SHENPA is the Tibetan word for things that cling to you – things you are hooked to. We all have them: addictions, behavioural patterns, thought patterns, emotions – things that take you away from presence with yourself entirely. Your distractions. Meditation helps get you back there and see what’s holding you back or down, but pain get you to the place where you know you need to understand more. I am lately seeing so many many SHENPAS in my life. SO many, that I feel like I am drowning. I think if I can identify some of them, awareness will shine on them like shining a light on a cockroach. These SHENPAS make the behaviours I learned to protect myself from the adult world as a child come back in full force when I have worked so hard to let them go. Sigh..one step forward…sixteen back. This does reinforce my understanding that it has nothing at all to do with the destination…it’s all in the journey. Peace!
It’s redundant for me to have an opinion on opinionated people, don’t you think? But I really do and it’s making me a little crazy.
For the last few years I have been struck by how counterproductive strong personal opinions are for me. Negative or positive – it’s all the same thing as far as I am concerned. It’s a right and wrong, black and white up and down that really only exists in our faerie tale minds.
Last night I met a woman I had never met before who had been making quite merry all night. At one point she grabbed at my husband’s cigarettes (he has been struggling to quit for a while now) and starting sneering at him
“what are you gonna do?” she jeered
“You gonna be an idiot and smoke this?” She waved the pack at him sitting back arrogantly with her glass of whatever in her other hand.
“Um…” I could see he was visibly shaken, not knowing how to handle this strange aggressive approach.
She wanted to humiliate him in some way, and frankly I felt bad for him. Addicted is addicted and for sure I m not going to be the one to throw stones from my glass house. In all my attempt to be “compassionate” towards all people, I found it a little tough with this one. Soon, I found words spilling out of my unhindered unfiltered mouth. Generally this is not a good thing.
“So, does your shoulder hurt?” I asked her pointedly
“Hunh?” she looked at me quizzically
“Does your SHOULDER hurt?” I said pointing to the portion of my body above my arm below my neck, in case you need instructions like she did
“Well, it is a little stiff..”
“Yeah, that’s what happens when you walk around in your life carrying a heavy gavel and judging people. Why don’t you just lay it down.” I stared at her predatorially watching her eyes drop conflicted to her feet.
“Well mine’s just fine then…” She murmured staring at her feet.
“Give it time”…I said smiling sardonically.
Oh great. Good old “zen-me” had just reacting to someone being humiliated by humiliating the, So much for non-violence…
She wanted to go at him about cancer being caused by cigarettes. Meanwhile my brain wanted to tell her all sorts of things, about being overweight, having a lousy attitude, her bleached blond hair, carcinogenic make up tested on poor little bunnies, her diamonds mined in South Africa, her need to control other people…omg. My brain wouldn’t shut up – thankfully I had found my filter, and we packed up not wanting to ruin what had been a lovely evening.
I remember when I was young I had an opinion about everything. In my family it was a way to be valued. The more opinions you had = the smarter you were. Generally I wasn’t much into telling others how to run their lives. But on world issues and grander things, you couldn’t have shut me up.
But here’s what I know now: if someone does something that annoys me (like to the pint this woman’s attitude annoyed me..) then it is ONLY because that same aspect exists inside of me. The bright light of imperfection shone directly on my face like a crazy celestial spotlight. It was me..not her. I cant change a person or how they behave. I can only choose to accept exactly as they are, them or not. I knew this was true because I came away from the judging woman with a sense of annoyance, which I think is a good thing. That feeling is an indication I have to look at something within myself. Seeing it like that makes the altercation not useless – but useful for my own personal understanding and growth. Having a perception of conflicting relationships like this can really change the way you feel about interacting with the world.
What it came down to was I think we all have that “inner critic”. And, there is a distinct difference between a critic and being discerning. We were all given the power to discern what works for us and what doesn’t. I can observe a person’s behaviour or choices, and in view of how I am moving forward in my life, I can discern whether or not it is a good relationship for me or a counter-productive one, for now.
So, I realize how redundant it is for me to blog about my opinion about people’s opinions, but I am seeing a trend which is kind of black and white, and probably attributable to social networking. Daily posts from people that are like personal opinion vomit – all day long. They just go on and on and how one person is bad, or a country is bad, or an institution is bad…oy. This isn’t productive and it gets tedious reading and seeing such of negative comments.
I say – shut up and go DO something a bout it. If you complain about a problem more than once without taking action – you are officially whining.
I’m grateful for my annoyance as it has made me aware enough to back off of my own strong opinions – but it doesn’t mean I will lose my sense of discernment. If I am stuck to what I think about a person place or situation, then I am not accepting that person place and situation and I guarantee you that the only one who will be miserable from that kind of unconscious bull-in-a-china-shop thinking – is ME.
So, in my efforts to be more gentle and compassionate with my own self (yes…a huge challenge), I am going to take a dose of my own medicine and remind myself that even the judging woman needs to be accepted. We are ALL perfectly imperfect, as my mom used to like to remind me when I would beat myself up.
Accepting people and not always having a false belief that I can change the unchangeable is a very powerful tool in keeping emotional balance and avoiding depression. It’s all just one more thing to add to your toolbox, if that works for you.
Have a great weekend.
I arrive at the festival about 6 hours early. We have a sound check, sound check is cancelled. The band is in fine form – everyone happy in the park. I feel so lucky because my family is with me. My cousin and nephew. How unbelievably amazing that I am so lucky to have a family that likes each other so much that we want to hang out voluntarily outside of Christmas dinner and funerals.
We notice that the place is filled with extraordinary musicians from all over. No one knows us – we are the new kids on the block. I have a chance to talk to many people as the day unravels and one sound check is put off after another until we realize that there will be no sound check and we are just meant to enjoy the day.
As it went on, I had a chance to meet two people who gave me a great lesson I’d like to share. The first was a man who, right away upon meeting me candidly admitted:
“I have been trying to be an artist my whole life and I don’t know what I am good at. I can’t paint, I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I can’t write…I am lost”.
I don’t know – maybe its my hippie look but people like to get down to brass tacks right away with me and I really like that. They can tell I’m not much of a “talk-about-the-weather” kinda of gal.
So, I said to the man’
“Cool! You’re a seeker”, I said smiling. He looked in my eyes and I could see he saw familiar recognition of someone else who had been in enough pain to do the hard work. He told me more of his story – falling in love with a women, moving to Egypt, caught in the political uprising, converts to Islam, freaks out, comes back home. Now shaken and still trying to find his answers in another person.
It’s all part of the trip we’ve all done it. But at some point you realize that what you are seeking can’t be found outside yourself.
The man’s eyes fly open…”Yes!” he says. “Of course you understand – you’re an artist”.
Yes I am, and so are you.
Everyone is an artist and is seeking. In fact it is our most important job in life to help others get their feet under them and do what it is they are meant to do. The best way to do that is to walk your talk and follow your heart.
Because the issue of depression has been top headlines lately, we have been talking allot about how to be responsible for our emotional state, which has led me to really see that people who “follow their hearts” may have troubles, may have “hard times”, may have challenges abounding – but they are happy. You have to wring every last drop of life out of this life – and we who are relegated to the classifications of “crazy artist, depressive, bi-polar” whatever – are the souls brave enough to step outside of the box and choose the unworn path.
I marvel when I meet someone who says to me that they are “not creative”.
What does this mean? Did you stop breathing?
Everyone creates…all day all the time. When you got up this morning you made a choice…you got out of bed. This is where your “creativity” began. Every thought and choice you make after – is a separate creation. What you choose to do with it is entirely up to you.
We can create art, music, writing, food, wood working, architecture – those are obvious acts of creation.
We can create relationships, environments, situations, and futures. Having depression means being responsible for the emotions we bring into our lives. I don’t mean controlling the uncontrollable, but being aware when life is pulling your attention here and there is the key to a serene and amazing existence. In order be really responsible for our selves and our emotional health – it is important to know that every thought we have creates SOMETHING.
The ying and yang of it…
… resentment will CREATE heartache
…anger will CREATE turmoil
…violence will CREATE retribution
…Obsession with material gain will CREATE anxiety
…self absorption will CREATE loneliness
Everything you do say think and believe is an act of creation.
An act of Compassion will CREATE peace
…of Love will CREATE fellowship
…of faith will CREATE miracles
…of generosity will CREATE abundance
…selflessness will CREATE personal fulfillment
After I met the man who told me he could not find his “inner artist” I met a young boy only nine years old who had been blind since birth and was discovered by his camp councillors playing guitar on his lap. They videotaped him and put his song on Youtube and within a few days the video had gotten over 50,000 hits. So they invited him to play at the end of the set of the big headline act of the day.
Ego is all that holds back creativity. The bad ego – the one that tells you everything is about YOU you you you you.
Imagine meeting an egoless being? It is very rare.
But that’s what the little boy was in essence. He child was the opposite of the creatively constipated man I had met earlier. He existed simply as unhinged creativity – music on legs…
No ego. No self – only music.
The magic began when he first arrived and he emerged from his limo that the festival had gotten for him to ride in, all beautiful and smiling. And immediately looking for something to play, body swaying rhythmically. I noticed he was holding a machine to his ear – music emerge from it as he rocked happily back and forth. He approached the table in front of the artists entrance, just a regular white plastic patio table. He couldn’t see the emerging crowd of curious spectators and artists were watching, now quiet, no one quite sure what to say or do. All these “big blues stars” – rendered momentarily mute and caught in rapt attention. The boy begins to bang on a plastic table finding a rhythm – rap tap tap bang rap tap tap bang …. The surrounding musicians couldn’t hold themselves back and soon one guy is singing beside him, another (my own drummer) is tapping out a complimenting double beat smiling widely beside the boy – looking like he might have at the same age. My owns hands found a big blue recycling bin and soon the best show was taking place outside the tent where the big bands were playing. Rollin and Tumblin, garbage cans, tapping feet, singing voices – and a boy smiling as wide as a crescent moon. He found his happy place – and brought us all along with him! This was transferred enlightened music – a real miracle.
I dubbed him little Blues Buddha.
I also realize that the man who had not yet found his creation – was also Buddha – a teacher. We need to be in both places to find where we want to stand.
I feel so lucky to have a chance in this life to completely be myself in all my creative weirdness. People think I am a great singer when they see us perform, but really what it is is I have been blessed with being surrounded by people who let me know clearly that I can do absolutely ANYTHING, and they will support me. I think saying Im grateful is abit of an understatement.
Instead I will use gratitude as a verb and keep trying and doing and creating and moving forward. And if I am lucky, I will always keep in my mind the face of the Little Buddha who was all soul – as I trudge my own creative path.
When we all find our creative space like this boy did – when people individually find peace inside themselves and a place to express through some form of creation (“making something new that has not been made before”) only THEN will the world experience global peace. One person and one life at a time – this is our responsibility and joyful obligation towards ourselves first – and each other.
I think there is math in everything and so for fun, I am working on an easy to remember mathematical formula to understand why LIFE’S ups and DOWNS are completely necessary to your survival if you are a musician.
I CALL IT THE MUSIC-HAPPINESS FACTOR:
First please understand these meanings:
(G)M = great music
(B)M= bad music or bowel movement
T = Truth therefore -T = dishonesty
Remember your high school algebra? Refresher rules…
- A number in FRONT of a letter makes the letter that much BIGGER! for example 20B= 20 x B
- We always assume there is a 1 in front of the letter…it is invisible…but it is there…shhh…:) don’t argue.
- Is this getting weird? Is your brain bleeding? Did you know you use less than like 4% of it…hmmm
GM is made from an adequate amount of L which CAUSES E which of course inspires the musician to create M. If the musician has (-)E then her ability to create M is actually increased and made positive since a negative carries though the function and resultingly, positive music is created…
for example, the universal formual for the Blues:
L+(-E) = -M
WHERE -M = BLUES.
Which is actually the same as saying –E=M/-L
But we all know that music which is divided by LIFE becomes very hard to play.
If a musician does not have adequate +L and +E so L+E then she will become Cr because of Dr.
This awesome breakthrough means that if the afflicted musicians can become aware of their Dr and Cr then they can switch it to the other side so the whole thing can result in GM.
this means that although Dr and CR can contribute to the creation of M they cant just stay where they are and expect a different result.
Awareness and shifting emotions – being accountable for how we feel – is how we are able to move –E TO –L AND CREATE A POSITIVE OUTCOME.
-E(-L) = M
In order to calculate what kind of music will result from having difficult life experiences which result in negative emotions, we must move LIFE over to EMOTIONS and let them be together so MUSIC can be positive.
By shifting and being aware of rebalancing difficult life experiences by moving them from one side of the equation or the other, for example, (-L) negative life experiences to the resulting (-E) challenging emotions (eg: anger, resentment, fear, etc) you cause a natural POSITIVE connection (good music) between L+E since the double negatives render each other positive. Right?
I repeat – good music HAS NEVER come from sane people.
So we know that life can cause E which can make us all Cr and cause Dr but if you add M it will naturally subtract Dr then you get G-D = Happiness.
My left brain is now bleeding.
This morning I fed the horses – its a beautiful day. In Canada we get maybe 25 days like this – clear sunny cool. Birds are singing in this constant perfect cadence – it plays like a mediation song as I go about doing my work. I fill buckets and say good morning to each of my herd. They all have very different personalities and different ways of greeting me.
Did you know horses liked music? I didn’t either, until UI had my own farm. When a horse is sick you will try anything in your power to make them feel better, and so over time I discovered that each of my horses has a certain song or types of sounds they like. Some like silenbce. They don’t want us chattering in their faces all the time. Others, especially younger ones like summer, like singing – in her case I always sang her “Summer Lovin” from the grease album – so now when she hears this song she comes running from anywhere to find me. I love that.
In the past three years my most special time I have to admit has been with Otis my overly tall gangly love machine of a quarter horse,.
Otis came to me through a friend who had kindly adopted him from Texas even after the vets there declared that he had navicular disorder. She has a huge heart and he was truly a “big gentle giant” as his sale advertising said. What the seller didn’t tell anyone was that Otis had been so gentle and SO perfect, they had overused him and probably destroyed his feet in the meantime.
In Otis’s case, he is the victim of what humans like to see as esthetically pleasing in a horse. Over time, we have bred quarter horses to have small tiny delicate looking feet- not big and clunky like they should be. Otis is huge 16″3′ meaning he needs MORE of a base to stand on. But he doesn’t have that – so the bones inside his front hooves are twisted and breaking causing him daily and now in th4e past two days ridiculous amounts of pain.
I have made the decision to have him put down tomorrow at 4:00 and today feel like hell.
Let me tell you about Otis…
Otis is my friend.
I am a rare a very fortunate soul to have had him in my life. Most people I imagine never have that kind of intimacy and absolute trust and love with another living being never mind something as awesome and created with “ALL SOUL” as a horse.
The horse of my life..the one you dream of when you’re a little girl.
I never dreamed of a “specific” horse physically.. like big and black or white and shiny…I loved them, all and didn’t care what they looked like really. I dreamed of the ULTIMATE relationship I would have with my horse – he would follow me and want to be with me all the time. I didn’t dream of riding and ribbons like the other girls and boys in my riding classes. I dreamed of a horse that would BE with me – and magical fairy tale like relationship a soulful understanding and connection. Like Bucephalus and Alexander something extraordinary.
I am so lucky. Otis was even better than all that.
He was with me through my mothers illness, problems in my marriage, being alone – Otis was there. He single handedly got me through this winter and the incredible depression – – I had Otis. His condition is what made me go outside every day, work with him, keep him moving for nearly four years now. Otherwise I may still be languishing in bed.
He loves and adores all humans but especially my mom. He would walk with us when she was in a wheelchair. He was the most gentle safe loving perfect listener. He never interrupted or told me what he thought he knew I just had to talk things out. And when I cried just TOO much – he would rap himself around me like a perfect blanket of love. God Ill miss him and our many hours spent in his stall, brushing him and just humming happily…
He is a grand champion line bred, in Texas he is Pine Zippo Bar something or other…blah blah blah – they tell me. Both grandfathers were most winning quarter horses in the history of quarter horses in USA. Why does this matter ? well because – humans bred him for humans – they were not thinking about the horse. .
I have tried meds, no meds, shoes, no shoes…walking, stall rest…all of it. I have gone as far as praying over his foot. I have held his leg on my lap and begged the sky. I must have looked like a lunatic in my field on my knees begging.
But my friend Otis is in terrible pain and so it is in my power to relieve him of it.
I wonder that we can’t do this for humans…
I saw my vet today and cried all over him. Poor guy. He has had to put up with me for so many years. But again – he is the most HUMAN of all the vets I know. He comes to my fundraisers, quietly always supporting those who would work hard for their horses. He doesn’t like killing them I saw today the years had not in fact hardened him – this made me feel good. I need only LOVE to be present when we do this to my horse,
I have not put many horses down in my life. My first horse to die was Ranger – Masters old parted. I was inconsolable for at least 6months.
BY time has passed and I am a real farmer now – not just a suburban throwback hoping to have a pony and a larger garden.
I am a real farmer now.
My hands are hard like leather. I like them like that. It hurts less when I cut them on baling twine.
My back is sore – because I did a good days work.
My feet are permanenelty black with dirt – cause that’s the way we roll in my garden.
I’d rather smell like midnight in the pastures than midnight in paris…:)
I am a real farmer now.
But my heart doesn’t seem very “tough” or farmerish today – I wish it would take a lesson from my hands…
When you work on a farm, you are CONSTANTLY in the middle of life and death.
Death and birth are the same. I feel sorry for people who are not aware of this. Death is not so scary. But living disconnected from nature and the reality of the earth like most people do – is very scary to me.
Death is an opening – a space for something living to come in.
I am not afraid that Otis is going to DISAPPEAR. Nothing disappears. If you work in nature – you know that very well. IO don’t know allot of farmers who fear death – their own or others.
We leave that to the city people who believe we are all separate living things.
But death is hardest on the living. I will be lieft5 here…while Otis traipses off to go see my mom and everyone else I love who is on the other side.
I KNOW he will be there for me when its my time to “ride off”…
But holy shit this is hard.
Thanks for reading. Please hug your animals and all the living creations you love tonight.
I love you buddy…
Do you blog?
For some people blogging is a central theme to their day. Blogging as a sub-culture has emerged from the depths of online living. I read a few blogs here and there but not many. In fact, I wouldn’t actually consider myself a “blogger” like some I have seen; you know the ones who take selfies with their French toast actually have the ability to write 750 words on why it relates the second coming of the messiah or something deeply philosophical. That’s a talent I just don’t have. Not that I couldn’t see myself becoming an obsessive overly-committed blogger if I don’t stay conscious; I have my addictive tendencies just like everyone else.
OK…I will admit to you that when something fun happens I no longer just think simply to myself;
“Oh…that was fun”.
No no… now fun involves a follow-up –
Take a picture…write a blog – a poem, a song…?? hunh?
“Oh..I have to post this!” God. I wonder what my grandmother would have thought about all this?
Sometimes we get so busy writing about our lives that we arent actually living them. When I grew up, life was lived in real-time. Oh brother…now I sound like my parents.
…when you had “issues”, big or small, they stayed at home! You didn’t post them or share them or even discusss them with someone who lived two blocks away, never mind the djembe player you met online three months ago who lives in Mali. Back in “the day” neighbours on either side of you were only privy to what they could hear from the yelling through slightly cracked open windows. But now, with the online culture we exist in, people clear across three continents know when you had a fight with your husband even before it has ended! Not so long ago, there was a sense of “minding our own business” and there were rules! The rules were expressly told to us and if we folowed them – everythign would be ok. I suppose this kind of living was comforting in one way but more likely it was incredibly isolating, lonely and inherently dishonest.
Online living is causing us to get all mixed up like a gigantic cultural soup. We are living and learning and exchanging some pretty intimate details about our lives and how we deal events of living like death, divorce, children, parents ,relationships, emotions, understanding. These issues cross al cultural boundaries and even history and bind us all together in commonality.
But are we so focused on giving the world that perfect image of us – that idyllic selfie – that we forget to tell the truth about who we are or how we are feeling?
Anyways…who tells the truth anymore? Are we busy trying to give the world our best face? And why should we even bother to blog? Isn’t constantly writing about yourself some weird form of narcissistic self-obsession?
Sherwin Nuland would disagree. He was a brilliant professor from Harvard that said “The more personally you write, the more universal your writing becomes”. That coupled with what I read by the Dalai lama yesterday that said something like there should be no difference between your personal life and your private life. That would be dishonest. Not that I believe that we should all be sharing our deepest inner craziness all day – but there is something very helpful in the honest relating of how we deal with life. Sometimes its just nice to hear that you’re not the only one going through the crazy shit we all go through.
Personally, I find it exceptionally difficult to come to the page when I am in the deepest depths of human misery. I have been pretty silent since my mother died especially once I realized that the people reading my blog weren’t just anonymous readers from lands far away, but more likely to be my family and friends. Grief is just not pretty. And all of that is so much easier to see in hindsight.
My conclusion – its better to keep talking out loud and sharing our stories- even if its only to yourself…a one woman blog? Whatever – share what you are experiencing. Life is hard enough – making what is hard useful which kind of takes the edge off it all.
There is nothing more magical
than being in the barn
right before a torrential spring rain.
Horses munching on green hay,
The sweet smell of grass starting to rise up ,
Birds in a frenzy announcing the impending shower.
It feels like healing.
The announcement of new life
all over and everywhere around
It releases all of the sludge
from the season of icy indifference.
Maybe my heart is waking up?
My phone was DINGING off the hook from Facebook messages of people asking me what my Secret was to quitting smoking. Quitting smoking for me is like the opposite of committing suicide…and that’s abit heavy to explain.
It began when I had put in a status update about how grateful I felt for the unbelievable positive changes in my life resulting from stopping smoking. I quit publically using Facebook and since so many people had been so encouraging to me I was brimming with gratitude and wanted to let them know I was still moving forward.
So now everyone wanted to know how I did it. How was I going to explain this?
They say cigarette smoke is a harder addiction to drop than heroine and just like everyone else I was incredibly addicted. I could smoke through anything and nothing was enough to get me to quit. I would “try”, but never for long and never totally honestly. I was with my mother while she suffered through treatments for lung cancer and I smoked. I felt like a true asshole standing outside the hospital having a cigarette while she was inside hooked up to chemotherapy machines.
Sometime in mid winter I had developed a bronchial cough that was so chronic that I had begun spitting up blood. But still I smoked.Finally I was absolutely forced to go to the doctor. My cough had gotten so bad that my lungs would seize up and seemingly just refuse to take in air which was pretty scary and secretly I was pretty sure I already had lung cancer. I think this kind of thinking stops allot of people from quitting but no one wants to admit it.
On the way to the doctor I fished around for my cigarettes and realized I had forgotten them at home. I noticed that strangely, was a huge RELIEF. My reaction is what surprised me. Normally forgetting cigarettes would cause either anxiety if none were within a reasonable distance, or annoyance because I would have to detour and find a store. Relief. I didn’t want to smoke.
I told the doctor honestly what I thought, and asked for patches.
1- I think using every smoking cessation help tool available to you is AWESOME. Screw cold turkey if you can’t do that. The hard part about quitting was changing my behaviours. The physical part is not so bad – its ll the things I would associate with smoking. Like – finishing ANYTHING…requires a cigarette. Dinner, work, a set, a chapter, grocery shopping – you smoke after these things. Being aware and “one step ahead ” of my cravings was important for me., BE a wimp – take the drugs. I have never heard of anyone say they just couldn’t get away from PATCHES…
2- Don’t let people tell you quitting smoking is HARD. That’s bullshit. Dying of cancer is HARD.
3- Don’t ignore your cravings – they will really suck for three days – address them. tell them to fuck off. relly this worked for me…maybe a bit Unhippie and aggressive of me but…hey – DO WHAT WORKS!! Those stupid cravings had been bossing me around for over 30 years…and I was annoyed!
I am stronger then my body today…and this feels GREAT. It is possible for everyone to develop a mentality that your body is allowed to have a craving – but you don’t need to listen to it. Working with animals can help with the development of this mentality.
4- Be really healthy. It feels good to be nice to yourself for once.
5- Tell the entire planet. LOUDLY. Accept their help.
6- Pray and meditate. Pray for help. Meditate for answers. Seriously. Try it.
7- Be loud about your GRATITUDE – tell everyone each new amazing things you discover about not smoking. Your lungs feel good, you have energy, body hurts less, clothes smell good, random hot guys are smelling you – wait..no that can’t apply to everyone. 🙂 But having fun with it is important! THIS is the mental ticket to staying quit for me SO FAR. When it gets hard, I use Facebook to SCREAM what I AM grateful for and I always get such encouraging words and thoughts – it sure doesn’t hurt and it encourages others to look at getting healthy too.
So when you ask me this “secret” and I think in whatever way you come to it, the “secret” to quitting smoking is wanting to be kinder to yourself. It sounds simple, but it’s not necessarily so for most people. I can only tell you what worked for me, and this was simply that one day I began to see that what I did to myself flowed outwards and it was important to me to live more kindly towards myself. But no one can tell you what will work for you. No book, no guru, no laser hypno-drug therapy. You have to WANT TO LIVE – for you. For yourself – because you love he people in your life.
The Secret – you already knew.
Please share your stories with us if you’d care to.
After what has been a banner year for bad news and catastrophic events both personally and globally, I am feeling a sudden fresh breeze of potentiality rushing around the corner. Today is the day we say goodbye to 2013 and its time for another letting go – a change of tides. New Years this year for me feels like a fresh start.
Different cultures celebrate the calendar at different times. The Chinese New Year only begins at the end of January, hailing in what will be the Year of the Green Wood Horse. I am born a fire horse and they say you do best in the year that represents your own birth animal. Since wood helps fire to burn…I am going to ROCK 2014! This is MY year! And it’s about bloody time. But I am old enough to know that happiness is not a given – it takes work, commitment, dedication and a plan. And this is the work I am very willing to do this year – My only resolution is to rediscover JOY. Big happy awesome bountiful JOY. For someone like me – this is can be a tall order full of the necessity of “unlearning” and de-objectifying.
Let’s look at where we live…
North America is the wealthiest continent, most developed, most industrialized modernized and socialized. It also has the highest rate of mental illness. There is a direct correlation between the wealth of a nation and unhappy people. How is it that the more wealthy we are, the more unhappy we become and yet we still seem to prioritize chasing the almighty dollar in the hopes of finding the elusive happiness chip? We think the next pill, next drug next relationship, next job next paycheck will be our ticket. We medicate away our emotions and have no cultural system in place to teach each other how to deal with the regular changes, ups and downs and emotions of life. We certainly aren’t teaching these important skills to our kids as we seem to be still busy trying reinventing the ancient scholastic “industrial era” three R’s (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic), we are developing a generation of detached soulless children with an unerring sense of entitlement – but to what? We are rich materially beyond belief – and we are miserable. And we are teaching our kids to be just like us while we medicate them as well.
A recent poll by CNN suggests that more than 1/10 people are taking antidepressants in the United States. This means that the rate of depression has increase by nearly 400% since the 1980’s. And what are we doing about this? Not a thing. We are making money. The multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical industry knows all about this. There is an unquestionable correlation between the focus we have on material acquisition, gaining security in an insecure ever-changing landscape and how mentally unhappy we are.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago suffering from “post partum” depression with my first child. A doctor began giving me these miraculous little pills that would “even me out” he said. Yup they even’d me out alright. I was SO even, that I didn’t play guitar, sing, paint draw or write for 13 years. This is a soulful death sentence for someone like me. It is a wonder I never turned to alcohol or drugs addictively. Instead, I became addicted to emotions. Using drugs or alcohol to manage emotions was actually beyond my reach when I would fall into depression, I could only stand still and be in pain. In time we become habituated to feeling miserable. It seems like a normal state of being – but this isn’t true. Over the years when another “symptom” of unhappiness would arise, my doctor would increase or change the medications. Eventually, nothing worked – in fact they began to create the symptoms they were trying to cure. This went on for nearly 20 years until I was left with only the device of trying to find a way out myself. I am so very lucky to have a supportive and informed tribe and family around me who understands the difference between “a bad day” and depression. Few people actually take the necessary steps to make changes to the way they make decisions and choices in their lives, so the continuing cycle of hopelessness continues – even on the meds.
One day I wondered if people in Africa got depression how did they handled it without access to these drugs. A little research showed me that depression is linked directly to the satisfaction and involvement you have in your own life. Apparently depression is not a concept much discussed in Africa. A sense of community, family involvement, and an active healthy spiritual life seem to be the balancing factors. Having lived in Africa when I was young, all I can recall are hardworking smiling people, who did everything with their families and villages. They worked ate and slept together. Children were part of everything that went on never pushed aside or made to be “seen and not heard”. Play in Africa is just as important as work, and generally, in all the parts fo the world I have travelled to, people don’t work to gain unnecessary material wealth for “security”. In most countries, people work for only enough to be able to come back to their families and communities and have a life together. The focus is much different from we have here. We have too much time to thin about our sad sorry selves here, where ni other countries people are geared towards thinking about the welfare of each other first.
In Costa Rica, I was lucky enough to spend time with native Costa Ricans (affectionately called Tico’s) who invited us into their homes. Aluminum shanty-shack like houses leaning all up against one another like a house of cards. Inside, there were several mattresses on the floor, neatly organized and all the beds made. The man of the house offered us a coke from a small fridge that ran off a generator by the side of the house. He explained that he lived there with his wife, children his mother and sisters ad his nephew. They were 11 in the one bedroom shack.
From my journal…
“Children are playing around an old rusty beached boat beside the house with a one of the local friendly street dogs and outside on the fish-cutters table, a woman is preparing a Grouper while expectant tourists wait for a sandwich fresh from the sea. The children play with a coconut, smiling and rolling it to one another laughing while the dog chases the “ball” and they evade him each time giggling and setting up the next move.
I see many things around me but I see no unhappiness here. Maybe what I see is different from how we live in Canada, perhaps what we would call “poor” – but these people seem so happy, even with all the uncertainty.
I am envious of the children’s freedom to laugh and play and run unfettered. A small boy comes to me and reaches for my hand and asks for some change so he can go get a Popsicle from the man selling them on the beach. I watch as he tears off down the lane calling after his friends to join him. He never considered keeping it all for himself. Amazing. Apparently 5 dollars American will buy the whole place Popsicles – I so enjoy watching the kids smiling faces. I feel very rich.”
I have travelled around the world and have seen poverty such as you could not imagine. But in truth, no one is poorer than us. We are poor of spirit, poor in community, poor in morals, poor in our connection to each other and most importantly we are bereft of this childlike JOY which seems to exist everywhere where money isn’t.
I have learned allot from books, and people, and school – but none of those things have taught me happiness.
Happiness – Joy – is our natural state of being must occur under all circumstances. The ONLY way to exist in joy is to be present in this moment and when all you can do is survive one day to the next – the present moment is much more alive. North American focus on materialism means we live in a constant state of fear about the future. This is not a life. We take ourselves waaaay too seriously.
2014 is the Year of the Horse – the year of Bountiful Joy!
I wish for each of you that one ay at a time, you find that place inside you where life feels magical and everything seems possible. PLAY MORE!! be silly and have fun – “we’re here for a good time…not a long time”!
I wish for you a year of unexpected treasures, hope, happiness and most of all – I wish for you that you experience all of the blessings your life already has for you in this moment.
A FOCUS ON PERSONAL POWER
THIRD CHAKRA – MANIPURA
Manipura = “Resplendant gem”
Colour : Yellow
Scent : Ylang Ylang, Rose
Gemstones : Yellow gemstones for this Chakra are Amber, Citrine, Yellow Calcite, Fluorite, Golden Beryl, Golden Yellow Topaz, Cat’s Eye, Yellow Celestite, Yellow Jade, Golden Tiger Eye, Lemon Chrysoprase, Yellow Danburite, Iron Pyrite, Yellow Garnet, Yellow Jasper, Yellow Kunzite, Yellow Muscovite, Yellow Sapphire, Yellow Tourmaline and Yellow Rhodonite
RETREAT BASICS FOR MANIPURA
At this retreat we will be discussing the Third Chakra or Manipura which is Sanskrit meaning “resplendent gem”. It is our center of human personal power and the last of the earth bound Chakras.
The horses will work with us to demonstrate how expressions of personal power can be interpreted by and through the subtler bodies of energy which we refer to as chakras. Horses are the first to sense in which way you carry your belief about your personal power. They read everything about you, in one brilliant instinctive shot.
Based on their experience with humans and their experiences with the kind of energy you bring with you, horses will size you up in one second flat. As prey animals this is their primary survival mechanism – evaluating quickly and efficiently who is friend or foe. And like all prey animals who rely on quick flight instinct to survive, horses seem sometimes a little paranoid but it is the quickest and the most instinctive of course, that will survive. So another lesson we learn from horses is to be very conscious of our intentions and body language when we enter into any communication, be it with a horse or human. From within, your sense of power is exuded by the way you present yourself both physically an energetically to the horse and sub-consciously to humans. Horses are more immediately aware of you because they are present in this moment, not caught up in past or future thinking. Because horses already speak an ancient and subtle language with every part of their bodies, they integrate this understand of body, intention an energy into their evaluation.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a horse will automatically be nervous with you if you are nervous with it. Horses give you indications WAY before they act in an aggressive manner, and even this they only do when they feel cornered or unable to flee if necessary. I call it Standard Equine Claustrophobia.
I often see people when entering the round pen who are not accustomed to being around horses with their shoulders slumped forward, like a subconscious wish to protect their center from what can be a daunting experience given the sheer size and for most people, their behavior which can seem very alien at first. However, what the horse is most adept at sensing is the intention you bring with you into your interaction.
Many people ask me if horses will react aggressively if they bring fear with them. Horses are not predators – they are prey. Therefore, if you bring fear, they sense it as a type of insecurity, and they may find they want to move away from you, unsure whether you are the source of the insecurity or not. It is not the normal behaviour of a horse to lash out to protect itself, except in very rare and specific instances, such as stallion territorial behaviour.
Ears pinned flat on the head are a good indication that your horse is insecure and doesn’t want you close. Never try to give a horse affection when it is in this state. In order to show your horse SECURITY you have to demonstrate leadership to him, and that sometimes means being aware of fear, but not allowing it to make choices for you!
In terms of horse behaviour, one with an unbalanced third chakra is constantly displaying insecurity. It is hyper reactive and overly aware of its environment. It fears that it is powerless; and so is constantly seeking to avoid or evade something. This would be a very difficult horse to ride or train. A good horse for riding is one that has a balanced sense of its partnership with humans. Horses that are well-balanced in the third chakra carry themselves well and are not in constant need of aids from the rider, as they tend to be more in the flow of the interaction between the two, and are less absorbed by paranoid vigilant watch which comes from a fearful sense of powerless over the environment.
Humans are the same way, and horses are a very effective way of, excuse the irony – putting the cart before the horse. Sometimes, we can become more conscious of our behaviour before actually changing our mind about how we feel about something. In other words, we can ACT AS IF we have personal power, to help us discover where our true power lies.
In working on our third chakra, horses encourage us to have to EXUDE this outwardly before we may completely feel it inwardly.
In this exercise, we enter the round pen with a horse, mindful of the sensations in our bodies. Identifying any tension, we release it to our breath, before our interaction. Then, we release the loving energy in the center of our being, to the horse. At this moment, we are not allowing our fears or insecurities to make a choice for us. This is very powerful and empowering all at once. We ask our body to exude a balanced sense of personal power, perhaps sometimes before we actually feel that authentically within ourselves.
In this way, we create a new experience for our brains. A new neural pathway, where we have taken over possession of our conscious intention and maintained a different reaction to a fear response. This is a very healthy thing for everyone to do.
You can take this new way of understanding an old feeling out with you into your non-retreat world in so many ways!
Your boss calls you into her office, and you feel a terrible foreboding. Maybe she didn’t like that last report? Maybe you are the next in the lineup of layoffs? Who knows? But often we are quick to assume a negative outcome at such times.
Yu can use your retreat experience to change the way you perceive stress and anxiety in your life. Instead of being anxious or worried, you can find where the feeling of anxiety exists in your body – in your solar plexus third chakra. Place your dominant hand on your this place and breathe in through that space, remembering to place your body in the same confident way that you had it with the horse you first met. Your shoulders proud and back. Your head high. And smile. It releases happy endorphins in your brain. Recalling your experience will help to trigger the same positive response feeling as when you were here at the retreat in connection to the horses. Every one of our experiences is recorded in our bodies. It is up to us to access that and use it to help us negotiate the waters of our lives more effectively and joyfully.
The flow and health of the third chakra can directly impact your ability to put good ideas and plans into action. If this Chakra is healthy and spinning freely, you are making creative decisions and feel as though your choices move you forward. You take good care of yourself in body mind and spirit. You are enthusiastic about your life and proactive about the positive choices you make on your own behalf. You demonstrate a good balanced sense of self.
The Manipura Chakra lies in the triangular niche at the base of your rib cage – the solar plexus or zyphoid process, in fancy medical circles.
You can visualize it as a yellow spinning orb of energy, rotating often they say in a clockwise direction. The speed or fluidity of the spinning is our concern here. If it is not flowing as it should, this is when we encounter problems such as feeling powerless in our lives or relationships, powerless over our choices and circumstances. We forget that everything is a choice, when this energetic center is not spinning as it should.
There are things you can do to increase the flow and vibrancy of each chakra.
~ Wear the colour represented by the chakra – any kind of yellow will do.
~ eat foods that support the nutritional requirements needed to optimize this chakra:
Granola and Grains: pastas, breads, cereal, rice’s, flax-seed, sunflower seeds, etc.
Dairy: milk, cheeses, yogurt
Spices: ginger, mints (peppermint, spearmint, etc.), Melissa, chamomile, turmeric, cumin, fennel
SCENTS: ~ surround yourself with scents such as Ylang Ylang and Rose
Here are some quick questions to ask yourself regarding your third chakra:
1 – STRONGLY DISAGREE 2 – DISAGREE 3 – NEUTRAL 4- AGREE 5- ABSOLUTELY
- Are you easily irritated – do you have an explosive temper?
- Have you found that you have an Inability to prosper, no matter how hard you try?
- Do you tend to prosper at the expense of others?
- Have you ever made yourself feel better by putting another person down?
- Do you have difficulty in taking responsibility for your actions and the consequences?
- Do you alternate between feeling immensely powerful, only to feel like a victim the next moment?
- Do you lack willpower?
- Have you ever suffered from ulcers or diabetes (sugar imbalances)?
- Do you ask yourself why am I here (in this life)?
- Do you like yourself?
- Are you nervous in social groups?
- Do you think people believe negative things about you?
- Finish this sentence: “when I grow up I want to….”
- Are you self-motivated?
- Do you achieve most of your goals?
- Do you have a strong drive to live and do you feel that you have a right to exist?
- Are you connected to your emotional self and do you understand that feeling and expressing your emotions are your right?
- Did your family of origin make you feel capable of doing anything?
- Does your belief system include knowing that a higher power exists and do you use your personal power to openly discuss your beliefs
- Do you always communicate your inner truths and are you open and honest with others regardless of the situation?
- Are you afraid if you act confidently that others will think you are “full of ego”?
- Do you know what you want?
- Have you ever suffered with anxiety?
1- Meditate and colour one of the Mandalas below as you focus on these questions and see what answers come to you.
2- Answer the questions using the numbered scale. Don’t overanalyze! Your past is only a reference point for current understanding.
3- Choose 2 or more questions that resonate as important to you – write on these in your journal. Share what you want with group.
4- Share with (your) group. (can be done in circle or individuals groups.
It’s all about personal power – which begins with caring for yourself. How well you take care of you, is very relevant in this chakra. Your ability to shine forth is directly impacted by how much energy and intention you have invested into developing yourself from the.
Power is defined as “the ability to influence people”. (wiki).
By maximizing the flow of energy in this central portion of your body, you release the possibility of blockage and are able to enter the higher realms of subtle understanding and wisdom brought to us by the study of chakras and the lessons of the horse.