Unlikely Places…

I see my mother’s bathing suit in the drawer of the old antique desk she has given me prior to her death – which has not yet occurred.  Cancer makes people want to get things in order.  Her sexy bathing suit and aqua blue poolside wrap remind me of her vibrancy – in stark contrast to the woman sitting in the chair in front of me. There is an almost blank childlike bewilderment in her eyes as the cancer in her body stands still while the chemo ravages her with supposedly justifiable sickness.

The doctors are standing all around us.  he is tall with perfect skin. I wonder is he gets facials.  And they are young and eager and dumb as shit. All left brain, staring blankly waiting to be told what to think.  I feel like jumping up and telling them to stop talking to her like she is some random old person.  Didn’t they know she stood up to 6 armed African guards when I accidentally almost got us arrested in Africa!  And she was the one who told that weird Moroccan guy that wanted to buy me for a wife to go fuck himself – I might add while we were in the middle of the desert where he had a significant advantage. She was a force of nature.  Who did they think they were talking to!?

But they continued…

“Did you eat your breakfast?”, Some young 22-year-old resident asks her as though she is some moronic child who has an issue in comprehension.

I regain enough presence of mind prior to saying anything I’d have to apologize for later;  I see that I am feeling angry without cause.  It’s part of the grieving process, they say.  Everyone is just doing their best. My brain kicks in and my emotions crawl back  into their corners like cockroaches from the light.

I start to wonder about human suffering and the way we all deal with our personal variety of it.  We all know for sure that each life is full of it – and yet we treat each other as though your suffering could not possibly be as pungent as mine. As powerful – as bad.  Who said suffering is bad? Isn’t suffering the place we all do our learning from?

But I doubt this, as I look around me in the ward where they have my mother, and see an old man sitting by the window, bent at his chair, staring blankly out past his little box of Boost perched precariously under his chin.  Boost – meant to keep him alive through an infusion of tasteless protein.

Maybe he doesn’t want to stay alive I think to myself.

A picture of a young man, alive and vibrant, flashes in my mind. maybe he was in the war and was handsome in his uniform? Maybe he was a farmer and rode a tractor?  maybe he had a wife and kids and dogs and stuff.

We are all so delusional that we will have a different outcome in our lives, but really what are the alternatives.

Everyone experiences suffering.  The difference is in how we see what the suffering is for.  My mother has taught me that.

Maybe suffering increases as we age and death is like a “final exam” – to see how far we can let go.

I really see my mother, behind her eyes, past the fear and bewilderment – waiting lovingly, patiently and without fear.  I kiss her goodbye and leave my mind frazzled by all I have seen and felt.

I get lost – three times. My usually reliable GPS tossing me around in circles, in a maelstrom of orange cones and construction chaos. Finally, I land at the base of the world’s largest shrine to St. Joseph.  It takes me a while once I have decided to give up and go in to realize that St. Joseph was the Virgin Mary’s husband. I know so little about this stuff. I would be considered a fallen catholic in oh so many ways!   I am compelled by this place because of all of the people who go with their intention of healing or peace.  The energy is very strong.

I am led into the shrine of Brother Andre – a now sainted monk who was said to have the ability to heal the sick and make cripples walk.  I am surrounded by walls and layers and hundreds of crutches and canes of the miraculously healed and left behind.  On the opposite wall, long rows of candles and prayers votive candle areas, with prayers to Saint Joseph.  I am awed by the artwork and statues depicting the prayers. The dancing lights of the candles seem to make the faces and the stories on the walls come alive.

I look down at the placard in front of me and read “St-Joseph – Patron Saint of the Dying”.  There are few candles burning. I see St Joseph is the patron saint of a few things including Virgins and families.   The Virgin’s one stumps me for a second until I realize what kind of man it would have taken to preserve the honor of a woman who claimed to be pregnant and a virgin – how many men would put up with that?   The amount of Trust and faith that would have been required to not disbelieve her would not be possible without an act of God.  I light candle candles at these stations and say prayer sin my own way.  I don’t remember the meaningless wrote prayers from my three weeks at the convent in my younger years. They didn’t exactly stick.

It feels good to be able to pray and be quiet with myself in a  place with God so openly.  The world outside seems starkly controversial. But this is a place for pilgrims of all backgrounds, and I feel welcome.

I say a last prayer for my mother holding my hands on the casket of the Sainted healer.  I dip my Tibetan Ayurvedic Oil pendant in the holy water, mixing the oil and water together.

I feel like it’s time to go home now, and I try to let go.

In India, Unsafe Abortions Claim a Woman Every Two Hours

World

On World Population Day, the first part of TIME’s focus on India — the country with the highest concentration of young people in the world — looked at sex education. This second part examines what happens when the desperate need for contraceptives goes unmet.

Each year, 19 million to 20 million women risk their lives to undergo unsafe abortions, conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners or practitioners who resort to traditional but rudimentary means. Dr. Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-advocacy center, believes that “about half of all abortions worldwide are unsafe” — an appalling number when one considers that abortions are simple procedures when done correctly. In India, the problem of unsafe abortions is especially acute. There were 620,472 reported abortions in 2012; experts say the true number of abortions performed in the country could be as high as 7 million, with…

View original post 772 more words

DOES A BLADE OF GRASS MATTER?

In the past few years I have had some BIG life questions.  Why are we here? What really matters? What’s the POINT?  Who am I? What am I supposed to be doing? Am I in the right place? etc, etc…Many people go through a period where they begin to ask the real questions.  The ones that are deeper and more life altering than what’s for dinner? or What job should I do? There seems to be a motion in the world where people are becoming more serious about this search for what we call “inner truth”. The search for inner truth is not for sissies.  It requires a certain tenacity and diligence that other life challenges don’t demand.  Inner truth has a different implication for each person, but the result of it leads to a greater certainty of self, more consistent emotions, more stability, conscious decisions which lead to more positive circumstances, and a greater fluidity and absence of conflict in relationships.  The search for truth for most people begins with an analysis of the past.  This can be done by yourself, with a therapist, a priest, whatever. It just takes a desire to be objective and non-judging of yourself. Just look at the information, and gather facts. This is hard work and it requires questions. Questions require teachers to answer. So a few years back I began to pray that teachers be put in my path. As is the fortunate habit of the universe, I was almost immediately blessed with exactly what I needed when I needed it.  My prayer was just a sign that I was ready and willing. Then, just sit back and watch what happens. Prayer is cool like that. My first teachers were not exactly gentle.  They came in the form of relationships that brought the past back into stark focus to my present life.  This was good for me. Instead of getting all caught up in the drama of things, I was more focused on understanding why I had emotions or reactions that I had.  These “trigger relationships” are present in everyone’s lives. They can either annoy you, or you can use them to understand about yourself. Because the fact is, when you are OK with yourself, you are going to feel ok with pretty much anyone.  There may be some people you don’t want to spend time with or  don’t want hanging around your inner circle, but that’s ok.  We attract and choose the people who most benefit our learning and growth when we need them.  Boundaries are easier to develop once you know and respect your own self better.

Later, my teachers were refined. teachers that were actually showing me things, like herbology and shamanic practices. Rituals and interpretations of things that were connected to earth and source.  The focus of my learning became a more spiritual – esoteric lesson.  All things are connected.  I began to respect the tides and turns in my life with greater ease and facility.

 

moojiLater I began to follow an online a teacher named Mooji. he is very interesting to me, presenting Buddhist and Hindu concepts in a way that an uninitiated westerner like me can grasp pretty well.  He teaches an objective non-dualistic non-judging method to separate from thinking. We are not our thoughts. We just are. This gives me a good focus that works in my life. Every Sunday Mooji holds live “Satsang” from Portugal. It is free and an – (You can watch it here if you’re interested http://www.mooji.org/ ) Satsang is a gathering of people over period of about two hours where folks who are interested come and sit with him and he answers questions, talks to people and takes real life and turns it into spiritual life. It’s a fascinating and enlightening thing to be a part of. One of the most interesting aspects is what kind of question to ask Mooji. And this is where I have been focused don lately…what is my question now? If you could ask a guru just one question, what would it be? You will quickly learn that Mooji does not find it important to discuss questions regarding mundane daily existence.  “I can’t seem to make enough money ” for example,  would not be a well received question, because it deals with the details of living, which is in effect illusory- like a passing dream.  It is constantly emphasized by Mooji and other Zen masters that everything is passing, everything is changing – except for one thing inside of you. one thing that you can identity beyond words It is the observer of your thoughts, the purveyor of your spirit. So, what question would I ask Mooji.  I think I have found it: IS a blade of grass important? This question has sat with me now, and I think its answer gives me insight into the grand purpose of existence. If a blade of grass doesn’t matter then it has no impact on the world. Like a single blood cell though, it is part of an entire working whole. can I really believe that though? At first I want to say YES! Every living thing is important. But then, I need to ask, is there such a thing as relative importance? Because if that is so, then, a human being is surely not important compared to the universe.  A blade of grass is as large as we are in the real scheme of things. If a blade of grass dies, does it matter?  Does it have an alterable effect? What do we mean by “effect? Does the effect matter? What does it mean to matter? Oy…sometimes my mind can take an easy question about a blade of grass can turn into something pretty twisted – but revealing at the same time. is there a difference between me asking questions about a blade of grass, or a human being?  Maybe this is the real question.  Life is not a relative term – nothing is more alive than another thing…right? Oh no…more questions. The search for inner truth eventually morphs out into the search for Truth. Capital T.  This means being honest with YOURSELF  –  deep inside your consciousness where we have all learned how to lie to ourselves so effectively that we don’t even recognize the lie anymore. Anyone that chooses – because free will is a big part of this – to undergo the journey towards inner truth is high on my list of hero’s – it is an arduous journey that can positively impact every person you come into contact with.

Equine Nature Retreat ~ Second Chakra ~ A Focus on Self

The biggest problem that faces the planet right now and has since the beginning of time is that we don’t know who we are.  By taking the time to get to understand our most essential natures we are doing ourselves and everyone a great service.  A focus on studying chakras can help bring us closer to this understanding.

There are things we can solve with our minds, but the most important understanding must come from the heart. Whether you have a religious or spiritual belief system or not, it is important to recognize that you are a being made  energy, connected to everything that is alive.  The great mystery exists not only in the understanding of our “small self” – the human self that goes through the practical matters of daily living, but also our LARGER self – the energetic and eternal aspect of ourselves that are fully interconnected with one another.  It is possible that all of the problems that this disconnection over time have caused in history are a result of this “small self” thinking, and have now caused us to need to shift to an understanding of our “eternal” self. The part of us which is energy, flows through time because for it no time exists, has always been here – and will always be here.  Some belief systems call this consciousness. Some call it soul. I call it Self.serenity

Here at the WillowCreek Retreat we use the energy of horses and nature to help people become aware of their SELF through a focus on centers of energies which exist as a part of us, as use that knowledge to find a place in themselves which surpasses even thoughtful knowledge and can be found in the heart only. The Hindu culture calls these centers “Chakras”, which means “spinning wheel” in Sanskrit.

This article will focus on our upcoming retreat on the second-sacral chakra. It is intended for the participants of the retreat, but I want to make following the process available to anyone who is interested.

***********************************************************************************************************************

bc4a8-chakra

The second chakra, also known by the Sanskrit name, Svhadisthana, relates to those aspects of our energy that have to do with creation, fertility, sexuality and the joy of living.  The physical location is about two inches below your navel.  The colour relating to this center is orange and the element is water.

When this energetic area of your body is blocked, it can result in physical ailments such as bladder problems, circulatory issues, lower back pain, menstrual issues, kidney & reproductive problems.  Life issues can include difficulty working with others in a creative fashion, addiction, sexual dysfunction (hyper or hypo sexuality) in relationships, difficulty setting healthy boundaries, and a lack of flow of abundance (like money and other resources) into your life. Psychologically, a imbalanced second chakra can produce low sexual desire (frigidity), frustration, anger, fear, hypersensitivity, unreasonable feelings of guilt, and being unreasonably hard on yourself.  In your life you may find yourself surrounded by abusive or energetically imbalanced relationships, difficulty in attracting resources, feelings of unhappiness regularly upon awakening. Healthy second chakra energies bring about healthy relationships, well established boundaries and flow of money and resources into your life.  It is easy to see why a concentration on coming to terms with and healing second chakra  energy would be beneficial.

In the west we have an extreme disconnect from our energetic centers.  Eastern cultures socialize their children in  a way that emphasizes awareness and connection to each center of the body.  Through food, prayer, song and other cultural norms, those in the East have a focus on the essential nature of the physical and spiritual connection we have to each other and the world of nature.  Here in the West we are just beginning to see the very real and practical importance of this knowledge.

984297067Horses are an excellent partner to help quiet the mind and open the awareness we have in ourselves of how our body is feeling at any particular moment. Because a horse’s energy calibrates at a higher rate than humans, just being in physical proximity to them can help quiet the mind. This is primarily because they don’t have the thoughts of past and future that keep our energies tied up in illusion and non-reality. Horses can help put our feet back on and into the ground.

A practice of intimacy with any living creature, two or four footed, can quiet your mind and center you in presence.  This is the most important first step for any act of self-inquiry. Without presence, you cannot establish intimacy with yourself or anyone else, for this requires that you be centered in where you are, not in the past or future. Intimacy with another requires intimacy with your SELF first.

484718_10152675059555230_434117789_nHorses can help us to discover our “SELF”.

Intimacy has been expressed as “into me I see”.  Intimacy with another person requires that we first be intimate with ourselves.  This means taking the time to see deeply into our true nature, true mnotivations true thoughts and beliefs about things.  Charka studies are like treasure hunting for truth about yourself. Sometimes the journey is treacherous and can feel a little dangerous, but these are the risks you must take to find the greatest treasures.

The goal is to become unashamedly and blissfully aware of who you REALLY are.

This means learning to be naked with yourself.

An act of emotional vulnerability is sometimes easier with an animal.  We feel that animals don’t judge us, they  won’t take advantage of our feelings of weakness. We feel we can “be ourselves” with animals.

We fear emotional vulnerability with humans because we are accessing negative past experiences and transposing them into the now of life.  Eventually, you will come to  a place where you understand that the judgements of others, neither positive or negative, should be taken personally. That each person’s “judgment” comes from a place of self-judging.  But, when the second chakra is blocked and not yet brought to your consciousness, you can only see what you can see.

Second chakra issues revolve around TRUST and TRUTH.

Who do you trust? Do you have a best friend? When you were young, did you have a best friend?  Have you known someone to whom you could tell all your secrets to and you  knew they were on your side and you would never fear they would break your confidence or hurt your feelings? Do you have someone in your life like that now?

Many people suffer from the loneliness they impose upon themselves from their own self-judgements.

To relieve yourself of guilt – try to remind yourself of this wise thought by author and poet Maya Angelou

“if you would have known better, you would have done better”.

Angelou goes through life with this core belief about people and about herself.  It is a very freeing thought because it acknowledges the FACT that everyone does what they believe is their best at the time they are doing it.  In hindsight, everything has a different hue.

Forgiveness is an important focus for this and every chakra.  Forgiveness is NOT an act of placing an approval stamp on the past. Forgiveness is a recognition that the past cannot be changed. Forgiveness holds within it, if it is the truth, a desire to discover what every experience has brought to you, not what it has taken from you.  Then, focus on the need you were trying to fulfill when you did whatever it is that causes you guilt.  Discover truthfully, fearlessly – the belief behind the need you were trying to fulfill. Then understand fully (prayer helps with this) that your needs are important.  That you can find healthy ways to fulfill these needs without causing yourself harm.  That you can remain from this time forward, aware of your needs, so you make choices and decisions for yourself in an aware an dhealthy way.  This is possible for everyone.

BE LIKE WATER…water_horse_by_grau23-d54263o

But the first steps begin a process of a new kind of thinking. They will produce changes in your life, and the people around you will react.  Be aware of this as you continue.  Allow the changes to unfold, and as the elemtn in the second chakra urges us as does the Tao te Ching – follow the lesson that water teaches us.  It flows with all the circumstances it comes across. It recognizxes that it is ever changing and ever moving, but like water, we never fully disappear.  If we remain like stone, and we are not in the flow of our live, using our minds and thoughts to resist what is, then we will find ourselves being eroded and chipped away, until we are finlly pulled free into the river of what life is doing around us.

TAO TE CHING – VERSE 8

The Supreme Good is like water,

Which nourishes all things without trying to.

It flows to low places, loathed by all men

Therefore it is like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things,

In dwelling, be close to the land.

In meditation, go deep in the heart.

In dealing with others be gentle and kind.

In speech be true.

In ruling be just.

In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame

One who lives in accordance with nature,

Does not go against the way of things.

They move in harmony with the present moment,

Always knowing the truth of just what to do.

Lao Tzu – Tao Te Ching

RETREAT EXCERCISE – SECOND CHAKRAlily and jo in arena

The excercise we will do in this retreat is to request our participants to take a horse aside, privately and have a “conversation”.  You will tell the horse your most deep dark secrets. The one you wouldn’t even tell your best friend. The one your surely wouldn’t tell your priest.  The one you secretly believe God will judge you for.

Then take time to look deeply into the horse’s eyes.  See what they see.  Listen to your self, and acknowledge the feelings you have in this interaction.

Ask yourself some questions and stay in meditation with the  horse – quiet in your present space:

Do you believe the horse can see inside of you?

Can you see yourself as clearly as the horse sees you?

Ask to be shown how to forgive.

Stay quiet.

Observe your horse’s eyes.

Heartfelt_-low-res-file-698x1024What do you feel?