Higher Calling

Have you ever noticed how religions and belief systems are often divisive and promote dualistic thinking? Somehow, we think we’ve got the answer, or we’re on the right team and the ‘other’ is on the wrong team. We think we’re God’s favorite and God is on our side. Or perhaps we think God is passé and embrace a more humanistic philosophy. But underlying all of this we may find some common ground allowing the walls that divide us to come down, finding an expansive, more inclusive way to be, and watching our tribe grow to embrace Life itself.

Underlying so many religious and spiritual traditions is a desire to live a more authentic life that operates from a more authentic place within us. This thing, this place is hard to describe and cannot be captured with our finite vocabulary. It’s that part of ourselves that is beyond our primitive mind where fear resides. It’s beyond our thinking mind where we can reason and analyze. It’s in the back of beyond, a place of knowing, where love and compassion reside. It’s hard to find often hidden by the walls we’ve constructed and the traumas we’ve endured. We have to look for it and really listen, and that often means quieting the fear of our primitive brains, quieting the incessant thoughts of our own understanding, letting it all go so we can hear the still small voice within us. Often times it’s silent, but sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get a glimpse, and we know it when we hear it. We may sense the deep abiding joy, or the peace that passes understanding, or we get clarity and have an aha moment.

This inner wisdom and compassion is within all of us, maybe lying dormant, just hoping we knock on the door of our hearts to wake it up, but everyone has it. Everyone. It does not matter whether we believe it or not. It’s there, within us. We don’t have to belong to a certain group, or believe in a certain way, and it doesn’t matter what we call it. Here are some ways this thing is described: Inner wisdom. The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ. The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Heaven. That place of knowing. The awakened mind. Intuition. The heart space. The spirit. Higher consciousness. The place beyond reason. Wise mind. The heart of compassion. Where love resides. Our essence. The enlightened mind. The Buddha. Where the divine resides. The Holy Ghost. The super ego. Higher consciousness. Whatever we call it, we sense it’s beyond our understanding and our words often fail to do it justice. We know we’ve tapped in when our heart expands with compassion leading to right action.

May we all grow in awareness of this deep and abiding love and may we allow it to transform us to be a light to the world. We shall be known by our love for one another, for life itself.

Denial to Acceptance and Everything In Between

I notice my anxiety rise as I watch the results of our presidential election numbers come in. I sip on my  wine. PA shows Hillary far ahead at 10:30 last evening, I breathe easier. Chris not so much.  I’m troubled by how close the numbers are in so many other states. But they’re always red states. No worries.  This can’t be. I’m in denial. I say something stupid to Chris in an effort to comfort, something to the effect “Don’t worry, there’s no way he can win” and I notice Chris give me the “get real” hairy eyeball. Chris and I made a concerted effort to be back in PA by this date for the sole purpose to cast our vote in this historic election. We’ve had countless conversations trying to overcome our befuddlement of how Trump had so much support. How can we in America support a man that has over and over again demonstrated his lack of moral character, his immature tempermaent, his divisive and hate filled language? We don’t get it. We cannot wrap our heads around it. And though we knew that even those that saw Trump as unfit still planned to vote for him for POTUS, I denied it would actually happen. There’s no way. I have more faith in the American people. I want to believe in our integrity. I want to believe in America. I could not and would not accept another result. I went to bed, like an ostrich with it’s head in the sand.

I awoke this morning anxious to see the results and celebrate a Clinton victory with my Mornin’ Joe. I prepare to savor the moment. I brew my coffee. I go to set the timer on my phone when I notice a text from a friend from last night. I’m reluctant to read it. I don’t want to learn the results this way. But I open it. She says she’s on the “edge of her seat”. She reveals nothing. Yes. I’m so tempted to find out. I resist. I do some gentle yoga for about 15 minutes, working out the kink in my troublesome right hip. I feel better, more serene, more relaxed. I circle and sway my loosened hips as I prepare my coffee. I sit down with my steaming cup. I open my IPad and look at the news. This is what Isee. Donald Trump wins the presidency in stunning upset over Clinton. I’m sure it’s a joke. I look at the author to see what sitiracle journalist wrote this. I’m wondering why this satire would be the first thing to pop up on my news feed. I’m in total denial. But I feel my heart sink and a knowing in my gut. This can’t be. I turn on the tv to the CBS morning news. And there it is. Trump won. I’m in shock. I cry. I text my friend back. I say over and over “oh my God, oh my God, OH MY GOD!”. I’m speechless. I cry some more. I get on social media and see everyone’s stunned response. How did this happen? I learn that Trump won PA. OMG! It sinks in. Trump is president. I learn that the Canadian immigration website crashed. OMG! I see so many people already moving to problem solving, what’s next? What do we do? I see how people are moving to acceptance and to “higher ground”, tapping into their wisdom and goodness innate within all of us. I know I have to sit with this for awhile. I have to write about it. I have to get to the place of acceptance. It’s my daughter’s birthday today. I remove myself from my shock and begin perusing pictures of my precious daughter that I can embarass her with. I find myself smiling as I look through so many beautiful pictures of my family and friends. I’m okay. This moment is now better. It’ll be okay. We will become stronger. Our eyes will be opened. We will see a spiritual revival as we’ve never seen before. We will come to realize the narrow and restrictive interpretation that we have of Christ is not Christian. We will embrace the Cosmic Christ  and envelope the world and all of life with love and acceptance.

My husband awakes and walks into the living room and sees the headlines on the tv that Trump has won the presidency. And my heart hurts for him as I watch him come to grips.

Namaste!

Mornin’ Joe

My morning cup of joe is what compels me to get out of bed. Sipping on my first cup of coffee is admittedly one of my favorite moments of the day, and I savor it. I’ve turned it into a whole ritual and while it’s brewing, I typically do some minor chores like make the bed, or empty the dishwasher, while anticipating my first cup. This morning, I change my routine up just a bit, and I like the change. So instead of doing my chores while the coffee is brewing, I practice yoga for 15 minutes doing a series of asanas in Sun Salutation.  And then, instead of getting on the Internet with that first cup, I grab my blanket, my steaming cup of coffee, and I head outside to enjoy this beautiful fall morning.

The air is crisp and cold. I settle in and take my time to be present with what is. I take a moment to focus on my breath as it enters and exits my nose. So cool going in, so warm, almost imperceptible as it leaves. Breathing, just breathing, in and out. I notice the warmth of my coffee mug as I cup it in my hands, and it’s steam rising in the air and mingling with my breath. I feel grateful for its warmth and the warmth of the handmade blanket I’m wrapped in, smiling at the memory that it was a gift from my grandsons. I notice my sense of gratitude for this perfect moment and a sense of longing for Chris, wishing he could be here with me. I’m reminded of this quote by Rick Hanson:

“By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience—even the comfort in a single breath—you’ll help turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure.”-from Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence.

I notice the trees and the rooftops glowing in the morning sunlight. I notice the powerful singing of the birds chorus with the noise of the distant highway traffic serving as a kind of harmony. It sounds like thousands of birds and sometimes more like a cacophony than a choir. I notice how it suddenly becomes quiet for just a few seconds, and then the singing starts again, first with just one solo voice, and then the entire chorus. I notice my curious thoughts. Why so many birds? Do they sing at this time of day every morning? What time is it? I glance at the time, 8am. I know this singing happens in the spring, yet here it is, late October in Western PA. Is this typical for this time of year? I notice the squirrels scampering in the trees. I watch them climb and stop as if navigating their next step and evaluating exactly how to make the leap to the next branch. Do they have fear of falling? I wonder if all of this Life is preparing for the coming winter months. I settle and practice half-smile. I sit up straighter, I reach the crown of my head for the sky. I relax my face. I turn my lips up gently into a half smile. I take a minute to smile with my eyes and observe the feeling of serenity that fills my being. A feeling of contentment and acceptance washes over me. Sitting. Breathing. Worry thoughts arise. Almost a dread of being robbed of these leisurely moments of contemplation when I get a job. I notice the thought and how this worry thought of the future is itself robbing me of this precious moment of the here and now. I focus again on my breath. In and out. In and out. I notice my breath. I notice this moment. I notice a sense of oneness and belonging, of simply being.

As I sit here and mindfully write of my morning practice, it seems to deepen my experience. It is a good feeling. It furthers my resolve to keep journaling, to keep blogging, to keep practicing mindfulness.