Staying Plugged In, Part II

The Culmination…

I attempted to move through a busy work schedule in solitude and stillness whenever possible.  The week was busy enough to take my mind off of the chatter going on inside my head and busy enough to allow me to be fully present.  All of the travel, meetings and minor problem solving for my clients proved to be therapeutic in its own right.  There was too much I was responsible for so time did not allow me to wallow in self-pity.  With a small amount of time to literally “be” still, I used that time wisely.  I prayed often for recognition of my grandmother’s presence; when taking my dog for a walk, when in the shower, before going to sleep and upon waking up.  I’d often look at my “God’s Jar”.  It’s a mason jar filled with questions, situations, and thoughts that are beyond my control and that I need to surrender. From my greatest desires to my greatest fears.  Resentments, forgiveness, stress, worry, manifestations for my future, all of the things in which I am attached to an outcome and that keep my mind from being clear, go into this jar. When I feel worry settling in, I look at the jar, take a great big deep breath, exhale and remember that God is taking care of it and it brings a sense of comfort and relief.  It is an answer to the “who, what when, where and how”.

Just as I was beginning to at least like my most recent challenge and come to a place of acceptance, along comes another trigger. Another challenge that the Reverend would say I need to love!

It has almost been a year since I made the decision to be done with my ex.  No closure, no sappy last conversations, no let’s be friends, I simply vanished and chose to make no contact nor return any correspondence from him.  When I made that decision it was not out of bitterness or spite.  I will admit my ego was bruised and therefore some anger was present. The 95% of me that made this very conscious decision was at peace. We had run our course and at least for me, the relationship has served it’s purpose and it was time to let it go. I found peace in my decision because I was able to forgive myself and him. In fact, I will always be grateful for him.  I learned a lot about myself in this relationship and was able to own my contributions to its demise. The purpose of this relationship was for me to see my true value. To learn how to love myself better so that I could teach others how to love and respect me. It was in this relationship that I was able to heal that 5-year-old little girl searching for validation and who was still trying to prove to her father that she was worthy of him sticking around.

I dreamt of my ex that night and I recall wanting to lash out at him in the dream but I kept telling myself to be silent and to just listen to what he had to say.  When I woke up I tried to forget about the dream and shake it off but I found myself throughout the day and days following, replaying past experiences in my mind. Brief waves of anger would rush through me, and I could feel that unconscious part of me rising to the surface.  Once again, I felt blind sighted. I thought I had this under control and I could not pin point where this sudden agitation was coming from.  Maybe it was stress from the week? Maybe I still had work to do? Maybe I needed to practice forgiveness more? Maybe I needed to let my ego run rampant and curse him out one good time and pray about it later? Maybe this was me substituting one crisis with another? All of these maybes, maybe it was just a dream and meant nothing?

In an effort to temper my anger I randomly opened to a page in the book “A Course In Miracles“.  In that moment I felt that whatever page I randomly opened to would have a message just for me.  The page number was 878, Key Lesson 50. And there was my message:

I Am Sustained By The Love Of God.

Here is the answer to every problem that will confront you, today and tomorrow and throughout time. In this world, you believe you are sustained by everything but God. Your faith is placed in the most trivial and insane symbols; pills, money, “protective” clothing, influence, prestige, being liked, knowing the “right” people, and an endless list of forms of nothingness that you endow with magical powers.

Only the Love of God will protect you in all circumstances. It will lift you out of every trial, and raise you high above all the perceived dangers of this world into a climate of perfect peace and safety. It will transport you into a state of mind that nothing can threaten, nothing can disturb, and where nothing can intrude upon the eternal calm of the Son of God.

At this point the weekend was approaching and while the words above provided comfort, anxiety still remained.

To be continued…

A Letter to My Father

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I love this photo of us.  It takes me back to a time when life was easy and carefree and I felt like the luckiest little girl in the world.  I cherish this picture because it serves as reminder of all the great memories I have of you.  I think of you often and sometimes with regret.  When I got the call that you passed away, it was in that moment that I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I saw you face to face, nor the last words that I spoke to you.  What I do remember is that there was tension in our last phone conversation and many unanswered questions. That was about 22 years ago.

I must admit that I did not spend a large part of my life trying to understand your choices.  I was too young at the time to understand the complexities of life and relationships between a man and a woman but as a young child when I saw my mother often frustrated and angry as a result of your choices,  I took her side. My heart ached trying to figure out how you could be so easily led astray and I took your actions all too personally.   Weren’t we enough of a reason to leave the alcohol, streets and women alone?   How could anything be more important than us? As a result, I armored myself  with an “If you don’t care enough then I don’t care enough either” attitude.  Little did I know the undertone of this experience would live, grow and fester inside me. It has shown up in various areas of my life.  Whenever I’ve felt betrayed or disrespected by a friend and it most certainly has shown up in my relationships with men.  While I was busy showing many “I didn’t care about them either” I also was neglecting “not caring” about myself. And I was too blinded by ego to see it.  I’ve faced some hard truths about myself in my desire to achieve success in the one area of my life that proves to difficult.  Relationships. I have wasted much time trying to prove my worthiness to men.  I have accepted scraps of attention and time from men, I’ve stuck by their sides forgivingly, when I should have walked away.  All the while convincing myself that if I could make “this one” work despite the obvious signs, my worth be recognized.  Because I could not see my worth, I was looking for it in my various career choices, in my friendships and in my relationships. In my mind I knew better, but at my core I needed to be healed.

My path to healing has been ripe with hard lessons, self-reflection, awareness, gratitude, and love.  It wasn’t until I claimed my baggage which I carried with me everywhere, that I was able to release it. I have since learned to forgive myself and I’ve come to forgive you.  I’ll never know the weight of your burdens and fears but as an adult I now understand that you did the best you knew how to do.  Life does not come with a manual and our experiences are here to show us ourselves, good and bad so that we can live fully and in truth.  It is not for me or anyone to judge you or your actions. My unconscious behavior is no different from yours or anyone else’s for that matter.  The common thread of fear of inadequacy runs through all of us.  I now understand it had nothing to do with me. At 44 I know without question my value and my worth and as a result I am responsible and accountable for the energy I bring to life experiences.  Although I am still single, it is because I know what I will and will not allow in my life.  I am guided by my intuition. I forgive without giving up my truth. There is nothing to prove.  Life happens for us to nurture and promote our spiritual development.

And so, on what would have been your 66th birthday, it is my hope that these words touch your spirit.  Two years ago today mom and I traveled to St. Croix to release Grandma Sheila’s ashes into the ocean and once released the clouds dissipated and the light from the sun confirmed that her spirit was free.  We were able to see your sister Karen and celebrate both your life and my grandmother’s life. For me this day is about letting go of the things that are holding me back from living my best life. I pray that wherever you are in the world, that your life is abundant. I pray that you have found your way. I pray that you are sharing your light.  Know that I love you and know that I always knew your love for me and despite the past, I am grateful to have known you on this journey called life.

 

 

What Shall I Do?

I attended what I now refer to as “Sunday Service” at the Won-Buddhism Meditation Temple yesterday and it was quite a memorable experience.  I have been attending the Temple off and on for about two years now and there is always more to appreciate with each visit.

My practice of meditation started fairly early along this journey.  The more I read about it the more I desired to achieve that moment when mind chatter disintegrates and complete silence takes over.  And like anything else in life, the more you practice the better you become.

At each service there is always a Dharma talk which one could compare to a sermon.  Yesterday’s Dharma talk touched upon several areas that really spoke to me in addition to the Reverend’s commentary on the recent events that took place in Paris. Prior to meditation the Reverend talked about “attachment” and how people become fixated or so consumed with their beliefs and ideals that truth eludes them.  Blame is placed on others recklessly, without acknowledgment of self victimization.  Her commentary offered me an opportunity to question myself and ask what ideals I was still holding on to and why.

The Dharma talk was given by a student who aspires to be a Buddhist priest.  His words were simple but honest, he spoke of being fully committed to his journey and his fear of straying off of his path.  He spoke of the despair of not knowing what he should do with his life and how his experiences have brought to him to this decision. He will have to let go of many material attachments and worldly pleasures, and will have to commit daily to his practices.  There will be no turning back to his former life, there is no trial period, at twenty something he is fully committed to his calling in life. I instantly thought of all the many things I struggle to commit to in my life that are missed opportunities.

In a few days the sun will enter Sagittarius and as my birthday approaches I am filled with curiosity and excitement knowing that this time is very powerful for me.  The choices I make during these next few weeks will propel me into my not so comfort zone or keep me complacent within my  comfort zone.  As the planets align in my favor how will I best make use of this energy? What will I let go of that I have held on to for too long?  What no longer serves me? What will I commit to and will I be able to stay accountable to it? The shift I felt in October continues to expand and great opportunity for transformation and abundance lie ahead of me.  This shift also brings discomfort and anxiety, triggering the part of me that wants to ask “why can’t this be easy”?  But still, I pray for guidance, taking action towards what I know to do, stay faithful to my practices while yielding the rest to God.

Lately, I have been asking the question “What Shall I Do”? It is this same question that the young Dharma student started and ended his story with.

 

 

 

 

Awareness of Thought

Much of what I read at the start of this journey to awareness led me to understand that my life is a reflection of my thoughts. It is said that just about 60,000 thoughts run through our minds in one day and many say the average is closer to 70,000.  This bit of information was key for me.  Following the flow of a “thought” enabled me to observe this cycle in whatever experience I was having at the time.  I became aware that my thoughts dictated my feelings. My feelings about a situation then created my actions. In turn my actions manifested my experience which supported my programming. The programmed mind is a long way away from mindfulness because it continually seeks out more thoughts to validate the experience or story.  It is the cycle that we all live with daily, invoking chaos or peace.  I, in the early stages was living inside in my mind and spinning like a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere.

Once I began to observe the thoughts running through my mind I also recognized how much power words have in my life.  Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret says “Every word you speak has immense power, because it is a thought in action.”  My programmed mind was oftentimes speaking and acting from my mind instead of my heart. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon with slogans and phrases that sound catchy without thinking about the energy or tone each word creates. I learned early on that what follows the words “I Am” sends a direct message to the universe and in return sends the energy of that declaration back to me. This we all know from experience. By declaring “I am always late”, then you are declaring this to be a fact and are summoning the energy of what it means to be “late” in your life.  Some of my biggest eye openers were the constant use of the following phrases:

I can’t wait until- Putting energy into the thought about the future instead of the present moment. Projecting that something in the future is better than what is occurring in the present moment and relying on the future to bring fulfillment. In these moments I was denying the present and the opportunity for growth.
It wasn’t meant to be-  This was a big one for me. I realized that I have used this phrase in my life as an excuse when something did not go the way I wanted it to. It became my crutch and allowed me to blame external forces in my life rather than take responsibility for the thoughts and feelings (energy) I brought into my experience. Many years ago, I was supposed to move to Philadelphia for graduate school. I auditioned for graduate school and was very excited about following my passion to become a dance therapist. While this was exciting to me, I also held many negative thoughts/feelings about my life at that time and was very fearful about making such a big life change. My living conditions were not the best, my position as a teacher had been cut, I was in the midst of a break up, my financial situation looked bleak and I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was looking for an escape more than I was seeking opportunity. Suddenly, my financial aid was not approved and as a result, I was forced to deal with all of the drama that was happening in my life. Looking back now, I had many negative thoughts about myself, fear was prominent, and instead of looking for the lesson in that experience, looking to God for direction I simply gave up the dream saying it was not meant to be. There were no cosmic forces waving a wand over my life, my thoughts about the situation, about my life at that time, invited more challenging events to manifest. I welcomed a space in which disappointment could consistently be present.
Our words have energy, they can bring peaceful thoughts just as easily as they imprison the mind, they are our thoughts in action.  It can be difficult to change your thought patterns if there is no awareness or understanding of the words you use daily. Even in real estate, I have been trained to use scripts whenever dealing with certain situations. The words used summon positivity, position me as an expert and bring results. When I do things off the cuff as opposed to using my scripts, there is a significant difference. Choice of words will get you off the hamster wheel.

I learned quickly that affirmations and mantras are useful tools for changing thought patterns.  I love affirmations because it is an easy way to turn a negative to a positive. For example, when I am feeling tired, instead of dwelling on the fact that I am tired, I often say “I am tireless and full of energy” or “I am ready for my second wind”.  I tend to use mantras more in meditation and prayer, allowing the energy of the words to fill me up, then release into the universe.
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” ~Lao Tzu