The Ever-Present Guide that is You

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

There was one workshop at the fair  I attended last weekend that I found to be truly genuine. The speaker wasn’t trying to sell us anything other than the belief in ourselves. He was an unassuming man. A geriatric physician dressed in understated clothes. He had no props, not even a poster. It was just a man beyond middle-age, standing before us talking about death. And life. Mostly life. Life that goes on despite death. That inner Life that is ever-present but not often heeded amid the cacophony of every day “life.”

He had pretty much seen it all. As a caregiver of the elderly, this sixty-five-or-so-year-old physician had born witness to many a death, but also the transition stages before the body dies, and to people who had “died” and come back to life. Despite his work experiences, the doctor was not there to convince us about any specific type of afterlife, instead he was there to demonstrate that we all have an essence within that is never lost.

An essence that comes from the place of a wisdom and greater knowing that many of us choose to forget to access. As a proponent of meditation, the physician did nothing more than demonstrate the inner wealth that can flow from a mind stilled into the place of greater knowing. There is no cost, but much to gain.

It was a breath of fresh air.

Thousands of individuals had flocked to that fair over the course of its two days, and my guess is that most were seeking some sort of outer validation, a special elixir to fix what ails them, or a message from outside of them that they could, if they chose to, find the answer from within.

The night before the fair, I had a dream. I was in a room with a healer who told me three things. First she told me that my body needed more calcium and magnesium, and then she demonstrated how I could energetically heal my thyroid. When I told my husband the next morning that I needed more of these two minerals in my diet and why, he laughed. “At least you’re listening to someone.” You see he knows how stubborn I can be, and he also knows how wise the body is. The wisdom we seek is always within, we just need to learn how to listen to it.

The answers I seek or need often come to me in my dreams. My higher self, or inner wisdom, which took the form of the “healer” in my dream, knows how to reach me. Yours does too, or at lest it’s trying its best to. As the physician at the workshop demonstrated to us, that wisdom is always there, but the mind needs to tune into it. It needs to quiet the outer chatter and find the frequency of the truth that is you. Amazing things can happen when you listen to it. Miracles unfold. Life becomes not only meaningful, but magical. It all just starts to make sense.

I’ll confess, I don’t always tune in. Every day. Mediation is not a habit for me. I have dreamtime, but in the waking hours I’ve learned to listen to. When I go for walks, nature speaks to me with birds and animals. Even plants carry messages. So do our computers, TVs, phones, and radios, which can be tuned into the frequency of our inner wisdom. Have you ever turned on one of them and found the answer you were seeking in a song or image? Or maybe it was a word spoken just at the right time.

Although there are oh so many benefits to engaging in a daily meditation practice, where the body and mind are sitting in silence, open to receive, life itself can be a mediation. Each breath, when breathed with awareness becomes open to receive. Each moment, a lesson to learn and engage in the classroom that is life. Your life. Not your neighbor’s, yours. That inner voice is speaking to you, always, trying to get you to tune into it and listen. It is beautiful and wondrous because it is always in the frequency of truth.

The Business of Spirituality and its Slippery Slope

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

I spent Sunday at the region’s largest “holistic health” fair and came home exhausted and relieved the day was finally over. That isn’t how I’m supposed to feel. These events are meant to inspire seekers and to provide them with tools for unwrapping the gifts of their true selves. In theory, anyway.

I don’t go to fairs often, whether they are spiritual/psychic fairs, carnivals, or something in between. My introverted nature finds crowds hard to deal with and the empath in me has trouble shielding from all the myriad energies that fill these spaces. Yet, I was intrigued by this expo that I’d heard so much about, and I had two friend who wanted to go.

As often happens, the red flags went up before I left the house. There was that strangely familiar feeling that the day would not play out comfortably…

Spirituality and holistic living has become a big business. You can sell your spirit to someone almost as easily as you can buy a can of soda. And, sometimes I wonder if the one can be just as bad for our wellbeing as the other. In the midst of the authentic healers, readers, and vendors, there are the charlatans who tout their wares with a conviction that their offerings will change you and the world. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the real from the fake. The ego can be a trickster. It is often unaware of itself.

Then there is the issue of the seeker’s addiction. You can get lured into the business of “spirituality” as easily as you can a casino in a search for the pot of gold they both offer. I know people who attend fairs on a regular basis in the hope of finding that magical thing they can’t quite define because the cure is never outside of them. It’s easy to get sucked into the belief that someone else has the answer you seek. I’ve found myself on both sides, and it’s not easy to balance it with the larger truth of life.

After the three of us got our wristbands and settled our ticket admissions, we made our way to the workshops housed in another building. Although we spend some time amongst the vendors in the middle of the day, it would have been impossible to visit every cramped booth. There were nearly 300 of them, and it was enough of a challenge to find the two that housed friends I wanted to make sure I saw.

I attended five workshops on Sunday, and found most of them to be, at least in part, strangely depressing. Halfway through one, I left because I could no longer subject myself to the presenter’s aggression. Instead of a heart-felt passion, ego reigned through his voice with the tone of reprimand and anger. Ironically, the presenter was talking about water, using Dr. Emoto’s work for some examples. I was left wondering if he was aware that his own words and tones were most likely distorting the water in his body more than the water he was so worried about drinking. It was, if nothing else, a reminder to check in with my own thoughts and emotions, which were tipping toward unease and irritation the longer I lingered in the room.

In another room, I listened to a healer I really, really wanted to admire because he seemed to have an access to the mysteries of Egypt that have always intrigued me. Instead, I found myself leaving the room after the workshop had ended wondering if I had just sat through a marketing promotion. It felt uncomfortably akin to a timeshare presentation I once found myself roped into. I did’t bother to count the number of times we were told, with various words and demonstrations, how much greater his healing methods were than your average because of the “codes” he had created. There was a price tag, of course, if you wanted to discover the power of the codes for yourself.

Once again, I was left feeling frustrated by the ego’s tainting of something that should have been beautiful. Although I don’t have a problem with people making a living, we all need to, a system of internal checks-and-balances is often needed, especially when it comes to the business of selling spirituality.

And so it was that I found myself at the end of the day feeling more irritated than enlightened. I couldn’t wait to get home to my family and the quiet warmth of my house. I found revival in the “mundane.” Eating the salmon, heated up in our “toxic” microwave that my husband had cooked hours earlier, alongside takeout Chinese food. It’s amazing what gratitude can do for you. I soon felt more revived and nourished than I had from my lunch of delicious Ayurvedic Indian food as I settled onto the couch with the dogs. When I turned on the TV, I show on ancient Egypt just happened to be on.

Later, I found home again inside the pages of The Sun and the Serpent and thought about how grateful I was to have found this book through Sue and Stuart’s writing. And I thought about how much more comfortable I am roaming the ancient landscape of England, or the quiet landscape of the inner self, rather than the frenetic energies of a fair.

The Upside of Hate

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I got discouraged for a moment. Perhaps it was a long moment, but I didn’t count the seconds.  Fear resided inside the words I read, and festering with that fear was hatred. It has become easy to hate these days in a world that appears to be ripping into shreds of immorality. That’s what we’re shown on the surface where we linger with sensationalism. The media prefers to grasp the hand of the monster that lives both inside and outside of us, holding it like it never wants to let go.

I had been scrolling through Facebook, that skewed version of reality where the darker side of humanity is allowed to run amuck with gleeful abandon. A friend was bemoaning a poll forecasting possible results for the next presidential election here in the U.S. The screen was awash with red. I could have pulled myself into her fear, but I decided I’d be better served to let go the hand that would hold me into the netherworld.

I believe there’s an upside to hatred, if we choose to find it. At the core of hatred is an insidious fear that thrives in its deoxygenated environment. It’s a terrible existence. This choosing to “live” in hatred. The fear of the “other,” and the “unknown,” deprives us of life and the soul withers inside its troubled shell. But hatred tells a story, as does the fear behind it. It tells the story of a history that is ours, but one we don’t have to hold onto.

Hatred is a ruse to lure us backwards into the spiral of the abyss. We can stay stuck there, or we can dig through the ruins and discover why the tower keeps collapsing upon itself.  It is a vulnerable journey, which is why we often choose to linger with the discomfort of fear. It yells a power that has no basis in truth, yet we listen to its words thinking that if we heed them we will survive, forgetting about the countless others that will perish. Forgetting that we too will starve for want of light.

But if we listen, really listen past fear to its origins, we get ever-closer to the true self. The self that wants to be healed. The self that wants to be held. The self that desires love. And, our tower begins to crumble its mighty fortress. The walls that would contain collapse. Smoke billows and the fires rage, until the flames abate. It may take a long time to put them out, but herein lies the beauty of creation. The alchemy of self exists inside ourselves. Collectively and individually.

Beneath the angry red screen that tried predict more hatred across the land, I felt the pulse of the vein of life. Life searching to be reborn. It’s been a long time. A really, really long time, since we’ve known how to live in harmony with the life around us, and that inner life that is the self as a part of the whole. Perhaps we need to give ourselves a little more compassion. When we look at the vast and complex journey of our existence in human form, we see the struggle to survive, but also to thrive. And in the searching and breaking down, we can relearn how to balance upon the thread of light that is joy.

Humanity has reached the stage of existence marked by The Tower card in Tarot. Its number is 16 in the major arcana cycle. Balanced on one side by The Devil, and the other, by The Star, The Tower card is the epitome of upheaval. To get to the light of the star, that inner, true light of the self, the devil within and without must be reckoned with. As much as we may fear the devil outside of us, we must come to realize that he only exits because of what is inside. The chains, as the card reveals, are self-imposed. We can choose to live chained to fear, or we can break the fortress and let the light shine through.

Becoming, in essence, naked to the true self, is a vulnerable act. It takes trust, courage, and a surrender in the knowing that love is the truth of the self and of Life.  If we reduce The Tower card down to its integral parts, we arrive at card 1, The Magician and card 6, The Lovers, in the major arcana. The Magician possesses the alchemical magic of the self, The Lovers, of the union of the opposing energies; the yin and the yang that exist in the individual self, as well as the self searching for union with another. If we join the 1 to the 6, to complete the reduction, we arrive at the number 7. Card 7 in the Tarot tradition is The Chariot. Here we see the individual reigning over polarity. The yin energies sit one side of the chariot, the yang on the other. The sun and the moon are in balance both within and without. Over the breastplate of the figure that is self, is a square through which the light of the heart is shining through. The light of the star shines on the crown of the head.

 

The Chariot card is card 7, though. It precedes The Devil, The Tower, and The Star in the cycle of life represented in the Tarot. The choice to reign with the force of the ego or with the peace of inner light is still subject to personal will. The number 7 is that magical number that speaks of transformation. Everything is possible, and so there is the promise of union through alchemy.

This breaking down and collapsing that is so prevalent in our time often feels fueled by hatred and the ego’s need for self-preservation at all costs, but when we look closer, as symbolized in the card, we can also find the light of origin. Lightning strikes the crown of power from the top of the tower and opens the pathway to the divine self. Enlightenment can occur through the upheaval, if the self allows it.

Through the rubble of fear and hatred, there exists around us and within us, so many seeds of this light. Stories of courage and truth abound as voices gain strength with the conviction that love is the essence of life. Young women are stepping into the light of the divine feminine energy in a manner the world has not witnessed for a long time. They bring to us the promise of balance as they break fearlessly the barriers of fear. There is a feeling of warrior energy, a warrior energy fed by the light of truth. Their voices are strong and clear, and the are joined by many others, both male and female, in a dance of union.  It’s our choice, collectively, how to collapse the tower and find the balance of life, but it all begins with the self. The self that stays mired in fear, or breaks the fortress to find the light.

 

The Box That Is Not You

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Photo Credit: Pixabay 

You are not the box, you are what’s inside of it.

At 46 years old I am feeling more limitless than I ever have before. Even as a young child. You see, I never had the freedom of a child unbounded by constraints. And, that is okay. One cannot change the past, and nor does one have to. The freedom to allow the self to break through the barriers of restrictions is not conditional to time, place, or age.  It is, simply, you allowing yourself to be you. To really get to know the you that resides inside the outer representation of the self, and come home to that realization with joy.

“Whatever you’re doing. Keep doing it. You look good. I can tell you feel good,” were the words of a friend of mine as she left my morning yoga class. She also heard my words filled with fear one month ago.

“Do you fly a lot in your dreams?” another friend asked me a few days ago after she heard about my latest flying dream.  There was a wistful note to her words, and I could see the look of longing in her eyes when I told her, “Yes.”

Many adults can remember flying in their dreams at night when they were  children. I don’t. My flying dreams came later, in a steady regularity, after my own children were born. Their births, you could say, birthed my own inner child. But, it’s a been a slow birthing. It has not been smooth and effortless, and it certainly has not happened over night.

I chose the picture I did to introduce this post because to me it is symbolic of the myriad boxes we can choose to carry around in our lives and try to fit ourselves into. There’s not just one, but for most of us there are many. The box of the perfect child. The perfect spouse. The perfect mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent, student, athlete, coworker, employer…you get the picture. So many boxes to contain the essence that is you. Shaped not by your own will, but the will you have given away to another.

Yet, we are not meant to live inside the confines of a box, nor are we meant to jump from one box into another depending upon circumstances. Although we reside in a physical body for a limited amount of time, we are limitless beings here to experience the essence of our truths. We are here to grow and evolve into being. To love and to move, ever more freely into the breath of joy.

The boxed self might conform to a specific ideal, but it is never your truth. When we close in the sides and seal the edges, the light inside is trapped. In an effort to constantly please and conform to a false ideal that is not our own, you not only suffer, the world suffers. Herein lies the irony of the “perfect” self. Although we may believe otherwise, no one is served by the confines of limitations. The free soul living in truth shines with a brightness that ripples through time, space, and age. It is never too late to become it. It is never too late to step out of the box and fly.

Go ahead, give it a try. Imagine your self as a limitless being. Feel it, see it, know it. Joy is yours to find. Reach inside and grab ahold of it. Then, let it go. Feel the expansion that is you. Wholly and completely. Let self limiting believes slip away with the breath. Let old restrictions free their tangle until only you remain. Breathe into that light that is you and know it as truth. Take a good look at you and remember who you are, so when you forget, you can bring it back.

Sitting, for a moment, with Possibility

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It’s Monday morning. The teenagers are off to school, the husband to work. There is a dog on each couch. One beside me, the other off at a forty-five degree angle with her back turned to the edge. In the other room the pellet stove hums through fire and my home is filling with its warmth. Outside, the sun is rising to melt the frost that laces the ground in white, and dry the laundry that I have just hung on the line.  And, somewhere in the midst of trees and bushes the cats roam the early day.

Even though the hours spread before me without a tangible promise, inside the body the heart beats with possibility. It promises nothing but what I make of it. The routine of daily life is laid before me. I know I will walk and feed the dogs at midday. Pick the kids up a few hours later. But the in-between is mine to fill. There are no yoga classes to teach, except the one I will offer to myself after I finish this post.

Already I can see the blue of the mat spread across the wood. My muscles stir cells reaching through memory to begin again anew. An hour to dance with the vessel of form and stretch into the wonder that is life.

I think of the days when I would sit and wait for wonder to find me. An offer of something new through an email or phone call leading me down a path of exploration. Today there are no expectations. No disappointments of no magic beyond the mundane in the tangible. There is only me sitting in the stillness of possibility and the knowing that I have minutes to weave into the creation of hours. Words to follow onto the page and their journeys to explore.

Today brings the promise of the joy of creation. To traveling inside the labyrinth of the self and find the treasure of the seed waiting to sprout. The bud reaching for the touch of light to bloom. Words press me into the shadowlands in search of wonder. They have stories waiting there. Life in stasis, softly breathing as it waits to unfold. And so, I think, perhaps I will write their stories, not knowing what they will tell me yet, or where they will lead me to wander. It doesn’t matter where we will end up. The magic is in the endless opening. The light beckoning in the soft fire of the heart.

 

I dream again of flying, this time to free joy #Dreams

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

On the night of Halloween, I went to sleep, once again, to fly. The dream began in a fairytale landscape inside a forest of haunting beauty. Light glowed golden upon trees dancing with vines as my footsteps led me further into the heart of the wood. There was no fear, only wonder inside of me until I reached my destination. An old victorian house turned into an inn stood in the middle of the fairy woods. I went inside and felt the golden light of the forest disappear with the closing of the door.

“Come with me,” the inner keeper urged, “I will show you to your room.” I followed with reluctance. Each room, when I peered inside, looked old and drab. The bedroom I was offered was not only filled with old things, but it was in need of a good washing. I turned down the bedclothes to show the inn keeper how dirty they were. “I cannot stay here,” I said.

So we moved on. Each room we entered was little better than the one before. “Could you stay here?” he asked of a room that was neat and tidy, but still filled with old things. “I suppose it would do,” I offered in concession.

When he left, the room still felt occupied. I noticed a man and a woman in the corner. Ghosts of the past? I could not say for sure. Except I knew they had to go. And the room, well, I was not going to allow it to contain me. Left alone, I began to fly, clearing the darkness into light with great gulps of air expelled from my lungs and out of my mouth.

And as I flew and expelled the darkness, the house began to expand and grow into an endless maze of rooms. Skipping the lower levels, I zipped up the stairway until I reached the top floor. Here I found a scene of exquisite beauty painted in a mural upon a ceiling the color of a cloudless sky. I flew with joy, following the arch of the sky-like ceiling through an ever-expanding house.

On and on I flew, until I realized they were coming for me. Fear began to creep its darkness over joy. I could hear them approaching. Their angry words filtered up the stairway ever closer in their need to capture the woman who flew when she should be walking. I had no choice but to go down. And so down I went, floor by floor.  But as I flew each level through endless rooms, I exorcised the darkness with my breath.

As my feet touched the ground floor, I realized gravity once again. Although I had evaded capture, surrounding me were the familiar markings of the mundane. All was brown and drab. Ordinary and old. My eyes searched until they found my feet upon the floor and I smiled. “Ha,” I laughed in realization. “Even here I can fly.” And so I lifted my feet and flew, once again, into joy.

Hour later, I walked into my friend Deb’s house and sat at her kitchen island with our friends, Sophia, Adrianne, and Jane. Dressed as a dragon in a purple and green onesie borrowed from my daughter, with silver fairies dangling from my ears, I was filled with a childlike giddiness. “What’s going on, Alethea?” Deb kept turning to look at me with a smile. “Why are you so happy?”

“I don’t know,” I returned her smile. “Maybe it has to do with my dream last night.”

Sometimes we heal in the day time, sometimes we heal at night. Thousands of years ago, we built temples for dreaming and inside we slept to heal our bodies, give clarity to our minds, and find a deeper understanding of the truths of our beings.

For as long as time has been recorded, poets, sages, and inventors have dreamt masterpieces while their bodies slumbered. I wonder how many people really believe that dreams are simply random, nonsensical ramblings of a mind left to wander with abandon?

Even as a young child I was fascinated with dreams. For awhile, I kept a dream journal. Sometimes I would dream an event before it would happen, and wonder how that could possibly be. There is so much more going on while we sleep than many of us realize. Although I cannot say with certainty what every dream means, nor can I recall them all in vivid detail. But, I am certain we dream with purpose. In the landscape of night we live out our fears and our joys, and sometimes we transform through them.

A month ago I felt as though I might be consumed by a fear I could not wholly define. It felt old and deeply rooted, its origins extending beyond this lifetime. The dreams of this past week have felt healing and transformative. There now exists inside of me a core of strength in the place that held that irrational fear. A sense that despite the demons that might howl around me, I will be okay.

 

 

Monday Magic #SoapBubble

Have you ever noticed how life has a way of bringing us joy even when we are immersed in our musings of the trials and tribulations we sometimes believe it is filled with? This morning, I found myself caught inside the web of difficulties after a somewhat trying weekend filled with highs and lows. I was lingering on the lows inside the quiet house of a Monday morning. I had just made some hot porridge and filled it with diced fall pears from the tree in our yard. The almond milk had been poured and a squeeze of amber honey added. Before I sat down to eat, I took the empty pot in which I had cooked my cereal, and carried it over to the sink. That’s when I saw the huge soap bubble sitting on the murky surface and everything inside of me shifted.

The magic of life is always there, patiently waiting for us to see it. I’m so glad I took that moment to breathe it in with my being, through the lens of the soap bubble reflecting the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. At the far edge of the bubble I saw two tiny rectangles reflecting the window above. The image is a bit blurry, as I had to zoom the camera lens quite a lot to capture the movement of the light and colors. Still, I hope you enjoy it too, and it touches your day with magic.