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Friday, March 24, 2017

Inner Dialogue

Self-Talk

Talking to oneself is a recognized means to learn; in fact, self-speak may be the seed concept behind human consciousness. Private conversation with ourselves might represent the preeminent means to provoke the speaker into thinking, modifying behavior, and perhaps even amending the functionality architecture of the plastic human brain. Writing out our private talks with oneself enables a person to 'see' what they think, a process that invites reflection, ongoing thoughtful discourse with the self, and refinement of our thinking patterns...”
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)

Do you talk to yourself? Is there a dual conversation going inside your head most of the time? Do you—the conscious listener—ever tune in? Sometimes our self-talk is just a distraction because it is a critical voice telling us what a stupid schmuck we are; but sometimes, it's a guide. Sometimes, it's the brain at work on problem solving. I find that the self-talk (internal jabber) increases when activities in my outer life speed up. When I have too many things going on, and am trying to do too much, my thoughts get scrambled, and my actions follow. 

Perhaps you've seen this pattern in yourself: You think a thought, and that thought tells you to go and get something you left in the bedroom (or the office, etc), so you walk to the bedroom, but when you get there, you've forgotten what you came to get. Your inner voice is asking, “Now, what did I come in here for?” That happens because between one end of the house and the other, you've entertained five other random thoughts, and in that process, the first thought dropped into the black hole of obscurity in your brain. At least, that's my pattern. Often, I have to go back to whatever I was doing in the first place, and jog my memory of what I needed.

It's a common symptom, and while it may get worse with age, age is not the cause of it. Having too many balls in the air is. I find that making a list, and checking it off, is helpful. Sometimes, when one's brain is wrangling in a two- or three-way internal dialogue, it is also helpful to write down pros and cons, or simply, to write what is being spoken internally, so that it becomes external. Writing activates two sensory modes, visual and kinesthetic, and two inputs are better than one when it comes to sorting and learning. It also helps because you have to stop the frenzied behavior, and sit down to write. We all get into warp-2 hyperspace at times.

In terms of serenity, it is a good idea to monitor self-talk, and stop the destructive voice that criticizes. Affirmation helps. Using affirmative words to purposely input a positive message will sometimes shut down that “stupid schmuck” nonsense. Here is, according to the Science of Mind Magazine (March, 2017), who you really are: “The truth about you is that you are a center of God-consciousness. You are part of the wholeness of Infinite Life. You are a spark of the Divine, a radiance of Universal Intelligence, an emanation of the One Mind. You are an incarnation of Spirit...” Now, don't you feel better already?

                                                              In the Spirit,

                                                                  Jane

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Learn to love...

The Mystery

This life journey has led me to love mystery and not feel the need to change it or make it un-mysterious. This has put me at odds with many other believers I know who seem to need explanation for everything.”
Richard Rohr

Beautiful Spring has arrived! As Richard Rohr puts it, “Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing.” After last year's record heat and drought that caused the death of three trees in my yard, I've been watching the others timidly—glancing out of the corner of my eye to see whether they're showing signs of leafing out. Old trees are like old people—it takes them longer to recover. But most of them, seemingly with great effort, are squeezing out a few leaves. Tenacity is a great mystery. My old friend, Ethel, now 92 is moving into independent living at a local retirement community. Until a couple of years ago, she was backpacking through the Sipsey Wilderness with the Audubon Society for the annual bird count. Like the trees in my yard, she has staying power.

A woman in my church told me about her neighbor, whose twenty year old daughter was just found dead from an overdose of prescription pain killers. So young, so much to live for, cut short. We don't know, do we, how the dice are rolled? Why it is that some live long, and some die young? Yes, lifestyle is a huge factor—but some people, who abuse their bodies for decades, still end up living long, and some do not. Life is a mystery.

In Spirituality Group last night, we talked about change; about this being a time of great change on many levels—climate, politics, religion, migration of peoples—all in flux. When we track back through Earth's history, we know this has happened many times before. It has even happened in some of our lifetimes. Is this movement from light to dark, from peace to war, from feast to famine, the natural ebb and flow of the cosmos? Is it to be expected? Are we humans making progress, moving forward, moving backwards? Lots of big questions. Lots of unknowns.

This life journey is one of capricious events—of celebrations and disappointments, of all manner of things that are not within our control, and that we can not predict. We must be content to live within the mystery. Hopefully, we learn to be at peace with it, and even look forward to what it brings. That forward looking gaze may very well be the secret to longevity.

                                                         In the Spirit,

                                                            Jane

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beginner's Mind

Authority Figures

Try to say that: 'I don't know anything.'...Maybe you could think of yourself as an erased blackboard, ready to be written on. For by and large, what blocks spiritual teaching is the assumption that we already know, or that we don't need to know. We have to pray for beginner's mind. We need to say, with the blind man, 'I want to see.'”
Richard Rohr (Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer)

A young woman at my church called me “an authority figure.” I don't think it was meant as a compliment, so I can only assume that I come across that way. I feel I have “some 'splainin' to do,” as Ricky Ricardo would say. Everyday, when I wake up, I make the coffee, feed the dog, and sit down to write. Some people begin their day by writing in a journal, some people do yoga or meditate, some people pray, some people go for a run. I blog. I listen inside for something that speaks to me—something I need to say to myself, that are issues of mine in need of attention (like coming across as a know it all!). Sometimes a conversation or a discussion from a previous day is still rattling around in my head, or someone has suggested an author, or a book they think I might like. I follow these leads for what speaks to me. And then I write. What I write is intended as “notes to self” for the day. Writing grounds me in a positive way.

That said, I am not an authority on anything except myself. I have studied for fifty years what motivates human beings to do the things we do. I have seventy years of life experience, and I have had some great teachers along the way—some hard teachers, some loving, some filled with grace. If you are fortunate, you have had these, too. And still, I want to learn more from anyone or anything willing to teach me. That is the basis of beginner's mind—being open to the wisdom of others and the universe. What I have learned, such as it is, I want to share. What you have learned, I hope you'll share with me, because I can learn from you.

Being a blank slate is not easy for most of us. I'm happy to say that it gets easier as the years roll by, because we forget so much! (A little age related humor, there.) But it's helpful to not let what you think you already know get in the way of what you might learn that's new. Spirit cannot get through the dense matter of a made-up mind. She is an airy thing, and yet she requires some space in which to move. If you are able to make room for her, she will lead you to your own wisdom. You will become your own, and only, authority figure.

                                                            In the Spirit,

                                                                Jane

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Would you rather be...

Right? Or Happy?

Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable.”
Richard Rohr (Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life)

How hard is it for you to say, “I was wrong.” I made a mistake. I jumped the gun. I shouldn't have said that. And, worst of all, “You were right.” Oh, Lord! Most of us would rather be staked down to a fire ant mound. It's hard. We suffer. At least, I do.

When asked the question, “Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?” most of us, if we're honest, would rather be right. Happiness is such a transitory thing, after all. And some of us are so bull-headed (not naming names) that we'd rather suck pond scum than admit to being wrong. Why is that?

Somewhere in the distant past, (and current present) admitting to wrongness was dangerous. It meant to acknowledge weakness, or ignorance, or stupidity, which gave one's enemies a handle with which to seek retribution. How many times have people suffered unnecessarily, even died, because they put their faith in a big fat lie, and then wouldn't back down. Wars have been launched over such nonsense.

To admit that we're simply wrong, we have to swallow our ego, and for some of us, that's elephant sized. It's a tough gulp. Then, we must “fess-up;” and tell the truth. There may be some hell to pay, for sure. You may have to eat more crow than suits your appetite. You may even face punishment, but freedom from the misery of living a lie feels like a bird being sprung from a cage. Freedom is worth it—it's worth more than anything. Let's practice: “I was wrong. I'm so sorry.”

                                                       In the Spirit,

                                                           Jane

Monday, March 20, 2017

Awake!

Conscious Living

Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe, and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”
Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life's Purpose)

I have been writing this blog for six years because I believe that raising consciousness is the most important quest for humanity. I don't have a lock on exactly what higher consciousness looks like, nor can I give you pat answers as to how to achieve it. All I can possibly do is reveal to you my own journey with its struggle to increase awareness through living every day with open eyes. I can tell you that I do believe we are here, not to play a role, however consequential or inconsequential that role may be, but to further our own soul's growth and thereby contribute our little strand of energy to the evolution of the universal soul.

Being spiritual has almost nothing to do with religion, but most of us come to it by way of a religious vehicle. Most begin with a religious framework, and then move beyond the one, to the universal. We do that by living consciously. In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” (A New Earth) Having this perspective helps to navigate the “goods” and “bads” of life, and begin to see everything that happens as simply meaningful and useful. Experiences bring joy, they bring sorrow, they are exciting, or boring, and all are necessary. All can increase consciousness if we live them with awareness rather than sleep-walking our way through life.

Jesus famously said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” It can also be translated, “Anyone with ears should listen and understand.” We must take spiritual evolution seriously, and that includes our relationships with ourselves, with one another and with the planet on which we reside. Live this day, and every day with awareness.

                                                       In the Spirit,
                                                          Jane



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Free the Mind

Mental Emancipation

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds...Man is a universe within himself.”
Bob Marley

Several conversations this week have caused me to think a lot about human beings. About how we move in zigzag lines, forward and backward, three steps ahead, five back. We make progress, and then, we reverse course. We feel deeply compassionate until someone gets too close, and then we run away as though to protect ourselves from seeing what is before us. As Marley says, we use our minds to keep ourselves “enslaved?”

One conversation was about the business of non-violent conversation that I've already written about. We have these big brains, capable of reason and judgment; we have the mental facilities of relationship, compassion, imagination and creativity, but we put the breaks on all of that with our reptilian fear. If we are too expansive and egalitarian, it tells us, there won't be enough to go round. Me first! If there's anything left, then you. We put down, we justify, we criticize, we rationalize out of fear that to concede something to you, I must give up something I want.

Another conversation pondered what percentage of the population is gaining in consciousness. How many humans do you think are “emancipating their minds?” How many of us see the unity of all things, and understand that we must all move forward together? Are we evolving fast enough to keep our species from decimating the planet? Are we close to the tipping point in which there is a leap forward in human consciousness?

And, finally, a conversation about forgiveness. Can we actually forgive, and forget? Is that only a psycho/religious, pie-in-the-sky concept? Can we know that there has been terrible injustice in the past, for others, and/or for ourselves, and even knowing, forgive and let it go? Is it a choice that we can make once and for all? Some say it doesn't happen that way. I say, it has to happen that way, otherwise we can never move forward. We cannot change the past, and all the retribution in the world will not lay it to rest or make it right. The only solution is forgiveness. Anything else is “mental slavery.”

Bob Marley, who's music I did not know except that it was reggae, was a wise man with a free mind. He was a universe within himself—as are we all.

                                                 In the Spirit,

                                                     Jane

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fifth Chakra Energy

Kind Words

Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, an energy that showers blessings upon the world.”
Lawrence G. Lovasik

Just as with everything else in the universe, words and thoughts are energetic in nature. When we think a thought or say a word, it goes out into the world as energy, just as does any other action. Thinking and speaking kind words adds to the positive, optimistic energy of the planet, and harsh words and thoughts do the opposite.

I am thinking a lot these days about how I speak myself, and how it affects other people. It's a lot to think about. On the one hand, I want to be honest and authentic in expressing myself. But on the other, my words can, and do, wound. Our sense of humor comes from the side of us that has some darkness to it, and many an unkind truth is said in jest. We can be funny, and at the same time, mean-spirited. For instance, what makes Saturday Night Live skits—and most other comedy—funny is the way that they poke fun at the absurdities of life—they take a serious situation and exaggerate it and we experience it as hilarious. Remember how Phyllis Diller spoke of her husband as “Fang,” or how Tina Fey portrayed a ditsy Sarah Palin—those were very funny, but funny at the expense of others. We don't want lose the ability to laugh at ourselves, but we also don't want to cause pain, especially to the people we care about. It's a fine line to walk.

Dr. David Simon gives three suggestions for consideration before we say anything to another person. He calls them gateways.

  1. Is what I am about to say true?
  2. Is what I am about to say necessary?
  3. Is what I am about to say kind?

Learning to use the energy of the fifth chakra in a positive way takes some work. It helps to think of it in terms of its element, which is ether; in other words, air. Being open and expansive in the way you speak requires breath, and breath is another word for spirit. When we elevate our speech, we speak more from our true spirit. It's a work in progress for me—and I hope for you, too.

                                                          In the Spirit,

                                                              Jane