December 2, 2008

Coming Soon: 2009

Numerologically, this year has been a 1 year for the world. It's the dawn of a new beginning. Seeds are still being sewn, while some of the tiniest buds and blooms are beginning to show themselves.

2009 is an 11 year - a master vibration bringing tests and trials and tribulations to see how well we can walk the talk and, once again, evolve beyond our habitual reactions. We have already entered this "energy" and as the new year begins we will be more fully immersed. We'll have occasional moments of coming home to rest and renew before heading back out again to practice our mastery. It is less about the personal level and more about a global one.

We have coming into office in the United States our first New Age president. A forward thinking person heralding a movement of change. The change he speaks of is not "his" change. This change was coming like a freight train without a conductor.

December itself will bring more transformation. We still have Uranus and Saturn facing off in the sky. (stock markets and so on) By April they will go on their merry ways, bringing relief to all who are currently in panic.

In a few days we have Mars deciding to get into the fray, squaring off with both Saturn and Uranus. The Sun in Sagittarius gets involved, and even Jupiter jumps in. In the past days we had Uranus turning direct, Jupiter and Pluto moving into Capricorn, and well, I know many of you aren't sure what this means, but it means this: life is changing. It is perpetually changing, but at this moment in time, it is really moving!

This is the perfect time for you to harness the new energies that we have available to us. Put your thoughts on what you want to feel. How do you want to feel in life? Focus on that. Ask for it. We are riding a new wave of manifestation energy now and it's time we create more of what we want to see.

At the same time, you'll notice that the old victim energy that family, friends, and yes, even you sometimes, love to use is not working so well anymore! That vibration is less effective now. So, it's time to take responsibility for our own feelings. No one to blame, though we try.

It's an exciting time, even with all the strange happenings with the "economy" and such. We are witnessing and experiencing a huge shift in consciousness which I am glad to take part. It's a great time to be alive.

Opportunities to Awaken

"The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn't understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you're given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further."

That quote is by Pema Chodron taken from my recent copy of SageWoman (#70). It introduces my thoughts today on opening further to life; how the difficulties we perceive are nothing more than whispers saying, "How can you surrender into life with an undefended heart?"

The whispers are not shouts demanding you to surrender into life with an undefended heart. That isn't their style. They just bring a question put simply, which you can ignore for centuries until one day you (okay, we) evolve beyond our former reactions.

Negativity and misery go hand-in-hand with a nicely defended heart center. All negativity and misery, by the way, are self-correcting. We need not even work on ourselves at all in dedicated self-help style if we don't want to because life itself will twist our arms hard enough to make us change. "Whether in this lifetime or in twenty from now," my friend Carmela adds.

My arm is already too sore! I'm ready now! But meanwhile, we hard-headed humans toughen our shells. From there we either retreat into them, or use them as shields from which to emerge fighting. A seemingly endless pattern that repeats itself well into old age and onward where eventually one finds it too burdensome to carry around the shell any longer.

But the question is when? How long do we remain in our self-imposed heart-locked-up prisons? Have you tried to get out? Of course you have, but did you escape? Have you given yourself the opportunity to be free of hard, heavy shells? If so, can you answer yes to the following?

When criticized do you see the criticism as the other person's defensiveness?

When you criticize yourself, do you see it as your own defensiveness?

Do you recognize defensiveness as fear? This includes justifying your actions.

Do you know that fear is a powerful emotion that causes all kinds of hard, heavy shells to be built so that humans cannot live with or love one another?

Are you ready to be free from this form of fear?

We have an opportunity to finally complete a cycle of seemingly never-ending defensiveness. Once the realization comes that it's not about you, that your work is to simply live from your own truest nature, that words, actions, and behaviors from others are about them, not you, then you might, maybe, do it.

Soften into it - your undefended heart - and see what happens. I'll be doing it too. I'm not 100% yet, but I'll be practicing. After all, my arm is still being twisted.

So I'm just putting it out there - you might want to give it a try. The world is a-changin' and we might as well change along with it. To quote Thich Nhat Hanh, "Peace and happiness in your daily life means peace and happiness in the world." My contribution to world peace is softening up my own rough spots. How else do we begin?

October 4, 2008

All is Well but It's Time to Get Centered

Part of counseling and healing is reassuring people that all is well. Recently, naturally, people have been worried, in fear, saying in one form or another, "What in the world is happening!? I need to know!"

But there are times, such as these now, when the ultimate outcome is in the balance. I can "see" the positive result of what we are going through. I can "feel" the higher energies coming in and landing. I know the fantastic upleveling of consciousness. But how do I tell this to someone whose retirement savings or financial investments are at risk?

From a Buddhist perspective, I would advise to simply observe your feelings, knowing they will pass. Knowing that everything passes, eventually. Impermanence. This probably won't fly. We are talking people's money.

From an astrological perspective, I could say, "Well, Uranus, you know, opposing Saturn, and Jupiter squaring Neptune, and Mercury retrograde..." Reassuring to astrologers, for certain. But to mainstream, Main Street? Hardly.

Americans want answers. They want to know that things are going to improve. They want to not suffer. After all, that's what we've been promised. We expect it.

So I took a moment last week to meditate and be sure I was pointed in the best direction. I asked, "What is the best way for me to advise people who are in fear over the current events?" I did not get that I am to reassure people about their world remaining as it is. Instead, what came is this: there is a way to live through any moment of your life.

I know what this means, and so do you. This is a time to let go of the need to know, to release your insistence on knowing. It is a time for living the not- knowing, and for accepting what cannot be changed. The way to live through any moment of your life is to center yourself. Those of you who have worked with me know I emphasize this, and it works. But it requires your participation. Here are a few of the basics. Begin them now. There is no better time.

Root your energy into the earth. Breathe into and soften your heart center. Be aware of the speed of your breath. Slow it down and lengthen it. Relax your shoulders. Soften your tummy. Feel your feet. Go outside and be in nature. Pet an animal. Breathe into your heart center, again. Repeat after me, "All shall be well. All shall be well. And all manner of all thing shall be well." quote by Julian of Norwich - 14th century English mystic

Ride the bucking bronco, maybe, if you are already on it. But run out into traffic with the panicking masses? No.

There is no substitute for learning how to center and calm yourself at any given moment. Let's do it.

Growth Spurt

We remain in the very middle of a growth spurt. Remember junior high when everyone was becoming, growing, surging, turning inward, looking outward, despairing?

This is where we find ourselves again. Moving through an awkward stage where the past is gone and the new, more mature self is not yet formed. We are caught in that squirm-filled space of no longer and not yet.

As a result, many people are experiencing fear and anxiety. Not necessarily because they, or even you, wise old soul, feel afraid, but because everyone around you speaks with a sense of foreboding. This talk grips a tiny part of the ego (the less wise, but more amusing self) and yells into your ear that you might lose something.

Lose something we might, but for each of us, the best bet is to come into a place of balance. To once again take steps to be centered, calm the mind, and live in the present moment.

Today, because you are a beacon of light and what you do and feel affects us all, I call on you to access your wise old soul and put the sage back at the head of the table.

September 27, 2008

I vote we practice higher consciousness

"You are searching for the magic key that will unlock the door to the source of power; and yet you have the key in your own hands, and you may make use of it the moment you learn to control your thoughts." Napoleon Hill

I have been more interested in this presidential election than any other because I feel its outcome has the real potential to raise our consciousness as a whole. Chanting "drill-baby-drill" seems silly in the face of what this election could mean.

Ideas to volunteer and promote my choice for president has crossed my mind, but I know my best contribution is to focus my attention on what I would like to see. And to simultaneously keep my attention away from that which I don't want to see.

We all could keep our thoughts and words focused on what we want to see happen in our future. We could keep our minds off of the negative things or persons we don't want to see more of. Even with negative focus, energy is given to the object of our attention, thereby enhancing its ability to gain power.

So why don't we focus more on the positive? Because we are trained to focus on what we don't want. We are too attached to talking about who is wrong, bad, or at odds with our own beliefs. People get something from their low-quality thoughts and words. You know what I think people get? A sense of being right or, even more addictive, being a victim. They give up responsibility for their own feelings and attempt to place responsibility on someone else.

If we all took responsibility for our own thoughts, words, beliefs, and actions, (and unresolved issues) there would be no blame. Without blame, what kind of war could start? None.

Election Time: Change or Chaos?

In Greek mythology, chaos refers to the original state of things, "the gaping void" of space before the gods arrived on the scene. It seems that in any time of change there is at least a momentary "gaping void" whereby the new order of things is uncertain - not yet fully formed.

Expect more changes and surprises in the coming weeks. More revelations and discoveries. We are in a time when it is getting more difficult for our leaders to hide things from the public eye.

In our skies currently, the planet of sudden, unexpected change heralding the new (Uranus) opposes the planet of old-school, conservative, tradition (Saturn). This means that these two energies are facing off, having sword play, and it is uncertain who will win.

Because we are in such a state of rapid evolutionary growth and change anyway, it makes sense that the new and improved would trump the old establishment. Enter the new VP running mate who came in suddenly, unexpectedly, now representing change. Saturn (McCain) pulled in Uranus (Palin) to help him succeed. But on the other side Uranus (Obama) had already pulled in Saturn (Biden) to help him succeed. Do you see how that works? Too much new (change) is unsettling to the public. Too much conservative tradition will lose this time.

Watch these energies play out over the next couple of months. We will see more unexpected things happening as we move into October. We have chaos and change. We have entered the dark void. No turning back. Can you discern what is truly new and what is an illusion of new?

In October, Saturn and Uranus face off more directly. On election day, the two will be in exact aspect (direct opposition) for the first time since the mid-60's. That era produced the Beatles lyrics, "You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we all want to change the world." But the world will change for us, and that is what it is doing now.

July 29, 2008

"I give thanks to all those who caused me stress and upset as they showed me the parts of myself that needed healing and brought these unhealed parts to the surface to deepen my practice of forgiveness and advance my healing. I give thanks to those who shared their love and kindness and reminded me of my true nature. Each moment I have life and awareness I give thanks for the blessings of my creation."

Brian Sheen

May 25, 2008

Finding Balance between Work and Life

People seem to spend a lot of time working. "Yeah? So?" you might ask. Well, work isn’t a bad thing, and many would claim it a great thing, but too much of it can throw life out of balance and create areas of neglect that become painful to tolerate.

Do you agree that you can be most effective in your work when you are in balance and harmony with life? I know for myself, when I move slowly and take it easy, my work is at its best. When I rush and cram and shove a million things in, both me and my work suffer. My work, and I'll bet your own endeavors as well, come with greater ease and joy when I take time to maintain harmony within my body, mind, and spirit. For me this means I have to slow down. What does this mean for you?

Holistic harmony is easier said than done. To begin, it involves paying attention to the needs of your physical body. This could include the simple message your body gives you that it is time to lay down and rest. We don’t heed this message very well, do we? When our bodies say, “Let’s rest!” we often say, “Later, I’ve got more things to do first!” But the body repairs itself during rest. It is the first thing to do when you have a cold or flu. However, what I see is people go to work anyway, extend the duration of their illness and pass it on to others. Further, lack of rest over time can lead to serious disease states. This is one good reason to listen to your body’s needs and take a break when it tells you to.

Maintaining a balanced mind and positive attitude is another component of work-life balance. There are some obvious signs when a person’s mental state is off-kilter: anger, irritability, anxiety, or just plain stress. I remember something one of my college professors said: “If the mind is in harmony, the body follows. If the body is in harmony, the mind follows.” Over time, I realized this is true. Relax the body and the mind will relax. Balance the mind and the body will come into balance.

The mind-body connection is well-known these days. But I think it leaves out a component important to our wellbeing – spirit. If this vital aspect of our lives is neglected, life can lose meaning, direction, and purpose. How do we keep our spirit alive? One way is to pay attention to what brings us joy and add more of that to daily life.

Most of us have been trained to work hard. If we are not working hard, we have been programmed to feel guilty about not working hard. Have you ever heard someone called lazy because they weren’t working hard enough? If you grew up in these United States you have. We are a hard-working bunch and we get a lot done. We praise hard work. The truth is that hard work holds the promise of reward: promotions or business expansions, bigger incomes, and greater access to the things we desire. But there is another side to it. If balance is not maintained, if the work side is too overloaded, well-being suffers. This includes peace of mind, physical health, and relationships.

Even if you love your work, thrive on it, and can do it all day and into the night, it is important to take time to maintain your equilibrium. Human beings must take time to stop, rest, reflect, and restore. Your relationships need attention, your spirit needs nurturing, and your body needs care. If any of these are neglected, no amount of success in the world can make up for their loss. I speak from experience. I used to be able to work all day and into the night - sun up to sun down. I had to train myself to stop the madness before my body, mind, and spirit had complete breakdowns. It wasn't easy because I had a deeply-ingrained work ethic (some would say a good Protestant work ethic - I call it lunacy). But managing this work ethic was absolutely necessary for me to continue making my contribution to the planet.

If you are on the hamster wheel like I once was, here are 12 simple things you can do each day to stop the madness and get your life and your work into balance.

1. Decide to step off the wheel. You will survive!
2. Inhale with awareness.
3. Walk in nature every day, even for just 10 minutes. Aim for 30. If you live in the city, you've got more stress than the rest of us, so find a park or a walkway along a river, and be there.
4. Sit in silence and still your mind for at least 10 minutes each day.
5. Notice if you are thirsty, hungry, tired. Take care of your needs.
6. While eating, slow down and give your full attention.
7. Avoid people who consume your energy. You probably know who they are.
8. Embrace those who are accepting and supportive of you.
9. Regard the beauty of your surroundings.
10. Exhale completely.
12. And lastly, my favorite - turn off the computer, television, and cell phone and go to bed early. Ahhhh....

Your Thoughts Matter

Do you remain optimistic about the future during downturns in the housing market and threats of recession? Or are you one who tends to lend your voice to doom and gloom? When you hear reports of rising unemployment, foreclosures, and bankruptcies, what is your response? The reason I ask is because of the messages of fear that emanate from newscasts. Like exposure to a virus that comes through the sneeze of another person, if we are not careful we can fortify the virus and pass it forward.

I see fear-based messages as contagious diseases. Those who are weakest will be targeted first. In the case of disease, it is our bodies that succumb. In the case of fear, it is our minds. All of us are familiar with the anxiety that causes the mind to create potential catastrophic scenarios. Mark Twain knew of this tendency when he said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

We are currently in one of these times when the news we read or watch on television is filled with fear. Well, it ordinarily is, for that matter, which is why I typically avoid it, but particularly lately it has gotten right under the skin of people whereby it convinces them that their survival is at stake. When we go into "survival mode" fear is a natural consequence. Our homes, jobs, and bank accounts feel threatened. We don’t like them threatened. We want to live where we want, work how we want, drive forever on cheap gas, and be free. We want the promise of security. We want things to go well.

Fear comes when we believe things might not go well. And the truth is, sometimes they don’t. But when they don’t, we have choices. We can contrive doom and gloom, worry about money, our homes, our jobs, and our very lives. We can create potential scenarios (most of which will never happen) and pass the fear on to others, who will catch it and become carriers themselves. Or, we can see circumstances for what they are - passing circumstances; opportunities to practice moving through life with grace and ease; chances to increase our resistance to dis-ease (of the mind) and instead accept the old adage, "This too shall pass."

This is your challenge and it is mine - how to take the ordinary and not-so-ordinary events of life and remain balanced, optimistic, hopeful people. How to take news of change, potential hardship, loss, and even illness and death, and not allow ourselves to be crushed under the weight of it. I believe, and I’ve seen it happen too many times to count, that the power of thought is key in these situations. Instead of diving into the pool of doom and gloom, you keep your face turned toward the possibilities. It is both simple and difficult at the same time. Simple in what action needs to be taken (monitoring the thoughts). Difficult in that we can be lazy about taking this action. (Oh how we love to wallow in a somebody-done-somebody-wrong song!)

Positive thinking got its start during the Great Depression, when people lost almost everything. What did they have left? It wasn’t money, jobs, homes, or food and clothing in many cases. They had the command over one thing only: the power of their own minds. For those who recognized this fact, success followed. And today, though we are not in the dire straights our grandparents might have been, it is important to carry their legacy forward – to remain focused on what is possible, rather than on any predictions or worries or frets.

So when you hear a fear-based newscast, see if you can consciously take note of how the words are spun to create worry. Worrisome news sells, that’s all. And you might really be personally affected by the news in some way. In this case, you have a greater challenge to keep your attention on the one thing you can truly command – your thoughts. Whatever our own situation, we can turn our attention to what we want to see happen, rather than on what we fear could happen.

Some of you are familiar with Les Brown, a motivational speaker whose life began in complete poverty. He tells us, “If you view all the things that happen to you, both good and bad, as opportunities, then you operate out of a higher level of consciousness.” This higher level of consciousness begins with becoming aware of what you think, about the thoughts you allow into your mind. If you find yourself continuing to have thoughts of doom and gloom, particularly after reading the paper, watching the news, or “catching” the dis-ease from someone, you can practice gaining leadership over where your mind goes.

Here are two simple ways to be the leader of your own mind. Look at the scenarios you fear and ask yourself what opportunities could come from them. Then, make a list of what you want to see happen in your life, for example, your home value remains stable or increases, your income remains steady or increases, your health is optimal. Keep this list in a place where you will see it often. This focuses your thoughts on what is possible, because after all, if your mind is going to create a scenario (and it can), it might as well be one you want.