Tuesday, February 20, 2007

on my side

"be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side..."

"i'm on your side" we often hear one say to another and in the saying we offer our support to a friend, a colleague, a loved one. "i agree with you" is a bit of what we are saying.

the Universe is not careless in its expressions, not abstract in its messages. "be still my soul, the Lord is on thy side" seems to me to be a message for something deeper, something more true. the Lord is on thy side has become literal to me, opening to me the realization of the presence of the Universe right here, right now, at my side, just as a guardian angel who never leaves her babe.

during the past several days my understanding of the presence of the Source of Life being right here at my side, fully and literally, has begun a deeper shift in my own way of life. my path is unfolding under my feet and i am becoming more of who i am.

photography by permission

message in the music

someone once said to me, everything, absolutely everything, is a message. i have become committed to listening for the messages from the Universe in its direction for my own path. i listen for the messages in conversations around me, in signs and signals that seem to be illuminated as they come into view. this becomes my direction; this becomes my roadmap.

i love the sound of a single note, a perfect musical tone in wind instrument or string or piano, or in voice. one single perfect sound carries me to a spiritual place and moves me to tears and i am opened and i am cleansed. i often give myself music that connects me to the Universe.

as i was practicing yoga one day, a tune was poured from the speakers that caught my attention and i was immediately in love. following the class i sought out the teacher and asked who was the lovely voice on her cd. "
state of grace," she replied, and explained that she had purchased it that morning simply on the sound of its title. i went home, looked up the cd in my i-tunes store, and downloaded three or four of its best titles. i found the music to be peaceful and sweet as i went about my chores in my kitchen. this became my new favorite music. it was a beautiful gift from the Universe.

the next day i found myself having a bad day, a day feeling abandoned and alone, struggling with problems that had arisen from my new work and my new life. where were my messages? what was my direction? why did i feel so alone? in a moment i remembered my friend's words that everything, absolutely everything, is a message, and all the more so those things that become prominent to me, those things that are numinous. and what was numinous to me during this time was the music, the beautiful
state of grace music that i had playing in the kitchen. however, as much as i loved the melody and the tone, i had not looked into the lyrics. i decided to search my new music for messages.

i turned on my i-pod and listened as a piano began to play softly and slowly. "be still my soul...the Lord is on thy side," the words began, and i was surprised the music seemed to be sung solely for me. "stand calm within the storm of grief and pain." how could i have already listened to the songs several times without having studied their lyrics? "be still my soul when light you cannot see." what a perfect and lovely message was coming to me from the Universe through a yoga instructor that i didn't even know and never saw after that day, through a cd i didn't even own but only had in four songs on my i-pod. "trust in thy God to order and provide, through every change his faithful light remains. be still my soul, the restful peace within, through trying times leads to a joyful end."

i needed nothing more in the way of signs and wonders. be still my soul when light you cannot see...through every change his faithful light remains. i was not alone (cannot be alone), and in what seemed to feel like darkness, i was assured his faithful light (which remains true). the song reflected all the more clearly through every change his faithful light remains, and i knew no matter the changes going on in my life, i was supported and held. could an unexpected song from an unexpected place have been any more appropriate to my life?


but wait, the song also said trust in thy God to order and provide... i had never heard that expression before. we've all heard God provides...but trust God to order and provide? what a wonderful understanding filled me as i recognized that even when it seems nothing is working out, my life is being ordered from something Higher. i rested in the thought.

the next day i received an unexpected telephone call from an unlikely source and was asked to teach a course i haven't taught in three years. a contract lost became replaced with a contract received. and my life, as always, is ordered by the Universe and i am provided for. the truth is in the trust.

what are some of the messages coming through in your life? what might be trying to speak to you?

Monday, February 19, 2007

the practice of one relationship

the learning of a lesson is less in its reception and more in its practice. i am practicing what i write and i will attempt to tell its story here.

it happens to be that i was in a store seeking to purchase a printer, and as it happens to be, the customer service was extremely poor. amidst several promises that i would be helped soon, i wisely used my waiting time to read what was available and made my own decision on which printer to purchase, doing so without the aid of technical advice. i took my product code to the cashier and after waiting quite some time in line, finally gave the attendant my code. she checked her stock, told me the item was in the store, but also told me i must await a salesman to get it for me (the same salesmen who had made numerous promises i would be assisted "soon"). i waited. i waited. finally a gentleman became available. now, though, he had my code and assured me after checking that my selection was indeed in the store, but he was now busy searching everywhere to find my requested printer and i was waiting again. i had been in the store for quite some time and by now was growing angry, upset with the lack of service and mourning my time waiting. i wanted to denounce such poor management (and i wanted to complain to anyone around me).

suddenly i remembered how it is that everything around me and everything i experience is within one relationship. there is nothing else. in an instant i became detached from the circumstance and my anger disappeared. i spoke to the salesman (who happened to be the head of technical assistance) and said, "i think perhaps i am not supposed to buy a printer today. there is no need to look further." (as it is he had already searched the store thoroughly, checking everything twice.) he asked me to wait until he checked something one more time so i gave him a couple of minutes and then spoke to him again. "this is not my day to buy a printer and i shall go now." i thanked him kindly for his efforts to help me and i walked out. all the frustration and anger that had been collecting within me during my many stages of waiting were gone and i felt only peacefulness.

this experience is more a feeling and less a thought and i struggle to make it make sense on paper. but that which i perceive in the world around me is merely an expression of things going on in the inside of something else. the printer wasn't coming together for me at this time so i simply let it go and the frustration that had so overtaken me in the store now disappeared in a moment. i held no blame (as in truth there was none). it was not my place to voice a complaint (there are times appropriate for my assessment and viewpoint on how things are but this was not one of them). the Universe was not creating a printer for me on this day, and there was no need for me to blame this poor mis-managed store.

two days later my travels unexpectedly took me next door to a master storehouse of all things technical, and i quickly and easily purchased a printer, one superior to what i had chosen earlier. and i learned a lesson in listening within when the voice of frustration seeks to be heard.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

one relationship

my world has become seamless, unified, whole. i have come to realize (feeling, understanding, and experiencing it) the presence of a single relationship, that of my relationship with the Universe. there is nothing else. there...is...nothing...else. everything is a gift from and an expression of the Universe.

the words written in that one short paragraph express my most profound spiritual experience.


there is only the Universe and me. and since i, too, am an expression of the Universe, the final truth is there is only One, and i am part of that One.

i have always read and heard, and believed i knew, that everything comes from God. you probably know the scripture as well as i do that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." as well as many other such references.


understanding it more deeply...everything is that which is above. the meaning of these words has led me to so much more...i have only one relationship. everything else is an expression of this relationship. and my awareness of this changes everything and changes my response to everything.

i feel bereft...i struggle to put this profound experience into words.

every gift is from the Universe...and that would be so regardless of the judgment we place on such a gift. we judge "wealth" and "bankruptcy" very differently but both are gifts of experience and both bring lessons and opportunities to us. and every gift comes from above.

during the next days and weeks my writing will reflect how this awareness is playing out in my physical life. it's a little bit like this...when a disappointment comes my way i have no need to direct frustration onto the gift (the apparent cause of frustration) or even to become frustrated, but instead i go directly to the Source in a state of trust.

here is perhaps a more direct way to write of it...i entered my new year with the assurance of enough contracted work for the year that would be just enough for me to pay my bills. however, as january unfolded, the work began to fall away and january and february became a time with no income. my response was continued trust, and whenever i felt any emotions about it, i spoke of those emotions directly to the Universe rather than to the contractor, as both actions (the assurance of the work and the loss of the work) came from the Universe rather than from the contractor (who is also a gift from the Universe).

as it came to be, after i made the choice to leave my job and pursue my life's dream, some bonuses and unanticipated funds came into form. enough, as it turns out, to get me through january and february. i continue to be held by, supported by, and guided by the Universe.

words feel so completely inadequate to describe how i now experience life. it's a bit as though i sense the Universe on the "other side" of everything, shaping and creating everything that i see and hear, and my relationship with everything is in reality a relationship with the Source on the other side.

do you recall the movie Ghost when demi moore danced with patrick swayze through dancing with whoopi goldberg? that's kind of how i feel...when i dance with you or with a flower or with a scent or a sound, it is dancing with God through you or the flower or the scent or the sound.

this awareness does not absolve me of responsibility to my world and those in it. you see, if the Universe interacts with me through a person, my response to the Universe is through that same person. the Universe gives to me through a person and i give thanks to the Universe by expressing my thanks to that person (although i very well will also give thanks directly to the Universe). neglecting the person (the gift) is the same as neglecting the Universe.

i hope i am making sense to you, as this experience so fills me and guides me now.

photography by permission

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

greater trust

i wrote in my february 9 post practice that i seek greater trust in the Universe...a deeper practice of trust and a greater understanding of such trust.

i considered this very deeply. if i believe in something more than my physical self, if i believe in God, then what would it mean to trust this, truly trust what i believe, and what would that kind of trust feel like?

i have sought to live this kind of trust and now bring it into practice. it feels awkward to use the word "practice" regarding trust, for trust feels more like a way of being than it feels like a practice, which may sound to some like action. on the other hand, our actions are shaped by the presence or absence of trust.

i spent much of the past two years exploring spiritual places through my meditations, and the depth of my meditation experience has become the foundation for my state of trust. i now know how i am held by the Universe, how i am supported and guided, and that understanding has led to the birthing of trust.

i practice trust, but i could not do so without the silence or without listening closely. trust is an active practice in the sense that i must be attentive to my Guidance and to that which is within, not only in the work of listening for the Guidance but the willingness to follow its lead. it is a careful practice.

my writing of trust appears to be "spiritual talk" or perhaps some sort of philosophy, when in fact, the practice is quite physical. as a writer who is working at home without the assurance of a paycheck, my life is an expression of trust.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

recognizing aggression

i seek to recognize every element of aggression within me and allow it to melt away.

for a bit of time now i have engaged in the practice of feeling what a thing feels like on the inside, feeling its vibration. it is almost as though feeling the individual threads comprising a seamless masterpiece (the whole of what's inside). when i am attentive to what a thing feels like deep inside, i can feel if it is surrender or acceptance or resistance or aggression. aggression is, of course, a form of resistance, but it feels different in its intensity and purpose.

i began singling out the feeling of aggression when i practiced "driving meditations," the "16th street meditations" that i once enjoyed (i no longer drive down 16th street to an office). i began to identify the feeling of aggression when i used the gas pedal (much non-highway
use of acceleration is in the area of aggression). i felt what that vibration feels like and from there began to check it within myself.

an action within me that is an aggression may not be an act of aggression within you, and the same act can be performed from or not from a place of aggression. for example, i can go to the gym and work out (which i do often) and go home and eat a healthy meal, and it is done from a place of loving myself and loving my body. on the other hand, i can go to the gym and work out and then go home and eat a plate of healthy "diet" food but doing both from a place of hating how i look and desperately trying to "change" myself into something (seemingly) more lovely (which is something i used to do). this is an act of aggression whereas the previous description was an act of love. i cannot arbitrarily list what is an aggression and what is not without looking beneath the act. (many times, though, aggression is clearly felt and recognized.)

speed is an aggression--trying to "hurry up" anything is an aggression. imposing myself into or onto something is an aggression. the desire to change anything from a place of hatred is an aggression--only change sought through loving a thing is not aggression (such as changing an unhealthy habit to a healthy one). i am particularly attentive to listening within to determine whether encouraging myself to another workout is a challenge that will strengthen me or if it is an aggression that could harm me (i use this example because i work out so many times a week that i must listen carefully). loudness is an aggression (remembering, of course, that silently ignoring someone can be a form of aggression). for some of us, much, if not most, of our actions come from a place of aggression (because of a sense of desperation). aggression is become an accepted part of american life.

during this new year i will continue to observe my own forms of aggression and deepen my understanding of how aggression plays out in our lives. i will come back from time to time to add to my writing on this matter. i happen to live in an aggressive city (politics is practiced in aggression) in an aggressive nation and as i am part of the whole, i want to be attentive to such a practice.

photography by permission

Monday, February 12, 2007

finding silence

in a way, i "stumbled" into my practice of silence (though "coincidence" is a myth). in a separate study i was observing my tendency toward an addiction to stimulation (one i share with the american culture), and i began the practice of reducing stimulation in my daily routines. i began to feel what i was feeling every time i reached for the radio dial during my workday, and each time i reached for the radio dial, i would stop myself and instead hear the silence. i discovered that "listening" to the silence is an activity that is different from simply being surrounded by silence. i took the practice home and began actively listening to silence as a meditation. and i entered a deep and profound world.

as i came into the practice of silence, life around me began to shift and soon led to the changes that brought me to this place of freedom from debt and obligation, which became the freedom to do just what i want to do. i need to express, however, that for me the practice of silence is not a "tool" for "getting" (that feels like consumption). the practice of silence for me is one of surrender, not one of strategy. pure and profound silence is inconsistent with desire and want. it is not a place of request. i do not want to mislead anyone into considering the practice of silence as a means to receive but i do want to acknowledge that the world around me seems to come into greater alignment as i continue the practice of silence. i will continue to explore other elements that are present such as surrender and trust (one could, of course, have a very different experience with silence if variables are different).

despite its rich gifts (or perhaps because of them), the practice of silence is a discipline that calls for my mindfulness to keep it present in my life.

may i be ever mindful to spend part of each day in silence.

sounds

it seems to me...

when we begin to increase the volume of that which is around us, our music and such, it is a signal that something on the inside seeks to be listened to. we reach for the dial to turn up the volume to hear something more. it is not something "out there" that wants to be heard, but rather something on the inside. in someone's more troubled times, you might notice him turning up the volume (sometimes, even, to drown out a voice of despair). our solace, however, is in spending time listening to the silence in such times, and listening to that which is within.

when we are more connected to the voice of the Universe, when we practice listening intently to our Spirit, we need less volume in that which is around us.

or so it seems to me.

i hope one day i have better words to describe what i am learning in the practice of silence.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

silence

it used to be i found it difficult to experience a thing without telling of it, and i knew a thing more by how i spoke of it. in a way, it seems, i experienced myself from the outside in.

these days, though, i experience a thing and struggle to find words to express it. my experience is from the inside out.

my silence is become more profound. i know there be some who would suggest silence is the absence of sound but oh, silence is more a presence and less an absence. silence is what is; it is from whence all else comes. i spend some time every day in deep silence, usually with ear plugs. it is become my place of residence. if i am too long away from this, i become less of who i am. you have undoubtedly heard, or perhaps have used, the expression "i just wasn't myself"...in the silence, this is where one becomes found, and too long away leads to "not being myself" or at least not fully so.

silence is the place of creation, from whence all else comes. if you want a thing created, go to the silence.

i meditate. sometimes i lie on my back and listen to the sound of my own heartbeat. i live on the edge of tears. i give thanks.

and each day, i practice silence.

photography by permission

Friday, February 09, 2007

practice

once upon a time it was that in the beginning of a year i set goals. resolutions, i called them, just like you perhaps.

this year i am not about making resolutions, at least not in an outcome-oriented kind of way. this year i am about practice.

instead of looking to see what i would like to achieve, during january i spent quite some time looking at what i would like to practice. instead of exploring what i want to do, i sought to know how i would like to be. what do i seek to practice.

after all is said and done, we are what we practice. we are not a thing achieved but instead we are the practice. what we practice is what we become.

what do i want to practice this year?

i seek to become ever more mindful, and as much as lieth within me, to be fully present in the moment that holds me. this is my rightful place. this is my place of wholeness.

i seek to enlarge the awareness of my own intentions (which is a part of mindfulness), especially in recognizing from where i am acting. in any moment am i coming from a place of ego or from a place of Spirit?

i seek to become less resistant. i seek to watch myself and observe every subtle form of resistance, for resistance is the heart of every struggle, the underpinning of every anguish. there is no suffering without resistance. and my work to be in ever less judgment, this is part of being less resistant, for judgment is a form of resistance.

i seek greater connection to my own Intuition, a practice of deep listening to and trusting (knowing) my Intuition.

i seek greater trust in the Universe, a deeper practice and greater understanding of such trust.

i seek silence as a daily practice, for herein i touch the deepest part of the Universe.

i will be deepening a number of spiritual practices during the coming weeks and will bring them to these pages, but these present my foundation, as all else extends from these.

this is my resolution.

may i be ever faithful to my own practice.


photography by permission

Thursday, February 08, 2007

2007, a whole new year

as the calendar turned from 2006 to 2007, my life took upon changes for which i am deeply grateful.

this is my fiftieth new year and what better time is there than now to deepen my experience and become more faithful to my own path.

on the last day of 2006 i left my secure job to come home to pursue my writing and my speaking. i contracted that I will train an audience one week each month and i will then write and edit during the remaining three weeks. this is more wonderful a gift than i can find words to express. i have cried many tears with much joy in this gift from the Universe. to be free to do what my heart desires…there is no greater gift.

in continuation of changes to support my life’s work, during the month of january i became debt free for perhaps the first time in my life. my heart is filled to overflowing even now in my putting those words into print. while we often feel that circumstances and events happen “to” us, we all know that we create our world and our experience. i have suffered the experience of debt, of obligation. it seems to me we take on debt in a similar fashion to our taking on unnecessary weight of any kind (such as body weight or clutter weight or task weight). i had created for me a world of obligation and finally in this fiftieth year i am debt free at the same time i am become free of obligation to a boss or to a corporate clock. i am humbly thankful for so great a gift.

i want to share with you as my journey progresses this year and as i struggle to learn (for indeed learning and growing continue to be a struggle). i want to share many of my lessons along the way. my purpose in this post is to let you know the underpinning of my current experience, and my continued writing will be to discuss some of what is opening up to me.

someone discovered how it is that i am at home pursuing the work i love, and she queried if i am “independently wealthy.” i smiled, for i have no such wealth (in truth my courage is bigger than my bank book and my faith is bigger than both). but i have the wealth of enough money to get started (and with no debt) and i have work scheduled along the way to continue on this path. i am of necessity more frugal than i have been in a long time, but even this seems to be a holy practice. i am much more mindful of all that i spend and all that i consume. how important a practice this.

along with the writing and editing, i have made a commitment to physical fitness (it is also part of a writing project). i began the year with a cycling class and each week added a new discipline until now i am in my full program. every week i have several sessions each of cycling, yoga, weight lifting, and swimming. some of my messages from the Universe come through my fitness practice and from my teachers of such.

in the beginning of january i felt an incredible sense of freedom. i was surprised by how profound a freedom i felt in not being obligated to an office, to a timeclock, to an employer. i have settled into less exuberance in my freedom but continue my awareness of its profound gift.

while i am in a most beautiful place, it is not without struggle. on the first day of the new year i suffered food poisoning. i was terribly ill and in some of my moments i felt i would surely die. i spent several hours in extreme pain until the room began to spin and i fell to the floor. suddenly on this first day i thought about the fact that i had not yet paid for my new health insurance and in this moment i realized what it must feel like for someone unemployed or someone outside that net of safety. it was a horrible feeling knowing that whatever was wrong with me could cost me more than i could repay in the rest of my lifetime if i had to go to the hospital (and i could certainly be in debt forever). fortunately i did not require medical attention, i survived my excruciating pain, and several days later i recovered from its lingering effects of dehydration and such. (and i bought my health insurance under which i am covered for the next several months.) i then went about looking for some of the messages contained within this experience and one is that of a call to my attention to what i am eating…what i am taking in whether it is something i am eating or reading or hearing. be attentive to what is allowed into me, that it be holy and pure, that it be such as to contribute to the intention of my journey.

and my year begins….

beautiful photography by permission

Monday, February 05, 2007

a blessing

today i gave a ride to a stooped old lady. i was going to my yoga class, headed down a side street, when i saw her standing outside her home in the bitter cold, something near nine degrees cold. she stood on her concrete steps and waved at me as though she were expecting me and i rolled down my window to say hello. i don’t know her, really, though i met her several times during early morning walks a year ago. her name is anna. she said, “can you take me?” and i answered, “yes.” i didn’t know where she wanted to go and i wondered if i would be late for my yoga class but at the same time i knew that giving this woman a ride was the only thing to do. you might say it was a nice thing to do or maybe even the right thing to do. i simply know it was the only thing to do.

when she got into my car she asked me my name and i told her, “diana…diana christine.” every time i meet her she asks me my
name and every time she asks i don’t mind telling her. she is a very old woman. she can barely speak english and my spanish is poor but i understood her to say she wanted to go to church. not the church across the street but still, one that was only a few blocks away. i was happy to take her to church. she explained that she is from ecuador but i couldn’t understand anything else she was trying to say to me (i can speak a lot more spanish than i can understand when another speaks to me). we smiled a lot and talked about how cold it is. at least that is what i think we talked about.

when we arrived at the church she asked me to bless her, and in fact, she wouldn’t get out of the car until i blessed her. i stumbled through a blessing but she kept saying, “bless me.” i thought perhaps she wanted me to make the sign of the cross (which i don’t know because i am not catholic) so i tried to do that but it seems i didn’t do it right and she shook her head and again she said, “bless me.” finally in her exasperation she said thank you, and climbed out of the car.

after she left i prayed that she be warm, that she be comforted and be at peace, that she feel her own strength. i prayed her blessing. alone in the quiet of my car, i blessed anna in all that she is and all that she would be. i think this time i got it right.

perhaps it is that the wizened part of me, the “old girl” part of me, seeks a blessing. perhaps a part of me seeks honor, seeks to be lifted, seeks to be comforted or strengthened or gifted. and maybe it is that another part of me seeks to rise to the occasion and proffer the blessing. i will keep trying until i get it right.

for today, perhaps the most important thing i did today or maybe the only important thing i did today, was give an old woman a ride in the bitter cold and offer her my blessing.


photography by permission