make before.

The concept is simple enough. We use our memory of who we were yesterday to remind us of who we are when we wake up today. That means that the majority of us depend on our memories of past experiences to tell us who we are in the present moment. Likewise, the beliefs we have about life and others, come from the thoughts of the past that we have practiced over a long period of time. Added to that, the subconscious mind guides and directs 95% of a person’s actions and emotions on a daily basis, yet the majority of the beliefs governing the subconscious were established before we turned five years old. On a subconscious level, we live completely out of our past experiences. This is why lasting change is so difficult to come by.

So the problem becomes that even though the past is gone, we do not actually live like it is. Every morning when I wake up, I formulate a view of myself and the world based on it. If that past was painful, then pain becomes the defining hallmark of my life. I define others based on the past as well, determined to hold a person hostage to the day I became the target of their bad behavior. But because we define our present reality based on the past, we are unable to imagine a different future. And when we do try to imagine our future (thanks to the subconscious programming in our brains) we envision the worst case scenario based on things that happened to us in the past. We know these fears are rooted in events that are now gone, yet we allow those same events to color our picture of tomorrow in dire shades we dare not entertain thoughts about.

What if a person was able to wake up and only see themselves through the framework of who they wanted to be, rather than who they were yesterday? What if people approached everyone they encountered on any given day as if it were the first time they met? No history of wrongs, no preconceived notions of what that person was like, only a soul, just like them, living out the greatest expression of themselves that they could be in that moment in time. What if people learned to ignore everything from their past (since the past literally does not exist in any form as a reality) and began to focus their attention on the present moment, in the context of becoming the greatest expression of themselves that they could be? Maybe that is what John Lennon really meant.

Would you be willing to imagine such a world? Do you think that you could imagine it? A world where people everywhere viewed themselves and others in light of what we are becoming, rather than dragging forward what we/they have been. The fact is, the only way to truly live in the present moment is to utterly leave the past behind. Tolle probably said that, but clearly I did not get it.

The key to it all is the human brain’s incredible ability to use thought. Did you know that when you entertain a memory (a thought) of something that occurred in the past, your brain produces the exact same cocktail of chemicals that were released during the event itself – no matter how far removed you are from it in time? Human beings are the only species on the planet who have the ability to make a thought as real as an actual event. It follows then, that our brains are capable of producing chemicals equal to future possibilities through thought alone as well. In this way, our thoughts are able to bring the future we desire into the present moment, but instead we continue to practice the habit of dragging the pain of the past into our now. We could be dreaming about a future filled with joy, appreciation, love, health, peace, and happiness – all along releasing the necessary chemicals that can change the hard-wired programming in our brain. This skill would enable you and me to live with intention going forward, and it is the true meaning of the power of now.

Backward is impossible. Forward is inevitable. And if you can imagine it, you can create it – good, bad, or indifferent. We have the choice to stare fixedly at the past, or to dare to imagine a better future. Whatever we give our attention to is what we will create in our present now reality.

Perception really is everything.

One Magical Life

I can no longer remember how or when the idea for a vacation in Ireland came to me. I know it began as a desire to spend an extended time (3 months, even) in a different environment, possibly tied to writing my novel (fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel). I do remember creating a bucket list, and those few short sentences morphed into a vision board overflowing with photos of Ireland, modest homes surrounded by peaceful gardens, and a few pithy quotes to help me move past a difficult divorce. Continue reading “One Magical Life”

All the Little Ways

The universe (God, goddess, angels, universal consciousness, whatever you want to call it) speaks to me in many different ways. I have had dreams, visions, heard a public speaker (complete stranger) reiterate in a talk the exact words of a private conversation I had with a friend earlier that day, seen repeating numbers, and on rare occasions, heard a voice inside my head. I cannot count the number of times I have thought of a friend only to have them call or email me soon after. So many serendipitous things have happened in my life that I no longer believe in coincidence. My family even coined the phrase co-inky-dink years ago in an attempt to make light of these strange occurrences.

I’ve been getting messages of one kind or another my whole life, but it has taken me some time to really learn to pay attention to them. Many were so subtle that they could have easily passed by unnoticed, yet they are the ones that speak the loudest to my soul. We all hope that the universe will come through for us in the big stuff (the job, the healing, etc.), but when something small happens just to delight us, well, then we truly experience the whole of the depth and breadth of the love available to us.

If you will indulge me, I would like to share one of my favorite examples of the universe speaking to me from circa 1996:

It was early, maybe six-thirty in the evening, and I was where I usually was at that time of day, in front of a sink full of dirty dishes. My husband stood behind me in the doorway to our kitchen talking at me. Apparently he knew the script of our lives as well as I did – he was in his place as much as I was in mine. In the background I could hear my two girls arguing over some perceived injustice that one had suffered at the other’s hand. I had grown so accustomed to the constant bickering that it was little more than background noise. They knew I would not choose a victim and had been forced early on to learn to work out their squabbles on their own. My husband was another story. He was always the victim. Me? I was the sounding board.

The townhouse the four of us shared was nothing to write home about. At least it was in a nicer area of Georgia than some I’d seen. God only knows how we paid for it. Life for the wife of a pastor-turned-construction handyman was no walk in the park. Wasn’t God supposed to take care of us? Then why was I never able to buy shoes for my children? Why did I have to choose between health insurance and groceries? I had learned one very useful thing over the course of ten years: how to pack a kitchen in one hour or less. Since 1987 we had lived in seven different dwellings, three different states, and one foreign country. After almost ten years of moving, I was tired. Tired of jobs ending. Tired of every application being rejected. Tired of listening to the pie-in-the-sky delusions that comprised my husband’s life story.

He was at it again – telling me his plans for the job he had applied for one week ago. Never mind that it could take up to a year to even hear back from a church. He had no interview scheduled, did not even know if anyone would ever look at the application, but he had plans for the money he was going to make, for the ministry he would do there, and he had already mapped out the place we would live. He had a plan for everything – everything except another rejection. He assured me that this church would be the one, this time it would happen. I had listened to the same speech multiple times over the previous months – many, many more if you count all of the years of training. Same song, umpteen millionth verse. And like the tune, the outcome never changed.

In seminary we had two children. I stopped working to care for them, so we learned to live on student loans and my family’s charity. Seminary included a year-long internship in Australia (it was not glamorous, sorry to disappoint). Then in 1992 a mission board told us we were not missionary material. By their estimation our marriage had a three in ten chance of survival. Graduation from seminary was followed by an eighteen month stint where my husband served as a youth pastor. It ended in disaster, financial and otherwise. Application after application generated rejection after rejection. Even though one church voted to hire him in 1994, the Presbytery said no – twice. Standing there in front of that soapy water, I could not have imagined that two more failed internships, bankruptcy, a three-month separation, military service and deployment, another job loss, three more years of graduate school, twelve more moves, and finally divorce were headed my way.

Yet even then, I had run out of words.

I could not muster a response to his assurances. All I could do was bristle in silence against the barrage of his pipe dreams. I remember rinsing the last of the dishes while staring at my reflection in the darkened window above the sink. My eyes looked hollow and empty of life – just like I felt. Whatever joy I had known was gone, trampled under the hardships of a life lived without enough of anything – money, stability, family ties, friends, or, most importantly, love. In my head I spoke to the only one I thought might be listening. “God,” I said, “I can’t dream anymore. It’s too painful.”

I rinsed the soap down the drain then turned and left the kitchen. He was likely still standing there talking as I plodded mechanically up the stairs. I went through the motions of my nightly routine with my own voice still echoing in my head, “It hurts too much to dream.” The truth was, I had never learned to dream about much of anything for myself. As a child I was told I had to marry because women needed to be taken care of by a man. The church told me I had to obey my husband, follow his dreams, and die to whatever it was I might desire. In my mind, there was no room for my dreams, even if I had them. In my marriage, there was no room for me.

Funny how the universe has a way of giving us back things we do not even realize we have lost.

It has long been my practice to read before falling asleep. In fact, since I was in middle school (maybe even earlier), I cannot remember my nightstand bereft of a book or six (yes, I am always in the middle of approximately six books at a time, don’t ask me why). That night I was reading He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado. After flipping on the lamp, I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up, and opened the book to my mark. The entire page was nothing but the title of Chapter 5. It read:

It’s All Right to Dream Again

Suddenly I could not breathe. The words before me bled together like watercolors bathed in my tears. The shock of such an immediate and crystal clear answer to my thoughts left me speechless. I smiled as I placed my bookmark back where it had been, shut the cover, and set the book on the nightstand. Then I turned out the light and went to sleep. I did not need to see anything else. The universe had spoken.

Message in a book

Since that night twenty or more years ago, I have heard that voice speak to me again and again. Sometimes it has been direct, like the title of Chapter 5. Other times it has been more subtle and harder to perceive. Perhaps hearing the universe speak is a function of belief – I expect it to speak so it does. I trust that what I am hearing is a message for me and that the message is good. So I work to hone my intuition, increase my attention span and ability to concentrate, and develop exceptional listening skills. Meditation is helpful, although in my experience, the universe seems to wait until I am surrounded by noise just to show me that it will always be louder, truer, and more reliable than anything else I hear. After all, what has the power to drown out the still small voice of love? Absolutely nothing.

Do you ever receive messages from the universe? How do the messages come to you? How do they make you feel and what do you do when you get them?

If you are game to share an experience you have had receiving an unexpected but timely message, please email me at cecetarot@yahoo.com. I would love to feature your story as a guest blog here on Ripples of Insight.

Much love and light,

~ Cindy